The Linux Week In Review (May 12 – 19, 2011)

by Rex Djere on May 16, 2011



This was another exciting week for the Linux operating system. There were both victories and controversial defeats:

  • Adobe releases a new version of Flash for Linux.
  • Google announces the coming release of its Linux-based Chromebook.
  • The German government has decided to dump Linux.
  • Microsoft buys Skype.
  • A patent troll goes after Linux in East Texas.
  • Ubuntu’s latest release, 11.04 cruises along.
  • SimplyMEPIS 11 does LibreOffice.
  • Linux needs marketing.

In this week’s edition, I will discuss the 8 stories above.

Abobe’s Linux News Flash

Adobe released version of Flash Player as a Linux plugin on May 12, 2011. The latest version sports enhanced security, greater stability, and userability improvements. The plugin is also available for Windows, and MacOS. A slightly different version of the new player,, is available for Android. The newest version marks the end of the line for the Flash Player 10.3 series. The latest version of Flash Player gives the user much more granular control over security and local storage settings. Though the latest Flash Player is not open source software, it should provide an improved user experience for the Linux platform.

Windows in the Crosshairs: Google’s Chromebook Squarely Targets the MS Monopoly

Google has announced that it will release its new ChromeOS-powered notebook computers on June 15th, 2011. These notebooks will target businesses and colleges that want to save money on IT expenditures. The Chromebooks will offer a subscription service where companies pay $28 per month and students pay $20 per month. For the subscription fees, users receive constant updates to their computer’s software and operating system, and they receive a new modern computer every 3 years. I have looked at pictures of the new Chromebook, and it looks gorgeous. I believe that Google is on to a great idea: Microsoft should be VERY afraid. As a home user, I would not buy a Chromebook, but if I were the CTO at a company or the head of the IT department at a college or university, the Chromebook would be a very attractive option. Imagine a computer network where it would be virtually impossible for users to download viruses or accidentally lose data. I predict that the Chromebooks will be a smashing success and they will remove a lot of the psychological barriers that people may have to Linux. Make no mistake about this: Chrome OS is based on Ubuntu. Google actually hired Ubuntu to help it to create Chrome. This fact will not escape the new, young generation of technology-literate Android/Chrome browser/Google Voice users. Many of them may not opt for Chrome OS on their home computers, but they may decide that Ubuntu, Fedora, or other Linux distros are a lot closer to the Chromebooks that they use at work or school than Windows 7 or 8. If Chromebooks become popular, it will be interesting to see Microsoft’s response.

Germany Dumps Linux

The German government made a recent decision to stop its Linux experiment. The government had been using Linux as a server operating system since 2001, and as a desktop OS since 2005. The German Foreign Office has decided to halt the experiment, and shift back to Windows XP, with a future upgrade to Windows 7. This decision ignited a firestorm of protest in the FOSS community. Perhaps the most puzzling development is the decision to dump free software such as and Thunderbird. The German government is poised to shift back to Microsoft Office and Microsoft Exchange. This means that they are effectively opting to be voluntarily locked in to a proprietary vendor. Conspiracy theorists believe that Microsoft may have simply offered the German government a deal that was too good to be true. The savvy marketing team at Microsoft probably realizes that a win in the large German market would be a great public relationships victory against the onslaught of free alternatives from Linux and Android. It remains to be seen what the next move will be for Linux in Germany. Might we see the German government switching to Linux-based Google Chromebooks in the future?

Microsoft Bets On Skype

Microsoft Corporation bought Skype, the Internet telephony service company, for a breathtaking sum: 8.5 billion U.S. dollars. The technology community was widely split over the wisdom of the deal: some thought that it was a brilliant strategic move by Microsoft, while others viewed the deal as a foolish waste of investor money on Microsoft’s part. Regardless of whether the deal ends up being a success or failure, the acquisition of Skype by Microsoft is simply too big to ignore. This deal will have a major impact on the Internet landscape for years to come. What are some of the possible implications of this deal? Make no mistake about it, this deal is mostly about the threat from Microsoft’s fiercest competitor: Google.

Google: Google Talk and Google Voice are very popular services that allow people to communicate over the Internet. Google Voice even let’s users call telephone numbers in the United States and Canada for free from any computer running Windows, Chrome OS, MacOS, or Linux. Microsoft undoubtedly took notice of how popular Google Talk/Voice is becoming. Look for them to position Skype as a competitor in this space.

Facebook: Microsoft is a big investor in Facebook, and has been desperately looking for a way to position Facebook as the “Google-killer”. Look for Skype to be integrated into Facebook as an alternative to the popular Gmail + Google Voice ecosystem.

Xbox/Kinect: Xbox and Kinect have been a clear success for Microsoft. Look for Microsoft to position Skype integration as encouragement for Xbox/Kinect users to spend more time on their Xboxes, and less time on Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

My opinion: I think that this was a strategically brilliant move by Microsoft, except for the extremely excessive price that they paid for Skype. I see no way that Skype will make Microsoft enough money to ever justify the $8.5 billion price, but the deal may strategically hold Google and other Microsoft competitors at bay for a few more years. Only time will tell whether I am right or wrong.

The Trolls Come Out At Night

East Texas is notorious for its lenient juries who often find in favor of the plaintiff in patent infringement cases. One of its juries recently found Google guilty of infringing on Bedrock Computer Technologies patent for “methods and apparatus for information storage and retrieval using a hashing technique with external chaining and on-the-fly removal of expired data”. The jury awarded Texas-based Bedrock an award of $5 million and stated that Google’s use of the Linux operating system did constitute a violation of said patent. A few weeks later, Yahoo! WON a similar suit brought against it by Bedrock for violating the same patent. Google plans on appealing the judgement against it. Hopefully, Bedrock will eventually be revealed for what it is: a patent troll.

Ubuntu 11.04: People Either Love It or Hate It

Ubuntu 11.04 is controversial, there is no doubt about it. People either love or hate the new Unity desktop interface. Critics say that it is too watered down, while advocates said that it is user-friendly enough to convert Windows and Mac users to Linux. As a Fedora user, I can’t talk intelligently about Ubuntu. However, I think that anything that gets people TALKING about Linux is good, so I wish Ubuntu 11.04 nothing but the best. Though version 11.04 of Ubuntu is controversial, it does not appear to have diminished Ubuntu’s popularity: it is still the number 1 Linux distribution on

SimplyMEPIS Likes LibreOffice and Firefox

For those that do not like Ubuntu’s decision to switch from Gnome as the the default user interface to Unity, there are many Linux distributions that are sticking with Gnome. One of the more popular ones is SimplyMEPIS. SimplyMEPIS is a derivative distribution. It starts with Ubuntu, and then creates a new distribution that is mostly Ubuntu-compatible, while having a very unique flavor. The latest version of SimplyMEPIS, 11, upgrades to the latest version of KDE, KDE 4.51, and the latest version of Firefox, Firefox 4. It also includes the popular replacement, LibreOffice. If you do not like the direction in which Ubuntu is moving, SimplyMEPIS might be a great alternative.

Noyes: Linux Needs Marketing

In a recent article, Katherine Noyes, a writer for PC World magazine, argued that Linux needs marketing to become more popular. I agree with her. However, since Linux is decentralized and based on free software principles, who would pay for marketing? I believe that any company who has a vested interesting in making Linux a popular desktop distribution should pay for marketing. This would include companies like Red Hat, Canonical, and Novell. I will play the devil’s advocate and answer the next question coming. Red Hat is not a desktop Linux company, so why should they pay for marketing? The answer is very simple: if people get used to Linux at home, they will encourage their employers to switch to Linux. Red hat is the number one seller of Linux to businesses, so they would reap the rewards. I suspect that the first company to market Linux will be Google. Though Google’s upcoming Chrome OS is not explicitly advertised as having come from Linux, many people know Chrome’s roots. Any advertising campaigns for Chrome will ultimately benefit Linux as well.


Linux is growing up as an operating system; it is experiencing growing pains. However, I believe that Linux has far surpassed critical mass. It is here to stay, whether its competitors like it or not. The Linux Foundation has powerful corporate members who have a vested interest in the long-term growth and success of Linux. They will defend Linux against patent trolls and others who will inevitably try to slow or kill the adoption of Linux. This is why I believe that the future of Linux is very bright. Have a great Linux Week until the next edition!


Baker, J. (2011, May 13). Open source advocates angry at german gov’t decision. PC World, Retrieved from

Bradley, T. (2011, May 13). Adobe gives users control of privacy with flash player 10.3. PC World, Retrieved from

Brown, E. (2011, May 9). Simplymepis 11 adds libreoffice and a faster firefox 4 ., Retrieved from

Fiolet, E. (2011, May 14). Chromebook preview. Ubergizmo, Retrieved from

Naughton, J. (2011, May 15). Skype’s the limit as microsoft waves its chequebook again. The Observer, Retrieved from

Noyes, K. (2011, May 11). What linux needs is some good marketing. PC World, Retrieved from

Proffitt, B. (2011, May 13). Yahoo! wins verdict in bedrock patent trial. IT World, Retrieved from

Tozzi, C. (2011, May 13). Ubuntu 11.04 open source os: looking at the pros and cons. The VAR Guy, Retrieved from

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