Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I Got One!

What a surprise!

Being Christmas time I was not surprised to find some boxes came in, though I did wonder why they came to me here at home instead of at work where I usually have them sent.  What surprised me, though, was in the box!

The Google Chrome OS Cr-48 pilot program Laptop!  

I was so excited I nearly forgot that I had to put the kids to bed first!  They were pretty excited, though, about me opening the box (almost as excited as I was).

I'll be doing reviews over time, between here and articles for DACS's newsletter, and I really do hope to be supplying feedback on the system's good and bad qualities. Not only because I am honored to have been picked, but I see the future as the blend of cloud and local systems and this system is a great chance to peer into that future!

One thing that got me in the beginning was trying to find out what the system's MAC address since my router does MAC address filtering.  I'm not sure where I found it, but ultimately going into chrome://system brought me a,.. um... page I guess, with all of the system's information.  It includes some Linux-friendly views such as dmesg, lspci, lsusb, etc.


Unfortunately, it's getting late, so I'll leave you with this.

obligatory goofy shot

(obligatory goofy picture) 

Even the cat wants to get into it

Even the cat wants to get into it!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Google Chrome OS Laptop

Google talked about their Chrome OS which seems to have been lost in the success of Android, until now. Now Google is starting to run a pilot program of the Chrome OS built into a laptop that they supply!

I won't mince words, I want one!

The pilot program is pretty simple. You request to be a part of it, filling out a questionnaire depending on your use (business, developer, individual, etc.) and if selected, receive a box containing the Cr-48 Chrome Notebook. Unfortunately I probably shot my foot when I mentioned that I develop in ASP.NET, though I was trying to indicate to them that I am familiar with web technology as well as Windows and Linux. Oh well.

Is this the only way to get your hands on the Chrome OS? Nope, you can get the open source Chromium OS to install on your own computer system. Other than combining a 12 inch screen, built-in Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity, a webcam and 8 hours of battery life, there isn't that much different than a system running the Chrome or Chromium web browser.

So you can recreate this experience on your own system, but can this system recretae your experience on your current laptop or desktop? Yes, and no.

The biggest difference is that nothing is stored on the physical machine for the user, only system-level gunk works (drivers, system programs, services, etc.). The good side is that if something happens to the computer, nothing is lost beyond the computer.

A weakness of this is that not all applications have a cloud-based equivalent. This is where the Chrome Web Store is able to help. It provides a marketplace for people to deliver applications that work on the local system, without having to be installed like traditional applications.

Just like the Netbooks, this concept works great for the more common, mundane and non-resource hogging activities such as reading email, surfing the web, writing documents or spreadsheets and chatting. All of these, including image editing, are available in the growing list of Google applications and can assume that in time other popular applications will likewise become available. I remember Adobe even running a pilot program for Photoshop on the web!

So if you don't get one of these laptops, you can still feel the experience by either downloading and installing the Chromium OS, or just use the Chrome/Chromium browser on your system and change your thinking; don't touch that local application, or save that image to your hard drive. Pretty soon you'll probably start figuring out that cloud computing is doable, even today.

I still want one.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Easiest upgrade to KDE 4.5.2 with Fedora

On my laptop I have 3 hard drives and 4 "distros" (well, one is Windows XP); Ubuntu 10.04 (primary), Ubuntu 10.10 (testing) and Fedora 13 (becoming primary), each with their own state of working since this laptop has an Intel Corporation 82852/855GM Integrated Graphics Device (rev 02) for video which has a kernel bug that bit when 10.04 came out.

I was able to apply a patch in 10.04 to make it mostly work, while 10.10 worked better out of the box yet it lacks in other areas.

Fedora Linux Out of all of them Fedora 13 has been working this best, giving me desktop effects, handling external monitors and playing video. Ubuntu has varying states whether it doesn't handle external monitors (10.04) or desktop effects (10.10).

At one point I had openSUSE installed, but some update trashed the video in my system to almost make it useless after a short period of time.

Before I removed it, I tried updating it to KDE 4.5 two times. Both attempts failed and so I was accepting the fact I would have to wait until openSUSE 11.4 (next year) or later to try KDE 4.5.

I laugh because I thought openSUSE was a KDE distro while Fedora was a Gnome. Seems they work opposite on my system.

With Fedora I have been running the stock KDE. I was pleasantly surprised to find that after my 53 updates were installed (it's been a while), I have ended up with KDE 4.5.2! And even better, it looks like everything still works!

So this has been probably one of the most painless updtaes. Now I am nervous about upgrading to Fedora 14, but I'm thinking "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", so maybe I'll wait until 15.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Microsoft volleys back with Office 2010!

VS. ( + )
For the past couple of years Google has been growing at the expense of Microsoft. Microsoft search is practically unheard of compared to the verbed "Google", and the newly tooled Bing still has a ways to go. To their merit, though, Microsoft has usually been a half-step behind in the world of the Internet, but when it comes to their bread-and-butter it seems Microsoft is still a power to contend with.

I am talking about Microsoft Office, the powerhouse of the Office Suites and probably one of Microsoft's best products. While MS Office has been taking hits from the free and open sourced OpenOffice.org, it seems that with Office 2010 Microsoft has just leapfrogged OpenOffice.org and is taking the fight right up it's closest rival; Google Docs.

OpenOffice.org is a contender to the Microsoft Office, but only on the desktop. For most people this was a perfect alternative to shelling out hundreds of dollars, while at the same time being able to open and save existing Microsoft Office files. Additionally, OpenOffice was "true" cross-platform, in that it worked in Windows, OS X *and* other flavors of Unix including Solaris, Linux and BSD. OpenOffice provides the 20% functionallity that 80% of users actually use, and look to be growing into a true peer-to-peer contender.

Meanwhile Google has come out with their own Office Suite called Google Docs. The catch was that it resided 100% on the internet, which means you can access it from anywhere, anytime, and could even upload existing MS files, Open Formats, PDFs and now any file type. Even better, since it resides on the internet it makes collaboration as simple as determining what access you want people to have, and the URL.

Microsoft's answer?Office 2010 provides an integration of local application, cloud application and free file storage, something I've seen as the next big step for Cloud Apps! The other important milestone will be if the online version of Office 2010 is available for an Enterprise to install on their own servers and be able to control the files storage/save/delete policies. If Office is able to do this, the both OpenOffice and Google are going to need to be fast on their feet to keep up.

Office can be installed, just like OpenOffice, onto a Windows system and in that aspect the competition between them is the same. Office is still Windows-only, while OpenOffice.org is cross-platform and does the 20% people use an office suite for.

Where Microsoft Office leapfrogs OpenOffice is that files can easily be stored in your personal SkyDrive and can be shared and collaborated on. This is new, and a direct volley over Google's bow that cannot be ignored! Even if Google Docs is better (currently), there is no doubt that Microsoft's existing Office user-base and experienced marketing machine is going to be a force to reckon with. One can even argue, Microsoft knows Office.

Alone, these two features, native client and cloud, would be incremental steps in fighting the two-sided Office front against two strong competators but combining the local and the cloud means Microsoft is providing what Openoffice cannot (cloud-connection) nor Google (native client).

Competition is good, and it is good to see Microsoft is rising to keep Google on their toes! Can't wait to see what Google uses to fire back!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Are we there yet?

Only a little over 3 weeks until Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Lucid Lynx is coming out! Woo Hoo!

One of the fun things about each Linux distro release is the countdown banners (you can see 3 on my sidebar). Unfortunately I haven't see any official one yet so I'm going with this un-official one from Immanuel Peratoner's design.

I'm looking forward to this one not because of the hype, but because of the discussion and changes that are going into it. The new style, inclusion of social media, the UbuntuOne Music Store and usual round of updates and "tweaks".

Especially since it is a Long Term Support (LTS) release it will be interesting to see how it goes on both the desktop and the server. I'm in need to improve my home server now that I have some idea(s) as to what I'm doing (or does that just make me more dangerous?).

Monday, March 22, 2010

So Distro Updates are coming soon.. time to get ready!

Now that Ubuntu 10.04 is beta and due out in a little over a month with Fedora pretty hot on their heels coming out in the beginning of May, I have to start preparing my systems for the coming upgrades.

I'll be upgrading more this time than in the past because this coming Ubuntu is a Long Term Support (LTS) release and so this is going onto the family computer too.

I have 3 systems which will be upgrading; a family desktop and two laptop hard drives.

Part of the "preparing" process is going to be figuring out the best steps in upgrading and migrating.

The Family Desktop

This one will be a little easier to upgrade because not only is the distro going to be upgraded but the actual desktop will be replaced with a "new" (used) desktop so I am afforded the luxury of being able to return to the "old" system if something really breaks!

I'll be moving from Ubuntu 9.10 to Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, and probably sticking with it until the next LTS release in 2012. Since it is the family's computer and I have my laptop, it is a little easier for me to keep it stable (read: for me to leave it alone). Plus I can test things out on my laptop to determine if the upgrade is significant enough to push past the LTS-to-LTS cycle I am trying to impose.

The new desktop will need to be as similar to the current one because I do have one user who is very visual, and needs things to be right where they expect it. The more exact it is for her, the happier she'll be and the sooner she'll be back to being up-and-running.

Success happens with happy users, not happy admins.

The other consideration is that this desktop has 2 hard drives, and the second hard drive already has Windows 7 installed on it. Now I hate the idea of having to fool around with registration keys, and system shutting down features if I don't "comply" (something I've been spoiled with Linux since it doesn't have these same "features") so it exists completely on a separate hard disk.

I'm keeping the Windows 7 in part for fooling around with it when I need to, as well as for compatibility purposes. The only downside is the Printer/Scanner/Copier I just got is because the previous owner just got a Windows 7 laptop for Christmas, and Windows 7 doesn't like this machine. Linux, on the other hand, loves it even in 9.04!

My Laptop

My laptop will be slightly more complicated but still should not be overly difficult. See, it starts with having multiple hard disks in their trays so I can slide out one hard drive and replace it with another just like an old-fashioned game cartridge.

One of my hard drives is a 60 GB hard drive which is currently running Ubuntu 9.10. The other hard drive I'll be fooling around with is an 80 GB hard drive which is the newest hard drive I have and after hearing hard drives lasting 5-10 years I've realized that this is the only hard drive that isn't near or exceeding the 5 year mark.

My 80 GB hard drive already contains a Windows XP installation which I am going to hold on to for added compatibility purposes. The other distribution I have on it is Fedora 12. That's where the complication begins.

What is going to make things slightly more complicated than just upgrading is that I want to switch the distros on the hard drive:

My Windows/Fedora hard drive will become Windows/Ubuntu 10.04 LTS and my Ubuntu hard drive will become my Fedora 13 system.

Of course I do not want to be losing all of my settings, applications and files. I will need to make sure I'm "organized" so I don't step over my own two feet and end up loosing all of the backups from one system or the other.

To help with moving things around, I'll be employing an 8 GB USB Flash drive and possibly some of the networked Server space though it is in desperate need of cleaning out at this point.

When all of this is done, then it comes time to focuse on the server, but that's a whole 'nuther story!

Friday, February 19, 2010

I'm a "featured user"

This site, OpenSource.com, is very interesting to read as it does not relate to Open Source as a technology, but instead the whole philosophy or concept and how it relates to organizations, businesses, government and life!

Anyway, I got ticked seeing one of my comments as the "FEATURED USER COMMENT"

The site itself is fascinating, and frequented by some very intelligent and insightful people. I feel as though I have to take time, think and carefully comment instead of a usual haphazard slap-on comment like so many other places.

It is a Red Hat community service, but I haven't found any reference or comment to any particular Linux distro (pro or con). The closest I find is a generic "Linux" when use for illustration or comparing against the way Windows or Apple does things.

I look forward to following this site and reading the articles. I think it would be great if people would look past the initial thoughts on open source the technology, and see how the philosophy can pertain to their everyday organization's life.