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03.21.09

Links 21/03/2009: GNU/Linux Advances; Free Software Prioritised in Germany

Posted in News Roundup at 8:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Ballmer: GNU/Linux Will Win on Netbooks

    I think this is a very frank analysis of the problem for Microsoft: after all, who’s going to pay extra money just to get the Windows logo on a netbook, when they can get the same features for less with free software…?

  • Will Microsoft Abandon Windows to Compete with Linux?

    So what will Microsoft do after Windows 7 to remain competitive? I think they’ve realized that bloated operating systems aren’t going to do the trick with the introduction of Netbooks and smaller devices. They’ve also realized that their bullying and scare tactics don’t work with today’s more tech savvy customers.

  • Why Windows needs multiple desktops capability

    The vast majority of Windows users in the world have never experienced the advantages that a multiple desktop computer environment provides. That is because most people use Microsoft Windows and that operating system only comes with a single desktop environment*. Users of the Linux operating system have been enjoying multiple desktop capabilities for many years already, and they are about to experience the next step of the multiple desktop paradigm evolution. So why are multiple desktops useful and how much do they really help?

  • Shopping on Penguins

    Then I decided to look beyond Zappos to other on-line retailers. Here are the results for the top ten, as listed by InternetRetailer.com, with sales volume numbers in parentheses. Results for companyname.com are first, and other results for each company are summarized in text (Netcraft gives results in lowercase):

    1. Amazon.com Inc. ($14.8 billion): linux.

    2. Staples Inc. ($5.6 billion): linux, through akamai.

  • The HeliOS Project Joins Software in the Public Interest

    We no longer have to devote our resources to administrating a non profit organization as Software in the Public Interest acts as our agent in this matter. We can devote our short resources to the matter at hand, and that is getting computers to kids that could not normally afford them. This weekend alone, we have 7 installs scheduled.

  • WorldVista on Moka5 player virtual machine

    Thanks to the installation script by Ignacio Valdes and the patch by Kevin Toppenburg for his GUI Configuration tool, I was able to install WorldVista on a Moka5 virtual machine based on PCLinuxOS-2007.

  • Applications

    • 7 Excellent Linux Apps You May Not Know About

      Everyone is writing “Foo Best” lists all full of good Linux apps, so here are my own 7 Best Excellent Linux Apps You May Not Have Been Introduced To Yet. They are presented in no particular order or categorization, they’re just good applications I’ve been using and enjoying. They are all 100% genuine Free/Open Source software and not crusted with proprietary baggage, and available via the usual distribution package managers.

    • 4 Quirky Open Source Efforts That You May Not Be Aware Of

      The world of open source includes many quirky and unusual applications, some of which can be quite useful. There are also many new efforts to apply open source principles to hardware designs. In this post rounding up four unusual open source implementations, you’ll find an offbeat attempt to crowdsource hardware, two open source browsers that you may not use even though they offer uniquely good features, and an instant-on Linux desktop that you can only get for free for the next few weeks.

    • 3 Free Open Source Tools for Sampling Music Online

      Do you ever get a song playing in your head that you just can’t get rid of? Do you like to sample new music in search of tunes that you may like? There are several good open source tools for sampling and playing music when you’re online, and you can get going with them almost instantly. Here are three top choices.

    • Blu-ray Focus Grows Within FFmpeg Project

      Earlier this week Google had published their list of 2009 Summer of Code projects and FFmpeg was among them. Last week we published an interview with the FFmpeg developers where we learned more about their v0.5 release and other topics like OpenCL, Blu-ray, and multi-threading. Since running that interview, where it was found that Blu-ray wasn’t actively being worked on due in part to a lack of hardware, a number of readers have stepped up and offered Blu-ray drives and media to help developers, which may result in Blu-ray support coming sooner rather than later.

    • Exploring the Stars with KStars Planetarium Software

      I’ve always been a big fan of backyard astronomy, and now that the weather is warming up (well, depending on where you live) I’ll be spending more time stargazing. For Linux users, KStars is a fantastic celestial navigation aid that offers tons of custom features. Designed to be easy for beginners, yet powerful enough to satisfy serious astronomy fans, this desktop planetarium package really delivers. Here’s the default start view, from my geographic location in Atlanta, GA.

    • Mind mapping application for Linux

      Xmind is an Eclipse based application, which can run on any platform. So, yeah, not just Linux, but – stumbling on their website – I was pretty much surprised to find out that a .deb download option has been care taken of.

    • Teaching Kids About Computers With Tux Paint

      Kids love computers, and kids love to draw. If you want an application that combines these two in a kid-friendly format, have a look at Tux Paint. This free Linux-based drawing program is designed specifically for children, offering a ton of fun features that are sure to keep a youngster occupied for hours (well, at least one hour).

  • Kernel Space

    • FOSS Debates, Part 3: Mission Control

      “I don’t think there is one,” Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux kernel, told LinuxInsider.

      “In fact, the reason I like open source is that I find it exciting to see how _different_ the things people want to do are, and how that constant pulling in different directions actually ends up taking people somewhere — and how the end result is not necessarily what any of the participants really were aiming for from the beginning, but actually likely _better_ for it,” Torvalds explained.

      “Linux itself is an example of that,” he added. “When I started out, I had no big goals, anything like the current kernel. Almost all of the motivation and impetus for everything fancy that we do today came from outside, from people who had different needs and views of how things needed to work than I do.”

      Torvalds compares open source “to a more organic development model,” he said. “To me, it’s a lot like ‘life’ — after all, what’s the overriding purpose of life? I dunno, and I really don’t think such a thing should matter or even necessarily exists. We live and do our best, and pass on our genes and knowledge, and change our environment — hopefully for the better.”

      Same thing with open source, Torvalds said: “The point about being open source is that you _can_ do exactly that — ‘change the environment’ and ‘pass on your genes.’”

    • 25 Mythical and Humorous Facts About Linus Torvalds

      Many people consider Linus Torvalds as the world’s greatest computer programmer/hacker. That’s why it’s no surprise that most of his loyal fans have praised him and have told stories about his amazing accomplishments.

    • Another Week, Another New NVIDIA Linux Driver

      It has not even been a week since the release of 185.13 Beta Linux driver, but today these Santa Clara engineers have pushed out yet another driver update for Linux. The NVIDIA 180.41 driver is this newest driver and it brings support for new Quadro FX graphics cards, improved power management on some systems, and bug-fixes.

    • Comparison of File Systems And Speeding Up Applications

      The results are very impressive and the final patches to libvirt were finalised pretty quickly. They’re now in the development branch libvirt. Coming soon to a virtual machine management application near you.

  • Desktop Environments

    • Digest of Enlightenment 17 Dimensions

      This digest is a quick glance at some of the dimensions of the enlightenment window manager in the current state of development. Essentially what I did (while cruising pretty good after a few drinks) was setup a few desktop screenshots I thought folks might enjoy and would give a little depth to the new e17 environment. Note that these are just my preferences; the e exchange and main site have a whole lot more to gaze upon.

    • KDE

      • Software-properties-kde, jockey-kde enhancements for Jaunty

        Some enhancements for the KDE frontend of everybody’s favorite /etc/apt/sources.list editor, as launchable from Adept (and more recently lauchable from KPackageKit) have been uploaded just now to Kubuntu 9.04. I actually made the changes back in February, but I forgot to bug mvo enough to get the changes into the main bzr branch…

      • KDE Brainstorm: Get Your Ideas Into KDE!

        KDE is about the community, rather than the product. It is not all about the code: there are many other ways in which people can be part of KDE, and a very simple way is to connect with other people.

        In an effort to bridge the gap between users and developers, the KDE Community Forums have launched a new initiative to coordinate feature requests. A new “Brainstorm” section has been created in the KDE Community Forums: users are encouraged to post requests there.

    • GNOME

  • Distributions

    • PCLinuxOS 2009.1 – A lovely distro

      PCLinuxOS 2009.1 is a superb distro. It’s very well made. In particular, the Gnome edition is the crown jewel of this release, with great stability, fresh looks, and tons of excellent programs across a broad range of sections.

    • PCLinuxOS 2009.1 – A Taste of an Old Friend

      The key items that pushed me over:

      * I decided KDE may be ok to “push” through… force myself
      * Dual-monitor support was EASIER than Ubuntu
      * Wireless was EASIER to get setup than Ubuntu
      * Software packages were more up-to-date. An example is Open Office – 3.0 instead of 2.4
      * Flash was all set
      * Java as well
      * Wallpaper – I dig being able to select different wallpaper for each of my monitors… that adds to the cool factor
      * Konqueror – I am liking Konqueror more and more (I wish I could get this up and running on Windows)

    • [Per Øyvind Interview]

      > 5) What are the biggest challenges for Mandriva in the future ?

      Hm.. Ubuntu? ;p Hehe, or to be more serious, learning from Ubuntu and also from the mistakes of itself in the past to regain trust, visibility, appeal and image. Without doing this, Mandriva will just keep on failing and failing and failing as it’s pretty much done over the last years. In stead of frequently trying to find new ideas, products, services and various ways to stay aflot and generate income, the company needs to gain self-awareness and actually fix what’s broken in stead of working around it any possible way in denial of the real problems.

    • Red Hat

      • Video: The seeds of open source

        Sometimes open source ideals make for the strangest–and most wonderful–bedfellows. We met Dr. Vandana Shiva–physicist, scientist, environmentalist, and activist–several years ago. Her work saving seeds and protecting traditional knowledge in the farming industry parallels the openness, transparency, collaboration and freedom of open source ideology. Her simple, clear explanation of why knowledge should be shared–and the devastating results should it be hoarded–is part of the essential truth that makes the work we do so incredibly important. But don’t take our word for it.

      • Oracle: We’re Not Forking Red Hat Linux

        Yet, as it turns out, Oracle Enterprise Linus’s binary compatibility does not mean that its version is entirely identical to Red Hat’s. In fact, there are some important differences, including support for a key file system technology.

    • Ubuntu

      • Ubuntu Podcast Episode #22
      • Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty) – My Thoughts So Far

        1 reboot later, past the (in my opinion) great new GDM theme and nice new splash screen, I’m logged in, installing my nvidia drivers (180.xx) as recommended by a little pop-up. After that install and reboot, I get compiz effects working great, as well as an extended desktop – awesome!

      • Linux & Open Source Slideshow: eWEEK Labs Shows You How to Install Apps on Ubuntu Linux

        For the past few years, eWEEK Labs Executive Editor Jason Brooks has been crowning Ubuntu Linux the desktop Linux champ, both in the reviews he’s written and in his own choice of desktop OS at work and home. The biggest reason for Brooks’ Ubuntu inclination is application availability. If there’s a piece of Linux-supporting software that you want to run, there’s a good chance that it’s been packaged up in a ready-to-install format for Ubuntu Linux.

      • Just In: The Apple II Gains Eternal Life in the Web Browser

        It’s useful to note, too, that these puzzles run well in Firefox on Ubuntu Linux, although you’ll need to install Java onto Ubuntu first. The steps for installing Java on Ubuntu are not all that difficult. If you need help, ask one of your Linux buddies. If you don’t yet have a Linux buddy, this is the time to find one.

        Here are directions for installing Java on Ubuntu that worked for me:

        First make sure the multiverse repository is enabled by going to

        System->Administration->Synaptic Package Manager->Settings->Repositories

      • The Zen of Ubuntu

        The Linux operating system is finding its way into all sorts of interesting places, particularly where its potential users have open minds towards the use of alternative systems to Windows and Mac. An interesting and refreshing example of such open mindedness is the White Wind Zen Community, a modern Zen monastery located in Ottawa, Canada.

      • Ubuntu and me

        At the end of the day, I’m glad FreeNAS didn’t work out (I think if I had an older used computer it might have been better). Ubuntu will still offer me a stable fileserver, but it also lets me let it double as a webserver and I get to learn another operating system.

        Ubuntu. It’s not just a cool name.

      • Ubuntu Developers Aren’t Scary

        Soon after that I became friends with Jordan and with Daniel Chen, who lives nearby. Daniel showed up to our LoCo’s Gutsy and Hardy installfests, and at the Hardy one I convinced him to start mentoring me on how audio works. They’re both nice guys, just know that mentioning brokenness in QA to Jordan or in audio to Daniel will very likely result in a long, drawn-out analysis of the situation. You’ve been warned.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Fashion robot runs real-time Linux

      Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) has demonstrated a Linux-based humanoid robot that will perform in a fashion show next week. The HRP-4C runs the robotics-focused hard real-time ART-Linux distro, which was released this week for Linux 2.6xx under GPL.

      The HRP-4C robot and the open-source ART-Linux distro (see more farther below) were developed by AIST’s Human Robotics Group (HRG). ART (Advanced Real-Time) Linux has been used in a variety of humanoid robot prototypes from the Japanese government-backed HRG/AIST, says the group. The newest HRP-4C model announced earlier this week has been a hit on YouTube (see below). Designed to look like a young Japanese woman, the robot stands (and walks) about five feet, two inches (158 centimeters), and weighs about 95 pounds (43 kilograms).

    • Emulator tapped for Android-to-N8xx port

      A “NITdroid” hacker has released code that enables desktop computers to emulate Nokia Internet Tablets running Android. Philippe Coval has posted a video showing his “NITdroid-emulator” working alongside a new version of Qemu, running the open-source NITdroid Android-to-N8xx port on a Linux desktop.

    • Linux-based mobile Internet device platform cuts development time

      Montabello, a new Linux-based software platform for mobile Internet devices (MIDs) from MontaVista Software, Inc., provides an integrated set of applications including a web browser, document reader, email client, contact manager, and calendar suite.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Chandler: After Shifts in Focus, it’s a Good Self-Organizing App

    The story of the open source notebook and to-do manager application Chandler is a long and complicated one, as we covered here when it arrived in version 1.0. It was originally started as one of Mitch Kapor’s projects, but Kapor (the founder of Lotus) left it, and it took on new life as a community-driven project for Windows, the Mac and Linux. Now available in version 1.0.2, it’s a powerful mashup of to-do list tracking, tickler alarms, note tracking, calendaring and more. Collaborative workers can also use it together to brainstorm, share project, event and calendar items, and track milestones. Here’s a look at how it works.

  • TeachingOpenSource.org

    One of the signs of a healthy ecosystem is that it is constantly expanding into new niches. Here’s a new angle on opennes I hadn’t come across before – a site devoted to the *teaching* of open source coding skills…

  • DE: Federal government to increase its open source expertise

    Germany’s federal government will increase its knowledge on open source and will make open source software available to public authorities.

    The project is one of 27 that were approved earlier this month as part of an IT investment package aimed to help the country’s IT sector battle the economic crisis.

  • Mozilla

    • EC Principle 4: Microsoft’s financial and other incentives to distributors must be browser-neutral

      Microsoft has also used a range of techniques to encourage the distribution channel (often known as “the OEMs” for “original equipment manufacturers”) to ship IE. The OEM distribution channel is a funny thing. When I started working in this industry I assumed that the OEMs would pay software vendors for the right to distribute a piece of valuable software. But it turns out that’s backwards. The software maker pay the OEMs to include software on the OEM’s machine. So first the vendor makes the software, then they pay someone else to distribute it. The OEMs get to include software in their distribution packages for less-than-free — they make money by including software. This is because the distribution channel — the ability to actually get human beings to look at a piece of software — is so valuable. Software vendors end up paying for their products to reach people, and hoping to make money afterwards. For many product-focued people I think it is hard to internalize just how critical the ability to get people to pay attention to the product is, and how “distribution” can outweigh product quality in building success.

    • Internet Explorer 8 launch fails to dent Firefox

      The release of Internet Explorer 8 hasn’t had any significant impact on Firefox or any other competing browser, data collected by StatsCounter shows. While the final release of IE8 increased its market share slightly on launch day to 1.39 percent, Firefox 3.0 grew more quickly and reached 25.38 percent. The most significant losses were for Internet Explorer 7: the outgoing browser lost 0.4 percent of the total share.

    • Firefox 3.1 Beta feedback from Vietnam

      In preparation for the upcoming release of Firefox 3.1 3.5 later this year, we have been looking for feedback from users regarding the current beta builds and specifically feedback for the new localization efforts to date.

    • 100 tips to help you work smarter with Firefox

      The beauty of using Firefox is the control that it extends to users, and there are almost limitless ways that it can be tweaked, hacked and mastered to improve speed usability and productivity.

    • Firefox inches towards 50%, Safari holds steady

      These are the kind of stats that should make the Mozilla folks very happy. According to W3Schools data, Firefox climbed to 46.4% in February, while the various versions of IE dropped by 1.2% to 43.6%. Granted, this is skewed towards developers, but most sources agree that IE is on a downward slope.

  • Applications

    • Open source math programs and languages

      In closing, I will point out that the proprietary alternatives to many of the programs and languages that I have discussed here have their place. They come backed with whole companies of people who have done a lot of work to make things smooth and also provide a great deal of technical support. Going the open source however has both economic and ideological advantages. These options may often be somewhat less glossy and have less tech support, but they also come with a community of really dedicated people who really love using these programs and languages and are happy to answer a question here and there on various forums but won’t be at your beck and call the way a technical support person will be (of course, you will probably more likely to get an answer to a question on a weekend or after hours on a forum…). Furthermore, if there is some feature, bug or functionality that you want to have someone add or take a look at respectively, there are often people in the open source community who are willing to help you make the changes or will even make them themselves. This is something that you cannot do when you cannot access the source code, and is one of the big advantages of the open source route. Whatever you decide, best of luck in your journeys!

    • Wdiff compare – Good!

      The other nice thing about wdiff is that it was already installed on my machine! About two (maybe three??) years ago I googled around for something that would do diffs on text files, but the searches only showed diff, kdiff etc. Wdiff apparently dates back to the early 90s so my search terms maybe weren’t the best – or too many other people are using and linking to diff! Anyway, wdiff seems to be part of the standard install for OpenSuSE and I’d had it all along.

Leftovers

  • Apple to Pivotal: Take the ‘pod’ out of Podium

    Apple has issued a cease and desist letter to Pivotal, creators of Podium, a hands-free iPhone stand – namely over the use of the word “Pod” in Podium.

  • London imposes de-facto 9PM curfew on under-16s

    London cops have been given the power to “disperse” anyone under 16, gathered in groups of two or more, from almost all of central London, after 9PM. The police don’t have to see the kids doing anything wrong, they only have to believe “the presence or behaviour of a group of two or more persons in any public place in the relevant locality has resulted, or is likely to result, in any members of the public being intimidated, harassed, alarmed or distressed.”

  • Apparently, You’re Only Allowed To Comment On Failed Business Models If You Believe In Them

    But now we’re even seeing the flipside, as well. Randy Siegel is saying that Jeff Jarvis shouldn’t be trusted on talking about the future of media because the worse newspapers do, the better Jarvis does — both as someone the media goes to, and in getting consulting gigs that help companies trying to avoid the fate of newspapers. Of course, there’s something tautological about the whole thing. Basically, Jarvis is being slammed for being right. Because he’s right, more people go to him for info — and to Siegel, that means he can no longer be trusted? Wow.

  • Newsprint Firm Tries to Revamp Debt to Avoid Bankruptcy

    First the newspaper industry began suffering. Now it is newsprint.

  • Censorship/Web Abuse

  • Copyrights

    • Kiwi ISP Already Disconnecting Alleged Pirates

      Following a breakdown in talks it’s been revealed that one ISP has already implemented a version of it, and may have already threatened innocent customers after allegations from copyright holders.

    • UK Recording Industry: Investigate Google For Not Giving Us Money

      Of course, what he really means is that he’s finally realizing that Google actually has the leverage in this fight. They have the value that musicians want: a platform to gain tremendous amounts of attention, that many musicians are using to successfully build an audience. That’s the value. Google doesn’t need those music videos to make money, so it’s fine without them. But, musicians sure could use the boost that YouTube gives them.

    • Court Asked To Declare Copyright Royalty Board Unconstitutional

      It’s not often that Metallica, Dr. Dre, and Peter, Paul & Mary are brought up during oral argument, but such was the case today when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit delved into Internet radio royalty fees.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Bhaskar Chakravorti, business theory visionary (SF) 05 (2005)

Ogg Theora

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A Single Comment

  1. David Gerard said,

    March 22, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Gravatar

    I was down Tottenham Court Road this afternoon, playing with netbooks in every shop. Can I type on this? Is it the right shape, size, weight? What do I actually want?

    The form factor I want is the Vaio not-a-netbook. 1600×768 high-resolution screen, not much bigger than the keyboard. Light, beautiful. Incredibly pricey, and since it’s a Vaio the build quality will be utter shit, but damn, that form factor is just right. I want a Chinese box maker to see this and think “hmm, good idea.”

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