Archive for December, 2007

LXer Article

In this week’s LXer Roundup we have several OLPC articles, Carla Schroder gives a tutorial on building your own Linux music studio, Steven Rosenberg pits Debian Etch with Xfce and Damn Small Linux with JWM/Fluxbox against each other, SCO gets delisted, Why there’s more to Linux than Ubuntu, Linus talks about Linux and a great review of the Chumby by our very own Sander Marechal.

SCALE is Full: The Southern California Linux Expo has filled all available speaker slots.

Top 40+ GIMP plugins: GIMP is the undisputed king of image editing in Linux platforms, and is next only to Photoshop in popularity in Windows and Mac platforms. With a large community of developers and an even larger pool of users, it is no surprise that GIMP is very popular. Much like Firefox, GIMP’s strength lies in its plugins, which are developed by the open-source toting community. Since the users themselves develop them, they know all the needs and conceive a plugin for everything.

Kubuntu LTS: The release schedule for KDE 4 is now clear, and it will be released during the development cycle of Kubuntu 8.04. Since KDE 4 is a major change to the platform, it is not currently at one of these natural rest points so would not be suitable for long term support. Instead, due to the very high interest, development efforts will be directed towards KDE 4 and releasing Kubuntu 8.04 with the option of using either KDE 3.5 or KDE 4.

Laptop project enlivens Peruvian hamlet: Doubts about whether poor, rural children really can benefit from quirky little computers evaporate as quickly as the morning dew in this hilltop Andean village, where 50 primary school children got machines from the One Laptop Per Child project six months ago. These offspring of peasant families whose monthly earnings rarely exceed the cost of one of the $188 laptops — people who can ill afford pencil and paper much less books — can’t get enough of their “XO” laptops.

Tutorial: Building A Linux Music Studio: This is a great time to be your own recording and sound engineer. There are all kinds of great digital recording gear, from tiny portable recorders to multi-channel mixer-recorders with CD burners, and Linux has a wealth of good-quality audio recording and editing programs.

Debian Etch with Xfce vs. Damn Small Linux with JWM/Fluxbox: I’ve had Debian Etch with the Xfce desktop on the $15 Laptop for a couple of weeks. It took up a lot less space than Slackware 12 with Xfce (and NOT KDE), so I left Debian on the computer, a Compaq Armada 7770dmt with 64 MB of RAM. I had a trick to get the ALSA sound working in Damn Small Linux, but it wouldn’t work in Debian. I don’t have the soundcore module installed, and that’s the next step in getting the sound working. I also found out that doing a Google Docs session in Debian on this box is … frustrating. The screen moves way too slow. So I went in a different direction. I popped in the Damn Small Linux 4.0 CD (I know they’re up to 4.2, but I haven’t downloaded and burned the new ISO yet … I plan to soon).

SCO Delisted as of Today: All those Mesirow and legal hours working on the SEC delisting did not pay off. SCO announces today that Nasdaq has sent them a letter. SCO will be delisted as of December 27. They found out on the 21st, it seems, but they tell us today. Here’s the press release, where they once again describe themselves as “a leading provider of UNIX software technology and mobile services”.

People Who’ve Never Run Linux Shouldn’t Write About Linux: The title of this post occurred to me when I read the post Our Linux Dream. Somehow, even though people get the idea that specialized fields require some experience in that field before you can say anything intelligent about it, people hear the word “Linux” for the first time, Google it long enough to see Tux the penguin, and go “OK, I’m qualified now.” To go through that list of Linux-dream items one by one…

There’s more to Linux than Ubuntu: I’ve told a million times by now, that I am a Linux person. I like the operating system, the tools, the applications, the works. I like the process. I like the community. I like the people. And all these positive feelings are not distribution-specific, or “KDE vs. Gnome” or “Is Amarok the best media player?” kind – its genuine people-to-people kind of a thing, and the love for the technology. Recently I got to read more and more stories about Linux in general (at least that what it was insinuated by the name of the article) where term “Linux” is quite replaced by Ubuntu.

Linus Torvalds: Linux Put Open-Source in the Spotlight: The creator of Linux sees his operating system project as an exemplar of the merits of the open-source development model. In an interview with APC Magazine, Linux kernel developer Linus Torvalds says, “Linux was instrumental in making the whole issue of Open Source move into the mainstream software development consciousness.”

The migration of a fussy Windows user to Linux: I’m a very fussy user when it comes to my operating systems and I have managed to get by with Windows XP for a long time, but its days are numbered. Vista is looming and I refuse to install that rubbish, so I have chosen Kubuntu 7.10. Having declared myself a part of the KDE crowd in the long-running desktop environment flame war, allow me to describe how this fussy and long time Windows user upgraded from XP to Linux to avoid the impending doom of XP’s old age and the otherwise inevitability of Vista…

Microsoft makes hard decisions easier: Let’s pretend that we’re OEMs. Original Equipment Manufacturers, the people who design and build the actual hardware which finds its way onto desks, into backpacks and under thumbs. We make it run a Microsoft operating system, because that’s how we get to all the applications software, and we sell it as a better, cheaper (sometimes more stylish — but mostly cheaper) way to run Microsoft. But next season is 2008. Suddenly, three things have happened…

Linux indifference and hostility from “mainstream” technology shows: So called mainstream technology shows love to bash Linux.

How to run games on Linux (sweet links): The most important thing that make youngsters so attached to Windows and reject Linux distributions is running games. To solve this problem we propose these links. containing explicit tutorials on how to run games on Linux.

Winning by not competing at all: When I was very young, I used to fight with my younger brother. One day, after being made to give in, he went to my mother and complained about the fact that I had been in a fight with him, and mom told him that if he didn’t want to fight, he didn’t have to. He could just walk away. She also told me the same thing. I drove my brother nuts by doing exactly what my mom said. I quit competing. I started working on my inner geek, while he was off trying to figure out why I didn’t engage anymore. This is why Linux makes MS nuts.

The Chumby: Fun, Hackable and full of Potential: Thanks to a friend who knew a friend who knew someone else, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a Chumby for a few days even though it is only available as a limited preview and not outside the Unites States. It’s probably one of the first Chumbies in Europe. I only had it a few days as it was only lent to me by the owner, but this gave me ample opportunity to play with the device, give a thorough review and hack it a little. And what fun I have had!

Hands-on with the OLPC XO laptop — and loving it: The XO laptop I received last week as part of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Project’s “Give One Get One” (G1G1) promotion is unlike any other laptop I’ve ever used, both in appearance and functionality. It’s smaller, for one thing. The XO weighs only 3.13 pounds, is 9 inches wide, and approximately an inch thick when closed. But there’s a lot more difference between the XO and a normal laptop computer than size. It has strangely marked keys, unusual buttons, external wi-fi antennas, a unique UI, and an original reason for being. Most people, myself included, will compare the XO to normal laptops, but that’s not a good comparison. The XO is not designed to do the things that most notebooks are called upon to do, and no other notebook in the world can do the things the XO can do. There is some overlap, of course, but in the main it’s apples to oranges.

ODF vs. OOXML: War of the Words Chapter 4: By the end of December 2005, I had been blogging on ODF developments in Massachusetts for about four months, providing interviews, legal analyses and news as it happened. At that time, not many bloggers were covering the story, and email began to come my way from people that I had never met before, from as far away as Australia, and as near as the State House in Boston.

Has GNOME finally killed off KDE in the Ubuntu interface wars?: The leader of the Ubuntu Desktop team at Canonical, Scott James Remnant, has admitted that KDE 4 will not be stable enough to support for the term of the release. Posting to the ubuntu.com mailing list, Remnant states “I’ve not seen anybody who believes that this would be the case; a long-term supported release would have to be based on the stable KDE 3.5 series.”


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LXer Article

It looks like people are starting to get their hands on some OLPC’s and the reviews have started coming in too. We also have a review of Carla Schroder’s new book, KOffice takes a stand against OOXML, screenshots of the BBS’s new iPlayer and Damn Small Linux 4.2, Open Source alternatives to Adobe, how to make a holiday slideshow and one of our readers has a Debian adventure of their own.

OLPC XO Review: The XO is the laptop produced by the One Laptop Per Child program (OLPC) headed by Mr. Nicholas Negroponte with a goal to provide every child a laptop. Colin Dean was one of the first to participate in G1G1, and this is his review of it.

Should the Linux community boycott newegg.com?: I’m beginning to wonder myself. My uncle bought a $1200.00 laptop that didn’t work right brand new and wanted to return it for a refund in under 30 days. In the US its illegal not to refund someone’s money for a defective product or a product that is not as described and everyone has the right to return something that is new.

Slim Down and Speed Up Linux: While Linux is pretty efficient with a computer’s resources out of the box, there are still ways you can make it run leaner and meaner on your desktop. Using a little bit of know-how, a willingness to run a few terminal commands and a mind for efficiency, you can get every last bit of power from your Linux box, or get more life from an older system. Read on for a roundup of ways to slim down and speed up Linux that any level of user can implement.

My Debian Adventure: I had been very happily using Mepis Linux full-time instead of Windows since September, 2006. Mepis is an extremely user-friendly distro that’s based on Debian. But a growing feeling inside me made me want to see if I could successfully install and configure “unfriendly” Debian itself. A few days ago, I finally got up the courage to install Debian Etch KDE. And I documented every step along the way…

BBC iPlayer Linux screenshots: BBC iPlayer after a lot of complains, petitions, talks and discussions is finally available for GNU/Linux as beta. I took a look at what BBC has prepared and in general I have to say: good job!

Linux Networking Cookbook: Tasty Linux Recipes: If you run Linux networks, you need a copy of Linux Networking Cookbook. Even before I picked up Unix, I worked on networks. While networking has gotten simpler, it’s almost all TCP/IP now instead of Arcnet, Token-Ring and a half dozen dusty wiring and protocol schemes. The services that use networking have gotten ever more powerful and more complicated. That’s why a book like Carla Schroder’s Linux Networking Cookbook is so valuable.

Seller Beware – Hemorrhage of Customers Ahead: Jack heard about Linux through one of his employees. I had installed a Komputers4Kids machine next door to the employee … Of course, the employee then told Jack just why it was Linux that should run his business.

Can We Avoid the Great Schism?: Choice is an important element of free software, so it’s perhaps no surprise that even at the level of the desktop environment there is more than one offering. But the main alternatives – KDE and GNOME – represent more than just a way of placing icons on a screen. Nowhere is that more evident than in their respective views on Microsoft’s OOXML document standard, which are very far apart – perhaps dangerously so.

Linux PDF editor for manipulating PDF documents: Adobe Acrobat is a commercial tool for manipulating PDF files. Earlier I was using CUPs – printing system, to export PDF files. I’ve also tried out gv for the same purpose. However, I needed complete editing of pdf documents. My search ended with PDFedit software, which is free and open source editor for manipulating PDF documents. The PDFEdit software available in both GUI and CLI (commandline) interface.

Still searching for the ultimate Linux distro? Virtualize!: So why does a person install one Linux, then another, and then yet another? Because a person can, of course! Such is the nature of choice, and Linux gives you a choice . . . and what a selection. The trouble, of course, comes when you have to backup, wipe a system, reinstall, over and over. The answer is virtualization. There are many virtual machine tools out there nowadays, but your system probably came with one and in this edition of “Cooking with Linux”, I will show you how to work with the software.

KOffice’s stance against OOXML more practical than political, developer says: In the recent accusations that the GNOME Foundation has been supporting Microsoft’s OOXML format at the expense of ODF, KDE has been presented as a counter-example. Based on a KDE News article, Richard Stallman suggested that “major KDE developers” had announced “their rejection of OOXML” and urged GNOME to do the same. More recently, a widely linked story on ITWire used the same article to declare that KDE has taken a “principled stand” against OOXML. However, if you go the source, the story is more nuanced than these claims suggest.

Where Can Linux Leap Ahead Part 1: People often talk about getting average home users to use Linux, but that may not be the best group of people for Linux to market itself to. This multi-part story goes through the various groups of computer users and why they might or might not want to switch to Linux.

Screenshots Of Damn Small Linux 4.2: As far as the good old days of computing with x86 PCs is concerned, Robert Shingledecker and his team have been tirelessly evoking that nostalgic moments. Unsurprisingly, there is much more sweetness in this new version of Damn Small Linux 4.2. This timely-released version will definitely add more cheers to the New Year and Christmas festivities.

Install, Set up, and Run your own Email Server using Qmail: Packt has released a new book on Qmail. Written by experienced author Kyle Wheeler, Qmail Quickstarter is a fast-paced and easy-to-follow guide that gets a Qmail mail server up and running quickly.

Flipping the Linux switch: Desktop environments vs. window managers: Picture this: It’s late at night. You’ve restarted your computer. The optical drive is whirring contentedly, but you have butterflies in your stomach. Tonight is the night you install Linux for the first time. You choose your language, and then your keyboard layout. This is pretty easy, so far. A partitioner works its magic on your hard disk, either resizing your Windows partition or wiping it completely. Suddenly you are blindsided by the question: Which default desktop environment would you like to install?

50+ open source/free alternatives to Adobe Acrobat: Adobe Acrobat is expensive, but that doesn’t mean you have to live a life without portable documents. What many people don’t realize is that PDF is a Federal Information Processing Standard, which means the specifications behind the format are widely published. Numerous developers take advantage of this fact and create programs that offer effective alternatives to Acrobat. Check out our list of these programs and take advantage of these tools that are full of some of the best PDF features and functions.

Embracing PCLinuxOS and Open Source: As other countries embrace free, open source software (like Austrian schools learning how to use OpenOffice), especially GNU/Linux distributions on the desktop as alternatives to Windows/Mac, the burning question is, how long before the USA catches on? That said, consider how 10th and 11th grade Vietnamese and foreign students are learning…

The smartest and dumbest tech moves of 2007 – and why they matter: Overall, the industry did several things right and wrong this year. But here’s what Network World readers, columnists, bloggers and testers say are the absolute smartest and dumbest moves of 2007 — and why they matter.

Holiday Slideshow: Being the geek that I am, I like to challenge myself with new ideas. A few weeks ago, I decided that my latest challenge should be to create a Christmas slideshow. I could put up a few strings of flashy lights, maybe even hang a wreath, but why should I be like my neighbors? I have the power of Linux and Free Software at my fingertips; I should show it to them, right?

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LXer Article

In this weeks roundup Andy Updegrove continues his series on ODF vs. OOXML, Open Source Fonts, a new version of Picasa for Linux, our own Hans Kwint asks “Do Linux filesystems need defragmentation?”, KDE takes a stand on OOXML and Carla Schroder gives her advice to those brave enough to run Debian Volatile. Also, Microsoft decides to stay quiet on what Unix code it may own, someone figures out how to get a OLPC laptop to run XP, why the NYSE using Linux is important and Richard Stallman finally goes off the deep end.

Linux should stop fighting about which Distro is better or agaist Microsoft: I think, that Linux users make no good to Linux saying constantly that Vista or XP are bad Operating Systems, and even worse, fighting about which Linux distribution is better, I think we should focus on showing how Linux do things good, and improving those things Linux is not good at yet. Let the Operating System Battle be a battle between companies Like Canonical, RedHat or Microsoft.

Forget the Linux Desktop, it’s the Linux Laptop that matters!: The best innovations tend to be cheap and disruptive. Hand in hand as they’re usually found, these characteristics go some way to explaining why I like the EeePC (Asus’s new laptop) so much. The other reasons are obvious, it’s small, it’s light, it has WiFi, Firefox and Open Office, and judging by the reactions of those who saw Paul and I with them at Bar Camp Leeds, it’s cool enough for everyone to want one!

Picasa 2.7 for Linux: Google has a preview release of Picasa 2.7 for Linux. The previous version launched last year didn’t include the features from Picasa 2.5+ for Windows (like the Picasa Web integration), so this is a good opportunity to add these features to Linux.

Top 10 free Linux 3D games: 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 are cross platform and all of them completely free. You don’t have to use ‘Wine’ to be able to play as they come with Linux installers.

ODF vs. OOXML: War of the Words (Chapter 3) – What a Difference a Decade Can Make: In 1980, Microsoft was a small software vendor that had built its business primarily on downsizing computer languages created for mainframes to a point where they could be used to program the desktop computers that were then coming to market. In that year, its total revenues were $7,520,720, and BASIC, its first product, was still its most successful. In contrast, Apple computer had sales of $100 million in the same year, and launched the largest public offering since the Ford Motor Company had itself gone public in 1956. And ten years later? What a difference a decade can make.

Test: Do Linux filesystems need defragmentation?: Back in 1999 I remember the first PC entered our house coming preloaded with Windows 98. One of the things I liked about it was the defragmentation screen where blocks presenting ‘datablocks’ on the harddrive were moving over the screen for almost eternally. I remember at that time it seemed like a logical maintenance requirement for any filesystem.

KDE takes stand on OOXML; GNOME dithers: Three cheers for the developers and management of the K Desktop Environment. They have taken a principled stand on the divisive issue of OOXML, the Microsoft Office Open XML document format. And for this the KDE folk deserve a round of applause.

New Flash player for Linux adds great features, slows playback: It’s good news, bad news situation when it comes to Adobe’s new Flash player for Linux. On the plus side, Adobe Flash Player 9 Update 3, version identifier was made available for Linux at the same time as Mac and Windows versions. It’s nice to see Linux not being treated as the little brother who only gets the older, hand-me down programs by a major software vendor. An even bigger win for Flash Player users, regardless of their operating system, is that its supports H.264.

Microsoft Tight-Lipped On Unix Ownership Question: For months, I’ve been trying to get Microsoft to answer a few questions about the Unix technologies in its intellectual property portfolio. Microsoft agreed to an interview, then backed out. So the question remains: How much Unix code does Microsoft have its hands on?

Go Green. Dump Windows for Linux: CNN reports that “switching from a Windows-operated computer to a Linux-operated one could slash computer-generated e-waste levels by 50%.” It’s no longer about software freedom. It’s also about environmental responsibility.

That Which We Call Free: GNU Project and Free Software Foundation founder Richard Stallman posted a message on the OpenBSD -misc mailing list titled, “real men don’t attack straw men”, suggesting that some comments he had made were being misrepresented. He noted, “one question particularly relevant for this list is why I don’t recommend OpenBSD. It is not about what the system allows. (Any general purpose system allows doing anything at all.) It is about what the system suggests to the user.” He went on to note that though he knew of no non-free software included in the base OpenBSD system, there was non-free software distributed via the ports collection, “if a collection of software contains (or suggests installation of) some non-free program, I do not recommend it.”

The Greatest Linux Innovations Of 2007: The year is winding down and while we have a lot to look forward to next year, what were the greatest Linux innovations of this year? This year at Phoronix, we have published over 325 articles, with most of them being Linux hardware and graphics reviews, and that is in addition to over 700 original news entries. After spending much time in considering what the “best” and most substantial Linux gains over the year have been, we have comprised a list of what we believe are the greatest Linux innovations of 2007 along with our reasoning behind these decisions.

Tips and Tricks for Linux Admins: Volatile Debian: On today’s menu we are serving up Debian going all volatile, the lowdown on cdrkit usurping cdrtools, and a simple way to use iptables rules to foil brute-force password attacks.

Don’t fear the pirates: Illegal downloaders of music and movies are at the forefront of technology—and it’s time the industries caught up.

Integrating Ubuntu with a Windows-based network is harder than it should be: I’ve been using and advocating free software for around six years. When studying and then working as a freelance writer, migrating an office seemed so simple — draw up a list of comparable programs and, over a reasonable period, move your staff across. But over the past few weeks I’ve been trying to use Ubuntu Gutsy on my desktop PC in a Windows-based office, and whilst most things work just fine, it’s far from the seamless integration I was hoping for.

How To Boot XP On The XO Laptop: Here’s a step by step tutorial on how to get Windows XP up and running on the XO laptop. Get your SD card ready, your portable USB CD-ROM and let’s go!

Netherlands supports open standards and open source: Yesterday, the Tweede Kamer (Second Chamber) of the Dutch parliament adopted a plan to switch the country’s public sector over to open standards. At the same time, authorities will be called upon to use open source software wherever possible. The 26-page paper from the Dutch Economics Ministry obligates governmental services to provide reasons why they need to continue to use proprietary solutions, such as operating systems or office suites from Microsoft, starting next April; next December, this duty will be imposed upon all public authorities.

Open source fonts: If you’ve ever gone looking for legitimately free fonts, you’ve probably found that there are a lot of really bad ones. But there’s also a lot of discussion out there about “open source fonts.” Some who post about open source fonts are really just talking about free-as-in-beer typefaces. Some, however, have embraced the open source philosophy as applied to typography.

Skills shortage: it’s mind over matter: The IT skills shortage is like global warming – you either believe it exists or you don’t. Either way, one thing’s for certain – the debate refuses to lay down and die. For those who believe there is a shortage, there is plenty of evidence to support their argument. And for those who believe the shortage is a myth that’s perpetrated by businesses to justify sending skilled jobs to less-expensive regions or hire in inexpensive immigrant labour, then there appears to be plenty of supporting evidence, too.

Why The NYSE Using Linux Is Important: The New York Times ran a story on the New York Stock Exchange’s use of Linux. The most important thing, however, is not that they are using Linux, but that now everyone knows the CIO of the NYSE thinks Linux is the best choice for their servers.

“I’d suggest Linux – but..” – I’d suggest you get a clue, but..: A pseudonym by the name of “Paul Murphy” over at zdnet blogs writes a pretty poor FUD piece about Linux/Linux users, and creates a straw man argument using linux.org. This article by HackFUD debunks and tears the article apart.

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LXer Article

In this weeks roundup we have several articles concerning the OLPC and Microsoft. Plus the MPAA is forced to take down its university toolkit, Dell may have helped boost Linux’s market share, when bad things happen with your good software, a review of Mint 4.0 and the X11 Desktop Environment. I wrap things up with a couple of funny articles about ‘someone ‘dropping support for OOXML and trusting your bartender, enjoy!

Ubuntu Hardy alpha released: Only for the brave: The Ubuntu Linux team announced the release of Hardy Heron Alpha-1 over the weekend for testing purposes.

Maximum Wait for MinWin and Windows 7.0: Microsoft, desperate to freeze a market, has started evangelizing a “new” version of Windows (called MinWin) that will correct Windows Vista’s bloatware problems. But don’t blame Microsoft for the noise about MinWin and Windows 7.0. Blame the trade press. Here’s why.

All about Linux swap space: When your computer needs to run programs that are bigger than your available physical memory, most modern operating systems use a technique called swapping, in which chunks of memory are temporarily stored on the hard disk while other data is moved into physical memory space. Here are some techniques that may help you better manage swapping on Linux systems and get the best performance from the Linux swapping subsystem.

Minty 4.0 Fresh: While there are some Linux users who still insist on running free software exclusively, a growing number are more than happy to mix and match open-source and proprietary software. For these latter users, Ubuntu 7.10-based Mint 4.0 is a distribution made in heaven.

Dell May Have Boosted Linux’s Share of OS Usage: Linux’s market share has increased significantly in the last year. The rate of increase accelerated after Dell began selling machines with Ubuntu in May of this year.

MPAA Forced To Take Down University Toolkit: Ubuntu developer Matthew Garrett has succeeded in getting the MPAA to remove their ‘University Toolkit’ after claims it violated the GNU GPL. After several unsuccessful attempts to contact the MPAA directly, Garrett eventually emailed the group’s ISP and the violating software was taken down.

The Laws of Open Standards Broken by Interoperability: “Interoperability” has become a weasel word. The word is regularly used to insinuate that two (or more) computer systems should work very well, but they usually work well for the wrong reasons.

NVIDIA XRender Performance Improved: Towards the middle of last month, NVIDIA had released the 169.04 Beta Linux Driver. The change-log was quite lengthy and what we had discovered while benchmarking the GeForce 8 series was that there were improvements to be found in this release and it was far more than a simple version bump. One of the reported changes for this driver release was “improved RENDER performance”, and out of requests from readers and interest by the Linux desktop community at large, we have conducted XRender benchmarks using render_bench and have the NVIDIA results available today.

What I hate about Linux: A friend of mine kept going on about how amazing Ubuntu was. He showed me some YouTube videos of the Beryl/Compiz interfaces and I got really excited. He assured me that it was possible to run it on my laptop. That night I installed it (it took a week to get everything working) and I haven’t used Windows since. I’m now on my second laptop (my old one didn’t have a good enough graphics card) and have since installed Ubuntu 7.10 (fresh install). I don’t hate Ubuntu (or Linux for that matter), I just have a long list of things that I hate about it.

Birmingham Agrees to Buy 15,000 XO Laptops: The mayor of Birmingham, Alabama has agreed to purchase 15,000 of OLPC’s XO laptops. The laptops will be given to children in grades one through eight. This will be the first major sale of XO laptops to a US school system.

At least 125m Firefox users estimated: Mozilla’s chief operating officer, John Lilly, revealed in a recent blog posting that the company estimated the number of Firefox users as at least 125 million, double from a year ago. This figure appears to be very conservative, however, and it does not seem to account for Linux users. But the good news is that it is growing rapidly.

The Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment: A return to basics: The Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment (LXDE) resembles a classic Unix project — it’s partly constructed out of pre-existing programs, its emphasis is on speed, and its configuration requires taking time in a text editor. Even the relatively low quality of fonts on the desktop makes it feel like a vintage program. The result is a desktop environment that is short on innovation, but performs well on low-end machines, and blazingly fast on recent ones.

If the GUI is so good. Then why is Microsoft dropping it?: One of the biggest arguments for windows that everybody uses and indeed in my last rant I actually had a few comments specifically mentioning it. The basic argument is that you can do everything in windows via the GUI and you have to use the command line in Linux. I was informed in an earlier article that windows 2008 is able to be installed without the GUI so I wondered. If the GUI is so good. If all programs and system configuration can be done through the point and click interface. Then why is Microsoft giving the option of installing windows 2008 without the GUI interface? Further why are windows aficionado’s touting this as a “Good Thing (TM)”?

One Laptop Per Child Gets The Green Light in India: India may have been a late starter in adopting the powerful computer-based education program One Laptop Per Child (popularly known as OLPC), a brainchild of MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte to bridge the technology divide between rich and the poor children in the developing world. But with the formation of an Indian edition — called OLPC India — the program, which aims to equip millions of world’s school children with cheap laptops, is not only set to make an entry into India but also promises to do it with a bang.

One Laptop Per Child Doesn’t Change the World: Hands Across America, Live AID, the Concert for Bangladesh, and so on. The American (and world) public has witnessed one feel-good event (and the ensuing scandals) after another. Each one manages to assuage our guilt about the world’s problems, at least a little. Now these folks think that any sort of participation in these events, or even their good thoughts about world poverty and starvation, actually help. Now they can sleep at night. It doesn’t matter that nothing has really changed.

When Bad Things Happen With Good Software: If you create a piece of open source software and discover that it has been put to use in a way you find personally distasteful or immoral, what would you do about it? That’s a question that was raised, albeit in a somewhat oddball form, just recently. Not long ago the Motion Picture Association of America released what it calls the “University Toolkit”, a custom edition of Xubuntu that comes with a number of network analysis tools, allegedly for detecting copyright-infringing network activity.

Risk gamers use free software to take over the world: How are GNU/Linux users preparing for Linus Torvalds’ plan of world domination? By playing free software computer games based on the classic world conquest board game Risk. You can perfect your strategy by playing the games XFrisk, TEG, or Ksirk.

Fedora 8 — More than a Linux Distribution: One of the most popular free-as-in-freedom Linux distribution, Fedora Linux, released its latest version, Fedora 8, earlier in November. In addition to being a fantastic release, Fedora’s user and development community and a clear headed approach makes Fedora 8 much more than a Linux distribution.

What Wine Goes Good With Crow?: Well, ya gotta give credit where credit is due and I need to take a minute and set the record straight on something I spoke of earlier in the week. In a recent blog, I lamented and pouted about not getting any response from RedHat when inquiring about a particular project we are planning. Maybe if I got out of this chair a bit more often and went to do some face-to-face meetings, things would be different. That would seem to be the case.

Microsoft feeling heat from Linux in budget flash PC market: Microsoft’s newfound interest in this space is largely a response to growing demand for inexpensive subnotebook hardware that uses flash-based storage. Manufacturers of such devices are increasingly adopting Linux instead of Windows because Linux is free and easier to adapt for use on systems with limited computing power and storage capacity. Microsoft likely views the rising popularity of Linux-based budget mobile hardware in the developing world as a significant competitive threat.

Asus Eee PC 701 Review: This review aims to provide readers with an in-depth treatment of the Eee, using an actual retail unit, instead of a pre-production model. This is important in a number of respects. Earlier models had a different BIOS, which, for example, did not provide full speed USB2.0 ports. Hopefully, having tested an actual retail model, the review should give a true representation of what this machine can actually do.

MICROSOFT drops support for OOXML!: Multi-trade International Corporation for Research of Office Software Open Format Technologies (MICROSOFT) has announced their surprise decision, that they cease to support OOXML document format (Office Open XML), acknowledging at the same time, that the ANSI-developed & supported TXT format will be a better, universal, solution. (Got it Microsoft? Got it Jasow Matusow? Any misread acronym can make sensational headline.)

Would you trust your bartender? What if your bartender was running under Windows XP?: Comparing a list of gadgets that run Windows and a list of gadgets that run Linux I noticed that while the Linux list was populated with mobile devices, the Windows list was mostly… obscure junk, including an automated bartender that runs Windows XP. You know Windows XP is not stable enough for your desktop, so do you think it is stable enough for your bartender?

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LXer Article

This week we have the beginnings of a book for Andy Upgrove, a couple articles about Firefox, Richard Stallman’s guide to writing, South Africa, Netherlands and Korea move towards ODF support, Ten things you can do to help open source and Microsoft spreads the FUD with a Windows to Linux Security comparison.

Ten Firefox extensions to keep your browsing private and secure: Most people lock their doors and windows, use a paper shredder to protect themselves from identity theft, and install antivirus software on their computers. Yet they routinely surf the Internet without giving a second thought to whether their browser is secure and their personal information safe. Unfortunately, it’s easy for someone with nefarious intentions to use a Web site to glean data from — or introduce spyware to — your computer.

ODF vs. OOXML: War of the Words: For some time I’ve been considering writing a book about what has become a standards war of truly epic proportions. I refer, of course, to the ongoing, ever expanding, still escalating conflict between ODF and OOXML, a battle that is playing out across five continents and in both the halls of government and the marketplace alike. And, needless to say, at countless blogs and news sites all the Web over as well. Well, I’ve taken the plunge, and if you are so inclined, you can help.

3 Wireless Setups for Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon: Check out 3 ways to install wireless on Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon; works out of the box, ndiswrapper and manual install.

Torvalds speaks on Linux progress, plans: In a recent interview, Linux founder Linus Torvalds offered some of his thoughts on the progress of the Linux kernel so far and some ideas as to where development was headed for the year ahead.

Tips for Taming SELinux: Users are considered dispensable, like the red-shirted crewmen on the original Star Trek series. As soon as a guy in a red shirt appeared, you knew he was going to be toast before the second commercial break. Think about it—what’s the most important stuff on your computer? The system files? You can easily replace those. An attacker might still want to acquire root privileges so they can replace key system binaries to try to cover their tracks. But the system files themselves are not valuable. The valuable stuff sits in your home and other data directories. If you’re storing sensitive data of any kind, such as databases full of customer data, that’s what an attacker wants.

Side by side comparison of Firefox 3 and Firefox 2 with pics: Quick and simple comparison of the new version of Firefox (Firefox 3 Beta) and Firefox 2, showing some of the differences between them and using Screen shots.

Richard Stallman and the Connotations of Language: Anyone looking for a summary of the free software movement’s concerns needs only to look at Richard M. Stallman’s essay “Some Confusing or Loaded Words and Phrases that are Worth Avoiding.” Behind the modest title, the essay lists all the classic free software concerns, ranging from insisting on the term “GNU/Linux” for the operating system usually called Linux to efforts to emphasize the dangers of so-called Digital Rights Management and Trusted Computing.

Billions and billions of…lines of proprietary code to go open source: Eric Raymond made the point years ago that most software is written for use, not for sale. Eric put the number at 95%; that is, 95% of all software is written for in-house use, rather than for sale. If he’s right, and I believe he’s not far off, then banks, manufacturers, retail chains, etc. are sitting on a massive gold mine of software.

South Africa, Netherlands and Korea striding toward ODF: As Microsoft’s Office Open XML document format remains in ISO limbo, a trio of countries are pushing forward an adoption of the alternative Open Document Format (ODF) instead, according to an ODF advocacy group. Government ministries and state services in the Netherlands will begin to add ODF support next April, according to a statement from the Washington-based ODF Alliance. All other governmental organizations there are set to follow no later than December 2008.

Liberating Java: Now that Sun have begun freeing their Java implementation the way has opened for free software developers to create an entirely free implementation. This free Java, IcedTea, was shipped by default with Fedora 8, and so we talked to Thomas Fitzsimmons, the lead developer behind this feature, to find out more about what it can offer users.

Linux PCs: Look Beyond Wal-Mart: Yes, you can purchase a $200 Linux desktop — the Everex gPC — from Wal-Mart this holiday season. That’s great news for consumers and the open source movement. But it might be wiser to look elsewhere for affordable, reliable PCs running Ubuntu Linux. Here’s why.

It’s the Directory, Stupid: Until Red Hat, Novell, or another party focuses around open-source directory services, Linux will be stuck playing catch-up with Windows 2000. I’ve been covering Linux and open-source software closely since the dawn of this millennium, and over those seven or so years I’ve become a believer in the potency of the open-source development model.

Advanced SSH configuration and tunneling: We don’t need no stinking VPN software: In a recent Red Hat Magazine article, Paul Frields gave some examples of how SSH port forwarding can be used to remotely gain access to resources, or ports, from a remote location. This article will show a pragmatic implementation of SSH port forwarding by demonstrating how to use configuration files and conditional statements to create permanent, yet dynamic, SSH configurations for your home, office, and any virtual machines you may have on your systems.

Why the ODF Shuttered its Doors: Did the OpenDocument Foundation recently shutter its doors for good because it was unable to convince Oasis to support its converter, known as Da Vinci? Or was it because OpenDocument Format was simply not designed for the conversion of Microsoft Office documents, applications, and processes? The debate on these issues continues two weeks after foundation members confirmed the organization had shut down.

Tiny PCs use pico-ITX main board: The U.K.-based company Sharp and Tappin Technology (STTech) is readying two PCs based on Via’s recently introduced pico-ITX motherboard. The picoPC1 and picoPC2 measure as little as 5 x 3.4 x 1.5 inches, and feature separately available cases fashioned from billet aluminum, according to the company. The systems will be available with STTech’s own “customized, optimized version of Gentoo Linux,” according to spokesman Ben Sharp. Sharp added, “We are considering/evaluating a few other distros as possibilities to ship with the PicoPC range, including gOS”

Ten things you can do to help open source: Open source has at its heart a big idea, which some find uncomfortable and others find liberating: it’s about collaboration. It’s about getting involved. It’s all about having lots of people working at making useful things: you pay with your time, and you get paid with the time of thousands of others. If you’re happy just using open source, then no problem. But if you want to contribute, because you have a problem that nobody else is fixing — or simply because you want to do your bit in exchange — it can be difficult to know where to start. The following suggestions might just inspire you to join in.

Ubuntu Alternatives For Beginners: I have heard a number of people tell me that as much as they love the speed of development and the community, sometimes Ubuntu just gets ahead of itself. And I suppose in a larger sense, this is what makes Linux such a fantastic platform in the first place. If you dislike GNOME, you can use KDE, or instead, pick a slimmer desktop manager like Fluxbox. Wireless woes?

Review: gOS: Undocumented Enlightenment: gOS, the hot new Linux distribution, has been generating a lot of buzz because it comes with the Everex Green PC, sold at Wal-Mart for $200. Linux reviewers are totally in love with it, and are praising it to the skies. Naturally, Carla Schroder had to find out if it lives up to the hype.

File permissions in GNU/Linux: In PolishLinux.org Command Line Tricks series they have described Getting help and Processes management. Now it’s time to understand how the file permissions in Linux work. The article covers topics such as the basics of Linux file access rights, useful commands that allow you to manage file permissions, as well as numerical and special access modes.

The Convenient Fiction of Distributions: I am increasingly convinced all of the arguments between Linux distributions are going to become moot very soon. If they aren’t there already. Not that I have anything against diversity, mind you. I have (and will) actively support the right to create and use any Linux distribution you want. My concern is, I think the distributions are becoming so similar in their construction, and the differences between them so subtle, the whole notion of distribution superiority is completely moot.

Documentation: Give it up; it won’t happen.: At one point in time and not too very long ago, I fancied myself a decent system administrator with a decent resume and work history. When I finished a series of writing tasks working on technology subjects that included system administration, I thought the time had come for me to work in a shop with Linux and MS. I put my resume up on Dice and Monster and waited for the phone to ring. When it didn’t ring, I went up to see the hits. I saw six on Monster and eight on Dice. Only one company saved my data.

Microsoft FUDwatch: Windows vs. Linux security: It’s been at least a week since the last bout of Microsoft FUD hit the wires, so I guess it was time for a new wave. Today’s FUD comes from an article Microsoft released on how its security compares with that of Linux. It should come as no surprise that Windows comes off as the Second Coming while Linux is left on the wrong side of Acheron. It’s amusing to watch Microsoft attempt to claim the moral high ground with security.

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