Laser Blog

Articles tagged "linux"

78 Sue me first, Microsoft

Sunday 20th May, 2007

The recent litigation threats made by Microsoft against users of Linux have so unimpressed some of them that they have set up a website inviting Microsoft to sue them first.


76 Arch Linux review

Tuesday 8th May, 2007

There's an interesting review of Arch Linux (my distro of choice :) ) on the website.

I wouldn't call Arch "smooth and cuddly", but it is a good distro for those wishing to learn about Linux. It has a philosophy of trying to keep things simple, which suits my mentality! Minimal configuration is performed, it's up to you to set up the system the way you want it to be; it doesn't come with all the bells and whistles thrown in automatically. This does tend to make a secure system.

Arch is not for beginners, but if you're feeling jaded by your existing distro and want a bit more control from the start, give Arch a try on a spare machine. Have an internet connection available so you can refer to the forums and Wiki if it's your first time using Arch. The community is helpful.


74 One man writes Linux drivers for 235 USB webcams

Monday 30th April, 2007

I came across this eye-opening article on the Inquirer website. The author relates how he had problems with a cheap USB webcam he bought. Memory leaks with the provided driver meant he had to reboot Win2K on a daily basis. When he started to look for some other OS which might support them, he relates:

I found out last week that there are now Linux drivers for hundreds of those cheap "Made in China" webcams with strange brand names and a Vimicro chipset inside. The surprise was more shocking when I realized that drivers for 235 webcams -at the time of this writing- are the work of a single unknown hero who works from his home in France, does so with no corporate sponsorship, and what's even more outrageous, very few people know about the existence of those drivers and about the person behind them.

The author sought out and managed to interview the man responsible for these Linux drivers. Parts of the interview are quite telling, and show the difference between the motives which drive the communities and individuals who create open source software, and the companies which produce proprietary software. The interviewer in the excerpt below is FC. MX are the initials of Michel Xhaard, the "webcam driver" man.

FC: How do you feel knowing that there are a few really big corporations with million dollar budgets all peddling Linux, and you do all this critical work of helping Linux gain webcams support -by the hundreds!-, yet not a single one of those big firms has decided to formally sponsor your work?
MX: my work is not "Linux Kernel centred" my goal is to provided video input support for Linux users, and I am not sure that these big companies are interested in the end user :).

(Emphasis added.)

He's being sarcastic. Of course these companies are not interested in the end user. Look at how Vista tramples on your freedom and rights. It's the job of listed companies to keep shareholders, not customers, happy. Of course they'll try and do both, but if they have to choose, then the shareholders will be chosen over the customers every time.

I've heard some folk say that Linux or Free/Libre/Open Source software (FLOSS) "needs big business". That's claptrap. If anything, "big business" needs Linux/FLOSS. When big businesses go down (and they always do), Linux and FLOSS will still be around, maintained by the efforts of people like Michel Xhaard.

(Edited 4 May 2007: title changed: 352 -> 235)


66 Myths, Lies, and Truths about the Linux kernel

Monday 19th March, 2007

A very interesting transcript of a speech, including the accompanying slide-show, given by Linux kernel hacker Greg Kroah-Hartman on some of the Myths, Lies, and Truths about the Linux kernel

Some fascinating information is presented here.

Linux supports more devices "out of the box", than any other operating system ever has.

There are also a few very interesting paragraphs on the Linux USB code. (Greg Kroah-Hartman specialises on the kernel's USB subsystems, amongst others.) Here is a severely cut-down excerpt:

Linux now has the fastest USB bus speeds when you test out all of the different operating systems. We max out the hardware as fast as it can go, and you can do this from simple userspace programs, no fancy kernel driver work is needed.

Now Windows has also rewritten their USB stack at least 3 times ... each time they did a rework, and added new functions and fixed up older ones, they had to keep the old api functions around, as they have taken the stance that they can not break backward compatibility due to their stable API viewpoint. ... now the Windows core has all 3 sets of API functions in it, as they can't delete things. That means they maintain the old functions, and have to keep them in memory all the time, and it takes up engineering time to handle all of this extra complexity. That's their business decision to do this, and that's fine, but with Linux, we didn't make that decision, and it helps us remain a lot smaller, more stable, and more secure.

All of this, plus arguments against the "stable API" approach, plus more! Well worth a read.


57 Ballmer repeats threats against Linux

Wednesday 21st February, 2007

These threats are all part of a plan by Microsoft to make it uncomfortable for high-profile users of Linux. I have written about this before. You can expect more threats. Eventually, people will get jaded by them, but for a time they'll make people think twice.