Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Posts Tagged / that other OS

  • Apr 13 / 2014
  • 9

Good Money After Bad

The US Internal Revenue Service is spending good money after bad on that other OS. “According to the IRS, it has approximately 110,000 Windows-powered desktops and notebooks. Of those, 52,000, or about 47%, have been upgraded to Windows 7. The remainder continue to run the aged, now retired, XP.” If it ever was a good idea to have used XP in the first place (BSODS, re-re-reboots, waves of malware…) it certainly isn’t in the best interests of the taxpayers of USA to take another step on the Wintel treadmill ensuring an infinite future sum of payments far above market cost (GNU/Linux: $0 per copy and $0 to upgrade each copy, forever). What are they thinking? That no one was ever fired for choosing M$? That M$ is essential to get PCs to do what PCs are capable of doing? Wrong on all counts.

Get with it, IRS. Brazil, Russia, China and India are way ahead of you in choosing Free Software to get the job done.

See IRS Misses XP Deadline Pays Microsoft millions for patches.

To find multiple sources of better and cheaper software, check out the more popular distributions of Free Software on I recommend Debian GNU/Linux for general desktop and server computing.

  • 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 10 / 2014
  • 10

Good News And Bad News Depending On Whether Or Not You Enslave People To Wintel

Well, the good news for me is that shipments of PCs, mostly Wintel desktops and notebooks is down 4.4% compared to last year.“Worldwide PC shipments have now declined for eight consecutive quarters as a result of shifting technology usage and competition (notably with tablets & smartphones) as well as economic pressures (including high unemployment, slow growth & investment, tight credit, and currency fluctuations) related to the Great Recession, sovereign debt crises, and their related impact on international trade” The news could have been better if more XP units were migrated to GNU/Linux or Android/Linux but it’s not clear because IDC doesn’t publicly report that division. My view is that since most legacy PCs ship with Wintel, down is a good thing. GNU/Linux is holding its own despite that decline so shipments of GNU/Linux must be up.

The bad news for me is that still too many people are locked in to Wintel and don’t see that they are being ripped off or are working hard to ignore that fact. I do notice that Wintel prices are coming down rapidly. My favourite supplier will sell motherboard and CPU (AMD) for much less than $90. A good ARMed system will trump that with more throughput and far less wasted power but it’s good that it’s available. Dell, here, in Canada, even shows the price of that other OS on Intel boxes. Unfortunately, they only sell one GNU/Linux box… It’s the token OS for Dell and that box is priced outrageously at $943 even with GNU/Linux. What are they thinking? Money grows on trees? Wintel still has a monopoly? Nope. Consumers can get better for $400. Wintel is still not even close to providing what consumers want.

Still, overall, we are seeing competition actually gain traction against Wintel. OEMs, retailers and consumers are actually seeing a major share of the market go to other platforms. Most consumers are happy with Android/Linux on ARM. Imagine how overjoyed they would be with GNU/Linux on ARM… I’m looking forward to more good news when M$ reports in a couple of weeks.

See Windows XP Migration and Commercial Spending Helped Offset Weak Consumer PC Demand in the First Quarter of 2014.

  • Apr 08 / 2014
  • 25

OEMs Aren’t Going To Replace XP With GNU/Linux. Real People Have To Do That

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.

See Death of Window XP Is a Golden Opportunity for Linux.

  • Apr 01 / 2014
  • 9
Linux in Education, technology

Death of XP Bad for Linux? Nope.

Christopher Tozzi wrote, “The sad reality is that everybody needs to run a Windows app now and then” in an article about the increasing difficulty of virtualizing that other OS on a GNU/Linux system. He’s right about the RAM/CPU/storage burdens of that other OS increasing but he’s wrong that this is bad for GNU/Linux and FLOSS.

The thing is the cost of virtualization is just one more cost of using that other OS. The world is tired of those endless costs. In 2013 we saw ARM and Android/Linux explode in popularity because the costs are so much less. On the desktop, some folks are even using Android/Linux today if they don’t need a big load of applications running simultaneously. Those of us who live in the real world may feel the need for more multiprocessing and for that GNU/Linux works well.

The death of XP means many individuals and organizations have an opportunity to think outside M$’s box. Many will spend huge amounts to remain locked up but some will escape. That’s good for FLOSS and GNU/Linux. The more the merrier.

The last desktop application I ever ran on XP was about five years ago when the school where I worked used XP. I switched that school over to GNU/Linux on more than 90% of the seats. The last time I ever used Wine to run a self-extracting .exe was a few years ago when I got a new motherboard. I just don’t need that other OS ever again. If anyone pushes me to use it, I will just say, “NO!” and really mean it.

See Why Windows XP's Demise Is Bad for Linux and Open Source.

  • 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
  • 2

Tamil Nadu State of India Pushes GNU/Linux To Replace XP

It’s coated in bureaucratese but when the boss suggests installing the boss, some employess might just do that…“the Tamil Nadu government has advised all its departments to install free open source software BOSS Linux” This suggestion was made as early as 2011 but it had little traction. The imminent demise of XP might focus the right minds on the matter…

Read the latest letter for your self. I have a hard time parsing “mandatory” and “suggested” on the same piece of paper. Isn’t that like a spark in a powder-keg?

See TN state departments asked to switch over to open source software.

See also the original letter of 2011

  • Mar 28 / 2014
  • 0

South Tyrol: You Can Be Fired For Using That Other OS

It used to be said that “no one was ever fired” for using that other OS, but that’s no longer true.“The new policy is meant to reduce IT costs. Should this fail, the region must resort to reduce its workforce, in order to balance the region’s budget. A second motivation is to strengthen the ICT companies in the region. "We are of course eager to promote the local IT sector. Our aim is to find areas and niches that can be covered by local IT enterprises with free and open source solutions. We are emphasising areas where we, as a regional administration, have special skills above and beyond IT."” The government of South Tyrol (a region of northern Italy), wanting to cut spending on non-Free software licences instead of positions, is “recommending” FLOSS. Good for them. No government owes M$ a living. No government should ever “agree” to M$ fiddling with their IT. No government should ever agree with arbitrary restrictions on software like not examining or copying it. FLOSS is the right way to do IT. South Tyrol recommends the whole European Community use FLOSS and open standards.

See South Tyrol governor: 'EC, use open formats'.

  • 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 22 / 2014
  • 7

Huge Swath Of XP Machines May Go To */Linux

The imminent demise of XP has many thinking, even businesses like banks. “ATM operators would like to be able to synchronize their hardware and software upgrade cycles. But that’s hard to do with Microsoft dictating the software upgrade timetable. As a result, "some are looking at the possibility of using a non-Microsoft operating system to synch up their hardware and software upgrades,"” These guys have thousands of machines depending on M$ for software and M$ is about to pull the rug out from under them. The costs they face are much more than software licences. Their hardware might work with “7″ or “8″ but if the machine’s not at end-of-life, they don’t want the software to be at end-of-life. They want to replace hardware much less often than M$ whereas */Linux doesn’t care. It’s Free Software. They can run it, examine it, modify and distribute on their schedules, not M$’s.

See ATM operators eye Linux as alternative to Windows XP.

See also 95% of bank ATMs face end of security support

  • 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!