Best post on what’s new in GNOME 3.8 comes from OMG Ubuntu!

This is the new Classic mode in GNOME 3.8. It should bring back many of the GNOME 2.x comforts while retaining features of GNOME Shell for those who want to use them. (Image courtesy of OMGUbuntu!)

Want to know what’s new in the GNOME 3.8 desktop environment? This OMG Ubuntu! post is the best look at the best new features in the desktop that I use every day (though I’m still in GNOME 3.4.2, as that is what Debian is shipping).

I like the idea that I can tap my Frequent apps in a tab and not have to put too much in the dock on the left side of the screen. I like GNOME Shell best when I only have about seven or eight items in the dock — they look bigger (and better).

I’ll be looking for the mentioned improvements in the Documents app. I like the idea of editing Google Drive documents through the app instead of in a browser. Maybe it’ll work.

I also am eager to see all the promised tweaks that are aimed at making the GNOME Shell experience better. I’m not unhappy in 3.4, but I expect a lot out of 3.8.

The application view in GNOME 3.8 has a Frequent Apps tab that remembers what you use most so you can get to it more quickly. (Image courtesy OMGUbuntu!)

Save toner (but maybe not paper) by dumping Arial for Century Gothic

CenturyGothicSpecimen.svg200px-ArialMTsp.svgPetter Reinholdtsen reports on how large organizations can save thousands of dollars in toner costs by changing from Arial to Century Gothic for their typeface in printed documents.

Century Gothic is a “thinner” typeface and hence uses less toner. That’s where the savings comes in.

But Century Gothic is wider than Arial and for that reason probably uses more paper.

You win a little, lose a little, I guess.

In my case, it’s the first time I’ve even thought about how one typeface uses less or more toner than another.

If you’re like me, you probably print a whole lot less than you used to, and you’re saving a whole lot on toner and paper. Printing isn’t going away, but it’s certainly happening less than it once did.

Secure boot and restricted boot in the eyes of Matthew Garrett

One of the most important people in the Linux world regarding secure boot is Matthew Garrett, recently of Linux giant Red Hat, now with Nebula, who writes about the nuances between secure boot and restricted boot in this post.

Here is a meaty quote:

The x86 market remains one where users are able to run whatever they want, but the x86 market is shrinking. Users are purchasing tablets and other ARM-based ultraportables. Some users are using phones as their primary computing device. In contrast to the x86 market, Microsoft’s policies for the ARM market restrict user freedom. Windows Phone and Windows RT devices are required to boot only signed binaries, with no option for the end user to disable the signature validation or install their own keys. While the underlying technology is identical, this differing set of default policies means that Microsoft’s ARM implementation is better described as Restricted Boot. The hardware vendors and Microsoft define which software will run on these systems. The owner gets no say.

And, unfortunately, Microsoft aren’t alone. Apple, the single biggest vendor in this market, implement effectively identical restrictions. Some Android vendors provide unlockable bootloaders, but others (either through personal preference or at the behest of phone carriers) lock down their platforms.

I’m no expert on UEFI or secure boot. I do know that the traditional BIOS has had its day and then some, and for that reason I believe that UEFI is a step forward that we should all welcome.

The whole secure-boot part of the equation is more troubling, since it’s Microsoft in control of the keys — literally — and it seems both complicated and cost-prohibitive to strike out on one’s own with secure-boot keys.

That’s where guys like Matthew Garrett come in: He was untangling this for Red Hat and hopefully will continue to do so — and to keep us up to date in his blog.

The official Debian Project blog is here:

Francesca Ciceri announces on her blog that the Debian Project now has its own blog at

The blog is called Bits From Debian, and for those who care about such things, it is built using the Python-based Pelican static website generator. (More on Pelican in the docs.) (Francesca blogs with the venerable ikiwiki engine.)

As Francesca writes:

The idea is to make it the voice of the project, in addition to the official press releases and DPN, our bi-weekly newsletter.

I’m really excited about it not only because it will help us to communicate better with our users in letting them know what is going on, but also because it’s something we long waited (and planned) for.

Perl, far from dead, is very much alive

Those who use the Perl programming language say it’s nowhere near dead, extremely expressive and ready to solve just about any problem, as seen in this Linux Advocates article.

Perl guru (and “Learning Perl” author) Randal Schwartz says in the comments:

Not dead. More active than ever. Smaller slice in a bigger pie, but more people absolutely working with Perl than ever. More new releases. More CPAN submissions. Cooler code. And Perl6 in the form of Rakudo is actually mostly usable now.


bacon_audoenceThis morning, the inexplicably named after a tasty breakfast sandwich Ubuntu Community Manager, Jono Bacon, sought to quell fears that UN peace keeping forces may be called upon to intervene in the Ubuntu Developer Community.

Speaking at a press conference held at Canonical’s recently completed secure compound, Mr. Bacon defended his regeme’s position to the few reporters able to squeeze into the bomb proof bunker. “Gentlemen, community community community, communitze community awesome community Unity community interface awesome”. Helpfully, an interpreter, fluent in English and Communitymanagerese, was appointed to translate Mr.Bacon’s statement into comprehensible bollocks. In digest , the statement laid out the regeme’s holy mission to create confusing launchers and shove menu and window commands where nobody could find them, was given to them directly by God, and that the forces of decadent interfaces with their imperialist ideology of giving people something that works without having to stir the mouse round the…

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Sticky Valentines

Here I am interviewing a Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue official.

I get asked two questions several times a week, and I brush off both with a verbal swat.

One — because I’m in my late 20s, I suppose – is when are you getting married? And the other, because it seems like small talk, is why did you leave the newspaper?

I could answer both with a single word: Money.

But I usually deflect the marriage subject, wrongly justifying it as an acceptable passing question, with a practical reason: I’m not eager to have children. And I answer the news question with something to which my audience can nod along: “It didn’t seem like a sustainable career path.”

But that’s a cold and detached answer. I don’t feel cold and detached about news, and I only give that response under the assumption that people don’t want to hang around for the full story – ironically, the same reason newspapers aren’t really working anymore.


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