Category Archives: Software
In the world of Linux distributions, it’s fairly easy to get lost trying to figure out which “flavor” of Linux fits you best. As the user, you have a plethora of desktop interfaces, default apps, package managers, and bundled services to choose from. This can be a major barrier for someone new to Linux, and an endless journey for a veteran user who hasn’t yet found their “perfect” distro. For either type of user, there’s a new distribution in town that can meet their needs: elementary OS.
elementary OS released the first version of their Linux-based OS, version 0.1 “jupiter,” in April 2011 and recently released the beta version of their upcoming version 0.2 “luna,” which is nearly a complete overhaul of the OS. I recently installed elementary OS on an older Asus Eee PC and gave it a spin. Overall, I was very impressed with what elementary had to offer.
When I was young, Windows held a special place in my heart. It was the operating system in which video games were developed for, and to me its sole purpose was, to execute games. Since then, I have observed the vast range of OS’s, new and old, contrasting the pomposity of Mac’s OS X to the inexhaustible community driven distributions of Linux. Many of my friends have departed from Windows, moving to Linux and Mac OS X but these are not the right instruments for me. Linux and Mac cannot get the job done, but Windows can. The majority of Americans turn to Windows to industrialize their thoughts and efforts each day. Windows 7 has matured into an invaluable instrument for business and consumers alike. Will Windows 8 be able to carry on where 7 left off? Or will its modernisms turn it into the next Vista?
Let’s find out.
The instant you tap the Power button on your Windows 8 PC something unexpected happens: you don’t have to wait. Yes, that is a bit of an embellishment of Windows 8 boot capability, but I am thrilled to say it boots remarkably fast, quicker than any OS I have formerly seen. In less than 60 seconds you are in; though I can imagine it is not what most users anticipated. Windows no longer takes you to the sanctity of your desktop; rather you are situated in a screen full of tiles, similar to icons, known as the Windows 8 ‘Start Screen’:
In the world of tablet computing there stands one king: the Apple iPad. I presume every article written about a tablet will generally start this way and say, “The Android blank blank can best the iPad in blank blank areas, but in the end the iPad is a better deal in its price range.” I believe that manufacturers have to understand one thing about the niche markets Apple creates, even though tablets are currently crawling into the mainstream market: You cannot directly compete with Apple unless you are putting an ecosystem around the product. Sure the Apple iPad is great, but I could name better tablets. However, I would not suggest buying those tablets, because other than the tablet itself you are not getting much else. Apple is the market leader because of the fact that their ecosystem provides end-to-end solutions for just about everything. Apple is the forerunner of innovative software solutions and has been doing a great job in the consumer space so far.
What does all this have to do with Microsoft’s new tablet, the Surface RT and Pro? Well, Microsoft is the only other company that can offer the ‘total package’ Apple users blather about, and I believe it can do it far better.
Valve co-founder and current managing director Gabe Newell recently made it pretty clear how much he really hates Windows 8. Two weeks ago, Valve officially announced that they would be porting their Steam distribution service to Ubuntu and would be working to natively support Valve games on Linux, starting with Left 4 Dead 2. Their drive behind the project: Newell’s belief that Windows 8 will be a “catastrophe” for PC users.
Granted, Gabe’s got a bit of a habit of dropping bombs on people – five years ago he called the PS3 a “total disaster on so many levels.” Unsurprisingly, he wound up going on to apologize to the makers of the Playstation 3 in 2010 for his remarks. But when Phoronix’s Michael Larabel went to visit Valve’s Linux offices this past April, he was shocked to see Newell speaking like a died-in-the-wool open source supporter – so much, in fact, that Larabel wondered how the man could have ever worked at Microsoft for over 13 years.
Why all the harsh rhetoric for Windows 8? Why the sudden push for open source? Despite Half Life: Episode III now being five years in the making, Newell seems to be pretty excited about Valve’s new project. At a reception at the Casual Connect game conference in Seattle, Newell stated that their “perception is that one of the big problems holding Linux back is the absence of games. I think that a lot of people — in their thinking about platforms — don’t realize how critical games are as a consumer driver of purchases and usage.”
I think any gamer will agree. In fact, it’s one of the reasons I never installed a Linux distribution on my personal laptop. Plus, if anything is going to make a real impact on the way game developers look at Linux, it’s going to be Steam, which is now the largest third-party distributor of digital entertainment. So naturally, open source advocates are pretty excited about what this new development could mean for Ubuntu and the Linux platform as a whole.
But Newell’s recent praise about the virtues of open source seems fishy at best. Besides the obvious compatibility issues with Linux (which I bring up below), there’s the simple fact that even a Windows 8 catastrophe will probably not spell the doom of Microsoft. And let’s not mince words – despite Gabe’s push for open source, Steam will pretty much be anything but. So what effect will Steam have on Linux users in the long run? Quite frankly, probably none at all.
BitTorrent lovers everywhere have been facing quite a bit of adversity from Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Since the words “torrent” and “piracy” seem to go hand-in-hand these days, ISPs have recently resorted to throttling or even blocking BitTorrent traffic. What do you do when you’re stuck in a situation like that? If you’re anything like the rest of the Internet users out there, you find a new way to download your files.
BitTorrent is a protocol for file transfer. Rather than download files directly from one source to the user’s computer, a user connects to multiple other sources, or “seeds,” that have partial or full copies of the files they are trying to download. The download process is usually initiated by opening a torrent file that defines where to look in order to determine which other users in the network have the files the user wants. The program that opens these torrent files is called a BitTorrent client. The client then begins to download the files from the other users in the network. In this manner, the BitTorrent protocol is implemented as a peer-to-peer network.