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Archive for January, 2008

LXer Article

In this week’s LXer Roundup we have an article on how to access Linux partitions from Windows, should your business choose KDE or Gnome when running Linux, Ken Starks Yanks The Window Shade, The Everex Cloudbook gets ripped apart by FCC, An open letter to Linus Torvalds, Apple cripples Sun’s open source jewel and a field guide to free software supporters. Plus a humorous press conference, a couple of FUD articles and Linux For The Masses? Bet On This Winner.

Three Ways To Access Linux Partitions (ext2/ext3) From Windows On Dual-Boot Systems: If you have a dual-boot Windows/Linux system, you probably know this problem: you can access files from your Windows installation while you are in Linux, but not the other way round. This tutorial shows three ways how you can access your Linux partitions (with ext2 or ext3 filesystem) from within Windows: Explore2fs, DiskInternals Linux Reader, and the Ext2 Installable File System For Windows.

For Your Business: GNOME or KDE?: I debated long and hard before deciding to take a stab at this article idea. Because KDE and GNOME users are so furiously loyal to their preferred desktop environment, I had to take into account that no matter how I stated my case, someone was going to come away feeling let down. Those concerns aside, I am writing this piece in hopes of sharing what each desktop offering has to provide and which of these options makes the most sense for your business.

The bug reporting culture: 10 things to avoid, 10 things you can do: Generally speaking it’s always nice if you can dedicate a few dozen minutes (around an hour I would say) to familiarize yourself with how bugs are reported in the project you’re participating with.

Yanking The Window Shade: I am loathe to offer real life suggestions based on Television and Movies…most often it indicates that one has less than a firm footing in their real world. In this case though, I am going to ask you to take the red pill. Together we will see how deep the Rabbit Hole goes.

EEE PC more than sold out: Asus obviously announced a shipping date like formerly only Apple did, together with the exact time. It will be this Friday, the 25th of January, at exactly 1700 (or 5pm).

Everex Cloudbook Ripped Apart by FCC: We’re only 5 days away from Walmart rolling out the Everex Cloudbook, but it looks like the FCC has beaten everyone to the dissecting punch by being the first to rip one apart for the internet to see.Technically, this is the Via Nanobook reference model that the Cloudbook is based upon but little is expected to change.

Asus Plans to Offer Windows on the Eee: Asus’s Eee PC, an ultra-light notebook that runs Linux, will be available with Windows XP before the end of the quarter. Pricing has not yet been announced. It will be interesting to see which OS consumers choose.

Software emancipation: An open letter to Linus Torvalds: After years of watching the software industry twist itself in knots trying to differentiate “open” vs. “free” and having to re-invent code simply because it had the wrong comments at the top, I think it’s time to put an end to the madness. This promoted me to write the following letter to Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux kernel.

Linux For The Masses? Bet On This Winner.: With Linux on the desktop going from a slow crawl to verging on an explosion, many have toiled with the question: How do we make this happen faster? A well-known Austin-based Linux Advocate thinks he has the answer.

Apple cripples Sun’s open source jewel: It was all hookers and balloons at Sun Microsystems when the company first found out that Apple would pick up its well-regarded DTrace analysis tool for use with Mac OS X. Now, however, one of the lead DTrace developers has expressed some regrets after Apple “broke” his software in an apparent bid to protect big media and ISVs.

Debian Lenny doesn’t fix my Nautilus problem, but a look at the bug report tells me why the issue is “resolved”: I half-expected today’s massive Debian Lenny update to solve my Nautilus-crashes-when-I-try-to-get-the-properties-of-a-file bug. It did not, but I’m not disappointed. I went back to the original bug report, which was filed with GNOME, not Debian, but is clearly a Debian-only bug. I saw the “solution,” but didn’t understand it until now. I still don’t know how to actually “do” the solution, and for now I’m content to let it ride and see if Debian Testing catches up.

A Field Guide to Free Software Supporters: Hearing the terms “free software” or “open source,” you might imagine that they referred to a single school of thought. Even “free and open source software” (FOSS) suggests only two different outlooks: Free software, which values political and philosophical freedom, and open source, whose main interest is enhanced software quality. Yet all these impressions would be misleading. When you look, there are at least seven different types of FOSS supporters.

How do I remember all these passwords?: If you are like me, you have a ton of passwords you have to remember. I have different login names and passwords for bank accounts, forums, blogs, email, and other stuff. How do you deal with it all? How can a person possibly remember them all, especially the ones that only get used once every month or two, or just a couple of times in a year? Thankfully, I found a cool program called Revelation Password Manager.

Open source under attack?: A nest of poisoned Web sites has been quietly attacking unsuspecting visitors using an arsenal of thirteen different exploits. If the site visitor has javascript enabled and is vulnerable to any of those exploits, then in no time at all their system will be compromised with a Trojan not yet recognised [sic] by many popular anti-virus packages.

Ubuntu chief decries interest rate cut: Canonical Chief Executive Mark Shuttleworth, founder of the Ubuntu version of Linux, called Tuesday’s interest-rate cut the “most extraordinary failure of economic leadership in recent years.”

KDE Sets its Sights on Windows, Mac OS X: KDE isn’t just for Linux anymore. With the recent release of KDE 4, the K Desktop team has set their focus on porting the core libraries that power KDE applications over to both Windows and OS X. Although still in the early stages, there are already builds available for both platforms that will enable you to compile and run popular KDE application like the Amarok Jukebox or KOffice suite on either Windows or Mac, and KDE’s goal is to have production-ready versions out later this year.

In our combined Humor and FUD section we have a ‘fake’ press conference and two FUD related articles for your enjoyment.

Bill Gates is NOT Satan, Says Satan: Sick and tired of hearing various “Bill Gates is Satan” jokes, the Prince of Darkness today issued an edict demanding an end to such friviolities. “How dare you compare Bill Gates to me!” Satan snarled during a fake press conference from the Fire & Brimstone Briefing Room broadcast live on CSPAN. “Yes, we all know Windows is an evil piece of crap — and I applaud Bill Gates for his efforts — but he doesn’t even come close to the sheer vileness that I possess!”

Top 10 Linux FUD Patterns, Part 2: The #1 item on my Top 10 List of Linux FUD Patterns concerns its learning curve. This pattern is probably the most prevalent and primarily appeals to fear by attempting to convince you that Linux is too hard for the average person to use or that it is simply not user friendly. There are many variations of this pattern, from the straight-forward “Linux is for geeks” assault to more mature, logical arguments, such as “if Linux can do everything the fill-in-the-blank OS can do, why bother with the hassle of switching?”.

Cheap laptop price tags can mislead users: Personal computer (laptop and desktop) prices may have crashed. The low price tags, however, can be misleading – especially for first-time buyers. Consider this. All low-cost laptops and desktops come pre-loaded with a Linux OS or a DOS version (obsolete on desktops). The installation of a legal Microsoft operating system (OS) and office suite (for word, excel, etc) will increase the price of the desktop or laptop by 20 to 35 per cent.

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LXer Article

With more computer manufacturers announcing their Linux pre-installed offerings and retailers announcing the availability Linux based computers in their stores, this week’s Roundup should be called “Coming soon to a store near you”. Lenovo is finally getting their Linux laptops to market, Acer makes a trial run of laptops with Ubuntu on them, Shuttle reveals a $200 Linux box, Sears has Freespire based PC’s for $199 after rebate and Everex’s 2 pound, $399 Cloudbook is coming to a Wal-Mart near you. Also, KDE 4.0 hits the streets and in a collection of Microsoft related articles McAfee “accidentally” forgets to read the license, Pamela Jones says goodbye to Mandriva and the EU opens two new investigations against Microsoft while Bill Gates offers free customized Windows Live services to Finland’s primary and secondary public schools.

A Switch Even a Penguin Can Love: But as powerful as Linux networking is, even Linux has its limitations, and one of them is you still need a commercial Ethernet switch. Sure, you could cobble together some hardware, throw Linux on it, and handcraft a perfectly good Ethernet switch. But it’s hardly worth the effort, though it might be fun as a learning exercise. This article continues with Part 2.

Vista advertising: Not selling Microsoft’s value: I’ve seen Vista running. It’s very pretty. I’ve talked with some Microsofties who describe how easily it discovers networks and devices on the network (printers, etc.). It’s supposed to be dramatically more secure and stable than any Windows Microsoft has ever shipped. I believe it.

SCaLE Linux Expo Finalizes Schedules: The schedules for all three days of sessions at the So Cal Linux Expo have been posted to the SCALE web site. All the commercial booths are full and several non-profit groups were added as well. Enlightenment, rarely seen at conferences will be showcasing the work going into E17. This is your opportunity to learn about the desktop that first defined the term “eye candy”. Also added were OpenMoko, Damn Small Linux and for the first time ever OpenBSD, NetBSD and FreeBSD will each have a booth on the Expo floor. SCALE Adds Friday Training Classes too.

KDE 4.0.0: Sweet Follows Sour: KDE 4.0.0 has been released on January 11th, after a number of delays; the months preceding the release, the KDE developers tried very hard to downplay expectations. KDE 4.0.0 was just the first release in the KDE 4 series, and such, should not be seen as the best possible representation of the KDE 4.0.0 vision. So, when I installed KDE 4.0.0 on my Ubuntu Gutsy installation last Friday, I knew what to expect: KDE 4 Developer Release 1. Read on for a few quick first impressions.

We’re not thieves. We just can’t read contracts (McAfee and Open Source): I have borrowed a headline from an earlier posting by Shane Schick to discuss something I saw this week. McAfee filed a report last month with the Securities and Exchange Commission that made a few statements about risks associated with their use of some Open Source software. These statements received quite a bit of media attention.

EU Opens Two New Investigations Against Microsoft – One Involving OOXML: Regulators in the EU today announced that they are opening two new investigations against Microsoft, this time focusing not on peripheral functionalities such as media players, but on the core of Microsoft’s business: its operating and office suite software. Both investigations focus on the benefits that Microsoft gains by combining features, such as search and Windows Live, into its operating system. But the investigations will also look into whether Microsoft has failed to adequately open OOXML, or to take adequate measures to ensure that Office is “sufficiently interoperable” with competing products

How low can you go and still run Linux?: I remember when getting a decent PC would set you back at least a grand. Then it was $500. Now, it’s $150!? That’s the story that small vendor LinFX wants you to buy along with its PC with pre-installed Linux. How does LinFX manage to sell a fully operational computer with a 15-inch display for $150? Well, while the Linux distribution, PCLinuxOS 2007, is a state-of-the-art 21st century desktop Linux, the hardware, an IBM NetVista desktop with a 900MHz Intel Pentium III and 256MB of RAM, is right out of the year 2000.

Lenovo launches pre-installed Linux laptops: Lenovo has launched a range of laptops pre-installed with Novell’s SuSE Linux operating system, which it announced in August last year. Originally marked for release in the fourth quarter of 2007, SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 is now available pre-installed on Lenovo’s ThinkPad T61 and R61 models. The notebooks are aimed at typical business users, and are expected to be expanded as an option for some Intel Penryn-based ThinkPads in February.

Acer laptops with Ubuntu Linux available now: I think this is a temporary offer only, and I don’t have many more details than what is in the product page, but it looks like Acer is making a limited laptop series available now with Ubuntu Linux pre-loaded. What’s more interesting is the price: NZ$699, making it a great value when compared to the ASUS Eee PC, which has only a 4 GB flash memory for storage and costs the same.

Shuttle’s $200 Linux box revealed: Shuttle is doing some very nice boxes, and its CES showings were proof of that. The prototypes shown off at Computex were now working models, and more importantly, they contained some amazing surprises.

Autofs and sshfs – the perfect couple: sshfs is a file system in userspace (FUSE) and can be used to mount a remote ssh account locally in a folder. This is absolutely great – If I need to work on files from my server I can use a simple command and mount the remote file system over a encrypted connection. None of the programs are aware the files are remote and working on a file in the folder sshfs/ is the same as for local files – at least if the connection is fast enough. The great thing thing about autofs is that the commandline is no longer needed. The mounting of the remote file system is done in the moment I try to access the folder by the autofs daemon.

$199 Linux PC Now Available at Sears.com: Value-priced – after $100 mail-in rebate – Linux PC features an Intel Celeron 1.6GHz Intel Celeron processor, 1GB memory, 80GB hard drive, Freespire 2.0, free CNR software delivery service and more

Pamela Jones: It’s Goodbye to Mandriva: Is it possible that this isn’t anything like reviving a United Linux and more of a quiet way to enter an agreement which involves patents (remember that Turobolinux got started only with a Microsoft technical collaboration)? If so, what does it say about Dell joining the Novell/Microsoft deal — whatever that means?

Everex Cloudbook — 2 pounds, $399, and coming to a Wal-Mart near you: My lack of enthusiasm for the gOS Linux distribution notwithstanding, the Everex Cloudbook — a light, small and relatively cheap laptop running the aforementioned gOS — is coming to a Wal-Mart near you on Jan. 25. It sure looks nice. Main competition? The ASUS EeePc. WARNING: don’t click on this last link unless you enjoy annoying Flash-heavy trainwrecks). If you value not being annoyed by Flash, just go to Amazon, which is selling the ASUS for $399.

Oh, To Be A Fly On The Wall…: Blog of helios has entered the storm prediction game. We are predicting a Tempest of unparalleled strength and the eye of that storm is going to be the current office of Steve Ballmer. Whaddayawanna bet that Ballmer not only pitches chairs, he will pitch every craftsman tool and appliance out the door as well?

Bill Gates Invades the Land of Linus, Uses Dumping Techniques: A visitor of this site, who goes by the name “Finland Calling”, has just dropped us a helpful tip. Quick translation of the text from “The Finnish News Agency” aka STT going rounds in web already and being published in all of the major and also most of the minor newspapers tomorrow: “In the meeting between prime minister of Finland Matti Vanhanen and Bill Gates, the software giant Microsoft promised to donate tailored tools for Finnish schools. Microsoft will offer Finnish basic education and general upper secondary schools and their students free Windows live services selection.”

The Free Software hardliner, the corporation, and the shotgun wedding: We called it Free Software at first. It wasn’t until we started calling it Open Source that the punditry line counts began creeping up higher than the code line counts. We had this baby and we were proud of it, and the deep rooted insecurity born of being the ridiculed and utterly misunderstood underdogs made us require the approval of business and Grandma Bessie before we could ourselves be satisfied. Well, now we’ve got it, and in some ways Open Source is not better off because of it.

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LXer Article

In this weeks Roundup we learn how to burn a Linux ISO image on CD, some nifty OpenOffice.org extensions, gOS 2.0 Screenshots, KDE 4.0 is Released, The VAR guy dumps Open Source for Microsoft Office, an interview with Linus Torvalds, a whole slew of articles on the OLPC, and XO laptop. In our FUD section we have McAfee throwing FUD at the GPL and how to be creative with a article title.

Why I Won’t Use KMail or Kontact: KDE 4 is scheduled to be released soon, and it looks like it has a lot of cool new features. Unfortunately, everything I’ve seen about it says that it’s still going to be missing an important feature that many computer users (especially Windows convert to Linux) absolutely require and have come to expect — apparently because a few developers don’t like or use that feature. And to make matters worse, every time I’ve ever seen anyone complain about it, many of the responses have tried to convince them that “no one needs” that feature.

Intel dumps OLPC, Negroponte loses it: There are numerous news reports covering Intel’s withdrawal from the One Laptop Per Child project. The company says it decided to leave the OLPC board because the One Laptop organisation had demanded it stop supporting other efforts in emerging markets. Of course what the OLPC board was specifically referring to was Intel’s Classmate, a laptop for developing markets launched in 2006.

Burning a Linux ISO image on CD: To be able to install a GNU/Linux distribution you need to burn a downloaded ISO image on a CD/DVD disc. At least this is the simplest way to achieve this goal. In this tutorial I am going to describe an easy way to do this under Windows and Linux operating systems and how to prepare your PC for a Linux OS.

Nifty OpenOffice.org extensions: Apparently, the only thing that stopped developers from creating useful OpenOffice.org extensions was the lack of a place to publish them. With the launch of the OpenOffice.org Extension Repository, the number of extensions listed there has shot up, and there are no signs of a slowdown. Although quantity doesn’t always mean quality, the repository already offers a few nifty extensions that can expand the functionality of OpenOffice.org and make your work more efficient.

Shuttle to release sub-$200 Linux box: One of the potentially biggest announcements at CES will probably go unnoticed by most, a Linux box from Shuttle. Get ready for a low priced machine from a big name, a first that I am aware of.

Caution – 180 Degree Turnaround Ahead: I am past the honeymoon stage as a Linux User. I’ve seen it early in the morning before its had its coffee. I’ve stood too close to it before the morning tooth-brushing has taken place. I’ve even had my hands in parts of it that most people never need or want to see. Gone are the days of being endeared by cute little mannerisms. Past are the times when I would gaze lovingly at every part of it, cherishing the fact that it was mine.

Open source: mob mentality or innovation engine?: In a recent article, renowned virtual reality guru Jaron Lanier criticizes the community-driven software development process of the open-source movement, asserting that the model isn’t conducive to radical innovation. Lanier believes that the scientific community should shun the open approach and not follow in the footsteps of Linux.

Gates on OLPC, Windows Home Server: In addition to answering questions about how Microsoft plans to take on its rivals and capture the hearts and devices of consumers, Chairman Bill Gates spoke to CNET News.com on other topics, not all of which fit into Monday’s Newsmaker piece. Here are a couple more questions and answers from Gates.

ODF-XSLT Project Announcement: Lone Wolves is happy to announce the ODF-XSLT project. The ODF-XSLT Document Generator is a library written in PHP 5 that brings the full power of XSLT to your OpenDocument files. It enables you to use ODF files as if they were plain XSLT templates. It also includes a few extra parsing options that allow you to edit the XSLT parts of these ODF from within your favourite office suite. ODF-XSLT is developed by Tribal Internet Marketing and is released by Lone Wolves as Free Software under the GNU General Public License, version 3.

Linus on Life, the OSS Universe and Everything: Linus Torvalds rarely gives interviews, but there’s a new one just out, available in both podcast and transcript form. Topics covered include his commitment to Linux on the desktop, his views on patent trolls, and his musings on matters as diverse as the Linux development process, including internationalization; cracking the code for Mobile Linux; GPL3; OpenSolaris, the future of Linux, and much more.

Picasa 2.7 a slick upgrade on Linux: Google has released a public beta of its Picasa photo organizer for Linux. The new release adds some important features for image browsing, image searching, and creative image export. If you haven’t tried it before, now is the time. This beta release is a preview of Picasa 2.7, which will bring the Linux version of the application up to speed with the Windows edition. Picasa remains the only Google app which is unavailable for Mac OS X, a fact you can brag about to your Apple-loving friends

gOS 2.0 Screenshots: gOS 2.0 is released into the wild. gOS 2.0 is built on top of Ubuntu Linux 7.10. Instead of the more popular KDE or Gnome desktops, gOS uses the lightweight Enlightenment E17 interface. Rocket comes with Google Gears. This is Google’s beta online/offline synchronization technology. GOS 2.0 also includes a new browser-based Web-cam application, gBooth, that was written specifically for gOS. It’s designed to work with Facebook. gOS comes with dedicated shortcuts to Google Reader, Talk and Finance and Google search integration into the desktop itself. It also provides access to online storage via Box.net. Screenshots at The Coding Studio.

A dual-boot OLPC XO with Linux and Windows XP?: News this morning that the OLPC project is working with Microsoft to deliver a dual-boot XO laptop is causing shock waves among many of the OLPC faithful. Nicholas Negroponte was quoted in the ComputerWorld story as saying, “We are working with them very closely to make a dual-boot system so that, like on an Apple, you can boot either one up. The version that’s up and running of Windows on the XO is very fast, it’s very, very successful. We’re working very hard to do both.”

Microsoft denies dual-boot Linux/Windows XO laptops are on its agenda: It looks like the head of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Chief Nicholas Negroponte is not only alienating Intel, but Microsoft, too. A day after published reports quoting Negroponte as saying OLPC XO laptops would dual boot Linux and Windows, Microsoft is denying that the company is pursuing such a plan.

The PCLinuxOS computer — everything you need for $150: I’m ready to throw down $150 for this deal (plus $15 to boost the memory to 512 MB). There are a smattering of low-cost Linux PC deals out there, but this is absolutely the best. Better than Everex, better than the used stuff at Pacific Geek. Better than Mad Tux. Hell, better than anything. You even get an LCD monitor. The $150 doesn’t include shipping, and I don’t know how much that runs. But holy hell, it’s cheap.

KDE 4.0 Released: With the fourth major version, the KDE Community marks the beginning of the KDE 4 era. January 11, 2008 (The INTERNET). The KDE Community is thrilled to announce the immediate availability of KDE 4.0. This significant release marks both the end of the long and intensive development cycle leading up to KDE 4.0 and the beginning of the KDE 4 era.

Dumping Open Source for Microsoft Office: Brace yourself for a rare event: The VAR Guy — an open source fanatic — is about to eat crow. Last fall, he dumped Microsoft Office for an open source suite. Now, he’s making the leap back into Microsoft’s arms. What went wrong with our resident blogger’s open source experiment?

Goodbye Vista, KDE 4.0 Has Arrived!: There are only few people who know that if you look out of your ‘Windows’, the world is much more vivid and beautiful. Apple is known for its good looks, but it’s excessively expensive, while Vista is a big disappointment. Now, there is GNU/Linux which, in fact, is free and offers much more options and freedom than Windows or Mac. One of the most popular desktop environments on GNU/Linux platform has come out in a new flavour – KDE 4.0.

McAfee throws some FUD at the GPL: In the chill morning dark, quiet except for the sounds of wind and rain outside, it seemed only fitting to happen upon the news of yet more FUD manure thrown at open source software by a vassal of the Volish empire, against its own interests. In its annual report, Windows security software vendor McAfee told its investors that open source software license terms it vaguely characterized as ” ambiguous” might “result in unanticipated obligations regarding our products.” That statement says several things.

Open Source Code Contains Security Holes: In our FUD article of the week we have a “Let’s get creative with the article title so it sounds like Open Source sucks” article. It seems that messing with article titles is all that is left for the FUD creators.

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LXer Article

Happy New Year and welcome to the first LXer Weekly Roundup of 2008. This week we have a petition for the free use of codecs, our own Carla Schroder talks about how some people should not use computers, the Top 10 Open Source applications on the desktop, 355.6 million reasons the Novell-Microsoft deal is working, our own Hans Kwint tells us why Open Source is the way to go, Who is the most hated company in the PC industry and how to destroy the GPL from the inside.

Free use of codecs petition: We The People believe that anyone should have the right to play any Digital Media in the form of Music, Videos, or other content on any device in any format that we wish such as but not limited to DVD format using the libdvd codec, MP3 files with the lame codec, and Microsoft formated content using the win32 codecs..

Fedora 8: An Assault On Ubuntu: Lately, I have been looking into other distributions that, like Ubuntu, are working to make strides to attract new users. I still have Debian Etch burned to a CD, waiting for a test in our lab. Next up is going to be Fedora. In the past, I have never been too impressed with RPM-based distributions, but to be fair, most of this came from nightmare scenarios with Mandriva and SuSE. And the last time I really took Fedora for a solid run was with Fedora 5, so it has been a while since I tested the Red Hat supported distro.

And You Thought It Couldn’t Get Worse…: You probably think I am writing this to form some sort of action to battle this, right? No, I’ve learned that is all but a futile gesture. Most Linux users cannot see past the needs of their own cpu’s. or the interests of their LUGs. Aptly, readers of this blog have proven to be different. No, that’s not my intention here…at least not overtly.

Unblocking Blockheads or, Some People Should Not Use Computers or, “The Marching Morons” Comes True: A sizable number of humans have devoted their lives to erecting barriers to learning anything new. You can see it when you talk to them- when something as simple as “click this button” produces a glazed expression and drool, you know you’ve lost them forever. Of course they’ll waste hours of your time complaining about how stupid computers are. But even though it’s easy money to nod and pretend to listen, and then bill them for every minute wasted on empty complaining (I never had enough nerve to charge a whining penalty, and I wish I had), it’s not how I want to spend my time. Life is too short.

Flipping the Linux switch: KDE, the K desktop environment: There’s one thing for certain: Now is an exciting time to be a KDE user. The much anticipated launch of KDE 4 is slated for January 11th, 2008. This is a major revamp of the look and feel of the KDE desktop, with the inclusion of a built-in compositor (think eye candy) and something called “plasmoids” (little functional widgets embedded into your desktop). It’s a lot of new bling aimed at improving the desktop experience. Will it? More importantly, will it for you? What would make you choose KDE over GNOME (or vice versa)? This week we take a brief look at KDE in both its 3.5.x and 4 incarnations, and outline a few rules of thumb on choosing your desktop environment.

Opinion: 11 Predictions for Free Software in 2008: From KDE to the OOXML controversy to video drivers: a gaze into the crystal ball for free (as in free speech, not as in free beer) software.

This week at LWN: Insufficiently free?: Watching an extended flame war between Richard Stallman and Theo de Raadt is an interesting experience. The realization that one can sit back and watch without having to really care about the result brings a sense of profound tranquility and relief. Along the way, one gets to learn things like how mean Theo can be, or that Richard does not use a web browser. It all seems like good fun. Even so, when the discussion reaches levels like this:..

Steps to install gOS on Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon: I am sure by now you have heard of the gPC loaded with gOS via various news sources. For those in the dark, gPC stands for green PC which is a sub $200 PC which comes loaded with a customized version of Ubuntu known as gOS or in popular parlance called Google OS.

Top 10 Open Source Applications on the Desktop: Every year there are many, many open-source applications released, but not all of them can be the best. These applications are the best, at least according to Softpedia.

Upgrading Debian from Etch to Lenny: After reading Wolfgang’s blog entry on how easy it is to upgrade a Debian installation (and I recommend his blog, The Debian User, to any and all Debian and Ubuntu users), I decided to do it myself. I have a testing hard drive (one of three I can easily swap in and out of my Maxspeed Maxterm converted thin client) that began as a Debian Etch Xfce box and recently got GNOME added. Now I’m doing the easy upgrade from Etch (stable) to Lenny (testing).

355.6 million reasons the Novell-Microsoft deal is working: Via CRN we learn that according to Novell’s recent 10-K annual report, the Linux vendor received $355.6 million (R2.5 billion) from Microsoft in terms of the companies’ agreement on interoperability signed in 2006. No wonder Novell execs are feeling pleased with themselves.

Closed source is dead, open source is the way to innovation!: Lately, some articles appeared which stated the open-source way of development didn’t bring us any innovation. Jaron Lanier even goes further by saying closed source is the better approach to innovation. However, these people miss a lot of important points and facts about innovation, and therefore the conclusions they make are false. Having read a lot about innovation myself lately, I will try to show that the open-source way of doing things leads to more innovation, and more important, I will give some real life examples showing the closed-source inventions aren’t that innovative at all, and pointing to some open-source inventions the other writers missed.

Is Linux Worth the Effort?: I’ve spent the better part of the past 2 weeks banging away on 2 LTSP servers for our school district. I find myself lamenting to those around me, and being an otherwise cranky guy as well. This morning it dawned on me that people probably think I’m having such a hard time because I’m using Linux instead of the “norm” — but that’s just not the case.

Java is becoming the new Cobol: Great! Now that java’s finally about to be freed, it’s losing ground. According to Bill Snyder, Java is losing ground to Ruby on Rails, PHP, and AJAX for web development and being pushed by .Net in the enterprise.

2007: That Was a Very Good (Linux) Year: The most important thing that came to light this year is how much Linux and FOSS drive the computer industry. It’s not the oldtime traditional commercial companies that are “driving innovation” as they like to say, and which makes me want to hit something every time I hear it because it’s such a big fat fib, but Linux and the FOSS world. So rather than getting all violent, let’s take a look at some of the ways that Linux is leaving everyone else in the dust.

Fun: Chuck Norris vs. Linus Torvalds: I’m sure everybody remembers facts on Chuck Norris, and here are Linus Torvalds facts!

At a Loss for Words: It’s not often I find myself at a loss for words when I read something, but this is one of those times. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it isn’t really necessary for me to add any words to the following news, other than to characterize them with a Latin phrase lawyers use: Res ipse loquitor, which translates as “the thing speaks for itself.”

The Most Hated Company In the PC Industry: Who in the hell is Asustek, and why does Microsoft hate them more than any other company in the industry? Why does Apple, Dell and Palm Computing hate them? And why does Intel love them?

gOS: A wake up call for Free Software marketing: “Think gOS. It might not be such a bad advice after all. It’s been hyped up, but it sold out. And there may be lessons in its deployment and success for all of us Free Software and GNU/Linux advocates!”

Destroying the GPL from the inside: How do you destroy the GPL? Honestly I don’t think it will be done, but there is a way. Simply put the GPL is a copyright license, which is it’s strength and it’s achillies heel. For years publishing companies, our friends at the RIAA and MPAA among others have pushed for longer and longer copyright terms so that they can reap the rewards from other people’s work for a longer period of time. So why not turn things on their heads a bit? Actually, what I’m talking about has already been proposed.

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