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Microsoft Announcement February 21, 2008

Posted by rjdohnert in 1.
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So what did Microsoft announce today?  It was a major happening and while it alleviates some of the pressure on developers of Samba and other interoperability solutions it does open up some questions.  Lets go over the announcement.

” Microsoft Corp. today announced a set of broad-reaching changes to its technology and business practices to increase the openness of its products and drive greater interoperability, opportunity and choice for developers, partners, customers and competitors.”

We are Microsoft, all your base belongs to us.  Resistance is futile (c’mon now a little humor)

” As an immediate next step, starting today Microsoft will openly publish on MSDN over 30,000 pages of documentation for Windows client and server protocols that were previously available only under a trade secret license through the Microsoft Work Group Server Protocol Program (WSPP) and the Microsoft Communication Protocol Program (MCPP). Protocol documentation for additional products, such as Office 2007 and all of the other high-volume products covered by these principles, will be published in the upcoming months.”

Translation:  We are working hard to help everyone, not just those with deep pockets , interoperate with our products.  While incomplete we will keep working to bring additional material to help ALL developers.

” Microsoft will indicate on its Web site which protocols are covered by Microsoft patents and will license all of these patents on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, at low royalty rates. To assist those interested in considering a patent license, Microsoft will make available a list of specific Microsoft patents and patent applications that cover each protocol.”

Translation: fothermuckers we will still get paid for our patents but we will make it reasonably affordable.  Not quite a nickel, maybe a bit more.  But now, we will give lists of all our specific patents and hope you all dont run to the patent office and try to get these invalidated.  We are being generous here so dont screw us.

” Microsoft is providing a covenant not to sue open source developers for development or non-commercial distribution of implementations of these protocols. These developers will be able to use the documentation for free to develop products. Companies that engage in commercial distribution of these protocol implementations will be able to obtain a patent license from Microsoft, as will enterprises that obtain these implementations from a distributor that does not have such a patent license.”

Translation:  We wont sue the Samba group, we wont sue the Apache foundation but Sun, Novell, Red Hat, Canonical, Mandriva, IBM and SGI you are under notice we will sue you if you dont pay us  our patent royalties.  We will give anyone the right to license these patents but if you dont, when we sue, dont come crying.

The rest of the announcement basically focuses on how Microsoft will help developers and keep providing documentation but since  the implementation of these protocols in commercial products require a royalty fee I dont think this will fly well with the open source community

 Link to press announcement

Google to fund Wine February 21, 2008

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Specifically to get Windows apps like Photoshop and other software to run well.  Google already uses Wine for Picasa and Google Earth so they are looking to further the relationship.

Link to Blog

I personally think this idea helps not only Linux users but Microsoft and others as well.  With projects like Wine porting is going out the door.  Having to port software is a tedious task and I think Wine will help to alleviate that task.

Wrapping a distro February 21, 2008

Posted by rjdohnert in 1.
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Well, Im closer to becoming a distribution. PC/OS is wrapping up for artwork and functionality. If you have been lucky enough to get a copy stay tuned. Im going to answer some questions here. What users I do have are all happy with the results thus far.

Why start your own distribution?

None of the distributions out there fit me. I would have to spend a couple of hours making the system fit.

Why XFCE and Xubuntu?

I decided not to double my work. I could utilize the Ubuntu system where the developers would provide the updates and kernel fixes and I wouldn’t have to spend what little free time debugging kernel code. I chose XFCE because its very modular. For the server system XFCE went on a diet and I removed everything that wasn’t necessary on a server system and added server specific tools. This could also appeal to other Windows Server and Netware users who want to use a GUI as well as command line tools. XFCE on a client desktop is a good desktop without the overhead of GNOME or KDE. Its got good basic tools and is very simple to modify.

Why the CDE look?

CDE while some may consider it ugly, CDE to me has always had that geek appeal to it. If you dont like CDE there are several themes to choose from and as I said XFCE is customizable in many ways. I’m still wrestling with what look I want.

What sets you apart from the rest and who is your audience?

My target audience are Windows admins and Netware admins who want a good distribution to play with and utilize very quickly or other admins who like me wanted something with all the basic tools and necessities all wrapped up without having to waste time. Users who want a very low learning curve and the ability to “jump right in”.  This will also appeal to Netware users whom like myself, don’t trust Novell  and don’t want to buy into the SUSE strategy.  Will my distribution appeal to the GNU purists? no, its not meant to. I will include Flash, Java and I will include proprietary codec support. I will support Mono.

What development platforms will be included?

Gambas, RealBASIC Standard and Monodevelop.

What will your distribution method be?

Downloads, CD and DVD sales as well as shipping on custom built PC’s. For my side business I already make custom PC configurations and Windows will still be available upon request. Unless otherwise requested PC/OS will be the default install.

When can we expect a beta?

Mid to end March, final version will be released about two weeks after Xubuntu 8.04 ships. I didnt do a public beta because I needed to control the feedback. Instead of screaming from all directions. I have had 3 home users who are using the system and about 12 Linux shops who have deployed it and numerous technical users.

Those are laughable numbers…

I didn’t start this expecting to have the installed base of Windows, Mac or even Linux.

Will commercial support be available?

Yes.

How will you support the community?

1 dollar from all CD sales, 2 dollars from ever DVD sale and 20 dollars from every system will be donated to the Xubuntu community, all contributed code with the exception of kernel code will be released under the BSD license.

When can we get more info?

When the website goes live.

How can I help?

Contribute space for the the ISO images and any user contributed artwork. Any coders who want to help, drop a line.

Microsoft yanks Vista SP1 February 21, 2008

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Why Microsoft is having such a hard time wrangling Vista is beyond me.  The situation is the worst screw-up I have ever seen in my 14 years in tech.

Its not looking good for Vista Im glad Im waiting for Windows 7.

Link to article 

Configuring Samba in Xubuntu and PC/OS February 18, 2008

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This how to goes over setting up Samba server and how to browse Samba shares for Xubuntu and PC/OS which is my derivative of Xubuntu.  Any questions, comments or any further instructions please contact me.

Samba on Xubuntu howto 

SCO is back February 16, 2008

Posted by rjdohnert in Opinions.
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With $100 million dollars and McBride is gone.  While many in the tech community are pissed off, I welcome the news.  If SCO is right, it will be proven, if SCO is wrong, it will be proven.  There has to be a resolution to this and just because one company is on thin ice doesnt bring closure it doesnt resolve anything.

So what about the fact that the judge ruled that Novell and not SCO own the UNIX copyrights?  Well he did, but in the process he violated SCO’s rights..  SCO asked for a trial by jury and they were denied, a trial by jury is the fundamental rights in this country regardless of whether you are white, black, puerto rican, asian, native american, swahili, whatever you are entitled to a trial by jury.  If I killed a roomful of people would I not get a trial by jury?  You are damn right I would.  From my understanding when the judge ruled in that case he didn’t go by the contract, if he did SCO would have Novell dead to rights.  Instead he went by the objectives and the intent of the original deal.  Well I’m sorry if Novells attorneys screwed up and misread that contract.  They signed the deal and the deal was done.  Dont come crrying 13 years later and if Novell is so sure it owns those contracts and copyrights where’s the open sourcing?  Now before I get one idiot who says that, well there are other copyright holders!!!, A) thats true, B) If you have ever read the licensing agreement to UNIX you basically gave up all your rights lock stock and barrel so while an excuse its not a valid excuse.  Novell is full of con artists.  I refuse to do business with them myself and I have a distinct feeling they know soon the rugs going to be pulled out from under their feet.  If the Linux community is hanging their hopes on Novell you guys are fools.

I’m looking forward to the rest of this saga and await a FULL resolution, sooner than later.   But, its a case thats not going to end quickly or speedily.

Windows 7 suggestions February 10, 2008

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Microsoft claims it listens to customers and they do listen more than most other tech companies.  Microsoft for the most part tries to keep people happy but when that desire starts to interfere with your experience using that software it can lead to problems.  So here are my suggestions for Windows 7.

1.  Goodbye classic:   Classic is like one of your old friends that mooches off of you, watches your porn, raids your fridge and tries to sleep with your girlfriend.  get rid of the classic look.  Vista basic is sufficient and its great for the older computer’s that can’t handle Aero.

2.  Modulize backwards compatibility:  Backwards compatibility when built in by default leads to lost resources, memory usage increases.  My suggestion make those bits available as an installable module.  If thats outside the scope of what Microsoft wants to do, build in a VM player, refer customers to DOSBox and/or work with the Wine team to make Wine available for Windows 7.  While business users use old apps consumers for the most part dont and Microsoft eventually will have to do like Apple did and get rid of “Classic Mode”.

3.  Get rid of product activation:  Won’t happen, I know but product activation is a failure and its time to quit wasting your resources  and just move on.  I have a better chance of having a threesome with Shakira and Beyonce than I do of Microsoft ditching product activation.

4.  Version hell:  There should be 2 desktop editions.  Windows 7 and Windows 7 business desktop.  2 versions not 9 not 12 not 4.  Anything else falls in the realm of value added software and should be available if the user wants it.  Make it available as a download or sell add-on CD’s/DVD’.

5.  Standards:  Make Windows more standards compliant, quit trying to create your own standards to promote lock-in.  May the best software win, not, may the best software win because we rely on Microsofts stack.

Those are only a few ideas, I could write a book but for me those are the most important.  What suggestions do you have?

Is Vista a dead horse February 5, 2008

Posted by rjdohnert in Opinions.
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Many people complain about Windows Vista, its shortcomings and how Vista basically sucks. Microsoft is dead and slow at delivery and they never learn from their mistakes. Two things are in common here with Windows Vista and Mac OS X

At the turning point of the technology they both sucked.

Whenever you deliver new tech they all suck. My example here is OS X public beta and even the RTM release of Mac OS X 10.0. Mac OS X Public Beta sucked so bad it was the first time in my life when I thought Apples developers had lost it. Vistas public beta wasnt as bad as OS X public beta, so why didnt we hear about it? When Apple makes a mistake its OK, Apple will fix it. I think that there isn’t as much ill will towards Apple as there is towards Microsoft and lets face it most of the Mac and Linux loving press guys, Jason Brooks, Steven Vaughn-Nichols , Robin Miller and the rest of the Linux and Mac loving communities love to see Microsoft fall flat on its face.  Blogging also wasn’t as big during the Mac OS X Public Beta days and OSX RTM days as it is now.  Apple should also think of those days when they put up the slowly-becoming-annoying “I’m a Mac and I’m a PC” ads.  People are under the impression that when Microsoft screws up Microsoft just continues to screw up and the press starts on the “Microsoft is dead” shtick that usually accompanies the Vista sucks articles. I dont think thats the case, it would be if Microsoft was stagnant but the products become better.  Look at XP SP2 and Visual Studios, every release gets better.  Tonight I got into a very heated but productive argument with a Mac user, to which I made the comment that ” I’m not ready to write Microsoft of yet as I didn’t write off Apple when they released that crap they called OS X 10.0″ that started a long discussion of IE vs Safari, IE and Safari vs Firefox and circled around to OS X and Windows. To me OS X became really useful and stable at version 10.3 to which the Mac lover responded that she thought OS X 10.0 was the best OS Apple ever delivered.

In a room full of Mac/Linux users where I was started to become the anti-Christ all attention left me and all eyes went to her and suddenly, silence. She realized she A) lost the argument and B) made the stupidest comment anyone had ever made. The Linux and Mac users then started listening and we ended up having several discussions, the Mac lover disappeared and I finally saw her again as I was getting ready to leave and she was outside smoking a cigarette. The final conversation was amicable and she made the comment ” I am passionate about the Mac.” I made the comment, “I’m passionate about technology and I don’t belong to any fan club” I stayed 15 extra minutes and we discussed the MacBook Pro, photography and we both agreed that the iPhone sucks and that the Razr and the Blackberry were better devices. Of course I have to be careful, the lady is new and I have to work with her.

Anyway.

One thing I had forgotten but was reminded of and remember as a developer, consumer and technology connoisseur is that when you change frameworks, driver model and the basic structure of any software stack its going to suck. If Microsoft doesn’t work to improve Vista then I will write off Vista as a POS and move on. I’m holding off my judgment until Windows 9, Why? It took Apple 3 versions to make OS X the thing of beauty it has become I can at least offer Microsoft and their developers the same courtesy. Microsoft should do with Windows 7 what Apple did with OS X  10.1  offer it for free.  From my testings I believe Windows Server 2008 is a rock solid, awesome product. I don’t know about Vista SP1 as I haven’t installed it yet. From what I have heard its pretty good.

So if Microsoft turns around and delivers the most awesome version of Windows does that mean I will eBay off my Macs and delete all my instances of Linux and UNIX and go solely with Windows? Of course not. I’m passionate about all technology and don’t belong to any fan club.

Microsoft’s Terrible Open-Source Strategy: A response February 3, 2008

Posted by rjdohnert in 1.
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This article is the reason why people shouldn’t eat lead based paints when they are kids. The author of this piece besides clueless, uninformed and obviously very zealous over Linux basically doesn’t get it. Did I say he was clueless? Anyhow, as I do with ignorant uninformed articles lets review this one.

” let open-source people port their applications to Windows and hand them a piece of rope so they can tie themselves to all of Microsoft’s proprietary products and cannot leave. (And if you need Linux, use Microsoft’s virtualization technology to run it on Windows.) As you can see, this is not going to work”

Nope, the strategy is this. They know people will chose Windows, people will choose open source, lets work together to make sure the stuff can work together. Its fairly simple strategy, if you think developers tie themselves to Windows, here is some food for thought. Many open source developers use Visual Studios when porting their apps. Even the KDE team who has ported KDE apps to Windows uses Visual Studios. Are they tying themselves into Windows? Nope, are they tying themselves into Microsoft’s proprietary products? No. Oh and by the way, many Windows admins run Linux in Microsoft’s virtualization technology to test projects and to actively develop for Linux. Nothing new here except for an over caffeinated Linux enthusiasts who wants to sell a tin foil hat theory.

” Perhaps this strategy would work if Microsoft had an absolute monopoly on the OS market, but if that is what they are thinking, I have bad news for them, once they catch up to the 21st century”

This strategy will work because Microsoft DOES realize they don’t have an absolute monopoly on the OS market and they want to appease their customers who want to be able to use Windows with their open source stack. Sorry, its business.

The sooner people like this author realize that this is not an open source world, and that you have to work with proprietary software and hardware developers the better off it will be.  Its a good thing that there are some commercial entities that support Linux and understand both worlds, otherwise Open Source and Linux wouldn’t have left the basement.  The world wont change overnight.

Link to article

To stay with KDE or go with GNOME February 3, 2008

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I have pondered that question as of late.  Seeing the car crash that was KDE 4 and hearing the excuses of the developers makes me ponder a change.  I am currently evaluating the pro’s and cons of such a change but the one thing I will miss is the elegance of KDE.  It visually is a beautiful desktop and I like the application integration that KDE offers.  I have been a KDE user since version 1, dabbled in GNOME and XFCE but I always come back to KDE.

The one thing I hate about GNOME is that its not a very elegant desktop,  Its applications and integration feels a bit clunky.

I still have some time with KDE 3.5 and I will wait until KDE 4.1, if 4.1 still looks like plane crashed trainwreck 4.0 was, I will probably hop on the GNOME train permanently.