Freshly Exhumed writes "Forked from Mandriva Linux back in 2010, Mageia Linux has hit a new release milestone. Trish at the Mageia blog announces: 'All grown up and ready to go dancing: Mageia 3's out! We still can't believe how much fun it is to make Mageia together, and we've been doing it for two and a half years. For people who can't wait, get it here; release notes are here. To upgrade from Mageia 2, see here.'" Adds reader hduff: "It offers cutting edge and stable versions of your favorite applications and desktop environments as well as a version of the STEAM gaming software."
Madwand writes "The NetBSD Project is pleased to announce NetBSD 6.1, the first feature update of the NetBSD 6 release branch. It represents a selected subset of fixes deemed important for security or stability reasons, as well as new features and enhancements. NetBSD is a free, fast, secure, and highly portable Unix-like Open Source operating system. It is available for a wide range of platforms, from large-scale servers and powerful desktop systems to handheld and embedded devices. Its clean design and advanced features make it excellent for use in both production and research environments, and the source code is freely available under a business-friendly license. NetBSD is developed and supported by a large and vibrant international community. Many applications are readily available through pkgsrc, the NetBSD Packages Collection."
New submitter Anand Radhakrishnan writes "The release candidate for the much-anticipated Linux Mint 15 'Olivia' is available for user testing. Its many new features include Cinnamon Control center, an improved login manager with HTML 5 support, a driver manager, and a lot of under-the-hood improvements. 'A new tool called MintSources, aka "Software Sources," was developed from scratch with derivative distributions in mind (primarily Linux Mint, but also LMDE, Netrunner and Snow Linux). It replaces software-properties-gtk and is perfectly adapted to managing software sources in Linux Mint. From the main screen you can easily enable or disable optional components and gain access to backports, unstable packages and source code.' This release with Cinnamon looks really tempting."
Several readers sent word that Microsoft has officially dubbed the upcoming revision to its flagship operating system "Windows 8.1," retiring the code-name "Windows Blue." They also said the update would be freely available to anybody with Windows 8. It will be available through the Windows Store. "Reller declined to provide an exact release date for Windows 8.1, but said that Microsoft is 'very sensitive to the timing of the holidays.' Ideally, Microsoft will be able to provide devices with Windows 8.1 pre-loaded in time for the holiday 2013 season, Reller said, but those who purchase a Windows 8 device later this year will be able to easily upgrade to 8.1."
hypnosec writes "Linus Torvalds has released the Linux 3.10-rc1 kernel marking the closure of the 3.10 merge window. The Linux 3.10-rc1 is the second biggest rc release in years and the closure of the merge windows means that the features expected out of the Linux 3.9 successor are chalked out. "So this is the biggest -rc1 in the last several years (perhaps ever) at least as far as counting commits go," Linus notes in the release announcement."
An anonymous reader writes "Ars takes a look at what Ubuntu Touch has to offer so far. From the article: 'It can't be stressed enough that even in this updated form, Ubuntu Touch is nowhere near usable as a mainstream mobile operating system. Canonical makes no claim that it is. For now, the software is about half development environment and half proof-of-concept tech demo. As such, we aren't going to be evaluating Ubuntu Touch using quite the same criteria we'd use for a shipping product—we're going to be focusing more on how the OS looks and works and less on how it performs. As we get closer to Ubuntu 14.04 and presumably Ubuntu Touch's retail availability, we'll certainly be revisiting it with a more critical eye.'"
MojoKid writes "Is the world really ready to shift from native apps to HTML5 Web apps? Probably not, at least not in North America yet, but developing nations may see it differently. That's the hope with Firefox OS, a web-based operating system that's (in theory) a lot more open. Of course, one needs only look at Microsoft's battle to get Windows Phone into a place of competition to realize that gaining market share is no easy task, which is why Mozilla will soon be handing out Firefox OS developer phones in order to bolster that. The company's goal is to get app builders to build for Firefox OS, so Mozilla is sending out free Preview handsets for folks to tinker with."
New submitter mha writes "In a response that truly seems to be from a core Microsoft developer, we are told about why Windows kernel development continues to fall further and further behind that of the Linux kernel. He says, 'The cause of the problem is social. There's almost none of the improvement for its own sake, for the sake of glory, that you see in the Linux world. ... There's no formal or informal program of systemic performance improvement. We started caring about security because pre-SP3 Windows XP was an existential threat to the business. Our low performance is not an existential threat to the business. See, component owners are generally openly hostile to outside patches: if you're a dev, accepting an outside patch makes your lead angry (due to the need to maintain this patch and to justify in in shiproom the unplanned design change), makes test angry (because test is on the hook for making sure the change doesn't break anything, and you just made work for them), and PM is angry (due to the schedule implications of code churn). There's just no incentive to accept changes from outside your own team. You can always find a reason to say "no," and you have very little incentive to say "yes."'"
New submitter Noitatsidem writes "Good news for Cyanogenmod users, according to their blog it looks like 10.1 is nearing its stable release. 'We haven't used the "Release Candidate" nomenclature since the ICS days, but we feel the 10.1 branch is quickly approaching the point where a "final" build is due. To prepare for that eventuality, RC1 builds for CyanogenMod 10.1.0 are now landing on our servers! This will be one of (if not the last) milestone releases before a 10.1.0 is pushed out. These builds will appear as they complete the build process and, as always, you can download the builds via get.cm!' Android Police speculates that this is due in part to the rumored release announcement of Android 4.3 given at Google I/O 2013 which is taking place in (now) less than one week. Looks like the Android community will have a lot to talk about in coming days!"
colinneagle writes with the latest Ubuntu Touch news. From the article: "The team behind Ubuntu Touch (aka 'Ubuntu for Phones') have committed to pushing forward to a ready-to-use version of the OS, one that the group will use to 'eat their own dog food,' by the end of May. What that means: Over the next few weeks, the team behind Ubuntu Touch is going to be attempting to implement enough functionality to make it possible to use Ubuntu on your phone (such as the Nexus 4) on a day-to-day basis. At which point their development team will be doing exactly that." The developers are aiming just to have basic functionality working by the end of the month: calls, sms, data over wifi and cellular, a working address book, and preservation of user data across OS flashes.
recoiledsnake writes "The first real world stats for Chromebooks show that they're struggling to have any traction in the marketplace. In its first week of monitoring worldwide usage of Google's Chrome OS, NetMarketShare reported that the percentage of web traffic from Chromebooks was roughly 2/100 of 1 percent, a figure too small to earn a place on its reports. The first Chromebooks went on sale in June 2011, nearly two years ago, with Acer reportedly selling fewer than 5000 units in the first six months and Samsung selling even fewer. In the past three years, Chromebook sales have been worse than even three months worth of WindowsRT sales. Perhaps users are heeding Stallman's warning on Chromebooks. We previously discussed reports of Chromebook topping Amazon sales, selling to 2000 schools and wondered whether QuickOffice on ChromeOS can topple Microsoft Office." I find ChromeOS good in some contexts (any place that a browser and a thin layer of Linux is all you need), but the limitations are frustrating — especially on hardware that can run a conventional Linux as well as Google's specialized one. We'll watch for developments in the Google hardware world at next week's I/O conference.
"CrunchBang Linux is a Debian based distro with the Openbox window manager on top of it. So it is Debian under the hood with Openbox on the surface," says distro supporter Larry Cafiero. A glance through the #! (CrunchBang) forums showed an exceptionally fast response rate to problems posted there, so even if you haven't heard of #! (it's not in the DistroWatch Top 10), it has a strong and dedicated user community -- which is one of the major keys to success for any open source project. In order to learn more about #! Linux (and to share what he learned), Timothy Lord pointed his camcorder at Larry during LinuxFest Northwest and made this video record of their conversation.
jones_supa writes "Microsoft has confirmed to be preparing to reverse course over elements of Windows 8. 'Key aspects' of how the software is used will be changed when Microsoft releases an updated version of the operating system this year, Tami Reller, head of marketing and finance for the Windows business, said in an interview with the Financial Times. Referring to difficulties many users have had with mastering the software, she added: 'The learning curve is definitely real.'" While this decision is generally being framed as a frantic backtrack for Microsoft, it comes as the company has recently passed 100 million Windows 8 licenses sold. Clearly they see this as more of a course adjustment than bailing water from a sinking ship. Microsoft also plans to preview the update called 'Windows Blue' in June.
Deathspawner writes "There's little that's more frustrating than being a legal customer and getting screwed over by the company you're supporting. If there's a perfect example of this, it's with Microsoft's OS and its millions of customers that have had to ring its tech support lines for activation help. Recently, a Techgage writer got bit by an issue with Windows 8 — caused by Microsoft itself — and wasn't even able to call to fix it. Microsoft has two problems to solve here: it needs online chat support (like most large companies in 2013) and it definitely needs an activation system that doesn't make things difficult for its legal customers on a too-regular basis."
theodp writes "Remember New Coke? Twenty-eight years ago, Coca-Cola replaced the secret formula of its flagship brand, only to announce the return of the "classic" formula just 79 days later. Had it launched in 2013, Coke's Jay Moye suspects a social media backlash would have prompted it to reverse itself even sooner. In a timely follow-up, ZDNet's Steven Vaughan-Nichols points out that Microsoft is facing its own New Coke moment with Windows 8. 'Does Ballmer have the guts to admit he made a mistake and give users what they clearly want?' Vaughan-Nichols asks. 'While it's too late for Windows 8, Blue might give us back our Start button and an Aero-like interface. We don't know.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Right on the heels of Debian's 7.0 ('Wheezy') release, the Aptosid team is proud to announce the immediate availability of the 2013-01 release. Aptosid is a rolling release built on top of Debian's most modern branch Sid, providing the most up-to-date kernel available with patches and stabilization not yet seen in mainline, along with many patched Debian packages, all while maintaining 100% compatibility with upstream Debian (unlike other distros based on Debian). If you think Debian Stable is too old to be useful, give Atposid a spin!"
theodp writes "E-mails and other communications between employees,' explains Google in a newly-published patent application for its Policy Violation Checker invention, 'can implicate potential violations of company policy or local, state or federal law that can go unchecked by attorneys or other legal personnel.' So how can you avoid those embarrassing Goldman Sachs and Enron e-mail gaffes? Use Google's 'methods and systems for identifying problematic phrases in an electronic document'! From the patent application: 'Documents may be used as evidence in court, administrative, or other proceedings. It is in a company's best interest to minimize or eliminate policy violations and/or situations that could give rise to legal liability. It is also often in a company's best interest to be able to Pack [?] these situations. Problematic phrases include, but are not limited to, phrases that present policy violations, have legal implications, or are otherwise troublesome to a company, business, or individual.' So, if you can't Do-No-Evil, at least you can Do-No-Discoverable-Evil!"
alancronin writes with this excerpt from a PC World article: "Users of Android, Chrome OS, Linux, and iOS devices may not realize it, but FreeType open source software is used to render fonts on more than a billion such devices. Not only that, but the FreeType project this week got a significant update from none other than Adobe and Google. Specifically, Google and Adobe on Wednesday released into beta the Adobe CFF engine, an advanced Compact Font Format (CFF) rasterizer that 'paves the way for FreeType-based platforms to provide users with richer and more beautiful reading experiences,' as Google put it in an online announcement on the Google Open Source Blog. The new rasterizer is now included in FreeType version 2.4.12. Though it's currently off by default, the technology is 'vastly superior' to the old CFF engine and will replace it in the next FreeType release, the project says." The article features examples of how the new engine improves font rendering; for more explanation of the CFF, see this blog post from Adobe.
First time accepted submitter carlypage3 writes "Benefits claimants in the UK are being forced to use Microsoft's now obsolete Windows XP and Internet Explorer 6 software. The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) states that its online forms are not compatible with Internet Explorer 7, 8, 9 and 10, Safari, Google Chrome or Firefox. As if that wasn't unnerving enough, the Gov.UK website says that users cannot submit claims using Mac OS X or Linux operating systems, either." (Note: as we noted not long ago, it's not just the DWP that's stuck using IE6.)
An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla on Thursday announced the release of Firefox OS Simulator 3.0, polishing all the features in the preview release as well as making a few more improvements. You can download version 3.0 now for Windows, Mac, and Linux from Mozilla Add-Ons. The following features included in the simulator are now functionally stable, according to Mozilla:
- Push to Device
- Rotation simulation
- Basic geolocation API simulation
- Manifest validation
- Stability fixes for installation and updates to apps
- Newer versions of the Firefox rendering engine and Gaia (the UI for Firefox OS)."