Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Posts Categorized / technology

  • Jul 22 / 2014
  • 0
technology

Even The Legacy PC Has Lost Its Monopoly In China

The huge lead developed by the legacy PC over more than a decade on the web“Around 527 million (or 83 per cent) of China’s 632 million netizens preferred to use a mobile device to access websites and apps.
Some 81 per cent of those Chinese people who are online browsed the web via a PC; naturally a large number of people used both mobile devices and PCs.”
is shrinking fast. In China, it’s gone.

This is the straw that breaks the camel’s back, the burdens of Wintel on personal IT are huge negatives compared to */Linux on ARM, software and hardware that works for the user and not the monopolists, Intel and M$. While it has been a difficult and slow process to move the legacy PC beyond monopoly, there never was a monopoly for these new small cheap computers. One way or another FLOSS and */Linux will have its day. Consumers are finally getting choice, competition and great price/performance on retail shelves.

See FONDLEMANIA: Mobile devices outstrip PCs on China's internet.

  • Jul 21 / 2014
  • 7
technology

International Sanctions May Accelerate Adoption Of GNU/Linux In Russia

GNU/Linux has been in the pipe for a while but US sanctions on Russia may“The State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, is drafting a bill to require government agencies and state-run enterprises to give preference to local providers of software and hardware, according to a document from the commission for strategic information systems obtained by Bloomberg News.” bring GNU/Linux to the front burner. I can see them also accelerating trade with China. If China ramps up production of computers with GNU/Linux to serve the Russian market, China will be better positioned to help out every other country squirming under the weight of Wintel and NSA probing the world’s IT.

While I really hate what Russia has done in eastern Europe lately, this could be a silver lining in the whole horrible mess. Eventually, Russia and its neighbours will figure out how to get along and GNU/Linux and open standards could be a tiny part of a brave new world, a beneficial legacy long after Putin and others have left the scene. US sanctions play roles all around the world. I can see countries like Cuba going full speed for GNU/Linux if they see Russia doing that. It’s too bad Putin decided to invade Ukraine and prop up Assad instead of finishing the migration to GNU/Linux sooner but the world is a better place for the job getting done sooner rather than later.

See Russia to Reduce Reliance on Microsoft, IBM After Sanctions.

  • Jul 21 / 2014
  • 5
technology

More Small Cheap Computers

SJVN has a survey…

How about this baby, with 2gB RAM and 4x 1.7gHz? If only it had some SATA ports, Beast could be out of business. I would like a bit more RAM too, but for $65 it surely wins on price/performance.

At this rate, next year I will replace Beast with something like this for my day to day computing. I might still fire up Beast to build kernels or something. I doubt it will ever be used as a terminal server. It uses way more than twice the power the little woman and I need for computing and is full of fans (5).

See also the product page including the video showing a little lady hooking it up and giving it a run around the block.

  • Jul 21 / 2014
  • 9
Linux in Education, Teaching, technology

Schools In Geneva Switching To GNU/Linux

“All primary and secondary public schools in the Swiss Canton of Geneva are switching to using Ubuntu GNU/Linux for the PCs used by teachers and students. The switch has been completed by all of the 170 primary public schools, and the migration of the canton’s 20 secondary schools is planned for the next school year. Ubuntu GNU/Linux offers powerful services to the teachers, is easier to maintain, faster, safer and more stable than the decade-old proprietary operating system it is replacing, the canton’s school IT department concludes, based on several four-year long pilots.” These guys took four years studying the matter and it will only take two years to switch their schools to GNU/Linux. It shows the Munich decade was some sort of aberration in terms of time taken to switch. The difference is the number of applications locked in to that other OS. Munich had hundreds. Geneva has only one or two. LibreOffice takes care of one…

Anyway, I think the migration in Geneva is remarkable because the Swiss are thorough. If they could be convinced in just four years, most of the rest of us should be convinced in a matter of hours. Get on with it folks. Take a look at Debian GNU/Linux and see what you’ve been missing: the freedom to use the hardware you own to its maximum capability, freedom from malware and freedom from paying about twice what IT should really cost you. In schools where I used GNU/Linux we easily had twice as much IT for the same cost and the cost of maintaining the larger system was less than the cost of maintaining the smaller system running that other OS. Freedom from the EULA of M$ which enslaves you rather than enabling you is the killer however. With FLOSS and GNU/Linux you can run, examine, modify and distribute the software to your heart’s content. Go with it. Seize the opportunity.

SeeGeneva class-rooms switching to free software | Joinup.

  • Jul 21 / 2014
  • 2
technology

It’s A Bug In That Other OS, Not The Browser

It turns out that Google’s Chrome browser has been telling that other OS not to save power by napping, for years.“Instead of waking up the processor every 15.625ms, Chrome tells Windows to have it wake up every 1.000ms. So while your PC normally wakes up the processor 64 times per second when it’s idle, as long as you have Chrome running, the processor wakes up 1,000 times per second.
Chrome doesn’t have to be running in the foreground to have this effect, either. There’s only one platform timer, so when one application changes its resolution, the new value becomes a system-wide setting.”
This has been a huge drain on the batteries of notebooks.

Now, some claim this is a bug in Chrome, but it’s not. It’s a bug in that other OS that lets a user-space application mess with a system-wide setting. This is yet another example of a single-user OS designed in the 1980s still being fragile decades later. This is yet another example of M$ making an OS with too many vulnerable edges for malware to interfere with our use of the hardware we own. This is another example of what happens when you let salesmen design an OS.

I recommend Debian GNU/Linux. It’s a real OS that works for you, not some distant team of salesmen. In GNU/Linux, introduction of the “tickless” kernel and other such features combine to give serious reduction in notebooks’ drain. Intel wrote a whitepaper which shows many watts saved for notebooks and servers by tickless idle and several other measures. Of course, an application could set up interrupts to defeat that but it’s not a system-wide problem. The operating system responds automatically and does not take a new setting from one errant application.

See Chrome browser has been DRAINING PC batteries for YEARS.

  • Jul 20 / 2014
  • 24
technology

Radical Change In IT

M$’s new CEO wrote, “We will reinvent productivity to empower every person and every organization on the planet to do more and achieve more.”

See Can Nadella's remake Microsoft under his new manifesto?.

His vision of radical change is different from mine. His vision is one of greater lock-in to M$, reaching not only from desktop and mobile thingy but also to our networks and databases and web applications. Mine is one of freedom from M$, every place in IT.

Unless you use FLOSS everywhere, you cannot maximize productivity. Essentially, M$ equates productivity to slavery. The CEO equates productivity for the user to free labour given to M$. Look at it this way. Is your productivity maximized if you agree to do everything with a monopoly? A monopoly is still a monopoly whether or not you consent to deal with it. A monopoly, by definition, forces you to pay what is demanded from a single supplier. That was wrong for the desktop OS. It’s more wrong to do that for all of IT. M$ is out to get you. Escape the trap. Use FLOSS.

Supposedly new-M$ is without the old guard, Gates and Ballmer, but monopoly is still on the mind of its CEO. Face it. You are less productive paying the “M$ tax” whether it’s a bundled cost in hiding to an OEM/retailer or direct to M$ through a myriad of subscriptions and user-fees. You are less productive if you can’t do what you want because of some rule that M$ imposes. You are less productive if the software you use jumps through all kinds of hoops to ensure M$ gets paid. No, the way to increased productivity is through less lock-in to M$ and the only way you can get that is to use FLOSS or to write your own software. Obviously, maximizing productivity means using FLOSS and writing collaboratively only the software not available as FLOSS.

  • Jul 16 / 2014
  • 4
technology

Broken? My Debian GNU/Linux Desktop Is Not Broken

“I didn’t realise just how broken the F/OSS desktop is. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the file manager replacing type-ahead find with a search but (to seemlessly switch metaphor) it turns out I’d been cut a thousand times already. I’m not just on the other side of the fence, I’m several fields away.” This is a strange comment coming from a Debian Developer. I use Debian GNU/Linux for my desktop and it’s not broken. Typeahead works for me but then I use XFCE4 desktop and the Thunar file-manager. So, why is this guy saying he’s going to MacOS because GNOME doesn’t work for him? Wouldn’t it be easier to switch to XFCE4 than to switch to MacOS (having to buy a new machine and all)? Well, he writes that he already had a Mac for work. I guess he didn’t need to buy one but it’s still silly that a Debian Developer feels he needs to stick with GNOME. There are a bunch of desktop environments in Debian GNU/Linux.
task-desktop - Debian desktop environment
task-gnome-desktop - GNOME desktop environment
task-kde-desktop - KDE desktop environment
task-lxde-desktop - LXDE desktop environment
task-telugu-desktop - Telugu desktop
task-telugu-gnome-desktop - Telugu GNOME desktop environment
task-telugu-kde-desktop - Telugu KDE desktop environment
task-xfce-desktop - Xfce desktop environment

The Debian desktop is not broken just because the GNOME desktop is broken. Further, if I need/want to search for stuff, I have a bunch of ways of doing that in Debian. I love to search for data with Swish-e or Recoll and I like to know exactly where to find an icon for my favourite applications.

See jmtd → log → Mac.

See also Bug 680118 – Triggering directory search by type-ahead breaks keyboard navigation

  • Jul 16 / 2014
  • 5
technology

Smartphones Shipping – 1.2 Billion 2014, 2 Billion 2018

“ABI Research expects 1.25 billion smartphones to ship in 2014 and forecasts smartphone shipments to pass the 2 billion mark in 2018. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the forecast period from 2014 to 2019 is 12%.”

ABI Research says the 60% penetration of smartphones in the developed markets could be possible in the developing markets thanks to lowering prices… Wow! Just Wow! This makes “the PC revolution” seem like a rummage sale. Soon, more smartphones will ship per annum than legacy PCs extant.

See Over 2 Billion Smartphones to Ship in 2018, 1.25 Billion in 2014.

Need a second opinion? See Smartphone Sales Volume to Touch 23.6% Growth in 2014 on the Back of Emerging Markets

  • Jul 15 / 2014
  • 0
technology

GNU/Linux Acknowledged As Valid Desktop OS In USA

I’ve known it for more than a decade but folks in USA are a bit slow to change… Today, the Vice-president of industry analysis at NPD stated, “Building on last year’s surprising strength, Chrome’s unit strength ahead of this year’s education buying season shows how it has become a legitimate third platform alongside Windows and Mac OS X and iOS”

Of course he’s mostly concerned with unit sales (“For the three weeks ending June 7, Chromebook sales made up more than 40 percent of Commercial Channel notebook sales, a significant bump from the 35 percent year-to-date.”) and I’m on about performance. I’ll grant that 40% share is wonderful but GNU/Linux could have done that years ago with the right OEMs and retailers involved. It took that train a long time to form.

GNU/Linux is a winner for Google in combination with Google’s cloud and browser. Just as M$ did years ago, Google is sweeping competition from the market but this time they are doing it with performance, not exclusive dealing. What a difference FLOSS makes.

See NPD: Chromebooks Lead a Strong First Half for U.S. Commercial Channel PC Sales.

  • Jul 15 / 2014
  • 0
technology

School’s Out For Summer In Ethiopia ;-)

Previously, I speculated that the abrupt growth in share of page-views on StatCounter attributed to GNU/Linux in Ethiopia might be connected to usage in schools there. Seems I was right because the marked plunge this week corresponds with the end of the school term. GNU/Linux, the OS by which you can tell time…

I wonder if those students will ever be the same… Nope. They’ve experienced the blessings of software freedom and aren’t likely to want to be slaves to Wintel. I will expect the count to climb in the fall and perhaps even faster if some get to buy GNU/Linux PCs or fix that other OS over the summer. There’s all kinds of upside to this situation.

  • Jul 15 / 2014
  • 5
Linux in Education, Teaching, technology

FLOSS Is The Right Way

“a lot of children had never had any examples of programming. They’d used a computer, but in fact the computer had used them. They knew how a mouse worked, they knew how to save a spreadsheet, they knew how to load an XBOX game, but they didn’t necessarily know anything else about computing”I’ve seen this repeatedly, a classroom full of students who “knew how to use PCs” but had no idea how fast they were or of what PCs are capable. I demonstrated a few simple programmes in PASCAL to show them how fast the maths was. Even on decade old machines, hundreds of millions of FLOPS happen. These are computers that are sluggish under the bloat of M$’s software. Put on lean software like GNU/Linux and they fly.

I let them read the GPL and the EULA.txt and jaws dropped. They had no idea that their use of PCs was handicapped by non-Free software. I showed them the power they had with a bit of knowledge of FLOSS, and a screwdriver. They were liberated from needing to depend on the Wintel treadmill and Wintel itself for all aspects of their IT. A decade ago, it seemed every way forward for FLOSS was uphill because of the lock-in. Now young people can buy a small cheap computer with Android/Linux and “root” it and presto! they are free of the Wintel treadmill forever. A billion people have seen the light and it’s possible another billion or more will go to FLOSS this year alone. The world is just beginning this explosive migration away from non-Free software.

See Friends record their call to arms for open source!.

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