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01.13.12

Links 13/1/2012: CrossOver 11, Mageia 2 Alpha 3

Posted in News Roundup at 9:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • TLWIR 30: Linux++ – The GNU/Linux Desktop, Brother, and Ubuntu Increment by One
  • Desktop

    • Six Great Desktop Linux Features You May Take for Granted

      Maybe it’s just a sign that I’m getting old, but more and more often lately I’ve found myself thinking thoughts like, “Back in my day, Linux didn’t have X, Y and Z. We did without!” With these sentiments in mind, I decided to put together a list of a few major desktop Linux technologies that millions of users now take for granted, but which didn’t exist only a few years ago. Read on for a look.

      First, though, I should caution that this isn’t a paean to desktop Linux’s infallibility. There certainly remains a lot of room for improvement in the Linux experience, both on the desktop and beyond. But that said, it’s also worth recognizing the clear progress that has been made over the course of the last several years, bringing innovations that — if you’re like me — you may now simply take for granted.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Kernel Log: 15,000,000 lines, 3.0 promoted to long-term kernel

      With the merger of the first changes into Linux 3.3, the number of lines of kernel source code has passed through the 15 million mark. Maintenance of Linux 2.6.32 is set to end in one month’s time, while Linux 3.0 and real-time kernels based on it will be maintained for the next two years.

    • The Pull That Finally Fixes ASPM Power Regression
    • Finding the Fastest Filesystem, 2012 Edition
    • The logger meets linux-kernel

      Toward the end of December, LWN looked at the new push to move various subsystems specific to Android kernels into the mainline. There seems to be broad agreement that merging this code makes sense, but that agreement becomes rather less clear once the discussion moves to the merging of specific subsystems. Tim Bird’s request for comments on the Android “logger” mechanism shows that, even with a relatively simple piece of code, there is still a lot of room for disagreement and problems can turn out to be larger than expected.

    • Linux kernel exceeds 15 million lines of code
    • Big Switch Networks Open Sources OpenFlow Controller Software

      Network virtualization startup Big Switch Networks this week confirmed the release of an open-source controller based on OpenFlow, the increasingly popular switching and communications protocol that addresses packet routing on a software layer that’s separate from a network’s physical infrastructure.

    • Arch-ing ARM: Running Arch Linux On The NVIDIA Tegra 2

      The CompuLab Trim-Slice is quite an interesting dual-core ARM Tegra 2 device. This nettop/desktop-oriented system ships with Ubuntu 11.04 by default, but it is also well supported by Arch Linux. In this article are some tests of the dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 1.0GHz system running under Arch.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Announcing The DRM VGEM – Virtual GEM Provider

        Alpha quality patches were published today that introduce the “Virtual GEM Provider” for the Linux kernel DRM, which can improve the software-based acceleration experience for graphics.

        First some history… Back in September the Softpipe driver for Gallium3D became slightly more useful when GLX_EXT_texture_from_pixmap support came for software drivers, which is needed for some compositing window managers to function. In October that support then came to the LLVMpipe driver, which is the more useful software-based graphics driver since it takes advantage of LLVM for real-time shader generation and can take better advantage of modern CPUs to deliver slightly better performance.

      • Radeon Gallium3D With Mesa 8.0: Goes Up & Down
      • r600-r800 2D tiling
      • Mesa 8.0 LLVMpipe: Fine For Desktop, Not For Gaming

        Continuing in the coverage of the soon-to-be-out Mesa 8.0, here are some benchmarks of the CPU-based LLVMpipe software driver for Gallium3D.

        LLVMpipe is the CPU-based software rasterizer driver that is faster than the standard Gallium3D “Softpipe” since it leverages LLVM for taking advantage of more of the CPU — especially on modern hardware with SSE3/SSE4, multiple cores, etc. See LLVMpipe: OpenGL With Gallium3D on Your CPU and Gallium3D LLVMpipe On The Sandy Bridge Extreme for just a small portion of the Phoronix coverage of this unique software driver.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • Review: Razor-Qt 0.4.0 (via Ubuntu Razor-Qt Remix)

      It seems like the recent discontent over GNOME 3 and Unity has caused a renaissance in DEs that act more traditionally. Xfce is gaining popularity as it basically replicates GNOME 2.X and can do even more now, while KDE is winning over users attracted to its shininess and power. LXDE is also gaining attention as a DE that pushes the limit of how stripped-down a DE can be before it is just a WM again, while Enlightenment seems to be gaining renewed interest thanks to Bodhi Linux. Linux Mint has modified GNOME 3 through MGSE, and now it is replacing GNOME 3/Shell with GNOME 3/Cinnamon. Yet only one of these alternatives (KDE) uses the Qt toolkit; save Enlightenment, which uses the E17 toolkit, all the others use GTK+. Until now.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • January 2012 Issue Of The PCLinuxOS Magazine
      • Mageia 2 A3 Released, Joins systemd Bandwagon

        From the Mageia 2 Alpha 3 release notes, “Following the standardisation effort going on in other distributions, Mageia has decided to adopt systemd for booting. This would lead to a simpler boot process, and easier maintenance. More details can be found on the systemd website. The option of keeping the current init system will be offered for people who prefer to wait a little and switch with a next release.”

      • Here comes Mageia 2 Alpha3!
      • Mageia 2 Inches Along with Another Alpha

        Anne Nicolas announced the release of Mageia 2 Alpha 3 today. With plans of using the latest of major software packages, the alpha ships with some of the latest packages available. The release plans include KDE 4.8, GNOME 3.4, Linux 3.3, MariaDB 5.5, and systemd.

    • Gentoo Family

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • People Behind Debian: Steve McIntyre, debian-cd maintainer, former Debian Project Leader

        Steve McIntyre has been contributing to Debian since 1996, 2 years before I joined! But I quickly stumbled upon Steve: in 1999, he was struggling with getting his debian-cd script to produce 2 ISO images (it was the first time that Debian did no longer fit on a single CD), I helped him by rewriting debian-cd with a robust system to split packages on as many ISO images as required.

      • Derivatives

        • Simply SimplyMEPIS 11.0

          I had heard of this Linux distribution a long time ago. Different readers who commented on my blog mentioned it. But I continued postponing a review of it all for a long time. The last time the Mepis name was dropped was during my interview with Geek-in-Pink who mentioned this distribution as her favourite.
          The time has come.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu TV: the case for Unity
          • CES: hands on with Ubuntu TV

            Canonical is showing here at CES Ubuntu TV: a version of its Linux OS aimed at televisions (as the sharper among you may have spotted from the name). Ubuntu TV is still in beta – a spokesman told us it was really ‘more of an alpha’ – but it could be available on retail products within the next 12 months.

          • Canonical seeking testers for Unity 5.0

            The Unity development team at Canonical has published a development build aimed at testers of version 5.0 of its custom desktop interface for the Ubuntu Linux distribution. Users running the current Ubuntu 12.04 LTS “Precise Pangolin” alpha can install the preview release by manually adding the Unity PPA, which is hosted on the Unity Team’s Launchpad.net page.

          • Becoming an Ubuntu Contributing Developer
          • Running a File System Check
          • My BirthDay Wish List
          • HOWTO: Bodhi Linux on Genesi Smartbook
          • Ubuntu Unity 5.0 is out and ready for testing

            Are you a cutting edge Ubuntu user that’s been using Precise Pangolin since it was made available December 1? If you are, you’ll want to try out the just-released Unity 5.0. It’s an absolute test version, and you won’t want to install it on your production machine, but if you’re running 12.04 we’ll assume you’re already running a test box, so let’s dig into the process and changes.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Raspberry Pi makes the sub-$100 PC a reality

      One of the biggest pieces of tech news last year was the development of a $25 PC by a charity in the UK known as the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Producing a fully-functional PC capable of running Linux, Quake III-quality games, and 1080p video is no small feat.

    • Texas Instruments demos OMAP 5 processors

      TI (Texas Instruments) used this week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to demonstrate its freshly minted OMAP 5 processor, which it claims will be the first ARM Cortex-A15 product on the market. Shown off on an Android 4.0 smartphone reference platform, the SoC (system on chip) will support both tablets and thin-and-light notebooks, the chipmaker promised.

    • Phones

      • Leaked screenshots reveal new details on Nokia N9 MeeGo update

        New details on the forthcoming MeeGo update for Nokia N9 users have just emerged this morning, courtesy of a batch of leaked screenshots and firmware information. Originally posted by a user on talk.maemo.org, the shots point to many upcoming functions with which Android and iOS users are already familiar, including copy-paste browser support and a notably iOS-like folder layout. Also included in the screenshots are support for video calls and tweaks to the OS’ camera and gallery apps, though details remain unclear. Equally unclear is the release date for PR1.2, though the screenshots cite a build date of January 30th, so it may very well be nearing.

      • Tizen OS alpha released, may debut on Samsung I9500 smartphone

        The Linux Foundation’s Tizen project has previewed an alpha version of its MeeGo and LiMo-based mobile operating system and SDK. The HTML5-oriented release — including components from the carrier-backed WAC interoperability standards and the Enlightenment Foundation Libraries — follows rumors of Intel-based Tizen tablets, plus a screenshot leak that suggests an appearance on an upcoming Samsung I9500 phone.

      • gStrings in Your Pocket

        What may sound like a perverse concept is actually one of the many ways smartphones can change your life. If you play a musical instrument but don’t happen to have perfect pitch (most of us, sadly), you can buy a tuner, pitch pipe, tuning fork or any number of other aids to keep yourself in tune. If you have a smartphone in your pocket, however, you also can simply download gStrings. Available in the Android Marketplace in either a free ad-supported version or an inexpensive ad-free version, gStrings will help you tune any number of instruments accurately.

      • Android

        • Android Fragmentation Debate Could be Red Herring

          As new Android flavors develop, particularly with the new version developed by Amazon for the Amazon Fire, the debate rages over whether fragmentation is actually a problem for developers or a red herring introduced as open source FUD.

          Just this week at the Consumer Electronics Show, Eric Schmidt, Google Executive Chairman tried to tamp down any concerns about fragmentation saying that it was about freedom for developers and handset manufacturers to compete on what he calls differentiation.

        • Parrot unveils new auto systems, updates quadricopter with Android support

          Parrot announced three new versions of its Android-based Asteroid in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) platform: a 3.2-inch Asteroid CK Bluetooth hands-free system, a five-inch Asteroid Nav navigation system, and the Asteroid 2DIN multimedia car radio. Parrot also announced a revised 2.0 version of its Linux-based Parrot AR Drone “quadricopter” flying drone that can now be flown with an Android phone.

        • Polaroid unveils Android-based camera with 16 megapixels and 3x zoom

          Polaroid announced an Android-based, 16-megapixel camera with a 3.2-inch touchscreen, Android Market access, and Wi-Fi for quick uploads to social networks. The Polaroid SC1630 Smart Camera offers 3x optical zoom, 5x digital zoom, geo-tagging, and automatic face and smile detection — but response time isn’t exactly “instant,” according to one preview.

        • Original ASUS Transformer to Receive ICS Update Soon?

          Android 4.0 a.k.a Ice Cream Sandwich is nowadays what every Android fanboy dreams about. We are all looking forward to more ICS powered devices like Galaxy Nexus and Transformer Prime. However, we shouldn’t forget devices that were launched last year and are expected to receive the ICS update!

        • Fun with selective memory: “Dell Streak? What Dell Streak?”

          Oh. It was Dell. Oddly, the Dell CCO seems reluctant to mention the Streak, instead talking up future products with “We have been taking our time.” (Time to recover from the Streak, you mean.) Sadly, WebProNews doesn’t catch the omission either, and dully remarks that it’s “surprising that Dell has not entered into the tablet business”. (Entered it without crashing and burning, you mean.)

          WebProNews gives its source as Reuters, whose article does mention the Streak – though so quickly you’ll miss it if you pause to spoon more corn flakes. After that gloss, Reuters simply goes along with the ruse that the Streak never happened. “Dell Inc intends to launch its first consumer tablet computer in late 2012″, proclaims the article. First?

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source or proprietary software, which way to go?

    In the past week, the Kenyan media has been awash with reports that cyber cafes are ditching proprietary software for the perceived cheaper and user-friendly open source software.

  • Events

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • CMS

    • Missing the Point of WordPress Entirely

      A post by Kevinjohn Gallagher on “no longer recommending WordPress” to his clients has gotten a bit of traction lately. While there’s legitimate criticism to be leveled at WordPress, Gallagher’s isn’t (for the most part) it. If you’re approaching WordPress with the expectation that it’s the be-all and end-all of content management systems (CMSes) you’re going to be sorely disappointed. And frankly, I hope WordPress never tries to fit the ridiculous list of requirements that Gallagher tries to saddle it with.

  • Education

    • SBDC offers free open-source software classes

      The Maricopa Community Colleges Small Business Development Center is launching a series of classes to teach entrepreneurs how to use free open-source software to manage their business operations.

      The program is being funded by a $60,000 grant from Hewlett-Packard Development Co. LP.

    • MLK and Open Source: 2 Degrees of Separation

      On Tuesday evening, my teen daughter and I had some quality bonding time over milkshakes and the first season of Star Trek, which was timely considering the conversation I’d have the next day with a couple of NASA employees.

      In my Wednesday phone interview for an article I was writing about the new NASA open source outreach efforts, I asked William Eshagh, a technologist working on Open Government and the Nebula Cloud Computing Platform out of the NASA Ames Research Center, about the efforts NASA makes to help increase diversity in the STEM fields.

  • Business

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD 9.0-RELEASE Announcement

      The FreeBSD Release Engineering Team is pleased to announce the availability of FreeBSD 9.0-RELEASE. This is the first release from the stable/9 branch, which improves on stable/8 and adds many new features. Some of the highlights:

  • Public Services/Government

  • Openness/Sharing

    • ‘Open-source’ robotic surgery platform going to top medical research labs
    • Open Source Surgery, a Robot called Raven takes Flight

      A multidisciplinary team of engineers from the University of Washington and the University of California, Santa Cruz have developed a surgical robot, called Raven 2, for use as an open source surgical robotics research platform. Seven units of the Raven 2 will be made available to researchers at Harvard , Johns Hopkins, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, Los Angeles, while the remaining two systems will remain at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the University of Washington.

    • Scary science, national security, and open-source research

      I’ve been following the story about the scientists who have been working to figure out how H5N1 bird flu might become transmissible from human to human, the controversial research they used to study that question, and the federal recommendations that are now threatening to keep that research under wraps. This is a pretty complicated issue, and I want to take a minute to help you all better understand what’s going on, and what it means. It’s a story that encompasses not just public health and science ethics, but also some of the debates surrounding free information and the risk/benefit ratio of open-source everything.

    • Open Hardware

      • Weekend Project: Learning Ins and Outs of Arduino

        Arduino is an open embedded hardware and software platform designed for rapid creativity. It’s both a great introduction to embedded programming and a fast track to building all kinds of cool devices like animatronics, robots, fabulous blinky things, animated clothing, games, your own little fabs… you can build what you imagine. Follow along as we learn both embedded programming and basic electronics.

Leftovers

  • Why You Need Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

    Infrastructure as a Service is that part of cloud computing that allows you to lease and manage computing infrastructure for your business needs. Computing infrastructure includes virtual machines (VMs), operating systems, middleware, runtime components, network, storage, data and applications. Cloud computing vendors provide the necessary underlying physical hardware (servers, network, storage) that they own and manage transparently in the background. The two worlds have little crossover. The cloud vendor and customer have a non-intrusive relationship with one another just as you currently do with your web hosting provider. They’re there when you need help but their direct involvement in your business is zero.

  • ISC Seeks Wider Input for BIND 10

    The Internet Systems Consortium is looking for a few more good programmers to bring the next generation of its open source BIND DNS server software to fruition.

  • Finance

    • Goldman Sachs Loses Another Demographic

      I went and found the prospectus and it’s fascinating for someone, like me, whose understanding of Islamic finance basically comes from Wikipedia. Now, even I know that the basic idea of a sukuk is to replicate a fixed income, or let’s say not-quite-common-equity-anyway, financial instrument without the use of “interest,” because interest is forbidden under Shari’a law. This, actually, is a topic close to my heart, because it turns out that in regular old American law sometimes “interest” is also forbidden, and by “forbidden” I mean “taxed,” which means that people who do what I used to do have certain incentives to turn things that look like taxable interest into things that look like non-taxable equity returns and vice versa. One thing you learn in that line of work is that it’s in large part the business of defeating substance with form: you pay for the use of money over time, but fall into some category of “paying for money over time” that isn’t what that is normally called, viz. “interest.” There are ways to do that in American tax law (one is called “option premium,” true story), and there are apparently ways to do it under Islamic law (one is called “murabaha,” which is what GS is aiming at here, and it’s basically the equivalent of “getting paid a fee for brokering a commodity transaction with forward settlement”).

      It’s unclear if Goldman achieved that here. People have said that the Goldman sukuk does and does not* comply with Islamic law, and I am the last person in the world to weigh in on that, so whatevs. Apparently there’s at least controversy. And here’s the thing: when you are in a line of work that exists to privilege form over substance, you really really have to get the form right. Implying that you’ve gotten signoff from people who you haven’t gotten signoff from is … unhelpful.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Internet Opens Up to All Names

      Every since the very beginning of the Internet, new top level domains (TLD) have been added incrementally. Currently the number of TLDs stands at 22, but thanks to a process that begins today that number could be over 1,000 by this time next year.

    • Senator Leahy Hopes To Rush Through PIPA By Promising To Study DNS Blocking… Later?!?
    • Refusing REFUSED

      The U.S. Congress’ road to Stopping Online Piracy (SOPA) and PROTECT IP (PIPA) has had some twists and turns due to technical constraints imposed by the basic design of the Internet’s Domain Name System (DNS). PIPA’s (and SOPA’s) provisions regarding advertising and payment networks appear to be well grounded in the law enforcement tradition called following the money, but other provisions having to do with regulating American Internet Service Providers (ISPs) so as to block DNS resolution for pirate or infringing web sites have been shown to be ineffectual, impractical, and sometimes unintelligible.

      For example an early draft of this legislative package called for DNS redirection of malicious domain names in conflict with the end-to-end DNS Security system (DNSSEC). Any such redirection would be trivially detected as a man in the middle attack by secure clients and would thus be indistinguishable from the kind of malevolent attacks that DNSSEC is designed to prevent. After the impossibility of redirection was shown supporters of PIPA and SOPA admitted that redirection (for example, showing an “FBI Warning” page when an American consumer tried to access a web site dedicated to piracy or infringement) was not actually necessary. Their next idea was no better: to return a false No Such Domain (NXDOMAIN) signal. When the DNS technical community pointed out that NXDOMAIN had the same end-to-end security as a normal DNS answer and that false NXDOMAIN would be detected and rejected by secure clients the supporters SOPA and PIPA changed their proposal once again.

    • CreativeAmerica Denies Copying; Inadvertently Shows Why SOPA/PIPA Are Dangerous

      Either Hoffman didn’t understand what happened or he’s being purposely misleading (neither of which makes CreativeAmerica look very competent). No one is complaining about them sending out an email urging supporters to contact Senators. What they’re complaining about is that the text is almost identical, and uses the same three bullet points that folks at Public Knowledge admit they “over-edited” internally, including a long discussion that turned what had formerly been a paragraph into three separate bullet points.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • The Public Access Recast: new broad IPR exemption to transparency

      In other words, they created a broader IPR exemption to transparency to make it more difficult to obtain information and found that IPR as an argument could be easier applied to deny access to documents. I wonder why Parliament under its rapporteur MEP Michael Cashman did not attempt to revert it.

    • Copyrights

      • SOPA: A Bad Cop’s Best Friend

        In ever-increasing numbers, law enforcement is finding itself on the receiving end of the camera. Every low-end cellphone comes equipped with a still camera at the very least, and most have the ability to capture video. With a large percentage of the population equipped to document their interactions with law enforcement, hundreds of taped encounters have surfaced, most of them capturing policemen behaving badly.

      • Firefighters For SOPA (Again): The Congressional Fire Services Institute Rehashes Cliches And Debunked Anecdotes

        Another pro-SOPA/PROTECT-IP op-ed detailing the horrors wrought by “rogue sites” has appeared at The Hill. This time, it’s William Jenaway of the Congressional Fire Services Institute decrying the ready availability of counterfeits goods and the risk to “public safety” these items pose.

        It opens with the usual “the internet is wonderful but mostly it’s a den of thieves” rhetorical device before wading into the shallowest waters of the overused “appeal to patriotism” argument, stating that “Foreign-owned, rogue websites are increasingly selling counterfeit products to U.S. consumers,” reminding us yet again that xenophobia and lousy legislation still go hand-in-hand far too frequently.

      • Apparently, Someone Forgot To Tell Reality That The Entertainment Industry Was Dying

        We hear it all the time: the entertainment industry legacy players insist that the world is ending, jobs are going away, and that they need new laws like SOPA and PIPA or it’s all over. That’s why SOPA & PIPA are being positioned as jobs bills. Especially popular are the major labels and the big Hollywood studios insisting that they’re really doing this not to save their own companies from having to adapt, but to protect the poor, poor indie creator, who is totally being destroyed by those evil online pirates. We hear time and time again about how it’s really the “indie” folks who are being decimated.

      • Jazz Pioneer ‘Jelly Roll’ Morton’s Music Finally Free For Re-use In Europe — A Hundred Years Too Late

        A recent Techdirt post reminded us that thanks to its crazy copyright laws, the US won’t be seeing anything new in the public domain for many years. But even in those “fortunate” countries that get to use cultural works a mere 70 years after the creator’s death, the situation is still pretty absurd.

      • How Much Do Music and Movie Piracy Really Hurt the U.S. Economy?

        Supporters of stronger intellectual property enforcement — such as those behind the proposed new Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) bills in Congress — argue that online piracy is a huge problem, one which costs the U.S. economy between $200 and $250 billion per year, and is responsible for the loss of 750,000 American jobs.

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