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

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 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 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 or

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Linspire: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

As many of you know from the announcements on PC/OpenSystems LLC website, and the new Linspire OS website that we have revived the brand and since that time we have been undulated by many questions and comments that I want to touch on.  These are my opinions and not those of PC/OpenSystems LLC or any of their employee's, partners and sponsors.

1.  PC/OpenSystems LLC is a "green" and a small company - While true we are small we are hardly "green" we have been in business since 2007.  We have many partners we have worked on many projects.

2.  Linspire is dead and any revival it wont be the same - Of course its not the same.  What would the point be if it was the same?  Markets evolve.  Things change over time.  Except desktop Linux.  While yes, Linux has gotten a whole lot easier the core projects have stayed the same.  Linux has always had a limited user base on the desktop.  Some of the concerns have been ease of use, lack of commercial support for the general public, lack of availability on generic systems ie no OEM's carry Linux.  Yes you have System76, PC/OpenSystems, Dell and Pogo and thats all well and good BUT these are specialized offerings that you have to hunt for.  All the companies I listed above sell dynamite hardware.  Very good hardware.  But OEM's want a corporate entity that will stand behind desktop Linux, consistent quality, and that support the general public.  Mom and dad, grandpa and grandma, students, teachers, police officers and kids of all ages.  Now some people say Chromebooks have desktop Linux on lock and thats very far from true.  Chromebooks are limited and their Android app infrastructure, while improving, lack fit and finish and some of the apps on a Chromebook are buggy as hell.

3.  Linspire is just a respin of Ubuntu - This drives me absolutely nuts.  It drove me crazy when they claimed PC/OS was a remastered spin of Gentoo and Black Lab Linux was a remastered spin of Ubuntu.  That we are a respin of Ubuntu is the only thing that is fluff around here.  #1 you arent on my developer team so mind your own business.  #2 If you want to know WHAT we do the I suggest you join our insiders program and then you will KNOW what we do.  We have been working on Linspire and Freespire since June 2016.  Im just surprised we kept it quiet and it didnt leak.  Although we did elude to whats NEXT and other hints that something was coming.  It is a very costly endeavor to develop ANY operating system and it takes alot to market and deliver an operating system. 

4.  You guys are assholes for charging for Linux -  This is another thing that is head scratching to me.  Red Hat, Oracle and MicroFocus charge for Linux (in all reality we dont, we all charge for support subscriptions and licensing) yet when they do it thats all fine and dandy but when WE do it.  We are robbing from the OSS community, we are robbing the Linux community and we are just money grabbing pathetic rock dwelling dweebs who dont know what we are doing.  Heres a hint.  In all reality I dont care what people who make those comments think.  I let my customer base decide.  They are the ones that subscribe to our work, who use our work and in all reality THEY are the ones I have to keep happy.  If I deliver junk they will go find someone who doesnt.  Quality and consistency are customers demands.  BTW we have over a 90% customer retention since 2007.  Matched only by Red Hat and the multiple past owners and current owners of SUSE.

5.  You guys are taking advantage of the name -  No we arent.  Its branding and its a corporate asset.  Lots of corporations take advantage of assets.  Do you think the current owners of Chevrolet are the original owners of Chevrolet?  No they arent.  Do you think the current owners of Land Rover and Jaguar are the original owners?  No they arent.  Do you think the current owners of Dodge and Jeep are the original owners?  Nope.  Do you think PepsiCo has always owned Kentucky Fried Chicken?  Not at all.  Last but not least, Do you think the current owners of Twinkies are the ORIGINAL owners?  Nope they arent.  Are you starting to get my point here?

Look, I know Linspire has a long and controversial past.  We arent Linspire Inc.  We arent Xandros and I seriously did not expect the FOSS and Linux communities to come running to us with open arms and proclaim us heroes and saviors of Desktop Linux.  Actually, I didnt think it was going to be as positive as it has been.  I had gotten my shield ready for a HUGE flame war and a lot more name calling than I have gotten.

Linspire Inc. and Xandros Inc. died 10 years ago, may they rest in peace.  Xandros Inc. exists on paper only.  They have not brought a Linux product to market in 12 years.  Linspire Inc./Digital Cornerstone Inc. exists on paper and has NEVER brought a Linux product to market.

Before you judge, look at the products that we bring to market and look at the quality that we bring.  If we deliver shitty products then the industry will judge us and our customers will judge us and use something else and invest in other companies and we will go the way of the Dodo and Linspire Inc and Xandros.