As if Microsoft didn’t have enough on its plate in advance of the October 22 launch date for its latest operating system, Windows 7, an old, familiar friend is entering the fray. Like a second player that adds a quarter and interrupts your progression in an arcade fighting game, Google is bringing its open-source Android operating system out of the handheld market and into the PC world.
Acer netbooks are the target for Android’s first foray beyond the mobile market. The company has announced that it will begin offering both Microsoft-based operating systems and Google’s Android platform for a majority of its netbooks—or “mini-notebooks,” as Microsoft now prefers to call them. Acer’s latest Aspire One netbook will be the first of its kind to offer Android as an alternative platform, and you’ll be able to pick one up in the third quarter of this year.
The move is a boon for the open-source world… sort-of. For Android is as open as it is Linux, which is to say that it might be based on the Linux kernel, but it’s not a Linux operating system. Similarly, although Android comes close to fulfilling the philosophy and licensing requirements to deem it a full, open-source product, a few qualifiers exist that give cause for concern. Together, these two issues combine to create a troubled picture for Android’s future outside of the mobile market.
So you’ve installed that shiny Ubuntu distro onto your PlayStation 3 and finagled a couple of cool applications to boot. And yet, there’s still a lot of empty real estate on that newly formatted hard drive, and you’re no doubt pondering what else you can load up on your now living room-friendly PC. Turns out, there are literally thousands of options available; but the task of sorting through the seemingly endless lists and testing each and every app to see if it suits your tastes and jives with the PS3 can be a daunting task. But luckily for you, we’ve done exactly that; we rolled up our sleeves, burned the midnight oil, and muscled the necessary digital elbow grease to whittle down the Ubuntu archives to the top nine absolute keepers. So what are you waiting for? Plug in your PS3’s keyboard and mouse, fire up Jaunty Jackalope, and read onward to get cracking.
Yes, there is more to Linux than Ubuntu. As you are probably aware, there are many different types of Linux to choose from, even though not all get the attention they deserve. These are organized into separate distributions, (distros) and each one is different. If you've read our previous Beginner's Guide to Linux, you are already familiar with the advice we gave about choosing the right distro for your needs. This guide will shed more light on some of the more common distributions in use today and will cover the distinct advantages or disadvantages of each.
For the purpose of comparison, we personally tested each distro and critiqued it based on several distinct areas: appearance, ease of use, system administration, software/package management, security, and the level of support available for the distro. We graded each factor on a scale of zero to five: 0 – Abysmal or non-existent; 1– Very bad; 2 – Needs improvement; 3 – Average; 4 – Good; and 5 – Excellent. We hope that this guide will give you a better understanding of the current state of Linux, so you can make an informed decision about choosing the right Distro without just defaulting to Ubuntu (which we've included in this roundup)
I normally stay out of the Linux conversations because it's like placing oneself between two packs of rabid, fanboy wolves. Not that being enthusiastic about your operating system of choice is a bad thing. It's just a lot of flame for one meager columnist to handle.
That said, I couldn't help but notice a number of articles passing around the Web this week, praising Linux for pushing past the one-percent adoption rate for desktop operating systems. Huh? One percent? That's like throwing a ticker-tape parade for a one-year-old. I mean, kudos to Linux for making it this far and all, but I think that people are selectively focusing on the "concept" of the number a bit too much. Because when you dig a little bit deeper into the statistics, you'll find that Linux's big "Achievement Unlocked" isn't really that big of a deal at all.
The Windows desktop can do a lot of things. You can drag and drop your programs all across your display, then resize the windows--or have the operating system tile them for you--to maximize your multi-application productivity. If you're using Vista, you can call forth a cascading, three-dimensional display of your Windows and cycle through live displays of each until you're ready to select an active panel. You can create new toolbars and assign them to new edges of the screen. You can minimize everything at once to show you a clean desktop image.
The Windows desktop can do a lot of things. But you can't do everything. And that's why I've hunted down five freeware applications that give you just-that-much-more control over the programs, windows, and taskbars that clog up your PC's display. Split your desktop into individual regions for maximum display control, or take matters into your own hands and assign the customized height, width, and positining of every application you use.
That's just a slice of the Windows pie I'm ready to dish up. Fire up some programs, put on a bib, and let's chow down on some freeware.
Available in alpha form for the past several month, Canonical has officially released its newest version of Ubuntu, 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope). Canonical says it will maintain its latest open-source OS until 2010.
Ubuntu 9.04 brings a new kernel to the table, version 184.108.40.206, as well as several other features. Some of these include:
Faster boot time
Latest GNOME 2.26 desktop environment
Better handling of mutliple monitors
Latest X.Org server 1.6 with support for several new videocards
Wacom tablet hotplugging
Ext4 file system support
Brasero 2.26 (all-in-one CD burning application)
Also new to the latest version of Ubuntu is a Netbook Remix version. According to Canonical, the Netbook Remix brings even faster boot speeds, a "built-for-purpose interface" that keeps favorite applications and websites a click away, enhanced power-management features, and easier switching between networks. Canonical says it has tested its Netbook Remix version on a range of netbook models, including Acer's Aspire One, Asus' EeePC 1000, and Dell's Mini 9.
We are certain that many of you want to try Linux to see what it is like, but have no idea where to start or how to get into it. This is our complete guide to introduce you to the Linux environment and teach you how to adjust to it if you are a new user. From picking the perfect distro for your needs to partitioning and installing the OS, this guide will show you the step-by-step process of getting Linux up and running on your machine. We break down the fundamental differences between the Linux and Windows graphical interfaces, and show you how to utilize Linux's terminal like a pro. Whether this is your first time running Linux or you've been an open-source accolyte for years, you'll find lots of useful tips and reference information in this comprehensive overview.
Traditionally, most new users have always been reluctant to experiment with the command line interface, (commonly referred to as the terminal) yet it has always been one of the most important parts of learning Linux. Once you understand the terminal, Linux will finally open up to you. The terminal is easily the most powerful part of a Linux system; it is your way of being able to work directly with the operating system without any barriers or hindrance.
This guide will cover basic terminal usage in addition to ways to enhance basic commands. For the sake of simplicity, we will only address the underlying concepts of shell scripting instead of covering it in detail. We saved this part of our guide for last because it is typically the most difficult to grasp. However, the terminal is fairly easy to understand when broken down into simple concepts.
Netbooks and Linux were supposed to be a match made in heaven. However, Linux has failed to capture the imagination of netbook users. Microsoft is elated to have made short work of Linux’s challenge in the netbook segment. Brandon LeBlanc, who earns his bread blogging on the official Windowsteamblog, reviewed the past year that saw Windows become the most popular netbook OS.
He imputed Windows emphatic surge on netbooks in the past year to its ease of use and people’s familiarity with the OS besides a host of other factors. Since the time Windows first appeared on netbooks, it has nearly wiped out all competition and now sits pretty with more than 90% market share.
“Looking forward, we can confidently say that no matter how netbook PC hardware evolves, we’re gearing up to ensure that Windows 7 will run great on them,” a sanguine LeBlanc wrote on the Windowsteamblog.
In a flooded smart phone market, Google’s open source approach was a refreshing change, especially given the state of martial law many iPhone user’s live under. But with the removal of the tethering application from the mobile store, many users are starting to question just how open the platform really is. In defense of its actions, Google was forced to cite a passage from its distribution agreement with T-Mobile.
“Google enters into distribution agreements with device manufacturers and Authorized Carriers to place the Market software client application for the Market on Devices. These distribution agreements may require the involuntary removal of Products in violation of the Device manufacturer’s or Authorized Carrier’s terms of service”
When you pair this up with T-Mobiles terms of service which forbids tethering, Google suddenly appears to be legally bound to ban the application. This does however make us wonder what the future of Android will look like on other carriers. Will this lead to carrier specific app stores in the future? Users who purchase unlocked phones and use them on other carriers which permit tethering will probably want access to these types of applications. The big question is will they be able to?