GNOME 3 vs. Unity

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The face of the Linux desktop is drastically evolving. While the Linux communities struggle to bring more business and home users to the Linux desktop, existing users face choices about adopting redesigned desktop shells or finding suitable replacements. The fallout might well be the start of a Great New Linux Schism.

The Linux desktop has always been rife with choices. The big two in the ongoing contest for desktop environment users is GNOME and KDE. Both recently underwent massive redesigns. GNOME 2 morphed into version 3.0 with a radically different look and feel. KDE 4 is also graphically much different from the KDE 3 lineage. KDE 4's Plasma Desktop Shell brings considerable new eye candy and performance hikes.

But the XFCE desktop environment is a popular alternative. Plus, LXDE and more bare-bones systems such as FVWM and IceWM add to the growing options list confronting Linux users.

Not to be outdone, Ubuntu Linux operating system developer Canonical recently released version 11.04, known as "Natty Narwhal." This latest version marked the official roll-out of the redesigned Unity scheme as the default desktop. First designed as the preferred interface in its Netbook Remix version 10.04 release, an expanded Unity scheme is now Ubuntu's default desktop shell.

Perhaps the latest release of the widely used Fedora 15 distro will start a rush of users to the radically new GNOME desktop design. Canonical's developers have yet to integrate a new GNOME option in Ubuntu. This might force Ubuntu fans unhappy with Unity to defect to Fedora or other mainstream distros sporting the new GNOME 3.0 shell.

Or will the fledgling Unity shell cross distro lines and become a mainstream desktop alternative? Ultimately, the adoption of GNOME 3 over Unity may depend on ease-of-use perceptions and end-user hardware.

"I use GNOME on both old hardware and new, physical and virtual, and find that its performance scales well. I am somewhat daunted by the stated hardware requirements of Unity," Bill Weinberg, embedded and open source analyst and senior executive for, told LinuxInsider.

Mozilla and Firefox 5

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Mozilla released Firefox 5 earlier this week, just three months after rolling out Firefox 4 and a month after it released version 5 in beta.

Version 5 has "more than 1,000 improvements," which include the "Do Not Track" privacy feature and support for the CSS Animations standard, among other things.

In its rush to make the Web better, however, Mozilla is taking criticism for not making it especially clear to users that it would stop issuing vulnerability patches for Firefox 4.

That has given rise to concerns that users who delay updating for various reasons may not realize they'll lack protection against the latest malware.

"Firefox 5 is the security update for Firefox 4, and we do not plan to release a Firefox 4.0.2," Johnathan Nightingale, the Mozilla Foundation's director of Firefox engineering, told TechNewsWorld.

Should Mozilla have more forcefully notified Firefox 4 users that they have to upgrade to version 5? Should it include automatic updates instead of just sending users a pop-up window reminding them to update their browsers?

LulzSec's Latest Lark Targets Ariz. Cops

Friday, July 1, 2011

Hacker community LulzSec has revealed it's broken into the Arizona law enforcement agency's servers and released hundreds of sensitive documents on the Internet.

"We are targeting AZDPS [the Arizona Department of Public Safety] specifically because we are against SB1070 and the racial profiling anti-immigrant police state that is Arizona," LulzSec stated.

The highly controversial Arizona Senate Bill 1070 targets illegal immigrants and has drawn protests both within Arizona and outside of the state.

Arizona and the federal government are fighting a legal battle over the bill.

The documents LulzSec released on the Internet include the names and contact information of seven ADPS officials. Three of these have also had their home addresses and phone numbers released, and information about the wife of one of the three was also displayed on the Web.

Other sensitive documents released included some on counter surveillance as well as intelligence on Mexican gangs and on drug trafficking.

Arizona officials did not respond to requests for comment by press time.