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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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I didn’t think Adobe would ever release Creative Suite natively for Linux

And the fact is they still might never do it. But, and believe me this is a big BUT, through the course of something completely different and irrelevant, I had the ear of a Senior Engineering Manager in the Installation, Deployment and Licensing department at Adobe the other day, so I asked the question, not surprisingly his response was that there didn’t appear to be any real requirement for Adobe CS products to be released on Linux natively and so with that in mind it would probably never happen. I replied to his email politely, but with somewhat of a rant about why there was a business requirement for CS to be released on Linux natively, expecting it to be completely ignored, I couldn’t resist while I had his ear though of course.

Senior engineering manager agrees with comments

The reply I got to my Linux rant was rather surprising indeed and even more pleasing, it basically said, “I read through the Linux rant and I agree with a lot of what you said, so I’ve passed it on to our business team”.

Could this mean I’ve made some headway? Or could he just be blowing smoke up my ……. Well I’d like to think of course that I made some sense in my little rant, I’d also more importantly like to think it’ll make some sense to the business team as well. I’m not sat at the machine I wrote the email on at the moment so I can’t simply copy n paste, however the points I made have been on my mind for some time, so I’ll try to summarize them here for you, let me know if you think they make sense or not and if you think the business team will just ignore it, or take heed and actually make a move eventually. I can’t see my little rant being the reason that Adobe suddenly announces it’s going to bring out CS on Linux, but I’d like to think the rant helped if it happens.

Designers are free spirited

And that tends to lead to them wanting to be different from the norm, hence a lot of designers using Macs instead of PCs. I know many designers, including our very own Gremlette, who have dual boot systems with XP and Linux on the same machine, unfortunately the requirement within a designers job to use Adobe products, not just Photoshop and Illustrator which can occasionally be by-passed with GIMP and Inkscape (Although not always as those products are not quite perfect and are meant as an alternative not clones) but things like In-Design and Acrobat Professional which don’t really have any comparitive or competetive products available freely or in fact for Linux at all really, keeps these designers like Gremlette tied to Windows. Given a choice of Linux or Windows XP if both could run Adobe CS4, I know Gremlette would choose the Linux machine and I know many more designers too who would switch from both Mac OSX and Windows to Linux as well.

Microsoft share prices are low, if Windows 7 fails like Vista then

Where does that leave companies like Adobe, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that Windows 7 may well be a complete and utter f**k up just like Vista was, it’s likely to be less of one I admit, but now that Apple have released Snow Leopard and there’s a new Ubuntu release every 6 months, which is MORE than just usable but in actuality fantastic, plus KDE4.3 being an absolute and resounding success with likely an even better release by the time Windows 7 even hits the shelves, not to mention other distributions releasing every year or less, it’s going to be hard for Windows to compete really, let’s also not forget the almighty Google, who lets face it, don’t really fail at anything they try to do, are going to release Chrome OS somewhere between now and 2011, does anyone really think that Windows is going to continue competing for much longer?

Another valid point on this subject is the recent actions of major OEM machine manufacturers like Dell, HP, Lenovo, IBM, ASUS, Acer etc. All of these companies and more, have recently made agreements with companies like Canonical and Novell to use Ubuntu and OpenSUSE as their OEM operating systems, this has started out small time, but my genuine belief as to why they’ve even initiated these deals is that they’re just as aware of the fact that if Microsoft goes bust or at least faces major financial problems that prevent it from keeping it’s position in the market, they’ll be left without an operating system to use OEM. If that happens, what would Adobe do with no native Linux release available to sell to all the customers now running Linux, lose a hell of a lot of money is what.

Microsoft do have a track record of releasing a terrible OS, and then quite a good one to recover

But the fact is a lot of people are truly sick of Microsofts new-found ultra-paranoia, with Windows Genuine Advantage getting worse and worse it’s like the DRM of operating systems, and we all know how many people love DRM don’t we. Now Windows 7 is built on Vista, so it could go one of two ways. Windows Vista is the new Windows ME, just as Windows 98SE was the new Windows 98. Windows 98 was a pretty terrible OS, it crashed more than anything else ever had, it could run much when it first started and it had more problems than a de-hydrated dog with both Mange and Ticks, Windows 98SE however was fantastic in comparison, it was built entirely on Windows 98, it had the same interface, just as Windows 7 appears to have the same interface as Vista (Which is not really a well liked one I must admit). Windows 98SE was definitely a hit, but then they blew it, they released Windows ME, the MOST diabolic operating system MS has released to date, it didn’t just crash it ate hardware, refused to recover things it had deleted itself, half the time it wouldn’t boot up and to make things worse you couldn’t get a refund or an exchange or a downgrade.

Windows XP first release was terrible, SP1 was better, SP2 was fantastic, SP3 made the OS almost unusable and completely in-compatible with hardware and software that had worked perfectly before the SP was installed. Vista was a complete re-write apparently, different kernel, different interface (Although familiar with the start menu etc) even MS themselves admit publicly that it was a complete failure, so will Windows 7 be a slightly better OS like Windows 98SE was to Windows 98 or will it be a completely diabolical re-hash like Windows ME, or will it be like Windows XP SP2, a brilliant re-build of a terrible OS? Only time will tell, unfortunately I don’t think it’s going to save MS as much as they think it is and I’m not only thinking it’ll fail, I hope it will.

Adobe and Linux could be peas in a pod

If Adobe do release the CS on Linux then I think it will be great, not only for Adobe but for the general consumer. The whole thing is a viscous cycle, because Adobe products are not available on Linux, the OEM manufacturers know that designers and web designers will likely decide not to buy a Linux OEM box, likewise because the OEM boxes with Linux installed are not yet so plentiful, Adobe thinks there isn’t enough of a market share to spend the money developing a release for Linux. All it will take is for companies like Adobe, who do have a great deal of vendor-lock-in power out there, to start releasing products for Linux. Once Linux isn’t SO reliant on open source/free software and has corporate software available for it too, the OEM manufacturers will feel far more comfortable about shipping more machines, the customers will feel much happier about buying the OEM machines and the companies like Adobe continue to make money no matter what happens to those lovely people in Redmond.


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Author:  Hollow
November 20, 2008



 

 

Debian (Lenny) Linux – Beta2 is now my desktop OS

Well anyone who read my review of Lenny last month will probably have expected this, but I’ve dumped my 64bit installation of Ubuntu Hardy in favor of Debian 5.0 (Lenny). I couldn’t be happier in all honesty, it runs faster (Even though it’s only x86/32 bit as opposed to 64 bit like Ubuntu was), it looks nicer, it does what I tell it to (Sort of) and I feel like a grown up again instead of a newbie using an easy OS. No offense to newbies but you are who Ubuntu is designed for to be fair.

Debian (Etch) Linux Default (Fresh Install) Desktop Screenshot. Click to enlarge.

Debian (Lenny) FF3 Installed - Screenshot.

You can see in the screenshot to the right that I’ve managed to install FF3 instead of being forced to use IceWeasle, which I’m sorry I don’t care who you are or how much you tell me it’s the same, it isn’t ok so shutup! lol. Anyway the point being that Lenny does have it’s downfalls when it comes to installing some programs and drivers that are very easy on Ubuntu/Kubuntu Hardy. For example, when you install Kubuntu Hardy and you have an Nvidia card, Ubuntu pops up and says “I see you have an Nvidia card, would you like to install the drivers for it?” You click yes and you’re on your way, with Lenny however you log into your system and there’s no such pop-up, so you say, “Lenny, I have an Nvidia card and I’d like to install it please”, to which Lenny promptly replies, “Well drop to console and work for it bitch!” Obviously you understand Lenny isn’t a real person and it doesn’t actually talk to you in voice by default, but I had to do it that way for the joke to work. :D

I’ve installed all my usual programs, like Yakuake (Screenshot below, which also includes my dual screen spanning desktop just for good measure), Filezilla, Thunderbird, aMSN, Opera, Netscape, Flock and a host of other simpler but neccessity applications for me like, Flash player, VLC, MPlayer, Audacity etc.

Lenny Yakuake - Screenshot.

Lenny Yakuake - Screenshot.

This last few weeks has seen lots of change in the world, our own fair New Zealand has taken a new government, America elected a new saviour, sorry I mean president, I mean, well you get the point, so I decided it was time for the Symsys-Kubuntu-804 machine to become Symsys-Lenny instead. Change is good!

After installing my applications and installing the wonderful “Breathless” Icon theme, I changed a couple of fonts, uninstalled Open Office 2.4 and installed 3.0 from debs I already had, then decided I’d blog about how great it was.

Lenny 'K' Menu - Screenshot..

Lenny 'K' Menu - Screenshot

So the long and short of this installation is that Nvidia drivers are not yet very easy to install in Lenny, unless you install them immediately after installing your system, unfortunately if you do that you’ll need to re-install them once you update to the 2.6.26 kernel, which will have been compiled from gcc-4.1 and if you’ve updated your kernel you’ve most likely upgraded gcc to gcc-4.3 or higher and the compilation of the Nvidia Kernel module will fail because of that very fact, so just a quick tip for those others out there googling this problem (And I found a few myself during the process as I had other errors too), make sure to download the absolute latest drivers from the Nvidia site, now you won’t be able to do that easily either, their site is now entirely flash/java and doesn’t tend to work well with Konqueror, Opera, Firefox or Netscape until the Nvidia drivers are actually installed (Dumb right?), anyway, visit http://www.nvidia.com/downloads and you’ll get what you need. Once you’ve got the latest drivers from Nvidias site, drop to console (Closing the GUI all together I mean here not just bring up Konsole or dropping to Ctrl Alt F4) make sure you have the correct linux-sources and build-essential installs, then type apt-get install gcc-4.1 then export CC=”gcc-4.1″ then immediately after that cd /usr/src && sh ./NVIDIA*.run agree to the license, say no to downloading a pre-compiled kernel and say ok (No other option) to compiling a new kernel, hopefully all should be well. Obviously don’t take this as a guide to installing Nvidia drivers by default because you may find that they install just fine for you if you have a newer release of Lenny, or a .deb package to install them with etc.

I might actually write a blog about the nvidia drivers installation with a few hints and tips on troubleshooting as well for those who get lost. Have a look for it in the menu on the right, if you can’t find it in there I haven’t written it yet so just stick a comment below here to give me a jab to do it.

I’m really really really impressed with Lenny and I couldn’t be happier to get rid of Kubuntu 64bit, now that’s something I never thought I’d say, Ubuntu/Kubuntu has always been so easy to install and easy to maintain but lately I’ve just been feeling frustrated, it’s so much harder to do “power user stuff” in Ubuntu now BECAUSE it’s so much easier to do the easy stuff. Now that Debian have given us Lenny with a fantastic installer, a brilliant package of programs out of the box and you still have the genious that is aptitude and synaptic if you want to install it, then I think I can now safely say that Debian is well and truly the Ubuntu for professionals and power users, although some may take offense at that so let’s say Ubuntu is the Debian for newbies, but no wait other people will be offended at that, hmmmmmmmmmm, well I like both, I prefer Debian for my pro stuff and Ubuntu for my clients that aren’t so technically minded, yeah that works :D .


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Author:  Hollow
November 19, 2008



 

 

Why am I disappointed with Ubuntu?

I started using Ubuntu, or rather Kubuntu in fact, around 6.10 (Edgy) and didn’t reckon much to it in all honesty, I went back to using Gentoo and Debian 4.0 (Etch). When 7.04 (Feisty) was released, so intregued was I by Canonical’s marketing of Ubuntu and the media hype surrounding it, that I tried it out on an old Toshiba Sat Pro laptop (I forget the exact model number) and was reasonably impressed. 7.04 stayed on that laptop until 7.10 (Gutsy) was released and was immediately upgraded, again with an impressive result. I had to relinquish that laptop to another engineer in the company when I moved back to New Zealand, but by this time I had installed 7.10 on my desktop machine and was happy with it. Upon the 8.04 (Hardy) release I immediately upgraded my desktop without fear as the 7.04 to 7.10 upgrade had gone so well previously I figured I had nothing to fear right? Wrong! I had endless problems with the upgrade, eventually resulting in a complete reload of the system. I put the problems down to the upgrade itself and installed 8.04 from scratch on a fresh hard drive, and I must admit it went well, I was rather disappointed at the number of updates which were immediately required but I had become accustomed to this with other distributions so shrugged it off, and since that day my machine has run 8.04 happily.

Intrepid was released

When Intrepid was released I had been counting down the days until it’s release eagerly and was excited at the prospect of yet another release of this easy to use, friendly distribution. I wasn’t keen on the idea of KDE4.1 being used as I had tried KDE4.x a few times during it’s development and just didn’t get on with it, I was also weary of the problems I had upgrading from 7.10 to 8.04, so instead of just hitting that upgrade distribution button, I installed 8.04 in a VM and upgraded to 8.10 within the VM. This did not go well at all and resulted in an unusable system, once again I decided this must be the upgrade that was the problem, so I did a fresh install of 8.10 in the VM instead, hoping it would produce better results, it did not. After install things were flakey to say the least, once I had installed the VirtualBox drivers I could no longer get an X Server at all. Numerous other problems seemed to plague this release so I decided I would wait until bugs had been fixed with it and I might install it then, only to remember I still wasn’t keen on KDE4.1 and just had a general feeling of not wanting this upgrade, so I have decided to skip it.

The IRC Chatrooms

I spend a fair bit of time in the Kubuntu and Ubuntu IRC chat rooms, I don’t use it for help but I offer what help I can to the users who frequent it and maybe don’t have the knowledge that I do. In the week that followed the release of 8.10 I spent most of my time in that chat room, trying to refer back to a VM install of 8.10 to help people that were having numerous problems after upgrade and/or fresh installs of the release. The problems were so abundent that I can honestly say it didn’t seem like a release of Ubuntu/Kubuntu at all, but more like a release of Fedora Core with people new to Linux trying to feel their way through in the dark. People were complaining their X server no longer worked, or they couldn’t install Nvidia drivers, or what happened to KDE3? Now don’t get me wrong “Cutting Edge” is good, but cutting edge to me is brand new stuff, that works. That’s why we also these days have “Bleeding Edge”, which is basically what distributions like Sidux, Fedora Core and the current bleeding edge version of Debian (Sid) are for, they introduce these new features that don’t quite work yet and they have a good following of dedicated users, who will test this software for them and report bugs. Installing things like an X.org server that doesn’t support Nvidia drivers yet just seems more like Bleeding Edge than Cutting Edge, or is it just me?

My love for ubuntu still holds

Never have I liked a distribution more than Ubuntu, for ease of use, friendlyness to new users and popularity in general, and that still holds true for former releases of the distribution, but 8.10 has yet to earn that love. I would still highly recommend that any new user install Ubuntu/Kubuntu/Xubuntu on their system, so long as they use 8.04 and not 8.10. It seems a crying shame that the so dubbed “darling of Linux” seems to have fallen so short with this release, but I am confident that 9.04 (Jaunty) will redeem itself.

Conclusions

So in conclusion I feel I should coin the words of Steve Ballmer (Microsoft CEO) when he said people should skip Vista, and suggest that most people skip the 8.10 release of Ubuntu and use 8.04 until 9.04 is released. The difference being, the users of Ubuntu only have 5 months to wait instead of a year or more, and more to the point it probably hasn’t cost anyone using Ubuntu a single cent to do so and it won’t cost them anything to upgrade either. I am hopeful that X.org will have fixed any issues with the current release of the X server by then, Nvidia drivers will work properly, KDE4.1 may have become KDE4.2 or even just KDE4.1.something.that.works.better and with any luck the next release will be much better put together, thought out and more stable.

Linux itself is very much on the rise now, the desktop market is being blown wide open by MS cock ups, awareness is being raised by companies like Canonical, Dell, HP, IBM, ASUS etc and the world economy crash couldn’t have come at a better time for Linux to really thrust itself out there and say, “Hey I work perfectly on 99% (Figure I made up but it can’t be far off these days) of hardware and I won’t cost you a penny”, which is exactly what it’s doing. Symsys Ltd as a company is doing it’s part, trying to push the use of Linux and increase it’s awareness, but other companies are joining the fold too, Adobe is releasing more and more software for Linux and talks of open sourcing some of it, IBM are now evangelising Linux more than ever, HP have decided to start OEMing it, Splashtop has become all the rage in new formats like “Fast Boot” and with the trend of things like Googles Android phone and the general concessus, even that admitted by MS themselves, that Windows has turned to turd (Face it XP WAS a good release eventually), all we need to do now is make the people who have no technical interest in Linux and don’t care about the freedoms of it, aware that it exists, it’s a LOT better than it ever was before, it STILL doesn’t cost anything, oh and it works on everything from your toaster to your server, whilst being able to talk to anything MS you might still have in your network as well.

To close then, I urge Canonical to make the 9.04 release more stable than 8.10 was/is, I urge X.org to make things like the Nvidia drivers work so I can maintain my dual screens and other features that require them and I’ll simply coin another phrase which comes from the opening credits of my favorite TV show while growing up in the U.K. and demonstrates effectively my feelings on Linux today, “Power to the People!”


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