Not only is Wintel feeling the pressure in price/performance for ARMed tablets running FLOSS“Ex-factory pricing of a 7-inch white-box tablet is expected to drop to between US$30-40 in 2014 and every inch larger will add US$10 to the price range, indicating that a 10-inch white-box tablet’s ex-factory price will be about US$70-80.” The lowering of prices will continue for a year or more longer. Information will be $free, nearly, in the future with Wintel no longer able to tax the roads, rails and air-waves. Intel is giving away its processors to stem the tide but Google’s dream of exposure to every human on the planet is another year closer.
What the heck got into those Ethiopians on the weekend? When we look at activity by day of week, it’s pretty wild but Sunday and Monday seem to be good days for GNU/Linux with numbers pushing 30%. Great.
See StatCounter:Top 7 Desktop OSs in Ethiopia from 1 Apr 2013 to 22 Apr 2014.
Sourceforge has been and will continue to be one of the world’s great repositories of Free Software. Project of the month is my old favourite, FreePascal. Some of the reasons for my liking it are condensed in a single question/answer between SourceForge and the original authour, Florian Klämpfl:
“SF: Who can benefit the most from your project?
FK: I think there are multiple groups who can benefit from it:
- People who want to learn only one programming language which allows them to use it for almost everything: FPC can be used to do big database applications but it can be also used to program embedded devices. It can used to write numerical applications but also to code for mobile devices.
- People who have a large Pascal/Object Pascal code base
- People who are interested in a programming language which offers a compromise between high productivity and the advantages of native code.”
Amen! I would add that FreePascal also has a very dense/sparse syntax so it is very easy to learn and use to full advantage. This also greatly increases readability.
The death of XP is an opportunity for GNU/Linux but only on the huge installed base. Folks who have XP gasping its last breath on a PC or organizations with a whole department“Unfortunately, while Linux does represent a lifeline for Windows XP users, I suspect it will be one that is not taken. The simple reality is that many of those users who are still with Windows XP simply just don’t know enough to care. Yes, I know there are lots of XP machines running cash machines that banks do care about, but there are also many machines sitting in libraries, schools and homes around the world where people simply don’t know any better.
The challenge for Linux is the same as it always has been. Linux desktop vendors need to more aggressively push the message of Linux as widely as is necessary. Linux can provide a freely available, safe option for Windows XP users, but only if the choice is clearly explained and promoted.” running XP on desktops have to make the choice to install GNU/Linux or to convert those old PCs to GNU/Linux thin clients.
The severely locked in and the ignorant will keep XP until it can no longer work for them and replace their machines with what OEMs/retailers offer. The opportunity lies with those millions of still-good machines that can browse the web, play some multi-media or check the e-mail. There, millions will have cheap desktop PCs or people will recycle the machines using GNU/Linux to make them purr. The OEMs can’t help GNU/Linux do that. There’s no money in shipping a PC back to China just to change the OS… There is lots of money to be made “fixing” PCs by installing a proper current and supported OS like Debian GNU/Linux. Go for it.
Larry Dignan is peeved with the powers that be in smartphones. “we’ve hit a plateau in smartphone innovation and we can’t count on two dominant hardware makers—Apple and Samsung—and two platforms—iOS and Android—to do everything. My patience for evolution over revolution is going to wear thin in the not-to-distant future. You can only spin Samsung’s penchant for the same Galaxy smartphone plastic design positive for so long.” He has a point. Once the big guys have succeeded they are fearful of losing customers by making changes. His advice is to shop around to see what the hungrier little guys are offering.
The big guys may need to buy a few little guys to diversify if they can’t innovate in their current bunkers. We all need to shop around and demand more features, greater reliability, and ease of use. How hard can that be on 8-core smartphones? Further, the big guys can afford to lose a little money trying out new ideas even in the dirt-cheap “entry-level” smartphones, like solar power and kinetic power generation and lower prices… How about recyclable smartphones? It’s hard to update them forever. How about swapping new phones for old? Heck, why not give them away for the ad-revenue/subscriptions they bring in? Innovate, damn it and stop suing/copying each other!
Counting Android/Linux and GNU/Linux as FLOSS operating systems and including tablets, mobile phones and legacy desktop operating systems, the picture is looking good. In about three years, FLOSS will account for ~50% of all client OS in the installed base. That other OS is on shaky ground because it takes M$ that long just to roll out their next version and there’s no telling how awful that next version will be. Of course, Apple is part of the non-Free world. They are doomed to operate in a shrinking share. It’s all good. The world is on its way to Freedom.
I am glad I have lived to see the day. Today, consumers are paying what IT costs plus a bit for the profit of designing, making, distributing, servicing and selling of the devices. Gone are the days when folks like M$ and Intel just wrote zeroes into the price, what they could get away with given the Wintel monopoly on retail shelves. Today, we wouldn’t pay $1 for a screw that costs 1₵ just because M$ or anyone else has a monopoly on screws sold retail. That’s just as silly for software and hardware as it was for Wintel personal computers.
“The average BOM cost for a white-box tablet – most of which adopted a dual-core processors – stood at about US$25 as of the fourth quarter of 2013. Dual-core processor pricing could not drop any furrther, as their average prices came to about US$4, only less than US$1 higher than that of a single-core one.”
The result is likely that billions more human beings will be able to join the human race of IT-users. That’s good for all of us as communication bridges barriers and has potential to make us all more harmonious and friendly. At the same time businesses and organizations large and small will really be able to act locally while thinking globally. This is important for individuals, education, government, business, and all the daily things we do.
I see this commoditisation of hardware also being a boon for software freedom, the licensing of software with permission to run, examine, modify and distribute software with no strings attached because it delivers software at the lowest cost through re-use, reducing duplication, and recycling software and the ideas it represents. It’s all good. This stimulates creativity everywhere in every way because the cost of entry into the software business is least and the number of users accessible to a developer is maximized.
Meg Whitman, CEO of HP, stated, “If the cloud were an independent county, it would rate number five in energy use. China is number one, the US is number two, Russia is number three, India is number four and the cloud is number five, and Japan is sixth”
She was speaking about making HP the GoTo supplier of IT for all those millions of servers that will be installed in the cloud. That’s good. It is much more efficient to have gazillions of servers more or less fully loaded and doing lots of work than having hundreds of gazillions of PCs all thinking they are super-computers and wasting much more power per tweak of information. What she didn’t say, I will.
The cost of running each PC on the planet with that other OS is twice the cost of material, energy, bulk, and human energy than using a proper OS designed from the beginning to work for users rather than for M$. Think of it. Meg Whitman has HP working on hardware to make data-transfers more efficient amongst CPU, memory and storage/network, but if you cut out M$’s crumby OS, you could cut the polishing of bits in half again because one does not need to read every file and packet multiple times to keep out malware and to please Hollywood and other “partners” of M$. Whatever it costs to run IT, wasting half of it is just foolish.
- If you don’t run that other OS, you can cut out Intel CPUs which cost twice what ARMed CPUs cost.
- If you don’t run that other OS, you can cut out having to buy a new PC every few years to handle the bloat. You can keep your PC twice as long, three times if it’s a thin client. This not only saves money but keeps the cost of material lower and saves the planet’s resources for future generations.
- If you don’t run that other OS, you can cut out hard drives, because the OS can run on the server, or be transferred to the client at boot. This is how many thin clients operate. This saves about a third of the cost of a PC and the power to run the hard drive and the cost of polishing its bits of malware.
- If you don’t run that other OS, you can cut out most of the re-re-reboots which, I figure, cost about $1 each if your time is worth money.
- If you don’t run that other OS, you can cut out waiting on all kinds of stuff while that other OS is working for M$ and partners instead of you.
Meg Whitman also said, “This computing architecture is just inefficient. Ninety percent of the energy used in computing is spent just moving data from a processor to memory to storage and back again. It’s slow and it wastes a lot of memory”. She’s got the future in her sites but we can get halfway their today by adopting FLOSS instead of that other stuff.
Run Debian GNU/Linux, an operating system created by users for users, not M$’s accountants. Use thin clients, too, so all that data can stay on the server where it belongs. There, I feel better…
The Register has yet another fine article on M$’s jerking businesses around just for permission to use the hardware they own. The article is OK:
“One of the biggest complaints from customers regarding Microsoft was the complexity of licensing, with some joking that a degree in the discipline is needed to get close to making sense of it.” but you really must read the comments by those anguished customers. Here are some examples:
- One Anonymous Coward wrote, “And this is the key issue, price. Having persuaded the management where I work 2 1/2 years ago to go onto an OVS I am now having to explain to them that actually it is now about 25% more expensive! What extra 25% value are we getting?”
- Destroy All Monsters wrote, [SARCASM ALERT] “It is absolutely justifiable to make customers pay for the faster CPUs they enjoy, because, after all, these other companies’ (i.e. Intel’s) work is not being Microsoft-taxed by default! The customer paid for hardware out of his own pocket! Without giving Microsoft a cut!! This is irresponsible, akin to refusing to pay VAT or income tax, which goes to the support of widows, children and roads. What is the world coming to when QUALITY work by Redmond is no longer appreciated and people start to dispute adequate remuneration! Microsoft could decide to just withhold its products, leaving you die slowly in the basement with an unsupported NT kernel and a festering IIS, so be grateful!” and
- another Anonymous Coward wrote, “Perhaps you’re referring to the features that simply make their own products merely usable? Or the ones that constantly raise the CPU and RAM requirements just to boot to the desktop? Or the ones that change 20-year old user interface conventions in an attempt to have a leg on the mobile/touch/tablet market? Or the ones that provide backwards compatibility at a huge cost in security? Or the ones that force users to endure non standard compliant products for the sake of “embrace, extend extinguish”? Or the ones that restrict what you can and what you can’t do with your software such as, god forbids, install it on another machine? Or the ones that restrict what you can do with your computer, such as changing its motherboard?”
The tide is working against M$ as it raises revenue not by selling performance/price but by hiding its price in bundling with hardware or complexity one way or another to fool the customer. Eventually customers catch on and there will be a backlash. I’ve seen that backlash grow from tiny shifts a decade ago to explosive rearrangements of the IT landscape. The train wreck has started and it can’t be stopped. I just hope only the guilty suffer in the result.
“The Hungarian E-Governmental Free Software Competence Centre (E-közigazgatási Szabad Szoftver Kompetencia Központ) was set up in May 2012. The staffers have been busy translating documentation and preparing practical studies. The centre’s site, for example, now lists 24 short studies, explaining free and open source software, open standards and licences…
The resource centre is working on training material. They will soon publish manuals to provide help for programming in QT, basic Linux system administration and the use of WordPress and LibreOffice.”
Well, these guys not only make documentation available in Hungarian language but they are putting on a tour of IT guys in government over the whole country. This is bound to induce migrations and green field developments using FLOSS. If only Canada were doing as much…
They have a long way to go but if you don’t take the first step in a long journey you will never arrive. Making everyone aware that FLOSS and GNU/Linux are OK is a pretty good first step. Most of the decline of that other OS has been, equally, GNU/Linux, Android/Linux and iOS. Expect government desktops as well as servers in a year or so. Seeds are being planted.
“Coming in from the cold” is cold-war era slang for secret agents retiring by coming home… GNU/Linux servers are coming home with a vengeance. Recently, IDC was reporting data on “Linux servers” and was not counting machines shipped from ODM’s to Google and others who run mostly GNU/Linux on huge numbers of servers. Thus, that other OS was reported near 50% of server revenue while GNU/Linux languished around 20%.
“ODM Direct server demand grew 45.2% year over year in 3Q13 to $783 million as unit shipments increased 30.7% to 325,685 servers. ODM Direct servers now represent 6.5% of all server revenue and 14.4% of all server shipments. 79.6% of all ODM Direct server revenue was generated in the U.S. in the quarter primarily through sales to Google, Amazon, Facebook and Rackspace.”
Ah Ha! There’s another 6.5% of revenue for GNU/Linux and 14.4% of shipments. Yes, it does help to count them, IDC… Oh, and those that were being counted keep on increasing as well…
“Linux server demand continued to be positively impacted by cloud infrastructure deployments, as hardware revenue increased at 5.6% year over year to $3.4 billion in 3Q13. Linux servers now represent 28.0% of all server revenue, up 2.5 points when compared with the third quarter of 2012.”
Further, IDC says shipments of servers with that other OS are down a bit while revenue is UP. How can that be? Oh, yes. M$ is raising prices to all those suckers in business who can’t do the maths. GNU/Linux keeps looking better to those who can do the maths.
“D&C Licensing revenue decreased $474 million or 2%, due mainly to lower revenue from licenses of Consumer Office and Windows OEM, offset in part by increased Windows Phone revenue. Consumer Office revenue declined $618 million or 15%, while Windows OEM revenue declined 10%. These decreases resulted primarily from the impact on revenue of a decline in the x86 PC market, which we estimate declined approximately 9%. Windows Phone revenue increased $1.2 billion, including an increase in patent licensing revenue and sales of Windows Phone licenses.”
See EX-99.2 of a recent 8-K filing.
Doing some maths… Total licensing revenue declined $474 million. The office suite declined $618 million. Phoney “7″ increased $1.2 billion. That means OEM licensing for the client OS decreased +$474m +$1200m -$618m = $1056m but they state OEM licensing decreased 10%. So, 2012 OEM revenue must have been around $10.56billion and 2013 OEM revenue must have been about $9.51billion. In a world shipping ~280 million legacy PCs per annum, M$ is raking in about $34 per PC on average, probably still $50 – $60 per PC that actually ships with that other OS.
When the legacy PC market is struggling for growth and PCs are being delivered to consumers down to ~$250 or so, the burden that M$ is to the market is clear. GNU/Linux or Android/Linux give OEMs a much larger margin. Sure, OEMs get a markup on the licence, but that doesn’t help if their competition is selling multiple small cheap computers for every legacy PC the OEM ships. Guess who does all the work? The OEM. M$’s not even breaking a sweat issuing permission slips to use hardware they don’t make. Despite declines, M$’s gross margin is still 90% of licensing revenue. OEMs actually make legacy PCs at a loss offset only by the margin on the licences for that other OS. OEMs are tired of being M$’s slave and are steadily decreasing the number of PCs shipping with that other OS. Instead they are producing what the market wants, small cheap computers running FLOSS. This trend is accelerating as OEMs trip over each other trying to exit. Even retailers are placing unboxed Chromebooks on shelves once cluttered with that other OS. My local Walmart doesn’t even bother to unbox desktop PCs with that other OS. They are piled up on the floor under the bottom shelf.