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06.09.11

Links 9/6/2011: Millennius Sells GNU/Linux PCs, Snapshots in EXT4

Posted in News Roundup at 3:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Google discontinues specialised Linux and BSD search pages

    Google has discontinued its specialised Linux and BSD search pages. The services at google.com/linux and google.com/bsd offered search which was limited to a specific topic by searching only relevant web sites, message boards, blogs and other hand-selected sources of information. Users are instead now redirected to google.com/webhp, a standard search page.

  • Fight “lawful access” with Liberté Linux.

    While Canada’s Internet experience is, at present, nothing like the filtered and monitored mess you’d get in say, China, there are some troubling signs ahead. Chief among them is the looming spectre of “lawful access” — explained here by Dr. Michael Geist and the subject of this recent episode of Jesse Brown‘s Search Engine podcast.

    Fortunately, if you’re a Linux user like me there’s no shortage of options to protect your anonymity on the ‘net — hell, there’s an entire distribution dedicated to keeping your online affairs private.

  • Photos: Inside Murdoch’s $5m Linux supercomputer

    Supercomputing group iVEC has invited its first applications from researchers seeking access to its $5 million Linux cluster at Murdoch University.

    The so-called Epic@Murdoch was officially launched by Innovation Minister Kim Carr and State Science and Innovation Minister John Day yesterday, after some five months’ use by ‘early adopters’.

  • Desktop

    • Millennius Goes Old School With PC Towers Running Ubuntu

      Unless you build your own PC (or get one made from your local PC store), or you want a high-end gaming machine, it’s pretty uncommon to find PC towers on the market. But online retailer Millennius has bucked that trend, launch five new tower PCs, all of them running Ubuntu.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • GNOME, KDE and Unity: Virtual Desktops

      Together, GNOME 3, KDE, and Unity probably account for at least two-thirds of Linux desktops. However, each of the three offers a desktop experience that differs strongly from the other two, and nowhere is that difference stronger than in the use of virtual desktops. In fact, few other features show so clearly the design philosophies behind the three desktops.

      Virtual desktops go by a variety of names. Unity and the GNOME 2 series of releases call them workspaces, while GNOME 3 calls them activities. KDE offers activities, each of which can be divided into separate virtual desktops. However, all the names refer to the same basic concept: additional spaces that you can use to reduce the clutter on your screen and organize your open windows.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • Discovering a New World

        This weekend a group of KDE hackers met in a small mountain village, Randa, in Switzerland to discuss the future of the KDE Frameworks. I was not present, but started on Saturday an endevour for the future of the KDE Plasma Workspaces. Yesterday evening I arrived in the new world:

      • digiKam Software Collection 2.0.0 beta6 is out…

        digiKam team is proud to announce the 6th digiKam Software Collection 2.0.0 beta release!

        With this release, digiKam include a lots of bugs fixes to progress in stability for future production use.

        digiKam include since 2.0.0-beta5 a new tool to export on RajCe web service.

      • New GStreamer backend for Phonon

        Along with the availability of QtGStreamer this should improve KDE and GStreamer interaction a lot. Nice stuff!

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Pomodoro Extension Toggle Timer For Gnome Shell ” Take A Break “

        Gnome Shell Extension notify you for how long you been setting since you activate the toggle timer extensions so you can take a break of whatever you are doing or start working on other stuff.

        By Default Pomodoro extensions change number of cycle every 25 minutes and the cycle start counting by one.

  • Distributions

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Mageia Linux 1 (KDE) – First Look and Background Information

        After spending a little time with it, I have to say it’s a very nice first effort from the Mageia team, and I look forward to spending some more time with it. Lots of very up-to-date software, lots of desktop environments available, and, of course, the drakeconf tools.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • The Fruits of DEX Begin to Emerge

        A few months ago DEX was introduced to work with the Debian Front Desk to aid Linux developers in contributing back upstream to Debian. The Front Desk provides resources such as documentation, contacts, and a discussion forum in this goal, but DEX goes a step further by organizing developers from Debian and Debian derivatives to monitor and merge changes into the Debian development tree. They hoped this would make the contributing back process easier for those derivatives to better the Debian codebase.

        Today we got our first update on their progress. Matt Zimmerman, Ubuntu and Debian developer (among many other things), has blogged that their first goal has been reached.

      • Debian Project News – June 8th, 2011
      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Making the Evolutionary Leap from Meerkat to Narwhal

            ’m very happy with Ubuntu as a desktop operating system. I’ve used it for years with no significant issues. In fact, Ubuntu excels where other disributions fail. Even Linux arch rival Windows, is often left in the last century compared to the innovations perpetrated by the Canonical group. But what about Natty Narwhal? Is the hype worth the effort? I’d have to say, “Yes.” Although, I’m not 100 percent sold on Unity, I’m impressed with its boot speed, shutdown speed, and snappy performance. Oh, and there’s that little matter of The Launcher.

          • Loyal opposition: What it means

            “Ubuntu has many good points, not the least of which are kick-starting serious effort in making a really good desktop Linux, making inroads into the commercial computer market, genuinely welcoming new contributors, and inspiring hosts of respins and derivatives. Think back to the pre-Ubuntu days– Debian releases were stretching out ever longer (over three years!), Mandriva is perennially in crisis, Red Hat is uninterested in the consumer market….hmmm, methinks I spy an article in this subject.” (emphasis added)

            So I’ll take a bow for contributing to the inspiration behind Carla writing this article, which is outstanding. Its outstanding nature outshines the fact that there are a couple of minuscule glitches in the article itself — one is that while Red Hat may not care about the desktop market, it established Fedora Core and the Fedora Project at the same time it “went enterprise” (not terribly clear in the article), and Fedora started roughly a year before Ubuntu came along. Also, for all the great things it rightfully says about Ubuntu — let me repeat that, for all the great things it rightfully says about Ubuntu — it still doesn’t address the community’s lack of technical contributions back to the greater FOSS community, for starters.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

      • Small tablet improvements

        If you’re interested in testing out this on a WeTab, you’ll need the accelerometer driver in the kernel, udev git (or udev 172 when it’s released) and gnome-settings-daemon master.

Free Software/Open Source

  • How Open Source Projects Can Prepare Students for Better Careers

    Paula Hunter is the executive director of the Outercurve Foundation. With over two decades of open source experience, she has served in leadership roles at organizations such as Open Source Development Labs and United Linux. Follow her on Twitter @huntermkt.

    Free and open source software (FOSS) is at the root of the most innovative products, technologies and services of our time. The Social Network may have taken some Hollywood liberties, but there’s still a big story to tell about today’s colleges as the hotbeds of innovation, much of it driven by FOSS.

  • Open Source for Vertical Apps: Is Wall Street Ready?

    Think of the kind of financial services firms that populate Wall Street and the City of London. The sort of collaborative ethos that surrounds open source does not immediately come to mind. Rather we see images of cut throat competition and a boundless desire to create a competitive edge, any way, any how.

  • On the value of contributing opinions

    I recently read a mail on the KDE core-devel mailinglist by Eike Hein. It was quite a good description of the value of opinions and ideas for a FOSS project – something I’ve been thinking about quite a bit lately.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • OpenOffice + Apache = Open Content Innovation

      I will let other people debate Oracle’s motivations, Apache vs. The Document Foundation (TDF), etc. but here are a few interesting facts: OpenOffice is one of the most successful and vast open source projects in the world (1.2 million downloads a week and 135 million known distributions). OpenOffice.org gets 10x the number of unique visitors as the Apache.org homepage itself, according to Compete. By measures of downloads and web traffic, OpenOffice is as relevant as ever.

    • Like a box of chocolates

      There’s the OpenOffice.org handoff — or as some would put it, the OO.o drop kick — to the Apache Foundation by Oracle. This comes as no surprise. If Oracle were a good FOSS citizen, they’d have given it to the Document Foundation and LibreOffice would be its rightful heir. But this is Oracle we’re talking about, right? With Oracle finally washing their hands of OO.o, it remains to be seen what becomes of it. But since the barn door has been open for quite some time and the LibreOffice horse is at home out in the pasture, I am not sure if keeping OO.o around would be worth it.

  • BSD

    • FreeNAS 8 review

      FreeNAS is a popular FreeBSD-based operating system for network-attached storage (NAS). Thanks to the easy-to-use web interface, you don’t have to know anything about the FreeBSD base under the hood to share your files…

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Richard Stallman Takes Aim At eBooks

      Enthusiasm for eBooks seems to know no bounds these days, with Amazon even noting that its eBook sales are outpacing sales of hardback and paperback books. Free software pundit Richard Stallman isn’t having any of the trend, though. In an article titled “The Dangers of eBooks,” highlighted by PC Pro, Stallman builds a case against eBooks. His rant is not dissimilar to the one he recently supplied against smartphones, where he even noted that he doesn’t carry a cell phone. When it comes to eBooks, Stallman has some particularly notable objections.

      Stallman claims that eBooks “don’t respect our freedom,” and points to the DRM that comes with eBooks downloaded from Amazon (DRM is also built into many eBooks from other suppliers). He also notes that “Amazon requires users to identify themselves to get an eBook.”

    • EBooks are “attacking our freedom”

      Free software guru Richard Stallman has called on consumers to reject eBooks until they “respect our freedom”.

      In an article entitled The Dangers of eBooks (PDF), the founder of the Free Software Foundation warns that “technologies that could have empowered us are used to chain us instead”.

      He highlights the DRM embedded in eBooks sold by Amazon as an example of such restrictions, citing the infamous case of Amazon wiping copies of George Orwell’s 1984 from users’ Kindles without permission.

    • Two new projects can help free software replace Skype

      Skype has been in the news a lot lately: Microsoft agreed to buy the company, their network has gone down twice recently, and they’re threatening to take unspecified action against developers who try to write free software to make calls on their system. This all merely adds insult to injury; the software has always been nonfree, and that’s why a free software replacement for Skype has been on our High Priority Projects list since October 2008. Lots of people use software like Ekiga and Twinkle to make simple VoIP calls, but they’re still missing some features, and that prevents people from making the switch to using free software. Thankfully, a couple of new projects aim to close this gap, and both have made some promising progress over the last month.

Leftovers

  • Twitter the Winner in Weinergate
  • Health/Nutrition

    • Health Insurers Have Had Their Chance

      Of the many supporters of a single-payer health care system in the United States, some of the most ardent are small business owners who have struggled to continue offering coverage to their workers.

      Among them are David Steil, a small business owner and former Republican state legislator in Pennsylvania who earlier this year became president of the advocacy group Health Care 4 All PA.

      Another supporter is Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, who last Thursday signed a bill that sets the stage for the country’s first single-payer plan. If all goes as Shumlin and the bill’s many backers hope, all 620,000 Vermonters will eventually be enrolled in a state-run plan to replace Blue Cross, CIGNA and other private insurers whose business practices have contributed to the number of Vermonters without coverage — approximately 60,000 and growing.

    • Military underprices tobacco more than law allows

      Smoking and chewing tobacco use in the armed forces is widespread. Yet many military bases break the rules and sell tobacco at big discounts.

    • It’s official: Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide causes birth defects

      A new report by some top scientists has nailed it down, and Monsanto isn’t going to be happy. The Agri-giant has built its entire business model, including genetically modified (GMO) crops that dominate the US market, around its Roundup brand herbicide.

      They last thing they want to admit is that it causes birth defects.

      But that’s just what a group of scientists from a diverse group – including Cambridge University, the King’s College London School of Medicine, and the Institute of Biology, UNICAMP, São Paulo, Brazil – have found.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • The Energy Limit Model

      But it’s not like Americans haven’t tried to reduce their use of the primary energy source–oil. In the chart below, we can see that US consumption of oil, expressed in BTU, has fallen dramatically from the highs of mid-decade. While the US consumption of coal and natural gas—and also wind and solar power—has rebounded more strongly since the 2009 lows, US consumption of oil is still down nearly 11.00% from peak. This aspect of the story contains both good news and bad news, which I will explain below. | see: US Annual Petroleum Consumption in Quadrillion BTU 1995-2010.

    • The World Turns to Coal

      The latest BP Statistical Review was published in London this morning, and following a theme presented for years at Gregor.us, global growth in coal consumption continues to soar. Now that global oil production is flat, and is no longer able to fund new industrial expansion, coal remains the cheap BTU and of course the preferred energy source of the Developing World (non-OECD).

  • Finance

    • Russ Feingold Leads Thousands in Budget Protest at Wisconsin Capitol

      Former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold led the march from Madison Fire Station 1 toward the Capitol. Feingold was born in Janesville, Wisconsin, and marched up to the Capitol with Rock County AFSCME member past the standing “Walkerville” tent encampment, whose friendly inhabitants set up refreshment tables to help crowds battle the crushing heat. Feingold refused to address speculation that he might oppose Scott Walker in the next election, but signs, T-shirts and chants of “Russ for Governor” indicated mounting support for his candidacy.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Fearful Teen Commits Suicide Due to Harold Camping’s Judgment Day Prediction

      A 14-year-old girl from Russia was so scared of the May 21 doomsday and rapture prediction made by Harold Camping that she committed suicide the same day, investigators said Wednesday. The teenager wanted to choose death rather than be among the ones suffering on earth after the rapture.

    • Corporate lobby targets African-Americans for NC bill raising loan interest rates

      North Carolina has some of the most stringent consumer protection rules in the country against predatory lending. In 2010, lending groups ramped up campaign contributions [pdf] to elect lawmakers more hospitable to their interests, and are now pushing a bill that would allow lenders to raise the interest rates they charge on consumer loans — and reaching out to African-American voters who would be among those most affected by the measure.

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