Fedora packages update: Ktorrent, Speedcrunch

The package speedcrunch was updated to its newest version 0.10 for all current Fedora versions including several new features. At the same time, ktorrent for KDE 4 got a bugfix update.

I’ve got some free time and used it to update two of the packages I currently maintain for the Fedora project:
Ktorrent got a bugfix update to 3.0.1. However, this version will not be shipped with Fedora 9 since the feature freeze is already there. Instead, the new package will be provided as an update. Btw., I’m really looking forward to see how well Fedora 9 will perform, and how well it will work with KDE 4.

The more interesting update is the one of speedcrunch from version 0.9 to 0.10. The new version features, among other things:

  • several new functions like MOD, GAMMA, etc.
  • a new math book browser to view information about common math objects like a cone, a circle or similar things; i hope to see more information about important functions there in the future
  • coloured syntax highlighting
  • RTL support
  • session support
  • tray icon context menu

This small calculator is powerful and useful – and simply to use. If you want to give it a try, download the packages for Fedora 7 or Fedora 8. If you test them please also leave a note at the update pages so that they can be pushed to updates faster.

In case you wonder why it took so long to update the packages: I had only limited time due to real life. And since the speedcrunch update is an enhancement anyway and the ktorrent package only affects rawhide, there was no real need to update them.


RealPlayer/HelixPlayer 11.0 released

More than half a year after the targeted release date the RealPlayer/HelixPlayer for Linux was released in version 11.0. The new release delivers long expected features like full ALSA integrateion and Flash and WMA support.

The release is definitely surprising – because it was already announced almost a year ago. But besides the date the release complies with the expectations:

  • WMA support
  • Flash support
  • ALSA integration
  • Playlist support
  • Surround support
  • LSB compliance

As usual the program can be downloaded as bin or as RPM either with proprietary (WMA/Flash/Real) codecs – called RealPlayer – or without – called HelixPlayer. In case you are working on a RPM system you can even see the LSB compliance working in case you haven’t installed the LSB dependency package:

# rpm -Uvh RealPlayer11GOLD.rpm
Error: Missing dependecy:
        lsb >= 3.1 is needed by package RealPlayer-

Of course this can easily be solved on Fedora by

# yum --nogpgcheck localinstall RealPlayer11GOLD.rpm
Setting up Local Package Process
Excluding Packages from Livna for Fedora Core 8 - i386 - Base
Examining RealPlayer11GOLD.rpm: RealPlayer -
Marking RealPlayer11GOLD.rpm to be installed
Resolving Dependencies
--> Running transaction check
Installed: RealPlayer.i586 0:
Dependency Installed: pax.i386 0:3.4-4.fc8 redhat-lsb.i386 0:3.1-19.fc8

Anyway, the question remains where HelixPlayer fits into today’s Linux desktop: first of all while there is now a new release the future of the program is yet again very uncertain. The current development progress plan has its last entry in the middle of 2007, and the the next roadmap isn’t set up yet, only release goals are set. But these are already quite old.
But the even larger problem is anyway that there are already several audio/video engines available for Linux: Xine, VLC, mplayer and GStreamer. Years ago the situation was different and HelixPlayer would have been able to close a gap. But that never happened.

Nevertheless, if the HelixPlayer guys do it right in the future they will provide a Phonon backend for KDE 4 so that the users could choose HelixPlayer/RealPlayer. That would give them the possibility to get back into the game quickly.
But if this also takes a couple of years that the developers should first ask themselves what they currently aim for on the Linux desktop.

The new one in town

VirtualBox for OpenSolaris hosts available - FreeBSD soon?
Sometimes old ones have to be replaced – with something fresh and new. I’ve got a new laptop.

The old one

I’ve had my old laptop now for over three years. Back then it was state of the art: A Cebop T900 (the company doesn’t exist anymore, but the series is comparable to Siemens Amilo series of that time) with fresh 1,8 GHz Centrino (Pentium M 745, Dothan core) with – at that time quite large – 1 GB RAM and a 80 GB Hard disk. The graphics card was an ATI 9600 mobile with 256 MB RAM which actually was more of a desktop graphics card then a laptop card. The wireless card was an Intel ipw2200, and there was even a card reader installed, though I never got that one working. The screen was a 1280×800 15.4″ wide screen. Some benchmarks can be found here

The old one – called Perricum, btw. – served me well. However, due to the ridiculous oversized graphics card (and probably due to the entire construction at all) the fan never stopped working. And the fan was really, really noisy. Additionally, the entire chassis was not very stable. Still, the laptop accompanied me during the last years (and to several countries, btw.). For the distribution interested person: I started back then with a pre-release version of Mandrake/Mandriva (because it was the only one which started on that machine at that time due to kernel problems), later on Fedora and also for some time OpenSuse followed. The virtual machines started inside of the system run almost everything, from Ubuntu over the already mentioned distributions to even some BSD versions I gave a try. Also, for some time a virtual machine contained a Windows copy.
Speaking about Windows: besides the virtual machine that computer never saw a a Windows Kernel. The machine came along without a preinstalled operating system, and I was already in a state where I didn’t need any Windows. The need came later up for some months due to some specialized Windows-only program, but that was all.

The new one

In 10 years my mobile phone will most likely have more power than my new laptop – but today it is state of the art: A Dell Latitude D630 with a Intel T9300 with 2.5 GHz Dual Core (6 MB Cache, btw) – yes, that’s the new Penryn, Intel’s new 45nm processor series. Again, the RAM is quite high even for today: 4 GB. The hard disk is comparable small, just 160 GB, but for me power consumption was more important than size. And I do have an external hard disk.
But I also from the problems with my old machine: the graphics card is not a desktop card this time, but a Nvidia NVS 135M, a business card from Nvidia’s Quadro series. I could have also taken the laptop with Intel’s X3100, but since this machine is supposed to serve me for a longer time I wanted to have at least a bit more power. The wireless card is a 4965, and the screen is a 14.1″ with a resolution of 1440×900. Some benchmarks can be found here.

Additionally, this is a business notebook: so there are less fancy things (no card reader for example, no TV out, etc.), higher costs, but also more reliability: a much, much better and more stable chassis, high quality hardware (the speakers for example), and so on. And it has docking station support, which I plan to use quite often in the near future.

The operating system choice was a lit more difficult in this case, however. Dell doesn’t sell its flagships with Linux – at least not to usual customers. Additionally, since I am an author for technical magazines sometimes I am asked if I could do a story on some Windows related topics – like “Connect Windows to Linux” or “Compare xyz on Windows against abc on Linux”. Since I didn’t have a Windows copy in the past I had to pass on these tasks. Also, having a look at Vista once in a while makes me able to compare it against Linux distributions.

So I payed money for a Windows Vista copy. The disadvantages are now that that Microsoft earned some money and that my hard disk is littered with a lot of crap – almost two GB are taken by the problem that I only got a “Recovery DVD”. Sigh…


As a result I will publish more posts about the new computer – for example the task of installing Linux on it was much more difficult than I have thought! Also I will install a more recent KDE on this machine – one way or the other. But for now I’m just happy to have a new computer which is strong enough to do all the things I would like it to do but is not too noisy to work with or to heavy to carry around. 🙂