We have discussed Vivaldi before. It's a feature packed and very power-user friendly web browser for Windows, Mac and Linux. And from our limited experience, the browser seems pretty darn fast too.

vivaldi for linux

Vivaldi 1.3 Released

Living up to its tagline "the most customisable web browser", the new update brings a whole host of new features that enhances Vivaldi's customisability. The new version comes with powerful themeing abilities for example. In our earlier review of Vivaldi web browser, we did complain about the slightly overdone color schemes and such. The new changes give you powers to tweak its looks the way you want. I especially liked the new dark themes.

vivaldi browser new release

Mouse gestures is perhaps one of my favourite feature in Vivaldi, even though I always prefer keyboard shortcuts. There are more than 90  browser actions that can be performed with mouse gestures now.

Also in this release, the developers have addressed some of Linux platform specific issues, which means that "tab hibernation now works as it should, and some proprietary media embedded in HTML5 content can now be enjoyed in Vivaldi on Linux without problems." 

There are other improvements on the Privacy front too with the added ability to turn off WebRTC. Overall, I'm really impressed with Vivaldi's improvements on the performance front. It is definitely faster and more responsive than before, and without any compromises on functionality. Features like 'Tab Stacks' work just as good. Both 32 and 64 bit DEB/RPM packages are available (see link below). Share your thoughts on Vivaldi. Thanks for reading.

I'm not really happy with my laptop's battery performance, and hence the need for reliable battery indicator apps. From simple widgets to full-fledged apps, there are quite a few to choose from. 'Battery Monitor' is the latest entrant. Use the following PPA to install Battery Monitor in Ubuntu and other Debian based distros.

Battery Monitor for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

What makes Battery Monitor different from a whole host of similar apps is its clever integration with Ubuntu notifications. It will notify user about charging, discharging, not charging and critically low battery states. Installation is pretty straight forward. Fire up your Terminal and do as following.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:maateen/battery-monitor -y
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install battery-monitor -y

After installation, there are two ways to start Battery Monitor immediately. Either run battery-monitor in your Terminal itself OR hit ALT + F2 and run battery-monitor. I prefer the later. A few more screenshots.

Project homepage. Do share your thoughts.
After long years of neglect, Skype has reaffirmed its commitment towards Linux platform by announcing a brand new Skype client for Linux, and even goes on to release an Alpha version of the same which you can download and install right now. They come in DEB and RPM packages which must cover a vast variety of Linux platforms.

Finally! A New Skype client for Linux

A brand new Skype for Linux client was officially announced few hours ago. The new version of Skype for Linux is a brand new client using WebRTC, although, the just released Alpha version is not a fully functioning Skype client yet. In our experience, the new client definitely features a faster and more responsive Skype UI. Missing features will be added in the newer releases. Further information on Skype for Linux Alpha can be found here.

And there's more! Anyone using a Chromebook or Chrome on Linux can now visit web.skype.com and make one-to-one and group voice calls on top of the messaging features they get today. This again is an alpha version of Skype based on WebRTC and inherits the same features of the Alpha version of the Skype for Linux client. Video calling and calls to landlines and mobiles are coming soon to Chrome browsers in Linux and Chromebooks. This looks like a a sea change in Skype's attitude towards Linux platform. A welcome change I must say. Following download options are available right now. Do share your thoughts.
Mozilla releases the first nightly builds of its next generation web rendering engine, code-named Servo. This is the first technical demonstration of Mozilla's much awaited high-performance, next-gen web-browser engine being developed for application and embedded use. The first nightly builds also come with a very basic HTML based browser UI so that you can experience the new Servo engine first hand.

servo mozilla web browser engine

Mozilla's New Servo Browser Engine
Being developed at Mozilla Research, Servo engine is also being ported to Android and ARM processors by Samsung. The project "seeks to create a highly parallel environment, in which many components (such as rendering, layout, HTML parsing, image decoding, etc.) are handled by fine-grained, isolated tasks." Source code for the project is written in Rust programming language. Also according to wikipedia, Servo is named after Tom Servo, a robot from a 1980s television show, Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Downloadable snapshots of Servo available here (for Mac OS X and Linux only for now). These pre-built nightly snapshots are not anywhere near ready for regular use yet though. Happy testing.

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS "Xenial Xerus" is released. As with all LTS (long-term support) releases, this one is expected to be the most stable and reliable of them all. But we will find more about that in the review later. Let's discuss the top apps you could install after downloading and installing the latest Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.
top apps for ubuntu 16.04

10 Ubuntu Apps You Must Try after installing 16.04 LTS "Xenial Xerus" 

The apps you use in your desktop vary from user to user. So take this list with a pinch of salt. I have tried to make it as broad based as possible, but they are still very much based on my use-case and might be biased. Let's take a look at the apps that I use the most, my personal favourites for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.

My Favourite Ubuntu Apps for 16.04 LTS

unity tweak tool in ubuntu 16.04 LTS

download unity tweak tool

Unity Tweak Tool, in my opinion, is an absolute must-have for new and experienced users alike. The new updated Unity Tweak Tool brings in a lot of new features including the ability to move the Unity launcher to the bottom. You can read more on that here. The latest version is downloadable from Ubuntu Software Center.

mpv media player ubuntu

best ubuntu apps

MPV Media Player is brilliant. Ever since I discovered MPV, I've completely stopped using VLC, SMPlayer and the likes for my multimedia needs. MPV keeps its light-weight profile without compromising much on functionality. Still no match for VLC in terms of features though, half of which you will never use anyway.

Google Play Music linux desktop client

GPMDP for Ubuntu: Since I use Google Play Music a lot, GPMDP has become my go-to music streaming app for Ubuntu for a while now. For users looking for a more generic music streamer, try Nuvola. GPMDP can be downloaded from here. See also, our review of GPMDP with installation instructions.

top 10 ubuntu apps

Chrome/Chromium: Who wants Chrome when you have Firefox right? Wrong. I believe Chrome has its advantages too. After all, Chrome is now regarded as the most popular web browser across platforms. Firefox, in my opinion, still lags Chrome in some areas. Inbuilt language translation, for example, has proved very useful to me at least on several occasions. But of course Firefox has all the extensions you'll would ever need. For those still interested in Chrome, the only choice you have to make is between Chromium (the one without Google branding, available in Software Center) and the official Google Chrome for Linux (64-bit only).

steam on linux

Steam: Do you know that the number of Steam titles for Linux is now more than 1500 and counting? The list include major titles such as Left 4 Dead 2, Half Life 1 & 2, Counter Strike, Team Fortress 2, Portal 2, Witcher 2, Football Manager, Shank 2, Dota 2, Don't Starve, among others. The biggest complaint people had for Linux was the non-availability of good quality games. Steam's support for Linux platform is surely helping. Download Steam.

best apps for ubuntu 16.04

top ubuntu apps

Youtube-dl: This one is a personal favourite of mine. Youtube-dl is a small commandline based tool that lets you download your favorite videos from the web (supports YouTube and many other popular video streaming sites). If all you require is to download the best quality version of a particular video, open up the Terminal and type "youtube-dl<space><link to the video>". The app is downloadable from Ubuntu Software Center. And if you don't like CLI much, these 5 apps with fancier looks and features might help.

synergy for ubuntu xenial xerus

Synergy lets you share your keyboard and mouse across multiple devices and platforms. And it works like magic. More about Synergy here. Unlike earlier though, Synergy is a paid app now, costing $10 for a lifetime license. Strongly recommend Synergy for those running multiple machines simultaneously. BUY.

top ubuntu apps xenial

Synapse: Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and its default Unity launcher is impressive, but Synapse is just faster. I mostly use Synapse nowadays, but Unity launcher has improved quite a bit over the years. The difference in responsiveness is not as much pronounced as it used to be. It's a matter of personal preference now.

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:synapse-core/testing
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install synapse

After executing the above commands in the Terminal, launch Synapse from the default Ubuntu launcher and it will reside in your system-tray afterwards. Just hit CTRL+Space to launch Synapse.

Shutter: A clever little screenshot tool that can handle some light editing as well. Has proved very useful over the years. Shutter is available within the default repositories. CLICK HERE.

Skype: Doesn't require much introduction, one of the most popular Internet based video and voice call service provider which was acquired by Microsoft in 2011 for quite a lot of money. Even though it works okay, their support for Linux platform has remained poor ever since the acquisition. Updates are too few when compared to other supported platforms. So stay away if you have a choice. Download Skype for Linux.

For more task-specific, professional-grade apps, see our following lists:
[Ubuntu App Store image via FS Icons Ubuntu, and thanks for reading!]

Unity Tweak Tool has remained one of our top recommended apps for newbie Ubuntu users for a while. And they keeps on adding new features and tweaks. Lately, I found out that there is an option within Unity Tweak Tool for moving the default Launcher to the bottom in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.

move launcher to the bottom ubuntu 16.04

Unity Tweak Tool Keeps Getting Better

Unity Tweak Tool has a number of cool tweaks up its sleeves for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. And this ability to move the Unity launcher to the bottom is perhaps the most useful. Many people prefer the old school way of docks, in the bottom. And if you have Unity Tweak Tool, its just a click away.

unity tweak tool in ubuntu 16.04 LTS

Like what you see here? If you are using Ubuntu 16,04 LTS, grab the latest Unity Tweak Tool from Ubuntu Software Center. No need for PPAs. Another cool utility is the "minimize on click" ability, which can be easily turned on with Unity Tweak Tool. Download directly from Ubuntu Software Center using the link below.

Anyone here remember the massive community back clash when Unity was first introduced? A lot of that had to do with the replacement of GNOME2's rather straight forward menu system with a more modern Unity Launcher that we see today. ClassicMenu Indicator is a small plugin that could bring back some of that old glory.

gnome ClassicMenu Indicator ubuntu

ClassicMenu Indicator for Ubuntu 16.04

Every now and then, you stumble upon interesting little applications in Ubuntu Software Center. ClassicMenu Indicator is a lesser known plugin which I'm sure a lot of people here will appreciate. ClassicMenu Indicator was featured in USC's Editor's Pick category.  
ClassicMenu Indicator

As you can see, USC has went through some serious make-over in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS about which you can read here in detail. ClassicMenu Indicator lets you experience some of that old school awesomeness of GNOME Classic in your brand new Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (works on previous releases as well). ClassicMenu Indicator sits on the top menu as an indicator applet and houses GNOME2's classic menu system. Installation is just a click away. 

ClassicMenu Indicator

Finally! Ubuntu Software Center (USC) has always been one of *the* most bloated of all default Ubuntu apps, I couldn't even remember the last time I used USC for installing something in my desktop. But it looks like Canonical has heard us after all. Ubuntu 16.04 LTS comes with a thoroughly reworked Ubuntu Software Center. EDIT: Apparently, this is NOT the reworked Ubuntu Software Center, but just the new GNOME Software Center. I was so excited to see the "new" Software Center in 16.04 that I didn't even check it twice (haven't seen a GNOME desktop in ages either). Canonical completely scrapped the Ubuntu Software Center it seems (not that I complain).

ubuntu software center 16.04 LTS

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS: Ubuntu Software Center receives major Upgrades !

A long time ago, we did a comprehensive analysis on what needs to be done to improve the Ubuntu Software Center as the incumbent is riddled with all sorts of problems. Nothing much happened for many releases after. But USC in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS is going to be very different.

The new USC has become a lot cleaner, and now acquires a very uncluttered layout. But that's not all, the new Software Center is MUCH snappier as well. The response time has improved by a whole lot which is impressive.

software center ubuntu 16.04 LTS

Since the 'Categories' section has been moved towards the bottom, we have a much cleaner layout. The whole thing became a zillion times easier to navigate because of this.

ubuntu software center 16.04 LTS

The upper section has 3 tabs, one each of All, Installed and Updates available for the apps. When compared to this, the earlier layout was an absolute nightmare. Take a look.

new ubuntu software center 16.04 LTS

The categories itself has been further cleaned up. Earlier, the USC used to arrange items in a giant ugly list format. The new tiles/grid format though is intuitive and looks much better.

What's not cool? 
A lot of things have changed, but that does not mean Ubuntu Software Center is now free of problems. In fact, most of the visual changes are only skin deep. For instance, once you click on an app, the layout is reminiscient of the old USC, except for the fact that the whole text is aligned to the middle now (see below).

software center ubuntu 16.04 LTS

And as we complained in our earlier report, there are still no app screenshots or a related apps section. But one thing is sure, the new USC is incredibly more responsive. It feels feather light and that is going to do a world of good for new Ubuntu users who are probably the primary target of latest Software Center improvements.

Google Play Music Desktop Player (GPMDP) is a brilliant new open-source desktop based client for Google Play Music. GPMDP is cross-platform and has just recently released 32 and 64 bit builds for Linux.

Google Play Music client Ubuntu

Google Play Music Desktop Player for Ubuntu 

How about a desktop based client for Google Play Music that is less resource hungry than its web counterpart? Well, that's GPMDP in a nutshell. The player is HTML5 based and requires no Flash. There is Last.fm integration and there is even a neat implementation of hands-free voice controls (experimental).

Google Play Music linux desktop client

Having been playing around with this cool little player for the better part of the day, I have to say I'm impressed! GPMDP is seriously lightweight as advertised and it frees up your browser resources big time. And it is definitely more faster and responsive than my browser tabs. And like a lot of other native Linux apps, it minimizes to tray by default when you hit the close button. The mini player also works just great.

Google Play Music client for Linux

Another big plus is the media key support. From what I have tested, all my media keys are working without any need for tinkering. Additionally you can assign hot keys for specific actions in the GPMDP settings. Last.fm scrobbling though, hasn't worked properly yet in my installation. All in all, if you are a Google Play Music user, I would strongly recommend GPMDP over Nuvola Player any day.

As we mentioned earlier, the app is cross platform and supports Windows, Mac OS X and Linux (32/64 bit builds) platforms. Download links hereGoogle Play Music Desktop Player. If you are into more traditional music players, here is a list of Linux's most good-looking music players. Do share if you like and thanks for reading.
Remember cool-old-term? The gorgeous Terminal Emulator has a name change and is now called cool-retro-term. And I think 'retro' fits the description better, a welcome change. More importantly, cool-retro-term now comes in a nicely packaged Ubuntu PPA making the whole installation process a breeze.

cool retro term ubuntu ppa

Install cool-retro-term in Ubuntu (PPA available for 15.10, 14.04 LTS)

Remember all the hoops you had to jump through just to install cool-retro-term (previously called cool-old-term) in your Ubuntu? Well, that's all history now. The new releases of cool-retro-term Terminal Emulator comes with its own Ubuntu repositories with support for Ubuntu 15.10, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and limited support for Ubuntu 15.04.

For those who didn't read our one year old post about cool-retro-term Terminal Emulator, here are a few things you should know. cool-retro-term is a Terminal Emulator that mimics the look and feel of old-school CRT monitors. First released more than a year and a half ago, cool-retro-term had gone through several iterations and is now ever more stable and lightweight. Highlight though is the availability of new stable releases via PPA for Ubuntu based distros. Here's how you install cool-retro-term in Ubuntu 15.10 (Wily) and Ubuntu 14.04 LTS.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:bugs-launchpad-net-falkensweb/cool-retro-term
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install cool-retro-term

The above steps should work with Ubuntu 14.10 (Utopic) and Ubuntu 15.04 (Vivid) as well. If you like the project and wish to contribute, head over to Swordfish Labs. Thanks for reading.
Ambient Noise is a very clean implementation of a simple idea that will help you stay focused on your work while on the computer. And it integrates well with your Ubuntu sound menu. Care to learn more? Read on.

ambient noise ubuntu ppa

Ambient Noise for Ubuntu PPA (Ubuntu 15.10, Ubuntu 15.04, Ubuntu 14.04)

Listen to the sounds of nature and relax yourself. Ambient Noise is a no non-sense application that is capable of playing a wide variety of sounds from nature non-stop and without much fuss. The idea behind Ambient Noise might be simple, but such is the nature of extremely popular apps, that can also have a profound impact on your work habits. Selection of sounds include rain, storm, coffee shop, forest, night, wind and fire.

Installation is super easy. Just do the following in Terminal.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:costales/anoise
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install anoise

After completing the installation, launch the Ambient Noise application from Ubuntu menu. That's it. The app sits nicely in your sound menu and you can skip, pause and play through the preloaded sounds from the Unity sound menu. Ambient Noise works in offline mode as well.

relaxing music app ubuntu

And guess what, you can download even more sounds from the ANoise Preferences window. I have to concede that I'm enjoying this app more than any other supposedly relaxing music I've in my playlist. And my favorites are rain and storm modes. If you want to support the project, do visit ANoise homepage. Thanks for reading. 

Nuvola Player is brilliant if you are hooked to online music streaming services such as Spotify, Google Music, Soundcloud, or Amazon Cloud Player. A new version was released recently, and here is how you install Nuvola 3.0.1 in Ubuntu 15.10, 15.04 and 14.04 LTS.

nuvola player ubuntu

Nuvola Music Player 3.0.1 Launched

Nuvola Player has always been one of our favorite music players for Linux. It has his limitations, yes, but with more people preferring music streaming over conventional music players, Nuvola will continue to gain popularity. Since we first featured Nuvola few years ago, the supported services cover almost all popular music streaming platforms and then some. The current list include Amazon Cloud Player, Google Play Music. Spotify, Soundcloud, TuneIn, Bandacamp, Deezer, among others.

Nuvola Player has a new installer that simplifies the installation process by a whole lot. The Tiliado repositories installer supports Ubuntu 15.10, Ubuntu 15.04 and Ubuntu 14.04 LTS versions.
After downloading, the latest version of Tiliado repositories can now be installed by opening it in Ubuntu Software Center. Double click and wait, USC loading time is pretty pathetic. Click the Install button and enter the password when asked. That's about it. Now, search and launch the Tiliado Repositories installer from Unity launcher.

install nuvola player in ubuntu

install nuvola music player in ubuntu

Like in the screenshot above, choose your Ubuntu version and 'Continue'. For more up-to-date access to releases, you can become a Patron supporter. More Nuvola Player download options and details here.

Ubuntu is slowly but steadily improving its footprint in the web server space. W3Tech provides some of the most reliable data regarding the use of various technologies in the web server space. According to W3Tech's latest set of data, Ubuntu is now commanding 11.1% market-share among websites 'whose operating system we know'.

ubuntu usage stats

Ubuntu: W3Tech's Operating System of the year 2015

Up from a meagre 4% share in 2011, Ubuntu's is now used by 11.1% of all the websites whose operating system we know. This according to the latest set of web server usage statistics released by W3Techs. 

ubuntu usage stats server

This massive surge is market-share over the years are among the reasons why Ubuntu grabbed the top spot among operating systems in web-server space in the W3Techs survey 2015. Ubuntu is followed by Gentoo while Scientific Linux came in at a surprising no.3 position. Last year's winner, Debian, failed to feature in the top 3. Windows on the other hand has never been able to regain its pole position since 2010. 

Other open source technologies such as Wordpress, Drupal, Nginx, JQuery etc. feature prominently in the survey. Wordpress and Drupal remains the most popular content management systems in use even today. WordPress reached an impressive milestone this year by running a quarter of the web. Java was the fastest growing server-side programming language in 2015. 3.0% of all websites are built with Java, up from 2.8% last year. JavaScript is getting more and more popular as server-side technology, making it the second-fastest growing language. Nginx crossed the 25% mark in 2015, and is the web server of the year for the 6th time in a row. [Detailed report here]

Ubuntu powered Drones are not new. Erle Robotics showcased their Drones that run on top of Snappy Ubuntu Core sometime ago. But the ones unveiled by UAVIA recently are slightly different.

ubuntu drones

How are UAVIA drones different?
During the TechCrunch Disrupt event held in London a few days ago, UAVIA unveiled a new generation of completely remote controlled drones, powered by Snappy Ubuntu Core. "This will be the first time that 100% remotely operable drones will be available in the market - and they’ve been built with Ubuntu under the hood."

Drones in its current forms are pretty cumbersome machines which also requires the operator to be physically present at the location. Flight ranges are also pretty limited. UAVIA lifts these technical limitations by using its Cloud Control technology as well as charging stations dispatched directly on field.
"This enables remote sensing and surveillance without any human intervention on field, dramatically reducing costs for companies in the need of surveillance or technical monitoring on industrial sites. This is the first step towards full autonomy which will see the drone market explode."
Maarten Ectors, Vice President Internet of Things at Canonical: "For drones to become mainstream, we need more of them to become autonomous and we need to facilitate their maintenance. Ubuntu Core is key to unlocking the full drone potential. It brings onboard intelligence to help drones progress towards autonomous flight thanks to sense and avoid technologies. It facilitates maintenance by making remote software deployments secure, effective and failsafe. UAVIA drones have banked on these attributes building their entire service on Ubuntu on-device, on server and on the pilot software!"

Further reading at Ubuntu Insights | Related: Dronecode Project by Linux Foundation