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Links 23/11/2010: New OS Benchmarks, Scientific Study Into Free Software in Finland

GNOME bluefish



  • Reasons to Be Thankful in Linux Land
    "I'm thankful for Android phones providing real competition for iPhones -- and keeping Windows Phones at bay," Slashdot blogger yagu exclaimed over a fresh Peppermint Penguin, for example.

  • Desktop

    • Ubuntu-ready netbook moves to dual-core Atom
      System76 is shipping a new version of its Ubuntu Linux-ready Starling Netbook equipped with a dual-core Intel Atom N550 processor, starting at $384. Meanwhile the company has begun shipping to the U.K, and is contemplating developing a tablet PC.

    • Victory declared in Brazil over Windows XP
      Rumblings from Brazil suggest that the mighty Microsoft may have lost out in a landmark Windows licence row.

      A post on, said to be from Dr Roy Schestowitz, claims that a lowly consumer has gone to the small claims court in Brazil over not wanting to pay for a licence for Windows XP. And they've won.

    • Linux on the Lenovo S10-3s: Scorecard
      - PCLinuxOS 2010.10: The clear winner in this case. This was the only Linux distribution which loaded on the Lenovo S10-3s without any problem, and on which absolutely everything I have tested works - CPU, graphics, wired/wireless/bluetooth networking, touchpad (including buttons and tapping), camera, Fn-keys for brightness and sound, and everything else. This will be the distribution I will be primarily using on this netbook." rel="nofollow">Linux on the Lenovo S10-3s: Scorecard (Rap Sheet?)

  • Ballnux

  • Kernel Space

    • Running The Native ZFS Linux Kernel Module, Plus Benchmarks
      In August we delivered the news that Linux was soon to receive a native ZFS Linux kernel module. The Sun (now Oracle) ZFS file-system has long been sought after for Linux, though less now since Btrfs has emerged, but incompatibilities between the CDDL and GPL licenses have barred such support from entering the mainline Linux kernel. There has been ZFS-FUSE to run the ZFS file-system in user-space, but it comes with slow performance. There has also been work by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories in porting ZFS to Linux as a native Linux kernel module. This LLNL ZFS work though is incomplete but still progressing due to a US Department of Energy contract. It is though via this work that developers in India at KQ Infotech have made working a Linux kernel module for ZFS. In this article are some new details on KQ Infotech's ZFS kernel module and our results from testing out the ZFS file-system on Linux.


      In terms of our ZFS on Linux benchmarks, if you have desired this Sun-created file-system on Linux, hopefully it is not because of the performance expectations for this file-system. As these results illustrate, this ZFS file-system implementation for Linux is not superior to the Linux popular file-systems like EXT4, Btrfs, and XFS. There are a few areas where the ZFS Linux disk performance was competitive, but overall it was noticeably slower than the big three Linux file-systems in a common single disk configuration. That though is not to say ZFS on Linux will be useless as the performance is at least acceptable and clearly superior to that of ZFS-FUSE. More importantly, there are a number of technical merits to the ZFS file-system that makes it one of the most interesting file-systems around.

      When KQ Infotech releases these ZFS packages to the public in January and rebases them against a later version of ZFS/Zpool, we will publish more benchmarks.

    • New Benchmarks Of OpenSolaris, BSD & Linux
      Earlier today we put out benchmarks of ZFS on Linux via a native kernel module that will be made publicly available to bring this Sun/Oracle file-system over to more Linux users. Now though as a bonus we happen to have new benchmarks of the latest OpenSolaris-based distributions, including OpenSolaris, OpenIndiana, and Augustiner-Schweinshaxe, compared to PC-BSD, Fedora, and Ubuntu.


      PC-BSD 8.1 pulled out another win. This time it was with LZMA compression where it ran in front of the Linux operating systems and well in front of the OpenSolaris alternatives.

      There you have it, the performance of the latest OpenSolaris distributions against PC-BSD/FreeBSD and two of the most popular Linux distributions. The Fedora and Ubuntu operating systems won most of the tests, but there were a few leads for PC-BSD while the OpenSolaris operating systems just one won test (Local Adaptive Thresholding via GraphicsMagick) at least for our benchmarking selection and workload. If you are using an OpenSolaris-based operating system hopefully you are not using it for a performance critical environment but rather to take advantage of its technical features like DTrace, ZFS (though that is becoming moot with its availability on PC-BSD/FreeBSD and even Linux), etc.

    • A set of stable kernel updates

    • The kernel column #94 by Jon Masters
      This month saw the final release of kernel 2.6.36, and the closing of the following ‘merge window’ for new features to be merged into what will become the 2.6.37 kernel (more details about the latter in a moment). The 2.6.36 kernel features concurrency-managed workqueues, preliminary support for the fanotify mechanism discussed here in the past, final merging of the AppArmor security system used by some distributions for many years, and support for a new architecture, among many dozens of other significant improvements. The new kernel received patches from over 1,100 engineers for a total of nearly 11,000 changesets (collections of related changes to various kernel files) overall.

    • Graphics Stack

      • XvMC With iDCT Now Working On Gallium3D
        A month ago there was the surprising work done by Christian König to bring XvMC and VDPAU support to the open-source ATI Radeon "R600g" Gallium3D driver for the Radeon HD 2000/3000/4000/5000 series graphics cards. The XvMC state tracker with Gallium3D began working shortly thereafter for accelerating XvMC using shaders with this ATI Gallium3D driver, however, iDCT support was not implemented. Christian though has now added support for inverse discrete cosine transforms to this X-Video Motion Compensation code for Gallium3D.

      • No KMS? No Mesa? Run Wayland Off A Linux Framebuffer!
        Besides needing to get the various tool-kits and other libraries ported to run atop the Wayland Display Server, another requirement limiting the adoption of this X11 Server alternative so far has been the specialized graphics requirements. From the beginning, Wayland was designed for GPU drivers that support kernel mode-setting (KMS), Graphics Execution Manager (GEM) buffers, and OpenGL ES, among some other smaller requirements. Originally only the Intel Linux driver would work, but since then the various branches needed to support Wayland have been merged to their mainline code-bases and it's possible to run Wayland with the open-source ATI Radeon and Nouveau drivers too. But those using the proprietary ATI or NVIDIA drivers have not been able to run Wayland nor those people utilizing the VESA driver or any of the other obscure graphics drivers that lack any of the needed GPU driver capabilities. This though has now changed as it's been proved possible that Wayland in fact can run off a Linux frame-buffer.

      • Benchmarks Of AMD's Newest Gallium3D Graphics Driver
        While we have already published two exciting articles today looking at the native ZFS file-system for Linux and also new benchmarks of OpenSolaris / BSD / Linux, here's a third article for the day. We might as well test our new Phoronix serving infrastructure while already having excess load today due to Slashdot, etc (it's good practice for, so here are benchmarks of AMD's newest Gallium3D driver compared to their classic open-source Mesa driver and also their proprietary Catalyst driver. Oh yeah, a fourth article is also in the queue for today or the very near future when AMD has a major Linux driver announcement to share.


        The performance though of these open-source ATI drivers is still years behind that of the Catalyst driver, but at least there is open-source support and for these less demanding games, it is able to produce a playable experience. With the Gallium3D-based drivers there are also other interesting possibilities that emerge with state trackers, XvMC video playback via shaders, etc. It will also be exciting if the Radeon HD 6000 series open-source acceleration support is built upon the success of this R600g driver. The Gallium3D driver performance will also improve once the latest color tiling and page-flipping patches have been merged, which should happen soon. Another article is planned at this time looking at the Radeon page-flipping performance as it may bring sizable performance boosts.

      • Wayland License Changing To LGPLv2
        Wayland has experienced a surge in development activities from new developers since it was announced Ubuntu will deploy the Wayland Display Server with patches coming in from various developers that address issues from bugs to letting it run on a Linux frame-buffer. Wayland up to this point has been licensed under the MIT / GPLv2 code licenses (depending upon the component), but Kristian Høgsberg has now decided to change the licenses before it's too late and complicated.

      • Open-Source AMD Fusion Driver For Ontario Released
        While we are still waiting on open-source support for the AMD Radeon HD 6000 series of graphics cards that were released last month, today AMD is releasing their initial open-source support for their Ontario hardware. AMD's Ontario is their low-powered Fusion processor designed for use in netbooks and other such devices. This dual-core chip with integrated Radeon HD 6250 graphics is only starting to ship now, but the open-source support for this first AMD Fusion chip is now available to Linux users, complete with 3D support.

      • Wayland VS X - Some Perspectives
        As with most things only time will tell if Ubuntu's (and Fedora's) transition to Wayland will be a success (or a death sentence) for the respective distros. In the mean time want to give Wayland a try? Well, currently it is barely functional and only works on a limited amount of hardware. That means, in addition to all the concerns above, a good deal of time, funding, and man power is going to have to be invested in Wayland just to make the project functional for a desktop operating system such as Ubuntu.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • ARM for Kubuntu and KDE
        Recently the Kubuntu developers received a donation of some terrific Genesi Efika MX devices featuring an ARM CPU.

        Some of them will be devoted to Kubuntu related porting work with regards to the ARM CPU, and others to continuously test build KDE trunk. Getting a KDE buildbot for ARM is very important because most KDE developers do not have access to an ARM device (or they would not want to test building their software on it, because it would be tediously slow), so we try our best to provide KDE the means to get notified about changes that are not compatible with the ARM architecture, so that it can be fixed.

      • Join the KDE translation team
        This is a reminder that the various KDE Translation teams are always looking for new contributors, so if you always wanted to contribute to KDE but did not know how to do it, this is your chance, join the KDE Translation team!

      • Presentation by Sebastian Kügler

        Sebastian Kügler, Release Manager of KDE and member of the Board holds a lecture about managing a reference community for the Commons such as the KDE. He will also tackle how to manage code contributed by big communities and how to manage a community itself.

      • How a “Welded-to KDE3.5 User” Began a Move to KDE4.4 - Part 1
        In this first part of a two part guest editorial and tutorial Dr. Tony Young (an Australian Mycologist by trade) shares his trials, tribulations, successes and disappointments in working with the new version of KDE. As a long time KDE 3.5 user he decided to see if he could get KDE 4.4 to look, feel and work the way he was used to KDE 3.5 working. Hang on everyone, its going to be a bumpy ride..

      • Bangarang – What the dilly yo?!

        Anyway, it’s been a while since I last blogged about Bangarang development so I figured I should share a little (or long) insight into what to expect for the 2.0 release with a few screenshots to help explain.

        Before anything else, I need to mention that Stefan has been totally kick-ass with just about everything he’s tackled. He is the only other longer term coding contributor to the project and there’s absolutely no way I could list all the stuff he’s worked on, but I’ll mention a few: Lot’s of work on DVD support including subtitles, angles and audio channel support; Excellent star rating renderer that’s used all through out Bangarang; Shortcuts support and configuration; Filter support on the media list and playlist views; Tons of bug fixing, improvements and cleanup.

      • KDE Part of Google Code-in
        This year, KDE is delighted to have been chosen to take part in Google Code-in. Following the success of Google Summer of Code in previous years, Google Code-in is a new program to encourage pre-university students to contribute to free software communities. Like other participating organizations, KDE has provided a list of tasks that can be completed in short timeframes ranging from a few hours to a few days, whether they be simple bug fixes, documentation tasks or outreach projects and more.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Tiled View: New Gnome Shell Mockup
        A new Gnome Shell mockup shows how the old Gnome Shell behavior (which is actually still the current Gnome Shell behavior) and the new Overview-Layout Gnome Shell branch can work together...

      • GNOME Control Center in GNOME 3
        Last week I sat down and implemented some of the gnome-control-center mockups for GNOME 3.

      • 10 Cool Screenlets for Ubuntu GNOME
        If you haven't used Screenlets in your Ubuntu yet, it is an excellent application to experiment with. And hundreds of useful third party user contributed screenlets are available for free. Here is a quick review of some of the best user contributed screenlets available for Ubuntu GNOME.

      • Shell’s Tiled View
        Not so long after Florian cleaned up the overview-relayout branch to accommodate the visual tweaks initiated by Allan, here we are again to move the target a bit (engineers love me).

        Initially shell exposed two views. A tiled view for an overview of your workspaces (something we can’t expect majority will want to manage). A linear view that presents application windows for easier switching (and dropping documents on). Exposing the mode switch to the user wasn’t good design and even if we presented the tiled view only when rearranging windows or selections of windows across workspaces, it felt like too much of an odd case.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • FreeDiams v0.5.0 released
        FreeDiams is a drug prescribing assistant that manages drug-drug interactions, patients allergies, intolerances and high quality printing. FreeDiams is a free and open source application, GPLv3.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

    • Red Hat Family

      • The most important updates in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6

      • Red Hat Near the 50 Day
        New York, November 22nd ( - Shares of Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT) closed the trading day at $41.87 close to its 50 day moving average currently set at $40.62. Red Hat's price action is just above this important support level translating into a trading opportunity.

      • Fedora

        • switching from Mandriva to Fedora
          Well... all good things must come to an end, and so -- very regretfully, I should add -- I parted ways with Mandriva. I'd been a Mandrake user since '99 or so, and a die hard fan and evangelist since not long after.

          Today I switched my work(horse) desktop from MDV to Fedora. The upgrade went amazingly smoothly, partly because ever since I started using git, almost everything I have except "documents" is in git; all I really did was restore my repos, my mail, and a "workdata" directory that contained all the ODT/ODP/ODS junk. A few commands here and there and it's all set. Pidgin, FF, TB, all setup exactly as they were before.

    • Debian Family

      • Useful but Unknown Unix Tools: netsele netselect

      • Brief Updates: Firebird 3, Iceweasel 4.0 beta, google code-in and DPL interview

        * An initial development snapshot of Firebird 3 is packaged and available from Debian Experimental. More information.

      • Will Debian 6 be Easier to Install?
        A new Debian release is coming… someday. One of the key components of the Debian 6.0 release, also known as “Squeeze,” is the Debian Installer, which entered beta at the end of October. Debian’s installer has improved, but still needs a bit of work before it can be considered user-friendly.

        Long before there was an Ubuntu, or even a Stormix, I was a devout Slackware user and kept hearing wonderful things about Debian. But almost every person I talked to cautioned that the installation was painful. As it turns out, it wasn’t that bad — at least, I didn’t find it any harder to install than Slackware and I was quickly sold on APT.

      • Bye Bye Ubuntu… Hello Debian
        Sorry for the delay in posting everyone. I needed a little time off to make an informed choice as to which distro I was going to switch over to. I haven’t been happy with Canonical in the past few months. Its pushing forward with Unity, Ubuntu One, and other such proprietary products.

      • How Ubuntu builds up on Debian
        I have been asked how Ubuntu relates to Debian, and how packages flow from one to the other. So here’s my attempt at clarifying the whole picture.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Ubuntu Cloud Screencasts Volunteers
          Interested in Ubuntu cloud community ? Want to help ? Awesome! here is your chance

        • An Interview With zkriesse
          This week we have zkriesse in the interview series. In my opinion, zkriesse is one of the Ubuntu community members who may not be well known, but certainly keeps things going as smoothly as possible. He’s involved in a great number of things, including the Ubuntu Beginners Team.

        • Patch Pilot Programme starts today
          we all know how important code review is for Ubuntu. It's not only about spotting mistakes, but also about teaching new contributors how things are done. There's always been busier times when we fell back in terms of code review and times where we did better.

        • Weekly Ubuntu Cloud Meeting And Q+A
          As many of you will know, Ahmed Kamal is one of the horsemen, and he is focusing his community building skills on creating a rocking Ubuntu Cloud community. We have awesome technology for harnessing public, private. and personal clouds, and Ahmed is here to build a community of both users and contributors.

        • Planet Ubuntu Facelift
          Planet Ubuntu has had a facelift and its taken on the same theme as the other Ubuntu properties. Looks great!

        • Kinect + Ubuntu = Jedi. Obviously.
          YouTuber yankeyan shows off real-time lightsaber (Yes, lightsaber) tracking and rendering using nothing more than Kinect and Ubuntu.

        • Debian Project News - November 22nd, 2010
          Release Manager Neil McGovern gave an update for the upcoming Debian 6.0 "Squeeze" stable release. As "Squeeze is almost in its final form" he calls for upgrade and installation tests (see also the separate announcement for that). He also notes that even (experienced) users who have no systems available for installation or upgrade tests can help by triaging installation reports and upgrade reports, or propose text for the release notes.

        • Ubuntu Software Center Slowly Turning Around, Adds More Paid Applications!
          Ubuntu Software Center is getting updates almost everyday. The latest one brings in more paid applications into Ubuntu Software Center. And it's good to see Canonical slowly waking up to one of its most important revenue making opportunity.

        • Canonical's new partnerships for Ubuntu: A challenge in the enterprise space?
          Shortly after Ubuntu 10.10 was released Canonical managed to shore up some pretty hefty partners. Seven new partnerships, to be exact, and these sponsors all seem to point to one thing: enterprise. When you read through the list (patience now) it becomes very clear that Canonical has yet another trick up its sleeve.

        • Ubuntu's Shuttleworth lands luxury NY crash pad
          Canonical owner and former cosmonaut Mark Shuttleworth has found a new landing pad.

          Ubuntu king Mark Shuttleworth has bought a condo in Manhattan's Superior Ink building for a record $31.5m, according to the New York Post.

          Other residents of Superior Ink – a 68-unit, 17-floor building – include actress Hilary Swank, fashion designer Marc Jacobs, and Showtime CEO Matthew Blank.

        • The Up-and-Comer
          Owners include [...] South African Internet billionaire Mark Shuttleworth

        • Ubuntu Core Developer Team Gets New Members
          Emmet HIKORY has announced on the Ubuntu Developers mailing list that Ken VanDine (kenvandine) and Alessio Treglia (quadrispro) have become one of the Ubuntu Core Developers.

        • How Ubuntu Transformed From A Project To A Product [Updated]
          Ubuntu is one of the much loved GNU/Linux based operating systems. It has created a cult around it. But what is Ubuntu -- a product or a project?

        • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Cortex-A9 SoC targets 1080p-ready Android devices
      Amlogic has begun sampling a new system-on-chip (SoC) that combines a 1GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor, an ARM Mali-400 GPU, and Amlogic's proprietary HD video decoding engine. Targeting next-generation consumer electronics running Linux and Android 2.2, the AML8726-M supports full 1080p HD video capabilities and a range of connectivity options, says the company.

    • SOHO NAS servers tap 1.6GHz Armada 300 SoCs

      The TS-x19P+ NAS servers provide file sharing, backup, and UPnP-compliant media streaming between PCs, Macs, Linux, and UNIX-based computers, says Qnap. The devices ship with version 3.3 of Qnap's Linux-based Turbo NAS firmware (see farther below).

    • Phones

      • Palm webOS 'Enyo' framework paves the way for tablets and larger phones (video)
        Don't expect HP's webOS 2.0 to be tied to an HVGA screen for long -- come "early 2011," the company will introduce a number of "really interesting new form factors," including tablets and phones. That was the message driven home at Palm's Developer Day this year, according to PreCentral's Dieter Bohn, and the software that's going to make that shift possible is a little something called Enyo.

      • Is Mobile Making Linux Menus Obsolete?
        Are menus starting to disappear from the Linux desktop? A survey of the alternatives suggests that, at the very least, menus seem to be evolving out of recognition in response to modern trends, particularly the effort to make workstation and laptop desktops more like mobile interfaces. Ask usability experts, and the unexamined assumption is that the classic menu needs improvement -- although whether users feel that way seems less clear.

        Ten years ago, desktop menus were straightforward. They listed most of the desktop applications, with sub-menus spilling across the desktop to help organize them. The most extreme case is the famous -- or infamous -- Debian menu, which descends four or five sub-levels, but contains every application installed on the system, if only you had the patience to keep searching. The Debian menu remains popular with some users today, including me.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Jolicloud Netbook Goes On Sale At Amazon For €£280
        French company Jolicloud has finally started to sell its Jolibook netbook courtesy of Amazon but direct from Taiwanese manufacturer Vye.

        Amazon says that the device will usually be delivered (for free) within one to three months which might cause some potential customers to think twice.

      • Chrome OS netbooks postponed until 2011
        Google CEO Eric Schmidt revealed that the company's cloud-oriented Chrome Operating System for netbooks has been delayed for several months. Google won't say why, but analysts speculate that the Linux-based Chrome OS may have been delayed due to the huge success of the search giant's own Android OS as well as the Apple iPad.

    • Tablets

      • Worst gadget ever? Ars reviews a $99 Android tablet
        Usage time is even worse. We "used" the device as best we could for as long as possible, and the battery usually only gave us an hour or less before dying out. (Yes, there were times when we got less than an hour from a full charge.) This was usually with WiFi on, though as we noted in the Usage section, just because the device says WiFi is on doesn't necessarily mean it's true.

      • Black Friday 2010 Linux Tablet Deals
        One item on my shopping list this holiday season is a Linux based tablet device. I decided to check the Sunday ad section and put together this list of Black Friday 2010 Linux Tablet Deals.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Guest Post: How the Cloud is Driving Application Integration Up the Stack

    Microsoft defined the building blocks for 90% of all presentations people create in a bad way (Powerpoint, anyone?), but that is not my point. My point is Microsoft focused on the tools customers need to solve problems because that is what they sell. The less of a standard there is, the better the conventional software market works. Enter the Cloud. Fantastic! All of a sudden standard data makes sense for vendors.

  • Community is Not Crowdsourcing
    I was watching a presentation about business intelligence by one of my fellow faculty members the other day, and as one of his examples for the crowd of undergrads, he cited last year's developer contest conducted by Netflix to build a better algorithm for their users' movie preferences.

    The contest, long over, awarded US$1 million to the team that could "substantially improve the accuracy of predictions about how much someone is going to enjoy a movie based on their movie preferences."

  • Telling the open source story - Part 1
    As open source software becomes more mainstream, it's easy to forget how amazing it is. Countless individuals, donating their time and sharing their brainpower, work to build a shared infrastructure on which the world's computing is done. Amazing. Even more amazing, in survey after survey, the big reason open source contributors give for their participation is that it's "fun." Even more amazing than that is the rate at which this technology improves because people are having fun building it.

  • 2010 Packt Open Source Award winners announced
    Packt Publishing has announced the winners of its inaugural Open Source Awards. According to Packt, the aim of the contest is to "encourage, support, recognize and reward Open Source projects". Awards were presented in six software categories: Open Source CMS, Hall of Fame CMS, Most Promising Open Source Project, Open Source JavaScript Libraries, Open Source E-Commerce Applications and Open Source Graphics Software.

  • Open source: It’s not all or nothing
    Too often open source software is portrayed as an all-or-nothing option. In reality a mixed environment is the first step to a successful migration.

    Free and open source software is famously versatile. Think of just about any piece of software your business uses and chances are there is an open source alternative. And if there isn’t then there probably will be within the year.

    Being so versatile open source software can be used in almost any situation, from desktop applications to cloud computing servers, which can often entice businesses down the path of a wholesale open source migration. The savings, flexibility and versatility of open source software are simply too good to miss out on. There are, however, risks in suddenly switching all of your systems over to open source software and a gradual, mixed-environment approach is often a better way to go about it.

  • LibreOffice/OOo

    • FI: Scientific study into migration proves value of open source
      Finland's ministry of Justice, its state legal aid offices, the court houses, the probation services and its prisons offer scientific proof of the advantages of open source and open standards. Martti Karjalainen, who studied one of Europe's largest open source transitions, concludes that a large-scale migration to an open source office suite is feasible, resulting in substantial benefits, including cost savings.

    • Steering Committee starts blog
      to support our open and transparent approach, the Steering Committee of The Document Foundation has opened up a blog at

      It will be used by members of the Steering Committee and their deputies to share news and insight about our progress with the Foundation and about the future developments of LibreOffice. The blog enhances the public Steering Committee phone conferences [1], the public marketing phone conferences [2] as well as the public Steering Committee discussion list [3] and makes the work of the Foundation even more transparent.

  • Web Browsers

    • Why browser speed benchmarks are meaningless

      Anyhow, Javascript benchmarking is all nice and well, but it has nothing to do with reality. For all practical purposes, you can have guinea pig powering your browser. Stop wasting your time worrying and caring about nonsense and focus on important things, like browser W3C compliance and stability. Now, you're talking business.

    • Mozilla

      • learn about Chinese Internet at the Sinica Podcast
        For those of you on Planet Mozilla who are interested in learning more about China and trends in the Chinese Internet, I’d like to recommend the Sinica Podcast. There’s a lot of great websites out there covering China but not many good podcasts. This one is the best, imo (at least in English.)

      • Firefox 4 Beta 7 – how it should look on Linux
        Yesterday we mentioned that Firefox 4 Beta for Linux now boasts a ‘menu’ button rather than a menu bar. Whilst it’s undoubtedly welcome it doesn’t look as good as it could – nor should.

      • Design Jam London #1: 50 design enthusiasts. 9 hours. 1 challenge.
        Design Jams challenge teams to solve a design challenge within a day. All in all come to think of it – it is a pretty intense time-frame within a highly concentrated environment! The general format of the day comprised of:

        * a welcome talk outlining the format of the day * an introduction of the days design challenge topic * team formation with a maximum of five (5) per team * x3 design phases & x2 presentation slots

      • Mozilla – Putting On The Brave Face As Decline Sets In?
        The big outlets are reporting that the revenues to Mozilla were up for 2009, 34 percent higher than for the 2008 year. The chairman for Mozilla has stated that Mozilla is an underdog, however, possibly to soften the blows when the results for 2010 come in.

  • Education

  • Healthcare

  • BSD

    • Raiders of the lost OpenBSD
      When looking at OpenBSD and evaluating it, I think it's important to keep in mind what the project's goals are. This isn't a project trying to make a great desktop OS (though I have talked with people who happily use OpenBSD on their desktops) and it's not making the most powerful server system. The OpenBSD team is interested in producing correct, secure code and they do that. Fortunately their work boils over into other areas of the open source world -- OpenSSH being an excellent example. The operating system is small and simple, resulting in low-resource requirements and a responsive environment. I don't think that many people would accuse OpenBSD of being intuitive, but the community does have sound documentation and the project's processes are very open. These characteristics make OpenBSD not only a good firewall or server, but also a great teaching tool. If you're the sort of person who enjoys building their system from the ground up, OpenBSD is a suitable place to begin. My only complaint while trying out the new release was in regards to hardware. I wasn't able to get OpenBSD running in VirtualBox, nor on my laptop and, so far, I don't have sound on my desktop. Otherwise it was a good adventure and I applaud the developers for producing another solid release.

    • NetBSD 5.1 feature update arrives
      The NetBSD development team has announced the arrival of the first feature update to the 5.0 release branch, NetBSD 5.1. According to the developers, the major release includes a variety of critical security and bug fixes, as well as better hardware support and new features.


  • Project Releases

  • Government

    • Open Source and the Federal Budget Squeeze, Part 2
      "The United States government is the world's largest purchaser of information technology, with an annual IT budget over (US)$80 billion," Federal CIO Vivek Kundra told the World Economic Forum in early November.

      Just fractions of that amount are attractive to vendors, for whatever IT specialty they offer -- including open source solutions.

      "We don't really focus on an overall market figure, since open source can't be described as a monolithic entity. We prefer to emphasize the value it creates in a specific application," Gunnar Hellekson, chief technology strategist at Red Hat (NYSE: RHT), told LinuxInsider.

  • Licensing

    • Fusion Garage GPL update
      Fusion Garage have put up a website containing the source code for the kernel, bootloader and some miscellaneous tools (including their recovery system). As far as I can tell (by inspection - I haven't tried building binaries) it corresponds to what they were distributing, which is excellent. On the other hand, that's all the source they've provided.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • MEPs to twitter their way into new communication
      People are increasingly using social media as a way to communicate with the members of the European Parliament and MEPs seem convinced that Twitter is the way to go, a new public affairs survey has found.

    • E-petitions website shelved

      David Cameron often speaks about openness in government, but a Downing Street innovation to encourage greater public participation has been quietly shelved. Officially, the infamous No 10 e-petitions website, launched by the previous government, is under review.

      Senior Whitehall sources insist it will not return, however, partly because of the negative publicity it generated. Online petitions were used to embarrass Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Shortly after the site's debut, 1.6 million people signed a petition demanding an end to road pricing, and nearly 100,000 used it to demand Brown's resignation in April last year. "[Cameron's communications chief] Andy Coulson does not want to see a repeat of that," said a Whitehall insider.

    • Coalition shelves plans to protect public sector whistleblowers
      The coalition appears to have shelved plans to introduce new protections for public sector workers who blow the whistle on dangerous, corrupt or incompetent practices, the Guardian has learned.

      A promise to protect whistleblowers in the public sector was one of a series in the coalition's plans designed to make government more transparent. It follows concerns that people have been too afraid to speak up when things are going wrong in government, schools, hospitals or social services, for fear of later being penalised.

    • The British National Bibliography – wow! Try it out
      And very importantly we now know what the scale is. Let’s say we have 20 million possible books (a very rough guess as books in major libraries are counted with a tape measure). A gigatriple. This shouldn’t frighten us today. The main thing is that the web is scaling up for RDF and there are many potential suppliers and providers.

    • Open Data

      • LUCERO : The Open University + JISC Open Data; mouthwatering

        In short, The OU (with the active and welcome involvement of JISC) is exposing its data (which could be anything, but think staff details, courses, research interests, I think) as Linked Open Data. I’ll post some snippets and then say why I think this is critical.

      • The British Library releases 3 million bibliographic records into the public domain using CC0
        The British Library has released three million records from the British National Bibliography into the public domain using the CC0 public domain waiver. The British National Bibliography contains data on publishing activity from the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland since 1950. JISC OpenBibliography has made this set downloadable at CKAN; in addition, the Internet Archive also offers the data for download.

      • Free Data Services

        As part of its work to open its metadata to wider use beyond the traditional library community, the British Library is making copies of its main catalogue and British National Bibliography datasets available for research purposes. Files are initially being made available in RDF/XML (see sample) and are distributed under a Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication licence.

    • Open Access/Content

      • How open access to research benefits us all
        There are two distinct paths followed to provide open access, though they do occasionally intersect. The “Green” road is where authors provide access to their published work through self-archiving (on a personal website or a public or institutional repository). This path is readily accepted by a larger number of academics, because it enables them to publish in many highly prestigious journals that are not open access, while also providing their work to the general public.

        According to a study by Muluken W. Alemayehu, at the University of Oslo 32 out of 45 professors surveyed “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that the scholarly research results from the university should be available to the public in an institutional repository, 12 were “neutral” on the idea, and only one disagreed. Of the 45, 31 were previously unaware of the concept of an institutional repository, and of those 22 were from among the 32 who agreed with making the research available there. Five respondents were interested in adding other types of content to the repository but not their scholarly articles, citing conflicts with the publishers and other concerns.

      • Considering the benefits of Open Access
        Open Access is an aspect of free culture that I have not fully evaluated yet. I want to be able to take a position on the subject, should the question come up, so this week I’m making a concerted effort to understand what Open Access (capitalized) is, what its major tenets and who its major supporters are. I don’t want to take a knee-jerk reaction to it and say “I think free software is ethical, therefore open access is ethical.” That’s a little short-sighted. Furthermore, although I agree with certain arguments from open access immediately (scientists should make their data and source code available), I certainly don’t want to ally myself with a movement that I don’t understand. People could end up thinking I want to take away their jobs, and that might not be true.


  • Oxford Academics: Web Not To Blame For Newspapers’ Slide
    The book challenges the conventional wisdom that the internet has undermined business models by claiming there is no correlation between internet usage and newspaper profitability.

    The work, commissioned by the Oxford-based Reuters (NYSE: TRI) Institute for the Study of Journalism, examined newspaper industries in several countries, including the US, UK, Germany and Brazil.

  • Putting paid to bribery
    Our lead story this week, on Dentons suing its former India head Gauri Advani following the allegation of a bribe (something she strongly denies) and costs of a subsequent court case, is a preview of the future for law firms.

  • Turkey rejects EU's Cyprus offer to open talks on new chapters
    Despite mounting pressure from the European Union to open its ports and airports to the Greek half of Cyprus, Turkey will not be doing so until a settlement on the divided island is reached, a senior state official has said.

    Turkey strongly believes that the EU has not been constructive in its efforts for a permanent solution on the island and has rejected out of hand a proposal to open two more chapters of negotiation if Turkey complies with the EU's demand. Turkey started its accession talks in 2005, but progress has been slow, largely because of the dispute over Cyprus. Turkey refuses to open its ports and airports to traffic from Greek Cyprus, urging the EU to first end the isolation of Turkish Cyprus as it promised back in 2004, following a referendum on a UN reunification plan in both parts of the island -- accepted by the Turkish Cypriots and rejected by the Greek Cypriots.

  • Science

    • Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novelist Tells the Tale of the World’s First Computer
      Who invented the computer? For anyone who has made a pilgrimage to the University of Pennsylvania and seen the shrine to the ENIAC, the answer may seem obvious: John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert Jr., who led Penn’s engineering team in the 1940s. As it says on the plaque, the giant machine made of 17,468 vacuum tubes was the “first electronic large-scale, general-purpose digital computer.” But notice all the qualifying adjectives. Does this mean there was a smaller digital computer that actually came first?

    • Europe's new astronauts graduate
      The European Space Agency's (Esa) new intake of astronauts have completed their basic training.

      The six individuals - two Italians, a German, a Frenchman, a Dane and a Briton - received their graduation certificates at a special ceremony in Cologne, Germany.

      They are the first group of candidates Esa has put through a training programme of its own design.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • President Obama, After Traveling With Naked Scanner CEO, Defends Naked Scans
      No surprise there. Of course, what he didn't mention is that he just got done traveling with the CEO of OSI, the parent company of Rapiscan, the makers of the main naked scanner that is being purchased and put into all these airports. Apparently, OSI CEO, Deepak Chopra (no, not the new agey guy), "was selected to accompany US President, Barack Obama, to Mumbai and attended the US India Business Entrepreneurship meeting..."

    • President Obama: TSA Pat-Downs “An Inconvenience For All Of Us,” Except Me
      With all the “junk-touching” and pat-downs required by new TSA rules that arrived just in time for the holidays, it was inevitable that at the first possible opportunity some intrepid reporter would bring the subject up to President Obama. Taking questions at a NATO summit in Lisbon, Portugal, the President attempted to explain the logic behind the pat-downs, but prefaced his reasoning with a disclaimer that he has never and will likely never experience such a thing.

    • TSA has met the enemy — and they are us
      How did an agency created to protect the public become the target of so much public scorn?

      After nine years of funneling travelers into ever longer lines with orders to have shoes off, sippy cups empty and laptops out for inspection, the most surprising thing about increasingly heated frustration with the federal Transportation Security Administration may be that it took so long to boil over.

    • Scientist: X-ray scanners deliver “20 times the average dose that is typically quoted by TSA.”
      U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, a scientist and the Chairman of the House Select Intelligence Oversight Panel, says the "TSA's current obsession with fielding body imaging technology is misguided, counterproductive, and potentially dangerous."

    • TSA's double standard
      Late last week, the Transportation Security Administration, bowing to controversy and the threat of lawsuits, ruled that airline pilots will no longer be subject to the backscatter body scanners and invasive pat-downs at TSA airport checkpoints.

      For pilots like myself this is good news, though at least for the time being we remain subject to the rest of the checkpoint inspection, including the X-raying of luggage and the metal detector walk-through. Eventually, we are told, the implementation of so-called CrewPASS will allow us to skirt the checkpoint more or less entirely.

      Not everybody agrees that air crews deserve this special treatment. That's not an unreasonable point of view, and I don't disagree with it, necessarily. As security experts like Bruce Schneier point out, if you are going to screen at all, it is important to screen everybody, lest the system become overly complicated and prone to exploitable loopholes.

    • WikiLeaks Announces Release 7x the Size of the Iraq War Logs
      WikiLeaks has announced an important release on its Twitter account, claiming it’ll be seven times bigger than the Iraq war logs, which are widely considered to be the biggest military leak in history.

      “Next release is 7x the size of the Iraq War Logs. intense pressure over it for months. Keep us strong” was the message posted to the Wikileaks Twitter account earlier today.

      The message was followed by an even bolder statement two hours later: “The coming months will see a new world, where global history is redefined.”

    • Paul Chambers has decided today to proceed with High Court challenge
      Our client Paul Chambers has decided today to proceed with a High Court challenge to his conviction under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003. Paul was convicted on 10 May 2010 by Doncaster Magistrates’ Court and his appeal was turned down by Doncaster Crown Court on 11 November 2010.

    • San Diego Airport Says Recording TSA Gropings Is An Arrestible Offense?
      We already covered the guy who was arrested after stripping down for the TSA, highlighting how one of the charges was his failure to complete the security procedure (after stripping down, he pointed out there was no need for a pat down...). However, there was a second charge that was even more troubling that actually deserves a separate post, which is that he was also charged with "illegally recording the San Diego Airport Authority."

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Carbon emissions set to be highest in history
      Emissions of man-made carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are roaring ahead again after a smaller-than-expected dip due to the worldwide recession. Scientists are forecasting that CO2 emissions from burning coal, oil and gas will reach their highest in history this year.

      Levels of the man-made greenhouse gas being dumped into the atmosphere have never been higher and are once again accelerating. Scientists have revised their figures on global CO2 emissions, showing that levels fell by just 1.3 per cent in 2009 – less than half of what was expected. This year they are likely to increase by more than 3 per cent, greater than the average annual increase for the last decade.

  • Finance

    • If I Were a Billionaire...
      If I was a billionaire, I wouldn’t believe what I’m about to write. Firstly, because my training, and especially my experience of getting richer in a growth based economy would have taught me that these ‘perfect storms’ when resource/financial bottlenecks supposedly loomed, historically worked out to be opportunities that spiked my digital wealth and incremental social power. Secondly, if I were a billionaire I wouldn’t believe what Im about to write because all my peers, advisors and friends would tell me that it's caca. And lastly I wouldn’t believe what Im about to write as the implications would be too threatening, at least on the surface, to comprehend let alone integrate into my world view. All the same, if I were a billionaire, based on my understanding of our particular juncture of history, likely on the verge of transitioning away from marker claims back to real capital, here is what I would do....

    • What $200,000 in Student Debt Looks Like
      The average 2009 college grad had $24,000 in student loan debt. But in today's debt-wracked world, some have it much worse. Meet one of the outliers: 23 years old, more than $200,000 in student loans, begging for help.

    • ALBA trade office opens in Havana
      “Based on the daily knowledge of our needs, we can speed up exchanges between our countries,” Gracia said.

    • Corporate Welfare
      Corporate welfare is a term describing a government's bestowal of money grants, tax breaks, or other special favorable treatment on corporations or selected corporations.

      The term compares corporate subsidies and welfare payments to the poor, and implies that corporations are much less needy of such treatment than the poor.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Lessons to Be Learned From Paulo Freire as Education Is Being Taken Over by the Mega Rich
      At a time when memory is being erased and the political relevance of education is dismissed in the language of measurement and quantification, it is all the more important to remember the legacy and work of Paulo Freire. Freire is one of the most important educators of the 20th century and is considered one of the most important theorists of "critical pedagogy" - the educational movement guided by both passion and principle to help students develop a consciousness of freedom, recognize authoritarian tendencies, empower the imagination, connect knowledge and truth to power and learn to read both the word and the world as part of a broader struggle for agency, justice and democracy. His groundbreaking book, "Pedagogy of the Oppressed," has sold more than a million copies and is deservedly being commemorated this year - the 40th anniversary of its appearance in English translation - after having exerted its influence over generations of teachers and intellectuals in the Americas and abroad.

      Since the 1980s, there have been too few intellectuals on the North American educational scene who have matched Freire's theoretical rigor, civic courage and sense of moral responsibility. And his example is more important now than ever before: with institutions of public and higher education increasingly under siege by a host of neoliberal and conservative forces, it is imperative for educators to acknowledge Freire's understanding of the empowering and democratic potential of education. Critical pedagogy currently offers the very best, perhaps the only, chance for young people to develop and assert a sense of their rights and responsibilities to participate in governing, and not simply being governed by prevailing ideological and material forces.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • BBC's Panorama claims Islamic schools teach antisemitism and homophobia
      Children in Islamic schools are being taught antisemitic and homophobic views from textbooks, the BBC's Panorama will claim tonight.

    • Data Security And Privacy Laws Missing In India
      Have you ever noticed that projects like Aadhar, national intelligence grid (Natgrid), crime and criminal tracking network & systems (CCTNS), etc have some common features? The first is that they all have great potentials to violate civil liberties of Indians like privacy rights. Another common feature is that all of them are projects related to law and order and intelligence gathering, irrespective what government claims, thus promoting the e-surveillance capabilities of India.

    • EFF Discusses the Future of Internet Privacy at UN Internet Governance Forum

      EFF recently participated in the UN Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Vilnius, Lithuania, advocating for the respect of citizens' fundamental rights online. The IGF is an experimental and influential multi-stakeholder policy forum convened by the United Nations Secretary General in 2006, where civil society, industry, the technical community, and decision makers discuss key aspects of Internet governance issues on an equal footing. The informal nature of the IGF is designed to promote the full and frank exchange of ideas on important Internet policy issues without the knock-down-and-dragged-out conflicts that characterize other international fora where recommendations or binding treaties are made. This year, IGF brought together over 1,400 participants from around the world. Videos and transcripts of all the official meetings are now online and make for interesting viewing.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Vaizey insists he favours net neutrality – and agrees with Berners-Lee

      The communications minister, Ed Vaizey, has insisted to the Guardian that he is in favour of net neutrality, and that his speech on the subject has been misinterpreted.

      Ed Vaizey, who last week gave a speech on the internet and regulation (PDF) to an FT conference, told the Guardian that "I say 'don't block input' [to the internet]. It's my first principle." He added that he thought people who criticise him for abandoning net neutrality haven't read his speech: "I say the same as Berners-Lee."

    • The rights and wrongs of digital books
      There is one bright spot in all this, though. Amazon's business model offers us the clearest possible demonstration that we should not allow the law to treat the products of creative expression in the same way as we do physical property.

      The idea of "intellectual property" deliberately conflates the two and allows politicians to pretend that laws about physical property should extend to digital downloads. We need to challenge this unjustifiable elision if we are to think seriously about copyright and business models in the age of electronics.

    • Cooks Source Magazine Ignites Copyright Firestorm; Magazine Ceases Publishing
      The saga of Illadore (Monica Gaudio) and Cooks Source Magazine (Judith Griggs) draws to an end, with the closing of Cooks Source Magazine.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • The State of The Music Industry and the Delegitimization of Artists: Pt. 6 - The Hills are Alive…
        Now for the glass half full perspective. Music is special. It speaks to us all. We all want to hear a great song and share the ones we love with others. We are fans of music and we value it. We spend money and/or time hunting for and listening to music that moves us.

        Despite all the challenges, mischaracterizations and confusion, the music industry is finally beginning to reach its full potential.

        More people in the world are choosing to hear and engage with more music and more artists then ever before. More music is being used in the ever-expanding video outlets of TV, Webisodes, Films, YouTube, Video Games and other User Generated Content websites.

      • MP3Tunes safe harbor challenge a legal test for cloud storage
        A key test of digital copyright law will soon be heard in New York federal court over whether online music storage services and search engines can be held liable when users upload copyrighted material. The outcome could have far-reaching implications for so-called “cloud-based” services, which allow users to store their content on remote servers accessible via the Internet.

        Among the key issues is the “safe harbor” provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which protects Internet service providers like Google, Yahoo and Facebook from copyright liability if they promptly remove infringing content upon notification. Last Tuesday several influential digital rights groups filed a brief supporting the defendant in the case, MP3Tunes, urging the court to uphold the “safe harbor” provision, lest online innovation be stifled.

      • Jauchzet: Bach's Organ Music Free Online
        It's another model that would be good to see utilised elsewhere, ideally with the results being put into the public domain.

      • "Copyright owners better off in a regime that allows downloading from illegal sources"
        This striking headline comes from a note received from Vivien Rörsch (De Brauw), on two recent and equally striking Dutch decisions handed down last week by the Court of Appeal of The Hague: in the two separate cases the court ruled that, since downloading from illegal sources for private use was permitted under Dutch law, this was to the copyright owner's advantage.

      • States subsidising Hollywood: bad idea
        According to Hollywood’s MPAA and various associated spin outfits, the US economy would be in tatters were it not for the major movie companies.

        So state subsidies are essential, say Walt Disney Studios, Paramount Pictures Corporation, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Universal City Studios, and Warner Bros Entertainment

        But that’s not the case, says a new report, drawing a furious retort from an MPAA talking head.

      • ACTA

        • Why ACTA is a Doomed
          ACTA will make copyright law less fair and even more unreasonable. The inevitable consequence will be that people will respect its laws even less, and feel even more justified in doing so. And so we have a paradox: the more that ACTA is put into practice, the more it will weaken the edifice it was supposed to buttress.

        • FFII expression of concerns with ACTA
          Contrary to Commission statements, ACTA is inconsistent with the EU acquis. Moreover, by still including patents and harsh criminal measures, ACTA threatens legitimate businesses as detailed below. We urge the European Parliament to exclude patents from the scope of ACTA and to obtain the opinion of the Court of Justice as to whether ACTA is compatible with the Treaties.

          ACTA is inconsistent with the EU acquis. The most explicit example regards Council Regulation (EC) No. 1383/2003 concerning customs action against goods suspected of infringing certain intellectual property rights (BMR). With regards to trademark goods, the BMR is limited to counterfeit goods. ACTA’s border measures section is, with regards to trademark goods, not limited to counterfeit goods. This has implications on access to medicine. [1] A second example regards damages. ACTA’s damages (suggested retail price) are higher than the acquis, the EU Enforcement Directive sets damages as lost profit or royalties. [2] Especially in combination with the Union patent, which will make litigation more profitable, we may see, in the ICT sector, the same patent litigation battlefield in Europe as in the United States. This will be harmful for European SMEs. [3] We believe an independent assessment on the relationship between ACTA and the EU acquis is needed.

Clip of the Day

Ron Paul: Why Sacrifice our Liberties for the Illusion of Perfect Safety?

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Credit: TinyOgg

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