Is there room for an Ubuntu powered smart-phone?

Canonical had experimented and discarded the idea of a mobile device centric version of its popular desktop OS Ubuntu. However, a closer look at the current smart-phone OS market makes me believe there is room for the company to revisit the idea of a mobile version of the OS, this time, targeted at smart-phones and not the ambiguous MID.
Given the fact that more people are buying smart-phones today than pcs, and even more people are getting exposed to the internet via their phones (Africa, Asia), the market for smart-phones only seems to be in its early stages.
For Ubuntu to reach the critical mass that it’s still struggling to in the desktop arena, a very useful, well designed mobile OS could prove useful. Though some may argue it’s not pure Linux per se, Android seems to be living proof that you can get more people to use Linux without they even knowing.
Also Android has proven that Windows can be beaten. Of course one may argue there’s no need for another Linux based mobile OS since we have Android, WebOS and Meego. As to why Meego seems to be taking an eternity to even take off I don’t know but before Android there was WinMobile, Symbian, and the BlackBerry OS. But look at how things have been upset with the introduction of iOS and Android.
Canonical could achieve a lot if it can replicate the modest success it’s chalked on the desktop in the mobile OS sphere. This will also go a long way to give consumers even more choice and also bring Linux to even more Joes! After all, that has always been the dream of all Linux enthusiasts.

Askubuntu.com- Get help with your Ubuntu Problems

Askubuntu is a new site that aims to help Ubuntu users get help with problems they encounter in their use of the popular distro.

“Ubuntu StackExchange is a Q&A site, currently in public beta, designed to make it easy for users to get answers to Ubuntu-related questions. It’s also a place for users to share their knowledge about the Ubuntu Platform.”

As usual, you’d be expected to obey the Ubuntu  Code of Conduct and the leadership code of conduct. Askubuntu is more like the Ubuntu Forums on steroids. It’s also a very laudable project by the people behind the Ubuntu Project to help make the use of Linux more natural and easy for even more people.

Of GNU/Linux, Hardliners and a clear case of double standards!

In an ideal world, we’d all be updating our statuses on Identi.ca via the terminal on Arch Linux, have text based web pages without Flash or any form of animation, hang anyone using Microsoft Windows, impose a fine on anyone who uses Twitter and make it a law for all students to take a full course in computer programming.

But in the real world, there is something called choice. Take a look at this thread over on Identi.ca that ensued because my very good @acurrie included Ubuntu as a hastag in an update to a post on his blog. All hell broke lose! I have followed with keen interest the recent brouhaha surrounding Canonical’s contribution to the upstream GNOME project. 

First of all, I was not impressed with Shuttleworth’s response to the whole upstream commits issue. He sounded more poetic than a technical guy to me on that post. Jono Bacon did a little better. That notwithstanding, the fact remains that there are millions of Linux (sorry GNU/Linux!) users out there that got exposed to the entire FOSS world via Ubuntu. That in itself is no small feat.

I also agree that Ubuntu is not synonymous with Linux, I am not aware if Canonical is seeking to achieve that goal anyway. However, what I seriously have a problem with is the needless and mostly very inflammatory comments that some hardliners make at the mere mention of the word Ubuntu. Is it not ironic and hypocritical to have people that claim they are saving others by giving them choices other than Windows get all worked up at the mention of one of the options available as part of the choice subset they offer?

Is it not hypocritical to be seen damning one distro (on purely philosphical basis) and actually getting worked up over people’s choice to use that distro? Where is the choice? Where is the freedom we so loudly proclaim in the FOSS world? There is Microsoft Windows, and there is Linux. Unless the entire FOSS world clearly defines its strategic goal of making Linux a viable choice for AVERAGE JOE and not Tom Geek, the 1-5% will eternally remain our lot.

How many of you will put your monies in investments for over 20 years that will yield returns of less than 10% and keep holding your monies there? Not everyone will be a geek, writing emails via the terminal, not all of us are interested. I for one am more interested in the financial/business aspect of FOSS than the technical/philosophical aspects.

And if you are like me and live in the real world with friends that only do Facebook, Twitter and Solitaire, you’d want something that works easily for you that you can convince THEM to give a try. Ubuntu does that for me, so I use it. Plain and simple. Sure my very good friend and co-author has a different take on Ubuntu, but he has never called me names or flamed me, not even in a jovial way for making my choice. He has given his reasons for his dislike of that distro, and most  of the time, I’ve had to agree with him based on FACTS he advances!

Linux is a great OS (yes it’s just the kernel I know) that has great potential, but I don’t see that happening anytime in the foreseeable future because there are just too many hardliners that divide their time between writing code and putting people off from using that code! There is absolutely no need to proclaim FOSS out loud if what we indulge in is mostly bickering at each other over philosophical differences and syntax that only makes Steve Ballmer’s day very worthwhile.

To advance GNU/Linux and FOSS in general, do away with the hardline, fundamentalist intolerance and understand that we are from different parts of the world, with different skillsets, interests and understandings trying to put in our small quota to make FOSS a viable alternative. If you have enough time after wrting code to damn something, spend it on trying to close the gap the Penguin will have to travel to catch up with the Windows!

Ubuntu Linux could do well betting less on Dell

We are being told that it’s not true that Dell is giving Ubuntu Linux a cold shoulder on its range of machines, and that if anything at all, they are increasing the choice of hardware preloaded with Ubuntu.
For me personally, I don’t buy into corporate media gymnastics. That aside, I think Ubuntu, and for that matter, any Linux vendor that wants to enjoy the OEM preloads should not focus on the big names. The likes of Dell, Acer and the rest. They simply cannot give out their all to get Linux to the masses. That is a wrong strategy if you ask me. Why?
Because those big OEMs have a lot to lose shoulder they anger Microsoft. Like it or not, they are able to sell faster and more of their hardware with Windows installed than with Linux. They’d not want to risk incurring the wrath of Redmond based on that fact alone. And what more could anger Microsoft than offering an alternative to their cash cow?
What I’d suggest the likes of Ubuntu and others do is to work very closely with niche hardware manufacturers like ZaReason and System76. Canonical I know is working with them, but I think they should pay more attention to nurturing the relationship. They could devote the time they give to Dell to these OEMs.
A fact that cannot be denied is that all the heavyweight OEMs are fundamentally Windows oriented. Why place your bet on them when you can actually work with another to help it grow to become a heavyweight Linux oriented OEM? 
Then again, I’d suggest these niche OEMs diversify their advertising methods by engaging as many people as possible. How? They could apply the highly successful Amazon strategy of affiliate marketing. Giving publishers a piece of the action for referring sales to them. I strongly believe this method could go a long way to increase awareness among a very large number of people that Dell and likes are not the only ones capable of piecing together computer hardware.

The Ubuntu Software Management- A little clarification

One of the greatest strengths of Linux over other OS is the centralized software and update management tools that come built in. This means that whenever there is an update to any of the packages or softwares you have installed, you are sure to not miss it. This alone goes a long way to improve the security of a Linux system.
However, I noted a common misconception (I believe it’s not just one person who has this notion) that every software in the Ubuntu repository is checked for malicious code by Canonical before it is uploaded. This I believe is not what happens since the USC currently lists over 30000 applications. Checking every single one of them for malicious code could easily take a lifetime.
What I believe happens is that given the centralized nature of package management, when a flaw is detected in any piece of software, it is easy to distribute a fix to all those running that application, sometimes within hours. Packages in the USC simply mean they will receive regular updates as and when they become available. 
Regardless, it still behooves you the end user to be circumspect of software you install on your system and to apply updates as soon as possible. There is no sure fire way against malicious code, but the centralized nature of package management makes containing such malice easy and hassle free.

5 Cool Sites for buying Computers Preinstalled with Linux

Dell has all but bowed to pressure from Microsoft to torpedo its Ubuntu line of computers. Add that to the relative success of Windows 7 among Redmond’s user base and you get a clearer picture of what is going on. 
In case you are wondering, there are still lots of other vendors that offer a choosy range of machines preinstalled with Linux for your convenience. The following 5 are just a sample of the lot
This site has a respectable array of desktop and laptop computers fitted with Ubuntu Linux ready for use. Prices start from $399 and you can also customize each machine to fit your hardware specification tastes at an extra price. They also other Linux peripherals like audio players (another name for iPod), cameras, printers among others. 
This site also has a range of laptops that ship with either of six distros namely Ubuntu, RedHat, Centos, OpenSuse, Fedora and Oracle Linux.
All the machines are also customizable to your taste for extra bucks. They also offer an optional dual-boot configuration with Windows for those who need the latter for special reasons.
One of the most popular Ubuntu centric OEMs out there, ZaReason stocks a wide array of machines; desktops, laptops and servers to suit various needs and specifications.They also stock some peripherals to add some spice to your machine.
According to this company

“EmperorLinux provides Linux laptops with full hardware support under Linux. Since 1999, we have supplied systems to a wide range of customers, including engineers, physicists, mathematicians, and astronomers at over 50 different government labs and over 200 universities. We have supplied hundreds of corporate clients, as well. If you use Linux in these environments, EmperorLinux is your sole source.”

Another of the well known Ubuntu centric manufacturers, System76 has some of the widest assortment of Linux machines out there. Their flagship machine, the Serval Professional is a machine that will make any geek go green with envy.
There are a lot more niche manufacturers that gladly ship computers preloaded with Linux. They may not have the clout of Dell, but they do a good job of giving you value for money and from what I have read, unparalleled support in your use of their machines.  If you ever think of buying a Linux machine, you might want to give any of these a try!

[IMAGE] The irony of Dell’s Ubuntu site!

Following the recent brouhaha about Dell’s public claims that Ubuntu is safer than Windows and its subsequent change of stance, I hopped onto the Dell Ubuntu site this morning just to see what has changed since and to my amusement, the site tells me it recommends IE8.
There’s nothing wrong with that until you realize I am on the Ubuntu site, which invariably means I want to use Linux! Now you are recommending IE8 for me when I am shopping for a Linux machine? Oh and I visited the site via Google Chrome, is that not a good browser too?
I’m not sure it was there before, and so is it not ironic and quite interesting that Dell publicly claims Ubuntu is safer than Windows, then it backtracks, now it is recommending the use of IE on THE Ubuntu site. Interesting.

Dear Ubuntu- Please provide this simple instruction

One of the selling points we all use in our Linux advocacy to Windows users is that they can run their favorite Windows applications under WINE on Linux. That sounds great.
However, I’ve noted on Ubuntu Lucid Lynx that the above sales pitch seems to have been torpedoed, at least superficially. When you install WINE and attempt to run a .exe file with it, you get a notification that tells you “…the file is not marked as executable.”
Fine. So what to do? Nothing. No “hey dude, click here to set it as such.” That dialog box is absolutely clueless as to what to do to get the file marked as executable. If I have installed Ubuntu for an erstwhile Windows user and she’s trying to run a game or any other application she probably swears by, this would be a big set off.
Sure I believe that was done for security reasons, but at least there should be some guidance to tell people to just right-click and mark the file as executable. That will sure go a long way to make life both easy for them and at the same time cut down the number of people who run back to the ‘evil’ they are used to screaming how Linux is a geeky OS.

Why does Ubuntu keep shipping with Evolution?

The Evolution mail client has been the default such application in Ubuntu since I got to know of Linux. Sure it is the default GNOME mail/calendar application, but I really am of the view that Ubuntu needs to drop it in favor of say Mozilla’s very brilliant Thunderbird
For one thing running Evolution on my machine makes me wonder if it is IE in disguise. It is, for starters, very heavy on my system resources. My hdd light keeps blinking to hell when I click on that application at any time. It also seems to take an eternity to respond to my mouse clicks.
And worse of all, it is only once that I remember ever being able to access my Gmail account via Evolution. Since that time, whenever I enter my mail credentials, it just sits there, tells me it is reading and fetching the mail. That’s it. Nothing else. It just does nothing else again after it shows me those messages in the status bar.
It may be that I am just unlucky with it. Or that my 1GB memory (that is what I use) is not for it. Mozilla’s Thunderbird on the other hand, just begs me to add my mail credentials and it takes less than a minute for it to connect to my Gmail account and fetch me my mails, including all my folders. And it is very much system resource efficient.
Evolution has become one of the first applications I remove upon every fresh Ubuntu install, replacing it with Thunderbird. If we are going to keep priding ourselves on how well Linux does on older hardware, then it would be wise to stop shipping some really fat applications like Evolution.