Posts tagged: linux

GNOME Boston Summit

I am at the GNOME Boston Summit this morning. I am here as an observer; most of those in attendance are active contributors to the GNOME free desktop. Thanks to my friend Brian Cameron for letting me tag along.

GNOME Boston Summit 2010 (MIT)

The annual summit (North America) is held in Boston due to Red Hat being nearby. GNOME is spearheaded by Red Hat, although contributors hail from many companies (Brian works for Oracle) and countries around the world. The annual European GNOME conference, GAUDEC, is actually a much larger gathering.

With version 3.0 of GNOME looming in the spring, discussion is lively and there is talk of dogfooding ahead of the release. Of course, when the software you are developing is the desktop environment itself, running on a development branch (alpha? beta?) can have an immediate impact on your productivity. Is there any software in the world which is not a major PITA to get fully tested, for one reason or another? I don’t think there is. :)

A major topic, and prominent addition coming with GNOME 3.0, is GNOME Shell (short screencast demo here). GNOME Shell is one of the efforts taking free desktops into the next decade (do you like my marketing-speak?). Commercial operating systems have begun using GPU-assisted animations to make their desktops smoother and more intuitive, and the open source world is hot on their heels. Interestingly, Canonical (the company that distributes Ubuntu Linux) recently announced it would use a different technology from GNOME Shell for its next desktop release, a decision which has impact because of the very large Ubuntu user base. GNOME Shell is but one component of the greater GNOME ecosystem, from which Ubuntu is far from divorcing itself, but nonetheless this fracture point will certainly have some affect on the evolution of the free desktop.

There is much more I could write on what I’ve learned so far, perhaps about some of the interesting personalities and developer camps within this community, but I’ll sign off for now and enjoy the summit. After all, the point of these events is to meet folks “in the flesh”, and rid ourselves momentarily of the frictions of remote communication.

Accessibility As A Value

Bad news today for the disabled: Oracle has dropped Sun’s commitment to an accessible GNOME desktop. This is the first concrete piece of evil since Oracle’s acquisition of Sun was made official (other potential evils have received ample speculation, even here).

A couple of you may recall a presentation at UNH back in 2008 on this exact subject (synopsis of presentation) by one of Sun’s GNOME developers. That was clearly some good work those people were up to.

One of the criticisms of Sun, as a for-profit company, was that it had become more focused on values than the bottom line. Maybe so. Perhaps this is why they became Oracle’s dinner.

But as an Oracle customer, UNH should be concerned that the company’s actions are out of step with our core values of diversity and inclusion. We *know* that making allowances for each and every member of our community consumes extra resources.

We should tell Oracle that we see that as a challenge, not a waste.

OpenSolaris – The Better OS

So you are Linux Demigod? Have you seen OpenSolaris. What other OS can you plop on a lowly PC and scale it to more than 128 processors running multiple cores. It can run Linux code, virtualize itself or other OS’s, removes the painful init.d and it’s start/stop scripts, has a kernel tracing system called Dtrace that plops exception probes right in a running kernel, has a far superior kernel thread mechanism than anything out there, and it enjoys the benefits of ZFS: Zettabyte File System — a file system that can handle double bit parity RAID 10 or V, create backup snapshots, implement pools of cheap storage into aggregates of simple virtulized storage (why even go HW Raid?). And the finale: It is openSource!

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