Linux Product Insider

This week's "Linux Product Insider" features SkyWayUSA's Rural Hi-speed Internet, Apress' MINDSTORMS NXT book, Curl Nitro, Open-Source Java and Linux, SugarCRM 5.1 Beta and Plat'Home's OpenMicroServer.

Here this week's Linux product news:

SkyWayUSA's Satellite Internet Service

Because America is so darn big, it is often uneconomical to provide cabled high-speed Internet in rural areas. To help close this urban-rural digital divide, SkyWay USA has developed a high-speed Internet service that is reputedly "more reliable than the more expensive competitors" since it is based on a combination of satellite-landline-cellular technologies. The technology was developed by two brothers in rural Kentucky and, rather than a full-fledged satellite dish, utilizes a simpler receive-only device and a "SkyBeeper", which emits a high-pitched tone as the homeowner points the dish antenna at the satellite. There’s no software to load, and the service works well with Linux, MacOS and Windows. SkyWay USA says that their service not only eliminates rain fade but can also be installed easily by anyone. Service plans start at $29.95 per month

Creating Cool MINDSTORMS NXT Robots by Daniele Benedettelli (Apress)

What a joy that the companies that publish great Linux and open-source books love to go off on fun tangents. A perfect example is Apress and its Lego MINDSTORMS books, the latest of which is Creating Cool MINDSTORMS NXT Robots by Daniele Benedettelli. Guided by "one of the world’s most respected NXT robot builders", this book shows readers how to build and program from scratch seven different MINDSTORMS NXT robots, ranging in difficulty from basic to challenging. Since all of the code is supplied, one must not be a programmer. However advanced developers will appreciate learning Benedettelli’s code and techniques.

Curl Nitro Beta Release

In a bid to out-do Adobe AIR, Curl has released a beta version of Curl Nitro, the code name for an extension of Curl Rich Internet Application (RIA) platform. Curl says that the Nitro extension "simplifies the process of installing and managing Curl applications accessed via a browser as well as directly from the desktop" and that it is "the only platform for both traditional RIA and Desktop RIA that provides enterprise-level security, high performance and support for large data sets." Nitro offers the essential capabilities of the Desktop 2.0 Client such as support for rich user interfaces, complex application logic, and agile development, which is possible due to new features such as applet installer and desktop controls, a client-side database, demo applets and a new desktop security model. This extension of RIA allows users to take their applications off-line, to work when disconnected and to move their primary work environment from the browser back to the desktop. Curl Nitro supports, Linux, Mac and Windows.

Open-Source Java in Fedora and Ubuntu

Sun continues to nicely open source itself, with the latest inititiave being the inclusion of OpenJDK-based implementations in Fedora 9 and Ubuntu 8.04 LTS Server and Desktop editions. The company says that the move is aimed at "furthering the promise of Sun's open source Java technology initiative." The goal is to enables developers to count on free software implementations based on Java technology as a standard element of an open source developer stack that they can leverage to build Web-based applications of all types. Sun also announced that its NetBeans 6.0 Integrated Development Environment is now part of the Ubuntu 8.04 LTS release and that Canonical has certified the Ubuntu 8.04 LTS Server Edition on several Sun x86 systems.

Plat'Home's OpenMicroServer

Though Plat'Home Co. Ltd. has been serving up Linux to the Japanese market since 1992, the company is just now bringing its OpenMicroServer product to North American shores via its U.S. subsidiary. OpenMicroServer is a small, tough, easy-to-use, easy-to-configure, low-cost Linux server solution. It provides high reliability to customers who do not have much extra room and are likely to largely ignore the machine for weeks or months after installation. Key features include compact design (9" x 4" x 1.3"), integrated Power over Ethernet, stable long-term operation up to 122°F when using PoE functionality (based on 625-day endurance test), 400 MHz AMD Alchemy (MIPS) processor, 2x Gigabit Ethernet ports, 1x 100MBit Ethernet (PoE capable) port, 2 USB 2.0 ports and 2 serial ports. Plat'Home prides its product's "Japanese characteristics," meaning it doesn't stand out, and it doesn't complain. It just gets the job done.

SugarCRM 5.1 Beta

The folks at SugarCRM are gearing up for a big new release and hoping you'll give v5.1 beta a test ride. SugarCRM is a popular, open-source CRM application, which the company calls "the fastest-growing CRM solution in the market today." New in 5.1 are several key features, including a new reporting and analytics engine, revamped wireless capabilities (e.g. SugarCRM on mobile phones such as BlackBerry and iPhone), data import features, improved user tracking an improved module builder and more. Version 5.1 is due out of beta in June.

To send feedback on this article, or to send product news, please contact Products Editor, James Gray at

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