sábado, 30 de abril de 2011

Phoning Home, Spying, and Individual Rights: Where Are We Going?

As I'm currently extremely busy, I'll just make a quick post about something I read that struck me:

I read an article about tracking technologies in a CAD trial software that let vendors contact a person to demand US$10,000 in licensing fees plus recurring maintenance fees or face a $150,000 lawsuit.

That led to the victim suing the vendors because he was not told he would be tracked.

While I think companies have the right to protect their privative software, the question is if companies can extend DRMs (Digital Rights Management) that far. Is it ethical and legal to track users without letting them know about it?

According to the article, companies could save themselves by stating in the EULAs (yes, the contracts that Windows users seldom read!) their intention to track users. That means companies will have the right to make software with malware imbedded! Isn't it great? I wonder how that will fit in Microsoft's plan to remove from the Web computers infected with malware...

Wow! It seems that the post I made some time ago about Science Non-Fiction was not so far off the mark!

martes, 26 de abril de 2011

MEPIS 11 almost Here! Testing RC3

I'm writing this post from my MEPIS 11 RC3 live DVD.

MEPIS 11 RC3 comes with Firefox 4 and Konqueror as its browsers, K3b for burning media, Amarok to play sound files and several video players (KMplayer and GNOME Mplayer.) It also has the GIMP to edit images and for its office suit, it includes LibreOffice 3.3.2. KDE partition manager has substituted GParted since MEPIS 8.5. Faithful to its tradition, MEPIS 11 can be used as a rescue CD or as a live OS should you decide not to install it.

How is it different from its previous test releases?

I'd say that the previous bugs I encountered are gone:

Desktop effects are deactivated by default, but they work once enabled.

The problem mounting Windows partitions is gone. Now you don't need Dolphin as Su for viewing a NTFS partition.

Those were the issues I encountered in the previous alphas and betas. I'm glad they are gone.

What's new?

The MEPIS QuickStart sits on your desktop. It is a very valuable tool for newcomers because it introduces basic aspects ranging from the KDE panel to alternative desktops.

Along with the MEPIS QuickStart, you also have an updated copy of the MEPIS manual. I've found it very useful myself.

MEPIS 11 RC3 Live DVD also includes several packages its predecessors didn't have:

Kolourpaint (Believe it or not, I always installed that one! GIMP is too advanced for me!)


Frozen Bubble (I also installed that one by myself in the past!)

Finally, you get to see a splashy when you log off the Live DVD. I wonder why I didn't see it when booting the system.

So far, this is what I've seen. I'll try the DVD in different computers to see how it behaves. I am very pleased with this new release.

viernes, 22 de abril de 2011

Linux is Spoiling Me!!

After reading an article about how tests have shown that antivirus solutions, in spite of their struggle to keep Windows systems protected, have fallen behind malware threats (MS Security Essentials among these)--and one company has actually fallen prey of hackers itself--, I realized that Linux is spoiling me.

Really, just about 18 months ago, such news would have caused a state of crisis followed by a detailed investigation of all possible AV solutions, even if mine was among the best rated.

Today, I just grin at the news because I don't even have an antivirus installed. Still, I've been able to get rid of 22 infections I got in one second after I plugged my USB key into an infected XP computer. It took me only 2 seconds and a single click to clean it. Yes, no AV required!

Also, I often find myself looking for my four virtual desktops when working on the XP system at my office and have become a bit irritated when I plug a USB device into someone else's system and have to wait for Vista/7 or XP to grant me permission to use it. I become doubly irritated if they tell me my USB stick is infected when the reality is that those systems are the compromised ones and are infecting my pendrive.

Then, I feel happy to open my repositories and find there all the software I need without looking for demos, cracked versions, or loaders. How was I happy before with 30-day trials?

What about updating my system while watching a video or browsing the Web? And how about checking out the software I just updated without rebooting? I already forgot why I was supposed to reboot the system after an update...

Oh...I realized my patience also runs short when I turn off a PC and I have to wait for the system to finish installing I don't know what files until it finally decides to shut down. That's especially obnoxious if the original intention for the shut down was one of those delightful reboots.

True...Linux is spoiling me, and I'm not counting all my learning in these months! Yes, I'm still a baby, but I've learned a lot if compared to my 15+ years of heavy Windows use.

Why didn't I migrate earlier? I wish I had!

lunes, 18 de abril de 2011

The Extinct Species of My GNU/Linux & BSD Logo Zoo (A Tribute to Discontinued Distros)

After making my little GNU/Linux and BSD Logo Zoo yesterday, a strange question came to my mind:

What about the distros that could have been in my zoo but are not there because they were discontinued before I got the chance to know about them?

Thus, as a tribute to those distros that someone developed with effort and that helped others in the past, I made a chart of the "Extinct Species" in my imaginary zoo:

Then, I noticed something. With some minor exceptions, the extinct distros from the "World Species" section and the "Aquarium" correspond to endangered species indeed. That's really a strange coincidence! Does that explain why there isn't any Triceratops Linux or Plesiosaur Linux?

That was quite fun to think about, but while I was browsing the Web today, I stumbled upon an article that describes what apparently is happening to animals at Kiev Zoo. That is terrible news, especially if you are an animal lover. I hope that situation may be corrected while the animals in that place are still alive.

sábado, 16 de abril de 2011

Visit My GNU/Linux (& BSD) Logo Zoo and See How Many Distros You can Name!

Some people think that GNU/Linux is only one Operating System. Others think that "Linux" is the only UNIX Operating System derivative but BSD must not be forgotten. Both GNU/Linux and BSD include a lot of different OSs in their respective families. While Linux has Tux (a penguin) as its mascot, BSD has Daemon (a little devil). Interestingly, many of the OSs in both families are identified by logos representing animals. Thus, I made this little zoo with the logos of as many distros as I could find to illustrate the great variety of Operating Systems available to choose.

Is your favorite distro in my logo zoo? Also, how many distros can you identify?

Remember: My zoo only includes the distros whose logo is an animal. Sorry if I skipped your distro!

By the way, I took the logos from Distrowatch.

jueves, 14 de abril de 2011

Windows and Technicians: A Win-Win Combination!

Last Tuesday, one of my students asked me "Professor, where do you get that other OS?"

He meant GNU/Linux, of course. It turns out that his laptop is refusing to start. Well, not his laptop; it was the OS on his laptop that didn't want to work. The laptop did all it could.

I thought it was another damaged XP but when I asked about the Windows version on the computer, he replied "It's Windows Seven." That made me remember the episode of my former student and his brand-new Win 7 Starter netbook. Really, I thought Windows 7 was built more strongly.

I asked my current student if he had downloaded SP-1 (it was released that very day) but he told me his problem had happened before, so he could not use his computer presently.

Then, the Windows Epiphany came to him. He said "I'll take my computer to a technician."

That also transported me to the old times in which techies used to milk good money out of my broken OSs.

I realized that technicians have a series of personal approaches. Some of them are harsh, some of them are not very ethical, and some of them seem almost illegal:

1. Some techies refuse to work with old (prior to XP) Windows versions.

2. Some techies refuse to work with Vista (I don't blame them! :P)

3. Some techies charge more to fix a Vista PC (that sounds fair to me).

4. Some techies refuse to solve the specific problem and instead opt for the "nuke & reinstall" approach.

5. Some techies blame OS failures on hardware without a proper check-up.

6. Some techies make their customers believe number five and trick them into thinking some hardware was replaced to charge more.

7. Some techies actually replace hardware (good hardware) with spare, lower-quality hardware they had somewhere during the "fixing" session.

Bottom Line: When you take your Windows system somewhere to get it fixed, you'd better be willing to pay good money regardless of what they do. If you dislike that, take your computer to Microsoft headquarters so that they honor their "support from Microsoft" motto. You can't do that? Then look for a trustworthy technician. If you don't trust the techie, then label and register every single part of your hardware...or feel comfortable with a dying battery, a faulty CD/DVD unit, or who knows what else.

There's another possible solution: learn to fix your Windows problems yourself. That's what I did and I can say it saves you money (but not time!) After some years doing that, I finally got tired of it and installed Linux. Now, instead of fixing OS problems, I use my free time checking out other distros...provided that my brother doesn't do it before. Wanna take a look at Mageia?

sábado, 9 de abril de 2011

Gradual Change...A Busy Week

They have kept me extremely busy with work this week. Now, looking back to what happened during my free time, I can recall:

1. The new Pardus user reported that she fell in love with the big cat from Turkey. Her Windows Vista went totally useless due to malware issues and now she is understanding the big difference between "computer infection" and "Windows infection." Really, it is only until you step away from that old paradigm that you begin to understand and enjoy using your computer freely.

2. I helped Mechatotoro with the installation of Mandriva 2010.2 into the netbooks of two respected professors in our university. They looked happy and eager to try their brand new OS. Apparently, Windows Vista/7 Starter is doing a marvelous job turning users to Linux! Of course, nobody wants to be bullied.

3. MEPIS 11 went to RC 2! I am very happy because MEPIS 11 turned to be all that they promised and even more! I upgraded my Test Mepis 11 to RC2 from the repositories and everything went seamlessly.

4. I downloaded Mageia beta 2 and gave it to Mechatotoro. I'm still waiting for his review, but I guess it will take longer because he apparently went back to Windows. :P

Times are changing...more people are willing to step away from the four sad squares even if the one in charge disguises them now as a circle.

miércoles, 6 de abril de 2011

El Algoritmo de Adopción de GNU/Linux!

Simplemente por diversión, aislé el Algoritmo de Adopción de GNU/Linux :P . Aquí está:

Para los que quieren promover Linux, es posible realizar dos observaciones:

1. Uno de los factores decisivos para adoptar Linux es escoger la distribución "correcta" (es decir, la más apropiada) para los usuarios. Simplemente forzarlos a usar nuestra distro favorita porque a nosotros nos encanta no va a funcionar. Sus gustos, al igual que su hardware, pueden ser distintos a los nuestros.

2. Los períodos de prueba son críticos. Se debería guiar a los usuarios nuevos durante los mismos.

Y ahora...de vuelta al trabajo...

The GNU/Linux-Adoption Algorithm!

Just for fun, I isolated the GNU/Linux-adoption algorithm :P. Here it is:

For those who want to promote Linux, two observations can be made:

1. One of the decisive factors for adopting Linux is choosing the "right" (i.e. the most appropriate) distribution for the user. Just pushing on others our favorite distro because we love it won't help. Their likes, as well as their hardware, may differ from ours.

2. The testing periods are critical. New users should be guided during them.

Now...back to work...

sábado, 2 de abril de 2011

I Just Got Fooled!

After a hard work's day, I came home and started browsing the Web. Then, I stumbled upon an article about a major security hole found in Linux Kernel that worried me quite a bit .

I asked some fellow Mepis users about that and the security status of Mepis...

One of them kindly pointed out some details of such article:

Archive Category: Humor
Keyword Tags: kernel security hole fooled you

Yes. I have been fooled and the whole web knows about it! :P

Still, there's something I like a lot about this prank...

You see, it's great to have an OS whose security flaws end up being for the most part either pranks or FUD. I'd be running around like crazy while trying to find patches and updates to protect my old OS a couple of years ago. Right now, even though I'm embarrassed because I was fooled so easily, I'm very happy as well because with Linux, security is real and what the rest of the world considers imminent PC threats are just chances to develop my sense of humor now.