Monthly Archive for January, 2009

Tantalising tidbits

A few things I have to blog about before I forget..

IBM has released the Lotus Symphony office suite for OS X (version 10.5 only).
If you love Ubuntu, check out the Ubuntu Pocket Guide which is now free to download.
Lastly, KDE 4.2 has just been released and while I’ve been saying “This time for sure” repeatedly since 4.0, this time I think it really is “for sure”.

I installed it and I was very impressed. It no longer feels like beta software, which is nice! Unfortunately some important things are still missing (please correct me if I’m wrong!), namely:
NetworkManager support (though there is a plasmoid on the way)
Bluetooth userspace tools
Amarok 2.x
K3B Qt4

I did build K3B from source and it looks and works quite well, though the port is not finished yet.
If you like KDE but are sticking to 3.5.x and don’t need NetworkManager support (whatever did we do in the old days?) then check it out.


Under the Arch

As the editor for the DistroWatch weekly newsletter, I often write reviews of Linux distributions.

For this week’s release I’ve completed a review of Arch Linux. As it was a lot of work, I figured I’d post it here rather than just in the newsletter..

There is a podcast for it too (10MB).

The DistroWatch Weekly is released every Monday and includes a summary of distribution related news, a feature article, as well as current and upcoming distribution releases.

Beware Seagate series 11 drives..

Ars Technica has an article about issues with Seagate series 11 drives. If you have one, I suggest you take a look and see if your model is affected.

I have a 1TB ST31000333AS model which, so far, doesn’t appear to suffer any issues. However, I’m tempted to switch brands in the future.

Welcome to Tassie, ranga!

So I’m down in Hobart for 2009 and naturally I’m having a great time. Yesterday, I was walking down the street on my way to the hotel when some Taswegian, his heads hanging out of the car window, yelled “RANGA!!“.

I suddenly had flashbacks to highschool.

Linux as a New Year’s Resolution

Ash Pringle from zmogo has posted his final day and conclusion to his New Year Linux Resolution.

What I like:

* The speed: This is something I haven’t really mentioned before, but Linux is fast. I didn’t even notice until I went back and used my stupid Windows PC, which apparently confers to an international committee that must perform an arduous deliberation about whether to open Firefox every time I click the icon. Every operating system should run this fast.

* The comprehensive antivirus software: Which doesn’t exist because Linux doesn’t need it! Half the reason my Windows PC is so slow is because my antivirus software performs an unwarranted anal cavity search on every program I even think about running. It defeats the purpose of even having antivirus software, since it makes my computer run just as slow as if it were bogged down with all the junk it protects me from. With Linux there are no worries about that sort of thing, and it brings quite a peace of mind.

* The fire-writing desktop effect: How did I not notice this earlier? There is nothing more potent than the ability to write on your desktop in pure fire. Although I kind of half expect my computer to start sending me creepy messages about unsolved murders if I leave this effect on.

* The cost: Nothing! It’s, like, totally free! Like, free as hell, man. Its free-ness is akin to the freedom of not wearing pants when you’re home alone. If it were any free-er it would probably give you money.

* The clock: It lets you show you the calendar date, and even the weather! I could never understand why XP and the Mac OS never let you show the calendar date next to the time. It’s a little thing, but it’s those sorts of little details that make an operating system that much nicer. I mean, I don’t have to double click on the calendar hanging on my wall to check the date, do I Microsoft? Get with the times! (Pun totally intended, even though it’s really not very good.)

* File name-changes: When you change a file’s name Ubuntu doesn’t highlight the file’s extension. This is another detail that just shows the developers’ attention to usability. Give me one reason why I’d want to change the extension of a file every time I changed it’s name, XP. What’s that? That’s right, you can’t give me any reasons. Now go to your room!

* The pre-loaded software: Every operating system ought to come with basic office tools and programs. It just makes sense.

* The Add/Remove Programs application: Another feature that just makes sense. Hey other operating systems, why not include the option to quickly and easily obtain useful applications? Are you trying to hide something from us? Now go to your room!

* The soft purr of Sir Alphonso, my incredibly fat cat: As it eats three-day-old cheetos off my floor. Aw, you probabwy have diabwetes. Yes you do! Yes you do!



Vietnam going open source

Image from appears that this year will be the year of the penguin, at least for the Vietnamese Government where the Ministry of Information and Communications has issued instruction that “by June 30, 2009, 100% of servers of IT divisions of government agencies must be installed with open source software; 100% of staffs at these IT divisions must be trained in the use of these software products and at least 50% use them proficiently.”

The instruction also said that by December 31, 2009, 70% of servers of ministries’ agencies and local state agencies must be installed with the above open source software products and 70% of IT staff trained in using this software; and at least 40% able to use the software in their work.

There’s not much talk about what systems they are going to use, other than “OpenOffice, email software for servers of Mozilla ThunderBird, Mozilla FireFox web browser and the Vietnamese typing software Unikey.”

I wonder how much research has gone into this and whether they will release information on cost savings, planning, etc. If so, it could be a good catalyst for other nations in the area to follow suit. Hello, Mr Rudd?

I would also be interested to hear some official word about file formats and whether they have a digital archive!

Chúc mừng năm mới! (Happy new year!)

Let’s be firmware about this

I’m not an expert on this subject matter, nor a Debian developer, but I do love Debian. I couldn’t help but be disheartened by the results of the vote on firmware in Lenny.

Assume blobs comply with the GPL unless proven otherwise.

BAH! Seriously, what the hell are you guys thinking? If I wanted this sort of crap I’d use Ubuntu! Sure it’s just firmware, but why not distribute the NVIDIA driver too? Afterall it hasn’t be proven in court as to whether it complies with the GPL or not.

How hard is it to just release Lenny with the current GPL-compliant open source firmware and let end users install other binary blobs at their own discretion? I just don’t understand how you can distribute that which you have no idea what it does. Maybe I’m missing something, but this just seems so wrong.