28 July, 2008

25 July, 2008

Richard's Dream

An open book on the subject of freedom.

The book is entitled "Free as in Freedom", and is an interesting read about the hacker who started it all; computer ethics, software freedom, freedom of choice, open standards, open sharing of computer knowledge...

 RMS (Internet alias) is both loved and hated in the open source and free software camps. He has strong beliefs, and does not compromise about his 'freedom'.

MIT AI lab hacker; Richard M. Stallmann's crusade for free software.

"Unquestionably, one of the great seminal figures of the hacker culture"
-- Eric Raymond, open source evangelist and author of "The Cathedral and the Bazaar"

21 July, 2008

Linux, a disruptive technology?

I really like articles focusing on the disruptive force of Open Source and Linux ;P

The unknown, emerging from nowhere, taking on the big guns. Most of the big multi-national corporations are even beginning to realize the potential and cost-effectiveness of the systems available, and also it's insanely huge userbase. So it does not seem like Linux is going to be squeezed out of the market at first, due to it's superb' portability, stability and cost-effectiveness.

(Click the post-title for the original article.)

10 July, 2008

Operating Systems & area's of use

I'm getting quite fed up about reading articles discussing and comparing GNU/Linux, Windows and Mac OS X. A lot of the people writing these articles are missing the big picture. The systems are NOT similar, they are NOT based on any same principal or guideline what-so-ever...

Now, just to mention it; yes, they ARE based off some common UI (User Interface) guidelines. Most Operating Systems dating before the 80s did not incorporate any graphical user interface.

If you have seen the TV-movie "Pirates of Silicon Valley", you know that the whole GUI-idea was a rip-off from Xerox in the early 80s. As was the mouse peripheral device. A lot of the standards we enjoy today, were at first experimental projects at big companies that weren't all that comfortable about releasing any new technology, thinking it wouldn't appeal to the computer industry which had a reputation of being very conservative since the 70s.

To clear up about these different systems:

GNU / Linux:
Was developed as a hobby project by a software engineer student from Finland; Linus Torvalds. It was never supposed to become as big as it has. This is mostly thanks to the many computer hobbyists, gamers, professors, nerds and geeks around the world that endorsed development of an Open Source Operating System. For those of us that DO understand computers enough to be able to use a POSIX-system on a regular basis, it was a matter of choice: do we want a system that tells us what we need, can have or do? *OR* do we want a system that gives us the opportunity to do whatever we want? and even gives us the ability to modify/improve any part of the system at will?

GNU/Linux is, and will still be for some time; a system for specially interested.

MS Windows / Mac OS (X):
Were developed as alternatives to IBM's business systems that were dominant at the time. Most computer systems at the time were very expensive "business machines". UNIX mainframes and super computers running at universities and big companies.

But in the latter part of the 70s and early 80s, Bill Gates from Microsoft, and Steve Wozniak from Apple Computers realized that normal people could benefit from owning a personal computer.

Steve began developing an affordable computer machine in his garage. While Bill Gates and fellow MS-colleague Paul Allen were buzy rolling out their founding product "Altair BASIC". When Steve Wosniak and Steve Jobs revealed their machine at a local computer convention, Bill and Allen were gobsmacked. Someone had beat them to the punch. After setting up a meeting with Apple Computers, they *borrowed* the GUI and peripheral device technology, and basically did what a lot of people accuse GNU/Linux communities of doing now; copying the user interface and input technology that had landed Apple on the map.

Both companies were basically trying to do the same thing; bring a business-only solution to the consumer masses. Only, they stepped on each others toes in the process. Not to mention quite a lot of commercial sabotage and espionage.

Today though, the companies have different goals. And Microsoft owns quite a large part of Apple.

Apple changed their focus from being just a personal computer manufacturer, to become something of a cult icon instead. Bringing the movie, music and image industries together to worship the Apple Macintosh as the de-facto standard for audio/visual compositioning and editing.

Microsoft on the other hand paved along with their same goal of putting personal computers in the hands of the common man. Succeeding in having almost 90% of all computers running a MS product to this very day.

To quote a software engineering friend:

"Most of the average users I know would rather buy a new PC than upgrade Windows"
This says a lot about how normal computer users want to get their hands dirty with software handling. Most people get others to do it for them, or they do as quoted above. How things work, and how they should be set up, are not appealing to most non-tech-savvy people.

So it's not a question of which is better than the other. They have different areas of expertise, and so also different areas of usage.

To quote once more from my friend:

"The average consumer just wants to be able to pop a CD into his optical drive, wait 10-15mins and have a working system."
With popular open source operating systems, this is not actually an idiot-proof option yet. You still have to know what an MBR is, what a bootloader does and have some basic knowledge about different filesystems.

You really have to pocess a fair amount of advanced computer handling knowledge to be able to install a *nix-system on your PC. Let alone getting it working without any headaches or special considerations.

There ARE user-oriented Linux distributions which simplify a lot of the administration-tasks when maintaining a Linux-box. But these are usually quite bleeding-edge compared to older (matured with rock-solid stability) distro's, and tend to be buggy and unstable.., unless, you have prior experience handling difficult Linux-boxes / POSIX-systems like I have ;P

*nix = general acronym for POSIX-based operating systems (UNIX,Linux,BSD,Solaris).