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It Ain't All About Ubuntu

Apr 20, 2007, 22:30 (9 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Proffitt)

By Brian Proffit
Managing Editor

So many things to talk about this week, I hardly know where to begin. Let's call this a potpourri column this week, with some short comments on a lot of different issues.

By far, the biggest news in the community was the release of Thunderbird 2.0. Except that is got buried under the avalanche of media by that whats-its-name distribution from the Isle of Man.

Seriously, distros are fine, but for my money (metaphorically speaking), having a decent e-mail client is much more important, no matter what distro I am using. I have already downloaded and started using the final 2.0 Thunderbird release, and thus far, no big concerns leap out at me. In fact, it feels a bit faster to me, which is very good. I will post a more complete review later on the LT blog early next week.

Microsoft got itself in the Linux news space a few times this week, first with the announcement of its $3 Office suite program in developing nations. Meant to be a direct response to the popular One Laptop Per Child program, Microsoft hopes that governments will respond positively to their offer and go with them rather than OLPC. Normally, I'd cry foul over the obvious price dumping, but I want to wait a bit and see, because one of two things is going to happen: either the governments in question will politely decline the offer because there won't be any hardware to effectively run all of this cheap software or we will see a hardware vendor step up very soon to provide similarly priced platforms to run in these nations. (Very likely the Intel Classmate PC program.) Expect the latter, but if it's the former, I will laugh my head off at the sight of Microsoft forgetting something so basic.

The second item of note was the deal Microsoft made with Samsung that "allows" Samsung to distribute Linux without fear of any patent retribution. I think I speak for a lot of people when I say "Thanks, Novell, what a wonderful precedence you've set." Of course, then there's the folks at Samsung that bought the snake oil Redmond was selling. The community and its vendors need to address these thinly veiled insinuations. As Glyn Moody at Linux Journal wrote, "Show us the code."

Speaking of snake oil, how about that line of goods those Microsoft lobbyists were selling down at the Florida Statehouse recently? Wow. I had the experience of trying to talk to my state representative when I lived in Indianapolis, but could never get past her chief of staff. Luckily, I discovered she lived right down the street from me, and was able to talk to her in person. Her stance on it was, no one seemed to be worried about format lock-in the state government, which was disappointing. On the plus side, she was very interested in the pilot Linux programs kicked off in some Indiana schools last year by Linspire and Novell, so perhaps she too will get her own visit from the men in black someday.

Back to more community related topics, there seems to be an increase in "look at those weirdos in the Linux community" articles lately, which I think we've all noticed. Now, as a matter of policy, I try to link to all sorts of viewpoints, to show what people are saying (good or bad) about Linux. But I am being more selective of late about the repetitive attacks from the same media groups and bloggers. Because while a big benefit LT delivers to the Internet community is traffic, being trolled for the sake getting hits is not what we're here for.

That's not a change in policy; it's merely a stronger enforcement of the existing editorial stance. An actual change on the site that you may have noticed was the change in style of source attribution. Instead of putting the name of the source site in the headline, it now appears as part of the lead. The difference is minor, but the benefits will be significant for those of you who subscribe to LT's RSS feed. A reader pointed out that many of the feed's headlines were too big for RSS feeds to format well, and asked if we could shorten them. Since LT always tries to use the same headline as the source article, breaking off the attribution was the best way to accomplish this.

Oh, yeah, and Ubuntu 7.04 came out. Not really a lot of new news there, though the Canonical folks were very surprised at the huge traffic hit they got on their servers early Thursday morning. I never notice that kind of slow down when Fedora or openSUSE get released, which might be telling of Ubuntu's popularity. Or Canonical's server setup.

There you have it: a busy week for many of us. Just like at Mandriva, Spring is here.