Just a few hours ago Mozilla launched Firefox 4.0 and it already seems to be much faster than the 3.5 version that was previously installed on this computer; although this is just a personal impression and there is no official benchmarking or statistics at this stage. The funny thing is that this is the first time that I can remember a major release of Firefox (honestly, when was the version 3.0 released? 2007, 2008?). There is no radical changes in Firefox 4; however, there is no doubt the super-speed hype will give this version a positive spin. It seems that Mozilla does not want to rock the boat.
UPDATE: Here is a nice live download map for firefox 4.0.
Allen Downey (the author of Python: How to Think Like a Computer Scientist) has published yet another gem (for free): Probability and Statistics for Python Programmers. I’ve been through the first chapters and It’s just amazing. To be honest, I never liked statistics (even worse I loathe probability) but this book approaches these topics from a different perspective. The fact that the author primary reference has been nothing more than Wikipedia is a tip-off that this is a different reading. Highly recommended for people who have passion for both mathematics and programming.
If you are following headlines, you should have noticed that GNOME has recently attracted lots of criticism from various groups. Following the not-very-recent Gnome/Canonical argument over Unity Desktop (and rejection of several other Canonical’s proposed projects for Gnome) and recent comments of GNOME’s co-founder supporting proprietary products(RMS once called him a traitor), and now KDE developers have accused Gnome project for not being as collaborative as they used to be. I’m not a GNOME user but I’m slightly worried about the direction that Gnome project is headed and I’m not sure we are going to like what will happen.
I recently made a big jump from Debian to Gentoo on my EeePC netbook. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a Debian fan; I just feel like that I need to try new things. Since I’ve started using Arch Linux two months ago on my other laptop I’ve always felt like that there is something wrong with the way I learn GNU/Linux. Sooner or later, at some point, you just start to realize that you need to go deeper. Gentoo gives you a very good start to get into the guts of the whole GNU/Linux business.
Gentoo was my first source-based distro. I was also thinking of Crux but it slipped away when I realized that Gentoo is much better documented and has a larger community. I was originally just planning to settle for a X-free environment but I suddenly had this desire that I wanted to try KDE. KDE is not the first thing that comes to mind when you have a netbook. Instead, XFCE is lightweight and is doing very well on my Arch Linux laptop. However, It’s time to experiment with KDE and see whether it fits my need or not. Well, it seems it does:
So far, KDE speed and performace seems to be acceptable on such a low-profile netbook unless I start to open fifteen apps everything goes very well and that is fine for me. I have enabled all the eye-candies (can you believe I’m talking about eye-candies?) ,compositing, effects, etc and everything works great. Just for the record, if you are planning to install KDE on Gentoo please be aware that you have to compile it and compiling a desktop environment of size 400+ is going to take something like 20 hours (on a normal computer) so bear up or try out KDE on a binary distro like Arch or Debian.
Installing Gentoo itself is fairly easy and fast. There is really nothing to it. You just boot into a minimal CD installation that you’ve downloaded from Gentoo website, you partition using fdisk, then you install a base system which you’ll chroot into it. Then you compile and install core packages,Linux kernel, boot loader and configure them if it is necessary. Just a word of caution, be careful with the linux kernel configuration, I messed up some of my hardware at first time but fortunately I could add their support after installation. Gentoo Handbook contains all the sort of information you need to get a fully functional installation.
To conclude, I shall add that personally I don’t think that Gentoo is for everybody; only people with a deep passion for flexibility would tolerate hours of software compilation. However, Gentoo automates many repetitive tasks and Portage (the package manager) is just great. Another great discovery for me…
Finally the much-anticipated Debian Squeeze has been released (or better to say it’s stable); which kinda makes us to say a happy goodbye to our dear Lenny installations and also welcome the new unstable release; namely Wheezy. Along with the release, we can see the new layout of Debian website and it’s planet (the previous layout belonged to 13 years ago! you judge: Oct 2009, Dec 1998). The community is just bursting with energy and we are all happy that Debian is still the same OS as we knew it: stable and easy-to-use without eye-candies or weird changes.
Debian is not your typical everyday GNU/Linux distro. It takes two years of carefully crafting, testing thousands of packages to make a stable release. It’s a mega release for an unmatched number of various hardware architectures from handhelds to enterprise servers (I can safely say no other distro provide such a vast architecture support; if you ignore Gentoo). In addition, It’s going to be the base system for more than 20 debian derivatives; providing necessary platform for FreeBSD and HURD fans; and oh I almost forgot the sacred repository which now contains more than 29,000 packages.
There are some radical changes in the 6th release; most notably the completely free Linux kernel. Now I think maybe it’s time for Free Software Foundation to recognize Debian as a fully-free operating system, just like old days in 90‘s when FSF was an official sponsor of Debian project. Maybe RMS himself should consider migrating to Debian although I know he is not happy with some of these non-free repositories.
Just a note of advice, If you are new to Debian, please don’t download/install the default graphical variety and compare it with your fancy-looking distros. That’s not the way we do Debian. Download the Network Install and build your Debian system from scratch and please do check out the release information. Anyway, as soon as I get some free time( from my python crash course) I will upgrade my own installation and blog about it. Stay tuned.
The good news is that I’ve got the whole weekend off. Instead of wasting my time watching movies and lazing around I’ve decided to take a leap of faith and do something exciting: Learning Python. It seems to be a damn exciting programming language which offers a great deal of versatility suitable for everything from Linux administrative tasks to web programming.
My programming knowledge is quite limited at this time and is basically constrained to some articles I’ve read here and there about more traditional programming languages. However I’m very passionated about learning Python and I think it’s going to be an amazing introduction to practical programming world.
The textbook I’ve chosen for my weekend crash course is “Dive Into Python”. It seems to be exactly the same sort of book I’m looking for: challenging, thought-provoking, straight to real stuff. I will update about my progress in the next three days.
Wish me luck!
UPDATE: Day 3 (Sunday, Feb 6): Well, I went through the first 10 chpaters of the book(18 chapters in total). It’s not the best that one can do yet I’m quite happy with my progress since the book is farily challenging. I will continue reading the rest of chapters in the next days in my free times. Python is beautiful!