Sad News! ;-)

Digitimes, out of Taiwan, is always watching the markets for electronics, particularly PCs, components and optical devices.“Intel’s Skylake-based processors, originally expected to launch in early third-quarter 2015 to support the release of Windows 10-based notebooks, may not become available until the end of the third quarter or early fourth-quarter 2015. The delay is expected to hurt demand for Windows 10 notebooks.

Windows 10-based notebooks are already facing many negative factors that could impact their shipments in 2015: most enterprises are expected to finish their PC replacement by the end of 2014 after Microsoft terminated support for Windows XP; Microsoft will offer free upgrade to Windows 10 for existing Windows 8/8.1 notebooks; and Windows 10 lacks attractive features.”
They have spies in lots of businesses so their diagnosis is valuable. Folks who depend on Wintel for a living will take an unwelcome hit.

While these details are important clues to what’s happening, the big picture is that the tail is no longer wagging the dog. In the “good old days”, M$ would make a phone call to Intel or have a meeting or utter a threat to Intel and Intel would fall in line as would all the OEMs. Now the whole supply chain only considers M$’s wishes if they’re not busy doing something else… They are tired of tiny margins and restrictions on what they can do to distinguish their products. They are demanding to be paid to install that other OS. They are often installing other operating systems or shipping products with no operating system. OEMs can’t wait for Wintel to get its act together. The OEMs have huge costs whether or not Wintel has a product ready on time.

So, XP is dead, “7” is dying, “8” is a zombie, and “10” is vapourware with nowhere to call home. M$ continues layoffs. POOF! It all falls down. In the meantime Google and the OEMs will crank out many millions of ChromeBooks. Canonical, Linpus, RedHat, Suse… and the OEMs will crank out many millions of GNU/Linux PCs. Several OEMs will crank out many millions of GNU/Linux thin clients. Android/Linux will reverberate with another billion or so units of small cheap computers(tablets, smartphones). This looks like good news to me.

See Skylake processor delay to weaken Windows 10 notebook demand.

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More Failures Of The Wintel Monopoly

A zero-day exploit of M$’s OLE, one of its tools of lock-in,“The Sandworm vulnerability is being actively abused to attack Swiss banking customers, Danish security consultancy CSIS has warned.” is now being used to rake Swiss banking customers who have not patched.

See The ULTIMATE CRUELTY: Sandworm uses PowerPoint against Swiss bank customers.

“Secunia estimates 12.6 per cent of UK users are running unpatched operating systems, up from 9.7 per cent the previous quarter. In addition, one in 10 third-party programs on the average PC are exposed due to failures in installing the latest security updates.”

see UK consumers particularly prone to piss-poor patching.

Of course, this damage could have been mitigated by promptly patching when M$ releases their “Patch Tuesday” updates or sooner in an emergency. That’s the point. Consumers are not IT-people. They don’t know about this stuff. They just know about the speed and convenience of PCs on the web. That other OS is supposed to be “easy to use” but that’s just PR in the ads. It’s also easy to lose all security, have the system slow to a halt or crash. Sometimes, M$ gets it wrong and the patches don’t work. Consumers eventually buy another machine or take the box in for repairs to get it working again.

Even proper IT-people have problems with M$’s zero-day vulnerabilities. Sometimes the malware-writers take the clues and have exploits released in hours so the patching has to happen at an inconvenient hour. I remember working over my lunch hour to patch >100 systems. We used WSUS and automatic updates on the clients but always a few would need to be reminded and then there were the servers… I hated Patch Tuesdays because a convenient time for release in Redmond, WA was the middle of my work-day where I lived. Basically, unless the world has IT-people working 24×7 the world is vulnerable for several billion PC-hours every month even if they patch religiously.

Then there’s GNU/Linux which is relatively free from malware, about 1K times more free, and keeps getting better with each release.

Of course, one should patch GNU/Linux systems too, but they do very well unpatched. The great beauty of GNU/Linux for consumers is that there are hundreds of distros and the typical malware-artist can’t hack them all simultaneously whereas “the monopoly” is a single big fat target. So, better code, fewer malwares and diversity all work together to protect consumers whereas the salesmen running M$ seek to make life “easy” for both consumers and malware-writers. I choose freedom. I use Debian GNU/Linux.

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Freedom Reaches Retail Shelves On Friday

Tomorrow, freedom reaches retail shelves bearing PCs. That’s the day M$ throttles supplies of licences for “7” to OEMs. Eventually, the backlog of “7” machines will trickle out and consumers will only be faced with “8*” which many hate. Inevitably, consumers will ask retailers if they have anything else. There will be ChromeBooks and perhaps, other GNU/Linux distros or naked PCs. Inevitably, OEMs will see demand for “8*” subside and they will start installing GNU/Linux seriously. M$’s next release is looking less interesting with each go round. Finally, there’s competition on retail shelves. Consumers have several attractive alternatives on retail shelves already: Android/Linux, Chrome OS, and some other GNU/Linux. They will welcome more choice, especially at lower prices and in smaller packages. M$ is already giving away licences there. There’s a rumour that M$ will actually pay OEMs to install the OS on certain machines. Can you see the environmentalists complaining about piles of new PCs going to the landfill?

Perhaps freedom won’t turn on like the flick of a light-switch. It will be a gradual process that’s been going on for a while but it will be faster now. People I meet are still wondering what to do about XP. “7” or “8*” or Wintel are not on their radar any longer. They are thinking that if Android/Linux is what I like, why do retailers only offer Wintel on retail shelves? They are thinking that something must be available and they are finding GNU/Linux. On their own. That’s the game-changer. That’s the shift in mind-share.

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Desktop GNU/Linux Wins

Recently there were comments here that downtime from that other OS was just a figment of my imagination/bias/lies…“Out of 65 desktops, around 10 desktops crashed daily. Employees wasted around 30 minutes, that’s five times 30 minutes per week. That’s not acceptable — we had to do something” I stumbled upon an article on the matter of desktop stability (2005). It’s from a business, not a school as in my situation, but they had similar problems, crashes that wasted time.

To me, this is quite an important period because the only reason I migrated to GNU/Linux was to be free of crashes. Later I was glad I did because of performance, lack of malware, avoidance of the EULA from Hell, easy back-ups and installation, easy management, etc. Many other famous migrations happened around the same time and I would bet stability was an issue for them too. Certainly cost, flexibility, and independence from M$ were issues. Many businesses were spending ~$1000 per seat per annum just to keep things running, so it’s not just about licences or being “cheap”. FLOSS is the right way to do IT.

For another article back in the day, read Why Open Source Software / Free Software (OSS/FS, FLOSS, or FOSS)? Look at the Numbers!. That’s the kind of stuff I was reading when I made my change. The story keeps changing but the conclusion’s still the same.

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Systemd Debates

I still haven’t decided what to do about systemd. It seems to be working here and Debian GNU/Linux is inching towards its next release with systemd as default init.“Systemd thus appears to be a massive, fundamental change to core Linux administration for no perceivable gain. This is what is meant when people say that systemd was an answer to a question nobody asked.” TFA, linked below, identifies two or more solitudes fighting over systemd. It identifies desktop and server users as two camps who want/don’t want systemd to run their lives.

I’m kind of straddling the fence… I run multiple PCs and servers and did just fine without systemd and I only tolerate systemd because it hasn’t completely broken my systems. It seems to me that Debian is dangerously close to breaking my systems by even considering that all kinds of stuff could be made to depend on systemd. That’s just not the Debian I know… Why is this even up for discussion?

In case anyone needs reminding, this is from the Debian Social Contract:
“We will be guided by the needs of our users and the free software community. We will place their interests first in our priorities. We will support the needs of our users for operation in many different kinds of computing environments.”
Making all kinds of stuff depend on systemd doesn’t sound like what users need/want. The whole idea of dependencies in APT is making it easy to build systems. If you don’t want systemd and GNOME depends on it, that’s going to be hard. My system doesn’t depend on GNOME but I have a few applications that have a few libraries that do. Even before systemd there were a few applications I did not install because they sucked in half the GNOME repository. Having applications tightly integrated into the underlying OS is a recipe for disaster and the original reason I chose GNU/Linux fifteen years ago. We should be looking forwards not backwards. Why repeat the mistakes that M$ made?

See What we talk about when we talk about Linux and systemd.

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“Duck” as most humans understand it is an attempt to dodge some catastrophe usually by a sudden downward movement of the head/body to avoid danger. Ducks, on the other hand, use the motion to go after submerged food.“Seeing that Chromebooks are enjoying demand from the education sector, brand vendors such as Dell, Asustek Computer and Lenovo have started becoming aggressive about the market, while Acer, Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Samsung Electronics will also launch new products to defend their market shares, according to sources from the upstream supply chain.” That’s what all the major OEMs are doing about ChromeBooks this year. Google and the OEMs introduced Chromebooks gradually into a few regions in the past two years and growth is picking up speed.

Chromebooks are a combination thin client and GNU/Linux desktop/notebook computer. They mostly rely on web applications for users. The operating system just keeps the lights on and manages local resources, but it’s still GNU/Linux underneath that browser. As such, ChromeBooks represent the most public push GNU/Linux on the desktop has ever made. Ubuntu GNU/Linux is about the same magnitude but without this fantastic growth. The combination of Google, big-name OEMs, and the attributes of thin clients without a local terminal server are all coming together to make ChromeBooks a great choice for schools who want to use IT but don’t want to be in the business of IT.

With this level of effort (“Asustek, which originally took a conservative attitude about the segment, is planning to flood the market with many different models starting the fourth quarter of 2014, while Lenovo is investing equally in both the Chromebook and Windows-based notebook segments.”) by OEMs there is sure to be more advertising and a growing realization by net-bound consumers that ChromeBooks make sense. Expect ChromeBooks to take another step up in popularity this Christmas and beyond. There’s no telling how far this will eat into the Wintel monopoly but I expect that ARMed ChromeBooks will grow as well as Intel and a good fraction of the consumers who mostly live on the web will love them. I expect ChromeBooks eventually to have more than 20% share of desktops and perhaps as high as 40% within a few years.

See Dell, Asustek and Lenovo eye Chromebook market.

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LibreOffice Is #1

The amazing vitality of LibreOffice is now reflected“Business users will appreciate that the quality of LibreOffice code is the highest for projects of similar size. According to Coverity Scan, the quality has improved tenfold during the last couple of years, with the number of defects per 1,000 lines of code being reduced from 0.8 to 0.07 thanks to the solution of 6,000 problems. LibreOffice is by far the largest project to have achieved such an outstanding score, with over 9 million lines of code.” in the quality of the code as measured by Coverity and the close partnership between The Document Foundation and business.

LibreOffice is a fine example of what FLOSS can be. When FLOSS projects reach this level of penetration in usage there’s no limit to how far they can go. We’ve seen this before in the Linux kernel, Apache web-server, MySQL database, PostgreSQL database and many others.

Have you enough LibreOffice? If not, download the latest release today.

See The Document Foundation joins the Open Source Business Alliance.

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The Unbundling Of That Other OS At Lenovo

For years, I’ve been annoyed that Lenovo supports GNU/Linux on all its PCs and will ship GNU/Linux for those who demand it but did not advertise GNU/Linux units side by side with units burdened with that other OS. No longer. About a year ago, Lenovo started shipping thin clients with both OS and distributors are listing the products with prices…See the top and bottom listing. Those are identical hardware, one with that other OS embedded and the other with GNU/Linux. Those are just two examples. There are several more in the list of products.

So, that other OS costs you $69 more than GNU/Linux on a thin client device costing $297, 23% of the price. Do you really need to pay extra for permission to have your thin client show the pictures and send the clicks to/from a terminal server? Nope. Not if it’s running GNU/Linux (GNU/Linux thin client lists these protocols and applications: xFreeRDP, Citrix ICA Client,VMware View Client, Java, Mozilla Firefox, NX NoMachine Client, X11 Client, VDI-In-A-Box Java Client, AnyConnect VPN Client). Even if the terminal server runs that other OS, all you need is a CAL at less than half that price. So, businesses are having a choice. Insurance businesses in UK already use thin clients for 20% of PCs and that’s predicted to rise to 39% in a few years. Consumers typically know nothing of thin clients and are denied, but it’s one small step for freedom. I will mention thin clients to my neighbour when we talk about GNU/Linux this winter. He has 4 PCs. No doubt one would make a good terminal server and he can get what he wants with much less cost and complexity.

See also “Lenovo unveils enterprise service expansion though modular thin clients

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GNU/Linux Usage Reaches All-time High In Reunion

I guess the students are back in school. There has been an avalanche of GNU/Linux page-views this week culminating in a high of 24.77% yesterday. I love it.

This is not just some glitch in the stats. The numbers have been ramping up all week.

For those who forget, Reunion is department of France in the Indian Ocean. Population is 841K not counting tourists. They get GNU/Linux.

SeeTop 7 Desktop OSs in Reunion from 1 July 2008 to 25 Oct 2014.

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Corporate Desktop Linux

The trolls who visit my blog and deny that there is any merit to using GNU/Linux on the desktop should save their typing.“W. McDonald Buck, retired CTO of World Bank, believes we need to take a more honest and frank look at the Cost Analyses it will take to put Linux on the corporate desktop. He thinks we may be fooling ourselves now. In this four-part essay he will address the real-world scenarios from small business to the the hard and soft costs that big-business CTOs look at when considering the corporate Linux desktop and what we need to know about making it a successful decision.” It’s all been typed before back in 2005 by the retired CTO of the world bank. He knows what he typed but just like all the trolls he gets it wrong…

Back in 2005, XP was in ascendance/supremacy/peak of its game. Folks with thousands of PCs found it worked for them except for the re-re-reboots, malware, slowing down, etc. It was the accepted standard for IT on the desktop and dozens of lock-ins that M$ conspired to put in place all were working well except where they didn’t.

Munich could have chosen to stick with M$ and adopt XP but they didn’t. The real costs of migrating to GNU/Linux proved less than the costs of staying more than one step on the Wintel treadmill. That’s where Buck got it wrong. While there are thresholds that have to be crossed to migrate a business of any size to GNU/Linux, they have to be crossed only once and then the rest is gravy. Do the maths: N X some cost > some cost for N > 1 . Munich studied all the problems Buck outlined and reduced them to some minimum mix of applications and systems to minimize the overall cost and then just did it. It was a lot of work but it paid off.

In schools where I worked the cost/benefit analysis was trivial. Mostly we needed an OS, browser, office suite and networking, basic stuff which can be combined many ways to accomplish the majority of tasks in our system. Very little training was needed. It was a menu-based system largely with a mouse-pointer. In businesses which Buck was considering, the mix of applications of special purpose was almost certainly more diverse with each department in the business having some set of non-Free software applications designed for their purposes. Still, the cost of replacing/upgrading the hardware and software forever periodically is infinite. With GNU/Linux those costs still exist but after the switch to GNU/Linux the costs at every stage are less.

A business doesn’t need a fleet of GNU/Linux guys to run IT. A few will do because one person can easily manage thousands of PCs with FLOSS. There are no licences to count, no networking limitations, no CPUs to count, … They just have to run the software any way that makes sense.

The application-lockin is illusory. Whatever those expensive applications do, a large business or a bunch of small businesses can get together and replace with FLOSS. Linux, LibreOffice, FireFox, Apache, etc. are all proof of that. Google, SUN, FaceBook, Munich, French National Police, government of Brazil, schools all over the world are proof of that. Whatever software is lacking gets written. The world can and does make its own software. The world has more and better programmers than M$ and all its “partners”. There is no monopoly on intelligence.

So, the trolls can continue to beat their drums as the tide of GNU/Linux adoption continues to rise. Maybe when their drumheads get wet they will stop.

Look at India. GNU/Linux has more than doubled its share of page-views on StatCounter and although the share is still small a lot of it is corporate/government/education.

Does anyone believe that if GNU/Linux cost more than that other OS that India would adopt it?

Look at Germany:

Does anyone believe that if GNU/Linux cost more than that other OS that Germans couldn’t do the maths?

Buck was wrong. A proper cost/benefit analysis works for FLOSS and GNU/Linux. It’s the right way to do IT. When Buck was typing, the trolls were claiming that only GNU/Linux geeks used GNU/Linux and that it would never exceed ~1%. They were wrong and still are. I could show data from Ethiopia or Uruguay where GNU/Linux has beaten most versions of that other OS and students are doing it.

See Part I: Corporate Desktop Linux – The Hard Truth.

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GNU/Linux Is Catching Fire On The Desktop, But It’s Not Your Daddy’s GNU/Linux

Despite nearly 20 years of enduring FUD and mud-slinging and astroturfing, GNU/Linux is finally taking off on the desktop.“Consumers are hungry for a product that is cost effective but also provides the versatility and functionality of a laptop. The growth of the Chromebook market demonstrates a niche that is gaining traction among consumers.” What M$ feared ~1997 has come true, the world is finally seeing the price of Wintel. Bill Gates’ vision was to hide the price with the OEM so the consumer would not be able to comparison-shop and would not know the true cost. That was then. Now, low-end PCs are ~$100 with no room left for a hair-drying CPU from Intel and a licence from M$.

While the shares of page-views due to ChromeOS recorded by StatCounter are still small, Chromebooks are still not sold everywhere and the installed base of legacy PCs is ~1500 million units. While the base is modest for Chromebooks, at ~100% growth of shipments per annum, it won’t take long to make a big dent.

Chrome OS

If we thought your Dad’s GNU/Linux desktop was a threat to Wintel, ChromeOS is Armageddon. It took a decade for Wintel to ship as many PCs as ChromeOS is shipping in one year and it’s still just starting out. Wintel’s huge installed base is only 6-8 years’ production… Further, it’s not just about price. Consumers and businesses don’t want to be IT people. M$ forced that on them. With ChromeOS, folks will have the freedom they’ve been enjoying on their smartphones on their desktops.

See Chromebook shipments leap by 67 percent.

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Democracy And FLOSS

Sign at a conference on eGovernment:

“Accountability + Transparency = Democracy”

How can you have transparency with non-Free software running the system when you can’t see the code? How can there be accountability with non-Free software when you can’t see the code? These things are about more than source code, but to really start being accountable and transparent, the code has to be trusted by everyone. Only opening the code can do that. Free Software is also about the rights of the user of the software. Non-Free software always restricts what a user can do with his own hardware and how a user uses the software on his hardware and the information therein. FLOSS acknowledges the ownership of the hardware and data. For real democracy, governments and citizens should use Free Software, FLOSS, Free/Libre Open Source Software. Nothing else will do.

For one source of Free Software see the Debian organization. They have many thousands of Free Software packages for just about any purpose of government or citizens.

See Modernizing Public Action through Open Data, Open Government, and Dat….

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