Would You Like a Native Client for Google Drive?

gdrive

If you’re like me, you think that the more native applications that are available to Linux users, the better.  In the case of Google Drive, there isn’t a native synchronization enabled client for Linux.  This is especially sad if you think about how Google got to where it is today…building its entire search infrastructure on the backs of customized Debian servers.  Not to mention that Android…which is powered by Linux…has a native client available in the Google Play store.

Why would we want a native client for Google Drive when we can just use unofficial software to do it or mount it like a command line commando would?  The answer is simple…uniformity and solidarity.  The experience that is already present for Windows and Mac users should be present in Linux as well…instead, Linux continues to be the ‘red headed stepchild’ of the desktop experience.

There are some people who feel this same way and they have started an online petition asking Google to release a native Drive client for Linux.  You can sign the petition here if you’d like to.  As of the writing of this post, there were 15,648 signatures…let’s see if we can push above 20k shall we?  I think online petitions are sometimes silly but Google might not.  Hopefully, we’ll get that native client and uniform experience for Linux desktops everywhere.

Sony Violates the LGPL3 and Steals KDE Icon

LGPL-3-Logo

Looks like Sony has gone from prosecuting pirates to becoming one.  Only days after the PS4 announcement too.

Over at the KDE Blog, Jonathan Riddell explains that Sony is using a KDE icon in violation of the LGPL3 license under which it is released:

“Nowhere on their website terms of use does it list the LGPL 3 licence it may be copied under (It does say “Any unauthorised use or copying of site content, or use of site content which breaches these Terms (or their spirit) may violate trade mark, copyright and other proprietary rights, and have civil and criminal consequences” although it also says “You must seek and obtain the written consent the operator of this site before creating any link to this site” so I don’t give that page any legal credit.)”

The page in question is a ‘Choose your Vaio‘ webpage on the Sony UK site.

What does one do in cases like this?  It seems that legal action would be a waste of time and money…hopefully, Sony takes note of this and corrects the issue.  They’ve been heavily invested in Linux and Open Source for many years now with their platforms and I’d like to think they’d have learned from their rootkit debacle that you should act quickly to fix things before they blow up on the internet.

Google News Redesign is Horrible

So, what do you think of the Google News redesign?

You like it???  Tell me where you live so I can come hit you on the head a couple of times with a tack hammer…we’ll see if that jars anything loose.  All kidding aside (no I don’t want to hit anyone on the head with a tack hammer), there is plenty of negative feedback on the redesign.  If you’re not sure what changed, the original Google News Blog announcement is here (with screenshots) and you can also see it on your own computer (for now…they may roll it out to other countries besides the US soon so this may not work perpetually) here is how to check:

  1. Login to your google account.  Go to http://google.com/news
  2. Now visit this link in a new tab:  http://www.google.ca/news

The difference initially looks subtle but once you start scrolling it blares like a fog horn in your head.  I’m not the only one who thinks the redesign sucks.  The original announcement is filled with negative comments about the redesign.  Look on the right hand column of the announcement to see related posts and you’ll quickly see there are plenty of people who despise this ‘improvement’.  Even looking in the google news general forum results in the most popular threads being discussions about how bad the redesign actually is.

People have even begun to label this redesign as the “New Coke” of Google products.  I’m thinking they may be right.  Don’t remember the New Coke snafu?

How Can We Tell Google Their Redesign Sucks?

Most people have been going to the support area for Google news.  In my opinion, this is ABSOLUTELY the wrong area.  Instead, head over to the blog announcement page and you’ll see a link to the Help Center.  Once there, on the top right hand corner of the announcement is a link to comments. As of the writing of this article there were about 15 comments on this change.

It is my theory that Google is only paying attention to this comments section and not to the thousands upon thousands of posts taking place inside their support forums.  Afterall, is complaining that the redesign sucks really a support issue?  Make your voice known by visiting the Help Center and dropping a comment via the comments link there.  Clicking this link opens up a sidewiki comment system.  Make sure you are signed into your google account when leaving a comment.

So what are the problems with Google News?

Tailored News – Google said the new redesign is “tailored to your interests” aka “news for you”.  Here’s the thing…I don’t want news tailored to my interests.  I want unedited and unfiltered news.  The reason I liked Google News in the first place was because I didn’t have paid sponsors results jockying to the front of the page.  I could read liberal and conservative news side by side.  I could get one side of the story and the other side of the story.

Now, I get only the side that interests me.  This doesn’t make for a well informed, rounded individual.  In other words, I want to see EVERYTHING and decide what to read…I don’t want that taken away from me at the beginning.

Scrolling – Congratulations Google!  It now takes me 6 pages of scrolling to see the same amount of news I used to be able to read in 2.  Boy I would have loved to be a fly in the wall on the meeting where the ‘stream’ concept was discussed…a big, monsterous fly so that I could have fly puked right on whoever thought it was a good idea.

Google news is now a facebook stream of news.  I don’t want that.  If I wanted a facebook stream of news, I’d create a facebook account and friend all the news agencies out there and wait for the news to stream to me.

It now takes me three to four times longer to read news than it did in the past.  I’m also getting a poor sample of the news.  I’m missing tons of articles I got in the past and headlines don’t pop like they used to.  It’s also HARDER to read when you’re scrolling 5000 lines of text.  For this reason alone the redesign is 20lbs of crap poured into a 10lb bag.

Local News – Local news went from having its own section to having 3 headlines.  Thanks for reducing my local news Google…I really appreciate that.  Good to know that I don’t need to be reading what’s happening right outside my window.

Fast Flip Reduction – Remember when fast flip was 3-4 wide across the bottom of your google news page?  Now it’s 1 article on the small right hand column.  WORTHLESS.  And of course, there is no way to get rid of it from your google news page.

Spotlight – What the heck is this section for?  What do these articles have in them that allows them to have a spotlight shined on them?  Do publications pay Google to be included in this section?  Why can’t I remove this section if I want to?

Most Popular – These articles are the most popular according to whom?  Am I just supposed to trust Google that they are the most popular ones out there?  Do publications pay Google to be included on this section?  Why can’t I remove it?

A good article that includes many of the reasons I discussed above can be found here.

The Squeekiest Wheel?? Alternatives??

So, if we complain en masse, will Google listen?  Does the squeekiest wheel get the most oil?  I hope so.

Until then, I won’t be using Google News. A suitable and tolerable substitution can be found at Ask.com…for those of you saying “Try Bing!” I did and it sucks.  Ask.com’s News Page is simple and doesn’t require me to scroll 40 times just to read news.  Thanks for keeping it simple Ask!  You’ve got a new supporter!

What do you think of the new google news?  Please let me know with a comment below.  The redesign hasn’t been rolled out in all areas yet so you may not see it in your location…however, be warned that it is probably coming.  Hopefully, Google will realize this move is the New Coke Snafu and backtrack to their original design…not because the features they want to implement suck, but because when implementing them, they made reading the news MUCH harder than it should be.

Unity Linux Automates Build Process

The guys over at Unity Linux have created and developed a ‘build server’ that will allow the automation of package building in both 64bit and 32bit flavors.  All the building is done in a chroot and then the package is automatically moved into the ‘Testing’ repository.

Very interesting stuff…much like what rMake does for Conary and Foresight Linux…but applied to RPM’s instead of conary changesets.  Just the same, it’s interesting that such a small team of developers are showing their prowess in development and making strides toward building a robust developer community.

Foresight and Fedora, ClarkConnect Becomes ClearOS

Foresight and Fedora (aka “boots, a fedora remix”)

Last week it was reported by LWN and a few other Linux news sites that Foresight Linux may employ a change of direction…that is, create a spinoff project that places the Conary package manager onto a Fedora Linux base. Michael Johnson, Director of Operating Systems at rPath (which maintains the Conary based package manager Foresight uses) summed up his post nicely:

“I think that Foresight needs to be based on an upstream distro that is regularly fully updated and refreshed, and that is maintained by distro specialists with experience and expertise that is just plain missing within the Foresight development community. That distro needs to be imported into a Conary repository; that will allow Foresight to continue to use Conary to manage the process of building a set of consistent modifications relative to that upstream distro, providing a true rolling release. That would allow Foresight developers to concentrate on only the problems inherent in integrating the very latest development source against a recent base that is relatively close to the basis on which the software is maintained.”

Michael also said that it made sense to do this based on Fedora because Foresight is very Fedora-like in filesystem and the way that things are setup and handled in the guts of the operating system (paraphrasing from what I remember of IRC discussion).  Also, in a comment on the LWN thread, Michael states that Foresight, if spinning off with Fedora, would still make use of “Conary, rMake, rBuilder, rBuild, and other rPath technology” and would still use Conary as its package manager which means…it wouldn’t leverage rpm and yum to keep things up to date on it.

An independent project that Foresight maintains sounds like a HUGE undertaking…(even though I’m assured repeatedly by developers from Foresight that it won’t be because it’s “automatic”).  I’ve seen automagic things in the past that won’t cause a lot of work turn out to be quite a bit of work-that-is-not-work.  I find this especially odd when the main complaint is that there aren’t enough OS specialists around…it sounds a bit too large to undertake.  This project actually sounds like it possibly would usurp Foresight Main (Foresight Proper…Foresight Linux…whatever you call it) which is based on the stable rPath Linux and not on cutting edge Fedora like the “boots remix” would be.  Therein lies the problem.  The”boots, a fedora remix” would consistently be ahead of Foresight in development if the project is started and makes progress.  Foresight will continually lag behind it.  Can a 100% guarantee be given that Foresight can snipe packages from “boots, a fedora remix” that would always work?  If not, what does Foresight gain by maintaining the project/spinoff?

I think Foresight won’t be able to maintain an independent project based on Fedora along side of the main Foresight Linux project.  Sure, they may be able to at first…but then what happens when things break?  Is one person responsible? 2? more than 2?  I think instead of having a separate project, Foresight might want to completely base off of Fedora.  This topic is extremely unpopular with Foresight developers though.

Whether or not Foresight adopts “boots a Fedora remix”  is yet to be decided.  It will be set before the Foresight Linux Council at their next meeting.  Hopefully, they take into consideration the amount of manpower a separate project like this would encompass and maybe consider the benefits of adopting Fedora completely as a base for Foresight.

On a similar note, António Meireles, a lead developer for Foresight Linux, has posted what direction he would like to see for Foresight Linux 3…the future major release for Foresight.  With improved underlying architecture that is more inline with Fedora…he may be looking along the same lines that my post here is.  Whatever the case may be, it’s obvious that Foresight is starting to show a flurry of both interest and activity which is a benefit to it.

So where does this leave Fedora?  They’ll benefit from having a lot of knowledgeable developers in Foresight and a few engineers from rPath working with a Fedora based project.  Foresight has a great upstream relationship with the projects it encompasses…like Gnome and rPath.  I would imagine this continued professionalism and cooperation will continue should Foresight base on Fedora.

ClarkConnect Becomes ClearOS

In other news, some of you may or may not know that ClarkConnect will become ClearOS and will be completely open source.  The Clear Foundation will be sponsoring the development of ClearOS which is ClarkConnect re-branded with improvements.  See the full announcement hereAlso, a Forum Announcement Here.  This brings a lot to the table including renewed commitments to documentation, community, and the operating system as a whole.  The change is set to happen in the late part of 2009.

So what does this have to do with Yet Another Linux Blog?  A few years ago, I wrote a review of ClarkConnect 3.2 for home users.  It was well received and still gets many hits even today.  Since I’ve used ClarkConnect since version 2.1 and continue to use it today for my home network…who better to take a look at how ClearOS will measure up?

With this in mind, I contacted the guys over at the Clear Foundation and they agreed to let me blog a bit about some of the changes and improvements that will be happening with ClearOS over the next few months.  So look for more exclusive information from ClearOS in the near future.  They’ve also asked if I’d be interested in helping out with some community endeavors they will have going for ClarkConnect and ClearOS users.  Exciting stuff!  ClarkConnect has really needed this shot in the arm for about the last 2 versions…they lost a couple of really good websites with FAQ’s on them.  It’ll be great to get the community involved with this fantastic Home Server distribution.

The New Planet Unity

Some of you may have noticed that Planet Unity got a face lift recently. I took a page from Linux Mint and their planet page and grabbed Gregarius which is a feed reader that aggregates your feeds into a central feed and has some really nice display options including tags for individual feeds.

advanced search
advanced search

This gives us a great opportunity to organize our developer blog feeds and developer resources for the end readers to drill down to the information that is important TO YOU. You’ll be able to search through feeds using the search function on planet or click on tags to display similar content.

So not only is this a new look, it’s a whole new set of features and functions:

  • Supports RDF, RSS, ATOM feeds
  • Imports and exports OPML
  • AJAX powered tagging of feeds and items
  • Supports themes and plugins
  • Search in your feeds
  • Basic i18n support
  • Committed to web standards: renders XHTML/CSS
  • Gregarius is FREE software and is released under the GPL

Now not all of these features and functions matter to end users, but they do give Unity Linux developers an opportunity to provide you with a good planet experience…that is, getting the most information in the least amount of time with the least effort!

Look for more great improvements soon!  We’re working furiously all the time to make this the best Linux core out there!