Tag Archive | Linux

El Conquistador! (Revisited)

I’m soooooo glad that the PC Weenies have taken the time to explain the Microsoft commercial! The Shoe Circus is a Mac Store slam and Microsoft’s future is a fried snack.

P.S. You probably know by now that I believe in supporting artists, and revelations like this don’t come along everyday, so please commemorate this occasion by ordering a copy of this cartoon on card stock today!

Linux for Mom

Mother’s Day is upon us! You did get a gift, didn’t you? What’s that you say? Mother’s Day isn’t until May? While that is true for citizens of most of the world’s countries, in Asia, Eastern Europe & the Middle East Mother’s Day falls in the month of March and many of the countries in these regions will celebrate it tomorrow, March 8th. The origin of this holiday stems from various religious rites, including the celebration of the Vernal Equinox, pagan worship evidenced in Roman and Greek mythology, and even to ties to the Christian season of Lent. Regardless of your reasons for celebrating Mother’s Day, it’s time to start thinking about a gift!

I happened across this article on the VirtualHosting blog this morning. It links fifty-two websites to various Linux distros, tools, and guides to assist in setting up a Linux box for your mom. The premise is, of course, providing a fast, safe and highly-functional system with a clean, uncluttered interface. I agree with the commentary, the intended audience of the article is not mom herself, but a son or daughter with a Linux bias who might want to set up a system for mom to use.

My mom uses Linux too, of course! Indeed, I’ve watched her transition from complete technophobe to avid blogger over the course of about a decade. She was tired of period system reinstallations necessitated by spyware, malware and viruses. She instantly noticed the simplicity and ease-of-use of the Gnome interface. She also doesn’t know the administrative password, so new software has to be installed by my dad or myself, a sort of agreed upon system of checks and balances. The only complaint has been in regard to the availability of plugins for things like Flash, but then again, she’s still running Ubuntu 5.10 (as am I). By Mother’s Day (May 11th in the U.S. this year), release 8.04 should be available and the upgrade effort is already being planned.

No PC? Those low-cost Linux PCs and laptops currently being offered by Asus and others may be just what she needs! Unless your mother is already a programmer or gamer, they should be plenty powerful enough for daily tasks, such as typing letters and surfing the ‘Net.

Show mom you really care – give the gift of Linux!

Happy عيد الأمّ / Dita e Nënës / Մայրության օր / Дан мајки / Ден на майката / Eejiin bayar / День Матери / Свято Матері / Materinski dan / Mother’s Day!

-Brandon

Kewl Link: Microsoft says, ‘Freedom is a virus’

Okay, well not really. It’s…

“…a paraphrased quote on Microsoft’s position on freedom. Microsoft hates the GNU GPL, and considers it to be a virus that infects everything it touches. The GNU GPL, and licenses like it, preserve freedom. So logically, Microsoft hates freedom. This can be seen with the release of Windows Vista and all the delicious fun that OS has become to many who are now either switching back to XP, or getting off the Windows platform altogether. Microsoft also likes to use FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) to stop people using Linux, the only reason being that they would lose money…”

Why is this a Kewl Link? Well, I was on deviantART looking at some graphics and found this.

What do you think about the artist’s full comments on deviantART?

IBM to Fully Support Ubuntu with Lotus: Death of Ubuntu?

by Kevin Guertin

Lotus Notes

IBM believes Linux is finally ready for the corporate desktop.

In an announcement this week at the Lotusphere 2008 conference in Orlando, IBM said that it will provide full support for Ubuntu Linux with Lotus Notes 8.5 and Lotus Symphony using its Open Collaboration Client software, which is based on open standards.

Antony Satyadas, chief competitive marketing officer for IBM Lotus, said the Ubuntu support for Notes and Symphony were a direct response to demand from customers. Lotus Notes 8.0.1 has limited support for Ubuntu Linux, but customers have asked for broader capabilities, he said.

Based on Slashdot comments from users, this isn’t such a great announcement. Some go as far as saying that it will be the death of Ubuntu. Canonical, on the other hand, has said that the availability of Notes and Symphony for use with Ubuntu will be a win for customers everywhere.

Although I’ve never used Lotus (and don’t plan to), apparently over 100,000 business users are interested in moving to Ubuntu Linux on the desktop. That number is a good chunk. If it helps to squash FUD, I’m all for it. Especially for Linux on the business desktop.

What do you think? Will this really be the Death of Ubuntu or will it definitely help solidify Linux/Ubuntu in the corporate world?

FUD Alert! Cheap Laptop Prices Misleading

An article from the Business Standard entitled “Cheap laptop price tags can mislead users” (by D’Monte & Shinde, Mumbai, India, January 24, 2008) warns consumers about the pitfalls of buying a cheap laptop in today’s market. It doesn’t focus on suboptimal hardware offerings, or limited expandability, or the defect-rate of cheap components, or even the impact of pre-loaded bloatware on the unit’s usefulness. I expected any or all of these when I first clicked on the link. Instead, it focuses on the OS cost component and how Linux is being used to bait customers on price point.

The authors (almost) immediately write Linux off in the fourth paragraph, citing the general lack of support for the OS (FUD Pattern #2), commercial offerings of Red Hat and Novell excepted. Once again, the business-centric concept of “good support” – evidenced by a toll-free phone number and a paid staff – is reinforced in the mind of the reader. This simple statement effectively obscures the wealth of online Linux support information and gives the OS a second-rate appearance at best. It also sets the stage for the remainder of the article, a discussion of the popularity of Microsoft’s products in India and the unfortunate piracy rate. The only disparaging remark about Linux after the fourth paragraph is that the affordable Vista Starter Edition has successfully displaced Linux on most new cheap-laptop orders.

On a side note, essentially all of the initial comments support Linux, several even calling FUD. I was impressed with these fourteen opinions…so strong and impassioned, so consistent in thought… so written by only five distinct users. I get the impression that the comment input-box was too small and that two comments had to be spread over eleven submissions. Still, many good points were made in these rants.

Cheers!
-Brandon

Amarok 2 Kutie Technology Preview Released

A pre-alpha release of the wonderful Linux media player for KDE, Amarok, was released today.

There are many things that are broken, non existent or flat out ugly, and we are well aware of that. Some things also work rather well. The purpose of this release is to inspire folks to stand up and help us finish Amarok 2.0. We need developers and artists…[more]

If you are brave and need to play, install it in Kubuntu by following these steps:

  1. Add deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/kubuntu-members-kde4/ubuntu gutsy main to your sources in /etc/apt/sources.list
  2. Run sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install amarok2 amarok2-phonon

Top 10 Linux FUD Patterns, Part 2

Linux FUD Pattern #1: Linux has a steep learning curve

The #1 item on my Top 10 List of Linux FUD Patterns concerns its learning curve. This pattern is probably the most prevalent and primarily appeals to fear by attempting to convince you that Linux is too hard for the average person to use or that it is simply not user friendly. There are many variations of this pattern, from the straight-forward “Linux is for geeks” assault to more mature, logical arguments, such as “if Linux can do everything the fill-in-the-blank OS can do, why bother with the hassle of switching?”.

To be honest, as with every convincing piece of FUD, I think this line of reason has…or should I say, had…a glimmer of truth behind it. Back in the day, when I was casually messing around with Linux as a hobby, I spent many hours on “administrative” tasks, such as installing Slackware from 30+ floppy disks on old retired hardware and trying to configure the RedHat-bundled Metro-X server for specific video cards and monitors. Looking back, these tasks were difficult enough for a seasoned PC tech like myself, let alone for the general public. But today, it’s a different story, especially since Ubuntu makes it so easy.Nonetheless, web news headlines asking “Is Linux Ready for Prime Time?” still appear frequently. What makes Linux so difficult anyway? A quick look through screenshots and how-tos for modern Linux distributions tells quite a different story, does it not? I believe its close association with Unix is the primary reason.

The X logo.Unix in general has a “bad” reputation for being a command-line-driven OS. It was written in the late 1960s and the graphical ‘X’ windowing system was not introduced until the mid 1980s. In contrast, Linux was first released by Linus Torvalds about 1991 and the development of the XFree86 windowing system for PCs began about a year later. Therefore, one could argue that Linux had a graphical user interface “from the start”. Moreover, Ubuntu and others have done a great job in reducing the user’s exposure to the system console altogether. The need to log into the system on a character-based screen and manually run ‘startx‘ is no more. Of course, you may forgo an X session and boot directly into a prompt if you wish, but that is not the default.

First impressions count too. Despite the availability of X, my first serious exposure to Unix was in university in the mid 1990s and took place, not on something as fancy as a Sun SPARCstation, but on an amber-on-black dumb terminal in the school’s computer lab. To me, Unix came to mean a terminal screen, often accessed via telnet over a dial-up connection with the host computer. It was not until several years later that I discovered X.

Case sensitivity is another classic example. Unix and its kin are case sensitive in practically every respect, and most visibly when saving and opening files. This can be a most obnoxious feature when working from the command line, especially for the occasional user; however, the impact is minimal in today’s point-and-click Linux world. I have heard the concern expressed more than once that having two or more different files in the same directory, each with the same name, differing only in case, would be too confusing. My usual response is in the form of a question: why would a person have so many files named essentially the same thing to begin with? Just because it can be done, doesn’t mean that it should be done.

Other differences exist, such as installation methods for both the OS and software applications, but I think I’ve made my point: Linux is very much like Unix, but it is not the same OS. Linux was made for the x86 PC platform, though other platforms are supported as well. It was written with the end-user in mind, knowing that the everyday user will demand a slick windowing environment, web browsers with plug-in support, and the like. Contributors to Linux and its applications are everyday users too, you know.

How can these negative perceptions be overcome? The concept that Linux is very similar – but not the same as – Unix is too academic, too logical and would take far too long to adequately communicate to the masses. It just doesn’t make for good marketing.

Nothing, however, beats seeing it in action! Remember what I said about first impressions? Live CDs are very useful weapons against FUD. They allow potential users to test drive the OS, to try before “buying”. This helps prove to some that Linux has come a long way in terms of automatic hardware detection and other features that make it user friendly. It’s also much easier than going to the extent of configuring a dual-boot system. The downside is, they can be a bit slow under certain conditions. If a friend has a Linux system already installed, it may be better to try that out instead.

It is also fortunate that the academic community has shown an interest in Linux. Of course, this stems partially from the never-ending need for schools to save money, but there are also purely-educational reasons for using Linux as well. For example, Linux provides an open platform for programming classes and many math- and science-based applications have been developed. Early exposure to Linux means that kids will “grow up” with it and its “peculiarities”.

Hopefully, this treatise will help you keep an open mind the next time you read an article on how Linux could dominate the market “if only it were easier to use”, or help you form an appropriate response when someone expresses the same sort of sentiment in conversation. Always seek out the reasons used to support these opinions and remember that experience should provide more convincing evidence than the rhetoric of FUD.

Cheers!
-Brandon

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