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12.30.09

Links 30/12/2009: Slax (GNU/Linux) Downloaded Over 2 Million Times

Posted in News Roundup at 10:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Microsoft Cracks Down On Windows Piracy In China… So Pirating Group Offers Up Ubuntu That Looks Like XP

    Even Bill Gates has famously said:

    “And as long as they’re going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”

    Except… of course, Microsoft has been pushing hard to “stop” that kind of “piracy” in China, and it may be having an unintended effect. Slashdot points us to the news that a group that had been offering pirated copies of Windows is now offering a copy of Ubuntu Linux, designed to look just like Windows XP.

  • Still waiting for a 64-bit Flash Player

    Curiously, though, the October press release doesn’t mention 64-bit support at all, and the announcement of the latest beta includes only a passing link to “the latest alpha refresh” of the 64-bit Flash Player 10 prerelease for Linux.What about Windows or the Mac? Sorry, folks, no news to report.

  • Open Source in 2010: Nine Predictions

    Users have been waiting a long time for open source video drivers that match proprietary ones feature for feature. But by the end of next year they may actually arrive. Intel drivers are already solid, and are used on about twenty-five percent of open source computers.

    However, the Linux 2.6.33 kernel is supposed to include increased support for both ATI and NVIDIA cards, so major improvements are a certainty by the end of next year. At the very least, if features are still missing, they should be come by mid-2011.

  • Kernel Space

    • The abrupt merging of Nouveau

      The merge window is normally a bit of a hectic time for subsystem maintainers. They have two weeks in which to pull together a well-formed tree containing all of the changes destined for the next kernel development cycle. Occasionally, though, last-minute snags can make the merge window even more busy than usual. The unexpected merging of the Nouveau driver is the result of one such snag – but it is a story with a happy ending for all.

  • Instructionals

  • Distributions

    • 10+ free, fast-booting Linux distros that aren’t Chrome OS

      A 200MB dynamo built on Slackware, Slax offers one seriously awesome feature you won’t find with any of the other options mentioned here. You can customize you ISO before you download. It’s as simple as choosing build Slax and then browsing through the massive inventory of packages available to plug in. Bonus points: you can even drop Google Chrome into your personal build.

      Slax has long been a favorite of Linux users looking for a feature-packed but lightweight desktop OS, and it’s been downloaded more than 2 million times.

    • ArchLinux + modular KDE 4 + Tools = Chakra (Alpha 4)

      I had heard abοut ArchLinux back from the early days that I started experimenting with GNU/Linux distributions. It caught my attention for two main reasons:

      1. The mentality of Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) and lightweight.
      2. It’s a rolling distro, which means you don’t need to upgrade every now and then to newer versions to keep up to date. Just update your way into everything new out there.

      To be honest, I had attempted installing ArchLinux on an old laptop back then, but I failed miserably in completing the task. Same disappointing results on Virtualbox on my desktop PC. Although Arch has extremely thorough documentation available, I was stuck somewhere between manually setting up the system files and installing and configuring a working desktop environment. As an newbie I couldn’t handle the pressure, so I gave up. But not for long.

      To my great pleasure, I recently stumbled upon the Chakra Project. Chakra is as the title suggests, a brand new distribution which is based on Arch Linux and KDE 4, but it comes extra with its own tweaked package set of KDE called KDEmod and some very handy tools.

      I was extremely happy to see that it features a graphical installer, and the fact that it supports automatic hardware configuration made it irresistible. I just had to download and see with my one eyes. It was about time I get rid of that Windows XP dual boot with Ubuntu after all.

    • New Releases

      • Best Linux releases of 2009

        Ubuntu Linux may get the majority of attention from Linux watchers but there are many good alternatives available. One of those is Mandriva Linux, a version of Linux formerly known as Mandrake and long considered one of the most user-friendly of Linux versions.

        Mandriva 2010 focused heavily on netbook users and other alternative desktop users. Boot time was also a priority for Mandriva, as it is for most other operating system makers, and the developers said that Mandriva 2010 shuts down, hibernates, suspends, and resumes faster. The bootup procedure on Mandriva 2010 is managed by Plymouth, which also makes for a more attractive, graphical boot up process.

      • Nova versão da distribuição multimídia juntaDados 1.04r2
      • KANOTIX 2.6.32
      • Parted Magic 4.8

        Parted Magic 4.8 fixes “Live” mode and direct ISO booting with GRUB4DOS. No programs were upgraded.

      • Webconverger 5.9
      • SystemRescueCD 1.3.4
      • Frenzy 1.2
    • Debian Family

      • Distro Review: Linux Mint 8

        Ease Of Installation & Use: 5/5
        Stability: 5/5
        Speed: 4/5
        Community & Documentation: 4/5
        Features: 4/5
        Overall: 5/5

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Spaz webOS 1.0 Ushers in New Features for Palm Pre Microblogging Client

      We covered Spaz webOS, a microblogging client for Palm devices, when it was still a babe in the woods. The project has grown considerably since then and this week its developer, Ed Finkler, announced the release of Spaz webOS 1.0. It’s an important milestone that includes a slew of new features that ought to satisfy anyone looking for an open source microblogging app for their Palm device.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Nightshade Forks From Stellarium, Designs Open Source Software for Planetariums

    Nightshade is available for Linux and Window, and the project is currently looking for developers to help build a package for Mac OS X. According to the project team, the decision to break from the Stellarium project was based on a desire to depart from Stellarium’s desktop-heavy focus and plans to implement a new graphical interface.

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD – the unknown Giant

      FreeBSD is a free, open-source and UNIX-like operating system. Though relatively unknown, it’s a performing and powerful work-horse, capable of coping with massive work-loads whilest remaining fast, ultra-stable and rock-solid. Blogging about FreeBSD and operating systems based on this versatile, safe and secure OS, I want to generate more interest in FreeBSD and its dependants. If you need a reliable, rock-solid and performing system for either your desktop or servers, consider FreeBSD!

    • FreeBSD Foundation Newsletter, December 26, 2009

Leftovers

  • Security

    • Obama ends Bush secrecy policy, launches ‘declassification center’

      WH releases all visitor logs for first time ever

      In an executive order issued Tuesday, President Barack Obama ended a Bush-era policy that allowed the head of the US’s intelligence agencies to have the final word on the declassification of documents.

    • One Day We’ll All Be Terrorists

      This corruption of our legal system, if history is any guide, will not be reserved by the state for suspected terrorists, or even Muslim Americans. In the coming turmoil and economic collapse, it will be used to silence all who are branded as disruptive or subversive. Hashmi endures what many others, who are not Muslim, will endure later. Radical activists in the environmental, globalization, anti-nuclear, sustainable agriculture and anarchist movements—who are already being placed by the state in special detention facilities with Muslims charged with terrorism—have discovered that his fate is their fate. Courageous groups have organized protests, including vigils outside the Manhattan detention facility. They can be found at www.educatorsforcivilliberties.org or www.freefahad.com. On Martin Luther King Day, this Jan. 18 at 6 p.m. EST, protesters will hold a large vigil in front of the MCC on 150 Park Row in Lower Manhattan to call for a return of our constitutional rights. Join them if you can.

  • PR/AstroTurf

    • Health Insurance Lobby Pushing to Amend States’ Constitutions

      The health insurance lobby is laying the groundwork to block federal health care reform by working through think tanks to pass state laws invalidating federally-mandated reforms. Conservative and libertarian think tanks have started encouraging states to amend their constitutions to block federal health reform measures, including a mandate to purchase health insurance.

    • Efforts already underway in Colorado to blunt federal health care reforms

      Lobbyists lay ground

      Regardless of when the fight happens, the health care industry has already laid lobbying groundwork across the country.

      A New York Times story Tuesday showed that companies and individuals with a financial interest in the health care debate have already given heavily in state races. Data from the Institute on Money in State Politics show that while not a leader in the debate, Colorado is part of that trend.

      Colorado ranks second in the Rocky Mountain West in the amount of political contributions accepted from the health care industry in the past three election cycles — $1.9 million — though nearly half went to support the 2005 ballot initiative Referendum C, a timeout on the revenue limits of the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

      The years of sustained contributions point to a history of political involvement by health care interests and not necessarily a flurry of new activity, said Nathan Newman, director of liberal group Progressive States Network. And local health care lobbyists said they are waiting for the final version of federal legislation before wading into any state fights.

      “States are the ones who are going to continue to spend the most of the money on health care,” Newman said. “Where they’re spending money, the lobby is already there.”

  • Censorship/Civil Rights

  • Internet/Web Abuse/DRM

    • Kindle Total Cost of Ownership: Calculating the DRM Tax

      There is one other problem with DRM protected books. When the reading device reaches its end of life, you have to assume all the content you purchased will be lost. If, for instance, I went with a Kindle, all of the content I purchase can be used only on devices supported by Amazon.

      When, several years later, it comes time to replace that Kindle I may get a new Kindle — but I can’t assume that. Maybe somebody else will have a better device at that time. Or, maybe Amazon went bankrupt or evil or stupid and I need to switch to another vendor. There are any number of reasons I might like to switch my e-reader. If I do, I have to assume I won’t be able to use any of the content I purchased for the Kindle.

      Thanks to DRM, when my e-reader reaches its end of life, I will have to pay to acquire replacement books for the material that’s locked out of the new e-reader. I call the amount of that purchase the “DRM tax” — an added cost imposed by DRM restrictions.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • Experts: Comcast’s Acquisition of NBC May End Free TV

      Increasingly, media moguls, national journalists and Wall Street experts are predicting that cable provider Comcast’s acquisition of NBC will lead to the end of free broadcast television. Numerous outlets have reported that Rupert Murdoch, founder of Fox News Channel’s parent company NewsCorp, is actively pushing to end the long-time television business model where advertising dollars pay for programming.

    • The rise of machine-written journalism

      Famine isn’t a worry for most journalists in the developed world. But the information workers who toil at the core of the news business do resemble the stocking-makers of Nottinghamshire in other ways.

    • SoundExchange Claims To Open Up, But Somehow Its List Of Unpaid Musicians Has Disappeared

      This is a big issue. As we’ve seen over and over again, many of these collections societies use sampling and counting methods that greatly overvalue big stars (who need the money less) at the expense of up-and-coming artists. It’s like the poor get to pay the rich.

      From there, Wilhelm’s letter goes on in great detail responding to claims from SoundExchange and debunking them one by one. SoundExchange claims that they’re now going to be much more open and respond to these types of questions. We’ll be interested to see what they have to say.

    • Christopher Bryant Works To Gain New Fans By Opening For Himself

      One of my favorite things about the emerging new music industry has been the realization that there is no longer a single best way to do much of anything anymore. That pioneering spirit is leading to wonderful experimentation including this great twist from indie artist Christopher Bryant.

    • With Ads, Music Downloads Sing a New Tune

      ON Hulu, the popular Web site that streams free television shows and other video, users have proved to be perfectly willing to watch short commercials, and a new site is betting that the same willingness will apply to downloading music.

    • Google Lawyer Claims Viacom Request Undermines Its Charge Of Copyright Infringement

      The judge presiding over the Viacom-YouTube copyright lawsuit has allowed Viacom to withdraw infringement claims for around 250 clips — including approximately 100 that were uploaded to the site by Viacom employees or agents.

    • Among The Clips That Viacom Sued Google Over, About 100 Were Uploaded By Viacom Itself

      That alone should show how ridiculous Viacom’s claims are in this lawsuit. There is simply no way for Google to know if clips are uploaded legitimately or not. Oddly, however, the court has now allowed Viacom to withdraw those clips, but lawyers like Eric Goldman are questioning how this isn’t a Rule 11 violation for frivolous or improper litigation. But, more importantly, it demonstrates that even Viacom has no idea which clips are infringing and which are authorized. Given that, how can it possibly say that it’s reasonable for Google to know?

    • Youtube and McDonalds says this is copyright infringement

      Evidently Youtube wants me to take this down, because of course a 4 year old dancing to a McDonald’s happy meal song (that was included with a happy meal) is too much for the copyright holder to handle.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Joerg Heilig, Sun Microsystems Senior Engineering Director talks about OpenOffice.org 17 (2004)


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

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: December 30th, 2009

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Read the log

Enter the IRC channel now

To use your own IRC client, join channel #boycottnovell in FreeNode.

Can Novell Survive 2010 Without Being Acquired/Merged?

Posted in Asia, Dell, Finance, Microsoft, Mono, Novell at 6:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell as moon

Summary: Novell’s weakness and slowdown as shown by this week’s press

WHILE NOVELL is going "downhill" it is also going to the East, notably countries like India. It’s a matter of cutting costs, just like at Microsoft.

Novell also moves to Taiwan, one of its very few growth markets which it perceives as an opportunity. According to the following new report from DigiTimes, Novell’s business is slowing down even in Taiwan.

Novell estimates its 2009 sales revenues in the Taiwan to increase by about 6% from 2008, marking the first time for the enterprise software and service provider to see on-year growth of less than 10% in the local market, according to Novell Taiwan general manager Barry Chen.

Everywhere one looks, Novell is bleeding to death and with $200,000,000 in losses (2009 fiscal), the future seems uncertain. Novell seems to have found its place in the industry acting as a Microsoft proxy and giving GNU/Linux users “Pledgeware” like Moonlight (also making it a more attractive takeover target for Microsoft, as regulators would spot less competition being eliminated, just converged). Sadly, it’s not a joke and Moonlight is poisonous. It’s Microsoft’s apple to the Free software Snow Whites.

Do the following latest news headlines (ones we have not included yet) make it sound like a gift?

That’s like a man proposing to a woman by promising that he would not beat her up. Feel the love in air. Needless to say, promises are not legal contracts and the promise itself is full of more than a dozen legal/technical holes, as was shown last week [1, 2].

Novell is down again and rumours return that it might be merged or acquired (Citrix named as a possibility).

Novell, Inc. (NASDAQ:NOVL), the infrastructure software company had the third largest retreat in the S&P 500 by slumping 2.40% to $4.07.

 

Oracle likes to be in control, as it soon will be with Java, so why not with x64-based server virtualization as well as application streaming and desktop virtualization? Oracle is a good fit for Citrix. But then again, Novell and Citrix could also merge. And as El Reg has pointed out more than once, IBM needs Novell and Citrix as much as Oracle might. Perhaps more.

Other journalists or pundits have already said that Citrix might buy Novell one day (and Microsoft might buy Citrix). Other potential acquirers/mergers for Novell — as mentioned by the press — are Dell and McAfee. Microsoft also seems like an option.

Kerala is Still Ahead of the Curve

Posted in Asia, Europe, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Patents at 5:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Kerala Seal

Summary: Kerala’s use of Free/libre software in government is commendable, but barriers still remain (although not technical ones, just bureaucratic, including pressure from Microsoft)

IN the previous post we showed that President Hu was apparently bamboozled by brainwash from the patents lobby. It is important for diplomats to keep an open mind because and despite being clueless (for the most part) when it comes to technology.

Kerala’s move towards Free software was motivated by principles, not necessarily cost.

“They probably want diplomats to be Luddites — to decide on technology they cannot understand.”Few governments in the world have actually supplied their members with GNU/Linux laptops. France and some countries in south America are notable examples of these, Kerala being another. Considering the need for digital independence, this should not be surprising.

What happens in Kerala at the moment is quite encouraging because more high-level officials are receiving GNU/Linux-powered computers with Free software installed on them. As always, other than Microsoft (see links at the bottom), someone has to stand in their way and protest the acquisition of these laptops. Weird, eh?

They probably want diplomats to be Luddites — to decide on technology they cannot understand simply based on lobbies, not personal experience and deeper understanding. Proprietary software encourages this mode of thinking (renting, never owning). That’s how the world ends up with clueless bureaucrats like the ones we showed earlier, those with hopes of passing ACTA.

Rebentisch, a German, has written extensively in his blog about digital independence. He is not even keen on the European Commission’s/Parliament’s decision to send Google an enhanced copy of all the site visitors’ data, using the malicious worm known as “Analytics” (formerly Urchin). Today he is writing about access to the ACTA document. Too little, too late?

From a mere citizen perspective in a liberal-democratic order I feel slightly scared by the secrecy and policy laundry from DG Trade. It explains why TRIPs as a trade process was a very dangerous precedent. A huge scandal is characterized by the amount of complaints. Can there be a scandal without notice and uproar? We don’t have a good phrase for the silent case. While the interested public now pays closer attention to ACTA it is of course all negotiated in parallel with bilateral talks, for instance the Korea-EU Trade Agreement comprises ACTA provisions.

ACTA contains (bundles together) parts that relate to patents, notably TRIPS [1, 2, 3, 4] that can essentially murder people.

Related posts:

Man Behind US Declaration of Independence Opposed Patenting

Posted in America, Apple, Asia, Intellectual Monopoly, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 5:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Thomas Jefferson

Summary: Sharp contrast between Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Edison; China falls into the trap of greed for monopoly

What do great thinkers like Don Knuth, Tim Berners-Lee and Thomas Jefferson have in common? Well, they all realised that intellectual monopolies hinder rather than advance science. TechDirt tells a story about Thomas Jefferson deciding that “The Hemp Brake Was Too Important To Patent”:

We’ve had plenty of discussions about Thomas Jefferson’s views on the patent system. He is, clearly, the father of the patent system in the US. While he was incredibly skeptical of the idea of granting any monopolies originally, he did come around to accept patents in very limited circumstances, and when he oversaw the patent system, he was careful to make sure that the downsides of such monopolies were limited. Separately, for many years, I’ve heard the story of how Ben Franklin purposely decided not to patent his stove invention, stating:

“As we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously.”

Regarding patents, a lot more has been said about Jefferson, who is known for his stubborn approach against this abuse of ownership. In The Letters of Thomas Jefferson we find:

THE EARTH BELONGS TO THE LIVING

“I set out on this ground which I suppose to be self evident, “that the earth belongs in usufruct to the living;” that the dead have neither powers nor rights over it. The portion occupied by an individual ceases to be his when himself ceases to be, and reverts to the society. If the society has formed no rules for the appropriation of its lands in severalty, it will be taken by the first occupants. These will generally be the wife and children of the decedent.”

Now, compare that to Thomas Edison, who in a time when the patent office was said to have already gotten everything concievable filed, decided to carry on and earn about one thousand patents. He was a real patent maximalist, to whom patenting other people’s work was also seen as acceptable, based on this new item from TechDirt:

How Thomas Edison, Patron Saint Of Patent Holders, Copied Others’ Works To ‘Invent’ The Light Bulb

We’ve written in the past how Thomas Edison — who is often held up by patent hoarders as the perfect example of why patents are necessary — didn’t actually invent any of the stuff he’s famous for “inventing.” Instead, he’s most famous for taking the work of others and innovating around it just slightly, to find a good market — but then also patenting the work of others and blocking anyone else from entering the market. I admire his innovative side and his marketing prowess, but find his abuse of patents to be unfortunate. Reader Michael points to a recent story in Wired which highlights how this worked with the incandescent lightbulb.

Microsoft and Apple have taken a similar approach whereby they patent other people’s already-implemented ideas (or slight variations around them). It offers vanity over a mere number, which is to be blindly perceived as might.

Glyn Moody points to this alarming reminder (among many more) that China wants to use patents — including software patents — to carve out a monopoly for itself. He says, “watch for the US to get the sharing bug soon,” particularly in relation to this article from a patent maximalist publication in China:

He [President Hu visited a privately owned software company, and was pleased to learn that business was better than last year. The President stressed the importance of technological innovation.

President Hu Jintao said, “Nowadays, the competition in information technology is extremely fierce. I hope you, as a software company, will treasure technological innovation as your life. You need to own intellectual property rights for your products. I hope you will be pioneers in the development of our country’s software industry.”

He gets it all wrong. China would be far more competitive by sharing its wealth of knowledge, thus cheapening the process of research and development. Maybe some lobbyists have had him misled. He ought to be a Jefferson, not an Edison.

“It was Edison who said “1% inspiration, 99% perspiration”. That may have been true a hundred years ago. These days it’s “0.01% inspiration, 99.99% perspiration”, and the inspiration is the easy part. As a project manager, I have never had trouble finding people with crazy ideas. I have trouble finding people who can execute. IOW, “innovation” is way oversold. And it sure as hell shouldn’t be applied to products like MS Word or Open office.”

Linus Torvald

Links 30/12/2009: ‘Google Phone’ Imminent

Posted in News Roundup at 2:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • What Took Wired So Loongson?

    I’ve been writing about the Loongson chip for three years now. As I’ve noted several times, this chip is important because (a) it’s a home-grown Chinese chip (albeit based on one from MIPS) and (b) Windows doesn’t run on it, but GNU/Linux does.

    [...]

    Because GNU/Linux distros have already been ported to the Loongson chip, neither Java nor OpenOffice.org needs “adapting” so much as recompiling – hardly a challenging task. As for “releasing it all under a free software license”, they had no choice.

  • What To Expect in 2010

    The coming year should be a good one for free software. Desktop environments are maturing, technology is improving. A lot of the ground work done in many areas over the past twelve months should propel free software further.

    While things are looking good, 2010 still won’t be the “Year of the Linux Desktop” (whatever that means).

  • Google

    • 18 Must Have Google Chrome Extensions

      Google and its applications are fast becoming the backbone of the internet. They seem to be solving everyone’s problems with free stuffs. Just when you get happy with something like Firefox, Google comes along and makes a browser that’s fast, super secure and has all kinds of add-ons and themes to personalize it.

  • Kernel Space

    • Ubuntu 32-bit, 32-bit PAE, 64-bit Kernel Benchmarks

      For this comparison we used Ubuntu 9.10 on a Lenovo ThinkPad T61 notebook running an Intel Core 2 Duo T9300 processor, 4GB of system memory, a 100GB Hitachi HTS7220 SATA HDD, and a NVIDIA Quadro NVS 140M. We were using the Ubuntu-supplied kernels that are based off the Linux 2.6.31 kernel in Ubuntu Karmic. Other packages that were maintained included GNOME 2.28.1, X Server 1.6.4, NVIDIA 195.22 display driver, GCC 4.4.1, and we were using the default EXT4 file-system with all other defaults. With Ubuntu to properly address 4GB or greater of system memory you need to use a PAE kernel as the Physical Address Extension support through the kernel’s high-mem configuration options are not enabled in the default 32-bit kernels.

    • Drivers

      • The YoLD is Dead; Long Live the YoLD!

        Yes, I’m helping to advertise for this vendor because they deserve my support for their explicit Linux support. senyum

      • Christmas wish: Distro hardware buyer’s guide

        So when I go shopping for hardware, it sucks to be me. I haven’t tested all this stuff, and I don’t know how much of it works perfectly out of the box. What I need is to decide what software I’m going to put on it,n and have hardware recommendations per price point from the software distributor, so that I can just go to my local Surcouf, FNAC or whatever, and just look at one label & say “That’s only 90% supported, no custom from me!”

      • Nvidia Linux Display Driver 190.53

        The drivers are available for 32, or 64-bit Linux versions.

  • Applications

  • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

    • KDE Community Invited to FOSS Nigeria 2010

      A few days ago The Dot received an invite for the KDE community to FOSS Nigeria. FOSS Nigeria 2010 will be the second Free Software conference in Nigeria, following the successful event last year (as reported on The Dot). Again, Free Software developers and community members from around the world, but of course especially those from Africa and Nigeria, are invited for a 3-day conference in Kano at the Bayero University Kano.

    • New Exposure Blending Tool for digiKam

      Great. Pre-processing is done. It’s time to use the second part of this plugin and to fuse bracketed images to a pseudo HDR image. On this new window, you can see a preview area on the left, and on the right, the bracketed images stack on the top, all Enfuse settings on the center, and finally, all processed images generated on the bottom. For each enfused image, you can choose which input bracketed images you want to use. Selecting a processed image on the bottom will load it to preview, to easy compare results. You can zoom in/out and pan preview if you want. To save processed images, just press Save button, and all selected items from processed stack will be saved to the current digiKam album.

  • Distributions

    • Mandriva 2010 thoughts

      TOMOYO is also in this version of Mandriva. TOMOYO is the new security framework used by default instead of AppArmor. It promises quite a lot just now but should mature rapidly, as do all GNU/Linux-based security applications. On the Mandriva community wiki, you are advised not to use the RC1 or RC2 version to upgrade an existing Mandriva Linux installation. There are unresolved issues with KDE and GNOME and other windows managers, which is likely to result in a system upgraded from any stable release to this version being unable to start a desktop or rendering it useless for most people.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Meeting business demands

        “We considered a number of operating systems as the platform for our business-critical SAP applications, and after much testing and evaluation, we selected Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform on HP ProLiant servers because it met our requirements and provided the best overall value, stability and performance,” pointed out Mohit Agarwal, CIO of Carnation Auto.

    • Debian Family

      • SuperOS: Like Ubuntu But Easier

        One problem I run into a lot when recommending Ubuntu to complete Linux newbies is they aren’t used to installing codecs or using the terminal when they want to play DVDs, MP3s and other file types. Explaining the legal situation is something I make a point of doing but some people “just want it to work”. This is what has led me to Super Ubuntu or SuperOS as it’s now called. Once the recently released SuperOS 9.10 was adequately seeded I downloaded this enhanced version of Ubuntu and took it for a spin.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Composite video output from chumby

      [bunnie] posted this pretty slick way of getting composite video out of a Chumby. The Chumby is an open source connectivity device that has already seen some decent hacking. This modification, done by [xobs] isn’t too difficult. It only requires patching into some pads on the motherboard and loading a custom kernel to support the external output.

    • Phones

      • Palm updates webOS for Pixi, Pre smartphones

        Palm has launched an update to its web OS, which comes with enhancements to its App Catalog and improvements in battery life optimisation when in marginal coverage areas. It is available for Palm Pixi and Palm Pre smartphones, both of which are exclusive to the Sprint Nextel network.

      • Android

        • Googlephone debuts Jan. 5, says everyone but Google

          This morning, a carefully selected slice of the tech press received a short but sweet invitation to the announcement event. In the long-standing tradition of milking product announcements for every drop of suspense, the invitation doesn’t mention the Nexus One specifically, but merely reads:

          With the launch of the first Android-powered device just over a year ago, we’ve seen how a powerful, open platform can spur mobile product innovation. And this is just the beginning of what’s possible.

        • Google Confirms Android Media Event — Hello, Nexus One?

          It may be the moment the tech world’s been waiting for: Google has just officially announced plans for an Android-related media event to be held next Tuesday, January 5, at its Mountain View campus.

          If recent online chatter is to be believed, the event could have something to do with the Nexus One — the highly anticipated HTC-built handset seemingly under development by Google.

        • Android Developer Challenge Winners!

          The quality of applications available on Google’s Android platform is improving by leaps and bounds. Whereas most of the apps that Google showcased last year in its first Android Developer Challenge

        • Linux Outlaws 129 – The Year 2009 in Review (Year of the Android Revolution)

          In the final show for the year and the decade, Dan and Fab look back at 2009 and the major news stories of the year. We also try to decide what this year was all about. There’s even some special funny content as a little bonus.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • ‘Smartbooks’ Latest to Join Crowded Computer Market

        Most smartbooks, which are expected to be built by both PC makers as well as manufacturers of cellphones and consumer-electronics, will run versions of the Linux operating system and low-cost chips based on designs licensed by ARM Holdings PLC.

      • Smarter than a netbook

        Freescale’s research focused on the future because most smartbooks have yet to hit the market. The company has collaborated on one smartbook to date: the NetWalker from Japanese manufacturer Sharp. Qualcomm has also unveiled one smartbook, made by Lenovo. Both companies expect at least a dozen smartbooks incorporating their chips to debut in early 2010.

      • Twenty companies to release smartbooks from Q1 2010

        We have been waiting for the smartbook revolution to take hold for some time now. Well it looks like it will kick off in earnest from the first quarter of next year. According to President Kim Yung-sup of ARM Korea, “20 companies in the world are preparing for release of smart book. And we will see them from 1Q.”

      • Linux on Netbooks – with PICTURES!

        As this is the holiday season, and things are slow, I have finally taken the time to follow up on some very good advice that Jake gave me, and learn to produce blog entries with pictures. Of course, there is no better way to start than with the specific subject that Jake (and others) said they would like to see pictures of, so here is a quick review of some of the most common Netbook-centric Linux distributions.

        [...]

        Overall I am quite impressed with the KDE Netbook desktop, and I am anxious to see how its development continues. The last I heard it was scheduled for an initial release in early 2010, so I will be watching for that.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Advogato’s Number: Advice for young free software developers

    This week, Advogato gets up on his soapbox and dispenses advice to free software neophytes.

    I’ll take the risk of demonstrating my advanced age and give some advice for new free software developers. With luck, this post will get some discussion rolling. What are some of the worst mistakes you’ve made as a free software developer. What has worked well for you?

  • Best of 2009

    Best distro release: Knoppix 6.x
    After a long hiatus, the venerable Live CD Linux distribution emerged in a new version redesigned from the ground up. The latest version sports a brand new accelerated boot procedure which significantly reduces the boot time, and the LXDE lightweight graphical desktop environment. Unlike previous versions, Knoppix 6.0 comes with a trimmed software bundle, but key productivity applications like OpenOffice.org, Iceweasel (aka Firefox), Icedove (aka Thunderbird), Pidgin, and the GIMP are still there. The latest version of Knoppix features a new flash-knoppix tool that allows you to install Knoppix on a USB stick or a flash card.

  • More than ever, saving is in vogue

    And try the OpenOffice.org, instead of paying for Microsoft Office.

  • Cleaning dust on photos: or “In Gimp We Trust!”

    A few weeks ago I finally realized my old wish: I bought a real camera for me: a Nikon D40 – which is, according to many, many people, is the best DSLR out there. At least for non-professionals.

  • Our future – SixthSense Technology

    The good part is that Pranav is planning to make available this software as open source so every one can benefit. Since it will open source, anyone can add features or modify the software as he wishes. The hardware costs for this system are relatively low.

  • Mozilla

    • 8 Hidden Firefox Secrets Revealed

      8. Firefox Optimizer: Firefox Optimizers for Mozilla Firefox v1.x / 2.x / 3.x was developed for an easy and fast optimization of your browsing experience with Firefox. It is based on a collection of popular and well working optimization settings used and tested by the experts.

  • Databases

    • Some thoughts on MySQL and Oracle

      Fear #1 is that Oracle will kill MySQL, which Oracle is said to see as a threat to its cash-cow relational database management system. One might respond that similar fears were expressed after Oracle’s acquisitions of Innobase and Sleepycat Software, but that things have not turned out that way so far. One might say (as Eben Moglen has) that keeping MySQL healthy is in Oracle’s economic interest. One might also respond that Oracle could arguably do more damage to MySQL by breaking off the acquisition and allowing Sun to simply die. But what is most interesting about this particular concern is the lack of faith it shows in our community’s ability to cope with such an outcome.

  • BSD

    • Social Hosting, Good Parenting Are Keys to Open Source Success

      Markdown is a text-to-HTML conversion tool which allows you to write web code using an easy-to-understand plain text format. Markdown text is then converted to structurally valid XHTML (or HTML). Markdown is used all over the web — it’s even understood by the content fields and comment forms within most popular blogging platforms, including WordPress and Movable Type. It’s been ported to Python, Ruby, PHP and other popular languages.

      However, the original Perl script has remained largely unchanged since its release in 2004. In his post, Atwood takes Gruber to task for what Atwood calls “bad parenting,” an indictment of Markdown’s lack of bug fixes, updates and improvements.

      Markdown was released under a BSD-style open source license, meaning the community can do pretty much whatever it likes with the code, so long as it respects the copyright notices and naming rules. Indeed, many ports of Markdown enjoy rather widespread support with numerous contributors and an aggregate community of active developers that the original Markdown lacks.

  • Openness

    • ScienceOnline09 – an interview with Cameron Neylon

      In terms of the blogs on my blog roll there are many that will be familiar (Deepak Singh’s BBGM, Jean-Claude Bradley’s Usefulchem, John Wilbanks’ Common Knowledge, Neil Saunders’ What you’re doing is rather desperate). I keep an eye on Richard Grant (The Scientist), Jenny Rohn, and Martin Fenner at Nature Network. Some other blogs that may not be as familiar to the regular sciblogger community but are well worth the effort are Greg Wilson’s The Third Bit, Mike Ellis’ Electronic Museum, PT Sefton’s blog and Nico Adams’ Staudinger’s Semantic Molecules.

    • The picons databases (Personal Images) are available via WWW in the Picons Archive

      “picons” is short for “personal icons”. They’re small, constrained images used to represent users and domains on the net, organized into databases so that the appropriate image for a given e-mail address can be found. Besides users and domains, there are picons databases for Usenet newsgroups and weather forecasts. The picons are in either monochrome XBM format or color XPM and GIF formats.

  • Programming

    • Embedded programming languages

      A long time ago when I first started at IBM I used an editor named XEDIT that ran under the VM/CMS operating system on mainframes. It was a fullscreen, line-oriented editor that looks primitive now but was quite sophisticated in its time. One of the best things about it was that it was scriptable: you could write very sophisticated programs that could manipulate files and their contents. XEDIT really became powerful when used with the REXX programming language and many of my thoughts and philosophy about embedded languages were formed during my use of REXX.

    • New Year, New Adventures in Software Application Development

      In 2010, developers will learn to let go and adapt to a centralized resource pool, continuous testing will eclipse continuous integration, coffee breaks will get shorter, open source CI tools will buckle in big shops, and distributed software configuration management tools will cross the chasm from open source projects to the enterprise.

  • Applications

    • Nightshade Open Source Planetarium Project Launched

      Digitalis Education Solutions, Inc. is pleased to announce the official launch of Nightshade, open source astronomy simulation and visualization software specifically tailored to digital planetarium and educator use.

    • Firebird 2.5 RC1 released

      The primary goal for Firebird 2.5 was to establish the basics for a new threading architecture that is almost entirely common to the Superserver, Classic and Embedded models, taking in lower level synchronization and thread safety generally.

Leftovers

  • Jimbo asks online folk to play nice, be civil

    The co-founder of Wikipedia is once again calling on internet surfers to adopt good manners online.

  • Google Loses Claim to Groovle Domain Name

    Google’s complaint that the domain name groovle.com is confusingly similar to its own is without foundation, an ICANN-approved arbitration body has ruled.

  • Crime

    • Former Seagate engineer says company destroyed evidence

      A former employee of Seagate Technology claims that the company destroyed evidence that could have affected a long-standing patent infringement lawsuit filed against it by engineering company Convolve Inc. and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

      In a court document obtained by the New York Times that was filed late last month, the former employee, Paul A. Galloway, claimed in an affidavit that Seagate deliberately destroyed the source code pertaining to a disk driving using Convolve’s intellectual property and “failed to preserve” Galloway’s PC containing all of his work during development of the drive.

  • Police State

    • Big Brother’s watching you..undress

      A PREGNANT mother was horrified to see live pictures of her BED on a travel news website.

      A camera meant to be monitoring traffic was instead pointing directly at Megan Franklin’s bedroom.

    • Boy in deportation raid kept in van with border agency officials

      A nine-year-old boy was separated from his mother and kept in a van for several hours by UK Border Agency officials while she was treated in hospital.

      The agency held the boy – known as Child M – in a vehicle for three hours after an early morning deportation raid, and said that he had not been distressed. The family, however, said the child repeatedly asked to see his mother and was terrified during the incarceration.

    • California cops don defensive headcams

      Ever since Rodney King was famously videotaped receiving what many saw as an over-the-top thrashing by Los Angeles lawmen back in 1991, video footage of alleged police misconduct has time and time again come back to haunt overzealous boys in blue.

  • Security

    • How To: Hack like China’s Government

      Fascinating study done by Northrup Grumman Corporation for the US government’s US-China Economic and Security Review Commission about the Chinese government’s Cyberwar capability.

      In fact, it presents techniques in such a way as to offer a “How To” guide for aspiring state-sponsored hackers.

    • Is aviation security mostly for show?

      We’d do much better by leveraging the inherent strengths of our modern democracies and the natural advantages we have over the terrorists: our adaptability and survivability, our international network of laws and law enforcement, and the freedoms and liberties that make our society so enviable.

      The way we live is open enough to make terrorists rare; we are observant enough to prevent most of the terrorist plots that exist, and indomitable enough to survive the even fewer terrorist plots that actually succeed. We don’t need to pretend otherwise.

  • Environment

    • Long term agricultural overshoot

      According to Peter, humanity has probably been in overshoot of the Earth’s carrying capacity since it abandoned hunter gathering in favor of crop cultivation (~ 8,000 BCE). The problem is that soil needs tightly woven natural ecosystems to properly recycle nutrients and prevent soil erosion.

    • Updates to model-data comparisons

      It’s worth going back every so often to see how projections made back in the day are shaping up. As we get to the end of another year, we can update all of the graphs of annual means with another single datapoint. Statistically this isn’t hugely important, but people seem interested, so why not?

      For example, here is an update of the graph showing the annual mean anomalies from the IPCC AR4 models plotted against the surface temperature records from the HadCRUT3v and GISTEMP products (it really doesn’t matter which). Everything has been baselined to 1980-1999 (as in the 2007 IPCC report) and the envelope in grey encloses 95% of the model runs. The 2009 number is the Jan-Nov average.

    • Trade, Transportation, and the Chinese Finger Trap

      One of the central underpinnings of neo-classical economics is trade. And one of the central tenets of trade is the Ricardian theory of comparative advantage. Trade (in theory) benefits both parties because both are better off after the exchange. But our international trade system has, by baby steps, become completely dependent on twin enablers: crude oil and credit. By air, water, land or rail, petroleum accounts for 95% of all transportation energy. As we move up the complexity chain in the products that make up our daily lives, are we moving further into a Chinese finger trap where there is no backing out?

      This post will examine the theory of international trade and the hierarchy of goods transport, production and consumption. It is quite possible that in the next decade, the increase in price (or the decreasing availability) of oil and financing, will offset the benefits of many types of trade.

  • Internet/Web Abuse/DRM

    • Home copying of e-books and digital rights management

      A frequently asked question that seems appropriate this time of year (given the number of e-books that are likely to appear in people’s Christmas stockings) concerns what one is legally allowed to do with documents on one’s own e-book, particularly one that is protected by some form of digital rights management.

    • The Lost Decades of the UK Web

      So, 20 years after Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the technology, and well over a decade after the Web became a mass medium, and the British Library *still* isn’t archiving every Web site?

      History – assuming we have one – will judge us harshly for this extraordinary UK failure to preserve the key decades of the quintessential technology of our age. It’s like burning down a local digital version of the Library of Alexandria, all over again.

    • One Million Free and Legal Torrent Downloads, The Album

      The FrostWire P2P client promotes music of starting and independent artists through its FrostClick service. The service has been running for over a year and is a great success. To celebrate the first million downloads of 2009, a compilation album has been released, featuring free Creative Commons-licensed tracks from 21 artists.

    • BitTorrent Sites May Be Censored in Italy

      The Italian Supreme Court has ruled that ISPs can be forced to block BitTorrent sites, even if they are not hosted in Italy or operated by Italian citizens. According to the decision by the Supreme Court, sites offering torrent files that link to copyrighted material are engaging in criminal activity.

      [...]

      The fact that a site is not hosted in Italy or operated by Italians is irrelevant according to the court. The site is visited by many Italians who (in part) use it to share copyrighted material, the Supreme Court argued.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • Copyright Infringement: A Modest Proposal

      Given that the UK government seems happy for huge sums of money to be spent on this fool’s errand, why not spend it more effectively, in a way that sustains businesses, rather than penalising them, and which actually encourages people not to download copyrighted material from unauthorised sources?

      This can be done quite simply: by giving everyone who wants it a free Spotify Premium subscription. These normally cost £120 per year, but buying a national licence for the 10 million families or so who are online would presumably garner a generous discount – say, of 50% – bringing the total price of the scheme to around £600 million, pretty much the expected cost of the current plans.

    • Getting Copyright Right for the Digital Age

      It is extraordinary how copyright has turned from an obscure, dusty corner of the law to one of the flashpoints of the digital age. The reason is simple. Copyright is an intellectual *monopoly*, and like all monopolies tries to limit access to a given good. But limiting access to digital goods is a forlorn hope: as Bruce Schneier expressed it so memorably, trying to make digital files uncopiable is like trying to make water not wet. The battle over copyright is therefore a manifestation of a far deeper struggle between two ways of looking at the world: one based on scarce analogue objects, the other on abundant digital ones.

    • Abusing Copyrights to Silence Critics, Control Customers, and Crush Competition

      Hardly a day goes by without yet another news story about creative uses of copyright, the DMCA, and generic attack lawyers to stifle free speech, criticism, and competition. It seems that money can buy all kinds of creative “justice.” For example, in the increasingly bizarre Apple vs. Psystar drama, in which Psystar commited the awful crime of selling a tool to help customers install Mac OS X on the hardware of their choice, Apple have prevailed yet again in court, and Psystar cannot do this anymore.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Joerg Heilig, Sun Microsystems Senior Engineering Director talks about OpenOffice.org 16 (2004)


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

Pedro Valesco-Martins Explains the ACTA Conspiracy

Posted in Intellectual Monopoly, Videos at 8:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Boycott Bing” Revisited, Google Makes It Obsolete Anyway

Posted in Asia, Google, Microsoft, Search at 8:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Boycott Novell note

Summary: The New York Times’ (NY Times) call for a Bing boycott worth another look now that Microsoft strategises on China

About a month ago, the NY Times took an unusual stance when one of its writers called for a Bing boycott, noting that it provided a biased/warped reality that happens to exclude not only Microsoft competitors but also competitors of its partners, who include the notorious Chinese regime. The short story is that Microsoft was censoring for the Chinese government, leading to calls for a boycott. Later on, Microsoft acknowledged the problem (when calls for a boycott became too widespread) and blamed it on a “bug”.

Microsoft has problems in China. It has already lost Lee (so has Google) and a prior manager (mentioned here). Rather recently it fired 300 employees over there but it is still moving to cheaper labour and hiring from the outside, which leads to blunders [1, 2, 3, 4]. According to Reuters and Microsoft Nick, Microsoft wants more control and favouritism in China. Playing along with the suppressive government is maybe their strategy.

The posting from the NY Times by no means mean that the publication is against Microsoft; it’s usually the opposite because NY Times works for its clients, who are advertisers, not subscribers [1, 2]. That’s where all the big money is.

TechDirt accuses the NY Times of “Running A Ridiculous, Conflicted Op-Ed Against Google”:

It makes you wonder why the NY Times would allow such an OpEd to go forward. Kedrosky has his opinion: “apparently NY Times OpEds over the holidays are vetted by malnourished monkeys.”

It’s about this article, calling for “search neutrality”.

Today, search engines like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft’s new Bing have become the Internet’s gatekeepers, and the crucial role they play in directing users to Web sites means they are now as essential a component of its infrastructure as the physical network itself. The F.C.C. needs to look beyond network neutrality and include “search neutrality”: the principle that search engines should have no editorial policies other than that their results be comprehensive, impartial and based solely on relevance.

While it is true that Google needs to be watched carefully (not just for privacy reasons but also for its occasional misuse of Free software), to pretend that Microsoft is better than Google when it come to ethics is totally laughable. See Verizon for example. On the issue of privacy, there is this new article:

Government data, our data, now held by Google

[...]

You see Google has been running a bit of an advertising campaign built around the fact that over 60% of the United States state governments are using part or all of Google’s Apps. I realized that the open source and freetard brigade will argue that this is a great thing given that it boost the whole idea of free and open source software in the public eye but stop and think for a minute.

60% plus. That’s 60% or better of states who are storing supposedly private and extremely personal data of ours on a third party server of a company thats sole purpose is to index all the information in the world.

It is better to have this data in Google’s datacentres than in Microsoft’s. But ideally, as we said before, no public institution should ever outsource data like this, specially to foreign entities. If private businesses choose to do it, then the matter is altogether different in nature. When it comes to Web-based software, Google is also said to be ahead of Microsoft. As someone from Fonality has put it this month:

I just took a moment to re-read what I have written. Sounds like I work for Google. I don’t. But this blog is about what works for business and I feel that Google made a bold move to make businesses work better. I actually am not a Microsoft Hater anymore. Outgrew that when I put away the code. I just think they are an old and overpriced model. It will be interesting to see how good their response to Google Docs is: Office Web Apps. I bet MSFT isn’t used to playing catch-up on one of their core businesses!

Google will hopefully turn out the lights for Microsoft.

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