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Disagreements Arise Over the Prospects for Android Wear

Monday 7th of July 2014 03:00:47 PM

Last week, I noted that the hubbub coming out of the Google I/O conference was that Android Wear will become the next big mobile platform. Android Wear devices were all the rage at the event. Google even handed out prototype smartwatches running the platform, purportedly to encourage developers to begin creating apps for it. Mike Elgan, writing for Computerworld, has gone so far as to say that Android Wear is "the new iPad."

But not everyone is convinced. USA Today is out with a piece noting that smartwatches, in particular, remain pricey and devoid of key features.

According to Edward Baig in USA Today:

"While it's surely helpful to glance at notifications that pop up on your wrist for incoming e-mails, Facebook feeds and sports scores, it's typically not that much more helpful than reaching for your phone. Too many notifications risk bordering on distraction."

The killer feature in Android Wear devices, though, is thag through "OK Google" voice recognition features, users can talk to their watches to interact with them. 

According to Elgan and Computerworld:

"Android Wear watches are the first smartwatches to cross the line from awkward to awesome, because they're the first to completely abandon the smartphone's icons, menus and widgets paradigm and massively leverage subtle contextual cues, images, icons and colors to present tiny nuggets of information in their most essential and quickly graspable form."

As noted on the Android Wear site:

"Just say OK Google. Respond to texts, instant messages, and emails by voice. Ask questions like “Will it rain this weekend?”, “What time is it in London?”, or “How do I get to the post office?” and get straight answers....Keep track of your fitness with daily summaries showing your step count and heart rate."

 These kind of features actually sound useful, and as far as notifications go, you can customize them if you feel like you are getting too many.

 When Android itself first arrived, it took some time succeed as well, as I noted in a post on OStatic back in 2009. Then, almost no phones shown at Mobile World Congress ran the platform. Since then, Google has shown that it can create strong markets for open mobile platforms. 

In all likelihood, we'll see Google offer incentives for developers to rally around Android Wear, and incentives for buyers. There, too, Google has prior experience, as it has incentivized users and developers surrounding both Android and Chrome OS.

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Firefox's Share Falls as Chrome's Continues to Rise

Monday 7th of July 2014 02:45:53 PM

While Mozilla was mostly in the headlines during the early part of this year for news related to Brendan Eich and for the company's newfound focus on smartphones and Firefox OS,  another piece of meaningful news regarding the company is largely being ignored: In April, Google Chrome moved past Firefox to take second place in desktop browser market share, according to web traffic stats from Net Applications.

Now, according to new data from Net Applications, Firefox has hit a new low in terms of share, and Mozilla isn't finding great success with its mobile platform yet, either.

According to numbers from Net Applications, Firefox’s user share fell to 12.9 percent in June. That number includes desktop as well as mobile browsing usage. Google Chrome added 1.6 percentage points to its desktop share, averaging 19.3 percent for June. That was a record for Chrome, which is a much younger browser than Firefox.

According to Computerworld:

"Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) continued to dominate the desktop, where its user share was 58.4% for June -- the highest since February 2011 -- but on mobile, IE remained stuck in the low single digits: 2% for the month. That put IE's combined share at 48.4%, the same as in April."

Interestingly, Opera remains a player in the race. Its desktop browser share rose from 1.8 percent to 2.2 percent in June. For Mozilla, though, the company's increased focus on Firefox OS may be costing it on the standard browser front.

 


 

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More NSA Fallout, Linux Time Warp, and the Ultimate OS

Saturday 5th of July 2014 03:12:06 AM

In tonight's news, the Linux Journal publishes more on the NSA surveillance of Linux users and the Electronic Frontier Foundation throws in their thoughts too. Wired.com has a look back at Linux including a funny video. And finally, Gary Newell asks if you want to help fund the ultimate operating system.

The Linux Journal seems to be taking in stride all this attention its been getting the last couple of days. Katherine Druckman asked today, "Are you an extremist?" If so, wear it proud and stamp your online profile picture with the "Linux Journal Extremist Reader" stamp available in white, red, or black.

In other posts at the LJ, Kyle Rankin discusses just how disturbed the leaked code has him and his. Doc Searls posted on privacy issues and Kyle Rankin has Tails howtos. On the same topic, the EFF says, "Dear NSA, Privacy is a Fundamental Right, Not Reasonable Suspicion."

The Wired online looks back at Linux and begins with the video of Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer mocking Linux "dressed as characters from The Matrix." Wired says "Linux would have the last laugh" though. Today, Wired says, Linux not only survived but has "changed the world."

The Everyday Linux User was contacted by a budding developer wanting to fund the Ultimate Fighting Operating System. "Operating System U will use Arch Linux as the base distribution and the desktop will be a customised version of MATE with less bugs and more features." It will feature Wayland instead of X and "something called Startlight." So, see his full post if interested.

In other news:

* Qualcomm DMCA Notice Takes Down 100+ Git Repositories

* Next Generation Klipper

* Debian Project News - July 3rd, 2014

* Steve Kemp Returns to Debian

* Ubuntu highlighted in IBM Systems Magazine

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On NSA Watchlist, Dream Machines, and Ten Tips

Friday 4th of July 2014 03:17:10 AM

Yikes, our top story tonight is we are all on the NSA watchlist. Jack Germain says the Novena Open Hardware laptop is a hacker's dream machine. LibreOffice 4.3.0 RC2 was released and Nick Rickert posted about the "progress toward openSUSE 13.2." And finally tonight, our old friend Jack Wallen has ten tips for a more friendly desktop.

Many sites, including ZDNet.com and The Register, are covering leaked NSA documents that indicate Tor/Tail users and Linux Journal readers are among those labeled "extremist" and put on the list for further surveillance. What a coincidence it is that Kyle Rankin published another article on Tor over at Linux Journal today. He updates his previous work instructing users how to install and use Tor. Referencing the same source as The Reg, Arstechnica.com published the smoking snippet of code.

Jack M. Germain at the LinuxInsider.com today said, "Would you buy a high-end laptop built completely around open hardware and the Linux distro of your choice? Novena offers that opportunity." He describes Novena as "an open-hardware computing platform that is flexible and powerful. It is designed for use as a desktop, laptop or standalone board." It's features a 1.2 GHz ARM processor, 64-bit DDR3, PCI-e bus, SATA-2, and HDMI. Their product line includes a $1300 all-in-one, a $2200 laptop, and $5000 Heirloom Laptop with handcrafted wood case. Germain says the Novena is a "hacker's dream machine."

Jack Wallen today published 10 tips to a "more user-friendly Linux desktop." His "simple tricks" will "make your Linux desktop experience as user-friendly as possible." These include installing a dock, learning keyboard shortcuts, and adding GNOME extentions. He concluded, "Linux is not the ubergeek-centric operating system it once was. In fact, in many ways, Linux is the most user-friendly platform available."

In other news:

* Progress toward opensuse 13.2

* Improve The Font Rendering Of Your Debian Derivative via Infinality

* LibreOffice 4.3.0 RC2 Release Notes, Download

* LibreOffice Coverity Defect Density

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Red Hat Delivers Beta of Satellite 6 Admin Toolset

Thursday 3rd of July 2014 03:20:08 PM

If you happen to manage a Red Hat Enpterprise Linux (RHEL) envronment, you may want to download Red Hat's new Satellite 6 beta version of its management solution. It's now available here. You can also find an informational video on it here.

It offers simplified system provisioning, configuration oversight, patch management and content management features.

According to Red Hat:

"Red Hat's latest beta release of its flagship Red Hat Enterprise Linux systems management solution delivers dramatic improvements across system provisioning, configuration management, content management, and overall scalability and security. Red Hat Satellite 6 is now ready to download and test, sharing your feedback with Red Hat as you work through the testing process."

The new tool can also help administrators with provisioning across bare metal, private and public clouds, and help in working with Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, OpenStack, VMWare, and EC2.

With the deployment of Red Hat Satellite Capsule servers, Red Hat Satellite 6 beta can also enable distribution and federation of provisioning, configuration, and content delivery. This beta of Satellite integrates the popular Puppet and Foreman open source tools for configuration management and lifecycle management. And, admins can automatically correct system state with reporting, auditing, and history of changes.

Finally, Red Hat is hosting a free webcast on July 9 for those interested in a demonstration of the features in the Red Hat Satellite 6 beta.

 

 

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Microsoft Joins Powerful Internet of Things Alliance

Thursday 3rd of July 2014 02:55:37 PM

Back in April, the Future of Open Source Survey, sponsored by Black Duck and North Bridge Venture Partners, showed that The Internet of Things looms large as an emerging technology trend. And, In December of last year, The Linux Foundation announced its Allseen Alliance initiative, billed as "the broadest cross-industry consortium to date to advance adoption and innovation in the 'Internet of Everything' in homes and industry." Premier level members in the alliance include Haier, LG Electronics, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Sharp, Silicon Image and TP-LINK.

And, this week, Microsoft joined what is shaping up to be a big effort to create an open platform for the Internet of Things. Microsoft's participation in the Allseen Alliance could boost everything from Xbox connectivity to automation in homes, and its participation is no doubt driven by new CEO Satya Nadella (seen here), who is a cloud computing guru.

Gartner predicts that the Internet of Everything or the Internet of Things -- automatic communication and connectivity between a wide range of everyday devices, objects and applications – will infuse $1.9 trillion into the global economy by 2020. That's a tech revolution on par with some of the mobile achievements of the past several years.

In December, as the Allseen Alliance rolled out, it became clear just how much support the Linux Foundation had rallied behind it. It includes some of the world’s leading, consumer electronics manufacturers, home appliances manufacturers, service providers, retailers, enterprise technology companies, innovative startups, and chipset manufacturers.

The Allseen Alliance seeks to rally its members to develop open technology around Alljoyn, device communications technology which came originally from Qualcomm.

In a Microsoft blog post, officials write:

"The Internet of Things (IoT) represents an undeniable opportunity across a range of industries, a topic many of my colleagues have covered at length over the past few months. We believe that there is a critical set of work our industry must undertake in order to make sure we deliver the right set of platforms and services to realize the IoT opportunity."

"We believe the promise of IoT lies in making new and existing devices smarter by connecting them to services in the cloud. At Microsoft, we are focused both on a powerful device platform and great services through Microsoft Azure to deliver great technology to developers, partners and customers."

It remains to be seen how open Microsoft will be in its Internet of Things development, but it is good news for the Allseen Alliance to gain a powerful new partner.

Some are predicting that next year's CES show will feature many products incorporating open Allseen Alliance code, and that by then we will see if open source can form the fabric that makes The Internet of Things a reality.  

 

 

 

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IRS Thwarts OSS, Classic Quake, and KDE

Thursday 3rd of July 2014 03:53:13 AM

The top story in today's Linux news is the IRS denial of nonprofit status for Open Source projects. Carla Schroder show us how to easily load up the old Quakes and Jos Poortvliet posted part two of his "where KDE is going" series. And finally today, Dedoimedo isn't entirely happy with Mint 17 MATE.

Grabbing the bulk of the headlines today was the IRS's decision to deny 501(c)(3) to Yorba, the guys developing Shotwell and Geary. They were subjected to the same type of "disproportionately aggressive standard of review" as other groups meeting certain targeting criteria and five years later were denied for reasons Jim Nelson, Geary developer, described as alarming. He's afraid this recent decision could thwart Open Source development as most of their arguments directly question and conflict with the very foundational philosophy of Open Source software.

Quake and Quake II are gaming classics and are still near the top of my all time favorites list. I've been using QuakeSpasm and Yamagi to play them but Carla Schroder at Linux.com suggests darkplaces for Quake 1. She instructs readers how to install each, but she also explains how to get the music working. So check that out if you're craving some good old-school fragging action.

In other gaming news, Polygon.com says Q*bert has just got rebooted. They say Q*bert Rebooted is "a new game that will offer the original Q*bert experience in its pixelated 2D form as well as a 3D version with modern graphics and gameplay." It's coming in a few days to Steam and will have a Linux version.

In other news:

* Where KDE is going - Part 2

* OpenSSL revived with survival roadmap

* Linux Mint 17 Qiana MATE review - Uh, well

* Insider Selling: Red Hat EVP Unloads 10,000 Shares of Stock

* Thoughts on the IRS Review of Free Software Nonprofits and Why I'm Not Worried for Conservancy

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HP Delivers Reference Architecture for OpenStack Running on Ubuntu

Wednesday 2nd of July 2014 02:55:34 PM

 HP has been emerging as more and more of a partner to Canonical in the OpenStack arena. Canonical announced the opening of its Ubuntu OpenStack Interoperability Lab (OIL) late last year, and it features some really heavy-hitting tech partners, including HP.

Now, HP has vouched for Ubuntu Linux as a platform for deploying OpenStack with the release of a complete reference architecture providing detailed instructions on setting up an OpenStack cloud using Ubuntu and other tools from Canonical, including Juju and MAAS.

The reference architecture arrived this week, and is written for Ubuntu 14.04, the current  long-term support (LTS) version of the open source operating system, and Icehouse, the latest release of OpenStack.

Several user surveys have identified Ubuntu as the most popular OS to run OpenStack on. 

As The VAR Guy notes:

"The reference architecture, which Canonical's engineers wrote in conjuction with those from HP, encourages users to take advantage of the MAAS and Juju deployment tools for provisioning an OpenStack cloud and configuring cloud services. Canonical leads the development of both of those software platforms."

There is more and more good information arriving for help in deploying OpenStack. In addition to the official documentation for OpenStack, Opensource.com has a good post up about complementary reference guides. It's available here

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Serious Flaw Found in Popular WordPress Plug-in

Wednesday 2nd of July 2014 02:40:56 PM

A serious flaw in a popular WordPress plug-in has been identified by security firm Sucuri, and Daniel Cid, Sucuri's chief technology officer, has a blog post up about it. "It allows for any PHP file to be uploaded. This can allow an attacker to use your website for phishing lures, sending SPAM, hosting malware, infecting other customers (on a shared server), and so on!" writes Cid.

The flaw is found in the MailPoet Newsletters plug-in, previously known as wysija-newsletters, which has reportedly been downloaded nearly two million times.

The vulnerability has been patched in MailPoet version 2.6.7, which arrived Tuesday, so WordPress administrators should upgrade their plug-ins to the new version as soon as possible.

Cid writes:

"If you have this plugin activated on your website, the odds are not in your favor. An attacker can exploit this vulnerability without having any privileges/accounts on the target site. This is a major threat, it means every single website using it is vulnerable...Because of the nature of the vulnerability, specifically it’s severity, we will not be disclosing additional technical details. The basics of the vulnerability however is something all plugin developers should be mindful of: the vulnerability resides in the fact that the developers assumed that WordPress’s “admin_init” hooks were only called when an administrator user visited a page inside /wp-admin/."

"It is an easy mistake to make and they used that hook (admin_init) to verify if a specific user was allowed to upload files...However, any call to /wp-admin/admin-post.php also executes this hook without requiring the user to be authenticated. Thus making their theme upload functionality available to everybody."

Some platforms are favorites for hackers to unleash attacks on, and WordPress is one of them. If you have a WordPress site and use MailPoet, get the upgrade. 

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KDE Vivaldi Dead, To Know Tor, and New Mint ISOs

Wednesday 2nd of July 2014 03:36:30 AM

The top story tonight is the sad news that the KDE Plasma tablet project has given up while Krita announces a financial success. Bloody Disgusting has a peek at the upcoming gaming title "Frozen State" and the EFF has 7 things you should probably know about Tor. The Linux Mint guys have announced updated images for the Cinnamon and MATE editions of Mint 17 and the latest review isn't the love letter the others were.

Phoronix.com's Michael Larabel is reporting that KDE's Aaron Seigo and the development team are officially "wrapping up the Improv project." Most of blame is being put on the missing-in-action Improv mini-boards. The ship dates continued to slip and that turned out to be due to a lack of orders. So, it comes down to lack of interest from the public, which Seigo did think to blame too. Well, actually, he said, "The Free software community does not seem ready at this point to make a concerted stand on the pressing issue of hardware freedom." This, of course, means the end of the tablet as a whole as well. It's being reported that Seigo had invested $200,000 of his own money in the project.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is still urging folks to use Tor to access Internet sites anonymously and today they listed 7 top reasons to use it. They say it still works for everyday people, not just criminals. It has no backdoor and no one has ever been prosecuted for using it. They claim it's easy to use and not as slow as we think. But see their full post for more.

Clement Lefebvre yesterday announced the updated ISOs for Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon and MATE. There were several problems with the originals for some folks, but Clem said if you're up and running and updated, you don't need to download the new ones. See his full announcement for all the bugs addressed.

Speaking of Mint, Neil Rickert wrote today of his experiences testing Linux Mint 17 KDE recently and he encountered a few challenges. Later he compares Mint to Kubuntu and says while Mint is prettier, Kubuntu is more up-to-date. He does conclude that "Overall, Mint 17 KDE is a pleasing system."

In other news:

* Russian Horror ‘Frozen State’ Releases Tomorrow

* Ivan Cukic: Just a teaser

* 3 open source tools to make your presentations pop

* The Linux Setup - David Wickes, Software Developer

* Linux World Domination Complete: Why It's Foolish To Bet Against Open Source Communities

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Facebook's Open Source Contributions Remain Substantial

Tuesday 1st of July 2014 03:05:35 PM

Facebook, like Google, is showing itself to be a strong contributor to the open source community. Only a few weeks ago, the company open sourced Haxl, a library that eases access to remote data. Haxl can automatically batch multiple requests to the same data source, request data from multiple data sources concurrently, and cache previous requests.

Now, the company has distributed some overall numbers about its open source contributions, and it's clear that Facebook is making a substantial effort to share tools that it creates.

According to an update from the company, open source activities of note include:

Facebook's open source projects have seen 13,000 total commits, an increase of 45 percent from the second half of 2013.

Launched 63 new projects since January 2014

Total active Github portfolio stands at exactly 200 for projects spread across Facebook, Instagram and Parse

Projects collectively have netted 20,000 forks and 95,000 followers.

Facebook's total open source library stands at approximately 9.9 million lines of code.

That's nothing to shake a stick at. It's great to see Google and Facebook contributing meaningful projects to the open source community, and it's also worth noting that both companies may benefit from community participation in their projects.

On that last front, just consider how much Facebook has benefited from working with others on its Open Compute project.  That has helped keep Facebook's own data centers humming along efficiently.

When the company launched the Open Compute Project, a post noted the following

"Inspired by the model of open source software, we want to share the innovations in our data center for the entire industry to use and improve upon. Today we’re also announcing the formation of the Open Compute Project, an industry-wide initiative to share specifications and best practices for creating the most energy efficient and economical data centers."

 "As a first step, we are publishing specifications and mechanical designs for the hardware used in our data center, including motherboards, power supply, server chassis, server rack, and battery cabinets. In addition, we’re sharing our data center electrical and mechanical construction specifications. This technology enabled the Prineville data center to achieve an initial power usage effectiveness (PUE) ratio of 1.07, compared with an average of 1.5 for our existing facilities."

 

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Android Wear: The Next Major Mobile Platform?

Tuesday 1st of July 2014 02:48:08 PM

At the recent Google I/O conference, Android was the star of the show, and, in particular, Android Wear devices were all the rage. Google even handed out prototype smartwatches running Android Wear, purportedly to encourage developers to begin creating apps for the wearable computing platform.

Mike Elgan, writing for Computerworld, goes so far as to say that Android Wear is "the new iPad." He argues that just as people said that the iPad was bulky and inconvenient, then took to it in droves, Android Wear devices will follow the same adoption curve.

According to Elgan:

"Android Wear watches are the first smartwatches to cross the line from awkward to awesome, because they're the first to completely abandon the smartphone's icons, menus and widgets paradigm and massively leverage subtle contextual cues, images, icons and colors to present tiny nuggets of information in their most essential and quickly graspable form."

One thing that many people don't realize about Android Wear is that it is going to leverage speech recognition and will get better and better at doing that. According to the Android Wear site:

"Just say OK Google. Respond to texts, instant messages, and emails by voice. Ask questions like “Will it rain this weekend?”, “What time is it in London?”, or “How do I get to the post office?” and get straight answers....Keep track of your fitness with daily summaries showing your step count and heart rate."

Platforms like Android Wear are going to get better and better at monitoring vital health statistics, and that could help them become easily as popular as, say, the Fitbit.

According to Elgan, who has been using an Android Wear device: "The wrist is a spectacularly perfect place to get notifications, launch voice commands and get Google Now cards."

The funny thing is, when Android first arrived, it took some time succeed as well, as I noted in a post on OStatic back in 2009, when almost no phones shown at Mobile World Congress ran the platform. 

Android, of course, went on to be an enormous open source success, and, there is every reason to expect that Android Wear devices are going to have their day in the sun, too.

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New Commercial Rolling Linux, Xfce the Best, and More Mint

Tuesday 1st of July 2014 03:38:18 AM

Our top story in tonight's Linux news recap is the announcement of CoreOS, a new commercial Linux distribution. Over at Datamation, Matt Hartley explains why Xfce is the best Linux desktop. Also today, WorldOfGnome.org has a short review of GNOME 3.13.3, eWeek has a slideshow of newly released Peppermint 5, and the Mint 17 reviews just keep on coming.

Several outlets covered the announcement of CoreOS today, one leading with its new funding of $8 million and another with the first commercial product; but I didn't really start clicking until ComputerWorld.com.au said CoreOS "does away with the upgrade cycle." Apparently CoreOS did get a big old VC check to develop and deliver their new commercial rolling-release Linux distribution. They're calling it "OS-as-a-service," but we just call it a rolling-release. CoreOS is going to charge folks $100/month to get updates and new stuff installed automagically as released - never any major upgrades or reinstalls. "The distribution can be updated more easily due to its novel use (teehee) of two partitions," the article says.

Matt Hartley says Xfce is the best Linux desktop because of "its ease of use and repair, and its facility with older systems." He compares Xfce with several other popular desktops a bit before getting into his real reasons. He concludes, "Park any basic Windows users in front of XFCE and in minutes, they'll find their way around. I don't have the same confidence with GNOME and KDE in this area."

Speaking of desktops, WorldOfGnome.org testdrove GNOME 3.13.3 and posted today of some of the significant changes since 3.12. Alex Diavatis goes over several adding nice screengrabs and says lots more is coming (both from GNOME and him). So, be sure to check that out.

Mint 17 just keep on grabbing headlines (and blog titles). Today Unsolicited But Offered said Mint 17 is just too boring because it always works so well so there's "no need for a review." He basically said, "Mint is Mint."

Jack M. Germain at LinuxInsider.com said of Mint 17, " Linux Mint 17 is very impressive. The improvements included to numerous core components make upgrading to this latest release a no-brainer. The latest tweaks to each of the supported desktop environments greatly improve user satisfaction."

Another Mint 17 reviewer wrote, "Linux Mint fulfilled my expectations. It is as good a distro I thought it to be. Professional aesthetics, superb functionality, attractive wallpapers and stability - hallmarks of any Linux Mint release is all there in this release."

Today's Bonus links:

* The Windows 9 preview may drop this autumn

* Peppermint Five Linux Brings the Cloud to Linux Desktop

* Install and dual-boot SteamOS

* Rolling Along with Chakra GNU/Linux 2014.05

* Artwork Overhaul a Possibility in openSUSE 13.2?

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Google Shuts the Door on QuickOffice, as its Work is Done

Monday 30th of June 2014 03:12:37 PM

At last week's Google I/O conference, the company announced new levels of compatibility with Microsoft Office documents in its Google Docs cloud-based applications, including the ability to edit Office documents. These capabilities are driven through QuickOffice, a toolset that Google acquired back in 2012. Quickoffice has provided close compatibility with the Microsoft Office file formats, ranging from .doc to .xlsx, for users of Google Docs.

Now, Google has announced that it has halted development of Quickoffice and will soon pull the free toolset from the Google Play and Apple App Stores.

According to the Google Apps blog:

"With the integration of Quickoffice into the Google Docs, Sheets and Slides apps, the Quickoffice app will be unpublished from Google Play and the App Store in the coming weeks. Existing users with the app can continue to use it, but no features will be added and new users will not be able to install the app."

The whole acquisition of QuickOffice had to do with Google's need to provide compatibility with Microsoft Office documents, which are dominant in enterprises. In particular, users of Word, Excel and PowerPoint want to avoid having to convert files to Google's own formats, and losing data and formatting in the process.

These capabilities in Google Apps have much promise for helping Google gain entrenchment in enterprises. On the Android mobile app versions of Google Docs, Sheets and Slides the new Office compatibility features are in place, which can also help Android get a foothold in enterprises.

According to Google's announcement back when QuickOffice was acquired:

"Today, consumers, businesses and schools use Google Apps to get stuff done from anywhere, with anyone and on any device. Quickoffice has an established track record of enabling seamless interoperability with popular file formats, and we'll be working on bringing their powerful technology to our Apps product suite."

Now, it looks like QuickOffice's work is done.

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Google Shuts the Door on QuickOffice, as its Work is Done

Monday 30th of June 2014 03:12:34 PM

At last week's Google I/O conference, the company announced new levels of compatibility with Microsoft Office documents in its Google Docs cloud-based applications, including the ability to edit Office documents. These capabilities are driven through QuickOffice, a toolset that Google acquired back in 2012. Quickoffice has provided close compatibility with the Microsoft Office file formats, ranging from .doc to .xlsx, for users of Google Docs.

Now, Google has announced that it has halted development of Quickoffice and will soon pull the free toolset from the Google Play and Apple App Stores.

According to the Google Apps blog:

"With the integration of Quickoffice into the Google Docs, Sheets and Slides apps, the Quickoffice app will be unpublished from Google Play and the App Store in the coming weeks. Existing users with the app can continue to use it, but no features will be added and new users will not be able to install the app."

The whole acquisition of QuickOffice had to do with Google's need to provide compatibility with Microsoft Office documents, which are dominant in enterprises. In particular, users of Word, Excel and PowerPoint want to avoid having to convert files to Google's own formats, and losing data and formatting in the process.

These capabilities in Google Apps have much promise for helping Google gain entrenchment in enterprises. On the Android mobile app versions of Google Docs, Sheets and Slides the new Office compatibility features are in place, which can also help Android get a foothold in enterprises.

According to Google's announcement back when QuickOffice was acquired:

"Today, consumers, businesses and schools use Google Apps to get stuff done from anywhere, with anyone and on any device. Quickoffice has an established track record of enabling seamless interoperability with popular file formats, and we'll be working on bringing their powerful technology to our Apps product suite."

Now, it looks like QuickOffice's work is done.

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Red Hat Delivers Cloud Certification Plan, and Teams with HP

Monday 30th of June 2014 02:59:12 PM

When Red Hat announced very solid quarterly earnings a few days ago, CEO Jim Whitehurst was quick to attribute part of the strong performance to his company's new focus on cloud computing. In discussing the enterprises that pay Red Hat for subcription support and services, he said: "These are some of the most sophisticated IT organizations in the world, and many continue to increase their purchases from Red Hat to modernize their IT infrastructure with cloud enabling technologies."

I've made the point before that Red is pinning its future on cloud computing and OpenStack in particular.  But for Red Hat to succeed with its OpenStack plans, it needs to be able to assure enterprise users that they are using tested and interoperable tools. With that in mind, the company has announced a new cloud management certification for Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform as part of the Red Hat OpenStack Cloud Infrastructure Partner Network.

Red Hat has been working closely with cloud and network management solution providers, including iBMC and HP. As members of the Red Hat OpenStack Cloud Infrastructure Partner Network, these vendors are supporting Red Hat's platform certification process. 

Radhesh Balakrishnan, Red Hat's general manager of virtualization and OpenStack said, in a statement: 

“As OpenStack is becoming a core element of the enterprise cloud strategy for many customers, Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform is architected and backed by the broadest partner ecosystem to be the preferred platform. The growth and maturity of the ecosystem reflects the evolution of the product moving from addressing infrastructure-centric alignment to help with early deployments to now be well-managed, to be part of enterprise hybrid cloud implementations.”

Atul Garg, vice president and general manager of Cloud and Automation at HP added:

“We are excited to work with Red Hat to certify HP Cloud Service Automation and its solutions with Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform, to help our mutual customers build and manage private and hybrid cloud services. Our joint efforts are aimed at enabling customers to have choice and flexibility as they deploy cloud environments which can easily flex and adapt to business needs while supporting heterogeneity and leveraging existing investments in the datacenter.”

As enterprises deploy OpenStack, they are increasingly concerned about being able to use existing infrastructure and management tools with their deployments. The expansion of Red Hat’s certification program to include cloud management solutions is intended to help enterprises who want to deploy Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform in a private cloud to feel confident in using their management solutions of choice.

One other notable thing about the new certification program is that it deepens Red Hat's partnership with HP, which is also focused on OpenStack. It will be worth watching what else comes from that partnership, and, without a doubt, the cloud is the new battleground for winning enterprise users.

 

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Paying With Your Time

Sunday 29th of June 2014 03:49:13 PM

Nicole Engard takes that phrase that you get what you paid for with open source head on at Opensource.com. The phrase is normally used in a derogative fashion, but Nichole accepts the phrase and makes it her own by explaining how everyone benefits when you pay with your time.

In the world of standard economics, nothing is ever truly free of cost. If something is given to you for nothing, someone had to pay for it at some point along the line. In the modern, advertising based economy, If you are not paying with your money, than you are most likely paying with your personal information. Another example of would be public services, which are normally paid for with taxes. In the world of open source, the phrase is normally meant to imply that the program you are obtaining for free is of such low quality that it has little to no value. “Oh, you are having a problem with that open source app? Well, you get what you paid for!” Laughter ensues.

Nicole has a different view on the concept:

Well, with open source you can always pay to get new features written, but you also can pay with your time to improve the product. If ‘free’ can mean multiple things, so can ‘pay’. When it comes to open source, you have the freedom to improve the product and that means you can pay with your time (reporting bugs, suggesting features, writing documentation, etc), your skills (writing code, debugging software, etc), or your money, to improve the product at any time.

When you participate in open source, more than just downloading and running the app, you help make it better for everyone. Anyone can be a detractor, it’s easy to sit on the sidelines and mock those who are trying to build something good for the world, but it is much more worthwhile to spend our time, talent, and energy to make things better. After all, “it’s not the critic who counts”. Nicole agrees:

If however you just download the product and use it for free, then you don’t have the right to complain when it doesn’t do what you want.

As a writer, I’ve found myself on both sides of this fence numerous times. Sometimes when I find something so frustrating its tempting to abandon it and look somewhere else. What I struggle to remind myself is that when the process works, when we all really get open source, the applications get better, faster. We give back to something bigger than ourselves, and in giving back we become a part of it.

No matter what your skill set is, there is a place for you to participate in open source. You don’t need to be a programmer, you can be a writer, designer, or tester, or most importantly, you can be an average human trying to get things done, and report back to the community what does and doesn’t work for you. By paying with your time, everyone profits.

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Wallen on KDE, Quiet Revolution, and Ryan Gordon on Gaming

Saturday 28th of June 2014 03:18:09 AM

Our top story on this Friday night is Andrew Smith's blog post titled Linux is the quiet revolution that will leave Microsoft eating dust. Next up, Jack Wallen is probably answering Jos Poortvliet's Where KDE is going in his post today on KDE. And finally today, Ryan "Icculus" Gordon speaks about the Linux gaming industry.

Andrew Smith at The Conversation today said all kinds of good things about Linux, most we've heard before but it's still nice. Smith, who is associated with the Linux Professional Institute by disclosure, concludes, "Linux is free and much more pervasive than the average computer user might think. You can easily install Linux on any home computer, many tablets and even your own private supercomputer, so you should think about switching." How can you resist a title like Linux is the quiet revolution that will leave Microsoft eating dust?

Jack Wallen raked KDE and its users over the coals today as he said KDE has done all this innovating last X number of years and yet hasn't actually gotten anywhere. "Stagnant" is the word he used. He said those of us who love KDE "fear change or cling to the idea that the only way to effectively interact with a PC is the age-old metaphor that includes a start menu, a task bar, and a system tray." Yikes, it's like he's got a crystal ball! Well, good news / bad news Wallen says, "KDE 4.13.1 is as rock solid as KDE has ever been, [but] preaching to the choir doesn't increase the choir."

And finally today, GamingOnLinux scored another one today with their find of Ryan Gordon's presentation of gaming on Linux. They report he reminisces about his days at Loki and before (and since). Liam Dawe may not remember Gordon, but I certainly do. I remember when the name "Icculus" was revered almost as much as Linus Torvalds. Linux would have had a lot less gaming over the years if not for Icculus.

In other gaming news, Linux User & Developer has a piece on Linux gaming too featuring interviews with SteamOS developers and a review of SteamOS 1.0 Alchemist.

 And bonus today:   Exploiting wildcards on Linux.

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Ubuntu's Ties to OpenStack Bring it to IBM's Servers and Beyond

Friday 27th of June 2014 03:03:51 PM

It's no secret that Ubuntu Linux already has a disproportionately large presence in the OpenStack arena. Within the OpenStack ecosystem, users go with Ubuntu 55 percent of the time as their host operating system, according to the OpenStack Foundation's survey, a surprising statistic that Matt Asay discussed in a recent post. And, as Canonical announced several months ago, its OpenStack Interoperability Lab is playing a key role in how many enterprises gain confidence in deploying OpenStack.

But to really ensure its future in the OpenStack arena, Ubuntu needs to run on non-x86 hardware platforms. That's why Canonical has announced full support for IBM POWER8 machines on Ubuntu Cloud.

POWER8 is IBM's platform for wooing enterprise users interested in Big Data and fast performance. In early June, Canonical announced the official general availability of Power8 servers running Ubuntu.

As The VAR Guy notes:

"SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux are also now compatible with POWER8, so to a certain extent, Canonical's keenness for ensuring broad compatibility between the hardware platform and Ubuntu is simply about remaining competitive against other open source server and cloud operating systems. But by building the entire Ubuntu software repositories for POWER8, Canonical is also positioning itself to hold on to its lead within the OpenStack market—as well as to develop new strengths in the evolving Big Data world."

 Red Hat is emerging as a big competitor to Canonical in the OpenStack race. Red Hat has been deepening its ties with Dell in offering hardware that comes pre-loaded with Red Hat's Linux and OpenStack platforms.  Red Hat has a far reaching deal with Dell in which Dell will effectively become an OEM for Red Hat's Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform, by selling systems that run it. Canonical has to keep up with these hardware and software mashups, and is focused on doing so on the POWER8 platform. 

Ubuntu's evolution has become ever more tied to cloud computing, and its development cycle is now even tied to the development cycle of OpenStack. Look for OpenStack to play an ever more central role in how Ubuntu is developed over time, and which hardware platforms it is optimized for.

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The Cloud is the New Battleground for Winning Enterprise Users

Friday 27th of June 2014 02:43:32 PM

This week brought many news items that underscore the fact that the cloud is becoming a key battleground for Microsoft and Google, especially as they battle for enterprise users. To begin with, Microsoft announced a much more attractive pricing strategy for its OneDrive cloud storage service, including 15 GB free for any user, and price reductions of as much as 70 percent for paid customers.

Meanwhile, Google announced new levels of compatibility with Microsoft Office documents in its Google Docs cloud-based applications, including the ability to edit Office documents. Google is also offering essentially unlimited amounts of cloud storage for $10 a month.

The fact that Google Docs users can now edit Microsoft Office files through Google's cloud-based platform makes Docs a viable replacement for Microsoft Office as a full-time home office option, but it will also serve many enterprise users who demand Office compatibility. Updates to Google Docs, Sheets and Slides are now available via the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Meanwhile, many people forget that new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was previously head of Microsoft's cloud division. This week, Microsoft announced hugely attractive freebies and incentives for users of its OneDrive cloud storage service, and Nadella no doubt signed off on these. 

Office 365 customers now get 1 TB of storage up from 20 GB per account before. If you pay for OneDrive but don't have Office, you can still get 100 GB for $1.99 per month and 200 GB for $3.99 per month. Those plans previously cost $7.49 and $11.49 All free OneDrive accounts come with 15 GB of storage, more than twice what was offered before.

There is much more driving this than just the fact that storage costs are falling in the cloud. Just as productivity applications were previously a big battleground for winning enterprise users, data storage in the cloud is the new enterprise battleground.

As The New York Times notes:

"Soon, keeping your digital goods will also be the means for tech companies to understand who does what inside a business, just the way they understand consumers by watching what they do on the web."

"Online digital storage, the repository of an increasing amount of our business and personal lives, is changing from being a small part of computing to the core way of selling corporations other kinds of cloud software and services."

The platelets are shifting as Google and Microsoft compete fiercely for dominion in the cloud, and free applications and free storage are the bonuses that users can take advantage of as this plays out. 

 

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