Linux Mint 13 Maya RC Released in Cinnamon and Mate Flavors

The Linux Mint blog has announced the release of Linux Mint 13 RC. This brings us closer to the final release of Linux Mint 13, which should be sometime during the last week of this month. The RC is polished, and looks crisp as seen in these screenshots from the Linux Mint blog.




This latest release of Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu 12.04. As Ubuntu 12.04 is an LTS release, so is Linux Mint 13, and it will be supported until April 2017. Linux Mint 13 RC sports the latest version of Cinnamon 1.4 and the Mate 1.2. While the Mate desktop is focused on productivity and is more mature, the Cinnamon desktop is a new product Linux Mint is trying to develop alongside its Mint distro. With such a large user base, Linux Mint has good testing grounds for its Cinnamon desktop.

Cinnamon was released in the last week of this January. It boasts of a better user experience than Gnome 3. It is based on the Gnome shell 3.2.1 released in October last year and borrows heavily from MSGE. Cinnamon is on a roadmap to creating a complete desktop environment ecosystem, thus making it a self-sufficient product unlike MSGE, which had no individual identity. Cinnamon has ambitious plans, and it will be interesting to see if it attracts more users for Linux Mint.

Intermediary releases of Cinnamon are available on GitHub in a “stable” branch. Get download links and more details for this RC release at the official Linux Mint blog.

Ubuntu Sees Growing Adoption from OEMs, Will Capture 5% of the PC Market Next Year

At the ongoing Ubuntu 12.10 developer summit, Chris Kenyon, the VP of sales and business development at Canonical has unveiled Ubuntu’s ambitious expansion plans in the PC market. Ubuntu is already collaborating with OEMs to deliver Ubuntu Linux based machines. However, the good news is that the Ubuntu is looking forward to a 5% market share in the PC segment.

The advantage of buying a system with Ubuntu or any Linux flavor pre-loaded is eliminating the time spent in initial-configuration of display drivers, network components and syncing across monitors. These are common bummers, when we try to replace a new Windows box with Linux. However, Ubuntu has an extensive list of supported hardware, and this OEM deal will make the hardware support even better.

Phoronix lists some interesting points from Kenyon’s keynote speech.

Here’s some of the facts that Kenyon tossed out in his after-lunch keynote:

– Eight to ten million units shipped last year world-wide.

– Canonical will be opening their first Beijing office this year (their Taipei office right now handles most of their Asian operations since 2008).

– Last year Ubuntu shipped on 7.5 billion dollars (presumably USD) worth of hardware.

– Next year they expect to more than double these numbers to 18 million units world-wide, or what Chris says would be 5% of PCs shipping world-wide would be with Ubuntu Linux.

Finally, after years of vendor lock-in, the PC has finally been freed from its shackles. We hope to see an open hardware market, where the end-user has more choices and there are more than one prominent software development ecosystems.

The Ubuntu Developer Summit is taking place from 7th of this month and will continue until the 11th. The complete event schedule can be found here. The events to watch out for, include the one titled Next Steps for Hadoop on UbuntuApp Developer EventsUbuntu Mobile Use-cases and all events that focus on Ubuntu TV.

Project XobotOS Ports Android 4.0 Dalvik Core from Java to C#

When on one hand, Google and Oracle are tied in a fierce battle over the use of Java in Android’s Dalvik code; a group of hobbyists has ported the Dalvik core to C#. The project is called XobotOS and it comes from the same guys who made Mono for Android.

XobotOS is a Xamarin research project that explored porting Android 4.0 from Java/Dalvik to C# to explore the performance and memory footprint benefits of C#.

The C# port is semi-automated. A major part of the codebase was created using a tool called Sharpen, that can port Java code to C# effectively. The rest of the port was created manually. You can visit the project’s GitHub page for more details. The C# port of Dalvik is released under the Apache 2 license, and the Sharpen tool is released under GPL.

Android being ported to C# is good news. It is good to see that people are hacking Android and creating their own versions of awesomeness. But wait, it gets better! On comparing the port to the actual Dalvik core, it was seen that the ported C# version had drastic performance improvements over the existing Java based Dalvik core.


XobotOS started out as a fun project and has achieved a marvelous feat. Sadly, the Xamarin team has a different focus going further. It has announced that XobotOS was an experiment, and it will not be developed any further. Nonetheless, this project has demonstrated clearly that when it comes to performance on mobile devices, C# beats Java hands down.

Skype Sees a Major Network Overhaul, Moves to Linux Supernodes

Microsoft has replaced a major part of Skype’s network by replacing its 48,000 P2P supernodes with a set of centralized Linux boxes. This change was done over two months ago as a security measure. The Linux boxes are being hosted by Microsoft itself and this is the first such network change inside Skype, since it started operating in 2003.

The change has been analyzed by Kostya Kortchinsky over at Immunity Security. Microsoft is yet to confirm the research’s findings, but it has released a statement to Ars Technica saying,


As part of our ongoing commitment to continually improve the Skype user experience, we developed supernodes, which can be located on dedicated servers within secure datacenters. This has not changed the underlying nature of Skype’s peer-to-peer (P2P) architecture, in which supernodes simply allow users to find one another (calls do not pass through supernodes). We believe this approach has immediate performance, scalability and availability benefits for the hundreds of millions of users that make up the Skype community.

Microsoft has probably made this move to prevent outages like these. Currently, there are little over 10,000 supernodes, all hosted centrally by Microsoft. Unlike earlier, when users with sufficient bandwidth were upgraded to supernode status, the new strategy does not make supernodes out of users.

Seven months into ownership of Skype, and Microsoft is already making changes to it. Although it is not trying to port any existing infrastructure to its own technology stack immediately, there is a fair chance of that happening and when that happens, undoubtedly, Azure will be the way to go for Skype.

Read Kortchinsky’s report here.

Apache Software Foundation Announces TomEE, a Lightweight Apache Tomcat Server

The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) has some of the world’s most popular open source projects residing under its roof. The Apache Tomcat server for J2EE applications is one of them. It is the world’s most popular application server for J2EE applications and dominates small-scale Java EE application deployments.

The Apache Software Foundation has recently announced the release of the first version of a new application server based on Apache Tomcat 7.0.27. The new server is called TomEE (pronounced “Tommy”) and it is a sub-project of Apache OpenEJB. TomEE is much more robust than Apache Tomcat and boasts of a 300% performance improvement over it. This makes it suitable for cloud applications.

Apache TomEE is the Java Enterprise Edition 6 Web Profile-Certified edition of Apache Tomcat, the world’s most popular Java application server software, with more than 70% market penetration within the enterprise.

David Blevins, the Vice President of the OpenEJB project said,

TomEE is the closest and shortest jump for anyone with a Tomcat stack using any number of Java EE technologies to finally move to a Java EE 6 Web Profile certified platform that offers great freedom in the Cloud.

TomEE has support for Apache OpenEJB, Apache OpenWebBeans, Apache OpenJPA, Apache MyFaces and many other frameworks. The Apache TomEE project has been brewing for a long time and it obtained its Java EE 6 Web Profile certification on the Amazon EC2 in October last year. This is going to be the first choice for startups that want to overcome the initial deployment costs.

The Long Awaited Ubuntu 12.04 is Here Finally

We have been hearing about Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin and how awesome it is going to be, for quite some time now. The wait is finally over, and Ubuntu 12.04 has been released. It sports some bold features, and the fact that this is a long-term release (LTS) makes Ubuntu 12.04 even more special.

This release will be supported with updates and fixes for the next five years, and this will call for an upgrade across many Ubuntu installations that are still on the previous LTS release. Moreover, Ubuntu also supports Hyper-V for virtualization on a Widows server.
The Fridge writes on this release, saying,

The Ubuntu team is very pleased to announce the release of Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Long-Term Support) for Desktop, Server, Cloud, and Core products. Codenamed “Precise Pangolin”, 12.04 continues Ubuntu’s proud tradition of integrating the latest and greatest open source technologies into a high quality, easy-to-use Linux distribution. The team has been hard at work through this cycle, introducing a few new features and improving quality control.

Ubuntu is known for bringing new UX features to the table. With a significant growth in the server business, it has managed to register another win. Recently, HUD and Ubuntu for Android turned quite a few heads and this release of Ubuntu 12.04 lives up to the hype that was built over the last few months.

You can find different versions of Ubuntu at the release page. A tour of Ubuntu is also available online, at this page. However, if you are looking for direct download links for the English desktop version, you can download the 32 bit desktop CD or the 64-bit desktop CD ISO image.

Linus Torvalds Nominated for the 2012 Millennium Technology Prize

Linus Torvalds has been nominated for the Millennium Technology prize for 2012, besides Dr. Shinya Yamanaka. Dr. Yamanaka is an eminent stem-cell researcher and Torvalds is the creator of the Linux kernel. The award is given out every two years. Put in a single line, this is the most befitting description of the award.

The prize seeks to highlight innovations that assist and enrich our everyday lives today as well as in the future.

Linus Torvalds has been nominated for the award for his efforts with the legendary Linux kernel.

In recognition of his creation of a new open source operating system for computers leading to the widely used Linux kernel. The free availability of Linux on the Web swiftly caused a chain-reaction leading to further development and fine-tuning worth the equivalent of 73,000 man-years. Today millions use computers, smartphones and digital video recorders like Tivo run on Linux. Linus Torvald’s achievements have had a great impact on shared software development, networking and the openness of the web, making it accessible for millions, if not billions.

Torvalds is one of the most respected men in the world of software. He has made considerable efforts to build and maintain an OS kernel that changed the way software is done. He has created a new storyline in the world of software development, and we all are parts of that story. Over two decades have passed since the first release of the Linux kernel and it has improved vastly, with timely support for new hardware.

Although some may argue that the Linux kernel is a one-man show, it really is a community effort. Linus truly deserves this award for bringing together an awesome group of selfless people and creating a better world for us all.

(Via: The Verge)

Microsoft Open Sources ASP.Net MVC, Razor and Web APIs

Microsoft has announced that it will opensource their most recent Web Development framework stack – including the Model-View-Controller pattern based MVC and Razor viewing engine. The MVC framework and other related projects will have their sources released under the permissive Apache 2.0 license and will include sources starting from the very first version.

The source code will be hosted on CodePlex, allowing anyone to view, browse, check out & modify code as they seem fit – and perhaps even contribute in terms of a patch or bug fixes. The opensourced MVC stack will integrate quite a lot of open source projects – including  jQuery, jQuery UI, jQuery Mobile, jQuery Validation, Modernizr.js, NuGet, Knockout.js and JSON.NET.

Scott Gutherie, popularly known as ScottGu, the Corporate Vice President in Microsoft Server and Tools Business, posted the announcement in the web blog, citing that the positive feedback received from their Azure SDK development process helped them convince that this model is good. ScottGu emphasizes that ASP.NET MVC and Razor will continue to be fully supported Microsoft products and they will shipped both standalone as well as part of Visual Studio. MVC powers some of the most popular websites, including the very popular Q&A portal for programmers, Stack Overflow, the entire network of Stack Exchange sites, Loopt, Plenty of Fish among others.

Government of Iceland Plans a Migration to Open Source Software

The Government of Iceland has started a one-year migration plan for all its public offices. As part of this plan, all public administration will be moved to use open source software in their daily operations. This includes all the ministries, the national hospital and the capital city of Reykjavik. A popular software programmer and OSS enthusiast from Iceland named Tryggvi Björgvinsson is heading the migration project.
The statement from the Prime Minister’s Office reads,

The government of Iceland has agreed on a policy regarding free and open-source software. The policy states, among other things, that when purchasing new software, free and open-source software and proprietary software are to be considered on an equal footing, with the object of always selecting the most favorable purchase.

The document [PDF link] highlights the open source policy of the Icelandic Government mentions five important points. The most important of these decisions is that there will be no discrimination between free and open source software and proprietary software when making new software purchases. The policy also promotes the use of FOSS in education.

With this migration, Iceland will join an array of countries in the Europe, which are saving considerable government budgets spent on proprietary IT solutions. It will also boost the development of selected projects and increase their credibility. Nonetheless, the use of Open Source in Governments also bolsters existing FOSS projects and encourages a healthy and competitive ecosystem.

Shuttleworth Highlights the Growth of Ubuntu in the Enterprise Server Business

For years, the Enterprise Server business has been dominated by Linux distributions. Debian and CentOS are the most popular of these distributions with 9.8 and 9.1 percent of total market share, respectively. However, over the past year, Ubuntu has been rising in popularity to threaten Red Hat’s position as the third most popular Linux distribution for servers.

Ubuntu is preferred on the server because of its LTS releases, which are supported with updates for long years. Moreover, it has a large base of zealots who participate closely in the state of affairs. This gives Ubuntu servers excellent hardware support, security, timely updates and ease of installation.

However, Shuttleworth attributes the growth of Ubuntu Server business to the enhanced focus on quality.

The key driver of this has been that we added quality as a top-level goal across the teams that build Ubuntu – both Canonical’s and the community’s. We also have retained the focus on keeping the up-to-date tools available on Ubuntu for developers, and on delivering a great experience in the cloud, where computing is headed.

However, the data referred by Shuttleworth in his blog post cannot be taken at face value. The graph that Shuttleworth used to bolster his claims was derived from public websites as a whole and not just enterprise business. Nonetheless, Red Hat has based a billion dollar business around this business of enterprise servers, and the slightest hint that Canonical is about to overtake Red Hat with Ubuntu can shake things up in the world of Linux based server distros.