LXer Weekly Roundup for 09-Dec-2012

Posted by Scott_Ruecker on Dec 10, 2012 1:15 AM
LXer Linux News; By Scott Ruecker (Phoenix, U.S.)

LXer Feature: 09-Dec-2012

The latest installment of the Weekly Roundup. Enjoy!

Return of the King: GNOME 2 Is Making Its Way Back: With all the drama and pathos that plays out each and every day here in the Linux blogosphere, the temptation to equate the stories of today with classic tales from the world of literature can sometimes be overwhelming. Take the world of Linux desktops, for example. For years the users lived happily under the reign of GNOME 2; suddenly, Unity and GNOME 3 appeared on the horizon.

Comment: OpenOffice's Tale of Two Cities: Failure in Freiburg, success in Munich. Experiences with open source software in the public sector couldn't be more different. If there's a lesson to be drawn from this, it's "go the whole hog or not at all". At first sight it looks pretty straightforward – a licence for Microsoft Office Professional 2010 costs just under €400. Add that up over 10,000 workplaces (as is the case in Munich's city administration) and it comes to more than €4 million. For open source alternatives OpenOffice and LibreOffice, by contrast, licensing costs are zero, so you've saved at least €4 million. In view of the state of public finances, you'd think that would be the end of the discussion..

Large-tablet roundup: iPad vs. Nexus 10 vs. Surface: Microsoft and Google have both come out with their own large-size tablets to take on the iPad. So which of the three is the best? We took the fourth-generation iPad, the Google Nexus 10 and the Microsoft Surface and put them through the paces to determine which tablet is the best for everyday tasks. We did the same a few weeks ago with small-size tablets and determined that the iPad mini was the clear champ, and you can read more about that here.

Scientists Create Virtual Human Brain, Runs on Linux: Called "Spaun," it consists of 2.5 million virtual neurons and can process visual information and draw very simple answers to a limited range of questions about its visual memory. It does not really "learn" new things in the formal way but the processing ability is unprecedented. Spaun was created using the Nengo simulation software package, and run on clusters Orca and Kraken of the SharcNet High Performance Computing Consortium. In other words, it is run on a Linux based supercomputer. It takes up about 24GB of ram and takes about 2.5 hours of processing for one second of simulated time.

Linux Has Not Won, Microsoft is as Dangerous as Ever, Fie on Secure Boot: I think UEFI Secure Boot is a shuck and a bald-faced Microsoft anti-competitive tool. I'll get to my reasons in a moment, because my most important point comes first: Every purchase of a Windows license is an attack on Linux. Linux has not won, and Microsoft is as dangerous as ever.

Correction on Secure Boot Article: This is an important correction to "Linux Has Not Won, Microsoft is as Dangerous as Ever, Fie on Secure Boot" that explains correctly how the Platform Key works.

Intended To Fail?: The move away from open source solutions by the German city of Freiburg didn't seem to add up. With some help from German friends I've dug into the report - and it is indeed suspect. We recently saw the news that the German city of Freiburg had decided to end its open source migration and instead switch to using Microsoft products again. The rationale provided seemed curious to me - after all, at the same time the German city of Munich announced total savings amounting to €10 million from its own successful and ongoing migration. What seemed odd was there was no account of how they changed course to make the migration succeed. Munich learned lessons from early challenges and updated its strategy in order to succeed. But not Freiburg.

Ubuntu Spyware: What to Do?: One of the major advantages of free software is that the community protects users from malicious software. Now Ubuntu GNU/Linux has become a counterexample. What should we do? Proprietary software is associated with malicious treatment of the user: surveillance code, digital handcuffs (DRM or Digital Restrictions Management) to restrict users, and back doors that can do nasty things under remote control. Programs that do any of these things are malware and should be treated as such. Widely used examples include Windows, the iThings, and the Amazon "Kindle" product for virtual book burning, which do all three; Macintosh and the Playstation III which impose DRM; most portable phones, which do spying and have back doors; Adobe Flash Player, which does spying and enforces DRM; and plenty of apps for iThings and Android, which are guilty of one or more of these nasty practices.

On Richard Stallman and Ubuntu: This is a personal post and does not neccessarily represent the views of Canonical or the Ubuntu community.. Today Richard Stallman, founder of the GNU project and Free Software Foundation wrote a critical post accusing Ubuntu of shipping spyware (which is referring to the online search capabilities of the Ubuntu dash). He goes on to suggest “in your Software Freedom Day events, in your FLISOL events, don’t install or recommend Ubuntu. Instead, tell people that Ubuntu is shunned for spying.“. This is FUD.

Rights? You have no right to your eBooks: Amazon unwittingly mounts a perfect demonstration why you should not trust Kindle as a place to purchase books.

10 years of Creative Commons: The creators of the Creative Commons licensing suite are celebrating the licences' tenth birthday. As part of the festivities, local groups are organising events all over the world from 7 to 16 December. The organisation behind Creative Commons was founded in 2001 and produced and published the first set of licences in December of the following year. The organisation was founded by, among others, law school professor and political activist Lawrence Lessig, with the goal of giving both creators and consumers of content more freedoms than are usually afforded under traditional copyright licences.

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