Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Daily Archives / Thursday, October 13, 2011

  • Oct 13 / 2011
  • 7

SJVN Reviews Ubuntu 11.10

“I think you get the first great, unique Linux desktop. Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a great desktop for hardcore Linux users. But, it is great for Linux newcomers.”

see SJVN

I don’t see that. I have introduced thousands of newbies of all ages to “old style” GNU/Linux desktops and newbies had no special problems. They were sufficiently familiar with that other OS that very little training was required. It’s a GUI. You poke around with the mouse and figure things out. Kids love that. Adults less so. How is a totally unintuitive desktop great for newbies? I don’t see being unique as a desirable property of a desktop OS. Newbies may or may not have some experience with a GUI. If they have experience, it is useless with Unity and all has to be relearned. Of course some of us love exploring but the vast majority just want to get the job done. Also, if the old guys don’t use Unity, how are they going to teach the newbies?

Maybe I am too old but change for the sake of change is not an improvement. There are hundreds of millions of GNU/Linux newbies who have been using XP for years. Why make migration to GNU/Linux more difficult? There are hundreds of millions of new PC owners coming on-stream shortly. Why separate them from us old guys?

  • Oct 13 / 2011
  • 9

GNU/Linux on the Desktop Rolls in India

Whereas there are several visitors here of the opinion that GNU/Linux does not make it on the desktop, there is news from India that the courts will migrate to Ubuntu GNU/Linux from RedHat. That should be an easy migration as they are distributing physical CDs and virtual help by SMS text messaging.

So, not only is GNU/Linux on the desktop doing well, people who actually use it for their living have become confident enough to switch distros without much fuss. Compare that with the German Foreign Office which found GNU/Linux brought complaints from users and was too expensive. What’s wrong with this picture? Instead of whining that users should go to M$, users are choosing the distro of their choice. No complaining about “compatibility” or “complexity”. Just getting on with it.

Read the checklist for confirmation of installation. The courts will encourage users to install the software themselves.

“I hereby acknowledge that:
(i) Ubuntu Linux Operating System DVD, as customized by the eCommittee, Supreme Court of India, has been installed in my laptop.
(ii) A copy of Ubuntu Linux DVD has been received by me.
(iii)I have gone through the ‘Important Notes’ given below.
Thanking you,”

Read the features of their customized DVD.

“More than 17,000 courts around India will now be switching over to Ubuntu from RHEL.”

see Indian Supreme Court Switches Over To Ubuntu; So Should USA

  • Oct 13 / 2011
  • 0

Purolator v USPO

Last week I ordered some computer parts and some tools from two web-businesses:

via Purolator:

Date Time Status Activity
10-13 08:09 AM On vehicle for delivery via WINNIPEG, MB depot
10-13 02:25 AM Shipment In Transit via WINNIPEG, MB depot
10-13 02:23 AM Shipment In Transit via WINNIPEG, MB depot
10-11 05:13 PM Left via TORONTO SORT CTR/CTR TRIE, ON depot
10-11 05:00 PM Shipment In Transit via TORONTO SORT CTR/CTR TRIE, ON depot
10-11 04:59 PM Picked up by Purolator via TORONTO SORT CTR/CTR TRIE, ON depot
10-10 07:32 PM Left via METRO NY TERMINAL depot

Via the Post Office:

  • Processed through Sort Facility, October 08, 2011, 9:46 pm, MIAMI, FL 33112
  • Processed through Sort Facility, October 06, 2011, 9:03 pm, NASHVILLE, TN 37227
  • Accepted at origin sort facility, October 06, 2011, 9:03 pm, NASHVILLE, TN 37227
  • Electronic Shipping Info Received, October 06, 2011

So, the Post Office had days of head-start, wasted days going in the wrong direction and has yet to deliver. The winner is Purolator. Anyway, I still have about 10 days before I need those tools… :-(

  • Oct 13 / 2011
  • 43

The World is Still Loving Small Cheap Computers

IDC still insists on calling a PC everything except servers and handheld devices… A recent report shows Lenovo doing very well in terms of growth (+36% year over year for Q3). At that rate they could overtake HP in the next quarter or the one after.

The big picture is that growth of “PC” shipments was only 3.6% per annum, far below the joy being felt with small cheap computers.
“Tablet PC shipments were up nearly 70% Q/Q and over 400% Y/Y with nearly 16.4 million units shipped in Q2’11.” (DisplaySearch).

This bodes well for Android/Linux which is doing well in the smart phone and tablet space. While that other OS languishes in single digits, FLOSS is growing at double digit rates.

  • Oct 13 / 2011
  • 11


NGINX is moving to an “open core” model. They have announced that the base model will continue to be FLOSS but certain components needed by “large enterprises” will not. “Alexeev noted that large enterprises need the support of a commercial vendor, and they are looking to have better efficiency and control.” I don’t believe that is true. It may be commonly held or commonly practised but it is illusory. Large enterprises spend huge sums on licensing and support and it is viable for them to contribute to and share modifications to FLOSS projects to provide whatever features they need. It would be hard to imagine the necessity of making any “secret” customization or something that should not be shared and certainly, NGINX will not be making that kind of business-specific modifications. They will likely concentrate on aspects of performance, something that does not aid competitors in any way so sharing works.

I can see a FLOSS project needing funding to grow but providing service is the right way to do that, not adding non-FLOSS components. Businesses know best what they need and they should be the ones developing and sharing performance-enhancing features, not some FLOSS project on its own. A community is needed to raise a FLOSS project and that includes businesses that use the software.

see NGINX Goes Open Core

  • Oct 13 / 2011
  • 3

Legal (?) Malware

It has been discovered that German police are using malware to spy on suspects’ computers. The particular case in question involves a suspect whose computer was deliberately infected as he passed through an airport. It was a trojan for that other OS.

The recent practice of “examining” computers as a matter of security at airports opens everyone to such an intrusion. There is also the question of whether anti-malware software that detects the malware is interfering with a police investigation or whether the practice is even legal. In Canada, airports are regulated by the federal government so cooperation between local and federal police may be involved.

This matters to Free Software. Intrusion into personal use of computers by police is just as open to abuse as the “normal” criminal element. One could take the view that the policing power of governments has corrupted governments to behave in a criminal manner as if it were somehow correct that our society be run by a criminal gang.

I don’t plan to travel with a computer unless I get a job soon but I will certainly be looking at encryption, intrusion detection, anti-malware, and complete wipes of systems that have been shipped. How long will it be before some police organization or government decides to plant their pet trojan on every PC on the planet? Wait… that’s probably already been done by the Iranians, the Israelis, the CIA, etc. Those organizations believe they know best what’s good for the world and are not shy about doing something about their delusion. Then there’s M$ and Apple and other anti-competitive businesses which have a lot to gain by controlling users. I imagine that these guys would not hesitate to “cooperate” with governments to include trojans in their OS, for a price. That means FLOSS is what we should all be using and building from source code is a good thing because source code is much easier to examine to detect malware.

There are literally hundreds of governmental organizations around the world. If they all decide to get into this game, PCs everywhere are about to slooooowwwww dowwwwnnnnn.

I hate it when technology that can be used for so much good in the world is corrupted by greed and power to enslave people.