sábado, 30 de octubre de 2010

What the Pro-MS Office video does not say

Microsoft released a video attempting to persuade people to use their proprietary office suite. It starts like this:
"Considering Open Office.org? Consider this."

Not surprisingly, there has been a wide reaction to it and some people even claimed that Microsoft had finally revealed its true stance concerning open source software. Although I think that the Redmond company has the right to attack competitors, the information that they used for advertising their flagship product should not be fallacious, as this post proves when discussing the academic productivity issue brandished in the video. Basically, the video's core point is that MS Office (2007/2010) constitutes the best office solution in the market because of two features: its new interface and its interoperability and functionality.

Concerning the former, "Ribbon", as this new user interface is commonly called, has its lovers and haters. What is more significant is that Microsoft is trying to patent it and, hence, the company is becoming "a grave threat to the future of software development", as Mike Gunderloy, a former MS Contractor asserted.

In regards to interoperability and functionality, the issues are not normally visible to the common user. However, those technical flaws represent a major problem for companies that require specific features: 1, 2. What everyone knows is that, by pushing users to save documents in .docx instead of the standard de facto .doc format, Microsoft wanted to create a vendor lock in.

In addition, Microsoft is also slanting information to favor adoption of its office solution. I have heard several times that .docx is an ISO standard, just like .odt. That is simply not true. Basically, ISO approved .docx if certain changes were made to the format. This format version is called ISO/IEC 29500 "strict". The reality is that neither Office 2007 nor Office 2010 can generate the ISO standardized "strict" format and Microsoft has not committed to implement it.

The format that the company is using today is the version known as ISO/IEC 29500 "transitional", which ISO determined was not to be used for the creation of new documents. In other words, it can never be the default format for saving new documents as it does not have the status of an international standard and, therefore, it should not be used for electronic transmission or storage of documents.

This distinction is significant because official documents produced by government institutions, such as schools, have to be created following a principle of interoperability, which Microsoft has admitted not to follow with its default-save .docx.

Of course, the video omitted that detail. I wonder if Bailey Mitchell, who claims having "heard a collective sigh of relief" when the schools in Forsyth County returned to MS Office, and who is last quoted in the video, knows about this and saves new documents in .odt format instead of mindlessly pressing the save button in MS Office and generating a questionable .docx file...

domingo, 24 de octubre de 2010

Tux and the Sixth Sense: I See Dead Linux!


It was so comforting to read those features asserting the unquestionable death of the Penguin OS on desktop computers at last. Windows is growing; Linux is disappearing. That's the way it should be. Linux can stay on servers, mainframes, supercomputers, highly important systems, where it belongs, not inside computers used by plain people. After all, why would regular users want an OS that runs on supercomputers sitting on their home/work systems?

When I read the first article about the death of Linux desktop, a shock of unbelief went through my spine. Could it be true? Could the dreams of glory of these obnoxious Penguin lovers be shattered as broken glass by the supremacy of the Redmond empire that we love so much?

More posts came up; all of them reinforced the idea of how Linux plummeted. Hence, a smile of satisfaction appeared in my face as I tasted the wine brewed from victory.

However, something happened which began to unsettle me.


In my city, I had only seen a Linux computer in the wild: it was a bothering little aubergine desktop in a small restaurant. Except for that one, all of the computers that I have seen for public use were nice and friendly Windows systems. So, I expected the owner to come to his senses in a two-month period...Yet, the Ubuntu computer is still there after four months. It's one example of unexplainable phenomena in the world.

Then, I recall that only two professors used Linux netbooks in the Faculty of the University where I work. Those systems were like a pair of little insects; I knew their owners had to switch to Windows soon. But they never did. As a matter of fact, I realized that there is another professor that is running Linux on her netbook and now wants to put it on her laptop as well...And there's a dual boot desktop in one of the offices, too. Every time I see it, the machine is running Linux.

Does that mean that Linux on the desktop is still alive and kicking? No, that's simply not possible! The articles were very solid and convincing. There must be something wrong here.

Let me take a look at numbers again:

From 1 Ubuntu desktop, 1 Mandriva netbook, and 1 Mepis netbook, it has gone to 1 Ubuntu desktop, 1 Mandriva desktop, 2 Mandriva netbooks, 1 Mepis netbook, and 1 Mepis desktop in a five month period.

Slowly, unrest took hold of me as I attended an event in the Faculty last Friday. It was a speech about Open Source!

They are announcing an institutional migration to Linux!

From 4,000 licenses the University paid to Microsoft two years ago, they went down to 500 this year. With the additional budget, the University has managed to acquire new equipment for students. The madness has gone to some regional centers, where they have already substituted their Windows systems. The University is also promoting open culture with a repository called Kérwá. As if all this were not enough, the University has a mirror server for ... (the horror!) Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, and there is even an institutional customized version of Open Office!

My colleagues who went to the talk also want to migrate to Linux and Open Office! Didn't they see the beautiful video Microsoft produced explaining why you shouldn't? Or how the grades of students are affected negatively if they use Open Office instead of MS Office for their assignments?

Maybe people are actually reading the EULAs and they do not like the idea that you become a serf of Microsoft (a Microserf!)....I mean, if you neither own MS Office nor the proprietary formats (.doc, docx, etc) in which you save the files, how can you claim that the documents you produced are yours?...Could that be the reason explaining why professors and researchers here are gradually abandoning beautiful MS Office and its fair price? Or is it that they read the EULA and discovered that its terms are threatening their productivity?

But the story does not end there... Why should students of a Language School want to install Linux? They are simple users, not engineers! Linux is for GEEKS, not for normal people! Are they so geeky after all? What's wrong with them?? LINUX IS DEAD!!

I have suddenly realized that I must have paranormal powers... Yes, I have the Sixth Sense! Aaaargh!

Wanna know a secret...?
I see dead LINUX!

domingo, 17 de octubre de 2010

Is Ubuntu 10.10 the perfect rescue distro?

The coming of Canonical's new release, Maverick Meerkat, has stirred a beehive and we hear a lot of noise among Ubuntu fans lately. Claims like "the best Ubuntu release", "the fastest boot up", and "a truly horrible wallpaper" were repeated in many blogs. All these words in the wind have stung my curiosity.

Although I am not particularly a fan of Ubuntu, in my quest to find the perfect rescue distro, I decided to download the Meerkat Live CD and give it a try. One never knows...maybe Canonical discovered the philosopher's stone.

A rescue distro is what I call a GNU/Linux distribution that can help a computer user backup, restore, and modify files from other OSs sitting on different partitions. That is, a rescue distro does not need to be installed to achieve that purpose, otherwise most Linux distros would do the trick. Another characteristic that I ascribe to a rescue distro is its ease of use: a plain computer user should be able to resort to it without a great deal of effort or technical training.

Can the Meerkat enter the arena and claim the crown? To discover Ubuntu's potential as a rescue distro, I ran my newly-downloaded distro and
I found that the fast boot claim is true, even for a Live CD. The Meerkat started in less than 1:45 minutes, beating my install of SimplyMEPIS 8.5 and the boot of Mandriva 2010.1 ONE in Live mode (which takes a lot longer). There is a catch, however. Even though you see the familiar aubergine desktop, it is not ready for use: you get the installation/trial screen next. So, I chose "try" and the boot up sequence got a little prolonged. I could use the system after 3 minutes had elapsed. That is rather fast for a Live CD in my opinion.

Unfortunately, I cannot say anything about what new features Ubuntu brings for I am not familiar with this Linux distribution. I was not crazy about the wallpaper, but it was not so disturbing as the one I had seen Ubuntu fans criticize so much. I had also heard that this Ubuntu release would bring LibreOffice instead of OpenOffice.org, but I saw the latter.

Positive Side: performance and software
I liked the fact that you get an automatic preview of .ogg sound files by just hovering over the icon (this feature does not work with MP3s, though).
Firefox (3.6.10) runs fast, too. The dictionary is a nice add-on. Hibernation seems to be working (I am not sure because I was running a Live CD, but the computer reacted as it should have). Both my USB card reader and my MP4 player were supported. Wired network connectivity was perfect.

Negative Side: performance
Interestingly, Ubuntu Software Center crashed when I was just browsing the options the first time I used the Live CD (I tried to replicate the crash unsuccessfully, so maybe it was an isolated problem).

Although other partitions are mounted, the Meerkat did not let me delete files from any of them. I can copy files to a Windows partition from Ubuntu 10.10, but it is impossible to copy to or delete files from my Mandriva partition and, therefore, I must conclude that the Maverick Meerkat does not outperform SimplyMEPIS 8.0 for rescuing a troubled OS in Live mode. Maverick Meerkat might be very good to recover files from Windows in Live mode, but it did not work with a Linux system like Mandriva.

I must keep looking.

viernes, 15 de octubre de 2010

I know how to use Windows properly, so it's not my fault!

"I know how to use Windows properly, so it's not my fault."

With that declaration and the particular stress on the possessive adjective, Mr. Valmers started his testimony before the inquiring eyes of a judge and the jury members, who began whispering and shaking their heads in disapproval. They had listened to the technical report of a software expert before the afflicted average computer user sat in front of them.

Sensing the effect that his initial words had on the atmosphere of the room, Mr. Valmers paused timidly and cleared his throat before the microphone, causing listeners to tilt their heads for a second that became awkwardly long. Pierced by the prying eyes of the prosecutor, the fifty-something owner of an infected PC wished he could have uttered something like: "I know how to use Windows. I took courses to learn how to use my Windows computer, you know, so do not patronize me, techie." However, he just sat there, mute, as a target for the questions that, sooner or later, would dart from the mouth of the implacable man in front of him.

Mr. Valmers thought for a second. How could he prove that he did nothing wrong according to what he learned in those Windows courses he took? In spite of the fact that the expert had made it clear that such action was a pre-requisite for a secure Windows computer, no instructor had ever told him that he was supposed to disable autorun. Darn pedantic guy! But then, why was it that the stupid autorun feature was enabled by default in Windows if it was so dangerous? Mr. Valmers had done what he was told in four courses to be safe from malware: he bought an expensive antivirus (what a poor investment!), he had that software installed along with MS Security Essentials, and he made sure that the Windows firewall was on as he browsed the Web. Religiously, the man had downloaded antivirus updates and the traitor software never gave a warning of the infection that had him sitting as a fool in front of all those people that looked down on him.

"This is not fair," he heard himself say, "if autorun is so dangerous, or Windows is insecure, I am not to be blamed. I did not do anything to make my computer any more vulnerable than it was when I bought it."

How he wished that Microsoft's CEO, that bad-tempered bald guy, had been there in his place! This guy was actually the one who was responsible for all computer infections...He was the careless person that approved the release of such a defective product for mass consumption!

"It was your negligence that caused the infection. It was your computer, Mr. Valmers, which was spreading viruses to several Government institutions," charged the prosecutor, assuming a stance of superiority. "Your computer," he stressed with poorly-concealed satisfaction.

The possessive adjective lingered for an additional second on the thick air of the room and echoed inside Mr. Valmers' head. "Your computer, your computer," repeated a hypnotic voice while the man felt as an insect pinned on a wall.

All of a sudden, that simple four-letter word opened his heart with hope in a Joycean epiphany.

"Yes, sir, it was my computer," he replied. "But, according to the EULA, Windows is not my software. I do not own it. I did everything in my power to secure my computer, but I cannot do anything to improve the condition of the software".

Murmurs of the listeners grew until they became a tidal wave of noise that forced the judge to demand silence... (to be continued)


Yes, this is a piece of fiction I am working on. However, it can turn into a reality if people are dumb enough to accept Microsoft's newest trickery: a call for banning sick computers from the Internet. Read about it here.

Microsoft Windows 7 Starter EULA and customer abuse

Today, as I was reading this post, I decided to pay Microsoft a visit and download a copy of their glittering Windows 7 Starter EULA. I read some requirements that unsettled me. Let me transcribe an excerpt of the Windows 7 Starter EULA to tell you why those conditions are simply outrageous:

"By using the software, you accept these terms. If you do not accept them, do not use the software. Instead, contact the manufacturer or installer to determine its return policy. You must comply with that policy, which might limit your rights or require you to return the entire system on which the software is installed [...].

You may use the software as expressly permitted in this agreement. In doing so, you must comply with any technical limitations in the software that only allow you to use it in certain ways. You may not
  • work around any technical limitations in the software;
  • customize the desktop background
  • reverse engineer, decompile [...]
Certain features of other Windows 7 product editions, including Windows Aero and the ability to change the desktop background, are not included in this software." (Microsoft Windows 7 Starter EULA)

I doubt that Microsoft lawyers seriously expect users to comply with those ridiculous terms and conditions. First, an interesting tautological falsehood is created if you must accept the software (Windows 7 Starter) with all its flaws and the license forbids you from "working around technical limitations". If you accept the conditions of this EULA and take Windows vulnerability to malware as one of the implicit "technical limitations in the software", the logical implication is that the EULA itself forbids you to install an antivirus solution to protect your Windows system. Of course, lawyers will claim that the clause refers to improving the OS itself, not "helping it" with additional software. However, the contradiction lies on the fact that the EULA makes the OS and the system an indivisible unit (remember: you must return the computer if you do not accept the license). Therefore, if hardware (tangible, made by an OEM) is ridiculously bundled with software (intangible, made by Microsoft), why would they claim that other software running on the OS to protect it is not an indispensable part of the system? Because it is third-party software, not Microsoft's, they will probably say. Well, how about the hardware the OS is running on? Is not that third-party, too? Why is it that I must return the hardware if I reject the software (Windows), then? After all, the hardware was not made by Microsoft. I suppose that Microsoft representatives would say that it is because the OEM agreed to install Windows. If that is the case, then the OEM should be required to agree to the EULA, not the computer buyer.

The situation, however, becomes even more ridiculous with the second clause. The statement is categorical; there is not any ambivalence to it. I guess you can even rephrase it as a biblical commandment: "Thou shall not customize the desktop background".

Basically, dissatisfied people who found third-party programs to change the hideous Windows 7 Starter background are against the law. Yes, they are violating the Second Law of Microsoftics. Period. There is no argument about it. Nevertheless, I do not see Microsoft's legal war machinery aiming its weapons at them. Why not? Well, because the progenitors of the unpopular 7 Starter knew from the beginning that sober people would never comply with such buffoonery and that other software companies would palliate the situation which, in the end, saved Microsoft's face (yes, Starter seems to be a rival for Clippit's unpopularity). That is why the Redmond bully never filed a lawsuit against Oceanis, for example, even though the latter company produced a program designed exclusively to make users break the "unalterable background" law.

Interestingly, Microsoft's failure to launch an attack to force users respect the content of the Windows 7 Starter EULA spawns yet another contradiction: Can this permissiveness be taken as a signal of amnesty toward infringement? If so, then the whole content of the EULA goes void, which means that I can pirate Windows 7 without any concern. But you know how this would end: Microsoft lawyers would not hesitate to take me to court if I do.

I wonder what would happen if people realized how anti-democratic these EULAs are. Not only do these irrational licenses cut your freedom, but they also establish discriminatory policies against users who "rebel" against them. This looks more like fascism than anything else to me. (The image was censored because it depicted inappropriate content for Microsoft, I suppose. After all, any visual connection that you make between this company and fascism is perceived as such regardless of the clearly anti-democratic practices the company promotes. What attribution does this company have to "limit my rights" as an individual and transfer the execution of this violation to OEMs?)

miércoles, 13 de octubre de 2010

SimplyMepis 8.5 Challenge: Conclusions

Although Xandros introduced me to the world of Linux, Mandriva was my definite choice for both desktop and netbook use. I am a regular computer user, not a techie, so Mandriva became a perfect selection because it is easy to use, beautiful, and functional. However, among the many Linux distributions, there is one that generally goes unnoticed: SimplyMEPIS. This is a distribution that can beat Mandriva's simplicity and, thus, I decided to install it and test it for a week to compare them. Of course, my feedback is not technical; my impressions are those of a common computer user that has used Mandriva for almost two years without any formal Linux training. In the last days of my experiment, this is what I saw:

A. Repositories: Synaptic vs Mandriva Control Center
I had assumed that my previous usage of Synaptic in Linux Mint was enough training to use Synaptic in SimplyMepis. However, I stumbled on the installation of VLC because I used the Debian repositories for that purpose and they have dependency conflicts. I tried to undo what I did, but I could not trace my steps back appropriately and could not improve the quality of video.
However, I could solve the low volume problem. I also had some problems adding the Mepis Community Repositories.
I guess that my problems were generated because you cannot transfer the experience of using Mandriva Control Center to Synaptic so easily after all. In Mandriva, you have Mandriva repositories by default, so it never occurred to me that you had to add Mepis Community Repositories manually.

B. KDE/Plasma crashes
Even though both distributions work with KDE very well, they both have certain issues:
MEPIS: When opening kmplayer, KDE crashes. I think that it is because of the mess I made with codecs trying to install VLC. Sometimes MEPIS suspends the composition and the effects are therefore disabled temporarily.
MANDRIVA: The clock sometimes freezes (only in the netbook). This is corrected by enabling the display of seconds in the clock options.

Concerning performance and ease of use, both distributions can satisfy the needs of users who lack technical computer knowledge or formal Linux training. I feel that SimplyMepis might be a better choice for users who want a simple system and do not really care much for eye candy. In addition, Mepis comes with Java pre-installed, whereas you must install it in Mandriva.

I decided to keep Mepis next to Mandriva in my netbook's HD for further learning.

sábado, 9 de octubre de 2010

Thank you, Linux! My Windows computer is infected

That's right. My desktop, which runs Windows, is infected and I blame Linux.

As it normally happens in these cases, this new infection in my XP system can be traced back to user carelessness. However, I think that calling me "careless" is not fair for I did everything on the book (and more!) to keep a Windows machine healthy:

1. I have an updated antivirus, which runs full scans when I turn the PC on.
2. My firewall was up and running.
3. I have additional anti-malware software for protection.
4. Firefox is my browser and I installed add-ons for extra security.
5. I neither open suspicious email attachments nor visit questionable sites.

Since I was not careless, I am not the culprit. However, if I did something wrong, this is it: I have been flirting with Linux for over a year. Yes, Linux is guilty, not I, for the infection of my Windows computer!

Let me explain: After a whole year of using Linux (mainly Mandriva, but now Mepis because of an experiment I indulged in), my security sense became somewhat softened. After all, I do not use any antivirus to go online with Linux and the computer has never gotten infected during all this time. In addition, USB viruses cannot jump onto the hard drive and, thus, I suppose I grew over-confident. But it was not my fault! Linux made me do it!!

I used this public computer and saved a file onto my USB drive. Then, because I am accustomed to working without any concern thanks to Linux, I forgot to check the USB contents. When I returned home, I booted my desktop computer in Windows and plugged the infected USB drive.

Since Windows XP has become a little slow, I went for a cup of coffee and, when I returned, my computer was behaving in a way that I had not seen for quite long, yet not one I can call completely unfamiliar. My firewall was flashing alert messages crazily, the antivirus could not be updated, and the system froze on me as I sat dumbfounded. As you can see, THE PENGUIN NUMBED MY WINDOWS SECURITY SENSE!

Had this happened two years ago, my reaction would have been one of total despair and indescribable suffering. I would felt miserable anticipating the days trying to restore my system and I would have probably called myself a large assortment of expletives.

Today, all I can say is...THANK YOU, LINUX!

Yes, thank you, because Windows is boiling with viruses and I just do not care. Linux has taught me to relax when Windows is infected because my productivity is not brought to an abrupt halt. Even when Windows is down, my computer can WORK!

I am not irresponsible; I am realistic. According to this post, awareness is paramount during a computer infection. I am aware that MY COMPUTER IS NOT INFECTED; WINDOWS IS. As a matter of fact, I can boot this same PC in Mandriva and work normally, unaffected by the condition of the Windows partition. I think that it is far more irresponsible to make people believe that Windows problems are equivalent to PC problems. That is misinforming the public, you know?

Oh, but the author also suggests that I should be concerned about my files. Well, if I need a particular file, I can access the sick Windows partition and retrieve it with Linux, so, why to worry? Let the viruses feast on the OS that cannot protect itself appropriately for a while. When I can spare four days or so, I'll take care of the pesky little hungry thingies. Right now, I am extremely busy and have no time to lose babysitting an OS that, like a spoiled child, selfishly craves for undeserved attention.

jueves, 7 de octubre de 2010

Simply Mepis 8.5 challenge: the first four days

I decided that it was time for me to test SimplyMepis 8.5, so that I could have a closer impression of this efficient Linux distribution to write a non-technical review. As I promised, I have been running SimplyMepis consistently for four days now and these are my first findings:

DAY 1: Access to networks and browser customization
Mepis magic was a perfect match for Mandriva magic concerning picking up networks, both wired and wireless. I had to do absolutely nothing: just click to see the available networks and then click again to pick one Actually, I am typing this post from Mepis, using a wireless connection down here in campus four days after the experiment started. I downloaded my favorite add-ons for Firefox and customized it.

DAY 2: Desktop configuration and package installation
I had anticipated that, being a Mandriva user, the lack of an orchestrator of all the processes in Mepis could bother me a little. After all, Mandriva Control Center has become an innovation that some other Linux distributions aspire to emulate. However, my previous training with Linux Mint enabled me to use Synaptic without a great effort. Visually, there was a difference between downloading packages with Synaptic and doing it with MCC, but it was nothing to be traumatized about. I tried to customize the KDE desktop a little. I noticed some unresponsiveness of the desktop cube, but that was nothing I ignored, so I counted it as a minor bother. What actually became a major headache was the placement of four different wallpapers on each side of the cube. Everytime I booted the computer, the wallpaper images would play hide and seek with me. Sometimes, the images I selected went to a different cube side; some other times, they would be replaced at random and I would get a solid light blue wallpaper instead. I was also familiar with that behavior because Mandriva 2010 (Adelie) was shipped with the same KDE environment and, consequently, would show the same Kproblem...after several trials, I think that the four wallpapers have finally stabilized.

Package installation went fine. I installed Cheese! for the cam (it can take snapshots, but I do not get cam image) and then tried to install aMSN. That was a real problem because it would not finish installing a dependency, so used Kopete.

DAY 3: More installation and configuration
I tried installing aMSN again and it turns out that a Debian server might have been down because the installation went smoothly. Aside from that, there is not much to say because the computer is working perfectly.

DAY 4: General use
I have used SimplyMepis for my everyday work (typing letters, checking email, sending documents, opening video/audio files) and it has met all my needs magnificiently. I hardly find any problem other than my Mandriva customary behavior. Well, and maybe the visual impact was also a minor concern when I started. However, I am used to seeing the Mepis dark blue by now.

To sum up, my experience as a Mandriva user handling Mepis is satisfactory up to this point. SimplyMepis is not simply a disappointment. I think that it rivals Mandriva in its KDE handling...maybe a simplified experience than the one I am used to with Mandriva, but Mepis had given me little to complain about.

What's next? The following days I will try a multimedia class. This will let me assess the video display and the sound quality.

domingo, 3 de octubre de 2010

A challenge for a Mandriva user: SimplyMepis!

After I read Megatotoro's stats on his Mepis experience here, and the honest and motivating reviews of SimplyMepis 8.5 by Susan Linton and Rudresh Jariwala, I decided that it was about time for me to try this admirable Debian-based Linux distribution on a consistent day-to-day basis.

I mean, I have seen it work before and I even gave a SimplyMepis Live CD it to a colleague who trashed his XP system in a way I would have never imagined possible. Thanks to Mepis, we could back up his files...and resurrect his computer! I even used Mepis myself to achieve the same purpose when I was learning about Mandriva 2009 and my experiments went seriously wrong.

It is not that I am letting Mandriva go. As a Desktop Linux, I am extremely satisfied with Mandriva 2010 Spring. However, as a rescue distro, Mandriva is not a good choice: you neither have software for burning, nor access to other partitions in Live mode, which is not convenient if something happens to your Windows system.

What happens if you, like me, experiment with your Linux and break it? To be able to rescue my files sitting on the Mandriva partition, I had Linux Mint Gloria as a second boot choice in my netbook. I kept this Ubuntu-based distribution in another partition of my Dell Inspiron Mini10 and I used it from time to time, attracted mainly by its green freshness. Nevertheless, to be honest, despite Mint's elegance, I decided that it was time for me to share the house with Mepis, the poor prince, one of the least known Linux distributions that actually does its work well.

Megatotoro was kind enough to remove Gloria and install Mepis for me, after which, as in the Sioux hanblecchia, I was left alone on the hilltop...or, more accurately, inside the Mepis pyramids. This is the beginning of my challenge: For the next week, I will only use Mepis on my netbook to feel the differences. Remember, since I am not a computer guru, all I have is my limited empiric access to this fascinating world.

What do I think I might find problems with?
Well, the lack of the Mandriva Control Center will probably bother me a little, I can anticipate. The slow Kwin effects might also be an issue. In spite of that, I am willing to learn; I want to openly experience Mepis and I will log my observations later.

viernes, 1 de octubre de 2010

OS representations and the choice of migration

I have noticed that there are several representations of Linux and Windows that are used to dissuade people from migrating. Unfortunately, an uninformed migration normally ends up in disappointment and, as a result, hurt people resort to disqualifying depictions again in a never-ending circle. I decided to list some of those representations here as a reminder of the fanboy spirit that rests upon the pedestal of prejudice.

1. Windows, the Imaginary Friend

Many users, blind because Windows constitutes their only experience with an OS, simply reject the opportunity to try Linux. Their perception of satisfaction has been dulled by years of exposure to the same problems, to the point that they just accept those shortcomings as "natural". These people are not to be blamed, though. After all, when one is immersed into a paradigm, rarely is it that one questions the nature of the experience one is going through. So, as major security flaws and abusive policies become the air these people breathe, they consider themselves satisfied if they can obtain an "additional feature for free". I cannot but think of MS Security Essentials because these people fall for deals like those you see in TV offers ("If you buy the hair styler now, you get, completely free, the power cord!") or they are even willing to pay to unlock OS features that were previously given to them (wallpapers or language packs in Windows 7 Starter, anyone?). Yet, they think Windows is their loving friend...A friend that rips them off time and again...But they are happy!

2. Linux, the Deadly Monster

MS evangelists do train people to bluntly reject Linux. This is not a myth; I had an encounter with one of those brain-washed professionals once and she tried to disqualify Linux even though Windows made her look like a fool during her presentation.

When you mention the word "Linux" to these individuals, they cringe and gnaw wildly. It is true that they have no practical reason or criterion to badmouth the penguin, but they do it just the same because it is part of their creed. I suppose that they sing:
"Mine eyes have seen the glory,
of good, old Microsoft.
It is trampling out the kernel
where the Linux code is stored..."
or something like that before they are sent to the world. These people are self-deluded and become irritated if they see Linux succeed in public...especially if Windows failed at performing the same task.

3. Linux, the Redeemer

"Break the shackles of tyranny! Go Linux!," cry out certain people for whom Linux has become the solution for computer problems, social injustice, environmental disasters, and metaphysical concerns. They are the Linux equivalent of the MS evangelists I described above.

Let us be realistic: yes, Linux can give solutions to a number of computer-based concerns and it can make your computer more appealing and practical once you know how to work with it. However, if you believed that Linux is the promised land, then remember there was a long pilgrimage on rough desert terrain to get there. This applies particularly well to Windows users who simply grabbed an Ubuntu Live CD and installed Canonical's distro thinking that it would magically read all hardware (something that Windows cannot do, either, unless you have the drivers) and, after banging their heads on walls, they curse ALL Linux distributions today...or Mandriva users who update to Cooker and wonder why the computer is not working as it was before...Yes, believe it or not, there are people who actually do that and later blame Linux!

4. Linux, My Bodyguard

For these beginner Linux users, Linux represents an all-mighty fortress that stands impenetrable. Consequently, they engage in all sorts of risky on line behavior. While it is a fact that Linux is more secure than Windows is, the hubris of these tragic heroes gradually leads them to their destruction...or to the bitter realization that a great many of the attacks a computer can suffer are fostered by a careless user.

Fanboys always wage wars based on prejudice. Regardless of the OS you like, an open mind will help you fly over the clouds of ignorance and, eventually, you can make a conscious choice about whether or not your OS satisfies your needs or if a migration is the solution to your computer woes or the beginning of them.

Steam client crash in OpenMandriva Lx 4.1 Fixed!

After fixing some boot problems (due to a careless update of another OS), I discovered that Steam is now working in OpenMandriva 4.1. Grea...