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01.14.13

Links 14/1/2013: Desktops Market in Demise, Aaron’s Eulogies

Posted in News Roundup at 12:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Found: Blueprint for a computer-literate India

    IIT Bombay professor, Kannan M Moudgalya and his team have been documenting and creating tutorials for free open source software available on Linux to popularise it in India’s schools and colleges. Hassan M Kamal visits the lab to find out more

  • Desktop

    • Review: Google Chromebook for 30 Days

      A Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) Chromebook has arrived at The VAR Guy’s doorstep. Starting January 14, our resident blogger will live on the cloud-centric notebook (running Google’s Chrome OS) for 30 days. Why should channel partners, businesses and consumers care about this niche (but promising) form factor? Here are 10 points The VAR Guy hopes to cover during his real-world, month-long review.

  • Server

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Commit-Digest for 6th January 2013
      • KDE Workspaces and Applications 4.10 on live images courtesy of openSUSE

        The 4.10 release for the KDE Development Platform, Workspaces and Applications is drawing nigh… as you may have read, there is now an additional release candidate in order to test some last-minute changes.

      • Alien tip: Volume change percentages in KDE

        I have felt frustrated at times, when I press the Volume Up/Down buttons on my keyboard and the sound volume in KDE becomes just too loud, or just too soft. When you are running the KDE desktop, the increments in volume change are controlled by KMix, the KDE mixer. By default, the sound volume changes with increments of 4% which means that with a few keypresses you go from almost inaudible sound to full blast. And there is no way to change that 4% increment value into something more fitting… pretty annoying.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Settings!

        Those of us who work on GNOME design have been busy with all kinds of things recently. One major area of activity has been settings (aka System Settings, aka GNOME Control Center). In total, we have produced designs for four new panels (search, notifications, privacy, and sharing) and we have redesigned four of the existing panels (power, network, display, and date & time). Some of these have already been implemented, some are being developed on, and a few more are waiting for coders to get involved.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • Screenshots

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Snowlinux 4 “Glacier” Mate Review: Fast, light and customizable

        I have been a fan of Snowlinux for quite sometime and their Debian spins have always been exceptional – Lightweight, fast and very customizable. The new year release of Snowlinux 4, codenamed “Glacier” is no exception. Based on Debian Wheezy, it has Mate 1.4 as the default desktop environment and uses Linux kernel 3.5.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu At CES

            On Sunday last weekend I flew out to CES to join the rest of my colleagues to exhibit Ubuntu at the show. We were there to show the full range of Ubuntu form-factors that we have available; desktop, TV, Ubuntu for Android, and most recently, Ubuntu for phones.

          • ‘RC Mini Racers’ December’s Top Selling Ubuntu App
          • Ubuntu Phone OS Follow-up: Jono Bacon Answers YOUR Questions!

            At CES 2013 on Wednesday, I managed to corner Jono Bacon, Ubuntu’s Community Manager, for a few minutes and ask him some of the questions I saw popping up over and over again in the comments section of the Ubuntu Phone OS demonstration video I posted earlier this week. Hope you enjoy his responses!

          • Ask Ubuntu’s About Page Gets A Face Lift

            A common problem we have on Ask Ubuntu is people assuming that it’s just “another forum” and not quite grasping the concept of how the site works. Today Stack Exchange has rolled out a new About page that helps to curb this issue and educate new users with a quick start on how to use the site. You can view this page by clicking “About” at the top of the Ask Ubuntu website.

          • Mark Shuttleworth punts Ubuntu Phone OS at CES 2013

            South African millionaire and Canonical boss, Mark Shuttleworth, announced during a “virtual keynote” on 2 January 2012 that a version of the Linux-based Ubuntu operating system (OS) would be coming to smartphones.

          • The new entrants in mobile OS segment

            The smartphone ecosystem today has two dominant players: Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems. A late entrant, Android, has been quick to catch up with iOS and the Open operating system only seems to be surging ahead.

            Given the success of Android, many other Open Source paradigms are being floated, most notably the Free and Open Source projects Firefox (of browser fame) and Ubuntu that are re-making their debut this year in the commercial smartphone segment. Together, these projects that have been successful in the technology segments they currently operate in could perhaps help break into the combined monopoly of Apple and Google in the smartphone segment.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Bodhi Linux 2.2.0 Review: Better than ever bleeding edge Ubuntu LTS!

              A bit high CPU usage aside, Bodhi 2.2.0 is a remarkable improvement over Bodhi 2.1.0, undoubtedly. Enlightenment 17 never looked so enticing on any other Linux OS and Bodhi never looked so attractive. I am sure the high CPU usage will get resolved in an update or two. Even with high CPU usage, Bodhi is buttery smooth to use, runs super fast, provide all essential functionalities and has a rich repository. Further, presentation and offline mode are two utilities which increase the functionality of the distro.

              Moreover, Bodhi is always ahead of even Ubuntu 12.10 in terms of providing the latest of the Linux packages and softwares. Even this release is not an exception and provides the latest Linux kernel and softwares to the users without compromising on stability, and possibly, one of the reasons for me to like Bodhi Linux and why any Linux enthusiast should try Bodhi out. It is truly bleeding edge Ubuntu LTS!

              I definitely rate this release of Bodhi as the best one I have seen for any E17 Linux OS. If you are looking for a lightweight distro, look no further than Bodhi Linux 2.2.0, possibly one of the best releases of 2013.

            • elementary OS luna: First impressions

              In the world of Linux distributions, it’s fairly easy to get lost trying to figure out which “flavor” of Linux fits you best. As the user, you have a plethora of desktop interfaces, default apps, package managers, and bundled services to choose from. This can be a major barrier for someone new to Linux, and an endless journey for a veteran user who hasn’t yet found their “perfect” distro. For either type of user, there’s a new distribution in town that can meet their needs: elementary OS.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Ballnux

        • Rumour: LG Stops Nexus 4 Production?

          More bad news for Nexus 4 fans who have still not got their hands on this stunning device. LG is playing the spoilsport this time and is rumoured to stop the production of Nexus 4 to give way for its future products.

          It has always been tough to book a nexus 4 for yourself with the purchase screen most of the time showing the “SOLD OUT” status. We can either assume that Nexus 4 demands were too huge to provide a constant supply or the production of the phone was flawed and could not meet the demands.

      • Android

        • Android Appliances at CES 2013

          Are you ready to hack your fridge? I expected Android-powered home appliances to have a higher profile at CES this year than they did. But still, a few manufacturers were carrying the torch for smartening up devices in your home, and trying to provide some solid reasons for you to buy them, like energy savings.

          The flashiest Android appliance at CES was definitely Dacor’s Android-powered oven, which automatically programs itself according to recipes selected from a tablet.

        • Ubuntu for smartphone Vs Google Android Jelly Bean Vs Apple iOS 6

          Along with the rapid changes in hardware, phone market is also to witness to some auspicious changes in software field in coming months. Many more new OS platforms are to join the fray. Two major new arrivals are expected to be Mozilla’s Firefox OS and Canonical’s Ubuntu for phone. The Linux-based Ubuntu for mobile has been officially announced by its maker Canonical now. It has been in news for almost a year and it is to get the first device sometime this year.

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Windows 8 Means Buy (Another) New Computer

    I’m sure no one is surprised that upgrading to a new version of Windows means tossing out your old computer and buying a new one. That’s pretty much par for the course for any Windows upgrade.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Imagine N.Y. without fracking

      My husband, John Lennon, and I bought a beautiful farm in rural New York more than 30 years ago. We loved the tranquility and beauty of the area. Our son, Sean, spent many precious days there growing up. Our family still enjoys it now.
      Like the rest of our state, this peaceful farming community is threatened by fracking for gas. Giant pipelines, thousands of tractor-trailer trucks ripping up roads, loud air compressors, air pollution — and most of all, the certainty of poisoned drinking water.
      Certainty is the right word, according to the engineers, as the wells drilled for fracking will leak. According to industry documents from the gas drilling giant Schlumberger and other studies, 6 percent of the wells leak immediately, and over 60 percent of them leak over time. And no wonder they leak — the pressures of the earth thousands of feet under the ground cracks the cement well casings. The big variations in temperature along the well at various depths expand and contract the cement until it cracks and leaks.

  • Finance

    • The Welfare Bill: A government of millionaires just made the poor poorer – and laughed as they did it

      A brutal assault from ideologically-crazed demagogues comes down to this: you have been mugged and therefore your less deserving neighbour should be mugged too.

    • SEC Gives JP Morgan and Other Big Banks License to Manipulate Commodities

      An SEC action that appears likely to do considerable harm to companies and individuals in the US and abroad appears to have gone completely unnoticed, save for an important piece in The New Republic by Linda Khan.

      [...]

      The SEC is undermining provisions in Dodd Frank calling for the CFTC to rein in undue speculation in critical commodities. Readers may recall that commodities prices moved up in a coordinated manner in 2008. It looked like a speculative bubble, and was, since prices collapsed in the second half of the year (we were pretty sure that oil was a bubble, and called it and even traded it well; there was similar behavior in other commodities, but bad harvests and ethanol subsidies made the price rises arguably influenced by fundamentals in the grains complex).

    • Wall Street thanks you for your service, Tim Geithner

      The collapse of Lehman Brothers, a second major investment bank, started a run on the three remaining investment banks that would have led to the collapse of Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs if the Fed, FDIC, and treasury had not taken extraordinary measures to save them. Citigroup and Bank of America both needed emergency facilities established by the Fed and treasury explicitly for their support, in addition to all the below market-rate loans they received from the government at the time. Without this massive government support, there can be no doubt that both of them would currently be operating under the supervision of a bankruptcy judge.

      Of the six banks that dominate the US banking system, only Wells Fargo and JP Morgan could conceivably have survived without hoards of cash rained down on them by the federal government. Even these two are questionmarks, since both helped themselves to trillions of dollars of below market-rate loans, in addition to indirectly benefiting from the bailout of the other banks that protected many of their assets.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • FreedomWorks Putting Its War Chest to Work for ALEC’s Anti-Union Agenda in the States

      The Tea Party-affiliated group FreedomWorks — the right-wing organization that helps connect “Tea Party” groups with talking points, rallies, and more — is gearing up to direct its sizeable war chest towards advancing anti-union initiatives in the states, supporting an agenda set by groups like David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity and the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). This strongly suggests that the battle for the future of private and public sector unions in America is beginning a new phase of combat.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Fight Over French ISP Blocking Ads Really Just A New Perspective On Net Neutrality Debate

      At the beginning of the year, some folks in France, who used the popular ISP Free (whose name is a bit misleading, as it is not, in fact, free), discovered that the company had started providing a service in which it blocked all internet banner ads. There was no whitelist. It was either all or nothing (and if you went “all,” you were trusting that it wouldn’t over-filter). This quickly raised an awful lot of questions — with the biggest among them being “can they do that?” According to the French Digital Economy minister, the answer apparently is no. Free was quickly told to turn off its ad blocking software.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Aaron Swartz commits suicide

        The accomplished Swartz co-authored the now widely-used RSS 1.0 specification at age 14, was one of the three co-owners of the popular social news site Reddit, and completed a fellowship at Harvard’s Ethics Center Lab on Institutional Corruption. In 2010, he founded DemandProgress.org, a “campaign against the Internet censorship bills SOPA/PIPA.”

      • RIP, Aaron Swartz

        My friend Aaron Swartz committed suicide yesterday, Jan 11. He was 26. I got woken up with the news about an hour ago. I’m still digesting it — I suspect I’ll be digesting it for a long time — but I thought it was important to put something public up so that we could talk about it. Aaron was a public guy.

        I met Aaron when he was 14 or 15. He was working on XML stuff (he co-wrote the RSS specification when he was 14) and came to San Francisco often, and would stay with Lisa Rein, a friend of mine who was also an XML person and who took care of him and assured his parents he had adult supervision. In so many ways, he was an adult, even then, with a kind of intense, fast intellect that really made me feel like he was part and parcel of the Internet society, like he belonged in the place where your thoughts are what matter, and not who you are or how old you are.

        [...]

        Somewhere in there, Aaron’s recklessness put him right in harm’s way. Aaron snuck into MIT and planted a laptop in a utility closet, used it to download a lot of journal articles (many in the public domain), and then snuck in and retrieved it. This sort of thing is pretty par for the course around MIT, and though Aaron wasn’t an MIT student, he was a fixture in the Cambridge hacker scene, and associated with Harvard, and generally part of that gang, and Aaron hadn’t done anything with the articles (yet), so it seemed likely that it would just fizzle out.

        Instead, they threw the book at him. Even though MIT and JSTOR (the journal publisher) backed down, the prosecution kept on. I heard lots of theories: the feds who’d tried unsuccessfully to nail him for the PACER/RECAP stunt had a serious hate-on for him; the feds were chasing down all the Cambridge hackers who had any connection to Bradley Manning in the hopes of turning one of them, and other, less credible theories. A couple of lawyers close to the case told me that they thought Aaron would go to jail.

      • Prosecutor as bully

        Since his arresting the early morning of January 11, 2011 — two years to the day before Aaron Swartz ended his life — I have known more about the events that began this spiral than I have wanted to know. Aaron consulted me as a friend and lawyer that morning. He shared with me what went down and why, and I worked with him to get help. When my obligations to Harvard created a conflict that made it impossible for me to continue as a lawyer, I continued as a friend. Not a good enough friend, no doubt, but nothing was going to draw that friendship into doubt.

        The billions of snippets of sadness and bewilderment spinning across the Net confirm who this amazing boy was to all of us. But as I’ve read these aches, there’s one strain I wish we could resist…

        [...]

        But all this shows is that if the government proved its case, some punishment was appropriate. So what was that appropriate punishment? Was Aaron a terrorist? Or a cracker trying to profit from stolen goods? Or was this something completely different?

        Early on, and to its great credit, JSTOR figured “appropriate” out: They declined to pursue their own action against Aaron, and they asked the government to drop its. MIT, to its great shame, was not as clear, and so the prosecutor had the excuse he needed to continue his war against the “criminal” who we who loved him knew as Aaron.

      • Tech world mourns suicide of Aaron Swartz: Internet folk hero dead at 26

        The Internet activist committed suicide in New York on Friday. He was 26. “The tragic and heartbreaking information you received is, regrettably, true,” Swartz’s attorney Elliot R. Peters confirmed in an email to The Tech, which broke the news.

        Swartz is being remembered today for co-authoring RSS code at age 14. He created DemandProgress.org to campaign against SOPA/PIPA and the website theinfo.org. In July 2011, he was arrested for stealing some four million academic documents from JSTOR, a nonprofit digital archive.

      • Aaron Swartz, Precocious Programmer and Internet Activist, Dies at 26

        Aaron Swartz, a wizardly programmer who as a teenager helped develop code that delivered ever-changing Web content to users and later became a steadfast crusader to make that information freely available, was found dead on Friday in his New York apartment.

      • Remembering Aaron Swartz

        It is with incredible sadness that I write to tell you that yesterday, Aaron Swartz took his life. Aaron was one of the early architects of Creative Commons. As a teenager, he helped design the code layer to our licenses, and helped build the movement that has carried us so far. Before Creative Commons, he had coauthored RSS. After Creative Commons, he co-founded Reddit, liberated tons of government data, helped build a free public library at Archive.org, and has done incredibly important work to reform and make good our political system. (DemandProgress.org, his most recent org, was instrumental in blocking the SOPA/PIPA legislation one year ago.)

      • Official Statement from the family and partner of Aaron Swartz (Remember Aaron Swartz

        Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death. The US Attorney’s office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims. Meanwhile, unlike JSTOR, MIT refused to stand up for Aaron and its own community’s most cherished principles.

      • Naming and shaming a bully
      • The inspiring heroism of Aaron Swartz
      • Remove United States District Attorney Carmen Ortiz from office for overreach in the case of Aaron Swartz.
      • The Truth about Aaron Swartz’s “Crime”

        The facts:

        MIT operates an extraordinarily open network. Very few campus networks offer you a routable public IP address via unauthenticated DHCP and then lack even basic controls to prevent abuse. Very few captured portals on wired networks allow registration by any vistor, nor can they be easily bypassed by just assigning yourself an IP address. In fact, in my 12 years of professional security work I have never seen a network this open.
        In the spirit of the MIT ethos, the Institute runs this open, unmonitored and unrestricted network on purpose. Their head of network security admitted as much in an interview Aaron’s attorneys and I conducted in December. MIT is aware of the controls they could put in place to prevent what they consider abuse, such as downloading too many PDFs from one website or utilizing too much bandwidth, but they choose not to.
        MIT also chooses not to prompt users of their wireless network with terms of use or a definition of abusive practices.
        At the time of Aaron’s actions, the JSTOR website allowed an unlimited number of downloads by anybody on MIT’s 18.x Class-A network. The JSTOR application lacked even the most basic controls to prevent what they might consider abusive behavior, such as CAPTCHAs triggered on multiple downloads, requiring accounts for bulk downloads, or even the ability to pop a box and warn a repeat downloader.

      • Farewell to Aaron Swartz, an extraordinary hacker and activist
      • MIT president calls for “thorough analysis” of school’s involvement with Swartz

        Less than 48 hours after Aaron Swartz’s tragic suicide, the institution involved in his high-profile JSTOR incident (that eventually lead to federal charges) has issued a statement.

        MIT President Rafael Reif e-mailed the members of the university community this morning to address the situation, despite Swartz never having a formal affiliation with the school. Reif emphasized he was compelled to comment not only because of MIT’s role in the JSTOR incident, but also because Swartz was beloved by many within the MIT community. The president’s tone was clear throughout: “It pains me to think that MIT played any role in a series of events that have ended in tragedy.”

      • MIT to conduct internal probe in wake of Aaron Swartz’s suicide
      • Family blames US attorneys for death of Aaron Swartz
      • Copyright Vampires Attempt to Suck the Lifeblood Out of Fair Use Video
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