ITV is the main terrestrial commercial TV network in the UK. They have a TV catch up service called ITV Player which somewhat unusually delivers programmes not using Flash but instead Microsoft Silverlight, there is a port to Linux called Moonlight, but it doesn't work for me. Today though I found out that the Scottish version of ITV; STV has its own TV-on-demand catchup service, and a rather good one too. Programmes are delivered through Flash, so they can be viewed on Linux, but that is not all; I noticed that the site also has RSS feeds, which is quite unusual for a TV-on-demand service. Naturally I wondered if this feed could be adapted for use on Boxee, so I need never miss X-Factor again.
Netbooks have become a bit of a haven of innovation when it comes to operating system user experience design. While proprietary operating systems have settled for just working or not being unusably slow on netbooks, Linux distributions have become drivers of change, questioning the traditional approaches to a computer desktop and designing new experiences like the "Easy Mode" interface on the Xandros Asus EEE PCs, Ubuntu's Netbook Remix interface and Intel's Moblin project. Jolicloud is a derivative of Ubuntu Netbook Remix that aims to bring "the cloud" and your netbook closer than ever before by keeping all of your data on the web and using the operating system simply as a launcher for web apps. It is still an alpha at the moment, so it might change quite a lot before release, but thanks to Dan Monsieurle I managed to get an invite (which was needed at the time) and decided to take it for a test drive on my Asus EEE PC.
I've written before about the blurring of offline and online worlds and here is a great example of the concept in action; an interesting program that allows you to integrate your Flickr account into the file system of your Linux-powered computer, making it as easy to upload and download files as copying and pasting between folders.
An area where Linux is sometimes criticised is the level of difficulty expericed by people new to the operating system when installing software. Earlier today, Dr A J Cann posted an example of this criticism when he suggested that Ubuntu should follow the same model of software distribution used Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac OS X of having a downloadable installer file for your desired program.
On Monday 25th February I gave an introductory talk on Linux for the TiCREG group here at The Open University. As promised in that presentation and for those of you who could not make it here is the presentation in both OpenOffice and MS PowerPoint formats with a list of references and further reading.
If you fancy using the Asus EEE as a development environment for you web projects then you are in luck. The little machine will quite happily run the entire LAMP stack. LAMP stands for Linux, Apache, PHP and MySQL, which are the operating system, web server, programming language and database components respectively. Being a developer isn't the only reason you might want to install this technology, it also lets you experiment with some interesting software, which I will be exploring in later blog posts.
The Asus EEE is without doubt an excellent machine, it may also hold some wider lessons for the future. It is lightweight, a convenient size (about the size of a book), lightweight (about 900g) and extremely versatile (see my previous posts). It feels very solid and would be perfect for someone who might have to travel a lot or attend a lot of meetings.