The latest round in the Apple Vs Adobe scwabble has seen a press release published by Apple explaining their position. As they attempt to take a moral high ground, they come off sounding like total hypocrits!

Sure, its easy to take a pop at flash… its bloated, buggy (on linux) and will eat into your system performace like no ones business. But with all that considered, it is responsible for a large amount of the matirial we consume online, and its not going away anytime soon.

But apples opening argument on its press release attempts to slam adobe for its lack of openness. Below I have quoted this section of the PR, as for no excerpts to be taken out of context.

    First, there’s “Open”.

    Adobe’s Flash products are 100% proprietary. They are only available from Adobe, and Adobe has sole authority as to their future enhancement, pricing, etc. While Adobe’s Flash products are widely available, this does not mean they are open, since they are controlled entirely by Adobe and available only from Adobe. By almost any definition, Flash is a closed system.

    Apple has many proprietary products too. Though the operating system for the iPhone, iPod and iPad is proprietary, we strongly believe that all standards pertaining to the web should be open. Rather than use Flash, Apple has adopted HTML5, CSS and JavaScript – all open standards. Apple’s mobile devices all ship with high performance, low power implementations of these open standards. HTML5, the new web standard that has been adopted by Apple, Google and many others, lets web developers create advanced graphics, typography, animations and transitions without relying on third party browser plug-ins (like Flash). HTML5 is completely open and controlled by a standards committee, of which Apple is a member.

    Apple even creates open standards for the web. For example, Apple began with a small open source project and created WebKit, a complete open-source HTML5 rendering engine that is the heart of the Safari web browser used in all our products. WebKit has been widely adopted. Google uses it for Android’s browser, Palm uses it, Nokia uses it, and RIM (Blackberry) has announced they will use it too. Almost every smartphone web browser other than Microsoft’s uses WebKit. By making its WebKit technology open, Apple has set the standard for mobile web browsers.

For Apple to try and take the stand as the ‘good guy’ in an openness and free speech argument is so asburd and hypocrytical that only a fanboy would be sucked in by this garbage.

We all know that the iPhone and iPad are the two most locked down and controlled devices ever brought to market. EVER. Apple control exactly what the hardware is cabable of, through their propriatory OS. Apple control exacly what software is available for the platform, through the app store application process. Apple control exactly how developers make software through their propriatary SDK (mac only) and licence agreement.

By reading the above exerpt, you can see that Apple conveniently ignores all the points i mention, and focuses on web standards, thus conveying Apple as an advocate of openess and free creativity on the web. They believe that web standards should be open, but they don’t believe in openness when it has ramifications to their business model and profits (like in the app store).

Next, Apple gives its self a nice pat on the back for WebKit rendering engine. The wording of this shows Apple in a very positive light to the uniformed.

Apple did not create WebKit. They pillaged the opensource project KHTML, developped by KDE for their Konqueror browser. Apple made a fork of KHTML and named it ‘WebKit’, yet Apple withheld their code, preventing further colaboration with KDE on the project, and violating the initial terms of the licence. Apple eventually open-sourced their code in 2005, but from their behaviour, it is clear that they are not avocates of openness, and will do whatever it takes for their own gain.

So, that beats down every argument put forth by Apple against Adobe in regard to openness. Apple are hypocrits. Steve Jobs is the lead hypocrit. Apple fans are deluded fanboys who follow blindly and accept anything they are told. Apple are denouncing a company for following the same business model as Apple themselves. and that is pure hypocracy.

Please leave a comment if you have an opinion on this.

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Tinycore is a nimble 10mb linux distro that I reviewed a little while back. I have been using it on my EEE PC 900 for about 3 months. Over the course that course of time, I’ve learned a thing or two about TC’s extensions, and which are best suited to such a light weight, small distro

Three things I look for:

    1. Few dependencies – installing many apps, with many different dependencies will soon fatten up your system, try to use apps with few, or in some cases, no deps!

    2. Extension size – Pretty obvious, but any extention you install will add to the size of the route file system, and also occupy RAM (even if the app is not running). Therefore, sticking to smaller extensions makes good sense.

    3. Suitablity of ‘On Demand’ feature – When TC boots, it mounts every single extention you have in your ‘tce’ folder (type ‘fdisk -l’ in a console, and you’ll see what I mean. If you install an extension using ‘On Demand’ it will be downloaded from the repo, to your computer, but not mounted – it will only be mounted when you want to use it. Makes a lot of sense for exensions that you know you probably wont use very often (especially if they are large in size!).

So, considering the above I have made a list of worthy extensions. All available from the Appbrowser.

Essentials

OSS for sound, wirelesstools and wpasupplicant for WLAN, 915resolution for widescreen displays, zip/unzip, rar, curl, etc.

File manager – two serious contenders here.

Midnight Commander (mc.tcz) is an extremely light weight FM that runs from the console. 606kb in size, and just 2 deps. Makes light work of navigating files using the keyboard, but also has mouse support. On top of that has a built in text editor for editing scripts and config files. If you are comfortable in the console, this is the way to go.

Browser – again, two apps that i would consider

Dillo (dillo2.tcz) compliments TC in every way. small, lightening fast, offers good functionality, but doesnt support everything. The extension itself is just 1.6mb and has no dependencies!

Opera 9.64 (opera.tcz) Fastest of the full-featured browsers. You’ll be hard pressed to find a website that opera cant handle. The extension clocks in at 8mb with no deps. Opera also supports ‘minimal mode’ to save RAM, which strips out IRC, RSS and email functionality. Opera 10.10 is also available,but is significantly larger, at 11.6mb.

Video/music player

Mplayer-nodeps (Mplayer-nodeps.tcz) There are a few different Mplayer extensions in the repo. My reccomendation is Mplayer-nodeps. This is the command line version, lacking any GUI, as this will save you some space. Mplayer performs very well under TC, and as long as you brush up on the commands for mplayer, you’ll be fine. Nodeps version clocks in at 4.3mb, and of course there are no dependencies! Other versions require a graphical tool kit (GTK1 or GTK2). There is also a version for xorg users.

VLC (vlc.tcz) everyone loves VLC, and of course its availible here. Clocks in at a hefty 11.6mb, but will play practically any file. xorg reccomended by extension creator (eeek!). Depends on QT, amoung others.

System monitor

Conky (conky.tcz) Lightweight system monitor, displaying performace stats on the desktop. Just 116kb 2 deps its delightfully lightweight. A must have on any linux system!

Text editor

Beaver (beaver.tcz) Beaver is a handy text editor that I use everyday. Although not the most featurefull, supports some syntax highlighting, line numbering and auto indent. Only 135kb in size, but does depend on GTK1.

Office tools

Abiword/gnumeric (abiword.tcz, gnumeric.tcz) Two good apps for your office needs. allthough not as full-featured as openoffice, these clock in at a fraction of the size.

So, there it is, a small selection of usefull extentions that wont bog down your system!

Not new, but new to me. I’ve recently discovered the abilty to post to my blog from anywhere at all using only my nokia e63, and a data connection.

The first option is a program called wavelog. Sold commercially, it allows you to login and post, add images, and much more. It supports wordpress, blogger, youtube and more. But i’m not ready to cough up $16.50 when theres other options that are free!

The second option I came across, was an opensource project, writen in python called Scribe. Scribe allows the creation and editing of posts in wordpress, but does not allow photos to be uploaded from the phone. Because Scribe depends on the somewhat buggy pys60 runtime, there are some reliabilty issues here – alas, I am yet to get this program running on my e63.

The 3rd option, supplied by wordpress.com themselves, is just to use the ‘post by email’ feature – allowing you to post bu writing an email and sending it to a special worpress.com address. I am actually using this method to write this very post. Works well enough. The email subject makes up the post title, and and attached images will also be posted. One drawback I have though, as I am using the gmail java app, which does not support sending attachments (only recieving), I am unable to post images directly from my phone.

Ok, so none of these are exactly ideal. There is one other though, that I am yet to try. Its called Wordmobi, and like Scribe is written in python. Sounds as though this could be the answer I was looking for…

Stay tuned for part 2

ISEE, developer of the IGEP single board computer development plaform have announced an expansion board to accompany the IGEPv2, offering a number of new features. The expansion board will include the following:

  • Modem GSM/GPRS based on TELIT GE865 module with SIMCARD connector and external cable Antenna.
  • LCD and touch interface for 7.0 inch SEIKO LCD: 3 connectors (40pin FFC for TFT interface + 4pin FFC for touch + 6pin FFC for LED backlight).
  • LCD and touch interface for 4.3 inch POWERTIP LCD: 40pin FFC for TFT interface, touch and LED backlight).
  • VGA interface on D-SUB15 connector.
  • 2 x video composite inputs on RCA connector. Video Decoder based on TEXAS Video Decoder TVP5150.
  • Camera interface for e-con Systems e-CAM32_OMAP module.
  • CAN bus interface with 3 pin connector. CAN interface based on MICROCHIP MCP2515 CAN controller.
  • Serial port on DB9 connector
  • Size: idem IGEPv2

As you can see, this expansion board adds oodles of new functionality. Currently no word on price, but my guess puts this in a similar ballpark to the IGEPv2 itself pricewise.

One of the most appealing things about running a home network for me, is the ability to remotely administer and interact with any machine on the network, from a single terminal – in my case, an EEE PC.

Using SSH, It is incredibly simple to set up a ‘headless’ (computer box without a monitor or keyboard) workhorse to carry out any number of tasks for you. The said box can then be tucked away, somewhere out of the way and just be accessed remotely from another computer.

In this post we’ll be using it to download torrents.

So, you’ve installed you’re favourite linux distro onto the soon to be headless workhorse. now what? Well, there are 2 things we will need to do to set up this machine for remote connections. Firstly if you plan on running this machine without a monitor, there is no need to run X – all it does is waste CPU cycles and potential increase your power bill. So, enter the following command into a terminal for a command line boot up only:

sudo update-rc.d -f gdm remove

This tells the computer not to initiate X on start up, it doesnt remove it from your system. This command can be undone with

sudo update-rc.d -f gdm defaults

The other important thing that we need is the SSH server. Almost all distros come with an SSH client, for connecting to remote servers, but they don’t generally come with an SSH server to enable them to receive incoming connections, so it needs to be installed. Easily done, enter the following in a terminal to install the SSH server (debian and ubuntu derived systems):

sudo apt-get install openssh-server

N.B. Always run the commands

sudo apt-get update

and

sudo apt-get upgrade

before installing new packages

OK, now the server machine is setup, we can access it from another computer, say a laptop. Your other linux machine should have openssh-client pre installed. If not, install it with

sudo apt-get install openssh-client

. The next step is to actually establish a connection. and the way that we discuss that here, is through a LAN.

On the client machine, open a terminal, and type

ssh -L username hostname

or

ssh username@hostname

.
where username is the login name for the server that you wish to login under, and hostname is the name of the computer on the network. After this you will be asked a question regarding keys, you need to respond with ‘yes’ in order to continue. After that, enter the password for the given username of the remote server and you will connect.

You are now looking at the command prompt for the remote server, and the prompt should look something like username@hostname

You are now able to interact remotely with the server. you can perform any action that you could were you sat infront of the actual server.

Before we go any further, I want to talk about GNU Screen. Screen is a terminal multiplexer that allows multiple terminal sessions to be opened within a single terminal – think of it a little bit like ‘tabs’ in firefox or IE – you open just one browser, but can have many different pages going on at once. Except its far more useful than just that it allows you to maintain active terminal sessions on a remote server, even after you have logged out. Then, later on resume once reconnected. Absolutely invaluable when using SSH.

So. now that we are connected to the server, the smart thing to do is run screen. Next, we need to get rtorrent up and running rtorrent can be installed using

sudo apt-get install rtorrent

if you have any trouble getting rtorrent working, see this post

You are now ready to download torrents remotely

I recently reinstalled Linux onto my EEE 900 laptop. Using Ubuntu base installation as a starting point, I am building up a lightweight, super fast system from a minimal ubuntu install. So i’ve installed X, and fluxbox, file manager, rtorrent, iptables, nedit… so i basically have a very nice, very fast working system.

Next it was time to install a browser, again, i want to keep it light, but also capable.

So here is a run down of a few lightweight browsers, and my opinions of them.

Dillo
Dillo is extremely fast and lightweight browser, and in certain situtations, a pleasure to use. Minimal tool bars mean nearly all screen space is devoted webpages, and not the interface – a huge plus on an eeepc.

However, Dillo does not cope well when it comes up against bulky, complex sites. Limitted CSS support and no JavaScript support mean this browser is unusable on a number of sites that I use daily. If I was to make this my first choice browser, I would still need an alternative for accessing certain sites.

A good way to describe dillo, is that it covers a middle ground between fully featured browsers and text only browsers such as w3m. having said that, even w3m has JavaScript support!

A great browser for the simple things, but not enough on its own.

SeaMonkey
which is a WYSIWYG editor as well as a browser, which bares more than a little resemblance to netscape navigator (no accident). I had used this on a Puppy Linux live CD and had been very impressed with the speed – it uses mozillas rendering engine, so it supports sites almost as well as firefox. However, it just felt a bit clunky, and the interface took up a lot of screen real estate on the small eee screen. On top of that, there are a lot of dependencies for this software, and installation required a significant amount of disk space.

Conkeror
Conkeror is a lightweight browser based mozilla’s gecko rendering engine. the interface has been stripped away completely, and all that remains is a text input area at the bottom of the window. Conkeror relies on keyboard shortcuts similar to those in emacs or console based browsers in order to be used.

For example tapping ‘g’ allows a URL to be typed. Tapping ‘f’ results in all hyperlinks on a page being highlighted and numbered, the relevant number can then be entered to visit that link. ‘B’ and ‘F’ keys are used for back and forward, and so on.

All in all Conkeror is very fast and easy to learn. It does away with needless interface items and bloat – which is particularly helpful on a small screen, low spec system.

Links2

Links2 is a command line browser. I covered it before in an earlier post. The coolest feature of this ‘text only’ browser, is that it actually allows images to be rendered  and mouse support in the terminal/tty/ssh session, which makes it my first choice when I don’t have X running. However, a lack of JavaScript support limits it in many ways.

Like Dillo, a nice lightweight alternative, but cant be relied upon for all browsing due to its lack of support for advanced features.

w3m

Another CLI browser, Like Links2, can display graphics in the command line. On top of that, also supports JavaScript. Very fast, but not as pretty as Links2, and mouse support isnt implemented as well as Links2 either, nontheless, a good CLI browser.

So there you go, a quick rundown of some lightweight browsers available on linux. Right now, the crown goes to conkeror, it provides an intruative, uncluttered browsing experiance, and will likely baffle the average windows user who looks over your shoulder.

Tinycore is an extremely small graphical linux distro, available for x86 systems. Tinycore consists of pretty much the bare minimum required for a graphical linux environment (namely a Linux 2.6 kernel, Busybox, Tiny X, and Fltk) clocking in at just 10mb. TC runs entirely within RAM, saving its self to disk when the ‘sync’command is used, or at shutdown.

TC is essentially a blank canvas. functional enough to use from the get go, but with enough potential to make a very handy machine.

TC has two main modes of opperation.

1. Cloud – Non-persistant, suited to users who wish for an uncluttered system – simply boot up, select the app you wish to use, it will be downloaded and installed from the repo. after a reboot, system will have returned to default.
Personally, I cannot get my head around why users would prefer this mode over a persistant install. this requires software to be redownloaded after every boot. also, if any configurations and other personal settings are required, these will be lost. not to mention any files saved locally (althoug you could still save to mounted devices outside of the route file system, e.g. /mnt/sdd1/myfile

2. Mount mode – Offers persistance. ‘boot’ dir on storage media is loaded into ram at boot. all installed exentions will be loaded from ‘tce’folder. in adition, a any other directory (such as home) can be set as persistant by editing te relavent script.

I installed TC on to my eeepc 900 as i was looking for a quick and nimble distro with fast boot and capable enough for everyday usage – Wifi, browser, documents, video, audio.

The tinycore team have developed their own ‘exention manager’ (called appbrowser) to handle the installation and management of new software, the ‘appaudit’ to handle dependencies, and various other graphical tools to handle system admin. making this a fairly easy to expand distro.

The graphical environment is very fast and nimble, but will require some adjustment for users familiar with other, more integrated desktop environments.

For example, by default, there is no system tray or file manager. You must either use the ‘wbar’ menu at the bottom, or right-click to access the FLTK menu. Some could argue its not a user friendly system when it takes 3 mouse clicks to check the time/date!

But ofcourse, you are perfectly at liberty to add those features, and most users most certainly will add a file manager, and various other ‘essentials’.

One thing that must be taken into careful consideration when using TC, is what extentions to add. Thanks to the active community, there are 100s, perhaps 1000s of great extentions available through the appbrowser, but not all would be smart installations. for example:

1. openoffice is available, but at 90mb, its already 9x the size of the OS itself – adding serious bulk to what was previously a slim sleek distro

2.Many exentions will have a list of dependencies as long as my arm, meaning, to use that software, you need to install a buch of other software too – again fattening up your system considerably.

3.Some games and media players reccomend the use of Xorg as opposed to Tiny X. Whereas this is technically possible, it does seem like a step backwards for a distro with lightweight asperations.

I have installed the following extentions to give ordinary functionality

1. midnight commander – console based file manager
2. opera – web browser
3. beaver – text editor
4. mplayer – video, audio player
5. abiword – wordprocessor
6. gnumeric – spreadsheet
7. pidgin – instant messenger
8. various utils, zip, rar, conky

TC on the 900 handles all of these applications very nicely. All apps load very quickly, and can be swapped between with lightning speed. certain apps (such as pidgin) would certainly benefit from a system tray – which can be installed. other than that, usage is very good.

One complaint would be the unorthodox window decorations (rather than the typical minimizing, maximizing, close it uses ‘maximize width’ and ‘maximize height’, with minimize at the top left). this often forces me to shift a maximised window aside so that i can right-click in order to select another window.

aditionally, when opera gets busy, with multiple tabs, i did wittness the occational hang up, which is easily remedied by closing some tabs.

another annoyance is the unreliablity of the appsaudit tool and the appsbrowser (on poor connections). i’ve had all my TC exentions broken by dependency errors when trying to delete software and failed installations requiring manual installation of dependencies to make them work. the whole proccess can be a bit ‘hit and miss’.

So, in conclusion, TC is a very promising distro, and has an enthusiastic community and dev team. i think this distro has a lot of potential for the future, and i will definitely be following its progress. if you are a linux newbie, avoid this distro – its probably a bit too hands on for you, and you will definitely struggle if you run in to trouble. but for everyone else, dive right in. its a refreshing change.

I hear that TC 2.10 is now available, and touts significant improvements to appsbrowser/appsaudit amoung others. defintely a fast moving distro!

4 out of 5