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* Posts by Richard Lloyd

275 posts • joined 25 Nov 2006

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BOFH: The Great Backup BACKDOWN

Richard Lloyd

Re: Stupid request for advice

For a home user, a USB 3 external drive isn't a bad idea, along with your appropriate backup software of choice (on Linux, something like rsync isn't too bad, but you might want to rotate its destination dir to keep more than one backup on the external drive). I have an IcyBox USB 3 enclosure with a relatively cheap and fast Seagate 3TB HDD stuffed inside - seems to do the job OK and I get 100+ MB/sec write speed, which you really want if it's media you're backiing up.

You probably want something that will regularly nag you to backup (or can be hooked into your shutdown sequence) - remember that most of the time, the USB drive will be turned off, so you need something at least to prompt you to turn it on!

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The END of the FONDLESLAB KINGS? Apple and Samsung have reason to FEAR

Richard Lloyd

It's the price, surely?

The reason Apple and Samsung are losing market share is surely the price of their gadgets? Apple have a massive (and unjustified) mark-up on all their hardware and Samsung have either under-spec'ed and/or overpriced pretty well all their Android tablets in their history.

Samsung have finally produced a tablet to match/beat the iPad Air - the recently launched Galaxy Tab S - and what do they go and do? Set the RRP *higher* than the iPad Air! All they had to do was price it at 10 quid less and it would probably fly off the shelves (no sale to me until CyanogenMod works on it, because you really don't want Samsung bloatware).

It also doesn't help that Samsung have released far too many phones/phablets/tablets in recent years (something HTC was hugely guilty of several years back with their phone range) - there's a bewildering number of Samsung models out there and it can be quite confusing to differentiate between them.

Update: Looks like Expansys have the Tab S 10.5" in at 324.99 pounds (as a "pre-order" despite it already having been launched - I think they mean it's out of stock and they'll get more stock at some point). At this price point, it's surely *the* tablet to buy right now?

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Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade

Richard Lloyd

Confusing wording indeed

Twice in this article, the wording seems to imply that there's been an update to Firefox 31 (e.g. to, say, 31.0.1 or something): "a bug-and-security update to Firefox 31" and "users are advised to update to the latest version of Firefox 31 and Thunderbird 31".

As another poster pointed out, the update is actually from Firefox 30.0 to 31.0 and from Thunderbird 24.6.0 to 31.0 (yes, I know, 7 major version jumps in one go - Mozilla like to sync the Firefox/Thunderbird versions occasionally, which is a bit perplexing).

On Windows, the Mozilla Maintenance Service should take care of this (assuming you didn't disable it) and on Linux, the usual updating commands (apt-get upgrade, yum update etc.) will bring in the new release when it's ready.

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Attack of the clones: Oracle's latest Red Hat Linux lookalike arrives

Richard Lloyd

No mention of CentOS?

I'm surprised that an entire El Reg article about Oracle Linux 7 failed to mention CentOS 7 at all. The major CentOS 7 devs are now employed by Red Hat and I suspect CentOS 7 is actually more compatible with RHEL 7 than Oracle Linux 7 is (e.g. don't Oracle tweak the kernel somewhat?).

I can just about see the argument for large database shops who already pay millions for their overpriced Oracle licenses to go with Oracle Linux, but I'm not sure about anyone else going for it. I suspect large businesses not running Oracle would prefer the "original" Red Hat support and smaller businesses would opt for CentOS since it's the most compatible RHEL clone out there (and to be honest, support usually isn't worth paying for, especially when both CentOS and RHEL bug trackers can be used for free).

12
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WORLD CUP TRAUMA? Just Streaming Stick a Roku in it

Richard Lloyd

Re: Me too

Technically, the NowTV box hasn't been hacked (though one guy out there managed to get a root shell apparently) - you can't replace its firmware for example (e.g. with the Roku LT's firmware). What you can do is sideload one app in developer mode, the obvious ones being either Plex or Mediabrower3 to get the painfully missing DLNA support that actually makes the NowTV box useful.

I've ordered a NowTV to play with, but have prepared my router to block the IP 72.3.235.78 (aka windsor.sw.roku.com) to stop any firmware updates. Word out on the net is that the latest firmware has a lot of bugs and causes stuttering, random returns to main menu etc. plus also forces some of the Sky-brand channels to the top of the channel list and they can't be moved/removed.

What I don't like about NowTV is their insistence on a credit/debit card even if you're never going to buy anything from their service. It appears that reboots and firmware updates check you have a validated payment card and will whinge if you don't, which is quite nasty.

0
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Android to drop Dalvik VM for high-performance ART in next version

Richard Lloyd

Some apps run into trouble with ART

For those who didn't know, you become a "developer" in KitKat by going to Settings -> About phone/tablet -> Build number and tapping the build number 7 times. Now going into the new Developer Options item in Settgings and tape on Select Runtime, choose ART and then reboot your device.

I found some apps misbehaving when running in ART mode, so I went back to Dalvik - whether the devs or Google are actively fixing such apps, I have no idea but there could be some grief if ART becomes the default if they aren't. I also didn't really notice a huge performance gain in ART mode - it's also a *lot* slower to "optimise" your apps after a ROM update.

2
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Huawei Ascend P7: We review the PANORAMIC SELFIE smartphone

Richard Lloyd

Just be wary about lack of updates

After the farcical "we will update it honest guv (months later...) er, no we won't" with their first foray in the range - the P1 - don't be surprised that as soon as the successor to this model comes out, you won't see updates for the P7 any more.

Sorry, but if you're actually going about-turn (I was almost going to say "lie", but let's give them the benefit of the doubt) about updates to end-users, then you've burned a lot of goodwill, Huawei, and it makes your later models a really hard sell.

As ever, my advice for *any* Android device is either buy the Nexus/Silver/Google Play Edition or at the very least make sure you can get CyanogenMod on it. Any other route will result in update delays ranging from months to, er, never.

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Container-friendly Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 hits general availability

Richard Lloyd

3 changes not mentioned...

I'm a bit surprised this article didn't mention 3 changes in RHEL 7 that will affect sysadmins used to RHEL 6:

1. Grub 2 instead of Grub 1. To me, the newer Grub seems to add a layer of arguably unnecessary complexity to creating a boot menu. Gone are the days of simply editing /etc/grub.conf by hand now :-(

2. GNOME 3 instead of GNOME 2. Yes, I know, you probably don't run RHEL/CentOS on your desktops, but I do at home and work and this is a *big* shift in the UI department. Using MATE is probably the best way to smooth the upgrade path here.

3. systemd instead of System V init scripts. Another "trickier" system that replaces a venerable setup and I can see the benefit (parallel service startup), even if again the complexity is increased significantly beyond the average sysadmin's comfort level.

Like another poster, I'm now in countdown for the CentOS 7 release which this RHEL 7 has prompted some new postings at the site to watch for this: http://seven.centos.org/

2
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Chap rebuilds BBC Micro in JavaScript

Richard Lloyd

Can recommend the Android Beeb emulator...

If you're on the Android platform, I'd recommend grabbing Beebdroid from the Play Store. It's not just the emulator that's impressive, but also the easy way you have access to almost all the classic BBC Micro games (not just Elite/Welcome), though I'm not sure about the legality of that...

1
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Archos ArcBook: An Android netbook for a measly hundred-and-seventy clams

Richard Lloyd

Idea's good, specs are awful

I do wish the netbook format with a relatively "normal" OS would return - the Chromebooks are all we've had for several years, but Chrome OS is quite restrictive (though getting better - Google finally realised people *do* have to use them offline occasionally!) and hard to install Linux on.

How easy is it to dual boot this Archos with a Linux distro (or even wipe Android altogether)? Mind you, even though this is very cheap, the specs are so bad (1024x600 10.1" display, WTF?!) that I wouldn't even touch this at half the price. We need the specs of the latest Chromebooks, but with Linux (and maybe Windows dual booting if you really must).

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'25,000 Windows Server 2003 boxes' must be upgraded A DAY to meet OS support death date

Richard Lloyd

Why doesn't MS stop selling the OS half-way through and also stop releasing software for it too?

If OS support is going to span 2 or more lifetimes of equipment (e.g. 10 years or more), then half-way through, Microsoft should:

1. Release a successor OS (they usually do this no more than 5 years apart).

2. Stop allowing the older OS to be sold either pre-installed or as a post-sale install.

3. Stop producing new versions of software (SQL Server, Exchange, Office related stuff etc.) for the older OS.

That way, users/orgs will naturally gravitate to the successor OS in the second half of the lifespan of the older OS, so that when the deadline looms, you won't get stupid numbers of people still on the older OS like we've seen with XP and now with Server 2003. Of course, this idea is actually far too sensible for Microsoft to actually consider. :-(

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Top tip, power users – upgrading Ubuntu may knacker your Linux PC

Richard Lloyd

Use the VM, Luke

The best thing to do with any new Linux release is to run it in a VM first (e.g. VirtualBox) and have a good play with it to make sure it behaves itself. Then you should wait a month or so for updates to fix the initial release problems (because the wider audience will discover stuff not found in testing) and if you're still worried, set up a dual boot between the old and new Linux versions so you have an easy way to go back if something insurmountable still crops up.

Sadly, I'm finding neither Fedora nor Ubuntu particularly attractive at the moment, so I have now-unused VMs with them in and stick with my trusty CentOS 6.5 as the bare metal OS (along with a dual boot to Windows for games of course).

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1

New Reg mobile site - feedback here!

Richard Lloyd

At least it doesn't show the mobile version for tablets

Well done for actually detecting phones only (and not tablets) for redirection to m.theregister.co.uk - it's one of the few sites I seen actually get this right. Having said that, I never Web browse on a phone (way too small) and use Firefox with the Phony extension on tablets to fake a desktop browser, but still at least you've got one thing right :-)

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Not sure if you're STILL running Windows XP? AmIRunningXP.com to the rescue!

Richard Lloyd

User Agent Switcher in Firefox easier than installing a VM :-)

I installed the User Agent Switcher extension in Firefox and set it to "Internet Explorer 6 (Windows XP)" and managed to get the "You ARE running Windows XP" on a CentOS 6 desktop running Firefox :-)

Of course, being a Microsoft site, there was no way in hell they were going to tell you that there were any other routes away from XP other than installing, er, Windows 8.1?!

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Official: British music punter still loves plastic

Richard Lloyd

CDs usually better value for money

I've found that CDs are often cheaper than equivalent MP3 downloads, but it should be noted that some online stores (iTunes, I'm looking at you) including "exclusive bonus tracks", which effectively make the CD less desirable.

What MP3 downloads did kill was the CD single - this used to be a great medium: 4 different tracks for 99p/1.99 pounds or 8 remixes for a similar price. Of course, this was far too much like value for money and the music industry destroyed CD singles by halving the max tracks allowed and often doubling the price.

The CD vs. MP3 situation isn't that much different from the e-books vs. hardbacks - you can often find the hardback the same or cheaper price than an e-book, which is scandalous overpricing for the electronic version (whilst usually including onerous DRM to cheese you off even futher).

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For Windows guest - KVM or XEN and which distro for host?

Richard Lloyd

I multi-boot *and* use VMs :-)

I've tended to always multi-boot (mainly between Linux and WIndows) and then use VMs (in Linux using VirtualBox) to try out new OS releases. My primary desktop is CentOS 6.5 and I boot into WIndows purely to play games, which is currently the only advantage Windows has compared to Linux really (though SteamOS/Steam boxes might make inroads into this).

Some obvious hardware tips: max out your motherboard RAM (usually 32GB is the limit), get a fast CPU (i7 or equiv) with at least 4 cores, get one or more large/fast SSDs (as well as fast 3TB or 4TB hard drives - I like Seagate's 3TB model myself) and one or more large monitors (I just went to 27" 2560x1440 for my main monitor).

Although you have to register for it, I can recommend the free Paragon Extfs for Windows at:

http://www.paragon-software.com/home/extfs-windows/

It's just about the only free software on Windows I've found that will handle ext2, ext3 and ext4 - very handy if you use any of those fs'es on Linux.

The next "exciting" OS release for me will be CentOS 7, although I've some trepidation about this because I don't really consider systemd, GRUB 2 or GNOME 3 as improvements compared to their predecessors.

1
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Android users running old OS versions? Not anymore, say latest stats

Richard Lloyd

98.2% of Android devices run old OS versions

The latest Android release is KitKat (4.4.X) and only 1.8% of devices run that, leaving 98.2% running "old OS versions". Hence a major WTF for the article title including the phrase "Not anymore".

Countering that, Google have managed to push updates to older OS'es without a version change, either by splitting previously core code into a Play store app (e.g. Google Keyboard) or by silently updating Google Play Services.

It's probably the only ways to work around the huge disincentive barriers there are for carriers to upgrade Android on their models (1. It costs them time and money to put their unwanted bloatware on top and have it go through certification and 2. They want to sell you new Android device every year, so if they upgrade old ones, people may keep the old device for another year or two, the horror of it).

My attitude to all of this is simple - only buy Nexus devices or devices that you can install a custom ROM (e.g. CyanogenMod) on - that way, you'll be quickly onto the latest release without having to wait many months or not see an upgrade at all (I'm looking at you Huawei, with your Ascend P1).

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A BBC-by-subscription 'would be richer', MPs told

Richard Lloyd

Freeview (HD) was last chance to intro subs

I was always surprised that smart card-capable hardware wasn't a pre-requisite for Freeview SD (and later on Freeview HD) set-top boxes. It was the last time that the concept of a subscription BBC could have been put in place.

Assuming that the BBC is still going to be delivered via terrestrial aerials, then surely every TV and set-top box in the country is going to have to be replaced with a smart card version? This probably means around 10-odd years before subscriptions could be introduced.

As far as I'm concerned, the current BBC output is mostly dire, having copycatted much of ITV's dross output in recent years. What I'd be *far* more interested in is a sub to the massive BBC archive that their employees have access to - now that is something worth subscribing to since much of it isn't available elsewhere (legally or not).

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We see ya, Ouya, you tasty Android games console gear

Richard Lloyd

Lack of the Google Play Store makes it basically useless

I really cannot understand anyone releasing an Android games console that doesn't use the Google Play Store (and preferably a compatible controller too). Such a console has to not only create its own game store and try to woo the big names to appear on it, but it also misses out two obvious Google Play Store plusses:

1. If you bought a game on the Google Play Store for another device, you'd be able to play it without another purchase on a Play Store-compatible games console.

2. You can use Google Play Store gift cards to credit your account and avoid having to tie a credit/debit card to your account. This is a major advantage that is overlooked by a lot of reviewers of the Ouya.

This is exactly why, no matter how cheap the Ouya gets, I won't buy it. *Any* Android device without the Play Store is massively unattractive in my books.

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Red Hat teams up with community-based RHEL lookalike CentOS

Richard Lloyd

RHEL (final release) isn't free

The current RHEL 7 beta is indeed a free ISO you can download and install but, like the final release (which requires a sub from day one), you can't do installs/updates to it without a subscription. I can't say I'm keen on the fact that RHEL subscriptions can't be split into updates vs. support (Oracle did the same "all or nothing" trick with its DB software many years ago), because firms with in-house tech support don't really need RHEL support (posting to the RHEL Bugzilla is free, even without a sub).

As for this "collaboration", it seems a bit like providing a scheme like Fedora Spins for CentOS with a bit of assistance from some RHEL folks. It could be interesting, particularly if it makes the horrible installation experience with OpenStack a lot better.

BTW, am I the only one who still can't work out why there are free clones of free clones like Scientific Linux out there? I keep thinking that the free clones should all merge into one free clone to rule them all, but maybe that's just too sensible and obvious.

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Ten classic electronic calculators from the 1970s and 1980s

Richard Lloyd

Odd Commodore choice

Considering it's placed inbetween two programmable calculators in El Reg's list, picking the non-programmable 1976 F4146R instead of the far superior programmable 1977 PR-100 is a mystery to me. I had a PR-100 and it was a great calculator for its time (even the manual had some nifty programs you could type in, including one for showing which date Easter Day fell on, which until then I had no idea was based on an algorithm!).

The PR-100 may even be the last programmable calculator that Commodore made, if this page is to believed:

http://www.vintage-technology.info/pages/calculators/commodore/calccommodore.htm

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HTC: Shipping Android updates is harder than you think – here's why

Richard Lloyd

Less phone models and less customisation is the answer

A few years back, HTC were horrendously guilty of releasing new phone models every few weeks - they'd be slight variations on existing models and probably caused extreme customer confusion about which model to buy. It lead to an HTC culture of not providing many (if any) updates for a lot of their Android models, on the assumption that everyone would be getting a new HTC model once a year and nothing needed updating beyond that.

Eventually, HTC saw some sense and reduced the number of new models (I'd still argue there's too many!), but the "everyone updates annually" mentality is still there. It does surprise me that Google don't lay down some rules about this for everyone in the OHA:

* Minimum hardware specs. Nothing causes defections away from Android quicker than a lousy experience due to poor hardware. This issue is thankfully gradually fixing itself (e.g. Moto G for 100 quid at Tesco) - it would have been handier in the early Android years.

* Maximum elapsed period after Nexus devices get Android update for non-Nexus devices to update. If the manufacturer fails to provide a timely update, have a rolling points system where they can be thrown out of OHA if they exceed a certain total.

* Minimum update support period - Google has 2 years for Nexus devices, so why not other manufacturers? Again. failure to update for that minimum time would incur more penalty "licence points".

* Some sort of rules about the "bloatware" that manufacturers and carriers needlessly add. For example, nothing should be added that causes update testing to be extended beyond, say, a total of one month (again, with penalty points if this is exceeded). If this means dropping some of the bloat, than that's a good thing.

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Datawind's low cost Aakash tab comes to UK, US

Richard Lloyd

It's actually 40 pounds

It seems like pretty well no IT sites actually bothered to "pretend" to order one of these. The only place you can buy them is the Datawind site - add one to the basket, go to the checkout and there's a 10 quid postage fee. So the tablet is actually 40 pounds, not 30 - I've yet to see a single site mention this.

As for the tablet specs, they're so low that I suspect this will be a very nasty tablet experience (and the 3 hour battery life barely makes it portable!). It reminds me of those early Chinese import tablets that were priced half of anything else but were, again, not a nice experience (latest Chinese tablets now have good specs to match the good price though).

If you really want to buy this, get it as a second tablet as a reserve for your first (better) tablet or maybe as a "who cares if it's lost/broken/stolen" tablet for your kids. If it's your first experience of an Android tablet, it might sour you on Android though. No idea if CyanogenMod is or will be available for this tablet, but you suspect even CM couldn't rescue this woefully underpowered device.

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CyanogenMod Android firmware gains built-in SMS encryption

Richard Lloyd

Isn't CM11 the main nightly platform now?

It seems a bit strange to put this in CM 10.2 nightlies first, when CM 11 nightlies are out for many devices now. In fact, the link to the CyanogenMod download page in the article lists a *ton* of CM 11 nightly downloads and far fewer CM 10.2 nightlies!

Mind you, it would be nice if the CM team put back a lot of the CM 10.2 config options they seem to have dropped in CM 11 first before worrying about SMS encryption. I can't get rid of the pointless Google Search bar from my home screen in CM11, the home screen itself is barely customisible now, plus the separate percentage+icon battery indicator has gone from the status bar (replaced by a horrible tiny percentage encircled, which doesn't show any figure at all when it's at 100%!).

0
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Google slips Chromecast stick into SAUCY new partner: HBO Go

Richard Lloyd

Not in the UK then....

I'm surprised this article didn't state that both HBO Go and the Chromecast itself actually aren't available in the UK. OK, you can pay 38.72 quid on Amazon UK (so much for the "25 quid" that IT sites foolishly branded around earlier this year) for what I suspect is a US import of the Chromecast anyway.

So, c'mon Google, when are we officially getting the Chromecast in the UK? Christmas is coming and you really need to launch it right now. It seems strange that virtually no UK IT sites - El Reg included - have bothered to hassle Google about the non-appearance of the Chromecast in the UK, especially since the actual Chromecast app has been in the UK Google Play store for months now!

1
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Congrats on MP3ing your music... but WHY bother? Time for my ripping yarn

Richard Lloyd

grip on Linux does a nice job

I used grip on Linux myself to rip hundreds of my CDs - the config options are nice on it (e.g. I like my file naming layout (no spaces for easy wildcarding/copying!) to be Artist_Name/Album_Title/01-First_Track_Title.mp3 - I suspect not many ripping progs will be that flexible).

Worst thing is that the online track DB it uses often has wrong spellings, so I have to correct those. But when the track names are right, it's literally feed in, wait a few mins, auto-eject, feed in next one etc.

There's always Amazon with its Autorip - I got 39 CDs downloaded (had to use a Windows client to do them in bulk, WTF!) without having to put a CD anywhere near the PC.

I was hoping that Google Play Music would be a nice place to upload the ripped MP3s (20,000 tracks for free), but it was painful to get a CentOS Google Play Manager client working (had to use an old version) and it really screwed up pretty well all my Greatest Hits CDs by merging multiple GH CDs into one tree (arrgh!) - and yes, all my MP3s are properly tagged and in separate artist/album dirs. It couldn't even separate the excellent "Bedtime Stories" (David Baerwald) album from the not-so-good Madonna equivalent - both ended up in the same online directory :-(

0
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Behind the candelabra: Power cut sends Britain’s boxes back to the '70s

Richard Lloyd

UPS and radio control for the rest :-)

Two possible solutions here - one is to use a UPS (mine has four battery-backed sockets and cost under 70 quid) where possible and try and get radio-controlled devices for the rest (unlikely for an oven/microwave/central heating timer, even though they *should* really be readily available).

Wall clocks are certainly available radio controlled - my analogue one actually moves the hands many rotations to get the time right and it's amusing to watch and also listen to the chuck-chuck-chuck noise as it desperately tries to get the time right :-)

BTW, if your microwave doesn't do timer-based cooking (and very few do, yet it's an obvious feature to have), then a clock on the front is a total waste of electricity (it should go into standby and turn off the display after 2 mins of non-use in that case).

Things I have to change the time on because of daylight savings time twice a year: my central heating timer and my ancient Pansaonic alarm clock (hooked to a UPS). I ignore the clock on an old Toshiba microwave I have since it's pointless. Oh and yes, all my watches are radio-controlled too.

0
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Ten top new games for phones ’n’ slabs

Richard Lloyd

Real Racing 3 - great except for the awful grind (unless you're rich)

I really like Real Racing 3 and the fact they keep adding new content (the odd new circuit and cars - some new Shelby motors just turned up recently).

What I really, really hate is the awful grind they put you through unless you make seriously big in-app purchases. Repairs, new cars, upgrades and time to complete the aforementioned are all charged through the nose and the helmet coins are in particularly short supply. At the rate I progressed, I reckoned it would be *years* before I could actually buy and race all the cars available without spending any money.

In the end, sick of the horrendous grind that was completely destroying my enjoyment of the game, I resorted to, ahem, a method of gaining a large number of R$/coins that I was surprised the programmers hadn't protected against. Once I could buy and upgrade everything, the game became a lot more fun.

I'd have happily paid a few quid for this game to avoid the in-app purchases (i.e. have the cars/repairs etc. cost less R$ and "free instant delivery" instead of paying to deliver now), but the fact you'll have to spend a few hundred quid of real money to complete this made my "workaround" more guilt-free than it really should have been.

1
0

DON'T PANIC: Amazon's Chromecast late-ship email was a blunder

Richard Lloyd

What about UK users?

As often happens, here's another El Reg story that's US-only without making that clear or stating the situation for UK users. It seems at the moment, there's no UK price, no UK pre-ordering and no UK release date.

Even tne dubious delay between the US and UK Nexus 7 2013 (has *any* UK site pressed Google on this to explain the reasons for this?) has been resolved and we now have UK pre-ordering, prices and release date. The Chromecast was released at the same time in the US, so why silence for this product?

3
0

Penguins, I give you: The SOLAR-POWERED Ubuntu laptop

Richard Lloyd

Price is now $350

Price has jumped to $350 and the product isn't actually available to buy yet (so there's a chance the price will jump again). The specs claim 1080p graphics and then have a display res of 1366x768, hmm. Still an Ubuntu laptop that's "submersible" (!) with solar panels for $350 does sound interesting, though it'll be 350 quid if it ever gets sold to UK users of course.

0
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Did Linux drive supers, and can it drive corporate data centers?

Richard Lloyd

Linux market share unknown....

Yet again, another article on the Net that quotes revenue as the market share decider (Linux vs. Windows server). We don't know Linux's market share in servers in actual physical numbers because many server purchases intended to run Linux are made with no OS (besides, have you *seen* Dell's prices for their various RHEL combos - cost several times more than the equivalent Windows server licences!).

A lot of smaller shops that don't need support will buy a no-OS server and put a free OS on it (e.g. CentOS, openSUSE, Ubuntu Server, Debian etc. - there's plenty to choose from). I wouldn't be surprised if there's more no-OS-shipped servers running Linux than there are ones shipped with Linux, but no-one knows exactly.

Even Netcraft's Web survey - which shows Apache miles ahead of IIS, suggesting that Linux is well ahead of Windows - only covers Web servers and the majority of those will be more than a year old, so it's a rolling trend at best.

Conclusion: quoting market share based on revenue is somewhat misleading, because it's likely (though unprovable) that more than half Linux servers were shipped with no OS and therefore aren't reported as Linux in the revenue market share figures.

18
0

Battery-boosting breakthrough grows on trees – literally

Richard Lloyd

Would love to see some battery progress

I've always been surprised at how slow battery tech is progressing compared to the seemingly much faster rate shown by the rest of the electronics industry. To the average punter, Li-Ion and Ni-Mh based batteries have been around for many years now and there's nothing come to the mass market yet to supersede them.

We haven't seen either a large increase in their capacity (for the same size), significantly longer life per charge, quicker charging or reduced prices. This might not too bad if we don't keep hearing about the "next big thing" in battery tech every few months, only for us to wait and wait with nothing ever coming to market even years after announcements.

I suspect most people reading battery tech news must be as jaded on the subject as I am. Better batteries are becoming increasingly important as the desktop PC market dwindles due to users switching to portable devices, so I'm hoping that we do some significant improvements in the next few years.

0
0

Fedora's Schrödinger's Cat Linux gives coders claws for thought

Richard Lloyd
Meh

Boots quickly in VirtualBox...

Just tried it in VirtualBox with the vdi image on an SSD (and two virtual cores on my i7 plus 8GB RAM in the VM) and really does boot extremely quickly (3 seconds from Grub to graphical login).

Anaconda is still pointlessly shouty (lots of headings entirely in capitals for no good reason) and the custom disk partitioning is painful - no obvious option to use all remaining space on device for a partition. I ended up putting in a big size value and let it truncate it down, but that's not great. They're still annoyingly mixing size units (K, MB and GB all on the same screen) too :-(

Still no package size or description is displayed when the packages are being installed and the placement of the ever-changing banner during the package installs (at the bottom of the screen, leaving a lot of space above it) made it look like a rotating banner ad, which most people automatically tune out now. The banner should have been slap bang in the middle of the install screen (i.e. above the progress bar).

Am I the only one who actively dislikes those white/blue coloured multiple progress bars at the bottom of an otherwise black screen when Fedora boots (yes, the ones that tell you zero about what's going on)? You can press ESCAPE to get a textual boot, but if you're doing a (barely) "graphical" boot, I'm sure it couldn't take too much effort to produce a better booting screen.

When I first logged in, I got about a dozen file explorer windows open (this is a known bug that will be fixed, but it just looks sloppy, even for a beta). I also got an immediate SELinux balloon warning which is bad for a vanilla install, so I did the classic disabling of SELinux (though is there any GUI to do this?).

I do like the MATE Desktop in general though (it's good with Linux Mint 15 too) - refugees from Fedora 14/CentOS 6's GNOME 2 desktop will feel at home with MATE. I hope CentOS 7 comes with MATE, because without it, the GNOME 3 desktop experience is painful.

0
0

Ubuntu's Shuttleworth: Microsoft no longer dominates PC biz

Richard Lloyd
FAIL

Hmmm...closing a bug they didn't fix...and shouldn't have closed either...

It seems to me that the main "fix" for the bug was the emergence of Android, which has nothing at all to do with Ubuntu, so I don't think we can heap any plaudits on Canonical at all for fixing this bug. The very first sentence mentions "the new desktop PC marketplace", which I would argue actually excludes most Android devices anyway (unless you want to get into hybrid tablet arguments I suppose) and hence Shuttleworth's on very thin ground indeed closing this bug.

It could even be argued that from the non-mobile point of view, we're in almost a bad a state as we were a decade or so ago. How many stores have you gone into (or even major online stores) with non-mobile machines running any Linux distro at all? I'd say it'd still be pretty close to zero after all these years. MS's grip on desktop and laptop OEMs is as strong as ever.

It's so bad, that I've switched away from the major OEMs and am buying from whitebox shifters now, who will let me customise both the hardware *and* the OS (in my case, no OS shipped at all). It still irks me that Dell are happy to sell their PowerEdge servers with no OS and yet, as far as I can tell, they've never sold a single laptop or desktop without an OS.

Yes, there's been the odd Dell device with Linux on it, but they don't put them in the main desktop/laptop sections and they refuse to ship them identically spec'ed to Windows equivalents in case we work out what the Windows licence actually costs them. In fact, it often works out cheaper to buy the Windows version (which gets discount offers that the Linux ones never seem to), wipe it and put Linux on it!

Sadly, it doesn't matter how easy it is install Linux (and it's close to trivial now) because the vast majority of people stick with the OS that the device was shipped with and only ever change their OS when they buy a new machine. Until the OEM strangehold is broken and Linux desktops/laptops can be bought right alongside Windows ones (not hidden somewhere else on their Web site), Windows will have a monopoly on desktops/laptops and in my mind, bug #1 should still be open.

4
0

Google to double encryption key lengths for SSL certs by year's end

Richard Lloyd
Meh

Re: Seems a bit late

I tried GoDaddy for secure certs several years ago and one thing I thought was quite surprising is that they auto-renewed secure certs by default (with no renewal e-mail warning either!). And, yes, they insisted credit/debit card info was in the account to force through the renewal...

I thought that was a somewhat dubious practice (it's generally considered wise to change your CSR when doing a renewal, so that's another reason not to like it), so when I got the first auto-renewal (yes, for a secure cert I wasn't going to renew), I ditched them and went to Servertastic instead (seem to be the cheapest UK-based SSL vendor).

If you must use the cheapest US-based SSL issuer, I'd skip GoDaddy and try Namecheap with their PositiveSSL certs (less than 6 pounds!). They even have online chat people to assist you and will do a "file on the server" method of authentication if you don't control the e-mail for the SSL site's domain.

As for 2048-bit SSL certs, I've no idea why the article didn't mention that most CA's have been using 2048-bits for several years now and will refuse a CSR that's only 1024-bit. Hence, Google switching to 2048-bits is barely news - they're one of the last ones to do so I suspect (OK, that's news in itself, but again not alluded to in the article).

1
0

Android is a mess and needs sprucing up, admits chief

Richard Lloyd
Meh

Vanilla Android is probably the best mobile OS out there at the moment

As far as i'm concerned, vanilla Android (i.e. a Nexus device or a rooted ROM like CyanogenMod) is the best mobile OS on the market at the moment. You can run it well with all the defaults, it has a ton of customisations (even more on CM) and you don't have to give all your money to Samsung either :-)

I now have 5 Android-running devices and all of them have been rooting/ROMmed (yes, even my Nexus devices) and they provide an excellent user experience. Sadly, only a few percent of the market go the Nexus and/or rooted ROM route - the 90%+ of the rest are suffering from carrier bloatware that I really wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

Even the very nice HTC One has bloaty rubbish on it that you can't uninstall (why not - bloatware is 50% more tolerable if you can uninstall it). Even Windows bloatware can be removed with some effort, so this is utterly appalling behaviour from the carriers/manufacturers.

1
1

Review: Crucial M500 960GB SSD

Richard Lloyd
Meh

It's laptops that need the capacity

Desktops don't really need a high capacity SSD because they have at least 2 drive bays - the economics of that are that you buy a small/fast SSD for your boot drive and the largest (still fast) HDD that works out the best bang for buck (probably 3TB Seagates at the moment).

However - and it's surprising the article didn't mention this - almost all laptops only have one drive bay, so if it's your only machine and you don't have a desktop or NAS back at home, then you're going to want to max out the size of the SSD in your laptop.

I'm now quite excited that a) we finally have HDD-sized consumer SSDs and b) they cost under 500 quid. Inevitably, other vendors will release 960GB consumer SSDs, so let the price wars begin! In the meantime, HDDs are actually stalled around the 4TB point and have plateaued their prices too. Now if only OEMs would include SSDs in all their desktops now - it's staggering that this still isn't the case in 2013.

0
0

Good news: Debian 7 is rock solid. Bad news: It's called Wheezy

Richard Lloyd
Linux

Re: Conversion

"Something similar to Ubuntu's LTS but for Fedora"? Er, it's called CentOS :-) I use it on my home and work desktops and it's rock solid. Like Debian, don't expect to run the latest and greatest of anything unless you manually install it (e.g. Firefox, Thunderbird, LibreOffice, Oracle Java, Flash etc.).

Big advantages of CentOS are: 10 years of updates, GNOME 2, Grub 1 and System V init scripts - none of which you get with the latest Fedora or Ubuntu. The downer is that the forthcoming CentOS 7 will ditch the latter 3 and I suspect will be inferior to CentOS 6 because of that.

1
0

Google goes big with Play store redesign

Richard Lloyd
Meh

OK, so how is this rolled out?

The Google Play store app isn't listed on Google Play, so presumably the store app does a periodic check for an update (no idea if it notifies you or not if there's an update).

What about custom ROM users (e.g. CyanogenMod) ? I'm guessing they'll have to wait for a new gapps apk to turn up at some point.

To be honest, I've always found every incarnation of the store app to be hard to navigate - if you know the name of the app, then the search is fine. Otherwise, it's a complete pain. It needs Appbrain-style ways of sorting the apps, IMHO.

0
0

The ten SEXIEST computers of ALL TIME

Richard Lloyd

Fails for Commore and Sinclair machines

Most of these look reasonably well designed, but the Commodore 128 looks like a clackety old IBM PC keyboard with a case attached and the less said about the Sinclair machines the better (neither of them look good and the less said about the quality of the build materials, the better).

A bit surprised the fruitily coloured iMacs didn't make it in here - the all-in-ones with the striking colours is probably the sexiest design Apple have come up with (I'd have dropped the Cube myself).

Having said all that, I've never really cared about how my computers looked - for desktop PCs it's totally irrelevant to me because they spend their time on the floor under a computer desk!

1
1

Android's US market share continues to slip

Richard Lloyd
Meh

Re: Androids are Instantly Obsolete

I think this argument fails if you do a bit of market research on Android updates before you splurge your cash. It's hopefully common knowledge (not seemingly in your case because you never mention it) that Nexus phones are the ones to buy if you never intend to root/ROM your phone. They get the latest Android release first and are indeed "non-obsolete". I think conveniently forgetting to mention Nexus phones does indeed mark you out as a bit of an iPhone fanbois!

Where Android scores heavily, IMHO, is its choice - you do indeed have the Nexus phones if you never want to hack anything, but then a myriad of alternatives if you do (though I'd steer clear of the Samsung Galaxy S3/S4's in this case). Most popular models of Android phones have custom ROMs and this is where, again, you do a bit of research.

http://wiki.cyanogenmod.org/ is a nice place to start - it has official and unofficial device ports sections so you can see which phone models can run CyanogenMod. Heck, I have Nexus 7 and 10 tablets which can run the very latest official JellyBean 4.2.2, but I still rooted/ROM'ed them to CyanogenMod because it gives me even more config options than the stock Android does.

iPhones are fine if you're not technically savvy, like being locked into Apple's ecosystem and have enough dosh to afford one, but there's a fair number of people who don't feel that way. Note that even C|Net (Apple fans the lot of them) has a new "prizefight" video between iOS 6 and Android Jellybean and, qute shockingly, Android actually (narrowly) wins!

4
2
Richard Lloyd
Meh

Bit of a non-story this

The smartphone market in particular is like Wacky Races - Apple releases something and there's a very predictable sales bump and then Samsumg release their latest Galaxy phone and that does the same too.

The reason Samsung is slightly tailing off is that people are waiting for the S4 (and similarly a rise in Apple can be attributed to people being too impatient and wanting the shiny NOW and switching to the iPhone 5 - plus all the locked-in folk with Apple who are stuck on an upgrade treadmill that has no hardware competitors to tempt them away whilst being able to stay with iOS).

This has been happening for years, but the difference recently is that it's *Apple* playing catch up to Android (and yes, because of the single-vendor hardware for iOS, it is Apple vs. Android just as much as iOS vs. Android).

3
0

WebKit devs on Blink fork: 'Two can play that game'

Richard Lloyd
FAIL

Chrome starting to fall behind

So the rendering engine Chrome will be using is changing - but what about their JS engine (V8)? I don't know if anyone's noticed recently, but Mozilla's latest JS efforts shown at http://www.arewefastyet.com/ are starting to get perilously close to the speed of V8 (and in some sub-tests, actually now beating it).

In fact, after a couple of years of having a lead in both speed and memory usage, Chrome is now starting to lose out to Firefox in both respects. Ironically, the most noticeable platform where this is happening is on Google's Android itself, where Firefox is now clearly superior to Chrome.

And I'll throw in a barb about Chrome 26+ dropping support for the world's #1 commercial Linux (RHEL - and by interfence its clones) as another reason to re-consider using Chrome.

6
1

Patent shark‘s copyright claim could bite all Unix

Richard Lloyd
FAIL

Was doing OK until 'nsfw daemon'

A nice try, but spoiled half way through with the "nsfw daemon" - leave that out and the date-based company name was a lot more subtle.

12
0

Spanish Linux group files antitrust complaint against Microsoft

Richard Lloyd
Meh

The reason UEFI can be disabled for WIndows 8 and not for RT

I'm surprised no-one's mentioned the real reason Microsoft still allow secure boot to be turned off for Windows 8 Intel machines - it's *not* to allow Linux to be installed, it's to allow Windows 7 to be installed should the end-user "shockingly" decide that 7 is better than 8.

Proof of this? The ARM-based Windows RT has no predecessor to it in the Windows family, so that *does not* allow secure boot to be turned off. One suspects that once the supported Windows Intel family has all its keys available (by Windows 9?), then they will stop allowing secure boot to be turned off in future UEFI setups.

4
4

Ten ten-inch tablets

Richard Lloyd
Meh

Nexus 10 32GB price jump is insane

We all know that Google like to subsidise the price of base devices and then make their profit on the larger storage sized versions of the devices and the Nexus 7 for example (40 pounds extra for 16GB more?) followed this trend.

The Nexus 10 is even worse - for some magical reason, the price of 16GB of extra storage is now an Apple-sized 70 pounds. Hence, you are not "clever" if you are going to spend that much on extra storage - I got a 16GB Nexus 10 and bought a USB OTG cable for under a quid for external USB storage. Mind you, I also have rooted it and put CM 10.1 on it, so that an app like Stickmount comes into play.

My option is to have a 10" tablet for use in the home and a 7" tablet when you're on the move. If you want a decent Android experience on a 10" tablet, especially if you haven't got a Nexus model, CyanogenMod 10.1 is the only way to go, IMHO of course. This particularly applies to any Nook or Amazon tablet (and yes, the 8.9 Fire HD has just launched in the UK - a day after this article came out!).

0
0

Hands-on with Ubuntu's rudimentary phone and tablet OS

Richard Lloyd
Linux

I mentioned a Windows installer because they do it for desktop Ubuntu

The reason I mentioned a Windows installer for Ubuntu Tablet was several-fold. Firstly, there's probably just as many Windows users curious about Ubuntu Tablet than there are Ubuntu desktop users. Secondly, Ubuntu desktop already has an installer that can be run from Windows, so why on earth isn't there one for installing Ubuntu Tablet from Windows? Thirdly, a relatively idiot-proof Windows installer for Ubuntu Tablet would knock out almost all of those multi-step bits you mentioned.

I know it's very early days, but if you want to bring in as many testers as possible, you really do need a Windows installer for Ubuntu Tablet, IMHO. Plus the multiboot stuff I mentioned, since *everyone* is going back to Android after trying the current preview release. Without those two, Canonical won't get many "free" testers for their pre-releases, but it appears they've not even thought about either issue yet :-(

1
0
Richard Lloyd
FAIL

Early days...they need to do a few things soon though

It's very early days for this, so I think it's better to wait until they actually have some functionality in their releases. However, here's some early stuff they really should have done already:

1. Provide installation via Linuxes *other* than Ubuntu. Yes, I know they'd love you to install Ubuntu on your desktop, but I run CentOS 6 (the world's #1 commercial Linux desktop no less) and I don't see why I should switch to Ubuntu. On a similar note, provide an official installer for Windows too - a very obvious move missed there!

2. Once installed, this page is useful: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Touch/ReleaseNotes

However, they really do make it harder by saying "the recommended way to get shell access to the device is through SSH" and then promptly *not* including openssh-server in the tablet image!

3. The biggest omission of the whole thing, though, is the lack of a bootloader to provide multiboot, so that you can retain your Android install and boot between it and Ubuntu Tablet. With the release being in chocolate fireguard mode at the moment, there's no way people will want to keep backing up and restoring Android countless times. This issue was solved quite a while ago (e.g. moboot on HP TouchPads to go between webOS and CM9 and there's a dual boot Ubuntu/Android tablet actually on sale - http://www.androidauthority.com/android-4-0-ubuntu-12-04-kite-nibbio-tablet-features-exynos-chip-costs-e309-147513/ ).

0
0

Microsoft brings Azure back online

Richard Lloyd
FAIL

Cron job needed and, er, why didn't they renew the cert for longer?

OK, so this happened last year, presumably on the annual renewal date. It begs how incompetent Microsoft is:

1. Most secure cert registrars send out e-mail reminders (mine does with 90, 30 and 7 days to go) - did whoever they registered with not send such e-mails or did Microsoft just ignore them?

2. A simple cron job to check the cert and e-mail (to more than one person!) every day at least 7 days before expiry would have saved their bacon.

3. When they messed up last year, why didn't they renew the cert for more than one year? Surely Microsoft can afford a multi-year cert?!

Multiple levels of incompetence there - that's Microsoft for you.

18
0

Ubuntu Preview alpha arrives for fondleslabs and phones

Richard Lloyd
Linux

Multi boot please

I personally think that Tablet Ubuntu needs a mult-boot setup as standard (not some third party hacky instructions that I've seen for the Nexus 7 + desktop Ubuntu). Until then, it'll be a real pain for anyone who wants to keep using Android whilst tinkering with Tablet Ubuntu.

This problem was solved way back on the HP TouichPad - add a recovery image, moboot and Cyanagenmod 9 and you can merrily boot between Android and webOS.

1
0

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