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12.19.13

(GNU) Linux on the Tablet in 2013

Posted in GNU/Linux at 4:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Desktop? Bypass that.

Motorola Xoom
Photo by Pjpearce

Summary: Celebrating the quick growth of Android on the tablet, which in turn facilitates GNU/Linux on more tablets

Tablets are a growing market. A lot of people have tablets these days. The concepts behind tablets are not new; they have been around for decades and Apple popularised them with hypePad (paying celebrities for endorsements and other such spin); in 2013 tablets running Android pretty much left Apple hypePad in the dust, just as Android had done to hypePhone in prior years.

As many tablets running Android are permissive in the sense that the user can install alternative operating systems (like Replicant or full GNU/Linux distributions) it should be no surprise that a rise in Android on the tablet will spur a growth of GNU/Linux on tablets (commercial efforts on this have been made before and are still being made [1]).

Android on the tablet currently accounts for the lion’s share of the market. To give some examples from this month’s news, there is a new $38 Android tablet [2], there are dual screen tablets [3], there’s ZaTab [4], and there are even national efforts in India [5].

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Will ZaReason’s second tablet also be a dud?

    A company that last year put on sale an Android tablet that turned out to be a dud is marketing a new model this year – and using most of the same marketing spiel from 2012 to try and sell it.

  2. $38 Android tablet the new king of cheap

    Datawind is bringing three commercial “UbiSlate” versions of its 7-inch, Android 4.0 Aakash tablets to the U.S., including a model that starts at $38.

    Datawind’s three new UbiSlate tablets are based on the Aakash 2 educational tablet that shipped in India in early 2012, as well as an upcoming Aakash 3 model. The Aakash 2 was hailed as the world’s cheapest tablet, at about $40, and was available to schoolchildren at lower prices thanks to subsidization by the Indian school system. In India, sales of the Aakash 2 overtook the iPad according to U.K.-based Datawind.

  3. YotaPhone. Always-on dual screen, thicker than most, but not by much

    The YotaPhone is a smartphone from Yota Devices Ltd., a Russian company that also manufactures a portable LTE router called Ruby.

    YotaPhone is an Android smartphone, running Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. But it’s different from other smartphones (Android and otherwise) in that it comes with a dual screen (it’s a double-display smartphone). On the front is a 4.3-inch, HD LCD display and on the back is an e-ink display that’s also 4.3 inches.

  4. Testing the New ZaTab Open Hackable Android Tablet
  5. Shri Kapil Sibal Releases Updated and Advanced Urdu Language Software Tools CD, Bharat Operating System Solutions (Boss 5.0) CD and Urdu Children Stories for Android Based Aakash Tablet

    The “Bharat Operating System Solutions CD (BOSS 5.0)” is a GNU / Linux developed by C-DAC under the guidance of Free and Open Source Software’s (FOSS) group of DeitY, Govt. of India is having Urdu language interface. This localized Operating System and tools will benefit the usage of Free / Open Source Software in India. This new release of BOSS 5.0, namely “ANOKHA” comes with many new applications focused on enhanced security and user friendliness. The release also includes the software updates for various packages including Apache Server, BIND DNS Server, GNU Compiler collection, GIMP, MySQL, Open SSH, php, python, etc.

Google is Gradually Eating Away Microsoft’s Desktop Monopoly

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Windows at 3:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Chrome OS

Summary: How Chrome OS and other endeavors from Google weaken Microsoft’s common carrier and even contribute to Microsoft exodus

GOOGLE’S Chrome OS may not be so freedom-respecting, but it is a GNU/Linux distribution which like most newcomers is built on top of Free software (Chrome OS has a Free/libre equivalent that’s rarely advertised but does exist). Microsoft’s vicious public attacks on Chromebooks give away the story; Microsoft is suffering a great deal from Chrome OS as it is getting hard to impose Vista 8 on people. Based on some sales numbers, Microsoft is in serious trouble this Christmas. As IDG put it: “With another Black Friday come and gone, the signs for Microsoft remain uncertain. Based on retail promotions, most stores threw their support behind competing categories. Recent data indicates that holiday sales of Windows PCs are (not surprisingly) down so far. Sales of its Windows tablets and phones, while on the uptick, are nothing next to the rampant success of cheap TVs and Android tablets.”

Continuing a trend of exodus at Microsoft, one more “distinguished engineer” at Microsoft is leaving to join Google. Since he is a technical person (unike Elop and other managers) his impact on Google is not likely to be so negative and unlike Windows, which is a Trojan horse, this guy, Blaise Agüera y Arcas, is not likely to be a Trojan horse. He only joined Microsoft 7 years ago because Microsoft bought his employer at the time, a Seadragon startup (where he was a key architect).

The tradition of power shift from Microsoft to Google might not be too comforting, but judging by Google’s history, a world dominated by Free/libre software from Google is better off than a world enslaved by proprietary software from a monopolistic tyrant like Microsoft.

Microsoft Cannot Compete Fairly, May be Bricking Its Own Systems Again

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Hardware, Microsoft at 3:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hanging out too much with the Microsoft Cult clouds one’s judgment

Mary Jo Foley
Credit: Scott Hanselman

Summary: Microsoft is proving once again that no sane OEM should have pre-installed Windows; a little revisionism and spin from Mary Jo Foley (Microsoft’s Mouth) is rebutted

IT IS TOO easy to get distracted by the fiction of Windows ‘sales’, conveniently forgetting that Microsoft does not really sell anything, it just licences Windows for OEMs. This accounts for almost all installations of Windows, which is an NSA Trojan horse that nations must broadly reject.

Tim Worstall, the autor of many bad articles in Forbes, helps relay some Microsoft talking points again. Amplifying the words of the bribing CEO (Steve Ballmer bribes officials to take the NSA Trojan horses) and quoting Microsoft’s Mouth (Mary Jo Foley, CBS), Worstall speaks about the practice of tying the operating systems to hardware, sometimes with the aid of selective (manipulative) bribes to OEMs. Worstall makes it look banal and normal, perhaps failing to recall (or even know) about antitrust cases against Microsoft. Worstall’s article is titled “Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer “Nobody Ever Buys Windows. They Buy Windows PCs.”” (Mary Jo Foley got granted access to Ballmer after she had sucked up to Microsoft for years). Here is what Worstall says: “For it certainly used to be true that you would buy a Windows box. The vast majority of the world’s software was written to run on that operating system and that’s what you wanted to have access to. It wasn’t Windows per se that was being bought, it was a computer that ran most of the available software that was: and that just happened to be a computer with Windows on/in it.

“This is probably still true in much of the corporate world: companies will have built systems that rely upon this specific OS, or rather will have built their packages on top of it and therefore when a replacement cycle comes around it’s going to be Windows boxes again.”

It’s actually a lot worse and a glimpse at antitrust evidence explains why. Microsoft made it virtually impossible for OEMs to offer anything but Windows on hardware systems. It’s not a choice, it’s imposition by secret deals (which the court made less secret). Microsoft is still trying to bundle hardware and Windows, but this no longer works too well. Since the number of non-desktop systems sold with Windows is so small, defects have become common. Here is the latest: “SOFTWARE FIRM Microsoft has pulled back a software update for the Surface Pro 2 because it didn’t work and caused issues.

“Microsoft has removed the update, released just over a week ago, and apologised to users for its faults.

“”To ensure the best experience for our customers during the holiday season, we have taken steps to remove the update for Surface Pro 2 that was previously published through Windows Update on 10 December 2013,” says a post from Josh, a forum admin. “We are working to release an alternative update package after the holidays.””

The desktop monopoly too is about to end because Windows XP is reaching its end of life. Despite the claim that half of IT ‘pros’ plan to stay with this unpatched OS (very easily remotely accessible not just to the NSA), it is already clear that some nations explore moving to GNU/Linux. Apple is not even an option. Apple, which basically sells hardware it does not even make, fails to provide a decent warranty policy [1,2].

It is worth remembering that Microsoft used criminal activities to make almost every PC come with Windows; it’s not a choice, it’s corruption. Now that Microsoft actually has to compete for preinstalls it is failing very badly and resorting to FUD campaigns. Watch out for revisionism and spin; if it’s seeded by Microsoft’s Mouth, be extra cautious. Steve Ballmer and other Microsoft executives might soon be called into courts over bribery, so twisting the story is important to them and they use corruptible ‘journalists’ (CBS is good at that, as the NSA showed last Sunday).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Apple Forced to Change Warranty Policies for New Laws
  2. Apple changes wording of warranty policy in EU to clarify two year guarantee

Yes, Chrome OS is a GNU/Linux Distribution and Google is Still Worth Supporting

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, OIN, Patents at 2:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Distributions of GNU/Linux need not conform to people’s expectation of freedom and control, so even some restrictive systems like Chrome OS are in fact GNU/Linux

A recently-run poll in TuxMachines helped validate the claim that Google’s (GNU) Linux efforts do count towards the general cause of GNU/Linux, contributing in terms of volume probably more than lesser-known distributions like Doudou [1], SolydXK [2], Zorin OS [3], and Netrunner [4] (recent news intentionally chosen). As Ken Starks put it the other day [5]: “For those that want to argue that Chromebooks don’t run on real Linux, that’s like saying oxygen isn’t really a part of water.”

He has a point. Those who never wanted GNU/Linux to enjoy high morale and gain momentum will say that Chromebooks should be ignored and not be defended from Microsoft's FUD campaigns. A lot of large companies (OEMs [6-8]), not just Google [9], are really falling in love with Chrome OS and it’s good that they use Chrome OS (never mind lockdown and privacy implications) instead of Windows. If one looks at the definition of a GNU/Linux system, then Chrome OS may definitely qualify; it might not be so freedom-respecting, but being freedom-respecting is not a requirement of being a GNU/Linux system. SteamOS is basically a platform for installing and running proprietary software (games), but that does not make it anything other than a Debian derivative and a GNU/Linux distribution.

“SteamOS is basically a platform for installing and running proprietary software (games), but that does not make it anything other than a Debian derivative and a GNU/Linux distribution.”Google has just joined OIN, making its commitement to GNU/Linux even stronger. As SJVN put it: “The Open Invention Network (OIN), the organization that was formed to promote collaboration and patent non-aggression in support of Linux, announced on Wednesday that Google has joined IBM, NEC, Novell, Philips, Red Hat and Sony as a full member of OIN.”

SJVN’s colleague at CBS said without concrete evidence that “Many companies using Linux pay Microsoft patent royalties for its operating system intellectual property.” (note the propaganda term at the end, classic CBS)

Google, unlike Novell for example, does not help Microsoft manufacture the above FUD; quite the contrary. We should boycott openSUSE [10], which is basically part of SUSE (Microsoft partners), not losing sight of the real issue which is patents/extortion, not a degree of versatility (more of a technical matter).

Bashing Google rather than companies like Apple and Microsoft is a wasteful move; it’s almost like bashing Canonical/Ubuntu. Let’s be happy that Chromebooks are gaining traction; for particular users they are very appealing as they would have practiced their freedoms even if they had them.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Linux Top 3: Linux Foundation Grows, Fedora 20 Delayed and Doudou Grows
  2. SolydXK hands on: Two good Linux distributions with a solid base

    My hopes were high, and if you go back and read some of my posts during that time it shows in the way I wrote about it. Then there were rumours that there might be a KDE version of LMDE, and I thought that would be Nirvana for sure.

  3. Zorin OS 7 Released – A Ultimate Linux Desktop with Windows 7 Feel
  4. Netrunner 13.12 RC available for testing
  5. Linux — La Casa Nostra

    Check the latest sales numbers for the various Chromebooks and Android phones this holiday season. I live in a little podunk town of less than 15,000 people and the Walmart here can’t keep Chromebooks on the shelves. Those Windows 8 “slablets” gathering dust day after day? They’re not doing so well, but our Walmart is getting ready to accept their third order of Chromebooks since Black Friday. Our mailman’s wife took on some part time work over the holidays at Walmart and she works in electronics. She sees it every day.

    For those that want to argue that Chromebooks don’t run on real Linux, that’s like saying oxygen isn’t really a part of water. You ultimately end up sounding like someone with a mouth full of sour grapes. So when detractors jeer and ask, “So when is this year of Linux we’ve been hearing about?” just shrug your shoulders, smile and get out of the way. They don’t see the megalith bearing down upon them.

    [...]

    But with all of that being said, there are some things glaring back at us, things that need to be fixed, things that should have been fixed a long time ago. These problems or shortcomings in the Linux system aren’t really too hard to fix. The same tight-knit community that assumes someone else will fix it is the same tight-knit community that needs to pay attention to these problems.

  6. Chromebase: A Chrome OS All-in-One PC from LG due at CES 2014
  7. Gift Guide 2013: Top Chromebooks for the holidays
  8. Dell also joins the Chrome OS bandwagon launches Chromebook 11
  9. Google working on Chrome OS Recovery Tool App
  10. Review: openSUSE 13.1 GNOME

Most Famous Derivative of Debian Could Become SteamOS, Not Ubuntu

Posted in Debian, GNU/Linux at 2:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Emphasis on the fact that SteamOS is basically a derivative of Debian GNU/Linux

DEBIAN has inspired more derivatives than any other distribution. Among them there are Skolelinux, Knoppix (new interview [1]), and of course Ubuntu, which brings many new users to GNU/Linux [2] (even nations [3]) and has many derivatives of its own. Debian 7 has a new release whose version number is 7.3 [4]. However, what much of the corporate press fails to realise or emphasise (especially reviews [5] and performance tests [6]) is that SteamOS is Debian with a new gown. Screenshots [7] reveal a polished operating system and it is important to remember what it’s derived from. If Valve gets its way, then Debian will soon have millions of new users.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Debian Edu interview: Klaus Knopper

    It has been a while since I managed to publish the last interview, but the Debian Edu / Skolelinux community is still going strong, and yesterday we even had a new school administrator show up on #debian-edu to share his success story with installing Debian Edu at their school. This time I have been able to get some helpful comments from the creator of Knoppix, Klaus Knopper, who was involved in a Skolelinux project in Germany a few years ago.

  2. How And Why I Switched to Ubuntu

    You may not agree with everything that they do, but Canonical is the most interesting company in the tech industry today. They have a vision, a wild vision, of a single user interface backed by open source software running on all computing devices, both personal and professional. Cloud infrastructure, basic servers, workstations, laptops, tablets, phones, and televisions could, if Canonical plays its cards right, be powered by Ubuntu and the Unity interface. I find this fascinating, and bold. Ubuntu is not just another distribution, it is a vision of what computing could be.

  3. Ubuntu Might Replace Windows XP in South Korea

    South Korea is considering the replacement of the old and dying Windows XP with a free Linux alternative, namely Ubuntu.

  4. Updated Debian 7: 7.3 released

    The Debian project is pleased to announce the third update of its stable distribution Debian 7 (codename wheezy). This update mainly adds corrections for security problems to the stable release, along with a few adjustments for serious problems. Security advisories were already published separately and are referenced where available.

    Please note that this update does not constitute a new version of Debian 7 but only updates some of the packages included. There is no need to throw away old wheezy CDs or DVDs but only to update via an up-to-date Debian mirror after an installation, to cause any out of date packages to be updated.

  5. Hands-on preview: SteamOS

    Valve’s revolutionary take on living-room gaming has entered its public beta phase, but is SteamOS ready for primetime or should Linux-nerds only apply?

  6. SteamOS vs. Windows 8.1 NVIDIA Performance

    Overall, the SteamOS vs. Windows 8.1 results aren’t too far removed from other Linux vs. Windows NVIDIA GeForce graphics card benchmarking results delivered in the past on Phoronix. Generally the NVIDIA Linux graphics driver can deliver comparable performance to that of the Windows GeForce driver due to the largely shared code-base between platforms, which again is the case here with SteamOS just being a derivative of Debian Linux.

  7. SteamOS GNOME Screenshot Tour

    At our users’ request, we’ve decided to create a quick screenshot tour of the brand new SteamOS Linux operating system from Valve, showcasing the GNOME 3 desktop environment used in the regular desktop mode.

    SteamOS is a gaming Linux distribution based on the powerful and popular Debian GNU/Linux operating system, using Linux kernel 3.10 and version 3.4 of the controversial GNOME desktop environment, with the GNOME Shell interface.

Fedora 20 is Out, Fedora 21 Already in the Planning

Posted in GNU/Linux, Red Hat at 2:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Wallpaper

Summary: The community version of Red Hat is out once again, a week ahead of Christmas and approximately 10 years after it all began

TWO days ago Fedora 20 was released [1,2,3], delivering better hardware support [4,5] after a lot of testing [6] (incurring delays but matching deadlines). Putting aside features [7,8] and performance [9], the important thing about Fedora is innovation and its insistence — although not absolute — on Free/libre components. The next release of Fedora [10] will improve management of components (not entirely unpredictable), but again, this is a bit of "lipstick on a pig" as some people put it. Codenames will, as always, matter next time.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Announcing the release of Fedora 20
  2. Fedora 20 released
  3. Fedora 20 Released With New, Newer, and Newest

    The biggest addition is Apache Hadoop, the distributed computing platform. Hadoop processes large datasets. It is popular in supercomputing for tasks like large distributed science projects, financial services, and it’s even supported on Cray supercomputers. Adding Hadoop to Fedora was a big task that involved satisfying a number of difficult dependencies, so now Fedora users can install it the easy way with Yum. Even if you don’t have your own computing cluster you can still get acquainted with Hadoop on a single PC or laptop.

  4. Fedora upgrades ARM support, now treats it as x86’s equal
  5. Hold onto your (red) hat: Fedora 20 is out

    Latest version of Red Hat’s edition of Linux has ARM support, JBoss and Ruby on Rails updates, and much more

  6. Fedora 20 is Go for release
  7. Focus on Fedora 20 Features: Hadoop in Heisenbug

    The Fedora 20 release is tantalizingly close, but even without the final gold seal of approval we have a clear picture of the features that users will be enjoying very soon. One of the additions to Fedora 20 is the inclusion of Apache Hadoop packages, which will let users easily get up and running with Hadoop right out of the box. Fedora contributor Matthew Farrellee talked to us about the packaging effort, what this means for Fedora 20, and what’s coming in Fedora 21 and beyond.

  8. Fedora Decides On Headless Java, Third-Party Repos
  9. Fedora Memory Comparison
  10. Fedora 21 Likely Switching To Hawkey Package Management

Links 19/12/2013: Recent Screenshots Galleries

Posted in News Roundup at 1:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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