Monday, 5 November 2007

Microsoft - The Anti-Linux Keyboard

Welcome to LinuxScorecard, Have you gone keyboard shopping lately? Microsoft are a big player in this space, but have you seen what they've started to do with the INSERT key?

Either they find INSERT an affront to humanity, or they are trying to make life hard for the Linux community because they have relegated the INSERT key on their newest keyboards to an ALT position on the PrtScn / SysRq key.

For those who don't know why this matters, think about the linux / unix terminal. Want to copy something? You can't use CTRL-C because that sends and escape command, so you you use CTRL-INSERT instead.. Well I don't even know HOW to do that on a new Micrsoft keyboard.

I just don't see ANY logic here apart from messing with the Linux community. I don't NEED a double sized delete key ( although I understand that it makes CTRL-ALT-DELETE easier for PC users ). Neither do I see the DELETE key as being any more important than the INSERT key.. Backspace, sure, but delete?

Come on Microsoft - you are getting pissy.

As an aside, while looking through the latest keyboards from Microsoft I noticed that they need up to 100MB of free disk space for drivers!!!!ARE YOU F**KING KIDDING ME? In 1982 I was playing chess on a Dragon 32.. a wopping 32k and Microsoft need 100Mb for a mouse and keyboard driver!

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Microsoft launch campaign worthy of a politician in it's vagueness

Hey, welcome to Linux Score Card Sorry.. I was doing well for a while pulling all the relevant links together about Linux making headway worldwide, then I got waylayed.

I've come out of retirement because of THIS monstrosity of an ad which I increasingly see coming up on Linux related pages. I hate advertising like this that is designed to confuse, but just incase you missed it:

1) When they say "State Government" what they really mean is one guy ( who NO LONGER works for state government ) said this.. not that this is the position of "state governments".

2) If you dig a bit deeper you'll find that perhaps MS should have quoted around something a little safer. This article details the gray areas around the claims and how that very state government is floundering around trying to find someone who can actually prove the claim.

3) As far as I can tell, all this hype is around "messaging". The claim is a saving of over $10M over 5 years. I think we are talking about a massive Exchange Server installation here.

So what to make of it? Well from my perspective Paul Campbell is an idiot if he REALLY said what they say he did.. that he didn't choose linux as a server technology because he didn't have time for a "science project", or to TRAIN people.. yeah.. like Exchange Server is the simples piece of software on the planet and can be administered by your average IT intern.

If they could save $10 by using Exchange, just THINK what they could have saved if they'd used Zimbra to get the same features! Server savings alone would be astronomical, but on top of that, all the potential savings from not having to splash out on MS Office for every employee and their dog, as Zimbra is much more generically supported across PCs, Macs and Linux desktop clients as I've discussed here.

Anyway - it pissed me off.. so here I am. Go check it out yourself. I'd give you the link, but better still go to and you'll find the ad on pretty much any linux related page. 

Click it and let Microsoft pay for their propaganda campaign.

Oh.. Getting Dugg very nicely.. Hi Diggers!
I just noticed one of my older posts about Illinois:

Quote: "anville School District 118, located in neighboring Illinois, has taken their Linux desktop savings one step further. By pioneering Omni's "Multiplied" SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop Strategy, Danville School District 118 has reduced their hardware costs by 50%, their electricity costs by 62%, and saved the district thousands of dollars on costly Internet drops, switches, network wiring and other infrastructure and support costs."

Microsoft didn't mention this

Monday, 5 March 2007

[Opinion] Switch to Linux? No. Get a Mac Clone.

I'm a marketing guy, and I look at everything in my world from a marketing perspective. From that perspective I think this whole "Switch to Linux" thing is unnecessarily hard work - so I take an easier approach to help people move in that direction.
I'm not ashamed to say that anyone looking at my Linux desktop right now would think I'm using a Mac. 

For me it's a no brainer. Apple spend millions of dollars designing how the standard elements of their UI are visually represented. Why should I think that I can create something better all by myself? For that matter, why should KDE or Gnome think they can either? No - I just enjoy the fact that there is a UI backed by mountains of usability testing and market research, and I can copy it to help my productivity.

I'm not much of a Mac fan, but I think they do some things well, and I'm seeing more and more people talking about the Mac as a possible move for them.

Anyway. That's not the point of this article. There is something far more important here. An opportunity for the Linux community if they can stomach the idea. A way to make it much easier to introduce and promote this great operating system we've grown to love.

Here's the thing. I've noticed a significant difference in the response from people between:

"Why don't you install Linux"
"Why don't you turn your PC into a Mac clone?"

Now before both the Mac and Linux readers explode in unison take a breath and keep reading. Calm down.. here's a quiz.

Q. If you install Linux on a PC do you get a Mac? 
A. No.

Q. If you install a hacked Mac OS on a PC is it a Mac? 
A. Hmmm. Yes and No.. Kinda!

Q. If you install Windows on an Intel Mac is it a Mac? 
A. I really don't know.

Q. If you install Linux on a Mac, is it still a Mac? 
A. Stop asking hard questions!

Q. If a wodgemord looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck is it a duck?
A. No, but a good way to create clarity about what it is would be to describe it as a duck clone.

See what I'm getting at? There are definitely some gray areas here.. and that's why I think it's perfectly OK to kick off a Linux discussion with some gray-talk of your own because it helps the overall understanding.

So - without some of the knee jerk reaction, let's look at why it might be a good idea to talk about Mac Clones. You see from a "sales" perspective, if you want to persuade people to install Linux purely from a Linux perspective, you have some educating, and re-educating to do. 

Depending on what they already know you may have various notions to overcome. The whole "it's for servers" thing. You have to explain that weird notion of free software that is Office compatible. Oh - and the tough one.. It's sexy out of the box, but install some extras and Linux has more eye candy than Mac and Windows combined!

But explain that Linux can be set up as a sort of "Mac clone?" Sure - that's just the beginning of the conversation but in terms of them wondering "in broad terms, what are we talking about here" they get it. You're done.

This isn't rocket science. Think about when the car was invented. How would you have tried to sell it? Would you get better results talking about a "car" or a "wagon that moves without being pulled by horses". See, when you want to explain something unknown, the best thing to do is map an association to something that is known. To most people what is "known" about specific operating systems is how they look.

Don't get me wrong. I'm well aware of the differences between Linux and a Mac. The tight integration between OS and hardware of a Mac, the Apple software suite and all that stuff.. but guess what. From the perspectives of operating system, UI and ability to achieve tasks with software, a desktop Linux distribution has more similarities to a Mac than anything else I can think of. It also has more similarities than dissimilaries!

Here's the crunch though. Even if from a logical viewpoint this whole thing holds water there is one massive hurdle. 


I think that even if this idea proved to be the best possible way to increase Linux adoption, many in the Linux community would rather die than refer to their beloved OS as a "clone" of something when many believe Linux to actually be superior. The fact that it's just using language that resonates with the person who is listening is irrelevant.

Well that's just dandy - but sad, because when ego takes the wheel the real objective is usually thrown out the window (assuming that Linus adoption is an end goal of Linux developers - mostly true).

Because of ego, the knee jerk reaction to this article from both sides will be negative. It will become a discussion of specifics. For sure, we can expect the whole "well x is just a copy of y" from both sides especially in the whole eye candy department - and it's a dumb argument because it doesn't matter. 

Look and Feel?

I'll share my thoughts on this one as it's getting old reading the same old comments from both sides in blogs. Nobody can hold their head high here. Xerox came up with the real genius in the foundational research and development and not much has been added since. Apple copied it. Microsoft then copied Apple. Linux, moving into the desktop copied the best of everything. Who is now innovating? Windows, Mac and Linux are all developing different interpretations of how to combine the same old elements but nothing staggeringly new has come along! Everyone is just tweaking the same building blocks that Xerox invented in the 70s. 


So where does that leave us? Well - I personally know for a fact that the easiest way I can help Linux adoption is to kick off a discussion by saying "I use a sort of Mac clone. It's really linux, but I've made it look and act just like a new Mac. Oh, by the way.. everything is free and it runs well on old hardware!" Bang. Done.

That's somewhat wordy, and the job would be much easier if a project came together to bundle all the Mac like elements available to KDE and Gnome into a simple package for each major distro. Then I'd be able to say, "I made a Mac Clone by installing X then adding packing Mac-a-like - it's all free by the way".

Maybe even one day that could be boiled down to, "I made a Mac Clone by installing Mac-A-Like Linux" although not sure that such a distribution would survive the wrath of Apple.

I'm not saying this is the only way to push Linux, nor the best in all circumstances. What I am saying is that there is no shame in it. Linux is still great, even if it puts on a Mac mask, just like Dell, Gateway and Compaq were great, even when they were thought of as IBM Clones.

And to finish this article, Kudos to Linux. I get two reactions when people look at the desktop on my Laptop and Desktop. One is.. "Er.. is that a Mac?" and the other is "Why don't you just buy a Mac?". Well kudos is due, because I don't NEED to buy a Mac. I can get the Mac look and feel, which I like, and the massive productivity boost of the desktop cube ( and enjoyable extras ) even on my three year old HP laptop. 

If you are willing to think of a Mac as a Ferarri, then I'm driving something that looks like a Ferrari, and has many of the attributes of a Ferrari, and arguably in some ways is better than a Ferrari when all I've done is buy 3 year old Camry and add some free parts. 

There simply is not a real life parallel to what the Linux and the Open Source movement have delivered to the world.