Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Linux FUD in College Education

My fiance started a new class this week - an MIS (Management Information Systems) class. While we were having dinner tonight she brought up the fact there are some - lets say - colorful definitions of Linux in her wonderful "Experiencing MIS" text book.

Under a section titled "What Does a Manager Need to Know About Software?" there are a number of things presented to the reader as "facts" that I just have to disagree with. It starts with a nice table describing that describes typical users for Windows, OSX, Unix and Linux desktop users. What is the description of a typical Linux user you ask?

"rare - used where budget is very limited"

That is right - the only reason to use Linux on the desktop is when you are strapped for cash. I guess Google never got that memo. The extra kick in the pants? Apparently the only commonly used application Linux has is:

"Open Office (Microsoft Office look-alike)"

Never mind that Open Office contains a sane menu interface instead of "ribbons".

In case the avid reader is curious about who created Linux - that information is here as well. Linux is developed by the "open-source community" which is described as:

"a loosely coupled group of programmers who mostly volunteer their time"

I guess they never got the memo that nearly 75% of kernel work is done by paid developers.

This is what is holding Linux back on the desktop folks. Not a lack of hardware support. Not a lack of user friendliness. Just good old fashion Linux FUD. The best thing you can do to fight things like this is to speak up and let the people spreading the FUD know it is not OK to spread misinformation. Although I must say it really irks me seeing information like this appearing in a higher education setting.

What is this wonderful text book you ask? As mentioned above it is titled "Experiencing MIS", written by a man named "David Kroenke", and published by none other than Pearson Education.

~Jeff Hoogland

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Giving Android a Chance...

It has been about six weeks since I have posted anything - and even longer than that since I posted non-Bodhi related content. I'm currently working through my final semester of graduate school and what little time I have extra has been going towards working on Bodhi things of the late.

Today however, I am bothered enough by something to share my feelings about it. If you have been by my blog here before then you might know that I am not a fan of Google's Android operating system. In fact in the past I have written why I feel it is removed from other Linux operating systems. As of the Linux 3.3 series kernel though a pile of the Android changes where merged back into the main line kernel.

Because of this re-merging and the fact that it had been sometime since I last tried Android in any form I felt I should give it another chance. I know a good amount of people that tout it's virtues and would not use anything else on their mobile devices. The recent death of the computer I'd been using as a media PC for the last three years sent me searching for a new toy. The combination of my wanting to try a recent Android release and the need to replace my media PC lead me to pick up a MK802 Android PC.

I got my little device in the mail today. I ripped open the box, plugged in all the cables and soon had Android booting on my TV! I have three needs from a media PC:
  1. Light Web Browsing
  2. Pandora Internet Radio
  3. Play Media from my External Hard Drive
The MK802 did the first two with ease - the web browser loaded right up and I was soon viewing the Bodhi forums without issues. To take care of my second need, I popped open the Google Play store and installed the Pandora application. 

The issues started when I attempted to play some media files from my external hard drive. I plugged in my drive to the USB port and popped open the file manager - I poked around in all the options but the drive was nowhere to be found. Then I noticed a notification in the lower right corner of the screen, it read:

Damaged USB Storage - You may have to reformat it.

I'd never seen this message on a system powered by a Linux kernel before. I'd seen it a couple of times when friends had tried using my external on their Windows or OSX PCs. My drive is formatted to EXT4 you see. Apparently this file system isn't support on my Android device. That is right, this "Linux" PC doesn't support my Linux file system.

The solution to this issue? I've been told I need to compile a custom kernel module to add ext4 support. If I am going to spend that much effort getting Android to work I would rather devote that effort towards getting Debian to boot on the MK802 instead. So much for Android being easy.

~Jeff Hoogland