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April 1st, 2016

Another Ubuntu Tablet, New Distro Releases & More…

FOSS Week in Review

A few months back I was thinking that reporting on FOSS wasn’t as fun as it once was. As a matter of fact, it seemed like nothing was happening, except on the enterprise front — which is usually about as exciting to follow as watching a junior accountant at work. Holy moley, how quickly things have changed.

First it was SCO, which after finally and irrevocably losing its case against IBM and being laid in its final resting place, rose from the grave a month later covered with dirt, taking wooden steps with arms outstretched, mindlessly repeating in the soulless voice that’s unique to zombies, “Appeal! Appeal!” When asked, “On what grounds?” the SCO zombie doesn’t seem to hear, but just keeps repeating the same word blindly and without reason. “Appeal! Appeal!”

Then there was the twelve hour scare, when news was leaked that Canonical and its newfound buddy Microsoft were bringing Ubuntu to Windows. At first look, that turned out to be something of a non-story, as the Windows version of the Linux-distro-that-would-be-Windows comes without just about everything you might expect to find in a GNU/Linux distribution. What you get, basically, is access to Ubuntu’s implementation of the Bash shell, which we now might call MS-Linux-DOS.

Don’t be too quick to make this a non-story only of interest to developers. When reading Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols’ account on Wednesday, when he wrote about WSL I began to suspect that this might only be the beginning of yet another Redmond scheme.

WSL, or Windows Subsystem for Linux, was quietly placed into Windows 10 back in January. Here’s what Dustin Kirkland, with Canonical’s Ubuntu Product and Strategy team, has to say about it: “Here, we’re talking about bit-for-bit, checksum-for-checksum Ubuntu ELF binaries running directly in Windows.”

WSL is only in beta and I can only assume that Microsoft has plans for it to eventually evolve into something that’s much more than what it is now. Call me paranoid, but I’m more than a little suspicious about where they’re planning on going with this.

In another Ubuntu related story, we learned today that MJ Technology, a company that in 2014 promised a Ubuntu Edge-like tablet to be delivered in 2015, is seeking to raise $200,000 through an Indiegogo campaign, hoping to launch a 10.1 inch tablet running Ubuntu in August. The goal is to build an X86/X64 system capable of running the full fledged Ubuntu desktop — Unity and all.

“Once Ubuntu Touch is to a released state,” the company says on its Indiegogo page, “we will provide an installable image built for our tablet, with instructions via our website so the consumer can upgrade/install the OS themselves, or with our tech support assistance if needed.”

The company claims to have prototypes “in final design testing and debug stages” and is now attempting to raise money to begin production. If successful, MJ intends to eventually offer tablets installed with other GNU/Linux distros as well. Pre-orders of the tablet, which will come in three versions, are offered as perks on the campaign page, starting at $230.

Today is the first day of the campaign. At press time, $533 dollars from seven backers has been raised. The company currently markets an Android tablet with a built-in HDTV tuner for $59.95.

Quote of the week: I found this on Twitter, posted by @SwiftOnSecurity, and suspect it’s meant to be a swipe at Linux, but it’s still funny. “Pretty soon the only reason to install Linux at home will be because Richard Stallman is coming over.”

Another day, another distro: This week there’s so much distro news to report that I’m breaking from the usual format in favor of a list:

  • NixOS 16.03 was released today. This release includes numerous new and upgraded packages as well as many improvements that can be found on the distro’s Release Notes page. Download from the distro’s download page.
  • Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the PC isn’t the only game in town. On Thursday, the Alpha version of Fedora 24 for POWER processors was released. It’s an Alpha, so don’t depend on it, but if you want to give it a test run you can find the appropriate URL through Fedora’s List Archives, where you can also find other information.
  • Emmabuntüs 3, Version 1.03. Released Wednesday. This distro isn’t developed by your run-of-the-mill development community, but by a community with a broader vision. For more information, read what FOSS Force said about them earlier in the week.
  • Also on Wednesday, Bodhi Linux’s lead developer Jeff Hoogland announced the release of version 3.2.0. This release includes a number of small improvements, which are listed on the webpage announcing the release. Downloads are available — where else? — on the distro’s downloads page.
  • On Monday, AV Linux 2016, a distro built on Debian and optimized for audio production, was released. Read more about it and download on the AV Linux webpage.
  • RaspEX, a distro for the Raspberry Pi, came out with an update on Thursday which optimizes it for Pi 3, including added support for Bluetooth. Visit the distro’s website for more information and to download.
  • OpenBSD 5.9. Released Tuesday. Okay, it’s not a Linux distro, but it is an open source operating system with a long history. To see changes, order a CD or to download, go to the version 5.9 page on the OpenBSD website.

Parting shot: A website in Spain, Detrás del pingüino, liked a recent column by Ken Starks enough that, with our permission, they translated it into Spanish for their site. If you want to see what Ken’s prose looks like in Spanish, or how it reads, check it out.

That’s it for this week. Until next time, may the FOSS be with you…

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

1 comment to Another Ubuntu Tablet, New Distro Releases & More…

  • Eddie G.

    Just my observations and opinions on this whole Windows / Ubuntu thing.

    Now, as I see it, I….being a Linux user for quite some time now, have found just about everything I’ve ever needed in the repos of the distros I use, therefore I saw never a need to return to Windows to use something else. This is not to say that there aren’t those who might need something in the world of Windows that is not available in the FOSS Universe, and sometimes? its not that it isn’t “offered”, its that some people are so stuck in their ways they “refuse” to seek out alternatives. but that’s another story for another time. As I was saying, in regards to this “blending” of Linux with Windows, had this been the year 1994…..1997…….even 1999?….this might have been great and awesome news, but it seems to me that ever since being snubbed by the Microsoft elite, and having to CREATE their own apps….packages….programs…and interfaces, that Microsoft has become irrelevant to the growth and propagation of Linux to the masses. Now?….all of a sudden “Microsoft Loves Linux?..hhmmmmm. I don’t buy it, I think instead that Microsoft has FINALLY realized that Linux-users are not going ANYWHERE, that a lot MORE people are turning to open source software because of its ease-of-use, it’s ability to be integrated anywhere (from smartphones to ATM’s!) and its non-existent financial obligation. So now they want to “infuse” themselves with SOME form of Linux so that they can “claim” they’re a loving supporter of all things open source, is this an honest truth or a marketing ploy designed to get more people who are looking at open source to jump on board the gravy-train? I for one already use the Ubuntu shell on my UBUNTU LINUX DESKTOP, so there’s really NO LOGICAL REASON I should be looking to “play” with Ubuntu on Windows….sometimes people are so concerned with whether or not they COULD do something, that they never consider whether they SHOULD! (yes…a stolen line from Jurassic Park!) f we really NEEDED Ubuntu’s shell in Windows….surely we would have found a way by now….so to all the Linux-ers out there? don’t be lulled into a false sense of Kumbaya-Love-Peace-And-Hairgrease, keep a sharp eye out for anything that starts to look “weird” in your Ubuntu releases….and don’t’ fail for that “we’re just trying something out” either! If it looks odd, either REMOVE it or “dump the distro”! Because if you let it remain and foster?…they’ll assume it’s something everyone wants!….LoL! Hahaha! (Yes. I know I sound like one of those who wear a Tin Foil Hat in their basement which is lined with wax and cellophane, but things always start “small” and grow [like mushrooms!] in the dark and un-noticed, until?…it’s noticeable!) Freedom Forever!!