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Links 10/4/2011: GNOME 3 Still Dominates the News

Posted in News Roundup at 4:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Using GNU/Linux is cooler than using Windows: Laura Lucas Alday

    This is the last interview of the trinity series and in this interview we spoke with Laura Lucas Alday the woman power behind the latest release of Cheese. She was responsible for enhancing cheese to support svg overlays. Laura finds GNU/Linux better than Windows.

  • Where’s the Parallel Beef?

    Years ago there was this ad campaign by the Wendy’s hamburger chain that asked the question Where’s the Beef?. The commercials were rather funny and “Where’s the beef?” has become a way to ask “where is the substance?” or to call attention to the lack thereof. Before GP-GPU, multi-core, and clusters, I have been asking a similar question about HPC development tools. In particular, “Where are the parallel programming tools?” This question has become fundamentally important to the future of computing and the answer is not quite clear.

  • Top five new things in Linux

    This past week, the cognoscenti of the Linux community gathered in San Francisco to discuss the state of the platform as a whole. During the week, a number of projects also managed to release new versions. Here are five you should know about.

  • Cloud Appliance Solutions for the Enterprises (CAFÉ) Taiwan

    The Institute for Information Industry (III) Taiwan and Ulteo announces a joint agreement to develop Cloud Appliance solutions for the Enterprises (CAFÉ).

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • Plasma Active – A Desirable User Experience Encompassing the Device Spectrum

        Today, I’d like to announce to a wider audience a project we have been working on in and beyond the Plasma team. Its goal is to “Create a desirable user experience encompassing a spectrum of devices“, and it is called Plasma Active. A couple of things make Plasma Active special. First, the driver is the desirable user experience. That means that we want to create something, people want, and people want to use. It means we are less technology-focused, but are taken a user-centered approach. Second, we are not targeting a single device, or a narrowly-defined class of devices. Plasma Active is made to run on a spectrum of devices that make up the user experience together. Devices change, and so does the way the user interacts with them. By strongly separating data and visualisation / interaction, we do not re-invent the wheel but adapt to the requirements and expectations of a device, and about how devices work together for the user.

      • Plasma/Active/Installation
    • GNOME Desktop

      • How To Create A Screencast In GNOME 3

        GNOME 3 has an inbuilt software that allows you to record your desktop. This makes it very easy to create a screencast in GNOME 3. Here is how you do it …

        You can start/stop recording your GNOME 3 Desktop by pressing the Ctrl+Shift+Alt+R key combination.

      • Welcome GNOME 3! We have a present for you…

        So, you’re born, and we here at openSUSE Project are very excited to welcome you into the world. We’ve been watching with anticipation and excitement as the many thousands of developers and contributors mobilized around the world to make your first steps into this world a reality. The videos and plethora of information shown on gnome3.org make clear that you’re very welcome!

      • Sam and me

        It’s not a particularly ringing endorsement. But neither is it particularly precise in its criticisms. It seems Sam has two or three gripes about the beta, and lumped them all together in one muddy package.

      • Making awesome even better; gnome back to work with gnome 3.2

        Just in case you didn’t notice, the much delayed, much awaited, much criticized and, why of course, much enhanced gnome desktop version 3.0 with its brand new shell released last week. (If you not yet tried it yourself, head on to the gnome3 page and grab a copy of the live cd .iso of the next generation desktop.)

      • Drag Me to Shell, p2.

        I said last time I would go into the file maangement side of GNOME 3 a bit more, and I think I would be right in saying that there are a number of people who think this is probably one of the weakest aspects of the release.

        The first thing to say is, I vaguely surprised myself by the lack of problem in this area. If you read various reviews, the changes in accessibility to file management and the lack of desktop icons are quite often brought up as serious issues, and as a relatively heavy user of the desktop file space I imagined that this would be the thing which would hurt the most.

      • Great one, Gnome! Would you like to reload and try for your other foot?

        I was rather appalled to see the direction Gnome is going. Even though I’ve complained about Gnome before, I’ve still been using it thus far since going Ubuntu. But this is really going to sever my relationship with Gnome for good.

        This review shows Gnome 3 completely botching up the whole multi-virtual-desktop metaphor. Once again, we see something that Linux got right, which is being bludgeoned out of it.

      • GNOME 3: configuration wish granted

        Almost two and a half year ago GNOME 3 was in a very early state and most plans still had to be drawn up. At that time there was an interesting meme going on at Planet GNOME in which people blogged about their wishes for the large changes that would come to GNOME.

      • Wishlist for gnome (and shell) 3.2

        I know gnome 3.0 is just released and people are more or less still getting used to it. As such this may not be a right time to discuss what should be in gnome 3.2.

      • GNOME 3 and Its Fallback Desktop

        I like the GNOME 3 fallback desktop better than GNOME 3 itself.

  • Distributions

    • Slackware 13.37 RC 4.6692

      Another call for Slackware 13.37 Release Candidate. This time, Pat took the suggestion from Nicola to take Feigenbaum constant of 4.6692 to be the codename for (hopefully) the last RC before Slackware 13.37.

    • 3-in-1: How 3 Old Friends Can Be Found In Same Place

      Can you ever expect that three of your oldest friends which belong to different companies can be found in the same place? Difficult to imagine, isn’t is? It’s like accidentally finding your best school friend and your best colleague in your favorite pub just across the road from your home. Dream!

    • Reviews

      • Distro Hoppin`: Saline OS 1.3

        Iiiii’ve been working at the saaaline aaaall the live looong daaaay. Actually, that’s a lie, as this Debian-based operating system is quite easy to install, setup and, once that is done, it lets you run about your daily computing routine.


        Yep, yep, I really loved spending some time with Saline OS and I think this could be a keeper.

      • Salix Xfce 13.37-beta2 – first impressions and screenshots

        Salix 13.37-beta2 was installed into a virtual machine with 512 MB RAM and it’s faaast.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Mandriva 2010.2 KDE Review

        Way back in ancient times when Mandriva was still Mandrake this was actually the first distribution of Linux I recall ever using. Things have come a long way since then but unfortunately I have neglected using Mandriva in recent years. So I decided it was time for some nostalgia. These days Mandriva is an excellent distribution, definitely up to par with all of the rest. Mandriva offers extensive consumer services and business solutions, but for the everyday Linux user there is also the Mandriva free download DVD ISO. This DVD comes with optional KDE or Gnome desktops, and wide selection of popular free software.

      • PCLinuxOS 2010 Gnome Zen Mini Review

        Another similarity to KDE is the single panel on the bottom of the desktop, in your panel you can store launchers, see open windows, or store useful applets to display information. The panel also holds a workspace switcher to switch between virtual desktops. You can customize the look and feel of your panels simply by right clicking on the main panel. In the right click menu you can add new panels, view panel properties, or add applets to your panel. You can try many of the usual Gnome applets like a system monitor, note pad, or local weather monitor. For even more style try floating, or transparent panels.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Moving on from Red Hat to Google

        Last month, I moved from Red Hat to Google. After spending six-and-half years at Red Hat, it was a tough decision to make because I got to work on issues like open standards and open source that have such long-term implications for India. To tell the truth, I had also gotten into a warm comfort zone in my previous job and was wondering what to do next, after we won the open standards fight in India.

    • Debian Family

      • DebConf11 call for contributions

        We invite submissions of proposals for papers, presentations, discussion sessions and tutorials for Debconf11. Submissions don’t have to be limited to traditional talks, you could propose a performance, art installation, debate, or anything else. Official submissions will be accepted until May 8th 2011, 23.59 UTC.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Ubuntu 11.04 Gets Much Needed Launcher Customization

          One of the major criticisms of Natty’s Unity launcher was a user’s inability to control or customize it. The good news is Ubuntu team is working at war-footing to iron out the wrinkles pointed out in the Beta 1. John Lea reported a bug to offer increased customization of the launcher.

        • New hardware, Sandybridge, and Ubuntu.

          My fiancée and I have decided that we should invest in a new tower computer for various reasons. One primary reason is to use it for multimedia (music streaming to the stereo/home theater, movies, videos, etc), as well as a data server around the house.

        • Unity and Me

          I’ll admit when Mark announced that Unity would be the new desktop for Ubuntu, I was skeptical. I always liked the indicators work, but had used an otherwise pretty standard Gnome desktop for years, and liked it. I upgraded to Natty very early in the cycle and have been using Unity for months. Things were quite rocky at first, with instability issues and features either gone or partially implemented. Of course that is to be expected since massive amounts of development work was being done on it. Today, the features are there and Unity is quite stable for me. It is getting very close to release, but AIUI the Unity developers are working very hard to squish the remaining stability bugs. You can read more about the decision to stick with Unity, but that is not what I am writing about today. I’m writing about why as an Ubuntu user I like Unity. Keep in mind, I am not a Unity developer and have just picked things up along the way and this isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list of features or bugs. Just what I like and and dislike.

        • Ubuntu Natty release countdown banners chosen
        • Ubuntu, Unity, Linux Mint and other stuff

          The truth must be said, I’ve not tested Linux Mint yet, I’m somehow too comfortable with my two main OSs Slackware Linux and Arch Linux, using Debian from time to time.

          But I’m reading good reviews about it all time, just like this one, what caught my attention on that reading was not only how good the author consider Linux Mint, but also how bad he consider Ubuntu.

          It is also a long time since I do not try Ubuntu, but I’m looking forward to test ‘11.04’ with unity, I’ve run it in a Netbook some time ago, and I must said I liked it.

        • How I multitask in Unity
        • Fast Two Way Sync in Ubuntu!

          I love the portability of a laptop. I have a 45 min train ride twice a day and I fly a little too, so having my work with me on my laptop is very important. But I hate doing long running analytics on my laptop when I’m in the office because it bogs down my laptop and all those videos on The Superficial get all jerky and stuff.

          I get around this conundrum by running much of my analytics on either my work server or on an EC2 machine (I’m going to call these collectively “my servers” for the rest of this post). The nagging problem with this has been keeping files in sync. RStudio Server has been a great help to my workflow because it lets me edit files in my browser and they run on my servers. But when a long running R job blows out files I want those IMMEDIATELY synced with my laptop. That way I know when I undock my laptop to run to the train station that all my files will be there for me to spill Old Style beer on as I ride the Metra

        • Clementine Steadily Improving – PPA for Ubuntu Maverick, Natty Updated

          Clementine Music Player version 0.7.1 was released few days back and the venerable Amarok 1.4 fork continues its steady improvement it received during the last year. Clementine 0.7.1 is largely a bug fix release for Clementine 0.7 which came out with a number of major new features. Clementine PPA for Ubuntu Natty and Maverick is updated as well.

        • Falling In Love With ‘Sexy’ Ubuntu 11.04 aka Natty Narwhal
        • Ubuntu 11.04 Gets Much Needed Launcher Customization

          After long discussion and weighing the pros and cons the bug has got a fix. Once the patch is in the repositories, user will see an applet in the Gnome Control Center called ‘Unity Launcher’. It doesn’t have any super cow powers at the moment other than offering users the option to control the visibility of the launcher — users will be able to select whether they want to trigger the launcher when they take the mouse to the left of the screen or to the top left corner. At the moment the launcher pops out only when you take the mouse to the top left corner.

        • Flavours and Variants

          • Review: Linux Mint Xfce 201104

            Just over 2 weeks ago, I wrote about how Linux Mint is moving the Xfce edition to a Debian base. Well, a few days ago, they released the official Linux Mint Xfce 201104.
            For those of you who didn’t read that post, in short, Linux Mint Xfce is now Debian-based instead of Ubuntu-based. The developers had a few things to say about this: (1) the desktop will be faster and lighter on resources (114 MB of RAM at idle, 177 MB of RAM with Mozilla Firefox, LibreOffice Writer, and LibreOffice Calc open all at the same time), (2) the Xfce edition will now include more mainstream applications like Rhythmbox instead of Exaile, and (3) the Xfce edition, being based on Debian Testing, will be a rolling-release branch. All these things sounded very excitin

          • Spotlight On Linux: wattOS
  • Devices/Embedded

    • Care robot runs on Windows and Ubuntu, uses Kinect for vision

      GeckoSystems will show off its fourth-generation “CareBot” service robot at its “Mobile Robots in Motion” conference on April 13-14. Based on two dual-core Intel Atom-based Mini-ITX boards, with one running Ubuntu Linux and the other Windows XP, the latest CareBot features an updated GeckoMotorController 7.0 and a new GeckoImager 3.1 vision system based on Microsoft Kinect technology.

    • In praise of the D-Link Boxee Box

      Following several months of use, and one major firmware update, DeviceGuru is now ready to relate our experience with using the D-Link Boxee Box. Despite seeming a bit more like a late-stage beta than a fully-released product, the device has gradually taken over command and control of our non-DVD TV watching experience.

    • linux: pwning computers and devices after 20 years

      2011 is the 20th anniversary of the first release of the Linux kernel by Linus Torvalds. Since that time, the linux kernel, together with the GNU tools and a whole host of software has been developed by enthusiasts and professional programmers into an operating system that runs on tiny embedded systems right up to the world’s fastest supercomputers.

    • Phones

      • Nokia/MeeGo/Maemo

      • Android

        • Putting Text to Speech to Work

          In a prior article we explored using the Text To Speech (TTS) capabilities native to Android.

          In this article we begin to apply the TTS capabilities into an application that has (slightly) more utility.

          The reasons for using Text To Speech range from the practical, safety-minded applications to the “just for fun”. The application we build in this article is arguably a little bit of both.

          While our prior look at Text To Speech was geared around the mechanics of using the TTS features, this application spends a bit more time with the context of the application and leverages what we have previously learned.

        • Android Honeycomb Code Will Be Released Soon: Google

          I never doubted that Google will close Android. But, then it took Andy Rubin to come forth and further clarify. In a nutshell, we all agree that Android has been fragmented. Whose fault is it? Google’s? No. Its the fault of those hardware vendors who picked up wrong OS to run tablets or are now planning to use a wrong OS to run smartphones. Using 2.x series on tablets was a big a mistake as is using 3x on phones.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Understanding Project Harmony

    I’ve been highly critical1 of corporate copyright assignment policies, especially those that effect me personally. Canonical, one of those I’ve complained about, has been working to try and standardise the wording and formation of the contracts that you have to sign in order to assign copyright over.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Why is Microsoft pushing IE 9 out now? Firefox.
    • Internet Explorer 6 is Holding Back the Linux Desktop

      There is no reason, other than fear of change, to be using a browser or operating system in 2011 that was created over a decade ago (unless of course it is on a server that has over a decade’s worth of uptime). It amazes me how many times I’ve setup Firefox or Google Chrome on a friend’s computer only to return later to find out they have foobared something because they fell back into using Internet Explorer after I left (most often times simply because they liked the blue E). Once most people are set in their ways it is hard to get them to change – no matter how subtle that change may be.

    • Chrome

      • Chrome to block downloads of hazardous .exe files

        As well as sounding the alarm when navigating to a nefarious web site, in the future the Windows version of Google’s Chrome browser will block downloads of infected .exe files. Users will, however, still be able to override this feature and download them anyway.

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 4 Is Faster, Cleaner, More Secure

        With all other major browsers having recently released new versions, this also means that the current generation of browsers all represent the latest in cutting edge Web technologies, including support for the emerging HTML 5 standard.

  • Databases

  • Project Releases

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Data

      • Announcing the Open Data Challenge – a pan-European open data competition

        For a long while our Working Group on EU Open Data has been very keen to run a pan-European open data competition. Hence we’re very pleased to announced the opening of the Open Data Challenge, which is precisely such a competition.

        The competition is open for the next 60 days and there are €20,000 in prizes up for grabs! As seems fitting for a pan-European initiative, the winners will be announced by EC Vice President Neelie Kroes in Brussels this coming June.

  • Programming


  • Cablegate

    • Bradley Manning: top US legal scholars voice outrage at ‘torture’

      More than 250 of America’s most eminent legal scholars have signed a letter protesting against the treatment in military prison of the alleged WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning, contesting that his “degrading and inhumane conditions” are illegal, unconstitutional and could even amount to torture.

      The list of signatories includes Laurence Tribe, a Harvard professor who is considered to be America’s foremost liberal authority on constitutional law. He taught constitutional law to Barack Obama and was a key backer of his 2008 presidential campaign.

  • Finance

    • What We’ve Learned About Wall Street From Watching the Raj Rajaratnam Trial

      Depending on whom you talk to, the allegations of $63.8 million in securities fraud against the Galleon hedge-fund owner Raj Rajaratnam amount to either the biggest insider-trading case since Michael Milken or the largest insider-trading case, ever, period, the end. Twenty-seven people were charged, and nineteen have pleaded guilty. Authorities investigated Rajaratnam’s alleged network of co-conspirators like they were the Sopranos, with 2,400 wiretaps producing 90 hours of tape. Thanks to those recordings and testimony from power brokers at Goldman Sachs, Intel, and McKinsey, the first few weeks of the trial have offered a rare glimpse into the Brioni-collared, Ferragamo-slippered tribe normally hidden behind closed doors. The defense has yet to present its arguments. But as the prosecution prepares to rest its case today, here’s what we learned so far.

    • Now Facebook Might Not IPO Until 2013 Or Later

      The SEC has said it is considering raising the shareholder limit for private companies in a letter to Rep. Darrell Issa obtained by the WSJ.

      The SEC has a rule that says that once a private company reaches 500 individual shareholders, it has to report publicly the way a public company does, so this rule is an incentive for companies to go public: if they’re going to have the drawbacks of being public (disclosure) they might as well have the advantages (access to public markets).

  • Privacy

    • CPS Rule on Phorm intrusion – A two tier charging threshold?

      There are very few tech cases that hit the news in the UK, so its always interesting to look at decisions made by the CPS when the digital world is thrust into the British legal system. The Phorm case is facinating for a number of reasons, but before we look at those, lets remind ourselves of the BBC Click and its Botnet incident.

      Apparently if you are the BBC and run a botnet, then there is no crime since no charges were ever placed.

      That decision disappointed me since it seemed you can get away with “research” and “public interest” defences if you happen to be a larger entity than the average Joe and that, has not gone unnoticed, with comments in tech forums remarking on a disproportionate balance between size of entity and chance of prosecution.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/UBB

    • How to cut off the Internet the easy way? A Shovel

      According to the Guardian, one little old lady in Georgia managed to cut off an entire country, Armenia, from the Internet for five hours Her weapon? A shovel.

      No, I’m not kidding.

      The story goes that the woman was hunting for copper, which is worth real money these days everywhere, when in mid-dig, her shovel cut the fibre-logic cable which carried 90% of Armenia’s Internet.

    • What to do About Retail Usage Based Billing: A Modest Proposal

      OpenMedia.ca, which spearheaded the public uproar over usage based billing earlier this year, launched a Vote Internet campaign that quickly attracted political support. The campaign asks candidates to be pro-Internet, which includes standing up for an open and accessible Internet and stopping the “pay meter on the Internet.” While this predictably raises claims of retail price regulation, addressing concerns about retail UBB need not involve a return to regulatory approvals over retail pricing of Internet services.

    • Canadians encouraged to ‘vote for the Internet’

      Trust and economic recovery might be topping the polls as the issues most important to voters in Canada’s 41st general election, but some Canadians might believe keeping the Internet open and affordable trumps all others.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • RIAA Lobbyist Turned Judge Backpedals On BitTorrent Cases

        In the ongoing mass-BitTorrent lawsuits, last month U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell laid down a landmark verdict in favor of copyright holders. The verdict was widely publicized, but put in doubt after it was uncovered that the Judge was a former RIAA lobbyist. This critique appears to have had an effect. In two new orders in the same cases, Howell has now backpedaled on her earlier stance.

      • Statutory Damages In Copyright Law Make It More Appealing To Sue Than To Innovate

        There are all sorts of problems with copyright law today, but one of the biggest is the farce that is statutory damages. This is what allows everyone who sues someone for a single instance of copyright infringement to threaten them with the possibility of a $150,000 fine. Of course, even in situations where the $150,000 isn’t available, we still end up with rulings that seem totally disconnected from any actual “harm.” Defenders of the statutory damages provisions in copyright law come up with all sorts of twisted rationalizations for why ridiculously high statutory damages rates make sense, usually along the lines of saying that there’s simply no reasonable way to calculate actual damages. This is, of course, silly. Even if you can’t calculate exact damages, you can come up with something that at least approaches a reasonable level.

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  30. EPO: It's Like a Family Business - Part III

    A look at how the EPO's management (Željko Topić in particular) defended the unprecedented promotion of Ms Bergot (wife of the president's close assistant), even in the face of outcry from EPO staffwarning


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