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05.06.11

Links 6/5/2011: Linux-powered Android Phones Take Majority Share in the US

Posted in News Roundup at 5:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • A 15 pound computer to inspire young programmers

    The result, a working computer running on a Linux operating system for very little, and a device that will, like the kit computers of the 1970s and 80s, encourage users to tinker around under the bonnet and learn a bit of programming. And it’s a yearning to return to those days that is driving Braben and the other enthusiasts who are working to turn this sketchy prototype into a product that could be handed to every child in Britain.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • FLOSS Weekly 164: Buildbot

      Buildbot is software that automatically configures and tests your software packages for you.

      Guest: Dustin J. Mitchell

  • Kernel Space

    • FHS Refresh
    • Graphics Stack

      • OpenWF Working Group Offers Hand To Wayland

        While not a huge item as no work has yet been rendered, the Khronos Working Group responsible for the OpenWF standard have offered their support to the Wayland Display Server project.

        OpenWF 1.0 launched in 2009 as an open, cross-platform API designed for composited windowing systems that is hardware independent. OpenWF is broken down into Composition and Display components with more technical details behind this hardware-independent API being available at Khronos.org. The Khronos Group is, of course, the entity also responsible for OpenGL, OpenVG, etc.

      • First steps with Wayland

        Wayland seems very interesting, specially from the perspective of having a clean codebase and architecture to work with unlike X.org. The main advantage is that the compositor acts as the display server, allowing it to be aware of the input events and avoiding round trips between processes.

        [...]

        To start my journey I had to read a bit about EGL and GL, coming from a high level/clutter/cairo/mostly 2D wonderland it was an interesting read and I’m starting to pick the basic concepts around it.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • Let the user decide if in doubt

        If it comes to decisions there is always the aim to just do the right thing. In a lot of cases there is the one right thing. In quite a few cases there is no right thing but the consequences are small enough that it does not really matter which decision one takes. And then there are those use-cases where the only right thing to do is to ask the user because any other decision would just be guessing and lead to RAM and CPU wasting.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • GNOME marketing contract: final report

        My marketing contract with the GNOME Foundation finished last week. The final weeks of the contract gave me the opportunity to work on some more general marketing tasks that I didn’t have chance to in the run up to the release itself. So, in the final weeks of the contract, I…

  • Distributions

    • Ubuntu and Slackware, two of the most important distributions released new versions last month
    • Some of the faces behind the distros

      When I first migrated to Linux, I bought a nice set of stickers and one of them depicted many smiling penguins. As a heading, you could read “The friendly face of Linux”. Today, as I saw anticaptalista’s encouraging comment in Megatotoro’s blog, it suddenly struck me that there is an element that I have been enjoying since the moment of my migration, something subtle, but powerful. You see, as an ex-Windows user, although I could identify Bill Gates’ face (and even Ballmer’s), I never received any tangible support from Microsoft. Windows was merely a business.

      Linux, on the other hand, has represented an unmatched opportunity to learn and grow because of the intense human interaction of its vibrating communities. For example, as soon as I joined Mandriva’s community forum, I was received as a human being, not as a number. The same happened when I posted my first question in Mageia’s blog: the prompt reply giving me direction was refreshing. And I cannot describe the feeling I experienced yesterday when I opened my email to find a follow-up message from a Mageia developer taking care of the bug I reported.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat bashes Microsoft, VMware while pitching new cloud software

        Microsoft and VMware are the enemies of interoperability, and only open source software can prevent cloud lock-in.

        That, at least, is what Red Hat wants customers to believe, as the open source vendor unveiled private cloud software and a public cloud service while offering its usual screed against proprietary technology.

        At Wednesday’s Red Hat Summit in Boston, vice president of products and technologies Paul Cormier declared “We’ve changed the world,” and mocked VMware’s “Cloud Developer’s Bill of Rights” and its statement about preventing customers from being locked in to specific products.

      • Red Hat and University of Wisconsin Expand Technology Partnership and Cloud Leadership
      • Red Hat launches CloudForms IaaS, OpenShift PaaS platforms

        Red Hat introduced two new cloud products – CloudForms and OpenShift — at its annual summit Wednesday.

        CloudForms, which is based upon the company-sponsored DeltaCloud project that is now part of Apache– offer sophisticated resource management, application deployment services and Infrastructure-as a Service offerings that help IT adminstrators implement private and hybrid clouds.

    • Debian Family

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • The Post Penguicon Unity Unification Story

          I still don’t really care for Unity, but I’ll admit the panel was very helpful in my attempt to deal with it. Here are some highlights. Please note the questions and responses are based on my recollection of the panel, so I’ve taken some liberties.

        • Ubuntu 11.04: Is Natty Narwhal the best Linux desktop ever?

          I have to say that I came to Ubuntu 11.04 not at all convinced that I’d like it. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Unix and Linux user. While I’m not so hide-bound that I consider the Bash shell to be the be-all and end-all of desktops, I do like getting to the engine of my operating system so I can tune it just the way I want it — and that’s not what Unity is all about.

          Somewhat to my surprise, I found that I liked it a lot. And, better still for what Canonical has planned for Ubuntu, I found that people who’d never used Linux before actually liked Ubuntu. Mind you, they couldn’t tell it was Linux under the hood, but I think that’s the point. This is Linux for non-Linux users, and as that, I think it’s a great success.

          Is it good enough to get Windows users to switch? I don’t know, but I do know, that as users switch more and more to tablets and smartphones, they’re certainly more open to new possibilities and that’s exactly what Unity is. It’s not just a new take on the desktop, it’s a new take on the interface for all devices. I fully expect to see Unity-based tablets sometime soon. And I think Ubuntu just might be the first Linux to gain a large number of ordinary users.

        • Ubuntu 11.04: Too Natty for Its Own Good?

          Do we love it? Well, many of us do, it seems. Then again, many of us aren’t so sure. The new Unity interface, in particular, has created more than a few furrowed brows.

        • 10 things to love about Ubuntu 11.04

          Today is a good day, as I dine on a dish of crow — served gladly by the ladies and gentlemen of Canonical. In Ubuntu 11.04: Small issues, big win, I explained how my opinions changed about Ubuntu 11.04 and the most recent release of the new default Ubuntu desktop, Unity. After installing the beta 1 release, I realized that my fears were pretty much misplaced. And now that I have the final release up and running — and despite its installation problems — I’m still convinced that there’s plenty to love about the latest Ubuntu release. Let’s take a look.

        • Flavours and Variants

          • Ubuntu 11.04: The ultimate educational desktop?

            I’ve been using Ubuntu 11.04 since it was in Alpha testing and it’s my primary OS for the various netbooks I have floating around my house. Regular readers will know that I’ve used Ubuntu for quite a while, whether as a server or desktop OS. I spend a lot of time nowadays on my Mac, which is great, but I can’t help but feel that this latest version of Ubuntu just might be the ultimate educational desktop for a lot of reasons.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Android phones account for half of U.S. market share; 4G is King.

          There has been an abundance of reports in the recent months noting that Android is the leading smartphone platform. Canalys echoed that main sentiment once again in its Q1 2011 analysis, but it discovered something pretty interesting: almost half of smartphones shipped in the United States last quarter were powered by Google Android.

        • Motorola Atrix With Android/Linux Available

          The world’s most powerful smartphone is available now for the price of a subscription to service. That will sell like hotcakes. It will be head-to-head competition for iPhone. In Canada, Atrix is slightly less expensive than the iPhone.

        • Archos 32 Android media player

          Archos is calling the 32 an Android tablet, but I have trouble convincing myself that anything with a 3.2in screen is really a tablet so it makes far more sense to review it as a touchscreen media player.

        • Most tablets doomed to fail says YouGov study

          UK market research agency YouGov believes most tablets launched this year are doomed to failure unless they can hit the magic price point for wider adoption: £250.

          Russell Feldman, Associate Director for Technology and Telecoms Consulting at YouGov, made the prediction as he commented on the pollster’s latest TabletTrack survey.

          “At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, earlier this year, over 80 tablets were announced for launch later in 2011,” said Feldman. “YouGov expects most of these tablets to fail to achieve widespread distribution. However, our analysis clearly demonstrates that if the pricing is right and the device is marketed at the correct audience, then there is significant latent demand.”

Free Software/Open Source

  • Why Teleplace went open source

    Earlier this week, Teleplace announced that it was releasing the current version of proprietary virtual world software to the open source community as OpenQwaq. The next generation of its software won’t be commercially available for three to six months.

    The Teleplace software normally runs for $50 per user per month for the hosted version and $100 per user per month for the on-premises software — and the company says it has hundreds of corporate clients with “thousands” of users.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Chrome 11: The Best Browser?

        Was it only a few weeks ago, that we were looking at the latest crop of Web browsers? Why, yes, yes it was, but now Google has released yet another newer, faster, better, and more feature-full version of its Chrome Web browser: Chrome 11.

    • Mozilla

  • Databases

    • Former MySQL boss: Code ‘in better shape than ever’ under Oracle

      Despite concerns that Oracle would be unfriendly to open source projects acquired through the merger with Sun, former MySQL CEO Marten Mickos says the MySQL code base is in fantastic condition.

      In an interview this week, Mickos said Oracle may not understand or care much about open source and the task of fostering community involvement, but Oracle seems committed to the products themselves and he has no complaints about Oracle’s technical expertise. Version 5.5 of the MySQL database “probably is the best MySQL version ever produced,” and the upcoming version 5.6 is looking strong as well, Mickos said.

    • MySQL successor, Drizzle, reaches maturity

      Brian ‘Krow’ Aker, MySQL’s former director of architecture, brings us up to speed on the first stable GA release from the Drizzle database project designed for web applications and cloud computing…

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Tech at Night: Net Neutrality, FCC, Patents, Copyrights, Sony, Anonymous

      No, the patent issue isn’t going away. the fight between Google and Oracle over the Java technology incorporated in Android. One does wonder, if Google really is as arrogant about copyright and patent as Oracle says, just how much litigation is ahead surrounding the growing Android platform. I’m not so sure Google is in the right with respect to Java, as I’ve previously in this space called their tricks pretty sneaky and perhaps too clever, but I won’t mind if the process spurs software patent reform.

    • Oracle has to toss 129 patent infringement claims in Google lawsuit

      Oracle filed the lawsuit against Google last year claiming that Google’s immensely popular Android operating system infringed Java patents that it acquired when it bought Sun Microsystems. Oracle submitted a total of 132 claims in seven patents and court documents reveal that Google identified “hundreds of prior art references”. But US District Judge William Alsup said, “This is too much.”

      Judge Alsup ordered a considerable narrowing of the claims to ensure “only a triable number of these items” will be placed before a jury in October. He cut Oracle’s initial 132 claims to just three and allowed only eight prior art submissions by Google. Oracle will have to surrender 129 of its patent infringement claims against Google and Judge Alsup shut the door against Oracle refiling those claims in subsequent legal action unless it is against new products. Basically Oracle will have to completely drop 129 claims of patent infringement against Google’s Android operating system.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Data

      • Francis Maude outlines Public Data Corporation plans

        The government intends to have a data policy framework in place by autumn 2011 as part of its preparations for the Public Data Corporation (PDC), according to Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude.

        Maude was responding to a parliamentary question from Conservative MP Mark Pawsey about the government’s plans for the PDC, aimed at bringing together data from government bodies into one organisation. The government has said it wants to open opportunities for developers, businesses and members of the public to generate social and economic growth through the use of data.

    • Open Hardware

      • Massive launch of tablet PCs may result in excess inventory for players

        Non-Apple tablet PC players are at high risk of facing excess tablet PC inventory in the second half of 2011 as first-tier smartphone and notebook vendors as well as second-tier vendors are all ready to enter the tablet PC competition with their devices, according to market watchers.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • OASIS To Promote Interoperability of SOA Repositories with S-RAMP

      OASIS, the international open standards consortium has garnered support from leading SOA vendors and users to address a critical interoperability issue for SOA repositories. A new OASIS committee will work on a standard for sharing data across SOA repository products from multiple vendors for cloud and on-premise environments

Leftovers

  • OpenDNS offers IPv6 Internet DNS services
  • Security

    • Anonymous Faces Identity Dilemma Over Sony Hack
    • Anonymous: Sony is incompetent (and we don’t steal credit cards)

      Sony yesterday singled out Anonymous for its role in the PlayStation Network data breach, but Anonymous has its own view—namely, “Sony is incompetent.” As for the evidence against them, the group believes it is being targeted by a “false flag op.”

      Back on April 22, parts of the amorphous hacker collective Anonymous were already denying responsibility for taking down Sony’s PlayStation Network. “For Once We Didn’t Do It,” proclaimed their manifesto.

    • Security Expert: Sony Knew Its Software Was Obsolete Months Before PSN Breach

      In congressional testimony this morning, Dr. Gene Spafford of Purdue University said that Sony was using outdated software on its servers — and knew about it months in advance of the recent security breaches that allowed hackers to get private information from over 100 million user accounts.

      According to Spafford, security experts monitoring open Internet forums learned months ago that Sony was using outdated versions of the Apache Web server software, which “was unpatched and had no firewall installed.” The issue was “reported in an open forum monitored by Sony employees” two to three months prior to the recent security breaches, said Spafford.

  • Finance

    • The Global Economy’s Corporate Crime Wave

      The world is drowning in corporate fraud, and the problems are probably greatest in rich countries – those with supposedly “good governance.” Poor-country governments probably accept more bribes and commit more offenses, but it is rich countries that host the global companies that carry out the largest offenses. Money talks, and it is corrupting politics and markets all over the world.

      Hardly a day passes without a new story of malfeasance. Every Wall Street firm has paid significant fines during the past decade for phony accounting, insider trading, securities fraud, Ponzi schemes, or outright embezzlement by CEOs. A massive insider-trading ring is currently on trial in New York, and has implicated some leading financial-industry figures. And it follows a series of fines paid by America’s biggest investment banks to settle charges of various securities violations.

    • U.S. Joins Whistleblower Suit Against Education Management

      The U.S. Justice Department joined an employee whistleblower suit against Education Management Corp. (EDMC), intervening for the first time in the student recruitment practices at for-profit colleges.

      The suit alleges that Pittsburgh-based Education Management, 40 percent owned by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) funds, illegally paid recruiters based on the number of students they enrolled, the company said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing today. The government, in most cases, forbids such incentive compensation for colleges accepting federal aid because of concern the practice will encourage companies to enroll unqualified students.

    • Goldman Sachs Has A Way With Words, and Deeds

      Below is Kaufman’s reply found in FP (Foreign Policy):

      Frederick Kaufman replies:

      Instead of working to undo the damage Goldman Sachs and other banks have done by transforming our daily bread into nothing but a financial product, and instead of elucidating the murky world of over-the-counter swaps and baroque derivatives, Lucas van Praag has chosen to offer up yet another example of the fact-twisting and blindness that have unfortunately become the 21st century banking industry’s norm.

      My article “How Goldman Sachs Created the Food Crisis” did not accuse Goldman of introducing speculation to the commodity markets. To the contrary, the editors at Foreign Policy allowed a great deal of space for the history of American commodity markets, including an explanation of the traditional role of bona-fide hedgers and speculators. Of course, it is not traditional speculation that has sparked the historically unprecedented rise in the price of food, but the demand-shock Goldman and their industry followers introduced to the markets with their long-only Goldman Sachs Commodity Index fund — the two-decades-old food, energy, and precious metals derivative that has come to be widely imitated throughout the financial industry.

      Regarding the role of Gary Cohn, we need only review his testimony to Congress in September of 2008, in which Goldman’s president articulated the ideas and concepts that lay behind the birth of the GSCI: “There was no natural long in the market,” Cohn explained to the Senate. “The consumers are so fragmented that they don’t amalgamate to a big enough position. So we actually, as a firm, came up with the idea in the early 1990s to create a long only, static investor in the commodity markets.” In other words — and contrary to van Praag’s assertion — the traditional buy/sell or sell/buy activity of the commodities futures market did not satisfy Goldman, nor allow them nor their largest clients (in this case, multinational oil firms) the market position they desired, a position which had little to do with the long-standing price discovery function of the futures market. Long-only indexes subsequently hijacked this role from this market.

      Van Praag’s assertion that the index funds were created to help “pensioners, who seek to protect the value of their savings against inflation and rising food prices” is a classic case of Wall Street posing as Main Street. Spurred by the institutional sales force of Goldman and other banks, the weight of hundreds of billions of dollars of new money from hedge, pension, and sovereign wealth funds has pushed up the slope of the agricultural price curve. Meanwhile, the contango markets caused by the demand shock the long-only indexes themselves introduced have created a negative yield for investors — who lose money five times a year as commodity prices surge and the price-insensitive funds buy. The regular, 5-times-a-year “roll” of long futures has given commodity insiders the opportunity for immense profit at the expense of investors, and it is simply misleading for van Praag to compare the unnatural, subversive market behavior of the banks to a responsible property owner who regularly renews her home insurance policy.

      While the OECD study has turned a blind eye, both the United Nations and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs — in their investigation of the role of long-only index funds as a threat to interstate commerce — concluded that these funds must bear some of the blame for the rising cost of food. Of course, supply and demand matter, as do monetary policy, climate change, and nationalistic policies of protectionism. But despite all protestations of innocence, the long-only index funds have added regular doses of kerosene to the commodity conflagration that has come to mark the new millennium. No surprise, then, that both the U.S. Commodities Future Trading Commission and the G-20 agricultural ministers have put long-only index fund speculation near the top of their lists of the most egregious financial abuses.

    • How Goldman Sachs Created the Food Crisis

      It took the brilliant minds of Goldman Sachs to realize the simple truth that nothing is more valuable than our daily bread. And where there’s value, there’s money to be made. In 1991, Goldman bankers, led by their prescient president Gary Cohn, came up with a new kind of investment product, a derivative that tracked 24 raw materials, from precious metals and energy to coffee, cocoa, cattle, corn, hogs, soy, and wheat. They weighted the investment value of each element, blended and commingled the parts into sums, then reduced what had been a complicated collection of real things into a mathematical formula that could be expressed as a single manifestation, to be known henceforth as the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (GSCI).

    • How Wall Street Thieves, Led by Goldman Sachs, Took Down the Global Economy — Their Outsized Influence Must be Stopped

      If we don’t bust up Big Finance, there soon will be another financial crisis that will destroy what’s left of our middle-class way of life.

  • DRM

    • Is Defective by Design getting any traction at all?

      What if they gave a protest, and nobody came? The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is calling May 4 the “Day Against DRM,” but is it getting any traction? From the look of its 2011 wiki page, not very much.

      You’d think that an anti-DRM day would be a pretty easy sell. Digital Restrictions Management (the entertainment industry would call it “Digital Rights Management,” but I’ll side with the FSF here) is tolerated at best — and hated by many. I’ve never talked to anyone, no matter how computer literate or illiterate, who thought a scheme to lock their content to specific devices so it couldn’t be shared or transferred to different devices was a great idea.

    • It’s Time to Give Digital Rights Management the Boot

      Today may be “Star Wars” Day thanks to its lispy slogan, “May the 4th be with you,” but it’s also a day the Free Software Foundation has chosen to call attention to a tech-enabled problem. Specifically, by designating May 4 as its Day Against DRM, the organization hopes to draw attention to the high costs of digital rights management.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Generic drug firms cry foul as Israel returns to U.S. blacklist

      Israel is on Washington’s list of trading partners whose protections for intellectual property rights it considers inadequate largely because of Israel’s failure to comply with benchmarks it agreed to in February 2010.

    • Copyrights

      • Federal Court Ruling Shows Fair Dealing Fears Greatly Exaggerated

        While concern over Bill C-32′s digital lock rules has garnered the lion share of attention, the other major issue in the bill is the extension of fair dealing to cover education, parody, and satire. I have characterized those changes as a reasonable compromise – not the full “such as” flexibility that would have been preferable, but helpful extensions that attempt to strike a balance. Some writers groups have reacted angrily to the changes, claiming it will cost them millions in revenue and arguing that it amounts to an “expropriation of property.”

      • Court rules Internet IP addresses are not people

        “I am not an IP number, I am a free man!” OK, so that’s not exactly what actor Patrick McGoohan said in the classic TV show, The Prisoner, but Number 6 would have agreed that people aren’t numbers, and they certainly aren’t their Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. And, now a U.S. District Court has ruled that an IP address is not the same thing as a person’s identification.

      • ACTA

        • Hollywood presses European Parliament to sign ACTA

          A letter that has all the hallmarks of the Motion Picture Association lobbying machine has been circulated to members of the European Parliament, calling on them to agree to sign ACTA without delay. It appears to be an attempt to stall the Parliament from seeking a legal opinion on ACTA.

          The letter follows a move by the Green group, initiating a move to ask the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for an Opinion on the compatibility of ACTA (Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement) with the EU Treaties. ACTA establishes an international IP enforcement regime and threatens to impose measures on Europe which may be either incompatible with the existing EU legal frameework or will impose new provisions, especially in relation to the Internet and online enforcement.

          The lobbying letter appears to be trying to heavy the Parliament into signing ACTA without seeking further legal advice. It suggests that any attempt to seek an ECJ Opinion will substantially set back the
          final adoption and implementation of ACTA in Europe, and postulates the threat that such a delay would “weaken the position of the EU viv-a-vis its international trading partners”.

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