Archive for June, 2009

Betanews makes the case for lightweight operating systems:

The rise of the netbook and other form factors is driving a fairly substantial re-think in terms of how we use computers and what we expect out of them. We no longer shoot for all-encompassing capability, and instead want simpler devices that do the job quickly and efficiently. We don’t want to wait after every keypress or mouse activity, and we don’t want to be confused, either. Simple is the new goal, and an OS that strips out needless complexity, stays out of the way and lets users get their work done uninterrupted represents the new state of the art.

Scott F. Fulton largely follows the LXDE design objectives. What will people like him make switch? The answer is probably that we want operating systems as pervasive that we don’t even care about them anymore, so we also don’t care about switching. An “OS that strips out needless complexity, stays out of the way and lets users get their work done uninterrupted” is a call to leave the users alone. And the current mature desktop environments do exactly the opposite, they add features and complexity, also for development, strip out core functionality and replace it by immature technologies, force decisions upon you. I recently installed the new firefox 3.5 developer version in a virtual machine but basically I don’t even notice which browser I am using anymore and I cannot tell you the differences. I don’t have to tell and I don’t want to tell. Breathe…


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EU press release:

The SO sets out the preliminary view that, should the Commission conclude that Microsoft’s conduct was abusive, any remedy would need to restore a level-playing field and enable genuine consumer choice between Internet Explorer and third-party web browsers, in order to bring the infringement effectively to an end. A potential remedy to these concerns, which the Commission considered in the SO and which would not require Microsoft to provide Windows to end-users without a browser, would be to allow consumers to choose from different web browsers presented to them through a ‘ballot screen’ in Windows.

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Adobe demonstrates that cutting edge software technology is also useful for military uses. In times of stimulus spending and costly military missions certainly an important business option:

This week I wanted to talk about another fascinating use of Adobe AIR. Wade Arnold and his company T8DESIGN built an AIR interface for the US military that is used to drive a cutting edge combat robot call the R-Gator. You all know Wade as the developer of AMFPHP and now the Zend AMF framework. Well in his real job he is building things that are helping to save the lives of our troops. The R-Gator is essentially an unmanned vehicle that is driven remotely using an XBOX 360 controller of all things.

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The LXDE wizard Hong Jen Yee (“PCMan”) makes some bitter remarks concerning the Desktop standard process:

Why should we always be forced to follow all those things we don’t like or don’t even need? If we don’t follow them, we lost compatibility with many existing Gnome/GTK+ and KDE programs. In addition, they modify the specs frequently, and always break backward compatibility. So our precious time are wasted on re-implement everything in their new specs and try to fix all broken compatibility left by them. It’s enough!

And his recommendation:

So, every enthusiastic developers/users of lightweight desktop environments, please join their xdg mailinst list and join their discussions and let them listen to your voice.

For me that is not only an issue rooted in my genuine interest in LXDE but me and my colleagues discussed within the Digital Standards Organisation, which we established in The Hague, how to make standardisation work and I researched policy options in standardisation for quite a while. Of course you won’t find a magic bullet, and most problems concern the correct application of the openness concepts concerning disclosure and licensing. The typical predatory pratices are patent ambushes. Likewise the European Commission IDABC develops a multidimensional standard/specification evaluation model named CAMSS and some EU whitepapers outline the way forward in standardisation.

Another aspect which is often overlooked is technology infection. What I mean is that certain commercial interests abuse a standard to mandate specific services. This is the scenario here and concerns standards on a different level.

To members of the XDG list Hon Jeng Hee now proposes a voting process. If I understand his motivations correctly he wants to see the interests and requirements of lightweight desktop environments better considered or considered at all, and the voting process is a means to this end.

Liam R E Quin disagrees:

Voting inherently disenfranchises minorities. That is, the nature of a majority vote is such that the people who vote No get overruled; this is very different from achieving consensus.

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eyeDesigner is the graphical interface builder for eyeOS, the Cloud Computing Operating System.

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Amarok continues to experiment with the user interface for the Amarok2 release cycle. Software reconstructionism in search for the ultimate music player interface. Here is one element, in the description of the video:

An extension of the dig-down interface prototype that gets rid of the big, ugly vertical back button and adds a much more flexible breadcrumb navigation widget instead

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Project Natal

The futuristic controller is you, watch yourself:

Just a first step into augmented reality though.

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