Links 18/7/2012: KDE Workspaces 4.9, Raspbian

Posted in News Roundup at 7:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • What Large Brazilian Organizations Thinks of GNU/Linux

    A large retail chain, Casas Bahia, with 53K employees and $billions in revenue (2008) ran Suse GNU/Linux on mainframes and POS (point-of-sale) systems with zero failures in five years giving real-time information on every transaction with security.

  • Motoring on Linux

    Years ago, an old friend of mine remarked that if his car was controlled by the Windows operating system, it would take him ages to get anywhere.

    He reached this conclusion after spending many mornings downloading updates to his Windows-based system and then rebooting it before he could start work. From this, he surmised that if such Windows software was used to control the electronic systems in his car, he would spend an equal amount of time in the driver’s seat waiting for updates before he could even put his key in the ignition.

    My friend, of course, was a complete and utter technical Luddite — one of those chaps that would rather have lived in the age of steam where at least he would have some vague notion about how large amounts of very hot water could be used to propel vehicles along a track.

  • Softly on a budget

    The primary freeware photo-editing option on a Linux system is the ”ugly and cranky” GIMP.

    MICROSOFT is about to drop Windows 8 on us and Apple has an operating system update coming soon. They will cost money. And do we need them? What if you could get all the photo-editing and other essential software absolutely free? Well, good news – you can.

    Linux, the open-source operating system, has come of age. Not so long ago it was too geekily intimidating for the average mortal to even consider as an alternative to the big two, but the latest versions are not much harder to use than Windows or OS X.

  • Linux distributions that can run on an MK802 Mini PC

    The MK802 is a tiny computer that looks like a USB flash drive, and which ships with Google Android 4.0 and sells for around $80 or less. It’s designed to be something you can plug into a TV to surf the web, watch video, and play games on the big screen.

  • Desktop

    • Dell Gives Linux Laptops Another Chance

      Today Dell announced its official re-entry into the Linux laptop market. Project Sputnik, first announced in May, is graduating from Dell’s internal incubator program into a real product. According to project lead Barton Geroge, Dell will sell a special “developer edition” of its XPS13 Ultrabook starting this fall.

      The laptop will come pre-loaded with Ubuntu, a user friendly distribution of the open source operating system Linux (or GNU/Linux to purists). George said the laptop won’t be able to dual boot Windows. But Dell made available an Ubuntu install image customized for the XPS13, so you could buy the Windows version and install Ubuntu yourself if you require dual booting. George says the developer version will be the high end configuration of the XPS13, with 4GB of RAM, an Intel Core i7 processor and a 256GB solid state hard drive. This model currently sells for $1,499, and George says the Linux version will sell for a little bit less than the Windows version.

    • Fail Client: How Linux Fails At The Corporate Desktop

      My work takes me in and out of busy offices all day long. I see Macs, I see PCs, I see servers and printers. I see PCs running Windows which is no surprise, but what I never see are PCs running Linux. “Why is this?” I always ask myself. I mean, the benefits of open source far outweigh the risks and from an administrative viewpoint, the OS is a lot easier to manage. So what is it that is holding Linux back? It’s not spreadsheets and documents –word files and excel files can be easily handled in LibreOffice– nor is it Access/database related as you can get KEXI running in no time. No, I will tell you what is holding Linux back and the answer is simple. Outlook.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

    • Shotwell Faces Tool: Weekly Report 07 & 08

      This last two weeks I’ve continued the work on the test suite, adding face recognition using Philipp Wagner’s FaceRecognizer class and some scripts to help doing the testing. I’ve also wrote the instructions to use all those tiny programs at [1] —it could be incomplete, please ask whatever you need ;)

      This face recognition thing seems to be more about collect people faces to make a decent and realistic database to train the face recognition model and then try to recognize this same people in other photos. There is really few code to show: Since I discover, read and understand the new OpenCV FaceRecognizer class [2], the written code is really simple [a] —in fact, the main task of this last two weeks has been mainly to do tests, trying to make a decent faces-database of my friends to improve the results I’m getting from my tests: About 30% of accuracy recognizing people —in the articles I’ve read there are people talking about more accuracy, but such accuracy seems to be not so real, because they use face-databases like the one at [3], and we can’t expect Shotwell users making that kind of photos.

    • Information Grows Strong Roots With TreeLine

      Part of what makes TreeLine such an easy information organization tool is its tree structure. It lets you configure the note-entering process to fit a variety of informational types. So you do not have to shoehorn information into a make-do mess. TreeLine may take some effort to learn to use at 100 percent effectiveness, but once you do, it will be worth the effort.

    • Proprietary

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine

    • Games

      • OUYA Approaches $5 Million In Backing, Attracts 5x Goal (So Far)
      • Unigine Hosting Open Air Game Conference

        Unigine Corp is hosting an interesting “open air” game development conference later this week in Tomsk, Russia.

        Unfortunately it’s on short notice, but hopefully it will become an annual thing: Unigine OpenAir. This is perhaps the most interesting and unique game development conference I’ve yet to hear about: it’s camping in tents outside the city of Tomsk for two days filled with gaming-related talks. There is no Internet connection at Unigine OpenAir, but to make up for it Unigine is hosting a whiskey party, barbecues and kebabs, the best DJ from Siberia, fires, and other special events.

      • Linux Gaming Begins Gathering Steam

        “Steam remains one of the best assets in the gaming space today that doesn’t get much attention due to the console cycles and the rise of social gaming,” said P.J. McNealy, consultant at Digital World Research. “However, it’s right in the thick of the emerging business models for gaming, and being available on Linux certainly can’t hurt.”

      • 100 “Funnest” Open Source Games and Apps

        It’s become something of a summer tradition here at Datamation to take a break from featuring open source apps for businesses and concentrate on open source apps that are just plain fun. This year, we’ve updated and expanded our list of the open source movement’s “funnest” apps with 100 titles in all. We’ve added two entirely new categories: board games and sports games, and we found plenty of good games that we had overlooked on previous versions of this list.

      • 5 Blogs You Should Follow For Linux Gaming
      • Valve Games and Steam on Ubuntu 12.04

        Yesterday, the Valve Linux team publicly announced their ongoing work to bring Steam to Linux. A major part of that announcement is the choice of Ubuntu 12.04.

        Valve has been a major force in gaming since 1996. Gabe Newell and the Valve team have created some of the best game series EVER. Half-Life, Counter-Strike, Day of Defeat, and most recently Portal are extremely popular, and quite addicting.

      • With Valve On Linux, Has LGP Lost All Relevance?

        Aside from how Valve can better embrace Linux and open-source, another thing to ponder with Valve officially writing about Steam/Source on Linux, is the future of Linux Game Publishing.

        Linux Game Publishing got a new CEO in January and aside from a brief company update in February, nothing new has come out since. The company hasn’t released any new Linux game ports in years, their blog has been silent, and there hasn’t been any rumblings of new projects to be announced soon.

      • Steam’d Penguins
      • Steam on Ubuntu
  • Desktop Environments

    • New Features Of Enlightenment Desktop : Tooltips and Wallpaper Background Fill Colors

      The Enlightenment desktop is heading for a stable release finally, and new features are being added everyday. You can also submit your feature ideas in their Trac page and if you are lucky and your feature charming enough, the developers will add it to the next Enlightenment release. Recently, the developers closed two feature request tickets and added them in default Enlightenment desktop.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • QtNetworkManager To Be Improved

        If you are a Gnome user, you are lucky enough to face no problems in connecting with wireless and wired Internet networks.

      • Phonon-GStreamer Update Fixes Gapless Playback Bug

        If you are a KDE fan and felt irritated because you were unable to experience gapless playback, you will be relived to know that phonon developers have finally got this issue fixed. Phonon-Gstreamer 4.6.1 is a bugfix release, and along with this bug, developers have also fixed a handful of major bugs like:

      • Moun Suite 1.4 RC Released

        Kubuntu developer, Jonathan Thomas, blogged about the release of Moun Suite 1.4. Some of the major improvements in this release includes enhancements in Moun Discover, update manager and a bug fix in language support.

      • KDE 4.9: More Change Than You’d Expect

        KDE 4.9 is a mature release, so you wouldn’t expect major renovations. However, to judge from the second release candidate (technically, the 4.8.97 release), that expectation is no more than half correct.

        Yes, the release is full of the small refinements that characterize an incremental release. However, it also includes some more important features, most of them to do with Activities, as the development team continues its efforts to make the release series’ most major innovation more appealing and useful to users.

        Users wishing to try the release candidate can always compile from source, or check the development repositories of their distribution.

      • Sprint News and Pre-Alpha Release of Kolab 3.0
    • GNOME Desktop

      • Why I Went Back To Gnome From KDE

        I recently became a KDE user, that was the time when Gnome Shell was going through transition and extensions were missing and I was looking for something which I could use without much frustration. One of the things that I love the most about KDE is the polishes interface and total control over your desktop. You can customize almost every aspect of KDE. In addition, the familiar UI (simple and aimed at the traditional desktop) makes it easy to continue to work without having to learn new tricks.

      • Future Releases Of Gnome May Include PIN Unlock Facility

        If you find hard to type long passwords in your touch devices, you may get relief soon. Gnome developer Giovanni Campagna is currently working on a PIN unlock feature, similar to mobile phones, that is aimed at being touch friendly replacement of passwords.

      • Why Look Forward to GNOME 3.5.4

        Matthias Clasen routinely posts previews to upcoming GNOME releases and recently he did it again. In a post on his personal blog, Clasen, a GNOME developer, highlighted some of new features coming to GNOME 3.5.4. He is joined by Alex Diavatis, of www.worldofgnome.org, who offers a closer look at some of the new features as well.

        The first mention in Clasen’s post is of Nautilus. He said, “Nautilus has received a major face-lift, and looks very much like a GNOME 3 application now.” Diavatis writes, “Nautilus menu moved into a single button on top right” and “the symbolic icons on the left, which seems pretty.”

      • This is how Nautilus looks in SolusOS
      • Making GTK3 themes – Part 1: Basics

        I’m Satya. I’ll be writing some tutorials about making GTK3 themes here at World of Gnome. Thanks to woGue for giving me a chance to write here :)

        In this post I’ll discuss some basic things about GTK3 themes. So let’s start…

        The new trend is to use the web technologies everywhere, be it smartphone or desktop. Web technologies are generally easier, and that’s why they are so widespread. So what it has to do about GTK3 themes? A lot, because GTK3 themes use CSS syntax, which is widely used in the web. CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets. The CSS syntax is very easy to understand and and use. For example, if we want to set a blue background and white text color in a paragraph (represented as p in HTML), the CSS syntax will be,

      • Oops!… I crashed it again ;)
  • Distributions

    • Linux Deepin 12.06 preview
    • New Releases

      • SystemRescueCd 2.8.1
      • Canaima 3.1-VC3
      • Alpine 2.4.5 released

        The Alpine Linux project is pleased to announce the immediate availablity of version 2.4.5 of its Alpine Linux operating system.

      • SystemRescueCd update includes version 2.00 of GRUB

        The latest 2.8.1 release of SystemRescueCd upgrades a number of the live system’s bundled tools as well as its underlying components, such as the GRUB bootloader. The Gentoo-based GPLv2-licensed distribution for administering and repairing systems includes the recent stable GRUB 2.00 bootloader release and updates the standard long-term kernel to Linux 3.2.23; the alternative kernel is now at version 3.4.5.

      • Softpedia Linux Weekly, Issue 208

        · Announced Distro: CentOS 6.3
        · Announced Distro: OS4 12.5
        · Announced Distro: Linux Mint 13 RC KDE
        · Announced Distro: Finnix 105

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Mageia has been visiting Europe

        Like last year, Mageia had a presence at Linuxtag in Berlin, one of the biggest Linux and OpenSource events in Europe.

        And like last year we shared a booth with the German MandrivaUser.de community. At Linuxtag, we had some prominent members of the Mageia project there, some of them (Nicolas and Marja) coming all the way from France and the Netherlands.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat, Burt’s Bees among Social Madness winners

        At long last, local winners have been crowned in their respective categories in the nationwide social media contest dubbed Social Madness.

      • Red Hat Taking Advantage Of Turmoil In Europe
      • Why the Street Should Love Red Hat’s Earnings

        Although business headlines still tout earnings numbers, many investors have moved past net earnings as a measure of a company’s economic output. That’s because earnings are very often less trustworthy than cash flow, since earnings are more open to manipulation based on dubious judgment calls.

        Earnings’ unreliability is one of the reasons Foolish investors often flip straight past the income statement to check the cash flow statement. In general, by taking a close look at the cash moving in and out of the business, you can better understand whether the last batch of earnings brought money into the company, or merely disguised a cash gusher with a pretty headline.

      • Switch your CentOS systems to Oracle Linux
      • Fedora

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu App Showdown : Judges’ Voting On
          • Ubuntu 12.10 To Include Gwibber, Photos Lens By Default

            Ubuntu 12.10 scheduled to be released this October will include Gwibber and Photos lens by default. These lenses add up to the existing collection of lenses namely applications, files, music and videos.

          • Testing in Cadence

            Last month, an interesting thread emerged on ubuntu-devel. A proposal to change the way we as ubuntu look at testing and quality. In many ways it was more of a codification of ideas and thoughts from the precise cycle than a proposal.

            One of the outcomes of this was a change to how to test isos. Rather than focus on arbitrary moments in time, we’ve been asked to stick to a two week cadence for testing. What that means is a regular checkup of our images every two weeks. Quite a task, but not impossible! Given the fact the change happened mid-cycle, there has been some confusion over what exactly this means. I decided to put together a post detailing exactly what’s on the table for us as a community and more importantly how you can help!

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 274
          • Steam arrives on Ubuntu, Valve announces it from their new Linux blog
          • Your very own ARM-based Ubuntu servers in the cloud… for free

            Not content with dominating the world of smartphones and tablets, makers of low-power ARM chips are setting their sights on the server market. While x86 servers are still the norm, there have been hints for some time that ARM might become a presence in the data center. Another small, early step toward an ARM future was taken this week as the makers of an infrastructure-as-a-service testbed added ARM servers as a free option for developers.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • You Asked For It, PC-like Performance From A Small Cheap Computer

      While the Raspberry Pi is interesting to everyone, it is most suitable for absolute newbies learning software, it’s target market.

    • Want to buy more than one Raspberry Pi? Now you can!

      Up until now, we’ve had to restrict purchases of the Raspberry Pi to one per customer because the demand has been (and continues to be) so high. Both of our manufacturing partners have been working at building capacity so you we can lift that limit – right now, 4000 Raspberry Pis are being made every day. As of this morning, you’ll be able to buy as many Raspberry Pis as you want from both RS Components and element14/Premier Farnell. (See below for ordering instructions.)

    • Raspbery Pi’s Own Raspbian Gets SD Card Image

      Raspberry Pi foundation has announced the release of the first SD card image based on the Raspbian distribution. The image will make it easier for Raspberry Pi users to switch from ‘generic’ Debian Squeeze to this ‘optimized’ image.

    • Raspbian Linux now available for Raspberry Pi: Up to 40 percent faster than Debian

      Raspbian is a Linux-based operating system optimized for the Raspberry Pi, a low power, inexpensive mini-computer with a 700 MHz ARM11 processor. Up until recently, the folks behind the little computer had recommended using Debian Linux for an operating system. But benchmarks show Raspbian to be up to 40 percent faster at some tasks.

    • Raspbian-based SD card image released
    • Phones

      • MeeGo Revived: Interview With Jolla CEO

        MeeGo was one of the most promising open source mobile platform developed by Intel in conjunction with Nokia. I have been tracking Intel’s MID (Mobile Internet Devices) efforts from my Linux For You days when I asked about it during an Intel event in Jaipur (India) and Intel director Narendra Bhandari took it to himself to explain about the project.

        Intel worked with Nokia to transform its Maemo platform into MeeGo to help Intel realise its MID aspirations. Everything was going of well, despite the slow yet promising development of MeeGo. Then came Microsoft’s Stephen Elop who infamously killed almost all of Nokia’s open source projects and reduced the once market leader into a hardware dilevery truck for Microsoft’s failed mobile OS.

      • Android

        • Android-X86 4.0.4 (ICS) RC2 Released With ARM Translator, More [Android For Netbooks Or Laptops]
        • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is Hard to Crack, Says Security Expert

          Google’s latest Android OS, version 4.1 Jelly Bean, is properly strengthened against hacking exploits and malware, according to mobile security researcher Jon Oberheide.

          The analysis, posted on Duo Security’s bulletin on July 16, says that Android has “stepped its game up” in protecting against malicious exploits.

        • Fujitsu to offer smartphone specifically designed for elderly users

          Japanese electronics firm Fujitsu unveiled a new smartphone yesterday designed for elderly users, featuring a unique touchscreen and Android user interface that’s been simplified. Called the F-12D from Fujitsu’s RakuRaku product line where “rakuraku” can be translated from Japanese to mean “easy” or “comfortable,” the company will primarily be aiming to target Japan’s aging population with this particular model.

        • XBMC Now Available For Android

          XBMC, an advanced, full-featured and attractive open-source media center is now available for Android. As per the announcement in XBMC blog, this version can be run on phones, media players, set-top boxes, tablets and all devices that are powered by Android.

          The program is in beta stage and not yet available in Play Store. XBMC developers are looking for people who can test this on their devices, so if you want to be one of their beta testers, head over to their blog.

        • CyanogenMod 9 running on the Nexus Q
        • Sony officially launches Sony Xperia S, P and U in the U.S
        • Android now powers 51.8% of US smartphones, growth continues

          Popular analyst company Nielsen has published its report on the US smartphone market in the second quarter of 2012. The quarter saw smartphone growth continue as two thirds of all new customers picked a smartphone.

          Android continues to be in lead, powering 51.8% of all US smartphones and 54.6% of the ones purchased over the past three months. And that was the quarter before the Samsung Galaxy S III was launched.

        • Meizu MX 4-core is now available globally, pricing still steep

          The original (dual-core) Meizu MX is one of the most popular smartphones in China. Shortly after the launch there, it was quietly made available around the world from various retailers. Later, after the huge success of the MX, Meizu announced a quad-core version – the MX 4-core.

        • sony xperia z: Leaked Details
        • Jelly Bean is the safest version of Android yet
        • Sony Xperia ion now available at Rogers, can be yours for $549.99 outright

          Here it is Canada… Sony’s first LTE-enabled smartphone has officially launched at Rogers, plus I think they are also first in North America to make this available. The Xperia ion can now be yours, as expected, for $49.99 on a 3-year and ranges north to $549.99 outright. The ion comes seriously stacked with specs: 4.6-inch display (1280 x 720), 12MP Sony Exmor R camera that shoots 1080p videos, LTE connectivity, has a 1.5GHz dual core processor and is 10.8 mm thin. Now, the ion currently runs OS 2.3 Gingerbread but is on a path towards Ice Cream Sandwich sometime “soon.”

        • MIPS Works with Android 4.1, Focused on Low-Cost Tablets

          Among chip makers that have worked steadily with the Android mobile OS, you don’t hear MIPS Technologies mentioned much. But MIPS has, in fact, worked with Android since the birth of the OS, as we noted all the way back in 2009. When it comes to low cost Android tablet devices, you hear much discussion of devices running ARM chips, but MIPS has in fact been a competitive player in this space. Tablets based on MIPS chips and priced under $100 have made a mark around the world. Now there is news that MIPS will develop around Jelly Bean, otherwise known as Android 4.1.

        • Tikl Me, Elmo

          If you don’t have the push-to-talk (PTT) feature from your cell-phone provider, you can download the free Tikl app from the Android Marketplace. Tikl allows you to use PTT technology with any other users that have Tikl installed on their phones. Because Tikl is available for both Android and iOS, it covers a wide variety of smartphones.

        • ZTE Grand X coming to UK for £190 pay-as-you-go: 4.3-inch qHD, microSD, stock Android 4.0

          If this is the “advanced gaming smartphone” that ZTE teased a few days ago, then we can’t help but feel a little miffed. It’d be fairer to describe the Grand X as the most advanced phone in ZTE’s growing budget line-up, and if you look at it from that perspective then it’s rather more impressive. For £190 PAYG with Virgin Mobile in the UK, you’re getting a 4.3-inch qHD LCD touchscreen, dual-core 1GHz Tegra 2 processor (no Nexus 7 guts here unfortunately), microSD expandable storage (plus 4GB built-in and 512MB RAM), 5-megapixel rear camera and VGA front-facer, sub-10mm thickness and — ta-da! — stock Ice Cream Sandwich, albeit accompanied by legacy Gingerbread navigation buttons. We’d have liked to see the proper, up-to-date Android 4.0 button layout, but in any case the absence of ZTE’s Kanzi skin or indeed any other customization is a welcome change, because Google juice tastes fine served neat.

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

Free Software/Open Source

  • Chef Offers a Recipe for the Open Source Cloud

    As one of the original architects of Amazon’s EC2, Opscode CTO Chris Brown witnessed firsthand what happens when you make ubiquitous and nearly infinite computing power available to engineers who were used to working with a handful of machines. In short, you become very, very popular.

  • Multi-touch in WebKit-Clutter

    Following my past work on multi-touch support in Clutter, have been playing lately in implementing the W3C Touch Events API in the Clutter port of WebKit.

    A lot of code can be reused from WebCore without problems, but we’ll need to do some mildly complex event translation because the W3C API and the one in Clutter (and in XInput and in Gtk+) are very different.

  • Open source offense could be our best defense against cyberattacks

    A core dilemma for IT today is how to properly protect the organizations’ information systems and assets given security tools often seem like a black hole sucking down both time and money. But a strong defense doesn’t have to be expensive, and a good place to start is assessing what information is publicly available and figuring out how to safeguard it from attack.

  • Open Compute Project Driving Open-Source Hardware Development

    The open-source hardware movement behind the year-old Open Compute Project is gaining traction.

  • Eaves: Open source communities need simple social “hacks?

    Turns out the open source development model has some flaws after all. Or is it just a case of geeks being geeks?

    David Eaves, principal of Eaves Consulting, told attendees during his opening keynote at OSCON 2012 today that a lot of the “soft” skills that hard core coders often scoff at are actually important when it comes to producing flawless code.

  • Twitter’s Open Source Big Data Tool Comes to the Cloud Courtesy of Nodeable

    Usually when we think of a pivot, we think of a company that has decided to drop its core offering and market a different product or service. Obvious Corporation put ODEO up for sale and focused on Twitter. BRBN shuttered its location check-in service and became Instagram. But Nodeable‘s pivot isn’t that sort of pivot.

    Today Nodeable launched a new service called StreamReduce, a cloud-hosted real-time big data analytics product. StreamReduce is based on the same architecture as Nodeable’s existing IT operations monitoring tool. The company is keeping its current service, but is expanding its scope by marketing beyond its current base of developers and system administrators.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

    • Mozilla

      • New Security and Developer Features Now in Firefox [14]
      • Firefox 14 is now available

        Firefox 14 is now available as a free download for Windows, Mac, and Linux from http://www.mozilla.org/firefox/new/. As always, we recommend that users keep up to date with the newest version of Firefox for the latest features and fixes. The release notes for Firefox 14 are available at http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/14.0.1/releasenotes/. Firefox 14 is also now available for Android. The associated release notes are available at https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/mobile/14.0.1/releasenotes/index.html.

  • SaaS

  • Databases

    • 7 hard truths about the NoSQL revolution

      The NoSQL buzzword has been metastasizing for several years. The excitement about these fast data stores has been intoxicating, and we’re as guilty as anyone of seeing the groundbreaking appeal of NoSQL. Yet the honeymoon is coming to an end, and it’s time to start balancing our enthusiasm with some gimlet-eyed hard truths.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 3.6 RC1 Released
    • Will open source office suites go the way of Thunderbird?

      Microsoft’s latest entry in the office productivity is such a blatant move towards convergence of mobile and desktop, you have to wonder if they are going too far, too fast.

      If mobile and cloud is indeed the new direction of productivity apps, open source office suites must innovate quickly or die.

      Microsoft wants to embrace desktop and mobile users as much as possible with their upcoming Office 2013 release, and right now it feels like Microsoft just pulled away from LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice, leaving the venerable open source office suites eating Microsoft’s dust.

  • Education

  • Healthcare

    • Open source hospital information system to be packaged for Debian

      The Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (Vista), an open source hospital information system used in 160 hospitals, several hundreds of clinics and more than a hundred nursing homes, will become part of the Debian free software distribution. This was announced at the Libre Software Meeting (LSM/RMLL) in Geneva, last week Wednesday.

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD 9.1-BETA1 Available…
    • FreeBSD 9.1 enters beta

      The developers at the FreeBSD Project have released the first beta for version 9.1 of the open source FreeBSD operating system. Aimed at developers and testers, the first test build of FreeBSD 9.1 was originally expected to arrive on 6 July but later fell behind schedule. In the mailing list announcement, Ken Smith, a member of the Release Engineering Team, says that the developers “hope this will be the only BETA build”, noting that it will be followed by two release candidate builds.


    • The FSF Compliance Lab Doubles

      Last month, Joshua Gay and Donald Robertson III, two long time employees, took on responsibility for the Free Software Foundation’s (FSF) compliance lab (http://www.fsf.org/licensing/). Already, they are finding that having two people not only allows them to do more, but to organize more for future growth as well.

      “Already, we’re doing all the things Brett was doing and rolling out new projects,” Gay and Robertson say. They are referring to Brett Smith, the former solo employee for the lab, who is now employed by the W3 Consortium.

  • Project Releases

  • Public Services/Government

    • Helping the European Parliament to release its own free software

      For the first time, the European Parliament is about to release one of its own programs as Free Software. The program in question is called AT4AM, short for “Automatic Tool for Amendments”. The Parliament is in the business of making laws, and AT4AM automates a lot of the formal stuff associated with the production process.

      To understand what AT4AM means for MEPs and their staff, have a look at how amendments were filed before, and how it works now. (Vimeo. Flash required, sorry.) Parliament staffer Erik Josefsson compared the introduction of AT4AM to the arrival of version control for developers. It’s been in use inside the parliament for about 18 months, and it’s a pretty fundamental tool for the people working there.

  • Licensing

    • Can the Terms of the GPL Prevent GNU/Linux being used for War?

      There’s been a lot of noise on the internet recently about the fact that the Windows-based software being used in the remote control system of drones use by the American military has been hit by a virus and this has caused the Department of Defense (DOD) to use GNU/Linux which is a more secure option. This has, predictably, caused raised eyebrows and demands by some that any military organisation should be prevented from using GNU/Linux in offensive weapons systems. The use of Drones in Afghanistan is a highly controversial issue but it is not the purpose of this article to debate the morality and ethics of deploying drones in an area of asymetrical conflict but rather to explore if it is actually possible to use the terms of the GPL to legally prevent the deployment of software or operating systems by any government’s military.

    • Now You Can Also Join The Open Source Initiative

      The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is accepting applications for Individual Membership, starting immediately. Open source community members worldwide are invited to join OSI now at opensource.org/join and help shape the future of open source.

      “The transformation of the OSI into a member-based organization is a timely and important step for the worldwide open source community,” said Simon Phipps, OSI President.”I encourage everyone to visit opensource.org/join and take a stand for open source.”

    • New life for the Open Source Initiative

      OSI, an important, but long quiet, open-source organization is seeking to revitalize itself with a new membership program.

    • OSI Announces It Will Open the Organization to Individual Members

      Wednesday, July 17, at the O’Reilly Open Source Conference in Portland, Oregon, the Open Source Initiative (OSI) announced a new initiative to open up the organization to individual members. Historically, the organization was open only to affiliate members, so this announcement marks a significant new direction for the open-source advocate. The shift represents a move from a governance model of volunteer and self-appointed directors to one driven by members.


  • Finance

    • Is The Wall Street Casino Closing?

      In a powerful sign of tough times for the casino business, Wall Street powerhouse Goldman Sachs is actually going to use their bank charter to do what banks do – expand loans.

    • Goldman Settles Class-Action Over $698 Million Offering

      Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) reached a class settlement with investors in a $698 million mortgage- backed securities offering, a lawyer for the plaintiffs told a federal judge in New York.

      David Wales, who represents the Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi, told U.S. District Judge Harold Baer in a letter made public today that both sides had accepted a settlement proposed by a mediator. Details of the agreement weren’t disclosed.

  • Civil Rights

    • NSA Mimics Google, Pisses Off Senate

      In 2008, a team of software coders inside the National Security Agency started reverse-engineering the database that ran Google.

      They closely followed the Google research paper describing BigTable — the sweeping database that underpinned many of the Google’s online services, running across tens of thousands of computer servers — but they also went a little further. In rebuilding this massive database, they beefed up the security. After all, this was the NSA.

      Like Google, the agency needed a way of storing and retrieving massive amounts of data across an army of servers, but it also needed extra tools for protecting all that data from prying eyes. They added “cell level” software controls that could separate various classifications of data, ensuring that each user could only access the information they were authorized to access. It was a key part of the NSA’s effort to improve the security of its own networks.

Restricted Boot Arguably Fought Against by Linux, Not Just GNU

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel at 1:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: More news about UEFI amidst action from Linux (kernel) developers

WE have spent a great deal of time covering restricted boot (UEFI) in this site. Here is some more new coverage of interest.

If ways can be found to avert and circumvent UEFI, that will be good. Despite weaknesses in the Linux-hostile “secure boot” mechanism, both Fedora and Ubuntu decided to facilitate it, by essentially adopting two different approaches. Richard Stallman has finally spoken out on this subject. He notes that “if the user doesn’t control the keys, then it’s a kind of shackle, and that would be true no matter what system it is.” He notes that “Microsoft demands that ARM computers sold for Windows 8 be set up so that the user cannot change the keys; in other words, turn it into restricted boot.” Furthermore, he notes, “this is not a security feature. This is abuse of the users. I think it ought to be illegal.”

This is a major subject for those who pursue software freedom and not just GNU/Linux world domination, which is not the same thing (Linux, for example, can ‘succeed’ with DRM, UEFI/restricted boot, Tivoisation, etc.).

Microsoft Makes Skype More User-hostile and Buggy

Posted in Microsoft at 1:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: A leak of Skype source code allegedly shows Microsoft putting back doors in the software

“Microsoft changes skype supernodes architecture to support wiretapping,” we are being warned. “I think wiretapping is one of the big reasons for the rearchitecture. Skype officially claimed they could not comply with wiretapping requests because of the P2P network as late as 2008 (http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-9963028-38.html), and Microsoft was already working on wiretapping VoIP in 2009 (http://blog.tmcnet.com/blog/tom-keating/microsoft-patents-vo…).”

This is a quote from one reliable person and it does not surprise us given what we wrote over the years about Skype, e.g.:

“Leaked Skype source code may document Microsoft added backdoors,” says one person. “There is also a report that Skype can not be uninstalled from Windows 7.” (source)

This one blog goes further by confirming what we said Microsoft might do for the authorities. Here is another take, focusing on another bad aspect:

M$ and its fans are only too willing to tout the energy and excellence of M$’s work and products. How, then, does stuff like this happen?
Skype text messages I received have gone to another contact: “Few days ago one friend from my contact list has received few messages I had already received before from other my skype contact. It seemed these messages were sent by me. It is really confusing.”

Come to think of it, what on Earth is M$ doing that causes this behaviour? How does software relaying messages from one to another forward messages to a third party without direction from the user? Did they cripple the group chat stuff (extra cost) somehow and it escaped for the freebies? How do they get it to be random? That’s actually hard to do. You have to flip a coin at some point and how do you decide who the recipient will be? Is this the tip of some gigantic ice-berg?

It sure seems like Skype has become a major disaster zone, and not just because it’s proprietary. We might have to start a campaign.

FOSS Hostility in Network World (IDG)

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft at 12:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Flaming the readers


Summary: Biased reporting on Linux and FOSS requires a shout-out

ONE of the most FOSS-hostile sites out there is Network World, which is owned by IDG. Even their FOSS coverage comes from FOSS foes, but they are good at hiding their slant.

A few years ago we confronted the "bloated" FUD about Linux; it’s selective reporting basically. Right now there is more of the same from a consistently Linux-hostile writer. I avoided naming him, but after this article I realise that it’s not doing to stop until he is called out for it. His articles are almost always pro-Microsoft and Linux-hostile and his name is Jon Gold, whom I have just added to the credibility index.

Others reported on it too, but their pattern of publication is a mixture of good and bad.

Novell to Pursue Justice Over Microsoft Abuses in the Office Suites Market

Posted in Antitrust, Microsoft, Novell at 12:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

In spite of being foolish enough to not learn from the past

Novell suicide

Summary: Novell to appeal a decision in the WordPerfect case

THE OTHER day we wrote about the WordPerfect case, reminding people that Microsoft’s old abuses are still unpunished for.

Contrary to what Microsoft-friendly press might say, the case is not over (“Microsoft Wins Ruling Ending Novell Suit Over WordPerfect,” says one headline) because as Pamela Jones explains, Novell will appeal. To quote:

I doubt it will surprise you to learn that Judge Frederick Motz has ruled in favor of Microsoft in the Novell v. Microsoft WordPerfect antitrust matter. It was foreshadowed in the hearing on June 7, which the judge forgot to post on PACER so that the public couldn’t attend. We were able to obtain the transcript, though, and he was obviously lapping up all Microsoft’s arguments with gusto.
He has dismissed Novell’s claims by granting Microsoft’s motion for judgment as a matter of law. But not because of Microsoft’s innocence: “I recognize that this conclusion may appear somewhat disturbing because arguably it rewards Microsoft for unsavory behavior in the applications market,” the judge wrote. So despite the fact that the first jury was 11 to 1 for Novell, this judge has decided that no reasonable jury can rule for Novell, and it escapes on a technicality.

Yes, Novell can appeal. They surely can, if they want to. And they have now said they do intend to. The last time this same judge tried [PDF] something similar to this, Novell appealed, and he was overturned on appeal. So despite what you are reading in the media, this is not the end of this story. Litigation isn’t like a football game. It’s not over in a day, not until all the appeals are completed.

It is amazing that in this defunct legal system justice — if any — can take decades to reach. Right now Novell can barely bear the legal costs; it’s not a test to see who’s just; rather, it’s a test to see whose pockets are deeper.

“The government is not trying to destroy Microsoft, it’s simply seeking to compel Microsoft to obey the law. It’s quite revealing that Mr. Gates equates the two.”

Government official

Bill Gates Lobbies for Monopoly on Crops, Gates-funded BBC Advertises It

Posted in Bill Gates at 12:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Obstructing the voice of the people

Red signal

Summary: Media distortion and the serving of corporate interests seen even in the publicly funded BBC

THE corporate press is corrupt by design. It is run for the serving of some agenda, but it is good at hiding this. It needs to gives the impression of objectivity and professionalism (which on their own are not a business model).

The Gates Foundation is a giant tax-exempt corporation that engages in lobbying and favouritism, distortion of the government, and marginalisation of Gates’ opponents. It’s a master of media propaganda, with hundreds of millions of dollars per quarter allocated to that alone. An old article that Groklaw has found helps us realise just how deep inside government Gates goes:

Bill Gates, the second-richest man in America, was working through his second round of visits this past summer at the Federal Trade Commission, a place as creaky and antiquated as Gates’s Microsoft Corporation is sleek and dynamic.Gates had a potent lobbying team along: Microsoft’s chief in-house counsel, William Neukom; former FTC commissioner Patricia Bailey; and partners from New York’s Sullivan & Cromwell and from Preston Thor-grimson Shidler Gates & Ellis, the big Seattle-based firm where Gates’s father is a senior partner.

“Corporate ownership of the mass media, GE and Microsoft in the case of MSNBC, is a massive threat to democracy.”One reader showed us this new post which says that Gates is lobbying for yet more GMO interests. To quote: “Opponents of biology say basic research into new GM crops will take too long, and that food shortages could be addressed now through improving distribution and cutting waste.”

The original report comes from the Bill Gates-bribed (or funded, to use a euphemism) BBC [1, 2, 3] and the title is “British GM crop scientists win $10m grant from Gates”; the BBC has a history of promoting GMO interests, not just Gates’ propaganda. This whole thing is like an advertisement, so we omit the link (it can be found above).

MSNBC, in the mean time, has been another lobbying arm for Gates, but Microsoft’s relationship to it is said to be ending. [via]

To quote the British press:

Microsoft’s sold its stake in the 16-year online news venture it shared with US TV giant NBC.

NBC has bought out Microsoft’s half of MSNBC.com with the partnership dissolved so both companies can update their online offerings.

Financial terms have not been disclosed but the deal is reported to be worth £300m.

Microsoft is thought to have become frustrated by the terms of the partnership, which was forged in the dot-com glory days of 1996. The idea was to combine interactive news media with online delivery.

Bob Visse, general manager of MSN.com, told AP:

We are very disappointed to see the press and the government continuing to serve the criminal who is Mr. Gates, whitewashing his image and pushing his self-serving (for-profit) agenda. Corporate ownership of the mass media, GE and Microsoft in the case of MSNBC, is a massive threat to democracy. A lot of people already recognise this, but very few do something about it. Techrights has a Web page summarising the BBC’s Microsoft scandals.

Microsoft BBC

Microsoft Does Not Obey the Law

Posted in Antitrust, Law, Microsoft at 11:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Microsoft snubs authorities, breaking the law after it was penalised for breaking the law

A lot of publications have already covered the news about Microsoft not obeying orders, essentially by not making it possible to install alternative browsers as easily as mandated after Microsoft broke the law. To quote one report:

Brussels’ competition commissioner has opened a fresh investigation into Microsoft’s practice of using its Windows operating system to push people into using its Internet Explorer browser, following allegations of non-compliance with an EC settlement deal the software giant agreed to in late 2009.

Microsoft, under the legally-binding agreement, was supposed to display a choice screen to its European Windows customers allowing them to pick between IE, Firefox, Chrome and other browsers on the market until 2014.

“On Tuesday, the commission accused Microsoft of omitting a screen that gives users easier access to rivals’ Web browsers,” claimed IDG. This shows the sheer arrogance of Microsoft. It leads to another probe, which is unlikely to achieve much as Microsoft cannot understand any language other than force.

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) risks European Union penalties for failing to comply with a settlement to give users a choice of web browsers, more than two years after it tried to end a decade-long clash with antitrust regulators.
EU Competition Commission Joaquin Almunia said Microsoft may have misled regulators by failing to display a browser choice screen to users of the Windows operating system since February 2011. The world’s largest software company blamed a technical error for not showing the screen to some users and offered to extend its commitment until March 2016.

Jan Wildeboer says that:

[T]he EU case v Microsoft should also ring the alarm bells in Cupertino AFAICS. The main claim seems to be that there is no browser choice on Windows 8 on the ARM platform (where one can only have IE, just as iOS onyl allows it’s own engine)

That’s not the point though. It was not Apple that used illegal tactics to get a browser monopoly.

Here is another report about this antitrust failure:

The European Commission and Microsoft have been tangled in a long and drawn out legal battle that has now spanned almost 20 years. The EC reacted to accusations that the software giant was using its position as market leader to stifle competition by leveraging a $1.1 billion fine on the company. In a related case it also ruled that Microsoft should include a “browser ballot” with its operating systems. Now, a new dispute appears to be brewing, once again hinging on browser choice in Microsoft’s OSes. The Redmond-based company failed to include the required ballot screen with its Windows 7 Service Pack 1 update, and has also drawn criticism for preventing browser choice with its upcoming ARM-based operating system, Windows RT.

Our contributor iophk says that “‘browser choice’ was an ineffectual remedy anyway. It’s rather telling about the corporate culture there that Microsoft got caught trying to dodge out of even such a weak punishment. After all, it does zero to address the original problem of illegally tying/bundling MSIE with all Windows systems sold.”

We covered the subject in posts such as:

  1. Cablegate: European Commission Worried About Microsoft’s Browser Ballot Screen Being Inappropriate
  2. Microsoft’s Browser Ballot is Broken Again and Internet Explorer 8 is Critically Flawed
  3. Microsoft’s Ballot Screen is a Farce, Decoy
  4. A Ballot Screen is Not Justice, Internet Explorer Still Compromises Users’ PCs
  5. Microsoft Not Only Broke the Law in Europe, So Browser Ballot Should Become International
  6. Browser Ballot Critique
  7. Microsoft’s Fake “Choice” Campaign is Back
  8. Microsoft Claimed to be Cheating in Web Browsers Ballot
  9. Microsoft Loses Impact in the Web Despite Unfair Ballot Placements
  10. Given Choice, Customers Reject Microsoft
  11. Microsoft is Still Cheating in Browser Ballot — Claim

We have covered most points before, so there is no point doing that again.

The corporate press gave this issue a lot of coverage, but iophk notes that “[f]ines have no effect. Other remedies are necessary.” iophk recommends a “2-year ban on sales of Microsoft products in the EU,” insisting that it “would be a start.”

Remember that the only language Microsoft understands is force. We saw Microsoft refusing to obey orders many times before.

“Microsoft and its employees now think it is indeed the Master of the Universe.”

Stewart Alsop, Fortune

Microsoft’s Cash Cow is Suffering

Posted in Google, Microsoft, Office Suites at 11:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

White cow

Summary: The corporate press helps confirm that Microsoft’s technical failure takes its toll and the Office franchise is in jeopardy

THE folks from CBS say that “[a]ccording to a new report, the company [Microsoft] is doing everything from cutting prices to increasing commissions to resellers to stop enterprise customers from using Google Apps.”

The original report from Murdoch’s press basically helps confirm that Microsoft is hurt in the area that’s its biggest cash cows. Microsoft imitates the competition, but as we already saw, its downtime issues (caused perhaps by reliance on Windows) will continue to plague it [1, 2, 3]. Over the long run, Microsoft’s cash cow might take a massive hit, which considering Microsoft’s losses [1 2, 3] can put the company’s survival at peril.

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