Summer Development Update

I thought I’d post an update on Chromixium development as it’s been a while since the last update and I am having some well earned time off over the next 2 weeks. I wanted to update the community on what’s been going on since the last release and what the roadmap looks like for the remainder of the year.

Please bear with me, this is going to be a long post!

Chromixium now has a PPA

Last week I took the first tentative steps into the world of Launchpad and set up a Chromixium Development PPA (Personal Package Archive). For people not familiar with PPAs, they are basically software repositories that compliment the main Ubuntu repositories. They provide a way for developers to provide custom packages or updates that can be easily installed and updated in the same way that conventional Ubuntu ones are. Once the PPA is set up on your system via one easy command, you can install and update software from them using apt on the command line or using the “Add, Remove & Update Software” app in the control panel.

PPAs are hosted on Launchpad which is a Canonical-sponsored project. The source code will also be uploaded to the PPA. The Launchpad project page is here:

https://launchpad.net/chromixium

What this means in the short term is that I can push new development software out to the PPA to enhance current Chromixium installations. In the longer term, I will be able to upload all the custom Chromixium desktop applications to the PPA which will markedly improve the development cycle and speed up ISO production. As an end user, you can get new Chromixium updates without needing to reinstall the entire OS.

To get the PPA installed on your system now, simply run this from a terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:chromixium/dev
sudo apt-get update

Nothing will happen until you decide to install some software from the PPA. At the moment there are just 3 simple, but useful packages that are new to Chromixium and need testing:

Google Browser Choice

Install the package google-browser-choice from the PPA if you want to switch to the Google Chrome browser instead of Chromium. Installing this package will add an option to the right-click Applications>Internet menu which you can run to install Google Chrome. It will automate the entire process in about 5 minutes, including complete OS integration. This will however permanently remove Chromium browser (but that shouldn’t be a problem)!

This has been a long-time coming and I know that a lot of Chromixium users have made the switch to Chrome but struggled with the lengthy process described on the Wiki. This package makes the transition to Chrome stress-free!

Please be aware that when running the app, the progress bar might appear to ‘hang’ during the downloading and installing stage. It’s just that this is the lengthiest part of the process and the progress bar will move on after this stage has been completed.

Chromixium Input

The package chromixium-input is a simple application designed to replace gpointing-device-settings and lxinput on Openbox systems such as Chromixium. It uses a combination of synclient, xinput and xmodmap to change various mouse, keyboard and touchpad settings. It sets them for the user session and changes can be made persistent by adding this entry into Startup Applications in the Control Panel:

  1. Right-click the desktop and then Control Panel –> Startup Applications
  2. Click on Add
  3. For Description type “Input settings
  4. In the Command box type “$HOME/.config/chromixium-input
  5. Tick the Active box
  6. Click on OK, then Save, and then Close.

Once installed, it will show up in your Settings menu as “Keyboard, mouse & touchpad settings”:

Chromixum Input GUI

This is a very early development version, please test and feedback! Features supported include:

  • Left/right handed mouse settings
  • mouse/touchpad speed
  • natural scrolling
  • edge/2 finger scrolling on/off
  • touchpad on/off
  • tap to click on/off
  • keyboard repeat speed

Chromecast Daily Wallpaper

Chromecast Daily Wallpaper

Install the package chromecast-daily-wallpaper if you want to automatically set your desktop wallpaper to a background randomly chosen from those displayed on the Google Chromecast. There are about 700 good quality and quite stunning images that this simple script will choose from this website. It’s a command line application only, so once installed follow these steps to get a new wallpaper at each logon:

  1. Right-click the desktop and then Control Panel –> Startup Applications
  2. Find the line nitrogen –restore, double-click to edit and change the command to
    chromecast-daily-wallpaper
  3. Click on OK, then Save, and then Close.
  4. Log out and back in. It might take a few seconds to pull down the image and set it, so be patient!
  5. If you don’t like the image, just right-click the desktop, click on Run Command and simply type:
    chromecast-daily-wallpaper

Chromixium x64

Many people have tested the Chromixium 64 bit release candidate and provided very useful feedback. I have had a lot of requests for a stable release so apologies for the delay. I wanted to make sure that when it is released, it will be the best Chromixium version ever and I couldn’t just update the RC quickly and be done with it – it really needed a complete overhaul.

I wanted to solve as many of the issues with all versions of Chromxium that have been raised on the forums such as UEFI bootloader installation and problems with the Guest session (more info in the Bug Fixes section below). It will also feature the new applications from the PPA.

When I return from my holiday, the x64 version will take full priority and I hope to release an updated test version by the end of September.

Roadmap

The roadmap is what I hope to achieve over the coming 6 months, but as ever is subject to the pressures of modern life and subject to change!

2015
Sept Oct Nov Dec
Chromixium 1.5
x64 RC
Chromixium 1.5
x64 Final
Prioritize packaging
for PPA
New website design?
First Ubuntu 16.04
alpha builds
available to public?
2016
Jan Feb Mar Apr May
Begin building packages against Ubuntu 16.04 Early Chromixium alpha released Chromixium 2.0 Beta Chromixium 2.0 Final

Sourceforge

A few weeks ago Sourceforge which hosted all the Chromixium ISOs went down. This is not unheard of, but disappointingly it was down for the best part of a month. It came back up for downloads after about a week, but I was not able to manage the project page or upload Chromixium 1.5 for some time after that.

It is now back up and running and Chromixium was even featured as a Project of the week for August 3rd. I have now uploaded Chromixium 1.5 32 bit and updated the project pages.

Even wth the outage I was able to get the new Chromixium release out via our GitHub page and we also have torrents and other mirrors so we are covered against any future outages.

Documentation

There is still a lot of documentation to update, notably on installation since the switch to the Ubiquity installer. I have made a start by updating all of the Wiki articles. There is useful information on installing, dual-booting, keyboard shortcuts and customization tips:

http://chromixium.wikidot.com

If you would like to submit some documentation to the Wiki on any aspect of installing, using and confiiguring Chromixium and software applications, please email your document to <chromixium@gmail.com>.

Community

Open Source software works best when the user community gets involved. There are plenty of people following the official Google+ page, but there is now also an ‘unofficial’ Facebook page thanks to 7ab10 from the Chromixium forums for setting this up.

If you would like to get even more involved in Chromixium, join the forum:
http://chromixium.freeforums.org.

There is always a warm welcome to be found and a thriving community of like-minded people. It’s also the best place to get help and advice if you are stuck installing or using Chromixium.

Finally, don’t forget there is a Chromixium YouTube channel.

If you want to get involved in development, or can spare some time in some other way to help the project, I’d love to hear from you!

Bug Fixes

Grub-efi fails to install when installing Chromixium-1.0RC-amd64 in EFI mode, causes the installer to crash.

This is a major bug because the x64 version is the only version that can boot and install on an EFI system, such as modern Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 installations. Although there won’t be a fix until the next ISO is released, there is a work around if you want to install and run the x64 version. Details of the fix are posted on the forum starting at this post here.

Dock icons don’t work in Guest Session on Chromixium 1.5

This problem is caused by a combination of an upstream update to Chromium which in turn caused a bug in the lightdm display manager to rear it’s ugly head.

Unfortunately Ubuntu have not backported an update to lightdm for the Ubuntu 14.04 series, so the only fix is to temporarily enabled the Utopic repos, update lightdm and then disable them again. If you need to make use of the Guest Session though, this will make it work again. The details are posted on the forum here.


RichJack, 2015
Chromixium OS Lead Developer

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6 comments

  1. Check out Ubermix. I think Chromixium is best suited for education and Jim Klein has built an OS made for easy deployment and provides a way to implement the “power wash” feature without removing user files. You can also easily customize the OS and create usb keys in minutes to deploy your customized image to thousands of devices. Chromebooks are primarily purchased by educational institutions. Compatibility and functionality are improved when a full OS is used, and the ease of use and educational suite of apps found on ubermix (and ability to play Minecraft:) makes Chromixium a contender for a perfect educational OS.

    Like

    1. I forgot to mention I am a technology coordinator for a school district with 1:1 laptops. We use ubermix.org as our student laptop OS. I think Chromixium is great but without the features of Ubermix when considering deployment and his willingness to troubleshoot device model specific issues (usually relating to uefi booting similar to issues with chromixium or core issues like glitchy touchpads). I think grants and educational support could keep chromixium going for a long time. Not to mention the knowledge that you are part of the most important thing in the world – educating the future of our country using your OS.

      Like

      1. Last comment.. with free Google Apps for Education- Chromixium fits right in. With a solid state drive and 4gb ram chromixium boots fast, battery life is great, and I just bought 200 Acer Travelmate B113-E at $285. Google drive provides unlimited storage for education so small 32 gb SSD’s can be purchased for $25.

        Like

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