Older blog entries for dmarti (starting at number 84)

Ron Paul is the new Linux?

Linux freaks have a reputation for posting a bunch of crazy comments every time someone in the Media reports a problem with Linux, or posts something positive about a lock-in media format (which always come to grief in the end: neener, neener baseball DRM) or, of course, certain IT vendors.

But now we have a new Internet freak threat: the Ron Paul commenters. Mention Rep. Paul, and your blog gets a crap-storm of comments, just as if you said "Linux is not ready for the enterprise" or something. Examples: Tim Lee and Justin Mason.

I wonder how many of the Ron Paul fans are Linux users, or people who tried Linux and gave it up for stronger stuff.

Posting a bunch of flaming comments in favor of something doesn't mean that the argument is bad. It just means that the poster isn't house-trained.

Syndicated 2007-11-08 19:19:16 from dmarti's blog

Red Hamazon?

Useful news out of Red Hat this morning. You'll be able to get virtual RHEL boxes on Amazon EC2, and manage them with your regular Red Hat Network tools, as you would a physical box or a guest on your own hardware.

Now the big question is: when is EC2 going to come out of beta and
get an SLA? The S3 storage service just got one, and with
an Enterprise distribution coming out on EC2, the "beta" label on EC2 is likely to be on the way out, too.

This is a fun story for customers who aren't doing virtualization yet, as most aren't. If you've been reading Nicholas G. Carr's blog, and getting all fired up about getting out of running your own data center, but you still have apps to deploy today, you can install on RHEL, then move to EC2 in the future.

Syndicated 2007-11-07 20:57:09 from dmarti's blog

Got a bad business app? Get your data out.

This one is for everyone who has to use some...well, "legacy" is a polite word for it...business application because it has a bunch of important data stuck in it.

Alex Khizhnyak from Apatar walks you through the steps in getting rid of an evil business app in Dump your legacy CRM system for Salesforce.com using open source tools. If Salesforce.com isn't your favorite, I'm sure that it will give you ideas on how to convert your data for the CRM system that you do like.

Looks like the kind of thing that people are happy to take on as a weekend project because starting Monday morning you don't have that business app from hell to support any more. Have fun.

Syndicated 2007-11-06 20:09:09 from dmarti's blog

Fun with Ubuntu "Gutsy Gibbon" (and a bug)

The message "New distribution release '7.10' is available." and the "Upgrade" button have been sitting there taunting me for a while, and one of my home servers has donated 25GB of Bittorrent traffic to the task of spreading the new release since it came out last month. But I was on a trip, and we all know not to upgrade the main work laptop right before a trip.

But last night, since I'm back and all, I clicked the Upgrade button. It walked me through a bunch of dialogs, most of which were just prompting me to replace config files with the distribution's new versions. Thankfully, it didn't touch any of the config files related to my weird mail setup.

Reboot, and the first thing I noticed was the new look for the desktop icons. Everything else, pretty much the same. (I don't have a festooned desktop setup, so I'm sure I'll notice more stuff later on.)

"sudo powertop" in a terminal, and I'm tracking CPU wakeups. Example of the kind of thing I'm seeing:


13.5% ( 12.4) : PS/2 keyboard/mouse/touchpad

Need to come back to that one. I think it's one of those that there's an easy fix for. Wakeups are in the triple digits, but the processor is sleeping in C3 a comfortable 82% of the time, so not too bad.

Yes, suspend still works.

The processor feels cooler, but am I fooling myself?

Now for the fun part, something that will help with the podcast.

Audacity has gone from 1.2.6 to 1.3.3 in this Ubuntu release, which should mean better ALSA support for my main podcast recording tool and the USB Audio box that I haven't been using.

I fire it up and ...yes! The M-Audio Fast Track Pro is there. Plug in a mic and I'm recording via USB, as I had originally planned for the podcast, but didn't have time to get the previous release of Audacity doing its thing with the USB box. I will buy cold beverages for all Audacity and ALSA developers, and for the packagers who make their software play nicely together, next LinuxWorld show.

Time to check my scanner. The GIMP is up from 2.2.13 to 2.4.0-rc3, and it still sees the scanner. Weird I/O error trying to scan the first time, but the second time it scans. Will keep an eye on that one. If I can get it to do it again I'll report it.

Now for the bummer: a real bug. I use "mairix" to index my mail, and this happens.


dmarti@zea:~$ mairix
Segmentation fault (core dumped)

That's not good. Most of what I do with mail still works -- I can still get, read, reply, all that stuff, but one of my favorite nifty little utilities is out of commission. In conclusion, Ubuntu is clearly Not Ready For the Enterprise, but my next podcast is probably going to sound a lot better.

Syndicated 2007-11-06 19:02:07 from dmarti's blog

Slow news day

A New York Times story is making the rounds on an internal mailing list. This is news? Condé Nast editor can't handle lots of email, then whines about it?

"The following is just the last month's list of people and companies who have been added to my Outlook blocked list."

Wow. Is Condé Nast trying to cover 21st-century technology using a weak 20th-century mailer? I bet this guy would hire a Middle East correspondent who works out of the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas, too.

Simple solution. Condé Nast management can put this chump in charge of a lifestyle magazine about using "vintage", obsolete, communications technology, and find someone who can handle a decent mail program to take over Wired.

For those who are interested in applying for the job, Sacha Chua has some good ideas on handling mail madness, but whatever works for you.

Syndicated 2007-11-06 18:14:57 from dmarti's blog

QoTD: Cory Doctorow

"One of my favorite reprints was one I sold to a magazine who'd found the text in the word-salad at the bottom of a spam e-mail. So even the spammers are helping me." -- Cory Doctorow

Syndicated 2007-11-05 16:51:50 from dmarti's blog

Desktop Linux and hardware as ad space

Matthew Aslett covers the irrelevance of desktop Linux.

He has some good points. The problem with breaking into the Microsoft-dominated desktop market is that it's sort of like competing with Soviet-style central planning on the technical side, which is good for Linux, but on the business side it's like competing with FedEx. In order to start a competing service, you'd have to go around to thousands of companies and convince them to let you put a box next to the FedEx one. And until you got enough boxes in enough places, users would complain. The equivalent for desktop Linux is hardware and software compatibility lists.

So far, so bad. But the news behind the latest "desktop Linux this year, honest" buzz is the trend that more and more software vendors no longer matter because most users just use a web browser plus a few little things that are already available on desktop Linux.

That leaves the hardware vendors. There, the story is a little more complicated. Sure, hardware compatibility is a pain, but PC hardware isn't just a product any more. It's also sellable ad space. The biggest example today is in the Microsoft Windows market, where PC vendors earn money bundling "crapware," demo versions of proprietary software.

Today, Everex is leaving money on the table with the gPC by not getting Google to pay for its users' eyeballs. That's not going to last. Next version, and this is just my prediction here, the gPC is likely to get two things: first, PAM integrated with the users' Google accounts, and second, some thanks-for-the-eyeballs money from Google to Everex.

That throws the full might of the online ad auction winner-take-all market share war (there can be only one) into the quiet cash cow pasture of desktop OS pricing.

As soon as Everex has an offer from Google to make the desktop OS into a profit center rather than a cost, Microsoft digs up the old ad-supported Windows idea, starts paying manufacturers to install it, and it's "Step 3. Profit!" for Everex. And the OS is a complementary good to the hardware that Everex puts in the box, so a falling OS price tends to increase the price that Everex pays for parts. More money for the component
vendors, too.

So everyone on the hardware side can make money with desktop Linux without actually selling much of it, as long as it's just good enough that it could potentially satisfy enough users to tip the online ad struggle Google's way. This is why it's important that the gPC isn't just a cheap box that people buy to put a different OS on. Everex needs the numbers on how many users are actually using the thing out of the box in order to get Google and Microsoft to pay attention to the Everex Threat.

Paul Kim from Everex is not going to be on any conference programs as an "Open Source Business Visionary," but his job could be changing, a lot. Get this thing to the point where it will work for the least demanding 5% of users, and in a few years he'll be sending sales reps to call on the OS companies with glossy media kits all about Everex customers' online shopping habits, and making money from the OS companies and from the hardware buyers.

Syndicated 2007-11-02 17:15:06 from dmarti's blog

Tonight's top ten list...

LinuxWorld.com catches the IT Media's top ten list fever: Top ten IT books never to admit you haven't read. I think I put in too few of the obvious ones, but at least The Mythical Man-Month is in there.

Syndicated 2007-11-02 14:25:36 from dmarti's blog

Plentiful bandwidth, scarce chairs

Thread on Doc's site about how to meter access to coffeehouse seats. The scarce resource here isn't the bandwidth or the address space, it's tables and chairs. So what you have to realize about coffee places is that they aren't restricting access to net and power because they want to make money partnering with a wireless company, or because they want to save money on the electric bill. They just have to do something to keep the whole place from filling up with people who buy one cup of coffee and sit there working all day. One way is to treat the customer's laptop battery life as a parking meter for the chair, and another way is to charge for a net connection.

But if a place looks "dead", with no customers, people are less likely to come in. If you're running a coffee place, you want some but not all chairs occupied. So, in the grand tradition of obscure technical fixes to social problems, what about this: treat net connections like chairs by setting the DHCP server to give out a limited number of addresses, say, number of tables minus two. If the place is full, someone coming in can't get on until one of the current users leaves. Put up a sign: "The number of active Internet users is limited to 8. If there are already 8 people using the Internet, please wait for another user to leave before connecting."

That way you don't have to worry about booting out the people who tie up IP addresses and chairs during rush hour—customers will talk among themselves to figure out a fair allocation of the addresses.

This photo is the number one result for [chris dibona] on Google Image Search. (Yes, I'm doing a presentation for LinuxWorld Conference and Expo people and I want to give credit to the organizers of LINC, which became the first LWCE tech program.) Somebody reboot the Google.

Desktop anti-virus software is an example of something that IT people like, but that doesn't contribute to the bottom line. What happens when you deploy AV-free desktops?

Syndicated 2007-11-01 22:35:54 from dmarti's blog

gPC leaving money on the table?

The Everex gPC is for sale at Wal-Mart. The distribution, "gOS" is an Ubuntu derivative from a new company, headed by David Liu, and the desktop experience is based on Enlightment, tweaked to look kind of like Mac OS X, with Big Obvious Buttons for all the Google apps.

I talked with David about gOS before the launch, and asked the obvious question: is Google paying gOS for the ads that its customers see, Firefox-style? No. Firefox has "a great model that we're obviously inspired by," he says, but so far no Googlebucks for gOS or Everex.

This could be a good thing in the long run, since it means Everex doesn't have an incentive to make it hard to install an alternate distribution on the gPC.

Syndicated 2007-11-01 21:23:21 from dmarti's blog

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