Bonum Certa Men Certa

Links 03/10/2009: KDE4 Developments, OLPC in Rwanda

GNOME bluefish



  • Linux Gazette: October 2009 (#167)
    The October issue of Linux Gazette is now online and ready to peruse. Highlights include:

    * QQ on Linux, by Silas Brown * Away Mission - SecureWorld Expos * Away Mission - Upcoming in October * A Quick-Fire chroot Environment * Two is better than one!

  • Linux Has No Marketing, But What if it Did?
    Many users of netbooks don't need, say, Microsoft's Office apps running. I use a netbook at home--and at events--for writing, web access, and e-mail. I can use Linux or Windows, so why not use the platform that is free of security problems? That would make for a good advertising campaign. Unfortunately, it's only an imaginary campaign.

  • Desktop

    • Google SketchUp Delights the Mind
      Here is how I came to design that museum. At my public library job, I help youth and adults who use the 28 Linux stations we have available seven days a week. Into the computer center walks a community resident, Kwadjo Dixon, from Ghana. The town I work in, Takoma Park, has residents from 92 countries. That makes for an interesting workday for me.

    • Invisible Locked-Up Linux and Crippled Linux
      Locking up Linux inside black boxes goes against its reason for existing in the first place. I wonder if all those people who call Richard Stallman an outmoded relic and lunatic still think he's wack for writing GPL3? This is why I keep talking about not leaving Linux and FOSS in the hands of big business, and bugging ordinary individual users to become contributors, and to keep the non-corporate Linux community thriving. We should have intersecting interests with our friends the big globalcorps-- we want to buy cool devices to use, and they want to sell them to us. But somehow that simple equation has become terribly distorted and we no longer have intersecting interests, but have to watch our backs every minute because we can't trust them to not pull some sneaky exploitive dodge.

    • The Twisting Path To Linux
      He called Microsoft.

      Go ahead...groan, it's ok. I did too.

      Bill was summarily told to call was their problem. Since there was nothing "wrong" with the operating system, the ball was in Acer's court, not theirs. He called and searched until he found the right number for their support...the support that deals with new and warrantied computers.

      Guess what he was told...told a few times actually because the tech agent had an accent that Bill found hard to understand...?

      Take the computer to a local repair shop and let them deal with it.

      Pain threshold reached.


      SuperOS along with Linux Mint are the two standards for our HeliOS Solutions and HeliOS Project installs. No muss, no fuss...everything works out of the futzing around with enabling Multiuniverse repositories...the average computer user wouldn't know where to look.

      Hence, our choices of distros.

      Bill was at home with the Gnome Desktop within minutes. He didn't care for the color theme so Dave showed him how to change it, modify it to his liking and get new themes to play with.

    • The Laptop Renovation Project
      At my office, we have a pair of old laptops purchased back in 2003 or 2004, which are terribly slow, woefully underpowered and horribly outdated, but which we still use periodically. In other words, they made a perfect target for an OS makeover.

      Anyone who has run Windows XP on a P4 with 256MB of RAM should be able to appreciate just how sluggish these machines are. So with my boss’s blessing, I gathered the two machines and tried to breathe some new life into them.


      Long story short, that didn’t work out so well. Did I mention these laptops were excruciatingly slow? Well, apparently YAST isn’t happy with less than 1 GB of RAM, so I went back to the drawing board. Trent had mentioned to me that he’d heard good things about Mint, so I pulled down Mint 7 and decided to give it a look.

  • Applications

    • Open source privacy enhancer BleachBit 0.6.5 released
      BleachBit frees disk space, removes hidden junk, and guards your privacy. Erase cache, delete cookies, clear Internet history, remove unused localizations, shred logs, and delete temporary files.

    • Five Really Fun Open Source Video Games
      Life can't be all work, all the time. You need to make room for some fun and games. When you're ready to kick back, kill some aliens, or riff on a guitar, here are some really fun open source video games to check out.

    • Teaching Kids Programming with Free Programming Languages
      Teaching young students or even your own kids to learn or be interested in programming can be really daunting. However, there are free programming languages that are designed to teach children the basic concepts and elements required in traditional programming that you can use to get the job done quite easily. Most of these languages are graphics-based that makes them fun and attractive for young ones or even for adults who are absolute beginner in programming. So enjoy and teach your kids programming with these free programming languages.

    • Mini-review: JayCut video editor for netbooks
      A couple of weeks ago, Swedish start-up JayCut began offering video editing software to netbook OS integrators using Moblin technology. Frankly, I found the thought of editing video on a netbook so improbable, I had to check it out myself.

  • Desktop Environments

    • Ten Of The Best GNOME Themes
      When I first began using Linux back in 2001, the themes I saw were beautiful but they don't compare to some of the themes I'm seeing lately. I'd like to show you some themes which will, in my opinion, spark more interest in GNOME themes.

    • KDE

      • Akonadi, Nepomuk and Strigi explained
        Let me start with Soprano. Soprano is a Qt library for accessing semantic storage (RDF). In many ways, Soprano can be compared to the QtSql module, the key difference is that QtSql accesses relational data with SQL as the query language, whereas Soprano accesses semantic data with SPARQL as the query language.

      • KDE 4.4 Address Book to use Akonadi
        Akonadi is the magic word for data storage for the KDE 4 desktop. Unfortunately none of the KDE 4 apps really use it. The KDE address book, KAddressBook, should become the first to do so.

      • small steps every forward
        Today I managed to get rid of one in memory pixmap for every Plasma::Applet with a background and cut back on the use of the SVG cache at the same time; in doing so I found a couple of subtle bugs in the use of the SVG cache by Plasma::FrameSvg and fixed those as well. The end result is that Plasma now uses a bit less X11 pixmap memory (or whatever the equivalent of that is on the host system if it isn't based), backgrounds for Plasma::Applet objects are correctly cached and the blast of disk activity that was being triggered while resizing widgets is gone.

      • Amarok 2.2 Has a Completely New Look and Feel
        Lydia Pintscher announced yesterday the release of the much-anticipated Amarok 2.2 music player for the K Desktop Environment. Dubbed "Sunjammer," this version has a completely cleaned-up user interface, Playlist manager enhancements and fixes, a better Context View layout, faster music folder scanning and improved import capabilities, and even Dynamic Playlists that can better predict the music that you would want to hear.

  • Distributions

    • Gentoo Family

      • Sabayon Linux x86/x86-64 5.o GNOME and KDE Released
        After a tremendous, though work, Sabayon5 is eventually here with a joint release between GNOME and KDE editions. Dedicated to those who like cutting edge stability, out of the box experience, outstanding Desktop performance, clean and beauty. Sabayon 5.o (five-point-ooh!) will catch you, anything that could have been compiled, has been compiled, anything cool that could have been implemented or updated, it’s there: you will find outstanding amount of new applications and features, like XBMC 9.04.1 (formerly known as Xbox Media Center), KDE 4.3.1, GNOME 2.26, E17, Linux kernel 2.6.31 and so forth. So, come on, go catch it, it’s half a DVD away from you!

      • Press Release: Sabayon Linux x86/x86-64 5.o GNOME and KDE

      • For me, Gentoo is about *convenient* choice
        Another part where choosing is made convenient in Gentoo are testing and unstable programs.

        I remember my pain with a Kubuntu, where I wanted to use the most recent version of Amarok. I either had to add a dedicated Amarok-only testing repository (which I'd need for every single testing program), or I had to switch my whole system into testing. I did the latter and my graphical package manager ceased to work. Just imagine how quickly I ran back to Gentoo.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • PlayOnLinux is in Ubuntu's repositories
        It's official now, PlayOnLinux will be available directly in the Ubuntu distribution soon! is what annouced Playonlinux team sometime ago, the confirmed that PlayOnLinux 3.5 will be available in Ubuntu's "universe" repository for the next release, Karmic Koala, in October.

      • How to manage your updates in Ubuntu
        One of Ubuntu’s strengths is its package management system.

      • Ubuntu 9.10 “Karmic Koala” Beta Reviewed (Screenshots!)
        Yesterday I installed the Ubuntu 9.10 “Karmic Koala” Beta release by way of the desktop (Live-CD) based installer. The installation was very clean and polished. It has been a while since I’ve used a graphical installer and I am pleased with the improvements that I found. It definitely rivals any “professional” or “enterprise” install session that I’ve ever seen, and easily beats them in terms of speed and ease. I’d like to give a short review of the Beta release and encourage everyone to try it and finalize any remaining bugs.

      • First Look: Ubuntu 9.10 beta "Karmic Koala"
        Looking good so far … looking forward to the final release due October 29th.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Acer to shift focus to Android smartphones
        Acer, while still developing Windows Mobile-based smartphones, has shifted its development policy to focus more on the Android platform, with at least half of new models launched in 2010 to be Android-based, according to industry sources.

      • Acer is starting to ignore Windows Mobile
        WHILE IT IS STILL developing Windows Mobile-based smartphones, Acer has shifted its development policy to focus more on Google's Android, reports Digitimes.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Maximum PC Primer: Lightweight Netbook Computing with Linux
        These days, netbooks have become a very popular alternative to conventional notebooks for mobile computing. Netbooks are lightweight, have great battery life, and are relatively inexpensive compared to full-sized notebooks. This makes them ideal for students or people on a budget. Of course, the lower cost and extended battery life does not come without a trade-off—many netbooks have lower system specs as well, which means that they are not designed for heavy-computing applications.

      • Charity laptop in Rwandan school
        Rory Cellan-Jones visits a school in Kigali where children are using computers supplied by the One Laptop Per Child project.

      • Laptops for all
        FOR the past year the pupils of Escuela 95, in a poor neighbourhood of Montevideo, have had a new learning tool. Each has been issued with a laptop computer. This has been of particular help to the 30 or so children with severe learning difficulties, says Elias Portugal, a special-needs teacher at the school. Before, he struggled to give them individual attention. Now, the laptops are helping them with basic language skills. “The machines capture the kids’ attention. They can type a word and the computer pronounces it,” he says.

      • The Innovator's Opportunity with OLPC
        So where does that take us? Aha! It takes us to the XO-2 screens. According to the designers, that means multi-touch haptic screens usable as display or keyboard.

      • Video: XO-1.5 Laptop Dual Boot - Gnome and Sugar UI
        You've heard the talk about the XO-1.5 laptop having a dual boot of Gnome and Sugar user interfaces on the Fedora 11 core. You've been thinking how this dual boot system might work, and how easy it would be to jump back and forth between the two.

      • ZaReason's New Terra A20 Ubuntu Netbook: Everything Works
        What follows is our hands-on review of the device and how it fairs for the mobile traveler.

      • Google's Chrome OS might tip up soon
        CHINA'S SHANZAI IT news website has reported that Google's Chrome OS might show up in inexpensive Chinese-made netbooks as early as mid-October.

      • First devices with Chrome OS this month?
        The first devices with the new Linux based Chrome OS from Google will probably hit the markets this month. This Operating System is mainly targeted at netbooks.

      • Test run: Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.10 Beta on my Dell Mini 10v
        Impressive for a beta release. Of course there are few glitches but overall it feels great: I’m writing this article from my Mini 10v running an Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.10 Beta live system.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open-Xchange Adds Push E-mail for Mobile Phones
    Open-source collaboration software vendor Open-Xchange is launching OXtender for Business Mobility, which adds support for push e-mail to mobile phones that use Microsoft's ActiveSync protocol, it said on Wednesday.

  • Cloudera hangs (more) elephants in sky
    Cloudera - the commercial Hadoop outfit - has launched beta programs for running its stuffed elephant distro on the sky-high compute services run by Rackspace and SoftLayer.

  • Web GUI hides number-crunching open source elephant
    Cloudera - the startup that commercialized the Google-like number crunching of the open source Hadoop project - has unveiled the first web-based GUI for running applications on the much-hyped distributed computing platform.

  • Five open source help desk apps to watch
    If your help desk software is giving you trouble, there are some open source options available to help ease your pain – without the high cost.

  • Report: More SMBs Are Adopting Open Source
    Of course, since the study was really intended to draw attention to MySQL, it does go on to show how a strong increase in the adoption of MySQL is expected. If this interests you, you might want to check out the actual survey here (free registration required).

  • ProDaMa: an open source Python library to generate protein structure datasets
    The huge difference between the number of known sequences and known tertiary structures has justified the use of automated methods for protein analysis. Although a general methodology to solve these problems has not been yet devised, researchers are engaged in developing more accurate techniques and algorithms whose training plays a relevant role in determining their performance.

  • Chinese IT shops love the free-ness of open source
    If everything is free in the Land with No IP - not TCP/IP, but rather intellectual property - then it stands to reason that IT managers and programmers in China would love open source software.

    And according to the fourth annual open source survey done by Actuate, a maker of open source business intelligence and reporting tools, Chinese programmers do indeed love open source.

  • Open Source Changing Face of Content Management Market, Says Report from Basex; Choosing the Right Platform is More Critical than Ever
    The report series is being published on a subscription basis and includes an in-depth industry survey, Content Management Systems: The New Math for Selecting Your Platform, and 16 Vendor Profiles of key content management providers and their offerings.

  • 3Di, Inc. Releases Open Source Virtual World Viewer for OpenSim: Offered Under Developer-Oriented BSD License and Aimed at Driving Industry Adoption of 3D Internet
    3Di, Inc., which develops and offers 3D Internet solutions (Head office: Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; CEO: Satoshi Koike; hereinafter referred to as 3Di) has today launched an open source project, named 3Di Viewer "Rei", for viewing and interacting with OpenSim-based(*1) 3D virtual worlds in web browsers.

  • Seneca students' 3D triumph -- open source creation a bonanza for digital games, movie production
    The motion capture technology that is often used to create realistic-looking action sequences in movies and video games takes a lot of manual labour to correct flaws. But thanks to a Toronto college and a Montreal developer, one games studio is now spending less time reconnecting limbs to all the right places.

  • Open Source GIS with Advanced Printing Functionalities, Geomajas 1.4.1
    The team of expert GIS developers from Belgium that have developed the Open Source, web-based editable GIS software framework Geomajas have now released the new and improved stable version 1.4.1. (

  • Open Source More Prevalent In Asian Organisations Says IDC
    Organisations across the Asia Pacific region are increasingly looking at open source software with an eye on reducing overall IT related costs according to a study conducted by research analyst firm IDC.

  • British Telecom picks Jaspersoft for analytics
    If you need further proof that open-source applications are ready for prime time, take today's news from open-source business intelligence company Jaspersoft, which announced that British Telecom is using its business intelligence suite to support more than 8 million voice mail subscribers.

  • Case study: BT uses open source BI to support its voicemail system
    BT has deployed open source software to support its voicemail system, which currently serves around eight million UK customers.

    With the help of systems integrator Unisys, the telco deployed Jaspersoft ’s open source business intelligence (BI) software in its statistical data warehouse (SDW) around 18 months ago, following an initial six-month development project around the source code.

  • ALRC going for open source CMS website
    The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) is trekking down the open source path, putting out a tender for a content management system (CMS) to integrate with a planned new website.

  • Zmanda Does Cloud Storage for Less with Open Source
    Zmanda Cloud Backup is based on the open source Amanda backup software, which Kant said saves the company "the hardest part of development." Kant said the service is easy to set up and use, requiring that users simply decide "what, where and when" to back up. Files are stored in a native format, so they can be accessed even without the service.

  • Mozilla

    • Mozilla trials a Firefox security tool
      MOZILLA IS ASKING researchers and developers to help test a security tool for its Firefox web browser.

    • Mozilla unveils cure for Web 2.0 world run amok
      The Mozilla Foundation has unveiled an early version of its Firefox browser that it says could virtually eliminate one of the most common attack forms now menacing the web.

    • Mozilla UX chief: What's next for Mozilla, Firefox and the Web
      Shortly after having a door slam in my face and it nearly breaking my nose, I sat down with Aza Raskin, the head of user experiences at Mozilla Labs to discuss not only where Mozilla is heading in the near future but also what he sees in the next-generation World Wide Web.

    • Enhance Firefox with SmarterFox
      Work smarter, not harder. It’s a good motto, and one that applies well to SmarterFox, an extension for Firefox that makes common tasks much easier to perform.


  • Openness

    • AMD Announces Open Physics Initiative
      A press release from AMD today announces the development of an Open Physics Initiative, together with Pixelux Entertainment. Pixelux is the developer of the Digital Molecular Matter (DMM) physics system used first in LucasArts' Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.


      Note that this doesn't mean that Pixelux's software will be free or open-source as Bullet is, but that it will allow licenses to use a the free and open-source Bullet library for a base level of physics and then to license and layer Pixelux's DMM engine on top of that - and all of it accelerated on any GPU with an OpenCL driver.

    • AMD touts Open Physics Initiative
      Under the agreement, Pixelux will integrate its Digital Molecular Matter technology with open source physics engine Bullet.

    • Open Source: Green Vehicle
      These days Open Source objects of art and operating systems are able to compete with mainstream commercial versions. But most Open Source projects are in the state of pure art, defying established notions of conducting business, developing technology and pushing boundaries of creative possibilities.

    • Google wriggles in open voice and browser debates
      This has given rise to a new group, the Open Android Alliance, which says its goal is to “replace all closed source, proprietary applications in the base Android install with open source applications that can be freely distributed. We don't have anything against the existing closed applications. However, we believe in open platforms and want all users to be able to modify their systems as they see fit.”

    • Stanford open-source "Frankencamera" could revolutionize photography
      Stanford University (Stanford, CA) scientists say they are out to reinvent digital photography with the introduction of an open-source digital camera that will give programmers around the world the chance to create software that will teach cameras new tricks, meaning camera performance will no longer be limited by the software that comes pre-installed by the manufacturer.

  • Programming

    • Make a Python game in minutes with Gloss
      In this tutorial, I'm going to walk you through what it takes to make a simple game with Pygame + Gloss. All the code is already written (and I think you'll find it very short!) so it's just a matter of explaining to you what it does and why. We used Linux (naturally), but both Pygame and Gloss should work fine on Windows too - make sure you have Pygame, Python OpenGL and Gloss installed, and if you're on Linux you'll also need the Numpy Python module.


  • Oracle Fined by TPC Over Benchmarking Claims
    The Transaction Processing Performance Council (TPC), of which Oracle is a member, said it had asked Oracle to pay a US$10,000 fine for the violation.

  • Amazon coughs $150k to student over lost notes
    A student who sued Amazon for deleting George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four from his Kindle ebook, rendering his notes useless, has won $150,000 along with protection for other Kindle users.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • A bright future for your Evening Standard
      From Monday 12 October your London Evening Standard will become the first quality newspaper in the world to go free.

    • BPI Unhappy With Techdirt, Seeks To Correct The Record... But Still Gets It Wrong
      So, we recently wrote about how Geoff Taylor, head of BPI (the UK's equivalent of the RIAA) seemed to be going after British Telecom (BT) with a variety of highly questionable claims about how BT had some sort of obligation to stop file sharing on its network, and that BT was using unauthorized file sharing to prop up its own business model. Both claims are flat out ridiculous, but BPI apparently was quite upset with us pointing that out. Of course, rather than actually respond in the comments where we might have a conversation about it, they've been sending us a series of emails, taking issue with our statements and laying out their claims in more detail.

    • Entertainment Industry Propaganda Organization Kicks Off Hilarious Astroturf Letter Writing Campaign
      The "Copyright Alliance" is a propaganda organization put together by the entertainment industry, pretending to focus on "the rights of creators," but which has always been focused on strengthening the monopolies of the middlemen (the same folks who quite frequently screw over the creators). Recently, the Copyright Alliance came out with its latest astroturfing attempt, with an automatic letter generator that will pop out cloned letters that the Copyright Alliance itself will send to President Obama and Vice President Biden.

    • We Are Copyright Alliance, Hear Us Roar
      It is very hard not to laugh in the face of such ugliness and to wonder where the reason is in such dysfunctional nonsense, but what came to my mind was Helen Reddy’s 1972 anthem, which began: “I am woman, hear me roar/In numbers too big to ignore.” The moral panic in the Alliance’s letter is that the very essence of what makes America America is threatened by evil forces that supposedly have launched an assault demanding that Helen Reddy and her 11 million colleagues give their works away for free, that the evil doers be permitted to have their way with the vestal virgins of America’s copyright sweethearts. This is of course complete baloney. Name one piece of pending legislation that would accomplish what the Alliance claims. Name one lawsuit currently pending that would accomplish what the Alliance claims. There are none.

    • Google strips Pirate Bay homepage from search results
      The Pirate Bay’s homepage and seven other pages relating to the BitTorrent tracker website have been removed from Google’s search engine, following a DMCA complaint.

    • Informed P2P User Act to clamp down on filesharing software
      Concerned that too many peer-to-peer software users don't know what they're installing and what they're sharing, the House Energy and Commerce Committee yesterday passed the "Informed P2P User Act" and sent it to the full House.

    • Court Once Again Confirms Right Of First Sale For Software: You Own It, Not License It
      Excellent news. In the ongoing case involving Autodesk and a guy, Timothy Vernor, who was trying to sell legally acquired used versions of AutoCAD on eBay, the district court judge has ruled that Autodesk has no right to restrict the sales of its used software. This wasn't a huge surprise, as the court indicated as much last year, when it refused to grant Autodesk's motion to dismiss the case. But this is an important ruling for a variety of reasons.

    • EA Asks Gov't To Dump Ridiculous Langdell 'Edge' Trademarks
      Earlier this year, we wrote about Tim Langdell and his claim of owning a trademark on the word "edge" when used in any kind of video game. Of course, Langdell last came out with a game himself in 1994, which makes the whole trademark claim pretty iffy. You need to be using your mark in commerce for it to be valid. Instead, Langdell just seems to be trying to stop anyone else from using the word "edge."

    • Electronic Arts Sues to Cancel Langdell's Trademarks

    • Australian Pirate Party sets sail
      The launch of the Pirate Party in Australia adds yet another voice to the fast-growing global network of buccaneer politics: a pirate internationale appears to be taking shape.

    • Shameless Self-Promotion: Updating the Lanham Act for the Internet Age
      I have an article in the newest issue of World Trademark Review. Entitled "Updating the Lanham Act for the Internet Age," the article looks at four areas for reform of the Lanham Act: fair use, use in commerce, adoption of statutory safe harbors, and the famous marks doctrine.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Internet Video Celebrity Caitlin Hill 06 (2007)

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

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