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Posts published in “Software”

Firefox: To Configure Or Not To Configure

An interesting item came down the pike yesterday by way of Katherine Noyes on PCWorld. It seems that Alex Limi, a project design strategist at Mozilla, has blogged some concerns he has over Firefox being too configurable. It appears he’s become aware that it “…ships with many options that will render the browser unusable to most people, right in the main settings.”

This is absolutely true, but does it really matter?

I remember, many years back, I was clicking away inside Firefox when I managed to make the Menu Bar disappear. This was quite problematic because with the Menu Bar missing there was no place to click to reinstate it. I frantically searched around online, seemingly forever, until I finally found the fix. I’d like to think that I learned something from the experience, other than don’t click away the Menu Bar, but I don’t think I did for I have no memory of what I did to restore the missing item, so if I were to do it again I’d find myself back in the same boat.

Java Remains Unsafe–Not Likely To Be Fixed Soon

Guess what? We’re hearing reports this morning that the black hats are continuing to take advantage of security vulnerabilities in Java. Of course they are. That’s what black hats do. We’re also hearing from security experts that browser side Java isn’t likely to be made secure in the near future.

Oracle’s management of Java since obtaining it from Sun has been nothing short of a joke. It’s about time for them to decide if they want to keep Java or not. If they don’t want it, they need to spin it off or let it die. If they think it’s a valuable part of their software portfolio, they should treat it as such and work overtime to make it safe.

Christine Hall

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

FOSS’s Response to Office Rumor


Depending on who you talk to, Microsoft may or may not port their Office productivity suite to Linux. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols at ZDNet seems to be the biggest naysayer at the moment. You can count me in his camp. He’s right; at present we don’t represent a big enough potential market for the Redmond folks to entertain any thoughts of putting high dollar coders to work doing the porting work. I’m sure the Microsoft bean counters would estimate it would take decades for them to earn their investment back. For that reason alone, it ain’t going to happen.

But the big story here is that this isn’t the big story here.

The big story is in how we, the FOSS community, have reacted to this rumor in a way that shows how much we’ve grown and matured in the last four or five years. We’ve reacted to this rumor like responsible grown-ups and I, for one, feel like a proud parent.

Christine Hall

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

Microsoft Cranks Up FUD Machine


If I were Yogi Berra, I might say something like, “When times get desperate, the desperate get desperater.”

We’re hearing reports that Microsoft is having trouble pushing copies of the whiz-bang don’t-call-it-metro Windows 8 even at reduced fire sale prices, with one tech writer suggesting a Vista-esque rollback to Windows 7. The new Microsoft Surface Pro tablet that was supposed to make Microsoft the new Apple and Steve Ballmer the new Steve Jobs has brought less than enthusiastic reviews. What’s a down on it’s luck technology company to do?

Christine Hall

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

Will Oracle Wake Up & Smell the Java?

Does Oracle not know their own code?

I’m talking about Java. You know, the write-once-run-anywhere platform that seems to be severely broken from a security viewpoint, rendering it more than useless when used inside a browser.

Oracle, the company that’s owned Java since purchasing Sun Microsystems in 2010, seems to be clueless. Back in October the company pushed out a patch to fix some security holes that were already being exploited. There were complaints at the time that they were being secretive, saying little to nothing publicly about the problem, acting as if they were sweeping dust under a rug. Indeed, two months earlier, in August, the founder and CEO of the Polish security firm Security Explorations, Adam Gowdiak, told PCWorld that Oracle had known about the security problem for months:

Christine Hall

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

Oracle’s Quick Java Patch–Too Little Too Late?

On Sunday, Oracle pushed an “unscheduled” patch to fix a security hole in Java that had prompted the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to take the unprecedented step of advising all Internet users to disable browser-side Java. The hole was already being exploited in the wild when white hats brought it to the public’s attention last week, mainly being used to install “ransomware.”

Despite Oracle’s assurances that it’s safe for surfers to go back in the water, security experts remain uncertain about the safety of Java. On Information Week, writer Mathew J. Schwartz quotes at least one security expert who gives the security patch a thumbs up:

Christine Hall

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

When Free Software Isn’t Free

Wowie-zowie! How truly great is Windows, which offers up so much fun stuff we never get to see running Linux.

Yesterday while searching through tech sites looking for articles to use on our Facebook feed, I ran across a review of a free utility application for Windows. The program, Toolbar Cleaner, basically aids the user in removing unnecessary programs that might be slowing a Windows machine down, such as toolbars and browser plugins and extensions. Need I mention that most toolbars were probably installed by other free programs for Windows?

Christine Hall

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

Some Prominent Open Source Forks

Penguinistas used to worry about the dreaded fork, especially of Linux. “What if Linux forks and becomes like Unix?” was a question often being posed in the open source media. Linus Torvalds would do his best to put those fears to rest, explaining that under the GPL forks are usually to be welcomed.

He was of the opinion that if a fork improves a product and is liked by the users, those changes will almost certainly be rolled back into the originating application. If not, and the fork is indeed a marked improvement on the original, then the fork becomes the standard bearer at the expense of the original application.

Christine Hall

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

Create a Bootable Live USB Thumb Drive or Rescue Drive Using UNetbootin

A few weeks ago when two ISO images I burned to CDs failed to produce a working live CD intended for a laptop, someone on a distro forum figured the problem was with the CDs. This was a good guess, as the MD5 checksum on the download had matched the source. He suggested I make a bootable USB drive using UNetbootin.

Unetbootin screen shot
Unetbootin screen shot
I’d never heard of UNetbootin before, but I immediately found it at Sourceforge and downloaded it to the Windows desktop I was using. After studying the simple GUI for a moment, I inserted a thumb drive into a USB port. A few clicks of the mouse later, UNetbootin was extracting and copying files to the thumb drive. A couple of minutes later, I removed the drive from the Windows box, made sure the laptop was set up to boot from USB, crossed my fingers and booted. Less than a minute later I was looking at the desktop for the distro I was testing. It was that simple.

Christine Hall

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

UEFI Plans & Workarounds, Skype Invokes DMCA, Microsoft’s Samba Code

Friday FOSS Week in Review

Here we go, Friday FOSS Week in Review, Special Tuesday Edition. I’ve got to find a way to schedule my time better so I can stay on deadline. This coming Friday’s going to be difficult, as I have a dentist appointment and FWIR can’t really be written in advance, so expect it to be published on Saturday – but I’m still hoping for Friday. In the meantime, I’m working on adjusting my schedule so this column will be published in a more timely fashion in the future. Like on Fridays, when its supposed to be.

That’s the bad news. The good news, at least for us news hounds, is that last week there were quite a few items of interest for the FOSS community. At least I found them to be items of interest. I’ll let you decide for yourself.

UEFI Secure Boot Gets Complicated

There were a ton of articles written about UEFI and Secure Boot last week, and the more I read about possible workarounds to allow the average Linux distro to boot on Windows 8 certified machines, the more confused I get. This bothers me, because if I’m confused what does that mean about the person who’s never dealt with anything other than Windows, DOS or one of the Apple OSes, who might be getting ready to make that first leap into the Linux world?

Christine Hall

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

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