Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Monthly Archives / January 2011

  • Jan 31 / 2011
  • 2

Countdown to Debian Squeeze

Debian GNU/Linux releases “when it’s ready” and things are looking good. Estimated days to go:

While the exclusion of things non-free from the installation media of the “Official” release may be an obstacle for some, there are workarounds at CDimages with non-free firmware. That’s a relief to me because I love installations over the network and the non-free firmware blobs are essential unless I carry along some NICs just for installations or supply drivers on a separate medium. Many machines have e100 drivers for NICs and the firmware is distributable legally but closed source/non-free. Getting stuff from the web is not an option if the NIC is down. This is a problem that still needs work, not workarounds. A lot of controllers are ARMed. Perhaps the manufacturers could publish the source code that could be built in Debian GNU/Linux and other distros. Perhaps the manufacturers will rationalize their devices to eliminate this problem. As the proportion of GNU/Linux users rises this may evolve.

There’s lots of great software in Squeeze. I just touch the tip of the iceberg with 1630 packages on this notebook out of 28K+ in the repository. Some of my favourites are LyX, LibreOffice, GIMP, InkScape, vlc, Dia and mplayer on the desktop and Apache, MySQL and PHP on the server. For making my own software I use vim, FreePascal and BASH usually. So much software. So little time.

  • Jan 31 / 2011
  • 8

Attacks on FLOSS

We have seen it all:

Some of this may be just the fringe loonies that inhabit the web. Some may be spammer/malware-artists wanting to get in on the action. Some may be M$ or its “partners” trying to mess with the competition.

A lot of the noise has been drowned out by the rapidly increasing strength in numbers of the FLOSS community. Proponents of non-free software are losing momentum in the market due to the obvious success of Android/Linux and the steady march of GNU/Linux on server, desktops and other infrastructure.

The last item in that list is about the EU Commission renewing its own IT with non-free software after deciding that FLOSS should be considered/given a chance in procurement. After years of study found FLOSS beneficial, the obvious calculation that non-free software licences offer no value ( $X * forever = $infinity), and a formal decision to include FLOSS, FLOSS is being excluded once again. They are actually considering making the contract without competitive bidding even though they have attacked member states for doing the same. I see no logical explanation except that some enemy of FLOSS has one or more moles in the EU Commission. Following the money, that may be M$.

  • Jan 29 / 2011
  • 6

Lower Attach Rates

That’s a phrase that caught my eye in M$’s latest quarterly report.

Three months ended December 31, 2010 compared with three months ended December 31, 2009
Windows Division revenue decreased primarily due to the prior year launch of Windows 7, including recognition of approximately $1.7 billion of revenue in the prior year related to the Windows 7 Deferral. OEM revenue decreased $1.8 billion or 32%. This decrease was driven by the prior year launch of Windows 7, reflecting a decrease in inventory in our distribution channels, and lower Windows attach rates in China, Continue Reading

  • Jan 28 / 2011
  • 5


There are rumours/speculations about “8″. I suspect they are mostly what’s in the works from M$. Nothing else could compete with what’s happening in the real world with ARM+GNU/Linux+Android/Linux. M$ will have to sell licences to a distributed OS with services in the cloud. “8″ will be essentially a thin client + terminal services system. The only question is how they integrate with hardware platforms. They could supply a “quickstart” client for each, perhaps in place of the BIOS but more likely it will be a minimal OS that installs on each platform. We shall see. Continue Reading

  • Jan 28 / 2011
  • 3

Chemistry, Quantum Mechanics and Thermodynamics Align Against Apple

Apple may test their user-interface and design it well but not being a global operation hurts them. They got the physics of antennae wrong and now they are being left out in the cold for not operating in the cold… Here’s a hint:

  • galvanic cells (“batteries”) deliver lower voltage at lower temperatures,
  • energy levels of charge carriers in semiconductors fall at lower temperatures, and
  • electrical resistance in semiconductors can increase with falling temperatures.

I would guess Apple’s engineers know these things but I would bet the pointy-headed bosses don’t want to waste money on actually verifying that systems work in the real world. It’s fun to see a powerful corporation proven to be so foolish. I think the ithingies may have peaked…

  • Jan 28 / 2011
  • 0

Chickens Roost

Remember how explosive the sales of “7″ were going?
” revenue for Redmond’s Windows division fell to $5.1 billion from $7.2 billion, a 29 percent drop. Net income from Windows sales was down 39 percent to $3.3 billion from $5.4 billion”
see ITworld

Reality distortion fields are failing, rats are leaving a sinking ship, and survivors are throwing others overboard.

In a year when 450 million PCs were sold, M$ managed to put “7″ on only 300 million. That’s 66%, folks… What was on the other 150 millon? Previously purchased licences for XP in business. Not Vista. A bunch were GNU/Linux, folks.

Diversification? The on-line deficit grew. Only toys showed good growth. Perhaps M$ should get out of IT.


2011 Will Be Big, Very Big

Industries supplying IT are shivering with excitement.

  • TSMC is cranking up production and planning 18 inch wafers and 20 nm. ARMed chips have been huge and may increase 8-fold in sub-$150 smart phones running Android GNU/Linux.
  • tablets could ship 42 million units in 2011, about 10% of PCs
  • AMD is finally producing a modern low-powered CPU although still with x86 architecture
  • all types of PC shipments are growing although some formats are slower than others.
  • China, alone, is changing from a producing to a consuming nation providing a ready market for Chinese producers.
  • Thin clients are growing rapidly in shipments after the bitter consolidations of a few years back.

Continue Reading

  • Jan 27 / 2011
  • 9

Gaming Comes to Android/Linux

Gaming is one of the niches often touted as a show-stopper for GNU/Linux. I ignored gaming mostly because I am too old to be interested but others do not. Now Sony is bringing PlayStation content to Android/Linux. Since as many ARMed thingies will be produced as conventional PCs in 2011, this is potentially a huge entrance into gaming on Linux. It could eventually assist GNU/Linux on x86 if Sony ports stuff to GNU/Linux more generally. It’s definitely a major shift for SONY.
see the press release
“Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCE) today unveiled “PlayStation®Suite” (PS Suite), delivering the PlayStation® experience to Android™ based portable devices*1. Through this entirely new initiative, users will be able to enjoy PlayStation content on an open operating system for the first time in PlayStation history.”

  • Jan 27 / 2011
  • 2


News (?) that Google was censoring search for torrents disturbed me as bittorrent is a powerful tool to permit wide distribution of FLOSS at minimum cost and uplinking is one way ordinary folks can “give back” to the FLOSS community.

No fear, “torrent” finds 4700 hits. Perhaps the censorship is more targeted or being phased in.

  • Jan 26 / 2011
  • 20


I can remember about 1957 I won a 5 cent coin for my efforts in the high jump at Field Day in a one-room school house in the bush. That was a prize rewarding me for accomplishment. Another more recent prize was for $600K or so for development UNIX by Dennis Ritchie, Ph.D., Distinguished Member of Technical Staff Emeritus, Bell Labs,
Alcatel-Lucent Inc., and Ken Thompson, Ph.D., Distinguished Engineer, Google Inc., a major step up in operating systems and, as it turned out, something of lasting value still widely used. That’s sweet. Here, I have been told that GNU/Linux or any UNIX-like OS is so old-fashioned.

There is still a possibility Bill or someone will be rewarded for developing that other OS but I doubt it. Compared to the design of UNIX, that other OS is a nightmare of Kludges. Facilitating malware and slowing down just does not seem as valuable to humanity.

  • Jan 26 / 2011
  • 2

And It Came To Pass, The Tiny ARMed PC

This thing is pocket-sized but it’s not a mobile thingie, it’s a desktop PC. CompuLab has been making industrial controllers and such using x86 but lately it is going with ARM. No doubt they like the performance per cubic centimetre/dollar.

I was expecting things like this to appear in the fall but these guys plan on shipping in April. No prices yet… If they can undercut eeeBox, we should have some competition in this space. Good.

TFA claims “Linux-on-ARM is at a relatively early stage in its development” but Debian GNU/Linux has been on ARM for years. New gadgets will spark innovation so this could be the start of a whole new era. This gadget looks like the right way to use ARM on the desktop except for VESA mounting. Perhaps ducttape will work. ;-) The eeeBox came with a Vesa bracket/frame to hold the box on the back of a monitor. This could be my first ARMed PC. No “tax” to M$ and it’s tiny and cute. I am not fond of the tiny keyboards or lack of keyboards on netbooks and tablets. This thing is designed for me to hook up my aircraft-carrier sized Fujitsu keyboard, still going strong after many years of typing, and a big monitor.