Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Posts Tagged / adoption

  • Jul 31 / 2014
  • 1
Linux in Education, technology

Converting A Small School To GNU/Linux in 1 Hour

Of course this can be done using Debian GNU/Linux but it takes more knowledge than a newbie might have. A distro designed for the purpose gets a teacher off to a good start. My first experience with GNU/Linux in a lab came from K12LTSP GNU/Linux when it was a real distro based on Fedora GNU/Linux. It installed a working LTSP server in less than an hour and all I had to do was collect a few addresses and edit a few files. Easy.

More recently I recommended EdUbuntu for the job but with the strange sharp turns of Canonical away from a near perfect desktop OS to some kind of compromise, I thought I should try Debian Edu/SkoleLinux which does the same but is based on Debian more solidly.

I downloaded the beta CD from
http://ftp.skolelinux.org/cd-wheezy-amd64-i386-netinst/MD5SUMS

and
http://ftp.skolelinux.org/cd-wheezy-test-amd64-i386-netinst/debian-edu-amd64-i386-NETINST-1.iso

One can verify the correctness of a 600MB download using the md5sum command on a working GNU/Linux system or just trust to luck. These days it is rare to have a bad download. One can boot from the CD and do an internal test as well.

I created a virtual machine of 40gB and booted the CD. Screenshots follow. The process installs applications, an OS and services to boot a bunch of PCs by PXE and run sessions on the subject PC. This is a great convenience. One installation does the whole bunch. One just needs to set all the client PCs to boot PXE/network from the BIOS and it helps to have two NICs (Network Interface Controllers) on the server PC. One will connect to the outside world and the other will supply the clients in the school or lab. If the server PC has 200MB RAM per client and a good modern CPU, it should be able to run 24 PCs with no problems for normal click and gawk computing. It’s not a super-computer, so don’t expect all clients to be able to solve the secrets of the universe simultaneously but they sure can give a nice snappy learning environment. GNU/Linux runs well under load.

This installation pulls packages in from the Internet, so speed is dependent on that connection. I have a local server which makes things much faster but one needs to select “expert” to be able to specify the proxy.

The installation guides the newbie through the steps:
result
result4

There are 2600 packages installed in the main file-system and the chroot for thin clients. It even installs LDAP and xrdp, much more than a minimal installation. I fear this is bloat for a lot of schools who just need a lab running… Without a fast local mirror, this installation takes many hours and I can see teachers taking up much of a weekend to do it.

I recommend doing a minimal installation of Debian GNU/Linux and adding the LTSP parts manually to avoid the bloat. That way you can get XFCE4, turn off encryption and use a local mirror or cache of packages. That will save downloading packages twice, once for the file-system and once again for the chroot and if you need to repeat the installation, the second try will be much faster.

  • Jul 31 / 2014
  • 2
technology

The Remarkable Rise Of Android/Linux, The Distro of 2014

While Debian, Ubuntu and other GNU/Linux distros jockey for a meagre few percent of page-views according to StatCounter, Android/Linux has a dramatic ramp upward. There are many causes of this but chief among them are a low cost licence, $0. You can’t beat that. M$ is now trying but is years too late to market and it’s not a good business-plan for them. Google, on the other hand, wins every time someone gets online with a Free OS. Probably second to price is the fact that anyone who knows Java programming can develop software for Android. That’s a huge plus as Android/Linux can run new and old applications causing a huge ramp up in available apps. Put these features on small cheap computers and they sell just about everywhere.

See StatCounter, India – legacy PCs, tablet PC and smartphones.

  • Jul 31 / 2014
  • 0
technology

I Care About M$ v Free Software

One of dozens of means of “winning” an argument is to claim the opponent’s arguments don’t matter.“There really is no one-size-fits-all computer operating system, so fighting about which one is better ends up being a huge waste of time.” In the OS Wars, OS does matter because not all operating systems are benign servants of the user. M$, after all, is “out to get us”.

M$ deliberately expanded its monopoly to stifle competition. That hurt us. The world paid many $billions more for software than necessary because of that. Just check M$’s SEC filings and compare them with RedHat’s to see what I mean. RedHat actually worked for a living for years before it had its first $billion in revenue. So did M$, but RedHat didn’t go around locking people in with shifting file-formats, making “Independent” Software Vendors dependent and totally neglecting security for a decade or more.

M$ deliberately made crapware sell because it could and the world re-re-rebooted for decades. That hurt us.

FLOSS and GNU/Linux don’t hurt us because the software can be run any way we want, examined until the cows come home, modified if we wish, and copied endlessly under the same terms. FLOSS is out to help us, not to hurt us.

So there are dozens of reasons to use GNU/Linux and few to use that other OS. That’s not what the war is about. It’s about being free to get the best out of IT and the hardware we own. M$ deliberately limits what our hardware can do by the terms of its cursed licences. We have to pay extra for the privilege of being enslaved. That’s not for me. No one chooses to be enslaved when they see they have a choice. Put GNU/Linux on retail shelves and watch what happens. ASUS sold out. Dell is selling it like hotcakes in China and India. Many governments, businesses organizations and individuals are enjoying Freedom. You should too.

See Who cares about Windows versus Linux?.

  • Jul 31 / 2014
  • 0
technology

Android/Linux Is The New PacMan

“Android’s domination of global smartphone shipments reached a new peak in Q2 2014, with an impressive 85 percent of all smartphones now running Google’s OS. Android’s gain came at the expense of every major rival platform. BlackBerry saw its global smartphone share tumble from 2 percent to 1 percent in the past year due to a weak line-up of BB10 devices. Apple iOS lost one point of share to Android because of its limited presence at the lower end of the smartphone market. Microsoft Windows Phone continued to struggle in the United States and China, and its global smartphone marketshare fell from 4 percent in Q2 2013 to just 3 percent during Q2 2014.”

Like the ancient PacMan game, smartphones have a winner, Android/Linux, the OS of 85% of the 295million smartphones shipped in the second quarter of this year. The causes of this monopoly unlike that other OS are:

  • a strong Linux base,
  • plenty of developers skilled in Java, and
  • a great price of $0 for many years.

Google did not need exclusive dealing to create the monopoly. It’s based on quality the consumer can see and feel.

See Android Captures Record 85 Percent Share of Global Smartphone Shipments.

  • Jul 30 / 2014
  • 15
technology

LibreOffice 4.3, The Almost Perfect Office Suite

By any measure, LibreOffice is a great office suite.“According to the Coverity Scan service, joined by LibreOffice in October 2012, the quality of LibreOffice source code has improved dramatically during the last two years, with a reduction of the defect density per 1,000 lines of code from an above the average 1.11 to an industry leading 0.08″ Today’s release takes it another step closer to perfection. If you can’t do something with it, you probably don’t need to do it or it’s just silly. I can do everything I want with it. It lacks only one small feature for me, styles in charts/graphs, but that’s in the pipe.

LibreOffice 4.3: today, you can’t own a better office suite.

  • Jul 28 / 2014
  • 8
technology

Snakes sometimes strangle prey. Maybe dragons do too.

China is a huge emerging market in IT but there are huge stresses building between China and the outside world with IT being crucial.
China has been accused of cyber-warfare and has accused the USA with the same. The NSA has been flushed out as spying on the whole world so China is not alone in resenting that. Check out some news from China. I would not be surprised to see a move to FLOSS and home-grown distros of GNU/Linux in the offing:

  • “Microsoft has confirmed that officials from China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce – the body responsible for enforcing business laws – have visited some of its offices.” See BBC News – China regulators visit Microsoft offices
  • “Kingsoft Co Ltd, a Beijing-based software firm, aims to sell more than 70 percent of its office software through government purchase deals this year after reports said Microsoft’s Office suite had been abandoned by State-level organizations.” See IT vendors in search of new business code
  • “China, too, is stepping up its security protection against US surveillance. In May it announced that the Central Government Procurement Center had mandated all “desktops, laptops and tablet PCs purchased by central State organizations must be installed with OS other than Windows 8″. The Chinese media have painted Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Google, Yahoo and other IT giants as pawns of the US National Security Agency, claiming that foreign technology service providers such as Google and Apple can become cybersecurity threats to Chinese users.” See Cyber cold war likely to continue
  • “The government’s rising fears over information safety may further cut the market share for overseas software enterprises in government procurement, a major profit source for global giants including Microsoft, Adobe and Oracle, analysts said on Monday. “ See Move to domestic software pressures foreign companies
  • “Analysts argued cutting loose with China in smartphone design and manufacturing does not benefit Microsoft, as it aims to become a mobile company similar to Google Inc.
    China is the biggest phone market in the world, it is important to understand the local requirements for Microsoft’s future product development”
    See Fears mount over Microsoft job losses
  • Jul 26 / 2014
  • 4
technology

Tablets Are Doing Well

Oh, the poor desktop PC. First, the notebook overtook them in units sold. Then the smartphone did the same. Now it’s the tablet’s turn“The worldwide tablet grew 11.0% year over year in the second quarter of 2014 (2Q14) with shipments reaching 49.3 million units according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker.
…Share outside the top 5 grew to an all time high as more and more vendors have made inroads in the tablet space. By now most traditional PC and phone vendors have at least one tablet model in the market, and strategies to move bundled devices and promotional offerings have slowly gained momentum.”

These are real people and organizations buying these tablets. The real PC is no longer a big box filled with air and fans, but a tiny energy-sipping small cheap computer running */Linux. OK, quite a few run iOS but iOS has certainly lost most of its early lead.

See Worldwide Tablet Market Grows 11% in Second Quarter on Shipments from a Wide Range of Vendors, According to IDC.

  • Jul 24 / 2014
  • 8
technology

Choosing Debian GNU/Linux

Here’s a guy who like me chose Debian GNU/Linux. His tastes are a little different but he gets what he needs because Debian is reliable and diverse.“all the hardware and related software updating works insanely well, even better than at first, which wasn’t bad at all anyway with a minimal amount of research. Easier and far less time (and bandwidth) consuming than Windows with its constant reboot, check for more updates, reboot again, ad infinitum thing, not to mention having to update all the non-native software separately in a piecemeal manner. With Debian (or any Linux really) I can leave the machine running for months, and do, with no issues at all, updating all throughout that uptime. Maybe I’ll reboot for a kernel update just to see if the video driver thing’s been mildly futzed, but as I said, even that’s not been happening for months and months now. It’s rock solid stable and reliable.” It appears that Ubuntu GNU/Linux is more popular but that’s a result of Canonical actually having salesmen and major OEMs helping distribute their product. If Debian had such salesmen, it would not be a clone of Ubuntu GNU/Linux but quite a different fish.

For me, APT, the Advanced Packaging Tool, their “release when ready” approach, and their huge repository are the key features that make Debian GNU/Linux so attractive. I can get almost any PC to do my bidding with it. I too, usually start with a minimal installation, not even one box checked from the installer programme. I then add what I want in a computer system: X, XFCE4, my favourite applications and my favourite servers and databases. That turns any PC with a bit of RAM and CPU into a miniature version of the Internet with powerful nodes and great web applications. I use the browser for most things except polishing stuff for presentations. Debian GNU/Linux works for me.

See the other guy’s view at Two Years With Debian GNU/Linux – An Average Guy's Verdict.

  • Jul 23 / 2014
  • 5
technology

Go, Toulouse! City Saves €1.000.000 Via LibreOffice And That’s Not All They Do With FLOSS

It’s rather obvious to me but others still deny:

  1. that organizations of any size can use LibreOffice instead of M$’s offering, and
  2. that organizations of any size can save a bundle of money doing so.

Munich and Toulouse and the government of the UK and … are all strong counter-examples “Software licenses for productivity suites cost Toulouse 1.8 million euro every three years. Migration cost us about 800,000 euro, due partly to some developments. One million euro has actually been saved in the first three years. It is a compelling proof in the actual context of local public finance”to this mystical belief that one needs to spend far more than the cost of IT to get any production from IT. FLOSS works. It’s a GUI. Anyone can use it and the cost of a licence is $0. Is that so hard to figure out? The cost of maintaining and updating the software is less with FLOSS too, thanks to the wonderful FLOSS licences that permit admins to copy/modify/distribute to their hearts’ content.
“50 per cent of the operating systems in Toulouse are based on Linux. These systems support the majority of our intranet, extranet and internet sites, plus some web-based business applications, all based on a LAMP architecture – Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP” Toulouse also uses a lot of FLOSS on the servers for similar benefits. As they modernize their fleet of computers both desktop and server they get all those great benefits everytime they install a machine or an OS or an application. FLOSS is the gift that keeps on giving. I will never forget the first few times I installed FLOSS and GNU/Linux. Stuff just worked so much better and nothing prevented me from providing local services on the network: not budgets, and not licences. I was free to get the best benefit from the expenditure on hardware rather than constantly being prevented from doing what I wanted. Large organizations have the same freedom I experienced although they call it “productivity” and “the bottom line”. It’s all good.

See Toulouse saves 1 million euro with LibreOffice | Joinup.

  • Jul 23 / 2014
  • 0
Linux in Education, Teaching, technology

Freeing Education Via GNU/Linux

When I was teaching in small remote schools in Canada’s north, I had the same sorts of problems schools in the south have.“I found that our technology was not up to scratch to meet the needs of our students. We only had a few desktop PCs located in each elementary and middle school classroom, and only a few in our high school computer labs. We definitely needed more machines so students would get more time to work on class projects and do research.” There weren’t enough PCs and the cost of maintenance was prohibitive. Along came GNU/Linux and a lot of problems were solved. We could spend money on hardware (productivity booster) instead of software licences (dead weight). Malware became a distant memory as installed operating systems just kept humming for years. Package management over the network saved tons of work, too.

I went with thin client technology to maximize the benefit of new hardware. Today, schools have the choice of letting Google spend money on hardware so a new kind of thin client, the Chromebook, works for them. It’s all good. They both use GNU/Linux. More money spent on IT goes for the education of students and less on making the rich richer.

See Bridgeport Public Schools Choose Chromebooks.

  • Jul 22 / 2014
  • 0
technology

France, Spain And Greece Loosen Their Shackles

You have to admire the bold moves many European governments have made towards using FLOSS to do their IT. More organizations should follow their examples.

France A parliamentary report recommends securing the Internet from attacks by various players and using more FLOSS.
Valencia, Spain Valencia has saved $millions over the years and it’s not about to stop using FLOSS.
Greece Universities have organized a summer course for civil servants and others who need to learn more about FLOSS and how to use it.

The French report pulls no punches:(translation from French)
On FLOSS, among many other advantages, It helps reduce the dependence, strategic and economic, of France vis-a-vis foreign suppliers: “In these lean times we would find many advantages to using open programs like LibreOffice, OpenOffice or FireFox instead of paying a fortune to Microsoft” emphasized Mr. Francesco Ragazzi

My favourite recommendation?
“promote a progressive migration of their IT infrastructure to FLOSS. This can happen, in particular, by a preference for open source software in tendering procedures for public procurement and the imposition of open standards.”

I couldn’t have written it any better than that.

See also, France parliamentary committee: ‘encourage European open source software market’

Pages:1234567...66