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An obstacle for Linux desktops: Windows applications

Let's analyse the situation:

You wanna leave Windows for some reason:
* You wanna reduce costs for your business?
* You don't like MS's "anti-piracy" measures?
* You're just sick of the cycle of spending money on a new system when your existing one is fine?
* Maybe, just maybe, you do NOT want to be tied to Microsoft any longer?
* ("Insert your own reason")

Whatever it is, you may end up looking at Linux as a cost effective alternative. (Often its usually someone mentioning it on the web or through a friend that is technically inclined).

Assuming all goes well with the LiveCD or install, you boot up to the desktop (typically Gnome or KDE based).

The first thing that comes to your mind is: Will the apps I use (and need) in Windows, run on Linux?

Well, that's not an easy question to answer. Currently, we have three options: (I call it "pick your poison" because no one approach is perfect).

(1) Dual boot
Install Linux alongside Windows, and whenever you need Windows, you reboot into it. This is fustrating, as it feels like breaking your workflow. And things can get problematic if the boot sector gets messed up.

(2) Virtualisation (VMware, VirtualBox, Qemu, Xen, etc).
This is great! Run Windows when you need it without rebooting!...Except you can't run all the games and other apps (flawlessly) that require some sort of 3D Acceleration. (mainly DirectX). And its not quite as fast as native machine speeds. Again, you need a copy of Windows. Sad

(3) Application Layer ie: Wine, Cedega, or CrossOver.
You don't need a copy of Windows, and you don't get a performance hit that comes with virtualisation. The problem is, its not perfect. When you try your Windows app; there's graphical glitches, loading issues, anti-piracy nonsense to deal with, and in some cases (like The Sims 1/2 or Office 2007), they just won't run, PERIOD.

So what the heck are we to do?

The only real solution is native Linux versions of the applications we need. But that's not gonna happen. Just look at this article.

Intuit slow on Quicken and Quickbooks for Linux
http://www.itwire.com/content/view/15280/1023/

Look at this excuse: There would be significant challenges in porting the whole codebase over to Linux, and it would have to be worth the effort. For now, the share of Linux on the desktop is still small.

I'm sorry, how did this Intuit rep come to that conclusion? I mean think about it:

* Web statistics can be manipulated.
=> Like MS getting Godaddy.com to switch to Win2k3/IIS6.0 on "parked domains". (How many is that? 5 million votes to MS on Netcraft?)...Even a loadbalancing solution will cause Netcraft to display odd results. (They even publically admit that!)
=> Using "Modify Headers", (a Firefox extension) to trick a website in thinking you're running some other OS. (Mine says "Firefox", but it doesn't reveal the OS).

Regardless, you can make Linux large or small as you please. Just add or remove factors to make your side look good!

* Linux isn't based on the number of licenses sold.
=> So how do you accurately gauge Linux adoption as a whole? Simple, you can't! Every time someone (like IDC) pulls out some nonsense about how Windows is more adopted, I'm very skeptical at how they arrive to that conclusion and what methods they use. (aside from the fact that the study or report is often sponsored by Microsoft themselves.)

* You are too small, you aren't worth it.
Intuit took the time to port their desktop solutions to the Mac, and yet, when it comes to Linux, they pull out an excuse? How much different is Linux and OSX under there? Is it massive such that a major re-write is needed? We don't know! I guess we'll have to take their word for it.

Let's face the truth. The majority of large software corporations that develop for Windows are swallowing MS's nonsense about Linux. They assume we don't matter, so they won't bother. (This applies to both business AND game software companies).

I'm sick of it. I'm sick of being treated like some second class citizen. Its BS excuses one after another, and we all know it.

Deep down, I wanna say: Screw it! F**k'em all! Let's grab a Windows box (not connected to the web), acquire the software we mostly use, and figure out what makes it tick, how the file formats or protocols work, etc...Then write our own opensource implementation from scratch.

This is what Samba has essentially done. And guess what? Microsoft couldn't do crap about it! (as its within the bounds of the law).

Do note: when I say "figure out", I do NOT mean directly hacking the code ("reverse engineering"). That would be breaking the law, depending on where you live. Either way, it'll get you into legal strife, given the number of lawyers these corporations can throw at you. (Usually by the dozen after they've sent you a number of "cease and desist" notices).

What is done (based on what I hear of Samba and the Nouveau driver projects), is that they figured things out through observation.

An analogy: You go on a holiday to another country. You have absolutely no idea of the local language. So what do you do?

(1) Observe the locals.
See/hear what they ask and what result they get.

(2) Try it yourself.
You may not get what you want the first time around. So you go back to step (1) and look for more clues.

(3) Keep repeating...Until you get it right.
Eventually, based on this approach, you'll get it right.

The problem with this approach is that, its time consuming. (maybe a few years of patience and persistance). Its something a lot of people don't want to do, given the nature of our impatient "instant satisfaction" society. (At least the Western ones).

The thing to note about re-implementing an idea under the opensource model, is that we should NOT blindly copy GUIs of the existing solution. We should look at what's good and what's bad. There is always a better (more intuitive) way to do something. Apple's OSX has proven that you don't have to emulate Windows to create a user friendly solution. (looks also play a big role).

As well, our implementations should be lean on system resources. uTorrent (on Windows) has proven that, in this age of dual/quad-core with 2GB+ RAM systems, nothing beats a small, well coded application that does the job well. Bloat and resource hungry are bad. No user wants to wait. Just because systems are more beefier than they were a few years back doesn't mean we should be careless in writing apps!

So what's the other choice?

See what's already out there right now, and see if we can use that, or if we have some coding skills, improve it.

* Does the existing solution allow me to share files with others, but without compatibility issues?

* Do they offer the same feature set as commercial solutions?

Take for example, accounting software.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_accounting_software
http://www.linux.com/feature/61672

* Which one has the best GUI? Can we do it better?

* Which one is the most used? Feature set?

* What formats are out there that need to be supported?
ie: MS Money (OFC), Quicken/MYOB (QIF), Comma Separated Values (CSV), Open Financial Exchange (OFX), etc.

I guess what I'm saying is that we shouldn't put up with our current situation. We need to band together, organise, and start some opensource projects (or join existing ones) with some clear goals.

But remember, when critiquing someone else's application, don't do it like a troll. Offer good constructive view with examples backing your point. Acting like a teenager is gonna bring a negative response!

If no one listens to you, that's OK. Its not the end of the world. Take the code of the existing solution and either change things yourself OR work with someone who shares the same view as you. (There's a few million coders out there, I'm sure there's atleast one person who agrees with you and would like to help!)

We simply can't rely on large corporations. They only think of money and how to make more of it regardless of how they treat people. They really don't care, as money matters more.

I say forget them! Let's take the initiative and do it our way. If we start growing, eating into their marketshare and thus, their profits? Tough! Maybe they'll listen next time! (I doubt it...Money is the substance that corrupts most of humanity).

More in Tux Machines

Openwashing: Microsoft, Apple and Symphony Software Foundation

Linux Foundation: Real-Time Linux (RT Linux), LF Deep Learning Foundation, OpenTracing and More

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    Although Real-Time Linux (RT Linux) has been a staple at Embedded Linux Conferences for years -- here’s a story on the RT presentations in 2007 -- many developers have viewed the technology to be peripheral to their own embedded projects. Yet as RT, enabled via the PREEMPT_RT patch, prepares to be fully integrated into the mainline kernel, a wider circle of developers should pay attention. In particular, Linux device driver authors will need to ensure that their drivers play nice with RT-enabled kernels. At the recent Embedded Linux Conference in Portland, National Instruments software engineer Julia Cartwright, an acting maintainer on a stable release of the RT patch, gave a well-attended presentation called “What Every Driver Developer Should Know about RT.” Cartwright started with an overview of RT, which helps provide guarantees for user task execution for embedded applications that require a high level of determinism. She then described the classes of driver-related problems that can have a detrimental impact to RT, as well as potential resolutions. One of the challenges of any real-time operating system is that most target applications have two types of tasks: those with real-time requirements and latency sensitivity, and those for non-time critical tasks such as disk monitoring, throughput, or I/O. “The two classes of tasks need to run together and maybe communicate with one another with mixed criticality,” explained Cartwright. “You must resolve two different degrees of time sensitivity.” One solution is to split the tasks by using two different hardware platforms. “You could have an Arm Cortex-R, FPGA, or PLD based board for super time-critical stuff, and then a Cortex-A series board with Linux,” said Cartwright. “This offers the best isolation, but it raises the per unit costs, and it’s hard to communicate between the domains.”
  • Clarifying the Linux Real Time Issue
    I recently posted an article about the increasing development and availability of Linux-powered automation devices. This is a clear industry trend that’s unavoidable for anyone following the automation technology industry. Shortly after posting the article, I heard from a reader who wrote: “I read your article and I am surprised that you would promote the idea that anyone would use Linux for anything critical. It isn’t even a real-time control system. It can be used for non-critical applications, but the article implies that industry is adopting it for everything.” This reader brings up a valid point. Linux is not a real-time OS in and of itself. As Vibhoosh Gupta of GE Automation & Controls noted in the original article, GE uses “Type 1 hypervisor technology to run a real-time OS, such as VxWorks, running traditional control loops alongside our PAC Edge technology operating on Linux.” [...] The Linux Foundation launched the RTL (Real Time Linux) Collaborative Project in October 2015. According to the Foundation, the project was “founded by industry experts to advance technologies for the robotics, telecom, manufacturing and medical industries. The aim of the RTL collaborative project is mainlining the PREEMPT_RT patch.” While there are plenty of mission critical applications running Linux OS with real-time extensions—as highlighted by GE, Opto and Wago—the Linux Foundation notes on its site that there remains “much work to be done.”
  • Linux Launches Deep Learning Foundation For Open Source Growth In AI
    The Linux Foundation has launched the LF Deep Learning Foundation, an umbrella organisation which will support and sustain open source innovation in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning. The organisation will strive to make these critical new technologies available to developers and data scientists everywhere, said a statement published by LF. Founding members of LF Deep Learning include Amdocs, AT&T, B.Yond, Baidu, Huawei, Nokia, Tech Mahindra, Tencent, Univa, and ZTE, among others. LF Deep Learning, members are working to create a neutral space where makers and sustainers of tools and infrastructure can interact and harmonise their efforts and accelerate the broad adoption of deep learning technologies.
  • OpenTracing: Distributed Tracing’s Emerging Industry Standard
    What was traditionally known as just Monitoring has clearly been going through a renaissance over the last few years. The industry as a whole is finally moving away from having Monitoring and Logging silos – something we’ve been doing and “preaching” for years – and the term Observability emerged as the new moniker for everything that encompasses any form of infrastructure and application monitoring. Microservices have been around for a over a decade under one name or another. Now often deployed in separate containers it became obvious we need a way to trace transactions through various microservice layers, from the client all the way down to queues, storage, calls to external services, etc. This created a new interest in Transaction Tracing that, although not new, has now re-emerged as the third pillar of observability.
  • There’s a Server in Every Serverless Platform [Ed: "Serverless" is a lie. It's a server. One that you do not control; one/s that control/s you. Even Swapnil finally or belatedly gets it. The LF really likes buzzwords.]
    Serverless computing or Function as a Service (FaaS) is a new buzzword created by an industry that loves to coin new terms as market dynamics change and technologies evolve. But what exactly does it mean? What is serverless computing?
  • Take the Open Source Job Survey from Dice and The Linux Foundation
    Interest in hiring open source professionals is on the rise, with more companies than ever looking for full-time hires with open source skills and experience. To gather more information about the changing landscape and opportunities for developers, administrators, managers, and other open source professionals, Dice and The Linux Foundation have partnered to produce two open source jobs surveys — designed specifically for hiring managers and industry professionals.
  • Automotive Linux Summit & OS Summit Japan Schedule Announced [Ed: "Brian Redmond, Microsoft" so you basically go to an event about Linux and must listen to a talk from a company which attacks Linux with patent blackmail, bribes etc.]

Security: Updates, GrayKey, Google and Cilium

  • Security updates for Wednesday
  • Hackers Leaked The Code Of iPhone Cracking Device “GrayKey”, Attempted Extortion
    The mysterious piece of hardware GrayKey might give a sense of happiness to cops because they can get inside most of the iPhone models currently active, including the iPhone X. The $30,000 device is known to crack a 4-digit iPhone passcode in a matter of a few hours, and a six-digit passcode in 3 days, or possibly 11 hours in ideal scenarios. That’s why security experts suggest that iOS users should keep an alphanumeric passcode instead of an all-number passcode.
  • Someone Is Trying to Extort iPhone Crackers GrayShift With Leaked Code
    Law enforcement agencies across the country are buying or have expressed interest in buying GrayKey, a device that can unlock up-to-date iPhones. But Grayshift, the company that makes the device, has attracted some other attention as well. Last week, an unknown party quietly leaked portions of GrayKey code onto the internet, and demanded over $15,000 from Grayshift—ironically, the price of an entry-level GrayKey—in order to stop publishing the material. The code itself does not appear to be particularly sensitive, but Grayshift confirmed to Motherboard the brief data leak that led to the extortion attempt.
  • It's not you, it's Big G: Sneaky spammers slip strangers spoofed spam, swamp Gmail sent files
    Google has confirmed spammers can not only send out spoofed emails that appear to have been sent by Gmail users, but said messages also appear in those users' sent mail folders. The Chocolate Factory on Monday told The Register that someone has indeed created and sent spam with forged email headers. These not only override the send address, so that it appears a legit Gmail user sent the message, but it also mysteriously shows up in that person's sent box as if they had typed it and emitted themselves. In turn, the messages would also appear in their inboxes as sent mail.
  • Cilium 1.0 Advances Container Networking With Improved Security
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Applications: KStars, Kurly, Pamac, QEMU

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  • Kurly – An Alternative to Most Widely Used Curl Program
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  • Pamac – Easily Install and Manage Software on Arch Linux
    Arch Linux is one of the most popular Linux distribution available despite its apparent technicality. Its default package manager pacman is powerful but as time always tells, it is a lot easier to get certain things done using a mouse because GUI apps barely require any typing nor do they require you to remember any commands; and this is where Pamac comes in. Pamac is a Gtk3 frontend for libalpm and it is the GUI tool that Arch Linux users turn to the most when they aren’t in the mood to manage their software packages via the terminal; and who can blame them? It was specifically created to be used with Pacman.
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