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Archive for April, 2008

LXer Article

In this week’s Roundup we have several Microsoft related articles including, extending the life of XP to parry the Linux threat, Office 2007 fails OXML test and MSN users find out that they get to re-buy all the music they purchased from MSN Music. Also, an interview with Kurt Denke – the man who shut up Monster Cable and a ton of Ubuntu related articles because of the Hardy Heron release. Also there are three LXer features, The Biggest Blunder, an intro to secure web data Input, and Accurate market share statistics and The $60 Billion dollar question for your reading pleasure as well.

Microsoft extends XP life to parry Linux threat: In what is being perceived as a move to counter the threat of Linux — a free operating system — in the ultra-low-cost personal computer (ULCPC) segment, Microsoft has extended the sale of Windows XP Home by two years to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) beyond the current deadline of June 30. Linux is the operating system (OS) running the current poster child for low-cost laptops like Asustek Computer’s Eee PC, released in January and costs just Rs 18,000. To counter this, Microsoft maintains that it wants to see Windows on ULCPCs, and wants “to provide the best possible Windows experience for the devices”.

The Biggest Blunder: Or why Red Hat and Novell just left the door wide open to Ubuntu: In recent announcements both Red Hat and Novell made it pretty clear that their foray onto the desktop would be delayed quite a bit longer. What they do not know is that they just left the door wide open for Ubuntu to conquer the desktop and the server space.

Ubuntu ‘reaping Linux dividend’: A new version of Ubuntu, a version of the Linux OS, is released on Thursday. Mr Shuttleworth said the success of the Asus Eee PC and the work of the One Laptop Per Child programme had driven awareness of open source. “There has been a sea change in the way people think of Linux, which is very healthy,” he said.

Linux Users Will Rescue the Desktop…Geek Please.: How much “proof” do you need. Red Hat just informed you that your desktop isn’t their priority. Ron Hovsarian of Novell just said the same thing. IBM and HP BigWigs looked me in the eye at the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit and basically told us this in so many words. “We don’t offer systems, we offer solutions.”

CPU frequency scaling in Linux: Electricity bills got higher again? Does your computer waste too many power cycles? Or perpahs you just don’t feel green enough? In any case, this article is for you! You’ll learn how to save energy and CPU cycles with your Linux box, no matter how old it is.

An Interview with Kurt Denke – the Man who shut up Monster Cable: I was lucky enough to catch Kurt Denke for a short interview. Kurt is actually on vacation right now; however, he still found some time to answer my questions. For those who have been living under a rock for the last week, Kurt Denke is the owner of Blue Jeans Cable; Monster Cable attacked Blue Jeans Cable on the basis of “Intellectual Property violations”. You should read Kurd Denke’s response. It’s a very enjoyable read, which makes you realise just how knowledgeable Kurt Denke is, on intellectual property law and on cables (!).

An Apple User Tries Ubuntu: I’m an Apple user. Long time, pure bred, never owned anything else. Oh sure, I’ve used Windows machines, but it’s never crossed my mind to use one daily. I mean, Windows? Like most Apple users, the very idea makes me vaguely anxious. When you’re an Apple user, you’re a snob. You feel – no, you know – that your OS is superior. The machines are fast and secure, and they’re gorgeous, too. The Macintosh is, without a doubt, one of my favorite things. I reveal my Apple snobbery because I want you to know where I was coming from when I sat down to try Ubuntu, the Linux distro.

Whither the Linux Foundation?: We live in the age of the spinmeister, the age when language is used more as a means to confuse than to educate, an age when obfuscation is preferred to clarification. Hence, one should not be surprised to find Jim Zemlin, the head of the Linux Foundation, referring to a face-to-face meeting of kernel developers and industry people as a “high bandwidth set of interactions.” The Foundation, one must bear in mind, was formed at the beginning of 2007 by a merger between the Open Source Development Labs and the Free Standards.

Office 2007 fails OXML test: Microsoft’s Office 2007 Word documents do not conform to the newly-approved Open XML (OXML) international standard. Alex Brown, who heads up the group responsible for maintaining the OXML standard at the International Standardisation Organisation (ISO), revealed the less-than-pretty findings in a blog post late last week. He said that OOXML, which last month – in the face of heavy opposition – just scraped in enough votes to be passed as a standard by the ISO and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), does not adhere to the latest specifications of the draft standard (ISO/IEC 29500).

Ubuntu hating and Microsoft bashing? The future of GNU/Linux: Lately I’ve noticed an emerging trend of Ubuntu bashing. It seems that the Linux community has now included Ubuntu bashing as a extension of the Microsoft bashing fringe. It’s actually pretty sad because the Microsoft bashers, are at least being loyal to the concept of GNU/Linux even though they are a lot like our crazy uncle Freddie the everyone nods and whispers about at family reunion time. Microsoft bashing though enjoyed as a sport by many Linux enthusiasts is not productive behavior and most of us get a naughty twinge of pleasure from it. Most of us also realize that its not behavior that is conducive to the spread of GNU/Linux and refrain from being obsessive compulsive in the behavior.

Google Maps gains easy Linux install: Ubuntu, Linspire, and Freespire users can now install “Google Earth” with a single click, says Linspire. The desktop Linux distributor has added support for the free mapping application to its CNR (“click-n-run”) installer, a user-friendly tool currently beta-testing for a wide variety of desktop Linux distributions. Linspire said the version of Google Earth that CNR supports will work with Ubuntu 7.04 and 7.10 (32-bit), Linspire 6.0, and Freespire 2.0.

OLPC; one excuse per child: Nicholas Negroponte, the head of the One Laptop per Child project, is in the news again, this time trying to rationalise the appearance of Windows XP on the laptop manufactured by the project.

MSN Music to ex-customers: So you thought you bought that song for life, eh?: So, Microsoft gives customers of now defunct MSN Music a final farewell kick in the teeth by pulling the plug on any future downloads or license activations. Your existing music will work until the authorized PC dies, after which it’s back to the store to repurchase the music. As of August 31st, we will no longer be able to support the retrieval of license keys for the songs you purchased from MSN Music or the authorization of additional computers.

Introduction to Secure Web Data Input: The html form can be an effective means of allowing screened content onto a web site. My focus is upon trusted members that need to deposit articles and news. Moreover, this route is designed to circumvent restricted environments that do not allow them logging directly onto the site. While security is certainly an issue, my suggestions will be limited in scope.

This, too, shall pass, or: Things to remember when reading news about OLPC: To the developers at OLPC, and the tireless volunteer community contributors unsettled by Nicholas’ plans — remember that no matter what happens, your work has not been for naught. Far from it. You brought the smiles to children’s faces in Escuela No. 109 in Florida, Uruguay. Your work astounded me with the results, after little more than half a year, in the mountains of Arahuay, Peru. Bryan Berry’s team is kicking ass on establishing a pilot in Nepal because of your work. And if you haven’t read the linked articles yet, now’s the time. Nothing can take away the real, palpable impact you’ve already had on children’s lives.

10 Tips for After You Install or Upgrade Ubuntu: Ubuntu is becoming more and more complete and easy to configure. However, like any operating system there’s work to be done after the installation. Here’s a list of 10 tips that you can use after installing or upgrading Ubuntu.

Accurate market share statistics and The $60 Billion dollar question: Earlier this week an article concerning Vista and market share and one about how Open Source Software has cost the IT Industry $60 Billion dollars over the last five years or so hit the newswire. Needless to say this generated some conversations about their validity. I got to wondering if there have ever been accurate market share statistics for Linux or any operating system for that matter and to ask myself the $60 Billion dollar question.

Imagine There’s No Penguins: What if Linux were not free? Would people still use it? Would it generate as much excitement online? What if the right…no, the privilege…to use Linux came only at a monetary cost money? And that’s a lease, not a sale mind you. What if the product was not intellectually free? How many people would jump on the bandwagon then? Would the beloved penguin mascot, Tux, make way for a more corporate-looking logo?

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LXer Article

Earlier this week an article concerning Vista and market share and one about how Open Source Software has cost the IT Industry $60 Billion dollars over the last five years or so hit the newswire. Needless to say this generated some conversations about their validity. I got to wondering if there have ever been accurate market share statistics for Linux or any operating system for that matter and to ask myself the $60 Billion dollar question.

This article draws heavily upon conversations here on LXer about the Should You Give Linux A Chance? and the Open Source Software Is Costing Vendors $60 Billion? articles.

First is this whole 98% market share that Windows has. In the last ten years I don’t think that assertion has changed; its been right around 98% the whole time. Just where did this estimate come from? Like the chicken and the egg, we will probably never know. One of our readers wrote “The argument from marketshare has always struck me as a form of special pleading for Microsoft. As in the whole thing isn’t testable. There’s no way to reverse a given situation and see what results.” I agree, just how and when did this 98% get there? And what about e-mail clients? You mean to tell me that Outlook/Outlook Express have a 98% market share? I don’t even have to look anything up to know that is not true.

And what about dual-booting machines? I have an HP laptop that came with XP on it and I have since dual-booted it with SuSE, Red Hat (Fedora) along with running Knoppix and DSL live for weeks on end. As of recently, I have fallen in love with PCLinuxOS and have been using it on it for almost six months now. I have my main desktop that has XP on it that has had too many different flavors of Linux to count’ that I have been dual booting Debian on for some time now, my friend jimf helped me with that. I have recently bought a Compaq desktop that has Vista Home Premium on it, for now. I have the two desktops hooked up via a KVM switch. So I actually have more Windows machines that Linux machines running right now. Does that make me? 60% Windows, 40% Linux? Does that mean I am tainted? That just sounds bad doesn’t it?

So is any computer that has ever had any Windows installed on it counted in that market share? And what about Apple? One study says that they had 14% of retail sales in Feb 2008, and another says that they have a 6.6% market share for the first quarter of the year in another study. So which is one is true? What about Linux, all the different flavors of Unix and the Apache web server? Are their usage statistics to be believed or are they all sharing pieces of that left over 2%? Apache alone has roughly a 70% share of the web server market and I am not even going to waste time looking for statistics on Unix and Linux to help refute the 98% statistic.

Now on to this lost $60 Billion dollars. According to Jim Johnson, CEO of the Standish Group International “Open Source software is raising havoc throughout the software market. It is the ultimate in disruptive technology, and while to it is only 6% of estimated trillion dollars IT budgeted annually, it represents a real loss of $60 billion in annual revenues to software companies” The ultimate disruptive technology? Just how was this opinion reached? What factors went into it being described as “disruptive technology” and how did it cost the IT industry $60 Billion dollars? Where did the money go and to whom? That is more than one question isn’t it, sorry about that.

One of our Editors, Carla Schroder mentioned that the headline could just as easily be “Consumers and businesses save $60 billion, and have money to spend on useful things, instead of predatory overpriced software licenses” and a reader wrote it could be titled “Innovative corporations have saved over $60B by switching to Open Source”. Because if we’re going to spin it, we might as well spin it our way right? Who’s to say that the huge markup in sales price by Microsoft hasn’t resulted in many of Microsoft’s customers having to get by posting smaller than usual profits. Wouldn’t that cost the IT industry money? A ton of money is my bet.

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LXer Article

In this week’s Roundup we have lots of Linux and Open Source news including how Sun has started working on a free video codec, Ken Starks comes “back from the mountain”, The missing five-minute Linux manual for morons, A new spin on Xfce and the one place Novell can beat Microsoft along and other MS related articles. Plus, we have Blue Jeans Cable’s response to Monster Cable, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Linux Users and in our FUD section we have Seagate killing Linux support, Linux wanting to destroy things and how Open Source is costing the IT vendors $60 billion. Enjoy!

AstroMenace 1.2 – Real Gaming in Linux:
While changing to a great OS like Ubuntu , I had to make some sacrifices , one of them being : less gaming. I’m not seeing I ended my gamer ” career” , buy i start to look for smaller web games , or testing the big LINUX games that everybody was talking about. ( Tremoulos,Quake Wars,Nexuiz,Battle For Wesnoth).

Sun Tackles Video Codec: Looking to boost the Web, Sun is working on a royalty-free and open video codec and media system, company officials said Thursday afternoon. “The main benefit is that you don’t have that now and there are markets, key markets like the Web, that are in need for the Web 2.0 experience a foundation of royalty-free for the media element,” for audio and video, said Rob Glidden, global alliance manager for TV & Media at Sun.

Back From The Mountain: Linux Advocate and Open Source Business owner, Ken Starks attended the Second Annual Linux foundation Collaboration Summit in his home town of Austin Texas this year. It was his first invite and what he comes away with may surprise many…and yes, those are real sharks.

The missing five-minute Linux manual for morons: It is time to wake up and smell the elephant in the room. Vista is struggling to achieve escape velocity. Microsoft finds itself the butt an international joke, but does not seem able to get a grip. The issue of choice of platform is once more up for grabs. Of course there is an alternative; a popular computing platform whose design attracts universal admiration. But although we all look forward to literally punching in the numbers, the Wii does not yet quite hack it (use of a dread phrase coming up) ‘in the enterprise’.

Users fight to save Windows XP: Microsoft Corp.’s operating systems run most personal computers around the globe and are a cash cow for the world’s largest software maker. But you’d never confuse a Windows user with the passionate fans of Mac OS X or even the free Linux operating system. Unless it’s someone running Windows XP, a version Microsoft wants to retire.

Here Comes IPv6… Guess Who is Not Ready: In about 100 days, the United States Federal Government will be required to be running large portions of their systems on IPv6. Now, for the few non-technical in the crowd, it means that the address your PC uses to connect to the Internet, in most cases, is IPv4.

Run Windows and Linux without virtualization: Linux does everything that many users want it to, but some people have tasks that require Windows applications. You can dual-boot both operating systems, or run Windows in a virtualized environment on Linux. Alas, virtualization makes the guest OS almost useless for processor- and RAM-intensive tasks like editing videos and playing games. Now, a Ubuntu-based distro called andLinux takes cooperation with Windows to a whole new level.

Review: A New Spin on the Xfce Window Manager: Xfce isn’t for everyone, but for servers or minimal desktop systems, it’s just what the doctor ordered. Rather lightweight in Window Manager terms–weighing in at around 63MB–Xfce arrives with a full complement of applications from Abiword, gnumeric, and pidgin to CD/DVD burning software (Brasero), Thunar File Manager, and a host of administrative applications. For this article, I am reviewing the Xfce Fedora Spin based on Fedora 8 and Xfce4.

Blue Jeans Cable Strikes Back – Response to Monster Cable: Not a Linux article, but on a topic near and dear to our hearts — An attack by an IP holding company. In this case, Monster Cable’s lawyers sending a Cease and Desist letter to Blue Jeans Cable. Too often, FOSS folk, bless their hearts, panic at the word “patent”. This letter from Blue Jeans President and former litigator, Kurt Denke, gives some idea why real companies — companies with valuable businesses and assets to protect don’t just go out and routinely drop “patent bombs”.

The One Place Novell Can Beat Microsoft: Novell SuSE Linux has reasonable momentum on desktops and servers. But the company’s best shot at beating Microsoft is in an entirely different market.

With Vista’s View Getting Dimmer, Should You Give Linux A Chance?: The geeks have been pushing it for years now. The nerds tout their penguins and tell you how much they hate Microsoft(tm). It’s been all the rage in tech circles since its appearance on the scene back in 1995, after Linus Torvalds, a student in Finland, introduced a new, open source operating system to the world. It was aptly named ‘Linux’. Torvalds had wanted an alternative to expensive and bloated Unix operating systems, but instead what he created was an inexpensive alternative to, well, everything. For years now, Linux has been known primarily only to people in technology fields. While average home users may have heard of it, it is still surrounded in a cloud of mystery for the majority of people. When people think alternatives to the Windows operating system, they usually think of Apple’s Mac OSX, but is it time to take a look at Linux?

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Linux Users: Switching to Linux can be very daunting, most seasoned Linux users experienced that first hand. After all, at some point they were also “noobs”. However, the Linux community has excelled in making the switch for beginners as easy as possible by providing guides, howtos, tweaks, and general advocacy articles. When I first made the switch 3 years ago, I found the community welcoming me with open hands on forums, IRC channels, and E-mail, I was surprised how helpful these penguins were! For this, I feel obliged to give back to the community that has always been there for me. To pass down the torch to newer Linux generations. Over here I compiled a list of 7 habits that I feel someone has told me when I started out. I believe that getting into these habits will make the Linux experience more secure, convenient, educational, and ultimately more enjoyable.

10 common mistakes to avoid when you’re installing Linux software: Installing software in Linux is nothing like it used to be, but there are still some pitfalls to watch out for. If you follow this little guide, your Linux life will be made simpler and safer. Note: This information is also available as a PDF download.

Why I Quit Windows and Switched to Linux: It’s funny how some people react when I tell them I use Linux. Sometimes they express the sentiment that I must be very computer savvy. Other’s get caught up in all the brand loyalty hype and still some have never heard of Linux! I kid you not! The truth of the matter is that I switched partly because Windows no longer offered me any challenges and reliability became an issue. The most common question I get asked whenever I present a public speaking seminar is “Why did you switch to Linux?”Well… for all those who asked, here’s the long winded answer.

Creative Tries Again At Linux Drivers: Next to drivers for graphics cards and (Atheros and Broadcom) wireless chipsets, the Creative Labs X-Fi series is one of the most complained about pieces of hardware for its Linux support or there the lack of. The Creative X-Fi sound card series is a few years old, but it wasn’t until a few months ago that open and closed-source drivers started coming about for this hardware. However, this sound card has still been left in a sorry state, but this week Creative Labs has finally pushed out another Sound Blaster X-Fi Linux beta driver. But does this driver correct their wrong doings from the past?

Ubuntu Hardy Heron release candidate flies: The Ubuntu development team today made available a release candidate version of the soon-to-be-released Ubuntu 8.04, codenamed Hardy Heron. The release candidate is the final testing release of Hardy ahead of next week’s final release. What we like: A better selection of default desktop applications, much-improved CD and DVD burning interface and much-needed audio improvements. What we don’t like: Boot speed is still a little slow.

Linux wants to… destroy the desktop?!?: I’ll admit that I’m not a Marvel Comics fan (color me Vertigo), but this one’s got me genuinely stumped: Iron Man is fighting the dark forces of Linux. That’s direct from the writer’s mouth, in fact.

Free Open Source Software Is Costing Vendors $60 Billion?: Talk about FUD. I came across a release this AM titled, “Free Open Source Software Is Costing Vendors $60 Billion,” New Standish Group International Study Finds”. This ‘research’ firm claims in its release that they’ve spent 5 years studying the Open Source market (funny since in the last five years I’ve never heard of the Standish Group). After all that ‘research’ they’ve come to a big conclusion and one that is obviously very debatable.

Seagate Kills Linux Support: It seems that Seagate has opted to forgo compatibility for anyone other than Linux users and that’s a real shame, as I have always been a satisfied Seagate user. And as you might suspect, based on where this article is appearing, I happen to be a full-time Linux user.

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In this week’s Roundup we have a Gartner report stating that Open Source will quietly take over, a comparison of CrossOver Games vs Wine 0.9.58, Nine Improvements Needed in KDE and a couple of articles on Abiword. Microsoft is all over the news with the OOXML vote having taken place and they released 14,000 pages of code in an attempt to make the European Union happy, I have a funny felling it is not going to work. And Rob Enderle shows with up some FUD for your enjoymen

Managing The GRUB Bootloader With QGRUBEditor On Ubuntu 7.10: QGRUBEditor is a graphical frontend for managing the GRUB bootloader. By using QGRUBEditor, you do not have to mess around with the GRUB configuration in /boot/grub/menu.lst anymore. This article shows how to install and use QGRUBEditor on Ubuntu 7.10.

Gartner: Open source will quietly take over: In a few years’ time, almost all businesses will use open source, according to Gartner; even though IT managers may be unaware of it, and prefer to talk about fashions such as software as a service. Open source promoters have welcomed the endorsement by what is seen as a conservative commentator, but predict the changes will go further than Gartner assumes.

How Will Microsoft Answer The Linux Threat?: One of you had the absolute audacity to email me and state that, in fact, Microsoft isn’t even aware of the FOSS and Linux effort…that these Open Source entities are simply existing along side of MS…Microsoft isn’t particularly worried about any impact that Linux or FOSS has on it’s market.

The Ugliness of it All: But what will be the outcome of all this? Let me outline the following steps in Microsoft’s strategy in regard of standardization. This can be described as a pincer movement. First, Microsoft will try to kill ODF….Next in line will be XPS. If you don’t know what XPS is, check it out from the source. Yes, you got that right. PDF reloaded. Now with more patents, OOXML dependencies, and legal traps.

CrossOver Games vs Wine 0.9.58: Here is the first of a two part post of benchmarks that compare the performance of CrossOver Games 7.0 against Wine 0.9.58, I ran four test this round and they are 3DMark 2000, 3DMark 2001, 3DMark 2003 and Aquamark 3.

Nine Improvements Needed in KDE: KDE 4 is a radical overhaul of the popular desktop. It offers broad improvements like the Oxygen desktop theme, SVG graphics, and enhanced speeds thanks to the latest version of the Qt 4 toolkit. It also offers specific improvements such as the font manager and the Dolphin file manager. In short, there’s a lot to like.

Red Hat Asks Federal Court To Limit Patents On Software: Today, Red Hat took a public stand challenging the standards for patenting software. In the Biliski case that is now before the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, this patent issue is ripe for consideration. In a friend of the court brief submitted to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in the Bilski case today, Red Hat describes the special problems that patents pose for open source and seeks modification of the standards for patentable subject matter that take open source into account. Here is a quick summary of our brief.

Look out VirtualPC and VMWare… VirtualBox is in the house: VirtualPC and VMWare have a new (and 100% free contender) called VirtualBox. I took this new piece of software for a spin, and just may be completely removing VMWare and VirtualPC from all of my development machines.

Is open source for Windows worthwhile?:
Over at Seeking Alpha, uber-schmoozer Joe Panettieri (left), now running Nine Lives Media, has one of those pieces that makes me go “waah?” Short version: open source is Microsoft’s secret weapon. Billgatus of Borg close-upThis is not another paeon to Firefox or OpenOffice. Panettieri is talking about Microsoft’s Windows Server business, its true crown jewel, and the effort to make sure open source projects work on it. Specifically he’s talking about working with Spikesource, whom I wrote about earlier today, in certifying programs to work with Windows Server. Open source, he says, is how Windows will kill Linux.

Microsoft discloses 14,000 pages of coding secrets: Microsoft today lifted the lid on 14,000 pages of sketchy versions of tech documentation for core software code. On show for the first time in public are underlying protocols for Office 2007, Office SharePoint Server 2007 and Exchange Server 2007. This is Microsoft’s latest effort to satisfy anti-trust concerns of the European Union, which is possibly a tougher adversary for the company than Google.

Puppeee: Puppy for your Eee PC: The Asus Eee PC ultraportable comes bundled with a version of Xandros as its operating system. If you would like to try a different Linux distro on your Eee, there are plenty of options to choose from, including eeeXubuntu, EeeDora, ZenEee, EeePCLinuxOS, and Puppeee. The latter is based on Puppy Linux, a tiny Linux distribution that sports a few unique features that make it a perfect candidate for use on machines like the Eee PC.

New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem: In this age of multi-core processors and 3-D desktops, some people still get work done on old resource-strapped single-core machines, thanks to programs like the AbiWord word processor. The latest stable AbiWord 2.6.0 release was unveiled last month, two years after the software’s last stable release. Feature-wise, the little cross-platform word processor has closed the gap with heavyweight OpenOffice.org Writer, but it suffers from the oldest Linux ill of all — it’s a pain to install.

Gartner: Windows collapsing under its own weight; Radical change needed: Microsoft’s Windows juggernaut is collapsing as it tries to support 20 years of applications and becomes more complicated by the minute. Meanwhile, Windows has outgrown hardware and customers are pondering skipping Vista to wait for Windows 7. If Windows is going to remain relevant it will need radical changes. That sobering outlook comes courtesy of Gartner analysts Michael Silver and Neil MacDonald. Half of a full room of IT managers and executives raised their hands when asked whether Microsoft needed to radically change its approach to Windows. “Windows is too monolithic,” says Silver.

Open source video editing: what we have now and what we need: Watching the evolution of open source tools for video editing and manipulation over the last 10 years has been less than a thrilling experience. But are things about to change for the better in the near future? Can even the people most disenchanted with the current state of affairs feel tempted to regain a spark of hope?

Abiword 2.6 — You’ve come a long way, baby!: I’ll never forget attending the first LinuxWorld trade show in San Francisco in 1999, and getting a marketing hand-out from the Abiword team that was printed on re-used office paper. Almost 10 years later, the nimble Word clone has gotten to be “as good as they come,” writes Myank Sharma in a detailed Linux.com review.

ISO takes up Open XML-ODF ‘harmonization’ as Norwegians protest: The ISO has taken over control of the Open XML specification and started a committee to consider harmonization with the OpenDocument Format (ODF). Wednesday was the last day that all resolutions to the new standard, called ISO/IEC 29500, were accepted, according to Brian Jones, a program manager for office at Microsoft who has been involved in the standardization process.

Linux’s Performance Advantage: Hardware is always getting faster and with it Windows increases it’s system requierments, but Linux does not. In time, this could be an important factor driving Linux’s success.

cmd.exe for Linux zealots: My goal, Dear Reader, is not to prove anyone, that Windows’ command-line features are identical to those of Linux. To be honest, this text does not aim to cover the Windows shell features, at all. It is not a goal, it is a measure. The goal is to present you with a few thoughts about “the human nature”, as would Agatha Christie say.

From The PMC To The IPhone And Beyond: The Evolution Of The MID And Linux’ Big Break: Analyst Opinion – Last week, I was in China and witnessed the launch of the first generation Mobile Internet Device (MID) platform products based on Intel’s new Atom processor. This got me thinking back to what we had before the MID and why some of those products were successful and others were not. Of course, now we can speculate who will be successful with the MID.

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In this week’s Roundup we have all kinds of ISO and Microsoft related articles like Microsoft’s Great Besmirching, OpenXML ISO approved and Microsoft’s new weapon against open source: stupidity, amongst others. Also we have So why don’t I run Linux?, Time is right for Linux PCs to emerge, Linux’s Impact: The Return of XP and we have a tutorial written by Thomas King on how set up a letterhead in OpenOffice. With April fools just having passed I decided not to have a FUD section this week, it would have been just a little too much fun.

Third Party Driver Modder Threatened by Creative Labs: In a move that has shocked consumers, Creative Labs has ordered Daniel_K to cease providing modified drivers that offer complete functionality for many Sound Blaster audio cards under Windows Vista.

Microsoft’s Great Besmirching: I have been covering Microsoft for over 25 years – I’ve even written a few books about Windows. During that time, I’ve developed a certain respect for a company that just doesn’t give up, and whose ability to spin surpasses even that of politicians. To be sure, Microsoft has crossed the line several times, but it has always worked within the system, however much it has attempted to use it for its own ends. No more: in the course of trying to force OOXML through the ISO fast-track process, it has finally gone further and attacked the system itself; in the process it has destroyed the credibility of the ISO, with serious knock-on consequences for the whole concept of open standards.

Adobe Joins Linux Foundation But Forgets About Flash for Linux: Adobe is joining the Linux Foundation as part of an effort to show its commitment to Linux. It sure sounds all fine and nice, but there is still is a major problem in my view. Adobe does not lead with Linux, it barely stays even with Linux. Adobe’s product releases for Linux.

Reports: OpenXML ISO approved: According to multiple observers, Microsoft’s OpenXML is on its way to becoming an ISO standard. The three sites that have been following the International Organization for Standardization re-vote on the OpenXML standard—Command Line Warriors, Open Malaysia and ConsortiumInfo—are all reporting that, barring some unforeseen circumstances, OpenXML will become an ISO standard. Since none of the authors at these sites is pro-OpenXML, it seems a foregone conclusion that Microsoft was successful in its OpenXML standardization efforts.

Microsoft’s new weapon against open source: stupidity: An Information Week article published last week appears to position Microsoft as trying to do something right when it comes to open source. And it positions the open source community as being not quite ready to make nice after past insults, threats, and abuse. Speaking for myself, I am always ready to see what somebody has to say when they say they want to work with the open source community. Unfortunately, Microsoft seems to be continuing its campaign of defining open source on its own terms, terms that violate the basic principles of our community.

DIS 29500 passes with minimal approval: Please find the official results for the ISO vote for OOXML (DIS 29500) below. Probably the impact on the adoption of ODF of the OOXML process will be minimal, but surely there will be some interest from the public around this. OOXML which was submitted by Microsoft to ECMA, and by ECMA to ISO, has literally crawled through the needles eye.

So why don’t I run Linux?: I’d love to run Linux. I’m ready for Linux. But Linux isn’t quite ready for me. Or perhaps even you. But it’s getting closer.

Setting up a nice looking KDE – For Beginners: KDE is my preferred choice of desktop and every time I install a distribution I spend around an hour customizing it to my taste. Most of the distributions provide customized KDE but most of the customization go into the functional aspect of KDE(which should be the case) . This guide does not intent to point out to a specific choice but rather tells what can be done with a fresh KDE.

School districts serve up lessons in Linux: Windows may boast the lion’s share of the desktop education market, but the economic and technical benefits of open source software has seen many schools and education institutions implement various flavours of Linux across their desktops and server back-ends. In a two-part series, Computerworld investigates the role of Linux and open source software in education institutions in Australia and North America. In this, Part 1, the technology co-ordinator and network support technician from two large school districts in Canada and the US explain why Linux and other open source software is the plat du jour on their education menu.

One step forward: a review of GNOME 2.22: The latest release of the GNOME desktop environment includes a number of significant architectural enhancements and new applications that offer increased power and usability. Released after six months of intensive development, GNOME 2.22 will be included in Ubuntu 8.04 and Fedora 9, which are scheduled for release in April. This article will examine many of the new features and programs included in GNOME 2.22 and illuminate how the changes and improvements impact the overall user experience.

Time is right for Linux PCs to emerge: Prognosticators perennially say Linux is on the verge of gaining desktop traction, yet Linux PCs still represent less than 2 percent of the market. This time, though, there’s actually evidence of momentum. While the best features in Vista require expensive top-notch configurations, one of the hottest segments of the industry involves inexpensive computers.

Phoronix Releases Linux Benchmarking Test Suite: Back in early February we announced that we were in the process of formalizing and releasing our internal test tools as a platform for facilitating easy to use, accurate, and reproducible Linux benchmarks based upon the testing work that we have been doing at Phoronix for the past four years. The goals with this are really to make it easier for Linux end-users to run reliable (both qualitative and quantitative) benchmarks for their own personal use, push more open-source projects to making their software more testable, and pushing hardware and software vendors for greater Linux testing based upon a standardized set of tests.

An OpenOffice Letterhead Tutorial: This tutorial is a guideline on making your own letterhead on Open Office. Although there are letterhead templates in the wild, you may have a design in mind that you can only put together yourself. This should give you enough background information to do this on your own. Depending on how much glitter you want on it, it may take some artistic skill – sorry, I cannot impart that in this document. 🙂

This new small Linux distro could be huge: In this week’s Distrowatch, I read about a new, small Linux distribution called SliTaz GNU/Linux that packs itself into 25 MB of space, loads and runs quickly — and entirely into memory with 128 MB of RAM — and can even run with 16 MB of RAM. Sounds a lot like Damn Small Linux and Puppy, but there’s always room for one more project that runs like the proverbial wind on new hardware (SliTaz features a modern 2.6.24 kernel) and keeps the old hardware I use working as well as it can.

Linux’s Impact: The Return of XP: The good news is that Linux has been remarkably successful at the low end of PCs, the new UMPC (Ultramobile PCs) like Asus’ Eee line and Everex’s CloudBook. Better still, Intel’s new Atom processors were made specifically to power UMPCs and Intel’s cross between a smart phone and a UMPC, the MID (Mobile Internet Device).

Is Ubuntu becoming the generic Linux distro?: Has anyone else noticed an increasing number of Linux newbies who seem to think that Ubuntu is Linux and Linux is Ubuntu?

GNU/Linux: Too Much about Hate, Not Enough about Pride: Ever since I wrote “It’s Time to Get Over Microsoft,” people have demanded in blogs and emails how I could ignore the obvious threat that Microsoft represents to free software. Usually, I ask them to read the article more carefully, and note that it suggests that free software has grown strong enough to take care of itself. The fact that so many free software supporters persist in a negative identity — that is, one defined by not being a Microsoft user — frankly puzzles me when the community has so much to be proud of in its own right.

PenguinPolitik: Only Ballmer could go to Linux: In my previous post about last week’s Microsoft Technology Summit, I talked a little bit about the structure of the event and the overtures that Microsoft seems to be making towards the Open Source community. Some of my esteemed industry colleagues feel that Microsoft is never to be trusted, that they are a snake in the grass and a dangerous aggressor, and they are out to crush anyone who opposes them at any cost.

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LXer Article

In this weeks Roundup we have alternative development tools for Linux, hacker super bowl pits Mac OS Vs. Linux and Vista, is open source anti-American? and What CAN’T Linux do? Also, the Var guy suggests that Costco’s not mentioning Linux in their marketing of the Eee PC is a good thing and in our FUD section we a couple of articles about the OOXML vote and our own Sander Marechal responds to Patrick Durusau’s letter.

9 Improvements Needed in GNOME: Although I regularly use KDE, Xfce, and other desktops for GNU/Linux, I keep returning to GNOME. Sometimes I use the default Metacity window manager, and other times the quicker Sawfish, but, with either choice, GNOME has an uncluttered look that allows me to focus on my work rather than my software. It also contains enough customization that I can easily set my increasingly long list of preferences with a minimum of effort.

Hack Attack : Run Linux Apps Natively On Windows, OSX: Linux has always been the operating system of the geeks and nerds. For some reason Linux has never been able to capture the market like Windows and OS X have managed to do. The main reason for this has been the so called unfriendliness of the Linux OS. But things are changing now with distros like Ubuntu etc..

DirectX 9.0c March 2008 redistributable on Linux with Wine: A guide with screenshots and code samples to show you how to install and run most of the DirectX 9.0c March 2008 redistributable on Linux using Wine.

Summary of Mono’s Danger to GNU/Linux and the Free Desktop: Let us quickly accumulate pointers to posts which summarise the problem and use this page as somewhat an index that makes it easy to understand for those unfamiliar with it.

Alternative Software Development Tools for Linux: Just about every Linux distro comes with a variety of programming tools. Some automatically get installed when you install Linux, and others are available in the distro’s package repositories. But, what if the development tools that come with your distro don’t do the job for you? What if, for example, you want to develop software in Pascal or BASIC, and your distro’s repositories don’t contain tools for those languages?

What CAN’T Linux do?: A few weeks ago a colleague of mine sent me a link to a story about a man who clustered together sixteen Playstation 3s using Linux to simulate black holes. I had forgotten about this until yesterday when I was thinking “What can’t Linux do?” I know, I know, you’re thinking: Alright fanboy, bring on your dogma. Not so. This isn’t one of those pie in the sky, wishful thinking blog entries where I am going to go on to spout that Linux will, in fact: Cure cancer, solve global warming, fix the US economic crisis, and release the world from its dependency on oil (Although it might help in those arenas.)

Developers wanted, or: the state of accelerated video on Linux: A friend of mine (actually, he is also the CEO of a partner company of ZaReason EU) got very interested lately in HTPCs, the so-called home theater PCs. Since he’s also a big fan of Linux and free software and also likes high definition, he asked my opinion and help about the topic, so I started to investigate a little for him.

Is open source anti-American?: While Matt Asay and Paula Rooney chose the meat in Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst’s remarks at OSBC, others chose to play the political game of gotcha. So, is open source anti-American?

Review: The Bad Guys Will Cut Off Your Fingers: Linux has always supported Thinkpads pretty well, though the onboard modems and sound are chronic trouble spots. In this article, Carla Schroder focuses on her Lenovo T61’s integrated fingerprint reader, to see what is involved in getting it to work on Linux.

“Windows tax?” I Don’t Think So…: Here’s the scenario, a friend of mine just bought a new laptop. When he was buying it, he indicated that he did not want windows on it (which should make it cheaper). The response from the vendor: “We can’t do that, it comes with Windows”. When he became a bit more aggressive, they indicated they could give him one without Windows (Vista SP1), but it would cost an extra $70!

The Future of NFS Arrives: NFS was designed by Sun Microsystems in 1984 to connect their systems, and in the process revolutionized the storage industry by allowing file systems to be connected, creating a common view of all the files within an environment. NFS has had some limited updates since then, some for performance, but most of these were minor. Well, the good news is that the future of NFS is almost here.

Hacker Super Bowl Pits Mac OS Vs. Linux, Vista: It’s the most anticipated matchup in the hacker world: Linux versus Mac OS X versus Vista. Who will get hacked first? That’s what organizers of the CanSecWest security conference hope to discover this week as they give show attendees a shot at hacking into the three laptops they’ve put on display here in Vancouver. The catch? They have to use a brand-new ‘zero day’ attack that nobody has seen before. The prize? US$20,000, plus you get to keep the laptop.

The Best Linux Marketing Tip: Don’t Mention Linux: CostCo’s in-store promotional materials for the Eee PC from Asus barely mention that the sub-notebook runs Linux. That may be a smart move.

Why can’t I activate Windows XP?: I tried to activate Windows XP Home and it didn’t work. Thus began a phone saga with Microsoft support, ending in failure. Until I fixed it myself. I’m trying to activate Windows XP Home. I’ve just performed a clean setup, and Windows now won’t let me even login until I activate. The network card has apparently not yet been configured, so I can’t activate over the ‘net. When I do the phone activation, the “installation ID” I’m supposed to give the Microsoft representative is blank. What do I do? That question wasn’t posed by just any reader. This time it was me. And after an hour and a half on the phone, I was no further along. And yet, left to my own devices I had the machine activated in about 10 minutes. This is not good. Not at all. In fact, it’s downright depressing.

ODF editor: ODF loses if OOXML does: The editor of the Open Document Format (ODF) standard has written a letter that strongly supports recognizing Microsoft’s Open Office XML (OOXML) file format as a standard, arguing that if it fails, ODF will suffer. As the editor of OpenDocument, I want to promote OpenDocument, extol its features, urge the widest use of it as possible, none of which is accomplished by the anti-OpenXML position in ISO,” Patrick Durusau wrote. “The bottom line is that OpenDocument, among others, will lose if OpenXML loses. … Passage of OpenXML in ISO is going to benefit OpenDocument as much as anyone else.”

A response to Patrick Durusau: Who Loses If OpenXML Loses?: This is a response to Patrick Durusau’s recent letter Who loses if OpenXML loses?. The only one who loses if DIS 29500 fails is Microsoft, whose Office 2007 cashcow will run into trouble. Everyone else, including the OpenDocument Format, do not need an ISO stamp of approval on DIS 29500. The current Ecma 376 standard, flawed as it is, is more than enough to work with. Read more to find out why.

Expert: Fast-track ISO bid for OOXML is fair: A European standards expert has defended the move to fast-track the ISO approval process for Microsoft’s Open XML (OOXML) document standard, dismissing criticisms that the decision to do so is flawed and unfair. He advised governments against mandating just one document standard as it may run foul of polices set by the World Trade Organization (WTO), opening themselves to possible legal challenges. “One of the big concerns of the WTO is that you should not use standards as a barrier to trade,” he said. “If a government enforces [the use of one standard], that would mean the whole country is not allowed to use OOXML. They could get into a very difficult legal situation as this could be challenged legally,” noted van den Beld.

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