Archive for the ‘Linux’ Category

March

12

by Kaj Kandler

According to InfoWorld, Walmart discontinued selling its $200 gPC from Everex in stores.

The $200 PC loaded with Google applications will continue to be available at the Walmart.com website.

As reason, Walmart’s spokes person, O’Brien said “The idea was to see if shoppers in our stores would respond as they do online to the offering. The answer is that customers did not respond to expectations, so we decided not to restock.” This is an interesting contrast to the many reports that the low cost, low energy PC has sold out in some stores and Walmarts pride to be able to manage inventory best. Also, Paul Kim, director of marketing at Everex, says “The sell-through [at Walmart stores] was brisk, I am surprised at the decision,” said Paul Kim, director of marketing at Everex.

Interestingly, O’Brian felt compelled to say “We did not ‘pull’ Linux from our shelves or make any kind of ‘announcement’ on this,” she said.

November

08

by Kaj Kandler

While Everex started selling its low cost PC for <$200 at WalMart, it now offers the motherboard, CPU and OS bundled for $60. Add some memory and a hard drive ($40) and salvage an old computer case, power supply, keyboard and mouse ($0) and your are up and running for $100 and a little sweat equity. LinuxDevices.com has an in depth report about Everex’s plans for its Linux and Google applications based $200 PC. LinuxDevices reports that Everex hopes to sell 50,000 to 60,000 PC’s through WalMart. The main concern for profitability are the support costs, which Everex hopes to keep under $30 per sale.

The developer board comes with the CPU and a DVD containing the ready to install gOS Operating System. According to the article, gOS is an Ubuntu based Linux distribution with the Enlightenment Window manager for the low cost PC is called gOS like in Google OS for its inclusion of all Google online tools available and pre installed. The vision is to use online Google tools for Search, E-Mail, Calendar, Bookmarks, Text Documents, Spreadsheets, and more. If needed local applications, such as the office suite OpenOffice.org are included as well. gOS is also open source and available for download, but it appears the version delivered with the board or the PC is pre configured to the hardware and adds programs for multimedia (playing mp3, DVD, etc.). You can’t expect an abundance of performance from the Via C7 processor, however, it does a good job with web browsing and running basic applications and multi media playback.

November

02

by Kaj Kandler

Gee, WalMart is becoming a major outlet for Open Source PCs. It just announced a desktop PC for under $200, including mouse and keyboard and even speakers. The machine is rather green than powerful, as it uses a 1.5 Ghz VIA G7 processor, which has enough juice for homework and playing mp3s, and in turn is quite energy efficient. This machine needs just 2 Watt power on average (how ever that is measured) and is almost not to be heard, with 28db noise levels.

The kicker is this is a PC with lots of open source software and w/o MS Windows. It runs a Debian based Linux distribution called gOS, including OpenOffice 2.2 and uses lots of Google, YouTube, Facebook and other web applications pre-installed. Some might see the Google web applications as bloatware, but at last they are not try & buy versions.

You have to buy an extra monitor or use one of those that are discarded in perfect working order. I know a few people who have dumped their nice 19″ tubes for flat screens. So if you have more space than money, ask around their might be a good monitor for free in some garage. Did anybody say Craig’s List?

October

02

by Kaj Kandler

I just learned that one needs to be careful when installing OpenOffice.org 2.3 on SuSE 10.X. Aparrently the packaging has changed so that you can install the various applications, such as Writer, Calc, Base and Impress, separately.

September

18

by Kaj Kandler

Today, IBM released Lotus Symphony, its version of OpenOffice.org as a free offering to business, government and consumer users.

The productivity suite is free to download. Interestingly the website only presents three applications, “Documents”, “Presentations” and “Spreadsheets.” The Database functionality of OpenOffice.org is apparently missing. The Suite supports Windows XP or Vista and Linux RedHat or Novell SuSE. A discussion about MAC OS X support has already started in the support forums.

Lotus Symphony does naturally support ODF and also can read and write the Microsoft Office formats most of the time. The latest MS OOXML is not yet supported.

Unfortunately this is another species in the jungle called Open Office eco-system.

P.S.: If you are PC veteran, you might remember the Lotus Symphony for DOS, which included Lotus 1-2-3. This is not the same!

August

15

by Kaj Kandler

While Novell offers its own edition of OpenOffice.org in the Enterprise SuSE offerings, there are packages available for install in the open SuSE Linux project.

Look here for the stable package of Open Office Release 2.2.1 for Open SuSE Linux.

A recent post on the mailing list gives more details.

July

12

by Kaj Kandler

I’m curious if anybody of my readers can point me to non Microsoft OO-XML implementations?

I stumbled today over Linspire’s press release with this rather controversial paragraph.

The Open XML format is an open standard file format for office applications that can be freely implemented by multiple applications on multiple platforms. The Open XML format was standardized by Ecma International on December 7, 2006 and is also being implemented by multiple applications on multiple platforms. It is now under consideration for ratification by ISO/IEC JTC1. Open XML is the default format for the recently released Microsoft Office 2007. The Open XML format is also available through free updates to past Microsoft Office versions.

It claims that OOXML is open and can be implemented by anybody. However there is a raging discussion in the ISO standardization community and the open source community at large, that MS-OOXML is neither open nor worthy a standard, due to various contradictions and secretive parts.

I wonder if I’m just misinformed, or if there are more than some beta attempts from Novel, that so far are limited and buggy.

June

22

by Kaj Kandler

Dell Computers is further responding to its customer’s public request. After offering some of their PCs pre-installed with Ubuntu Linux, they now offer an increasing number of PCs with only a minimal set of pre-installed software packages. Gone are the AOL installers, the music players, the DVD player programs, if the customer wishes and specifies so at the time of order.

However three programs remain:

  • Google Tools – for correcting misspelled URL’s
  • PDF Reader – To read documentation delivered in this format
  • Anti Virus Software (trial versions) – “Because customers expect their computers to be protected at first boot”

To me only the Acrobat Reader makes sense, as not being able to read the documentation is not very helpful. Although one could offer the documentation either in MS Help format or in HTML, both being universally accessible with the plain operating system. Although HTML could be debatable, once IE is stripped. but in most cases some kind of browser would be installed.

The utility of Google Tools just for mis typed URL’s strikes me as odd. I don’t like this kind of technology, because it tries to guess what I want and the guesses are more often than not correct.

Last, but not least, trial version of Anti Virus Software, because customers expect it to be installed? You must be kidding me! Doesn’t the current versions of MS already include such protective software? So why need another trial version installed? I don’t like and use any of these resource killers. But this argument does not hold water for me.

So I guess Dell simply has long running contracts with these vendors and it can’t easily bail out of them. With Dell’s responses to its customers wishes, I’m hopeful, sooner or later these things will be gone as well.

It will be interesting to see how this will change the landscape. Removing such programs from PC’s will certainly be not too good for Dell’s bottom line in the short run, as the vendors of these pay a hardware manufacturer to install them. It also should have impact on the companies that use these methods to market their products. One option we might see, is that Microsoft, the still predominant player in this market either needs to lower its prices to make up for the lost revenue or it will integrate these into the OS upfront and make up for its shrinking share of business. However, Microsoft is expanding the OS functionality into anything that has successfully be developed by others. MS included web-browser, anti virus, firewall, multi media player, video creation, and much more and bundled it as part of the OS. We all know what followed.

I’m still waiting for OpenOffice.org as optional install.

June

08

by Kaj Kandler

I just read that Full circle a new Ubuntu magazine is out with its first issue.

The first issue contains:

  • Install Ubuntu Feisty Fawn, step by step
  • Howtos:
    • Linux Directory Structure
    • MythTV Intro
    • Scribus (desktop publishing) Part I
    • Add/Remove Software
  • Review: GRAMPS geneaology software
  • Interview: Deluge BitTorrent Client developer
  • Standard Categories:
    • News
    • “Top 5”
    • Letters
    • Desktops
    • and much more

This magazine is 42 pages long, delivered only online as a PDF and meant to be printed. The layout should make a solid printed magazine, if you have that much color ink to spare. I guess if you mix it in to the stacks at a doctor’s waiting room, not many would notice its an online magazine. However that is also its downside. I find it hard to read online, because the pages are laid out two at a time and that makes either the font illegible on my old 19″ monitor or it does require a lot of dragging left to right (as opposed to scrolling with the wheel). I’d love if they could format a version for linear reading formats.

What peeked my curiosity is the tools it is produced with, Scribus, OpenOffice.org and Gimp. I’d like to hear more about how it is produced and what the role of each application is. Well that topic might come up in the next parts about Scribus. I look forward to it.

June

04

by Kaj Kandler

As an increasing number of companies and institutions migrate to Linux and OpenOffice.org, interoperability becomes more and more important. The world is still geared towards Microsoft’s document formats and that poses barriers to migration, one of which is fonts and their influence on how documents print and break into pages.

The leading Linux distributions in the enterprise space, Red Hat and SuSE delivered some new fonts that are metrically identical to the widely used Microsoft fonts. What does this mean for you? You can receive an MS Office document and use the equivalent font and print it w/o fear of it breaking into a different number of pages. It also means you do not need to update the table of content because of re-pagination. Off course the same is true in the opposite direction ODF –> MS Office document.

Use Plan-B for OpenOffice.org to learn more about how to configure Writer for optimal MS document compatibility.