New and cool products from all around the Linux universe

A new (free) browser from Opera, a Penguin for your car, and a free software kiosk

Your Ticket to the Opera

No fat ladies singing at this Opera!
Opera Software (http://www.opera.com) recently announced a free version of its namesake browser. The move might not seem significant in light of Firefox’s growing domination, but Opera’s browser is worthwhile and the free version omits those annoying “adware” banner ads that cluttered Opera’ s interface.
Opera is a small download (4 MB) and there are versions of the software for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. Features include an old favorite — tabbed browsing — and new browser tricks such as saved sessions and voice control.
Opera’s presence in the Linux world is growing. Motorola has licensed the software for its Linux-based phones, and Nokia’s anticipated Internet tablet allegedly includes the Opera browser. So, why not add Opera to your desktop? It’s small, fast, stable and free.

Penguin on Wheels

Sure, your best friend has big rims, a fancy sound system, and a DVD player with 20” screens in his ride. You? A Chevette. But don’t be jealous: you can trump his ace with a fully functional Linux box that’s just begging to be hacked.
Chipmaker Via (http://www.via.com.tw/), a favorite of hobbyists, recently announced the Voom PC (http://www.mini-box.com), a tiny computer that consumes little power and generates little noise, which is perfect for mobile applications, including navigation and entertainment. Powered by a Via mini-ITX board and 1.2 GHz processor, the sub-$300 dollar device is about the size of a portable hard drive and contains a special power supply designed to be used in a car. You can mount it just about anywhere.

The Voom PC is available with the embedded iMedia Linux distribution, but enthusiasts will likely port other flavors of the Penguin to the device. Give the Voom PC a look. After all, every minivan needs a dedicated wardriving machine.

Better then High School History

Even if you hated history in high school, a new Linux history tome is sure to pique your interest. The Daemon, the GNU&The Penguin, written by Dr. Peter Salus, explores the history of free and open source software. And just like the book’s subject matter, the treatise is free, too!
Salus, who has served as the Executive Director of USENIX and the Vice President of the Free Software Foundation, is a noted technology historian and author. You might be familiar with another one of his works, A Quarter Century of Unix.
The book isn’t finished just yet, but Dr. Salus is publishing it online chapter by chapter. Go to Groklaw and search for “Peter Salus” to see all of the available chapters or just point your browser to http://www.groklaw.net/staticpages/index.php?page= 20051013231901859.
Your homework? A 10-page report, double-spaced, due next week, and no excuses like “Windows crashed and ate my file.”

Spreading the Source: With a Toaster

Millionaire Mark Shuttleworth of Ubuntu fame is at it again. As if a slick, regularly updated distribution wasn’t enough, Shuttleworth’s foundation has now deployed hardware in South Africa to overcome the barriers preventing people from downloading open source software. Think of it as bringing the Penguin to the people.
The Freedom Toaster (http://www.freedomtoaster.org), which looks nothing like a toaster, is actually a kiosk packed with a server containing several open source software packages and a CD burner. Users use a touch screen to select the software they want, insert a blank CD, and presto!, software to go! During the process, the Freedom Toaster provides a bit of history and information about open source.

Poor telecommunications infrastructures in many parts of the world prevent people from downloading large software packages that are often required to build an open source system. While a handful of Freedom Toasters certainly won’t remedy some of the more serious problems plaguing poorer nations where computers aren’t even an option, the efforts does help spread open source sofware to previously unreachable niches.
Hats off to Mr. Shuttleworth for another noteworthy project.

Celtx: Move Over, Matt and Ben

Linux and Hollywood are no strangers. Linux server farms churn out the special effects of some of the biggest films around, especially animated fare. But how about the nitty gritty — like script writing and pre-production chores — of getting that movie project green-lighted? Celtx (http://www.celtx.com) an open source application, tackles the unglamorous side of movie making.

Available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, Celtx can be used for virtually any media project. You can use the software to write, edit, and collaborate on scripts using industry-wide formatting standards. Additionally, Celtx can assist with location management and talent scouting. Post production work is addressed as well: you can manage audio, video, and stills. Celtx is based on the web services model to maximize and simplify collaboration efforts.
Channel your inner Spielberg! With free Celtx, there’s no reason to put off that blockbuster any longer. (Raisinets not included.)

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