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01.10.14

Links 10/1/2014: Games

Posted in News Roundup at 10:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Links 10/1/2014: Instructionals

Posted in News Roundup at 10:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Many New Gaming Consoles Introduced, Running GNU/Linux as Standard

Posted in GNU/Linux at 9:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Steam Machines are transforming the way GNU/Linux is viewed among game developers

TECHRIGHTS has written several articles to highlight the big impact that Valve has had on GNU/Linux as a gaming platform. Now we see another major milestone. A lot of hardware companies, from chipsets [1-2] to integration, make a lot of so-called Steam Machines these days [3-8], which can be seen in this new gallery [9] and specifications overview [10]. Some high-end ones dual-boot with Windows [11] (SteamOS is based on Debian, not Ubuntu, due to legal reasons [12]).

Among the major competitors there’s Sony and Microsoft. Xbox One is faulty [13] and it’s losing to Sony [14] (which uses BSD); for general-purpose boxes that run GNU/Linux one can go for Steam Machines, which prove that 2014 will undoubtedly be an exciting year for GNU/Linux [15].

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Valve Ships An AMD Preview Driver For SteamOS
  2. SteamOS Update Now Officially Supports Intel
  3. 14 Steam Machines propel Linux gaming to the top
  4. Valve Unveils Steam Machine Linux Gaming Console at CES
  5. CES 2014: Valve reveals 12 hardware partners, cheap Steam Machine unveiled
  6. Valve Already Has A Dozen Steam Machine Partners

    Valve has announced their first 12 partners that intend to bring Steam Machines to the marketplace this year.

  7. Valve announces over more than a dozen Linux-powered Steam gaming boxes
  8. Here are Valve’s 14 Steam Machines partners (so far)
  9. Meet the Steamboxes (Gallery)

    More than a dozen vendors have announced that they’ve joined forces with Valve to produce Linux SteamOS-powered PCs and gaming consoles. Here their first wave of devices.

  10. Spec Sheet: the highs and lows of the first 13 Steam Machines

    Valve’s Steam Machines are reinventing the game console by transforming daunting PCs into friendly boxes for the living room. But rather than make the machines all by itself, Valve has turned to hardware partners to create a whole lineup of them, from basic consoles priced like an Xbox all the way up to towers that just barely veil their gaming PC roots.

  11. Digital Storm details its first Steam Machine: a hybrid Windows and SteamOS combo for $1,899

    Digital Storm was one of the first companies to reveal its Steam Machine — its own take on Valve’s formula for the perfect living room gaming PC. Today, the company’s getting the news out ahead of Valve’s announcement yet again, formally announcing that the new Digital Storm Bolt II will go on sale later this month for $1,899.

  12. SteamOS Didn’t Use Ubuntu Over Legal Issues

    Last month when SteamOS was publicly made available in beta form there were many surprised that Valve based their Linux distribution off Debian rather than Ubuntu, which they had been heavily promoting up to this point for Linux gaming. There was some speculation why Valve went with Debian, but Gabe Newell has now confirmed the reasoning for not basing their operating system off Ubuntu.

  13. Why You’re Better Off Exchanging a Faulty Xbox One Console In-Store

    An example of a buzz kill is waking up on Christmas morning to find an Xbox One sitting under the tree, only to later discover that it doesn’t work because of a disc drive malfunction. Gamers first started complaining about the issue in November, with several YouTube videos showing the disc drive making a grinding noise when popping in a game or movie. Now that more consoles have been opened up, the issue is again making headlines, and Microsoft’s response is the same.

  14. Why Sony’s PS4 Is Crushing Microsoft’s Xbox One In Sales So Far

    As we now know, Sony sold a massive 4.2M PS4s worldwide in 2013, which dwarfs Microsoft’s already impressive 3M number by quite a substantial sum. It’s particularly surprising given the fact that the console sales have been relatively close to date. Both systems sold 1M units within 24 hours of release. Microsoft hit 2M consoles sold about a week or so after Sony said they’d hit 2.1M. They were behind, but within striking distance.

  15. Linux Wins the Desktop in 2014 and 3 More Bold Predictions

    Linux won, the penguin has achieved world domination, and the usual commentarians completely missed it even after years of predicting it. Because it’s not something that happened in a single flashy event, but rather has been the product of years of hard work and steady improvement. 2014 is the year that Linux starts to win the desktop, which is the final Linux frontier. And it is the year of exponential growth in every arena.

Where Chromebooks/Chrome OS Have Not Yet Achieved the Job, Android Will Get the Job Done

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Hardware at 9:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Major desktop chipmakers (Intel and AMD) as well as desktop OEMs (HP and Acer) turn to Android for desktops

THE PREVIOUS post explained how Chromebooks/Chrome OS make the long-dreamed-of goal of GNU/Linux on many desktops a reality. But several years ago Google explained how Chrome OS and Android are connected. In short, the main distinguisher is the screen or input methods (size, interface, etc.); Android is now overseen by the Chrome OS manager. The assumption at the time was that Android should target mobile/small devices, whereas the other should target systems like notebooks/laptops. Convergence of those two was not ruled out.

Well, it sure seems like Android and its apps pool are growing so mature and vast that there is now temptation to put Android on the desktop. It’s not a dumb idea anymore because the interfaces are rich (multiple virtual desktops, heavy apps with many hooks for hardware [1,2], extensive hardware support for peripherals) and security is earning reputation [3]. It’s not just about cost [4]. Android rose to dominance [5] owing to technical advantages which in due course made it preferable for heavier hardware like Intel motherboards [6] and cars [7].

HP [8], AMD [9], Intel [10] and Acer [11] now champion a fascinating new trend by demonstrating a strategy for Android on the desktop. Exciting times!

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Five ways to prolong your Android device’s battery life
  2. Free CPU Spy app for Android
  3. Several European manufacturers spawn NSA-proof Android “cryptophones”
  4. Why Google gives Android away

    Google now has access to a tremendous cache of data and it can use that data in any number of ways to make money as part of its advertising model or separate from it.

    The free OS opened up this tremendous opportunity for Google, one they might not have even realized at the time, thinking only they needed to get into mobile any way they can.

    And today, with all that data, they have a tremendous market advantage if they can figure out how to monetize it. All because they gave away their phone OS for nothing.

  5. Android’s Rise To Platform Dominance In One Graph

    With Android landing on all-in-one computers and Windows extending its reach deeper into the mobile world, the platform world is tightening into three key teams: iOS and OS X, Windows, and Android.

    Chrome OS, BlackBerry, and the other minor players have derivative unit volume, and can therefore be discounted in our larger image of the market.

    To compare those three groups yields an irksome, yet interesting, picture. Gartner recently released a set of statistics and prognostications along those operating system niches, stacking the groups against one another. The fine folks over at Redmond Magazine did us the favor of graphing the results.

  6. Kids tablet runs Android 4.4 on 64-bit Intel Atom

    The DreamTab is an edutainment collaboration between Fuhu, developers of the popular Nabi line of Android kids tablets, and both Intel and DreamWorks Animation. Designed for ages 5-7, the tablets will be available in 8- and 12-inch versions with full HD IPS resolution, and will ship with 16GB or 32GB of flash storage.

  7. Google wants an Android in every Audi and Honda
  8. HP launches Android powered All-in-One desktop for business users

    Targeting the business community HP has unveiled the Slate 21 Pro AiO (All-in-One) desktop running on Android 4.3 at CES 2014. The desktop is aimed to find use in office, education and kiosk environments. Given that most businesses run Windows applications, the system will be capable of running these too.

  9. Windows and Android on one PC? Here’s how AMD and Intel plan to do it

    Intel didn’t make a big deal of it at its CES press conference, but the chip giant announced that, with the help its OEM partners, the company will soon release PCs that run both Android and Windows 8.1 at the same time. They weren’t the only ones with dual operating systems. AMD announced that with its partner BlueStacks, it will bring the complete Android experience to Windows- based tablets, 2-in-1s, notebooks and desktops.

  10. Intel trumpets Android+Windows as ‘more choice’
  11. Acer launches 27-inch all-in-one Android PC

    The $1,099 monitor packs in a quad-core processor and a 2,560×1,440 touch screen.

Chromebooks May Have Made 2013 the Year of GNU/Linux on the Desktop

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google at 8:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Chrome OS is starting to occupy a significant segment of the market long sought by GNU/Linux proponents

GOOGLE’S distribution of GNU/Linux rose to power in 2013. It is not so freedom-respecting, but it is a distro without a doubt. Christmas was a sign of strength for Chrome OS [1], which is becoming a major threat to both Apple and Microsoft [2] (some people buy Chromebooks just to install their favourite GNU/Linux distribution on them [3]). As quite a few schools turn to Chrome OS [4,5] it seems like major OEMs follow the trend and make Chromebooks [6-13] (CES 2014 gave many examples). It hurts Apple, not just Microsoft [14], because “Chromebook is giving Macbook a run for its money” [15] (just as Android did to iPhone and iPad). Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols calls Chromebook “The Windows killer” [16], citing numbers from Christmas [17], and reviews of GNU/Linux in 2013 focus a great deal on Chromebooks [18-20]. Looking ahead at this year (2014), CNET says that “[a]s Chromebooks catch on, 2014 promises more models” [21] and Carla, formerly the editor of Linux Today, says “Linux Wins the Desktop in 2014″ [22].

Isn’t it funny that given all that we still have trashy tabloids like ZDNet calling GNU/Linux a failure on the desktop, trying to resurrect this myth [23]? (rebuttal in [24])

One source says that Chrome OS “accounted for 21% of all laptop sales last year.” [25] Another says “Chromebooks surge at business in 2013″ [26], so who is to say GNU/Linux failed on the desktop? People who say this are dishonest. They usually rely on the bogus claim that Chrome OS is not GNU/Linux when it fact it is. This distribution may not please everyone (especially the freedom-conscious), but that doesn’t make the truth of the matter any less true. Chrome OS/Chromebooks increasingly get recommended as an alternative to Windows XP [27], which is not surprising. Later this year many Windows XP users (who are left with no security patches) are likely to turn to GNU/Linux, not later versions of Windows (Vista or later, with all the nasty anti-features of Vista inherited). Using Microsoft-friendly data sources, some Microsoft-friendly news sources try to distract from this trend [28], perhaps realising the businesses, schools etc. are going to turn to GNU/Linux, eschewing proprietary software and selecting FOSS rather than the train wreck which is Vista 8.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Christmas Comes Early For Linux Operating Systems

    GNU/Linux as itself and as Chrome OS is growing and Android/Linux is taking off like a rocket. It looks as if many could not wait for Christmas to buy something shiny and new.

  2. Are Chromebooks hurting Apple as well as Microsoft?
  3. Putting Chromebook Sales in Proper Perspective

    Here on OStatic, some readers have written in saying that they are buying Chromebooks simply to put their favorite Linux distros on the low cost devices. In other cases, there are lots of young people being introduced to Chromebooks and getting a taste of cloud-centric computing, storage and applications. Chromebooks are here to stay, but they are not crushing the overall portable computer market.

  4. Schools Continue to Drive Chromebook Sales
  5. Google, Synnex Partnership: More Chromebooks In Schools

    Synnex is set to empower Google Chromebook resellers supporting North America K-12 schools and commercial customers. The strategic Google-Synnex relationship will help resellers to deploy and centrally manage fleets of Chromebooks within schools and vertical market settings. The move comes only a few weeks after the search giant further enhanced its Google Apps partner program for resellers.

  6. Android and Chrome OS go AiO!

    HP and Lenovo announced new Android all-in-one (AiO) PCs — the Slate21 Pro and N308 — while LG unveiled the Chromebase, the first AiO to run Chrome OS.

  7. Lenovo to launch multiple Chromebooks this summer

    Lenovo is reportedly planning to release a set of new Chromebooks this year. Jay Parker, president for Lenovo’s North American operations, told CNET at CES that “multiple Chromebook models” would see release by summer 2014, at various price points and configurations.

  8. CES 2014: Toshiba introduces first Chromebook, 13.3 inch display

    Most of the new Chromebooks have the same display resolution, capabilities, and price. The Toshiba Chromebook’s 13.3 inch display fits in between the 11 inch HP, Acer, and Samsung and 14 inch HP models. Unfortunately, the display resolution remains the same at 1366 x 768, which is the one thing that really bothers me about this generation device.

  9. Samsung to unveil new Exynos lineup at CES
  10. Powerful Samsung Chromebooks with Octa-core Exynos CPU, 2560×1600 screen?
  11. CES 2014 – What to expect from Android and Chrome OS

    The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) comes but once a year and can be regarded as Christmas for nerds the world over. This year, the show runs from January 7th to the 10th and we thought it best to give a preview of what to expect from the usual crowd pleasers. Throughout the years, CES has been a place where the most crazy of ideas and the wildest of dreams came to fruition. Before we move on to our predictions however, let us spend a moment reflecting on what transpired at 2013′s CES.

  12. Acer reveals white C720P Chromebook

    Buoyed by itsrecent success in the notebook sector, Acer has released another version of its best selling C720 series. The C720P-2600 bears similar specifications to the original C720P, but this time, she’s an all white beauty. The new colour scheme coupled with the sleek design of its older brothers will sure make it a hit in the months to come.

  13. Acer Delivers New Chromebook and an Android-based All-in-One

    Acer, which is rapidly gaining popularity among hardware manufacturers, is placing some heavy bets on open source operating systems. The company now has a whopping nine computers based on Google’s Chrome OS, including an update to its popular C7 Chromebook. Acer’s latest Chromebook, the C720P-2600 (shown), has an 11.6-inch touchscreen and features Intel’s dual-core Celeron 2955U chip based on the cutting-edge Haswell architecture. At $299.99, the system will be available in January, and will be shown at the Consumer Electronics Show.

  14. As Chromebook sales soar, the debate roars about who it hurt

    It seems Chromebooks were selling like hot cakes in 2013. The cheap, cloud-driven computers were flying off the shelves, but who those sales hurt is subject to debate.

  15. Chromebook is giving Macbook a run for its money
  16. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols: The Windows killer: Chromebook

    I’ve been a believer in Chromebooks for a long time. Now, everyone else is getting the religion.

    NPD, a retail market analysis company, reports that sales of Chromebooks exploded from zilch in 2012 to more than 20% of the U.S. PC market in 2013. This helped push overall notebook PC growth up by 28.9%.

  17. NPD – Chromebooks accounted for over 20% of US laptop sales in 2013
  18. Year in review – The rise of chromebooks and the chromecast
  19. Year in review – top selling Chromebooks
  20. Linux 2013: Year in Review

    2013 was a most interesting year in Linux all around. Most folks will cite the advancements in the gaming arena and in embedded and mobile devices. But 2013 was a great year in Linux distributions. The desktops and associated wars calmed down, some tricky technology got wrestled into submission, and stability seemed to be everyone’s watchword. Lots of folks are reminiscing about the year, so let’s take a look.

  21. As Chromebooks catch on, 2014 promises more models
  22. Linux Wins the Desktop in 2014 and 3 More Bold Predictions
  23. Why didn’t Linux win on the desktop?

    Desktop hosted applications are no longer the only choice. Customers increasingly were happy with the applications and network access available from handheld devices and didn’t feel the need to also use a Windows-powered device. After all, Web-based tools, such as Web applications, email, collaborative software, and search, can be easily done from a lower cost device. An expensive laptop or desktop may not be needed at all.

    Is this how Linux and Unix will win over the mighty Windows? If the current trends are considered, the answer appears to be yes.

  24. Has Linux lost the desktop forever?

    I’ve run into these Negative Ned stories about Linux failing on the desktop before, and they always seem fixated on the market share of Windows. I reject that kind of thinking as it was never necessary for Linux to “beat Windows” on the desktop to be successful.

  25. Cloud Based LibreOffice, Facebook Reads PMs & More…

    On Friday, CNET’s Brooke Crothers reported that Chromebooks, those nifty laptops running Google’s Chrome OS that let the cloud do the heavy lifting, accounted for 21% of all laptop sales last year. As impressive as that may be, the numbers get even better when Android tablets are added to the mix. According to market research company NPD Group, January to November saw 1.76 million Chromebooks and Android tablets sold, up from only 400,000 during all of 2012.

  26. Chromebooks surge at business in 2013, researcher says

    If that isn’t proof enough of Chromebooks’ rise in popularity, Amazon said Thursday that among laptops, the Samsung Chromebook, Asus Transformer Book, and Acer Chromebook were “holiday best sellers.”

  27. Pat Pilcher: Windows XP support ending, should we be worried?

    Linux’s open source price tag may be attractive, and there are other benefits besides cost. For a start, Linux is less of a resource hog than other platforms, and it works well on older hardware, especially compared to Windows.

    Linux is also highly customizable, and users can choose from a multitude of desktop environments, such as KDE and GNOME. Going down the Linux route is however likely to involve a steep learning curve for non-techie users, who’ll also have to sort out apps and drivers for legacy peripherals (or replace them with Linux-compatible equivalents).

    Then there’s support. It may be a non-issue if you manage to find replacement apps and drivers for peripherals. This said, almost that everything you’re ever likely to need to know about whatever flavour of Linux you decide on can be found online, but once again isn’t a terribly user friendly experience for Linux novices.

    Another alternative is Chrome OS. Developed by Google, Chrome OS is web-centric operating system, which means that the browser becomes the operating system. Because of this there’s far fewer security issues than with Windows as Chrome OS doesn’t run locally installed software so there’s little to exploit.

  28. Windows 8′s market share finally reaches 10%, but is overshadowed by Linux’s big gain and XP’s decline

Corporate Press is Burying LibreOffice and OpenOffice.org, States Exclude Them

Posted in IBM, Office Suites, OpenDocument, OpenOffice at 7:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

LibreOffice

Summary: Free/libre office suites LibreOffice and OpenOffice.org are mostly ignored by the corporations-funded media, despite having new major developments such as Web-based versions

OBJECTIVE reporting is the key to fairness and justice. Without it, we are left with incitations, half-truths (censorship by omission), and agenda/indocrination disguised as ‘information’. Interestingly enough, IDG (paid by Microsoft) decided to pretty much ‘vanish’ Free software. LibreOffice or OpenOffice.org get no mention in an article about Microsoft Office alternatives [1]. Is the author dumb, misinformed (e.g. never heard of Free software), or is he driving some kind of Fog Computing agenda? Whatever is the case, we have to counter such deficient ‘reporting’. The consequences of such poorly-executed ‘journalism’ include states where Microsoft is found guilty of evading tax simply excluding non-Microsoft users from doing their taxes, as this new article reveals. Titled “Microsoft and your tax returns”, this article says that “The Excel “macro” feature used in tax forms released by the Income Tax department means that free software — such as OpenOffice, LibreOffice, etc. that otherwise support Microsoft Excel files, not to mention cheaper alternatives from Microsoft itself, like MS Office Starter Edition — cannot be used on those forms.

“In short, any tax payer trying to file income tax online in India has a fairly expensive dependency on Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Windows.”

in Australia and elsewhere Windows may sometimes be required for tax purposes, but not Microsoft Office, which is a lot more expensive. So this is quite a scandal. Muktware, a news site run by quite a few writers from India, shows that there are many Free/libre alternatives to Microsoft Office [2].

There is a very disturbing trend where those who abandon Microsoft Office (which is a good thing in itself) move to other proprietary software with surveillance, for instance the City of Boston, which moves 76,000 city employees to Google Apps [3]. Why not choose or consider Free software, as the City of Largo apparently does [4]? Maybe bad reporting leads people to the wrong alternatives, or in other words to traps. It was the same with IBM’s proprietary traps (Lotus) half a decade or so ago.

Despite getting a cold shoulder from Novell/SUSE, LibreOffice is doing all right with a new board [5,6] and online version (comparable to the above) [7,8]. Apache OpenOffice is still very much alive, as IBM (main steward) claims [9] and there are new releases of LibreOffice coming [10]. Why is the corporate press mostly ignoring that? This may be a rhetorical question.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Moving to Office 365? Dig deep into your options first
  2. Best word processors for GNU/Linux

    Word processing is an important part of work – and not just office work; everyone needs word processors at some point. This is the first article in the series ‘Best Open Source Apps’ and here I will talk about the most popular open source word processors for GNU/Linux: AbiWord, Calligra Words and LibreOffice Writer. I didn’t take OpenOffice Writer because it is not all that different from LibreOffice Writer.

  3. Boston moves 76K city employees to Google Apps

    Every Boston city employee from police officers to public school teachers now have a Google Apps account.

  4. Dave At City of Largo Reports Looking At NX and LibreOffice 4.1

    While the trolls here constantly tell us how essential that other OS is people in the real world keep rolling along comfortably with GNU/Linux, LibreOffice and making unfettered (by M$’s EULA) use of the hardware they own.

  5. A New Board for a New Year
  6. The Document Foundation Elects New Directors
  7. Rollapp’s Online LibreOffice Nearly Ready for Prime Time – But Not Yet
  8. Now you can run LibreOffice in a browser
  9. Latest Stable LibreOffice 4.1.4 Released
  10. Apache OpenOffice 2013 Mailing List Review

    I did a quick study of the 2013 mailing list traffic for the Apache OpenOffice project. I looked at all project mailing lists, including native language lists. I omitted the purely transactional mailing lists, the ones that merely echo code check-ins and bug reports. Altogether 14 mailing lists were included in this study.

‘Former’ Microsoft Bloggers Like to Bash Google — But Never Microsoft — Over Privacy

Posted in FUD, Microsoft at 6:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Example of media moles and how they warp the discussion about technology companies

SEVERAL years ago we criticised Sarah Perez for spreading FUD about Microsoft’s competitors, such as Firefox. It took a little effort to see that the publication she wrote for was pro-Microsoft by design. But there is a simple explanation for it. Sarah Perez continues to smear Microsoft’s competitors [1] and as she used to work for Microsoft (blogging for the company while on the payroll, as her LinkedIn account reveals) it all makes a lot of sense. The sad thing is, she now writes for AOL (TechCrunch), so unless we shine light on this bias, it is likely to continue silently, unchallenged.

The ironic thing is, Sarah Perez once worked for the company that provides video/audio snoops without warrants, doing so liberally to the point where the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) takes revenge [2-6] and seemingly accuses Microsoft of aiding NSA surveillance. To quote one article, “Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) has struck at Microsoft’s voice, video and chat network Skype and posted to its Twitter feed and blog.”

Keep a close eye on Sarah Perez, just as we should keep an eye on other Microsoft moles (some current Microsoft staff also works for tech tabloid ZDNet at the moment). If they know they are being watched it limits their ability to smear the competition (without adding disclosures or making the editors unhappy for reducing the platform’s credibility). ZDNet (CBS) will continue to spread GNU/Linux FUD (latest example in [7,8]) because it has no credibility to maintain; it’s the Pravda is the tech world. Remember when TechCrunch was actually a seemingly reliable site (before AOL took over)? Well, to be fair, TechCrunch too accepted Microsoft bribes in order to embed Microsoft messages into the content of articles (this scandal goes years back), so Microsoft’s corruption of bloggers is a tradition and an official strategy, not a side effect.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. New Gmail Feature Allows Anyone On Google+ To Email You & Vice Versa, But Opt Out Is Provided
  2. Skype’s Twitter account has been hacked and tarnished
  3. SEA attacks Skype in NSA spying protest
  4. Syrian Electronic Army Goes After Skype
  5. Skype Hacked By SEA: Syrian Electronic Army Protests Microsoft Involvement In NSA Spying Programs
  6. Syrian Electronic Army hacks Skype’s accounts to protest NSA snooping
  7. Will Valve’s Steam Machines fail?
  8. 5 reasons why Steam Machines might fail

Snowden’s Impact Continues to Drive Change in 2014

Posted in Action at 6:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Edward Snowden

Summary: The past week’s news about the NSA, its partners, and corporate spying

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