Today, the new Ubuntu Brainstorm site was released into the wild. The site has been inspired by Dell’s IdeaStorm site, which is what introduced the idea of preinstalling Ubuntu onto Dell computers.
I am excited about this, because the most popular ideas posted will get discussed at the Ubuntu Developer Summit. This way, instead of having feature suggestions uploaded into Launchpad for the developers’ reviews, ideas that are popular with the users will get special attention. The Ubuntu Brainstorm site provides a look into what is most important to users. The extra focus given to the actual needs of the users will help make Ubuntu better than ever. Not to mention, not any of the other available operating systems, both Linux and others, have this easy feature request system.
Each of the “ideas” are uploaded and posted to the Ubuntu Brainstorm. Then, users can vote, either voting for or against the idea, and giving it a score. That score determines where the post shows up on the Brainstorm site, with the ideas with the highest score placed at the top of the list. Users must register before they can upload ideas or vote, and they can only vote once on an idea.
As a sign of Ubuntu Brainstorm’s popularity, the idea with the most votes is the “Professional-looking Bootloader.” The idea has recieved over 600 votes as of 9pm EST.
See this article over at the AJC. Microsoft, being in their more “open” self, claimed that since they opened up some system documentation and developer API’s, they are free of the EU’s claims of overpriced patents and information… Obviously, they were wrong!
1.3 billion dollars is a lot of money; approximately a month’s worth of Microsoft’s yearly profit.
Since I have been using VirtualBox for virtualization on Ubuntu, I decided to look for premade images, built for VirtualBox. Every major virtualization platform has an image index, such as VMware’s Virtual Appliance repositories, or QEMU’s FreeOsZoo. I found that VirtualBox has one of it’s own, too.
It’s called VDI Index | veeDee-Eyes; V(vee)D(Dee)I(eyes)… get it? Took me a day to figure that one out. You can visit the site here.
Currently, there are 22 disk images available, up 2 from just two days ago, so this site is growing rather quickly. Since Linux is free, the images are available for, well, free. If you run VirtualBox, I definitely recommend you check out the VDI Index.
Over the past couple of days, Microsoft seems to be showing itself to be a “new” Microsoft, one that is friendlier towards competitors. Personally, I find that hard to believe.
The first thing Microsoft did was start the “DreamSpark” program, where you can get (if you are in college) a free copy of a Microsoft programming application, with several available.
The second thing Microsoft did is open some of its APIs to the public. Is there something behind this?
From my point of view, Microsoft is making an effort to keep development happening on Windows. There would be something seriously wrong if they did not try. As younger programmers try different systems, there is the possibility that they will choose to program on a competitor to Windows. As Microsoft has pointed out in the past, developers are some of the most valuable assets, as applications make the system. They are not after just regular development, but Open Source development as well. First, Microsoft offers their best programming applications for free for future programmers in college. They are giving them the free program as an incentive to program for Microsoft Windows. Next, they open up many of the API’s. This echoes the statement made by a certain Microsoft CEO a while back that he wants all of Open Source development to happen on Windows.
Put two and two together, and you get new programmers writing code, both open and closed, on Microsoft Windows. Simply put, every developer they can get to program using Open Source lessens the chance of that developer to develop on competing systems. I imagine it will take the “new” Microsoft a while to dig itself out of the PR hole they dug themselves into.
I have added a link to the All About Ubuntu site! You can find it under the “My Links” sidebar.
I ran across the site this morning, and it is currently in beta. Here’s an excerpt from the site’s “Our Mission” tab:
“Originally, we launched All About Ubuntu to help change the world — one desktop at a time. But then we realized Ubuntu was gaining considerable momentum on the server.
Thousands — perhaps millions — of PC novices, power users and even server administrators are seeking a reliable alternative to Windows and Windows Server. Many of the people around you (friends, neighbors, business owners, business partners, customers) would eagerly try Ubuntu — if they knew it existed. This blog offers a bridge between frustrated Windows users and Ubuntu experts.”
Now THAT is cool!
That’s the new name that has been chosen for the 8.10 release, due in October this year.
From the announcement, one of the focus points of the release will be internet connectivity.
For my second review, I have chosen to review Sabayon Linux, currently at version 3.4. Sabayon is based on Gentoo, and is based in Italy. I have never used Sabayon or Gentoo in the past, so this was going to be a new experience for me. Historically, Gentoo is a more advanced system, better for more advanced Linux users, which left me with the question – will Sabayon be any easier?
Since Sabayon MiniEd is a LiveCD (there is also a full DVD available), I simply booted the system, and began the installation though clicking an icon on the desktop, which happened to be running KDE. The installation was quick, easy, and trouble-free. See the screenshot below:
Something that I had found interesting about the installer was that it allowed me to install different desktop environments. The three provided choices were 1) KDE and 2) Fluxbox and 3) a base minimal system, with no GUI. Note that in the screenshot, Fluxbox is noted as “geeky,” a good safeguard against new users accidentally installing the much more difficult window manager, Fluxbox. As a clarification, Fluxbox is a window manager, while KDE is a desktop environment. A desktop environment (e.g. Gnome, KDE) is a full-software system, with extra features that support a window manager, typically packaged with the desktop environment. A window-manager manages the everything to do with the program windows and the desktop, and relies on a desktop environment to provide advanced features. I decided to install KDE.
After configuring my installation, the LiveCD began to copy files to the hard drive. (see screenshot below)
After the installation was complete, the system rebooted and I was greeted by the KDE login screen.
There is no denying it: Sabayon looks good. It uses a red theme by default, and uses two panels, something unique to most KDE-based systems, but more on that later. A link that I found helpful that was placed on the desktop was a “Get Live Help” button, which linked to the Sabayon IRC channel. Along the top panel, there are numerous buttons as well as the time, and the bottom panel is basically the default KDE panel, with the K menu, as well as links to places in the system. Here’s a screenshot of the desktop:
Ease of Use
Sabayon’s LiveCD comes with a good number of applications preinstalled. Working with Sabayon was relatively easy, and many of the applications that came preinstalled were aimed at home users. Some, however, were meant for system administrators, rather than the average user.
The ease of use took a hit, as the package manager showed itself to be slow. In Portato (a front-end for Portage package manger), I got a strange message, stating if I updated my package list more than once a day, I would be added to a “temporary ban” list. That’s a heart-warming message for a user!
To top it all off, the package manager did not include a help manual, leaving me to try and figure out how to use the application. Here’s a screenshot of Portato:
Sabayon looks very good as far as the artwork is concerned. Sabayon uses a red-based theme throughout the system, and all of the applications, including Firefox blend well with the system. This distribution prides itself on the artwork, and it should — the graphics are well done, and there has obviously been a considerable amount of work done. The only complaint I would have is that the theme is a little dark. Since a picture says a thousand words, see the screenshot several paragraphs up for the default desktop.
As I mentioned earlier, I had some problems working with the package manager. I eventually had to work through the terminal, although it was clear that there are a good number of packages available. According to Wikipedia
, Sabayon has around 12,000 packages, which is a little more than average as distributions go. Installation of packages was certainly faster than working with the package manager, and they installed fine.
The applications that came preinstalled in the Mini Edition include Firefox and Thunderbird, as well as many KDE applications. One of the software choices that stood out was the use of KOffice, instead of the typical OpenOffice installation. KWord, KSpread, and KPresenter of the KOffice suite were installed. There were also some QT (KDE is based on QT code) development applications installed.
Conclusion and Final Thoughts
Using Sabayon has been an interesting experience. On one hand, the system showed that a Gentoo-based system can be rather easy to use. On the other hand, the system has some rough or difficult edges. As you have read above, the main problem that I had was with using the packaging application. Here’s my rating for Sabayon 3.4 MiniEd.
Installation: 9/10 – Installation was extremely easy. I hope to see this pattern in Linux distributions that I review in the future. Those distributions who make installation easier help bring Linux further into the mainstream.
Ease of Use: 6/10 – As far as KDE is concerned, it was easy as usual, but the package manager was difficult to impossible to use, with no provided help file or manual. The program, according to the sourceforge site, also seems to be in the middle of development.
Graphical Appeal: 8/10 – The red theme looks good, although in my opinion, it’s a little dark.
Application Availability: 9/10 – The applications I was looking for were there, but to install them I had to use the command line. Not much fun, but about like using apt-get, which is another command-line package manager.
Overall Rating: 8/10 – Personally, I would recommend Sabayon for power users, since there was a good number of tools and controls, all tailored to help make the system your own. Sabayon is a very interesting distribution, and is definately worth a look, especially if you want to try out a Gentoo-based system, without the difficulty of installing Gentoo.
8/10 is my final rating for Sabayon, and it is one that the Sabayon has earned. The system, although not free of quirks, is still a good distribution. You can visit the Sabayon hompage to download either a LiveCD or a full DVD system. Also, there is a new version in the works, which which is already loaded with great new features and applications.