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If you are an Ubuntu fan, rejoice! Ubuntu has just unleashed the full range of their various builds in version 14.04, which is a Long Term Support release. Of course this includes Ubuntu Studio, their Live Disc multimedia powerhouse designed to allow media creation. The tool sets are grouped by workflow in Audio, Graphics, Video, Photography, and Publishing, and each set has a variety of programs useful to the task that you might not expect. As an example, the Video set includes the usual import, edit, A/V effects, and produce/burn software, but it also includes a full range of 3D modeling and animation programs so you can work in both live action and animation mediums. Plus, while I like to run it from the Live Disc, you can install it to hard drive if you prefer. Pretty much all the other Ubuntu variations also released new builds in the last day or so, including Xubuntu, a lightweight desktop optimized for older computers, Kubuntu, which runs the KDE desktop, and Edubuntu, a build designed to allow a teacher with limited technical knowledge to be able to set up a computer lab or build a web site learning environment in an hour or less. It takes a similar approach to administering, making it easy to maintain without becoming a Linux geek in the process.

By now everyone knows of the OpenSSL flaw known as Heartbleed that allows people to break its encryption and harvest all your user names, passwords, credit card info, and so forth. On many fridays I post about Live Discs that give you arsenals of free software targetted at specific tasks. While all of them are good, some of them have not been patched yet, so if you have a favorite build you might check with their users forum and see if they have a patched update to download. If you installed Linux to a computer hard drive or memory stick, run your package manager to check for and install updates. If your computer automatically updates itself, use the command

# openssl version -a
or
# sudo openssl version -a

depending on which OS you installed, and look for the build date. If it is on or after April 7th of this year, you are good. If it is before that, you need to get it upgraded, especially if you built your box as a server. Note that you don’t actually use the # in the command; in a Terminal, Shell, or DOS prompt, that tells the computer that what comes after is a comment. It is on this page in front of the command strings so your system doesn’t get confused and try to run it (that almost NEVER happens, but almost isn’t always). Also, you will have to give the command as root, so knowing your root password is important. Once you have updated, change your root password, and start changing your online passwords.

Even if your favorite Live Disc hasn’t been patched, you can still use all the software on it locally. Just don’t use it to go online and buy anything, do any banking, or sign into email or other services until they have a patched ISO for you to burn to disc. If you have a MAC instead of Linux, guess what; you are using Linux with a MAC GUI interface lying on top of it, you can use your normal proceedures to get it updated and patched. If you use Windows and have OpenSSL on your computer, visit the OpenSSL Web Site to grab an updated build.

Have an old Pentium III or Pentium 4 gathering dust because you can’t stand the 20 minute wait while it slowly boots an obsolete version of Windows? You can now turn it into a fast (or at least faster) useful machine again using Legacy OS 2.1, a Boot From CD (most of the computers from 2000 to 2006 didn’t have DVD drives in them, so a bootable CD is your best Live Disc option) Linux build. The latest version was released earlier this week, and comes with over 200 software packages ready to run right off the disc. That includes all the usual web tools, media players, office software, and everything else a modern computer should have. Of course, after you have tested the Live version to make sure it recognizes and can use your hardware properly, you can always install it to the computer’s hard drive and get it to run even faster, as well as be able to update or add new software, if you like. Another variation this Australian build came out with last October is Legacy OS 2.1 Gamer, with over 100 classic games, including the Open Source version of Doom. It is always good to make something useful and fun again, and this project does that nicely.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, Knoppix 7.3.0 is the latest release of this grand-daddy of Live DVDs. When it first started out in the late ’90s it was built to be both a Live CD to give you an instant free operating system full of free software that would run on almost any hardware you had available, and to be a Rescue Disc. By 2003, when version 3.2 came out, it had become a lot more, with many different specialized builds, including Scientific, Engineering, Game and Network platforms. A lot of folks also used it as a Demo Disc environment, making their own customized builds that would launch straight into their own programs, allowing you to run the software without having to install it on your computer. Over the years the functionality has grown, but the two core abilities that make it so very useful remain its Rescue Disc and its Disc Authoring tool kits.

You can download Knoppix 7.2.0 from one of the mirrors listed, using HTTP, FTP, or BitTorrent, and it is available in both CD or DVD size, depending on how extensive your software needs are. Note that the 650Meg Live CD version unpacks to 2Gig worth of software, so even the smaller file is a powerhouse. The latest version, 7.3.0, can be picked up included with the March copy of Linux Magazine.

The Live DVD build CAE Linux is a complete engineering toolkit for designing, simulating, testing, and creating/printing your own projects. Everything in the build is free and open source software, allowing you to design your device, do multiphysics simulations to optimize it, and generate the code for building it with 3D printing & milling. You can also design and develop your own printed circuit boards, and microcontroller circuits for automation. Not only do you not need to pay for a license for any of this (because of the GNU/Creative Commons licensing it comes with), you don’t even have to install it on your computer; it all runs directly off the DVD, being a Live Disc. This is pretty much the most powerful open source engineering package I know of, if you have any interest in the design and creation of anything from toy cars to advanced robotics, do yourself a favor and check out this build. You can find the download here, although I recommend visiting their home page to learn all about it and see what kind of support resources are also available.

Earlier this week the audio/video production powerhouse AV Linux released it’s newest version, 6.0.3. This is a minor update, mostly focused on fixing bugs and updating software packages to the latest and greatest stable versions, but they did make one non-trivial change; they changed the default kernel to the 3.10.27-PAE low-latency build. This gives improved performance for all aspects of media capture and processing, but especially for PCI audio devices or firewire interfaces. Performance on older platforms and hardware is also enhanced by this change. Whatever type of multimedia creation and processing you were thinking of doing, this Live DVD has all the resources you need for every aspect of the production workflow. You can download the Torrent or the Image and burn it to disk to get your own free toolkit. After you have booted it from the DVD and had a chance to see just how complete the software collection included in this OpSys is, you can also install it to your hard drive if you so desire.