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Archive for August, 2007

A weekly recap of the big stories concerning Linux and Open Source.

LXer Article

Dear Linux Journal: News Flash- Women Are People: This just keeps getting worse. Please tell me how anyone could think this is a good idea..

Why I refuse to call it GNU/Linux: When listening to others talk about GNU/Linux it always strikes me as odd the argument that is used. That the Linux kernel was made usable by the marriage of the GNU tool set to it so therefor it should be called GNU/Linux as it is a blending of the two and Linux is only the kernel. On the face of it this argument makes sense … if one doesn’t think about it too deeply.

Windows Tech Writers Wrong About Linux: At least we are making some progress in the field of Windows using tech writers speaking with any level of clarity about Linux as a viable alternative. Yet as good as the article linked above is, its writer is wrong with one seriously flawed statement. Vendor support remains far and few between. Some companies like HP and IBM have been great, while many others have lived so far up Microsoft’s backside that they believe that Linux is merely a fad. I would also agree that there is a glass ceiling in place, thanks to a lack of vendor support.

And So it Begins: There are people who are doing their best to come up with ideas for the promotion of FOSS. I have come up with an idea, and plan on putting it in action tomorrow. I have a simple question: Will you join me?

“Linux more secure than Windows”, Microsoft vulnerability report suggests: A Microsoft vulnerability report suggests that Microsoft wasn’t able to fix more Windows flaws than the number of open software flaws fixed by the major open source companies . Red Hat, having forty times less employees than Microsoft, did the best job, by fixing and closing the most security bugs, also closing even minor bugs – where Microsoft didn’t even fix one minor bug in the same period. Even Apple did a better job than Microsoft by fixing lots of flaws in Mac OS X. It should also be noted, the fixed open source flaws were in the ‘base system’, while the fixed Windows flaws also concerned a lot of Internet Explorer, Media Player and similar stuff.

Why people don’t switch operating systems: The topic of Linux on the desktop is one that raises its head every couple of days somewhere on the web – and here it is again. I was a bit amazed last week to note that someone who wrote that the continued piracy of Windows was affecting the spread of Linux on the desktop was described as raising an “unusual” argument. It has been known for at least the last 10 years that Gates & Co have a public stance on piracy – which is: “shoot the buggers down” – and a private stance – which is, “it’s helps to spread usage of Windows, do nothing.”

Linux at the workplace: What users think: Several colleagues of mine now also use Linux as their primary work desktop. In fact, we now have about a 50/50 split between (K)Ubuntu and XP users in our office. I wanted to get their views on why they use Linux and if they are happy with it. Hopefully the answers will be useful to others considering Linux. I asked everyone the same set of questions. So without further ado, here are their thoughts.

2007 Desktop Linux Survey results revealed: According to DesktopLinux.com’s just completed survey, the number of Desktop Linux users has more than doubled in the past year, and Ubuntu remains their Linux distribution of choice. Since DesktopLinux.com’s recently completed survey is a self-selected group, we can’t claim scientific proof that the number of desktop Linux users has more than doubled in the past year. Still, this year’s survey produced 38,500 votes versus 14,535 votes over the same number of days in a similar survey one year ago.

Two months with Ubuntu Linux and loving it: In late June of this year, I made a type of executive decision. I have been a software developer by trade throughout my entire professional career. I began programming commercially in 1987 and have followed the progression from MS-DOS 3.31 through 6.22, then Windows 3.x, 95 and up. I’ve moved from the library of custom-developed tools in C and assembly during my MS-DOS days to the GUI + libraries present in Windows OSes. Still, even today, I continue to code for Windows even though I am migrating much of that knowledge to the Linux side after having such a successful run with Ubuntu.

Review: Xubuntu 7.04 revisited: Ubuntu and its sister Linux distributions — including Xubuntu, Kubuntu and Edbuntu — finds themselves in an enviable yet thankless position in the Linux universe. That the ‘Buntus are the most popular choice among Linux users is without question. Ubuntu is nearly always at the top of Distrowatch.com’s popularity list, its forums are busy — make that very busy — and also very friendly. New users are welcomed, their hands are held, and command-line fixes are offered along with gentle encourgement.

Microsoft’s Open Source Trashware: Opinion: I recently took a look at Microsoft’s most active open-source projects and—there’s no polite way to say this—they are all junk. OK Microsoft, you want to be taken seriously by open source? I know that’s a rhetorical question, I don’t believe for one moment that you’re ready to really embrace open source. You just want to be able to confuse the market by being able to say that you’re “open source friendly.” What a crock. Microsoft is open-source friendly in the same way that a butcher is friendly to a cow.

Time to Write About Something Besides Redmond: I plead guilty to past transgressions. So, call me a hypocrite if you will. I don’t care anymore. I refuse to get stuck in the past because the present and the near future is fun.Indulge if you will in recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images experienced as intrusive and distressing. The obsession with Microsoft in Open Software communities is excessive and unreasonable and a product of the mind. My only hope is that such thoughts, impulses, and, or images can be expunged by logic or reasoning, which is contrary to the notions in the psychiatric community.

Why proprietary code is bad for security: Jabari Zakiya wrote an article headlined “Beware of Skype” in the Free Software Magazine. He suspects that the recent outage of the Skype network had to do with the US of A’s revised Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), something which is planned (and soon done) here in Germany as well: the spying of the state onto its local citizens.

Windows has ‘fewer flaws’ than Linux: In our FUD article of the week we have a vulnerability report maintained by Jeff Jones, strategy director at Microsoft’s Security Technology Unit, claimed that the firm’s Windows XP, Vista and Server operating systems required patches for some 20-45 vulnerabilities each. During the same period, vendors such as Red Hat, Apple and Novell have had to patch hundreds of vulnerabilities, according to Microsoft. Jones released a similar report in June chronicling vulnerabilities reported in major operating systems during the first 90 days after release.

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LXer Article

Another big week in Open Source news including, 50 reasons to dump Windows, MySQL defends paid tarball decision, Part 3 of Carla Schroder’s “Adventures in Digital Photography With Linux”, Debian turns 14, The LXer Interview: Bob Sutor of IBM and Rob Enderle can’t decide where Open Source is headed in the LXer Weekly Roundup.

“Every second apprentice fails on using computers”: A study from TNS Infratest, paid by German Microsoft CEO Achim Berg and published in the German BILD am Sonntag found that although most of the 500,000 learners of “The Google Generation” can play and surf with computers, they don’t know how to use “important business software” like Microsoft’s Word.

Envy – ATI and NVIDIA drivers installation made easy: “Envy” is an application for Ubuntu Linux and Debian written in Python and PyGTK which can detect your graphics hardware, download the appropriate drivers from the official websites, download all their dependencies and finally build, install and configure the driver for you.

Tutorial: More Than HPLIP Service for Linux: HP’s Linux Imaging and Printing subsystem brings parity to the penguin where previous printer purveyors have punted. Hewlett-Packard has the most extensive line of well-supported Linux printers, scanners, and multi-function devices of any printer manufacturer. It even make it easy to find them (unlike the others).

Torvalds attacks Microsoft over open source: In desperate need of getting his article attention, the author decides to give a controversial title to an otherwise uneventful article.

50 reasons to dump Windows: The author writes, “I wanted to write 5 reasons to dump windows over linux, but soon I was so overwhelmed by rush of reasons that I could find, that I ended up making a list of 50 reasons. So here it goes…”

Runes of Avalon – an enjoyable game for Linux: This game is the brain child of Roman Budzowski the founder of Anawiki Games – a professional game developing firm based in Poland. “Runes of Avalon” game has been released for the Linux platform apart from that for Windows and MacOSX.

Adventures in Digital Photography With Linux, part 3: Printing: Our own Carla Schroder presents part 3 of her continuing series, “Adventures in Digital Photography With Linux”

MySQL defends paid tarball decision: MySQL has defended a decision to end free community access to the latest source code for its popular database in an attempt to snag paying customers. Chief executive Marten Mickos said MySQL remains in full compliance with the principles of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), adding the company’s decision will help build a “well-funded business model” capable of producing yet more GPL software.

To Groklaw’s ‘Pamela Jones’: Get Your Facts Straight: Paul McDougall writes, “A misleading article appeared Monday on an anti-SCO Web site called Groklaw run by a blogger who calls him or herself ‘Pamela Jones.’ Jones tried to pick apart a story I wrote about SCO v. Novell. I need to set the record straight because virtually everything ‘PJ’ said about my article is wrong. ‘PJ’, or whatever this person’s real name is, claimed that a number of specific points I made in the 565-word story were inaccurate, and spent more than 3,000 words trying to prove it. But ‘PJ’ is wrong on every count except for one, minor numerical detail that I’ll get to later.”

Microsoft and Xandros Expand Collaboration: Microsoft and Xandros announced a messaging protocol license and collaboration agreement that will enhance the interoperability of Scalix email servers with various mobile and personal computer-based email applications that utilize Microsoft email protocols. This agreement expands on the ongoing Microsoft-Xandros collaboration.

Buying an HP Pavilion laptop for GNU/Linux: Bruce Byfield begins his article, “A corporation is not the person the legal fiction makes it so much as a collection of different interests. I was reminded of this fact a couple of weeks ago when I went shopping for a laptop. Remembering that Hewlett-Packard almost singlehandedly solved the basic problem of laser printer support for GNU/Linux, I ended up buying one of the company’s laptops.”

Debian turns 14 today!: Debian, one of my long time favorite Linux distributions turned 14 today. Without the Debian project there would be no Ubuntu. Debian was begun in August 1993 by Ian Murdock, as a new distribution which would be made openly, in the spirit of Linux and GNU. Debian is pronounced /ˈde.bi.ən/. It comes from the names of the creator of Debian, Ian Murdock, and his wife, Debra. Happy 14th birthday Debian!

What *NIX has wrong for the desktop: Top 12: The good part of *NIX-like systems is that some basic concepts are extremely well designed, starting with the filesystem philosophy and the security metaphor. Therefore, using Linux or BSD on your home desktop or on your laptop instead of Windows is not only a question of ideology or price — it’s a matter of good taste. There are however a few places where something is under-optimal, not because GNU/Linux or *BSD are following “ancient *NIX principles”, but simply because *NIX operating systems were designed in the times of the mainframes and minicomputers, where everything was a server, and usability issues like those raised by nowadays desktop/laptop computers were not considered.

Linux Journal: the Last Idiot’s Club: Once again, Linux Journal leads the way in idiotic, pointless misogyny. And they wonder why they have no women subscribers.

The LXer Interview: Bob Sutor of IBM: An interview with IBM’s Vice President of Open Source and Standards about their Open Source Strategy, the recent pledge of its patents for more than 150 open software standards, his take on the ODF vs. XML issue, and much more in The LXer Interview of Bob Sutor.

Windows Is Free: Since Linux, Windows and Mac are effectively equal, why doesn’t the “Free as in Beer” of Linux trump the $200 price tag of Windows like a free offer does in every other marketing situation? Because Windows Is Free. The impact of pirated software on free software, by Dave Gutteridge on August 15, 2007, is an excellent exploration of the marketing effects of pervasive software piracy.

Why ‘Windows Is Free’ doesn’t cut it for me: One of the great, liberating things that comes with using GNU/Linux and other free, open-source software is the moral high ground. I don’t think what Microsoft is doing is right — abandoning old products so we’ll all buy new ones every other year or so. Most respond by using pirated software, but it’s better to reject the Microsoft model outright and use free, open-source applications as much as you can.

Is it time to exit from Windows?: The offer of pre-installed Linux by mainstream PC makers doesn’t mean the open-source operating system is poised to sweep aside Microsoft’s; but while its cost advantages may never be compelling, finance departments must prepare to consider the merits of switching their own operations to Linux – and to hear a stronger case for its company-wide adoption.

“You Know Linux? Marry Me!” Doesn’t Fly: The author writes, “Three times so far, I’ve had that aimed at me. There was also the time when a man much more than twice my age asked me to dinner after a brief computer-related conversation in a book store (note that I was jailbait). It gets old, and it gets old fast. I’ve heard from plenty of women before about the annoyances of men at tech events who think it appropriate to have a come on be the first (or one of the first) things they say to any lady there. So, this is for all the obnoxious straight men (and lesbians too, I suppose) at tech events: STOP IT! We don’t come to these things to be hit on, I swear.”

SCO: What Difference Did It Make?: In our FUD article of the week, Rob Enderle once again steps up to the plate to provide yet another article in which he vacillates on just which direction Open Source is headed.

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LXer Article

An interview with IBM’s Vice President of Open Source and Standards about their Open Source Strategy, the recent pledge of its patents for more than 150 open software standards, his take on the ODF vs. XML issue, and much more in The LXer Interview of Bob Sutor.

The Interview

Could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself, when your interest in computers and software started?

I started using computers when I was 15 years old, back around 1973. Our school had a time-sharing system and I learned to program using BASIC and, later, APL. The main project I can remember from that time was software that I wrote in APL to format articles for the school newspaper, so my interest in electronic documents started pretty early. In college I was a math major, though I dabbled in computer science a bit. I was originally pre-med, but switched to math because it was more axiomatic and I probably wouldn’t inadvertently hurt anyone.

How did you come to be at IBM?

After my sophomore year at Harvard, I got a summer job at IBM in White Plains, NY. It was in the part of IBM that optimized how we ordered telecommunications lines and services from AT&T. After the breakup of AT&T,
there were many more companies and offerings to deal with, but it just became a larger optimization problem that we solved. After a while, I had a standing offer to work for IBM whenever I had a week or two free, so it was a great way to earn money in college and grad school. After Harvard, I went on to Princeton for graduate school in mathematics, specifically algebraic geometry.

After a couple of years I decided to take a leave of absence because I was starting to think more about computer science than theoretical math, but also because I was getting married and my soon-to-be-wife was starting grad school several hundred miles away. So I went back to IBM full-time, moved to the Mathematical Sciences Department in IBM Research after a year, and then went back to Princeton between 1988 and 1991 to finish my doctorate in math, which I received in 1992. That all took place while I was still an IBM employee and under IBM sponsorship, so I returned to IBM Research after my studies.

What is your current position and what are your responsibilities?

I’m the corporate VP for open source and standards. That means that when there are issues that span multiple business units in either of those areas, my team or I will usually be involved. Internally this might mean intellectual property agreements or cross-unit business strategy. Externally, it often means speaking with customers, governments, and others about the changing IT environment and how “open” is making it better.

What was it that made IBM embrace Linux while so many other large computer companies shunned it?

There were several factors. IBM is a large computer company and so you can look at any strategy through a software, hardware, or services lens. On a really good day you can even look through all three! All by itself, IBM
has multiple hardware lines and having a single operating system that spans all of them makes certain things easier. Any given customer problem can be solved and the solution optimized by choosing the right hardware, the right OS, the right middleware, the right applications, and the right services to tie them all together, if necessary. Linux increases the options that our customers and we have, not decreases them. Note that this “one thing that spans several platforms” strategy is used in various ways by IBM such as with Eclipse, Java, XML, ODF, web services, and SOA. It helps make interoperability a tool rather than a marketing buzzword.

Can you give me an idea of what embracing Linux has done for IBM? What has changed, what has stayed the same?

It taught us how to better collaborate with others who don’t work for IBM; it demonstrated that business models can evolve; it showed us that a good intellectual property strategy balances both “open” and “closed”; and it taught us that software that grew up in a non-corporate setting can be excellent, wildly successful, and meet customer needs. Linux, along with other open source software and open standards, showed us that being
flexible in our thinking and business models is lower risk than adamantly clinging to past practices that might have worked once but now aren’t solely what customers really need.

The recent news that IBM has pledged its patents for more than 150 open software standards certainly is welcomed by the Open Source community. IBM also donated over 500 patents to the open source community a while back if I am not mistaken. IBM has far and away the largest patent portfolio of any technology company, SO what is keeping IBM from donating more patents to Open Source?

We pledged that any of our patents that were necessary to implement these core SOA/Web 2.0 infrastructure standards would be available for use without royalty and without a need to check in with IBM. This assumes, however, that you behave yourself and not go around suing people over the use of your necessary technology to implement these standards.

The other announcement to which you are referring is from January 2005, where we pledged 500 patents for use in open source. The latest pledge for standards applies to both open and closed source. We continue to look for new ways to use IP to advance the software industry. We’re also looking, frankly, at what others are doing and, sometimes, not doing. We welcome others in the industry to follow our example and do similar pledges for the 150+ software standards.

The adopting the ODF format as an Open Document Standard and Microsoft’s attempt to get their own XML format accepted as such is an ongoing issue. What is your take on the situation and is there anything that can be done to make people see that XML is really not Open?

Because of the ISO process, this issue is being discussed around the world right now. There is a lot of good material out there about why Open XML, or OOXML, should not be an international standard. Whatever happens with OOXML, I think many important issues have been raised and understood. I think we have collectively educated and permanently changed the policies of procurement people in many organizations around the world.

I think that the commotion around OOXML and ISO will lead to significant reforms in national standards bodies as well as in the international standards organizations. The goal is high quality standards, not just many standards. The goal is interoperability, not preservation of marketshare, though if that comes through the development and use of true non-dictated, open standards, so be it.

Why doesn’t IBM use their advertising muscle to counteract the Microsoft FUD?

There has been a tremendous amount of broad community rebuttal of nonsensical information that is self-serving and anti-open source and anti-open standards. We contribute where necessary in various ways as we speak with customers, analysts, and anyone else appropriate.

What do you see for the future of IBM’s involvement with Linux?

More and better!

Follow up

If it seems like IBM has been around since the beginning, its because they have. IBM has seen its share of ups and downs but they have learned to roll with the punches in the technology business as they have happened, and how to take advantage of it. To do otherwise would have spelled their demise long ago. Their contributions to and support of Free and Open Source Software and the Open Source community have helped to make it what it is today. Whether we know it or not.

Open Standards of communication, Open Software and the collaborative nature of its evolution are still new ideas for most individuals and businesses alike. It is a great irony of our existence that we are so very resistant to and at the same time always in the midst of evolving, changing and growing. Almost like a piece of Open Source Software wouldn’t you say? Linux and Open Source Software have been facing an uphill battle since their inception. But with a company like IBM “in our corner” so to speak, I think our chances are pretty good.

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LXer Article

Some of the big stories this week are the ruling by the Judge in in the SCO case that Novell actually owns UNIX still, Linspire CEO Kevin Carmony resigns, why Microsoft might want to help get rid of patents, Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian explains his company’s deal with Microsoft in his keynote address at LinuxWorld, Vista is helping Linux uptake and the author of one of our FUD articles uses his own recipe to cook up some good non-facts.

Linspire CEO Kevin Carmony resigns: In an interview today with Linux-Watch, controversial Linux leader Kevin Carmony confirmed rumors that he had resigned as CEO of desktop Linux vendor Linspire on July 31. Carmony said he plans to work on several of his own business projects, and on Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

Ten Reasons To Dump Windows [III]: Two previous articles (part I, part II) stirred up quite a controversy and a variety of opinions. With this article I’m hoping for calmer and more meritorious responses. In the last article of this series we will touch on the aspects of work and usefulness of the console, remote access, logic behind the OS, pricing, and TCO.

Why Microsoft Is Going Open Source: Glyn Moody writes, “No one would have believed me if I had said five years ago that Microsoft would have a page on its Web site called “Open Source at Microsoft” with the following remarkably sane and reasonable statement on the subject:”

“Selling” Linux – We’ve Been Doing it All Wrong: They’ve been in chains so long that they don’t have the frame of reference to guide them into knowing the difference. Oh sure, some do…you are one of them. Chances are, you migrated away from Microsoft Windows into Linux as a full-time deal and haven’t looked back. You “get it”. They don’t, but it’s easy enough to get your point across quickly….some of us will get a perverse pleasure from this.

Tutorial: Custom Linux Kernels Trim Fat and Tune Performance: In this tutorial by Carla Schroder she writes, “Your Linux distribution probably arrived with a “kitchen sink” kernel. It doesn’t take much to build a better one that’s tuned to your hardware’s needs.”

Merging “Open Source” and “Free Software”: Due to the increased diffusion of “Open Source” as a term this article suggests its gradual phase out in favor of the original “Free Software” term and renaming of the Open Source Initiative into “Free Software Business Initiative”.

Waiting for the storm: In an article by our own wjl he states, “Have you also experienced an ever-growing number of those ‘greeting card’ messages and emails? You’d better not open them, especially if you run that old-fashioned proprietary (read: business) operating system from Redmond, also known as ‘Vista’, or any of its predecessors.”

Linux as a Tool for Windows Hardware Errors: In this article, Rais offers insights why Windows hardware failures may be causing some to update or replace devices that are still operational. Instead, he shows how powerful a tool Linux can be in tracking down hardware problems and validating some inherent issues with Windows device support.

Novell-Microsoft Deal Necessary, CEO Says: Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian explained rather than defended his company’s deal with Microsoft in his keynote address at the annual LinuxWorld Conference here Aug. 8. “I know our deal with Microsoft is controversial, but it is necessary for our customers who have to deal with both Linux and Windows in their data centers. Virtualization is also going to have to deal with both of those operating systems,” he told attendees.

Vista Aiding Linux Desktop, Strategist Says: Windows Vista has probably created the single biggest opportunity for the Linux desktop to take market share, Cole Crawford, an IT strategist at Dell, said in an address titled, “The Linux Desktop—Fact, FUD or Fantasy?” at the annual LinuxWorld Conference & Expo here. For example, a number of companies have moved back to Windows XP after deploying Vista, Crawford said, before quoting Scott Granneman, an author, entrepreneur and adjunct professor at Washington University in St. Louis, as saying, “To mess up a Linux box, you need to work at it; to mess up your Windows box, you just have to work on it.”

Virtualize Windows on Linux? Microsoft Says Servers First: Microsoft’s Sam Ramji slammed the door on virtualizing Microsoft’s newest desktop operating systems (XP and Vista) on Linux yesterday. In a speech at LinuxWorld, the director of Microsoft’s open-source software lab claimed that “we haven’t seen significant demand for Linux applications on the desktop or for desktop virtualization on top of Linux.”

The Microsoft / Novell / FSF / GPLv3 tale about the bridge between the meadows: Our Senior European Editor tells a tale to try and explain just what is going on between the major players in FOSS and Microsoft.

Judge rules Novell still owns the Unix copyrights in SCO Case: Groklaw is reporting that Judge Kimball in the SCO v. Novell case has decided some of the Summary Judgements. Novell Still owns the copyrights to Unix.

In our FUD section this week we have three articles that I list in order of magnitude of FUDness. FUDness? If only my High School Senior English teacher could see me now…

Shuttleworth: Microsoft Fracturing the Open-Source Community: In this article we have Mark Shuttleworth at once decrying Microsoft for not disclosing the 235 patents it says are being violated and then saying that he would be willing to work with them outside of any kind of licensing deal. Hmm, do you smell what I smell?

Office Formats Fail to Communicate: Another in a long line of article designed to keep those who would consider an Open Source solution, from trying. Just because Microsoft is going out of its way to ensure that any translators do not work is not a good reason to willingly add proprietary extensions to ODF.

Both sides play dirty! Typical Linux FUD Campaign towards Microsoft.: In this article the Author uses a variation of his own recipe to spread some FUD of his own.

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LXer Article

Some of the big news this week includes Mepis going back to Debian, Linus speaks out on the desktop, Microsoft finally got the result they wanted in Mass, An LXer settles the Mandriva – PCLinuxOS debate, some KDE 4.0 screenshots and Matt Hartley goes two for two in the FUD section of the LXer Weekly Roundup.

How Microsoft bought China: Some people seem to have a short circuit in their minds when they try to explain why Windows has such an enormous desktop market share. Some of them have the delusion that Windows is technically better than the competition. It never was. It isn’t now. And, considering how Vista is staggering along, it never will be.

Uh Oh. Another Smooth Move from Microsoft: Watch out, Ruby. Watch out OSI.: Pamela Jones writes, “I guess you saw the news about Microsoft submitting some licenses to OSI hoping for approval as “open source” licenses. You can watch Bill Hilf of Microsoft giving his talk at OSCON, which is where the stories emanated from.”

MEPIS to switch from Ubuntu to Debian: SJVN tells us, “SimplyMEPIS, a very popular desktop Linux, is going to change back to using Debian Linux for its core from Ubuntu. In March of 2006, MEPIS founder Warren Woodford, decided to switch to Ubuntu from Debian for the next version of SimplyMEPIS, version 6. Things have changed….”

Torvalds rebukes desktop critics: Linus Torvalds, creator and maintainer of the Linux operating system kernel, has reacted angrily to suggestions that the kernel’s development process is skewed in a way that prevents improvements on the desktop. Torvalds was responding to criticism by programmer Con Kolivas, who had developed a patch designed to improve the performance of specific Linux desktop features.

Laying to Rest the Mandriva/PCLinuxOS Debate: In an article by one of our own readers, ‘devnet’ begins, “The one thing about FOSS that I love is that you can take whatever you need from various sources and build what you opine is a better wheel. Take Ubuntu for instance…they took Debian and made it into something that many users are happy with. Is this wrong? Not at all. Each day, many non-commercial distro makes wake up and check various distributions for updated security fixes. They pull source rpms, updated tar.gz’s, and debs into their distro, make minor adjustments, and drop it into their repository. Distros share with one another…they take and hopefully give back. If not monetarily, at least by the number of users that they have that may report bugs or provide fixes.

Windows vs. Linux vs. OS X: CIO John Halamka Tests Ubuntu: Last summer, CareGroup CIO John Halamka began looking for a viable alternative to the Microsoft Windows desktop operating system. After 16 years using Windows, he had enough of its instability and the countless updates that automatically installed themselves on his computer—often at inopportune times, like when he was in the middle of a presentation. As CIO of a health-care organization and affiliated medical school with 40,000 employees and 9 million patient records, Halamka has to be sure that the computers in the hospital, its administrative offices and medical school are secure, stable and easy to use.

Massachusetts Falls to OOXML as ITD Punts: Andy Upgrove reports, “In a not anticipated move, Massachusetts announced today that Microsoft’s OOXML formats have made the grade. The announcement was made even as it appears more questionable whether the National Body members of ISO/IEC JTC1 will conclude that the formats are good enough to be granted global standards status, and despite the fact that the ITD receive comments from 460 individuals and organizations during the brief comment period announced on July 5 – most of them relating to the inclusion of OOXML.”

From Fedora, through Ubuntu and Slackware, getting close to ZenWalk: In the “if it ain’t broke, then why the hell are you fixing it?” department, maybe I should refocus my energies on Debian and not worry so much about Fedora/Red Hat. … At the risk of repeating myself, after hearing so many horror stories about how hard it is to install and maintain Debian, I’ve found it to be extremely easy and trouble-free. It’s no harder than Ubuntu, although there’s a simplicity to a standard Ubuntu install that isn’t there with Debian, meaning there is less stuff installed with Ubuntu, more with Debian.

KDE 4.0 Beta 1 Screenshots: The KDE Community is happy to announce the immediate availability of the first Beta release for KDE 4.0. This release marks the beginning of the integration process which will bring the powerful new technologies included in the now frozen KDE 4 libraries to the applications.

MEPIS begins return to Debian Linux with alpha release: As expected, Warren Woodford of MEPIS Linux has announced that the next version of SimplyMEPIS 6.9.51 will be based on Debian Linux instead of Ubuntu. As Woodford explained recently, he is switching MEPIS from using Ubuntu to using Debian as its base operating system because Ubuntu’s “Dapper was not updated in the way our users expected. … The fact is Dapper was updated with security fixes, but not with new versions of the applications.”

SimplyMEPIS 6.9.51 Pre-Beta Screenshots: MEPIS has been making news this week with the return to Debian as the base for its upcoming SimplyMEPIS 7 release. Debian was the MEPIS base prior to their short-lived relationship with Ubuntu on the bottom. Continuing with the news, yesterday afternoon was the first development release to reincorporate the Debian Stable OS core was SimplyMEPIS 6.9.51prebeta. This pre-beta release includes the Linux 2.6.22 kernel, Debian Etch core, KDE 3.5.7, Firefox 2.0.0.5, and OpenOffice.org 2.2.1.

The Cradle of Independence Rolls Over for Microsoft: Michael J. Jordan writes, “John Adams, Samuel Adams, Paul Revere and John Hancock – all Massachusetts men who fought against tyranny. What do our political leaders in the Bay State do today? If they lived in 1776, we’d still be British colonies.”

Hackers find serious problems in California voting machines: A new California study has found that several electronic voting machines have serious security vulnerabilities. California Secretary of State Debra Bowen commissioned the study which pitted two hacker teams, better known as “Red Teams” against voting machines manufactured by Diebold, Hart and Sequoia. The hackers found several security problems and were able to change firmware, access the election database and even open up the machines without detection.

Blackhat Training instructor denied entry into US: Halvar Flake was scheduled to teach a class on computer security entitled Analyzing Software for Security Vulnerabilities today and tomorrow at Blackhat Training in Las Vegas. Instead, US customs officials cross-examined him for nearly five hours, then decided not to allow him into the country and put him on a plane back to Germany.

What’s Wrong With Dell Selling Linux PCs: Ahh yes, Dell is selling computers with Ubuntu on them. There has to be a way to make this sound bad, and Matt seems to be up to the task once again.

Linux Has Just Vanished Forever: I will admit that this isn’t exactly FUD in the traditional sense, but just what exactly is the point of this article? Talk about not being able to think of anything to write about..”I’ve got an idea, what if Linux didn’t exist?” Yikes!

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