A memo on Open Source

2010/06/10 03:34:13
Print Friendly

In light of the arrival of the iPhone 4, I’ve been confronted with an age-old question:  what is the current state of open source?

Apple is ruling the future of the phone market with iPhone.  Android is the up-and-coming competitor.  Google is betting on their Linux phone, and betting hard.  Google’s goal is to make money with their ads.  I figured it would work, until I saw that Apple had iAds, something far more media-rich than Google Ads.

Apple is creating the tablet market with the iPad.  Some manufacturers have been working on Android tablets, but they will be late to the game.

Apple is moving into the mobile gaming market with the iPhone/iPod/iPad.  Android hasn’t really started to achieve the level of choice available in the Apple App Store.

Microsoft is continuing to hold onto its desktop OS market.  OS X is making inroads into this market because of Microsoft’s failure to get wide adoption of Windows Vista.  It remains to be seen if Windows 7 can recoup those losses.  Desktop Linux failed on many fronts for many reasons.  OS X and Windows have something Linux lacked, a consistent interface for applications.  Ubuntu is the most promising Desktop Linux available for the average user, but it can’t overcome the inconsistency across the UIs of the thousands of applications it supports.

Microsoft is continuing the hold onto its business server market.  This is the market of file sharing and directory services.  Neither Apple nor the Open Source world have been able to offer an alternative in these areas that has the level of adoption as Windows Servers.

Linux seems to be best suited for appliances, like wireless routers, but it remains to be seen how many hardware manufacturers see it as beneficial to continue to use Linux rather than implementing their own OS and utilities.

Linux seems to be the platform of choice for hosting application servers, like JBoss.  Unfortunately for Linux, most (all?) of these application servers can also be easily run on Windows or OS X.

Linux seems to be the platform of choice for web servers.  This is largely because Linux is inexpensive and IIS is not as feature-rich as Apache.  Apache can be easily run on Windows or OS X.

So, where does Open Source fit into this new world order?

There are several options for the Open Source developer (not in any particular order):

  1. Write applications in Java, Scala, or some other language that is platform independent, in hopes that it will be available on the largest number of platforms.  This will not help you on iOS, where you are stuck with Apple’s API and Apple’s implementation of Objective-C.
  2. Continue to develop applications for the LAMP platform.  As most of the these apps only need the AMP without the Linux, get used to the idea that folks might run it on Windows or OS X.
  3. Write some libraries that can be incorporated into iOS apps.  This may violate Apple’s terms of use, so be careful.
  4. Continue to write desktop applications that only run on Linux.
  5. Android.  Google is actually achieving some consistency for apps on its Linux platform, but not to the degree that Apple’s draconian tactics have achieved.
  6. Make something NEW.  Actually innovate in a way that forces the Apples and the Microsofts of the world to fear, and, eventually copy, the idea/concept/software.  This is an area where open source once shined.

Optimizing Netbook Windows XP Performance

2009/03/19 15:39:00
Print Friendly

Recently my fiancee gave me an HP mini 1030NR netbook for my birthday. Though its a great portable personal device, it does not really have the performance I’ve come to enjoy from my other computers. This is really not the netbook’s fault as its focus is portability, not performance.

So, I set about the task of optimizing the performance of the netbook.

The netbook really doesn’t come with much software, so this article deals with Windows XP. The items discussed here are in addition to the normal maintenace one would do for Windows (e.g. defragmenting your hard drive). This article also doesn’t cover the concepts of “disabling unneeded services” or “disabling unneeded startup items”, as those differ from user to user.

For normal Windows XP maintenace, check out Microsoft’s web site at

Removing the screen fluff

Go into Control Panel -> System
Click on the Advanced Tab
In the Performance Area, click the “Settings” Button
Click on the “Visual Affects” Tab
Choose the “Adjust for best performance” radio buton

In addition to other things, this will alter the display of your desktop to something analogous to the windows widgets used in Windows 2000 and prior, which doesn’t look as sleek, but that sleekness requires additional processing power and memory that you may not have in reserve.

Make your desktop background any single color you want

Photos (in JPG or JPEG format) in the background require more memory in order to display them. Go with a simple single color. It’s easier on Windows.

Fix the filesystem so that its not performing unnecessary tasks

For backwards compatibility with DOS, Windows XP creates an additional entry in the file listing in the MS-DOS “8.3” format. This heralds back to the days when filenames could only consist of 8 characters with a 3 character extension. The last time this was really used was Windows 98. My netbook really doesn’t need to maintain this, so I opened up a command prompt and typed the following:

fsutil behavior set disable8dot3 1

Then rebooted to reload the NTFS driver without this setting.

Thanks O’Reilly:

Indexing: Save yourself time now or later

Windows XP can index your files so that searches take less time. I’m using my netbook with Google Apps, so some my files are in the cloud. I also store what files I have locally in folders under My Documents. I don’t anticipate needing to search the hard drive, so I turn the Indexing service off.

Go to Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Services and double click the Indexing Service. If it is running, stop it. If its Startup Type is set to Enabled or Manual, change it to Disabled so that applications will not launch it on you.

Other improvements to Windows XP

As noted before, removing uncessary startup programs and services will improve your performance more than these simple steps, but with the above you should experience a noticeable improvement in your netbook desktop experience.

Windows Live Tells Firefox Users to "Optimize their browser"

2009/01/14 22:17:00
Print Friendly

I have a Hotmail account that I use for sending test emails. I also use it as a SPAM trap, preferring to use it when someone I don’t care about absolutely has to have an email address.

Every once in a while I access it to clean it out or run some tests. I’ve got one with Yahoo also.

Hotmail crashes my Firefox browser. Whenever I try to view my Hotmail Inbox, Firefox locks up as if it were greatly offended that I visited the site.

I figured I wasn’t alone, and, in fact, I’m not alone. A quick search on Google revealed that changes to Hotmail caused just that.

The response to Cathycook on Windows Live:
“Cathycook, the new update of Windows Live Hotmail should work perfectly on the latest version of Firefox. I suggest that you optimize your browser first. Check your browser documentation to see how it’s done.”

I’m so glad that Jeffry D from Windows Live took it upon himself to examine the actual problem and tell us that we just need to “optimize” our browser. Good job Jeffry D. Way to direct us to a solution there.


Lil’ Bit: Solving NTFS Home Directory Permissions Problems on Ubuntu

2008/11/12 18:16:00
Print Friendly

So, as noted in earlier posts, I decided the best way to share files between my Ubuntu 8.10 and Windows XP installations on my laptop was to use an NTFS partition for my home directory/My Documents.

Unfortunately, applications like wine issue serious warning messages or refuse to function all together.

Being lazy, I ignored this until I needed one of these applications.

At current, I’m attempting to mount the partitions with specified permissions and ownership.

UUID=4F975E2D139676A9 /media/HOME     ntfs    defaults,umask=077,uid=1000,gid=1000 0       1

The important entries are:

  • umask=077-This entry sets the permissions on all NTFS-mounted files and folders such that only the owner has access. This satisfies many applications, such as ssh, that require that files are only accessible to their owner.
  • uid=1000-This entry sets the ownership on all NTFS-mounted files and folders such that the owner is me. This solution is only useful because I’m the only one using this machine.
  • gid=1000-This entry sets the group for all NTFS-mounted files and folders such that the group is my primary group. This solution is only useful because I’m the only one using this machine.

This allows wine to work and gets rid of messages from gdm. I’m not sure what other applications may object to these permissions being set as such on the home directory. If I want to run anything on files in the home directory that relies on a user other than me (such as a web server), it won’t work.