Archive for September, 2007

LXer Article

Big stories this week include the “Give one, get one” OLPC promotion, an LXer Feature by Paul Ferris entitled, Linux Education in America: Inspiration from Russia?, The 7 Most Influential GNU/Linux Distributions, The Top 21 Linux Games Of 2007, GPLv2 and GPLv3 for beginners, Slackware: the classic distro and an article you shouldn’t read.

Linux and its identity crisis: If you’ve been following the current rift in the Linux community between Linus Torvalds and his minions squaring off against Con Kolivas and the mainstream Linux fanatics, you probably know that it’s getting quite heated.

Negroponte to announce “Give one, get one” OLPC promotion: Nicholas Negroponte, the visionary behind the One Laptop Per Child initiative (OLPC), has publicly expressed his disappointment at the lack of orders for his low-cost computer for poor children. The situation has become so dire that Negroponte will announce a “Give one, get one” promotion in the US and Canada. While production of the XO-1 is due to start next month, Negroponte had previously said that he needed 3 million orders to start production.

Linux Education in America: Inspiration from Russia?: In his most recent Feature our own Paul Ferris writes, “The reason that the Russian announcement is funny boils down to the perception over the years that Russia equates to totalitarianism, whilst here in America we’re all about Freedom and innovation. Yet our educational system — the very underpinnings of how we’re growing out future technological talent, is based upon the inversion of what one would expect given the respective reputations of both countries.”

Review: Ubuntu Popularity: Blessing or Curse?: For an increasing number of people, Ubuntuis GNU/Linux. Yet, looking at the pre-releases of Gutsy Gibbon, Ubuntu 7.10, I found myself becoming disturbed by the degree to which this popularity has translated into uncritical acceptance.

The 7 Most Influential GNU/Linux Distributions: GNU/Linux offers a bewildering variety of flavors — or distributions, as they’re called. To a newcomer’s eye, many of these seem virtually identical to each other. Yet, the more you learn about a distribution and the community that surrounds it, the more different they become.

Microsoft won’t commit to the open document standard it’s pushing so hard: Consider this from Brian Jones, a Microsoft manager who has worked on OOXML for six years. In July, Jones was asked on his blog whether Microsoft would actually commit to conform to an officially standardised OOXML. His response: “It’s hard for Microsoft to commit to what comes out of Ecma [the European standards group that has already OK’d OOXML] in the coming years, because we don’t know what direction they will take the formats.” Now that’s cynical.

Revised WinXP policy dooms Linux desktop prospects without real OEM marketing efforts: Microsoft continues to virtually own the desktop operating system and Office suite desktop market. Still, its recent market behavior signals that it is not taking any chances when it comes to Linux, or any other threat, on its prized desktop. Microsoft’s revised Windows XP downgrade rights policy that quietly went into effect this summer, for example, is designed to kill two birds with one stone: jumpstart PC sales and prevent Linux desktop vendors from exploiting its Vista headaches.

How to Quit Windows and cope with Windows Withdrawal Syndrome: Windows Addiction is an unperceived phenomenon which has gotten a hold of us, and we get upset when we don’t do Windows anymore. But what is the Windows Addiction? I think there is no proper working definition for it as yet but I feel it is an obsessive compulsive use of the Windows Operating System despite the fact the we don’t want to use it anymore and we feel miserable using it but we can’t stop using it due to various fears, false beliefs and myths. Now what is so bad about Microsoft Windows and if one is hooked on using them in an obsessively compulsive manor?

Top 21 Linux Games Of 2007: Below are addictive 3d games for linux users to fill their time with. These games are really good and some have won awards or have been featured on magazines. Most of it is cross platform and free. You don’t have to use ‘Wine’ to be able to play as they come with Linux installers.

Ubuntu Disappoints, Breaks Promises With Rapid Growth: It’s been a wild ride, but I have definitely not regretted my choice to make Ubuntu a major part of my life. As a full-time user, I have been charged by Windows and Linux user alike for not following their own lemming-like mindsets.

How worried should Microsoft be about open source?: Very worried. It may well be true, as Paula details today, that desktop Linux is going nowhere fast in the U.S. Microsoft’s willingness to let users back-off upgrades and stick with XP may have stopped the potential rot in its market share. But it is taking enormous effort for Microsoft to hold its server market share against Linux’ inroads in the enterprise. Another important point. The U.S. is not the world, and Microsoft sells more than just Windows.

Linux to Finally Kill Windows in Europe?: In the future, Linux might very well have a fighting chance on European soil, against Windows. Following Microsoft’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Brad Smith did not rush to anticipate a worry free outcome for the Redmond company over the pond. Although the dismissal of the company’s appeal by the Court of First Instance of Luxembourg, was a clear indication of the full support of both the European Commission’s 2004 antitrust ruling against Microsoft, and of the €497 million financial penalty, Smith argued that additional third-party claims could follow.

Don’t read this: Hans ‘The Beez’ Bezemer, a fellow sysadmin and consultant from the Netherlands, came up with a great story. He asked himself why watching Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ on DVD has to burn additional CPU cycles for decrypting, when the topic and author of what he’s watching are all against wasting energy. And he discovered that the crypto chain of HD-DVD has already been broken!

VoIPowering Your Office: Skype Worm—Trouble in VoIPland: In this article by our own Carla Schroder, she writes, “… the best encryption protocols in the world are helpless against an infected PC. They don’t foil keystroke loggers, and they don’t stop the busy little worms that roam unimpeded through the guts of an operating system, doing whatever they want. If you really, really want to use secure computer systems, use Mac OS X, Linux, PC-BSD, or FreeBSD. These are far more secure, and more secure-able. Rather than following the Windows model of trying to sail a sieve, these are stout, reliable operating systems that do not roll out the red carpet to malware.”

Slackware: the classic distro that’s as timely as ever.: An article submitted to LXer by Gary Maxwell he talks about one of the legends of Linux, “In a way, Slackware needs no defense. Those that use the distro know of its merits and enjoy its stability, security, simplicity and speed. However, with the growing popularity of newer distros like Ubuntu, more and more articles seem to relegate Slackware to the dust bin of history, or they say it’s a hobbyist’s distro, or they make snide comments like “1995 called and they want their distro back.” As of late, these comments seem to proliferate at about the same rate as the Ubuntu articles.”

Linux distro for women? Thanks, but no thanks: The idea is floating around again: Let’s make a special Linux distribution for women! We’re smarter than that, aren’t we? I say, let’s spare ourselves and the world yet another pointless and less-than-useful version of Linux.

GPLv2 and GPLv3 for beginners: Do you find open source licenses a puzzle? Does reading stories about the legal side of open source give you the heebie-jeebies? If so, then we have the document for you. A couple of years ago, I was bemoaning the fact that I’d gone from writing about technology to the law. Lord knows I hadn’t planned on it. I’d come into technology journalism by being able to translate from techno-babble to English.

Opinion: Night of the Living Vista: Vista has turned into the desktop operating system no one wants, and even Microsoft is beginning to get it. Today, I think of Vista as the zombie operating system. It stumbles around, and from a distance you might think it’s alive, but close up it’s the walking dead.


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LXer Article

Some of the big stories this week include: A non-profit that refurbishes computers with FOSS get hassled by the EPA, Microsoft wants in on the OLPC, SCO blames Linux for having to file for Chapter 11 and IBM joins up with OpenOffice.org and then releases its own free office suite. All this and more in the LXer Weekly Roundup.

Local Recycle & Reuse Hits A Bureaucratic Roadblock: Let’s imagine that you set up a non-profit to recycle electronics and divert computers from going directly into landfills or otherwise being destroyed by a grinder. You look for ways to refurbish these components and possibly recombine them into functional computers that go out to areas and institutions that have difficulty obtaining computers. You might even collect some of the vintage electronics that comes through the door and hang on to this stuff because you think it’s cool and somebody may want it someday.

The Open Source Challenge. How to replace Windows completely with Ubuntu.: We all know how far open source software has progressed, but has it come so far to not only challenge Windows, but replace it? Can you really install Linux and open source software in place of Windows, and want for nothing? In the first of this multi-part series we send in Ashton Mills to take on the challenge of using nothing but Linux and open source software… for absolutely everything. Will he find nirvana in the process, or lose all his hair in frustration? Follow him in and find out.

Windows wants in on the $200 laptop: This laptop was meant for the people who need it the most. Those who are disadvantaged in the technological field could use this laptop as a means to grow and better themselves. I was reminded of a small snippet of information which made me at first chuckle then think. This snippet was that Microsoft was testing the laptop to see if windows would run on it. My first thought was HA! Here is an example where Open Source technology is clearly a better solution than Proprietary. Then a second and darker thought crossed my mind. Why is Microsoft testing the laptop?

Linux Freedom Never Cries: Our own Paul Ferris writes, “I get to use Linux a lot these days. It’s ingrained in my professional and personal life so much that it’s easy to forget just how much territory the Free Software movement has gained. That realization made me aware that possibly we’ve taken a lot for granted.”

Is Linux still too geeky?: The word for today is disappointment. The New York Times says Apple is blowing its desktop opportunity, ignoring the channel, despite its incredible awesomeness. As to Linux, it’s still too geeky. This final verdict, issued by Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal concerning a Dell laptop he reviewed with Ubuntu, has been spreading like wildfire on the Internets, even hitting some political blogs. Trouble is, Mossberg admits in his story that he talked to Canonical’s Mark Shuttleworth who admits the current version of the software is not really aimed at mainstream users. He found it’s not something it admits it’s not, and somehow that’s a headline.

Are You Serious? (Sun Partnering with Microsoft): Last week, we signed a deal with Microsoft. Remain calm. The good news is everyone paid attention. The bad news is it spawned a lot of questions – which I thought I’d answer here. The announcement was this: Microsoft will be supporting Project Virginia, Sun’s soon-to-be-announced hypervisor platform – meaning we can consolidate and manage Windows (alongside Linux and Solaris). Secondly, Sun will support Windows virtualization – allowing Windows to do the same for Solaris. And finally, Sun agreed to package and support (or ‘OEM’) Windows for customers and partners that want to buy direct from Sun.

Motorola leaves Linux users in the lurch with its Linux smartphone: When Motorola released its smartphone running linux, I thought that it was a great match for my requirements. I later found that the synch. options were Microsoft only, so I contacted Motorola…

Libre vs Non-Libre: It All Comes Down To Trust: In the wake of the Windows Update fiasco, LinuxInsider quoted Stephen O’Grady’s explanation of why users trust GNU/Linux more than Windows where the auto-update features are concerned. His explanation is important, as it hits the nail on the head as to why many users are finding it easier to switch over to libre software. It all comes down to trust.

IBM to release free office suite?: Watch out, here comes IBM with its Microsoft Office killer. The company is expected to announce a free set of downloadable office applications later today. Slashdot speculates that the suite will be called Loutus Symphony and will be based on OpenOffice.org. IBM’s Lotus Notes 8 runs on Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows, so there is a good chance this suite will be available for Linux.

Don’t fork Linux because of Linus: I recently read a blog entry on InfoWorld.com that urged the Linux community to fork the kernel into desktop and server versions because, according to the author, all Linus Torvalds cares about is big iron. Sorry, but that’s both wrong and stupid.

Experts: SCO is going down for the count: Predicting SCO’s demise is a popular hobby in open-source circles. Now, however, with SCO recent filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the experts believe that SCO’s end is near.

Dear EPA, GO F$&# YOURSELVES!: My apologies for the rough title. However, if you have read about James Burgett and how the EPA is trying to prevent him from recycling older computers to give to the needy, then it is my hope you will understand. Kudos to ZaReason for raising awareness of this.

The LXer Interview: Benedikt Meurer of Xfce: Benedikt Meurer was kind enough to agree to an Interview with yours truly. As one of the lead developers of the Xfce desktop environment his knowledge of the goings on concerning Xfce are second to none.

A first run with IBM’s free office suite: Computer giant IBM yesterday released a free office suite for Windows and Linux machines called Lotus Symphony. Symphony is available from the Symphony website which requires users to register and be logged on to download the software.

Intel: Why Open-Source Drivers Work: This afternoon Intel’s Chief Linux and Open-Source Technologist, Dirk Hohndel, talked about why Intel’s commitment to open-source drivers creates a difference and advantage for Intel’s architecture platforms. Nothing groud-breaking or too special was presented, but we have included some of Dirk’s slides from this open-source driver presentation. Intel had also mentioned that AMD’s (well, referenced as a “major graphics card vendor”) open-source driver efforts as “good news.”

Oh So That’s Why OpenOffice Isn’t As Good As MS Office: Those of you who have ever tried OpenOffice (and Linux folks probably make up the majority) have to admit that it’s nice, but not nearly as feature rich as it’s market leading cousin Microsoft Office. Not only that, it’s damn ugly in comparison (it reminds me of the old Office 6.x, the one you used to install from 30 floppies back in 1994). Well after reading an article in Computer World, I now “know why:”

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LXer Article

Benedikt Meurer was kind enough to agree to an Interview with yours truly. As one of the lead developers of the Xfce desktop environment his knowledge of the goings on concerning Xfce are second to none.

The Interview

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

I’m a 26 year old guy from Siegen, a town in Germany, 100km south from cologne. I’m studying applied computer science and electrical engineering at the University of Siegen, currently finishing my diploma thesis in theoretical computer science. Additionally, I’m working as a software developer for a local software company.

I’m interested in computer science ever since I got my first computer (a 386 amstrad PC, with 640KiB RAM and 80MiB hard disk, a revolution at that time). At the age of 11/12, I started looking for a way to write my own software, and discovered that the machine shipped with a QBasic interpreter. I started playing around with the interpreter, but never really understood what was going on there.

That changed when my uncle sent me a book about Turbo C++ together with the complete Borland Turbo Suite for MS-DOS 3.x. I was able to write real programs, that actually did something useful, and even more important, I started to understand that software stuff. I continued with Pascal, Fortran, Perl and Java (after switching to Linux, SUSE 5.2, which took me 5 days to get the Xserver and KDE 1 running), and discovered that different programming languages are just different ways to express the same thing (this is where my interest in software
development and theoretical computer science started).

What brought you to working on Xfce, what are your responsibilities?

IIRC, that is nearly five years ago now. At that time I was using WindowMaker most of time, but I started packaging/porting KDE 3 to NetBSD. Quite funny, but KDE lacked one important aspect of software: simplicity. Even in the early KDE 3 days, it was already a beast. If something didn’t work, you had a hard time finding the cause of the problem.

Since I had already used Xfce 3 in the past, which was simple enough to be fun, I went to see what’s going on there, and discovered that a rewrite for Xfce 4.0 was in the makings (driven by Jasper, Biju, Edscott and Olivier at that time). Perfect. A small code base, which one could get familiar with in less than a week. First, I contributed patches, most of them fixes required to build the stuff on NetBSD. Next, I started fixing the autotools-stuff (that’s why I’m still the “autotools-dude”), nothing amazing, but I kinda liked that. For the 4.0 release, I contributed the print stuff and the utility library.

During the 4.2 days, I developed the session manager, the terminal emulator together with the exo library, a new menu system (that never made it into the official tree, but was used by Xfld and Ubuntu until recently), a lot of panel plugins and several small improvements. Today, I maintain the file manager, the session manager, the exo and utility libraries, the terminal emulator and the settings manager. The file manager was probably the most fun for the last release – and it delayed the release for at least half a year :-).

Can you give us a brief history of the Xfce project for our readers how may not know?

I must confess, that I do not know this for sure. At some time in the 90’s, Olivier started working on his own CDE replacement. IIRC, that was soon after the initial work on KDE began, but before the Gnome stuff started. The 1.x and 2.x releases contained only the panel, and were based on XForms.

The 3.x release was a port to Gtk+ 1.x, and grow out to be a complete desktop environment with a window manager, a file manager, panel and several utilities. Not comparable with KDE 2 at that time, but impressive, if you take into account, that nearly all of the work was done by Olivier on his own. The 4.0 release was the port to Gtk+ 2.x, with only basic functionality. 4.2 added several features (composition manager, session manager, etc.), and 4.4, yeah, you know… 🙂

What makes Xfce different and/or better than other desktop environments?

Well, better, different… That’s is hard to measure, if at all possible. One of it’s advantages over KDE and Gnome is the already mentioned simplicity. You can still get to know the code base in less than a week and you are able to understand the basic design decisions. This way, Xfce 4.x has still a lot of potential, while the major desktop environments are in need for a rewrite (KDE already started the rewrite, a lot of Gnome contributors/maintainers are voting for a 3.0 rewrite).

I think this is better, but on the other hand, fast growth isn’t that bad either (more contributors, testers, users…). For me, Xfce is fun. I already have a software job, so I don’t need another profession. In order to be fun, Xfce has to maintain this simplicity. Nevertheless, I’d like to see some more contributors. Of course, this is
difficult for Xfce, since you cannot gain the kind of popularity, that you’d get as KDE, Gnome or Linux contributor. But if anybody is looking to spend his/her spare time on a fun project, he/she is always welcome to join the Xfce crew.

On that note, how many people are involved in the Xfce project right now? Is there a need for more developers?

From what I know, we are currently 6-7 active developers (I’m not really active myself ATM, because of my studies), plus around 5-10 active contributors, plus a lot of active translators. As said, we are always in need for (skilled) developers.

Tell us more about Thunar, the new File Manager, How did it come about?

The problem with xffm was that it didn’t really fit with the ideas of Xfce. It was powerful, but too difficult to use and didn’t comply with the user interface guidelines. So, Olivier came up with the idea of a new file manager for Xfce (“ROX w/o the oddities.”), and so Thunar was born. Work started around two years ago, with public discussion of how the file manager should look like.

How is it alike, and different than Konqueror and Nautilus?

Well, it’s simple and fast, easy to use. Konqueror is very powerful, but also difficult to get used to – that should change with KDE4, which has a Thunar-like file manager. 🙂 Nautilus on the other hand is way too heavy, probably because the direction changed several times. I cannot really comment on this, better ask one of the Nautilus maintainers here.

Does Xfce receive help and feedback from the Linux Distributions that use Xfce as their default GUI?

Gentoo and Ubuntu mostly. They forward bug reports from their own bug tracking systems, help to track issues and sometimes provide simple patches. One of the most active contributors in this area is Xubuntu’s
Jani Monoses. Of course, we would welcome a helping hand or two from other distributors. 😉

What is your opinion of the GPLv3 and the attention that it gives to DRM?

Not my business. That’s stuff for politicians. I’ve learned something useful to avoid being in the situation to care about stuff like that some day. 😉 Na, ok, seriously… my favorite license is still the BSD one. A really free license doesn’t hurt anyone (in a sane world… yeah, of course not reality today, but ya never know). But imagine how the world would look like today if i.e. the first TCP/IP implementations and the sockets API wouldn’t have been freely available to _ANYONE_ (w/o stupid GPL or industrial license restrictions)…And concerning DRM… I never really managed to understand why this is useful to anyone at all. But as said, not my business, better ask someone interested in this topics. 🙂

What are Xfce’s long term goals? What is the Xfce vision for the future?

Hm, this is difficult… one thing is of course to maintain simplicity, in order to keep the fun in it. Besides that, I plan to add better support for laptop users (I’m using some of the GNOME stuff here today, but it doesn’t really work reliably, and doesn’t integrate properly into the desktop) and even better volume management (to Thunar). Also a working NetworkManager frontend for Xfce would be nice, but maybe fixing nm-applet would also do the job here (and help gnome users). That’s for the next year…For the long term goals: I think the most important goal is still being lightweight and easy to use.

Follow Up

Xfce 4 can be installed on several UNIX platforms and you can compile it on Linux, NetBSD, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Solaris, Cygwin and MacOS X, on x86, PPC, Sparc and more. Xfce is meant to be fast, lightweight, visually appealing and easy to use. If you have never checked out Xfce on your Linux or Unix desktop, you are missing out. Due to its modular design you can checkout many of the Xfce programs without having to install a bunch of other programs because of dependencies.

I have seen it make many an old computer act like it has a lot more RAM and a faster processor. It made my old 350mhz machine that froze up all the time using Gnome or KDE look like it was doing jumping jacks again? Well maybe not jumping jacks, but still. Thanks again to Benedikt for agreeing to the interview and taking the time out of his schedule to answer my questions.

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LXer Article

Some of the big stories this week, SCO files for chapter 11, Microsoft pushes through another shadow update, IBM finally decides to officially support OpenOffice and Apple modifies their new iPods to not work with Linux.

It’s time to retire the mom test: One of the more humorous ad series today is the Geico “caveman” commercials, featuring a caveman complaining about the stereotype of something being “so easy a caveman could do it.” Since we don’t have to worry about offending cavemen (or cavewomen), companies can safely poke humor at that demographic group and not worry about alienating anyone. However, you might want to think twice about saying “it’s so easy your mom can do it.”

Microsoft starts a “Get the Facts” campaign…against itself: You’ve got to hand it to Microsoft. It hates ANYTHING and ANYONE that gets in its way of selling its software. Including, apparently, itself. In a very funny turn of events, Microsoft is out preaching to the industry that XP is a bloated expense hog, while svelte Vista will cure world hunger (or, at least, cost less). Anyway, Microsoft must really be hurting if it has to resort to beating up on its most stable product in years.

Fix a Frozen System with the Magic SysRq Keys: You finally got your Linux environment to crash. Ctrl+Alt+Backspace does nothing, nor do the F-keys. You know you shouldn’t have installed that bad driver, but you did it anyway. So you reach for the power button. Stop. Mashing in the power button to reboot could cause a problem if your hard drive is still being written to, and usually causes more problems than it solves. The Linux kernel includes a secret method of restarting your PC should it ever stop doing its job.

And There You Have It: You Need Novell (Not Just .NET) to Run Moonlight: Sliverlight for Linux? Not so fast. You’ll need to pay some ‘Microsoft tax’ first, for protection from Novell — a ‘protection’ that expires within about 4 years. How do we know this? Thanks to our reader, Victor Soliz, we have it right from the horse’s mouth. To paraphrase Victor and quote Miguel de Icaza, he says that in order to legally use Moonlight you will have to “download it from novell.”

IBM Throws its Active Support behind OpenOffice.org (at last): In what many will see as a long-overdue move, OpenOffice.org announced today that IBM will become an active supporter of, and contributor to, OpenOffice, the leading ODF-compliant competitor to Microsoft Office. The question that many will be asking is this: What took so long?

IBM beats Microsoft over the head with its own code: IBM added a delicious twist on its new commitment to help OpenOffice.org battle Microsoft Office by donating code that was originally derived in part from a Microsoft-developed technology. IBM’s iAccessible2, code-named Project Missouri, is a specification for technology used to help the visually impaired interact with Open Document Format (ODF)-compliant applications and was developed in part using Microsoft Active Accessibility (MAA) as a starting point.

Is .NET on GNU/Linux a Trojan Horse?: A take on the dialog regarding the strategic risks involved with the increased proliferation of .NET and Mono based software in GNU/Linux under the banner of Microsoft-Novell patent deal.

VMware Unveils VMware Tools as Open Source Software: VMware, Inc., announced that it has released a majority of VMware Tools as open source software as part of the project Open Virtual Machine Tools. VMware Tools is a set of guest operating system virtualization components that enhance performance and improve management of VMware virtual machines.

3 moments in Vista that make me consider Linux: While I definitely think some elements of Vista are definite improvements, 10 months of experience has shown me there are some things that just annoy me to my very core. Here are the three things that most make me wish I had the strength to move over to Linux — full time.

Linux step by step and certification along the way: Here’s a series of well written IBM Linux tutorials to help you learn Linux fundamentals and prepare for system administrator certification. These are considered the most popular free online preparation methods cited by LPI exam candidates.

Microsoft dispells rumors of stealth Windows updates: It’s all about updating the updater. Microsoft officials are seeking to dispel rumors the company is performing stealth updates on Windows machines. They are also pledging to be more transparent in the future to prevent such misunderstandings from happing again. Yeah right.

Microsoft’s plans for XP: The recent news about the stealth Windows updates (as summarized by The Register) got me to thinking about the last time Microsoft was performing undisclosed updates. In early 2006, Microsoft pushed out updates for Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) without giving people a change to deny them. Some people found that these updates included a “kill-switch” for disabling computers that did not pass the WGA test, whether because the OS was truly pirated or because the test was faulty. At the time I remember thinking that if someone had AutoUpdates turned off it would be impossible for Microsoft to get this kill switch onto the computer.

SCO Group files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy: Groklaw is reporting that “The SCO Group Files Chapter 11 to Protect Assets as It Addresses Potential Financial and Legal Challenges”. Trading shares of SCOX stock was halted on the NASDAQ several hours ago, and there was speculation as to why. Now the SCO Group has put out a press release explaining why.

Apple Cuts Off Linux iPod Users: So, it’s finally happened. Unhappy with other media players being better than iTunes, Apple have apparently decided to stop them from working with the new range of iPods. There’s no iTunes for Linux, so popular Linux iPod management tools like gtkpod and Rhythmbox will not work with the new range of iPods. The iPod keeps track of the songs and playlists in your iPod with a database file. At the very start of the database, a couple of what appear to be SHA1 hashes have been inserted which appear to lock the iTunes database to one particular iPod and prevent any modification of the database file.

The dangers of automatic updates: When I started using GNU/Linux eight years ago, I was dumbfounded to encounter Debian users who started their day by upgrading their entire system. Yet now, with the updaters that sit in the notification trays of recent GNOME and KDE-based distributions, I realize that these daily upgraders were not daredevils, but pioneers in the idea that all upgrades are desirable.

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The big stories this week include Microsoft and the ISO vote saga, the countdown is on to Ontario Linux Fest, The French Ministry for Education has migrated 2,500 servers over to Linux and The Women of Tech. All this and more in the LXer Weekly Roundup.

Howto display the number of processors in Linux: If you’ve just bought a new desktop, laptop or server and the box says the box is powered by 2 processors, you can actually verify that.

My resolve to treat Microsoft like any another license submitter is being sorely tested.: There’s been a lot of debate in the community about how OSI should properly handle Microsoft’s planned submission of some of its licenses for OSD certification. That debate has been been going on within OSI, too. OSI’s official position, from the beginning, which I helped formulate and have expressed to any number of reporters and analysts, is that OSI will treat any licenses submitted to Microsoft strictly on their merits, without fear or favor. That remains OSI’s position. But…But I find that my resolve is being sorely tested.

Switching from Windows to Linux: an app-centric view: Previously in ITWire we put forth the view that one reason people stick to Windows is because they have to run specific applications that only exist for that platform. We’d like to introduce you to two tremendous web sites which help find open source equivalents for proprietary Windows software.

My math-fu tells me OOXML has not passed JTC-1: If my math-fu is anything to go by, it looks like Microsoft’s Office Open XML will not become an ISO standard today. Various websites around the world are all busy tallying the votes as the news is dripping in. If their tally is correct then OOXML has been turned down by a very narrow margin. OOXML needed 2/3 of the P members to vote “yes”, after subtracting abstains. With 5 abstains out of 41 P members, that means 24 “yes” votes. With 13 “no” votes already cast that means only 23 possible “yes” votes remain. Talk about a narrow margin.

Expert: Open XML loses standards battle: Standards expert and attorney Andrew Updegrove has predicted that on Sept. 4 the International Organization for Standards will announce that the draft ISO specification based on Microsoft’s Office Open XML formats failed to make the standardization grade.

Microwulf: Breaking the $100/GFLOP Barrier: In January 2007, two of us (professor Joel Adams and student Tim Brom) decided to build a personal, portable Beowulf cluster. Like a personal computer, the cost had to be low — our budget was $2500 — and its size had to be small enough to sit on a person’s desk. Joel and Tim named their system Microwulf, which has broken the $100/GFLOP barrier for double precision, and is remarkably efficient by several measures. You may also want to take a look at the Value Cluster project for more information on $2500 clusters.

Going Microsoft free, like Mike: The real question Linux advocates need to answer is this. Can you go Microsoft-free and still get your work done? Mike Kavis is trying to find out. Back in May he dumped his Windows desktop for Ubuntu and now he has launched a pilot program to take his employer in the same direction. This type of experiment is going on in lots of places. As I noted previously, I’m engaged in the same process. Step by step, application by application, I am weaning myself away from Microsoft. I’m not Microsoft-free yet but if I can do it, you can too. If Mike can do it, so can your enterprise. I want to be like Mike. Do you?

Women of Tech: Hear Us Roar, A Special Series from O’Reilly: There’s no doubt that women coders, developers, designers, and programmers are a powerful force in the modern tech industry, despite their smaller numbers compared to men. At the same time many of the major impacts and innovations of women at every level of the development and evolution of technology–from the first female coders to today’s Web 2.0 pioneers–aren’t all that well known.

Microsoft releases Silverlight, supports Linux: Microsoft today released version 1.0 of Silverlight, the cross-browser, cross-platform multimedia plugin, to the Web. The company also confirmed that it is working to make Silverlight available for Linux users.

Ontario Linux Fest: The countdown is on to Ontario Linux Fest and we couldn’t be more excited. Here’s some news from inside the organizing committee. Since our last note we’ve added some speakers and topics, and a couple of prominent sponsors. And a bunch more of you have registered in advance from our registration page at http://onlinux.ca/olfreg

The problems of counting Linux desktops: Here’s what we know beyond doubt. First, the Linux desktop is gaining in popularity. Second, it’s doing so at the expense of the Windows desktop. After that, things get muddy. For example, our recent DesktopLinux survey results, clearly show that there is simply more interest in Linux desktop. After all, more than twice as many people filled out our survey this year when compared to the 2006 survey.

French education authorities migrate to Linux: The French Ministry for Education has migrated 2,500 servers across its 30 local education authorities to Red Hat Enterprise Linux, as part of a strategy to invest in open-source solutions and avoid proprietary software lock-ins.

Tattersalls dumps Linux ‘complexity’ for Microsoft: Gaming giant Tattersalls has decided to dump four Linux operating systems in favour of a Microsoft counterpart across its Maxgaming business. Interesting way to word the title, don’ you think?

Mobile Linux Needs a “Microsoft” to Prosper: In our FUD article we have an author who think the mobile Linux market needs Microsoft to succeed. “In a move which may raise eyebrows amongst the Linux developer community, Pieter Knook the CEO of the smartphone vendor, HTC has said that mobile Linux will face difficulties unless it gets support from a major long term partner – and named the company’s own long term partnership with Microsoft as an example to follow.”

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LXer Article

Microsoft is under the microscope with the FSF looking into GPLv3 violations, and news that there will be a Gnome Desktop for the Windows API, Carla Schroder writes about 802.11n, HP launches Linux desktop in Australia, Mandriva Benelux is launched and I finally start getting tired of of the constant FUD coming from Matt Hartley. All this and more in this weeks LXer Weekly Roundup.

How to Install Windows XP / Vista on Xen: This short guide describes how to install Windows XP or Windows 2003 Server on Xen. It provides an overview of the Debian Linux Etch installation, and detailed steps for installing and configuring Xen and starting the Windows XP or Windows 2003 Server installation.

Microsoft Set for Lock-in-backed Hijack (and Novell Helps It): Time after time we warned that with the arrival of Windows Vista comes an novel lock-in strategy. This strategy of lock-in stretches well beyond file formats. It also creates lethal and viral (as in “transferable”) integration of the server side and the desktop side. As mentioned many times before, all of this is happening quietly. It’s happening quietly for a reason. You never yell when approaching a rabbit.

Report: Moving Closer to 802.11n: Since Carla Schroder’s previous peek at the state of wireless networking in Linux, which is moving forward in an excellent fashion, the new unified Linux wireless stack (mac80211) has been accepted into the mainline 2.6.22 kernel. This is the new common base for all Linux wireless drivers. There are no drivers yet that use mac80211, but inclusion in the kernel is a huge step forward. Linux developers are hard at work porting old drivers and writing new ones, and this should attract participation from additional developers who now have a nice unified wireless networking stack to build on, instead of the previous mish-mash.

From Zero to Holy $&*#!: Thomas Holbrook writes, “My friend Dan Marshall once told me, “Evil will screw you over. Stupid will screw everybody over.” In the name of “national security” in America, it is quite possible that Linux and FOSS could become illegal if Microsoft were to have its way…”

German Universities Tap Novell for Infrastructure Needs: Forty percent of German university students now have access to Linux and management solutions from Novell

X.Org 7.3 Preview: Among the new features for X.Org 7.3 include the Xorg server 1.4, an application for adjusting a display’s backlight, updated display drivers, and support for font catalog directories. Version 1.4 of the X.Org server contains such features as RandR 1.2 support, input hot-plugging, KDrive enhancements, Solaris DTrace support, and EXA improvements. In this article today, we will briefly go over some of the changes found in X.Org 7.3 and we will follow up with some benchmarks in early September.

Another Linux user. Our ranks grow.: The author relates how he helped a roomate make an old Dell laptop usable again by installing Linux on it.

Think again, FSF tells Microsoft on GPL3: The Free Software Foundation (FSF) appears to be polishing up its legal sabers over possible violations of the General Public License (GPL) by Microsoft.

Mandriva Benelux is launched: Mandriva Benelux NV (Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg) was launched on August 16th 2007 as the sole Benelux partner for Mandriva S.A, offering Mandriva Linux operating systems. Our target areas are corporate applications and solutions to individuals, educational institutions, public and private organizations, ISVs and OEMs all over the Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg region.

Looking Ahead: GNOME Desktop a Windows Implementation for the Linux Kernel?: Roy Schestowitz sounds off on a Gnome Desktop for the Windows API.

HP launches Linux desktop in Australia: Hewlett-Packard and Red Hat have started selling a new Linux-based desktop PC targeting small and medium businesses. The dx2250 HP desktop ships with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 Desktop pre-loaded, which includes Firefox, OpenOffice and the Evolution e-mail client. Red Hat will handle technical support for the system.

Six Great Linux Productivity Apps: A short look at six great programs that make productivity simple in Linux. From graphic editors, to text editors, and even some entertainment to keep you motivated.

SCO CEO McBride Speaks Out On Novell, Finances, And Groklaw: “SCO CEO Darl McBride is not popular among many segments of the IT industry, thanks to his aggressive methods for defending his ownership rights to the Unix operating system. McBride on Aug. 28 sat down with InformationWeek editor-at-large Paul McDougall to discuss a broad range of topics relating to the company’s legal battle against Novell, and what the future might hold for the company in light of its recent courtroom and financial setbacks.”

Microsoft Antitrust Settlement Is a Success!: Its not quite FUD but SJVN decides to rehash some old news and insert some “new” opinion.

Torvalds confirms there will be no Linux kernel 3.0: In our first FUD article we have an author who really wants you to believe that Linus is just going to stop working on the kernel. That way Linux will just stop being developed and fade away. Talk about trying to propagate a pipe dream.

PC-BSD Meets Software Piracy?: It has been suggested that we quit giving Matt Hartley’s articles space on the newswire and in our weekly roundup. I believe that to be informed you have to know the facts from the non-facts, but I am beginning to agree that his articles are not worth the time.

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