A while ago you had the chance to ask founder of the GNU Project, and free software advocate, Richard Stallman, about GNU/Linux, free software, and anything else. You can read his answers to a wide range of questions below. As usual, RMS didn't pull any punches.
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OverTheGeicoE writes "TSA has had a preferred traveler program, PreCheck, for a while now. Frequent fliers and other individuals with prior approval from DHS can avoid some minor annoyances of airport security, like removing shoes and light jackets, but not all of the time. TSA likes to be random and unpredictable, so PreCheck participants don't always get the full benefits of PreCheck. Apparently the decision about PreCheck is made when the boarding pass is printed, and a traveler's PreCheck authorization is encoded, unencrypted, on the boarding pass barcode. In theory, one could use a barcode-reading Web site (like this one, perhaps) to translate a barcode into text to determine your screening level before a flight. One might even be able to modify the boarding pass using PhotoShop or the GIMP to, for example, get the screening level of your choice. I haven't been able to verify this information, but I bet Slashdot can. Is TSA's PreCheck system really that easy to game? If you have an old boarding pass lying around, can you read the barcode and verify that the information in TFA is correct?"
CmdrTaco sent in a link to his weblog post looking back on his experience running Slashdot for fifteen years: "For me the story of Slashdot is utterly inseparable from my own life. I built it while still in college: when normal people did their homework or had personal lives, I spent my evenings making icons in The Gimp, crafting perl in vim or writing a new story to share with my friends. I’ll never forget the nights spent tailing the access_log and celebrating a line from microsoft.com or mit.edu with friends like Jeff, Dave, Nate, and Kurt."
ekimd writes "Fedora 17 aka "Beefy Miracle" is released. Some of the major features include: ext4 with >16TB filesystems, dynamic firewall configuration, automatic multi-seat, and more. Major software updates include Gnome 3.4, GIMP 2.8, and GCC 4.7. The full feature list can be found here. Personally, I still find Gnome 3 to be an 'unholy mess' so I'm loving XFCE with Openbox."
Cryophallion writes "After many years of development, GIMP 2.8 is finally released. Among its features: the oft-desired single-window mode, layer groups, and many other massive improvements, including some of the GIMP UI team's work. This might be the release that helps make The GIMP a much more user friendly experience for newcomers, and has features that are rivaling those of certain exceptionally expensive commercial programs. While the porting of GEGL is still ongoing (and recently reported to have made massive advances made), this is a major step forward for one of the premier open source projects." Here are the official release notes.
A longstanding task for the GIMP has been porting the core graphics code from the ancient implementation (dating back to version 1.2) to GEGL. Progress has been hampered by the amount of code relying on details of the implementation of image data: tiles are directly accessed instead of linear buffers, and changing that detail would break the entire core and all plugins. A few weeks ago, two GIMP hackers got together to do some general hacking, and inadvertedly ported the core graphics code to GEGL. They work around the mismatch between GEGL buffers and GIMP tiles by implementing a storage backend for GEGL using the legacy GIMP tiles; to their surprise things Just Worked (tm), and their code branch will become the 2.9 development series once 2.8 is released. With this, 2.10 will finally feature higher bit depth images, additional color spaces (CMYK for one), and hardware accelerated image operations. There's still work to be done: to take advantage of the new features, plugins need to be ported to access GEGL buffers instead of GIMP tiles, but the conversion work is straightforward and current plugins will continue working as well as they do now in the meantime.
spuguli writes "VALO-CD is an open source software collection similar to The Open CD. Version 8 is now available in English. The open source collection has been available in Finnish for several years, but now it has been translated into English and is available internationally as well. The collection contains pretty much everything a typical end user would need: LibreOffice, Inkscape, Firefox, Audacity and many other programs. The main goal is to increase knowledge about open source software. The programs are for Windows since most Linux distributions already contain most of the programs, and Linux users obviously are already aware of open source. The CD is developed collaboratively in a wiki. It is freely available as a torrent download."
For the first few years of its existence, it would have been fair to say that Canonical was essentially polishing, packaging and publishing Debian Linux (and Gnome) to create the base Ubuntu desktop, to great acclaim. For the past few years, though, the company has pushed new looks and new applications (cf. Unity and Ubuntu TV), and refused to stick with prettifying existing interfaces. Now, Barence writes with this excerpt from PC Pro: "Ubuntu is set to replace the 30-year-old computer menu system with a 'Head-Up Display' that allows users to simply type or speak menu commands. Instead of hunting through drop-down menus to find application commands, Ubuntu's Head-Up Display lets users type what they want to do into a search box. The system suggests possible commands as the user begins typing – entering 'Rad' would bring up the Radial blur command in the GIMP art package, for example. HUD also uses fuzzy matching and learns from past searches to ensure the correct commands are offered to users. Canonical's Mark Shuttleworth told PC Pro the HUD will make it easier for people to learn new software packages, and migrate from Windows to Linux software without having to relearn menus. The HUD will first appear in Ubuntu 12.04."
With CmdrTaco moving on to his temporary retirement home, the Slashdot editors who will continue to poke and prod at reader submissions (the heart and soul of this site: without readers, there'd be nothing to talk about as well as no one to talk about it) would like to offer an extended 'Thank You' to Rob, and offer some thoughts on the years so far, as well as what comes next. (Of late, though, we're lucky to have the growing contributions of Clinton Ebadi, aka Unknown Lamer, who got an oddball start on the Slashdot page a long time back.) Read on for a few words from Samzenpus, timothy, and Soulskill.
An anonymous reader writes "Phoronix is reporting that The GIMP now has a working single-window mode, a long desired feature by the open-source graphics community to be more competitive with Adobe Photoshop. There's also a number of other user highlights in the new GIMP 2.7.3 release. The GPLv3 graphics software can be downloaded at GIMP.org."
JR0cket writes "Scribus is an open source desktop publishing tool that helps you create professionally laid out documents, from simple documents to full blown magazines, corporate brochures or even books. Desktop publishing tools are not a replacement for word processors, instead they give you the freedom to create uniquely designed documents and help you manage large sets of text and graphic content. Scribus is similar to Adobe InDesign or Quark Xpress and gives you a wide range of tools to layout content in either print or digital media form. Scribus is pretty easy to get to grips with and has good documentation on the project website. The Scribus 1.3.5 beginners guide is a really handy guide through the workflow of desktop publishing and helps you clearly understand how to create professional looking results." Read below for the rest of JR0ket's review.
An anonymous reader writes "The developers of GIMP have finally released a new development version on the way to GIMP 2.8. GIMP 2.7.2 includes a huge bunch of changes — but it is not intended for production use. 'The new release comprises layer groups (which were introduced after 2.7.1), an almost done text-on-canvas feature, the all-new brush engine and of course the new single window mode.'"
An anonymous reader submits this intriguing tidbit: "Gtk+ 3.2 will let you run any application in a browser thanks to the new HTML5 gdk backend. That means you'll be able to run GIMP, Gedit, a video editor or whatever, remotely (or on the same computer), using a web browser. Just imagine the possibilities!" At this point, says the article, it's only possible with Firefox 4.
JR0cket writes"Inkscape is an open source 2D drawing tool that helps you create graphic designs, from simple buttons and logos to full blown posters and web page designs. Inkscape is similar to Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw and gives you a vector based graphics tool that uses the W3C Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) format. Inkscape is easy to use, although learning the tricks that make designing a web site look great are more involved. The Inkscape 0.48 Essentials for Web designers is specifically focused on helping you to create your first web site designs and does a great job of getting you started. Most if not all the techniques covered are relevant to creating other graphic works too, so its useful as a general Inkscape tutorial." Read on for the rest of John's review.
terrywallwork writes "Lance Flavell and Apress have been busy writing another Blender 2.5 based book. Lance Flavell (known as Lancer in the Blender community) is a very knowledgeable Blender user. So I was very interested to find out about this book when Apress announced its availability. So off I went and ordered the Ebook version of the book in PDF format." Read on for the rest of Terry's review.
terrywallwork writes "A while back I received an email from the people at Packt publishing telling me of a new book they had just put out, and since any email the mentions the possibility of being able to read new Blender books instantly gets my attention, I clicked the link and was presented with a web page detailing a book called Blender 3D 2.49 - Architecture, Buildings and Scenery. This was confusing as I remember having reviewed a book with almost the same title and identical cover picture. So I went to my reviews and checked and sure enough I found a review with the same book cover and almost the same title. So I deleted the email and just put it down to an automated email snafu. Unfortunately I should not have been so quick with the delete button as it turned out to be an updated version of the previous book they put out." Read on to see what Terry thinks of this book.
gphilip writes "I have been asked to contribute ideas for the preparation of a textbook for ninth graders (ages circa 14 years) in the subject of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). Could you suggest material to include in such a text? More details below." Quite a few details, actually — how would you add to the curriculum plan outlined below?
An anonymous reader writes "The Journal Register Company owns 18 small newspapers, and in honor of the July 4th holiday and Ben Franklin, the company's newsrooms produced their daily papers using only free software. The reporters were quick to note that 'the proprietary software is designed to be efficient, reliable and relatively fast for the task of producing a daily newspaper. The free substitutes, not so much.' I applaud the company for undertaking such a feat, but I hope their readership's impression of free software won't be negatively affected by the newspaper's one-day foray into F/OSS."
dango0 writes "SketchUp 7.1 for Architectural Visualization – Beginner's Guide is a detailed guide that will figuratively take you by the hand and teach you how to make stunning photorealistic and artistic visuals of your projects with free software and free resources that you can find all over the Internet." Read on for the rest of Dan's review.