Archive for the ‘vista’ Category

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.

Free Image Hosting at

Blogged with Flock

Microsoft, Apple and the inevitability of openness

September 25, 2007

Tom Raftery thinks that Microsoft will Open Source Windows (or die!). While I agree with Tom that open source is a better model in a lot of ways, I’m not sure if any of them appeal to Redmond.

I don’t think Microsoft will ever open-source Windows. Not because it wouldn’t make for a faster moving, better product, but it forces Microsoft to lose something they hold quite dearly… control. Interestingly, Apple has banked on ‘control’ even more heavily and are reaping rewards from it (for now anyway).

Tom writes about the benefits of open source:

“With open source development, you are getting the “Wisdom of Crowds” –
the more people involved in the development, the better the end-result”

There are a *lot* of people who would disagree with that statement, although I’m not necessarily one of them. One of the problems with open source development is the scattering of resources and lack of focus. In my opinion it is a good thing to have a BDFL (benevolent dictator for life) type of arrangement within an open source project. Design by committee doesn’t always work too well when it comes to making a better product for the consumer. You need to have someone with focus (like Mr. Jobs at Apple), but without all the pomp and circumstance.

It is interesting to watch the Apple model. They try to lock you in at
every step. And while that keeps me away from Apple, I have to say, it
makes things work a lot smoother for them. They design software for
their device and nothing else. They have a focused design philosophy
which is envied by a lot of people. Is it always the best design? Not
in my opinion. But it does make for consistency.

One point Tom makes that I’ve always felt is more powerful than a lot of people realize is:

“In open source projects the code is written by people who self-select for jobs they have an interest/skillset in”

You have people who are doing things because they enjoy them. They’re specialists by default. Imagine having your workplace filled by people who all want to be there. Who all want to make the best stuff they can. This is what can make for a better product. It also makes for stubborn people who won’t just give up. That is why open-source is not going away any time soon.

I think the growth of the open-source philosophy is inevitable. Apple can try as it might to produce finely designed and overpriced products that lock you into their system. Microsoft can keep heading down the road to forced upgrades that nobody really wants or needs. There is simply nothing compelling to me about either company’s products. But still open-source marches on. And not just on the Linux front. Look at Google. Look at OpenOffice. Look at Firefox. Look at Flickr. It ain’t going away, and it ain’t slowing down. And neither Redmond, nor Cupertino can stop it.

While I don’t think Microsoft will open-source their OS, they had better wake up and do something soon before they become even more irrelevant.

Blogged with Flock

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. 😉

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.

Vista Speech Recognition .. er.. Demolition

February 20, 2007

You may or may not find this video funny. Personally, my ribs were absolutely aching after about 4 minutes.

Perl Scripting With Vista Speech Recognition

I’ve always considered myself to be a patient person. But for me, the test would have been over within about 20 seconds… 🙂

“Delete lower case open the helpful…”

Vista DRM – Educate Yourself

February 1, 2007

Sticking to the Vista-ish nature of a few previous posts, here’s a link to New Zealand Computer Science researcher Peter Gutmann’s paper “A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection”. It spells out in great detail the potentially crippling nature of Vista’s DRM system.

While this is potentially good news for the Linux community (the more Vista sucks, the better for us – at least on the face of it), the section on the potential elimination of open-source hardware support is very worrying.

In any case, if you’re at all into finding out what DRM limitations are present in the newest version of Windows, you should give it a read.

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!

Enough With The Insane Beryl Demos Already!!

January 31, 2007

It’s no secret that I run Linux. More specifically I run Ubuntu 6.10 and use Beryl. I’m quite happy and satisfied with it.

Now since Vista has launched, can somebody point me to a good demo video touting it’s interface features? While you’re at it, please provide a link to a good video demo of the OS-X desktop.

W-w-what the hell? – you might ask. Why would I ask for these things?

I’ll tell you why. I believe that Beryl and Linux can provide at least the equal of the visual desktop experience of Vista or OS-X (and with much lower hardware requirements). Compiz and Beryl have come so far so quickly in their development that it’s hard to imagine they won’t surpass the capabilities of the other two in fairly short order. But here’s the rub:

Almost every Beryl demo I’ve seen cited on Digg and other sites has been a mish-mash of anime wallpaper, speedmetal and hyperfast cube-spinning and window switching. I’d like to be able to show a co-worker or friend a well produced demo of the actual practical capabilites of the Linux+Compiz/Beryl desktop without resorting to the goth-wallpapered, death-metal soundtrack demos I see all over the place.

What better way to convert would-be Vista or OSX users than by offering real-world high production value demonstrations similar to those produced in their own camps. Let’s make the demos match them not only in capabilities, but in taste and style as well. It’s hard to argue when you can demonstrate the same functionality.

Burning menus down in flames or exploding title bars might be neat, but they don’t exactly bolster the argument for our side.

Anybody got any OS-X or Vista demos they care to hold up as shining examples of what a desktop OS should be?

Or of course, if you can point me to a Beryl or Compiz video that already does this, all the better.

Underwhelmed But Happy About It

January 31, 2007

Earl Moore is underwhelmed by the relatively quiet launch of Vista. Actually I haven’t been paying much attention to Vista simply because I’m almost well and truly Linux-ized (is there actually a term for that? – there should be..)

However I did know about it since I caught 5 minutes of CNN this morning where Miles O’Brien talked a bit about it, showing an interview clip with Bill Gates and discussing it very briefly with their financial guy. I shook my head a little and chuckled when Miles ended the segment by stating that a lot of people were saying that Vista brought the Windows desktop experience up to OS-X standards and perhaps more importantly ended off with the comment that people could upgrade to Vista or “just get a Mac”. I betcha Microsoft PR was just gleeful hearing that comment this morning. 😉

I also had a couple of co-workers discussing Vista with me today. Of course I took the opportunity to nod repeatedly – yes it looks quite flashy… yes it supposedly requires lots more hardware power… yes it supposedly really cracks down on pirated applications and media.. ever heard of Linux?… I actually run it at home…yes it is actually free…

The impression I get is that while Vista will be no outright failure (it’ll be installed on virtually every PC you buy) there are more and more Linux and Mac types who will have more and more conversations with their non-techie co-workers and friends just suggesting (not pushing it down their throats) that there *are* alternatives out there. My feeling is that while MS is not ceding it’s king of the hill status any time soon, the earth is slowly eroding under their feet. It may take a long while, but I think it is happening right now.

Combine all those water cooler conversations with the fact that the OS itself might be of diminishing importance as more and more services reside on the net irrespective of OS. The resurgence of gaming consoles at the expense of PC-based gaming also makes switching from Windows to something else significantly easier.

The fact that the launch didn’t seem to generate much fanfare only bodes well for the future in my mind. It would be nice to see some real market competition in OS’s again.