Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas Edge is dead

Microsoft recently made the announcement that they were abandoning their efforts with EdgeHTML and moving to the Chromium rendering engine for Microsoft Edge.  While some like Leo Laporte and the Mozilla team are decrying the move saying its going to put us in another mono culture like we had with Microsoft Internet Explorer; I disagree.  Leo and the Mozilla team have a right to their opinions and yes they are PARTLY right but its more complicated than that.

The Chromium engine is an open source effort.  This means that anyone can come along and submit code and changes and security researchers can find bugs much quicker and potentially patch and fix much faster.  So its not going to be like IE where we were relying on one company to release fixes.  Look, the web has changed.  We have gone from static web pages to progressive web apps, browser based apps and extensions.  Web developers dont want to write for 3 or 4 different browsers and rendering engines.  Its too complicated and can get messy.  I have always advocated that certain  things should be open source.  Device drivers, should be open sourced and if you go back to 2002 and find some of my earlier posts from when I was in college I said BROWSERS should be open source.  It just makes too much sense.  Because if Microsoft, Apple, Google, HP, Dell, Canon, Kodak if they didnt want to write drivers for operating systems the community should be able to write good device drivers and not reverse engineer and "rig" something to work.

When I said Leo and the Mozilla team are concerned and that they were partly right.  I am concerned as well.  I keep thinking about Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates and IE for Unix.  Part of me has the thinking, "Well what if Microsoft takes Chromium, forks it themselves and add a bunch of proprietary stuff to it and creates a big lump of something" and its a valid concern.  Anyone who is a real technologist would be lying to you if they say that the thought hasnt come across their own thinking.

The big question; would we bring it to Linspire?  That depends on IF they port it to Linux and if they deliver something that is high quality.  I think we were the first distribution to carry PowerShell included.  To me its not about ideology its about the technology.  Linspire does include Google Chrome by default and Freespire does include Chromium but would we move to Edge if it came to Linux.  Probably.  Our customers have long requested a non Googlefied version of Chrome and while yes we have Brave, Iron, Vivaldi and Opera its still a concern and something we will have to address sooner rather than later.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Ecto Blueberry Ice E-juice review

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


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.