Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Neverball, fun game.

Neverball is a nice game where you tilt the floor with your mouse. By tilting the floor you direct the ball towards a certain direction. There are lots of cool levels and they get harder as you play. A time limit is imposed so not only do you have to balance the ball but also watch your time. The game is very addictive and fun. Graphics are 3D and the physics are also pretty cool. Neverball works on Linux, Windows and Mac OS. Check out Neverball website here.

Synapse IM

Synapse is a relatively new instant messenger client for Linux. It is still in the alpha stage but looks very nice. There doesn't seem to be any updates on the site so I am not sure what is going on. Hopefully the project is still being worked on. Check out the Synapse IM website here.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Power to the user.

One great thing about Linux is that it gives a tremendous amount of power to the user. With Linux you choose one of the many great distributions that fits your needs. You can choose a distro that is filled with software or one that is lean and basic. You can modify almost anything on Linux from the GUI to the code itself. It all depends on your level of expertise or the amount of work you would like to put in. If you are just a casual Linux user there are many distributions that will work right out of the box. Others require some tweaking and setting up. However, the most important thing is that no one dictates to you what you can or cannot do. You can modify and edit almost everything. You can even create your own flavour of Linux if you choose to. The end user has a huge amount of power with Linux. No constraints or limitations, just pure freedom. With proprietary software and operating systems you do not have this freedom. You are limited by the company behind them and they are the ones who dictate the rules to you. Linux is about empowering the user and giving them freedom and choice over their software. This is crucial because a lot of companies will not take the user interests as a priority but they will rather concantrate on the amount of money a product can earn them. They will try to get as much from the user as possible and only give as little as they have to. The more limitations and constraints they place on you, the more you become dependent on their software and brand. They want to lock you in so that you will have no choice but to stay with their brand and continue to use their applications. The cost of proprietary software is high and some are just a huge money grab. It is important not to give the power to the companies but instead to the users of a product. Linux is excellent in this because the user has tremendous power. Freedom and open source are a great concept.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Tip for Software companies.

It amazes me that so many times people who are in charge of large and small software companies make dumb decisions. They get nice salaries but often make decisions that come back and bite them. One good strategy for any large or small company that is lagging behind on the PC or Mac OS market is to create software for GNU/Linux. Linux is growing as a platform and has millions of users. This is an emerging market with great potential. Linux still lacks certain software, especially professional applications such as video editing and many others. There are several projects that found a huge following under the GNU/Linux platform but were not as popular under Windows or Mac OS. It is a great strategy to start creating software for GNU/Linux to gain an advantage over your competition and to gain market share. Also, to be the first in an emerging market such as Linux can prove to be very advantages and beneficial in the long run. Software companies should get their foot into the door of  the Linux world before other large companies come along and reap a lot of benefits.

There are a lot of arguments that might be limiting software companies to get into Linux. One is that the GNU/Linux platform market share is too small and not worth getting into. However, because Linux is growing and gaining momentum you could find yourself left behind while other great software projects will take over your market. It is essential to be there before your competition. Currently, the Linux market is around 2% on the desktop but that is definitely increasing. The first company into an emerging market usually has the upper hand.

Another argument is that GNU/Linux is open source and there is not much money in it. It is true that Linux is open source and majority of the applications are as well. However, Linux runs proprietary software and there are many that are popular. Certain professional software will probably never be open source but the need is still there and people are willing to pay. Users of Linux have money and are willing to buy software that is of an excellent quality and will enable them to create professional projects, because they are still saving money in the long run.

In conclusion, the GNU/Linux platform is growing and it is beneficial for large and small software creators to get into the market before their competition does. This will give them an upper hand and will give them a new market to flourish in. Many people who use Linux are willing to purchase proprietary and open source software, especially if it is of a good quality and for professional use. Just because the Linux market is only 2%, it should not be overlooked, as it is an emerging market with great growth potential. Many applications have found popularity under GNU/Linux while not being so successful on Windows or the Mac OS platform.

What software companies do you think could get an upper hand or a business advantage if they started creating their software for GNU/Linux?

The Spread of Linux

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Cheese Webcam Application

With Cheese you can use your webcam to take pictures and videos. It is open source licensed under the GNU general public license and was created by Daniel G. Siegel in 2007. There are also many effects that you can apply to your videos and pictures. Since version 2.22.0 Cheese is part of the Gnome project. It is a nice little application if you have a webcam and want to share your videos and pictures with friends. Check out their website.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Why have you switched to GNU/Linux?

There are many reasons to switch to GNU/Linux. When I started out with computers Microsoft Windows already came pre-installed. I was not aware that another platform was possible. I used Windows but later on I started questioning it. A lot of the applications that came with Windows were a 30 day trial that expired or required me to purchase a full version just to use something that I though was basic. Also, I couldn't use certain files that I wanted to. I searched for alternatives and I installed Openoffice.org, VLC media player, GIMP later on Firefox and additional free and open source software. I was amazed how good these applications were. I questioned how come these applications didn't come pre-installed on my desktop? Why does Microsoft Windows bombard you with all these things you don't want or need? It seems like Microsoft was using their monopoly to push you into a certain product or direction. I was happy with my new software and learned about open source. I wanted other people to know about these alternatives and that they are available to them. However, even though I replaced a lot of the software to free and open source the platform I was still using was Microsoft Windows. I started to search for an alternative. I looked into Mac's but they were not for me. Then, I stumbled upon GNU/Linux and thought the idea of an open source operating system was amazing. I tried out several distributions and was impressed. It took me a while to understand how things work but then I liked the fact that I learned so much about computers. For the last seven years I have been using Linux and am very happy with it. I like the freedom it gives me and that I can modify almost anything on it. I am free from Microsoft Windows and I get to choose which software I want to install on my computer.

I would like this article to be more interactive and hear your opinion as to why you have switched to GNU/Linux. Did you do it for politics, cost, freedom, open source or other? How did you come to learn about Linux and what is your impression of it? Would you recommend it to other people? Let us know in the comments section below.

Slackware Linux

Slackware is a free and open source operating system. It is one of the earliest and currently maintained distribution of GNU/Linux. Slackware was released in 1993 and the creator is Patrick Volkerding. Slackware is one of the most "Unix" like Linux distributions. The focus is on design stability and simplicity. The latest release version of Slackware is 13.0. The Slackware distribution is definitely not the most user friendly for beginners but it is a very good distro. If you are looking to expand your knowledge of GNU/Linux than try out Slackware. It has a long history and a very strong following. Slackware is reliable, stable and has good performance. The latest release 13.0 has support for 64 bit architecture. The installation is text based and Slackware uses the KDE 4.0 graphical desktop enviornment. To download Slackware go to their website. Just don't forget that it is not the most user friendly distribution to start off with for new people to GNU/Linux.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mac computers are restrictive.

Now that University classes have started I see a lot of students with new Apple laptops. It seems that half of the student population own a Mac. Few years back you would never see so many Apple computers as you do today on campus. Mac's are definitely very popular especially with the University crowd. I do understand that Apple is very good at marketing their products. There is a big appeal to the Apple brand as cool and chic. I am amazed how huge Mac's have become. It seems that a lot of people want to get their hands on these sleek and aesthetically attractive computers. In a certain way I am happy that Apple is having such success because they are taking market share away from Microsoft Windows. However, I am not sure if this is all a good thing. The GNU/Linux community is always getting at Microsoft and we seldom talk about Apple. I personally think that Apple computers might be a bad direction that we are heading into. Yes, Mac's are very cool and stylish but coming from the free and open source software community Apple is wrong on many levels. Most of the Apple software is proprietary, expensive and restrictive to the user. Not only is Apple very protective about its market they often mistreat others who would like a chance as well. They have banned a lot of applications from the app store for the most ridiculous reasons. The success of Apple computers is good in a certain way but detrimental to the free and open source community. Apple not only creates its own software but also all the hardware. It controls almost everything in the manufacturing process. Microsoft Windows on the other hand is just an operating system and the hardware is provided from someone else. This distributes the power to several companies.

Personally I am not very happy that people are easily manipulated and are jumping on the fad of having a Mac. It does not give them freedom as an end user and costs way too much. A person is buying into the brand rather than actual need of the user. There are amazing PC laptop computers that you can buy for $600 comparing to Apple latops that are usually around $1300 and more. Apple computers are overpriced, proprietary, restrictive and protectionist. This might not be a good direction to be heading into. Could Apple prove to be even more restrictive and opressive than Microsoft?

I would like to hear your opinion on the success of Apple. It seems that Mac's are selling like hot cakes and the market share is increasing quite a bit. Do you think this is good or a bad thing for the free and open source community?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Linus Torvalds

Linus Torvalds was born in Helsinki, Finland Dec. 28, 1969. He was the creator of the Linux kernel which he started in 1991. Linus released the kernel under GNU GPL. Today he is the linux project coordinator. He personally wrote about 2% of the Linux kernel himself but there are thousands of people who contribute. He has been called the benevelont dictator of Linux. He is not as political as Richard Stallman and usually focuses on the workings of the Linux kernel rather than free and open source software politics. Torvalds is the one who also chose the Penguin as a mascot for Linux. Linus owns the trademark for Linux in the U.S. Torvalds also has his own blog and you can check it out here. It is nice that Linus has released his kernel under the GNU GPL. He even mentioned that releasing the Linux Kernel under the GNU general public license is one of the best things he did. Thank you Linus for starting the Linux kernel project.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Top IM clients for Linux.

Instant Messaging is an easy and convenient way to stay in touch with people. Here is a list of good IM applications for GNU/Linux.

Kopete - Multi protocol support

Pidgin - Universal chat client

Emesene - Great MSN messenger client

Empathy -  Supports text, voice and video

aMSN - free and open source MSN messenger client

Mercury - Java/MSN application

Psi - Cross platform Jabber Client

Kmess - Another MSN messenger for Linux

Skype - Instant Messaging and VOIP

If you know of others that are good please leave them in the comments section below.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Its about the market share.

Some people argue that the market share of an OS is not very important and that we should not try to switch people over to GNU/Linux. They argue that the GNU/Linux project is fine with the small market share it currently has. According to me, the market share of an OS is very crucial and we need to get more people on board.

The Linux market share today is around two percent on desktop computers and slowly growing. In contrast, Windows is around eighty eight percent and Mac OS is nine percent. The more people use a particular OS the more they all benefit as a community. GNU/Linux has been marginalized for a very long time because its market share is negligible. Software and hardware manufacturers were able to ignore Linux in the past but today things seem to be shifting slightly. Now that GNU/Linux is being adopted by more users you can see that companies and people are taking notice. A lot more software and hardware is being created for GNU/Linux and people are realizing that there is a huge potential in this expanding market.

If GNU/Linux would be able to get a larger market share on the desktop, lets say around ten or fifteen percent, it would be a huge win for the community. Not only would it show that we are doing something right but companies would have to create software and hardware that is compatible with Linux. The larger the market share, the more support for the operating system we would have. People would demand certain products for Linux and companies would have no choice but to oblige or lose to competition. With a larger market share we would have more clout and leverage against large and established companies. There is power in numbers and this applies to GNU/Linux as well.

Currently we are still hoping for certain companies to produce their products for Linux. However, if we would have a larger market share then these companies would be competing and trying very hard to be on the GNU/Linux platform.

The good news is that Linux is slowly growing and a lot more individuals are starting to switch over. They are realizing that GNU/Linux is a good operating system and that it is suitable for the average user. Now, all we need is to gain a larger market share so that companies realize that Linux is a strong force in the computer industry. The larger we are the more attention we get. The market share of GNU/Linux is important and hopefully it will continue to increase.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

How to convert non-techies to Linux.

Linux has come a long way and today it is ready to be used by non technical users as well. A lot of individuals are not happy with Windows and are looking for an alternative. The problem is that because these users are not very interested in computers, they are not aware of Linux as an alternative. These people are also a little skeptical and nervous when they are going to change their computer OS to something new. They are worried that they will not know how to use it and that it will be too difficult to learn. There are some drawbacks to Linux and it is important that you let the user know. However, Linux is ready for the mass market and for the non technical users.

To start off you need to choose a distribution that is easy to use for a newcomer. If you choose a very difficult one that needs a lot of tweaking and setting up, they will get disappointed. This can lead them to believe that Linux is bad but really they have been exposed to a wrong distribution that is not geared towards their needs. Mint Linux, Fedora and Ubuntu are a good choice for new non technical users. Personally, I prefer Ubuntu but it is up to you to decide what they will benefit from.

The good thing about these distributions is that they already come pre-installed with important software. Openoffice is essential for document creation and GIMP is good for graphics editing. Skype is important too. I know, you are going to say that Skype is proprietary. Most users that I have converted to Linux always want Skype pre-installed. It is important that we do not use our ideology to limit their OS. We need to give new users what they want. If they want proprietary software on Linux then give it to them. Most non technical users do not care about open source software. Sad but true. All they want is an OS that will function as easily as possible and allow them to do the things they are used to. Make sure that all of the important applications are pre-installed and the new user has to tweak as little as possible. The less the better. Ask them what software they were using on Windows and try to give them alternatives for Linux. You can also install Wine so that they can use some Windows applications as well if a viable alternative is not present.

Eyecandy is also very important. Most new and non technical users are not interested in code. What they see is the GUI. Make their distro look very cool and pretty and they will fall in love with it. You can get themes from Gnomelook.org. Lots of people like Apple computers because of aesthetics. This might seem superficial to you but we are talking about the non technical users switching over to Linux. Another great application is Compiz. If their computer is powerful enough you can give them excellent eyecandy with compiz. With themes and cool 3D effects you will be able to make their Linux desktop nicer than Windows or Mac OS. Show them a little razzle dazzle.

The most important thing of all has to be support. You don't just want to install everything for them and then leave them to it. They will have a lot of questions. Some might be ridiculous but it is important to give new users plenty of support. You need to show them where everything is in Linux. How to access applications and how to install and delete them. You will have to tell them about the different way Linux works and also about the open source formats that they might not be familiar with. If you don't give follow up support to a non techy they will be frustrated with Linux and might dislike it for a ridiculous reason. It is important to teach them about the OS and let them know that it works differently than Windows.

So, in conclusion the most important thing is to choose a proper distribution that is geared towards beginners. Make sure they have all the applications pre-installed that they will be using even if they are proprietary. Linux should just work for them. After that, make sure to give them nice eyecandy so that they will be impressed and fall in love with their aesthetically appealing OS. The last but not least is to give them support from start to finish. Do not leave them to figure things out on their own because they will get frustrated and confused. Linux is a great operating system and it is ready for non technical users as well. Just make sure to introduce them to Linux in an appropriate way and they will enjoy the experience. Once they go Linux they don't go back. 8-)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Lets work together.

The Linux community is very fragmented. This does not have to be a bad thing at all. Diversity is important for innovation and choice for users. However, because there are so many different projects, people sometimes get at other Linux users within the community. If you have your own opinion or are doing things differently, other people will get at you. Most of the Linux users already have enough opposition from Windows and Mac OS diehards and they don't need more from their own community of GNU/Linux. We are all in this together and we want to promote Linux to as many people as possible. It does not help when other individuals are bashing you because you are using a different distribution than they are or think in a different way. Tolerance is crucial in a diverse community. We need to respect each other's opinions instead of bashing one another.

It is also sad to see that some people are getting at new users of Linux. We need to be welcoming and helpful instead of arrogant and exclusive. New users need our help to find solutions and figure Linux out. We cannot bring them in, chew them up, and spit them out. People are not going to switch over if we are constantly fighting ourselves and being rude to newcomers.

This internal bickering within the Linux community is not very helpful and often brings projects to a halt. We need to realize that working together is more important than working against each other. We are fragmented but that doesn't mean it has to be a negative thing. Lets make our diversity in the GNU/Linux community a positive point and work together to promote GNU/Linux as a whole. It is an excellent concept that keeps growing and flourishing. Tolerance of each other and acceptance of new users is essential. Peace, love and Linux.