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Links 1/3/2013: Linux 3.9 Plans, Android Expansion

GNOME bluefish



  • WIth Apps and an OS-Agnostic Attitude, Chromebooks Can Challenge Microsoft
    Slowly but surely, Google is chipping away at advantages that proprietary operating systems have over its still relatively young Chrome OS. Meanwhile, Chromebooks, portable computers based on Chrome OS, have become popular in the market. In fact, Acer's President recently told Bloomberg that its C7 Chromebook accounted for 5 percent to 10 percent of Acer’s U.S. shipments since being released in November.

  • Which Linux admin tools and tricks would YOU stake your career on?
    Those seeking to enter the rewarding world of Linux system administration can be scared off by the platform's sometimes outright hostility towards the concept of "administrator friendliness".

  • Server

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • 100,000 Facebook Fans Contest Winner: IT Pro Richard Clinker
      The Linux Foundation’s Facebook page surpassed 100,000 fans this month and to celebrate we awarded one of our most loyal fans with a $100 gift certificate to the store and a free pass to LinuxCon North America in New Orleans or LinuxCon Europe in Edinburgh, Scotland.

    • Linux Kernel Support Coming For Billions Of Chips
      The Linux 3.9 kernel will likely be introducing support for the line of Synopsys ARC700 processors. More than one billion ARC-based chips are shipped annually by Synopsys licensees and now the mainline Linux kernel can finally begin tapping this hardware.

    • KVM Updates Coming For Linux 3.9 Kernel
      The KVM updates for the Linux 3.9 kernel merge window includes initial support for APICv hardware acceleration, x86 real mode emulation fixes, stronger memory slot interface restrictions, improved handling of large page faults on shadow, and other fixes.

    • Linux 3.8 is NOT a longterm kernel

    • Linux 3.8: Hello 2013, Goodbye 386 Chips

    • The Linux Foundation Sets Speaker Lineup for Collaboration Summit
      The Linux Foundation is holding its annual Collaboration Summit April 15-17 in San Francisco, Calif. And now, the linuep of keynote speakers and other details about the meetup are in place. "Leaders from the Linux developer, industry and end-user communities will gather at the invitation-only Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit to advance the state-of-the-art of Linux and open source software," the announcement notes. Here are more details on what to expect at the conference, and details on complete video sessions form last year's Collaboration Summit.

      The Collaboration Summit homepage is here, and you can find a very complete collection of free videos from last year's event here. According to the Linux Foundation, the following somewhat exhaustive set of topics will be tackled at this year's summit: automotive engineering, big data, cloud computing, virtualization, mobile and embedded development, filesystems, kernel development, legal topics, the Linux Standard Base, SPDX, parallel processing, Tizen, tools, and tracing.

    • Top Features For The Linux 3.9 Kernel
      The merge window for the Linux 3.9 kernel is coming to a close and most of the major merges have already occurred, so let's take a look at some of the best new features coming to this next Linux kernel release.

    • What is Linux?
      All of those specific problems have gone, but the questions they raise are just as important today. And despite being used everywhere, from tiny black boxes and Android phones to the multiplicity of servers run by Google, Linux is still difficult to understand.

    • Linux Format 169 On Sale Today - What is Linux?

    • Graphics Stack

      • “Hello” from XBMC on Wayland

      • X.Org: "2013 Will Be The Year Of Mobile Wayland"
        The 2013 State of X.Org Report has been issued by Bart Massey on the behalf of the X.Org Foundation. There isn't too much new information out of this brief report, but they may be doing less X.Org "katamari" releases or abandon this process all together. The annual report also expresses a belief that 2013 may be the year of "Mobile Wayland."

        The X.Org Foundation is now a 501(c)3 and they have intended for these annual reports to be, well, annual, but this is their first report since 2010. Their previous report can be found on the X.Org Wiki. When asking Bart about the lack of reports back at XDC2012 in Germany, it was a combination of forgetting / simply not doing the annual reports in time. Fortunately, there's a report out for this year.

      • Pointer Lock Feature Proposed For Wayland
        Kristian Høgsberg has proposed patches to Wayland and the Weston compositor for implementing pointer locks. Pointer locks allow for applications to lock the pointer so they receive relative inputs, which can improve the handling of some games running on Wayland.

        Pointer locks let an application lock the pointer position and receive relative motion events. As it concerns Phoronix readers, it's mostly important for gamers in correctly interpreting the mouse position when hitting the edge of the screen, namely first-person shooters. The Wayland pointer lock interface is modelled after the HTML5 pointer lock extension.

      • Intel X.Org Driver Gets Hand-Tuning For SSE4, AVX2
        Chris Wilson at Intel has begun hand-tuning his SNA acceleration architecture within the Intel X.Org driver in order to take advantage of modern CPU instruction set extensions.

        With commits that started getting pushed into the mainline xf86-video-intel driver repository over the night, Chris began making changes to the Intel driver to let it take advantage of more advanced instruction set extensions found on modern CPUs. The CPU capabilities are then checked at run-time so the most appropriate version of the hand-tuned code can be utilized.

      • Running Mesa 9.2-devel + LLVM 3.3 SVN With The R600 Back-End
        The last time I extensively tested the AMD Radeon Gallium3D LLVM shader compiler back-end was last April. Since then the R600 LLVM back-end has matured quite a lot with new features and was merged into upstream LLVM. In the past few days I carried out some new tests on several different graphics cards using Mesa Git master of the R600 Gallium3D open-source graphics driver.

      • Intel Has Good DRM Driver Changes In Linux 3.9
        The Intel DRM graphics driver will feature a number of user-facing improvements within the Linux 3.9 kernel.

        Going back to last month I've been talking about Intel DRM driver changes for Linux 3.9 that have been queuing up for this future kernel release. This work includes improved Intel Haswell support and KMS locking.

      • TI OMAP DRM For Linux 3.9 Moves Out Of Staging
        The Texas Instruments' OMAP DRM pull request for the Linux 3.9 kernel is now known. The OMAP DRM graphics driver will leave the kernel's staging area while at the same time picking up support for the OMAP5 SoC.

        While Rob Clark has left Texas Instruments to go work on Linux graphics at Red Hat, he still today went through with taking care of the TI OMAP pull request to go into drm-next for Linux 3.9.

      • Freedreno Graphics Driver Approaches Mainline
        The Freedreno graphics driver that supports reverse-engineered Qualcomm ARM graphics is nearing a state of mainline support within Linux.

        Rob Clark, the developer formerly at Texas Instruments and now employed by Red Hat as the original creator of Freedreno, is becoming quite comfortable with the state of this 2D/3D graphics driver stack.

    • Benchmarks

      • Benchmarking Ubuntu 8.04.4 LTS To Ubuntu 13.04

      • Benchmarking Ubuntu Touch Yields Mixed Results
        Performance testing of Ubuntu Linux -- in the form of the brand new Ubuntu Touch Developer Preview -- on the Google Nexus smart-phones continues to move forward, but so far findings are mixed.

        For those that aren't caught up in their reading from the weekend, if you haven't already read about the Phoronix explorations with the Ubuntu testing on the Google Nexus 7/10, see: Ubuntu Touch/Tablet Is Using SurfaceFlinger, My Favorite Command For Ubuntu Touch/Tablet, and Benchmarking The Google Nexus With Ubuntu.

      • Nouveau vs. Radeon 2D Graphics Performance
        Earlier today were the results from a 9-Way Low-End NVIDIA/AMD GPU Comparison On Open-Source Drivers using the open-source Radeon and Nouveau Gallium3D drivers. For those more concerned about the 2D Linux desktop performance, here are some results for reference.

        These 2D benchmarks are coming from a sub-set of the AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards used in the comparison earlier. Curiosity led to running some 2D benchmarks on the Radeon and Nouveau open-source drivers since it's much less of a focus at Phoronix and among enthusiasts it's often taken for granted. The 2D motivation also came from delivering new Intel 2D benchmarks with SNA Ivy Bridge and SNA Ironlake results today that showed much promise for the UXA replacement. (Plus the other reason for the uptick in the increased number of articles the past few days is needing to make some advertiser performance goals by month's end.)

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Listening to music on the Linux desktop with Clementine
        So much music, so many desktop music players, and so little time.

        I’m sure that most Linux users can rattle off the names of a few music players. We’ve all tried a few (sometimes more than a few), in the hopes of finding the right one. I know I have. The closest I came to finding that music player was one called Songbird. Until it stopped working and the developers stopped showing the Linux version any love.

      • elegant plasmoid configuration
        The way Plasmoids currently create user interfaces for configuration is not really what one would hope it to be. We have set out to fix this for Plasma Workspaces 2 and today after some back and forth between Marco and myself, we are edging closer to what could well be a solution as near perfect as one could hope for. Before showing what we've come up with, let me explain how it works right now.

      • Talk Of Improving Qt's Multi-Threading Abilities

      • Ever heard about “ArtiKulate”?
        The project I am talking about is named “ArtiKulate” and is a new kind of language learning application. It shall help students, adults, professionals, etc. to improve their foreign language pronunciation skills. This shall be done as follows: A user gets a text phrase and a corresponding sound file that is recorded by a native speaker. Then the user can play the sound (or if she/he feels lucky, this step can be omitted) and tries to speak that phrase by herself/himself. This trial is recorded by the application and the user can then compare both recordings (for now I only plan to implement a comparison done by the user by listening to both sound files, but surely an automatic highscore that states how similar both recordings are would be nice in the future…)

  • Distributions

    • Every Install Should Be Minimal

    • New Releases

    • Screenshots

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

    • Gentoo Family

      • Sabayon 11 Mate Review: Very efficient but stripped down version
        To begin with, Sabayon 11 release is not be missed. At least that is the evidence I got post using the Sabayon 11 XFCE and KDE releases. Hardware support is better than ever with complete EFI/UEFI and UEFI SecureBoot support, greatly improved NVIDIA Optimus support through Bumblebee, a selection of MySQL flavors, including Google MySQL and MariaDB, up to 14000 packages now available in the repositories per architecture, and much, much more. I already reviewed the XFCE and KDE releases and found both to be really really good. Next in line is the Mate version.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat’s Whitehurst lends this advice to business leaders
        Get people to believe what you want them to believe.

        The Raleigh executive was one of 27 leaders whose success advice was compiled by Business Insider.

        “For any business there are three levels of leadership,” Whitehurst says. “One is getting somebody to do what you want them to do. The second is getting people to think what you want them to think; then you don’t have to tell them what to do because they will figure it out. But the best is getting people to believe what you want them to believe, and if people really fundamentally believe what you want them to believe, they will walk through walls.”

        Whitehurst reiterated the advice in a tweet Wednesday, calling it “one of the best lessons I’ve ever learned.”

      • Vmware-EMC's Pivotal HD: Negative For Redhat, Inc.
        EMC Corporation (NYSE: EMC) and VMware,Inc. (NYSE: VMW) announced a Hadoop distribution Pivotal HD, which would be a tough competitor to Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT) as early indicators point that the Pivotal has the potential to bring a radical shift the enterprise software market.

        The latest announcement comes after both companies launched a new firm Pivotal Initiative in December to tap the rapidly growing big data and cloud application market.

    • Debian Family

      • Debian 7.0 "Wheezy" Installer Release Candidate 1

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Months Ahead of Hardware, ARMv8 Gains Debian/Ubuntu Support
            One of the coolest aspects of Linux is its ability to support hardware long before other OSes - and even well before consumers can even get their hands on the hardware. Take USB 3.0, for example, which hit the kernel months before the first products hit the market, in September of 2009. And then there's the SSD command TRIM, which was first launched to the kernel in December of 2008 - six months before Windows 7 introduced the same thing as standard.

          • Firefox OS, Ubuntu and Jolla's Sailfish at MWC

          • Canonical scraps in-person Ubuntu planning, heads for cloud
            Ubuntu Linux maintainer Canonical has canceled its semiannual Ubuntu Developer Summit (UDS) conferences in favor of a new, more-frequent series of events to be conducted online only.

            In the past, Canonical has organized a new UDS event at a different city around the world every six months, to coincide with the beginning of each new release cycle of the open source OS.

            The purpose of the meetings has been to develop plans and work schedules for the upcoming version, not to mention simply to get the more prominent members of the Ubuntu community together in one room.

          • The Growing Ubuntu Desktop
            We’ve seen some relatively sparse desktops in recent weeks. This week’s featured desktop, a Ubuntu system from Lifehacker reader technofhile, goes in the other direction with a wealth of useful information at the bottom of the screen.

          • Ubuntu joins the touchy, feely Linux shouting match
            It’s touch-driven interface joins a market that is surprisingly well populated, beyond the Android and iOS staples we all know. Yes, yes, and Windows Phone, though you chaps only have 2% globally.

          • No more physical Ubuntu Developer Summits - moving to the cloud
            The six-monthly Ubuntu Developer Summits (UDS) – held in locations such as Brussels, Orlando in Florida, Budapest, Oakland in California, and Copenhagen – will not be taking place in future, according to an announcement by Community Manager Jono Bacon. The meetings will be replaced by online events held every three months. The real world events which saw Ubuntu and Canonical developers from around the world gather at the start of an Ubuntu release cycle to plan the features of that release, are to be replaced by online gatherings using Google+ Hangouts supported by IRC, Etherpad, "Social Media sharing and links to blueprints and specs".

          • Ubuntu for Tablets Joins Canonical's Convergence Crusade
            You've got to give Microsoft credit for attempting a single OS that bridges PC, phone, and tablet users. What it ended up with, however, was a collection of pseudo-compatible platforms that have left the marketplace confused and largely unimpressed.

          • Benchmarking Ubuntu Linux On The Google Nexus 10
            After spending the better part of the past week running continuous open-source Linux benchmarks on the Exynos5-powered Google Nexus 10, the first extensive benchmark results for the Nexus 10 tablet running the Ubuntu Touch Developer Preview are now available. This performance comparison from Ubuntu on the dual-core ARM Cortex-A15 powered device is compared to numerous other ARMv7 and x86 devices. One of the interesting findings from this new round of ARM Linux testing is that the Google Nexus with its dual-core ARM SoC is competitive with AMD's first-generation Phenom Quad-Core processor for some demanding workloads.

          • Ubuntu Touch beats Firefox OS to win best of MWC from CNET

          • Ubuntu tablet OS review: First look
            We’re also not sure about the ecosystem – the devices will ship with a handful of apps on launch and the enhasis will be on the developer community to chip in and enhance usefulness. With four core platforms already fighting it out for market share and the upcoming Tizen and Firefox operating systems also set to be launched, it remains to be seen if Ubuntu can be anything other than niche.

          • Should Ubuntu Become A Rolling Release?
            Rick Spencer, the vice president of Ubuntu Engineering, has restarted the discussion on making Ubuntu a rolling release distribution like Arch or Gentoo.

            There are three kinds of Ubuntu users, from what I understand -- LTS users, six months upgraders and daily build users. Those users (which includes big enterprise customers like Google) who do a lot of customization or want extremely stable system use the LTS version which is maintained for a longer period.

          • Ubuntu chief says converged platforms are the future
            The convergence of devices and software platforms is being driven by the shift towards cloud computing, which will ultimately become the engine room of all modern applications, according to Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth.

            Speaking at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, following last week's launch of a developer preview of Canonical's mobile-friendly version of Ubuntu, Shuttleworth said that one of the key challenges in the mobile space is the fragmentation of the underlying platforms.

          • Ubuntu in the cloud: Getting started with juju
            This excerpt is from the book, Ubuntu Unleashed: 2013 Edition by Matthew Helmke, published by Pearson/SAMS, Dec 2012, ISBN 0672336243; copyright 2013 by Pearson Education, Inc.

          • Elegant Ubuntu Touch OS impresses for phones and tablets (hands-on)
            -Ubuntu is coming to your phone and tablet, and in style. I got my hands on the forthcoming Ubuntu Touch operating system for smartphones and tablets at mobile industry shindig Mobile World Congress, and I'd say on first impression it knocks rivals like Firefox OS and Samsung-backed Tizen into a cocked hat.

            Ubuntu Touch is developed by Canonical and set to be available to the public in October. Manufacturers are yet to be confirmed, but you can try the software right now on selected Google Nexus devices. I tried out the new OS installed on a Google Nexus 4 smartphone, and the tablet version on a Google Nexus 7 slate.

          • MWC 2013: A good showing for HTC, Sony, Ubuntu Touch

          • Mark Shuttleworth: Serious people are saying Ubuntu is better than Windows 8 on tablets
            The Ubuntu OS on smartphones and tablets has been grabbing headlines and gaining support quickly since the plans were formally unveiled at the beginning of 2013. ZDNet met the man behind Ubuntu to see what he had to say about the project.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linux Mint brings HTML5 to MDM
              Linux Mint has quickly climbed the ranks in the past few years and has surpassed Ubuntu on Distro Watch as the most popular distribution (conditions apply).

              With the next rendition of Mint they have added yet another personalization feature that is sure to get a lot of attention. The MDM is the default display manager for the login screen in Linux Mint and it now supports HTML5!

            • Bodhi Linux "Friends and Family" Edition
              Bodhi Linux has earned respect and high praise from users and respected journalists all around the Linuxhood. Later Bloathi, more of a good thing, was introduced. Well, Bodhi fans, rejoice because another edition has joined the line-up. Introducing Bodhi "Friends and Family," or bloated Bodhi.

              Jeff Hoogland introduced the new edition in a blog post today saying it is actually the system he keeps around for those friends' and families' computers to save time installing extra software. He said, "Today, I would like to offer a bit more choice for Bodhi users. I think it is finally in a state that I am happy sharing it. It is simply a Bodhi 2.x branch live/install CD powered by a Linux 3.5 kernel and the latest E17.1 Enlightenment desktop. It comes with a bunch of software pre-installed that should keep most people happy."

            • Chinese Linux Distro Seeks Place in Ubuntu Family

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • A swan song from this departing open source blogger
    As I sign off from my duties at ZDNet, and more than 20 years following open source, I am struck with the realization that open source has, in many respects, really taken over the world.

  • OSI Board Reaches out to Washington D.C. Organizations week of May 6, 2013
    The OSI board, which meets in person at least twice per annum, has selected Washington D.C. as the location for the Spring 2013 Board of Directors Meeting. The city serves as a central location for gathering the OSI's geographically diverse board membership. It is also considered a location of open source policy dialog and debate as well as high-profile implementations within US federal government operations.

  • MIT releases open-source software that reveals invisible motion and detail in video

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Intel plays for big data with optimised Hadoop distribution
      Intel has surprised developers by announcing its own distribution of Apache Hadoop, the distributed "big data" framework. The Intel Distribution for Apache Hadoop Software is, says the company, optimised for Intel Xeon processors with Intel SSD drives and Intel's 10GbE networking. Hadoop is a Java framework for scalable distributed systems based around the MapReduce approach and developed by the Apache Software Foundation.

    • Intel Launches Hadoop Distribution
      Intel wants more organisations and people to use the vast amounts of data being generated, collected and stored every day. This is the reason why the chipmaker has announced Intel Distribution for Apache Hadoop software. The offering, which includes Intel Manager for Apache Hadoop software, is built from the silicon up to deliver improved security features.

      Hadoop is an open source framework for storing and processing large volumes of diverse data on a scalable cluster of servers that has emerged as the preferred platform for managing big data. With even more information coming from billions of sensors and intelligent systems also on the horizon, the framework must remain open and scalable as well as deliver on the demanding requirements of enterprise-grade performance, security and manageability.

    • Building the Cloud: Notes on Apache CloudStack (incubating)

    • Mesa 3D 9.1 brings OpenGL 3.1 support on Radeon GPUs
      The 3D graphics drivers that are available in Mesa 3D 9.1 offer improved support for current and expected-soon graphics chips and promise enhanced 3D performance. The new version of the graphics library, which is typically used by default by Linux distributions for their 3D drivers, now includes an OpenGL driver that, together with a driver in Linux 3.8, supports the graphics core of Intel's Haswell processors. These processors are scheduled to be launched as Core i-4000s in a few months and will supersede Intel's current "Ivy Bridge" generation.

    • Spring for Hadoop simplifies application development
      After almost exactly a year of development, SpringSource has released Spring for Hadoop 1.0 with the goal of making the development of Hadoop applications easier for users of the distributed application framework. VMware engineer Costin Leau said in the release announcement that the company has often seen developers use the out-of-the-box tools that come with Hadoop in ways that lead to a "poorly structured collection of command line utilities, scripts and pieces of code stitched together." Spring for Hadoop aims to change this by applying the Template API design pattern from Spring to Hadoop.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Michael Meeks about LibreOffice 4.0
      The 4rth major release of our favorite libre office suite has been released, bringing amazing new things and fundamental changes that guarantee a brighter future.

      Michael Meeks, who has always been an important player in the LibreOffice team, explains the technical details of the highlights of this release and shares some future plans and hopes with us in this quick interview.

  • CMS

    • A Guide to Identifying the Right Open Source CMS for You

    • Choosing an open-source CMS, part 3: Why we use WordPress
      In this last installment of our three-part series on finding the best open-source content management system (CMS) for your needs, we asked two organizations -- online magazine and Carleton University -- to talk about why they chose WordPress over other open-source options and how well that decision has stood the test of time. (Our first installment examined Drupal and the second looked at Joomla.)

      WordPress got its start as a blogging platform in May 2003 and gradually evolved, first into a blogging system that let users add Web pages outside of the blog and then into a full-featured, popular CMS. Of the three most popular open-source CMSs -- WordPress, Joomla and Drupal -- WordPress is both the most popular and the fastest growing by far, according to Web technology tracker W3Techs.

  • Healthcare

  • BSD

    • NetBSD Is Paying For DRM With KMS/GEM
      When it comes to kernel mode-setting and open-source graphics drivers, the BSD operating system with the best support is presently FreeBSD. For those, however, using NetBSD, improvements are forthcoming with an investment by the NetBSD Foundation.

      FreeBSD 9.1 introduces Intel KMS support after it was an out-of-tree porting project for quite a while. While not yet merged, Radeon KMS is also being ported to FreeBSD. For other BSD platforms, the support level varies but it's mostly out-of-tree work at this point. For more details see BSDs Struggle With Open-Source Graphics Drivers.

      Taylor Campbell of NetBSD announced on the mailing list earlier this month that the NetBSD Foundation hired him to port the current generation Linux DRM (Direct Rendering Manager) support to NetBSD. This work includes bringing forward KMS (Kernel Mode-Setting) and GEM (Graphics Execution Manager) to this BSD distribution.


    • Freedom on Buses, Computers and Everywhere
      In the world of computers we have our own Rosa Parks, Richard Stallman, who expanded the concept of freedom to include:

      * running the software, * examining the software, * modifying the software, and * distributing the software.

  • Project Releases

    • QEMU 1.4.0 boosts large storage device performance
      The latest version, 1.4.0, of the open source QEMU emulator and virtualiser has been released and brings with it a new experimental threaded backend to manage direct PCI IO. This new backend is regarded as the highlight of the new release as, in testing, it managed to give a 900% increase in IO performance for a single KVM guest, from 150,000 IOPS (IO operations per second) to 1.33 million IOPS.

    • BIND10 1.0.0 available

    • Ruby 2.0.0-p0 is released

  • Public Services/Government

    • Openforum Europe: Procurement law fails to address discriminatory practices
      Using technical specifications to discriminate ICT solutions continues to be a widespread practice within the EU, says Openforum Europe, advocating the use of open standards in ICT. Publishing the results of its audit of European procurement, OFE yesterday urged for action. "These persisting discriminatory practices are not properly addressed."

      OFE yesterday shared the results of its most recent inspection of 'invitations to tender' published in the Official Journal of the European Union. It studied 785 tender requests from the last quarter of 2012. "Almost one in five, 19 per cent, includes technical specifications with explicit references to trademarks. That is the highest in the last three years."

    • Local open source firms and university curricula support Italian Udine
      The Italian city of Udine has been using open source solutions wherever possible for years. The city's IT department can rely on many local IT service providers. It is also supported by the university, where this type of software development is actively used in teaching and research.

    • Download free eBook about the principles of open government

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Self-publishing is an open process
      One man decides to publish his own book—but there's no road map, no previous information to help him navigate how to do it! How will he sell a copy to people he doesn't already know?

    • Marking one year since the Inside Government beta
      A year ago today we launched the beta of Inside Government on GOV.UK – a working, public demo of a product which to many people had previously seemed unimaginable.

      The site was a live test of what multiple departments sharing a single platform could look like, with 10 departments actively re-publishing all their content to the beta site over a 6-week period.

      It was the predecessor of today’s Inside Government section which, with DCMS, HMRC and the Office of the Advocate General for Scotland having joined this week, is now the main corporate web presence for 14 departments.

    • Happy Birthday, New UK Government Data Service
      I recommend using Debian GNU/Linux because it works just to save shopping for a distro although that can be fun too. Some schools are set up to allow users to choose a distro and get it on the next reboot. I like to make individual configurations for users. It’s not hard with systems like Sabayon. One could even arrange that users would be able to publish their configurations and have users choose any of them to be theirs. Compare that flexibility with the rigidity of that other OS. To think that people actually pay extra for that other OS is simply sad. It’s like a billion people paying to be locked up.

    • Open Data

      • Contribute to digital cartography with OpenStreetMap

      • Contribute to digital catography with OpenStreetMap
        Maps touch our lives daily. Whether you are trying to find a nearby point of interest or directions to a faraway land, maps help us find our way. In recent years, maps have moved from paper into the digital world of cartography and open source contributors have been in the trenches gathering data for the masses.

        In 2006, a group of map enthusiasts formed the OpenStreetMap Foundation. Registered in the United Kingdom as a not-for-profit organization it quickly grew to become a 400,000 person strong organization. Since the beginning of the project, volunteers from every continent have put their mark on the map showing where everything from roads to bike paths and from fire stations to ice cream stores are located. The information is licensed with copyleft licenses which allows anyone to use the information to build their own maps both paper and digital.

      • Open Data Manchester Special – An Open Data Future
        An Open Data Future is a debate that aims to look under the hood of the open data movement.

        Over the past few years open government data has evolved from a niche concern to one that has been embraced by national government, European Commission and other states and organisations around the globe.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Computer Genius Aaron Swartz’s Suicide Spurrs DePauw to Consider Open-Acess Policy
        Professor Kelsey Kauffman has made efforts to educate DePauw faculty and staff about open-access policies for the past year. But it wasn’t until internationally renowned computer genius Aaron Swartz committed suicide on Jan. 11 that the university began to seriously consider adopting such a policy. In light of Swartz’s death, DePauw officials are contemplating adopting an open-access policy, which would give faculty the opportunity to submit their scholarly articles through a DePauw database. These articles would be available for free to anyone in the world — not limited to only students, professors and employees tied to institutions with subscriptions to academic journals, as they currently are.

      • U.S. Moves to Provide Quicker Access to Publicly Financed Scientific Research
        In a memorandum issued on Friday, John P. Holdren, science adviser to President Obama, called for scientific papers that report the results of federally financed research to become freely accessible within a year or so after publication. The findings are typically published in scientific journals, many of which are open only to paying subscribers.

    • Open Hardware

      • GSM Arduino calls in to the cloud
        Cloud service provider Cumulocity is presenting an Arduino board with a GSM module designed for mobile communications at the Embedded World conference in Nuremberg, from 26 to 28 February. A Foca FTDI adapter adds serial access for programming and a light sensor for DIY projects are also included, along with an M2M SIM card from Deutsche Telekom to enable sending data over GSM to the cloud. The Arduino Cumulocity M2M Kit is due out in the second quarter of 2013 and should be able to be pre-ordered for €89 from Deutsche Telekom's developer web site; details of the ordering process are yet to be announced.

      • Redefining “Cybercrime” After Aaron Swartz. A Roundtable Discussion
        Aaron Swartz, brilliant hacker and political activist, committed suicide in January 2013 in the midst of an aggressive criminal investigation into his downloading of the entire JSTOR archive. Swartz was charged with thirteen counts of felony hacking and wire fraud and faced a possible sentence of decades in prison and millions in fines. In the wake of his suicide, many have called for the reevaluation of the cybercrime laws under which he was prosecuted.

  • Programming

    • Git 1.8.2 Gets New Features, Ported To QNX
      The second point release in the Git 1.8 series will introduce several new end-user features and support for new operating systems.

      Git 1.8.2-rc0 was released on Sunday by Junio Hamano and provides a glimpse at what's to come with this next release.

    • The RedMonk Programming Language Rankings: January 2013
      Although it is now February, almost March, the language ranking numbers below were actually run in January in keeping with our roughly quarterly pace for updates. As we have done since 2011, we’re repeating the analysis originally performed by Drew Conway and John Myles White in December of 2010. Measurement of performance depends, of course, on what you measure. In this case, the rankings are derived from a correlation of programming traction on GitHub and Stack Overflow.

      While there are many approaches to measuring language performance, none perfect, GitHub and Stack Overflow collectively represent statistically significant volumes of data. More importantly for our purposes, their respective communities, while overlapping, remain distinct and thus provide some balance to a measurement of one on a stand alone basis. The statistical correlation between the two properties has remained strong; it was .78 during the first analysis and has never been weaker since – the results below also feature a correlation of .78.


  • Time Tracking
    Since my first Palm PDA I have been using a nifty Palm app, Titrax, to track the time I spend working on projects. It's simple to use -- just tap to start a project, tap again to stop -- gives detailed time reports, and lets me add notes each time I start tracking (so that I can describe what specific task I am working on). It works great.

    But, as I've traveled less and less, and I've used the Palm less and less, I've come to realize that the only thing I'm now using the Palm for is Titrax. The Palm sits in its cradle, atop my PC, and I tap projects on and off and scribble short notes. I then download those logs to the PC with Jpilot, and extract the data I need there. The only thing I'm tracking is work I'm doing on the PC, so why not just track my time on the PC?

    A web search for "Linux time tracking" turned up this useful page at LinuxLinks, describing seven tools. Two are web-based, which I specifically do not want, and Kontact is part of the KDE suite, which I'm trying to avoid (and which is overkill for my needs at any rate). Of the remaining four, three seemed overcomplicated for my needs, while Project Hamster looked promising. Perhaps I was also influenced by the LifeHacker article which recommended Hamster as "super simple". Simple is good -- I don't want a program that tries to record which apps I'm using. (I use three different text editors for a mix of about a dozen projects -- good luck tracking that.)

  • IT certifications can't measure capability
    Governments want to define professionalism through certifications -- rather than community reputation built on real work

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

  • Cablegate

  • Finance

    • CNN's Recipe for Italy: Austerity–No Matter What

    • Democracy Now! Interviews Lisa Graves and John Nichols About Exposing "Fix the Debt" Campaign

    • Conversation with "Fix the Debt," Help Count the Pinocchios
      Last week, the Center for Media and Democracy and The Nation magazine worked together to publish a package in the Nation and a new online wiki resource on Pete Peterson and the Campaign to Fix the Debt, an entity we consider an “astroturf supergroup” with a huge budget working hard to create the fantasy that Americans care more about national debt and deficits than jobs and the economy. Fix the Debt is currently exploiting the "sequester" debate in Congress to encourage steep cuts to incredibly popular social programs like Medicare and Social Security.

      After the release, Fix the Debt’s press person called to confront me about what he said were “false things” in our exposé.

    • JPMorgan to BofA Get Delay on Rule Isolating Derivatives
      JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and Bank of America Corp. won a delay of Dodd-Frank Act requirements that they wall off some derivatives trades from bank units backed by federal deposit insurance.

      Commercial banks including the Wall Street firms may get as long as an additional two years -- until July 2015 -- to comply with the rules, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said in a notice yesterday. The so-called pushout provision was included in the 2010 financial-regulation law as a way to limit taxpayer support for risky derivatives trades.

      The Commodity Futures Trading Commission and other regulators need to complete swap rules to allow “federal depository institutions to make well-informed determinations concerning business restructurings that may be necessary,” the OCC said in the notice. Dodd-Frank requires that equity, some commodity and non-cleared credit derivatives be moved into separate affiliates without federal assistance.

      Regulators including Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke had opposed the provision, saying it would drive derivatives to less-regulated entities. In February, the House Financial Services Committee approved with bipartisan support legislation that would let banks keep commodity and equity derivatives in insured units by removing part of the rule.

    • Bill O'Reilly, Big Government and Racism
      It's not as if Bill O'Reilly has never uttered things reasonable people might consider racist: He wondered when African-Americans would "reject immorality," compared Al Sharpton to David Duke, used the term "wetbacks" on his show, explained that Africa and "fundamental Islam" were antithetical to "Western reasoning," joked that "the most unattractive women in the world are probably in the Muslim countries."

    • European Union agreement to cap bankers' bonuses is setback for City
      The agreement has still to be approved by EU governments before coming into force next year. While details may still be tweaked, it is expected that the main points will become EU law.

    • Occupy the SEC, Frustrated With Regulatory Defiance of Volcker Rule Implementation Requirements, Sues Fed, SEC, CFTC, FDIC and Treasury

    • Lords of Disorder: Billions For Wall Street, Sacrifice For Everyone Else
      Campaign for America’s Future writer Richard Eskow puts two important headlines together from this week, about the budget cuts which will go into effect on Friday harming average Americans and the poor and the ongoing corporate welfare the U.S. government is handing out to the “too big to fail” banks on a daily basis.

    • On the sequester as austerity policy (Blog)
      Today's "austerity policies" represent a moment in which the above lessons have been forgotten so the system rushes toward another set of catastrophes which will teach, yet again, why mashing down the bottom 2/3 of the economy is counterproductive for lenders and capitalists. And once again, millions will suffer and vast resources will be wasted as this teaching occurs. And this time it may be stretched out even further as capitalists imagine they can substitute cheap workers abroad for costly workers in Europe and the US without encountering the same old contradictions.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Bombs and Bull-shit
      Heavy water is just water containing hydrogen in the form of a heavier isotope, deuterium, which contains an extra neutron. It is a great moderator for fast neutrons from nuclear fission because of the high probability of a hard collision when a neutron zips through the molecule. In the collision, the energy of the fast neutron is shared well with the deuterium thus slowing the fast neutron so it’s more effective at triggering further collisions in the chain reaction. So, heavy water is not about producing plutonium but about facilitating nuclear chain reactions in fission. Deuterium is also useful in nuclear physics experiments and producing fluxes of really slow neutrons for all kinds of purposes. Plutonium is a by-product of any uranium fisssion reactor where U238 is present. In fact, enriching uranium implies reducing the concentration of U238 in favour of U235 actually reducing the production of plutonium. So, Haretz is just spreading more FUD when it suggests readers should be worried about heavy water.

    • Republican Pals and Their 'National Security' Passion
      There's always a place for a "national security" Republican–no matter how wrong they've been.

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • Deutsche Telekom in the privacy spin zone
      At first sight it’s spin for data protection. The sort of expressions you hope these persons don’t take home from work, and it gets you pleased as a punch. Anyway, what seems to contradict the lobbying from Us corporations in Brussels against data protection makes sense from the perspective of Deutsche Telekom.

    • Whose luggage is it anyway?
      Border Force staff seized 1,147 pieces of luggage as a result of secret baggage searches at Birmingham Airport in the year to September, however serious concerns about whether the powers are being used proportionately

      The report by Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration John Vine, found that staff at Birmingham Airport were not keeping records of how many times they searched luggage and no contraband was found. Guidance to staff was “contradictory and out of date” and managers admitted there had been no checks made to ensure correct procedures were being followed when bags were being searched to protect people’s privacy.

    • NSA's 'Ragtime' domestic spying program detailed in new book
      There are four — maybe five — members of the NSA who make sure that its secret domestic spying program isn't overstepping its reach according to a new book, Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry.

    • 10 Things You Didn't Know About The National Security Agency Surveillance Program
    • Ragtime: Code name of NSA’s Secret Domestic Intelligence Program Revealed in New Book

    • Another important privacy vote in the European Parliament

    • RSA: Google Lashes out at Microsoft Over Privacy
      SAN FRANCISCO. In the world of online privacy, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla are all front and center. The chief privacy officers from all four vendors took the stage at the RSA Security conference today to debate what online privacy is all about.

      The most heated moment during the panel discussion came when Keith Enright, Senior Privacy Counsel at Google, challenged Microsoft on privacy claims. Microsoft has been running a marketing campaign called 'Scroogled' alleging that Google Gmail is privacy risk.

    • Data Protection Regulation: Key amendments in the JURI Committee
      The Legal Affairs (JURI) Committee in the European Parliament will vote on amendments to the proposed Data Protection Regulation on March 18th-19th. Their opinion will influence the final report from "LIBE", which is the lead Committee. So what happens in the JURI vote is an important factor in what the final law will look like.

      The JURI Committee will be voting on some specific amendments to the proposed Regulation. Below we detail the top amendments that we think MEPs should support or reject. This is based on a full analysis of the JURI amendments by EDRi, which is available on the campaign site

      We have produced a briefing on the Data Protection Regulation, which provides more detail on what the issues are.

      If you live in the North West of England or in Yorkshire and the Humber, your MEPs are involved in this vote. Please write to your MEP and ask them to support a strong Data Protection Regulation. We have some guidance on how on the blog. If you want to go into more detail, here are the top amendments that MEPs will be voting on.

    • Another important privacy vote in the European Parliament
      Members of the European Parliament are in the process of shaping a new Data Protection Regulation, which was proposed by the European Commission last January. A number of Committees in the Parliament are giving their opinions, which will influence what the final law might look like. (Full text of the proposed Regulation (pdf))

      The original proposals from the Commission were very promising, offering much stronger privacy rights and a stricter regime to make sure those that collect and use personal data play by the rules. This sort of update to data protection law is badly needed. We have produced a short guide to the issues.

    • The CISPA Government Access Loophole
      The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act—CIPSA, the so-called “cybersecurity” bill—is back in Congress. As we've written before, the bill is plagued with privacy problems and we’re urging concerned users to email their Representatives to oppose it.

      Many of the bill’s problems stem from its vague language. One particularly dangerous provision, designed to enable corporations to obtain and share information, is drafted broadly enough to go beyond just companies, creating a government access loophole.

    • RSA 2013: Hacking Team Defends Its Surveillance Software

  • Civil Rights

    • Rush Limbaugh Denied Service at Mexican Restaurant

    • "Racial Entitlements?" Long-Term Effort to End Voting Rights Act and Affirmative Action May Finally Pay Off
      The U.S. Supreme Court may roll back two pillars of the civil rights era this term -- the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and affirmative action -- both of which have long been targeted by the right-wing and whose challenges are backed by the same set of deep-pocketed ideological funders.

    • Secret courts threat graver than ever after government overturns Lords amendments to Justice & Security Bill
      Amnesty International, JUSTICE, Liberty and Reprieve have warned that the threat of secret courts is graver than ever after ministers defied the House of Lords and reverted back to the original version of the highly damaging Justice and Security Bill.

      Yesterday - as Westminster and the media concentrated on same-sex marriage - the House of Commons Committee responsible for scrutiny of the Bill passed new government amendments which reverse changes to the Bill made by the Lords in November.

      In November the government suffered several large cross-party defeats on the legislation in the House of Lords, as Peers introduced a series of amendments. Those changes - supported by Labour, Liberal Democrats, Crossbenchers and some Conservatives - improved the likelihood that secret courts would be used only as a genuine “last resort”.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Freedoms Online in France: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back?
      Following an intergovernmental seminar on digital policy [fr], French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced a law “on the protection of digital rights and freedoms” for early 2014. While this announcement offers hope for the defense of freedoms online, recent statements made by members of the French government suggest it is not yet ready to break away from the repressive trend initiated by its predecessors.

  • DRM

    • Petition to protect the right to unlock cellphones garners 111,000+ signers; White House must now respond
      On February 13th, we asked you to join in with thousands of others to call on the White House to protect users where the Copyright Office had failed. Because of your actions, the White House now must respond to the call to fix the DMCA anti-circumvention exemptions list in order to protect the right to unlock cell phones. But there is more we should do.

    • Pwn Your Phone
      I've owned two different Android phones since they first were released, and I eventually rooted both of them. My Droid (original) was such a popular phone that rooting it was very simple. I used my rooted Droid until it wore out and rebooted every time I slid open the keyboard. My second Android phone, the Samsung Galaxy S2, is the phone I have right now. It actually was quite a bit more challenging to root, but in the end, I couldn't resist the lure of total control. Sadly, no amount of rooting can supply a hardware keyboard for my S2, but at least I can run whatever ROM I want on it now. Before I go into how to root an Android device, it's important to discuss why you might want to do so, or why you might not.

      One of the most common questions I get via e-mail or Twitter is how to root an Android phone. As you can see by the size of the following article, that's not a question easily answered in 140 characters. So, in this article, I talk about rooting an Android device and then describe the process for installing a custom ROM. It's complex, sometimes frustrating, and it can be dangerous if you don't do your homework in advance. If that doesn't scare you off, read on.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • MPAA Revenue Grows, Chris Dodd Gets $2.4 Millio

      • Google Avoids 'Link Tax' in Germany, For Now
        Google was handed a small victory in Germany this week when lawmakers there approved a bill that will allow the search giant to freely include headlines and snippets from German publishers on services like Google News.

        Using a larger portion of content, however, will require payment.

      • System Used By New Six Strikes CAS, Falsely Identifies Game Mods As NBC TV Shows
        Reader David Sutherland emailed us this week about a DMCA notice that he received via his MediaFire account. The notice, which we've included below (including all of the crappy formatting) claimed that he was using MediaFire to host "one of the following files: Downton Abbey, CONTRABAND (2012), GRIMM (2011), House M.D., MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS, THE, The Office." The "file" they claimed was one of those TV shows/movies was "Cantha Cartography Made Easy 2009.tpf" which is actually a game mod for Guild Wars. You might possibly be able to argue that ArenaNet, makers of Guild Wars could have a copyright claim (maybe, sorta), but that's not who sent the notice and it's not what they claimed it was. Sutherland notes that he set up this MediaFire account solely to host game mods and has never hosted any other content there.

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