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Links 13/03/2009: Tiny Core Introduced; Free Software in Russia

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  • Learn Linux Leanly

    Ah yes, there's that all too familiar sound of tightening budgets and the tossing aside of those things perceived as non-essential. Training's death knell reverberates in my head like the sound of an ill-tuned vesper bell. Your dilemma is that you need to learn Linux but you have no money to buy training — what do you do — wait indefinitely for money to return to the coffers, download Linux and fumble through it on your own? Or, do you take the initiative and find some inexpensive or free learning resources?

    The answer should be pretty clear.

    Download a copy of Linux, burn it to a CD or DVD and install it on a computer or in a virtual machine. You can't learn Linux without having a Linux system at your disposal. The first thing that you do in any operating system training class is install the operating system — now you'll have the jump on your classmates. Installation is a learning process in itself and you'll find it easy but very different from a Windows installation.

  • Open source at the business end

    Actor Stephen Fry's support of Twitter has been credited with pushing the micro-blogging tool into the mainstream. But his support for all things open source has been equally impassioned, and Fry recently singled out the company that hosts his podcasts for its dedication to open source. "My thanks as always go to the team at The Positive Internet Company. For 10 years they have used only free and open-source technologies like GNU Linux in their organisation," Fry said.


    Q: Stephen Fry has said nice things about your devotion to open source and your expertise in hosting — how did that relationship come about? A: With Stephen Fry there was an interesting osmosis between him and us and free software. His people liked our use of free software and had also heard good things about us through word of mouth and how we had done things for Ricky [Gervais]. Subsequently Stephen Fry has become a big fan of free software and in fact he recorded a birthday video for the GNU Project.

  • Supercomputer niche chucks rocks at Nehalem

    The SiCortex super runs a variant of Gentoo Linux and has a tweaked version of the Lustre open-source clustered file system controlled by Sun and used by many supercomputer centers. Sun bought the company behind the Lustre project in September 2007.

    SiCortex bought parallel-compiler maker PathScale in August 2007 and ported the compiler stack to its MIPS-based Gentoo rev. SiCortex also replaced the Linux boot sequence and added system-management tools, but Leonard says that the machine looks and feels like any normal Linux-based Beowulf cluster.

  • This week in the world of virtualization: Sun’s VirtualBox

    This week I had the pleasure of taking some personal time to play around with Sun Microsystem’s VirtualBox. What else can I say but, “Wow.” I am impressed with this excellent application. I had downloaded (v2.1.4) and configured it for Fedora Linux on my laptop. It was extremely simple. It came as an rpm and the installation took care of everything, including adding the shortcut launchers in my GNOME menu.

    I had wanted to install a virtualization application for quite some time now to help make development life simpler. I do a lot of low-level device driver development and for that reason I had invested (years back) in multiple dummy nodes to do my testing on. Well, not only do those nodes take up space and consume too much power but when I hit kernel panics, I do not want to have to wait for the system to restart and re-initialize for me to continue with my work. I want something simplified and that is where virtualization comes into the scene.

  • A Linux-Powered Cisco Server with VMware?

    Cisco in the server hardware business? With VMware? Using Linux? Has the world gone topsy-turvy while I wasn't looking? If you think about it, Cisco's forte--routers--are lightweight computers that do one specific job--routing packets from one network to another. So, their foray into the dark realm of higher-end server systems isn't such a big stretch for them.

  • Linux in 30 Days

    There actually was a time where I considered giving up this blog as it's been difficult to provide time to it (and other projects). However it seems from many of the comments sent directly to me, that it is an appreciated and valued resource for other users and new Linux users. Granted, that the focus is on the Debian based Ubuntu distribution, I've also read that non-Ubuntu users have also found it useful - And for that matter some Windows users have also expressed interest (which surprised me).

  • 14 of the Best Free Console Based Linux Multimedia Apps

    The vast majority of Linux users would never be satisfied without access to a graphical user interface. However, even in 2009 there remain many reasons why console based applications can be extremely desirable. Although console applications are very useful for updating, configuring, and repairing a system, their benefits are not only confined to system administration. Console based applications are light on system resources (very useful on low spec machines), can be faster and more efficient than their graphical counterparts, they do not stop working when X needs to be restarted, and are great for scripting purposes.

  • Students help expand MV school’s computing power

    Marshall, a senior, is one of several students who collaborate with IT Director Russ Bush in dealing with a variety of computer projects. Marshall’s work on cloud-based computing is built on top of the open-source Linux operating system and allows students to use older computers in a lab at Mount Vernon Middle School.


    Marshall, a senior, is one of several students who collaborate with IT Director Russ Bush in dealing with a variety of computer projects. Marshall’s work on cloud-based computing is built on top of the open-source Linux operating system and allows students to use older computers in a lab at Mount Vernon Middle School.


    Marshall has been working with Linux for six years, and has even done some computer consulting work on the side. Following high school, he plans to attend Kirkwood Community College while still doing some computer work for the Mount Vernon School District. He plans to transfer to a four-year college after completing Kirkwood.

  • Updated SDK supports 64-bit Linux-based applications

    With Version 3.0.0 of the iPORT Vision Suite for Linux, the iPORT SDK now allows Linux-based GigE imaging solutions to run on ultrawide 64-bit architectures, doubling the level of processing power available to Linux developers.

  • OpenFabrics Alliance Unveils Speaker Lineup for International Sonoma Workshop

    The OpenFabrics Alliance (OFA), an open-source organization that develops, tests and distributes high-performance, low-latency network software for Linux and Windows, today unveiled the speaker lineup for the OFA’s 5th Annual International Sonoma Workshop, which is scheduled for March 22-25 at The Lodge at Sonoma.

  • Amazon's New Option: On-Reserve Servers

    Amazon is presenting the new option, called Reserved Instances, as an alternative to buying your own on-premises servers. The up-front fees range from $325 per year for a standard Linux server to $2,600 per year for an "extra large" Linux server, with significant discounts for 3-year commitments. Note that Windows servers aren't offered as Reserved Instances at this point.

  • Linux Outlaws 81 - Double-Enders

    In this episode: The new, Flock going to Google Chrome, more on the TomTom case and a cheese discussion.

  • Kernel Space

    • Caustic Graphics Will Provide Linux Support

      Caustic Graphics, a brand-new company to the computer graphics scene that hopes to compete with AMD, Intel, and NVIDIA when it comes to ray-tracing power, announced the CausticRT on Monday. The CausticRT is "the world's first massively accelerated ray-tracing system" and can be found in CausticOne, which is their first product and it promises to deliver ray-tracing performance that's reportedly 20 times faster than the modern computer.

    • Why Is Moblin's X.Org Stack Faster Than In Ubuntu?

      Canonical's Scott James Remnant recently set out to explore why X.Org started up so much faster on Moblin than on Ubuntu (particularly, the latest 9.04 development code). On an Atom-based netbook (the Dell Mini 9) he found it took Ubuntu's X Server about four seconds to start before the session manager was called. With Moblin on the same hardware it took just about a second and a half.

    • Kernel Log: What's new in 2.6.29 - Part 5: Filesystems Btrfs, SquashFS, Ext4 without journaling

      If we are to believe the statements made by Linus Torvalds when presenting the seventh release candidate of 2.6.29, and assuming release candidates come weekly, it will be at least another week or two before Linux kernel 2.6.29 becomes available. The Kernel Log will, therefore, continue its report about the new features scheduled for 2.6.29 with what's new in terms of file systems.

    • Linux Has Worse Device Support Than Windows...I Don't Think So

      I was cleaning a virus out of a Windows XP system for a client when the UPS driver showed up with my latest gadget. The virus was one of the fake Anti-Virus viruses, you know, the kind that pops up all kinds of warnings that your system is infected or you are being attacked from some random IP address even when you are not connected to the Internet. We should be able to start a class action suit against these folks for the money they cost our clients. Anyhow, the gadget was a new MP4 watch. I am a sucker for watches that do other things.

      The package showed that the watch software required Windows 2000, XP or Vista. I had a computer close by that runs XP so I decided to test the watch on it. The only printed paper inside the package was a list, in several languages, of the contents of the box.


      Total time to get the watch working in Linux, 1/4 hour.

      Which system is it easier to get devices working in?

      By the way, I love the watch. I will do a review of the watch when I finish the BASIC series.

    • Cranes Software announces the release of NISA Version 16.0 for Linux

      Cranes Software International Ltd announced the release of Linux version of NISA Version 16.0 today. This version comes with more than 40 new features and marks, a significant improvement over the previous version.

  • KDE

    • Plasma dev team rocks

      Yesterday I updated KDE SVN. So, I have the latest dev stuff on my box again. Upon logging in, I was greeted by the new look of plasma.

      First of all, congrats to the artists. The AIR theme (of course a work in progress) looks bloody good.

  • Distributions

    • Mandriva 2009.1 Gets System Restore Functionality

      Delayed four days, Mandriva announced last night (March 10th) the first release candidate version of the upcoming Mandriva Linux 2009.1 (Spring) distribution. This RC release brings a Dual arch (32-bit and 64-bit) installable CD, and some of the hottest Linux technologies, such as: Linux kernel 2.6.29 RC6, server 1.6.0, QT 4.5.0, KDE 4.2.1, GNOME 2.26 RC, Xfce 4.6, OpenOffice.Org 3.0.1 and many more (see below for details).

    • High-security, RAMdisk Linux rev'd

      An interesting physical security-focused Linux distribution was upgraded a couple of days ago. Tin Hat Linux reportedly takes a Vista-like five minutes to boot, because its whole filesystem is decrypted and loaded from an optical drive onto a RAMdisk (tmpfs). But after that, it's likely Puppy-fast!


      According to the Tin Hat project page, Tin Hat "aims towards the ideal of guaranteeing zero information loss should the attacker physically acquire the box -- either the adversary is faced with no file system to even begin cracking, or if any non-ephemeral memory is found, the adversary should not be able to tell if he is looking at encrypted data or random noise."

    • Securely booting from strangest of places

      The USB drive, called the BeCrypt Trusted Client, contains a stripped-down version of Linux, along with any applications you want to run. This setup would allow a government worker to run a secure session from anywhere by using the basic secure OS along with downloadable applications provided by Citrix software or some other client. The material on the drive is encrypted with either 128 bit or 256 bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). This device costs $100, though there is a discount with purchase of multiple devices.

    • The USB finger guy adds his two bits

      Jerry Jalava's sci-fi finger became a Web sensation after a friend of his blogged about the creation, noting that the drive was loaded with a version of Linux.

      Jalava clarified the situation on his blog last night. For one thing, it's not permanent. For another, it's loaded with more than just the Billix version of Linux.

    • Exherbo Over Twice as Stable as Gentoo: A Totally Objective Study

      Potential users often ask whether Exherbo is stable. To test this, I decided to reinstall everything on my Gentoo desktop and my Exherbo laptop.

    • Tiny Core

      • Tiny Core Linux Has Just 10 MB In Size

        Maybe the smallest desktop-based Linux distribution, which requires only 10 MB free space on an USB drive, CD or an internal hard disk drive, Tiny Core Linux could give you a new experience and maximum Internet speed with a customizable X desktop and by running entirely in RAM. The Tiny Core Linux distribution is powered by Linux 2.6 kernel, Busybox, Tiny X, Fltk and Jwm. It shows fast booting speed and the latest version (Tiny Core Linux 1.2) comes with many improvements and bug fixes.

      • Tiny Core: A Linux desktop in just 10MB

        Despite being stripped to the bone Tiny is, in fact, easy to use, fast and installing additional applications is straight forward. Which doesn’t mean it will replace my desktop anytime soon but is probably worth installing on the USB flash drive I carry around.

    • Red Hat

      • moves into new headquarters in Raleigh

        Bob Young’s now calls a renovated building on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh as home. providers a variety of services and marketplaces for artists, musicians, authors and others who want to self-publish and sell digital content. The company will host a grand opening of sorts on Thursday with a luncheon.

      • Oracle: If RHEL were free, we wouldn't compete

        Now we find out that it's not a question of support at all, but rather that Oracle simply wants Linux to be free. Why? Because that makes its overpriced software seem cheaper.

        At least Oracle is being honest now. Coekaerts' argument is cheeky, but it makes strategic sense for Oracle. It just makes no financial sense for Red Hat.

      • Virgin America Announces New Entertainment Line-Up, More WiFi for Spring

        Virgin America plans to introduce additional video games, movies, a new television channel line-up, a Best of the Web category and other new content in the latter half of 2009 - all of which will be made possible by Linux-based system upgrades taking place this summer.

    • Ubuntu

      • RightScale Adds Full Support for Ubuntu Server to its Cloud Management Platform

        RightScale€®, Inc., the leader in cloud computing management, today announced full support for the popular Ubuntu distribution as part of the RightScale Cloud Management Platform. The Ubuntu software development community can now use RightScale to easily deploy and manage cloud applications on cloud infrastructures such as Amazon EC2 with complete control and portability.

      • CrunchBang Linux 8.10

        CrunchBang Linux (#!) is a lightweight Ubuntu-based distribution featuring the OpenBox window manager and Conky system monitor. The distribution is essentially a minimal Ubuntu install with a custom set of installed packages, and it has been designed to offer a balance between speed and functionality. The light system requirements suggest that CrunchBang Linux is a perfect match for an outdated computer or a netbook. With this in mind, your author tested CrunchBang Linux 8.10.02 on an Acer Aspire One with a 8 GB SSD and 512 MB RAM. Since the RAM is on the low end, this puts to the test how lightweight CrunchBang Linux really is.


        If you are looking for an easy-to-use and lightweight Linux distribution, CrunchBang Linux should definitely be considered. The combination of the OpenBox window manager and Conky system monitor with an Ubuntu base and a carefully chosen set of lightweight applications makes it unique. With CrunchBang Linux, you can revive an updated computer or let your netbook shine. Moreover, the huge set of available Ubuntu documentation also applies for this distribution. This makes it easy for Ubuntu users to migrate to CrunchBang Linux, while still having the advantages of the huge Ubuntu community.

      • Interview with Agostino Russo - Wubi - Ubuntu

        Sean Campbell: Tell us a little bit about your background, how you got involved with Ubuntu, and your relationship to Wubi.

        Agostino: I started using Ubuntu very early on, even before the first release. Around 2003 or 2004, I was a Debian user. I was helping people on forums, and a lot of friends were asking what distribution to use. I was very happy with Debian, but I never felt comfortable suggesting Debian to first timers. So I decided to test some Debian-based distribution that was supposedly “user friendly.”

    • Debian

      • Two in race for Debian project leader

        It's that time of the year again - the Debian GNU/Linux project is in election mode with the process for electing a leader for 2009-10 having begun.

        The campaigning period goes on till March 28 and the online voting process will be conducted between March 29 and April 11. The new leader will begin his term on April 17.

      • O hai Knoppix!

        I’ve successfully download the latest version of Knoppix and it’s now running live from my USB drive. Awesome, ain’t it? I used unetbootin but I was careless at first when I defined which device I wanted to use. Apparently I chose a different partition so my USB drive wasn’t recognized. The netbook wasn’t booting from it. Anyhow, it’s working now and here’s a screenshot of Knoppix at work.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Embedded Alley Launches Personalized Support and Collaboration Portal for Growing Customer Base and Partners

      Embedded Alley, a leading provider of embedded Linux€® solutions, today announced the launch of “Embedded Alley Junction”, a customizable support portal for collaboration with customers and partners. The customer-centric Junction brings together the broad and deep expertise embodied in the Embedded Alley team and the varied outlook and experience of the company’s clients and technology partners, encompassing consumer electronics, telecommunications infrastructure, industrial control, and other industries.

    • Linutop 2 - Linux PC review

      The Linutop 2 is one of the smallest PCs on the planet. We examine its potential as a cheap client system.

      If you’re looking for an exceptionally compact and frugal client PC, or even a low-power server for very light duties, the Linutop2 is an interesting prospect.

      It measure a tiny 140 x 140 x 35mm and it’s completely solid-state with no moving parts at all. It’s so small, in fact, that Linutop recommends mounting it on the back of a monitor, and it sells a bracket at €38 for the very purpose. The unit itself is also sold in packs of six at €1,560.

    • Phones

      • Assessing Android

        Despite being pressed by me, he wouldn't get into specifics (now, there's a surprise) about sales, saying only that they had exceeded expectations. But he did reveal that according to their market research, G1s were selling at 70-80% the rate of iPhones. Even allowing for margins of error and any tendency to talk up such numbers, this suggests a healthy uptake.

      • Android and the Big Bang at the Edge of the Web

        Android is coming. And with it comes the real big bang- the next generation WebKit document/application model.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • New Ways to Ride the Netbook Wave

        Netbooks have burst onto the computing scene in recent years, and their popularity can only grow as more vendors find ways to get these inexpensive and convenient devices into the hands of users. Perhaps a few new, inventive form factors and business models could shake things up even more.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Science, Closed Source

    One of the things that disappoints me is the lack of understanding of what's at stake with open source among some of the other open communities.


    In other words, he doesn't see any problem with perpetuating Microsoft's stranglehold on word processing. But it has consistently abused that monopoly by using its proprietary data formats to lock out commercial rivals or free alternatives, and push through pseudo-standards like OOXML that aren't truly open, and which have essentially destroyed ISO as a legitimate forum for open standards.

  • EU: Open Source Initiative approves European Union Public licence

    The Open Source Initiative (OSI), one of the principal advocacy organisations on open source software, has unanimously approved the European Union Public Licence (EUPL) version 1.1 as an open source licence, on 4 March.

  • Group test: web editors

    So, if you're looking around for a great web editor for Linux, just what is the state of editors for Linux and does it get any better than Vi or Emacs? Let's take a look at what options are on offer today.


    However, our winner has to be Bluefish, because it provides the best all-round package. The interface is mildly annoying and there's no way to access a preview within the application, but beyond that its excellent reference material and inherent versatility make it a valuable tool for both new and experienced developers alike.

  • Group test: note takers

    Paper - don't you just hate it? We live in the 'information age', and yet the much promised era of the paperless office still seems decades away. Our desks are cluttered with notes, reminders and scraps of random information that desperately need to be sorted, but it's hard to find the time.

    You've probably tried the brute-force method of computerising your notes: keeping a plain text file (or word processor document) on your desktop, ready at hand to tap in phone numbers, reminders and other tidbits that you need to store in a hurry.


    Our choice: Basket

    From the start, it looked like this would be a two-horse race between Tomboy and Basket. The former is one of the most celebrated Mono programs (which is why we spent a full page looking at it), and although we've been keeping track of it over the years, we were surprised at just how poorly it fared against today's KDE competition.

  • Project Zeppelin Looks To Manage Clouds

    Cittio is also launching an open source community development initiative that will work in concert with Zeppelin.

  • Opengear Juices Up Open Source Power Management Tools

    Responding to users' need to cap runaway power costs in data centers, Opengear has integrated its open source power management tools, and beefed up its line of open source console servers with better power monitoring.

  • Business

    • In Down Economy, Outshine Targets Open Source Solutions

      Focusing cost-saving technologies whose security this week is being adamantly defended by industry experts, an India-based IT services company reportedly is eyeing open source solutions and services.

      Officials at Delhi-based Outshine Solutions say they’re targeting open source technologies adoption as they target the global market.

      According to the company’s chief executive officer, Ashish Jha, Outshine feels that open source is not getting due attention, “so we have taken steps to promote and use open source technologies ourselves.”

      “We are also planning to give something back to the open source community in the near future,” Jha said. “We are the first company to officially support open source products and services worldwide.”

    • The Free Beer Economy

      Why is FREE! the world's best-selling noun, verb, adjective and adverb, yet so hard to credit as a foundation for business in the Internet Age? And what will happen when business folk finally grok the abundant opportunities that FREE! provides? lists 49 meanings for the word free. Here in the World of Linux, there are two main ones: 1) the presence of liberty, 2) the absence of price. Or, as Richard M. Stallman drew the distinction, free-as-in-freedom and free-as-in-beer. Both kinds contributed enormously to the development not only of free and open source code, but to the Internet — the place where most of that code was written and on which most of it runs.

    • Open source apps are no small free beer

      Richard Stallman once wrote that the point about free software is it is "free as in freedom, not free as in beer", meaning that people should be at liberty to do as they pleased with software, rather than subscribe to its restrictive licences. As the recession takes hold, the stress may be on the second half of his now-famous aphorism. To the millions downloading free software in a recession, the point is that it is free – as in free beer.

      Since Stallman first made his rallying cry as the founder of the free software movement in the 1980s, the way that software has been developed and distributed has been transformed. There cannot be a corner of the industrialised world that doesn't rely on some form of free software. But free software, and the open source movement it inspired, has so far affected mostly the back-end world of servers and databases, or taken over from software, like the web browser, that was already available at zero cost.

    • So you want to sell open source

      I use the word “sell” here not strictly in the sense of a financial transaction but also in the sense of getting your open source product to be adopted and have a better chance at standing out from the huge pool of available open source software. These last 3 years have showed me that what we today call “popular” open source software display a couple of distinct patterns, some of which seem to also be shared with other open source products that are distributed with some type of financial payback. So, without much further ado, here are some of my observations:

  • Sun

    • Q&A: Sun's CTO Talks About Cloud Computing

      InformationWeek: In a recent keynote, you talked about the intersection of cloud computing and open source. What are the advantages for data centers?

      Papadopoulos: The message there is, for those two things, the economic times will help accelerate their acceptance and not inhibit them. People are going to move rapidly to these types of environments. I think cloud computing and open source are deeply related to each other. If you're using a cloud -- especially a public cloud -- proprietary software licensing hasn't caught up there yet. It's really difficult to run Oracle or Windows in these cloud environments. Because the open source stuff is freely accessible, developers can make it happen more easily.

  • Government

    • Russia Rolls Out Open Source for Government

      It also published a draft plan of government bodies and agencies to use the budget of free software. The project includes a number of actions required for the phased introduction of ACT in the Russian government, including the training of public servants, a pilot project on introduction of ACT, support the development of free software in Russia.]


  • Wikileaked donor list shames US lawmaker

    Financial data belonging to more than 4,700 donors of Republican Senate candidate Norm Coleman have been leaked to the internet following a breach of his campaign website that also made public the contact details of another 51,000 supporters.

    Two Microsoft Excel files containing the supporter information were recently posted on Wikileaks. One file contained the names, addresses, phone numbers, employers, email addresses, and partial credit card numbers of 4,721 people who had donated to Coleman. He's the incumbent US Senator who is still wrangling with comedian and talk-show host Al Franken for one of Minnesota's Senate seats.

  • Censorship

    • China Congratulates EU on AT&T's Amendments Being Accepted to the Telecoms Package

      For example, Wikipedia has always been a source of headache for the Chinese government and the Copyright Enforcers alike. Entries such as Falun Gong, the IP filtering notes about AT&T, and AACS encryption key are very unfriendly to us, and therefore harm the society, since we represent the interest of the entire society. With these amendments, we can better prevent the spread of such harmful information to the society.

  • Copyrights

    • Scoop: NZ Linux Community reject copyright law

      New Zealand Linux Industry and Community reject guilt on accusation copyright laws Press release by LinuxChix NZ, Waikato Linux Users' Group and Wellington Linux Users' Group 11-March-2009

      A new threat has emerged against Linux and other Open Source Software: New Zealand's new, ill-conceived copyright laws that pave the way for users to be disconnected on accusation of copyright infringement.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Gabriella Coleman, an anthropologist, explains Free Software culture 10 (2004)

Ogg Theora

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


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