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03.26.10

Links 26/3/2010: BPhone Debuts, Free Software in Jordanian Schools

Posted in News Roundup at 4:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Top Linux gurus for 2010, gaming advances, and Gnome Gmail
  • Tunisia takes part in Linux exhibition in Paris

    At the initiative of the Free Software Unit under the Ministry of Communication Technologies and with the support of CEPEX and the National Federation of ICT, nine Tunisian companies took part for the first time, at the European exhibition “Solutions Linux / Open Source” held in Paris from March 16 to 18, 2010.

  • Why You Should Be Careful Outsourcing Your Logo Design
  • Desktop

    • No Linux On Netflix

      If you are a Microsoft/Windows or Apple/Mac user Netflix will allow you to instantly play a movie, but if you are a GnuLinux user, they will not allow you to play any of your favourite movies. They have no support for GnuLinux operating system.

    • An Example Of The Kind Of Blogger That Depresses Me

      Here, like a C function in an infinite loop, I repeat again the blazing original ideas that so far I am still the only tech blogger to have ever uttered:

      * Perhaps Linux is not for everyone.
      * Perhaps computers are not for everyone.
      * Perhaps Linux is a self-rewarding idea. If you’re enlightened enough to seek it out, you’re automatically enlightened enough to use it.
      * Perhaps Linux could not replace Microsoft without becoming just as evil as Microsoft.
      * Perhaps Linux is more successful in the industrial sector than the desktop because it’s an industrial system for industrious people.
      * Perhaps the desktop (as in year of Linux on) doesn’t matter.
      * Perhaps it has nothing to do with how operating systems are designed.
      * Perhaps it has nothing to do with computers at all.

  • Server

  • Linux Graphics Stack

    • AMD Catalyst 10.3 For Linux Released

      AMD has just put out their monthly update of the Catalyst Linux driver. Though as we already know based upon AMD giving Ubuntu a new driver, the support for X Server 1.7 is not coming until next month, which also offers official Eyefinity support and other changes. As such, Catalyst 10.3 isn’t too interesting.

    • radeontool 1.6.1 released

      I’ve just done a 1.6.1 release of radeontool from my personal repo, it contains both radeontool and avivotool, and is probably full of ugly but whats in distros now is older and worse.

    • Woah, AMD Releases OpenGL 4.0 Linux Support!

      Woah, here comes a pleasant surprise from AMD with their Catalyst Linux driver. AMD yesterday released a Catalyst 10.3 Linux driver that really didn’t bring anything too exciting (and it still doesn’t support X.Org Server 1.7), but today they’ve delivered a new preview driver that’s based on Catalyst 10.3 and it brings OpenGL 3.3/4.0 support!

    • Benchmarking Recent Mesa 3D Releases

      With Mesa 7.8 arriving this month, we took the time to benchmark a few recent releases of the Mesa 3D stack with the Radeon DRI driver to see how the OpenGL performance has changed — if at all — over the past few months. In this article are our R500 Mesa benchmarks from the Mesa 7.6, 7.7, 7.8-rc1, and 7.9-devel releases.

    • Radeon GPU Recovery To Hit Linux 2.6.34 Kernel

      David Airlie has just asked Linus to pull in his latest DRM branch for the Linux 2.6.34 kernel. This branch provides fixes to the DRM core, Nouveau, and Radeon KMS. The new Radeon DRM code brings fixes, but it also brings a clean-up to the ASIC tables and GPU recovery support.

  • Applications

    • Applications and bundled libraries

      Mozilla is moving to a different release model, which may necessitate distribution changes. The idea is to include feature upgrades as part of minor releases—many of which are done to fix security flaws—which would come out every 4-6 weeks or so. Major releases would be done at roughly six-month intervals and older major releases would stop being supported soon after a subsequent release. Though the plan is controversial—particularly merging security and features into the minor releases—it may work well for Mozilla, and the bulk of Mozilla’s users who are on Windows.

    • 6 of the Best Free Linux HDR Imaging Software

      High dynamic range imaging (HDR) is an important technology for photographers. It is a collection of techniques that allow a wider dynamic range of luminances between the lightest and darkest areas of an image.

    • Instructionals

    • Games

      • Unigine Heaven 2.0 Launches For Linux

        Unigine Heaven has finally arrived! Unigine Heaven, a tech demo / benchmark that offers heavenly graphics and was released for Windows 7 back in October with a DirectX 11 renderer, is now available on Linux with its OpenGL 3.2 renderer. As we suspected, the Linux support has arrived with the release of Unigine Heaven 2.0, which includes an updated Windows binary as well.

  • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

    • Plasma Javascript Jam: Open For Submissions!

      We’re cool with people re-submitting their Plasmoid if they make some improvements or catch some odd bug after sending it in and we will be testing Plasmoids against the latest ScriptEngine in the 4.4 branch, though if your Plasmoid requires (for whatever reason) the ScriptEngine from trunk we can probably accomodate that in the judging.

    • krunner, QDBusServiceWatcher
  • Distributions

    • Red Hat Family

      • Open source channel buoyant as Red Hat sales surge

        UK VARs have reported a turnaround in end-user attitudes towards open source software, just as Linux kingpin Red Hat posted a double-digit sales surge.

        Red Hat has grown consistently throughout the downturn and its run shows no signs of slowing after it logged its fourth quarter and full-year results. The New York-listed outfit’s share price has doubled over the last 12 months.

      • Red Hat tops off bumper year with 44% profit jump

        Strong increases in both full-year and quarterly net income and revenue as open source enterprise software vendor capitalises on recessionary climate

        Open source enterprise software vendor Red Hat has posted an 18% rise in revenues to $195.9 million for the final quarter of its financial year, and a 44% increase in net income to $23.4 million.

      • Fedora

        • FWN Issue 218

          Welcome to Fedora Weekly News Issue 218 for the week ending March 21, 2010. What follows are some highlights from this issue.

    • Debian Family

      • Revitalizing Debian Project News
      • Ubuntu

        • Ubuntu Road Test (Final Report)

          So there you have it, Linux passed this test with flying colors, performing consistently throughout the whole month under some intense use. In addition, I want to note that I have not had a single issue or crash during these past 30 days, which may not be a surprise under Linux standards, but significant when comparing it to other operating systems.

          I always recommend people I know to use the software that best fits their needs. I am no die-hard Linux fanboi and have no problem acknowledging Linux flaws or weaknesses. Having said so, I still feel many people try Linux and simply follow their first impression. Eventually, it is mostly an exercise of “Well, this is not how I do it in Windows”, and they just go back to what they know better. If they got past that getting-used-to phase, though, I believe Linux could add a lot of value in terms of performance, consistency, security and flexibility. At the end of the day, that all translates in higher productivity for the end user which, unless you are using your PC as a gaming console or a media center, is what it’s all about, isn’t it?

        • Big Button Game: Metacity Introduces Flexibility

          The current button arrangement redesign in Ubuntu causes numerous bugs in GNOME and Ubuntu. The Metacity team now wants to step in.

        • Less is more. But still less.
        • Ubuntu 10.04 in focus: Empathy

          The default messaging client in Ubuntu 10.04 remains Empathy and although it has some detractors still smarting over the switch from perennial favourite Pidgin Empathy remains a fully capable and easy to use messaging client.

          Lucid sees Empathy ramp up a gear in the usability stakes partly spurred on by the awesome work of the Ubuntu 100 paper cuts initiative that sought to fix the little niggles that tend to get over looked by developers.

        • Things I Hate About Ubuntu 10.04, Lucid Lynx (beta)
        • Lay your bets on the Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (lucid lynx) trend spike
        • Comments to Ubuntu 10.04 Reads File Sizes Differently

          Correcting all applications to comply to the units policy is a goal for lucid+1 (Ubuntu 10.10). We are too late in the release cycle for the change in lucid (Ubuntu 10.04). My current plan is to create a library for inputing/outputting bytes to users. The user can then configure this library to display the units in base-2 (KiB), base-10 (kB), or the historical totally fucked-up format (KB).

        • Divided we stand, united we fall
        • Cloud computing made simple

          It has been a truly amazing year since we embarked on our “cloud” journey at Ubuntu, hence I thought I’d review some of the highlights.

        • Planning for 10.10: Improving How We Review Patches

          At the heart of Ubuntu development are gifts. People join our community and contribute in a diverse range of ways. This includes documentation, translations, advocacy and many other efforts. Every day we are afforded with many of these fantastic contributions, and if people take the time to contribute a gifts, we should work hard as a community to do the right thing and review and utilize it in Ubuntu if it meets our quality needs.

        • Variants

          • Lubuntu – Ubuntu with LXDE desktop

            The Lubuntu project started in March 2009, with the purpose of creating a lighter and less resource demanding alternative to the Xubuntu operating system, using the LXDE desktop environment. The ultimate goal of this project is to join the ranks of Kubuntu and Xubuntu, and become an officially supported derivative of Ubuntu.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Ubiquitous demos one-second boot tech

      The company is hoping to sell the technology, which it has developed for Linux and Android on ARM-based architecture systems, to OEMs and ODMs creating TVs with embedded computing technology, set-top boxes, highly portable devices such as smartphones and smartbooks, and even the in-car entertainment industry – although has yet to release pricing information.

    • IGEL Technology to launch latest all-in-one UD9 thin client with large integrated flat panel display

      The Advanced firmware pack also supports services such as Flash, VoIP (Linux only), a native SAP GUI, NoMachine NX and ThinLinc printing as well as other web, multi-media, video conferencing and peripheral controls.

    • Man takes photos from space using £500 digital camera kit

      The camera was hooked up to a small, Linux-based computer that was set to wake up the camera at set intervals and snap a picture. A GPS unit allowed Harrison to recover his camera when the balloon eventually came back to Earth.

    • Phones

      • BPhone Quad Band Linux Smartphone

        Its also equipped with WiFi, Bluetooth and plays any of the following formats supports TXT , MP3, WAV, AMR, AWB audio files, 3GP, MPEG4 and AVI video.

      • Unlocked Linux smartphone swivels 180 degrees

        ChinaGrabber is selling an unlocked, quadband GSM cellphone that runs Linux on a 624MHz Marvell PXA310. The $570 BPhone features a 5-inch 800 x 480 touchscreen with 180-degree rotation, plus WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, and up to 16GB flash expansion.

      • Nokia

        • Nokia N900 Review

          The N900 is the first linux-based Phone from Nokia. The operating system on the Nokia N900 is Maemo 5 (Fremantle). Maemo is based on the popular Debian linux distribution. The N900 can be seen as an internet tablet with phone capabilities.

      • Android

    • Sub-notebooks

    • Fast Boot

      • Asus Eee PC 1201T review

        The Asus Eee PC 1201T takes a leaf out of the HP Mini 110-1106vu’s book by coming with a pre-OS Linux utility called Splashtop, an instant-on stripped down operating system which logs you online within seconds of turning on the netbook.

      • Lenovo Skylight smartbook hands-on impressions

        The Skylight runs on a custom Linux kernel and Kang noticed that the device lagged when having more than 9 apps open in the background. Playing back YouTube wasn’t smooth either, despite having the ability to play Flash, this is likely to be fixed before launch. The built-in 3G sim card slot is welcome along with the HDMI port.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Symbian plans fightback as phone share slumps

    On a handset running Symbian ^3, he showed me features such as multi-touch, multi-tasking, 3D support, improved shading and transparency on the screen interface, a social address book linked to Facebook and Twitter and moveable and customisable web-based widgets.

  • FOSSBazaar face to face meeting at LF Collaboration Summit

    As in the last two years, we’ll be holding a FOSSBazaar face to face meeting at the LF Collaboration Summit. The Collaboration Summit takes place from Wednesday April 14 to Friday April 16 in San Francisco and our meeting will be on Thursday and Friday.

  • BLOSSOMS: Jordan Chooses Open Education for High Schools

    Jordanian Minister of Education, Ibrahim Badran, announced Jordan’s intention to start BLOSSOMS II in ten selected high schools of the kingdom. BLOSSOMS (Blended Learning Open Source Science or Math Studies) is an Open-education initiative started by MIT in partnership with Jordan and Pakistan.

  • Eclipse

    • Apache Maven Hitting the Enterprise and Eclipse

      The Apache Maven project is used by over 3 million Java developers as a project and build management solution. Java developers also widely use the Eclipse IDE. At the intersection of Eclipse and Maven is the new Maven Studio for Eclipse announced this week by Maven commercial backer Sonatype.

    • Eclipse Foundation Expands Runtime Efforts

      Today at the EclipseCon event, the Eclipse Foundation announced the expansion of its EclipseRT top-level project with Gemini and Virgo, a pair of newly approved projects that both provide implementations of the OSGi (Open Services Gateway initiative) runtime.

  • Oracle

  • Government

    • ESRI to government: aren’t you being a little hasty in making this OS data free?

      ESRI has sent an open letter to government – with a number of co-signatories who are in effect competitors – fretting about the proposal (commitment really) to make a number of OS datasets free.

      Below is the letter, which I’ve blockquoted to make it clear what’s the letter and what’s not. I’ve inserted some comments, based on my personal knowledge; and of course some of this is coloured by my advocacy of the Free Our Data campaign.

  • Openness

    • Cologne-based libraries release 5.4 million bibliographic records via CC0

      From the press release,

      Rolf Thiele, deputy director of the USB Cologne, states: “Libraries appreciate the Open Access movement because they themselves feel obliged to provide access to knowledge without barriers. Providing this kind of access for bibliographic data, thus applying the idea of Open Access to their own products, has been disregarded until now. Up to this point, it was not possible to download library catalogues as a whole. This will now be possible. We are taking a first step towards a worldwide visibility of library holdings on the internet.”

      “In times in which publishers and some library organisations see data primarily as a source of capital, it is important to stick up for the traditional duty of libraries and librarians. Libraries have always strived to make large amounts of knowledge accessible to as many people as possible, with the lowest restrictions possible,” said Silke Schomburg, deputy director of the hbz. “Furthermore libraries are funded by the public. And what is publicly financed should be made available to the public without restrictions,” she continued.

Leftovers

  • Facebook blamed for rising STD rates in Britain: report

    Can Facebook be blamed for a rising STD rate? The incidence of syphilis has quadrupled in the areas of Great Britain where the social networking site is most popular, reports the Daily Telegraph, causing some experts to wonder whether it’s paved the way for casual hookups.

  • Seaweed to Tackle Rising Tide of Obesity

    Seaweed could hold the key to tackling obesity after it was found it reduces fat uptake by more than 75 per cent, new research has shown.

  • BCS turns down e-signature petition

    A petition to hold an emergency general meeting of the British Computing Society (BCS) has been turned down because the signatures were electronic.

  • Science

    • Found: 90% of the distant Universe

      I love this study. It’s a great application of simple logic, though it wasn’t so simple to do: they had to use a lot of time on a monster 8 meter telescope to do it!

  • Security

    • US may give countries the drug war treatment on cybercrime

      The US government disburses a significant amount of foreign aid to many countries and, in recent decades, that money has been used as a carrot to induce more acceptable behavior from its recipients. In a variety of laws, Congress has required that the executive branch certify that a nation has made progress in areas like human rights or narcotics control before different forms of aid to that country can be approved, including continuation of “most favored nation” trading status. Now, there’s a move afoot to extend this protocol to another area of concern: cybercrime.

    • Frenchman Arrested After Hacking Into Obama’s Twitter Accounts

      A Frenchman will face trial after hacking into Twitter accounts, including that of U.S President Barack Obama, a French prosecutor said.

      The 24-year-old man from central France was arrested on Tuesday and could face up to two years in prison in France for fraudulent access to a computer system. The arrest followed a joint operation between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the French police, according to French state prosecutor Jean-Yves Coquillat.

    • Law Enforcement Appliance Subverts SSL

      That little lock on your browser window indicating you are communicating securely with your bank or e-mail account may not always mean what you think its means.

      Normally when a user visits a secure website, such as Bank of America, Gmail, PayPal or eBay, the browser examines the website’s certificate to verify its authenticity.

    • New Research Suggests That Governments May Fake SSL Certificates

      Today two computer security researchers, Christopher Soghoian and Sid Stamm, released a draft of a forthcoming research paper in which they present evidence that certificate authorities (CAs) may be cooperating with government agencies to help them spy undetected on “secure” encrypted communications. (EFF sometimes advises Soghoian on responsible disclosure issues, including for this paper.) More details and reporting are available at Wired today. The draft paper includes marketing materials from Packet Forensics, an Arizona company, which suggests that government “users have the ability to import a copy of any legitimate keys they obtain (potentially by court order)” into Packet Forensics products in order to impersonate sites and trick users into “a false sense of security afforded by web, e-mail, or VoIP encryption”. This would allow those governments to routinely bypass encryption without breaking it.

    • School governor needs our help!

      Ive been contacted by a school governor who doesn’t want to see their school bounced into fingerprinting the kids, and wonders what to do. They’ve prepared this draft briefing for a governor’s meeting this weekend. Looks pretty damn good to me. Is it right? Anything to add?

    • Catherine Bleish: Understanding the Mechanics of the Police State

      Instead of shutting down as pointless, fusion centers gradually began expanding into sharing information about all crimes. Fusion center activity over the years has also raised concerns about government surveillance of legally protected political activity.

    • TSA may install devices at airports to detect and track personal gadgets

      The Transportation Security Administration is said to be considering installing bluetooth sensors at US airports to sniff out personal electronic equipment and track its movement—and by extension, the movement of the human carrying it. USA Today reports that “the aim is to track how long people are stuck in security lines,” and that wait time data could then be posted on websites and inside airports.

    • FBI cyber cop says ‘very existence’ of US under threat

      Cyber attacks threaten the “very existence” of the US, according to a top FBI official charged with worrying about such things.

    • Reporter exposes new security flaw at Schiphol

      A Dutch investigative reporter has demonstrated that it is possible to carry potentially explosive liquids through security at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport and onto a transatlantic flight.

    • Broken Records: 100,000 hospital administrators, porters and IT staff able to access confidential medical records

      New research conducted by Big Brother Watch reveals that there are at least 100,000 non-medical personnel in NHS Trusts across the country with access to confidential medical records

  • Environment

    • Fishy business

      AS OLD hands tell it, protecting a threatened species used to be a relatively straightforward affair at the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Government officials would turn up at the triennial meetings and, after listening to advice from scientists, conservationists and their own environment ministries, were likely to agree to a “listing”.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • How Miracle Whip, Plenty of Fish Tapped Lady Gaga’s ‘Telephone’

      Online, music-video site Vevo bought a slot on the YouTube home page that referred users to the “Telephone” page on Vevo.com, which crashed the morning of the clip’s premiere. The video broke all Vevo single-day traffic records and had already generated close to 4 million views on YouTube in less than 24 hours.

    • Getting Off the Bottle

      Corporate Accountability International (CAI) surveyed five states (Minnesota, Maryland, Colorado, New Mexico and Oregon) and found that taxpayers in those states are shelling out between $78,000 and $475,000 a year for government to buy bottled water, a resource that essentially flows free from public taps.

      [...]

      As people become more aware of the uneccessary expense and environmental problems caused by bottled water, companies like Nestlé are fighting back with campaigns portraying bottled water as “Earth-friendly”, and touting the company’s “environmental stewardship.”

    • DNC Co-Opting Conservatives’ “Hands off My Health Care” Slogan

      The Democratic National Committee is launching a radio ad campaign co-opting the conservatives’ slogan “Hands off My Health Care!” The ads warn voters that the consumer protections conferred upon them in the newly-passed health care reform bill will be stripped away if they vote Republicans into office.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Facebook, Google Gear up for Privacy Fight in Europe

      European privacy regulators are looking more closely at whether the Facebook and YouTube practice of allowing users to post videos, photos or other information about others without their consent violates their privacy. The Associated Press reports:

      The Swiss and German probes go to the heart of a debate that has gained momentum in Europe amid high-profile privacy cases: To what extent are social networking platforms responsible for the content their members upload?

    • World’s top domain name service to stop offering Web addresses in China

      U.S.-based GoDaddy.com, the world’s largest domain name service, announced Wednesday it will no longer register new Web sites in China.

    • China, the Internet and Google: what I planned to say

      Today, the Congressional Executive China Commission conducted a hearing titled Google and Internet Control in China: A Nexus Between Human Rights and Trade? They had originally invited me to testify in a similarly titled hearing, “China, the Internet and Google,” which was postponed and rescheduled twice: the first attempt was foiled by the Great Snowcalypse; the second attempt scheduled for March 1st was postponed again at the last minute for some reason that isn’t entirely clear. Meanwhile I had already gone and written my testimony, improved by very helpful input from the CITP community. Unfortunately, when they rescheduled the hearing they said I was no longer invited. They wanted the hearing to have different witnesses from recent related hearings in both the House and Senate. Given that I appeared in both hearings it seems reasonable that they’d want to hear from some other people.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • OSI Opposes Barriers To Open Source Software For Television

      The Open Source Initiative Board has added OSI to the list of organizations asking that the BBC not be allowed to add digital restriction measures to digital broadcasts in the United Kingdom. The BBC’s request to do so is being reviewed by the UK regulator, OfCOM, and OSI is supporting the position statement from the UK’s Open Rights Group and encouraging others to do likewise.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • Cameron as Future Avatar of Film Industry

      For some months now, I’ve been touting “Avatar” as a good example of how the film industry should be concentrating on enhancing the experience of watching films *in the cinema* – something that no copied DVD can reproduce – thus making unauthorised copies pretty much into marketing devices that encourage people to go to the cinema for the full experience.

    • ACTA/Digital Economy Bill

      • Entertainment Industy letter to Obama on ACTA

        Just in case anyone does not appreciate how difficult it will be to change the USTR direction on ACTA, note that today the USTR proudly put this letter on the USTR Blog:

        http://www.ustr.gov/about-us/press-office/blog/2010/march/new-information-ustrgov/acta

        (Maybe best to first skip down to see who signed it).

      • USTR Wants People To Know That At Least Someone Likes ACTA

        But, really, it’s incredibly telling that the USTR is only willing to promote the letters it’s received in support of ACTA, isn’t it? Lots of people have been contacting the USTR with concerns about ACTA, and those don’t get highlighted on the website at all. It’s as if the USTR wants to make it clear that it works for the RIAA and the ITA, rather than the citizens of the country. It’s reached the point where it’s obvious that the USTR’s focus is not on creating a good trade agreement, but on the trade agreement that some lobbyists wanted. It seems obvious that the USTR is not interested in understanding the complaints, but only in getting ACTA finished.

      • ACTA Draft: No Internet for Copyright Scofflaws

        The United States is nudging the international community to develop protocols to suspend the internet connections of customers caught downloading copyrighted works, according to a leaked draft of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

      • Written Declaration 12/2010 signatories list
      • [Digital Economy Bill protests photo]
      • File-sharing and the War on the Internet

        Well, as I pointed out yesterday, the reason for this cognitive dissonance is that the Digital Economy Bill should really be called the *Analogue* Economy Bill: it seeks to preserve the old way of doing business in the world of music and films, where people bought CDs and DVDs – physical objects that cost money to make. Today, by contrast, the marginal cost of producing an MP3 file, say, is as near zero as to make no difference.

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