GNU/Linux is getting bigger and bigger. Microsoft’s recent patent threats are definitely helping GNU/Linux to gain mainstream popularity. Unfortunately, new users are often confused by why they should actually use GNU/Linux, and how to go about the transition. Hopefully, this article will fill that gap!
Well, I suppose I’ve had a (not quite so) brief hiatus from blogging, and it’s time to come back into the fold.
I’ve been looking for a good GNU/Linux thin-client for my employer, a school district in the US. We have scores of aging desktops (primarily Intel PII 350 MHz and PIII 800 MHz systems) and looking more into the mobile arena for most computing needs. We currently utilize Citrix’s MetaFrame Presentation Server for most client applications, so we could substitute the current Windows XP OS for GNU/Linux.
OpenOffice.org is probably the biggest free software project in existence today. It certainly is the biggest single piece of software one can download and compile in one go, with the core package hitting over the 100MB mark (while bzip’d) and the total sources going over 200MB.
It directly competes with Microsoft Office, is a bit more easy to install than KOffice, and is very complete.
But what will you get?
GNU/Linux is the most popular operating system built with free/open source software. However, it is not the only one: FreeBSD is also becoming popular for its stability, robustness and security. In this article, I’ll take a look at their similarities and differences.
One of the biggest navigational issues with any operating system is using program menus. Windows users have to open the Start Menu, scan for the program, realize that the program is probably in the subfolder under the programmer’s name, scan the appropriate subfolder, and then click on the program’s icon. Macintosh users must open Finder, find and click on the Applications folder, and then search for the program’s name. GNOME and KDE users have an advantage: they have categories in their respective Applications and K menus.
By now, almost everyone who has a computer has heard about something called “Linux”. Usually, what they hear goes something like this—“Well, Linux is free, but it’s very difficult to use. Don’t try it unless you’re a computer expert”. There is also generally talk about how “Linux” is incompatible with equipment like digital cameras, printers, and games. In short, “Linux” is generally thought to be a free but experts-only operating system. Fortunately for those of us who aren’t computer experts, almost all of these “facts” about “Linux” are completely wrong.
When considering moving a Small to Mid-size Business (SMB) client over to GNU/Linux or talking to someone who is considering the same, there frequently is a “but” somewhere during the process. The hesitation is one that is rarely talked about, or one that I have rarely heard; the lack of specialized applications from Independent Software Vendors (ISVs).
So, you've made the choice to try a GNU/Linux distribution or distro and have completed the installation. But now what? While doing some spring cleaning on my desk, I came across the notes from my last distro installation. Here are the key tips that made my last transition from Windows to GNU/Linux easier.
People are real creatures of habit, aren’t they? It’s true, change is a stressful thing. There are all those statistics that say events like divorce and moving house are as stressful as a death in the family. However, none of those stress therapists ever predicted the suffering that it seems thousands of people are slogging through at this very minute, mouths forced open in silent screams of distress... the stress of switching from trusty, faithful first wife XP to that slinky young blonde upstart Vista. Who knew something so desirable could be so high maintenance?
Free software advocates, including myself, like to pontificate about how free software is a good business model. We like to hold up companies like Red Hat and show them off like a bright cliff-top lighthouse that shows the way to profitable free software. And, in passing, we like to name-drop companies such as IBM, HP, Oracle and Sun, rabbiting on about how they are all benefiting from a free software model. However, each of those four companies have closed products that are cash cows, the only truly 100% (ish?) free software oriented company being Red Hat. How much of a broad successful business model is free software in fact? Does it really work in real life? Ask no further, for I am about to put to the test that which myself and others have been advocating for years...
All my previous posts were pretty much technical in essence, and several were related to my work habits: 3D desktop productivity enhancements, virtual machines, etc.
This time, I’ll go back to something else entirely: GAMES!
The interview with Mark Shuttleworth in which he answers the questions sent in by all of you has finally been released after a few delays. Read on for more information!
In the interview, available at Questions Please..., Mark covers a wide range of topics including the possibility of a completely free Ubuntu release on the time frame of feisty+1 - he also lets us know a quick tip on how to install any current Ubuntu release without any of the proprietary blobs!
With the bickering about what Dell will and won’t do to provide Linux on their desktop machines, it seems to me there’s a much easier way to introduce GNU/Linux into the world. Scrap it!
The answer to that question is probably not, though the thought had crossed my mind. In a way they already have done in a small way, they have given Novell approximately a quater's worth of net profit in return for what appears to be a cut of all Open Enterprise and SUSE Linux sales. Although no shares have changed hands, this, in itself, seems to me to be a kind of "virtual" company sale. This is even not considering the palaver regarding the patent covenants....
You never forget your first.
Whether it's your first car, or your first significant other, or your first day of college, they say you never forget your first. That's not always true, of course, but I do remember my first: Softlanding Linux Systems, one of the earliest GNU/Linux distributions, and progenitor of the Slackware distribution. It came on a few dozen floppy images, and took forever to install.
Jump into the Astonishing GNU/Linux Time Machine, and via the magic of qemu and iBiblio, you too can experience the earliest days of GNU/Linux. It'll only take an hour. I'll have you back by supper.
Mark Shuttleworth is going to be the next guest on my podcast where the idea is that YOU are the ones who ask the questions. To make this work we need your questions: send them in to firstname.lastname@example.org or read on for more contact information.
Deciding to follow my own New Years advice, I updated my version of Mozilla suite. The Mozilla suite has now been renamed Seamonkey for reasons which will not be discussed in this blog, and while I was installing it, I decided to install the flash plugin even though it is non-free.
“A crass, purblind,....featureless heap of gangrened elephant’s sputum.” Who said that and about what? Linus Torvalds describing the state of Windows coding? No. The Samba team’s opinion of the Microvell deal? Nope. Richard Stallman’s view of patents and the DRM? Nope, not that either. Give up? Alright. It was that splendid old curmudgen Kingsley Amis venting his considerable spleen on the (approximately) Eleventh-Century heroic epic, Beowulf (which I managed to avoid in my three year English degree. Phew!). Apologies to any lovers of ancient epic literature out there.
It's a little too late for yet another New Year's resolution list. So here is a list of ten ways to take over the world, GNU/Linux style. Taking small bites and a gradual takeover is a decent goal for Linux in 2007. With the lukewarm reception of Microsoft Vista, GNU/Linux is in a better position than ever to be the migration target. No need to purchase a new system just to run eye candy.
In no particular order here is what you can do.
While amidst yet another frustrating exercise in Windows XP I thought; What if Microsoft got a clue?