Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Daily Archives / Friday, April 30, 2010

  • Apr 30 / 2010
  • 4

And it Came to Pass

A while back, I declared 2010 the Year of ARM and predicted by the end of 2010 we would see ARM competing mainstream on desktops and servers. Well, I might have been a few months off, but ARM will make a move within a year. It’s not that I had inside knowledge or can tell the future. It’s just the logical thing to do. If you have a chip that uses less power to get the job done use it where that matters: portables and servers. On portables we want to preserve the battery. On servers, we want to avoid melt-down.

Let’s see… When did I predict the demise of M$? Well, that will come to pass to, but it will take a while longer. I can wait.

  • Apr 30 / 2010
  • 9

Killing Bug #1

Bug #1 affects all GNU/Linux distributions, “M$ has a majority market share.”. The boys and girls at Debian GNU/Linux and Ubuntu are working hard to fix this bug but they cannot do it alone. M$ has enlisted most of the world’s OEMs, retailers, and IT people to work slavishly maintaining a monopoly on the desktop. The GNU/Linux folk need our help to fight for Free Software.

Things we can do that cost little but will have some effect:

  1. Keeping asking retailers for GNU/Linux. Tell them you do not like that other OS and you want a PC that is reliable, does not slow down, does not need re-re-reboots etc. Keep pestering them. They have been saying no one wants GNU/Linux for so long they may believe that is true. Convince them otherwise.
  2. Tell you retailer you will shop elsewhere for what you want because they do not have it. Do not hesitate to use a voice loud enough that a few other customers may hear there is an option.
  3. Have a supply of GNU/Linux installation CDs available on a moment’s notice. Do not miss an opportunity to supply one to any acquaintance.
  4. Offer to install GNU/Linux for folks whose PC has slowed down or been gummed up with malware. Seeing is believing. If they are going to shell out money to fix the problem, it costs them little to try GNU/Linux. For some folks this window of opportunity comes annually.
  5. Ask retailers for products running ARM, not just tiny gadgets but PCs, thin clients and netbooks. Supply them links to suppliers of the products you want.
  6. Have a GNU/Linux PC running at your next social gathering. Someone will be curious and try it.
  7. Support your distro to make it better: testing, debugging, writing documentation, creating graphics.
  8. Talk, blog, boast, shout, show as many people as you can about GNU/Linux. Most already know something about GNU/Linux. Make it something higher on their scale of conciousness, something accessible.

It does no good to point out the negatives about the situation. We must be proactive and show people how their lives will be better using GNU/Linux. Today I showed a man and his niece with a non-booting PC what could be done with GNU/Linux. They are all for it if it saves them the cost of shipping their box by air yet again to the fix-it shop. The machine has been handled roughly too many times that way by its appearance. They have a nice machine but that other OS refuses to run. Chalk up another small victory for GNU/Linux.

  • Apr 30 / 2010
  • 5


It looks as if ASUStek is coming back into the fold of FLOSS with a new product this summer, a tablet-format PC. If it runs Android, is it ARM-based? Amen! That may be the best way for an OEM to escape Wintel. The boss seems to think the pad devices will take 10-20% of the market of netbooks. That is a good vision. Netbooks should also take a percentage of notebooks. I can see within a few years GNU/Linux having 20% share on the low-end devices, including thin clients. After that there is no stopping GNU/Linux on the high end. Too many people will know about it.

  • Apr 30 / 2010
  • 0

“Sources believe”

Digitimes has an article about the stiff competition for notebooks of all kinds globally. There is some debate apparently between IDC and Gartner about who is #1, Acer or HP. It appears that “sources” believe the position will depend on a return to the old days of notebooks, pre-netbook…

“However, the sources believe that as the notebook market will return to focus on traditional notebooks in the second half of 2010, the rankings may reshuffle again.”

I always wonder about unnamed sources. It is very easy for Wintel or Wintel’s partners to put out false news. Alarm bells go off in my head when the sources suggest the good old days will return soon. You cannot put the genie of the netbook back in the bottle. Acer has the inside track distributing such gadgets to ISPs, banks, etc. The developing markets can absorb billions of these things running ARM and GNU/Linux, just not x86 and that other OS…

In physics, this is described as a “population inversion”. A higher energy level of atoms tends to drop to a lower energy level as conditions permit. That is the principle used by many lasers. One atom decaying triggers the others. In IT we have a market that “believes” one needs to sell high-priced devices to make money even as netbook makers are making lots of money, so suppliers are still producing tons of notebooks in the >$500 range while consumers want/need <$300 devices. These sources may be trying to preserve the myth. When Acer forges ahead in the next quarter riding the wave of netbooks, the truth will be clear to all. Then the floodgates of netbooks running ARM and GNU/Linux, to increase margins, will open making my prediction that this is the Year of ARM come true.

Netbooks need lower prices to sell because everyone knows it costs less to produce something that is smaller and has less material. Manufacturers must choose ARM and GNU/Linux because that reduces their costs of production enough to make selling these devices profitable. Unless manufacturers conspire to block ARM+GNU/Linux on netbooks these will take off this year. Conspiracy is not likely because Acer can continue doing what it is doing and climb over HP in the next quarter. Acer will not skip that opportunity for the sake of Wintel. Others will then have to compete by adopting ARM+GNU/Linux. If Acer does not push ARM because Atom is working for them, others will. Enjoy the show.

  • Apr 30 / 2010
  • 4

Success Delayed is Failure

Many are hailing “7″ as a great success. I say not so.

  • “7″ is a bugfix of Vista which was already late
  • XP is still dominant in business

Unless M$ can convince business to adopt “7″ it can hardly be called a success. Recent figures show adoption of “7″ is still slowing and mostly on new PCs. The old XP machines can last several more years. Market acceptance several years later than possible is not success. Of course, GNU/Linux has succeeded in every way but massive adoption, but we do not have a monopoly with OEMs, retailers, and business. M$’s share continues to slide even according to Network Applications.

From M$’s viewpoint, “7″ is a success in that the money keeps flowing in but a failure in that the flow of money is only about 70% of what it could be if they had 100% share of PC production. Putting XP under an old licence on a new machine brings them no joy. That is what business is doing.

The last quarterly report looked good only if you ignore the inclusion of deferred licences from other quarters for “7″. The next quarterly report will be more honest. I look forward to the end of April.

  • Apr 30 / 2010
  • 0
Linux in Education, technology


I just saw an ad on that I have to share. It should read, “Get 1/3 less for your money!”. Rather, M$ states that “1=10″ meaning their restrictive EULA will allow you to connect 10 machines to your PC as a terminal server running their stuff. With GNU/Linux, most modern PCs can run 30 thin clients so you get three times as much computing power for your money.

A GNU/Linux terminal server, sharing using simple X-windows needs:

  • 100 MB per client above the 256MB needed for the OS
  • 100 MHz of CPU frequency per client
  • 1 gigabit/s NIC helps

A typical PC running GNU/Linux uses 1% CPU load per client while pointing, clicking and gawking so 30 clients working hard might reach 30% CPU load. Shared memory in a UNIX OS means only one copy of each application need be in RAM at once. This allows you to use your RAM for users’ data rather than software. 2gB RAM can run the OS and 15 or more users. 4 gB can easily run 30 users simultaneously. At Easterville where I set up a school we used about 3gB per terminal server and rarely reached 50% CPU utilization on dual core CPUs. Imagine how many user we could run on a modern 64 bit CPU with much more RAM!

So M$ is advertising that it is second rate. Pity. They could give customers so much more if they wanted to but they are stuck in their old ways. We should use GNU/Linux to get the best bang for the dollar.