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05.01.10

Links 1/5/2010: Fedora Kiosk Spin, Many New Sugar-based XOs

Posted in News Roundup at 1:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Look What Happens When There is Competition!

    # smartphones – Android growing fast, that other OS shrinking
    # web servers – Apache with GNU/Linux riding high
    # high performance computing – GNU/Linux wins easily – only 1% use that other OS
    # LAN servers – who knows? Too closely tied to that other OS on clients

  • Rate your inner Linux geek as easy as ABC …

    How geeky are you? How well do you know Linux? Give yourself a point for each command in the list over page that you know and two points if you’ve used it.

  • Linux File Security Training at the ACLU

    A couple of weeks ago you learned some user and group management basics with “User and Group Management 101.” This week you’re entering the Access Control List University (ACLU) for an overview of advanced user and group management through the use of access control lists (ACLs).

    ACLs don’t negate standard user and group management; they enhance it by expanding and simplifying complex permissions needs. User and group management, including ACLs, can fill an entire book so this introduction attempts to whet your appetite for a more in-depth investigation and isn’t meant to provide a treatise on the topic.

  • Desktop

    • GNU/Linux on Fire

      Then there’s LinuxQuestions.org that gets thousands of new members per month. Their logs show a high proportion of GNU/Linux users visiting the site:

      http://jeremy.linuxquestions.org/2010/01/06/happy-new-year-browser-and-os-stats-for-2009/

      Operating Systems
      Windows 52.73%
      Linux 40.94%
      Macintosh 5.43%

    • Stupid Television Executives

      See what I’m getting at? What a stupid message! What a stupid policy to block Linux users! And how rude to not even tell us up front that we are being blocked! There are xx million Linux users in the United States. Nobody knows what xx is, but we’re pretty sure that the number of Linux users in the US is in the tens of millions. If you believe the hit counters that some web sites use to collect stats on visitors, perhaps 5-7% of us who cruise the web are running some flavor of Linux. The population of the United States is approximately 350 million people. Five percent of 350 million is around 17.5 million.

    • 1=30

      A typical PC running GNU/Linux uses 1% CPU load per client while pointing, clicking and gawking so 30 clients working hard might reach 30% CPU load. Shared memory in a UNIX OS means only one copy of each application need be in RAM at once.

    • Killing Bug #1

      We must be proactive and show people how their lives will be better using GNU/Linux. Today I showed a man and his niece with a non-booting PC what could be done with GNU/Linux. They are all for it if it saves them the cost of shipping their box by air yet again to the fix-it shop. The machine has been handled roughly too many times that way by its appearance. They have a nice machine but that other OS refuses to run. Chalk up another small victory for GNU/Linux.

  • Audiocasts

    • CAOS Theory Podcast 2010.04.30

      *Latest in enterprise Linux releases and developments
      *Squiz combining open source WCM roots with enterprise search
      *Open source attitudes, approaches differ by region
      *NoSQL, White House.gov demonstrate open source contribution

    • Podcast 75 David’s Biased Distro Review

      The Picture to the right is my Test Box that I recorded this Podcast on because my main box was busy working on updating itself. You will notice some popping from the microphone I was using in the picture.

  • Ballnux

    • Is the LG Ally a Smart Phone, or Something Better? [VIDEO]

      An LG Ally promo video has hit the internet and it definitely has us thinking a release is merely weeks away. Check out the clip below and you’ll hear all sorts of wonderful references to Android apps including Latitutude, OpenTable, and eBay.

  • Kernel Space

    • AMD Athlon II X3 425 On Linux

      Earlier this week AMD announced the Phenom II X6 processors that are designed to offer “unbeatable” performance thanks to its six physical processing cores while not being priced too high. However, should you not be interested in the latest high-end CPUs, there still is a plethora of lower-end AMD parts on the market. One of AMD’s low-priced offerings is the Athlon II X3 425, which is a triple-core AM3 processor that can easily overclock past 3GHz and is priced to sell at around $70 USD.

    • Graphics Stack

      • The Loser In Our Windows vs. Linux Tests: Intel Graphics

        As mentioned yesterday, seven different systems are being used for this testing to get a good idea for the true performance of the different platforms rather than being bound to one or two different sets of CPUs and GPUs. On the system we used to represent Intel graphics was an Intel Core i3 530 quad-core processor that sports Intel’s newest integrated graphics processor, which is embedded onto the CPU.

      • Some Linux Hardware Statistics From Phoronix Global

        On Phoronix Global we have more than 25,000 benchmark result submissions from independent users around the world since launching the public version of the Phoronix Test Suite back in early 2008. As I have been hinting at for several months, with the launch of Phoronix Test Suite 3.0 by the end of this year, Phoronix Global will be getting its long overdue overhaul and there are some revolutionary features being worked on as it concerns benchmarking and collaborative testing. This evening, however, there are some hardware statistics to share for the more than 25,000 existing result uploads.

        [...]

        GPUs On Phoronix Global
        NVIDIA: 46.642%
        ATI: 30.023%
        Intel: 10.972%
        Matrox: 1.403%
        VIA / SiS: 0.721%
        VMware: 2.02%
        XGI: 0.539%
        Cirrus: 6.633%
        VirtualBox: 0.734%
        ASPEED: 0.282%
        Silicon Motion: 0.03%

      • Mesa Slowly Gets Better OpenGL 3 Coverage
      • More Radeon Power Management Improvements
  • Applications

  • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

    • Hello Kate, goodbye vi

      In my last article I introduced you to Gedit (see “Gedit: No more text-based editor for you!“) and, as promised, this time around we will examine the KDE equivalent…Kate. Kate is an interesting beast in that it is comprised of two parts: KatePart (which is the underlying editor that is also used in other KDE components that require an editor) and Kate (the actual text editor). Kate is a complete rewrite of the older kwrite. And, like Gedit, Kate offers a number of outstanding features. In this article I will introduce you to Kate.

    • system tray progress

      We’ve been slowly working away at getting the system tray in order. The goal is deceptively simple: allow us to host the entries there in a way that meshes with the rest of the user interface. It’s actually been fairly complex due not only to the large number of existing applications that use (or, in many cases, abuse) the system tray, but because “meshes with” mean that the presentation and the interaction choices need to be done by the system tray. In the past it’s been the application that has been in control of this, leading to utter chaos. With the new D-Bus based system, which has been picked up by some distributors for GNOME as well (in particular Canonical), we are now free to show the system tray entries they way we want to. It’s been a long road, and we’re finally coming to the last few steps in it.

    • Ubuntu: Install Amarok 1.4 in 10.04 (Lucid Lynx)

      Many people still like Amarok 1.4, in spite of the improvements in Amarok since 2.0 was released. Lucid has Amarok 2.3 in the repos, and it’s really nice, but there are still fans of Amarok 1.4 who may want to run that in Lucid.

      We’ll be using Bogdan Butnaru’s Jaunty PPA. (Thanks, Bogdan!) Yes, I said the Jaunty PPA. Bogdan didn’t put one up specifically for Karmic, because there was no change to the packages. The Jaunty packages worked just fine in Karmic, and they work just fine in Lucid, too.

  • Distributions

    • Tinycore Linux and “On Demand” Computing

      Tniycore is … tiny: it’s 10MB, which puts it right at the bottom of the “small Linux” distros. It’s also very core. There are no apps. It boots to a minimal desktop (WM, built for Tinycore) with a small dock (Wbar), and nothing else. Oh, there’s a terminal, a control panel, and an app installer (using FLTK). It feels very much more “then” than “now.” Believe me, though, it boots fast. From my SD card, the desktop is fully functional in 3 seconds — my SD card is slow.

    • New Releases

      • Grml 2010.04 Live Linux adds VNC mode and detects host RAID devices

        Version 2010.04 of Grml Live Linux distribution, codename “Grmlmonster”, has been released. Grml is aimed primarily at administrators and users of text tools, such as awk, sed, grep, zsh, mutt[ng], slrn, vim and many others. The most important new features in the Debian-based distribution are automatic boot parameter-based configuration of host RAID devices and a VNC mode which can also be selected via the boot options, thereby facilitating remote maintenance.

      • NimbleX 2010 Beta Makes the Switch to KDE4

        After a couple of years of silence, a new version of NimbleX, a light-weight, Slackware-based Linux distribution is now available. Still in testing, the NimbleX 2010 Beta has been released to all eager users. You can take it for a spin to see how it handles or to see what’s changed. The long wait may have been worth it, as NimbleX 2010 comes with a lot of changes and updates, completely overhauling the previous version.

    • Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Mandriva Linux 2010 Spring Beta2 is available for tests

        We are now very near from final release. Here comes the second beta release for 2010 Spring version of Mandriva Linux. As usual you will be able to test it as it’s available on your favorite public mirror:

        * 32 and 64 bits DVD isos and mini dual iso (both 32 and 64 bits) for Free release (100% Open Source software)
        * live CDs One isos for KDE and GNOME environments (One isos will be available on monday)

    • Red Hat Family

      • The future of Linux in the data center: More than just Red Hat?

        For years, Red Hat has been the leader in the enterprise Linux market. And as of today, it still is — but the market has changed. Up to about three years ago, Red Hat was the only Linux player on the enterprise market; currently there are at least three other companies you can consider for getting enterprise Linux:

        * SUSE Linux Enterprise, currently owned by Novell
        * Ubuntu LTS, supported by Canonical
        * Oracle Unbreakable Linux, offered by Oracle

      • NTT Communications Powers Cloud Service with Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization

        Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced another endorsement of Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization as a foundational technology for clouds. NTT Communications (NTT Com) in Japan has built its new cloud computing and hosting service offering, BizHosting Basic, on Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization and has become a Red Hat Premier Certified Cloud Provider. In addition, Red Hat Enterprise Linux will be offered as a guest operating system for the new NTT Com service.

      • Red Hat and Jaspersoft Extend the Reach of Open Source for Fat Spaniel Technologies

        Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced that its Red Hat Enterprise Linux and JBoss Enterprise Middleware technologies, combined with the Jaspersoft Business Intelligence Suite, are working with Fat Spaniel Technologies in an effort to quickly introduce new functionality to market, scale with business growth and enable the measurement and reporting of the return on investment (ROI) of renewable energy.

      • Fedora

        • Introducing the Fedora Kiosk Spin

          I have just published a Fedora Kiosk Live Image.

          https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Fedora_Kiosk

          This image is still under development (as is F13).

    • Ubuntu

      • [ubuntu] Lucid Lynx 10.04 LTS
      • Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx review
      • Ubuntu 10.04: Upgrade or Clean Install?
      • The Best Improvements in Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx

        Ubuntu 10.04 is out today, and there are quite a few improvements in “Lucid Lynx,” a long-term support release. What’s worth checking out, beyond the geeky guts? A pretty nifty social manager, a great music store, faster boot-ups, and more.

      • Lucid Lynx on Prowl for Users of a Different Stripe

        Perhaps most notably, this Ubuntu release targets the demographic that software partners most want to reach — those monetizing the Web through use of social media. Among the many third-party software makers that already have developed tools or support for the release are Web-based video content aggregator Boxee and, of course, Mozilla’s Firefox. Yahoo (Nasdaq: YHOO) already has a toolbar ready for the platform, according to Canonical.

      • Ubuntu 10.04 Upgrade Results in Upside Down Fonts
      • Ubuntu Lucid Lynx great as ever, no game changer
      • Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx
      • Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx: Final Review
      • System76 Ships Ubuntu 10.04 Systems May 3

        Richell also shared some grander revenue trends and business moves at System76. I’m still sorting through the information and plan to post a follow-up blog.

        No doubt, some of Richell’s perspectives mirror those of ZaReason, another Ubuntu-centric PC provider that has launched Ubuntu 10.04 systems in recent days.

        Separately, I need to check in with Dell to see if/when the PC giant plans to preload Ubuntu on netbooks. The fastest way to track Dell’s Ubuntu PC efforts in the U.S. is to visit http://www.dell.com/ubuntu — though in recent months Dell seems to have dramatically cut back on the number of Ubuntu-centric systems it offers.

      • Ubuntu Tweak 0.5.4 is released ! Now support LinuxMint9

        Ubuntu Tweak 0.5.4 is released, the new release comes with some nice features and many other improvements, the big news is that Ubuntu Tweak now added support to the Ubuntu based system : LinuxMint 9, for the other new features of this release we find : Singleton support for Ubuntu Tweak, you will never launch two Ubuntu Tweak instances, the Ubuntu Tweak Stable source will be enabled by default, so that you won’t miss the major release version.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Nokia

        • The new kid on the Mobile OS block – MeeGo

          The mobile market is growing tremendously and everyone wants to get a share of the pie of this growing market. Everyone pertains to the mobile players, and this includes the mobile handset manufacturers, telecommunication companies, mobile application developers, and the software industry in general – particularly the mobile operating system (OS) developers.

      • Android

        • Google’s TV App Platform May Be Announced Next Month

          Little is known about the platform so far; a report last month said Google had the ultimate goal of making it as “easy for TV users to navigate web applications … as it is to change the channel,” while an earlier report said that Google wanted to make it easy for people to search both TV content and web videos.

    • Sub-notebooks/ARM

      • Transflective screens finally shipping, Pixel Qi claims

        Pixel Qi (pronounced “Pixel Chee”), which describes itself as a “fabless developer of a new class of screens,” is a spinoff from OLPC (One Laptop Per Child), where the former’s founder Mary Lou Jepsen is said to have invented the XO-1 laptop’s sunlight-readable display technology. Pictured below, the technology allows a portable computer’s screen to be switched from a standard, backlit color mode to a reflective monochrome mode, saving power and allowing the device to be used even in direct, strong sunlight.

      • UN to buy 500,000 OLPC laptops for Palestinian children

        The computers run the open-source Sugar software suite, marking a return to OLPC’s roots after a flirtation with running Windows XP on its emblematic green-and-white XO laptops.

        Sugar is now developed by a separate organization, Sugar Labs, which also offers versions of its Activities software for Windows, or on a bootable USB stick running on top of a Linux kernel.

      • “Sources believe”

        I always wonder about unnamed sources. It is very easy for Wintel or Wintel’s partners to put out false news. Alarm bells go off in my head when the sources suggest the good old days will return soon. You cannot put the genie of the netbook back in the bottle. Acer has the inside track distributing such gadgets to ISPs, banks, etc. The developing markets can absorb billions of these things running ARM and GNU/Linux, just not x86 and that other OS…

        In physics, this is described as a “population inversion”. A higher energy level of atoms tends to drop to a lower energy level as conditions permit. That is the principle used by many lasers. One atom decaying triggers the others.

      • ARM takes on the server big boys

        DESIGNER OF CHIPS ARM claims that servers using its multi-core chips will go up against Intel within the next 12 months.

        Talking to EE Times, Warren East, ARM Holdings’ CEO, said that while its chips have traditionally been used in “relatively low performance” roles the firm’s architecture can “support server application as it is”. East said that the company is cranking out multi-core chip designs running at “up to 2GHz”.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Count on me

    A vendor provides the support that can’t be found in the open source community.

  • Strategy’s Golden Rule

    Incumbents tried for decades to lock down content in walled gardens — but none tried to open it, unlock it, and free it.

  • Open vs. Closed: Jimmy Wales on Being Open

    Wales: One of the key pieces there for me is that there are some business models around Linux, but those business models — like Red Hat — have tended to focus on the server market, where certainly in the web-surfing world, the LAMP stack [Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP] is dominant. And it is dominant in that area in part because there emerged business models that made it possible for people to do things in a sustainable way, whereas Linux on the desktop so far hasn’t really generated a business model. If you think about Android, it can be open source, or very nearly open source, and that doesn’t hurt its chances of succeeding simply because Google has a business model around it that has nothing to do with selling the software. They can fund it, they can support it, and it makes business sense for them to do so, in a way that it has never made a lot of business sense for anybody to really spend the money to get Linux on the desktop to that kind of polished state.

  • A Refresher Course on Alfresco

    The update was mainly confirming the continuing progress of Alfresco. According to the company, there have been more than 2 million downloads of the code, and Alfresco now has more than 1,100 customers, 150,000 community members, 74,000 live sites and over a million active users. It’s also been adding more big name companies to its portfolio.

  • What Happened To Obama’s Open Source Adviser?

    “Back in January of 2009, various news articles announced that former Sun CEO Scott McNealy was to become the Obama administration’s Open Source Technology adviser. Currently, however, a search for Scott on the whitehouse.gov website yields zero results. Searching a bit more, I found that Scott is currently working on CurriWiki, a kind of Wikipedia for school curriculum. So my question is, what happened? Did some lobbyist block the appointment? Did Scott decide his other activities were more important? Scott, if you are out there — please tell us what happened. There are many people working in government IT, such as myself, who were really excited about the possibilities of an expanded role for open source software in government, and are now wondering what went wrong.”

  • Picking the right open source projects

    That’s not as easy as it sounds: Open source support provider OpenLogic reports more than 330,000 open source software packages for enterprises to choose from.

  • Measuring your Company’s Open Source Maturity: A Quiz

    The “Embrace” Stage

    In this phase companies begin to fully understand the benefits that open source brings and start to proactively consider open source technology and its benefits.

    * Our company understands what open source we use and where it is deployed.
    * Management has realized that open source can save us money on software costs, enabling us to get more done with the same budget.

  • Join your jeesh for zero-g battles in Leges Motus

    Isaac Newton, in his Principia, outlined his famous laws of motion, or in Latin “leges motus.” As you know, Newton was an avid computer gamer, so it’s fitting that a SourceForge project has adopted Leges Motus as the name for its 2-D multiplayer shooter. In this game, players attempt to travel across a zero-gravity arena while freezing the opposing team’s members in order to bring down the opponents’ gate. Game play combines fast-paced action with team tactics, yet the basics are simple enough that beginners can jump into it immediately. Its developers says it’s the only open source game that combines 2-D graphics, top-down shooter gameplay, and a zero-gravity environment.

    [...]

    With a small development team, Partlan says it’s easy to coordinate work on the code by talking on IRC or in person, “but we would like to expand our team to speed up the process of development. We’re looking to make some really cool features happen in the future. We want to create more interesting weapons, such as a burst-fire machine gun that takes some time to charge up, and a melee weapon that fires a pulse of energy in a small radius around you. We also would like to create an AI client, so more players can try the game out without needing to wait for opponents. We’ll also be adding a keyboard mapping menu, among other things.

  • Firefox gets a sexy new add-ons manager

    Mozilla continues to plug away at Firefox.next, and one area they’ve been working at is the add-on system. Jetpack and Personas have already seen improvements, browser shutdown time has been reduced to almost nothing, and now there’s been a major update to the Firefox Add-on Manager.

  • Rename Maria

    To prevent confusion, it seemed like a wise choice to get the storage engine, Maria, renamed. MariaDB is already making a name for itself, and the trademarks are owned in numerous regions. Monty has no more children (he suggests Lucy, the name of his dog!), so we decided that the next best thing is to rely on the community for renaming the Maria Storage Engine.

    [...]

    Monty initially only planned to work on a next generation MyISAM called Maria, that would be crash safe, and eventually support transactions. Little did he know that in due time, he would not only be working on just another storage engine, but a complete branch of the MySQL database. Not coming up with a name almost immediately, he decided to call it MariaDB, named after his daughter, Maria.

  • How transparent is the White House?

    Cole concluded his keynote with a simple challenge: What changes do you want to see in government? In other words, I think it’s awesome that the Obama administration has an open source mentality that is driving change in Washington. But what good is making government more open and transparent if the citizens choose not to participate and hold governments accountable for their actions?

  • GNOBSD – A beginning

    I first heard about GNOBSD, a new fledgling, little known operating system, while reading a rather tragic story aptly named GNOBSD – killed by GUI-is-for-wimps hacker culture over at DistroWatch.com. Hacker culture, that sounds almost like haute couture. To cut the long story short, it turns out GNOBSD was about to bring a big change into the murky waters of UNIX and then, it hit the spiky wall of resistance and resentment of hardcore BSD fans. The developer was so dismayed that he removed the ISO file from his website, but then, after much popular demand, put it back. It’s alive and kicking now.

    [...]

    GNOBSD is not a complete system yet. But it’s a beginning, a great beginning. Alongside its already graphical brethren from the UNIX world, PC-BSD and Open Solaris, GNOBSD could bring a breath of change into computing market. It will sure not shatter the foundations of Redmond and Cupertino just yet or dislodge the highly popular Linux distributions from their throne, but it does not have to be about total annihilation. This could be a benevolent, smart effort to allow UNIX fans a real competitive edge in the fluid, modern, gadget-oriented market. It’s never been about technology, but integration into the human society.

    I love the concept and I hope it will flourish into a fully usable system that desktop users can enjoy as a viable alternative to other available operating system, with the comfort of security and stability of BSD.

  • Compilers

    • GCC 4.4.4 Is Being Uploaded For Release

      This month marked the release of GCC 4.5.0 and LLVM 2.7 with updates to the Clang compiler too, but the month is not over in the free software compiler world. Jakub Jelinek of Red Hat is uploading the GCC 4.4.4 packages right now for its release.

    • LLVMpipe’s Geometry Processing Pipeline Kicks
    • LLVM 2.7 Makes Its Debut With Many Features

      Last week we compared LLVM and Clang against GCC following the release of GCC 4.5 and found the newer compiler infrastructure that’s sponsored by Apple to not perform as well as the GNU Compiler Collection in a number of areas at this time, but today LLVM 2.7 is out. Version 2.7 of the Low-Level Virtual Machine brings forward many improvements to both core LLVM itself and the Clang compiler front-end.

  • Licensing

    • Managing Open Source Risk and Keeping It Legal

      From potential issues with licenses to evaluating the future development of a particular project, there are risks to consider before adopting open source software. As open source grows, so do the legal wrangles surrounding projects, licenses, and more.

  • Openness

    • What would it take to map an entire country?

      “What would it take to map an entire country?”

      With the growing visibility of Map Kibera, that question is coming more frequently, especially in Africa, where both OpenStreetMap and traditional mapping are widely absent. This is a massive question, which is going to depend very much on circumstances of that country, and on who is asking that question; and in the end may be better answered by a different question. In response to a couple queries, from Liberia and Malawi, I decided to write up a few blog posts to start off those conversations, and serve as reference for any of the other 200+ countries on this planet. To start, going look at a few examples to serve as models for answering the question.

    • BusinessWeek turns an eye to open source beyond technology

      So a few weeks back, I was excited to see that BusinessWeek (now Bloomberg BusinessWeek) ran a special report called Eye on: Open Source that also embraced the wider usage of open source principles in technology and beyond.

  • Open Access/Content

    • Mendeley Throws Open the Doors to Academic Data

      London-based Mendeley is offering an open API and making a vast catalog of academic publications searchable, which, well, might make the cut.

    • Open Government Data in Austria

      Open government data initiatives around the world are a big chance to make a change and present success stories and incentives to the public and policy makers. Of course, it will be a question of which data sets to open and what the consequences are. In a workshop with Rufus Pollock we could see that there are big differences between Austrian and Anglo-American and Scandinavian mentality: before we do something, we think out all possible (bad) consequences. Which is good, but firstly, this might take a while, secondly, we might think of more problems than there will actually turn out, and thirdly, sometimes the overall social benefit will just exceed costs.

  • Programming

  • Standards/Consortia

    • The Naming of Standards

      Some wanted it to be called “OfficeDocument”, emphasizing its primary scope of use. Others wanted to call it “OpenDocument”, making its openness (a new thing in the office-document world at that time) more central, and acknowledging that its applicability was for more than just office editors.

    • Getting to know Ars Aperta’s business

      I usually don’t write about this topic often, but I thought it would be interesting -and perhaps enlightening- to explain a bit more what my company, Ars Aperta provides as a business. I think it’s the right time today, as we have almost finished our upgrade to Ikaaro’s new release. Ikaaro is developed by a french company called Itaapy, and you should watch these guys: Ikaaro is now able to produce content from and to ODF while using ODF document templates at the same time. You can try their demo online and see for yourself. But I digress, back to Ars Aperta.

      We took the opportunity of this upgrade to clarify and revise the content on our website, and I think that what we offer as a team of consultants is now much clearer. Basically, we have three lines of business. The first, and the most generic one, is our consulting services. Ars Aperta provides client assistance and strategic consulting services (sometimes dubbed as “management consulting”) in the fields of information technologies, with a focus on Free & Open Source Software and Open Standards. Our existing customers have also worked with us on non specific Free and Open Source Software consulting project, so I guess one could say we tend to have a broader scope than our original focus.

Leftovers

  • Before The Paywall, Murdoch Stops Disclosing UK News Site Traffic

    With nearly a month to go before News International raises its first paywall in June, both Times Online and Sun Online have stopped publishing their user numbers through the ABC in the UK.

  • Science

    • Designing greenhouses for the Red Planet

      The creation of a human outpost on Mars is still some way off, but that hasn’t stopped us planning the garden. At Kennedy Space Center on April 15, President Barack Obama announced the intention to send humans to Mars by the mid-2030s. If all goes to plan, NASA will kick off an era of space exploration not seen since the Apollo moon programme in the 1960s.

    • Japanese Researchers Invent Elastic Water

      The material shown in the picture above is just ice, right? Look again. Elastic water, a new substance invented by researchers at Tokyo University, is a jelly-like substance made up of 95% water along with two grams of clay and a small amount of organic materials. As is, the all-natural substance is perfect for medical procedures, because it’s made of water, poses no harm to people and is perfect for mending tissue. And, if the research team can increase the density of this exciting new substance, it could be used in place of our current oil based plastics for a host of other things.

    • What can you learn from a whole genome sequence?

      The paper is based on the genome of Stephen Quake (right), which was sequenced using the single-molecule platform developed by Helicos (I wrote about Quake’s genome publication at the time). This is a rather curious choice: of all of the genome sequences currently available for analysis, Quake’s is one of the least complete and accurate due to the very short reads and high error rates of the Heliscope. It’s also interesting to note that at least one of the other authors on the paper – George Church – has a substantially better-quality sequence of his own genome (generated by Complete Genomics) in the public domain.

    • Zoologger: The most bizarre life story on Earth?

      There’s no question that discovering a new species is very cool. But how about discovering a new phylum?

  • Security/Aggression

  • Environment

    • Can the Sahara Light Up Europe with Solar Power?: Recent Developments in CSP

      Dubbed the Desertec Industrial Initiative, it will create vast fields of concentrated solar power (CSP) plants – arrays of mirrors which focus the sun’s energy to turn water into steam, and so drive electrical turbines. From there, the power will flow through a network of low loss transmission cables to pipe electricity into the existing European grid, via Spain.

  • Finance

    • Greece activates €45bn EU/IMF loans

      Prime minister George Papandreou says it is a ‘national and pressing necessity’ to call for financial rescue after Greece’s austerity measures failed to convince the markets

    • Break Goldman Sachs’ Republican filibuster

      Goldman Sachs and Wall Street banks are demanding Republicans filibuster Wall Street reform. As a result, every single Republican senator opposes pending legislation to rein in a U.S. financial sector run amok. Every single one. It’s shameful but true.

    • Legislating a Conscience on Wall Street

      Is there any way to change this now, so that the banks that remain the lifeblood of the U.S. economy are forced to think outside their walls? Yes, but only Washington can do it (as risky a proposition as that is too). It’s clear none of these big banks is going to able to grow a conscience on its own, not with the way the Street is structured today. That is why, along with new rules on capital and leverage and systemic risk, the forthcoming financial reform legislation—currently being held up by a Republican filibuster—should also include tough new rules on disclosure, transparency, and corporate responsibility.

    • The Feds vs. Goldman

      The Goldman case emerges as a symbol of all this brokenness, of a climate in which all financial actors are now supposed to expect to be burned and cheated, even by their own bankers, as a matter of course. (As part of its defense, Goldman pointed out that IKB is a “sophisticated CDO market participant” – translation: too fucking bad for them if they trusted us.) It would be nice to think that the SEC suit is aimed at this twisted worldview as much as at the actual offense. Some observers believe the case against Goldman was timed to pressure Wall Street into acquiescing to Sen. Chris Dodd’s loophole-ridden financial-reform bill, which probably won’t do much to prevent cases like the Abacus fiasco. Or maybe it’s just pure politics – Democrats dropping the proverbial horse’s head in Goldman’s bed to get their fig-leaf financial-reform effort passed in time for the midterm elections.

    • Workers march on Wall Street, protest big banks

      Thousands of workers and union leaders marched on Wall Street on Thursday to express their anger over lost jobs, the taxpayer-funded bailout of financial institutions and questionable lending practices by big banks.

      The rally was organized by the AFL-CIO and an association of community groups. It included a diverse mixture of union workers, activists, the unemployed, and homeowners threatened by foreclosure.

    • Where All That Money Went

      “We’ve lost almost $11 trillion of household wealth in the last 17 or 18 months,” lamented Senator Christopher J. Dodd, the Connecticut Democrat, on last Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” as he urged Congress to proceed with speedy deliberations on a finance reform bill.

    • Let’s keep banks from growing too big to regulate

      The Wall Street reform bill that is before the Senate, now that Republicans have ended their filibuster, will make important changes to our laws to provide for the orderly liquidation of these trillion-dollar banks if necessary. Those changes are important but not sufficient.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Swiftboating Financial Reform

      Republicans are blocking a Senate vote on the Dodd bill, seeking to build public support by misleading the public. They’re claiming to want a stronger bill when in fact they’re doing the Street’s bidding by seeking a weaker one.

      Evidence of their tactics comes in the form of a shady anti-financial reform group called “Stop Too Big To Fail” which today announced a new TV advertising push in three key states. The ad features an out-of-context quote from me to bolster its case to kill financial reform.

    • Washington Post Teams with Coal Industry Front Group

      The Washington Post introduced a new web page about politics called PostPolitics.com, and the site’s exclusive sponsor is the coal industry’s shady front group, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE). ACCCE is the group whose lobbying firm, Bonner and Associates, was caught forging letters to Representative Tom Periello (D-Virginia) in July, 2009, which urged Rep. Periello to oppose the Waxman-Markey Climate bill. The letters were supposedly from groups like the NAACP or Creciendo Juntas — on what appeared to be their stationery. ACCCE admitted that Bonner had been working on its behalf as a contractor to another PR firm, The Hawthorn Group.

    • A Firing Squad Execution, and Utah Worries About Tourism?

      Maybe the Salt Lake Tribune and the people of Utah are missing the point. Currently, 49 states ban execution via firing squad, including Utah. However, Utah passed the ban against firing squads in 2004, and Gardner is one of about 10 individuals who were sentenced to death prior to the ban, so he has the option of selecting the firing squad method. Oklahoma is the only state in the U.S. that still allows execution by firing squad. While the death penalty thrives in many U.S .states, especially Texas, all western European countries and Canada are death penalty-free.

    • Send out the Clown

      Corporate Accountability International (CAI), a group that works to end irresponsible corporate behavior, is pressuring the McDonalds fast food chain to retire their promotional clown, Ronald McDonald, saying the clown is a threat to public health.

    • Statement by the President on the DISCLOSE Act

      “I welcome the introduction of this strong bi-partisan legislation to control the flood of special interest money into America’s elections. Powerful special interests and their lobbyists should not be able to drown out the voices of the American people. Yet they work ceaselessly toward that goal: they claim the protection of the Constitution in extending this power, and they exploit every loophole in the law to escape limits on their activities. The legislation introduced today would establish the toughest-ever disclosure requirements for election-related spending by big oil corporations, Wall Street and other special interests, so the American people can follow the money and see clearly which special interests are funding political campaign activity and trying to buy representation in our government. I have long believed that sunlight is the best disinfectant, and this legislation will shine an unprecedented light on corporate spending in political campaigns. This bill will also prohibit foreign entities from manipulating the outcomes of American elections and help close other special interest loopholes. I hope that Congress will give this legislation the swift consideration it deserves, which is especially urgent now in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Passing the legislation is a critical step in restoring our government to its rightful owners: the American people.”

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Rudd retreats on web filter legislation

      KEVIN Rudd has put another election promise on the backburner with his controversial internet filtering legislation set to be shelved until after the next election.

      A spokeswoman for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said yesterday the legislation would not be introduced next month’s or the June sittings of parliament.

    • Govt ‘committed to internet filter’

      The federal government has rejected claims it has abandoned plans to introduce mandatory internet filtering before the next election.

    • Palin e-mail snoop found guilty on two charges

      A federal jury in Knoxville today has convicted David Kernell, 22, of two charges in connection with the 2008 episode where he accessed the personal Yahoo e-mail account of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and then initiated a worldwide rummaging of its contents.

    • Sometimes, we win.

      Judge James Adair, who presided over the case and who would be granting the sentence, is sort of like your favourite teacher. He hated school, fell in love with the girl across the street, tried to be a prosecutor but didn’t much care for it, and now drives a little red Corvette around his tiny town, dodging questions at lunch counters from the very people whose lives he holds in his hands. He told us these things before he pronounced sentence, claiming that he couldn’t do his job without looking Peter in the eye one more time. He spoke very frankly, saying that he found Peter “puzzling,” and that he constantly had to ask himself, “Who is Peter Watts?”

      At this point, I had to stifle a very Hermione Granger-ish urge to raise my hand and say, “I know! I know! Pick me! I know who Peter Watts is!” As I wrote at my own blog, Peter is “the person who dropped everything when I fainted at a blood donation clinic. The person who rescues cats. The person who fixed the strap of my dress with a safety pin and his teeth. The person who stands up for me in critiques even when he thinks I’ve fucked up the ending (because I always do), who talked me through the ideas of my novel. The person who gives the best hugs.”

      [...]

      Peter stumbled down the aisle toward us, blinking. “He did say no jail time, right?”

      We all said it at once: “Yes.”

    • Petitioners conned voters into switching to the GOP

      Petitioners prowling parking lots and community college campuses tricked dozens of young Orange County voters into registering to vote as Republicans, an Orange County Register investigation has found.

    • My Defamation 2.0 Experience

      My name is Erik Moeller. I’ve been a Wikipedia volunteer editor and software developer since 2001. In 2006, I was elected by its volunteer community to the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organization which operates it; in 2007, I was reelected, and in 2008, I relocated from Berlin, Germany to San Francisco to join the Wikimedia Foundation staff as Deputy Director.

      In May 2008, an anonymous defamer circulated a smear letter about me to various blogs, which resulted in a series of posts written by Owen Thomas for Gawker Media that defamed me as a “defender of pedophilia”. These posts did not attract much attention until April 2010, when Larry Sanger re-circulated reference to them as part of a false accusation that Wikimedia knowingly distributed illegal child pornography. This in turn resulted in a Fox News story, “Wikipedia Distributing Child Porn, Co-Founder Tells FBI”, which is prompting me to write this response. I am also now represented by a lawyer, and intend to take legal action.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • RLSLOG Pulled Offline After Universal Music Complaint

      RLSLOG, one of the world’s most popular release news sites, has been pulled offline by its German hosting company following a takedown request from Universal Music. The site, which has never hosted any copyrighted material on its servers, is currently looking for a new home outside Germany.

    • Copyrights

      • USTR’s Bully Report Unfairly Blames Canada Again

        The U.S. government has released its annual Special 301 report in which it purports to identify those countries with inadequate intellectual property laws. Given the recent history and the way in which the list is developed, it will come as no surprise that the U.S. is again implausibly claiming that Canada is among the worst of the worst. As a starting point, it should be noted that the Canadian government does not take this exercise particularly seriously. As an official with the Department of Foreign Affairs once told a House of Commons committee:

        In regard to the watch list, Canada does not recognize the 301 watch list process. It basically lacks reliable and objective analysis. It’s driven entirely by U.S. industry. We have repeatedly raised this issue of the lack of objective analysis in the 301 watch list process with our U.S. counterparts.

        This year’s report is particularly embarrassing for the U.S. since it not only lacks in credible data, but ignores the submission from CCIA (which represents some of the world’s largest technology and Internet companies including Microsoft, Google, T-Mobile, Fujitsu, AMD, eBay, Intuit, Oracle, and Yahoo) that argued that it is completely inappropriate to place Canada on the list. The technology giants reminded the USTR that “Canada’s current copyright law and practice clearly satisfy the statutory ‘adequate and effective’ standard. Indeed, in a number respects, Canada’s laws are more protective of creators than those of the United States.”

      • US Says 4.3 Billion People Live With Bad IP Laws
      • Pirate Bay Rallies Against UK Anti-Piracy Act

        The Pirate Bay is encouraging its users to oppose the Digital Economy Act that was recently forced through by the UK Government. The legislation “threatens the privacy and human rights of all web users,” they argue, but it’s not too late to turn things around for the better.

      • CMAP #8: Lifestyle or Job?

        Misconceptions abound, and not only about the publishing industry. In this posting, I’m going to talk a little bit about what it is to be a commercial fiction author.

        Most people have a very romanticized view of what it is that authors do. Firstly, there’s a widespread perception that the workload involved is relatively easy — in modern western nations, the level of functional literacy is high enough that a majority of the population can read a book, and write (at least to the extent of thumbing a 160-character text message on their phone). Because there is no obvious barrier to entry as with music (where proficiency with musical instruments clearly takes practice), most people assume that writing a novel is like writing a text message — you put one word in front of another until you’re done. The skills of fiction composition are largely invisible, until you try to actually do it. Secondly, many people harbour peculiar ideas about how much money there is in commercial publishing — and when disabused of the idea that selling a first novel is a road to riches, they assume it’s because the evil publishers are conspiring to keep all the money to themselves (rather than the unpalatable truth — publishing commercial fiction is hard work for little reward). Finally, there’s the Lifestyle chimera.

      • How Hollywood Hides The Horrors Of War

        For all its mystifications, Avatar clearly sides with those who oppose the global Military-Industrial Complex, portraying the superpower army as a force of brutal destruction serving big corporate interests. The Hurt Locker, on the other hand, presents the U.S. Army in a way that is much more finely attuned to its own public image in our time of humanitarian interventions and militaristic pacifism.

        The film largely ignores the big debate about the U.S. military intervention in Iraq, and instead focuses on the daily ordeals of ordinary soldiers who are forced to deal with danger and destruction. In pseudo-documentary style, it tells the story—or rather, presents a series of vignettes—of an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) squad and their potentially deadly work of disarming planted bombs.

    • Digital Economy Bill

      • Musicians coining it in Sunday Times Rich List

        88 individuals from the music and entertainment industries appear in the 2010 Sunday Times Rich List. An elite half dozen or so are richer than the Queen. Is this who the Digital Economy bill is designed to protect?

      • A Third of London UK Households Open to Wi-Fi Attacks

        If a cybercriminal gains access to someone’s home WiFi, either due to the network being unsecure or a network password being cracked, then email accounts, social networking sites and even online banking can be broken in to.

        Also with access to someone’s home WiFi, a cybercriminal can use the internet connection however they choose. The home owner may be completely unaware as the hacker browses obscene websites or illegally downloads copyrighted music, films or TV shows from their home network.

      • When We Can Copy *Analogue* Artefacts…

        The recent battle over the Digital Economy Bill has focussed renewed attention on the area of copying digital artefacts – music and films, for example. It’s a subject I’ve started writing and speaking about more and more; for example, here are some thoughts on why free software’s success is crucially important in this area.

        But I have confession to make: that article is a bit of a cop-out. I didn’t address the even bigger issue of what happens when we can copy *analogue* artefacts. Yup, you read that aright: the time is fast approaching when we will be able to download a chair or a bicycle and just print it out. Clearly, this will make the idea of *analogue* scarcity rather more complex (although energy concerns will always place a lower bound on the cost of making such copies).

Clip of the Day

What’s under the hat? A sneak peek at Fedora 13 by Jesse Keating


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