Links 14/11/2012: Linux Mint 14 RC, India’s Educational Android Tablet

Posted in News Roundup at 8:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • A world without Linux: Where would Apache, Microsoft — even Apple be today?

    Dabbling in alternative history is always a haphazard exercise. The intertwining of myriad factors and actions, mixed together in an infinitely complex historical equation that determines the future, renders any attempt to excise a certain variable essentially impossible. However, it can sometimes be educational and illuminating to try and poke holes in the edges of recent history to see where we might have wound up. Also, it’s fun and potentially full of surprises.

    Case in point: What would the world be like if Linus Torvalds hadn’t uploaded his v0.0.1 Linux kernel to a public directory in 1991? What if the world never knew Linux?

  • Linux Top 3: Mint, Martian Blueberries Fedora and Supercomputer Domination
  • Mint 14 RC Screenshots
  • FOSS: A Linux Conversion

    My friend Jerry is 70+ years young. Jerry has also been a client of mine on and off over the past several years for on-site support calls at his home office. Recently he was telling me how his aging Dell Dimension 2400 with Windows XP was running so very slow it was frustrating. We all know the story, the Microsoft OS was suffering from crud creep after several years of use. A cleanup and/or reinstall was needed to get it back to running faster. The other option is a new PC. Jerry is on a fixed income and cannot afford to replace the PC with a new one running “Microsoft Latest OS!” at this time. I talked with Jerry about his options, and he decided to give Linux a shot on this old Dell.

  • Early builds of XBMC for Linux ported to Allwinner A10 devices

    One of the nice things about tablets, mini PCs, and other devices with Allwinner A10 processors is that it’s very easy to get Ubuntu, Fedora, or other Linux-based operating systems to run on them. And once of the nice things about those operating systems is that they make excellent media centers when you add the open source XBMC media center software.

  • Desktop

  • Server

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Intel Pushes Their Linux-Friendly Xeon Phi

      In addition to NVIDIA and AMD announcing new high-end server/workstation GPUs to coincide with this week’s SuperComputing SC12 conference in Salt Lake City, Intel has announced new details and release information on their Xeon Phi co-processors.

    • Qualcomm DragonBoard S3 APQ8060 Preview

      The S3 DragonBoard is sold by BSquare at a price of just under $500 USD. The deployed operating system for the DragonBoards is Google’s Android. The S3 DragonBoard will be benchmarked on Phoronix in the near future. There isn’t any Linux distribution yet ported to this DragonBoard so benchmarks will be done on Android as well as (hopefully) through a Linux chroot on Android.

    • Jim Zemlin: Proprietary Software Is Doomed

      SPAIN: Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation tells Silicon News that Linux and open source must win in the end

    • ARM atomic operations

      Modern 32-bit ARM processors are becoming increasingly more complex than was the case with the implementation of previous generations of the architecture. Processors implementing version 5 of the architecture do not support Symmetric Multi-Processing (SMP), while newer architecture versions add not only full capability for SMP (and its related supporting architectural extensions), but even go as far as to enable the implementation of designs based upon AMP (Assymmetric Multi-Processing[0]) – commonly known as Big.LITTLE. These newer features require changes to the underlying architecture, to support memory ordering operations, cache coherent access to shared memory, atomic operations, and so on. This article summarizes some of these changes, with a view toward Fedora developers needing to modify ARM code, especially to implement support for atomic operations. Much greater documentation is available online, especially on ARM’s own website.

    • Graphics Stack

      • NVIDIA, AMD Push High Performance GPUs

        With SuperComputing’s SC12 conference kicking off today in Salt Lake City, AMD and NVIDIA have both come out with their new high-end GPU products for compute purposes.

        NVIDIA’s top offering for servers and workstations are the Kepler GK110-based K20 and K20X. The K20X is capable of peaking at 1.31 Teraflops for double-precision floating point math or 3.95 Teraflops when doing single-precision floating point operations. The K20 meanwhile can achieve 1.17 and 3.52 Teraflops for double and single precision floating point, respectively. The memory bandwidth with ECC disabled for the Tesla K20X tops out at 250GB/s while packing 6GB of GDDR5 video memory. The K20X has 2688 CUDA cores on its GK110 die while the K20 has 2496 cores.

  • Applications

    • Extreme Graphics with Extrema

      High-energy physics experiments tend to generate huge amounts of data. While this data is passed through analysis software, very often the first thing you may want to do is to graph it and see what it actually looks like. To this end, a powerful graphing and plotting program is an absolute must. One available package is called Extrema (http://exsitewebware.com/extrema/index.html). Extrema evolved from an earlier software package named Physica. Physica was developed at the TRIUMF high-energy centre in British Columbia, Canada. It has both a complete graphical interface for interactive use in data analysis and a command language that allows you to process larger data sets or repetitive tasks in a batch fashion.

    • Proprietary

      • How Lightworks Falsely Rides Open Source Publicity Train

        2 years ago, Lightworks made a promise to the open source community. A promise that has made them darlings of the open source spotlight. A promise that the have yet to fulfill. One blogger takes serious issue with this lack of fullfilment, and rightly so. Blogger Nekohayo offers in depth insight into the failed promises of Editshare.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • AI Research Goes Open

        When it comes to AI research, Wei Qi, or Go, shows that machines still have some way to go to beat human beings… but they’re closing in

      • More Steam Linux Games to Pick Up

        The game runs natively on Linux and numerous Steam Linux users have confirmed this. The deal is still on if want to get the game for one fourth price.

        Now two more first person shooters, Killing Floor and Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45 are fully working on Linux via Steam.

        Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45 can be purchased for $10 from Steam. There is 75% off on Killing floor on GetGamesGo which sends Steam key to your email. So you can pick up the game for $5 only which is otherwise priced at $15 on Steam.

      • Valve Is Working On A New Game Engine

        Valve is working on a new game engine following in the success of their widely-popular Source Engine that is now running nicely on Linux.

        In an informal interview with Valve while a few 4Chan members were touring Valve’s Bellevue offices, Gabe Newell was asked about a new game engine and his response was “we’ve been working on new engine stuff for awhile.” Details though aren’t clear at this time whether it’s a “Source 2″ engine or something radically different.

      • OpenMW Open-Source Game Remake Sees New Release

        OpenMW, the project to create an open-source remake of the Elderscrolls III: Morrowind game, continues to move along. This weekend was the release of a new version with many changes.

      • A Popular Open-Source Game Still Years From Beta

        There’s an interesting and very promising open-source first person shooter game that does offer impressive graphics but is still a couple years from reaching a beta state.

        The game that’s still a ways out from being in beta is Unvanquished. Back in July was the first time I looked at it when it appeared to be a very promising open-source game that was derived from the Tremulous first person shooter and using the id Tech 3 game engine but with integrating the XreaL renderer enhancements.

      • Q&A with Hero-U’s Corey & Lori Cole
      • How to upgrade your Linux box for Steam

        When you consider that none of us could have much of an interest in Linux if it wasn’t for the hardware it runs on, x86 hardware gets relatively little attention.

        This might be because Linux is now so stable, and performs well enough on older hardware, that we seldom need to think about it.

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Qt Developer Days in Silicon Valley

        Qt Developer Days 2012 are the premier Qt events of the year. The 2012 Conference for Europe started today in Berlin co-hosted by KDE e.V.; there will be news and more information from the Conference over the next few days. Meanwhile, preparations are well underway for Qt Developer Days – North America in Silicon Valley, which will take place December 5 – 7. It is presented by ICS, KDAB and Digia and is being organized by ICS.

      • KDE vs. Gnome in daily life

        This is not a competition. The thing is, you can install any which program on any which distribution, pretty much, regardless of what desktop environment you choose to choose. Instead, this is a friendly reality check for people who prefer this or that operating system. Let’s say you wish to use only the native applications developed for your particular flavor of the desktop. How would your productivity or efficiency or peace of mind change then?

        We will pit Gnome programs vs. KDE software, across a range of categories. No browsers this time, since we did them only a few weeks ago, so you have your plethora of pinia … I mean browsers to test and compare. Today, we will focus on other applications, like file managers, image and photo software, office suites, media players, and a handful more. I will try to be objective, a near impossible task, and give you an overview when and where the KDE tools take a lead and which Gnome apps you will want to prefer for your daily use. And at no point in the time-space continuum will be debate the merits of the desktop environments as a whole. That’s a different subject for a different article.

      • cults of personality redux

        In a recent blog post, I slammed cults of personality in Free software communities. Some noted in the comments that this was not the only challenge we faced, and I completely agree. On the one hand, it’s a bit of an odd observation to make: of course all complex results have complex sets of causal factors. Entire volumes have been written about this aspect of complex challenges, and a thread I’ve noticed in a number of pieces I’ve read is that the shear number of causal factors makes it hard for people to untangle and overcome the challenges presented. It’s like we become distracted by too many topics and forget that you eat an elephant one bite at a time and not all at once; that it is OK to examine and address issues in a piecemeal fashion.

        Others noted that there are some good affects that come from these cults of personality. This is also true. But it’s sort of like saying, “Since I put $100 in the bank today, I will have $100 to spend.” That may be true, but if you already spent $500 using your credit card .. no, you don’t have $100 to spend. You owe $400. This is simple math that most people get intuitively, but when we apply it to systems analysis it often gets missed. Most things people do have some advantage (locally, individually, in the here-and-now, etc), and that is usually how they get entrenched in the first place. Full accounting, which means looking at the broad spectrum of results, is required to come to a full and proper sum, however. Some benefits are not good enough when there are large amounts of documented negatives.

      • Do Personality Cults Dictate the Direction of Open Source?

        Are open source software trends driven by cults of personality? That’s the question that Aaron Seigo, a contributor to the KDE Project, asks in a new post. The Var Guy makes a pretty good argument that although open source users line up behind pundits such as Mark Shuttleworth, Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman, these people don’t dictate the direction of users and developers as much as Seigo thinks. While noting that fact, it’s also worth noting that cults of personality may have an even more pronounced effect on proprietary platforms than open source ones.

      • the sun is a billion little spotlights

        So let me put my spotlight where my mouth is: To everyone who was at the Linux Color Management Hackfest: you are my inspiration for today. I hope you had an awesome time and I can’t wait to use (and tinker with, of course ;) the results when they find their way into a nearby source code repo. :)

      • Qt 5.0 Beta 2 Released As The Final Approaches

        With Qt 5.0 Beta 2 there’s more bug-fixes and other work to prep for the long-awaited official release of Qt5. This release of Qt is also packaged with Qt Creator 2.6 that sports new features for developers. At this time they have also finalized upon all of the official Qt modules for the 5.0 release.

      • Amarok Rating Stats
      • Qt marches on with 5.0 release, sets sights on iOS and Android
    • GNOME Desktop

      • On fallback mode

        I’m just going to preface this by admitting something: I love GNOME 3. It works (for me) and is, in my opinion at least, beautiful in its simplicity. When I show almost anyone my computer, the response is almost always positive – comments usually include ‘thats cool!’ or ‘I like that!’. Its interface is streamlined and non-intrusive, and for myself and many others, allows us to do what we want, without unnecessary intrusion by the GUI.

      • Features Coming In For The GNOME 3.8 Desktop

        While many GNOME Linux users are upset over GNOME 3.8 dropping its fallback mode, this next release of the GNOME desktop environment is set to offer a number of new features.

      • A re-designed Notifications API will soon land in Gnome!

        Many application (ie Skype, Lifearea, Dropbox etc) are still using Legacy Notification Icons in Gnome Shell, and apart that the ugly result, it is also unpractical in use both for desktop and touchscreens.

        While there is no plan to map the legacy GtkStatusIcon model, the new notification API promises to make everyone’s life easier and it will bring some new exciting features!

  • Distributions

    • ROSA 2012 (Server)
    • ROSA Enterprise Linux Server 2012 released
    • ROSA Enterprise Linux Server “Helium” 2012
    • ROSA Server, A New Russian Red Hat Enterprise Clone

      ROSA, a Moscow-based software development company focusing upon open-source software projects, has today announced RELS. The ROSA Enterprise Linux Server is yet another clone of Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

    • Top 5 Reasons to have a Linux Live CD

      Ubuntu is one of the most popular free and open source software available. A 2012 survey revealed it is the most popular Linux Distribution on desktop and laptop PCs. Below are some of the reasons why you should have Live CD / DVD with Ubuntu, or other Linux distribution.

    • Zenwalk Linux 7.2 (in its various forms)

      The Zenwalk Linux distribution is one which I’ve always respected for its design philosophy. The project aims to be light, straight forward to use and the default installation comes with one program per task. This means that while the application menu is full, there isn’t much overlap in functionality. Zenwalk is based on Slackware and attempts to remain compatible with its parent distribution. Version 7.2 of Zenwalk came out recently and I decided to download the Live edition of the distribution.

    • New Releases

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Mandriva announces cloud solution

        The French GNU/Linux company Mandriva has entered the cloud market with a solution of its own based on its own GNU/Linux distribution for management of IT infrastructure.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat evades query about Garrett’s ‘rape’ post
      • Oracle: Get your Red Hat Linux patches from us, it’s easier

        In the latest episode in its ongoing pissing match with leading Linux vendor Red Hat, Oracle has set up a new service that allows Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) customers to more easily browse the source code of changes Red Hat has made to its version of the Linux kernel.

      • Oracle releases Git repository with RHEL changes

        Oracle is now providing a public Git repository, called RedPatch, which includes the source code of all changes that Red Hat makes to the kernel of its Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) distribution. Oracle equates this to its own Oracle Linux and Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel (UEK) products and says it is providing the same kind of repository for that distribution. The new RedPatch repository for RHEL allows users to browse individual patches with Git and redistribute them under the GPL.

    • Debian Family

      • Debian Project News – November 12th, 2012

        * Code search engine for Debian
        * Bits from the DPL
        * One step closer to “Wheezy”
        * Other news
        * Upcoming events
        * New Debian Contributors
        * Release-Critical bugs statistics for the upcoming release
        * Important Debian Security Advisories
        * Work-needing packages
        * Want to continue reading DPN?

      • Debian Developer

        Today, I officially got approved by the Debian Account Managers as a Debian Developer (still waiting on keyring-maint and DSA). Over the years, I have seen many people complain about the New Member Process. The most common complaint was with regards to the (usually) long amount of time the process can take to complete. I am writing this blog post to provide one more perspective on this process. Hopefully, it will prove useful to people considering starting the New Member Process.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Will 2013 Be the Year of the Ubuntu Desktop?

            As I came up with the title for this article, I did so fully realizing that many of you will likely groan at the thought of yet another “tis the year of the Linux desktop” article. However unlike other articles, I have actual concrete examples of why I think that it’s fair to suggest that 2013 could be a huge year for Linux on the desktop.

            But before we dive into what 2013 has in store for Linux, Ubuntu, and Linux desktop adoption, let’s take a look back at previous instances where year of the Linux desktop was proclaimed.

          • TypeCatcher: The Best Font Fetcher For Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu Tweak 0.8.2 Ready For 12.10
          • Your Next Android Phone May Come With An Ubuntu PC

            Android is pretty versatile as far as operating systems go. It can be a lot of things, but we still haven’t seen Android take on the PC space in a big way just yet. Ubuntu might just change that.

            Ubuntu, one of the most popular Linux distributions available, will soon be available on Android phones sporting multi-core processors. The application allows the Android phone to perform normally when it’s a phone, but it transforms into an Ubuntu PC when connected to a monitor, keyboard and mouse.

          • Canonical Presents New Ubuntu for Android Commercial

            Canonical published a few days ago a new animated commercial for their upcoming and ambitious Ubuntu for Android project (watch it above).

            Allowing users to connect a multi-core Android phone to an Ubuntu desktop, Ubuntu for Android was originally announced by Canonical at the beginning of 2012.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linux Mint 14 Almost Ready

              Linux Mint 14 is nearing final with the announcement of its release candidate yesterday. Available in 32 and 64-bit with your choice of MATE or Cinnamon, this release “comes with updated software and brings refinements and new features to make your desktop even more comfortable to use.”

              Version 14 is based on Ubuntu 12.10 and ships with Linux 3.5, GCC 4.7.2, and Xorg X Server 1.13.0. The new features list includes items such as the upgrade to MATE 1.4 which “not only strengthens the quality and stability of the desktop but it goes beyond GNOME 2 by fixing bugs which were in GNOME 2 for years and by providing new features which were previously missing.”

            • 32-bit support in Linux Mint 14 RC 64-bit
            • Linux Mint 14 Release Candidate
            • Linux Mint 14 approaches with release canddiate

              Linux Mint founder Clement “Clem” Lefebvre has announced the availability of a release candidate for version 14 of his project’s Linux distribution. Code-named “Nadia”, the RC of Linux Mint 14 is based on Ubuntu 12.10, and is available with either Cinnamon or MATE as the default desktop environment.

            • Parsix GNU/Linux 4.0 released

              We are very proud to announce the immediate availability of Parsix GNU/Linux 4.0 code name Gloria.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Linux on a Nspire CAS CX Calculator
    • Sinclair BASIC comes to Raspberry Pi

      The 80′s are so now, as hot on the heels of the RISC OS’ Raspberry Pi debut comes the equally retro-tastic news that the BASIC version used in the Sinclair ZX Spectrum can also run on the Pi.

    • TI launches its £10 Stellaris ARM Cortex-M4F LaunchPad

      There’s been a lot of coverage on HEXUS and other websites of the card-sized computer, the Raspberry Pi and its intent to introduce people to the world of programming at a low-price, however, despite best attempts, the Pi, with its embedded Linux operating system, doesn’t exactly have the lowest entry-point and is focused more on high-level applications programming.

      Whilst the Pi and several ARM Cortex-AX boards, targeted at applications programming have been dominating the news, ARM and its licensees have been making leaps and bounds in the low-power microcontroller market, slowly bridging the performance gap between complex applications processors and what had typically been small, simple 8-bit microcontrollers, such as Atmel’s AVR and the PIC chip.

    • Phones

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

      • Nexus 7 Is On Top Of The Holiday Shoppping Lists

        According to a survey done by TechBargains, a deal aggregation website that combines intelligent curation with real-time price-value discovery algorithms, Nexus 7 is on top of the shoppers wish-list this holiday season. The survey was conducted on TechBargains among 1255 respondents in October 2012.

        According to the survey 53% of the people want to buy a tablet this Christmas. Among those 53%, one out of three want a Asus Nexus 7. This edges out the 30% for ipad, 24% for ipad mini and 24% for Kindle Fire HD. “With more tablets on the market to fit every size budget, our survey reveals consumers are even more interested this year versus last year in giving and receiving a tablet – the must have tech gadget this holiday season,” said Yung Trang, president and editor-in-chief of TechBargains.com.

      • Indian President Unveils Aakash 2.0 Tablet

        India is taking its Aakash tablet seriously. None other than the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee announced the release of the new Aakash 2.0 on National Education Day. (Sunday 11th November)

        The party in New Delhi was also a big video conferencing event, where hundreds of teachers throughout the land joined in with proceedings whilst showing off the Ten Thousand Teachers Training Programme – live video interaction with participants.

      • India gives Android-based educational tablet another go

        On the country’s National Education Day yesterday (Sunday), India’s president Shri Pranab Mukherjee unveiledPDF a new Android-based tablet computer for the education sector. The Aakash 2.0 succeeds another version of the tablet which was introducedPDF in India last October but, according to some media reports, failed to establish itself due to poor overall performance.

      • How a $20 tablet from India could blindside PC makers, educate billions and transform computing as we know it
      • Fund-seeking PengPod wants to inspire Truly Linux tablet movement

        (Phys.org)—Hey, kid, want a tablet that’s capable of Linux and Android dual booting for one hundred bucks? The smart kid will answer, ok what’s the catch? The catch is that, even if things go very well, it won’t be on the shelves before next year and that, to reserve this open source rendering you have to go through the crowdfunding site, indiegogo. The tablets are called PengPods. The goal is to eventually bring forth a line of both Linux/Android tablets and also mini PCs. All devices are designed with an Allwinner A10 or A13 processor. For delivering the best of both worlds, Android and Linux, they run Android and boot Linux from an SD card. The advantage is said to be that the Linux enthusiast does not need to jump through hoops to have Linux.

      • QOOQ Linux/QT tablet for foodies, Revolutionizes Meal Preparation

        Do you enjoy preparing food in your kitchen and wouldn’t mind owning a tablet that can help transform the process of at home cooking, along with gaining content from leading chefs? Well, if you are in the USA, French firm UNOWHY has now announced the launch of the QOOQ tablet, which is the first interactive touch screen slate especially designed for the Kitchen.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Survey: Newcomer Experience And Contributor Behavior In FOSS Communities

    Have you been a recent contributor to any big FOSS project like Debian, GNOME, Gentoo, KDE, Mozilla, Ubuntu, NetBSD, or OpenSUSE? How have you felt as newcomer to the open source community you participated in? Did you meet trolls who made your life difficult to join the community or you encountered friendly people who helped you fit into easily? What was you experience in joining the project and about making contributions whether they be technical or non technical?

  • Pidgin and the Impending Shutdown of Windows Live Messenger

    And before anyone goes there, we can’t support Skype. There is no documentation of the protocol available to us, nor is there code we can borrow from a cleanly reverse-engineered alternative implementation. All that exists is SkypeKit, whose license agreement explicitly forbids its use in open-source software. The license also forbids use in “server applications” which precludes doing something like wrapping a simple closed-source XMPP daemon around SkypeKit. It is not currently possible to legally support Skype, so we won’t try.

  • Google Books engineer creates open source book scanner

    There seems to be a lot of lessons wrapped up in this story. One, never under estimate the things you can create with a vacuum cleaner. Two, there are benefits to giving employees personal time. And three, a 1,000-page book can be scanned in an hour and a half with the right equipment. Or so we’ve learned from Google Books engineer Dany Qumsiyeh, who – along with team mates – has created a $1,500 book scanner and made it open source.

  • In depth: Software-defined storage

    By contrast, if a company wants to add capacity to its server estate, software technologies such as open source operating system Linux and server virtualisation allow it to add cheap, commodity hardware as and when it is needed.

    So far, however, these forces have not been applied to storage. “The liberating effect that virtualisation and open source have had in the server world over the past ten years hasn’t really taken place in the storage world yet,” explains Simon Robinson, vice president at 451 Research.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla launches Popcorn Maker 1.0

        Over the weekend, at its Mozilla Festival event in London, the company announced the launch of version 1.0 of Popcorn Maker, its free web application for authoring interactive videos. Described as “a new way to tell stories on the web”, Popcorn Maker was developed as part of Mozilla’s Webmaker programme, which aims to encourage users around the world to learn about and use “the open building blocks of the web”.

  • SaaS

    • CloudStack: Filling Two Niches Open Source Enterprise Cloud Management
    • Can Hadoop Survive its Weird Beginning?

      Hadoop has arrived as a force in the business computing landscape because it offers people the ability to store and analyze data at scale for an affordable price. But Hadoop is not like other efforts to commercialize open source in some important ways. In addition, it is arriving at a time in which some of the traditional advantages of open source-based business models have eroded because of cloud computing and other developments.

  • Databases

    • Education for the real world: Open course on open source NoSQL databases

      Back in March of this year, the University of Albany Student Chapter of the American Society for Information Science & Technology (ASIS&T) organized its second Open Source Festival. The event brought together enthusiasts of open source from industry, government, and academia in the New York-Albany area. There, I shared my experience of teaching an open source class at RPI and the work that OSEHRA was doing on further promoting the use of open source software in healthcare. Among other topics of discussion was the need to educate college students on the basic concepts of NoSQL databases.The concern was coming from the now widespread use of the M database across healthcare applications and the lack of awareness about M in the academic community—most courses focus on Relational Databases. It is worth pointing out that M is both a language and a database, more specifically, a hierarchical NoSQL database, and it is used in thousands of clinical facilities worldwide.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Apache OpenOffice seeks Quality Assurance volunteers

      The Apache OpenOffice project has put out a call for volunteers to join its Quality Assurance Team. Ahead of the Apache top-level project’s next major release, Apache OpenOffice 4.0, the developers say that they “need to grow our Quality Assurance (QA) capabilities to keep up with the output from our programmers.”

  • BSD

    • Should There Be A Unified BSD Operating System?

      There’s a call for unification of the four largest *BSD operating systems in a move to create a “unified BSD” with the best features in order to better compete with GNU/Linux.

      It’s unlikely that this call for unification will result in any action, but an independent user has written a brief statement cross-posted to several BSD mailing lists about a Unified BSD? The user asks why the BSD community can’t band together and form a unified platform rather than fragmenting their resources into several different projects/forks/distributions. He wants to see the four largest BSD variants merged: FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, and DragonflyBSD.


    • Should Free Software Be Used Only For Good

      A debian developer for the Mono framework received a bug against Mono source code. The source code contained code from the JSON project, which uses a curious license. The license is a free software license with one difference, It has an additional condition for users of software written by the JSON.org team, The Software shall be used for Good, not Evil.

      This causes a problem for the maintainer, who wants to include the Mono framework into Debian. Debian is more than simply a piece of software to download; it’s a collection of free software.

      Software in the Debian repository must adhere to the Debian free software guidelines. The JSON.org license applies to every project using the JSON.org code, and the non-standard license has a history of causing problems. In particular, the code’s author seems to derive enjoyment from just how often people ask him to remove ‘Use for Good, Not Evil’ from the license’.

  • Project Releases

  • Public Services/Government

    • Doing government websites right

      Today, I have a piece over on Tech President about how the new UK government website—Gov.uk—does a lot of things right.

      I’d love to see more governments invest two of the key ingredients that made the website work—good design and better analytics.

    • Open Source Could Clean Up US Elections

      Open source software could be a paradigm for a national voting system in the United States that could still allow states and counties to customize and adapt the technology. Taking the Linux operating system model, a common open source core or kernel of the software could be developed and distributed to elections officials in each of the 50 states.

  • Licensing

    • Debating Continues Over Possible Kernel GPL Violation

      For the past few days there has been a much-viewed and very polarized discussion happening on the Linux kernel mailing list about a possible GPL violation within the Linux kernel.

    • Proprietary Linux extensions reportedly violate the GPL

      Linux developer Andy Grover has posted to the kernel developer mailing list (LKML) to accuse RisingTide Systems of violating Linux kernel licensing conditions with its RTS OS storage operating system. This has led to a discussion in which prominent kernel developers, a RisingTide employee and a legal representative for the company have explained their positions. Discussion has also turned to NVIDIA’s proprietary Linux drivers and related cease and desist notices.

  • Programming

  • Standards/Consortia


  • Xenix: The Microsoft Unix That Once Was

    One would not normally associate Microsoft with Unix. While Microsoft’s interest(s) in Unix may remain minimal in recent times, history tells a very different story.

    Let us take a quick journey down memory lane, back to the late 1970′s and into the early-mid 80′s. In 1979, Microsoft formed an agreement with AT&T Corporation to license Unix from AT&T. And then Microsoft licensed out its renamed Unix to OEM vendors, including Intel, Tandy and SCO. Those companies then ported it to their own hardware architectures and requirements.

    Microsoft was hit by a legal problem of the “UNIX” name not being able to be used. Therefore, Microsoft was forced to come up with their own Unix distribution name. Xenix was chosen. AT&T licensed Unix to Microsoft and then Microsoft passed on the same Unix software re-branded as Xenix.

  • Posting Too Much On Facebook Is A Sign Of Emotional Instability
  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

    • Sourcefire Integrates Malware Detection with IPS
    • Ruby update fixes hash flooding vulnerability

      The Ruby developers have released an update to the 1.9.3 series of their open source programming language, fixing a denial-of-service vulnerability. Ruby 1.9.3 patch level 327, labelled 1.9.3-p327, corrects a hash-flooding issue that could be exploited by an attacker to cause a high CPU load that can result in a denial-of-service. The problem can be caused by an error when parsing specially crafted sequences of strings.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • If You Eat Something, Say Something: DHS Sounds The Alarm On The ‘Terrorist Implications’ Of Food Trucks

      It’s interesting (or maybe just kind of sad) that various government agencies see possible terrorists everywhere but rarely, if ever, catch one. Despite the large number of personnel being thrown at the problem (along with lots of money), actual terrorists seem to be in limited supply.

      But these agencies haven’t let their lack of success temper their vision of a nation under constant imminent attack. Public Intelligence recently posted a Powerpoint presentation from the NYC fire department (FDNY) discussing the unique safety issues mobile food trucks present. Along with some actual concerns (many food trucks use propane and/or gasoline-powered generators to cook; some *gasp* aren’t properly licensed food vendors), the presenter decided to toss in some DHS speculation on yet another way terrorists might be killing us in the near future.

    • Without an agreement, Reid eyes last 2012 effort on Cybersecurity Act

      Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) may take another crack at passing cybersecurity legislation next week although Republicans and Democrats still haven’t reached a compromise on the matter.

      Reid is aiming to bring the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 to the floor at the end of next week after the Senate votes on Sen. Jon Tester’s (D-Mont.) sportsmen’s bill, according to Senate aides.

      The bill’s prospects look dim, however, as it appears the bill still lacks enough Republican support to clear the upper chamber. Observers expect the bill to fail just as it did in August, when Senate Republicans blocked a motion to move the measure forward after arguing that it would saddle industry with new burdensome regulations.

    • Harry Reid Wants To Try One More Time To Force Cybersecurity Bill Through Congress
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • Petraeus Case Shows FBI’s Authority To Read Gmail, Other Email Services

      Your emails are not nearly as private as you think.

      The downfall of CIA Director David Petraeus demonstrates how easy it is for federal law enforcement agents to examine emails and computer records if they believe a crime was committed. With subpoenas and warrants, the FBI and other investigating agencies routinely gain access to electronic inboxes and information about email accounts offered by Google, Yahoo and other Internet providers.

      “The government can’t just wander through your emails just because they’d like to know what you’re thinking or doing,” said Stewart Baker, a former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security and now in private law practice. “But if the government is investigating a crime, it has a lot of authority to review people’s emails.”

  • Copyrights

    • Toshiba: You Can’t Have Repair Manuals Because They’re Copyrighted And You’re Too Dumb To Fix A Computer
    • iFixit CEO launches open Toshiba service guide scheme

      Toshiba’s argument is that this violates its copyright. True, of course, but when such documentation no longer has a commercial value companies like Toshiba should become less defensive, just as many games developers, for instance, turn a blind eye to making games long past their sell-by date available to fans.

    • Toshiba laptop service manuals and the sorry state of copyright law

      As you would be no doubt already aware, I run a section of my blog here devoted to the free sharing of laptop service manuals. This is a side project I have run for the last three years, gathering as many repair manuals as I could find on the internet and rehosting them on my website for anybody to download and use.

      I have unhappy news for you all. Since I was first contacted by Toshiba Australia’s legal department, I have been attempting to discuss with them the potential for me to continue to share their laptop service manuals on my site. Their flat and final response was “You do not have permission [to disseminate Toshiba copyright material] nor will it be granted to you in the foreseeable future.” As a result, all Toshiba material that was on my website is now gone, permanently.

    • Obama Considering Prominent SOPA Supporter for Cabinet

      President Obama is reportedly considering appointing one of the biggest supporters of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) as his new Secretary of State.

    • A month after download law, consumers spending less on music: survey

      On Oct 1, knowingly downloading copyrighted music and video in Japan became punishable by up to two years in prison and a 2 million yen penalty.

      The law was passed in June after the Japanese music industry, the second largest in the world after the U.S., reported continued financial losses, with analysts suggesting that just one in 10 downloads were legal.

      Since the law came into effect, there have certainly been some changes, and many Internet users have become reluctant to click that download button for fear of receiving a hefty fine, meaning that the law has been a success in a way.

    • UK Newspaper Licencing Agency Says Musicians Need To Pay To Quote Reviews
    • Famed quotation isn’t dead — and could even prove costly

      It may be one of the most-quoted lines in American literature — and if you dare to quote it, you might have to pay.

      In late October, Faulkner Literary Rights — which represents Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner’s estate — sued representatives of Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” for misquoting the famous line, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

Patent Fronts Against Google

Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Patents at 6:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Do not disturb

Summary: Apple, Microsoft, Nokia et al. and the fight against Android

Apple has been building a patent portfolio with Microsoft. It took many of Novell’s patents and also Nortel’s. It paid Nokia for patents, which Microsoft later passed (with Elop) to patent trolls that can sue Google. At least one is already suing. Apple managed to sign a patent deal with HTC and it will need to compensate Samsung, also for cheeky litigation followed by no sincere apology (maybe the same will be required in the US later). To quote:

The court was also unhappy with how long it took Apple to post its Samsung apology in UK newspapers. The original order was given on October 18th and was supposed to be carried out as soon as possible. It wasn’t. In the order, the judge noted, “I hope that the lack of integrity involved in this incident is entirely atypical of Apple.”

Apparently, this sanction is the highest there is in the “loser pays” category in the UK, and Apple will have to pay for everything the lawyers billed to Samsung from day one of the trial. This not only includes legal fees, but parking, phone calls, and other miscellaneous charges. Yikes, that’s some expensive snark.

Apple is losing the plot, losing respect, but most importantly losing focus. Price advantage is being eroded too:

Apple Learns That Suing A Key Supplier May Not Be So Smart; Samsung Jacks Up Prices On Apple

Apple may be happy it won the first round of its patent fight against Samsung in the US (it’s not faring quite so well elsewhere around the globe), but these things have consequences. Besides being a competitor, Samsung is also a key Apple supplier… and it appears that Samsung is now using that to its advantage, jacking up the price on a mobile processor supplied to Apple by 20%. The report notes that Apple pushed back initially, but after realizing it couldn’t find a reasonable replacement, agreed to the new prices.

Site contributor’s iophk says that Microsoft is “Trying to spread out the attacks via layers of proxies” in relation to the news about Vringo, which is getting money from Google:

Vringo Inc., owner of technology developed by the Lycos Inc. search engine, said it has been awarded about $30 million from Google and some Google customers, including AOL, over patented ways to generate advertising revenue.

The companies infringed two patents owned by Vringo, a federal jury in Norfolk, Va., decided last week.

Vringo claimed Google’s Adsense program, which is also used as the advertising platform for third-party companies and AOL Search Marketplace, infringed the patents.

What ought to be mentioned is that Microsoft or Nokia recently gave this troll a lot of patents. This was done silently.

It is going to be interesting to see how CPTN uses Novell’s patents to justify spendings. The old Novell is still seeking justice:

Boies Schiller is in the house on behalf of Novell in its appeal against Microsoft in the antitrust case regarding WordPerfect, the firm’s name appearing on a new motion asking the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit for permission to file an overlength appeals brief. Novell asked for 26,500 words. Microsoft did not oppose.

WordPerfect patents might now be Microsoft’s ammunition, e.g. to use to defend the Office monopoly.

Apple Censorship Shows Importance of Software Freedom

Posted in Apple at 5:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Richard Stallman has already criticised Apple for it in his political blog

Richard Stallman

Summary: Apple denies third party’s distribution of an app with politically divisive content

As part of my political leanings, outside of Techrights I actively oppose the use of drones to assassinate individuals imprecisely, usually killing more innocent civilians than CIA targets. Watch what Apple is doing to those who entertain the subject:

  • Apple Censors Drone War

    Drone wars continue because the U.S. public is unaware what is being done in our name with our money. We are interested in knowing where our government is using drones and has killed people, not in celebrating that killing.

    The people in Pakistan and Afghanistan and elsewhere living under the drones can’t ignore what’s being done to them. Neither should we, as it’s done with our money and in our names.

    A recent study by Stanford and NYU found that drones traumatize innocent populations, who have no way of knowing how to protect themselves from drone strikes. Further, only 2% of victims of these strikes are high-level targets. The drones kill civilian men, women, and children, are being used to target rescuers, schools and funerals, and create significant anti-U.S. hostility — exactly as the Pakistani and Afghan governments have said they do.

  • Apple repeatedly blocks U.S. drone strike tracking application for different reasons every time

    Despite the completely inoffensive nature of the application, Apple has repeatedly refused to allow an app tracking U.S. drone strikes by claiming that the content is “objectionable and crude.”

    In reality, it is not the app that is “objectionable and crude,” instead it is the program itself which is both objectionable and crude. It makes it even worse that the United States government refuses to justify while continuing to pour money into the field, signaling a lengthy future for the technology.

    It is even more concerning that Apple would be blocking an app providing information on drone strikes abroad while drones are already being used in the United States with massive expansion looming on the horizon.

There are other apps about drones [1, 2, 3] which get a free pass, for instance:

Dronestagram is the latest project from renowned “new aesthetic” pioneer James Bridle, an Instagram feed which posts satellite images corresponding to US drone strikes in the Middle-East and Asia. Much like Josh Begley’s Drones+, the Apple-banned smartphone app which sends alerts whenever drone strikes are reported, Bridle says Dronestagram is a way of “making these locations just a little bit more visible, a little closer. A little more real.”

In the eyes of Apple, drones are okay, provided they are not criticised. Apple is making a political stance even by denying politicised apps. This is censorship — something which Free software strives to tackle.

Microsoft is Not a Hardware Company and It Shows Again, Sinofsky Quits

Posted in Hardware, Microsoft, Vista 8, Windows at 5:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Surface has design issues, which many complain about; the team behind it is breaking apart

Microsoft has lost billions trying to become a hardware maker in vain, mice and keyboards aside (those are not needed for non-desktop machines, so these too may pass). Notable failures include Xbox, which is reportedly still operating at a massive loss, not to mention phones and media players. Hardware is a big loss leader for the company [1, 2, 3], unless the online business outpaces it in terms of losses.

KIN had many flaws, but those didn’t get so much coverage because hardly anyone had such a device. Despite denials, Surface seems to have serious hardware issues, not just Windows issues. May we see class action lawsuits at some stage? Hardware problems often lead to that.

Microsoft’s booster Gavin Clarke does some PR for Microsoft’s last attempt to seem legitimate as a player in hardware. He cites this vague nonsense from Ballmer.

Sales of Microsoft’s Windows RT-based Surface tablet are off to a “modest” start according to chief executive Steve Ballmer.

This Vista 8 machine failed so miserably to work when Sinofsky demonstrated it. For those who want proof that the Surface is dying in the market (Microsoft refuses to give sales figures), watch the news about Sinofsky quickly quitting the company. Sinofsky was already filling a gap left by many fleeing Microsoft executives (specially Windows at the time). The man who replaced fleeping executives is now fleeing too. Surface is a “modest” failure. Microsoft spent a lot of money advertising it in the UK, only to deepen the losses. Will Surface be more short-lived than the KIN (less than 2 months)?

MobileMedia Ideas is a Patent Troll

Posted in Apple, Patents at 5:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

troll dollSummary: Screen orientation patent used against smartphones by a patent troll

Microsoft uses patent lawsuits against it as an excuse to get all offensive on the patent front and Apple has been doing something similar lately, as we demonstrated last week. They want public sympathy to accompany their aggression. Here is Apple losing to a patent troll. To quote CNET: “You might think it’s obvious that when an iPhone or similar device is placed on its side, what’s displayed on the screen should rotate as well.

“But CNET has learned that a federal judge in Delaware yesterday rejected Apple’s attempt to throw out a lawsuit over screen rotation brought by a holding company, MobileMedia Ideas, which has been dubbed “a classic patent troll.”

Apple has even worse patents than that, e.g. rounded rectangle. Apple uses such patents to ban or extort competitors, so it is in no position to bemoan the aforementioned decision. In case MobileMedia Ideas will target Android/others next, we ought to call it out. Patent trolls don’t just sue and then stop, getting back to a real, productive business.

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