SMS on the Linux desktop, Linux's 25th birthday, and more open source news

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In this week's edition of our open source news roundup, we take a look at SMS on the Linux desktop, Linux's 25th birthday, inexpensive ecological homesteads, and more.

Open source news roundup for August 28-September 3, 2016

KDE Connect links your Android phone with your Linux desktop

Notifications are everywhere and on just about every device these days. KDEConnect 1.0 has just been released and states on its community wiki that, "KDE Connect is an open source project that aims to communicate with all your devices." The wiki goes on to say that you can get Android phone notifications on your computer and use your phone as a remote for your computer.

All you have to do to achieve this connection nirvana is install the KDEConnect software on your Linux computer and an app on your Android or Blackberry phone. The developers state that they plan on supporting iPhone, too. The wiki and the PCWorld article both state clearly that the KDE desktop environment is not required to use the application on the PC end; it will run on other desktops too.

After reading this, I was all ready to install it and try it out. Many distros have packages for KDEConnect (as does Fedora, my preferred distro). Unfortunately, the version available from the official repository is not the 1.0 version of this announcement. I plan to wait until that's ready before I try KDEConnect.

It seems that almost every device I have will soon be able to push notifications to every other device. Won't it just be so much fun when I can respond to SMS messages on the touch screen of my refrigerator and the smart thermostats of my HVAC system will let me answer my phone or log in to a remote server? KDEConnect uses strong encryption for communications, so it should be reasonably secure. I suspect the weak point will still be poorly configured and devices and ones that are never updated.

25 years of Linux

August 25, 2016 was Linux's 25th birthday. It is rather interesting to recall that Linux has been around for a quarter century and that I have been using it exclusively for 20 of those years. It's also amazing to see the extent to which Linux in its various forms has infiltrated virtually all aspects of our digital lives. Many articles have been written about this particular birthday, and here are a few of my favorites.

Build an ecological homestead for 1/10th the cost of a traditional home

From the blog, Green Prophet, out of the Middle East, comes an interesting article about building ecologically sound, modular, affordable housing in the United States. Modeled after an Amish barn raising, Open Source Ecology (OSE) and the Open Building Institute (OBI) have created a construction method for housing that uses an open source library of module designs and rapid-build procedures. Modules can be combined in the design of a home in ways that offer both flexibility and fast, easy construction.

Homeowners who build in this manner can choose from many different modules that are already designed, including one option for an aquaponic greenhouse. Using open source tools, you can also design your own modules. If you do design your own modules, the hope is that you contribute your design back to the project. The ultimate objective is to greatly expand the library of designs available for others to use in the future.

The article includes a lengthy interview with Marcin Jakubowski, one of the founders. The other founder is Catarina Mota. The article states, "She [Mota] holds a PhD in communication sciences and her research work focuses on the social impact of open and collaborative practices developing technologies. She is a founding member the Open Source Hardware Association and a TED fellow. [Jakubowski] holds a PhD in fusion physics, and has been called an Innovation Stuntman, a Disruptive Hero, and a 2013 White House Champion of Change. He is also a TED fellow."

Culture and lack of skills holding back Australia's open source adoption

Although Australia is making progress in the adoption of open source software, Niall Keating who is head of Big Data at Coles supermarket chain, says, "it is both the culture and talent shortage that is holding the country back." He goes on to say that there are plenty of data scientists, but too few software engineers.

According to Keating, Australia first needs the Universities to produce more graduates with "hardcore computer engineering skills or software engineering skills." Then the attitudes need to be changed to be less risk averse and to allow more room for innovation.

In other news

Thanks, as always, to staff members and moderators for their help this week. Make sure to check out our event calendar to see what's happening next week in open source.

David Both is an Open Source Software and GNU/Linux advocate, trainer, writer, and speaker who lives in Raleigh North Carolina. He is a strong proponent of and evangelist for the "Linux Philosophy."

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