Linux Distros that Don’t Suck

Mind your manners, now. We're not saying that they do in general. There's just a good chap who has come up with a list in two parts of varied Linux distributions that he deems use-worthy. He also gives a short description about them and a link to their project websites. Some are the obvious Ubuntu, Gentoo, and other major players, but others you may or may not have heard of and may find useful. Enjoy reading part one from May of this year and part two that was published just recently in October. What are some of the perhaps more obscure Linux distributions that you've found useful and noteworthy?

128-Bit Support in Windows 8, 9?

Microsoft has been thinking about Windows 8 for a while now even through the production of Windows 7. Some information has been gathered by our friends over at Ars, and all of this said information points to possible 128-bit versions of Windows 8 and definite 128-bit versions of Windows 9. Update: Other technophiles better-versed than I in this whole 64/128-bit business pointed out that it must be for the filesystem (such as ZFS described in this article) rather than the processor and memory scheme.

Cloudera Desktop Released, Simplifies Hadoop Even More

A while back, we covered the release of the free Cloudera distribution of Hadoop-- handy software to manage data across a multiplicity of servers-- the same software behind Yahoo!, Facebook, and other successful companies. Though Hadoop and Cloudera's Hadoop have been truly stellar at what they do, it's all essentially been done via command line, which for many people isn't the most productive or user-friendly type of interface. The folks at Cloudera knew this, so they've gone ahead and created a graphical interface to communicate with Hadoop.

Google Earth Tracks Traffic, Clouds, You

Some of the kids over at Georgia Tech have recently unveiled a development that takes realtime information from varied sources such as CCTV cameras and motion detectors and layers it on to Google Earth and Microsoft Virtual Earth. The result? The ability to watch things happen as they happen anywhere in the world (well-- not quite anywhere just yet, but that's the idea). While this undoubtedly reeks of "awesome," the mind of a suspicious citizen of the 21st century automatically jumps to a future Orwellian land of Big Brothers who are this time running professional versions of Google Earth in dark offices atop mile-high, tinted-window skyscrapers.

Microsoft Prevails in Patent Battle– Again

A long-term patent battle between Microsoft and a California- and Singapore-based security software company known as Uniloc has found Microsoft on the winning side... again. The said battle began about six years ago when Uniloc first sued Microsoft for allegedly infringing a patent of a technology that decries piracy by way of an activation key. Microsoft was supposed to have violated the patent by integrating the technology into the Windows XP and Office products' activation sequences that we all know and love. In short: Microsoft won the original case in 2003, Uniloc appealed and eventually won the appeal in April 2009 after many years of long and drawn out legal proceedings, and Microsoft appealed the appeal and won that appeal just recently, now not having to pay the US$388 million from the last appeal. Oh, and Uniloc already has plans to appeal.

EU Calls for Volume Limit on Music Players

"There are no current European standards on volume controls for MP3 players, though under French law personal music players must be limited to an output of 100 decibels (db). The Apple iPod, which can reach 130db, was briefly withdrawn from sale in France in 2002 until Apple updated the software to reduce the maximum volume. All iPods sold in Europe are now limited to an output of 100db. The European Commission’s new proposals call for the default setting on all personal music players to be 80db. This would apply to MP3 players and mobile phones that are capable of playing music. However, the proposals apply only to the default setting, not to the maximum setting for the device."

Dell Nestles ARM and Intel Processors Together

"ARM comes of age with a major PC design breakthrough this week. The Cambridge-based company will see a microprocessor based on one of its low power cores sitting side-by-side with an Intel Core Duo in a Dell laptop PC. The key to ARM's success is Dell's plan to run Linux as a second rapid boot operating system on its Windows latptop... The high-end laptop called the Latitude Z will use the ARM-based processor to run a second Linux based operating system which will allow the machine to boot up quickly for specific applications such as music and video playing. The PC runs Windows 7 on a 1.4GHz Intel Core Duo processor as its main CPU. Still this marks a significant design win for ARM which finds itself sitting side-by-side with its main processor rival in a big brand name PC."

FreeBSD 8.0, Ubuntu 9.10 Benchmarks

Phoronix was kind enough to add a deliciously lengthy nine-page compare and contrast between FreeBSD 8 and Ubuntu 9.10 to their arsenal of articles. "Canonical will be releasing Ubuntu 9.10 at the end of next month while the final release of FreeBSD 8.0 is also expected within the next few weeks. With these two popular free software operating systems both having major updates coming out at around the same time, we decided it warranted some early benchmarking as we see how the FreeBSD 8.0 and Ubuntu 9.10 performance compares. For looking more at the FreeBSD performance we also have included test results from FreeBSD 7.2, the current stable release. In this article are mostly the server and workstation oriented benchmarks with the testing being carried out on a dual AMD Opteron quad-core workstation."

‘Invisible’ Speakers Debuted

Remember those magical speakers with invisibility cloaks? They're back, and they reek more of "awesome" than ever. Though not available to the public quite yet, these handy dandy speakers are planned to be implemented into your everyday flat-panel televisions, desktop monitors, laptop screens, and mobile devices. They're a slim technology made from a membrane and little micro motors embedded into the screen. The motors vibrate the membrane on each side of the screen and bring about what we call sound directly from the screen itself, eliminating the need for miniature crummy speakers planted in leftover space on our ever-smaller display technology. Anyone who doesn't integrate them into their products when this technology becomes available is foolish. In my mind's eye, I see people not needing to buy those funny portable iPod speakers anymore as well as me not needing to put my head on my netbook in order to hear the sound played on it. Glorious.

UK, Ireland, Germany to Get Palm Pre

"It might be about four months late, but the UK is finally getting its slice of the tasty new Palm pie. There'll be no shortage of outlets to buy this from, with the Carphone Warehouse, Phones4U and O2's online shop all stocked up, but the carrier options are limited to just one. You'll find tables of UK and Ireland pricing after the break, and you'll be happy to know that the Pre can be had for free on two-year contracts charging £34.26 per month, which come with "unlimited" mobile data and free access to the BT OpenZone WiFi service."

CADNA Proposes Full-Scale Audit of ICANN

"With just over a week left before the expiration of the Joint Project Agreement (JPA) between the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the Department of Commerce, the Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse (CADNA) urges the US government to closely re-examine ICANN's structure, governance, and oversight mechanisms before committing to any further long-term cooperation. Significant adjustments must be made to the JPA in order to remedy the egregious problems CADNA has found with ICANN." CADNA not only proposes that an audit be made of ICANN, but they also have released a "top-ten list" detailing the most prevalent problems they find in the non-profit organization.

Reminiscence: Macintosh Plus, System 6, Beige Beauty

We all have our most favored machines of yesteryear; in this I assume that most people are like me, anyway. Breaking away from the mundane every-day news of boring (I jest) new technologies such as touchscreens the size of a wall and upcoming operating systems that support graphics cards with 1.5 GB of vRAM, take a walk down memory lane-- or "Neurological Alley" as I like to call it-- and take a look inside, outside, and in all of the nooks and crannies in between the circuits of the Macintosh Plus and its accompanying System 6, fresh from the splendor of 1986.

Students Get 30 Pound, 30 Dollar Windows 7

"Starting October 1--and for a limited time--those in the U.K. will be able to preorder Windows 7 for 30 British pounds, according to a Microsoft Web site. In a Twitter posting, Microsoft said that U.S. college students will be able to get the software for $30, but the Web site it linked to does not yet have details on the offer. 'This offer is specifically designed for those students who are not planning to purchase a new PC this year but would still like to take advantage of what Windows 7 offers,' a Microsoft representative said. Those who order the software will be able to download it when Windows 7 ships on October 22. Students interested in the deal need a valid college e-mail address. Microsoft plans similar offers in Canada, Australia, Korea, Mexico, France, and Germany, though the prices will vary somewhat."

IBM Forcing All Employees to Stop Using Microsoft Office

"Quoting an inside source, the German economic newspaper, 'Handelsblatt' reports that staff at IBM have been given ten days to change to Symphony, IBM's in-house Lotus software. The use of Microsoft Office will in future require managerial approval. With immediate affect, the Open Document Format (ODF) will rule at IBM with the file ending .doc soon belonging to the past... IBM's management have obviously decided to practice what they preach. 330,000 IBM workers already use Symphony, reports the newspaper. The motive for the migration appears not to be the saving of license fees, and according to an IBM press officer, the move is a clear statement in appreciation of open source standards."

KOffice 2.1 Beta 2 Released

"The KOffice team is happy to announce the second Beta of the upcoming 2.1 release that implement the KOffice 2 vision. The KOffice community has now switched from adding new features to fixing the remaining bugs. As can be seen in the full changelog the bugfixing is very active in all parts of the suite. Something that is not obvious from the changelog is that there has been much activity in the MS office import filters, especially for MS Word and Powerpoint. Many new formatting features have been implemented in both these filters."

DragonFlyBSD 2.4 Released

The DragonFly 2.4 release was released just today. One can choose from a bare-bones CD ISO, a DVD ISO that includes an X environment, and a bare-bones bootable USB drive image. In addition, this is the first time DragonFlyBSD has had a 64-bit ISO. 64-bit support is stable, but there will only be limited pkgsrc support in the current release. All versions of the release can all be downloaded from one of the many mirrors.

Microsoft Denies XP TCP/IP Patches

"Microsoft late last week said it won't patch Windows XP for a pair of bugs it quashed Sept. 8 in Vista, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008. The news adds Windows XP and SP3 to the no-patch list that previously included only Windows 2000 Server SP4. 'We're talking about code that is 12 to 15 years old in its origin, so backporting that level of code is essentially not feasible,' said security program manager Adrian Stone during Microsoft's monthly post-patch Webcast, referring to Windows 2000 and XP.... 'By default, Windows XP SP2, Windows XP SP3 and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition SP2 do not have a listening service configured in the client firewall and are therefore not affected by this vulnerability,' the company said. 'Windows XP SP2 and later operating systems include a stateful host firewall that provides protection for computers against incoming traffic from the Internet or from neighboring network devices on a private network.'"

ClarkConnect Now ClearOS, Now Open and Free

"ClearOS is a next-generation Linux server operating distribution for the small organizations and distributed environments. The ClearOS Linux distribution has an installed-base of over 120,000 systems that serve approximately 1.2 Million users. It is available in over 20 languages and is utilized in more than 122 countries around the globe. Historically known as ClarkConnect, ClearOS has been made open and free by ClearFoundation, including software such as MultiWAN which allows multiple, balanced Internet connections. Other limitations and commercial restrictions on the ClearOS platform have also been removed for this version and all subsequent versions. The ClearOS Operating System tightly integrates dozens of leading open source applications in a single management interface. The distribution is free to download and use and redistribution is encouraged." The new version of ClearOS can be read about more, tested using an online live demo, and downloaded at the ClearFoundation website.