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HP Debuts TouchPad as Thunderbird Accelerates

  • July 5, 2011
  • By Sean Kerner

While 2011 may not necessarily be the year of the Linux desktop, it could very well be the year of the Linux-powered tablet. This past week, HP rolled out its Touchpad tablet, which is powered by webOS. As is the case with Google's Android, webOS leverages Linux at its core.

1. HP TouchPad

No, the HP TouchPad is not a pure-breed Linux up-front tablet. The HP TouchPad, which was released this past week, runs on HP's webOS, formerly the operating system used by Palm, which HP acquired in 2010 for $1.2 billion.

WebOS at its core is Linux (for webOS 2.1.2 it's a 2.6.29 kernel) and uses a long list of open source components. Sure, there is a proprietary HP Palm wrapper around it, which helps to enable webOS, but it's still a Linux-powered tablet at its core.

Don't forget Google's Android is not a pure-bred Linux tablet either. Sitting underneath Android is also Linux, although in Android's case, it's a non-standard Linux kernel, since Google currently does not have its Android code in the mainline Linux kernel.

The HP TouchPad represents the latest attempt by a hardware vendor to capitalize on the market that Apple created with the iPad. It's interesting to note that at least 50 percent of the tablet OSes currently in the market are powered by Linux (that would be Android and webOS, while the non-Linux ones are iOS and Blackberry Playbook).

HP (NYSE: HPQ) might be licensing out webOS to other vendors in the future, which could further its market potential. Considering that Android for tablets is picking up steam with multiple devices in the market and even more set to come, it's quite likely that Linux-enabled tablet OSes will be a significant force to reckon with.

2. Linux 3 RC 6

Although Linus Torvalds now lives in America, that hasn't slowed him down, even on the 4th of July. Torvalds chose the U.S's Independence Day holiday to launch yet another release candidate for Linux 3.0. July 4th's sixth release candidate for Linux 3.0 follows the rc5 release of last week.

At this point in Linux 3.0's development, drivers are the key focus. For RC6, Torvalds noted that there is now a new Intel iSCI driver.

The fifth release candidate in contrast had 40 percent of its changes related to filesystem items for btrfs, cifs, ext4, jbd2 and nfs.

At this point, Torvalds is seeing the kernel settling down, and it's likely that we'll see the first official Linux 3.0 release within the next week.

3. Mandriva 2011 RC1

After Mandriva was forked last year to become Mageia, it wasn't at all a sure thing that the mainline of Mandriva would survive.

This past week, Mandriva Linux developers pushed out Mandriva 2011 RC1, proving that although they've had a portion of their community forked, Mandriva is still alive, for now at least.

A second release candidate for Mandriva 2011 is currently scheduled for release by the end of July, with final general availability set for the end of August.

4. KDE 4.7 RC1

The KDE Linux desktop is also moving forward, with a first release candidate for KDE 4.7 released last week.

The big item being highlighted by KDE developers for the 4.7 release is the new support for OpenGL-ES 2.0. This will provide improved graphics support on multiple types of devices with specific improvements for mobile deployments.

KDE 4.7 also refreshes the Dolphin file manager, with improved metadata searching and interface improvements.

No, KDE 4.7 isn't going to be a huge GNOME Shell type of experience. KDE developers are focusing on improving their existing experience with enhanced performance and stability.

5. Mozilla Thunderbird 5

This past week also saw the release of Mozilla's Thunderbird 5 email client. No, that's not a typo on the version number, and no, you didn't miss a release. In its infinite wisdom, Mozilla decided to advance the Thunderbird release from 3.x to 5 to keep the numbering in step with its more successful browser sibling, Firefox.

In addition to advancing to the same version number as Firefox, Mozilla Thunderbird is now adopting the same rapid release cycle Firefox has embraced. That means new releases every 10 to 12 weeks or so, which will be a very stark contrast to the years between releases that Thunderbird has often taken in the past.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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