Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Every time I read something like this I grumble. The problem is that there is no problem, at least not with Linux. The problem, again, is the people using the system, but they are not to blame either, because they have been 'raised' this way after years and years of windows usage (probably this will be valid for Apple as well).

When people slide over from the windows platform, to give Linux a try, the list of questions you'll get is mostly something like this: don't I need an anti-virus? don't I need to defrag my disk? don't I have to use anti-spyware and ofcourse; how do install this program/driver. The answer to all these questions is, you don't need any of this stuff. You don't need to install drivers, you don't need to install software. Most of the stuff everyday people might need is basically installed by default, and the things that might be missing are probably available as an installable package from your distro.

I show people how they can find software, using synaptic (which is included on ubuntu, debian and a lot of others). Still this knowledge is lost as soon as they do need some extra package and what is the first thing they do? The windows reflex, roaming the net looking for the program which might perform the needed tasks. After reminding them to use the included tool for looking for programs they use it, but the next time they are roaming the net again. Seems like a hard habit to break.

Still, after a while it settles in, and in case of ubuntu with all repositories enabled, it really amazes them. People don't realize what advantages this system brings. The software is integrated perfectly into that distro version you are using, it is secure, a very fast way to get extra software and keep it up to date automatically. The same is true for drivers, need to install a driver? No! Your distro should support it out of the box, if not you should not have bought that piece of hardware at all (though, it could get supported in the future, but who can predict the future).

This is all good for OSS, but what about commercial software? Well, there is no problem either. There are a bunch of games available on Linux like nwn, the UT series, Doom 3 and more. Let me tell you how the install of these games works; they come with an installer that pops up a graphical window that allows me to choose a destination directory, and after transferring all files from CD, to add menu entries. At the end of this procedure, I select the game from my menu and it works (what else did you expect). Nothing difficult or different from the windows platform (this procedure is also valid for other commercial programs which I tried, although they use different installers).

Does this mean you cannot toy around with source tar files anymore? Hell no! But if you are doing that, I suppose you know what you are doing anyway, and you will not be making foolish comments about the fact that installing software is difficult. Computer savvy people will always want to tinker with their machines, and they can do so, to the full. These people also exist on windows and they do things no normal would do on that OS either. To end my story, I just want to say that installing is only part of the game, try removing stuff and see who is the clear winner each time!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

It has got to end, the heat is unbearable. I thought it was hot last year, but that was not a real heatwave, or at least that is what they are telling us now (although they called it a heatwave last year too, it seems it did not qualify).

During this heat a lot of people are losing their sanity and start attacking other people. It seems it is turning us all into zombies like in the 'Dawn of the Dead' movie (the old one, because everybody moves real slow in this heat).
We already had several shootings and traffic aggression is rising every day. My dear colleague even attacked our manager with a football this afternoon, truly amazing.

Our water supply is running out and in some cities they have to hand out water in bottles. At the same time we are no longer allowed to wash our cars, water our gardens or most other watery stuff. If you do, you can get a fine or even prison time. As you can imagine the Tom Cruise incident has caused serious controversy here, as precious water should not be used in pranks or spilled during these days.

You can help! Send as much water as you can to Belgium, we and our dry tongues will thank you.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Take a look at this, and follow the thread '1. Re: LAN failover (Maurice Peterse)'.

Now just imagine working with this guy, sheez! And no complaining, you asked for it!

Monday, June 13, 2005

I have been reading every now and then a few pages from Open Sources - voices from the Open Source Revolution from O'Reilly.

This book, from 1999, has some interesting bits on SCO (the text has been adjusted a bit, for the full story buy the book);

SCO' s OS is essentially all the have, and in their case, that's not good enough. What will SCO do?
In the beginning of 1998, SCO sent out a letter to its vast mailing list of users slamming open Unixes like Linux and FreeBSD as unstable and unprofessional. SCO eventually published a retraction on their web site.
In late 1998, SCO sent out a press release talking about how SCO Unix now has a Linux compatibility layer. The response was underwhelming.
SCO is in a unique position. They must, however, make a leap of faith. Instead of seeing Open Source as a threat.

Just funny, we should have seen it coming from miles away. The writing was on the wall, still it took us all by surprise.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Sony said that the PS3 HDD extension will come with Linux installed. First, this could be a pure marketing stunt by Sony, and secondly it doesn't mean we'll get a bash prompt (but an interface that runs on top of the Linux kernel) when powering on our playstation.

But imagine for once that Sony really delivers and gives us full access to PS3-Linux. With that they will turn the PS3 into what the XBOX is now, a hacker-lovable machine. The advantage is that the system is already open by default and you can go hacking straight away.

I'm sure the XBOX360 will get hacked as well, after a few months, or longer. But then we are just booting a kernel, no sound or gfx yet. Which will make it rather useless.
Sony should not fear indie game producers. Simply because it will be hard for them to top the commercial games. I don't think indie games are bad, but the production costs are much lower, and although they can have really good gameplay, the gfx and music/sound is not up to the same level.

I know people who have bought and XBOX simply for one reason; the media center software available thanks to the hackability of the device. Sony should keep its promise and deliver on this one and they will at least have all the geeks on their side.

Monday, June 06, 2005

The apple has fallen of the tree! Nah, nothing exciting, I say, good for them. I'm referring to Apple changing to Intel in the future.
Who says this is surprising? The never ever made it a secret that they have an x86 port of OSX running along their available PPC version internally, using a FreeBSD/Mach-UNIX as their core, which is highly portable. If they wanted, they could switch to something else again, in a few years, probably in a snap.
I have made a post on slashdot about why it might be a good time for Apple to switch, so I'm not going to repeat that here. What I would like to comment on is the fact that a lot of people are predicting the end of everything that is Apple. Can anybody tell me why it would be? Is there a reason to believe the x86 Macs will be bad or will OSX suddenly be less 'sexy'? They will still be Macs and if they would release models with x86 CPUs in the same case as G5 machines, the user will not even notice the difference.
'Oh, but it will not run PPC software, it will be hell.' - Is that many software on OSX using low level calls, directly accessing hardware so that it would be a problem running OLD software with the PPC emulator included on those machines? Will it be something a recompile won't be able to fix? How fast will the popular programs be ported/recompiled?
Let me tell you this much, I run Linux both on x86-64/32 and PPC (G3) and for Linux there is no difference, everything that runs on my AMD box runs on the PPC as well, except stuff like shockwave plugins and some media codecs. But guess what? You can be damn sure Apple will be taking care of those.
So Apple lovers worry not, in fact, it will be probably be a good thing (tm), even for you.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

I don't know how old java is exactly, though I remember the first releases way back. They didn't teach it in school or the college I went to, until a good few years later. Still, bad things like this discussion have never stopped. The whole 3 page article is already summarized at the beginning; memory and speed are the big problems.

Really now, when it first came out, it was even more a problem then it is these days. Because everybody has plenty of RAM, but mid 90's I was stuck with 8 or 16MB max, and the CPU wasn't much faster as the first Pentiums just started to roll out the door. In those days, Java was even worse then it is today on those two points and still today perception hasn't changed much. That is the least you can say about the whole thing.

The most complete website I could find about total performance comparison of languages is The Computer Language
Shootout Benchmarks
site, which not only takes a bunch of different tasks to perform, but also considers memory usage, cpu and amount of code lines into the test. Even more sweet is the possibility to select a large amount of languages to compare (against Java or something else).

As you can see, Java isn't that bad, according to these benchmark results (lies, damn lies and benchmarks), but talk to anybody who is not a Java programmer and I'm sure you'll get nothing but badmouthing about it. I'm not a Java programmer, and I can tell you it isn't my favorite language either. I prefer python, which, although should be slower then Java, feels so much faster. The cause of all this is the fact that Java is easy to pick up, but few really master this beast. It is not impossible to make really good software using Java (we are talking desktop here), and a really good proof of this is azureus. If only all Java apps where like this!

The solution? Well, should there be any? the market always has a natural selection. On the desktop I don't really see Java taking off, if it hasn't happened after all these years, it's never going to happen, excluding a few apps now and then. But in business software it is already the defacto standard, and it will be long before this will change, and for some reason nobody gives a damn about memory and CPU usage there.