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Showing posts from August, 2007

Robert Love backs up my very simple performance experiment

It didn't take long for a member of the Linux kernel developer community to provide a more proper analysis of what I was able to observe on my own; that the Linux kernel, and Linux in general, is just so much superior to Vista when it comes to multimedia and network processing.

Robert Love, in a blog posting of his own, deconstructs the Vista networking problem by showing how to do it right, via the Linux kernel. Robert nailed it when he said:
Critical optimizations such as zero-copy aside, there is no excusable reason why processing IP packets should so damagingly affect the system. Thus, this absolutely abysmal networking performance should be an issue in and of itself. Unfortunately, however, the Windows developers decided to focus on a secondary effect: Tests of [Multimedia Class Scheduler Service (MMCSS), a mechanism for the automatic priority-enhancement of multimedia playback,] during Vista development showed that, even with thread-priority boosting, heavy network traffic …

Congratulations Apple!

ComputerWorld reported today that Apple now sells one in six laptops in the U.S., and is in third place behind number two Toshiba and number one H.P. Apple beat out Gateway (my computer vendor for my two business laptops) for the third place spot.

I believe the major reason for the surge in Apple sales has been drive primarily by the market's disappointment in Vista, further exacerbated by Microsoft's poor treatment of the market with WGA. I've heard many a professional non-Apple user in Orlando express a poor opinion of Microsoft since January, saying that they would probably buy Apple, at least for home or personal use.

It will be interesting to see if Linux too can take advantage of this ever growing dissatisfaction with Microsoft in the marketplace, especially on notebooks.

Microsoft underscores the fallacies of Microsoft's distributed computing

The fallout continues from Microsoft's WGA failure over the weekend. You would think that a company as large and as rich as Microsoft, with over 30 years of experience in the microcomputer industry, would understand the eight fallacies of distributed computing. They are:The network is reliable.Latency is zero.Bandwidth is infinite.The network is secure.Topology doesn't change.There is one administrator.Transport cost is zero.The network is homogeneous.It's point 1 that should draw the attention of the Softies. The network includes everything in the network infrastructure, especially the computers running the network services such as WGA at the head end. When you sit back and draw up a network diagram showing every connection point, router, and port from your PC to the WGA servers somewhere out in Redmond, it makes you wonder how it can work at all.

Don't get me wrong. From a technical perspective Microsoft's WGA across the Internet has worked quietly and reliably fo…

Democrats live up to their party symbol

As a long suffering Florida Democrat, my party's antics never cease to amaze me. Take, for example, the current mess we find ourselves in. As this story illustrates we can find more ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of political victory than Carter's has little pills. So here's the deal. Florida's Republican controlled state legislature, in a fine show of political manipulation, has moved the date of the Florida primary to January 29, 2008. The national Democratic party, in a grand and glorious show of righteous indignation over the matter, have threatened to strip us of our delegates to the Democratic National Convention if the state Democratic party doesn't change the date to something later in the year, Right Now.

What part of "Republican controlled legislature" doesn't the DNC understand? What do we do in Florida, launch a coup on the state capital and hold the Republican Governor hostage until the Republican controlled state legislature capitula…

You can rest easy tonight...

secure in the knowledge that Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage is back up and running again! According to the latest from Ars Technica,
Update: Word from Microsoft is that this problem has been fixed, and all users affected should revisit the WGA site and re-validate. There's no explanation as to why Microsoft was originally telling people to wait until Tuesday, but the good news is that the problem has been solved.So there you have it. You can now validate and re-validate and re-re-validate what you've already purchased, secure in the knowledge that Microsoft will let you use what you've already paid for. Isn't that wonderful?

Linux works just fine, thank you very much!

In the last posting I made a few snide comments about Vista's documented network (un)performance while Vista was playing back something as simple as an MP3. I found a moment this evening to set up an extremely simple experiment where I streamed a movie and played an MP3 at the same time on europa. The movie, ripped earlier this year from a DVD using VLC, was streamed from an Ubuntu 7.04 system (rhea) while the MP3, ripped from my CD of the movie sound track using K3B, was played from a local file. The two multimedia files used in this test were:
Movie: "Ghost Rider", MPEG-4, 720 x 480, two channel audio, 1.2 GiB sizeSong: "Son of Man", sung by Phil Collins from the Disney movie "Tarzan", MP3 320 KiB sampling
The two systems used in this test were:
Europa, a four-year-old 32-bit single core Athlon XP 3200+ system with an ATI 9700 Pro and 1GiB of DRAM running openSuse 10.2, andRhea, a three-year-old 32-bit single core Athlon XP 2500+ system with an nVidia…

Defective by design

ZDNet has been following a problem with Vista's MP3 playback and network performance problem. It's the digital equivalent of walking and chewing gum at the same time. With Vista, if you play back and MP3 and attempt to move anything across your network connection, then your network connection takes a severe hit (up to 90% performance degradation) until the MP3 finishes or is otherwise stopped from playing.

Call me silly, but I put a higher personal priority on network performance than playing back MP3s. If you want to play MP3s, then buy an iPod. That's what they're for. Or buy a Mac. Or run Linux on that Intel hardware you're currently running Vista on. I've never seen any problems with Linux handling multiple tasks, especially tasks involving networking and multimedia.

I'm going to have to run some network and MP3 playback benchmarks on Linux, or else find someone who has. Stay tuned.

Yet Another Reason for Linux (YARL)

Ars Technica reports that Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage servers have been down since at least Friday, and that they will continue to be down until Tuesday of next week. This outage effects Windows XP and Vista systems that need validation as "genuine" Windows, i.e. it's not a pirated copy. Here's the skinny on what not to do until this is fixed:If you use Windows, do your best to avoid anything that requires a ping to WGA. That means you should stay away from patches and add-ons until the coast is clear. WGA will not reach out across the Internet and deactivate your copy of Windows, but you should avoid talking to a WGA server for any reason.

For those of you doing installations and upgrades this weekend, we recommend that you avoid activation at this time. Remember that you can run Windows legally for 30 days without activating.

If you attempt a validation and it fails, your install may be marked as non-genuine, which could lead to several annoyances. Firs…

Angels of mercy in America

In an earlier post ("The horrors of Iraq") I raged against the monsters who burned a five year old boy. A CNN story now reports that he's coming to America to be treated for his burns, and hopefully, to be given his life back. In a nutshell:
Shortly after Youssif's story aired Wednesday, the Children's Burn Foundation -- a nonprofit organization based in Sherman Oaks, California, that provides support for burn victims locally, nationally and internationally -- agreed to pay for the transportation for Youssif and his family to come to the United States and to set up a fund for donations.

You can make a donation at the foundation's site by clicking here. There's a drop-down menu under the "general donation" area that is marked "Youssif's fund."

The foundation says it will cover all medical costs -- from surgeries for Youssif to housing costs to any social rehabilitation that might be needed for him. Surgeries will be performed by Dr. Pe…

It couldn't have happened to a nicer company

I had to log this so I could gloat. According to the article "Wii Beats the Xbox 360 in Total Worldwide Sales", the Wii has just edged out the XBox 360. And the XBox 360 has been out a full year longer than the "lowly" Wii. I know why, and it's more than just a dislike for Microsoft. I own a Wii and have since mid-January of this year. It was a late Christmas present from the family. What do I like about the Wii? It's cheap and it's fun. It's ultra compact compared to the 360 and the PS3 and it fits in unobtrusively and it's totally quiet. And it's fun. But to continue with the article:An unofficial report from VG Chartz, a web portal that tracks the sales of game consoles, has suggested that Nintendo’s Wii has surpassed Microsoft’s Xbox 360 in terms of sales worldwide.

The latest statistics from the website said that Nintendo Wii stands first with 10.57 million consoles sold, followed by Xbox 360 lifetime sales of 10.51 million units. Now, N…

Just how many Linux machines will Dell really sell?

I've been reading lately about how Dell is slated to sell just 20,000 PCs with Linux loaded on them. I've seen that number thrown repeatedly into the faces of an uncaring blogosphere by folks who obviously have no love for either Linux or Ubuntu. The source of the number seems to originate from this posting, which was itself quoting in part from an email the poster had received:We will be launching a Linux based OS (Ubuntu) on the E520, 1505 and XPS 410 starting next Thursday, 5/24. We expect these systems to be less than 1% of our OS mix for the entire year which is ~20,000 systems annually. Please cover the huddle deck below with your team by EOB Sunday. If any questions come up, please let me know so I can address them before launch.

The goal of launching Linux is to continue to give our customers more choices to customize their new Dell. Providing more options to our Linux Enthusiast customer group will hopefully create even more Raving Fans!!Now there are a lot of question…

Nano-review of Ubuntu 7.10 alpha 5, part 2

After booting this release of Ubuntu on a machine with an ATI graphics card, I moved over to my other box that has an nVidia-based Gigabyte 7600 GS AGP video card. I had no idea how Ubuntu would handle this card in a live situation. When I installed 7.04 on the machine it had, at the time, an older ATI 9600 SE video card. I replaced the ATI with nVidia after 7.04 was fully installed to take advantage of the nVidia graphics drivers.

The earlier experience with 7.10 and the ATI 9700 Pro was surprisingly good. The free driver gave me full resolution, and the desktop graphics effects were enabled and working. I was expecting a similar experience with the nVidia card. Unfortunately, it was not to be. When 7.10 booted, the desktop was in stock 1280 x 1024 resolution, and even though the Desktop effects tab showed normal effects, there were no effects. What immediately showed up on the desktop after boot was a notice that restricted drivers were available (see below). I found it odd that the …

Nano-review of Ubuntu 7.10 alpha 5

Downloaded, burned, and booted into Ubuntu 7.10 alpha 5 just to kick the virtual tires. Impressed over all with the quality of this alpha release, and I can see (and appreciate) where Canonical is going with Ubuntu. Looks like lots of work under the hood, with subtle but very important changes to the desktop. Tools are also beginning to show maturity. I am truly glad that there is now an Appearance Preferences application that combines Theme, Background, Fonts, Interface, and Desktop Effects all in one spot. After using it for five minutes all I can say is why did it take so long? It might seem insignificant but it sure helps to quickly tweak and tune the look of the desktop.


The screen shot above shows both promise and a problem. First, the promise. Europa, the system on which this live CD is running, has an aging ATI 9700 Pro video card. The free version of the ATI video driver as delivered was able to enable graphical effects previously associated with Compiz and Beryl. In fact the …

The horrors of Iraq

There are stories so horrific in nature that they rivet you to the spot in shock for seemingly timeless moments until the shock begins to wear off. One of those moments occurred today when reading a CNN.com story about a five year old Baghdad boy who was doused in gasoline and then set on fire. And then seeing the pictures. An atrocity committed by adults.

I'm a Florida Democrat. Make no mistake; I despise the current administration. I despise the presidents smart-alec smirks, his choice of political chronies that help him dilute the powers of a Constitution he swore to uphold, his choice of staff members who help twist science to support a political agenda, to Karl Rove, one of the dirtiest political operatives to ply his trade in Washington for quite some time. And come 2008 I will work to sweep the trash of the Bush administration from Washington, to replace it with someone more qualified, regardless of political party.

But I have never doubted the need to invade Afghanistan nor …

Google Earth shows the sky on openSuse 10.2

Downloaded and installed the latest release of Google Earth, 4.2.0180.1134 (beta). Here's a simple screenshot of it running on openSuse 10.2 and algol.


The latest version has a Sky mode (YouTube product demo), which is selected via a switch at the top of the window. I've spent a few minutes just looking at some of the pre-selected destinations under the Hubble Showcase. The example above is Messier 101.

There's just something seductive about flying around interstellar space from star to star, galaxy to nebula. I feel like a kid again in the 60's when I bought my first telescope at K-mart in Atlanta, a basic Newtonian with three eye pieces and a sun filter. It cost $50 of hard-earned yard mowing profits. The place I lived in at the time had a high hill in the back yard that allowed me to look down and over the roof of the house and into wide open sky. I remember seeing Saturn's rings, Jupiter and its moons, Mars, our moon, and the transit of Mercury across the Sun. I …

SPAM ALERT: Mrs. Suha Arafat asks for my help

This one is a keeper for its comedic potential. The widow of Yassar Arafat wants my help in getting to her husband's "secret bank account and [c]ompanies." I reproduce the entire document, complete with original mis-spellings.
Dearly beloved,

This mail may not be surprising to you if you have been following current events in the international media with reference to the Middle East and Palestine in particular.

I am Mrs. SUHA ARAFAT, the wife of YASSER ARAFAT, the Palestinian leader who died in Paris.Since his death and even prior to the announcement, I have been thrown into a state of antagonism,confusion,humiliation, frustration and hopelessness by the present leadership of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the new Prime Minister. I have even been subjected to physical and psychological torture. As a widow that is so traumatized, I have lost confidence with everybody in the country at the moment

You must have heard over the media reports and the Internet on the di…

NetBeans 6 nightly build on openSuse 10.2 running JOGL demo

Here's a neat trick. I installed tonight's NetBeans 6 nightly build (20708201200) and then installed the NetBeans OpenGL Pack. From there I proceeded to create and simply run one of the JOGL demos, JOGL Vertex Program Refraction Demo. The demo is a slowly rotating glass bunny in the middle of a very (very) basic 3D scene.


Remember in the last post where I threw out some very lame graphics performance numbers using glxgears? In this example I have NetBeans 6 nightly builds installed on both algol (nVidia) and triton (ATI). I can't offer numbers as with glxgears, but in both cases the demos build and run flawlessly, and their performance is indistinguishable both in rendering as well as overall performance.

I have Java 6 Update 2 installed on algol and NetBeans is running with it.

Algol is a potent little Linux platform. Java 6 and NetBeans 6 are a combination ripe with possibilities on this platform.

More testing with openSuse 10.2 latest install on algol

Previously I posted about my experiences installing openSuse 10.2 on algol, the Dual Core Gateway. For the kind of work I am involved in and based on past interests, I like to use and write applications that take advantage of the graphics hardware on the machine. One of the tests I perform is the build and installation of TrollTech's Qt toolkit on all of my machines. I always download and build the latest releases. In this case I've been installing and using version 4.3.1.

As you can see below, this version of Qt installs and everything runs, and runs quite speedily I might add.

Because this notebook uses an nVidia graphics chipset and its native drivers (100.14.11), it appears to support every OpenGL feature that Qt provides in its framework. What's more, OpenGL under the nVidia GeForce 7800 Go appears to be considerably more efficient than under the older Gateway running with the ATI Mobility X700 and its native drivers. For a very simple comparison, glxgears on algol (nVi…

Upgrading Yet Another Notebook to openSuse 10.2

It had to happen sooner or later. Over the weekend I finally upgraded my Gateway M685 to openSuse 10.2. I'd already done this with the older M680, and it had gone surprisingly well. This notebook, with its nVidia GeForce Go 7800, should have gone smooth as silk. It didn't. There were other issues as well, and I'll catalog them. Bottom line is that after more work than I expected I have the notebook updated to 10.2, and it's working more or less the way I want it to work. Notably different between 10.1 and 10.2 is the fact that Compiz is not working on 10.2.

System Hardware

Here's a list of the PCI peripherals:

00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation Mobile 945GM/PM/GMS/940GML and 945GT Express Memory Controller Hub (rev 03)
00:01.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation Mobile 945GM/PM/GMS/940GML and 945GT Express PCI Express Root Port (rev 03)
00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) High Definition Audio Controller (rev 02)
00:1c.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporati…

Pokin' around Ubuntu 7.10 alpha 4 and openSuse 10.3 beta 1

Well, it's getting to be that time of the year when the next generation of Linux distributions are ripening towards release. So I went over to the openSuse site and grabbed a copy of 10.3 beta 1 and then over to the Ubuntu testing site and grabbed 7.10 Tribe (alpha) 4.

Trying to test openSuse 10.3 beta 1 turned out to be a bust, both on the Gateway notebook (running openSuse 10.2) as well as europa. openSuse refused to boot in graphical mode on the Gateway. After the grub selection the screen went black and stayed that way. On europa I got a lot further, and was even able to test the integrity of the DVD, which it passed. But after that the installation failed because it could not see the DVD. I've had this problem in the past (most notably on the Gateway M680 with Suse 10), but never on my desktop system. Two strikes and openSuse 10.3 beta 1 was out. Maybe the next beta will work...

Then I booted the Gateway with Ubuntu 7.10 alpha 4, and that worked rather spectacularly (see im…

A Picture Worth A Thousand Words

Screenshot from CNN Money today.

Maureen O'Gara Disparages Judge Dale Kimball's Ruling, Tries to Prove the Bitch is Back

Maureen O'Gara, that intrepid American technology [sic] journalist [sic], took a swipe at Judge Kimball's ruling in SCO v. Novell. And she did it behind the ".NETDJ News Desk" byline on the cutting edge Sys-Con website, Open Source version. (If you want the entire article, Google for it. I refuse to provide a link.) How much braver can you get? So what was in the article that shows her writing fingerprints? Allow me to quote:Judge Kimball dismissed the testimony of Novell management at the time Novell sold Unix to the Santa Cruz Operation, starting with CEO Bob Frankenberg who signed the APA without reading it, testifying that the copyrights were transferred; dismissed testimony from Santa Cruz management saying that's what they thought they bought and wouldn't have done the deal without them; dismissed evidence that Novell changed the copyrights in the code to read "SCO" when the deal went down; dismissed evidence saying Novell left the copyrights …

It's all over except for the crying

I've been on vacation on Amelia Island all this week, and even I found out about Judge Dale Kimball's ruling handed down in the SCO v. Novell trial today. Granted it was about four hours after the fact, but then I am on an island at the beach. Some things just take more precedence. But the bottom line is that Novell owns the Unix and UnixWare copyrights after all. That, and SCO owes Novell a considerable chunk (95%, I believe) of the monies it earned when it sold licenses to SUN and Microsoft. All that's left now is for the dominoes to fall down on SCO in the SCO v. IBM trial as well as the Redhat v. SCO trial. SCO is so fscked.

I'd offer up a link to the story on Groklaw, but I'm so bloody tired of error messages being offered up when you do link to Groklaw stories that I'll offer up this link to The Register's story instead. You can then navigate to Groklaw on your own.

As wonderful as this news is, what would really put icing on all this for me is, when SC…

Comprehensive iPhone comparison to three other handsets

Information Week has an interesting comparison of the iPhone with the Palm Treo 755p, the RIM BlackBerry Curve, and the HTC Wing. David DeJean, the author, was looking at how these phones (the latest in their respective lines) handled Web browsing as compared to the iPhone. Along the way he came up with three rules to govern them all:
Rule #1: Does it have a full keyboard? Rule #2: The more pixels, the better. Rule #3: Browser features matter -- a lot. I'll cut to his conclusions:One thing that became obvious to me as I looked at these various Web interfaces is that data speed isn't as important as good software. Even with improvements like the upgrade of Windows Mobile to Version 6 and the spread of touchscreen support on smartphones, not much has changed. If you didn't like the PocketPC there's still a lot not to like about Windows Mobile and its Mini-Me version of Internet Explorer. Palm still hasn't delivered its next-generation operating system for the Treo lin…

Reality sinks in (a little) with the iPhone

It's no secret I've coveted an iPhonesince before its introduction. I, too, fell under the Jobs Reality Distortion Field, and I fell hard. The only thing that kept me from running out after an iPhone like a zombie after fresh meat was Apple's decision to use AT&T Wireless as its provider. That, and the fact I'd already been blinded by geek dementia over shiny new toys, and paid the price.

Now part of my willing acceptance of all things Apple springs not from the iPod, but from their more established computer lines of late, especially after Apple switched to Intel. I've watched half the Orlando SPARTA office use Mac notebooks in their day-to-day work, and I've seen the nearly-effortless way they've produced quality work, day in, day out. Of course part of the success is due to the quality of the people involved, not just the Mac. But what I've seen in this office just goes to reinforce what I've seen in the past (especially at Time Warner's F…

Older Gateway M680 notebook upgrades flawlessly to openSuse 10.2

I've spent some pretty intensive work time on my M685 notebook over the last months. My first Gateway, the M680 has been wrapped up in storage since October of last year. The M680 is the Pentium M-based Gateway on which I installed Suse Linux 10.0 (before it became openSuse). In the past few weeks, tucked in between my primary job on OneTESS and proposal work with SPARTA, I slowly began to investigate if the M680 was worth the effort of upgrading the Linux partition beyond Suse 10. The answer is absolutely yes.

After installing and tweaking Suse 10, I had a pretty solid development system. I still had to add additional libraries and upgrade some of the default tools (such as gcc) to more current versions, but overall Suse 10 on the notebook was very satisfying and effective. Rather than automatically upgrade from Suse Linux 10 to openSuse 10,2, I decided to check out three distributions to see if I should upgrade to openSuse, or pick another distribution.

For testing purposes I chos…