Category Archives: Blog

Ubuntu’s Endgame, Adding Insult to Injury

It’s time for all the fans that rallied behind the idea of Dell providing Ubuntu, or any other Linux distribution, to follow through and purchase a system

Scratch that, they have all disappeared!

Some choice quotes from the same exact fanbase-type “users” that posted to Dell’s IdeaStorm:

“I don’t know how I feel about the “for advanced users and tech enthusiasts” bit. Seems like it undermines my stance on what Linux is about. Dell will not be getting my business until they change.”

“Ubuntu is great, but until it can play all Windows games at near the same performance, I don’t believe it will ever be “better” for my uses.”

“I would definitely pay $50 for a Windows license and a better video card in the Dimension, even more!”

“I’m disappointed that they only offer shitty models and options.”

“I’ve NEVER liked or bought any DELL products, and NEVER will. Why would I want to save 40 bucks on something I would never buy…”

“I love Linux, Ubuntu, and the open-source/GPL movement, but I like to put my systems together personally.”

“If Ubuntu was anything BUT a technical nightmare to configure, what would be the reason to buy one of these? Yes, it installs really easily. Getting it to WORK is next to impossible.”

“You get a computer with an OS you can ***download for free*** pre-installed. Wow!”

“I’m not really interested in buying a PC with an OS, as much as buying a PC with no OS installed.”

How the tides have turned! Not that I, or anyone else, should be surprised. This was to be expected. After all, our fanboys are our biggest hindrance… They talk the talk, but never walk the walk.

Something to consider: once you price the exact same XPS 410 [Vista Home Premium] and 410n [Ubuntu] system, take into account that Dell is offering free shipping on the Vista system, while the Ubuntu system will cost $30 to ship — you are saving only $10!

[I've taken the comments from digg and slashdot, and have slightly edited them for better readability]

Ubuntu’s Death Rattle

Having just posted my thoughts on the Dell/Linux sham, it hit me… This must be the sound of Ubuntu’s death rattle.

Having failed to turn a profit year after year, Canonical/Ubuntu has put all of its remaining energy into this deal: from the website re-design with the focus on Dell, to the recent video/talk marketing efforts made by Mr. Shuttleworth.

I _would_ say that all the eggs have been placed into the same basket, but if you look at the past, you quickly realize the rest of the eggs have already been broken and this is a last effort attempt to save a sinking ship.

Since the beginning, Canonical/Ubuntu has been burning millions per year, without seeing any returns — even with a userbase of 2-6 million, and a deployment on 4-16 million systems. And this Dell move is supposed to turn things around?…

Do the numbers:

Dell’s expected sales are at 20,000 systems per year. Who and how many are going to shell out $65 for 30-days worth of support? Zero. Maybe, at best, less than 1%. Same logic applies to the more expensive, yearly, support contracts.

This Dell deal is a joke that’s going sell a handful of systems and net Canonical a few more contracts, relatively worth pennies. Pushing Linux on the average Joe [who is just going to ship the system back] will also backfire. I mean, who else is going to buy these systems? The fanboys that started this mess in the first place? Don’t make me laugh!

And for Ubuntu, after Dell, where is there to go from here but down?

It almost sounds as if this deal was set up to fail from the beginning. If Microsoft is behind this move, they have done a good job of pulling the strings. It’s a sad day today.

Dell’s Linux Offer, still too early to tell

When Dell first announced that Linux was going to be offered as a choice on their home systems, many Linux fans rejoiced on the news. GNU/Linux was finally going to make headway in the desktop market, with Dell being the catalyst to displace the Microsoft Windows monopoly. And while everyone was quite happy about this event, I took an alternative view to the situation…

Some of you might have read my negative view-point on Dell’s Linux offer: that it will never work, or worse off, that it might be a set up move by Microsoft to further tarnish Linux. I made my statement, and have been patiently waiting to see the actual Dell offer before saying anything more.

Dell Offers Three Consumer Systems With Ubuntu 7.04

It’s finally here. Later today, Dell will offer U.S customers three different systems with Ubuntu 7.04 installed: the XPS 410n and Dimension E520n desktops and the Inspiron E1505n notebook. These systems will be available at www.dell.com/open by 4pm CST today. Starting price for the E520n desktop and the E1505n notebook is $599; the XPS 410n starts at $849.

Hardware support will come from Dell. Beyond that, users can turn to the Linux section of the Dell Community Forum. Users also have fee-based options for operating system support through Canonical, including 30-day Get Started, One-year Basic and One-year Standard.

I’ve prices two same systems…
XPS 410: Windows Vista Home — $889
XPS 410 N: Ubuntu Linux, no support from Dell or Canonical — $849

The support for the Linux system only comes from Dell’s Community Forums and can be purchased from Canonical at…

  • 30 days Starter Support: $65
  • 1 year of Basic Support: $125
  • 1 year of Std Support: $275

This offer is targeted “for advanced users and tech enthusiasts” and “we expect these systems to be less than 1 percent of our OS mix for the entire year which is ~20,000 systems annually.”

All in all, I am still a bit disappointed. Yes, you do [at this time, with no offers] get a system for a few dollars less than one with Vista, but what’s going to happen when the average Joe gets in on this great deal and finds out he can’t install iTunes, MS Office, nor his games, and nothing works as it should? Answer: Curse Linux and send the system back! And when Dell figures out that this model is either not profitable, or too small volume, what’s going to happen then? Answer: Blame Linux!

phpBB is dead… long live phpBB!?

Whoever created this headline got it exactly right.

phpBB is dead… long live phpBB!

In an not entirely unexpected email to the team, James “theFinn” Atkinson has, after a number of years inactivity even “behind the scenes” due to personal circumstance, has formally resigned as of the 30th of April, 2007.

The now newly independent phpBB still has the same active contributors and will continue to support the stable phpBB 2.0.x and develop the next-generation phpBB 3.0.x, with James having already allowed the transfer of the www.phpBB.com domain for a majority share of the financial assets that have been generated by the project via advertising to date, so as to minimize disruption to phpBB’s users.

A lot can be read between these lines…

For one, large sums of money are involved here. phpbb.com is a PR10/9 site and handles some serious traffic. And as the saying goes: more money, more problems.

Another is the restructuring of the ‘organization’… While new blood is always welcome, you do not want to lose the part of the team that has learned from making all the mistakes. Not unless you want to repeat your failures.

WordPress Blog Update

Having some free time on my hands, I have taken the liberty of upgrading our WordPress version from 2.0 to v2.1.

It was a rather simple procedure — since our blog is very standard [non-modified]…

  • Backup wp db, as a precaution.
  • Backup wp dir, as a precaution.
  • Unpack new wp version dir.
  • Copy over files wp-config.php and .htaccess
  • Run upgrade.php

With other setups, you would also want to copy over dir wordpress/wp-content, as it can contain themes, plugins, and images linked to from blog posts.

The major changes with our new setup are…

  • The use of the default WP theme, as it’s a bit cleaner.
  • The use of the Akismet spam plugin, hence allowing all visitors to post comments.
  • The use of the wp-cache plugin for faster load times.
  • The use of the Social Bookmarks plugin to allow interested readers to bookmark/submit an article to the various social sites.
  • The use of the Category Tagging plugin. [It's the only one in its category that I could get to work]
  • The use of the Add-Meta-Tags plugin to improve Blog SEO.

The installation of the wp-cache plugin required permissions and ownership change for the wordpresswp-content dir…

  • ‘chown root:apache wp-content’ to give ownership to the Web-Server
  • ‘chmod 775 wp-content’ to give write permissions to the Web-Server

The Category Tagging plugin was a bit harder to setup, as it required the manual editing of a theme template and css file.

The other plugins installed automatic.

Previous posts: upgrading WordPress.

The Architecture of Mailinator

Mailinator is a free web-based service that allows anyone to use a throw-away email address.

There are no steps, or setup, involved in the process. Email addresses are not created, nor password protected. Simply make one up and use it.

Mailinator will accept all incoming emails [excluding what the filters will not allow], and upon request, cross-reference that to the entered email address.

In a way, with Mailinator, you can say that the “password” is the email address.

Server-side, emails never hit the DISK and are simply stored in RAM. After the allocated email buffer is filled, as new mail comes in, the old is pushed out — and hence deleted forever. The effect is that emails live for several hours, and a single box with 1GB RAM can handle 4.5 million emails per day while having an idle disk.

A really simple and great idea… Very easy to use, and serves an actual purpose that everyone needs. How many other web-based Services can you say the same about? I can’t think of any at the moment.

I use it all the time, though internet sites _are_ starting to catch up with Mailinator by banning the domain. Other similar services exist, even those that change domains every so often such as 2Prong.

I have to ask myself: what if Mailinator parsed each email body for keywords, and generated relevant ads to be displayed to the user… That free service could potentially generate $10k+ per month.

The Architecture of Mailinator

Web-Developer Server Suite v1.95 Released

Web-Developer Server Suite at SourceForge.NET

Version Updates…
Apache 2.2.4 over 2.2.3
PHP 5.2.1 over 5.2.0
MySQL 5.0.37 over 5.0.27
OpenSSL 0.9.8e over 0.9.8d

mod_security 2.1.0 over 2.0.4 [with core ruleset]
mod_perl 2.0.3 over 2.0.2

phpMyAdmin 2.10.0.2 over 2.9.2

Drupal 5.1.0 over 5.0
MediaWiki 1.9.3 over 1.9.0
WordPress 2.1.2 over 2.0.7

Added…
mod_fastcgi v2.4.2 [SNAP-0404142202, 14-Apr-2004]

Removed…
Tomcat/mod_jk, PHP4, mod_aspdotnet have been removed. Will be packaged as component addons from separate downloads.

“Is Linux on Dell a Pipe Dream?” Article

Is Linux on Dell a Pipe Dream?

I have put another article on the site that discusses the real cost of delivering Desktop Linux to the average Dell home-user.

All about crapware profits, the Microsoft Tax, Support Issues, and Dell’s IdeaStorm.

If you enjoyed the “Is Ubuntu Linux Slowly Dying?” article, you are really going to hate this one [of course that would depend on your definition of "enjoyed"].