ubermix 2.0 Release Candidate

Posted by Jim Klein On Saturday, May 10, 2014 1 comments
Calling all testers: the final release of ubermix 2.0 is just about ready for liftoff and, after a number of beta test rounds with key ubermixers around the world, we are pleased to pre-release ubermix 2.0rc1 (release candidate 1) to the general public. Please try it on all your devices and let us know what works and what doesn't, so that we can make the final version the best it can be in a few weeks. You can find a download link at the end of this post.

ubermix 2.0 (code name: HoneyBadger) brings with it two years of expertise and ideas from all over the world, packaged on the latest underpinnings from Ubuntu, version 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr). The interface has been updated as well, and is now based on a custom version of Cinnamon, which is modern, light, flexible, and easy to use.


You'll notice in the screenshot above that the categories are all there, just like ubermix 1.x, and that favorites are now in a column on the left. You can drag-n-drop icons from the main list to the favorites bar, or right click on any application and add to the favorites list from the options that appear.

There is also a "search" box at the top, which is active the moment the menu is open (which you can accomplish by clicking "Activities" or pressing the left Super [Windows] key.) Simply start typing and the application list will narrow to the applications that match your search. You then simply press the enter key to open the desired app.

Window snapping is another great feature. If your screen is large enough, simply drag a window to the top, bottom, left, or right edge, and ubermix will automatically resize it to fill half the screen, for side-by-side work. Or you can drag to a corner for a 4-way split.


Switching between running applications is also improved. Alt-tab switching will show you a live preview of the window in each application, and there is a new "Scale" button in the toolbar that shows all open windows, allowing you to click on the one you want.


These are but a few of the improvements - there is plenty more to discover in ubermix 2.0!

Besides interface improvements, ubermix 2.0 comes with a bunch of new applications to go with your old favorites, including:
  • Shutter: The ultimate screenshot tool that allows you to edit and annotate your screenshots with all the circles, arrows, and text you want immediately after capturing the screen, a window, or a selected area.
  • Anki Memory Trainer: Powerful, intelligent, modern flashcard-style memory trainer (replaces iGnuIt)
  • Kojo: A learning environment with many different features that enable play, exploration, creation, and learning in the areas of Computer Programming, Math and Science, Systematic and Computational Thinking, Art, Music, and Creative Thinking.
  • WriteType: A word processor that helps students experience success in writing. It features Word Completion, Reading Back the Document, Highlighting, Grammar Checking, Auto-correction, and multiple languages.
  • Blender: Free and open 3D creation software. Incredible design, engineering, animation, movie and game making software for advanced users.
  • Fotowall: Creative tool that lets you organize photos and videos. Make the perfect arrangement with your photos, add text, live video from your webcam and the best internet pictures into amazing collages.
  • Calibre:  e-book library management application developed by users of e-books for users of e-books. Features extensive creation and annotation features, broad format support, and the ability to search for new e-books from a variety of free and paid sources.
  • FocusWriter: FocusWriter is a simple, distraction-free writing environment. It utilizes a hide-away interface that you access by moving your mouse to the edges of the screen, allowing the program to have a familiar look and feel to it while still getting out of the way so that you can immerse yourself in your work.
  • Geany: Geany is a small and lightweight Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for programming. I supports a wide-variety of languages, Syntax highlighting, Code folding, auto-completion, and auto-closing of HTML/XML tags.
  • Google Web Designer: Create engaging, interactive HTML5-based designs and motion graphics that can run on any device.
  • Ninja IDE: NINJA-IDE (from the recursive acronym: "Ninja-IDE Is Not Just Another IDE"), is a cross-platform integrated development environment (IDE) for Python programming. It features a Powerful Code Editor, Amazing Code Locator, simple Project Management, and is Highly Extensible.
  • Kazam: Kazam provides a well designed and easy to use interface for capturing screencasts and screenshots. It can record desktop video and multiple audio streams simultaneously with control over audio levels and the screen region being captured.
  • MuseScore: Create, play back and print beautiful sheet music with free and easy to use music notation software.
For techies, ubermix 2.0 brings a number of key improvements, including the following:
  • ubermix 2.0 is now running the latest 64bit Linux kernel from Ubuntu, bringing significantly improved device support, support for larger memory configurations, and more efficient use of hardware, which brings noticeable improvements in overall performance. With that, there is something of a drawback: While ubermix 2.0 will run fine on most systems, particularly ancient devices may be unable to run it due to lack of 64bit support. For those systems I would recommend sticking with 1.x, which will continue to receive updates through May 2015 and maintenance through 2017. 
  • There is a new "Advanced Install" option that will allow you to set the base system and user changes partition sizes during the installation process, making it far easier to customize the install to your liking.
  • ubermix 2.0 is no longer tied to fixed partition sizes on the disk, so there is little cost to having a large base partition. Rather than taking an image of the entire partition when updating a key, it instead shrinks the partition down to the smallest possible size first, prior to copying the image to the key. Conversely, when upgrading from one version to a newer one, rather than looking to see that the disk is configured identically, the installer instead looks to see if the base system partition is big enough to hold the update and, if so, offers to upgrade. All this means smaller keys, greater flexibility, and quicker installs.
  • ubermix now supports the latest UEFI hardware, which includes most newer devices that come with Windows 8 by default, including higher end tablets.
There's plenty more to check out in ubermix 2.0. If you'd like to get to know ubermix 2.0 right away, download ubermix-key2.0rc2.img and follow the "Creating a USB key" instruction on the ubermix.org web site to create your install key today!

Update 5/14/14: The link above now reflects Release Candidate 2. 

1 comments:

Jim Klein said...

A few more notes for techies:

Default partition sizes are stored in files on the key similarly to the way they were before, however the files are easier to understand, should you wish to change them manually. You should *never* change the 'sys_min_size.dat' file, however you can change the 'sys_size.dat' and 'user_size.dat' files. The sizes are in megabytes, and are numbers only, should you choose to update.

If you will be installing on UEFI hardware, I recommend enabling legacy boot, rather than going UEFI, since it's easier to setup. I've seen two different mechanisms for enabling legacy mode in various BIOS implementations: either a "Boot Mode" option that specifically lists 'legacy', or a "CSM" (Compatibility Support Module) that can be enabled to support legacy boot. CSM seems to be most prevalent on Asus hardware. If you already have ubermix installed, your system is in legacy mode, so no changes should be necessary. If the target system is brand new and came with Win8, you will likely need to enable legacy boot in the BIOS.

If your system does not support legacy boot, then you must disable UEFI secure boot in your BIOS before ubermix will work. Most BIOS vendors have made this difficult by showing a secure boot enable/disable option that you can't seem to change. What they want you to do is enter a "supervisor" password on the security page first, then they will allow you to make the change. Having a BIOS password is not a bad idea, in my opinion, however if you want to remove it after making the change, simply return to the security screen and set the password back to blank.

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