sábado, 31 de julio de 2010

Mandriva Powerpack: Upgrade or Fresh Install?

I recently bought the PowerPack of Mandriva 2010 Spring for my home desktop, which boots both with Windows XP and Mandriva 2010 (also Powerpack).

I placed the DVD on the tray and it prompted me for either an upgrade or an install. I chose "upgrade" and the process was going fine until I got an error message about a repository that was not available...then the upgrade went very slowly and got stuck.

So I started over and chose "install" this time. The process went on fast and I restarted the computer. The new Mandriva Spring Powerpack was working perfectly.
I noticed that Avidemux, the video editor was included, which made me very happy because I had problems to install it with Mandriva 2010.

On the other hand, I had a bad surprise when I turned on my printer-scanner (an Epson Stylus TX 200). The printer was enabled without problems, and it even had a new beautiful black icon. However, the scanner utility just refused to read the hardware.

After reading a bit, I learned that, apparently, there was a bug that prevented xscan from finding the scanner. Thus, I decided to roll-back to Mandriva 2010 and I got this combined 2010/2010.1 user interface. Interestingly, the scanner worked. I had to tweak the bar because the device notifier and other elements overlapped.

After thinking, I put back the Mandriva 2010.1 DVD on the tray and started the installation again. This time, I chose "upgrade" one more time. The process started off kind of slowly, but picked up speed and finished without any error messages. When I booted up the system, the computer came up with the beautiful Spring interface and it read the scanner perfectly.

What happened? Well, I have my hypotheses:

1. The internet connection has not been very stable lately because of multiple power surges. Maybe there was one during the first upgrade and that caused the failure to retrieve the repository.

2. I used a DVD unit that has been malfunctioning. As a matter of fact, Windows says it's already dead, but Linux let me use it almost normally.

3. My Mandriva 2010 desktop had many different software packages. Maybe that made the system unstable for upgrading.

Whatever the reason was, the computer is working perfectly now. It was a fraction of the price you pay for Windows and a fraction of the time you use for its installation, too. And I learned a lot by trying and solving the problems.

That's a good thing with Linux. You abandon passivity (my antivirus cannot get rid of this virus...My computer runs slowly... I have to format the HD periodically to be able to use the computer...Oh, well...)

It was definitely worth it.

lunes, 26 de julio de 2010

Graffiti hipotético anti-Linux

¿Qué pasaría si los sectores hegemónicos que ven su poder amenazado por Linux se volcaran a escribir graffiti? ¿O si lo hicieran quienes desconocen sobre Linux? Sin duda veríamos plasmadas en las paredes opiniones que escuchamos a diario.

¿Y si pudiéramos saber quiénes lo escribieron? Seguramente veríamos algo como esto:

¡NOSOTROS NOS QUEJAMOS DE LINUX!

1. "Linux es dañino para nuestro ecosistema." (Los virus informáticos)

2. "Yo jamás me podría adaptar a Linux; creo que es demasiado difícil. Aunque no soy muy bueno en tecnología, al menos puedo hacer cartas y ver mi correo electrónico. Jamás podría usar otra cosa que no sea Windows... Windows es lo más fácil que hay. Bueno, sólo mi celular es más fácil." (Un usuario mal informado que usa un celular con Android)

3. ¡No instale Linux! Yo lo instalé y era muy inestable. (Un usuario que creyó que todo Linux es Ubuntu y su experiencia no fue muy agradable)

4. ¿Yo, recomendar Linux? ¡Jamás! (Un técnico inescrupuloso que se gana la vida reparando los desastres causados en las computadoras por virus)

5. Linux es muy extraño...Tiene la barra arriba...(Un usuario con problemas de verticalidad)

6. ¿Quién puede tomar en serio un sistema operativo llamado "perrito" (Puppy)? (Un técnico serio y muy hábil con el "ratón").

7. En mi compañía me dijeron que Linux es una amenaza, así que mejor no lo uso. (Un empleado de Microsoft)

8. ¡Linux es una amenaza! (St. Ballmer)

sábado, 24 de julio de 2010

On Variety and Linux

Ernest Hemingway once said that one cat just leads to another. Somehow, the same happens with Linux: rarely is it that penguin lovers only try one distribution. Of course, the enormous variety of distributions can be frightening to beginners but, once they get over this initial reaction of confusion or fear, if they decide to learn, they benefit from the vast assortment that Linux provides. Yes, one Linux leads to another. Once you try several Linux distributions, you pick your favorite one and, in the process, you learn to navigate several other OSs. Today, that is TRULY A GOOD THING.

Of course, it has been argued that it is this same variety that scares potential migrants away from the free operating system. This idea is true up to a certain extent. First, Windows hegemony has been grounded on a myth that is beginning to fall: people once believed that the learning curve of a different-than-Windows OS was high. We know that Linux can be as friendly as any other OS. I have seen cases of computer users who made no progress in Windows, but once they got Linux, they felt more at ease when using their computers. On the other hand, Windows XP users have refused to adopt Vista 7 because they are also afraid of the learning curve. So, this idea that Linux is difficult to use is slowly fading away.

The other situation that is contributing to overthrow fear of options is fueled by Microsoft itself. Users who like to customize their systems have become frustrated with the rigidity of Windows 7 Starter or certain well-known problems that the latest MS OS displays, such as the auto-arrange Windows feature. In other words, the less-is-best policy that MS enforces does not seem to satisfy users anymore. Therefore, as users grow more experienced, they abandon this sense of fear of destroying the system if they tweak here and there. Hence, they demand OPTIONS. Options are the threshold of FREEDOM, one of the ideas that the Penguin OS champions.

Of course, recalcitrance is high. Some blame Ubuntu's flops for migrants that go back to Windows. However, even so, there are people who resist going back because of what Microsoft is doing (check the case of the restaurant manager here).

The stagnant adoption of Windows 7 and the possibility of Ballmer paying for it with his job prove that MS's hegemony is cracking up. The world is changing and Linux users are presently more prepared to face the advent of a new paradigm. Why? Well, in a post-globalized world, plurality is perceived as an opportunity, not as a disadvantage. Linux users can handle MORE than one operating system. One day, to get a job, having that ability will be as important as speaking a foreign language is.

In the OS World Championship, I'm rooting for Mandriva (FRANCE). Yet, I am typing this post from Linux Mint (Ireland)...And I love using Mepis (USA) and feel very comfortable with Pardus (Turkey). Yes, diversity ensures survival.

lunes, 19 de julio de 2010

Bye, Linux, I'm into Windows 7 Now!

Maybe some of you read my review on Mandriva 1010 Spring. If you did, you might remember how pleased I was with the performance of this beautiful OS. As a non-technical user, I encountered very few problems and I was delighted with the new Mandriva distribution because I could witness a small part of the long road of the developers' progress.

Mandriva fully introduced me to the world of Linux, a fascinating alternative paradigm. Thirsty for knowledge, I also tested several other distributions, visited communities, participated in forums, and read lots of wikis. I learned more about computers in a year than I had in over 10 years of experience as a user of Windows.

If you read some of my previous posts, you probably know how proud I felt when my Linux machine protected me from USB viruses and other everyday online threats. My chest expanded with happiness when my home computer was praised by Shields UP!, as described on this post by a beginner Linux user, just like I am.

However, my Linux experience is over. I have made up my mind and, yes, I'm going back to Windows. Why? Well, the answer is simple. Linux stands no chance against Windows 7. Nor does Mac OSX. Period. That's the plain truth coming from the wise lips of Kevin Turner and, as Mark Antony said in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, you cannot question him because Turner IS AN HONORABLE MAN.

I cannot deny that I had more positive experiences with Linux than I did with Windows. Yet, if Turner says Windows is superior, and HE IS AN HONORABLE MAN, I must believe him.

Lo! It is true that Turner works for Microsoft, but that condition will never steer his opinion either to the right or to the left, for he is unmoving as a Northern Star, and when he says Windows 7 is better because of a sales record, on his honor we trust that he took out all the pre-installed copies of Windows 7 from the figures. Counting them establishes unfair conditions for battle (Linux does not bend the arms of OEMs) and Turner must have known that, for HE IS AN HONORABLE MAN.

What has Linux done for us, I ask? It has rescued my Windows computer and those of people I know from the dark pits of uselessness. But Turner, an honest man, says that Linux is useless. With his statement he suggests that it was the user's incompetence that kept stalling the computer, not Windows, and he knows and he is truthful and honorable.

SO, I AM BUYING WINDOWS 7. Only I am not doing it RIGHT AWAY. I will buy it when Turner can guarantee on his job that I can use Windows 7 to go online without an antivirus for a year, without ANY FURTHER DOWNLOAD, and my HD remains pristine, for today SECURITY is one indispensable condition of a SUPERIOR OS. In the meantime, I am going to use 42% of the $140 Windows 7 Home Premium license to buy Mandriva Spring Powerpack and then I am going to support other Linux-related projects with the rest.

UPDATE:
Truth hurts. Read Shakespeare ;-)

sábado, 17 de julio de 2010

What does it all mean?

This is a string of facts that led me to several questions for which I lack a proper answer. However, since I do not fear the curse of philosophers, here they go:

A. THE FIRST PUBLIC LINUX COMPUTER

Although I personally dislike Canonical, I must confess that, to say the least, it was heartwarming to see a public computer displaying Ubuntu's aubergine desktop for the first time. I ran into it by coincidence as I was having lunch in a very small cafeteria near my house. It is the first non-Windows computer I have run into in my city and, of course, I felt happy because I found ONE LINUX system in the open at last.

When I mentioned the fact to the manager, a man over sixty, his reply made me think about something that is boiling in developing countries, a side-effect of Microsoft's licenses policy that is doing a disservice to Ballmer's cause: lawsuits on piracy. The manager of this small business said to me that he had installed Linux on the cafeteria's public computer "because it was important to protect himself against piracy". Honestly, I would have expected a reply that went more on the line of "I need to protect my computer against viruses", but his answer revealed his business wisdom to me. As a costumer, I was concerned for computer security. Yet, as the manager, he was concerned about staying on business. This man had it clear that a virus that can destroy a $2000 computer would inflict a minor harm to his investment but, if had he installed Windows 7 illegally, the possibilities for his blooming business to go through the drain would have been extremely high. How can he survive one of the choking lawsuits that Microsoft wages? Therefore, he decided that, if his costumers need to browse the web or to quick-type a document, Linux provides him a win-win solution. And it makes sense because this man's reasoning grants him an indirect advantage: his computer will spend less time in service.

Can this become a new trend, something that Microsoft itself spawned and was not expecting?

Update: Because of certain glitches, the manager says that he feels inclined to switch to... Linux MINT!

B. DELL AND UBUNTU

Dell certainly knows about the security facts described above, as does any Linux user. However, the ambivalent policy that Dell keeps undermines its Linux partner, Canonical. I mean, Dell did advertise that Ubuntu was SAFER than Windows but, maybe because of hidden pressure from Redmond, the statement on the Dell site was modified to read "UBUNTU IS SAFE" (read about it here).

This is interesting because Dell mostly sells computers running Windows. They were saying "Ubuntu is safer than Windows...don't you want to buy a Windows computer from us? No? Well, there's always Ubuntu." Very motivating...

Dell's INVISIBLE LINUX discourse is not helping anyone. I thought they had figured it out by now.

Who are they trying to please...Canonical, Microsoft, or costumers?


C. POPULARITY AND MANDRIVA

Along with this thread of INVISIBLE LINUX, I noticed that, a little after the Spring release, Mandriva stayed at the top of visit count on Distrowatch for three days. I am currently using this distro and I cannot hide the fact that I love it. Nevertheless, knowing that the company that develops it was on the verge of extinction, one cannot help but ask two questions:

Is Mandriva SA actually devising a strategy to effectively advertise their great distribution?

What will happen to Mandriva (the distribution) in the future?


D. FREE INTERNET ACCESS FOR EVERYONE!

I heard on the news that a congress person proposed this project to grant free internet access to all Costa Ricans as a way to help in the development of the country. This is an ambitious measure that is backed up by studies that show that education and opportunities have a positive impact on societies. Well, that sounds great but the government is actually fighting the main universities because of budget issues. So, we have contradictory policies here: the government wants people to have access to tools, but it is reducing the opportunities for the institutions that can contribute to the education of people and, therefore, to the development of the country. But is this realistic? After all, if all Costa Ricans eventually get free access to Internet, the measure will be useless unless citizens can get an affordable computer with an OS and, obviously, a browser!

I blame the government for their ignorance. However, they are politicians, so what can you expect? But I also blame national universities for their ambivalence. Take the University of Costa Rica, for instance. They spend a lot of money on licenses for Microsoft to have the gigantic administrative apparatus working (letters, memos, emails, etc). The actual President of the Republic, Ms. Laura Chinchilla, once proposed the reduction of state costs by introducing a project favoring OPEN SOURCE in government institutions. The University of Costa Rica could do the same. This is a good time to promote Linux here in Costa Rica, right, Mandriva?

Why doesn't the University of Costa Rica promote Linux and Open Source if the institution is facing budget cuts?
-------------------------------------------------------------------

I think that, whether or not these questions remain unanswered, time will tell. What I know is that these are changing times and we need to break away from old paradigms to be able to face the future. You read about changes everywhere: the slow decline of traditional industries (music & software, for instance), the foreseen death of the PC and the advent of the tablet, the flux from the desktop to mobile devices and back, the cloud... In other words, the world is changing and people must change with it.

What does it all mean? Making stereotypes aside, these are times in which a sixty-something restaurant manager decides to install an alternative OS and knows that there are other Linux choices out there to experiment with. So, do you still believe that the younger generations will be like us, who grew up under the spell of Microsoft and knew Windows and nothing else?

I believe that, in the 21st Century, thanks to the post-global reality of developing countries, people will need to speak more than two languages to land a job...and they will have to know how to operate a computer using MORE than a single operating system as well. I remember the days in which including "Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Internet" in a CV would give the candidate an edge. Today, that impresses no one, but try "Experience with GNU/Linux operating systems" and let's see how that goes.

lunes, 12 de julio de 2010

Computer Paranoia

I've seen how people who were paralyzed by fear when using a computer (even after taking formal courses on Windows) liberated themselves when Linux was installed on their machines. Since the general idea is that Linux is a more difficult OS than Windows, the explanation to this mystery had eluded me until today, when I reviewed all the security programs that I, as a Windows user, kept for some peace of mind.

Of course, in my Windows days, I had an antivirus that I trusted...until the infamous Sircam deleted my thesis. So I got another AV, but there were lots of viruses that could fool it and I just accepted that reality. Everybody would recommend an antivirus program to me and I obediently tried a good many, but all of them failed. I also had an anti-spybot solution, anti-malware software, a zombie monitor, a firewall, additional antivirus programs for specific USB threats, a browser hijacker antidote, and I used to run scans of those every time I thought my computer was acting up, which was pretty much every single day. That was living in an absolute state of paranoia!

No wonder why people might feel uneasy when they approach a computer. They have been bombarded by all the messages telling them that there is danger everywhere: online, in USBs, in PDFs, in crashing code...and this negative expectation becomes a pending sword on their heads that certainly does not motivate them to learn about the OS, to do their banking online, or to work peacefully with a computer.

The only lesson you actually learn from this situation is that you cannot trust any security program, so you (tembling) turn on your computer, work with fear, and hope you can finish your session without any problem; all of which becomes magnified when you have to do a bank transaction online...And, if you must do it from a computer that is not your own, the worries fall on your head like the furious ice pellets of a merciless hail storm.

For those people who switched from Windows to Linux, the latter OS took a great deal of stress away from computer usage. Yes, I know that Penguin bashers are going to claim that Linux can also be targeted by threats and that, if one is careful, Windows can be very secure, too. However, we know that, in Windows, the chance of getting hit is high whereas, in Linux, the opportunity for you to be attacked is drastically reduced. We know that security in Windows is a joke, so you can never be too careful. You must protect yourself against spyware, malware, viruses, you name it. We know as a fact that your protection has to be updated everyday to be effective, so we go back to paranoia and this tight chest that cannot let us breathe as we turn the computer on. And, once you get hit, well, that's the end of the show. Recovery can be painful and you have a lot to lose. Your valuable information gets compromised because, if they stumble, technicians (at least in my country) will always end up formatting your HD... Thus, you pay them for destroying your data! I'm pretty sure that some of them know that Linux can solve your problems but, obviously, they won't tell you.

Do you want a real solution for those problems? Then go to this page and read carefully. Yes, Portable Linux IS the answer. Not only is it cheaper (it's hard to beat free), but you can also rescue your own system. Believe me: you can save your data (both from viruses and lazy technicians). You can get back to work quickly and do your banking online confidently. You can live without the fear of viruses, spyware, crashes, and zombie computers. You take off your chest that prickly sensation of anguish when you haven't updated your "protection" software. And most importantly, you can get rid of this computer paranoia that prevents many users from enjoying the time they spend in front of a PC.

jueves, 8 de julio de 2010

Mandriva 2010 Spring: A Review for Newbies

(For a list of the problems I have found so far, go to the log here)

Yesterday, Mandriva 2010.1 (Spring) was released after a rather long wait that kept many people wondering if there was going to be a new Mandriva after "Adelie" . Since I had the opportunity to download the ONE version (KDE), I immediately installed it on my Dell Mini Inspiron V Netbook to test it.

In this initial review, I will share with you what I found. Now, before you continue reading, let me warn you that I am no computer guru, technician, software engineer, or the like. I am a simple computer user who got fed up with the formatting ritual and the multiple threats of Windows. I want to write this to people who do not know a lot about computers in the language they can understand. This is not a technical review; these are the honest impressions of a simple user. So please do not expect me to get into the intricate world of technicalities; I only want to say what a common mortal such as myself saw.

What's New?
Well, the first novelty that I saw is the option to install the OS from the GRUB (the screen that lets you choose which OS you want to use to boot up the computer). That is certainly more convenient because, in previous releases, you had to run the system before to be able to install it. However, I decided to run the Live CD anyway to see how it performed. I'm sure there are more novelties, but this one was the most obvious for the untrained eyes of mine.

A. Start up time:
From the Live CD, the distro took a rather long time to allow me interact with the OS (3 min, 50 sec to present the screen for language choice). From there, I got the usual options (language, locale, keyboard to use, time). After that, the system did its thing until I could finally use it. The total start up time until I saw the Mandriva Galaxy window and the system was ready for use was 4 min, 45 sec. This might look excessive, but the OS is not installed, so, as a user, I utter no complaint. I did notice that there was no windows telling me what Akonadi was doing. (Don't worry; I don't know what that is, either :-P). Should I miss it? :-/

B. Functionality:
1. The USB drive was working perfectly (beautified, larger icons, integrated options) and displayed the available space on the device. It is placed to the bottom right, so Windows users will find it more familiar.
2. The audio with Amarok was fine (I played a wave file; it was OK). However, I couldn't play any MP3 files as the OS needs the codecs (which are provided when you install the system, so don't worry).
3. The effects worked great! I activated the Kwin cube and the screen borders. Everything worked perfectly. The best part was that the process for placing different wallpapers on each side of the cube became a matter of two clicks. This, in Mandriva 2010 ("Adelie"), was a headache because the plasma environment wouldn't obey you. Now, Mandriva managed to tame it, which I truly appreciate. You also get identified icons for your folders (videos, documents, music, downloads, images)
4. There is a possibility to switch the desktop interface (the one with a menu) to a simpler, yet strikingly beautiful, netbook appearance. However, if you enable it and then go back to the desktop appearance with the menu, the Kwin animated cube gets messed up. I mean, you can still have all the functionalities of the four desktops, but there is no turning animation; instead of the spinning cube, you see the main screen of the netbook interface when you change each desktop. You solve this little problem by rebooting, but since I was testing the Live CD, I just did not mind. UPDATE: I tested the netbook interface once that the OS was installed and the problem described above does not occur. Actually, it was mind-boggling to see that minimal interface interacting with the Kwin effects (the screen edges activated the "desktop grid", the "show desktop", and even the cube perfectly!)
5. The distribution comes with Firefox 3.6.6 as the web browser (you also get Konqueror), Kopete for instant messaging and, this time, it has SCIM. Yay! (This is the IME for working with other languages, such as Japanese, Thai, Korean). Update: After installing the corresponding software (packages and its dependencies), the IME works fine. マンドリバは日本語ができるよ。I cannot seem to make it work in Open Office, though, so I used Abiword for documents in Japanese. I can input Japanese text in Web pages without any problem.
6. The Card Reader works perfectly and the wi-fi detected the available signals as expected. Connecting was as simple as ever.

C. Installation:
I rebooted and chose the installation without getting into the OS. The process went on smoothly; you get the partition wizard, etc. When I reached the stage of the GRUB installation, I noticed that it now offers you the opportunity to protect the GRUB with a password. I tried it, but it wouldn't let me because that feature does not work with a graphical installation...Well, not that I cared much, anyway. In general, the installation process did not change a lot: it is pretty intuitive and as user-friendly as it gets. I hooked the computer to a wired Internet connection and it pick it up without any need of my intervention. The whole thing lasted less than 25 minutes.

D. Booting with Mandriva Spring installed
After the installation, the OS took 1 min and 10 seconds to have the computer ready to work. That's fast enough for me, who used to wait more than 4 minutes for my Windows system to let me use the computer (when it was in a good mood, of course). They replaced the visual spinning circle (nice, but not very functional); so now you see a combination of a bar and a "verbose" process.
Update: I also booted the computer with the Netbook interface. The time is reduced a bit (10 seconds less).

E. Limitations
I consider this new release a great OS for netbooks, as it runs efficiently and, although it looks beautiful, performance has not been sacrificed. I must install it to a laptop and desktop to see how it performs but, judging from my previous experience with Mandriva 2010, I expect no problem. However, I would not recommend using Mandriva 2010 Spring Live CD as RESCUE tool. Well, let me clarify: If our Windows computer breaks and you need to check your email, or create a document, this distro will save your day. However, as the Live CD does not include a CD burner (you get it when you install the OS) and it blocks access to other partitions, Mandriva Live CD will not be good to back up or modify documents in your Windows partition. If that is what you want, I suggest you to use SimplyMepis instead. Nevertheless, if you install Mandriva to keep your system as a dual-boot, you will be able to access your other partitions and back up documents from the Mandriva partition without any problem.

FINAL REMARK

There was a time in which Mandriva was considered a somewhat "intermediate" Linux distribution. In 2009, when I started using it, I found it slightly "difficult". However, with the 2010 release, I have noticed how the distro has been oriented to the ease of use. I'm not saying that it is easy, as no OS is, but I must confess that I perceive less entanglement now. So, today I can confidently recommend beginners to install it as their debut distro in the fascinating world of Linux.

Even though we had to wait a bit more to have this distribution, in the eyes of a simple user, the waiting was worth it. Now I have to keep exploring to discover all the new possibilities (see updates). As a non-technical Linux user, my deepest gratitude to all who made Mandriva 2010 Spring a reality!

I created a page to log the different issues I might encounter and ways to solve them (or circumvent them if I cannot solve them) here.

UPDATE: Yesterday, I installed Mandriva 2010 Spring on a desktop to test how the OS performs there. I will post the issues on the log above.

martes, 6 de julio de 2010

The Long Awaited Release of Mandriva 2010 Spring

Mandriva 2010.1 (Spring) has stirred a lot of emotions among the supporters of this great Linux distribution. Those understandable reactions, ranging from anxiety to effervescent volcanic wrath, have been recorded in several threads in the Mandriva Community Chat Forum.

Even the loyal people at MIB, who provide the nice count-down timer, joined the protests after so much uncertainty about the release and added the graffiti-style message replacing "to be released" by "should be released" to the counter. This was the effect of so many changes on the release date (the count-down was showing 23 hours yesterday;today in the morning, it had gone back to 1 day, 14 hours, and, at 9:15 PM today, it was showing 2 hours, 43 minutes... So what can you expect?)

Seeing that Mandriva S.A. has become some sort of a Darth-Maulish entity for the community and that the Chat Forum (to which I can perceive as the Death Star, no pun intended) is boiling with the emotions that Darth Vader was urging Luke to let loose, I think it is better to stay away from the community for a while and wait until Adelie decides to take her stroll on her brand new Spring clothes. I hope she does not come out as a Lady Sith, hahaha!

At least, this volatile compound of anxiety and anger proves that MANY people care for Mandriva, and that's certainly good.

UPDATES:
1. The counter has changed again. It seems that Spring will be out today in the evening.
2. I cannot keep away from the community! They always find ways to have you back, such as the nice banner I'm showing on top of the blog (THANKS, SKIPPER!)
3. Mandriva Spring is called FARMAN, named after the first aviator (Again, thanks Skipper)

lunes, 5 de julio de 2010

Gems Found Going Down the Road

I have picked up two remarkable stones down this one-year road of using Mandriva. They are two little gems of truth that have shaped my thoughts and have redefined my interaction with computers.

A. There is no such a thing as an easy OS.

Regardless of their preference, users will have to learn, sometimes by trial and error, how to work the OS of their choice. Of course, after walking the same road for a period of time, we believe that our OS is easy to use. This is a mirage created by long exposure to the sun of practice. I see that some of you doubt my words. Well, let's run a quick challenge then: If you are a Windows user who claims that Windows is easier to use than Linux, tell me... What do you need to do to get rid of the "nice.exe" virus? Remember that antivirus programs fail to remove it and you have to do it manually.

In Windows, the process goes like this:

1. Temporarily Disable System Restore.
2. Reboot computer in Safe Mode.
3. Locate nice.exe virus files and uninstall nice.exe files program. Follow the screen step-by-step screen instructions to complete uninstallation of nice.exe.
4. Open the registry editor.
5. Delete/Modify any values added to the registry related with nice.exe.
6. Exit registry editor and restart the computer.
7. Clean/delete all nice.exe infected files :nice.exe and related,or rename nice.exe virus files
8. Delete all your IE temp files with nice.exe manually.
9. Run a whole scan with antivirus program.
10. Run the antivirus program in your USB drive.

Very easy, right? The process can take more than an hour (that is, if you know where to start!)

In Mandriva Linux, you say good-bye to Mr. Nice by doing this:

1. Select nice.exe from your USB drive.
2. Delete it. If you get a message saying you cannot do it,
3. Change the permissions of the file and delete it.

That's it... Less than a minute. Which one looks easier to you?
Of course, if we talk about installing a program you downloaded from the internet, nothing will beat the "next, next, next, reboot" formula you get in Windows.

B. Decisions will always have to be made
In Linux, decision-making starts from the moment in which you consider using Linux. "What distribution is right for me?" is, doubtless, the Queen of questions. But that question can fork, too. Take the case of Mandriva, for instance. Which version? Free, One (that is also free), of PowerPack? And then, do you want 2010 or 2010.1? Freedom to choose can be a pretty confusing experience when you have a large assortment and little information...

Windows users might be laughing at this dilemma while they think that they do not have that problem because "everything comes bundled in Windows". WRONG. Let us see some typical decisions Windows users can face once they made up their minds regarding an upgrade of their Windows 7 Starter OS: "Do I want Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional, or Ultimate ($120, $200, $220, respectively)? And then the clerk approaches, all smiles: "Do you want an MS Office suit to go with that, sir? We offer you Office 2007 Basic, which includes powerpoint, Home&Student (no powerpoint with that one), or Standard. We also have Small Business (with publisher), and Ultimate."

Maybe you prefer not to complicate your life. Hence, you forget about Office 2007 and settle for the brand-new Office 2010. Then your options are Starter (no powerpoint, publisher, outlook), Home&Student, Home&Business, Standard, Professional, or Professional Plus...Your call now.

In Linux, after deciding which distribution you prefer, you DO GET all the software (office suite included) in one installation that happens to be free most of the times.

Thus, the reality about operating systems is that they are called as such because they help the computer to operate, but they must be OPERATED by the user who, liking it or not, must make decisions and will have to learn how to run the computer. Therefore, we are still very far away from a truly easy, free-from-hassle OS, my friends...

Popularity... or Performance?

Since Microsoft is not being very nice to XP users, I decided to check on some issues a person can have when migrating from dear old XP onto the shiny 7 OS.

This is what I discovered:

1. Remember that you must run a clean install, which means that your HD has to be erased. Some people are saying that this lack of upgrading compatibility is Microsoft's revenge on you for rejecting Vista.

2. Under 7, some users have reported problems with XP compatibility mode. This means that some of your programs might crash.

3. Make sure you can locate ALL of your drivers for Windows 7. So get ready for a good driver hunt...

4. If you have a laptop, CONSIDER THE BATTERY ISSUE.

Regarding #4, I even read there a post of a person instructing users on how to check the status of the battery first... using UBUNTU LINUX!

Can MS go any lower??

sábado, 3 de julio de 2010

Nueva brecha de seguridad en Windows: Microsoft

¡Windows XP se encuentra en este momento BAJO ATAQUE! Pero no se preocupen. Microsoft les brindará apoyo...¿O tal vez no?

Mucho se ha dicho sobre por qué Linux is inherentemente más seguro que Windows. No obstante, después de leer este post (del 1 de julio, 2010, en inglés) de PC Advisor, me percaté que, hoy, los problemas de seguridad en Windows pueden estar siendo promovidos por Microsoft. De hecho, la política de seguridad de la compañía tiene más que ver con el modelo de negocios de Microsoft que con su apoyo a los clientes.

Mientras los usuarios de Windows XP le confiaron la seguridad de sus equipos al emporio del software, que prometió brindar apoyo para XP hasta 2014, la peculiar respuesta de Microsoft para resolver el problema revela varios hechos interesantes.

1. Microsoft recibió la información con bastante anticipación, pero permaneció relativamente en silencio hasta que el problema se dio a conocer públicamente y fue explotado a gran escala. ¿Por qué razón Microsoft no se apresuró a corregir la situación? ¿Fue acaso falta de interés? ¿O por intereses en conflicto?

2. Microsoft le dijo a los usuarios el 10 de junio que ellos mismos deberían resolver el problema y publicó en línea un "manual" para este propósito. Es importante hacer hincapié en que el problema se encuentra en el Centro de Ayuda y Apoyo de Windows, que es un servicio automático que los usuarios promedio no pueden controlar. Con el fin de corregir el desperfecto, se esperaba que los usuarios hicieran el trabajo sucio de edición del registro de Windows. ¿Por qué la compañía le dio la posibilidad al usuario de entrar al registro y desordenarlo? Abrir esa puerta implica, para la mayoría de los usuarios, correr el riesgo de arruinar sus sistemas. ¿No le corresponde a Microsoft corregir el problema? ¿O acaso la compañía varió su política y ahora trata de "educar" a los usuarios de Windows en cómo operar las entrañas de su sistema operativo?

Me parece que esta situación pone de manifiesto cuánto le importan a Microsoft sus leales usuarios. La gente enciende su computadora confiadamente, sientiéndose protegida por el gigante de Redmond. El mensaje no es tan difícil de comprender: MICROSOFT DESEA QUE ATAQUEN A LOS USUARIOS DE WINDOWS XP. La compañía quiere, estimado usuario de XP, que a usted lo ahoguen los virus y los problemas. De esta forma, cuando usted busque una solución, probablemente será usted mismo quien genere más conflictos en su sistema. Usted morirá por su propia espada.

Claro, todo lo anterior lo llevará a pagar por Windows 7, que incrementará las ventas de dicho sistema. ¡Admirable modelo de negocios es éste que Microsoft ha creado! Qué mal que, dentro de este paradigma, vender un sistema operativo es más importante que brindarle seguridad o apoyo a los clientes.

Puede que los usuarios de Windows 7 sonrían y piensen, "A mí no me importa. Yo uso Windows 7 de todas formas." Bien, eso es absolutamente cierto. Sólo espero que usted pueda permanecer con tanta confianza una vez que Microsoft ponga a la venta Windows 8.

Y la gente aún duda de usar Linux...

viernes, 2 de julio de 2010

New Windows Security Breech: Microsoft!

Dear Windows XP user, listen:

Windows XP is NOW UNDER ATTACK! But don't worry. Microsoft has got your back...Or maybe not?

A lot has been said about why Linux is inherently more secure than Windows. However, after reading this post (dated July 1, 2010) from PC Advisor, I realized that, right now, the security problems in Windows can actually be promoted by Microsoft. In fact, the security policy of the company has to do more with its business model than it does with costumer support.

While Windows XP users entrusted the security of their systems to the software emporium, which vowed support for XP until 2014, Microsoft's peculiar response to fix the problem reveals certain interesting facts.

1. Microsoft got the information way in advance, but remained relatively silent until the problem was disclosed and exploited publicly. Why didn't Microsoft hurry to correct the situation? Lack of interest, maybe? Or conflictive interests?

2. Microsoft told users in June 10 that they had to fix the problem themselves and released a "manual" for that purpose. Now, the problem was found in Windows Help and Support Center, automatic services that average users normally cannot control. To solve the issue, users were expected to get their hands dirty editing the Windows registry. Why was the company asking users to mess up with the registry? Doing so implies, for most Windows users, running the risk of actually destroying their systems. Doesn't Microsoft have the obligation to correct the issue in the first place? Or is it that the company switched policies and is now "educating" Windows users on how to dissect their operating system?

I believe this shows how much Microsoft cares for their loyal Windows users, who turn on their computers with confidence, feeling protected by the Redmond giant. The message is not so difficult to grasp: MICROSOFT WANTS WINDOWS XP USERS TO BE ATTACKED. They want you, XP user, to be victimized by viruses or exploits. This way, when you look for a solution, you are likely to inflict more damage to your system yourself. So you die by your own hand.

All this leads you to end up paying for Windows 7, which will certainly give Windows 7 sales a boost. What a nice business model Microsoft has created! Too bad that, in this paradigm, selling a new OS is more important than either security or support for costumers.

Windows 7 users might grin and think, "I don't care. I have 7 anyway." Well, that's absolutely true. I hope you can remain as confident once Microsoft releases Windows 8.

And people still hesitate to use Linux...