Category Archives: Linux

Others agree Linux needs Critisim

This is part of what I was saying back in my earlier article about what Linux still needs to used more on the Desktop. Keir Thomas makes a good argument for the problems with why Linux is like it is today. The main problem is Linux doesn’t accept criticism. I see this very often I mean look at the article I wrote. What were the responses to the statements I made? Every time someone says something about Linux that could at all sound bad their first response are either defensive or the classic “It’s open source you can do that yourself”. What does that mean? Does that mean my idea has such little merit that it should only be done if I feel it should? I mean if I suggested someone add something like DEP in Windows what kind of responses would I get? Most likely the unlearned  response “Linux doesn’t need that” or the “Do it yourself if you want it” responce. Well the first response is what someone unaware of how security works would respond the problem though is anyone that does understand it would say the second response. THIS IS A PROBLEM! I don’t know how DEP was implement I cannot say I understand how exactly it works I have a general idea of what it does but I don’t know it. So why should I program it? There are people out there that could be working on this don’t tell me that Novell or Red Hat wouldn’t see this as a useful thing to add for security.

This is the major problem I see with Linux these days. The community doesn’t accept criticism instead every time they get advice or have a problem pointed out its just perceived to be an attack. Well I have no reason attack Linux I just want to see it get better that is the reason I wrote this post.



TomTom settles its lawsuit with Microsoft

So TomTom has decided to not wage this war that they most likely never wanted from the start. Instead they decided to settle. The most interesting part is Microsoft is paying nothing (even though TomTom had counter-sued) and TomTom is looking to drop the parts of its product that violate the GPL to avoid running into problems with licensing. Now what does this mean? Well first it proves that nobody really is going to stand up to Micrsoft when push comes to shove. The bigger issue here is what has the GPL done to TomTom? I believe in this situation that TomTom is quite easily being harmed by the restrictive nature of the GPL license. If this means that TomTom can no longer use the FAT file system will they lose the competitive advantage? I don’t think its safe to say that using open source is a safe way to make something low cost really easily. TomTom is learning the hard way this and hopefully more will realize that the GPL is a bad license. I personally will once again state the fact I personally favor the BSD style licenses.


Linux Kernel 2.6.29 released

I felt that I should remind any Linux fans following this blog that Linux Kernel 2.6.29 is out. Two of the more noticeable features is graphics mode-setting and stable ext4 support. Mode-setting is especially important as it is supposedly going to lead to a flicker free boot sequence something that has always been bothersome for Linux distros.


You can now use Chromium on Linux!

So its been awhile since Chrome 1 was released and now the same day the Beta of Chrome 2 is announced OSnews ran an interesting article for running Chromium (the open source project for Chrome) natively on Ubuntu! Not just running it but there is actually a ppa available for Jaunty and Hardy! This is great as it means Linux users will finally be able to use another good browser. Knowing most distros versions of Chromium will probably be very common on distros and the Google Chrome version will probably be in the minority in Linux. It will be interesting to see what will come out of all this though if nothing else at least there is more choice.


GCC to get auto-parallelization support

This is one of the reasons I love Open Source. IBM’s Razy Ladelsky is looking at adding auto-parallelization support to GCC. This is going to be done by parallelizing loops. While this might seem small to some this would be a very handy feature to have within the mainline of GCC and would help get even more speed out of systems. I hope to hear more about this in the future as it sounds like something interesting relating to parallel computing.


Continuation on the state of Linux as well as clarification

As I finished the last Linux article late last night I did not do adequate proof reading I guess and so I realize (Thanks for commenting guys) that I missed some points and may have made some statements that were not correct. This article is to clarify and finish up making my points from my previous post. I may at some point post a new article with the combination of these two post plus anything more that turns up in the future if people want it or I am bored enough to do it.

First, I would like to clarify my stance on PackageKit. In the last article it sounded as though I hated PackageKit. This is not true. I actually am very hopeful of it I fear though that it could go the way of earlier attempts at the same thing. Of course earlier attempts at a universal package manager for Linux were not supported by a company as big as Red Hat so I think this might actually bring about good results. The biggest problem I have with PackageKit is actually the ease of use of it. PackageKit in the last version of Fedora was a step backwards at least when I used it. First off the search barely worked and was slower then the earlier Fedora Package Manager. The second problem was the fact that the ui had buggy small problems. As I write this I am downloading the latest Fedora alpha and redownloading Fedora 10 and am going to see if it has gotten better (If it does I will update this post).

Second, I would like to address the ease of use problems. I already started it by explaining the problems with PackageKit the larger problems are the overarching claims that if you use Windows Linux is easy to use. This has never been true and would be like saying “If you can use OSX you can use Linux” or “If you use Windows you can use OSX.” Now I don’t know if you have watched at Windows user first try OSX it can be very entertaining. Even I could not understand OSX well when I first sat at it (I had used Macs every so often since the Macintosh and so I knew at least the basics). This is the problem with saying its easy for a Windows user to use! It is not! Why would they open up PackageKit? They always went to the internet to download an application or put in a cd! See the problem? Yes this may not sound like the whole ease of use problem but this is where a lot of the ease of use problem come from. The idea that you can only make it really simple (not easy mind you) or very complex. This is not true and its shown by Network Manager which I think is one of the first easy to use Linux apps. Now look though at Knetworkmanager now I have used it before but I almost always configure it wrong. Why? Well you have to go to the next page to connect! WTF? Why is there more then one page for configuring the network? See the problem? Who would expect this. Well you might argue that its similar to the windows configuration but that is not true. If you run Windows Vista or Windows 7 you would notice that yes there is a next button but there is no accept like button till the end with a check box for connecting now. This is easy and simple as you can walk though it easily and the interface is simple in the fact that there is no two accept options unlike knetworkmanager. Yes this sounds like nit picking but these are the problems that make people go “Well it worked in Windows why is it so hard in Linux.” Next how about getting graphics drivers working. Now this has been made more simple but many people are just confused as everyone seems to give slightly different advice for how to get a graphics driver installed. Another major issue is the ease of use is the email clients in Linux. Lets first look at Kontact. Yes its for more then just email I am just calling them email clients cause I am referring to Evolution and Kontact. Kontact has a wonderful RSS reader in it. But ease of use gets trumped in the options. Lets say I go to add a rss feed. Well here i notice that I can add my Google reader account and I would assume have it load off of that. Well I attempt and boom nothing happens. If this was a beta I would be fine with this but this problem has existed since version 4.1 of KDE and has not be removed or fixed. Why is it still in the code if it doesn’t work? Since when is it easy to to use interfaces with non-working panels? I’ll give you a hint never. It should not be like this. Now lets look at Evolution (an application that really needs to evolve itself) and try rss feeds. Now it says it should work but then they come through looking like emails and its just plain messy. Also try making it so that evolution just sits in your system try when you close it or minimize it… oh wait EVERY other email application does that but evolution doesn’t anymore. Not to mention in your search for the option you go through 5 different “settings” or “options” menus which make the task all the more confusing before you give up on it. See the problem? The FOSS community needs to stop just simply saying its easy to use and look at what it is working on and ask “Is this really that easy to use?” cause I bet when they start doing that they will really realize the problems with their software.

I hope this makes it a bit easier to understand what I was getting at yesterday as I think a lot of these problems are more important then most people realize.

The reasons Linux still is not going to gain market share

Since yesterday’s Android article I have been thinking about Linux a bit more and what it needs to do in order to gain more ground in the Operating Systems space. The major problems still existing are mostly in three areas. These are packaging, polish/ease of use and poor distribution.

First, not just Linux but the whole Open Source movement needs to solve the packaging problem. This is the largest problem for Open Source and it has been the biggest problem that it has faced for at least 5 years now and it has been pointed out time and time again. Well I am going to reiterate the problem since it is not getting solved but actually getting worse. Now we have Google’s Android which isn’t a proper Linux stack (just what we need more splintering) but also it doesn’t use proper Java (1). But how does this have to do with packaging right? Well think about it. With a different Java and Linux stack that means that Android has ANOTHER packaging style! Just what we need another package format. RPM, Deb, ebuild and pkgsrc are not enough we need another (btw that is only the most common ones). Of course recently the Open Source community has come together to work on PackageKit which is supposed to make all of these package types be handled from one application.  Great idea but not what we need (biggest problem is ONLY Fedora uses PackageKit). We need to stick to one package style and most companies see RPM as the one package type with deb being rather common as well. If it was just these two we could probably live but it seems every year a new comes up with a new packaging style for their distribution meaning they will get completely ignored package wise. What does this really mean though? Well Android should not called Linux in any way and I hope it doesn’t go onto netbooks because it will not be able to use any currently programmed programs from what I have seen so far on the net. How does that help people being so limited? Sure its fast but if you cannot do anything useful with all that speed what is the point? Overall Android will hurt Linux’s image do to its choices in packaging.

Second, Linux needs more ease of use and polish. This is one area I see progress in with Ubuntu attempting to make a more polished distribution. The only problem is they are doing things that could backfire for them like PackageKit could backfire for Fedora. They are creating a way to make notifications look nicer. Unfortunately instead of working with other distributions to do this Ubuntu made a system and then gives it to the upstream saying “here adopt this its better” of course upstream will probably not all accept it (if any do) and it will end up becoming a series of Ubuntu only patches (more division). This is the problem! The Open Source community needs to come together to work on adding this polish not doing it individually. This is the big problem with the Open Source community it fails to work together many times at some very important aspects. Of course we could also look at the other problems related to polish where things like the X server are slow and need to be fixed in order to be faster though X related problems are being worked out in the correct way with DRI2 being added. I just hope that the distributions will in the near future learn that they need to begin working together to make a polished distributions cause last i checked the standard Gnome icons look kinda old these days and every distribution does icons completely different the only thing consistent is KDEs icons.

Third, poor distribution. Now this does not mean that distributions themselves are bad. Here I am talking about the way that Linux is introduced to new users. Yes, word of mouth has gotten Linux around and gotten a very faithful user base but it does not get mainstream desktop acceptance. If the Linux community wants to grow bigger (which I really don’t think is that important) then the community needs to find a way to prevent crap from being released. Now from this I mean things like the chopped down versions of Linux on many netbooks the best example is on the Acer Aspire One. While it looks like Linpus Linux is good enough that is just the problem. Dell I think is the only company really doing Linux on the netbook right by utilizing a strong distribution (Ubuntu) in order to provide the best user experience (and most applications) possible. But instead of a good distribution people get stuck with limited versions like Xandros (not too bad and would be fine if external repos were always enabled) and Linpus (horrible since you cannot easily modify the applications without knowing what you are doing). Overall I hope future netbooks will come with better versions of Linux based off modern Linux distributions (Linpus is based on a out of date version of Fedora) and hopefully will have a more full application experience.

Overall Linux has been moving a bit in the right direction but things like Android have an opportunity to weaken what Linux has done perception wise. Of course the perception war can only be won with hard work and lots of team work between many different communities. This is something the Open Source has both been good and bad at in the past hopefully they can come together to create a great desktop experience and win this perception war though since I would hate to see Linux get weaker.


Mac OSX market share drops!

The Net Applications stats for February have come out and its really interesting. Apple loses some market share for OSX and Microsoft has some gains. Ironically at the same time Linux still is increasing slowly but surely. So what does all this mean? Well first off it might mean Apple’s bubble is bursting. This would not be a surprise with the economy in a recession and Apple is nearing the 10% mark which is not easy to hit. At the same time Windows 7 has been focused on by many people recently and since for most people Windows is “good enough” why would you pay the Apple premium?  At the same time I wonder if Linux will start pulling numbers from Mac users or what will happen with that part of the trend. Of course the irony is that Linux is only 4x larger then the amount of people using Windows 7 BETA that is beta software! This shows just how big Windows 7 is I think. So in the future watch whats going on with Apple who knows how much longer they will be able to pull off the premium brand.


Microsoft’s Biggest Competitor? Piracy oh wait and now Linux?

This is a great way to follow up that post on ARM Netbooks. Microsoft now is actually TALKING about competing with Linux! Actually they put it up on their market share charts now ABOVE Apple but below “Windows Unlicensed” about which Ballmer made this comment “That’s a competitor that’s tough to beat, they’ve got a good price and a heck of a product, but we’re working on it.” I guess you can say that though I didn’t know that a heck of a product involved loading you computer up with malware (talking about pirated Windows here people). I don’t think this chat though confuses anyone. If you look at where Microsoft is trying to compete its not so much against Apple since Apple is not competing as much in emerging markets and has nothing in the Netbook sector. But instead Microsoft wants the emerging markets and Netbooks. Well both of those are becoming more and more often strong bastions of Linux. As I posted earlier ARM Netbooks could make Windows/Intel Netbooks go the way of the dodo and well in emerging markets it sometimes helps to support more languages. Linux can gain in the emerging markets faster then Microsoft but it will be seen still how that works out.


Will ARM kill Windows on the Netbook?

So today I saw some videos showing the new ARM netbooks (if you want to see them before reading the rest check the links below). The biggest thing I think is the fact that they are smaller AND cheaper then current netbooks as well as the fact that they run on Ubuntu Linux. Now what does that mean? Can Microsoft based netbooks that sell in the 350-450 range really compete with a AVM Netbook at the 200-300 range? I doubt it. Oh and the kicker? They can run HD content! Wait what HD that thing that Intel hasn’t got cause they use a dated graphics chipset. Yep that same thing! ARM unlike Intel is throwing more into the fight too with the fact that unlike Atom Netbook the new ARM Netbooks also need NO fans unlike the atom ones which generally have one fan in them. So what all does this mean? I think the weakening of Intel in the Netbook sector as well as a reason why Microsoft is guna lose out in the market! Oh and also this means Netbooks really are becoming giant cellphones.