When HP named Meg Whitman the new CEO earlier this year, she wasted little time in firmly reversing the course set by Leo Apotheker, her predecessor, and declaring that the company would be keeping its PC business after all. WebOS, however, was a different matter. Whitman’s dragged her feet making a call about the black sheep operating system, leading to intense speculation. Will she sell WebOS? Kill it? Keep it? Turns out the answer as D) None of the above. Today, HP announced that WebOS is going open source.
Why do I like VLC Media Player? Because it plays media. That’s pretty apparent in the title, however, so hear me out: The bane of Windows Media Player is that it straps a whole ton of accessories and add-ons into the picture when all you want to do is play a movie file. You don’t want to fuss with the library. You don’t want to go through a bunch of crappy skins or rudimentary add-ons. You don’t want to wait for Windows Media Player to load. You want a video. End of story.
Depending on which market research firm you believe is the most accurate, Microsoft's total usage share for all versions of Windows ranges from about 84 percent to more than 91 percent. Microsoft is the largest software company on the planet with a market capitalization of over $220 billion, which is more than the GDP of Egypt and dozens of other countries. None of that means anything to Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of the Linux Foundation.
It's entirely possible for software to cause hardware damage. For instance, an overclocking utility, whether buggy or abused by the end-user, could potentially result in fried hardware. But should installing Linux on a system that ships with Windows automatically void existing hardware warranties? A reader who wrote in to the Consumerist is complaining that HP gave him the runaround when attempting to have the OEM replace an in-warranty battery on an HP netbook he installed Linux on.
Open-source stalwart Red Hat has announced an expanded partnership with Fujitsu to extend their collaboration to the cloud. These two have been partners for a long time, so it really shouldn't come as a shock that Red Hat Enterprise Linux is now available as a guest operating system on Fujitsu's "On-Demand Virtual System Service" public cloud.
Linux has found a new home: in your wallet. The Linux Foundation is now offering a platinum rewards Linux credit card complete with the Tux penguin on the front.
The Linux Foundation receives a percentage of every purchase made with the card, as well $50 for every new card activation.
"All funds from the Visa card program will go directly towards providing community technical events and providing travel grants for open source community members in order to accelerate Linux innovation."
There are two designs to choose from, both with Tux on the front and both with the same features (no annual fee, zero liability protection, etc). However, it's only available to U.S. residents, which isn't likely to change "due to a lack of partners to work with to expand the program to other countries."
There are few tools more useful for the common desktop or laptop system than apps that automate some kind of system or user process that’s otherwise too tedious to do yourself. I mean, isn’t that the entire point of a computer, anyway—to take care of the things in life that might otherwise prove impossible, extremely difficult, or super-time-consuming? Isn’t it time you gave a little back to your poor PC?
Anyway, I’m taking a look at five different applications this week—all freeware or open-source, as always—that automate different elements of your operating system. That’s a pretty generic statement, though, so allow me to be a bit more specific. First up, I’ll show you how you can set up certain processes to run (including system shutdowns and restarts, amongst other activities) whenever a particular element of your PC reaches a set, measurable state (like CPU idle percentage, the exact time, or mouse and keyboard activity).
As well, I’ll throw a Web app your way that assists your browsing habits by automatically creating site mirrors to replace the normal URL of a site that’s been overloaded by Web traffic. You’ll discover a neat little application for mass-deleting specific kinds of files out of a whole range of folders at once, as well as a background utility that can automatically run programs whenever new files are detected in any folders you specify.
But let’s not spoil the whole show up-front. Click the jump—free software awaits!
It’s hard to maintain any kind of neutrality when writing about Valve’s Steam service. Indeed, it’s hard to write anything about Steam without adopting a grin the size of a cartoon character and lavishing compliments on the service faster than needles firing out of a medic’s syringe gun.
The recent partnership between AMD and Valve that put an easy-to-access, “download new video drivers here please” tool within the game-drenched packet manager has been an unexpected-yet-delightful addition to the service. And I’ve said it before: It’s about time.
However, it's also time for hardware manufacturers to step up to the challenge of releasing clean, comprehensive drivers for their full product lines--legacy hardware included. More importantly, Valve needs to take its little "AMD experiment" as more than just fun dabbling. As gamers and enthusiasts, we're way overdue to see someone rise to the occasion to deliver a one-stop shop for zero-hour driver updates that gamers of all backgrounds deserve to have.
And yes, if you say, "What about Windows Update," I'm going to throw up.
Is there a special, unwritten set of rules for downloading freeware? I’d like to think there are—for me, at least. For even though I’m “that guy” at Maximum PC, perhaps the only (former) editor to actually come close to pushing past one’s monthly Comcast bandwidth limits, I still have to keep my trips through freeware land in some kind of perspective. And you should too.
So what, gentle sir or madam, compels you to grab a particular piece of software?
That’s the crux of what I’ll be tackling in this week’s column—the first in a long time, mind you, thanks to an unruly show schedule on my part (I missed you too). But I digress. In my non-writing time, I’ve been doing a bunch of downloading, analyzing, and tweaking on the various devices I own, and I’ve noticed that all of my extended file-hunting sessions always have a few themes in common.
If you run a 64-bit version of Linux, take note, your system may be vulnerable to attack. Red Hat recently announced an exploit that would allow a local, unprivileged user to escalate their privileges, and while there are published workarounds, they may not completely plug up the security hole.
"The published workarounds that we've seen, including the workaround recommended by Red Hat, can themselves be worked around by an attack to still exploit the system," Jeff Arnold, CEO of Ksplice, said in a blog post. "For now, to be responsible and avoid helping attackers, we don't want to provide those technical details publicly; we've contacted Red Hat and other vendors with the details and we'll cover them in a future blog post, in a few weeks."
In the mean time, Ksplice -- which isn't a free service, but does offer a free trial -- can be used to receive advance notice of upcoming patches.
"Although it might seem self-serving, I do know of one sure way to fix this vulnerability right away on running production systems, and it doesn’t even require you to reboot: you can (for free) download Ksplice Uptrack and fully update any of the distributions that we support (We support RHEL, CentOS, Debian, Ubuntu, Parallels Virtuozzo Containers, OpenVZ, and CloudLinux," Arnold explains. "For high profile updates like this one, Ksplice optionally makes available an update for your distribution before your distribution officially releases a new kernel). We provide a free 30-day trial of Ksplice Uptrack on our website, and you can use this free trial to protect your systems, even if you cannot arrange to reboot anytime soon. It’s the best that we can do to help in this situation, and I hope that it’s useful to you."
Keep in mind that if an attacker has already comprised one of your Linux rigs, updating the system won't do a lick of good by itself since the exploit installs a backdoor. You can use this test tool to find out for sure.