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Archive for September, 2011

Adios, MeeGo

September 29, 2011 1 comment

First things first: As most of you already know, I’m not much of a mobile guy. “Mobile” to me means carrying the Targus backpack with the ThinkPad nestled snugly inside. I long ago tired of cleaning up the Pavlovian slobber that many writers and bloggers have produced when it comes to the inevitable “march” from real computers to handheld devices. So rather than fight it, my efforts center around keeping my eyes from glazing over when the reading about the subject.

However, this is not to say that I ignore FOSS and mobile completely.

So with that caveat firmly in place, read on: MeeGo is going the way of the dodo and, in the face of what seemed to be an earlier commitment by Intel to MeeGo, will be replaced by Tizen.

You’ve probably seen this already in the FOSS media, so I won’t labor the point. Sponsored by the LiMo Foundation and the Linux Foundation, Tizen’s development will be led by Intel and Samsung. It will emphasize HTML5 apps and support multiple device categories including tablets, handsets, smart TVs and in-vehicle entertainment.

MeeGo’s Imad Sousou urges MeeGo developers to join in the effort in a blog item featured on the MeeGo site. “Over the next couple of months, we will be working very hard to make sure that users of MeeGo can easily transition to Tizen, and I will be working even harder to make sure that developers of MeeGo can also transition to Tizen,” Sousou writes.

On the surface, this change doesn’t lend itself to the appearance of a whole lot of stability. If recent history serves, Maemo and Moblin combined to become MeeGo, and MeeGo was left at the altar, so to speak, by Nokia when a former Microsoft executive took the reins at Nokia and embraced — surprise! — Windows Phone 7.

Perhaps the most poignant observation of this, um, “transition” is made by Ryan Paul in an article he wrote for Ars Technica: “By starting over on the userspace stack and switching to a new set of development tools, Tizen is throwing the existing MeeGo community and a lot of open source labor under the bus. Getting existing contributors and third-party developers who were burned by MeeGo involved in the new effort could prove challenging.”

That’s hard to argue, but I hope Ryan is wrong here and I hope that current MeeGo developers will heed Sousou’s call to join Tizen.

Nevertheless, I’m going to give the LiMo and Linux foundations the benefit of the doubt in this case and trust that they’re going to release a version of this operating system in the digital wild next spring that will make us all proud.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

[FSF Associate Member] (Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)

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Button, button, who’s got the button?

September 28, 2011 Leave a comment

A while back, someone asked me where I got the buttons at the bottom of this, and other, Larry the Free Software Guy blog items. Some of them I inherited a long, long time ago, and if you go back to the first Larry the Free Software Guy blogs, you can find which is which.

However, some of them are new, and because they didn’t exist when I first started the blog, I had to either go look for them or make them myself.

Let’s talk about making them one’s self, because it’s fairly easy thanks to a few sites, namely the Brilliant Button Maker and Zwalen Design, and Adam Kalsey’s site.

Using one of these three, you can make buttons like the ones below for your favorite program, or blog, or whatever.

Give it a shot. Also, if you’d like to use any of the buttons below, have at it.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

[FSF Associate Member] (Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)

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Categories: GNU/Linux, linux, Linux Tags: ,

Linux users, start your engines

September 26, 2011 4 comments

Unless you’re a motorhead to a varying degree — and an older one at that — you probably don’t know who John Cooper is. His contributions in racing circles — putting the engine behind the driver in his Cooper Formula 1 cars in the late 1950s — would normally cement his place in automotive history, but he didn’t stop there.

The thing for which Cooper is more widely known is modifying the British Motor Corporation’s Mini in the 1960s, adding his name to make it the Mini Cooper while adding a higher degree of performance that won the little car that could a warehouse full of rally trophies and Sports Car Club of America club racing victories.

Around the same time as the development of the first Mini Coopers, across the pond in America Carroll Shelby took the Ford Mustang and with a vision of making it faster and better, he gave us the Shelby Mustang along with the whole Shelby Cobra series (not to mention, later, the Dodge Viper). Shelby’s association with Ford started a trend in the U.S. of taking a mass produced car and making it into a high performance machine.

So go ahead and ask: “Larry the Free Software Guy, what the heck does this have to do with Linux and FOSS?”

It’s simple. Linux and FOSS has their own versions of John Cooper and Carroll Shelby making high performance versions of mass produced distros, building on the foundation of one of the “big three” Linux distros to make fire-breathing, pixel-burning distros; distros that are the digital equivalent of vehicles that are more than just for taking the kids to soccer practice or zipping over to the grocery store.

Not everyone can drive a Cobra or a Testarossa, nor does everyone want to. But knowing that the option is there, and that there are people out there providing those options, is one of Linux/FOSS’s strengths.

We see this in distros like Kororaa, where Chris Smart and his team once based their distro on Gentoo and switched “manufacturers” to use Fedora in producing a solid, quick distro that works well right out of the box.

Jeff Hoogland and his band of developers at Bodhi Linux marry the lightweight Enlightenment desktop environment to Ubuntu. A combination of the lightweight desktop and the users’ choice of what to include in their own digital vehicle makes this perhaps the best combination of getting the best performance out of one’s machine.

Pixel-burning performance is one of the hallmarks at Crunchbang. Philip Newborough, a web developer and GNU/Linux enthusiast living and working in Lincoln, England, takes John Cooper’s legacy to heart — in a digital sense — while he and his team provide a Openbox-based window manager with Debian rumbling under the hood.

We even see this high performance riff on the enterprise Linux side, where in a digital “garage” Derek Carter, Clint Savage and others are gearing up GoOSe Linux. This project deserves special mention because not only is the performance measured on the instruments, but also on the community building process in an enterprise realm.

Examples are abundant, and forgive me if I don’t get to all of them. There are others who deserve mention: Salix OS provides a distro worthy of flamed fenders and racing stripes. Kenneth Granerud had a high performance distro in Wolvix which, due to some personal upheavals, became dormant, but in talking with him recently we might see it come back sometime soon.

So when someone complains about the fact that there are 320-something distros out there, bear in mind many of them are not for everyone.

So buckle up, and let’s be careful out there.

[FSF Associate Member] (Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)

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Kororaa Linux 15 released

September 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Several weeks ago, I put Kororaa 14 “Nemo” through its paces and liked it a lot. Chris Smart and his colleages at Kororaa do a great job in producing a distro based on Fedora, and Smart announced last week the release of Kororaa Linux 15 “Squirt.”

Based on the Fedora 15 release, Squirt features both KDE SC 4.6 and GNOME 3 desktop environments (as well as including a desktop switcher for GNOME 3, so that users can switch between the new Shell interface and the 2.x style Fallback mode), and it is available for download for both 32-bit and 64-bit architectures.

Squirt highlights include:

  • Customized GNOME 3 desktop environment
  • Customized KDE SC 4.6 desktop environment
  • Default browser: Mozilla Firefox 6
  • Out-of-the-box multimedia support
  • VLC as default video player
  • Extra repositories for installing Adobe Flash Player, Google Chrome, RPMFusion and VirtualBox
  • Gwibber and Choqok microblogging clients
  • Adobe Flash Player installer
  • Jockey Device Driver Manager to easily install Nvidia and ATI video drivers
  • Shell and Fallback desktops switcher for GNOME 3
  • OpenShot and Kdenlive video editors
  • SELinux enabled
  • Linphone VoIP client (for the KDE edition)
  • Want to take a look? Download it here.

    [FSF Associate Member] (Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)

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    Categories: Kororaa Tags:

    Sometimes the best response is a shrug

    September 22, 2011 3 comments

    This week there was a sort of back-and-forth starting with Brian Proffitt in one blog item about Richard Stallman’s somewhat verbose Guardian article and a response by Bruce Byfield in a blog item about how he notices that lately people are picking on the Free Software Foundation. This kind of tete-a-tete is normally custom made for my participation, and last night I had thought about jumping in with both feet and an arm.

    But you know what? Never mind. Just never mind. I had a whole blog item written last night. I went to bed. I woke up this morning and read my item. Then I deleted it. It’s just another “fuel, meet fire” situation that, despite my standard-issue remarkable and compelling prose (ahem), would have just removed focus from more important issues and would have created ill feelings.

    So I’m just going to shrug, say “Ho-kay,” and write about something else.

    Before I do, however, I will say that I do think Brian is right when he says that the Guardian article is another FSF broadside against open source, and that I don’t agree with Bruce’s arguments that the FSF is being picked on. Let’s look more importantly at the latter: The FSF does a lot of great things on behalf of software freedom, and does so with remarkably few resources. For this we are truly thankful. On the other hand, the FSF tragically has made an exact science of cultivating a “my way or highway” attitude (bring up dissenting viewpoints, as I have, and see how far you go), which makes its prevalent dogmatic stance a formula for organizational rigor mortis. For this reason alone (though there are others I won’t go into here), the FSF hand-delivers invitations for criticism — some of it deserved, some not — rather than than being victims of attacks for whatever reason externally. For all the great things he has done, Richard Stallman is largely responsible for this culture of dogma and rigidity, and when some — not me, but others — equate the FSF to being the FOSS equivalent of the Taliban, I’d like to argue against that comparison but, honestly, I really can’t.

    But never mind.

    Let’s go from one train wreck to another, shall we?

    One of the items that is high on the tech radar today is the fact that Hewlett-Packard is about to push Leo Apotheker off the top of the building (the sentiments of some board members, it’s safe to say) and replace him with — I kid you not — Meg Whitman.

    Meg Whitman. I would have prefered Slim Whitman — link to Wikipedia provided so the kids here don’t have to Google him. So while you read who he is, get off of my lawn.

    This Whitman-for-Apotheker swap has been described as a “hangover solution” in one ZDNet blog item, a sort of “hair of the dog” after an all-night bender where the first question is, “I did . . . WHAT?!” And the best decisions are usually not made when you’re hung over. Hence we have Meg Whitman waiting in the wings when, according to people at HP, they have a very capable CEO choice in house with Ann Livermore.

    While it would probably be best for HP to keep someone in house at the helm — that’s one vote for you, Ann, over Meg — whomever takes over hopefully will say, with one of their first utterances in charge, “Remember what we said about dumping our hardware and WebOS? We take that back.”

    That would be nice, but on the whole that, too, probably deserves another shrug.

    [FSF Associate Member] (Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)

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    Linux desktop: Not pining for the fjords

    September 20, 2011 16 comments

    When radio became a popular form of entertainment, the prevailing wisdom of the time provided that live theater was dead. Of course, this so-called “wisdom” was just a little off, since live theater “survived” the onslaught of radio entertainment and still lives to this day.

    When television became ubiquitous in households across the land, the death knell for movie theaters and radio was sounded by the day’s pundits. There would be no reason to go to the movie theater any longer. Of course, they were wrong again, since movie theaters and radio still exist and are an integral part of the social landscape.

    Even the death sentence for newspapers at the hands of the Internet — not the fault so much of the Internet as it is of bean-counting pinheads in publishers’ offices around the world — is still widely premature, though admittedly it doesn’t look good for the printed word.

    Now there’s the future — or lack thereof — of Linux desktop, where tech writers are tripping over each other recently to announce its untimely demise.

    I’ll just let time prove them wrong.

    The problem is, to paraphrase the oft-quoted (and misquoted) Mark Twain on this particular topic, the report of its death is an exaggeration (the popular misquote, “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” admittedly sounds better than what Twain wrote to the New York Journal is 1897: ” . . . the report of my death was an exaggeration.”).

    Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols points out in a recent article that the resounding butt-kicking that Android and Chrome are laying on the digital world these days doesn’t bode well for the Linux desktop. Vaughan-Nichols links to a blog post by Jason Perlow that says that, essentially, we are entering the post-PC era in which, while the x86 may be dead, personal computing across different-sized hardware will continue.

    I can see this and generally have no qualms with that, however I think this sales pitch for a brave new world of tablets and smartphones goes overboard. Arguably, what Perlow describes doesn’t sound like post-PC, but rather PC-plus-(fill in your additional hardware here).

    Linux’s success in the non-desktop realm is hardly an accident and I am neither belittling it nor taking this for granted. On the contrary: Linux’s superiority in servers, supercomputers and mobile provide resounding proof that it is a successful operating system, to the point where “the year of the desktop” has now become laughable since it is no longer the standard by which Linux’s success should be gauged (if that was ever the case in the first place).

    Yet, to those risking injury jumping on the Linux-desktop-is-dead bandwagon, my question is this: Does Linux’s skyrocketing use and popularity in the mobile and tablet realms necessarily mean the “death” of something else in Linux, like — oh, I don’t know — the desktop, as some sort of technological quid pro quo?

    I’d say “no,” and I’m willing to bet history has my back.

    This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

    [FSF Associate Member] (Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)

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    A very quick look at Windows 8

    September 15, 2011 Leave a comment

    OK, so with most of the rest of the curious digirati, I tried Windows 8 beta developer yadda yadda whatever version that was available yesterday from our, ahem, friends in Redmond.

    I never thought I’d see a desktop that would make me appreciate Unity.

    Windows 8 is the desktop equivalent of the old guy wearing a striped shirt with his plaid Bermuda shorts and white socks with his sandals.

    To quote Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

    This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

    [FSF Associate Member] (Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)

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