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Links 21/6/2011: Commodore C64 With GNU/Linux, N8 With Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 5:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Just how hard is Linux to use?

    As an example, to my knowledge the Android operating system is the most popular one for smart phones right now. Why? Presumably because of it’s ease of use. Android is at it’s heart a Linux distribution. It has simply been configured to provide an easy to use interface between you, the user, and the hardware.

  • A Linux User Tries Mac OS X

    I was bothered to learn that my customization options for OS X were much more limited than I had anticipated.

  • New ‘Commodore 64′ systems start shipping this week

    The new Commodores come with Ubuntu Linux installed, but eventually the company promises to offer a copy of ‘Commodore OS 1.0 ‘ which supports all old Commodore compatible software via emulation. Too bad the device doesn’t include a floppy drive or we could all dig out our copies of Lode Runner and Raid on Bungeling Bay and relive the 80′s. Er, assuming the disks are still good after sitting in a damp basement for 25 years. The company does say a “classic game pack” will come with the Commodore OS pack.

  • Commodore C64 Units Begin Shipping Next Week, Custom Orders Available
  • Server

    • Japan’s 8-petaflop K Computer is fastest on earth

      The K Computer’s success marks the first time Japan has claimed the number one spot on the Supercomputing Top 500 since November 2004, when NEC’s Earth Simulator was dethroned after a two-year reign.

    • New Managed Virtual Private Servers by Bitpalast

      In a race for new customers web space provider Bitpalast makes additional In addition to its Managed FreeBSD servers, web space provider Bitpalast now also offers Managed Red Hat Linux servers.

  • Kernel Space

    • Graphics Stack

      • Gallium3D Clover Can Now Execute OpenCL Native Kernels

        One of the Google Summer of Code projects pertaining to Mesa / X.Org is to bring-up open-source OpenCL support with the Gallium3D driver architecture. There’s long been a branch of Mesa dubbed “Clover” that provides an OpenCL state tracker for the Gallium3D driver architecture, but it hasn’t been usable as there’s a lot of work to be finished. This GSoC project attempts to change that and there’s already been a big milestone achieved.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • The Grand Review of three new desktops, pt. 2: the Unity experience

      In a very short while, I have had the opportunity to try three new desktops. KDE 4 (not new but completely unknown to me previously), Unity on Ubuntu Natty (not a new desktop, but a novel shell nevertheless), and GNOME 3. I shall describe my experiences in a big review of each, in three parts.

      Part 1 concerned my experience as a KDE newbie and also provided some historical background on my desktop habits. This one is about Unity, Ubuntu’s new desktop shell.

  • Distributions

    • What’s cooking? It’s SliTaz

      The system installer is probably the most obvious weak point in SliTaz. It’s brief, which is nice, but it’s missing options. It would also be nice if the installer handled partitioning (or offered to launch GParted) and made setting mount points easier. There are just over 2,700 packages in SliTaz’s repositories and the amount of available software (or the lack of) may be an issue for some users. The basics are in there, but it’s a small selection compared to the big name Linux projects. On the positive side, SliTaz is the smallest distro I’ve used that’s useful as a desktop OS right away. The speed is impressive, especially when running from RAM, and the flexibility shown by the developers, for example providing floppy images, is welcome. This is a good project to look at if you’re in possession of older equipment or plan to perform hardware testing, data recovery or other tasks requiring a live disc. I wouldn’t recommend SliTaz to newcomers to Linux, but for people who don’t mind seeing the command line occasionally and are passingly familiar with device naming, this distribution packs a lot of tools into a small bundle.

    • New Releases

      • Greenie 9N
      • Clonezilla 1.2.9-7
      • Absolute 13.38 released
      • Webconverger 8.0
      • PelicanHPC GNU Linux

        15 June 2011. Out a bit earlier than expected, v2.5 is available. The virtualbox guest stuff seemed to be causing some trouble, so it has been removed. Added dynare 4.2.1 (from source) and some examples for a research paper. If you would like to replicate results from “Indirect Likelihood Inference” by D. Kristensen and myself, see the directory /home/user/Econometrics/MyOctaveFiles/Econometrics/IL. Most PelicanHPC users will have no interest in that, of course!

      • DoudouLinux – The computer they prefer!

        DoudouLinux [1] is specially designed for children to make computer use as easy and pleasant as possible for them (and for their parents too! [2]). DoudouLinux provides tens of applications that suit children from 2 to 12 years old and gives them an environment as easy to use as a gaming console. Kids can learn, discover and have fun without Dad and Mum always watching!

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • apt-get, aptitude, … pick the right Debian package manager for you

        This is a frequently asked question: “What package manager shall I use?”. And my answer is “the one that suits your needs”. In my case, I even use different package managers depending on what I’m trying to do.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Why Google will not buy Canonical

            I personally don’t see google buying canonical happening any time soon. (Nor should they) Canonical’s business model is built round the very thing google wants to kill – The Desktop (as we know it)
            Google’s business model is built round ads and cloud services, imperative to this model is the need to get everyone to the browser, the cloud and away from the traditional means of using the computer which involves having an OS built around local computer resources Hard drive, CPU, etc.. Ubuntu (Windows and Mac OSX) represent the very thing google is trying the get the world away from.

          • Is Ubuntu on the way out?

            A distinguished Website is asking the question: “Is Ubuntu on the way out?” They cite Distrowatch’s Page Hit Rankings as the catalyst for this query. According to said PHR, Ubuntu has fallen to the number three position in the one month tally behind Linux Mint and Fedora.

            The the past year Mint has remained in the number two spot with Fedora occupying the third position. For the last six month Ubuntu’s popularity remained stagnant and fell within the last three months. And as said it actually fell down the chart this past month.

            Some initial comments seem to indicate that premise is incorrect. Several assert that Ubuntu is probably just finding a new audience. One said, “I think the real question is ‘Is Ubuntu on the way out for new users?’” Another said, “I get the feeling that those of who are more power-users are moving over to other distros such as Fedora and Arch. Another echoed similar thoughts by saying, “Ubuntu is repositioning itself. It obviously is no longer targeted at the new comer. That role has been taken over by Mint.”

          • How the open source community reacts to poor design

            As you well know, I’ve been going off a lot lately on how Canonical and Ubuntu made quite the mistake with Unity. Not only has it seemingly had the opposite effect of its name, it was quite poorly designed. Unity is filled with design flaws (such as the window menu system and the horrible new scroll bars that don’t always work) that make its usage less than ideal.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • A Quick Look at Pinguy OS 11.04

              Ubuntu may be the most popular desktop Linux choice, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the total install-base of its derivatives proved to be the more impressive of the two. Out of the box, Ubuntu does a lot right, but it does leave a lot up to the user in terms of installing codec support, tweaking tools that are actually worth using, common proprietary applications and of course, some eye candy. For that reason, distros like Linux Mint have deservedly earned a die-hard fanbase over the years, as it looks good, takes care of many basic post-install chores for you, and is enjoyable to use.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

      • Ready or not, here come the business tablets

        It’s not just iPads, though. At CES, everyone and his OEM announced tablets, including the BlackBerry PlayBook from RIM, numerous Android tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, HP’s webOS tablets and even some Windows tablets. But, while everyone might want a tablet, or maybe two if they’re small, will these mobile devices find a home in business?

      • Netbook charges via built-in solar panel

        Samsung announced a netbook with a built-in solar panel and 14.5-hour battery life. The NC215S also offers hybrid fast start technology, the ability to charge portable devices even when it’s turned off, a choice of Atom processors, and a 250GB or 320GB hard disk drive.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Ad Bard, The Advertising Network Serving FOSS Only Ads, is Shutting Down
  • No more technology lock-in

    With the open source adoption, the company estimates cost savings of close to ` 5 crore a year. With the deployment, MMFSL has reduced connectivity, power and other recurring costs by almost 90 percent. ROI was seen within three months of implementation.

  • Why ‘Free and Open’ matters

    Adobe is drop­ping Linux sup­port for their Adobe AIR devel­op­ment plat­form. To be hon­est, I don’t really care. Why? Because I’ve been care­ful enough to not tie my efforts to a pro­pri­et­ary platform.

    I’ve had sev­eral groups offer to write applications/activities for OLPC Aus­tralia using pro­pri­et­ary tools like AIR. I’ve dis­cour­aged them every time. Had we gone with the ‘con­veni­ent’ route and acqui­esced, we would have been in quite a spot of bother right now. My pre­cious resources would have to be spent on port­ing or rewrit­ing all of that work, or just leav­ing it to bit-rot.

  • Web Browsers

    • For Mozilla, Google and Bug Hunters, Bug Bounties Are Big Business

      We’ve written before about bug bounties–cash prizes offered by open source communities to anyone who finds key software bugs–ranging from FOSS Factory’s bounty programs to the bounties that both Google (for the Chrome browser) and Mozilla offer. Over time, these cash rewards for the identification of software problems have become essential parts of the quality control process for many major open source projects, and not just browsers. Now, some interesting, specific information is emerging about exactly which kinds of bug discovers are capitalizing on this trend. You may be surprised at what some of the big earners in the bug bounty business are paid for their efforts.

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Firefox 5 web browser arrives early

        It’s only three months since Mozilla outed the official Firefox 4 browser, but the fifth generation is already ready to roll.

        The Firefox 5 release candidate emerged on Mozilla’s ftp server over the weekend, and barring a few tweaks here and there, the complete version is now available to download.

      • 10 Must-Have Firefox Extensions

        Using browser extensions is a lot like tricking out your car with a new air spoiler, tinted windows, chrome rims, and big flame decals. Too much junk, and you bog down your ride and look silly. With thousands of Firefox extensions to choose from, the main challenge is finding the right ones–and avoiding the lame ones.

      • To understand recursion…
      • Firefox 5 Ready To Launch: Why It Matters

        The final build of Firefox 5 has been available for a few days from the Mozilla HTTP server and it appears that the company has successfully transitioned to a rapid release process. However, Mozilla will face headwind and criticism that Firefox 5 does not offer anything new over Firefox 4. Such claims aren’t exactly accurate: Firefox matters more than it has ever before, but Mozilla needs to realize that it has problems communicating what Firefox really is.

      • Firefox 5 Benchmarked – Faster And Better Than Ever Before!

        Officially, Firefox 5 is scheduled for release tomorrow. However, users of the beta channel have already got their hands on it. One of the promises for Firefox 5 is better performance. We took tested Firefox 5 and benchmarked it against two other browsers – Google Chrome and Opera. We used the latest version of Google Chrome from the beta channel and the latest stable version of Opera – Opera 11.11.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Developer Interview : Markus Mohrhard

      Coding LibreOffice to relax a bit from studying tough mathematical problems? Reed why and how Markus Mohrhard works on LibreOffice!

    • A totally unscientific look at the historical trends regarding forks

      Back in September last year, as the LibreOffice announced its separation from OpenOffice.org and Oracle, I published a quick post comparing the relative success of a variety of forks.


      Almost three quarters after the split, LibreOffice (in red) has certainly narrowed the gap on OpenOffice.org (in blue), but not by a significant margin. However, it is too early to draw any conclusions.

    • Oracle v. Google – Posturing Over Damages – UPDATED

      More filings with and orders from the court this past week with respect to the damage claims asserted by Oracle. You may recall that Oracle hired Boston University finance and economics professor Iain Cockburn to serve as its expert witness on damages it is asserting in its patent infringement claims against Google. The report Cockburn prepared has not been made public, but a copy was delivered to Google. Google perceived the report to be inaccurate, grossly overstating the potential damages, and possibly inflammatory. So Google’s next step was to challenge Cockburn as an expert (this is referred to as a Daubert motion) and supporting their motion with a précis (a summary of the Cockburn report) explaining their position. At the same time, Google asked the court’s indulgence in suppressing a good deal of the précis lest it become public and have the exact inflammatory effect Google was seeking to avoid.

  • Licensing

    • AVM violating license of the Linux kernel

      Tomorrow on June 21st a legal case will be heard before the District Court of Berlin which may have enormous consequences for the way that software is developed and distributed. The adversaries in the case are the manufacturer and distributor of DSL routers AVM Computersysteme Vertriebs GmbH (AVM), and Cybits AG (Cybits) which produces children’s web-filtering software. Both companies use the Linux kernel, which is licensed under the GNU General Public License, version 2 (GNU GPL); a Free Software license permitting everyone to use, study, share, and improve works which use it.

      The case was brought to court by AVM with the aim of preventing Cybits from changing any parts of the firmware used in AVM’s routers, including the Linux kernel. The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) and gpl-violations.org consider AVM’s action as a broad attack against the principles of Free Software, and thus against the thousands of individuals and companies developing, improving and distributing Free Software.

    • With GPLv3, Everything Old Can Be New Again

      I was invited last week to keynote at the Sixth OpenFOAM Conference held at Penn State University in State College, PA. OpenFOAM is a computational fluid dynamics software package released under GPLv3. I was grateful for this opportunity, because rarely do I get the opportunity to meet what I think of as insulated Free Software communities.

      By “insulated”, I don’t mean that these communities are naïve in any way. They are, however, insulated from the usual politics of the general software freedom community. While the users of OpenFOAM are all familiar with GNU/Linux and other interesting software freedom packages, OpenFOAM users and developers aren’t generally reading blogs like mine or following the weekly discussions about copyleft and non-copyleft licensing, or debating with Simon Phipps what “Open By Rule” means.

    • An Attack that Goes to the Heart of Free Software

      The key hack that made free software possible was a legal one: using copyright to keep software free. It did that by demanding a quid pro quo: if you use software made available under the GNU GPL, modify it and distribute it, you too must make it available under the GNU GPL.


      Let’s hope the German judges see through this ploy – and realise just what is at stake here. The current case is nothing less than an attempt to remove what is a key guarantee for the sustainability of the free software movement. If AVM win, the danger is that the whole legal underpinnings of free software may be seriously compromised.


  • Hardware

    • USB 3.0: Great technology, but hard to find

      Over the last few years, the Universal Serial Bus (USB) has become the universal interface. Starting in 1995, when USB 1.0 could only transfer 12 Mbps (Megabits per second), the standard started up slowly. But when USB 2.0 came along in 2000, with its 480 Mbps, the days were numbered for PS/2, serial, parallel, and even the FireWire interface. So, why hasn’t USB 3.0, also known as SuperSpeed USB, with its 5 Gigabits per second (Gbps), become the interface of choice since its introduction in 2008? Well, there are several reasons.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • An American robs a bank of $1, just for free health care in jail

      9News, a local North Carolina news site has posted an unusual story of James Verone, who robbed an RBC bank on Thursday of last week. He had no gun but handed the teller a note that said, “This is a bank robbery, please only give me one dollar.”

      Then he said, I’ll be sitting here on the chair waiting for the police. So, why did he do everything he could to get arrested? He says he did it for medical reasons. Verone has a growth on his chest, two ruptured discs and a problem with his left foot. At 59 years old, no job and a depleted bank account, he thought jail was the best place he could go for medical care and a roof over his head. Verone is hoping for a three-year sentence.

  • Security

  • Cablegate

    • Glenn Greenwald: Supporters of Bradley Manning Risk Jail for Refusing to Testify in WikiLeaks Probe

      Earlier this month, the FBI served a subpoena on David House, one of the founders of the Bradley Manning Support Network who helped publicize the oppressive conditions of Manning’s solitary confinement at the Quantico Marine Corps Base. U.S. Army Private Manning has been imprisoned without charges for his alleged role in releasing classified U.S. documents to the online whistleblowing website, WikiLeaks. House testified before a grand jury last week investigating WikiLeaks and invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Political and legal blogger Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com says if House and other witnesses are offered immunity, they will no longer be able to invoke this right and may refuse to cooperate with the grand jury, risking jail time rather than aid the investigation. [includes rush transcript]

  • Finance

    • Goldman Sachs Fined by ICE Exchange for ‘Disorderly’ Trading

      An ICE committee that investigated the trades “found no evidence of intentional manipulation of the market; nevertheless it considered the breach to be of a serious nature,” ICE said in a circular on its website dated June 17.

      Kelly Loeffler, Atlanta-based spokeswoman for IntercontinentalExchange Inc. (ICE), which owns ICE Futures Europe, said the company doesn’t comment on investigations. Joanna Carss, a London-based spokeswoman for Goldman Sachs, said she couldn’t comment on the matter immediately.

    • Too Big to Fail Redux?

      We spent $700 billion to bail out the too big to fail banks on Wall Street.

      And yet, we might have to do it again.


      Because the big banks are still too big to fail.

      And next time, we might have to spend $5 trillion.

      It ain’t a pretty picture.

      As Neil Barofsky knows better than most.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Duke Nukem PR firm dropped following online review row

      US games publisher Take 2 has parted company with public relations firm The Redner Group, following Twitter comments concerning Duke Nukem Forever.

      Redner’s contract was terminated after it said journalists who gave the game a poor review would be blacklisted.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • British Library makes Google search deal

        Thousands of pages from one of the world’s biggest collections of historic books, pamphlets and periodicals are to be made available on the internet.

        The British Library has reached a deal with search engine Google about 250,000 texts dating back to the 18th Century.

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