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08.27.10

Links 27/8/2010: ZaReason Verix Laptop Reviewed, Btrfs Matures

Posted in News Roundup at 4:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Review: ZaReason Verix Laptop

      One of the challenges of being a Linux desktop user is the difficulty in finding systems that ship with Linux pre-installed. Major OEMs often offer a handful of Linux offerings, but to get a wider range of hardware and choices of Linux distributions you have to look to smaller vendors that are really interested in promoting Linux — like ZaReason.

      ZaReason sells a full line of Linux machines, desktops, laptops, netbooks, and servers. They also sell peripherals and some other gear, but what I was most interested in was a laptop with Linux. Specifically, a laptop with muscle. So I asked ZaReason to send me a review unit, the Verix 1656 with Intel’s Core i7 and maxed out RAM.

      [...]

      The Verix gets two thumbs up. It’s not perfect, but it’s a really good laptop and one I’d recommend to anyone who wants a solid and speedy Linux laptop. My main complaint with the Verix? It’s a review unit, which means I have to send it back. If you buy one, though, you won’t have that problem.

  • Kernel Space

    • Next Generation of Btrfs Linux Filesystem Nears Prime Time

      Since at least 2008, the Btrfs Linux filesystem has been talked about as a next-generation technology one day potentially rivalling or supplanting the current dominant Linux filesystems.

      According to Chris Mason, founder of the Btrfs effort and now director of software development at Oracle, Btrfs is today generally stable and usable even though it’s yet to be finalized. And although he admits the filesystem still has some issues to overcome as development continues, Mason said he would like to see Btrfs ultimately replacing existing Linux filesystems like the popular Ext3 and Ext4 systems that are often the default on enterprise Linux distributions.

    • No BTRFS In Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat After all

      A while ago we were telling you there are 20% chances to get BTRFS support in Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat. Well, it didn’t make it.

  • Applications

    • Inkscape 0.48 review
    • Review: Backupninja backups for Linux

      When you hear the word “backup,” what do you think? Critical? Complicated? Costly? When you think of backing up Linux desktops or servers what do you think? You don’t? You run screaming? Thankfully that is not necessary. There are tons of tools in the Linux-verse capable of running a multitude of backs. From the overly simple to the overly complex, in Linux you can find a tool for just about every situation and every experience level.

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • Kontact: How does it compare to the competition?

        With all of this talk about KDE 4.5 lately, I thought I should take a moment to mention a tool that hasn’t had much (or any) talk here on Ghacks. That tool is Kontact. But what is Kontact? Kontact is the KDE groupware suite that includes more tools than your standard suite, has a lot of pluses, and a few minuses. But even with its minuses, Kontact is a spot-on tool for anyone needing a solid groupware suite to keep them as organized as possible.

  • Distributions

    • How to Choose a Desktop Linux Distribution

      With all the many reasons to use Linux today–particularly in a business setting–it’s often a relatively easy decision to give Windows the boot. What can be more difficult, however, is deciding which of the hundreds of Linux distributions out there is best for you and your business.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Jefferies says Red Hat still well-positioned to capture share in Federal IT

        Jefferies & Co. maintained its ‘buy’ rating on business software company Red Hat Inc. with a price target of $35.

        “We believe Red Hat continues to be well-positioned to capture share in Federal IT, but the new 8 year, $2 billion social security administration (SSA) claims processing contract is likely to be spread across many vendors. If Red Hat does win a portion of it, they could be displacing International Business Machine Corp.,” said Katherine Egbert, an analyst at Jefferies.

    • Debian Family

      • Debian at 17: As Important as Ever

        Debian kicked off when Linux distributions were still a relatively novel concept. The only older surviving distro is Slackware, Red Hat didn’t enter the picture until 1994. Depending on how you look at it, Debian either enjoys a very small niche user base, or one of the largest of any Linux distribution. Strictly speaking, Debian is widely (though it’s hard to say how widely) deployed on servers and not quite as popular on desktop systems compared to Fedora, Linux Mint, or Ubuntu.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source media Centre Boxee adds Movie Library

    Following its launch as public beta in January of this year, the Boxee developers have announced the release of a new beta – version 0.9.22.13692 – of their popular part-open-source cross-platform media centre with social networking and community features. According to Boxee VP of Marketing Andrew Kippen, the latest public beta adds “the foundations of a new Movie Library to complement the TV Show Library”.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Education for the open web fellowship: new deadline

        In May, Mozilla and the Shuttleworth Foundation announced a new Education for the Open Web Fellowship. The aim is to support practical ideas that help people learn about, improve and promote the open nature of the internet, as part of our commitment to supporting leaders working at the intersection of open education and the open web.

      • Firefox 3.6.9 release candidate rocks up for sturdy testers

        Mozilla pumped out a release candidate version of Firefox 3.6.9 yesterday.

        The pre-beta update is intended only for brave souls willing and able to have a poke around in the unfinished code.

  • Oracle

    • The long, sordid tale of Sun RPC, abbreviated somewhat, to protect the guily and the irresponsible.

      Once upon a time (1984), Sun created an RPC implementation for Unix, with the intent of implementing RFC 707 (High-level framework for network-based resource sharing). Now, in those days, a good way to ensure that people used code that you wrote was to upload it to usenet, and in 1985, Sun did that. (Google has one of the posts archived here: Sun RPC part 8 of 10)

    • An update on JavaOne

      Like many of you, every year we look forward to the workshops, conferences and events related to open source software. In our view, these are among the best ways we can engage the community, by sharing our experiences and learning from yours. So we’re sad to announce that we won’t be able to present at JavaOne this year. We wish that we could, but Oracle’s recent lawsuit against Google and open source has made it impossible for us to freely share our thoughts about the future of Java and open source generally. This is a painful realization for us, as we’ve participated in every JavaOne since 2004, and I personally have spoken at all but the first in 1996.

  • Licensing

    • Should Open Source Communities Avoid Contributor Agreements?

      A collaborative activity dubbed Project Harmony is now under way between corporate and corporate-sponsored participants in the free and open source software communities (not to be confused with the Apache Java project of the same name). The project seeks to harmonise the various participant and contributor agreements – collectively termed “contributor agreements” by some – used by many open source projects.

      The goal of the project’s initiators is to reduce the legal costs of analysing paperwork faced by companies contributing to open source projects. Initiated and sponsored by Canonical, meetings have already been held several times under the Chatham House Rule, including one recently during LinuxCon in Boston. The participants also number several people who are skeptical of the value of copyright aggregation, myself included. At the meeting I was asked to write about my skepticism; this article is the result. I’m by no means the first to tread this ground; you’ll also want to read the earlier article by Dave Neary, and the comprehensive article by Michael Meeks ends with a useful list of other articles.

Leftovers

  • “Legislative Guidance” on Fair Dealing: The Plan to Reverse CCH?

    My post this week on several writers groups objections to Bill C-32 has generated considerable discussion, with some taking me to task for focusing on their letter’s warning of “unintended consequences,””years of costly litigation,” and “serious damage to the cultural sector.” Instead, they argue that I should have focused on the call for additional “legislative guidance” on the fair dealing reforms. After all, who could be against greater clarity in the law?

    In the discussion that has followed, I believe that it has become increasingly clear that the “legislative guidance” is not really about the fair dealing reforms found in C-32, but rather fair dealing more generally. Unfortunately, the writers’ letter only speaks of their concerns and does not provide any specific policy or legislative reform recommendations that would clarify their intentions. However, with the government having opened up the fair dealing provision, those groups may see an opportunity to reverse the Supreme Court of Canada’s CCH decision that characterized fair dealing as a user right and established guidelines for its interpretation.

  • USA Today shaking up staff in ‘radical’ overhaul

    USA Today, the nation’s second largest newspaper, is making the most dramatic overhaul of its staff in its 28-year history as it de-emphasizes its print edition and ramps up its effort to reach more readers and advertisers on mobile devices.

  • Security/Aggression

    • Pentagon Official Reveals Computer Security Breach… As Part Of Effort To Get More Power Over Critical Infrastructure?

      We’ve already noted that various government officials have been engaging in a massive hype campaign about “cyberwar” threats, in an effort to get more control over certain networks. But there’s also a bit of an inter-departmental battle within government agencies over who should get to control these new powers

    • Massive computer outage halts some Va. agencies

      A failure of servers at Virginia’s centralized information technology superagency has left several state agencies unable to do their work.

      At least two dozen agencies were affected by the Wednesday afternoon crash at the problem-plagued Virginia Information Technologies Agency.

    • Armed America: Portraits of Gun Owners in Their Homes

      Kyle Cassidy traveled 15,000 miles over two years photographing Americans in their homes and asking one question: “Why do you own a gun?” A good question, particularly since most of these guns are not easily reconcilable with the notion of self-defence and their true place should be somewhere in the Armed Forces.

    • MalCon: A Call for ‘Ethical Malcoding’

      I was pretty bummed this year when I found out that a previous engagement would prevent me from traveling to Las Vegas for the annual back-to-back Black Hat and Defcon security conventions. But I must say I am downright cranky that I will be missing MalCon, a conference being held in Mumbai later this year that is centered around people in the “malcoder community.”

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Why Does The NY Times Rely So Often On Single Anecdote Trend Pieces Not Supported By The Data?

      We saw it more recently in the NY Times piece we wrote about claiming that cable TV was winning against the internet by purposely keeping authorized content offline, based off of a single anecdote of a guy who ditched his cable subscription only to go back a year later… just a day or so before the stats came out showing that people are actually ditching their cable connections.

    • NC State Senator Admits Broadband Companies Wrote His Bill & Says He ‘Carries Water’ For Companies

      What was most interesting about the situation in North Carolina, however, was how blatant state politicians were in highlighting that it was really the broadband companies who were calling the shots. In our story from April of 2009, it was noted that when the state representatives sponsoring the bill were asked questions about it during a committee hearing, they asked Time Warner employees to answer for them. Think about that for a second. The sponsors of the bill couldn’t answer the questions, so they asked industry folks to answer instead. We had thought that was about as blatant as a politician could be in admitting that the bill was actually written by the industry and that the politicians didn’t even understand what they were sponsoring.

    • Salisbury to test fiber-optic cable system

      One local on-ramp to the Internet just got a lot bigger and lightning fast.

      The city of Salisbury begins beta testing of a brand new fiber-optic cable system next month.

      Salisbury and North Carolina’s Municipal League have overcome strong objections from a powerful state senator, Sen. David Hoyle of Gaston County, who supports the cable companies who say local government competition is unfair.

      After the implosion of the textile industry, Salisbury is trying to weave a new future with new fibers; fiber-optic cable.

    • State Senator Admits Cable Industry Helped Write Pro-Industry Legislation
  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • ENDitorial: Leaked draft of the new Czech Copyright Act

        A leaked draft of the new Czech Copyright Act was obtained by Pirate News at the beginning of August 2010, after the Ministry of Culture has initially declined the request of Czech Pirate Party to have access to the document three days after the draft was sent out for feedback to organizations affected by the proposal. The draft presents a storm of “improvements” which grant millions of euro from public sector budgets to collecting societies.

        [...]

        That means that in order to achieve free distribution of copylefted work, the author has to notify the collecting society and he carries the burden of proof, that is, he has to prove that license has been provided, or if you like, the user of gratuitous license has to prove the collecting society has been notified, which is even harder. The amendment draft thus violates the declared support of public licenses.

      • Czech Gov’t Drafting Copyright Bill to Legally Gut Creative Commons, Chop Creators Royalties By Nearly Half

        If you ever thought that no one would ever actually legally attack Creative Commons and, if they did, you’d hear about it, consider this the article you “hear about it”. A draft copyright bill from the Czech Republic has leaked online and it may be one of the most disturbing copyright bills ever created.

      • Pirate Bay Receives Notice To Keep a Torrent

        The founder of the small software company Coding Robots was shocked when he found out that one of his works had been cracked and shared on The Pirate Bay. However, instead of asking The Pirate Bay to remove the torrent the company’s founder did quite the opposite. He sent a ‘Notice of Ridiculous Activity’ because the crack didn’t live up to his expectations.

      • Music Royalties Strangle Playlist.com

        Now called simply Playlist, the site allows users to create and share playlists using either song files that are hosted by the company itself or on third-party servers. When it plays the files that live on playlist.com, the service racks up millions of dollars in royalty costs. When the files play from external servers, the site functions, in a sense, as a playable search engine.

        As the screenshot from its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing shows (right), Project Playlist now owes millions of dollars in royalty costs to each of the major labels for playback of the music it hosted, having finally reached licensing agreements with all four major labels by May of this year. Those hard-won licensing agreements may well spell doom for Playlist.com, as they have for so many other start-ups.

      • DCC, Bittorrent and Usenet – Is Bittorrent so great?

        Before the days of the Internet when computers with 48k were deemed sufficient, I was one of a few who were accessing Micronet. Little did I know at the time (when I was downloading lawfully free software onto tape) was that I was taking the first steps into what would be a global phenomena and eventually something which would become so large, even the best of ISP’s could buckle under the demand to feed their end users hunger for data.

      • Open Bytes article – ‘DCC, Bittorrent and Usenet – Is Bittorrent so great?’ – is Tim wrong?

        It is unlikely that online copyright infringement would ever stop, no matter what was done, however it’s like smoking cigarettes. Smoking cigarettes was once socially acceptable. It no longer is socially acceptable. Or drunk driving – at one time everyone did it, now it’s so socially unacceptable that very few do so anymore.

        The curious thing is that all of the laws which have been enacted, appear to have had virtually no effect on online copyright infringement. What has had a huge effect was legal options. People love to show their appreciation for value, especially when they can show that appreciation directly to the artist, or software developer.

      • Don Henley Still Really Confused: Actually Claims Copyright Office Is Not An Advocate For Copyright Holders

        This is incredibly laughable if you know anything about the Copyright Office, which has been the leader in pushing for ever more draconian copyright law and has a history of almost always siding with content creators over the public. The 1976 Copyright Act, which completely flipped copyright on its head in this country came out of the Copyright Office, and some of the same folks are still there (including the boss, Marybeth Peters) — and haven’t changed their opinion much. Peters, in particular, has always been a staunch supporter of copyright holders over the public.

      • Disney, WB Claim Ad Firm Working With Pirate Sites Is Guilty Of Contributory Infringement

        So, the websites themselves are already pretty far removed from the actual infringement. The files are hosted on other sites. They’re shared by other people. These sites just allow users to post links. And… then on top of that the studios aren’t even suing these sites, which are a few steps away from the actual infringement: they’re suing this ad firm, which is another degree of separation away. Wow.

      • ACTA

        • Dutch Green Left party has concerns about the ACTA Treaty

          Dutch political party Green Left (Groen Links) is completely fed up with the ACTA Treaty’s haziness, reports Webwereld. One of Webwereld’s readers tipped off Mariko Peters (GL) about ACTA’s continuing secret negotiations as well as contradictions in communications about possible changes in Dutch law as a result of the Treaty. Maria van der Hoeven, Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs replied.

        • ACTA: An international threat to freedom and liberty

          ACTA is the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, which is currently being negotiated, largely in secret, between the United States, the EU and 9 other countries.2 This draft agreement seeks to regulate a wide range of copyright, patents and trademark issues, including, most controversially, providing for additional regulation of the Internet. There have been a number of leaks (here, here, here and here) and the European Commission published an official draft text on 22 April.

          ACTA is a covert attempt, at the global level, to further reduce the public interest element in copyright, patents and trademarks, in the balance between the rights of creators, users, and the public at large, without proper debate and scrutiny in each nation state. The current form of ACTA is a threat to future innovation and freedom of citizens. ACTA is primarily driven by the US and the EU. Developing countries such as India and Brazil have been shut out of the process from the start.

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