GitHub Releases a Desktop Client for Mac

Social Coding Platform GitHub's LogoThe popular social programming platform,  GitHub, released a Mac version of their desktop application today. For the unaware, GitHub is a website aimed at giving programmers the ability to share code and changes across the internet. It is immensely popular among open source programmers, as well as being used by major companies like Facebook.

The Mac client is one of the best executions that I have seen of GitHub. On top of being very functional, with the ability to pull in both local and internet based repositories, it is very beautiful. Once you download the file and install the app, you can start it up. You will be asked to log into your GitHub account, and from there, you can connect to any repositories that you are a part of.

Unfortunately, I am not really a computer programmer. I have dabbled in some Java and C, but I am not an active user of GitHub. As such, I cannot give a full hearted review of the application or the service. According to the coders I have spoken to about it, GitHub has become an industry standard.

I know that I make use of GitHub to monitor the progress of my Android ROM of choice, CyanogenMod. I check out the commits, comment on the added features, and even directly interact with the coders. I look forward to digging into the features of this desktop client to see how it pertains to my use of GitHub.

I feel like nothing but good can come from having a desktop version of this. The ability to focus more on your work and less on Facebook has to be a good thing. I know that I work better when I write my articles from a desktop client instead of doing it in the browser window.

If you want to see what the GitHub client looks like on Mac, then check out the screen shots below. You can download it by heading over to GitHub.

GitHub Mac Client

Asus To Sell Eee PC Netbooks With Ubuntu Installed

PC manufacturer Asus has announced that they are releasing three Eee PC netbook models with Ubuntu pre-installed. The three models that will be available with Ubuntu are the 1001PXD, 1011PX and 1015PX. Asus also announced that they plan make more models available with Ubuntu. The version of Ubuntu that will ship with these netbooks is Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat.

ASUS-Eee-PC-1015PX-Netbook
Asus Eee PC 1015PX

This represents a homecoming of sort for the Eee PC models. Asus released the first Eee PC netbook with Xandros Linux installed. However, they subsequently replaced the operating system with Windows Xp, citing the high return rate of the netbooks with Linux.

Chris Kenyon, vice president of OEM at Canonical, said that Canonical has leaned from the mistake with Xandros Linux.

The netbooks previously sold with Linux, people hadn’t pre-installed all the right media codecs – it wasn’t necessarily a fantastic web experience. That has fundamentally changed.

The Ubuntu netbooks that Asus will sell will have Flash installed by default, along with the media codecs. These are normally not included in the Ubuntu installer because they are proprietary software.

Canonical and Asus’s decision to pre-install Ubuntu with these non-open source codecs will not go down well with some people. However, if Ubuntu is to truly achieve any significant market share, some compromises like this will have to be made on the way.

Pricing for these netbooks are not available yet.

[sources: PC Pro, The Inquirer]

Run Linux In Your Browser

Linux is often considered as a geeky OS when compared to Windows and Mac OS X, however, over the past few years it has become much easier to use and almost emulates a desktop environment which is similar to Windows and Mac.

There are several popular Linux Distros like Ubuntu, Fedora,   JoliCloud, Linux Mint and more which are now widely used by people. If you want to try out Linux you can also dual-boot on your Windows machine (see Install Ubuntu in Windows). However, if you are someone who is afraid of installing additional software on your computer, you can now test out Linux from your web browser, albeit only the command prompt.

The Linux browser emulator was created thanks to a port of an emulator called QEMU to JavaScript.

QEMU is a generic and open source machine emulator and virtualizer.

When used as a machine emulator, QEMU can run OSes and programs made for one machine (e.g. an ARM board) on a different machine (e.g. your own PC). By using dynamic translation, it achieves very good performance.

When used as a virtualizer, QEMU achieves near native performances by executing the guest code directly on the host CPU. QEMU supports virtualization when executing under the Xen hypervisor or using the KVM kernel module in Linux. When using KVM, QEMU can virtualize x86, server and embedded PowerPC, and S390 guests.

The emulator has been written by Fabrice Bellard, a famous open source developer who has also developed several other popular projects in the past. The Linux PC emulator is written completely in JavaScript and was compiled using 2.6.20 Linux Kernel. The emulated hardware consists of the following things:

  • a 32 bit x86 compatible CPU
  • a 8259 Programmble Interrupt Controller
  • a 8254 Programmble Interrupt Timer
  • a 16450 UART.

 

Run Linux in Browser

Most of the modern browsers sport faster and smarter JavaScript engines. The Linux emulator for browsers goes on to show how powerful JavaScript has become and what it could be used to do.

The developer has tested Linux in browser in and 11. The beta version of Google Chrome is not yet supported. You can test out the Linux OS in the browser by visiting http://bellard.org/jslinux/. Also visit this technical notes page for more information on the Linux emulator for the browser.

Google and 16 Other Companies Come Together to Form the WebM Community Cross-License Initiative

WebMI have always advocated the use of royalty free codecs (first Ogg-Theora and then WebM) for the HTML5 <video> tag. The WebM movement has been slowly but surely gaining momentum since its inception. We have already seen almost all the the major desktop browser vendors (Google, Opera Software, Mozilla and Microsoft*) adopt Google’s open source and royalty free media format. Desktop media players like Winamp are beginning to embrace WebM. And, perhaps most crucially, chip makers like Intel are working to add WebM support at the hardware level.

One of the biggest challenges for WebM is the intellectual properties issue. It’s no secret that the patent system is seriously messed up. Some of the patents granted to the members of MPEG LA, the consortium that owns the patent pool for H.264, are so broad and ambiguous that it’s almost impossible to develop a media codec without violating them. Nevertheless, Google has maintained that WebM doesn’t infringe any existing patents, and is a clean and reliable royalty free alternative to H.264. A couple of months back, MPEG LA, the entity that stands to loose the most from the success of WebM, called upon its members to submit patents essential to the VP8 video codec specification, presumably in preparation of a patent infringement lawsuit..

With the threat of legal action looming, all the companies involved and interested in the growth of WebM have formed a cross-license initiative. It’s essentially a consortium that will freely share all patents related to WebM on a royalty free basis. Google was already working closely with Xiph (maintainers of the Ogg audio format) and Matroska (maintainers of the Matroska video container). Additionally, CCL includes the likes of AMD, LG, Mozilla, Opera Software, Samsung, and Texas instruments. The hope is that with the backing of these corporations, WebM will be able to tackle any legal challenge that it might have to face in the future.

*Internet Explorer 9 can play WebM videos provided that the required codecs have already been installed.

Firefox 4 Officially Released, Crosses One Million Downloads Within Hours

After a dozen betas, and two release candidates, Mozilla has finally released the public build of Firefox 4. It took nearly a year to come, but now that it’s here, expect it to break all records. With well over five thousand downloads per minute, at the moment, Firefox seems well poised to go past the ten million mark. You can tack Firefox 4 downloads in realtime from glow.mozilla.org.

Firefox Although, several planned features were dropped from Firefox 4, as it struggled to stay on schedule, Firefox 4 is a meaty update, which boasts of some pretty significant enhancements.

The user interface has been refined to give the website higher priority. Tabs are now on top (as they should be), and the menu bar has been replaced with a single “Firefox” button.

Firefox 4 is significantly faster than its predecessors, courtesy of the new JagerMonkey JavaScript engine, and should be able to hold its own against the likes of Opera 11, Chrome 10 and Internet Explorer 9. Also new to this build is hardware (GPU) acceleration and WebGL support. Unfortunately, hardware acceleration is currently not supported in Linux. WebGL compatibility means that Firefox is ready to meet the demands of the new age, graphics intensive web-applications and games.

Other new features in Firefox 4 include in-built synchronization option, “Panaroma” tab organization, app tabs, multi-touch support, DNT (Do Not Track) header support, WebM video playback, crash protection for popular plug-ins (Flash, QuickTime, Silverlight etc.), HTML 5 parser, and open type fonts support. The full changelog for Firefox 4 is available here.

Firefox-4-Download-Count

Firefox 4 for Windows, Mac and Linux is available in more than seventy languages from firefox.com.

Whether for Good or for bad, Red Hat Modifies Kernel Source Release System, Poisons the Ecosystem

Red Hat has become a perfect model of an open-source based business and has shown the world how to make money with open-source. Red Hat is the first billion-dollar open-source company and has a lot to boast. With some serious kernel development going on at Red Hat, many other small-time companies have based their business around the kernel patches and updates released by Red Hat.
redhat-logo

Until now, the Red Hat kernel source was shipped upstream and extra patches were downloaded and applied at build time. However, Red Hat is keen on shedding off some leaches now, the biggest one being Oracle. Oracle has been feeding off Red Hat’s kernel development until now, and releases a flavor of Linux that goes by the name of Unbreakable Linux. This Unbreakable Linux is a repackage of the kernel released by Red Hat.

Ironically, Unbreakable Linux has every chance of breaking now because Red Hat is shipping its Linux kernel codes differently. In this new system, the kernel is patched already, and as no information is available on which patches these are. Thus, any further modification attempt has chances of breaking the kernel. There you go Unbreakable Linux, broken in every sense of it. The changes made by Red Hat do not violate any terms of the GPLv2 license, and that is what matters for red Hat.

This is one of those management moves that make future statistics look good. Red Hat should undo this change and stop killing the basis of its prospering business, because the only benefit this change brings to Red Hat, is a lot of bad name in the world of open-source.

Google Gets Aggressive About WebM, Decides to Drop H.264 Support from Chrome

WebM Google has announced that it will be dropping support for H.264 in future versions of Chrome, and instead focus on high quality open codecs. Although Google’s announcement is surprising, it’s not completely unexpected. Last year, Google spent a fair amount of cash to acquire On2, the startup behind VP8. Later, Google unveiled its own open source codec called WebM, based on On2’s VP8. Now that WebM has begun to witness increasing amounts of hardware support, as well as improvement in performance, Google obviously feels that the time is right to put its foot down.

The core issue with H.264 has been that it is proprietary. Last year, MPEG-LA made H.264 royalty free forever for free web broadcasts, in an attempt to counter WebM. However, even that move was deemed insufficient since it didn’t include applications that encode and decode video, as well as commercial broadcasts. It also didn’t alleviate the threat that some other patent holding body might come calling.

Chrome will now join Opera and Firefox as browsers supporting only open video codecs, i.e. Theora and WebM. Microsoft had earlier announced that it will be supporting both H.264 and WebM in Internet Explorer 9, provided that the codec for the latter is installed on the system. Apple, which has been pushing for HTML5 <video> as an alternative to Flash, has been a steadfast supporter of H.264. It will probably continue to do so for the foreseeable future as hardware decoding support (which is crucial for portable devices like the iPod and the iPhone) for WebM is still fairly limited.

Although Google’s decision to drop H.264 support from Chrome represents a major setback for H.264, don’t expect it to disappear immediately. Apple’s dominance over the mobile devices segment, and the lack of WebM support in tablets and phones is something Google will have to contend with.

Wary Puppy 5.0 Available For Download

Wary Puppy is a project of the Puppy Linux developer, Barry Kauler,  to develop a linux distro which provide support for older hardware. Puppy Linux is already a very light weight distro and runs well on many older systems. However, Puppy Linux is moving to a new software base and it may no longer run so well on the older hardware. To maintain the support for the older hardware Wary Puppy has been introduced.

Wary Puppy uses the older Linux kernel 2.6.31.14 because it provides better support for older hardware. Other components in Wary are a mix of old and new software. X.org which comes in Wary is quite old, Mesa is also fairly old and GTK, gcc etc. are fairly new. Wary also includes the latest releases of applications like SeaMonkey, Abiword, Gnumeric etc. and the latest drivers for printers, scanner etc.

Wary Puppy 5.0 is also an LTS release and will be supported for 2-3 years. In that  period  it will not have any major upgrades. There will be only bug fixes, incremental improvements and applications update.

As mentioned above, Wary Puppy is not meant for new powerful systems. If you have an old PC, you may want to try running Wary Puppy on it.

You can download Wary Puppy 5.0 from http://puppylinux.com/download/.

You can read more about Wary Puppy here.

[via: Linux Pro Magazine]

Vladimir Putin Orders His Government to Move to Open Source

We have reported earlier of the Russian government building a Linux distro for their use. In all probability, the build is nearing a final version now as Vladimir Putin has ordered the government to move to Linux.

The new system will be operational from the second quarter of 2012 and the initial phase will start in Q2 of 2011. After this transition, which is expected to be complete by 2015, the federal government including all the states will run Linux.

Vladimir Putin has been attempting to switch over to Linux from a long time now. However, his repeated attempts back from 2007 will come to fruition finally only after the next five years. However, this time it is not the much longed for education sector that is switching over. Now that the political opposition to the idea has diffused, we can expect to see the matter proceed as planned.

In this translated document from Cnews, you can see that the whole procedure has been broken into parts, one of which deals with creating a repository for use in Russia exclusively. Open source is an effective cost cutting measure and is in use by many governments across the globe. Russia being one of the largest countries, its embracing Open Source is a positive sign and influence for many other countries.

Google Pushes Out Android 2.3 Source Code To Repositories

With the recent availability of Android 2.3 aka Gingerbread on official Google handsets such as the Nexus S, Google has also gone ahead and pushed out the 2.3 source code to their repositories. Jean-Baptiste, one of the software engineers with the Android Open-Source Project, has stated that once the development branch that Google engineers use is mirrored, Gingerbread is going to merge with master and will be out there for the taking. Expect to see many more customizations and home-cooked ROMs that feature Android 2.3 and all the new updates and software, once developers pull down their copy and start hacking on it.