Thursday, November 26, 2009

Google Chrome OS: Cloud Computing's First Salvo

    Google Chrome OS is a unique operating system.  Hardware wise it compels us to use solid state drives SSD's to catch up with the fast boot up and application speed required by the software.  It doesn't have applications stored locally, instead all applications are going to come from the web.  Hence, cloud computing.

    Google Chrome OS assumes resilient connection to the web.  It assumes always on, always connected machines to the web.  The bandwidth speed of internet connections are going to be a factor in the success of this proposition.  May I say that there's a lot of assumptions there.

    Google Chrome OS is doing the right thing but will it succeed.  When I say the "right thing" I mean this is what the future of computing "should" be.  Services are stored and maintained in dedicated servers for all who want to use them.  All that a user has to have is a device that connects to the web.  If (or when) cloud computing succeeds it will render desktop operating systems obsolete.  Cloud computing will bring back the days of the computer as an appliance.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Big Three

    It is bewildering for linux newcomers.  The number of linux distributions or distros will make the head of ordinary mortals spin.  People in various linux fora ask which distro they should try first.  The answer will depend on who you're asking.  Linux users have their own pet distros, their own personal experience with a particular flavor of linux.  If you are starting your journey in the land of Linux and open source operating systems, I would advice that you consider the big three in the world of linux namely:  Ubuntu, Fedora and OpenSuse.

    Ubuntu is based on Debian.  It is currently the most popular linux distro out there resulting in a big community of users and developers.  Although Ubuntu is a community distro it is backed by a private company, Canonical.  It comes out with a brand new release every 6 months. 

    Fedora is a community distribution backed by Red Hat, a Fortune 500 company but is also an open source entity.  It also releases a new version every 6 months.  Most Linux bloggers agree that Fedora is one of the bleeding edge distro available free for download. 

    OpenSuse is a free linux distro backed by Novell.  Novell is another open source company offering support subscriptions on their software. 

    All three offer customer or end user support through the forum.  All three have extensive documentations for every release.  All three have proven track records that they can deliver a consistent and regular release as promised.  All three companies that backs these distros abide by open source rules of free and open software. 

    I have all three installed in my machines at home and though I am using Ubuntu as my everyday distro, my user experience with all of them have been positive. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I Miss Windows, Yeah Right

    Security experts are warning computer users about the rise in the number of compromised sites redirecting to a scareware website.  When I was using Internet Explorer back in my Windows XP days, my encounter with websites warning me that my computer is compromised occurs almost daily.  These websites offer anti-virus solutions if you click a link.  Once you do that, the least of your worry would be a virus laden pc.

    It's not just this category of security problems that harass Windows users in a daily basis.  To think that 90% of computers in the world use a Microsoft operating system, makes you wonder how much would end users tolerate until their patience break.  Is Windows and its siblings so great an operating system that people are willing to put up with their pc problems?     What about the high ratio of maintenance time?  Instead of doing my work and accomplishing what computers are suppose to do, I had to run defrag.  I had to run my anti-virus software.  Conservatively, I was spending 40-45 percent of my computing time in doing administrative jobs rather than finishing research or writing that book I bought the laptop for.

    The security software industry is a billion dollar business built on the design mistakes of Windows.  This figure only includes the legitimate entities offering real solutions and does not include the scams and the scarewares.  If this is any other product it would be buried six feet under the ground.

    Instead I will hear people ask if there are any alternatives.  The answer to that is a big yes.  The most notable is Apple's OS X.  I happen to be a Linux user and a believer in free and open software.  I give you Linux as a noteworthy challenger to Windows in the desktop.  I am using Ubuntu Linux since 2006.  Me? Miss Windows?  Yeah, right.

Upgrading to Grub 2

    I upgraded to Grub 2.  This is the new version of the Grand Unified Bootloader used by Linux to load the kernel.  Many users especially the newcomers, don't know that after you turn your pc power on a series of events happens before you see your desktop.  First your bios starts, then the bootloader, the bootloader executes the kernel, the kernel loads the init scripts, runs daemons and finally starts X windows. 

    The main difference between a Windows boot and a Linux boot is Grub.  Grub makes it possible to multi-boot.  I believe that next to the os, the bootloader is the next most important software. 

    I opened the gnome-terminal and typed:  sudo apt-get install grub2.  I gave my sudo password and the package manager took care of everything.  During configuration, it warned me that installing grub2 elsewhere but in the MBR is a bad idea.  I know but I'm just too lazy.  I just have to remember not to delete the partition where grub2 resides. 

    I'm looking forward to editing the config file for grub 2 then. 

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Will Microsoft Surrender the Netbook Market to Linux?

    Netbooks are not a craze.  In 2008, pc sales is boosted by sales of netbooks.  Netbooks are small sized laptops, with less computing power and therefore are limited to email and browsing.  But remember the adage:  Make a machine that does one thing well.

    Microsoft has a problem with Windows 7.  They can only install a crippled version of Windows 7 on these underpowered laptops.  Once consumers learn that the netbook version of Windows 7 is not like the full version of Windows 7 for desktops, they'll raise hell. 

    Microsoft will do the one thing it does well-marketing.  Sell you the deal.  Perhaps give you discounts.  It will have no choice but to lower prices for Windows 7. 

    Linux, on the other hand, is perfect for old computers and limited capacity machines.  Linux runs on thin client machines.  All supercomputers in the world are run by Linux, well maybe 99%.  Linux has proven its scalability. 

    Linux is free and open source.  It will not impact vendors if they deploy Linux pre-installed with their machines. 

    The last time I check the numbers are 38% Linux and 62% Windows on netbooks.  This figure is based on US sales only. 

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Free Software and Technology

        Free software is code that is not encumbered by copyright or intellectual property rights.  From the point of view of its creator, it is something he offers to the community without guarantee, for the community to use and to improve on.  From the point of view of the community, it is free for use and for modification. 

        It is indeed arguable that free software is superior to proprietary software.  However the model being used by proprietary software leads to impractical situations.  If I have a copy machine using a non-free code,  I won't be able to modify the code to better suit my particular need.  I would have to buy another one for this one utility and use the former for the rest, increasing my cost.  If I happen to be a programmer I still can't modify the code because somebody else owns the copyright.  If the non-free code is failing/showing a bug and I happen to be a programmer I cannot just modify the code, again because of copyright.

        Proprietary software is essentially a monopoly that is anti-progress and so impractical when applied to the software world.  It is a yoke carried by all non-free software users.  Now I don't believe that there is a direct correlation on quality and free software.  What I do suggest is that the free open source model is better at delivering technology to solve our problems.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What Made You Ditch Windows?

      This link is an open thread in Facebook @ Ubuntu. 

        My personal impression after reading the multi page thread is that most people who posted their reason for not using Windows is Microsoft.  They do not want to spend so much money for a product that does not satisfy their needs anymore.  They don't want to be in a situation where they are restricted to use their computers. 

        In this tough times, people are searching for ways to cut costs and still be able to connect to their loved ones, do their jobs at home and do stuff online. 

        Ubuntu and Linux developers have worked hard to improve several distributions of linux to the level that they can offer them as alternatives to Microsoft's wares.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What Ubuntu 9.10 Means

      The coming of Ubuntu is certainly a no-brainer. Easy to install. Easy to upgrade. Upgrades every 6 months like clockwork. Basic version of the operating system includes photo viewer, office suite, email client, calendar and organizer, image editor, firefox browser and an instant messaging client.

      It comes free. We shall see if this is positive or a negative aspect of selling a fine product to the world. So far most users have it installed in a dual boot configuration or in a virtual box environment. So easy to discard if it doesn't meet user expectations. Users just go back to Windows or OS X. Nothing lost except time.

      What Ubuntu really wants is to prove to business users that open source works. Of course Mozilla has proven that already. It's market share is increasing in the browser category. Ubuntu wants to sell the product to business users. Business users are the slowest to adopt a new operating system. They know that upgrades can impact their bottom line in costs. Ubuntu has to move into the enterprise. Business users don't just adopt things, nor do they just discard things. Red Hat, another open source company, is making a profit in the open source world by selling subscriptions to support services to their linux distribution. Red Hat just made it to the Fortune 500 list this year.

      Canonical, the financial backer of Ubuntu, and IBM joined in partnership to offer business a product package that includes Ubuntu and Lotus Notes. This includes support for businesses who will use Ubuntu and Lotus Notes in the business environment. Business users are paying customers. More importantly, these customers don't take any changes lightly.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Desktop +3 Days

      After installing the basic OS on a new partition, I started Synaptic to read the file listing the programs to be downloaded additionally.  I found a nice wallpaper coming from the Karmic graphics folders.

       I was watching 'Bourne Ultimatum' when I snapped this desktop image.  My leap just landed me on an upgraded OS in one piece.

Update Gnucash 2.6.16 --> 2.6.18

It's a long road to this update. It isn't a normal update at all. I had to manually compile goffice0.8 and webkitgtk as well as gnu...