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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.

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.

KDE 4: Good, bad, ugly.. mostly bad January 13, 2008

Posted by rjdohnert in Opinions.
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After all the work that went into developing KDE 4, Im just pissed they didnt produce anything even resembling useful or user friendly.

The good:

This is a very short list, visually KDE 4 is beautiful. Its got some drop dead GORGEOUS wallpaper and themes and the color arrangement is one of the best. The desktop blends together and doesnt have any aspect where it doesnt look like it fits. This is the biggest and really only improvement.

The Bad
It doesnt compensate for GTK themes and GTK apps dont look like a first class citizen, they look like a “go away I dont want you here citizen”, before someone pipes up and says configure the gtkrc file, I didnt have to do that in KDE 3 and i shouldnt have to do it in KDE 4. Sorry. There is no way to configure the panel size or location so Im stuck with this monsterous blob at the bottom of the screen, There is also no way thats user friendly to add applets to the panel. The desktop icon system looks like something that came from Irix or CDE. The default filemanger is good but for some reason when I mount removable media there is a delay in the opening of any readable data.

The ugly.

Not so much ugly as there is bad. One thing I noticed and from reading forums is that to do anything really useful, you must edit configuration files in “.kde” in your home directory. KDE Team, 1995 called and they want their text configuration files back.

Well, thats mostly it. In this release the KDE team shows clear lack of respect for screen real estate. I was supposed to go to the release party but I dont feel like being celebrating this release as for me its been a huge disappointment. I cannot in good regards suggest this desktop to anyone. Stick with KDE 3 or GNOME and let them fix the train wrecked plane crash that is KDE 4.

RIP Netscape December 30, 2007

Posted by rjdohnert in Opinions.
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Netscape has formally ended support for their web browser.  While this is a sad day, the Netscape origins of Firefox cannot be denied.  While Netscape was basically shilling a customized version of Firefox, this move not only marks the end of Netscape the browser, it also marks the death of Netscape the portal.  After all, Google is the default homepage of the Firefox browser and there are few if any reasons to change it.  So sorry, this is the end of an era and the end of one of the first internet companies.  Sorry Netscape, stick the fork in…you are done.

Link 

Why Richard Stallman and the FSF bore me. December 20, 2007

Posted by rjdohnert in Opinions.
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While many see me as attacking Richards pride and joy and as hating free software and the FSF I dont.  I disagree with his views and his conclusion on why Linux needs to be called GNU/Linux and I think he goes overboard, I dont hate the guy.  I look at software as a tool.  I use the tools that work best for me.  Sometimes that tool may be an open source solution, sometimes its a proprietary solution and sometimes its a proprietary solution and open source solution in a mixed environment.  I disagree that binary blobs are bad.  I buy a piece of hardware I want it to work.  If it doesnt work I find a solution that does work.  We have to respect proprietary software/hardware vendors rights.  If they dont want to open source their drivers or software products but are willing to provide the blobs and  support why not use em?

Richards stance is everything needs to be free, well sorry.  In the real world we live in it doesnt work that way.  You have to have give and take, you have to reach a healthy compromise.  Some people blame the lack of interest as the main failing point for Hurd and gNewSense.  Its not, the failures of these systems rest solely on Richard and the FSF.  By not having that give and take the systems failed.  Richard failed.  Both systems, on my hardware anyway, failed miserably. By not having that compromise the FSF will become obsolete.  While the rest of the world is moving on and different Linux and BSD distributors are working together with hardware manufacturers and software vendors to get their hardware and software certified with these distributors the FSF and their systems are becoming more obsolete everyday.

I work with IT vendors and technology companies on an everyday basis.  I have a good relationship with them, I have a good rapport with my vendors.  If I have a piece of hardware or a software packages that fail, I dont sit there and say ” I need to see the source” I say “Look, Im having a problem with this, how can I help you expedite a fix?  Bug reports, system logs etc etc.”  Working with hardware manufacturers and software vendors is a lot like marriage.  In marriage you need to have compromise, you need to have communication otherwise your marriage and relationship are doomed to failure.  In a marriage if you go through demanding ridiculing and (running to the press and writing flame articles) complaining, what happens?  Your spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, whatever is not going to want your company and will avoid you like the plague.  The same with your relationship with hardware and software vendors. if you spend every meeting complaining, demanding and running to the press writing flame articles you are not being a partner.  You are being a nuisance and will be hard pressed to find anyone willing to work with you.   I know several good IT workers who are out of work because they fancy themselves as being all important and posterboys of some movement.

When Eben Moglen says that Microsoft needs to be afraid, to me he is just wasting air.  Because I dont fear the FSF, Richard Stallman or even the numerous Linux zealots in the world.  I pay attention to people like Sun, Oracle, BEA, Apple, Microsoft, Red Hat, Novell, Intel.  The people that develop tools and solutions that will help me do my job.  The FSF provides me with nothing nor do I pay them to provide me with anything.  So when Richard posts to a mailing list I read or goes to a forum and starts blathering on why should I care what he writes?

So why do Richard Stallman and the FSF bore me? They sure as hell arent my partners, they dont provide me with anything, I dont give them anything.  They dont even help with any kind  of kernel development.  So why should I or anyone else in the industry pay attention to anything they have to say?

Windows Live Apps: Part useful, mostly useless. November 8, 2007

Posted by rjdohnert in Opinions.
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Microsoft released  Windows live apps to the world and while Microsoft is marketing this release as a major movement to me it just shows Microsoft still doesnt get it.

What do the Windows Live programs have that alternatives dont?  Absolutely nothing.  I have started using Googles offerings because Im a cross platform guy.  I use different operating systems and while I live on Windows Server 2003 that doesnt take away the fact I use Linux, Mac OS X, Solaris and FreeBSD.  The first major killer for me is that Windows Live doesnt work on Windows Server System.  Microsoft knows developers use that platform as a desktop, they even put the Desktop Experience pack into Windows Server 2008 to cater to the people who want to use Windows Server as their desktop and the end result, Windows Live applications do not run on Windows Server 2003 or Windows Server 2008.  Well while Windows Server System may not be able to run Windows Live apps they can run Googles apps.  Google Earth, Picasa, Thunderbird and the range of Googles services work on Windows Server and also more importantly Linux and Mac OS X as well. 

Another major downfall of Windows Live Apps is unlike the Google Pack it contains only Microsoft software where the Google Pack showcases partner and other vendor applications and offerings.

If Microsoft wants to be seen as a serious contender to Google it better start showing something other than another attempt to lock users into their platform.  Microsoft better get serious and quit releasing half-assed Applications as an “answer” to Google and their other competitors.

If you live on Windows XP and/or Windows Vista the applications are very useful and are somewhat elegant.  If you are a power user dont bother.  They are not worth the download.

PC World has an article covering the Windows Live release

gOS: Google OS November 4, 2007

Posted by rjdohnert in Opinions.
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Everex put out some new machines this week that utilize an Ubuntu 7.10 based OS called gOS.  This Operating System uses a heavily modified and kindergarten inspired E17 desktop that makes the RISCOS look good.  So whats new about this OS?  It basically acts like a portal to all of Googles web apps.  Nothing else but that.

Phoronix has a review of the gOS also known as the GreenOS bet you thought uit meant Google OS.  The OS thats preloaded everyone seems to agree that its good for one thing, public PC usage such as internet cafe’s and mall kiosks.  I just wanna know how much Google paid them to build their OS like that.  Wal-Mart has a page for this computer and at $199.00 if you want a Linux PC its not a bad buy, I would just load up PCLinuxOS and kick gOS to the curb

Mandriva Linux 2008 October 19, 2007

Posted by rjdohnert in Opinions, Reviews.
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Mandriva released their new Mandriva Linux distribution entitled 2008. Touting the new versions of GNOME and KDE as well as XFCE how well does this thing stand up? To do this review I have two Dell PowerEdge 500SC both with 768 mb of RAM, Nvidia GeForce 64mb video cards and both running at 1.2 ghz on Celeron processors. The difference is that one is running the KDE version and the other is running the GNOME version. I used the One version of each system.

Interface likes and dislikes….

Im gonna pound on Mandriva on this one. The GNOME version uses the Tango icon set while KDE uses a vastly outdated crystal icon set. Really outdated. Why they cant update crystal or modify Tango or the new Crystal icons to run on both for the uniformity is beyond me. The only thing thats similar is the Mandriva Control Center and the network control interface. The network center is very intuitive and easy to use and after trying multiple USB and PCI adapters, some using ndiswrapper and some not, the results were the same and all interfaces were easy to use. This ease of use followed Mandriva through both versions. The GNOME version of Mandriva was slower than the KDE version but had a more uniformed look which I liked, you can skin GTK apps with the QT theme with a Kcontrol plugin but its not available by default. Overall, speed and functinality KDE won but for great looks a more attractive iconset GNOME won hands down.

Hardware support…

Hardware support was lacking in some areas. My printer I use with PCLinuxOS wouldnt work in Mandriva. My SD card reader/writer could read SD cards but wouldnt transfer data to the card. This device works flawlessly in PCLinuxOS but not in Mandriva ’08. Plugging in thumbdrives and external hard drives worked well, the only complaint I have is in the GNOME version the media appears on the desktop in the KDE version it does not do so by default. 3D acceleration worked out of box as did the cheap sound cards I put into both systems purchased at TigerDirect for $9.99. On the laptop I did install it on, A Dell Inspiron 2500 it was the best distribution for it and I more than likely wont be removing Mandriva from that system. The Sansa e250 I have worked, the Zune didnt and my iPod was DOA so pretty much like all Linux distros flash based players work the best.

Functionality….

After using easy urpmi to download all the goodies such as DVD capabilities and WMV/mp3 support all worked well. The Mplayer plugin and the Totem plugin wouldnt work in Firefox, it would buffer and then stop. I used the MediaPlayerConnectivity extension to take care of that and installed mplayer on the GNOME version specifically for the purpose of linking to it for media playback from the browser. So far this workaround has worked well on all the media I have wanted to see thats not flash based. Sun Java does not come installed by default so to use Java apps you have to go through the installation. If you are a developer, sorry the packages have to be downloaded. I really am learning to dislike Amarok but I started using Rhythmbox which has a neat interface and works great. Updating software on the system was better than it is with Ubuntu and PCLOS. Uninstall the old version of OpenOffice, go get OpenOffice 2.3. I just downloaded the tar.gz with the RPM’s and installed all the packages. Dont forget the Mandriva menu integration package. For PDF reading got the new Reader 8 from Adobes website. Mandriva seems more apt, no pun intended, to allow you to play with the system than Ubuntu is. Playing with the add/remove software package manager revealed a plethora of packages and system enhancements so check there first before you have to go get the source and build anything. This is the first system aside from PCLOS that I havent had to build source packages which for new users is great. If you are looking for a server system, while you can build this system into a server with packages and add-ons I would recommend a more server oriented system like Fedora or OpenSUSE. Mandriva is a desktop system plain and simple and if you want to just put up a few bucks you can buy the server edition for $361.00. Costs less than Windows Vista.

System dislikes….

The num lock key is on by default. I hate that and mobile users will likely find it annoying as well. The boot system sucks. I like knowing what my system is doing so the Press Escape jazz just didnt work for me and when I tried to change it in Mandriva it would work for a couple of boots then revert back to the original. PCLOS maintains the user preference and I wish Mandriva would as well. On the GNOME install I had a couple of hard crashes but overall it was a stable system. Of course it just takes one bug to piss me off and the num lockwas it with this one.

Conclusion…

If you hate the word Ubuntu and just dont like the system, Mandriva works well and the PowerPack contains everything you need unlike the Ubuntu default install. I personally didnt get why Dell chose Ubuntu outside of purely political and fanboy hype as there are better systems with more out of box and a better out of box experience than Ubuntu. Anyway, for new users who want a package that is supported and you can call and get tech support, I would recommend this. If you are a power user and just want to dive into Linux head first and sink or swim this works too. If you are looking for a distribution for your grandmother to use, we are almost there. For ease of use, package availability and being just a cool system to work and play on you cant go wrong with Mandriva.

Overall Score: 8.5

EDIT: Sun Oct, 21 2007  More Problems arise….

More problems have arisen with Mandriva Linux 2008. I partitioned and formatted a 80 gb Western Digital disk that I was going to use for data storage. Upon format, the disk wouldnt mount. I decided to use a thumbdrive that I had to store the data and now no external removable drives will mount at all on this system. I was going to burn the data to DVD and the DVD writer refuses to recognize the disk and refuses to write.  When I put in a CD to read the entire system goes down.  To make sure it wasnt a hardware issue I put another drive that contains PCLinuxOS 2007 and put it in as the system disk and everything works fine hardware wise.

Novell Apology Accepted or Rejected October 6, 2007

Posted by rjdohnert in Opinions.
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Dana Blankenhorn wrote a blog entry about Miguel De Icaza’s interview with Paula Rooney sounding like an “apology”.  He goes off into this whole left field tirade about it reading like a “weepy romantic comedy”.  The funniest part about David Blankenhorns post is this:

” Novell is like the unfaithful lover who comes to your door while still engaged and begs you to take it back.

Here’s what the script tells you to do next. After you listen to the apology you kick them out the door, turn around and cheer yourself.

Novell made its bed with Microsoft. It got engaged to Microsoft. It took Microsoft for better or worse, and this is the worse. Now that it sees just what Microsoft is about, it wants the open source movement to forgive it, to accept its apology and to continue dating it, to continue paying for its SUSE Linux licenses.”

Ok thats the funniest thing I have read in awhile.  The not so funny and disturbing part about  Blankenhorn is how misinformed he is and how he misinforms his readers.  I read the interview, nowhere does it sound like an apology.  In fact after I read both pieces I thought maybe it was a title to attract more hits and the more I read it the more I realized thats exactly what it was.   But Mr. Blankenhorn seems to think Microsofts announcement with Novell and even Sun translates to joining the open source community.  It doesnt and I think the illustration of Microsoft being a wife beater and feminizing the open source community to be in poor taste. 

Microsoft has never said, nor wanted to be part of the open source community.  They partnered with these companies to improve interoperability for customers (like myself) who run a host of different operating systems. 

Microsoft didnt say at all that they were going to contribute their core software to the open source community and they havent.  Microsoft has helped with several projects that needed it.  Moonlight, open XML translator, ODF Translator for Office and they continue to partner and work with many open source companies.

Microsoft never used the words Open Source or community in the language for the release of the .NET class libraries.

This release is for Windows and .NET developers.  If you are an open source or bust type person this release isnt for you.  If you are looking for .NET for Linux or Mac OS X, this release isnt for you.  If you are a Windows developer who wants to make sure his/her project runs great on Windows and wants to debug against the .NET class libraries source code then this release is for you.

Its very surprising the misconceptions people have about the Novell/Microsoft agreement and about every press release Microsoft puts out about releasing source code.  Davids comment ” I’m the guy on this beat. I talk to open source developers all the time. They don’t like being feminized. They do take this personally.”  Who is being feminized?  Nobody.  Novell and Microsoft are businesses and they make business decisions, their business is to write software.  Novell needs a selling point for their software.  Having patent protection and getting Microsoft as a partner to assist them is a great selling point for customers.  If you dont like the deal quit whining about it.  Use something else but be prepared to start whining again when Microsoft files a patent infringement lawsuit. 

 Obviously a few people in the open source community do not have the competence to understand business.  Some in the community see Novell, Linspire, Xandros and LG as unfavorable because of their respective deals with Microsoft.  Its their own fault.  If the open source developers dont like just anyone being able to take their software, change it, redistribute it, monetize it and make money off of it then the solution is easy.  Dont put it under an open source license.

Open.NET: Is it really open source? October 4, 2007

Posted by rjdohnert in Opinions.
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Microsoft announced today that it was open sourcing the .NET Framework.  Is it really open source?  No and the funny thing is it was never intended to be considered open source. 

Everyone has their opinions.  Even Robert Scoble, the ex-microsoft guy who was never a developer seems to think this was an open source move.

Microsoft released this under the Reference license.  This is the key word here, Reference.  It wasnt released under any of the truly open Shared Source licenses.

This helps developers in several ways the most important being that they can write better applications.  This move is a win win for Microsoft.  They maintain control, there is no chance of an official fork unlike the case with Java and its a win win for developers so that their applications are better and they have a way to access the source code for more complex projects.

 Of course its from Microsoft, so expect some whining from just about the entire Open Source community.