Either it’s a textbook case of CYA or a lack of confidence in the product, but Microsoft and its PC partners are going to allow Windows 7 users to downgrade not just to Windows Vista, but also to Windows XP, (the latter — definitely go with the latter) if they so desire.
So says Mary Jo Foley’s blog on ZD Net yesterday.
Let me see if I understand this: I want to buy a computer with the latest Windows OS on it (when, of course, it’s out) and if it doesn’t, um, “work,” I can always go back to an earlier OS? Am I supposed to be confident in Microsoft’s ability to deliver when they have these provisions?
Isn’t this like being handed a parachute as you get on an airliner, just in case the plane doesn’t, um, “work”?
Fear not, according to the blog: TechARP — the site that broke the still-unconfirmed-but-likely-true report that Microsoft is planning to offer PC buyers a free upgrade from Vista to Windows 7 if they purchase new systems starting this summer — is now reporting that users who downgrade to XP also will be eligible for free Win 7 upgrades via the Windows 7 Upgrade Option program.
Or another solution on your new machine is to run GNU/Linux, but that’s a whole different story.
(Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs HeliOS Solutions West/Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
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.
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.
(Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs HeliOS Solutions West in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
[If you think I don't write enough here, I have a good excuse: I've been blogging at the Lindependence 2008 Felton Diary here. I'll get here when I can.]
I’ve mentioned this before in blogs, but it bears repeating: For years, I have hoped to be a thorn in Dell’s side, the pebble in ol’ Mike’s Gucci loafers about dependability and quality of the machines that came from the Dallas conglomerate.
So when Dell decided to see the light and offer Ubuntu as an OS option, I asked for a nice bearnaise sauce to go with the crow I dutifully, and happily, ate.
Fast forward to late last week, when I helped my commercial neighbor Ron at Long Cabinet Company with the memory on his Dell laptop, it was one of those opportunities to show that what we do, hardware- and software-wise, is not exactly some sort of black magic. In addition, it showed Ron how Dell and Microsoft are working together to make Vista unusable.
Ron’s wife had bought Ron a gig of memory and he asked me to install it. Thanks to Dell — more crow, please — adding memory on the laptops is merely a matter of just removing a panel, popping it in, and putting the panel back on; 60 seconds, tops.
This was the easy part: The harder part, and the part I couldn’t explain other than to say that it’s a huge mistake by both Dell and Microsoft, was trying to justify to Ron how Dell could sell a machine that they said was Vista-ready with “only” 512MB of RAM and how Microsoft could make an “new and improved” operating system that . . . well . . . oh, never mind. In the end, both Dell and Microsoft took a back seat to an explanation of how GNU/Linux doesn’t have the same problems that Ron was experiencing.
One more convert in the making? One can only hope.
(Larry Cafiero runs HeliOS Solutions West in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
For some reason, I can’t recall whether being a student was an incredible chore while I was doing it back in the disco era, or whether things have changed — or I have changed — to make modern-day matriculation a hell of a lot of work.
I would put my money on the fact that I may have lost an intellectual step or two over time.
But studies in general — and a shell script project that is both intriguing and harrowing — have kept me from the hallowed halls of this blog until now; not to mention life in general as well.
But there have been some developments of note over the past several weeks that deserve mention, like
Two Koreas, One Distro: According to this Information Week article, folks in South Korea speak of folks in North Korea more as lost brothers than bitter enemies. Over the years the two have made various rapprochements, but now it looks like North and South are teaming up on a whole new kind of joint project: a Korean-language GNU/Linux distribution called Hana Linux. And the GNU shall lie down with the penguin . . .
Pirates have standards, too: So maybe it’s not just paying customers who aren’t happy with Vista — even pirates are shunning it, according to this blog item. Microsoft gleefully reported Tuesday that the rate of piracy of Vista compared to XP is about half — the mandarins in Redmond claim this is because of their anti-piracy features in Vista — the one that accusses paying customers of being thieves when it doesn’t work quite right — but some of us know better. Pirates have standards, too, and Vis-duh just plain blows on a variety of levels.
[In a related item, 90 percent -- that's 9 out of 10, for those of you keeping score at home -- of IT professionals would rather eat plutonium than foist Vista on their companies. Okay, so I overstate it, but 90 percent of IT professionals have concerns about Vista that are strong enough to shun it, and more are migrating away from Winblows. Don't believe me? Here's the Slashdot article].
Distros I like: The more I use the Fluxbox desktop environment, the more I like it on whatever distro I’m using (oh, and my distro polygamous ways have been documented here and elsewhere — there’s a 12-step program for it somewhere, no doubt) . I have been using Fluxbuntu on a Pentium II and it works pretty well. But more recently, I salvaged a Dell Inspiron 5000e laptop from certain doom at the hands of my employers and have given it a new home and a new distro that I particularly like: Mepis AntiX 7.0, code named Lysistrata (the name enough — from the play of the same name by Aristophanes — is reason to give the distro some attention), which absolutely flies on this machine.
Example: 48 seconds to boot. That’s not a typo — 48 seconds. I’ve never had a computer boot that fast.
More to follow. In the words of the renowned Helios, “All righty then.”
(Larry Cafiero, editor/publisher of Open Source and Free Software Reporter, is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
Steve Ballmer is an world class, Olympic-caliber asshat: Most of us already knew this, of course. But if you’re the CEO of what’s supposed to be the largest software company on this planet, if not the galaxy, shouldn’t you be more concerned about how your newly-released-but-in-the-toilet Vista operating system is (under)performing rather than raising, once again, the laughable specter of suing for patent infringements? Not Steve. Uh-uh. He’d rather talk about how Google reads your mail and how that McCarthyist list of 235 patent violations — which we haven’t seen yet, incidentally — are ready for prosecution. Have you no shame, Mr. Ballmer?
Ken Starks, a.k.a. Helios, is a hero: Most of us already knew this, of course. Apparently, it’s official now, as Carla Schroeder writes here in this LXer.com article praising Ken, whom I am proud to call a brother-in-arms in the FOSS wars, and with whom I am proud to be a partner in flying the HeliOS Solutions flag in the Wild West.
I’m a flake: Most of you already know that, of course (hey, wait a minute . . .). You would think that as editor and publisher of Open Source and Free Software Reporter, I would take the time to meet with OSFSR New Zealand correspondent Penny Leach after she flew all the way to San Francisco — for her work at Catalyst, that is, not to see me (an aside: the days when women would fly great distances to see me are, sadly, long gone — and I’m at peace with that) — but noooOOOooooo. I completely blanked the dates that she was visiting to promote Mahara and Moodle (very cool, check them out), even after recording it on my page at jott.com. My sincerest apologies, Penny. Next time, I promise.
Ubuntu makes it to the NBA, sort of: Tom Krazit, of C|Net, writes here that the Boston Celtics have adopted “ubuntu” as their rallying cry this season. A bunch of 7-foot GNU/Linux users? Not quite. Celtics coach Doc Rivers apparently chose that word “ubuntu” after learning of it while reading about Archbishop Desmond Tutu. For those of you keeping score at home, “ubuntu” has its roots in the Bantu languages of southern Africa as meaning “a philosophy of life that promotes the greater good rather than individual success.” Of course, with the upper case U, Ubuntu is a damn good GNU/Linux distro, and a slam-dunk for anyone using GNU/Linux.
Bonnie Raitt was born to sing ‘Angel From Montgomery’: No, this has nothing to do with FOSS, but there is no one more more suited to sing John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery” than Bonnie Raitt. Period. Don’t take my word for it — see it on YouTube here, and hear a duet with Prine here (note, the latter is not a performance video, but a montage of photos with the duet in the background).
The phone is silent . . . for now: 831-335-7303 is the number for HeliOS Solutions West and for Tux Project in beautiful downtown Felton. When you’re here, don’t forget to grab a cup of joe at the White Raven.
(Larry Cafiero, editor/publisher of Open Source Reporter, is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
If you’re a Vista user, the next two words are for you: “Uh oh.”
If you can get your Vis-duh back up and running — the big “if” in the next couple of days — chances are Microsoft will think you’re a criminal, or at least that’s what your pop-up screen will tell you.
Windows Genuine Advantage has gone down, suffering a worldwide outage causing problems galore, according to this article in Ars Technica. Not only is it down, but if you try to reinstall Vista or WGA, apparently you get a pop up saying that you’re a crook. Don’t believe me? Go to Microsoft’s Windows Vista Validation Issues forum.
Probably the best thread of the bunch starts off with “Everybody just calm down,” and you can see how, in the ethereal environment of the World Wide Web, Vista users are grabbing the pitchforks and torches and going after a guy named JohninTN, whose answer to this, um, problem is for those who spent their hard-earned money on the latest Windows operating system to “go out in the sun” and get away from their computer for awhile.
Whoops. Wrong answer.
Let’s assume for a moment that this is not the official Microsoft position on this, but some techs, according to the Ars Technica story, are telling people that WGA may not be working until Tuesday (Aug. 28).
Maybe going outside is the right answer after all.
Then, after enjoying the day, return to your desk, and if you’re able to use the Internet on your Vista box, you might want to go visit the Ubuntu web site and download the Live CD (or, in the alternative, ask them to send you one. They’ll do it, too).
P.S.: As a footnote, this has happened before . . . .
(Larry Cafiero, editor/publisher of Open Source Reporter, is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
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.