CowboyRobot writes "David Chisnall of the University of Cambridge describes how interfacing between languages is increasingly important. You can no longer expect a nontrivial application to be written in a single language. High-level languages typically call code written in lower-level languages as part of their standard libraries (for example, GUI rendering), but adding calls can be difficult. In particular, interfaces between two languages that are not C are often difficult to construct. Even relatively simple examples, such as bridging between C++ and Java, are not typically handled automatically and require a C interface. The problem of interfacing between languages is going to become increasingly important to compiler writers over the coming years."
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sfcrazy writes "Fans of the MATE desktop environment, which is a fork of Gnome 2, will be happy to know that MATE is scheduled to be included in the official Debian repositories. Early 2012, it was requested that MATE be included in said repositories, and almost 2 years later, it appears we're almost there."
jones_supa writes "As can be recalled, Mir didn't make it to the Ubuntu 13.10 release to replace X.org as the display server. Back then it suffered of problems in multi-monitor support, along with other issues. Now it turns out that Canonical's product will not make it even into the next LTS version (14.04) of the Ubuntu desktop. Mir itself would be ready for showtime in the schedule, but there are problems with XMir, which is the X11 compatibility layer that ensures Mir can work with applications built for X. The comments came at the Ubuntu Developer Summit: in an online event Mark Shuttleworth stressed that the 14.04 desktop has to be rock-solid for customers with large-scale deployments, such as educational institutions. In the meantime, you can already try out Mir in your Ubuntu system."
angry tapir writes "MenuetOS is an open source, GUI-equipped, x86 operating system written entirely in assembly language that can fit on a floppy disk (if you can find one). I originally spoke to its developers in 2009. Recently I had a chance to catch up with them to chat about what's changed and what needs to be done before the OS hits version 1.0 after 13 years of work. The system's creator, Ville Turjanmaa, says, 'Timeframe is secondary. It's more important is to have a complete and working set of features and applications. Sometimes a specific time limit rushes application development to the point of delivering incomplete code, which we want to avoid. ... We support USB devices, such [as] storages, printers, webcams and digital TV tuners, and have basic network clients and servers. So before 1.0 we need to improve the existing code and make sure everything is working fine. ... The main thing for 1.0 is to have all application groups available'"
First time accepted submitter VZ writes "The first new stable wxWidgets release in years and the first new major release since 1998 has just been announced. wxWidgets 3.0 now includes official support for Cocoa-based 32 and 64 bit applications under OS X, GTK+ 3 under Unix and has thousands of other improvements." Update: 11/12 01:00 GMT by U L : Clarification: it's been several years since the 2.8 release series, and fifteen years since wxWidgets 2.0.
An anonymous reader writes "John Siracusa at Ars Technica has put together a comprehensive review of Apple's OS X 10.9 Mavericks. This is the first time a major OS X update has been free, and it works on any device that supports Mountain Lion. This suggests Apple is trying to boost adoption rates as high as possible. Siracusa says the following about Apple's move away from skeuomorphic design: 'Mavericks says enough is enough. The leather's gone, the fake pages are gone, the three panes are independently resizable (more or less), even the title bar is bone-stock, and it's boring?' On the other hand, he was a big fan of all the internal optimizations Apple has done, since the energy savings over Mountain Lion are significant. He found a 24% increase in his old MacBook Pro's battery life, and a 30% increase for his new MacBook Air. He also praised the long-needed improvements to multi-monitor support: ' Each attached display is now treated as a separate domain for full-screen windows. Mission Control gestures and keyboard shortcuts will now switch between the desktop and full-screen windows on the display that contains the cursor only, leaving all other displays untouched.' The 24-page review dives deeply into all the other changes in Mavericks, and is worth reading if you're deciding whether or not to upgrade."
An anonymous reader writes "Beginning with version 1.11.0, open source packet analyzer Wireshark is switching its user interface library from GTK+ to Qt. 'Both libraries make it easy for developers [to] write applications that will run on different platforms without having to rewrite a lot of code. GTK+ has had a huge impact on the way Wireshark looks and feels and on its popularity but it doesn't cover our supported platforms as effectively as it should and the situation is getting worse as time goes on.'"
New submitter mjone13 writes "Dave Feldman, in a blog posts, says that the problem Android faces is giving consumers too much choice. He cites several studies which state that consumers generally are unhappier when they have too much choice. 'Catering to all individual preferences creates a bloated, bland product. Not to mention a UI that’s impossible to navigate. Furthermore, people are notoriously bad at identifying what we want. And what we do want is influenced heavily by what we know — our expectations are constrained by our experience.' He then goes on to talk about Android fragmentation, app developer problems and bug issues. Finally he says the people who general prefer the choice Android provides are tinkers similar to gear heads who love tinkering with their car. 'I think many who extol Android’s flexibility fall into the tinkerer category, including some tech bloggers. They love all the ways they can customize their phones, not because they’re seeking some perfect setup, but because they can swap in a new launcher every week. That’s fun for them; but they’ve made the mistake of not understanding how their motivation differs from the rest of us.' Is choice really a problem for Android?" Whether it's a problem depends on what the goals are. Providing a satisfying experience to a bunch of tinkerers is a very different thing from providing a satisfying experience to the multitude of non-tinkerers who buy smartphones.
First time accepted submitter slack_justyb writes "Matthew Garrett, former employee of Red Hat, comments on the current state of XMir and Canonical's recent decision to not ship XMir as the default display server in Ubuntu 13.10. Noting the current issues outstanding in XMir, the features yet to be implemented, the security loopholes, and Intel's recent rejection to support Mir in general. All of this leading Garrett to the conclusion that 'It's clear that XMir has turned into a larger project than Canonical had originally anticipated, but that's hardly surprising.'"
dryriver sends this story from The Guardian: "The introduction of fake zooms, parallax, sliding and other changes in Apple's new iPhone and iPad software has a very real effect on people with vestibular disorders. ... It makes frequent use of zoom and slide animations; the home screen boasts parallax, with icons apparently floating above subtly animating wallpaper. And it's making people sick. Triggers and symptoms vary, but TidePool mobile app developer Jenni Leder's experience is not uncommon. A self-professed power-user, she frequently switches apps; but on iOS 7, this has caused headaches and feelings associated with motion sickness. 'I now have to close my eyes or cover the screen during transitions, which is ridiculous,' she told The Guardian, adding that there's nowhere to hide: 'It's not apps that affect me, but accessing them. Tap a folder and the view zooms in. Tap an app and it's like flying through the icon and landing in that app's micro world — and I'm getting dizzy on the journey there.' Reactions to screen-based systems — especially those utilizing 3D effects — aren't new. Cynthia Ryan, executive director of the Vestibular Disorders Association, says 3D effects can cause 'intense nausea, dizziness and vertigo,' sometimes from general vision problems, but also from visual-vestibular conflict. She added symptoms 'manifest more severely if a viewer already has a disorder of the vestibular system.'"
kthreadd writes "Version 3.10 of the GNOME software collection has been released. New in this release is improved support for Wayland, the upcoming X replacement. The system status menus have been consolidated into one single menu. Many of the applications in GNOME now features header bars instead of title bars, which merges the titlebar and toolbar into a single element and allows applications to offer more dynamic user interfaces. GNOME now also includes an application for searching, browsing and installing applications called Software. Several other new applications have also been added to GNOME including Music, Photos, Notes and Maps."
An anonymous reader writes "Select to copy and middle-click to paste. That's very convenient usability feature associated with UNIX graphical environments. But it is confusing for new users, so the ability to middle-click paste was briefly removed from GNOME 3.10. It was restored few days later, but with clear message: middle-click paste will be permanently removed from next GNOME version." I hope that "we'll defer this change until the next cycle" also means that it's getting re-thought, rather than just delayed.
An anonymous reader writes "One week ahead of the GNOME 3.10 release, all of the basic Wayland support for GNOME has been merged. With today's GNOME Shell 3.9.92 release the Wayland branch was merged and there was also an updated Mutter Wayland release, besides earlier GNOME 3.9.x packages fostering the Wayland support. Fedora 20 is expected to ship with GNOME on Wayland as a technology preview. Additional details about the current GNOME Wayland support are available from the GNOME Wiki."
Dave Girard has written a lengthy description of how to design the best possible operating system for creative pursuits (video editing, photo manipulation, and sound editing, in particular) — at least the the best possible one he can imagine by selecting from the best tools and behaviors that he finds in Mac OS X, Windows, and (mostly Ubuntu) Linux. He makes a compelling case for the OS (or at least a GUI on top of it) having baked-in support for a wide range of image formats and codecs, and makes some pointed jabs along the way at what each of these three big players do wrong.
sfcrazy writes "Kubuntu is one of those few GNULinux based distributions which brings the two leading technologies together — Ubuntu and KDE. There are quite a lot of businesses which are using this combination in their set-up. Until now there was no professional support available for Kubuntu users. To fill this gap the Kubuntu community has launched commercial support for businesses, organizations and individuals. The Kubuntu team is partnering with Emerge Open to offer this service which is called 'Kubuntu Commercial Support provided by Emerge Open'."
poofmeisterp writes "It's about time. Windows 8.1 will be released to end users in October, and RTM is being released now: 'Windows 8.1, codenamed "Blue," is introducing a number of changes designed to make the new operating system more palatable to current Windows users. Windows 8.1 is adding a Start Button, a boot-straight-to-desktop option; the ability to unpin all Metro apps; built-in tutorials; an improved Windows Store and a host of other consumer- and business-focused features. Microsoft launched its one and only Windows 8.1 consumer preview test build in late June.'"
Kagetsuki writes "While grainy GIF images can have entertaining uses, they aren't the ideal animated image format due to lack of full color support and an alpha channel [for varied transparency]. Animated PNG doesn't have these faults and has been available and incorporated in quite a few browsers since roughly 2004. Lack of tools and recognition has hurt adoption, so to remedy this there is a campaign on Kickstarter to create an Open Source, high quality Animated PNG [APNG] conversion library and GUI Editor based on the APNG Assembler tool 'apngasm.' Even the primary goal includes libraries/modules for C/C++ and Ruby along with a cross platform GUI authoring tool. Aside from supporting the project simply using APNG willl help raise interest and support in the standard and bring us one step closer to a world with cleaner animated images."
jrepin writes "Around a year ago, a school in the southeast of England, Westcliff High School for Girls Academy (WHSG), began switching its student-facing computers to Linux, with KDE providing the desktop software. The school's Network Manager, Malcolm Moore, contacted us at the time. Now, a year on, he got in touch again to let us know how he and the students find life in a world without Windows." And they didn't even meet much resistance: "Younger students accept it as normal. Older students can be a little less flexible. There are still a few that are of the view that I can get rid of Microsoft Word when I can pry it from them. Staff are the same (although it is surprisingly not age-related). Some are OK and some hate it. Having said that, an equal number hate Windows 7 and nobody liked Windows 8. I think the basic problem is that Windows XP is a victim of its own success. It works fairly well from a user point of view, it's been around practically forever, and people don't like change, even some students, oddly."
First time accepted submitter chris.kohlhepp writes "The Emacs editor just got consolidated package management with "Feline Herd", offering 2000+ packages under one roof. No struggle with convoluted keyboard shortcuts — only easy GUI navigation via toolbar buttons! Every conceivable programming language is handled. Cuts the Emacs learning curve to a minimum for learners."
Travis Goodspeed has authored a blog post detailing his method of tracking low-earth-orbit satellites. Starting with an old Felcom 82B dish made for use on maritime vessels, he added motors to move it around and a webcam-based homemade calibration system. "For handling the radio input and controlling the motors, I have a BeagleBone wired into a USB hub. These are all mounted on the trunk of the assembly inside of the radome, sending data back to a server indoors. ... In order to operate the dish, I wanted both a flashy GUI and concise scripting, but scripting was the higher priority. Toward that end, I constructed the software as a series of daemons that communicate through a PostgreSQL database on a server inside the house. For example, I can run SELECT * FROM sats WHERE el>0 to select the names and positions of all currently tracked satellites that are above the horizon. To begin tracking the International Space Station if it is in view, I run UPDATE target SET name='ISS';. For predicting satellite locations, I wrote a quick daemon using PyEphem that fetches satellite catalog data from CelesTrak. These positions are held in a database, with duplicates filtered out and positions constantly updated. PyEphem is sophisticated enough to predict in any number of formats, so it's easy to track many of the brighter stars as well as planets and deep-space probes, such as Voyagers 1 and 2."