Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Posts Tagged / FLOSS

  • Sep 02 / 2014
  • 4
technology

Eventually Revolution Is the Easier Route To Escape An Oppressive System

When the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) throws fuel on the fire of revolution, you know it’s a big fire, happening in the public square.“While some have found the process of upgrading straightforward, others have found it expensive, irritating and time-consuming.
And interestingly, it isn’t the operating system itself that seems to be causing the biggest headache, it’s transferring the applications that used to run on it and upgrading the servers that supported the old machines.”
That’s the case with the escape from XP, M$’s pinnacle of lock-in.

You see, M$ designed XP simply to create lock-in. It was no technical advance. It was an advance in lock-in with “domains” and “forests” and dependence on servers running that other OS just to log in and obscured file-sharing protocols and ever-shifting file-systems and file-formats.

Well, M$ succeeded in locking in businesses and large organization with a vengeance. The problem is the applications, you know, the ones designed especially for XP? Well, many of them won’t run with anything else. Those applications are locked in as is the hardware that depended on those obscured file-sharing and networking protocols. M$ now asks everyone to throw away all their IT and accept new lock-in from “7″ and “8″ and take another jog on the treadmill getting nowhere while working up a sweat.

The problem, for M$, is that they’ve been so aggressive in creating lock-in that their loyal followers cannot afford to throw away all that IT and carry on. IT has grown by an order of magnitude since XP was foisted on the world. The cost of continuing with M$ and “partners” is now much greater than the cost of going to GNU/Linux and keeping a lot of the hardware and understanding what IT is and how it works. They’ve made GNU/Linux look better.

The FUD doesn’t work. The world sees M$ as the cancer, not GNU/Linux and FLOSS. The world sees Android/Linux systems working smoothly for more folks and at lower cost and complexity. The world sees that depending on M$ for anything in IT is difficult, expensive and a nightmare waiting to happen.

The result is that consumers are switching to Android/Linux and governments, businesses and large organizations are switching to GNU/Linux, in droves. Governments are banning M$’s standards and protocols. The OS itself is next. Already huge segments of humanity know that a web browser and the Internet will do a lot of what they want done. There’s just no need for a lot of what M$ offers and it’s more efficient to go elsewhere for software. Enter FLOSS, the most efficient means of creating and distributing software. It’s time is now.

See Windows XP: Your upgrade experiences.

  • Sep 02 / 2014
  • 0
technology

Mindshare-Momentum For FLOSS

That other OS is a total mess. It has been from the beginning when salesmen decided what an OS should be and“Windows is a total mess. A lot of those involved in developing it have left and it truly shows. Just look what a mess recent releases of Windows have been, both when released and when patched (bricked)” violated every rule in the book and even common sense. It’s worse today because of the huge installed base forced on the world. Now the damage done by every flaw costs the world $billions and it’s not “economic activity” but waste, crime, and brutally unreliable IT.

That’s the reason I got away 15 years ago. It’s too bad the world has endured so much harm all these years before coming to its senses. The world now sees that FLOSS works. Just about everyone has used Android/Linux and knows it works. Just about everyone has used web applications running on GNU/Linux and knows it works. The poor souls still using that other OS are locked in miserable dark damp cells peering at a vibrant world outside.

All the FUD has failed. The diversification has failed. The bullying and dirty tricks have failed. It’s just been too slow a process but finally it’s happening.

See Moving Away From Windows to GNU/Linux and the Abandonment of Windows as the Modest Proposal These Days.

  • Sep 02 / 2014
  • 1
technology

Overturning The Distro

The systemd folks have an agenda, changing everything. While I, like many others, resist change I want to have some idea of where we are going and how we are gong to get there.“we push quite a few problems into btrfs, that other solutions try to solve in user space. One of them is actually signing/verification of images. The btrfs maintainers are working on adding this to the code base, but currently nothing exists. This functionality is essential though to come to a fully verified system where a trust chain exists all the way from the firmware to the apps. Also, to make the home sub-volume scheme fully workable we actually need encrypted sub-volumes, so that the sub-volume’s pass-phrase can be used for authenticating users in PAM.” One idea is that they will choose a single file-system, btrfs, and use some of its features/complexity to standardize the GNU/Linux file-system, versioning of software, production, distribution and installation of software. They seem to want to turn the GNU/Linux PC into something more like Android so that developers will have a standard target and more control over the run-time environment.

Ewww! This might be fine for the developers, OEMs, and perhaps distro-makers who could share their efforts more efficiently but what of the end-user? No choice of file-system? Umpteen versions of libraries in umpteen branches of the file-system? Relying on the file-system to de-dupe stuff and secure everything?

Imagine the fluff that will replace our solid, dense, reliable distros like Debian GNU/Linux. Imagine how little control the end-user will have over anything. Imagine how complex an installation will become for ordinary folks. Imagine how much expertise will be required to fiddle anything on a GNU/Linux system. Will such systems even be GNU/Linux any longer? Not likely. It’s just not UNIXy enough.

Is this better, desirable at all or necessary? I don’t see it. Is this the evolution of what AT&T and GNU started so long ago? Nope. It looks like starting over from scratch. Is this going to delay, undermine or prevent domination of the world of IT by GNU/Linux? Almost certainly. I can see this process taking a decade or longer. Look how long it took us just to get OEMs to install GNU/Linux. How long is it going to take them to install something few if any understand? Ages. I’m too old to wait for that. I’ll stick with Debian for now. Oops. I’ve just installed systemd on all my machines…

See Revisiting How We Put Together Linux Systems.

  • Sep 01 / 2014
  • 1
technology

WOW! The Feynman Lectures on Physics Available On The Web

I still have the 3-volume set in storage here somewhere. I haven’t read them in ages but they were my absolutely favourite textbooks ever.“Caltech and The Feynman Lectures Website are pleased to present this online edition of The Feynman Lectures on Physics. Now, anyone with internet access and a web browser can enjoy reading a high quality up-to-date copy of Feynman’s legendary lectures.” Feynman was a great scientist and lecturer and the books were basically transcribed from audio recordings of his lectures. He was famous for some fundamental science and later for his analysis of the “Space Shuttle Disaster”, but for me he was always the guy who could make the obscure clear. You could read those books and understand what he was saying and the science behind Nature’s mysteries.

The lectures are not FLOSS. They are read-only… We wouldn’t really want to change a jot or tittle of it anyway. Caltech did use FLOSS tools to publish the work, converting LaTex to HTML.

See The Feynman Lectures on Physics.

  • Sep 01 / 2014
  • 2
technology

Time For the GNU/Linux Desktop

Gary Newell has a thoughtful article on the relationship between the GNU/Linux desktop and that other OS.“Why does it have to be one thing or another?. For Windows to survive must Linux die and for Linux to succeed does Windows have to die? Of course not. The people who want to use Linux will and those who don’t won’t.” His facts are true but he comes to the wrong conclusion by omitting one important fact, M$ is out to get us.

Let’s not forget history:

  • 1997 – When faced with the “horror” of sub $1K PCs M$ wrote, “current PC technology is totally sufficient for most office tasks and consumer desires and that any performance bottleneck is not in today’s PCs but in today’s COM pipes. This in itself might slow down replacement cycles and life time shortening until we find true MIPS eating applications- a priority not only INTEL should subscribe to.” Ever since, M$ has continually taken actions to slow PCs down through use so consumers and businesses will continue to buy new machines with new licences. We don’t need that.
  • 1997 – Paul Maritz wrote, “The real issue deals with not losing control of the APIs on the client and not losing control of the end-user experience. For Netscape this is synonymous with winning the browser battle. That is because they don’t have Windows. We have an asset which has APIs and control the end-user experience: Windows.” In the browser war, M$ deliberately used tying to that other OS as a tool to damage a competitor. IT is supposed to be about the most efficient way of creating, finding, modifying and distributing information, not killing competition and leading users around by the nose. We don’t need that.
  • 1995 – S. McGeady wrote, “On August 2. 1995. in a meeting of Intel and Microsoft executives, Bill Gates told Intel CEO Andy Grove to shut down the Intel Architecture Labs. Gates didn’t want IAL’s 750 engineers interfering with his plans for domination of the PC industry. Gates made vague threats about support for other platforms. and on the same day he announced a major program to support Digital Equipment’s Alpha microprocessor, an Intel competitor. Gates was livid about IAL’s investments in the Internet and wanted them stopped. All of this was said in the presence of executives from both companies.” M$ set out to stifle all innovation related to basic utilities in IT by fair means or foul. We don’t need that.
  • 2004 – The European Commission finds M$ disrupted interoperability in IT. We don’t need that.

So, treating M$ as just another supplier in the IT-playground is a major omission in the argument. M$ is out to get us and is not a neutral business. Therefor we should prefer every other option before them including GNU/Linux on our desktop/notebook PCs simply because GNU/Linux is not out to get us and the authours are entirely motivated to provide good software at the lowest price and fewest burdens. That, to me, overrules all of Newell’s arguments which assume M$ is benign.

M$ has deliberately violated the laws of competition in USA and elsewhere repeatedly, systematically and with malice. They are out to get us. At first they got an exclusive deal with IBM to get their foot in the door, piggybacking on IBM’s branding with business, then they demanded exclusive deals with ISVs and manufacturers, then they punished any manufacturer who stepped out of line and installed competing products, then they created an endless chain of incompatible file-format changes and created whole industries based on the existence of overly complex secret protocols and finally forced the world to accept a closed standard as an open standard… That whole burden has served to render IT more expensive to own and to operate and much more fragile than it should be just on technical merits.

Allowing that other OS to live side by side with GNU/Linux is neither essential nor desirable. The cancer that is M$ needs to be cut out of IT for good. There may be some who prefer the devil they know but the new folks and the folks who come to the light of FLOSS don’t need to leave any oxygen for M$ lest the cancer grows again.

See Linux has run out of time – I looked into the trap, Jim.

  • Aug 30 / 2014
  • 0
technology

Investing In FLOSS Pays Dividends

There’s more than one way to pay for software and investing in FLOSS is hard to beat. Rather than just paying licensing fees, Walmart pays programmers to contribute to a FLOSS project for a component of their websites."every five startups using Hapi translated to the value of one full-time developer, while every 10 large companies translated to one full-time senior developer." In return for its extra work on open development, Walmart gets high-quality programming at a cost far below that of recruiting and retaining extra staff. In turn, this demonstrable return allows the company to justify further development investment because "by paying developers to work on Hapi full time, we get back twice (or more) that much in engineering value." Because other businesses do the same, Walmart gets the services of many programmers while only paying for a few. That’s good business.

When businesses realize that they can do this for their entire software stack from server to client, they can save a bundle on their entire IT expenditure and get better and more flexible software. Businesses should all invest one way or another in FLOSS. It pays.

See Walmart's investment in open source isn't cheap.

  • Aug 28 / 2014
  • 3
technology

Popularity (or lack of it) Of That Other OS on Servers

According to Netcraft, it’s been many years since M$’s OS was so unpopular on servers, like early on in the Age of the Web…

You have to wonder how a company with lots of salesmen, lock-in with OEMs, retailers/channels, $billions in off-shore banks and elsewhere, many thousands of programmers and advertising could be so unpopular. Yes, it’s the same company that was once 95% of OEM desktops and was prosecuted for illegal activity all over the globe. All other things being equal (?) the difference is choice. Someone with the technical savvy to put up a website or to run a webserver, has choice, knows he has choice and makes that choice for convenience, efficiency, reliability, performance or whatever. The consumers usually don’t know they have choice and OEMs and retailers are not helping them find that out. But consumers have choice. They can take a bug-ridden OS from M$ and visit Goodbye-microsoft.com or WWW.Debian.org and fix the problem once and for all. Consumers can also buy a PC with GNU/Linux already installed or find a PC with no OS on which they can in stall GNU/Linux. It’s pretty easy and takes just 15 minutes to an hour or so depending on how slow your PC is. If any problem arises, one can find a solution in seconds using Google or visiting the website of the supplier. You can find many different kinds of GNU/Linux at Distrowatch.com where all the features are displayed. You can install GNU/Linux so it’s very similar to how XP used to work. BTW, that Android smartphone you love has Linux there underneath. You know that’s smooth and reliable. So is GNU/Linux on the desktop.

Advantages? Exactly the same as those folks with all the millions of servers running GNU/Linux and Apache web server:

  • lower licensing fees ($0, it doesn’t get any lower…),
  • reliability (less bloat/fluff, more substance),
  • software designed by techies for techies, not salesmen,
  • oh, and one last thing, permission to run any way you like on as many machines as you like, and you can examine, modify and distribute the software (Software Freedom).

Yes, Victoria, you can enjoy all that your PC can be just like the geeks on the web with their powerful servers.

  • Aug 26 / 2014
  • 8
technology

GNU/Linux Traction On The Desktop

Christine Hall is a wise woman. She wrote, “With the success of Chromebooks, it’s only a matter of time before the OEMs start pushing well designed laptops and desktops with customized versions of Linux installed. It’s bound to happen. Computer makers pay a fortune to Microsoft every year for the privilege of installing Windows. But Windows’ luster as a brand has faded, making this is no longer money well spent.”

I saw that years ago when I worked in schools. We could afford a lot more IT because we used GNU/Linux and the vast majority of users had no problems with it at all. GNU/Linux needs OEMs to offer this desktop to retailers in bulk ASAP. They can make more money through higher margins and the retailers can make more money through higher volumes. It does no one any good to stick with Wintel when it doesn’t sell well at all. OTOH, Android/Linux and ChromeOS are selling like hotcakes and GNU/Linux could offer something more than both on the desktop, all native code.

See Don't Fret Linus, Desktop Linux Will Slowly Gain Traction.

  • Aug 25 / 2014
  • 6
technology

Start Talking About the GNU/Linux Desktop

Linus just mentioned that he thinks GNU/Linux could succeed on the desktop and folks come out of the woodwork dumping on the idea…“The briefest glance at market share data suggests that I’m not alone, either. While hundreds of millions of people want Linux powering their smartphones, and millions of businesses are content to let Linux run their servers, virtually no one wants Linux running their laptops and desktops.” The quotation to the right is from an article wherein the authour in a circular fashion argues that GNU/Linux on the business-desktop won’t succeed because of consumers’ needs… That’s laughable. Business is all about work, after all.

Further, business has no need of “consumery” things to use GNU/Linux for servers. Neither do Google, Munich, Largo, India, Spain,… You get the picture. These folks are assuming nothing is happening with GNU/Linux desktops despite things happening. That puts their entire thesis in the garbage.

If you look at global web-stats for GNU/Linux desktops, you see steady growth in a declining or stagnant market for legacy PCs. That means GNU/Linux is becoming accepted on the desktop by many more than just we geeks. Dell and Canonical have actual salesmen delivering it in China and India. OLPC is delivering it to schools in emerging markets around the world. Governments in Europe are adopting it at a great rate. And yes, even businesses are seeing that GNU/Linux works for them on desktop as well as server.

Shortly, I will be going to a meeting where one participant has asked me for help with GNU/Linux on a notebook. She doesn’t like what M$ does for her there. I’ve made up a bootable USB-drive with the Debian installer and a repository of stuff the typical desktop user will need, including Synaptic and gksu so she can customize her notebook when she gets home. I will start her off with a basic installation of Debian GNU/Linux and add the XFCE4 desktop environment with a selection of a few typical applications: FireFox browser, VLC media player, GIMP image editor, and Ristretto image viewer. XFCE4 is similar to what she liked from M$: XP. If M$ won’t give her what she wants, I and the FLOSS community will. When random people you meet are interested in desktop GNU/Linux, this is no time to abandon this thriving technology. It works for ordinary people.

Nope. If you haven’t already started talking about GNU/Linux on desktops, get going.

See (Or Not) Can we please stop talking about the Linux desktop?.

  • Aug 20 / 2014
  • 12
technology

Reports Of The Death Of GNU/Linux In Munich Are Greatly Exaggerated

Here and elsewhere we read that the mayor and M$ are drooling to pave over GNU/Linux with that other OS in Munich…“Suggestions the council has decided to back away from Linux are wrong, according to council spokesman Stefan Hauf.
He said the council’s recently elected mayor Dieter Reiter has instead simply commissioned a report into the future IT system for the council.”
Not so. The mayor is grumbling and has asked for a review of IT in general. That’s a normal part of the life-cycle of any IT-system or version of software. I did that at several of the schools where I worked and the decision to go to GNU/Linux occurred frequently. In GNU/Linux, a result could be to go to a later release of Debian, or to adopt LibreOffice 4.x or to go with thin clients almost everywhere…

Of course, the mayor might get a different result if he accepts voluntary labour from M$ or hires his nephew to do the research, but the council is wide awake and understands the issues, so I doubt there will be some coup in IT.

Further, I can’t see this mayor being reelected if he urges the city to spend ~$30million on returning to the fold of M$ rather than maintaining GNU/Linux for peanuts.

See Ditching Linux for Windows? The truth isn't that simple, says Munich.

  • Aug 18 / 2014
  • 1
technology

M$ Craps On Their Own Servers. Why Trust Them With Your Computers?

It sickens me to hear the tripe spouted here all too often that, “You get what you pay for…”, “Starting at 18 Aug 2014 17:49 UTC, we are experiencing an interruption to Azure Services, may include Cloud Services, Virtual Machines Websites, Automation, Service Bus, Backup, Site Recovery, HDInsight, Mobile Services, StorSimple and possible other Azure Services in multiple regions.” “FLOSS can’t work…”, and “developers with stock options in M$ do better…”.

How can that be when M$ is constantly patching mistakes they made years ago designing their systems according to the whims of salesmen and despite $billions in vested, can’t keep their networks going anywhere close to what a couple of good servers can do with GNU/Linux? Then there are the constant stream of re-re-reboots, malware, bugs, slowing down and endless friction due to the restrictive EULA. It’s all so sad that people keep paying this monster straight out of a “B” horror-movie. I recommend Debian GNU/Linux. It’s the right way to do IT.

See Microsoft Azure suffers Total Inability To Support Usual Performance (TITSUP).

See also, The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?

  • Aug 18 / 2014
  • 0
technology

Paying For FLOSS

FLOSS, Free/Libre Open Source Software, is not about software that costs $0. Most programmers need to be paid for the time/energy/resources they invest in FLOSS.“A few months ago, the Heartbleed bug was discovered in the OpenSSL cryptography library, which plays an absolutely critical role in securing confidential online transactions. We then discovered that for years this critical piece of infrastructural software has been maintained by a handful of overworked volunteers. The industry was rightly shocked by Heartbleed, and some companies – notably Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Intel, IBM, Cisco and Amazon – agreed to donate $300,000 each over the next three years to support the OpenSSL project.” Those most able to pay for FLOSS are the businesses, organizations and users of FLOSS. Unfortunately, because FLOSS is often obtained, legally, by a $Free download, there is no channel direct from those who benefit to those who produce FLOSS. In some cases that doesn’t matter as some developers do it for the love of some application or the joys of programming. In other cases it matters because unfinished or buggy FLOSS is shipped to places that matter.

Businesses have long contributed to Linux because the kernel runs a lot of their equipment like devices found in PCs or servers. Even ordinary users can contribute by obtaining a Linux credit card. Big businesses have not given much support to the GNU or to most FLOSS applications not widely used in business. It’s time that those who benefit from FLOSS pay for it. Several big businesses may now be supporting OpenSSL (Open Secure Sockets Layer) but they should also be supporting FireFox (Google does), LibreOffice, GNU, vlc, mplayer, xbmc, InkScape and all the rest of the organizations that provide and distribute FLOSS (see Debian’s list of packages for a hint). How about the distros, while we’re at it? Support Debian or SUSE or RedHat. Donate or pay for some of their products. See if FLOSS grows or improves as a result. See if the world becomes a better place. You know you need to do it.

See So the internet's winners are finally chipping in? About time….

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