Topic linux

KDE rumored to be focusing now on simplicity

in linux on (#2SNV)
story imageKDE has always been full of tons of configuration options. And the KDE team has remained somewhat stalwart in defending that approach even as the Gnome3 project decided their mantra would be "simplify, simplify, simplify."

Suddenly, at least one journal is reporting the KDE developers are reconsidering that approach and deciding they'll simplify too.
KDE usability team lead Thomas Pfeiffer posted on the future roadmap of the KDE user interface and user experience on his blog. While he acknowledges that the great power and flexibility that comes with KDE Plasma and associated applications is the main reason behind its huge fanbase, in his opinion these are also the reasons why newbies get intimidated by the overwhelming number of features exposed at one place.
Developer Thomas Pfeiffer is behind the statement, having posted on his blog: "Anything that makes Linux interesting for technical users (shells, compilation, drivers, minute user settings) will be available; not as the default way of doing things, but at the user’s discretion.” In the design vision and principles section of the KDE HIG, we condensed and evolved this goal into a simple guiding principle: Simple by default, powerful when needed."

[Ed. note: I've got a bad feeling about this.]

uselessd - a fork of systemd

Anonymous Coward
in linux on (#2SNR)
A fork of systemd has recently emerged, calling itself "uselessd (the useless daemon, or the daemon that uses less... depending on your viewpoint)".

They describe the project as such:
uselessd is a project which aims to reduce systemd to a base initd, process supervisor and transactional dependency system, while minimizing intrusiveness and isolationism. Basically, it’s systemd with the superfluous stuff cut out, a (relatively) coherent idea of what it wants to be, support for non-glibc platforms and an approach that aims to minimize complicated design.

uselessd is still in its early stages and it is not recommended for regular use or system integration, but nonetheless, below is what we have thus far.
They then go on to list features such as support for musl libc and uClibc, decoupling from journald and udevd, removal of superfluous unit types and daemons unrelated to process management, as well as the preliminary foundation for potential future ports to non-Linux systems.

This is certainly an interesting development in the entire systemd saga.

Friday Distro: Trisquel GNU/Linux

in linux on (#2SKF)
story imageAhoy there. Let's say you'll be wantin' a Linux distro that's been blessed by his ownself the Grand Admiral of the GNU revolution, Richard Stallman. Arrr. And supposin' you can't abide by the wretched bilge that's binary blobs infectin' yer own GNU/Linux system, foisted upon ya by the likes of those lowly bastards Adobe and NVidia, whose scurvy, un-transparent and despicable rot goes against your very bein'. Well then, you'll be wantin' to make sure yer own good ship Linux hoists the latest version of Trisquel GNU/Linux, and smartly at that.

Off with ya then, to the grimy bastards at Distrowatch, with some right fine background for ya. Trisquel hails from Spain, a piratin' and thievin' port of call if ever there was one. Arrr. But they've chosen what's proper over what's easy. Turn away if you've got an Nvidia graphics card, or if ya can't stand the likes of a distro based on the latest Ubuntu. Trisquel is a fine lookin' ship if ever I've laid my eyes on one, hoistin' aloft clean versions of LXDE, XFCE, and KDE desktops, but believe you me when I tell ya they've been stripped bare of any software that isn't cut from the purest, GPL cloth. I sailed that ship in a virtual machine while hittin' no reefs, aaar, but I do reckon if your hardware isn't the plainest of vanilla, you may find it chafes your britches when you install 'er.

That said though, avast, she's a smart little distro, she sails a beaut, and she's right easy on the eyes, if I do say so myself. As for the package selection, aaar, when I'm at the tiller and the mainsail's drawin' wind, most of the packages I use I found sittin' sweet as a lily in the repos. Your own position at sea might be affected, though, if you find yerself needin' something exotic.

I myself am as pure as the next Linux captain, who be supportin' the cause of throwin' all those lily-livered binary blobs in the brig. But not if it means I can't sail my ship. That's why you won't be findin' this pirate sailin' Trisquel myself. But if ideological purity be yer cup-o-rum, well then, aaaarrr: raise the plank on Trisquel, and may fine winds be at yer back. Drop in at the Trisquel tavern where you can break yer jaw askin' yer questions, and tell 'em Captain Zafiro17 sent ya, like the devil himmself. Aaaar haar haar har har har.

Debian Security Advisory - DSA-3025-1 apt - security update

Anonymous Coward
in linux on (#2SK4)
Debian has announced a security advisory about its apt-get software, and recommends that you upgrade your apt packages ... with apt, of course.
"It was discovered that APT, the high level package manager, does not properly invalidate unauthenticated data (CVE-2014-0488), performs incorrect verification of 304 replies (CVE-2014-0487), does not perform the checksum check when the Acquire::GzipIndexes option is used (CVE-2014-0489) and does not properly perform validation for binary packages downloaded by the apt-get download command (CVE-2014-0490)."
This update comes to you courtesy of the IOERROR Twitter account.

Enlightenment E19 released with full Wayland support

in linux on (#2SGS)
The Enlightenment team announced this week that the 19th version of their popular-but not popular enough- desktop environment has been released. Enlightenment DR 0.19 brings a number of useful improvements, refinements, or fixes, including a new profile for tiling workspace windows, better video previews, the return of the E16-style live pager, a new compositor API, non-recursive make files for building the system, and improvements to the file manager, system action menus, better performance on multiple monitors, support for high DPI monitors, and better rendering of shaped (non-rectangular) windows. It also has full support for Wayland including its own, rewritten Wayland compositor.

The Enlightenment project has always marched to the beat of a different drum. So their disclaimer: "Enlightenment developers cannot be responsible for any successes which occur during testing of E19" seems like they're still having a lot of fun.

If you're interested in seeing what E19 is capable of, Bodhi has a good intro to Enlightenment E17 on their site, but this Youtube video of E17 is also a good place to start.

Attachmate and MicroFocus to merge, SUSE Linux unaffected

in linux on (#2SGG)
Richard Brown reported on Google Plus that Attachmate has entered into an agreement with Micro Focus, a UK enterprise software company. Under the terms of the agreement, both institutions will merge. You might already know that Attachmate is the company that owns and manages SUSE Linux out of Nurenburg, Germany. So what does this mean for SUSE and OpenSUSE? Maybe nothing! That's great news. From the letter sent by Attachmate to the Board of Directors of SUSE Linux:
* Business as Usual: There are no changes planned for the SUSE business structure and leadership. There is no need for any action by
the openSUSE Project as a result of this announcement.

* Commitment to Open Source: SUSE remains passionately committed to innovation through Open Source. This has always been the foundation of our business and that will continue as we grow and innovate in new areas.

* Commitment to openSUSE: SUSE is also fully committed to being a sponsor and supporter of an open, highly independent and dynamic openSUSE community and project. We are proud of openSUSE and greatly value the collaborative relationship between SUSE and the openSUSE community.

* The combination of the Attachmate Group and Micro Focus creates a larger, global enterprise software entity, operating at a greater global scale. This provides an even stronger foundation for the continued investment in SUSE and our continued innovation through Open Source."
That's good news for fans of the openSUSE Linux distro, as well as SUSE customers everywhere. I would argue that Attachmate's purchase of SUSE from Novell was the best thing that happened to SUSE in years; glad this isn't going to have an impact on a great distro.

What's next for tablets running Linux?

in linux on (#2SEW)
story imagePut aside the "Android is based on Linux" argument for a second, and let's look at the state of tablet hardware running the Linux operating system instead of Android. And it doesn't look good.

Network World reports Ubuntu Touch might be our last and best hope for tablets running Linux:
Canonical says that they expect Ubuntu Touch-powered tablets to start shipping in the second half of this year. When I took Ubuntu Touch for a spin on my Nexus 7 last October, it definitely had promise (if it was a bit on the buggy side). And it has certainly improved a great deal since then. Unfortunately, the ability to run traditional Linux desktop software isn't the focus of Ubuntu Touch. In theory, this will be possible, but I've yet to see this actually happen. So I'm not holding my breath.
Not too long ago, Aaron Seigo and a group of KDE hackers was making a big splash about the upcoming Vivaldi tablet, which was to be a Linux tablet running a customized version of the KDE Plasma environment (KDE4 reconfigured in ways that make sense for a tablet). I was looking forward to that device, as KDE4 was rejiggered specifically to permit this kind of innovation in interfaces and avoid the whole "if Gnome3 is good enough for a tablet it's good enough for your desktop" attitude. Unfortunately, when the Vivaldi tablet project met with a lack of supporters willing to put up cold hard cash, it bit the dust:
Announcing the ‘wrap up’ in an e-mail sent to backers of the Improv ARM-based development board the team suggests that the FOSS community is ‘not ready’ to put its weight behind the ‘pressing issue of hardware freedom’, adding: “We greatly appreciate everyone’s support, whether it was purchases, donations or words of wisdom and encouragement. There was simply not enough support to make the project work, despite having fully functional, production ready devices and a strong commitment to succeed.”
Well, there's still the Pengpod, currently in crowd funding. But it's barely there as a product, reliant on going from crowd-funding to crowd-funding to push out new versions of their interesting product. What is there to do if you want Linux apps on tablet hardware? For the moment, it seems the answer is "be patient."

Jeff Hoogland announces he'll step down as leader of Bodhi Linux

Anonymous Coward
in linux on (#2SCH)
story imageSad days for fans of Bodhi Linux1: project lead Jeff Hoogland has announced he will be stepping down, and the project is in search of a volunteer or supporter to take over the leadership role of this unique distro.

There's more information - and a fair bit of anxiety - over at the Bodhi Linux forums.

This isn't necessarily the end of the distro, but there's no mistake this distro was very much his baby, and his vision and leadership have made it what it is. If you've never tried it, give it a spin. BodhiLinux starts with the Ubuntu base and installer, but strips out anything Gnome and replaces it with the Enlightenment 17 (E17) desktop environment. E17 is an amazing bit of work - a total rewrite from E16 that took years in the making. It's graphically very enticing, with carefully designed accents (animations, eye candy) that serves a useful purpose. You don't get wobbly windows, which is bling for the sake of bling. Instead, everything is very subtle and very useful. And on your E17 desktop you can download and install from Bodhi's - which are essentially Ubuntu's - repositories.

One of E17's most useful tricks is configuration profiles that provide different functionality for different machines or situations: there's a desktop, laptop, and tablet configuration, each with defaults that make sense for your likely hardware and situation. I'd love to try it on a tablet. You can get E17 on other distros, including Ubuntu, but by installing Bodhi you got a clean, useful, and well-configured Enlightenment desktop minutes after installing with no fuss. Lastly, E17 is phenomenally resource-conserving, so it runs blisteringly fast even on lightweight machines, and its install footprint is very small. It ran great on my Intel Atom netbook, and almost-as-great on a Pentium 4 with a gig of RAM.

This is a reminder that distros are a lot of work, and consist of long, thankless hours that you don't necessarily get to spend with your family or lounging in front of the TV. Many thanks to Jeff for a fantastic Linux distro, and thanks in advance to whichever hero decides to step up to the plate and continue where he left off.

1 [Ed. note: and I'm one of them! Bodhi has been one of my favorites since it came out.]

ZFS on Linux

in linux on (#2SAR)
Richard Yao has written a provocative piece detailing the state of the ZFS filesytem on Linux. It's made the rounds on other sites, where it's generating a lot of buzz. The reason is twofold: (1) ZFS is such a phenomenal piece of software, and (2) Yao insists the ZFSonLinux project (ZoL) is ready for primetime.
Linux users familiar with other filesystems or ZFS users from other platforms will often ask whether ZFS on Linux (ZoL) is “stable”. The short answer is yes, depending on your definition of stable. The term stable itself is somewhat ambiguous. While one would think that stable means “ready for production use”, that can mean that it does not lose data, that it does not crash, that it is a drop-in replacement for an existing filesystem, that changes to the disk format are forward compatible, that updates are always flawless or some combination thereof. Consequently, the long answer is much more nuanced than a single word can express. ...
He continues: I believe ZoL is production ready for the following reasons:
  1. Key ZFS data integrity features work on Linux like they do on other platforms.
  2. ZFS runtime stability on Linux is comparable to other filesystems, with certain exceptions that I document below.
  3. ZoL is at near feature parity with ZFS on other platforms.
Read on for the rest.

Friday Distro: Absolute Linux

in linux on (#2SAE)
story imageAbsoluteLinux [screenshots] is different from most other niche distros because it’s built on a Slackware base instead of Debian/Ubuntu, so I installed it in a VM and have been giving it a test drive for a while. It’s the work of one man: Paul Sherman, of Rochester, New York, who took his extensive customizations to Slackware and began making them available to the public as a distro.

Absolute fits on a single CD, and focuses on being a lightweight OS optimized for speed and designed to stay out of your way. It’s a desktop, with no pretensions of being installed on a server. It uses the IceWM windowmanager, so you get a fast, traditional desktop, task bar and tray with none of the bulkiness of modern KDE or Gnome desktops, and a set of apps judged to be ‘best of class’ as well as a couple of utilities he wrote himself (the volume control is a stand-alone app that avoids having to install another package that would’ve had other dependencies).

Because Absolute is based on Slackware you get all of Slackware’s simplicity, stability, and dependability. But you also get Slackware’s thin package selection and install mechanism. Absolute has its own repo, and you can add Slackware’s repository too [file list is here], as Absolute is 100% compatible with Slackware. But you will soon find yourself over at looking for 3rd party packages. You also have to manage your own dependencies - a good thing if you want to avoid finding out that a simple app brought all the underlying base packages with it, but a bad thing if you prefer the ease of simple apt-getting your way to the desktop you like. That said, you can use gslapt-get, which comes preinstalled, and takes some of the hassle out of package management.

That said, I like it. It boots quickly, and I do appreciate Slackware’s simplicity and straight-forwardness. By installing Absolute instead of straight Slackware you get a graphical, lightweight desktop by default. I think I prefer FreeBSD’s ports system or Debian’s apt-get for installing software, and it’s true Slack - and therefore Absolute - aren't for just anybody. But if you’re looking for a refreshing change from the quotidian, Absolute Linux is pretty enjoyable. And above all, it's a reminder that the most interesting things don't come out of corporations trying to be everything to everybody, they come out of willful and skilled hackers that focus on doing one thing and doing it well - much like the Unix tradition itself.