Tag Archives: operating-system

Have you Tried the Google Open Source Android Emulator?

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What operating system is running on your phone? At some point in the future, it may be Google’s operating system… dubbed Android. It’s open-source, and available for all operating systems. Those of you who don’t really know what an SDK is. In light terms, it’s a package of tools and examples given to software developers so that they can develop platforms.

I downloaded Android, and didn’t even really have to install anything. I simply clicked on it, and up pops this Android virtual device. Normally, this would be a touch-screen device for your phone, of course. On this emulator, it will show you what the dialer will look like. The interface is very clean thus far. Google maps is integrated into Android, as well! There’s a satellite mode, and a traffic mode.

Android will ship with a set of core applications including:

  • an email client
  • an SMS program
  • calendar
  • maps
  • browser
  • contacts

The Android platform is a software stack for mobile devices including an operating system, middleware and key applications. Developers can create applications for the platform using the Android SDK. Applications are written using the Java programming language and run on Dalvik, a custom virtual machine designed for embedded use which runs on top of a Linux kernel.

If you’re interested in developing something for Android, feel free to download the SDK. What operating systems and phones do you have? What do you prefer, and why?

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What's the Best OS for Data Storage and Stability?

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I received the following email the other day from a chat regular who goes by the handle of Woomis:

Yesterday, I was consulting a client about OS choices. If storage failure rate was 0%… What OS would you trust to store your most important documents, photos, keepsakes and otherwise? Diving even further into that thought, you realize that you must understand there are other factors involved that whether one is better than the other and why. But truly, I ask you the same question: Although you’ve switched to Mac for the time being, what OS and its myriad of features would you trust to store and use your most precious of data? I see these kids in your IRC chat talking about how “cool” Linux is. I agree: if I had to choose between a Server2003 or FC8 Dedicated serve… it would be Linux for sure. These kids are dazzled by Compiz Fusion and their lowered expectations of XP, but seriously there is the cool factor and the usability factor. For you is OS X just a fad? I doubt it, but please as in the words as some of your newest chatters, Linux Rulez! Why don’t you use it? I say OS X is the most stable: for it’s journaled file system, kernel, support and life expectancy. That’s what I use, that’s what I feel comfortable storing my data on and keeping it safe and operational.

If you ask me what the best operating system is, I will most likely not answer you. I cannot possibly tell you what the best operating system would be. There are a lot of factors that come into play. You will likely have a different answer a year from now that what you will have now, as to what the best operating system is for you. This is due to changes in software and hardware, and how they work together in your current system of choice.

I personally use OS X and Windows both on a daily basis, and I do have a Linux machine, as well. Most people want one thing, and they want the best thing. Take a look at the total cost of ownership. Look at everything that will happen once you have purchased your system. Now, look at the entire experience. Don’t only look at your computer as a piece of hardware. It’s also a piece of software inside a piece of hardware, which is run through various services. A wide variety of things work together to create your computing experience. You have to look for as much of 100% as you can get, in terms of things you want from your computer.

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How to Switch Operating Systems: Linux, Windows, OS X

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Are you thinking about switching Operating Systems? Here are five things to keep in mind prior to making that big move.

  • Stability You want to make sure that the Operating System you are going to use is functional. A buggy Operating System is more or less useless. From my experience, XP is the most practical Windows Operating System to use at the moment. I’m relatively new to Linux, but my favorite distro is Ubuntu, due to the ease of my migration over from XP. MacOS X I know absolutely nothing about, but I have heard that Leopard is somewhat more buggy than previous versions. I haven’t tried it, this is only what I have heard.
  • Compatibility (Hardware) This is mostly for Windows and Linux, as OS X hardware is pretty much controlled by Apple. Check to make sure that your video card, sound card, printer, motherboard, and etc has drivers for, or is compatible with the Operating System of your choice. Some dated hardware will not be supported by some of the newer Operating Systems (speaking mostly to Vista). Make sure that everything you have will work in the future.
  • Support Know where to go for help. You are bound to run into problems whenever doing something for the first time. Find websites or communities with experienced users of the product that you can reach to for help when you need it. Example: When I first installed Ubuntu, the X Server could not detect my graphical hardware no matter what I did. I went to the Ubuntu forums, and I was directed to a program called Envy that automatically setup the X Server for me, and installed the latest nVidia drivers for my video card.
  • Have a Life Line Data is bound to be lost when installing and uninstalling Operating Systems. Make sure that all critical data on your current OS is backed up, and can be restored in your new OS. When in doubt, I recommend partitioning the empty portion of your hard drive. Then install the OS you want, and try it out. This way, your entire system hasn’t been hosed, and you can revert to what you were using before. Dual booting is also a great option for compatibility (hardware and software). My current setup is 370gb Ubuntu and 130gb XP. This is so Ubuntu (my primary OS) has enough room for documents or work-related files, and Windows has enough for programs that have no equivalent in Linux (Good for gamers who want Linux, but don’t want to sacrifice performance with something like WINE or a virtual machine).
  • Can the OS do what you want it to do? A key point for Linux is the eye candy. It’s great, we love it. Eye candy is why a lot of people get Linux over Windows or OSX. But this isn’t practical. If a program you need for school or your work is only available in Windows, and you are running a pure OS X or Linux machine, you need to either find a comparable application, run a virtual machine, or reinstall Windows. This is another reason I strongly recommend not confining yourself to only one Operating System. Different Operating Systems are good at different things. Take advantage of this and use all at your disposal.

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How Can Software be Perfect?

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What do we need in order to have “perfect” software? What can companies do to achieve this lofty goal? Here are some excellent tips sent in by a community member. Software manufacturers… pay attention!

  • Software should never crash. I don’t care if I try loading a 10 GB file into Photoshop on a computer with 256 MB of RAM. Checks should be performed and resources balanced so that a run-away program doesn’t bring down the entire system. User input should also never crash a program. This isn’t unique to just Windows. I’ve had hard crashes on both Mac and Linux where hitting the power bottom on the tower was the only way to restart it.
  • Security should be built in and seamless. Grandma shouldn’t need a degree in Computer Science to keep from getting her identity stolen or her computer infected with malware. Virus-like behavior shouldn’t be possible. One reason Mac and Linux have such fewer viruses isn’t just because of their lower market share, but also because they are built securely and self-propagating programs are rare and are difficult to hide from the system. Firefox is another good example of software that integrates security by alerting the user if they are on a suspected phishing site.
  • Protect data at all costs. One horror story comes to mind where a user told me that they had downloaded a document from their webmail but selected “open” instead of “save” at the dialog. After confirming it was the correct document they went to work and subconsciously hit ctrl-s to save their work every so often but didn’t even think about where it was being saved to since they had only “opened” the document. They had kept this window open throughout the day and adding changes and then did a final ctrl-s and closed the window for the night. The next day they looked at their recent documents to see “file not found”. Opening the document put it in a temporary folder which was cleaned out when they rebooted their computer. This kind of thing shouldn’t happen. Operating systems should also keep backups and revisions of documents in case the user needs to go back to a previous draft. Leopard’s Time Machine is an example that comes to mind.
  • Online integration. There is a lot of buzz about this “Web 2.0” (which doesn’t exist) and people thinking that all applications will be run inside a browser. I personally think that is silly. Google Docs & Spreadsheets will never replace Microsoft Office or any other full blown application that is installed to the system. Installed applications have the advantage of performance and being integrated into the OS more than a web application could ever hope to. However, I believe that client-side applications should become more integrated with online services (though not web applications themselves). Imagine OpenOffice, for example, integrated with Google Docs and being able to save data both to disk and online without needing to open up a web browser. My media player can download lyrics for music or provide a link to IMDB when watching a DVD.
  • Maintain a “just works” philosophy. I plug in my printer and it works. The user should never even have to hear the word “driver” or “install”. YouTube is an example that we now almost take for granted. Ten years ago I remember having to mess with Windows Media Player, RealPlayer, and Quicktime plugins with all the installing and rebooting just to play a video in my browser. Dozens of different formats and codecs. YouTube has simplified this process. I visit the site, hit “play” and it plays. If flash isn’t installed a quick “click here to install flash” and boom! It works.

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The Best Operating System

What say you?

Hey Chris, this is Gnimsh from #lg, just writing in my two cents on the subject of OSes. I have been using windows all my life, and in the past year have started using linux (ubuntu) off and on between my desktop and my laptop. I first installed linux on my desktop due to some issues with windows (my keyboard was not initializing properly so I had to disable and then reenable the keyboard after windows started) and I thought “hey, I bet I won’t have this problem in linux” and I actually did, but only once. Then I somehow broke linux and it wouldn’t boot into the X server, so I just went back to windows for a while. I tried again with every new version of linux, and it did make my system faster. At times I was even running it as my main OS, but I always felt a few things lacking. For instance, my music provider of choice is Ruckus, which needs its own program to download the music files via ruckus.com. I’ve googled this and it seems that running the program under WINE works up until you have to login and then it just freezes.

What I like about linux, for the most part, is that not only does it “just work” but it works out of the box. I can install it and have a fully functional operating system and need to install only a minimum of programs, instead of searching for and downloading and reinstalling everything each time I install. I really do love that feature. Free is a good price too. When I first got this laptop, it had Windows Vista installed (which I didn’t want) and after using it I ran into a few annoying problems…the hibernating didn’t work, and shutting the system down seemed to take 10 minutes or more to complete, which was annoying when I wanted to restart as quickly as possible. So I installed ubuntu on my laptop, only to run into different problems. The cd drive wasn’t recognized in 7.04 (this is fixed in 7.10) and also whenever I would put the computer into hibernate the sound driver would no longer work, and I would have to restart. So that annoyed me, but I also found uses for linux. At a cafe one time windows would not log on to their wireless, so I booted into ubuntu and it connected the very first time.

Lately though, I’ve been needing windows more and more. I am studying abroad and skype is very limited in ubuntu, no webcam support. Also I now have a device called magicjack for my phone service to make and receive calls in the US, and right now it only runs in windows. I tried a VM of XP in ubuntu, but there was some USB driver issue not switching it to the VM, and I couldn’t get the fixes to work. My webcam also doesn’t work in linux, and although there are driver issues out there for it, I don’t know how to install something without an installer, or how to do the make scripts and all that jazz.

One of the things that I like about using linux that I don’t normally get using windows is a sense of accomplishment. I find that when I’m in linux I’m constantly googling on how to fix problems or install things (how to install opera on 64 bit ubuntu, for example, before 9.5 came out…this required a lot of workaround). I just really like the problem solving involved in using linux, though sometimes I do think its a huge pain.

Operating System Truths

This morning, a friend sent me a link to Analysts on Leopard’s Hype. I didn’t take issue with the entire collection of positions and statements, but some of them seemed to be… grossly inaccurate and misleading.

“Would you recommend a Mac to a friend or family member who’s looking to purchase a notebook?”

Sam Bhavnani: Yes. As a guy who tracks the PC industry, people ask me all the time if they should get an Apple. The overall experience is a very pleasant one. If they’re willing to spend some time with the Apple OS, they will most likely enjoy the experience.

Bingo. BINGO. You nailed it, Sam – that was the right answer. And yes, there’s only one right answer to this question. If you’re not recommending a Mac (with Leopard) to a friend or family member, you’re doing them an extreme disservice. Consumers need to understand that yesterday’s arguments don’t apply.

If they’re asking you, they’re curious – and if they’re curious, they’re obviously NOT HAPPY WITH WHAT THEY’RE USING NOW!!!

Al Gillen: It depends on what that person is planning on doing with his or her system. If it’s needed for e-mail or business applications, I would recommend Windows, as it has Microsoft Office. If it’s needed for entertainment, I would recommend the Mac.

With all due respect, Al… ARE YOU ON CRACK?! How could anybody respect the opinion of someone who didn’t realize that (a) there’s a Microsoft Office for OS X, (b) there are open source Microsoft Office alternatives available for OS X, and (c) email can be retrieved and stored on any damn operating system. I take umbrage with your business applications assertions, because it depends on how you choose to define “business applications” – and if you mean that the vendors of these “business applications” refuse to support other platforms, well… there’s Boot Camp or VMware Fusion, you fool. “Entertainment” is equally as relative.

Ross Rubin: It would depend on that person’s requirements. The Mac has excellent creativity apps and is a compelling platform. Windows, however, offers lots of options in terms of compatibility and the size of its user base. You have to match an operating system with a user’s needs.

While the decision does “depend,” it certainly isn’t for a lack of creativity apps on one platform or the other. Compatibility certainly is important, but at some point it becomes a boondoggle! Moreover, since when was the size of a user base directly proportional with the value of its designated platform?

Enough of the FUD. Here are ten solid reasons you’d want to buy a machine with Microsoft Windows and/or stick with it altogether:

  1. You’re afraid of learning something new; you don’t want to change the way you do anything, ever; your world falls apart when someone deletes an icon from your desktop or Start Menu. Legitimate reasons, I assure you.
  2. You like shopping for bargain basement hardware and need an operating system that supports every possible component you might throw into it, no matter how old or how obscure that equipment might be. You also like getting what you pay for.
  3. You want to build your own PC (the journey is equally as important as the destination).
  4. Your favorite software (realistically) doesn’t have an equivalent available on any other platform. Bonus points are awarded if you’ve taken the time to look before jumping to this conclusion.
  5. You’re a hardcore gamer – in which case, you better not suggest that Macs are more expensive. Games, games, games, games, and more games – the top reasons why anybody would opt into Microsoft Windows. If you’re a “PC” gamer, then there’s virtually no choice for you right now.
  6. Your company gave you the computer(s), and they can’t support anything else.
  7. You feel comfortable, confident, and generally good in knowing that there are more people using Windows than there are using OS X at home or at work.
  8. You hate the way OS X affixes the application’s menu at the top of a screen rather than in the application window itself – even after realizing that Microsoft has been actively attempting to wean users off of menus altogether.
  9. You don’t have major issues with Microsoft Windows, you don’t mind how it looks, you don’t mind how it works, and you don’t care how you get things done so long as you CAN get things done. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with complacency.
  10. You’re afraid you’ll like something else more than Microsoft Windows. Believe it or not, I’ve actually had people tell me this.

Replacing one OS with another is potentially very costly – in money and in time. At least you should be making an informed decision based on truths and practical experiences, not merely on talking points from pseudo pundits.

What's Missing in an Operating System?

Mooreyameen Mohamad, in response to Operating System Choices:

I don’t understand what is the big deal with operating systems. So Apple has Mac OS X and PCs have Windows Vista and a bunch of other stuff such as the much heralded Ubuntu… but at the end of the day it’s the applications (Google Apps?) that a computer user would / should be most concerned about, right? Internet browsing experience depends pretty much on the internet browser, which is largely independent of the OS and the bandwidth of the internet connection.

Changing from one OS to another surely is not as easy as changing from one internet browser to another. And seriously, how many people would even think about it, what with all the baggage of applications, hardware already ‘attached’ to a particular OS, so to speak? Ubuntu is supposedly great because it’s open source but seriously for the average user, Open Source just means ‘No technical support’. Granted, perhaps because of the diversity of the “community” that develops the open source OS, it might end up being a ‘stronger’ OS than say, Windows, but it just feels like I have to wait for a child to ‘grow up’…as it goes through the various trials and tribulation of trial and error of being coded by random geeks with free time on their hands.

What say you, Chris? Surely choosing an OS would depend on what applications you need to use for your purpose, how much ‘support’ you need?

Microsoft Windows Vista vs. Apple OS X

I was feeling emotional when I suggested that Vista Will Double Apple’s Market Share, but I really don’t think I’ll be that far off. More than anything, I believe Vista will triple Apple’s mindshare – which, in many ways, is a valid predictor of future market share. So, MacDailyNews readers gave the article a nod today. In looking at their list of related links directly below the quoted paragraphs, I found that I’m in good company in respect to my Vista opinions:
Continue reading Microsoft Windows Vista vs. Apple OS X

The Truth About Windows Vista

When I first saw XGL and AIGLX being demonstrated through YouTube videos, I was blown away. I assumed that it would take a monster video card, much like Vista does. However, I found that I could run a full 3D accelerated Linux desktop on Ponzi’s low powered laptop with an average Intel video chipset. Make no mistake: Windows has fierce competition in the marketplace, especially for the masses. Is Linux ready? No, but it’s definitely looking sexier than Windows Vista RC1 these days.

And if you don’t want your desktop to be sexy, you’re in a minority.

I’ve seen several geeks (and countless developers) dismiss the slick nature of the AIGLX demo. “I got seasick from the wavy windows” is tantamount to saying that “the way Windows works is good enough for me and everybody else.” It’s not like those XGL options are hard-coded into the operating system, folks – it’s fully customizable, fully tweakable, and fully usable. My original complaint stemmed from the way Microsoft has been actively touting Vista as a “breakthrough” experience – and until I saw that video, I couldn’t point to something to put the haphazard implementation of Aero (and the shim-ridden Windows shell) in its place.

Uh, Flip3D is borderline useless – not half as usable as OS X’s Expose (which a forthcoming Microsoft mouse will fully emulate, and I’ll report on that soon enough). I get more out of the free TaskSwitchXP than I do from Flip3D! Vista’s user experience has been further rendered generic when it’s demonstrated side-by-side with the full range of today’s AIGLX features. I’m not saying that the average user would want to use (or could use) half of the eye candy that’s shown in the new Linux desktop, but that doesn’t make AIGLX / XGL any less exciting to see. Linux with a 3D desktop, much like OS X, is fun to use – and Windows Vista is just. feh.

And if you’re not excited by desktop advancements, then you should just live on the command line and be done with it.

So, Robert McLaws wants me to take a deep breath. “[Chris’s] feedback on Vista would be far more valuable if he accepted the reality of the situation and focused on problems that actually stand a chance of getting fixed at this point in the game.” I agree and disagree.

Yes, I’d be happy to help Microsoft fix the fixable Vista oversights – but I’m not going to push my opinions to the sidelines, throw up my hands in defeat, and wait to see if they actually improved anything. It’s been in my experience that by the time I see a Microsoft product, it’s far too late to provide feedback for it. Instead, I’m told to hold off until the next version – but by the time I see that Microsoft product, it’s far too late to provide feedback for it. Instead, I’m told to hold off until the next version – but by the time I see that Microsoft product, it’s. starting to sound like a broken record.

It’s great that Microsoft has accepted so much feedback in the development of Vista, Office, etc. I’m never short of feedback – and I typically provide it freely. But I’m tired of feeling like I’m talking to a brick wall. Need an example? I told Microsoft to build RSS support into Windows Media Player 9 before it exited beta, years before podcasting, months before Scoble went to work for `em! Windows Media Player 11 will likely ship without it. There’s another Microsoft team that thinks they know more than users do – and what’s best for you.

And if you don’t think that users matter, you’re living in a bubble that’s about to burst.

“Brand loyalty” is a phrase that’s quickly disappearing. Users are looking for better, cheaper, faster, nicer, cleaner, smarter, etc. I used to swear by Dell – now I see that everybody’s swearing at them. I used to rely on MSN for my searches – and now I only look when I forget to change my defaults to Google. I used to use Internet Explorer – until I discovered Maxthon 1.x (and I’m still not liking the way 2.x is shaping up). If you’re blind to brand, you deserve everything you might get from it – both good and bad.

Henry Ford initially refused to innovate beyond the Model T, resolute in his belief that his automobile did everything a driver needed it to do (and nothing more). Because of this attitude, Ford had slipped to #3 in the nation by the time the World War was upon us. In a similar sense, I believe that Microsoft has gotten lazy in the desktop space – much like Apple has gotten lazy in the media space. What’s most interesting is that each company is only now beginning to challenge the other on more equal terms – Zune vs. iPod, Windows vs. OS X on Intel.

And if you don’t think that users provide feedback (and make decisions) on their own schedules, you’ve got another thing coming.

I’ve run into countless UI hiccups which prove (beyond a shadow of a doubt) that the usability quirks inside Windows Vista are by design. Need four prime examples that are completely replicable?

  1. In installing and running WinVNC server, I’m prompted to view a dialog that’s been forced into some kind of separate desktop (a backwards compatibility screen that runs in Classic mode, removes me from the Vista experience, and looks like total ass to boot). I’m sure this isn’t an isolated incident. My beef, again, is that Windows Vista handles incompatibilities with the largest amount of inelegance possible.
  2. Separately, the QuickTime Preferences Control Panel applet causes my entire Windows session into some kind of non-glass Aero fallback mode. Why? Why not just shove that process into some kind of space that protects it from the rest of Windows Vista? Then, why does the screen flash suddenly – as if I’m about to hit a BSOD? Screen flashes without fades are jarring.
  3. If you’re lucky enough to have a video card powerful enough to run the full Aero experience (Glass), you know that it’s certainly better than XP’s Luna. I’m not talking about the way that Microsoft’s own developers completely ignored the guidelines set forth by their own company here, mind you (that’s another rant entirely). My legitimate complaint is that the non-Glass experience doesn’t look like Glass at all. Seriously, even Stardock emulated Aero pretty well in WindowBlinds (with transparency!) – but Microsoft opted to give users this 50/50 experience. It’s not just about having a great video card – it’s about having applications that are 100% optimized for Windows Vista. For that, you’ll likely have to wait. forever.
  4. “Classic Mode” has always been pretty clean across the board. I’m not so sure that’s the case in Windows Vista – at least, in respect to Microsoft’s own applications (especially Windows Explorer). The shortcomings in UI cohesiveness and completeness are even more apparent when you’re not in Aero (or Aero Basic). With all the new Vista shell shims and hacks in place, “Classic Mode” has pretty much been shoved out of the picture – even though it rears its ugly head far too frequently, as witnessed by my first point in this truncated list.

And if you think I’m the only geek who believes Windows Vista RC1 is not compelling, then you need to start reading reviews outside the Microsoft echo chamber.

Vista’s user experience is just sloppy, folks – sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. I’m sure we’re going to get excuse after excuse, apology after apology, reason after reason – but nothing is going to undo what’s already been done in Vista betas to this point. I’m told that little to nothing is going to change in the UI between RC1 and Gold. We’ll see what happens in a few weeks, won’t we? I’m not holding my breath, but I remain hopeful that someone in the Quality Control department will wake up and smell the competition. Unless we see a radical system-wide improvement in the final (shipping) version of Windows Vista, my judgement on the OS will remain negative.

Without veneer, underlying code will never have a chance to shine.

The Vista Bashing Bandwagon

It’s not often I find myself agreeing with The Inquirer. Microsoft Vista is still a mess:

Vista’s still a mess. It’s meant to be at release candidate stage, yet vendor’s are struggling to provide sufficient driver support, features are still missing or not yet complete, and its performance compared to XP is still poor. Nowadays hardware is cheap, and it would be sufficiently acceptable to upgrade in anticipation of a wonderfully revolutionary OS. Unfortunately Vista provides little to no benefit for end users compared to that of the previous version of Windows, released five years ago in 2001.

Agreed. Agreed. Agreed. I think we’re all hoping for dramatic (and I mean, DRAMATIC) improvements between RC1, RC2, and Gold.