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Links 16/08/2009: Debian Turns Sixteen, Foresight Linux Changes Direction

Posted in News Roundup at 2:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Inside EOS: Cisco’s Big Social Networking Play

    The EOS platform itself is a Linux-based LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) with a Java middleware component.

  • Kubntuforum.net down … again …. 8/15/2009

    The Kubuntu forum is down again. I first learned of this problem, “Service Unavailable”, a month after I installed Kubuntu, in April: http://www.linuxtoday.com/news_story.php3?ltsn=2009-04-04-013-35-NW-CY

    I was VERY surprised, in April, to learn that the Kubuntuform.net was hosted on a Windows 2003 server from the day it first appeared, in 2005. I was not surprised to see Netcraft statistics revealing that the server is rebooted, on average, every 14 days. I am beginning to wonder if these outages are caused by Win2k3 becoming owned by bot farms or just classic WinX slowdown or stability problems. Sooner or later the forum should begin eating its own dog food and switch to a Linux server. It is becoming an embarrassment.

  • GFS: Evolution on Fast-forward

    A discussion between Kirk McKusick and Sean Quinlan about the origin and evolution of the Google File System.

    During the early stages of development at Google, the initial thinking did not include plans for building a new file system. While work was still being done on one of the earliest versions of the company’s crawl and indexing system, however, it became quite clear to the core engineers that they really had no other choice, and GFS (Google File System) was born.


    Part of this, of course, was driven by necessity. Since Google’s plans rested largely on massive deployments of commodity hardware, failures and hardware-related faults were a given. Beyond that, according to the original GFS paper, there were a few compatibility issues. “Many of our disks claimed to the Linux driver that they supported a range of IDE protocol versions but in fact responded reliably only to the more recent ones. Since the protocol versions are very similar, these drives mostly worked but occasionally the mismatches would cause the drive and the kernel to disagree about the drive’s state. This would corrupt data silently due to problems in the kernel. This problem motivated our use of checksums to detect data corruption.”

  • Applications

    • Boxee Will Blow You Away

      Boxee is a cross-platform freeware media center software with promising new social networking features. Boxee is based on XBMC media center, an award winning open source project. Since i had already tested the latest XBMC 9.04, i was not expecting anything dramatic from an alpha release of Boxee. I was way wrong.

    • 7 months later

      We are pretty close to a 0.9 Beta now in terms of functionality. Most of the plugins have been ported in some form to compiz++ although some (mostly the one’s I’ve done) are broken in some way which makes them unusable. When I say ‘most’, I mean that it is about 80% feature parity with 0.8, just some of the *big* plugins have not been ported yet. Asides from some of my own plugins and other users, most user plugins (especially big ones) still need to be ported.

    • Artha – WordWeb Knockoff for Desktop Linux

      Artha is a handy dictionary/thesaurus program for Linux that focuses on high usability. It makes the best utilization of WordNet database with highly usable Hotkeys, Regular Expressions, Notifications, Relative Senses, Suggestions and Much More!

  • Mozilla

    • Mozilla recommends upgrading from Firefox 3.0.x to 3.5.x

      The information pop-up offers users the option of downloading Firefox 3.5 immediately, downloading it later, or skipping it completely. Although the pop-up informs users of potential add-on incompatibilities, users will only find out whether updates for their installed add-ons are available after upgrading to the new version of Firefox. The Mozilla development team says that 90 percent of add-ons have either been updated for version 3.5, or new version have been created.

    • 10 Best Mozilla Thunderbird Themes

      Among desktop Mail clients, Mozilla Thunderbird is still a popular choice. Although more than 50% of our readers check their eMail online, 15% use Thunderbird, followed by Outlook and other desktop clients. Source: MUO Poll

  • Distributions

    • A possible change of direction for Foresight Linux

      I think that Foresight needs to be based on an upstream distro that is regularly fully updated and refreshed, and that is maintained by distro specialists with experience and expertise that is just plain missing within the Foresight development community. That distro needs to be imported into a Conary repository; that will allow Foresight to continue to use Conary to manage the process of building a set of consistent modifications relative to that upstream distro, providing a true rolling release. That would allow Foresight developers to concentrate on only the problems inherent in integrating the very latest development source against a recent base that is relatively close to the basis on which the software is maintained.

    • [Mandriva] Cooker – new netprofile in cooker

      The new and improved (or, more exactly, mostly rewritten) netprofile is
      on its way to cooker.

      It comes with a lot of changes, based on the feedback I had on this
      list. So I would like to thank you all first for the ideas, and I hope
      this new netprofile version will be of use to you.

    • Some news on cooker regarding kde3

      kde3 is being removed from cooker, replaced by kde4. i started by the less « important » ones ( kdeadmin, kdeartwork, ..) but soon the others will be removed.

    • Gentoo

      • Gentoo Media Center

        As usual it’s not our intention to break the bank when building a media center. Now it’s true that you can purchase a number of beautiful cases and components to make your media pc blend in with the rest of the electronics that you may have in your home entertainment center but for myself I prefer to get some use of components that may not look the greatest but will simply do the job.

      • Sabayon Linux 4.2 KDE Review

        Sabayon is a Gentoo Linux-based, multi-purpose distribution. Previous releases of Sabayon came in one huge DVD iso image with the option to install your favorite desktop. However, the latest release is available in iso images distinguished by desktop environments. For example, we have Sabayon 4.x KDE, Sabayon 4.x Gnome, etc. This review is based on Sabayon 4.2 KDE. A future review will focus on Sabayon 4.2 Gnome.


        The installer is one of the best. If you choose to use Sabayon in Live CD/DVD mode, and then opt to install it on your PC’s hard drive, you still get the same full-featured installer.

    • Debian Family

      • Happy Birthday Debian

        Sixteen years ago today, Ian Murdock announced the “imminent completion of a brand-new Linux release”.

      • Aide (Advanced Intrusion Detection Environment) improvements

        At the Karmic Ubuntu developer summit, we had a session on filesystem integrity checkers. The main purpose of the session was to see what the current state of them was, and if we needed to replace Aide in main with a newer alternative.

      • Ubuntu 9.04, I’m impressed

        Everything just works. Out-of-the-box. Do you know what it means? It means, that any person without any knowledge about computers, and Linux, will find Ubuntu user-friendly.

      • CrunchBang Linux – Soft, calm and beautiful

        CrunchBang is a very interesting product. It works well. It’s fast, streamlined and very beautiful, probably one of the better looking distros I’ve ever seen. I don’t know why, but the sterile precision, simplicity and softness of Openbox, the choice of colors and fonts and the overall blend are too hard to resist.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Nightstand clock gets open-source, Wi-Fi boost

      The Chumby is a $200 Wi-Fi-connected personal Internet appliance that gets its information and applications through Chumby’s Website following a simple online registration process that opens up access to so-called “widgets.”

    • TomTom Leaches

      I purchased this device after learning that TomTom are a Linux company, or so I thought, after having read about how TomTom was sued by Microsoft for breach of copyright on the use of FAT32, and how TomTom had sought assistance from the Linux Foundation, and also that the TomTom devices are built on top of the Linux kernel and other Free Software tools.

    • CrunchPad prototype coming this month, be available ASAP

      We more or less know everything there is to know about the CrunchPad, but a few more specs have popped up thanks to the NYT and SF Biz Times. The CP, made by Fusion Garage, is 16mm thick with a 12-inch screen encased in aluminum.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Mobile app dev unity debated

    Mobile software development proponents yesterday debated the merits of framework and web approaches to combat the fragmentation developers face when building applications for the multitude of handheld phones.

    The proponents, serving on a panel at the OpenSource World conference in San Francisco, also hailed open source as a mechanism to boost software development for these devices.

  • Enterprise LAMP Summit to Feature Global Open Source Thought Leaders

    Now, however, because of the maturity, velocity, security and scalability achieved in particular by the LAMP stack (Linux, MySQL, PHP, Python and Perl) and the training, certification and support offered by a solid array of providers, many thought leaders believe that LAMP has proven its ability to provide performance that CTOs at the world’s largest enterprises can rely on for global deployment.

  • Business

  • Voting

    • Why Governments must make voting systems open source

      Even if the results of the election are not to your personal taste any reasonable person may have confidence in the legitimacy of the result because they know the processes are transparent and trustworthy with visible checks and balances.

      By contrast, a proprietary, closed, electronic voting system does not offer the same degree of assurance. To trust its results you must trust the vendor.

    • Open-source voting: Secure over obscure?
  • Openness

    • More open source ID: Quirky’s portable tripod lives up to the company’s name

      Annie Leibovitz meets Japanese schoolgirl: The DigiDude is a portable camera “tripod with character” produced by the open-source Quirky, a sort of online design-by-committee community that shares profits with contributors proportional to input, meaning you can truly give (and get) your two cents’ worth.

    • FalconView Mapping Software Goes Open Source

      The Georgia Tech Research Institute ( GTRI ) has released an open-source version of its popular FalconViewTM software. The program displays topographical maps, aeronautical charts, satellite images and other maps, along with overlay tools that can be displayed on any map background.

  • Literature

    • Open-Source Textbooks a Mixed Bag in California

      As California moves forward with the first open-source digital textbook program in the nation this fall, the best content seems a lot less like Wikipedia and a lot more like traditional publishing.

    • Gov. Schwarzenegger Releases Free Digital Textbook Initiative Phase 1 Report

      Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the first report of California’s free digital textbook initiative – which outlines how high school math and science textbooks submitted under the first phase of the initiative measure up against the state’s rigorous academic content standards. Of the 16 free digital textbooks for high school math and science reviewed, ten meet at least 90 percent of California’s standards. Four meet 100 percent of standards, including the CK-12 Foundation’s CK-12 Single Variable Calculus, CK-12 Trigonometry, CK-12 Chemistry and Dr. H. Jerome Keisler’s Elementary Calculus: An Infinitesimal Approach.

    • As textbook costs stack up, interest grows in e-books

      “When Pluto becomes not a planet, you can fix it very quickly,” said Rich Baraniuk, an engineering professor at Rice University who pioneered the field of open source class materials. “It’s going to take a decade to get Pluto out of all the nation’s printed science books.”

  • Programming

    • GNU Generation: Bringing Pre-University Students into Free Software

      While GNU Generation isn’t the next Google Highly Open Participation Contest™ (GHOP), the two efforts have a lot in common. My name is Max Shinn and I am going into my junior year of high school. This summer, though, I’m interning with the Free Software Foundation (FSF). When I was participating in GHOP, I never imagined that I would be using that experience to start a similar project. I have been working on GNU Generation extensively as part of my internship with the FSF.

  • Audio


  • Censorship/Web Abuse

    • DVD Copying Software is “Illegal”, but Copying?

      Making backup copies etc. is so eminently reasonable that it needs spelling out by the courts. Paradoxically, not spelling it out is worse for the film industry, since the boundary of what is and is not (morally) acceptable are ill-defined, letting people make it up as they go along.

    • US studios want NZ copyright justice ‘streamlined’

      Federation Against Copyright Theft executive director Tony Eaton has signalled the lobby group may push for a “streamlined” enforcement regime that would mean people accused of piracy could be cut off from the internet without a full hearing.

    • U.S. Web-Tracking Plan Stirs Privacy Fears

      The Obama administration is proposing to scale back a long-standing ban on tracking how people use government Internet sites with “cookies” and other technologies, raising alarms among privacy groups.

    • Mann releases mushroom doc on USB stick

      Last fall, British company PNY offered a 2GB flash drive for sale in Europe pre-loaded with the 1984 hit Ghostbusters. However, that drive contained digital rights management software in an attempt to prevent viewers from copying or sharing the film.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Unbranded: Lindens To Ban Unauthorized Virtual Copies of Real World Brands on Ecommerce Site

      Starting on September 14, virtual Angelina Jolie will no longer be for sale on Second Life’s ecommerce site. (Unless, that is, Ms. Jolie herself sees fit to put a copy of herself on xStreetSL, the Lindens’ ecommerce site, which was acquired last January.) The same can be said of virtual Barack Obama, several avatar versions of whom are now for sale on xStreetSL, like this one. Unless, again, the President himself authorizes someone to create and sell a version of his appearance as an avatar.

    • “Snatching Digital Rights” or Protecting Our Culture? Burning Man and the EFF

      Burning Man deeply respects the efforts of the EFF, and frankly, would ourselves like to embrace their opinion – but we don’t think the issue is as simple as Corynne McSherry would have you believe. Just like the EFF, we honestly seek to think outside old paradigms and boxes of “creative property” in the digital age, but we view Black Rock City through a more complicated lens, and our view of issues facing creative ownership is not rendered in extremes of black and white. To us, the rights of the individual participant to privacy while in Black Rock City in this unique environment for free expression — and our philosophical desire to maintain it out of reach of those who would exploit that expression just to sell cars or soft drinks — happens to come first.

      In fact, there are but two essential reasons we maintain these increased controls on behalf of our community: to protect our participants so that images that violate their privacy are not displayed, and to prevent companies from using Burning Man to sell products.

  • Newspapers

    • One way newspaper paywalls could work: Sport

      Of course, there is one major drawback with this idea. There is evidence that moving sport from free-to-air to pay-TV is damaging some games at a grass roots level – sticking online media coverage behind a paywall may only make matters worse. But that’s another issue…

    • Behind a billionaire’s interest in the Globe

      While the Reader’s story noted how unusual it was for owners of a newspaper to threaten another newspaper over publication of a news story, Barnhill said: “We urged them to be extremely careful to ensure that they didn’t publish anything inaccurate, misleading, or defamatory. That’s a standard we would expect any news organization to adhere to, including not just our own but also those that cover us.’’

    • Why Murdoch, the old media reactionary, is wrong to charge for content

      I have never received so many calls from so many places across the world to talk about the momentous decision by Rupert Murdoch to charge people for access to his newspaper websites.

    • Five Key Reasons Why Newspapers Are Failing

      1. Consumers don’t pay for news. They have never paid for news.

      The problem of the daily press in the U.S. is exclusively this: the collapse of its business model. That model used to be, plainly put, making money—a lot of money, oceans of money—delivering advertising on newsprint into peoples’ homes. Subscribers didn’t pay for news. Advertisers did.

      Remember “shoppers,” the poorly designed throwaway publications filled with tacky little ads? Daily newspapers are high-end shoppers.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Thomas Bartol, computational neuroscientist for the Salk Institute 06 (2005)

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

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