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Archive for the ‘O/S’ Category

Combining Mac, Linux, and Windows in One Video

SOME time ago I linked to a screenshot showcasting Boot Camp. This involved Mac OS X, Ubuntu Linux, and Windows running simultaneously. There now exists a public video, which illustrates this rather exciting experience. Well, it is exciting to folks like me…

[Video omitted one week later]

This shows nothing unprecedented or novel, but it can be pleasant to watch if you fancy operating systems.

The last time I embedded an off-site video, this led to trouble and invalidated the markup. Let us hope for better luck this time around.

The 90 Percent Barriers

Bill Gates
Bill Gates arrested in his younger days (photo in public domain)

MICROSOFT have managed, over the course of many years, to sustain over 90% market share on the desktop. It is a figure that is easy to defend and argue in favour of given an unknown and uncountable number of Linux installations. Dropping below 90%, unlike what many would state or even insist on, is harder than getting there, but much is about momentum, as well as ethics. Allow me to explain why, primarily using an analogy.

Windows has deliberate lockins, so its popularity punishes those who attempt to change and ‘dance’ between applications or platforms. They get discriminated against, due to planned strategies that attain this state. That used to be the case with Internet Explorer once it elbowed Netscape, mainly by means of corruption and corporate aggression. Internet Explorer was adverse to standards and its source was kept in a safe as to avoid inter-operation with browsers on other platforms. At that stage, with inarguable domination in the browser market (well over 90%) — that which was seized through monopoly in the operating systems market — ‘defection’ became hard. This exemplifies the dangers of a totalitarian prevance of a browser that is extending itself unilaterally. The World Wide Web played along ‘to its tune’, which was not agreed upon universally. Later came Web standards.

Mozilla Firefox, quite fortunately, made a Netscape comeback and took away that ‘glimmer’ from Internet Explorer. Web developers can no longer discriminate against other, non-Microsoft browsers. Returning to topic: Once Linux pushes the Windows market share below a particular point, hardware vendors and software makers will simply have to support all platforms (if not lean towards Open Source development models altogether). They will no longer blindly make Windows a pre-requisite. We are now approaching that tipping point as Wi-Fi vendors begin to collaborate with Linux and it will soon be included in the kernel level. This is only one example among many others.

Related items: Web Browsers Statistics (2004), Firefox Eats Internet Explorer (2006)

My Sister and Microsoft

OEVR the past few years I have grown closer to my older sister. We have always gotten along just fine. She is a wonderful person, yet sometimes ideaology gets in the way. Allow me to elaborate if I may.

We are both computer scientists, but she insists on using Windows. She has never tried anything else and her job involved programming for that platform. This observation was the next worse thing to me realising that had gone to interviews at Microsoft. She did that once several years back and once again more recently. If she worked for the ‘dark forces’, that could possibly lead to tension between us. I sure hope that the prospective employer and recruiters ‘Googled’ (or MSN’d) her name to discover she comes from a ‘wrong neighbourhood’. Her brother is a stubborn Linux advocate, though it may be irrelevant altogether.

Childhood photos with family
Bottom-right, from left to right: Me, my father and my sister in our younger days (click for full-sized version but beware: 1.3 MB JPEG)

Software Discrimination

Bill Gates

MERELY everyone has come across corrective discrimination wherein gender/race quotas are specified, and in turn promote diversity. We should be taking similar principles to diversify computing. This would be an intersting experiment, from which all would benefit. The move has an increasingly-justified place in the avoidance of software monoculture, which must no longer be accepted or even accommodated.

The results of an operating system monocolture leads to a discriminative cycle. Non-Windows users often get punished in terms of service. This must be reversed using litigious powers, much like the observation that people with special dietary requirement (e.g. vegetarians) get served first. How does one change the law? By staging a positive showcase for his/her arcane platform.

OpenOffice and Microsoft Office Comparison

Microsoft Word
A screenshot of Word (Office 12) with copied graphical themes highlighted

OPENOFFICE 2 was officially released a few months ago. Microsoft Office 12 will probably be out in the near future and it imitates much of the Mac OS X look, for which it has been criticised. See the above image if persuasion is needed that the contention is true.

Around the release time of OpenOffice, a particular controversial article made the rounds. It described OpenOffice as slow and inferior. Comparisons involving Microsoft Office and OpenOffice were only conducted under Windows, for it seems the only possible platform for benchmarks of this nature. However, it is a ‘home and away’ situation.

Windows is optimised to run Microsoft Office. It keeps many common objects in memory, for which there is a noticeable cost. On the other hand, OpenOffice ‘feels’ most comfortable in its origins: Open Source environments. The Windows OpenOffice version could be treated as merely a secondary port. Moreover, someone claimed that the OpenOffice build which was used in this comparison had been compiled with debugging ‘bits’ which accommodated for bug reports. It was not the final product, but merely a candidate with a practical purpose that entailed improvements.

Judging and comparing office productivity tools on Windows is unfair and grossly biased. It is like assessing the performance of a football team based only on its home games. This is not the first time that biased studies are conducted. Web servers, legacy hardware, and security are a few more examples. There was recently a big controversy over a study which counted security flaws, but compared Windows against many dozens of different Open Source platforms and applications like Apache and Firefox. The miserably-delivered figures were very deceiving, almost intentionally so. Flaws count was aggregated from just about any distribution or derivative of UNIX and then compared against the corresponding number from Windows.

Open Source Abundance

Xinerama
Linux desktop – picture from kde-look.org; click to browse the source

OPEN Source is renowned for many reasons, but (monetary) abundance is barely one of them. Abundance, however, due to the factor of cost, can often be perceived in a different way. Many software options are available , even all at once, because licences have a different meaning under ideologies like the GPL.

Practical example: I have about 9 installations on this domain which involve a database and are absolutely free. Also, there are at least 3 statistics packages that cater for monitoring. All of these are free. That freedom gives a sense of eternal ownership — the everlasting affordability and the freedom to modify at will.

The World Wide Web offers many other free applications, either as Web-based services or downloads without restrictions. To take an opposite example, Photoshop requires licences for a desktop installation. Being a desktop-side example, the deficiencies that cross one’s mind is the need to perpetually renew licences and, the lack of portability, and growth that indeed entails a considerable cost.

I was somewhat amused when a fellow Webmaster, who had opted for Windows hosting, came to discovers that statistics must be paid for as a separate commercial package. This come to demonstrate what a role cost truly plays. One has to pay extra just to be able to understand what happens on his/her own Web site.

Often you may find yourself confessing: “Yes, shared hosting on a Linux or Windows server might seem equal in terms of initial cost”. However, When basic extensions and growth come to mind, as well as the possibility of large operating licences and dedicated servers, it become apparent why Windows will struggle to compete. Only the false perception that brands and costly products are best bar none can perpetuate a myth. Heavily-invested-in lies support this myth.

Google Create a Windows Distribution

Google on a computer screen

Google software gets heavily bundled to Windows

MANY of us were wondering if a Linux distribution would ever come from Google. Google are of course using Linux in house and are dependent on Open Source projects. Unsurprisingly, having accumulated many programs that run on Windows only, they have just assembled a distribution that includes Acrobat Reader, Mozilla Firefox, security software and a large variety of Google software.

So we created the Google Pack — a one-stop software package that helps you discover, install, and maintain a wide range of essential PC programs. It’s yours today – and it’s something we hope you find to be painless, easy, and even fun (if computer setup can ever be called that). And it’s free.

This will by all means have an impact on many workstations. It can give a boost to a variety of Google application and their close ally Firefox is included. The bundling of Firefox is indirectly related to Dell’s distribution in the United Kingdom.

Notice the hypocrisy in this item however:

 
This was the experience (Windows installation) both Sergey and Larry had a year ago…
 

Both Larry and Sergei are Open Source advocates and most likely Linux users too. I guess this did not fit contextually and it conflicts completely with previous rumours about a Google PC that runs the Linux kernel.

Editorial: Editor’s Note: Google May Hold Big Key to Desktop Linux or “Why Google should port their applications to Linux”.

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Original styles created by Ian Main (all acknowledgements) • PHP scripts and styles later modified by Roy Schestowitz • Help yourself to a GPL'd copy
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