Sunday, November 9, 2008

If You Buy a Mac

My recent "Why Buy a Mac" blog about sitting next to someone on a plane running Windows on a Mac received a number of comments so I thought I'd respond to some.

There were several OpenSolaris related comments and I'm all for using it. I've installed the 200805 release in a VirtualBox VM on my Mac as well as native on an old Dell I have. And I recently had an opportunity to get a release candidate for the next release and it is improved but I don't know that it quite has all the apps I want/need. I'm going to continue using/tracking it though and would gladly switch to it as my primary OS when it is "ready". But I don't know that I'd go out of my way to run it on a Mac and certainly wouldn't spend Apple money to buy a new machine to do so.

Related to the above, there was a comment about using Ubuntu. I've used it (or its variants like gOS and Linux Mint) both in VMs and native and feel it is still ahead of OpenSolaris as a "regular user" desktop, but similarly wouldn't buy Mac hardware to run it.

There was also the comment about the person being required to use Windows or that he worked from Microsoft. Actually could have been considering it was a flight leaving Seattle!

And while I'm on the subject of Mac's, see Michael Cote's writeup on tips for a new Mac user. A good read.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Track and Olympics links for 2008-8-12

Saturday, May 24, 2008

MacBook Pro, VirtualBox, and OpenSolaris

OpenSolaris was a big part of CommunityOne this year and as I mentioned in blogging about it, I was installing it and would be blogging about it soon. Well, it isn't as soon as I wanted (something about Java CAPS 6 has kept me busy) but here is an update of where I've gotten.

I'm running on a Mac, so went the route of installing OpenSolaris 200805 in VirtualBox 1.6. Getting and installing VirtualBox was straightforward, and then installing OpenSolaris also went very well. This blog entry goes into a bunch of detail on an identical type of configuration so I won't attempt to capture it all here again.

After the install, I wanted to get the desktop to use the full screen real estate I have and so went about finding out how to do that. Followed the steps and voila I can run full screen and have it appear that I have running OpenSolaris natively on the Mac.

So far I've installed via IPS which went just fine, and I'll be looking to install more things soon.

My outstanding issue is that I don't have audio working yet. By default audio was disabled in VirtualBox so I enabled it and tried both options it presents there but OpenSolaris hasn't recognized either. If anyone has any tips, please let me know.

I have also started installing OpenSolaris on a spare Dell D600 I have. I had LinuxMint on it already (Ubuntu based distro) and when I was done installing I could no longer boot to Linux! I found this blog that explained how to put the Linux Grub back and have it provide for booting to OpenSolaris which worked fine. I haven't gotten wireless working on it yet so that is the next project (any tips welcome!)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Olympic Thoughts

I am a big sports fan and look forward to the Summer Olympics every 4 years and this year is no different. Track and field is my favorite event but I'll watch most any sport and gymnastics, volleyball (indoor and beach), and tennis are high on the list. August 8th thru 24th will find me glued to the TV at odd hours of the day/night.

Why do I say odd hours? I'm sure most of you are aware but for those that have been holed up in a cave somewhere, this years summer games will be in Beijing, China. That means "prime time" events occurring in the wee hours of the morning, and I'm sure we can depend on NBC to delay the majority of the coverage so we can play the game of avoiding results all day long so we can watch it in our prime time. What fun.

When the games were awarded to Beijing, there were immediate concerns given China's less than stellar record on human rights, openness, and pollution, but all the right people said all the right things and the concerns went away ... at least for a time. As we grow closer (124 days) to the games, those concerns are coming back.

The pollution problem, while better, doesn't appear to be fixed, there continue to be human rights concerns, and there is talk that media covering the Olympics will not be allowed to have full internet access and take pictures of or report everything they see. There is talk that some may boycott the opening ceremony (which would be far better than boycotting the whole games!).

A sampling of stories over just the past few weeks includes:

  • It's time for Rogge to speak out - "IOC president remains silent while world leaders express their discontent about China as the Olympics approach."

  • Waiting to inhale in Beijing - "After a 45-minute jog on some of the same streets where the marathons will be run, this reporter experienced minor discomfort and heaviness in my lungs and griminess on my skin."

  • IOC flouting Olympic charter by ignoring Tibet issue: HRW - "It also asked the IOC to publicly assess the extent to which current human rights violations linked to the preparation of the Games were violating the commitments made by China at the time of its bid to host the Olympic Games, and to establish a standing mechanism to address human rights concerns."

  • Stop blocking the internet, Olympics committee tells China - "China routinely blocks access to certain sites on the internet and can implement at will a blacklist of words that cannot be found and will crash a search engine." and "Wikipedia remained outside the firewall — apparently because of its many references to such sensitive issues as the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, the Dalai Lama and Tibet. Many international blogs cannot be accessed because their host servers are blocked." (by writing this blog I may be getting Sun's server on a blacklist?)

  • China may ban live broadcasts during Games - "Earlier this week, however, officials with the Beijing Olympics Organizing Committee, or BOCOG, told executives at BOB that the live shots [of Tiananmen Square] were canceled, ..."

  • IOC inspectorate confirms that games will not be censored - "China routinely uses 30-second to one-minute delays to control broadcasts on state-run TV. The Olympic torch lighting ceremony last month in Greece was disrupted by a protester who ran up behind a top Chinese official giving a speech. The image was seen around the world but has not been shown on state TV in China."

  • Gebrselassie pulls out of Olympic marathon due to pollution fears - "The pollution in China is a threat to my health and it would be difficult for me to run 42 kilometers in my current condition"

On the plus side, it appears NBC is going to expand their digital coverage but I'm sure it will be at a price.

So there seems to be some movement and continued promises, so I am hopeful that the games will occur without incident, but I have to say I'm not optimistic. But we'll see.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Is Open-Source "Freetarded"?

Is open-source "freetarded"? I just ran across an article by Christopher Keene pointing out that open-source has to be about more than free and that vendors have to start thinking that way. And he is absolutely correct!

If software is only free, you are addressing only part of having software be valuable and having a low TCO. As the article above points out, if you can't get the software installed and working, or you can't find talent to be able to work with the software, that "free" software starts to get pretty expensive.

In order to fully deliver on the promise of open-source, software must have three qualities:

  1. Free and easy access - This is kind of assumed with open-source, but must be stated so we don't forget it. For most users it isn't about the source, but rather is about free and easy access to a binary or distribution. While I have to confess that I have downloaded source and built my own binaries for a variety of apps and even newer versions of Linux kernels (and I'm probably even proud of this fact), most users don't have the aptitude or desire to do that, so having binaries is a must.

  2. Easy to use - This is extremely important and sometimes forgotten with open-source projects. If you download something and can't get it installed, or after installation can't get it configured or working, you can end up wasting a significant amount of time losing the "free" aspect of the software. Worse, if that initial experience is bad you may not come back again to try it and worse yet, word of mouth and hmmm, blogging, can spread the word about a product being difficult to use very quickly.

  3. Vibrant community - This last piece is also very important. Without it you don't get the collaboration and feedback that help drive innovation and help make the software better. Furthermore, if there is no community, adoption suffers and that leads to small pools of talent resulting in higher costs for organizations wanting to use the software.

You only have to look as far as the Apache Web Server and Apache Tomcat, or more recently GlassFish to see examples of where these three qualities have led to successful open-source projects that have had and are gaining widespread adoption and use and have driven down TCO for organizations that are implementing the software. And while it isn't as large or mature as those mentioned, Open ESB is also applying the qualities to create a successful open-source project.

A related question that deserves its own blog entry but I'll mention here is, if software is free, how does a vendor make any money off it? See Mark's blog from some recent interaction with our customers to see their views on paying for "free" open-source software, and stay tuned for more on the subject.