Recently a new Linux distribution was born, called Lin-X. Based off Ubuntu 8.10, and designed to look like Mac OS X, it grabbed my attention. As soon as the download went live, I downloaded the 900+MB DVD image and burned a disk. Placing the disk in my drive, I booted up my PC into the live system. I was greeted by a Mac-like startup screen, with a circle of outward pointing lines lighting up in a circle. The Apple logo was there, just a little edited. Inside the Apple logo (really, the Lin-X logo) there is the famous pirate flag emblem of skull and crossbones. The desktop itself looks nice, and acts almost like Apple’s Mac OS X. AWN is used at the bottom of the screen for the dock, and the global menu applet is used at the top of the screen which emulates the Mac’s menu system. Only a few applications (KDE apps, Mozilla apps, and OpenOffice) do not have support for the global menu. Two themes are provided – the aqua and the graphite versions, and two backgrounds are also provided, the space background and a grassy-field one. The one problem I have with the theme is that when a selected item in the menu is highlighted that has a sub-menu (most apparent in the main application menu), the normal arrow appears fuzzed around the edges, and slightly distorted. The Firefox theme, Nautilus, and Rhythmbox all look really awesome though. There are several applications preinstalled that add to the common stock of applications. For one, the MPlayer movie player has been added by default. I had some issues with it however, I kept getting multiple errors when starting it — not exactly a big deal since the default movie player is installed. I was also surprised to see VirtualBox installed by default, version 2.1.4. Of course, no review is complete without a screenshot!
I just want to say a big thanks to all the folks who have supported the Ubuntu Developer Network idea over on the Ubuntu Brainstorm site. Over 400 people have voted in favor of the idea, with a good number of comments as well!
For those who may be unfamiliar with this effort, the Ubuntu Developer Network is an idea to create a central resource for developers using Ubuntu. This goes beyond MOTU and packaging to developing applications on Ubuntu. Think of MSDN, or perhaps the Sun Developer Network. When I went to Microsoft’s Developer Network to do a little research for the idea of an Ubuntu Developer Network, I was surprised how easy it was to get started with developing an application. Within 5 minutes of installing the right software, I had already built a simple web browser. Given, that’s with Visual Basic, but just the fact that I learned how to use the software that fast was impressive. That got me thinking, when I tried just packaging an application for Ubuntu, I was lead through countless wiki pages in continuous, confusing loops. Part of the problem is that the wiki pages were designed for experienced developers, and the other part is that they are just not organized well. The Ubuntu Developer Network idea is designed to fix all that.
News, videos, how-tos, and different software tracks are all part of the plan. If you have never looked at it before and like the idea, vote for it! All you have to do is register at the Brainstorm site. This idea hasn’t been picked up by anyone higher up in the Ubuntu community or Canonical — yet, but I hope that it is something I will be able to work on in the future.
As I was watching the whole Microsoft vs Apple thing go down over the past couple of days, I could not help but to notice something wrong with both sides. Here we have Microsoft claiming Apple has an Apple Tax. Fair enough, I agree they overprice just about everything (with the sole exception being the iPods and iPod Touch). Apple then makes a counter-claim that while Microsoft PCs are cheaper, the costs of the extra software (although with a free alternative, the costs are lower), the support, and new hardware all adds up to mean more cost and hassle than owning a Mac.
That’s where I begin to see the problem. Both companies are right, in a sense. Microsoft prices their software really, really high. Apple’s computers are priced really, really high. Microsoft wants to protect their budget, and Apple is too pompous to admit their computers are overpriced. Imagine the user bases that could be tapped if only software prices were lowered, and Apple lowered the cost of their PCs!
That will not happen of course. Both companies are interested in sqeezing out as much cash as possible from customers. They create lock-in schemes, proprietary codecs, and other detrimental moves that end up hurting consumers. They quickly forget the fact that we are in tough economic times. They forget the unemployment rate is at its highest points in years. With both companies’ heads in the clouds, what option could be more in touch with customers? Which one could actually help consumers and not lock them into pricey hardware or software?
Honestly, there’s not much more that needs to be said. To be more general, certain distributions of Linux and open source software could end these silly games played by Microsoft and Apple — but what would that take?
That will be the subject of Part II to this post.
Twitter seems to be getting more popular every day. The number of people in my “following” list seems to be growing also. Using Twitter had me thinking, how can Twitter be improved?
One of the things I noticed is that when using Twitter, updates are constantly moved down the page. If you happen to follow a multitude of people, you end up with tons of updates running down the page. If you reply to someone, they often times won’t get it, and if they send a reply, there’s a chance you might not get the message. Of course you can private message someone, but then it kind of kills the purpose; you can just email the person instead.
Twitter must be kept simple, so how can you see your friends’ comments on twitter, and not just the multitude of companies and individuals you don’t know as well? You can visit each person’s profile, but that just adds more complexity and time wasted. Why not have a side bar, where you can add preferred friends, and see just their updates, next to the list of all the updates you see? It may make it easier to stay in touch with friends. Of course, I don’t think Twitter would follow this plan, I’m just a humble blogger. Of course, it would give them one up on facebook, who seems to try to imitate Twitter at times.
AppleInsider has recently been spewing some interesting material on their web site… you might call it damage control after Microsoft’s recent ad. You might say that I am pleasantly entertained by it all. I will say that I am rooting for Microsoft in this case, but I am certainly no fan of Windows. I volunteer my time for a competitor, if that makes that statement any more clear. Really, I haven’t liked Apple much after their “Mac vs PC” ads. It all seemed a little too stuck up for my taste.
Now with Microsoft’s ads, even the “respectable” sites have switched to an attack mode. Now, the article I have linked to above is proclaiming bloggers found the ads to be faked (scripted would have been a more professional term to use). That honestly would not surprise me, but hey, the ads have a point: Macs are more expensive. The article goes on to say no PC maker offers the same level screen quality. Honestly, if you’re a person who doesn’t have a ton of money to blow, you probably don’t care about the screen resolution, especially if it is not that bad.
The final point in the article is what really caught my attention:
If the company isn’t careful, it will find itself stuck in price comparisons with Apple that only highlight how much cheaper Linux PCs can be without Windows, and usability comparisons with Linux that highlight how much more attractive Macs are to buyers who don’t want to deal with complication.
I’ll let you decide on that one. Anyways, I find it absolutely entertaining when people dish out a ton of junk about one system and then can’t take the criticism. Welcome to reality and the free market!