This Week in Open Source News for Jan 30-Feb 5

This is the first of what I hope will become a weekly segment every Sunday on this blog to recap the hottest open source news of the week.

My favorite rumor of the week was that Google was going to start distributing a version of Linux based on Ubuntu, dubbed Goobuntu, as a way to go up against Microsoft on the desktop. It did not take Google long to begin denying this rumor. While they acknowledge using Ubuntu internally, Google says that they have no plans to distribute it externally; however, analysts still speculate that Google will continue to move into software segments where Microsoft has been strong.

Last week Linus Torvalds said that the Linux kernel would not be using GPL v3, and he continued to clarify his position this week with several additional posts. His main objection seems to revolve around the anti-DRM clause, which Linus says would be more appropriate in a content license, not a software license. He also said that “we do not – as software developers – have the moral right to enforce our rules on hardware manufacturers. We are not crusaders, trying to force people to bow to our superior God. We are trying to show others that co-operation and openness works better.” This highlights the cultural differences between the free software movement, which tends to be more politically motivated (the GPL is driven through the Free Software Foundation), while the open source software proponents tend to focus more on the software with fewer political motivations.

Mozilla delivered an update to Firefox as part of their regular two month upgrade release cycle that fixes several security and stability issues while providing better support for Mac OS X. This update also claims to fix several memory leak problems. Firefox’s memory issues have been my only real problem with Firefox, and I will be interested to see how well this works as I use it over the next week or two.

Novell demoed Linux Desktop 10, which will be released in several months. Key features include the ability to convert VB macros (commonly used in MS Excel files) into a format used by OpenOffice, the capability to play MP3 files out of the box, and the ability to handle digital camera operations seamlessly.

Red Hat joined the effort led by MIT to provide a $100 laptop by donating $2 million to the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) organization. This will not guarantee the use of a Red Hat OS on the laptop; however, early demos of this laptop used a Fedora variant.