gnu/linux

So is ChromeOS a desktop winner? I think not.

When Google announced their ChromeOS there was a flurry of comment and opinion on what this could mean for the GNU/Linux user and the future of free software. Our esteemed editor, Tony Mobily made a bold statement (albeit framed as a question) at the time that Google's ChromeOS could turn GNU/Linux into a "desktop winner". I'm not sure that it's true.

Whatever happens of course the fact is that when somebody of Google's size and impact enters a market, there will be winners and losers, losses and gains. Now that the dust has well and truly settled let's have another look at the potential impact of ChromeOS.

Linux-based phones : Why are GNU/Linux users treated as second class?

Like many free software users, I am greatly encouraged by the number of mobile phones that are starting to come out running some form of embedded Linux-based OS. Nokia's Maemo and Palm's webOS are shaping up and it seems every day we hear of yet another Android device. All of this is good news, but just how useful are these free software phones to the free software lover? Not as much as they could be it seems.

Make your own Wayback Machine or Time Machine in GNU/Linux with rsnapshot

A good backup system can help you recover from a lot of different kinds of situations: a botched upgrade (requiring re-installation), a hard drive crash, or even thumb-fingered users deleting the wrong file. In practice, though I've experienced all of these, it's the last sort of problem that causes me the most pain. Sometimes you just wish you could go back a few days in time and grab that file. What you want is something like the Internet Archive's "Wayback Machine", but for your own system. Here's how to set one up using the rsnapshot package (included in the Debian and Ubuntu distributions).

Producing a book with Scribus: useful tips

While working on my own book for Apress, Free Software for Creative People, I've also been typesetting a 240 page poetry book by Richard McKane using Scribus, for the publisher Hearing Eye. Years ago I used to use Quark Xpress for this sort of project, so I was pleased to find out that free software can now do the same job.

Debian: contempt for "end user" values has to stop!

Three recent problems with packages in the last stable release of Debian GNU/Linux ("Lenny"), brought me face-to-face with what is still a major obstacle for acceptance of free software on the desktop: contempt for the values of the people who use it. Despite all the accusations of unfair trade practices or other excuses, this remains as one solid reason why free software is still perceived as "geeks only" territory. If we want to progress further, we've got to improve our attitudes.

Debian adopts time-based releases -- somebody check the temperature in hell

You may have seen that the Debian project (my particular GNU/Linux distribution of choice) has decided to schedule fixed time-based releases in future. This has come as a surprise to many -- including possibly some Debian developers -- largely because of Debian's long-standing "we ship when it's ready" policy. So what caused this change of heart and is it a good idea.

Yes Linus, Microsoft hating is a disease. And it's a pandemic

The submission by Microsoft of twenty thousand lines of code to the Kernel has, predictably, caused many an eyebrow to arch. The phrase "beware Greeks bearing gifts" comes swiftly to mind. I checked the press release. I also checked the calendar just to make sure I hadn't fallen into a wormhole and emerged back on April Fools Day. I hadn't. That reaction was probably replicated right across the free software community. Given Microsoft's track record it's hardly surprising. Perhaps what was more interesting was Linus Torvalds' reaction. After all, this is not an inconsequential flame war about using Gnome or KDE.

Why Google Chrome OS will turn GNU/Linux into a desktop winner

A small revolution in the IT world is about to happen, and we are about to witness it. Microsoft Windows' domination has been challenged many times: first by OS/2 (failed), then Apple (failed), then Java and network computing (failed), then GNU/Linux and Ubuntu (failed, so far). And now, Google's Chrome OS. After such a long list of failures, what makes me think that this latest attempt will actually succeed?

There is a list of factors. Let's have a look.

Microsoft's Secret Weapon isn't FUD, it's Inertia

This is a story of hubris, nemesis and very bad language. Mine. We all like to have our egos flattered and I'm no exception, so when two old acquaintances told me their Windows laptops were infected with viruses I knew they were about to put the bite on me. They did. Could I fix them? Well, my vanity was flattered of course but it was to be a salutary experience that got me to thinking about whether it will ever be possible to wean users off Microsoft products.

Rule #3: Divide and Conquer

A constant pattern in the corporate environment is the gathering of resources, but with the free exchange of information inherent in commons-based projects, the pattern of choice is the dispersal of resources. This presents certain design challenges, which manifest themselves in the Unix-style "small sharp tools" approach to specialization; encourage "bottom-up design"; and most importantly require easy-to-obtain, shared, free standards for data interchange between programs. When every train car is to be made by a separate builder, it is essential that the rail gauge is constant and known.

Fighting the "legacy" reputations of GNU/Linux, seventeen years later

Regular readers of this column will know that I'm a fan of education and positive experience as an advocacy tool in place of shouting from rooftops. Winning the mindset of an average computer user -- particularly home users -- is never going to be a quick process but a recent experience showed me we still have some old and familiar hills to climb. How do we combat legacy reputations of GNU/Linux that are no longer valid?

Linux: has the horse bolted?

Richard Stallman wants to popularise the term GNU/Linux instead of using the currently popular term Linux. He correctly states that the term Linux, besides being thoroughly inaccurate, totally fails to introduce new users to the legal and philosophical concepts that underlie the basis of the GNU/Linux OS; but is it feasible to make such a change at this late stage?

Some weeks ago, trolling through prospective articles for Free Software Daily, I encountered a blog, describing the evolution of “Linux”. It was aimed at Newbies. The blog correctly described Linus Torvalds as the creator of the Linux kernel and a few more recent developments, but that was it. No mention was made that Richard Stallman actually created much of what is now called “Linux”, no mention of the GPL, or how it works, no mention of the copyleft legal concept and no mention of other responsibilities placed on users and developers.

All of Richard Stallman's worst fears confirmed in one blog.

Skegness Grammar School, using GNU/Linux and thin-clients across the school

Garry Saddington is ICT co-ordinator at Skegness Grammar School. It is a specialist sports college and a specialist maths and computing college with nearly 800 pupils, and has a boarding provision for around 60. Alistair Crust is responsible for serving the technology needs of the Skegness Grammar School community. All the school's 180 curriculum computers run GNU/Linux. These run as thin-clients using the Linux Terminal Server Project, which uses low power clients with most of the processing being done on fewer, more powerful, servers.

Why sharing matters more than marketshare to GNU/Linux

In a recent article, Ryan Cartwright argued that free software isn't playing the "same game" as proprietary software is. He's right—but that begs the question: what game is GNU/Linux playing?

Thirty years of proprietary software thinking have conditioned us to think that marketshare is a critical measure of success, and so we've convinced ourselves that we have to "win" against Windows in order to "succeed". But this is simply not true. GNU/Linux can be a very great success even if it never achieves more than 1% of the installations in the world. The reason is the difference between "power" and "freedom".

Do we have a "Vista for Dummies" yet?

Ryan Cartwright wrote an excellent article, Don't compare GNU/Linux with Windows or MacOS – they are not in the same game.

I ran across the same blog he is referring to, while gathering potential stories for FSD and my reaction was very similar.

Ryan questions, “I mean how can you tell how many Ubuntu installs came of a single CD?”

Don't compare GNU/Linux with Windows or MacOS - they are not in the same game

Recently a blog post entitled "Why Desktop Linux is its own worst enemy has come across my feed-radar a few times. It's yet another in the long line of "Linux ain't ready yet" jeremiads and it doesn't really say anything new yet it got on my nerves. Why?

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