Yes, Smartphones And ARMed Motherboards Are Getting Smarter

“ArcherMind MediaTek X20 Board SpecificationsProcessorHelio X20 64-bit deci-core with:Two Cortex-A72 cores (2.1-2.3GHz)Four Cortex A53 cores (1.85GHz)Four Cortex-A53 cores (1.4GHz)”
See ArcherMind Joins 96Boards and Launches Deci-Core ARMv8 Product
It’s amazing what folks are putting into smartphones these days. The latest “96boards” client device is a pretty nifty SoC, but it’s still a smartphone inside: no Ethernet, no SATA, only 2gB RAM, and just cores designed to save a battery as long as possible. I think the cache per core is something like 1MB, so it’s not completely hopeless but 2gB RAM limits it to single or few users and just a few simultaneous tasks. I don’t see a price advertised so I guess it was pointless to ask…

This kind of hardware means in 2016 it is imminent that real competitive SoCs for clients and servers will soon be rampant. It’s a mystery why Lemaker Cello has not been rushed to market before it’s totally obsolete. This month I will have most of my new IT components except for that motherboard.

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Desktop GNU/Linux

“Until somebody can figure out a surefire way to monetize a desktop distro, GNU/Linux will continue to be primarily used by free software advocates, people who demand the best on their desktop, those trying to keep an older machine productive and by those who’ve had-it-up-to-here with Microsoft.”
See Why Desktop Linux Still Hasn’t Taken Over the World
Christine Hall has a point. In the business of supplying PCs to the public, money begets money. If a business is not selling a product for money, there’s not much reason to do so. Still, an OEM can do the maths a different way. They can choose to advertise, distribute and support GNU/Linux on the desktop seeing the product costing very little and being able to make a profit selling it for a little more. Which way will the bottom line benefit more?

Folks are genuinely annoyed by Wintel and the endless costs of keeping systems going. That’s why Apple had some success. That’s why Android/Linux had some success. That’s why GNU/Linux has had some success. The first ~1% of usage may be due to DIYers and FLOSSies, but we are long past that. Schools and governments and individuals are loving GNU/Linux, not just fans. We are in a situation where “10” despite lots of expensive advertising is not seen as a “must have”. That’s because while advertising/promotion/usage has familiarized the world with the product, widespread usage has familiarized the world with malware, slowing down, re-re-reboots, the damned EULA,… So, people are equating Wintel PCs with a loss of productivity, not a gain. Wintel has besmirched the reputation of the PC and that may not be undone for a generation.

Enter GNU/Linux. When folks discover one way or another that GNU/Linux does not have the cost and waste of Wintel, they will buy it or install it on the waste left over from failed copies of TOOS. Today, there’s even Odroid-C2, a tiny PC that’s powerful enough to do the desktop tasks yet costs ~$100 delivered to one’s snail-mailbox. Open the package, plug in the SD-card, fold up the tiny plastic case, and plug in to a world of trouble-free computing. It just sits there getting warm and doing wonderful things. There’s no EULA, no endless re-re-re-boots, yes, just like their smartphones. Hardkernel can spend money promoting Odroid-C2 and GNU/Linux because TOOS does not run on the device. It’s still a PC.

Around the world, GNU/Linux has made an impact. It’s widely used in schools, a few offices and millions of individuals. Governments in Europe are actively promoting FLOSS as an efficient means of operation. The fact that $millions are not being spent by OEMs promoting it slows down adoption. It does not prevent it. Adoption of GNU/Linux is happening. In Europe there are several countries with around 3% usage. Uruguay has about 13%. Folks who encounter GNU/Linux at school or at work will spread the concept by word of mouth. The idea that a PC must have Wintel has taken a huge hit. Obviously other operating systems are out there and billions know it. It’s just a matter of seizing opportunity to make it happen. That does not require a business set in the ways of Wintel to accomplish just motivated citizens and groups.

Posted in Linux in Education, technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

New Realities

After a long and interesting life, retirement has opened up new opportunities for me. I’ve long taught students how to do maths, save and invest money and solve typical problems using mathematics/reasoning. Now, it’s paying off, in spades. Today, my stock portfolio in my pension increased in value about as much as my take-home pay in my best year as a teacher…

The mind boggles. Next year, if things continue this way, my annuity will exceed my take home pay for most years of my teaching career. Meanwhile, back in the trenches, I dug a 5 gallon hole for planting a tree. In the heat and humidity and tough clay, this took several goes and a rain storm arrived to prevent the actual planting. TLW buys huge trees. It would be a lot easier to plant a seedling and pull up a lawn-chair to watch it grow.

If I ever had any concept of retirement it was not this, slaving over a shovel in the heat of the day while watching share-prices rise day after day. Do I actually have to die to get my rest?

Whatever. The heat and drought has slowed the advance of the weeds. My orchard is taking shape and I will easily be able to keep up if I can keep a whipper-snipper going and finish planting trees in bulk. I bought a few more hard drives and SD-cards in anticipation to the completion of my IT-renewal. Everything is working except my tired old body, but I still see good things happening daily. Life is good.

Posted in family, food, horticulture, Teaching | Tagged , | 3 Comments

M$ Shoots Foot, Again

“Microsoft’s restricting of Azure Server to a handful of vendors and certifying to a limited set of known hardware configurations will work. But it’s a policy that historically helped usher open-source and Linux towards broad success on servers and HPC.
If Microsoft wants true ubiquity of Azure Server, then it should have turned the whole proposition around. Not fit the hardware to the code but, rather, make the code work with the hardware by letting those from outside do the heavy lifting.
That, however, is called “open source” and open source is as much not part of the Microsoft model”
See Microsoft: Why we had to tie Azure Stack to boxen we picked for you
I’ve long held that the lack of modularity/high level of integration/mixing of stuff in TOOS is a weakness and endless source of problems. Well, in its old age, that’s a weakness for M$ itself. Not being able to sell software unbundled from hardware is a terrible deficit in a world where people are building open servers.

Enjoy your bitter pill, M$. You’re like the dinosaurs that succeeded so well that they died off… Bye-bye.

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

USA, Get On With It. Just Go FLOSS.

“When agencies procure custom-developed source code, however, they do not necessarily make their new code (source code or code) broadly available for Federal Government-wide reuse. Even when agencies are in a position to make their source code available on a Government-wide basis, they do not make such code available to other agencies in a consistent manner. In some cases, agencies may even have difficulty establishing that the software was produced in the performance of a Federal Government contract. These challenges may result in duplicative acquisitions for substantially similar code and an inefficient use of taxpayer dollars. This policy seeks to address these challenges by ensuring that new custom-developed Federal source code be made broadly available for reuse across the Federal Government.”
See Federal Source Code Policy
Come on, USA. You know you want it. Go Free/Libre Open Source Software. It makes sense. It saves a lot of money. It’s easier/simpler/faster. Just do it. Why limit yourself to 20% of “custom” software? You can have it all, not just 20% and not just custom software.

Posted in politics, technology | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Trump: Drop Democracy – Call In Thought Police

“Trump is also set to call for increased vetting of individuals entering the United States by developing a “test” that would question visa applicants on their support of US values and seek to weed out any supporters of extremist ideologies.”
See Trump to lay out plan for combating radical Islamic terrorism
Trump, please just go away. Your values are incompatible with life in the 21st century. We value democracy. We value human rights. You don’t. Just go away.

Morphing your plan to ban muslims into a plan to ban folks based on geographic origins is no less stupid than promising folks to police the thoughts of candidates for immigration. This is all an irrelevant smokescreen. Ever heard of the Internet? How are you going to filter that? Blocking FB, Google, Twitter,…? What other verbal diarrhea are you going to emit between now and the elections? Save our ears, minds and hearts. Just go away. Start your long vacation early, preferably at the South Pole or some remote location with poor Internet access.

Posted in politics | Tagged , | 21 Comments

Fixing Things

Well, even Linux has bugs. Recent reports that TCP connections can be hijacked have kicked an anthill at Linus and others have a patch. I’m testing it despite my little operation likely being below the radar, just in case.

See Linux-Kernel Archive: [PATCH 4.4 01/49] tcp: make challenge acks less predictable

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Really Small Cheap Computers

“Keep in mind that this is a $9 Linux-based computer. There certainly are limitations to its capabilities although you shouldn’t mistake the CHIP for a toy. You are reading the proof, right now, since all of this copy, the process of uploading it into the TNS’s content manager, and graphics editing were done on the CHIP. It only took a little bit longer than usual.”
See Off-The-Shelf Hacker: This Story was Composed on a $9 Linux Computer
If price matters, TLW is rolling on the floor laughing. Her PC cost ~$100, including delivery. She definitely has no problem getting her work and play done using the Odroid-C2, a $40 USD SoC, running Debian GNU/Linux. The one little niggle is that 1080p video works but is slow. That will be fixed sooner or later. Her old PC ran at 1280×1024, because it was slower. OTOH, audio is smooth and flawless.

She runs FireFox, Chromium, LibreOffice and Gimp without issue. Browsing the web is much faster on her new PC even if it is small and cheap.

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

ARMed Devices Are A Steam-roller Catching Up To Intel

“MediaTek has revealed an upcoming Helio X30 system-on-chip (SoC) that will likely be one of the first 10nm fabricated SoCs to arrive when it ships in mid-2017. The deca-core mobile SoC will also be one of the first to use ARM’s new Cortex-A73 successor to the Cortex-A72”
See MediaTek’s 10nm Mobile-Focused SoC Will Tap Cortex-A73 and -A32
The dam on ARMed performance is about to burst. OEMs are about to dump ARM’s latest tech at 10nm resolution into smartphones. How long before Lemaker’s Cello becomes obsolete? Now, before it’s shipped in numbers. In a year, the world will be flooded with ARMed alternatives to Intel CPUs in all formats/roles/performance ranges.

Can you hear the rumbling behind you, Intel?

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments

Hellwig v. VMware Hits A Rock

“A decision in the GPL enforcement case in Germany between Christoph Hellwig (supported by the Software Freedom Conservancy) and VMware recently became public. The court dismissed the case after concluding that Hellwig failed to identify in the VMware product the specific lines of code for which he owned copyright. The GPL interpretation question was not addressed. Hellwig has indicated that he will appeal the court’s decision.”
See GPL enforcement action in Hellwig v. VMware dismissed, with an appeal expected
“But even if the changelogs were to name the Plaintiff as the most recent adapter, the Defendant has correctly argued that changelogs are not copies of the computer program concerned, so that no presumption of authorship pursuant to Copyright Act § 10 can result from them. Nonetheless, any indicative value that might still be assumed would have to be substantiated by the Plaintiff and pleaded in relation to each respective function. The Plaintiff has not done this.”
See Unofficial English Translation Of The Court’s Decision
The court in Hellwig v VMware has dismissed the case due to lack of specificity in pleading by the plaintiff. This, despite including the entire source code of Linux and the changelogs from the git repository. The court considers that inadequate. An appeal will require a lot more detailed work by Hellwig and/or convincing a higher court that changelogs are sufficient. The court considered them indirect. They wanted line by line evidence, not pointers to the lines. You’d think there would be a script for that…

Posted in technology | Tagged , | 6 Comments

People Demand Control Of Their PCs

“a humiliating backdown after a goodly number of business users told Microsoft just where it can shove its shortened support offerings, because they’ll buy PCs when it suits them and not when Microsoft forces them to do so.”
See Business users force Microsoft to back off Windows 10 PC kill plan
Take that M$! You can no longer dictate to the world what folks will do with the hardware they own. That applied to me more than a decade ago. Now even businesses are standing up to you and complaining. You know everyone has an option to your software. That’s why you are embracing FLOSS on every opportunity and why you backed down when you threaten to cut off support. Threatening customers only works for a monopoly, which you no longer have.

I recommend businesses and others check out Debian GNU/Linux the operating system for those who want to control their PCs.

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Trump Revealed As Racist Bastard And Nut-case

“In 1930, Congress wanted to protect U.S. jobs from global trade. So the U.S. slapped tariffs on all countries that shipped goods to America in an effort to shield workers.
It was called the Smoot-Hawley Act. Today, it is widely accepted that this law made the Great Depression worse than it was.”
See America’s surprise NAFTA nemesis: Canada, not Mexico
Yes, Trump wants to make USA Great AgainTM just like USA was great in the 1930s when it fought trade wars that ruined the world’s economy. The very arguments Trump makes about USA versus Mexico are much more applicable to Canada. Why then does Trump not go after Canada? Why, we Canadians are mostly white folks, Trump’s kind of people… He’s a racist bastard and nut-case positing wrong solutions to imaginary problems. Besides, our border is much longer and it would be much more costly to build a wall. Still, forcing a renegotiation of NAFTA, one of his planks, will severely damage trade with Canada as well as Mexico and should be thrown out along with Trump.

Posted in politics | Tagged , | 21 Comments