Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Gigastrand's New Store

Gigastrand is working to make improvements to the website. Starting with a new storefront powered by Square. Our Shopify storefront was very nice, but it cost quite a bit to maintain. The new store is pretty basic, but works for the few items that we sell online.

More improvements are on the way.

Order Online

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Why this blog has been silent for the last few months.

So, some have noticed that this blog has been silent for the last few months. We haven't gone away, but we have been busier than ever.

Personally, I have been busy meeting all kinds of new people and promoting Gigastrand OS. As a company, we have been involved in several large projects that have taken a lot of my time to oversee.

Over the next few weeks, we hope to wrap up some of these projects so we can get back to business as usual.

When we get back, we will be making some announcements. So stay tuned.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Gigastrand Wants to Give You a Computer...REALLY!

Gigastrand wants to give you a computer for FREE.

You read that right, Gigastrand wants to give you a refurbished PC pre-loaded with the Gigastrand OS 2.0. It includes a DVD drive, wireless keyboard and mouse, and other specifications selected at random.

This also includes 2 hours of Gigastrand Support to help you get it set up and answer any questions you may have as well as a 1 year hardware warranty.

What do you have to do?
1. Contact Gigastrand International via our contact form expressing that you are interested. (No phone calls for this as you might not be processed.)
2. Fill out the form. A link will be sent to you via e-mail.
3. You will be directed to a site where a $48 processing fee will be assessed to help defray the costs of the program. If a PC is not available, we will add you to a waiting list and you will not have to pay anything until one is available.
4. You can keep the PC as long as you run Gigastrand OS exclusively on it. You are allowed to run other OSes in Virtual box if necessary but the main OS should stay Gigastrand.
5. After 6 months you may opt out of the program by simply sending us an e-mail. The computer is yours to keep and do with as you wish from that point on.
6. Other details will be laid out in the form. 

We cannot guarantee the type, speed, brand or any other specification except the computer will be able to run the Gigastrand OS. 


Contact us and we will get you started right away!


PC or PoC: Server Update


I recently realized that the operating system on my server was an updated version of Gigastrand OS Alpha .04.                

Now that we have released 2.0 (almost a year and a half after Alpha .04), I figured it was about time to upgrade. If I didn't I might lose my geek cred.

Nothing hardware-wise will change. just the OS. I anticipate an uneventful migration.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Gigastrand OS Release Dates Revised

Gigastrand OS is releasing a final bug-fix for 1.0 this week. Gigastrand OS 1.2 will remove Google Chrome and Chromium while adding auto-update capabilities to Firefox and Thunderbird. Some minor cosmetic changes and updates will also be a part of the package.

Gigastrand OS 2.0 is an upgrade to version 1.0. It uses a newer Debian base, Linux kernel, and KDE version. This version may not be compatible with some older systems, but has a fully-functioning version of Google Chrome, Choqok (for Twitter), and many other additions.

A previous blog post put the release for Gigastrand OS 2.0 as 07/01/2014. With the addition of the release of OS 1.2, Gigastrand has revised the release dates for Gigastrand OS as follows:

Gigastrand OS 1.2 retail boxes are shipping 06/25/2014
Gigastrand OS 2.0 pre-orders will ship this week. Estimated ship date: 06/25/2014
Gigastrand OS 1.2 ISO download will be available 07/01/2014
Gigastrand OS 2.0 ISO download will be available 07/14/2014

Gigastrand will continue to provide support for 1.0 users for the foreseeable future. Gigastrand OS 1.x has the ability to run on much older hardware than newer versions so it will continue to be supported for users of older PCs.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Gigastrand OS: 2.0 Release date announced.

Gigastrand OS 2.0 will be released July 1st.

The development of this Debian 7 / KDE based OS is being fast-tracked for release July 1st. Much of the testing and development has been done during the development of Gigastrand 1.0 allowing this development cycle to be shortened.

Gigastrand will continue to support 1.0 users for the foreseeable future and will continue to be available for download on the Gigastrand OS site. Once 2.0 is released, 1.0 will no longer be available from the Gigastrand Store (gigastrand.biz).

Gigastrand is also discontinuing the single-disc versions of the Gigastrand OS and will only offer retail boxes in 2.0. Downloads of 2.0 and bootable USB drives will still be offered.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

PC or PoC: Original Gigastrand PADD

The Gigastrand P. A. D. D. (Personal android display device) was a 7 inch android tablet and the first android tablet Gigastrand sold. I personally own the first and last original Gigastrand P.A.D.D. in Gigastrand's possession.

When it first came out it was a rival for the Kindle fire. Now, it seems that Google has left it behind. Many of the programs that once worked are no longer compatible with this unit. It still runs Android 4.0 but only as an Arm A8 cortex processor while most modern tablets are running at least an A10.

Despite these shortcomings, I did use this tablet for some light work. There really are no options for upgrades – it is a tablet after all. 

I have since upgraded to a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7" from Verizon. It has replaced one of my smartphones and -except for the size - trumps carrying an Android smartphone. The battery life is exceptional, it is $30 a month cheaper, and it does everything a smartphone does - except make calls.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

PC or PoC: Asus Laptop

When people see this laptop they are amazed at the size and capability of this tablet sized PC. It has an Intel atom processor a touchscreen and 2 GB of memory. Its main hard drive is 16 GB with an expansion slot for an additional 16 GB. I've tried using 32 GB in the expansion slot however it does not recognize anything above 16.

This originally came with windows XP home and of course the touchscreen and all of the special features worked. With the Windows video driver this tiny 10.1 inch screen could do 1024x768. However, in Linux, the best the screen will do is 800x600 resolution. This required me to get creative with the configuration in the Gigastrand OS. The first thing I had to do was reduce the font size for the operating system. Then I had to install QT style for GTK. This allowed font resizing for most of my installed programs.

One of the really neat things about this laptop is that it is powered off of 12V rather than the usual 19 V of most laptops. This allowed me to go down to my local RadioShack and pick up a simple car charger for it. So rather than having to run the inverter I can simply plug it into a cigarette lighter outlet in my car.

The laptop's hard drive is solid-state which gives us laptop a slight performance boost. Despite its diminutive size I find that it works well for most things.

This laptop has been perfect for field work because of its size and voltage requirements. Once I ditched Windows in favor of the Gigastrand OS, despite one or two shortcomings, this laptop works nearly as well or better than when it was running Windows.

There isn't much in the way of upgrades that can be done to this computer. At 2 GB the memory is maxed out, I am not entirely sure if the hard drive can be upgraded all, and I have purchased a Samsung external DVD burner with light scribe so that I have a way to load software and burn discs. The DVD player could not be USB powered as it would've required using both USB ports in order to fully power an external player. So the DVD burner comes with its own transformer and plugs into the wall. Additionally, if the DVD burner develops a fault, the drive itself can be replaced without replacing the entire unit.

However, when I recently tried to upgrade the laptop to a 64Gb SSD, there was a problem. The laptop just decided to not power up any more. Now, it is being repurposed as a non-working concept machine.


Monday, May 5, 2014

Gigastrand Security: Now a Licensed Alarm installer.

Gigastrand Security engineers and develops its own line of PC-based video security systems. They are designed to be scalable and upgradeable potentially making them the last security system you will ever have to buy. This has made them rather popular with nearly a dozen systems installed in the last year. 

These video systems integrate well with alarm systems therefore it was only natural to integrate alarm system sales and installation to Gigastrand Security offerings. Over the next few weeks, we will be adding and updating the Gigastrand Security site with alarm products and services.

Most alarm systems require a hard wired phone line or cellular line to connect the alarm panel. Gigastrand panels can accept a phone line but we specialize in Internet-connected alarm systems and monitoring.

For more information go to gigastrandsecurity.com


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

PC or PoC: MR GB Home DVR

When you design and build DVRs for a living one is bound to come home with you. Such is the case with my personal home DVR.

This system was built several years ago specifically to connect several cameras up at my home. It has 3 GB of memory a 1 TB hard drive and an Intel dual core processor. It uses a Hikvision 8 channel capture card running Unisight professional DVR software.

There is no option to run Linux on this particular system as the DVR software is only compatible with Windows. While I can run Windows 7, I choose to run Windows XP. Gigastrand will be developing a DVR software that will run in Linux and be very similar to the software that runs on my home DVR and current Gigastrand Security systems.

At one point this system was connected to a projector. With our cable box connected to the 2nd channel we could display the TV show we were watching plus 5 cameras around it. We can still do this however on a smaller screen it provides some reduction in enjoyment of our show. Additionally the signal is down converted from HD when watching an HD channel. So watching HD television through the DVR is sort of an academic exercise.

One benefit of running the TV through the DVR is that whatever is on the screen is recorded so we can monitor who is watching what on the television and even stream our live TV in low-quality over the Internet.

The DVR also has a couple of video outs so we can connect additional monitors as well as a Blu-ray burner so we can watch Blu-ray movies and burn Blu-ray discs. Also, being Windows we can watch Netflix or Hulu or whatever else we can watch on a PC.

I have loaded XBMC on this DVR however running the DVR software and running XBMC is quite a bit more than this particular system can handle at once. I am not certain if the systems will need to be separate systems or if a few upgrades will solve the issue. For now, the system is unlikely to change very much in the near future.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Gigastrand OS: Preliminary development begins this week on 2.0

Gigastrand OS 2.0
This week begins preliminary development of Gigastrand OS 2.0. We will determine the base OS, and have something presentable by the end of the week.

Silent Blog
This blog has been fairly quiet over the last month for a number of reasons. We have been prepping for development, finishing up on several customer projects, and MR GB himself has been going through issues related to an unexpected death in the family.

Fear not, however, things are starting to get back to normal.

Gigastrand Jobs
Gigastrand is hiring for several contract positions. Visit http://www.gigastrand.com/jobs.htm for more information.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April fools?

Just in case you didn't pick up on the queues in the April 1st announcement that Ubuntu was buying the Gigastrand OS, we would like to officially retract that announcement as it is completely made up and patently false. We know because we made it up.

We are, however, looking at possibly basing Gigastrand 2.0 on Kubuntu. This is by no means an official announcement, but just one of the possibilities. We are currently making inroads in development using Debian 7 and KDE.


Ubuntu to purchase Gigastrand OS

In a surprising announcement, Ubuntu plans to acquire the Linux distribution Gigastrand OS for an undisclosed amount of money. 

Plans announced today to acquire the fledgling distro were - to say the least - shocking. Founder and CEO of Gigastrand International, Josh Tordsen was happy with the announcement.

"We like what Ubuntu does and are truly pleased with their decision. We see great things for the OS in the future."

Head of new acquisitions for Ubuntu , Mattie Upneme, expressed similar sentiment.

"Gigastrand OS is the leap forward we needed here at Ubuntu. It fits in with Mr. Shuttleworth's vision of a Lino-centric world."

The acquisition is to take place today and expected to have approval by the FTC around this time next year.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Gigastrand moves forward with Gigastrand OS 2.0

Gigastrand is committing to Gigastrand OS 2.0 through BETA 1. Release date TBD. The expectation is that BETA 1 will be at least as good as the 1.0 release.

While BETA 1 will closely resemble Gigastrand OS 1.0, Gigastrand OS 2.0 should be a big leap forward. For one, 2.0 will have 32 bit and 64 bit options with many software updates. The base OS will be Debian 7 with KDE.

For development to continue, Gigastrand has to raise money for the development. This is happening with purchases of Gigastrand OS v1.0 products and through sales of other products and services.

In the meantime, it is possible there will be a second minor revision to 1.0 released in the next few months. What form that will take, none of us at Gigastrand really know but there have been ideas from many people on this. Here are a few of the more popular ones:

Gigastrand OS 1.2 "Light": A leaner, cleaner and possibly fit on a CD version of the OS.
Gigastrand OS 1.2 "Hacker Edition": More diagnostic tools for networks and computers.
Gigastrand OS 1.2 "Kiosk": Streamlined interface for touchscreens.
Gigastrand OS 1.2 "Edu Edition": An Education edition of the Gigastrand OS.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Gigastrand adds Bitcoin Support to online store.

Gigastrand is accepting Bitcoin once again . After limited success with Mt. Gox tools (now seemingly demised) Gigastrand temporarily suspended Bitcoin transactions. Gigastrand has re-enabled Bitcoin transactions in the online store (gigastrand.biz).

You can choose the Bitpay option in checkout. You may also use Paypal or credit card.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

PC or PoC: Gimmick Tech

If it isn't broken, don't fix it. This is pretty much the mantra of PC or PoC. 

Recently, a relative of mine has purchased a laptop/tablet convertible. The touchscreen failed inside of a week and she returned it, bought another laptop, and it failed after 3 weeks of an electrical fault.

I owned a convertible laptop with a 10" screen. Loved it. Not because it was a convertible, because it was the smallest laptop I have ever owned and was perfect for field work. It recently died when I tried to upgrade it.

The problem with convertible laptops is that they are gimmicks. When I used my convertible I rarely used it as a tablet. It was nice to fold the screen down and put it away, but when in tablet mode, it didn't magically start running Android. It still ran the OS it ran when I started the computer.

That means, even in tablet mode, it is still a laptop with a touchscreen. A device with a touchscreen is an amazing piece of tech, but a touchscreen is a compromise compared to a proper keyboard and mouse.

The experience of my relative reminds me of why I write this blog. You see, the tech industry - and in particular the computer industry - is obsessed with the next gimmick. Rather than focusing on proven, reliable technology, they push out the next gimmick to sell - ready or not.

Gigastrand has never been about the next gimmick. Our customers want reliable tech that works and works well. That is what we will continue to provide.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Gigastrand OS: How much did 1.0 development cost?

Linux is free and those with the know-how can sit down and create a distribution without much effort. But have you ever wondered approximately how much a distribution like Gigastrand OS might cost to develop? We broke it down (figures are approximate).

Development time: $19,200
Promotion and ads: $10,750
Licenses and software: $2,000
Packaging and distribution: $1,060
Utilities: $7,200
Equipment: $4,800

1 year development total: $45,010

Last year, Gigastrand footed much of the bill for the Gigastrand OS development. The rest came from generous donations from people like you. $45,000 is cheap compared to the millions and billions spent on larger operating systems - and even the base OS and desktop environment for Gigastrand OS. 

Something to think about when downloading your next distribution.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Gigastrand OS: On USB

The Gigastrand OS has now been released on USB stick. The live DVD with installer can now be accessed on systems without an optical drive.

The Gigastrand OS 1.1 image is on a 2Gb flash drive and can be used on any system that can boot to a USB drive. This can make it a handy tool for IT professionals.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Casual Fridays: Support small business for free

Dear friends and family,

I am 100% positive that you know a small business owner. You probably know more than one. All of us small business owners are passionate about our work and do our best to make a living off that passion every day.

Promoting a small business is like standing in a valley shouting up to the people on the mountain hoping your message isn't just being heard by goats. But when we make a post about our business, it is not just an advertisement, we are letting you know what we are doing in our lives (not unlike the posts everyone makes) it's just a little more - well, business-y. 

So if you get a facebook post, tweet, or even e-mail about a small business - that you happen to know the owner personally - I would encourage you to like, share, or re-post it to your friends. It doesn't cost anything and the support is greatly appreciated.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Gigastrand International: Celebrating 8 years

Gigastrand Founder Josh Tordsen at the Desktop Linux Summit in 2006
Since its founding February 1st, 2006, Gigastrand International has survived and endured some of the worst economic times in history. Throughout its 8 years of business, it has manged to continue and expand its mission of Linux advocacy during times that have killed off lesser businesses. 

Before it was founded as Gigastrand International in 2006, the Linux advocacy took on the form of LinspireNetwork in 2004, and GigabytesNetwork in 2005. That amounts to over a decade of Linux advocacy. 

A brief history.
2006 started out well for Gigastrand. Gigastrand had a presence at the Desktop Linux Summit, it sold several PCs and laptops that year, Gigastrand had many industry firsts, and things were looking up.

Then, in December of 2006, co-founder Patrick Green bowed out to focus on other projects. in 2007, Linspire, Gigastrand's flagship product, went out of business. Gigastrand searched for a suitable replacement and eventually found it in Linux Mint.

In 2007, the concept of the Gigastrand OS was born. The project was shelved in 2008 after switching to Linux Mint.

2008 - 2010 Gigastrand eliminated all unnecessary operations and maintained the website with a few residual sales of Linux Mint and freespire.

Then, in 2011, Gigastrand reorganized once again. It began with a complete overhaul of the website, a renewal of the business license, and a new plan of action resulting in increased sales. In 2012 things began to fall into place and, as a result, Gigastrand began to pursue the idea of its own OS. The Gigastrand OS concept was dusted off and reborn with a new purpose.

Over a year, the Gigastrand OS was developed and Gigastrand evolved. While the final product released fell short of some expectations, it did accomplish nearly all of the goals we had set out to accomplish. 

What's ahead?
2014 is shaping up to be a gang buster year for Gigastrand. With the Gigastrand OS embodying our mission, it will be at the center of everything we do this year. There are a lot of plans for Gigastrand this year. 

If you think all this is cool, wait until you see what is next. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Netflix on Gigastrand OS? Yes it's possible.

Many, many people are presently working to try and bring Netflix to Linux with varying degrees of success. While services like Hulu run natively in either Firefox or Chrome in the Gigastrand OS, Netflix does not currently run natively in Linux.

Well, we have a solution but it is a good news / bad news sort of thing. 

The good news? Yes it will run inside Gigastrand OS. The bad news? It requires running Windows in Virtual Box.

There are a few limitations as well. First off, you have to have an Nvidia, Ati or AMD video card with the accelerated graphics driver loaded. We have those drivers in the repository.

Second, you cannot run the Virtual Box AND Netflix at full screen. Even with desktop additions, the Virtual Box driver just can't handle it. You end up with really choppy video and audio. We got it to run well at 800x600 and with Netflix running fullscreen. This resulted in good playback and reasonably comfortable viewing on a 1366x768 monitor.

We are presently working on and testing various solutions to the Netflix issue.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Gigastrand OS: v1.1

Gigastrand released a minor update to the Gigastrand OS 1.0 January 29th. There are a few minor software updates and a few minor issues were addressed that did not make it into the initial release.

VLC and Crossover were updated the latest available versions specifically so end-users would not have to update the programs themselves.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

PC or PoC: Tax Act

I know this is a bit of a plug, but now that we are in tax season, there is one tax site I have personally recommended for over 8 years: TaxAct. It is because the site has been and continues to be Linux-friendly.

I refuse to do my taxes on a Windows machine. Turbo Tax is nice, but when I have to have Internet Explorer just to access their site, it is not going to happen. Besides, despite a few inroads to make the it a little more cross-platform, Turbo Tax is far and away the most expensive software to use. For me, it would cost $74.99. I can e-file my taxes with TaxAct for $0 but I do pay $10 for some of the convenience features.

The Laptop I began using TaxAct on over 8 years ago.
If you can balance a checkbook, read and understand English at a grade-school level, you can file your own taxes. I have been doing it since I was 16. TaxAct makes it possible for me to do since my taxes get more complicated each year.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Gigastrand OS: 2.0?

Will there be a Gigastrand OS 2.0? The official word is more than likely.

Gigastrand has plans to develop Gigastrand OS through 4.0, however, a few things must fall into place before 2.0 can happen. 

If all goes well Gigastrand will begin development of 2.0 starting mid-2014 with plans to release later this year or early 2015.

In the meantime, look for new products based on the Gigastrand OS coming soon.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Gigastrand OS: A Note for Linux Gurus

A Note to Linux Gurus
Gigastrand OS is a Linux Distribution based on Debian Linux and the KDE Desktop. On the surface, it is not dissimilar to many of the other Linux distributions out there and, compared to other Linux distros, may seem slightly less than cutting edge.

Here is where it sets itself apart from other Linuxes you know and love. What we have done with this distro is simplified the interface; pre-installed some of the best and easiest to use software from both open and closed sources; developed a support system as easy to use as possible; and, to top it all off, integrated remote assistance software in such a way that it can be used PRIOR to actually installing the software.

Millions of PC users and businesses are stuck with an operating system that is inefficient, insecure, incompatible, and under-supported. There is not one person in the world that knows that better than you, the Linux Guru

This also means that, as good of a system as the Gigastrand OS is, it really isn't designed for you. You can use it - you may even like it - but the people who barely know what an operating system is, are the people that will benefit most.

We are using over 14 years of experience of trying to overcome the hurdles of transitioning folks to Linux and putting it into a single OS. We have made it as easy as possible to use and, failing that, will take that call to support those who use it - so you won't have to.

So use Gigastrand OS to help your friends and relatives make the switch to Linux. It will be as easy on you as it is on them.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Gigastrand OS: Resources page

Gigastrand Support Resources
The resources page is an ongoing project to provide easy access to support resources for the Gigastrand OS. Originally intended to be the backbone of the Gigastrand OS support system, this page contains all of the support information we have compiled for the various software included in the Gigastrand OS itself and the various repositories.

This page is being added to on an almost daily basis. As we hear about new software from sources like the Linux Foundation and other resources we add that software to the page. Our goal is to add or improve 1 entry per day on average.

Each entry has 2 links - one to the main page for the software and the other to a support or documentation page. These links have been verified by Gigastrand.

Software Support Key
Green is software that is fully supported by Gigastrand. Installation, upgrades, and use of the software is supported.

Blue is software included in the repository but is supported by Gigastrand for installation only. Configuration and use is not supported at this time.

Red is software that is usually found on the Internet and is generally regarded as safe, however, Gigastrand does not support any aspect of this software.

Unlisted software currently has no support.

Planned Improvements
Most of the software listed will soon have an icon and a Gigastrand support link included in the software title. This link will lead to a support page made by Gigastrand with videos, how-tos, and other support information.

Eventually, the resources page will become the primary support page in one form or another. Until then, look to this page as an evolving guide to the software available to the Gigastrand OS.


Friday, January 3, 2014

Gigastrand OS Download scheduled for tonight.

At midnight central time, January 14th 2014, the Gigastrand OS will be made available for free download. 

Some things you might want to know before you download:

The download comes with a 14 day trial of Codeweavers' Crossover. However, if you need the full version with 30 days of support, you can get it via e-mail for a $1 processing fee in the Gigastrand Store. This software is normally $39 from Codeweavers.

There are a few updates available. Namely VLC and Crossover. Both are available in the Gigastrand Software Repository. These updates didn't make it into the image before release.

If you need the latest version of Opera, we have included that in the repo as well.

A list of installed software and support links is available. Gigastrand OS Support Resources includes links to support sites for most of the software installed on the system. More is being added daily. On this page you can also see what is and is not supported. As a rule of thumb, pre-installed software is fully supported; repository software (not pre-installed) installation is supported (but not the use of the software itself); and anything else is not supported. Software listed as unsupported in resources is in testing to be added to the repository.

For the next few weeks, we will be working on the support site, documentation, and Gigastrandos.com