The Only Good Thing About Wintel These Days…

One of the terrible things about Wintel is that businesses feel pressured to “upgrade” their PCs and licences for Wintel every few years.
"We can do this again in the future, since we have to upgrade our computers every three to four years."
see Open source to run on PCs donated by Italian bank and France's La Poste.

This has one good effect, a huge supply of older PCs at decent prices and with a long life ahead of them. These are perfect for schools, minus that other OS , it’s EULA, malware, re-re-reboots and slowing down. Of course one can re-re-reinstall that other OS to keep it going but many businesses don’t want to mess with it. Hence, the donations, possibly with a deduction for taxation…

Schools in Canada have long had the option of getting PCs from Computers For Schools, recycled from governments and businesses, but with the burden of a shiny new copy of that other OS… The right way to do this is to pave it over with GNU/Linux before it spreads. I did that to 52 machines the last place I worked. They became snappy and trouble-free as a result.

Hmmm… I just noticed this on the central CFS page:
Windows7_not_required

I sent them this feedback. They promised to respond within 24h…
“I read the evaluation posted at http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/ae-ve.nsf/eng/h_03511.html

I am retired but for many years I was a computer teacher and used CFS machines a lot. The programme is wonderful but deficient in one major aspect, preparing youth to thrive in an IT-intensive environment. The programme supplies schools with PCs equipped with Windows XP and optionally, Windows 7. XP is deprecated. Windows 7 is still plagued with malware and vulnerabilities, high costs and low performance. In the real world, the Wintel monopoly is not the only game in town.

It would be very useful if CFS provided other operating systems such as GNU/Linux or Android/Linux so that students will have formal training and experience in newer technology. */Linux operating systems shipped on far more computers than Windows last year. Android/Linux is everywhere on smartphones and tablets. GNU/Linux is widely used by governments and schools for exactly this purpose. GNU/Linux does not suffer the malware attacks that plague schools. I have seen thousands of instances of Windows malware but never seen any malware on hundreds of GNU/Linux PCs I have set up in schools. Further, GNU/Linux is completely configurable and can run very snappily even on PCs too old/slow to run any version of Windows. GNU/Linux is also great at networking a lab, a cluster or a whole schools. Because the licence allows copying, students can actually learn to install the OS and take copies home. It’s the perfect solution to training youth in IT.

We should be preparing students for the future, not preparing them to preserve the monopoly of a convicted monopolist. It is unethical to allow a drug dealer to operate on school grounds. So should it be unethical to allow Microsoft to enslave the youth of Canada.

The last place I worked, I was giving a class in unboxing PCs and setting them up. A student responded to the performance of a brand new dual-core 64bit PC with a 512MB hard drive with “It’s so slow!” with attendant facial emphasis. She was used to working with GNU/Linux used on 8 year old PCs running as thin clients of a 4 year old GNU/Linux terminal server. On the old machines she could log in in 5 seconds and open the biggest application windows in 2s. I taught her and her classmates how to install GNU/Linux in 20 minutes. Every students in the class repeated the installation three times to gain confidence. Don’t we want all students to be able to see the difference between the standard fare found on retail shelves and a proper multi-user networked OS used by a hundred of million people around the world.

For more information on GNU/Linux see http://www.debian.org/

To see how European governments are using Free Software such as GNU/Linux see https://joinup.ec.europa.eu/news/all

An example of GNU/Linux in use is this video from YouTube made in 2005 showing children using obsolete laptops as thin clients of a GNU/Linux terminal server:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDvqw-I2sjw”

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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14 Responses to The Only Good Thing About Wintel These Days…

  1. oiaohm says:

    bw kde developers will keep on releasing there own tablets and phones.

    So Linux is moving past recycling existing hardware to having hardware built for it.

  2. oiaohm says:

    http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/gadgetbox/windows-8-adoption-rate-reportedly-worse-vista-1C7800805
    bw are we still in recession????

    This is the problem most of MS woes have nothing todo with recession. They releases vista end users hated. End users really did not trust 7.

    Now they hate 8 even more.

    Recession is a smoke screen for Microsoft.

    bw the core libraries of windows are also stone aged compare to modern tastes.

    I still remember when just for a test kde was placed infront of users when Window 7 was in beta. People were asked to vote for the interface they liked. KDE won.

    bw modern tastes KDE is most likely in better aligning than Microsoft. Problem is KDE is not doing full top to bottom yet.

    bw android does contain some GNU parts. Like it is native code complier for one.

    Key foundation parts still come from GNU. Lot of programs in android use hybris. https://github.com/stskeeps/libhybris so they can use the older libraries.

    bw so gnu stuff might not be in your face with Android but it still there.

    bw even kde really does not minic windows. Most of the Linux minic is minic apple. Go look closely at Ubuntu Unity. It even has memu bar placed at top of screen like Apple.

    Linux interfaces mimic Apple and historic Unix interfaces. Windows also starts out minic X11 style interfaces in Windows 3.11 and before including the minmised on screen being a icon on screen(this is X11 first stunt). What Unix calls a pager is the taskbar Unix had many different forms include bars some of those bars had menus on one conner. Pulls in some apple in Windows 9x as well like the recycle bin. Pulls in more Apple with Vista desktop effects.

    Yes Linux and Windows look related but its a case we are coping from the same parties bw.

    Both are Windows and Linux interfaces are a mix of stuff from all over the place. If you use KDE, Gnome or Unity for a while then go and use Apple and Microsoft the closest fell to the Linux interfaces is Apple.

    –When and if the end comes, though, it will be to the new phone/tablet paradigm and what is Linux today will be much different, if it exists, as well.–
    I would not say so. http://plasma-active.org/

    Linux is a very diverse beast. KDE and Gnome has special branches of it self for phone/tablet but these use there normal tookits of QT and GTK. This was started years ago since the writing on the wall over tablets has been here that long bw.

    Even gnome 3 from 2011 has a specialist tablet version.

    Big thing bw Gnome and kde extended there existing toolkits to support tablets and phones. So porting existing applications is not reinvent everything.

    Current issues is X11 taint.

    KDE and Gnome are recycling there libraries for html5 provide as well.

    bw I guess you were not aware that Linux mainstream has tablet forms. Issue was not having the software its been having the compatible hardware to put it on.

  3. bw says:

    “Google could just as well based Android on GNU”

    Not if they wanted it to ever be adopted by the non-Apple OEMs. The GNU stuff, as far as I can tell, is stone age compared to modern tastes.

  4. bw wrote, “If Linux is the winner, it will still be called Android by then. GNU will go out of any existence, if it really has any now.”

    Google could just as well based Android on GNU. Lots of OEMs are shipping GNU/Linux and the growth is huge compared to the fall in shipments of Wintel.

    One of the few hot spots for Wintel PCs in the world was Vietnam which had 3.4% growth. That’s better than bank-interest rates but sick for a tech company. Meanwhile Android/Linux enjoyed >100% growth.

  5. bw says:

    “The chickens will come home to roost eventually”

    That is certainly true, given a free reign for defining “eventually”. How many years have you had that opinion? What is your personal range for “eventually”?

    DOS and Windows became the standard face of personal computing, I think, because people in general do not have much understanding of what is under the hood of a computer and so they cling to the rote methods that they have learned over years of use. It looks to me like the helter-skelter presentations of Linux GUIs over the years have themselves come to mimic Windows in order to have any chance at all in appealing to ordinary consumers.

    That has not been anywhere near enough, though, and retailers are loath to even try to change such massive public expectations in the PC product, particularly for so little effect on price points. As people become more and more oriented towards self-explanatory and full screen presentations as they see on smart phones and tablets, I think this effect will gradually disappear and non-traditional Windows PCs will become common.

    I think that Microsoft sees that same thing happening and that is the impetus behind Windows 8 and the Metro style displays where they are trying to set a new standard of what people expect to see with a full screen app. I think that would be a very hard thing to do and I doubt that the probability is very high that they will succeed.

    Meanwhile, I think that Windows look and feel will control what is purchased for a good while yet. When and if the end comes, though, it will be to the new phone/tablet paradigm and what is Linux today will be much different, if it exists, as well.

    If Linux is the winner, it will still be called Android by then. GNU will go out of any existence, if it really has any now.

  6. oiaohm wrote, “Reason OEM’s have to buy stock in advance.”

    Not only that, M$ gets to defer revenue for about two years from when they receive it, so the revenue they are showing in the reign of “8” is actually for “7”. The chickens will come home to roost eventually. They’ve had about two years of sluggish sales of legacy PCs now.

  7. oiaohm says:

    bw
    –Sales of Windows client and server remains massive, in the tens of billions of dollars annually.–

    We don’t know if that is the case. We know from Vista flop there is about 12 to 48 month lag in sales failure and Microsoft Numbers reflecting it.

    Reason OEM’s have to buy stock in advance.

  8. bw wrote, “I do not see any sort of chaos with Windows, either with my personal equipment or my office stuff. Sales of Windows client and server remains massive, in the tens of billions of dollars annually. That is a couple of ordera of magnitude more than the aggregate of all Linux sales.”

    Let’s see: US-Cert “Windows” 72K hits “Linux” 26K
    Would you drive a car that cost 3 times as much for worse performance?

    On Patch Tuesday, the whole world learns of the vulnerabilities in that other OS and gets hours or days to attack your vulnerable systems. How does that make you feel?

    The sales of client licences is inadvertent by the consumer. They have no choice.

    Sales of Wintel machines are way down:
    OEMs estimate global unit sales will be down 15% in 2013.

    Meanwhile Android/Linux and GNU/Linux continue to grow rapidly in share. To ignore that is silly.

  9. bw says:

    “I wonder if bw knows what he’s writing about.”

    All I can speak of is what is surrounding me and that I do not see any sort of chaos with Windows, either with my personal equipment or my office stuff. Sales of Windows client and server remains massive, in the tens of billions of dollars annually. That is a couple of ordera of magnitude more than the aggregate of all Linux sales. Call that a sign of Microsoft’s impending demise if you wish, but that situation has existed for a number of years and nothing has really changed.

  10. Conzo says:

    Somewhere in CFS Central, some people are laughing their asses off.

    Somewhere esle in CFS Central, some other people have the hopeless task of composing some kind of polite reply within 24h …

  11. bw wrote, “that is plain from the lack of interest in migrating away from Windows.”

    Hmmm…

    Servers: System admins for GNU/Linux are in great demand. Clouds are going to FLOSS.

    Clients: Whole governments and school systems are migrating to GNU/Linux. All OEMs now ship GNU/Linux on desktops/notebooks. Sales of tablets and smartphones using */Linux are up while sales of that other OS on PCs are down…

    I wonder if bw knows what he’s writing about.

  12. oiaohm says:

    bw reinstall and reinstall and reinstall is still common in school networks. Ghost copies and all the hell that can bring. Its simpler to use ghost copies with windows than depend on your software to deploy dependently.

    Business not so much. Business has always been not so much. Business have got into the habit of just buying new machines every 3 to 4 years. Due to money being tight they are looking at extending that out.

    Price of machines man hours cost more to to a clean reinstall properly than it does to replace the machine.

    Yes this will get worse when the price gets pushed down to 200 dollars for a desktop machine without monitor.

    Windows is not the most effective. Old machines need full ram and harddrive checks before they are sent out for usage again or they are going to be major problems. 500 is about 24 hours of work time before you start spending more than it worth if you need no parts and all of them pass. At 500 dollars you can say you have 8 hours to refurbish. Few hours are lost in diagnostics and time is lost in installing the software.

    At 200 dollars it becomes a real problem. So 8 hours Max or 2 hours to refurbish. You have to allow that only 1/4 of old machines will most likely pass to be reused. Also out of that time has to come any of the breakdowns after testing.

    For a business is fairly much not cost effective unless they are turning them into disc-less clients past 5 years old.

    bw the refurbish cost is not improving. Lower the price of new PC the harder it is to refurbish. So result is more junk to dispose of if an OS fails.

  13. bw says:

    “Of course one can re-re-reinstall that other OS to keep it going but many businesses don’t want to mess with it.”

    You are living in the distant past, in my opinion. Do you really think that this is a common occurrence with Windows computers today? It is not and that is plain from the lack of interest in migrating away from Windows.

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