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Unpacked and back, but Microsoft is still here

July 19, 2011 Leave a comment


OSCON 2011
Next up: OSCON. Get there if you can, and give them my regards because I can’t make it this year :-(

For those few of you who might have missed this blog, I do apologize. As many of you know, I have moved about three miles down the road to beautiful downtown Felton, about a half-mile south of the traffic light on Highway 9 — say it with me: “That enough directions for Felton.” It has taken me fairly close to a month to unpack and sort out the new place; unpacking included taking things out of boxes, asking “Do I really need this?” And then putting away what I do need and taking what I don’t to the Abbot’s Thrift Store down the street.

But enough about me.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols recently wrote a piece on ZDNet that has caused some brouhaha in Linux and FOSS circles. It’s a classic tempest-in-a-teapot issue: Microsoft — horrors! — is one of the top five corporate contributors to Linux kernel development and, if you just read the headline, it implies that Microsoft is fifth on the list top contributors.

Well, to paraphrase Paul Harvey (you’ll have to google him, kids), here’s the rest of the story: Microsoft is fifth on the list of corporate contributors to the Linux kernel and 15th overall on the list. They’re behind Red Hat, Intel, Novell and IBM on the corporate list, and 15th overall.

While SJVN aptly outlines the scenario which causes Microsoft to come to the table — virtualization — what is not said, but stands out, to me is that between the four corporate contributors ahead of Microsoft and the 15th overall position that Microsoft holds are 10 non-corporate contributors to the kernel, meaning for all intents and purposes, individuals who are working for the greater good and not for some corporate benefit that Linux provides.

I have not had a chance to see the original article on Linux Weekly News from which SJVN bases his column, thanks to not having a subscription. But I would be interested to see who and what is ranked where.

[Also, I'm not going anywhere near remotely bringing up where Canonical is on the list of corporate contributors to the Linux kernel. Uh uh. Not me. No way.]

Of course the FUDmeisters are spinning this for all it’s worth – Stop the presses! Microsoft a top Linux kernel contributor! — but SJVN puts it all in perspective and while it’s certainly decent of the corporate giant from Redmond to help improve Hyper-V and Linux interoperability, it’s not a sign of the apocalypse by any matter of means.

However, as one comment to SJVN’s post points out, you don’t turn your back on a coiled snake.

Watch this space, as well as that snake.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

[FSF Associate Member] (Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)
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Looking back, looking ahead

December 29, 2010 3 comments

Now that I have finally disengaged myself from the what is commercially and socially — and for some, spiritually (and God bless you, every one) — known as “the holiday season,” I have been giving a lot of thought to how good a year 2010 was, the Sun purchase by Oracle and the Novell deal notwithstanding, and what 2011 has to offer.

It looks like 2011 will be the year of the Linux deskt . . . I’m sorry, what? Oh. Well, never mind. Let’s skip that one

Looking back at 2010, most recently we had both Russia and Cuba going to FOSS, which must prove Steve Ballmer right about Linux being Communist. After all, I think a young Linus Torvalds was able to see Russia from his house a lot better than Sarah Palin could from Wasilla. Meanwhile, Red Hat — oh, what’s in a name anyway, comrade? — became poised to be the first billion-dollar Linux company and stats show that they are gaining market share in the corporate server world. Go, Shadowman! And there’s that little green space cadet Android making gains in the various markets where it now works. So despite an Apple/Microsoft shell company buying Novell and the other — and more evil — Larry essentially killing open source at what was once the Camelot-esque Sun, 2010 was a good year.

Of course, 2010 would not be complete without the introduction of Chux, the Linux distro developed by Chuck Norris — A Linux designed by Chuck Norris would require no backups, as it would be too scared of Chuck to fail, and the CPUs run faster to get away from Chuck Norris. You don’t boot it, it boots you. Go here to take a look here.

What would I like to see in 2011? Glad you asked. What would be nice would be:

Digital pundits not saying that 2011 is the year of the Linux desktop, because it’s won’t be. And that’s OK. Believe me, until this year when the San Francisco Giants won the World Series, I know the “wait-’til-next-year” drill very well. The year of the Linux desktop will come someday — as it should — but with all the advances Linux is making in server and smaller formats — yes, I’m looking at you, Android — we don’t have to put all our eggs in that basket to determine Linux a success. We don’t have to thump our proverbial chests and say “this year . . . the desktop,” and then when the end of the year rolls around and it isn’t, there’s not a whole lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth. To say nothing of garment-rending . . . . The fact of the matter is that Linux and FOSS are as healthy as they have ever been, Novell and Sun sale notwithstanding.


Go to the show: Linux shows and expos are popping up all over, so you really have no excuse in 2011 not to go to one. The established ones, like the Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE 9X this year) and OSCON, are now being joined by a whole host of other events throughout North America. Most recently, Indiana gets its own Linux festival in March, aptly titled the Indiana Linux Fest. It joins, in order of appearance (off the top of my head — and forgive me if I forget your expo), SCALE, Linux Fest Northwest, COSSFest in Calgary, Texas Linux Fest, Southeast Linux Fest (in the GNU South), OSCON, Ohio Linux Fest, and Utah Open Source Conference. You’ll find me at SCALE, Linux Fest Northwest, COSSFest (hopefully — if they let me out of the country), OSCON and Utah Open Source Conference on an annual basis.

Oh, and one more thing: Lindependence 2011 will be held in early July, around Independence Day, in Felton, California — where Lindependence started a couple of years ago.

Last, but certainly not least:

Large distros carrying their weight in the FOSS realm: First it was the GNOME study by David Neary that had Red Hat, Novell and others carrying the developmental mail for GNOME — Red Hat and Novell with 10-plus percent each — while Canonical came in at, wait for it, 1.03 percent. Fine. That’s been hashed out already both on these pages and elsewhere. But the Linux Foundation released its annual report on Linux kernel development late in the year — go ahead and get the PDF file here — and while you’re at it, you might want to do a search for Canonical to see how often it shows up. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t. And I’m just going to leave it at that, hoping that Canonical and/or Ubuntu shows up on next year’s report.

Let’s all have a great 2011.

[FSF Associate Member] (Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
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Pass the coffee

June 14, 2010 3 comments

Monday mornings are not as toxic to me as to others, to hear them tell it. In fact, I have a healthy indifference to Mondays; on a work-week landscape where my first day of the work week at the newspaper is a Thursday, Mondays essentially are my “Fridays.” All of which is to say, that’s not so bad.

Still, coffee would be nice, and while sipping a Kona blend, we can review some of the recent past’s events and articles, like . . .

It’s dead, Jim . . . finally: Novell came up the winner in the SCO case, according to Groklaw, and it looks like this is the end of the line for a one-time tech company turned litigation machine. Judge Ted Stewart ruled that Novell’s claim for declaratory judgment is granted; SCO’s claims for specific performance and breach of the implied covenant of good fair and fair dealings are denied. Denied. Did I mention it was denied? Also SCO’s motion for judgment as a matter of law or for a new trial: denied. Deeee-nyed! So that’s game, set, match. Also, on a personal note, as a MoFo — as in a Morrison & Foerster alum, having worked for the firm in Tokyo — I have to say I’m proud of their work in this case.

Well, duh! Chapter One: Dell, which offers Ubuntu (if you want to wait for it — more on this in a minute), gives those thinking about ordering an Ubuntu machine some reasons for making the switch. While those ordering Ubuntu Dells wait — ask me about ordering one for a client and getting a shipment date in about a month, versus a few days for an identical Windows machine — they can take a look at Number 6 on this list: Ubuntu is safer than Microsoft Windows. You think? Sheesh.

Well, duh! Part Deux: What’s the weak link in the national security in relation to cyber war? Easy question, according to a recent ars technica article: Microsoft Windows. Richard A. Clarke’s new book, “Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About It,” is still making quite a splash. A quote from the article: “While it may appear to give America some sort of advantage,” Cyber War warns, “in fact cyber war places this country at greater jeopardy than it does any other nation.” The enormous dependence of our financial and energy networks on the ‘Net open us up to potentially devastating online attacks. “It is the public, the civilian population of the United States and the publicly owned corporations that run our key national systems, that are likely to suffer in a cyber war.” Yep, that sounds like Microsoft Windows all right.

What’s that? The sky is falling? It figures that the likes of PC World would take a story involving a relatively obscure IRC server, give said IRC server undue credit for popularity, exaggerate the seriousness of the situation and exaggerate how long it went unnoticed all in one article. But that’s what happened when — HORRORS! — an announcement was made on the Unreal IRCd forum that the Linux version of the popular IRC server Unreal IRCd was contaminated with malware in November 2009, without anyone noticing it. Of course, what the article conveniently fails to mention is that unlike the infections automatically started by the mere presence of Windows, this one had to be downloaded, installed, and configured. That point was glossed over. Another glaring omission: How many in the wild security breaches have there been due to this? I’m not linking to the article — PC World is not getting hits from me — but you can go to LXer and see the article, with responses, if you wish.

I need a refill.

[FSF Associate Member](Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
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More miscellaneous ramblings

May 1, 2010 Leave a comment

In honor of Mailman reminder day — and I know everyone got their monthy reminders today from the various mailing lists that you all belong to — I thought I’d shock everyone by not going six months before blogging again.

Since my mailing list memberships are a smorgasbord of different Free/Open Source Software topics, I’m just going to take this opportunity to catch up on a few — OK, several — topics which I should have touched on over the past few months. Like:

It might work better this way: One day while Mirano and I found we had some time to kill and found ourselves close to a Best Buy (lucky us), we got to give the iPad a try. As some of you know, my distaste is legendary for netbooks and any other technology that’s, well, hard to physically handle. Such is the case with the iPad and, at one point, I was unable to clear the screen. So I instinctively shook it like an Etch-a-Sketch, but bear in mind that doesn’t work. Darling daughter came to the rescue, pushing a big-as-life button on the front to get back to the desktop. I still like the prospect of shaking it like an Etch-a-Sketch to bring it back to the desktop, but I am sure that this is not forthcoming from Apple.

Small, but informative: I didn’t comment on this either way, but the MySQL conference earlier this month in Santa Clara — held under the ominous shadow of the purchase of Sun by a huge database conglomerate whose CEO is also named Larry — was a lot smaller than in years past. Nevertheless, it was a pretty informative event. Working the Entrance booth with Tod Landis and Chris Busick, a few laps around the floor garnered an education in the latest database developments — but don’t ask me to repeat them. It was great to see MariaDB’s Kurt von Finck once again, as well as to talk to the MariaDB folks about their project, now that MySQL may be in peril.

The definition of insanity . . . : SCO’s at it again. They lost by judge (Dale Kimball’s summary judgment ruling) and they lost by jury just recently. Groklaw reported last week that SCO is behaving in the same way expecting a different result by filing papers that, according to The Register’s description, “saying the jury hearing its case over whether SCO owned the Unix copyright, and that found for Novell last month, was either too stupid, too confused or too distracted to grasp the compelling power of its evidence.” Puh-leeze.

Visiting an old friend: When I first converted to FOSS back in 2006 (has it been that long?), I was a regular visitor to Distrowatch; regular visitor as in my morning ritual would include coffee, boot the computer, go to Distrowatch (and then LXer.com), read and sometimes download. I went to the site again for the first time in several months to find it comfortably familiar in look, but with a number of distros I hadn’t heard of before, like Chakra, EasyPeasy, blackPanther, moonOS and ZevinOS, for starters. If ever I have time again, I should download some of them and give them a shot.

More to follow. Watch this space.

[FSF Associate Member](Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
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Coming up in 2009

December 29, 2008 11 comments

A lot has been written so far about what to expect next year — some valid, some not.

But has that ever stopped me from joining the year-end pile-on? Perish the thought.

So here are 10 things to expect in 2009.

Or not.

Remember, objects may be closer than they appear, and your mileage may vary.

10. 2009 will be the year of Linux. But so will 2010, as well as 2011 and 2012. In fact, by 2013, the last pair of eyes on the planet will finally glaze over when a Linux writer proclaims the following year to be the year of Linux, and the more thoughtful pundits will just know that it’s now understood that the next year will be our year, for whatever reason, and they’ll write about something a tad more significant.

9. Fedora 11 will outshine Fedora 10. As hard as it may be to believe — and after a month I still can’t find a flaw with Fedora 10 — Fedora 11 will be an encore performance of what can best be described as a rock-solid distro, even for machines that go back a few years (in my case, a Dell 5000 Inspiron laptop and a Dell Optiplex desktop). Sadly, people will continue to be under the mistaken impression that Fedora is too “cutting edge” for anyone other than the most experienced superuser who might be too lazy to negotiate the Gentoo labyrinth (yes, that’s a gauntlet thrown at the feet of my Fedora colleagues to work next year on dispelling that stupid myth . . . ).

8. The UFC pits Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman against each other in a feature bout. What happens though is not one of those ridiculous near-death experiences for some poor troglodyte who normally gets suckered into the ring, but an epiphany for the entire FOSS community: Stallman and Torvalds meet at mid-ring and circle each other warily. Stallman opens the bout by saying maybe he was a little hasty in demanding GNU be stuck on the front of Linux, but Torvalds comes back with openly welcoming the option of joining the two names. Barriers between open source and free software dissolve. GNOME and KDE advocates embrace in a worldwide “kumbaya.” Planets align. Then I wake up.

7. Zenwalk increases the pace of its development. It becomes Zenrun, and in finding that they can add and release improvements to an already above-average distro at an even faster pace, they rename it Zenfly in 2010.

6. Lindependence comes to Redmond, Wash. The hall is rented, the fliers posted, and the riot police stand at the ready, but they remain wary since they don’t want to repeat the WTO fiasco in Seattle a decade ago. Nevertheless, yours truly — in a tribute to another overweight bald guy in the digital industry — opens the event with an insane onstage monkey dance that also brings him to within inches of a heart attack while Ken Starks unsuccessfully diverts the press’ attention. The Digital Tipping Point’s Christian Einfeldt, however, gets it all on video. Meanwhile, Debian, Fedora, Mandriva, OpenSUSE and Ubuntu reps — along with others who choose to join Lindependence in 2009 — hand out live CDs and demonstrate their distros. Yes, that’s Red Hat’s “Truth Happens” video (click here for Quick Time fans) looping in the background all the while.

5. Mandriva gets in touch with its feminine side. This distro renames itself Womandriva and becomes a more reasonable, nurturing distro, finally dropping the adolescent Mandrake zeitgeist from its early days. The distro’s leadership also realizes what a huge mistake it was to let Adam Williamson go and rectifies that situation, adding a huge bonus to his salary.

4. The Madagascar Penguins join Tux as the Linux mascots. Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and the Private make Tux one of their own in their commando unit. Incidentally — this is true (you can look it up) — on the Madagascar DVD, the penguins provide their own commentary on their scenes. When Private is struggling to operate a computer while taking over the ship, Skipper comments, “What are you doing up there, playing Tetris? You told me you knew Linux, Private!” Just smile and wave, boys, smile and wave.

3. Windows 7 will be worse than Vista, as hard as that may be to believe. This development will result in yet another $30 million Microsoft ad campaign diverting attention from this latest offering. Realizing they picked the wrong Seinfeld character in their first campaign, the ad agency casts Jason Alexander with Bill Gates, making Gates look like the “cool one” in comparison.

2. Everyone joins the Ubuntu family. In an effort not to confuse brand new GNU/Linux users with the daunting tasks of trying to wrap their minds around 350 different distributions, distros give themselves new names: Fedbuntu, Debuntu, openBUNTU, Sabayuntu, Damn Small Buntu, CentBuntu, Dreambuntu, Slackbuntu, Pupbuntu, Mepbuntu, gNewBuntu, among others. Solbuntis and OpenSolbuntis also join the ranks.

1. Linux Foundation’s “I’m Linux” video contest’s winning entry grabs an Oscar. After Apple’s “I’m a Mac” ad campaign, and Microsoft following with a painfully original “I’m a PC” theme, the Linux Foundation garners thousands of entries in its “I’m Linux” video contest. The Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences nominates the winner, which ends up awing those judging and the statuette for Best Short Film goes to the winner.

There are other developments, like the conflicts that the new OpenBSD Christian Edition causes, which may be addressed in a later blog.

Have a happy and prosperous new year.

[FSF Associate Member](Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs HeliOS Solutions West in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right . . . (stuck in the middle with GNU)

July 21, 2007 Leave a comment

The groundswell of FUD lately arguably can be a cause for concern in GNU/Linux circles. Interestingly, one of the tell-tale signs whether that Web-based story you’re reading has all the hallmarks of propaganda, at the least, and more than likely is outright FUD, at the worst, is whether the site is sponsored by your friendly neighborhood Redmond death star.

So while clowns like Kevin Carmony keeps blogging about how he’s “improving” Linux with the help of Microsoft (waiting for the laughter to die down), more FUD makes its way to the ethereal Internet thanks to a new joker by the name of Alexander Wolfe.

Wolfe, whose “Wolfe’s Den” appears as the “Chips, Vista and Advanced Technology” blog on the Information Week Web site (did you notice the word Vista in there?), wrote in the latest installment on his blog that — horrors! — there are too many Linux distros to choose from.

He makes the self-serving pithy observation that, since there are so many distros, that “Linux is a forking mess.” As if we should only have one or two choices in computing, rather than the 300 choices of GNU/Linux distros (and those are the active ones) offer.

That’s because freedom — whether in computing or in the rest of everyday life — is about choice, and it’s unfortunate that Wolfe doesn’t get it. But then, most corporate lackeys beholden to the party line of their corporate masters don’t; or if they do, they wallow in hypocrisy while ignoring the truth.

Wolfe also operates under the false assumption that all GNU/Linux distros are all competing against one another for the attention of the average user. Wrong again, Alex: Needless to say the distros that are business oriented — your Red Hats and Novells — are going head to head to slice up the corporate IT pie. But distros like Puppy and Slackintosh competing for IT departments’ attention? Sorry, chump, even the greenest of GNU/Linux newbies realizes that this isn’t true. Pity you don’t — or refuse to — get it, Alex.

Also, the argument of distro-as-religion (Wolfe quotes an outdated story on Distrowatch.com) gets beaten to a pulp. That may have been the case at one time, but Alex seems to have missed the trend toward “distro polygamy” that permeates the current GNU/Linux zeitgeist. To wit: This blog is being written on a iMac running Xubuntu 7.04; next to it is a PowerMac G3 running Yellow Dog 3.0; across the room are two Dell Optiplex GXa machines — one running Linux Mint 3.0 Xfce and the other awaiting its install of Mepis AntiX (thank you, anticapitalista). So some may be beholden to one distro; many of us aren’t.

When you read something about how too many distros is a bad thing, especially when it’s written by a Vista columnist, you can be sure that propaganda is at the forefront. Please read it accordingly.

[FSF Associate Member](Larry Cafiero, editor/publisher of Open Source Reporter, is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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Dell: "Not so fast, Linux folks"

March 1, 2007 1 comment

Computerworld reported today (March 1) that Dell has decided to put the brakes on their pre-installed GNU/Linux announcement of a couple of days ago. Typical. This, of course, raises a plethora of questions like:

Did they leave out ” . . . just kidding” from their news release? So let me see if I understand this: Being a newbie-with-portfolio to GNU/Linux, I can install — and have installed — and maintain GNU/Linux distros with roughly two-months of hands-on experience with GNU/Linux. So, Dell can’t install any variant of GNU/Linux on their desktops and laptops? Want some help, guys?

Does Dell really believe they have to test GNU/Linux all over again? File this one in the “let’s reinvent the wheel” drawer which — and I know I promised to play nice with Dell, but I can’t — remains consistent with Dell’s legacy of being an industry follower. Dell spokesman Jeremy Bolen says in the Computerworld article that “[W]hen you talk about an operating system, if Dell is going to install it and test it, it takes a lot of work” before getting it ready for the marketplace. Jeremy, pass this on to your buddy, Mike: It’s not like GNU/Linux is fresh out of the box — we’re reaching the two-decade point of the operating system’s existence fairly soon. Those years are involved with a lot of development, incidentally, which makes GNU/Linux the operating system that, gee, Dell seems to think highly of at the moment. Of course, this “ready for the marketplace” nonsense begs another question.

Does Dell really think there aren’t enough GNU/Linux wonks out there to hire/steal/cajole for tech support? One of the reasons given for what is turning out to be a world-class balk by Dell is that they don’t have training and support in place. That’s fair. So what’s the problem there? Go to any list like LinuxQuestions.org or LXer.com or my Internet hangout, DistroWatch.com, and the experts are there.

This is beginning to look like Dell biting off more than they can chew and starting the world-class backpedaling for which they pay their PR people those high fees. Either this, or the call came down from Redmond . . . .

[FSF Associate Member]

Categories: Dell, linux, Novell SUSE
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