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Links 26/11/2009: Cringely Likes Chrome OS, Ulteo Open Virtual Desktop 2.0 is Out

Posted in News Roundup at 10:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • It’s Linuxgiving season: My recent experiences with some Linux distros

    Fall season is one of the busiest times for Linux distributions, and this year is also a very busy time for me. Ever since two years now I gradually migrated family and friends to Linux. This year these new Linux users gave me quite some work, especially on week-ends, and my own upgrade gave me quite some work. You might think that the people I installed Linux systems on their laptops would be autonomous and relying on forums when help were needed. Think again: Usability of every day applications may have never been easy, but installing new applications is something that still has not gotten through them, at least on a regular basis, and this means they rely on their favourite system administrator (me) to fix whatever issues they have. But it’s somewhat of a vicious circle, because I guess I enjoy helping them myself, and to add to the pleasure I installed different distributions for each of them.

  • Desktop Recording on my Laptop

    After retiring from 34 years of teaching high school computer science and mathematics, I finally thought I’d have some time to create some good instructional video lessons. My initial goal is to produce series of instructional videos for software that is cross-platform FLOSS–Inkscape, the GIMP, OpenOffice.org, computer programming in Ruby and Python, and so on. Along with my desktop computers, I wanted to use my new Acer laptop to produce these videos.

  • Google

    • Chrome and Chrome, What is Chrome?

      The biggest news was simply that Google was finally taking Microsoft head-on. The rest of the news, at least to me, was that Microsoft should be worried, very worried.

      While we’re talking about operating systems here, Google’s real target is Microsoft Office. Redmond makes money from Windows but makes a lot more money from Office, its productivity app monopoly. Google already has its Google Apps pitted against Office, but Brin and Page know they won’t crack Office’s hold on corporate America without addressing the Windows flaws that effectively underlie both Office and Google Apps in their current incarnations. That’s where the Chrome OS comes in.

      The Chrome OS strategy comes down to services, servers, security, and an iTunes-like app store (this latter part having been missed by nearly all the pundits).

    • Virtualised Chrome OS Made Available to All

      We have more news about Chrome OS. That should be about as surprising as learning water is wet, but it is rather good news…

    • Lenovo smartbook may run Android

      A demo of a smartbook prototype from Qualcomm may have provided more details of Lenovo’s smartbook for AT&T, including its choice of OS. The design, which cosmetically resembles the publicly displayed Lenovo system, runs on a comparatively fast 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and has been shown running Android, suggesting Google’s OS is at least a candidate for the system. Previously, it had appeared that Lenovo would use a proprietary Linux release instead.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Foundation’s New TAB

      According to Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin, “each member of the TAB personifies collaboration and works hard to help us increase the technical dominance of the Linux operating system.” As for the Board itself, it “provides essential guidance to the Linux Foundation and its members.”

  • Instructionals

  • Desktop Environments

    • New Theming Capabilities…

      Currently there is work progressing on themes on GNUstep… here are the links for that…

    • November 22nd, 2009

      This week… 1637 commits, in 179 projects, by 248 happy hackers (and 285 were translation commits).

    • KDE

      • some krunner updates

        KRunner continues to grow into a really great tool to quickly get things done using words. It was intended to be something more flexible than the Run Command dialog in KDE3 that also looked nicer. I think we’ve achieved both of those things, and KRunner blends sexily into the rest of the Plasma Desktop. It runs as its own process to allow some separation between the desktop and panels and the command dialog, which is also a bit different from KDE3 where it was part of the desktop itself.

      • An Update Of What Is To Come With KRunner In KDE SC 4.4

        With the next version of KDE SC to be released early next year, KRunner, one of KDE SC’s most powerful feature since v4.0, is getting some major updates. The hard feature freeze for KDE SC 4.4 is already done. So, in this article, we shall look at some changes that is being introduced to KRunner for KDE SC 4.4 and then some new plugins coming with it.

      • A reflection: How we made Amarok 2.2.1

        So, I’m writing this partly because of vanity (let’s be honest here), partly because reflection helps managing past mistakes better in the future, and also because some of you (KDE community) have asked about our experiences with Git. With this out of the way, let’s go in medias res:

        With Amarok 2.2.1 we have tried a new approach in release management, which meant a rather radical departure for us: The whole release cycle of 2.2.1 was pretty exactly 6 weeks long. While six weeks can be a lot of time, or very little time, in our case it was very little time, as we had set a goal of achieving three things with this release: 1) Features 2) Bug Fixes 3) Doing it all without causing regressions. To give you an impression of what we have done in these 6 weeks, check this out:

      • general audience vs advanced audience

        The example of Gwenview, Digikam and Krita is a great one, I think.

        With Gwenview, you get basic photo downloading from cameras and image manipulation. These “high end” (for Gwenview) features mostly comes from work laid down by the people working on the higher end photo management tools like (though not exclusively) Digikam. Sometimes feature improvements flow from the general audience app into the advanced tool app as well, but in my experience such improvements tend to be of the general audience pleasing type (as one might expect).

      • KDE Gets a Ubuntu One Frontend (and How To Install It)

        Harald Sitter, one of the KDE developers, has announced that the KDE frontend for Ubuntu One is now available for a technical preview. The fact that it is a technical preview means that there is bound to be crashes, bugs etc. However, it is expected that it will be available for Kubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx with dolphin integration.

  • Distributions

    • What is the Best Distribution of Linux?

      Linux comes in a wide variety of flavors, better known as distributions. Such an array can make choosing between them very difficult for both the experienced administrator as well as the new user migrating from a different operating system. Making a decision isn’t easy, but we will do our best to simplify the process of selecting the ideal Linux distribution for your needs.

    • Mandrake/Mandriva/Ulteo

      • Ulteo Open Virtual Desktop 2.0 released

        Gaël Duval, Mandrake Linux and Ulteo founder, has announced the availability of version 2.0 of the Ulteo Open Virtual Desktop (OVD). Ulteo is based on Debian and Ubuntu and allows users to run Linux and Microsoft windows applications from “any device” through a web browser. According to Ulteo, clients only need a Java enabled web browser to run the applications.

      • Mandriva will be present at the Netbook World Summit 2009

        The Netbook World Summit 2009 will be held on the 8th December, 2009 in Paris.
        The summit will be organised around panel session throughout the day:

        - A keynote speech by Walter Bender, Founder of Sugar Labs, (creator and president of One Laptop Per Child) will open the proceedings;

      • Mandriva releases USB Flash drive Linux distribution

        Linux developer Mandriva has updated its operating-system-on-a-stick with the release of Mandriva Flash 2010, which includes a bootable version of the software on a USB Flash drive.

        Available from mid-December, Mandriva Flash 2010 puts the latest version of Mandriva Linux onto an 8GB Flash drive, which has 6GB free for a user’s own documents and files.

    • Debian Family

      • Big issue to Open Source. I am Important.

        Upstream and Downstream is also important. Big problems come from Downstream thinking they are more important than upstream. Classic case of this is Ubuntu Wiki mind you Ubuntu is not they only one making this mistake. Most documentation in there really should not be there instead should be split up and stored at each of the projects they are talking about. One of the least commodity in the open source world is document writers. Clustering them at the upstream projects would get the most document writers in the one place to create documentation for everyone. This is for the good of the upstream projects.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • iRiver Story e-book reader

      iRiver doesn’t supply any e-book management software, so loading non-DRM content is a simple matter of drag’n’drop which worked out of the box with Mac and Linux machines, as well as Windows.

    • Phones

      • Nokia limits N900 shipments to pre-order customers

        Nokia fans hoping to pick up one of its N900 Linux-based smartphone-cum-tablets on the high street may finally be able to do so on 4 December.

        An unnamed Nokia spokesperson yesterday told website NokNok that the sheer volume of advance orders the Finnish phone giant has taken for the N900 means even though the first of these Maemo-based handsets are going out now, only folk who pre-ordered will get one in the short term.

      • The Ever-Nimble, Mobile Linux

        I know that not many people ever believed it, but the old complaint about free software never innovating is being disproved magnificently in a whole new field: mobile phones. It’s becoming increasing clear that alongside the iPhone, which is still the leader in this sector – at the moment – the other driving force is mobile Linux.


        That’s why free software will always *power* more innovation than closed source, even if it is not always itself the most innovative technology.

Free Software/Open Source

  • [Opensourc3 Magazine issue #5 available for free download]

    Issue 5 looks at Open Source VDI, Layer 7 Hypervisors, Scalable SMTP Networks, Virtual Traffic Management and Xen with NexentaStor.

  • What price Freedom?

    Graphics drivers (for X11 under whatever Free Software operating system you care to use) are one area where Free Software has plenty of room for improvement. My laptop has an nVidia GeForce 9600M in it, which means that there are two drivers I can use for it: the Free Software nv driver, or the proprietary nvidia one.


    Non-idle the machine draws just as much: clearly regular end-user activities (writing email, writing letters, writing blog entres, but no compiling) don’t exactly stress the machine or draw extra power. Given the numbers, I don’t understand the perceived difference in temperature or comfort of working on the machine. But it does help me put a price on Freedom: two watts.

  • FreeBSD 8.0 Review: Enterprise Ready Server Operating System

    This release improves on the functionality of FreeBSD 7.2 and introduces often requested new features in jail, SMP-optimized scheduler, virtualization, virtual network stack, NFS4, and storage subsystem improvements. This the most impressive FreeBSD releases to date. Kudos to FreeBSD team for rolling out stable and feature rich enterprise ready FreeBSD 8 operating systems.

  • Predict is an open-source, multi-user satellite tracking and orbital prediction program

    PREDICT is an open-source, multi-user satellite tracking and orbital prediction program written under the Linux operating system by John A. Magliacane, KD2BD. PREDICT is free software. Users may redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 2 of the License or any later version.

  • Mozilla

    • Mozilla adds hardware acceleration to Firefox 3.7

      Direct2D is similar to Direct3D in that it allows the software to make calls directly to the graphics card. However, whereas Direct3D is concerned with three-dimensional geometry, Direct2D is designed explicitly for rendering two-dimensional objects. That difference aside, the performance characteristics between the APIs are similar in that scenes of greater complexity rely more heavily on the processor. When it comes to browsing, that means complex sites see relatively little acceleration, while simpler sites have more free CPU power to render faster.

    • Firefox 3.7 gets GPU boost
  • Standards/Consortia


  • Aus gov dredges up cuter panic-button for kids online

    Salvation for children who feel threatened, harassed or bullied on the internet may be close at hand, in the shape of a user-friendly dolphin-shaped “panic button”.

  • TV vs Web: consumption characteristics

    On cranky usability guy Jakob Neilsen’s Alertbox, this wonderful chart on the relative “consumption” characteristics of TV vs the web.

  • Jean Charles de Menezes’ family settles for £100,000 Met payout

    A string of police blunders led to the innocent electrician being held down by police and shot repeatedly in the head. They mistakenly believed he was a suicide bomber about to detonate a device.

  • Scientists give grubby children a clean bill of health

    Researchers from the School of Medicine at the University of California found that being too clean could impair the skin’s ability to heal. The San Diego-based team discovered that normal bacteria that live on the skin trigger a pathway that helps prevent inflammation when we get hurt.

  • Police routinely arresting people to get DNA, inquiry claims

    Police officers are now routinely arresting people in order to add their DNA sample to the national police database, an inquiry will allege tomorrow.

  • Environment

    • Nuclear contamination

      NEXT week Henri Proglio will become the boss of EDF Group, the state-controlled French firm which is the world’s biggest listed utility and operator of nuclear reactors. With its proud corporate culture, its devotion to long-term planning and its powerful unions (the Confédération Générale du Travail jointly runs the firm, in effect), EDF is sometimes described as a miniature version of France itself.

  • Finance

    • 7 technologies that can help you weather the crisis

      While some politicians would have us believe the crisis is over and we’re recovering I think we can never be too sure, at the very least. Respectable people who are widely credited for predicting this crisis (George Celente, Peter Schiff, Ron Paul etc.) are saying there are even worse times to come. Suffice it to say it would probably be a bad idea to go get too comfy right now and think saving and being prepared is no longer so vital.

    • Revisiting a Fed Waltz With A.I.G.

      Many in Washington want to give more regulatory power to the Federal Reserve Board, the banking regulator that orchestrated the A.I.G. bailout. Through this prism, the actions taken in the deal by Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, who was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York at the time, grow curiouser and curiouser.

  • AstroTurf

    • Wendell Potter in Arkansas: Real World Fears v. the Boogeyman

      This Thanksgiving season, I am thankful for so many things: my life, family, friends, freedoms, and new job at the Center for Media and Democracy. I feel lucky to be working with a team devoted to making a real difference in people’s lives as we out spin and press for change. And, with the broken health insurance system, I am thankful to work at CMD with a real-life hero, Wendell Potter, who is fighting tirelessly for families across the country so that parents and children and grandparents and grandchildren can have real access to needed health care to save their lives and thrive.

    • Qatar Taps Mcfarlane For Darfur

      The bulk of MA’s $206K projected average monthly budget goes for airfare to Doha and other Middle Eastern destinations. Six trips are planned over the course of the one-year contract for four advisors. Average hotel room cost is pegged at $375 a night, while per diem meal fee in the Middle East is pegged at $150, and $100 in the U.S. MA pegs its monthly fee at $63,500.

    • Roll Your Own Tax Rate

      The evasion could cost the government more than $30 million a month in revenues, according to the Associated Press. But the potential cost to the public is far greater, since studies show higher cigarette taxes have proved to be an effective way to discourage children from smoking.

      The new fear is that the gimmickry of rolling your own and using flavored (“pipe”) tobacco — now banned in packaged cigarettes — could prove irresistible for youngsters experimenting with life. And with death.

  • Internet/Censorship/Web Abuse/Rights

    • EFF sets sights on abusive EULAs

      Using a TOS, online service providers can dictate their legal relationship with users through private contracts, rather than rely on the law as written. In the unregulated and unpredictable world of the Internet, such arrangements often provide the necessary ground rules for how various online services should be used.

    • Terms Of (Ab)Use

      One cannot go online today without eventually being asked to accept a set of so-called Terms of Service (or TOS) agreements. These “terms” are actually purported legal contracts between the user and the online service provider (websites, MMORPGs, communication services, etc.), despite the fact that users never get a change to negotiate their contents and can often be entirely unaware of their existence.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • Virgin Media to trial filesharing monitoring system

      The trial will cover about 40 per cent of Virgin Media’s network, a spokesman said, but those involved will not be informed. “It would be counter-productive because it doesn’t affect customers directly,” he said.

    • P2P Sites’ Injunctions Overturned, Anti-Piracy Group Fined

      Preliminary injunctions against two file-sharing portals have been overturned, paving the way for a re-opening. The sites’ lawyers have proven that hard drive evidence collected during a controversial raid against the sites’ admin is worthless, and the anti-piracy group involved has been fined by the court for acting in bad faith.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Michael Shaw, community reporter for Assigment Zero 02 (2007)

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

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