Sunday, 25 March 2012

The news

I don't often have the time to read my collection of RSS and Atom feeds, but today was one of those days when I had the time.

The first story that caught my eye was Linus Torvalds having rejected a job at Apple (,15082.html#xtor=RSS-181).  This was about ten years ago, so we are told.  I can certainly understand why Apple would do this - Linux was, and still is, on its way to being a major threat in the market for operating systems.  Apple was also in the process of rebuilding Mac OS on top of a Unix foundation, and clearly didn't want to build a Unix environment from scratch.  As it turned out, OS-X was eventually built on top of a Mach microkernel/FreeBSD foundation.

At the risk of upsetting a few people, if they were to offer Linus the same opportunity right now, I would urge him to jump at it.  I fully understand that Apple wanted him to relinquish his interest in Linux, but let's consider what difference that would make right now.  The kernel development team has grown to a point where Linus' job as maintainer could feasibly be done by a lot of people.  We can't underestimate his importance in creating the Linux kernel in the first place, but it has now developed a life of its own.

While I can understand his reluctance to give up his creation to someone else, it will always be his creation.  My argument is that a new figurehead might not be a bad thing.  Over the years, I have seen Linus express certain opinions which have alienated large numbers of Linux users.  His views on which desktop environment or Linux distribution are the best are interesting, but he has sometimes come over as something of a control freak, wanting us all to fall in line with how he wants things done.  Linux is all about choice, and dictating how users should use their computers is a bit too far down the Microsoft or Apple road for me.  I am sure that many would disagree with my views, and I am in no way trying to lessen his contribution, but I'm saying it would not be the end of the world if he jumped ship at this point.

Someone who HAS fallen on his sword is Charlie Kravetz, project leader of the Xubuntu project (  Some may question why this is important.  Well, many were dismayed, and still are, by Ubuntu's choice of Unity as a desktop environment.  I would say that many switched to Kubuntu as an alternative but, to be honest, KDE's huge memory footprint is a drawback.  For those wanting a more traditional desktop environment, XFCE is becoming increasingly important.  Xubuntu has XFCE as its desktop environment, but also has the entire Ubuntu software repository at its disposal.  At the time of writing, it could still be considered a minority distribution (though as someone running LXDE on Debian Wheezy, I realise the irony in that assertion).  It will get bigger, though, I am guessing.  Those who still find it a resource hog can check out Lubuntu (, which runs particularly well on old hardware.

As noted above, I think that sometimes a change of leadership can breathe new life into a project, and unquestionably a change of perspective.

It was a surprise to discover that five Far Eastern stock exchanges run on Red Hat Linux ( but, thinking about it, I don't know why I was surprised.  Here in the West, our governments don't seem to have realised the benefits of open source but, elsewhere in the world, the advantages it brings to government institutions in terms of cost savings a reliability are well known.  If our leaders would stop dragging their feet on this, maybe we would recover from our current financial slump more quickly and move towards a more sustainable model of governance.  It would be a start, anyway.

After years of singing the praises of traditional headphones and avoiding in-ear devices, I finally gave in to temptation and ordered some AKG in-ear phones.  Then, I saw this - - so I will be using the AKGs as a spare pair, I think, and going back to traditional headband phones.

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