Rifles powered by Linux purchased by US Army

Today in Open Source: US Army buys Linux-powered rifles. Plus: Alienware Steam Machine problems, and Linux Lite 1.0.8 released

Linux powers US Army rifles

TweakTown is reporting that the US Army has purchased Linux-powered rifles from TrackingPoint.

TrackingPoint has announced that the US military purchased six of its "smart" rifles, which are priced at between $10,000 and $27,000 each. A soldier equipped with a smart rifle would simply need to tag a target viewable on a screen, which is found on the gun's scope. The internal computer will then tell the shooter exactly how to hold the gun, and when to press the trigger.

More at TweakTown

linux-powered-smart-rifle_0.jpg
Image credit: TrackingPoint
 

I mentioned these rifles from TrackingPoint in an earlier article. Wow, it didn't take long for the military to snag some of them. I wondered about the price of these things, but I guess if you have billions of dollars to spend then price really isn't an issue.

Watch the video to see how advanced this Linux-powered rifle really is, it's quite amazing! The video says that it's a durable product, but I can't help but wonder how well it will hold up in actual battlefield conditions. It almost seems too advanced, sort of like you'd be toting a top of the line computer into battle with you.

All that aside, it just goes to show you the amazing flexibility and power of Linux. It can literally be used for anything, and we're seeing that now in the vast proliferation of it in so many different products.

Alienware Steam Machine problems

GamingOnLinux is reporting that Alienware's Steam Machine won't be easily customizable or upgradable.

In another shocking move from one manufacturer, Alienware has decided to lock down their Steam Machine...

Excuse me for a moment, but isn't the whole point of Steam Machines to be small and customizable? Seems this is another company that just doesn't 100% get what a Steam Machine is meant to be...

More at GamingOnLinux

Alienware seemed to backpedal a bit on upgrading in a later statement:

"The Alienware Steam Machine, announced at CES, is designed to deliver a great gaming experience in the living room and we will enable customers to upgrade components," he added. "Considering we've purposefully designed the Alienware Steam Machine to be smaller than the latest generation consoles, upgrading the internal components will not be as easy as compared to other platforms, such as the Alienware X51, but we will not prevent a customer from upgrading."

Azor's statement today is pretty much a reversal from what he said earlier this week. At the time, he said, "there will be no customization options, you can't really update it." If you're dead set on upgrading your machine on a regular basis, Azor said you might be better suited with another Alienware product, like the X51.

More at GameSpot

I agree with the shock expressed by the writer of the first article. Alienware is heading down a bad road with this attitude. There's going to be a lot of competition among Steam Machine manufacturers, and I suspect that many gamers will simply skip buying one that can't be customized or easily upgraded.

My guess is that Alienware is letting visions of profits cloud their judgement about this. It may take having their Steam Machines fail to sell to wake them from their money-induced dream world. They seem to be treating their Steam Machine like just another gaming console, and I suspect that that isn't going to work well for them with a lot of gamers.

Linux Lite 1.0.8 released

DistroWatch is reporting that Linux Lite 1.0.8 has been released.

Jerry Bezencon has announced the release of Linux Lite 1.0.8, a new version of the project's Ubuntu-based (12.04.3 LTS) desktop Linux distribution with Xfce: "The final release in the Linux Lite 1.0 LTS series is now available. In this release we bring you the first Linux Lite packages, Lite Software Center and Lite User Manager. There is a host of new features, including the 3.8 kernel from the Hardware Enablement Stack for better hardware support, new install scripts for webcams, a PAE kernel installer (32-bit) and a basic Games Pack installer. There is also now an option to add the Whisker Menu to the taskbar. This release also sneaks in at under CD size.

linux-lite-1.0.8.jpg
Image credit: DistroWatch
 

More at DistroWatch

Linux Lite is geared toward making desktop Linux simpler and easier to use. I did a review of version 1.0.6 a while back and found it to be off to a very good start. I'm pleased to see that they've added a software center, as well as some other feature enhancements.

What's your take on all this? Tell me in the comments below.

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