Friday, 31 December 2010

Why I may be leaving Ubuntu very soon

Ubuntu has been my primary Operating System for a number of years now and although it wasn't the first Linux distro I tried it's certainly been the one I've used the most due to its amazing usability and professional quality. Recently, however, I feel that Canonical have gotten a little too big for their boots.

I recently upgraded to 10.04 LTS from 9.04 after I got the message it was no longer to be supported. I had put off upgrading due to driver issues encountered in 9.10 (Broadcom wireless). After I installed Ubuntu and got my wireless working I went about my normal customisation of the system – installing my preferred Icon, Metacity, GTK themes etc. When I went to change my login screen I discovered that the functionality to do so had been disabled – as had the function to change system sounds. As someone who rants and raves to his friends about how customisable Linux is and how it doesn't require hacks to change basic things like the Login environment I felt a little bit betrayed by this new direction. But I remained as a quiet grumbler for a few months.

I then read that Ubuntu was ditching GNOME for a new interface they're deveoping called 'Unity' which, I believe, is a version of the Ubuntu Netbook GUI for the desktop market. I thought this was good as I believe it could only improve people's choices and such in the Linux market and that it could potentially bring to the table new ideas (which is never a bad thing). I then read a little more and discovered that Unity's interface is not very customisable at all. The launcher cannot even be moved. Why not? Doubtlessly there will be themes and the like developed for it and I presume I will be able to install GNOME onto the system but will it be the diluted GNOME that Ubuntu provides? Will I no longer be able to choose my own login sounds or login screen? Why not? It seems like an enormous step backwrads to have to faff around in /usr/share/sounds when I used to be able to use a menu? Bah.

I hope that these changes to Ubuntu's system are temporary or Canonical risks becoming the Apple of the Linux world and I for one will certainly be jumping ship elsewhere.

I may write a follow-up post about Ubuntu alternatives if I get the time to play around with them. Stay tuned.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Why I won't be using Google's Chrome OS

Google's Chrome OS has a lot of people riled up; and I can see why. It's based upon a solid Linux core and is focused on the new buzzword in the tech world – cloud.

Google is in the advertising business. They've said as much outright. They want to know who you are, and what you like so they can target ads towards you and thus generate income – now to the casual observer that seems fine as you can be informed of a product you may need/want and Google gets to keep on running. When one looks deeper you realise tha Google don't do any surveys. None. How are they targeting ads?

By following you.

They own Youtube – you watch tech videos they know you like tech (and kittens).
They own Blogspot (the very service this is post is designed for). So if you read blogs about cake then they will display ads about cake.

I won't go as far to claim that Google spies upon your every move (although as a multinational corporation I certainly wouldn't put it past them) but they'll certainly pick up on a few keywords now and then. This is OK in my opinion as anyone who knows anything about the Interwebs knows that even in Private Browsing mode we can still be spied upon by a 12 yr old scriptkiddie with Wireshark installed on his brother's PC.

The problem I have is that cloud computing moves data from the harddrive onto Google's servers. This not only encourages carelessness with one's hardware but also leads to some serious thoughts in my troubled brain? Thoughts such as “What if Google reads my data like it does the web?”. Not only would this my skin crawl at the idea of Google reading my personal information but how they could, and in all likelihood would, use it. It is my current belief, and I pray to all the gods that I am mistaken, that Google would seriously consider reading your data and using it to generate targeted ads.

Another issue is ownership. If your data is on your HDD then you know its yours; if it's backed-up in the cloud (as it should be really) its still yours. But if your data exists solely on Google's servers then what's to stop Google simply removing anything it finds offensive and then winning the right to do so in court?

That's my paranoid ramble over. Anyone with any thoughts on the matter post them below – anyone reading this on Facebook please respond at the blog because I hate Facebook notes.