251 posts • joined Saturday 25th November 2006 21:55 GMT
Only a couple of F11 snags so far
I've run all the alpha, beta and preview versions as well the final of Fedora 11 and there's only two snags that are very noticeable for me they didn't fix by the final release, neither of which is mentioned in the article, ho hum.
First up is an ext4 issue - no, not the one that was fixed and wrongly accused of having by the article. It's the one that Ubuntu 9.04 sorted out and F11 didn't, namely that grub cannot handle ext4 /boot partitions (or / being ext4 if there's no separate /boot). Yes, if you want your system disk to be ext4 in Fedora, you *have* to create a separate /boot partition *and* that partition can't be ext4 - arrgh! There is a fix for this brewing, but it came too late for F11 :-(
Secondly is the old chestnut of chasing the X server release version beyond what the proprietary 3D drivers support, in particular ATI's fglrx driver (for which, neither radeon nor radonhd are acceptable open source alternatives yet, though the latter may eventually be decent enough).
I always wait until my favourite third-party repository (now called rpmfusion) packages the fglrx goodies up into RPMs and makes them available for download. As I write this, not a sign of the fglrx RPMs in any of the F11 rpmfusion repo trees, so that means no usuable 3D acceleration yet again (same happened with F9 [4.5 months!!] and F10 [1.5 months]) and I'll twiddle my thumbs until the drivers turn up and I can switch to F11. Luckily, ATI have a monthly release schedule for their Linux drivers, so it might only be a few weeks until 3D actually works in F11 at decent speeds.
Netbooks have gone higher spec...
...which means higher prices and, unsurprisingly, lower sales. Trying to find a brand new netbook for significantly under 200 pounds is getting quite difficult, now that 7" netbooks are dead, 8.9" netbooks are being phased out and 10"/12" netbooks seem to be de rigeur at the moment. Never mind the "Microsoft tax" too, now that most netbooks ship with Windows as well.
Got to say that the company going the "wrong way" with this is definitely the netbook trailblazer Asus - they've basically upped the spec so much now, that even a sub-300 quid EEE netbook model is hard to find in their range now!
F11 is good, though some install wrinkles need ironing out
I installed from the 64-bit Fedora 11 beta DVD and it's pretty good, except for three issues I had. Firstly, the Anaconda installer crashes when trying to eject the DVD at the end of the install - no big deal, because it does actually install all packages and adjust the bootloader properly before the crash.
Secondly, my first boot and login didn't start up the networking. I can't say I'm a fan of having the NetworkManager handle networking startup *after* you login anyway, but in this case, I had to click on the network icon in the top panel and it "magically" activated the network, without any further prompting.
Thirdly - and the worst issue of all - the top-level of the DVD has a crucial GPG key missing (the primary one for Fedora 11) and embarrasingly, there's even a bunch of soft-links to it at the top-level of the DVD that go nowhere! This means that by default "yum update" failed every time because of the missing key and I ended up having to switch off gpg checking in the yum config to actually do any updates!
Still, I'm mightily impressed with the speed of booting - even faster than Fedora 10, which was already pretty quick. Nice to see the virtualisation goodies taking shape too - KVM is starting to look like serious competition for VMWare and VirtualBox at long last.
Asus have priced themselves out of the market
It's a pity about Asus really - they pioneer the Netbook phenomenon and then basically abandon it by making every subsequent model bigger, heavier and more expensive! A 10" netbook for 400 pounds? That's at *least* 100 pounds too much, Asus - you're continuing to make the same mistake over and over again.
To top it off, the original 7" Asus has been pensioned off and you're now hard pushed to find any really cheap Asus netbook models. Asus have ceded the market to Acer and Dell and it's sad to see the trailblazer now look like an also-ran.
I've "no demand" for typical Channel 4 progs
The problem now is that Channel 4 is barely worth watching any more. US shows are available "elsewhere" months earlier, ditto movies they show and the vast majority of homegrown stuff (Big Brother particularly) is pretty shoddy quality. Yes, they might have the odd one-off drama worth watching, but they are so few and far between that if C4 went off-air right now, I just wouldn't miss it one iota.
1TB drive is great...
I bought a couple of 1TB Samsungs a few months back and they are one of the best purchases I've ever made. 116Mbytes/s read speed, really quiet, run cool and I got them at 75 quid each. Fast, cheap, quiet, cool - Samsung were the first to tick all the boxes for 1TB+ drives, IMHO. Surprisingly, the typical price of the 1TB is now 80 quid - perhaps Samsung can't make them quick enough :-) I hope the 1.5TB version is as good as the 1TB, because it'll be at the top of my next hard disk purchase list if it is.
Just buy the internal reader version...
I bought the LG GGC-H20L myself, which gives you much better bang for your buck. Yes, it's the internal model and doesn't write to Blu-Ray discs, but with Blu-Ray movies to be found for 8-10 pounds, who is going to bother trying to copying onto blank media that costs the same as or more than the original?
Ironically, I've not even bought a single Blu-ray movie yet because their average price is still too high for my tastes (particularly for new releases) and I'm still glutted on the dozens of HD-DVDs I bought at 3 quid a pop last year online :-) A shame Cyberlink annoyingly dropped HD-DVD support from their software from version 8 onwards thought- quite premature I thought since you can still buy HD-DVD-capable drives like this one and HD-DVD movies from several major online sites.
This is why I didn't buy an AA1
This 5-page guide (with a link to the video at the end) is one of the two main reasons I haven't bought an Acer Aspire One. Upgrading the RAM on any machine (netbook, notebook or desktop) should *never* be as painful as this! Most machines either have a hatch exposing the RAM or have the DIMM slots easily accessible once you remove (usually only one side of) the case.
The other reason the AA1 isn't worth buying? The pitiful battery life - just about the worst in the entire class of netbooks out there - and the correspondingly expensive replacement battery you have to get to go beyond the 2 hour mark.
A shame really, because with easily upgradeable RAM and a decent battery, the AA1 might have been a contender. Mind you, don't get me started on the AA1's dog slow SSD either :-)
You could view it any time...
There was no need to wait for 11.31pm on the Friday or, as an earlier poster suggested, set your clock back after the event, because anyone who bothered - like I did - to view the HTML source of the site would have seen that if you click the word "fun" in the phrase "xkcd fun with..." at the bottom of the page, you get to see the fireworks etc. any time you like.
Yes, too expensive, but also too small?
Is it just me or does OLED tech seem to be in the same place as SSDs right now? Not only is it far too expensive (I'd never pay 3 grand for a TV set, no matter how fantastic it is), but it's also too small (11" isn't even big enough for the kitchen or a small bedroom!).
The tech is great, but we're still years away from seeing this in living rooms - wait until the digital switchover in the UK has finished (i.e. 2012 Olympics) and wake me up again then....
I buy from the booking office
If you live close to the venue, then do what I do and buy in *cash* from the booking office at the venue. Yes, they open limited hours, but a) you get the tickets in your hand there and then and b) no extra fees at all (yep, it's the only way to actually just pay the price shown on the ticket itself).
I simply don't trust buying tickets online and the additional fees are 100% a rip-off. These additional fees should be included in the standard ticket price and the *only* extra should be postage (which may have to be several quid because you really want them sent next day recorded delivery).
Most home users don't upgrade their OS ever
I suspect 95% of home users never upgrade the OS on their machine (or if they have to, they get someone else, be it a nerd friend or PC World, to do it). Can you really see the average Joe Bloggs in the street backing up their data and app installers (if they are downloads particularly), booting from a Windows 7 CD, trudging through a Windows installer (which they'll probably have never seen before) and the restoring their data and running the app installers (some of which may not work). And how do they go back to XP if any of the above fails?
What MS should release is what Linux has had for years - live DVD installers, so you can boot into a DVD-based Windows 7 desktop, check your hardware works and maybe even try to install some of your old apps and check that they work along with trying out some of the backed up data with the apps too, though I'm not sure how easy that would be to do in a live Windows environment.
Basically, what MS are saying is that there is *no* upgrade path directly from XP to Windows 7 at all - the procedure they describe is a clean install. If you're going to go for a clean install, why not play with a live CD of Ubuntu/OpenSUSE/Fedora and see if stuff like WINE will run your Windows apps? If you go ahead and install Linux, you can always keep the XP install, dual boot and not "need" Windows 7 at all...
Buying Ubuntu machines is actually quite hard on Dell's site
Looking at the Dell US site, it's actually quite tricky to buy Ubuntu laptops. Despite the fact it clearly should be, it's *not* a simple radio button option next to Vista when you go to Customise one of their mainstream laptops. In fact, the Ubuntu laptops are in a completely different, well-hidden section of the Dell site called "Open Source PCs" (a tiny link down the bottom left column on the laptop index page). You're taken to a section with different model names, different hardware specs and different prices (all deliberate by Dell to make price comparisons with Windows laptops very difficult).
So either she consciously chose to buy a non-Windows OS (i.e. hard to do it by mistake) or, more likely, she uses a bargain/offers Web site or mailing list that gave an exact URL to the no doubt slightly cheaper Dell Ubuntu laptop. BTW, one thing Dell should make more clear is that when you're in the Customise section of the laptop and hit the "Operating System" section, it should say "note that Ubuntu is not fully compatible with Windows and some Windows applications may not run, especially games.". If you did click on "Open Source PCs", there is some sort of blurb about it not being Windows, but it's not as explicit as my suggestion.
Are these dual core chips 64-bit?
I'm a bit surprised that the article didn't mention whether any of these new dual core chips will be 64-bit. I'm holding off buying a netbook until there's one available with 4GB RAM, dual core, 64-bit and doesn't eat battery life. Why should the small form factor mean lower spec - if one crops up for 300 quid or less, I'll be the first in line...
HD Freeview is coming...
Is it just me or is the fact that in a year's time, regions start rolling out HD Freeview and if you want see HD channels, you have to buy at least a new set-top box (negating the SD tuner nicely built into your "HD ready" TV or DVR) or completely ditch the old equipment if you don't like set-top boxes. If I was considering buying a new Freeview TV or recorder with an integrated tuner (try finding one *without* an SD Freeview tuner nowadays!), I'd hold back a year and wait for HD Freeview versions.
It's the "dirty little secret" that's brewing for Q4 2009 onwards - "HD Ready" equipment with integrated SD tuners should really be investigated by Ofcom or someone because you have to apply an external HD source to get HD! As for this TVonics unit, a total thumbs down because of the SD tuner and lack of HDMI...
Or get an LG Combo drive for 70 quid...
I bought an LG combo Sata drive for my PC from Ebuyer earlier this year for less than 70 quid - reads/writes CDs and DVDs and will read both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray. It even came with Cyberlink PowerDVD 7 that can play HD-DVD and Blu-Ray movies on the PC. How come a relatively cheap PC add-on like this wasn't reviewed? Heck, you could probably buy an entire PC *and* the LG drive for the cost of one of the pricier Blu-Ray decks you reviewed!
Deja Vu - anyone remember The Money Programme?
This reminds me of the 30 minute promotional video for Vista that BBC 2 made - via "The Money Programme" - for the launch of Windows Vista. There was virtually no balance in the programme - the only negative statements in the entire show were that it missed a Christmas launch and they had a brief vox pops at the end where 2 punters claimed it was a) not much different from XP and b) too expensive. Read more on the blatant 30 minute ad for Microsoft here:
And what about old Sky Digital boxes?
Five, Fiver and Five US have never been broadcast in the clear on Sky Digital to my knowledge (the same was true of Channel 4, E4 and More 4 until very recently), so I'm guessing that this Freesat change also means that the Five channels will turn up in the clear on Sky Digital boxes on 18th Nov. Amazing that it's taken 11 years (i.e. since the launch of Channel 5 in 1997) for Sky Digital finally to broadcast all 5 main terrestrial channels in the clear! Is that pathetic or what?
Wouldn't CentOS have been easier?
If they'd mainly been on Fedora (and I'm guessing RHEL too) before, then wouldn't a migration to CentOS be the more obvious choice? Not only is it free to install, but you get 7 years of free updates matching those released by Red Hat for RHEL. At work, we've moved virtually all our Linux servers and desktops to CentOS now (previously they ran Fedora) and apart from having to track a few desktop apps manually (e.g. Firefox 3, OpenOffice.org 3), there's very little difference in the day-to-day admin of Fedora vs. CentOS - far less so than Fedora vs. Ubuntu.
Fedora 8 (and 9) updating now...
In response to the "what's happened to Fedora 8 updates" question, the Fedora team have issued a new signing key and associated "fedora-release" transition RPM - this updates your yum update repos to point "updates-newkey", in which there are indeed a shed-load of new Fedora updates now.
Sadly, on my system, the fedora-release RPM appeared at the same time as some broken package updates and "yum update" fell on its backside! I had to "yum install fedora-release" and *then* do a "yum update" - all was well after that. It appears the livna repos for Fedora 8 got hit by the same breakage - F8 has had a new kernel for 10 days or so and no fglrx RPM updates from livna for the new kernel (they usually do it within 1 working day). It means I can't go to F8's new 2.6.26 kernel yet and hence no UDF 2.5 support (so I can't mount HD-DVDs for example on my new LG combo drive - yes, HD-DVD format is dead...nice to see that Linux can finally mount them 6 months after the format is 6 feet under...).
Support for Fedora is pointless really
Fedora moves too quickly really - its release schedule is typically 3 times faster than RHEL's - so unless either you plan to upgrade your entire distro at least annually or Fedora's release schedule radically slows down *and* they keep supporting more than the latest 2 releases, then paid support for it is a total non-starter.
Fedora is very useful to install on the desktop (or a spare non-production server) so you can "play" with the new bleeding edge technologies and see what's going to be in the next RHEL release, but it's painful if you want to run it in a production environment (updates stop less than 18 months after its release for one thing - what about security fixes after that time? We got burned by Fedora Core 2's kernel simply dying on a busy mail/firestore server - we had to hand-roll a much newer kernel to fix it because FC2's updates stopped quite a while ago. Needless to say, we've moved that to CentOS 5 now and the kernel's been rock solid on that platform).
The best compromise is to use CentOS - being a free clone, it's released on the same slower schedule as RHEL and has updates for multiple years (at least 5 usually - enough to last the lifetime of the hardware at any rate). I've actually switched our work desktops away from Fedora to CentOS 5 - the essential apps (OpenOffice/Firefox/Thunderbird) have to be hand-maintained because CentOS 5 is too far behind, but I leave most of the rest of the stuff to standard (and one or two select third-party) repos to be updated.
Fedora 9 is a botch-up - F10 should be much better
Anyone who's used Fedora for a while knows that it's best to a) wait a little while for the rush of updates immediately following a version's release to subside and b) install the new version on a separate partition and test it first whilst keeping your original older Fedora install intact. I did this for Fedora 8 (old) vs. Fedora 9 (new) and soon realised that F9 was a release disaster.
The number one problem with F9 was that they incredibly irresponsibly shipped the final version with a beta release of the X server. Yes, part of the blame should go to the treacle dev speed of the X.org folks (it took 4.5 months *after* the final release of F9 for the final version of the X server to come out!), but it does appear that the Fedora team were unwilling to roll back to the previous X server at all (which would have suspended a fair chunk of work they'd done for 4.5 months after the release, plus put X back to the same place as F8 had already been 6 months earlier).
The upshot is that F9's "radeon" open source driver is a joke with my ATI HD 2600XT card when connected to my analogue Philips CRT. It flickers like crazy and has the screen boundaries 100 pixels too far to the left! ATI don't release driver support for beta X servers either, so I couldn't even switch to the ATI 3D driver. The F8 stable X server works fine with both the "radeon" and "fglrx" drivers, so I was hugely miffed about this. Fedora 10 alpha hasn't fared any better, but at least they have a chance of proper driver support for the final release of Fedora 10 now that the stable X server is out. Yes, I have F10 alpha on another partition too...
Google Chrome download blocked for non-Windows users
Let me see, a vague commitment to the Mac and Linux platform isn't a good launch for Google Chrome really (Google are hugely notorious for releasing on Windows first and then waiting many months before bothering with other platforms).
What's even worse, if you want to try Google Chrome on a non-Windows platform (e.g. via emulation/virtualisation such as VMWare, WINE etc.), then good luck, because whoever decided to *block* (yes, BLOCK) non-Windows users from downloading the Windows version of Google Chrome ought to be hung, drawn and quartered! User Agent Switcher on Firefox got me a little further, but even that stopped me at "Accept and Install" on the EULA page. What the freak are Google playing at?!
No mention of the RAM upgrade nightmare....
Apart from the totally foot-shooting decision of Acer to ship the Aspire One with a 3-cell battery and no option to ship with a better battery as standard, the other thing I really *hate* about the hardware is that there's no easy way to upgrade the RAM!
It's all well and good saying "buy the cheapest model", but 512MB RAM isn't a lot nowadays and you have to take the machine apart - voiding the warranty along the way - to add any extra RAM, thanks to Acer ridiculously not having a RAM access hatch and burying it well inside the machine.
Fix the battery and RAM issues, sell it for under 250 quid and I'm there. Acer Aspire Two anyone?
Changing IP address? Listen on both...
If the new IP address for the Exchange server was in the same subnet as the old IP address, then what they could have done is listen on both the old and new IP for a while until the DNS change had propagated. BTW, someone suggested lowering the DNS TTL when changing IP - sounds good in theory, until you realise that many ISPs cache DNS according to their own rules (often hours) and lowering the TTL actually has little immediate effect (i.e. it's ignored more often than not).
I prefer US layout myself
Having used US layout here at work in the UK (out of choice - happened to have some machines that came with them), I actually prefer the layout to the UK one (the only snag is no pound key, so I have to spell it out or cut'n'paste it), especially for UNIX/Linux systems. Trying to find cheap US keyboards here in the UK is next to impossible though - I buy 3 or 4 of them at a time whenever they appear on UK retail sites...
Will Ubuntu Netbook Remix steamroller Xandros?
It seems to me that the only significant revenue stream that a non-server commercial Linux distro can create is if they get their distro pre-installed on a big-selling desktop/laptop/sub-laptop. Ubuntu is already pre-installed on a few Dell desktops/laptops (though horribly hidden on their site and often pricier than Windows versions because they don't get any special offers) and none of the other big OEMs seem to be prominently selling Linux pre-installed on the laptops/desktops.
This leaves the rapidly growing sub-laptop market and Xandros have done a clever deal with Asus to get it on the EEE PC. But where are the other sub-laptop deals for Xandros? Seems like Acer is going with the obscure Linpus Linux and I suspect Dell are hanging back for the Ubuntu Netbook Remix - see http://www.canonical.com/netbooks/ - before releasing their model. If Ubuntu Netbook Remix takes off, it might sway other OEMs and if Asus decided to jump ship, would that effectively kill Xandros?
HD TV 100% useless if you can't freely record it in HD
There's very little I watch "live" (live sport and maybe news if there's a massive story just breaking) - movies, drama, comedy, documentaries - I record them all for later viewing at a time that suits me and not the broadcaster. So to me (and possibly a fair number of other people), being able to record in HD completely unrestricted is totally crucial to the introduction of HD TV in my household.
The bare minimum I'd expect is an HDMI input to the recorder (or a built-in digital HD decoder of a rooftop aerial input if you're looking for an "all in one" box) and an equivalent HDMI output to my HD TV. No copy protection or loss of quality should occur and recordings should be stored on as large as hard drive as possible (with USB and/or ethernet/wireless for further import/export of HD material). So where is this device that many people would consider crucial to HDTV viewing? Well, absolutely nowhere in the UK as far as I tell. Anyone got any idea when the first such box will turn up? The article claims Xmas, but will this be a true unencumbered HD in -> HD out recorder or will it be ludicrously crippled and not worth buying at all?
Broke our CentOS setup...
Looks like updates to nss_ldap and the kernel/X server broke our LDAP setup and also the RPMforge (sadly closed source) Nvidia 3D graphics driver when the 5.2 RPM updates hit us (luckily, only on one desktop machine that we apply a week ahead of the rest of course). I'm investigating it and will report back to the Red Hat and/or CentOS folks (and possible RPMforge too) about the issues. Temporary fix is to simply avoid the troublesome new RPMs for the moment...
Best 8-bit machine ever?
In my opinion, the BBC Micro Model B was probably the best 8-bit machine ever made. It had a very good keyboard (virtually every other rival machine of the day had a far worse keyboard), tightly written OS, a good sound system, a superb BASIC for the day (far better than the Spectrum or C64) and ran faster than pretty well any other 8-bit machine of its time. The US 8-bit equivalents (Commodore 64 and Apple II) were quite poor in comparison really.
It's only downer - and one Acorn never fixed in its lifetime - was the price. It just never budged from 399 pounds for the Model B (yes, 399 pounds can buy you a quad core 64-bit monster desktop nowadays). The UK market was very price sensitive and Acorn just put the blinkers on and never dropped the price, not even when sales began to fall. It's why it was never as popular as the vastly inferior Spectrum (which was a pitiful machine really, but it was very cheap, which attracted a lot of users and hence a lot of games for it - a virtuous circle indeed and one Acorn never cottoned onto).
Yes, I moved onto the Archimedes afterwards and that, again, was a stunning machine for the late 80's (the first mass-produced 32-bit RISC-based machine in the world) - again a superbly written OS, but yet again overpriced and ultimately unable to compete on both price and speed once the PC world caught onto 32-bits in a big way a few years after the Archimedes launched. The Archimedes did have one lasting innovation though - the ARM chip, which is now ubiquitous in mobile gadgets everywhere. A great RISC chip to program on, IMHO.
Not true - SP1 can be installed with *no* Windows Updates!
I just got a new Dell PC and put 64-bit Vista and 64-bit Service Pack 1 on it without even having a Net connection, never mind running Windows Update and everything seemed to work fine. So where this "without it, the operating system’s full service pack can’t be installed" fallacy comes from is anyone's guess.
Of course, it is possible that something could have been broken by SP1 that needs a post-SP1 Windows Update - judging by how poor Vista is (and the same "unwanted stepchild" attitude from OEMs and software vendors towards 64-bit Vista), then I'd actually *expect* SP1 to wreck something!
They never really 'perfected' the site in my books...
I complained several times about major issues on the tvcatchup.com site, but they never fixed any of them, so I eventually gave up on it. A shame really, because it was a nice idea if it didn't have so many issues (their team spent more time redesigning the Web interface than actually fixing serious issues).
Examples of things that never got fixed:
* Loss of start and end of programmes, because of the lack of a concept of "auto-padding" that's in all modern PVRs.
* Bad scheduling data losing recordings of programmes (they should be saved with a dummy name and then renamed later to their correct title).
* Excessive CPU usage of Flash player on Linux platforms (mainly Adobe's fault admittedly).
* Every Web UI design they had (3 or 4 of them?) broke worse and worse if you used large fonts to surf the site (e.g. 16 points).
* Didn't cover all FTA Freeview entertainment channels, which is completely inexplicable (e.g. no Virgin 1, More 4 or Film 4).
* Allowing "sharing" was a huge copyright violation and should never have been on the service - it might have survived if they'd never offered it. However, the material "recorded" just by a single user is still copyright and stored on a central server not at the user's home, so any domestic recording rights don't apply here - it was basically always doomed because it never had the permission of each of the copyright holders to store the material.
At least DVD+R(W) doesn't need finalising...
I personally prefer the plus format because there's no finalising involved and the prices equalised with minus format disks several years ago. BTW, one of the comments claimed dual layer blank discs are expensive - they were a few years ago, but they're now around 40p each!
What I really miss - and what the article fails to mention - is that after all these years, you still can't buy dual layer DVD+RW's (not at the places I buy from, e.g. SVP). I know there were technical issues, but you suspect that Hollywood pressure (just too easy to clone an original DVD and then wipe it when you've watched it) and the emergence of HD-DVD/Blu-Ray (don't want DVD+RW/DL raining on their parade!) basically killed the final "missing format" of the original DVD family.
The somewhat bemusing thing, though, is that optical media is basically on its way out - it's prone to errors (scratches/fingerprints), not particularly high capacity (especially rewritable discs as I said), not particularly fast (basically, DVD reading and writing has now maxed out and physically can't go any faster without destroying the disc) and it's only advantages now are cheap drives/media and the ubiquity of DVD drives out there. SSD and hard drives at ever increasing capacities and lowering prices are clearly going to dominate in future years w.r.t. storage, along with Net downloads replacing shipping physical media.
OEMs still using the FreeDOS 'workaround'?
OK, I know Dell were one of the first of the major OEMs to ship their machines with the (worthless for anything other than BIOS flashing!) FreeDOS "workaround", but why does this bizarre situation still exist, this time with HP? As far I can remember, machines shipped with FreeDOS because a certain Redmond company (possibly illegally) insisted that every machine comes with an OS.
So the question remains - why can't the major OEMs ship with no OS nowadays (and hence no OS or software support of course)? That's what I want (and I'm sure most companies would too) since I want to put my own OS (Linux) on it (and many companies have a volume licence for Windows, negating the need for a pre-install OS). It's a shame that even El Reg isn't questioning this every time a major OEM releases a business PC without the option of no OS.
The yum repository for the Flash plugin 18.104.22.168 for Linux has an RPM dated 1st December. Heck, I thought I was slow installing it on 7th December, but I guess El Reg journos don't update their Flash plugins very often and just sit back and wait for an Adobe press release (clue stick here - there's a Linux Flash blog that's worth checking out at http://blogs.adobe.com/penguin.swf/ - it seems to be regularly giving us development updates that are quite informative).
BTW, the vulnerability fixes are certainly newsworthy, but no less so than the fact that 22.214.171.124 now has support for H.264 and AAC codecs, plus XEmbed support for Linux. Mind you, they still refuse to release a 64-bit version of Flash for the platforms they currently support and until they do, I'd say it's not truly cross-platform.
Legacy library support is often poor
One thing that's bugged me for a while about Linux is that all the major distros seem to have a policy of only providing current libraries and "legacy" (old) libraries going back only one major release!
With the speed of Linux development, this can mean that installing a Linux a mere 18 months later can mean that some of your older software will at the very least need recompiling or at worst (no source code?) won't work at all.
Although now very much a niche player, HP's UNIX (HP-UX) had it right - if they ever shipped a shared library with an OS release, they would *always* ship that library in future releases, even if only a few apps from 5 or 10 years ago used it (yes, you even get X11R4 shared libraries with the very latest HP-UX).
I think this is one of the big issues for Linux ISVs and why they are indeed hesitant about entering the Linux market. Yes, one workaround is to link against archive libraries, but you'd be surprised how few apps out there do...
If you're going to switch from RHEL, it ain't to Oracle...
Oracle's dubious "Unbreakable Linux" might have had some merit if it wasn't for that fact that there's a far cheaper (and some would argue significantly better than UL) clone to RHEL already out there, namely CentOS.
For businesses, there's only 2 sensible choices - ether buy RHEL and get proper support/cerification or get CentOS for free and use the community for suport (or your own in-house expertise). Oracle's Linux is a half-baked mongrel that deserves no-one's time or money, IMHO.
And add a VAT indicator too please...
Concerning the point about whether you're buying from an individual or a company, why does it appear that eBay (and maybe others) have no "excluding VAT" or "including VAT" indication on their Website (preferably with the VAT calculated and an including VAT grand total included for you)?
It makes a 17.5% difference to the total price (yes, the company will add VAT to the postage too remember) and yet the only place it gets mentioned is often 3/4s the way down a long description of the item...
Just offer no OS or Windows pre-installed...it's that simple
Taking Dell as an example, they already do this on their PowerEdge server line - you can choose no OS, Windows Server 2003, RHEL or SuSE Enterprise when you buy the server - all just a simple radio button OS choice (one model of machine - not separately "hidden" like their Ubuntu desktops/laptops).
And yet we *still* don't see the same OS choice on the desktops Dell sells, not even a simple "no OS" vs" Windows Vista" radio button. I don't agree with the "insert a DVD and install Windows" idea - I think that if you are going to sell a desktop with Windows, too many people are clueless to install an OS without help (unless MS and the OEMs can literally provide a "foolproof" install DVD, which the current Vista install DVD certainly isn't - in oher words - insert DVD, click on EULA, then click on *nothing else*...watch the OS install and the machine reboot and you're ready).
It's a real shame that the major OEMs still refuse to let you buy one of their desktops or laptops with no OS. If it can be done by whitebox shifters (many have a config tool on their website where you can get no OS pre-installed with the desktop) and Dell can do it for servers, then why can't major OEMs supply no OS options for desktops too?
Pointless - why release this at all, IBM?
The release of the IBM Lotus Symphony suite has me completely perplexed, especially coming shortly after they've announced that dozens of IBM folks will helping out the OpenOffice.org effort. It's painful to even get the software (which is *beta* BTW, something none of the lazy journos out there seem to have mentioned!) - you have to register on IBM's site first and sit through a dog slow Web download (no torrent...).
I ran the Linux version and if you thought OpenOffice.org was bloated, you haven't tried Symphony - it actually sits on top of Eclipse (another bloatware product if ever I saw one) to double its footprint and presents a strange bordered interface. It seems to offer absolutely nothing that OpenOffice.org doesn't (unsurprising, since the engine underneath is the same) and my only conclusion is that this is a pointless, bloated release that IBM have made a huge mistake bothering with.
I just use Flashblock myself...
I have no problem with unobtrusive ads on a Web site (text or static graphic banners), but the #1 evil to me (after pop-ups, which all browsers block now anyway) is Flash ads. These aren't just annoyingly gimmicky (lots of fades, flashes, rotates and other distractions), but also soak up huge amounts of CPU time on your machine, especially if - as there often is - multiple Flash ads on a single page.
Hence, I install Flashblock as the only extra blocking software and my eyes and CPU time are saved...hooray! If I need to see a Flash ad (very unlikely...), you just click on the "f" in the ad area and it loads the Flash in and shows the ad. I now refuse to use any browser without Flashblock installed, it's such an important enhancement to my day-to-day browsing.
Or my lottery blog...
I'm sure blogging probably began around the time the Web surfaced (1993), but I've been running a lottery blog since 17th Nov 1994:
Hardly earth-shattering and not updated every day (does that have to happen to be called a "blog"?), but still 2 years before anything in the article and still running almost 13 years later (which I suspect none of these "early blogs" can claim). Yes, it could indeed be the longest-running blog in the world for all I know - I'd be interested to see if someone has a longer-running blog...
OK, anyone want to post up a link?
I don't know about you, but I've no idea where these well-hidden Linux desktops/laptops are on the Dell UK site. If you go to the normal home laptop/desktop sections, it's plugging Windows and not a sign of Linux. Anyone want to post up a direct link to where these Linux machines are on the Dell UK site?
BTW, the fact I can't find a link easily speaks volumes - it's very pathetic that Dell in both the UK and US "hide" the Linux pre-installs well away (even ridiculously giving the machine a different model number from its Windows equivalent).
Does *any* UK non-sysadmin know about this day?
I don't know about you, but here in the UK this supposedly "international" Sysadmin Day is 100% unknown by any non-sysadmin I've ever come across (yes, including my colleagues). I'm sure a lot of people have heard about Secretaries' Day (or "Administrative Professionals Day" as Ugly Betty recently pointed out) even in the UK, but this Sysadmin Day thing has been running 8 years now and it's still completely non-existent to the vast majority people in the UK.
Am I the only one who thinks that this never really left the US, having being invented - and seemingly stayed - in that country only?
iPlayer, here's a long list of snags for you...
OK, I can't really see the iPlayer taking off compared to recording to a ubquitous hard disk/DVD recorder or - ahem - looking on Net for a download of a programme you missed. Here's a myriad of reasons why:
* Quality is apparently poor according to the beta iPlayer forums, particularly if you go fullscreen (which is how most people would play the programmes surely?). Much worse than your standard DivX-encoded video.
* You can only run iPlayer on Windows XP SP2, ignoring Vista (which has been out for home use for 6 months now and sold on the vast majority of new PCs - 10-20% of BBC licence fee payers maybe?), MacOS X (5%) and Linux (2-3%). This is a complete disgrace really - ignoring a quarter of all possible users would be a disaster if a commercial outfit tried to do the same.
* It's yet another video player we have to get to view BBC content and *only* BBC content. At least with Freeview, I can watch up to 30 channels, the majority of which aren't the BBC.
* They are only going to make the last 7 days worth of BBC shows available - what if you went on holiday for a couple of weeks?
* Evil, evil DRM is embedded in the iPlayer - any programmes will "expire" a pitiful 30 days after it's been downloaded.
* They claim they'll have a "stack" system for multi-episode series (whereby all episodes will remain available until 7 days after the final episode has aired), but don't commit to doing that for all series and if you decide you'd like to see any of the episodes 8 days after the last one airs, well tough luck as usual.
* The iPlayer service will only broadcast what they have online rights for, so bang goes virtually any sport, music or movies then.
* The BBC may omit certain shows that they want to release on DVD first (they've threatened to do this for classical music for example and it won't be long before other areas get similarly impacted).
Want a better scheme? How about *no* DRM, choice of quality of download in standard (e.g. DivX) format (including HD versions where possible) and have a registration system that requires you to input your TV licence fee number and also checks that your IP is in the UK before you can download anything? Too bleeding obvious? Yep, it seems so. After all, we've bleeding well *paid* for this content already via the TV licence and it's been aired DRMless, so why shouldn't be it be downable free and DRMless for licence fee payers too?
Yes, some of the non-DRM'ed content will end up on P2P networks, but so will the DRM'ed versions too, I bet (though the quality might be bad enough to put uploaders off!), so why not just bite the bullet and admit that DRM is a complete and utter waste of time?
What platform(s) is the vulnerability on?
I can't seem to see any mention of exactly what platforms this vulnerability is on. iDefense Labs mention generic "Windows" just once and the CVE candidate advisory notice actually completely fails to state the platforms affected at all.
BTW, Real have been quite shoddy at providing updates for the Linux version of Real Player 10 - the RPM downloadable from http://www.real.com/linux/ is actually dated 14th August 2006! It's version 10.0.8.805-20060718, implying that it was actually a snapshot of code as of 18th July 2006, so it's got 3 weeks to "celebrate" its anniversary....
Still only 2 cross-platform browsers out there...
...and, guess what, they're not called IE or Safari. No Linux version of Safari I see, leaving Firefox (OK, Seamonkey too I guess) and Opera as the only two browsers available on the three major desktop platforms (although Netscape 9 is apparently back on 3 platforms again in beta form afer outrageously becoming a Windows-only browser for version 8 - it's lost so much market share now that it's off the radar of almost everyone).
I tried out Safari on Windows and noticed a couple of things - 1. like IE7, I find it hard to get rid of just the Search box in the top right (it's bizarrely "welded" to the Address bar, so you have to ditch both or keep both!) and 2. the chrome is Mac-based (maybe there's an obvious way to change this?) making the browser look completely out of place on Windows (ironic that that's the charge most often levelled at Firefox on Mac OS X!).
I'll stick with Firefox - works on all 3 platforms and is far more customisable with extensions and themes than any other browser out there.
Highest rated, cheapest, but isn't the "winner"?
Is it just me or is this article's conclusion (that the Mac Pro wins) just ridiculous? Firstly, it's quite a pricey machine and secondly it isn't even the highest rated!
Why didn't the Acer win? It was rated 95% and costs a bargain 360 quid - it's clearly by far the best value for money, even if it just looks like any other desktop PC [and what's wrong with that - I look at the *screen* not the PC]. Is it just that the article's author thinks "shiny and pricey" = "the best"? What a shoddy effort all round here!
Since when is 650 smackers "reasonable"?
Title says it all - most people buying TV sets spend less than 650 quid, so why would anyone buy this extremely expensive HD DVD player that costs more than their TV set does? The reviewer has a complete cheek to call it "reasonably priced", when it's 200 quid more than a PS3 and about the same price as an XBox 360 + HD DVD, both of which clearly offer far better value for money than this unit.
Wake me up when a dual format HD DVD/Blu Ray standalone player costs 100 quid and a recorder for both formats costs 200 quid - only *then* will these standalone units gain any noticeable market share (note to clueless companies here - no-one with a sane brain will buy a single format player or recorder until the format war is over). And never mind the cost of both pre-recorded and blank recordable discs in both formats - both still overpriced, especially the blank discs, now that dual layer DVD 8.5GB blanks can be had for less than 1 pound each now.
Some supermarket stores have been selling twin tuner Freeview 160GB hard disk PVRs for 99 pounds - so that's double the tuners and double the hard disk space for one third of the price....Evesham don't stand a chance with their overpriced box!
HD capability is nice, but not much use if you don't have an HD TV signal to plug into it (clues here: Sky+ HD comes with a twin tuner PVR already, HD DVD/Blu Ray media and players are crazily pricey) and with HD Freeview transmissions being years away, this box has HD output with no free/cheap HD inputs available!
What we really need is:
* Twin-tuner Freeview built-in (or 3 tuners if you want to be greedy) - single-tuner Freeview PVRs are a complete joke in all cases now and should be removed from sale, IMHO.
* A large hard drive - hard disk drive prices are continually falling and capacities are going up, yet why do hard disk PVRs seem to have pitiful drive capacities? The entry level models should have at least 250GB now!
* Ways to record from and play back to a multiple of inputs and outputs, including wired Net, wireless Net, USB, Firewire and even SD cards. If you had all that, you could even forego a DVD player or recorder needing to be built in (i.e. use your PC to archive to DVD instead).
* No DRM restrictions! Including HDMI if you really must, but don't force it to be the only way to get HD resolution to your TV!
* Solid firmware - most PVRs on the market seem to have many serious flaws in their firmware (including the one in this review) and leave the public to be beta-testers for them. Example: Liteon's hard disk recorders have a fatal "hang entire unit at start of timer recording" bug that after 2 years and 7 or 8 firmware updates *still* hadn't fixed this massively critical bug.
I'd pay 300 pounds for a box with the above specs, but will we ever see such a beast here in the UK?
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