Saturday, October 24, 2009

A little superficial Linux research if you ask me...

In a recent ComputerWorld article, which is available online, I posted quite a long answer to a question many people new to GNU/Linux is eager to answer. Although people like me preffers ignoring in the name of "chose what you want, do whatever you want and leave me alone". However I took my time to answer due to the inconsistencies and wrong statements the author managed to fall in. So here is my answer: 2 Years ago, my wife's laptop had 256Mb of RAM and a 1.6GHz Pentium M processor. It is no surprise for me that I managed to install a Linux distribution in it with no effort and much more eye-candy and simplicity than Windows 7 has to offer today (Arch Linux, but most distributions are easy as well). Linux distributions have matured a lot in this little time. There is more stability and even more extravaganza and usability in the eye-candy department at this time. You can say I am an expert. That is no true if you see my mother enjoying openSUSE 11.1 everyday. She is an utter computers illiterate and already performs many tasks the author of this review considers "challenging" for average users... It is important to trust users i.e., not treating them as if they were all oligophrenic maniacs. In my own experience, what they need is clear instructions the "first days" and then they start flying by themselves. No virus, no spyware, no DRM, no extra payments. All of your machine resources for you. Do you remember how much time took you learning to handle Windows (any version)? Perhaps you got accustomed to do some tasks there but, that does not make its interfaces intuitive at all... Or even a handy, responsive, stable and, most importantly, efficient tool. For me, personally, Windows was always an obstacle to accomplish my goals. That's why I switched to never return. In another point, all Linux distributions are complete and don't push users to install untrusted sources at random places. Most Linux based distributions have to offer pretty easy to use installers (i.e., openSUSE 1-Click install, the top of the top in every OS I know of) Thus, I can't see where empowering users can go wrong. Unless, of course, instead of helping them you want them to go ignorant so that you can exploit them... Linux is not the absolute perfection. But I will always be an advocate of better standards. It is the most important thing when you think of computers in the days to come. I really spoke my mind there. So, I hope I can copy-paste this whenever I am asked the old question...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The fastest program for acquiring system information

While developing oddfx I've come to the conclusion I should start a second project. A very brief one for sure. But, after seeing the numbers myself, I found oddfx's linuxrules too compelling to be taken vainly. [...] And I am quite sure many people will want this. I hope they get notice soon. You see, linuxrules is a POSIX awk compliant set of rules for reading as much Linux system information as we can. And I was talking to my wife about how great could be doing all of this in one pass whilst, normally, you should issue a lot of programs for achieving the same effect. I'll give you an ordinary example, here are the numbers in a simple comparison... Comparing program times uptime
time uptime 02:42:28 up 42 min, 3 users, load average: 0.00, 0.00, 0.00 real 0m0.009s user 0m0.003s sys 0m0.007s
linux rules
time linuxrules.awk CPU_0=800 CPU_1=800 MEMF=3437 SWAP=0 UPTIME=00:00:45 IDLE=01:28 LOAD="0.00 0.00 0.00" PROCS=3/186 USERS=3 LID=open TIME=02:45:54 DATE=2009-10-14 GPU_TH=54 real 0m0.012s user 0m0.003s sys 0m0.000s
Numbers speak for themselves, uptime gets overtaken. Linux rules proves to be an excellent choice for resources savvy people. I think that many sysadmins, general geeky users and WMII alike people could benefit a lot from this little utility. NOTE: The present test was run with mawk (not gawk, for obvious reasons) uptime results were the best from a series of tries. No effort was made to favour linuxrules.awk, all the contrary.