Russia Going To GNU/Linux Late Rather Than Never

“Google, Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp., collectively worth more than Russia’s gross domestic product, have all entered German Klimenko’s crosshairs since he was named Putin’s first Internet adviser six weeks ago.
In a 90-minute interview peppered with expletives, Klimenko said forcing Google and Apple to pay more taxes and banning Microsoft Windows from government computers are necessary measures best explained in terms of barnyard economics and marital infidelity”
See Putin’s New Internet Czar Wants Apple and Google to Pay More Taxes
Back in 2010, Putin put into (slow)motion a move to GNU/Linux. There were several projects but nothing concrete and system-wide. Finally, in 2016, thanks to the price of oil, sanctions and global politics, the time is ripe. The new “Internet Czar” has this on his todo list with a high priority. The Russian government has had it with US corporations having control of their IT. FLOSS is the way to go. If they have the code, they can control their own IT. That’s the right way to do it, even if “it” is sometimes the wrong thing like invading Ukraine or Syria.

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“It is time for those who care about the moral standing of the United States to say that this policy is shameful. If the United States and its NATO allies allow their inglorious new partners to encircle and starve the people of Aleppo, they will be complicit in crimes of war.”
See Michael Ignatieff and Leon Wieseltier: Enough is enough in Syria – Tulsa World: Othercolumnists
It was more than enough years ago, before Russia became actively involved in Syria. What’s happening in Syria is a crime against humanity and Assad has to go. The folks not pushing him out are complicit in his crimes. It is the duty of all humanity to fight inhumanity, not to tolerate it.

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 LibreOffice 5.1

“LibreOffice has been downloaded 120 million times since the launch in January 2011. The office suite is deployed by large organizations in every continent, with the latest addition being the Italian Defense Staff with over 100,000 desktops.”
See The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 5.1
That’s a pretty good recommendation when the organization in charge of the defence of a nation opts to use the product.

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Waging War With FLOSS

“The users simply bought what they wanted, and the vendors happily took their money and installed the systems. The result was a collection of standalone systems; each came installed with its own hardware and software, and there was very little sharing of resources between them. While the team made it work through sheer willpower, it was horribly inefficient, a maintenance nightmare, not user friendly, and agility was measured in decades.

Finally, in the middle of all of the drama, the DoD leadership issued a policy update explicitly stating that open source software was acceptable as long as there was support for it, and that the support could come in the form of government programmers, if necessary.”
See Why I fought for open source in the Air Force
I’m often criticized for being an amateur in the world of IT despite long experience in diverse environments and ending up teaching/retired, but here’s a story about professionals working in a very complex high-pressured environment coming to the same conclusion as I did. GNU/Linux and FLOSS works for schools. It also works for USAF.

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Shopping In China and Walmart Are Becoming Identical

“Scheduled Delivery:
Wednesday, 02/10/2016, By End of Day
Last Location:
Departed – Concord, ON, Canada, Saturday, 02/06/2016
Chuckle. I just ordered a bunch of peanut butter and jam from, just to avoid a trip with the car and to see how it worked. I love shopping online…

Your eyes don’t deceive you. Walmart is shipping 42lb of goodies to me from 1500 miles away by courier rather than from a local store just 10 miles away. It doesn’t have to make sense. It’s Walmart’s policy. Besides getting decent prices on the product as usual, Walmart is shipping the stuff to my doorstep at no additional cost. I love it. I just don’t understand how they can make money that way. As a retired old guy, I think it’s a great public service.

There are some downsides. On their site, they don’t always reveal the “list of ingredients”. I like to know my jam has more fruit than sugar, for instance. However, I am familiar with the items I ordered. The peanut butter, for instance, is all peanuts. No added chemicals, just peanuts. I love that. It’s tasty, nutritious and good for me. Also, they can’t tell you how many jars of jam fit in a case so some poor slob has to repackage stuff I would likely order by the full case, given the option.

There are some big upsides. It saves me time and money and maybe I won’t be the old guy you read about that nodded off and drove through a red light into the path of an oncoming truck. I love that. 😉

Front and rear labels on Kraft All Natural creamy peanut butter, E.D. Smith Wildberry jam and Walmart Great Value jams. They are delicious.
UPDATE The goods arrived today, 2016-02-10. As I feared, Walmart had repackaged everything. The glass jars were wrapped in bubblewrap and it was all jumbled with bags of air into a cardboard box that had been butchered and taped. I’m not happy with the packaging and shipping all those miles but it’s a great product at a great price. I still have no idea how many units to order so a whole carton arrives…

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C.H.I.P. – Not A Replacement For Beast, But A Useful Controller Board

I’ve been looking for an ARMed replacement for Beast’s power-sucking/fanfull/large corpse. This isn’t it. It is a very well documented controller that ships with a minimal installation of Debian GNU/Linux complete with GUI. I could, for instance, use this thing to make a pulsewidth modulator for a power supply. It’s obviously overkill for such a task but at the advertised price, $9, it’s OK. Why it can’t replace Beast:

  • only 512MB RAM
  • no gigabit/s Ethernet, just USB and Bluetooth and Wifi…
  • only 1gHz CPU
  • no SATA
  • not shipping until June, 2016

In some ways, it’s a lot like my ancient Ohio Scientific Superboard II, but way better. Just using regular Debian GNU/Linux is a huge plus. There’s a very gentle learning curve. Bluetooth is interesting. I could replace my ancient keyboard and wireless mouse with that technology immediately. Will I be building kernels on it soon? Not likely but there is a SDK which should permit me to fire up Beast to do that from time to time and a simple process to write the local storage. This thing is a great way to add intelligence to any electronic project. It’s not state of the art but it’s tiny and cheap. I’d bet schools would love this. I would love to use this thing to automate the greenhouse, build some intelligent power supplies, manage solar/wind power, monitor water-levels, control pumps, make time-lapse studies of my plants… It could replace a lot of gadgets with simple relays/solenoid valves and such.

See Get C.H.I.P. – The World’s First Nine Dollar Computer

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GNU/Linux Thriving In Education

“Open source in the education world is no longer a rare thing. And I have seen plenty of public Ubuntu workstations in the past during my travels. But I thought this was interesting because it’s the first time I have ever found ones running Unity, which is arguably not the most intuitive interface out there.”
Ubuntu Linux in the Wild: How a French University Uses Unity
The Var Guy is out there. He travels the world dealing with all kinds of folks in IT. He’s right that GNU/Linux is often used in education. It works for teachers and students. It’s simpler and cheaper and more rugged that That Other OS. His surprise that the Unity interface was not a problem would have been true when it was new, but in the years since Unity emerged, Android/Linux and iOS have moved over the face of the deep and are everywhere. People are not afraid their PCs will break if they “do the wrong thing” as they were with That Other OS. They poke around, figure it out and soon they are pointing, clicking and gawking with the best of them. It’s a GUI after all, not quite “intuitive” but since birth humans have reached out and touched things. Unity on GNU/Linux is no different. A few experiments teaches all the user needs to know and they carry on just as they do when meeting any stranger until the stranger is no longer strange.

The world has moved on. There is no longer a monopoly in IT. We can use whatever hardware we want with a variety of software to do what we need done. It’s all good.

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More Progress To GNU/Linux On ARM In 2016

“The Aquaris M10 is equipped with a 64-bit, quad-core, Cortex-A53 MediaTek MT8163A system-on-chip clocked to 1.5GHz, along with a high-powered ARM Mali-T720 MP2 GPU. The tablet ships with 2GB of RAM, 16GB flash, and a microSD slot.”
See Ubuntu “convergence” brings PC-like features to mobiles
Now we’re talking… People will soon be shipping a lot more GNU/Linux on ARMed systems. This latest announcement is decent, but still lacks sufficient RAM for a good multitasking experience. That will happen.

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Ugly, But Effective, A-10s Live On

“There is no weapon in our arsenal that offers more effective close-air support to American ground troops serving in harm’s way than the A-10 aircraft. I look forward to seeing our A-10 pilots continue to make important advances in the fight against ISIL in the Middle East, boosting NATO’s efforts to deter Russian aggression in Eastern Europe, and supporting vital missions for U.S. national security wherever they are needed.”
See A-10 to continue flying, defense secretary says – and Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II
Yep. The A-10 is nearly ideal for the kind of warfare being waged from the air in Iraq and Syria and Afghanistan, hosing down bad guys causing trouble. With enough A-10s about the bad guys can’t concentrate forces nor use vehicles, armor, and artillery to bother the good guys without bringing down a storm of high explosive and projectiles. These things are like flying tanks and a tank’s worst nightmare. On a single mission, an A-10 can knock out half a dozen tanks or other concentrated targets and they can linger, allowing good guys some respite or time and distance to manoeuvre or counter-attack. The bean-counters were going to cancel them but they’re available and they still work despite old age.

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GNU/Linux Wins The Web

TOOS – 1 hoster
FreeBSD – 2 hosters
GNU/Linux – 30 hosters
See Hosting Providers sites ordered by OS
In the “Good Old Days”, M$ actually paid hosters to run TOOS (That Other OS). I guess they’ve given up because of their success in The Cloud. At least in The Cloud there’s competition unlike what M$ did on the client. Freedom from M$ is bursting out all over because most of the web and The Cloud runs on GNU/Linux.

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Between A Hammer And An Anvil There Is No Space For Security

“Malwarebytes anti-malware is the latest security software to be lanced by Ormandy, who has found serious flaws in products from AVG, Kaspersky, FireEye, Trend Micro, ESET, Sophos, and most recently in Comodo’s Chromodo Chrome fork.”
See Google lays bare security flaws in anti-malware product with 250 million users
Personally, I quit using That Other OS when M$ shipped me stuff that just didn’t work. It would crash whether it was idling or in use. It wasn’t a reliable platform for the simple IT of my classroom.

Later, I migrated whole schools that could not afford to keep TOOS running. Between unbootability and malware, it took way too much effort to keep TOOS running. It prevented schools from having enough computers working to do the job. The usual response of schools was to install “antimalware software”, stuff that recognized malware and isolated or removed it. Over the years I worked in schools that used several of the products listed in the quotation on the right. None of them kept the malware at bay. M$ created the malware industry by shipping insecure crapware as an OS. M$ created the antimalware industry by not improving their product but relying on third parties to maintain their jelly-like OS. Between the non-Free (user unable to see how the software worked) nature of most antimalware software, M$’s constantly moving target of an OS and the creativity of the criminals, no one could keep that other OS working.

The latest revelation should be the last straw for many. They should try Debian GNU/Linux. In all the machine-years of usage I’ve seen, I haven’t seen one instance of malware. Not one. Don’t be between the criminals’ hammer and M$’s anvil. Just get away from it all. Use GNU/Linux.

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FLOSS And European Governments

“The French Parliament has last week approved a first draft law for a Digital Republic, which encourages the use of free software by the country’s public administrations. The Assembly (France’s lower house) rejected calls by proponents to make free software mandatory. However, the draft Digital Law does consider source code of software developed by or for public administrations to be public information, which should be made available on request.”
See France Assembly encourages use of free software
While the idea of making FLOSS mandatory went down the drain in France, it’s huge progress that the idea was even conceived and considered. Likely the only reason that requirement was rejected was the fear that certain applications would not be available as FLOSS. It’s time the tail quit wagging the dog.

Governments, if you quit buying their stuff, the “Independent Software Vendors” will make what you want. Don’t enable their monopolistic practices. Encourage competition in the market by using FLOSS. Make vendors compete on merits not marketing machinations.

Over all of Europe, the concept of FLOSS has reached the frontal lobes. The European Parliament is also recommending FLOSS.

Big ideas take some time to be absorbed. At least FLOSS has a foot in the door instead of being locked out as M$ and “partners” designed so long ago.

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