Wednesday, October 24, 2012

PC or PoC Update: Gigastrand Server

 Original Post

The Gigastrand OS A.04 is now running successfully on 100% of our systems. The last of the systems loaded being the Gigastrand Server.

Because of the age of this server, the system ended up being reloaded twice to get it to work properly. Something happened with root access the first time around that we are still unsure of exactly what happened.

The Gigastrand OS is an improvement over Linux Mint Debian - on this box at least. For one, it runs much faster than before. Secondly, it runs the stuff we want it to run and we can install things we were never able to before thanks to Gigastrand OS being built on a stable release of Debian.

We were concerned that Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) was all this server could run as it rejected LM10 KDE, LM10 Gnome (main edition) and several other versions of Linux initially.

We have updated the hardware a little as well. We have installed a PCI SATA card to add 2 SATA ports to the machine. Before, the System would only accept IDE drives. We also have adapters to convert the IDE ports to SATA if we run out of IDE drives.

Ok, so many of you reading this may think: What is the point? Why not just upgrade it? Why try to work around the obvious deficiencies and just go with something new?

Well, we could but here are a few reasons why we are tweaking the system: 
  1. Here at Gigastrand we hold the radical belief that a computer is obsolete ONLY when it no longer does what you need or want it to do. With a little tweaking, we can keep this machine doing what we need and want it to do.
  2. Making the little tweaks to the system have cost us less than $75 and maybe an hour and a half worth of labor (not including the OS loads). Which is about 1/4 the cost in time and effort it would take to pull, build, and re-purpose the existing (and I might add working) hardware.
  3. It is the green thing to do. Reduce, reuse, re-purpose. 
  4. Personally, it is important. This machine has been through a lot and we have a lot of history together.
  5. It is a challenge. Coming up with creative solutions to extend the life of a PC gives us experience with these types of solutions for our customers.
So, there you have it. The Gigastrand server marches on.

Monday, October 22, 2012

PC or PoC?: The original Gigastrand Laptop

Another of our "vintage" computers we run here at Gigastrand is the "original" Gigastrand Laptop (that's it behind the table).

The laptop was sold to a customer of ours in 2004 and it originally ran Windows XP. He later traded it in and we kept it, loaded Linspire 4.5 back in 2005 and it has never ran Windows since.

It has been upgraded a couple of times. It started with 196Mb of RAM originally and now runs 512mb. It has had 2 hard drives fail, the last we upgraded from 20Gb to 60Gb. It has even been wet after a pipe on our water heater blew up. We dried it out and it worked perfectly.

I would like to upgrade it further, but I am just not sure how much longer this laptop can last. If anything is going to go out it is the screen and a laptop this old may have trouble finding parts.

It was my main system for Gigastrand in 2006 and made the journey with me to the Desktop Linux Summit. After being smacked around by airport security in 2006, the Laptop ran freespire for a couple of years until it was loaded with Linux Mint 5 KDE in 2009. It has run Linux Mint 5 KDE until last week when we successfully loaded with the Gigastrand OS.

Ok, when I say successful, there are one or two problems with it. The first is that the wireless is not working for whatever reason - which we will fix soon. The second, we piled on a lot of stuff from the repository to see if it could handle it. 

Well, it sort of handles it but it is slow. Not "holy cow I think I am going to reload Linux Mint 5" slow, but slow nonetheless. I plan to pull off a lot of the KDE developer stuff we loaded and that should help quite a bit.

Anyway, the laptop still serves an important role at Gigastrand. It is my backup PC. It was able to edit video in Open Shot when my main laptop (running Linux Mint 10 KDE) would crash on startup. (BTW: Open Shot works great on Gigastrand OS on both laptops.)

This laptop stays at home for the most part. Now that both systems run the same OS, I can work on either system without having to transport computers back and forth.

So, the little laptop that doesn't die soldiers on. Do you have a PC that has been with you for a long time?


UPDATE: The wireless now works after an Intel firmware update. The laptop still struggles a bit with the new system but considering that it would not run anything later than Linux Mint 5 KDE, I call it a win.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Gigastrand OS: What's Next?

First of all, I want to personally thank everyone who took the time and effort to support the Gigastrand OS project.

While the Kickstarter was not successful, we had an outpouring of moral support from the Linux Community. I was never counting on the funding from Kickstarter as our only means of getting this project done. We have other sources that we may draw from to get this project off the ground.

So what happened? I think we may have been talking to the wrong audience. I was anticipating more financial support from the established Linux community. The problem is, the product we were proposing to make has little appeal to those who already run Linux. They do not need a "transitional Linux" unless they want to convert someone else.

So the Gigastrand OS is far from dead. This is too good of an idea to simply give up - even if we do not have the funding- we will continue to develop for BETA release.

We are also not leaving the Kickstarter scene. We have several other projects we will be asking for funding for. 

For now, the Gigastrand OS plans are this:
  1. Continue development of the OS and various tools while pursuing alternate funding sources.
  2. Install the insider program and other resources
  3. Evaluate and adjust the release schedule as needed.
  4. Continue to post updates via this blog and Gigastrand OS page
 We have already posted updates to the GsOS page and updated this blog entry. More updates are to come so stay tuned!


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Gigastrand now running Gigastrand OS

After a few days of loading and configuration, Gigastrand International is now running the Gigastrand OS Alpha on about 66% of its systems.

The Gigastrand OS Alpha still does not install successfully, however, we have been able to custom-build the OS on various machines.

Our server is next and will be updated this weekend. It has been running Linux Mint Debian since its resurrection and has served us at about 95% of what we need and want it to do. With this update to the Gigastrand OS we hope to realize 100%.

Using this method, we may be able to realize a stable OEM solution before the OS is fully developed. So, we are currently looking into the possibilities, potential, and risks associated with providing a pre-loaded, customized version of the Gigastrand OS on Gigastrand PCs.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Gigastrand A.04 is being made available through Google Docs

Starting immediately the Gigastrand OS Alpha.04 will be made available via Google Drive through Friday the 19th at 5:00pm CST.

You will need a Google login to access the file.

Some things you should know before I give you the download link:

  1. This is an Alpha version. Use at your own risk.
  2. This disc is not customized with all the graphics like you see in the screenshot. We are still working on that part of the OS.
  3. It will boot live on most systems. It just will look like a standard Debian Live Disc.
  4. We have thus far not been able to get it to install successfully. Though, I would encourage you to play with that feature.
  5. The installer is the basic Remastersys installer. It is not as elegant as say, the Linux Mint Installer so be sure you read everything carefully.
  6. Keep in mind this is an Alpha version and is rather unsophisticated. We have many issues that need to be addressed that may seem like rather silly little problems - and many of them are - but we are aware of them and plan to fix them by the time of BETA.
  7. Finally, feedback is always welcome. This is your opportunity to let us know what you would like to see in the system, offer your assistance, and try out a system at the early stage of development. 
Don't forget to go to Kickstarter and support the development. If we don't make it to $40,000 by this Friday the development will be delayed considerably while we search for alternate sources of funding.

I am posting this link in the hopes that we can reach our goal by Friday and we have a long way to go.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Gigastrand OS: Linux for your business - and your mom!

The Gigastrand OS will be the the first Linux OS purpose-built for assisting users in transitioning away from other systems. It will incorporate cross-platform compatibility technologies as well as advanced user assistance and support systems.

This project is centered around the end-user. It is being developed with business users in mind, but the technologies and support systems will make it so friendly that you can give it to your mother and she will be able to use it. The Gigastrand OS all about increasing the odds that businesses and individuals will run Linux full-time.

Alpha testing has already begun and a BETA is planned for release in early January. A 6-month testing cycle is planned before the June 2013 release date. Gigastrand will ship 2 versions: a low cost Open Version based on free software that will be distributed through Linux4Everyone; and a Premium Version that will be available as a retail product and pre-installed on Gigastrand PCs and Laptops.

We want to provide as much software and support for the user as we can right out of the box. For anything else users want to do, we will make sure the process is well-documented and assistance is readily available. The system has to be as self-supporting as we can make it.

The self-supporting features of this OS combined with Gigastrand's Lifetime Warranty PCs have made for some impressive cost-savings projections for small businesses. Gigastrand recently ran a 10 year operating cost projection of a 10 user, 1 Server environment for Windows, Linux, and Gigastrand OS.

The projection was a show-stopper. The cost saving of Linux over Windows was close to $300,000. The cost savings on the Gigastrand environment with the same variables was more than double that at $670,000. It was unbelievable. We ran the numbers several more times and came out with the same figures.

More information is available from Gigastrand ( and Kickstarter websites.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Gigastrand OS Plan

Making a Linux distro is great and all, but your average user barely knows what Linux is, let alone why they should switch. Understandable.

Most of you Linux folks out there are fully baptized in the church of Linux, but really do not see what a commercial distro with built-in Windows compatibility would really do for them. Fair enough.

So, we talk numbers - and yes, we have done the math. Individually, the savings are not huge, but the benefits are tremendous. Businesses, however, the savings are much more impressive. They get even more impressive when we take into account the support systems and technology behind the Gigastrand OS.

We did an evaluation over 10 years and compared the costs associated with running in a 10-user Windows environment with a single server.  We took into account every variable we could including Licensing, hardware failures, downtime, upgrades, etc. We published the results on a promotional flyer and will be handing it out to a large group of people very soon.
How to Save your Business Over Half a Million Dollars on Technology over 10 years

Imagine your average small business with 10 PCs and 1 server. Now, let's examine the average expenditures to operate this equipment over 10 years.

With a Windows environment, the average expenditure to operate in this environment (including upgrades, downtime, and support) is approximately:


With a Linux environment taking into account the same variables the cost of operating the same environment is approximately:


That is a significant savings ($296,333 to be exact) but not really much of a secret. Many companies know about the savings of running Linux.

Now, let's shake things up a bit and assume that the PCs and Server are scalable and upgradeable Gigastrand Lifetime Warranty PCs running the Gigastrand Operating System. Operating this environment will cost approximately:


That is a massive savings of $670,085 over a comparable Windows environment!

We have all of these systems in place except the one that makes this all possible: The Gigastrand OS. It is currently being developed right here in Sioux Falls but we need to raise the money required to complete the software. So head on over to our Kickstarter page and pledge your support to make this a reality!

Kickstarter Direct Link


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Rant: I hate "Software Technology"

I try not to use the term "Software Technology" because I am a software developer and I am a writer. I know this term to be an oxymoron. This is why.

Software comes from code. Lines and lines of code called a programming language. If you put the language together in a certain way, it forms a program that the computer can use to carry out certain tasks. 

Books come from words. Lines and lines of words called a language. If you put the language together in a certain way, it forms a story that the reader can use to inform themselves or imagine other places.

Software patents are a fallacy. If anything, software is subject to copyright laws - like books.

But MR GB! Programs give the computer instructions. It is not recreation.

I have read more how to books than I care to admit. They gave me instructions on how to complete a task. Should they also be subject to patent law? I think not.

If books were subject to patent law, the dummies books and the complete idiot guides would sue each other out of existence. Each has information about the same topics and both solve the same problem but they are completely different works.

We do not go around saying books are technology. 

Ooh, book technology. I think I will patent it.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Gigastrand OS Alpha.02 Created!

In anticipation of the BETA release, Alpha.02 has been created! 

This is based completely on the proposed base system of Debian / KDE. The screenshot for this project and the Gigastrand website has been updated to reflect the a.02 desktop.

The same system in the Gigastrand OS - Take 2 video was used to build it.

We have also created a couple of other videos including a promo video on our Gigastrand YouTube channel.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Video Blog: Mr. G Speaks of Gigastrand OS

This video was a single long take with a lot of Information in it. When we created Gigastrand OS take 2, we had to gut the video to keep it short. We have posted it here so that those who want the info and can sit through 8 minutes of Mr. gigabytes speaking, can have access to it.