Saturday, 30 April 2011

PlayStation Network User Data Hacked

Seven days and counting: Sony's Playstation Network was still offline after the announcement  it had taken the service down indefinitely, while they 'rebuilt from the ground up.' PSN has suffered a major hack-attack and personal information of all users has been stolen, possibly including credit card data.

Following the Geo-Hotz-Sony lawsuit, it was assumed the hacking group Anonymous had suceeded in it's concerted denial of service attacks to shut down PSN but Anonymous has denied any involvement...

Friday, 29 April 2011

Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal Released

April 28th was D-day. Ubuntu 11.04, codenamed Natty Narwhal, was released. Being honest, the world didn't stop. 

Yes, the Ubuntu Linux community and development company Canonical in particular, cares a lot. The 11.04 release is a radical overhaul of this free Linux distribution, featuring the Unity desktop launcher. The Ubuntu community is split between the lovers and haters - like Marmite, nobody goes with indifference. The rest of the Linux world watches with interest to see how it is received. 

Many of the rival distributions are lining up the Gnome 3 Shell as it's similar-but-different user interface (Fedora 15 already has this). The rest of them, running classic Gnome desktop, Xfce, KDE, OpenBox and others, have already dismissed it, whilst the vast world of Windows users went 'meh?'... 

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Unity Beta Success on Netbook

Ubuntu 11.04 Beta-2 download on April 25th.

We put it on a netbook with Intel graphics (not my JVC-mini, the Intel Extreme 645 on-board is too old to work out of the box).

Yes; on a Dell Mini-10, the Unity interface works perfectly at 1024 by 600.  No messages. No extra drivers. No application crashes. You can re-size it and plug into an external monitor and it still works.

Canonical's development team got it right with three days to go.

Let's see how everyone else gets on. RC

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Review: Gnome Shell and Unity

The soon-to-be released Unity is Ubuntu's attempt (condescendingly) to produce a desktop environment with usability in mind. That rather patronizes the classic Gnome desktop, which was always functional rather than stylish and has served Linux users well for some years. But Gnome 3 with Gnome Shell is bringing major change, too.

Gnome Shell and Unity are the Gnome-based desktops designed from the start with usability and, particularly, new users in mind. Unity is native to Ubuntu and its' derivatives, whereas Gnome Shell will be available across many distributions.

The new user wants visual cues for everything, simplicity in layout, messages and notifications, also a quick way to pin favorite programs and files where they are accessible with a single click, similarly a quick way to find, well, everything else. The veteran hacker, by contrast, wants freedom to customize and configure a working environment for day-in, day-out use. So what do they get...?

Monday, 25 April 2011

Full Circle Magazine Issue 48 Out Now

Full Circle - the independent magazine for the Ubuntu Linux community - is proud to announce the release of our forty-eighth issue.

Celebrating our fourth year!

This month:
  • Command and Conquer.
  • How-To : Program in Python - Part 22, LibreOffice - Part 3, Finding eBooks and Using an Arduino in Ubuntu.
  • Linux Lab – Swappiness Part One. by some guy called Robin Catling
  • Review – Remastersys.
  • Top 5 – Project Management Tools.
plus: Ubuntu Women, Ubuntu Games, My Story, and much much more!
and don’t forget:

Full Circle Special Edition: The Perfect Server
A special issue dedicated to the Perfect Server articles featured in FCM#31-34:

Python Special Edition Part One
A compilation of parts one to eight, Part Two coming soon…

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Ubuntu Unity Fail on AMD Athlon

What Unity should look like...
So the saga continues. My countdown banner tells me we've less than six days to go to release and Ubuntu users around the globe are still having issues with this Unity thing.

Since this is supposed to be the next generation user interface and the Great White Hope of turning Ubuntu Linux into something attractive, stylish and functional, drawing the crowds away from Mac OS and Windows 7, there's a lot riding on this. Straight into a ditch...

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Ubuntu Unity losing to Gnome Shell

Battle of the Interfaces
In Linux-land we're at something of a crossroads in terms of the user interfaces and standard desktops presented by different Linux distributions. The two currently in the news are both controversial, partly because working versions are very late arriving, partly because of the changes they impose on the user and partly because of the massive compatibility issues we're having with both of them. 

Given the Open Source community doesn't always have the latest hardware, this is a blow to compatibility with older machines, notwithstanding that both Gnome Shell and Unity are causing trouble on current hardware as well...

Friday, 22 April 2011

Smoke on the water Japanese Style

Shamisen, flute and taiko players take on 70's rock, with Western strings and brass. How narrow is our view of culture and music in particular? This is one of those things that one never even contemplates existing.

The famous British rock song Smoke on the Water is being played by a Japanese traditional orchestra, commemorating Ooedo No Hikeshi, the 250th anniversary celebration of the Great Fire of Edo (Edo is the traditional name of Tokyo) the most destructive of many blazes, held along with the Great Eruption of Fuji-san 300th Anniversary. This is the Kabuki-za orchestra and readers along with part of the Suntory Hall Orchestra, which occasionally features the Crown Prince on viola (but not in this one)...

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Review: Linx Mint 10 'Julia'

I've been trying and reviewing Linux Mint since version 5.  At the start, Mint was a close Ubuntu derivative with a Windows-like interface and the USP of including preinstalled codecs for restricted formats.  Mint then began to push it's usability changes to make it easier for Windows users to jump ship; the Mint Menu, safety levels in system updates, including popular third party applications by default; screenshots, ratings and reviews for applications in the software center. The combination of theme and user interface controls remains simple, clean and sharper than a lot of the standard gnome desktops... 

Monday, 18 April 2011

Review: Foxit PDF Reader 1.1 for Linux

Almost a year ago, I opened a thread on Full Circle Magazine forums asking what alternative PDF readers we have on Linux. Having re-installed Ubuntu Karmic, I was trying to expunge as much the freedom-hating bloatware as I could and that includes Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader.

The native Linux equivalent, Evince, wasn't good in Ubuntu 10.04, horribly slow and liable to crash. It  improved immensely around  Ubuntu 10.10, loading and rendering documents and pages faster more smoothly.

The question remained, is there a better open-source PDF reader? I know all the KDE users will shout Okular, but I run Gnome Desktop without the stack of KDE libs installed...

Sunday, 17 April 2011

DEX Launch: Debian Derivative Exchange

Debian Derivatives Exchange project launched

A new start-up project aimed at Debian and its derivatives getting things done together has been launched in an effort to stop the finger-pointing, finger wagging and complaining among the Debian branch of Linux distributions. Such is the fractious nature of debate concerning the 'down-stream' projects lack of contributions to the code-base of the 'up-stream' parent, in particular, the Ubuntu Linux distro' from Canonical, some of the most respected figures in Linux have got together to do something about it...

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Full Circle Podcast Episode 18: Never Order the Fish

Full Circle Podcast Episode #18, Never Order the Fish is available from the main site.
In this episode: dissecting the news with a fish knife.
Full Circle Podcast is also a proud member of the Tech Podcasts Network.

OGG File Podcast Download

Feeds for both MP3 and OGG:
RSS feed, MP3:
RSS feed, OGG:

Review: Security Now Podcast

I've been listening to the Security Now podcast over on Leo la Porte's Twit network ( for more than a year now. It's an IT security show covering any and all security issues on hardware, software, hacking, data privacy, data recovery, legislation and audio tutorials on 'how stuff works.'

The show's presenter Steve Gibson is what I call 'old-school geek' but this is no bad thing. You get Leo's laconic US anchoring with Steve's combination of in-depth technical knowledge, passion for the subject and objective analysis honed through years in the industry.  All in all, it's a joy to listen to a presenter who is not only over-qualified (unlike certain podcast presenters not far from here we could mention!) but able to communicate difficult subjects for a wide audience.

Friday, 15 April 2011 Hacked

Just to prove you can never be too secure...

During the week we got a charming email from Wordpress founder, Matt Mullenweg:  
"Tough note to communicate today: Automattic had a low-level (root) break-in to several of our servers, and potentially anything on those servers could have been revealed...

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Event: OGG Camp 11

OggCamp 11 is taking place on the weekend of August 13 & 14, 2011
Postcode: GU9 7QR 

OggCamp 11 is a two-day technology festival bringing together the most interesting people from the Linux, Open Source and Hardware Hacking communities to share their passion and knowledge on all things geeky in a barcamp-style atmosphere.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Full Circle Podcast on Hacker Public Radio

We have re-purposed a number of Full Circle Podcast shows to go out on Hacker Public Radio over the next few weeks/months.

The first show is the extracted interview with Jon Spriggs and Les Pounder promoting the U-Cubed event.

Hacker Public Radio (HPR) is an Internet Radio show (podcast) that releases shows every weekday Monday through Friday. HPR has a long lineage and a growing number of 'correspondents' producing shows...

Monday, 11 April 2011

Ubuntu 11.04 Defaulting to Classic GNOME Over Unity?

Is Ubuntu 11.04 about to switch back to Classic GNOME desktop over Unity?

A message on the Ubuntu developers mailing list mentions that the current state of Unity will be up for discussion at the next Tech panel and, if needed, Natty may default to the Classic GNOME Desktop

  • Classic Gnome Desktop by default (dmandell)
  • Action: rickspencer3 will bring up the state of unity on the -desktop list for public review and discussion
The buggy state in which Unity/Compiz is remains as at Beta-1 release, combined with usability issues, UI settings and the launcher icon's behavior have raised doubts and this is no longer April Fool's!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Gnome Shell 3.0 Release

The much-delayed Gnome 3.0 with Shell is available!

Difficult to know where to start. It's so late, so criticised already that it's hard to talk about it without sounding like a grouch. But simply applauding the fact that the developers got it finished isn't the right reaction either.

I can't get onto the Gnome 3 PPA right now to run it, such is the pent-up demand. The PPA for .deb packages is hosted by Canonical, which is gracious, given the flame-wars and flak of late between Canonical and some of the Gnome Desktop team. But be warned code in this PPA is posted as unstable until at least April 28th.

There's an instant face-off between the Unity Launcher fans and Gnome-Shell fans. To cherry-pick some of the comparisons...

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Swappiness on Friday Night

Lack of a life; it's Friday night and I'm lost in the guts of Virtual Memory Management. It's Part Two of my article for Full Circle Magazine, "The Pursuit of Swappiness. I know, terrible title.

I just realised this topic is "above my pay grade" by at least couple of PhD's. My ancient MSc looking rather poor. I should probably stick to the day job of talking rubbish into a microphone. Or go back to opinion columns, you don't need facts for those.

So I have written the Dr. Seuss version. I expect the Sysadmins to throw bricks at me by the third paragraph.

It's also quite long and needs proofing by another pair of eyes.  I think it may need an edit or seven. Can't think of any suitable illustrations to break up the text right now, either.

Friday, 1 April 2011

No Going Back?

It seems Ubuntu 12.04 is cutting the anchor cable, burning the bridges and, err, boldly going... onward. It seems there's a throwaway comment to a bug in Launchpad:
Comment 5 for bug 739812
Mark Shuttleworth wrote 3 hours ago: #5
We made very good progress on a11y in Natty, but will miss the goal of perfect a11y. We'll nail it in Oneiric. That's OK, because we have the Classic desktop fallback in Natty, but will not in Oneiric. Mark

Which would be big news if not for todays' date. We all know Mark has a sense of humour. Smile. RC