You gotta LOVE Micro$oft

[sarcasm]You absolutely have to love M$ for their fantastic business sense and fair tactics they use to accomplish their business objectives.[/sarcasm] There was this guy I went to college with who never did any original work. I mean, we used to go into the library and he’d pull up 15 articles on the subject his paper was and he’d pull 15 different paragraphs out of each of them. Then he’d ever-so-slightly change the words around a bit. Then he’d re-arrange the paragraphs so that it was harder to track down and he’d pass it off as his original paper. I would have to say, he must have graduated and gotten a job at Microsoft…because that is what they’re trying to do now.

According to eWeek,”Microsoft is claiming some form of IP rights over ‘a total of 130 protocols which Microsoft is offering for license.’ ”  The stupid part about it is that these IP Rights are IETF RFC (request for comment) documents. Microsoft cannot show patent support for these claims, but on the other hand, no one can show that they don’t have rights to these claims either.

One thing is certain, if things get down and dirty…M$ will have the financial and legal means to prosecute or bully anyone they feel they need to in order to make a point or an example.  Perhaps something should be done in the open source community to counteract this.  I would say that a large number of open source supportive companies banding together to offer support for each other and the movement would suffice…but of course this won’t happen.  They’re trying currently without much success…just do a search using your favorite search engine on “Linux Core Consortium” and look at the list of names that are absent from full support….among them are Redhat, Novell, and Sun Microsystems.

cAos Linux is out…

Tonight, I gave cAos Linux a try.  I was really interested in it because it had a gnome default desktop with an Xfce backup…it had a nice bootsplash and really looked nifty via screenshots.  It also had a really interesting custom written installer called cinch.  However, after the install, it failed to boot.  So I tried just about every boot option I could possibly try during the install without success.  So…I’ll be forced to trim cAos from the list at this time.  For this experiment, desktop Linux MUST work out of the box.  CAos fell short (unfortunately).

On a positive note, PCLinuxOS 8 came out recently…so I’ll be downloading that and giving it a go here shortly.  I’m kinda bummed that cAos didn’t want to play nice…I was really looking forward to it.  Oh well.  So, up next will be PCLinuxOS and I’ll have a post about my initial impression within the next couple of days.

SELinux…the future of Linux?

Many of you may have heard recently that Fedora Core 3 contains “SELinux” or Security Enhanced Linux.  Then you may just say, “ bout that” and move on.  Most of us don’t realize what SELinux actually is and where it came from.  Recently there is a new book entitled, “SELinux NSA’s Open Source Security Enhanced Linux” that has been published by Bill McCarty for the O’Reilly Network.

I first noticed and downloaded SELinux about 2 years ago when there was no documentation supporting anything with it.  I installed it, configured it, and had a server set up in about a day.  I’ll have to say that it is just as easy to work on as a slackware box and most of my documentation issues were solved in slackware forums.  Does this mean it utilizes packages from slack?  No…everything is from source but there isn’t any cool portage or emerge system to manage things.  You simply have to know what you’re doing.  But recently, Distributions are now packaging the secure functions of SELinux into their respected distros.

From the LinuxInsider article, “In December 2000, researchers at the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) working with Network Associates and MITRE released a B1 Class operating system to the public known as SELinux. Although many Linux professionals have heard of SELinux, few recognize that its heritage reaches back to the work of David Bell and Leonard LaPadula, work begun in 1973. Bell and LaPadula’s work helped define the criteria that make up the U.S. Government’s Trusted Computer System Evaluation Criteria (TCSEC).”

There is much attention focused by some of the more cutting edge distributions like Fedora Core, Gentoo and the beta release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4. The question becomes, will other distros follow? Should they follow? I think the answer is a definitive yes on this issue.? But if all distros flock to this standard will it lessen its importance?  Perhaps.  Perhaps it will become ‘run of the mill’ and assumed until the next big thing comes along.  And perhaps it won’t.


2 down, 4 to go

Thus far, I’ve taken a quicklook at two distributions of Linux and provided limited feedback on them. I’m just running through the installations for these distributions so that I don’t hit any snags later on when I’m installing them for this blogs’ featured article…where I will have my wife who has no Linux experience work with one distribution per week and report back her feelings/thoughts on that distro.

I’ve decided that the order I’m currently going in is the order that I should keep when I kick things off. I’ll start with Mandrake, shift to MEPIS, follow on with PCLinuxOS, switch to cAos Linux, then to Libranet, then to Fedora C3. Why have FC3 last?? Ask a FC3 user and they’ll tell you it is the best distro out there. So, I’m going to ‘save the best for last’ (their opinion…not mine…yet).

So this entry serves as an update as to what I’m actually doing. All commentary from my wife and her Linux experience will be in the ‘reviews’ category. All commentary from myself will be in the ‘distros’ category. As I stated previously, if you want an unbiased comparison between the top ‘point and click’ Linux desktops…stay tuned. This truly will be a unique ride.

Update: I forgot to mention that I will be soon posting the review criterion that my wife will be using to compare the distros. This should be fairly straightforward but will be based entirely on the point of view of someone who has NO Linux experience…so things such as connectivity, sound, and graphics that aren’t operational out of the box will be something she will be looking at. If things are golden, she’ll give kudos where kudos are due. If not, she’ll be fair in her critique. It’s going to be really, really interesting. At the end of things, we’ll summarize both my critiques and hers. From there, we’ll draw a conclusion on what the best ‘out of the box’ ‘point and click’ Linux desktop is.

SimplyMEPIS 2004.04 after 2 days

I have to admit that I’m a bit biased toward SimplyMEPIS. I was a hardcore MEPIS enthusiast for most of the year last year…even had a site dedicated entirely to the Linux desktop and SimplyMEPIS. However, that was then and this is now. I will attempt to refrain from my bias toward MEPIS as much as possible.
MEPIS truly is a fantastic distribution. The hardware detection far surpasses even Knoppix. Hands down, this is the best distribution I’ve evern installed. Everything works right out of the box. I only have to to touch my sound. It installed itself to the network, detected my W2K fileserver, detected all my shares drives, detected my multimedia machine….detected EVERY single piece of hardware I’ve got installed in the computer…I was waiting for it to detect me and flash onto the screen, “Installing devnet, please wait…”
There’s not much this distro can’t do. It takes advantage of Debian repositories which means it can install anything Debian can. It’s a Live CD so it can be ‘test run’ before you actually install it. The cool thing about it is that you have 7 clicks of the mouse to a full on Debian install. Try that one with anaconda! 😛 I’m not going to spend much time on this one because I’ve used it soooo much. I’m going to retire this distro early and move on to ones I’m not used to using.
Remember, I’m just cycling through the 6 distros first for a quick look. My wife will be test driving the rest of these with detailed new user insite for an unbiased look at Linux. That’s right, 6. I’ve decided to add caOs Linux to the mix. Someone recommended it to me and I’ve determined I’d like to give it a go. Therefore, to end this silly entry…the distro list is up to 6 now and I will be pressing my quicklooks at these distros away from MEPIS and toward caOs Linux. Thus far, Mandrake and MEPIS are down, 4 more to go.

Solaris, Open Source, and the Schwartz…

Ran across a nice blog entry from Sun Microsystems’ main man Jonathan Schwartz…and find myself disagreeing whole-heartedly with him. Who am I? I am the customer he’s been touting is always right. With this being said, I’m telling him he’s wrong. Utilizing his logic, I’m 100% right about this point. 🙂

Mr. Schwartz,

You stated that “it’s increasingly evident the OS wars are down to three – Microsoft Windows, Sun’s Solaris, and Red Hat’s Linux.” Let’s talk a bit more about this. First, some background.

Solaris will soon release it’s version 10, which I will download when it is made available. I was pretty impressed with Solaris 9. However, I also understood that many people out there would not be too impressed with it…because the average customer doesn’t deploy large networks. The average person who drives the market checks email, surfs the web, and chats with an IM client. Mr. Schwartz, I’m going to let you in on a little secret that most open source users know and that few large CEO’s and companies don’t….he who wins the desktop will win the world. Microsoft realizes this and that’s why they are winning right now. It’s not how many servers you can sign up or how many contracts you fill. It is BRAND RECOGNITION that gets you the market…both servers AND desktops. I ask the question…where is JDS? It’s still choking itself on older versions of the gnome and KDE window managers (by the way, JDS= Java Desktop System…which runs on Linux? Maybe some clarification is in order). Until you achieve brand recognition on the desktop market, you’ll never rule the server market.

The only 2 vendors that can claim to even attempt to satisfy any niche of the market is Novell and Microsoft. Novell with it’s Dell Server Line AND HP Desktop and Microsoft with Server 2003 and XP/Longhorn. RedHat has decidedly enterered into this forray, albeit late, with their Redhat desktop. JDS lags behind even further. And yet Mr. Schwartz, you still claim to be in the top three. The top three without any brand recognition. Sure you have some, but not with common users. Allow me to ellaborate:

I took some classes at the local college lately to broaden my horizons. In this class, we talked about javascript, Java, applets, and ActiveX in relation to web browsers and operating systems. When told that Sun Microsystems is Java…most people didn’t even know who your company was or where it was based or what technology it was based on. They knew Java was something you needed during web browsing and that was it. Remember that these are CIS and MIS majors. Also remember that there are no mentionings of Solaris in the textbooks that these students are learning out of…but there are mentionings of Linux and Microsoft (less for linux of course). You’re losing the desktop market and subsequently setting yourself up to fail in the server market.

If we were face to face right now Mr. Schwartz, I’d offer you a cup of coffee and a bundle of roses. That way you would either wake up and smell the roses…or take time to smell the coffee 🙂 Good luck with that Solaris thing…I’ve been a loyal user since Solaris 2.0. I’ll hate to see it go.

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