Friday, June 30, 2006

Microsoft Sued Once Again... But then again, what else is new?

Once again, Microsoft is in hot water. This time, they are a defendant in a class-action lawsuit related to their implementation of Windows Genuine Advantage, or WGA, in order to gather data on a user's computer to determine whether the installed version of Windows is legitimate.

Per the lawsuit, the implementation violates consumer protection laws in two states. More information can be found here.

NOTE TO MICROSOFT: Stop being sneaky and paranoid. These problems could be avoided if you would open source Windows (yeah, right...)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

So Many Choices, Even Greater Confusion
(UPDATED July 7, 2006)

In an earlier piece in this blog, we discussed how to test Linux using a live CD. This would allow you to evaluate the OS without destroying the contents of your hard disk.

Let's supposed you've tested a live CD and liked what you saw, but wanted to research further which distro is the most suited for your needs. The Linux Distribution Chooser will help you. We tried it under a couple of scenarios and it seems to do the job okay. At worst, it will guide you better as to how to prioritize your needs when selecting a distro.

UPDATE: If you still need more guidance, has a page discussing the most popular distros, accessible by clicking here.

Friday, June 23, 2006

How to Test the Waters Without Destroying Your Only PC

Let's suppose you've read the contents of this blog and other websites on Linux, and you want to test it, but one of the following circumstances apply to you:
  1. I don't have a spare machine to destroy to my heart's content.
  2. I like the idea, but I get cold feet thinking that all my hard work on my hard disk may get wiped out.
If you happen to have a PC equipped with a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive, you're in luck. You can download a "live CD" version of a Linux distro. Once downloaded and burned to a CD, you boot your machine from the CD. The distro will autosense as much hardware as possible and allow you to run Linux without touching your hard disk!

Two of the most popular distros capable of doing this are Ubuntu and Knoppix. There are many more listed on Linux Online to suit your particular situation. If you like what you see in Ubuntu, you can also install it on your hard disk once you feel comfortable and have a PC on which to install it on a "permanent" basis.

Visit one of the links below to check out the distros. Enjoy!
  • Knoppix 5.0.1 (multilingual site, select flag representing language you wish to see)
  • Ubuntu 6.06 LTS (select Desktop CD)
  • Linux Online (for other distros; select Live CD from the "Category" pull-down; "Language" and "Platform" selections optional, preferable if no check mark placed next to Include unmaintained?)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Microsoft Wants a Font Fight

In 1996, a project named "Core fonts for the web" was started by Microsoft with the intention of allowing a select group of fonts to be used for free on the Internet. Among the fonts to be given said privilege were Arial, Comic Sans MS, Courier New, Verdana, Times New Roman, and Webdings.

In 2002, Microsoft did an about-face and stopped the project, stating most users have access to the fonts already via Windows XP and Mac OS X, the latter group when using Internet Explorer. They also stated there was abuse of their EULA when companies would repackage the fonts as their own.

Now a font fight has started between the behemoth of Redmond and the CTO of Opera Software. Check out the details by clicking here.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Your Windows Is Vulnerable to Malware... And Microsoft Knew About It!

Microsoft has made public statistics on how many pieces of malware it has tracked on PCs since January 2005. The information can be found here.

According to the article, the company has a new "security czar" whose first, second, and third priorities are Windows Vista. There are several problems with this line of thought. First, Vista is not yet available as of this writing in production form, so no immediate benefit will be gained by the user community. Second, the hardware requirements for Vista--discussed elsewhere in this blog and here--are not economically reachable by all users. Third, Microsoft is apparently ignoring users of Windows 2000 and XP, probably stating "you'll need to upgrade" even though PCs running these earlier OSes are otherwise perfectly usable. Note to Microsoft: only techies might upgrade for the heck of it, but mainstream users can't afford that, since they don't have the "cash problem" you have (check out this article for more information).
A Laptop for the [Young] Masses... But It's Not Running Windows!

The One Laptop Per Child initiative recently showed off a working prototype of the so-called $100 laptop, to be distributed through participating countries to children. Pictures can be found here.

The prototype is running Fedora Linux. The price of $100 is expected to be reached as production ramps up, sometime around 2008. In a Microsoft world, $100 will not buy you even a piece of the operating system. Even if the OS were "free" (fat chance M$ will do that even through Mr. Gates' foundation), the hardware platform on which the OLPC laptop is based would have to be greatly enhanced, raising the price and making the unit less attractive to those in need.

A Wiki discussing the laptop can be found here.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Why Attack Windows and Not Mac?

First of all, the title of this blog does not mention Macintosh nor Apple. Second, Apple made a wise decision when they designed OS X: it is based on a real operating system; namely, BSD Unix. Hence, the reason for its stability.

Not that Linux is unstable, which it is not. You certainly do not see a blue screen of death in any distro! But other than this comment, you will need to look elsewhere for blows to OS X--or to any Unix/Linux-based OS, for that matter.
Thin Windows Vista Client? Fuggedaboutit....

If the Beta 2 Version of Windows Vista is close to reality, you can seriously can any possibilities of using old hardware lying around the house (or office) to connect to a thin-client solution such as Citrix or Microsoft's Terminal Server.

A basic installation of the Beta Version of the OS--without additional applications such as Office productivity suites or other programs--requires approximately 10 GB of disk space. When a PC with 1 GB of RAM is used, that number increases to about 15 GB (for the swap file).

Proponents of the OS may contend hardware prices have decreased in recent years to point of commoditization. But for organizations with tight budgets and numerous client PCs to deal with, the piggybank might not have enough pennies to go around for the upgrade...