Ubuntu will not offer cross-platform apps as soon as it had hoped.
Canonical had raised hopes that its plan for Ubuntu to span PCs and mobile devices would be realised with the upcoming Ubuntu 14.04 release, providing a write-once, run-on-many template similar to that planned by Google for its Chrome OS and Android app convergence.
This is already possible on paper and the infrastructure is in place on smartphone and tablet versions of Ubuntu through its new Unity 8 user interface.
However, Canonical has decided to postpone the rollout of Unity 8 for desktop machines, citing security concerns, and it will now not appear along with the Mir display server this coming autumn.
This will apply only to apps in the Ubuntu store, and in the true spirit of open source, anyone choosing to step outside that ecosystem will be able to test the converged Ubuntu before then.
Ubuntu community manager Jono Bacon told Ars Technica, “We don’t plan on shipping apps in the new converged store on the desktop until Unity 8 and Mir lands.
“The reason is that we use app insulation to (a) run apps securely and (b) not require manual reviews (so we can speed up the time to get apps in the store). With our plan to move to Mir, our app insulation doesn’t currently insulate against X apps sniffing events in other X apps. As such, while Ubuntu SDK apps in click packages will run on today’s Unity 7 desktop, we don’t want to make them readily available to users until we ship Mir and have this final security consideration in place.
“Now, if a core-dev or motu wants to manually review an Ubuntu SDK app and ship it in the normal main/universe archives, the security concern is then taken care of with a manual review, but we are not recommending this workflow due to the strain of manual reviews.”
As well as the aforementioned security issues, there are still concerns that cross-platform apps don’t look quite as good on the desktop as native desktop versions and the intervening six months will be used to polish the user experience.
Getting the holistic experience right is essential for Ubuntu in order to attract OEMs to the converged operating system. Attempts to crowdfund its own Ubuntu handset fell short of its ambitious $20m target, despite raising $10.2 million, the single largest crowdfunding total to date.
Samsung has joined Google, Mellanox, Nvidia and other tech companies as part of IBM’s OpenPower Consortium. The OpenPower Consortium is working toward giving developers access to an expanded and open set of server technologies to improve data centre hardware using chip designs based on the IBM Power architecture.
Last summer, IBM announced the formation of the consortium, following its decision to license the Power architecture. The OpenPower Foundation, the actual entity behind the consortium, opened up the Power architecture technology, including specs, firmware and software under a license. Firmware is offered as open source. Originally, OpenPower was the brand of a range of System p servers from IBM that utilized the Power5 CPU. Samsung’s products currently utilize both x86 and ARM-based processors.
The intention of the consortium is to develop advanced servers, networking, storage and GPU-acceleration technology for new products. The four priority technical areas for development are system software, application software, open server development platform and hardware architecture. Along with its announcement of Samsung’s membership, the organization said that Gordon MacKean, Google’s engineering director of the platforms group, will now become chairman of the group. Nvidia has said it will use its graphics processors on Power-based hardware, and Tyan will be releasing a Power-based server, the first one outside IBM.
Intel has decided that some of its budget Bay Trail parts have been out evolved and flung them into a tar pit. According to CPU World the parts first appeared in September. Intel released budget Bay Trail systems on a chip for mobile and desktop markets, under Celeron and Pentium brands.
They were manufactured on 22nm technology, and featured such enhancements as greater number of CPU cores, higher clock speeds, beefed up graphics unit, not to mention an out-of-order microarchitecture, that improved per-clock CPU performance by up to 30 per cent faster compared to their predecessors. With this performance goodness it is a little surprising the Intel has decided that all the all Bay Trail SoCs will be discontinued in a matter of a few months. Details of the planned discontinuation were published this week by Intel in several Product Change Notification documents.
The Desktop Pentium J2850, along with mobile Celeron N2810 and Pentium N3510 are already End of Lifed and its last orders will be in two weeks, on February 11. The chips will ship until April 25, 2014. Also retired are mobile Celeron N2806, N2815, N2820, N2920, and Pentium N3520. Their EOL date is April 11, 2014, and they will ship until May 30, 2014. On August 22, 2014, Intel is going to discontinue Celeron J1750, J1850, N2805 and N2910. The “J” models are desktop processors, and the “N” are mobile ones. There is no word on Z-series Bay Trail-T parts, none appear to be EOL’d at this time.
Furthermore, on the same date Intel will retire Core i7-3940XM Extreme Edition, and boxed and tray versions of Core i7-3840QM and i7-3740QM CPUs. The last shipment date for the Celerons and Core i7s is February 6, 2015.
IBM has detailed plans to apply its Watson supercomputer the critical development issues facing Africa.
The machine is capable of holding more intelligent conversations than most Big Brother contestants, and in 2011 it beat human contestants on the US TV game show Jeopardy.
However, in Africa it will be used to help solve the pressing problems facing the continent such as agricultural patterns and famine relief.
The initiative, named Project Lucy after the earliest human remains discovered on the continent, will take 10 years and is expected to cost $100m.
“I believe it will spur a whole era of innovation for entrepreneurs here,” IBM CEO Ginni Rometty told delegates at a conference on Wednesday.
“Data… needs to be refined. It will determine undisputed winners and losers across every industry.”
The technology will be used to find ways to enable the developing world to leapfrog over stages of development that have hitherto been too expensive.
One example cited was Nigeria, where two companies have already committed to use Project Lucy to analyse the poorly maintained road system and determine project priorities for repair.
IBM recently announced that it will invest $1bn to spin off Watson into a separate business unit, however this could be quite a gamble as Reuters reported that although Watson has proved to be a quantum leap, it has yet to make any significant money for the company, netting less than $100m in the past three years.
Tokyo-based investment fund Japan Industrial Partners (JIP) will operate the Vaio PC brand under a newly established firm and initially sell PCs in Japan only.
In another reform aimed at bolstering its restructuring efforts, Sony also said it would turn its beleaguered TV business into a subsidiary.
The moves come as Sony said it now expects a net loss of $1.1 billion for the year to the end of March, a reversal of its October profit forecast.
Vaio, which Sony introduced in 1996, looks set to vanish from most markets, at least for short term, as the new company will initially concentrate on selling consumer and corporate PCs in Japan. Whether or not Sony will continue to produce products under the Vaio brand remains to be seen, Sony said.
Although Sony is selling its PC business, it will continue to produce tablet computers, part of its renewed focus on mobile devices including smartphones.
Sony did not put a price on the sale. Sony will take a 5% stake in the new firm, it said.
Sony will stop making and selling PCs after its 2014 Spring lineup launch, but about 250 to 300 Sony staff, including some from a subsidiary that produces TV sets, cameras and computers at factories in Japan, will be hired by the new company, which is to be based at the hub of Sony’s current PC business in Japan’s Nagano Prefecture.
Meanwhile, Sony said it will turn its TV business, which has faced a decade of losses, into a wholly owned subsidiary by July 2014.
Libreoffice 4.2 is out and is a major upgrade release.
The popular alternative to Microsoft Office has been retooled to increase compatibility with that expensive proprietary productivity applications suite, including compatibility with Visio and Publisher files.
In addition to a much improved formula process for its spreadsheet application, Libreoffice 4.2 also includes a new startup screen and improved round trip compatibility for newer formats such as .docx.
Java accessibility features are being phased out in favour of the IBM IAccessibility2 package, which will supercede the Java version in future editions.
iOS users can take advantage of the Impress Remote Control feature that allows users to control presentations from their smartphones. This feature has been available on Android for some time but now Apple fans can use it too.
Libreoffice claims that this is the biggest recoding of its office suite yet and says that it now offers better integration with Windows 7 and Windows 8, with documents grouped on the taskbar and quickview thumbnails.
The news comes after UK cabinet minister Francis Maude recently announced that Parliament will move towards using open source software for its documents, and said that interoperability improvements such as those Libreoffice has introduced will be key to ensuring that all areas of government communicate a lot more effectively than they do right now.
Libreoffice has also made contributing to continued development of the open source office suite even easier with a new code submission and review portal known as Gerrit.
Chip making giant Qualcomm Inc has purchased a patent portfolio from Hewlett-Packard Co, including those of Palm Inc and its iPaq smartphone, in a move that will bulk up HP’s offerings to handset makers and other licensees.
The portfolio comprises about 1,400 granted patents and pending patent applications from the United States and about 1,000 granted patents and pending patent applications from other countries, including China, England, Germany, Japan and South Korea.
The San Diego-based chipmaker did not say how much it paid for the patents.
The majority of Qualcomm’s profits come from licensing patents for its ubiquitous CDMA cellphone technology and other technology related to mobile devices. Instead of licensing patents individually, handset vendors, carriers and other licensees pay royalties to Qualcomm in return for access to a broad portfolio of intellectual property.
The patents bought from HP, announced in a release on Thursday, cover technologies that include fundamental mobile operating system techniques.
They include those that HP acquired when it bought Palm Inc, an early player in mobile devices, in 2010 and Bitfone in 2006. HP tablets made using Palm’s webOS operating system failed to catch on.
“There’s nothing left at Palm that HP could get any use out of so it’s better to sell the patents, which are always valuable to Qualcomm,” said Ed Snyder, an analyst with Charter Equity Research. “They have to keep that bucket full.”
The new patents will not lead to increased royalty rates for existing Qualcomm licensees, a Qualcomm spokeswoman said.
Last year, HP sold webOS, which it received as part of the $1.2 billion Palm acquisition, to South Korea’s LG Electronics Inc.
Taiwanese PC maker Acer reported worse-than-expected quarterly loss. Actually, it had been expected to be bad, but no one had predicted it would be this bad.
For the fourth quarter, the world’s No.4 PC vendor reported a net loss of $254 million. The company had posted a worse-than-expected net loss of $446 million in the third quarter and a $112.31 million loss in the same quarter of 2012. In short, its troubles have been getting worse for more than two years.
At the end of last year the company named former Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co sales executive Jason Chen as its new CEO and launched a new initiative to integrate hardware, software and cloud services. It will be a while before the new broom can sweep out two years of doom, so many are expecting more doom to emerge. Acer relied too heavily on making low-end laptops, which weakened its brand, it also missed the shift to mobile.
Acer’s senior executives are taking a 30 per cent voluntary salary cut starting January, the company said in a statement.
The openSUSE Forums were hijacked today by a Pakistani hacker who goes by handle H4x0r HuSsY. Apparently the hacker exploited the vulnerability in vBulletin 4.2.1 software which SUSE uses to host the forum. The problem is that the hack revealed that the openSUSE Forums were based on proprietary forum software.
The openSUSE team has denied that the users’ passwords were compromised by the hack.
“The credentials for your openSUSE login are not saved in our application databases as we use a single-sign-on system (Access Manager from NetIQ) for all our services. This is a completely separate system and it has not been compromised by this crack,” the team said.
What the cracker reported as compromised passwords where indeed random automatically set strings that are in no way connected to your the passwords.
While it was good that none of the user data was compromised open sourcers are scratching their collective heads and wondering if the attack would have happened if the outfit had been eating its own dogfood and used some nice open source technologies.
Japan’s Sony Corp has changed its mind and decided not to sell its lithium-ion battery unit. Instead Sony has decided to take a chance at turning the business around with a weak yen and growing demand for smart phone batteries.
In addition to a weak yen, which can boost overseas earnings, the battery unit is also seeing increased demand for some of its new products, the Nikkei business daily reported.
For the past two years Sony had been planning to offload the unit, which was a pioneer in making lithium-ion batteries for computers and mobile devices but has struggled recently against cheaper South Korean rivals.
A government turnaround fund tried to broker a sale of the battery business to a Nissan Motor Co Ltd and NEC Corp joint venture earlier this year.
However, talks have stalled and Sony has now told the turnaround fund that it will hold on to the battery unit and develop it as a core business, the Nikkei reported, citing unidentified sources.
Sony, which last year sold its chemical business to the government turnaround fund, is trying to revive the fortunes of its consumer electronics business by focusing on cameras,gaming and mobile devices.