The amazing thing about technology is that the curiosity and spirit of a new system does not depend solely on the expense of the product. This fact is upheld repeatedly when open source technologies launch their impressive additions to existing technology, in the market. The latest to join this impressive line is Ubuntu’s 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot.
OpenOffice and its curiously similarly named counterpart LibreOffice are officially neck-in-neck. Despite Oracle’s backing of OpenOffice, LibreOffice is still kicking, and recently received over $68,000 in funding — in just eight days.
The fundraising effort from LibreOffice maker Ubuntu was short, sweet, and everything they need for now. Their over 2,000 donors raised enough money to serve as capital for setting up the Document Foundation, a goal to become a legal entity in Germany.
Well, nobody gets tired of making predictions, or at least thinking of what the future looks like. Predictions were made for several technological categories like Security, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and a more generic forecast on Information Technology as a whole. Similarly, we can never stop thinking of making forecasts for one of the most loved technology solutions in the world – Open Source.
Ubuntu has always, by default, comprised of GNOME as its desktop environment. The upcoming latest model of Ubuntu (Natty Narwhal version 11.04) will now be using the 3D-enabled Unity desktop by default which will be accompanied by the Wayland graphics system. This one too is based on GNOME thereby it won’t be a problem for users to use any of the GNOME applications.
Though there has been much written, spoken, discussed and reported about open source software, there still seems to be a very small portion of the world that is using the open source software systems. It seems as though there is an apprehension amongst PC users to switch from the familiar Microsoft operating systems to GNU/Linux FOSS. However, lately the launch of the latest versions of several Open Source distributions has changed the scenario making the open source OS to be very similar to the Microsoft OS and sometimes even more convenient.
In light of this there is a new development in the technology world that has taken place. Renowned PC maker Dell has started to produce desktops and laptop notebooks that have in it installed the Ubuntu operating system, which apparently is the world’s leader in the open source OS market. It is not just that the Dell notebook or desktop would cost lesser with the open source OS, but there are additional benefits that come along with it too like, lesser cost of additional software, reduced lead-time to perform software registration and licensing formalities, little or no cost of upgrading the OS in the future and no problems are faced with regards to privacy.
The new Linux Mint 10 and Ubuntu 10.10 have recently made their presence felt in the open software operating system market and with every latest edition of an open source OS product hitting the marketplace, there is advancement and an upgrade that surely goes into them making them more user-friendly and beneficial in terms of costs and efforts. Of course, it is a smart move to make when a user shifts from windows or Mac OS X to becoming a full-time Linux user since there is not much of cost involved in using the latter.
After drooling around with the biannual release of Ubuntu, I got a chance to caress an Arch Linux distribution. Arch Linux is a simple, flexible and lightweight distribution system. The developers of Arch Linux have decided to concentrate on three very significant things code accuracy, elegance and simplicity.
Simplicity; according to Arch, is defined as “…without unnecessary additions, modifications, or complications.”
Before you jump on to download an .iso, you may want to check out the Arch Linux gallery that carries some beautiful screenshots.
What’s amazing is to observe that the sole attention of Arch Linux is to keep things simple. They are almost obsessed with the use of the word simple! A detailed installation guides and download options for users is a perfect combo for the uninitiated.
The installation is smooth, even for a newbie – reboot, partitioning, keyboard, time zone, etc., and you’re done. What follows is the Arch Linux Logon screen!
The history of Arch Linux goes back to the attempt by Judd Vinet when he wanted to have his own ideal distribution system which should be simple. Jude explained the correct interpretation of ‘simple’ by stating,
Simple does not mean “newbie friendly”, instead it means that the system is structured in such a way that a user can easily configure it to his liking by changing simple configuration files and installing just what he needs.
There are a plethora of features which make Arch Linux one of the best Linux distributions. A few of them include;
- The base Linux system that gets automatically installed with Arch Linux gives the user an option to configure or expand depending on his utility parameters.
- It uses the widely acclaimed Pacman Package Management system which helps the user choose a program from its own repository wherein it is stored.
- The Rolling Update system constantly updates any new installations for trouble free and fast usage of the system.
- The Arch Build System or ABS helps by combining all the necessary information in a package. This packaged file can be used as and when required for whichever purposes it suits the best.
With these efficient features, Arch Linux becomes a truly great distribution for Linux. It ensures that the users implement the ‘Do-It-Yourself’ philosophy which helps in providing a ‘works-for-everyone’ experience, helping a system become easy to use and stable in its operations. Even the minutest of details can be easily understood and configured with the utmost of ease. Ubuntu, which is one of the favorites has grown far and wide over the past few years but Arch Linux is another good cookie in the box. It does not position itself for the newbies, but once one becomes accustomed to it, the chances of achieving high satisfaction levels are supreme.
Photo by DBking
There has been a lot of debate over several blogs on why Linux desktop would score over others and why would it not. The discussion is undoubtedly going to last long. The Linux desktop has also undergone many a polls, criticisms and appreciations alongside. Unique features and robustness over old hardware along with performance benchmarks that this desktop provides has always led to Linux enthusiasts being very optimistic about the advantages of the same and is a reason for a strong belief in the operating system.
Few strategies and tips that make Linux desktop score over others and compete in the target segment include the following cases;
- Windows and Mac have had a strong hand in the community of novice user as well as designers over a long period of time and it would take Linux community to put in quite an effort to score over them in the all purpose category. The smart thing to do here would be to measure up where these desktops lack, measure up the grey areas and build a desktop which serves these niche usages. That is what distributions like Ubuntu are doing today.
- Most Linux desktops aim at casual computer users to use and get acquainted to it. However, targeting certain features and performance bottlenecks shall help getting more Linux fans, be it computers or mobile applications. The key lies in selecting a particular target market and delivering the best to them in order to satisfy and surpass the expectations of these users.
- To get Windows users move their baggage to Linux club, a Linux desktop should ideally be designed considering the extensive features such as hibernate, sleep, power saving options and instant on/off options. Another important feature which Linux takes care of is the battery life of a laptop while running a Linux distro.
- The form factor is another front which needs to be changed and worked on really well for the Linux desktop to succeed. It should be different from a generic laptop in more than one way. Key things to work is to change the perception people have towards GNU/Linux by highlighting features which make it stand apart and taking care of issues which create a dilemma in a user’s mind to switch to a free operating system for any good.
- The pricing strategies for the same need to be spot on. May be at times, the free factor suppresses the value of the product. Often, it is better to serve a niche and be the leader than try and imitate features of a different operating system which has a higher follower count. The aim should be to make it of being more value to the users and if this makes a distro a paid affair, the value for money shall be quantifiable.
I found that Joe Brockmeier phrases the entire scenario very precisely. He says that the three important things that Linux desktop actually needs are applications, multimedia and polish. These three things have it in them to add more value to the users. The Linux desktop more than anything else needs an extensive support of its die hard proponents which will be helpful in creating a buzz and hence serve the purpose by establishing a strong word of mouth.
Photo by Magicfab
With the advent of the latest release of probably the most preferred Linux distro, Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope), life for a lot of has become simpler. I have been loving the changelog that Ubuntu team works on. With their six-monthly release schedule they come back with better UI, support for new technologies, newer kernel, etc. You may wish to check out the scintillating features of the latest release.
I wonder if a lot of reader know the Ubuntu philosophy which says “I am what I am because of who we all are“. Ubuntu, from its birth has focused on providing a stable, user friendly and easy to install and up to date operating system.
What adds to the glory is the availability of numerous free applications that help you do most of what you’ll need to pay for on a alternative operating system.
The following are a few useful tools which make life simpler;
- APTonCD – A tool that can be used to create local repositories for the various downloaded files from the web keeping the dependencies on a DVD/CD intact. This also permits the installation of these packages on another installation without the usage of internet.
- CheckGmail – One of the easiest and smallest tool that positions itself in the taskbar and notifies a user whenever there is a new Gmail in the mailbox! On clicking the small notification window, the default browser leads you to Gmail.
- Ubuntu Tweak – With the use of wizard based easy to use interface, this tools helps in easy configuration of Ubuntu. This makes a lot of tedious tasks simpler. A must have for noobs.
- 3UNetbootin – Well known as Universal NetBoot Installer. It eases the installation on either a HDD partition or a USB drive. Another point worth noting down is that it is available both on Linux and Windows platform.
- GSmartControl – Control and monitor storage systems by using Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology System (SMART) which is built in ATA and SCSI hard-disks. By installing this tool, various information about the Hard Disk Drive such as its state, degradation and other parameters is made available for easy viewing.
You may use the inbuilt package manager to search and install these applications with a few mouse clicks.
I could find a lot of other interesting tools as well which help optimizing your Linux installation with their powerful-yet-simple UI. Most of these tools intend to improve the overall performance of the system.
Another key concern for novice users is the presence of hacking element which tend to create vulnerability. You may like to have a look at this interesting Ubuntu Geek article that showcases few tools that help you safeguard your beloved Ubuntu installation gainst security issues and concerns.
Before we close, I would like to share an interesting list of bandwidth monitoring tools for Ubuntu users.