Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Reds Apple: Iced Grape

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Why we shut the hell up and went with XFCE (Again)

With the release of Freespire 6.0.3 a lot of customers and users saw that we had yet again gone with XFCE as our user interface.  While this may have irked some people we made this change because of several factors which we will discuss here.

We already had products based on XFCE

While MATE and KDE were great there were a few reasons why we chose XFCE. 

  • It is lightweight
  • Its easier to customize
  • It requires fewer system resources
  • Its more modular

We also have products that already utilize XFCE namely Linspire Enterprise Server and Linspire Workstation.  We also eventually want to release an ARM version of Linspire and XFCE was the easiest, from our current production run, to customize and make it an exact clone of the x86_64 release.  So this would allow us to work with a singular desktop with mere graphical changes versus a lot of infrastructure change.  This also allows us to run on older Chromebooks that may have reached EOL but may not have had the resources to run KDE, Mate or even GNOME.

Development of XFCE is more stable

With Mate and KDE, we had the issue of their development cycle.  Whenever a new release of Mate or KDE was released it would require a lot more testing and rolling out new desktop features.  With XFCE development is a lot slower with new releases coming every 2 or 3 years versus every 2 to 6 months and upgrading an XFCE installation is much easier with a simple repository added and a mere system update without having to worry about broken packages and modules where some core system utility would crash and burn. 

Less Drama associated with XFCE

There seems to be a lot of drama involved with certain sides of the community.  With KDE its the issues of Kubuntu versus Canonical and KDE vs QT where that introduces uncertainty and as a company that markets sells, and develops software for fortune 500 companies and in government and education that also added a certain complexity.  With GNOME and Mate, we found ourselves patching bugs, submitting patches, and those groups rejecting the patch which made us have to basically ship it with our distributions, and when a new desktop release arrives it basically breaks everything again.  With XFCE there is little drama involved and they work well with exterior developers.

Advantages of XFCE

Once again, it's lightweight.  It works well with GTK, QT, and Web-based applications and looks less "ugly" while doing it.  You can run XFCE reasonably well within lower RAM systems.  It allows you to work with multiple classes of systems and also has great touch capabilities for touch screen systems.

All around we made this decision based on what's good for the users, our customers and our companies.  We have perhaps one of the better-looking XFCE desktops and even with our Linspire 9.0 prototypes, people are loving it.

Goodbye macOS X, we hardly knew ya

As everyone knows by now Apple is officially launching macOS 11 which means the end of the line for OS X.  Apple also announced a shift from Intel to its own ARM chip.  While many people in computing today do not remember the 1990's and how big and ambitious OS X was starting with Rhapsody I certainly do.  I was a NeXT guy and was with Apple until they mutilated the OpenStep development environment I look at this in reflection.  In some ways, I feel like Apple is going back in time to the same screwups that almost killed the company in 1997.  Apple is a much stronger company today then it was back then.  It's now worth over a trillion dollars has plenty of cash on the books and is well-positioned to try to be a trendsetter that it couldn't be in 1997.  For those of you, that remember how PowerPC was supposed to change the game, and people were placing the bets that PowerPC was supposed to be the future well we saw how that turned out.

Can Apple do the same thing twice and expect a different result?  In this case, it might be able to pull it off.  In some developers that I have spoken to there is certainly some tension in the air.  The painful reminder of having to maintain two separate code bases for a few years is definitely a nightmare.  A lot of you Apple fans are right now screaming at your computer screen as you read this "ROSETTA!!!!!!!!" let's be real.  Rosetta SUCKED during the PowerPC to Intel transition how well do you think it's going to fare here?  Emulation technologies even as cost-efficient as they are, are great for testing but running high-end productivity software on a regular basis?  C'mon now let's get serious.  The other half of you that agreed with what I just said are going to come back with, "Well most development houses have iOS versions of their software so they can just use that right" and yes they can.  But, Tablets, Phones, and PC's are totally different creatures.  macOS 11 is not going to have touch capabilities.  This means that developers are going to have to write in features that are not found in Phones and Tablets which means more complexity and more dollars spent.  Now let's go beyond developers to the consumer and more importantly Apple's pro customers.  ARM-based systems have not been used as a primary platform for high-end graphics, music, and video production.  The most serious ARM-based supercomputer has over 158 thousand nodes, let's say that again; over 150,000 nodes.  What is Apple's plan?  To bring back an ARM-based Xserve and force customers to buy another system that has 500 nodes just so people can do the comparable work that was achieved using a Xeon based system?

Yes, there is uncertainty about what's going to happen here.  Will the 27 inch iMac just turn into a 27 inch iPhone with a keyboard and mouse?  Only time will tell.  As someone who has devoted his life to technology, I do appreciate the fact that Tim Cook is trying to push Apple to "Think different" again which was one of its most endearing qualities back in 1998.  But do you really think doing the same thing twice will achieve a different result?  But, this is the problem when stock price dictates a companies direction and should Tim Cook screw this up.  Well, there is no Steve Jobs to save them.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Is the Linux desktop dead? The software industries seismic shifts

Being a Linux distributor we get asked all the time if we think the dream of Linux on the desktop is dead.  I personally don't think it is.  Although Microsoft continues to dominate the desktop market with Windows we have had a lot of infiltration into the desktop market.  First, you have to look at what a Linux distribution is.  While some people will point to ChromeOS and Android as "Linux on the desktop" they aren't.  They USE the Linux kernel but you can take the UI and the Application frameworks and move them over to FreeBSD or even a customized version of Darwin and you can accomplish the same product.  What makes ChromeOS and Android successful are their capabilities and features and not Linux.  If you ask the average ChromeOS or Android user if they use Linux they will tell you no.  I personally look at ChromeOS and Android in the same way I look at Tivo.  I don't consider TivoOS a Linux distribution, its a product that uses the Linux kernel.  What I consider a Linux distribution is a product that uses the Linux kernel, the GNU framework and the ability to run the thousands of available Linux applications on the market today without having to jump through hoops to get there.

The Linux desktop has overcome many obstacles that held it back in the past.  Hardware support, ease of use, ease of installation and application support.  Gone are the days of excuses for having to recompile kernel code to get audio and graphics drivers to work properly (for most of the general computing public anyway) Today there are new excuses; Microsofts too powerful !!! Apples to powerful !!!!  Googles too powerful !!!!! and those are just as I sated; excuses.

The Linux community has to channel the words of a man they hated for years.  Steve Jobs and his speech from 1997.  We need to stop saying to ourselves "For Linux to win, Microsoft has to lose"  or "For Linux to win, Apple has to lose" or "For Linux to win, Google has to lose" because NOBODY has to lose because NOBODY is going to win.  Psychologically we are fighting a battle that no one will win or lose.  There are billions of computer users out there.  Windows will not be for everyone, macOS will not be for everyone, and ChromeOS will not be for everyone.  If you look at the US government, for example, they use many different distributions of Linux, they STILL use many flavors of UNIX and they still even use lots of Windows PC's (For you macOS fans who are gonna start typing frantically on your keyboard that I forgot Mac, no I didn't I lumped it in there with UNIX)  There are hundreds of automobile manufacturers on the market today, there are hundreds of PC manufacturers in the world and they ALL do pretty decent business.

So how did the software industry get screwed up so badly?  Because when the software industry was born you had a bunch of dumbasses who didn't know what they were doing and who entered into lopsided deals or flew planes when manufacturers came calling.  You can't really blame Gates or Jobs for what happened at the dawn of this industry.  They filled the nooks and crannies of what these computer manufacturers were looking for and they ran with it.  We as consumers had plenty of opportunities to kick them off the tracks but we didn't.  The software industry is starting to mature.  Its only 40 years old.  The players in the automobile industry didn't stop trying to shank each other until about 60 years after the birth of the first car.  Starting to mature means some companies will live and some companies will die.  Some will be missed and some will be good riddance.

So the question of; Is the Linux desktop dead?  No.  It will never die.  Just like the Windows desktop will never die and the Mac desktop will never die and ChromeOS will never die.  There are plenty of computer users out there and trust me, I have seen it first hand and they are very diverse.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Open Letter to YouTube and Google

To whom it may concern,

Im writing today about two creators that I have gotten to know personally and both I consider friends.  They would be Jared Hockman aka Jared The Vaping Goat and Victor Mullin aka Vaping With Vic.  Both top tier vaping reviewers and personalities on your platform.  Mr. Mullin, you just removed his channel with no clear explanation of what he did wrong or any solution to resolve said issues.  His channel was located here:

Mr. Mullin has been a vast pool of knowledge regarding these products since 2014.  Many new vapers rely on his expertise when making buying decisions pertaining to products that provide a benefit to leading a healthier lifestyle and not getting pulled into buying products that are not a benefit.  More importantly, he has made Tobacco Harm Reduction his occupation.  He relies on his business to feed his family and to live his life.  He doesn't resale, manufacture or distribute these products but he is an expert on these products so people can make a determination and for their safe use.

Mr. Hockman has had his channel struck recently with "community strikes" and has a vast majority of his videos removed.  His channel is located here:

Mr. Hockman doesn't make a living off of his content.  He doesn't ask for anything in return.  He gives selflessly many hours of his life to make content not for profit but for tobacco harm reduction.  For the betterment of people to allow them to live healthier lives.

I am old enough to remember when Google and YouTube both embraced the betterment of mankind.  When many of your original employees had that same selfless drive.  Driven not by profit, not driven for free trinkets but driven to make sure our history, our works, and culture were preserved for future generations.  Even when people told you it was wrong and even when people tried to use the legal system to stop you.  Yet you advanced, you fought to keep moving forward.  It saddens me to see that fighting spirit and that "Don't be evil" attitude drained.

I can say this with absolute certainty.  If you remove these men from your platform you are doing a disservice to public health, your users and more importantly to yourselves.

Thank You:

Roberto J. Dohnert

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Monday, February 10, 2020

PC/OpenSystems LLC: Dubious???????? Shady????????????????

Today I received an e-mail from a user of Freespire and Linspire and they pointed me to a post from a person who questions the legitimacy of the company and our products.  Which is fine people are allowed to have an opinion.  Now I'm not going to link to the media site, its not a large well-known person and really the things he was saying have been covered before and refuted before.  But because he claims he had never heard of PC/OpenSystems, which I can prove he has more on that later,  before he decided to call the company and me into legitimacy using the word "shady" please allow me to retort.

PC/OpenSystems LLC has been in operation since 2008; 12 years.  PC/OpenSystems LLC has been featured on FOX News, MSNBC, CNN, and many local North Carolina news and media.  Our customers range from home users, hospitality services, grocery chains, food service, educational facilities, law enforcement, military, and of course media groups.  Now not all of these industries use our operating system products some use Windows, Mac OS, and others but many of them do use the operating system products in their entirety. Our operating system products have been in development since 2008 with regularly released updates.  I have been a freelance software developer starting in 1994, doing what I love and writing software for operating system platforms that existed before this individual was even born. So for a dubious, shady company we have been in operation way too long and have seen a lot of success.

Another thing is, why if this person thinks our company, our tactics, and our business practices are so god awful why would this individual purchase a copy of every single release that we put out?  If you are doing this for attention make yourself unidentifiable dude.

But these and other tactics are sadly used in the tech community.  It's odd that when you are fighting for a common cause, to enhance technology and broaden the human condition to tear down others because they have seen a measure of success is beyond me.  Instead of saying "Great job, you are introducing Linux to a group that never would have used Linux, to begin with!!!!" or "Great job, you are introducing BSD to a group that never would have used BSD, to begin with!!!!" (Yes we have a commercial BSD product as well) is just terrible, tragic, and unproductive.

Now to call me into legitimacy is fine.  No dirt off of my shoulders.  People have been doing so for over 20 years and have all failed and been proven wrong.  So, try again little boy; Try again...