If you've ever lost a night's sleep because you couldn't wrap your head around how to build a Real Time Kinematic (RTK) GPS receiver without breaking the bank, then prepare to sleep like a baby. Why? Because researchers Tomoji Takasu and Akio Yasuda of Tokyo University have you covered.
The researchers developed an inexpensive, open source RTK GPS that runs on a beagle board, and better yet, they've posted instructions so you can do the same. And unlike traditional GPS, RTK units measures the shorter wavelengths in the satellite's carrier signal, which ultimately means greater accuracy.
Getting it work right, however, isn't an easy task. That's why Takasu and Yasuda deserve major kudos for printing the detailed instructions, which you can access here.
At long last, Google has finally released the source code for Android 2.0 (codenamed Eclair). Motorola's Droid is the only smartphone currently shipping that's built around the latest version, but now that Eclair's out in the wild, expect to see plenty more handset makers jump on board.
The release is also great news for the Android modding community, many of which have been eagerly awaiting the update. Modding guru Steve Kondik, otherwise popularly known as "Cyanogen," stated in a Twitter message that he's already gotten Eclair to run on his HTC G1 smartphone, noting that "it runs really well, fast, and smooth. Audio and video not working yet, though."
So what's the big deal? Android 2.0 is the most significant update to Google's open source platform to date. Just a few of the added features include native Exchange support, search functionality for all saved SMS and MMS messages, more camera options (built-in flash, digital zoom, white balance, and so forth), an improved virtual keyboard, multi-touch support, and more. This could be the OS that finally gives Apple's iPhone OS a run for its money.
Linux certainly has its advantages, and if Ubuntu 8.04 LTS happens to be your distro of choice, you'll be able to take advantage of Arkeia Software's Network Backup version 8 at no cost, Arkeia announced.
"Arkeia Network Backup is a proven network backup solution with broad platform support and a robust enterprise feature-set," said Steve George, vice president of sales and product management, corporate services at Canonical. "With the Arkeia Network Backup Enterprise Edition for Ubuntu, Arkeia Software makes a significant commitment to the Ubuntu user community and supports Ubuntu’s ongoing growth in the enterprise."
The fully licensed backup solution can be downloaded from the Ubuntu 8.04 LTS repository by using the Synaptic Package Manager or by typing the "apt-get install arkeia" command. The license is not time limited and includes one backup server running on Ubuntu, up to 250GB capacity for backup to disk, support of any single drive, tape, or disk, and 2 client agents to backup different types of client machines, including Windows workstations and desktops, most Linux setups, Mac OS X, and BSD computers.
Someone cut the cake, and be sure to save a slice for Microsoft, who probably won't be attending Firefox's fifth birthday. That's okay, because plenty of former Internet Explorer users have sent in their RSVP.
It's hard to believe it's been five years already, and in that relatively short time span, the open source browser has come to claim over 330 million users around the globe. It's the second most used browser on the planet, and while Firefox's market share is barely visible in IE's rear view mirror, Mozilla's browser is quickly catching up and is on pace to pull ahead well before another 5 years goes by.
In celebration of Firefox's fifth birthday, Mozilla communities are hosting parties all over the place in a campaign called "Light the World with Firefox." Need more details? Check it out here.
Skype announced that an open source version of the Linux client is currently under development in a blog post by Stanislav Karchebny. “There's an open source version of Linux client being developed. This will be a part of a larger offering, but we can't tell you much about that right now," wrote Karchebny.
The original Linux client had been released several years ago, but a new open source client could mean community focused developments. Skype expects that “having an open-source user interface will help us get adopted in the multicultural land of Linux distributions, as well as on other platforms, and will speed up further development.”
Within the comments of the post, users were hoping to see Skype also unlock the Skype Protocol to the open source community. Unless that is part of the “larger offering”, that Karchebny mentions, it appears for the moment that their plans are to open only the source to client interface.
On October 29, Canonical is set to release Ubuntu 9.10 (codenamed “Karmic Koala”), the newest installment in the Ubuntu product line. In anticipation of this release, we took the release candidate (RC) for a test drive. Ubuntu 9.10 RC comes on a LiveCD just like its predecessors and allows you to test a fully-functional installation of the operating system without installing it. The boot process looks very different from previous versions, especially since the old progress bar has been replaced with one that just moves from left to right while providing very little useful boot progress information. However, the boot process is still extremely fast compared to many other distros and you always have the option of disabling the boot splash screen if you want to see detailed boot information.
Additionally, the installation process now automatically sets your system time from an online time server and now includes a slideshow to introduce you to the features of Ubuntu as the system installs. And for the first time, Ubuntu now allows you to encrypt your home directory out of the box by providing a new option for it during the setup process.
If it's good enough for Maximum PC, then it's good enough for the White House. What are we talking about? Open-source Drupal software. Citing an Obama Administration source, PersonalDemocracy.com notes that the WhiteHouse.gov website has kicked its proprietary content management system (CMS) software to the curb and made the switch to Drupal after months of planning.
So why the switch? Obama's media team decided they needed a more flexible development platform in order to make the White House's online presence an interactive one. The media team envisions question-and-answer forums, live video streaming, and collaborative tools all meshing with the site's infrastructure, and for that, they decided on Drupal. Score one for the open-source community.
"Open-source is a great form of civic participation," said Macon Phillips, the White House media director. "We're looking forward to getting the benefit of their energy and innovation."
In addition to MaximumPC.com, the White House joins a growing number of sites built around the Drupal platform, some of which include NASA, Ubuntu, Linden Labs, Yahoo Research, Popular Science, and thousands of others.
On October 29, which is now less than a week away, Linux users will have a new Ubuntu release to play with. But if you just can't wait that long, especially with all the hoopla surrounding the launch of Windows 7 making you jones for a new OS, consider downloading the Ubuntu 9.10 Release Candidate that was just made available.
"We consider this release candidate to be complete, stable, and suitable for testing by any user," the Ubuntu team wrote on its blog.
Several new features have been added to the open source OS since the release of Ubuntu 9.04. For example, 9.10 makes the transition to Upstart native jobs for faster boot times, Empathy has replaced Pidgin as the default messaging client, the latest release ships with Ubuntu One, a personal cloud computing app allowing you to backup, store, sync, and share data with other Ubuntu One users, Canonical claims the inclusion of new Intel video driver architecture solves "major performance problems," the new ext4 file system is now used by default, and a whole bunch more.
See the full list of changes (and known problems) here, and if you're itching to try out the RC, you can download your copy here.
The open source movement might just be on to something with Open Office 4 Kids (OOo4Kids), a productivity suite aimed at the much younger crowd between the ages of 7 and 12. And if DownloadSquad.com has anything to say about it, adults may prefer it to the regular version of Open Office as well.
According to the project's wiki, OOo4Kids is based on OpenOffice.org source code, but because certain aspects have been stripped out, it loads noticeably faster than the full fledged suite. There's a lot less going on in the UI, and larger buttons point out all the obvious features. But aside from the splash screen, it doesn't look overly childish, so we could also see this being installed on Aunt Angie's machine.
As expected, there are some features that are missing, such as Base, and power users won't be content with al the advanced controls, but in our limited test run, we were fairly impressed with OOo4Kids. There's still a lot you can do with it, the interface isn't condescending, and it's fast.
If you want to check it out for yourself, you can download the latest version (0.5) here.
The new version has added native Exchange, Youtube, and Facebook support. With Facebook integration, users can import contact data from their friends list. The Browser has reportedly been much improved; rivaling the iPhone 3GS in rendering speed. Google has even added a unified email inbox. Google Maps has been totally updated, adding support for Layers. Finally, there’s a new “Car Home” with big buttons for things you might want to use when driving.
This is still an early build, but it gives us a real sense where the OS is going. If there’s one way to describe what Google has done in this revision, it would be “more polish”. From the browser to the contact list, everything looks more well thought out and functional. The firmware appears to be running on the mysterious Motorola Droid. The phone has been reported as being a Google Experience phone, so everyone seems ready to believe this is stock Android 2.0. So, how do the screens strike you?