Review: Linux Mint 9 GNOME

Recently, Linux Mint 6 "Felicia" became obsolete. Like any standard Ubuntu release, Linux Mint is supported for 1.5 years after initial release. My installation of Linux Mint 7 "Gloria" will face the same fate in about 5 months. Given that I will leave home for college before that, I wanted to upgrade to a newer version. Due to all of the hubbub over Ubuntu 9.10 "Karmic Koala"'s instability upon release, I skipped Linux Mint 8 "Helena" (though the reviews said it fixed all of Ubuntu 9.10's flaws and did more). As the newest version of Linux Mint (version 9 LTS "Isadora") is a long-term support (3 years after initial release) version based off of Ubuntu 10.04 LTS "Lucid Lynx", I decided to install that. Also, Ubuntu 10.04 had been getting extremely positive reviews, so I figured that Linux Mint 9 would do even better in the Linux Mint tradition [of surpassing corresponding Ubuntu releases in quality and polish]. Follow the jump to read the rest of my review.


A Few More Days

I am very sorry that I haven't been able to write recently. I was out of town all of last week, but now I am back. I hope to write more in the coming days; then again, I may not be able to do so as I will be even busier over the next few weeks.
I'm really excited that this is the last week of school and that I am graduating next week. Go seniors!


Adobe vs. Apple in the Fight for Flash

Recently in the computing world, there has been a back-and-forth argument between Steve Jobs and the developers at Adobe. The dispute, of course, comes as a result of Apple's decision not to support Flash for the iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad.
A lot of other people have made remarks about the argument, so what I have to add is very little.
Steve Jobs constantly talks about the need for the web to be open. He mentions that Apple does make proprietary products, but continues with the idea that Flash is too proprietary for the web and that a more open standard is necessary.
The Adobe developers respond by saying that further innovation can't happen without openness. That is very true. They continue by saying that they have made most of the Flash platform open-source and open to modification by anyone. That is commendable.
However, neither side has the moral high ground when it comes to openness. It is still quite difficult to get the proprietary features of Flash to work on truly open systems like Linux and BSD (though that has basically been resolved), and Adobe isn't exactly willing to help out in this regard.
That said, Steve, your company has the most closed computing culture I have seen (in recent years). More so than Microsoft, and that is saying something.
Apple is paranoid about 3rd-party developers of apps for the iPod Touch and iPhone, so it is restricting developers on which programming languages they can use (despite the iPod Touch and iPhone being clearly capable of running apps written in other programming languages).
Apple has on more than one occasion hinted at essentially disallowing any unapproved 3rd-party apps from being installed on the iPad.
All of the hardware for Apple's computers are made by Apple/its manufacturing subsidiaries.
One can't even install Mac OS on a non-Apple-made computer.
How can either company seriously make a claim to hold the moral high ground regarding openness?
That doesn't mean that there is no winner here at all. A common fallacy in these arguments is to regard the 2 sides as the only possibilities.
There are alternatives to Flash, like H.264 (which is proprietary) and Ogg (which is open-source).
So people, start using Ogg (and other open-source multimedia standards) and push for more stability and better features; then only can we have a truly open web.


A Disappointing Review of Kubuntu 10.04

Before you continue reading, a word of warning: I am sick, so I am not quite in the clearest state of mind. All I am asking is for you to forgive me if my level of writing is not quite up to snuff (which is already at a pretty low level anyway).
I am a fan of DistroWatch and try to look for reviews of popular Linux and BSD (and, occasionally, Solaris) distributions. As Ubuntu 10.04 and its derivative distributions came out last week, I wanted to find out if any new reviews had been posted to DistroWatch, as Ubuntu 10.04 was being heralded as a landmark release (and of course, as always (but, sadly, never truly so), the distribution to make 2010 "the year of Linux on the desktop"). I had already seen a few reviews of Ubuntu 10.04 [GNOME] but not yet one of Kubuntu 10.04 [KDE]. I've read a few reviews on the site called Desktop Linux Reviews by Jim Lynch; they are all very well-written, giving nice screenshots, a comprehensive overview of features, a thorough review of how well it works, and a nice summary recommending it to certain audiences over others (and giving it a rating out of 5).
This review, however, has brought the standard down to a low never seen before. Follow the jump to find out why.


The Failures of Facebook

I was reading a few articles about Facebook's latest privacy scandal recently.
Apparently, the Facebook developers were trying to "improve" the privacy features - on Facebook, one can preview how someone else would see one's own profile. However, in doing so, they managed to allow (by accident, of course) anyone to see what any of their friends are doing on Facebook at that moment (including the ability to essentially spy on other people's chats).
This is not the first time Facebook has messed up privacy-wise (Facebook is constantly revising privacy options in the hopes of making them better, while in reality, every change creates a progressively larger backlash). However, this one really takes the cake in terms of how big a goof-up it was.
Seriously, Facebook?
Can they get any change to the interface right?
I am really starting to doubt the Facebook developers' abilities right now (though that's not to say that I didn't before either).

Some Sanity from the Mainstream Media on Movie Piracy

This comes from a recent article (Mike Ryan, Yahoo! Movies) about how piracy is affecting box office sales of Iron Man 2.
For once, the author (who is probably not a copyright law/tech law junkie; I am not exasperated with this particular author but with mainstream reporters on the subject in general) recognizes that the impact of piracy on box office sales is tiny. The only reason why it is making news is because Paramount has released the film in other countries before releasing it in the US and Canada, so people here will have an even bigger reason to watch a foreign pirated version (as, unlike other movies, this movie would not have been seen by them). The author also recognizes that with the movie Avatar, people had a reason to go into the theaters as the pirated copies were of the 2D version (as current home recording equipment isn't sophisticated enough to allow copying 3D movies without losing the 3-dimensionality of the film) while the theaters were showing the film in 3D. Even the producers of Iron Man 2 admit that they could have made more money at the box office by making the movie 3D (with respect to people not pirating 3D films), and they don't rail on end about how piracy is killing box office sales (because they probably know that it isn't).
At last, I see some sanity in mainstream observers of the movie industry.


FOLLOW-UP: Arguments Symptomatic of Occasional Linux Community Dysfunction

In my original article on this, I discussed how Canonical's overbearing nature on distributions derived from Ubuntu is causing those developers to move from an Ubuntu base to something else (usually a Debian base).
A lot of posts on the actual original article on Mark Shuttleworth's comments remarked that it is only a matter of time before Linux Mint (Ubuntu's most popular derivative distribution) would move away from Ubuntu and towards Debian.
Well, folks, I am here to report that these speculations are coming to fruition (at least partly so).
Linux Mint is releasing an LXDE edition for PowerPC-based computers (i.e. old Apple iMac computers) based on Debian 5.0 "Lenny". Hence, this is not given a typical Linux Mint version number as it is not based off of Ubuntu (like the standard Linux Mint releases).
I'm going to guess that as Debian 5.0 is a slightly older operating system (it's about 2 years old), it would provide a more stable and less sluggish base for older computers. However, I would also say that this is a sign of things to come. The Linux Mint developers are also probably developing friction with Canonical, so I would say that eventually the entire Linux Mint project will move over to Debian. I also remember reading somewhere (I think it was DistroWatch) that for the next release, the live CD would be based off of Debian Live (instead of being like an Ubuntu live CD).
In any case, I'm excited to see what Linux Mint has to offer.


Reflection: Linux Mint GNOME

I have been using Linux Mint for exactly one year (as of this day). I thought it would be good to reflect on this year of use.
I was preparing for AP exams for the days before. It was a Friday evening, and I was getting a little tired of studying, and the more I thought about it, the more sick I was of Windows. I had been meaning to install Ubuntu for a while but had never gotten the time (or willpower, for that matter) until that day. Also, a few weeks before, one of my friends mentioned Linux Mint as a much cooler alternative to (and based off of) Ubuntu, so I thought of installing Linux Mint instead. That day, I was finally disgusted enough with Windows to dive in and try Linux Mint (at that time version 6 "Felicia" GNOME); also, it was a nice diversion from all of that studying.
Follow the jump to read more about how that has turned out.