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Links 19/7/2011: Why GNU/Linux Feels Better Than Mac OS X, Howard County Library Uses Ubuntu

Posted in News Roundup at 4:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Price of “7″ Premium is $56

    An Italian retailer, Monclick, is selling identical eeePC 1215P with “7″ Premium and Ubuntu. The price difference comes to $56 with that other OS costing that much more. Well, they aren’t identical, quite; that other OS comes in red while Ubuntu comes in black, but who cares? They’re both N570 Atoms at 1.5gHz with 2gB RAM and 12.1inch screen so they are, officially, not netbooks.

  • How to best choose hardware for Linux

    Let’s say you want to buy a laptop and install a Linux distro on it. However, you’re facing a sort of a dilemma. Unlike Windows, which often comes preinstalled and configured with all the necessary drivers, you do not really know if your distro will fully support the underlying hardware. You might end up with a non-functioning system that will require a long time fixing and tweaking.

    So what do you do? How do you choose hardware that will make your Linux flavors behave without compromising on your actual needs? No worries, I will help you. Today, you will learn how to make the best decisions when it comes to purchasing hardware for Linux.

  • Ubuntu VS OS X

    So, if you were like me, and curious about Mac OS X, you can see I am not overall impressed.

  • How Linux saved my computer from Windows Update

    Without the Linux CD, I’d have been stuffed.

  • Desktop

    • Howard County Library and Ubuntu

      Well today I stepped foot inside Howard County Library in Woodbine, MD for the first time and saw that all of their computers were in fact still using Ubuntu. It was so much cooler in real life than what I read about it.

    • On Linux Distributions and Desktops

      However, what names come into mind when you think about Desktops? I believe that in this case, the names which feel most like it are Mac, Windows, Android, Meego, BeOS, ChromeOS, JoliCloud, and so on. Some of them are running proprietary OSes, some of them are partly open, and some of them are actually based on a Linux distribution or a Linux kernel and libraries stack.

      And finally, what comes into mind when you think about the term ‘Linux Desktop’? Without holy wars and discussion which distribution is better (notice the word distribution here), I believe that it is hard to escape from the names as Ubuntu, Mandrake, Linspire, SLED, and similar solutions.

      Some of you perhaps have already got my point. What makes a “Desktop” is not a mere combination of packages, applications, community and artwork; but it is the integration and common feeling among all of its components, and somewhat inherited desire of having a ‘standard’ way of doing everything. And Linux Distributions, on their turn, inherently have the essence of freedom of choice, flexibility and multitude of combinations of applications and goals within, which make them much more flexible on one hand, but much less focused on another.

      Why Linux distributions will never (in my humble opinion) beat Windows or MacOS on desktop? By a one simple reason – they are too flexible. They provide too many options and possibilities by default, without a ‘standard’ way of doing things, and while everything works and is usually tightly integrated, this is still a combination of packages and applications, and not a Desktop. This is not a bad thing – by the contrary, I believe that this is awesome! But this opposite to what is expected from a Desktop experience.

    • Look What’s On Amazon.com’s Best Selling List!

      That’s right folks. On 2011-7-17 at 0634 Winnipeg time, items 8 and 9 in notebooks ordered by “Bestselling” are “Chromebooks” from Samsung.

    • 7 days in the cloud: My week with the Samsung Chromebook

      But, brave soul that I am, I decided to give it a try. This is what I found. I warn you now, it’s a tale of both triumph and tragedy. Well, OK, so it’s really a story of what worked and what didn’t work, but you get the idea.

    • Flash Drive Linux vs. Standard Linux Desktops

      Flash drives have had a long-lasting relationship with Linux distributions. These portable storage devices are among the most reliable for out of the box hardware support on the Linux desktop. Clearly, using flash drives to run Linux has its benefits for various types of users.

      As luck would have it, I was told of a company that is apparently running individual installations of Linux on flash drives for each of their employees. Apparently cost was a major motivation, but so was the need to VPN into the office from home without needing to configure a separate piece of software for each person.

  • Kernel Space

    • Test Driving GNU Hurd, With Benchmarks Against Linux

      Last week there was a GNU Hurd status update, which generated a fair amount of attention as it stated there are plans for a Debian GNU/Hurd release in conjunction with Debian “Wheezy” when it’s out in late 2012 or early 2013. After being in development for more than 20 years, the Hurd is finally taking some shape. The Debian GNU/Hurd installer for Wheezy is even now working, which I tried out and ended up porting the Phoronix Test Suite to GNU Hurd. In this article is a brief look at Debian GNU/Hurd along with the first-ever benchmarks of Debian GNU/Hurd against Debian GNU/Linux.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Missing Functionality From The Linux Graphics Drivers

        While NVIDIA yesterday released a new Linux driver, it was quick to be pointed out in our forums that NVIDIA Optimus Technology still is not officially supported under Linux. But that’s not all that’s missing from their proprietary driver.

        Also still missing is support for Fermi overclocking (overclocking the GeForce 400/500 series). Last August is when I mentioned that it was missing and NVIDIA confirmed they had it disabled in their Linux driver (but not under Windows) for all Fermi hardware. When testing out the NVIDIA GeForce GT 520 last week, I noticed the support was still missing when trying to enable CoolBits. I asked NVIDIA’s Andy Ritger for a status update concerning Fermi overclocking on Linux, but he hasn’t yet responded to that message from five days ago.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • Seven Great Enlightenment (DR17) Themes
    • Get Over The Old UIs

      Anyway, it had the KDE 3.5X series desktop environment as default. I thought, cool! I’ll like this probably. Then I paused. You all should know that pause, right? It’s the one where our mind is actually being rational for a minute and starts spinning trying to figure something out. Then it’s almost as if a bell gets rung once and the answer’s there. My mind was telling me that it remembered that the last time I looked at a distribution using the KDE 3.5X series I thought it looked antiquated at best.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • Community Keynote Interview: Stuart Jarvis

        Stuart: At the moment I mainly try to keep KDE’s marketing in good shape. This means working with the promo team to keep up to date with happenings in our community, and spreading the word about events through articles on the official KDE news site, KDE.News. It also means getting involved in writing press releases about the latest software news and doing a bit of people management to get things done on time.

    • GNOME Desktop

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • Slackware Family

      • Slackware Turns 18

        Slackware 1.0 was released by Patrick Volkerding exactly 18 years ago in 16 July 1993 in an official release when he was still a student. At that time, it was distributed under 24 disks (yes, floppy disks) and it only has two series, A and X. No one will ever thought that it’s now being the oldest maintained Linux distribution up to now Applause

      • A Weekend with Kongoni 2011

        My experience with this new CD was a bit worrisome at the beginning. I inserted it and let its automatic boot go…but got the unpleasant error message that the live CD was not found. Since I had nothing else to do, I rebooted the computer and pressed “enter” before the 10 seconds for the automatic boot were over.

      • Learning to Slack with Kongoni!

        Some days ago, I had said that I was bored since my multi-boot systems were working perfectly. I also said that I wanted to try Kongoni GNU/Linux.

        Since booting the live CD wasn’t enough, my quest for knowledge led me to actually installing this Slackware-based distro. Three were my main motivations to add yet another head to my hepta-boot desktop computer:

        1. I have not tried a purely Libre distro.

        2. I’ve always wanted to try Slackware, but I feel I’m not yet up to it.

        3. I felt it was about time for me to see if I could do well with a text-based installation.

    • Mandrake Family

      • PCLinuxOS Phoenix XFCE Edition 2011-07 – Final is here

        PCLinuxOS Phoenix Edition 2011-07 is now available for download, PCLinuxOS Phoenix Edition 2011-07 features the following updates.

      • A first look at PCLinuxOS 2011.6

        Under the hood PCLinuxOS is still a good distribution. It has a nice installer, the KDE desktop has pretty good defaults and it comes with a wide selection of useful software. It’s the presentation that I feel could use some improvement. I don’t mean the grey theme — it’s not my favourite colour, but at least it’s not purple. No, by presentation I mean, for example, the default icons on the desktop. Most users aren’t going to regularly access their firewall configuration, their localization settings or the LibreOffice Manager. Most users will want to access their web browser and e-mail client on a daily basis, but those icons aren’t on the desktop or the quick-launch bar. The application menu does quite a bit of nesting in some places, even if the sub-menu has just one item in it. Synaptic is a capable package manager, but it’s not as newcomer-friendly as Mageia’s software manager. What it boils down to is that, if we put Mageia beside PCLinuxOS, I think an argument can be made that the latter is more appealing from a technical, “let’s tweak the settings,” point of view, but loses points in presentation and user-friendliness.

      • PCLinuxOS 2011.6 – You don’t give me love
      • Mageia 2 Release Details Revealed

        After an extensive discussion with the community on the Mageia developmental mailing list, Anne Nicolas revealed the results concerning Mageia release and support cycles as well as the release schedule for Mageia 2. The consensus was to use basically the same cycle used in Mageia 1.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Debian 7 might come in a GNU Hurd version

        As you all might be aware Debian is a popular Linux distribution that forms the basis of many other more popular distributions such as Ubuntu. Hurd on the other hand is something you might not be aware of.

        While Linux is most popularly considered a family of operating systems, Free Software Foundations purists reserve that name for the kernel, or the very core of the operating system. They prefer to call the resultant distribution of kernel and software running on the kernel as GNU/Linux since it is a combination of GNU software and the Linux kernel. Debian is thus known as Debian GNU/Linux.

      • Debian invites you to Debian Day

        During Debian Day, the conference opens its doors to anyone interested in finding out more about Debian and Free Software, inviting enthusiasts, users, and developers to a full day of talks on several subjects — such as Free Software in government and enterprise, and involvement — as well as a string of talks about the Debian Project and operating system.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Canonical Finally Hiring Consumer Marketing Expert!

            Canonical has been doing ads focused on business and it’s business products for at last a few months. But the question was when would they finally start advertising Ubuntu itself? Well that time is getting very near. On July 14th Canonical posted this job ad on it’s career portal.

          • Ubuntu 11.10 Says Goodbye to the ‘Me Menu’

            The ‘Me Menu’ will no longer be installed by default in Ubuntu 11.10.

          • Leaky Unity in Oneiric
          • Flavours and Variants

            • Sometimes things don’t go all that well (Linux Mint 11) (Harry Potter was better)

              I installed Linux Mint 11 last night. And this morning. And again this morning. I think I’m done now.

              I’ve been using Linux Mint for several years and just loving it. It’s the most stable, most newbie-friendly, most media friendly Linux I know. Release 7 was terrific, 8 even better — and there I happily stayed until I began having browser woes. I knew there could be hassles jumping three versions forward, but Mint is so friendly I wasn’t worried.


  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • 80 “Funnest” Open Source Applications

    In the summer, we like to take a break from all the serious open source applications that we usually cover and take a look at some apps that are just plain fun.

    This year, we’ve updated our list of the “funnest” open source applications with more games than ever before. In fact, the 2011 list has 74 games in all, including 46 that we’ve never featured before. At the end, we’ve also included a few apps that aren’t really games, but are still pretty fun.

    Notably, the majority of the apps on this list run on multiple platforms, so you should be able to find plenty of games for your system, no matter which operating system you run.

    If you’d like to call attention to a great open source game that isn’t on our list, please make a note in the comments section below.

  • The open source “shallow fork” approach to pre-deployment

    The not-for-profit Outercurve Foundation’s systems infrastructure and integration gallery has launched a new developer competition.

    The open source group’s work with “CoApp” is focused on this community driven “package management system” for open source applications on the Windows Platform.

  • Control Points and Steering Mechanisms in Open Source Software Projects

    Most commercial software today depends on open source software. The commercial software might be using an underlying open source platform, or it might be incorporating open source components, or it might be provided as a commercial open source product itself. Whichever the case, the software firm behind the commercial software needs to ensure that its interests are met by the open source software projects it depends on. This article shows how commercial software firms manage or steer open source software projects to meet their business needs.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Firefox world loses Web dev guru to Chrome

        For years, an extension called Firebug has been a powerful tool that kept Web programmers loyal to Firefox.

        But now, as browser makers add their own tools geared to attract those who build Web sites and applications, the lead Firebug programmer has taken a job with Chrome, CNET has learned.

        “Monday, I start work on next-gen Web dev tools at Google on the Chrome browser team. Consequently I will no longer be contributing routinely to the development and maintenance of Firebug for Firefox,” John J. Barton told members of a Firebug mailing list yesterday.

      • Mozilla Challenges Google: Open Source Chrome Isn’t Good Enough

        There are people who claim that Mozilla does not have the guts to openly challenge Google in the same way the company attacked Microsoft in the mid-2000s. Mozilla’s official competitive strategy can be described as almost being mushy in a time when the company needs to be more aggressive than ever to make its case. But the company gets more confident and its chairman has just told us that, while Google is the lesser of two evils, Firefox will have to evolve to sustain its role as the Robin Hood of the open web.

    • Mozilla

      • At last, the Bird became the Thunderbird

        Well, today I want to talk about Thunderbird 5, a recent update to the popular Email client from Mozilla that I believe is worth talking about.

      • Firefox Is Going 64-Bit: What You Need To Know

        Firefox product manager Asa Dotzler determined that figuring out the 64-bit confusion surrounding Firefox will be “near the top” of his to-do list this summer and fall. One could conclude that Mozilla has no idea at this point what people are expecting from a 64-bit version of Firefox, so Dotzler is asking for some feedback. Considering the advantages and disadvantages of 64-bit – are you ready for a 64-bit Firefox?

      • Firefox at 64-bit: Do You Care?

        Mozilla has begun collecting feedback on what appears to be a more serious approach to move Firefox for Windows from 32 to 64 bit.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Discordant Notes Surround IBM’s Symphony Move

      It was just early June, of course, when Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) decided to donate OpenOffice to the Apache Foundation rather than to LibreOffice — a move at least one blogger equated with a “spiteful child, smashing their toys instead of sharing.”

      Well, so much for any kind of lasting quiet since then. Last week, none other than IBM (NYSE: IBM) announced that it was donating its Lotus Symphony office suite to the Apache OpenOffice.org project, thus throwing its own weight behind the Oracle-affiliated project as well.

    • OpenOffice.org and Symphony: Did IBM Do the Right Thing?

      Along with that sigh of relief, however, red flags began to fly in the FOSS blogosphere because IBM had a hand in Oracle’s decision. Experience has taught open sourcers to be suspicious, and there was plenty of fodder here to make one wary of Big Blue’s possible motives, mostly revolving around IBM Lotus Symphony, the freeware suite that utilizes OpenOffice code. Since the permissive open source Apache License allows a commingling with proprietary code in a way strictly forbidden by the GPL and its derivatives, it was feared that OOo would be neglected as IBM and Oracle focused their efforts on proprietary add-ons to create non-free versions of OpenOffice.

  • Funding


    • Interview with MusicBrainz developer Kuno Woudt
    • Creative Commons Chief Technology Officer

      The Chief Technology Officer manages all aspects of the company’s technology infrastructure and provides strong leadership in setting the overall technology direction and goals for the organization. Responsibilities are twofold. First, directly managing the staff responsible for supporting the technology needs of staff; managing the organization’s intranet and internet services; directing the organization’s varied development projects; ongoing technical oversight of the company’s products and services; and solving the most challenging of technology development problems facing the organization. Second, the CTO is a visionary, looking beyond the existing curve with respect to opportunities and innovations that Creative Commons can explore and embrace to remain timely and relevant to its broad constituency.

  • Licensing

    • Harmony 1.0 Reflections

      The month before the Harmony 1.0 release was quiet, and I was starting to wonder if anyone other than the drafting group was even paying attention any more. So, I was pleasantly surprised to see the posts start to appear last week after the Monday release. Some more positive, some more negative, but the most important thing right now is that people are engaging with Harmony, thinking through what the agreement templates mean, and how they fit in the general FLOSS ecosystem. So far I’ve read posts by: Bradley Kuhn, Dave Neary, Jon Corbet, Mark Webbink, Richard Fontana (part 1 & part 2), Simon Phipps, Stephen Walli and a Slashdot mention (glad for links in the comments if you come across others). I’ve observed a few common themes, so I thought it might be useful to take a step back and ponder through them.

    • Why I would not sign a Harmony Agreement

      Jos blog post today reminded me that I had a look at the Harmony Agreements and tried to decide for me whether I would consider to sign such a CA. To make it short: signing a Harmony Copyright Assignment is for me unacceptable. I think it could be valuable to others why I would not sign such an agreement. As a note: I have signed the KDE Fiduciary Licensing Agreement, so I am not in general opposed to licensing agreements.


  • Security

    • What I’ve learned from (nearly!) a year of open source

      Whilst Agnitio v1.0 was only released 7 months ago I announced that I was writing the tool at SecurityBSides Las Vegas last year and that it would be “free for anyone to download and use” (see slides 49, 50, 51 and 53 here). That particular statement makes me think of one thing in particular I learned and I will cover later in this post.

  • Finance

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • ALEC and the Tobacco Industry

      The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is an influential, under-the-radar organization that facilitates collaboration between many of the most powerful corporations in America and state-level legislative representatives. Elected officials then introduce legislation approved by corporations in state houses across the U.S., without disclosing that the bills were pre-approved by corporations on ALEC task forces.

    • Common Cause Alleges ALEC Violates Non-Profit Status

      Common Cause has asked the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to investigate the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) for possibly violating its tax-exempt status. The request came one day after the Center for Media and Democracy unveiled “ALEC Exposed,” a website uncovering more than 800 model bills created by the corporate-funded organization.

    • ALEC Hotels

      ALEC’s Annual Meetings and Task Force Summits are held in some of the nation’s top travel destinations, at swanky hotels where state legislators and corporate executives enjoy lavish accommodations and exclusive excursions. A registration form for ALEC’s 21st Annual Meeting in Tampa, Florida invited members to “come and experience endless sandy beaches, sunny days, beautiful sunsets and the cool gulf breezes,” at the posh Hyatt Regency, which features more than 17 golf courses within 35 minutes of the hotel. In fact, a golf tournament and clinic sponsored by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company was one of the event’s top activities.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Lawsuit Accuses 70-Year-Old Retired Widow of Downloading Porn via BitTorrent

        We’re fairly certain if you take a random sample of folks in their 70s and ask them to describe what BitTorrent is, the majority of them will tell you to hush up because you’re interrupting Matlock. Even folks much younger who aren’t entrenched in the tech world aren’t likely to be all that familiar with BitTorrent, but they’re all fair game for sue-happy firms looking to score quick settlements for big media.

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