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08.29.11

Links 29/8/2011: Mandriva 2011, Raspberry Pi (Linux Board) Runs Quake 3

Posted in News Roundup at 5:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Kids today need a licence to tinker

    Back to school time and millions of British kids are heading back to classrooms to embark on the national curriculum so beloved of busybody ministers. One item in particular on that curriculum will bemuse the youngsters. It goes by the initials ICT, short for information and communication technology. If they are in primary school, they will have to get through key stages 1 and 2. Secondary pupils have to get through stages 3 and 4 which, the soon-to-be-abolished Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency tells us, “have been developed to enable schools to raise standards and help all their learners meet the challenges of life in our fast-changing world”. Michael Gove, the government’s education supremo, has set in train a root-and-branch overhaul of the national curriculum, but for the time being our kids are stuck with the current version.

    [...]

    Another takes students through converting their paper-based designs for data entry forms and invoices into “the real thing”, using “a spreadsheet program”. Guess which spreadsheet program? If you answered Microsoft Excel, go to the top of the class, because that’s what the vast majority of British schools have.

    [...]

    How we got to this ridiculous state of affairs is a long story. It’s partly about how education departments, like generals, are always preparing for the last war. Thus, while we’re moving into a post-PC age, our ICT curriculum is firmly rooted in the desktop computer running Microsoft Windows. It’s also partly about the technophobia of teachers, local councillors and officials. But it’s mainly about the chronic mismatch between the glacial pace of curriculum change in a print-based culture, and the rate of change in the technology.

    There might have been a time when computers and networking were so exotic that ICT deserved a special roped-off space in the curriculum. But those days are long gone. Retaining it nowadays as a discrete subject is as absurd as it would be to have “books” as a special component of the national curriculum – a point nicely made by the educational research group Alt-C in its recent submission to Michael Gove.

    [...]

    When will the Raspberry Pi go into production?

    We are hoping to start shipping them in November. The first customers will be probably hobbyists, but I have had hundreds of emails from all over the globe. I’ve had inquiries from headmasters in Kenya asking where they can get 1,000 units for their schools. Moreover, at £15 it could help get a computer into low-income households in the UK and create opportunities for children in those families to develop an interest in programming.

    What kind of stuff can you do with it?

    You can program it using scripting languages like Python, or compiled languages like C and C++. You could write a game of a similar level to Angry Birds or Quake 3. You can run Firefox on it and free office software such as OpenOffice.org.

  • Linux Australia to live stream SGM

    Linux Australia is holding a special general body meeting tonight to vote on some pending issues – and for the first time the organisation will be live-streaming the meeting.

  • Desktop

    • What’s Wrong With This Picture?

      These fail to notice that GNU/Linux does make it on the desktop around the world in particular markets, like the BRIC countries. All of the “reasons” vanish when monopolistic control of retail shelves and OEMS is weak. The reasons GNU/Linux makes it on the desktop are many:

      * the four freedoms work for real people,
      * because GNU/Linux is Free Software it may be freely copied, lowering the cost of acquisition for everyone,
      * there are millions of developers of FLOSS working cooperatively around the world to deliver software the world needs,
      * the four freedoms also ensure the software is flexible and can be used for optimal benefit to users, not restricted by the marketing plans of a business,
      * the low cost of acquisition is a huge advantage for the poor, students and young people who are not rich,
      * the low cost of acquisition keeps the bulk of expenditures for supply and distribution in the local economy, where the software is actually used, maximizing benefits of the activity,
      * the software works on ARM just as well as it works on old and new computers of all kinds, and
      * the software works faster and more reliably because the only objective for its existence is to run, not to lock-in users to some corporation’s plan for world domination.

  • Kernel Space

    • 20th Anniversary of Linux Gallery Tour
    • Linux at 20: the quiet giant

      Linux, the operating system that grew out of Linus Torvalds’ “hobby”, now runs the majority of the world’s web servers, including those (CDN networks) that deliver The Telegraph website.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Mesa Kills Old Hardware Support: No More 3dfx Voodoo

        The death sentence to legacy Mesa drivers was carried out over the night. All DRI1 drivers have been removed from the Mesa tree along with support for BeOS and other old code, in an effort to remove drivers that receive little maintenance and are just causing a greater burden in re-factoring core Mesa code for the modern drivers. This means though that the Linux desktop loses its support for hardware like VIA Unichrome and 3dfx Voodoo graphics cards.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

  • Distributions

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

    • Gentoo Family

      • Quick Look at Sabayon 6 (GNOME)

        A bit more than a year ago I had a look at the LXDE and Xfce spins of Sabayon 5.3 and came away quite unimpressed as they even refused to install on my low end hardware, but to be fair both these editions are still experimental and the advice is to use the more mature main GNOME and KDE editions.
        So today, with number 6 out, I’ll finally write about those, and without hardware restrictions because I do not expect them to perform with less than 512 MB RAM. Some distributions still manage to do so, but Sabayon is known to be on the heavy side, and it isn’t a problem on this Acer Aspire 5551 with 4GB.

        Sabayon is a customized distribution spin based on Gentoo, for those who don’t fancy doing the whole compile and configure from absolute scratch. That’s also already where the problem lies for me. What’s the point of wanting to use a distribution whose strength it is apparently that everything is custom compiled for the machine it is on, when you then use a pre-compiled version of it done by somebody else on their machines. Why not just use any other binary distribution or ArchLinux as a happy medium, which does provide ready made packages but is both faster and just as configurable, with the option of compiling extra packages that you want to add to the small base should you be so inclined, or just go with what’s available in the repository. Anyway, the choice is yours.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • A Complete Review of Bodhi Linux With Screenshots

          Bodhi Linux was recommended to me as a possible solution to try after I mentioned having system resource issues with Ubuntu One. I have to admit I’ve been rather curious about Bodhi as I have read several rave reviews on it.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Full Circle magazine #52 is out!
          • Ubuntu One Developer Evening In Manchester On Thursday

            On Thursday 1st September at 7pm in Lecture Theatre C014 at Manchester Metropolitan University the ever-enjoyable Stuart Langridge will be giving a presentation about how to write applications that harness Ubuntu One. He will talk about the different APIs, how to write web, desktop and mobile apps using the technology, and the interesting ways in which Ubuntu One can empower your apps.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Demo – Raspberry Pi running Quake 3

      Here’s something to liven up your weekend: a video of the Raspberry Pi running Quake 3. We’re still working on ironing a few kinks out (specifically, there seems to be a library issue which means our framerate, while good, isn’t quite as spectacular as we know it can be; we’re working on it as I post this) – but this is what test boards are for, and we’re making great progress getting the boards running smoothly.

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

      • Ten… budget Android tablets

        Tablets, eh? A nice idea but a shame about the price. From the iPad to the Xoom, the PlayBook to the TouchPad prices starting at or near £400 are a little on the steep side for many folk. Well, the TouchPad maybe an exception these days but only very recently.

        You’ll pay a premium to buy into fondleslabs from Apple, HP or RIM, but Android users have another option, a cheap tablet. These can be picked up for anything between £100 and £230 and sometimes less if you are in the right place at the right time.

        Across the board cheap Android tablets are nowhere near as ghastly as they were just a year ago. Of course, there are sacrifices. You are not going to get Honeycomb or a glass screen or a true multi-day battery life. Increasingly, what you will get is a capacitive rather than resistive screen, Android in it’s 2.2 or 2.3 incarnation – rather than antediluvian 1.6 version – and even access to the Android Market and Google mobile apps.

Free Software/Open Source

  • It’s Not About the Software

    A few days ago, I had an epiphany. I, like many of my readers, have spent a good portion of my life advocating for libre software. There has always been a particular glow to the idealistic concept of information flowing through society, and to the possibility of adaptation to a particular context. Unfortunately, as most advocates and critics alike have come to learn, a good portion of libre software is known to few beyond the developer, and modifications to suit a particular need are not nearly as common as advocates would have one believe.

    What, then, is the allure of libre software? Is it the simple possibility of these theoretical ideals? Why should we use, develop, or recommend libre software over the alternative proprietary platforms that my have more features? “The development model,” claim some, “is collaboration based, and ensures no malignancies will enter into the codebase.” However, only some libre software is developed this way. Many projects are quite unforgiving to new contributors, and most projects never pique the interest of anyone at all for contributions. Because of this, malignancies cannot necessarily be avoided. When nobody is interested in or capable of (without a fork) making changes, the hypothetical options available to prevent intentional dysfunctions dissolve in practicality.

  • Mozilla

    • Why Mozilla’s Firefox Rapid Release Cycle Works and Why it Doesn’t.

      There has been a lot of discussion this week about Mozilla’s Rapid Release cycle. Much of that discussion was fueled by a blog post from Mozilla Chief, Mitchell Baker.

      Baker’s post is a defence of the new cycle, which has caused lots of concern in the Mozilla community and elsewhere. Baker’s view is that the browser needs to be more like the Internet.

    • Light Switch, Dim Everything But Media In Firefox

      It can sometimes be very irritating to interact with elements on a web page if other page elements catch your attention as well. Have you ever tried to watch a video on a web page only to be distracted by an animated banner on the same page? Or maybe you have played games and more than once failed to complete your objective because you have looked over at the auto-updating chat window?

    • Future Firefox Features, What I’m Looking Forward To
    • Open Fire Fox inside Fire Fox Tab -Firefox Tips and Tricks
    • About Firefox About
    • Firefox 7.0 Beta 2

      Firefox Beta is the build for those who like a little bit of jeopardy, but who don’t want to risk everything by trying out Firefox Aurora. It gives you a sneak peek at the next version of Firefox with a relatively stable build that’s not quite ready for primetime, but still pretty solid.

    • Firefox 6 already sees bump in traffic soon after debut

      Firefox 6 officially debuted last week with a host of new features and security fixes. Internet users must already be flocking to the latest version of Mozilla’s browser at a rapid pace — at least according to Chitika Insights (a.ka. the research arm of online advertising network Chitika).

    • Firefox Ships with 6000 Potential Bugs, Community Lead Departs

      A blog post published by Community Lead Tyler Downer rocks Mozilla as he claims that Mozilla Triage QA process is broken and he believes that the current rapid release process drowns Firefox in a sea of bugs with no land in sight.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • CMS

    • Hacking Joomla! — the fast and easy way

      Popular open source Content Management Systems (CMSs) like Drupal, Joomla! and WordPress, are regularly subject to source code reviews as well as blackbox pentesting. Thus, vulnerabilities in these systems are quickly identified and fixed. And security updates are frequently released.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Defence bolsters search for open source software

      The Department of Defence has stepped up its push for open source software to reduce its $100 million annual software licensing bill.

      Last week, it joined five other government agencies in forming the Open Technology Foundation, which aimed to facilitate collaboration and interoperable technology in the public sector.

      Defence chief technology officer Matt Yannopoulos said the department had been considering open source software for more than three years.

      Prior to the Federal Government’s introduction of a more aggressive open source policy in January, Defence had not “specifically encouraged” open source software tenders from the market.

    • “Giving Back” Instead of Paying for Licences

      We all know The City of Munich is in the process of migrating the majority of its PCs to GNU/Linux and has migrated all its employees to OpenOffice.org. DBI Gmbh is a business that provides IT services especially software migration. These are two examples of organizations giving back to the FLOSS community to make better software for the world.

Leftovers

  • Say What? Top Five IT Quotes of the Week
  • H-P’s One-Year Plan

    Let’s say you were given a year to kill Hewlett-Packard. Here’s how you do it:

    Fire well-performing CEO Mark Hurd over expense-report irregularities and a juicy sexual-harassment claim that you admit has no merit. Fire four board members, as publicly as possible. Foment a mass exodus of key executives who actually know how to run the giant computer company.

    Hire new a CEO from German competitor, SAP, which sells business software, not consumer products. Tell the new CEO, Leo Apotheker, that Mr. Hurd “left H-P in great shape.”

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Prosecuting War Crimes? Be Sure to Read the Fine Print

      Especially if they’re convicted. Justice is better than revenge. And justice must be done for the relatives of the victims as well as for the dead. Part two of the Mubarak trial this month was a case in point. Egyptians want to know exactly who ordered the killing of innocent demonstrators. Who was to blame? And since the buck stops—or is meant to stop—at the president’s desk, how can Mubarak ultimately escape his just deserts? The same will apply to Gaddafi when—if?—we get him.

    • WikiLeaks: U.S. Embassy asked State Department to vet IDF chief Gantz in 2008

      The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv asked the U.S. State Department to carry out a background check on current Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz in October 2008, according to a diplomatic cable leaked by the WikiLeaks website.

      Gantz, then the IDF’s attache in Washington, came under scrutiny due to the Leahy Law, which bans the United States from assisting foreign military units that violate human rights.

    • New WikiLeaks Cables Show US Diplomats Promote Genetically Engineered Crops Worldwide

      Dozens of United States diplomatic cables released in the latest WikiLeaks dump on Wednesday reveal new details of the US effort to push foreign governments to approve genetically engineered (GE) crops and promote the worldwide interests of agribusiness giants like Monsanto and DuPont.

      The cables further confirm previous Truthout reports on the diplomatic pressure the US has put on Spain and France, two countries with powerful anti-GE crop movements, to speed up their biotech approval process and quell anti-GE sentiment within the European Union (EU).

  • Cablegate

  • Finance

    • Madoff whistleblower: Here’s the next big fraud

      The man whose e-mails detailing Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme were ignored by the Securities and Exchange Commission has a new target — foreign exchange fraud.

    • Wikileaks: Speculators Helped Cause Oil Bubble

      When oil prices surged to a ridiculous $147 a barrel in the summer of 2008, conventional wisdom held that normal supply and demand issues were the cause. Both the Bush administration (in the form of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission) and most of Wall Street (through both media figures and market analysts) blamed such factors as increases in oil demand from the Chinese industrial machine, and the failure of Americans to conserve, for the surge in crude prices.

    • Let’s Get Political…Government Should UPHOLD the Law NOT Help Break It.

      Politics and our government specifically has, in my opinion, done more to break and circumvent laws. This complete disregard for our laws and the protection of our people has been led by the leaders of our government from the President on down to our Congressmen, Senators, Governors, Mayors and even Judges. This has been gong on for quite some time but became blatantly evident during the George W. Bush administration. It matters not Republican or Democrat. Both sides are guilty and seem to work from the same play book in what I have called a Democratic Dictatorship.

      From illegal wiretapping to allowing white collar crime (for a select group of elite primarily in the finance industry), our government – past and present – continue to violate our Constitution and our constitutional rights if it works to their advantage.

    • Dylan Ratigan Interviews Director Charles Ferguson – How Wall Street Took Over Government

      Both Glenn Hubbard and Laura Tyson have played major roles in American economic policy, and both also, unfortunately, exemplify the disturbing, opaque conflicts of interest that pervade the economics discipline.

      Over the last thirty years, academic economics has been penetrated by special interests, particularly financial services, in the same way that America’s political and regulatory systems have been compromised by campaign contributions and the revolving door. In fact, the “revolving door” is now a triangular trip between industry, government, and academia.

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