Open Office has been around in one form or another for over nine years now. But the once little known productivity suite known back then as StarOffice has evolved considerably over the years. Today the Sun Microsystems freebee is admittedly a fairly full featured alternative to Microsoft Office. Open Office in fact has become so useful that Maximum PC Editor and Chief Will Smith has admitted its open source charm (and free price tag) has finally won over his home PC for casual word processing. Fans of the platform have another reason to get excited these days with the impending launch of version 3.0. The new version will further improve compatibility when working with Microsoft Office files and will include additional support for the open file format OpenDocument which is to be integrated into Office 2007. For those looking to give version 3 a try, a public beta is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac. But for corporate users looking to implement Open Office you should follow the links instead to the version named StarOffice. The retail version will cost you about $69.95, but it includes technical support and intellectual property indemnification. For those keeping track Open Office 2 launched on October 20th 2005 and the latest stable version is 2.4.1 which was released in June.
Several security vulnerabilities were reported in Google’s Chrome web browser after its beta version was launched earlier this month with much ado. Google has quickly responded with a security update that fixes four vulnerabilities. The update addresses two buffer overflow vulnerabilities, both rated critical by Google, and two other minor bugs. However, the carpet-bombing threat, first brought to light by security researcher Aviv Raff, still looms.
Partitioning your hard drive has never been easier. Free options, including the Windows install disk, make this once monumental task a fairly simple two-click experience that many of us don’t spend nearly enough time thinking about when we first install our OS’s. It can sometimes be difficult to anticipate your storage needs up front, and many users just assume they are stuck with decisions they made long ago.
A typical user could have many reasons for breaking up a hard drive into multiple volumes, but partitioning your drive after installing an OS is typically a destructive proposition -- one that usually involves backing up your data, formatting, and starting clean. Commercial solutions such as Norton Partition Magic has existed for years and allows you to preserve your data while resizing volumes, but what if you’re working on a limited budget (or completely without one)? That’s where GParted comes into play. This free and open source disk partitioning tool was designed for Linux, but luckily for us Windows users, it comes bundled in a live CD or USB version called Parted Magic which takes care of the Linux requirement.
In this guide we will look at how to use the interface to resize, delete, or create new partitions, all without losing your data or starting over. This will come in handy if you made your Windows partition too large or too small, or if you’re happy with Windows XP, but want to give Vista a spin. Backups are still heavily advised, but with our help, and a bit of luck, you won’t need them. Read on!
Four years is an eternity in the computer world, but it doesn't take a crystal ball to predict that Linux will continue making headway against Microsoft's close-source Windows OS. Between Vista needing gimmicks to convert the skeptics (Mojave), to increasingly user-friendly versions of Ubuntu, Microsoft may find itself in a grudge match with the open-source community by 2012. But what can we expect out of a Linux distro in 48 months? InformationWeek attempts to answer that question with a mix of bold predictions and some much needed feature enhancements. Let's take a look at some of the highlights.
Three Basic Usage Modes
Linux has traditionally been free for most users, but in-store boxed copies complete with a price tag have started popping up, and IW says this trend will "at least gain nominal momentum." Free to use variants won't be disappearing anytime soon, and IW sees free distributions that contain no components with patent encumbrances or other issues picking up steam.
While Linux hardware is already present in a plethora of devices, look for it to become a brand name four years down the road, pushed in large part by the continued popularity of the Netbook market.
Bye-Bye Command Line!
One of the biggest roadblocks preventing Linux from marching into the mainstream market is ease-of-use. The days of typing in commands died with DOS, but on a Linux distro, even some basic configurations might require the user to fire up the Terminal. Of course, there are legions of Linux-ites that prefer it this way, the same ones who not so affectionately refer to Ubuntu as Noobuntu.
Catch all the predictions here, then tell us your Linux predictions below!
According to a previous report by The Wall Street Journal, Google's open-source Android platform likely won't see the light of day until 2009, but that may not be the case. A new rumor hitting the web claims that T-Mobile will debut the first Android phone for pre-sale as early as September 17th.
Blog site TmoNews, who claims to be privy to this information based on a "trusted source," also says the new phone (codenamed G1) will cost consumers $399 - ouch! But that's when it goes fully public. TmoNews says the G1 pre-sale will last for one week and be available only to T-Mobile customers, who will be able to pick up the phone for $250 below retail. Everyone else will have to wait until mid-October.
The site also claims the G1 will come in black, white, or brown and include a 3-inch wide touch screen, 3G support, and a slide-out Qwerty keypad. Anyone that plans on picking one up will need a Gmail account, or so the rumor goes.
And as a full-featured Windows replacement, no other Linux distribution comes close to Ubuntu, which features a full suite of pre-loaded desktop applications and an easy to use installer. Ubuntu contains many unique and innovative qualities designed to make it less intimidating the average Windows user who may be looking for a change. One of these features is called Live CD. Once you have downloaded and burned a copy of the Live CD ISO, you will have the ability to launch a fully functional copy of the Ubuntu to test out driver compatibility and to sample the user interface, all without installing a single file to your PC. This guide will walk you through testing your hardware and installing a dual boot setup all without formatting or repartitioning your hard drive.
Microsoft's sponsorship is at the Platinum level ($100,000/year), where it joins Google and Yahoo!
Not Just Money, Patches for Open Source Projects
These sources also report that Microsoft is also providing a patch that provides ADOdb database abstraction layer support for the PHP SQL driver developed in conjunction with Zend Technologies. What may be more significant to open-source advocates is that Microsoft is licensing the patch under the Free Software Foundation's lesser GPL (LGPL) licensing terms. This appears to be the first time that Microsoft has licensed code using a FSF licensing agreement.
What's In It for Microsoft?
According to The Register:
The decision to work on PHP fits with the overall strategy of improving the language's interoperability with Windows and stemming the loss of PHP application deployments to Linux. LGPL allows code to be used with proprietary programs - such as SQL Server - unlike its GPL cousin.
For your chance to give us your thoughts, catch us after the jump.
During a keynote at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2008, Microsoft CEO Kevin Turner went on record claiming Vista "is more secure today than Apple Leopard, or XP, or Linux, or open source." Surprisingly, Turner's right, at least when looking over a report (PDF) from Microsoft's own security division comparing the number of fixed and unfixed vulnerabilities of several operating systems. So is Vista (and by association, Microsoft) getting a bad rap?
Arstechnica says no, and points out "exploited vulnerabilities are something that needs a little bit more emphasis, and so do infection numbers." Security company PC Tools (makers of ThreatFire, reviewed in the February 2008 issue of Maximum PC, page 26) found that up to 70 percent of Vista home PCs are infected with malware, and while Microsoft might not agree with PC Tools' findings, its no secret that Mac OS X and Linux systems are targeted less frequently than Windows. Microsoft evangelist Michael Kleef claims end users are ultimately to blame for the higher infection rate, and not the OS, but when it comes out that one of Vista's main security features was designed to annoy, does the fault really lie with the end user?
Open source Gurus, rejoice! OpenMoko has launched the Linux based FreeRunner mobile phone today through OpenMoko's web-based store and will begin shipping it July 7. This new phone utilizes GNU/Linux and comes with core software needed for dialing, SMS and recording contacts. It will supplement these features with periodic downloads. Two versions of the phone will be available: 850MHz or 900 MHz Tri-band GSM to match frequencies in different countries. Black, oval-shaped and weighing 6.5 ounces, it also features a 2.8" 480 x 640 VGA touch screen, Wi-Fi (802.1 1b/g), AGPS, GPRS 2.5G, Bluetooth 2.0, two 3-axis motion sensors and comes with 128MB WSDRAM and 256MB NAND Flash.
Using the Openmoko mobile platform, the Free and Open Source Software community and create unique versions of the FreeRunner phone, modifying the way the phone operates and even the way it looks. They have opened the CAD files under a Creative Commons license to make it easy for industrial designers to change the appearance of the Openmoko Neo FreeRunner and select alternate materials and finishes to tailor the phone's look and feel. The phone’s odd ovoid shape really does not appeal to me and I can imagine might be the first thing to go. Considering it’s somewhat limited specs compared to other phones available today, it looks set to only be a real draw for those into open source software.
First the Tech God, created blogging and he saw that it was good, but it wasn’t enough. So then, the Tech God created micro-blogging and Twitter was born. But then he thought is Twitter good enough? So then, he decided to go open source and made Identi.ca
Okay, so the Tech God didn’t make Identi.ca (or anything else), it’s actually a creation by Evan Prodromou as an open source alternative to Twitter for users that are frustrated by Twitters frequent service outages. Who doesn’t love seeing the failwhale art (birds lifting a whale for those that have been under a rock) on Twitters website once in awhile? It seems Evan Prodromou for one.