Collection of Interesting Articles on OSS



^I read this article but forgot to post it here. Thanks Krow :)

How Open Source Really Is Changing The World

Alan Shimel

Not in the ways you may think, but open source is an engine of change and freedom

It's Friday, I am looking forward to the weekend and wanted to stretch my wings today. So I am going to go off the reservation a bit and talk about world events, politics and yes, open source. We truly live in miraculous times. I know it is easy to say, but really think about it. In just under 25 years we have seen a new world order take hold. The Cold War dynamics that I and many of you grew up with passed almost the blink of an eye. The events of 9/11 moved us to a new era of terrorist threats that had many of us thinking about isolating ourselves from the world. But the call of freedom and democracy marches on.

I sit in front of my TV and/or computer screen every day and am truly amazed at what I see going on in the Mideast and other parts of the world. It seems that some of the last bastions of dictatorship and oppressive ruling governments are crumbling before our eyes. I am not naive. I know that there are still other places and countries where change has to come. I also realize that that regime change doesn't guarantee that we will see true democracy take hold. But the scent of political change is in the wind.

Political change today is not being driven by guns and tanks and airplanes. Those are the tools of the old guard trying to keep the status quo. The forces of change are harnessing technology to effectuate change. The Internet, the social networks, the mobile net, they are all being wielded by a new generation who are using these tools to gain for themselves the freedoms they see their peers in the rest of the world enjoy.

What my generation tried to do with things like "Radio Free Europe" and "Radio Marti", is being accomplished almost effortlessly with Facebook, Twitter and the like. The great thing is that it looks like once these technologies are set loose, the Genie is out of the bottle and can't be put back. People the world over are the same. They yearn for peace, prosperity and the pursuit of happiness. When I was in school as political science major, it was fashionable to say that Eastern Europe and the other parts of the world were not democratic because the people there had no experience with freedom and democracy. They "were not ready" for freedom.

The Internet has changed that in a really short time. It has made everyone ready for freedom and all that it promises. Yes governments can try to hit the "kill switch", they can harness the power of the net to keep their people in line and invade their privacy. They can even set up a "great firewall". But it will not stop people seeking freedom.

When we dig deeper at what is making all of this technologically induced change possible, we find open source at the core. Open Source is empowering the net. God knows Bill Gates and Microsoft would not have embraced the Internet if Linux and other open technologies did not have the potential and were not eating their lunch. Google would not be what it is without open source. For that matter neither would Facebook and Twitter.

I am generally an optimist. I think the changes we are seeing in the world will result in freedom, democracy and peace becoming ever more prevalent in the world. Of course it could go the other way. But at the end of the day, we have technology, the Internet and Open Source to thank for this "change we can believe in".


The Day Firefox Left IE in the Dust

[url="]Katherine Noyes[/url]
Firefox 4's victory is "just another sign that Microsoft is past its prime when it comes to generating excitement," opined Barbara Hudson, a blogger on Slashdot. "For decades users have internalized the 'upgrading Microsoft products can put you in a world of hurt' meme: 'What I've got works. Let someone else be the guinea pig.' Can you blame them?"

Those of us here in the free software community are almost always rooting for new open source products as they debut, but it's not often that we are as completely and thoroughly gratified as we were last week upon the launch of Firefox 4.

With headlines like "Firefox 4 thumps IE9 in first day download contest" and "Why Firefox 4 is winning the browser battle," it was hard to refrain from simply grinning continuously.

Linux Girl spent the majority of the week down at the blogosphere's Punchy Penguin bar, where FOSS fans took no pains to contain their exuberance -- or their perspectives on what Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) did wrong. In the interests of posterity, she took it upon herself to record some of the conversational highlights.

'This Comes as Little Surprise'

"I've been running Firefox 4 since b12, when they turned on acceleration for Linux, so this comes as little surprise to me," Hyperlogos blogger Martin Espinoza offered. "On the other hand, it remains to be seen whether IE9's new security features will be worth a slight reduction in speed.

"As a Linux and Windows XP user, it's fairly irrelevant to me; as an aficionado of numerous Firefox extensions, it is even more so," Espinoza concluded.

Indeed, it was "probably a bit of a hollow victory because Microsoft chose not to support XP for IE9, and that throws away large numbers," Slashdot blogger yagu pointed out. "I think it's a stupid move on Microsoft's part, but they're trying to establish the gentle nudge to all to move to their new flagship, Windows 7."

'If Microsoft Is a Loser, They Earned It'

Microsoft's problem with Internet Explorer "continues to be a mashup of earlier mistakes," yagu opined. "Amazing with all that Microsoft still commands the share they do."

In IE's early days, "Microsoft chose to embrace and extinguish HTML standards," he noted. "With MS clout they snagged huge market share and forced everyone's hand to develop to MS's flavor of browser."

As standards became more important and other browsers became bigger players, however, "IE6 fell out of favor because it was too hard to work with," yagu recalled.

Newer IEs subsequently introduced more compatibility "as Microsoft struggled to regain street cred," yagu continued. "At the same time, Microsoft ticked off a large audience of developers now stuck and tethered to the old standard. Microsoft has left a wake of dazed and confused developers and users while other 'brands' have stayed consistent and improved."

In short, "IE9 could be a great browser," yagu concluded, but "I couldn't care less. I have no inclination to even bother kicking its tires. If Microsoft is a big loser, they earned it."

'Microsoft Is Past Its Prime'

Firefox 4's victory is "just another sign that Microsoft is past its prime when it comes to generating excitement," opined Barbara Hudson, a blogger on Slashdot who goes by "Tom" on the site. "For decades users have internalized the 'upgrading Microsoft products can put you in a world of hurt' meme: 'What I've got works. Let someone else be the guinea pig.' Can you blame them?"

Those "still using IE as their main browser" may also "not be all that fussy about keeping their computers up to date," Hudson suggested.

Consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack focused on privacy.

"I love it when Firefox manages to keep things fast, but I wish browsers would compete on privacy controls since both IE and Chrome both lack the ability to whitelist select cookies and delete the rest at browser close," Mack pointed out.

'I Ignore IE When It Comes to Testing'

Chris Travers, a Slashdot blogger who works on the LedgerSMB project, saw plenty to be cheerful about from a developer's perspective.

"I am positively surprised on a number of counts here," Travers began.

"First, I am pleasantly surprised that IE is progressing as quickly as it is," he said. "That Microsoft offers a more standards-compliant web browser makes life easier for those of us who build open source web apps.

"I still expect to use Chrome and Firefox side by side for most work, and ignore IE when it comes to testing (since I don't run Windows), but it's nice to know I don't have to write IE support off as quickly," Travers added. "That Firefox and IE share the same bugs on the ACID 3 test is good."

'A Lot More Intuitive'

Travers was also "pleasantly surprised that Firefox 4 is learning from Chrome regarding the UI," he noted. "I think that the UI changes are quite positive and make the system a lot more intuitive."

The Firefox button, in fact, "is something Chrome might be able to learn from too, as it took me some time to figure out where to look for what would otherwise be menu items," he explained.

Chrome, indeed, seemed to be Firefox 4's primary competition, at least from the perspective of the bloggers Linux Girl heard.

Chromium-Based Competition

Though he used Firefox for years, for instance, blogger Robert Pogson has now embraced Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) browser instead. It's "incredibly fast, deals with almost all sites well, and combined with Google's Desktop makes a powerful tool for my desktop," he explained.

"While Google's Chrome is growing share at 50 percent per annum, those other browsers are losing share at the rate of 10 percent per annum," Pogson pointed out. "IE is cursed by M$, but Google's Chrome seems to have the right balance of features for me."

Similarly, "I'm typing this on FF4 and frankly this weekend I'll be moving away and saying goodbye to Firefox after many years of loyal usage," Slashdot blogger hairyfeet asserted. "Why? One word: Chromium."

'The Look, But Not the Functionality'

Chromium-based browsers -- hairyfeet's favorite is Comodo Dragon -- "frankly kick the snot out of FF 4," he opined. "The Moz team may have ripped off much of the Chrome GUI (no file/edit/view, bookmarks on the right side, etc.), but sadly it is a case of cargo cult usability where they ripped off the look, but not the functionality."

Firefox, in fact, "seems to have lost its way," hairyfeet opined. "Instead of being the lightning fast browser you can customize, they keep adding more items like Sync instead of letting the users decide. Meanwhile Chrome just keeps on coming, faster and with better security."

So, "IE isn't what is gonna kill FF -- IE is dead, and tying IE9 to Vista and above simply made sure it is as good as dead," he concluded. "No, Chrome will be the one that puts the nail firmly in FF's coffin."

A Community Effort

Not everyone shared that opinion, however.

"The open source community has made Firefox a great success," Travers asserted, "not only through direct code contributions but also (and perhaps more importantly) add-ons like Webdeveloper and Noscript."

As a result, "Firefox is still one of the most important web browsers on the market from a web app developer's viewpoint," he concluded. "The developer share is important and made better due not only to robust developer tools but also solid support for standards."


^Nice shares! I am still in the Firefox brigade though. :)

Is Android Open?

Source: Is Android Open? | Epicenter*|

By Scott Gilbertson

Google is famous in programming circles for redefining words to suit its ideas.

Take “beta,” for example. Most of us take it to mean buggy, pre-release software that’s “mostly working, but still under test.” But Google uses the word to refer to a product that’s ready for general use but is subject to “regular updates and constant feature refinement.”

Now it’s happening again over the term “open.”

Andy Rubin, Google’s Senior Director of Mobile Platforms who oversees Android, gave a similar semantic shuffling to the word “open” in response to a slam by Steve Jobs. The Apple CEO stirred up a hornet’s nest of angry Android developers this week when he suggested, in a lengthy diatribe during an Apple press event, that Google’s mobile operating system was not really “open.”

Rubin responded by sending his first ever tweet, posting the code necessary to download the Android source and compile it on your PC and calling it “the definition of open.”

But whether Android actually qualifies as “open” in the purest sense is up for debate, since downloading and compiling code alone does not make a piece of software open. Bruce Perens, who coined the term “open source” and has been working on its behalf ever since, is suspect of Rubin’s definition.

“The fact that you can check something out and compile it doesn’t mean you have the right to use it,” Perens tells Wired.

In the software world, “open” can be defined around three core traits: a license that insures the code can be modified, reused and distributed; a community development approach; and, most importantly, assurance the user has total freedom over the device and software.

The Android OS is, in strictly legal terms, open source. Android is released under the Apache 2.0 software license, which allows anyone to use, modify and redistribute the code. But while it might meet the letter of the law, Android falls short on the other two points.

It’s the lack of community-based development that Android’s critics say makes it no more “open” than Apple’s locked-down, decidedly not-open iOS model. As Perens says, “most open source projects [include] instant access to changes as they are made … and an open door for anyone to participate.”

Unlike major open source projects like Firefox or the Linux kernel, you can’t see what’s happening behind the scenes with Android, nor can small developers contribute to the project in any meaningful way. Google typically releases major updates to Android at press conferences, not unlike those Apple uses to show off new iPhone features.

Once the code is released, Android developers can download it and do what they want with it, but they have no way of seeing what’s happening behind the scenes every day. If you want to know how Firefox changed last night — however esoteric those changes may be — you can study the changes on the Mozilla site. The same is true of the Linux kernel, Open Office and nearly every other open source project with a website.

It’s not true of Android. While Android may have the legal licensing to qualify as open source, it utterly fails on the equally important issues of transparency and community.

Android basically gives you two options: Accept what Google gives you, or fork the entire codebase. Other than the ability to roll your own version of Android, it’s really no different than iOS, which works on a similar “take what Apple gives you” model.

Facebook’s Joe Hewitt, the Firefox co-creator who is now rumored to be working on a Facebook-branded mobile OS based on Android, chimed in over Twitter. Hewitt says the lack of transparency in the Android development process makes it “no different than iOS to me,” adding, “open source means sharing control with the community, not show and tell.”

The next day, Hewitt followed up with a blog post clarifying his remarks.

“It kills me to hear the term ‘open’ watered down so much. It bothers me that so many people’s first exposure to the idea of open source is an occasional code drop, and not a vibrant community of collaborators like I discovered ten years ago with Mozilla.”

He also recommends people look at Google’s Chrome OS project, which is being run with a level of transparency and community involvement largely absent from Android, and which is a better representation, he says, of Google’s values.

Unfortunately, even if Google were to develop Android in the open, as the Mozilla foundation does with Firefox, it probably wouldn’t help Android be any more open.

While Google’s approach may be a disingenuous use of the word open — as Hewitt says, Google is doing “bare minimum to meet the definition of open” — there is another problem: the phone carriers.

“The problem is the wireless carriers first and Google second,” says Perens, “because Google enables the carriers to close the Android platform from the user’s perspective.” In other words, while you might be able to copy and paste the code from Rubins’ tweet and take a look at Android yourself, what arrives with actual phone is every bit as tightly controlled as iOS.

Just as there are jailbreaking hacks for the iPhone, there are root hacks for Android that attempt to give the end user some control back. That Android is less controlled by its Google parent in other ways — the Android Market, for instance, is not tightly regulated like Apple’s App Store counterpart — is a secondary benefit. Neither device is open in the sense that the end user can modify it as they see fit — customize it perhaps, but adding a new theme and downloading whatever apps you like are not the goals of open software.

The real goal of open software, as Perens and others have help define it over the years, is to ensure that you can do whatever you want with it. As anyone with an iPhone or and Android phone can tell you, that’s not the current state of affairs on either device. Nearly every smartphone on the market is tightly locked to its carrier’s specifications. There are a few exceptions, like the Nokia N900, which runs Maemo Linux.

The carriers argue that open phones would threaten the network. Steve Jobs argues that an open phone would threaten the user experience.

AT&T used to argue both of the same things during most of the 20th century, when it still maintained total control (what Jobs likes to call an “integrated” system) over land lines — you rented phones from AT&T or you didn’t have one. Decades after several massive anti-trust lawsuits and the breakup of Ma Bell, we’ve ended up back in a similar jam.

Even if there were a truly open source OS for your phone, it’s unlikely it would ever truly be open by the time it arrived in your hand.


53 Open Source Replacements to Spice Up Your Desktop

By Cynthia Harvey

Source: 53 Open Source Replacements to Spice Up Your Desktop —

I've listed some of the replacements which caught my eye here. Please follow the link for all. :)

2. Launchy Replaces the Windows start menu and other methods of launching apps

If you hate to use the mouse, Launchy is for you. It lets you open applications, documents, folders, bookmarks and more with just a few keystrokes. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X

29. Debian Replaces Windows

Unlike many of the other Linux distributions on this list, Debian is solely a community project, and its development not sponsored by any commercial organization. It's very popular among long-time Linux users, and its code is the basis for many other distributions, including Ubuntu.

37. Matrixgl Replaces standard Windows screensavers

For those who love the Matrix movies, this screensaver features falling green characters that create images of characters from the The Matrix Reloaded. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X

51. Emerge Replaces the standard Windows interface

This replacement for the Windows shell offers a minimalist interface based on applets. It lets users access programs via a right click instead of the Start Menu, and it offers an application launcher and virtual desktop capabilities. Operating System: Windows

Interesting list, I like to keep my Windows 7 as FOSS based as possible. I'll try these softwares when I go back to using Windows for sure. Currently in love with 10.10. :)


^Thank you. Yes, as long as I am not using graphic designing software needed for some of my work, I am on ubuntu. :)

Android's problem isn't fragmentation, it's contamination

Source: Editorial: Android's problem isn't fragmentation, it's contamination -- Engadget

By Vlad Savov

This thought was first given voice by Myriam Joire on last night's Mobile Podcast, and the simple, lethal accuracy of it has haunted me ever since. All the hubbub and unrest about whether Google is trying to lock Android down or not has failed to address whether Google should be trying to control the OS, and if so, what the (valid) reasons for that may be. Herein, I present only one, but it's arguably big enough to make all the dissidence about open source idealism and promises unkept fade into insignificance.

Let's start off by setting out what the goal behind Android is. It'd be impossible to identify the flaw with Google's strategy if we aren't clear on what it's strategizing toward. From its very inception, Android has been about expanding the reach of Google search. Never mind all the geeky professions of wanting to build a great mobile operating system and one which Googlites themselves would want and be proud to use -- there's no reason to doubt the veracity of those proclamations, but they're symptomatic, a sort of nice side benefit, of the overarching business decision. Google makes its money by selling ads. It sells those ads by serving them up in front of its vast audience, which in turn comes to it primarily through the use of Google search. When faced with the rampant ascendancy of mobile internet use -- and Google deserves credit for identifying the oncoming smartphone craze in good time and reacting to it -- the company knew it simply had to maneuver its products into the mobile realm or face a slow, ignominious path to irrelevancy. Ergo, what Google was really and truly striving for with Android was ubiquity. Instead of having to dance to the merry tune of carriers -- as Microsoft is now having to do with Verizon in order to get it to bundle Bing on some Android devices -- or appease manufacturers' many whims, Google opted to build its own OS, with that specific aim of expanding availability as rapidly and as broadly as was possible.

To say that the goal has been accomplished would be an understatement. Android has stormed every Symbian castle, ransacked every webOS village, threatened the mighty tower of Mordor iOS, and thoroughly resisted the upstart challenge of Windows Phone 7. The reasons for its success and universal acceptance have been twofold. Google has invested plentiful resources into expeditiously building up its Linux derivative for the mobile space, on the one hand, and has decided to make the fruit of that labor available to phone manufacturers without hindrance or demand -- to use as they pleased, for it was open and flexible, and while it wasn't initially beautiful to look at, it was a sturdy platform from which to build.

Many have characterized the resulting melange of multivariate Android skins and devices as generating fragmentation within the OS' ecosystem. That may be true, but is not in itself problematic. If there were no qualitative difference between Android on an HTC device and Android on a Sony Ericsson phone, the end user wouldn't care. He'd call that choice.

Where the trouble arises is in the fact that not all Androids are born equal. The quality of user experience on Android fluctuates wildly from device to device, sometimes even within a single phone manufacturer's product portfolio, resulting in a frustratingly inconsistent landscape for the willing consumer. The Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 is a loud and proud Android phone, but it features an older version of the OS, has had a checkered history with updates, and generally leaves users sore they ever picked it up. At the same time, Samsung's 10 million unit-selling Galaxy S is too an Android phone, one that Google can rightly be proud of. The most irksome example, however, is LG's Optimus 2X -- it has Froyo on board both in its European 2X garb and in its US-bound G2x variety, but the former crashes the browser any time you look at it, while the latter, eschewing LG's customizations and running the stock Android 2.2, is one of the slickest and smoothest devices we've handled yet.

The point is not that carrier or manufacturer customizations should be abandoned entirely (we know how much those guys hate standardization), it's that some of them are so poor that they actually detract from the Android experience. Going forward, it's entirely in Google's best interest to nix the pernicious effects of these contaminant devices and software builds. The average smartphone buyer is, ironically enough, quickly becoming a less savvy and geeky individual and he (or she) is not going to tolerate an inconsistent delivery on the promise contained in the word "Android."

It may seem odd for us to pick faults with an operating system in the midst of a world-conquering tour, but then you only need to look at Symbian's fate to know that fortunes change quickly in the breathlessly developing smartphone realm. All Google really needs to do to patch the cracks and steady its ship is to live up to those rumors of Andy Rubin ruling from above. Dump the X10s and 2Xs from the portfolio of real Android devices -- and Google can do that by denying them access to its non-open source products like Gmail, Maps, and the all-important Android Market -- and give us some respite from having to worry if the next Android will be a rampant robot or a dithering dud. Custom skins can still live on, but it's high time Google lived up to its responsibility of ensuring they're up to scratch before associating its mobile brand with their final product. Such a move may dent the company's valuable reputation as a do-gooder, but if it helps the even more valuable Android OS keep its course toward world domination, surely it'd qualify to be called a good thing in and of itself?


Now I don't agree completely with this. Although Google should ensure that certain quality standards are met when implementing Android on any phone, it will mean trying to control how the OS is customised by the manufacturers. The spirit of Open Source is free as in freedom. The manufacturers should have the freedom to implement their version of Android and end-users should have the freedom to root their device and install any version of Android they like. The coders at XDA forums are doing a great job IMHO.
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The spirit of Open Source is free as in freedom. The manufacturers should have the freedom to implement their version of Android and end-users should have the freedom to root their device and install any version of Android they like.
I agree on that. Users are at the mercy of the mobile companies and some are still shipping old versions :(


Will GNOME 3.0 Repeat the User Revolt of KDE 4.0?

Source: Will GNOME 3.0 Repeat the User Revolt of KDE 4.0? —

By Bruce Byfield

In January 2008, the long awaited KDE 4.0 was released. Immediately, a user revolt erupted.

KDE 4.0 was too radical a change, too lacking in features or stability, too much a triumph of developer's interests over user's -- the accusations seemed endless, and only began to quiet six months later when KDE 4.1 began addressing the shortcomings. Partly, the hostility continues to this day, although for many the KDE 4 series has long ago proved itself.

This April, GNOME 3.0 is scheduled for release. Just as KDE 4.0 was a radical departure from KDE 3.5, so GNOME 3.0 is a radical departure from GNOME 2.32. But will its release trigger another user revolt? Or has the GNOME project -- perhaps learning from KDE's experience -- managed expectations well enough to prevent history from repeating itself?

Certainly, GNOME has tried much harder to handle its own break with the past differently than KDE managed KDE 4.0. But the KDE revolt resulted from multiple causes, and, although GNOME has addressed some of those causes, the underlying problems of the project's relationship to its users remains in some ways disturbingly similar to those faced by KDE three years ago.

Anticipating Release Management Problems

Like KDE 4.0, regular snapshots of GNOME 3.0 have been released as it developed. For the last couple of releases in the GNOME 2.0 series, a GNOME 3.0 preview has been available, although it has not received widespread attention until the beta release earlier this month. In fact, many users seemed unaware of the preview.

However, in general, GNOME is showing much more caution than KDE did. KDE 4.0 was a developer's release that slipped into general circulation partly because of miscommunication and partly because of each distribution's wish to ship the latest software. Consequently, it was not stable or fully-featured, and, according to KDE developers today, was never meant to be. By contrast , GNOME 3.0 has been delayed twice.

Both times, GNOME has explained the delay as a wish to perfect the software. When the release was rescheduled for September 2010 instead of the original April 2010 target, the explanation was that "our community wants GNOME 3.0 to be fully working for users."

Similarly, when the release was postponed a second time, from September 2010 to March 2011, the official reason was to allow "adequate time not only for feature development, but user feedback and testing." Unlike KDE, GNOME has no intentions of producing a developer's release, or of justifying any complaints about lack of stability or features.

Since then, there has been an additional delay of a few weeks. Although no reason has been given for this new delay, slippage of this length is common in free software. It also gives time for the GNOME documentation and marketing teams to have a hackfest to prepare for the release.

In fact, GNOME shows every sign of attempting to manage expectations and rumors about the release. For at least half a year, there has been a page dedicated to debunking rumors about GNOME 3.0. More recently, a website dedicated to the release has maintained a Common Questions and Answers page, as well as a home page that is as much a product sheet as anything you would see in a PDF file released by a commercial company.

All in all, GNOME has made a considerable effort to keep users informed -- far more than KDE ever did in its similar circumstances. However, these efforts are not widely publicized. They were not brought to the attention of the journalists who write about free software -- instead, all users were left to discover these efforts for themselves.

GNOME is apparently preparing publicity for the general release, but, considering that GNOME 3.0 has been two years in the making -- including one year of postponements to the original schedule -- a project with more experience in marketing might have tried harder and earlier to dispel rumors. As things are, GNOME's official marketing efforts may come too late to counter user's expectations and the misinformation that has been floating around the Internet.

Marketing the UnMarketable

At any rate, despite the occasional delusions of marketing managers everywhere, the most expert campaign imaginable is not enough to completely counter what the audience considers unacceptable.

Despite GNOME's efforts to publicize what it has been doing for the last two years, no one seems to have made a concerted effort to learn what users actually wanted in a desktop.

True, GNOME has consulted usability experts, and tried to apply the theory to the building of a new and modern desktop. As Canonical may find in its development of the Unity shell, usability theory in software is often resisted by user's practice.

That is why, although the release's FAQ explains that design decisions were based on "an extensive literature review" and "stock usability principles and knowledge," the fact that only "a small usability study" was done in December 2010 -- after the interface was already well-developed-- is some cause for concern.

The trouble is, a significant proportions of the users of any software are straightforward in their needs, and conservative about change. Apparently, many users -- at least vocal ones -- want little more from a desktop than a place from which to launch their applications. Since that was achieved years ago in GNOME, such users tend to resist anything more than minor changes in the interface. Even when innovations increase efficiency or productivity, a percentage of users will resist them precisely because they are new.

Looking back at the KDE 4.0 release six months later, Aaron Seigo suggested that the release confronted users with more changes than they could handle at once. Much the same could be said about GNOME 3.0.

GNOME can argue that the upcoming release offers "an overview at a glance," but people used to a single screen are still going to be upset by having to change to another one to view activities. Similarly, advertising "distraction-free computing" is not going to reconcile all users to not having applets in the panel -- and never mind whether their equivalent is available elsewhere. The kind of users I am talking about want what they know and know what they want.

For such users, GNOME's invitation in the GNOME 3.0 FAQ to provide feedback is going to be ignored. Most of these users will never see the FAQ, and those who do have little sense of how to use a bug tracker, and no inclination to read up on GNOME design before making their suggestions.

Moreover, if Jeff Waugh is correct, and even an established free software company such as Canonical can have trouble knowing who to talk to in GNOME, then what are the odds of average users finding the most effective way to contribute?

By default, input will tend to be confined to the experts. Should average users succeed in registering their reactions, they are likely to risk being intimidated and ignored -- not necessarily out of any hostility towards them, so much as because most of them will not be strongly motivated to persist and the experts often lack time to educate them in effective advocacy. Projects that want the input of such users have to seek it out patiently, and, in this respect, GNOME seems only slightly better than KDE was.

The result? Like KDE 4.0, GNOME 3.0 is a release that will please developers, with features that will delight programmers and frustrate many users -- in both cases, simply because the features are new.

Ten years ago in free software, developers and users could be assumed to be the same people, but those days are long gone. Today, an increasing number of users have a consumer mindset, and expect developers to deliver what they want. Unfortunately, since what such users apparently want is minor enhancements of what they already know, and developers understandably resent such demands.

A Historical Fugue

Under these circumstances, GNOME 3.0 seems poised to have the same reception as KDE 4.0 did. Since GNOME has tried to mitigate possible responses, the reaction will no doubt be less extreme and less unreasonable. But, since GNOME has not eliminated all the reasons for the reaction, some sort of reaction will likely happen all the same.

Already, a project called EXDE has been formed to continue development of the GNOME 2 series, just as Trinity KDE continues the KDE 3 series. In fact, EXDE has already existed for two months. Its existence may look like the effect coming before the cause, given that Trinity KDE took a couple of years to merge, but the very existence of EXDE is an omen that history is about to repeat itself.

The repetition will not be exact. It never is. But it will be exact enough to emphasize the fact that the free software community is still struggling to define the exact relationship of users and developers.

Admittedly, GNOME is trying much harder than KDE did three years ago to keep users informed and get them involved. Unfortunately, though, the indications are that these efforts will mitigate but not eliminate the consequences of moving faster than users can adjust.

Cool G5

Conversation Architect
I feel people should go steady with GNOME 3. Most would not be ready to jump on it unless it becomes a bit more workable. It should see a similar response like KDE 4 maybe a bit better.


^Hmmm, I started using KDE after version 4, but I did fall in love with it (just see my username). Using KDE 4.6 now and I love it even more.

I guess Gnome 3 will take time to gain acceptance. It should get a chance to prove itself though.

Cool G5

Conversation Architect
^Hmmm, I started using KDE after version 4, but I did fall in love with it (just see my username). Using KDE 4.6 now and I love it even more.

I guess Gnome 3 will take time to gain acceptance. It should get a chance to prove itself though.

Never knew that K was due to your obsession with KDE :p KDE has come a long way after the criticism fire from all sides. Its getting better and better with each passing version. I too was an early adopter of KDE. KDE 3.x was good, KDE 4.0 & 4.1 were passable but then the community has done a really good job with each release.


'PC User' Doesn't Mean 'Windows User'
Katherine Noyes

A Hunch study on 'Mac vs. PC' user personalities implicitly equates PCs with Windows. What about all those using Linux?

It's all too common in the popular press to see the assumption made that "PC" means "Windows PC."

Most mainstream discussions of Windows malware, for example, refer to it as "PC malware" and therefore an industry problem--conveniently sparing Microsoft any direct blame.

PC, however, is short for "personal computer"--a term that includes not just Windows computers but Macs and Linux computers as well. It may seem like a semantic quibble, but it has significant repercussions.

'Computer-Savvy Gearheads'?

To wit: Decision-making site Hunch last week published in an infographic the results of its most recent study on the personality differences between Mac and PC users. Implicit in that analysis, once again, was that "PC users" are on Windows--there's even a Windows icon used to represent them.

The study is full of all kinds of interesting and provocative results, such as that Mac users are younger, more liberal, more urban, more educated and generally more interesting than PC users are. Particularly bizarre, too, is that Mac users were found to consider themselves as "computer-savvy gearheads" more often than PC users were; Macs, in fact, are most notable for their attempt to protect users from the inner working of their machines.

In any case, the Hunch study shines a direct spotlight on many misperceptions and misunderstandings about computers and the operating systems that run them. Let's look at just a few of them.

1. 'PC' != Windows

First off, the term "PC" includes Macs, so that's a poor term to use for distinction.

Second, given the diversity of computing environments today, it is no longer accurate to assume that someone on a non-Mac PC is using Windows. Linux users are growing rapidly in number, and I doubt most would categorize themselves in the same group as Windows users.

That, indeed, is probably at least part of the reason a full 23 percent of respondents to the Hunch study didn't classify themselves in either the PC (Windows) or Mac camps: the two camps are neither well-defined nor comprehensive, since they leave out Linux users altogether.

Hunch also didn't specify, as far as I can tell, whether it was including mobile technologies such as tablet PCs. If it was, that opens up a whole other can of worms--not to mention Linux-based Android.

2. Few Choose Windows

Another assumption implicit in the Hunch study is that those who do use Windows do so by choice.

It certainly seems true that Mac users choose their platform, by and large, and it may be true in some cases for Windows users, too. Microsoft still holds such a monopoly over non-Mac PCs, however, that most people get Windows on their machine whether they want it or not. Windows is everywhere, unfortunately, and so Windows users are too, simply by default.

That situation is improving, to be sure--just recently, in fact, it's become clear that Microsoft is getting its operating system onto fewer and fewer of the new computers that ship. Most recently, more than a third are shipping without it.

Still, it's mistaken to assume that Windows users are Windows users by choice. Most simply go with what comes on their hardware. That being the case, I'm not sure you can draw many conclusions about personalities based on the fact that they use Windows.

3. What About Linux?

Most notable of all about the Hunch data, however, is that it completely ignores the third big contender in the operating-system arena: Linux.

Certainly, Linux users are still a minority--if you're not counting Android, especially. They are a growing contingent, however--as recent Wikipedia visitor data can attest--and I think Hunch's 23 percent non-response group underscores that fact.

What's had me thinking over the past few days is how Linux users would compare, had they been recognized by Hunch and allowed to respond as a group. Would they say that "talking about computers is akin to struggling with a foreign language," the way "PC" users did? I don't think so.

How do you think Linux users' responses would compare? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Cool G5

Conversation Architect
'PC' != Windows = This won't change for sometime as there is not much of Linux penetration in India considering one gets windows for free(pirated) when he/she gets his new computer. Again people don't like changes.


Why Is Ubuntu's Unity Squeezing out GNOME 3?

By Matt Hartley

Not too long ago, I wrote about Ubuntu's embrace of the Unity desktop and what that would mean for Ubuntu users who might prefer a traditional GNOME shell.

At the time, I was called out by some readers regarding my belief that Ubuntu was limiting itself with its choice in relying on Unity. Now as we approach Ubuntu 11.04, it looks as if I might have been right all along.

While users can certainly select the older GNOME shell, the move to the Unity desktop has clearly not been greeted with unanimous applause.

Unity is not GNOME 3

One fact that ought to be made clear from the start is that in the name of Ubuntu seeking to make Unity their default desktop experience, the development team has indeed locked some users into a singular desktop experience. "But Matt, that's nonsense! Users can install any desktop they choose! Besides, if they want GNOME 3 instead, users can just add the PPA repository for it!"

The above statement is what I feel makes this entire thing surrounding Unity so amusing. In the Ubuntu development team's desire to make Ubuntu more "accessible," they're actually assuming new users even realize other desktop environments are possible.

Newsflash – most of the newer users I encounter have no idea that another desktop is even an option.

This means when a less informed Ubuntu user sees the GNOME 3 provided shell on distributions such as Fedora, they may find themselves making the switch away from Ubuntu. While this matters little to the community at first glance, longer term this only adds more fragmentation to the community at large.

”Unity,” indeed.

Is Unity even worth it?

I know of many people who feel strongly that Unity is the next logical step for Ubuntu. And it's entirely possible that the Unity desktop could be well received by most people. That's something we'll have to wait and see how it turns out.

From my perspective, however, I think it's not only going to be a massive disaster for the existing user base, but I'm skeptical as to the value Unity will deliver in the first place. Then again, the same could be said about the default shell provided by GNOME 3 on other Linux distros.

Xfce is looking great these days

Speaking for myself, I'll almost certainly be selecting the Xfce desktop, as I've had enough of GNOME and Canonical. The dumbing down of the Linux desktop environment is bordering on insane.

Half of me finds this entire process amusing, while the other half is getting tired of Ubuntu making the Linux community look foolish with heavy-handed motives. Unity is to Linux what the Windows XP UI was to Windows users. It feels like some dumbed down, "Fisher Price" experience gone terribly wrong.

Some may disagree with me on this, but I stand by my opinion. Given more time, Unity could actually become something very useful for netbooks and tablets. But in its current incarnation, it just stinks.

I don't hate Ubuntu

I have no problem with Ubuntu per se. Much of what their developers have done has been nothing short of amazing. They've taken the magic that is Debian and created a powerful community around it. This is commendable.

As for the Unity desktop, it has the potential to become a mature alternative to what most of us are accustomed to. And yet I still argue that it's nowhere near ready for prime time, either in stability or in general layout, but that is up to each individual.

At its very best, I see Unity as a being a great option for netbooks and later on for tablets. But on the mainstream desktop PC for casual Linux users? No way, it's never going to work.

If I do use Ubuntu on any of my desktop machines, I'll be using the distro with another non-GNOME desktop. Between GNOME 3's shell leaving out the minimize option, to the lack of customizability from Canonical's Unity desktop, I just can't take it anymore. The entire GNOME 3 shell vs. Unity debate has me spinning in circles.

Work-a-rounds vs real user choice

As previously mentioned, I explained how one could add a PPA repository to basically allow for the removal of the Unity desktop and replace it with the traditional GNOME 3 shell.

Some users might even feel good about calling this a solution to the whole Unity alternative issue. Wrong.

What's actually possible is for users to either default back to an older GNOME experience or remove Unity in its entirety instead. Using the PPA solution is a hack, nothing more.

Some of you might be quick to point out that, to a degree, the Linux desktop is basically a series of hacks. This may be true, but this isn't the position that Canonical's taking with their push to offer Unity. Unity alternatives shouldn't require people to hack past the default Ubuntu desktop.

Opportunity and compromise

To prevent this piece from becoming nothing more than a spotlight on a problem with Ubuntu, allow me to suggest a compromise.

When I visit, I'm instantly bombarded with the feeling that it's a "Unity experience" only. Why not make a greater effort in highlighting some of the Ubuntu derivatives?

The derivatives page provides some great GNOME desktop alternatives. Yet what I find annoying is that the derivatives webpage link is at the bottom of the homepage footer in the smallest text possible. No one is ever going to think to look there for an alternative to the Unity desktop.

This is a real shame, considering many might otherwise like the Ubuntu core but wish to try a different approach to the desktop environment.

Canonical feels strongly about using GNOME 2.x with their Unity desktop shell. Yet many existing users will find themselves less than impressed with the limits placed within the Unity experience. Why not provide plenty of detail about the desktop environment alternatives out there?

I don't mean buried in the existing website, but during the installation. Why not mention that if the Unity thing isn't working out, users can indeed try some of the great derivatives using the Ubuntu core? I simply don't see this as being such a big deal that derivatives can't be given more of the spotlight.

After all, if Unity goes over as badly as I think it might, wouldn't it be a good idea to have some alternative desktop environments at the ready?

Desktop split testing

Another possibility is that in addition to more outward support for Ubuntu derivatives, Canonical might have been wise to try some desktop split testing. Wouldn't it have made sense to have done testing with both Unity and GNOME 3's shell? Surely if GNOME 3 is so devoid of what the users want, testing both options would only serve to shore up Canonical's views?

Final thoughts

I want to reiterate something that will likely come up later. First, I enjoy using Linux on my desktop and have been an Ubuntu user for many years. I'm thrilled to see the Ubuntu developers take a stab at something new, even if I find it to be painful to use. Where I have a gripe is in the fact that the developers based their desktop on a very singular view. Others will disagree and that's perfectly fine with me.

Lastly, if split testing is something that just doesn't make any sense as it requires too many resources, why not at least give the Ubuntu derivatives some extra emphasis? What better way to absorb any potential PR fallout pointing to alternative desktop options using the Ubuntu core?

At the end of the day, nothing covered here is the end of the world. If Unity is a smashing success, I will be thrilled for all those involved. But if I'm right and this becomes the Windows Vista of the Ubuntu experience, I fear that not utilizing at least some of my suggestions above will yield some nasty blow-back for everyone involved.


I agree with the author's conclusion. I like the fact that the Ubuntu devs tried something new, but if Unity breaks when we install Gnome 3, then what is the point?


^Err..Guys please instead of copy-pasting the whole article, just mention the source OR just mention a part of the article with the link to the source for the full details.
@Krow: o_O don't quote the whole humongous post :p
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Well, this is the articles thread and hence it is full of articles. The point of posting the article here is that you don't need to click again to read it. :)


Ubuntu 11.04 Unity Keyboard Shortcuts and Tricks

Ubuntu 11.04 Unity Keyboard Shortcuts and Tricks

The new Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) operating system introduced a different user interface, designed by Canonical, called Unity. With it, the Ubuntu development team also released some keyboard shortcuts for easy usage.

With this article we want to inform our readers who use Ubuntu 11.04 with Unity about some very useful and helpful mouse tricks and keyboard shortcuts.

With these tricks and shortcuts, users should familiarize with Unity and find it very useful and user friendly.

Without any further introduction, we will let you now test the following mouse tricks on your brand new Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) operating system. Remember, you must use Unity!

Unity Mouse Tricks:
  • If you want to maximize a window - drag the window to the upper screen edge
  • If you want to restore a window to it's original position - outside of the menu duble-click the panel
  • If you want to maximize a window in height - middle-click on the maximize button
  • If you want to maximize a window in width - right-click on the maximize button
  • If you want to place a window on the left side - drag the window to the left screen edge
  • If you want to place a window on the right side - drag the window to the right screen edge

And now, some very useful keyboard shortcuts that will make your life much easier when using the Unity interface.

Unity Keyboard Shortcuts:
  • Windows key - shows the Unity launcher
  • Windows key + [number] - activates or opens the corresponding applications in the Unity launcher
  • Windows key + Shift + [number] - opens the corresponding applications in the Unity launcher if it's already running
  • Windows key + T - opens the Trash
  • ALT + F1 - puts focus on the Unity launcher and you can use the arrow keys to navigate
  • ALT + F2 - opens the run a command dialog
  • CTRL + ALT + T - opens a terminal window
  • Windows key + A - opens the Applications widget
  • Windows key + F - opens the Files & Folders widget

Window Management Keyboard Shortcuts:
  • Windows key + D - maximizes or restores all windows
  • CTRL + ALT + Numpad key 1 - places a window in the lower left corner
  • CTRL + ALT + Numpad key 2 - places a window in the lower half corner
  • CTRL + ALT + Numpad key 3 - places a window in the lower right corner
  • CTRL + ALT + Numpad key 4 - places a window in the left half of the screen
  • CTRL + ALT + Numpad key 5 - centers or maximizes a window
  • CTRL + ALT + Numpad key 6 - places a window in the right half of the screen
  • CTRL + ALT + Numpad key 7 - places a window in the upper left corner
  • CTRL + ALT + Numpad key 8 - places a window in the upper half corner
  • CTRL + ALT + Numpad key 9 - places a window in the upper right corner
  • CTRL + ALT + Numpad key 0 - maximizes a window
Workspace Management Keyboard Shortcuts:
  • Windows key + W - shows all desktops and windows (Expo Mode)
  • CTRL + ALT + Up Arrow - navigate to the workspace above
  • CTRL + ALT + Right Arrow - navigate to the workspace on the right
  • CTRL + ALT + Left Arrow - navigate to the workspace on the left
  • CTRL + ALT + Down Arrow - navigate to the workspace below
  • CTRL + ALT + SHIFT + Up Arrow - move a window to the workspace above
  • CTRL + ALT + SHIFT + Right Arrow - move a window to the workspace on the right
  • CTRL + ALT + SHIFT + Left Arrow - move a window to the workspace on the left
  • CTRL + ALT + SHIFT + Down Arrow - move a window to the workspace below

We do hope that with this article you've learned something useful and that it will make your life much easier with the new Unity interface of the Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) operating system.

5 issues that could derail Google's Chromebook

As a longtime observer of Linux, I, too, am excited about Chromebooks’ prospects on the business desktop.

I agree wholeheartedly with my colleague’s positive assessment of its chances — Google’s attractive pricing and packaging, security measures and brand name will no doubt boost Linux’s stature in the desktop/laptop world, finally. Another core value — the Chromebook’s ability to serve as a hub and on ramp to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications — makes the Linux PC a far more compelling alternative to Windows than past Linux desktop operating systems.

But I’ll toss in five issues that will also no doubt present challenges for Google’s latest open source operating system (and Android as well):

1. Timing
If it is as successful as the Chrome browser, the ChromeOS will enjoy a nice pickup in market share in no time. But its debut comes at an awkward moment, when business users are beginning to make the leap from the netbook to the iPad or tablet. In the last month or so, I’ve heard numerous reports that corporate purchasing agents are putting in orders for Apple iPad 2s. Even the Motorola Xoom — which runs Google’s other other open source Linux OS, Android 3.0 — is getting a lot of attention because of its ultra portable form factor. Is the Chromebook a little late?

2. Mac Attack
It is breaking news that a Mac is no longer anathema in the corporate world. My brother is an IT guy and is taking iPad configuration orders for his business users on a daily basis now. It’s the first time in his career that POs are getting okayed for anything other than a Windows desktop or laptop. My SO — who has a mega collection of new and older Windows PCs and laptops in office– was also told by the brass at that billion-dollar company to get an iPad 2 immediately. These are the kind of real world indicators that matter. Can the Chromebook or Android tablet, for that matter, curtail Apple’s rise in the business computing world?

3. Marketing Issues
The beauty of open source is freedom and choice. Even Google is giving its audience of users a choice between two open source operating systems — Android and ChromeOS. But will this present a conflict for users — a fear of betting on the wrong horse? It’s hard to say at this point. I, for one, have a DroidX and am looking at the tablet as my next choice. Should I go with a Motorola Xoom or an Acer ChromeOS? This will be tricky for Google’s marketing arm. Another point: If Google aims to go after the business market, it must sign up a Dell or IBM to launch Chromebooks.

4. Fragmentation Issues
I guess i can accept the fact that Google will open source Android 3.0 when it is ready. But I wonder how Google intends to run that open source project — and this ChromeOS open source project — going forward. There are practical considerations that must be taken into account, especially the needs of device manufacturers. But Linux is Linux, and the rules of the GPL must be respected in order to maintain continued innovation and growth. Keeping developers happy is essential for the growth of Google-targeted applications and innovation on the OS front itself. Linux backers applaud Google’s success, but their patience won’t last forever.

5. Quality issues
I love using my Droid and DroidX, particularly since both devices run the Android open source operating system. But I do run into quality snags here and there that my fellow iPhone users do not seem to experience. Sometimes the touch pad does not work properly. Sometimes the device starts dialing numbers wildly. Sometimes it takes a long time for the OS to load up. I have talked to analysts to determine whether these are my bads, but am told that these issues are well known to Google. These are major headaches and ones that Google must resolve quickly. Will these quality issues take a back seat as Google tries to build a ChromeOS following? Google’s focus on quality– for both Android and the ChromeOS — will be paramount here, especially as Apple makes headway in the business market. Both operating systems must run spectacularly, and bugs and security holes must be fixed quickly. Google already has problems with one of those operating systems. Why should I expect these quality issues to disappear with two to support in house?
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^You should take a little care while pasting. ;)

SyGeek said:
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Serves no purpose. :)

Nice share though. Thanks for posting. :)
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