Monday, July 31, 2006

A Simple solution for Vista upgrade and WGA woes

I've Just read 2 articles. The first describes the "upgrade matrix" for Vista options. One of my machines runs XP Pro 64. The only option there is a clean install. That was quite a surprise! A clean install and re-install of main software takes 1.5 to 2 chargeable person days. It really is quite expensive and a last resort action.

My Tablet will only go to Vista Business or Enterprise, and the M$ pricing history for Business software has always been pretty aggressive. The other XP Pro machines also can only go to Business or Enterprise. I want to keep one environment M$ to ensure client compatibility, so that will mean one machine with Vista Business and the new Office. That won't be cheap, and therefore I really do not want to buy any more copies than I have to. I'm identifying the Windows software that I just "can't" do without and moving it to one of two machines - a laptop for mobile work, and a desktop/server for static development.

Every utility I use is re-evaluated - is it multi-platform? If not, is there a multi-platform alternative? Although functionality, not price, is the main requirement, the answer is usually in the open source arena. This is a trend that will impact software suppliers. The assumption that customers will automatically move to Vista has a questionmark over it. I've been using Open Office as my main work platform for some time to ease the transition and test for compatibility issues. I'm ready for Vista conversion and the following linked article just confirms my "Vista upgrade" strategy.

WGA and Activation Failures Don’t Faze Redmond at American McGee’s Blog
A few days ago Windows XP on my primary work computer decided that it wasn’t a legal copy. Strange since the copy running on there was pre-installed at the time that the machine was built by Alienware. There used to be a Windows serial number on the back of the machine, but the sticker has since fallen off. What’s worse, as soon as I started receiving the dreaded, “You may be a victim of software piracy…” notices, I also started noticing increased system instability. All of this culminated in what I can only assume was some form of malware infection, a hardware crash (related to my soundcard), and a pretty complete system failure.

I was angry for a moment, but then I realized: I don’t much like Windows anyway. So I wiped the offending garbage from my machine and installed Ubuntu Linux. All in all a painless process.

The truth is, Ubuntu “out of the box” is a little lacking (can’t play proprietary video formats, run PC apps, is missing much needed apps, etc), but with the use of an installer script called Automatix, I now have a free, highly functional, and stable OS. And it’s pretty to boot.

Matthew Newton from PC World has an article on installing and using Automatix at

Free Agent: Ubuntu's Missing Batteries Automatix makes supercharging Ubuntu Linux as easy as point and click.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Mac and Open Source

Mac support for multiple OS's is starting to generate some serious "wind beneath its wings". Reports are starting to trickle in on the iPod generation going straight to Apple for the college computer. Odd things are happening as the changes ripple through with early adopters giving way to more mainstream users using Macs for Mac and Linux.

O'Reilly Network -- How Does Open Source Software Stack Up on the Mac?
Recently on the O'Reilly Radar, it was noted that several well-known Mac folks are switching to Ubuntu Linux. One of them, Mark Pilgrim, directly juxtaposed several of Apple's stock apps to open source software (OSS) alternatives on his blog, and this got me pondering how well Apple's stock apps really stand up to some of the alternatives out there--especially from the OSS community. For that matter, how many high quality OSS alternatives are there for Mac users?

It turns out that OSS is doing amazingly well for the most part. As might be expected, there are still some gaping holes to be filled, but in many others, Apple would do well to start taking notes. I'm going to take a brief look at the landscape for some of the most common stock apps and assign each of those application categories some health grades. The more high-quality alternatives to Apple's stock apps there are, the higher we'll grade the category's health, and vice versa.