Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Distrowatch Review Response - Republished

We had pulled our review response to Distrowatch for Linspire 7 and Freespire 3.0 because we wanted to put this thing to bed and when one of our people talked to Jesse Smith he assured that would happen should the response be removed, but alas it has not.  But because Distrowatch has refused to report on new releases and showing bias to Linspire we have decided to republish the response in its entirety.  We are doing this because we want the truth of what happened to be out there and not just the one side.  We have attempted to work with them to mitigate the situation but since they obviously have no desire to treat Linspire and Freespire fairly and equally here is the response:

So I was reading Distrowatch and I came across the review of Linspire and Freespire.  Really it wasn't a review and should have been called "In defense of Linux Mint"  So while I could sit here and insult the guy and tear apart his review piece by piece but he is entitled to his opinion I'm not gonna bother.  That's what a review is, someone's opinion.  Now that you have read his opinion let me fill in the blanks that he left and give you some facts.

When did this "review" start

It started a couple of weeks ago and the guy sent me an e-mail saying he wanted to do a review for Distrowatch.  I forwarded the e-mail to press.  She said, "Roberto this is just a hit piece do what you want he is going to write what he wants to write and be done with it."  I also forwarded it to our lead engineer and he said the same thing.  So I wrote him back and the impression I got was this guy was simply pissed because he felt I disrespected or insulted the other Ubuntu derivative Linux Mint.  That's fine.  I turned it over to the head developer because I had some family issues pop up and Simon took over.   Let me clarify that, he had access to the head of development the guy who works on it more than myself and he didn't ask any questions regarding development, didn't ask us for access to the changed source code which is completely available via our download server, only icons.

So let's go over the facts.

Untruth One - The installer - We do not monetize the installer at all in Freespire or Linspire.  Any claim that we do is devoid of fact and whoever says we do is lying and what's most important they know they are lying.  His screenshot does not represent us as a US company, in fact, its a UK survey site.  So what happens if you click release notes while connected to the internet in Linspire or Freespire?  Very simple.

In this case, it takes you to the PC/OpenSystems LLC website.  So wherever he got that URL from was not from Linspire or Freespire.

QA (Quality Assurance) process - We like any and all professional software houses use QA testing to test our products.  We take people with different knowledge levels sit them down in front of a computer with our products and competitors products and we test to see who has the better product.  Well, no one except for the author of this review had any issues with our installer.  Some of our QA testers had an issue with Linux Mint when installing additional drivers.  It happens, no one product is perfect.  He says "Well only 3 people"  He is missing the point.  ONE person who has issues is too many.  But I will concede one point, I do disagree with the QA team from time to time and that's OK.  I do apologize they don't like his distribution of choice.  There are plenty of people who DONT like Linux Mint

Software Changes and included packages - As stated to him we do make changes to Freespire 3.0.  Xubuntu 16.04 is 1.2 gb to download, Freespire 3.0 is 1.5 gb.  So after removing LibreOffice and Thunderbird it GREW to 1.5 gb.  We add 3 gb of "artificial modifications"  We make changes to Linspire and Freespire.  All of our changes to Freespire are sourced and posted for download, for free and for anyone to make changes and commit them.  Were we asked for these changes?  No.  Were these changes looked at? No.  But they are available.

Untruth Two - Dubious claims - He claims that when you click on the "Help" box in the menu it takes you to the Xubuntu documentation complete with Xubuntu logo and all.  That is false.  As evidenced by the video below when you click on the "Help" icon in the menu this is what pops up:

Once again the PC/OpenSystems LLC website.  We remove the Xubuntu documentation because A) while Xubuntu is trademarked we can't use the name or the logos.  So the Ubuntu documentation is actually removed from the system.  Now we could go through there and change stuff, change the logos and change the text but B) we prefer help to be online because it gives users the ability to contact us real time and actually saves install space while allowing us to update "Help" as necessary.

Robert Rijkhoff, again is trying to make it sound like as we are pushing Linspire and Freespire as something it is NOT.  We arent when asked by him why its derived from Xubuntu our head developer Simon Lincoln made this statement " Good observation.  We do try to stay as close to Xubuntu, Debian and Ubuntu as possible.  That was strategic and planned.  There is a lot of work that goes into the core kernel system.  Im at a loss coming in on the backend of this so I dont know what he gave you.  We do a lot of custom work, as I do a lot of that work, on drivers for SGI and HPE systems.  I work with some HP developers and some of our clients who need drivers either for the graphics subsystem or the kernel itself that specific clients need hence our custom spin generation.  Some customers are on the receiving end of this and some are not.  These drivers are included in the extra-drivers package.  With Freespire in particular and with Linspire we do try to stay as close to the base because we saw what happened with Linspire Inc.  we saw what happened with Xandros and we saw what happened with Parsix.  Shit happens.  Companies go bankrupt.  They get bought out and developers get burned out.  So we made a decision to stay to the base because in the case that something happens our customers are not left struggling or out in the cold and having to rush decisions they can either fire up the Ubuntu or Debian repo's and continue to get updates and they are set and can make a decision later.  Its called contingency planning. "  so were we honest and open with him? Yes.  Now we do have our own commercial repository which is not included in the press ISO that was provided.  Robert had unfettered access to ask the head guy what he wanted.   Instead, he talked shit to the guy and ran off when he realized someone who could give him the MOST answers was presented.

And nowhere in the FAQ do we say people need to "Mind their own business"

So while yes we can go ahead and tear apart his "review" piece by piece and point by point.  There really is no need.  Opinions are opinions.  For those of the commentators who say they won't "buy" Linux that's fine, Freespire is available for download free of charge and you can form your own opinion.  We make improvements every day and usually have incremental ISO's every week.  Opinions are fine and usually, I don't bother rebutting reviews or people but with this one that had so many untruths aka lies, misrepresentations, and fabrications and why?  Because someone doesn't like your distribution of choice.  I will go ahead and keep selling Linux, services around Linux and hardware to run Linux as I have done for the last 12 years.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Is Linspire CE Office 365 spyware for Microsoft

Techrights facilitated a piece that they claim that we are pushing Microsoft's agenda to be able to spy on and exploit Linux users.

Here is a link to the article in question:

So why did we create Linspire CE Office 365?  Customer demand.  Some of the school systems we service and others asked for it because some states REQUIRE the use of Microsoft software and services.  We do have communications with Microsoft but mostly to tell them that somethings not working correctly and of course permission to use some of their copyrighted material.  Microsoft Corp. has no hand in the development, deployment or sale of Linspire CE Office 365 they get no "cut" off the sales of Linspire CE Office 365.  Using Linspire CE Office 365 is no different, data transmission wise, as you using Fedora and using Office Online or Bing yourselves.   If you don't want to use Microsofts services DONT USE THEM.

Linspire Desktop which is our primary product retains Google Search and the Chrome browser infrastructure.  It only contains one Microsoft application and that application is Skype.

People who purchase Linspire CE Office 365 know what they are getting, they know what's included and its what they want.

Please do your research before you write fictional hit pieces or as Donald Trump would say Fake News.

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

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 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.