Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ubuntu withdraws Gimp-y love

An article over on Lockergnome clued me in to the news that Ubuntu is considering not installing Gimp by default. While Gnomie Matt Hartley is expressing his disagreement here, I'm not surprised.

I have to disagree. What people want - even among Linux users - is the equivalent of Paint. Gimp is not Paint.

Gimp is not hard either. Especially if all you want to do is crop an image. But then you could use Phatch (which is also not so simple, but still).

Why is Gimp not Paint? Because it is (rightfully so) closer to Photoshop. At the heart of the problem are basic premises. Things like drawing a simple square. It is simply counter-intuitive to select a blank region and then choose "stroke selection".

I love Gimp and will happily install it from repo in future versions of Ubuntu because, like K3b and BlueFish, it's on my "pull" list when I build a new machine.

But it doesn't surprise me A BIT that Ubuntu is opting not to install it by default.

Monday, November 16, 2009

How is this not a hacking tool?!?

OK, so someone explain to me how this isn't totally a Microsoft invention to make Windows more easily hacked? "I'm sorry Bill, but I can't allow you to do that. Here's a convenient list of accounts you can try to impersonate so that you CAN do that though".
- Leon

PS: Comic is courtesy of, and was featured in the post from Gizmodo. And I really like it. So I kept it in.

By John Herrman on Unix

So, how exactly did Microsoft—those bastards!—end up patenting Sudo, a years-old Linux command line tool, without someone stepping in to stop them? Easy! They didn't.

The story inspired widespread hyperventilation last week, most of which revolved around a few impassioned quotes:

Here it is, patent number7617530. Thanks, USPTO, for giving Microsoft, which is already a monopoly, a monopoly on something that's been in use since 1980 and wasn't invented by Microsoft. Here's Wikipedia's description of sudo, which you can meaningfully compare to Microsoft's description of its "invention".

This from Groklaw, a site that specializes in free and open source software legal affairs, i.e. exactly this kind of thing. But for whatever reason—zeal? clicks?—their reading of the patent, which we picked up, turn out to overblown. Says Sudo maintainer Todd Miller, via Ars:

I've already received a number of questions about US patent 7,617,530 that some people seem to believe might cover sudo. I don't think that is the case," he wrote. "Sudo simply doesn't work this way. When a command is run via sudo the user is actively running the command as a different user. What is described in the patent is a mechanism whereby an application or the operating system detects that an action needs to be run with increased privileges and automatically prompts the user with a list of potential users that have the appropriate privilege level to perform the task.

So, if not this, then what does the Microsoft patent cover? Back to Ars:

Specifically, it describes a user interface which displays accounts that have the necessary rights to perform an action when the user is blocked from performing an action that requires higher access privileges.

These are similar, but not patent similar.

Turns out, though, that there is a Linux tool called PolicyKit just like what Microsoft patented, which prompts users to switch to a higher-level user account when they hit against a permissions barrier. It was created after the patent was filed, but before it was made public. So, Microsoft, on all counts: not guilty. [ArsTechnica]

Friday, November 13, 2009

But... it's still just a phone!

(with all credit and thanks to XKCD.COM)

This really is about how I feel:

Do I lose geek cred for having a phone that I use JUST as a phone? I mean, I WANT a Droid. I really do. I went to the Verizon store a couple of days ago and lovingly fondl... I mean worked with it for about 20 minutes.

But at the end of the day it's still just a phone, and I still just make calls and occasionally text my wife. If I'm anywhere, it is with a laptop and internet connection.

Now maybe someday I'll find myself in that weird situation where I *need* to answer email but either can't get to it because the firewall blocks it or there's no wifi signal. but it hasn't happened yet.

So my Droid lust is just that - lust. Physical desire without any emotional relevance or connection to a relationship beyond it's own gratification.