Archive for the ‘os’ Category

Ok Apple.. enough…

November 21, 2007

I don’t know about you, but the last two Apple ads I’ve seen on TV (the Mac vs PC thing) are really starting to annoy me. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really like Microsoft. But I’ve always been an ‘underdog’ kind of guy – with Linux being my perennial hero of course ;). Even though in reality Microsoft is Goliath to Apple’s David, these commercials leave me feeling the opposite lately.

And it’s not just the underdog sympathy thing either. It’s the smugness of the Mac guy. It almost leaves me wondering whether all Mac users are somewhat smug. Of course the Mac users I know are no different than most Windows and Linux users I know. But if I were a typical mainstream PC user, I’d start to feel a little defensive about my current Windows PC when confronted with this barrage of ads lately. They were funny to start with but I’m wondering whether anyone else thinks they’re losing their effectiveness and run the risk of backfiring.

Besides, they’ve got a UI to be proud of and a system that works. Why not highlight the benefits of actually using a Mac rather than a Windows PC? And do it without feeling bad for the other guy. They do it with their iPod advertising.

Or even better yet, show a Mac user that’s not some grungy college grad or turtleneck wearing artsy designer type. I think they’ve already tapped that market anyway. Shouldn’t they now be going after the minivan driving moms and dads that populate the mainstream? If you’re trying to capture more of the mainstream market, get a likeable, intelligent celebrity as a spokesperson.  Not Mariah Carey or K-Fed…  but someone like Matt Damon, or Julianne Moore.

There’s a million possibilities.. all of which are likely better and friendlier than a smartass grunge grad delighting in the misfortune of an overweight fat guy in a suit. Poor guy.

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Ubuntu Upgrade – surprising!

November 18, 2007

I’ve never had complete satisfaction with a distribution upgrade although they seem to get substantially less painful for me with each iteration.

So in the midst of vacuuming the house this morning, I decided what the hell.. I’ll do the Gutsy upgrade. I logged out of Openbox and into my old standard Beryl/Metacity setup. I did a few package upgrades that were waiting and then hit the button at the top of the upgrade manager.

Two hours later I was done and rebooting with crossed fingers. It likely would have taken substantially less time but it stopped to ask me to confirm about 4 configuration file changes (I ok’d them all) and seeing as how I was vacuuming and not sitting in front of my computer watching the install, I likely added about 15 or 20 minutes of delay to the process.

The startup into Gutsy with my previous Metacity theming went fine. I turned on some high level desktop effects just to see if it picked up on my ancient Intel 810 video card. Yep. No problem, but more on that in a second. I then checked out internet connectivity and some other bits and bobs – they all worked fine.

For the final test, I logged out of that session and back into my Openbox setup. Everything seems to work A-ok. I’m duly impressed!

A note about compiz: As an engineer I am stupified as to how smoothly Compiz effects work on my bottom rung Intel 810 card. It’s got 32MB of *shared* ram and that’s it. And yet it all works beautifully. I’ve played with MS Vista and while some things look nice, the system requirements for Aero seem out of this world.

I’m by no means much of a Compiz fanboy – I love some of the effects and find some of them very useful – but the speed, simplicity and hackability of Openbox has really stolen my attention for the moment. But man, you have to give them credit for being able to do what they do when compared to other OS’s.

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Microsoft Death Spasms – or is Steve Ballmer just in panic mode?

October 10, 2007

Is it just me, or does Microsoft seem to flailing about quite a bit lately?

They are sure kicking up a lot of fuss over an open operating system and open-source ethos that not long ago they would have liked you to think didn’t even exist on their radar.

And Linux / FOSS marches inexorably onward.

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Now there’s something you don’t read about every day…

September 10, 2007

Tom Raftery is using his Vista laptop more than his MacBook Pro. He supposes that the ClearType font rendering is making screen reading easier on his eyes.

The tech blogging space seems so pro-Mac / anti-Vista these days. Talk about walking around with a bullseye on your back. 😉

Check out The GUIdebook

August 1, 2007


If you’re interested in screenshots, icons and splash screens of various GUI’s over the years from GeoWorks, Amiga Workbench, CDE, NextStep, BeOS, OS/2, Windows, Mac and others, check out GUIdebook.org. While the front page notes a last update of Oct/06, I still found plenty of good images, and info on the development of various GUI systems.

The navigation on the site tells me that they were planning (or maybe are still planning) to provide a very wide breadth of information on GUI’s and OS’s from timelines to graphics and news. There are a quite a few areas to explore, but naturally some areas are thin on information as you might expect. A nice find anyway though.

One GUI I couldn’t find on the site was the old OpenWindows desktop (a piece of which is shown above). I used this desktop during graduate school for my thesis which dumped me into the deep end of C programming, make files and gcc. Nevertheless the OpenWindows desktop (and unix in general) seemed like a revelation to me at the time (just previous to the launch of Win95). Very high resolution – for that time – and a desktop capable of really multitasking made me frown when I went back to my apartment where I was running Windows 3.11 at 800×600 and bombing around the Compuserve forums using OzWin.. 😉

LIC – do you have it?

May 28, 2007

Penguin Pete outlines the symptoms of LIC (the Linux Insecurity Complex).

Describing one of the typical symptoms, Panic Attacks (thinking about how MS will sue Linux out of existence), Pete writes,

“You could drop nuclear bombs on every Linux user on the planet, but you’ll miss at least one server housing the source code, to be found by some future archaeologist, and there it will go spreading again. Linux is creeping charlie. It is rooted too deeply to budge. Why do you think Microsoft is so afraid of it?”

So if you’re a Linux user, you owe it to yourself to read his post and start showing some dignity! 🙂

Ubuntu To Jump Shark – free admission

May 2, 2007

Given the impending news of Dell shipping systems preloaded with Ubuntu, I guess there is no doubt now that Ubuntu has jumped the shark. What’s next? Trying to get Linux slapped on the side of an IRL race car? At this rate, there will be people using Linux who’ve never even compiled a kernel before!

Oh the humanity!

Honestly, I don’t see the march towards free and open source salvation (or disaster depending on your point of view) stopping any time soon either. I’m not going to join the geeky hordes in calling this the ‘Year of the Linux Desktop’ – even though this year it seems somewhat more realistic than the last ten, but looking at the surroundings, it does give you pause for thought.

Some interesting things from my perspective:

1. Free and open source development is not slowing – people not getting directly paid for developing things hasn’t been a major stumbling block to this point.

2. The general public is getting more tech saavy. It doesn’t matter if they are switching to Macintosh. At least they are beginning to realize that there are completely viable non-Microsoft alternatives. While awareness is growing at what seems like a snail’s pace, it is growing – inexorably.

3. If Vista hasn’t been a failure, it sure hasn’t been the runaway success that it needed to be to maintain utter long term dominance.

4. Virtualization may make the choice obsolete. If I can run XP in VMWare, or XP in Parallels on a Mac, then the sacrifice of moving from one platform to another will vanish.

5. The pace is relentless. Who can move faster? Microsoft, Apple or FOSS developers? Doesn’t releasing an OS every 5 years leave you a little hog-tied when technologies rise and fall so quickly? Apple sounds like it is trying to make some big steps with Leopard. It has to. I haven’t heard of one thing in Vista that could be considered a big step ahead. Linux will undoubtedly scramble, catch up and likely surpass Apple’s best efforts within a year anyway. Such is the tenacity of riled up developers when the gauntlet is thrown.

6. Free and open-source software is empowering the people who make and do interesting things. Open vs. closed models is becoming the big debate more and more often. Witness Silverlight v. Adobe.

7. If you can succeed as wildly as Ubuntu has, with a default brown theme, you can do just about anything! 😉

So the shark-jumping is not the end. It’s hopefully only the beginning.

Doc spells out the next challenge for Linux

April 20, 2007

Leave it to the inimitable Doc Searls to frame the bigger picture when it comes to Vista, OS-X and Linux. His recent Linux Journal article is definitely a worthy read, offering up the possibility that we’re reaching for the wrong prize entirely. Here’s a couple of snippets:

A few weeks ago I was talking with folks who worked inside one of the large hardware OEMs. Somewhere in there they told me about their “Linux strategy”. I told them they needed a “Linux strategy” about as much as a construction company needs a “lumber strategy”.

If you’re going to have a Linux strategy, make that strategy about getting past an OS-bound view of the world. Because the big difference between Linux and Windows is that you can build anything you want with Linux. With Windows you can only build what Microsoft lets you build.

And it doesn’t end there:

The Linux community also has to get past the belief that Linux is mostly an alternative to other OSes. The Windows vs. Mac choice is between two silos that both do their best to lock customers in and maximize the dependencies of developers on proprietary platform SDKs and the like. Linux is not an alternative to any platform. It is an alterative to platforms themselves. It is the path to an open marketplace, not just another silo.

An article full of smart, thought-provoking ideas, and not aimed at the typical Linux zealot either. Give it a read right here.

Linux vs Vista

February 1, 2007

If your interested in Vista vs. Linux comparisons, Earl Moore at Meandering Passage sent me a link to an ongoing series of articles over at eWeek. Thanks Earl!