Life without Windows or OS X

GNU/Linux is quite possibly the most important free software achievement since the original Space War, or, more recently, Emacs. It has developed into an operating system for business, education, and personal productivity. GNU/Linux is no longer only for UNIX wizards who sit for hours in front of a glowing console. Are you thinking about switching to Linux and want to learn how to use it? Have you been using GNU/Linux for some time and want to learn even more? This is the place for you.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Linux Mint 9, codename Isadora

I was in Best Buy today and saw win7 upgrades on the self. To up grade 3 computers from xp to 7 was nearly $400. In this tight economy, it's more important than ever to make sure every dollar spent counts. As we all know running older releases of Windows can be dangerous. Because older releases of Windows are often no longer supported with needed security patches among other fixes. In other words you are putting yourself at risk of malware issues. Soon Xp will not be supported. Would it be really be necessary to upgrade all 3 systems to Windows7?

One could try something called Linux Mint. It dose not cost anything. No its not one of those internet scams. The best thing about Linux Mint is its out of the box capabilities. This version comes with GNOME 2.30. It's similar to SUSE's Slab menu by offering access to all entries from main interface and features a filter/search. Some may say having something like Linux Mint could put your system more at risk. The reality is quite the reverse: Linux Mint is much more secure than either Windows or Macs, as countless examples and security researchers have confirmed over the years. One of the Linux Mint many advantages is that it's designed not to hog resources, meaning it doesn't require the latest and greatest hardware to work really well.

Firefox is preinstalled, with is latest version, 3.6.3. I have been a Firefox advocate for a long time. Thunderbird is also preinstalled in its latest version. Adobe Flash plugin, MP3, DVD playback along with most popular video codecs are bake in as well. Since Mint 9 is based on an Ubuntu Long Term Support (LTS) release, you have support for the desktop through 2013.

So if you have 3 computers with WinXp maybe only one them should get the windows 7 upgrade. The other two would be just fine with Linux Mint installed on them. You could save yourself a lot of money.

No matter what O.S. you use always update your web browser to the latest version. An out of date web browser is often riddled with holes worms can crawl through. Trust me you don't need that kind of trouble. In fact keep all programs you run patched and up-to-date. Never click on links in emails if you can't verify the sender. Don't enter credit card numbers or other personal information into sites you don't trust. Legitimate business and organizations will never ask you to enter your username or password via email. Just some things to think about.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Digital Rights Terrorism.

Before I start my rant, I would like to say that we should all fight software pirates. I believe that the software pirates should be hunted down where ever they are and taken out. Pirated copies of software is a major source of destructive viruses, often avoiding detection by anti-virus programs designed to prevent infected files downloaded from the Internet. These pirates and hackers have the know how that enable them to navigate through binary code. With that knowledge they attack license management systems and valuable algorithms. Piracy is theft, plain and simple, it's smash and grab, no doubt. Theft is theft and should be punished, and intellectual property is no different. We can see that much of it is an inside job. Why is it that companies are willing to make every one suffer at the hands of an invasive DRM scheme, but they can’t seem to take a few basic steps to find the person or organization that has sold them out? I have seen games show up on P2P days or even weeks before hitting retail shelves, how is that possible, I mean really? The marketing and PR companies want you to believe that they are combating piracy of their content with DRM. This is completely untrue. Every DRM scheme out there can be easily defeated by a person with the will, time, and money. So what is DRM really designed to do?

It attacks people that has nothing to even do with the intellectual property war. Terrorist kill civilians and can justify it as the lesser evil in a particular circumstance. Some digital media content publishers claim DRM technologies are necessary to prevent revenue loss due to illegal duplication of their copyrighted works. Just like terrorist if the only way to win (the intellectual property war) is by intentionally targeting non-combatants, then they are morally right to do so. Digital Rights Terrorism does not effect pirates and everyone knows that. Every DRM scheme out there can be easily defeated, any software protection system can be cracked, just as any lock can be picked or any door can be broken.

French video game maker Ubisoft demanded a constant Internet connection in order to play Assassin's Creed II. So now I must have an Internet service provider to play a single player game offline? I already bought the game. Now I must pay for internet service too? How is this defeating the pirates? After Assassin’s Creed 2 was released, the custom DRM was cracked within 24 hours. Days after that their servers used to authenticate the game went down. And guess what? The people who legally paid for their game could not even play it . And it gets even better..For a time the pirated versions were the only working copies of the game.

Blu-ray’s copy protection DRM is based on regularly updated encryption keys. Blu-ray firmware changes on a regular basis. Once a key is compromised, an update is released, which then also requires updates to Blu-ray players. Once again the non-pirates/ non-combatants were attack without mercy. People like you and me who bought a movie but could not watch it. People reported problems with playing the Avatar Blu-ray disc on some Samsung players. It got so bad that Amazon now gives a warning message on their movie’s product page. The Book of Eli, Sherlock Holmes, and Invictus I heard had problems too. Again if you had pirated version of Avatar , you are not affected by this problem. If you legally paid for it, your night can be done. These kinds of copyright protections actually make more people to turn to piracy. If the companies choose use more of this kind of terrorism against consumer non combatants then they may find even more people turning to P2P to avoid the hassles of registering and obtaining licenses for products they legally purchased.

So why not take this war to the people who are raging it? Why not go after foreign governments that have rogue organizations doing this kind of business within their borders. Torrents and p2p networks have made it hard to effectively crack down on piracy and colleges and universities have not done enough on their networks either. We know that the nation of Georgia is the world's top software pirate, with 95 percent of all software used in the country deemed illegal. Why not start there? Its the poster child for intellectual property infringement. Because like terrorist, The Business Software Alliance and others feel its better to go after civilians than they do their real enemies aka pirates.

DRM was a big issue with music downloads, but these days places like currently have non DRM in their downloadable music files. We all remember the Sony BMG CD copy protection scandal of 2005. They used something called XCP. It used a rootkit technology to hide certain files from you on a your own computer and that technique turned out to be a security threat to computer users. One of the uninstallation options provided by Sony BMG introduced further vulnerabilities to computer systems. They realized that attacking non pirates did not make them any friends. It was a black eye and bloody nose for the music industry at large.

We all can agree that Piracy has gotten worse in the world as Internet connection speeds have improved. The Business Software Alliance should flex its business power and hunt them (intellectual property pirates) down...all of them. Bangladesh is also country with a high rate of software piracy along with Indonesia , Vietnam, China and India. Send all your forces to theses gangster nations and protect us all from this underworld. Why not set up snitch funds to reward people for turning in bootleggers. Using DRM Terrorism is wrong. It never hurts pirates and punishes people caught in the the middle. Digital Rights Terrorism attacks the freedom of people who has committed no crime.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Year 5: Life Without Windows Part One

Hello welcome to my weblog. This is not at hate blog. I don't hate open or closed source. I don't hate WinXP nor OSX.

I started this site 5 years ago this today, to explain what GNU/Linux is.

GNU/Linux is freely available, and most are not required to register their copies with any central authority, so it is very difficult to know how many people use Linux to date. Could be as many as five million users. Yes, some free software can't stand up to some of the commercial alternatives, but most software on GNU costs nothing to use, and it's built by passionate developers who love what they do, and who usually get very little in return. I use Mozilla Firefox web browser, Banshee multimedia player (similar to Windows Media Player) and the productivity suite (the Linux equivalent to Microsoft Office, Word, Excel, etc.) are just three examples of free open-source programs found on Gnu/Linux systems.

There has been many changes in the last 5 years.

  • Intel released open source software drivers for the newest generation Intel graphics , including support for 2D and 3D graphics features.
  • Dell officially unveiled its three consumer systems the XPS 410n and Dimension E520n desktops, and the Inspiron E1505n notebook that come with the Ubuntu 7.04 Linux distribution factory installed.
  • Android-Based T-Mobile G1 Hits Stores back in 2008. The G1 ran Android/Linux, Google's open source operating system, which was designed to bring the desktop computing experience to mobile devices. The release of the T-Mobile G2 will mark the two-year anniversary of Android availability in the U.S.
  • AMD opened up their proprietary microcode drivers to the open source world and enabled open source developers to write hardware accelerated 3D drivers a day later for some Radeon cards.
  • In 2009 one-third of the 35 million netbooks shiped was with some variant of the free, open-source operating system, ABI Research said. The exact split is 32% Gnu/Linux versus 68% Windows. This year there are tablets based on Android, which are Linux-based hitting the market, along with sophisticated tablets that will run Google’s upcoming Linux-based Chrome OS.
  • Banshee a music manager and All-in-one media player which lets you rip, play, burn and share your digital music collection now supports loading the Amazon MP3 AMZ files for downloading audio that was purchased from within a web-browser session. The web-based Amazon rendering within Banshee is being done using WebKit.
  • Nokia and Intel have become allies. In February 2010, Nokia and Intel announced the merger of Maemo and Moblin to create MeeGo, a Linux-based software platform designed to work across a range of hardware architectures and devices including mobile computers, netbooks, tablets, smartphones, and in-vehicle systems.

2010 has been a rather interesting year for Linux, and 2011 promises to be even better. Linux share of the desktop market grew to 1.13 percent in May of this year. I believe the economy has been a major incentive for its adoption, with netbooks becoming increasingly popular. As low-powered and cheaper tablets become the norm, with alternative ARM-based chipsets instead of x86, systems like MeeGo are sure to be the winner due to there immense portability. Open source software is an idea whose time has finally come. It's breaking out into the commercial world, and that's changing the way we all use to think.

2005 seems like a life time ago. There were times I just did not have much to right about. However in that time Living without Windows becomes easier over time. Even now it still maintains its image of being a geek's operating system, hard to install and use but those things have been far from the truth for a long time.

It's all want to write for now. I did not want this to go on and on....

Monday, September 06, 2010

I'm a GNU: Starling NetBook

Do you really need an overclocked Core 2 Duo SU7300 based laptop to check email? Do you really need a 1GB nVidia GeForce GT335M mobile graphics in your laptop just to look at a few youtube videos? If you’re mainly a Web surfer, note-taker, social-networker , emailer, and a consumer of photos, videos, books, periodicals and music a netbook could be for you.

What is that you ask? Netbooks are neither mobile phones nor standard laptops, maybe something in between. The netbook is a term coined by Intel for a particular kind of sub-notebook that emphasizes power-management, internet access, small size, and a simple operating system.

Today I want to talk about The 2nd generation Starling netbook made by system 76. The build quality of the Starling is amazingly solid for a subnotebook of this size and weight. It powered by an 1.66 GHz Intel Atom N455 processor, and equipped with 2GB RAM, Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3100, VGA port, 3 x USB 2.0 ports, headphone and microphone jack, SD card reader, a built-in 0.3 MP webcam, Kensington lock, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, and 10/100 Mbit Ethernet. They have crafted a solid mini-laptop that's good for kids and has plenty to offer anyone looking to hit the road with the bare minimum of computing hardware.

Its comes installed with Canonical's UNR. The Ubuntu Netbook Remix, I think, is an attractive, easy to use interface. It’s qualitatively different, a whole new type of computer that, through a simple interface. You need to do a task “there is an app for that”. The heart of the Remix user interface is its customized launcher which replaces the desktop and provides access to applications and other important system functionality.

The layout and design of the launcher is effective and it is very easy to use. The big buttons that are easy on the eye. Rather than using a dock, start menu, or typical drop-down menu to access commonly used programs and files, Canonical's UNR uses a different sort of menu on the home screen which runs vertically down the left. As you can see it’s divided into several categories Favorites, Files, Folders, Accessories, Games, Graphics, Internet, Office, etc.

Note: The Ubuntu Netbook Remix can not play encrypted DVDs or use certain Windows codecs out of the box. Configuring these formats after a fresh install is simple. This guide will allowing you to play Flash, Java mp3, aac, DVDs ,mp4, avi, wmv and many more formats. It also installs the Microsoft true type fonts for better compatibility with Word documents.

To add the every thing you need:

In a terminal program type or copy and paste: sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras

Terminal program is found in Accessories.

The Starling can help people break free of wires and lightly enter the world. Everyday work which includes editing simple documents, sending and receiving email, surfing the Web, and chatting with friends. None of these things need the most powerful hardware ever, That is why specialized components like Intel’s Atom CPU was developed. So consider them in the light of the activities: sending e-mail with evolution , browsing the net with fire fox, enjoying multimedia with rhythmbox(I highly recommend Banshee)., and chatting on the go.

System76 provides and supports Ubuntu pre-installed laptops, desktops, and servers with a commitment to the ideals of open source software. System76 enables consumers, businesses, schools, and governments to easily transition to the world of open source software through world class hardware, software, and support.

Ubuntu provides a system based on Debian with frequent, regular releases and a consistent desktop interface. It is backed by Canonical's commercial services and support on both the desktop and the server. It releases critical bug fixes and is never more than six months away from the latest version of anything in the open-source world.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

So in 2010 we have a choice.

The last five years...

Much has happened. I started this site 5 years ago this month, to explain what GNU/Linux is. I have done my best in my small world to let others know there are choices out there and I will say here and now that those other choices don't fit everyones needs in all cases.

The people at Microsoft encourages people like you and me to think of open-source, its for nerds. A number of significant milestones were reached that promise to continue to move the systems ahead in 2011. I know that getting started with a new OS is a big adjustment. Yes it is true that Windows is the OS that is used by the majority populace in the United States. It comes preinstalled on most consumer brand PCs. In 1984, it was impossible to use a modern computer without installing a proprietary operating system. So in 2010 we have a choice. Gnu/Linux shouldn’t necessarily try to be the other the OSes and people new to it should come to it with open minds. You come to this grassroots os because you believe it to be better, but is disappointed. It is impossible for any thing to be better than something if its completely identical to it. A perfect copy can be equal, but can never surpass the first.

In fact I am posting this on a system running Linux Mint 9 a user-friendly version of GNU. I never found a need to buy a copy of window7. I know people will say I'm missing out, but what am I really missing out on?

Well its not face book or my space. Both sites run just fine on my system with fire fox. Its not buying music form an online store as Amazon mp3 meets those needs. Going to sites to like hulu the re-live my youth with classic programing? Well that works fine as well. I know some one will say, what about itunes 10? Yes what about it? Apple has chosen not to write a Gnu version. It is their choice and I guess 1-3% of the market their not going the bother with. Did you know the zune dose not work with OSX?

I never know who reads this web-log of mine. So just in case this shows up in some kind of Google search. I just want to remind everyone to go out and see the world. To that end, I don't mean my space or face book but the real world. People who have become disconnected from, or have had a inability to connect too, social activities are more likely to use and abuse the foundations of social networking. People seem so into their personal tech that they don't mind being interrupted from dinner, during a trip to the bathroom or even during sex. So don't forget there is a world out there.