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Not exactly a confidence builder . . .

April 7, 2009 1 comment

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.

Oh, rapture!

Or another solution on your new machine is to run GNU/Linux, but that’s a whole different story.

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

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Categories: Microsoft, Vista, Windows 7

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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The doctor is in

June 15, 2008 7 comments

[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.

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

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