Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Posts Tagged / google

  • 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 21 / 2014
  • 2

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 14 / 2014
  • 4

It’s Been A Long Time Coming But Competition Returns To The Market For PCs

It was just a few years ago that M$ could tell OEMs what to do if they wanted to sell a PC and that included bundling M$’s OS with (almost) every PC shipped on the planet.“Microsoft operating chief Kevin Turner said that the company and its partners won’t cede the low-end of the PC market and will sacrifice Windows licensing margins to do it.” That’s over and here’s what happened:

  • That pesky GNU/Linux operating system would not go away and was installed on just about everything except desktop PCs…
  • Finally Dell, HP, and other big OEMs figured out that they could make money selling some PCs with GNU/Linux, probably as a result of US Department of Justice twisting arms…
  • Then Google figured out that PCs had to be a lot cheaper if Google’s market, everyone on the Internet, was going to grow sufficiently rapidly to maintain Google in the manner to which it had become accustomed, and Google provided an inexpensive */Linux OS, Android/Linux the world could ship on inexpensive ARMed PCs of all kinds: tablets, smartphones, all-in-ones and yes, even desktop PCs. Further, Android/Linux did not have a lot of the problems of that other OS: malware, slowing down, re-re-reboots, and high and hidden price…

Chuckle. The good times are rolling. Eventually even retailers and businesses locked into doing things M$’s way will take the opportunities that exist in the market. Already Google has sponsored a billion small cheap computers running Android/Linux and there could be more than another billion shipped this year. M$ had better compete on price to have any hope of keeping up. Then there are all the lock-ins that M$ has built over the year. Those lock-ins now keep M$ out of the market: Bloatware just doesn’t fit on most small cheap computers, bloatware just doesn’t run fast on most small cheap computers, and M$’s GUI for the desktop and the touch-screen doesn’t fit well on the tiny screens that people love to put in their pockets.

Forget charging a price of $0. M$ will have to pay people to buy something running that other OS. People won’t take that pay as just a reduction of the price of the device a few dollars. They will want a huge cut or some substantial benefit. Using a word-processor designed in the 1980s won’t cut it. Most users of small cheap computers can’t even type… They just want to click and */Linux lets them and their friends and their friends’ friends click to their heart’s content. Remember the 1990s when M$ held that monopoly naturally called on them to dominate the market? Well, it’s the 1990s all over again, done right this time. :-))

Do the maths. Millions are buying small cheap computers that do for them what bulky PCs used to do: compute and communicate. Those small cheap computers even do it better, being small and cheap (bonus for no extra charge). If M$ does give away its OS for small cheap computers or pay people to use its OS, everyone will know that the value of M$’s OS on desktop PCs and servers is about $0, too. The endgame is that M$ cannot just compete on price for consumers’ gadgets. M$ will have to compete everywhere and actually work for a living from now on. That will lower their margins considerably. That will cut into their bottom line. That may not maintain their market share anywhere near where it is now.

See Microsoft eyes Chromebooks, low-end PC market: All about the platform.

  • Jul 10 / 2014
  • 4

GNU/Linux Is A Part Of The Rebound In Sales of PCs

IDC and Gartner have reported that Q2 of 2014 showed a considerable rebound in shipments of legacy PCs but GNU/Linux is a part of that, according to web stats. IDC even mentions ChromeBooks in it’s story: “Despite the end of Windows XP support in early April, it appears many Windows XP migrations continue to take place. Most major vendors saw solid growth, and early indications also point to desktop shipments being stronger than expected in some areas, signaling continued business buying. The consumer side also appears stronger than expected, with growing activity among the lower-priced models as well as Chromebooks.

One encouraging factor was a good intake of lower-end systems, including Chromebooks, which coincides with the recent slowing in tablet growth and perhaps signals the beginning of some stabilization on the consumer side”

So, it pays to have salesmen and it appears that both Chromebooks and GNU/Linux machines have salesmen. It’s all good.

See PC rebound in mature regions stabilizes market in 2Q14, says IDC.

  • Jun 27 / 2014
  • 16

Google’s Smartphone Is The New “Compatible PC”

The next billion users of IT, perhaps even the next few billion, will likely be using Android/Linux smartphones if Google has anything to say about it.“For every HTC and Samsung, there are tens of Android hardware makers who have to redesign their smartphones to hit a certain low price. This is especially true in the developing world, where keeping the cost down means a lot of effort is spent tweaking devices — something that Google feels is a waste of time. That’s why it’s launching Android One, a program where Mountain View’s engineers will design cost-conscious hardware, and other companies will simply manufacture it. There are plenty of fringe benefits, but the biggest one is that Google will be able to dictate a minimum set of standards for forthcoming Android handsets.” Don’t believe me? Check out the rate of growth of Android/Linux page-views globally, according to StatCounter:

That’s before Google’s new initiative to standardize a really inexpensive/affordable Android/Linux smartphone, sparing all comers even the bother of designing something. This is like IBM standardizing the “PC” back in the day. On top of the already explosive growth what will happen? Armageddon for Wintel? The dawning of a new age? The closing of the Digital Divide? I think this will be the biggest wave of adoption the world of IT has ever seen, billions of new users in a few short years, all using FLOSS on small cheap computers. Then, there are the ChromeBooks which have been successful in education and some business segments. Google plans a global push to consumers, lots of consumers. In five years, will Wintel even matter on the client side?

See Google's Android One program will set minimum standards for bargain-basement smartphones.

“Google is leaving no stone unturned to make its Chromebook a mainstream device for consumers.”See also Google I/O 2014: Chromebooks to Get Android App Support and More Soon.

See also, Windows wars? The Android and Chrome OS Alliance

SJVN beat me by a few hours but his take is similar. Google is hot. */Linux is hot. Bringing Android and Linux to the masses is happening.

  • May 15 / 2014
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A Million PCs Per Week Are Being Installed Of GNU/Linux

There are a couple of assumptions here:

  • page-views, which StatCounter records, are proportional to units installed, and
  • there are about 1500 million, more or less, desktop and notebook PCs out there, in the world.

Those are pretty reasonable. Being a bit off may change the number somewhat, but it’s still huge. The GNU/Linux numbers include Chrome OS which is about 0.2% share of page-views.

Week GNU/Linux (%) Millions (base 1500) Growth (millions)
1 1.38 20.70 0.00
2 1.45 21.75 1.05
3 1.53 22.95 1.20
4 1.64 24.60 1.65
5 1.75 26.25 1.65
6 1.80 27.00 0.75

However you slice it, the world is either pumping out of OEMs, converting from that other OS, or building from parts, about a million PCs each week running GNU/Linux. It’s a far cry from the ~1% number often mentioned. In the last six weeks, the growth has been 0.42%. That growth has come from seed planted by OLPC around the world and a bunch of computer-teachers like me… That growth has come from Canonical getting close to a bunch of OEMs shipping Ubuntu GNU/Linux. That growth has come from Google starting another beach-head with ChromeOS. That growth has come from a lot of consumers buying GNU/Linux PCs. That growth has come from some businesses and organizations seeing the light and getting off the Wintel treadmill at XP. That growth has come from everyone that escapes the mental lock-in that M$ has fostered by fair means or foul over decades of monopoly. I think Android/Linux has opened a lot of eyes. If */Linux works on servers and smart thingies, why not desktops?
See Top 7 Desktop OSs from Week 14 to Week 19 2014

  • May 09 / 2014
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Zombie Law Suit, Oracle v. Google, Refuses To Die

Just when you thought copyright on APIs was dead, a looney-toons court raises it from the grave.“The heart of the appeal was whether Oracle can claim a copyright on Java APIs and, if so, whether Google infringed that copyright. According to the Federal Circuit today, the answer to both questions was a qualified yes—with the qualification being that Google may have a fair use defense.” Do the Supremes have to decide everything that matters in USA? Is it time to purge all Java from our systems? Damned Oracle…

Do lawyers not know what they do? Is a world where every programmer has to have a licence to write “func(x)” a better place, a just place?. Do they want us to return to the dark days of in-line code? Are lawyers insane?

See Dangerous Decision in Oracle v. Google: Federal Circuit Reverses Sensible Lower Court Ruling on APIs.

  • May 07 / 2014
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Small Cheap Computers And Numerology

What I have been holding for years, that CPUs are idling all over the world, is supported by a guy at ARM, paid per core…“What we saw in 2013 was about 250 million tablets being shipped at various price points. What was really interesting was that of that 250 million, 100 million of those were actually using SoCs designed by Chinese SoC partners.” According to ARM the 8-core (4 BIG + 4 little) is overkill for current smartphones. The little cores do most of the work and the BIG guys just idle. 20% of the time, there is only one little core running. We are there, where ARM is certainly powerful enough for most small cheap computers. The Chinese, however, like the number 8 so …

Where the 8-core wonders will pay off is with an OS like GNU/Linux which can multitask all day long on tablets and desktops, doing things under the covers while entertaining users with multiple applications simultaneously.

See ARM exec: Forget eight-core smartphone chips, just enjoy a SIX-PACK.

  • May 07 / 2014
  • 4

Chromebooks Mature

Chuckle. M$ will soon have to recall its ads… Chromebooks can now do a lot of stuff offline. That may explain why so many Chromebooks are using Intel processors these days. The ARMed devices may not be up to the job.“Google and partners are offering discounts to those who want to replace XP PCs with Chromebooks. Google has marked applications that can work offline in its Chrome Apps store and more applications are being added to that list” I think that’s still a choice for OEMs who try to cut costs. Certainly, there are some mighty powerful ARMed chips available this year.

It’s all good, anything but Wintel.

See Chromebooks looking to replace PCs by going offline.

  • May 07 / 2014
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OEMs Ramp Up Chromebooks

I have long recommended schools and others adopt small cheap computers for a number of reasons:“Lenovo isn’t the only company with Chromebook news today. Intel and a slew of hardware manufacturers announced a lineup of new Chrome devices today at an event in San Francisco — including devices that will feature more powerful hardware than we’ve seen thus far in most mainstream Chromebooks.”

  • They are less expensive.
  • They tend to run FLOSS and GNU/Linux because that’s the right way to do IT and it’s less expensive.
  • They will do what you need done and they are less expensive.

Thin clients, smartphones, tablets, Chromebooks… all meet those criteria. Not everyone needs to drive a Cadillac, most of us in fact. It’s the same with personal computers. The concept of a mainframe-replacing desktop hair-drier is just silly. Most of us don’t need the massive storage, CPU-power, noise, heat… sitting close by us. “Education-focused Chromebooks have been "a huge success for Lenovo"”We can have it on a server somewhere, anywhere, even in the cloud. With the cloud, maintaining those servers is the headache of someone else. There is no need for the world to be slaves to Wintel. Amen.

See Google and Intel team up to give Chromebooks more power.

See also, The world's largest PC maker now wants to sell you a Chromebook

  • Apr 25 / 2014
  • 4

Maxing-out Production Of Smartphones

I have for years touted small cheap computers as the future of IT“China-based vendor Huawei Device has set a goal of shipping 80 million smartphones globally in 2014, growing 53.8% on year

In 2013, Huawei Device shipped 52 million smartphones, up 62.5% on year”
but I never imagined they would so rapidly eclipse the ubiquity and power of legacy PCs. The small size, low price, adequate performance and an abundance of software applications has allowed Android/Linux on ARM smartphones to blow away all my expectations.

The love of mobility and capabilities of the devices have made them nearly ubiquitous. At these rates of production, nearly everyone on the planet who wants one will have it in 2014 or 2015. The installed base already eclipses the legacy PC. 3Q13 Shipments
Further, the installed base could grow to the point where the replacement production could continue to eclipse the legacy PC forever. It’s not that legacy PCs will disappear but they will become a specialty device for folks who need more CPU/storage/throughput than a small fanless device can manage. The legacy PC may become rare within a few years as folks realize they don’t need/want one or can get the grunt stuff done on a server.

Flash back to the early days of the PC. Businesses needed them as word-processors and calculators and databases and communications devices. Ordinary consumers didn’t need them at all until e-mail and the web took off, except for gaming. Now, the consumer can get all he/she needs from these small cheap computers. There are a lot more consumers than business-employees. The small cheap computers can be connected to large/multiple screens, keyboards and pointing devices to do a lot of the work businesses do on servers these days. So, the Wintel empire will shrink to a fraction of its present size. 8 quarters of declining shipments of legacy PCs shows that. M$’s desperate attempts to produce small cheap computers and still claim a tax shows that. M$’s constant advertising shows that.

The world has entered an entirely new phase with an abundance of choices and competition for consumers’ business and for businesses’ business. It will be interesting to see whether the smartphone will do it all or tablets will become giant smartphones or smartphones will dock into whatever. It’s all good.

See Huawei Device aims to ship 80 million smartphones in 2014.

See Record Smartphone Shipments Grow the Market 38.8% in the Third Quarter of 2013, Making Way For A Strong Holiday Quarter, According to IDC

  • Apr 15 / 2014
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Chrome OS Could Be The GNU/Linux That Has It’s Year Sooner Rather Than Later

It might be a bit of optimism but Chrome OS could well be the GNU/Linux that takes over the desktop.“for personal computing and BYOD, it’s already happening. The Linux that’s taking over the desktop is called the Chrome OS and it will happen on the Chromebook device.” There are many who see Google as the salvation of mankind for dealing with servers and if you do everything on Google’s Cloud, ChromeOS will do the job for most of us. So far, Cloud has taken a huge share of IT and it’s growth is ensured for years to come. One of those years will the year of GNU/Linux as Chrome OS. At the rate of decline of M$’s influence (they are advertising year-round these days), this could happen in as little as a year and probably will happen within three years. Remember that Android/Linux thing that never would fly??? It did. Google knows what they are doing.

Where’s M$? Pushing an OS no one wants and selling gadgets for a living.

The real competition for Chrome OS is not M$’s legacy technology nor their cloud but Ubuntu GNU/Linux which is selling on a lot of PCs these days. Last year Google mostly flew a trial balloon in USA but this year they could reach any place on the planet with decent Internet connectivity. That covers the bulk of M$’s territory: the Americas, Europe, Asia and cities in all the rest of the emerging markets. Everywhere else is using mobile computing.

The advantages of Chrome OS for most of us are many:

  • nothing to learn but the browser – done
  • low, low, low prices – done
  • no problem with malware – Hallelujah!
  • no problem with re-re-reboots – Hallelujah!
  • no problem with updating dozens of applications and drivers – Hallelujah!

Some tout that needing connectivity is a disadvantage but no one really believes that because we are always connected all the time. Heck! I know people who are deep in the bush and can browse and phone home anyway. Some tout that local printing is an issue. If that were true, we’d all have printers. We don’t. Most of us are walking around with a PC in our pocket and rarely print anything. We can always e-mail stuff to a printer somewhere if we need more trees to kill. Doing away with paper is one of the great possibilities that Chrome OS and highly mobile computing are not only promising but delivering. I have a big, fast colour printer upstairs and I don’t remember the last time I used it. I have computers in every room and can easily view stuff with the appropriate zoom for my old eyes. Chuckle. Chrome OS may not be perfect, but it’s a damned sight closer to perfect than M$’s bloat that they told us for years was absolutely wonderful.

See Linux is about to take over the desktop but not like you think it will.