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08.29.10

Links 29/8/2010: ZaReason Laptops, Fennec for Android and Nokia N900

Posted in News Roundup at 5:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • ES: Andalusia government studying switch to open source desktop

    The government of Andalusia, one of Spain’s autonomous regions, is preparing to use a complete open source desktop environment. The analysis of requirements of such a desktop system is nearly completed, the next step will be a few small scale tests, according to a presentation by José Félix Ontañón, one of the software developers involved.

    Ontañón talked about the plans by the Andalusian government at the Guadec conference that took place in The Hague, Netherlands, last month.

    For the first test, several work stations in the administration will be running a number of open source applications on the proprietary operating system currently used by the administration. In a second phase, a limited number of these desktops will be converted to run a locally tailored version of a Linux distribution.

  • Live Penguins

    I was in the Digital booth, which was near to the “Magic Software” booth when two men came up to the Magic booth and asked to see the penguins. The handler explained that the penguins were “resting” and the two men should come back in a couple of hours to see them. As the two people started to leave, I walked up to the group and said to the penguin handler “See that guy?” pointing to one of them, “None of this event would be here if it was not for him…..his name is Linus Torvalds. Show him the freaking penguins.” The handler then brought the penguins out, and Linus saw them and went on his way.

    The next day a lady showed up with her two small children, one in a baby carriage, and asked to see the penguins. She was also told to “come back in a couple of hours”. The small entourage started to leave, and once again I wandered over to the booth:

    “Remember that guy who was here yesterday who was the architect of the Linux kernel? This is his wife and two daughters, and my godchildren……get out the freaking penguins!”

    About a month after Linuxworld I got a call from the show management. Apparently someone had written to the San Francisco Chronicle about how horrible it was that live penguins were “taken from the wild” and made to perform at the event, their “eyes open wide with fear”.

  • Leveraging proprietary software at the expense of customers

    This behavior seems to be more and more common. The more specialized the software is, the more this seems to take place, too. The software vendors know their leveraging capabilities, and seem to adjust their pricing accordingly. They also lock in customers and use the same type of scheme that Microsoft does, thus forcing them to upgrade and pay over and over again.

    As I have stated before, practice like this can be completely avoided by using open source software, which is immune to upgrade pricing, licenses, and other flaws of proprietary software. In the case here, I already know of an open source software package that could be used in its place, it’s called gLabels. But this would involve a lot of migration that is difficult to overcome. The options need to be weighed out, and action taken.

  • Desktop

    • My ZaReason Laptop

      My new laptop is a machine which ZaReason was carrying until recently. It seems they have massively upgraded the version I currently have which provides me with a bit of jealousy and awe. For being an inexpensive machine it is plenty powerful for what I need. It is actually really damn powerful! It boasts an Intel Core 2 Duo T7100, 4 GB of memory, 160GB SATA drive, a NVIDIA GeForce 9200M, a 15.4″ widescreen display, camera, DVD burner, Gigabit Ethernet, WiFi, and the lists goes on. Hell, this thing even has HDMI, which I am proud to say, it is the only device in my house with such an option. Anyone have a high definition TV for me so I can test it out? :)

    • ZaReason Terra HD

      Oh yeah, I always see people comment on blogs where Linux-laptop vendors are mentioned that they wish there was a company in their country selling these. Guess what? ZaReason ships internationally!

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Linux Outlaws 165 – Hairy Fridays

      On the last show for a few weeks: Steam not coming to Linux, new Ubuntu release name announced, Intel buys McAfee, Linux gets Google Voice and Video Chat, Dan’s review of the HTC Desire and much more…

  • Kernel Space

    • More Patches To Improve Linux Desktop Responsiveness

      About one month ago we reported on the emergence of patches that may fix the Linux desktop responsiveness problems, which is an issue that’s been experienced by many Linux desktop users in recent years. For Linux users it may take many seconds for a menu to appear when clicking on it or a half-minute to do a VT switch, but fortunately it’s becoming a thing of the past with these patches working well for many users and has since been integrated into the mainline Linux kernel. The story though is not over as even more patches have just been published to further improve the Linux desktop responsiveness.

    • Using Disk Compression With Btrfs To Enhance Performance

      Earlier this month we delivered benchmarks comparing the ZFS, EXT4, and Btrfs file-systems from both solid-state drives and hard drives. The EXT4 file-system was the clear winner in terms of the overall disk performance while Btrfs came in second followed by Sun’s ZFS in FreeBSD 8.2. It was a surprise that in our most recent testing the EXT4 file-system turned around and did better than the next-generation Btrfs file-system, but it turns out that Btrfs regressed hard in Linux 2.6.35 as to be found in Ubuntu 10.10 and other soon-to-be-released distributions. However, regardless of where Btrfs is performing, its speed can be boosted by enabling its transparent zlib compression support.

    • DRBD: For When it Absolutely, Positively, Has to be in Sync

      DRBD is a kernel loadable module, and as of kernel 2.6.33 it is included with the mainline kernel. If you are running a Linux server that has any level of kernel revision past 2.6.33, you already have drbd available, and at most will need to load the management tools. If your server is older than that, you will need to download the tools and the loadable module to get it running.

    • Graphics Stack

      • NVIDIA 256.52 Linux Driver Brings Fixes

        What this driver update though does provide is a fix that previously prevented XvMC (X-Video Motion Compensation) from initializing (but if there’s anyone still using XvMC in NVIDIA’s binary driver, you should really update your application and driver to utilize the much superior VDPAU API), support for the xorg-server 8 video ABI used by X.Org Server 1.9, a bug that caused extremely slow OpenGL rendering when on X screens other than screen zero when a compositing manager was in use, stability problems on select GPUs such as the GeForce GT 240, a slow kernel virtual address space leak with OpenGL/CUDA/VDPAU applications, and lastly is a bug-fix for hangs when using two or more VDPAU applications simultaneously.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • KDE Release Party in Madrid
      • New KDE Desktop! Version 4.5 not perfect, but much better!

        So of course, while I’m spending a glorious and relaxing week hanging out in Boulder, Colorado, the KDE community is working overtime fixing a few showstopper bugs. Version 4.5 of the KDE Software Collection (also known as KDE SC) was released Tuesday, a week late from the original release plan, but it looks like a pretty good one.

      • Updates on Plasma land!

        Playing with dataengines I started to hack on another topic: sharing of articles on Akregator. I started to feel too much dependent on Google’s infrastructure and decided to move some of my stuff “out of the cloud”. I started with Google Reader and put all my feeds on Akregator. Kudos for Google for allowing me to export my list of feeds and kudos to Akregator that imports the file. Everybody is happy and Google is not evil trying to hold my data.

      • KDE 4.5 Window tiling

        Fast-forward to now and Microsoft claims to have innovated a new feature. Soon after that KDE refines the same feature and ads it into 4.4. Of course 4.4 was still suffering from numerous bugs. Fast-forward a little bit further into now and you have 4.5 which squashes tons of bugs and offers an amazing desktop that includes a bug-free tiling experience!

  • Distributions

    • Hands On With The VIA ARTiGO A1100

      Overall, I would say that SliTaz is the best fit. Seeing as most things worked fairly well right away, and no closed-source code was needed (this is an opensource blog after all) I would rate SliTaz an 8 of 10. The only reason for point docking being that overall performance left something to be desired. The best performance goes to Slackware. The boot time was bad, but once booted Slackware was a charm.

    • A few notes for Arch Linux

      Probably 95 percent of the Arch screenshots you see include a nifty logo and rundown on the guts of a system. For example …

    • New Releases

      • BlankOn 6.1 (Sajadah)
      • Elastix 2.0.2
      • NuTyX 25082010
      • Clonezilla 1.2.6-11
      • AUSTRUMI 2.1.7
      • Mandriva Linux 2010.1

        Mandriva Linux 2010 Spring is available in three editions: One, Powerpack and Free, for architectures i586 and x86-64. One and Free can be free downloaded from official Mandriva mirrors and via BitTorrent. To download these versions, visit this page. A Community version (community supported) based on Xfce of the One version will also be available. You can also download directly via BitTorrent from this page. The Powerpack version is a commercial version available for purchase on the Mandriva Store site. For more information on differences between versions, visit this page.

      • Parted Magic 5.4 Moves to Linux Kernel 2.6.35.3 to Fix Issue

        Just a few days after Parted Magic 5.3 came out, an update was released, mainly to fix an issue affecting the previous release. Parted Magic 5.4 fixes an issue which caused keyboard input to slow down. Despite the short time between releases, several other issues have been fixed as well and some packages updated.

      • NetSecL 3.0 Released

        It was time for a change and we at NetSecL realized that, the new version of NetSecL 3.0 is a live DVD + installation based on OpenSuse. Once installed you can fully enjoy the features of GrSecurity hardened kernel and penetration tools OR if you like to do some penetration testing you can directly run all tools from the live DVD. NetSecL firewall is included as always and most of the penetration tools are ported to the new platform. Also we’d like to mention that we’ve got many other programs up and running with GrSecurity enabled, which is great success especially when it comes to programs like wine, OpenOffice, Vuze, Qemu and many gnome applications. The password for both admin and root user on the DVD is linux.

      • Lunar Linux 1.6.5 (i686 & x86_64) ISO’s released

        The Lunar team proudly announce the final release of Lunar Linux 1.6.5 codename ‘Mare Ingenii’!

        The last known issues with the ISO have been resolved. We added support for hybrid ISO in the last minute, which mean it’s a lot more easy to install lunar from an usb-stick from now on. The developers are currently brainstorming and voting on ideas to further improve the state of Lunar, an announcement about this will be made later. We also plan to let our users, yes you, to chip in with ideas that will be up for voting within our community, but more on that later. Enjoy the release of Lunar 1.6.5!

    • Red Hat Family

      • Fedora

        • Fedora Users gather together in Switzerland

          One highlight is the Wired Dreams party on Friday, 2010-09-17, after the first event day just next to the primary event location featuring free (as in creative commons) live music and delicious free beer (with some mugs in form of free as in free beer).

        • What I want from Fedora

          Fedora doesn’t suck, but it could be a lot more useful to a lot more people. And either I am right, or I am wrong. Policy, feedback, goals, all of these things will determine how many of the things I would like to see are feasible, in line with Fedora’s longer term vision, and so forth. So let’s see a very specific vision and direction and all be much happier for it.

    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

    • HD-ready IP set-top offers Android integration

      According to In Media, an existing version of the !ROFL is running an In Fusion software stack, — presumably based on another version of embedded Linux — that is said to be already shipping in handheld devices in China.

    • Next-gen ARM cores break memory barrier, add hypervisor support

      ARM Holdings has provided new details about its next-generation Cortex-A series processor core, currently code-named “Eagle.” In a presentation at this week’s “Hot Chips” conference, the company described relevant extensions to its ARMv7-A architecture, including hypervisor extensions and the ability to address more than 4GB of RAM.

    • Phones

      • Open Source Phone Tech Could Result in Cell Carrier Rate Drop

        According to Engineering for Change blogger Rob Goodier, cell phone carriers could cut costs and pass savings on to customers by taking advantage of the open source technology created by a team of engineers in the telecom industry.

      • Android

        • Sprint Epic 4G Rooted Before Launch

          Members of the Android community have done it again by gaining root access on the unreleased Samsung Epic 4G. This device is not yet available to the public, but as you can see, some lucky folks who already have the device have already done it. Those of you who plan on rooting your Epic 4G on launch day, the method already works. That makes 3 out of 4 Galaxy S devices rooted so far. Let’s see if the Fascinate can meet the same fate before launch.

        • Fennec: Firefox For Android, Nokia N900

          This first Alpha release of Fennec for Android is an exciting first step in bringing browser choice and customization, along with a seamless Web experience across devices, to a leading open mobile platform. Now, developers have the power to use the latest Web technologies like HTML5, CSS and JavaScript to to build fast, powerful and beautiful mobile apps and add-ons that can reach many millions of devices.

        • Mozilla Releases Fennec Alpha for Android and Nokia N900
        • How Do Google’s Free Phone Calls Impact Chrome OS?

          Along these same lines, it’s also interesting to note that Google recently added video chat features for Gmail users on Linux. Remember that Chrome OS is positioned to work with applications and data in the cloud. It’s not positioned as an OS for local apps. If users can make VoIP calls that cost nothing or nearly nothing from their Chrome OS devices, and use all their cloud apps too, Chrome OS netbooks instantly become interesting phone/computer hybrids—as do potential Chrome OS tablet devices.

    • Tablets

      • 3 Reasons Google Should Make its own Tablets

        The Google Nexus One experiment was a success in showing the market what Android phones could do, and how competitive they could be. Having similar flagship tablets would have the same results by creating a controlled environment for development and optimization. This would accelerate adoption of the platform, which is what Google really wants. It’s not a hardware company, after all.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Getting Started As An Open Source Contributor
  • Projects

    • Add Subtitles or Captions to Any Web Video with Universal Subtitles

      The heavy lifting of subtitling a video is done via a browser-based javascript widget with tools that help users add on-screen text without re-uploading or re-transcoding the original video. The project’s Web site serves as a collaborative space where community members can work together on larger video projects, get advice, and track which captioning and subtitling requests have the greatest need. Both the widget and the Web site are licensed under the AGPL license.

    • Make Cool Interactive Maps with Polymaps

      Whether you want to display an interactive map of local farmers’ markets on your blog or you’re trying to put together a clickable map displaying branch offices on your corporate Web site, there’s a good chance Polymaps can help you get the job done. It’s a free, open source JavaScript library for making dynamic maps in a Web browser.

    • Archive Your Tweets for Posterity with yourTwapper Keeper

      Online Twitter archive service Twapper Keeper has just released yourTwapperKeeper, an MIT-licensed, server-based app that functions essentially the same way as the Web-based version. Once downloaded and installed, yourTwapperKeeper lets users define Twitter searches by keyword or hashtag and stores results locally for later retrieval.

  • Oracle

    • Java developers’ reaction to Oracle, Google lawsuit

      What do the programmers and companies that depend on the Java software family make of Oracle suing Google? To find out, we asked them.

    • Google backs out of JavaOne conference

      A quick look at the JavaOne conference schedule reveals some sessions that were to be conducted by Google, including one entitled “Cloud Cover: Testing Techniques for Google App Engine,” presented by Google software engineer Max Ross. Google also was to participate in a panel session entitled “Taking Java to the Sky: Cloud Computing 2010 Expert Panel,” as well as another session, “High-Performance Java Servers at Google,” featuring Google software engineer Dhanji Prasanna.

  • Healthcare

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • H-node

      The h-node project aims at the construction of a database of all the hardware that works with a fully free operating system. The h-node.com website is structured like a wiki in which all the users can modify or insert new contents.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Data

      • Can Work on an Open Source Map Project Make Money for its Founders?

        My old friend Serge Wroclawski has been working on OpenStreetMap.org (OSM) for a number of years now. He’s done this because he sees this as a worthwhile project — an open source, user-editable worldwide map — rather than as a way to make money. And that’s good, because Serge has made exactly $0.00 so far from his OpenStreetMap.org work. But this may change before long.

Leftovers

  • Security/Aggression

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Yes, we broke the law as climate change activists. And this is why

      Like the Greenpeace protesters who occupied Kingsnorth power station three years ago, we argued that any crimes we committed paled in comparison to runaway climate change.

      Like them, we aren’t robbers, kidnappers or terrorists. We are secretaries, parents, cooks, community workers, architects and saxophonists. We are part of a growing movement of concerned citizens who are prepared to put our bodies in the way of dangerous high-carbon developments.

    • UN report on Nigeria oil spills relies too heavily on data from Shell

      The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is preparing to issue a report announcing that 90% of the oil spills in Ogoniland, Nigeria, are caused by the locals stealing crude from pipelines – and that Shell’s aged pipelines and ill maintained installations account for a mere 10% of the spills. Why so little, we might ask?

      The UNEP has now admitted this figure is based on data from the oil industry and the Nigerian government. It’s not surprising that this is in line with what Shell used to claim in the 1980s – that about 80% of the oil spills were caused by vandalism or sabotage. This claim that infrastructure has been sabotaged is particularly attractive to oil companies, because they are then exempted from paying compensation for any resulting spills. Why accept responsibility for polluting the locals’ creeks, swamps and farmlands and destroying their livelihoods when you can blame the very same people for the mess now coating their own backyards with a toxic gloss?

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Patents, Trademarks & All that Jazz

      Ah, well! But, here I am… using a cheap laptop and running a bunch of Free Software apps written for the sake of peace and love by some hippies to write this blog post. Funny, as it might sound, I somehow feel this is the right thing to do. I mean anyone with a sane mind would rather be on the Grateful Dead’s side than Britney Spears’. What about you?

      Oops! I hope the MAFIAA doesn’t come after me for illegally linking to mp3 files in my blog post.

      Ironically, Facebook would have gone out of business if all its users stopped sharing.

    • Copyrights

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