What would persuade you to ditch Ubuntu for Windows?

I’ve been recently reading this article, on Zack Whittaker’s “iGeneration” blog, about what could persuade an user to abandon Windows and switch to Ubuntu. I had in my own already answered the question years ago since I’m already a Linux and Ubuntu user.

While reading the article it came to my mind the, in some way provocative, idea of reversing the question: what would persuade me to ditch Ubuntu and go back to Windows? What could Microsoft do to gain back users that their operating systems for Linux?

First a little premise, I know that most of us still have Windows installed in a dual boot configuration so the question should be, more precisely, What would persuade you to use windows as your primary operating system. By the way I don’t think this changes a lot the global meaning of what I’m asking.

Let me say I can Imagine a lot of things that could make Windows more attractive from my point of view: Making it Open source, free at least for personal use, removing the useless and annoying registration process or stopping distributing crippled (home, personal, starter) versions. I doubt Microsoft would ever listen to me. Anyway even with such radical changes, that would make Windows more similar to Linux (or BSD to be exact) I wouldn’t go back to Windows simply because Linux already has all these features.

At last the only reason that would return me to Windows would be having no other choice. For example, if I had to use some sort of life-saving application or hardware only available for Windows (OK I admit the therm life-saving is a little too dramatic). Must be noted that the better hardware and software support that Windows has is more a lack of merit by hardware and software producers than a Microsoft merit.

May be that I have very little imagination or I’m very close minded about Windows (or perhaps both). May be that the real strength of Linux is that once you start using it, after the initial difficulties, you aren’t willing to go back fro no reason.

So let me know … What would persuade you to ditch Ubuntu for Windows?

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.

So Microsoft has always been in bed with hackers?

“When it comes to security, even hackers admit we’re doing a better job making our products more secure than anyone elseBrandon LeBlanc of Microsoft.
I find the above quote both interesting and serious at the same time. The blog post linked to above is a Microsoft rebuttal of claims that Google is shifting from MS Windows to Mac and Linux given the insecurity of the Redmond cash cow. 
Brandon claims in the blog post that they are doing a lot in terms of security so much that even hackers attest to the fact. The hackers attestation in the blog post links to a long article on C-Net about “the quick rise of a teen hacker.” 
The entire blog post raises just three questions in my mind: 
1. So is Microsoft implicitly conceding that in the past hackers used to have a field day?
2. Why has it taken them so long to now be taking security related risks “seriously?”
3. Who are the “anyone else” Brandon refers to? Perhaps Apple or the Penguin?
Maybe you could help me answer?
Thanks to Mashable for the original story.

Not this anti-virus program!

“Researchers say they’ve devised a way to bypass protections built in to dozens of the most popular desktop anti-virus products, including those offered by McAfee, Trend Micro, AVG, and BitDefender.” 
So says an article from the Register that references a research carried out by Matousec which states in essence that not long in the future, hackers can bypass all the anti-(insert name here) you have running on Windows and attack your computer.
It is a very serious issue which can have a devastating consequence in the lives of a lot of people. However, there is still hope. The research did not make any mention of this anti-virus as being such an easy to evade guard. 
So when the time comes that hackers can confidently sneak past your anti-(fill in the blank), just grab a copy of this and you should be able to thwart their efforts.

A critique of some Ubuntu Critics

There is no doubt that critiquing Ubuntu is a great thing, for it is by rubbing it that it can be polished. Over the last few days however, I have read some articles that purport to be critiquing Ubuntu while in reality, the authors only display their glaring biased opinions.One of these articles was just full of contradictions such that I could not believe it was allowed to be published on the platform on which it did. Just today, my attention was drawn by a good friend to another one that categorically puts the blame for the unpopularity of Linux to the doorstep of Ubuntu.
The theme of most of the baseless criticisms is that Ubuntu is unstable for everyday use. Why you ask? Because either the author plugged in a peripheral that Ubuntu did not recognize right away or because there are some bugs that have not been fixed for period of time. This has even caused some to label Ubuntu as ‘garbage salad.’ I have no problem with people expressing their views, but then certain basic facts should never be misconstrued to the unsuspecting person out there.
First of all Ubuntu is not perfect. In fact, I am yet to read any claim anywhere whatsoever that touts Ubuntu as the be all OS. It is great, but far from perfect. Then also it has a six month release cycle that it strictly adheres to. That is what the developers and sponsors think is best for the project. And so six month it is. Under no circumstance is anybody obligated to upgrade or change their OS every six months.
There are two types of releases: the LTS and the normal releases. The LTS aims at being more stable and thus you have lots of conservative judgments going into their developments. Then you have the normal releases which are more bleeding edge and are mostly for those who are comfortable locating, reporting or helping troubleshoot bugs. The logic here is simple- if you want serious stability and reliability, you stick with the LTS which is supported for 36 months, else you go for the normal releases which are supported for 18 months. How hard is it to figure that out?
Then there is the argument of Linux not making any progress because Ubuntu casts a bad image of it. This is another hogwash. You see, there are two OSs for the majority of people walking this Earth. There is Windows and there is Linux. Forget Mac OSX. Now Windows is popular because Microsoft has succeeded in locking in most businesses and machine vendors with their market dominance. 
Secondly, it has deliberately turned a blind eye to all the massive piracy that take place in most parts of the world (mind you, Africa, Asia and Latin America combined are bigger than North America and Western Europe). Should Microsoft start clamping down on piracy in these parts of the world as it does in developed parts, Linux will make huge gains overnight. It must also be noted that Microsoft does not make money from the 90%  market share it is touted to be enjoying. If my friend runs a pirated version of Windows and visits a site, it registers as Windows alright, but did MS make any money from his copy?
The almost eternal unpopularity of Linux is due to a plethora of issues that cannot just be summed up and blamed on one distro. It is just unprofessional to make such analysis. Mark Shuttleworth has been singing the cadence anthem for sometime now and I am yet to see any reference to this in any of the posts that are critical of Ubuntu’s ‘instability.’ Ubuntu has contributed a lot to preventing people from suffering epileptic fits whenever the name Linux is mentioned as an alternative to Windows. Think back 10 years ago and imagine telling your dad you think the house computers should be changed to Linux. 
Global powers like Dell and IBM are shipping Ubuntu preloaded computers, that should go a long way to attest to the reasonable reliability of the OS. Besides, those companies have more resources at their disposal to conduct even more rigorous testing on the OS than Canonical itself can. So on what basis can someone claim that Ubuntu is so unreliable that the project needs to be scrapped? Sure Ubuntu has problems, heck everything made by man has problems, but we must learn to be fair and give praise where it is due.

5 reasons why you must support the spread of Open Source Software

Different people ascribe different interpretations to the term Open Source depending on which side of the divide they stand. However, one thing that remains certain is that everybody stands to benefit from Open Source and thus must necessarily support its spread. These are my reasons for believing firmly so
Open Source Software guarantees quality closed source software
It is very ironic but true. Without enormous pressure from mostly freely available and quality OSS, most closed source software would have just been junk. For instance, without pressure and competition from Linux, Windows 7 would not have been such a polished and nice software. OSS keeps closed source software developers on their toes in the knowledge that there is always some alternative available to users should they get it wrong.
Open Source Software reduces cost
Imagine your company in need of a particular software that is not available in the form it wants but there are others out there it can tweak to suit its needs. In this case, your company has two options, either build from scratch (which can be very expensive and time consuming) or grab the source code of an existing software and tweak it to their taste. Which would you prefer if you were the CFO?
Open Source Software fosters innovation
I actually find it very ironic that Bill Gates stood on the shoulders of giants to start Microsoft. With OSS, standing on the shoulders of giants to innovate is common place and encouraged. Take Ubuntu as an example. Shuttleworth has actually built on Debian what is indisputably the most popular alternative to Windows. Rather than spend an eternity starting from scratch, you can legally build on the works of others to add even more value than the original work. Society, at the end of the day, becomes the beneficiary of all innovations.
Open Source Software creates employment
Contrary to the arguments being advanced by firms like Microsoft, OS does not cause unemployment but rather helps to create employment. The job cuts that such companies have made were not as a result of OSS but rather a plethora of factors. If you are a programmer, which scenario would you probably like
a)A situation where you can actually grab the code of some software, add your own stuff and sell it as long as you respect the license you inherited from the original software
b)You do not have the right to do anything with any software whatsoever. Only the original company can tamper with their stuff. Which scenario will in the long run create more employment? 
Open Source Software guarantees continuity 
Imagine waking up tomorrow to the news that your corporate CRM software is no longer going to be continued. The firm behind it has decided to discontinue due to lack of demand and is also not going to give out the source code. What then happens to the massive investment your company has made in the deployment of the software? 
Your only option would be to start from scratch with another one. This I doubt, will ever happen with Open Source Software. One developer stops a project, and another can freely and happily take over. Saving people the hassle of starting from scratch. Firefox is a great example of this point. Netscape died, but was reincarnated as Firefox. Today, it is the second most user browser out there. How is that for continuity?
There are more reasons why you now more than ever need to support and respect Open Source Software. You may choose not to use it for the sake of personal preference, but I think it deserves some respect and support from all and sundry if the future of the software industry is to be guaranteed.

TV-Browser- Your open source electronic TV guide.

TV Browser is a simple, free and open source application that “gets the daily TV program from the internet and shows it clearly aranged – like a printed TV guide.” In other words, it is your daily TV show guide that works on all platforms- Windows, Mac OSX and Linux.
It supports over 500 channels. You only need an internet connection during the data update Java Runtime Environment installed to use TV Browser. It is available for download for all platforms from Sourceforge.

Sell Linux on its merits

There is one thing that most Linux proponents- myself included- are guilty of, and that is always extolling the greatness of Linux in contrast to the weakness of Windows. You often hear statements like “Windows sucks at X while Linux is super,” which though perfectly correct, now makes me wonder if Linux’s virtues cannot be eulogized without contrasting it with Windows.
Don’t get me wrong, Linux has quite a lot of advantages that Windows will do well replicating, but, always singing its praise in contrast to Windows makes me want to laugh. I believe we should tell Linux as it is: not a clone of Windows, nor was it created to replace it. Sure it’s nice telling people they are not likely to suffer security breaches on Linux as they would on Windows, but that should not be the norm of promoting Linux.
I believe the game of always contrasting Linux with Windows does more harm than good to the former. It actually sends the wrong message to potential users that the two OSs are perfect alternatives, which technically speaking, they are not. Linux does things well, and we should actually sell it on that rather than always lambasting Windows just to send a simple message.