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Buzz around Ubuntu 11.04, Natty Narwhal, growing

The buzz is growing around Ubuntu's upcoming Linux release version 11.04, codenamed Natty Narwhal, or NN.

PC World is framing it as the best Linux release to date, with the souped up Unity 2D/3D interface coming to desktops. Unity also takes better advantage of touchscreen capabilities.

Unity is also being designed with Arm processors in mind, so a version of this release with Unity could well be headed to tablets. And even smartphones, if Ubuntu goes really slim. Ubuntu has not played in smartphones for years, but they should now sense the opportunity.

Development of Linux kernel 2.6.38 complete

The release candidate for the new Linux kernel, version 2.6.38, is out and includes a number of changes. The new kernel speeds up performance, and adds support for new hardware such as AMD's Fusion processors.

Linus Torvalds provides more information on the kernel and features on the LKML website.

You can also view briefs about the new kernel on InternetNews.com or The H.

The new kernel RC comes two weeks after the previous kernel, 2.6.37, was released.

ReactOS: A free alternative to old-school Windows

For those craving old-school Windows 9x applications, try ReactOS, a free OS compatible with some Windows applications and drivers.

It's not based on the Windows, Unix or Linux kernels, so it's an OS built from scratch. The code under GNU/GPL and aims to mimic the Windows mode to run applications.

But there's a caveat, and as the ReactOS folks say in their FAQ:

"ReactOS is in alpha stage and not recommended for everyday use. Many applications do not work (correctly) because many API calls simply haven't been implemented yet. This may be one of the reasons for the software not working."

Will the U.S. government move to open source?

U.S. President Barack Obama has encouraged agencies to move away from from proprietary systems and on to open source. The call came as part of the Open Government Directive,  which was issued in Dec. 2009, and aims bring "transparency, participation, and collaboration form the cornerstone of an open government."

Mobile Linux matures at CES

Linux ended up being one of the winners at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The show was littered with new tablets, many of them with Google's Android 3.0, which is code-named Honeycomb, and optimized to tablets.

Motorola announced the Xoom, which is based on Honeycomb, and will be available around April. Honeycomb will be a hot OS, so keep your eyes peeled.

Honeycomb could render tablets with Android 2.2 -- Froyo -- irrelevant. So if you're looking to buy a tablet, wait till Honeycomb comes out, or get a guarantee that the tablet will be upgraded to Honeycomb in the future.

Honeycomb tablets with have a few requirements -- like a dual-core processor -- which indicate that the devices will be resource heavy.

Free software to rule Russia by 2015

Free software gets a boost: Russia's government will be moving to open source software by 2015.

Russian PM Vladimir Putin has signed off on switching to open software by 2015. The order signed Putin includes orders to switch to software based on the Linux OS.

The plans include establishing a cross-government software repository, and individual repositories for specific agencies.

Where is Linux on TV headed?

Buyers today pay a premium to get TVs that can stream movies directly from the Internet. The shipment of Internet TVs are growing, and it's only a matter of time before every TV includes Wi-Fi or some kind of Ethernet port.

The value of TVs as a computing device are finally being discovered, and therein lies an opportunity for application developers. Linux is leading the way of bringing Internet to TVs, but developers are wondering type of applications would work on TVs.

For now, Sony, Samsung and Vizio bundle Internet apps into HDTVs. Users can run apps such as Netflix or Hulu to stream videos directly to their TVs. Viewers are also hesitant, and have just started comprehending the idea of Internet and TV together. 

Mandriva releases new version of Linux distribution

Mandriva has released Mandriva 2010.2, which the company says is an incremental update to 2010.1, which was released more than 6 months ago.

The updates includes a new version of Firefox, and will include upgrades to KDE and OpenOffice. Mandriva has counted 2522 officially updated and 6312 modified packages, which is substantial.

Mandriva claims 3 million users for its Linux version. But it remains less popular than Ubuntu, Red Hat and Suse, which are more widely used.

Mandriva 2010.2 is available in three versions, including a free one for personal use. The distros are available for download from its website.

Windows on Arm: Does it affect Linux?

Microsoft's Windows works mostly on Intel's x86 chips, but Bloomberg now reports that Microsoft is porting Windows to the Arm architecture.

According to the report, Microsoft will port its full operating systems like -- Windows 7  -- to Arm, which opens the door for Windows and Linux to compete on a level-playing field. Windows next operating system, dubbed Windows 8, will work on Arm-based tablets, which will be shown at CES trade show in January next year.


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What needs to be improved most on Android 3.x for tablets?: