Video: LabX and the GUI web-based desktop

Submitted by Scott Dowdle on Wed, 10/21/2015 - 16:31

I signed up for a free service a few weeks back named LabX. I don't remember where I learned about it... some article I saw posted on LXer I think. Anyway... today I got an email invite from them, signed up for an account and gave it a try.

To be honest I don't know much about it yet and I don't know exactly what it is for and what to do with it... but one this is for sure, I like virtualization and remoting protocols... so it is right up my alley. After creating an account I logged in. Turns out the email address you registered with is your username although that isn't exactly clear from the various screens. Once logged in I was able to start and access a virtual environment that was listed as "Ubuntu 14.04". Connecting to it gave me a GUI desktop in my browser. XFCE / Xubuntu. I recorded a 15 minute screencast (no audio) of the session so enjoy.

Please note, the video is of my Firefox web-browser running on my local desktop and the shown browser tab is my connection to the remote GUI container. The raw video was 1276x1373 resolution and 566.7 MB in size (in .mkv format) but I used ffmpeg to resize it to 720x755 @ 400Kbit so it is now 13.8 MB (in webm format). Much smaller and a little blurry but much better for web streaming.

If you prefer to download and play in local media player, here's the direct URL:
LabX-Xubuntu-1404-web-desktop-demo.webm

Ready for an Intel-based Raspberry Pi alternative?

Submitted by Scott Dowdle on Wed, 10/21/2015 - 11:03

Heard of the Up SoC yet? It is an alternative to the Raspberry Pi but Intel Atom-based. It's a quad-core 64-bit CPU that includes an Intel HD video chipset with hardware acceleration for H.264, HEVC (H.265 decode) and VP8. They have designed it to have a super-set of the Raspberry Pi's hardware feature set in the same form factor. It draws 2 watts of power over 5VDC. Cost? About 3x that of the Raspberry Pi. I wonder if the Atom CPU in question is closer in performance to a Desktop PC CPU than the quad-core ARM in the Raspberry Pi 2?

If you have working WebGL in your browser, you should see a nice, interactive, 3D model below. No flash-plugin required.

Video: Recent public talk with Linus Torvalds

Submitted by Scott Dowdle on Thu, 10/08/2015 - 10:44

Linux Foundation head Jim Zemlin interviewed Linus Torvalds on stage at LinuxCon North America 2015. I thought it was worth sharing. Enjoy!

Here's a direct YouTube link for anyone with browser iframe issues:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xKXHavHJ7U

Here is a summary of an even more recent public interview with Linus from LinuxCon Dublin. I hope a video of it is made available in the not-too-distant future.

Video: Blender's new short film and ffmpeg vp9 test

Submitted by Scott Dowdle on Fri, 09/11/2015 - 14:52

About a month ago the Blender folks released a new film project named Cosmos Laundromat.

Two days ago the ffmpeg folks released version 2.8. I saw one of the changes was that for webm they are now defaulting to using the vp9 video codec and the opus audio codec. Previous releases defaulted to webm with vp8 and ogg.

I've been following vp9 for a few years now... and every once in a while I'd try the libvpx tools and ffmpeg's support for vp9... but it was never quite there yet for non-experts (me). With this release, I say that vp9 is very, very close to viable. The only problem is that the encoding speed still leaves a lot to be desired. For the best results, two pass encoding is required. Using a number of 1080p video sources in h.264 format (all of the Blender films downloaded from YouTube) and a contemporary Intel i7 CPU, I get a little over 100 Frames Per Second (FPS) on pass 1 and between 7 - 9 FPS on pass 2. With a video that is ~24 FPS (all my source videos) it takes a little over 3x realtime to encode them. Well, more because of the two passes. The more popular codecs in ffmpeg are better than real time including vp8/ogg-based webm. Of course those numbers are all highly variable depending on the source material and the hardware you run it on... but you get the idea.

Ok, so encoding speed isn't so great. I'm sure that will get better over time. I'd expect it to be cut in half sometime over the next couple of years... if we are lucky... that and faster hardware... and perhaps GPU encoding support in newer hardware.

But anyway, enough about the encoding speed, how is the quality? Well, see for yourself. I think it truly lives up to the 1/2 the filesize for the same quality compared to vp8/ogg or h.264. I embed Cosmos Laundromat above then directly link to additional ones below if you want more. vp9/opus webm files should play in contemporary versions of Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft IE if you have some plugin installed (haven't tried it) and supposedly coming soon to Microsoft's Edge browser in Windows 10. Safari? Probably never. Play in your browser or right-click download and play with your preferred media player.

Don't blame any download / playback retrieval slowness on vp9... it's probably a lack of bandwidth on the server side... so be patient and pause it until some is buffered. Moving around the playhead should work fairly well unless bandwidth is an issue.

Full screen that if you want. Doesn't that look great? It's 720 x 302 resolution with 400 kbit video and 96 kbit audio. That's why all of the files have 496k in the name. So that's like 62KB / second transfer. Pretty good quality huh?

More vp9 re-encodes with ffmepg 2.8:

2006-Elephants_Dream-496k.webm (38.4MB, 10:53)
2008-Big_Buck_Bunny-496k.webm (31.8 MB, 9:56)
2010-Sintel-496k.webm (52.9 MB, 14:48)
2012-Tears_of_Steel-496k.webm (43.3 MB, 12:14)
2013-Caminandes-Gran_Dillama-496k.webm (8.7 MB, 2:26)

Want to know how it works on Hollywood / live action movies? Here's the trailer for the upcoming film, "The Martian". I don't think I'll get into any trouble for posting a trailer, right? Again, 720 x 405 @ 496 kbit. The black bars were in the original and I didn't remove them.

2015-The_Martian-Trailer-496k.webm (11.5 MB, 3:17)

Want to give vp9 a try? I doubt many distros have packages for ffmpeg 2.8 yet but you can download the static .tar.xz from ffmpeg's site and run it on most Linux distros. That's what I did. I'll leave finding the URL up to the reader because it will certainly change.

So far as encoding goes, I didn't do anything fancy. Just something like:

ffmpeg28 -y -i source.mp4 -f webm -vf scale=720:-1 -b:v 400k -an -pass 1 output.webm.pass1 ;
ffmpeg28 -y -i source.mp4 -f webm -vf scale=720:-1 -b:v 400k -b:a 96k -pass 2 output.webm

I took the static ffmpeg binary and plopped it in ~/bin/ffmpeg28 so I could easily tell it apart from the stock ffmpeg binary. Enjoy!

Video: The Mystery of Dan Walsh

Submitted by Scott Dowdle on Thu, 08/27/2015 - 17:21

Everyone knows Red Hat's Dan Walsh as the SELinux guy... and more recently as the guy who pronounces Docker in a Boston accent as "Dockah". Turns out he was the subject of a recent TNT Network's Rizzoli and Isles episode. Enjoy. Oh, and, "All roads lead... to Dan Walsh." (the missing last 3 seconds)

For those with iFrame issues, here's the direct link:
dan-walsh-mystery.webm

Video: LibreOffice - Online and the Cloud

Submitted by Scott Dowdle on Wed, 08/05/2015 - 14:27

Ever experienced a presentation by Michael Meeks? He reminds me of Monty Python... but I digress. Michael is a well known LibreOffice person and here is a recent talk (published June 26, 2015) from him for, I assume, the Swish Open Source User Group.

I decided today would be a good day to post this because LibreOffice 5 was released. Enjoy!