Open Source – a bad practice?

 Dec 18th, 2008 

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This article is about operating systems on home/personal PCs.

One of the biggest paradoxes: Linux is free and most people prefer to use paid operating system. Or ever worse they struggle to find a pirated version of a paid OS, get infested with viruses, spend many hours installing and formatting, get nervous when updates cannot be installed because of the Genuine check etc.

In a recent study I’ve seen that only 3.8 percent of users use Linux, 5.5% use Mac OsX and the rest use Windows. Well, Linux cannot be that bad…

The normal PC user doesn’t want to search the Internet in order to find the right package for his distribution, configure applications in text mode and read hundreds of pages of documentation. He wants a product that can be used out of the box and can be installed with no headaches.

If we are to consider the Windows world as a continuous line, the Linux world is like a set of discrete points – there are many distributions, many versions of the same application, platform specific versions, distribution specific versions etc. This is the price paid by the open source solutions. There are users who want to make their own version of an application in order to improve it or just want to get some credits and they consider that anything not made by them is junk.

Also there are communities that develop their own version of Linux – maybe a small distribution, for a specific device. In time that version evolves, includes more and more features and becomes like any other distro. Repeat this process for a few communities and we get a pretty large number (for an OS) of distributions that run their specific applications, require specific configuration and even platform.

An inexperienced user is afraid of this continually evolving world. He wants stability; he wants to be able to learn something now and apply it the same way after 5 years and wants to use a new application just like he uses the old one. Linux does not have a central authority that controls how things evolve. There are different size communities but sometimes there is no connection between them; is a pseudo-chaos: inside communities everything is OK but when their products meet is bad.

On the other side Windows does not expose its source code, Microsoft dictates controls what and how must be done, users are happy even though the product is not always good, applications respect a certain pattern and everything seems to work fine. And they even make money.

Creating open source products is a bad thing on long term?

Operating System Poll

 Jun 5th, 2008 

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[poll id=”4″]

Install custom firmware on Asus WL500G Premium

 May 23rd, 2008 

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If you are one of the Asus WL500G Premium owners than it is possible to have problems with an USB drive connected the the unit: the HDD won’t respond after a few MB written on disk and the unit restores it’s factory settings.

Maybe you don’t have problems like the one above but I am having problems with an Western Digital 500GB Essential Edition connected to the router so I decided to upgrade it’s firmware to a DD-WRT version (v24 std final). It’s a small Linux distribution that can be installed on many routers.

It brings a lot of new features:

  • Advanced banwidth management
  • DDNS support
  • Ad network support
  • Hotspot support
  • MAC Address Clone
  • Advanced DHCP options
  • Advanced Wireless configuration (mode, frequency, encryption, mac filter, etc)
  • XBOX and PSP connection
  • System log, traffic log, network map
  • SSH connection
  • A lot of filters for MAC, hostname, IP, etc.
  • Overclocking (!)
  • New web UI
  • Wake On Lan
  • etc.

See the difference between the classic Asus firmware and DDWRT:

Default Asus firmware

DD-WRT Firware

This guide is for Asus but a similar process can be applied to any router from the Supported Hardware List. Step 1 and 2 are different but the others are the same.

Very important: Before you read any further and/or try a firmware upgrade note that I am not responsible for any hardware/software/human (hope not) damages/injuries. Try to be sure that you have a backup supply for the router and PC because a power shortage in the middle of the upgrade process makes your router useless!

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