Monday, October 19, 2009

Have you ever considered Linux?

To cut the story short, I actually have been spending the last two weeks on 64 bit Ubuntu Linux.

It was fast. So fast. There was no lag on Eclipse mouse and key strokes as experienced on Vista. GWT compile was somewhat faster. I also feel GAE jetty response is faster. The Gnome desktop was great, though I am reading that KDE might be a better choice, aesthetically. And most of all, unlike Vista, the screen does not traumatize you blanking out for a few seconds each time it requested superuser privileges. What were the Vista designers thinking about? I am always wanting to ask any Vista insider - what the heck were you thinking or smokin when you introduced the pre-permission blank screen?

The installation was also less tedious and quicker than installing a Windows operating system. I used to worry that with the amount of features and infrastructure Microsoft provides that Linux had no means of being a viable or practical useable office networked deployment. After really using Linux, I am starting to worry for Microsoft because my twenty years of experience in IT for office and factory automation is telling me that Linux deployment is more supportable and office-sustainable and would be cheaper to maintain than a deployment based on Microsoft Windows. My concern now is how to keep a lid on Linux and continue keeping financial decision makers hoodwinked so that corporations continue to be addicted to Microsoft and so that Microsoft would not become another, now defunct, Digital Equipment Corporation. A financially viable Microsoft is good for the world - if not for the world, at least for this country.

I chose Ubuntu over Fedora because, well ... Dell chose it. Therefore, while I am more informed on Ubuntu now due to my focused attention on it, I can safely profess I have had insufficient exposure to Fedora to compare Washington apples with California apples.

Due to my prior exposure to Solaris and VMS, I have a strong attachment to unified system and library management. A concept that Microsoft propagates too, but which you could easily circumvent to install an application which replicates instances of libraries that are already installed on the machine multiple times in multiple locations by other applications. There are Java applications that force you to reinstall a whole JDK on their installation directories.

However, Ubuntu through Synaptic Package Manager and its Debian-based software repository system almost always force applications to be installed in a coordinated non-replicated manner, or otherwise make it really really really inconvenient and unworthwhile for the user and application not to. Which is good because, while my Vista installation minus non-Microsoft software is a bloated 60 GB, my Ubuntu installation with lots of stuffs (various JDK, Eclipse, Tomcat, Open Office, etc, etc) installed is only a miserly measly 5.9 GB.

Ubuntu is good for saving disk space.

However, a former colleague of mine believes in free-standing applications software libertarianism. He believes - the OS should not constrain us from using our own instances of libraries, our own versions of an application so that the application we produced could be packaged within a portable directory that could be singly moved by a USB flash stick to be run on any system. He believes that the advantage is that we would have the freedom not to infect a system if our application requires the use of an alternative version of a resource. He believes that and had successfully persuaded management that software-installation libertarianism is not only in the spirit of agile development, but the only spirit of agile software development!!!

I wish to say emphatically and empathetically that his view-point and those who subscribe to the attitude of free-standing applications software libertarianism is dead point-blank wrong. Worse still, I have had so many freakn years working in both agile cycles, extreme engineering as well as the dreadful full cycle waterfalls, that I can say that software-installation libertarianism is barbaric and has nothing to do with agile development. Under such an environment, it was frequently difficult to track which customer was using which combination of stuffs. Frequently, such an environment even allows inconsistent different releases of the same version. So, we had to manage and track all the different combinations of packaging containing whole copies of source codes down to the libraries and open-source ware marked by customer and package datetime. So, this is agile?! This strategy was supposed to make it simple and idiot-friendly so that the field engineer did not have to mess around with installation procedures. But then the field engineer had to manage the multiple packages that are being installed, no not installed but dumped is a better word, at various machines of the same customer site.

Under Synaptic and Debian management, all a developer has to do is to create alternative versions of resources and install them through debi. Every variation is tracked. Software wise, some people are Libertarian Democrats, but I am a Socialist Republican. I believe that utilisation of the environment and infrastructure should be coordinated, conserved and not replicated in a wasteful manner so that real Capitalism, truly free enterprise and actual freedom could flourish adaptably, cheaply and flexibly on the surface of the ocean of community coordinated socialism.

Coordinated system installation is good for those practicing agile engineering. Those who don't believe this are only looking towards short-term gains ignoring the certainty of long-term horrors. Those of you Scrum practitioners who propagate the idea that Scrum permits opportunistic discipline and that initial outlay and efforts into designing sustainability of the software is a waste of time, I think you are scum to agile development efforts - i.e. you are Scrum scum and the environment you propagate is Scrum scum slum.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hitch Hiking to 64 bit Windows 7?

I shall then bit-torrent an ISO of 64 bit Vista.

Though I did, but why should I, because everytime I went to any Microsoft upgrade web site, it redirects me to Windows 7 pages saying be patient and wait for Windows 7 release by the end of October. Microsoft realises how crappy Vista is.

Microsoft emailed me some Windows 7 beta product keys some months ago when its availability was first announced but I had to download the ISO from bit-torrent because Microsoft's servers were swamped.

Too bad, the product keys were not accepted my 64 bit Windows 7 beta installation, and I know why - my keys were for 32 bit.

Is it true that from Windows 7 onwards, Microsoft will no longer allow interchangeability of licence between 32 and 64 bit?

In the rather appropriately titled PC World article, they have an even more appropriate picture of Gv'nor Arhnold Swashbuckler:

Hasta la Vista, baby!

I am thinking of buying an early edition of Windows 7 by going through OEM resellers.

Anyway, Windows 7 is fast, really fast on desktop interactions. Generally, technogeeks are relating Vista to Windows 98. Why did they even bother with releasing Windows 98. However in general also, technogeeks are saying Vista ain't as bad as W98. I disagree because it's like saying the 2008 economic meltdown was not as bad as the 1932 crash. Humanity in 2008 simply has more features and amenities to distract us from the the meltdown that is just as bad as 1932.

I am echoing what every geek is saying today ~ Why did they bother with Vista at all?

Microsoft had even once tried to force big institutional and commercial concerns to drop XP and quickly adopt Vista. To which the big customers must have threatened en masse direction towards Linux. Otherwise, why had Microsoft taken an abrupt jerk back away from that decision?

The verdict due to the jury of my multiple senses is that persistently loyal, compulsive users of Microsoft technologies should quickly throw the leaky junk life-boat overboard and migrate to Windows 7 as soon as their financial resources permit.

Hitch Hiking to 64 bit Vista

In those days, even people who didn't pay much attention to Queen knew their two most popular pieces - We will rock you and We are the herose. No, three, including Bohemian Rhapsody. Did I spell that wrongly? Alright, We are the heroes.

I never knew they were categorised as heavy metal rock. As a kid I thought they sounded rather classical and operatic. They are nowhere jock-shocking as ACDC, Black Sabbath or Alice Cooper. Using midi software to reassign tracks to strings and winds, you might think they sound pretty classical, right?

Who on earth flagged this (I want to break free) video as inappropriate so that you needed to confirm you're 18 before allowed to watch it? Is men dressing as women in a video inappropriate? No sexual explicitness and even some traditional ballet routines are more sexually suggestive. Perhaps, we should go around youtube flagging every ballet video as inappropriate. I recall, some fifteen years ago, a certain school district, I can't recall which, considered banning the Bible because of its sexual explicitness.

So, after two weeks of consideration, I decided it is pointless to upgrade to 64 bit Vista. The myth was you should not run 64 bit Vista because it requires all drivers to be signed. There is a registry flag to set, which would allow the installation of unsigned drivers.

I went to Microsoft upgrade web site whose previous pages boast they could ship us the 64 bit Vista DVD for our current product keys, where I keyed in my Vista product keys, one for a Toshiba laptop and the other for Gateway. The web site responded that those are OEM keys and I should contact the respective OEMs. Okay.

I called Toshiba and they said it's your fault for not specifying 64 bit Vista when you bought the laptop. Now you have to purchase a new licence with a DVD that has both 32 and 64 bit installations and perhaps sell your current licence (I presume to some uninformed/unsuspecting buyer). I told them, to no avail of any sympathy, that I believe my licence is valid for 64 bit installations too - so just sell me the (danged) 64 bit DVD without a new licence, just as Microsoft would.

Should I call Gateway if they have a similar response? Would an American company have better response than a Japanese one? Toshiba, as a Japanese company, is surprisingly actually more disappointing than Gateway in my previous experience. I had an acquaintance who was rather frustrated and smashed his Vaio to the wall because Sony wanted him to ship it all the way to Singapore for repairs. Do you know that Singapore is diametrically the other side of the planet from Boston? A little bit less, give or take.

Hitch Hiking to 64 bit

I am regretting that when I purchased this 64 bit dual core machine two and a half years ago, I did not specify 64 bit Vista. A 32 bit system is constrained arithmetically to an address space of 232 = 4 294 967 295, which we geekily call 4GB (4000 MB). That is, both the virtual memory of a process and the real memory of my 64 bit system is limited by its 32 bit OS to addressing on 4GB.

Of that 4GB, Windows architecture limits us to using only half of the max virtual memory for our processes, reserving the other 2GB for kernel virtual space. That is not a problem really, because the max size of any one of my processes (due to Eclipse or Netbeans) is only 1GB. The real problem is the RAM available for use, which brings us back to reminisce on the 640KB limit on a 1MB address space. IBM and Microsoft was using the upper memory space for device addresses.

I should remember the exciting IBM PC days when I was still writing Cobol and C on IBM mainframes and DEC miniframes. Those days, 45 MIPS by IBM's newly released Sierras were considered such a breakthrough.

So, a normal off-the-shelf non-server non-specialty 32 bit Vista is actually limited by Microsoft to using 3.12 GB RAM? That makes it really difficult for me as my superficially multitasking habit of normally having two Eclipse instances, a Chrome browser full of tabs of javadocs, a Firefox window to GMail and my various blogs, plus an IE window to my various Google Apps accounts. In addition, I normally switch between doing Java and C#, and so I have to turn on Visual Studio. But I cannot close my Eclipse windows or the browsers displaying the Javadocs because they are a cursor for me to quickly switch back to Java when I'd had enough of .NET.

Moreover, unlike Eclipse or Netbeans, A Visual Studio instance does not allow more than one solution open. I need to refer to my previous solutions,and therefore, I would need to open another two instances of Visual Studio. And then I need to open another set of browser tabs and this time Safari to search for C#/C++ answers and then I would be able to find a few .NET solutions for which I would have to yet open another Visual Studio instance to try them. And worse of all, the Visual Studio help browser is more clunky than the IDE itself and of course, I need the help browser open too.

Then recently, I had been trying out some animation software like Alice and a couple others. To run Alice or JavaFx, I needed to close all my other windows.

In short, I need lots of windows and processes running to function efficiently. Eclipse and Netbeans simply struggled along so I started having only one Eclipse instance without Visual Studio, vice versa. Closing windows is slowing me down not just because of the process startup latency of the system, but my mental switchover latency because I cannot remember which Javadoc page I had been on and which pile of Java classes I was working on.

I even go as far as terminating the processes due to the icons on the taskbar. All those little icons are slowing me down. Google Desktop and Taskbar is slowing me down. The evidence is, those little icons on the taskbar adds in a delay by holding my keyboard and mouse at ransom for three minutes everytime I reboot the system.

Why do I allow those icons to be installed in the first place? What a good question. Adobe insists on doing it, otherwise I won't have access to Flash and PDF. No Flash, no Youtube, which is unacceptable. Open Office insists on doing it. Real player insists on doing it. MSN Live insists on it, etc, etc. So I would use Windows Defender to disable those icons and associated services. But, for some reasons, Windows Defender greys out the disable button for some of these taskbar icons. I am itching to know how much those companies pay Microsoft to disable the disable button for their parasitic taskbar iconised background noise from being disabled through Windows Defender. Okay, I won't be defeated by these parasitic icons. I search the Windows Registry for them or disable their services through the Control Panel.

This is wasting my time. I need a solution to better my situation. I am going 64 bit.