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Open Source Culture – As Seen Through Comic Strips

Geek and Poke
There has been a proliferation in Open Source Software (OSS) adoption over the past decade, with particular momentum in the last 3 years. Much of the challenge in convincing companies and individuals to adopt OSS lies in demystifying deep-seated stereotypes that have typically framed OSS as an affront to closed source alternatives. It goes something like this…

How could a project run by a geek in his (gender-stereotyping is rife in the OSS world) spare time, updated on an ad-hoc basis, free for all to use and manipulate (even repackage and resell!), housed on a pre-Web 2.0 site, how could this possibly be anything other than a hobby at best?

Ok, I exaggerate, but regardless, these fears and concerns do exist and do contribute to an OSS sub culture; an online currency of jokes and jibes coupled with more serious aspirations to the ideals of OSS. Part of this culture has filtered through to an increasingly wide range of tech-oriented comic strips. It has even been known to capture the imagination of old favourites as you’ll see below.

What the following list represents is a range of humorous, satirical and sometimes foreboding takes on a burgeoning industry. The list is far from comprehensive, so please do share your favourite comics in the comment section below and we’ll be happy to update this post accordingly. Enjoy!

Click here to continue reading

25 Free Kick Ass WordPress 3.0-Ready Themes

The consensus is that WordPress has benefited greatly from the explosion of the premium theme market. It has brought new designers, ideas and extensions of the WordPress blogging platform to proliferation. WordPress is far more versatile and complex a CMS than it was in its first few years of development. At the same time, there is a portion of the WP community that bemoaned the decline of free themes that was such an exciting part of WP in its early years. The abundance of free themes in 2004-2007 (along with plugins) is arguably what set WP ahead of its competition.

The following list was created to champion free themes released within the last few months, to revive a glimmer of the former WP theme glory and to offer alternative to the Premium market. What you’ll find is a range of high quality free WordPress themes that easily rival their paid equivalents. Enjoy!

1. Food Recipe

Demo | Download

2. Artisan

Demo | Download

3. Sweet Banana

Demo | Download

Click here to continue reading

Open Source iPhone Applications

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Below you’ll find some of the more prominent open source iPhone applications available for free download on the Web. The iPhone is brimming with paid apps, but with the advent of the Google Android platform and the surge of free and open source apps that it promises, we’re now starting to see a much welcome growth in iPhone open source projects. I’ll keep this listed updated as and when I find new software. If you have a suggestion to add to the list, please leave a comment and I’ll include asap. Enjoy!

Molecules

Molecules is an application for the iPhone and iPod touch that allows you to view three-dimensional renderings of molecules and manipulate them using your fingers. You can rotate the molecules by moving your finger across the display, zoom in or out by using two-finger pinch gestures, or pan the molecule by moving two fingers across the screen at once.
Visit website »

WordPress for iPhone

The WordPress for iPhone app lets you write posts, upload photos, edit pages, and manage comments on your blog from your iPhone or iPod Touch. With support for both WordPress.com and self-hosted WordPress (2.5.1 or higher), users of all experience levels can get going in seconds.
Visit site »

TubeStatus

TubeStatus allows you to get up to the minute service details on all London Underground tube lines in a quick and easy to use format. It also includes detailed line messages as provided by Transport for London (TFL).
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Tris

Tris is a Tetris clone game for iPhone. The project was intended as an example of general programming practices within the iPhone frameworks and of attractive interface and effective interaction design for the iPhone platform.
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hp Calculator Emulator

This app emulates the popular hp scientific calculators. Get complex mathematic power straight from your iPhone.
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Mobile Terminal

Mobile Terminal is a terminal emulator application for the iPhone. It does not function as an SSH client, nor Telnet, but it can be used to execute a console ssh-client application.
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App Sales Mobile

App Sales Mobile allows iPhone developers to download and analyze their daily and weekly sales reports from iTunes Connect. The newest reports can be downloaded with a single tap and all numbers are automatically converted to your (selectable) local currency. With clear bar charts you’ll get a quick daily overview of how your apps are doing in the store.
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Gorillas

Gorillas is a turn based single player and multi player game where the objective is to blast your opponent away using carefully aimed bananas.
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Twitterfon

TwitterFon is a simple, clean, easy to use, and super fast Twitter client for iPhone and iPod Touch
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iPhone Books

Books.app is a simple eBook reader for the iPhone. It reads HTML and text files stored in your ~/Media/EBooks folder, and is smart enough to enter subdirectories, if for instance, you’ve broken a book down by chapters.
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Open Clip

OpenClip is a non-profit, open-source, community-effort project, which promotes a framework for the iPhone that allows users to copy / paste between participating applications.
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CentOS 4.7 Announced by Johnny Hughes

Johnny Hughes announced yesterday the launch of CentOS 4.7 for i386 and x86_64 architectures, the “Community ENTerprise Operating System”. CentOS is built from RHEL’s sources and CentOS 4.7 was born from the recompilation of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.7 source code.

Its “updates” repository has the latest packages till September 12th. Talking about updates, probably the most important one is the fact that CentOS 4.7 comes with improved performance for the fully-virtualized guests. This is done thanks to the paravirtualized network and block device drivers.

CentOS 4.7 brings the latest edition of Firefox 3 and a technology preview of OpenOffice-2.0 in the updates repository. The possibility to install the preview alongside the OOo-1.1.5 version is given, but you can set it up alone too.

Password hashing with the SHA-256 and SHA-512 hash functions was added. The SHA hash functions were designed by NSA and these two cryptographic functions are 256 and respectively 512 bits long. Although there are no reported attacks related to the SHA-2 family (including SHA-256 and SHA-512), there is another hash function called SHA-3 that’s currently under development.

CentOS was created for users that don’t need commercial support but want a stable operating system that they can manage on their own. Full updates including hardware updates for the CentOS 4 branch will be supported until February 29, 2008. After this date, only maintenance updates will be provided till February 29, 2012.

You can find out more about this release in the official release announcement and on CentOS’s website.

Innovate or emulate? Google Chrome review

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On the 1st of September, Google made an official announcement about its new Open Source project code-named Google Chrome. It sent shockwaves through the tech community and a barrage of rampant speculation over the future of Mozilla Firefox broke out with talk of Google out to hunt the much-loved fox. Mozilla’s CEO, John Lilly, responded (with notable nonchalance) on his blog by saying that comeptition from Google was inevitable given the scope and ambition of the Google operation.

Along side search engines and email clients, web browsers play a vital role in daily Internet usage. The web browser is quite simply the window onto the Web. Until now Google only had an indirect foothold in this huge market through its funding relationship with Firefox. Given that Google’s main competitor Microsoft has been at the forefront of browser application technology from the early days of the Web, there is a clear sense that by building a rival browser, Google is moving ever closer to Internet monopoly. In many ways Firefox has been Google’s guinea pig, a testing ground for the viability of an open source rival to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Google’s relationship with Mozilla may not have been this way from the start, but Google’s decision to release the Chrome source code and the fact that Chrome inherits components from Firefox point to a very calculated move.

Google states that its main approach to building Chrome was to “rethink the browser” and create “a modern platform for web pages and applications” (source). In doing so it claims to have improved speed, responsiveness and functionality across the board. Part of this meant developing new frameworks to power so-called ‘next generation’ web applications – the V8 JavaScript engine is one example of innovation in this project.

So what is Chrome really about? Is it really about technological innovation, or is it a market share strategy through Firefox emulation? And does it live up to its ambitious remit as the browser that will power the ‘next generation’ of Internet interaction? In this review, I take a candid look at the Google Chrome beta release and ask whether this new web browser lives up to the hype. What can Google do that everyone else can’t and has Google laid down the foundations for the definitive Web browser? Click here to continue reading

Watch 2 Great Open Source Animation Films

A while back we featured an interview with members from the Blender Creative team discussing work on their upcoming open source game Apricot. The game has been in development since February this year and the team is reaching the final stages of production. The game is now called ‘Yo Frankie’ and you can see a 6 miunte video demonstration of the main game levels here. Needless to say that once the game has been released we will follow up with an in-depth review here on Sourced.

For this blog entry, I want to shift away from Blender’s gaming exploits and focus on the other strand of Open Source entertainment they pioneer: animation films. Below are two great Open Source animation films that demonstrate the level of professionalism behind the work at Blender: Big Buck Bunny and Elephant’s Dream.Both films were released under Creative Commons licenses and the animation source files are available for download from the Blender website as is all the software that was used to create the animation. So without further ado, it’s time to see the films for yourselves. Enjoy and let us know what you thought in the comment section. Click here to continue reading

Remarkable Real World Open Source Projects

Over the past decade, Open source software (OSS) has seen a surge in popularity. The combination of high coding standards, collaborative learning and minimal costs has attracted a new generation of users and developers, passionate about creating and sharing resources.

This newfound interest has led to crossovers in the application of open source ideas to real world projects; including everything from film making to fizzy drinks. But many of these non-software open source projects are met with skepticism by OSS purists. There’s a tendency to see this practice as a dilution of the original open source movement as well as a deviation from OSS guidelines maintained by organizations like the Open Source Initiative.

Should Open Source mean software only or should its ideas extend to all areas of life and creativity? The following list of real world open source projects should give you some great food for thought!

Click here to continue reading

PC/OS 7.10 Review

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Once upon a time, there was BeOS. It was a wonderful operating system (OS), built by Be Inc. in 1991. Back then it has all the hallmarks of a revolutionary OS, and while its punch may have weakened over the years, it still has the potential to be a great platform. It was originally optimized for digital media work, it squeezed the juice out of multiprocessor systems, used a nice 64-bit journaling file system by the name of BFS and used an API written in C++ (because of its ease of programming). Although BeOS is not a Unix derivative, it used the bash shell and was POSIX compatible. Unfortunately, BeOS was not viable from a commercial point of view, and the company stopped its development. Be Inc. was acquired by Palm Inc., and now BeOS fans are trying to bring it back to life once more. Projects such as Haiku for example, are trying to build a new BeOS, from scratch. Others, such as PC/OS are using Linux distributions as their basis.

So what is PC/OS all about? It’s a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu (which seems to be the epitome of all ‘user friendly’ distros lately), and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that it mostly derives from Xubuntu given that it uses XFCE as the main desktop environment. PC/OS aims to provide a stable, easy to use, out of the box operating system. To say that it’s fool proof would be exaggerating given the various installation problems I encountered, particularly with sound and video cards, but I’ll leave that aside for now and move onto the mainstay of this review. Click here to continue reading

Open Source Gaming: The Apricot Interview

Apricot is the title of an open source game currently being developed by the Amsterdam-based Blender Institute. While Blender is perhaps best known in the open source world for its cross-platform 3D content creation suite of the same name, it is fast developing a presence in the multimedia entertainment industry too. In 2005/06 it launched Elephant’s Dream, “the world’s first open movie”, a short film made entirely from open source software and released with open production files. Riding on the success of this creative enterprise, Blender went on to make Big Buck Bunny, another open source animation film that recently premiered at the Amsterdam Film Academy. The characters from Big Buck Bunny will feature in the Apricot open source game.

The Apricot project was launched in February 2008 with a core team of six members covering all areas of design, artwork, development, scripting and level editing. It is a cross-platform 3D game and like its cinematic cousins, it’s built on open source software. The team use”Blender for modeling and animation, Crystal Space as 3D engine and delivery platform, and Python for some magic scripting to glue things together”. The fundamental aims of the project are to work in connection with the online community to deliever a piece of software that not only offers a compelling 3D game experience, but aims to “improve and validate the open source 3D game creation pipeline, with industry-standard conditions”.

Curious to find out how Apricot was coming along and to hear some of the rationale behind creating an open source game, I put the following questions to the Apricot team and here’s what they said: Click here to continue reading

Wine 0.9.59: Consume with moderation!

The guys at WineHQ have been serving up a lot of new ‘varietals’ of their application in recent months, particularly after receiving sponsorship from Google. With an average of 2 or 3 new upgraded versions per month, the developers released Wine 0.9.57 and 0.9.58 last month, and just yesterday they brought us Wine 0.9.59.

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For those of you still wondering what the Wine application is, let me explain. Wine is an open source project that takes the Windows API and transposes it onto Mac and Unix based systems (OSX, OpenGL, etc). You can use it to run most current Windows programs, although there is still a fair number that don’t work at all. This is partly what the Wine team is trying to address with their frequent updates. Take a look at the OSLiving Archive entry on Wine for more details.

So, what’s new in this latest version? Let’s take a quick look. The WineHQ offical website states that the .NET framework has been given some ‘support love’, meaning that Windows apps running on Wine should generally work much better. A separate services.exe process will handle the services more efficient and in case you had some problems with http proxies, you’ll be glad to know that these issues seem to have been fixed (services.exe, or Services Control Manager is responsible for the system services, running/stopping and interacting with them). Click here to continue reading

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About

The OSLiving blog addresses issues of import in a broadly based Open Source context. It is a space for information, opinion and informed debate.

Discover software reviews and interviews with leading figures in the field, commentary on current Open Source issues and musings on all things WordPress.

If you'd like to contribute a guest article to the blog, please get in touch.

Sites We Like

SourceForge - one of the longest running portals devoted to housing projects from the Open Source community. A great place to find OSS projects to collaborate on.

Open Source Initiative - the OSI maintains the Open Source Definition and offers a range of information on OSS licensing and standards.

OSALT - a brilliant site devoted to open source alternatives. The site compares quality OSS with its commercial peers.

Got a great OSS link? Let us know.