Monday, February 26, 2007

Beryl: an awesome window manager for Linux

I was experimenting with Beryl the past week. And I really like this cutting-edge Window manager for Linux. It's got everything, e.g. transparent menus, 3D cubes, animations when performing actions such as minimizing a window, closing a window, etc., and effects meant purely for show, including a scale effect for open windows, and "raining" patterns on the desktop. For more info on Beryl, head on over to

The sample screenshots will give you an idea of what I'm talking about.

Technorati Tags: , ,

powered by performancing firefox

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Updates on the Novell-Microsoft partnership

In a November post on the Novell-Microsoft partnership agreement signed last November 2006, I asked if we will see a slew of court cases from Microsoft against various Linux vendors. So far, that hasn't happened yet. I hope it will never come to pass. So, as of this time, nothing negative has arisen from the Novell-Microsoft pact.

On the positive side, the unlikely partners are working on making virtualization of Windows and SLES on each other's platforms a reality. In a Jan. 31 post on Port 25, Microsoft's Sam Ramji wrote that the companies are looking for technical people to work on a Joint Interoperability Lab focusing on "interoperable virtualization between Windows and SLES (Suse Linux Enterprise Server)."

Just this past week, the two companies announced more details of their technical collaboration plans. Aside from virtualization, web services-based management tools for Linux and Windows, directory and identity interoperability between Novell's eDirectory and Microsoft's Active Directory, and compatibility between's OpenDocument and Microsoft's Open XML document formats were identified as the areas where the two companies will focus on.

Since November, Novell's stock price has been up 8.13% and Microsoft down 2.7. Although we can't attribute the behavior of the stocks to the pact alone, it would seem that Novell has benefited more from it than Microsoft, if we go by stock price alone.

On the other hand, Novell competitor RedHat's stock has been up 36.82% for the same period. Again, although it seems that Novell may have benefited from the pact, negative impact on the stock price of RedHat, still the leading supplier of Linux servers, has been virtually nonexistent.

In December 2006, eweek reported that some 16,000 of the 70,000 SUSE licenses that Novell gave Microsoft for distribution to the latter's customers under the pact have been scooped up by clients such as Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse and AIG. This is the main reason for the Buy recommendation issued by independent institutional investment bank First Albany Corp. on Novell shares. A Buy recommendation means that the stock may have a potential return of 10-20 percent.

From the above, and true to prediction, Novell is benefiting from the deal. If positive things keep happening, the protests over the pact might eventually go away. It will be the customers, whether Microsoft's or Novell's, that will ultimately benefit. Whether the rest of the Linux and the open source community will also benefit is doubtful. But so long as it doesn't set back the open source movement, the pact might eventually be accepted, albeit grudgingly.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

powered by performancing firefox

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Linux: What's not to like?

It's been a while since my last post. With my busy schedule, the last months of 2006 were a blur. Christmas came and the New Year passed. Feeling burnt out, I found myself quitting my job right at the beginning of the year.

As part of the changes in my life, I also decided to end my dual-booting days, and to start using solely Linux on one of my home PCs. I reformatted the old HD, had Ubuntu up and running in a day (or night, as I have to work in the wee hours of the morning, when the kids are asleep. My two sons can be quite a handful at times).

Again, I found it a breeze to install Ubuntu. I didn't encounter any problems related to the OS not recognizing my hardware. Upgrading from the 6.6 Dapper Drake version to the current 6.10 Edgy Eft was also straightforward, requiring just a few line changes in the apt source list before I could download the 500+MB needed for the version upgrade. With EasyUbuntu and Automatix, installing other applications in Ubuntu even became easier than I could remember.

With Windows XP, I remember that I had to shut down after installation, open up the case, physically remove my sound card, restart the box, shut down, insert the sound card again into the slot, then restart again, before I could get any sound from my speakers.

Before I went Linux's way, I mulled over in my mind the benefits of upgrading to Windows Vista, which officially became available last Jan. 31, but common sense (money, or the lack of it) dictated that I take the more practical route. Moreover, Vista will require an upgrade to the PC I just acquired last year, never mind my other older, but recently upgraded, desktop. Being the tightwad that I am, I won't spend anything on hardware, even if I had the money. Reading a recent eweek article comparing Ubuntu (and OpenSuse) with Vista was the clincher, and I decided not to dally anymore.

I could've chosen to dual-boot again, but I'm just so tired of dodging the Microsoft bullet that I decided not to go that way again. I'm glad I did. In the week since, I've never seen a crash, I've installed Netbeans and MonoDevelop, and have experimented with the GIMP and Scribus. Whether I can live in a Windows-less world, I've yet to see, but from the looks of it, I think I can. As for my other PC, it will be on Ubuntu in a week or two, once I find the time.

powered by performancing firefox

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Novell-Microsoft partnership and its impact on open-source software

IT industry observers greeted media reports Thursday of an agreement between Microsoft and Novell to foster Windows-Linux interoperability with mixed reactions. As expected, the signatories were generally upbeat about the agreement. A few Linux advocates, foremost of them Open-Source Development Labs CEO Stuart Cohen, had similar positive reactions. A majority, however, voiced their reservations about the agreement.

At first glance, the partnership seemed a victory for Linux, in general, and Novell, in particular. The fact that Microsoft will partner with long-time rival Novell is recognition of Linux's inroads in the enterprise server market, if not on the desktop. Up front, Microsoft will pay royalties to Novell, and vice versa, to preempt any potential liability arising from the use of each other's software patents. In addition, Microsoft will provide discount vouchers for Novell's flagship Suse Linux Enterprise Server to its existing customers.

However, once you read the reports more closely, one notices that it is Microsoft who will benefit the most from the deal. And the biggest loser? Not Novell, for surely it would benefit to a great extent as well, but other companies selling/marketing/supporting Linux. Why? A side note, if you will, in the terms of the agreement yields the answers.

Under the agreement, and in exchange for royalties, Microsoft guarantees the freedom of individual, open-source developers as well as developers working on Novell's commercial and open-source Linux products from any legal action related to its vast array of software patents. By extension, the same guarantee applies to Novell customers. Thus, enterprise customers wary of the legal implications that may arise from their use of Linux will veer towards Novell. The market share of other Linux vendors will tumble.

The other, and far more important, implication here is that other companies that make money from selling and supporting Linux may be subject to legal action. The same goes for the developers and customers of these companies.

With Novell out of the way, will we see a string of lawsuits from Microsoft against other Linux vendors in the next few months? I hope not. An even more sombre outlook will arise if Microsoft wins these cases. What will happen to these companies? Will they survive? In the end, will it be only Novell that will be left standing? When that time comes, Microsoft will have won the OS wars.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Linux on the desktop

In early August of this year, I requested for Ubuntu Linux installation CDs from About three weeks later, I received a notice from the post office to pick up a package. As I was busy with work, and with the post office closed on Saturdays, I couldn't retrieve the package until about a month later. I was expecting the package to contain the Ubuntu CDs, and I was right.

Before I made the request for the installers, I already downloaded the ISO image file of the Ubuntu installer as well as a ready-to-run, virtual machine file of Ubuntu preloaded with the Mono development environment. Suffice it to say that I found Ubuntu as well as Mono impressive. Nevertheless, I requested for the installers to be sent via snail mail as I wanted to see if Canonical, the South Africa-based company that is supporting Ubuntu, will send them to me here in the Philippines. And I was pleasantly surprised that they did send the CDs.

I remember a few months earlier, when the topic of Linux desktop distributions came up in a discussion with friends, that one of them recommended Ubuntu. One or two others went for Red Hat Fedora. I had some experience with version 8 and 9 of Red Hat Linux, and in recent months had worked with Suse OpenLinux 10 and RH Fedora Core 5 at home (the office I worked for is a predominantly Windows shop, although it is experimenting with installing Linux on the mainframe). Both recent distros I found to be excellent, features-wise. But I was intrigued with Ubuntu, having read positive reviews about it, and wasted no time installing it on my PC.

Of the few Linux distros that I've worked with so far, I think that Ubuntu shows the most promise. The graphics are impressive, it is fast and user-friendly, and I daresay, more Windows-like than any other distro. I might offend Linux proponents out there when I say Windows-like, but the truth is, we judge Windows competitors by how much they measure up to the leading OS in the market today. And it really is hard to dispute the fact that Windows is the top OS as far as number of users are concerned.

What's the point of all these? Well, the point is that Linux has the potential to eat a few more percentage points from MS in the desktop OS space. This is particularly true now that there are many Linux distros that are slowly bridging the gap with Windows in terms of user-friendliness, deemed by many as the most important factor for selecting an OS today. Linux has always been seen as "DOS-like", and that is no longer true. It is much more secure than Windows, although it has indeed its share of vulnerabilities, contrary to popular belief. With Microsoft set to release the more expensive Vista next year, will Linux become a viable desktop OS alternative? I believe so. Whether it will overtake Windows remains to be seen. But expect more free Linux distros to appear on desktop PCs within the next three years.

You know what else I think will happen in that same time, particularly here in the Philippines? Retailers will begin selling PCs preloaded with Linux, with government and schools taking the lead in using Linux PCs. More home users will also took to Linux, avoiding the licensing costs associated with Windows and Windows-based software. It may take a longer time for businesses to buy in on Linux but, even then, it will make an appearance on business desktops. Maybe not enough to overthrow Windows, but still enough for Microsoft to take notice, and for it to lower software costs.

I'll have more on my experience with Linux in my next posts. Until then, see you.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The landscape on all things IT

I was thinking it's high time I start blogging on high-tech stuff of foremost interest to me. Thus was born InfoTechscape, as I'm calling this blog. I've been meaning to blog for a long time now, but my busy schedule has always been a problem. Well, busy schedule or not, here I come :)

Why InfoTechscape? Because it will touch on the landscape of all things/issues related to technology. The diverse topics I would like to dwell on in future postings include the increasing role of Linux on the desktop, .NET vs. Java, the Mono project, open-source IDEs (for various programming languages), the current state of the Web Service-Interoperability standards, problems in present VOIP technologies, Windows Vista, voting machines, etc.

As much as possible, I plan to give my posts a local flavor. Thus, residents of my native Philippines can expect me situating the topics in the context of local issues. But I would like to imbue a universal flavor to my posts as well. In short, I hope to attract readers of all persuasions and nationalities, with a common interest in information technology issues, to InfoTechscape, with the hope that my comments postings will influence discussions on these issues, and bring these issues to the consciousness of every reader.

Allow me to kick off things by saying that Blogger, as far as my short experience with it tells me, is easy to use. Before I decided to create my very first blog on this site, I read up on the various tools available out there. On the web, I found an article from the Online Journalism Review comparing various blogging tools. (Click here to read the full article, and here for a table summarizing the features of each blogging tool featured in the article). I would have to admit that my research was not that thorough (an understatement, to say the least) but I was in a hurry to post my ideas (it was almost 3am here in Manila). With the article concluding that there is nothing as simple as Blogger to get you up and running blogging, I decided to give Blogger a try. Hope I wouldn't be disappointed, though I have no basis for comparison so far.

With that said, allow me to temporarily say adios, with the hope that I will hear from you soon, informing me that you're reading Infotechscape, as soon as it gets rolling along. Hasta la vista! Or more exactly, until my next post ;)