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Links 18/07/2009: GNU/Linux Benchmarks, Mandriva 2009.1 USB Release

GNOME bluefish



  • Mandriva's Linux-on-a-stick refreshed with Spring '09 release
    Mandriva has refreshed its Linux-on-a-stick distribution to put the pocket-sized operating system in line with its desktop Mandriva Linux 2009 Spring release.

  • Linux and the Brick and Mortar Establishment
    One of the things that many people don't realize when complaining about the lack of Linux powered machines in Brick and Mortar (B&M) establishments is the one thing that's kept Windows the dominant player for ages.

    And what is that little fact? Windows sells software and extras. A LOT of software and extras. I've seen this first hand myself. And what about Linux? Really, Linux is a loss leader of epic proportions for these stores.

    Why? Because Linux DOESN'T sell a lot of extras. Why? Because Linux just works. Ok, so there's still some faults in Linux, but as with any evolving piece of software, that's to be expected. But most of those problems are the fault of the OEM's who either don't support Linux, or provide shoddy support. If an OEM does support Linux properly, everything's golden in penguin land. The same holds true with Windows. OEM support either makes or breaks an OS. But that's another topic for another day.

  • Desktop

    • Can Linux manage updates and upgrades more easily than Windows?
      There are four types of repositories in the Ubuntu universe: main, restricted, universe and multiverse. Main repositories hold officially supported software. Restricted software is for whatever reason (local laws, patent issues) not available under a completely free license, and you will want to know why before you install it. ("Free" in this case doesn't mean free-like-beer but free-like-speech; if a package may not be examined, modified, and improved by the community, it's not free.) Ubuntu has sorted matters out in this fashion, but once again it's a wide Linux world out there, and you're apt to encounter other terminology if you choose other flavors of the OS.

    • Migrating to Linux, Part 1: Sharing a Room With Windows
      My experiment with Ubuntu was so successful that I added a netbook preinstalled with Ubuntu Remix version designed for small-screen netbooks. I discovered that the Linux OS under the guise of the Puppy Linux flavor could co-exist on the same computers already running Windows without even changing to a dual-boot configuration. (More on this approach later.)

    • Symbio Technologies Helps Save Technology in Bankrupt California Schools
      Using its expertise in LTSP (Linux Terminal Server Project), Symbio Technologies has helped bankrupt schools in California re-use their existing workstations and finally find a use for the many outdated machines they receive as donations.

  • Kernel Space

    • OpenSuSE, Ubuntu, Fedora, Mandriva Benchmarks
      We used our standard Intel Core 2 Duo test setup for this four-way distribution testing, which is running an Intel Core 2 Duo clocked at 4.00GHz, an ASUS P5E64 WS professional motherboard (Intel X48 + ICH9R), 2GB of DDR3 memory, 160GB Western Digital WD1600JS-00M Serial ATA 2.0 hard drive, and an ATI Radeon X1800 256MB graphics card. For this testing we installed OpenSuSE 11.2 Milestone 3, Ubuntu 9.10 2009-07-15, Fedora Rawhide, and Mandriva Linux 2010 Alpha 1. The x86_64 build of each distribution was used. We then performed all development package updates as of 2009-07-15. For OpenSuSE some of the key packages included the Linux 2.6.30 kernel, GNOME 2.26.2, X Server 1.6.1, xf86-video-radeon 6.12.2, Mesa 7.4.4, GCC 4.4, and used an EXT4 file-system.

    • It Just Works: a happy tale of Linux and printers
      Should I be this happy? Yeah. I think I should. Genuine progress, even in small ways, is worth a smile.

    • Logitech Vid - SightSpeed Rebranded and Dumbed Down
      There is one other case that could change my mind. Shortly before they were taken over, SightSpeed announced a Linux version, which was supposed to be available on Dell laptops preloaded with Linux, and was promised to be generally available "real soon". Then they got taken over by Logitech, and it looks like the Linux version vanished. If Logitech should get smart, and bring out a Vid for Linux, I would jump on that in an instant. I'm not holding my breath... but I am at least keeping my fingers crossed!

    • This Week on Github: Stupid Ruby Tricks
      Ruby is a very dynamic language. You can turn the language inside out, give objects a frontal lobotomy, and stitch the whole thing back together again, all at runtime.

    • VIA Rolls Out Chrome 9 DRM, Pushes For Kernel
      It has been a while since we last had any major to report on VIA with their open-source efforts, but this morning they have finally published DRM code that supports their Chrome 9 IGP hardware. The announcement regarding this new Chrome 9 DRM was made on the dri-devel list and was made up of three patches.

    • The Btrfs file system
      Btrfs, the designated "next generation file system" for Linux, offers a range of features that are not available in other Linux file systems – and it's nearly ready for production use.

  • Applications

    • Complete Guide to Playing Movies and Music on Linux
      One of the caveats that many people have with using Linux is the current state of media support. While media playback on Linux is presently much better than it has ever been before, it still requires a little bit of know-how and tweaking to get everything working properly. This guide will go over each step of optimizing your media capabilities.

    • Are You Afraid? You Will Be...
      It isn't the old "bump and acquire" engines that dominate games today. This takes physical manipulation in games to a place never seen. While these games are not "new" the fact that they have just been ported to the Linux world merits their discussion here. This opens a whole new dimension to gameplay for us.

    • PlayonLinux: Surprisingly Compatible
      I’ve been using PlayonLinux, Wine, Cedega, and other Linux compatibility solutions for a while now. I have found each one to be pretty much hit or miss, as there really isn’t any standardization when it comes to forcing Linux to run applications not designed to run natively. Every now and then I would keep trying each of the above solutions to see if I would have any success getting my games to work when new versions of a compatibility technology were released. I have read stories from many people that have had no problem getting Oblivion to work with Wine, however no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t even get it to start.

    • Omnipresent Search Interface GNOME Deskbar
      The GNOME Deskbar applet serves as a one-stop shop for all of your desktop searching needs. Deskbar manages this by using various plugins to interact with different Linux desktop search tools. But Deskbar isn’t limited to just a search tool. With Deskbar you can: search with Beagle, search the web, recent documents, launch programs, calculate simple equations, view files and folders, send mail, create new templates, logoff/reboot/shutdown your computer, post to twitter, and more. Deskbar really is a one-stop shop.

  • KDE

  • Distributions

    • Why people don't test development distributions
      Development distributions play a crucial role in the free software ecosystem. They are the proving ground where much new software is first exposed to a wider user community; they are also the place where this software demonstrates how well it plays with other packages. Distributors would like to see wider testing of their development releases, but, as your editor's recent experience shows, there are limits to how wide this testing community can be expected to be.

    • Pardus 2009 Looks Fantastic

    • Red Hat

      • Open Source Cloud Computing Forum Agenda Posted
        The Open Source Cloud Computing Forum, a day-long virtual forum hosted by Red Hat, will gather together open source cloud computing developers for a day of technical presentations that cover the capabilities and challenges facing the development, management and deployment of open source cloud computing configurations. It is generally agreed that open source software is already taking a leadership role in the world of cloud computing, but much work remains to be done.

    • Ubuntu

      • Ubuntu’s Karmic Koala Needs You!
        The Canonical Design team is currently running a contest for beautiful desktop wallpapers for its upcoming Ubuntu Karmic Koala 9.10 scheduled to be released in October 2009.

      • Mythbuntu and Mint Developers Pan Ubuntu for Strict Time-Release Policy
        In an article on Techradar which looked at the upcoming Karmic Koala release of Ubuntu, Clement Lefebvre, the developer of Linux Mint, a popular Ubuntu derivative, and Mario Limonciello, the maintainer of the Ubuntu-sanctioned Mythbuntu media center distribution both took aim at what they saw as the chief weakness of Ubuntu.

        "Of course," compained Lefebvre, "[focusing on consolidation instead of cutting-edge features] wouldn't make sense for Ubuntu unless we became an upstream component of their distribution. I'm really happy with what Ubuntu is doing, and if I were to change anything… it would be the commitment to a release schedule and the return of a 'release when ready' policy to guarantee a stronger level of quality against regressions."

      • Canonical seeking desktop backgrounds for Ubuntu 9.10
        Kenneth Wimer of the Canonical Design Team has announced that the team is seeking high quality desktop backgrounds from "anyone and everyone" for the upcoming Ubuntu 9.10 "Karmic Koala" release. The team have created a Flickr photo group pool where users can submit or simply browse the proposed backgrounds. "Ubuntu would like to include a beautiful set of images for our users to choose from in our next release," said Wimer.

      • Xubuntu: The Better Ubuntu than Ubuntu
        While we regularly discuss Ubuntu, and to a lesser degree Kubuntu, there's also a version of Ubuntu tailor-made for the Xfce desktop environment. As most of you are aware, it's called Xubuntu, and after trying it out for the first time, I have to say that I find that it provides a better and more coherent experience than Ubuntu (let alone Kubuntu).

      • CohesiveFT adds Ubuntu, Debian GNU/Linux
        Custom Jaunty Jackalope and Lenny servers configured, assembled, and deployed to virtual and cloud infrastructures in minutes


        Ubuntu is a widely popular operating system distributed freely by Canonical Ltd. based on GNU/Linux. Ubuntu is available under the GNU/GPL but is commercially supported by Canonical Ltd.

  • Sub-notebooks

    • Dell looks to Moblin for Linux future
      In a recent blog posting, Dell Technology Strategist, Doug Anson, said that Dell, as I wrote last week, was considering selling Google's new Chrome OS in its netbooks. That's interesting, but what I found far more interesting was that Anson seemed a lot more interest in Moblin, the new mobile Internet device, operating system for Dell.

      Anson opened by talking about Google Chrome OS. He wrote, "Given that Google has made it clear that the Chrome OS will be available in the second half of 2010, there's still a lot of time to see how this will develop. As with most new technology, Dell plans to evaluate the Chrome OS and other alternative operating environments, like we've done in the past. Luckily (for me!), Dell enjoys a great relationship with Google. As we have more details to share on the topic, we'll do it here."

    • Dell: Chrome is one of many Linux-based OSes
      Although Dell didn't have much to say about Google's Chrome OS announcement last week, the PC maker is apparently looking closely at it.

      But for Dell--which was not listed as one of the PC makers working with Google on Chrome OS--it is just one of a number of Linux-based operating systems it is evaluating.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Aptana scores $7.8M for open source web building tools
    Aptana, maker of open-source software used to build, implement and manage web sites and applications, has raised $7.8 million in a second round of funding to scale its virtual environment offering, Aptana Cloud — a free service that allows users to deploy and manage their web applications from a central location.

    Based in San Mateo, Calif., Aptana is known for making web deployment fairly easy for users of varying skill levels, providing tools to run apps on Ruby on Rails, PHP, MySQL and Apache. Users can toggle the amount of computational power and storage space they need for the tasks at hand. It also lends itself to collaborative projects by giving administrators the ability to add or subtract project team members and edit their privileges.

  • Aptana Secures New Round of Financing

  • Open Source Could Create Better Election Software, Jobs
    You may know the Federal Election Commission if you've ever been involved with national politics. The FEC is the regulatory agency that administers and enforces federal campaign finance laws; it's sort of like the IRS but specifically for congressional and senate campaigns. Any serious candidate for public office on a national level has to file campaign finance reports routinely or face administrative penalties. Along with campaigns themselves, political committees called PACs are also regulated by the FEC and must file regularly.

  • How to thwart government surveillance and censorship online
    There are numerous ways to encrypt data that is either being sent over the Internet or stored on a local drive. One of the best pieces of encryption software is The GNU Privacy Guard (GPG), which uses a public/private key system to verify identities, encrypt files, and send encrypted information via e-mail. Users are able to create public keys and upload them to key servers. Other users can then sign their key once they have verified the identity of the key holder. This creates a "web of trust" to help verify that people are who they say they are. People can then send out e-mails with their GPG signature attached so others can be confident of the sender's identity. The system can also be used to encrypt e-mails and files, which can only be decrypted by a specific person or group of people on the other end.

  • Business

    • Recession-Proof Open Source
      In a down economy, companies are more likely to view unprofitable software assets as a waste of resources than as an opportunity for future profits. Rather than destroying the software, one viable option is to release it as open source, handing the maintenance burden to a community of volunteers. A handoff like this requires care and guidance--you can't just toss a bundle of code out under an open source license and expect it to fly. It's worth the effort, though. At worst you will improve your company's reputation as a patron of open source (a strategy that has served IBM ( IBM - news - people ) extremely well over the years). And for a potential best scenario, look to the wildly successful Mozilla Firefox, which grew out of the unprofitable Netscape Navigator during the dot-com bust.

    • How to Bring Open-Source Software into the Enterprise
      Open-source software has gained growing acceptance in the enterprise. Once enterprises put in place the same governance, policy and support processes around open-source software as they do with proprietary software, there is no limit to how much open-source software they can bring into their organization. Here, Knowledge Center contributor Carol J. Rizzo offers five tips on how to bring open-source software into your organization in a way that maps to your corporate risk factors, making open-source software no more or less of a risk than proprietary software.

  • Government

  • Licensing

    • Why the GNU GPL Still Matters
      The other major bone of contention in the discussion about the merits and demerits of the GNU GPL concerns the issue of efficiency: that is, what is the best way to encourage coders to join projects and for users to adopt software. But this, too, if based on a misunderstanding of free software: the point of free software is not to spread software, but to spread freedom.

      It is not trying to be “efficient”, it is trying to be ethical; ideally you want both – and in many respects, the culture that the GNU GPL fosters is extremely efficient, for reasons I'll discuss in a moment. But if efficiency and ethics clash, ethics win every time.

    • Licensing 101 for Open Source Projects--Pick a License
      Part I dealt with the impact your licensing choice can have on the use of the code you write. This part II focuses on how your choice of license impacts your ability to incorporate third party code (whether from third party programs or third party contributions). Like in in Part I, the analysis below is slightly simplified and addresses license categories instead of individual licenses (although individual licenses are used as examples in some places).

    • Apache Software License, Hippo, and BlueNog
      The Apache Software License, which Hippo CMS uses, is very permissive and only requires that redistributions of the software contain a notice file giving credit to the original developers. Bluenog isn’t even doing this. And, as you would probably expect they are not contributing back to Hippo either.


  • Censorship/Web Abuse

    • FCC Considers Propping Up Old School Journalism, As Copps Blames The Internet And Bloggers
      Citizen Media Law alerts us to a rather troubling "state of the media journalism" report issued by FCC commissioner Michael Copps. While the report doesn't really mean anything right now, it's seen as an indicator of where the FCC may go in its rule-making process. And if that's the case, it's quite troubling, though the old school newspaper folks screaming for protection may find it comforting. Basically, it focuses on "the decline of traditional print and broadcast outlets" and seems to blame the combination of "the internet and bloggers" with the deregulation of media ownership.

    • Iran blocks Wikileaks
      Iran has blocked access to whistleblowers' site WikiLeaks, ahead of today's expected protests.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • FBI charges satellite descramblers under DMCA
      The people behind the Viewsat satellite receiver have been arrested and charged with conspiring to violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act thanks to their not-so-undercover efforts to crack DISH Network's latest encryption scheme.

    • Songwriters Guild Boss Claims Songwriters Can't Write Without Copyright
      Last week, we wrote about a rather level-headed and quite interesting FT opinion piece written by The Pirate Party's Christian Engstrom, who now represents the Swedish Pirate Party in the European Parliament. While the entertainment industry has tried to paint the Pirate Party as a bunch of thieves who just want stuff for free, Engstrom's piece was quite sensible in explaining the real thinking behind the party: a focus on individual rights and worries about privacy invasion. Of course, the usual copyright supporters couldn't let such thinking go unchallenged...

    • Wikipedia painting row escalates
      The battle over Wikipedia's use of images from a British art gallery's website has intensified.


      Another Wikipedia volunteer David Gerard has blogged about the row, claiming that the National Portrait Gallery makes only €£10-15,000 a year from web licensing, less than it makes "selling food in the cafe".

    • Journalist Demands Google Give Up Its 'Fair Share' To Newspapers
      I have to admit that it's been really kind of sad to watch journalists with little understanding of economics or business flail around blaming the likes of Craigslist and Google (especially Google) for their own failure in building better business models. The latest is a well-written, but poorly thought-out and argued, piece by Peter Osnos, the Vice-Chairman of the Columbia Journalism Review, suggesting reasons why Google needs to pay up its "fair share" to newspapers. There are numerous problems with the logic in the piece, but they can be summarized in two basic camps: a misunderstanding of the internet and a misunderstanding of economics.

    • WTO to Allow Copyright Infringement?
      As reported in the LA Times' technology blog, the launch of Antigua-based media download site Zookz has raised the ire of the US trade commission as well as the RIAA and MPAA. However, according to the company, Zookz is permitted by the World Trade Organization under a loophole copyright sanction. You read that correctly. The US trade commission and the RIAA / MPAA is challenging Zookz the pirate with the WTO in its corner. Imagine the cage match.

    • FCC Commissioner Circulates Document on ‘The State of Media Journalism’

    • Report: music fans cling to CDs, but discover music online
      Music lovers apparently still prefer CDs to online offerings, according to a new survey of listeners in the UK. And those who use music subscription and streaming services spend more on CDs and downloads than the average listener, indicating that online music discovery is helping to keep CDs from breathing their last breath.

    • Court Says You Can Copyright Numerical Ratings
      The US, thankfully, still hasn't allowed copyright on databases. There's been a push over the years to allow such a database right, but this is problematic for a variety of reasons -- mainly that it's effectively a way to allow the copyrighting of facts, so long as you put a few of them together. But a bigger issue is that there's empirical evidence that the ability to copyright a database doesn't create more databases or actually help businesses. It does the opposite. It limits business -- exactly the opposite of copyright's stated purpose. If we actually had an empirically driven copyright system, there wouldn't be database rights, because the evidence that they do more harm than good is quite clear. Anyone actually pushing for a database right is either ignorant of the evidence or is hoping to profit off such a right by limiting the market.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Alexandro Colorado, international open source evangelist 21 (2004)

Digital Tipping Point is a Free software-like project where the raw videos are code. You can assist by participating.


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