The Linux Week In Review May 31

by Rex Djere on May 31, 2011 · 1 comment


In the TLWIR series, I take a hard look at the 8 most compelling stories in the realms of Linux, GNU, free software, and open source in the past week. This week is no different. There were great stories abound demonstrating more than ever that Linux has truly arrived. From Meego to Mint to Miro to the U.S. DoD, Linux and free software are literally everywhere. The featured stories this week are:

  • Meego Heats Up: Is Critical Mass Next?
  • Mint 11: A Different Spin On Ubuntu
  • Miro: Cross-Platform Open Source Audio and Video
  • Is Version 2.6 of the Linux kernel near its end of life?
  • The United States Department of Defense Loves Open Source
  • The International Flavor of the Google Summer of Code
  • CUPS Brings Easy Printing Support to Linux
  • What Does the Future Hold For Suse Linux?

Meego Heats Up: Is Critical Mass Next?

The recent deal between Microsoft and Nokia to bring the Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system to Nokia handsets has left many in fear that the Linux-based Meego operating system is now dead-on-arrival. Nokia and Intel were the original major participants in the Meego project. Now it appears that though Nokia has abandoned the project, Intel and its partners are looking to continue moving the project forward WITHOUT Nokia’s participation. This is wonderful news for mobile Linux. I personally believe that there should be a great number of open source/free software mobile operating systems to compete with and complement Google’s Android operating system.

I use Android myself, and I love the operating system. However, I believe that a lack of competition leads not only to complacency, but also a sense of stagnation. A heterogeneous operating system environment made up of Apple’s IOS, Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7, Google’s Android, Linux, Meego, and others ultimately benefits the consumer.

The Taiwanese computer manufacturer Asustek, also known as Asus for short, is one of Intel’s partners on the Meego project. Asus has committed to producing an affordable Meego netbook, the X101 Eee Pc.

The device will have the following specs:

  • 10.1-inch screen.
  • Intel Atom N435 processor.
  • Price point: $199 USD.

I look forward to the release of this device, and I hope that it is a smashing success. If computer manufacturers can sell enough Meego devices, the operating system will reach critical mass, and its survival in the competitive mobile marketplace will be ensured.

Mint 11: A Different Spin On Ubuntu

Mint 11 has been released, and it provides a very interesting twist: Mint 11 developers have decided not to upgrade its user interface to Gnome 3. Gnome 3 is the new interface for the recently released Fedora 15, but the Mint team has decided to stick with the aging Gnome 2.32.1. This decision may cause some people to switch to Mint 11 who find Fedora 15’s shift to Gnome 3 and Ubuntu 11.04’s shift to Unity uncomfortable. Mint 11 is based on Ubuntu 11.04. Mint 11 also continues the trend of recent GNU/Linux releases by dumping and replacing it with the popular LibreOffice Suite. Linux Mint looks like a great distro, and a viable alternative to the latest Ubuntu and Fedora releases.

Miro: Cross-Platform Open Source Audio and Video

Miro is a popular audio and video jukebox software package that is often used to view videos and listen to audio in the GNU/Linux community. However, Miro does offer cross-platform support with its Windows and Mac OS versions. Now, with version 4.01, Miro adds support for Android. The developers of Miro hope that Miro becomes the Android equivalent of Itunes: a universal jukebox program that can play any file format that you can throw at it. Along with VLC, Miro is part of a generation of great cross-platform, open source media-playback software with firm roots in GNU/Linux. I am rooting strongly for Miro because I believe that given the incredible rate of Android’s growth, Miro could offer aspiring musicians a very good alternative to traditional media outlets to get music to their fans and supporters. The explosive growth of Android gives artists a huge new outlet in which to distribute their music. I wish the Miro project nothing but success.

Is Version 2.6 of the Linux kernel near its end of life?

Linux’s original architect, inventor, and chief maintainer, Linux Torvalds, recently announced that the next version of the linux kernel will be version 3.0, instead of 2.6.40. This means that shortly, version 2.6 of the Linux kernel, introduced in 2004, will soon be no more. However, Torvalds was careful to state that the jump from 2.6.39, the current linux kernel version, to version 3.0 will not be a revolutionary jump, like the the jump from Gnome 2.x to Gnome 3. Rather, the jump to version 3 will feature gradual changes and tweaks. It sounds to me like it is basically a naming scheme change more than anything. It think that it is a good idea because version 2.6.x of the Linux kernel is getting a little bit long in tooth. If nothing else, the conversion to kernel version 3 will introduce a feeling of psychological freshness to the Linux kernel project.

The United States Department of Defense Loves Open Source

This is, by far, my favorite story of the past week. It is, frankly, breathtaking, and it has far reaching implications for the future of free software and open source. In my opinion, it is a stunning development. The United States Federal government is serious about saving money by forcing vendors to compete for government contracts. More importantly, the federal government commissioned a report to discover exactly how they can save money, resources, and increase efficiency by applying open source/free software principles to how the government develops software. I read the entire document from cover to cover (it is 68 pages) and it is probably the most important document EVER written with regards to free software. It is brilliantly written, and it pretty much encompasses every principle that I have committed myself to since I became part of the free software movement six years ago. I cannot adequately summarize the entire document here, but here are some of the many highlights:

  • “Because the government has unrestricted access and rights to the source code developed with taxpayer funds, that source code can be made discoverable and accessible to program managers, civil servants and contractors alike, increasing the potential of matching a need or requirement to an existing source code base that provides a large proportion of the solution that can be improved or enhanced to meet a new mission.”
  • “The first cost to fall by the wayside with OTD is the monopoly rent the government pays to contractors who have built a wall of exclusivity around capabilities they’ve been paid by the government to develop.”
  • “Each project must have a clear and simple license that enables legal collaboration. A license lays out the rights and responsibilities of software developers and users. If the project is to be an OSS project, be sure to choose a well-known pre-existing OSS license, one that has already been widely certified as being OSS. It should be GPL-compatible, as the GPL is the most common OSS license.”

Needless to say, this report might anger some individuals and companies that have made careers out of locking the U.S. federal government into long-term contracts for proprietary software. Regardless, with the release of this document, there is no going back to the way things were traditionally. This is a big step ahead for free software. I encourage you to read the full document here:

The International Flavor of the Google Summer of Code

In a recent article, Glyn Moody, a highly respected open source evangelist, applauded the international flavor of Google’s Summer of Code, while lamenting the United Kingdom’s virtual lack of participation. The most troubling aspect of the U.K.’s apparent computing demise is the prominent role that the U.K. played in the creation of modern computing technology. Mr. Moody cites the lack of Internet connections at home, and the U.K.’s devotion to all things Microsoft as major parts of the problem.

I was actually more dismayed than Mr. Moody; not at the lack of the U.K.’s participation, but the lack of real global diversity in the group. Of the top 10 nations participating in Google’s Summer of Code 2011, 5 are European Nations. India and China are represented, but there is not a single African nation. Of course, this is not Google’s fault. However, I would like to see a future where computing and computer programming are a truly international disciplines. I believe that Google is actively working on this, as are other major powers in computing and IT.

CUPS Brings Easy Printing Support to Linux

I have used CUPS, the Common Unix Printing System, on my GNU/Linux computers for years. It is incredibly sophisticated, allowing you to administer supported printers and print jobs through a web browser. In fact, I believe that CUPS is light years ahead of Windows printing systems. CUPS could be used to administer one hundred printers in a large business, or a couple of printers in a small one. It is powerful, yet easy to learn, and flexible. The only consideration that I have had to give a lot of thought to regarding Linux printing with CUPS is whether my printer is fully supported or not. Whenever I go to buy a printer, I always do a Google search to find out if the printer model that I want to buy is supported by Linux and by CUPS. Epson printers tend to be very well supported in Linux, so I stick to Epson pretty faithfully. If you are looking to delve into the world of Linux printing, you would do very well to get as familiar with CUPS as possible.

What Does the Future Hold For Suse Linux?

When I first heard the news that Attachmate was buying Novell, my first thought was “stick a fork in Novell’s Suse Linux, its done!” Now it appears that I may have thought too soon. Attachmate claims that it will continue to support Suse Linux. However, Novell’s non-Linux business components will be operated separately in the United States, while Suse Linux will return to its German roots. Many of the Novell developers working on the Mono project have been laid off, demonstrating that support for porting Microsoft .Net architecture to Linux will NOT be on the future agenda.

Here are my opinions:

  • Suse was not doing very well in a U.S. Linux market dominated by Red Hat and Ubuntu. Re-rooting Suse in Germany, where it is much more popular, is a very good idea.

Mono had some success, but I never really liked the idea of a Linux project being so dependent on a company that just does not seem to like Linux very much. I would much rather see Miguel de Icaza and his team of engineers work on more independent projects, or at least work with communities that will be more supportive. Mono was, in my opinion, kind of a dead end, but I wish Mr. Icaza and his team nothing but future success.

  • I think that Novell will emerge as a stronger company, one that does not have to depend of coupons from another vendor to turn a profit. Novell was a great company, and it will hopefully return to the prominence that it enjoyed in the 1980s and 1990s.


This has truly been a great week in the world of Linux and GNU. I downloaded and installed Fedora 15, and I absolutely love it. The new Gnome 3 interface takes a lot of getting used to, but I would not want to go back. It is simply the most amazing user interface that I have used in my six years on GNU/Linux. The story that I will continue to watch the most closely is the U.S. federal government’s shift to free software. I want to see this happen, I believe that it will. Have a great week! I look forward to the next article.


  • Attachmate Splits Novell into NetIQ, SUSE Divisions – Linux and Unix news from Channel Insider. (n.d.). Value-Added Reseller (VAR) and Technology Channel Partners News – Channel Insider. Retrieved May 31, 2011, from
  • Burchill, J. (2011, May 23). CUPS – Open Source Multi-Printer Management. Technorati. Retrieved May 31, 2011, from
  • Linux Mint 11 ships with retro GNOME 2.32 UI . (May 27, 2011). — All About Linux on the Desktop. Retrieved May 31, 2011, from
  • Moody, G. (2011, May 27). Now is the Summer of Our Discontent. Computer World UK. Retrieved May 31, 2011, from
  • Proffitt, B. (2011, May 30). New Linux 3.0 kernel, same as the old kernel | ITworld. IT news, technology analysis and how-to resources | ITworld. Retrieved May 31, 2011, from
  • Rosenblatt, S. (2011, May 23). Miro 4 hopes to fill Android’s iTunes void | The Download Blog – Free software downloads and software reviews – CNET Retrieved May 31, 2011, from
  • Scott, J., wheeler, D. A., Lucas, M., & Herz, J. (2011). Open Technology Development (OTD): Lessons Learned & Best Practices for Military Software. Washington, DC: Sponsored by the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Networks & Information Integration) (NII) / DoD Chief Information Officer (CIO) and the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (AT&L). Retrieved May 31,2011 from
  • Williams, M. (2011, May 30). Asus Demos Phone-tablet Combo, Meego Netbook | PCWorld Business Center. Reviews and News on Tech Products, Software and Downloads | PCWorld. Retrieved May 30, 2011, from


{ 1 comment }

Piere May 31, 2011 at 7:29 am

You forgot one huge news: KDE 4.7 Beta 1 Released.

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