NSA: Please Turn off the Lights When You Leave. Nothing to See Here.

Linux Advocate Dietrich Schmitz shows how the general public can take action to truly protect their privacy using GnuPG with Evolution email. Read the details.

Mailvelope for Chrome: PGP Encrypted Email Made Easy

Linux Advocate Dietrich Schmitz officially endorses what he deems is a truly secure, easy to use PGP email encryption program. Read the details.

Step off Microsoft's License Treadmill to FOSS Linux

Linux Advocate Dietrich Schmitz reminds CIOs that XP Desktops destined for MS end of life support can be reprovisioned with FOSS Linux to run like brand new. Read how.

Bitcoin is NOT Money -- it's a Commodity

Linux Advocate shares news that the U.S. Treasury will treat Bitcoin as a Commodity 'Investment'. Read the details.

Google Drive Gets a Failing Grade on Privacy Protection

Linux Advocate Dietrich Schmitz puts out a public service privacy warning. Google Drive gets a failing grade on protecting your privacy.

Email: A Fundamentally Broken System

Email needs an overhaul. Privacy must be integrated.


Cookie Cutter Distros Don't Cut It


The 'Linux Inside' Stigma - It's real and it's a problem.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Turn a Deaf Ear

Linux Advocate Dietrich Schmitz reminds readers of a long ago failed petition by Mathematician Prof. Donald Knuth for stopping issuance of Software Patents.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Fedora 21 Alpha Workstation Impressions

Fedora 21 Workstation (GNOME 3.14 Desktop GUI)

Draining the Swamp, is the title of a 2001 GUADEC presentation done in Seville Spain back in 2001 by +Jim Gettys, author of the X Window system.  Citing his remarks in an April 2014 story, Christian Schaller (Senior Software Engineering Manager at Red Hat, Developer at GNOME) writes about Gettys' vision:

(...) "We are trying to bring that ‘draining the swamp’ mindset with us into creating the Fedora Workstation product.

With that in mind what is the driving ideas behind the Fedora Workstation? The Fedora Workstation effort is meant to provide a first class desktop for your laptop or workstation computer, combining a polished user interface with access to new technologies. We are putting a special emphasis on developers with our first releases, both looking at how we improve the desktop experience for developers, and looking at what tools we can offer to developers to let them be productive as quickly as possible. And to be clear when we say developers we are not only thinking about developers who wants to develop for the desktop or the desktop itself, but any kind of software developer or DevOPs out there." (...)
That sums up what Fedora 21 Workstation is all about.

Fedora has embarked on an ambitious plan called Fedora.next which breaks out three distinct product lines: Server, Workstation and Cloud.  I only give my initial impressions for Workstation.  Here goes.

Shiny and New

It's a good sign when I find myself smiling, which is what happened after installing Fedora 21 Alpha Workstation.

As I write, and after a week of poking around Fedora Workstation Alpha, I am thinking:

"This is Alpha?  It's more production-ready than other general releases I have seen".  Seriously Folks, it's that stable.

The most obvious change?  Visual.

Fedora Workstation gets the proverbial face lift with GNOME 3.14.   And that is what keeps me smiling.

Adwaita Gets Some Love

In its default form GNOME is fitted to Adwaita Theme.  There are no rough edges.  Just smooth contours, gradients, delicious fonts, all composited to make the eyes feel good.   GNOME has worked diligently in shaping their Human Interface Guidelines to assist GTK Application Developers.

In other work done outside of Fedora, the Adwaita team did a major redesign which improves portability, provides maximum GTK compatibility for Developers and is now the default theme for the GTK toolset.

Bells and Whistles

Alan Day has labored and brings swarming animation.  A nice professional touch of glitz never hurts and lends to the overal professional feel.

Venturing into GNOME Software, you'll discover the newest version now offers Live Search.

Pressing the nine dots icon (or tap the Super key) to type any city name will return the current time in GNOME Clock.

As well, typing a quick calculation into the search field will return from GNOME Calculator an instant result.

Other New Features

  • Touchscreen Gesture support
  • Interactive GTK Inspector (for Developers)
  • Mozilla Location Service
  • New Animations for Activities
  • New Minimize Maximize Transition Effects

Updated Apps

  • Weather App Geolocation Support
  • Maps Route Planning
  • Boxes Multi-Window, VM Snapshot Support
  • Music Online Provider Support
  • Photos Google/PicasaWeb Integration
  • Evince PDF Reader Redesigned
  • dnf (Yum replacement) Speed Improvements

Kernel Update

During this week, Fedora 21 yum update-testing downloaded Linux Kernel 3.17, which the Linux Foundation reports includes several feature enhancements.

New Default Terminal Theme

GNOME Terminal now defaults to using the Solarized theme (below).

GNOME 3.14 Solarized Theme

New System Log Utility

For those who feign going near system logs, a new utility called Logs will come in very handy (below) and makes viewing logs simple.

New System Logs Utility

Wayland Remains Non-Default

To those who have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of Wayland production support, I say: "Good things come to those who wait." ;)

Seriously, Christian Schaller gives an update on the status of Wayland and I will say from my own vantage point while Wayland may be stable, the process of migrating GTK Apps to use Wayland is ongoing.  Schaller writes:

(...) "So we want to keep being a place where you do get access to new and exciting technologies first, but as you see with the Wayland effort we are now going to go the extra mile to make sure we offer this new technologies in a way that allows you to still use Fedora as your day to day working machine without worrying that these new features will hinder your work. So we will keep Wayland available as a separate non-default session until we feel very confident that our users are not going to be negatively impacted by the switch. Which means we want to fix and polish up the last remaining bits and pieces, make sure that performance is top notch, make sure all input hardware works flawlessly, work with NVidia and AMD to help them make their binary drivers available for Wayland before we make this the new default." (...)


As for 'Draining the Swamp', I am giving a thumbs up to the Fedora and GNOME Teams for their hard work.  Fedora Workstation really shines and despite being Alpha, I have not had any major problems aside from what gets sent in the automated crash reports.

Fedora succeeds and while the use case Target Audience includes, Students and Developers I would feel comfortable recommending it to Grandma.

Fedora Workstation product documentation can be found here.
Alpha/Beta Testers are encouraged to participate.  Get the Prerelease here.

-- Dietrich

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Shuttleworth Pronouncements, Proclamations, Palaver and Privacy Integration

I see Mr. "I'm Special" Shuttleworth is at it again.

He seems to enjoy being in the limelight.  And, if you take pictures of him on stage with pictures of him in the backdrop with his name emblazoned -- all the better.  His ego fulfillment is unabashedly on display.

Seriously, I have taken jabs at Canonical Ltd., MS and his community of psychophants in the past and, quite frankly, enjoy doing it.  This is a small society which has little effect on the quality of Linux on the Desktop.

Ubuntu purports to offer new technology paradigms, but, in reality, is in opposition to anything but its own bastardized notions of innovation.  Left-handed doo-dads instead of right, global menus (Mac emulation), broken scrollbars, subverted Wayland code (Mir) all designed with a solitary purpose -- to wrest control from and drive a wedge into the open source community and advance a cause with no clear purpose.

Canonical Ltd. continues to 'spend' down MS IOUs as it capriciously plots its vision of the future that nobody quite understands.

Yesterday, "the King" made another one of his "Brilliant Man!" pronouncements.  Paraphrasing his overly verbose Here be Dragons post:  "Erahhh, gee, this whole invasion of privacy thing is getting out of hand -- I think I need to say something about it -- lend the appearance of having lofty thoughts at least and maybe I can buy some time while I actually come up with some new bright ideas -- Oh a fellowship! -- yes, that's it -- let me throw them a bone -- token gesture".

News Flash, Mr. Shuttleworth.  True Internet Privacy is attainable.  The technology used to protect your Distro, GnuPG, is viable and pivotal to 'the solution'.  It just needs to be made more user friendly with some help from the open source community with Apps that approach usability like Enigma.  Enigma isn't getting the love it could use, in fact, it has gone stale and lost support.  Still, we are not without recourse.

No, Google's End-toEnd encryption is not the solution.  That endeavor is 'reinventing the wheel'.  Google wants to port GPG to Javascript.  Bad Bad Bad.  Improve upstream OpenPGP.  What is needed is a true Desktop-Integrated Privacy App.  It should be transparent and drop-dead easy to use.

Much as we have come to expect of Microsoft Office or LibreOffice, we should provide the means for obtaining iron-clad Internet Privacy as a matter of right.

This is the true mandate.

So, please.  Mr. Shuttleworth.

Pronouncements, Proclamations, and Palaver are not needed.  Start by putting together a list of 'draft actionable items' for discussion that can become the final framework upon which to move forward in the Open Source Community, collectively, without divisiveness, or proprietary twists of any kind. -- Dietrich