08.06.10

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Links 6/8/2010: The Linux Desktop More Responsive, Android Succeeds on Smartphones

Posted in News Roundup at 6:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Kernel Space

    • The Linux Desktop Responsiveness Patches Are Feeling Good

      Fortunately, from our testing and the reports of other Linux users looking to see this problem corrected, the relatively small vmscan patches that were published do seem to better address the issue. The user-interface (GNOME in our case) still isn’t 100% fluid if the system is sustaining an overwhelming amount of disk activity, but it’s certainly much better than before and what’s even found right now with the Linux 2.6.35 kernel.

    • Graphics Stack

      • The ATI R600/700 DDX & Mesa Now Have Tiling In Place

        Now that the Linux 2.6.36 kernel is set to ATI R600/700 tiling support within the Radeon DRM code, patches for hooking into this tiling support have been committed to the xf86-video-ati DDX and the classic Mesa DRI R600 drivers.

  • Applications

    • Spicebird: A Modern Thunderbird Remix

      Take Thunderbird, mix liberally with calendaring, instant messaging, and release it on Linux and Windows. What do you get? Spicebird, a collaboration client that remixes Thunderbird to bring the creaking mail client up to date for today’s users.

      Spicebird has been in the works for some time, but the 0.8 release is finally ready for a wider audience. To see if it’s ready for everyday use, I downloaded Spicebird 0.8 a week ago and started testing.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Rigs of Rods Simulator Game Gets Marked 0.37-r1

        One of the free software projects we have been talking to as of late about better enhancing their benchmarking capabilities for likely integration into the Phoronix Test Suite is Rigs of Rods. While the graphics within this driving simulator may not be the best (at least when compared to Unigine, or within the open-source world, Nexuiz) it’s not the graphics that the developers pride themselves on but rather the physics capabilities. Rigs of Rods began as a truck driving simulator game, but since then has turned into a rather interesting physics sandbox of goodies. A new release of their code-base was just made.

      • The Amnesia Game Gets Ready For A Linux Release

        For those trying to find a new Linux game that offers good graphics while not being a first person shooter with little to no plot — as is the case for a majority of the commercial and open-source games available for Linux — the Amnesia: The Dark Descent game is expected to be released next month. Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a graphic adventure horror game that will have a Linux-native client and has been in development by Frictional Games, the same studio that developed the Penumbra series.

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Up-selling Has Had Its Day

        In the recession and as a means to kill netbooks, M$ and its partners decided to “up-sell” notebooks. There were those in the market who believed paying more got more but they have now bought and the rest of us, looking for bargains, are holding back. The result is a glut of notebooks on the market. The stockpiles are almost double their normal levels. Expect a resurgence of netbooks as the best way to buy a lower-priced PC. This comes just in time for the ARMed smart-thingies, too. The monopoly can delay the effects of market forces by concerted action but they cannot stop them.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Why incentives don’t work in education—or the business world

    Open source may have some answers there. Every day, programmers around the world generate high quality code for open source projects—often for free.

    Yet the Heaths’ article mentions a production-increasing initiative by AT&T executives where programmers were paid for each line of (proprietary) code they produced. They weren’t more productive; they simply generated a whole lot of extraneous code.

    Open source coders and other highly motivated workers share three characteristics, according to Pink: purpose, autonomy, and mastery. The coders contributing to an open source project—some of whom may well be working for AT&T—are intrinsically motivated to do quality work. It seems that offering external motivation (in the form of money) should further increase their interest in a project. But in fact, the opposite occurs.

  • Healthcare

    • Freemed-YiRC V1.20 Released
    • GNUmed – from desktop to web application

      In the FOSS world there is choice. There are desktop oriented applications and web based applications. There is however no EMR application which offers both – at the same time. This is because the desktop and the web a fundamentally different – only the user stays the same.

  • Business

    • Semi-Open Source

      • Increasingly, Open Source Coexists With Proprietary Software

        In the ongoing debate between open source purists and people who appreciate and defend proprietary software, extremists will always have their voices, but many people in the open source community are waking up to the fact that proprietary platforms and applications can co-exist peacefully with open source ones. There are several trends boosting this fair dinkum version of the software landscape, including the growing ease with which open source and proprietary titles can work together in heterogenous network environments, and platforms aimed at consumers that embrace the sharing of proprietary and open source applications.

  • Licensing

    • Copyright assignment – Once bitten, twice shy

      Copyright denotes ownership of code, it is regarded as property and as such it can be bought, sold or assigned. This applies to all copyrighted material, and is a weakness in all free software licensing, which is why the FSF has always recommended that the ownership of GPL code be assigned to the FSF, which itself has caused ructions among some developers in the past, notably between the developers of Xemacs and GNU Emacs.

      The GPL, or any other software licence, depends upon the framework of copyright law. Copyleft is a hack on copyright law that puts the rights and responsibilities back into the hands of the user.

      The logic of Richard Stallman and the FSF is that “a copyright holder in a jointly-authored work is in a weak position to enforce its copyright unless all co-authors participate in the legal action”. If all the authors participating in an open source project assign their copyrights to the FSF this puts the FSF in a strong legal position to act as an umbrella in defence of the GPL and any code licensed under it.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • OpenIDEO: a new experiment in open innovation

      This week, those smart folks over at IDEO launched a new project they are calling OpenIDEO. If you aren’t familiar with IDEO yet, you should be—they are the poster children for design thinking specifically and 21st century innovation more generally.

    • Cameras/Open Hardware

      • Open Source Project Aims to Breathe New Life Into Classic Holga Camera

        Photography buffs revere the Holga camera as something of a cult classic. Originally created as an inexpensive mass-market camera in China, professional photographers fell in love with the way its limitations created unique images that fancy high-end cameras could not.

        [...]

        “This kind of open-source product license would open up a lot of new possibilities,” writes Biswas. “For example, manufacturers would be able to produce lightweight and cheap plastic camera as well as more expensive and rugged metal body based on the same design. The manufacturers would also be able to develop simple or complex accessories like lens adapters for current or old lenses from other brands, lenses, viewfinders etc. Likewise, on the software/firmware side, the open source code would also open up new possibilities.”

      • Stanford ‘Frankencamera’ platform available on Nokia N900 ahead of unveiling at graphics conference

        Stanford’s open-source digital photography software platform, “Frankencamera,” which allows users to create novel camera capabilities, is available as a free download for Nokia N900 “mobile computers” starting today. Next week at the SIGGRAPH conference in Los Angeles, the Frankencamera engineering team will describe the platform and several sample apps created with it.

        “We’re going public with Frankencamera,” said Stanford computer science and electrical engineering professor Marc Levoy, who leads the project. “We are releasing code so that people can create new imaging applications on their Nokia N900s.”

        In addition, the researchers have been awarded a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation, shared with colleagues at MIT, to begin making professional-style, single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras, equipped with the software platform, for free distribution to computational photography professors around the country. Non-academics could buy the camera at cost. Levoy said he expects those cameras will be available within a year.

Leftovers

  • Child Porn As a Weapon

    Want to get rid of your boss and move up to his position? Put kiddie porn on his computer then call the cops! This was the cunning plan envisaged by handyman Neil Weiner of east London after falling out with school caretaker Edward Thompson too many times. Thankfully, Weiner didn’t cover his tracks quite well enough to avoid being found out — earlier boasts about his plan to friends at a BBQ provided the police with enough evidence to arrest him for trying to pervert the course of justice.

  • The Irish Red Cross Sues Google To Silence Anonymous Blogger, Amplifying That Blogger’s Message
  • Red Cross in court to silence Google blog critic

    THE Irish Red Cross is taking Google – one of its biggest donors – to court today in an attempt to silence an anonymous critic who has posted comments on the internet which have criticised the organisation.

    The charity has claimed that a blog, which has been running since late last year, contains false and defamatory remarks about the Irish Red Cross and has become a major concern.

    The blog, entitled Governance Reform at The Irish Red Cross, is hosted by the Googleowned site Blogspot. The Irish Red Cross have filed a plenary summons with the High Court due to be heard today in an attempt to silence the blogger.

  • Phone Calls Are For Old People? Just Not Efficient Enough

    That last point is a really interesting one. One of the “features” of the “always on” society is the fact that we’re actually ending up with better tools for managing our time — and the “old” telephone system really doesn’t fit into that setup. Thompson notes in the piece that he simply won’t answer calls that aren’t scheduled — and I’ve been reaching the same stance lately myself. I actually find it odd when people call me without contacting me first to set up a time to call. If anything, it almost feels “rude.”

  • Political Campaign Against Craigslist Ratchets Up

    However, placing the blame on Craigslist is entirely misguided. Yes, it was the tool that was used, but the anger should be directed at those who turned them into prostitutes, and at law enforcement for not using these publicly available tools to do their job. Some law enforcement agencies have learned that Craigslist is a great tool for finding and catching those responsible. If these sorts of ads get forced off Craigslist, it won’t stop the prostitution. It’ll just go further underground and make it that much more difficult for law enforcement to do anything. As it stands now, Craigslist works closely with law enforcement to catch those actually responsible. Blaming the company (or Craig himself) is misguided and likely to do more harm than good.

  • Security/Aggression

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • I hate Traditional Chinese Medicine

      The ground-up genitals of TCM pharmacists. Shocking, I know, but it’s a fact. TCM pharmacists never have sexual problems because they are constantly doping themselves up with their panaceas, and their tissues are saturated with the most effective reagents in their pharmacopias.

    • Mainstream Media Helps BP Pretend There’s No Oil

      With BP’s broken well in the Gulf of Mexico finally capped, the focus shifts to the surface clean-up and the question on everyone’s lips is: where is all the oil?”

    • BP oil spill: Obama administration’s scientists admit alarm over chemicals

      The Obama administration is facing internal dissent from its scientists for approving the use of huge quantities of chemical dispersants to tackle the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Guardian has learned.

      The US Environmental Protection Agency has come under attack in Congress and from independent scientists for allowing BP to spray almost 2m gallons of the dispersant Corexit on to the slick and, even more controversially, into the leak site 5,000ft below the sea. Now it emerges that EPA’s own experts have been raising similar concerns within the agency.

    • Gulf oil spill: US scientists reject talk of plumes and report 75% of slick has gone
    • Climate deal loopholes ‘make farce’ of rich nations’ pledges

      Developing countries have argued strongly for minimum 40% emission cuts from industrialised nations by 2020. But new analysis from the Stockholm Environment Institute and Third World Network (TWN), released at the latest UN climate talks in Bonn, showed that current pledges amounted to only 12-18% reductions below 1990 levels without loopholes. When all loopholes were taken into account, emissions could be allowed to rise by 9%.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • A New DMCA Exemption for Security Research

        By now, most readers have probably heard about the six newly minted exemptions to the anti-circumvention measures of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), announced last week by the Librarian of Congress. For the uninitiated, Ars Technica has an excellent overview of the exemptions, which provide much-needed legal cover for a variety of activities including jailbreaking and unlocking cell phones, decrypting DVDs for non-commercial remixes, and several others.

        Of particular interest to folks in the security community is the exemption granted for security research on video game digital rights management (DRM) systems, stemming from both realized and potential security holes in systems like Safedisc and SecuROM.

Clip of the Day

Christopher Clay on YGAW


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