Virtual Windows

I spent the entire afternoon installing Windows XP Pro in Parallels as a Virtual Machine. Installing Windows on any PC takes a good bit of time, but as a VM, it seemed a little quicker, by a few minutes.  As long as I only have Parallels running on the OS X side, and put XP in full screen mode, it’s pretty much like having a Windows lappy.  I installed the free developer tools so I can do .Net programming and I installed an old version of Office 2000 that I purchased a million years ago when I was a loyal Windows user.

I mostly use the Windows VM for when I need to check if my web sites work with IE7 or to play with Visual Studio.  Both situations are rare.  I need to get ClamWin installed on it, so I don’t get every virus around.  But really, the thing is only on for short amounts of time and I don’t surf or do email on it.

I do like how Parallels lets you access your home folder on the OS X side from the Windows XP VM.  That’s way cool.

Show Us The Code

Ballmer is at it again, telling the world that Linux is violating Microsoft IP by including Microsoft proprietary code in Linux. This site asks him to put his money where his big mouth is or shut up and sit down. Personally, I don’t think he has a leg to stand on. If he did, he would have played his hand during the whole SCO incident. Ballmer is leaving Microsoft and his legacy will be the poor market share of his final project – Vista. Perhaps a new Microsoft will rise from the ashes. We can only hope.

Security Report Windows vs Linux

I left the Windows platform in both heart and soul long ago. It was not a sudden epiphany or a clearly marked crossover point for me, but rather, a long period of personal education and continued use of Linux. Eventually, it became quite clear to me that there are fundamental flaws in how Windows is designed that make the OS painfully open for attacks and inherently prone to unreliability.

I only had two users on my home computers, myself and my wife. My wife was used to using both Mac and Windows at her office, so learning yet another OS was not a big problem for her and she made the transition as a user pretty easily. I on the other hand, as the system administrator and user of the system, needed more hand holding and books and especially user groups to understand the new operating system.

Eventually, over a period of years, I became familiar enough with Linux administration to make my server and desktop computers do whatever I needed them to do, from the command line and from a text editor over Secure Shell. As my understanding of Linux inceased, my vocal musing about how superior it was to Windows soon gave me a reputation at work as being a “crazy Linux guy” who has no patience for the incompetence that is Windows. I yearned openly for a day when everyone used Linux and so many problems would just fade away.

Unfortunately, business uses Windows and changing the minds of business leaders who have become enslaved in poor business practices over decades of use, is pretty much impossible. So I had to maintain a foot hold in the messy, illogical world of Windows if I wanted a job in the IT industry. Now I look upon helpless Windows victims as poor unfortunate souls. I shake my head, bite my tongue and walk away.

If you find yourself in a Windows based business and are looking for ammunition to get management to switch to Linux, this report on The Register should be required reading. It sums up the valid reasons to use Linux over Windows and puts to rest much of the marketing FUD that pours out of Redmond about their hobbled OS. Good luck my friends, I hope we can eventually turn businesses back from the dark side, like Luke eventually did for his father.

Alternative Vistas

The airwaves and Internet are saturated these days by the Microsoft media blitz for their first new operating system in five years, Vista. If you listen to the mantra, you must upgrade now or the world might pass you by. I find this ironic given that the computing world has largely passed by Microsoft in the last five years. They are no longer the leader in innovation that they once were. Other operating systems are now more advanced than the long in tooth Windows XP. Vista is an attempt by a former heavy weight to get back in the ring and duke it out with newer and younger competitors.

If you are one of the unfortunate masses still slugging it out with XP, you may be wondering whether you should make the investment to upgrade to Vista or simply let it be and continue on as you have been for the past half decade. You have many options available to you, which one you choose is defined by who you are and what you need.

If you simply must have the latest and greatest from Microsoft, and don’t mind relearning things in the spirit of “innovation” then Vista is for you. But unless you just, and I mean within the past year, bought a new, high end PC, don’t bother upgrading. Vista is a resource hog and needs a high end graphics card, at least a Gig of RAM and a very fast CPU. If your PC is older than a year, you will end up laying out several hundred more dollars than the actual cost of buying the operating system upgrade. At today’s prices, it actually makes more sense to buy a new PC, that way you get the hardware Vista craves and you don’t have to muck about upgrading hardware and software.

You say you like the features of Vista, and don’t have the money for all the hardware upgrades? You can still get Vista and just live with a stripped down user experience – kind of like Windows XP offers today. In that case, what you are really getting is a bogged down PC that will look new on the surface, but will be slower than if you just reinstalled XP and did the patches to make it safe. If it sounds like what you should do is just let it be and continue using XP, then by all means, save some money now, and put it towards a new PC a year or two down the line. If you wish you had some cool eye candy like Vista and you don’t want to pay for it, you could bite the bullet and make the switch to an alternative operating system.

Linux has come a long way in the last five years and it’s now easy to install and easy to use. No, you heard me right, easy to use. If you go with a popular version like Ubuntu, you can have a modern, stable operating system for free. Linux is not a resource hog and will run fine on any computer that now handles Windows XP. You can even test run Ubuntu and many other flavors of Linux on you current PC by booting into a CDROM and loading the operating system entirely into RAM. Give it a test drive, kick the tires, see what it feels like and then take out the CDROM and reboot back into your good old Windows. If your impression of Linux is that it’s only for IT geeks who program, you are sadly mistaken. Some of the most innovative software and user interfaces are being built on Linux.

If you are ready to buy a new PC and are willing to try something other than Vista, you can always buy a Mac. The Apple operating system has had many of the same features that Vista is touting, in fact, has had them for years. As long as you are buying a new machine anyway, go with an Intel based Mac and enjoy the best of both worlds. On the latest Macs you can choose to duel boot into any version of Windows that you may currently own. If there are some programs you simply can’t do without on Windows, you can still use them on the new Mac hardware. As with Linux, the OSX operating system has Unix under the hood and a very easy to use interface. You can say goodbye to viruses and attacks that Windows users face every day from the bad old Internet.

As you can see there are many different choices available for the average computer user today. You can stick with what you have now and press on or you can dip into the fascinating and innovative waters outside of the limited Microsoft world view. There has never been a better time to explore new vistas in computing. Bon-voyage!



Silicon Pirates

I recently watched the movie  Pirates of Silicon Valley and enjoyed it about as much as one can enjoy a made for TV movie.  I would be more interested in reading a non-fiction book about the events than a trumped up TV movie’s version.  Still, it’s hard to deny how wierd Jobs is and how talentless Gates and company are.  I would like to see how the story ends.  I can imaginge that Microsoft becomes the new IBM and that Apple remains the maverick company until Jobs leaves.

Goodbye Vista Beta

I deleted the Parallels VM of Vista off my MacBook.  I never used it and it was taking up way too much hard drive space.  When I need to do Windows, I’ll go to my old Windows 2000 install on an old MPC computer that used to belong to my wife’s workplace.  I sit on a Windows box for 40 hours a week, so the last thing I want to use when I get home is more MS BS.