LXer Weekly Roundup for 14-Mar-2010

Posted by Scott_Ruecker on Mar 15, 2010 12:05 PM
LXer Linux News; By Scott Ruecker (Phoenix, U.S.)


LXer Feature: 15-Mar-2010

This past week on LXer we had Jonathan Schwartz reminiscing in "Good Artists Copy, Great Artists Steal", a newbies guide to hacking the Linux kernel, Phoronix reviews power and memory usage in the various desktop environments, Former Sun chief open source officer Simon Phipps joins the OSI board, Jack Deslippe explains why he no longer uses Apple products and last but not least my editorial on why Windows users have no Choice. Enjoy!

Windows: Choice But No Choice: In the area of window managers Linux users are completely and totally spoiled rotten. We constantly debate the merits of one desktop environment/window manager over another. We argue over what programs are better than others, what versions of those programs we like over another and getting in world class pissing contests all the while crying about what we wish they would do better or differently. I wish Windows users had this problem, but they don't. Why? Because they have no choice.

Good Artists Copy, Great Artists Steal: In 2003, after I unveiled a prototype Linux desktop called Project Looking Glass*, Steve called my office to let me know the graphical effects were “stepping all over Apple’s IP.” (IP = Intellectual Property = patents, trademarks and copyrights.) If we moved forward to commercialize it, “I’ll just sue you.” My response was simple. “Steve, I was just watching your last presentation, and Keynote looks identical to Concurrence – do you own that IP?” Concurrence was a presentation product built by Lighthouse Design, a company I’d help to found and which Sun acquired in 1996. Lighthouse built applications for NeXTSTEP, the Unix based operating system whose core would become the foundation for all Mac products after Apple acquired NeXT in 1996. Steve had used Concurrence for years, and as Apple built their own presentation tool, it was obvious where they’d found inspiration. “And last I checked, MacOS is now built on Unix. I think Sun has a few OS patents, too.” Steve was silent.

Ubuntu, The Ultimate Linux Distribution: Ubuntu. If you've ever tried it, you'll agree that it is the ultimate Linux distribution. From its Debian roots to its commercially available support to its overwhelming popularity, Ubuntu is the ultimate Linux distribution. For me, Ubuntu became a significant force within the Linux community with its 2006 releases: 6.04 and 6.10. From April 2006, I've installed and used every new version and anticipate each new one the way a child anticipates toys on Christmas morning. But, have you ever wondered why is Ubuntu the ultimate Linux distribution? Why is it so popular? Why did Canonical choose Debian as its distribution template? And, why did Mark Shuttleworth believe in Linux so much that he chose to create Canonical to support it?

The newbie's guide to hacking the Linux kernel: You don't need a PhD in computer science and years of experience to hack the kernel. Sure, they help, but the nature of Linux development means that it's open to all by default. All you have to do is get stuck in. You use the Linux kernel in whatever shape or form every day; wouldn't you feel just the tiniest swell of pride if you'd helped work on it, no matter in how small a way?

Power & Memory Usage Of GNOME, KDE, LXDE & Xfce: Xfce, LXDE, and other desktop environments are often referenced as being lighter-eight Linux desktop environments than KDE and GNOME, but what are the measurable performance differences between them? Curious how much of a quantitative impact the GNOME, KDE, Xfce, and LXDE desktops have on netbook systems, we carried out a small set of tests to look at the differences in memory usage, battery power consumption, and thermal performance.

Microsoft's Internet Driving Licence: stupid, unworkable and unenforceable: Barely a day goes by when you switch on your computer, plug into the web and come across yet another deranged scheme to restrict freedom in the name of security, safety or morality. RIAA, DMCA, RIPA, Pallidium computing, the list almost seems to grow exponentially. So, some guys got together in a dark room, brainstormed and came up with yet another ruse to curtail access to and use of the internet. Relax, this one won’t fly. Trust me. But the sheer audacity of it! Even the bovine docility of Windows users wouldn’t stomach this one (or would they?)—and here’s the irony. Read the full article at Freesoftware Magazine.

Open Source Saves the Day: Case studies of open source success are always useful - especially when, like this one, they show how a UK government project that cost £100 million ($150 million) using traditional approaches but still didn't work properly, was fixed for just £35,000 ($53,000) using free software.

Why I don't use Apple products: In the important realm of science, technology and ideas, I believe that the continual conversion of ideas and development effort into the private property of companies like Apple is a great threat to continued free innovation.

Attorney: IBM-Novell worked together to hurt SCO: Novell Inc. lied about owning the copyrights for the Unix computer operating system then collaborated with IBM to damage Unix owner The SCO Group, the latter's attorney told a federal court jury Tuesday. In the first day of testimony in a trial to settle a long-running legal dispute between SCO and Novell, SCO went on the attack by calling as its first witness the former CEO and chairman of Novell. Robert Frankenberg testified that despite Novell's claims of ownership, his intent was to sell the copyrights in a 1995 deal that's at the heart of the conflict.

Will Simon Phipps Energize OSI? : Former Sun chief open source officer Simon Phipps is joining the Open Source Initiative (OSI) board effective April 1st. Let's hope Phipps can shake the organization up a bit. I'd hazard a guess that many newcomers to the open source community are partially or even wholly unaware of the OSI and what it's meant to do, because the OSI has not been a terribly dynamic organization over the past few years. The OSI is considered the steward of the Open Source Definition (OSD), and is the body that approves new open source licenses. But its influence has been considerably on the wane for some time now.

Why Use GRUB2? Good Question! (part 3): As we come to the end of Akkana Peck's excellent series on mastering GRUB2, it's not clear what advantages it has over legacy GRUB, or even good old LILO. It seems it's gone backwards. In today's installment we learn how to translate some common and mysterious error messages, and how to manage a multi-boot system with GRUB2.

Commercial Gaming, Coming Soon to Linux?: The inability to play the latest off the shelf commercial games has been a thorn in the side of Linux for a long time. With companies such as Valve starting to embrace other platforms, will that be the catalyst Linux needs to become a first class citizen?

More Reasons Why Chrome OS Will Be Your Extra Operating System: Google CEO Eric Schmidt, speaking at a conference in Abu Dhabi this week, confirmed that the Chrome OS operating system is on track for delivery in the second half of this year. While we already know that it’s headed for netbooks, there are new reasons to believe that its brightest future may be as an adjunct OS on netbooks and tablets. Google is taking several big gambles with its upcoming OS, not the least of which is that it will require users to work with all data in the cloud. That will rule out countless applications and utilities that are, in some cases, beloved to users, and there is a good chance that Google’s cloud-only gamble could backfire. But what if Google adopts an “if you can’t beat them, join them” strategy with its Linux-based operating system, and oversees its shipment on netbooks and tablet devices alongside other OSes?

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