Gary Richmond's articles

How to help build a free software search engine and use it too. Welcome to Wikia

Mention Jimmy Wales and you automatically think Wikipedia; however, that is not his only love child. The Wikia search engine is his latest offspring -- or least it was when it was launched in January 2008. Wikia has been devised as a free software and open source alternative to Google and othersNow.

Songbird plus Mozilla, the ultimate media mashup for your music

GNU/Linux has come a long way since XMMS, the Winamp wannabe. The number of free media players has bloomed: Amarok, Banshee, Rhythmbox, Kaffeine, Kplayer and JuK. They have enough features to cater for every need a dedicated music lover could wish for. So Songbird, which is not even at version 1.0, would have its work cut out to rival those media players especially the ability to play video as well as music. But Songbird has one unique feature. It has a built-in browser, Mozilla, which allows it to extract maximum mileage from your music collection. Web integration leverages your music and allows you to do some really great stuff. This article will look at the features of Songbird that make it an essential addition to any installation.

Crossweavers Chromium: some wine to go with your chrome sir (and some bugs too)?

A few weeks ago I discussed the main features of the Chrome browser and Google's motives; at that point I was like the poor child, nose pressed against the window pane, looking inside at the sumptuous feast at the master's table. I, like all GNU/Linux users, hadn't been invited. Same as ever. Crossweavers decided to gate crash the party and bring their own drink too. In short, in just eleven days from the launch of Chrome they built a version running under Wine, and although their products are proprietary and they usually reciprocate by giving code back to free software like Wine, this time they gave it away for free. Thus did Chrome become Chromium and I had a chance to download and install it. Reader, I benchtested it.

Krusader: one file manager to rule them all

I don't like KDE4. I don't like the Dolphin file manager either. There, I said it. I'm not trying to start a flame war. Really. But those dislikes are proportional to my concern about the future of Konqueror. For my money, it is just about one of the best things before and since sliced bread. I loved it enough to write about here at length and in depth. As a file manager it is packed to the gunnels with power features and as a browser it's not half bad either. The integration of both in this universal document viewer is the killer feature but it is getting rather left behind behind in the Web 2.0 goldrush. I worry that it might wither on the vine. Then, I discovered Krusader. It's a massively powerful and feature-packed twin panel file manager and if Dolphin isn't cutting the mustard Krusader might just be what you've been looking for.

OpenStreeMaps: free software's answer to Google and commercially-restricted geo-data

In a recent article on free software and the Large Hadron Collider I mentioned that here in the United Kingdom The Guardian, a national British newspaper, had founded a campaign called "free our data". They objected to the fact that the Ordnance Survey (and others), funded by the British taxpayer, was charging business and individuals for its cartographic data thus effectively making people pay for it twice. Their campaign is great but until such times as it succeeds an alternative is needed. A free software alternative. Enter OpenStreetMaps.

Google Earth and Google Maps are too well know to require iteration here, but the spectre of proprietary software haunts them. They are not free software. If you want to incorporate any of them into you budding business project and run your software under a relatively permissive licence for others to take up your ideas and improve them you will have to find something else.

Just like Wikipedia, on which it is loosely modelled, OpenStreetMaps is resolutely free software. It is an attempt, by community participation, to map the Earth.

Google's Knol: it's a Wikipedia Jim but not as we know it

The launch of Google's Chrome has created a frenzy of online activity (just Google it and it will return in excess of fifty one million results), including mine. and already the world and his wife has been busy publicising tips, tricks and hacks. There is absolutely no doubt that Google is very serious about its new baby. They hired no less than four Firefox developers--Ben Goodger, Pam Greene, Darin Fisher and Brian Ryner. Enough said. It wasn't dreamed up on the spur of the moment as another speculative product of the Summer of Code. Can the same be said of Knol? What is it, how does it work and more importantly, does it conform with the principles of free software and is it a serious challenger to Wikipedia?

The Large Hadron Collider switches on. If it's the end of the world, it will be powered by GNU/Linux

You know a science story is big when an experiment gets first or second billing on the main evening news--and it's not even a slow news day. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is up and running as I write and as far as I can tell I'm still here, so it looks like the doomsayers were a little premature. Unless I'm writing this piece from the far side of the singularity of a black hole in a parallel universe.

The LHC is an huge experiment (a snip at $10 billion) to explore the very small and very energetic sub-atomic world to verify, amongst other things, if the Higgs Boson really exists. That will be a monumental triumph for science and the human spirit. I have always been fascinated by particle physics, despite by academic background in the Humanities and I will be following the progress at CERN with great interest. I am particularly pleased too because free software will be at the heart of this colossal human endeavour. GNU/Linux has been, is and will continue to power CERN's efforts. This is a wonderful opportunity to tell the world that Windows doesn't rule the roost.

Google's Chrome, Mozilla, Explorer, rendering engines: let the war begin

Chrome is in fact a reference to the imminent release of Google's entry into the browser market. Apparently, the launch was accidentally "leaked" by a Google employee who was a little piggy fingered with the send button on his e-mail client. By the time you read this it may be available for download (probably Windows only in the first instance). I was intrigued by this because there have been "reviews" of Chrome already and the reason for this is the unique way Google has chosen to announce it. If you were launching a new browser, or anything else, would you do it through the medium of a comic?

Webmin: can a graphical front end for system administration replace the command line?

This article will tell you how to install and use Webmin, a web user interface mainly used for administering servers. If you are not a sysadmin, don't run away: Webmin can also be used on a single desktop too. You may struggle to remember all the command line operations to manage, say, run levels or various daemons and prefer to do it the GUI way. One of the best reasons for using Webmin is to circumvent the sheer number of command line variations from distro to distro and the different locations for configuration files that you would otherwise require to memorize (manpages notwithstanding).

SliTaz live CD: small but beautifully marked

When I came across the oddly named SliTaz I really didn't know what to expect. Yet another predictable fork of some better known distro which would blaze briefly in the free software firmament, burn out and fall to Earth, spent? Boy, was I ever wrong. If you want to know why Switzerland may be about to become better known for more than chocolate and Cuckoo clocks, read on and be prepared to be impressed and delighted by a live distro of exceptional speed and size.

Is Microsoft trying to kill Apache?

When the story about Microsoft shelling out $100,000 to Apache for ASF sponsorship broke across my radar it rather tickled my funny bone and my curiosity. When ASF Chairman Jim Jagielski declared that "Microsoft's sponsorship makes it clear that Microsoft "gets it" regarding the ASF" I had a fit of the giggles--and then, like many others, I started to ponder on the reasons why and what it actually meant.

GNU/Linux free software tools to preserve your online privacy, anonymity and security

Whether you are online or offline, freedom matters. Like good health you never think about it or miss it until it is under threat or actually gone. If you love freedom, you probably love free software and it has given us some terrific tools with which to defend freedom. In this article I will give an overview of some of the available resources (Freenet, Wikileaks and Tor) to protect dissident opinion, facilitate whistle blowing and promote the safe and anonymous development of free software.

Acer's Linpus Linux Lite (Fedora) ultra portable laptop piles the pressure on Microsoft

First Asus , then Dell, then MSI , Elonex, the Cloud and all their clones. Now Acer has entered the fray and it is all, at least initially, good news. It looks like they've all found a bit of Dutch courage and started to turn on the schoolyard bully from Redmond.

Hotwire: a combined terminal/GUI for GNU/Linux

There is nothing more guaranteed to ignite a bad tempered, incandescent flame war that an outbreak of hostilities between the rival Gnome and KDE camps. Well, except perhaps a slanging match between the champions of the GUI and the command line. Enter stage left the compromise candidate which might just unite the warring factions: Hotwire.

Will the internet really improve the way we think?

In a recent interview with the British Sunday Observer, Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, claimed that "it's the next billion [internet users] who will change the way we think". Such a big claim deserves some critical house room. Will the internet really change the way we think? Or are we just getting carried away?

Is Asus backsliding on GNU/Linux?

Businesses are not philanthropists. They are not, intentionally, educators or evangelists for ideologies. However, from time to time their business models just happen to coincide with their more idealistic customers own interests. Asus is one such company.

When they launched the little EeePC they could scarcely have imagined the extraordinary reaction it would cause. They say that any publicity is good publicity but the reaction to the two pound wonder was almost universally favourable. It was hot. I mean nuclear hot. And it was GNU/Linux.

A Technological Singularity: What are the Implications for Free Software?

I was at another meeting of the Editorial board of the Skibbereen Eagle yesterday. Hopefully you read the outcome of the last one. Some clever clogs suggested that it might be a spiffing wheeze to write something about the possible implications of the much mooted singularity (is that a proper noun, with a capital S?) and what it might mean for the future of both free and proprietary software.

Running a GNU/Linux desktop on the web with Ulteo

Is it possible to develop full GNU/Linux desktops that run on the web and can therefore be accessed from anywhere? We already have a flavour of this with web-based services such as Google's Gmail, Google Docs and online storage space but these are run from the user's own desktop and are restricted to bespoke services. What about full desktops? Enter Ulteo, created by Gael Duval.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Gary Richmond's articles