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11.07.13

UNIX and GNU/Linux: The More, The Merrier

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, KDE at 6:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Why in the world of GNU/Linux and UNIX/BSD, having more diversity is a good thing, not a thing to be feared and rejected

IT HAS long been recognised that cooperation combined with some competition leads to faster development and elimination of weaker concepts/implementations. We see a lot of this in the aviation and automobile industries. Many planes and cars use components from the same suppliers, but they still integrate uniquely in order to compete. Their improvements and integration work set them apart. The Linux Foundation, a unifying force in the world of Linux (kernel) development, says that “Competition Among Open Source Projects Delivers Better Technology Faster” [1]. Remember there even within Linux (and UNIX) there is a lot of competition, e.g. between file systems. There are pros and cons to each candidate and weaker ones cease to be developed.

What people call “Linux” is much more than a kernel; in a practical sense they often refer to Linux/X/GNU/KDE/Mozilla or something along those lines. The abbreviation “Linux” for what would better be described as the Free/libre operating system (not necessarily just GPL-licensed and not necessarily desktops) is so deeply rooted in society that it would be virtually impossible to change now, but let’s look at the desktop layer for a moment, taking into account recent news.

“It is disheartening to see a lot of anger directed at those who conceptualise and then implement their own alternatives which they deem technically better.”GVFS, which causes me much trouble at work, has a new release available for testing [2] and the same goes for GNOME Notes [3]. Cinnamon [4] and Wayland [5] help show that Shell and X are no longer the only game in GNOME town, demonstrating diversity in other layers of the stack too (GNOME does not necessarily run on GNU/Linux, either). GNOME is probably the most widely used Free/livre desktop environment, but over time it becomes easy to see that it branches off in many directions.

When it comes to KDE, which has a lot of power [6] and is actively developed by a very large group [7,8], the same is true. KDE can run on almost any operating system, with varying degrees of compatibility and integration. It’s not just for desktops, either. That’s why KDE was pretty much renamed/rebranded a “Software Compilation” a few years ago. My wife uses KDE because KWin makes it easier to use and it is more visually pleasing. But it’s not for everyone.

Let’s not forget others players like Xfce [9] (usually considered third in popularity) and of course the plethora of tools which make the command line so powerful [10,11,12,13]. On servers where performance comes first, command-line tools are a must.

When the “Free Desktop” expands to other form factors, supports more desktop/interface environments, initialisation systems, file systems, graphical servers etc. we should expect it to evolve faster, not more slowly. The development community grows when diversity increases. It is disheartening to see a lot of anger directed at those who conceptualise and then implement their own alternatives which they deem technically better. It’s not the spirit of GNU to just slag off those who come up with new solutions, seeking to replace — based on merit — what’s currently popular among users. It is okay to criticise those who try to leverage software patents to ban or tax their competitors (like Novell did with Microsoft), but to berate companies for doing GNU/Linux their own way (under copyleft) is worse than a waste of time; it’s very counter-productive and it distracts from the real threats.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Competition Among Open Source Projects Delivers Better Technology Faster

    Today we’re pleased to announce that The Linux Foundation will host the Open Virtualization Alliance (OVA), the organization dedicated to education and advocacy for KVM. KVM is growing in popularity among businesses and open source communities like OpenStack with a 50 percent increase in deployments this year, according to IDC. We will work with OVA to extend education and advocacy that supports and helps advance the important work of this developer community.

  2. GVFS 1.19.1 Is Now Available for Testing

    The first development version towards the GVFS 1.20 application for the GNOME 3.12 desktop environment was announced a few days ago, introducing various fixes and improvements.

  3. The First Development Release of GNOME Notes 3.12 Arrives

    The first development release towards GNOME Notes 3.12, a nice and simple application designed to create, view, and edit notes on the GNOME 3.12 desktop environment, has been announced on October 27, 2013.

  4. Cinnamon Desktop: Breaks with GNOME, finds beefed-up Nemo

    The Cinnamon Desktop project recently released version 2, a major overhaul of the desktop environment that’s best known as the default option for Linux Mint’s flagship release.

  5. Running The Latest GNOME Wayland Shell On Fedora 20

    With the Fedora 20 beta coming up I decided to see where the latest Fedora 20 packages are now at for their support of Wayland and the GNOME Shell Wayland session. In particular, looking at whether the session is still buggy and how the XWayland performance is for Linux gaming.

  6. How-to configure keyboard layouts in KDE 4 (video)
  7. KDE Commit-Digest for 13th October 2013
  8. KDE Commit-Digest for 20th October 2013
  9. I installed the Whisker Menu for Xfce

    I just read about the Whisker Menu for Xfce at OMG! Ubuntu and installed it on my system from the Fedora repositories.

    While I’m happy with my panel on the left and the traditional Xfce Application Finder, I thought the Whisker Menu would be worth a try.

  10. Special laptop keys with Linux

    Laptops often have special keystroke combinations for certain functions or commands

  11. Bloated Audio Players? No Thanks!

    The term lightweight is a label attached to computer software which is relatively simpler or faster than its counterparts. Feature bloat is endemic in software especially commercial software. Often, the easiest way to persuade users to upgrade to the latest version is to add new spangly features. This happens with open source software (to a lesser degree), and open source music software is not immune to feature bloat. Music players can often seem to be designed for everything except actually listening to music with tons of bloat that you do not actually need.

  12. In Depth Look at Linux’s Archiving and Compression Commands
  13. Linux rsync command with practical examples

10.28.13

GNOME Desktop 3.10 Continues to Bring Great GTK-based Applications to All GNU/Linux Users

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, KDE at 9:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GTK logo

Summary: A quick note addressing complaints regarding “fragmentation” and “benevolent dictators”

THE schism — perhaps even the rivalry — between KDE and GNOME (or Qt and GTK) often overlooks the fact that both sides benefit from the other. The more they both advance, the more applications GNU/Linux have and the more compelling platform GNU/Linux becomes for more people. With bridges between these two toolkits and desktop environments it is evident that those who use GNOME and KDE as an example of maligned “fragmentation” simply misunderstand or berate GNU/Linux using misconceptions. For choice and freedom to be more than just marketing terms we do need to have competing (and quasi-collaborating) toolkits and desktops. What’s important is standards and copyleft.

“If many users are unhappy with a direction that some project takes, then it is probably that a large fork/branch will develop.”Many nice applications come with the latest GNOME (either core applications [1,2] or non-core ones [3]). Developers are free to do with these applications as they please [4,5], even port them to Qt if they like it better, so complaints like [6] sort of miss the point. Developers are not in the business of pleasing every user, but they should at least allow any single individual to take the project in any desired direction. If many users are unhappy with a direction that some project takes, then it is probably that a large fork/branch will develop.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. GNOME Settings Daemon 3.10.1 Fixes Memory Leaks

    The GNOME developers announced a few days ago that the first maintenance release of the stable GNOME Settings Daemon 3.10 package, a daemon run by all GNOME sessions to provide live access to configuration settings and the changes done to them, is available for download.

  2. GNOME Control Center 3.10.1 Released with Multiple Improvements

    GNOME Control Center, GNOME’s main interface for configuration of various aspects of your desktop, is now at version 3.10.1.

  3. GNOME CAKE 3.10 – Fully Baked, No Bugs
  4. Learn how to compile from source Linux software with AbiWord 3
  5. Writing a GNOME thumbnailer

    How does GNOME generate thumbnails for files? It uses a collection of programs called thumbnailers, each one generating thumbnails for a specific set of content-types of files. For example, totem-video-thumbnailer generates thumbnails for video files using GStreamer; evince-thumbnailer generates thumbnails for PDFs and other document files.

  6. The Linuxsphere – Benevolent Dictators Need Not Apply

    The issue was improving Nautilus by bringing back the ability of adding color and texture to the background. For as long as I can remember, Gnome/Nautilus users have been able to set a background in this file manager.

10.24.13

GNU/Linux Desktops Continue to Multiply to Appease Users

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, KDE at 5:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Display variety in GNU/Linux

Summary: GNOME is ditched by Cinnamon, which is yet another example of users and developers taking control in the interest of users

DEALING with varying user requirements is hard. There is no one-size-fits-all paradigm when it comes to desktop environments. Just as we require many types of vehicles (trucks, vans, motorcycles, etc.) we need to facilitate a variety of needs, which vary from person to person. Microsoft and Apple ignore this and they try to shoehorn people into their own restrictive environments. GNU/Linux is different. Development of KDE, the world’s most advanced desktop, carries on [1,2] and documentation improves as well [3]. The KDE Community Forums turns 5 [4] and new users come to KDE [5], which is — although it is debatable — better than GNOME when it comes to applications but not as a desktop for new users [6] (KDE is very advanced, too much for some). Cinnamon 2.0, in the mean time, is forking GNOME [7] and even ditching it [8]. It is now available in Ubuntu 13.10 [9], which is Mirless [10]. Many distributions still use classic GNOME [11] or modified GNOME [12], but what’s clear overall is that over time we are left with more choices of desktop environments. KDE itself has been forked to satisfy those who wish to keep the KDE3 experience. This is a strength, not a weakness.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. KDE Commit-Digest for 6th October 2013
  2. KDE Commit-Digest for 29th September 2013
  3. Plasma Active Handbook released

    The Projectsite of the handbook is placed under: http://pactivehandbook.sf.net. There you can download a PDF in the english or german language. Also a XHTML version of the book is available in both languages there.

  4. 5 Years of KDE Community Forums
  5. Installed KDE via Kubuntu v13.04 – My First Thoughts

    I moved to Kubuntu early Sunday morning, and it was not without a few minor perils. I wanted a clean install, thus formatting /home was a must. I was coming from Linux Mint 14 XFCE to Kubuntu 13.04 which of course uses KDE as the default desktop manager. I really didn’t want any cross contamination in /home nor did I want to dual-boot. It was all in or nothing. So I chose the all in and I am glad I did.

  6. KDE vs GNOME: Settings, Apps, Widgets

    Video: While one desktop appears clearly superior to the other, its rival offers some better apps for key uses.

  7. Cinnamon 2.0 Desktop Is Readied For Release

    Linux Mint’s Cinnamon 2.0 desktop fork of the GNOME Shell has been tagged and is being readied for release.

  8. Cinnamon 2.0 Ditches GNOME, Features Enhanced User and Window Management

    Cinnamon, the desktop shell using in Linux Mint, has finally released v2.0, which features new window tiling and snapping, along with enhanced user management options. And there are lots of other changes under the hood too, including a new backend that no longer requires GNOME.

  9. Cinnamon 2.0 in Ubuntu 13.10 Screenshot Tour

    Cinnamon 2.0, a fork of GNOME 3 desktop environment, developed by Clement Lefebvre, the father of Linux Mint, has been released to critical acclaim and now you have a chance to see it working in Ubuntu 13.10.

  10. Not so Saucy after all: Ubuntu reveals Mirless Salamander… and what, no Britney?
  11. First Look at GNOME 3.10 on Arch Linux

    After approximately two weeks of testing, the Arch Linux developers promoted earlier today, October 7, the recent GNOME 3.10 desktop environment to the stable channels, allowing users to upgrade their six-month-old GNOME 3.8 installation.

  12. SolusOS 2 Will Use a Custom GNOME 3.10 Desktop

    Thanks to a leaked screenshot on Google+, we’ve recently discovered that the upcoming and highly anticipated SolusOS 2 Linux operating system will have a darkish and highly modified version of the recently released GNOME 3.10 desktop environment.

10.08.13

GNOME News Roundup: Wayland, GNOME 3.10, and GNOME “Flashback”

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux at 2:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Shell

Summary: Signs of encouraging progress in the GNOME project

The Executive Director of the GNOME Foundation recently spoke in an interview [1] with Andrew Gregory and Graham Morrison of Tux Radar. The GNOME desktop is finding more acceptance from users [2] and from developers [3,4] and as GNOME 3.10 comes near [5,6] with new changes and applications [7,8] it seems clear that GNOME’s future — just like KDE’s — is secured.

The “G” in GNOME stands for GNU and it seems safe to say that the project escaped the clutch of Mono and is now led by a person closely connected to the FSF (through the SFLC). Red Hat (through Fedora) is still the main steward.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Karen Sandler: full interview

    Andrew Gregory and Graham Morrison talk to Karen Sandler, Executive Director of the Gnome Foundation, and hear some rather more compelling arguments for software freedom than clever acronyms and numbering systems that start at 0 rather than 1.

  2. The beauty of GNOME Shell

    Since its inception not long ago, the new GNOME 3.x series has confused some and frustrated others, but more often than not, it has also managed to conquer those few who actually got past the initial quirks and gave it a fair chance. Similarly, its desktop environment, simply dubbed Shell, left a lot to be desired in the early days, mostly because the customization options had been thrown out the window in favor of a to-the-point approach which meant to remove distractions. Unfortunately, such approach was certainly too closed to survive in the Linux realm.

  3. It’s Now Easier Running Wayland Under GNOME-Session

    With another day comes more improvements to the Linux desktop running atop Wayland. While yesterday saw Enlightenment on Wayland work, today already is some GNOME Wayland activity ahead of the GNOME 3.10 release in just a few weeks time.

  4. Frikin’ Awesome Apps (without AppData)

    In GNOME Software, we show a list of applications for each category that we think are frikin’ awesome. Some have AppData, and some don’t. For the ones that don’t yet have AppData it leaves the responsibility of writing the long description to the Linux community, where we can push the data back to upstream so that all the distributions can benefit. So far we’ve had a superb reaction from lots of upstream projects.

  5. GNOME 3.10 Gets an Overhaul: Top 10 New Features

    The open-source GNOME desktop is one of the primary desktops in use on Linux operating systems today. The GNOME 3.10 desktop, which was officially released Sept. 25, provides users with a number of user interface enhancements as well as new applications and under-the-hood improvements for developers. In total, more than 30,000 changes were made in GNOME 3.10, with over 1,000 individuals contributing to the new release. On the user interface front, there is a new system status area that provides a more unified view of the user’s system. In terms of new software applications, the GNOME 3.10 release starts right at the beginning with a new “Software” application to help users to explore and find new software. As part of the release, GNOME developers have also introduced a new “Maps” application that pulls data from the open-source OpenStreetMap project. Plus, there is a new Web browser aptly named “Web” that advances GNOME’s browser technology, formerly known as Epiphany. In this slide show, eWEEK takes a look at what is new and what is improved in the open-source GNOME 3.10 desktop.

  6. GNOME 3.10 in Fedora

    As usual, Fedora tracks GNOME releases closely. Last week, Fedora 20 Alpha shipped with a GNOME 3.10 prerelease, and today have just landed the final 3.10.0 builds, one day after the official upstream release.

  7. GNOME “Flashback” Released, GNOME Panel 3.8

    This week prior to the GNOME 3.10 release also marked the release of GNOME-Panel 3.8 and GNOME-Flashback-Session 3.8. The “GNOME Flashback” project is about revitalizing the GNOME 3 “fallback” session experience found in earlier 3.x releases for cases where no 3D hardware acceleration was available.

  8. GNOME Gets A Log Viewer For Systemd’s Journal

    There’s a new GNOME application that experienced its first release this morning: GNOME Logs. While there’s a lot of work left on the project, GNOME Logs is to serve as a centralized log viewer for the systemd journal on the GNOME desktop.

    The GNOME Logs program is a utility displaying detailed system event information that can be filtered, searched, and further analyzed in the investigation of system problems.

09.26.13

GNOME Desktop Approaches 3.10 and Finds Wider Acceptance

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux at 6:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Karen SandlerSummary: GNOME, the popular GNU/Linux suite of applications, is back in the groove

GNOME, as a desktop environment, suffered some backlash when the third branch came out. It’s similar to KDE when its fourth branch came out. But things appear to be changing for the better in GNOME [1] and a new release is fast approaching [2-6] under the leadership of Karen Sandler [7] who is a strong advocate of software freedom. GNOME Music is being introduced [8] and GNOME applications generally reach out to more environments like MATE and XFCE [9], not just KDE (through QtCurve and other bridges). Other GNOME projects [10,11] show signs of life in this age when we can easily forget GNOME or simply take it for granted, just like KDE.

Several years ago we criticised GNOME for its stance on Mono. After Miguel de Icaza had stepped down things gradually improved and GTK-based Mono-dependent applications mostly died (no longer maintained). Techrights has no opposition to GNOME or the GNOME Foundation.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Gnome 3 Love

    Anyway, Gnome 3 shell is everyone’s favorite punching bag. For us old-timers, it certainly is unusual in its approach to work flow. But, I tried to adapt to vanilla Gnome Shell. I really did. I don’t want to live in the past.

    Nope. Still don’t love the vanilla Gnome 3 experience.

  2. CSDs came to stay in GNOME 3.10!

    Today I installed Fedora 20 (from Nightly Build) that comes with GNOME 3.10 Beta and it (Fedora) feels amazingly stable (except the really buggy installer) for a pre-alpha release.

  3. GNOME Shell 3.10 Is Ready To Shine On Wayland

    GNOME Shell 3.9.92 was released this morning as the GNOME Shell 3.10 release candidate. With this latest release of the core GNOME 3 user-interface, the Wayland branch has been merged!

  4. What Should You Expect from GNOME 3.10

    GNOME 3.10 should be released this month, on September 25, and every Linux users who uses it expects the unexpected, so we thought it would be a very good idea to preview some of its upcoming features.

  5. GNOME Shell 3.10 RC Getting Ready for Full Wayland Support
  6. Gnome upcoming features

    Gnome 3.10 is just about a week away and the upcoming features list of version 3.12 is already forming. What are the new features that will empower and extend Gnome’s usability on the “good ten” that’s coming, and what kind of new features are seeing complete fruition on the next version?

  7. Interview: Karen Sandler (part 1)

    In Linux Format issue 176, Graham Morrison and Andrew Gregory spoke to Karen Sandler, executive director of the Gnome Foundation. We were so absorbed by what she had to say that we almost missed the free lunch in the canteen. Of the many subjects that the conversation touched upon (we’ll be putting the full interview up on TuxRadar soon), the most time-sensitive is the Gnome Outreach Programme For Women. This does pretty much what it says on the tin: it’s an initiative aimed at getting more women into free software, not just Gnome.

  8. GNOME Music
  9. GNOME Software on MATE and XFCE

    Long version: In the software application we have the problem where applications have the same name and summary, but are targeted against different desktops. We know when an app targets a specific desktop from the AppStream metadata (which currently uses a heuristic from the .desktop file) so we could filter these out client side. At the moment searching for notes gives you two similarly looking results results provided by two different applications: bijiben (GNOME) and xfce4-notes (XFCE). Also, because of the shared history, a lot of the MATE applications have the same name as the GNOME ones. This makes bad UI.

  10. GNOME Break Timer: Week 13

    I’m nearing the end of a very busy few weeks, and getting very close to that soft pencils down date! With school starting up again this hasn’t been my most productive week on the GNOME Break Timer front, but I’m pretty happy with what’s been done.

  11. AppData validation tool

    A upstream maintainers have contacted me about some kind of validation tool for AppData files. I’ve spent a couple of days creating and then packaging appdata-tools which includes the appdata-validate command. This returns non-zero if there are any syntax or style issues with the AppData file.

08.23.13

Keeping Free Software Free (Libre)

Posted in GNOME, Google at 11:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Smartphone

Summary: The real danger that the leading Linux-based operating system (Android) will cease to be free/libre

Autonomy of a nation depends on various factors which need to be pursued and assured. If your country is under the surveillance of another, then it is being controlled — determination-wise — by another. If the surveillance is bi-directional, as in the case of Russia and the United States for example, then neither country is in charge of another. Here in the UK we have at least two NSA bases (the ones we know about), whereas Britain has no army or surveillance bases in the US. It helps show who is in control. Today I travelled to Yorkshire, where protesters habitually go to an NSA base where they denounce US imperialism.

This rule extends to software. If the programmer can watch the user but the user cannot see the programmer or even the program’s code, then the user is essentially occupied. He or she has no control and the possibility of self determination is lowered. Espionage makes it possible for the software owner to weaken the user. Think how Google would cope if its infrastructure was Windows-based. It is not just a matter of immediate monetary cost. The hidden costs are rarely taken into account, but they matter.

Earlier this month Google and Qualcomm found themselves in hot water following a public resignation over the closing of Android. Google has since then retracted an apparent decision to go along with Qualcomm, but there is still no assurance that source code will be free in the future. This is a serious cause for concern.

Back in the days it seemed inevitable that one Linux-based platform or another would dominate the mobile world [1] and even expand to desktops [2]. It was hard to tell which one because several multi-vendor alliances were created, decoupled, merged, etc. Some platforms, like WebOS for instance, were proprietary (except the kernel, Linux). Some had GNU, some did not [3,4]. Some were Web-oriented, whereas others encouraged development of native applications. Google clearly won this race and is, for now, the market leader. Almost a dozen other Linux-based platforms are still contenders and all of them are now Free software (or claim to be, even if source code is not yet publicly available).

Earlier this week there was a discussion on the Web about whether or not Android qualifies as a “Linux distro” (can’t add “GNU” in this case). Some said that proprietary programs on Android disqualify it. Whatever the case is, Android itself — the platform — is Free software in a very weird, Google-like sense. Like other FOSS projects from Google, development is done privately and code released periodically. If new versions of Android can be ‘leaked’, then we know development is not quite so open to the community (non-OHA parties).

The final point to be made here is that in order to empower users and developers now that Android is a universal platform (or rapidly getting there) we should keep pressure on Google to keep Android free/libre. The wider the usage of Android, the smaller the proportion of users who care about freedom will get. Then, Google will be able to reason about de-emphasising FOSS and community participation in the same way canonical did. Currently, the only reason Android is somewhat respectful of some technology rights like privacy is that its free nature permits derivatives like Replicant to compete on key terms and compel OHA partners to catch up. If Android was ever to shut out ‘foreign’ developers, then we would expect Android to become more user-hostile and therein lies a principal argument for software freedom. If malicious features can be removed, one developer or another will make sure they do get removed. This limits what companies like Google can get away with.

Free software is not about price or even about enabling every single user to modify his or her software. Software freedom helps us assure that competition acts as a regulator against malicious features. The less free/libre the software is, the more menacing the software will become over time. Just watch what Vista did with DRM and Vista 8 does with restricted boot and other malicious ‘features’ which treat the user like an enemy.

From the news:

  1. Open Source Mobile OS: The Four Contenders

    Google and Apple currently enjoy a virtual duopoly in the worldwide smartphone market, with Android and iOS commanding 79 percent and 14.2 percent of sales respectively, according to Gartner.

    Their nearest challenger is Windows Phone with 3.3 percent and BlackBerry is back further still, but such dominance has not been enough to dissuade four new mobile operating systems from believing they can upset the market leaders.

  2. HDMI-stick mini-PC runs Android on quad-core ARM SoC

    China-based Ugoos announced a quad-core, HDMI-stick style mini-PC available for a special price of $65 (normally $100). The Ugoos UM2 runs Android 4.2 on a quad-core Rockchip RK3188 ARM Cortex-A9 SoC, offers an HDMI port, WiFi, and Bluetooth 4.0, and provides dual USB 2.0 host ports for external peripheral connection.

  3. MeeGo Startup Jolla Closes Pre-Sales Campaign For Its First Phone, Booking Orders Of Up To 50,000 Units

    Jolla, the Finnish startup comprised of ex-Nokians that’s building its own MeeGo-based smartphone platform and phone hardware has closed out a pre-sales campaign for the device it showed off in May. Thing is, it’s not saying how many phones are in this first pre-order batch — so it’s not really saying very much about the level of demand it’s seeing (or not seeing).

  4. Tizen, your next HTML5 mobile operating system

    The open source Tizen operating system could be your next mobile device experience.

05.06.13

Microsoft’s Patent Extortion of Linux Comes to China (ZTE)

Posted in Asia, GNOME, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 2:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ZTE

Summary: Having conquered the China-controlled Taiwan and the two Korean giants, Microsoft now goes deeper into China and demands payments for Linux-powered products

A few years ago we found out Microsoft’s strategy for patent extortion, thanks to a legal leak. The company behind this leak continues to protest to its government about the USPTO and contrary to what it said after Microsoft had bribed it, it continues with Android, not Windows, at least based on reports such as this. For those who cannot quote remember, B&N (Barnes & Noble) brought out the NDA-concealed extortion proposition (nastygram) with a list of patents included therein and then it got bribed by Microsoft for silence and lack of further legal challenges.

Microsoft is worried about its total defeat in the mobile world. “MS percent of the US market is larger than its percentage of the World market,” tells us a reader. So Microsoft decided to extort Android, maybe even bribing companies to make it appear feasible (financial details are never disclosed, but it’s about FUD). It recently went after Foxconn, based in Taiwan where patent collusion might be brewing. We don’t know if Foxconn pays anything. Now Microsoft got a patent deal with ZTE, another Chinese company. One site says:

For several years now, Microsoft has been asserting that any company making Android phones owes it money, because Microsoft has patents that cover various aspects of those phones.

Last week, the company said that the Taiwanese contract manufacturer Foxconn, which makes 40 percent of consumer electronics worldwide including a variety of Android and Chrome-powered products, had agreed to license its patents. Today, the company announced a patent-licensing deal with another huge Asian electronics company: Chinese telecom ZTE.

A reader sent us “more coverage” such as this, but there is nothing to suggest they pay Microsoft. Remember that another Chinese giant, which reportedly spurned Microsoft’s attempts to tax Android phones, rejects the US market and refuses to sign such a patent deal for Android. Disguising extortion as “licence” is not an acceptable business practice. Microsoft increasingly uses proxies like Nokia, too, either to litigate in Europe or to feed patent trolls such as MOSAID. Nokia itself recently attacked a Taiwan-based company, HTC, in several places in Europe.

Over at IDG, software patents promotion continues with lobbyists for this cause, such as Martin Goetz [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7], getting a European platform. Shame on IDG. The patent lawyers, a tiny minority of the overall populations, already have their platforms where they try too find rarity like developers who favour software patents. Groklaw, despite its strength in this area, also gives a platform for trolls but only as means of balance.

In order to stop Microsoft’s patent extortion we need either to kill software patents or take Microsoft executives to prison for RICO Act violations. In a system controlled by corporations, both are hard goals to attain.

04.10.13

Adaptation is Hard, Power is Hard

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, KDE at 2:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Engine

Summary: Response to claims that GNU/Linux is “hard”

Difficult it sure can be to become a high-speed racing/Formula 1 driver. Arduous it is to become an advanced computer user. Virtual desktops are hard to grasp conceptually or practically for those who never saw them in a Microsoft-dominant computer lab, so how can one expect to popularise multiple desktop activities the way KDE does?

The concept of extreme abstraction and removal of features has been popularised more recently by the advancement of smartphones and tablets (I write many of my posts while walking in the streets with my tablet). The general philosophy is that users are dumb and they should be treated as such. The problem with this is not that it’s insulting (in disguise) but that it discourages learning and self improvement.

In the past decade, with the hype of ‘i’ things gaining a foothold, the class of ‘simplicity elitists’ got a lot of mindshare. The idea of excessive simplification was famously chastised by Linus Torvalds who used the “Nazi” word to call attention to the reason he was leaving GNOME. Sometimes more is less, but it has become a stubborn cliché which is hard to leave behind.

When I was a teenager and used KDE the environment was still a tad cluttered and many of the presented settings I could not make sense of. KDE had already gained a reputation as desktop made by geeks, for geeks. By the time KDE3 was out and more so in KDE4 (once many bugs were out of the way) most of the daunting settings had already been ‘shelved’ in Advanced menus and the GUI laid out more intuititively. But the stereotype never died. To this date, one of the prominent patterns of Linux FUD is that it’s hard. Well, the kernel sure is hard, but the user barely ever interacts with it. A command-line user interacts a lot with GNU and GUI users often prefer GNOME or KDE.

When people tell you that “Linux is hard” ask them, “which desktop?”

My father had no issues when I switched him from Windows XP to KDE and he is not even so technical; he is a store manager who likes sports. Since the real barrier is that Linux desktops are different we should ask ourselves not how we make GNU/Linux easier but how to make people easier to change. It’s not about coercion but about diplomacy. People need to be patient when they adapt. Is GNU/Linux hard? It’s hard for impatient people to adapt to.

Originally posted in Linux Advocates

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