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03.29.10

Links 29/3/2010: Sony’s Bait and Switch

Posted in News Roundup at 4:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Sony Zaps PlayStation 3 ‘Install Other OS’ Feature

    Sony’s spin goes something like this: By removing the feature, the company says it “will help ensure that PS3 owners will continue to have access to the broad range of gaming and entertainment content from SCE and its content partners on a more secure system.”

    Translation: You get something you already have (“access to [a] broad range of gaming” etc.) in trade for nothing, while Sony gets to close what it now deems a hacker loophole. What’s good for Sony is good for you, in other words.

    Except when it’s not (good for you, that is). Running Linux on the PS3 allows amateur developers to tinker with the PS3′s Cell processor, Sony sanctioned, and cobble together home-baked utilities and games. It’s also been used by researchers to build “discount supercomputers” to run scientific simulations that might otherwise “cost thousands of dollars.” North Carolina State University professor Frank Mueller called it “$50,000 worth of computer power for a mere $5000.”

    The majority reaction on Sony’s PlayStation blog won’t surprise anyone.

  • Mandriva 2010.0 on a Dell Latitude XT

    Sound works out-of-the-box and so did Compiz desktop effects (once enabled) which is better than I expected for this weak of a CPU and GPU configuration in this machine.

    This is not meant to be a review for Mandriva 2010.0, rather some comments regarding Mandriva 2010.0 being installed on a Dell Latitude XT notebook giving insight on what works natively and what doesn’t. I’m impressed with KDE4 and the Mandriva distribution, but I’ll save that talk for another post.

  • Graphics Stack

    • NVIDIA Launches GeForce GTX 470/480

      If you wondered why NVIDIA chose today to announce its canning the xf86-video-nv driver for all future GPUs and diverting users to use the VESA X.Org driver (even though most of them will start out using the Nouveau driver) until downloading their proprietary driver, it’s because they have finally launched Fermi.

    • H.264 VA-API Support For Intel Clarkdale/Arrandale

      Intel’s Zou Nan hai has published a patch for the Intel kernel DRM code that provides multiple ring buffer support for Clarkdale and Arrandale systems, in other words Intel’s new IGPs that are embedded onto CPUs such as the new Core i3 530 and its stellar integrated graphics.

    • Mesa 7.7.1 & 7.8.0 Released For Open-Source 3D

      Ian Romanick has just released the 7.7.1 and 7.8.0 versions of the Mesa3D open-source OpenGL stack with the DRI/Gallium3D drivers. As planned, this release is coming right on time for the end of March with Intel preparing to make its quarterly Linux graphics driver update and there is also the release of X Server 1.8 coming in the near future.

    • S3TC Support For Mesa Brought Up Again

      Besides the Mesa 7.8 release announcement hitting the Mesa mailing list over the weekend, also catching our interest is a new discussion concerning S3TC texture compression in this open-source software stack. One of the developers working on Spring RTS, an open-source real-time strategy game engine for Linux and Windows, is wanting the open-source Mesa developers to implement S3TC texture compression/decompression. But this is a rather sticky situation.

    • Catalyst vs. Mesa Performance With Ubuntu 10.04

      Over the past two weeks, we have published a variety of articles looking at different aspects of the open-source Linux graphics stack. These articles range from comparing the Gallium3D and classic Mesa performance to comparing the kernel mode-setting and user-space mode-setting performance. Today we are continuing with this interesting Linux graphics coverage by publishing benchmarks comparing the performance of the Radeon Mesa DRI graphics driver to AMD’s Catalyst 10.4 proprietary driver. Is the open-source driver finally catching up to AMD’s highly optimized driver? Continue reading to find out.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • Clementine-player – A cross-platform music player based on Amarok 1.4

      Clementine is a modern music player and library organiser. Clementine is a port of Amarok 1.4, with some features rewritten to take advantage of Qt4.

    • Pretty penguin: five great themes for the GNOME desktop

      The GNOME desktop environment and its underlying Gtk+ widget toolkit—which provide a user interface and a standard set of applications for Linux—have an elaborate theme system that enables users to customize the appearance of their desktop.

      GNOME has attracted a vibrant community of open source artists who are collaborating to produce aesthetically sophisticated visual styles for the desktop environment. Many custom GNOME themes are published in online galleries so that they can be downloaded and installed by regular end users. The most popular of these repositories is the GNOME-Look.org Web site, which has become the de facto standard home of downloadable GNOME theming content.

  • Distributions

    • An introduction to Igelle 1.0

      I think that is the audience Igelle is targeting: not the type of people who run Debian, Gentoo and Fedora, but the sort of people who enjoy technology like OS X, iPods and iPads. People who want to find a balance between the simplicity of a dedicated appliance and the power provided by Linux. In short, it looks like Igelle has the potential to make the netbook/tablet/mobile device market a very interesting place in the coming year.

    • Minimalist

      • Minimalist Linux desktops

        Lightweight desktops have a multitude of uses, on netbooks, for mobile devices, for older hardware, for users with limited requirements of their systems, for connecting to applications in the cloud, and for bare knuckled programmers who prefer to work closer to the metal.

      • Greetings from Slitaz 3.0

        It’s been a year since the last “stable” release of Slitaz, and whether or not the yearlong break is part of the development plan, I have been chomping at the bit, waiting for this new version.

        [...]

        If I could build an entire system — and I have tried — I would want it to turn out just like Slitaz. Even my lightest, fastest efforts with outdated software in custom-built configurations can’t stand up to what Slitaz gives you for nothing. It’s fantastic stuff.

    • Ubuntu

      • First look at Ubuntu 10.04 Beta 1 ‘Lucid Lynx’

        There has been quite a bit of controversy of late in the Ubuntu and Linux communities regarding the decision by Canonical to move the buttons within the Window Manager of Ubuntu to the left hand side as opposed to the right. A lot of people are upset that this is actually more of a pain than an advance in usability and want it restored but it looks like we can expect it to stay regardless of the feedback from the community. Canonical seems convinced this is a good change and doesn’t seem eager to listen to their community on this particular topic. We’ll have to see how this affects (or doesn’t) the adoption of 10.04.

        In the interim, the first beta release has been made available and we decided to take it for a test run and see the changes for ourselves. Come along for the ride why don’t you?

      • Quick Review: What You Should Expect For Ubuntu 10.04

        Ubuntu is set to release their next Long Term Support version at the end of April, and we now have a beta version to look at and see what we can expect. There are some pretty big changes coming in Lucid Lynx, many of which are partly or fully implemented in the current beta. There are the surprising changes, the controversial changes, and the just plain cool. Though the full release is still a month away, Ubuntu 10.04 is clearly shaping up to be an impressive release.

        [...]

        While not technically a feature of 10.04 itself, the opening of Ubuntu One Music Store will coincide with Lucid’s release, and support for it is already built in. The simplest way to access it is by opening up Rhythmbox, the default audio player. In the panel on the left, you should see Ubuntu One. Clicking that will let you browse the available music.

      • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 186

        Welcome to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter, Issue #186 for the week March 21st – March 27th, 2010. In this issue we cover: Mark Shuttleworth: Less is more. But still less, Ubuntu Server Survey 2010 released, Ubuntu One Music Store now in public beta, Ubuntu One Blog: Updates to web contacts, Call for LoCo Council Elections, Launchpad read-only 11.00-13.00 UTC March 31st, 2010, Planning For 10.10 – Growing Our Translations Community, Ubuntu participates in Google Summer of Code, Reviewers Team – Where are we, Ubuntu 10.04 LTS – Free Culture Showcase Winners, Full Circle Magazine #35 & Podcast #3, and much, much more!

      • Variants

        • Blankon Linux version 5 Review

          I was just installed a popular distro in Indonesia called Blankon. This distro is based on Ubuntu 9.04. Off course with all features and capabilities of Ubuntu 9.04. Here I want to write my opinion or self review regarding this Blankon Linux.

        • Xubuntu 10.04 Beta 1 remains borderline irrelevant

          Although not many readers of OMG! Ubuntu! use Xubuntu I thought it’d be polite of us to check in with the Xubuntu team and see what was going on in their forthcoming release of Xubuntu 10.04.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Palm Pre Plus and Pixi Plus are officially coming to AT&T

      The Palm Pre Plus and Pixie Plus are coming to AT&T though the timing of the release is up to the carrier to announce at a later date.

    • ARM

      • Netbooks Decline or ARM’s Ascent?

        The Atomic netbooks are still too pricey, heavy and brutal. Many consumers considering buying a netbook may be waiting for the expected flock of new offerings with ARM power, a kind of hardware-vapourware. The netbook will continue to have a growing market, just not with x86.

      • Scaling Arm Chips

        TFA also does hint that with ARM it is conceivable that devices for power users and servers are just around the corner. In the Year of ARM, all things are possible. AMD and Intel are now producing chips with multiple cores each of which is more powerful than necessary. ARM can just walk in and take up slack because there is no way Wintel can offer more than ARM can. We see that in smartbooks now. There are more apps available for ARM on smartbooks than that other OS because developers can move phone apps to ARM on a smartbook very easily. There are tons of phone apps out there.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Learning competence with free and open source software

    This personal change is one of the biggest reasons that I am committed to free software. Using Windows only reinforced my belief in my own incompetence at fixing or improving things. By contrast, free software proved to my that I was capable of far more than I had ever imagined.

  • Tony Wasserman’s thoughts on joining the OSI Board

    As a new member of the Board (as of 1 April), I thought that it would be useful to explain why I wanted to join the OSI Board and what I hope to achieve during my term. As you can see from my bio (on the Board member page), I’ve been involved with software, both proprietary and open source, for my entire career, both in industry and in the research community.

  • Articles of regional Free Software law violate the Italian Constitution

    Can you see now what the real problem is? Especially considering that even recent law proposals at the national level aren’t so robust after all? This sentence may be just the first confirmation that several laws already approved, even with the best intentions, are in fact weak enough to not be enforceable. At this point, I really wonder how many local Free Software laws in other Countries are in the same situation. If you know the answer, please tell me! As far as Italy is concerned, it will be very interesting to hear what the new Piedmont Regional Council, that will be elected on March 29th 2010, will say about this, since there should be in it at least some of the 31 candidates that had officially committed to support Free Software if elected. Even other italian Regions, however, will have to rethink very carefully their Free Software strategies.

  • Oracle

    • Oracle’s OpenSolaris 2010.03 Is M.I.A.

      We’ve known that Oracle is to make some Solaris / OpenSolaris changes, but all signs have been that they would move forward with the OpenSolaris 2010.03 release in March as planned. OpenSolaris 2010.03 will supersede OpenSolaris 2009.06 that was released last June.

  • Openness

    • Base Map 2.0: What Does the Head of the US Census Say to Open Street Map?

      Ian White, the CEO of Urban Mapping, makes his living collecting and selling geo data. For next week’s Where 2.0 has put together a panel of government mapping agencies (the UK’s Ordnance Survey and the US’s Census Department) and community-built mapping projects (Open Street Map and Waze). Crowdsourced projects like Waze and Open Street Map have forced civic agencies to reconsider their licensing. They have similarly encouraged larger companies like Google, NAVTEQ and Tele Atlas to implement their own crowdsourcing platforms (like Google Mapmaker and Tele Atlas’ MapShare). Ian and his panelists will discuss all of this in Base Map 2.0 on Thursday at Where 2.0 – you can consider their conversation as Part 1 of the panel.

    • Open Source Ethics and Dead End Derivatives

      Open Source Hardware is hardware that has an open license. You can copy it, develop it, and even sell it yourself. You must provide attribution to the designer and you must also release the derivative source files under the same license. This applies even if you use a proprietary program for your designs.

    • Search engine collects historical resources

      A search engine is being created to help historians find useful sources.

      The Connected History project will link up currently separate databases of source materials.

      Once complete, it will give academics or members of the public a single site that lets them search all the collections.

  • Programming

    • Review: Geany IDE – Integrated Development Environment for all OS

      Geany is an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that was created to be light-weight and independent as possible. I’ve used Geany for sometime now. I haven’t used it on C or anything like that, but I use it (daily) for xhtml, css, and php. When I learn JavaScript and Python I will be programming those in Geany also.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Document Freedom Day 2010 in The Netherlands

      Document Freedom Day is a global day for document liberation. It will be a day of grassroots effort to educate the public about the importance of Open Document Formats and Open Standards in general. Every year on the last wednesday in March, we celebrate his day. This year in The Netherlands in conferencecentre “Het Brandpunt” in Baarn, the former residence of the Dutch queen, we will have five speakers who will talk about the importance of open documents and open standards for the Dutch government.

Leftovers

  • Ex-IBM exec heads to court in insider trading case

    IBM’s former server chief, Robert Moffat, is heading to court on Monday after he agreed to waive his right to a grand jury in a case related to the Galleon Group insider-training scandal, according to court documents.

    The waiver sets the stage for Moffat to enter a plea in the case relating to his involvement in an insider-trading scheme that netted some stock traders millions of dollars in illicit profits.

  • Nokia Acquires Mobile Browsing Company

    Nokia on Friday said it will acquire Novarra, a privately-held company based in Chicago that specializes in mobile browsing.

  • Geek Gang Signs :)
  • BT hijacks business browsers

    BT is annoying business broadband customers by hijacking their browsers to nag them to download a branded desktop utility.

  • Apple boycotts Fox News because of Glenn Beck

    A two-week old report by the Washington Post is only now gaining traction in the tech section. It appears that Apple has boycotted Fox News based on Glenn Beck and his ludicrous statements, including calling President Obama a racist and branding progressivism a “cancer.”

  • Security

    • Zurich Insurance promises changes after data loss

      Zurich Insurance has promised to improve its information security after losing personal financial information on 46,000 British clients through careless handling of unencrypted backup tapes.

    • Hackers hit where they live

      The countries of hackers originating malware-laced spam runs have been exposed by new research, which confirms they are often located thousands of miles away from the compromised systems they use to send out junk mail.

    • UK government wants to secretly read your postal mail

      As Britain heads for the next general election, the Labour government is rushing through a new surveillance law that gives the customs office the right to open your mail without you present, replacing the old system that only allowed the government to read your mail after notifying you, giving you a chance to appeal, and only then could they open it, with you present.

    • Obama Twitter hacker freed

      INSPECTOR PIERRE KNACKER of le Paris Yard has fingered the collar of the 25 year-old unemployed bloke who hacked into US President Obama’s Twitter account.

    • WikiLeaks to release video of civilians, journalists being murdered in airstrike

      Whistleblower Web site WikiLeaks is planning to release a video that reveals what it’s calling a Pentagon “cover-up” of an incident in which numerous civilians and journalists were murdered in an airstrike, according to a recent media advisory.

    • Government holds too much info on citizens

      The UK Government holds more data on citizens than it needs to, according to members of the Chartered Institute for IT (the British Computer Society).

      Nudging two-thirds (61%) of the 400 IT professional members questioned said the state held more data on citizens than necessary. Only 17% believed that citizen’s rights were adequately protected by the current regulations.

    • Top US domain name registrars lag on DNS security

      The leading domain name registrars in the United States appear to be dragging their feet on the deployment of DNS Security Extensions, an emerging standard that prevents an insidious type of hacking attack where network traffic is redirected from a legitimate Web site to a fake one without the Web site operator or user knowing.

    • The Story behind the Nigerian Phishing Scam

      The campaign to freeze accounts associated with former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha and former Zaire dictator Mobutu Sese Seko led to the birth of Internet scammers, posing as family members with millions of dollars to hide from the authorities.

    • Sneaky Flying Spy Cameras Provoke Civil Liberty Fears

      CIVIL liberties groups have condemned a sinister new plan for Scottish police forces to spy on ordinary citizens using unmanned surveillance drones.

      The Big Brother-style move will mean the public could be monitored constantly, under the pretext of a crime crack-down.

    • Government plans fingerprint passport bill

      The home secretary has revealed plans for primary legislation requiring passport applicants to be fingerprinted and enrolled on the National Identity Register

  • Environment

    • Greenpeace Protests Outside Dell Offices in Europe, India

      Greenpeace held protests outside the offices of Dell in Bangalore, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen on Monday, to demand firmer commitments from the company that it will phase out harmful chemicals from its products by 2011.

      Officials at Greenpeace said that the environmental group planned the action ahead of a meeting on Monday at Dell headquarters in Round Rock, Texas, at which Michael Dell, the company’s CEO, is scheduled to discuss the phasing out of the harmful chemicals.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Researcher: China pays 280K people to boost its Web image

      If you thought corporate “astroturfing” (fake grassroots activity) was a problem at sites like Yelp and Amazon that feature user reviews of products, imagine how much worse it would be if the U.S. government employed a couple hundred thousand people to “shape the debate” among online political forums. Crazy, right? What government would ever attempt it?

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Ottawa joins the war on photography

      I suppose if terrorists were precision bombers who had to place their charges to the millimetre in order to succeed, this would make sense, but given that no one’s ever shown that terrorists attacks involve carefully photographing the attack-site (as opposed to simply walking up to it, finding a likely spot, and blowing up), this is simply a good way of absorbing police/security time that could be spent chasing actual bad guys.

    • How the American phone companies used to feel about privacy

      Back in 2008, Matt Blaze put the push for immunity for telcos that participated in GW Bush’s illegal wiretapping program in context: “As someone who began his professional career in the Bell System (and who stayed around through several of its successors), the push for telco immunity represents an especially bitter disillusionment for me. Say what you will about the old Phone Company, but respect for customer privacy was once a deeply rooted point of pride in the corporate ethos.

    • Wikipedia Founder Praises Google Over China Decision

      A co-founder of popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia praised Google for its decision to stop censoring Internet searches in China and called on other major U.S. companies, including Microsoft and Facebook, to follow.

    • Cecilia Malström filters the net

      It’s been a long time but it seems Commissioner Cecilia Malström is the next person to pick up the poisoned apple of net filtering and apply cynical arguments from the proponents of these measures. Feels like 1996.

  • Lost Battles

    • French pirates ‘dodge’ tough laws

      A small-scale study shows that some French people are changing their habits and getting pirated music and movies from sources not covered by the law.

    • Peers warn of backlash fears over digital radio

      The government could face a public backlash over its plans to switch national radio stations over to digital transmission, peers have warned.

      The Communications Committee of the House of Lords says there is “public confusion and industry uncertainty”.

      It said people were still buying analogue radios which will be out of date in a few years’ time.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • Makers audiobook: direct from the author, no DRM, no EULA

      I get an additional 20 percent on top of my customary royalty if you buy it from me, and you get a book that has no DRM and no crappy “license agreement” requiring you to turn over your firstborn in exchange for the privilege of handing me your hard-earned money.

    • EU Demands Canada Completely Overhaul Its Intellectual Property Laws

      Late last year, a draft of the European Union proposal for the intellectual property chapter of the Canada – EU Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement leaked online. The leak revealed that the EU was seeking some significant changes to Canadian IP laws. Negotiations have continued and I have now received an updated copy of the draft chapter, complete with proposals from both the EU and Canada. The breadth of the demands are stunning – the EU is demanding nothing less than a complete overhaul of Canadian IP laws including copyright, trademark, databases, patent, geographic indications, and even plant variety rights.

    • ACTA/Digital Economy Bill

      • Anti-ACTA poster on 4chan

        If you believed Rupert Murdoch’s droppings and other offerings from the lamescream press corpse, you’d think the net was a minor event, a passing fancy which, while it’s having a certain effect on traditional media, isn’t terribly important in the overall scheme of things.

        The reality is: modern 21st-century communications wielded person-to-person, direct, have already permanently unseated the old-style print and electronic media outlets. Increasingly, ordinary people are talking to each other one-on-one, or group-to-group, via blogs, citizen journalist sites, IM, chat, cellphones and other hand-helds, and so on.

        Rupert, et al, don’t stand a chance.

        [...]

        Bottom line, although ACTA being touted as a trade agreenment, it’s the thin end of a wedge which would ultimately give the cartels what amounts to governmental-type control over what people do and how they do it not only online, but off.

        But for the first time in history, People Power rules. And they know it.

      • Delusional EU ACTA negotiator claims that three strikes has never been proposed at ACTA
      • Secret ACTA fights over iPod border-searches

        The copyright industries wanted border-searches on anything digital you were carrying that could be used to infringe copyright, from your phone to your iPod to the laptop that had your confidential client documents, your personal email, your finances, pictures of your kids in the bath, etc.

      • IFLA Position on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

        IFLA and its members are gravely concerned by the extreme secrecy surrounding the ACTA negotiations and the complete lack of transparency related to ACTA’s procedures, provisions, and priorities, which is unprecedented for a global-norm setting activity among democratic nations. The issues involved have many facets and should be discussed in an open and fair manner at WIPO, the appropriate forum for such topics.

      • UK record lobby has vehement feelings on Digital Economy Bill debate, won’t say what they are

        My latest Guardian column, “Does the BPI want MPs to debate the digital economy bill properly?” addresses the British Phonographic Institute’s weird, vehement silence on Parliament’s debate on its pet legislation, the dread Digital Economy Bill. Vehement silence? Oh yes.

      • Leaked ACTA Text Shows Possible Contradictions With National Laws

        “No changes in domestic” law promised the partners currently negotiating the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. A leaked 56-page recent consolidated version of the much-discussed agreement shows that this might not be completely true. The draft version with a lot of bracketed text shows that some countries are more open about the potential need to change their domestic laws than others.

      • Three core reasons for rejecting ACTA

        These three points have been repeatedly documented in each and every piece of information that has been disclosed, since the beginning of the ACTA process:

        * ACTA is policy laundering1 in which an international negotiation is used to circumvent democratic debates at national or European level and adopt policy that the Parliaments will have no choice but to reject completely or adopt as a whole. Congress might not even be consulted in the case of the United States2.
        * The promoters and drafters of ACTA have created a mixed bag of titles3, types of infringement and enforcement measures, in which life-endangering fake products and organized crime activities are considered together with non-for-profit activities that play a role in access to knowledge, innovation, culture and freedom of expression. ACTA would create a de facto presumption of infringement.
        * In the negotiations, the EU is pushing the worse parts of the former directive proposal on criminal sanctions for IPR enforcement (IPRED 2, withdrawn because of uncertain legal basis), that is criminal sanctions for abetting or inciting to infringement.

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