by Jeff Smith
Sorry about last week folks, I missed my deadline. Did ya miss me?
There's lots going on lately that may be of interest to you. If you recall, awhile back I wrote about Dell making the uber-smart decision to start selling PCs pre-loaded with Ubuntu Linux. Well it seems that having this powerhouse seller on the Linux team has really turned some heads. Perhaps you recall me complaining about ATI's driver support for Linux? Well, they are still a little shoddy on their support for their older cards, but they've recently committed themselves to providing open source hardware specifications for their newer graphics cards. In fact, a new driver set has already been released. Who knows? Perhaps they read my article! Or maybe it has something to do with Dell saying that they wouldn't be buying from hardware manufacturers that didn't support open source drivers. Hmmm... nah, it was definitely the article.
What this means to Linux users is that there are now three different graphics card makers (ATI, Nvidia, Intel) who are committed to competing for your graphics card slot. And competition isn't a bad thing at all. Now, perhaps if I write a scathing article about Wireless card makers...
Another big thing that is happening shortly is that Ubuntu is about to release their next version, Ubuntu 7.10, codenamed Gutsy Gibbon. This new version promises to have a lot of new features for those of you with Linux compatible accelerated graphics cards. If you wanna see what I'm talking about, go to www.youtube.com and search for Compiz Fusion. Yeah, its just that cool.
Ubuntu releases a new version about every 6 months. In fact, 7.10 means 2007, 10th month (October). With each new version, the code names go up a letter. The earliest I'm familiar with was 6.04 Dapper Drake, and 6.10 Edgy Eft after it. I'm currently writing on 7.04 Feisty Fawn. After Gutsy Gibbon, the next version will be 8.04 Hardy Heron. Personally I was hoping they'd call it Hungry Hippo, but you can't have everything.
Of course, updating to a new operating system every 6 months would be a real pain in the rear, except that it really isn't. Starting with Feisty, they've made it so that you can just update your existing Ubuntu installation to the newest version quite easily. No need to re-install, and all your personal files stay put! Now isn't that thoughtful?
If you've bought a new computer recently, you're likely dealing with learning a whole new operating system... Microsoft Vista. While Vista has a slew of exciting new features, many users are expressly not happy with it, claiming that it is so bloated that it makes their brand new systems seem sluggish. So many have complained, in fact, that a few of the bigger PC companies have quietly begun to offer" downgrade" disks that will let you replace Vista with Windows XP. So if you're struggling with Vista, or you're aggravated that your high powered new PC doesn't feel too high powered, you should contact your PC's maker and see if they offer a downgrade.
But getting away from computer geekdom for a moment, the thing that I am definitely MOST excited about is the new Radiohead album coming out on October 10th.
I'm really excited by this for many reasons, not least of all being that I'm a HUGE fan. But even better, currently Radiohead is without a label. They are not under contract to any music companies. Of course, being a world-class band, they would have no problems finding a new contract if they wanted to, but they've instead opted on a new way to do things.
Starting October 10th, they're going to let their fans decide on how much they want to pay for downloads of the album. If you only want to pay a penny, you only pay a penny. For the true fan, there's also a boxed set priced at around $80 that includes two vinyl records, two cd's and various artwork and fan pleasing items.
So, you say, this band is giving away their music, so what? Well, when you look at the fact that the RIAA (Recording Industries of America Association) just won a lawsuit against a private citizen for over $200,000.00, and you realize that most of today's music is more about monetary notes than musical notes, it is really refreshing to see a band (my fave band) taking the "industry" out of the music industry.
So, even if you're not a fan... even if you have never heard Radiohead before in your life, I urge you to go to www.radiohead.com and download the new album and give it a listen. And while you do that, keep in mind that what you're hearing is the sound of change.
Next week I begin discussing wireless networking!
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