...making Linux just a little more fun!

News Bytes

By Deividson Luiz Okopnik and Howard Dyckoff

News Bytes


Selected and Edited by Deividson Okopnik

Please submit your News Bytes items in plain text; other formats may be rejected without reading. [You have been warned!] A one- or two-paragraph summary plus a URL has a much higher chance of being published than an entire press release. Submit items to bytes@linuxgazette.net. Deividson can also be reached via twitter.

News in General

lightning boltRed Hat Urges Supreme Court to Exclude Patents to Software

On October 1st, Red Hat filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court. In the brief, Red Hat explains the practical problems of software patents to software developers. The brief, filed in the Bilski case, asks the Supreme Court to adopt the lower court's "machine-or-transformation" test and to make clear that it excludes software from patentability.

The Bilski case involves the standard for patenting a process. The case concerns a business method patent, but involves many of the same issues as software patents.

"Red Hat continues its commitment to the free and open source software community by taking a strong position against bad software patents," said Rob Tiller, vice president and assistant general counsel, IP for Red Hat. "Our patent system is supposed to foster innovation, but for open source and software in general, it does the opposite. Software patents form a minefield that slows and discourages software innovation. The Bilski case presents a great opportunity for the Supreme Court to rectify this problem."

Patenting of software exploded in the 1990s based on judicial decisions changing the test for patentable subject matter. Software patents now number in the hundreds of thousands, and they cover abstract technology in vague and difficult-to-interpret terms. Because software products may involve thousands of patentable components, developers face the risk of having to defend weak-but-costly patent infringement lawsuits. A new class of business enterprise - patent trolls - has developed to file lawsuits to exploit this system.

The Federal Circuit set forth a clear test to determine if a process is patentable in stating that it must be either "tied to a particular machine or apparatus" or must "transform a particular article into a different state or thing." Red Hat argues that this standard is consistent with Supreme Court case law, and that it should be applied to exclude algorithms, including computer software, from patenting.

The scope of patentable subject matter is an issue of critical importance to the future development of all software, including open source. The upcoming Supreme Court's Bilski decision could clarify the law and lessen the risks that innovation will be hindered by software patents. Oral argument is scheduled for November 9, 2009.

Red Hat has supported patent reform to address problems posed to open source and other software developers. It previously filed an amicus brief in the Bilski case with the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. To read the full amicus brief, visit http://www.redhat.com/f/pdf/rh-supreme-court-brief.pdf.

lightning boltLinux Foundation Announces Hardware Perks for Individual Members

The Linux Foundation has announced new benefits for individual members, including employee purchase pricing from Dell, HP and Lenovo, and the opportunity to secure a Linux.com email address for life.

Linux Foundation individual members can get up to 40 percent off of Lenovo devices and standard employee purchase pricing from Dell and HP. Dell also offers a best price guarantee to Linux Foundation members. These benefits can translate into hundreds or thousands of dollars for those who purchase their devices as part of this program.

Existing members that would like to ensure their Linux.com email address is permanent and not dependent on Linux Foundation membership renewal can elect to secure it with a one-time $150 fee. New members who want the same benefit will pay a total of $249 for the first year' membership and the lifetime benefit. Linux.com email addresses allow members to publicly represent their support for Linux and to demonstrate their community participation.

"Our individual members are the heartbeat of the Linux Foundation and we will continue to find ways to extend special benefits to them," said Jim Zemlin, executive director at the Linux Foundation. "Perks like the employee purchase discounts from Dell, HP and Lenovo and lifetime Linux.com email addresses are unique things we can offer to sustain support for Linux."

The annual membership fee for individuals is $99. Students can also now become members with a student-class membership for $25 annually.

Other discounts and benefits available to individual members include:

  • 30% discount on the Linux Foundation' LinuxCon and Japan Linux Symposium events;
  • 20% discount on registration fees for Linux Foundation training courses;
  • 35% off O'Reilly books and e-Books;
  • 35% off No Starch Press Publications;
  • 15% off subscriptions to Linux Journal;
  • $10 off every $40 order on ThinkGeek.com;
  • a free Linux Foundation t-shirt for proclaiming support for Linux;
  • a weekly "Linux Briefing Book" in the form of an exclusive email with highlighted news and analysis to keep users well informed.

To join the Linux Foundation or to see a full list of benefits and discounts, visit their membership page: http://www.linuxfoundation.org/about/join/individual/ .

lightning boltMoblin 2 on new Netbooks

Demonstrating industry momentum for netbooks and the Moblin operating system, Renee James, general manager of Intel's Software and Services Group, announced at IDF that the Dell Inspiron Mini 10v with would be available with Ubuntu Moblin Remix Developer Edition pre-installed. James also announced that ASUS and Acer have already launched and Samsung is planning to launch Moblin 2-based netbook devices. Many operating system vendors, including Canonical, CS2C, Linpus, Mandriva, Novell, Phoenix and Turbolinux, announced at IDF that production-ready Moblin version 2-based operating systems are now available. Moblin is an open-source Linux operating system project for netbooks, handhelds, smartphones and in-car computers.

Additionally, operating system support for Microsoft Silverlight will be expanded to include Moblin early next year. Using Silverlight's cross-platform foundation, developers can write applications once and have them run on both Windows and Moblin devices.

In the same IDF keynote, James unveiled the Intel Atom Developer Program. This effort encourages independent software vendors and developers to create mobile applications. Intel is partnering with manufacturers, including Acer and ASUS, to create multiple application stores (like the iPhone store) where applications and application building blocks for Atom-based netbooks and handhelds will be sold.

Conferences and Events

LISA '09 - 23rd Large Installation System Administration Conference
November 1-6, Marriott Waterfront Hotel, Baltimore, MD
Cloud Computing & Virtualization 2009
November 2-4, Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA
iPhone Developer Summit
November 2-4, Santa Clara, CA
Enterprise 2.0 Fall 2009
November 2-5, Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA
VoiceCon-SF 2009
November 2-5, Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA
November 2-6, Oakland, CA
2nd Annual Linux Foundation End User Summit
November 9-10, Jersey City, NJ
OPP and APEXposed 2009
November 10-11, Sheraton Airport, Atlanta, GA
Interop New York
November 16-20, New York, NY
Web 2.0 Expo New York
November 16-19, New York, NY
KmWorld & Intranets Conference
November 17-19, San Jose, CA
QCon Conference 2009
November 18-20, Westin Hotel, San Francisco, CA
10th ACM/USENIX International Middleware Conference
November 30-December 4, Urbana Champaign, IL
Gartner Data Center Conference 2009
December 1-4, Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas, NV

Distro News

lightning boltUbuntu 9.10 Desktop, Server and UNR Editions Released

Canonical released Ubuntu 9.10 Desktop Edition and Server Edition, the latest version of its popular Linux distribution, for free download on October 29th. The 9.10 version of its UNR (Ubuntu Netbook Remix) OS is also available. This is the OS version previously known as Karmic Koala.

Ubuntu 9.10 Desktop features a redesigned, faster boot and login experience, a revamped audio framework, Firefox 3.5, and improved 3G broadband connectivity, all of which contribute to a first-class user experience.

With its '100 Paper Cuts' initiative to allow users to nominate minor annoyances that impacted their enjoyment of the platform, over 50 fixes have been committed, removing minor irritants such as inconsistent naming or poorly organized application choices. Larger scale user experience improvements include a refreshed Ubuntu Software Centre, giving users better information about the software they have available.

Ubuntu 9.10 also includes the integration of 'Ubuntu One' as a standard component of the desktop. Ubuntu One is an umbrella name for a suite of online services released in beta in May 2009. Ubuntu One simplifies backup, synchronization, and sharing of files with features such as Tomboy Notes and contacts synchronization.

Developers interested in writing applications that run on Ubuntu now have a simplified toolset called 'Quickly' which automates many mundane programming tasks. Quickly also helps users 'package' the code and distribute it through the Ubuntu software repositories. Ubuntu developers will now find all code hosted in the Bazaar version control system, which is part of the fully open source Launchpad collaboration website.

Netbook and smartbook users will find improvements to the Ubuntu 9.10 Netbook Remix interface. Common with Ubuntu 9.10 for desktops UNR will integrate the Empathy instant messaging program for text, voice, video, and file transfers.

"Ubuntu 9.10 gives users more reasons than ever to seriously consider Linux at a time when many are thinking again about their operating system options. We are delivering a platform for users interested in an easy-to-use, great-looking, Web-friendly operating system" says Jane Silber, COO at Canonical.

At the press conference before the 9.10 release, Mark Shuttleworth, CEO and founder of Canonical, remarked that he was "delighted Windows 7 was out," and that, "now we can engage in a real head to head competition." Shuttleworth added that after OEMs were using Linux on netbooks and smaller devices they have "seen the advantage with having more than one OS vendor and don't want to return to having only one choice." Shuttleworth said he expected Linux to continue to dominate in mobile devices because Windows 7 varients would be too expensive. He aslo noted that hardware OEMs were doing a better job of supporting Linux, especially after Intel's efforts with Moblin.

Ubuntu 9.10 Server Edition: Cloud Computing made Easier

Ubuntu 9.10 Server Edition introduces Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC) as a fully supported technology. This is an open source cloud computing environment, based on the same Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) as Amazon EC2, and allows businesses to build private clouds. Canonical CEO and Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth began highlighting the embedded cloud tools during the spring of this year. Ubuntu 9.10 Server Edition will also be available on the Amazon EC2 environment as an Amazon Machine Image (AMI). For the purpose of portability, Ubuntu's UEC images are identical to Ubuntu's AMI, and work done in one environment can be uploaded to the other.

Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC) is the umbrella name for a number of cloud technologies, which includes the open source Eucalyptus project. UEC makes it easy and fast for system administrators to set up, deploy and manage a cloud environment. Users familiar with Elastic Compute environments will be able to build similar infrastructure behind their firewall, avoiding many regulatory and security concerns that prevent many enterprises from taking advantage of cloud environments. UEC also provides a tight integration with power management tools such as the new Canonical-sponsored PowerNap project which allows servers to be put to sleep when they are not actively used.

Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud is preparing a store capability that will provide users with easy access to ready-to-deploy applications in the UEC environment. A first preview of this store is available in Ubuntu 9.10, together with a sample application. It will demonstrate solutions to software vendors and additional applications will be added after the release.

The core server product and kernel have also received significant attention in this release. MySQL 5.1 has been added. The directory stack and Single Sign On tools have been upgraded for improved directory integration. Django now ships as a fully supported framework enhancing web server options.

There have been numerous kernel improvements to better support both Xen (guest) and KVM (host and guest) virtualization, and to improve caching performance. Support for the USB 3.0 protocol has been included to support super speed transfer rates when devices become available. System management support has been extended through support for the WBEM (Web-based enterprise management) protocols which open up support of the Ubuntu environment to the most popular system management tools currently deployed in enterprises and allows them to interact more easily with Canonical's management tool for Ubuntu, called Landscape.

Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud is included as part of Ubuntu 9.10 Server Edition. Landscape Server Management System is available at http://www.canonical.com/projects/landscape.

Earlier press reports erroneously listed Ubuntu 9.10 as having early support for the new USB 3.0 standards. This support is actually planned for the next release.

Ubuntu Desktop and Server Editions and UNR are entirely free of charge and can be downloaded from http://www.ubuntu.com . Ubuntu One offers 2 GB storage for free, and 50 GB for $10 per month.

The 100 Paper Cuts project can be found here: https://edge.launchpad.net/hundredpapercuts/.
The list of UNR supported netbooks can be found here https://wiki.ubuntu.com/HardwareSupport/Machines/Netbooks/.
For more information, please visit http://www.canonical.com.

lightning boltOpenBSD 4.6 now out

OpenBSD 4.6 was released in October, a little earlier than expected. A few of the enhancements are noted here:

Generic Network-Stack improvements:

  • Support for virtual routing and firewalling with the addition of routing domains;
  • Wireless interfaces have an interface priority of 4 by default, which makes them less preferred then wired interfaces;
  • Does not accept IPv4 ICMP redirects by default
  • Added the MAC address to the log entries in dhclient(8).

New platform support:

  • Added acceleration support for many of the PCI frame buffer drivers, such as Sun PGX, PGX64 and XVR-100, and Tech Source Raptor GFX graphics cards;
  • Added support for virtual network switches.
  • Added support for the SGI Octane, SGI Origin 200 and SGI Fuel families of systems.

lightning boltPuppy Linux 4.3.1

A new release of Puppy Linux 4.3.1, a bug-fix update of the recently released version 4.3, appeared in October. Some of the fixes and changes include: New modem drivers and improved modem detection; fixes for CD remaster script; Asunder CD ripper replaces Ripoff; You2pup, fix for spaces in paths; DidiWiki personal Wiki upgraded to 0.8; JWM window manager upgraded to revision 457; NicoEdit, secondary text editor, upgraded to 2.4; etc.

lightning boltMandriva Linux 2010 RC2

The second release candidate for Mandriva Linux 2010 is now available on public mirrors. Mandriva Linux 2010 should be available in early November.

Besides bug fixes, it also includes Moblin, KDE 4.3.2, GNOME 2.28, Poulsbo, a guest account, and Nepomuk.

lightning boltopenSUSE 11.2 RC1 available

The first release candidate for openSUSE 11.2, which is due in mid-November, is now ready for testing. This release includes bug fixes and updates, including GNOME 2.28 final and Linux kernel The new version includes: live version upgrade - no need to stop working while upgrading from openSUSE 11.1 to 11.2; support for several social networks like Facebook, Twitter and identi.ca; and running openSUSE from an USB stick.

lightning boltTiny Core Linux updated

Tiny Core Linux is a very small (10 MB) minimal Linux desktop. It is based on Linux 2.6 kernel, BusyBox, Tiny X, FLTK graphical user interface and JWM window manager, running entirely in memory. The goal is the creation of a nomadic ultra-small desktop capable of booting from cdrom, pendrive, or frugally from a hard drive.

It is not a complete desktop, nor is all hardware completely supported. It represents only the core needed to boot into a very minimal X Window desktop, typically with wired Internet access. This minimal desktop can be extended by installing additional applications from online repositories. For more info, see: http://www.tinycorelinux.com/.

Software and Product News

lightning boltJetBrains' IntelliJ IDEA Goes Open Source

JetBrains, the creators of productivity tools for software developers, announced announced in October the public preview of the free Community Edition of its award-winning Java IDE, IntelliJ IDEA.

Starting with the upcoming version 9.0, IntelliJ IDEA will be offered in two editions: Community Edition, free and open-source, and Ultimate Edition, which until October was simply IntelliJ IDEA.

The introduction of the Community Edition removes cost as a major barrier to a wider use of IntelliJ IDEA for pure Java development. This edition is not only free, its also fully open-sourced.

"We've always been open to the community - with our public Early Access Program, issue trackers, forums, and so on. This made for a tight and direct feedback loop with our users, even at a time when this wasn't a widely accepted practice in the industry. Since then, we've supported hundreds of open-source projects with free product licenses, contributed code to various open-source projects like Groovy and Scala, and developed several open-sourced IntelliJ IDEA plugins ourselves," said Sergey Dmitriev, JetBrains CEO. "So, you can see how offering the IntelliJ IDEA experience for free, through an open-source license, goes hand in hand with our focus on the community. Open source has become the mainstream, and we continue to embrace it as an exciting challenge."

The new Community Edition is built on the IntelliJ Platform and includes its sources. JetBrains has made it as easy as possible to access and use the source code of the Community Edition and the IntelliJ Platform, by applying the democratic Apache 2.0 license to both of them.

The IntelliJ Platform serves as a basis for a wide range of other innovative JetBrains tools, designed for development in specific languages and/or domains. These tools include RubyMine, MPS, a web development IDE (already in public preview), and others currently in development.

IntelliJ split the two editions based on a functional principle:

  • Community Edition is for those working on pure Java/Groovy applications or doing Swing development. It has all the crown jewels of IntelliJ IDEA, including various refactorings and code inspections, coding assistance, debugging, TestNG and JUnit testing; CVS, Subversion and Git support, as well as Ant and Maven build integration.
  • Ultimate Edition is a full-featured commercial IntelliJ IDEA with the complete set of web and enterprise development tools, traditionally providing top-quality support for the most important modern technologies and frameworks.

The new features of Ultimate Edition version 9 include:

  • Java EE 6, with JSF 2.0, JPA 2.0, Servlets 3.0, Bean validation, etc;
  • Android, Google App Engine, GWT;
  • Adobe AIR, FlexUnit;
  • JavaScript refactorings and debugging;
  • Tapestry, OSGi, PHP;
  • Tight Perforce, ClearCase and Microsoft Team Foundation integration.

To review the extended list of new features of IntelliJ IDEA Ultimate 9, and to download the Preview build, please visit http://www.jetbrains.com/idea/nextversion/index.html.

To learn more and download the Community Edition Public Preview, please visit http://www.jetbrains.com/idea/nextversion/free_java_ide.html.

Read about the differences between the Community Edition and the Ultimate Edition at http://www.jetbrains.com/idea/nextversion/editions_comparison_matrix.html.

Learn more about the open source project for IntelliJ IDEA Community Edition and download its sources at http://www.jetbrains.org.

lightning boltDell Latitude Z-ltraPortable with Business Features

The Dell Latitude Z is the claimed to be world's first ultra-thin 16-inch laptop that is less than an inch thick and starts at 4.5 pounds with a standard four-cell battery. The system includes:

  • Lean tapered design and soft-touch Black Cherry finish;
  • The world' first laptop with wireless docking and inductive charging;
  • Dell' EdgeTouch allows users to interact with commonly used applications and media controls through a touch interface that is on the bezel of the system' screen;
  • Multi-touch touchpad and backlit keyboard;
  • A high-definition (1600x900) WLED display and two megapixel camera;
  • Dell FaceAware Lock-Out automatically locks out others users when a user steps away;
  • Laptop bags by Cole Haan and Timbuck2 designed specifically for the Latitude Z;
  • WLAN, Bluetooth and optional 3G WWAN mobile broadband.

The Latitude Z is available starting at $1,999. More details are available at http://www.dell.com/latitude.

lightning boltSmallest Wireless N USB Adapter Now Available from TRENDnet

TRENDnet has released what is possibly the world's smallest 150Mbps Mini Wireless N USB Adapter, its model TEW-648UB product. The ultra compact form factor is slightly larger than a U.S. quarter, measuring a remarkable 1.3 inches (3.3 cm) from end to end.

The 150Mbps Mini Wireless N USB Adapter connects a laptop or desktop computer to a wireless 'n' network at up to 6x the speed and 3x the coverage of a wireless 'g' connection. One-touch Wi-Fi Protected Setup or WPS technology eliminates the hassle of entering complicated codes in order to connect to a wireless network.

Advanced wireless encryption protects your valuable data. Wi-Fi Multimedia (WMM) Quality of Service prioritizes important video, audio and gaming traffic to create a premium wireless experience.

"We have looked high and low and are confident in our claim that the TEW-648UB is the smallest adapter on the market today. In fact it is half the size of the average wireless N USB adapter.", stated Zak Wood, Director of Global Marketing for TRENDnet. "Despite its diminutive size, it performs well. We welcome all independent tests against any other 150Mbps (or 1x1) adapter on the market today. The adapter features an equally small price tag. With a predicted street price in the low $20 range, this adapter sets a new price-to-performance standard."

The 150Mbps Mini Wireless N USB Adapter, model TEW-648UB, has an MSRP of US $24.99.

Talkback: Discuss this article with The Answer Gang

Deividson Luiz Okopnik


Deividson was born in União da Vitória, PR, Brazil, on 14/04/1984. He became interested in computing when he was still a kid, and started to code when he was 12 years old. He is a graduate in Information Systems and is finishing his specialization in Networks and Web Development. He codes in several languages, including C/C++/C#, PHP, Visual Basic, Object Pascal and others.

Deividson works in Porto União's Town Hall as a Computer Technician, and specializes in Web and Desktop system development, and Database/Network Maintenance.

Howard Dyckoff

Bio picture

Howard Dyckoff is a long term IT professional with primary experience at Fortune 100 and 200 firms. Before his IT career, he worked for Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine and before that used to edit SkyCom, a newsletter for astronomers and rocketeers. He hails from the Republic of Brooklyn [and Polytechnic Institute] and now, after several trips to Himalayan mountain tops, resides in the SF Bay Area with a large book collection and several pet rocks.

Howard maintains the Technology-Events blog at blogspot.com from which he contributes the Events listing for Linux Gazette. Visit the blog to preview some of the next month's NewsBytes Events.

Copyright © 2009, Deividson Luiz Okopnik and Howard Dyckoff. Released under the Open Publication License unless otherwise noted in the body of the article. Linux Gazette is not produced, sponsored, or endorsed by its prior host, SSC, Inc.

Published in Issue 168 of Linux Gazette, November 2009