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Friday FOSS Week in Review – Android Coming to PC

It’s been rather hectic here at FOSS Force this week. You might have read that we had to replace our old worn computer with a new-to-us (that means “used”) box, and we’ve been spending the week configuring our POS app, plus downloading and installing all of the stuff we need to operate our daily business.

This means, however, that the FOSS Force army is currently working in (ugh) Windows. We’ve got a key dreaded legacy app we use that’s Wintel, and we’re not partitioning the drive and installing Linux to run it in WINE until we’ve thoroughly tested the new/used box and determined it fully ready to go. Don’t fear, however, everything else here is open source. I’m writing in OpenOffice, doing graphics work in Gimp, emailing in Thunderbird and browsing in Firefox. By this time next week, we’ll hopefully be running Linux.


But first we’ll have to figure out what distro to use. With Mandriva’s future in doubt, we figure it’s time for us to say goodbye to our favorite workhorse desktop and go on to something new. The obvious move, of course, would be to move to PCLinuxOS, but we’re also thinking about biting the bullet and installing Debian. All we know for sure is we don’t want to go the Ubuntu/Kubuntu route, as that would seem too much like crowd following to us.

If you have any suggestions, we’ll gladly listen.

Now, on to the news…

Is Linux Safer Than Windows?

You might have noticed the news last week about Dell doing a little cutting and pasting on the Ubuntu page on their website. Originally, item 6 on their list of reasons to use Ubuntu praised Linux as safer than Windows, mentioning the fact that most malware targets Windows. That line was suddenly changed recently to read, “According to industry reports, Ubuntu is unaffected by the vast majority of viruses and spyware.”

This, of course, led to more than a little speculation on the blogosphere about Dell’s reason for the change. Did Redmond make some threats? Or did their legal folks only make a recommendation?

Yesterday ZDNet UK published a blog pointing out that in a video on the same page the original “Linux is safer than Windows” claim is still being made:

“It’s safe and secure. Over 95 percent of viruses, spyware and other types of malware are designed and targeted to attack Microsoft Windows. So, by definition, if you’re not running Microsoft Windows and if you’re running Linux, you just don’t have to worry about malware and viruses and spyware.”

“There’s a lot of reasons consumers like Linux. No. 1: it’s a powerful operating system. It can do lots of things very fast.”

“It’s extremely stable… It’s very rare for the system to lock up or freeze… there’s no Blue Screens.”

No such ambiguity coming from Red Hat, however. Last week, at the Red Hat Summit in Boston, a senior security engineer, Josh Bressers, didn’t quibble when he said:

“We don’t have clothes on. …We have no secrets. We can’t sneak a security patch in. You can just look at the source code.”

Here at FOSS Force, before we put our new computer online with Windows we had to download and install antivirus and a firewall – and we’re still probably not secure. Next week, when we get around to installing Linux, all we’ll need to do is configure iptables and we’ll be good to go. You be the judge on which is safer.

More News from Dell

I hate to pick on Dell, they employ a lot of people here in our area, but there’s been some more damning news that proves my point that you’re better off buying a white box built by a local computer retailer than purchasing a brand name computer.

On Monday, the New York Times reported that Dell knowingly shipped millions of computers with faulty capacitors that burst and leaked, ruining motherboards, between 2003 and 2005. Not only that, they went out of their way not to make their customers whole when they complained. Some large companies that purchased thousands of these computers found Dell balking when they tried to invoke their warranty. According to the article, Dell sometimes got quite creative with their excuses:

“After the math department at the University of Texas noticed some of its Dell computers failing, Dell examined the machines. The company came up with an unusual reason for the computers’ demise: the school had overtaxed the machines by making them perform difficult math calculations.”

For three years now, a lawsuit has been pending.

Android on Your PC?

According to EnterpriseMobileToday, Intel is in the process of porting Android 2.2 to x86. Although they’re doing this to gain traction for their Atom processor on mobile, my guess is that as soon as it’s done someone will begin work on a cool desktop version of Android. Stay tuned…

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That’s it for this week. Have a wonderful weekend and a fun 4th! I’ll see you Monday. Until then, may the FOSS be with you…

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Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux.

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