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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”.

IBM Said to Challenge Microsoft the Most

Bill Gates
Not much to worry Bill Gates

ACCORDING to Reuters, Bill Gates states [enormous ASPURL‘] that IBM is the main rival to Microsoft. Google are Apple are said to be smaller factors of concern, which lies in contrary to some fairly recent memo and even a few urgent strategic moves.

IBM studies show that Linux TCO is 40% lower than that of the Windows equivalent. What happens when IBM begin to pull out the Windows equipment from their clients’ operations environment?

What I find most admirable about IBM is that, unlike Google and Microsoft, they give no compelling reason to be hated. They embrace and encourage standards. They cater for diversity where it seems suitable.

Java Runtime Environment/Desktop

Open officeThe pact which involves Google and Sun Microsystems arouses my curiosity, particularly due to recent speculation about the Google PC and its vocation. It is no secret that Java is having tremendous impact. Nowadays, Firefox incorporates almost everything one needs, either as a joint plug-in that resides next to core, or as Web-based software, which is accessible via Web sites. Such sites are interpretable using Gecko (the rendered) or various other plus-ins for Flash, videos and the likes of them.

It is all about extensions, it seems — merely JRE applications embedded as panes in Firefox, which makes them well-integrated like the centre of all. Thunderbird does likewise and so can OpenOffice. The main implication is gaps being bridges. No more platform dependencies and filesharing protocols. Firefox makes everything transparent, or so one might assume (albeit you never know for sure with today’s Windows-only Firefox/Thunderbird themes and plug-ins).

For those who haven not heard/read yet, Firefox will soon have P2P file sharing incorporated as a plug-in. Rumours about this add-on have been circulating around the Internet for several weeks, if not even longer. There is even a screenshot. All of this commotion could attract a huge number of users from an already troubled Internet Explorer and, as browsers are used by all, this would push copyrights infringement to very worrisome levels.

Update (05/01/2006): Google renounce low-margin PC speculations

Windows Munchkins

Money on keyboard

The use of money to skew real facts and lure customers

LINUX forums (including newsgroups) often encounter harassment by trolls that spread anti-Linux FUD. This puts off a few participants and adds noise to discussions that are largely Linux-oriented.

There is often a suspicion arising that this community sabotage ‘bubbles up’ to managerial roots. Some would suggest that disruptive involvement by trolls is actually paid for. Past evidence supports such suspicions and is echoed in this blog item which quotes John Dvorak.

“Some years back, Microsoft practiced a lot of dirty tricks using online mavens to go into forums and create Web sites extolling the virtues of Windows over OS/2. They were dubbed the Microsoft Munchkins, and it was obvious who they were and what they were up to. But their numbers and energy (and they way they joined forces with nonaligned dummies who liked to pile on) proved too much for IBM marketers, and Windows won the operating-system war through fifth-column tactics”

Mr Dvorak wonders if Microsoft is today using reverse-dirty-tricks to promote the Xbox 360: pay people to create Web sites that slam the gaming computer in order to provoke a barrage of defenders.

Last week I went to watch King Kong. There were no less than 3 Xbox 360 commercials before the film commenced. Microsoft sure know how to spend money. It is worth mentioning that Xbox 360 units are sold at a cost which accounts for a significant loss. Regardless, the Xbox fails to sell in Japan, despite the heavily-invested-in commotion.

Related item: Xbox 360 Off to a Slow Start in Japan, Microsoft-funded Benchmarks

Web-Based References Manger

Book scanning

SEVERAL days ago, in the context of ‘housekeeping’ computer chores, I stressed the need to manage paper references in an appropriate application. At the time I mentioned JabRef, which is a Java references management program. I have had JabRef installed for quite a while, but did not bother to accommodate it with data.

Knowing the limitation of workstation-bound software, I decided to go ‘shopping’ for a Web-based alternative. I have many such applications installed on my Webspace, so I know their powers. I also know that I can take advantage of remote access, but it can be slow (especially while on vacation), cumbersome, and only loosely inter-operable. JabRef is cross-platform, but installation on each desktop is still a requirement, which is less than desirable.

My pursuit for a Web-based program was very fruitful. I found only one application of the type I had sought. Freshmeat (which is suitable to vegetarians too!) had me aware of PHPBibMan (PHP Bibliography Manager). Here is my own description of PHPBibMan. It is based on what I have been able to gather after a few minutes of exploration:

  • Open Source
  • Free, apparently GPL
  • Rich graphical interface
  • Multiple users, multiple groups
  • BibTeX import and BibTeX output (albeit import is not very reliable)
  • High level of complexity (over 500 files), plenty of functionality

PHPBibMan is finally installed on my site alongside similar applications, the latest of which is for spreadsheets. So far I like what I see, but the documentation (installation instructions in particular) are poor. There is plenty of potential for PHPBibMan, but merely nonexistent documentation had me digging the files and experimenting before actual success. The projects looks as thought it ceases to be actively maintained last year.

Operating System Monoculture

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

OOW can Microsoft ever permit the existence of something interoperable? To a company so aggressive, interoperability is the very face of evil. It is a threat. What it comes down to is the equivalent of a destructive competition, which is counter-productive to humanity. It portrays the core danger of monopolies, whose power and scale can deter any resistance attempts. It embodies the scenario where people take risks only to avoid what is adverse to ideaology — steering away from the ‘norm’. Windows has become a norm. Its avoidance symbolises a state of social outcasting, at least in people’s perception.

Whether it was Java, or C, or even OpenGL, such technologies had to be ‘extinguished’, at least in accordance with Microsoft’s agenda. Even Adobe’s Flash (Macromedia takeover) and the PDF format are bound to be replaced according to the Microsoft Grand Plan. What about DivX and WMV? MP3 and WMA? The formats Microsoft have proposed are not only inferior in terms of performance, but also they are proprietary.

Will that trend ever stop? To critical IT professionals the current state-of-affair is like a pungent knife in an open sore. To many others, this entire manipulation from up above is misunderstood and thus perceived as innocent. The ‘cattle effect’ is to be attributed for some inertia, not to mention pre-installed software.

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Linux Distribution Screenshots

SuSE Linux beta, KDE

OSDIR.COM have published a large number of screenshot galleries today. They all come from different ‘flavours’ of Linux: from Arabian Linux to Mandriva and even the latest of SuSE (version 10.1, shown above).

What I generally find awkward are distributions of Linux that go by names such as Linux XP 2005, and yes! They look quite similar to Windows XP as well. I guess that Apple Mac crossovers are not any better. For each his/her own.

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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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