Bonum Certa Men Certa

Links 29/07/2009: Debian on Time-Based Releases

GNOME bluefish



  • Are we too naive by believing that GNU/Linux is more secure by design?
    Now, there are people that say that it's just that GNU/Linux is less attractive to malware software because there are so few of us GNU/Linux users. I have always thought that this is crap but anyway....

    Now, think about the things that FLOSS developers get to do: - Crack encrypted DVDs - Allow for communication between Microsoft Windows hosts (with a twisted SMB protocol) and *NIX hosts before Microsoft (reluctantly... but with a lot of PR spin, as usual) released the documentation about it - Synchronize with iTunes - Running GNU/Linux on basically any piece of equipment worthy of running it (with or without support by the vendor).. and some others that aren't worthy but.... - Brake every DRM mechanism ever built

  • Researchers Try to Stalk Botnets Used by Hackers
    The Sandia computer, which the researchers have named MegaTux, in a reference to Tux, the penguin character that is the official mascot of the Linux operating system, is an example of a new kind of computational science, in which computers are used to simulate scientific instruments that were once used in physical world laboratories. For example, Microsoft researchers have created a vast visualization database they call the world wide telescope.


    The Dell Thunderbird supercomputer used for the Sandia project has 4,480 Intel microprocessors, far fewer than the million operating systems the researchers sought to simulate. But they used “virtual machine” software technology to get each microprocessor to simultaneously run many instances of a Linux-based component called a kernel — a basic component of an operating system that manages communications between software and hardware.

    Because most botnets are written for the Windows operating system, the researchers are planning to use an open source program called Wine, making it possible to run Windows-based programs without actually having the complete Windows operating system. They said they were not using Windows itself because of the licensing costs of purchasing one million copies of Windows.

    Sandia Computer Scientists Boot One Million Linux Kernels as Virtual Machines

    Computer scientists at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, Calif., have for the first time successfully demonstrated the ability to run more than a million Linux kernels as virtual machines.

  • Last Chance to Help a Child Get a Good Linux Computer
    Ok so it's not your last chance ever, but it is your last chance to support Linux Against Poverty's Austin install fest. This coming Saturday, August 1 2009, in lovely Austin, Texas, USA.

  • Babel Com buys Everything Linux
    Babel will re-establish a retail presence for Everything Linux on Sydney's north shore, and will enlarge its mail order business, which focuses entirely on Linux products. The value of the transaction was not disclosed.

  • Want To Learn About Linux/Unix? Cygwin Is A Great Free Package.
    It is an excellent tool to learn about Linux/Unix without actually installing a real copy or having to buy a computer for the exercise.

  • Desktop

    • Linux netbook distributor having trouble keeping up with demand
      System76 sells laptop and desktop computers preloaded with Ubuntu Linux. The company’s Starling Netbook was one of the first Intel Atom powered mini-laptops to ship with Ubuntu 9.04. And apparently demand for the netbook has been so high that the company is having trouble keeping the netbook in stock.

    • Ten plus years of Linux desktops.
      The next site I found covers the years from 1999 to 2003. This British Linux website has taken a multitude of screenshots over this period and boy, has that computer(s) been worked hard. These shots really show how, even with the hardware of that time, Linux really kicked some serious gluteus maximus when it comes to multi-tasking. Just as an example the below screenshot shows more windows open than I have ever had as well as television and a windows game running under wine.


      We are now coming into the home stretch with a couple of web sites with many screen shots from 2008 and 2009. In those years compiz-fusion really made the Linux big time with some amazing effects like this 2008 one of many from an XFCE forum showing mind and picture bending effects.

    • Mr Windowspants has a bad day
      Windows development is static. It occurs systematically and is planned in incremental stages, timed for intended release dates. Not always successfully, but that is the intention.

      Linux is fluid. it is undergoing change in different areas simultaneously. There is no real 'planned' release dates except those by smaller teams who want to provide pre-fabbed distros which include the most recent versions of software available.

    • 5 things Windows 7 lacks vs Linux
      - A decent repository system like apt-get on Debian based distro's


      - A tabbed based file manager like Nautilus


      - The possibility to choose your own desktop enviroment


      - Many Open Source apps are platform independent and expendable


      - Linux complies to industry standards while Microsoft tries to monopolize

    • Fun with VirtualBox
      It's funny how much the Windows XP install screen resembles the blue screen of death. Installing Windows takes far longer than Ubuntu. The former took me around an hour or so, not counting the half hour of frustration I spent calling Microsoft's automated product registration line the next day, while the latter takes all of 20 minutes, if that much.


      VirtualBox is great for running software that isn't compatible with your primary OS, and for trying out different distros as full installs rather than mere live CDs. I'm having fun with it and finding it to be very useful.

  • Kernel Space

    • NVIDIA Issues 185.xx Stable Linux Driver Update
      While NVIDIA's driver engineers are hard at work on the 190.xx driver series, which among other features does bring OpenGL 3.2 support, for those living by the stable releases there is a new driver that's out today. The NVIDIA 185.18.29 Linux driver was uploaded to NVIDIA's FTP server this morning and does bring a number of changes as listed in their official release highlights.

    • It's A Week Until 2.0 Sandtorg Is Released
      Last week a detailed guide to Phoronix Test Suite 2.0 was published and it was mentioned that this major update to our testing/benchmarking software would be released in less than two weeks. This afternoon we are formally announcing that Phoronix Test Suite 2.0 "Sandtorg" will be released on the 4th of August. Tomorrow we will also be announcing PTS Desktop Live 2009.3 (codenamed "Gernlinden") and this new Linux distribution will also be released next Tuesday.

    • Ultra X Linux: Ubuntu With A Faster Kernel
      Ultra X Linux is very easy to install and use. After you download the desired ISO file and burn it to a DVD, then the installation will take place in no time. The latest version of Ultra X Linux distribution can be downloaded from the official website.

  • Applications

    • Organize your writing with Writer’s Cafe
      One of those tools is Writer’s Cafe. This piece of software is a very powerful suite of writer’s tools that is available for Linux, Mac, and Windows and has a HUGE feature set perfect for making your writing task much easier. In this article we will be discussing the Linux version of the software. All of the features are included in all of the different operating systems.

    • Get started with HomeBank
      With HomeBank you can automate recurring transactions, set reminders for future transactions, assess your future account balance so you can plan your spending sprees and manage your expenses expertly. You see, we work hard for our pay cheques - well, some of us work harder than others - and we spend money on groceries, utilities and, ahem, fun Fridays. But keeping track of what's coming in, when the bills are due and how much is left after the recurring monthly expenses is not something that many of us make the effort to do. It's time-consuming and boring and there's always that episode of 24 that you'd rather be watching.

    • Lists

      • 7 Tasks You Shouldn’t Use a GUI For
        Sometimes the GUI is just too slow. Learn how to resize images, add drop shadows, splice mp3s, clone hard drives and more with the command line.

      • 10 of the Best Free Linux Chess Apps
        Chess is a recreational and competitive board game played between two players. It is a very popular game, played by millions across the world, in clubs, online, by correspondence, and in tournaments.

        Chess has the virtue of being suitable for people of all ages. It has many positive attributes such as to help individuals develop their memory, improve and enhance their concentration, as well as logical thinking. It also promotes and improves imagination and creativity. Chess is one of those games that takes a few days to learn and the rest of your life to master, with the game being a never ending learning process, even for the top players.

      • Top 3 Linux HTML editors
        This post is dedicated to quality html editors for Linux and Ubuntu operating system in particular. You may think that nowadays nobody uses offline editors as there are so many content management systems (CMS) like Drupal (my favourite one), Wordpress, Joomla etc. which contain embedded visual html editors. But today I made sure myself that sometimes it’s real pain to draw a 10×20 table using Wordpress’s editor…

    • Multimedia

      • Music Player Review: qmmp vs audacious
        So Audacious "wins" cause they have more plug-ins, options, and skins by default. Also they have a voice removal pluging (a little bit buggy) but quite awesome if you want to get some karaoke going. I will definitely be looking for that feature in more music players. (Neither is continuing in my review, as they are competiting more with each other, than the others)

      • Replacing iTunes: a Songbird Review
        Songbird was first released in 2006 by the creators of Mozilla Firefox, Winamp and Netscape Navigator, The Pioneers of the Inevitable. Lets a take a look at why Songbird is so highly rated by everyone.

  • Distributions

    • Automatic Mandriva Linux Media Setup
      This article directs attention to a site that provides a very useful service to Mandriva linux users. Known as easy urpmi this site makes it easy as its name suggests to add media sources in Mandriva Linux to the Package Manager. This can come in handy if their is a problem with the Official medias or if you want to setup the PLF medias.

    • Debian

      • Debian Decides to Adopt Time-Based Release Freezes
        The Debian project has decided to adopt a new policy of time-based development freezes for future releases, on a two-year cycle. Freezes will from now on happen in the December of every odd year, which means that releases will from now on happen sometime in the first half of every even year.

      • Debian to adopt time-based releases
        "To accommodate the needs of larger organisations and other users with a long upgrade process, the Debian project commits to provide the possibility to skip the upcoming release and do a skip-upgrade straight from Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 ("Lenny") to Debian GNU/Linux 7.0 (not yet codenamed).

        "Although the next freeze is only a short time away, the Debian project hopes to achieve several prominent goals with it. The most important are multi-arch support, which will improve the installation of 32-bit packages on 64-bit machines, and an optimised boot process for better boot performance and reliability."

      • Knoppix - First glance
        I've only had it installed for about a half hour now, but it's pretty snappy on my old system and even has some good Compiz effects running. I also like that Iceweasle is the default browser.

    • Ubuntu

      • Alfresco Community Now Available for Ubuntu
        Alfresco Software Inc, the leader in open source enterprise content management (ECM), today announced that Alfresco Community Edition 3.2 is available as an easy-to-install package from the Ubuntu software repositories. The Ubuntu and Alfresco communities can now easily get up and running with Alfresco Community Edition.

      • BROWN?! Brown? Really, Ubuntu's Brown?
        I can not believe how many people think Ubuntu’s brown, Ubuntu is not brown! It’s ORANGE!

      • What is Ubuntu linux, and is it ready for me?
        Ubuntu is easy to install. You download the operating system from Canonical's site and make a boot CD from it or use a USB drive. Then you reboot to that device, and it will let you run Ubuntu right from the CD so ou can see if you like it before you try to install it.

      • Top 10 Ubuntu Programs (Redux)

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Netbooks are an opportunity for new companies - Freescale's Rich Beyer
      Another little number from HDG (High Definition Generation) which costs only €£90 is the Linux cnMbook which uses a MIPS processor. A WINCE version of the cnMbook using an ARM processor costs €£135.

    • HP Mini 5101 now available with Linux, HD screen, other options
      HP has started offering configuration options for the Mini 5101 business-class netbook. The pre-configured version of this netbook starts at $399, while the base price for customizable models are $539 if you want Windows XP and $498 if you choose the model with SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop. Bear in mind, the only way to get those prices is to ignore all upgrades and remove the WiFi and Bluetooth options.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source's transitional phase
    Modularity is not inherent in open source, but it is a common theme that stems from open development. If you're going to make it easy for people to contribute to or extend your product, you need to make sure it's modular.

  • WASC Honeypot Opens Up With Open Source
    The idea behind the IT security concept known as the honeypot is all about luring hackers into a server or network so they can be tracked. The Web Application Security Consortium (WASC) has its own particular brand of honey to attract would-be attackers -- a blend of open source and open proxies.

  • Interview: Stephen Carlyle-Smith aka Me_Programmer
    Q. What draws you to open source, what is your Free software philosophy?

    I particularly like the way that we all provide each other with programming help and actual source code, which enables everyone to learn and produce software much faster than they would be able to otherwise. It's a shame that in the corporate world, when somebody learns something, it's top secret and usually patented. Just think how advanced technology (not just software) might be if everyone shared their knowledge and skills with everyone else. Q. What are the things to avoid, the things that make FLOSS game development fail?

    The biggest problem is not getting something playable as quickly as possible. Whether its a one-man project or bigger, people soon get bored of discussing and planning everything to death. You need to show yourself and everyone that you are actually doing something practical that is actually possible and progress is being made. There are a million "Status: 1-Planning" projects on Sourceforge as a testament to this. Q. If you could take one abandoned FLOSS game and restore it's development (excluding your own titles!) which would it be?

    I don't really know any off the top of my head. I sometimes browse Sourceforge to see if there's anything I can help with, but I usually end up with ideas and inspiration to write a game of my own! Unfortunately, trying to understand someone else's source code and designs (especially the larger ones) is often harder than just writing my own project. Q. What are your future game development plans and which of your games do you hope to see come to fruition in the near future?

    My dream is to have a game (and more importantly, a community) as popular as, say, Starcraft. This is my ultimate (and obviously unattainable) ambition, but if one of my games can get a thousandth of the popularity of that, then I'll be more than pleased!

  • Fog Computing

    • The Private Cloud: Opening the Door for Open Source
      Contrary to public opinion, I do not think open source is irrelevant in the cloud; I merely think it will not, by itself, unseat the current or previous generations of technical giants. And while it won’t unseat the Amazon’s and Google’s of the world, open source could compel them to be more open than they would in a market absent such pressure.

      Whether open source takes a role front and center, then, remains to be seen, but is certain that it will – as it has to date – have a crucial role in shaping the cloud market to come.

    • Open Source or Cloud?
      Of course, many cloud providers run their environments on open source software, so many cloud customers will end up indirectly using open source as well. But when seeking faster, cheaper solutions, organizations will need to examine the pros and cons of going with an on-premise open source solution, versus a pay-as-you-go cloud solution. This may be the next big software question of the new decade around the corner.

    • HadoopDB: An Open Source Parallel Database
      HadoopDB is comprised of Postgres on each node (database layer), Hadoop/MapReduce as a communication layer that coordinates the multiple nodes each running Postgres, and Hive as the translation layer. The result is a shared-nothing parallel database, that business analysts can interact with using a SQL-like language. [Technical details can be found in the following paper.]

  • Business

    • Synaq named Zimbra VAR in Africa
      Managed Linux services provider, Synaq, has been appointed as one of the first Zimbra VARs in Africa. Synaq has trained and certified its technical and sales teams to provide consulting, integration and installation support of Zimbra collaboration suite (ZCS) - an open source, e-mail and collaboration software platform. Zimbra, which is a Yahoo company, claims to offer one of the fastest growing collaboration platforms in the world.

  • Press Releases

  • Healthcare

    • Medsphere's Open Source Health Upgrade
      Medsphere is the provider for OpenVista, the commercial open source implementation of the Veteran's Adminsitration's VistA package. Medsphere spent the better part of the last seven years customizing it for commercial use, extending the ecosystem around it to make a commercial version, and driving acceptance of it in various. There are over two hundred different installations of OpenVista in use right now, both in hospitals around the U.S. and in the Indian Health Service (the latter of which accounts for a fair percent of that installed base). Hospitals like Midland Memorial Hospital (in Texas) have been using OpenVista and reaping its benefits for some time now.

    • A Glass Slipper?
      Meanwhile, Whiles is highly satisfied with the Medsphere open-source VistA system's functionality. “I would put open-source VistA up against Epic or any product any day,” he opines. “No system is a panacea, and neither is open VistA. There are certain functional areas that are not well-developed, simply because of the background, such as women's and children's services, OB/GYN, and pediatrics, labor and delivery; but that's simply because the VA doesn't provide those services.” But as other hospitals begin to implement Medsphere open-source VistA, he says, those clinical areas will add functionality over time.

  • Funding

    • Free like Franks Beer
      The neighborhood picnic is a good representation of the Linux/OpenSource community. Everyone pitches in and pays for things they will later give away for free to the others.


    • GNU Generation: Calling all pre-university students
      GNU Generation is a new project sponsored by the Free Software Foundation to involve high school age pre-university students (approximately ages 13-18) in free software.


      Both programming and non-programming projects are available, and several projects can accommodate many different skill levels, so this is an ideal opportunity for new users of GNU/Linux to get involved.

  • Openness

    • Scribbling for ‘Social’ Change!
      To kick-start this evolution, we’ve launched new social publishing pages on Scribd — fun features that make it easy for you to instantly share what you’re reading and publishing with Scribd’s community. Scribble about your reading list, newly uploaded documents or updates you’ve made to a previous work.

  • Education

    • OpenLearn Research Report published
      The Open University has published a research report which is now available online (see link below). The report evaluates the impact OpenLearn has had internally and externally and the challenges that lie ahead in open content and establishing open learning networks

    • Library Awarded $175,000 Mellon Foundation Grant for Support of Open Source Software for Libraries
      The University of Rochester River Campus Libraries has been awarded $175,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to provide development support for the eXtensible Catalog (XC), the library's newly developed software interface that vastly improves library searches.

    • U.C. Berkeley plans open source software for lecture distribution
      The university has already spent $220,000 this year on this project, named “Opencast Matterhorn.” Now grants totaling $1.5 million from the Andrew W. Mellon and William and Flora Hewlett foundations will cover that expense and pay for further development of the system.

  • Programming/Hacking

    • gcc-4.4.1 is out!
      If you are already using the testing branch of the overlay your default compiler should be gcc-4.4.0.

    • Pro Git book released
      Just a heads up - I've been working on a book on Git being published by Apress called "Pro Git", which is being licensed under a CC 3.0 license and as I've just finished some of the final reviews, I've put the entire content of the book online at:

    • Mozilla

      • Remixing Angie Byron to create the next Million Mozillians
        If a given open source community (and I'd argue the open source community writ large) wants to grow, fighting over coders in the sweet spot will be one approach, but its sustainability (and growth) may be more limited. However, figuring out how to task up the other activities so your coders can focus more and more narrowly on just coding may be another, and ultimately more effective route to success. As Angie points out, creating more effective tools is one part of getting there - but it is only one part. Figuring out the culture and soft skills that will get you there is the other.

      • microsoft's settlement proposal
        (Note: This is my personal opinion and does not necessarily reflect Mozilla's position or any formal statement from Mozilla. I expect that Mozilla will make some kind of public comment on this topic, but this is definitely not that.)

        On Friday Microsoft released a statement and a number of documents that they hope will lead to a settlement with the European Commission with regards to the ongoing legal case against Microsoft for violating EU anti-competition statutes.

      • 17 Cool Firefox about:config Tricks
        about:config page contains most of Firefox configuration options as you know.So it is the most powerful and effective way to tweak and enhance your Firefox experience.Here is 17 coolest about:config tricks i gathered from all around web and my experience...

      • Firefox, Firebug, XULRunner, Thunderbird, WebQA, Mozilla Camp, JavaScript Web Workers, press coverage, and more…


  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Microsoft Wave has ups and downs
      After much thought, I remain baffled. Technically, it's otiose: you can trademark logos and names, but copyright is automatic in new work, as we should all know in these days of heightened IP awareness. Trademarking makes sense, as it does give you additional, powerful legal safeguards, but Microsoft Wave hasn't been trademarked in the UK. The only thing the copyright symbol can refer to is the logo itself - but why bother? The behemoth doth protest too much. It's almost as if it's nervous that it might, after all, be infringing on someone else's IP, and feels the need for some magic amulet to ward off evil.

      The effect on us hyper-sensitive watchers of intellectual property is quite different: it's a bit like getting a manuscript from a wannabe writer which has (C) FRED BLOGGS and a paragraph of legalese as a footnote on every page - somebody who hasn't quite got it.

    • Music Industry Groups Threaten Hunger Strike Over Piracy
      In apparent despair at the levels of music piracy in Nigeria, a collection of music industry groups are hoping to attract the attention of the country’s president by taking drastic measures. They hope that broadcasters will soon run a “no music day” and if that wasn’t dramatic enough, they are also calling for a “mass hunger strike”.

    • Oracle sues Qtrax, claims P2P site owes $1.8 million
      Oracle, the giant enterprise software company, has accused Qtrax, the legal peer-to-peer music service, of copyright infringement and breach of contract in a $2 million lawsuit filed last week in Northern California.

    • AP: “We’re Done” Answering Questions About Fair Use & Our Rights System
      Still confused about the Associated Press’s announcement last week about a new content tagging system that’s supposed to provide rights information? I am — but the AP’s apparently not talking to anyone further about it.

      “For the moment, we’re done,” said AP spokesperson Paul Colford. “We’ve spoken to innumerable people,” he said, and now the AP is going to “leave the phone at rest” and “tend to our knitting” to “refine and improve” things.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Luis Casas Luengo, Director of Extremadura's Fundecyt foundation 08 (2004)

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

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