Category Archives: Open Source Software

Why is Oracle Playing the Bad Guy in the Open Source world? Is Java next now that OpenSolaris is dead?

Oracle, as we all knew was a supporter of Open Source standards. However, a recent turn of events has forced me to think otherwise.

Oracle took over Sun Microsystems with a view of monetizing the Open Source technologies Sun held under its banner. There was no harm in that. However, it totally failed to understand the basic mindset of a community process and maintain an enthusiastic community around free and open source software.

Oracle started pissing off everyone with a total lack of communication, with red tapes and finally, it is showing its true colors with today’s event of  sending OpenSolaris to the grave. Killing off OpenSolaris, as speculated by many, might just be a start of some unexpected yet unsurprising events from Oracle.

Today, Oracle holds two flagship technologies, an enterprise DBMS and a complete programming platform in the form of Java besides many other major technologies. However, Oracle’s recent attack on Google over Java is a well-calculated move. Oracle is looking to make some good profits out of the Intellectual Property infringement of Java.  However, if Google has been able to innovate to this massive level using Java, maybe Oracle should take the cue and try to innovate instead of litigating!

Google has finally responded to the Oracle claim saying,

We are disappointed Oracle has chosen to attack both Google and the open-source Java community with this baseless lawsuit. The open-source Java community goes beyond any one corporation and works every day to make the web a better place. We will strongly defend open-source standards and will continue to work with the industry to develop the Android platform.

Back in the good old days, Sun Microsystems allowed Java’s Intellectual Property to be used freely and never interfered with any company on this matter. If Oracle successfully wins this allegation against Google, the whole matter will simply scare away all businesses based around Java and can have a devastating effect on Java.

In short, these actions from Oracle can virtually kill Java too. As the case against Google builds up, we will have a better picture of the future of Java.

(Google’s Response via Engadget)

Oracle Has Killed OpenSolaris

There was no need for the OpenSolaris Governing Board to kill OpenSolaris at all, Oracle was already planning to do it  themselves.

In an internal email sent to OpenSolaris development team by Mike Shapiro, Bill Nesheim and Chris Armes, they have informed the OpenSolaris Development Team that the OpenSolaris project has been discontinued. Oracle will now be focusing their resources on Solaris 11 and there will be no other binary distributions including OpenSolaris.

This is what they wrote:

All of Oracle’s efforts on binary distributions of Solaris technology  will be focused on Solaris 11. We will not release any other binary  distributions, such as nightly or bi-weekly builds of Solaris  binaries, or an OpenSolaris 2010.05 or later distribution.

In the same email, they have also announced that they will release an open-source version of Solaris 11 as Solaris 11 Express. However, unlike OpenSolaris which is released way ahead of the commercial product, Solaris 11 Express will not be released ahead of the commercial version. It will be released after the commercial product have already shipped.

We will have a Solaris 11 binary distribution, called Solaris 11  Express, that will have a free developer RTU license, and an optional  support plan. We will  determine a simple, cost-effective means of getting enterprise users  of prior OpenSolaris binary releases to migrate to S11 Express.

The email has since then been leaked and you can see it here. There has been no official words from Oracle so far.

What are your thoughts on Oracle killing off the OpenSolaris Project?

Ubuntu Packages Are Now Compatible With Puppy Linux

Puppy Linux is a very light weight Linux distribution. With the latest release, that is Puppy Linux 5.1 codenamed Lucid Puppy, it has become binary compatible with Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx. This means that Puppy Linux 5.1 can use the packages (applications) meant for Ubuntu Lucid Lynx as it is.

The binary compatibility with Ubuntu should come as good news to the Puppy Linux users. They can now use Ubuntu’s packages without much problems.

Puppy Linux 5.1 itself has been built using packages from Ubuntu Lucid Lynx. Because of this the development time was extremely short. It is also the first Puppy Linux release in which the entire community did the development work, not just Barry Kauler.

In this release, a new application called Quickpet has been added. It allows users to easily install other applications with a single click. Lucid Puppy offers the users a choice of four browsers – Firefox, Chromium, Opera or Seamonkey.

Other features include:

  • Straight to desktop – auto setup
  • Icewm Window Manager included with Joes Window Manager
  • Developer access to the Ubuntu software repositories
  • Better enhanced Graphic driver support

Puppy Linux 5.1 comes in a 130MB ISO image which is available for direct download. If you want to try it, the download link is given below.

Download Puppy Linux 5.1

[source]

id Software Open Sources Wolfenstein Return to the Castle and Enemy Territory Source Codes

id Software is famous for open sourcing there games and engines after a few years of release. This serves as a great educational tool and helps small-time developers and enthusiasts have a clear understanding of game development.

wolfenstein-return-to-castle

Keeping this trend, id Software has made their latest release, which includes two of the most popular Wolfenstein titles Enemy Territory and Return to the Castle. The announcement was made at the recent QuakeCon event. John Carmak, the master programmer at id Software made the announcement that can be  seen at this post.

The code is released under GPL thus allowing for commercial reuse and modification with proper credit to the source for the code. Codes are available for Enemy Territory, Return to the Castle single player and Return to the Castle multi player.

It is good to see that id Software has taken this step. However, these stagnant and age-old codes will not serve much purpose as they are from years ago. Currently, game development has seen a major overhaul of development process. However, we expect to see some innovative design using these codes in near future.

The source code is available at the  id Soft’s FTP site.

(Source)

Shutter Version 0.86.3 adds support for Ubuntu One

Linux has few good screenshot apps and Shutter is one of them. It allows us to capture screenshots of the whole screen, a particular application, a region or any menu. Apart from that, it can also apply some effects and draw shapes on the captured image to create illustrations. The best thing about Shutter is that it allows complete control with GUI without any scary command line controls.

shutter-ubuntu-one

Shutter version 0.86.3 has brought a new feature. From now on, we can synchronize the captured screenshots on our Ubuntu One cloud storage.

Ubuntu One is a storage application and service operated by Canonical Ltd. and currently in public beta. The service enables users to store and sync files in a Canonical Managed Cloud.

The latest feature of publishing at Ubuntu One cloud works only for Ubuntu 10.04 or later. The support can be added by running:

sudo apt-get install libnet-dbus-glib-perl

from the terminal.

Other changes in the recent version of Shutter, include a new icon set and some  bug-fixes. Romario, at the release announcement page, has answered some comments. From there, it is evident that the next imminent feature is the ability to capture screenshots of scrolling windows and to capture a screen area repeatedly with a predefined delay. This can make Shutter an excellent tool for creating step-by-step tutorials.

(Shutter about Page)
(Via : Unixmen)
(Image via: http://zibergela.bitarlan.net)

Fedora Lives Upto Its Tradition – Fedora 14 Delayed

Well, delayed release has become a tradition of sort with Fedora. The last five releases of Fedora were all delayed and, unsurprisingly, the next version, that is Fedora 14 codenamed Laughlin, is also delayed.

Fedora 14 was actually scheduled to be released on 26th October, but now it has been pushed back by a week. If things go well from now onwards, Fedora 14 will now be released on 2nd November.

Apart from all the bleeding edge features that a new Fedora release always brings, one of the main aims on Fedora 14 was to actually ship it on time. But this time too things did not go their way. The Fedora Release Engineering and Quality Assurance Team feel that they need some extra time to eliminate chances of blocker bugs.

This is what Fedora Project Leader, Jared Smith, wrote in the Fedora mailing list announcing the delay:

During composition of any further release candidates, the Fedora Release Engineering and Quality Assurance teams plan to be quite conservative in the updates they pull into the release candidates, so that we don’t inadvertently create more blocker bugs. I’d also like to thank those who have really pushed hard to try to get the Alpha into shape. In particular, the Release Engineering team put in a lot of extra hours to compose our release candidates, and the QA team did a fantastic job of testing the release candidates and knocking out as many blocker bugs as possible.

While I regret the fact that the schedule has slipped, I’m confident it was the right decision to ensure that Fedora 14 is a rock-solid  release.

Let us hope that it does not get any more delays.

You can see the Fedora 14 release schedule here.

[via Phoronix]

Canonical To Start Tracking Ubuntu Installations Starting From Ubuntu 10.10

Today a new package has been added to the repository of Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat. This package, called canonical-census, is meant to for Canonical to track the OEM Ubuntu installations around the world.

This is what the source code description says:

Send an “I am alive” ping to Canonical. This is used for surveying how many original OEM installs are still existing on real machines. Note that this does not send any user specific data; it only transmits the operating system version (/var/lib/ubuntu_dist_channel), the machine product name, and a counter how many pings were sent.

Right now though, the package will not track everyone who install Ubuntu. It is only meant to track those who bought their system with Ubuntu pre-installed.

And if you are worrying about privacy and stuffs, the package will not not send any data which can identify the user (as the description above says). It is only meant to ping canonical just to let them know that the default Ubuntu installation is still alive. And if you are the paranoid type and do not want it to ping as well, you can just remove the package. I for one would not mind this package even in a non-OEM systems if it will help Ubuntu become better.

Unlike paid operating systems like Windows, there are currently no way for Canonical to track the Ubuntu installations. Since they encourage users to copy and share the Ubuntu CDs, it is even harder to track them. The introduction of this package looks like a first step by Canonical to understand the usage of Ubuntu properly.

If you are interested and want to take a peek at the source code, here is the link.

Are you concerned with the idea of Canonical tracking the Ubuntu installations?

[via Phoronix]

Whats New In Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat Alpha 3

The Ubuntu Release Team has just announced the release of third alpha of Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat. This is an alpha release and, hence, is not meant for daily usage. It is meant for testing by developers and interested users.

This is what Martin Pitt from the Ubuntu Release Team wrote announcing the release:

Alpha 3 is the third in a series of milestone CD images that will be released throughout the Maverick development cycle. The Alpha images are known to be reasonably free of showstopper CD build or installer bugs, while representing a very recent snapshot of Maverick.

The third alpha brings a lot of new changes/features. Here are some:

Linux Kernel 2.6.35

Ubuntu 10.10 Alpha 3 uses the Linux Kernel 2.6.35. This kernel includes a lot of security enhancements over the previous kernels. It also has some interesting new features like support for Apple’s Magic Mouse and faster packet transmission.

Ubuntu Software Center

The Ubuntu Software Center has undergone some changes. The main page now shows “Featured” applications and also has a “Whats New” section. It also supports plugins now.

Ubuntu Netbook Edition

The Ubuntu Netbook Edition now uses the Unity interface by default. Global menu also makes an appearance.

Kubuntu

In Kubuntu, KDE SC 4.5 RC is used for this release. As expected, the default browser has also been changed to rekonq.

Download/Upgrade

If you want to try it out here is the download link: http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/releases/maverick/alpha-3/

If you would like to upgrade from Ubuntu 10.04 directly (not recommended!), open the terminal, execute the command below and follow the on-screen instructions.

update-manager -d

The final release is scheduled for 10th October 2010.

Firefox Edges Out Chromium – Will Remain Default Browser In Ubuntu Netbook Edition

In the last Ubuntu Developer Summit, it was decided that Chromiun will be the default web-browser in Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.10. It was not the final decision, the final decision was left till Alpha 3 and they started shipping Ubuntu Netbook Edition with Chromium as the default browser in the Alpha 1 and Alpha 2.

Now that the Alpha 3 is approaching, Jorge Castro has confirmed that Chromium will not be used as the default web-browser in Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.10. They have decided to stick with Firefox for Maverick,  at-least.

This is what Jorge wrote to the Ubuntu Mailing List:

This is a follow up status report from the Chromium-by-default-on-UNE discussion at UDS. The desktop team have decided to stick with Firefox for UNE for 10.10, however Chromium is moving into main. Here are the critical blockers:

  • We don’t have a plugin installer, ie. if you go to a Flash site it sends you to Adobe’s webpage instead of just installing the plugin.
  • No langpacks or translations support in lp so we can’t translate Chromium, we have to depend on upstream to do it in one huge thing. :(
  • Doing all the xulrunner packaging changes in order to get the CD size down AND switching to chromium in one cycle is currently not feasible with the people we currently have.

Jorge says that they want to switch to Chromium but right now there are simply too many issues with having Chromium by default. One problem is the disk space – Chromium is about twice the size of Firefox. Another problem is the release of security updates. With Firefox, the Ubuntu developers get around 1-2 weeks to test new security updates. However, with Chromium it is a bit different – they just release them once they have fixed it without giving the Ubuntu developers time to test it.

Chromium will still be available in the repository though.

Linux Kernel 2.6.35 gets Google Network Technology for Faster Packet Transmission

The latest release of the Linux kernel 2.6.35 has brought significant changes to the kernel. Released on Sunday this week, the kernel claims to have significant improvements along the improvement in behavior of packets and over network throughput.

The new technologies borrowed from Google are RFS and RPS. These help in modifying the behavior of packets in a network. RPS spreads a process into all cores and RFS searches for the ideal core for performing jobs. RSP stands for receive packet steering and RFS for receive flow steering. As an evidence of increased performance, Joab Jackson at Networkworld has written,

The site cited a benchmark test showing how an eight-core Intel CPU-based server, with an Intel e1000e network adapter, doubled the number of networking-based transactions-per-second (tps) it could execute with RPS and RFS in place, from 104,000 tps (at about 30 percent CPU usage), to 303,000 tps (and 61 percent CPU usage).

This is good news compared to the earlier development of Linux. This move will popularize builds based on this new kernel.

New Ubuntu Fonts Available For Everyone

The new Ubuntu fonts were actually supposed to be available for public beta on August 8th. However, WebUpd8 reports that it is already available to users who are part of the ~kubuntu-users team in Launchpad – and anyone can join this team. You do not have to be a Kubuntu user to join it.  So, this means that the fonts are available to practically everyone who does not mind going through the few extra steps required to get it.

This is the email to the kubuntu-users mailing list announcing it:

Members of the ~kubuntu-users team on launchpad can now test out the Ubuntu Font which is currently in beta testing. Anyone can join this team.
We are considering setting this as the default screen font in 10.10, opinions welcome but please include a rationale with your opinion, artwork is very easy to criticize but is hard to criticize well.

So, here is what you need to do:

Note: You need to have a Launchpad account to do this.

Or, if you would rather not go through all these, wait for a few days. The fonts will be available for public beta on August 8th, and you can add the PPA through the normal way, without going through all these private PPA stuff.

Geeky Animosity. Is it Tribalism?

A recent interesting article by Mark Shuttleworth on his blog talks about an unheard term: Tribalism. I knew otherwise of Tribalism until now. Mark Shuttleworth defines this new Tribalism as,

Tribalism is when one group of people starts to think people from another group are wrong by default. It’s the great-granddaddy of racism and sexism. And the most dangerous kind of tribalism is completely invisible: it has nothing to do with someone’s birth tribeand everything to do with their affiliations: where they work, which sports team they support, which Linux distribution they love.

According to this, Tribalism arguments; that make people think they belong to a better tribe are as baseless as “the other tribe has not done anything useful” or “my world is more important than his” or “evidence contrary to my belief does not count” and so on.

With this in view, Shuttleworth has pointed out how this is hampering the free software world. Tribalism here, does not necessarily relate to tribes from jungles. It can be ultra-modern urban tribes. We can consider tribes of music fans who hate other bands and likewise. In the free software world, this behavior is seen as fanaticism. Shuttleworth writes about this saying,

Right now, for a number of reasons, there is a fever pitch of tribalism in plain sight in the free software world. It’s sad. It’s not constructive. It’s ultimately going to be embarrassing for the people involved, because the Internet doesn’t forget. It’s certainly not helping us lift free software to the forefront of public expectations of what software can be.

However, in my opinion fanaticism is not exactly the root cause of Tribalism. However, it can lead to Tribalism if two fanatics clash in time.

New GNOME Shell Mockup Looks Good – But Is It Better?

Yesterday it was announced that  GNOME 3.0 is delayed till next year. The extra time has given the Shell Developers some more time to play around with new concepts and they have come up a new mockup. Here are the new mockups:

This new mockup, no doubt, looks a lot better than the current Shell interface. Currently Shell is very clunky and very unusable in my opinion.

However, the new mockup still looks like it will be workflow nightmare. In the second picture, it looks like you have to click on the Windows tab to see the open windows. (Someone correct me If I am wrong.) This step unnecessarily requires two or possibly more clicks for something that can be done with just one right now.

And is it just me or does anyone else notice a strong resemblance to the Jolicloud user interface?

Another thing that I cannot understand is the huge application icons. In devices with small screen, the kind which Jolicloud and Ubuntu Netbook Edition are intended for, large icons can be useful. But GNOME Shell is not intended only for devices with small screen. I think that using this interface on a large monitor will be a real pain.

I tested GNOME Shell way back when it was very new and was not impressed by it then. I tested it again last month and still did not like it. This mockup looks good, no doubt, but it still feels unusable to me and it seems they have not resolved the workflow issue which many have been pointing out since Shell became available.

What do you think? Let us know.

[image credit: WebUpd8]

GNOME 3.0 Delayed Again – This time till March 2011

Bad news for everyone who has been waiting for GNOME 3.0 – its has been pushed back to March 2011. At GUADEC (GNOME Users And Developers European Conference) 2010, the GNOME Release Team have decided that GNOME 3.0 will require another release cycle to mature. Instead of GNOME 3.0, they will release GNOME 2.32 this September.

GNOME 3.0 represents a revolutionary step for GNOME, whose interface has changed very little since 2002. When it was conceived, the release date for GNOME 3.0 was set as April 2010. However, it was pushed back to September 2010 since it could not be completed in time. Today’s announcement means that it is now a good one year behind the original schedule.

This is what the press release says:

GNOME releases every six months to provide a reliable platform for its community and downstream partners. While it might be possible to release GNOME 3.0 in 2010 by slipping the schedule by a month or two, it makes more sense to stick to GNOME’s release schedule and ensure that GNOME 3.0 lives up to the quality that our community expects.

GNOME is driven by its goals to provide a quality free software desktop, and we feel that our users and downstream community are better served by holding the GNOME 3.0 release until March 2011. This gives adequate time not only for feature development, but user feedback and testing.

This is a very sensible decision from the GNOME team to delay it until they feel that it is ready. GNOME is known for its stability. It is the stability that its incremental development brings that makes GNOME so popular among users and commercial distributions alike. With the leap that they are taking with GNOME 3.0, many people have expressed concerns that it might have an effect on the stability and general usability.  Today’s announcement shows that they still give paramount importance to stability.

For everyone who have been waiting eagerly for GNOME 3.0, this announcement is a big blow, no doubt. But at least that we can be sure that GNOME 3.0 will not pull a KDE 4.0.

Khronos Group Releases OpenGL 4.1 with claims of it being better than Direct3D 11

Back in March, when Khronos released OpenGL 4.0, it was a hit and was presumed to be a DirectX 11 killer. I covered the release of OpenGL 4.0 and wrote,

This new version of OpenGL introduces a better support for GPU and an advanced tessalation, which breaks a model into smaller patches or surfaces for better handling and rendering. The OpenGL standard, when adapted to the version 4.0, is presumed to match the qualities of that of DirectX 11, which is the current dominant API for Windows graphics.

opengl

With the release of OpenGL 4.1, Khronos claims that it has surpassed the features of Microsoft’s Direct 3D. OpenGL 4.1 has better error handling and debugging. OpenGL 4.0 needed the Shader program to be compiled at runtime each time a program runs. This can cause significant initialization delay. However, with OpenGL 4.1, the compiled code can be cached for later reuse. The same improvements are present in WebGL, which will make for improved security in web browsing. The debugging features can help developers trace the behavior of any exploit. Further, Microsoft currently does not have any alternative to WebGL and this can make it the standalone champion in this field. (Source)