7 free or libre tools to survive with little or no Internet

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FOR those of us living on Internet rations in the developing world, with limited or no bandwidth, web browsing is a luxury. Time then to end the digital divide by sharing web pages offline with your friends using any one of seven or more, free or libre tools that will make life a lot easier without a dedicated connection. If you want an alternative to live Internet, have sporadic or intermittent service, or are confined to an Internet Cafe, then get cracking, by giving the online world to those who don’t have it, share your bandwidth, download entire web sites, burn to CD and share content with your community.

AmiPic Lite – http://www.altomsoft.com/ This is a Usenet reader, Web search, download tool and image viewer.
System Requirements: Windows 98/Me with IE 5.0 or higher; Windows 2000, XP and Vista

AmiPic Lite is Free.


BackStreet Browser – http://www.spadixbd.com/backstreet/ This is a multi-threading Web site download and viewing program. By making multiple simultaneous server requests, this program will download an entire Web site or section of a site. It then saves all the files on your hard drive either in their native format or as a compressed ZIP file so you can view the data while offline.

System Requirements: Windows 95/98/2000/NT/ME/XP, 64 MB RAM, 2 MB Hard Disk Spac


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Sugar running on Ubuntu, ready for Modding?

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THE recent porting of the Sugar XO desktop platform to Ubuntu, the human face of the popular Linux OS, has given hardcore Ubunteros an opportunity to modify one of the coolest desktops to emerge this side of the equator. How about Sugar XO activities for adults? We are talking Amazon jungle computing and yes, the current range of activities, created by MIT graduates, do look as if they were produced for chimps on the International Space Station. If one can get over the plain and simple geekiness encased within the beautiful Sugar XO, the system wins hands down in the look and feel department.
There are no actual files or folders. Everything is “remembered” and each session is part of the overall global interactive session in which Sugar XO users interact. I can think of a lot of other interesting things to do with such global interactivity and my online session, — it is only a matter of time before somebody comes up with a Global Web Jam using Sugar XO. Isn’t this exactly what the world’s youth are crying out for – a global whiteboarding experience, replete with music and video mashup? If only we could get the geeks out of the python lab and into the real world, Sugar could actually offer Ubuntu users a desktop experience with a lot more popular innovation than the current Gnome/KDE/XFCE trio that seems merely to reproduce the experiences of earlier periods of computing in a business fashion. Sugar brings back the kind of fun I once had with Atari, remember the prototypical kidcomputer?
As a platform for modified applications taken from the broader Linux-Ubuntu community, XO surely cannot be beat. I guess XO must stand for ‘derived operated system’, since the whole project is really a Linux distribution and the first releases were based upon Redhat-Fedora. I’m betting this is a chance of a lifetime in the world of Linux, a huge opportunity to produce cool apps for  what has been referred as, you got it, the XO generation.
Sugar is cool, and we all deserve a more right-brained approach to modular computing that does away with files and the aweful windowed mind-map you end up with as you gaze into cyberspace trying to remember where you put your stuff, so yes, why remember anything? Lets just integrate into a world of total media- sugar music, sugar video, a sugar editing suite, mixing desk, DJ console and in no time, the Ultimate Edition of Sugarized Ubuntu I predict will be up and running and giving Gnome and KDE a run for its freedom of expression.
Now I don’t want to undermine the lofty aspirational goals of the current OLPC platform and its XO offshoot, which will invariably result in derivatives, (does anybody know which GNU license XO is released in?) but surely there is something a bit bizarre about offering early learners, pre-teens python with their basic math?
Oh the joys of programming – a lot of kids in Africa can barely read, and the OLPC programme is really taking all this localisation for granted – foreign character recognition, language games, art – there is a lot that is simply being left out of the equation, which is why a modified XO could fill in where others fail.
Yes, sadly from an activity point of few, the current Sugar XO sucks, not unless you find a calculator interesting. I know I had one as a kid, and wished for a supercomputer. Now that we have supercomputers to give to our children, why give them calculus? Surely art, literature, the world wide web in a format even a fetus can understand?
On the down-side the XO browser also leaves a lot to the imagination, and one could do better by offering Seamonkey or another lightweight alternative in a Sugar style.
If you want to give Sugar a try, running the XO on Ubuntu is simple, and there is really no point to doing this on another distro.
In Ubuntu, all you have to do is
apt-get install sugar sugar-activities
Which will download the Sugar desktop which you can run in a separate session. Currently there doesn’t seem to be a good method for getting out of the session, and you will therefore have to hack a little. I have yet to come across a good script that actually works, but this is only a minor gripe. If you have a solution please post it here.

Categories: Sugar XO Ubuntu

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Ubuwiki for Africa offers a global solution to digital divide

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A localisation of the popular Wiki format could be the solution to low bandwidth in the developing world as an intermediate technology group from Africa calls for greater offline accessiblity and knowledge sharing.
“A traveller through a country would stop at a village and he didn’t have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food, entertain him. That is one aspect of Ubuntu but it will have various aspects. Ubuntu does not mean that people should not address themselves. The question therefore is: Are you going to do so in order to enable the community around you to be able to improve?” – Nelson Mandela.
Ubuwiki Offline is an intermediate technology solution for Africa where low-bandwidth and high-cost of internet make communication unaffordable for the majority. In the face of the digital divide, Ubuwiki contains a digest of information – Ubuwiki Live – to get users of the popular Ubuntu Linux operating system started. Wikipedia has announced plans to migrate to the Ubuntu platform.
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Categories: Ubuntu

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Why puppy succeeds where other Linux distro's fail

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puppy 300 desktop
puppy 300 desktop

Puppy Linux (latest version is codenamed Dingo) is an elegant micro-distribution with a live CD that comes in at 90mb, lives entirely in ram, and gives one all the features of a fully fledged server. Did I forget to mention it has a wiki, or that it passes the test of turning otherwise useless hardware into a usable and attractive desktop in which one can spend hours fiddling with settings?
It beat off Xubuntu for bootablility, and the competition in terms of user-friendliness. Both feather linux and damn small linux don’t even come close, although dsl probably takes the cake in terms of weight. Perhaps there needs to be a featherweight division for Linux disto’s? Puppy is arguably in a category of its own. (I have yet to get hold of a working copy of Damn Small BSD to compare a non-Linux, Unix-based OS)
The simplicity of Puppy and the barebones of the OLPC are key elements in the microPC revolution.

OLPC booted for the first time on home PC

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OLPC desktop
OLPC desktop

Well, I finally did it. After months of rumour about the One Laptop Per Child project, I found the live CD, downloaded it and booted it off an old PIII (Intel 440 chipset) running at 366mhz. It booted nicely and I got an interesting startup screen. The oversize cursor is great. Wonderful attempt to create a child-friendly environment that will assist in literacy. The XO (that’s what the operating system is called), is aimed at a pre-literate market, but relies on some knowledge and linguistic skill.
First off it would seem that a lot more work needs to be done on thinking this project through. Perhaps a variety of screens could be overlaid with age restrictions in mind, deepening the experience? Giving a 2-5 year-old immediate access to the Gnome desktop isn’t thinking this through enough, and I am afraid the whole XO quickly disappears into an awkward mash of hyperlinked windows as Fedora Core and the machinations of TUX takeover the limelight.
But there is hope – XO could turn out to the OS that revolutionises preschoolers and provides entry point into child-friendly computing, it could also be a hackers dream. How about porting a baby-like MP3 player, and keeping the whole project down to puppy-size dimensions. Puppy Linux is one of the mini-distro’s that is making headway in low-bandwidth areas like Southern Africa.
All too often what one sees is software bloat, and last time I checked newswires were all abuzz with talk of bundling Windows XP alongside the XO, as if the project wasn’t top-heavy enough. Let’s put this into perspective. For about a decade I existed on a simple Apple Powerbook 180 with the Haiku-like dimesions of an 80mb harddrive 8megs of ram and a 33mhz processor which was considered speed for its time. I now have a Powerbook 145 with a 25mhz processor and 4megs of memory which I saved off a rubbish dump. Can you believe that apps like Adobe Freehand and Photoshop, as well as MS word existed down here without kicking up a fuss?
So, as far as the nuts and bolts is concerned OLPC XO is already way over the limit of what should be achievable with code and is turning into yet another bloated XP package like the one I am running on what could be called a supercomputer of the Zeroes (1.8 ghz, 1gig ram, 900chipset) which still runs as slow as windows did in the 90s, comparitively speaking. Nothing has changed. Heck, I still type at the same speed and was wondering if OLPC will get a touchscreen? More later.
PS: Downloading the OLPC XO Image:
Open a web browser and navigate to http://wiki.laptop.org/go/OS_images, under the section entitled ” Latest Stable Build” there will be a link to the latest stable version. From Ubuntu Forums  ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=304447

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