Friday, August 31, 2018

RIP, macOS Server

Apple has always had a contentious relationship with the enterprise. When Steve Jobs returned to Apple 21 years ago he brought several enterprise and business computing initiatives. This included WebObjects and a high performance/high availability operating system in the form of NeXTStep and OPENSTEP. OPENSTEP went forward and became Rhapsody, then Mac OS X Server 1.0 and then Mac OS X and has served as the foundation for Mac OS X, iOS and macOS for the next 18 years and has seen a platform change from POWER to the Intel based chips as well as Apples own ARM implementations.

 Enter Mac OS X Server 1.0

 In 1998 Apple had this grand launch for Mac OS X Server 1.0 which debuted many unique features. This included simplified setup tools for common server tasks (If you are a familiar with Linux and UNIX you know these can be tedious exercises and lots of text editing) and features such as Netboot and resource sharing among diskless client. For the more techy readers out there you also had the ability to compile your own kernels and apply any of the BSD and MACH updates that you wanted and deploy them. Mac OS X Server 1.0 was a great product and is still used even in 2018 by many Apple customers who require functionality and stability over fashion and looks.

 Mac OS X Server and XServe 

Apple also had a couple of hardware offerings for Mac OS X Server. First was the G3 Server which was basically a Blue and White G3 desktop with more RAM, bigger hard drives and a 4 port network card and then came the special event where Apple had a lot of pomp and circumstance about the XServe. XServe was a great hardware offering and really laid the groundwork and design ethos for Server products for years to come. Apple had a few partners such as Oracle come and preach the highlights of the XServe and a few customers, most prominently ClearChannel which became iHeartMedia Inc.

Disclaimer: iHeartMedia Inc is a client and customer of PC/OpenSystems LLC and currently has a deployment of Linspire Server 2018.

But XServe only lasted a few years and then came the Mac Mini server. So now that the history lesson is done what is Apple doing to kill off macOS Server? Well if you go to this website

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208312

Apple is essentially stripping macOS Server of most server functionality. Which in all fairness can be added BACK to macOS Server through 3rd party solutions but what made macOS Server so damn great was the ease of use and the ability to deploy a fully configured server in 20 to 30 minutes compared to a couple of hours with Linux and other UNIX products, although I will concede Linspire Server 2018 is a comparable product to macOS Server in terms of ease of use and setup, Apple as a company just couldn't meet the needs of enterprise customers and their sales and marketing teams as well as their technical teams allowed their incompetence of dealing with Enterprise customers shine through.

 So what happened? Apple always had a love hate relationship with Enterprise customers. Steve Jobs preferred the consumer space over enterprise. When dealing with the consumer space you only have to deal with one customer. You only have to convince ONE customer that you have what they need in the Enterprise market you have to convince at least 12 people that your solution is the one that they need and serves their needs. Apple lost in the enterprise space because of their tight integration between software and hardware. They never had that “right fit” solution. They positioned the Mac mini as their disposable system but even now at $999.99 its not really a disposable system. Apple lost the enterprise because they could not provide realistic solutions to that segment of customers and Enterprise customers unlike consumer customers do not prescribe to a reality distortion field and rely on cold hard facts and numbers. So in closing. Thank you Mac OS X Server 1.0 - macOS Server. It was a pleasure knowing and using you. But macOS Server like Steve Jobs now belongs to the ages.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Distrowatch coverage: Why has the database not been updated?

I get e-mails when I have new releases, why doesnt Distrowatch update their database?  The answer is simple.  Ask Distrowatch.  We at PC/OpenSystems LLC do not control what Distrowatch updates or what they print on their site.  Distrowatch is not a news or media site.  They are an operating system tracking site as they have various BSD's and other alternative OS's on there as well.  They have their preferences of what distro's they want to cover obviously Freespire does not fit their criteria.  But just as they have the right to cover what distros they track we have the same right to spend our advertising dollars where we wish and where they will be most effective.  We prefer to spend those advertising dollars with sites and media that is actually going to cover our releases.  Linspire being a commercial product is advertised on mainstream media sites, our usage and sales have not slowed down at all, and Freespire along with Black Lab Enterprise is advertised on various media sites that cover Open Source and we are pleased with that as Freespire 4.0 had more downloads than any of our previous releases have had.   So in closing, if you wish for Distrowatch to update their web properties distro@distrowatch.com is whom you need to contact not our press team.  The team at Distrowatch is notified when a new release is made available just as everyone else is.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

To GNOME or not to GNOME that is the question

Many people have asked us if we would do a GNOME Shell version of Linspire.  That answer is not a simple yes or no question.  What would it serve?  Is it simply a question of religion which happens in the Linux world way too much or is there a technical reason for it?  I hate religious fights.  Now, does GNOME Shell serve touch screen devices better than KDE?  Sure.  That is a technical reason.  One of the issues we have had in evaluating GNOME Shell is that it doesnt serve well on older systems and on Chromebooks that have reached EOL for Chrome OS..  We made the decision to go to KDE in Linspire because of customer request.  We service an industry and in that industry unlike a community choices are made due to customer needs.  Why was there a request for KDE?  Because its similar to Windows in its layout which requires very little to no retraining, it supports many different features on specialized hardware for example on the Apple trackpad KDE supports pinch and zoom and other features better than GNOME, XFCE or Mate with little tweaking out of the box.  Kamerka supports iSight better than Cheese.  Also, KDE brings with it the QT programming environment.  QT is used by a lot of customers and you can run QT apps on Windows, Mac and Linux.   So KDE in the current customer base is a much better fit then GNOME.


Friday, February 2, 2018

The Nune's memo - Wheres the beef? A former LEO's perspective

So today we got the major drop of the Nunes memo.  This is the memo where Devin Nunes accuses the FBI and DOJ of targeting Trump and being politically motivated in the Russia investigation.  He targets the FISA warrant that was  issued for Carter Page .  Now I have heard other so called "law enforcement professionals" commentate that anyone can get a warrant issued.  Yes you can.  But you cannot get a FISA warrant issued that easily.  For a FISA warrant to be issued you have to demonstrate to a judge that there is a national security threat or crime against the United States. 

Before we get to the FISA warrant lets go ahead and go over "political" motivations.  I think thats important to put into perspective.

  • James Comey - lifelong Republican - Also accused by Democrats and some media outlets of costing Hillary Clinton the election.
  • Robert Mueller - Republican
  • Rod Rosenstein - Republican - Trump appointee
  • Christopher Wray - Republican - Trump appointee

So by normal standards the DOJ and FBI should be trying to prove that Trump is not responsible for any collusion between his campaign and Russia.

So lets go over some of the points of the memo and I will tell you the relevancy of each point.

Christopher Steele hated Trump and had a bias towards Trump - irrelevant - Steele is an informant and law enforcement relies on informants and CI's, confidential informants, and what information they offer.  We dont ask if they like the guy that they are giving us information on, we dont ask if they have a political bias.

The FBI used the Steele Dossier to obtain a FISA warrant - Mixed - If they used JUST the dossier I would be alarmed but knowing the FBI and having been involved in investigations they didn't do that.  Look, the FBI is a credible law enforcement agency, they have top notch investigators.  Thats why when someone says the FBI is investigating you, you get a lawyer.  Don't pass go, don't try to reason with the FBI you get a lawyer.  The FBI or any credible investigator would NOT go to a judge for a FISA warrant on hearsay, that is what a Dossier is.  Hearsay means someone's word.  A Dossier is a personal account of facts and a timeline of when critical events occurred.  A Dossier in this case is used to establish whether something occurred, when it occurred and should it be looked into.  Remember, they had been investigating Carter Page since 2013 two years before Trumps campaign and a full year before the Republicans paid Fusion GPS to uncover dirt on Trump for the primaries.  They probably had enough to get the FISA warrant without it but used the Dossier as icing on the cake.  The question is here would any competent investigator use the Dossier to obtain the warrant?  Absolutely.  By the time they went before a judge they already had a mountain of evidence anyway and the Dossier just serves that they were able to verify some facts within it.

The Democrats paid for the Dossier - Irrelevant - As I stated before to say that they used only the Dossier is ludicrous at best, laughable at worst.  By the time they went before a judge the case has been made.  Now they could have told the judge that the Dossier was obtained as part of opposition research for political purposes but its up to the JUDGE, not the Republicans nor the Democrats, whether he wants to preclude the Dossier from consideration.  As with any proceeding its up to the judge to decide whats admissible or inadmissible in any proceeding.  In my opinion, the judge probably paid very little attention to the Dossier but more on the actual evidence nor do I feel the FBI would take something to a judge that can be shred apart easily when it came to prosecuting a case in court.

Some FBI agents had a political bias towards Trump - Irrelevant - Everyone is allowed to have a political bias.  When it gets in the way is if it kept these agents from doing their jobs and doing that job impartially.  If they cant do that job impartially they can ask to be removed from that case.  Pete Strzok the agent who was dismissed from Muellers team also investigated Clinton and was also in charge when the e-mail case was re-opened on October 28, 2016

The rest of the memo is a nothing burger and does not demonstrate the rest of the evidence that was used to get the FISA warrant.  The claims inside of it are largely unverified or misrepresented according to some Republicans familiar with the case.  The only thing this did was stroke the ego of Trump and of Trumps base but offered very little in substance that the FBI and the DOJ did anything wrong, illegal or questionable.  Not to mention Trump and his administration risk upsetting the FISA courts and if he thought Trump tower was bugged.  Anger a FISA judge.  If Trump and his allies are so confident that this memo is accurate and holds water why is he refusing to de-classify the Democrats memo?  If the Nunes memo is accurate and factual shouldnt the Democrats memo corroborate it?

Monday, January 29, 2018

Why making your own hardware sucks...

In the computer industry you have companies that create their own hardware and software.  In some ways that can be beneficial in other ways it sucks.  Back in the 80's and early 90's it was pretty much a norm to do so.  That was because peripheral makers were few and far between, IBM pretty much threatened to sue anyone who made peripherals.  So while the IBM systems were open they were more of a look dont touch.  Enter the clone market.  The clone market existed basically to circumvent IBM's hold on the market and allowed the proliferation of peripherals and expansion we see today.  But, you had different companies such as Apple, SGI, Commodore and Sun who made their own systems.  Yes NeXT too but more on NeXT later.  The issues with all those companies is that they also created the software and expansion makers seriously didnt want to support every machine out there because the Operating System, the software that made all those systems work, were so different.  Commodore with Amiga and SGI with Irix were considered high performance and thus creating their own hardware was beneficial to them.  They could control the machines capabilities, it saved them time on writing device drivers, and it gave customers that coveted one throat to choke if anything went wrong.

Apple on the other hand didnt really offer anything compelling power wise that they couldnt offer on Intel based systems except for the user interface which was extremely popular at the time.  They got into the clone market a little too late and suffered for it.  They teamed up with Novell and IBM to port MacOS to the Intel platform but even then it was a little too late.  Microsoft had come out with NT and pretty much ruled the x86 world.  Steve Jobs with NeXT developed their own hardware but quit, then trying to sell the OS.  Steve Jobs quipped at times there was no money in selling software because NeXT sold software and didnt make any money.  Well no shit Sherlock.  NeXT 486 cost $995.00 and Windows NT Workstation cost $64.95 at the time.  There was no justification for customers unless they were married to  NeXT's technology to buy it.  Web Objects was $10,000 dollars a copy and this was back in the 90's.  So NeXT was a no go for users just entering the market and NT was low cost enough that the emerging IT departments in companies could justify purchasing it.  Small businesses were happy with the Mac or with Windows 3.x and Windows 9.x.

Microsoft, Digital Research and SCO (as my buddy Simon says legit SCO not sleazy SCO) had an insight.  They figured out that they made more money selling software.  They figured out "Hey we can sell a million copies of our OS to OEM's for 33 bucks a copy rather than sell a thousand units for $3,000 a piece.  SCO with OpenDesktop and Microsoft with MS-DOS, OS/2 and later NT and DRI with CP/M, Concurrent DOS, and FlexOS while not open software in itself allowed peripheral makers to have copies of the OS and allowed device drivers to be made where as Commodore Amiga, Apple, SGI, SUN never understood or got the #4 rule of business.  The more money we have to spend the more money we have to charge.  So while peripheral companies got MS-DOS and Windows for free they could afford to sell devices cheaper.  People who were around back then can remember that we could buy a modem for a PC for 25 to 30 bucks but a modem for a Mac was 150 to 200 bucks.  It wasnt until the late 90's with the invent of USB and Firewire that devices were no longer dependent on the hardware platform.  The USB and Firewire frameworks were free and you only had to produce code for the framework rather than the hardware.  Sure in terms of wireless, ethernet and modems you had to produce drivers but you only had to produce drivers for the chipset rather than the device itself because at that point the most grueling part of it was covered under the different frameworks.


In 2018 does it make sense to make ones own hardware?  In some cases yes, in most cases no.  Apple and Microsoft do it because A) Apple wants to control the experience and Steve Jobs hubris still lives within the company.  Apple thinks it can get away with selling overpriced and underpowered hardware and their customers will continue to chew on the bones Apple throws them.  Right now Apple is a brand its not the hardware and its not the software B) Microsoft is doing it for a totally different reason and it makes much more sense.  Microsoft sells 99% of its Surface line to companies and governments.  Their primary customers want that one throat to choke they want to get their hardware and software from one place; not pay Lenovo for hardware support and then pay Microsoft for software support.   Both of those reasons are practical.  Outside of those reasons there really is no compelling reason.  Outside of government or corporate sales you cannot spend the money on components and sufficiently be compensated without charging an arm and a leg.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Net Neutrality - What is what?

One of the biggest arguments today is Net Neutrality.  What is Net Neutrality and why should I care? Net Neutrality is split up in several provisions:

1. ISP's could not charge you more if you lived in a rural area more than they could charge someone who lived in a city for example.

2. ISP's were treated as Utility companies and thus could not refuse you service if they serviced others in that area.

3. ISP's could not charge more for services such as streaming, social media messaging etc.

4. ISP's could not throttle down (slow down) traffic to competitors services or give priority to their own services and goods and they couldnt block competitors services.

5. They were not allowed to block content of any kind.

Now with these Net Neutrality rules now revoked what does that mean for you as a consumer. We will go by the list above to illustrate the changes.

1. They can now charge you more depending on where you live. For example, I live half a mile down a path. They could charge my neighbors at the top of the path $30 bucks a month because they live closer to the switch and charge me $100 bucks a month for the same services.

2. ISP's can now refuse you service depending on where you live. If you live a mile down a road or path they can refuse to run that wire and in turn force you to turn to another provider who may have less than stellar service.

3 and 4 ISP's now have full control over what you can consume and what services you decide to use and can charge you more for whatever services they see fit. For example, if Verizon has a contract with Microsoft for Bing, OneDrive and Microsoft Online they can slow down Googles services and even conceivably block Googles services. ISP's can now charge you more for streaming services such as Youtube, Netflix, Hulu, iHeartRadio, Pandora etc etc.

5. They can now block any content they want. For example, Comcast is owned by NBC which is a politically liberal organization they can now block access to FOX News or make it so you have to manually access that content yourself and they can prioritize any content that they want to. If they dont like Porn for example, they can block access to porn sites. If they dont like kitten videos they can block access to kitten videos. So it gives ISP's incredible control over what you want to see.

So while these changes benefit ISP's and larger providers because they can now charge the companies more to make sure that their content is prioritized in the same breath ISP's can now visit higher costs to the consumer. Using the Verizon example if Microsoft says they want access blocked to other OS providers, Verizon can legally slow down and not prioritize traffic to Apple and Linux distributors. While anti-competitive its something they CAN do. Trusting ISP's to do the right thing is akin to letting a convicted pedophile babysit your kids while you are on a week long vacation.

Now, some people will say this helps cut down on illegal downloads ie BitTorrent, illegal downloads and other criminal activities they arent seeing the forest but are staring at a tree.  Nothing good has ever come of inhibiting technology.  The computer industry for awhile was pretty stagnant.  The real innovation came with the personal computers.  Micro and Mini PC's.  When the open architecture was implemented we saw a plethora of innovation.  Would Linux, UNIX or even Windows be where they are today if the content was blocked?  No they wouldnt be.  Any kind of inhibiting of technology doesnt make anything more competitive and it doesnt enhance innovation but rather stifles it.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

More Linspire

While I want to get away from doing just Linspire and Freespire related news here with the release of Linspire and a couple of reviews and "first looks"

First up, thanks to Category 5 TV for their review and interview.  I do appreciate it and it was a ton of fun.  So major shout out to those guys


And next was a "first look" by Linux Unplugged.  To be 100% honest, I didnt know who Chris Fisher was.  I apologize for that Chris but I binge watched a couple of his episodes and his old show the Linux Action show and definitely a good show. 


I have a thick skin about stuff, but they labeled Linspire the most "Expensive Linux Distro"  and no, its not.  Red Hat Developer workstation retails at $299.00 USD

https://www.redhat.com/en/store/red-hat-enterprise-linux-developer-workstation#?sku=RH3482727

But thats neither here nor there.  It just proves my point from my previous post.  But shout out to Chris Fisher as well.  I appreciate the coverage.

Anyone who wants an interview contact me or press@pc-opensystems.com and place a request.

Now, because of those shows I have had several more e-mails.  Some snarky and insulting which I wont cover here I'll let you guys use your imagination onto some more curious ones and I'll add these to the FAQ later but I just want to touch on some points here.

Q) Why should I buy Linspire for $79.00 USD when Windows is $129.00?

Are you kidding me?  I looked at it and thought is this a serious question.  But have you looked at the privacy and security issues with Windows?  Look, there is no genuine advantage and I dont track what you are doing.  The license for Linspire is provided ON YOUR HONOR.  I am not a babysitter and while I could add some sort of authentication to Linspire we dont.  Now why should you give us a chance?  We offer a secure, easy to use and supported general desktop Linux distribution.  Short of running Microsoft Office and Photoshop there is very little that you can do on a Windows or Mac PC that you cant do on Linspire.  To be fair, yes you can download Mint or Ubuntu and do the same things but only after taking some considerable time to set it up yourself and aside from posting to forums or Google searching some solutions you are basically on your own.  We do help you find solutions, we do assist in helping customers setting up applications that they want.  Whether they purchase from us or someone else.  Now, yes customers want to be able to purchase hardware and not necessarily from us and have the OS installed.  We are in talks about bundling with PC hardware outside of our own and that just takes a lot of time and back and forth. 

Q) Why are you basing Linspire on Ubuntu?  Is it laziness?

No.  I look at contingencies.  Im human.  What happens if I get hit by a bus?  or I perish in a fiery car crash?  While Im sure that would be a fitting end that would bring joy to those who despise me but things happen.  Companies get acquired and sometimes they go bankrupt.  We looked at what happened with Linspire and Xandros.  We also looked at what happened to Parsix.  When we were building Linspire we built several prototypes.  We used CentOS, we used OpenSUSE, we used Fedora, we used Debian and yes we even looked at Android.  We decided on Ubuntu because A) we were familiar with it and B) Because they have the highest level of support.  We wanted to make sure that if anything happened users would still get updates and they wouldnt have to rush out and pick SOMETHING.  They can take their time.  Now, we could have recompiled everything and set up our own repositories such as what we are doing with a new repository (more on that later) but mostly its set up this way for contingency issues.

Q) What about Mate, GNOME or KDE?

What about them?  Look all are fine desktops.  I like Mate, I like GNOME and I like KDE.  But we wanted a desktop that was light on its feet,  easy to administer and one that would ease the task of retraining and thats why we chose XFCE and standardized on the XFCE desktop.  We will not be changing it and its the standard desktop on all our releases.  One of the things about Windows and macOS is that they rarely change and its consistent across all devices desktops and even servers.

Q) Will we ever acquire the linspire.com domain?

Currently no.  The current owners want way to much money for them

In closing, I cant reitirate enough that Linspire and Freespire are directed towards two different segments.  Linspire is directed towards the commercial market and towards businesses.  Freespire is directed more towards the community.  There are a lot of differences in both and if you become a customer, thank you.  If you are a Freespire user we appreciate you as well.

Any more questions or comments about Linspire will be answered on the homepage and FAQ

http://www.linspirelinux.com or http://www.pc-opensystems.com/p/freespireos.html