Looking for a no-nonsense command-line tool for monitoring your GNU/Linux system? Glances might be right up your alley. This neat little Python-based utility provides an overview of all key system aspects, including CPU load, disk storage, memory consumption, and network activity. More importantly, the utility does a good job of presenting monitored data in an easy-to-follow manner.
Software is becoming less and less important. Most people today just don't care about what software they use, what operating system they run, or who is behind the pretty screens they see. What they want, is something that works. Or, better, anything that works. This shift caused a series of changes which shook the whole industry. One of them amongst them: are GNU/Linux and free software in general just not cool anymore? Google Trends gives some interesting answers.
I write this article exactly 24 hours after receiving my Galaxy Tab 10.1. It's something I've been wanting for a long time. I had to wait for the dispute between Apple and Samsung to settle (Samsung actually lost on millions of dollars worth of sales thanks to software patents, but that's another story). After all that, I came to the realisation that we are in front of a forking path. On one side there is the death of GNU/Linux as we know it. On the other side, there is a new exciting world where free software is still relevant. I am not writing this just to be "sensational": here is why.
I am becoming more and more convinced that the real thread to free software (and I am talking here about software released under a free license, not software that you can download and use for free) is contempt. Proprietary software is a competitor, but not a real threat. Proprietary software cannot really kill free software: no matter how many law suits you start, how many patents you file, how many pre-installed versions of Windows you have, common sense will always win. Contempt, however, the the real danger.
My son has expressed an interest in getting into robotics as a hobby/learning exercise, which is pretty exciting to me, too. I want to get us set up to do some fun stuff, and I don't want things to be too hard so that we never really get started. One of the obvious choices for this is the Lego Mindstorms system, but the software that comes with it is designed only for Windows and Macintosh systems. Fortunately, there are free software alternatives. What will it cost in time and money to set up using our Debian GNU/Linux computers, and what will we get for that effort?
After installing Ubuntu 10.10, I had a strange feeling I was seeing something that was already old. Yes, Ubuntu is a fantastic desktop system, and yes it's better than Windows. But today, in 2010, that's almost a given. And that's not enough. The IT world is changing, and PCs themselves as a whole are getting old. The mass is moving towards tablets, mobiles machines, and netbooks. Ubuntu, the way it is today, might be the best choice in a dinosaur world. I can't read Mark Shuttleworth's mind, but I can only guess this is exactly what he felt when he decided to switch to Unity (for the UI) and Wayland (for the graphics architecture). Let me explain what all of this means.
I am typing this as I am finally connected in shell to my Android phone. The prompt reminds me that it's based on the Linux kernel (it's free), the Dalvik virtual machine (it's free), and free libraries. Millions of Android devices are shipped every day, each one is a Linux system. Today, it's phone. Soon, it will be tablets: Android 3.0 (coming out at the end of the year) will finally be very suitable for tablets. Apple alone will have to face fierce competition on pretty much every front. Microsoft... who? They are more irrelevant every day. I should be happy, right? Well, sort of. Looking back at how long it took me to get this shell prompt makes me worried. Very worried. We are heading towards a world where we no longer own the hardware we buy -- and there is no point in having free software if you can't own your hardware.
This is an aspect of FOSS that is regaining some measure of interest: for years, it was considered that writing production-ready FOSS meant lean and mean software. However, recent events have shown that, in the case of the Linux kernel, this is no longer exactly true: performance is dropping slowly yet steadily.
I love computers and have sat in front of it for hours and probably days at a time forgetting food, bath. Even today I took a bath at 6 PM, its a custom in India that one must take a bath at dawn, well I forgot and somehow remembered!
I like to teach art of computing to others. Its an obedient machine and does what you tell it to do. There was passion, and spark what lacked was tons of money. I have to settle in for shoe string budget to open my own training center. I had no choice and hence in came free software.
Latest from the Bizarre Cathedral.
Free software is definitely going strong in some areas, especially in the server market. However, there are other areas where free software and free protocols have failed. Internet based voice and video communication is one of those areas. The market is basically fully owned by Skype, a piece of proprietary software based on a proprietary (and abusive) protocol in the hands the same company that runs eBay. Free software advocates have been saying "what if Skype was discontinued?" for years. Then I read about eBay considering shutting Skype down. Pardon?
Note: this is a post from one of our readers. I obviously have different views om the topic, but I think it's important to share maruadventurer's views. -- Tony Mobily
1: The Operating system is no longer important. In 2009, people develop for the Web, full stop
There are whole genre of programs that like Photoshop will probably never make it to the web. Practically any program that requires a physical interface will require an OS. CAD/CAM, topology, astrophysics, astronomy, etc. The list is long.
A small revolution in the IT world is about to happen, and we are about to witness it. Microsoft Windows' domination has been challenged many times: first by OS/2 (failed), then Apple (failed), then Java and network computing (failed), then GNU/Linux and Ubuntu (failed, so far). And now, Google's Chrome OS. After such a long list of failures, what makes me think that this latest attempt will actually succeed?
There is a list of factors. Let's have a look.
I had the pleasure to talk to Amanda McPherson, one of the minds behind LinuxCon, "LinuxCon is a new annual technical conference that will provide an unmatched collaboration and education space for all matters Linux". Where and where: September 21 - 23 2009, Portland.
GNU/Linux is slowly invading everybody's everyday life. I won't say "The year of the GNU/Linux desktop is here". Been there, done that. But, GNU/Linux is definitely imposing its presence -- think about Android, or the number of people who are currently using GNU/Linux as their main desktop.
And yet, software installation in GNU/Linux is broken. No, not broken... it's terribly broken. Why is that, and what can be done to fix it?
If you are using Ubuntu or any other modern Linux distribution, you are probably running Mozilla Firefox 3.something. While those versions are stable, they are getting a little outdated; why not upgrade? Shall We?
Over time, many people have complained about the X Window system; the X Window system, or Xorg in its current most popular implementation, is the layer between applications and the graphics adapter. It has some fantastic features (like the ability to run application over the network) and some shortcomings (it really looks like it's been put together backwards).
One thing is sure: it has evolved over the last year or so, immensely, especially as far as 3D and hardware acceleration go.
Since free software and other free culture products are formed by an organic, incrementalist process, they tend to be highly organic in their design as well. Free software is not so much built as it is grown. Thus, when considering a new project, you must think not about how to break it down into implementable chunks that can be assembled into a working product, but rather about how the project can organically grow—moving from working product to working product as it does so—becoming progressively more useful as it is developed.
This time, Microsoft may have outdone themselves with a proposed patent of such breathtaking hubris that it makes their previous FUD pale by comparison. If it comes off it will either be a licence to print money (Redmond's version of Quantitative easing?) or the biggest Pyrrhic victory in the history of computing since Steve Jobs refused Bill Gates and hardware vendors a licence to use Apple's OS and software.
When you first read about Microsoft's proposed patent you are suffused with the glow of righteous anger but before you get carried away, stop. Stop and think. This patent might just be, to mix my metaphors, a Trojan Horse and the straw that breaks the Camels' back. Windows users seem to possess a high pain tolerance (I only lasted until Windows ME before I broke and confessed to anything and everything) but this just might tip some of them over the edge. As homeless refugees they could be receptive to seeking asylum in the Republic of Unixland. Let's find out why.
This last Christmas, I refurbished and installed computers for two of my children. As we still have a pile of old games in a drawer, I wanted to provide multi-boot systems. This was much easier and more satisfying than the last time I set up a Linux/Windows dual boot system (with LOADLIN.EXE, which I can't really recommend today). I also wanted to test out the current state of FreeDOS (a GNU GPL-licensed operating system that emulates parts of MS-DOS 3.3 and MS-DOS 6.0). I did try installing ReactOS 0.3.7 instead of Windows on one of the systems, but I ran into installation problems I couldn't work around (a topic for a later column, perhaps), owing no doubt to the immaturity of the ("alpha") software.