Bonum Certa Men Certa

Links 30/12/2009: 'Google Phone' Imminent

GNOME bluefish



  • What Took Wired So Loongson?
    I've been writing about the Loongson chip for three years now. As I've noted several times, this chip is important because (a) it's a home-grown Chinese chip (albeit based on one from MIPS) and (b) Windows doesn't run on it, but GNU/Linux does.


    Because GNU/Linux distros have already been ported to the Loongson chip, neither Java nor needs "adapting" so much as recompiling - hardly a challenging task. As for "releasing it all under a free software license", they had no choice.

  • What To Expect in 2010
    The coming year should be a good one for free software. Desktop environments are maturing, technology is improving. A lot of the ground work done in many areas over the past twelve months should propel free software further.

    While things are looking good, 2010 still won’t be the “Year of the Linux Desktop” (whatever that means).

  • Google

    • 18 Must Have Google Chrome Extensions
      Google and its applications are fast becoming the backbone of the internet. They seem to be solving everyone’s problems with free stuffs. Just when you get happy with something like Firefox, Google comes along and makes a browser that’s fast, super secure and has all kinds of add-ons and themes to personalize it.

  • Kernel Space

    • Ubuntu 32-bit, 32-bit PAE, 64-bit Kernel Benchmarks
      For this comparison we used Ubuntu 9.10 on a Lenovo ThinkPad T61 notebook running an Intel Core 2 Duo T9300 processor, 4GB of system memory, a 100GB Hitachi HTS7220 SATA HDD, and a NVIDIA Quadro NVS 140M. We were using the Ubuntu-supplied kernels that are based off the Linux 2.6.31 kernel in Ubuntu Karmic. Other packages that were maintained included GNOME 2.28.1, X Server 1.6.4, NVIDIA 195.22 display driver, GCC 4.4.1, and we were using the default EXT4 file-system with all other defaults. With Ubuntu to properly address 4GB or greater of system memory you need to use a PAE kernel as the Physical Address Extension support through the kernel's high-mem configuration options are not enabled in the default 32-bit kernels.

    • Drivers

      • The YoLD is Dead; Long Live the YoLD!
        Yes, I'm helping to advertise for this vendor because they deserve my support for their explicit Linux support. senyum

      • Christmas wish: Distro hardware buyer’s guide
        So when I go shopping for hardware, it sucks to be me. I haven’t tested all this stuff, and I don’t know how much of it works perfectly out of the box. What I need is to decide what software I’m going to put on it,n and have hardware recommendations per price point from the software distributor, so that I can just go to my local Surcouf, FNAC or whatever, and just look at one label & say “That’s only 90% supported, no custom from me!”

      • Nvidia Linux Display Driver 190.53
        The drivers are available for 32, or 64-bit Linux versions.

  • Applications

  • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

    • KDE Community Invited to FOSS Nigeria 2010
      A few days ago The Dot received an invite for the KDE community to FOSS Nigeria. FOSS Nigeria 2010 will be the second Free Software conference in Nigeria, following the successful event last year (as reported on The Dot). Again, Free Software developers and community members from around the world, but of course especially those from Africa and Nigeria, are invited for a 3-day conference in Kano at the Bayero University Kano.

    • New Exposure Blending Tool for digiKam
      Great. Pre-processing is done. It's time to use the second part of this plugin and to fuse bracketed images to a pseudo HDR image. On this new window, you can see a preview area on the left, and on the right, the bracketed images stack on the top, all Enfuse settings on the center, and finally, all processed images generated on the bottom. For each enfused image, you can choose which input bracketed images you want to use. Selecting a processed image on the bottom will load it to preview, to easy compare results. You can zoom in/out and pan preview if you want. To save processed images, just press Save button, and all selected items from processed stack will be saved to the current digiKam album.

  • Distributions

    • Mandriva 2010 thoughts
      TOMOYO is also in this version of Mandriva. TOMOYO is the new security framework used by default instead of AppArmor. It promises quite a lot just now but should mature rapidly, as do all GNU/Linux-based security applications. On the Mandriva community wiki, you are advised not to use the RC1 or RC2 version to upgrade an existing Mandriva Linux installation. There are unresolved issues with KDE and GNOME and other windows managers, which is likely to result in a system upgraded from any stable release to this version being unable to start a desktop or rendering it useless for most people.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Meeting business demands
        “We considered a number of operating systems as the platform for our business-critical SAP applications, and after much testing and evaluation, we selected Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform on HP ProLiant servers because it met our requirements and provided the best overall value, stability and performance,” pointed out Mohit Agarwal, CIO of Carnation Auto.

    • Debian Family

      • SuperOS: Like Ubuntu But Easier
        One problem I run into a lot when recommending Ubuntu to complete Linux newbies is they aren't used to installing codecs or using the terminal when they want to play DVDs, MP3s and other file types. Explaining the legal situation is something I make a point of doing but some people "just want it to work". This is what has led me to Super Ubuntu or SuperOS as it's now called. Once the recently released SuperOS 9.10 was adequately seeded I downloaded this enhanced version of Ubuntu and took it for a spin.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Composite video output from chumby
      [bunnie] posted this pretty slick way of getting composite video out of a Chumby. The Chumby is an open source connectivity device that has already seen some decent hacking. This modification, done by [xobs] isn’t too difficult. It only requires patching into some pads on the motherboard and loading a custom kernel to support the external output.

    • Phones

      • Palm updates webOS for Pixi, Pre smartphones
        Palm has launched an update to its web OS, which comes with enhancements to its App Catalog and improvements in battery life optimisation when in marginal coverage areas. It is available for Palm Pixi and Palm Pre smartphones, both of which are exclusive to the Sprint Nextel network.

      • Android

        • Googlephone debuts Jan. 5, says everyone but Google
          This morning, a carefully selected slice of the tech press received a short but sweet invitation to the announcement event. In the long-standing tradition of milking product announcements for every drop of suspense, the invitation doesn't mention the Nexus One specifically, but merely reads:
          With the launch of the first Android-powered device just over a year ago, we’ve seen how a powerful, open platform can spur mobile product innovation. And this is just the beginning of what’s possible.

        • Google Confirms Android Media Event -- Hello, Nexus One?
          It may be the moment the tech world's been waiting for: Google has just officially announced plans for an Android-related media event to be held next Tuesday, January 5, at its Mountain View campus.

          If recent online chatter is to be believed, the event could have something to do with the Nexus One -- the highly anticipated HTC-built handset seemingly under development by Google.

        • Android Developer Challenge Winners!
          The quality of applications available on Google's Android platform is improving by leaps and bounds. Whereas most of the apps that Google showcased last year in its first Android Developer Challenge

        • Linux Outlaws 129 - The Year 2009 in Review (Year of the Android Revolution)
          In the final show for the year and the decade, Dan and Fab look back at 2009 and the major news stories of the year. We also try to decide what this year was all about. There’s even some special funny content as a little bonus.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • 'Smartbooks' Latest to Join Crowded Computer Market
        Most smartbooks, which are expected to be built by both PC makers as well as manufacturers of cellphones and consumer-electronics, will run versions of the Linux operating system and low-cost chips based on designs licensed by ARM Holdings PLC.

      • Smarter than a netbook
        Freescale's research focused on the future because most smartbooks have yet to hit the market. The company has collaborated on one smartbook to date: the NetWalker from Japanese manufacturer Sharp. Qualcomm has also unveiled one smartbook, made by Lenovo. Both companies expect at least a dozen smartbooks incorporating their chips to debut in early 2010.

      • Twenty companies to release smartbooks from Q1 2010
        We have been waiting for the smartbook revolution to take hold for some time now. Well it looks like it will kick off in earnest from the first quarter of next year. According to President Kim Yung-sup of ARM Korea, “20 companies in the world are preparing for release of smart book. And we will see them from 1Q.”

      • Linux on Netbooks - with PICTURES!
        As this is the holiday season, and things are slow, I have finally taken the time to follow up on some very good advice that Jake gave me, and learn to produce blog entries with pictures. Of course, there is no better way to start than with the specific subject that Jake (and others) said they would like to see pictures of, so here is a quick review of some of the most common Netbook-centric Linux distributions.


        Overall I am quite impressed with the KDE Netbook desktop, and I am anxious to see how its development continues. The last I heard it was scheduled for an initial release in early 2010, so I will be watching for that.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Advogato's Number: Advice for young free software developers
    This week, Advogato gets up on his soapbox and dispenses advice to free software neophytes.

    I'll take the risk of demonstrating my advanced age and give some advice for new free software developers. With luck, this post will get some discussion rolling. What are some of the worst mistakes you've made as a free software developer. What has worked well for you?

  • Best of 2009
    Best distro release: Knoppix 6.x After a long hiatus, the venerable Live CD Linux distribution emerged in a new version redesigned from the ground up. The latest version sports a brand new accelerated boot procedure which significantly reduces the boot time, and the LXDE lightweight graphical desktop environment. Unlike previous versions, Knoppix 6.0 comes with a trimmed software bundle, but key productivity applications like, Iceweasel (aka Firefox), Icedove (aka Thunderbird), Pidgin, and the GIMP are still there. The latest version of Knoppix features a new flash-knoppix tool that allows you to install Knoppix on a USB stick or a flash card.

  • More than ever, saving is in vogue
    And try the, instead of paying for Microsoft Office.

  • Cleaning dust on photos: or “In Gimp We Trust!”
    A few weeks ago I finally realized my old wish: I bought a real camera for me: a Nikon D40 – which is, according to many, many people, is the best DSLR out there. At least for non-professionals.

  • Our future – SixthSense Technology
    The good part is that Pranav is planning to make available this software as open source so every one can benefit. Since it will open source, anyone can add features or modify the software as he wishes. The hardware costs for this system are relatively low.

  • Mozilla

    • 8 Hidden Firefox Secrets Revealed
      8. Firefox Optimizer: Firefox Optimizers for Mozilla Firefox v1.x / 2.x / 3.x was developed for an easy and fast optimization of your browsing experience with Firefox. It is based on a collection of popular and well working optimization settings used and tested by the experts.

  • Databases

    • Some thoughts on MySQL and Oracle
      Fear #1 is that Oracle will kill MySQL, which Oracle is said to see as a threat to its cash-cow relational database management system. One might respond that similar fears were expressed after Oracle's acquisitions of Innobase and Sleepycat Software, but that things have not turned out that way so far. One might say (as Eben Moglen has) that keeping MySQL healthy is in Oracle's economic interest. One might also respond that Oracle could arguably do more damage to MySQL by breaking off the acquisition and allowing Sun to simply die. But what is most interesting about this particular concern is the lack of faith it shows in our community's ability to cope with such an outcome.

  • BSD

    • Social Hosting, Good Parenting Are Keys to Open Source Success
      Markdown is a text-to-HTML conversion tool which allows you to write web code using an easy-to-understand plain text format. Markdown text is then converted to structurally valid XHTML (or HTML). Markdown is used all over the web — it’s even understood by the content fields and comment forms within most popular blogging platforms, including WordPress and Movable Type. It’s been ported to Python, Ruby, PHP and other popular languages.

      However, the original Perl script has remained largely unchanged since its release in 2004. In his post, Atwood takes Gruber to task for what Atwood calls “bad parenting,” an indictment of Markdown’s lack of bug fixes, updates and improvements.

      Markdown was released under a BSD-style open source license, meaning the community can do pretty much whatever it likes with the code, so long as it respects the copyright notices and naming rules. Indeed, many ports of Markdown enjoy rather widespread support with numerous contributors and an aggregate community of active developers that the original Markdown lacks.

  • Openness

    • ScienceOnline09 - an interview with Cameron Neylon
      In terms of the blogs on my blog roll there are many that will be familiar (Deepak Singh's BBGM, Jean-Claude Bradley's Usefulchem, John Wilbanks' Common Knowledge, Neil Saunders' What you're doing is rather desperate). I keep an eye on Richard Grant (The Scientist), Jenny Rohn, and Martin Fenner at Nature Network. Some other blogs that may not be as familiar to the regular sciblogger community but are well worth the effort are Greg Wilson's The Third Bit, Mike Ellis' Electronic Museum, PT Sefton's blog and Nico Adams' Staudinger's Semantic Molecules.

    • The picons databases (Personal Images) are available via WWW in the Picons Archive
      "picons" is short for "personal icons". They're small, constrained images used to represent users and domains on the net, organized into databases so that the appropriate image for a given e-mail address can be found. Besides users and domains, there are picons databases for Usenet newsgroups and weather forecasts. The picons are in either monochrome XBM format or color XPM and GIF formats.

  • Programming

    • Embedded programming languages
      A long time ago when I first started at IBM I used an editor named XEDIT that ran under the VM/CMS operating system on mainframes. It was a fullscreen, line-oriented editor that looks primitive now but was quite sophisticated in its time. One of the best things about it was that it was scriptable: you could write very sophisticated programs that could manipulate files and their contents. XEDIT really became powerful when used with the REXX programming language and many of my thoughts and philosophy about embedded languages were formed during my use of REXX.

    • New Year, New Adventures in Software Application Development
      In 2010, developers will learn to let go and adapt to a centralized resource pool, continuous testing will eclipse continuous integration, coffee breaks will get shorter, open source CI tools will buckle in big shops, and distributed software configuration management tools will cross the chasm from open source projects to the enterprise.

  • Applications

    • Nightshade Open Source Planetarium Project Launched
      Digitalis Education Solutions, Inc. is pleased to announce the official launch of Nightshade, open source astronomy simulation and visualization software specifically tailored to digital planetarium and educator use.

    • Firebird 2.5 RC1 released
      The primary goal for Firebird 2.5 was to establish the basics for a new threading architecture that is almost entirely common to the Superserver, Classic and Embedded models, taking in lower level synchronization and thread safety generally.


  • Jimbo asks online folk to play nice, be civil
    The co-founder of Wikipedia is once again calling on internet surfers to adopt good manners online.

  • Google Loses Claim to Groovle Domain Name
    Google's complaint that the domain name is confusingly similar to its own is without foundation, an ICANN-approved arbitration body has ruled.

  • Crime

    • Former Seagate engineer says company destroyed evidence
      A former employee of Seagate Technology claims that the company destroyed evidence that could have affected a long-standing patent infringement lawsuit filed against it by engineering company Convolve Inc. and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

      In a court document obtained by the New York Times that was filed late last month, the former employee, Paul A. Galloway, claimed in an affidavit that Seagate deliberately destroyed the source code pertaining to a disk driving using Convolve's intellectual property and "failed to preserve" Galloway's PC containing all of his work during development of the drive.

  • Police State

    • Big Brother's watching you..undress
      A PREGNANT mother was horrified to see live pictures of her BED on a travel news website.

      A camera meant to be monitoring traffic was instead pointing directly at Megan Franklin's bedroom.

    • Boy in deportation raid kept in van with border agency officials
      A nine-year-old boy was separated from his mother and kept in a van for several hours by UK Border Agency officials while she was treated in hospital.

      The agency held the boy – known as Child M – in a vehicle for three hours after an early morning deportation raid, and said that he had not been distressed. The family, however, said the child repeatedly asked to see his mother and was terrified during the incarceration.

    • California cops don defensive headcams
      Ever since Rodney King was famously videotaped receiving what many saw as an over-the-top thrashing by Los Angeles lawmen back in 1991, video footage of alleged police misconduct has time and time again come back to haunt overzealous boys in blue.

  • Security

    • How To: Hack like China’s Government
      Fascinating study done by Northrup Grumman Corporation for the US government’s US-China Economic and Security Review Commission about the Chinese government’s Cyberwar capability.

      In fact, it presents techniques in such a way as to offer a “How To” guide for aspiring state-sponsored hackers.

    • Is aviation security mostly for show?
      We'd do much better by leveraging the inherent strengths of our modern democracies and the natural advantages we have over the terrorists: our adaptability and survivability, our international network of laws and law enforcement, and the freedoms and liberties that make our society so enviable.

      The way we live is open enough to make terrorists rare; we are observant enough to prevent most of the terrorist plots that exist, and indomitable enough to survive the even fewer terrorist plots that actually succeed. We don't need to pretend otherwise.

  • Environment

    • Long term agricultural overshoot
      According to Peter, humanity has probably been in overshoot of the Earth's carrying capacity since it abandoned hunter gathering in favor of crop cultivation (~ 8,000 BCE). The problem is that soil needs tightly woven natural ecosystems to properly recycle nutrients and prevent soil erosion.

    • Updates to model-data comparisons
      It’s worth going back every so often to see how projections made back in the day are shaping up. As we get to the end of another year, we can update all of the graphs of annual means with another single datapoint. Statistically this isn’t hugely important, but people seem interested, so why not?

      For example, here is an update of the graph showing the annual mean anomalies from the IPCC AR4 models plotted against the surface temperature records from the HadCRUT3v and GISTEMP products (it really doesn’t matter which). Everything has been baselined to 1980-1999 (as in the 2007 IPCC report) and the envelope in grey encloses 95% of the model runs. The 2009 number is the Jan-Nov average.

    • Trade, Transportation, and the Chinese Finger Trap
      One of the central underpinnings of neo-classical economics is trade. And one of the central tenets of trade is the Ricardian theory of comparative advantage. Trade (in theory) benefits both parties because both are better off after the exchange. But our international trade system has, by baby steps, become completely dependent on twin enablers: crude oil and credit. By air, water, land or rail, petroleum accounts for 95% of all transportation energy. As we move up the complexity chain in the products that make up our daily lives, are we moving further into a Chinese finger trap where there is no backing out?

      This post will examine the theory of international trade and the hierarchy of goods transport, production and consumption. It is quite possible that in the next decade, the increase in price (or the decreasing availability) of oil and financing, will offset the benefits of many types of trade.

  • Internet/Web Abuse/DRM

    • Home copying of e-books and digital rights management
      A frequently asked question that seems appropriate this time of year (given the number of e-books that are likely to appear in people's Christmas stockings) concerns what one is legally allowed to do with documents on one's own e-book, particularly one that is protected by some form of digital rights management.

    • The Lost Decades of the UK Web
      So, 20 years after Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the technology, and well over a decade after the Web became a mass medium, and the British Library *still* isn't archiving every Web site?

      History - assuming we have one - will judge us harshly for this extraordinary UK failure to preserve the key decades of the quintessential technology of our age. It's like burning down a local digital version of the Library of Alexandria, all over again.

    • One Million Free and Legal Torrent Downloads, The Album
      The FrostWire P2P client promotes music of starting and independent artists through its FrostClick service. The service has been running for over a year and is a great success. To celebrate the first million downloads of 2009, a compilation album has been released, featuring free Creative Commons-licensed tracks from 21 artists.

    • BitTorrent Sites May Be Censored in Italy
      The Italian Supreme Court has ruled that ISPs can be forced to block BitTorrent sites, even if they are not hosted in Italy or operated by Italian citizens. According to the decision by the Supreme Court, sites offering torrent files that link to copyrighted material are engaging in criminal activity.


      The fact that a site is not hosted in Italy or operated by Italians is irrelevant according to the court. The site is visited by many Italians who (in part) use it to share copyrighted material, the Supreme Court argued.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • Copyright Infringement: A Modest Proposal
      Given that the UK government seems happy for huge sums of money to be spent on this fool's errand, why not spend it more effectively, in a way that sustains businesses, rather than penalising them, and which actually encourages people not to download copyrighted material from unauthorised sources?

      This can be done quite simply: by giving everyone who wants it a free Spotify Premium subscription. These normally cost €£120 per year, but buying a national licence for the 10 million families or so who are online would presumably garner a generous discount - say, of 50% - bringing the total price of the scheme to around €£600 million, pretty much the expected cost of the current plans.

    • Getting Copyright Right for the Digital Age
      It is extraordinary how copyright has turned from an obscure, dusty corner of the law to one of the flashpoints of the digital age. The reason is simple. Copyright is an intellectual *monopoly*, and like all monopolies tries to limit access to a given good. But limiting access to digital goods is a forlorn hope: as Bruce Schneier expressed it so memorably, trying to make digital files uncopiable is like trying to make water not wet. The battle over copyright is therefore a manifestation of a far deeper struggle between two ways of looking at the world: one based on scarce analogue objects, the other on abundant digital ones.

    • Abusing Copyrights to Silence Critics, Control Customers, and Crush Competition
      Hardly a day goes by without yet another news story about creative uses of copyright, the DMCA, and generic attack lawyers to stifle free speech, criticism, and competition. It seems that money can buy all kinds of creative "justice." For example, in the increasingly bizarre Apple vs. Psystar drama, in which Psystar commited the awful crime of selling a tool to help customers install Mac OS X on the hardware of their choice, Apple have prevailed yet again in court, and Psystar cannot do this anymore.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Joerg Heilig, Sun Microsystems Senior Engineering Director talks about 16 (2004)

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


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