I have been a Microsoft defender for decades. “No, MS-DOS 4.0 isn’t really that bad,” I pleaded to friends almost 25 years ago. “Give Windows 98 a chance” I begged ten or 11 years later. Heck, I extolled the virtues of Vista (which I did believe in, by the way) to anyone willing to listen. But in the wake of last week’sintroduction of the Consumer Preview edition of Windows 8, I can say only this: Microsoft, you’re on your own.
Never — and I’m going to repeat this for additional emphasis, never – have I been as horrified by one of the company’s products as I am by this one. (Yes, I used Microsoft Bob.) Every choice seems to have been made for a sketchy reason, and the full collection of them bears the haphazard feel of the morning after a particularly raucous college party. Scratch that: Even at my most inebriated, I’m pretty sure I would never conceive of something like Windows 8.
You have to give Canonical, Ubuntu Linux’s parent company credit for thinking big. Today Canonical is unveiling Ubuntu for Android. What is in the world is that? It’s bringing the Ubuntu Linux desktop to to multi-core Android smartphones docked with a keyboard and monitor. With it, Canonical claims you’ll be able to use Android on the phone and Ubuntu as your desktop, both running simultaneously on the same device, with seamless sharing of contacts, messages and other common services.
The company states that the phone experience will be pure Android–it’s a normal Android phone. When the device is connected to a computer screen, however, it launches a full Ubuntu desktop on the computer display. It’s exactly the sameUbuntu Unity desktop many of you are already using and it will include all of Ubuntu’s current applications, from office productivity to photography, video and music.
From its meager beginnings as a hobby project to its extreme success among geeks, Linux has survived lawsuits, boycotts and onslaughts from every corner of the UNIX, Windows and Mac computing markets. Linux has, in spite of its critics, made its way into the world’s data centers. Linux enjoyed early success as a host platform for the Apache web server but now has blossomed into a formidable contender for rack space. For an operating system, Linux has the best mixture of vendor neutrality, open source code base, stability, reliability, scalability and affordability. It also provides the user or administrator the choice of graphical user interfaces or none at all.
Linux has one very significant advantage over all other operating systems: Hardware compatibility. It runs on a variety of hardware platforms from wristwatches to mainframes, although it’s most familiar playing field is on x86 metal.
Plenty of pundits say the cloud runs on Linux. Heck, even Microsoft appears to be gearing up to support Linux in the cloud — sort of. The specifics: Microsoft is preparing to “enable” Linux to run on Windows Azure — though it doesn’t sound like Microsoft will officially offer “support” for Linux on Windows Azure.
The Linux-on-Windows-Azure chatter comes from All About Microsoft, the popular blog penned by Mary Jo Foley. Her sources have been solid over the years; I trust Foley’s reporting.
Ambitious open source projects are nothing new. After all, the free software movement started with the GNU project – the creation of free tools to build a free operating system – which at one point many would have considered an impossible dream.
However, the participants in the Open Source Ecology project take ambition to new heights. The project takes the principles that were developed originally by the open source software movement and later the experiments with open source hardware, and applies them to developing an environmentally friendly society by creating open source tools capable of building sustainable communities – pretty much from scratch, using recycled and scrap materials.
SkypeTab-NG (NG stands for Next Generation) is a tool that adds tabs to Skype for Linux. Besides providing a tabbed chat window, the SkypeTab-NG also embeds both the conversation and the main Skype windows in a single window.
SkypeTab is not new
, but it was recently rewritten, fixing most bugs from the previous SkypeTab
, like the annoying laggy window movement bug. Also, SkypeTab used to only work with Compiz, Openbox and Xfwm but the new version should work with other window managers too, like Kwin, etc (I’ve actually tested it under Kubuntu
11.10 Oneiric Ocelot and it worked just fine).
Now that webOS is all but dead, we’re starting to see not only the end users defect to Android, but developers as well. And one of the more popular webOS Twitter apps is headed this way, too. Carbon, which already is working its way to Windows Phone 7, is coming to Android, developer dots & lines tells Android Central.
It’s currently in the design phase, UX director Saleh Esmaeili tells us. And he also gives us a little bit of insight into why we’re just now seeing Carbon come to Android. In a word (OK, three words): Ice Cream Sandwich. Says Esmaeili:
From the ‘Twist my ARM’ files:
According to some vendors, one of the most exciting new avenues for Linux in 2011 is the ARM architecture.
Ubuntu is all over it and so is HP with their Project Moonshot effort using Calxeda ARM technology. While Ubuntu and HP and optimistic, Red Hat is more…realistic.
I recently had a conversation with Tim Burke, vice president of Linux Engineering at Red Hat – and to make a long story short – his views on ARM are very different than Ubuntu.
“ARM in Linux is not ready for prime time,” Burke said.
However he did not that Red Hat is helping to lead effort to get standards for hardware enumeration and some scalability issues. At presents he just doesn’t see a fit for ARM in the enterprise. He does however see it as being suited for Fedora – at least for now.
Considering the mission critical systems that Red Hat support and the need for certifications, I can see where Burke is coming from. ARM might be a possible future for Linux, but reality is that it’s likely a bit too early for the enterprise. But hey, I’m happy to be proved wrong and it will be very interesting to see what the Calxeda/HP/Ubuntu combination is actually able to deliver in 2012.
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I will start this off by adding, “… with the exception of some wireless chip sets and high end graphics cards.” to appease those of you who will act like Arnold Horshack (1, 2) if that is not mentioned. If there are other unsupported devices on Linux that are supported in Windows 7 feel free to scratch your itch and tell me in a comment.
The concept of better is a subjective idea. What is better to me is possibly, even probably, not better to someone else. In my case, and in the case of some of my clients, Linux hardware support is “better”. I do not buy cutting edge hardware and tend to keep systems and peripherals until they stop working and can no longer be repaired at a reasonable cost. When a new release of my favorite Linux distribution comes out I can be 100% certain that my hardware that works with my current release will still work with the new release. That is something I just take for granted. This is not so in the Microsoft camp.
For those people who hold on to working hardware through new Microsoft versions, their hardware may or may not be supported in a new release of a Microsoft OS. Take the example of a recent conversation I had with the manager at one of my client offices. I will call her “Mrs. B” here. Mrs. B is a Microsoft fanatic and will not even consider switching to Apple, much less Linux. When I mentioned switching to Linux for her office desktop during our conversation she laughingly said, “Gene, you know better than that.”, because we have had that discussion before. This came up in our recent conversation about her HP Photosmart 1115 printer.
Mrs B recently had to purchase a new PC for her office use because her old Microsoft XP Professional based PC died. She bought a cheap, commodity PC with Windows 7 Home Premium installed from an on-line discount store. She did not check whether or not her existing peripherals were supported. Why should she? They worked before, so they should still work. Correct? Not so correct. You see, HP has, for whatever reason, decided to not make drivers for the Photosmart 1115 for Vista, much less Windows 7.