Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Monthly Archives / October 2010

  • Oct 31 / 2010
  • 2
Linux in Education, technology

LOTD: GNU/Linux On The Desktop

Brendan Scott also noted assumptions about GNU/Linux never having a place on the desktop by some. I differ with him in that I think it has already happened that GNU/Linux is widely accepted on the desktop but he thinks it can happen in the future because of the durability of FLOSS. Free Software is tough. There is no business to bankrupt or to buy out. The monopoly cannot kill it and it continues to grow.

Different people have different thresholds for acceptance. 1% is wonderful. 10% means that GNU/Linux has become mainstream just about everywhere. I think that’s where we are now. M$’s take per PC sold in the world is down about 10% from the “good old days”1). They have not lowered their prices that much. It’s share. Oh, I know some buy noOS and stick XP on it but that’s probably less than 30% (businesses, likely). The real question no one can answer is how far GNU/Linux will grow. It has not slowed down its growth, about 25% per year some places, and will accelerate when people realize what small cheap computers can do. The mobile devices and netbooks showed them that. Some still feel they must donate $1000 per notebook to Wintel but I know more people who are happier with a $300 netbook and those netbooks run even better with GNU/Linux.

I believe that the year GNU/Linux became widely accepted on the desktop was 2009. The netbook settled that discussion as far as I can tell. GNU/Linux netbooks sold out for many months before M$ bought off ASUS and others. M$ lost $1billion in revenue when they did that. They have nothing like that leverage on ARM which will push into x86 strongholds this year. Dell has been making money selling GNU/Linux machines for several years now and are increasing its presence. Other OEMs are doing the same. Here GNU/Linux went from 100% to 5% in one year in the school and many machines were installed of GNU/Linux in the community. Not one person asked for XP to come back.

Footnote

year M$’s for OS ($B) PCs sold Q3 (M) M$’s per PC
2005 3.191 55.04 $58
2010 4.785 89.683 $53


M$ took a hit of $5 per PC while OEMs sold PCs for $hundreds less. M$ did not actually reduce prices but lost share.

In 1997, M$ thought they had 80% of PCs. They were aiming for 90%. The good old days are passed.

  • Oct 31 / 2010
  • 2
technology

Facade

I was thinking just this morning how absurd it is that the world of IT, to a large extent, accepts M$ as the font of all knowledge in IT. That is an absurdity. Locutus had the same idea recently. Why do people who suffer malware, slowing down, unbootability, crashes and re-re-reboots keep buying from the same unreliable suppliers? Too many seem not to know there is a choice. The retailers fall into that category. If they know there is a choice they would stock it just like they do tires.

Imagine what would happen if Goodyear started selling only tires for Hummers? Would you go out and buy a hummer? That’s what M$ wants folks to do with “7″. We only sell “7″ so you’ll have to go out and buy a new PC to get it. 90% do not install an OS so they have to buy a PC to get “7″. We would laugh at Goodyear and buy some other brand. That’s what folks should do with operating systems. Buy a different brand. You’ll get what you pay for and not some lock-in to a monopoly.

There are plenty of folks selling PCs with another OS. Just use Google or go to LXer. The most popular brand of GNU/Linux for newbies is Ubuntu on desktops and notebooks and Android for smart-thingies. Ubuntu really makes an effort to produce a system easy for newbies. Once you are comfortable with GNU/Linux in Ubuntu, I would recommend Debian GNU/Linux because it gives much more control over the system. Android is a quite different GUI placed on top of GNU/Linux designed specifically for smart-thingies. It is probably the best OS for smart-thingies because of the huge number of applications you can get for it.

Do not accept the facade of Wintel. There are other platforms out there and they will work for you. You will be able to save money and/or get better hardware too.

One more thing. There are folks who believe “you get what you pay for” in software licences. Consider this. M$ spent $billions developing Vista and “7″ after XP. They recoup all their costs every quarter or two. So you pay for more than what you get with that other OS. GNU/Linux also costs $billions to produce and you get it at no cost for the licences, just the cost of copying and installation. You can do it yourself. Typically, a download burnt to a CD from which you boot gets the job done. It takes about half an hour for a newbie on a newer PC. An older PC might take an hour or a bit more. How can GNU/Linux cost so little? The world needs software and can make its own. There are far more people contributing to GNU/Linux than to that other OS and each gets to use the whole thing. They let you use if for free because they make their living by other means than selling licences. It’s that simple. Developers who are paid to write software do not need to sell you a licence. The employers of those developers need the software their employees produce to run their businesses. They are not in the business of selling licences. GNU/Linux is a cooperative product of the world. Think cooperation, not licensing fees. The licence under which most GNU/Linux is distributed is the GNU GPL (GNU Public Licence) which gives you permission to use, examine, modify and copy/distribute the software. GNU calls it Free Software, not because of the price but because of those four freedoms. It’s just a better way to do IT.

  • Oct 29 / 2010
  • 3
technology

Lock-in Is Double-edged Sword

M$ made IE6 to be “different” so that their customers would not want to stray to other browsers and other operating systems. While in the short term that worked and propped up market share it is now working against M$ as those same customers cannot move to “7″ and IE8.
“Organizations running IE6 have told Gartner that 40% of their custom-built browser-dependent applications won’t run on IE8, the version packaged with Windows 7. Thus many companies face a tough decision: Either spend time and money to upgrade those applications so that they work in newer browsers, or stick with Windows XP.”

Good. After going to the expense of rewriting all those custom apps, businesses will be able to use any OS and get out of the trap M$ set. Look at it this way. If you just got yourself out of a bear-trap, are you going to step into another close by? Not likely. People and organizations learn from their mistakes.

Think of that the next time you build an application or buy a licence for one.

  • Oct 29 / 2010
  • 1
technology

POOF! Go Oracle’s Claims Against Android

Last summer, Oracle sued Google vaguely about infringement of copyright and patents in Java by Google. Google took its time but eventually replied to the court that Oracle’s claims were vague and not worthy of their time. Oracle promptly replied with an amended claim with an “example” of copying. Within hours Groklaw has an update that shows the “example” is from OpenJDK and was released under the GPL. Further, the “example” is not a copy but a derived work. This is like SCOG v World in fast motion. SCOG took years to get to this state of embarassment. Perhaps now the court will be able to resolve matters more quickly. Expect a third amended complaint shortly… Chuckle.

  • Oct 29 / 2010
  • 0
Linux in Education, technology

Storm Clouds

Google is in an embarrassing situation. Their Google Docs service is broken. Folks with multiple accounts are having problems connecting. They get into redirect-loops. It’s good to see Google are human and make mistakes. That will keep them honest…

Normally this kind of error is caused by something simple like referring to one part of the site from another with the wrong URL, particularly assuming something is the same for both. e.g. (in the extreme) The guy controlling the server might see his server at http://localhost while the end-user somewhere on the web will not get far with a URL like that. Of course, Google’s problem is more complex. They have a million servers and a bunch of domain-names. They have been struggling with the issue for a week. I will bet they are trying desperately to see what they changed a week ago…

This tail is poignant for me. I have been working on a relatively trivial web-site for our LAN. It’s simple. It keeps attendance. Well, I have been the beta tester. I had two major bugs and a significant lack of functionality. I fixed the first bug, buffer over-run, and got the thing working. Then I increased the functionality by permitting the user to enter the data for any date (allowing back-dating to September). It all came together. Then, to my horror, I found the last class of the day had some spurious course numbers… The last digit was repeated. How Hallowe’enish is that? The problem occurred only on the last student in the last class so I hunted around for another over-run and found it. I was scanning a number-field off the end of a record. By coincidence it always happened that the last correct digit was found in that place. Fortunately, I only had to repair the database in three places. Imagine what would have happened if I had turned all the high school teachers loose on that one? Dodged a bullet…

Google is not so lucky. They missed something and it will be damaging their businesses. M$’s salesmen will get overtime this week.

  • Oct 29 / 2010
  • 2
Linux in Education, technology

Serious Threat of Malware on GNU/Linux

It had to happen sooner or later. The write-once-run-everywhere platform, Java, is being used to install malware on GNU/Linux, MacOS and that other OS all at the same time.

see http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2010/10/28/cross-platform-worm-targets-facebook-users/

Time to ban Facebook.com and install DansGuardian+clamav on the router.

In /etc/hosts , I can put a line like

127.0.0.1 facebook.com facebook

Instead of 127.0.0.1. I can also put the IP address of my friendly, neighbourhood server. I can also block facebook.com at the firewall. For those enterprising kids who know IP addresses, I can block
facebook.com. 758 IN A 69.63.189.16
facebook.com. 758 IN A 69.63.181.12
facebook.com. 758 IN A 69.63.189.11
69.63…
66.220…

Dansguardian serves as a kid-filter application that runs on a web-proxy like Squid to filter all URLs and content. It has blacklists, whitelists, and the ability to steer everything to Clamav to detect malware. Sigh. I expect protests from users…

UPDATE Adobe is at it too…

see http://www.adobe.com/support/security/advisories/apsa10-05.html

All recent versions of Flashplayer and Reader are involved for that other OS, MacOS AND GNU/Linux. Sigh…

  • Oct 29 / 2010
  • 0
technology

ASUS Coming Back to GNU/Linux

ASUS has announced the release of new tablet PCs for Christmas and 1Q 2011. One of the models will be 9 inch with ARM and Android. Competition is back at ASUS.
“As for the 9-inch models, Asustek will have one model adopt the ARM-based Nvidia Tegra 2 platform with Google’s Android operating system and the other the Wintel platform. The two 9-inch models will have a price gap of about US$100, Shen noted.”

$100. That is a reasonable difference for ARM+Android v x86+that other OS. Let the market decide. ASUS would not produce the ARMed version if it did not hear that the market wanted small cheap computers. ASUS is still small in notebooks, shipping only about 1 million per month, but in netbooks they shipped 0.5 million per month. They see the advantages of small and cheap in the market and they have good margins with x86. They will have much better margins with GNU/Linux. M$ will try to reduce those margins by taxing Android, but they will fail ultimately.

Other OEMs watch ASUS. 2010 will finish well and 2011 looks to be even better for GNU/Linux.

  • Oct 28 / 2010
  • 0
technology

11%

11% is what IDC says the growth in global PC shipments was in Q3 from 2009 to 2010 and that’s about what M$’s increase in revenue for that other OS on clients was.

That’s not very exciting for the monopoly when they finally produce a decent product after 6-8 years of effort. Imagine how sad the picture would be if GNU/Linux and MacOS had been on the same shelves in the retail channel. 11% is about normal growth in numbers of PCs sold and these quarters were pre-”7″ and post-”7″ so there was not a rush to buy “7″. The business division had a similar gain. The huge price of Office must have saved them. No wonder more businesses are using OpenOffice.org every day. M$ would have nearly doubled profits if they had never produced Vista or “7″ because their costs would have been much lower.

Seen another way, in a quarter when 90million PCs were sold they had revenue of only $52 per PC while in the pre-”7″ Q3/2009 they had revenue of only $52 per PC so “7″ was worth nothing more than XP. All that time. Billions invested… No return on investment. Bloat is a burden even to M$.

  • Oct 27 / 2010
  • 0
Linux in Education, technology

Push Comes to Shove in Russian Educational IT

A school leader was pushed out after objecting to students being forced to use that other OS instead of the government-mandated GNU/Linux. His complaint was referred to his employer who applied pressure. It sounds like one hand does not know what the other is doing, but someone high up in the food-chain has a desperate need that people use M$’s stuff. That sounds familiar. Is it a bribe? Friendly persuasion? From M$? Who knows. Stay tuned to find out how the story ends.

see Moscow Times

see TechRights for information on other dirty tricks pulled on behalf of M$ recently

  • Oct 27 / 2010
  • 4
technology

M$’s Reluctant Customers

There’s news from KACE that M$’s customers are clinging tenaciously to XP with many even planning to stick with XP after 2014… That’s deadly for a monopoly that relies on businesses staying on the Wintel treadmill. The message is clear. XP is enough bloat for anyone and there’s no need to disrupt IT to please M$.

The result IMHO is that when businesses finally cannot get drivers for XP for new equipment they will seek MacOS or GNU/Linux. If price matters, it will be GNU/Linux.

see KACE
“The survey included some seemingly odd results, such as the 48 percent of respondents who said they would continue to use Windows XP without support. Microsoft plans to end support for Windows XP in April 2012, which means that users will no longer receive regular security patches for the operating system. Meinhardt speculated that XP will continue to be used, but not across the organization, in such cases.

“My sense is that 48 percent will use XP in isolated areas of their business where it’s cost prohibitive to move a customer application to Win 7,” Meinhardt stated via e-mail. “This is consistent with what we saw with Win 98. It’s not that 48 percent of customers will use XP as their primary OS.”

The survey also found that alternative productivity suites have made some inroads. The most frequently used Office alternative was OpenOffice.org (18 percent), followed by Google Docs (10 percent).”

28% not using Office??? _sarcasm_How can they possibly manage?_/sarcasm_

  • Oct 27 / 2010
  • 0
technology

The Android Phenomenon

Here’s a tidy outline of the time-line. This shows what GNU/Linux can do with promotion and little or no anti-competitive acts from Wintel (except for a few fizzling lawsuits). GNU/Linux works and it works on everything from ARM to HPC. There is nothing preventing the phenomenon of Android from spilling over onto the desktop/notebook market. Android works and its heart is GNU/Linux.

There has been some hesitation in other than smart-phones this year with lots of announcements but few new products on shelves. Expect the dam to burst by Christmas. Many products are in a high state of readiness and the demand is there. The latest ARM multi-core chips are amazing.

see a video on Archos 7″ tablet for $275.

and

http://www.engadget.com/2010/08/31/archos-unleashes-five-five-new-android-froyo-tablets-we-go-h/

  • Oct 27 / 2010
  • 0
technology

Selling What the Consumer Wants

iSuppli reports that China had a “disappointing” back to school season. Their conclusion is that people are sticking with their old equipment longer. My conclusion is that that is true. Consumers have seen “7″ and it offers little that their old PCs offer as long as XP lives. If suppliers want people to resume buying, they need to offer small cheap computers in spite of Wintel. They have to sell netbooks etc. running GNU/Linux on ARM. Upselling is like swimming upstream. It loses speed rapidly. The developed markets are saturated. Producers need to cater to the emerging market which cares little for Wintel.