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Links 13/2/2011: Cuba’s GNU/Linux Migration, New Mageia Interview

Posted in News Roundup at 3:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • Why You Need to Have a Linux LiveCD

      To rescue your infected PC, you first make sure the machine is turned off, and then you turn it on again with the CD, DVD or USB installed. This boots the computer directly into Linux, completely avoiding Windows and its infection.

    • Cuba Announces Migration to Open-Source Software

      More than 8,000 computers at the University of Computer Sciences (UCI) will be migrating to GNU/Linux open-source platforms, according to Abel Firvida, who is heading the open-source software project there.

      The school will be the first in the country to migrate to open-source software for such a large number of computers, Firvida told Prensa Latina, after presenting NOVA 3.0, an operating system compatible with the Ubuntu community, the largest in the world.

  • Server

    • Three little zillas from Taiwan

      Taiwan’s National Centre for High-Performance Computing is one place where a lot of good work allied to Linux goes on – but very little is heard about it.

      Perhaps that’s because the scientists who do the work are good at their work but not terribly good at pushing what they do.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Linux Outlaws 191 – Special: FOSDEM Coverage

      Dan and Fab talk about their experience at FOSDEM and interview Jared Smith (the Fedora Project Leader), Stefano Zacchiroli (the Debian Project Leader) and Ginger Coons from the Libre Graphics Magazine.

  • Ballnux

    • Samsung is backing Linux (SLP)

      While there are not any Samsung devices currently on the market running SLP, you can still support Samsung and FOSS by purchasing one of their many Android devices in the mean time or their Wave S8500 which runs on the Unix based Bada platform. Personally I am hoping that by the time I am ready to trade up my N900 a year or so from now Samsung will have some of their own Linux based handsets on the market.

      What do you think about this? Is SLP useless fragmentation in the Linux Mobile market or is it important that FOSS advocateds have more than just Android to turn to? Personally I believe it is the latter of the two, competition stimulates innovation.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • KDE Commit-Digest for 9th January 2011

        In this week’s KDE Commit-Digest:

        * Beginnings of type support for lists in KDevelop’s Python plugin
        * Cantor’s Qalculate backend is improved
        * KStars gains a feature to predict a star hopping route and dynamic switching between OpenGL and native backends
        * Marble sees improvements to the “Postition Marker” configuration dialog, gets “Earthquake” and “Overview Map” configuration dialogs and a planet option for the map creation wizard
        * Bug fixes to Plasma and its applets, KDE PIM, Phonon, and Amarok

      • Microsoft KDE?

        But then I thought about Qt and its acquisition by Nokia…

        Then I remembered the MySQL acquisition by Sun…

        Then I thought about Qt being the framework for KDE…

        Then I asked myself can KDE Free Qt Foundation stand the attack of the top US lawyers?

        Btw, if you think that this blog entry’s title is a joke imagine yourself three years ago using the product called Oracle MySQL.

      • A brief visit with Linux Mint 10 KDE edition RC

        Random Plasma Workspace crashes? Nope. This version has random complete freezes instead. But then again, I’m running from a Live CD, not a hard drive install, so I don’t know what would happen if I had the Nvidia drivers installed.

        Weird font inconsistencies with Firefox? This one’s new, too. All the applications follow the font settings except Firefox, which mysteriously uses the Ubuntu font for its menus and tabs. I imagine there’s probably a fix for this somewhere.

      • Revisited: KDE 4.6

        I recently tried reviewing KDE 4.6, and it didn’t turn out so well due to the combination of my installing KDE 4.6 in a live session and my using Linux Mint to try it out. (Also, I have said this before in previous articles, but again, my primary distribution is Linux Mint with GNOME, so that bias will show in this article somehow or another. Please do keep that in mind when reading this.) One frequent suggestion was to use Arch to test it next time. Although installing Arch may not be so bad, getting it configured to work right post-installation, while ultimately very rewarding, is time-consuming and pretty difficult, and I don’t think I have either the time or skill to do that. Then I had an epiphany (no pun intended): use ArchBang. It comes as a live CD and, after installation, it has a nice Openbox setup with things like sound and network settings configured properly out-of-the-box. It also comes with a whole bunch of GTK+ applications, so it’s ideal to see how well KDE plays with another DE/WM side-by-side.


        Hot on the heels of this announcement, Miguel de Icaza, one of the leading developers of GNOME, has said that he is “psyched” (apparently in a good way) by this. He has been taking a lot of flak from the open-source community for supporting the development of Mono, the open-source implementation of Microsoft’s C# programming language and toolkit; while I am wary of Microsoft’s moves with regard to Mono, I still do use GNOME-Do, which is Mono-based, and I’m OK with this because it is still open-source. However, de Icaza’s support of the Nokia-Microsoft partnership seems to be the last straw, even for me; as a developer of a core technology (GNOME) for Linux systems, how could he possibly support a company that has essentially issued death threats against Linux multiple times?

    • GNOME Desktop

      • The coming of GNOME 3

        It seems there is some strife in the Fedora community over the upcoming GNOME 3 / GNOME Shell in Fedora 15. Some people see it as a dumbing down of the user interface and others don’t. I wrote a fairly long response recently that I thought I’d share here.

  • Distributions

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • First Stable Release Of Mageia In June: Exclusive Interview

        Romain: Confidence is already here and Mageia grows out of it today. From the 17 people that triggered the fork, about 600 people volunteered to contribute, about 50+ of them are very active to this day, more than 150 people and several companies support us upfront with their money and hardware/hosting resources.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Fedora

        • Kororaa Beta2 released – new GNOME version, KSplice, LibreOffice

          Kororaa 14 (Nemo) Beta2 has been released for download.

          This release includes several fixes, updates to all your favourite applications, as well as the following major changes:

          * GNOME version – that’s right, now Kororaa comes with GNOME too!
          * GNOME Shell – experience the future of the GNOME desktop (turn on manually, or pass “gnome-shell” to kernel)
          * Elementary icon set and GTK theme for GNOME
          * KDE updated to 4.5.5

    • Debian Family

      • Is Debian Dying?

        Exact figures are hard to come by. However, those that are available suggest that the Debian project is in no immediate danger of being unable to do its self-appointed tasks.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Workspaces come to Unity 2D

          Fans and followers of Unity 2D – the less hardware intensive Qt-using version of Unity currently in development – may be pleased to see that ‘workspaces’ have arrived in the latest builds.

        • Unity meet XChat-GNOME
        • Free and completely Ubuntu (2)

          The other day, I reported here that Tuesday evening (Feb. 8.), the popular tech-review program on danish public television channel DR2 “So Ein Ding…” dedicated an entire episode to Ubuntu.

          A commenter asked for a translation, so here it is, including the program host, Nicolaj Sonne’s evocative sound effects.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Nokia/MeeGo/Maemo

        • Elop is after me

          So I was not happy to see Elop (after graduating from Adobe and Microsoft, which surely increased his business “skills”) took over the role of Nokia CEO. Oh, oh… spider sense ticked off. Luckily, the other shoe dropped almost as quickly, also in a matter of months, as we all know by now.

          There is, however, a significant distinction between both scenarios. Director was never free software. There was no option: some from the community even tried the only possible route, which was to acquire the product, but Adobe did not want to let it go, probably out of fear that it will compete strongly again with Flash. So the “strangling” of the community succeeded. Qt, on the other hand, is free software. And KDE has also secured the FreeQt agreement. So, thanks to the L(GPL) and the efforts of the community, there is a way out.

        • Nokia adopts Windows Phone 7 – an employee’s perspective

          This morning, news broke out that Nokia has decided to partner with Microsoft and adopt Windows Phone 7 as its primary smartphone platform. While this has been speculated for many weeks, I can certainly tell you that it was a surprise for many people in and out of Nokia. Not even employees had any idea of what would be announced February 11. Well, now we do :)

          I will not repeat the press releases say here, so you can go read them if you want more details on what is going to happen with Nokia and Microsoft in the near future. I’ll talk more as an individual who’s been working with third party developers at Nokia for the past five years, and has witnessed the many transformations in our software strategy very closely.

          Today’s announcement spells the death of Symbian, not now but in the near future, when Nokia Windows Phone devices start shipping. I have been reading many blog posts about this decision, and there seems to be a trend (either by Nokia employees or Nokia fanboys – yes they exist) in the comments section of those blogs, that “Symbian is a great OS and Nokia just needed to adjust the UI for it to be competitive”. I beg to disagree, and so do many other people in Nokia. While Symbian was certainly great for smartphones a few years ago, its evolution was slow and it became too bloated and fragmented. The programming environment was arcane (Symbian C++ is hard and non-standard), the security model is too intrusive, and even internally it became harder and harder to ship products and updates quickly with Symbian.

        • ”Nokia, nyt on pakko kertoa!” [Nokia CEO has 261302 Microsoft shares and 0 Nokia shares]
        • Nokia & Microsoft – And what it means for QT and MeeGo.

          So in what manner will MeeGo survive as a niche platform? Well, as an open ‘platform’ of course (even if Nokia are unwilling to term it as such right now), just as RIM makes its money as business platform, and webOS will survive as a vertically integrated HP platform. Likewise will QT survive as a useful (if not strategic) part of Nokia’s future as it will remain the key enabler for development on its niche open platform.

          Events have not turned out as this blogger would choose, and one is far from convinced that Win7 represents a sensible move for Nokia’s long-term future, but regardless, all is not lost on the open-platform front.

        • Qt will not be ported to Windows Phone 7 says Nokia
        • The Latest Details On The State Of Qt & MeeGo

          Yesterday’s announcement of Microsoft and Nokia hooking up over Windows Phone 7 on Nokia’s smart-phone has rattled the free software / Linux communities. There’s more than 100 comments in our forums about this announcement and this isn’t the only tech community where there are outraged customers and other parties disappointed in Nokia’s decision. In particular, many are upset because with Nokia’s decision it basically pushes the MeeGo Linux operating system and the Qt tool-kit to the back-seat.

          In this Nokia Qt blog post by Daniel Kihlberg, the impact on Qt in regards to Nokia’s platform switch is downplayed. Daniel says that Qt will continue to play an important role in Nokia for the existing Symbian base, there’s still going to be one Nokia MeeGo device shipping this year, Qt Quick / Qt SDK 1.1 will still be delivered, Nokia will continue to hire Qt developers, and the director of the Qt Ecosystem adds that Nokia isn’t the only company behind this tool-kit.

        • What Nokia’s Windows move means for Open Source

          Jim Zemlin, head of The Linux Foundation tried to make the best of it, “The Linux Foundation is disappointed in Nokia’s decision today to choose Microsoft as the primary platform for its mobile phones. Tough times give birth to difficult decisions that we don’t always agree with, but open source is–at its core–about choice. We believe that open source software is more than a sum of its parts, and the market is currently bearing that out. The Linux Foundation is here to enable collaboration among its members and the Linux community, and we invite participation in MeeGo [an embedded Linux for smartphones and other devices that was supported by Intel and Nokia] and any of our other many projects and programs.”

Free Software/Open Source

  • Can Free, “Open-Source” Software Bridge the Gender Gap in Technology?

    If girls are taught computer skills in school from an early age, then there will be just as many female computer programmers as male ones … at least, in theory. But when computer classes involve being taught to use products from Apple, Adobe and Microsoft — and include activities like field trips to the Apple Store — who’s benefiting from them? The girls, or the corporations that sponsor their classes?

  • Web Browsers

    • Browser Feature War: IE9 RC1 vs. Firefox 4 vs. Chrome 9

      The Federal Trade Commission has been clamoring for Web browsers to institute do not track features that tell online advertisers you don’t want them to follow you around while you browse the Web. Internet Explorer 9 has answered that call with a new feature called Tracking Protection. IE9′s do not track feature allows you to create lists of sites that you want to block from tracking you. You can created your own list or find some pre-defined lists here on Microsoft’s IE9 Website. To enable Tracking Protection in IE9, click on the settings cog in the upper right corner of IE9 RC1 then select Safety>Tracking Protection.

      Firefox’s answer to tracking is much simpler. The browser has simply instituted a system that puts a message in your browser’s metadata that tells Websites you visit that you don’t want to be tracked. Of course, it’s any body’s guess if the sites you visit will honor your request, but it’s still a simple and elegant approach. To turn on Firefox 4′s do not track feature in Windows 7 go to the Firefox tab in the upper left corner then click Options>Options>Advanced. Then under “Browsing” select “Tell web sites I do not want to be tracked.” ??Chrome also has a do not track feature that you can activate by downloading an add-on called “Keep My Opt-outs.”

    • Mozilla

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice Sees First Update Already

      Today The Document Foundation announced the release candidate to LibreOffice 3.3.1. This is the first in what will undoubtedly become a series of ever-improving code. The Foundation warns that this is indeed a release candidate and not ready for your production environment. However, the list of fixes is extensive when considering version 3.3.0 was just released two and a half weeks ago.

    • Linux, Open Source & Ubuntu: New OpenOffice.org Suite Uninspiring but Adequate

      Aside from the debates over community control, it’s difficult to come up with significant faults in the OpenOffice.org suite. It’s polished and rather user-friendly, runs on a wide range of platforms and is well-suited for any organization that doesn’t want to commit itself to Microsoft’s ecosystem.

  • Government

    • 5 Factors for Open Source Success

      In 2001, Horst Bräuner, the IT director of Schwäbisch Hall, a fairy-tale city in southern Germany, faced a situation familiar to many local U.S. government officials. Germany was in an economic slump — the country’s economy had been flat for several years. The gross domestic product dropped from a 2.5 percent rate of growth in 2001 to an anemic 1.4 percent in 2002. In response, the federal government expanded the number of tax deductions firms could take on as losses. Since local governments in Germany depend heavily on business taxes, the change in the country’s tax law coupled with the broader economic recession led to a sharp decline in local tax revenue. But according to Bräuner, Schwäbisch Hall’s problems were even worse.


      Elected officials are often skeptical of new software, particularly nonproprietary software. Local governments may confront external pressure from software vendors to continue with existing (proprietary) systems.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About The Creative Commons Licenses But Was Afraid To Ask

      A while back my friend Karlisson Bezerra, author of the Brazilian comic (all using open source tools such as Inkscape, etc) Nerdson, created a pretty nifty story explaining how to use the Creative Commons license. The original strip was written in Brazilian Portuguese but someone took the time to do a quick translation into English (as the translator is not a native Brazilian Portuguese speaker, some things got lost in the translation, but the end result is still worth checking). So here is the finished work, enjoy it!

    • Open Hardware


  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • WikiLeaks: Suleiman promised to stop Gaza elections

      Egyptian VP said he will “take care of” Gaza, stop Hamas from gaining control, in meeting with Israeli official.

    • Former Guantanamo Prisoner Kurnaz Reveals Extent of Torture

      Murat Kurnaz, 24, who was released in August because of lack of evidence that he was involved in terrorist activities, said he endured many types of torture.

      “From electric shocks to having one’s head submerged in water, (subjection to) hunger and thirst, or being shackled and suspended,” Kurnaz said, listing the alleged abuses he faced while a detainee at Camp X-Ray in Cuba.

      A burly man with long reddish hair and a thick beard stretching down to his belly, Kurnaz spoke without emotion to CNN Turk television from his home in Bremen, northern Germany.

    • About Inside the Wire

      In an explosive newsbreak that generated headlines all around the world, a document submitted by army Sergeant Erik Saar to the Pentagon for clearance was leaked to the Associated Press in January, 2005. His account of appalling sexual interrogation tactics used on detainees at Guantanamo Bay was shocking, but that was only one small part of the story of what he saw at Guantanamo — and the leak was only one more strange twist in his profoundly disturbing and life-changing trip behind the scenes of America’s war on terror.

    • Maj. Gen. Taguba Accuses Bush Administration of War Crimes

      Retired Major General Antonio Taguba, the Army general who first investigated the abuse at Abu Ghraib, has accused the Bush administration of committing war crimes. “The commander in chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture,” Taguba said.

    • Obama: ‘Egypt will never be the same’
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • AIG: Corporate Welfare King Mouths Off

      Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. In 2008, AIG was taken over by the federal government, propped up with a $183 billion taxpayer bailout and it remains so weak that the American taxpayer still has a large stake in this firm. If there is a “welfare king” on Wall Street his name is Bob Benmosche.

      It’s time for AIG to shut up and pay up the $31 billion it still owes U.S. taxpayers, with interest. And remember America — red, white and blue — don’t do business with AIG’s mortgage guarantor, United Guaranty, or other subsidiaries like Chartis property-casualty insurer and the SunAmerica Financial Group.

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Neil Tyson – Human Intelligence?

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