Summary: The last episode of season one of TechBytes and an eclectic catchup with news
Identi.ca, Disapora, and Facebook were discussed in the context of the Web. We then spoke about Mark Shuttleworth on tablets, Unity in Ubuntu, KDE, Trinity, and Apple/Microsoft aggression against Linux, including the outrageous patent deals. “Barcelona” by Giulia y los Tellarini was played around the middle. We ended by discussing what to do in season two.
Posted in Mono, Ubuntu at 6:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz
Summary: Microsoft is drilling a legal loophole into Ubuntu GNU/Linux and apathy still serves Microsoft’s plan
ONE important bug that Canonical no longer tries to squash is the Mono bug. It adds a liability which everyone is well aware of, including the company's outgoing CTO (Canonical reorganised following some important departures at the top)..
The host of TechBytes, Tim, is usually very moderate, but he too is still concerned about Mono inside Ubuntu. The other day he wrote in Diaspora: “I’ve much love for Ubuntu and whilst it’s not my desktop choice now, it’s certainly the one I will recommend to others. The community is great, the distro is great.
“It does though always sadden me when we see Canonical’s insistence to stick with Banshee and ergo Mono. Why?
“Of course removing Mono is not the problem, I just merely wish they would get over this particular dependency that I cannot see has any benefits (even if you don’t buy into a patent trap scenario)”
One of our contributors has already added a wiki page about removing Mono from the latest Ubuntu and Phoronix writes about Mono and Banshee in a new article which Tim called “a rather interesting read.”
Later he wrote: “I commented on TechBytes some time ago about its sluggishness and it’s interesting to see that its still being commented on now. Patent trap or not, we have already seen how aggressively Microsoft is hitting Android with “licenses” and I’d say it would be wise to minimize as much risk as possible and remove Mono completely, for me and what I’ve seen of it, it offers no advantages that even come close to risking another avenue of attack for Microsoft on non-MS products.”
Summary: A couple of new posts/articles about Microsoft Windows and what they teach us about this platform’s viability
THE PLATFORM which made “computer viruses” analogous and often synonymous with Windows viruses just keeps delivering and disappointing every time. According to this, the Windows kernel has unpatched flaws with exploits out there. To quote:
The Duqu malware used to steal sensitive data from manufacturers of industrial systems exploits at least one previously unknown vulnerability in the kernel of Microsoft Windows, Hungarian researchers said.
Imagine if there were 50 PCs, 100, or more. I would be scared to look and see what other errors are occurring on other Windows 7 PCs in the company. Administrators have better things to do, than comb through useless log files. Way to go Microsoft, a quality operating system here with Windows 7. It’s no wonder Windows isn’t used for mission critical appliances, and GNU/Linux is instead. I’m not saying that GNU/Linux logs are the best, but they are pretty good and usually have information that I can use, to help pinpoint the error a little bit. GNU/Linux does not, and I repeat, does not have this amount of useless garbage in its logs like Windows does.
How long before Microsoft Jack appears at the scene to produce some promotional Microsoft comments in ZDNet UK? Usually it does not take long for Microsoft zealots like Jack to do this in that site.
In the end my question to the open source community is why is this acceptable for ARM hardware? Why do you continue to rejoice about every new Android device that gets released riddled with closed source modules that are next to impossible to make work under actual Linux.
Just as many of you would be upset if you where told that desktop (or laptop) you bought had to keep it’s default operating system I am more than a little annoyed that a good deal of the ARM hardware out there comes with this stipulation attached.
Technology people are often pictured as being quiet, shy or antisocial, but any suggestion that they are backward in coming forward should be dispelled by the peculiar traditions of the developer event. As the whoops and bellows ring out, it becomes clear that they have just been saving it up.
The Linux Foundation’s Executive Director Jim Zemlin sat down with The H’s Editor-in-Chief at LinuxCon Europe to talk about the embedded initiative, the purpose of the Foundation, Linux desktop leadership and what applications he’d like to see on Linux.
Most of you know this already, but: hybrid graphics, the technology concept of having dual GPUs (generally a low-power IGP and a high-performance discrete GPU) and being able to seamlessly switch between them depending upon load and battery life, is a mess under Linux. It will continue to be a mess for the near-term.
The matter of Linux hybrid graphics support was brought up today during one of the morning sessions at the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Orlando. Simply put, there isn’t much Canonical will be doing in the near-term to better support this technology (then again they aren’t a company known for their upstream engineering work), but they do hold out hope for the longer-term that there will be improvements.
Transmageddon, a popular open-source video transcoder for Linux that’s built atop GStreamer, has seen its first major update in more than one year.
Transmageddon 0.20 is this new release tagged by Christian Schaller. This release took a while in part due to having to work out bugs in GStreamer and waiting for a new python-gstreamer release, which has now occurred with version 0.10.22.
Two months back, John Carmack, Founder and Technical Director, id Software announced that soon Doom 3 code will be open sourced. Now he confirmed through a recent tweet that everything has been tested and packaged and source code release of Doom 3 can happen anytime now, its just awaiting final clearance from lawyers.
GNOME Shell is GNOME foundation’s official shell for GNOME 3.0 and as we have seen in so many posts before, GNOME Shell is an incredibly good alternative for Canonical’s Unity UI which became the default Ubuntu interface starting from Natty Narwhal release. The least you can say is, now you have two unique interfaces to choose from instead of plain vanilla GNOME. Top things to do after installing GNOME Shell in Ubuntu 11.10.
LFS needs an existing Linux environment. Don’t try and use unetbootin on the LFS liveCD (I used lfslivecd-x86_64-6.3-r2145-min.iso to get started, but there is a newer revision 2160 available on one of the mirrors.) unetbootin in this configuration is just a bag of hurt and you’ll spend an inordinate amount of time trying to get your root volume to work, so just burn a CD.
If I was building LFS again I’d have started from a stable Debian base or other Linux distribution where I’m comfortable and have network access – there are a number of reasons below I suggest this, but you really want your host system kernel to be 2.6.25 or higher.
Make sure to have all the patches from linuxfromscratch.org/lfs/view/stable/chapter03/patches.html are downloaded and in a location you can access from your host distribution. USB sticks are OK for this if you don’t have network access (mount the stick, and then copy the patches and packages to the sources directory). Use DownThemAll or a similar mass downloading application/extension on the patches page to save time and grief.
Once upon a time, Linux enthusiasts were forced to compile the software they needed. It was the only option available. While the act of compiling software was itself not so bad, the need to chase down dependencies was a deal breaker for many Linux newcomers.
These days however, package management for most Linux distributions has made any sort of software compiling something most people can safely avoid.
As I was pondering these changes to the Linux world, this got me wondering: do most Linux users really prefer one kind of package management over the other? In this article, I hope to shed some light on this once and for all.
ALT Linux 6.0.0, an independently-developed Russian Linux distribution, has been released. The new version comes in two editions – “Simply Linux”, which is an installable live medium featuring the Xfce 4.8 desktop environment, and KDesktop, which is a live and installation DVD image centred around the KDE 4.6.5 desktop. Both editions are built on top of the Linux kernel 3.0.3 and include X.Org Server 1.10.3 and LibreOffice 3.4.2. Other features of this release include hybrid ISO image that can be used either as a DVD image or transferred to a bootable USB drive, GRUB 2 as the default bootloader, simplified installation of third-party applications, and seamless integration with the Dropbox cloud storage system.
For this version of the experiment I have chosen to try my hand at installing Gentoo. Gentoo, for those who don’t know, or who weren’t following Jake’s posts during the original experiment, is a fully customizable distribution where you have to compile and install all of your applications from source code downloads. Thankfully they do offer some excellent package management tools, Portage in particular, that help automate this process.
I happen to prefer Fedora as my Linux distro. While I usually install the “alpha” and “beta” releases on a USB flash drive, and test-drive it there, I haven’t been able to do that with Fedora 16 yet. The installer for the test releases had a bug that prevented me from making the flash drive bootable. This has been fixed with an updated installer (which has been tweaked at least twice since) but too late for me to test it out here.
Fedora Project developers are proposing to move all executable files and libraries used by them to the /usr/ directory from Fedora 17 onwards and essentially dispensing with /bin/, /lib/, /lib64/ and /sbin/. Fedora 17 is due for release in May 2012. The change would mean that virtually all operating system components would be stored on one volume/partition, optionally mounted as read-only, which could be used by multiple computers simultaneously. It would also simplify the creation of snapshots. Snapshots allow the restoration of a previous file system state following installation of an update which proves problematic.
Fedora Linux is always pushing the bleeding edge, and has evolved into a versatile, flexible distro with something for everyone, for little old ladies with netbooks to students to powerhouse enterprises. Fedora 16, Verne, is due to be released November 8, 2011, so let’s take a sneak peek at what’s inside.
People familiar with Linux Mint’s other editions may miss the extras which come from the Ubuntu base. For instance, the Debian edition doesn’t appear to support PPAs or the Ubuntu One services. Though it’s not likely to make a big difference one way or the other, the Ubuntu-based editions of Linux Mint coming out later this year will have a few thousand extra packages in their software repositories compared to Linux Mint “Debian”. So there is a slight downgrade in features in exchange for the rolling Debian base. Having said that, my week with Mint’s Debian edition was a pretty rewarding experience. I ran into a package conflict right away, but aside from that and the keyboard issue it was smooth sailing. Also, the Mint desktop in this edition is just as polished and as easy-to-use as the Ubuntu-based editions. On my hardware everything was detected and worked straight out of the gate and it’s nice to have the low-resource usage of Debian combined with the useful collection of drivers, firmware and codecs that come with Mint. My feeling is that people who already use Mint probably won’t find any benefit in switching to the Debian base, unless they’re quite taken with the rolling-release model. However, users of other rolling release distributions and other Debian-based operating systems will probably enjoy the convenience and friendliness that comes with the Mint experience.
Ever since Ubuntu 11.04, the lack of the ability to configure many aspects of the new Unity interface has been pointed out and questioned widely.
Today, at the “Meet Ubuntu Desktop Designers” session in the Ubuntu Developer Summit being held in Orlando, Florida, members of the Canonical design team clarified that they never intended Unity to not be configurable; instead, it is very much on their radar.
News surfaced yesterday that Canonical, the makers of Ubuntu, will bring its Linux-based platform to mobile devices sometime within the next several years. The popular desktop browser alternative has long been thought to be a good candidate for tablet devices but ZDNet reports that the company would like to take it to smartphones and smart TVs as well.
Canonical is entering a complex ecosystem. Creating a new platform for mobile devices is more than just rallying developers to the cause (that certainly does not hurt). Commercial uptake has a lot to do with what the original equipment manufacturers and mobile carriers want and how they can implement a platform. As we have seen with Android, that is a tangled web to weave.
I’ve used both Unity and GNOME Shell plenty in the past, and I like them both. In fact, I prefer Unity on my netbook, since it makes more efficient use of the tiny screen. But on my desktop, where I’m not so worried about the economy of pixels, I always felt more at home with the sleek plainness of GNOME 2.
But on Ubuntu 11.10, GNOME 2 is nowhere to be found. Unlike in earlier Ubuntu releases, Unity is the only desktop environment installed by default. The Internet is peppered with instructions for “reverting” to GNOME 2 on Ubuntu 11.10; however, they merely explain how to install a package called gnome-session-fallback, which is not actually GNOME 2 but a half-baked build of GNOME Shell dressed up in its predecessor’s clothing. It doesn’t work well at all.
I am not a big fan of Unity, not because it is poorly designed, but because it doesn’t make it easy for users to configure it to their liking. In fact, the dock itself is immovable, attached permanently to the left side of the screen, even though many people would prefer it at the bottom, and right-handed users might find it more natural on the right side. This rigidity is a dramatic departure from the Gnome 2.x desktop, which let users put their desktop elements—launchers, folders and widgets—almost anywhere they pleased.
In the absence of anything shiny, the hoi polloi and the media focused on Siri as the The Big Idea at the iPhone 4S launch. Android has supported basic voice commands for ages, but there are now a number of Siri-wannabes in the Market. But are they of any use other than as a bit of mild amusement?
That depends on the use you put them to. Asking your phone “how many inches in a kilometre” or “what’s the capital of Paraguay” verbally is a darned sight easier than searching for the information in the conventional manner.
The carriers will keep pushing smartphones to their customers, and most of the time that smartphone will be an Android smartphone, especially for people who want inexpensive contract plans. The carriers push of smartphones plus the ever lower low-end smartphone prices should help Android completely and undeniably dominate the market in 2012.
Samsung blew past Apple and Nokia in the third quarter to become the No. 1 smartphone vendor in the world, but another emerging smartphone vendor stole the top spot in the U.S. according to a new report. Market research firm Canalys on Monday released country-level smartphone shipment estimates and according to its figures, HTC shipped 5.7 million own-brand smartphones and another 700,000 T-Mobile-branded handsets in the U.S.
AT&T will launch its first two smartphones supporting its 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) service on Nov. 6. The Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket is a larger (4.5 inches) and faster (1.5GHz) version of AT&T’s earlier Galaxy S II offering, and the HTC Vivid features a 1.2GHz processor, 4.5-inch screen, and dual cameras, one of which is an eight-megapixel model.
Hewlett Packard’s webOS-based TouchPad tablet is back from the dead again and hitting Best Buy store shelves this week. Starting Tuesday on BestBuy.com you can pick up the 32GB version of the TouchPad for $150 with the purchase of a new HP or Compaq PC. Alternatively, you can pick up the webOS tablet alone for $600. The tablet will be available at Best Buy retail locations starting Friday. You can find complete details on Best Buy’s TouchPad deal page.
NYSE Technologies is the IT division of NYSE Euronext, the company that operates the New York Stock Exchange and various other exchanges across the globe. In essence, it provides tech services to the financial outfits that use these exchanges — investment banks and hedge funds and other trading firms.
For years, it has charged these companies to stream market data through an online interface it calls MAMA (Middleware Agnostic Messaging API). MAMA has been in use since the middle of the last decade, letting banks and funds tap into an NYSE software platform that streams data from more than 200 global markets.
Digium, Inc., the Asterisk Company, and the Asterisk open source community, recently released Asterisk 10. Asterisk is a communications platform that allows developers to create powerful business phone systems and unified communications solutions. Since its introduction 12 years ago, Asterisk has been used, free of charge, in nearly every country of the world to power telephone and other communications systems. It has been downloaded millions of times, including two million last year alone, establishing Asterisk as the most popular open source telephony engine.
In various geek circles, most of the smart money has turned away from Firefox and toward the Chrome browser. I must admit that I’m getting a little tired of Firefox since it now handles files on my main Vista writing machine poorly—or at least version 3.6.23 handles them poorly. The details are boring but let’s just say there are idiosyncrasies that force me to use Chrome in too many instances.
Hortonworks officials have predicted that half of the world’s data will be processed by Apache Hadoop within five years, and the company claims to be focused on accelerating the development and usage of Hadoop.
It has been a while since I have blogged about the Foundation status, but the Steering Committee have been very active on this topic in the meantime. Now that we are handing over to the new Board of Directors, it is good to document where we have reached.
Pentaho has released version 4.1 of its open source Business Intelligence (BI) suite and analytics software. Available both as a Community Edition and a commercial Enterprise Edition, the update includes “major” data analysis performance, scalability and reliability improvements, as well as support for distributed in-memory caching systems.
Open source app development platform Appcelerator announced Tuesday that it has raised $15 million in a round of funding led by Mayfield Fund, Translink Capital, and Red Hat, with participation from existing investors eBay, Sierra Ventures, and Storm Ventures. The new round brings Appcelerator’s total raised to $31.5 million.
With over 30,000 apps and 30 million devices in its portfolio, Appcelerator has laid claim to the title of the largest mobile app development platform for the Apple and Android marketplaces.
Modo Labs(TM), a leading provider of open source content delivery solutions for mobile platforms and devices, today announced the company has closed a $4M investment from Storm Ventures and New Magellan Ventures. Modo Labs will use the new funds to accelerate market adoption for its mobile solutions, which are based on its open source Kurogo(TM) mobile platform.
OpenBSD 5.0 includes the GNOME 2.32.2, KDE 3.5.10 and Xfce 4.8.0 desktop environments. It also contains a number of new and updated packages including versions 3.5.19, 3.6.18 and 5.0 of the Firefox web browser, PHP 5.2.17 and 5.3.6, LibreOffice 3.4.1, and Chromium 12. The release includes September’s release of OpenSSH 5.9.
A startup called Upgrade Industries has developed a modular motherboard kit with an open source design that aims to improve upon the Arduino concept. The BoardX kit lacks a processor or any required operating system, but provides a breadboard system for stacking circuit boards, including an available, Arduino-compatible Atmel Atmega AVR module.
Sierra Wireless and the Eclipse Foundation announced an Eclipse working group to define an open development standard for machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. Together with founding members IBM and Eurotech, the M2M Industry Working Group will establish an integrated development environment for M2M networks, as well as a Linux-based, lightweight communications protocol, based in part on Sierra Wireless’ Koneki project and the Lua scripting language.
The first question that comes to mind for a person with a completely nontechnical background is ‘what is 4G?’ There have been several levels of up-gradation you have seen in the mobile phones available in the market since it was launched. The variations have been available not only in the designs and looks of the phones but also in the engineering and technology with which they are made. This has initiated various changes in their features and functionalities.
Post-Jobs, Apple must exist in a world of constantly improving commodity technology being created by its competitors and enterprises seeking next generation, integrated mobile and desktop solutions that the company is not currently offering: Products which are arguably more open and can more easily attract the partners needed to create solutions.
And it should go without saying that Apple cannot compete by continuing to use the intimidation tactics of its departed founder, no matter how many tens of billions it has in its expansive larders.
In early April, Jon Corzine was in a tough spot. MF Global, the company he had run for the previous year, was about to post a fourth-quarter loss, marking its fourth successive fiscal year of red ink.
For the former Goldman Sachs chief, it was a setback to his efforts to turn MF Global around. He had just announced a plan for the bank to boost trading risk by holding more assets on its books, both to help customers and to bet on markets.
Last December, the government celebrated passing eight bills into law, including the long-delayed anti-spam bill. Years after a national task force recommended enacting anti-spam legislation, the Canadian bill finally established strict rules for electronic marketing and safeguards against the installation of unwanted software programs on personal computers, all backed by tough multi-million dollar penalties.
The European Parliament’s register released the International Trade (INTA) committee’s coordinators’ minutes on ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement). Prior to the release, the Parliament’s services denied the existence of these minutes four times. Only after the FFII provided proof that the documents do exist, the Parliament released them. The minutes document illegal decisions.
On 21 June 2011, the coordinators of the INTA committee decided to ask the Parliament’s legal service an opinion on ACTA. (pdf) This decision was illegal for two reasons. First, the ACTA text had already been published, the discussion should have taken place in public. Second, coordinators can prepare decisions, not take them.
The Obama administration issued a feeble response to a previous petition against software patents signed by more than 14,000 people. Please sign the new one which requires more than 20,000 signatures to merit a response.
WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:
Pursue Software Patent Abolition.
We hold the belief that software patents, in nature and practice, hinder true innovation and grant unjust monopolies.
The Obama Administration’s response to a previous petition shamefully attempted to absolve the President of responsibility and placate us with the toothless America Invents Act. We summarily reject his response and demand immediate action.
Rapid growth in the software industry during economic malaise demonstrates the importance and power of this market. The President must use his full power and influence to fight harmful forces from entrenched incumbents and non-producing entities.
There are no possible reforms to be made to the USPTO that will enable it to keep pace with innovation in the software industry. Those who truly understand software are creating it.
Just as many of you would be upset if you where told that desktop (or laptop) you bought had to keep it’s default operating system I am more than a little annoyed that a good deal of the ARM hardware out there comes with this stipulation attached.
Rampant Wall Street speculation on commodities is driving up food costs, small farmers are being driven off their land, and agribusiness holds monopoly control of our seeds and stores. In this climate, the struggle against massive wealth disparities, unregulated financial institutions, and excessive corporate power is our struggle as well.
Nancy Stoner, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) acting assistant administrator for water, is an advocate for water privatization … “I think there’s big money in to be made in how to address the water resources needs for our country, particularly when we are going to have population growth, development, the decay of existing infrastructure and climate change”
“They really took a global view and used all the data available,” says De Geer. … The differences between the two studies may seem large, notes Yukio Hayakawa, a volcanologist at Gunma University who has also modelled the accident, but uncertainties in the models mean that the estimates are actually quite similar.
Previous estimates showed releases on the order of or more than Chernobyl, this one has it considerably more.
Another undercover police officer, Peter Black, said sex was a widely used “tool” to gain the trust of activists when he was deployed in the 1990s. … In most cases, the police officers developed long-term relationships and their subsequent disappearance left women feeling traumatised and angry. … police spies are known to have been having relationships with activists as recently as last year, as part of a secret police operation to monitor political activists that has been in place since the late 1960s.
The rich and powerful view the rest of us as tools to be exploited and abused without limit. That such behavior would be demanded by police supervisors is just as exploitative as the behavior itself.
… a 10-month-old “financial blockade” had sharply reduced the donations on which it depends. Calling the blockade a “dangerous, oppressive and undemocratic” attack led by the United States, Mr. Assange said at a news conference here that it had deprived his organization of “tens of millions of dollars,” and warned, “If WikiLeaks does not find a way to remove this blockade, we will not be able to continue by the turn of the new year.”
Caution: this is a NYT article which falls below Truthout’s usual research standards and cluelessly casts doubt on Mr. Assange in several places, but we can believe that Wikileaks is under financial distress because of a US led financial blockade. The E-Parasite act will normalize this kind of blockade.
Facebooks owners include Microsoft and Communist China, so it is no surprise that real activists have trouble using it but the TOS are complex enough to make censorship appear accidental. The great Firewall of China uses similar techniques to monitor and control conversation.
One of the most grave threats to free expression in many countries these days is the intimidation and persecution of bloggers and online journalists. The effects are often far-reaching as bloggers are scared into silence.
The court noted that State Farm’s requests are more than a fishing expedition. The interrogatory that sought the name, address and telephone number of each of plaintiff’s friends was “so far outside the realm of discoverable information” that the court concludes it was intended to “intimidate and harass plaintiff.” Parties have gotten out-of-control in seeking social networking profile information.
We can imagine that Facebook already sold the insurance company the information, because insurance companies have used Facebook information to terminate benefits, but they were unable to produce the perceived dirt in a court without this password request charade. Don’t use Facebook.
Washington’s statement was harsher than mine. He criticized Mayor Daley as a person; I criticized Jobs’ public activity. … The important thing about Jobs is what he directed Apple to do to those who are still living: to make general-purpose computers with digital handcuffs more controlling and unjust than ever before. He designed them to refuse even to let users install their own choice of applications — and installing free (freedom-respecting) applications is entirely forbidden. He even tried to make it illegal to install software not approved by Apple. …Jobs also made it a personal crusade to attack Android with software patents. … Jobs’ final legacy may be the patent disaster we have warned about for 20 years.
As usual, Mr. Stallman’s writing are worth reading in their entirety.
the USPTO can err on the side of rejecting software patents—indeed it has been doing just that to a limited extent. Over time, such rejections, if upheld by the courts, could shift the law in a less software-patent-friendly direction. … If the White House became convinced that software patents were detrimental to the American economy, it could begin filing briefs encouraging the Supreme Court to reinstate its original original ban on software patents.
They want you to shrink down very small inside a box where you think they can’t find you.’ And it works. I see it happening all the time; blogs go dark, or disappear entirely, or stop covering certain subjects. … And when it happens to people for the first time, they think they are alone, because they don’t realise how widespread and insidious it is. …
While Congress can’t seem to act in a bipartisan manner to do anything to help the 99% that really need it, the two parties are managing to join hands to help crush freedom on the Net — yes, they are equally culpable in this Orwellian thrust. … The fact that Congress in a bipartisan manner is willing to even consider such abominations is a travesty that we must not, can not ignore or forget.
Now I understand why Rep. Zoe Lofgren’s first reaction to this bill was to say that “this would mean the end of the Internet as we know it.” She’s right. The more you look at the details, the more you realize how this bill is an astounding wishlist of everything that the legacy entertainment gatekeepers have wanted in the law for decades and were unable to get.