Archive for the ‘apple sucks’ Category

TechCrunch Circle Jerk Hits It Over iPad

May 24, 2010

I don’t know why I’m entering anything else about iPads, but TechCrunch held a “Disrupt” event and the media types involved in a forum about the iPad couldn’t stop gushing about it. Warning, the article has a scary NSFW image up some fat chick’s skirt (heh, I’m exaggerating that but  I’m going to watch my stats to see how many hits that link gets from my site).

Some of the claims are a bit wild. Anything which says “Apple is in control…” is a bit redundant considering what control freaks the folks in Cupertino are about everything. That includes the control they want over their entire ecosystem, which leads to inquiries from the government about anti-trust. Anyway, the article includes this bit of puffery:

Apple is in control right now because they’re the first to market with a killer product, but others will emulate them, reasons Pearlstine. He believes a lot of the content on these type of tablets [sic] will eventually be web-based rather than app-based…

I’m not convinced it’s a killer product. I’m also unconvinced it’s the first such device to market. It’s certainly been the most (over-)hyped of such devices. And Apple will spare no expense to continue over-hyping it as revolutionary when they’re only taking an existing platform and implementing it in a strategy of selling (and tightly controlling) applications users can buy from them. This is a marketing revolution, not a technology revolution. It’s also not so revolutionary anymore considering it’s the same fucking model they’ve successfully used for iPod (plus iTunes) and duplicated with iPhone (and the AppStore); lure consumers in with overpriced and underwhelming hardware, lock them into your services (which is where the money really rolls in), then count the suckers’ money. Third times the charm is not a revolution.  When the media slather all over themselves about a device and/or the potential of the ecosystem a company like Apple builds around it, I yawn. It’s just a business model.

The worst part of all this, though, is that when a bunch of media types pretty much think the same about something, some of them probably aren’t thinking at all.

Steve Jobs: iPad Revolution = Freedom from Porn?

May 17, 2010

WTF is this all about? I checked but it’s not April 1st. Un-fucking-believable and Apple’s NewSpeak “freedom” is anything but. Devices belong to owners. Content either belongs to device owners or is licensed by copyright holders. When Apple sets itself as final arbiter of the whole ecosystem, there is no freedom except to walk away from their death-gripped devices and App Store.

If I want Flash, that should be between me and Adobe — not between Apple and Adobe. And if I want a Hustler app, that should be a private arrangement between me and Larry Flynt. Go fuck yourself, Steve Jobs.

NY Times Tech Talk – Interview with iPhone Pwn2Own Winner

April 11, 2010

I realize this is a week late, but I’ve been catching up on podcasts this weekend and I listened to this one while running today. The New York Times Tech Talk podcast for 1 April 2010 includes an interview (at 19:30) with Ralf Philipp Weinmann from the University of Luxembourg who, with Vincenzo Iozzo of Zynamics, pwned an Apple iPhone in 20 seconds. Weinmann explains that the exploit wouldn’t necessarily require social networking even though the iPhone at CanSecWest was given a URL to a site containing their exploit. Once the device was pwned, all account information was available as it’s stored in one file — all text messages, e-mails, contacts, photos, etc.

Weinmann couldn’t provide much detail due to Tipping Point’s non-disclosure requirement for pwn2own. Charlie Miller, who’s won pwn2own before targeting Macs, predicted iPhone would fall quickly. Miller confirmed something Weinmann said in the podcast, namely that putting together the payload is the difficult part. Miller explained why it’s more difficult to pwn an iPhone than OSX/Safari/etc.,

In real life iPhone is harder because you can’t just exec a shell (since there is no /bin/sh). You have to write your return oriented payload to do all your dirty work, which can be a pain. In Pwn2Own, you just have to prove you have code running, not actually do something useful, so the bar is lower. The only thing iPhone has going for it, which coincidentally is stopping me from attacking it this year, is a smaller attack surface. There isn’t as much exposed code on the iPhone. Safari for Mac OS X can do anything, render any file, etc. Not so on iPhone. There are some file types MobileSafari can’t display, some they display incompletely, and of course, iPhone lacks Java and Flash which comes by default on Safari. The easy to exploit bugs I know about happen to live in the code that Safari (on OS X) has but MobileSafari doesn’t, so no go for me.

Weinmann said finding bugs was easy but the exploit took a couple weeks to write due to crafting together a payload. By the way, Miller again — third consecutive year — pwned OSX via another Safari-related exploit.

Michael Dell’s New Toy

January 28, 2010

TechCrunch has a video of Michael Dell showing off a new device. It’s 5″, runs on Snapdragon arch powered by Android, has a 5MP camera, 3G ready, etc.

And a rumored price tag over $1000 before subsidy. Look for it “soon.”

Price and size notwithstanding, this would appeal to me more than the iFad since the iFad lacks various things (multitasking, a camera, a real keyboard, etc.) and its size makes it similar to toting around a real laptop or netbook once I’d pack the various things I’d use with it. If Dell were to come out with a similar “pad” in the 7-9″ range, I’d be all over it.

Jobs Announces iFad

January 27, 2010

The Mac Cult now has a new device around which to worship blow their college loans, inheritences, and trust funds cash. Apple just unveiled their iFad tablet device. Steve Jobs demonstrated the iFad to adoring throngs of reporters, Apple fans, and other assembled brownnoses. Jobs dissed netbooks as “cheap laptops” and calls the iFad the true nexus between smart phones and laptops. The device is thin — almost as thin as Jobs himself.

The price is expected to be between $600 and $1000. Rumors persist about Apple’s deals with publishers and the suitability of the iFad as an e-book reader.

What will be interesting to me is how quickly Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony, and others respond with lock-ins. At some point (and probably sooner than later) the cost to manufacture an e-book reader will be low enough to justify selling them at a deep discount or even giving them away to lock consumers into book purchase deals. It’s no different than how long-term agreements effectively subsidize the cost of a “free” or discounted or rebated cell phone. Or how companies like Gillette used to give away razors to get people to buy their blades.

UPDATE 13:04 US/Central — Okay, now that I’ve seen more I feel safe saying this is basically the biggest fucking iPod Touch ever made. It’s not revolutionary, it’s not even really “new.” Lots of hype for this?

UPDATE 13:31 US/Central — Retail set at $499. That makes it an interesting option for anyone looking at the iPod Touch, which probably isn’t the same person looking at a Kindle, Nook, or other reader (or somewhat similar device including netbook). Could hurt Apple’s own products more than Amazon’s, Sony’s, B&N’s, etc. Not everything Apple touches turns to gold.

iBotnet is a Warning – Mac Users Won’t Listen

April 23, 2009

Just read this article about the new Mac worm. I can’t agree with the writer’s conclusion that nothing needs to be done yet.

While this iBotnet worm will only affect those using pirated software (thus far: worms can be re-engineered to do whatever their designers want — see Conficker), other worms and virii will eventually and more easily affect other users.  Others are already being affected by this worm; it now appears the iBots are being used in DDOS attacks.

It’s a bit naive to say that paradise has been lost now with this worm when bots have been used for years for destructive and criminal purposes. PC bots don’t discriminate against Mac users, nor  do they ignore Mac users. Bots are used to spread more malware, to spam people, and to do all kinds of bad things and steal all kinds of data. The risks aren’t limited to one computer or one kind of computer when compromised machines — Mac, Windows, Linux, anything — spread risks to other computers and when they’re used in malicious manners.

The best security practice is pro-active rather than reactive. The writer of the “Paradise Lost” article is right that pirated software should never be downloaded, let alone installed. In addition to being illegal, you don’t know who’s done what with software. The number of unpatched and pirated copies of Windows in Asia accounts for the rise of botnets in that region of the world.

The writer is also very wrong to wait to install security software. You don’t wait for the hurricane to hit before you make your preparations. You make your preparations and hope for the best; you don’t hope for the best and then, when it’s too late, prepare yourself.

Those who wait to install security software have to hope they’ll have enough time to install it before any threat escalates into a Mac pandemic. Unfortunately, history isn’t on the side of those who wait too late in the game regardless of operating system. It’s almost always dead set against them. Zero-day exploits mean someone somewhere dropped the ball sufficiently for criminals to get an upperhand. It can take very little time for an exploit to spread, and many computers can be affected before the problem is even detected and, eventually, fixed.

In another way security software is like one of the common pro-gun rights mottos: It’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

Mac users have been beguiled for years into believing they’re elite, that Apple’s operating systems are invulnerable to cracking, that OSX’s Unix heritage makes it inherently secure (no operating system is inherently secure, not even OpenBSD), and so on. Their gullibility will likely prove their own downfall.

The time to get patched is before you’re cracked. The time to install security software is before you’re pwned. Then it’s too late. Duh.

Mac users will probably make for the easiest user community to target because they feel so invincible. It’s not if, it’s when. Mac users tend to have favorable demographics for criminals to target. Apple’s lax security policies make OSX a very easy target to crack. It’s a dangerous combination. The only question is, How many Mac users will be wide-open and vulnerable to attack because of their gullibility and naivete?

Even one would be too many. I expect mass pwnage, and probably sooner than later. And the compromised Macs will be used much as compromised Windows computers are. That means more malware, more spam, more distributed DOS attacks. Those who keep their computers patched and secure will be less vulnerable to the malware but will still be affected by those who are too stupid, ignorant, arrogant, or gullible to be safe.

Now is the time to prepare and reduce the risks of attack — before your Mac is attacked. It’s not too late yet.

My Global Blog: Views on Vista

March 27, 2009

I started another blog a few weeks ago beyond the scope of this one. Originally, I was going to use it for content centered on the Aspire One but decided to make it a more general topics blog — a global blog. Mostly I’ve written about issues related to politics, the economy, and finance. When I’ve had time.

Today I’ve written about my latest experiences with Vista and my opinions of it now that I’ve had a little more time with it. I was never on the hate-Vista bandwagon. That’s because I didn’t have enough time with it to make a reasonable and rational decision.

Let me also reiterate: I’m fairly agnostic about operating systems even though I favor Unix-like systems (discounting OSX, which is an abysmal piece of beast excrement). I don’t think there’s a single solution for everyone and for every need. I also believe very strongly in freedom of choice. That choice includes — not excludes — Microsoft Windows. That’s why I don’t dismiss it out of hand. Many people use it, many people like it. More power to them. More power to those who prefer Unix-like systems.

I’m not a Microsoft fan, but I’m also not a Microsoft hater. They do a lot of things right and they occasionally get something wrong. I think their detractors get a lot more wrong than Microsoft does. That includes groups like FSF who spew lies (and offer an “alternative” operating system such as GNU HURD that after 25 years of development doesn’t and probably won’t in another 25 years suit most users’ needs) as well as nations who’ve sued a company for daring to succeed at the level they have (Linux distros are even more guilty of bundling software than Microsoft is but the EU won’t sue Ubuntu for including a browser or media player or office software in any given release).

I think Microsoft gets a lot of things right with Vista and — from the sound of things since I haven’t tried the betas yet — Windows 7. Whether and how soon they can recover from distorted public perceptions remains to be seen. I’m increasingly impressed with what Microsoft is doing and am seriously considering Windows 7 for my Aspire One. Enough so that I’m willing to reallocate the space taken up by PCLOS to try the new Windows 7 release candidate when it’s available.

CanSecWest 2009 Pwn2Own and Misc Security Thoughts

March 20, 2009

This year’s pwn2own at CanSecWest hasn’t been targeted at operating systems but at browsers and mobile platforms. This has drawn some heat because it didn’t include Opera, which is increasingly popular on mobile devices. Rather, it was only IE, Firefox, and Safari on Windows and OSX as well as phones.

While I approve of targeting specific applications, especially given the role browsers now play in most users’ lives, there are significant enough differences between operating systems and how they’re used by most users that I wish contests like these would continue to include OS-specific targets.

Let me also say that to a certain degree, the change in this year’s format does better illustrate the bigger problem of software security which isn’t at the OS level but in the wider area of applications. As software is increasingly cross-platform, the problems are often not limited to one platform: a vulnerability in Firefox may or may not affect more than Windows, but it’s more likely than not going to affect Windows users for two reasons: Windows is the biggest target by nature of its widespread adoption and Windows has a more standardized set of libraries than other operating systems. Everyone wants to dish out on Microsoft (and I want to dish out on Apple, whose software I believe is tremendously less secure than Windows) but the magnitude of “problems” with it is due to the issue of critical mass — more people use Windows so it’s always going to be a bigger target for crackers.

Security  through obscurity isn’t security, it’s just obscurity. This is one reason why Linux wasn’t a target at pwn2own this year. It’s not that Linux is invulnerable to cracking or to malware like rootkits, it’s that hardly anyone in the aggregate uses it on desktops. Not security, obscurity.

If you want more security that way, use an even more obscure OS. Something nobody else is using, like BeOS or Haiku.

Change the topic from desktop to server and then look at the market share Linux has in that category and it’s a different story: where Windows desktop machines are great for botnets, they’re often herded from cracked Linux servers. Where Linux has less obscurity, it’s bigger target.

The number of compromised Linux servers — which  can only be estimated from the number of botnets shut down or observed to be operating (another part of security through obscurity that is dangerous is the feeling of invulnerability and the lack of tools to detect system compromise) — attests to the real problem with security: it’s not OS-specific, but rather a problem of buggy software and poor implementations and procedures. Just as it’s bad practice to use unpatched software on a Windows desktop, it’s bad practice to use unpatched software on a Linux server. And vice versa — buggy Linux desktops are just as bad as buggy Windows servers. Just as it’s poor procedure to run everything as administrator in Windows, it’s equally poor procedure to implement shoddy permissions in Linux (and some Linux CD-based distros run only as root). The problem really isn’t the OS, per se, but what’s being run on it and how it’s being run. The problem is really the user, the weakest link in the chain of security.

Desktop Linux users also tend to fit a less than lucrative target profile. While many people do choose Linux and BSDs for more than the free-as-in-beer reason, Linux users tend to fall in a very small demographic and it’s not a financially lucrative one. Whom would you target if you wanted money, someone who can afford to purchase a license or someone who brags about how Linux can run on cheaper, older hardware and doesn’t cost more than the cost of the installation media? People who try to rob cheapskates usually starve. In comparison, Bernie Madoff’s client list wasn’t filled with kids living in Mom’s basement but with celebrities and high society types and groups with considerable assets. Willie Sutton famously said he robbed banks because that’s where the money is; cybercrime targets Windows users because that’s where the money is — both in the aggregate (over 90% of desktops) and in the user demographics (above median income).

One more thing about this at it relates specifically to Linux. Tipping Point gives away computers and a few thousand dollars. These exploits have significant market value, more than a few thousand and an inexpensive laptop. There may be some prestige among colleagues in the security field for being able to crack something. But it pales to what others are willing to pay for exploits on the open market, whether from government agencies or from criminals. It’s folly — a non sequitur — to suggest that the lack of Linux-specific or even -targeted exploits at events like this indicate there are none or even few.

Back to pwn2own news… 

Day One was exciting with four zero day exploits against the targets. The first victim, and as usual the easiest and fastest one, was OSX via Safari. Charlie Miller won the MacBook for the second consecutive year. Then IE8 fell to “Nils,” whose three exploits netted him a Vaio (for being first to crack IE8 this year) and $15k (at a rate of $5k per demonstrated zero day exploit).

Day Two, with relaxed rules, proved less eventful. At last report, there were no more zero days demonstrated and few, if any, attempts to pwn phones.

CanSecWest closes today.

An OS Comparison Article

April 17, 2008

I hate this kind of article…

OS Smackdown: Linux vs. Mac OS X vs. Windows Vista vs. Windows XP:

Since the dawn of time — or, at least, the dawn of personal computers — the holy wars over desktop operating systems have raged, with each faction proclaiming the unrivaled superiority of its chosen OS and the vile loathsomeness of all others.

Let’s look at some of the un-truths told by the advocates.

First, the Linux fanboi writes:

Unlike Mac OS and Windows, Linux is free as air and open to development by folks who are motivated by the desire to make the technology better, rather than by corporate tech farms whose real interest is the bottom line.

Free as in air isn’t really free as in air. It may not cost you much to install Linux on your home computer, but installing it on 25 desktops in your business wouldn’t be free as in air. You’d have plenty of costs associated with the installation and with re-training users. Depending on the time frame you’d allow for reduced productivity, it could be cheaper to upgrade to Vista licenses and new hardware. I think this is one of the dumbest arguments for Linux because too many advocates don’t understand that learning curves cost companies time and money. And the last time I checked, the costs of hiring someone with a RHCE were comparable to bringing in a MCSE.

Let’s also forget that the chief submitters to the Linux kernel and to many of the libraries, utilities, and appications are employed by IBM, Novell, Red Hat, Sun, and many other companies whose interests are the bottom line. So I beg to differ, too, that profit is a bad thing.

If the world doesn’t want to use Microsoft software, Microsoft won’t stay in business. That makes them accountable to consumers and users, and I don’t think accountability is such a bad thing. If I have a problem with Windows, I go to my vendor and/or Microsoft. If I have a problem with Vector Linux and getting X set up or problems with python, who’s accountable? Linus won’t take my calls, but neither will Bill. Microsoft has websites and toll free help lines (depending on your level of support). Vector has a website and a forum. Maybe someone in an IRC channel can help me sort it out?

He continues,

Which is all very nice, but is it any good as a desktop operating system? You bet.

“Bet” is a gamble; most enterprise users won’t gamble — and neither will casual users who are more interested in doing things as quickly as possible. I’m not a casual user. I use Linux almost exclusively on desktop. Is it as good as Windows for that? No, I don’t think so. I have few problems using Linux/BSD but I can’t recommend it for most users. It’s not on the same level as Windows yet. And that’s not just my take, that includes many in the Linux/BSD/open source communities and companies like Novell and Red Hat (not to mention computer sellers, some of whom have found out firsthand that users won’t rush in to buy machines with Linux even if they save a few bucks from not needing a Windows license — what does that tell you?).

Let’s start with the hardware footprint: With the possible exception of BSD, Linux’s ‘sister,’ Linux is the lightest thing you’ll ever install on your computer. While the minimum required hardware for Windows has been bloating, and Macs need more and more horsepower to run OS X, you can still dig out your old 486 and fire up Linux without problems.

That isn’t entirely true. Nor is it entirely desirable since most users expect more than what you can squeeze out of Linux on a 486. Most modern/updated Linux distros will no longer run on 486s. Indeed, the most popular distros targeted at newer users — who are NOT those who will start with Slackware or LFS — have requirements in line with other modern operating systems like Vista and OSX. Linux distros are prone to the same bloat-mentality prevailing anywhere else. That’s because developers and packagers target modern hardware, not the lowest possible denominator. So initial footprint is beside the point except for experienced users.

While there are some exceptions, the rule in the Linux world has matched that of Vista: the goal is to match system requirements to prevailing technology and expect that users will upgrade systems periodically. That’s why Ubuntu, PCLOS, and SuSe will not run on a 486 (not without lots of stripping and recompiling apps with minimal possible libraries for running in leaner systems). DSL with it’s 2.4 kernel and nearly Y2K-level software will run on console on a 486 so long as it has 16 MB of RAM. But so will a nearly Y2K-era version of Windows — same era software, same era hardware (apples to apples). So what’s the point…

Then the fanboi writes:

Linux is not only small, but it’s also stable. I have several Windows boxes at home, and it seems like whenever I blink, something has gotten screwed up in the registry or I have a Dynamic Link Library conflict.

This is ridiculous hyperbole and ironic. I have one hard drive with Windows NT workstation, circa 1996, that has run admirably with no DLL problems or registry conflicts. Then again, I kept it up to date with the service packs and ran it as it was designed to run: separate administrator account, anti-virus software, etc. I was also an early adopter of XP because it was based on the very stable NT. Again, no problems. Ever. The only virus I’ve ever had on any Microsoft computer was ‘stoned’ in about 1990. I started using DOS in 1985. I’d used Apples (got my Apple II in 1979), a series of Commodores and Timex-Sinclairs, and one Mac before switching to PCs for the most part (since 1985, I’ve had a few Macs, one BeBox, and a couple SPARCs). I had more trouble with Apples and Macs than real PCs. I have one Mac remaining but I don’t use it; I also have several boxes of Mac parts.

I’ve also encountered plenty of issues with Linux. That includes buggy drivers and poorly coded scripts that have done things like load modules for filesystems I wasn’t using, cause kernel panics, etc. How the hell is a kernel panic any different from BSOD — a Windows fate I never experienced myself because I’ve kept my systems patched? And what about all the dependency hassles experienced even when running one of the more bloated distros like Ubuntu or PCLOS? How is that any different from the complaint about DLL conflicts?

Same answer to all questions: It isn’t any different. Linux users should stop relying on such stupid arguments because those aren’t significant differences. And with all due respect, average users will find tweaking registry entries in friendly GUIs — or restore points in XP — much easier solutions to sorting out Windows issues than going through series of Linux init scripts and various config files even if they are text files. Much less issues with peculiar libraries used by odd applications; at least Windows users have fairly standard DLLs upon which all developers build apps.

Every operating system and distributed computing environment (since Linux itself is merely a kernel — Linux isn’t Ubuntu, but Ubuntu uses the Linux kernel) is prone to some kind of breakage. The more complex something is, the more likely there are going to be some kinds of issues affecting users. Windows is complex. So are Linux distributions, especially ones focusing on desktop use. Linux distros may even be considered more complex from the standpoint that Windows is more standardized as noted above. This is certainly true when looking at how many different libraries binary packagers build their packages against and how many problems that can cause if the end user doesn’t want all kinds of stuff just to use one app from the package management system.

Linux doesn’t get points over Windows for this. They’re evenly matched. Or Windows gets an edge.

Unfortunately, the penguin-loving fanboi continued with something I’ve blogged about:

In the recent “Pwn 2 Own” hacker challenge, computers running Mac OS X and Windows Vista were cracked, but the Linux machine wasn’t. I won’t claim that Linux has no security or virus problems, but they tend to be right out in the open where you can see them if you look. At the moment, there are far fewer Linux viruses out in the wild than Windows viruses, and there are fairly bullet-proof ways to detect viruses under Linux using checksums on files.

Let’s get something straight. The Mac was pwned due to an exploit in Safari, which is Apple’s own code that comes with the computer; in fairness, the Mac was pwned after the rules were relaxed a little. The laptop with Vista wasn’t pwned until the last day when the rules were relaxed even further. The pwner took advantage of a Flash/Java/DEP vulnerability — using third party software — and not something inherently vulnerable due to Windows code. My understanding of that exploit, which has yet to be published, is that it’s cross-platform — and that it could affect a Linux system with Flash and Java. It wasn’t tried on either other platform in pwn2own because of the rules. Whether or not that specific exploit really works on Linux computers running Flash is beside the point anyway: Linux versions of Flash are every bit as dangerous in the wild.

At least Flash works as it’s supposed to in Windows. What was the point again? Oh yeah, Linux is supposedly better than Windows. Not.

One more thing about this as it relates to Vista. Vista’s security is heads and shoulders above XP’s and earlier versions’. Those who insist that Vista is on par with XP and earlier security simply haven’t investigated it for themselves and are engaging in sheer FUD. Among those giving Microsoft props for their commitment to making Vista more secure are those who’ve won pwn2own before. I’ll go even further and say that I think Vista is inherently safer than Linux; anyone running the same kernel version I am — or within several iterations either way — should have updated with a novmsplice patch or upgraded kernel, which is one of the things I would cite in my reasons why I would say Vista is safer. That’s Linux-specific, not related to PHP or samba or some other code thrown into distros. But when you get into all the other stuff thrown into a standard distro mix of utilities and libraries and applications, that’s where Vista shines. Go ahead and run apt-get –dist-upgrade every day and pray your system doesn’t break; I’ll stick with Microsoft’s automatic updates because their turn-around time on patching is faster and because they’re a centralized and accountable source of the updates, not relying on hundreds or thousands of package submitters whose intentions or abilities you may question.

Now let’s look at the Mac Kool-Aid drinker’s take on OSX:

Did I mention that Leopard is a certified Unix product, too? Mac OS X is the only operating systems that can run all mainstream Windows and “*nix”-based operating systems — and host “*nix” software natively — with few of the usual security risks.

Along with its famed user interface, one of the keys to the success of Mac OS X is the lack of malware, spyware and self-propagating viruses. We can debate the reasons — whether it’s the security inherent to the modern BSD underpinnings of Apple’s code or the “security by obscurity” theory — but Macs are not susceptible to the problems that have always plagued Windows PCs.

Security by obscurity isn’t a theory. Nor is it security. It’s obscurity. Mac’s security is third-rate. Not second-rate, third. Its Unix family lineage isn’t why it’s secure — that’s a non sequitur. Many of the most open vulnerabilities have occurred in or were developed for and on Unix-like operating systems. How many people still use telnet?

Many Mac users insist on running in single user mode. That’s no different from Windows 95 and earlier and the lack of permission levels that led to the prevailing attitude that there’s something inherently inferior about Windows. There isn’t. It doesn’t matter whether you run OSX, Linux, or Windows as root/administrator — it’s a bad, unsafe practice that can lead to serious trouble. I don’t even set computers up to use sudo except with password because I don’t care to allow anyone taking over my account to have full system privileges. Yet that’s how many operating systems are designed. Puppy Linux runs as root only. So does Dynebolic. Knoppix and DSL and other live CDs set up users with full system privileges via sudo. For live CDs, that’s fine. For anything else, I don’t care for it.

Apple does nothing to dissuade users from it. Single user with full system privileges. Coffee shop hot spot. Easy target.

OSX had more severe advisories than Vista and XP combined last year. Local and remote. Third party and first party.

Stop drinking the damn Kool-Aid.

Now let’s look at the one almost everyone else loves to hate. I’m skipping the XP guy because I don’t care for the Luddite-like hysteria by those who insist Microsoft extend XP’s life. I wasn’t happy when the NT 4.x support stopped, but that’s the way business and life goes. I’m no happier that Linux 2.4 development is waning because users are expected to migrate to newer hardware. I’m in the same boat that way, but I’m not crying. I’m using Linux 2.6 and reducing its resource demands to fit my hardware. XP users can do the same thing with Vista, which is not a one-size-fits-all OS as some portray it. It’s very scalable, just like other modern operating systems, and can be tweaked to perform well on older computers within reason. You just won’t enjoy all the graphical BS that has greater demands.

The Vista fanboi candidly writes,

Now, it’s true that for the moment, Windows XP is superior to Vista when it comes to software compatibility. But that won’t last long. The best and newest software will be built for Vista, not XP. So if you want to look to the future, not the past, Vista is the way to go.

This is true. Again let me reminisce about my NT days. I was running an OS that couldn’t run a lot of the stuff my friends using 16-bit Windows (3.1, 95/98 ) were running. I didn’t have the same level of plug and play support. Drivers were written for the other versions, not NT. The only USB drivers for NT I’m aware of were from third-party software companies and Dell (which was developed in-house for NT and worked surprisingly well). In short, most consumer software wasn’t being written for NT and most devices weren’t including driver support for NT. Everything was for 95/98. Then came WinME, a half-hearted attempt to move to NT. Then came XP. There was no turning back. Some of my enterprise software would run on XP, but many companies made upgrades available for those migrating to XP — good business decision because the world was going to turn to XP and away from NT and 95/98.

The same thing is going to happen for Vista. No matter how much FUD is spread about it, it’s not the future. It’s the present. The footdraggers aren’t leading the way. They’re fighting a losing battle.

The Vista guy continues,

As for Linux, if you’re a fan, feel free to fly your uber-geek badge every time you boot up — but don’t expect to run your company’s enterprise software, much less mainstream software and games. And do expect to become very familiar with the confusing vagaries of the specific version of Linux you’ve installed.

This is one of the things about Linux I think gets lost among its most ardent advocates. The world isn’t looking for myriad choices, it’s looking to get stuff done. The distros that target enterprise users understand this very well. You can prattle for days about window managers and eye candy, but that doesn’t lead to adoption in the enterprise. Enterprise is won over by commonalities. Enterprise is lost when the applications it needs are either unavailable or — the irony here is overwhelming — has peculiar library demands. Yes, that nasty issue about libraries/DLLs applies to Linux here.

Microsoft is where they are because they played their cards right when it came to matching their software to the most widely available hardware. Apple was too busy playing with goofy interfaces and buses to be a serious player in the enterprise when it mattered most. While Apple was busy creating its own alternate universe, Microsoft was trying to cater to the real, existing one. That’s why Microsoft runs over 90% of the world’s desktops and has serious marketshare in servers as well.

I’m not anti-any of these platforms. Each can do what some users need. None is perfect for every possible task. Each can be as safe as the other if the user is attentive to keeping his system secure. The user, as I’ve written so many times, is the weakest link in security.

The Mac user noted how easy it is for him to make movies. The Windows user noted how everything, especially enterprise-grade software, is written for Windows. The Linux user made some valid points about the cost of his software (though, to be fair, it’s not exactly free to retrain employees to make equivalent use of open source software if they’re already productive on closed source software). All three also engage in some level of blindness about the others, but two of them stand out: the Mac user has a gullible feeling of invincibility and the Linux user’s smugness about, well, everything and ignorance when it comes to comparing and contrasting Windows and Linux.

Maybe the one lesson from this kind of comparison-article is that we don’t need more of them from advocates. Maybe we need more honesty and fair comparisons from people without axes to grind.

Apple Challenged by Clone Maker

April 15, 2008

Mac cultists are pissed that some interlopers dare move into their sphere. Meanwhile, Apple has been strangely silent. This is the same company that reflexively sends cease and desist orders to people who post steps for installing their OS on non-Apple hardware. Or mentioning that it’s even possible.

Mac Clone Maker Psystar Vows To Challenge Apple EULA – Apple Unvarnished – InformationWeek:

Psystar’s OpenMac clone is priced at about $399 — less than one-fifth of what a similar, Apple-branded system sells for. It also represents a direct violation of Apple’s end-user license agreement, which forbids third-party installations of Leopard.

But Psystar said Monday that the company believes Apple’s terms violate U.S. monopoly laws. “What if Microsoft said you could only install Windows on Dell computers?” said a Psystar employee.

The employee, who would only identify himself as Robert, said Apple grossly overcharges for the hardware on which its operating systems, including Leopard, come preinstalled. “They’re charging an 80% markup on hardware,” Robert said in a brief phone interview.

I agree that Apple charges a premium price for mediocre hardware enshrined in aesthetically above-average casing running an operating system long on flash and short on security. If Mac users want to overpay for that, more power to them. As far as the restrictive OSX EULA, who knows. My own preference is to not do business with someone who requires me to purchase their hardware to use their OS.

The Open Computer can be seen here. Available in black or white. Base price includes Core 2 Duo running 2.2 mhz, 2 GB DDR RAM, 250 MB SATA hard drive, no operating system. They’ll preinstall OSX Leopard for $155. Lawyer not included.

Then there are the skeptics. Fair questions. What’s up with Psystar? Has anyone done business with them before?

Back to the markup issue and thinking of the iPhone rebates Apple authorized when they dropped their prices and the early adopters whined. I wonder how many Mac owners would expect a rebate if Apple’s restrictions were lifted and they had to lower their prices to what cloners would offer. I remember what happened during the brief period when Apple licensed their OS: more savvy users embraced clones that beat Apple to the punch with more standard (e.g., IDE and PCI buses, VGA, etc.) interfaces. It would certainly benefit users to let them choose their own hardware (Intel x86 architecture is the same whether it’s running Windows or OSX or anything else, there’s no special magic); it would cripple Apple.