The KDE Slimbook: a new laptop for users of free/open source software

The KDE Slimbook: a new laptop for users of free/open source software

We’ve covered how to buy a fully loaded Linux laptop before, and now we have another choice! The Odin Group, based in Spain and operating for over 10 years, has created a laptop, the Slimbook, that comes fully loaded with GNU/Linux. The KDE Slimbook version comes with GNU/Linux and the KDE Desktop Environment.

It is a beautiful laptop that weighs in at just under 3 lbs (2.99 lbs, 1.36 kg; for comparison, the Dell XPS 13 laptop weighs around 2.7 lbs). The screen is 1920×1080 LED, a very welcome from the older laptops that were stuck at 1366×720 resolution. The laptop comes in two versions, one has the Intel i5-6200U processor while the other version has the Intel i7-6500U processor. The graphics card is an Intel Graphics HD 520 and the RAM comes in three sizes; 4gb, 8gb or 16gb. Most users will want to go with at least the 8 gb option. Click here to read more about the KDE Slimbook’s hardware.

The price for the base model (4gb RAM, 120GB SSD for storage) is very reasonable, it is 729 Euros for the i5 version, and 849 Euros for the i7 version. This translates to about $858 USD and $999 USD, respectively. Upgrading to 8GB of RAM is an extra 65 Euros while fully loaded with 16GB of RAM is an extra 190 Euros.


My favourite option is that the screen can be changed from LED to Matte. This makes a huge difference when programming near bright and reflective lights. Matte screens are less reflective and easier to read.

What’s interesting is that the KDE Slimbook can apparently be shipped anywhere in the world for a fee of 99 Euros (outside of Europe and aside from any tariffs or other country-specific fees).

Definitely worth a look if you are in the market for a laptop that is running GNU/Linux out of the box.

Open Source Startups: Learn From MySQL’s Pitch Deck

MySQL’s pitch deck is an instructive example of how to pitch a free/open source startup to investors. With this pitch deck they raised $16 million in their Series B round way back in 2003 when it wasn’t so clear to investors that free/open source was the better way to develop software.

I wanted to point out some of the highlights that are especially relevant to startups and why startups that develop proprietary software should consider making their software open source instead.

Continue reading “Open Source Startups: Learn From MySQL’s Pitch Deck”

CRTC to issue decision on video, music streaming services and data plans, net neutrality

CRTC to issue decision on video, music streaming services and data plans. The Canadian telecommunications watchdog will issue a decision today that affects net neutrality.

The definition of net neutrality is (from wikipedia):

Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers and governments regulating the Internet should treat all data on the Internet the same, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication

The issue is that Videotron in Quebec was not counting a certain streaming service’s data usage against customer’s data cap. This meant if you streamed 300mb of data from the service, it would not count against your 4gb data plan, but if you used a competing service it would count.

That is a direct attack on net neutrality, where an ISP or mobile network provider is directly favouring one service over another, which distorts the free market. We will see today what the CRTC has to say about it.

Why Slack is inappropriate for open source communications

Dave Chaney has written a nice blog post detailing why Slack the chat tool is inappropriate for open source projects to use.

The reasons to prefer something other than Slack for open source project communications are:

  • Slack is closed source
  • Slack requires paid memberships, especially when integrations start to be used
  • Communications within Slack stay within Slack, they cannot be linked to the outside world (that’s a walled-garden, anti-open Web attitude, it makes sense in a corporate setting but not for open source projects).
  • Slack favours real-time communication, even while it tries to promote asynchronous communication

His recommendation?

Instead of closed, synchronous, systems I recommend open source projects stick to asynchronous communication tools that leave a publicly linkable, searchable, url.

The tools that fit this requirement best are; mailing list, issue trackers, and forums.

I’ve mentioned Zulip as an alternative before because it does have some great features and besides, it’s licensed under a free/open source license.

On Hacker News, you can see a lively discussion about this topic.

The lead developer of Zulip chimes in with a thought-provoking response to the blog post, suggesting that Slack isn’t the real problem (though it is a contributor):

…even with “asynchronous” media like email, bug trackers, or forums, often people reply basically immediately (within minutes or maybe hours), just like you can in chat, and it might be hours or days before everyone has a chance to see the conversation and respond.

The problem is that the messages have no organizational structure beyond the channel. In Slack and friends, there’s no easy way to see what _actual conversations_ happened while you were away, and it’s really hard for a channel to discuss multiple things, so conversations either die or become hard to read when someone starts talking about something else. Combined, this means you have to (1) read _everything_ in order to know what happened and (2) be continuously online in order to participate effectively. This may not matter if your community is super low-traffic, but if you have hundreds or thousands of messages being sent daily, this effectively excludes everyone who doesn’t have a LOT of time to spend on the chat community.

The solution in Zulip is to have threads for conversations, and it is possible to view discussions outside of Zulip with public URLs so it isn’t a walled-garden of conversation. Highly recommend checking it out. lets you ditch Medium with new import tool

One of the best blogging tools, WordPress, can now import blogs and posts from rival Medium. Medium recently has laid off several workers and is searching for a new vision of what their company’s mission will be.

WordPress has been around for a long time and it just keeps getting better. The best feature, in my opinion, is that WordPress is free/open source.

Importing Medium posts and switching to WordPress is a good idea because who knows how long Medium will last in its current form, and besides you get more power and customizability with WordPress.

Aaron Swartz Day and International Hackathon

Aaron Swartz Day and International Hackathon

Check it out, it’s a hackathon for SecureDrop, the software that Aaron Swartz worked on to give whistleblowers a secure method of dropping off files to newspapers on the web. A lot of news organizations have a SecureDrop website that can be accessed through Tor to hide your IP address. Excellent piece of software to hack on.

The hackathon is on Saturday November 5th and Sunday November 6th in San Francisco. Aaron’s 30th birthday would have been next week Tuesday, November 8th.

There are also speakers scheduled after the first day of the hackathon.

Now a bit about Aaron Swartz. He co-authored an early version of RSS and helped launch Creative Commons, and worked on a piece of Python code called (which was one of the web servers Reddit used).

Aaron Swartz’s ideals and all his awesome hackery and coding to support them is something we can all learn from. Instead of simply discussing and debating endlessly, he would at some point sit down and write new tools to build a better future. SecureDrop, Creative Commons, they are all tools in support of the open web, and fundamentally in support of freedom.

SecureDrop is possibly the most important software. It lets journalists receive data from whistleblowers securely. Among the news organizations using SecureDrop are The New Yorker, the Washington Post, VICE Media and the Globe and Mail.

So if you are in San Francisco check out the hackathon. If you are anywhere else in the world, you can still work on SecureDrop, just fire up your favourite text editor and download the code.