Desktop News Roundup
A look at the latest headlines in the Linux desktop arena.
by Web Editor
Rhapsody Music Service for Linux
Linux users have another option for a subscription Web-based streaming music service, now that the new version of RealNetwork's Rhapsody has gone live. Previously available only for Windows users, the new Rhapsody provides a Firefox plug-in that allows Linux users to stream music through their browsers. Rhapsody has been tested with Linspire, Fedora and SuSE and should work with other distributions as well. Service also now is available for Mac users.
This is a first step by RealNetworks towards providing a full-service on-line music subscription service for Linux users. At this time, though, Linux users are unable to buy music or transfer music to other listening devices. To do so, Linux users would need an end-user client, and none are available yet from RealNetworks. RealNetworks spokesperson Ronda Scott told DesktopLinux.com that the company has "no metric as far as determining if or when we will develop a similar client for Mac and Linux users. It has to make sense for the company, and we need to see an organic interest from the (Mac and Linux) communities involved."
MP3tunes On-Line Music Storage
Staying on the audio front a little longer, MP3tunes recently announced a new on-line music storage service called Oboe. Oboe lets users store their entire music collections in "lockers" on-line, enabling the music to be accessible from any Internet-enabled device.
Oboe accounts are $39.95 a year and provide unlimited on-line storage with no extra bandwidth charges. Oboe accounts come with one-button syncing, which is software that searches another computing device for music files and makes sure both the device and the Oboe locker have the same music. Other account features include a Web interface to control music selections and playing options and a Firefox Web browser plug-in that lets you download music files anytime your Internet surfing encounters a .mp3, .wma, .ogg or .acc music file.
Incidentally, MP3tunes was founded by Michael Robertson, who also founded Linspire--so you can be sure Oboe services are available for Linux users.
It's not exactly Linux desktop news, but it's a great news item nonetheless and one that Linux will be playing a part in. The One Laptop per Child (OLPC) organization has found a manufacturer for its $100 laptop. The Taiwanese company Quanta has been selected as the original design manufacturer for the project. Quanta is the world's largest maker of notebook computers.
The OLPC organization earlier this year announced plans to develop and produce $100 laptops to be sold to developing nation governments for distribution to children through their schools. OLPC also previously announced that Linux will be the operating system for the $100 laptops. The first laptops should be available for distribution by the fourth quarter of 2006. OLPC said it would be shipping laptops to China, India, Brazil, Argentina, Egypt, Nigeria and Thailand; about 1 million laptops will be sent to each country in the initial shipment.
According to the OLPC Web site:
The proposed $100 machine will be Linux-based, with a dual-mode display--both a full-color, transmissive DVD mode and a second display option that is black and white reflective and sunlight-readable at 3X the resolution. The laptop will have a 500MHz processor and 128MB of DRAM, with 500MB of Flash memory; it will not have a hard disk, but it will have four USB ports. The laptops will have wireless broadband that, among other things, allows them to work as a mesh network; each laptop will be able to talk to its nearest neighbors, creating an ad hoc, local area network. The laptops will use innovative power (including wind-up) and will be able to do most everything except store huge amounts of data."
Last month, Negroponte displayed a prototype of the notebook at the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society. As reported by BBC News, he showed off a "foldable lime green laptop" that has low power-consumption needs and can be powered by a hand crank for use in remote regions. BBC News also reported that the notebooks "will be encased in rubber to make them durable, and their AC adaptors will act as carrying straps."
Finally, the Quanta-OLPC partnership also provides the possibility for Quanta to develop a commercial version of the laptop. Should this commercial version of the laptop become available, even at a higher cost than the $100 laptop, will it mark the beginning of dropping laptop prices across the marketplace?