Archive for the ‘OS X’ Category.

Smart phones and tablets can’t replace a desktop or laptop, yet!

I completely believe that the phones and tablets like the new T-Mobile 7″ Samsung tab are going to be continue to be huge industries and will not go away as the Palm Pilot did. However, will they continue to explode exponentially as many believe? Or is there a plateau coming?

I just reviewed the Motorola Xoom and it was a great tech toy. However, it wasn’t much more than a casual gaming tool. There is a crucial flaw that has yet to be solved with phones and tablets: Typing.

No matter how fast you can type on a phone or tablet, you will never type as fast as you can on a keyboard. Might there be a solution better than a keyboard that we just haven’t discovered yet…maybe…but even if we discover it will it work on a phone or tablet?

There are certain uses for a phone:

  1. Making calls
  2. MP3 player
  3. Texting
  4. Casual gaming
  5. Visual browsing (such as checking the whether)
  6. Reading email (notice, I didn’t put writing email)
  7. Pocket Portability
  8. GPS and Navigation
  9. Quick low quality photos/video

There are certain uses for a tablet

  1. Book reader
  2. MP3 player
  3. Casual gaming
  4. Visual browsing (such as checking the weather)
  5. Reading email (notice, I didn’t put writing email)
  6. GPS and Navigation
  7. Quick low quality photos/videos

However, will the Laptop and Desktop be taken over by a tablet?  What about 20″ to 27″ monitors? Some of use need so much real-estate we have multiple monitors.  Here are using for a computer that a tablet does not solve.  For those of you thinking of going 100% to phones and tablets, you may just want to hold on.

Here is a list of requirements and uses that are met by a desktop or laptop that the phone and tablet haven’t really solved yet.

Note: I am not going to repeat the items on the list for the smart phones and tables but be aware that the only feature the phone or tablet has that a desktop or laptop doesn’t have today is pocket portability.

  1. Keyboard and typing
    1. Writing email
    2. Writing documents
    3. Creating spreadsheets
    4. Writing code, yes, even writing code for tablets
    5. Writing blog posts (like this one)
  2. CD/DVD/Blu-Ray drive (yes, people are going to still want to play there DVDs and Blu-Ray movies 10 years from now)
  3. Monitors
    1. 17″ or larger monitor
    2. Multiple monitors
    3. Viewing multiple applications simultaneously
  4. Local storage of data.
  5. Serious desktop gaming
    1. Joysticks
    2. Short-cut keys
  6. Peripherals
    1. Printers
    2. External drives
    3. Cameras and Video cameras
    4. Projectors
    5. Custom peripherals (like those that are designed for one company, telescope, craft vinyl cutters, industrial equipment, etc…)
  7. Ethernet, no not everywhere has wireless yet and some secure facilities will never have wireless or allow VPN from a 3G/4G device. Some places don’t allow web-cams or camera devices and unfortunately you can’t take your camera out of your phone or tablet.

We have been using desktops for three decades. Smart-phones and tablets are in their infancy. Many problems, including millions of custom problems for companies in all industries, have been solved using laptops and desktops. To replace desktops and laptops, these problems will have to be solved.

Many problems have solutions already.For example, blue-tooth and wireless technology can allow for peripherals but there are a lot of devices already out there that are not blue-tooth or wireless capable.

But another road block is in the way. Adoption.

Adoptions takes a long time.  First the manufacturers have to adopt a technology, design new products, produce them, distribute them.  Then consumers have to buy the new technology and if they already own an older version, that older version often has to go through its life cycle which can take a lot of years. I still have an HP LaserJet 5L from the late 90s that works perfectly. No, I am not going to invest in another laser printer until this one dies.

So will someone still be running a desktop or laptop with Windows XP/Vista/7 in 2020. Certainly.  Will they probably own a smart phone or tablet as well.  You bet!

Russian Government going Open Source…and the future

Well, I have seen governments claim they are going to open source before, but not from Russia, and not with such a realistic plan to migrate over a few years.

Here is a link to the article via Google translate:

Putin ordered the transfer of power on Linux

The now

Business drives software development.  Open Source communities help, but even today much of the ongoing development for Linux is driven by businesses such as Red Hat and Novell and others.  If you think your Linux code is being written by unpaid developers in their spare time, you are somewhat correct but only partially.  Most changes are made by developers who are paid.

While communities are nice, they can’t match the hours or output of experienced developers working forty to sixty hours a week.

Looking Ahead…the Apps…and C# (Mono)

The more open source is used in business, the more development power it will have.  But it is not the open source Operatings Systems that prevent people from moving to Linux or BSD.  Ubuntu, SUSE, Fedora, CentOS, PC-BSD, and numerous others are all very usable desktops that are user friendly.  It is the software that runs on them that everyone is waiting for.

The market is already there to make millions extra if you application runs cross platform, one Windows, MAC, Linux, and BSD.

But most the applications written for Windows, the business desktop of today, are using .NET Framework. So naturally those companies are going to want to make their code cross platform.  And they are going to find it is easier than they thought to move their applications between platforms using C#.  I have recently decided that C# is the future of applications on all platforms.

Some MAC and Linux users don’t like Microsoft and will fight off the idea of a Microsoft provided development platform such as C# (Mono) on their systems.  But when a corporation decides that you must run software X, and software X requires .NET, and you have to either give up your MAC or Linux box for a Windows box, or use C# (Mono), then users will come around.

If you are a company writing software for Windows only today and using C#, you need to take a look at Mono. Even if the return on investment of developing a C# (Mono) based version of your product is a slight loss to break even, it is an investment in the future.  Once written, maintenance costs will be less than the original development costs and that slight loss to break even margin will turn to a small profit.  And with the experience, you next app will migrate to C# (Mono) that much easier and soon, all you apps will run anywhere that C# (Mono) can run.

This is going to take off in a way Java hasn’t because developers for windows prefer and will continue to prefer .NET over Java.  And when it comes to business apps, Java just isn’t the language of choice.  Business applications are written in C#.

FreeBSD or Linux

Ok, so if you have been on my site, you know that I started with Red Hat and never really got into it, and then, settles on FreeBSD.  Why would I choose FreeBSD over Linux? It fit me better.

I actually think that everybody needs to use what suits them.

This is NOT a FreeBSD versus Linux post.  It is a site to help others who are trying to decide whether to use FreeBSD or Linux see some pros and cons and get my recommendation.


FreeBSD is not Linux or Unix exactly.  It is BSD. It has its own bsd kernel and an is surrounded by a base system.

Here are a list of positives about FreeBSD

  • It is open to proprietary code that just can’t be used in Linux, such as Sun’s ZFS.
  • It is easy to get a small install of just the base system with minimal to no features installed. (Security! Attach surface area is minimized when less software is included.)
  • Jails
  • The ports tree for compiling from source is unmatched by any Linux operating system, but if you prefer binaries, yes, it has them too.
  • Installing software has less problems as you compile it on the system, with the settings you need (rather than get binaries that may have been compiled for a different system or without the settings you need).
  • The documentation is far better than most other open source projects and better than most projects commercial or open source for that matter!
  • OS X chose to use much of FreeBSD in its underlying operating system and so when combining the OS X and FreeBSD market share, FreeBSD code is actually used on more systems than any operating system other than Windows.
  • There are not that many BSD distributions, and the ones that exist have clear focusses different than the others, that later they share.  FreeBSD is a solid server. PC-BSD is a desktop focussed on avoiding dependency problems with its software. OpenBSD is extremely securee. NetBSD is extremely compatible with lots of hardware.  They contribute back to each other often.
  • The License is free and gives everyone who uses it true freedom.
  • The License is free for commercial use.
  • Easy Editor. Newbies can actually use this editor included in the FreeBSD base system.  Don’t forget to learn vi though.
  • Patching is as simple as running freebsd-update.

Here are a list of negatives about FreeBSD

  • Hardware companies tend to make drivers for Windows and Linux first and often don’t include FreeBSD, though most hardware is soon supported.
  • There is not a native Flash Player in FreeBSD, instead the Linux version of Flash must be used.
  • There Desktop options for FreeBSD are not as rich as those for Linux (Example: KDE network settings doesn’t work on FreeBSD, but PC-BSD has their own settings now.)
  • IT/Developers forFreeBSD are harder to come by.


Linux was originally just a kernel.  The userland was separate.  Now there are plenty of projects that make a nice complete operating system using the Linux kernel and a nice base system surrounding it.

Here are a list of positives about Linux

  • It has a large user base.
  • Free to use.
  • There are plenty of distros to choose from.
  • It is no longer just a kernel but many different groups put out an actual system: Red Hat/Fedora, Debian/Ubuntu, CentOS, SUSE, Arch, Gentoo, etc…
  • A lot of work is going into the desktop environment
  • Development for any Linux platform could benefit all Linux platforms.
  • More and more hardware companies are including Linux drivers
  • Some Software companies make Linux software as well, and the number is increasing
  • Strong commercial backing (which doesn’t make sense for software licensed under the GPL)

Here are some negatives

  • There is often a lot of binary packages that just don’t work.
  • Lack of consolidation.  There are a lot of distributions of Linux and they are not the same. Which one do you choose.
  • Many Linuxes (not all) are now installing desktop software by default, and no longer are minimalistic. (Security! Attach surface area is increased when more software is included.)
  • The inability to write and distribute software that touches GPL software, without having to release your software as GPL too.
  • If you hope to do anything other than use the software or help the community, you need a lawyer to figure out how to interact with the various versions of GPL.
  • The security settings are usually not easy to use and are result in users just turning them off (i.e. SELinux)
  • Are Red Hat and SUSE open source or commercial, they sell support but the software is free, except you can’t get updates without buying support…confusing!
  • IT guys who claim to know Linux usually have done little more than run Ubuntu for a few days.

This is not a flame post and any responses that appear to be trolls will be deleted.

My recommendations

Ok, so what would I recommend if I were paid by a company for consulting?

Server (LAMP)

For a Server running Apache, PHP, SQL, often mis-termed LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL PHP) but really means any OS, Web Server, SQL, Script language.

Recommended OS: FreeBSD

Commerical Appliance

If you work for a company and you need a commercial appliance. Stay away from the dangers of the GPL, just don’t go there.

Recommended OS: FreeBSD

Open Source Desktop

For a quick desktop for a home user that has PC hardware but doesn’t have a license for Windows and doesn’t want to buy one.

Recommended OS: Ubuntu

Note: Sorry PC-BSD friends. Keep working on it.

Commerical Desktop for Employees

If you want a good commercial desktop, you should go with one of the following depending on certain factors, the primary being that some software you may need to use only runs on these two platforms.

Recommended OS: Windows 7 or OS X

However, Ubuntu, Red Hat, SUSE, Fedora, PC-BSD, are all very usable replacements depending on the situation.

Point of Sale (POS) Device

If you need to have to have a POS device for handling sales.

Recommended OS: Depends on needs

Share your thoughts

Hey, please comment.  No flame wars though.  I repeat, this is not a FreeBSD versus Linux post, but a FreeBSD or Linux post, with just some information from my experience. I appreciate all technology and any rude comments will be deleted.  However, feel free to challenge and provide facts, demand facts, etc…

Creating or opening a password protected zip file on FreeBSD

So this works on FreeBSD but it probably works on OS X, most Linuxes, Solaris, and other Unixes as well.

Installing prerequisites

In order to create a password protected zip file and later open it, two ports are needed:

  • zip
  • unzip

To install these using packages, do this as root:

pkg_add zip
pkg_add unzip

Or using ports:

cd /usr/ports/archivers/zip
make install
cd /usr/ports/archivers/unzip
make install

Creating a password protected zip file

There are a couple of different ways you may want to create a zip file. You may want to zip a sing file, or two or more files, or and entire directory and all its contents. You may also want to add a file to an existing zip file.

All of these actions can be done with a binary called zip.

Example 1 – Creating a password protected zip file containing one file

The syntax is simple. The -e parameter is to encrypt with a password. Always put the zip file first and the file to be zipped second.

# zip -e myfile1

Example 2 – Adding a file to your password protected zip file

Since your zip file already is encrypted with a password and adding a file does not require decrypting, you don’t need the password to add a file to the zip file.

# zip myfile2

Example 3 – Creating a password protected zip file containing multiple files

This is very similar to Example 1. The -e parameter is to encrypt with a password. Always put the zip file first and the files to be zipped last separated by a space.

# zip -e myfile1 myfile2 myfile3

Example 4 – Creating a password protected zip file containing a directory and all is contents.

The -r parameter is to do a recursive zip (recursive means to include the folder and all its contents). The -e parameter is to encrypt with a password. Always put the zip file first and then the directory name.

# zip -r -e mydirectory

Example 5 – Delete a file from the zip

This is easier than you think. Because you are not actually reading the contents of a file in the archive, the password is not needed to delete a file inside the zip file.

# zip -d myfile1

Opening a password protected zip file

The syntax for unzipping a file is a lot easier.  It uses a different binary file called unzip.

# unzip

The above prompts for the password automatically and unzips the files, assuming the correct password is provided.

Duct Tape recommended to fix the iPhone4!

Yes, Duct Tape gets to add one more use to it already long bag of tricks.

Ok, this is seriously hilarious. Consumer Reports is very reputable. They don’t recommend the iPhone4 but recommend that if you have one, you fix it with Duct Tape.

Can there be anything funnier?

Are you using BSD or Linux and you don't even know it?

Hello everyone,

I have had two Open Source experiences with average non-geeks that I would like to share.

Experience 1 – The in-laws are using Linux
I spent Easter at my in-laws and while I was their I of course took some time to “fix” their computers. Doing some maintenance to their computers is a regular task for me. However, they had recent purchased a new netbook and it was the only computer that they didn’t need me to work on.

“You got a new Netbook?”, I asked in surprise. Not that they consult me before every purchase but I usually hear about it. “Can I see it?” I asked.

My father-in-law, a retired seminary teacher who does real estate on the side, went and got the new little Netbook.

I booted it up and while the average person couldn’t tell it was running Linux, I immediately recognized the KDE interface despite the fact that it was tweaked to look as much like windows as possible.

I pressed “Ctrl + Alt + Backspace and sure enough Xorg restarted.

The Netbook is a pretty cool system. It is featured more like a smart phone than a computer, in that it has a tabbed window and you have a limited amount of icons on each tab, including needed items such as a browser, a documentation suite (Google Docs), etc…

My son’s grandparents are using Linux and they don’t even know it. While my curiosity told me to figure out how to enable the root account and start hacking around, I pushed aside the temptation because it was pleasure enough to know that my predictions are coming true.

I said, “By 2010, Linux will be above the watermark of requirements for the majority of users, and will start taking the market by storm.” And I am telling you it has begun.

Well, you might argue that this one purchase by my grandparents doesn’t mean this is true.

Well, I would retort that it isn’t just this one incident.

  • Netbooks are very popular and selling fairly well among all walks of life, not just to my grandparents.
  • There are many Google phones that are running Android, based on the Linux kernel.
  • Slashdot has a story where Ubuntu is claiming 12 million users and Fedora claims 24 million.
  • My company, LANDesk, continues to get an increased amount of request to support Linux flavors.

Experience 2 – A friend of a friend needing to compile an open source app on OS X
My favorite Operating System is FreeBSD, which has a great desktop version PC-BSD. While these are not exactly Linux, they are open source and actually more free than Linux (see my post on licenses). The rise in the use of FreeBSD and PC-BSD is also increasing rapidly.

Windows is the most used operating system by far. Did you know that the second most used operating system is FreeBSD-based. Yes, Macintosh users, underneath the hood of your pretty graphical user interface (GUI), you have a system that is derived in a large amount from FreeBSD.

Yes, if you are running OS X, you are running a system that is, underneath the hood, very similar to FreeBSD. It has a nice ports system called MacPorts that is a very similar system to FreeBSD’s ports system.

Well, as a replacement for a Visio diagram, I used the program Dia so that some of my friends could have the ability to modify and change the diagram (which happens about once a quarter) as desired without spending way too much for Visio when they otherwise would never ever use it. Well, a friend of a friend called me and wanted to use it.

Unfortunately at this time, Dia doesn’t have a version for OS X, but can be installed using MacPorts. So I found myself showing the average user how to install MacPorts. Unfortunately, I don’t have a Mac, so I couldn’t write a walk-thru of doing this and I don’t know if the friend of a friend was successful in installing Dia on OS X, but still, this average user wanted to do it and wanted this open source app that was available to him only because his system was derived in large part from FreeBSD.

An article on the iPad from the NY Times: Looking at the iPad From Two Angles

Looking at the iPad From Two Angles

This article is pretty cool in that it reviews the iPad from two angles: from the “techie” angle and from the “non-techie” angle, which is pretty cool. It mentioned that there is a strong polarization to either hate the iPad or be a fan of it.

The haters tend to be techies; the fans tend to be regular people.

Therefore, no single write-up can serve both readerships adequately. There’s but one solution: Write separate reviews for these two audiences.

Read more…

Keyboard Shortcuts – To all desktops everywhere, please standardize

Hello world,

I mostly use Windows 7 as a desktop but I often use FreeBSD with KDE, too.

I just submitted this wish to the KDE team.

Bug 221667 – Please make Keyboard shortcuts the same as those used by Microsoft Windows

If you agree, please Login and vote for this bug. I so want to always use the same keyboard shortcuts no matter which platform I am installed on.

This probably is not just an enhancement request for KDE but for every GUI Operating System everywhere. In fact, let’s make a standard set of Keyboard Shortcuts and have every desktop-like software use the same exact keyboard shortcuts. Maybe someone who is a member could write and RFC and publish it, or does it need to be an IEEE standard?

Anyway…I try not to rant, but today it happened. Sorry.