Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Years Resolutions

From the "Wait, what?" department at Gigastrand International:

I am continuing my annual New Year's resolution of not making a New Year's resolution. It is the only one I seem to be able to keep.

Happy New Year!


Monday, December 30, 2013

Gigastrand OS: Pre-orders shipping this week.

Gigastrand Pre-Orders Ship...NOW!
Here are a few notes on the release.

Gigastrand OS pre-orders are shipping earlier than the .ISO will be released. Gigastrand OS download will be released on January 4th, 2014. If you want it earlier, get it from the Gigastrand Store right away.

Retail versions of the software Include a full version of Crossover with 30 days of support and 30 minutes of phone and remote support for free. That is a $60 value!

Crossover and VLC have been updated since the discs have been manufactured. Get the updates from the Gigastrand OS Software Repository.

Products in the Gigastrand Store have been updated for the release. All PCs include a retail copy of the Gigastrand OS, a Gigastrand OS CD/DVD case and extended support for Crossover and the Gigastrand OS.

A bit of an easter egg for those of you who play around with XBMC, the repository has been added in Aptitude. It is not installed by default, but is easily installed.


Gigastrand OS: v1.0 being prepped for shipment.

Gigastrand OS hardware-accelerated desktop
Development is complete, final testing is over, and Gigastrand OS v1.0 is being readied for shipment. Major hurdles have been overcome and feedback from the test market has been invaluable. 
Gigastrand OS Standard (non-accelerated) desktop
Flash player for Firefox has been fixed and it has taken the spot for the default browser in the release. Chrome is still available as a secondary browser. Updates have been installed and the issue with remote support has been resolved. 

Some notes on the Crossover software included in the Gigastrand OS:

  1. If you choose to download the OS, you will have a 14 day trial to try out Crossover. After that, you can request a full version with 30-days of support with a small processing fee from our store. 
  2. If you purchase a Gigastrand OS disc (either single disc or retail box), the full version of Crossover with the 30 day support is included.
  3. You will have the option of purchasing 1 Year of Crossover support by itself or bundled with a Gigastrand support package.
  4. The Crossover key is specific to the Gigastrand OS and cannot be transferred to other distros.
  5. The version in the release can be upgraded to Crossover 12.2.2 by going to the Gigastrand OS Repository.
Pre-orders will begin shipping as soon as January 1.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas from Gigastrand 2013

Merry Christmas from Gigastrand
Enjoy this update to the Epic of Mr. Gigabytes.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Does Gigastrand OS "ignore the rules" for Linux and Open Source?

A question was once posed to me: "By incorporating closed source and considering the inclusion Microsoft apps like Skype, does Gigastrand OS break with FOSS standards and ignore the rules for a traditional Linux distro?"

My answer at the time was "I hope so." 

Truth be told, I really don't care if this distro breaks a few of the traditionally held rules that Linux must be all open source or not at all. I don't care because my customers don't care. They just want it to work for them.

Look at all the bad OSes that users run. Look at how disparate they are. Look at how some users trade one set of OS problems for another. Not that I am saying Gigastrand OS is perfect, but these are the problems it is trying to solve.

Here is another truth: if you understand that question well enough to ask it or even be offended at my answer, then you are not the target audience for this distro. The politics of open vs. closed source is not something most users are even aware of. They not only buy devices with closed source software, but the devices themselves are more closed (read "non-upgradeable") than ever.

If I had a choice to build this OS exclusively on open source software, I would do that in a heartbeat. The reality is that what we wanted to do requires the combination of closed and open source software.

For your final truth, closed source is not bad. There is very good closed source software out there. For example, I have a colleague of mine (http://www.sidewalktech.com/that develops specialized software on Linux systems and most - if not all - of his software is closed source. His customers love it and still buy from him.

When we think of closed source it is often the companies themselves and their business practices that makes us think of it as bad. 


Monday, December 16, 2013

Gigastrand OS: On Security

A quick disclaimer: Comments made in this post on Microsoft Windows as comparison/contrast to the Gigastrand OS for the purpose of educating the reader on computer OS security that may be misconstrued as a disparagement on Microsoft, Windows, or its users. It is not the intent of the author or Gigastrand International to make any such disparagements on these entities. 

"Gigastrand OS is a self-supporting PC operating system designed with superior cross-platform compatibility but is safer and less expensive to operate than other systems."

What exactly does it mean that an OS is safer? Well, for a start, it isn't Microsoft Windows which, historically, has a disastrous track record for PC security. There are many reasons for this - many of which are outside of Microsoft's control.

So why is Windows that much less secure than any other operating system in the world? 

Well, for a start, it is a big target. Let's say you could write a program to attack any computing device in the world. In the PC world, Windows is still the dominant desktop and laptop operating system. If you were aiming to make as big an impact as possible, Windows PCs are a good place to start.

Second, it is a relatively easy target to exploit. Windows has improved vastly over time in regards to vulnerabilities that could be exploited by virus programs in no small part to the efforts of Microsoft, however, its users often install spyware and malware on their computers in the pursuit of free software. In other words, users are installing virus-like programs willingly without knowing it to accomplish a specific task.

Third, programming for Windows is expensive. Far more than other OSes. So, good software tends to cost money which makes users tend to pursue, download, and install free software alternatives from less than trustworthy websites. This, of course, really has nothing to do with Windows at all. It is more about human nature than software faults.

Finally, Windows software tends to be closed-source. While there is nothing inherently wrong with closed-source software, it does not allow the review by programming peers that open source software does. Fewer eyes on the code, means fewer things get fixed in a timely manner. I could go on about the benefits of open source software (OSS) but that is a whole other blog. 

OK. What makes Gigastrand OS security that much better?

Gigastrand OS is a smaller target. Dropping a stone into a puddle doesn't really have the effect of an asteroid dropping into the ocean. Often fewer users affected makes it not worth the time of someone looking to make headlines with their latest exploit.

Gigastrand OS does not run Windows programs natively. Therefore, Gigastrand OS is not affected by Windows-based malicious software. You can run some Windows software using the Windows compatibility layer or inside a Windows Virtual Box but if you break that part of the OS, you do not break the entire computer.

Gigastrand OS also has a package manager (think App Store) that you can search for free and guaranteed safe programs to install on your computer.

Gigastrand OS is less expensive all around. Much of the software available in Gigastrand OS is free and all programs from the package manager is free from malicious software.

Gigastrand OS is built primarily on open-source software. While some programs we include are closed source, much of the OS and its programs are open source.

What, if anything, am I still vulnerable to?

No security is absolute and while Gigastrand OS has much better security than some other OSes, ultimately, your security is only as good as your password and the security of the institutions you trust with your data. Phishing scams, spam, e-mail scams, and password hacking of large institutions are all things that users of ANY operating system can still be susceptible to. Using common-sense safe computing practices will help you stay safe.


Friday, December 13, 2013

Casual Fridays: Doctor 12

I remember the 4th Doctor Who as something that scared me as a child. When I was re-introduced to Doctor Who in 2005, I was hooked but had little interest in re-visiting old episodes.

When Dr 9 regenerated into David Tennant, I missed the Christmas Special and watched one episode of the second season and was done with Doctor Who for a few seasons. I later went back, caught up, and got to like Dr 10 very much.

When Dr 11 came along, I was prepared for the regeneration but was skeptical of the new actor. I was quickly converted and have enjoyed Matt Smith's Doctor.

Now that Dr 12 is coming, I am actually looking forward to it. The only problem I have with Doctor Who is the same reason I REALLY like Tom Baker's Doctor. Longevity.

I sincerely hope Peter Capaldi will have the will and the staying power to last more than a few years as the Doctor. As I have been indoctrinated in American Sci-fi, I am used to watching the same cache of actors for up to 7 years without much change. I would like to see that kind of staying power in Doctor Who. 


Monday, December 2, 2013

Gigastrand OS: Download BETA 4 Now!

We had a small computer failure trying to get BETA 4 uploaded on Sunday December 1st, but all is fixed and you can now get your copy of Gigastrand OS BETA 4 now!

We have added Skype for you to play around with. We are currently working on the additional software for release.