It’s never a good day when a significant, some would say dominant, company enters “your” market. You will always hear the usual “it validates our marketspace”… but it is also usually the sound of the beginning of the end…

This has happened before:

  • Lotus 1-2-3 Vs Microsoft Excel
  • Novell Netware Vs Microsoft
  • Yahoo Vs Google

Next on the list:

It may be that Google’s (second) entry into the Operating System marketplace will boost Ubuntu and Linux in general. However, even though ChromeOS might be initially targetted at Netbooks and similar systems, I suspect that it won’t be long before we see a “Server” version, and more likely a “Cloud” version… watch out Amazon ECC!

I’m sure that people will also point to the vast installed base that Ubuntu currently has, but it seems that Linux users are a fickle lot, and will happily try out a new Linux distribution, especially if it comes with the promise of even more “ease-of-use”, not to mention a “trusted” brand. The hardware vendors are no different… they will all, to differing degrees, support and fulfill a customer demand, following the market trends.

And my last random thought: maybe Google should buy Sun’s hardware business from Oracle 🙂
[But I suspect Google has even less inclination to be a hardware vendor than does Oracle!]

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Microsoft and Virtualization

January 16, 2009

Microsoft Windows

I have a varied selection of Operating Systems installed on various systems that I use. However one thing is quite clear (to me at least), each OS is there for a reason, and usually that is down to the fact that I need it for a particular application (personal preference), or that’s what policy dictates is on the machine 😉

To the point… I have in the recent past defaulted to “install a Linux distro.” on any machine that I have to use for myself… this is likely due to three things:

  1. I generally have a DVD of a Linux distro. to hand
  2. I know (somewhat) what I am doing with Linux
  3. Linux is free (as in beer, as well as freedom), so I can legally install it anywhere I so choose. ¹

However, lately, I get the feeling I’ve been too Linux-centric, and have been missing out on what Windows has to offer. For example, my work laptop, has Vista installed, which, you know, isn’t so bad [gasp!]. My usage for that system is pretty straightforward – I need to *get my job done*, and that usually means E-mail (our corporate standard is Exchange, and Outlook 2007 works well enough), and a selection of Office 2007 applications – for interoperability reasons, I don’t have much choice there, and frankly the applications are very good, but for the price, they should be!

The bottom line is that I’m probably too focused on the mono-culture that is Linux 🙂 and perhaps I should broaden my horizons to include some of those Microsoft Operating Systems too. So I will make a New Year’s Resolution to try installing some Windows OS on machines that need a new OS for a change.

Perhaps I’ll even try a Beta of the new Windows 7. A handy install guide is on Guillaume Field’s blog. In fact maybe I’ll even go so far as trying it out on my rather nice Dell Mini-9, according to Guillaume’s Guide to Installing Windows 7 on a Dell Mini-9.

Full disclosure: I work with Guillaume, and frankly he generally knows what he is doing with Microsoft products, so I would bookmark that blog if you ever think you might want to hear about Microsoft’s latest toys!

¹ I probably have  enough COA stickers attached to the back/underside of various systems for me to legally install Windows everywhere too 🙂

How-To Pages

June 10, 2007

I seem to struggle to maintain my “post-it note” technical database, all those handy configuration hints/URLs that are invaluable to setting up technology…

…in order to eliminate the frustration of having to look stuff up that I know “I have somewhere”, I’m digitizing it, bit by bit. Feel free to have a look, and see if there’s something useful there for you.

Main “How-To” page.

A guide to Setting up a PXE Boot Environment with openSUSE Linux.

On reflection, this would be a handy place to stash all of those paper instruction manuals that go astray. Maybe that’s a project for another day.

It seems there have been a few more departures from Novell in recent weeks.

“Reverend” Ted Haeger – a leading light in Novell & Linux Advocacy. I met with him briefly whilst at Novell, on one of his many flying visits to the UK, he certainly left an impression on me! 🙂

My good friend Roger, also pointed out that Robert Love – one of the key Linux desktop developers, and ex-primate, is also on his way to pastures new.

And some re-organization of the Linux structure within the company:

Novell dissolves its Linux Impact Team. To find out where some of the ex-LIT folks are, a website has been set-up to track them 🙂 http://www.ex-lit.org/

For completeness sake, I should name-check a couple of S.u.S.E “alumni” sites:

http://www.exsuse.de/

http://www.goodbye-dots.de/

I’m sure Novell will survive without these guys, but, as always, it will be a different place.

TiVo: UK Comeback?

April 23, 2007

Mike Ramsey (former TiVo CEO), told the Sunday Herald in an interview that TiVo may be planning a return to the UK market. Although, rather than supply it’s own hardware, as it did initially (the Thomson Scenium – still to be seen on the front page of the UK TiVo website http://www.tivo.co.uk/) the intent seems to be to embed TiVo software into Freeview set-top boxes.

Ironically, TiVo’s biggest direct competitor in the UK is likely to be Sky, with it’s Sky+ PVR hardware and service. TiVo originally licensed their technology to Sky, however Sky chose not to use the TiVo software in their set top boxes. Not to mention the fact that on power-up my (UK) TiVo advertise the fact that it is “recommended by Sky”.

I am a fan of TiVo, having had a Thomson Scenium since 2003, and I’m dreading the day it dies. The TiVo user-interface is beautifully resolved… simple and easy enough for my kids to use, yet sophisticated enough to do things such as smart capture of complete seasons of shows (Season Pass feature). From what I’ve heard from folk who have tried both TiVo and Sky+, it seems that the TiVo UI seems to be superior to that offered by Sky.

At the time I bought my TiVo, I had some very clear aims, in terms of getting a cost effective system that just worked, straight out of the box, which TiVo does, well. Doing it all again now, for a number of reasons, I would more than likely go down a different path, and create a system based on the open source project MythTV. One of the reasons is that the maturity of the MythTV project today allows for a smooth installation, and it “just works”, as long as you stick to known supported hardware. Ultimately a system based on MythTV is far more powerful and flexible than a TiVo ever can be, despite the fact that, at least originally, TiVo supported the “pimping” of their hardware. For example my own TiVo (long since out of warranty) has had a hard-disk upgrade to a total of 240Gb, and a marvellous caching controller/network card, which allows a web interface (TiVoWeb) to be used to control the TiVo remotely, very handy.

This brings me to one of the other reasons why I would likely prefer a MythTV solution. Initially TiVo (the company) was quite hacker friendly, encouraging people to play with the hardware, to see what could be done. In fact the original UK TiVo was a PowerPC based Linux system, source code modifications all available, natch, as per the requirements of GPL v2.

However, beginning with the Series 2 TiVo generation (never officially available in the UK), TiVo hardware required all software to be digitally signed before it would run on the TiVo. This process has since become known as “Tivoization“. As with all heated debates, there are two sides to the story, with some prominent supporters and detractors to this apparent restriction of use of GPL’d software.

I can sympathize with TiVo, as, clearly they are subsidizing the cost of the hardware, and could feel that they have a legitimate claim to restrict how that hardware is used, after all they are selling an appliance – i.e. a hardware/software/service combination. TiVo must be able to make money from this! I would prefer it if TiVo stayed in business to provide me with the EPG service that I signed up for when I purchased my TiVo.

The flip side to this, is of course, if you use/bundle software that is made available under a particular license, in this case GPL v2, then you should abide by both it’s spirit & letter. My former employer Novell, has recently been thrust into some uncomfortable lime-light due to it’s agreement with Microsoft; which included a component including some form of patent protection/cross-licensing for customers of Novell’s SUSE Linux product . A deal, ostensibly about improving the (Novell & Microsoft) customer experience, which all the customers I spoke to were extremely pleased with, incurred the justifiable wrath of much of the Free Software Community. The deal with Micorosft even cost Novell a couple of good people, including lead Samba developer, and all round nice guy Jeremy Allison.

I am not a lawyer. My understanding is thatGPL v3 will seek to address issues such as Tivoization, and possibly outlaw parts of the agreement between Novell and Microsoft, but I digress.

I hope that TiVo does come back to the UK.

[From the TVSquad Blog: http://www.tvsquad.com/2007/04/22/tivo-could-return-to-the-uk/]

[Also, from HDTiVo Blog: http://hdtivo.wordpress.com/2007/04/21/107/]

Back-dating of posts

April 4, 2007

I’ve probably broken some cardinal rule of blogging by back-dating a post…

… but in case you’re interested there’s a new “first” post, scroll all the way to the bottom!