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October 2006 Archives

Oracle is now back in the Linux game.

People are speculating that they might buy Red Hat. Others are lamenting the fact that Oracle might be seeking to gain a competitive advantage. Oracle offers quality service to their customers, otherwise they would have none. If Oracle has the programming, networking, and system horsepower to provide quality service for paying Linux customers, then I applaud their effort. I don't think Mr. Ellison would put money into something that didn't look like a good investment. Capitalism, baby, that's the name of the game.

Do you want to compete and get paid? Pick your area of expertise and serve customers better than Red Hat, Oracle, or Ubuntu.

Over the years, this question is raised again and again. AFAIK last year was declared as "Linux Desktop Year" (or is it current year?). I got a nice baseball cap from Novell on LinuxWorld San Francisco, which says "Your desktop is ready." Recent additions to Linux desktop includes nice visual effects, similar to those in latest Mac OS X and Windows Vista. KDE is celebrating 10 years of existence.

If you search for "linux ready for desktop" on Google it will tell you there are about 15 million pages on that topic--some telling it is ready, some telling it is not. So, where is the truth?

In this case, truth is very subjective. As the Russian proverb says, "what is good for Russian is death for German"--a colorful equivalent of "tastes differ." For me personally, Linux on the desktop was ready a long time ago, and Windows on a desktop was never ready for me. Let me tell you why.

Some of you may think I am living in the past by raising up what most think is a dead topic. With Halloween close at hand, I would like to report that I am hearing from ghosts.

In my work to drive a simplified Linux solution to the market, time and again, I am hearing "well, this reminds me of Cobalt". The medium usually pauses, and a whistful look comes over them. When they recover from this out of body experience, they deliver a eulogy that makes me wish I knew the subject. Perhaps it is time for a reincarnation?

...Hello openSUSE

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As I outlined in my last blog entry, there was a definite sense of urgency in migrating from Freespire 1.0 to something else. The distribution I settled on was openSUSE Linux 10.1--mostly in part from the fact that it was newly released this week, but also because I hadn't dabbled in SUSE products for a while and I wanted to see what was what.

Thus, my Tuesday night was spent migrating to openSUSE Linux 10.1. This was the "Remastered" edition, which the openSUSE team released in response to several bug fixes, not the least of which was a reportedly very buggy Software Update tool. I can't compare this version to the "Original" 10.1, but I have the sense that the outcome of this re-mix is a lot better than, say, the debacle of "New Coke" back in the 1980s.

Goodbye Freespire...

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Back in August, I got caught by the Ubuntu/X Window update bug. Because I was in a hurry and didn't yet understand the nature of the bug that bit me, I grabbed the most available distro available to me at the time: a copy of Freespire 1.0 that I'd picked up at LinuxWorld.

Regular LT readers, may recall that my experiences with Freespire were less than stellar. Well, after a couple of months putting up with the various idiosyncrasies of Freespire and its generically named application set, I have decided to move on.

I think OOo Impress is a fine piece of software.

It imported my old PowerPoint slide shows without complaint. It does basic animations and slide transitions. I can even push my slides out to HTML code, as Flash or as a PDF, as an added revenue enhancing bonus to audience members, if I so choose.

So why don't people use it?

Call it what you want: band, bevy, corps, covey, gang, horde, mob, squad, swarm, team, troop, troupe. I think "POSSE" is a perfect moniker for what is needed to drive Linux/OSS adoption in the SMB market.

I am fresh off a session at OSDL's workgroup meeting in Portland, Oregon. It was great to sit in a room of like minded people to discuss the business challenges facing consultants and integrators that are selling Open Source solutions into the SMB market.

While the Linux community diligently creates a new distribution every day, Google is quietly building up infrastructure on the Internet.

I tried out the Google Documents and Spreadsheets service today. A quick login plus a couple of mouse clicks and I was ready to work.

LinuxEmporium over in the UK sells three Linux compatible devices made by Belkin. On their web site, they give some "insight." Here's a quote:

These products all use a Ralink chip set. Ralink have 'got the message' on Free Software, and have released their drivers under the GPL, so let's support them! For their pains Ralink won Linux Journal's Editors Choice 'Product of the Year' award in August 2005.

Out of this was born an Open Source project to develop the drivers, which aims to produce a feature-rich driver supporting all the Ralink varieties, PCI, PCMCIA, USB and mini-PCI.

Since I live in the Colonies and I needed an adapter in short order, I went looking for the Belkin 802.11g 54 Mbps Wireless PCI Card. But, I'm winding up with the Belkin 802.11g 54 Mbps Wireless USB Stick.

RISK-y Business

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I bought the board game Risk for my daughters a couple of weeks ago, mostly because I thought it would be (a) wholesome family entertainment (because marching across Asia into Europe is such good clean family fun) and (b) I wanted them to play something a little slower paced than the Gamecube fare.

On the whole, my experiment in world domination went over well. My oldest daughter eventually won, using the classic put-everything-in-Australia-and-south-Asia strategy. I fought a valiant holding action in Alaska, but ultimately she wore me down.

Have you ever been in a position where it is critical to get someone to see your perspective on a matter that could mean success or extinction for a major project?

Well, how did you get your point across? Did you succeed?

Recently I listened as an automotive design engineer tried to explain to a prospective customer in a new car dealership what are the key benefits of a particular suspension design. He failed to convince the prospective customer. Furthermore, the customer walked out convinced more than ever that an entirely inferior suspension design used on a competing vehicle is exactly what he really wants.

The prospective customer became convinced the design engineer did not know what he was talking about. The customer was not rational at all. The engineer sounded well qualified and his analysis was most plausible.

Can you relate to this situation? I can. This reminded me of several situations where customers got it wrong. But the other company's salesman went off to the party with order in hand.

I'm feeling isolated and on the outside of the mainstream computing world.

The last few months, I've toned down my rhetoric on promoting Linux and Open Source, simply because most everyday people just aren't all that interested. For the most part, they don't care if you have a Linux, Mac, or Windows laptop.

Fortunately, nobody usually notices that the Word or Acrobat document that I send them is really produced on Linux with OpenOffice.org. Or that they receive my email thanks to SUSE Linux 10.0 and Thunderbird.