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01.21.10

Links 21/1/2010: GNU/Linux at NZ Government, Haiku+KDE, Firefox 3.6 Out

Posted in News Roundup at 11:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Olive Media Olive 2 review

    The Olive Media Olive 2 is a network audio player to bridge the gap between computer and hi-fi.

    [...]

    You interact and select tracks from your music collection on the Olive Media Olive 2 through a black and yellow-themed screen interface, with text showing in white; behind the scenes, the Olive uses a Linux operating system. The graphical user interface could be slow to update as menu items were selected, and while we usually got to where we wanted to go eventually, it was neither slick nor intuitive.

  • Getting things done in Linux

    If your New Year’s Resolution includes something along the lines of “be better organized,” choosing a task manager might be in order. Linux doesn’t lack for task managers, but good ones are few and far between. To help LWN readers boost productivity, we’ve picked a few to look at.

  • A Monument for Bruno

    We’re losing a friend.

    Last week, I was notified that a long-time Linux Advocate is dying.

    His name is Bruno Knaapen and he has brain cancer.

  • 10 Blockbusters Made with the Help of Linux

    Avatar (2009)
    The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)
    Shrek the Third (2007)
    X-Men The Last Stand (2006)
    King Kong (2005)
    Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)
    Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002)
    Gladiator (2000)
    The Matrix (1999)
    Titanic (1997)

  • Linux in Real Life – Uses Around the World

    Both companies are largely (or in the case of Amazon – almost entirely) powered by Linux. In addition to these, it relatively safe to say around half the internet runs on Linux powered Apache servers.

    I think I’ve covered just about everyone who uses technology at this point in some form or another. Does anyone still think you haven’t uses something Linux powered at least once in your life? No? Good. :)

    Does anyone else know of some other common places Linux is used by the masses or another large retailer/company that is Linux powered that I missed?

  • LCA

    • LCA 2010: From India with code

      Bharata B. Rao, one of the speakers at the 11th LCA, is an exception – he has come to Wellington straight from Bangalore and is just recovering from the jetlag. (His talk is titled “Using performance counters to optimize task placement on multi-core systems.”)

      Rao, who is in his mid-30s, works for IBM as a senior staff software engineer in the India Software Labs Systems Group. What’s more, he writes code aimed at the Linux kernel.

    • LCA 2010: Smooth sailing at halfway point

      Midway through the week that comprises the 11th Australian national Linux conference, the two co-organisers, Andrew and Susanne Ruthven, say they are extremely pleased with the way things are working out.

    • LCA 2010: How FOSS spreads to the home

      Shane Geddes is one of the first batch of students to enrol in New Zealand’s first high school that uses only free and open source software – the Albany Senior High School in Auckland.

    • LCA 2010: Tridge and the art of education

      It takes a lot of courage to set out on an unexplored course, especially when it comes to academia. There is nothing to compare with the withering scorn that one earns from this community if one sets out on an ambitious course – and then fails miserably.

    • In pictures: Linux.conf.au
    • LCA 2010 Thursday Keynote – Glyn Moody

      Glyn Moody – Hackers at the end of the world. Rebel code is now 10 years old… 50+ interviews over a year – and could be considered an archaeology now :) I probably haven’t down the keynote justice – it was excellent but high density – you should watch it online ;)

      Glyn talks about open access – various examples like the public library of science (and how the scientific magazine business made 30%-40% profit margins. The Human Genome Project & the ‘Bermuda Principles’: public submimssion of annotated sequences. In 2000 Celera were going to patent the entire human genome. Jim Kent spent 3 weeks writing a program to join together the sequenced fragments on a 100 PC 800Mhz Pentium processor. This was put into the public domain on just before Celera completed their processing – and by that action Celera were prevented from patenting *us*.

    • LCA2010: Day 3, Wellington, New Zealand

      Corbet took his typical potshot at Ubuntu, saying that LKML is now friendlier than the Ubuntu mailing lists. Thankfully two other speakers today (mako and mjg) mentioned the Ubuntu Code of Conduct as being both important and effective in the Ubuntu community. In my opinion, there seems to be an ever-growing trend of LWN.net attacks on Canonical and Ubuntu. I think I’ll dedicate a post on that topic soon.

    • Linux.conf.au – Day Three

      The glorious weather that had punctuated the first two days of the conference held, heralding in the third day in a blaze of sunshine. The conference proper was introduced by a keynote by Benjamin Mako Hill on Antifeatures: Why your software works against you and why software freedom offers hope of a better future. Mako explored the concept of anti-features as deliberately included functionality or a lack of functionality that users hate so much they will pay to have them removed. Some classic examples included the gator spyware that was included with free version of p2p software on the windows platform – with a spyware-free version available for a fee.

    • linux.conf supports Life Flight Trust

      LCA2010 delegates are invited to to make donations to the Life Flight Trust and be in to win an exclusive once-in-a-lifetime experience on Saturday 23rd January.

    • Linux.conf.au, FOSS and the Joe Blow job

      This year’s Linux.conf.au gathering has placed more emphasis than ever on the broader impact of free and open source software (FOSS), and how the models it utilises could benefit society in all kinds of other ways. It’s a fascinating argument and a worthwhile goal, but it’s still hard to escape the feeling that it’s not being tailored well for the non-geek community. The way the case is being presented at LCA 2010, Joe Blow won’t want to know.

    • LCA 2010: Kiwis to give FOSS desktop a go

      New Zealand will begin a test of a homegrown free and open source desktop solution next month, with the Horizons Regional Council to be one of the guinea pigs, according to the president of the country’s open source society.

    • Linux.conf.au 2010 kicks off in New Zealand

      Linus Torvalds himself is known to attend – and was in Hobart for the first time last year – and multinational software companies like Google use LCA as a hunting ground for fresh talent.

    • Linux.conf.au: Birds of a Feather

      The Birds of a Feather sessions include topics such as installfests and how to run them, Linus standard operating environment development and MySQL Sandbox.

  • Desktop

    • 2010: The Year the Desktop OS No Longer Matters?

      I agree with Vincent Danen that wondering whether Linux is ready for the desktop is silly, even irrelevant — wider usage tends to foster growth in related sectors (think cloud computing and virtualization). But Koenning’s made a particularly strong (and strangely parallel) point that encouraging “non-technical” end users to use open source software is a great way to ease vendors into supporting non-proprietary platforms.

    • Why Governments Should Ban Microsoft Internet Explorer

      There are many alternatives available today, such as GNU/Linux based Ubuntu which are not only cheaper but also much more safer.

    • NZ govt trials Linux desktops in Feb

      Three New Zealand government agencies will begin a pilot next month to replace their existing Windows desktops with machines running Linux and other open source software.

      The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Horizons Regional Council and NZ Post will all begin trialling the use of Linux desktops in February. NZ Post’s open source plans were outed by Computerworld in August last year.

    • A no-cost Windows killer: On Sale Now, only $26!

      A quick visit to Ubuntu.com, and I found Buying Ubuntu on CD and DVD. This links to authorized distributors all over the planet, and their pricing is rather different than WashingtonCD. For example, at On-disk.com CDs and DVDs are under $5.00US, and couple bucks for shipping. (WashingtonCD is not an authorized distributor.) Canonical will ship you a CD edition for free. Really free, not free + money.

      Don’t wait, folks, get your unauthorized no-cost Windows killer for only $20 + $6 shipping now!

    • Computers are becoming cool again

      Lenovo’s Ultra portable Skylight smart book, is also powered by efficient cell processors most of us have never heard of. It runs on a Lenovo user interface on Linux, although you wouldn’t know it when using it. One battery charge gives you 11 hours on the go. It has WiFi and always – connected cellular 3G. It basically bridges what has been missing between smart phones and Netbooks.

  • Robotics

  • Server

    • Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Your Server with boxinfo

      Any system administrator worth their salt has some kind of system for collecting and maintaining information about all the systems they’re responsible for. Gathering that info by hand, especially when the systems are inherited, can be time-consuming. Or you could try out boxinfo, a Perl script that gathers most or all of the information you’d want in a few easy steps.

    • Astec introduces new Advanced Mezzanine Card

      The A8T84140-AMC is supported under Linux 2.6 and is supplied with RPMs for Red Hat Enterprise Linux and CentOS. The card is compatible with the PICMG AMC.0 base specification with options for compact, mid-height and full-height versions, enabling the card to be installed into any AdvancedMC slot in an ATCA carrier or a ?TCA chassis.

    • Engate and IBM offer a security suite that proactively protects SMBs from a diversity of email-borne threats

      This Linux-based IBM solution provides staple collaboration tools such as email, file sharing, and remote access and affords peace of mind through automated network security features, data protection, backup and recovery. With Engate, Lotus Foundations Start will offer a security suite that proactively protects SMBs from a diversity of email-borne threats.

  • Google

    • Campbell: Google OS as a new netbook computer

      There is much afoot regarding netbooks, as they continue to evolve and find their place in the computer world.

      People criticize and laud netbooks in seemingly equal proportions. Some say they are inexpensive and provide just enough processing power for the average user.

    • Chrome OS gets faster Zero build

      Chromium hacker Hexxeh has released a faster, USB-bootable build of Google’s Chrome OS called Chromium OS Zero. Meanwhile, ArsTechnica interviewed Google’s Engineering Director for Chrome OS, Matthew Papakipos, regarding the past and future of Chrome OS.

      Hexxeh’s final build of Chromium OS Zero follows earlier, well-regarded releases of versions including Chromium OS Diet and Cherry. Based on the open source Linux Chromium code that Google began to release in late November, with the goal of releasing a final Chrome OS for netbooks later this year, Chromium OS Zero promises major speed improvements “for many users,” according to Hexxeh’s blog announcement.

    • Android-x86 1.6 Screenshots
    • Run Android on Your PC

      Today we are proud to announce a new operating system, a port of Google’s famous Android platform for the x86 (32-bit) architecture. Simply named Android-x86, this Live CD Linux distribution is designed mostly for the Eee PC netbooks, but can also run on any other 32-bit (x86) platform. The current stable version of Android-x86 is based on Android 1.6 (Donut) and it’s powered by Linux kernel 2.6.29 with kernel mode-setting (or KMS for short) enabled. It has support for the EXT3, EXT2, NTFS and FAT32 filesystems, and can be run directly from the CD (yes, no installation required)! But, if you like it and you want to install it on your hard drive or on a USB stick, we have a short tutorial for you at the end of the article.

  • Kernel Space

    • The Importance of Legal Innovation

      To that end, on February 10, 2010 the Linux Foundation and the Open Source Initiative will host a Strategic Planning Session for lawyers active in support or adoption of free and open source software. At this meeting our legal community will consider what legal issues we anticipate may arise and what foundations we might be able to lay to support continued rise of free and open source software.

    • 75% of Linux code now written by paid developers

      Forget lofty ideals about the open-source community: most Linux kernel code is written by paid developers at major corporations.

      [...]

      During a presentation at Linux.conf.au 2010 in Wellington, LWN.net founder and kernel contributor Jonathan Corbet offered an analysis of the code contributed to the Linux kernel between December 24 2008 and January 10 2010. (The kernel serves as a basis from which individual distributions such as Ubuntu, Debian or Red Hat are developed, though these will often add or remove specific features.)

    • Size Can Matter: Ramdisk Journal Metadata Performance – Part 2

      As with the previous article, four journal sizes are tested to understand the impact of journal size on metadata performance. The four journal sizes are:

      * 16MB (0.0032% of file system size)
      * 64MB (0.0128% of file system size)
      * 256MB (0.0512% of file system size)
      * 1GB (0.2% of file system size)

  • Applications

  • KDE (Desktop Environment)

    • BeOS clone Haiku gains KDE applications

      The Haiku operating system, an open source remake of BeOS, has gained support for running a number of KDE applications, including the KOffice productivity suite. This was made possible by a native port of Nokia’s Qt development framework to the Haiku platform.

    • Day one at Camp KDE 2010

      The first day of Camp KDE is behind us, with the first of the many presentations being well attended. A full summary of the talks lives behind the break, and videos will be online shortly. If you are in the San Diego region, feel free to join us for Camp KDE for talks and training.

    • Camp KDE 2010 Continues with More Talks

      The second day of Camp KDE was filled with many more interesting talks. This day’s talks were of the more technical nature versus the first day, and the KDE team took notes. As usual, the talks were recorded and videos will be available soon. A detailed rundown of the second day of talks are behind the link.

  • Distributions

    • The Linux That Blew My Mind

      I have always been searching for some amazing stuff from the linux world.And this time i was thunderstruck by one of them and that is Nimblex Linux.It is a linux distribution that allows the users to select whatever they need from a long list of programs.The linux is so overwhelming that it is worth a nobel price.It enables us to create a custom cd from a mere 200 mb cd.It is based on live scripts .After you select the modules you need you can make an .iso image and save that to your harddisk.It is termed as the new wave of linux.

    • German Gentoo Book

      Please take the time to thank Gunnar for all the excellent work he has done for Gentoo.

    • Linux distribution Ylmf OS looks just like Windows XP

      There is no shortage of Linux distros. For dozens, if not hundreds, of different tastes, there is a distribution made for you. And now, there is even a version of Linux that doesn’t even look like Linux at all. It looks like Windows XP.

    • Debian Family

      • Still very cool: Debian floppy install

        I like Debian for being somewhere in between a beginner’s distro and an advanced distro. Many of the high-end, menial chores required by Crux et al. simply evaporate in Debian, and at the same time Debian doesn’t seem to “push your face in the plate” like Ubuntu sometimes can. You’re still responsible for managing a lot of what happens with your system … kind of like Arch.

      • Proprietary software in Ubuntu? – Good or bad?

        Looking from a FOSS point of view, the inclusion of proprietary software within the Ubuntu library will be of concern to some. I can understand that point, however we have to be realistic. Ubuntu is arguably the most popular Linux distro, it has a legion of very happy users who champion the product. Unfortunately Canonical is a company and its a company that needs to generate revenue to stay in existence. If Canonical could “live” off good will and praise then it would probably be the most valuable company in the world. I have often said there is a place for proprietary software and if by offering titles that were traditionally the mainstay of a Windows platform will bring new users to Linux, then bring it on.

      • Why Canonical’s move to bring close-sourced applications to Ubuntu is a good thing

        If you have ever introduce someone to Linux, you will know that they always ask “Will this software work? Will that software work?”. If you say “No they won’t work”, they instantly loose interest. For example, I have been asked if Photoshop will work when I try to get my friend to install Ubuntu. When I told him that it will not, no amount of convincing from me that Gimp is a great alternative could move him. However, if Windows (or Mac) users get to use their favorite applications in Ubuntu as well it will increase the number of Ubuntu users greatly.

        From Canonical’s point of view too this makes a lot of sense. If they make paid softwares like Photoshop available in their repository, they are effectively acting as an online store. This can potentially be another revenue source for them.

      • A Look At Ubuntu Lucid Plymouth Themes [Screenshots And Short Video]

        I’ve finally got Plymouth up and running on Ubuntu Lucid. Well, up and partially running – I only get to see the new Plymouth at shutdown, but considering I have an Nvidia graphics card and only installed Ubuntu Lucid in VirtualBox so far, I’ll take what I can get.

        Let’s take a look at the Ubuntu Lucid Plymouth themes (already included in Lucid). I should have made this post about the “Solar” theme only, as it’s the only one which is nice, the others are either static or just a “glow”.

      • Ubuntu Help Centre To Get Major Overhaul For Lucid?

        The Ubuntu “Help and Support” system may be getting a overhaul in time for Lucid.

        Developers feel the majority of users are either simply unaware that the help system exists or find it overly complicated to navigate and draw information from.

      • Ubuntu Showcase Videos are Awesome Adverts

        These videos can be a great way to demonstrate the power of Linux/Ubuntu to family members, friends or the hardened Linux sceptic. What better way to prove your OS is good looking, useable and feature-filled than to show your good looking, useable and feature-filled desktop?!

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Lockheed-Martin & IronKey Release Virtual Privacy Machine on a USB Stick

      Most VPM’s are forged from hardened versions of Linux on a diet due to flash drive size constraints. USB 3.0, SLC flash, and larger flash drives have all, but removed this limit and embedded versions of more full featured, user friendly versions of Linux are popping up. While it may seem extreme, maintaining corporate intellectual property and securing assets from disgruntled employees can mean big bucks in today’s bleeding edge world. Look for the rapid proliferation of ideas like this in the years to come.

    • LAN appliance hosts 32nm Core CPUs

      Operating system support was not detailed. However, other network appliances from Lanner, such as the FW-7580 announced last month, have supported Linux, Windows, OpenBSD, and FreeBSD.

    • Is software freedom a necessity or a distraction when it comes to consumer devices?

      There has been a fair bit of hand-ringing recently about free and open source software’s impact on mobile phones and other consumer devices. Lysandra Ohrstrom of the SFLC last week celebrated the increased use of FOSS on devices available at the Consumer Electronics Show, but lamented the fact that often the user does not get to “share, tinker, and adapt the devices”. Meanwhile Bradley M Kuhn recently warned that “we are in a very precarious time with regard to the freedom of mobile devices” while Glyn Moody questioned whether it is healthy that most Android applications are closed-source.

    • Android, Linux & Real-time Development for Embedded Systems

      Android is an application framework on top of Linux. We will look at the details of the layers of the framework, shortly. It is supplied as open source code, but does not bind the user with the constraints of the GPL ” there is no requirement for developers to make public any code developed using Android.

    • Let There Be Rock: Digital Guitar Better Than The Real Thing?

      Believe it or not, this electronic guitar is actually a Gentoo Linux box, running a 500MHz AMD Geode processor, an 8.4-inch, 800×600 LCD touch screen with an SSH server and a MIDI output. It is made of milled, solid plastic, and could probably be hooked up to Rock Band. But that is to rob it of the romance.

    • Cool-er ebook reader

      The Cool-er is based on a Linux OS and we’ve been informed that the entire OS will be made GPL in the near future, allowing developers to chop and change the firmware to add the features they require. It supports PDF, EPUB, FB2, RTF, TXT, HTML, PRC, JPG and MP3, so you’ll be able to view images and listen to music if you choose. Annoyingly, the Cool-er uses a 2.5mm headphone jack instead of the standard 3.5mm jack – although an adapter is included.

    • Phones

      • Review: Nokia N900

        Nokia’s N900 is a Linux-based mobile device with a number of advanced features, including application multi-tasking, built-in VoIP support, stereo speakers, graphics acceleration, video output to a TV, and more.

      • OpenOffice.org and the Gimp on the N900

        I have had my N900 for about one month now. During that time I have enjoyed several “Wow!” moments. For example, being able to use the web just as if I was onha my desktop, including heavy javascript and flash sites such as Google Maps, Google Docs, GMail, Photobucket, etc. was amazing to me. Being a Linux user for many years, I really enjoy having access to a terminal application with access to root and to tools like the vi text editor. Being able to use Python to develop right on the device and to be able to use my own old Python programs, such as 7Squeeze, gave me that very warm feeling of validation. But, the N900 had one more big Wow! moment in store for me, one that I truly did not expect.

      • Nokia announces bugfix release for Qt and beta version of Qt for Maemo

        The first bugfix release for version 4.6 of Qt GUI toolkit, acquired by Nokia in 2008, is now available. Similarly, an update for the cross-platform Qt Creator development environment, version 1.3.1, is also available to download. Both combine numerous fixes with performance enhancements and revised documentation. Qt 4.6.1 contains more than 90 changes, whilst debugging (especially under Mac OS X 10.6 ‘Snow Leopard’) and the C++ editor have both been revised in Qt Creator. Both technologies are available on the Qt project’s Git resource under the open source LGPL 2.1 license.

    • Android

      • Android e-reader goes on sale with file viewer

        Entourage Systems is taking pre-orders for its dual-display, Android-based “Entourage Edge” e-reader, bundled with DataViz’s Documents To Go. In other recent e-reader news, Spring Design’s “Alex” will access Borders’ e-book store, Samsung announced two e-readers, Amazon announced a new Kindle DX model, and Amazon is broadening its Kindle self-publishing platform.

      • Motorola Slates 20-30 Android Phones For 2010 Releases

        People who like to try new cell phones on a regular basis should brace themselves; this year, Motorola’s going to do its best to make it rain Android devices. In an interview today, one exec committed to releasing something like two dozen smartphones based on the mobile operating system.

      • Motorola’s Latest Android Handset Unveiled in South Korea

        Motorola this week unveiled its first Android phone for the South Korean market. The phone, called the Motoroi, looks similar to the Motorola Droid handset in the U.S. or the Milestone in Europe but without the slide-out keyboard.

      • Android’s Next Challenge? iTunes

        You are probably already aware that Google has launched the Nexus one, aka “the Google Phone”.

        The reviews are mixed from what I have read so far.

        Early in the rumor mill — way back when there was first talk of a Google-backed device — the thought was that perhaps the Google phone would be “free” but laden with advertisements. The idea being that if you let Google display ads to you morning, noon and night on your mobile phone, you could enjoy free… everything.

      • Review: HTC Tattoo

        HTC hopes it can encourage a wider audience to choose the Tattoo by offering customisable casing. At the point you buy you can choose pre-defined colours or use your own imagination and customise with your own designs. We couldn’t test this service before writing, but it sounds promising.

        Without good usability none of this matters, of course, and there is both good and bad news on this front. In general we found working with the Tattoo comfortable enough. Its screen is a bit small at 2.8 inches, and its 240 x 320 pixel resolution is the lowest we expect to see from any finger-friendly smartphone. But for the most part it was good enough.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Flash is coming to the iPhone, thanks to Gordon

    Schneider (pictured right, next to Flash Gordon) married up Javascript with the iPhone’s inbuilt support for Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), an open-source competitor to Flash, which hasn’t taken off to the same extent as Flash, due to the fact that Adobe had years of head-start in terms of getting the software installed on virtually all PCs.

  • Eleven Open Source Cloud Computing Projects to Watch

    Last month cloud computing and systems management expert John Willis published his best of Cloud Computing for 2009 list he calls the Cloudies. I am not an expert on the latest developments in cloud computing so it was nice to get a list of the best (in his expert opinion) cloud computing tools. I was especially interested in the latest open source software and I did a little research on each of these projects to see if they had active development mailing lists, regular releases and a real community behind them. At first glance my final list read like a cast of manga characters with names like Bitnami, CollectD, Enomaly, OpenNebula, RabbitMQ and Zenoss. However they all seem to benefit from a strong development ethic, a growing community of users and the ability to address challenges associated with cloud computing.

  • An Insight into Open Source Initiatives at BT

    Both BT’s open source innovation capability, Osmosoft, and its open source governance unit, the Open Source Operations Team, aim to operate in as transparent a manner as possible. In support of this we contribute to initiatives such as FOSSBazaar and the European Legal Network, and where possible publish information about how we deliver using F/OSS technologies and how we implement the associated governance.

  • Announcing The Nuxified 2010 ‘FOSS Clique’ Revision

    I am pleased to officially announce the 2010 revision of Nuxified.org, an alternative outlet for all Free Open Source Software users and fans. This revision proves that there’s still plenty of life behind this site and is a token of my continued interest in maintaining and improving it.

    The slogan marking this revision is a “FOSS Clique” translating perfectly to a “community of people interested in Free Open Source Software”.

  • New: OpenOffice.org 3.2.0 Release Candidate 3 (build OOO320_m10) available

    OpenOffice.org 3.2.0 Release Candidate 3 is now available on the download website.

  • Open Source Expert Joins CompTIA’s Board

    CompTIA — a large association serving the IT channel — has longstanding relationships with Microsoft and the traditional software industry. But one of CompTIA’s new board members could help to drive open source solutions across the IT channel. Here’s the scoop.

  • Web code is already open – why not make it free as well

    Oh dear. After the debacle with Microsoft Poland’s apparent racist photoshopping, Microsoft China went and got the company in hot water for allegedly “stealing” code. Yes you read that right: Microsoft and wholesale “theft” of code from another website. Of course it’s not “theft” it’s copyright infringement but tomayto/tomarto. Microsoft confessed blaming a vendor they had worked with. No surprise really but the damage to their name may have already been done. There’s more to discuss here than Microsoft’s already tarnished reputation though. The issue raises some important points in favour of free software and points to why more if not all code should benefit from free licencing.

  • VoIP

    • Digium Launches Asterisk Exchange

      At this week’s AsteriskWorld conference, Digium will officially launched Asterisk Exchange — an online marketplace that allows customers and channel partners to piece together solutions involving Asterisk (the open source IP PBX). If successful, Asterisk Exchange could expand the ecosystem for alternative VoIP and unified communication solutions. Here’s the scoop, including a FastChat video with Digium CEO Danny Windham.

    • Asterisk-based IP-PBX device adds GSM option

      Pika Technologies announced a GSM Module for its open source Asterisk- and FreePBX-based IP-PBX device. The dual-channel GSM Module for the Pika Warp Appliance for Linux enables PBX developers to offer connections to one or more GSM cellular networks, offering backup and LCR (least cost routing), the company says.

    • Digium Updates Switchvox 4.5

      Modern PBX phone systems often have lots of capabilities that end-users never actually see, since they don’t actually directly use the PBX — they use the phones that the PBX enables. That’s a situation that VoIP vendor Digium is aiming to change with the new release of Switchvox 4.5.

      Switchvox is Digium’s commercially licensed VoIP IP PBX and was last updated a year ago for enhanced unified communications collaboration services. Digium itself is best known as the lead commercial sponsor behind the open source Asterisk IP PBX effort, which also serves as the base for Switchvox.

  • Mozilla

    • Firefox 3.6 Final Available for Download

      The final development milestone of Firefox 3.6 has been released to web and is currently available for download for users of Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.

    • Firefox 3.6 Launches on Thursday

      Mozilla will release Firefox 3.6 on Thursday, the Mozilla Foundation said Wednesday.

      The exact time for the Firefox 3.6 release will be on Thursday, Jan. 20, at 9:30 AM Pacific time, according to a note on the Firefox 3.6 “coming soon” page.

    • 5 Firefox Add-Ons to Make Browsing Easier

      Just when you think you’ve got all the Firefox add-ons you’ll ever need, the developer community is busy dreaming up more. Here’s five add-ons you’ll love that also might solve some problems you didn’t even know you had.

    • Bespin, Mozilla’s editor for the cloud, gets a reboot

      Mozilla Labs has rolled out a major update to Bespin, an open source text editing engine that is built with standards-based Web technologies. The project has undergone a “reboot” with the aim of improving the ease with which it can be used and enhanced.

      Bespin 0.6, codenamed Ash, reflects the significant effort that went into the architectural overhaul. The code is more modular and is designed so that virtually all of the core functionality is implemented in plugins. The developers have also made it considerably easier to embed Bespin in webpages, an improvement that will lower the barriers to adoption.

  • Drupal

    • Another look at Drupal

      Early on in the first year of this blog, I got to investigating the use of Drupal for creating an article-based subsite. In the end, the complexities of its HTML and CSS thwarted my attempts to harmonise the appearance of web pages with other parts of the same site and I discontinued my efforts. In the end, it was Textpattern that suited my needs and I have stuck with that for the aforementioned subsite.

    • Dries Buytaert: Managing growth of an open source project
  • BSD

  • Openness

    • Our Future World: Freedom (and Daemon)

      The Daemon series is an exploration of a could-be-now, constantly connected society. Suarez has taken cutting edge technology and inserted it into everyday life. It’s a great exploration of where our society might be headed. In many ways it reminds me Cory Doctorow’s excellent Little Brother. Cory’s young-adult novel is a great primer for hacker and maker culture. Daemon serves a similar purpose providing a primer for what a networked society that is structured like MMORPG will look like.

    • Tim Berners-Lee unveils government data project

      Web founder Sir Tim Berners-Lee has unveiled his latest venture for the UK government, which offers the public better access to official data.

      A new website, data.gov.uk, will offer reams of public sector data, ranging from traffic statistics to crime figures, for private or commercial use.

    • Are You Ready For An Open Source Car?

      Admit it, when many of you think of open source you assume software. But new concepts of open source in hardware and design promise to transform many industries. Open Source’s allure of faster, more agile development, quicker innovation and accelerating evolution of technology doesn’t apply to software alone.

      The first time I heard of open source hardware was when both my friend Brad Feld and Fred Wilson wrote about Bug Labs in their blogs. I was intrigued by the idea but didn’t quite grok it. I knew that if Brad and Fred invested in it there must be something to it and I would watch it develop. But the idea seems to have some legs.

  • Programming

    • New jQuery Forum

      Today we’re officially announcing the brand new jQuery Forum. We’ve been using mailing lists, and subsequently Google Groups, over the past 4 years to manage the discussion and community around jQuery. That particular solution has simply not been able to scale to our discussion requirements both in terms of participation and in managing spam.

    • Sauce Labs Announces Sauce IDE

      Sauce Labs has released Sauce IDE, a record and playback system for Selenium tests that allows individuals new to Selenium do automated application functional testing on multiple browsers including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome and Opera and multiple operating systems, all without writing any code.

    • What Programming Language Should You Learn?

      I’m going to attempt to answer the number-one most common technology question on the web, and hopefully do it so I can just link people here. Wish me luck, I’ll need it!

    • Dear Mindless Harbor,

      (3) Of all things, you’re trying to sell me design in .NET/ .ASP. Now, can anyone see Idiot’s mistake? Ah, yes, in the second row. A website about Free-and-Open-Source Software? Hosted on a Linux server? With an email address with the word “Linux” right in the string? With numerous posts about coding in Python and PHP? Yeah, that does raise a red flag, doesn’t it?

    • TeachingOpenSource.org Explains Open Source Programming

      Open source has bought us some great products, but even if you’re a programming genius, working out how to get involved in a project can be challenging. The TeachingOpenSource.org site offers a wealth of material to help you learn the basics.

Leftovers

  • Google

    • Google talks Chrome OS, HTML5, and the future of software

      I had done my best to sort out the why’s and wherefore’s of Google’s first consumer OS effort in my initial launch coverage but I still had many questions about the past, present, and future of the project.

      [...]

      EB: The way that we’ve thought about this for a while is if you read the Chrome OS blog post that we did in July, and you read the Chrome browser blog post that we did in September in 2008, they’re very similar. They’re essentially the same thing. And the reason is because when we were building Chrome the browser, we realized that everyone is spending their time online. So essentially we were trying to build something that mimics this operating system feel—there’s a task manager in Chrome, and that was one of the early additions to Chrome.

    • German Publishers Go After Google; Apparently Very Confused About How The Internet Works

      The publishers are claiming that Google is purposely degrading its results (and they can prove it!) and at the same time complaining that they can’t compete against those degraded results. Wow.

    • Did The Automobile Dehumanize Walking? No? Then Does Google Dehumanize Intelligence?

      The calculator didn’t dehumanize math. The automobile didn’t dehumanize walking. And Google, most certainly, has not dehumanized intelligence. It’s only enabled it to do much, much more.

  • Security

    • Foreign Journalists’ Gmail Hijacked in China

      The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said correspondents working in bureaus in Beijing had their Google Gmail accounts hijacked.

      An association of journalists based in Beijing said reporters have recently had their Google Gmail accounts hijacked.

    • China’s Baidu sues US domain registrar after hack

      Top Chinese search engine Baidu.com has sued its U.S. domain registrar over a hack that took down the Web site, alleging negligence by the U.S. company, Baidu said Wednesday.

    • FBI Broke Law Spying on Americans’ Phone Records, Post Reports

      An internal audit found the FBI broke the law thousands of times when requesting Americans’ phone records using fake emergency letters that were never followed up on with true subpoenas — even though top officials knew the practice was illegal, according to The Washington Post.

    • FBI broke law for years in phone record searches

      The FBI illegally collected more than 2,000 U.S. telephone call records between 2002 and 2006 by invoking terrorism emergencies that did not exist or simply persuading phone companies to provide records, according to internal bureau memos and interviews. FBI officials issued approvals after the fact to justify their actions.

    • DVLA sells drivers’ details to clampers at £2.50 a time

      Millions of motorists’ personal details have been sold to ‘parasite’ parking firms and even rogue clampers by a Government agency in a trade generating £43.9million so far.

    • Private details of magistrates released… to prisoners

      This kind of error is unforgivably stupid. Not only is it irresponsible, there’s no conceivable excuse for this kind of administrative incompetence. Even worse, it makes it less likely that people will serve as magistrates in the future.

    • Science project prompts SD school evacuation

      Students were evacuated from Millennial Tech Magnet Middle School in the Chollas View neighborhood Friday afternoon after an 11-year-old student brought a personal science project that he had been making at home to school, authorities said.

      Maurice Luque, spokesman for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, said the student had been making the device in his home garage. A vice principal saw the student showing it to other students at school about 11:40 a.m. Friday and was concerned that it might be harmful, and San Diego police were notified.

    • Twitter joke led to Terror Act arrest and airport life ban

      Unfortunately for Mr Chambers, the police didn’t see the funny side. A week after posting the message on the social networking site, he was arrested under the Terrorism Act and questioned for almost seven hours by detectives who interpreted his post as a security threat. After he was released on bail, he was suspended from work pending an internal investigation, and has, he says, been banned from the Doncaster airport for life. “I would never have thought, in a thousand years, that any of this would have happened because of a Twitter post,” said Mr Chambers, 26. “I’m the most mild-mannered guy you could imagine.”

  • Environment

  • Finance

    • Buffett Opposes Obama Bank Tax Plan, He Tells CNBC

      Warren Buffett opposes President Barack Obama’s proposed levy on financial institutions because firms including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co. already repaid bailout funds, he told CNBC.

    • AIG 100-Cents Fed Deal Driven by France Belied by French Banks

      The Federal Reserve Bank of New York paid French banks 100 cents on the dollar to settle trades with American International Group Inc. in November 2008, the same month an AIG competitor negotiated payments of less than a third of that to retire similar bets.

    • Colbert on Bonuses and Goldman Sachs
    • What Wall Street Really Fears

      The hearings into the roots of the recession aren’t scaring Wall Street. What’s really frightening is public anger at the industry shows no signs of abating, and Lloyd Blankfein, the man leading the charge to turn that around, is only making matters worse—and possibly putting his job at risk.

    • Goldman In Move To Avoid (Another) PR Disaster?

      According to the Post, “Goldman officials refuted the claim that Goldman was delaying the bonus information in order to avoid a PR flap, saying the delay was more the result of the bank changing the timeframe of its discussions with employees.”

      Mmm. Right ho.

    • Do You Go to a Goldman Sachs ATM Machine or Your Local Goldman Sachs Branch?

      It’s the biggest bank robbery in American history, but the banks are doing the robbing. I mean, just go through the facts. What, overnight in 2008 they turned Goldman Sachs, that venerable investment bank – how about casinos that gambled and lost – into a bank holding company. Why? Well, so that they could borrow at ridiculously low rates and they could be given approximately $10 billion dollars to put them on the road to gambling.

    • 10 reasons Obama is failing 95 million investors

      1. Failing to grasp John Adams’ warning: All democracies commit suicide

      [...]

      2. Failing to sense the psychological impact of being an aging democracy

      [...]

      3. Failing to demand sacrifices, instead adding to Bush’s massive war debt

      [...]

      4. Failing to lead with ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ systemic financial reforms

      [...]

      5. Failing to pick a cast of characters that could have changed history

      [...]

      6. Failing to stand up to our 100 senatorial assassins and 261,000 lobbyists

      [...]

      7. Failing to act presidential, while fat-cat bankers hijack your presidency

      [...]

      8. Failing to protect 95 million investors, letting Wall Street loot America

      [...]

      9. Failing to avoid the ‘hubris virus’ disease killing America’s leaders

      [...]

      10. Failing to see the ticking time-bomb scenario, the next big meltdown

    • Hank Greenberg Tells WSJ Goldman Sachs Behind AIG’s Collapse

      Hank Greenberg, former chief executive officer at American International Group Inc., said Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is responsible for the collapse of the insurer during the economic crisis, the Wall Street Journal reported.

    • Treasury Makes Banks Pay a TARP Premium

      Hundreds of banks issued warrants to the government in return for government aid under the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, after a credit crunch caused financial markets to seize up in 2008.

    • Obama’s “Get Tough on Banks” Again Tries to Play the Public for Fools

      Yves here. Admittedly, it is much easier telling Americans that the pursuit of lucre is a false god when most of the country is broke. But more is that FDR from the very outset set himself up as an opponent of rule by the banking classes. He depicts them as failures and calls them unscrupulous and selfish. By contrast, have were ever heard Obama even hint that bankers were less than ethical? Let’s see, last December, he called them “fat cats“! Ah yes, of course, everyone knows a cat will steal a sardine if you aren’t watching. Yeah, that Obama sure knows how to dress those bankers down!

      As we discussed at greater length earlier this week, this new “get our money back” idea is pure three card Monte. Put the spotlight on the TARP so everyone will ignore all the other massive subsidies that the banks have gotten, continue to receive, and are abusing. Those who claim many banks have “paid back the TARP” are missing (more likely choosing to obfuscate) the point: the TARP calculus grossly understates of the gives and the gets here (although as we have said before and will say again, Obama’s focus on the TARP is pure political expediency).

  • Censorship/Civil Rights

    • China to Scan Text Messages to Spot ‘Unhealthy Content’

      As the Chinese government expands what it calls a campaign against pornography, cellular companies in Beijing and Shanghai have been told to suspend text services to cellphone users who are found to have sent messages with “illegal or unhealthy content,” state-run news media reported Tuesday.

    • Commentary: Are China’s demands for Internet ‘self-discipline’ spreading to the West?

      Every year in China, Internet executives are officially rewarded for their “patriotism.”

      Last November in Beijing, I sat in a large auditorium festooned with red banners and watched Robin Li, the CEO of Google’s main competitor, Baidu, parade onstage with executives from 19 other companies to receive the 2009 “China Internet Self-Discipline Award.”

      The rhetoric was all about the “strength and confidence of the Chinese Internet” and “harmonious and healthy Internet development.” The reality is: China’s annual “self discipline” award is for private sector censorship.

    • Four convicted in Vietnam for promoting democracy

      A Vietnamese court today convicted four activists of trying to overthrow the communist government and sentenced them to up to 16 years in prison for promoting multiparty democracy.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • File-sharing is worse than murder and child abduction

      How do the above fines compare to other crimes? Gapers Block uses the Illinois Criminal code to find that file-sharing is worse than arson, child abduction and second-degree murder, among others. This just shows how ill-conceived laws are sometimes, and copyright and patent law unfortunately provides too many examples.

    • Unruly Canadians

      Notably, in the category of recorded music (the realm of active copyright lobbyists) both countries show a declining compounded annual growth rate. But Canada’s decline is projected to -1% whereas its American counterpart shows -4.7%. Similar comparisons to U.K (-3.9%), France (-7.4%), and Germany (-1.9%) all place the Canadian music scene as more stable. This, despite the state of our copyright law.

    • Question Copyright’s “Minute Memes” challenge copyright rhetoric

      How do you deal with an entrenched content industry that tries to pump its twisted values down your throat with ludicrously illogical emotional appeals? Well, one way is to fight fire with fire by making your own emotional appeals, and trust to the viral amplification of free culture distribution to get the message out. This is the essence of the “minute meme” idea from Question Copyright, and animator Nina Paley has fired the first volley with her one-minute animation “Copying Is Not Theft.”

    • Open Letter From OK Go, regarding non-embeddable YouTube videos

      This week we released a new album, and it’s our best yet. We also released a new video – the second for this record – for a song called This Too Shall Pass, and you can watch it here. We hope you’ll like it and comment on it and pass the link along to your friends and do that wonderful thing that that you do when you’re fond of something, share it. We want you to stick it on your web page, post it on your wall, and embed it everywhere you can think of.

    • Metal Distributor Drops All Albums To $5.25

      We may soon finds out – at least for the metal genre. Metal label and digital distributor Metalhit has dropped the prices on 95% of its album releases and catalog to $5.25. The company represents dozens of underground metal labels and artists.

    • Verizon — Who Promised Not To Do This — Says It’s Kicking Accused File Sharers Off The Internet [Update: Or... Maybe Not]

      Update: Aaaaaaaaaaaaand, let the backtracking commence. Verizon is apparently now claiming (to Broadband Reports) that it was all an exaggeration and that Verizon only said that it “reserved the right” to kick users off:

      I’m not aware that we’ve ever terminated anyone’s account for excessive consumption, although we reserve the right to do so. Verizon has no bandwidth caps. That part of the CNET story is wrong. I did not say “we’ve cut people off.” I said we reserve the right to do so.

      Update 2: And, again, Broadband Reports comes through. It has a new update with Verizon now claiming that, no, it has never kicked anyone off its network for file sharing accusations. It might want to tell its spokespeople that for future reference.

    • Dept of Justice files brief opposing motion to set aside verdict in Tenenbaum

      Fortunately, Judge Gertner is an eminent Constitutional Law scholar, and has demonstrated time and again that she is anything but lazy, and that even when the lawyers in the case do a lousy job, she and her staff will actually do the research and find the applicable law.

      I haven’t always agreed with her decisions, and the major body of her work in the consolidated RIAA cases has been very helpful to the RIAA, but she has demonstrated time and again that she is the best lawyer in this case. -R.B.]

    • Why Bono is wrong about filesharing

      For Bono is probably the person least likely to say “we need to find a way to have many more artists and performers make a decent living, while allowing people on below average wages, and their children, to enjoy as much music as they like within their weekly budget”. Or he might say it, in a sudden rush of blood to the head, but is surely least likely to do anything to make it happen.

    • Virgin trials P2P deep packet snooping

      The trial will see Virgin monitor about 40 per cent of its customers — none of whom will be informed of their participation. Virgin insists that the system seeks only to determine the amount of file-sharing traffic that infringes on copyright and that it will disregard data that can finger individual users.

Clip of the Day

The World According to Monsanto 5 of 10

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