Archive for September, 2010

A Plug for Internet Rights

Today, I received the following email from the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

“The U.S. government has made two proposals this week that threaten online speech and privacy in radical new ways. Either one, if passed by Congress, will fundamentally rewrite the rules of the Internet. EFF is fighting hard for your rights and needs your help.

“These proposals are the most frightening we’ve seen in a long time. The first is a bill called the “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act,” which would give the Justice Department new powers to censor websites accused of aiding “piracy.” The second is an Obama Administration proposal that would end online privacy as we know it by requiring all Internet communication service providers — from Facebook to Skype to your webmail provider — to rebuild their systems to give the government backdoor access to all of your private Internet communications.

“EFF is battling these threats to Internet users’ privacy and freedom of speech, and we need your support. More than half of EFF’s funding comes from individuals like you, and none of our funding comes from government grants. That means that when EFF goes toe-to-toe against government attempts to snatch away your rights, we pull no punches in defending the civil liberties of all technology users and innovators.

“Become an EFF member today, and join the ongoing fight for privacy, free expression, and civil liberties on the Internet, as we face down these threats and secure a better future for us all.”

I believe strongly in the work of the EFF. They are trying to make sure that dissidents in all countries – even America – have the right to communicate without Big Brother keeping a jaundiced watch. They are also trying to make sure that websites cannot be closed down on a government’s whim. Remember – if the American government does some of these things, it might seem innocent – but what if the Russian, Chinese or Iranian governments take advantage of these new abilities?

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Xmarks Service Ends in January 2011

Today, the staff of Xmarks had the sad duty of sending out letters to all of their customers explaining that they will be shutting down their free browser synchronization services on January 10, 2011. Here is the letter I got:

They are having to shut down because they could not find a working business model. The letter referred people to their blog for further information.

I am sorry to see Xmarks go. Unlike the competitors recommended by Xmarks as replacements, Xmarks would sync bookmarks across browsers. I will be using Firefox Sync, but I will miss being able to sync with Chrome.

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Ubuntu 9.04 Reaches End-of-Life on October 23, 2010

As noted by Ubuntu Fridge, Ubuntu released the final version of Jaunty Jackalope (Ubuntu 9.04) almost 18 months ago, on April 23, 2009. As this was not an LTS (long term support) release, Ubuntu committed to ongoing security and critical fixes for 18 months. The support period is now ending.
In order to upgrade from Ubuntu 9.04, it is necessary to first upgrade via Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic). Upgrades to version 10.04 LTS (Lucid) and beyond are only supported in multiple steps via an upgrade to Ubuntu 9.10, then to Ubuntu 10.04. Both Ubuntu 9.10 and Ubuntu 10.04 LTS continue to be actively supported.

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New Default Wallpaper for Maverick

After a certain amount of complaining by the Ubuntu community, the original default wallpaper for Maverick was changed yesterday (9/14/10). Here is the new version:

The new wallpaper looks luminous, and still definitely purple. The old version with its big red dots (clown noses, anyone?) looked to me like a four year old designed it. Well, maybe I shouldn’t say that because it is an insult to four year olds. 😉

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Bisigi Themes for Maverick – Test PPA

The beautiful set of Bisigi themes now has a testing PPA from which you can install the themes you want, or the entire collection. All of the themes are beautiful. For example, here is the Ellana theme with wallpaper:

To install the testing PPA, you will need the following terminal command:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:bisigi/dev && sudo apt-get update

Then, if you wish to install all 14 of the themes at once, all you need to do is type:

sudo apt-get install bisigi-themes

Tech Drive-in has included a list of individual themes and how to install them. There are so many beautiful themes, though, that I prefer to install them all.

One warning if you use the default Ubuntu placement of the close and other buttons (on the left side) – in the Bisigi themes, the buttons are put on the right side. This is the way they used to be in Ubuntu, so it doesn’t take too much getting used to.

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Maverick Beta Has Been Released

Ubuntu Maverick (10.10) Beta has been released. Please note that this is still a beta release – not to be installed on production machines.

To upgrade from Ubuntu 10.04 LTS on a desktop system, press Alt+F2 and type in “update-manager -d” (without the quotes). The Update Manager will then come up and tell you that New distribution release ‘10.10’ is available. Then, you just need to click on Upgrade.

As the announcement says, get it while it’s hot. ISOs and torrents are available at: (Ubuntu Desktop, Server, and Netbook) (Ubuntu Server for UEC and EC2) (Kubuntu) (Xubuntu) (Edubuntu DVD) (Ubuntu Studio) (Ubuntu ARM) (Mythbuntu) (Kubuntu Mobile Preview) (Kubuntu Mobile Preview ARM)

A few software changes are to be noted. Shotwell has replaced F-Spot as the default photo manager. Gwibber has been updated to support recent changes in Twitter’s authentication system. The Ubuntu Software Center now includes “Featured” and “What’s New” views for showcasing applications – and a “For Purchase” software category has been added.

I heartily recommend switching to Maverick at this point, if you are not planning to continue with Lucid (the LTS). By doing this, you will avoid the headache of having to try to switch on Release Day – when everybody else is switching, and it has in years past taken days to connect to the server.

What ever your choice – have fun!

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Ubuntu Tweak 0.5.6 Has Been Released

Ubuntu Tweak 0.5.6 has just been released, with Desktop Recovery.  Here is the formal announcement by Tualatrix.

Desktop Recovery has three basic actions:

Backup: backup the current settings, keeping as many backups as you want;
Recover: recover the backup version;
Reset: even if you do not have a backup, you can reset to the default settings.

Desktop Recovery covers GNOME desktop settings; application settings which use GConf (Compiz, Nautilus…); and system components.

I recently covered the beta, so I don’t have a whole lot to add. I would love to know, however, how Tualatrix achieved his broken-desktop example. The broken panel is awesome!

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September 2010

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