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Month Review – January 2007 January 31, 2007

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Things are going cool and nice. Linuxwarrior members are now actively worked in the group. In this month members are published some their problems and solutions on Linux, at that moment the group is focusing on Linux but our extreme request for all that please write some extra off track of Linux. Yup, mean the Open Source and others. We know we have gurus on Microsoft and Oracle in the group. The upcoming month we will focus all these issues. Different flavor. So get ready for that.

Linuxwarrior blog got a big step in this month, after taking charge from Arnold to Prashanth, the blog is boost up. We give thanks both of them.

We have sad news also in this month, last day of January KV Prashant took off from his moderator ship. KV, thanks for your nice job. We believe you will be back soon in the old post.  

       We don’t think we will achieve everything in just in one day, that will be miserable. We gain our goals with activity, resources and capability. Day by day , month by month. LW can do –Believe in inner mind.  

Congress, all the warriors and well wishers. Wish you a happy new joy in upcoming days.

Good luck.

Regrads,
Technical Team
http://www.linuxwarrior.info

Torvalds warns against DRM and GPL3 obsessions January 21, 2007

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Linus Torvalds

 

Digital rights management (DRM) and the upcoming General Public Licence (GPL) version 3 are generating a heated debate within the open source communities, but do represent any real issues, according to the creator of Linux.

Linus Torvalds said that, while the debate rages about the best way to develop technology, users will settle on the best examples.

In this light, the upcoming third version of the GPL will be “just another licence” among the nearly 60 official open source licences, Torvalds said in an interview with the Australian Builder publication.

Many opponents of DRM want to drive an agenda against intellectual property ownership, according to Torvalds.

But he argued that DRM should be defeated in the marketplace, where consumers will purchase more digital media if it is not limited by DRM technology.

“I think it is going to cause a lot of hot air, a lot of hurt feelings, and a lot of argument,” he said. “But in practice I suspect that it is not that big a deal. But time will tell.”

The upcoming GPL3 requires developers to remove DRM features from GPL code. Users and developers of GPL3 code also have to provide a default licence for any patents to all other open source users and developers.

Torvalds has previously dismissed the licence’s “religious” patent and DRM provisions, which are only out to promote the “extremist policies” of its authors, he wrote last July.

ISP offers students cash for open source code January 21, 2007

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As an incentive to get students to push the code boundaries of open source software, a British software network is offering cash for fresh code, reports Welsh IT News Online.

The UK Free Software Network (UKFSN), a small Hertfordshire-based Internet service provider, concieved the idea to encourage students to develop software that can be modified by its end users.

Andrew Price, a computer science student at Swansea University, is the first person to be awarded £4,680 to further the code of the free software movement.

“There’s a lot of work to be done,” Price, a former president of the university’s computer society, told Ping Wales. “A constraint I have to follow is the GNU Free Software Definition.

“The UKFSN programme will allow me to carry on contributing to free software in my spare time instead of having to get a typical dead-end student job that would be far less fulfilling; now I can treat it like a fun job and not just a fun hobby.

Free software advocates believe application code should be open to tweaking by others in the development community and has gained an increasingly large audience.

“Many universities and colleges have a long history of involvement in free software projects as experience has shown that these provide invaluable benefit to both the student and the academic institution. It also occurred to me that students in this country are increasingly being squeezed financially,” said UKFSN’s Jason Clifford.

UKFSN, a top-ranked British service provider, is funding software projects from the profits of its Internet service provision business.

Open source gets European boost January 21, 2007

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Larry Ellison of Oracle stands in front of a linux poster

Some large firms like Oracle use open source software

The European Commission has added its voice to the debate about the use of open source software. A report funded by the Commission concludes that the software could offer considerable savings to organisations with little effect on their business.

The report found that in “almost all” cases long-term costs could be reduced by switching from proprietary software produced by firms such as Microsoft.

However, it warned that a move to open source could increase short term costs.

This would be largely be due to increased training for users of the software, said the authors of the report who are based at the United Nations University in Maastricht.

But some proprietary manufacturers such as Microsoft do not believe that open source always means cheaper. In 2004 the company launched a campaign called Get The Facts that gave examples of where its software was cheaper and more reliable than open source products.

Voluntary contribution

Open source software refers to software where the underlying programming code is made available to users to read, alter and improve. This is in contrast to proprietary software where a company controls the source code to prevent changes being made.

A great deal of open source software is produced and distributed for free by volunteer programmers, although some companies, such as Red Hat, do sell open source products and associated services to get them up and running.

The study estimates that just one-third of open source programs are produced by businesses in Europe.

Software made by volunteers includes operating systems, such as Linux, and Microsoft Office-like programs such as OpenOffice.org.

Open source programs are already used by many companies particularly to run web servers, the computers that store and deliver web pages.

According to the study, the number of existing open source programs already available would have cost firms 12 billion Euros (£8 billion) to produce.

It estimates that the available programs represent the equivalent of 131,000 programmer years.

“This represents at least 800 million Euros (£525 million) in voluntary contributions from programmers alone each year,” the report said.

At the moment, the report said, public organisations were the dominant beneficiaries of this work.

To continue this uptake, the report recommends “correcting current policies and practices that implicitly or explicitly favour proprietary software”.

As well as providing incentives to the open source industry it also recommends that schools start to introduce more of the software.

This would instil “an attitude towards information technology that favours the ability to create and actively participate rather than just consume,” the report said.

This view echoes those of 111 UK MPs who signed an early day motion in December 2006 to support the use of open source in schools.

The motion also criticised the “outdated” methods used to purchase software for schools that locked them into buying proprietary software.

 

your laptop is under risk January 20, 2007

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Do you have a laptop? Have you heard about the millions of lithium ion batteries that are being recalled worldwide? If not, you need to get your act together – and fast! Incidents of laptop going up in flames are not isolated to western world only.

What actually is making these lithium ion batteries leak, overheat, or cumbost? Mostly short circuits – the battery heats up and bursts into flames, or melts causing a lot of damage. A lithium ion battery typically contains several cells. These cells are insulated from each other using separators; a short circuit usually happens when a separator fails. With newer gadgets that are more power hungry, the trend is to manufacture smaller yet more powerful batteries – but that is done by decreasing the thickness of separators. That is why there is always a warning on lithium ion batteries about never throwing them in fire or puncturing them.

So who all have joined the battery recall bandwagon? Dell tops the list with 42 lakh batteries recalled. Then comes apple with 18 lakh recalls, Toshiba with 8.3 lakh, IBM/Lenovo with 5.26 lakh, Fujitsu with 2.87 lakh units, Hitachi with 16,000 units and HP with 15,700 units. Sony manufactured most of the batteries and they have there own recall as well; but the number of units to be recalled is not clear. If you have a laptop manufactured with any of these big names, you need to logon to there website, go to the support area and look around for the battery replacement program. You will need to check/enter the serial number and they will tell you whether you laptop battery is ‘at risk’. Better safe than sorry!

Notes From a Senior Editor: A Close Look at the OLPC January 10, 2007

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The Final Design of the XO

I have seen it, touched it, and played with it. The final industrial design prototype for the XO, the device that the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Initiative is going to start shipping to countries across the world this summer. AMD hosted a luncheon on Monday to give the press an update on the project, and to unveil the completed design.

Although the exterior form factor is now pretty much set (“Unless,” said OLPC official Michalis Bletsas half-jokingly, “Nicholas has another late-night inspiration.”), there is still work to be done on the software package and the hardware internals before the planned summer volume rollout of the unit.

AMD’s Chief Innovations Officer, Billy Edwards, Lays Out Their Strategy for 50% of the Earth’s Population to Have Internet Access By 2015.

According the Bletsas, the Beta 1 units we saw had manufacturing screwups by several of the integrators. “That’s why we have betas,” he commented. For example, the touchpad buttons had been recessed rather than protruding, something that I noticed immediately when I tried to use the XO. With two more betas to go before the summer, Bletsas was unfazed by the glitches. He also called the current state of the software “barely useable,” but again was confident that it would be where it needed to be by launch.

Michalis Bletsas, Chief Connectivity Officer for the OLPC

Only 750 of the Beta 1 machines were built, a limitation forced by the scarcity of a programmable logic chip used on the motherboard. Most of the Beta 1s went to beta testers in the field to gain comments. Bletsas commented that by doing this, they gained much more useful feedback than they would have with an in-house beta.

Many of the specifics of the OLPC XO were discussed at the luncheon. The final selection for power generation has yet to be made; it will be a yo-yo-like device that can be pulled by hand or foot, with a strap that can attached it to a belt or table. The yo-yo generates around 10 watts, while the XO consumes a mere 3 watts in non-intensive computing. This means, for example, that that for every 10 minutes of power generation, a child should be able to surf the internet for a half hour. The yo-yo is designed by Squid Labs, the first engineering prototype was delivered two days before the meeting. Bletsas said that the yo-yo was also being developed for commercial sale. “You could charge your cell phone in like five minutes,” he said. The charger is on course to cost around $10 in parts, he indicated that a commercial unit wouldn’t cost a lot more than that.

The XO Running in Tablet / e-Reader Mode

Inside the XO is a 23-watt Nickel-Metal Hydride battery than is good for about 15,000 cycles. Running at the highest consumption mode (watching video, playing games, or listening to music) the battery can operate the laptop for around six hours on a full charge. When the unit is idle and providing mesh network service, the usage time rises to over a day. The battery can be fully charged in around two and a half hours using the yo-yo, according to Bletsas. It’s also designed to burn at only 106 degrees C, a much safer option than a Lithium Ion battery if the XO is thrown in a fire or abused.

As mentioned, the power profile of the unit changes dramatically depending on what the child is doing. Peak consumption is around 5 watts for high-demand media applications, it falls to around 3 watts for browsing, under a watt when used as an e-Reader in black and white mode, and only 350 milliwatts to participate in the mesh network. Keeping the power needs low as a mesh repeater was critical, because the chosen networking design works better the more nodes are available, and the longer they stay online (“stay as dense as possible as long as possible”). Because the network can operate without requiring the main processor to run, children won’t need to worry that letting their XO participate in the mesh will drain the battery significantly. The radio itself is under $10 in production costs.

The Meshes Connect to Each Other and the Internet Through a Variety of Means

Keeping the 377-Mhz AMD processor processor from having to sip from the battery was a key concern. When used as an eReader, a separate frame buffer keeps the LCD updated, rather than having the processor do the job. This drastically reduced the power needed to keep a page displayed while a child reads. In general, the XO uses what Bletsas calls “Extreme Suspend,” going to sleep after two seconds of inactivity, but waking up within 300 milliseconds of an action.

The innovative display design serves two purposes. By overlaying a lower resolution (1024×768) color screen over a very high resolution (200 DPI, 1200×900) black and white one, then can get what to the eye appears to be a much higher color resolution. The color display is transmissive and requires a 1-watt backlight, which is provided by power-efficient LEDs. The black and white display is reflective, and actually performs better the brighter the ambient light is. This makes it ideal for rural teaching settings, where classes may be held outdoors. Switching from color to black and white is simply a matter of turning off the backlight. The ultra-high resolution black and white display is meant to make the eReader highly useable for textbooks. Bletsas notes that although the display cost only about one-third what a typical laptop LCD costs, it will have a higher resolution that 95% of the laptops on the market.

The software is based on Fedora Cora 6, put on an diet to reduce it to 150 MB, and leverages Python heavily. According to Bletsas, both Microsoft (WinCE) and Apple (OS X) offered their operating systems, but neither fit the footprint or security requirements that the XO demanded. In addition, the closed-source nature of those operating systems wasn’t a good fit to the OLPC philosophy.

The application environment looks nothing like a typical X-Window GUI that you or I have ever seen. Written menus are totally replaced with icons. In one example screen, the child can view all the other meshed XOs around them (the mesh is good point to point to about 600 meters), and see what activities the other children are involved in. Almost all activities can be done collaboratively. So, for example, multiple children can work on the same document or browse the web together. The distributions are fully open source, and can be downloaded and played with now at laptop.org. Also included will be a Gecko-based browser that Bletsas told me should be capable of displaying Flash-enabled web pages.

Viewing Other Children in the Mesh. Clusters Indicate Children Doing Things Together.

Bletsas says that the design philosophy tries to leverage Moore’s law in the opposite direction from that being taken by traditional laptop manufacturers. “When I bought my first laptop, it was $3,200. The last one I bought was $3,100. My latest on is 10,000 times as fast as my first one, but still takes the same amount of time to boot.” Bletsas says that laptop manufacturers have tried to cram more and more into their products, rather than use the falling cost of existing processors to produce a cheaper product. He acknowledges that the XO is not designed on intended for power users in the developed world. “You have to look at this through the needs of a child [in the developing world]. A child doesn’t want to play the latest video games. he wants to be able to read a book.”

The XO includes a Video Camera, Microphone, and Speakers

Also being developed is a central server designed to sell for around twice the cost of an XO, with a laptop hard drive and running under 5 watts in operation. Although the intent is that each mesh (which should correspond to a local school) will be connected to the Internet, the OLPC is not mandating a single solution. According to Bletsas, there are so many peculularities to each countries information infrastructure, that it really needs to be handled on a country by country basis. Among the connectivity solutions that are being suggested are satellite, WiMax, and cellular. The prototype server has already been tested with satellite receiver boards. The key again, says Bletsas, is that the connectivity can’t require huge amounts of power. He says that when a WiMax provider tells him that their central facility will require “only” about what a hair-dryer uses (1000 watts), his initial reaction is “Where am I going to get that kind of power?” He continues that the OLPC has been aggressively pushing its connectivity partners to adopt the same power-miserly approach that went into the XO.

Because of the emphasis on the XO as an eReader, content is obviously key. One third of the 15 full-time employees at the OLPC work on content development. According to Bletsas, Latin America is in the best shape, due to Mexico’s aggressive initiative to produce an electronic library of all of their text books. The OLPC is also working with the Wikimedia Foundation and Google to make locally cached versions of the databases available on the local school servers.

A Closer View

Bletsas doesn’t believe that the XO is at risk of becoming the latest target for botnets. “For one thing,” he comments, “Why would anyone try to create a botnet on 377-Mhz laptops with a relatively low-speed Internet connection when there are all these unprotected computers already sitting around.” In addition, the design of the operating system protects against infection by running each application in its own virtual machine, preventing any potential security loopholes in a given application from spreading to others.

The OLPC is still working on bringing down the cost of the XO. “The first units will be closer to 100 Euros than 100 dollars,” admits Bletsas. They hope to drop under the magic $100 figure during 2008. One way that costs are being kept down is to deliver the units en-masse to governments for delivery along the same channel as they currently use for textbooks, keeping the OLPC out of the distribution business. “If we were selling this laptop through normal consumer channels, it would be more like a $250 laptop.”

In addition, Bletsas indicates that the units have been designed around low-failure operation, with no moving parts. For example, the motherboard sits directly behind the LCD, avoiding the need for a failure-prone connecting cable. By giving the laptops to the children to own rather than the school, the OLPC also believes that there will be less vandalism on careless treatment. About the only part worth replacing if it fails is the LCD, Bletsas says that there will likely be central repair depots set up by the governments to handle the repairs that make sense, otherwise failed units will just be replaced.

Bletsas also envisions the children becoming their own support network, trading tricks and tips with each other, and actually becoming peers with their teachers. “Teachers tend to learn much slower than the kids themselves,” he notes. He says that waiting for teachers to become fully trained in the use of the XO would bog down adoption significantly. He likens the training and support model to a peer to peer network. “We believe in empowering the kids.”

Members of the Press Question Bletsas

Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Pakistan, Nigeria, Libya, and (most recently) Rwanda are the countries currently signed up for the program. Bletsas indicates that the program will actually be supply rather than demand limited in 2007. The goal is to deliver five million laptops within a year of the summer rollout, a goal he notes will represent a 10% increase in the total worldwide laptop production for the year and will be the largest single deployment of a computing platform ever. The units will be divided up between the program countries rather than concentrating on any one to the exclusion of the others, with countries encouraged to deploy to entire schools rather than cherry-picking students, to avoid envy. The only requirement being placed on the countries is that the laptops must go directly to the children.

Bletsas acknowledges that some abuse is inevitable. “Will some parents sell their children’s laptops on the gray market? Sure.” He also stated that the OLPC would rather engage with countries that might attempt to filter or censor information access, rather than isolate them. He notes that as soon as you give any Internet access to people, they tend to figure out how to work around whatever restrictions the government may have placed.

Ubuntu guru on power management hacks January 10, 2007

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It was while watching fellow Linux users having to shutdown their laptops in between talks at open source conferences some years ago that Matthew Garrett, now head of the Ubuntu laptop team, was initially alerted to power management issues in Linux systems.

After almost 15 years of hacking, Garrett will attend next week’s linux.conf.au, to give a presentation on power management in an effort to fix suspend “for fun and profit”.

Aside from working on improving hardware driver issues, Cambridge, U.K.-based Garrett has also worked extensively in Linux development, and was, until his resignation last August, one of the Debian project’s most active developers.

Garrett speaks with Liz Tay about working in the open source community, Debian, Ubuntu, and linux.conf.au.

What interests you most about power management? For how long have you been working on power management and what are some experiences you’ve had?

I started looking at power management in 2002, after discovering that my laptop didn’t work too well with the traditional APM support in Linux. At the time, Linux’s ACPI support was pretty minimal. By 2004, things were starting to work better. I’d upgraded my laptop, and then spent a couple of weeks working on the kernel. By that summer, I’d worked out most of the kinks and suspend and resume worked reliably for me.

Later on that year, I got invited to the first Ubuntu development meeting. It gave me an opportunity to test how well this worked on other people’s laptops. Sadly, it turned out that I was pretty much alone; almost everyone else there who had working power management had the same laptop as me! It was an opportunity though, and by the end of the week we had several more machines working.

Visiting conferences made me realise just how important power management was. Linux users all seemed to assume that they were doomed to spend the rest of their lives turning their laptops off between talks, and, to be honest, it was kind of embarrassing. I was in a position to help do something about it, and so since then I’ve spent time doing so.

What’s the problem with suspend on current Linux systems? How can this be fixed?

Sadly, there’s more than one problem. In many cases, the issue is with hardware drivers. Many Linux drivers were written without worrying about power management support, and so machines using these drivers are likely to have problems. In other cases, it’s because hardware has only been tested against Windows. Windows and Linux have entirely separate implementations of the ACPI specification, and unsurprisingly the interpretations of the specification vary to some extent.

Finally, the ACPI spec doesn’t cover video hardware – it’s up to the operating system to reprogram the video card, and Linux often doesn’t know how to.

The driver problem is likely to solve itself as more people start expecting power management to work. As bugs get filed, they’ll get fixed. In terms of compatibility with Windows, two approaches have been taken.

Firstly, the Linux code has been altered to be more compatible with the Windows implementation – there’s no point in being correct if nothing works. Secondly, Intel have released a toolkit that allows vendors to test whether their hardware conforms to the specification or not. With luck, this will become widely used.

The video problem is probably the hardest. There are various workarounds using the video BIOS, but they’re not guaranteed to work. The only long-term solution is for X to gain support for reprogramming video cards from scratch, and sadly that’s something that may require support from the video hardware manufacturers.

Oracle Rumored to Covet Ingres January 10, 2007

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Oracle might be looking to acquire open source database provider Ingres, according to speculation from analyst Bruce Richardson of AMR Research.As Richardson sees it, the main rationale for such an acquisition is that “Oracle would love to lure all of Infor’s ERP [enterprise resource planning] infrastructure business away from IBM.” Since the Ingres database powers Infor’s Adage ERP product line, an Oracle acquisition of the company could position it as a middleware alternative to Infor’s IBM-reliant customers. As an ERP provider itself, Oracle’s takeover of Ingres’ business could also get Oracle closer to poaching some application business away from Infor.

The six months baby January 9, 2007

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Linuxwarrior is now six months old. In this period lots of events are done in the group and overall this is a massive journey starting by the all members. The response is good and the growth is high. We congratulate all of our members for there efforts, without there nice cooperation it would be difficult to move. Now this group is in a big platform and from here it will get more work and goals. This is just a beginning….

Congrates guys for your effort. Wish you  a happy new year.

Regards,
Technical Team
http://www.linuxwarrior.info