M$, Ask Not For Whom The Bell Tolls. It Tolls for You.

“A Wall St analyst performed an comparative report at the iconic mega-retail palace Mall of America, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He found that on on 23 November, shoppers at Apple’s store in the famous mall bought an average of 17.2 items per hour, versus the 3.5 items that were purchased at Microsoft’s store, located just opposite the Apple shop.”

see Mall lurk man: Apple smashes Microsoft in Black Friday fondle wars.

There, the market has decided. Given a choice, M$ is the last choice of real people, except those pesky gamers… What would have happened if there had been a “GNU/Linux” store right there and consumers had a third choice?

Wintel Armageddon

Rumours are now confirmed. Intel plans to enter the hardware market in a big way and also to exclude others…

“so the PC ends with a whimper, not a bang. Broadwell will be available in a ‘desktop’ variant as well as a laptop version, but neither will be socketed. There are a lot of good technical reasons to release it only as an embedded and mobile CPU, but not for anyone other than Intel. They want more of the PC ecosystem, and are taking it. Enthusiasts have been written off, and the rest of the ecosystem is being preemptively kneecapped in case they try to step out of line. The desktop is dead, and with it, PCs become irrelevant, mobile or not.”

Intel kills off the desktop, PCs go with it | SemiAccurate.

By not producing CPUs with sockets, Intel will cut out all kinds of small players, and gain more power over the motherboard makers, even to the point of preventing motherboard makers from competing with Intel.

The other half of this imminent collapse is M$’s entry into hardware with “8” and “Secure Boot”. the folly of allowing Wintel to rule IT is coming home to roost. The only way out for OEMs and motherboard makers is to switch to ARM or AMD. AMD could surely use the business but could not fill the vacuum of Intel. ARM could. We live in interesting times.

For mere users of IT, this is disastrous. Whatever freedom of choice people had with x86 is gone. No one will be able to upgrade an x86 PC by swapping CPUs, or even replacing a CPU that got fried.

It is the end-times for Wintel. The survivors are grimly killing every competitor in hopes of surviving a bit longer. M$ is on the edge of a cliff. Intel seems intent on defining its own Apple-like hardware domain, increasing share of x86 space by restricting options. Firmly locked into Wintel with no alternative suppliers? Expect to pay more for the privilege of being a slave.

There are few advantages for most of us. A socketless motherboard might be a few $ cheaper and an iota more reliable but Intel will pocket that most likely as anyone who wants an x86 motherboard will be forced to buy from Intel.

Looking back over decades we now see this disaster was foretold in the first agreements between IBM and M$ and Intel. Not requiring M$ to second-source was stupid. Requiring Intel to second-source (Motorola, Signetics, Cyrix,… remember them?) was a bit better but Intel still managed to throttle their competitors in CPUs through instruction-set patents and payoffs. Now Intel is about to leverage it’s monopoly in x86 CPUs into something every bit as ugly as what M$ did.

Despite the obvious fact that GNU/Linux, Android/Linux and ARM are not quite ready to fill the Wintel space (volume, not quality), there is a silver lining. All up and down the food-chain of IT people will be actively seeking choices in hardware and software. When the dust settles, M$ and Intel will still thrive in some cracks but the world will be free to make choices at last. The more M$ and Intel cannibalize their “partners” the more opportunities for */Linux on ARM and, eventually, new CPUs from China.

Debian Edu – Interview: Angela Fuß

“Which strategy do you believe is the right one to use to get schools to use free software?

I am really convinced that in our school project "IT-Zukunft Schule" we have developed (and keep developing) a great way to get schools to use Free Software. We have written a detailed concept for that so I cannot explain the whole thing here. But in a nutshell the strategy has three crucial pillars:

  • We really take time to get what sort of stories, questions and concerns the schools head and the teachers have about using different kinds of IT and we take time to enrol them into Free Software.
  • Our solution for schools is never just technical. In the centre are always the people who are going to use the software. From the very beginning of the planning for a school, we tell the schools head that they are paying us not only for a technical solution for their school, they also pay us for leading all the communication processes needed. If they do not want that, we are not working with them because we cannot give a guarantee for the quality of our work then.
  • Another focus lies in the training of teachers and students in co-administrating the IT-System at their school. They start getting in contact with the Skolelinux / Debian Edu community and they get the offer to become more and more independent from us.

see Petter Reinholdtsen: Debian Edu interview: Angela Fuß.

There, you have it, a recipe for successfully migrating a school to GNU/Linux. It is vitally important to have all users sharing information about motivations and resources available. In my experience younger teachers are most accepting of the wonderful resources of FLOSS available with GNU/Linux. Some older teachers I have known did not even want to use any PC… Many more want nothing to do with IT except routine stuff like writing memos and e-mail. A school thrives when teachers and students all want to make the best use of IT to get education done. In most schools students are the greatest resource in IT but the least used. Putting that youthful energy to work is key. Teachers can lead, follow, or get out of the way…

Tablet PCs Overtaking Notebook PCs in Shipments

According to DisplaySearch, “As panel shipments are always the leading indicator for set shipments, it can be seen that tablet PCs are threatening to overtake notebooks. The notebook PC may need to move to the high end with ultra-slim form factor, or to the low end, low-cost thick box, to compete.”

see Tablet PC Panels Shipment Exceeded Notebook PC Panel | DisplaySearch Blog.

In particular, in October, 2012, 18.7 million tablet panels shipped while only 16.9 million notebook panels shipped. One could argue that this is just a “dip” for notebooks, but the tablets have doubled in shipments this year while notebooks have barely moved. The only debate is when not if.

Since that other OS is on most notebook PCs shipped and Android/Linux and iOS are on most tablet PCs, this is an assault on monopoly. It’s over, M$. Bundling and exclusive dealing were cruel tricks but the world has seen through it and got around the problem. The question remains, when will M$ lose monopoly on desktop PCs? At this rate, I expect it will be only a couple of years. I will celebrate when my local Wal-mart breaks out some retail shelf-space for GNU/Linux on desktops and notebooks.

If GNOME 2.x Wasn’t Broken, Why Fix It?

SJVN:“GNOME developers have woken up and are offering a way for GNOME users to go back to a GNOME 2.x style interface.”

see GNOME: Can this Linux desktop be saved?.

I haven’t liked GNOME even before the 3.x fiasco. I was mostly running older equipment and the bloat was a killer. XFCE4 is just the ticket… I hope that GNOME now sees that there’s no point in jerking users around with radical changes to wildly successful UI. Provide a new version by all means but don’t kill what works. They should have made their own fork or designed things to be easily switched by users. Plugins, perhaps? Some kind of menu by all means. It is foolish to think that a desktop/notebook PC should not have menus in general. There’s nothing wrong with menus properly designed. We still have the same pedals on a car even though the user interface has had many opportunities to change over a century. KISS and don’t fix what isn’t broken. GNOME 2.x was not broken. Most users of that other OS and new users had no problem learning to use it in a few minutes. These new things take hours and then there’s the pain of unlearning decades of GUI reflexes.

Canonical, are you paying attention? I am this close to killing two Ubuntu GNU/Linux installations in my home just because whenever I want to do something not absolutely routine, Canonical’s new interface (no, not the latest one, the one with the window-widgets misplaced…) keeps getting in my way. Today, I wanted to check something from the BASH interpreter and could not find a “terminal” anywhere in the GUI! Blashphemy! It turned out the problem was a missing cable and somehow APT had deleted one of my favourite packages… but instead of using the GUI, I had to use the console. Weak. Reducing flexibility in a handheld gadget to make things really easy to use makes sense. Reducing flexibility on my “mainframe-like” super-computer does not make any sense. I have several ways of doing many things and I like to choose which way to go. I hate distant people telling me what I can and cannot do with my own hardware. I lost that when I stopped needing to read M$’s EULA.