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Links 2/7/2010: Opera 10.60 Out, Many Firefox 4.0 Previews

GNOME bluefish



  • A Million New GNU/Linux Users Each Week
    This is it, apparently. Last year was the year GNU/Linux opened the door. This year, people are walking through, into the light.

    160000 Android-y smartphones are being sold daily.

    They will like to use GNU/Linux on their desktop/notebook and netbook PCs as well. You can count on it. What OS is in their hands, at body temperature? What OS is with them between stops? What OS just works and does what they need doing instead of letting in malware and spam? What OS lowers their cost of ownership?

  • Linux Consulting Dilemma
    I live in mountainous Northwest Montana. I have always been intrigued by an attitude from my US Forrest Service friends who each summer tell me they are, “hoping there are lots of big forest fires this summer”. What…I thought Smokey the Bear wanted to prevent forest fires. But no, many of those who work for the US Forrest Service actually depend on fighting fires to provide the finances for their vacations and Holidays. Now let me be quick to say these people do not start fires nor encourage starting fires, it just works out that forest disasters are great paydays.


    It must be a part of life, as when you look at Linux consulting you have the same dilemma. Consulting without education and documentation is just as empty and self serving as those in the US Forrest Service who hope for fires or those who repair your virus laden Windows machine hoping to strike it rich once again when you click on the tempting email. Linux consultants can live in that “outer zone” that makes them special and prevents them from communicating the changes they made for the client in a way that educates the client, thus rendering the consultant unnecessary. Or, neglecting documenting changes for the client, forcing the client to call for more help down the road when the system updates.

  • Desktop

    • Rescuing Yet Another PC From That Other OS
      And so it goes on. That other OS keeps messing up and I show no mercy, installing Debian GNU/Linux left, right and centre, wherever I go. I used to struggle tuning up those systems to keep them going but it was way more work than migrating. I have lost count of the kills but it must be close to 100 PCs and I will be another school year in this community. Perhaps I will run out of machines to convert.

    • Booting
      I had a laugh when I read this note on booting operating systems. Every day, I see the lady across the hall boot her XP machine and go for coffee… She is a fine teacher but has too much patience for that other OS. Sadly, she is leaving us to teach in another community next year. I will put in one of the new PCs with GNU/Linux in place of her machine for next year.

    • 16 Gorgeous Linux Wallpapers From Pr09studio
      Pr09studio guys are also actively contributing for bisigi themes project and they really do have some stunning wallpapers to showcase. Here, I have deliberately tried to avoid wallpapers with branding for most part, but some wallpapers with branding are worth mentioning. So here it goes, 16 beautiful Linux wallpapers for desktop.

  • Graphics Stack

    • Graphics drivers
      There are only two tasks harder than writing Free Software graphics drivers. One is running a successful crocodile petting zoo, the other is wireless bungee jumping.

      In general writing graphics drivers is hard. The number of people who can actually do it is very small and the ones who can do it well are usually doing it full-time already. Unless the company, which those folks are working for, supports open drivers, the earliest someone can start working on open drivers is the day the hardware is officially available. That's already about 2 years too late, maybe a year if the hardware is just an incremental update. Obviously not a lot of programmers have the motivation to do that. Small subset of the already very small subset of programmers who can write drivers. Each of them worth their weight in gold (double, since they're usually pretty skinny).

    • Qualcomm Releases Open-Source 2D/3D Kernel Driver
      If you happen to have Google's Nexus One or other phones based upon Qualcomm's Snapdragon processor, there is great news today. Qualcomm has just released an open-source 2D/3D kernel driver for their OpenGL ES graphics processor. This Qualcomm kernel driver provides support for interrupts, command streams, context switching, memory management, etc. Qualcomm is looking to push this code into the mainline Linux kernel ASAP.

    • Qualcomm's Open Kernel Driver Leads To A Dirty Mess
      Well, it sounded nice when Qualcomm announced an open-source 2D/3D kernel driver for their Snapdragon platform that's used by phones like the Nexus One and Dell Streak, but it turns out that their user-space Linux driver that hooks into this kernel driver is currently a closed-source blob. This has led to the eternal debate about open-source kernel components but with only closed-source components.

    • xorg-server 1.8.2
      The second stable release for the X server 1.8 series is now available. As previously announced, no new commits over RC2 and no-one threatened me with extradition over the DRI2 backports - hence they're staying in.

      This is the last regular 1.8 release unless someone else wants to take over as RM. Until that happens, the server-1.8-branch is open. If you have patches that you think are necessary for the 1.8 series, please push them there.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • Applications to make your KDE more powerful and smarter

    • No GUADEC this time
      A small announcement to mention that I won't be at GUADEC this year. So if you're expecting to see me there to chat about something, harass or just hang out we'll need to figure out a virtual method for all those. This isn't because I'm avoiding anyone, I've fallen in love with Qt and C++ or that there's a warrant for my arrest in The Hague for being too sexy (trying to cover all the rumors).

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Freer Trade Agreement Between Taiwan and China
      Mainland China is less so. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I expect China will be a huge market for netbooks and the lower the price, the better so ARM and GNU/Linux should do well. If netbooks drop in price, perhaps smartphones will too. Demand will increase which has the opposite effect but the Chinese can rapidly increase the number of consumers at lower prices. That is, cutting prices can multiply the volume and yield larger profits if the cost is less.

    • Big-screen Kindle gains new screen technology announced an updated version of its large-screen. Linux-based Kindle DX e-reader, with the price dropped from $489 to $379. The Kindle DX maintains its 9.7-inch screen, but moves to a new E Ink technology claimed to offer 50 percent better contrast, says the company.

    • Nokia/MeeGo

      • Linux Foundation releases Meego for developers
        THE LINUX FOUNDATION has released a "Day 1" version of the Meego handset distribution.

        Meego is the Linux based operating system being championed by Intel and Nokia for mobile devices including phones and tablets. It has recently been chosen by Nokia to replace its aging Symbian OS on the firm's high end N-series mobile phones. This release is likely to pave the way for other handsets to run the operating system.

    • Android

    • Tablets

      • Will Android Cius Kill iPad?
        John Chambers, the CEO of Cisco today unveiled Cisco Cius, a first-of-its-kind mobile collaboration business tablet that delivers virtual desktop integration with anywhere, anytime access to the full range of Cisco collaboration and communication applications, including HD video.

        Cisco Cius is an ultra-portable device weighing just 1.15lbs (0.52kg) that extends the productivity benefits of Cisco collaboration applications to a highly secure mobile platform. In addition to full telepresence interoperability, Cisco Cius offers HD video streaming and real-time video, multi-party conferencing, email, messaging, browsing, and the ability to produce, edit and share content stored locally or centrally in the cloud.

      • HP closes Palm deal, confirms WebOS tablet
        Hewlett-Packard today finalized its acquisition of Palm and confirmed it will use the company's WebOS in future tablets and netbooks.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Proprietary or Open Source: The Eternal Dilemma
    While setting up the IT infrastructure for your business, one of the dilemmas you will run into is the classic one—open source versus licensed software. Windows or Linux, Microsoft Office or Open Office, proprietary accounting software or open source—the dilemma may manifest in any or all of these as well as other forms, but at the core it will be about proprietary versus free and/or open source software (FOSS).

  • Keynote Brings End-To-End Monitoring to Nagios Open Source
    Keynote Systems’ Enterprise Adapter 2.0 performance and availability alerts now work with Nagios open source monitoring software. The offering allows IT and operations team using Nagios to get a complete end-to-end view of runtime ops from backend infrastructure all the way to the desktop or mobile end user

  • Open source logic analyzer software

  • Open Source monitoring tools and visibility
    Presented in both English and German, this event is designed to centre on the Nagios IT infrastructure and network monitoring platform. The Nagios solution claims to be able to highlight and help resolve critical business problems associated with open source architectures before they arise.

  • Web Browsers

    • Epiphany: An efficient, but different, web browser
      There are a few things Epiphany handles differently than most browsers. One of those is bookmarks. With Epiphany you will not find a bookmark toolbar, but the way it does bookmarks is rather interesting. In this article I will show you how to work with bookmarks in Epiphany as well as keeping this little browser from crashing on you every few seconds.

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox Reaches 2 Billion Add-Ons Downloaded
        Firefox is the preferred browser of many a seasoned netizen, and it’s got the stats to prove it: As of today, Firefox users have collectively downloaded more than two billion add-ons.

      • Firefox Main Window Study: A Heatmap Visualization

      • Firefox Main Window Study: A Heatmap Visualization
        We usually display study results in charts and graphs on this blog, but for this study, we were inspired by the work of principal designer, Alex Faaborg, and came up with a slightly different kind of visualization. Back in March, Alex created a heatmap to visualize the menu study data (his post is also a great example of how the UX team is using Test Pilot data to inform design decisions).

      • Visualizing the Usage of Firefox’s Main Window
        This study was similar to an early one that we ran on the traditional menu bar interface.

      • Moving Firefox Fourwards
        Firefox finds itself at an interesting juncture: not only is Google's Chrome managing to gain some serious market share, but even Microsoft Internet Explorer is starting to fight back – although it remains to be seen whether that trend is sustained or not. That puts a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of the forthcoming Firefox 4 and its team: Mozilla needs to show that it has not lost the initiative, and that it is still in the driving seat as far as the browser market is concerned.

      • Sync 1.4 and the status bar
        As we move closer to inclusion in Firefox 4, and the add-on continues to become more performant and stable, we feel it is the right time to move the UI into the background. An important factor in this decision is that we will be tuning Sync to update smaller chunks, more frequently, when you’re actually using a particular device. Currently we default to hourly syncs between multiple computers, which is something that will change very soon. At a greatly-increased frequency, the visual distraction (and the performance overhead of continuous UI updates) was not going to be acceptable, so we needed to make changes. That said, no first attempt is perfect, and we still have work to do on the concerns noted above.

      • Meet Test Pilot in Firefox 4 Beta

      • Mozilla Firefox 4 Pre Beta 2
        Firefox has won a legion of users and programmers due to security, speed and new features. From time to time Mozilla release beta versions of their browser. These versions are earning the name of Minefield, that doesn’t have perfect stability, factor that makes it true Minefield.

  • Search/MapReduce

    • Talend makes it easy to do big data crunching with Hadoop
      Yahoo is marking the fifth birthday, more or less, of its Hadoop technology. The open-source software allows Java programmers to process large amounts of data using distributed computing techniques. Inspired by Google’s MapReduce and Google File System, which make it possible to search the Internet in a fraction of a second, Hadoop is available free for anyone to use.

  • CMS

    • N-VA using Drupal
      The New Flemish Alliance (Dutch: Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie, abbreviated as N-VA) is using Drupal for their website: The N-VA is a Flemish political party. They became the largest party in both Flanders and Belgium in the 2010 federal elections a few weeks ago.

  • Healthcare

    • HP edging toward VistA support?
      Some hints of change may be found at HP’s former Avaya unit. Avaya, now an independent company, participated in the recent review of the VA’s VistA software, an open source project since before the term existed.

      Avaya has also renewed its own commitments to HP, in a new three-year channel agreement.HP views its role as that of a system integrator, often working with its EDS unit.

      It’s a balancing act. The question is how long it can continue, whether HP will be forced to make a choice between proprietary and open source solutions, and if so which it will choose.

  • Business


    • [FSF] Free Software Supporter -- Issue 27, June 2010

      * "Working together for free software" starts * Bilski is out * FSF says: Take a stand with us for freedom, against ACTA * Introducing campaigns summer interns * GNU social: Next steps * Google's updated WebM license * Defective by Design sticker contest winners announced! * More about the App Store GPL Enforcement * Patent Absurdity film DVDs sent to over 200 key people * Job Opening: FSF Campaigns Manager * GNU spotlight with Karl Berry * Richard Stallman's speaking schedule and other FSF events * Take action with the FSF!

  • Project Releases

    • GIMP 2.7.1 with new user interface
      With the release of developer version 2.7.1, GIMP users and early adopters have been given the opportunity to preview the new features of the free image editing software's forthcoming stable 2.8 release. The most important improvement is the graphical user interface (GUI), which has undergone a thorough overhaul. For instance, it now includes a single-window mode which doesn't display elements such as the tools or layers menus in separate windows next to the image window, instead lining these elements up alongside the image in the same window.

    • The Apache Software Foundation Announces Apache Tomcat Version 7.0

    • Apache updates Tomcat web server
      The open source web server gets a refresh with the latest release from them Apache Software Foundation.

    • World’s first open source MHEG and CI Plus Authoring Tool released
      Digital TV software specialist, Ocean Blue Software, has released its Tritonâ„¢ MHEG-5 and CI Plus Authoring Tool as an open source and royalty-free product for application authors and developers.

  • Government

    • Open Source: Advocate to Government
      Two years ago a group was founded with the charter of lobbying for the expanded use of Open Source software within the government. The group is called Open Source for America (OSFA), and it has more than 70 members that include companies like Acquia, Alfresco Software, Advanced Micro Devices, Black Duck Software, CollabNet, Debian, Electronic Frontier Foundation, EnterpriseDB, Google, Ingres, Jaspersoft, Mitch Kapor, KnowledgeTree, The Linux Foundation, Lucid Imagination, Mozilla, Novell, Oracle, O’Reilly Publishing, Pentaho, Red Hat, SpikeSource, SugarCRM, and Zimbra.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Would you share with your neighbors?
      We should have all learned that sharing is a good thing at a very early age. I teach my 4-year old son to share. But what about sharing with your friends and neighbors? That's part of being a community, right?

    • Open Source Sensing Initiatives March Forward
      The Open Source Sensing project has been launched by the Foresight Institute to apply open source principles to the development and governance of sensor-centric initiatives. We wrote about it here. The Open Source Sensing initiative is seeking individuals and organizations to work with it on new applications for sensors.

    • Open Data

      • The open spending data that isn’t… this is not good
        When the coalition announced that councils would have to publish all spending over €£500 by January next year, there’s been a palpable excitement in the open data and transparency community at the thought of what could be done with it (not least understanding and improving the balance of councils’ relationships with suppliers).

        Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government Eric Pickles followed this up with a letter to councils saying, “I don’t expect everyone to do it right first time, but I do expect everyone to do it.” Great. Raw Data Now, in the words of Tim-Berners Lee.

  • Programming

    • GitHub introduces Organizations group-owned repositories
      The GitHub developers have introduced a new way to simplify management of group-owned repositories called "Organizations". With Organizations, users of the open source code hosting service will be able to better manage both distributed and internal teams.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • YouTube Keeps The Web Locked To Adobe Flash
      YouTube has endorsed Adobe Flash and raised questions about the ability of <video> tag to deliver the rich experience YouTube offers via Adobe Flash. The dependence on proprietary Flash means a non-free, non-open Web, contrary to what YouTube's parent company Google preaches.

      John Harding, Software Engineer, YouTube wrote on his blog, "It's important to understand what a site like YouTube needs from the browser in order to provide a good experience for viewers as well as content creators. We need to do more than just point the browser at a video file like the image tag does - there’s a lot more to it than just retrieving and displaying a video. The <video> tag certainly addresses the basic requirements and is making good progress on meeting others, but the <video> tag does not currently meet all the needs of a site like YouTube."


  • Another Journalist Seduced By App Madness Predicts The End Of The Web
    We've talked a few times about the media's obsession with "apps" as the solution to what ails them. They get one glance at the control that an app appears to provide, and they go wobbly in the knees and fail to consider basic trends and basic economics. As a few folks have noted, locked down apps are like the CD-ROM craze among media types just as the web first became popular. Who won that battle?

    The latest reporter to fall under the sway of the app-run future is The Atlantic's Michael Hirschorn -- a writer who's work I usually like quite a bit. He writes eloquently about the "closing of the digital frontier," and predicts that the days of the browser are dying, as the days of the app are rising. In the process, he misleadingly attacks the basic economics of free, the history of Silicon Valley, and some rather important trends.


    Wait. Which "old" entertainment industry is he talking about here that put its most expensively produced products onto the internet for free? Last I checked, we seem to have a new story pretty much every single day about just how hard the old entertainment industry is fighting to stop its content from being online for free. Furthermore, in the few cases where they have put stuff online for free, it's not because they were "striving to prove they were fit for the digital era's freewheeling information/entertainment bazaar," but because they were dragged kicking and screaming after someone pointed out to them that others had already put all their content online for free, and that if you put your content online, you actually had some ability to monetize it -- whereas, if you left it to everyone else, you made that more difficult. Somehow Hirschorn doesn't know this. It makes me wonder if he even uses the same internet the rest of us use.

  • Science

  • Environment

    • Cheap is Nice, But it’s Not Everything: Natural Gas
      A barrel of oil contains 5.8 million BTU and can be purchased today for $77.00. But in natural gas, using today’s price of $4.80 per million BTU, you can obtain the same quantity of energy for $27.85. This price discount started developing as far back as 2005, but did not reach its current levels until after the deflationary crash of 2008. Natural gas, it should be mentioned, had always carried a small discount to oil owing to the latter’s versatility as a liquid and its greater penetration into industrial society. The present day discount is historic however. Especially with respect to its duration.

  • Finance

    • 'A Gigantic Ponzi Scheme, Lies and Fraud': Howard Davidowitz on Wall Street
      Day one of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission's two-day hearing on AIG derivatives contracts featured testimony from Joseph Cassano, the former head of AIG's financial products unit. Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn was also on the Hill.

      Meanwhile, the Democrats are still trying to salvage the regulatory reform bill, with critical support from Senator Scott Brown (R-Mass.) reportedly still uncertain.

      According to Howard Davidowitz of Davidowitz & Associates, what connects the hearings and the Reg reform debate is the lack of focus on the real underlying cause of the financial crisis: Fraud.

      "It was a massive fraud... a gigantic Ponzi Scheme, a lie and a fraud," Davidowitz says of Wall Street circa 2007. "The whole thing was a fraud and it gets back to the accountants valuing the assets incorrectly."

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Larry Lessig takes on Washington
      He describes the problem in Washington and other institutions as an “economy of influence,” and he is shining the light on the funding link between interests, lobbyists, and politicians. Lessig started Change Congress and urged people to withhold donations from politicians who don’t support citizen-funded elections. He called for an Article V constitutional convention to get Congress’ attention. He’s on the speaking circuit advocating for the Fair Elections Now Act. In a short period of time, this copyright reform advocate has become one of the leading voices in the campaign finance reform movement.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • High price of medicines becomes political issue in EU
      Both Greece and Spain have taken unilateral measures to try to bring down the price of patented medicines purchased by public health systems that are now under special stress due to the public debt crisis of these countries. A conservative Greek member of the European Parliament has requested the establishment of a European Observatory on the price of medicines.

    • Copyrights

      • Woman Jailed 2 Days for Filming Movie Screen Sues Theater
        A 22-year-old woman jailed two days in November after being arrested for filming two brief snippets of a motion picture is lashing back at the theater, claiming its manager demanded her arrest despite the police department’s reluctance.

        In a civil suit lodged in federal court in Illinois, Samantha Tumpach claims local police and the Motion Picture Association of American recommended against arresting her. A felony theater-filming charge that risked up to three years in prison was subsequently dropped.

      • RIAA Outraged by YouTube-Viacom Decision
        The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on Monday voiced its opposition to the recent decision in the YouTube-Viacom copyright infringement case.

        "We believe that the district court's dangerously expansive reading of the liability immunity provisions of the [Digital Millennium Copyright Act] DMCA upsets the careful balance struck within the law and is bad public policy," Cary Sherman, RIAA president, wrote in a blog post. "It will actually discourage service providers from taking steps to minimize the illegal exchange of copyrighted works on their sites."

      • TV Show Released On BitTorrent Raises $20,000 Pretty Damn Fast
        You may have seen the recent stories about the "TV show" Pioneer One that was made with the plan all along to release the show on BitTorrent, and to set up a tiered system to fund future episodes. While some people insist that BitTorrent users never download authorized content, after the show was released, it quickly became a top download beating out lots of more "famous" competitors. On top of that, it appears that people are donating. Zubin Madon alerts us to the news that in just about a week, the producers of the show have hit their goal of raising $20,000 to produce the next batch of episodes.

      • “Twilight” 8-Bit Viral Hit Comes Back to Life After DMCA Takedown
        Remember that rather rad 8-Bit Twilight game we covered the other day? Well, earlier today we were contacted by the creators, The Fine Brothers, who informed us that Summit Entertainment LLC — the studio behind Twilight – asked for the video to be taken down due to copyright infringement. Then, a few hours later, the game was reinstated.

    • Digital Economy Bill

      • Time for some Digital Economy Act Economy
        For readers of this blog, one of the obvious applications of this site is to seek the repeal of the Digital Economy Act, which was pushed through with such indecent haste just before the General Election, with practically no scrutiny, and a fistful of unworkable proposals.

Clip of the Day

CLUG AGM 24 Nov 2009 - Interfacing with the real world (2009)

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