Summary: Virtualization has become a huge buzzword in the world of computer science. Virtualization is as popular as the Artist, the movie that won big at the 2012 Academy Awards. However, unlike the Artist, which, deals with the fantastic early days of the movies, virtualization is real technology that is being used by companies, schools, and other organizations to perform real work. User Mode Linux is an exciting virtualization technology that is very different than Xen, Hyper-V, Vmware, and other well-known virtualization players. UML only runs on Linux. It is a Linux virtual machine that runs within a Linux distro on a host machine. Intel is one of the big supporters of UML. Intel also surprised the computing world by throwing its weight behind LibreOffice. Finally, I just purchased a Toshiba Thrive, and I will give you my analysis of this Android tablet.
Here are the three features for The Linux Week in Review 33:
- User Mode Linux: The Future of Linux Virtualization?
- Intel Throws It Weight Behind LibreOffice
- Toshiba Thrives With Its Toshiba Thrive Android Tablet
User Mode Linux: The Future of Linux Virtualization?
In 2006, Jeff Dike wrote a fantastic book about a new virtualization technology called User Mode Linux. I just finished reading the book, and I believe that UML might just be the future of Linux virtualization. Intel was so impressed by User Mode Linux that they hired Dike several years ago. They basically pay him to work on UML full time. Dike was offered a job by Red Hat around the same time that Intel made him its first offer back in 2004. This demonstrates how powerful, respected, and useful User Mode Linux is. So what exactly is User Mode Linux?
User Mode Linux is a Linux virtual machine designed to run inside a Linux installation on a host machine. UML is so powerful that one could create dozens of Linux VMs, and network them together within one real machine. Imagine this: a college student learns how to build and administer a whole Linux network on one one computer running a dozen UML virtual machines! That is the promise of User Mode Linux. Another area in which User Mode Linux is very useful is Linux kernel development. Instead of needing a “real” Linux machine, kernel developers can create a UML machine, and test development kernels on it without fear of “breaking” anything. A virtual machine can be destroyed and re-created at will, allowing the kernel developer to experiment a lot. I encourage you to read the UML book, and run UML on your Linux distro.
You can download the User Mode Linux book for free here:
Intel Throws It Weight Behind LibreOffice
How times have changed. Intel and Microsoft used to be connected at the hip. The good folks in Redmond, Washington cannot be happy about the latest development. Intel is now distributing a version of LibreOffice for Windows, a Free Software alternative to Microsoft’s ubiquitous office suite. The Windows version of LibreOffice being distributed by Intel was primarily compiled by SUSE. Intel has joined the Document Foundation, the non-profit organization which provides financial and managerial support for LibreOffice. I have used LibreOffice myself for more than a year, so I am glad to see a company as big as Intel throwing its weight behind LibreOffice. Now, can we please get a version of LibreOffice for Android?
If large companies like Intel start to throw their weight behind LibreOffice, it will put a lot of pressure on Microsoft. I expect to see this trend continue. I suspect that it will force Microsoft to lower their prices for MS Office, which I feel are somewhat out of line in the current economic climate. To be fair, it seems that MS has already adjusted their prices to some extent. However, LibreOffice demonstrates that an office suite CAN be made with high quality and a very low price. The challenge for Microsoft will be figuring out how to compete with LibreOffice and still make money. It will interesting to see how they respond.
Toshiba Thrives With Its Toshiba Thrive Android Tablet
I recently purchased a Toshiba Thrive Android tablet. I could not be more happy with it. A few months ago, I wrote a review of the Ipad 2, and I concluded that though the Ipad 2 is a wonderful device, it is far too locked down for my tastes. The Toshiba Thrive is a far more open device. I simply ignore the obligatory bloatware that Toshiba loads onto the device. In fact, I just deleted the icons linking to the useless apps loaded by Toshiba. Then, I could just focus on loading apps that I wanted from the Android Market. The first piece of software that I loaded was Firefox. As I expected, Firefox performed just as it does on my desktop and laptop computers. The next app that I installed was Dropbox, giving me access to all of the same files that I use on my other computer systems. Would I have liked to have waited for a true Linux tablet, like the upcoming Linux Spark? Yes, but the Toshiba Thrive was just too good to pass on: it has a full-sized USB port, a micro-USB port, HDMI, full-sized headphone jack, and full support for Ogg Vorbis/Theora. Yes, unlike the Ipad 2, I was able to listen to all of my Linux oggcasts on the Thrive. Overall, I would give the Thrive a 9 on a scale of 1 to 10. If Toshiba has shipped it without the bloatware, I would have given it a 9.5 out of 10. The other half a point loss is due to some buggy behavior when viewing YouTube videos and other processor intensive activity. This only occurs once in awhile. The Toshiba Thrive is a great device!!
This week was filled with exciting Linux news, and more importantly, we continue to make progress. The GNU/Linux community is becoming more diverse. Android, WebOS, User Mode Linux, GNU, and Linux are all distinct communities which are thriving and growing in their own rights.
I look forward to seeing you in TLWIR 34!