Jun 09, 2010 GMTExcept maybe for Pysol and Battle of Wesnoth, Amarok is my favorite leisure application. In fact, I frequently use it while working to play songs that have no lyrics to detrain my thoughts. Not can I be the only one who rates Amarok highly; Amarok 2.3.1 was in the Debian Unstable repository within hours of being released (by contrast, KDE 3.4 took six or seven weeks). But, at any rate, my interest was so strong that I was investigating the new features less than a day after the new release was available. I found them mostly minor, and sometimes in need of improvements, but on the whole welcome contributions to the existing functionality. The New FeaturesCompared to other 2.x releases,...
Off the Beat: Bruce Byfield's Blog
May 31, 2010 GMTIcons have always intimidated me. Except for the mouseover help, two-thirds of the time I would have no idea what function they represent. Shrink them so that they fit on a toolbar, and the obscurity is compounded by illegibility. On the free and open source software (FOSS) desktop, icons seem to be one of the last holdouts against usability, with neither of the two main strategies for designing icons being particularly successful.Admittedly, icons on the FOSS desktop have come a long way since the early years of this century, when GNOME's logout button looked like an illustration from Goodnight Moon, or possibly a sign indicating an outhouse. That icon disappeared when the first...
May 21, 2010 GMTRecently, I installed Joomla! as a local web server so I could develop a site for a friend. Almost at once, I ran into the problems that plagues most free software documentation. The problem is not a lack of information, but too much information, much of it obsolete, and little of it covering the most common situations on a modern desktop. Nor was most of it succinct.In fact, the process was not difficult. What was difficult was finding the relevant information. In the hopes of saving other people a few hours, here's my summary of the process:Installing the environmentRunning Joomla! requires a local web server (typically Apache), PHP, and a database (usually MySQL).A popular way to set...
May 11, 2010 GMT"People with disabilities deserve to have control of their own technological destinies."With this statement, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) announces that it is turning its attention to accessibility. In addition to explaining the important of accessibility in the newly released GNU Accessibility Statement, the FSF has appointed accessibility expert Chris Hofstader as Director of Access Technology Software, a position that combines both political activism and working directly with developers on various projects.The appointment comes after what Hofstader calls a "leadership vacuum" in accessibility, particularly in free software. Hofstader notes that, although the...
May 04, 2010 GMTA couple of weeks ago, a former colleague pilloried me for mentioning the first tentative signs of commercial advertising on the desktop. According to him, disliking those signs made me an outdated purist, and -- he seemed to imply -- a hypocrite as well. At the time, I wasn't bothered by his disagreement nearly so much as I was by having words put in my mouth. But it took a post today by Aaron Seigo on branding free software as opposed to branding an individual distribution to help me articulate my response.Probably, I should start by saying that, if I was really opposed to commercial involvement in free and open source software (FOSS), I wouldn't have worked for two of the earlier...
Apr 27, 2010 GMTI spent the weekend at the graduation for an art school. I had an overwhelmingly wonderful time -- except for one scenario that kept playing and replaying all weekend.As usual, telling people what I do for a living required some explanation of free and open source software (FOSS). Since I haven't met a student yet who had enough money, I supposed that the availability of professional tools at no cost would interest my audience. Gradually, though, I realized that my audience wasn't interested for a reason that I had never previously imagined: They wanted the prestige of using name brand products.Software and ProfessionalsI suppose that part of this reaction had to do with branding. If...
Apr 19, 2010 GMTWhy are free software advocates challenging American patent law? How did American patent law come to apply to software? Why is the Bilski case potentially so important? If you want to be brought up to speed on such issues, then consider taking half an hour to watch Patent Absurdity: How Software Patents Broke the System. Directed by Luca Lucarini and produced by Jamie King with support from the Free Software Foundation (FSF), this short film is both informative and surprisingly engaging. Available in Ogg Theora format, it is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 license.Legal complexities rarely made for dramatic footage, but Patent Absurdity sidesteps this...
The Bavarian capital shuns Microsoft, Google, and other alternatives to implement an open-source groupware solution.
Phone vendor partnerships bring Mark Shuttleworth's dream of Ubuntu on a phone a step closer to reality.
Donors will get to vote on new features for the free video editor.
Debian project puts init out to pasture and says no to Ubuntu's Upstart.
Ultra-sophisticated attack tool might have originated from a state-sponsored intelligence service.
New alternative for init comes with a small footprint and minimal configuration.
X marks the target for the next-generation windowing system.
Super-clone CentOS Linux gets beamed up to the mother ship.
HTML technology will enable new video editing and playback options.
New Linux distro is optimzed for gaming.