The Truth Behind Microsoft’s Contributions To Linux 3.0

A few days back, published an article listing the different contributors to the changes in the source code of Linux kernel 3.0. One name on that list that surprised everyone was none other than Microsoft.

According to the article, Microsoft has contributed 361 changes/patches to the Linux kernel 3.0, which makes it the seventh largest contributor to the kernel and fifth largest corporate contributor. Naturally this raises the question as to what it going on here. Microsoft has never liked Linux and has always been insisting that Linux violates their patents (although they have never named the patents.) In 2001, Steve Ballmer, who is currently their CEO, described Linux as a cancer.

Has Microsoft turned a page? Are they embracing Linux and open source software? Well, no they have not turned a page. They are still the same old Microsoft. All their contributions are patches for the Microsoft Hyper-V driver.

In 2009, Microsoft submitted around 20,000 lines of code to Linux. These codes make it possible to run Linux on Windows Server using its Hyper-V technology. However, the Linux developers found a lot of problems with Microsoft’s contribution .

In December 2010, Greg Kroah-Hartman, wrote that the Hyper-V drivers that Microsoft had submitted risk getting removed from the kernel because all the Microsoft developers had disappeared.

“Over 200 patches make up the massive cleanup effort needed to just get this code into a semi-sane kernel coding style (someone owes me a bit bottle of rum for that work!) Unfortunately the Microsoft developers seem to have disappeared, and no one is answering my emails. If they do not show back up to claim this driver soon, it will be removed in the 2.6.33 release. So sad…”

All of the 361 patches that Microsoft has contributed towards Linux 3.0 are simply patches for the Hyper-V driver. They are there only to make it possible for Linux to run on Windows Servers. This contribution should not be interpreted as a change in Microsoft’s attitude towards Free and Open Source Software, and Linux in general.

If we look at the contributions not through the number of changes but through the lines of code changed, Microsoft’s contributions become very small. All of their 361 changes are very small changes and account for a mere 1.3% of the total lines of code changed in Linux 3.0. If the line of code changed is used to measure the contributions, Microsoft comes in at 15th position with Intel, which is responsible for 18% of the changes, taking the top spot.

Gwibber Gets Revamped For Ubuntu 11.10 – Much Lighter And Faster Now

Gwibber is the default micro-blogging application that comes with Ubuntu. Ever since it has been included as a default application in Ubuntu, I have complained about it in every review I had done. It is so sluggish and consumes so much system resource that using it is never possible while doing any intensive task.


Well, things are about to change in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot. Ubuntu 11.10 will have a fully revamped version of Gwibber Gwibber 3.1. While the earlier version of Gwibber was made using Python and Webkit, Gwibber 3.1 is made using Vala and GTK3.

What the change from Python/Webkit to Vala/GTK3 does is that it makes the application much lighter and faster. That has also allowed for the addition of some fancy animations to make the application better looking.

According to Gwibber developer Ken VanDine, the improvement in performance in Gwibber 3.1 is huge. This is what he told OMG!Ubuntu!:

The old client limited the stream to the latest 50 posts and would use about 150MB of RAM. The new client doesn’t limit the posts, in my test with 3000 posts in the stream it used about 42MB RAM.

Not only is that 3000 posts in a stream, we keep all the streams hotfor fast switching between them. So we actually have them all created and hidden.

Gwibber 3.1 also has a new user interface designed by Neil Patel. The new UI uses plenty of animations to make Gwibber comparable to the other Twitter clients available for Mac OS X and Windows. It also supports sorting of streams according to the oldest/newest post.

There is no plan as such to make Gwibber 3.1 available for Ubuntu 11.04. However, Jorge Castro of Canonical said that it might be available once it makes its way into Ubuntu 11.10.

[image credit]

Linux 3.0 Gets Yet Another Release Candidate

tux As you are probably aware, Linus Torvalds had decided to bump the version number of the upcoming Linux kernel to 3.0. The development for Linux 3.0 has been going on for a while with the first release candidate being released on May 30th.

The sixth release candidate was supposed to be the last one. However, Torvalds has decided to have one more release candidate Linux 3.0 rc7 mainly because some testers have found the RCU (Read-Copy-Update) to hang at boot time.

This is what Torvalds wrote to the mailing list announcing the seventh release candidate of Linux 3.0:

I think I said -rc6 might be the last -rc. I lied.

Things have been pretty quiet, but there’s enough new stuff here that I wanted to do another -rc, and we still have some issues with the RCU changes causing problems when RCU events happen before the scheduler has been fully initialized etc. So -rc7 is out there, although it might not have mirrored out to the public sites quite yet.

As with all the previous releases of the Linux kernel, Linux 3.0 will not have any new big features. It will have only incremental improvements. If you are interested, you can check out the changelog for Linux 3.0 rc7 here. At least one more release candidate is expected before Torvalds announces the stable Linux 3.0.

Linux 3.0 has already been adopted by the development versions of many Linux distributions. Debian Wheezy has already been moved from Linux 2.6 to Linux 3.0. The latest development release of Ubuntu 11.10 too was based on Linux 3.0.

CentOS 6.0 Finally Released

CentOS developer Karanbir Singh has announced the availability of CentOS 6.0 for download.

CentOS (Community Enterprise Operating System) is a Linux-based operating system that is based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Unlike RHEL, it is a community project but, like RHEL, its target users are the enterprise users. One of the best feature of CentOS is its 100% binary compatibility with RHEL. CentOS is completely free and is very popular on servers.

CentOS 6.0 Desktop

CentOS 6.0 is based on RHEL 6.0 which was released in November last year. The amount of time it took for CentOS 6.0 to be released is a bit surprising as the earlier releases usually follows the RHEL releases closely.

CentOS 6.0 is not an exact clone of RHEL 6.0; it contains some packages that have been modified and some that have been removed. You can see the complete list of these packages in the release note.

Red Hat had already released RHEL 6.0. So, Karanbir Singh said that they will port all the security updates from RHEL 6.1 to CentOS 6.0 users until CentOS 6.1 is released.

Since upstream has a 6.1 version already released, we will be using a Continous Release repository for 6.0 to bring all 6.1 and post 6.1 security updates to all 6.0 users, till such time as CentOS-6.1 is released itself. There will be more details about this posted within the next 48 hours.

Download CentOS 6.0

CentOS 6.0 is available for i386 and x86_64 architectures ( or in more simple terms 32 bit and 64 bit).

You can download it from the list of mirrors from this page.

Before installing, please make sure that you have at least 392 MB of RAM as the installer will not run if it is lower. If you need a the GUI based installer, you need to have at least 652 MB of RAM.

[image credit]


Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 2 To Be Released On 7th June

According to the original release schedule, Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 2 was supposed to be released on 30th June. The release date was missed and now, it has been revealed that the second alpha of Ubuntu 11.10 will be released on 7th July. The other release date remains unchanged.

Now, here is the updated release schedule of Ubuntu 11.10:

Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 1 2nd June

Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 2 7th July

Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 3 4th August

Ubuntu 11.10 Beta 1 1st September

Ubuntu 11.10 Beta 2 23rd September

Ubuntu 11.10 Release Candidate 6th October

Ubuntu 11.10 Final Version 13th October

While the first Alpha was fairly mundane, the second Alpha will see many new features that will finally make it to the final release in October. Here is a list of the changes you will see in Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 2:

  • GNOME 3 Finally, Ubuntu has made the transition from GNOME 2.32 to GNOME 3. By now, most the theme problems has been fixed. The default Ubuntu themes Ambiance and Radiance have been ported to GTK3.
  • Hybrid Image The ISO of Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 2 will be a hybrid image. This means that users no longer need the USB Startup Application to create a bootable Ubuntu USB drive.
  • No Synaptic Package Manager The Synaptic Package Manager will be no longer installed by default in Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 2.
  • Thunderbird as default email client Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 2 will not have Evolution as the default email client. Thunderbird will be installed as the default email client instead.
  • Linux 3.0 Ubuntu 11.10 will be based on the newly released Linux 3.0.
  • Deja Dup The backup tool, Deja Dup, will be installed by default in Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 2.
  • Firefox 5 – Firefox – the default web browser in Ubuntu 11.10 – will be updated to the latest version.

BlueGriffon: A Cross-Platform Open Source WYSIWYG HTML Editor [Review]

The issue that most people have with creating their own website is that they don’t know how to do it. They can figure out how to get a host, a domain, and even a .com if they want it. Where they run into trouble is the part of the process where you take a design and make it into HTML (the backbone of a lot of websites.) If that is what is holding you back, then fret no more. BlueGriffon, a free Open Source WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) HTML editor based on the Firefox rendering engine, is here to help.

I don’t think that its important for me to take you through the steps of implementing a design using BlueGriffon. What I am going to do for this review is let you know what I think are the biggest strengths and short comings of the software. All screenshots will be from the Mac OS X version of the software, but there are clients available for Windows and Linux as well.

What BlueGriffon Does Right

I think its best to start with what BlueGriffon gets right. In my time playing with it and testing it out, I found myself loving the ability to manipulate my images and text and have code written for me. While I have some experience writing in HTML, I sometimes find parts of it cumbersome, like arranging images. This is one of the best things about BlueGriffon, and any WYSIWYG editor. You can move things around, and the code automatically updates to reflect the changes.

One of the biggest plusses for BlueGriffon is the range of HTML that it can support. Not only does it support the more basic HTML 4 version of the standard language, but it also supports HTML 5. HTML 5 has become very popular among developers, and is considered the gold standard at the moment. One major reason for this being such a big deal is Apple’s iOS, which supports HTML 5, but not Flash, which HTML 5 is sort of designed to replace.

BlueGriffon HTML EditorBlueGriffon has also found a great price point (FREE!) for an editor of this caliber. While the stock set of features is a little bare for my professional needs, which we will talk about later, it would be perfect for an amateur just looking to set up a simple webpage. On top of being great for amateurs, its one of the first free cross-platform editors of its kind. That has a special place in my heart because, while I write and work on a Mac, a large part of my development and web design is done on a Windows machine.

What BlueGriffon Gets Wrong

BlueGriffon Add-on only

As I said above, BlueGriffon doesn’t come with all the features I look for in a web development toolkit out of the box. These features are available, but they cost money. One of the things I really need is an advanced CSS editor, which BlueGriffon offers as an ‘add-on’ for around $15 USD, or 9.99 Euros. Another add-on that I wish came with the suite is the FTP uploader. While i understand the reasoning behind selling these more advanced features as add-ons, it is sad to see them not be made free like the main program.

Another issue that I have with BlueGriffon is its lack of support for other coding languages. While I championed its offering of HTML 5, I have to shame it by saying that all it really offers is HTML and CSS. Some of the things I need to write or implement are done in JavaScript or even PHP. Neither of these are natively supported by BlueGriffon.

Final Verdict On BlueGriffon

BlueGriffon presents its self as the “next-generation Web Editor.” While I agree that it has some fo the best potential and features of any free web editor I have come across, it doesn’t exactly live up to its name. If you need to do simple HTML work, or if you are looking to write in HTML 5, then I would check out BlueGriffon. However, if you are an advanced user, then you will probably need to buy some add-ons.

It is important to note that, even with all the add-ons, BlueGriffon is one of the most affordable web editing suites around. If you are int he market for a web editor, I recommend you check out BlueGriffon. It is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and the download itself is Free.

Final Rating: 4/5, for a freemium model for HTML  editors.

ARM Support in the Linux Kernel, the Unseen and Untold Truth

ARM support in the Linux kernel has been a debated issue for too long and today, it stands at a point where it is making more compromises. Every device with its own code for ARM support creates a bloatware out of the entire ARM section in the Linux kernel. This is a huge dilemma because if these codes are not submitted at the end of the day, it will (probably) be termed as a violation of GPL v2 and if they are submitted, they are too complex to include into the kernel. So they just lay there.
With a mini community of independent agents formed inside the Linux kernel developer community itself, these device manufacturers are finding it hard to get their ARM changes upstream into the mainline kernel. The reason?

  1. There are too many of them
  2. They are highly complex in their own way
  3. Most of them are just redundant

In short, there is utter chaos when it comes to ARM support in the Linux kernel and it was best left ignored until now.

The scenario is taking a turn and  attempts  are being made to standardize the process. ARM has moved to a separate Git tree but it still annoyed the maintainer all the more. Torvalds is rightfully annoyed here, as he would not include every bit of code that some device manufacturer somewhere has written to support some hardware that few people use!

This is a strong but a welcome decision because in the long run, it will keep hardware vendors from breaking the Linux ecosystem and acting in a more co-operative and a less competitive way.

The state of ARM in Linux kernel can still be ignored all right but we have seen how Microsoft is talking of a Windows 8 tablet now. ARM is indeed important for the future of portable and mobile computing and undoubtedly, Linux plays a major role in its future. The sooner they marry, the better it is for both of them.

Ambiance And Radiance Themes Ported To GTK3; Available For Ubuntu 11.10

Remember when I said that the default theme in Ubuntu 10.10 Alpha 1 looks like that in Windows 95? Well, it no longer does not. The Ambiance and Radiance themes that comes by default in Ubuntu has been ported to GTK3 now and they have landed in the development version of Ubuntu 11.10 “Oneiric Ocelot”.

Overall this is just a port of the theme in GTK2 to GTK3 and, so, it does not have any new features. However, there are some minor differences:

  • The entire navigation bar in Nautilus has been removed and replaced by just the back and forward buttons.
  • The status bar in Nautilus has been replaced by a new “on-demand” status bar.

To get the newly ported themes, open the Terminal and update your system.

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get upgrade

There is still no easy application to change the theme yet. (GNOME 3 no longer have the Appearance application.) So you have to do it manually using the dconf-editor.

$ sudo apt-get install dconf-tools

After the installation, launch dconf-editor by pressing ALT+F2 and entering “dconf-editor” (without quotes).

Then go to org > gnome > desktop > interface > gtk-theme. Change “Adwaita” to either “Radiance” or “Ambiance” (again without quotes) and click on Set To Default.


Ubuntu To Be Distributed As A Hybrid Image

Fedora does it; OpenSUSE does it and now Ubuntu will also be distributed as a hybrid ISO. Many RPM distributions have been releasing their ISOs in the hybrid format for quite sometime now. Colin Watson of Canonical has announced yesterday that all the amd64 and i386 ISO for Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelotwill be distributed in the hybrid format starting today.

What is a hybrid image?

Ubuntu users must be aware that whenever a new version of Ubuntu is released, it is made available as an ISO file. That file can be burned to a CD directly and the CD can be used to boot into an Ubuntu live environment and to install Ubuntu to the hard disk if the user desires. However if users wanted to install using a USB flash drive, they had to rely on a special application the Start-up Disk Creator.

With a hybrid image, users do not need the Start-up Disk Creator. If they want to boot using a USB flash drive, they can simply copy the contents of the image file into the USB drive. Of course, hybrid image can still be burned directly to a CD.

Why was Ubuntu so late in adopting hybrid image?

As mentioned above, many other Linux distributions have been releasing hybrid ISOs for quite a while now. Ubuntu could not switch over to the hybrid images because, like Debian, Ubuntu was using jigdo downloads. Switching to a hybrid image will break jigdo.

Debian switched over from jigdo to xorisso in January because xorisso works with hybrid images. And now Ubuntu too has decided to switch over to xorisso and distribute hybrid images after all Ubuntu is a Debian derivative.

What does this mean for users?

For those who uses the image files by burning it to a CD, this means absolutely nothing for them. Everything will work as it has always worked.

For those who prefers USB flash drives to CDs, this means that the Ubuntu Start-up Creator is no longer needed. All that is needed to make a bootable USB drive is the dd command. Here is the syntax for the command:

dd if=<image_name> of=/dev/sdX

<image_name> is the name of the hybrid image you have downloaded and sdX is your USB drive.

Right now I do not think that there is no GUI application to do this. But before the release of Ubuntu 11.10, I expect to see one.

Adobe Drops Support for AIR on Linux Desktop

Today Adobe has announced that they will no longer support AIR on the Linux desktop. They will now focus their resource on developing AIR for iOS and Linux on mobile devices particularly Android.

According to Netmarketshare, the growth of Linux on the desktop has stagnated at around 1% and Adobe says that the download share for AIR on the Linux desktop hovers around at just 0.5%. So, it no longer make sense for Adobe to devote their resource for developing AIR on the Linux desktop.

Recently, Adobe released AIR 2.7 but they did not update their Linux client and SDK. Today’s announcement from Adobe means that AIR 2.7 for Linux will never arrive.

So, with the 2.7 release of AIR, we made a decision to prioritize our resources towards a Linux porting kit for AIR, which our Open Screen Project partners can use to complete implementations of AIR for Linux-based platforms. As such, we will be focusing on supporting partner implementations and will no longer be releasing our own versions of Adobe AIR and the AIR SDK for desktop Linux.

During the same time that growth on desktop Linux has been stagnating, the growth of Linux on mobile device has exploded mostly because of Android. According to the IDC report from March 2011, the Android market share for mobile OS is expected to reach 46% by 2015. Another mobile platform, iOS has also growing rapidly and by 2015, it is expected to have a market share of 15%.

So, it no longer is in Adobe’s interest to focus on the Linux desktop. Instead, they want to focus their development effort on the rapidly expanding mobile platforms like Android and iOS.

Do you use AIR on your Linux desktop? I do not use it and I sure will not miss it.

[via Phoronix]