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Links 15/4/2010: Linux Foundation’s Collaboration Summit, Dragora Linux 2.0, ZEN-mini 2010

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • The death of Linux and other predictions
      Firstly, this is NOT the year of Linux on the desktop, because frankly it has been on the desktop many years already. Read my recent article: Why Linux on the Desktop is Wrong! So can we lay to rest the phrase "the year of the desktop" and all variations? May it rest in peace!

      Secondly, the desktop is NOT dying because someone came up with another clever idea. People sliding their greasy fingers all over their iPad touch screen while drinking coffee isn't going to somehow end people sitting at a desk and typing on a keyboard.

    • How to switch your small or home office to Linux
      With Linux and free software making a name for itself in the world of big business, many people are testing the feasibility of switching small and home office software to their open source equivalents.

      Regardless of how you feel about the Linux desktop, this is one area in which Linux can have a real impact, both financially and productively, and any small or home office has the potential to be transformed by just switching one application or two to their open source equivalents.


      Free software is full of alternatives, because developers like choice. And because the code that's used to create this software is open, once one application has invented a new kind of wheel, you often find its open source competitors catching up and providing many of the same features.

    • Acer Aspire AS5738PG Netbook review
      That said, Ubuntu 9 worked flawlessly on this laptop and ran quite fast thanks to the dual-core processors and higher-than-normal RAM allocation. For developers, the system represents a forward-looking laptop that could well provide the hardware required for testing touch applications, especially for creating kiosk applications or for contributing to a Ubuntu touch-screen version at some point.

    • Linux Live USB Media
      It is pretty common these days for laptops, and even desktops, to be able to boot from a USB flash memory drive. So you can save a little time and a little money by converting various Linux distributions ISO images to bootable USB devices, rather than burning them to CD/DVD. Oh, and one other reason - it is getting more common, especially with pre-releases, for the Live image to be too large to fit on a CD so it requires a DVD, and I don't keep blank DVD media as close at hand as CD.

  • Server

    • Cray Releases Latest Version of Its Linux Operating System Equipped With New Cluster Compatibility Mode
      One of the most important features in this latest version of the Cray Linux Environment is the introduction of the new Cluster Compatibility Mode, which provides users with a full-featured cluster environment. Cluster Compatibility Mode is a fully standard x86 Linux environment that allows for simple, out-of-the-box installation and running of parallel ISV applications without porting, re-linking or recompilation. Cluster Compatibly Mode also allows for multiple MPI libraries.

    • Build It And They Will Come
      I'm talking about purchasing and installing a brand new Linux cluster in a pure Windows shop and having any expectations that it will be used. Your co-workers will probably look at you funny, and they might stand way over on the other side of the elevator during that ride up to the fourth floor, but don't count on them knocking your door down begging for access to your shiny new Linux resource.


      Finally, it was time for our first full production run. Voila! In just two hours our little 176-core 64-bit cluster ate up data and spit out the results for 1,500 runs -- previously a task that took 3 - 4 people three days. Yesterday I checked on the cluster and noticed that our new users had recently finished their 4,400th run. I called on them to pass on my congratulations and was told that their P/I was thrilled at the increase in productivity the cluster was providing.

      Now that word of this is out we have new application porting activities identified and in the works. A Linux success story!

  • Kernel Space

    • Q&A with Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation
      CG: As Linux gets more “productized” in the mainstream, where is the sense of community that was such a fundamental part of early Linux success? Everywhere we look we see more and more people using Linux for their embedded solutions, but fewer and fewer people seem to be actively engaging with the open source development communities. There are exceptions (the folks at PogoPlug, for example, seem to be doing a good job cultivating a community with their user enthusiasts), but I think the bulk of Linux deployment is following the Google model: use it for hosted solutions, and only share a tiny fraction of your customizations. Will Meego only exacerbate this? How are the big mobile companies adopting Android and Meego “giving back” to the larger open source community?

    • Linux: Strong and getting stronger
      At the Linux Foundation's annual collaboration summit in San Francisco on Wednesday, Executive Director Jim Zemlin kicked off the event with some interesting perspectives on the state of the Linux marketplace today.

      The short version: Linux is going strong and getting stronger.


      Zemlin argues that the new PC economics look much more like the cell phone industry than it does the PC value chain. One example of this is Apple's 30 percent take of the gross revenue of App Store apps. The new model takes the value off the platform itself and instead moves it to the applications.

    • File-System Benchmarks With The Linux 2.6.34 Kernel
      File-system benchmarks have become quite common to Phoronix in the age of EXT4 and Btrfs with these new file-systems driving much of the interest and as we have also been finding the Linux file-system performance to change between kernel releases (and in some cases, the performance has changed a great deal). Most recently we delivered benchmarks of EXT4 vs. Btrfs vs. Reiser4, but now a month later we are back with more Linux file-system benchmarks as we look to see if the disk performance has changed with the Linux 2.6.34 kernel.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • LXDE, the New Lightweight Linux Desktop
      LXDE (the Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment) is new to the Linux desktop scene, having been launched in 2006. It aims to provide a fully-functional desktop environment whilst being as lightweight as possible, to both speed up your desktop and reduce its environmental impact (by using less CPU and RAM). A quick-and-dirty benchmark courtesy of the LXDE edition of Linux Mint indicates that it measures up pretty well on speed and RAM usage. In the third of my series on desktop alternatives, I took a look at it to see how it shapes up from the user's point of view.

    • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

      • [Plasma] On screen keyboard
        In in an old screencast for Plasma Mobile, you seen a demonstration of an on-screen keyboard, it was a working proof of concept, but the interactin was still a bit wonky...

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • Dragora Linux 2.0: 100% Free
        Even the embedded Linux-Libre kernel includes no elements that aren't explicitly under a free license. In the new Dragora release, the kernel is version

      • ZEN-mini 2010 released !
        ZEN-mini 2010 final release is ready for downloading !

        What’s New in This Release: - GNOME 2.30 - kernel bfs - addlocale - ISO size only 343mb! - fixed pulse audio

    • Red Hat Family

    • Ubuntu

      • Regional Membership Boards!
        One thing I always loved about the Ubuntu community is that whatever you did to contribute to Ubuntu, you could become an Ubuntu member and be part of the big circle of friends quite easily. In the earlier days of the Ubuntu project the Community Council was handling the approval of Ubuntu membership and I loved meetings where you heard inspiring stories of what people had contributed to Ubuntu.

        Over time those meetings, inspiring as they were, got a bit long. It got up to four hours every now and then. That’s why we set up the Regional Membership Boards who take care exlusively of membership approval and they are doing fantastic work.

      • Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx gets 14 new wallpapers

      • I'm running the Ubuntu 10.04 beta
        I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later.

        I needed to get the laptop back into usable shape, and I did that by installing Ubuntu 10.04 LTS beta 2.

      • Initial impressions of Ubuntu 10.04 beta 2
        All in all the system seems faster than Karmic and pretty darn stable for a beta release. I took the unprecedented-for-me step of making this the actual working system on this machine; I dd’ed it from the spare drive onto the system’s main hard drive and am now using it on this machine full time. I’ve never found a beta release that I liked enough to do that with, until now. So I think Canonical has a winner here.

      • Variants

        • Linux Mint 8 KDE (Helena)
          If you’re a Linux Mint KDE user then this upgrade is pretty much a no-brainer. This release gets you up to date with the latest version of Ubuntu (though Ubuntu 10 isn’t far off so I’ll be reviewing this again soon enough) and KDE.

          If KDE isn’t your thing though, there’s nothing here that will make you want to use it instead of the GNOME version.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Nokia

        • Pics of Nokia MeeGo interface
          Pictures showing how the smartphone and netbook versions of Nokia's MeeGo operating system (OS) will look have surfaced on the internet.

        • QA with Nokia's Ari Jaaksi: MeeGo Revs Up
          Can you tell us more about Qt and what it brings to the MeeGo project?

          Jaaksi: Qt is a cross-platform application and UI framework used by hundreds of thousands of developers worldwide looking to create amazing user experiences on Windows, Mac, Linux, Windows Mobile, Symbian and Maemo devices. Qt will be the primary application framework for MeeGo and both Intel and Nokia are committing their investment in it. For developers interested in MeeGo, Qt helps increase the scope for their applications and services across multiple platforms, all using consistent application APIs.

      • Android

        • A fragmented Android universe
          Three months ago, these same statistics showed version 1.6 leading the field with more than 50% of users, with version 2.1 not even listed. Such statistics are useful for developers, who need to test their applications on different versions. They also reveal, however, that companies selling Android smartphones seem to have little interest in supplying existing customers with updated versions of the OS.

        • HTC Incredible Close to Release, Will Pack Market's Best Phone Hardware
          The HTC Incredible brings some powerful hardware to America's largest network, Verizon, and should help Android continue its campaign of rampant growth.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Zombies are open source; humans are proprietary
    After last month's Pwn2Own Contest, Mozilla once again was the first to issue patches for the bug found in the hacking competition, beating Microsoft and Apple to the punch for the second year in a row.

  • Free and Open Source Project Management Software
    Free and Open Source Project Management Software: A project management software is a program that can help apply knowledge, techniques, skills, and tools for planning and controlling resources, costs and schedules to meet the requirements of a particular project. It includes integrated functions such as calendars, charts, budget management, scheduling, and quality management and documentation.

    Project management software can be implemented as either a desktop or as a web-based application. The advantage of using a desktop-based project management software is that it gives the most responsive and graphically-intense style of interface. Meanwhile, web-based project management software has the advantage of being accessible from just about anywhere with internet connection and without the need to install software on user's computer.

  • COSSFEST, A Calgarian Tale of FOSS, Betrayal, and Murder
    The talks were fascinating as well. Aaron Seigo's talk on creating Plasma widgets with Javascript almost made me want to get back to coding. Almost. Bruce Byfield's presentation on sexism in FOSS was enlightening. Dafydd Crosby, in his oddly quiet way, managed in two separate talks to get people totally wired and jumping in to the conversation with enthusiasm; there was more than a little pontificating going on as well. Meanwhile, Daffyd smiled quietly and wrote one liner comments on his notebook, projected in Matrix green on the big screen (beware those quiet types). Richard Weait's enthusiasm about the Open Streetmap project was palpable and I suspect more than one person will be attending a mapping party sometime soon.

    The surprise panel for me was one given by Brad "Renderman" Haines. It was a surprise because it didn't really have anything to do with FOSS and yet was utterly and completely fascinating. If you thought the locks on your front door, on your locker in the gym, or guarding the entrance to the server room with all its secret corporate data was safe, think again. Every lock I own and every lock I've ever installed is suspect now. Who knew you could open a Master combination padlock in five seconds with a shim cut out from an empty beer can. Spooky! I will be booking an appointment with a locksmith shortly.

  • SaaS

    • Fonality Repositions: Goodbye Open Source, Hello Cloud
      * Before: Founded in 2004 and headquartered in Culver City, CA, Fonality is a leading developer and marketer of open source IP PBX business phone systems and unified communications solutions for small to medium-sized businesses. Investors include Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Intel Capital and Azure Capital Partners.

      * After: Founded in 2004 and headquartered in Culver City, Calif., Fonality is a leading developer and marketer of cloud-based business phone systems and unified communications solutions for small to medium sized businesses. Investors include Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Intel Capital, and Azure Capital Partners.

  • Mixed

    • Memcached Vendors Bulk Up for Web 2.0
      A pair of vendors that offer proprietary solutions based on the open source memcached project are updating their products this week. While both Gear6 and Schooner are adding their own proprietary bits to enhance their respective memcached-based offerings, both vendors are also ensuring that they also are contributing back to the open source core.

  • Oracle

    • OpenSolaris free CDs halted
      Oracle has stopped the free OpenSolaris CD shipping program. A posting on the OpenSolaris website discussion mailing list by Oracle's Derek Cicero says the related links and icons have been removed from the site. Downloads of OpenSolaris are still available from the OpenSolaris downloads site.

  • Education

    • A Trip Through The Cathedral & The Bazaar
      That parallel is why this ten year old book is still worth reading. The open source process is still creating magic, marshalling armies of creative people who work for nothing -- or rather, as C&D points out, for gains that are not material. The technical prowess of the OSS world is not in doubt: Linux, Firefox, Apache, and a host of other projects show that the bazaar can still out-code the cathedral.


  • Releases

    • FreeSWITCH Advances "Free" Speech With 1.0.6 Release
      The FreeSWITCH team is proud to announce the official release of version 1.0.6, the latest release of the popular open source soft-switch library. FreeSWITCH 1.0.6 builds upon previous FreeSWITCH releases and brings dozens of new features and scores of enhancements in codecs, SIP processing, CPU utilization, TDM hardware support, and more. In the eight months since the release of FreeSWITCH 1.0.4, the core developers and key contributors have made improvements in almost all areas of the project.

  • Programming

    • Perl 5 development continues as version 5.12 released
      The Perl 6 project, which aimed to radically reinvent the open source programming language, first began to take shape in 2000. A decade later, there are several implementations with varying levels of completeness, but it is still not ready to replace Perl 5 in production environments.

      In order to ensure that Perl doesn't completely stagnate during the protracted revamp, a group of developers have decided to pull Perl 5 out of maintenance mode and begin actively enhancing it with new features. The result is Perl 5.12, which was officially released this week. It was preceded by 5.11, an experimental development release that was issued last year.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Did Google Just Kill Ogg Theora?
      Montgomery is right. It’s unlikely that open sourcing VP8 is going to kill Theora. There will still be a small but dedicated community supporting the format, and there are going to be cases when it actually makes sense to use Theora and not VP8. What it will kill however, is the notion that Theora could one day become the standard of the HTML5 video web. For that, it would need to be a codec that’s superior to existing commercial solutions, and Theora just never was up to that challenge.

    • The importance of there being another open source codec
      Google’s apparent decision to open source the VP8 video codec will mostly be discussed today in terms of Google’s ambitions, about Google TV, and about HTML5.


  • Paper: Anatomy of contemporary GSM cellphones
    During the last days, I was working on an introductory paper on how a GSM cellphone actually works. It is titled Anatomy of contemporary GSM cellphone hardware and should provide a good technical text for anyone who generally is into technology and understands a bit about both software, computer architecture as well as radio, but who still feels like he has no clue what is actually happening inside the phone, particularly the hardware side.

  • Science

    • NASA to rocket humanoid robot to International Space Station
      Perhaps taking a page from a Star Wars script, NASA said today it will send its newest humanoid robot known as Robonaut2 - or R2 -- capable of using the same tools as humans letting them work closely with people into space onboard the space shuttle's final mission.

    • Armstrong: Obama hurting space effort
      Former astronaut Neil Armstrong has issued a strongly worded rebuke of President Barack Obama, criticizing the president for proposed revisions to the U.S.' space program.

  • Security/Aggression

  • Environment

    • Bayer admits GMO contamination out of control
      Drug and chemical giant Bayer AG has admitted that there is no way to stop the uncontrolled spread of its genetically modified crops.

      "Even the best practices can't guarantee perfection," said Mark Ferguson, the company's defense lawyer in a recent trial.

    • US study warns of excessive GM crop use
      Farmers in the United States are being told they're in danger of negating the benefits of genetically modified crops by overusing them.

      The warning is contained in a major report from the US National Research Council.

      It's being described as the most substantial review of GM crop use in the country. It warns that some weeds are becoming resistant to herbicides.

  • Finance

    • CME, Lehman Book Bidders Likely Protected From Lawsuits
      Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Barclays PLC, DRW Trading and CME Group Inc. are likely to be protected from lawsuits seeking to recoup losses associated with the auction of Lehman Brothers Holdings' futures book, according to a court-appointed examiner.

    • Lehman May Have Grounds to Sue Goldman, Barclays, Examiner Says
      Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. may have grounds to sue Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Barclays Plc after they obtained assets from CME Group Inc. for less than half their value, bankruptcy examiner Anton Valukas said.

    • Goldman Sachs Exec Tries Interesting New Tactic Re: Bonuses
      Goldman Sachs has done a lot to try and stem the rage over some people’s belief that the Masters of the Universe did not deserve their nicely-sized bonuses this year. They’ve taken away the cash portion of Lloyd and Co’s, they’ve made senior management fork over a bunch of their money to charity (including a special fund set up specifically to “help Matt Taibbi get the help he needs”), they canceled plans for the annual DuckTails-esque money pit for the distribution of the young employees’ comp, and so on and so forth. And yet. People still won’t get off their asses.

    • Goldman Sachs to Harry Reid: Back Off
      According to people with direct knowledge of the incident, during the event, which was held in a private room at a lower Manhattan restaurant, Reid was verbally harangued by several senior Goldman executives, including Cohn himself, for being part of the growing chorus of politicians who are using anti-Wall Street rhetoric to score political points.

      One of the attendees told Reid that Wall Street, and Goldman in particular, is being “persecuted by the Democratic Party.” Another complained that Goldman, as a “long-term, major supporter of the Democratic Party,” was tired of being publicly attacked.

    • WaMu execs speak candidly about Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers and others
      Killinger replied about an hour later: "I don't trust Goldy on this. They are smart, but this is swimming with the sharks. They were shorting mortgages big time while they were giving CfC [Countrywide Financial Corp.] advice. I trust Lehman (Lehman Brothers news) more for something this sensitive. But we would need to assess if they have the smarts we need."

    • White House Urges Blankfein, Dimon to Stop Bill Fight
      Top White House officials last week pressed the chief executive officers of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. to stop lobbying against a financial-regulatory bill advancing in Congress, according to people who attended the meeting.

      President Barack Obama’s senior adviser David Axelrod and National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers met with Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon, Bank of America’s Brian Moynihan and about 12 other executives at an April 6 event in Washington hosted by the Financial Services Forum, said the people, who declined to be identified because the meeting was private.

    • Fed ends Goldman, Greece probe with no action
      The Federal Reserve has ended its probe of Goldman Sachs contracts with the Greek government that distort the country's debt levels, without taking any action, said Federal Reserve Board chairman Ben Bernanke on Wednesday.

    • Bankers’ Ailing-Client Deals End With Greece: Alice Schroeder
      Greece’s fiscal debacle and rescue package aren’t just about national finances. They also say a lot about Wall Street’s investment banks.

    • Another View: We Need a ‘Blankfein Amendment’
      We are the sponsors of a shareholder resolution that seeks pay-disparity disclosure from Goldman Sachs, which was a major beneficiary of taxpayer largesse when the federal government intervened to avert the collapse of the nation’s biggest banks and much of Wall Street.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • China's Internet Paradox
      On March 23, the day after Google pulled its search operations out of mainland China, a woman who uses the online pseudonym Xiaomi arose in her Shanghai apartment and sat down in her bedroom office for another day of outwitting Internet censorship. She leads a confederation of volunteer translators around the world who turn out Mandarin versions of Western journalism and scholarly works that are banned on China's Internet--and that wouldn't be available in Mandarin in any case. That day, working in a communal Google Docs account, she and her fellow volunteers completed translations of texts that ranged from a fresh New York Times interview with Google cofounder Sergey Brin to "The Limits of Authoritarian Resilience," a seven-year-old analysis of China's Communist Party from the Journal of Democracy.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • US government finally admits most piracy estimates are bogus
      We've all seen the studies trumpeting massive losses to the US economy from piracy. One famous figure, used literally for decades by rightsholders and the government, said that 750,000 jobs and up to $250 billion a year could be lost in the US economy thanks to IP infringement. A couple years ago, we thoroughly debunked that figure. For years, Business Software Alliance reports on software piracy assumed that each illicit copy was a lost sale. And the MPAA's own commissioned study on movie piracy turned out to overstate collegiate downloading by a factor of three.

      Can we trust any of these claims about piracy?

      The US doesn't think so. In a new report out yesterday, the government's own internal watchdog took a close look at "efforts to quantify the economic effects of counterfeit and pirated goods." After examining all the data and consulting with numerous experts inside and outside of government, the Government Accountability Office concluded (PDF) that it is "difficult, if not impossible, to quantify the economy-wide impacts."

    • GAO Concludes Piracy Stats Are Usually Junk, File Sharing Can Help Sales

    • Copyrights

      • Disability rights activists oppose copyright regime
        The proposed amendments to the Copyright Act (1957), slated to be tabled in the second phase of the budget session of Parliament that begins on Thursday, has disability rights activists up in arms.

        The copyright exception, which aims at allowing persons with disability easy access to copyrighted material, is “restrictive and discriminatory,” disability rights organisations believe.

        Their demands for reworking this “exception,” that leaves out a large section of disabled persons who cannot access “special formats” (which include only Braille and sign language), have thus far gone unheeded. While a sub-committee was formed to look into the film industry-related parts of the legislation, the demands of disability activists have been ignored. In the run-up to the budget session, disability rights activists cutting across party lines are lobbying for their cause.

      • PPCA Statement Regarding Party Registration Status (AKA: Good News, Everyone!)
        We are pleased to announce that as of April 12, 2010, the Pirate Party of Canada (PPCA) is officially eligible for Party Status.

        After ten months of dedication and hard work, we have reached eligible status, which only leaves a 60-day “purgatory” period. After that, we will field candidates in subsequent federal elections, and begin the real work of a political party.

    • ACTA

      • The Truth About ACTA: My PublicACTA Keynote Address
        Even better, all the videos from the PublicACTA conference can accessed online.

      • Netizens: How ACTA will make a criminal of you
        The 'Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement' (ACTA) might sound like it's aimed exclusively at the crooks selling pirated DVDs at the markets, but it's really about curbing the behaviour of individual internet users, according to one of Australia's leading legal academics.

      • Q & ACTA, with Michael Geist
        With the Wellington round of the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) talks underway, organised opposition to the proposed treaty on intellectual property rights and enforcement is also gathering in the New Zealand capital.

        Long-standing ACTA critic Dr Michael Geist from Canada is also in Wellington, and caught up with him there and asked him a few questions on the proposed treaty and what it means for all of us.

      • How ACTA could sneak in a three strikes system
        Internet users that download pirated material can expect a "three strikes system" in the wake of ACTA even if it isn't legislated, according to one of Australia's top legal authorities on the controversial trade agreement.

        As reported yesterday on iTnews, University of Queensland law lecturer Kimberlee Weatherall has written a 37-page comprehensive analysis of the latest leaked draft text of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and concluded that netizens do indeed have a lot to be concerned about.

        Despite assurances from Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) that Australia has no intention of introducing a "three strikes" system compelling ISPs to disconnect users suspected of file-sharing, Weatherall's reading of the leaked draft of ACTA suggests the agreement will likely allow rights holders to achieve the same result through different means.

      • IIA to ask members to sign ACTA petition
        Internet Industry Association (IIA) chief executive officer Peter Coroneos has said he plans to ask his members to sign a declaration calling for more transparency in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) talks being held this week in Wellington, New Zealand.

        The agreement aims to establish international standards on how to enforce intellectual property rights given the changes the internet has brought to copyright. There have been a number of rounds nutting out details for the agreement, involving delegations from multiple countries such as Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Singapore, Switzerland, Morocco and the US.

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A Fair(y) Use Tale — Novell Explains COPYRIGHT protections.

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