It's already a foregone conclusion that Google's Android OS will hop in the handheld tablet ring with Apple's iPhone OS and duke it out for tablet supremacy, and despite canceled products like HP's Slate and Microsoft's Courier, some still believe it will be a Windows 7 device that knocks the iPad from its perch. But what about Ubuntu?
Fear not, Canonical fans, because the open-source software maker has every intention of competing in the tablet space and is busy readying a version of Ubuntu for slates.
"The devices world is a really exciting space right now and we're really bullish on it," said Chris Kenyon, Canonical's vice president of OEM services. "Hats off to the iPad team for doing what they did."
As Kenyon explains it, the OS will be a slimmed down version of Ubuntu 10.10 with a simplified, touch-friend user interface.Canonical is currently in talks with tablet makers and component manufactures to make the OS run faster while consuming less power. If all goes to plan, expect to see Ubuntu-based tablets start to materialize in the first quarter of 2011.
When Google announced the WebM codec at Google I/O, some in the open source community voiced concern over the license being used. The search giant was using a custom license that had not been approved by the Open Source Initiative (OSI). Now Google has altered the WebM license, and is using the well established BSD license.
The original license had some provisions that flew in the face of General Public License. This made it unworkable in the open source community. The rejected version of WebM licensing would have revoked distribution rights for so-called "downstream parties" that file patent suits against Google. In the new GPL-friendly version, companies that file patent suits would have the royalty-free use of WebM revoked, but would still be able to use the codec.
It's not a huge difference in the eyes of many prospective WebM licensees, but it lets the open source community sleep easy. Now WebM just has to become relevant in a web where H.264 already has a big head start.
Here's a scary thought - you may soon have to worry about security on your smartphone just as you do on your PC. Up to this point, cell phone security has almost been an afterthought, at least in the public's eye, but that's about to change. Two researchers from Trustwave -- Nicholas J. Percoco and Christian Papathanasiou - are scheduled to demo a rootkit running on an Android-based smartphone at the Defcon security conference in Las Vegas next month.
"We have developed a kernel-level Android rootkit in the form of a loadable kernel module. As a proof of concept, it is able to send an attacker a reverse TCP over 3G/WIFI shell upon receiving an incoming call from a 'trigger number'. This ultimately results in full root access on the Android device. This will be demonstrated (live)," the two researchers wrote.
As the security duo point out, "the implications of this are huge." With full rootkit access, attackers would be able to read all SMS messages on the phone, drive up long distance phone bills, and could even hunt down the owner's exact GPS location. The flexible rootkit can be installed over-the-air or alongside a rogue app, the researchers says.
Percoco and Papathanasiou didn't say exactly how they were able to bypass Android's security measures to install the rootkit in the first place, but did say why they zeroed in on Android.
"Android forms a perfect platform for further investigation due to its use of the Linux kernel and the existence of a very established body of knowledge regarding kernel-level rootkits in Linux," they wrote.
After countless leaks and a whole lot of speculation, Google's open source Chrome OS will finally make an appearance on a shipping product in the fall of 2010, said Sundar Pichai, vice president of product management at Google.
Pichai didn't say which vendor it will be, though our odds on favorite is Acer. Late last month there was speculation that Acer was planning on showing off a Chrome OS netbook at Computex, and while that hasn't yet been the case, market sources continue to peg Acer as the front runner, according to DigiTimes.
Whether or not we'll see Chrome OS on tablets remains to be seen. When asked how Google plans to position its two OSes, Pichai said that Android is aimed at handheld devices with development towards multi-funcitions, while Chrome OS is essentially for PCs, and primarily for 10-12 inch notebooks.
Android is perhaps the hottest mobile OS on the planet right now, and much of its success can attributed to rabid demand in North America. According to AdMob's April Mobile Metrics Report, 75 percent of all Android devices reside stateside, followed by Asia at a distant second with 12 percent.
Despite Android's rapid rise, however, Apple's iPhone still claims the lion's share of the mobile device market, both in the U.S. and overseas. There are 8.7 million Android devices in the U.S. compared with 10.7 million iPhones. Globally, there are 11.6 million Android devices scattered all over the planet, compared to 27.4 million iPhones.
Both mobile platforms have shown strong growth around the world, and while the iPhone still dominates, Google's Android platform does claim a few territories. This was the case in China in April, where the HTC Hero, HTC Magic, and HTC Dream helped Android owners outnumber iPhone owners.
Following the acquisition of Sun Microsystems, some analysts have heralded Oracle as the biggest and baddest open source vendor on the block, but not everyone is buying it. Some, like Paul Cormier, president of products and technologies at Red Hat, don't even consider Oracle to be an open source company at this point, let alone the largest one.
"I wouldn't even consider calling them an open source company at all," Cormier said. "When you're making a choice as a company on what's open and what's closed then your customers suffer."
Cormier went on to accuse Sun of sometimes holding back "the good stuff" from the open source community in developing MySQL, claiming that "open is not just seeing the code. Open is also having a community of developer. OpenSolaris is not open. There is no community other than Sun people developing Solaris."
Cormier did admit that there are some parts of Oracle he would consider open, but nothing that approaches the level of openness at Red Hat.
It was one year ago that we got our first look at Google Wave. When it launched in preview it was only available by invitation. Now Google has announced that anyone at all can wander over to Wave, and get started without being invited first. Google detailed a variety of ways the public has used Google Wave in order to inspire new users. For example, Mashable's use of Wave to conduct interviews. A few educationalprojects were highlighted as well.
Showing that they are acutely aware of the state Wave was in when it launched, Google took pains to encourage disappointed users to give it another shot. According to Google, Wave is much faster and more stable than it was just a short time ago. In our experience, Google has fixed some of the major annoyances, like being unable to remove someone from a Wave. Developers will be happy to know Google has also open sourced some additional Wave components, and also released some new APIs.
Have you been using Wave all this time, or did you forget all about it? Let us know what you think of Wave now that it's freely accessible.
There are a ton of apps out there that you can use to automate something you do on your PC. I mean, that's the central conceit of software development as a whole, correct? To somehow ease the time burden it takes one to do a particular task in what would otherwise be a manual, labor-intensive process?
Well, when a number of new apps each seek to automate some facet of your everyday computing life, it should come as little surprise that I'm going to cover them. However, I've also hand-selected a few interesting little freeware and open-source tools that are a bit more esoteric in their operations than what you might typically think of when you ponder the word, "automation."
Case in point: Want to find a way to find and delete all the credit card information you've accidentally left open on your system? Or would you like a method for discovering duplicate images on your system so you can nix unwanted (and space-consuming) shots you don't actually want to keep around?
These are but a few of the situations I'll be tackling in this week's Freeware Files. Click the jump and let's get started!
I'm often surprised by what people find popular in the world of freeware and open-source applications, let alone Web apps. It's tough to use the comments on Maximum PC's website as an official barometer, as they don't take page views, click-throughs, or raw downloads of whatever apps I/we recommend into account. Nevertheless, judging by the wrath, boundless joy, and heavy presence of spam-filter-nose-thumbing-signatures attached to the various weekly software articles, I can sometimes get a general vibe for what's appreciated... and what's not.
But I'm not about to dedicate the next 700 words or toward tooting my own horn--not unless there's an app for that. I do find it interesting, and a little bit funny, that a relatively innocuous application like last week's "Instant Elevator Music" received such an exuberant amount of interest via the blog comments. Of course, that's after weeks can go by with nothing but tumbleweeds greeting other applications that, honestly, I find much more useful.
Oh woe are we, for yet another freeware application has grown its wings and left the nest of awesome, available software that we can all install on our desktop and laptop systems ad infinitum. In case you haven't heard, Google has picked up BumpTop--technically, Bump Technologies--leaving fans of three-dimensional displays but a scant week or so to download the company's freeware app before it all goes away.
Of course, BumpTop isn't gone for good--it remains to be seen just how Google plans to integrate its multitouch-friendly, three-dimensional desktop transformations into the company's own services. Rest assured that you'll likely see some incarnation of BumpTop emerge in the future. But whether it's coming back as a standalone download or as a part of a brand-new device is anyone's guess.
However, that doesn't mean that you're left with no way to break your two-dimensional desktop out of its existing constraints. I'm taking a look at five different 3D transformation tools in this week's Freeware Files. Don't let the (brief?) demise of BumpTop be the end of your experimentation with three-dimensional system desktops!