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Links 8/5/2013: Linux in Space, Android’s Growing Tablet Domination

Posted in News Roundup at 5:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Android and Linux Nanosats Shine Bright in Open Source Space Race

    Three Android-powered NASA “PhoneSat” nanosatellites deorbited and burned up in the atmosphere on April 27 after successfully completing their six-day mission. Meanwhile, the Android- and Linux-powered STRaND-1 nanosat, which was launched by the U.K.’s Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. and Surrey Space Centre on Feb. 25, is still orbiting, but has yet to phone home.

    Despite the risks of space, a growing number of organizations are developing tiny, low-cost nanosatellites built with Linux, Android, and Arduino gear. Like the NASA and Surrey missions, many are using open source designs.

  • What’s next? Linux powered guns, apparently

    When Austin startup TrackingPoint calls their product “Precision Guided Firearms – PGFs” they are serious about it living up to the name. We are talking about customized hunting rifles, such as the .300 Winchester Magnum, that have been fitted with scopes out of a sci-fi movie.

  • Linux still “benchmark of quality” in this year’s Coverity Scan

    Coverity has called Linux the “benchmark of quality” in its newly published 2012 Coverity Scan Open Source report. The company annually brings together millions of lines of code from open source and, using the same defect-scanning technology that it uses with its enterprise customers, scans that code for problems to produce data on defect densities.

  • How Linux Conquered the Fortune 500
  • Google and Adobe beautify fonts on Linux, iOS
  • Linux Enterprise User Stories: IT Research and Game Development

    Linux use in the enterprise is increasing as the Linux Foundation verified last month in its Enterprise End User Survey.

    In fact, more than 80 percent of respondents plan to increase the number of Linux servers in their organizations over the next five years. And 75 percent reported using Linux in the last two years in new applications, services and Greenfield deployments.

  • Picuntu home://io for RK3066 TV sticks makes installing Linux easy(ish)

    Android TV sticks with Rockchip RK3066 dual-core processors available sell for as little as $42. But these little boxes let you turn a TV or monitor into a computer capable of running thousands of Android apps. Or if you really want to use an RK3066 stick as a computer you can install Ubuntu.

  • Desktop

    • The State of the Chromebook

      Quck, when did the first Chromebooks (portable computers running Google’s Chrome OS platform) arrive? The answer is that the initial Chromebooks went on sale in June of 2011, nearly two years ago.

      It’s no secret that Chrome OS has not been the same striking success for Google that the Android OS has been. But at the same time, many users have taken notice of the low prices that these portables are offered at, and the many freebies that they come with. For example, the Acer C7 Chromebook, shown here, sells for only $199.

    • The Linux Setup – Katherine Noyes, Journalist

      I currently run Fuduntu Linux on my main desktop PC. Until just recently I dual-booted Ubuntu and Windows 7, but I finally wiped Windows (hadn’t actually needed it for a long time) and installed Fuduntu, which came really highly recommended. I’m loving it so far. Meanwhile I also have a Samsung Chromebook and an Android phone. We have a bunch of other laptops in my family, but my 12-year-old son is constantly installing new distros on them (he got the Linux Diversity collection for Christmas), so I couldn’t tell you what’s on them at the moment. ;)

    • Square Wheels

      That’s a much better deal for you than that other OS which forbids all of those things. Oh, sure, you can run that other OS but there are restrictions like a limit of 20 machines networked before having to pay extra, not sharing the software with a friend nor having more than one person at a time using it. That prevents you from getting the value you paid for in the hardware you buy. A computer knows no limits. Why accept such limitations in the software you use? As well, GNU/Linux is much easier to maintain as a few clicks updates all software in the operating system and the applications rather than you having a bunch of applications vulnerable to attack and having to do lots of re-re-reboots. Then there’s malware… In more than a decade of use of GNU/Linux on hundreds of PCs, I have never seen any malware on GNU/Linux while a high percentage of machines running that other OS have malware sapping resources.

      You know you want GNU/Linux as an option when you shop for computers. Insist on it and the retailers will supply it. The manufacturers will ship it.

    • ET deals: $599 for Alienware X51 mini gaming PC with Ubuntu Linux

      On the whole, PC gaming is typically a Windows-only affair. Both Mac and Linux users have had a significantly more limited selection of games to choose from and also a more limited hardware selection too.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux kernel version 3.9 adds better support for Chromebooks, maybe even yours
    • Linux kernel 3.9 adds full Chrome OS support
    • Linux 3.9 brings SSD caching and drivers to support modern PCs
    • Linux 3.9 kernel release offers SSD caching and server performance improvements
    • New Linux kernel release adds native SSD caching
    • New Linux kernel brings Android development support and SSD caching

      A new version of the Linux kernel has been released. Numbered at version 3.9, the new release has some nifty new features, including support for SSD caching, new processor architectures, power management improvements aimed at tablets and phones, support for Chomebooks and support for Android development.

    • Leaders From Raspberry Pi and Valve Top Keynote Speaker Line Up for LinuxCon and CloudOpen North America
    • SATO America Releases Linux And Mac OS X Drivers For Thermal Printers
    • Linux kernel 3.4 gets you Android developing

      A new Linux kernel 3.4 has been released, according to a post from Linux fellow Linus Torvalds.

      Often a huge barrier for aficionados of both Tux and Android; they now play nicely as Linux kernel brings support for development on Google’s OS along with SSD caching and other Jelly Bean-sweet improvements.

    • AMD says IOMMU v2.5 is key for Linux HSA support

      CHIP DESIGNER AMD said it is working to get IOMMU v2.5 support in the Linux kernel ahead of the first heterogeneous system architecture (HSA) chip that will come out later this year.

      AMD’s upcoming Kaveri chip will be the first to support HSA, which enables the CPU and on-die GPU to access system memory. The firm told The INQUIRER that it is working with the Linux community to get IOMMU v2.5 supported in the kernel in time for the launch of its Kaveri chip.

    • Full DynTicks Proposed For Linux Kernel Integration
    • ARM64 Support Will Improve In Linux 3.10 (AArch64)

      Support for the emerging 64-bit ARM Architecture, a.k.a. ARM64 or AArch64, will see better support with the Linux 3.10 kernel.

    • 6 Key New Features in Linux 3.9

      Ten weeks to the day after the arrival of version 3.8, Linux creator Linus Torvalds on Monday released version 3.9 of the Linux kernel.

      “This week has been very quiet, which makes me much more comfortable doing the final 3.9 release, so I guess the last -rc8 ended up working,” wrote Torvalds in the announcement email early Monday. “Because not only aren’t there very many commits here, even the ones that made it really are tiny and not pretty obscure and not very interesting.”

    • Linux 3.10 Gets New ARM, AMD Power Improvements

      Along with an assortment of other power management improvements to land with the Linux 3.10 kernel, a cpufreq driver for ARM’s big.LITTLE is being introduced. There’s also a cpufreq driver for the Exynos 5440 quad-core and the new AMD frequency sensitivity feedback support.

    • Announcing Outreach Program for Women Internships for the Linux Kernel: Please Apply

      I am pleased to announce The Linux Foundation is funding three Linux kernel internships through the Outreach Program for Women administered by the GNOME Foundation. These internships have a $5,000 stipend and come with a $500 travel grant to attend and speak at LinuxCon this fall. This is a great opportunity to work with a mentor and get started with kernel development, which as many articles report, is a great way to land a high-paying job.

    • Linux 3.9 Brings SSD Caching and Drivers to Support Modern PCs

      Linux creator Linus Torvalds last night announced the release of version 3.9 of the kernel. Available for download at kernel.org, Linux 3.9 brings a long list of improvements to storage, networking, file systems, drivers, virtualization, and power management.

    • GDB supports AArch64 Linux

      The developers of the GNU Project Debugger (GDB) have released version 7.6 of their tool. Among GDB’s new features are native as well as target configurations for ARM’s new AArch 64 architecture and the addition numerous new commands and options.

    • The State Of ARM SoC GPU Linux Drivers

      A Phoronix reader, Emmanuel Deloget, has written in to share an interview he carried out on his personal blog of various ARM SoC GPU driver developers. The drivers covered include Lima (ARM Mali), GRATE (NVIDIA Tegra), Videocore (Broadcom), Freedreno (Qualcomm Adreno), and etna_viv (Vivante) hardware.

    • Jim Zemlin at TEDx: What We’ve Learned from Linus Torvalds
    • Student Shares Feedback on Virtual Linux Training

      The Linux Foundation offers a variety of ways to get Linux training, including online Linux training courses for those who are not able to travel to a Linux Foundation event or one of our classroom Linux training options. We recently caught up with embedded systems engineer Adrian Remonda of the FuDePAN Foundation to ask about his experience in the Linux Kernel Internals & Debugging course (LF320).

    • Boosting Linux Power Efficiency with Kernel Scheduler Updates

      From data centers to embedded sensors, energy use is one of the toughest issues facing computing. The Linux kernel community has already made great progress in boosting energy efficiency, but there’s still more work to be done to optimize Linux systems, with one area of focus on power-aware scheduling.

    • Sound Updates To Be Played In Linux 3.10 Kernel

      Beyond knowing about the graphics driver changes coming for the Linux 3.10 kernel, the ALSA/sound kernel driver changes for the soon-to-open merge window are becoming more clear too.

    • Systemd 202 Starts Playing With D-Bus In The Kernel

      Systemd 202 has been released and it begin experimental work on supporting kdbus, the implementation of D-Bus within the Linux kernel. There’s also other fixes and features to this new systemd release.

    • Interesting Features, Changes In The Linux 3.9 Kernel

      With the release of the Linux 3.9 kernel being imminent, here’s a recap of the most interesting features coming to this next Linux release.

    • Graphics Stack

      • DRM Pull Request Submitted For Linux 3.10 Kernel

        The DRM graphics driver pull request has been submitted for the Linux 3.10 kernel.

        If you have been keeping track of Phoronix content, the pull request shouldn’t be a huge surprise. Key changes for the open-source Linux graphics drivers on the kernel-side come down to:

      • GLSL 1.30 Support For AMD RadeonSI Driver With LLVM

        Michel Dänzer of AMD has provided a set of patches that should provide for the necessary patterns and intrinsics for AMD to round out GLSL 1.30 support within their RadeonSI open-source Gallium3D driver for Radeon HD 7000/8000 series graphics cards.

      • NVIDIA 319.17 Linux Driver Brings In New Features

        One month after releasing the very first NVIDIA 319.xx Linux driver beta, NVIDIA has now released their 319.17 driver as a certified Linux driver that supports an assortment of new features.

        The NVIDIA 319.12 Beta for Linux introduced support for Optimus-like functionality, initial support for RandR 1.4, improved EFI support, new hardware support, performance fixes, and a whole lot of other work.

      • Wayland Gets Flavored With Weston SPICE Back-End

        This new Weston back-end supports SPICE (Simple Protocol for Independent Computing Environments) remote rendering protocol as used by Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization on the desktop. There’s been a lot of SPICE driver activity as of late with a QXL KMS driver and talk of a potential Gallium3D wrapper driver. This new driver though isn’t out of Red Hat.

      • Compressed Textures, Tiling Merged For RadeonSI

        The RadeonSI Linux driver that supports the Radeon HD 7000 series and future HD 8000 series of graphics cards can now handle compressed textures and 2D tiling.

      • Intel Graphics Will Change In The Linux 3.10 Kernel
      • Talking About Wayland Support On KDE’s KWin

        One week after a desktop developer meet-up, the lead developer of the KWin window manager, Martin Gräßlin, has written about the history of using KDE/KWin on the Wayland Display Server.

        Martin’s blog post began by talking indirectly about Canonical abandoning Wayland in favor of Mir for future releases of Ubuntu Linux, Wayland support for KWin has been a primary goal of Martin’s for the past two years, it took a while for Wayland 1.0 to have a stable and reliable API/ABI, and then earlier this year plans were talked about the KDE/Qt5/Wayland combination.

      • Wayland 1.2 Release Planned For June, XWayland

        An extensive list of plans for the Wayland/Weston 1.2 release were shared by the project’s founder, Kristian Høgsberg.

        On the Wayland mailing list, Kristian laid out his Wayland 1.2 vision. Key points from his e-mail include:

        - New major releases on a quarterly basis (every 4 months) while a six month cadence was talked about long ago in the past. Kristian explains, “The motivation for this is that we have a lot of new features and new protocol in the works and a time-based release schedule is a good way to flush out those features. Instead of dragging out a release while waiting for a feature to become ready, we release on a regular schedule to make sure the features that did land get released on time.”

      • Intel Mesa 3D Driver Gets Some Performance Tweaks

        At least three commits seeking to improve the performance of Intel’s open-source 3D/OpenGL Mesa driver were merged on Monday.

        On the same day as bringing GL2 to Intel’s i915 Mesa driver, Eric Anholt committed a set of improvements to the Intel i965 driver that supports back from the i965 hardware up through the latest Ivy Bridge, Haswell, and Valley View graphics processors. The performance improvements committed today come down to:

      • Intel Brings OpenGL 2.0/2.1 To Classic i915 Mesa Driver
    • Benchmarks

      • 32-bit vs. 64-bit Ubuntu 13.04 Linux Performance

        While nearly all modern Intel/AMD x86 hardware is 64-bit capable, among novice Linux users the question commonly is whether to install the 32-bit or 64-bit version of a given distribution. We have previously delivered benchmarks showing Ubuntu 32-bit vs. 64-bit performance while in this article is an updated look in seeing how the 32-bit versus 64-bit binary performance compares when running Ubuntu 13.04 with the Linux 3.8 kernel.

      • Nouveau vs. NVIDIA Linux Comparison Shows Shortcomings

        One week after delivering updated Radeon Gallium3D vs. AMD Catalyst benchmarks on Ubuntu Linux, we have to share this morning similar results for the open-source and reverse-engineered “Nouveau” Linux graphics driver compared to the proprietary NVIDIA Linux graphics driver. While the Nouveau driver has come a long way and does support the latest Fermi and Kepler GPUs, it’s not without its share of shortcomings. Eleven NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards were used in this latest Phoronix comparison.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE 4.10.3 Brings over 75 Bugfixes

        The KDE Project has announced today, May 7, the immediate availability for download and update of the third maintenance release of the KDE Software Compilation 4.10 environment for Linux systems.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME 3.10 Release Schedule

        While many of you, GNOME fans, are still enjoying the newly released GNOME 3.8 desktop environment, the GNOME developers are working hard on the next major version, GNOME 3.10, due for release this Autumn.

      • Cinnamon 1.8 Desktop Adds In New Features

        Cinnamon, the popular GNOME Shell fork developed by the Linux Mint crew, has released a major update to their software stack.

      • GOCL: Bringing OpenCL To GNOME Software

        GOCL has been introduced, a new GLib/GObject wrapper to OpenCL for GNOME applications. This new wrapper library seeks to make it easier for GNOME software to take advantage of OpenCL.

      • Cinnamon 1.8 adds desklet support

        Desklets, a new screensaver and a Spices management component are among the major improvements of the just released Cinnamon 1.8. Like KDE plasmoids and Android widgets, these desklets can be positioned on a desktop screen’s background to display information. The new version includes three default desklets: a launcher, a clock and a photo frame; further community-developed desklets are available on the project’s web page.

  • Distributions

    • Can Cloverleaf Linux be the Ubuntu of rpm world?

      The now defunct Fuduntu team has come together to create a new distribution which they initially called FuSE Linux which was complementing Fedora and openSUSE. The distribution will be based on openSUSE, one of the most popular GNU/Linux based distribution which also contributes heavily to core open source technologies such as the Linux Kernel, Gnome, KDE, LibreOffice and much more.

    • 5 Linux Distributions With Fastest Boot Speeds

      Usually we say enterprises are the home for Linux operating systems across the globe. Apart from being used inside the companies for managing servers and databases, today Linux operating systems have turned out to be quite user-friendly that they are now used across homes.

    • New Releases

    • Screenshots

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • PCLinuxOS “So Cool Ice Cubes are Jealous”

        PCLinuxOS was born as a set of RPMs for Mandrake Linux. Remember Mandrake Linux? It was one of the first distros to aim for ease-of-use and user-friendliness with nice tools for system administration, a slick graphical installer, and a full complement of drivers and multimedia codecs. My first Linux was Red Hat 5, but Mandrake (initially based on Red Hat) was the first distro that gave me video acceleration and good video quality, and didn’t choke on my fancy Promise Ultra66 IDE controller. That’s right, 66 screaming megabytes per second transfer speed, which was double the poky 33MB/s of the onboard controllers of that era. Our modern SATA buses deliver gigabytes per second, but back then megabytes were enough, and we liked it that way.

      • The Elegant Mageia Linux Prepares a New Release
    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat renames JBoss application server as WildFly

        After tallying the votes in a naming contest that kicked off in October 2012, leading Linux vendor Red Hat has announced that the product formerly known as the JBoss Application Server (AS) will henceforth be known as WildFly.

      • Red Hat OpenStack Distribution: June 2013 Partner Surprises?

        Red Hat OpenStack, the open source company’s next big product, will grab a massive spotlight during Red Hat Summit (June 11-14, Boston). For channel partners and cloud services providers (CSPs), the summit could provide new clues about when Red Hat OpenStack will actually launch, and which CSPs and enterprises will be among the first customers to embrace the new platform.

      • Red Hat gains FIPS 140-2 certification for RHEL
      • Red Hat’s Gluster gets a community project forge

        The GlusterFS distributed filesystem community is expanding to take in a range of other storage-related, and generally Gluster-related, projects. The change was announced by Red Hat, who acquired Gluster Inc, the company behind the cloud/cluster-oriented distributed filesystem, in October 2011. Since then, Red Hat has maintained the Gluster Community at Gluster.org while marketing the GlusterFS software as its Storage Server.

      • Fedora

        • Video: Korora 18 Install Video
        • Korora 18
        • Fedora 19 Sneak Peek

          An alpha version of Fedora 19 has been released, so it’s a good time to take a sneak peek at what Fedora 19 will have to offer users. As always you should note that alpha releases like Fedora 19 should be considered for testing purposes and fun only. You should not rely on it as your daily desktop distro.

        • Fedora Is Testing Out Radeon, Nouveau, Intel Graphics

          Fedora developers are running another “Graphics Test Week” and are seeking your help in evaluating the open-source Intel, Radeon, and Nouveau graphics drivers.

    • Debian Family

      • Debian 7.0 ‘Wheezy’ Review

        Just short of two weeks after the big release of Ubuntu 13.04 ‘Raring Ringtail’, I had Debian 7.0 ‘Wheezy’ arrive on my desk for testing. I have a huge amount of respect for Debian, as do most other Linux users. It’s been around since the very beginnings of the Linux revolution in 1993, just short of 20 years. And it’s contributions to GNU, Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS) and Linux over its many years make Debian one of the real-true grandfathers of Linux and is most probably the most respected Linux operating systems to date.

      • Debian 7.0 Wheezy

        Debian 7.0 (Wheezy) is out and it’s time for another review of this venerated linux project.

      • Debian 7.0 ‘Wheezy’ now available, lets Linux users mix architectures
      • Derivatives

        • Debian release triggers distribution updates

          The recent release of Debian 7.0, also known as “Wheezy”, has triggered distribution updates of CrunchBang and aptosid. CrunchBang project leader Philip Newborough has moved CrunchBang 11 “Waldorf”, which has been in development for over a year and according to Newborough is likely to be “the most thoroughly tested #! release to date”, to stable status. Newborough, who is also known under his online handle of “corenominal”, has rebuilt the images of CrunchBang 11 for the occasion of the Wheezy release and the new images can be downloaded from the CrunchBang site.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu without the ‘U’: Booting the Big Four remixes

            It’s the end of April, so that means that there’s a new release of Ubuntu. Well, actually, no – it means that there are eight of them. Don’t like standard Ubuntu’s Mac-OS-X-like Unity desktop? Here’s where to look.

          • Ubuntu 13.04 Boosts Graphics Performance to Prepare for Phones, Tablets

            The stable release of Ubuntu 13.04 became available for download today, with Canonical promising performance and graphical improvements to help prepare the operating system for convergence across PCs, phones, and tablets.

            “Performance on lightweight systems was a core focus for this cycle, as a prelude to Ubuntu’s release on a range of mobile form factors,” Canonical said in an announcement today. “As a result 13.04 delivers significantly faster response times in casual use, and a reduced memory footprint that benefits all users.”

          • Where’s my Ubuntu for Android?

            I can clearly remember the day when Canonical announced Ubuntu for Android. My first reaction was – finally, the true convergence is here! The ability to turn smartphone into a full-blown PC is something we’ve been hearing about for quite some time now. And Canonical was first to make that dream into a reality. Except that the mentioned software was never released to the general public. Instead, the company decided to pitch OEMs and allow them to pre-install the application on their devices. Bad idea, considering the tight relations major OEMs have with carriers.

          • Using zRAM On Ubuntu 13.04 Linux

            The Linux kernel zRAM module allows for creating RAM-based compressed block devices and for common situations can reduce or eliminate paging on disk. The zRAM feature can be particularly beneficial for systems with limited amounts of system memory. It’s quite easy to setup zRAM on Ubuntu Linux, so in this article are some before and after benchmarks.

            For some cursory benchmarks this weekend, from an old Apple Mac Mini with 1GB of system memory and Intel Core 2 Duo T5600 processor and i945 graphics, benchmarks were conducted atop Ubuntu 13.04 with the Linux 3.8 kernel. A variety of system benchmarks were carried out immediately after a clean Ubuntu 13.04 “Raring Ringtail” development installation and then again after setting up zRAM.

          • 13.04 based Ubuntu Touch arrives with few changes

            The Canonical developers have announced the availability of Ubuntu 13.04 based Ubuntu Touch images. These “Raring Ringtail” images, available for the Galaxy Nexus (codename: maguro), Nexus 4 (mako), Nexus 10 (manta) and Nexus 7 (grouper) – the four officially supported devices – have been described by some as “beta” images, but are in fact regression test images to ensure the transition from basing Ubuntu Touch on 12.10 to 13.04 goes smoothly.

          • Ubuntu’s Raring Ringtail Is Kind of a Snore

            Ubuntu 13.04 is an upgrade that’s a downer. Not that Raring Ringtail is a total failure — it’s just that it lacks any real electricity. Yes, it is easy to use and comes preloaded with lots of apps. However, hardcore Linux enthusiasts will give this distro a pass and wait for the next long-term release.

          • One Linux over all: Mark Shuttleworth’s ambitious post-PC plans for Ubuntu

            Canonical Founder Mark Shuttleworth has really big, plans to put Ubuntu on your smartphone, on your tablet and (via OpenStack). What he doesn’t offer is details on revenue.

          • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Balance of the force – the Open Source Column

    Human beings are still worth cherishing, even if the computer can do it all, argues Simon

  • $50,000 prize for new open source Open Flow driver

    The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) has initiated a competition with a $50,000 prize to develop an essential component for the OpenFlow software defined networking (SDN). The ONF is dedicated to promoting SDN, where the routing of traffic in a network is independent of the underlying hardware using the OpenFlow protocol. OpenFlow is at the heart of many plans for software defined networking; for example, the recently announced OpenDaylight project uses the protocol as part of its architecture. The Open Networking Foundation’s board members include Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Goldman Sachs, and Microsoft, and it has an industry-wide membership.

  • Sizing up open source: Not so simple

    Open-source software throws a wrench into traditional software evaluation criteria. Here’s what to look for and what you’ll be expected to contribute.

  • KVM

    • IBM Makes Push for Open Source Virtualization with KVM

      IBM is not at all new to virtualization, but with its shift last month to an open source cloud architecture, the company has put a fresh effort into boosting market share for KVM, the open source Linux “Kernel-based Virtual Machine” for x86 servers.

    • Join Us For the KVM End User Technical Summit at the New York Stock Exchange

      KVM and open virtualization are being rapidly adopted as end users look for lower-cost, enterprise hypervisors. One the major use cases for KVM is to virtualize and consolidate Linux workloads, and the pre-integration of KVM in major Linux distributions makes it easy for Linux enterprise end users to adopt KVM.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Packaged offline-ready apps will be the new normal for Chrome

        Google has made changes to the developer edition of Chrome running on Windows, shuffling around categories on its Chrome Web Store. Now, the “Apps” category only means the new class of packaged apps that are installed in Chrome. Packaged apps are written in HTML5, JavaScript and CSS and designed to behave much more like native apps, most notably by having the ability to run without an internet connection.

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox’s Inspector Tool as 3D Modeler (Seriously)

        Firefox 20.0 — and a couple earlier versions I think — has a nifty little feature of its “Inspector” tool that allows you to view HTML elements as 3D objects. This lets you to graphically see the DOM structure and how elements lay against one another. As soon as the feature appeared I knew what I wanted to do with it, I wanted to use it for something it wasn’t intended for: 3D Modeling.

  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Databases

  • CMS

  • Business

    • Digium Asterisk, Switchvox Leader Joins Hosted PBX Specialist

      Tristan Barnum, a former Digium leader, has joined Telcentris as VP of marketing. Barnum is well-known as a pioneer of Asterisk, the open source IP BPX, within business circles and the IT channel. So what is Barnum up to at Telcentris? Here are some educated guesses from The VAR Guy.

    • ForgeRock’s Open Identity Stack

      Identity and access management (IAM) is an integral part of online security across every industry. It is the power of effective IAM solutions that give responsible enterprises the ability to validate the identity of an individual and control their access in the organization, protecting data, information, and privacy of its employees and customers.

  • BSD

  • Public Services/Government

    • Open Letter to Local Government Minister for Manitoba, Lemieux

      Governments of all sizes can benefit themselves and their constituents by using GNU/Linux operating systems on servers and PCs and Android/Linux operating systems on tablets and smartphones. Similarly, Apache web server, PostgreSQL database, SugarCRM customer relations, WordPress blogging, and LibreOffice are key applications capable of industrial strength information technology at the lowest cost. The Government of the United Kingdom runs its whole public domain on WordPress. The UK plans to replace much of its bureaucracy with a network of servers cutting the cost of transactions by as much as fifty times over person to person interaction. The UK plans to make Free Software (Open Source, in their terminology) the default for all changes in IT. Typically, it costs about half as much money to run IT with Free Software as with non-free software. Often savings are immediate with less need to upgrade hardware or to fight malware.

    • Swiss government consider re-use of Swedish open source procurement program

      The Swiss government is studying if it can organise procurement of open source services similar to the way it is done for Sweden’s public administrations. The Swiss government’s Federal IT Steering Unit FITSU funded the translation into German of Sweden’s open source procurement framework.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Hardware

      • Open source hardware projects from OSS Watch event

        At Open Source Junction 4 we invited attendees to present their hardware projects. Some were open source hardware, while some used consumer hardware components in conjunction with open source software to provide an innovative solution to a problem.

      • LulzBot’s 3D printer and open biz model

        Not all businesses can stand behind their products, and even fewer can stand on top of them. At LulzBot, it’s not uncommon to find the multi-talented and seriously committed team mounting their 3D printers upside down or bumping along Colorado mountain roads with a functioning 3D printer in tow—all in the interest of testing the durability and strength of their product under the most extreme conditions. And that’s only part of what makes LulzBot different.

      • The Era of the Open Source Gun

        May 6th, 2013 will stand out in the memory of anyone involved in the 3D printing community as the day that the mass media, for better or for worse, really took notice of this rapidly evolving field. That’s because as of right now, anyone in the United States can legally download and print their own fully functioning handgun.

      • Open Home Control: New home automation hardware project

        Open Home Control Many open source home automation projects have relied on driving proprietary devices, but the newly created Open Home Control project aims to change that by creating a framework for hardware devices that can be integrated with open sourced home automation platforms such as the respected openHAB software.

  • Programming

    • Areas Where LLVM’s Clang Still Needs Help

      While LLVM’s Clang C/C++ compiler already has feature complete C++11 support and the developers have already been working on C++14 features, there are some open projects where the GCC alternative is in need of some assistance.

      As pointed out within the latest SVN trunk for the Clang compiler code-base in their documentation (or within the Git mirror), there’s several open work items that could use some development help. Here’s some of the highlights for the most pressing Clang projects seeking some love:

    • Git Turns 8, Sees Wide Adoption in the Enterprise

      This April marks both the eighth anniversary of Git and the fifth anniversary of GitHub, so it should come as no great surprise that the distributed revision control and source code management (SCM) system has been the focus of extra attention this month.

    • LLVM 3.3 Planned As A Phoronix Birthday Present
    • LLVM 3.3 To Introduce SLP Vectorizer

      One of the prominent features to be introduced with the LLVM 3.3 release this summer is the SLP Vectorizer. Introduced in the LLVM 3.2 release was the LLVM Loop Vectorizer for vectorizing loops while the new SLP Vectorizer is about optimizing straight-line code by merging multiple scalars into vectors.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Messaging standard for machine-to-machine sensors makes headway

      The move will enable better applications and analytics for the so-called Internet of things. Cisco, Eclipse Foundation, Eurotech, IBM, Kaazing, M2Mi, Red Hat, Software AG, and Tibco, members of the OASIS open standards consortium, will develop one version of the Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT) protocol.


Debian Should Consider Adding Weight to Antitrust Complaint Over Microsoft’s Restricted Boot Tactics, Wheezy Cannot Boot on New Hardware

Posted in Antitrust, Debian, FSF, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft at 1:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The universal operating system should help hold Microsoft accountable for anticompetitive practices

Debian on a laptop

Summary: With UEFI cracked as a security measure, all that is left can be deemed an impediment to GNU/Linux booting; hence, Debian GNU/Linux (leading among the free operating systems) should be used as evidence against Microsoft in an antitrust case

Microsoft cannot quite market the limitations of UEFI, notably restricted boot. Truth be told, boot-time malware is not the real threat but mostly a conceptual one (with proofs of concept put out there by security researchers), and moreover UEFI is easy for malicious entities to bypass [1, 2], as proven before (Torvalds, clearly not a fan of all this, saw it coming). Just like DRM, it hurts legitimate users and developers the most. No wonder there is an antitrust complaint over it,

“Truth be told, boot-time malware is not the real threat but mostly a conceptual one…”“A critical vulnerability in Internet Explorer 8 is being exploited in the wild and full information about how to make use of the vulnerability is now in widespread circulation. The recent attack on a sub-site of the US Department of Labor has revealed the attackers were in fact using a new exploit for a 0-day vulnerability which only affects Internet Explorer 8,” says this report. So why does Microsoft obsess over boot-time?

UEFI addresses an issue which hardly exists, it is a solution in search of a problem. A highly-anticipated Debian version was released the other day and it is not compatible with Microsoft’s latest hardware restrictions, says Sam Varghese. To quote:

The Debian GNU/Linux project released version 7.0 of its well-known Linux distribution on May 4, two years and three months after the last version came out.

Debian backs the FSF on this matter, so it can hopefully add its support to the antitrust complaint too.

NB: I am a Debian GNU/Linux user. This distribution recently got some endorsements from the FSF, and vice versa. Its policies under the latest leadership are commendable.

Patent Attack on Skype Following Microsoft’s Patent Attacks on Free Codecs, Media/Communication; Some More Microsoft Lobbying Regarding Patents

Posted in EFF, Microsoft, OSI, Patents, Standard at 1:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Unleashing the attack dogs on free Internet communication


Summary: Patent news involving communications tools which either promote surveillance (Microsoft) or impede surveillance (FOSS and standards); more Microsoft involvement in patent law is seen

Skype is said to be a patent violation (inevitably, all software is a patent violation in a country where software patents are abundant) and a Microsoft friendly site adds that “CopyTele CEO Robert Berman, whose company filed two claims last week against Microsoft’s Skype service, says his case is nuanced.”

Hopefully he can destroy Skype, but the government would never allow that. Skype has been incredibly valuable not just for domestic surveillance but foreign surveillance too. The US records everything and stores it in datacentres with colossal machines that boast high disk capacity. On a per-person basis, this is rather cheap. See our Skype overview page for more information. It’s not the main topic of this particular post, which is really about patent abuses.

Skype’s rival which supports real privacy is SIP-based VOIP, but Microsoft’s partner BT is attacking it with software patents. There is a Slashdot discussion about it and we covered it the other day.

The OSI’s president, who is British, says that “BT mounts awesome visual aid of why standards should be patent free by law” and the FFII’s president writes:

After 20 years we still do not have a free video codec for the web, blame Microsoft, Nokia and other patent trolls.

He adds at a similar time that “BT claim patents on VoIP SIP, a disaster, covered by a minefield of 99 patents. Time to quick swpats out of EU” (swpats as in software patents).

He ridicules the recent “World IP Day” by calling it “World Imaginary Property” and adding that “Microsoft heavily depends on plant variety rights. Monsanto needs software patents”.

He also thinks that the “EFF does not push for abolition of software patents in the US,” calling “for an FFII.us branch” (the EFF has indeed disappointed in that regard).

The USPTO cannot be chastised by US entities as effectively as European entities doing the same thing. Additionally, the EFF is dominated by lawyers (part of the problem), whereas the FFII is dominated by software professionals. The EFF is working against trolls but not against software patents like it once said it would. Google too is adopting this method. The danger is that the USPTO will be expanding towards a global patent system (a subject we covered here many times before), inspired by the US, as usual. The first step is almost complete:

After decades of proposals and debate, a new European-wide single patent, known as the Unitary Patent may well be a reality by the end of 2014.

From the “World IP Day” (notice globalisation nuance) we have this tidbit:

Luke Johnson – too many patents now issued and undermine the value of IP protection (those ‘patent trolls’)

We said this many times before. Anyway, this “IP Day” is just more propaganda opportunism. It’s for lobbying. Microsoft is lobbying too, eternally striving to prevent the patent system from being truly fixed while its lawyers are committing RICA Act violations (racketeering). Here is the latest propaganda from Brad Smith (top Microsoft lawyer), with a British lawyer giving a shoutout:

Brad Smith laments the absence of a well functioning secondary market for patents — and patent lawyers who love their patents

Not so long ago Microsoft brought extortion to China (starting with a producing giant, Foxconn [1, 2]), calling it “licensing” to deceive regulators. This is crime disguised as “honouring the [patent] law.”

There will soon be a panel event involving a prominent opponent of software patent, Judge Posner. To quote this introduction: “A panel of distinguished jurists will discuss these two conflicting perspectives on whether the patent system today promotes or hampers innovation: Arthur Gajarsa, former Judge on the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Paul Michel, former Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and Richard Posner, Judge of the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. The panel will be moderated by Douglas Ginsburg, former Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and a Professor of Law at George Mason University School of Law.”

This panel does not look like it’s completely rigged, unlike the ridiculous "roundtable" (where all sides of the table held the same position/premise).

Losing Sight of the Real Problem With the Patent System

Posted in Deception, Patents at 12:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Man with glasses

Summary: Criticism of a strategy for reforming the patent system — a strategy which gained popularity despite the fact that it is a red herring with no solution in sight

Armed with some new information, Mike Masnick insists that “Over 90% Of The Most Innovative Products From The Past Few Decades Were NOT Patented“. Copyright is not a prerequisite for creativity and patents are not essential for innovation; these legal instruments are empirically shown, repeatedly, for having the very opposite effect. So the problem is patents and copyrights, not those who use or misuse them. These two are quite outdated and ‘modernising’ them for the age of digital abundance is imperative; making software patentable like hardware is worse than foolish and trying to restrict copies of 1s and 0s is also an impossible task.

Brad Feld, a startups-loving VC, says “It’s Time To Protect Startup Communities From Patent Trolls” (which again places focus on trolls rather than software parents, as Feld used ti). To quote his opening paragraphs:

If you’re a mobile gaming startup, you’ve probably heard of, or even been sued by, a company called Lodsys. Where this narrative gets interesting is when you understand that Lodsys is suing small, effective companies for “unlawfully” using patents that that it has no intention of developing upon. This behavior is what the tech community calls patent trolling. And there are AT LEAST hundreds of so-called “patent trolls” out there — increasingly targeting startups, creating a real drag on innovation and job creation. 55 percent of the companies targeted have $10 million or less in annual revenue.

I spend my days investing in new tech companies around the United States, hoping to help them build the next great idea that will make our lives better. Startups already face many unique challenges to growth and so I’m always disheartened to see legislation that fails to protect, or even hurts, companies that are creating jobs and inventing breakthrough technologies. One recent example is the America Invents Act (or AIA) — the biggest attempt at patent reform in over 50 years. Despite the attempt at change, the system is still struggling under the weight of overly broad patents that are often bought up by non-practicing entities (or patent trolls).

But that’s not the key point; trolls are not always worse than large entities which use software parents to impede startups. Masnick’s site says that “When Startups Need More Lawyers Than Employees, The Patent System Isn’t Working” (irrespective of patent trolls). This too, however, uses the recurring theme of trolls rather than software patents:

As part of our sponsorship program with the Application Developers Alliance, we’re highlighting some of the content on DevsBuild.It, their new resource website, that we think will be most interesting to Techdirt readers.

We’ve talked a lot about the tax on innovation that patent trolls create, which is well-known inside startup circles but often misunderstood by the broader public, thanks to the pro-innovation rhetoric of high-profile trolls like Intellectual Ventures. The conversation is getting more attention lately, especially with the recent news of Senator Schumer’s patent reform bill which specifically aims to fight the patent troll problem, and this interview with an anonymous developer from a tech startup offers some perspective from someone who is directly affected by the issue.

Ashby Jones from the Murdoch-owned press misses the boat by using a false narrative in the article “Samsung-Apple Patent Fight: Is It Worth It? “

There are issues with this article. It starts with: “Smartphone makers who went on the offensive in the industry’s patent wars are learning a tough lesson: The courts aren’t buying it.”

Not quite accurate. It was Apple that sued Samsung, it’s not a two-way battle. When one side seeks deterrence/defence through reactive litigation, it’s not quite as the article puts it. Here is a post based on this report:

WSJ: The patent wars have been a major bust for all smartphone vendors

While just about everyone is sick and tired of the constant barrage of patent lawsuits among smartphone vendors, it seems that tech companies themselves keep plugging precious resources into suing one another despite having fairly little to show for it. Analysis by The Wall Street Journal has found that “courts have proven as likely to deliver plaintiffs a rebuke as a win, and the slow grinding of the justice system has sapped the impact of the occasional big victories” in patent lawsuits.

There is a pattern in reporting which is troubling; either the reporters single out the mobile market as the issue or they simply name the trolls, never challenging the simple idea that patents themselves (or their scope) may be the culprit.

Apple is suing Android/Linux because Apple is desperate, not because its patents have merit. Already we see some eulogies for Apple, such as this one about “Peak Apple”. It says:

Foxconn is reportedly planning for an Apple-free future after a massive slump in orders from Cupertino.

Apple’s favourite production company is moving away from simply building other people’s designs and trying to break into a new market with the introduction of a range of flatscreen televisions.

Recall that Foxconn sold Android down the river to Microsoft [1, 2]. This is neither an issue of patent trolls nor an issue of patent applications backlog. Taking a shot at trolls would do nothing to address the issue, not in its entirety anyway.

Microsoft Implicitly Declares Vista 8 Dead, Refocuses on Vapourware Instead and Bribes Dell to Play Along

Posted in Dell, Microsoft, Vista 8, Windows at 12:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

On to imaginary products

“In the face of strong competition, Evangelism’s focus may shift immediately to the next version of the same technology, however. Indeed, Phase 1 (Evangelism Starts) for version x+1 may start as soon as this Final Release of version X.”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

Windows Blue

Summary: The sale of Dell turns out to have been initiated by Microsoft, whose leading product (common carrier) is already having obituaries written about it due to the messages which come out from Microsoft

The manager behind the product which we dubbed Vista 8 has already been fired. It is easy to see why now that we have preliminary market statistics, just over half a year after the official release. Vista 8 greatly harmed OEMs such as Dell (Dell too has complained) and this new report says that Microsoft is paying Dell [1, 2, 3] to encumber PCs with Vista 8, leaving the customers out of the loop.

The terms of Microsoft’s $2 billion loan into the war chest of Denali Holdings, the Dell private buyout entity led by Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners, are now public record. Microsoft’s money was key in raising the $24.4 billion required to finalize the offer for Dell, but it’s possible Dell will benefit even beyond the loan; the loan documents make clear that after the acquisition is complete, Dell will re-negotiate its payment terms for Microsoft software licenses.

So no longer is it mere speculation that Microsoft was behind Dell going private and selling out. “Windows Blues,” as iophk calls it, is what we are seeing here. “Vista 8 is failing so they are already doing the N+1 thing,” he adds. Here is a report about it. Talk about rush; this is motivated by panic. The Guardian says “PC sales plummet”, but what it means to actually say is “Windows preinstalls plummet” (because of failure to evolve). “Biggest expectation is that update will revive start button familiar to users for 17 years before removal from Windows 8,” writes Charles Arthur. But that’s not really an apt summary. The real news is that Windows is plummeting to minority market share and Microsoft has no clue what to do about it. Here is CNET claiming “‘Wintel’ on the wane: Intel goes Google”. The summary is as follows: “Intel has been synonymous with Windows PCs seemingly forever. But it’s trying to change that in a hurry. Enter Google.”

I recently had lunch with an Intel engineer who acknowledged this trend. Moblin and Tizen were not good enough as comeback attempts. Here is a criticism of what Microsoft is essentially doing right now. The author alleges that Windows 8 marketing fiasco deemed even worse than ‘New Coke’ and he starts with the obvious pitfall: “With the Windows Blue update on the way, analysts have already started writing obituaries for Windows 8, the operating system that proved to be immensely polarizing among PC users. While history will likely look upon Windows 8 more kindly than the widely despised Vista, Envisioneering analyst Richard Doherty tells The Financial Times that it will be remembered as the biggest marketing fiasco since Coca Cola decided to rework the
formula for its famous soft drink back in the ’80s.”

Here is IDG with some numbers:

Microsoft’s own numbers show Windows 8 sales falling rapidly

Microsoft says it’s sold more than 100 million Windows 8 licenses to date, but its officially reported monthly sales are falling off precipitously

Based on some numbers from IDC (part of IDG), despite a lot of money spent on marketing, Windows is a non-starter outside the desktop.

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