Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.10 on my Dell Mini 10V

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

I have belatedly installed the upgrade to the first release of Ubuntu NBR on my Dell Mini 10V and it is a major hit. It is more attractive, a bit like the way a Mac is more attractive than a PC. It installed the new Google Chrome beta with a single click of the .deb file just like Windows does with an .msi file (I am writing this in Chrome on my 10V). It is faster to connect the wifi. I can browse my NAS through the file explorer. It has a super high WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor). I cannot find fault with it. It is as competent as Windows in every department with all the advantages of Linux, reliability, speed, compactness, cost.


I had been getting excited at the Chrome OS pre-previews, but I vote this new NBR as a winner not just in the mean time but perhaps for all time.

Posted by Robin Yellow at 19:53 5 comments  

I have Facebook Frankness

Friday, 7 August 2009

"Road rage" occurs in part because you are surrounded by a metal cage and separated from the drivers around you by glass. The feeling of invulnerability I get from a car sometimes makes me behave in a way which I would never normally do. I wondered if the same psychology applied when using social software?


I think I experienced a case of "Facebook Frankness" last week.

I was using the company social software Jive SBS (like Facebook but for the enterprise) when I came across a discussion about the iPod Touch. Now I think the iPod Touch is a pointless device bought only by Apple fan-boys and I said so. I got into a frank exchange of views with an individual who turned out to be the Chief Technical Architect of one of the company's major divisions. To put this in context this is someone way further up the pecking order than me. This is somebody who I would normally be much more respectful towards. On several levels I felt this person didn't know what they were talking about and I told them in a very public way. I had lunch with a colleague today who knows this person and told me that they thought the same about me.

So Facebook Frankness allowed me to make much more aggressive comments than I would if I was talking face to face. Have I burnt my bridges with this individual or strengthened his respect for my honesty? Definitely the former.

I felt protected. I was frustrated. I was honest. I was frank. I didn't know what I was doing, but I did it anyway. I couldn't help myself. I am sorry. No I am not. I am sorry. No I am not. I am sorry. No I am not.

Posted by Robin Yellow at 16:28 3 comments  

CentOS Forks Off Almost

Monday, 3 August 2009

The open source community are sometimes their own worse enemy.

Which distro should I use and what is the difference between them? Well the answer is complicated. One size doesn't always fit all even if Microsoft Windows is very popular. In the corporate world supported distros are king which is why Red Hat is such a bit hit (really?) And what about Fedora? It is Red Hat without the cost of support. And where does Ubuntu figure in all of this?

Well the problem is that all Linux distros are good. They are based on the rock sold Linus Torvalds kernel. However the perception is that Linux is a fragmented and therefore unreliable OS which does have the reliability and predictability which big business demands. This is also true. This article about the threat to CentOS being forked (aka destroyed) just because their founder went on holiday and was off grid for a few days (I exaggerate) is a great example of what open source communities are worse at: P.R.

"Let's stick with Windows because we know what we are getting".

Two days after a core group of developers posted an open letter to primary admin Lance Davis, threatening to fork the open source OS if he didn't discuss his apparent disappearance from the project, Davis has answered their call - and he seems to have quelled their complaints.

Posted by Robin Yellow at 11:30 0 comments  

Chrome Bumpers Popular With Speed Merchants

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

They are using social software at one of the places I work which is a strictly Internet Explorer 6 only company. There was a poll which asked which browser do you use. These were the repsonses:

Internet Explorer 6 (38%)
Internet Explorer 7 (19%)
Internet Explorer 8 (25%)
Mozilla Firefox (0%)
Apple Safari (6%)
Google Chrome (12%)
Opera (0%)
Interestingly enough when the sysadmin actually looked up the figures in Google Analytics they found that the numbers were:

BrowserVisits
1.78.97%
2.10.42%
3.9.07%
4.1.54%

I am saying nothing but it seems to me obvious that:
  1. Corporate droids sometimes break their programming
  2. Chrome is gaining traction at a higher rate than at first thought
  3. Microsoft cannot build a browser for toffee nuts

Posted by Robin Yellow at 17:34 0 comments  

Google Succeeds Where Others Have Failed

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Google Chrome certainly has innovations and given enough time it may prevail as the preeminent browser, but I am talking decades not years. So why do Google think they can create an operating system where others have failed?

This is like Pepsi designing the perfect cup for drinking Pepsi and it becoming the cup of choice for Coke drinkers too. It just ain't gonna happen.

However if they can create an OS which is as good at one thing just as Chrome the browser is very good at being quick, then they might be able to build a niche for themselves. Anything which increases competition is a good thing. Should Microsoft be scared? No.

Google have alwasy targeted business. Google have traditionally targeted the end consumer. There are some execpetions in both directions but for the most part they have been unsuccessful. Although I am generalising here.
Microsoft's reputation was built on thirty years of quality, reliability, innovation, in fact all the good corporate values that large enterprises like. Google are a bunch of young people in California who ride Segway's and wear their pyjamas to work. Microsoft has lacked innovation in their software for the last five years culminating with the disaster that was Vista.
I am writing this on a netbook as I have the option to use a netbook for my work computer. There are some excellent Linux variants which are optimised for netbooks such as Ubuntu 9.04 NBR (Netbook Remix) which I run at home. Moblin and Maemo are two others as is Android which is also owned by Google. However none of these have anything other than a niche in the market. Even the excellent Android is still outsold by Microsoft's appaling Windows Mobile platform.
No, I don't think Microsoft has anything to worry about.
We hear a lot from our users and their message is clear — computers need to get better. People want to get to their email instantly, without wasting time waiting for their computers to boot and browsers to start up. They want their computers to always run as fast as when they first bought them. They want their data to be accessible to them wherever they are and not have to worry about losing their computer or forgetting to back up files. Even more importantly, they don't want to spend hours configuring their computers to work with every new piece of hardware, or have to worry about constant software updates. And any time our users have a better computing experience, Google benefits as well by having happier users who are more likely to spend time on the Internet.

Posted by Robin Yellow at 10:10 0 comments  

Should we Wait for Android to Arrive on Netbooks?

Monday, 8 June 2009

Ubuntu Inside

Ubuntu NBR seems like a very serviceable netbook OS which you can have right now. No need to wait for Android. No need to wait for Windows 7. Go ahead and jump in, the water's lovely.

Being a netbook addict I thought it was high time I tried Linux (again) on my latest arrival. I have seven netbooks scattered around the house and office which I use for my business and for my tech education. I have had Asus Eee PC's, a Samsung NC10, an MSI Wind, and two Dell Mini 9's. The Dell's shipped with Ubuntu 8.04 and the Asus' came with Xandros. I had a tough time accepting either OS so I ended up changing to Windows XP.

The latest addition to my stack of netbooks is the Dell Mini 10v. This arrived with Ubuntu 8.04 which I upgraded with the Ubuntu 9.04 Netbook Remix (NBR) so I could play with it for a bit. I intended to install Windows XP just like all the others but I have had my mind changed. Here are my experiences.

First the Dell Mini 10v:

  • It has a wonderful keyboard, bigger and more usable than all the others.
  • The half-height SD Card slot means that you cannot easily extend the meagre 8gb SSD without an a card sticking out the side (I am sure the marketing team at Dell triumphed over the engineers on this one).
  • The ultra bright screen is the best I have seen, but the reflecting glass can be annoying. I prefer a mat finish eventhough I know this makes me a bit uncool.
Now the Ubuntu NBR:
  • I effortlessly installed it from a 1GB thumb drive.
  • All devices were detected, sound, video, microphone, wifi without the need for additional downloaded drivers.
  • The default sound volume was a little bit quiet but I rectified this by upping one of the sound channels.
  • When I used the wifi for the first time it wanted to join the default keyring with a password which I had to enter every time I came out of standby, I soon got rid of that. This might be a bit beyond your average user.
  • WAF: excellent, she opens it, the wifi connects, she uses Firefox to find what she wants, she closes it and puts it down again.
  • I haven't tried printing yet but that problem is bound to come up at some point.
  • NBR does not come with Skype and the Synaptic package manager does not show it.
  • I had difficulty coming to grips with Synaptic package manager but the convenient Ubuntu 'Add/Remove' was a bit more friendly.
  • I accidentally installed the swfdec Gnome Flash player instead of the Adobe one which caused problems on Youtube. I had to rectify that.
All in all NBR is proving to be a great experience and until I find something better I am sticking to it. Dell had already tested NBR before they launched the 10v (check out Doug Anson's video here) so they must have been hedging their bets. The shipped Ubuntu 8.04 which is starting to look a bit long in the tooth. A year is a long time in tech. The fixes in 9.04 make a much more polished experience than its predecessors. The anti-aliasing and improved wifi are the features which tip me over the edge. Come back in three month's time to see if I am still using it.

Posted by Robin Yellow at 15:39 5 comments  

Android Set to Replace Windows

Monday, 4 May 2009

Android will supplant Windows. It will become the preeminent OS for phones, netbooks, laptops and desktops.

Google is full of very smart people. They have created a browser and bought an OS company in Android. If they had wanted to take over the desktop then they would have bought Microsoft wouldn't they? So why didn't they? Perhaps they didn't have enough cash. Or perhaps they decided that the future of Operating Systems is not like the current model of Windows, OSX and Linux.

Let me explain why.

Windows 7 will be as small and compact and efficient as Windows Xp so it can run on Atom chip netbooks, the fastest growing segment of the PC industry. Microsoft took a step 'back' because the market has spoken. During the development of Vista the market was going in the opposite direction. Faster chips and Moore's law. Until somebody woke up one morning and said, "I just don't need all this power to run Firefox".

A Dell Mini 9 is completely silent. It has more in common with a mobile phone than a desktop computer.

  • The Atom chip does not consumes a lot of power (no more than 2.5Watts)
  • it will compete with the ARM chip when Intel start fabricating 32nm.
When Asus start making an Android netbook with an Atom chip and 12 hours battery life and the tools to do your job and no license to pay to Microsoft for Windows 7 then you will have something genuinely new. But why stop there. Who said you need more than a browser and a basic office suite to do your job on a desktop?

Android is community lead, with the backing of one of the world's most cash rich companies. This combination will ensure that Android is reliable and easy to use. Google ensures that it will get continual financial support. Who do you think paid for Firefox after all?

If you don't believe me then all you have to do is this. Close your eyes. Remember for a second that Linux powers most of the world's routers. Linux powers most of the world's web sites. KDE and Gnome try and almost succeed to compete with Windows, arguably the world's most ubiquitous piece of software. The battle for the desktop is only a battle in the eyes of Microsoft and Apple. Most people don't care. If Android comes along and does the job for 100 USD less then people will go for it. Firefox will soon become the world's most popular browser if you split IE6 and IE7 apart. Google funded Mozilla for the most part. Google have a track record of staying the distance and they are backing Android. Now open your eyes. See what I mean?

Posted by Robin Yellow at 14:01 3 comments