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04.26.10

Links 26/4/2010: Scientific Linux Reviewed; More Linux Tablets

Posted in News Roundup at 2:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • What SHOULD Linux be?

      Focus on Linux, not a Windows or OS X clone.

      I can certainly understand, in some instances, why the Linux community would want to borrow an idea from either Windows or OS X. Some of their ideas are quite good. Just like both Windows and OS X would borrow from Linux.

    • Windows Malware: The final straw that broke the penguin’s back

      So this weekend, I popped in a brand-new 500GB hard drive, and installed the Ubuntu Lucid Lynx 10.04 release candidate, and never looked back. I copied in all of my personal data from my Windows 7 drive and installed a fresh copy of Windows 7 in VirtualBox. My love affair with Windows as my primary operating system is over.

  • Ballnux

  • Audiocasts

  • Graphics Stack

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

      • Notifications in Kubuntu 10.04

        Kubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala has a nice notification system called Ayatana. The notification system of KDE is ugly in my opinion, so I like Ayatana very. It is very beautiful, and it is more beautiful if the desktop effects are enabled. Ayatana is a Canonical-community joint effort to discuss and promote improvements to the Ubuntu user interface. See this link for more information.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • More cool gnome-shell tips and tricks

        If you have been reading Ghacks within the last month, you know that I have become a big fan of what will eventually become GNOME 3. That replacement is currently under the title GNOME Shell and it is already quite a stunning piece of work. I have covered GNOME Shell in a few pieces here (Check out all the GNOME Shell content on Ghacks) and, after further usage, I thought it was a good time for a few more tips and tricks.

      • A Dozen GNOME Themes

        Now there are plenty of sites that have posted their top 10, top 16, top 25, even their top 50 themes for GNOME, but some how their lists always include the same designs over and over. The goal here is to look at some newer and/or forgotten themes, some interesting combinations fom preexisting themes, and some inclusions of original work to provide a reason to look at these themes.

  • Distributions

    • Mandrake/Mandriva Family

    • Red Hat Family

      • Gazing at Scientific Linux

        While the distribution isn’t eye-catching, it has a lot of good things going for it. In fact, I occasionally found myself thinking, I wish Fedora did this in this way. For example, I always wondered why Fedora didn’t adopt the Yumex package manager front-end. I like that Scientific comes with some multimedia support and Flash rather than making their users hunt down third-party repositories. Scientific’s approach to security, offering a custom live CD password and disabling network services out of the box, is commendable. Further, I like that my touchpad works the way I expect it to without editing a configuration file. The Scientific team offers a stable desktop with long-term support and does a good job of it. The only drawback, so far as I can see, is that some of their key components are getting out of date. Usually this isn’t a problem, except perhaps, when using software like OpenOffice.org and Firefox. Those projects which put out major releases once a year or more will appear dated. In conclusion, Scientific is a good desktop for people who prefer stability over riding the cutting edge.

      • Fedora

        • A peek into Fedora 13beta

          In previous releases, I’d used GIMP to edit all my digital photos (remove red-eye, etc.) Now, I’m switching to Shotwell. It’s that good.

        • Keeping up with everyone.

          Whenever these events happen, Ambassadors and Fedora community members can help promote our incredible community by posting about the events. Your blog, plus the Fedora Planet aggregator, are a fantastic way to spread the word about the event. Your interactions with attendees and free and open source software communities are one of the best ways to build interest and energy around free software.

    • Ubuntu

      • 10 Applications You Must Install On Ubuntu Lucid Lynx [Linux]

        Ubuntu no longer installs GIMP out of the box. They say the GIMP is aimed at intermediate to advanced users, and not everyone’s cup of tea. While that makes sense, I think it is too useful a software to not have on your computer.

      • Thoughts on Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.04

        Since about Christmas my primary machine for day-to-day computing has been an Acer Aspire One D250. Netbooks are not really designed to be full laptop replacements, but I decided to go netbook-only for a few reasons. So of course the first thing I wanted to do is replace the stock Windows 7 (I can’t believe they put that on netbooks) with Ubuntu Netbook Edition. Being a (mostly former) Ubuntu developer I decided to go with Lucid and see how the netbook was shaping up for the upcoming LTS release.

        I really like the UNE interface with netbook-launcher providing an easy to use launcher and maximus/window-picker-applet providing a great way to make the most of the limited screen real estate (1024×600). However, not everybody prefers this UI so one of the interesting new things in the 10.04 release is that you can choose between a normal GNOME UI and the UNE-customized UI at login.

      • Ubuntu 10.04 Review

        As many of you already know, Ubuntu 10.04 is slated to be released April 29th. So I figured I’d grab the release candidate, throw it onto my workstation, and give it a try. I know that there may be a few bugs and such, but usually by this point, anything major has been fixed.

      • Ubuntu Lucid Lynx 10.04 on Sony Vaio UX

        A female geek from Liliputer installed the latest Ubuntu 10.04 on her amazing Vaio UX180 UMPC. However, it is even more exiting to see most of the components working straight out-of-the-box.

      • Lucid Lynx paves way for Ubuntu shake-up

        Canonical has published the release candidate for Ubuntu 10.04 — codenamed Lucid Lynx — which adds consumer-friendly features, better integration with cloud infrastructure, and a new look.

        The release of the finalised version on Thursday came two weeks after the beta version was made available for public testing. The operating system update is now more or less complete, Canonical said.

      • Pleasant Surprises with Ubuntu Lucid Lynx Release Candidate

        No sooner did I get that one finished, than my friend who has an original Asus Eee PC 701 came by and said she didn’t need it any more. I was so pleased with my success on the 2133 that I decided to give the latest UNR a shot on that as well. It couldn’t have been easier – boot the Live USB thumb driver, run through the load procedure, and it’s working like a charm. I know there are Eee-oriented distributions available, but for simplicity and compatibility with Ubuntu/UNR on other systems, this is just great. Once again, everything works – wireless networking, audio, camera, all no problems.

      • Ubuntu 10.04: A Final Look At What to Expect

        Last but certainly not least, Lucid introduces a brand new theme to Ubuntu, which has retired the storied earthtones of its past. In addition to the new color scheme, many icons have been updated, and the selection of wallpapers available in Appearances utility has been expanded (you can still, of course, set any image as wallpaper).

      • Ubuntu: Does Freedom Matter?

        While I’d like to say I switched to Linux because I cared deeply about software freedom, the truth is that I had no idea what open-source meant–or what exactly source code was, for that matter–when I booted my first live CD. Instead, I installed Linux (first Mandriva, then Fedora, now Ubuntu) because I was a college student with a very negative income, and I was tired of paying for software. So I admit it: I gave Linux a try only because I’m a cheapskate.

      • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 190
  • Devices/Embedded

    • Nook Software Update: The Good, The Subpar

      Browser, With a Catch: The Nook now has a basic Web browser, in beta, which should at least allow people to read some daily news and blogs. But as one commenter on Engadget noted, it’s Wi-Fi only. Also, I’d like to see either the Kindle or the Nook treat Web browsing with respect and offer something robust, as we’ve seen in Spring Design’s Alex.

    • Android

      • Nexus One May Launch In UK Next Week

        More than 15 weeks after the Nexus One launched in the US, it looks like our friends in the UK may finally get an opportunity to buy the Android smartphone. Late yesterday, a “coming soon” page set up by Vodafone briefly changed to describe the release window as April.

      • Android-based nav phone’s U.S.-bound

        T-Mobile and Garmin-Asus announced a navigation-oriented smartphone that will run Android and include multi-touch capabilities. The “Garminfone” includes a 600MHz Qualcomm processor, 4GB of flash storage, a three megapixel camera, and GPS capabilities that work with or without cellular connectivity, according to the companies.

      • Payment terminal accepts NFC mobile-phone payments

        Vivotech announced a Linux-based mobile payments device that incorporates Near Field Communication (NFC) wireless technology. The ARM9-based, PCI 2.1-certified “Vivopay 8100″ offers a traditional pinpad and mag-stripe reader, but also supports contactless payments via NFC-enabled mobile phones, with features such as coupon redemption and discount vouchers.

      • Five reasons iPhone vs Android isn’t Mac vs Windows

        Last week I presented at Stanford Graduate School of Business in a session on Mobile Computing called, “Creating Mobile Experiences: It’s the Platform, Stupid.”

      • Monitoring sensors in the background
      • Android 2.2 (Froyo) features

        It sounds like a beta version of Android 2.2 (Froyo) is out in the wild for testing — and it has some interesting features that I’m sure Android users will find interesting. The new version of the operating system will be available on the Nexus One, and quite possibly Verizon phones in late May — my guess will be on the same day as Google I/O (May 19).

    • Sub-notebooks

    • Tablets

      • Can this tri-boot US$264 slate tablet kill the iPad?

        But wait, what’s this? A 7-inch slate tablet which boots all three operating systems with a ridiculously low US$264 price tag? That is precisely what the SmartQ V7 offers. Granted its plastic body is a far cry from being seductive, this machine comes with USB connectivity and, get this, 1080p video support and HDMI output. It’s even lighter than Apple’s device. A poor man’s iPad, or a virgin device for the tech nerd to mod and defile? At this price, it can be both.

      • ASUS

        • Asus announces Eee Pad tablet

          The firm that popularised netbooks will be peddling the Eee Pad, a tablet that will run Google’s Android operating system. The device reportedly will have cutting edge features missing on Apple’s Ipad, such as USB ports, an integrated webcam and even support for Adobe’s Flash.

        • ASUS is working on an Eee Pad

          According to DigiTimes, the Eee Pad will be available in the shops from late June and will be priced at around $500. ASUS says it will produce 300,000 of these devices in 2010. In contrast to Apple’s iPad, the Eee Pad will include USB ports, a camera and Adobe’s Flash Player. The latter is currently in a restricted beta phase.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Databases

    • O’Reilly MySQL Conference Awards 2010

      The O’Reilly MySQL Conference & Expo 2010 is over. I hope all of you had a good time. I have plenty of blog posts and thoughts lined up about this, but first, I’d like to point out something that has become a tradition, that was continued in 2010: the O’Reilly MySQL Conference Community Award Winners.

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Why Making Money from Free Software Matters

      Free software began as a political movement: its central aim was – and remains – the propagation of freedom. Later, it became a development methodology too, largely at the hands of Linus, whose geographical isolation in Finland forced him to develop ways of using the Internet to coordinate a new kind of massive, but decentralised, global collaboration. Later still, free software also became a way of making serious money – something that Stallman has repeatedly said he is quite happy with, contrary to much FUD claiming otherwise.

  • Licensing

    • Either it’s free or it’s not

      Even small clauses, like those famous no-military-use restrictions, grate me like sand in my mouth. Extending your restriction downstream through other users and developers is an attempt to control the people who might otherwise find it useful.

  • Openness

    • Mr. Fixit Goes Open Source With DIY Repair Site

      Previously, iFixit was a repair site that posted step-by-step disassembly instructions for gadgets posted by iFixit staff. The company makes money by selling parts (like replacement iPhone screens) that intrepid fixers can use in their repair projects. Later, iFixit implemented a gallery tool for anybody to post an illustrative teardown manual for their gadgets (which Gadget Lab helped introduce with a Sony teardown contest).

      Now, the site has repurposed itself into a full-blown wiki for repair manuals, where contributors can collaborate on repair instructions in real time. For each product, iFixit contributors can create individual manuals with instructions for specific repairs (e.g., a manual for fixing the Wi-Fi module in a MacBook, or a manual for replacing a battery in a Samsung cellphone). All the manuals on iFixit will be free and noncopyrighted.

  • Programming

    • Andy Wingo: recent developments in Guile

      I watched a talk by Andy Wingo recently: recent developments in Guile. GNU Guile is a Scheme implementation, and a library providing an extension language for applications. Guile is actively developed, and promises some exciting stuff in upcoming releases, which is why I took these notes and publish them here–read on.

      Andy starts by noting that Guile is different things to different people:

      * A GNU language, with bindings for many components of the GNU system and under LGPL 3.

    • State and the Syntax of Encapsulation

      More and more I realize that good software design minimizes the amount of things you have to care about at any one time. Well-designed programs take advantage of abstraction possibilities of languages and libraries to model the problem and its solution in the most effective way. Well-designed languages minimize the syntactic concerns necessary to produce those abstractions.

    • Cross Compiling Options

Leftovers

  • Lib Dems soar in UK polls after debate

    Many U.S. voters were outraged in the 2000 presidential election when Bush Jr. won despite losing the popular vote. But Britain’s electoral map is even weirder. After a spectacular TV debate performance by the leader of the Liberal Democrats–traditional also-rans in UK general elections–the three main parties are nearly tied in polling.

  • Super-rich become wealthier again, Sunday Times says

    The UK’s super-rich have seen a resurgence in their fortunes, the Sunday Times Rich List suggests.

  • Remembering Fascism: Learning From the Past

    The article opened with the words: “Austria falls, Czechoslovakia falls, and now Barcelona falls” – and Spain with it, a few months later. The words have always stayed in my mind, along with the dread, the sense of the dark clouds of fascism gathering over Germany and then Europe and perhaps beyond, a growing force of unimaginable horror.

  • Science

    • Quantum broadband becomes reality

      The first high-speed network link that is so secure it is theoretically unbreakable has been created, thanks to quantum physics.

      A team at Toshiba Research Europe in Cambridge, UK, has sent encrypted data at over 1 megabit per second along 50 kilometres of optical fibre. That’s fast enough to stream video.

    • Hawking thinks space aliens might be trouble

      British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking lectured in the United States on April 21, 2010, and commented on the existence of intelligent extraterrestrial life. He thinks such aliens are fairly rare but probably out there. But, they might be a threat to Earthlings.

    • Astroboffin says ‘black holes murder galaxies’

      About 25,000 light years from earth, nestled in the center of our galaxy, lurks a supermassive black hole. Luckily for us, our galaxy’s matter-sucking hub is far less active than those at the core of many other galaxies.

  • Security/Aggression

  • Environment

    • The Business of Adaptation

      Just as a for instance, check out these two pieces on designing waterfront areas in response to foreseeable sea-level rise: “Environmental Restoration in the Age of Climate Change” and “How to Prepare Ports and Waterfronts for Climate Change.” While uncertainties about sea level and climate impacts abound, we do know enough to start practicing precaution. The same is true for everything from forestry to energy to transportation: we have the capacity to start thinking through, and preparing to adapt to, the realities of a climate-changed world.

    • Save whales, not whaling

      A proposal to keep the dying whaling industries on life support has just been unveiled by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) — instead of a concrete plan to safeguard whales.

  • Finance

    • Bush Still Gets More Blame for Economy Than Obama

      Of the three party groups, only Republicans say Obama bears more blame than Bush

    • IG’s Report: SEC Staff Accessed Porn on Government PCs

      A Securities and Exchange Commission Inspector General’s report released Thursday reveals several “senior staffers” have used government computers to access and download pornography in the past three years. Compiled at the request of Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the report summarizes investigations into the activity of 33 different employees.

    • SEC staffers watched porn as economy crashed
    • In revealed e-mails, Goldman chief says we ‘made more than we lost’ by betting against market

      Goldman Sachs’ top executives were aware that the company made money by playing against the US housing market, according to internal e-mails released Saturday.

      The bank’s chief executive Lloyd Blankfein wrote in November 2007 that the firm “didn’t dodge the mortgage mess,” but “made more than we lost” by betting against the housing market, the Associated Press reported.

    • Housing Crisis Getting Uglier in 2010

      The housing report card is ugly. In the past two years, the housing market has lost an estimated $4.9 trillion dollars, as 59 million homes have declined in value.

      Nearly 1 in 4 homeowners — 10.7 million households nationwide — are underwater on their mortgages. They owe more than their home is now worth.

    • Major Banks Still Grappling With Foreclosures

      A year ago this week, the financial crisis sent the stock market off a cliff. At the heart of troubles was a plague of bad home loans. Millions of people couldn’t pay their mortgages, and banks were losing billions of dollars.

      The foreclosure mess hasn’t improved. The numbers keep getting worse, with foreclosures at record highs and rising, despite a major effort by the Obama administration to prevent them.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • DOJ abandons warrantless attempt to read Yahoo e-mail

      The U.S. Justice Department has abruptly abandoned what had become a high-profile court fight to read Yahoo users’ e-mail messages without obtaining a search warrant first.

      In a two-page brief filed Friday, the Obama administration withdrew its request for warrantless access to the complete contents of the Yahoo Mail accounts under investigation. CNET was the first to report on the Denver case in an article on Tuesday.

    • Peeking Into Users’ Web History

      Personalization is a key part of Internet search, providing more relevant results and gaining loyal customers in the process. But new research highlights the privacy risks that this kind of personalization can bring. A team of European researchers, working with a researcher from the University of California, Irvine, found that they were able to hijack Google’s personalized search suggestions to reconstruct users’ Web search histories.

    • LoL, BTW … My Boss Is Monitoring Every Text That I Send, ;)

      The Supreme Court on Monday leaps into the high-tech world of text messaging in a challenge with potentially huge implications for the privacy rights of senders and receivers and for workplace communications.

    • Supreme Court overturns anti-animal cruelty law in First Amendment case

      The Supreme Court on Tuesday forcefully struck down a federal law aimed at banning depictions of dog fighting and other violence against animals, saying it violated constitutional guarantees of free speech and created a “criminal prohibition of alarming breadth.”

      The 8 to 1 ruling, written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., was a ringing endorsement of the First Amendment’s protection of even distasteful expression. Roberts called “startling and dangerous” the government’s argument that the value of certain categories of speech should be weighed against their societal costs when protecting free speech.

    • Legislative Branch Responds After Supremes’ Animal Ruling

      Clinton, observing First Amendment concerns that it swept too broadly, directed the Justice Department to limit prosecution to videos depicting “wanton cruelty to animals designed to appeal to a prurient interest in sex.” But in 2004 federal prosecutors went after dog-fighting movies instead.

    • First Amendment left intact

      Refusing to remove another form of expression from the protection of the First Amendment, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled 8-1 that the government lacks the power to outlaw expressions of animal cruelty, when that is done in videotapes and other commercial media. The Court noted that it had previously withdrawn “a few historic categories” of speech from the First Amendment’s shield, but concluded that “depictions of animal cruelty should not be added to the list.” The decision nullified a 1999 federal law passed by Congress in an attempt to curb animal cruelty by forbidding its depiction. That law, the Court said, sweeps too broadly.

    • Rogue admin waits for verdict

      San Francisco’s rogue sysadmin Terry Childs, who refused to reveal passwords when he was sacked, could learn his fate later today.

    • Google Tool Reveals Government Hunger For Data

      In a move toward greater transparency, Google on Tuesday introduced a new tool that shows the number of requests for data and for data removal that Google has received from governments around the world.

      Google’s Government Requests tool does not provide detail about the nature of the requests and it is updated only every six months. Nonetheless, it represents an unprecedented degree of disclosure.

    • Google Street View logs WiFi networks, Mac addresses

      Google’s roving Street View spycam may blur your face, but it’s got your number. The Street View service is under fire in Germany for scanning private WLAN networks, and recording users’ unique Mac (Media Access Control) addresses, as the car trundles along.

    • Hitler parody videos latest copyright fight
    • Russia bans texts by Scientology founder

      Russian prosecutors said Wednesday that dozens of texts and recordings by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard had been ruled “extremist” and would be banned in Russia.

    • Why I, Like, Really Dislike Facebook’s ‘Like’ Button

      In case you missed it: Facebook has just introduced a button that lets you tell the world the things you like, even when you’re not on Facebook. Visit CNN or Mashable or Technologizer, click the “Like” button, and that information is posted to your Facebook page. (Though CNN’s button is still labeled “Recommend” — maybe they didn’t get the memo.) Meanwhile, if your Facebook friends also like what you like, you can find that out too, again without ever visiting Facebook.

    • Facebook Accounts Hacked, Sold
    • Google highlights fair use defense to YouTube takedowns

      Click the button, and your video goes straight back up (and the people who sent the original takedown have to go to court to get it taken offline again).

    • How many governments are blocking Google?

      Search giant admits that 25 governments are now censoring Google content

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Google’s Insane Number of Servers Visualized
    • Major labels go bragh? Irish judge allows 3 strikes

      The Irish High Court ruled on April 16 that cutting off the Internet access of suspected P2P pirates was fine, that no data privacy rules would be breached by doing so, and that such schemes are needed because “the mischievous side of the human personality, containing a repulsive aspect as well as an attractive and humorous one, has also come to the fore over the Internet.”

    • Can You Survive a Benevolent Dictatorship?

      But DRM isn’t just a system for restricting copies. DRM enjoys an extraordinary legal privilege previously unseen in copyright law: the simple act of breaking DRM is illegal, even if you’re not violating anyone’s copyright. In other words, if you jailbreak your iPad for the purpose of running a perfectly legal app from someone other than Apple, you’re still breaking the law. Even if you’ve never pirated a single app, nor violated a single copyright, if you’re found guilty of removing an “effective means of access control,” Apple can sue you into a smoking hole. That means that no one can truly compete with Apple to offer better iStores, or apps, with better terms that are more publisher- and reader-friendly. Needless to say, it is also against the law to distribute tools for the purpose of breaking DRM.

    • Ubisoft DRM – Busted! – Has an Amiga group saved gamers?

      For those that still play games on the Windows platform, there were many who voiced criticism about the DRM which Ubisoft employed. It required a persistent net connection in order for the game to perform checks at certain intervals to ensure that the copy was genuine.

      The DRM in question is from the game Assassins Creed 2 which in a recent interview, Ubisoft were asked what would happen if the servers facilitating the copy protection were taken down. The answer was that a patch could be released to enable the game to play without net access.

  • Copyrights

    • When Copyright Goes Bad – documentary

      Ben Cato Clough and Luke Upchurch’s “When Copyright Goes Bad” (from Consumers International) is a great, 15-minute mini-documentary on what copyright can do, what it is doing, and what it needs to stop doing. Appearances by Fred Von Lohmann – Electronic Frontier Foundation; Michael Geist – University of Ottawa Law School; Jim Killock – Open Rights Group; and Hank Shocklee – Co-founder of Public Enemy.

    • Shaping IP Laws by Not-So-Gentle Persuasion: The Special 301 Report

      At the end of this month the United States Trade Representative’s Office will release its annual Special 301 report, a review of global intellectual property protection and enforcement standards conducted by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). Since 1989, the USTR has used the Special 301 Report to intimidate other countries into adopting more stringent copyright and patent laws by singling out particular countries for their “bad” intellectual property policies, naming them on a tiered set of “watch lists,” resulting in heightened political pressure and in some cases, the potential for trade sanctions, to encourage changes to their laws.

    • Foreign Submissions To The Canadian Copyright Consultation – Richard Owens Is Right, We Should Weed Them Out

      Then he claimed that many of the submissions were not even made by Canadians. This is a serious issue. Extremely serious. I decided to go back to the database, and look at some of the submissions, to see if they were filed by persons or organizations with close foreign connections.

      The first one I checked for was SOCAN (Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada), and yes, they filed a submission. Unfortunately SOCAN has members who are not Canadian, one example being Sony Music.

      Then of course there’s the Canadian Publishers Council, which also filed a submission, and which has a lot of foreign members.

Clip of the Day

NASA Connect – PW – Icy Research (1/10/1998)


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    Despite strong evidence that Microsoft has been complicit in illegal surveillance, Gartner continues to recommend the use of Windows and other espionage-ready Microsoft software


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