Thursday, April 08, 2010

Ubuntu Switches to Google...again...

I see that Yahoo! is getting replaced by another party. First, my former colleagues at T-Mobile realized how much Yahoo! was losing them in content sales and not producing in search revenue, now I see Ubuntu is probably realizing the same thing...or...they are realizing that since the Yahoo! Bing deal has passed federal acceptance, they now realize that Microsoft, and not some non-evil empire will be giving results. Although, since the Bing folks are also my former colleagues, I can honestly state Bing and Microsoft are just related remotely. Sure, there are some old school has-beens in the Bing group, but once they hired in more talent from other search companies and bought a few others, the ideals in Bellevue (where the OSD group/Bing is located) is quite different than in Redmond. Sure, it is only 20 minutes away in traffic, but the leadership at Bing understands it isn't about brute force.

The money part, well that I can understand. Having gone head to head with Google on search with Mobile, I can honestly say that Google's pockets are way deeper than Microsoft...shocking isn't? I know what MSFT paid Dell and HP for their placement, I know what MSFT paid Verizon for that deal, however I am not going to publish the numbers for many reasons (I can spell NDA and LCA), I know that in both cases Google was offering more. What MSFT brought to desktop were most likely (I didn't do that deal myself, so guessing) concessions on other items. For mobile, we offered a flexible platform, that would continue to promote content, ringtones, games and internal feeds, where Google treats all data on its relevancy. Why does that matter?

In Mobile, it isn't yet about search ad revenue, there just are not enough clicks and users generally to get the CPS model to a high value. Users just don't have enough space on the screens to be bothered by enough ads to get people interested in clicking them. So content, albeit a slowly decreasing and since Apple/Android started their own markets, just make more money than what search can offer. Verizon makes more on content in one year that all the revenue that could be offered over many years from search. Rumors were that Yahoo! cost T-Mobile 25% of sales on content. This would put it in the magnitude of $100-200 million a year. I would estimate even on a good solid year that Yahoo! might have done $5-10 million in ads in that time frame, possibly up to $20 million if they did something amazing...they didn't. That is reserved for the iPhone.

So what is left? Since Yahoo! killed off a majority of their search group with the Microsoft partnership, I would imagine more groups will go to Google. Yahoo! owned mobile space, with at least 10x all the other partnerships combined. Where are those deals now? My bet would be towards Google as I know what Microsoft can handle and willing to step up for...Sorry Yahoo!Bing, seems that open source will be closed to you, not that it really matters, your 24% just doesn't grow there.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Returning to Linux, where to start? Part 1

I used to review linux, some of you may remember either knolinux or new2linux websites. Every once and a while a former reader would email and ask, "what happened?" How do you explain certain things in life? It wasn't health, family, ideological changes, or anything even close to resembling something dramatic. I simply took a new Microsoft. No, I am not a programmer, so it wasn't even remotely related to operating systems, office, or anything that makes them money. It was mobile search, so in fact the pieces I worked on actually cost them several hundreds of millions of dollars. I digress. Since I left them after my 18 months of pain, shame and learning how lame it really is to not be a programmer, I have been working ever since on getting back into my engineering discipline and my love for linux. No, I wasn't forced to stop using Linux, I simply made a decision to try to understand my company's products, as I had spent nearly a decade of trying to make sense of what came out of Redmond. I only take from my time there a learning of how not to manage products, how not to spend money going after lost causes simply to try and beat others, and that free soda just doesn't make up for the slow and steady pull of life from the lack of color in the offices. 

So my last few months have been dealing with a physical move and at the same time learning a new role, which is actually an old one. At the same time, my poor old laptop was struggling with the load of Windows 7, as it is stuck with 1 gig of RAM (odd shaped slots prevent me from upgrading). So every once and a while I would download a new Live CD of a various distro that I was used to in  order to determine what was I going to head back too. Would I be a lemming and jump onto the Ubuntu ship? Go with what I knew best with Mandriva or OpenSuse? Or should I venture to some of my favorite distro's I reviewed previously to see where they all lied?

The one thing I knew is that I still can't stand KDE and Gnome has really become more and more about others dictating form and function. My two favorites from years past had really gone in two different streams: XFCE was becoming main stream while Enlightenment was struggling. I took a quick gander on Distrowatch to see what new and uprisings were happening on the leaderboard and noticed two old KDE camps both had a XFCE distro out; Mint and PCLinuxOS. I had rather enjoyed both and actually interviewed Tex and Clem for my previous reviews, so why not head back to a reasonably comfortable place. 

Now the first thing you might notice, I am not going to be doing reviews like I had done in the past. Those were a lot of effort of VMWare to go through the loading and installation. I figure that enough time has past and most distro's now have excellent forums, so my efforts would really be a waste of time. I decided to focus instead on what I think is done right, what needs some tweaking and are the distros really worth effort of installation for others. 

The first one I installed was PCLinuxOS XFCE Phoenix Edition.

The style is quick to impress, I love the look of flames on a wallpaper. The rest, well, let's just say for a first run at an XFCE, my expectations were not over or underwhelmed. 

The installation process had a hickup, in that it couldn't understand my partitions. They are not all that confusing and no other version I played with has run into any problems. I think it might be the fact I have an extended partition in the middle, making the system choke when running a expect. This wasn't too big of a deal, minus when I tried to load the other partitions up as their own folders (easier to find files from the others) the system crashed and I had to start over. So when I went into the pretty PCLinuxOS Control Center and tried to add these via  "manage disk partitions", it failed to mount the new drives. 

So then I tried to mount as root and it told me that it cannot recognize Ext 4 partitions...huh? Have I missed something over the past 3 years? Maybe a new magic command that I just don't know about? If someone could fill me in, would greatly appreciate it.

So this really bummed me out, as now I am missing some files from this distro from previous screen shots and will have to install another distro just to gather them back. Not going too well so far. 

Other disappointment was that openoffice was not installed. I understand that this is a memory hog, however many others have found a way to install these without going over the magic 700 MB iso. I did notice in the web browser that there is now a Appstore. Like many other distros, it seems PCLinux now has a way to gather applications outside of Synaptic...why? I don't see the need to go beyond a solid method of gathering applications. One thing I did learn in developing applications at MSFT, KISS (keep it simple stupid). Why have two points of failure that are doing the same thing?

So what do you get as options? If you don't install office, wouldn't you think that office would be an option? Nope...just Opera, google chrome, Dillo, Epiphany...a couple of HTML editors, a music just don't get it. Installing the applications actually seem to take longer than download and installing command line. I get the ease, however simply instruct people how to get all applications. In fact, my favorite was when Google Chrome didn't load, and I got this error message....classic.

The rest of the package I would rate as average. Nothing really screams wow, nothing else is really lacking. With this you get a solid XFCE distro, albeit a bit fragile that is not as robust as others. If you are a fan of PCLinuxOS, the support is there, the community that is second to none and the packages are customized towards what those users are wanting to see. I love that the links are there in Firefox and I love the line "The distro-hopper-stopper" as I have always felt PCLinuxOS was one that would stick with the user a bit more than others.


So how would I fix pieces? It really doesn't need a lot. Understanding a bit more on the installation issues would be a good start and finding a way to put a script to allow users to install some sort of office script would also be a solid step to help people get what they need with a system. Video playback on websites was solid, media is well represented. Like the Phoenix in the wallpaper, this is a nice picture, just not a whole lot of extra color.  I will keep it around for a while and that usually says that I don't hate the distro, I have hope, and patience so time will tell how long it stays.

So there you have it folks, my first review after a few years off trying to figure out how not to lose millions :) Let me know what you think and please offer suggestions of how to improve, what would be a good next distro to review or anything else on your mind. 

Cheers! KLG