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Links 9/8/2010: Quake Live, Linux-powered Dell Streak

Posted in News Roundup at 5:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Retail Has to Change

    One of the frustrations of promoting GNU/Linux is that retail sellers of PCs tend to ignore or are ignorant of GNU/Linux yet about 10% of retail customers are very familiar with GNU/Linux. That makes no sense. It may maximize current cash-flow but will cause retailers to lose customers as GNU/Linux grows and start-ups or smaller retailers cater to the business. The result is a chicken-and-egg situation where many who would buy GNU/Linux on price and performance do not have much choice and because most users of PCs are not do-it-yourself types GNU/Linux does not grow as rapidly as it could.

  • Kernel Space

    • Btrfs Did Regress Hard In The Linux 2.6.35 Kernel

      Chris Mason, the Btrfs lead developer, quickly responded that Btrfs is not being aggressive enough in allocating chunks of data, which is making the flusher come in and start data I/O. Chris is now working to reproduce and address this issue. No fix has yet been committed, but it’s expected that it will land within the Linux 2.6.36 kernel.

    • Graphics Stack

      • X.Org Server 1.9 Is Hitting Ubuntu 10.10 Soon

        Ubuntu’s Christopher James Halse Rogers has just issued a notice that X.Org Server 1.9 is soon going to be uploaded to the Ubuntu Maverick repository for Ubuntu 10.10, which is part of Ubuntu’s X and Mesa plans. X.Org Server 1.9 isn’t going to be officially released until later this month, but the Ubuntu 10.10 feature freeze is coming up this week so the existing X.Org Server 1.8.2 release is being replaced with an X.Org Server 1.9 snapshot until the final release is made available.

  • Applications

    • Legal DVD Playback Coming to Linux?

      The next question is will Linux developers wish to test the waters by including libdvdcss in their distributions? While the libdvdcss available for Linux systems has never been expressly challenged, its DeCSS-like decryption prevents many distributions from including it for fear of legal issues. One would hope that Garcia’s decision will alleviate those fears, but given the Copyright Office’s lack of exemption for Linux, it certainly looks like users will have to continue to install the needed decryption software themselves.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Quake Live lives

        QUAKE PLAYERS REJOICE as ID Software has finally taken Quake Live out of beta and announced incentive packages.

        ID launched ‘Premium’ and ‘Pro’ services today for the web browser-based, ninja-speed frag-fest Quake Live.

      • Quake LIVE Pro and Premium packages

        Playing Quake, an all action First Person Shooter, inside your browser window was completely mythical five years ago. But the free game phenomenon now has some pay-to-play options for those wanting more from their browser based bangs.

  • Distributions

    • Debian Family

      • Goodbye-Microsoft.com

        You click on the gNewSense icon on the page at http://goodbye-microsoft.com and start a download of the installer which you run to install a bootloader for the real GNU/Linux installer.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • New Video: Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx Review

          Introducing: The best Ubuntu yet?

          Since its release a month ago I have been testing Ubuntu 10.04, Lucid Lynx, and I have been pleasantly surprised by the improvements in this version of my favorite distribution of Linux. It really is faster, better looking, and more feature-rich than ever. In this video review I give my thoughts about the operating system, and how it compares to Windows.

        • A Funny Thing Happened in the Shuttleworth Forum

          What was especially interesting about a recent conversation Mark Shuttleworth started with musings about tribalism and treating people with respect was the turn it took when blogger Mairin Duffy steered it in the direction of the “Great Sexism Debate,” in which Shuttleworth’s unfortunate remarks about women at LinuxCon played an incendiary role. “Did you ever end up apologizing?” Duffy asked.

        • An Update to the Ubuntu Light Themes

          One of our key objectives when we started conceptualising the new themes was their ability to be immediately recognisable as Ubuntu, even if represented as a small screenshot. As easily recognised as when it used to be brown – but not that brown… the incarnation that we initially launched was a bold new statement: a little unrefined maybe, but a good starting block on which to build.

        • Ubuntu Devs Discuss Backports Changes
        • Ubuntu: “We have no plans to fork GNOME”

          derStandard.at: Looking back at Lucid, are you happy with how the release turned out to be?

          Jono Bacon: Personally I’m really happy, Lucid is a really great release. With every release we try to invest more and more in building a really strong user experience and it felt for me that with Lucid a lot of this has been coming together. There are always things to be fixed – we are developers so we look at the defects as opposed to the things that work after all – but generally we’re pretty happy.

        • LoCo Team Calendars!
        • Ubuntu Global Jam – Coming very soon

          This year the Ubuntu Global Jam will take place over the weekend of 27th – 29th August and it’s a great opportunity to work together to improve Ubuntu. Everyone is able to contribute to the Jam, and everyone is welcome and encouraged to get involved. It’s for all levels so don’t be put off thinking it’s only about development and looking at bugs for the weekend, there are loads of areas to help.

          The Ubuntu Global Jam incorporates events that have been organized over the world to get Ubuntu contributors and fans together to have a great time and improve Ubuntu. Each event has one or more of our themes:

          * Bugs – finding, triaging and fixing bugs.
          * Testing – testing the new release and reporting your feedback.
          * Upgrade – upgrading to Maverick from Lucid and reporting your upgrade experience.
          * Documentation – writing documentation about how to use Ubuntu and how to join the community.
          * Translations – translating Ubuntu and helping to make it available in everyone’s local language.
          * Packaging – work on Ubuntu packages and improve them.
          * Other – other types of contribution such as marketing and advocacy etc.

        • Flavours and Variants

          • Uberstudent: The students’ Linux

            There are so many Linux distributions out there it’s dizzying. Some are simply respins of various base distributions with a different theme or maybe one or two specific applications thrown in for good measure. Sometimes it’s hard to reason why someone actually created a new distribution because there’s so closely resembles the distribution they used as a base. And then there’s Uberstudent. Uberstudent is a Linux distribution, built upon Ubuntu, that targets students in higher-education settings. It’s goal is to become a perfect platform to aid in the process of education. It is, essentially, a learning platform and to this end it succeeds with aplomb, elegance, and power.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Dell Streak review

          There are two questions many people tend to ask when they first see Dell’s Streak. The first is usually “what is it?” And the second, following a slightly puzzled look, is “who’s it for?” On one hand it’s essentially a 5”-screen smartphone masquerading as a tablet device; on the other it’s a small-form-factor tablet pretending to be a phone. It’s a case of dual personality and whichever way you look at it, there’s no easy way to pigeonhole it. If you were to ask the folks at Dell they’d certainly err on the side of tablet, but this does little to change the fact that it’s basically a very large example of any of the latest Android-based Smartphones you can read about here or elsewhere.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Breaking down barriers for women in open source

    Recommendations for removing barriers and broadening membership among women in open-source projects were published July 16 by the FSF’s Women’s Caucus, which was formed nearly a year ago and was tasked to devise solutions to address the problem.

  • Feature: Customer Service and Open Source Software

    I am of the opinion larger open source projects (and companies) should make an effort to recruit developers who have good people skills and, at the same time, discourage their developers who lack people skills from representing the project publicly.

  • Business

    • The golden age of open source?

      Stephen O’Grady and Simon Phipps have both recently published interesting posts on the current state of open source, with Stephen pondering the relative growth of open source and Simon wondering whether the “commercial open source” bubble has burst.

      What they are describing, I believe, is the culmination of the trends we predicted at the beginning of 2009 for commercial open source business strategies – specifically the arrival of the fourth stage of commercial open source.

      What is the fourth stage of commercial open source? In short: a return to a focus on collaboration and community, as well as commercial interests.

    • An Open (Source) and Shut Case
  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Data

      • How did Weather Data Get Opened?

        Weather data is one of the datasets the current administration loves to talk about. Indeed, it’s proof that transparency goes beyond accountability. The data from the National Weather Service supports a huge industry. According to the American Meteorological Society, the total size of the private sector weather market is greater than 1.5 Billion Dollars. Keeping in mind that it isn’t its core function to support industry, a federal agency that has a billion dollar annual budget is supporting a more than billion dollar private industry through the release of its data is a great lesson in the power of open data.


  • Dominic Raab MP Tells Constituents “Don’t email me…it’s becoming a real nuisance”

    Dominic Raab, Conservative MP for Esher & Walton is threatening 38 Degrees that if we don’t take his email address off our “contact your MP system” he’ll report us to the Information Commissioner.

    We’ve been in touch with the Information Commissioner and they’ve reassured us that because he is an MP and his e-mail address is in the public domain, he has no grounds to report us.

  • Media Campaign Against Craigslist Continues, As WaPo Writes Article About Its Own Anti-Craigslist Advertiser

    Last week, we wrote about how the misguided, politics-driven media campaign against Craigslist was ramping up again with a half-page ad in The Washington Post, obviously targeted at DC politicians. Paul Levy, who had sent over a scan of the ad now alerts us that the very next day, the Washington Post had a one-sided anti-Craigslist article, where it cites the ad. As Levy asks, has the Washington Post now stooped so low that buying a half-page ad gets you a one-sided story? Very disappointing move by the Washington Post.

  • Congress About To Pass ‘The ______Act of____’ (These Are The People We Elect?)

    This coming Wednesday I was supposed to be attending the Congressional Internet Caucus’ State of the Net West event, but late last week it was announced that the event was postponed, because for only the third time in the past twenty years, the Speaker of the House (in this case, Nancy Pelosi) has called the House back into session early to vote on pending legislation. With Congress back in session the Congressional reps scheduled to attend the event couldn’t make it, and it’s not much of a Congressional Internet Caucus get together without Congressional reps. Anyway, the last time the House was called back early like this, it involved emergency legislation to deal with Hurricane Katrina. So what’s so important this time around? Apparently, it’s The ______Act of____.

  • Will the Salahis sue us for calling them White House party crashers?

    Kudos to attorney Lisa Bloom, who last night blasted out one of our favorite press releases of the year. In it, she warns journalists not to refer to clients Michaele and Tereq Salahi as “party crashers” because “that statement is false and defamatory.”

    Bloom might have her work cut out for her. Our quick Google search for “white house party crashers” delivers 158,000 results, the first few pages of which all feature the Salahis. And we’re pretty sure we’ve never heard Ms. Salahi, currently starring on Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of D.C.,” referred to as anything except “White House party crasher Michaele Salahi.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Climate change: helping nature survive the human response
    • Colombia must stop coca fumigations

      The impact of the widespread spraying on the local communities has been devastating. The planes have targeted not just illegal coca plants, but all vegetation, including staple crops that local populations depend upon. Rivers have been contaminated, and elderly people and children have been particularly badly affected by skin rashes and asthmatic attacks. There are also unconfirmed reports of congenital malformations occurring as a result of these herbicide fumigations. Many of us have a long-standing commitment to the communities in the region, which we have visited many times. We know what we are talking about.

  • Finance

    • What the £35,000 cocktail taught us

      When it comes to crises, this former IMF chief economist knows what he’s talking about. Nowadays, analysts who claim they spotted this bust coming far outnumber musicians who swear blind they saw the Sex Pistols play Manchester’s Free Trade Hall in 1976. But Rajan really did, bravely telling America’s bubble-blower-in-chief Alan Greenspan just that at a 2005 conference.

      So when Rajan names as the first of his fractures the gap between America’s rich and the rest, it’s worth paying attention. The reasoning is simple: since middle-American families saw barely any increase in their wages over the last decade, they were forced to borrow dangerous amounts to buy houses, to keep up living standards – or simply to keep from falling behind. As he points out, Clinton and Bush allowed this lethal explosion in credit as it was “the path of least resistance”. Clamping down on all those dodgy home and car loans and credit cards would have been tantamount to sticking two fingers up at their own voters.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Lobbyists celebrate departure of White House ethics chief

      Champagne corks are popping on K Street as the White House’s ethics chief Norm Eisen is heading out with an appointment as ambassador to the Czech Republic. The New York Times reports that heavywieght Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta is calling Eisen’s departure, “the biggest lobbying success [lobbyists] had all year.”

      Eisen spearheaded major White House efforts to increase transparency and slow the movement from government to the lobbying sector. These projects included the online publication of White House visitor logs, lobbyist contact disclosure for Recovery Act projects and TARP money, the Open Government Directive and imposing tight controls on the hiring of lobbyists and the contacting of former officials turned lobbyists.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Israel releases Mordechai Vanunu after three months in prison

      After leaking secret nuclear details in 1986 Vanunu was kidnapped in a honeytrap set by Mossad agents in Rome.

    • Commentary: For reporters, the rules at Guantanamo change daily

      Guantanamo’s Camp Justice is a place where you can sit at your laptop or by your phone only if there’s a member of the military within earshot.

      It’s a place where you can go to court only in the custody of a military public affairs officer. Inside, if there’s only one escort — this happened recently — and somebody has to go to the bathroom, every reporter has to leave court, too.

      It’s a place where a soldier stands over your shoulder, looks in your viewfinder and says ‘Don’t take that picture, I’ll delete it.’

    • An obscene attack on Maltese culture

      In the last year, the Maltese government has banned the play Stitching from being performed, has arrested and put students on trial for writing and publishing an “obscene” story, and has prevented the artist Alexander Stankovski from exhibiting paintings which contained nudity. The updated criminal code will make public obscenity or blasphemy in public punishable by up to a year in jail, even if the words or sentiments are part of a work of fiction, theatre, or art.

    • National Conference of State Legislatures Calls for Major Reform of U.S. Trade Pact Model as Battle Looms Over Renegotiation of Bush’s Korea FTA

      The National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) approval today of a resolution calling on the Obama administration to make significant reforms to the past U.S. trade agreement model is yet another indication of the nationwide, bipartisan demand for the administration to implement the president’s campaign commitments to trade reform, Public Citizen said.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • It’s Back: Totally Unnecessary And Damaging Fashion Copyright Bill Reintroduced

      So, of course, fashion designers and politicians keep doing it. Pretty much every year Chuck Schumer trots out just such a bill, and this year is no different. Reader Steve Phillips points us to the announcement of the bill being introduced and ReallyEvilCanine points us to a celebratory post by a professor who was involved in drafting the bill. This time around the bill has Senators Boxer, Feinstein, Hatch, Graham & Hutchison as co-sponsors, so there’s quite a bit of firepower, as they seek to build up protectionist policies that may benefit a few top designers, but will significantly harm up-and-comers. Just as we’ve seen throughout history, intellectual property protections lag innovation, rather than cause it. That’s because the top players in the space use those laws to reduce, not enhance, competition. This is no exception.

    • Copyrights

      • A Day In The Life Of Legalized Extortion: How The BMI Shakedown Works

        A bunch of you sent in this NY Times puff piece that basically follows around a BMI “enforcer,” for a day, watching as she tries to get restaurants, clubs, bars, skating rinks, etc. to pay up for playing music in their establishments. It’s all legal, but it has all the hallmarks of a pure shakedown — which is why operations like BMI and ASCAP are notorious for doing more harm than good, by making it much more difficult for up-and-coming musicians to find venues to play in. Many venues simply stop playing music, rather than deal with expensive BMI/ASCAP licenses. On top of that, because of the way these systems work, they tend to funnel money disproportionately to big name artists, again harming less well known songwriters. BMI, in fact, has been particularly obnoxious about this. Last year, when a songwriter who had not received any of the promised royalties was brought up, BMI responded that it wasn’t their problem, and “I would like to tell him is that he needs to write a hit song.” Nice, huh?

      • The Music-Copyright Enforcers
      • Access Copyright’s excessive $45 per university student proposed tariff – August 11, 2010 deadline

        This is the first in more to come about the proposed $45 per university student tariff – a more than 1,300 % increase over the current basic charge. Access Copyright (“AC”),the proponent, is probably Canada’s fastest growing and least understood collectives. It started out as a reprography collective right after the 1988 reform package was proclaimed. Its initial cash flow came conveniently from a lucrative multimillion dollar contact with the Federal Government. It has since managed, with little effective resistance, to convince Canadian provincial governments, school boards, colleges and universities to pay well over $30 million a year into its coffers. The only actual Copyright Board challenge to date that has gone to fruition resulted in a big loss for the K-12 school boards and the provinces ultimately behind them under the umbrella of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (“CMEC”). This loss was recently confirmed by the Federal Court of Appeal. More about this and whether this case will go to the Supreme Court of Canada below.

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