More on Geotagging

I posted recently about geotagging photos in Linux. There is a post on the digiKam blog about the same subject with a good idea I hadn’t thought off, using your Android (or any other one that can tag photos) phone to take a reference shot. Read the whole post here, it’s worth a look.

Geotagging in Linux

You may ask why geotag images? I have some images I took on film 20 years ago and would love to know where they were taken. Often I have a rough idea but I couldn’t find my way back there if I wanted too. One image is marked ‘beside the Croydon to Georgetown Road, Queensland’. Not very helpful when you think those 2 towns are nearly 150k apart, that’s almost 95 miles for those from non metric places.

Recently I’ve been experimenting with automatically geotagging my photos, also known as GPS Co-relating. This requires having a gps track of where I have been and an application that can match that track with the appropriate photos.

First thing is to create a gps track. This can be done with a dedicated gps unit or with some other device. I chose to use my android phone because I always have it with me. To record the track requires an app. There are many available but I use ‘Open GPS Tracker‘ because it is open source, it’s free and it works. It has many options that I don’t use including real time streaming. It has the option to output .gpx files which is what the co-relating applications require.

After you have the track you need an application to read it and match it to your photos. As always there are a number of options in Linux. Digikam has this option but I couldn’t get it to work reliably so I use ‘GPS Correlator’. It is available in the repos of many Linux distros, just needs a ‘yum install gpscorrelator’ in Kororaa (and Fedora). It has more options than Digikam which is how I got it working.

One thing I should mention is that your camera and gps unit (phone in my case) must have the time settings synchronised as accurately as  possible. Doesn’t need to be to the second but as close as you can get it. As most phones handle their time settings automatically this means changing the setting on your camera. Check it before each use particularly if you live in an area with daylight saving.

In the gpscorrelator screen you can select photos to process then the gpx file you got from your gps unit. You should set the time zone your camera is set to as gps data is always in UTC. You can also set the time difference and offset. Fortunately gpscorrelator has tool tips which describe how to use these options. If you still get no match on some images try selecting the ‘Between Segments’, it compensates for any gaps in your track. Particularly useful for areas with poor gps reception like cities and wooded areas.

Gpscorrelator also has an option to remove gps data from images if you want your location to remain private. This is handy for phones and other cameras that automatically record your location. For images taken at home and at friends’ places you might prefer to keep the location private when you post them on photo sharing sites.

There are a couple of things I’ve learnt so far. First is allow some time between starting the tracker and taking your first image. Also between taking the last image and stopping the tracker. First time I tried it I stopped the tracker when I got back in the car after taking the last images. None of the images taken there would match as the last point in the track was some time before the images were taken. Today when I got it working I started the tracker when I left home and stopped it when I get back.

Second is if you are constantly moving you might need to adjust the ‘Logging Precision’ in ‘Open GPS Tracker’s settings. It defaults to normal but if you find this doesn’t give enough points try a more precise setting or set you own custom interval. Experimenting is the only way to know what works for you. Explore the settings for other options that may improve your accuracy or that you might find useful too.

If you are using the tracker for a long period, e.g. most of the day, you might need to consider battery life. So far I’ve been in the car and I can plug the phone into a charger so that isn’t a problem. But without the external power recording a track for several hours may result in a dead phone battery. This maybe a good use for an old android phone if you have one laying around, maybe you know someone who has recently updated?

Adding location tags to your images is useful now and so easy to do why not try it.

Favourite Linux Applications

Below is a list of the applications I use regularly. I don’t claim they are the best but they are the ones I prefer. Many are KDE based but there are fewer of them than previously. I use both KDE and Xfce as my desktop environments. The apps that come with Xfce are pretty basic so I prefer alternatives.

One of the complaints I have about many of KDE’s apps it that they have been combined with KDEpim which means you can’t install single apps. If you don’t use Kmail and its brethren then I would avoid Blogilo and Kjots, both of which I have previously used.

Chrome / Chromium is my browser of choice. Not perfect, it doesn’t integrate into the desktop too well. But it is fast and has the main extensions I like.

Conky – just calling Conky a system monitor really understates what it can do. Conky can do so much that it requires its own post. Since it introduced real transparency it greatly reduced the problems running it under KDE. One of the first things I set up on a new installation.

Krusader – twin pane file manager. Dolphin is good especially with the split feature but I like the power and retro style of Krusader. I’ve tried others like Midnight Commander which is quite good but nothing comes close to Krusader.

Gimp – it is all you need to edit images. To work with raw files just add ufraw and ufraw-gimp.

Digikam – adds digital asset management aka photo organiser. Has editor which works better for raw images than ufraw but I prefer Gimp. Has export to almost anything you can think of.

Cups-pdf – while Koffice and LibreOffice can create PDFs adding cups-pdf allows you to create them from anything that can print.

Kdenlive – the most stable video editor under Linux. A good balance between power and ease of use. Not perfect but there is nothing better at the moment.

Tilda – a drop down terminal emulator. Makes accessing the terminal so easy and you can hide it and let it get on with what is doing. KDE provides Yakuake which has many options and is a great application.

LibreOffice – the most polished FOSS office suite there is. If only Base was up to the standard of the rest of the suite.

Clementine – what can I say, can’t work without some music. A good mix of features and performance.

Zim – note taker / desktop wiki. I used Kjots for a while but it was integrated into KDEPim which meant it was near impossible to sync it between 2 systems so I switched to Zim. Just as good maybe better but I don’t use all its features and it has fewer dependencies.

So that is it. There are other applications that I use from time to time which work well too, things like Yumex and VLC but the ones above are those I like and use nearly every day. They are all available in Kororaa, a couple require extra repos to be installed in Fedora though.

Kororaa 17 Released (Finally)

Chris Smart announced finally announced the release of Kororaa 17 today. It had been delayed by a couple of weeks waiting for enough mirrors to sync the iso’s but he obviously didn’t want to wait any longer. Full details can be found at the Kororaa site.

The new Cinnamon desktop is a great addition. As expected Kororaa 17 comes with all the extras that we come to expect. It is still based on the current Fedora and so has all the latest applications and access to one of the largest repos around. Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.

Cinnamon Adds Some Spice

One of the big additions to Kororaa 17 is Cinnamon. You probably know that Cinnamon is an alternative interface for Gnome 3. It was developed by LinuxMint to provide a similar usability and experience to Gnome 2 while retaining the technical advantages of Gnome 3. It provides a more traditional user interface that many of us prefer. In the last couple of days Cinnamon has accepted as an official package in Fedora.

I’ve experimented with Cinnamon in a vm for a few days and I must say it is impressive. I can see why it is so popular. Performance is good, even in a vm and it can be made to look good. I found my way around the system without problems and felt comfortable using it something I can’t say for Gnome 3.

Cinnamon is option on the Gnome version of Kororaa 17, you need to select it in Sessions on the login screen. Kororaa 17 beta has been out for some time and if you have it installed you will get the updates to the  final version by simply doing a regular system update. The final version will be officially announced any day now.  See the Kororaa site for more details.

Xfce 4.10

It is old news now that Xfce 4.10 has been released. If you haven’t caught up with it yet there is a tour of the new features. Unfortunately the release was too late for it to be accepted for Fedora 17 which is due out soon. It will be part of Fedora 18 that is due later in the year. However all is not lost as there are repos available for 17 and 16 at Fedora People.

I’ve been running it for a few days now on my Kororaa 16 system and on a separate Fedora 16 Xfce spin. While there are no earth shattering changes 4.10 includes some nice improvements over 4.8. One that is not mentioned on the tour is support for wallpaper slideshows. There is no need to run scripts as we did in earlier versions. The improvements in Settings and the addition of the Mime Type Editor are useful too.

The update procedure went well after first removing xfburn which requires some work to function in 4.10. There was an issue with the main panel having everything on the left. This is easily fixed by adding a separator and setting it to expand. The systems have not missed a beat, they are still as stable as they were. If you didn’t notice the changes you wouldn’t know it had been updated. If only other DE’s could learn from that.

All in all this is a good update and recommended for all Xfce users.

More on Kororaa 15

I recently posted on my experiences installing Kororaa 15. Kororaa is a remix of Fedora so most of this also applies to Fedora 15. I have installed it on my desktop as well now and the result was similar.

I did mention that I was using nouveau instead of installing the proprietary Nvidia drivers. I noticed a few strange things including tabs in Chrome crashing on some websites, Gmail being one of them.

Another Kororaa user reported problems with the Extras installer that automates the installation of Flash, Nvidia and ATI drivers so I decided to install the Nvidia drivers and test for the problem. I did find a problem and had to do a separate installation of the drivers but one result was all of the strange problems I had been experiencing disappeared. It goes without saying then that when I installed on my desktop I didn’t wait and installed the drivers as part of my initial setup.

I also added KDE 4.7 as detailed in the previous post. It comes with Digikam 2.0 and other updates and is another great step forward for KDE. It is not available in the usual repos for Fedora 15 but will be part of 16. If you are a KDE user I recommend it.

KDE 4.7

The latest version of KDE, 4.7, was released in July. There were questions regarding its availability for Fedora 15. After some initial indecision it has been made available but not in official updates. This is due to changes in the packaging.

One of the criticisms of the way KDE was packaged for Fedora was the use of metapackages. These metapackages reduced the number of available packages but meant you needed to install many applications you didn’t want to get one that you did. While this made it simple for new users it was an irritation for more experienced users. With 4.7 this has changed and individual packages are available for most KDE apps. The metapackages still exist but they are more like groups now as they will pull in a number of other packages. The metapackages themselves are empty.

So KDE 4.7 will be part of Fedora 16 but not released officially for Fedora 15. However packages have been made available for those who can’t wait. See this post on the KDE mailing list for details on updating Fedora 15 to KDE 4.7.

I have been using it for a few days and find it is quite stable. While most of the changes are not immediately obvious the more you use it the more you find. Many of the packages are updated to new versions. One I noticed straight away was digiKam which is now version 2.

If you are using Fedora 15 KDE I would suggest updating as this doesn’t feel like a testing release more like a regular stable release.

Kororaa 15

Kororaa has been mentioned a number of times here before but if you haven’t caught up with it before it is a Fedora Remix that includes as standard all those extras most people add to their system. The latest Kororaa release is a beta based on Fedora. I should stress that the beta part applies to the extras added to Kororaa as the Fedora part is right up to date as it includes all the updates up to the release date.

I’ve been using the Kororaa beta 2 64 bit KDE on my laptop for a little while and can report it is generally good. I had a couple of issues initially but once sorted I am liking the new version.

First problem was I was starting Conky using a short script that I had installed in KDE’s Autostart. The script caused the system to lock up. Not sure why but when I removed it everything ran as expected. I simply put Conky in Autostart as an appication and it works. The script simply delayed the startup to allow the window manager to load. I think it was a carry over from the time I used Compiz on xfce and it isn’t needed any more.

Second problem involved getting the services I needed for my Conky to run. The method of managing services in Fedora 15 has changed from earlier versions as a result of the introduction of Systemd. There is good documentation on the changes on the Fedora Wiki. After I found that I had almost everything working

I have a nvidia graphics card on this laptop and I’m using the free nouveau as opposed to the closed proprietory drivers. It is working with Kwin’s Desktop Effects which it never has in previous versions. There are some differences with the look of the screen and some effects aren’t as smooth as with the nvidia driver. But I will keep nouveau for a while longer at least. One problem with not using the nvidia driver is that nouveau doesn’t report the state of the driver, temp etc. so I will need to change my Conky setup to get that working.

This is the first Kororaa or Fedora that I can say I actually like the splash screen, I haven’t replaced it yet. I usually customise the splash screen and the kdm screen too. Blue is not my favourite colour.

All of these comments are Fedora system things and not Kororaa specific. One thing I did use was Kororaa’s Add / Remove Extras tool to install Flash. It also can install the nvidia or ATI graphics drivers and may be expanded to cover other things later. It worked well although it installs the i686 flash and not the 64 bit which has had some security problems and has never made it past beta. Another advantage of starting with Kororaa was I didn’t need to install many of the packages I usually add. They are all there after the installationis finished. I restore my data, configure a few options and I’m ready to go.

I would recommend Fedora 15 but if you want all the features of Fedora in a ready to go package try Kororaa.

New / Old Fedora Remix

There is a new remix of Fedora that has just been released. Koororaa is based on Fedora 14 KDE. It is actually a return of an old KDE remix but now it is based on Fedora.

It comes preinstalled with popular non-KDE apps such as Firefox and Gimp as well as having extra repos such as Flash and RPMFusion preconfigured. There is also a Lite version which can be used on basic machines such as netbooks or as the base for a customised system. There are 32 and 64 bit versions too. Both run as live versions so can be used without installation.

I have been experimenting with the standard version and was impressed with the included packages even though he has it tagged as a Beta version. I intend to install it on a system in the next few days and give it a further tryout.

The developer, Chris Smart, is an Australian based in Canberra so it is nice to see something this useful coming out of Oz. Have a look at his site at kororaa.org

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