Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Posts Tagged / Linux

  • Apr 11 / 2014
  • 15

Wintel Balloon Deflates

One of the most fun things in life is the site of a buoyant balloon taking flight, reaching unimaginable heights gracefully and easily. That was the old Wintel monopoly when neither Intel nor M$ had to do anything to dominate all of IT. When the leak started in the middle of XP’s reign, no one was fired for buying Intel and M$’s stuff. Many folks were run out of business simply for providing good products at reasonable price. Not so now. M$ has had to actually build decent products over the last decade but it wasn’t enough to keep the balloon up. Wintel was too expensive, too bulky, and too rigid to do what users wanted done.

“executive VP in charge of operating systems Terry Myerson, told ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley that he was OK with a services model. Specifically, when she asked about the Nokia X line of phones–those new low-priced Android phones running Microsoft services announced at Mobile World Congress. He was cool with a phone running Android, precisely because he was happy to see Microsoft services running on as many devices as possible, regardless of the operating system”It took a lot of work but ARM and the FLOSS community have bypassed both companies. To remain relevant, Intel is diversifying into ARM and making x86 as efficient as they can with Moore’s Law and every other trick they can find. Still Intel’s processors are more expensive than ARM even if energy consumption is not as much disadvantage. There’s just too much silicon involved. Meanwhile, 8-core CPUs and great graphics modules abound in the ARMed world and ARMed CPUs are outselling Intel by a wide margin. Android/Linux has done a similar number on M$’s stuff, so much that M$ now seeks to leverage its PC and server platform into services to sell, just like Google which Ballmer accused of having no business-plan…

See Turning The Ship: Microsoft Might Have Begun A Subtle Shift From Windows To Services.

  • Apr 11 / 2014
  • 0

GNU/Linux For Everyone

The New York Times is at it again, suggesting GNU/Linux as a worthwhile alternative to M$ and Apple’s stuff.“Linux did revolutionize computing. If you own an Android phone or a Kindle e-reader, you are a Linux user. Linux is at the core of those popular devices and is found in a variety of other places, from the world’s most powerful supercomputers down to the tiny Raspberry Pi device that is a favorite among electronics hobbyists.” Good for them. They are helping their 2 million readers escape slavery.

This is a great day. Even my marigold seedlings broke into bloom, ready to face the bright future.

See The Many Alternative Computing Worlds of Linux.

  • Apr 09 / 2014
  • 0
technology Broken Again

“Secure Connection Failed
An error occurred during a connection to The OCSP server has no status for the certificate. (Error code: sec_error_ocsp_unknown_cert) “

Netcraft reports their OCSP server is down: “0% uptime in the past 24h”

I hope this is not a hangover from the OpenSSL uses heartbeat…

I updated my machines yesterday.

See also ‘Change All Passwords’ Warning Issued After Massive Internet Breach

UPDATE A few minutes later, is working again.

  • Apr 04 / 2014
  • 0

RedHat Kicks The Anthill Over At

In my misspent youth I learned that if you kicked a red anthill, the little buggers would swarm all over the place seeking vengeance and repairing the hill…“It has come to our attention that a system running a specific userspace init program will not boot if you add "debug" to the kernel command line. What happens is that the user space tool parses the kernel command line, and if it sees "debug" it will spit out so much information that the system fails to boot. This basically renders the "debug" option for the kernel useless.” The swarm on was impressive. As well as dealing with one problem, a whole bunch of inter-organizational angst was revealed. Linus even stated this was the last straw and he would no longer receive patches from a certain developer at RedHat. Eewww! Greg KH stepped in as peace-maker.

Just as anthills have their strange way of getting repaired, the stresses between two huge tectonic plates of FLOSS will seek equilibrium and life will go on, until the next time…

See Linux-Kernel Archive: [RFC PATCH] cmdline: Hide "debug" from /proc/cmdline.

  • Mar 31 / 2014
  • 24

Making a Difference

I have a lot of respect for Ken Starks but he wrote, again, “The fact is, we’ll never see “the year of desktop Linux.” Not the way we imagine it anyway. Many of us long for the time when Linux will become a well known alternative to Microsoft Windows. That just isn’t gonna happen.”

He makes some good points, that don’t actually support his thesis. I can give a single counterexample that shows the error of his ways. There are places on this planet where GNU/Linux is a well known alternative OS on the desktop. See, for example, Reunion, a French colony in the Indian Ocean.

There, “7″ is only a few times more frequently used than GNU/Linux and Android/Linux is breathing down “7″‘s neck. “8″ and “8.1″ are far less frequently used. Are they widely known? Must be with all the advertising M$ puts out.

There are many countries where GNU/Linux is widely known: Brazil, Russia, India, China, Malaysia, Venezuela, Cuba, Uruguay,… Even USA, M$’s homeland knows GNU/Linux because it is on TV every night, and M$ and Apple have been complaining about Android/Linux and GNU/Linux eating their cake.

Not convinced? Large school systems run GNU/Linux. Do you think all those thousands of students might spread the word? How about all those employees at Google? Think they are all geeks with no friends? What does it take to be a well known desktop OS? Sold by major OEMs? GNU/Linux has that covered.

No. The problem, if there is a problem, is not about being well-known. The problem is getting on retail shelves everywhere. That’s the last barrier to wider adoption. Some countries don’t have that problem: Brazil, China, India, etc. If your country has that problem, tell the retailer why those over-priced bulky boxes are gathering dust on their shelves and that they could move product if it was ~$100/unit cheaper. Retailers are all about turnover. They need a high margin on a product rarely sold but a small margin is very profitable on a product sold more often. GNU/Linux PCs of all kinds will sell with lower prices. We saw that with the eeePC and others. ASUS had trouble keeping those shelves stocked.

See Making a Difference the Linux Way.

  • Mar 31 / 2014
  • 12

Small Cheap Computers Win China

The number os users of smartphones in China greatly exceeds the number of legacy PCs.“There were 1.24 billion subscribers of mobile communication services in China as of February 2014, growing 0.36% sequentially and 9.52% on year, and 429.79 million (34.67%) of them were 3G users and 839.05 million (67.68%) mobile Internet-access users, according to China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).
The number of subscribers in February accounted for 90.8% of the country’s population.”
Clearly, these smartphones are the new PC for many. They are replacing legacy PCs for communication and browsing. The legacy PC is too expensive, bulky and immobile to give these folks what they want.

See China has 1.24 billion mobile phone users in February, says MIIT.

  • Mar 27 / 2014
  • 32

Operating Systems, According To Gartner – 2013-2015

As usual, Gartner is making predictions. Clearly, they predict huge share for Android/Linux in 2014. That’s consistent with everything I know. Android/Linux is everywhere, every market, every price-range, and every format. Where I disagree with Gartner is on the growing shipments of that other OS, you know, M$’s expensive crapware. How do they figure M$ is growing on client OS shipments at all? No one likes 8.x very much. M$ is even paying people to use it… Is that predicted to work? I don’t see how. Paying people to use it is an admission that it doesn’t sell on its merits, not something that will work with consumers. Businesses might buy it but those businesses use XP and 8.x is the most different OS on the planet. According to StatCounter, after more than a year on the market, 8.x has only 12.2% share of desktop OS. That’s less than 1% share growth per month, probably only 150 million PCs in the past year. That’s half what M$ used to sell. “7″? That won’t even run on a lot of hardware that XP uses.

People don’t like to change. If forced by malware and hardware incompatibility many will move XP to virtual machines or go to GNU/Linux. See? That “others” category is huge and growing but Gartner predicts “others” will lose shipments. No way. “Others” includes GNU/Linux which is growing rapidly in government, business and with consumers. StatCounter showed GNU/Linux desktops at 0.95% a year ago and 1.16% today, 12.2% growth, while M$’s SEC filings show they are shipping fewer units. “Three months ended December 31, 2013 compared with three months ended December 31, 2012
D&C Licensing revenue decreased $319 million or 6%, due mainly to lower revenue from licenses of Windows and Consumer Office, offset in part by increased Windows Phone revenue. Retail and other sales of Windows declined $264 million or 69%, due mainly to the release of Windows 8 in the prior year. Windows OEM revenue declined $109 million or 3%, reflecting a 12% increase in OEM Pro revenue, offset by continued softness in the consumer PC market.”
That’s reality, not an estimate.

Gartner Says Worldwide Traditional PC, Tablet, Ultramobile and Mobile Phone Shipments Are On Pace to Grow 6.9 Percent in 2014.

  • Mar 23 / 2014
  • 156

Linux And World-Domination

“What Google has done for Linux, over the past few years, no other company has managed to pull off. By releasing two major platforms, both getting the most out of a Linux kernel, Google has put Linux in more hands than Canonical, Red Hat, SuSE, and any other company to have attempted to bring to life the Linux platform.” Yep. Jack Wallen is right. Canonical did a lot for GNU/Linux on desktop and server but that’s just a drop in the bucket compared to the hundreds of millions Google has introduced to the joys of Free Software, stuff you can run anywhere anyway, examine, modify and distribute. Google did that by shipping hardware running the software and selling/shipping units. OEMs pay attention to that. Retailers pay attention to that. Consumers love it when businesses do what they do best and ignore the lock-step stupidity of Wintel. Now, anyone who has a better idea does not have to agree to the EULA or any other silliness from M$. Neither do they have to agree to use an Intel-compatible hair-drier for computation.

Further, Google combined all the best features of the cloud and thin client technologies to bring the user what they want, small cheap computers that can do all the things the user wants to do. Cheap hardware combined with cheap software makes cheap personal computers, exactly what users want. If you spend 6 hours a day on FaceBook, all you need is a browser and a platform to run it. Done! If you take thousands of photographs of your world and want to share them with the rest of the world, all you need is a device with built-in camera, operating system and networking hardware. Done! If you want to know where on Earth you are and how to get where you want to be, all you need is a device that is GPS-aware and goes with you. Done! To Heck with Wintel, a burden to all mankind. Wintel is for slaves, not free people. Thanks, StatCounter.

Google has leveraged its search engine, on-line ad business and FLOSS to bring */Linux to the masses and it took only five years to replace that other OS as the dominant OS of personal computers. They proved that FLOSS is good business. They proved that ARM works for everyone. Thanks, Google! You finished off the monopoly.

See Google propels Linux to the top.

  • Mar 20 / 2014
  • 2

Tablets A Bulk Commodity

In 2012 tablets were barely a trickle. In 2013 they took off, at least for the Android/Linux kind. Now shiploads of them are moving from factories in China to every corner of the world.“This is a pivotal year for tablets as the traditional markets leading computing and CE deployments reach a tipping point and give way to growth regions.The most mature markets, including North America, Western Europe, Japan and South Korea, are yielding to other regions, such as Latin America, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, where the connectivity infrastructure and distribution channels are coming of age.Market intelligence firm ABI Research forecasts 200 million branded tablet shipments this year—a 20% gain year-over-year from the 166 million shipments in 2013.”
You just can’t hide 200 million of the small cheap computers. They are the new PC, along with thin clients, ChromeBooks, smartphones and those dusty legacy PCs… I completely missed that. There is only one tablet in the house and I rarely use it. I thought for sure GNU/Linux would take over the legacy PC to replace that other OS. Instead the small cheap computers are replacing the legacy PC and the OS M$ ships. It’s all good.

I expect with this flood we will see more people doing the obvious and attaching keyboards and mice for “productivity” and just never replacing those legacy PCs. Wintel may well survive a bit longer but either as one of a large number of choices in the market or a solution to use until it dies on the current hardware. The last locked-in market for Wintel seems to be businesses who figure they need such and such application which only comes on that other OS. That will change pretty rapidly as there’s even choices for web applications and cloud services. The solid share that Wintel had with consumers just a couple of years ago will evaporate just as rapidly with businesses given a choice. Let’s see, what’s a business to do when the choice is eternal slavery or picking up a truckload of tablets and connecting them to a GNU/Linux server or some cloud application? Everyone knows they have choices now and many will take other choices than Wintel.

Let’s see who can paddle the fastest to escape Wintel.

SEE Branded Tablet Shipments to Reach 200 Million in 2014.

  • Mar 20 / 2014
  • 19

Licensing Matters

One of the biggest reasons I had for moving my last employter to GNU/Linux was M$’s licensing. I’m writing about XP licensing, several layers of complexity less than M$’s current BS. I needed to keep track of “stickers” and OS versions when all I wanted to do was use IT in education. Is that too much to ask? Then there was the malware. We had to put up with that and pay (blood, sweat, tears, my time) for re-imaging systems every week. The EULA? It wanted to forbid networking of our PCs without a licence for a server…

“between October 2012 and December of last year, Johnson seriously contemplated upgrading a set of Microsoft on-premises servers, including SharePoint, Lync and Exchange, and moving about 1,200 users to the newer, cloud-hosted versions in Office 365.
But after three months of research, proposals and evaluations involving Microsoft and some reseller partners, Johnson and his team didn’t feel they were presented with a clear and favorable licensing and technology plan that would have let his company achieve the goals of the upgrade. They decided to not move ahead.”
Business IT is much more complex because businesses has so many more products from M$. They are locked in tightly and the licences are truly inscrutable. The complexity of the licensing does many things:

  • it make businesses overpay, often multiple times for the same “service” (disservice)
  • it forces businesses to talk to M$ about any changes in IT which slows down and increases the cost of changes
  • it gives M$ justification to mess with businesses demanding audits and more money
  • it simply raises the costs of IT prohibitively, forcing many businesses to use antiques like XP indefinitely

On the other hand GNU/Linux is mostly covered by Free Software licences that give the users the right to run, examine, modify and even distribute the software with no fuss at all. Where’s the complexity? There is none. My work dropped from many hours per week fixing that other OS to having robust IT just keep on ticking with GNU/Linux. That must be looking pretty good to businesses now. Too bad they didn’t all migrate a decade ago when the horror of XP was introduced. It’s taken that long just to fix some of the bugs in XP and now M$ is forcing change to a new more expensive alternative. An alternative is needed and it’s Free Software, a cooperative product of the world, not of a monopolist. Go to Debian GNU/Linux or and enjoy the difference a good licence makes.

See Microsoft scrambles to simplify its convoluted business licensing.

See also, A peek into the business licensing abyss, courtesy of Microsoft. Oh! The Horror!

  • Mar 14 / 2014
  • 50

Mexico Overflowing With */Linux

A few months ago when I last wrote about Android/Linux and GNU/Linux in Mexico, they were doing well thanks to people loving small cheap computers and GNU/Linux actually having some salesmen.

That roll continues although it seems obvious that Android/Linux devices have more salesmen/shelf-space than GNU/Linux. Both made huge advances this year. Both grew 100% in share of page-views over the past year. Android/Linux has grown steadily while GNU/Linux seems to have stepped up. It’s all good. Mexicans are getting their choice of OS and choosing Free Software more often. Let the trend continue.

  • Mar 10 / 2014
  • 10

Positive Feedback: M$ Uses XP To Publish The Insecurity Of Using That Other OS

I thought it was some kind of a joke when I read the quotation to the right.“There’s the real possibility that large-scale infections of Windows XP will paint the Windows brand as insecure, fulfilling the implicit prophecy the company made late last year. To most people, Windows is Windows is Windows, with no distinction between XP and the newest, locked-down 8.1. And for those people, Windows is Microsoft because it’s the best known of the company’s software.” After all, I and many others fled to the relative security of GNU/Linux simply because of the insecurity of XP. “What reputation?”, I thought.

The flaw in my thinking, of course, is that others are in the same condition I was in when I used DOS and that other OS back in the day. I just didn’t know any better. I blamed the hardware. I blamed myself, because software I wrote didn’t crash when I clicked on something. I had to be doing something wrong because a big outfit like M$ just wouldn’s ship crapware. Would they?

That’s the point the authour makes. Even if the reputation is false/fluff, it’s what people think they have to deal with using that other OS and they think it’s OK that malware infects a PC. Well, whatever the thoughts, when the ~50K bugs that M$ created in XP and of which M$ has fixed only a tiny percentage, continue to be discovered by motivated malware-artists, knowing none will be fixed… all Heck is going to break loose in the world of XP. M$ is gambling that the Horror will drive folks to buy a new PC with a new version of that other OS but what if folks finally see the light and blame M$ for the crapware that M$ has produced?

I believe a lot will shift to GNU/Linux or Android/Linux or Chrome OS. See, while I had to do a bit of work to discover I had choice back in the day. Current users of XP know there are several choices not from M$. M$ has even been advertising Google’s Chrome OS on prime-time TV… Chuckle. This could be even bigger than I thought. The only way the effect will not appear is if the malware-artists collude to prevent XP bogging down too much, by adding a scheduler for some slice of the free time on XP machines. Nah, that won’t happen. Those guys are greedy and want it all. Besides they are rugged individuals who do their own thing. Some even think they have a backlog of malware they have been waiting to release until after M$ gets out of the picture…

See Perspective: Microsoft risks security reputation ruin by retiring XP.