jueves, 28 de octubre de 2010

On Open Source and Academic Productivity...

Yesterday, I finished the analysis of a survey I passed for one of my courses.
I used tables, pie graphs, bar graphs, and many of those features people love to see when data analysis is presented.

Oh...I also used Open Office to build the whole thing.

That reminded me of the video bashing Open Office that Microsoft launched, I presume, as part of their "We LOVE Open Source" campaign.

The video, which some view as a desperate rant by the Redmond giant while others see it as an implicit warning of the dangers a hasty migration may cause, called my attention when it mentioned the academic sphere...

Can the use of Open Office actually cause students to get lower grades? Tricky question.

I guess those who answer "YES" are just viewing the side of the students. Students are used to their "friendly" MS Office 2007/2010 and since the "backwards" school uses Open Office, they "are penalized" because of format incompatibilities. The scenario may also be inverse: a student who uses Open Office faces the rage of a teacher who is used to MS Office...

Now...this second case is the one I want to analyze. As an educator, the model of a school penalizing a student because he/she used X technological tool makes me reflect on some of the purposes of education: empowering people with knowledge, promoting tolerance, and valuing diversity.

Are teachers entitled to take out points or **shudder** reject an assignment because students used a technological tool other than that the teacher knows or likes?

Education is very powerful. It either frees people or domesticates them. As part of the education system of my country, I always hope I am doing the first and I work my best for that purpose. After all, what value is a teacher if he/she cannot help his/her students to learn how to face the world by themselves? What good is a teacher who contents himself/ herself by making small replicas of his/her own being? "I use MS Office, so YOU use it, or lose!" I cannot believe people promoting that ideology may call themselves teachers.

Now...how can schools then justify having teachers who lower grades on account of students using different technological tools? Those are not schools; those are intellect-killing institutions. Those are factories taming potential winners and turning them into part of the herd. Schools are for humanizing and freeing individuals, not for turning them into mindless beasts that just follow the rest without complaining.

"Use MS Office and boost your productivity," preaches Microsoft. I love Open Office but I must acknowledge MS Office is an excellent product. It is an excellent product, but Microsoft is failing to consider (again!) the current changes in this world when speaking about productivity.

Those who believe MS Office will always equal greater productivity, especially in the academic field, are a bit short-sighted. It was true in the past (Microsoft past glories); it may be true in the present...but the future, the future will be quite different.

In the past, nobody cared to learn a second language and they were well off. For some, that model works even today. However, most of us have realized that today's world demands knowing at least two languages if one really wants to be productive. Some academics argue that knowing a third language is the best bet.

What is happening in the world of computers? Computers are changing...Apple's vision outruns Microsoft's. (Microsoft is now playing catch-up trying to get its tablet!)

As another example, One Laptop Per Child is teaching children in developing countries to speak a language...and that language is not Microsoft's: Sugar, the OS of those low-cost tablets, is Open Source!

That means that new generations will be growing...and they will be speaking two languages: Open Source and maybe Microsoft's (or Apple's, if Microsoft's vision continues as it is today.)

Those kids, fully bilingual when grown, won't find relevant today's "Use MS Office to boost your productivity," much less in the academic field: they grew up with open source!

Also, there's another language embodied by also open-sourced Google Documents: the language of cloud computing. It's not a secret cloud computing is growing stronger everyday. Microsoft couldn't see it at first, although they are trying to make up for their mistake.

Interesting sight...children in developing countries will be far more knowledgeable and productive technologically than those in developed countries because children in the latter stayed speaking only one language. Their schools failed to teach them well and didn't prepare them for the changing world. Individuals who use open source usually find no trouble using Microsoft's products; they are productive in both spheres. It is not so, however, with those who just know Microsoft.

Knowledge is power, they say...Terrible words if spoken in the information era....

domingo, 24 de octubre de 2010

Numbers and the Death of Desktop Linux

The news is clear...according to the numbers, desktop Linux is dead.

It is dead because after years of being stuck at 1% of market share, it started to shrink. Now, Linux dropped to 0.8%.

Yes, the dream is over...Linux desktop is DEAD!

Still, some Linux advocates tried to defend their beloved, but dead penguin. They said that Linux is not dead because server Linux and super computing Linux is alive and well (actually, it is Windows the one who is cold as a meatloaf there).

However, that reasoning is faulty because supercomputing and server computing are completely different from desktop computing. Remember, the premise here is that DESKTOP LINUX is dead. Period. Sometimes the truth hurts, yes.

You just have to go to the nearest mainstream computer store and count how many computers sold there come with Linux preinstalled...

WAIT A MINUTE!!! This way of thinking is fallacious, too. It is as fallacious as counting servers to say that desktop Linux is alive!

We are talking about DESKTOP LINUX, remember? What does that mean? Well, that is pretty self-explanatory: it means desktop computers that RUN Linux. We are not talking about sales figures here. We are talking about desktop computers. Sales figures are sales figures; desktop computers are desktop computers. These are different concepts as the realities they embody.

You may say that sold computers with Linux preloaded are almost inexistent and you may be right. But that does not mean that desktop computers running linux are inexistent. That's as false as saying that pirated Windows copies that can be downloaded are an urban legend because no sales figures reflect their existence. Are you reading this from an inexistent pirated Windows computer, by any chance? Well, I wrote this from an inexistent Linux computer! How about that?

Well, what about the information taken from monitoring sites online? We have two problems there: how can we tell if those computers online represent faithfully our reality? You may go to the park and count all the pigeons there and say that the stained ones are the majority, but you cannot say that they account for all the pigeons in the world, can you? The other problem is worse: online traffic depends on the content of the site. Taking the numbers of those sites as true would in turn enable me to say that most computers in the world run Linux (most of my visitors use a Linux computer...maybe because this blog is about Linux? Nahh!)

Back to the market, people usually think that it is the only true reality. What about those who have no money to be part of the market? They do exist, in case you didn't know, and they are not dead, either. They struggle every single day to beat their harsh reality. Ganesh Prasad stated that the market is now the politically correct way to solve all problems. But the market, as we have seen, doesn't recognise the existence of those who have nothing to offer as suppliers and nothing to pay as consumers. They are invisible people. They may be invisible to the market, but they do exist and are millions.

Well, it's pretty much the same case with Linux. It may be invisible to the market (although those figures are still questionable), but even so, being invisible to one reality does not mean being dead in all the others. How many people buy a Windows computer (because they have no option,as it is in my country) and then wipe that OS away to replace it with Linux? That counts as a Windows computer to the market, sure...but we are talking about desktop computers, not about sales. What OS does the computer run? If it is a desktop computer and runs Linux, what is it, then? Not hard to tell, huh?

Again, the truth does hurt sometimes.

miércoles, 20 de octubre de 2010

Extinct Linux Distros...Is GNU/Linux Headed to Extinction?

As I was checking about 10 Linux Distros that are now gone, I noticed a pattern (at least on the ones I checked...there are many more that have been discontinued): Most of them had price tags attached. With the exception of Feather Linux (United Kingdom), Arabbix (United Arab Emirates), and Linux Loco (Argentina), the other discontinued Linux distros I happened to check had prices that went from $14 (Spanish Aslinux) to $100 (Canadian Xandros).

Again, I don't claim this is a valid sample to draw conclusions, but it still made me think, especially seeing that Linux companies are experiencing hard times (Mandriva, in spite of having such a fine distro, has experienced financial woes that made its community wonder about the company's future). Of course, Canonical is an exception but it is backed-up by a billionaire.

So, does that mean that attaching a price tag to Linux will kill Linux? Do Linux users see GNU/Linux as free software (free as in freedom and free as in speech) and thus will never pay a cent for it? Is building a business model around Linux then impossible? Stretching the idea a bit further...The lack of success of business models around Linux and the unwillingness of Linux users to pay will ultimately lead Linux towards extinction? 3 of the discontinued Linux distros were free and still they were gone.

I guess Ballmer would answer "YES!" to all those questions and probably he would elaborate a bit more on how open source is an unsustainable economic model and a threat to programmers...

However, a few details need further consideration:

1. Is it true that Linux users do not pay for software (and never will)?

This implies that Linux users are cheap. They love leeching poor software writers and give nothing in return while Windows users faithfully reward Microsoft for a job well done. Well...I'm not so sure about that. I know of a Mandriva user who gladly paid for his Mandriva Powerpack instead of giving that money to Microsoft. I'm also on my way to pay for Mepis Linux. Even so, this is not strong enough. How about an interesting observation made by an Ubuntu user concerning how much Windows, Mac, and Linux users paid for 5 games? The users had the freedom to choose how much to pay for the bundle of 5 games. According to his observation,

1) Current intake across Win, Mac, and Linux - $1,173,536 (which is just cool in and of itself)
2) Windows has the largest market share (no surprise there), with 86670 purchases.
3) Linux is the smallest number of purchases, with 21873 purchases, but that is only 8153 purchases, less than the Mac platform - 30026
4) The big news here is that Linux people paid more on average than either Mac, or Windows users.
Win: $8.06,Mac: $10.23, Linux: $14.53

So much so, that the total income from Linux users, outstrips that of Mac, even though Mac had more purchases (Mac: $307172.75, Linux: $317846.61)

So, the idea that Linux users don't want to pay for software may not be so accurate after all. What about the one saying that Windows users gladly pay for software? Windows gamers were the cheapest ones in the example above. Besides, Windows users pay for their OS because they have no option: You pay for Windows when you buy your computer. If Windows didn't come with the computer, will you buy that OS, even if there were cheaper options? Yes, you say? Then, I wonder why Microsoft pushed its anti-piracy interests into the law, which led to a market full of computers with Windows preloaded. And even so, there are lots of cracks and loaders available for Windows! Doesn't that mean that many Windows users don't want to pay? No? Then why is it that Microsoft created their infamous update for Microsoft Windows KB971033 (the one that "calls home" to check if your Windows system is genuine)? If illegal Windows copies were just a few, Microsoft wouldn't care.

2. Is it true that Linux will cease to exist when companies backing it up sink?

This one made me worry. If Canonical, Mandriva, Mepis LLC and all the other companies around Linux fade away, then Linux will say good-bye, too...
Not quite. Ganesh Prasad, in his article "Open Source-onomics:Examining some pseudo-economic arguments about Open Source," offers a description of the whole situation from the point of view of economics. The article is long, but it is worth reading indeed. I thought it would be discouraging news, but actually it is not. He stated that:

That's simply not the case with Linux. If Novell closes down, that pretty much means the end of Netware, unless another company sees fit to buy the product and keep it alive (On the other hand, Microsoft may simply choose to buy Netware and kill it!). Such things can't happen to Linux. As an Open Source operating system, Linux is teflon-coated against the commercial failures of the companies that try to build business models around it. Commercial entities are Johnnies-come-lately to Linux anyway. Linux managed without them for years, and will continue to exist even if they should all disappear. In fact, companies that claim to support Linux are wrong -- Linux supports them!

Some may say all that is pure theory but doesn't apply to real life. In real life, if a company fades away, so do its products. But again, open source is a rebel. Mandriva had financial woes and laid off a lot of their employees...what happened? Mandriva has managed to stay afloat now..but even if it hadn't, Mandriva Linux will keep alive in Mageia, a distro made by former Mandriva employees and supporters. OpenOffice.org might be closed down by the new buyer company? LibreOffice arrives. As far as individuals writing free software keep their spirits high, open source will keep on living.

3. Is it true that building a business model around Linux means financial failure?

Again, Ganesh Prasad elaborates on the subject from the point of view of economics. He says that those who say "Not paying for software will kill the economy" are just trying to make consumers worry about the global economy, but in a REAL market scene, consumers worry about the product that best fits their needs, not about the economy when they buy:

A generation of suppliers is threatened, and they try to convince the rest that society as a whole is threatened. If history is any guide, consumers will make the decisions that suit their immediate interests, and vendors will have no choice but to adapt as best as they can. Those decisions may decimate them, but civilisation will survive, as it always has. L'Etat, c'est moi.

So, according to the author, what happens is that open source is changing the economic paradigm surrounding the software industry. Software companies don't like it and are fighting hard to keep the traditional model--and their traditional revenues, of course. See Windows 7 Starter, for example. It is a way to force users to pay for a more expensive version of their software (I don't call that an upgrade, sorry if you think it is!) For building a business model around Linux, companies first need to realize Linux behaves differently in economic terms.

Then, those Linux companies that faded away with the distros they promoted might have disappeared because they were trying to play using the rules of a traditional business model which Linux doesn't fully support.

sábado, 16 de octubre de 2010

Windows Innovations and "Science Non-Fiction"

I've been reading about three new ideas from Microsoft; two of them have been implemented already and the last one is yet to be carried out. These three ideas are so innovative that actually resemble science-fiction and have motivated bloggers to step into the world of narrative. They also resemble short stories already published.

But Microsoft is for real; they don't like to stay in the world of imagination. Thus, I called the narrations spawned by these innovative ideas "science non-fiction."

Let's see examples of these ideas and the science non-fiction works they either resemble or have spawned:

1. EULA Reloaded: It IS Syzygy!
Theodore Sturgeon, in his book E Pluribus Unicorn, wrote the short story "It wasn't syzygy." It is a strange love? story in which the main character learned about the way single-celled life forms enter into a relationship so close that lets them exchange nucleic information so that the species may keep on living. This resembles so much the current pseudo-symbiotic state of hardware and software, all thanks to Microsoft's corrected version of the EULA for Windows Seven. Now, software and hardware have become one...not in this dimension, though. Their oneness works very strangely: if you reject the EULA, you are required to return the whole computer (software and hardware are one), but you are not entitled to alter the software the way you can with the hardware (they are different entities.) For more information, read Sturgeon.

2. E.T. Phone Home: Calling for a Check-up!
Lauren Weinstein put it this way:
You're sitting quietly in your living-room at your PC, perhaps watching YouTube. Suddenly, a pair of big, burly guys barge into your house and demand that you let them check your computer to make sure that it's "genuine" and not running pirated software. You protest that you bought it fair and square, but they're insistent -- so you give in and let them proceed.

Even though you insist that you bought your laptop from the retail computer store down the street many months ago, and didn't install any pirate software, the visitors declare that your computer "isn't genuine" according to their latest pirated systems lists, and they say that "while we'll let you keep using it, we're modified your system so that it will constantly nag in your face until you pay up for a legit system!" And they head out the door to drop in on the eBay-loving grandmother next door.

You then notice that the wallpaper on your PC has turned black, and these strange notifications keep popping up urging you to "come clean."


This narration refers to the seemingly innocent update for Microsoft Windows KB971033. If you install it, you must be prepared: Windows Seven will contact Microsoft every 90 days to check if you are running a genuine Windows copy...for as long as you have Windows installed. That means that if by any event your Windows fails the authentication process, you will be in trouble. But what if your Windows is indeed genuine? It doesn't matter, your software will contact Microsoft every 3 months "just to make sure." See? Microsoft cares for your safety! The good thing about this science non-fiction feature is that it can be uninstalled at least.

3. Computer Eugenics: Let's Do away with the Sick!
This blog's narrative goes like this:
"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.


Even though this has not happened yet (fortunately!), Microsoft actually wants to ban all sick computers from the Web. In order to be able to surf the Web, users will have to undergo a "health check" and get a "certificate" proving that their PCs are healthy. That's pure eugenics applied to computers. Now, even though the idea seems great in principle, let's analyze it a bit further. What's "healthy"? Who defines what "healthy" means? How will that help catch the real offenders (the creators of the viruses and Trojans)? Who will be in charge of the check-ups and of issuing the certificates? How often will our PCs be scanned? (daily? wow! that adds up to the A/V daily scans and the resources it takes!) What happens if a healthy computer misses several scans and thus is not granted the certificate? Why don't Microsoft developers work on fortifying the security of their OS instead? Why do they blame users for the problems caused by the poor security of their software? If a computer has been denied the right to go online, how can it update its A/V so that it may come clean? All these questions remain to be answered. Will the answers be part of our world or of a fictional world?

Interesting...Microsoft comes with innovative ideas, all for our benefit...and it also brings out the artist in some of us!

jueves, 14 de octubre de 2010

I Want a Computer but I don't Want Windows...

"I want a computer but I don't want Windows."

This is a nice phrase to startle computer sellers in most stores. Why is it that most computers come with Windows preloaded? To satisfy the users?? I guess that the price reductions on Windows licenses for OEMs --and price increases if they dare to sell equipment without Windows preloaded--have nothing to do with it. Nor does Microsoft's interest in fair competition and fair play.

So...if Windows comes with the computer, does that mean that Windows is part of the computer?

Clearly not. Microsoft licenses mean that the software is neither part of the computer nor yours. For the vendors, the licenses mean they have the permission to install it. What is yours is the permission to use it in your system. Do you own a copy of Windows? No, you don't. All of them belong to Microsoft, but they give you the privilege of using it--for a *small* price, of course! This resembles communism so much if you ask me. The differences are the entity that owns the goods and how people are granted the permission to use them. And still some say that Open Source equals communism??!!

Now, back to the computers with windows preloaded...if I buy the computer, then the computer is mine, right? I bought it already!

What happens if I decide I don't want to accept Windows EULA when I first start my new computer? It is my computer, right? But the OS is not mine. Common logic dictates that I have the right to return the product I don't want to keep and get a refund for it. After all, I bought a computer, not the software (I cannot buy that one anyway).

Well, in the past you could return the software and get a refund...after a titanic struggle. If someone wants to try it, here is how.

This is the beauty of democracy and freedom. Even after a battle like that, you can get others to respect your rights...

But Microsoft couldn't possibly care less about your rights. Look at the corrected version of the EULA for Windows 7:

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. ("Microsoft Software License Terms: Windows 7 Professional")

So, I MUST comply with the EULA even if I intend to get rid of the Win7 Starter pest?

Then, if I reject the EULA, I MUST comply with the policies of the vendors...and smile if Big Brother's sidekicks ask me to return MY computer. Wow! That's a nice way to put it: "might limit your rights." If the state does it, you call it communism. If a company does it, you call it...what? Not democracy, for sure!

Now, why is it that my rights have to be limited and not Microsoft's? First, I am denied the right to choose a computer with another OS or without any OS. Then, I am denied the right to keep the computer I bought unless I accept something I don't want to. I am buying a computer, period. I am not buying Microsoft's products.

The vendors might say to you "But you bought a bundle product." Does that, therefore, mean the software is actually mine, too? I bought the computer, remember? If they are bundle, the software is mine for reverse engineering it or do what I want with it as I would do with the hardware. It is a bundle product and I bought it!

Oh, but then they will say I can't. The bundle product is not like that. I can trash the hardware if I want, but I am not entitled to mess with the software because it is not mine. What did I buy, then?

How come people accept this? And then they criticize other countries because they "deny the rights of their citizens"!

I, for one, will only buy where they respect my rights as a customer and as an individual. If the others want to extend their arms so that Microsoft and its allies put nice chains on them, good for those people. They deserve it anyway!

domingo, 10 de octubre de 2010

A Mac User's Opinion of Linux

When talking about Operating Systems, I always develop my rants mainly around GNU/Linux and Windows. I've criticized Linux fans, some Linux distros, and I've been harsh on Windows. However, I've never talked about Apple's MAC OS X. The reason? Well, I've never been near enough a Mac and I doubt I'll buy one any time soon. Besides, I don't really like to talk about what I ignore...that spells trouble! The same reason motivates me to keep silent about FreeBSD, Chromium, UNIX, and other Operating Systems, although I feel somewhat more willing to try those.

Now, some days ago, I was reading a post that compared Linux and Windows Vista/7 and I found among the comments one that caught my eye. It was a criticism towards Linux made by a Mac user named Jwcorey. I cannot say that his opinion stands for the way all Mac users view Linux (neither did he claim to be doing that), but I decided to transcribe it here because both his appraisal and criticism of Linux are level-headed and worthy to be read:

I can only speak from a personal perspective. There's no evangelism here in my comment; just me chatting. I use OS X, but I'm familiar with both Windows and Linux.

Where Linux works well: The stability and resistance to viruses or hacking is really nice. You're not going to enjoy anything even close to it with Windows. After 15 years of "modern" Windows builds, I have given up on expecting something from Windows that can rival Linux in these areas. It just plain doesn't stack up.

It's also way faster and can breathe new life into old machines you'd think would never return from the dead. A lot of people switch to Linux just so they can pull out an old PC and make it feel like a new one.

If I had to sum up the Linux experience in a concise way, I'd say it's like using a basic os, but without the bullsh*t. You can do what you feel like doing without having to worry about some corporation blocking you because of some money or license-based reason. With both Apple and Microsoft having very dark histories of trying to catch the user by the throat and take away all his options, Linux is a breath of fresh air. Nothing is ever forced on you. As long as you don't mind taking the time to figure out how, you can do anything or use anything you feel like doing or using. The system is made by users, not by businessmen. And some of those users are pretty damned smart, too.

There were two really huge problems with Linux that I encountered. Linux fans don't particularly love hearing them brought up, but they need to be said.

Linux generally comes with a nice cross-section of useful applications, such as browsers, chat programs, mail, text editors, MP3 players, movie players, etc. And that's great. But, as you know, many of us like slightly specialized software from time to time... and this is one area where Linux has trouble meeting the challenge. There are certain things that just plain don't exist on Linux (like, for instance, World of Warcraft. No matter what you're told, there's nothing on Linux like that), or the Linux equivalents just don't give you everything you need. They may plug some holes, but it's just not the same (GIMP comes to mind). I've heard Linux advocates argue that you can do everything on Linux that you do on other systems, but don't believe it. Depending on your needs, you may be able to do more than enough... but not the same things.

The other thing you'll notice is that Linux is almost never "done". There's always something not quite finished. Sometimes it's menu items that aren't there but should be. Sometimes it's support for certain hardware. The missing stuff often gets done and added over time, but you have to bear in mind that the work is performed by volunteers who do it mainly in their spare time when they can. It's very different than the team of monkeys Microsoft (or Apple) have on the job who are constantly whipped until they get it finished. You can't just say "God dammit, Linux. Fix this problem or I'm taking my money elsewhere" because there's no money, and there's no one specific person to yell it at.

I keep getting this feeling about Linux that, as the years go by, it's only going to become more and more important and powerful... and definitely an alternative to the mainstream systems. I don't think we're there yet, but its potential is very high. I always keep an eye on what Linux is doing, but I stick with OS X for now for personal reasons. No matter which operating system you pick, there will always be someone telling you that you've made the wrong choice... so you might as well use the one you like.

Hope that helps.

He made a valid point, I'd say. To his last words, I'd just add "and the one that best fits your needs as far as its performance and your use of it keep other people's computers safe enough." Nobody likes his/her equipment to be infected because of another person's poor security standards, believe me. I always stress the idea that using a computer is not purely a matter of personal comfort, pretty effects, fast performance, or nice games. Computer users must be aware of the threats the OS of their choice may be victim of to act accordingly. That "I didn't know my USB had a virus" excuse is a real problem for others, you know?

viernes, 8 de octubre de 2010

¿Planeando Migrar a Linux? ¡¡CUIDADO!!

Como se escucha más ruido a favor de GNU/Linux, algunos podrían sentirse tentados a reemplazar su sólido sistema verde, rojo, azul y amarillo de Windows con un desconocido pingüino Linux en blanco y negro y de dudosa reputación. Algunos de estos usuarios, creyendo que están por entrar en la Tierra Prometida, olvidan considerar la totalidad de las desastrosas consecuencias que puede acarrearles abandonar la firme y antigua tradición de Windows.

Por dicha razón, me pareció apropiado subrayar a estos migrantes inexpertos varios detalles a considerar antes de que salten a su destrucción. Estos detalles se encuentran basados en una observación empírica, pero honesta y pueden causarme la más profunda hostilidad entre los fans de GNU/Linux...aún así, me encuentro determinado a continuar. La verdad estará de mi lado.

Estimados usuarios de Windows, antes de migrar a Windows, asegúrense de entender algunos de los efectos secundarios que pueden ocurrir luego de haber ingerido su píldora experimental de Linux:

1. Su computadora puede embrutecerse o dejar de funcionar:

Windows es un mundo feliz y eficiente donde las computadoras responden con agilidad y simplemente funcionan. Funcionan y funcionan hasta cuando no lo sabemos. Funcionan como zombis y redes robot que envían correo no deseado (en el mejor de los casos) para algún hacker por ahí que ganó con todo derecho control sobre ellas. Solamente el año pasado, hubo un estimado de doce millones de zombis. Eso es cerca de cuatro veces la población completa de un país pequeño como el mío. ¡Imagínenlo! ¡¡¡Todo un país constituido por zombis!!! ¡Eso es un país feliz! Windows representa un mundo feliz en el que nosotros (si somos hackers) ordenamos y las computadoras reaccionan. Ellas reaccionan sin demora a los troyanos, gusanos y malware de todas las formas halladas bajo el sol. Si Ud. instala Linux y lo utiliza como su sistema operativo principal, su computadora puede dejar de reaccionar a los troyanos, gusanos y malware que le tomó tanto tiempo y esfuerzo a los ciber-criminales diseñar. Por supuesto, si Ud. se involucra en conductas de seguridad irresponsables, su PC puede continuar respondiendo, pero no como era con Windows. ¿Está seguro que quiere una computadora tonta como esa? ¿Quién quiere una computadora que por defecto no responda al malware? ¿Cómo? ¿Que su computadora nunca ha sido parte de una red robot, dice usted? ¿Está seguro? Entonces, ¿por qué es que algunos usuarios se quejan de que sus PCs continúan descargando actualizaciones a pesar de las preferencias de éstos? ¡Simplemente porque son parte de la red robot más grande del mundo!

2. Usted se verá totalmente desprotegido:
Correcto. No se trata de ningún error. Instalar Linux lo arrastrará lejos de su protección informática. Los usuarios de Windows se hallan protegidos por un muy fuertemente fortificado sistema de placebos: el apoyo sólido de Microsoft (que usualmente ignora o niega los problemas, mas luego de que un número considerable de usuarios se queja, accede a publicar los parches), las tecnologías Antivirus (que siempre están jugando a perseguir al malware), y los Windows Security Essentials (que son bastante similares a los antivirus, pero crean un efecto placebo mucho mejor porque vienen directamente de Microsoft). En contraste, una vez que Ud. instale Linux, el único responsable de su protección será usted mismo...y el pingüino, que por cierto está artillado hasta los dientes (¡Sí! ¡Ese pájaro posee dientes y los utiliza para roer malware como si fuera pescado!) ¿Por qué querría Ud. encargarse de su propia seguridad cual Robin de un Bati-pingüino si el sistema placebo le permitirá relajarse haciéndole pensar que éste se encuentra a cargo (aun cuando no lo esté)?

3. Su mundo se volverá al revés:
¡Cuidado! ¡Hay un peligro gigantesco aquí! Después de familiarizarse con Linux, puede que Ud. descubra algunas verdades dolorosas que harán su mundo añicos al igual que Ventanas rotas. Por ejemplo, ¡Ud. puede descubrir que estuvo pagando por funciones que el Código Abierto le proporciona gratis! Asimismo, se puede dar cuenta de que algunos creadores de hardware inocentemente vuelven la instalación y el apoyo a Linux más difícil...¿Pero a quién le importa? ¡Eso beneficia indirectamente a nuestro viejo amigo! ¿Que su escáner o impresora no funcionan? Es su culpa por escoger instalar un Sistema Operativo no propietario y por ende sin controladores propietarios. Puede que entonces usted se percate de una verdad horrible: a las compañías no les importa la satisfacción de los clientes con sus productos...solamente les interesan sus políticas. ¿En qué les afecta que usted no pueda usar su hardware? ¡Ya lo compró, tontín! Usted también se puede dar cuenta de que todos los requerimientos de hardware nuevo que su Sistema Operativo le demandaba eran totalmente innecesarios. Linux pudo haberle dado vida a aquella computadora ancestral que Ud. mantenía en una esquina coleccionando polvo. Imagine si todas esas computadoras viejas que la gente envió al basurero se encontraran todavía funcionando perfectamente...sí...mucho menos contaminación y un mundo más verde. Olvide la idea. Todos vamos a morir de cualquier forma, así que ¡sigamos contaminando y permitamos a nuestro Sistema Operativo tradicional decirnos que necesitamos reemplazar nuestros equipos cuando en realidad no es necesario! ¡Es parte de la vida!

4. Sus derechos se verán lesionados:

Linux no se trata solamente de Ubuntu. Este es un concepto difícil de comprender y puede dañar su salud mental. Sí, Windows es Windows independientemente de si es 3.11, 95, 98, 2000, ME (¡Wow, este es una verdadeja joya!), XP, Vista (¡otra pequeña gema!), o Vista/7. Todos son Windows y vienen repletos de las características amigables que usted no puede perderse (pantallas azules, errores del sistema, equipos congelados, etc.). ¿Qué hay de Linux? ¿Ubuntu? ¡Nooo! Ubuntu es solamente UNO de todos los sabores de Linux, y ellos se comportan bastante diferentemente. Con Windows, las cosas son simples: si su Windows no funciona, usted tiene una computadora muerta. Simple y bonito. ¡Con Linux las cosas son demasiado complicadas! Si Ubuntu no funciona, entonces está Mandriva. Si Mandriva no funciona, entonces puede probar Mint. ¿No? ¿Qué tal Mepis? ¿Qué dijo? ¿Que todas funcionaron pero no le gustan? Usted puede personalizarlas totalmente tanto como desee. ¿No tiene tiempo para eso? Entonces intente con Fedora, PCLinuxOS, Debian, OpenSuse, Sabayon, Pardus, Arch, Slackware, Red Hat, Puppy, Knoppix, Elive, Unity...¡y la lista continúa! ¿Por qué Linux tiene que hacer las cosas tan complejas? ¿Quién desea tantas opciones además de la libertad total para escoger? ¿No sabe ese pingüino demente que es mucho mejor dictarle a los usuarios lo que ellos necesitan o quieren y limitar las opciones a un máximo de 5 (reduciéndolas progresivamente, también)? Esa es la forma CORRECTA de hacer las cosas porque nuestro derecho es que nos mantengan con una linda correa (al igual que se hallan nuestras computadoras, cuya funcionalidad está limitada por diseño)! La libertad es para la gente libre y en este mundo feliz ser libre significa estar triste...y solitario. Por lo tanto, ¡Linux causa tristeza! ¡Obtenga Linux y prepárese para una vida llena de tristeza!

Podría continuar mencionando los peligros del proceso de aprendizaje (recuerde: ¡aprender enferma el cerebro!) que abrazar a ese molesto pingüino puede acarrear, pero he terminado por ahora. Solamente me voy a sentar a esperar que los fans de GNU/Linux empiecen a desmembrarme con rabia. Es mi esperanza, querido usuario de Windows, que usted lo piense dos veces antes de caer en las redes de Linux.

miércoles, 6 de octubre de 2010

Planning to Migrate to Linux? BEWARE!!!

As more noise in favor of GNU/Linux is heard, some people might feel tempted to replace their solid, green-red-blue-and-yellow Windows system with an unknown, shady, black-and-white Linux penguin. Some of these users, thinking they are about to enter the Promised Land, fail to fully consider the disastrous consequences that abandoning the firm, old Windows tradition may cause.

In this light, I found appropriate to let these naive migrants know a number of issues to consider before they take the leap to their doom. These issues are based on empirical, but honest observation and may bring upon me the deepest animosity among GNU/Linux fans...even so, I'm determined to continue. The truth will be by my side.

Dear Windows user, before you migrate to Linux, make sure you understand some of the side-effects that may come after you take your experimental Linux pill:

1. Your computer may become dull or stop working:

Windows is a happy, efficient world where computers respond promptly and just work. They work and work even when you don't know. They work as zombies and botnets, sending spam mail (in the best of the cases) for some hacker out there who rightfully earned control over them. Just last year, there was an estimate of twelve million zombies. That is four times the whole population of a small country like mine. Imagine! A whole country made of zombies!!! That is a happy country! Windows is a happy world in which you (if you're a hacker) command and computers react. They react promptly to Trojans, worms and malware of all forms under the sun. If you install Linux and use it as your main OS, your computer may stop reacting to the Trojans, worms and malware that took cyber-criminals a lot of time and effort to design. Of course, if you engage into irresponsible security behavior, your PC may still be responsive to them, but not as it was with Windows. Are you sure you want a dull computer like that? Who wants a computer that fails to respond to malware by default? What? Your computer has never been part of a botnet, you say? Are you sure? Then, why is it that some users complain that their PCs still download updates regardless of their preferences? They are part of the biggest botnet in the world, that's why!

2. You will be totally unprotected:
Yes. It is not a mistake. Installing Linux will drag you away from computer protection. Windows users are protected by a very strong, fortified system of placebos: the solid support from Microsoft (that usually ignores or denies the problems, but after a considerable number of users complain, gives in and releases the patches), the A/V technologies (that are always playing catch-up with the malware), and Windows Security Essentials (that are pretty similar to A/Vs, but create a much better placebo effect because they come right from Microsoft). In contrast, once you install Linux, the only responsible for your protection will be yourself...and the penguin, that by the way, is armored to its teeth (yes! that bird has teeth and uses them to gnaw malware as fish!) Why would you want to take care of your own security as the Robin of a Bat-penguin if the placebo system will let you relax making you think that it is on charge (even if it isn't)?

3. Your world will go upside down:
Beware! Great danger here! After getting acquainted with Linux, you may discover some awful truths that will make your world shatter like broken Windows. For example, you may discover that you were paying for features Open Source gives you for free! Also, you may realize that some hardware manufacturers innocently make Linux installation and support harder...but who cares? That benefits indirectly our old friend! Your printer or scanner don't work? It is your fault for choosing to install an OS that is not proprietary and therefore has no proprietary drivers. You may then realize a horrible truth: companies don't care about customer satisfaction with their product...they just care about their policies. What's to them that you cannot use your hardware? You bought it already, silly person! You may also realize that all the hardware improvements your OS demanded from you were totally unnecessary. Linux could give life to that old computer you had sitting on a corner collecting dust. Imagine if all those old computers that people sent to the trashcan were still working perfectly...yes...much less pollution and a greener world. Forget the thought. All of us will die anyway, so let's keep littering and let our traditional OS tell us we need to replace our computers when we actually don't need to! That is part of life!

4. Your rights will be severed:

Linux is not just Ubuntu. This is a hard concept to grasp and it might blow your mind. Yes, Windows is Windows regardless if it is 3.11, 95, 98, 2000, ME (Wow! This is such a jewel!), XP, Vista (Another little gem!), or Vista/7. They all are Windows, full of the friendly features you cannot miss (BSODs, system crashes, freezes, etc.). What about Linux? Ubuntu? Naaah! Ubuntu is just ONE Linux flavor and all Linux flavors behave quite differently. With Windows, things are simple: if your Windows doesn't work, you have a dead computer. Simple and nice. With Linux, things are so complicated! If Ubuntu doesn't work, then there is Mandriva. If Mandriva doesn't work, then you could try Mint. No? What about Mepis? What did you say? All of them worked fine but but you don't like them? You can fully customize them as you want. No time for that? Then try Fedora, PCLinuxOS, Debian, OpenSuse, Sabayon, Pardus, Arch, Slackware, Red Hat, Puppy, Knoppix, Elive, Unity...and the list goes on! Why does Linux have to make things so complex? Who wants so many options plus the total freedom to choose? Doesn't that crazy penguin know that it is much better to tell users what they need or want and limit the choices to 5 options most (reducing them progressively, too)? That is the RIGHT way of doing things because your right is to be kept on a nice leash (as your computer, crippled by design, is)! Freedom is for free people and in this happy world being free means being sad...and alone. Therefore, Linux brings sadness! Get Linux, get ready for a very sad life!

I could continue mentioning the dangers of the learning process (remember: learning makes sick brains!) that embracing that obnoxious penguin may also bring about, but I'm done for now. I will just sit down and wait for GNU/Linux fans to start tearing me apart rabidly. Hopefully, dear Windows user, you will think twice before falling for Linux.

domingo, 3 de octubre de 2010

Some Statistics about My Linux Box

OK...it's been 5 months since I started this blog and almost a year since I migrated to Mepis Linux 8. Thus, I think it's time to review some real numbers related to its performance:

A. Number of attacks by trojans, spyware, or malware: 0.

B. Number of Kernel Panics (the Linux equivalent of Windows BSODs): 1 (But it was not on my main system. It happened when I was trying a bad burn of a Live CD and took it out of the drive while it was loading)

C. Number of system crashes: 0.

D. Number of KDE crashes: 5 (But KDE recovers itself without restarting the system.)

E. Number of computer freezes: 0.

F. Number of programs that crashed: 1 Kplayer. I decided to use Kaffeine for video playing instead.

G. Number of times I've noticed slow system performance: 0. Mepis still runs as fast as the first time I installed it without my need to flush the cache, restarting or whatever.

H. Number of times I've explored, modified, or deleted system files making the system crash: 2. (When tried to install Compiz and when tried to revert some appearance changes after an upgrade.)

I. Number of times I've explored, modified, or deleted system files WITHOUT making the system crash: about 200.

J. Number of times I actually needed to fiddle with the system: 4. (to enable Japanese typing, to revert some appearance changes after an upgrade, to set up my printer, and to enable virtualization).

K. Average time for reinstalling the whole system: 10 mins. (without disc imaging)

L. Average time for configuring the system the way I want it to be: 1 hour 30 mins. (without disc imaging)

M. Number of times I've partitioned my hard drive after installing Linux: 1. (to make my Linux partition bigger)

N. Minimum number of times I've tried other Linux distros: 11.
(Mandriva, Pardus, BrLix, Puppy, Damn Small Linux, Mint, OpenSuse, Elive, AntiX, Mangaka, Chameleon OS)

O. Number of times the other distros I've tried have made my system crash: 0.

So, in conclusion I must say I am very satisfied with my migration. It was much less painful than I expected and much more rewarding, too. Of course, there's still a lot to learn, but I'm going one step at a time.