Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Monthly Archives / April 2012

  • Apr 30 / 2012
  • 59

GNU/Linux Has Taken Off

Again, a big article was written to support a false thesis:
“why hasn’t Linux on the desktop taken off?”

In it Maria Korolov trots out a long list of “problems” with GNU/linux for large businesses. Here’s an example: “a typical organization will have one application for every 10 users, and, today, about half of those applications require the Windows operating system”

That makes no sense at all. It means businesses, money-making organizations, are foolishly paying for far too many applications. The largest organizations on the planet are governments and as we saw in Munich, it is worthwhile to shed unnecessary applications and rationalize the rest.

Then, there’s training. As if using a desktop paradigm that has been around for two decades requires a lot of training for users familiar with XP! I have often handed a GNU/Linux desktop over to a visitor with no hand-holding and some are not even aware that it is not that other OS. Munich found it did not reach its budget for training even though they were formal about it. Networking amongst staff costs little, is a part of normal business and gets the job done without phoning IT.

Even money. TFA suggests that the savings in licensing are eaten up by higher support costs. Nonsense! What about the malware and slowing down and re-re-reboots and Patch Tuesday? That costs a lot. There’s huge saving in using a package manager such as APT to manage a fleet of PCs. Large organizations like the French national police, IBM, Google, Munich, have no problem at all saving money with FLOSS.

Get over it, Maria. The world does not owe M$ a living.

For a good laugh, read Why Linux is a desktop flop

The bottom line? Even if everything in TFA article were true, none of it applies to non-business use of IT which is huge. The same people who quote NetApplications as stating GNU/Linux is 1% of something have nothing to say when NetApplications shows the region around San Francisco, USA, has 28% GNU/Linux clients. That would not happen if anything in TFA were true.

  • Apr 30 / 2012
  • 0


Darned if one of the in-laws hasn’t figured out how to lose weight… So, now “the little woman” is on my case to eat right. In the North I did eat right because I had only lean meat, fruits, vegetables and cereal to eat, you know, nutritious, filling stuff.

Here, the refrigerator and pantry are always stocked with “munchies” and quick foods so it is easy to over-eat.

Well, Free Software is coming to my rescue. One of the applications in the GNU stable is GNUtrition, a database of nutritional facts about everything. It told me what I already knew. I could eat just about as much as I want of beans, vegetables, fruits, and rice without being fat…

Should I share with her my analysis?

Anyway. I downloaded the source from here and checked the signature here, with the public key from here…

gpg –recv-keys 47486962
gpg –verify gnutrition-latest.tar.gz.sig
tar xzf gnutrition-latest.tar.gz
cd gnutrition-0.31.1
make install

On my system I had to add two packages to ./configure the package: python-mysqldb and python-gtk2. On the first run the programme asked for database passwords for MySQL.

  • Apr 30 / 2012
  • 9

XBMC in Debian Wheezy

When I learned of this, I scanned the release for packages:
“apt-cache search xbmc

xbmc – XBMC Media Center (arch-independent data package)
xbmc-bin – XBMC Media Center (binary data package)
xbmc-data – XBMC Media Center (transitional package)
xbmc-eventclients-common – XBMC Media Center (Event Client Common package)
xbmc-eventclients-dev – XBMC Media Center (Event Client Dev package)
xbmc-eventclients-j2me – XBMC Media Center (Event Client J2ME package)
xbmc-eventclients-ps3 – XBMC Media Center (Event Client PS3 package)
xbmc-eventclients-wiiremote – XBMC Media Center (Event Client WII Remote support package)
xbmc-eventclients-xbmc-send – XBMC Media Center (Event Client XBMC-SEND package)
xbmc-live – XBMC Media Center (XBMC Live package)
xbmc-skin-confluence – XBMC Media Center (transitional package)
xbmc-standalone – XBMC Media Center (transitional package)”

It’s a bit complicated, but detailed steps are listed here. The tricky part is not the multimedia but the IR receiver and programming the remote control. We have this on two machines here with Ubuntu GNU/Linux. My son configured them. It’s the “VCR” of the 21st century…

  • Apr 30 / 2012
  • 45

Venezuelan Government Blasted for Buying That Other OS

The government of Venezuela which supplies computers, was caught agreeing to buy 205K licences for “7″ despite its own policies to prefer FLOSS. The blast in a blog by COLIBRIS is quite thorough and debunks all the usual myths trotted out to prop up the monopoly. They demand a reversal and other action.

  • MYTH 1: “People prefer Windows”
  • MYTH 2: “Windows is better”
  • MYTH 3: “Give people opportunity to choose what they want”
  • MYTH 4: “Canaima is difficult to use”
  • MYTH 5: “Windows is for everyone”
  • MYTH 6: “In Canaima, support is more complicated”
  • Myth 7: “We must make the transition for people to adapt”

Besides debunking the myths, they list their own facts:

  • FACT 1: The acquisition of 205 000 licenses harms national development
  • FACT 2: It discourages those who work to develop our own technologies
  • FACT 3: It strengthens the monopoly status of Microsoft at the expense of our own technologies
  • FACT 4: He spends an important amount of currency that could be used on higher priority projects
  • FACT 5: The 3390 Presidential Decree violates the Free Software
  • FACT 6: violating Presidential Decree 6649 against luxury spending
  • FACT 7: Microsoft has repeatedly tried to intervene in internal affairs of our country
  • FACT 8: Microsoft supports legislation harmful to human rights and development of our people

Amen. They left out that M$ is evil but I guess one could sum it up that way. The sad thing is that after decades of monopoly people still have to prod others to fight for freedom. It should be obvious that promoting that other OS is weird/unnatural. The world can and does make its own software cooperatively.

I recommend Debian GNU/Linux for many reasons including having more control over IT. Allowing a remote corporation to run our IT is unnecessary, dangerous and wasteful.

see Lubrio – Cantv y VIT gastarán Bs. 53,7 millones para comprar licencias Windows: Por qué no estamos de acuerdo (Spanish)

Lubrio –
VIT Cantv and Bs 53.7 million spent to buy Windows licenses: Why we disagree
(Google Translation)

  • Apr 30 / 2012
  • 0

Oracle v Google Reaches a Critical Point

Phase 1 of the trial of Oracle v Google ends this week with summations on copyright today. The judge is under pressure to rule on dismissal as a matter of law of some/all of Oracle’s claims of copyright violation because Oracle has not shown any evidence that’s compelling that it even owns the copyrights in question. The filing with the copyright office was for a collection and Google only used bits and pieces of Java’s specifications. It may be that the jury will be given only a tiny fraction of the matter to decide, or even nothing at all. It may be that the only fact remaining to be decided is whether or not Google copied the documentation which was permitted to be copied under the GPL … I expect the day will not end before the judge gives a ruling although, in principle, he could wait until the jury gives its verdict. I would think that the ruling would be important for the summations. Oracle’s lawyers must be wishing they were elsewhere about now.

Stay tuned at GROKLAW.

UPDATE The matter has gone to the jury and it appears the judge will not make his ruling until after the jury speaks.

  • Apr 30 / 2012
  • 1

OEMs of PCs Doing the Maths

OEMs have figured out that “8″ will not drive a wave of replacements of PCs because of the cost of touch-screens, CPUs and the licence of that other OS. Consumers are going to prefer small cheap computers with */Linux. This is what M$ feared a decade ago when PCs were ~$1K. The difference is that tablet PCs running */Linux are on retail shelves and consumers can see the prices… M$ and “partners” have nowhere to hide.

In other news, Digitimes reports that 21.5 million tablet PCs are expected to ship in Q2 2012, compared to 90 million x86 PCs…

Can you hear the shackles falling off a billion or more users of PCs?

see Digitimes – PC vendors reportedly facing challenges from Windows 8

  • Apr 29 / 2012
  • 9

“Think Globally. Act Locally.” Works for Operating Systems

An interesting piece of data collection just surfaced for me. A lot of people use search engines. It makes a big difference what operating system people use… 32% of users of that other OS use search engines. 14% of users of GNU/Linux use search engines. When you consider people searching for local resources then the share of usage for users of GNU/Linux shoots up to 36% (tied with iOS on mobile devices). Only 23% of users of that other OS search locally. Local businesses with bricks and mortar establishments cannot afford to ignore the existence of users of GNU/Linux. It seems that users of GNU/Linux have a much larger share of local searches than their numbers (share of OS usage) would indicate. Walmart, are you listening?

Why the differences? It’s beyond me, unless users of that other OS practise sending money to a “virtual business”, M$, while users of GNU/Linux tend to want to see more details…

In my own searching, I mostly search the web for information about the blog and other information like how to grow this or that, and what a pangolin eats… but I hate to drive 50 miles to shop and not be sure of what I will find. I check out web sites for local shops to be sure they have what I want and that it’s in stock. I did that for the components of my little yard-wagon, choosing Princess Auto in Winnipeg because they had everything I needed in one place. I did buy some welding electrodes and tools at another local business, Welders Supplies, because they specialize in welding and I have long been a customer. Their prices and selection were good, too. I really like E6011 because it blasts through paint, rust and oil so I don’t have to clean a joint before welding. The price for this product was about the same for both businesses but Welders Supplies had a 20kg package (probably lasts me a lifetime…) while Princess Auto only had 5kg packages. It was simply less effort to move the product from the store to the vehicle to my shop with Welders Supplies, so I drove out of my way to shop there for that product.

I am also doing searches of local businesses for trees. I am frustrated as is “the little woman” because local businesses may offer very general information rather than price and availability which we need to make a budget for our landscaping. I am strongly tempted to buy seed from a distant supplier instead of trees from a local supplier. Are you listening Shelmerdine’s and Schriemer’s? One local business does have a few trees with decent prices shown but they don’t have the particular species “the little woman” wants. I am growing my lawn and garden from seed. I could do the same for trees… I will have half my yard seeded by noon. I am a DIYer (Do It Yourselfer) and I use Debian GNU/Linux. I am not alone.

When I built (and rebuilt) Beast, I chose components and compared prices from a business 1500 miles distant but the same logic applied. I prefer to do business with an outfit that has a website and the performance of that website affects my decisions. An outfit that serves only IE will not have me as a customer.

Perhaps I am the archetypical user of GNU/Linux. We may soon have another user of GNU/Linux in the family. One daughter let my grand daughter trash her PC so I am fixing up a notebook for her. She doesn’t need a LAMP stack but she does a lot of multimedia, so I rejigged the whole thing and tossed the Debian repositories it was spinning… I do see the global picture, but if FLOSS is to advance users of FLOSS have to be the salesmen.

Will your site’s media play for Linux users? Here’s why it better. [with charts].

see also Chitika – Study: Search Traffic Pattern Investigation by Device Operating System

  • Apr 28 / 2012
  • 0

Linux Kernel 3.3.4

Yesterday, 3.3.4 was released. The Changelog shows a lot of bug fixes, mostly for particular hardware. 91 commits are involved, not many more than the 69 in the older 3.2.16, so 3.3.4 is maturing nicely. Scanning through the changelog, I spotted only a few bugs that would affect the hardware I use. I am using 3.1 and haven’t had any problems lately.

I started a build at 0907 using my old configuration and denying most new features.

make -j 8 Kept the CPU at 90% utilization. I like that. CPU temperature reached 60C, too hot to touch. Load average was 9 and the system was still usable. I did not notice the time but by 0932 it was done. I should have put on a timer…

I found my USB/wireless mouse did not work any longer, because of a recent change in the kernel. It’s just a matter of changing the configuration to build a different driver, “$ lsusb

Bus 005 Device 002: ID 046d:c52b Logitech, Inc. Unifying Receiver
cd Downloads/linux-3.3.4
$ grep -i hid_logitech .config
. I ran make modules and make figured out that it should compile only the missing module and I copied the result and did a depmod to set things up so the correct modules could be found at boot. Works like a charm.

  • Apr 28 / 2012
  • 0

Taking Google Drive for a Spin

I read about Google Drive and tried it out. I was put on a waiting list for the 5gB $free service. A couple of days later, I had access. I could upload files or create them with Google Docs and share them with any or all.

The first thing I did was create a spreadsheet with a chart:

I then let Google share it with family-members via e-mail. I had the option of letting them edit it or not… The editor has the look and feel resembling LibreOffice but it is a little easier to use. The interface seems simpler and more intuitive and stuff you really want to do are at the head of the queue. The sparsity of features rarely bothered me. The only “real” problem I had was how to centre the title of the chart. It turns out increasing the size of font will work… The default is left-justified and maximum size is 20px but you can edit the “20px” instead of choosing what’s in the drop-down box. Network lag was no issue at all except when updating from a dialog box, a second or so. That might matter when updating a spreadsheet with many internal links/recalculations. It is a little different but pretty easy to use.

All in all, the interface is the key. It is similar to TinyMCE that WordPress uses but it has many more features. There’s definitely a role for Google Docs and Google Drive, but I would not think they will replace a good local server. It’s another tool and very cool. It’s a bit like a USB drive including software. Some uses I could make of it:

  • backup or temporary/mobile storage
  • serving graphics files for the blog (It might be faster and reduce load on my server.)
  • collaborative writing (family, contacts, perhaps clients)
  • distributing software/multimedia
  • Apr 27 / 2012
  • 2

Oracle Clutches at Pieces of Straw

It is said that a drowning man figuratively “clutches at straws”. Oracle has passed that. They are clutching at any particle of straw floating on the water. Today, in court,
“Mr. Jacobs: Further to ownership and registration and other formalities. Let me try to narrow scope of issues in dispute.

We no longer seek a package-by-package ruling on infringement as it relates to the code. (Relates to question 2 on verdict form.)

On the document part, we urge that to be treated similar to the code packages.

We seek a ruling on documentation copying. If that ruling comes in the context of 37 packages, that would suffice. We don’t need package by package rulings on the documentation. But we do need a ruling on the documentation.

Judge: How would you phrase the question to the jury?

Oracle: To the jury: the question would be of the form. “Did Google infringe by copying the API documentation into its documentation?”

Judge: Compared to what? What’s the work as a whole?

Oracle: We would have it be co-extensive with the determination for the code packages.

Judge: OK, that’s much simpler. But I’m not making any ruling.”

Give me a break, Oracle! Give up! You lost, fair and square. Take it like a man. The API of Java was documented in many books and SUN allowed anyone to use it to write applications and SUN allowed anyone to use it to create a Java virtual machine as long they either obtained a licence for the TCK and called it Java or they didn’t call it Java.

Further, before the jury came in today, this exchange happened:
“Oracle: Offer into evidence 1078. Letter to copyright office with a received stamp on it for java 2 SE5.

Judge: Objection is what?

Google: Hearsay, lack of foundation, and incomplete. Where is this disk? [they have it] And it needs to be authenticated.

Google: These are business records of the law firm.

Oracle: Because of conflict, the records were transferred to Oracle.

Judge: (To Google) Do you really want the jury to think that the case turns on this?

Google: No.

Judge: Then why are you making a big case about this?

Google: We just want someone to testify that the disk has the same contents that was submitted.

[Talking about attorney who recorded these details at Fenwick, then turned it over to Oracle.]

Judge: I think it’s better to bring in Mr. Gonsalves.

Oracle: I would offer 1078 as a self-authenticating document that has on its face indication of authenticity.

Google: They are clearly offering this for the truth of its contents, to show that a disk was submitted.

Judge: Was there a disk, and what was on it? And that’s not something I can take as self-authenticating from the face of the letter.

I’m not going to rule on this – but tentatively I’m going to rule no – you have to bring this in the right way, with a witness. They (Google) have the right to be mean and nasty – which is what I think they’re doing here. I would need some case law to overrule their objection.

Judge: You’re not explaining why you can’t get Mr. Gonsalves here. You’re avoiding that.

I’m not going down this path until you tell me he’s unavailable, as in he refused a subpoena.

Oracle: Offer 1076, the CD rom.

Judge: Same ruling (i.e. no, need a witness)

Judge: Those 4 docs are in limbo. I’m not ruling, but I question the foundation. I’m not ruling it out, but I’m not ruling it in based on a proffer.”

The CD is supposedly containing documentation for Java as part of the registration of the copyright. Rumour is that the CD is blank… Chuckle. What would you do if a blank CD was offered as proof of copyright??? Why doesn’t Oracle want the lawyer who handled the registration to testify?

Again, it seems as though Oracle has a very weak case, certainly not worth $billions nor the handsome fees BSF charges…

see GROKLAW – Day 10 Oracle v. Google Trial ~pj – Updated for the full story…