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Links 19/4/2010: Synaptics Gesture Suite on Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 6:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Freedom and Informed Choice

    It’s an old debate among Linux enthusiasts, but new to me. Not because I haven’t heard it before, but because I haven’t really experienced it until now. There’s a lot of talk in the Linux and free open-source software (FOSS) communities about freedom and choice. It’s practically a mantra for many. Most of us non-geeky ordinary desktop users are simply grateful to have an alternative to Windows that doesn’t require a huge investment in new hardware and expensive software licenses. To us ordinary desktop users, “freedom” and “choice” in Linux and FOSS mean that we are no longer stuck with unsatisfactory and expensive Microsoft (or Apple, I suppose, as well) products.

    But my “inner geek” apparently spent his vacation time mulling over a fuller meaning of Linux/FOSS “freedom” and “choice.” When he returned yesterday, he arrived with a Debian Linux installation CD and gave me a stirring speech about it. Most desktop users don’t concern themselves with things that they think have nothing to do with them. But I do, because I’m a wonderful, exceptional person.

  • Applications

  • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

    • Delicious Transblurency [1]

      The ‘focus‘ word has many meanings, ranging from the optical concept of ‘good convergence of light rays generated by an object’ to the cognitive process of directing the attention to a particular target while ignoring other targets.
      Now the interesting part: this concept can be used in computers too, especially in user interfaces, to direct the user to relevant information or to help him through a step-by-step process. How to do that? Since every image you see on screen is ‘on focus’ by default, you can easily unfocus unuseful information.

  • Distributions

    • Nothing to scoff at: Arch Linux, 300Mhz Celeron

      Arch Linux makes it acceptably light and fast, and with the addition of a very lightweight desktop, it’s a working-class computer. As you can see I added the old ath5k-based PCMCIA wireless card, which gives it decent download speeds, and the entire graphical desktop, plus nfs and ssh can all run in under 30Mb of memory with a little swap used. Triggering rtorrent and screen-vs over ssh takes care of the actual “work,” and all the rest is cake.

    • A pleasant surprise: VortexBox

      As a test for my new torrent slave, I downloaded an ISO of VortexBox, which is something I hadn’t ever heard of, probably because I don’t travel in Fedora circles very much. I had no rationale for grabbing that torrent; it just happened to be at the top of the stack at linuxtracker.org.

    • Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Welcome PCLinuxOS 2010

        Good news for all who are looking for a Mature “Just-Works” Desktop. PCLinuxOS 2010 bandwagon is released. This time Tex and the Gang has offered 6 releases: Main KDE Desktop, KDE MiniMe Desktop, Gnome Desktop, Gnome ZenMini Desktop, LXDE Desktop, XFCE Desktop and Openbox Desktop.

    • Fedora

      • Fedora On The OLPC At LFNW 2010

        While we were trying to find a few good activities to show off the collaborative capabilities of the OLPC, we found out that the wifi connection was no longer working on it. So we decided to go ahead and use our developer key and try out some of the newer OS versions for the OLPC.

        We now have Sugar 0.84.14 and build version 13 running on it. Some things that we found out about this version is that it is running Fedora in a switchable desktop from Sugar to Fedora we have taken some pictures..

      • New storage options for Anaconda on Fedora 13

        Fedora 13 Beta has just been released for testing and bug reporting, with the stable version slated for release in May. Thanks to boot.fedoraproject.org, I didn’t have to download the full CD iso image. Used the same bfo iso image from last month and took the Fedora 13 beta out for spin. But rather than dish out a full review of this beta release (I only review stable releases), I’m using this article to showcase a new storage feature of Anaconda. A storage capability that is not available on any other non-enterprise Linux distribution.

    • Debian Family

      • A Slimline Debian Install: It’s Easier Than You Might Think

        There are some superb desktop Linux distributions that are designed to work with very old hardware. For example, Puppy Linux is a great choice to quickly turn an old PC into a secure, easy to use word processing, email and light web browsing workstation. Puppy can work minor miracles on very old hardware, and I carry a Puppy boot CD-ROM around with me as my emergency recovery system.

      • The Debian Democracy

        Do you consider yourself to be fairly familiar with the Debian Linux distribution? I thought I was familiar with it enough to know its origin and history, how its name was derived and that Richard Stallman, the Father of the Free Software movement, uses a Debian derivative (gNewSense) for his own personal computer. There’s one significant piece of the Debian puzzle that I didn’t know about: Its Constitution.

      • Ubuntu

        • UbuntuOne Music Store: How a music service should be

          One of my biggest complains about Apple is iTunes. Don’t get me wrong, I like Apple. They offer fantastic (albeit overpriced) hardware, a solid operating system, and a killer aesthetic. But as for iTunes – you won’t find much love in this heart for that powerhouse music mecca. What you will find is contempt. I don’t think I need to go off on the why I loathe iTunes. Why? Because everything the UbuntuOne Music Store is is what iTunes is not.

        • Where is Ubuntu going to ?

          Ubuntu, undeniably, is in a great moment, one can say that it has achieved enough traction to trail its own way. When I first had contact with Ubuntu, and it was in the times of 6.06 and 6.10, Ubuntu seemed a better Knoppix than Knoppix . The Distro was very promising, showing signs that it would bring Linux, until then, an arcane magic of geeks and nerds, for the average user.

        • The Ubuntu Software Center- An under utilized asset?

          The USC as it is in Lucid is really great. Well polished, nicely categorized and above all easy to navigate. However, don’t you think there is still one thing missing? Look up an application and it comes up with brief descriptions of what it does. Then you have a place there that tells you the price (in all cases that I have seen, FREE).

        • First Contact Review: Ubuntu 10.04 Beta2

          I recently downloaded Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Linx Beta2 for testing. I love what I am seeing, so I want to share some of my initial impressions on what seems to be a release that could mark a milestone in Ubuntu’s history.


          I definitely recommend installing and using Ubuntu 10.04 once it is released, you will be pleasantly surprised!

        • Ubuntu: How to Measure Canonical’s Business Progress

          On the one hand, I want to give Canonical credit: 12 million estimated users is a big figure. And it provides a foundation upon which Canonical can promote additional services — Landscape, Ubuntu One, Ubuntu Music Store, etc. — to consumers and business users.

          But just how well is Canonical doing? In March 2010, new Canonical CEO Jane Silber said the company had about 320 empl0yees and was on a path to profitability. But she conceded the company wasn’t yet profitable.

          As a privately held software company, Canonical certainly doesn’t have to say much about its financial performance. But frankly, I think Canonical can share a bit more information without having to completely open its books.

        • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 189

          In this issue we cover: Archive frozen for preparation of Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, Ubuntu Open Week, New Loco Council Members Announced, New operators appointed on #ubuntu, #ubuntu-offtopic and #kubuntu, Reminder: Regional Membership Boards – Restaffing, 1st Annual Ubuntu Women World Play Day Competition Announced, New Ubuntu Member, Lucid Parties, Hungarian Loco Team shares Release Party Badges, Lucid Release parties in Norway, Ubuntu-ni presentation at American College, Ubuntu Honduras Visited UNAH-VS, Minor Team Reporting Change, Feature Friday: project announcements, Links round-up 16th April, Facebook app for Lucid countdown banners, Free Software and Linux Days 2010 in Istanbul, Quickly 4.0 available in Lucid!, Out of beta: 40 Ubuntu-based TurnKey virtual appliances, Full Circle Podcast #4: It’s Everyone Else’s Fault, Ubuntu-UK podcast: Hear Em Rave and much, much more!

        • Variants

          • Returning to Linux, Round 2…Mint

            I always likes the ideas within Mint…make a good package better by adding little features and taking out what isn’t necessary. I remembered from the day that everything just worked. Websites played flash, video on DVD would play with audio, documents opened without too much effort or downloading extras. So what else is here that most people would like to know about?

          • A minty experience leaves a pleasant taste.

            Their computer was then taken over by a botnet and started spewing spam left, right and center. Which I found out about a month or so later.


            Knowing what sort of computer user type this person is I decided to make sure I chose the right distribution for them. After careful thought and a bit of google trolling (in the searching sense of the word) I decided to give Linux Mint a go. So I backed up their computer and settled down to install Mint.


            This is the latest story on how a “typical” computer user made a seamless transition from windows to Linux. Do you have any such stories? What about the other way around? :) While I had no problems transitioning this person doesn’t mean that there are none. What issues have you come up with when introducing people to Linux?

  • Devices/Embedded

    • The User’s Manifesto: in defense of hacking, modding, and jailbreaking

      These questions are natural, because a few years ago they wouldn’t even be possible. What reason would you have for breaking open an first-generation iPod, or hacking an original Playstation? The question of “unauthorized software” on System 9 and Windows XP was plainly moot. But as the capabilities of the PC, console, and phone have expanded, so have their magisteria. And as their power grew, so did their chains. These chains were so light before that we didn’t notice them, but now that they are not only visible but are beginning to truly encumber our devices, we must consider whether we are right to throw them off. The answer, to me at least, seems obvious: no company or person has the right to tell you that you may not do what you like with your own property.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Digg Digs Open Source

    In what is becoming the rule rather than the exception, Digg is the latest social media player to “come out of the closet” and not only acknowledge that it is built on open source components, but they have contributed to and host several open source projects. Like Facebook and Twitter, Digg loves open source.

  • Open Source segment on PBS Newshour

    They spend some time talking about the open source model and a few FLOSS-geeks from Washington, DC (maco and myself included) are featured near the end of the segment. There is also a nice shot of the KDE website featuring KDE 4.4.

  • Mozilla

    • Firefox 3.6.4 Beta Released

      Firefox 3.6.4 has been in the talks lately because of the intention of the Mozilla developers to add out-of-process plugins to that version of the web browser which basically means that popular plugins run in their own process instead of the main browser process. This is beneficial in case of a plugin crash as it will only take down its own process and not the whole web browser.

    • Firefox 3.6 Release Notes
  • Oracle

    • 9 More OpenOffice Extensions

      Moving all of your apps and information in the cloud has been adopted by a great number of people. However, there are also a large number who still prefer having a desktop application.

  • Programming


  • random dvd roundup
  • HelenOS – the operating system that launched a thousand processes

    What’s so interesting about HelenOS that we can’t get from Linux, BSD or MINIX? Having played with HelenOS for a while, I have two answers:

    1. HelenOS is still in a fairly early stage of development. It’s young compared to the other operating systems I mentioned. It’s small, clean and has several papers written on it. This makes the HelenOS project a great way for students to jump in and learn about OS design with a minimum of overhead. It’s light, highly portable and doesn’t have any spare parts left over from a previous decade.

    2. For the same reason people build model cars – the fun of it. Some people stargaze, some collect stamps and some write kernel code. It doesn’t need to be practical to have a purpose. Though, given time, HelenOS may become practical too.

  • Environment

  • Finance

    • Our Pecora Moment

      Pecora exposed the ways in which leading banks mistreated their customers – typically, retail investors. The SEC alleges, with credible detail, that Goldman essentially set up some trusting clients and deliberately misled them – to the tune of effectively transferring $1 billion from them to a particular unscrupulous investor.

    • What’s Wrong with the Financial Reform Bill

      There is some good stuff in the bill, but it is riddled with loopholes. Far more important than the actual bill is the effort to actually enforce existing laws. While it is true that the near-complete absence of a regulatory structure to oversee derivatives trading is problematic, there is a lot the government could have done still, if it had wanted to, to prevent catastrophes like AIG and Lehman Brothers. The decision to take a whack at Goldman for this Paulson business is therefore the best news there’s been on this front…

    • Now we know the truth. The financial meltdown wasn’t a mistake – it was a con

      Hiding behind the complexities of our financial system, banks and other institutions are being accused of fraud and deception, with Goldman Sachs just the latest in the spotlight. This has become the most pressing election issue of all

      The global financial crisis, it is now clear, was caused not just by the bankers’ colossal mismanagement. No, it was due also to the new financial complexity offering up the opportunity for widespread, systemic fraud.

    • Larry’s Corner: Goldman Sachs Knew What They Were Doing

      This is a statement made by GS in their recent Annual Report filed with the SEC and is – BS from GS. As with many of their public statements, they deny any wrongdoing, knowledge or participation. This is the same position they are taking now after the SEC announcement. Not surprising and expected. But the reality is – as I have been saying for almost three years now – THEY KNEW. And knowing makes their crimes premeditated and intentional. Not only criminally wrong but morally wrong as well.

    • Goldman Sachs: A Pattern of Organized Criminal Behaviour?

      My concern is that the American people even now do not understand how serious this crisis is. They are quickly distracted into ridiculous partisan spirit and frivolous diversions. This is the freedom and the welfare of their country that is at risk, and it is time to put aside childish things, and begin the serious work of reforming their financial system, the ownership of their media, and the political campaign process.

    • Hedge funds started by former Goldman Sachs executives
    • Goldman Faces Image Crisis Ahead of Quarterly Results
  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Controversial content and free expression on the web: a refresher

      Two and a half years ago, we outlined our approach to removing content from Google products and services. Our process hasn’t changed since then, but our recent decision to stop censoring search on Google.cn has raised new questions about when we remove content, and how we respond to censorship demands by governments. So we figured it was time for a refresher.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Down the EU Piracy Rabbit-hole

      At 68 pages, the report [.pdf] is quite long, and very professionally produced. It is stuffed full of tables designed to bolster its case. In calculating the claimed loss from piracy, a fairly simple approach is adopted. The number of copyright infringements are multiplied by the substitution rate (the percentage of people who would have bought stuff if they had not downloaded it for free) times the unit retail price. This is calculated for the top 5 economies in Europe, and scaled up proportionally to include all the other EU economies. The claimed job losses caused by that revenue lost is obtained by dividing the latter by an average sales revenue per employee.


      In other words, the IFPI is the global equivalent of the British BPI and French SNEP: another industry organisation, whose job is to push its particular interests. Indeed, for some countries in the “Building a Digital Economy” report – such as Italy and Spain – the IFPI is cited directly as the source of the figures for the alleged number of copyright infringements. The only major country that seems to draw on an independent source is Germany, where “GfK” is cited. This is the market research company GfK Group, but I was unable to find anything on their website regarding piracy figures, so there was no way to examine their underlying assumptions or reliability.


      We can hardly blame politicians for being fooled by such impressive-looking documents. It is only when you dig down through the Appendices at the back, and start hunting out the actual references given for the claimed figures in multiple national markets that it becomes clear the entirely spurious nature of those shocking headline claims. Given that the Digital Economy Bill passed in part because of this kind of misinformation, we can only hope that the politicians who were deceived by plausible-sounding industry lobbyists will reconsider their position in the new Parliament and repeal the most egregious clauses of this deeply-flawed Act.

    • Will Europe let dogmatists write the future of copyright?

      The draft Gallo report on “Enforcement of intellectual property rights in the internal market” contains the entertainment industry’s wishlist for the future of copyright policy: extra-judicial sanctions turning internet service providers into a private copyright police, harsher criminal sanctions paving the way for the revival of the IPRED2 directive, etc. These proposals are very similar to the provisions found in leaked ACTA drafts.

Clip of the Day

SourceCode Season 3 – Episode 8: Sustainability and Alternatives (2006)

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