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Open Source

  • Is Linux finally ready for the desktop?

    For the last eight years, I have seen articles proclaiming that Linux is almost ready for the Desktop. In fact, on sites like Slashdot, comments along those lines tend to get modded as 'Funny'. But the tide seems to be turning. AMD is reportedly backing an open-source project that is looking to port the Android operating system onto PCs powered by x86-based processors. If this sort of initiative gains momentum, will it finally see Linux make it to the mainstream market for desktop computers? And if so, is it too late? Nowadays the tech-media would have us believe that...

  • Is HTML 5 the olive branch for the Open Web?

    The web is in a state of transition where the experience and more so, the language of the web is receiving a makeover. This update, however, does not just improve the functionality, but promotes everybody to speak the same language. The open web, or a standardised architecture, is very promising and this doesn't necessarily need to happen in one extreme and daunting overhaul. That's according to Robert Nyman, Technical Evangelist for Mozilla. The experience of the Web is evolving along with our expectations and the capabilities of the current level of technology. So as our computers and phones become faster...

  • This week in design: Floating orchestras, Mark Shuttleworth talks Ubuntu

    Looking to forms of functional design, we discover clocks that tell stories, orchestras that float, fashion that becomes food, bacteria that becomes fashion and a lamp that doubles up as a miniature greenhouse. Also see what maverick entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth has to say about his open source Ubuntu software project. Story telling Story Time by Atelier NL with Laikingland is a time piece that doesn’t tell the time but tells a story as a sequence of events. By questioning our perceptions of time, Story Time encourages clock-watchers to look at time in a different way. Story Time is made...

  • How open source can help you build a voice-activated robotic arm

    Sometimes you stumble on the most interesting projects, and you get all inspired to start making stuff yourself. The other day, I came across a really cool DIY attempt at building a voice activated robotic arm. Okay, to be fair, the robotic arm is already built, but the good news is that it only costs around US$55. You can buy it directly from OWI if you're based in the US, or you can buy it from Maplin if you're in the UK. The rest of the project is built on freely available open-source software, and doesn't look particularly difficult...

  • Replicant: Making Android truly free

    Nearly everybody knows that Android is built on top of a Linux kernel, so that should mean that it is good old-fashioned open-source software, right? Actually, that's not the case. Since Linux is released under the GNU Public license, Google is forced to release the source code for the Linux kernel that Android runs on. While many other software components on the phone are licenced under the Apache 2.0 license which allows the software to be distributed freely, this license does not necessarily require that the source code be released. To make matters worse, Google has allowed many vendors...

  • Five easy ways to get you coding

    I've been hacking together bits of code for years now. I'm not entirely sure how it all started, but it was probably way back when I built my first FreeBSD box and started playing around with a bit of simple shell-scripting. Back then, if you wanted to run any Unix variant, or even Linux, getting things like X-Windows to work properly was a real chore so you usually ended up spending a lot of time on the command line, which used to be the best place to get you started if you wanted to learn how to code. Nowadays,...

  • Apple slaps Open Source Amahi with ‘app store’ cease and desist

    Many of today’s Technorati veer towards multiple computers and devices at home. Any home network worth shaking a stick at will have some sort of server, whether it is a standalone NAS device, a little firewall powered by Smoothwall, or the somewhat disappointing Windows Home Server. The past few years have seen the rise of a fantastic open source alternative to Windows Home Server, the Amahi Linux Home Server. It provides a set of common features for the home network: VPN access, media streaming, backups, shared calendars, centralised file storage and so on. It is also highly extensible through...

  • Six malware milestones: From Brain to Anna Kournikova

    A portmanteau of malicious and software, ‘malware’ is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “malicious software, such as a virus, which is specifically designed to disrupt or damage a computer system”. In today's society malware is a given. However, this wasn't always the case. In the not-so-distant past, the release of a new computer virus was something which was reported on much like today’s latest Apple innovations. With this year being recognised as the 25th anniversary of malware, it makes sense to look at a history of the most iconic, destructive and memorable malware. Brain Created in January of 1986, Brain is...

  • Canonical: Hardened corporate or community leader?

    Open Source is starting to become a very lucrative business model these days and I think we have Google to thank for that. However, this means money is coming in for people who didn’t get much before and who feel that it’s long overdue. Naturally capitalist greed gets the better of the once generous and the Gnome Foundation and Canonical have locked horns. Let’s investigate the situation a little further. Background Founded by South African entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth, Canonical is the corporate backer of Ubuntu, the third most popular desktop operating system in the world after Windows and MacOS. Ubuntu is built...

  • Blunders, hoaxes and public humiliation – Wikipedia’s ‘top’ 15

    Most of the time, Wikipedia does an amazing job of providing useful, correct and relevant information on almost any topic you can think of. But from time-to-time, errors slip into the system, vandals play practical jokes and some people get humiliated in front of the whole world. Here's a list of some memorable Wikipedia blunders -- some serious, some hilarious. David Beckham was a Chinese goalkeeper in the 18th century. Now that is impressive. He's over 200 years old and can still bend a ball into a net with such ease? This statement was the result of a hoax which...

  • Google pushes free video codec for HTML5

    Google has taken a neutral approach to HTML5 video since it was first suggested, but now it seems like it has chosen a side -- its own. It has decided to remove the patent-encumbered H.264 codec from the Google Chrome browser, which now only supports its in-house developed WebM format. Google bought video codec company On2 Technologies in February 2010 in order to acquire the rights to what was the top performing video codec on the market at the time, VP8. The most commonly used video codec at the moment is Apple’s H.264 which is used with most Flash-based videos...

  • Ubuntu’s fundamental flaw: Frozen full-screen apps

    A fundamental flaw has dogged Ubuntu through the years and there is still no sign of it being resolved. Misbehaving applications are one of the first hurdles that an operating system must overcome. Microsoft Windows endured mountains of criticism in its early days for allowing badly written applications to bring the whole OS to its knees. Linux is, in most circumstances, very resilient in handling problematic applications and Ubuntu is no exception to this. These problems are "water off a ducks back" for Ubuntu and the operating system will happily continue doing its thing when an app freezes or crashes....

  • Migrating your business to an open source solution

    Too often, open source software is portrayed as an all-or-nothing option. In reality, a mixed environment is the first step to a successful migration. Free and open source software is famously versatile. Think of just about any piece of software your business uses and chances are there is an open source alternative. And if there isn't then someone, somewhere, is working on it. Being so versatile means that open source software can be used in almost any situation, from desktop applications to cloud computing servers, which can often entice businesses down the path of a wholesale open source...

  • The secrets to success with Ubuntu OS

    Ubuntu is an impressive operating system and can be incredibly rewarding once you’re comfortable using it. People keep asking me for suggestions on how to get started with this OS so I’ve decided to write up my suggestions, which will hopefully ease a few more people towards adoption. The points below assume that the reader has at least an intermediate level of computing skill. If you’re not quite at that point yet, then it might not be worth the effort. Install the 64 bit version Unless you are installing Ubuntu Netbook Edition or your computer is more than five years old you...

  • 7 benefits of open source software for small business

    The current tough economic climate has hit small and medium-sized businesses and start-ups hard, particularly in emerging markets where safety nets are few and far between. Consequently, organisations are looking for every possible way to cut costs and increase profit margins without risking efficiency. The use of open source software (OSS) as an alternative to proprietary software in the technical management of many business processes is an effective way of doing just that. What...