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09.23.09

Links 23/09/2009: Big Win for GNU/Linux in Spain, Amarok 2.2 Now at RC1

Posted in News Roundup at 12:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • ES: Andalusia to distribute open source laptops to schools

      Distributing the laptops will cost more than 80 million euro, El Pais reports. “Each laptop will cost around 290 euro. The government has decided to configure the laptops with free software, using the operating system Guadalinex and other free applications.”

      [...]

      Spain’s Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s announcement in May to distribute about 450,000 laptops to schools in the country was criticised by his own party (PSOE). Zapatero wants these laptops to be fitted with Microsoft’s proprietary software. However, Leire Pajín, the party’s secretary said she wants these laptops to run only open source software.

    • IBM and Canonical partner on software package for Africa

      The Wall Street Journal broke the story this morning of a partnership between IBM and Canonical to provide a software package for users of netbooks and other thin clients in Africa. The package, which can be configured in several ways to provide both netbook-based and cloud-based software, is expected to drive new business for local partners by taking advantage of open standards, file sharing, email, and social network capabilities.

    • IBM Markets Wares to Africa

      International Business Machines Corp. will try to sell a new package of low-priced computer desktop applications to companies and governments in Africa, challenging Microsoft Corp. and other rivals in the region.

      IBM, which has been pushing into developing markets like Africa and Asia as mature markets slow, said the package — which includes basic programs like word processing and email — would be made available to customers via remote “cloud computing” facilities, meaning users could access the programs from the Web. It would cost $10 per month per user, and can run on so-called netbook computers, or low-cost PCs priced around $300.

      IBM is working in collaboration with London-based Canonical Ltd., which makes Linux software and was started in South Africa.

    • Please Don’t Show the Command Line to the Uninitiated

      Not long ago I had the opportunity to show off GNU/Linux to a friend. She’s been a lifelong Windows users and is just your average, non-technical computer user. She’d heard of this thing called “Linux,” but had never seen a Linux distro in use. So, I gladly booted up my laptop and also the desktop (we were at my house, my wife and I having one of our many cookouts) and showed her Linux Mint 7 via a live CD and also Ubuntu 8.10, which is installed on my family’s desktop.

  • Events

    • Registration deadline extended one more day

      Due to overwhelming demand, we have extended the Ohio LinuxFest registration until midnight Tuesday, September 22. Please register today if you have not done so already and are planning on coming to Ohio LinuxFest 2009. Walk-in registrations at the day of the show may be possible for the enthusiast and professional packages (OLFU), subject to space availability

    • The Report from Fake Portland: LinuxCon 2009

      For all of its popularity – Linux is, after all, a multi, multi billion dollar industry at this point – it’s lacked a focused show. OSCON, the Linux Plumber’s conference and a variety of other distribution oriented and community run shows have picked up the slack, for the most part, but we haven’t had a practitioner focused event like LinuxCon for a while now. And while LinuxCon isn’t technically a reboot or rebranding of anything, it’s being seen that way. The show is starting small – between five and six hundred attending, I believe – and even were the economy not currently in the tank this would be the right decision. Because it keeps the emphasis right where it should be: on the content, not the swag. Even small, it’s still full: half the sessions I’ve been to have been standing room only.

    • LinuxCon: Beyond the Hype: The True Cost of Linux and Open Source (liveblog)

      Mid-sized shops that don’t look at development as a core competency is currently a place where Open Source is perceived as weak and can improve its uptake and success rates moving forward.

    • LinuxCon Audio Diary 1
    • LinuxCon Audio Diary 2
    • LinuxCon: Desktop Should Be Better Than Windows

      These remarks on their own were broad enough not to raise eyebrows, but Sutor’s next statement did: “I think making it a complete drop-in replacement is a dead-end strategy,” he said, referring to Linux as a Windows replacement.

    • How Muppets learned to stop licensing and love the comm

      Two very different companies shared their success stories with open source at LinuxCon in Portland, Oregon on Tuesday. One is Sesame Workshop, a relatively small non-profit famous for Sesame Street and other strains of educational muppetry. The other, Sony Pictures Entertainment, the enormous for-profit multinational that owns ancillary rights to your children’s souls as well as The Karate Kid’s.

      Sesame Workshop has only about 400 employees worldwide with about 13 working IT, according to Noah Broadwater, vp of the company’s information services.

    • LinuxCon: The Little Things Make All The Difference

      The first day of LinuxCon proved to be a big hit amongst many attendees, not just for the quality of content but for the extracurricular activities the event has provided.

  • Applications

    • Bordeaux 1.8.6 for Linux Released

      The Bordeaux Technology Group released Bordeaux 1.8.6 for Linux today. Bordeaux 1.8.6 fixes a critical bug in the rpcrt4.dll. If you have had problems with Bordeaux 1.8.x not installing a application we recommend you update to 1.8.6 and the problem should now be resolved. Bordeaux allows Linux users to run many of today’s popular windows based applications and games on Linux. There has also been a couple other small bug fixes and tweaks in this release.

  • Desktop Environments

    • GNOME

      • Azenis Theme Pack For GNOME

        Every now and then I run across a GTK theme that takes my breath away. Yesterday I happened upon the Azenis theme while browsing GNOME Look. I took a quick glance at it and then bookmarked it because I was a bit busy. Today I went back and downloaded all of the theme components. And, just as I expected, it took my breath away.

      • A Quick Look At Gnome 3’s Desktop Sidebar

        The sidebar is disabled by default in current builds of Gnome-Shell (Gnome 3’s new interface) and i think there may be a reason for that: It’s borderline pointless. By the time it takes to shuffle your mouse over to the sidebar you could nudge it up to the top left and get a greater variety of options and files.

      • Gnome Wallpaper Rotate Script
    • KDE

      • KDE: Project Silk Should Integrate Web

        The KDE project’s Sebastian Kügler dreams of a desktop that melts, like silk, into the Web. In a writeup to KDE developers he promotes Project Silk for better Web integration.

      • Amarok 2.2 RC 1 “Sunset Door” released

        As the release of Amarok 2.2 draws closer, the Amarok team is pleased to present Amarok 2.2 RC 1, the first and hopefully last release candidate before the final release. This release contains a few new and improved features, mainly concerning podcasts, and fixes a number of crashes and other bugs. For a list of the most important changes and fixes see the changelog below.
        As always please help us by testing, reporting bugs, sending patches and most importantly by enjoying discovering music.

      • Plasma: Where we are going

        One of the great things about our semi-annual Tokamak developer sprints is that it’s a great way for us to refocus our energies on the future. By doing so, we make sure that the path that our feet are on today is a good one. At Tokamak 3, several goals and vision clarifications emerged and I’d like to share them with all of you.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • Parted Magic 4.5
      • Elive 1.9.44 development released

        The Elive Team is proud to announce the release of the development version 1.9.44

      • Berry 0.98
      • Network Security Toolkit (NST v2.11.0)

        2009-Sep-22
        We are pleased to announce the latest NST release: “v2.11.0″. This release is based on Fedora 11 using Linux Kernel: “2.6.30.5-43.fc11″. The architecture for building an NST distribution has been completely redesigned and engineered. Starting with this release, All system, network and security applications are now included as RPM packages. This allowed us to take advantage of the Fedora Live CD Project for spinning off an “NST Live” distribution. This project will also help make it easier to develop future releases of NST.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat’s Deltacloud at Tip of Epic Change

        Earlier this month Red Hat announced its Deltacloud initiative to “enable an ecosystem of developers, tools, scripts, and applications which can interoperate across the public and private clouds.”

        The potential impact on the ability of users, developers and IT departments to consume cloud services via a common set of tools is, according to Brian Stevens, Red Hat’s CTO, “epic.”

        These days, you must be careful when using the “E” word, because often as not, it’s accompanied by its nemesis: the “F ” word — as in “epic fail.” Especially when talking about cloud computing. Plenty of arguments are made against the concept, like “It was done in the ’60s with a different name and we’ve moved on,” or “It’s just the ASP model all over again, ” or “It’s not secure.” And there’s always the venerable old favorite: “It’s not reliable.”

      • Fedora 12 demonstrates sandbox for desktop applications

        Security-Enhanced Linux (SELinux) specialist and Red Hat developer Dan Walsh has souped up the security mechanisms in Fedora and SELinux by adding a desktop sandbox which he’s calling “sandbox -X”. Users can run desktop applications of their choice inside his sandbox, which then protects the underlying system from any possible damage.

    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Sub-notebooks

      • $300 tablet runs Ubuntu Linux on AA batteries

        NorhTec has announced a tablet computer that will cost just $300, run Ubuntu Linux on a 1GHz SoC (system-on-chip), and operate via eight AA batteries. The “Gecko Info Pad” will include an 8.9-inch touchscreen display, 8GB of solid state storage, and needs no external power brick, the company says.

      • Chrome Netbook Operating System By Christmas?

        Would you try a Chrome OS netbook? It’s based on Linux, so you don’t have to do everything online any more than you have to do with an XP powered netbook. Open Office, the productivity suite I’m using to type this right now, on a Linux system, works the same whether running in Windows or Linux. Load Chrome, load Open Office, get to work.

      • Dell to offer Intel App Store on Consumer Netbooks

        These stores will offer software applications compatible with both Windows and Linux.

    • OLPC

      • Can a laptop change the world?

        Rwanda has now ordered more than 100,000 XO laptops and plans to roll them out to as many schools as possible, with part of the funding coming from the sale of mobile phone licences. Finally, OLPC has found an African country which appears to be committed to going beyond a pilot and making the laptops an integral part of its education system…

      • OLPC gets microwaved, molded into stunning piece of art

        Kenny Irwin, known for his post-microwave creations, decided to zap one of the low-cost PCs and then mold it into the OLPCSlug while things were still gooey, all in the name of good publicity and charity. You see, the buyer of this lovely piece will see 80 percent of the proceeds head straight to OLPC…

Free Software/Open Source

  • Shapado, a FOSS replacement for stackoverflow

    For this reason, we are releasing our stackoverflow inspired project following the Franklin Street Statement on Freedom and Network Services which consists in:

    * Using the GNU Affero GPL.

    * Developing freely-licensed alternatives to existing popular but non-Free network services.

    * Developing software that can replace centralized services and data storage with distributed software and data deployment, giving control back to users.

  • Bye Bye Blackboard

    Each student would get a WordPress.com blog (because I don’t see the sense of abandoning a VLE to encumber yourself with the admin load of administering WordPressMU or any other centralized installation – let’s put it in the cloud). This would serve as a place to submit assessments and receive feedback. Students could choose whether their blogfolio was public or only visible to instructors. The joy of RSS-everywhere in WordPress would make large numbers of students a joy to administer.

  • More on Firefox in the Philippines

    While we were in the Philippines, Gen and I learned quite a bit about the local Internet landscape there. I thought I would share some more information that I picked up from the trip.

  • Open Source Social Networking at the United Nations.

    This project is about helping people at the United Nations do their job better, with the introduction of just a little technology.

  • DE: Interior minister: ‘Open source reduces vendor lock-in and monopolies’

    Using open source helps to avoid being locked-in by IT vendors and prevents IT services monopolies, says Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany’s minister of the Interior.

    “Free software has several other benefits, such as increasing the security of IT, because the source code can be verified, and enhancement of innovation, because anyone can participate in the development of such software”, Schäuble writes on Abgeordnetewatch.

  • Crowdsourcing the MacArthur Awards

    Since 1981 the MacArthur Foundation in Chicago has chosen 20 to 40 people each year to receive a $500,000 unrestricted grant. This grant is given to people who “show exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative work.” On its face the MacArthur Awards appear to be a good idea. For example, these awards shone an early spotlight on Richard Stallman, who has made major contributions to the field of computer science–doing so in a very selfless way.

  • Ellison: No MySQL spin off

    Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, has made it clear that he is not prepared to spin off Sun’s MySQL business in an attempt to placate the European Commission investigation of competition issues with Oracle’s planned acquisition of Sun. The deal has already been approved by US authorities and Ellison thinks that the European Commission will follow saying “I think once they do their job, they’re going to come to the same conclusion”.

  • Packt Publishing Announces Nominees for 2009 CMS Awards

    Technology book publisher Packt Publishing announced the finalists this week for its 2009 Open Source CMS Awards. Winners and runners-up from each of the five categories will win from $500 – $4,000 and take home a share of prize money totaling $24,000. Six 8 GB iPods will also be awarded at random to individuals who have visited Packt’s Web site to nominate their favorite projects.

  • Five enterprise open source wiki apps to watch

    2. Mediawiki

    MediaWiki is the wiki application made famous for running Wikipedia. It’s designed to be run on a large server farm for a Web site that gets millions of hits per day. MediaWiki supports versioning of pages and can manage image and multimedia files. For large wikis with lots of users, MediaWiki supports caching and can be easily coupled with Squid proxy server software. MediWiki supports skins and plug-ins for extensibility. The application is developed in PHP and supports MySQL and PostgreSQL.

  • Myths about Open Source

    Open source has licences that can be beneficial to the creators. Some companies have dual licences, which allows them to charge for their product or services. So their trademark is in place and they can sell their product. If there are individuals who are doing the same for their distributions or software, then it is basically the cost of the media that you will be paying for. (Eg. CDs, DVDs, etc.)

  • Big Win for GNU GPL in France

    One of the fallback positions for purveyors of FUD is that the GNU GPL may not be valid, because it hasn’t been properly tested in court. That’s getting increasingly implausible as a stance. After being upheld in Germany a few times, here’s a big decision in its favour in France:

    In a landmark ruling that will set legal precedent, the Paris Court of Appeals decided last week that the company Edu4 violated the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL) when it distributed binary copies of the remote desktop access software VNC but denied users access to its corresponding source code. The suit was filed by Association pour la formation professionnelle des adultes (AFPA), a French education organization.

    The events of the case go back to early 2000, when Edu4 was hired to provide new computer equipment in AFPA’s classrooms. Shortly thereafter, AFPA discovered that VNC was distributed with this equipment. Despite repeated requests, with mediation from the Free Software Foundation France, Edu4 refused to provide AFPA with the source code to this version of VNC. Furthermore, FSF France later discovered that Edu4 had removed copyright and license notices in the software. All of these activities violate the terms of the GNU GPL. AFPA filed suit in 2002 to protect its rights and obtain the source code.

  • Openness

    • Does Digital Kill the Poetry of Proust?

      While on the one hand the digital revolution is bringing a whole new range of access to information, it is also killing nostalgia and stopping us from peering behind ideas of great thinkers.

    • In Defense of The Book

      Digital Barbarism is not as much a defense of copyright as it is an attack upon a distortion of culture that has become a false savior in an age of many false saviors. Despite its lack of mechanical perfections, humanity, as stumbling and awkward as it is, is far superior to the machine. It always has been and always will be, and this conviction must never be surrendered. But surrender these days is incremental, seems painless, and comes so quietly that warnings are drowned in silence.

    • Open Government: Beth Noveck at Transparent Text

      I was especially pleased to hear Beth talking about bottom-up initiatives within government departments, not just outside. While she talked at some length about Netflix-style prizes for innovation in data visualization and sharing, she also talked about decidedly low-tech efforts to get input, like suggestion boxes in government departments. A process at the VA got 8,000 suggestions from a department of 19,000 workers – she suggests that many of the key ideas for opening government may come from people who are already inside government departments and know what steps need to be taken to release critical data and enable more participation.

    • New report on sharing aid information is now open for comments

      We’re pleased to announce the publication of a new report, Unlocking the potential of aid information. The report, by the Open Knowledge Foundation and Aidinfo, looks at how to make information related to international development (i) legally open, (ii) technically open and (iii) easy to find.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • WebGL in Firefox nightly builds, demoed with 3D Spore model

      Firefox’s latest nightly trunk builds now include a working implementation of WebGL, an emerging standard that seeks to bring 3D graphics to the browser. An impressive demo shows how WebGL can be used to display interactive 3D models in an HTML Canvas.

Leftovers

  • Expert challenges UFO hacker’s $700k bill

    The US inflated the $700,000 bill for damages it slapped on UFO hacker Gary McKinnon by stuffing it with costs incurred for patching the gaping holes the hacker had exposed in its computer security, according to a document filed with the Supreme Court.

    [...]

    McKinnon had used Remotely Anywhere, a software tool, to hack US military computers in search of UFO secrets. The 42-year-old faces extradition after being accused of hacking into 97 US government computers causing $700,000 of damage.

  • Ministers withhold draft report on NHS IT scheme

    Ministers are sitting on a draft annual statement to parliament on the costs and benefits so far of the £12.7bn programme to modernise NHS IT.

    Computer Weekly has learned that the Annual Benefits Statement for the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) was in draft form in November 2008. It has never been published.

  • Big IT projects fail. Open source can help

    The process for open-source companies is so fast because the prospects start using the software long before they contacted the vendor. On average, I’d put this pre-evaluation duration at three to six months.

  • Google climate change tools for COP15

    In December of this year, representatives from nations around the globe will gather in Copenhagen to discuss a global agreement on climate change. The objective is to reduce global warming emissions sufficiently in order to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change and to support the global community in adapting to the unavoidable changes ahead. Denmark will act as host for this fifteenth Conference of the Parties under the United Nations’ Climate Change Convention, known as COP15.

  • Net Neutrality

    • Clearwire Supports Net Neutrality? Does No One Remember Its History?

      How quickly people forget. With the FCC’s announcement about support for net neutrality legislation the PR and lobbying machines of the major telco and cable providers have cranked up, putting out all sorts of fear mongering letters and reports about the damage such a law will do. There was one interesting exception.

    • Do We Need an OpenInternet.gov.uk or OpenInternet.eu?

      You may have noticed yesterday that some of our American cousins were getting excited about a speech made by Julius Genachowski, Chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission, and a new Web site he announced: OpenInternet.gov. There you can either read his words, or watch a video of them. Either way, you will probably be struck by his constant harping on a theme dear to our heart: openness, and its importance to the Internet.

    • EU Open Internet
    • The Day Real Internet Freedom Died: Our Forbes Op-Ed on Net Neutrality Regulation

      There was a time, not so long ago, when the term “Internet Freedom” actually meant what it implied: a cyberspace free from over-zealous legislators and bureaucrats. For a few brief, beautiful moments in the Internet’s history (from the mid-90s to the early 2000s), a majority of Netizens and cyber-policy pundits alike all rallied around the flag of “Hands Off the Net!” From censorship efforts, encryption controls, online taxes, privacy mandates and infrastructure regulations, there was a general consensus as to how much authority government should have over cyber-life and our cyber-liberties. Simply put, there was a “presumption of liberty” in all cyber-matters.

      Those days are now gone; the presumption of online liberty is giving way to a presumption of regulation. A massive assault on real Internet freedom has been gathering steam for years and has finally come to a head. Ironically, victory for those who carry the banner of “Internet Freedom” would mean nothing less than the death of that freedom.

    • Declaration of Communication Rights

      Last week, Sérgio Amadeu published an excellent text about the Brazilian National Conference of Communication and in the text, he lists what he considers the rights of citizens in communication through digital networks.

      On past weekend, I met with him and some friends, and agreed that the drafting of a statement like this is very important, because through it, we can express a number of concepts that define the world of free (as in freedom) communication on the Internet that we fight both to build and maintain.We also agree that this statement should not necessarily be only Brazilian, but it could be adopted (and therefore developed with the assistance) of communities around the world.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Internet piracy policing could add £24 to every phone bill

      Tackling internet piracy could push up broadband bills by £24 a year, BT warned yesterday.

    • UK Anti-Piracy Plans Cost More Than Music Industry ‘Losses’

      As the UK file-sharing debate reaches fever pitch, with opinionated artists being shipped in by the bus load to condemn it, inevitably attention is turning to the costs associated with trying to end it. According to a boss at ISP BT, not only are the government’s plans doomed to fail, but could end up costing ISPs a staggering £1m a day.

    • Elton John Flip Flops: Kicking People Off The Internet Is Good! No, Bad! No, Good!

      So, it was a bit of a surprise a few weeks back to see him among the list of big name rockstars coming out against kicking people off the internet for file sharing. Apparently, though, no one told Elton John that he was on that list, because now he’s switched positions again and is saying that he’s all for Peter Mandelson’s proposal to kick people off the internet.

    • Secret criminal measures in EU – South Korea trade agreement

      The EU and South Korea plan to initial a Free Trade Agreement in October. The trade agreement includes civil, border and criminal measures on the enforcement of copyright, trade mark rights, patents and other exclusive rights. The text of the agreement is secret.

      In the Netherlands, Vrijschrift.org last week asked the parliamentary Commission on Subsidiarity to investigate the EU – South Korea trade agreement. In 2006, this commission gained fame with its negative advice on the EU Criminal measures intellectual property directive proposal (IPRED2). Subsequently, both chambers of Dutch parliament agreed with the advice unanimously, and sent a letter to then EU Commissioner Frattini, with translated copies to the other national parliaments of the EU. IPRED 2 is now permanently stuck in the EU Council.

    • French Pirates get 2.06% in by-election

      France’s Parti Pirate fought its first election on Sunday. This was a by-election to the Natonal Assembly in the 10th district of Yvelines. The Pirate candidate was Maxime Rouquet, a 23 year old student, and he got 2.06% of the vote.

TV coverage of Linux.conf.au in Dunedin, New Zealand, 2006

TV coverage of Linux.conf.au in Dunedin, New Zealand, 2006

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