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Links 09/03/2009: Google Android Enters the Desktop, German Government Funds Free Software

Posted in News Roundup at 10:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Sneaky Cisco plots to take over Microsoft’s world

    [T]here’s another company that is increasingly setting its sights on Microsoft, and it’s doing so largely unnoticed. The company is networking giant Cisco, which through a mix of open-source software and collaboration technology is launching a credible campaign to deep-six Microsoft’s desktop dominance.

  • Linux Foundation’s “We’re Linux” Contest Enters Final Week

    With More Than 35 Videos Submitted So Far, the Competition Heats Up as March 15 Deadline Draws Near

  • OpenSolaris on IBM System z mainframe will be a niche

    “With the success of the Linux initiative, mainframe is less of a dirty word,” Ferguson said. “Yes, Solaris on System z is a niche, but I think it has the potential to advance the consolidation push and the virtualization push.”

  • System76 Serval Professional Notebook

    Finding a laptop that can run Linux is no longer much of a challenge. As we have shared in numerous netbook and notebook reviews, a majority off the shelf PCs shipping with Windows can easily be replaced with Linux and chances are most — if not all — of the components will “just work” on this open-source operating system, while ill-supported parts can usually be configured to work in just a few steps. For those looking to save time or avoid a potential headache, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and other major vendors have been offering Linux notebooks for some time now. One of the smaller vendors though that has been offering Ubuntu Linux notebooks (along with desktops and servers) is System76 Inc. This Colorado-based company not only ensures their hardware is 100% compatible with Ubuntu Linux, but they also preload some popular software packages that are not installed by default on Ubuntu. In this review we are looking at the System76 Serval Professional notebook.


    If you don’t mind paying more for a notebook that ships with Ubuntu and is guaranteed to run nicely with Linux — along with supporting a vendor that is centered around the Linux ecosystem — the System76 Serval Professional is a notebook worth considering for your next purchase.

  • How should we spread the Linux word?

    If people are unhappy with their current computing needs then you can show them alternative ways of meeting those needs. Perhaps those alternative ways may be better. If people, no matter what their computing skill, see a better or easier way of doing what they want then they will use it. Because it benefits them.

  • 10 Reasons You Should Not Switch To Linux

    1) You shouldn’t switch to Linux because… you actually enjoy paying for an operating system that is so mired with bugs and issues that it shouldn’t be even released as an alpha build. What recession?

    2) You shouldn’t switch to Linux because… change is always scary. Look at Obama, he scares the shit out of me. I voted for him but he always talks about change and change is always scary even if that change will make things better.

    3) You shouldn’t switch to Linux because… the only thing you use your computer is to play games. I mean people still use computer for anything other than games?

    4) You shouldn’t switch to Linux because… You love to dedicate one whole day of your week just for scanning purposes. Anti-virus scan – Spyware Scan – Defragmentation scan – Registry Scan & defrag. What Fun!

  • Just in: Google’s Android OS is coming to the desktop this year

    Android, you ask? What would a Linux-based phone operating system be doing on the desktop? Running it, perhaps. You see, Matthäus Krzykowski and Daniel Hartmann, founders of start-up Mobile-facts, discovered late last year that Android has two product policies in its code. Product policies, they explained, are instructions in an operating system aimed at specific uses. Android’s two policies are phones and MIDs (mobile Internet devices). You probably know MIDs by their more popular name: netbooks.

  • Applications

    • Make ebooks pretty with GutenMark

      Project Gutenberg is a real treasure trove for bookworms and casual readers alike, but turning etext files into a readable form is not as easy as it may seem. In theory, since etexts are just plain text files, you should be able to open and read them on any platform without any tweaking. In practice, however, this approach rarely works. Hard line breaks, for example, ruin the text flow, making it virtually impossible to read the book on a mobile device. Another problem is that most books are stored as single files, so locating a particular chapter or section in a lengthy book can quickly become a serious nuisance. Then there are minor, but still annoying formatting quirks, such as inconsistent handling of italicized text, use of straight quotes instead of smart ones, and so on.

    • 29 Music-making Apps for Linux

      Last week we looked at why Linux deserves some consideration when choosing an operating system for your digital recording studio. But even the worthiest operating system is useless without useable apps.


      Most of the programs are available free of charge, and in general are of higher quality than the free audio apps for Windows we looked at a few weeks ago. So without further ado, here are 29 music making applications for Linux.

  • Games

    • Developer ports Frets on Fire to Maemo 5

      The recent alpha release of the Maemo 5 SDK has opened the door for experimentation. Developers have already started to port several applications to the platform, including Frets on Fire—an open source rhythm game inspired by Guitar Hero.

    • Frets on Fire Confirms I Am Better at Compiling Than Playing Guitar

      Frets on Fire, out of the box, can accomodate two players. It’s been modified, however, to do some rather interesting things, such as supporting Guitar Hero controllers from multiple console platforms, integrating other instruments, and even allowing users with various disabilities to take part in the fun.

    • Out of the Park

      Reviewed: Management games, of any genre, are not for the faint-hearted. Not only is there a mountain of information to deal with, but if you’re into the subject matter, it doesn’t take long before the simulator takes over your entire life.

      If baseball is what gets you cooking on gas, prepare to say goodbye to your family, become a recluse, and thrive on a world of management decisions and statistics: Out of the Park 9 is available on Linux.


      Verdict: Your chance to manage your very own baseball team and take control of every aspect imaginable. 8/10

  • Wine

    • New PlayOnLinux helper plugin adds winetricks integration

      NSLW posted on the PlayOnLinux forums about the new helper plugin he wrote. I have posted this news here in the hopes that PlayOnLinux users will download and help test the plugin. The feature list is impressive for a first release, with some testing and input im sure it will only improve over time…

      I wrote a application which makes PlayOnLinux more ergonomically usable. The program can be freely redistributed and executed. It is written in GTK and it meets the needs of the PlayOnLinux community.

    • CodeWeavers Working On New GUI, DirectX 10

      CodeWeavers, the company behind the WINE-based CrossOver Office and CrossOver Games for running Windows office applications and games, respectively, on Linux (and Mac OS X) has shared some of their plans for 2009. Among the items they are getting ready for is DirectX 10 support and a new GUI for its CrossOver software.

  • Security

    • Securing top-down support key to Blue Cross mainframe consolidation

      SearchDataCenter.com discussed the project with Bhanu Rai, Blue Cross’ zLinux IT manager, and how his company got it to work.

      How did this project come about? When did it start?
      Bhanu Rai: It started around July or August of 2007. The initial effort for the zLinux decision was made primarily by the CIO and the chief technology architect. It started as a refresh project. We had the opportunity to buy a bunch of new [distributed] servers. Since we’re already a big mainframe shop, we decided that instead of doing that, we’d try doing it on zLinux. I came into the picture in October 2007 to lead the team to complete this project.

    • Security Certification for Linux job-hunters

      Need another arrow in your Linux job-hunting quiver? Then you might want to check out the LPI (Linux Professional Institute), the Linux certification organization has launched its new “Security” exam elective for its top-level LPIC-3 certification program.

  • Weekly Newletters

    • DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 293, 9 March 2009

      DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 293, 9 March 2009

      * Tutorial: An introduction to Logical Volume Management
      * News: openSUSE releases trademark guidelines, Ubuntu delivers mainline kernel, Debian elects new project leader, ULTILEX live CD
      * Released last week: Zenwalk Linux 6.0
      * Upcoming releases: openSUSE 11.2 and beyond, Ubuntu 9.10 release schedule
      * New additions: Damn Vulnerable Linux, Parslinux, Tiny Core Linux, wattOS
      * New distributions: ArchPwn, Ultra X Linux, VoIP on CD

    • Softpedia Linux Weekly, Issue 36


      Editorial: KDE 4
      First Look: moonOS 2
      Distributions announced last week:
      · Slack Mini Server 1.4.2 Features the DansGuardian Filter
      · Linux Mint 6 Fluxbox Release Candidate Is Out
      · Finally, Linux Mint 6 with KDE 4.2
      · Zenwalk 6.0 Released
      Tutorial of the Week: How to Install KDE 4.2 on Ubuntu 8.10
      Other News: Qt 4.5 Just Landed, Ubuntu 9.10 Release Schedule, Amarok 2.0.2 Released, Available Now: KDE 4.2.1 and more…
      Video Clip of the Week: Window Management in KDE 4.2
      New Distributions: TurnKey Core Live CD 2009.02-hardy-x86, LOUD Platform Project 2009-03-05 and more…
      Distributions Updated Last Week: TurnKey Linux 2009.02-hardy-x86, Ubuntu extras remix 8.10, Scientific Linux 5.3 and more…
      Development Releases: 64 Studio 3.0 Beta 3, Frugalware Linux 1.0 RC2 and more…

  • Distributions

    • Dream Linux 3.5 – Results and Summary

      I’ve had a few days now to try out Dream Linux on all of my laptops, and the results are interesting, if mixed:

      - HP 2133 Mini-Note, WXGA (1280×768) Display: This is still the best of the bunch with Dream Linux. It installed smoothly, got the display resolution exactly right on both the LiveCD and after installation, and although it was using the vesa driver rather than the openchrome driver, everything was working ok. I was not able to compile the latest openchrome SVN snapshot, but I was able to copy the driver over from Mandriva 2009.0, and it then worked just fine. The Broadcom Wired Gigabit network and Broadcom 4112 WiFi network both came up just fine.

    • Mandriva Assembly Cooker Chef for Translation Says “Hi!”

      In the beginning of February Mandriva announced the creation of Mandriva Linux Assembly with aim of improving communication between users, contributors and Mandriva company. All to make Mandriva Linux distribution even better than it already is. I candidated as a representative of translators, although I also try to help as much as I can with testing development versions.

    • Debian

      • Instant Pictoguide to Knoppix 6.0

        The latest version of Knoppix represents a radical remake of the venerable Live CD Linux distribution. Knoppix 6.0 is leaner, faster, and more versatile than ever. In addition to that, the new version brings another significant improvement: the amazingly fast boot process. Even when Knoppix runs from a CD, it takes less than a minute to boot to the graphical desktop. More importantly, the improved boot process doesn’t affect Knoppix’ legendary hardware detection capabilities.

      • Interview: Steve McIntyre of Debian

        hO: Lenny is out, which is great news. Debian has a history of very long release cycles, compared to other distros. “release when ready” is the project’s motto. Will that be changing in the near future?

        SM: To a certain extent, that policy already has changed. In the past, we didn’t mention potential release dates at all and we’d simply aim to release when certain goals had been met. For the last two release cycles, we have instead tried to pick a target release window (18-24 months from the previous release) and some goals that should fit that target date. In each of those releases (Etch and Lenny), I’m happy that we have hit the target with both taking 22 months. It would be nice to be closer to the beginning of that window, but it’s difficult to guarantee that we’ll get there every time when we’re working as volunteers.

    • Ubuntu

      • Dvorak Likes Linux

        Every so often I take a stab at Linux, to see exactly what I like and do not like about the OS. Many of its problems, for me, stem from its inability to run on my overloaded hardware, or the occasional driver that makes the OS impossible to use without hand-tweaking something or other. That said, I seriously like the Ubuntu 8.10 implementation and will now install it permanently on my latest machines. It’s a winner.

      • Plymouth Packages For Ubuntu Are Now Available

        Last November we learned that Plymouth would replace USplash in Ubuntu, but the official graphical boot splash screen change wouldn’t come until Ubuntu 9.10 (a.k.a. the Karmic Koala). However, for those not interested in trying out Fedora to see Red Hat’s Plymouth, there is a package repository of Plymouth packages for Ubuntu available. You can now run Plymouth on Ubuntu 9.04 by installing the Plymouth packages from the Launchpad PPA, but the full benefits will not come until the Ubuntu kernel has enabled kernel mode-setting.

      • One Ubuntu to Rule Them All

        I am advocating more change than is necessary. It does not need to go this far. The change could be as simple as just changing the name. That could be done quite simply. A side benfit would be one logo and Ubuntu could dispense with the depressing brown and orange theme that most users dislike. The distinguishing feature would not be the theme, but the desktop itself.

        This alone would give some critics less ammunition and it would bring Mark Shuttleworth’s statements of wanting an improved look and feel closer to Mac OS/X more of a reality. There is no reason why GTK and QT4 can’t use the same theme to create a common Ubuntu look that he wants so badly. It would certainly engender brand loyalty instead of creating division in one’s own house. Then there truly would be one Ubuntu to rule them all.

      • Another Look at Ubuntu 9.04

        Overall, Ubuntu 9.04 is shaping up to be a promising new release. Combined with improvements on the backend like ext4 as a file-system option, the updates to Jaunty’s look will make Ubuntu a more efficient and attractive operating system.

      • German Dell Shop with Strange Ubuntu Logo

        I just checked whether the new Dell Mini 12 is available with Ubuntu Linux. The Linux powered Dell Mini 9 netbook has been comparably successfully considering that one third of the sold units where shipped with Ubuntu Netbook Remix, as Dell’s Jay Pinkert told LAPTOP Magazine about two weeks ago.

      • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 132

        Welcome to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter, Issue #132 for the week March 1st – March 7th, 2009. In this issue we cover: Karmic Koala release schedule, QA Team: Next testing day, Hug Day: March 12th, Americas Board: New Ubuntu Members, LoCo Directory Moves Forward, Ubuntu Tunisia: Migration Project, Ubuntu in the Cloud, Community Interview: Michael Godawski, Simplifying Forums Categories, Mark a thread as Solved, mail Stack Improvements in Ubuntu 9.04, Ubuntu Encrypted home with 2 factor authentication, Ubuntu Drupal: Planet Module, Introducing Tarmac, TurnKey: 12 new Ubuntu-based server appliances released, Technical Board Meeting, Server Team Meeting Minutes: March 3rd, and much, much more!

    • Red Hat

      • Is Red Hat ready to overtake Sun?

        When the NYSE opened this morning Sun Microsystems, once a titan of the IT industry, had a market capitalisation of $2.94 billion. Red Hat, a relative newcomer representing Linux and open source, on the other hand had a cap of $2.55 billion. What makes this remarkable is that Red Hat had revenues of $627 million in its last financial year while Sun’s topped $13 billion. Which says a great deal about how much faith investors have in Sun’s attempt to re-engineer itself from being a hardware company to being an open source company. It is also a vote of confidence in Red Hat’s Linux strategy which sees its share price now sitting at well over $13 a share.

      • Behind Red Hat’s Consistency: A Surprising Concentration on Investing

        Red Hat may be much better positioned than other public open source companies to benefit from the rebound if it keeps functioning as an investment vehicle in addition to maintaining its core software and support business. On the other hand, it could take a licking from the amount it invests, as Berkshire Hathaway recently has. I’m betting that Jim Whitehurst and company play investments conservatively, and that we may continue to see earnings consistency from Red Hat.

    • New Releases

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Open source server appliances ship

      Israeli software appliance project TurnKey Linux announced a dozen new open-source server appliances based on Ubuntu 8.04.2 LTS (Long-Term-Support). The releases include servers for LAMP, Ruby on Rails, Joomla, MediaWiki, Drupal, LAPP, Django, MySQL, and PostgreSQL, says the group.

    • Marvell Semiconductor SheevaPlug Linux PC development kit

      Intended to serve web pages using minimal power, Marvell Semiconductor’s SheevaPlug is a Linux PC built into a mains plug.

    • Cheap Linux PMPs get touchscreen Linux hack

      How long, do you think, before someone attempts to load Android onto one?

      There are full instructions here, together with some ideas on which PMPs use the Ingenic JZ4732 chipset.

    • Industrial distro aims to streamline embedded Linux

      MPC Data has launched a wizard-driven, Eclipse-based Linux distribution and toolkit aimed at industrial applications. Available initially in an open source version for Super-H, with commercial versions and wider architecture support to follow, “Little Blue Linux” includes a wizard-driven Eclipse IDE and 2.6.2x BSPs.

Free Software/Open Source

  • OpenID co-inventor’s vision of the open web

    We’re very much taking the open source mentality – we’re probably in the state of open source a decade ago. We don’t have a common licensee for specifications yet but the Open Web Foundation has created a legal committee, which is working on creating a licence that can be used by communities developing these specs.

  • Omeka Web-Publishing Platform Makes Historical Archives More Accessible

    Funded by philanthropic organizations and licensed under the GPL, Omeka “makes launching an online exhibition as easy as launching a blog” and is perfect for groups that don’t have IT-specialists on the payroll.

  • Business

    • Hire Open Source Developers — or Partner With Them?

      To those companies out there interested in hiring open source developers in hopes of attracting others to follow along and work on your project for next to nothing, consider the following. Hiring new employees is fine, but bringing new partners from the open source development community could very well bring in the kind of grass roots support your company is looking for.

    • Vyatta Adds Security Tools to Open-source Routing Platform

      Open-source routing vendor Vyatta is adding SSL VPN, intrusion prevention, Web caching, URL filtering and other features in Vyatta Community Edition 5 (VC5), the latest version of its software, set to be released Monday.

      Following the practice of Linux distributors, Vyatta distributes routing software in a free version and sells a more up-to-date version along with support. Customers can also buy the software on a standard x86 server. It offers a less expensive, more flexible alternative to the familiar enterprise routing products from the likes of Cisco Systems and Juniper, according to Vyatta. The platform is designed primarily for enterprises, and about half of its customers are outside the U.S., according to Dave Roberts, vice president of strategy and marketing for the Belmont, California, company.

  • Mozilla

    • Mozilla Labs Announces 2009 Design Challenge: SxSW Edition

      Mozilla Labs is calling on its community to share ideas to make it easier to upload files. They’re looking for ideas and mockups to address file uploading issues including the inability to drag-and-drop and upload multiple files, and the need for Flash or server-side hacking to provide any kind of progress indication.

    • Hands-on with Mozilla Labs’ new tab prototypes

      In other Firefox-related news, the developers are discussing the possibility of adopting the version number “3.5″ for the next release instead of 3.1. This proposed change is intended to reflect the significant number of features that have been implemented for the release, but would not entail an expansion of the timeline or any alternations to the roadmap. Firefox development director Mike Beltzner says that this change is simply a possibility and that a final decision has not yet been reached.

      Indeed, we think that calling it 3.5 would be appropriate in light of the significance of many of the improvements. In addition to user-centric enhancements like private browsing and major performance and memory optimizations, it also has an extremely nice lineup of developer-oriented features such as native JSON parsing, worker threads, cross-site XMLHttpRequest, and embedded font support. Multimedia is also getting a big boost in Firefox 3.1 with the inclusion of built-in Ogg decoders and support for the HTML 5 video element.

    • ‘Firefox Web Developer’ is a hidden security gem

      Have you ever come across a situation where you’ve needed a tool but didn’t think you had the right one to get the job done? Like when you’re trying to change a smoke detector battery or tighten a loose door knob — it seems as if the tool you need is never handy, and you might even have to go out and buy it. What we tend to forget is that we can often solve our project needs with ordinary household items like a butter knife or nail clippers — things that you wouldn’t expect to use but can get the job done.

  • Government

    • A request to sign the FOSS Manifesto

      The FOSS Manifesto (see previous post) has finally been put up as an online petition. It upon political parties to make FOSS usage and promotion a central part of the IT, e-government and education plans in their election manifestos.

    • Germany Funds Open Source Software

      [Via Google Translate: The Federal Council decided on 20.2.2009 to the law to secure employment and stability in Germany, and approved, paving the way for the planned investment made. In the "pact for employment and stability in Germany" are also 500 million for activities in the field of information and communications technology, whose use by the Federal Government for information technology is controlled. Of these 500 million euros 300 million immediately available. 200 million euros were fixed by the Budget Committee of the German Bundestag pending concrete actions blocked....]

  • Hardware

    • Introducing the Open Source Hardware Central Bank

      This blog post started with a cross-country driving trip, Zen and the Art of Open Source Hardware, and culminated with discussions during and especially after Justin’s Open Source Economic Council (OSEC?). The list of people I interviewed and talked to about this is too long to list individually, so instead I’m going to throw credits to everyone who’s been kind enough to help on a wiki soon.


  • YouTube to block UK music videos

    YouTube is blocking all premium music videos to UK users after failing to reach a new licensing agreement with the Performing Right Society (PRS).

  • When You Treat Your Customers Like Criminals, Don’t Be Surprised When They Go To Different Suppliers

    An anonymous reader sent in the following story about how some large software companies are suddenly increasing the number of “software audits” they’re doing of enterprise buyers. Most enterprise software contracts include license terms that allow the software provider to “audit” the buyer, to make sure they’re not abusing the license. As the article notes, however, such audits usually only come at one of two times: (1) when a company threatens to switch to another vendor or (2) when the company has received info from a reliable source that the license was being abused.

  • Government-Owned Norwegian TV Station Launches BitTorrent Tracker

    The shows will be DRM-free, and it’s looking to employ a Creative Commons license on the content “to allow full freedom for our audience.”

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Gabriella Coleman, an anthropologist, explains Free Software culture 07 (2004)

Ogg Theora

Digital Tipping Point is a Free software-like project where the raw videos are code. You can assist by participating.

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A Single Comment

  1. aeshna23 said,

    March 10, 2009 at 12:55 pm


    I read the article on Red Hat’s Consistency and was somewhat concerned. Red Hat’s management should be concentrating on software and related industries and not on being an investment firm. Admittedly, it may have made sense to hoard cash or investment for a while, but businesses look cheap now. Red Hat should be buying companies now for growth.

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