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Links 08/02/2009: Linux Aficionado in Government, New Distributions

Posted in News Roundup at 6:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish


  • 10 obscure Linux applications you need to try

    Do a search for Linux applications on Freshmeat and you’ll get around 11,828 hits. (As of January 12, 2008, that was the tally.) Of those 11,828 applications, which ones are worth using? Not 100 percent of them for sure. Still, buried within that grand total you will find a few gems that get zero publicity but are worth giving a go. This article will highlight some these little-known apps, which range from multimedia to certificate authority tools and anything/everything in between.

  • Shutter (aka GScrot): Screenshot Utility on Steroids

    Writing computer-related tutorials, documentation, articles, etc., is virtually impossible without a good utility for taking screenshots — and Shutter (formerly known as GScrot) has all the features you could possible need.

  • Breakdown of Linux Virtualization and Gaming Emulation

    More and more, emulation on linux is becoming more and more crucial. Today, we’re breaking down the many different options that exist for emulation. Whether it be Operating System or Gaming, emulation has certainly come a long way in the last few years.

  • Linux Around the World

    One of the coolest things about the Internet for me personally is that it lets you travel the world, yet can always bring you home in an instant. This may sound corny, but it never fails to amaze me, especially when I am far from home, as I am now.


    Projects like this are a great step towards solving the localization problem for computer users who might not always have systems in their native language. These LoCo teams, of which there are over 180, are local groups dedicated to providing support to their communities. All volunteer, all for the mission of furthering Ubuntu and Linux deployments.

    Where ever we are in the world, how can we reach out to help get Linux to those around us?

  • Fatal Windows 7 Flaw Will Bolster Linux Netbooks

    First, let me point out that I think Microsoft has done a reasonably good job developing Windows 7. Most early buzz about the operating system was positive. But when it comes to running Windows 7 on netbooks, Microsoft has made a fatal design decision that will open the door for more Linux netbooks. Skeptical? Consider the evidence.

    Microsoft’s Windows 7 Starter edition — which will target netbooks — can only run three applications simultaneously. Did somebody suddenly rewind the clock 15 years? Has Microsoft lost its mind? Even novice users run far more than three applications during one sitting.

  • FairPoint e-mail troubles continue

    Not even in-depth knowledge of computers has provided immunity, as is shown by Jon “maddog” Hall of Amherst, who is internationally known in the Linux and open-source software community.

    Hall had channeled a number of different e-mail accounts through Verizon, all of which were cut off following the problems with FairPoint’s final system takeover last weekend.

    “This is embarrassing,” Hall admitted Thursday.

    So many of the e-mails sent to Hall have bounced back as undeliverable that he has been removed from several mailing lists that are used to keep the global Linux community connected.

    “I just got an e-mail message from the automated e-mail system of the group that I founded 15 years ago, telling me that it was going to remove me from the mailing list because of ‘excessive bounces’,” he wrote in an e-mail to The Telegraph.

    Compounding his problems is that when FairPoint took over all of Verizon’s systems it apparently stopped supporting some Linux systems. Hall had to go to the local library and access FairPoint’s Web pages through a Windows-based system in order to make changes to his account, and even so he hit obstacles that puzzled him.

  • Obama names Doerr, Phillips to economic board

    Two Silicon Valley leaders have been appointed by President Obama to a 16-person committee that’s charged with offering economic advice during what has become an unusually sharp and deep recession.

    John Doerr, the billionaire venture capitalist at Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, is one. Doerr was involved in funding companies including Google, Amazon.com, Sun Microsystems, and Cypress Semiconductor; he currently serves on the board of companies including Amazon and Google and has recently turned his attention to green tech.

    Charles Phillips, the president of Oracle, is another. Phillips became president in May 2003 and previously was with Morgan Stanley’s Institutional Securities Division. He’s a Linux aficionado and said in 2005: “On demand is the future of software for many years to come and we are building it on Linux.”

  • Top 5 Linux Games for 2009

    As we go about “realizing” our New Year’s resolutions were maybe just a bit too stringent, I’m going review the top five games in Linux. Once the great downfall to the platform now can only be considered a strength, in the hopes you take up this guilty pleasure and wait for 2010 before you give up on gaming. May I present the premier Linux gaming software with the best from each genre.

  • Embracing Change: The Linux Paradigm

    It’s time to embrace change in the IT world. Linux, for many, is ushering in a new age of reason. Its cost, stability, and open licensing make it a clear choice for those wanting to save money or shore up their service offerings. Companies, large and small, are turning to Linux to lower costs, leveraging existing hardware with virtualization, and making better use of people resources through cross-training on Linux systems. There’s no denying the recent ‘move to Linux and open source’ trend.

  • FAQ: How Google Latitude locates you

    In the near future, you’ll also be able to use Latitude on the iPhone and iPod Touch with the Google Mobile App in the U.S., and on many Sony Ericsson devices. In addition, you can use Latitude today on a Linux, Mac or Windows PC by using the Latitude iGoogle gadget (you’ll need a Google Account) and iGoogle, Google’s

  • 10 free photo/image tools for Linux

    Okay, you’re probably wondering why would anyone want an alternative image editor to GIMP – the GNU Image Manipulation Program. After all, it appears in all the major distros already and is easily the most popular image/photo tool for Linux OSs.

  • Kernel Space

    • ext4: The Fourth Extended Filesystem

      The ext4 file system is to be the successor to the ext3 journaled file system and will be available as an optional file system in the next release of Ubuntu, Ubuntu 9.04.

      The ext4 file system is now, as of December 25, 2008, released as stable and can be used as the dominant file system without fear of data lose…well, to be more clear I mean no more fear than any other “stable” file system.

  • KDE

    • Science and KDE: rkward

      rkward is a nice frontend for the R programming language, which adds a GUI with the power of KDE to R. Unfortunately the program is still somewhat unstable (also shown by a warning when you run it) and its main developer has currently very little time to work on it. In case you may want to help, you can hop to the rkward-devel mailing list.

    • Katapult Your Programs!

      This is the distinct advantage Linux has over Windows. Instead of a few hundred employees (at a company like Microsoft or Adobe) creating new software applications, the Linux world has thousands of users and advocates creating and improving software.

  • Distributions

    • (GNU) Linux distros: What’s the best?

      As far as I try to find an answer, I get more and more confused. The question is complex, no doubt about it.
      Ubuntu, Mandriva, Fedora, Debian, Slackware, OpenSuse, Gentoo… too many flavors, as in ice cream kiosk, with a clear difference: in ice cream stores there is no a flavor winner, the real winners are the kids, I guess. By the way, ¿Is there a “best” ice cream?

    • From the archives: the best distros of 2000

      Back in May 2000 the first issue of Linux Format magazine hit the newsstands. One of its features was a group test of Linux distributions, reflecting the state of play in Linux flavours at the time. If you fancy a trip down memory lane or just a quick look at how beautiful Linux wasn’t all those years ago, we’ve dug out the original article complete with screenshots – read on!

    • Damn Small indeed.

      I now have an operation version of Linux on a Pendrive. It might be worth noting that the ink in the pen dried up a long time ago. I look at my handy little pendrive and smile. Then I look at the pile of notes I wrote while I was trying to get it to work. For the moment I will continue to bask in my Linux victory and for now I think I will put the notes in my computer room.

    • Mandriva

      • Mandriva Linux: What Windows should be.

        For the last 15 or more years I have been waiting for Linux to be as user friendly as Windows. As more and more impressive software came out for windows, this grew stronger and stronger. Now, I am finally satisfied. I installed and instantly saw that my life was about to get easier. I spend about 16 hours a day coding and Googling. So, my operating system must be top notch. I also do not like to sit and type commands all day either. But with Mandriva 2009, I do not have to!

        It happens everytime my girlfriend goes to MySpace. She gets infected with malware, despite running Spybot SD and AVG. Great job, now I am going to have to clean her PC out again right? Wrong, I formatted the drive and installed Mandriva. She is now browsing safely and is having no problem using Linux. It is as easy as Windows now, but without the bullshit. Now, I do not complain that she is going to MySpace!


        ON BEHALF OF TEXSTAR, The Ripper Gang is pleased to announce the third public beta ISO release of what will ultimately become PCLinuxOS 2009. Due to some very personal issues, Texstar has taken a temporary leave of absence, but not to worry folks, he’ll be back very soon.

    • New Releases

    • Ubuntu

      • New Ubuntu Netbooks: More Than A Pretty Face?

        The love affair between netbooks and Ubuntu continues, this time with Hewlett-Packard (pictured) and Toshiba launching new Ubuntu-driven portables. However, not all Ubuntu netbooks are created equally — especially when it comes to the graphical user interfaces. Here’s why.

        HP says it is releasing a new version of their Mini 1000 netbook computers. This new version is powered by Ubuntu’s Netbook Remix and has been customized with a skin (or graphical user interface) specifically designed by HP.

      • Ubuntu, Linux Mint, & gOS Benchmarks

        Since we only tested two Ubuntu-based distributions in this article and one of them was based upon an earlier version of Ubuntu, we will not be drawing any conclusions in this article or further insight, but we simply wanted to share these numbers per the request of a reader.

      • Ubuntu Survey Tidbits

        As many of you are no doubt aware from the coverage, we at RedMonk recently participated in a survey with the good folks over at Canonical to get a better sense of where the Ubuntu community is at at present. Not shockingly, the returns are interesting and clearly – in my view – worth exploring. The following Q&A will explore some of the more interesting questions, though I encourage you all to take a look at the survey data yourselves, as I’d love to hear what you extract from it. You can get that here; you do have to register, but it’s all opt-in vis a vis the contact aspects, which is good.

      • Ubuntu developers visiting Ubuntu Berlin and c-base – plus interview with Mark Shuttleworth

        By chance the Ubuntu Developer Sprint happened to be in Berlin for the next Jaunty release this week. If I got it right, the Canonical Ubuntu developers meet five days around two weeks before a release feature freeze and work in groups and issues that need to be decided/designed or just fixed immediatly. The incredible Daniel Holbach had the idea of inviting the bunch of developers right into the c-base after their work. So he did and we scheduled it for an evening when the Ubuntu Berlin crew also meets at c-base for their monthly jour fix.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Purple Labs Revenues Jump On Openwave Deal

      Serving as a ray of light in an otherwise dark economic climate, Purple Labs reported its revenue quadrupled to $14.1 million in the second half of 2008 compared with the first half, and that it has raised about $29.25 million in series-B funding.

      The French company, a mobile stack developer and LiMo Foundation member, contributed the significant jump in revenue largely to the acquisition and relaunch of its Openwave mobile browser business.

    • Tiny Silent Linux PC Gets Updated

      In 2007 we ran a story on the tiny linux PC The Linutop. Now the diminutive system has hit version 2.4 and with it an official launch in the UK. The pint-sized, open source Linux PC is designed to run silently and is highly energy efficient at just 8 watts.

      “Linutop, a leading European company which specialises in providing small Linux PCs for businesses and the public sector, today announced its UK launch of Linutop 2.4. The pint-sized, open source Linux PC is designed to run silently and is highly energy efficient. Due to its small size and low maintenance requirements, the Linutop 2.4 is the ideal solution for internet kiosks, network monitoring and digital displays.

    • Phones

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Score an Aspire One Netbook for $239.99 shipped

        It’s not quite as compelling as the $178 Dell Mini 9 from last week, but it’s definitely a better deal overall: Newegg has the Acer Aspire One Netbook for $239.99 shipped. It’s new, not a refurb, and there are no rebates.

      • Three Reasons Windows 7 Will Fail On Netbooks

        In its infinite wisdom, Microsoft has tried to counter Linux on Netbooks with Windows 7 Starter. But in the end, The VAR Guy predicts, the three application limit will kill all customer interest in Windows 7 Starter. And users who accidentally purchase Windows 7 Starter will be turned off by Microsoft’s artificial limitations.

      • Take note – small is beautiful

        The other reason netbooks became popular was simple. Linux, a free operating system for computers, was cheaper to put on to these devices than Windows, for which hefty licences have to be paid to Microsoft by the manufacturer. With a free operating system and free software available for simple tasks like web browsing, e-mail and word processing, netbooks began to take off a couple of years ago. The result has been a threat even to the normal laptop market.

        But Linux is not normally a familiar operating system to those who are used to the bells and whistles of Windows Vista or Mac OS. Instead, Linux-run netbooks run more like appliances and are therefore not really traditional personal computers in that they are less personally customisable.

      • Review: Dell Inspiron Mini 12

        The review model provided runs the Ubuntu distribution of Linux. This poses an interesting conundrum for many people because, although Linux avoids the extra cost of a Windows licence, it can be a daunting prospect for those who have never used it before.


        Overall, the Mini 12 seems best suited to the type of worker who may move around a lot, but usually works in an environment that has access to power, for instance a sales executive who visits a lot of client sites, or a manager who spends a lot of time at remote or branch offices.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source integration tools are ‘enterprise ready’

    The survey, conducted by open source data integration provider Talend, said organisations trying to lower total cost of ownership (TCO) for data integration software, were considering OSS.

    This was not just for one-time projects, but also “for on-going mission-critical processes, to replace or complement their expensive CPU-dependent solutions,” Talend claimed.

    The survey found 31.2 percent of respondents use open source tools in combination with commercial applications for data integration. Talend said: “In fact, open source solutions are often complementary to an existing proprietary solution that, for functional or cost reasons, is unable to address a specific need.”

  • Support for CSS animations added to WebKit nightly build

    The WebKit team has been working on improving the CSS standard and recently added support for “explicit” keyframe-based animations to the nightly builds of WebKit, giving developers a powerful way to animate styles without having to use other animation tools.

  • Opera says next JavaScript engine will be fastest around

    Carakan (pronounced Tsharakan) is now 2.5 times faster than Futhark, the JavaScript engine in the Opera 10 browser. It could be even faster when ready, the company said. The company plans to release Carakan as soon as possible in an as-yet-undetermined version of the Opera browser.

  • Enter the Lizard

    At a time when Microsoft is increasing its lobbying, and seeking to hire people specifically to monitor – and presumably fight – open source, it is absolutely vital that powerful organisations like Mozilla take the initiative by engaging directly with governments and other relevant bodies.

  • The European Commission and Microsoft

    Last month the European Commission stated its preliminary conclusion that “Microsoft’s tying of Internet Explorer to the Windows operating system harms competition between web browsers, undermines product innovation and ultimately reduces consumer choice.”

    In my mind, there is absolutely no doubt that the statement above is correct. Not the single smallest iota of doubt. I’ve been involved in building and shipping web browsers continuously since before Microsoft started developing IE, and the damage Microsoft has done to competition, innovation, and the pace of the web development itself is both glaring and ongoing. There are separate questions of whether there is a good remedy, and what that remedy might be. But questions regarding an appropriate remedy do not change the essential fact. Microsoft’s business practices have fundamentally diminished (in fact, came very close to eliminating) competition, choice and innovation in how people access the Internet.

  • Taking It to the Street: Q&A With Marketcetera CEO Graham Miller

    Marketcetera calls its Automated Trading Platform the first open source platform of its kind for traders, hedge fund managers and broker and dealers. Though open source software is gaining wider acceptance in business, getting the Wall Street world to open up to open source presented a “fairly uphill battle,” according to CEO Graham Miller.

  • Forbes prescribes open source for the unemployed

    Unemployed? Take a lead from the great open source entrepreneurs, and have a slice of open source cake, suggests Sramana Mitra in an interesting Forbes article that goes on to profile Apache and CollabNet Founder Brian Behlendorf, SugarCRM Founder John Roberts, and SpringSource Founder Rod Johnson.

  • Joshua: DIY Chess Playing Robot

    For those who don’t remember, Joshua is a DIY free software / free hardware chess robot that includes schematics as well as complete software with a nice GUI (licensed under the GNU GPL) to control the finished chess robot.


  • Wikipedia offers print-on-demand

    German Wikipedia users now have several print options. They can print pages via the print version option on the Wikipedia page, or they can order a complied document through a new print-on-demand option. The print-on-demand feature is the result of work that started in 2007 between the Wikimedia Foundation and PediaPress. While the print-on-demand (POD) service is currently only available on the German language Wikipedia, English language Wikipedia and other Wikimedia project support is coming in spring 2009.

  • [A2k] EU term extension directive

    It seems that this visit was a mere formality. According to information given to our Parliament EU has already reached a compromise: the term will be extended by 20 years.

  • ACTA to make file sharing sites a crime

    The Governments negotiating ACTA seem to be planning to make file sharing sites a crime. And they refuse to tell citizens what they are doing.

    This is the standard procedure by which governments use trade treaties to attack their citizens. First they draw up a treaty by which they all promise to do so. Then they say, “We have to agree to every provision of we won’t get the business benefit of the treaty.” Then people surrender their freedom.

  • Why protesters are now stalkers

    One of the most heartbreaking articles I have ever read was a response column published recently in the Guardian. Edward Countryman explained that he was writing on behalf of his wife, Evonne Powell-Von Heussen, “who could not bear to face” the unintended consequences of the thing she had created.

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Ogg Theora

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  1. David Gerard said,

    February 8, 2009 at 8:53 am


    The three-application limit for Windows 7 on netbooks is jawdroppingly stupid. It would take a while to start up, and use a lot of power, but Windows 7 would actually be quite usable in 512MB or 1GB memory.

    So people are going to get a broken Windows 7, decide Windows sucks and go back to XP. Or maybe Linux.

    I realise this is the closest Microsoft has to a market differentiator, to avoid selling the real Windows 7 at $0-$5 an OEM copy … but what OEM is going to go for this, and what will the users say when they get it? This is how to turn Windows 7 into Vista in public perceptions.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    February 8, 2009 at 9:21 am


    The fact that XP for sub-notebooks runs until 2010 serves as a clue.

  3. David Gerard said,

    February 8, 2009 at 9:29 am


    I can’t believe Steve “Trains Run On Time” Ballmer won’t get Windows 7 out well in time for Christmas this year. I don’t see how such a thing could even be implied.

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    February 8, 2009 at 9:36 am


    I’ve stumbled upon at least 2 sources which said 2010 is likely as release year.

    Granted, they could release a half-baked thing (like Vista) and continue development while it’s live on people’s desktops. Patches used to render Vista ubootable every other month or so.

    Buy Vista 7 and become part of the testing process…

    “Guinea wha??”

  5. pcolon said,

    February 8, 2009 at 1:11 pm


    The Need for Greed Syndrome.

    First they push out the vaporware thru betas.

    Now they’re testing marketing and licensing schemes to see what sticks.

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