Happy New Year! It's that time (as of now!) for the UK, and since the Slashdot backend operates in Greenwich Mean Time, that seems as good a reason as any to welcome 2012 now instead of local midnight for any of the various U.S. time zones. Everyone has a different take on how to rank the events of the last year; read on below for a few notes on some of the goings on of the past 31,536,000 seconds (give or take). The list is pretty arbitrary, drawn from the thousand-ish stories that hit the Slashdot page in that time; please say in the comments what news hit you the hardest this year.
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
An anonymous reader writes "Phoronix has benchmarked the Texas Instruments PandaBoard ES and compared its performance against Intel Atom N270, Atom Z530, Pentium M, and Core Duo T2400 processors. The OMAP4660 dual-core 1.2GHz ARM Cortex-A9 development board generally loses out to Intel's older competition, but does manage to win in ray-tracing and other tests, and is advantageous on a per-Watt basis."
QwkHyenA writes "I've recently cancelled my Linux Magazine subscription because they went paperless. I know, I'm a heartless geek and should be 'shunned,' but I enjoy the unplugged sensation of reading paper periodicals. What sort of magazines are out there that still are delivered via USPS that will scratch my Engineering, Coder, System Administrator and 3D Printer itch?"
First time accepted submitter parkejr writes "I started off building a media library a few years ago with an old PC running Ubuntu. Folders for photos, ogg vorbis music from my CD collection, and x264 encoded mkv movies. I have a high spec machine for encoding, but over the years I've moved the server to a bigger case, with 8 TB of disk capacity, and reverted back to Debian, but still running with the same AMD Sempron processor and 2GB RAM. It's working well, it's also the family mail server, and the kids are starting to use it for network storage, and it runs both link and twonkyserver, but my disks are almost full, and there are no more internal slots. The obvious option to me is to add in a couple of SATA PCI cards, to give me 4 more drives, and buy an externally powered enclosure, but that doesn't feel very elegant. I'm a bit of an amateur, so I'd like some advice. Should I start looking at a rack system? Something that can accommodate, say, 10 3.5" drives (I'm thinking long term, and some redundancy)? Also, what about location — I could run some cat6 to the garage and move it out of the house, in case noise is an issue. Finally, what about file format, file system, and OS/software? I'm currently running with ext3 and Debian Squeeze. Happy with my audio encoding choice, but not sure about x264 and mkv. I'd also consider different media server software, too. Any comments appreciated."
xmas2003 writes "Over at Linux.com, Zonker writes about Alek's Controllable Christmas Lights for Celiac Disease. This annual Internet tradition uses a hi/low-tech combo of LAMP'ed Redhat Web Servers, a 7+ year old Thinkpad running Ubuntu for the X10 control, and an old-school webpage design that could be politely described as Web 0.0 — wait until you see the animated cursor — D'OH! The site is free (and totally fun) as it also raises awareness and donations for Celiac Disease — over $70,000 to the University of Maryland. Nifty pictures of the crazy christmas display can be seen on the Christmas Blog (notice Clifford Stoll's The Cuckoo's Egg in post #220) plus watch videos of it in action with comedic history. Nothing quite says Christmas like a giant, inflatable HULK wearing a Santa Hat... along with three wise men of Elmo, SpongeBob, and Homer Simpson. The Slashdot Effect of turning 21,000 Christmas lights ON & OFF this evening should provide quite a Christmas Eve show to Alek's neighbors... and also the International Space Station."
cortex writes "XDA developers is reporting on the release of a new smart phone which runs a forked version of Google's Android operating system: 'Dell and Baidu, the Chinese search giant with over 80% marketshare in its home-country, unveiled the Streak Pro on Tuesday (via Computerworld). The device has a 4.3 AMOLED screen with 960×540 resolution and packs a 1.5 GHz dual-core Qualcomm processor. Most notably, however, is the operating system it runs: a forked Android version dubbed Baidu Yi, which replaces Google's services with those of Baidu.' How will this impact Google's support for Android and open source in general?'
paxcoder writes "Gnome Shell ... is different. Very much so. The fallback was inadequate. I suspect that many people, like me, turned to the alternatives. My choice was LXDE, which worked ok, until (lx-)panel broke in the unstable branch of the distro that I use. Tired of using the terminal to run stuff, I replaced the standard panel with the one from Xfce. That made me realize that we really don't need a packaged desktop environment, there are pieces ready for assembly. If you customize your graphical environment, what elements do you use? Which window manager, file manager, panel(etc.) would you recommend? Do you have a panel with a hardware usage monitors, how do you switch between workspaces? Anything cool we might not know about?"
An anonymous reader writes "Clement Lefebvre, the Linux Mint founder, has forked Gnome 3 and named it Cinnamon. Mint has experimented with extensions to Gnome in the latest release of their operating system, but in order to make the experience they are aiming for really work, they needed an actual fork. The goal of this fork is to use the improved Gnome 3 internals and put a more familiar Gnome 2 interface on it."
ghostoftiber writes "From the article: 'Tim Bird, a Sony engineering veteran and the chair of the Architecture Group of the Linux Foundation's CE Workgroup, has announced a new concerted effort to get Android's changes to the Linux kernel back into the mainline Linux kernel tree.' Android has been using Linux 2.6.x for its devices since its release, with patches from Google. To date they haven't been merged back into the kernel mainline but existed on kernel.org. Some of the features such as wakelocks would help with Linux tablet projects, but other features aren't fully realized and support remains spotty. The radio interface layer ... still exists as an ATI/Nvidia-esque shim loader scheme with modem 'drivers' being nothing more than ihex files loaded by open code."
Thinkcloud writes "In an open letter, the Apache Software Foundation has made its plans for OpenOffice clear, including an Apache-branded OpenOffice suite targeted at developers coming next year." From The H: "The ASF says it does not want to force any vision on the ODF community noting that 'it is impossible to agree upon a single vision for all participants, Apache OpenOffice does not seek to define a single vision, nor does it seek to be the only player' in the large ODF ecosystem. Instead, it wishes to offer a neutral 'collaboration opportunity' and notes that its permissive licensing and development model are 'widely recognised as one of the best ways to ensure open standards, such as ODF, gain traction and adoption.'"
jrepin writes with this quote from an article at The H: "The Amarok development team has released version 2.5 of its open source music player and organizer, code-named 'Earth Moving.' Among the changes highlighted by the developers are re-written support for USB mass storage devices, GPodder.net podcast synchronization and an integrated Amazon MP3 store. The GPodder.net support includes the ability to browse directly from Amarok through the list of recommended podcasts on GPodder.net. Users of playlists on Amarok will find the new playlist functionality in 2.5 such as the ability to use formatted strings in Playlist layout items as prefixes and suffixes, dragging and dropping tracks in an empty area in the list of playlists to create a new playlist, and, in that same empty area, the addition of a new 'create new playlist' action."
aglider writes "Phoronix has an interesting piece of news about a new emerging desktop environment. And it's Qt based! From the project home page: 'Razor-Qt is an advanced, easy-to-use, and fast desktop environment based on Qt technologies. It has been tailored for users who value simplicity, speed, and an intuitive interface. Unlike most desktop environments, Razor-Qt also works fine with weak machines.' Someone has already tagged Razor-Qt as 'a KDE ripoff.' What we have so far is version 0.4, ... and ... a number of easy ways to install and test it on a few main Linux distributions. Maybe time has come for something really new in the desktop environment arena almost completely occupied by GNOME and KDE." The project site has a few screenshots, and the source is available under a mixture of the GPL and LGPL. It looks pretty pedestrian in its current form, but then XFCE wasn't much to look at in its early stages either.
gbjbaanb writes "TechRadar has gathered a few users and subjected the 3 main Linux desktops to some usability testing for both experienced users and some new to the whole concept." I'm glad to see such ongoing comparisons; they encourage cross-pollination of the best ideas. On the other hand, it's a little bit like trying to determine the "best" dessert; even the most elaborate attempts to find statistical consensus won't answer the question of what's best for any particular user.
jrepin writes "In May 2003, Munich's city council resolved to migrate municipal workstations from Windows to Linux and open source. Munich's LiMux project has announced that it has exceeded its annual target for migrating the city's PCs to its LiMux client. To date in 2011, the project has migrated 9,000 systems; it had originally planned to migrate 8,500 of the 12,000-15,000 PC workstations used by city officials in Munich."
lkcl writes "An initiative by a Community Interest Company Rhombus Tech aims to provide Software (Libre) Developers with a PCMCIA-sized modular computer that could end up in mass-volume products. The reference design mass-volume pricing guide from the SoC manufacturer, for a device with similar capability to the Raspberry Pi, is around $15: 40% less than the $25 Raspberry Pi but for a device with an ARM Cortex A8 CPU 3x times faster than the 700mhz ARM11 used in the Raspberry Pi. GPL Kernel source code is available. A page for community ideas for motherboard designs has also been created. The overall goal is to bring more mass-volume products to market which Software (Libre) Developers have actually been involved in, reversing the trend of endemic GPL violations surrounding ARM-based mass-produced hardware. The Preorder pledge registration is now open (account creation required)." Of course, the Raspberry Pi is not only only much further along, but has recently announced an expansion module (the Gertboard).