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Linux and Apple are both increasing their market share for desktops

I’ve just been reading an article by one of my favourite columnists/bloggers – http://blogs.computerworld.com/14749/shh_hp_sneaks_linux_in_on_new_laptops – now this guy isn’t one of my favorites because of what he writes, what he writes about or even how he writes it, no, he’s one of my favorites because of the comments that almost ALWAYS follow his articles.

One thing you can always count on with SJVN is that he will have a whole host of Microsoft Zealots, Linux Zealots, and Apple Zealots reading his article and then feeling the uncontrollable urge to comment, and not necessarily on his article. The first few posts are usually a Microsoft Zealot slamming him for something completely irrelevant or stringing together a whole host of his previous posts where THEIR interpretation of them, leads THEM to believe that he’s full of **** or inaccurate, or some Linux Zealots starting the flame-fest by commenting on how brilliant he is or how brilliant the thing he’s writing about is, which is then of course swiftly followed by the above mentioned Microsoft Zealots, trashing the Linux Zealots posts.

The more interesting and amusing reading comes around page 2 of the comments, where all the fanatics on all sides come out of the woodwork, usually Linux fanatics saying how this is the year of the desktop and buying Microsoft will kill babies, Microsoft fanatics saying Linux is a dead operating system, Apple fanatics claiming that they’re the equivalent of a Prius driver “Superior intellect and advanced thinking”, and the flaming goes back and forth back and forth, until SJVNs article has become completely irrelevant to the comments which follow it.

Anyone who has read or does read any more of this particular blog, will know that I’m neither a zealot or a fanboy of anything, but that I do lean towards Open Source and Linux more than Microsoft or Apple. I do want to see Linux popularity increase to the point that I can walk into my local electronics store and find Linux Laptops and Desktops sat next to the exclusive and over-priced Apple stand and the row of Windows machines.

I’m a realist however, I don’t think that Linux will conquer the world, I don’t believe that Windows has no place in the world and I certainly don’t believe that Apples are terrible either, although I do joke around with the word Crapple when talking about them :D .

Every single comment thread following SJVNs articles always leaves me feeling the same way, disappointed that for the most part the I.T. world is split up into different “factions”, I’m an I.T. engineer, that means I do everything, Linux, BSD, Crapple, Microsoft, Development on all platforms and Web, Networking etc etc etc and I recognise that there genuinely is a place in this world for everything we’ve already got out there, and more besides.

I constantly read about how this will be the year of the Linux desktop, that Crapples will take over the world and that Microsoft Windows 7 will be a revolutionary operating system like no one has ever seen before, it’ll change the way we all see them (Unlikely I think) and that cloud computing is the way forward so desktops won’t matter anyway. The fact is, one of the comments that followed the particular article I linked to above, made an awful lot of sense and DID relate a lot to SJVNs actual article. It basically compares Linux, Microsoft and Apple’s marketing strategies, making light of Apples new App Store for the iPhone and it’s success etc.

Apple manufacture their own machines, so they don’t rely on OEMs to force third party software developers to make applications to run on Mac OS, Linux however doesn’t have that power, what is required for Linux to truly take off and be as big or bigger than Apple and Windows is for an OEM, a big one like HP, IBM or Dell to talk to these third party developers like Adobe and Intuit, and make the decision that they are going to ship a third of all their OEM machines with a Linux flavor on next year, with a large OEM backing Linux to that extent, does anyone really think Adobe would continue it’s refusal to make it’s applications for Linux? This is what I believe SJVN was actually getting at in his article, in his own cynical way he’s making the point that most of the OEMs out there are now shipping Linux one way or another, as the main OS or as Splashtop machines with Windows, if they have enough faith in Linux to do this, then surely someone there must have the balls to stand up and say, screw it, we’re going to ship a third of our machines with Linux on, we’re going to support it and we’re going to talk to the third party developers about making their apps available on Linux.

In summary I think SJVN could be a little clearer in his articles, about what exactly he’s getting at, but I think he likes watching the flame wars that follow to be honest. OEMs like Dell and HP need to realise that if they push Linux and support Linux, they’ll actually make more profit, they don’t need to sell the machines any cheaper than the Windows machines, remember MOST people out there don’t know anything more about computers than, the keyboard puts letters on the screen and the mouse moves the pointy thing, if they pick a flavor like Ubuntu or SUSE then they still have a partner to offer OS support in place of MS, their machines will appear to be of better quality because they will run smarter, faster and for longer without reloads and that means less warranty claims, less complaints, more brand loyalty when their machine performs so well and what’s more they’d be the first to bring Linux into mainstream desktop distribution, making them super heros to all the existing Linux and Open Source community, which is a LOT bigger than people think when they look at statistics.

If you look at the population of New Zealand (Just over 4 Million) and you take the 1% Desktop Market Share statistic, then you get a figure of 40,000 people, that’s more people than live in my town by the way, then let’s analyze the fact that these 4 Million people, be they at work or at school, will most LIKELY be using Windows or Macs at that location and have a machine at home as well, which could be anything. Without going into the rocket science that is statistic making (Half of which is bull**** anyway) it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if the Microsoft and Apple machines being used at work are taken into the statistical information which concludes a 1% market share for desktops, then the market share statistic is a) inaccurate and b) doesn’t represent personal choice in any way shape or form. Let’s not even go into the number of people who buy a machine from an electrical store with Windows loaded on it (Which immediately goes in the statistics) and then load it with something else, BSD, Linux, Solaris (Which does not go into the statistics), nor shall we look at the people like myself and my partner who purchase computer parts, then build the machines ourselves and load whatever operating system we choose onto it (Which also does not go into the statistics), our house for example has 3 custom built desktops, all running a flavor of Linux, only one has a Windows dual boot, then two Laptops, a Dell and an HP, one with Windows/Linux dual boot and one running exclusively Linux, oh and the people out there who buy Macs, then load Linux or Windows dual boots, in short, statistics don’t mean **** when it comes to real numbers of people using operating systems, it doesn’t in fact even give any kind of reliable indication to any of the operating systems popularity at all.

So what are we to conclude from all this then? Well I personally think that Microsoft Windows 7 is going to be better than Vista, but not enough to be a world changing OS, I think that Linux and it’s popularity will continue to grow and eventually will gain full support from OEMs, boosting even it’s official statistics to something nearer to MS and Apple, and I believe that Apple will grow much much bigger in popularity, to the point that it too is a direct comparison statistically to MS, at which point the hackers of the world who already admit it’s easier to break Apple than it is to break MS, will start to write a LOT more viruses for Apples, making a few people I know swallow their Prius-like attitude and feel very egg-faced about comments they’ve made in the past about running an Apple network because it’s Virus free without Anti-Virus. Do I think MS will disappear? No I don’t, I think they’ll lose some ground and pick themselves up from a new angle, most likely providing more niche software than blanket. Do I think Apple will take over the world? No, I think they’ll get close and then fall down on their lack of OS security and preparedness for their sudden boost in popularity for both users and hackers. Do I think next year will be the year of the Linux desktop? No, I don’t think that year will ever come in the sense that it is usually referred to, I do however think the next few years will bring a big shift in the market shares and popularities of ALL the mainstream OS’s out there, I do think that Linux will become a big player in the desktop market and I do think that lots of people already making money on Linux will start to make a hell of a lot more.

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Author:  Gremlette
November 24, 2008



What is available for the Graphic Designer
on Linux?

I think it is probably safe to say, that if you have searched for this article, you may already realise the benefits of dumping the Windows or Mac installation …. but what about all that proprietry software that you have been using for years?

I agree that it is a good thing to be able to include some big software names on your CV but at the end of the day it is your creative ability that sings the song of greatness in your portfolio. If you have experienced a variety of graphics packages, you of all people should know that using a different or lesser known package to get the result does not affect your ability to use a chosen proprietary package or the quality of the result achieved one iota.

Specifically raised as important to the Graphics Professional are the following programs. All of these are part of what we would normally include in a custom Linux install service at Symsys Ltd.

Vector Graphics Software for Linux

INKSCAPE is the most popular choice for industry professionals within the Linux community. Whether you are used to Illustrator or Corel (two very different packages) Inkscape has literally combined all the best functions into one and allows you to customize the package layout and panels to suit your way of working. There are now no CMYK issues, it includes colour mixing palettes, barcoding, diagram building, node editing and so on. This will open AI, PDF… even ICO and WMF. EPS import does work on the Linux version, but it has bugs that are being currently ironed out. The best thing is, you know the cure is never far behind and as with most open software, a huge community is there to help you and each other out. 

Photo Editing Suite for Linux

As a graphic Designer for some 15+ years now (crikey), I know that we need something much more than just a meager ‘paint program’ or ‘digicam suite’. 

GIMP is THE Photo Suite solution for Linux. Like Inkscape, do not be suprized if you feel a bit like it is Photoshop or Paintshop Pro re-skinned, because of the familiarity. I assure you it is 100% built as new from the ground up between thousands of minds, as an open source project. At the end of the day, all the icons, menus and features are built upon common sense and popular preference. Yes, it will open your layered PSD’s and TIF’s complete with colour profiles as well as EPS with no problem:)

We would normally also include  ’ Digikam ’ on Graphic Design Linux systems as well as any standard home user installation. Digikam is a light version that gives the capability of importing photo libraries from your camera with common editing features. Digikam now allows you to batch process red eye correction – that can be handy.

CAD Package for the Linux User

Now in all honesty, I have not personally had the occasion to use CAD packages all that extensively, but being experienced in pre-press and other design scenarios, it has been required on a few occasions.

KCAD seems to be the number one option and looking at the screen shots I do see a lot of familiarity in the layout and use of the program. It is confirmed that KCAD does open and saves files in DXF format which satisfies one of the main determining factors of program selection – compatibility.

A related Graphics tool included in the designers pack is the Gwenview image viewer.

PDF and Printing for the Linux System

Naturally, Adobe now finally offer a free PDF viewing program for Linux just as well as it does for any other platform.
Most Linux distributions are equipped with CUPS, the Common Unix Printing System, by default, however any that don’t have it in their repositories so they are simply a command away or a few clicks if you’re using a GUI front-end for the package manager.

Pstoedit - This converts PDF files to Vectors – EPS, EMF, AI etc and back again in most cases.

Xpdf  is a very efficient open source viewer for PDF files. Even though Adobe do supply a free viewer these days, I include this in a Graphic Design package for Linux for other valuable features that Xpdf has. The Xpdf project also includes a PDF text extractor (PDFtoTEXT), PDF-to-PostScript converter, and various other utilities. It can use Type 1 or TrueType fonts.

TC PDF  is a good PDF creation program to try out. It supports Barcodes, spot colour, gradient, transparency etc.

Refer to ‘Page Layout’ and Scribus at the end of this post for everything you could possibly need to know.

Even More Design Pro Software

I have outlined the Linux solutions above that are main concerns for the graphic designer. After that, you will soon find that there are absolutely tons of gadgets out there once you know what you are looking for. Just always remember to put keywords into Google like ‘Open Source’, ‘GPL’, ‘GNU’, ‘Linux’ etc… then what you are looking for and you’ll be sure to find one or more alternatives.


Fontforge – A Font editing tool.
On the subject of what can be every designers nightmare – Font Management.
Have you tried Fontmatrix? There is a good reason that we choose Debian Lenny for new installations. Debian seem to be really on the ball when it comes to developing better solutions on things that matter to the Designer. Get Font matrix from Debian


Scribus is what you need. You will find that Scribus offers everything you require to produce professional page layout for everything for pre-press simple layout to award winning magazines. Go to the Scribus website to find many well informed resources for DTP including quite a bit for PDF tools. 


You should now be really beginning to wonder why companies continue to strangle themselves financially, with keeping up extortionately overpriced packages like Quark and Adobe. If you are out on your own though, hopefully I have shown you the way to a productive and creative career without having to take out a small mortgage to pay for the packages to succeed.

Some of you may start to look at certain design and production centers in a new light.

Some companies are more like ‘sweat shops’. I have worked in a variety of situations that may sound very familiar to some of you, such as the company that cannot afford enough licenses for you to do your job without borrowing someone else’s machine, ofter resulting in lowered pride in work, poor budget on necessary equipment and even having to share computers. Bad decisions like spending the maximum amount on software and minimum amount on the increased caliber of equipment to run it, makes for nothing but poor wages and miserable staff, which leads to a high staff turnover, and ultimately lower standards, which all leads to making a lower profit.

Some companies invest so much into proprietary software that they cannot or stubbornly will not let it go when it becomes desperately outdated, or no longer fills the requirement. It is very poor management to take preference to a big brand name … that in reality doesn’t to the job any better, over your staff, and sometimes if not usually these days, this software is not as good as an available open source equivalent.


Donate Donate Donate!!!!!
Keep the Open Source projects alive and well. Remember these incredibly powerful tools are provided to you free (Mostly “as in beer” AND “as in speech”, but at the very least “as in beer”), but the time and money required to allow this to be possible doesnt grow on trees (Even though it’s made of paper, which is made of wood ….. never mind you get the idea). So, If I just saved you  $5,000 NZD or more, per computer, because you didn’t need Windows, or that Adobe Creative Suite CS3/Corel Draw after all .. Please donate to the relevant sources and keep the community going. 


Following Editions:


Linux PC Setup for the Web Designer, 

Linux PC Setup for the Multimedia Designer

And on to the Geek, the Office, the Corporate, Fun and recreation, and for the kids.

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Author:  Hollow
November 21, 2008



Custom, Web design? – not at Xtra New Zealand – Its all pay for poor DIY tools

After doing some research in the Waitakere area recently we discovered that a lot of companies out West don’t actually have a website, with some further research we discovered that some do, but it’s just a holding page or a very poorly designed one, which is obviously built from a template and … just … well, doesn’t do much.

A little further research took us to the telecom.co.nz website as the root cause of this. After some seriously furious clicking to get to the right page we find some very disturbing slogans:

Get a Custom website built

but then

The Custom template layout is similar to the EasySite template layout with….


Get your website built for you by a website design expert

but then

Get Your Website Built for You from Templates

Telecom Xtra just doesn’t get it

Anyway needless to say that the words “custom” and “template” don’t really go hand in hand when it comes to web design, or anything in fact. Your web design is either done from scratch, in which case it’s custom, or it’s done from a template, in which case it might be “cusomized” from a template and the amount of customization varies.

Another little gem we found out recently, whilst dealing with an Xtra/Telecom website customer, is that if they register your domain for you, you cannot delegate the DNS (Domain Name System) services to anyone but them. This means they control your email, where your website is hosted, they’re responsible for your anti-spam and ultimately your website. With this in mind I HAVE to recommend to anyone in NZ that they DON’T register a domain with Xtra, period.

Overpricing to the MAX!

They advertise that you can register a .co.nz domain for as little as $39.95, when companies like iServe.co.nz (Free plug for them because we register our .co.nz domains through them) will register it for $38 flat, inclusive of GST and you can nominate your DNS nameservers and are not forced to be tied in to them forever. iServe also offer a basic hosting plan for $20 per month, you don’t get much with it but it’s enough if you can design the site yourself, maintain it yourself and you’re acustomed to sorting out email issues etc. Or you can nominate a different nameserver, for example if you’re hosted with us (Only offered to web design and technical customers, not offered as a service to the general public) you can use our nameservers and we can look after your site for you, not just the hosting, but we help you manage it, filter your email for spam and more, all for as little as $35 a month.

So how much does Xtra site design cost? This fabulous customization of a template, using an online program called EasySite, or EasySite Plus if you pay more? (Been available from LOTS of hosting companies for a long time and for free if you purchased a domain through them, if you’re in the U.K check out www.123-reg.co.uk) Well nothing, you use the site builder yourself to design it from a template, so you don’t actually get Web Design services, you get a program and do the work yourself.

The hosting is just silly!

Not only is this a terrible thing to offer, site design services by a program you have to use, but also their hosting isn’t great. They offer a $12.95 package, which granted is cheaper than us or iServe, but for that you have 200MB of storage, compared to only 20MB with iServe (the average 4 or 5 page site is less than 5MB in size unless it has LOTS of photos or extra programming) and only gives you 2GB of traffic compared to 7GB with iServe and 10GB with us, the traffic is the important part here, if you have a small site but hope for lots of business, the more traffic allowance you have, the better.

The next package they offer is no better, you get 10GB of storage (WAAAAAAAAAAAY to much for any standard website) and 400GB of transfer, (again WAAAAAAAAAAAY to much for any standard website) and you get upgraded from EasySite to EasySitePlus, everything else remains the same, you only get 2 domain email accounts, so address1@something.co.nz and address2@something.co.nz compared to unlimited with iServe and 5 with us here at Symsys Ltd. In typical Telecom style they charge for overuse, 10cents per 1MB you go over your traffic allowance (Easily done on a good month, trust me) and 75cents per 5MB over your storage allowance (Thankfully since they provide so much you shouldn’t exceed it).

So do they actually offer custom websites then?

No not really, if you click on their link to have a custom site built without templates you get the following as the second paragraph:

The Custom template layout is similar to the EasySite template layout with a banner design along the top and navigation along the left hand side so it is equally suitable if you already have an EasySite website and want to improve it.

So they’re not actually offering custom sites at all, they’re just offering you the EasySite pro package, so you’re once again doing it yourself, but paying them for it.


The conclusion is this, if you want a customised website that works for you, is optimised for search engines AND speed of loading then you need to go to a professional, we’re a professional and if you don’t like us there are quite a few other professional designers out there in NZ as well, you just need to look for them. We don’t use templates at all unless the customer asks us to make one for them, in which case we start from scratch and produce a template for the customer that they can then use to produce extra pages at their own will, instead of having to pay us.

It’s never a good idea to design your companies site yourself, unless you’re one or preferably all of the following:

A Graphic Designer

A Web Coder

An SEO specialist

We are in fact all of the above bundled into one company, we have a B.A.(Hons) qualified designer on staff, diploma qualified programmers and we have resources at our fingertips to provide quality, GENUINE, SEO services that will ensure your site gets found on a search in google, whether it gets found first or 21st just depends on how much competition you have, how much content you give us to put in to your site and how often the submissions to the engines get made. Making a site come top of the listings when you search for it’s company name is simple, making it come top of the search engines when someone searches for the service that company provides and doesn’t know the company exists, well that’s a science, and one we’re VERY good at.

If you want your site to look good, function properly and appear in the search engines (We’re not promising you’ll be at the top of them because that’s a promise NO ONE can keep), then you need to speak to us, or someone just like us, not design it yourself through Xtras proprietary software offer.

So once again, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t buy your domain, hosting or site design through Xtra, I don’t care if you don’t come to us, but for the love of good look elsewhere! Oh and if you REALLY must use easysite you can, check out their homepage here http://www.easysite.com for more information on what they provide. But seriously, and I mean SERIOUSLY, pay someone to do it, or download something like wordpress, joomla or another CMS (Content Management System), then buy some PROPER hosting from someone like iServe or WebBase or Site5 and do it yourself that way, at least CMS programs tend to be very searchable based on content.

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Author:  Hollow
October 18, 2008



Cisco Intoduction

Well we’re a big fan of Cisco products and services, and being that they are an industry standard we’ve decided that we would put some Cisco How-To’s and Tips in here. The articles are currently in progress however they will be online very shortly so please keep checking back.

Cisco Symsys Inc

Cisco Systems Inc

You’ll see the links appear to the right under the Pages category as and when the articles are published. In the mean time we invite you to take a look around our other articles that relate to various different subjects, such as Linux reviews, browser reviews and general blog entries, and we hope you enjoy reading them.

If you’re a Cisco engineer, certified or not, and you have a how-to or a tip you would like to see posted here by all means contact us via our contact form. We’ll give your article a read through for proofing and if everything checks out we’ll post it here with credits to you.

I apologize for this page being so bare at the moment, but we’ve just moved the entire site to a new server and are still in the process of setting up the secure areas of the site for, you, our customers to be able to sign in securely and have access to otherwise limited areas of the site. I’m positive that very soon this section of the site will fill with content quite quickly. Thanks for being patient.


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