How to stop Ubuntu from sending your desktop searches to online retailers

When you install Ubuntu the Unity desktop will send your searches over the web by default, showing you products you can purchase from Amazon and other retailers, including eBay. Oh, you searched for Firefox? Did you mean you wanted to purchase a Mountain Equipment Men’s Firefox Jacket from Amazon? No thanks, Ubuntu—I just wanted to launch Firefox.

This is an obnoxious and privacy-concerning feature, and Canonical has been raked over the coals for it by the EFF. They’ll finally be dropping it in the next version of Unity, Unity 8. But Unity 8 needs a lot of work and won’t arrive on desktops until Ubuntu 16.04 in April 2016—Canonical is more focused on Ubuntu for smartphones in the short term.

There’s no need to wait. Here’s how to strip the annoying shopping search results out today, be it with a sledgehammer or with a scalpel.

Disable all online search results

There’s a graphical option that lets you disable all online search features, but as the name implies, it removes all the online search results—some of which you might want.

This option is available in Ubuntu’s System Settings window. Click the gear icon at the top-right corner of your screen and select System Settings to open it. Click the Security Privacy icon, and click over to the Search tab. Under “When searching in the Dash,” set the “Include online search results” slider to “Off.” Easy!

disable online search results in unity dash

The option to disable all online search results in Ubuntu’s Unity 8. (Click to enlarge.)

If you just want to search your local computer and never see online search results, this option works well. Despite the vague naming, this option also prevents your computer from sending your searches over the Internet. It doesn’t just hide the search results.

What if you only want to hide shopping results? Read on.

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Remove only shopping search results

In Ubuntu 14.04, Unity’s Amazon search integration is no longer part of a specific package, so you can’t just uninstall the “shopping lens” package anymore. Instead, use the below command to disable the Amazon plug-in and other shopping plug-ins.

You’ll need to do this from a terminal window. Open a Terminal by opening the Dash and performing a search for “Terminal.” Yes, you’ll see advertisements for the movie “The Terminal” on Amazon, but just click the icon that opens the Terminal application on your computer.

Copy and paste the following command into the Terminal window, and then press Enter:

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Lenses disabled-scopes "['more_suggestions-amazon.scope', 'more_suggestions-u1ms.scope', 'more_suggestions-populartracks.scope', 'music-musicstore.scope', 'more_suggestions-ebay.scope', 'more_suggestions-ubuntushop.scope', 'more_suggestions-skimlinks.scope']"

That’s it! You’re done. You don’t even have to reboot. And, while you’re at it, feel free to right-click the Amazon icon that comes on Unity’s launcher and select Unlock from Launcher. This will remove the icon and free up some space.

remove amazon icon from launcher

Buh-bye, Amazon.

If you’re not a fan of Unity in general, you can just use another desktop environment. Variations of Ubuntu like Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu, and others don’t use the Unity desktop, and they don’t have the shopping search stuff built in. That’s just part of the default Unity desktop, not the Ubuntu project as a whole.

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Meizu teases its Ubuntu-powered MX4 for MWC 2015

We knew that Ubuntu Phones were coming from Spain’s bq and China’s Meizu, so the only question really was “when?”. With bq revealing the Aquaris E4.5 early this month, it was only a matter of time before others followed suit. It seems that Meizu will be taking advantage of MWC next week to do just that. It has just “teased” over at its Twitter account a Meizu MX4 that, without a sliver of a doubt, is running Ubuntu Phone instead of its own custom Android ROM.

Truth be told, there is nothing left to tease. This is more of a formal acknowledgment that an Ubuntu Phone device will still be coming from the manufacturer. That said, it does settle one question that has been lingering among those waiting for this particular device: which of Meizu’s smartphone will be chosen to bear Ubuntu‘s mobile platform?

Sadly, it is not the MX4 Pro, despite some rumors pointing to it. It would have been nice indeed, considering that smartphone boasted of many high-end specs, including a 5.5-inch 2K resolution screen, an octa-core Exynos 5430 (same as the Samsung Galaxy Alpha), and 3 GB of RAM. That said, in comparison to the bq Aquaris, the Meizu MX4 is definitely no underdog. There’s a 5.36-inch Full HD panel, a 2.2 GHz octa-core MediaTek CPU, 2 GB of RAM, and a 20.7 megapixel rear camera sensor from Sony.

Those specs are likely to really make Ubuntu Phone shine. This newcomer to the mobile platform race brings a bit of novelty to the game, perhaps enough to boost some initial interest in it. Unlike Android or iOS, the user interaction doesn’t simply revolve around apps. Instead, Ubuntu employs the concept of “Scopes” or cards that group not just apps but also services, content, and even files. A Music Scope, for example, will show you your tracks as well as access to services like Spotify.

Now that all has been pretty much revealed about the Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Phone edition, all that’s left is availability and pricing. The teaser comes via the OEM’s English account, so there is hope that it will be available internationally. We’ll know more once MWC 2015 starts next week.

SOURCE: @Meizu

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Ubuntu Linux 15.04 Vivid Vervet Beta 1 is here! Which flavor will you savor?


Ubuntu is one of, if not the best, Linux distributions for beginners. Why? It is easy to install and easy to learn. In other words, it is not a daunting affair like some other distros. With that said, it is a great Linux-based operating system for experts too.

As great as Ubuntu is, the Unity desktop environment isn’t for everyone. Today, the first betas of Ubuntu 15.04 are made available, and Unity is nowhere to be found. As is customary lately, it is only the other desktop environments, or flavors, that get to shine for beta testers. Which flavor of Ubuntu 15.04 Vivid Vervet Beta 1 will you taste?

“Pre-releases of the Vivid Vervet are *not* encouraged for anyone needing a stable system or anyone who is not comfortable running into occasional, even frequent breakage. They are, however, recommended for Ubuntu flavour developers and those who want to help in testing, reporting and fixing bugs as we work towards getting this release ready”, says the Ubuntu release team.

The team further explains, “while these Beta 1 images have been tested and work, except as noted in the release notes, Ubuntu developers are continuing to improve the Vivid Vervet. In particular, once newer daily images are available, system installation bugs identified in the Beta 1 installer should be verified against the current daily image before being reported in Launchpad. Using an obsolete image to re-report bugs that have already been fixed wastes your time and the time of developers who are busy trying to make 15.04 the best Ubuntu release yet. Always ensure your system is up to date before reporting bugs”.

It is never recommended to install pre-release software on production machines. If you want to test Vivid Vervet, I would suggest doing so in a virtual machine or on a spare hard drive. If you do decide to try it, you can choose the flavor of your desire below.

If you have a fairly new machine, my suggestion is GNOME, as it offers the most consistent experience. With that said, Kubuntu, which uses KDE, is quite nice too, but it can be slightly overwhelming.

For those of you with less powerful computers, Xubuntu is my recommendation, with Ubuntu Mate closely following. Lubuntu is a passable lightweight desktop environment, but far too basic and boring to be recommended.



Ubuntu GNOME

Ubuntu Mate


Photo CreditYuriy Rudyy / Shutterstock

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Juniper Partners Contrail Cloud Platform with Canonical OpenStack

The new platform is an extension of an existing partnership between Juniper Networks and Canonical.

“Juniper has been selling a product called Contrail Cloud that is powered by Ubuntu from base server operating system point of view,” Ankur Singla, corporate vice president and general manager, cloud software at Juniper Networks, told Enterprise Networking Planet. “With this announcement, customers will benefit from OpenStack, Linux, and networking support coming jointly from Canonical and Juniper.”

Singla was a founder at Contrail Systems, which was acquired by Juniper for $176 million in December of 2012. Juniper has since expanded on the technology and has made it available as open-source.

Singla added that the partnership with Canonical is focused on selling a complete carrier-class OpenStack solution that can be supported from either Juniper or Canonical. From a go-to-market perspective, Singla said that the sales teams on both sides already have a program in place to execute on joint deals, and a revenue share agreement has been put in place to make the entire sale frictionless.

One of the key benefits that Canonical’s Ubuntu OpenStack and Linux platforms offer is the Juju orchestration system that makes deployment and management of applications easier. Singla noted that Contrail Cloud has always come with a server management solution that allows customers to easily deploy and monitor many clusters of OpenStack in a highly simplified manner. He added that Server Manager was developed leveraging Puppet for provisioning and Contrail Analytics for monitoring. That said, Singla noted that Juniper has worked with Canonical to add Juju-charms support to allow for simplified deployment of Contrail Networking and Canonical OpenStack.

John Zannos, Vice President, cloud channels and alliances at Canonical, told Enterprise Networking Planet that the Contrail charm is currently under development.

“The intention is to develop a solution where Contrail networking features can be deployed and managed via the one-click build-a-cloud process Autopilot,” Zannos said. “The solution will be made available in scenarios where Canonical’s distribution of OpenStack is being deployed.”

Zannos added that Canonical will be developing a “white-labelled” (Juniper-branded) version of Autopilot, which will be SKU’d for Juniper direct and channel sales.

While Canonical’s OpenStack platform has broad applicability for a range of cloud workloads, the joint solution with Juniper has a focus on NFV.

“Contrail Cloud is currently being used in Enterprise and Service Provider cloud environments,” Singla said. “NFV is one of the targeted markets where carrier grade availability, reliability, and supportability is a key requirement and this announcement is focused on that.”

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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Ubuntu MATE joins the Ubuntu family

Ubuntu 15.04 Vivid Vervet is set to launch in April, but if you like living on the edge you can try the first beta version of the operating system, which was released today. Well, sort of.

There are several different official flavors of Ubuntu. The main version uses the Unity desktop environment, and while you can download the latest nightly builds of that branch, there’s no official beta version.

But there are beta versions of Ubuntu with the KDE, Xfce, LXDE, and GNOME desktop environments. And for the first time, Ubuntu MATE is an official flavor.

ubuntu mate

MATE is a desktop environment that’s based on the discontinued GNOME 2 project. It’s been one of the default options for Linux Mint users since 2012, and the desktop environment is also available for other operating systems including Fedora, Arch, and OpenSUSE.

An unofficial version of Ubuntu MATE has been in development for a little while, but Ubuntu MATE 15.04 beta 1 is the first release that’s considered an official version of Ubuntu. That means all of its components are now in the Ubuntu repositories which should make it easier for users to keep their software up to date.

If you want a closer look at what Ubuntu MATE looks like, what new features are included in the latest beta, and what known issues still need to be worked out, Web Upd8 has a pretty good overview or you can check out the Ubuntu Mate release notes.

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Meizu teases the MX4 Ubuntu edition for the MWC

The second Ubuntu phone is on its way and it’s a version of the Meziu MX4. There’s not a lot of info right now but the company has released a teaser image showing three MX4 phones showing a glimpse of the mobile Linux OS.

The phone will be unveiled at the MWC and the tagline is a rather optimistic “More than better.” We’ll have to wait until the event to find out a launch date and price, though if we had to guess it will launch soon at a similar price to the regular MX4.

Unlike the BQ Aquaris E4.5, the Meizu MX4 is a much more premium affair – it has a 5.36″ IPS screen with 1,152 x 1,920px, an octa-core processor (Cortex-A17 + A7 big.LITTLE) and 20.7MP camera with 2160p video.

Normally, it runs Flyme 4.0 based on Android 4.4 KitKat, but there’s also a Yun OS version. That’s Android again, but customized by Alibaba.

Source | Via

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7 awesome paid iPhone apps you can download for free right now

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After giving you our biggest list of the week on Wednesday, we’re back with another great list of paid iPhone and iPad apps that are currently on sale for free. There are still a few nice apps available for free in yesterday’s list if you hurry, but today we have a fresh new batch of sales for you to enjoy.

Just remember, these great deals could end at any time so be sure to get a move on if you want to take advantage of them!

DON’T MISS: Is the Galaxy S6 really an iPhone ripoff? Leaked comparison photo lets you be the judge

These are paid iPhone and iPad apps that have been made available for free for a limited time by their developers. There is no way to tell how long they will be free. These sales could end an hour from now or a week from now — obviously, the only thing we can guarantee is that they were free at the time this post was written. If you click on a link and see a price listed next to an app instead of the word “get,” it is no longer free. The sale has ended. If you download the app, you will be charged.


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Normally $0.99.

LightBoxr is the next evolution in photo editing applications. Lightboxr is packed with retouch tools, special effects, and filters that makes your photo look more gorgeous.
You can even make your own recipes and handle a bunch of images easily. ’Shuffle’ ‘Multi-Edit’ also can handle tons of your photo faster than any other apps with single touch and free you from the repetitive works.

This app supports professional-grade photo editing functionality but is designed for the casual iPhone user.

– Shuffle: Randomly apply new effects to your photo with one touch
– Recipe: Find a look you like? Save it as a favorite and re-apply to your next photo with one touch
– Multi-Edit : You can load your max 10 images at once and apply it with awesome effects.

– Full Manual controls for Exposure (ISO, Shutter Speed), Focus(Auto, Manual) White Balance (Preset, Manual).
– Volume Shot
– Timer
– Horizon Indicator
– Front Rear Camera Selection
– 3×3 Grid
– Flash

– 66 Filters
– 17 Light Leaks
– 15 Noises
– 14 Frames/Borders

– HDR (Supports 2 Types)
– Tilt Shift (Supports 2 Types)
– Sharpen (Supports 2 Types)
– Vignette

– Brightness (Fade)
– Contrast
– Saturation
– RGB Channels
– White Balance
– Temperature
– Shadow Adjust
– Highlight Adjust
– Exposure
– Gamma
– Vivid Environment (Vibrance)

– Straiten
– Crop
– Rotate
– Flip (vertical horizontal)

Share with your friends
– Export to Instagram
– Facebook
– Twitter
– Tumblr
– Flickr

Download LightBoxr

Calendar Widget Lite

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Normally $2.99.

See the current month Calendar and your events for the next 7 days without open a new app.
Put a small calendar in your Today Notification Center to display events from Calendar.
– Choose the first day of week.
Easy and simple.

Check the help page if you need assistance or send a email to

The full version also includes:
– See past, current and future events from your Calendar.
– Personalize with 10 themes.
– Choose your own custom background.
– 3 widgets.
– 2 styles: flat and default.

Download Calendar Widget Lite


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Normally $0.99.

The best and simplest photo editing studio is now available on the App Store!

With Phot.oLab you can add beautiful artwork, backgrounds, stickers typography.

Apply special filters, shapes, textures, photo effects overlay masks to your favorite photos. Using the advanced adjustment module you can customize your pictures exactly how you want to look like.

Brand new content including fonts, shapes, filters, overlays and much more added monthly!


√ Typography
– Add your favorite quote to your pictures from a beautiful collection of custom fonts
– Resize adjust the opacity of your text

√ Stickers artwork
– Select your favorite artwork, stickers and overlay masks from a various collection and add them directly to your photos.
– Adjust the opacity of your stickers artwork

√ Textures
– Apply wonderful textures from a great collection.
– Adjust the opacity of your textures
– Rotate your textures to your desired position

√ Shapes
– Choose a shape to add to your photos
– Adjust the opacity of your shapes
– Change the color of them

√ Professional Photo Filters
– Use the best filters from a unique collection available

√ Advanced Adjustment Module
– Adjust your picture brightness, contrast, saturation and exposure from the most completed adjustment module.

√ Other details
– Select from 3 different themes to customize
– Export your photos to directly to Photo Library, share them from Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, E-Mail, WhatsApp, SMS or open them from other apps

Download Phot.oLab


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Normally $0.99.

Start runs quickly. Get moving and watch yourself improve. Detailed run tracking helps you lose weight or stay fit. Train for nearby races, then make the commitment and register. Go for a run with Runr.

Featured by Apple in Health Fitness “Apps For Your Run”.

No delays. Stop fiddling with settings, presets, and playlists – just GO. It’s easy to see how far, fast, or long you’re going during a run (no more squinting or stopping to see the screen during a run – YAY!).

Train for your next Marathon or 5K with Runr. View races in your area, get the scoop, see who else is going, and then make the commitment: REGISTER!

Check your progress and watch yourself improve through beautiful distance and pace graphs. See past routes, distance, time, calories, and pace. Runr works with Apple Health on iOS 8 so you can get an overview of your health with the Health App.

Your run details, route, location, and personal information is never shared or uploaded or broadcasted. Everything is completely private. Unlike other running apps (which broadcast your location on social media and across various servers), Runr gives you complete control over your data.

Hear spoken feedback during your run about distance, time, calories, and pace. It works great when your iPhone is locked too. You’ll even get updates via Notification Center during your run.

As you run, you’ll earn achievements and climb leaderboards. Runr has 25+ achievements that encourage more running, at different times, and in different places. Climb seven different leaderboards to compare yourself globally and with your friends.

– Unlimited Run Storage (limited to 10 runs without Premium)
– Unlimited Nearby Races (filtered at 5 races without Premium)
– In-Run Music Playback
– Pace Colored Routes
– All Future Updates (iCloud Syncing and Goals coming soon)

Runr Premium is available for $0.99/month or $3.99/year. You can subscribe and pay through your iTunes account. Your subscription will automatically renew unless cancelled at least 24 hours before the end of the current period. Auto-renew may be turned off by going to your Account Settings after purchase. A free-trial period may be provided and can be optionally forfeited by starting the service earlier than scheduled.

Download Runr

iDownloader Pro

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Normally $2.99.

We believe that downloading to your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad should be as easy as it is on your computer. That is why we created iDownloader Pro.

Now you can easily download files from the web to your i-Device and then view/play the downloaded files.

iDownloader Pro Key Features:

√ Web browser

– Built in Ad-Blocker!
– Multi-tab Safari-like browser
– Tap and hold to force download
– Full screen mode
– Bookmark manager
– Ability to spoof browser’s user-agent
– HTTP authorization support
– Private browsing
– Search History
– Browsing history
– UTF addresses support
– Pop-UP blocker

√ Web Password Keeper integrated with in-app Web Browser (NEW!)

– Allows to Login into any website in just 3 taps
– Saves and manages as many user profiles for each website as you want
– Exclusions list allows switch off saving your passwords for selected websites
Note: to start the Web Password Keeper, please switch it “On” in the app’s Settings

√ Download manager

– Ultra fast downloading speed
– Up to 50 simultaneous downloads
– Download in background mode (10 min max due to iOS restrictions)
– Supports resumption of interrupted downloads
– Download Files over 3G

√ Media player

– Background Playback
– Video playback of mp4, m4v, mov, 3gp m3u8 videos
– Thumbnails view
– Export videos to Camera Roll
– AirPlay support (iOS 4.2 or above)
– Playlists
– Save the Video play position

√ File manager

– Dropbox Integration
– Folder and sub-folder support
– Move, rename and delete files
– Sorting by name, type, size, date
– Extract zip rar archives
– Sort files in ascending or descending order

√ File viewer

– Full-Featured Photo Viewer with slideshows
– Full-Featured Document Viewer that supports .pdf, .doc, .xls, .ppt, .txt, .html and .rtf file formats
– Video Viewer with Slideshow capabilities
– Open Files in other apps

iDownloader Pro is constantly updated with new features. If there is anything you would like to see in the application, just drop us an email through the “Send Suggestion” link in the app’s “Settings” and we will do our best to add this feature in our next app update.

Download iDownloader Pro


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Normally $1.99.

Weightbot is a weight-tracking robot. Whether you are trying to lose (or gain) weight, tracking your progress has never been more fun. Set your goal, record your weight, view your BMI, and see your progress on a beautiful graph. Weightbot was designed for everyone to use.


* Input your weight up to once a day with a streamlined user interface
* Easily change or remove your weight from any day
* Instantly view your BMI as you set your weight
* Set your goal weight to know where the finish line is
* Rotate clockwise to view your weight over time on a beautiful and easy to read graph
* Rotate counterclockwise to view the goal view. It let’s you see you quickly see your progress towards your weight loss/gain goals
* Toggle units between lbs/kg for weight and ft/cm for height
* Set a numeric passcode to protect your data from being viewed by others

Visit for demos and more information.

Download Weightbot

Printer Pro

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Normally $6.99.

Print attachments, documents, web pages and more right from your iPhone and iPad to any Wi-Fi or USB printer.

Printer Pro lets you wirelessly print from the iPad or iPad. It can print directly to many Wi-Fi printers or any printer attached to your Mac or PC via helper application installed on your computer.

Once installed, Printer Pro appears in the “Open In…” list on your device. This lets you print documents from Mail, PDF Expert and many other applications on your iPad that supports this function.

Using “Open In…” approach you can print files from many popular online storages: Dropbox and Google Drive. It just a matter of several taps to download your file via free Dropbox or Google Drive application and send it to printer.

To print a web page, just change “http” to “phttp” in the address bar in Safari and tap Go. The page will immediately be opened in the Printer Pro with print button right above your finger. You can print web based documents as well using this approach.

With Printer Pro you can print:

– Email Attachments

– iWork documents

– Web pages

– Files from other applications

– Clipboard content

– Photos

– Documents on Dropbox and Google Drive

– Contacts

◆ Printer Pro Desktop
Get the free helper application for your computer to print more document types and with better quality. You can download it at

◆ List of supported document formats
PDF, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, TXT, HTML, JPG, Safari webarchive

Download Printer Pro

More from BGR: Is the Galaxy S6 really an iPhone ripoff? Leaked comparison photo lets you be the judge

This article was originally published on

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Brands urged to do more to stop ‘predatory pricing’ in next gTLD round

Tim Lince

Elisa Cooper, vice president of domain product marketing for MarkMonitor, has urged brands to do more to encourage ICANN to tackle predatory pricing during new gTLD sunrise periods. Failure to do so may mean that trademark owners are further held to ransom during the second wave of new gTLDs.

She told World Trademark Review that it’s “not uncommon” for sunrise registration prices to be 10 times higher than the price of the general availability price for a domain, but that she has recently noticed sunrise pricing as high as 50 times the general availability price. This predatory pricing by gTLD registries is “really concerning,” she adds. “The problem is that there’s no notion of what is allowed in terms of pricing in the registry agreement, and what should and should not be charged. ICANN has no oversight over that. So if it’s occurring, there’s really nothing that can be done from a contractual or ICANN perspective.”

With this in mind, during the current gTLD rollout, if a brand owner spots an over-inflated sunrise registration price, one option is to plead with the registry directly – something that MarkMonitor has done, albeit with mixed results. “It’s possible to contact the registry and say, ‘this price is really not in the spirit of the gTLD program, are you sure you want to proceed with this?’, and in some cases we’ve been successful in getting the registries to reconsider their pricing,” she observes. “There are cases where a registry makes a mistake and it shouldn’t be at the stated price, or where they’re willing to sell at a lower price if you’re willing to actually use the domain instead of just defensively registering it.”

Absent such co-operation, the next option is to wait for general availability and secure domains at a lower cost, but this runs the risk that someone else registering the targeted domains before you. “Brand owners are really stuck between a rock-and-a-hard-place,” Cooper says, “but some brands are just simply saying ‘no, we are not paying that, absolutely not’.”

With ICANN preparing for the next round of gTLDs (predicted to launch around 2018), a series of reviews are planned through the next year on topics such as rights protection mechanisms and consumer choice (in  terms of the former, a public comment period is currently underway on the Draft Report: Rights Protection Mechanisms Review) . Cooper says she expects policy development processes will follow these reviews, which highlights the importance of brands engaging with ICANN to make sure the issue of predatory pricing is highlighted and, hopefully, addressed.

As to how to get involved now, beyond the current comment period, she concludes: “The time for brands to do something is right now. Brand owners can participate by sending comments when the reviews are posted, joining ICANN’s gTLD discussion group to explain the types of problems they’ve been having, and also join one of the constituencies such as the business or intellectual property one, to ensure that their voices are heard.”

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Google Wins The new gTLD .APP For $25 Million

The new gTLD .APP sold for $25 Million to Google today in a ICANN Last Resort Auction which I think is very good news for the new gTLD program in general.

This is the highest price paid in an ICANN Last Resort Auction.

It looks like Google was willing to pay over $30 Million based on the info published by ICANN today

The previously high price paid for a new gTLD in an ICANN Last Resort Auction was $6,760,000 which was paid by Radix for .Tech.

Radix was also a bidder for .APP

.APP had the largest number of new gTLD applicants of all new gTLD’s.

There were 13 companies that applied to operate the new gTLD .APP. One applicant withdrew their application months ago leaving 12 applicants.

This is only the 11th new gTLD contention set to be settled at an ICANN Last Resort Auction.

Most of the new gTLD extensions that had more than one applicant were settled in “private” auctions.

While, the results of private auctions are not disclosed, but since some of the participants in these auctions are public company’s there have been some good guesses as to how much the new gTLD’s have sold for in private auctions.

The highest price paid in a private auction has been reported to be around $20-$25 Million.

The proceeds of private auctions are basically split amongst the other applicants or losing bidders while at the ICANN auction all the proceeds go to ICANN (except for auctioneer fees).

ICANN took in almost $35 Million in the ten Last Resort Auctions that took place previous to the auction for .APP

.App had 12 bidders;

APP Registry Inc (Cayman Islands)




DotApp Inc

Famous Four


Merchant Law Group LLP

Minds + Machines


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Here Is Our Run Down As New gTLD’s Top 4.5 Million Registrations

.Science added another 14K+ domain names registrations yesterday in its second day of general availability, putting the number of new gTLD registrations over the 4.5 million mark.

New gTLD registrations still have a large percentage of free, almost free, very low cost and related party registrations.

.Science domain names which just launched two days ago, are still being registered for free at now has registered 26,656 of the 27,500 .Science domain names or over 96% of all .Science domain names.

In two days .Science has grow to the 27th most registered new gTLD domain extension.

A Pierre-Eli Normandeau, of Canada who had not registered any new gTLD until .Science came out has now registered almost 7,500 domains.

Of course by offering free domains you get people registering domains like:

The total number of new gTLD’s have now topped 4.5 Million according to

We haven’t looked at the numbers in a while.

Some notable movers.

.XYZ has topped the 800,000 mark and now sits at over 803,000 registrations including those 370,000 or so free .XYZ domain names that were stuffed into Network Solutions account holders. Those domains will not auto renew.

The IDN of .网址 (xn--ses554g) is still the second most registered new gTLD but they are all at the registry level not sold to third parties

.Club is adding hundreds of registrations on a daily basis and is now approaching 190,000 registrations.

.Realtor which has been offered to the 1M+ “realtors” for free has over 91,000 registrations

.Guru has now passed 80,000 registrations sitting at over 82,000 registrations the most successful of any Donuts String.

.Berlin is still sitting in the 4th most registered new gTLD spot but has been pretty inactive for many months in terms of new registrations and actually had a net lost 15 registrations yesterday. Of course around 75,000 of these domains were registered for free we will see how many of those get renewed.

.NYC domains continue to add around 100 domains a day and is now has over 70,000 registrations

Frank Schilling’s North Sound Names is still the largest registrant of new gTLD’s now topping over 160,000 of domain names of Frank Schilling’s Uniregistry new gTLD strings.

Uniregistry has over 275,000 registrations so North Sound Names has registered about 60% of all of Uniregistry domains.

.Link is Uniregistry most registered string with over 63,000 domain names.

Uniregistry is charging a rack rate of around $6.42 for a .link domain name.

Minds + has a winner in .Work which has been increasing on a daily basis since it went live on February 10 with over 3,800 registrations.

.Work is now approaching 10,000 registrations.

Prices for all domain extension vary by registrar but you can register a .work domain for the rack rate of $1.39 at which has the most .work domains registered.

.Website has been adding 100+ domains a day and is now closing in on 40,000 registrations.

Likewise .Rocks and .Company have been adding 100+ domains a day and are also closing in on 40,000 registrations

Of all the 500+ new gTLD tracked by, these continue to add 100 or more a day on a pretty constant basis:















There is another set of domains that seem to add between 50-100 domains a day on a consistent basis, but there are well over 150 new gTLD’s which add 10 or less per day.

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Lenovo Hit By DNS Attack

The primary website for Lenovo was briefly redirected in the afternoon of Feb. 25, due to what appears to be a hack of the Domain Name Service (DNS) records for the website.

DNS lookup of the domain by eWEEK at 5:20 PM EST showed that the hacked site title and description was still in place as well as a new entry for who controls the netblock where is hosted. CloudFlare is identified in the lookup as being the netblock owner for as of February 25, running on a Linux based nginx Web server.

“It appears their registrar account was compromised and DNS was pointed to us,” Matthew Prince, CEO of CloudFlare told eWEEK. “As soon as we were made aware we locked the associated account and reached out to Lenovo to assist them with regaining control of their domain.”

Read the full story at eWEEK: Hacked, but Soon Restored After Intervention by CloudFlare

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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Meizu will show off the MX4 Ubuntu Edition at MWC


Canonical has been promising Ubuntu for mobile devices for as far back as we can remember, even releasing limited ROMs for installation on select Android devices. As far as commercial devices with the OS pre-loaded? Last week BQ and Canonical brought the world (well, Europe at least…) the first Ubuntu phone, a modified Aquaris E4.5. Now it seems that Meizu is finally getting in the game as well.

While we’ve known that Meizu was working with Canonical for a long while now, this morning we received word from the Chinese OEM that it will be introducing the Meizu MX4 “Ubuntu Edition” at MWC. Unlike the low-end Aquaris, the MX4 packs reasonably decent specs including a 5.36-inch 1080p display, a MediaTek MT6595 octa-core processor with 2GB RAM. Other specs include a 20.7MP camera with dual LED, and Flyme 4.0 OS (based on KitKat).

We can’t say for sure if the MX4 Ubuntu Edition will feature any changes to the spec sheet, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it remains largely the same device with the exception of the OS. No details on pricing just yet either, though you can probably expect pricing similar to the Android variant, which is currently offered for around $350 on Amazon.

We’ll be on the floor at MWC and will bring you more details about the Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition as we learn them. What do you think, interested in the idea of a mid-range Ubuntu-powered device or is the effort doomed from the start? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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It’s Real: An $89, Green Ubuntu Linux Desktop PC

Here’s a pipe dream for you Linux fans out there: Imagine a PC that comes with Ubuntu preinstalled. It can also dual-boot Windows. It’s responsibly manufactured and environmentally friendly. And it costs a mere $89—of which a portion goes to support community open source projects. Good news: It’s real, it’s called the Symple PC and it’s available now.

We’ve scoured the Symple PC’s website and pinged the project’s founder, Jason Spisak, to figure out what the catch is. We squarely failed to find one. This is, plain and simple, an ultra-low cost, planet-friendly desktop PC, well-suited to a variety of applications in homes, schools and businesses, that ships with the most recent longterm support (LTS) version of Ubuntu, 14.04—while also meeting the minimum system requirements for running Windows 7, if that floats your boat.

Dell Ubuntu Laptop Developer Speaks About Future Plans

Buying a Dell Ubuntu Netbook

How is the device so inexpensive and green? Primarily because it’s a “remanufactured” computer, which means most of its parts are recycled from other systems, which otherwise would be consigned to an eternity oozing their chemical insides into a landfill somewhere, or melted down in a process that eliminates much of their value.

Of course, the hardware you get—which the organization says it tests carefully to ensure proper function—isn’t exactly high-end. Each Symple PC features, at a minimum, 2GB of memory, 80GB of disk space and a Pentium 4. 2.8GHz processor. (The “at a minimum” bit reflects the sourcing of the device’s components from recycled PCs; it’s possible the particular Symple PC you buy will feature better hardware specifications than those listed.) There’s no wireless card, and peripherals are also not included.

But those resources are more than enough to run Ubuntu, especially in the age of the cloud, when all many workers or students need is a device that can connect to the Internet. And that’s exactly the audience that Spisak has in mind, describing the device as one that “schools, non-profits and call centers would be interested in.” There are plenty of home users, too, who might be interested in a PC that’s so incredibly inexpensive.

In case you’re wondering whether the organization is able to keep costs low by contracting with puppy mills in Pyongyang for its manufacturing labor, it doesn’t: The Symple PC is built in Arizona, according to Spisak.

In several respects, this is a brilliant idea. The Symple PC far outprices other cloud-oriented, Linux-based PCs, such as Google‘s Chromebooks—which, at any rate, are much less open than something with vanilla Ubuntu installed. It beats out virtually every other electronic device in the planet-friendly category. And it introduces another offering to the slim market of PCs that ship with Linux, something that always pleases the open source community. The big question here is: What’s not to love about the Symple PC?

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Meizu Confirms That The MX4 Will Run Ubuntu, To Be Showcased At MWC – Android Headlines

Meizu MX4 Ubuntu pre-launch teaser_1

Meizu and Canonical signed an agreement a couple of months back. By doing that, both companies basically confirmed that it’s just a matter of time before we see the Ubuntu-powered Meizu-branded handset. Well, Meizu has released a teaser on February 16, indirectly confirming that such a device will be announced at the upcoming MWC (Mobile World Congress) in Barcelona next week. We’ve been wondering which existing Meizu device will run Ubuntu though, there was also a possibility that they’ll release a new device, but due to the lack of rumors regarding that, most people thought that the Meizu M1 or MX4 will get the Ubuntu version.

It looked like we’ll have to wait until MWC starts in order to see which device will Meizu unveil, but the company jumped the gun and revealed everything. Meizu posted the MX4 running Ubuntu on their official Weibo page, along with a tagline “More than better”. By doing this, Meizu quite obviously confirmed that the Ubuntu-powered MX4 handset will launch next week, even though the M1 seemed like a more obvious choice due to the lower hardware price. There you have it, after BQ unveiled the first Ubuntu handset, Aquaris E4.5 handset, Meizu is set to push their own Ubuntu-powered handset out on the market. Also, the image that Meizu posted links to the company’s international website, which confirms that we’ll see this handset launched in Europe, but that was to be expected.

Meizu MX4 sports a 5.36-inch 1080p (1920 x 1152) display along with 2GB of RAM and 16, 32 or 64GB of in-built storage. MediaTek’s MT6595 octa-core processor is powering on this device along with PowerVR Series 6 GPU for graphics processing. 20.7-megapixel shooter is located at the back of the device along with a dual LED, dual tone flash. On the front of the device, you can find a 5-megapixel snapped which should come in handy if you like to take a selfie here and there or you use the video call feature of your device. MX4 comes with Android 4.4.4 KitKat pre-installed with Meizu’s Flyme 4.0 OS on top of it. The device measures 144 x 75.2 x 8.9mm and weighs 147 grams.

Now that we know which Meizu-branded handset will ship with Ubuntu pre-installed, are you interested in getting a copy if the price is right?

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Open Source vs. Proprietary Firms on the IoT Battleground

Technology wars are predictable. Every new wave of gadgetry brings a fight over who will be the next king of the software hill. The next big battle is brewing over control of the Internet of Things marketplace.

The IoT is quietly gaining momentum as companies develop software to connect all sorts of consumer products to the Internet. Consumers see only convenience and extensions to their always-on mobile devices. Product makers see a pathway to streaming data that can be monetized from buyers’ connections.

Could history be ripe for repeating itself as open source begins to take on the current, yet unsustainable, walled-garden core of the IoT? Based on the victories in some early skirmishes, innovations developed by open source start-ups may be the David in the here-again fight against proprietary Goliaths.

In past technology battles, the one deciding factor was grounded to who could force adoption of a platform standard. Might made Right, and to the victor went the spoils.

Today’s skirmish line victory could well be settled by that same factor. But the “might making right” could well be the purchasing power driven by open source vendors.

“The driver goal is with the developers. If you drive the developer ecosystem, you are more likely to find what I would call the Angry Bird of IoT,” Maarten Ectors, vice president of IoT, proximity cloud and next-gen networking at Ubuntu/Canonical, told LinuxInsider.

Angry Bird Mentality

The lack of IoT standards is nothing new. It was evident with application servers and operating systems. These technologies always start with something proprietary and then somebody wants to commoditize that layer because they wanted to offer something on top, according to Ectors.

In the IoT industry, the battle for standards is more complex. Normally in those markets the victor could control the whole market.

“I don’t think in IoT there will be one person controlling everything. It is so complex. In that case what is easier is one platform that everybody can use rather than a walled garden,” he explained.

What if the Angry Birds phenomenon holds true for IoT connectivity? Vendors and manufacturers would have an IoT that everybody wants and everybody uses.

“That is more likely to come from a garage than from a corporation,” said Ectors.

Open Source Plays There

Garages are the playgrounds of innovators. As Ectors sees it, the marketplace needs a way to engage with lots of people trying millions of ideas to see who gets it.

The winner will be the ones who can translate that into the industrial use and for healthcare use, retail use, etc. The winner will be able to get lots of cooperation.

“Corporations tend to be slow in those areas. Innovation tends to win in those cases,” Ectors predicted.

Enter the Bullies

The technology battles start at the top with huge players like Sony, Microsoft, Intel and Google. They want to dominate the market and grab the biggest piece they can, according to Radek Tadajewski, CEO of

“I understand this approach to lock people into one infrastructure. But at the end of the day, I would have to say that IBM’s strategy was much more successful than Apple’s strategy,” Tadajewski told LinuxInsider.

When you let people use their equipment the way that they want to use it, it’s much better than to lock them. That is the same situation existing with the development of IoT, he surmised.

“We see huge players who want to put out their own systems. This ultimately results in one or two competing standards. But all of the time there is one question. Why should people be locked into one ecosystem? The best thing to do is create a system that is truly open,” he said.

Indeed, history is ripe for repeating itself, as open source begins to take on today’s walled-garden core of IoT, agreed Rafael Laguna, CEO of

At first the big waves of innovation in IT fought over proprietary hardware with its free software. The hardware became open — the PC, and the software became a proprietary product — Microsoft. Then software became open and free and enabled the Internet.

Next, the Internet services became proprietary walled gardens, as in Google, Facebook, etc. This is where we are today; so what is next? The Internet services will become open. The same will happen for IoT.

“We already see open versus proprietary competing. Nest versus Arduino [for example]. As today with Internet services, there are big bucks in proprietary services, too big to be retainable. Same for the IoT, the big deals were around proprietary solutions. Next up is open IoT,” Laguna told LinuxInsider.

Open Innovation Matters

To further make his case about the need for open source, Laguna asked a riveting question. What if Microsoft had its own way?

The Internet would be running on Netbios, MAPI and SMB. Sounds horrible? Because it is, he said in answering his own questions.

“To create an explosive wave of growth and innovation, the foundation needs to be open. HTTP, TCP/IP, DNS, IMAP, etc. are all free and open protocols, implemented by free and open software that dominates the respective implementations (Apache, Nginx, Linus, PowerDNS, Dovecot). The same will happen for the IoT,” said Laguna.

Much of the innovation’s success depends on non-proprietary standards. One of the reasons for the numerous proprietary platforms is the amount of single product solutions available from vendors, noted Ian Skerrett, vice president of marketing and ecosystem at the
Eclipse Foundation.

“We need a core set of open standards. These need wide adoption among IoT developers. Today there is a lot of proprietary protocols and technologies. I see a lot of movement towards standardizing messaging protocols and device management,” Skerrett told LinuxInsider.

Standards Building

Controlling devices, both locally and remotely, has always been an everyday task in many market sectors like industrial and building automation.
Technology evolution has led to the capability of connecting consumer devices and appliances at low cost, according to Riccardo Mazzurco, who heads strategy and business development for
Link Your Things.

As in early stages of most markets, in the absence of well-established standards, there is a proliferation of incompatible proprietary protocols. Most market players are trying to secure their investments and market share by pushing proprietary platforms hoping to create industry standards.

“It is an easy guess that open systems will prevail thanks to the market need for portability, abstraction and agnostic interoperability,” Mazzurco told LinuxInsider.

The first step in building standards is agreeing on what standards are needed for the IoT. Then we need to get industry adoption of them. That is how the Internet was developed, noted Skerrett.

With the IoT he sees a lot of investment going into the middleware tier. This involves activity among larger companies and numerous start-ups in developing platforms. The good news is that many of these platforms coming out are using some common standards.

“A good portion of the middleware vendors are using open source. But they are putting it within their proprietary software,” said Skerrett.

State of Affairs

IoT development now is fraught with a series of sensors and actuators that connect to a gateway to provide Internet connectivity. On the back end the IoT needs platforms for protocols and brokering and device management.

The Eclipse Foundation is developing such a gateway and a variety of open source projects for those solutions. What Eclipse lacks so far is one platform to integrate all of this.

“I think we will get there. That is where I want to see us go. But it is too early in the process to get there,” Skerrett said. “In a perfect world it makes sense to be there first. But as an industry we are still learning what is required for a platform.”

Market Challenges

OORT takes an approach that avoids IoT vendor lock in. The company’s solution lets consumers convert their analog and digital handsets into a smart device.

The company created a smart hub that handles both WiFi and Bluetooth. These are two of the most common radio standards in the world. This really lowers the cost for both manufacturers and consumers.

This is challenging the whole market,” said Tadajewski.”We are ready to share our knowledge and let other companies use this solution.”

For the first time, this will allow the service providers and product makers to view direct connection with a bridge between them and their customers. The small module that manufacturers can place in their products lets customers control them through their smartphones, he explained.

This type of technology will reduce costs. The control module will eliminate the need for costly LCD screens. It will make unnecessary more costly electronic modules inside their products. Instead, consumers can use their smartphones as interfaces for their devices.

Smart Manufacturers

The ability to control all household products from a smartphone will save consumers frustration and added expense. It will make product makers smart vendors.

The use of existing WiFi or Bluetooth chips will tell vendors what their customers are using and where they live. This will give a new channel for continuing sales to maintain and supplement their products.

“This is going to change the whole market,” said Tadajewski.”It will let the winners of the IoT market be determined by the ones who have the most effective ecosystem. That will be the one with biggest amount of devices you can use with the classical system.”

Jack M. Germain has been writing about computer technology since the early days of the Apple II and the PC. He still has his original IBM PC-Jr and a few other legacy DOS and Windows boxes. He left shareware programs behind for the open source world of the Linux desktop. He runs several versions of Windows and Linux OSes and often cannot decide whether to grab his tablet, netbook or Android smartphone instead of using his desktop or laptop gear. You can connect with him on

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Is Ubuntu’s Lack Of Apps Undiluted Genius Or Tech Suicide?

With this year’s Mobile World Congress about to kick off, the tech world is generally quite quiet. Other than the release of the first ever commercially-available Ubuntu phone, that is.

What is Ubuntu?

In short, Ubuntu is an operating system. Although it’s been around for about 10 years now, predominantly for Desktop with its ‘Unity’ Operating System, it’s only just making the move to its own mobile devices.

Not only does Ubuntu now have to battle for a portion of Android and Apple’s market share, it also has to convince mobile users that they no longer need apps. Yes, you read that correctly; no apps – pure undiluted genius or technological suicide?


Instead of ‘apps’ Ubuntu uses ‘scopes’. Essentially, a scope is a segment of an app which can be grouped together with others. For example, it has lots of pre-determined groups (called ‘Aggregators’) which link various scopes together, aiming to show you exactly what you want to see.

As with any operating system, what’s crucial is that brands whose apps are popular i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Soundcloud etc are willing to allow their brand on your device. Fortunately, Ubuntu already has the go-ahead for a good number of these. Unfortunately, they’re still waiting for certain apps like Whatsapp to join – which could be a dealbreaker for some.

A ‘Today’ scope tells you things that are happening today, such as events in your phone’s calendar and your ‘favourite’ contacts. The ‘Nearby’ scope will tell you local weather as well as help you find local places to eat or drink – through Time Out and Yelp integration – or find bus timetables.

A Music scope combines Soundcloud, your music and apps such as Grooveshark. A Video scope combines platforms such as Vimeo and YouTube and a Photo scope shows your Instagram, Flickr feeds and even your Facebook timeline.

Photo: Ubuntu

There’s a multitude of these groups, helping you to only see the parts of the apps you need. Although one might argue that these still qualify as ‘apps’, it seems as though scopes could really streamline the process of getting to segment of an app you want, and quickly. Another perk is that you can choose which of the scopes in each group you like the most, and make that the homepage of the group – so if you want YouTube to be home on your videos scope, you can make that happen.

Video: CNET

The BQ Aquaris E4.5


The specs

The BQ Aquaris E4.5 is the very first device to boast the Ubuntu mobile OS. In case you were expecting something spectacular, it’s a mid-range phone, with specs that are more comparable to the flagship devices of 2012 than 2015. It’s packing a 4.5″ screen, 8GB of internal storage (expandable by up to 32GB using microSD), 1GB of RAM and a 1.3GHz quad-core processor.

If we compare it to the Samsung Galaxy S III, for example, it doesn’t quite match its processor for power or its 4.8″ screen. The resolution of the Aquaris is ‘qHD’ (not to be confused with QHD), which means quarter HD, hence the resolution is a quarter of Full HD at 960 x 540, giving the phone 244ppi, compared to the 306ppi of the Galaxy S III’s 720p screen. It also has front and rear cameras, clocking in at five and eight megapixels respectively. A perk is that it’s dual SIM, in case you have two numbers on the go.

The use of scopes instead of apps should, in theory, be easier on a phone – be it in RAM usage and processing power – which may be why the E4.5 opted for lower specs.

Look familiar?

When I first saw this phone, it felt like I was getting deja vu, as the shape of the phone makes it look almost identical to the Windows Lumia 635, even having 4.5″ screen. It also lacks the physical buttons, instead opting for home keys similar to those present in many Android devices, and not dissimilar from the Lumia 635.


Device similarities aside, it seems that Ubuntu’s scopes could genuinely bring something new to the market.

As we’re only seeing a mid-range handset, it’s not yet given us a glimpse into the full power that the Ubuntu operating system can bring to mobile devices, but it gives us a good look at the interface and general user experience.

There are rumours floating around that we could be seeing a more powerful Ubuntu device (some think it might be the MX4 or MX4 Pro from Meizu) at Mobile World Congress. All in all, Ubuntu certainly leaves some ‘scope’ for excitement.

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Ubuntu 14.04.2 arrives with updated hardware support and a new Linux kernel

Canonical just released Ubuntu 14.04.2, the second point-release of the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS series. As always, this point release brings hardware support updates so you can continue installing Ubuntu 14.04 on new PCs. You won’t get the hardware support updates on existing PCs, though—if your computer’s hardware doesn’t all work properly, you’ll want to update it yourself.

Let’s dig in.

Why point releases matter

Ubuntu 14.04 is a long-term service—or LTS—release. It’ll be supported until 2019. Ubuntu 16.04 will replace it as the new LTS release in April, 2016. New versions of Ubuntu come out every month, but they don’t have huge improvements over the LTS releases. Everyday users and businesses are better off sticking with an LTS release for the stability and long-term support.

Because each LTS release ends up being the recommended one for two years, the Ubuntu project releases regular updates to the LTS installation media. These roll together all the security updates and bug fixes made since Ubuntu 14.04 came out to save you some time. They also fix bugs in the installer. View a full list of changes made between Ubuntu 14.04.1 and Ubuntu 14.04.2 here.

ubuntu install

More importantly, the point releases come with an updated “LTS Hardware Enablement Stack.” Specifically, this means a more modern Linux kernel and X server. These can bring improved hardware support, especially if you have a new PC with hardware that wasn’t even released when Ubuntu 14.04 came out back in April, 2014.

Ubuntu 14.04.2 uses version 3.16 of the Linux kernel, where the original versions of Ubuntu 14.04 used version 3.13. This is the same kernel version provided in Ubuntu 14.10, so you can get modern hardware support without switching to an entirely new version of your Linux distribution. There’s also a more modern “X stack,” which provides updated graphics drivers.

How to get those hardware support improvements

Just running the Software Updater application on Ubuntu won’t get you all of these improvements, as the “LTS Hardware Enablement Stack” isn’t updated automatically. By default, it’s only installed when you install Ubuntu from scratch via the Ubuntu 14.04.2 ISO image. This is the image the Ubuntu website is now providing by default.

Why? Well, just upgrading everyone to a new Linux kernel and X stack isn’t necessarily the best idea. If their hardware is working fine, there’s no huge benefit to pushing out newer device support—instead, there’s a risk something might break. It’s better to save that LTS Hardware Enablement stack for new installations.

Want to stay up-to-date on Linux, BSD, Chrome OS, and the rest of the World Beyond Windows? Bookmark the World Beyond Windows column page or follow our RSS feed.

But you can upgrade your existing Ubuntu 14.04 install to the new Linux kernel and X server software, if you want. You’ll probably want to do this on newer PCs where not all your hardware is working properly. For example, Dell’s new Linux-powered MacBook Pro competitor needs the Ubuntu 14.04.2 hardware support updates so its Thunderbolt hardware will work properly. The official release notes provide instructions for updating your Linux kernel and X server software. It’s just a command or two you need to run in the terminal.

Point releases may not be the most exciting, but they’re necessary. This is how Ubuntu 14.04 can stick around for a few years and continue supporting all that modern hardware coming out. Better yet, it’s being done in such a way that those low-level software updates don’t cause potential problems on all the existing computers happily running Ubuntu 14.04.

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Ubuntu developments: 15.04 Beta 1 and the first Ubuntu phone

As the 23 April release date approaches, it’s beginning to look as though Ubuntu 15.04 (Vivid Vervet) on the desktop will be a disappointing release. We’ve been exploring the first beta, which is released on 26 February.

The Ubuntu 15.04 Beta 1 desktop.
Image: Terry Relph-Knight/ZDNet

As we reported in our preview of Ubuntu 14.10 last year, the Ubuntu developers had announced that development for the desktop would split into separate releases with standard Unity7 and converged Unity8 desktops. What this means right now is that users downloading and installing the current (Unity7) Ubuntu 15.04 release will see an Ubuntu Desktop that, at least as far as this beta is concerned, is virtually identical to Ubuntu 14.10. Those trying the (Unity8) Ubuntu Desktop Next 15.04 development release will see an unfinished operating system that still retains much of the look and feel of Ubuntu for Phones. Hence, in part, the lack of excitement.

When the desktop was the development focus, some interesting new features would appear in the betas of almost every release. However, for the last two years Canonical’s energies have mainly been focused on the development of Ubuntu for Phones, and it has become clear that a fully converged desktop running Unity8 and the Mir display server would only emerge some time after the launch of the first Ubuntu phones.

For now, the only real hints of convergence for the desktop appear in Desktop Next, which is based on software developed for Ubuntu for Phones that’s only slowly being adapted to tablets and eventually the desktop. In an October 2014 blog post, Will Cooke, the new Desktop Team manager at Canonical, said that while the plan was for Unity8 to appear with 16.04, there was a possibility that Unity8 might land in Ubuntu 15.10 as the default desktop, with Unity7 as an option.

Over three years ago Mark Shuttleworth appeared to challenge both Microsoft and Apple by declaring that Ubuntu would be the first fully converged operating system. Now, with Microsoft’s announcement of Windows 10, which is due out later this year with the promise it will run on desktops, tablets and phones, it looks like Canonical may have lost that race — unless Canonical can surprise everyone and pull Desktop Next out of the bag for 15.10.

To indicate that 10 really is a new departure for Windows, Microsoft is skipping a release number to go straight to Windows 10 from Windows 8.1. A technical preview of Windows 10 is available for download, which will run on some smartphones.

Some small changes

The LIMs toggle in System settings.
Image: Terry Relph-Knight/ZDNet

While the option to switch to Locally Integrated Menus (LIMs) was introduced in 14.04, this is now the default in Ubuntu 15.04, with the menus appearing in the top bar of every window. The LIM switch is still provided as an option in the System settings / Appearance / Behaviour tab, so they can still be switched to the menu bar at the top of the desktop. As implemented in 14.04, LIMs sometimes tend to either be non-responsive or will cause a window to minimise unexpectedly. This bug seems to be fixed in 15.04.

For no apparent reason, in 15.04 the height of the progress bar has been greatly reduced.
Image: Terry Relph-Knight/ZDNet

Upstart or systemd?

There were rumours that Canonical might switch to systemd as the initialisation manager in this release, but so far the beta still runs upstart, the init manager developed for Ubuntu. A search of the package database does show that systemd files are installed for Ubuntu 15.04. There are fears that systemd may cause problems in the future but, as Mark Shuttleworth notes in his 14.02.14 blog post, it has been agreed that systemd will eventually be adopted for Ubuntu in order to stay in line with Debian, its parent distribution.

The Linux Kernel

As usual, the Linux Kernel gets an incremental upgrade in the new release — from 3.16 in 14.10 to 3.18. This adds improvements in file systems, in AMD display drivers and in network performance. As with every kernel release, there are some new device drivers and many other small improvements.

Default install applications

The usual point increments of the bundled applications are also present. Ubuntu 15.04 (Vivid Vervet) Beta 1 currently includes version 4.4 of the LibreOffice productivity suite and version 36.0 of the Firefox browser, although the Thunderbird email client remains at 31.4.0. Other applications installed by default include version 3.12 of the Brasero disk burner and version 3.1.0 of the Rhythmbox music manager and player. The Inkscape vector graphics editor version 0.91-3 and GIMP bitmap graphics editor version 2.8.14-1 are available for installation via the Ubuntu Software Centre.

BQ and Meizu Ubuntu phones

The BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Editon phone.
Image: BQ

The most recent Ubuntu development has been flash sales of the first mobile phones running the operating system. Spanish vendor BQ has so far held two flash sales for the BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition, which is only available within the EU and only in black. Both sales sold out of their allocation — the first, on 11 February within ten minutes.

Canonical’s other smartphone partner, the Chinese company Meizu has yet to make any firm announcements about an Ubuntu phone launch. Based in Guangdong province in mainland China, Meizu offers worldwide shipping on at least some of its products, although all of its current offerings on the English-language website are marked as sold out.

Canonical recently published a porting guide for Ubuntu on devices such as unlocked phones that already run Android. Whether Canonical will ever host a collection of installable binaries for various devices, or whether such binaries may be made available elsewhere, remains unclear at the moment. There are problems with access to proprietary device drivers and with related copyright issues.

More news about Ubuntu on phones may emerge during, or following, Mobile World Congress (Barcelona, 2-5 March).

What’s next?

According to the Ubuntu 15.04 release schedule, Beta 2 of Ubuntu 15.04 is due on 26 March and the final release on 23 April. Whether the release after that — 15.10, due in October — will be the Next release with Unity8 or a placeholder remains to be seen.

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Hermes recuperates domain name under ‘.clothing’ gTLD

In a recent case under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) before the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), a well-known fashion house has obtained the transfer of a domain name identically reproducing its trademark under the new generic top-level domain (gTLD) ‘.clothing’.

The complainant was Hermes International, a well-known French…

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