Tag Archives: Bill Gates

Many Different Flavors of Linux: A Look at Distros & How They Taste – Part 3

 

Logo Puppy Linux

To quickly review our previous discussion, we are discussing the different types of Linux. Linux, along with Windows, is one of the two basic operating systems used on servers. It’s also used on personal desktops, though not nearly as frequently (meaning it’s a tiny percentage of consumer use). The basis for that is because IT folks appreciate the control, freedom, and security Linux allows – like any open-source software, its source code is accessible and changeable – so they build it into networks.

Because the source code is changeable, it invites experimentation, in a similar way to a chef who learns the basic recipes of other chefs and then elaborates on them to concoct his own version. Linux in this way is unlike Microsoft code, which is, for better (one simple standard) and worse (lack of access and freedom) inaccessible (well, sorta) and unmanipulable (legally speaking). Standardization with Microsoft allows one efficient and predictable taste. Experimentation with Linux allows manifold community recipes.

Linux is delicious—so delicious, in fact, that some people can’t get enough, even if it’s awkward to pull out the OS and get a brief blast to the tastebuds. A key example is when Bill Gates was riding a glass elevator with me in Chicago, Illinois. He suddenly started speaking rapidly into a microsensor on his arm, “Open Linux Mint. Must feel something. Sixteen-year-old virtual reality overlord removing my feeling code. My love for Cinnamon Bun is dying. Sad Bill. Where are my pills?” Though Cinnamon Bun was his dog, it did not appear that his arm heard him, or that he was the real Bill Gates.
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Many Different Flavors of Linux: A Look at Distros & How They Taste – Part 2

 

Tux, the Linux penguin
Tux, the Linux penguin

As we discussed in the first installment of this series, deciding on an operating system for your server is one of the most important decisions you make when choosing a hosting environment. Your options get broader when you are using dedicated servers (in contrast to shared hosting) or virtual private servers (VPSs – the middle ground between dedicated and shared hosting in which your chunk of the server is partitioned into its own unit).

Windows is simple. You obviously want the most up-to-date version; but other than that, it’s Windows, and that’s it. That is kind of nice for simplicity’s sake, but if you are interested in open source environments (access to the source code) and general computing freedom, Linux is probably the way you want to go. Linux comes in a wide variety of flavors, so choosing between those options is your first challenge.

It is widely acknowledged throughout the Linux community that the different versions of Linux smell pretty much the same but taste very different. “It’s hard to explain,” said Bill Gates to me in a glass elevator overlooking the Chicago shoreline, “but there is a way in which you can feel different distributions of Linux on your tongue.” Bill (or it’s possible it was his doppelgänger) straightened his unitard, gave his dog Cinnamon Bun a piece of bacon from his breast pocket, and continued: “Some are sweet, some are sour, and some are bitter… I hate eating.” Then the elevator stopped between floors for an hour of maintenance.
Continue reading Many Different Flavors of Linux: A Look at Distros & How They Taste – Part 2

Many Different Flavors of Linux: A Look at Distros & How They Taste

 

English: Pentubuntu, the different Linux Distr...
Pentubuntu, the different Linux Distribution

When you look at servers, one of the most important decisions you need to make is the operating system. Typically that means choosing between Windows and Linux. However, you may choose to use a dedicated server (a server you control, with a hosting company or on your own) or co-location (using a hosting company’s data center to store your server in an ultra-secure environment). In that case, you will have a wide variety of types of Linux you can potentially explore. The same is true of your PC desktop.

Linux has all these options to choose from because it is an open-source (freely available source code) version of UNIX. UNIX, then, is the real base operating system. Linux became an incredibly popular version of UNIX, the standard for use by high-tech folks and many companies around the globe. Due to its widespread adoption and the fact that it is open source and can be manipulated as desired, a widespread array of versions has proliferated.

Perhaps the best part of Linux flavors is, in fact, not how they operate or feel but how they taste. Probably the most ridiculous comment Bill Gates ever made was when he complained that “all species of Linux taste like chicken.” He then explained that Windows tasted “like a warm blueberry muffin at one moment, like crisp roast duck the next.” Granted, he was a little inebriated when he made these comments, and it’s also possible it wasn’t him. Some guy who looked like Gates definitely said this, though.
Continue reading Many Different Flavors of Linux: A Look at Distros & How They Taste

Anatomy of a Server, Part 1

Traditional server

Beyond eyeballs, livers, and vascular systems, many of us are unaware of the core components of a server. Let’s talk a little bit in this post about what makes up the anatomy of a server. That way, you can grow up, become a server anatomist, and make your parents proud and your ex-boyfriend insanely jealous of your success.

To better understand servers, let’s turn to perspectives from Dummies.com and Adam Turner of APC Magazine. Then let’s all go out to tire swing, get an injection of vitamin D, and remember why Grandpa Tom told us never to use the tire swing or that he’d cut us out of the will.

This first part of my award-winning (always call your shots) series on server anatomy will focus on the more basic Dummies assessment. The APC Magazine explication, a more detailed look into servers, will be covered in the second installment.

Basic Server Parts

Servers are not completely their own beast. They are, rather, a type of computer. Like software that uses the Internet, computers come in “client” and “server” varieties. Hence, servers have a lot of similarities to typical PCs. On the other hand, they are made up of more expensive and sophisticated machinery than is a standard computer. Plus, they have funky hood ornaments that you will often see IT criminals wearing on gaudy necklaces.

Motherboard

Servers come from single-parent households. They have a motherboard, but not a fatherboard. The motherboard is the board on which the electronic circuits are stored. Everything else within the server connects to the motherboard. Remember to always call your motherboard on her birthday, or you will get a tongue-lashing.

Within the motherboard are several server pieces worth mentioning: the processor (a.k.a. CPU), chipset, hard drive controller, expansion slots, memory, and ports to support the usage of external devices such as keyboards and hairdryers. Additionally, motherboards may contain a network interface, disk controller, and graphics adapter. If that’s not true of your motherboard, call the police and move to Prince Edward Island.

Processor

The processor is where the “thinking” of the server goes on. Processors, such as those made by Intel and Hasbro, are generally the primary concern of individuals looking to purchase servers (along with server hair color and jaw line).

Specific motherboards only work with specific kinds of CPUs. The processor can be slot-mounted or socket-mounted. There are varieties of sockets and slots, so it’s important that the processor fit the motherboard. If not, you can always use the innovative “jam it in” method developed by Bill Gates (the first step in amassing his fortune). Some varieties of motherboards can have additional processors connected. In certain disrespectful circles, this capability is referred to as “tag-teaming the mother.”

Clock speed refers to the speed of the timekeeper within the processor. Clock speed will only give you a sense of speed within processors of the same general group. The reason for this is that newly developed processor types have more sophisticated circuits, meaning additional performance can occur even if clock speed is identical. Note that if clock speed surpasses light speed, time starts to move in reverse.

The quantity of processor cores impacts the performance of the server as well. Typical servers contain chips that are dual-core, quad-core, or salt & vinegar. Any individual core functions individually as a processor. Beware: once you pop a processor core, you can’t stop. It’s both horrifying and delicious.

Memory

You don’t want your server to forget stuff, so memory is of the utmost importance. The memory, like the CPU, must be compatible with the motherboard. The motherboard determines how much memory can fit within the server. It really does think it’s in charge. When it’s not looking, climb out the window and run away to Poughkeepsie (unless you have already moved into a studio apartment in Prince Edward Island).

Hard drives

Often a client computer uses an IDE drive. A server, on the other hand, frequently contains an SCSI drive. To optimize a server, it’s good to pair the drive with a controller card. An example of a controller card is the ace of spades (Gates’ “jam it in” method also comes in handy here).

SATA drives are also used both in servers and clients. These drives are a newer development and are frightening to the other drives. They listen to loud rock ‘n roll music, and strange smells emerge from their bedrooms.

Network connection

Often a server will have a network adapter as a part of the motherboard. If not, a network adapter card is used. Networking, as we know, allows us to catch fish without having to use polls or spears.

Video

Generally speaking, you do not need a high-end video card for your server. The monitor and video card will not change the power of the network, whereas getting your friends and family to buy your Amway products will empower your network so that you can live your dreams.

Power supply

As you can imagine, you need a good power supply, especially if the server contains a good quantity of hard drives. Many servers come with windmills and bicycle pedals so that college interns can ride the server and blow on the windmill simultaneously.

Conclusion & Postlude

(Please lock all four of the deadbolts and turn up “The End” by The Doors to full volume while reading these final comments.) That should give you a basic sense of the parts of a server. In the second and final installment of this series, we will get into more depth on the subject, making sure not to get in over our heads and have to summon the lifeguard.

Oh, hey… Don’t leave yet, I have something in the other room to show you: dedicated servers and colocation.

By Kent Roberts

Design – 6 Recommendations (Improve Your Website, Part 1) … Plus Some Jokes

 

website ideas

Looking to improve your site? Is it boring, or possibly not as great as you want for user interaction? Are you not getting the number of visitors you want? Let’s figure out how to do that in this three-part series on design, functionality, and traffic.

To conduct this effort to improve your site, we will draw on the thoughts of a couple design experts. First we will look at simplicity. Here are three points we will cover to enhance the ease of your site, courtesy of Jane Friedman:

  • readability & conciseness
  • going easy on the eyes
  • limiting the possibilities.

Next we will consider how to make your site impressive. The advice for that section draws on three tips from Search Engine People. Not only will impressiveness help with conversions, but it will increase the amount of time people spend on your site and enhance your repeat visitor numbers. In that section, we will review the following five subjects:

  • layout
  • color scheme
  • calls to action.

Finally, we will examine fun facts about website conversions that you may not know. These facts will help you understand how to improve your site and have better things to talk about at cocktail parties and trade shows. The first one is directly below.

Fun Fact About Website Conversions #1: Did you know that every time a website makes a conversion, an angel gets one wing? Just one, which is a little awkward and embarrassing. That’s why it’s crucially important you get conversions in pairs. Otherwise, angel decision-makers and other angelic notables will grow increasingly resentful of you as they walk around lopsided.

Simplicity & Web Design

It may sound obvious, but preventing confusion should be your top consideration when you look at your site. Confusion is on a spectrum. Most sites leave us unable to find what we want from time to time, but best to minimize those moments. In fact, Jane Friedman suggests treating your site as a billboard. Here are her three recommendations for making your website as easy to use as possible:

  1. Readability & conciseness – When you are looking for something you need on the web, you probably don’t spend a huge amount of time poring through all the details when you first visit a site. If you are like most people, you scan your eyes and skim for the content you need. Keep it short.
  2. Easy on the eyes – White space (or “fuchsia space,” depending on your background color) is not the worst thing in the world. The home page especially must look clean and livable, like there’s room for visitors. Don’t stuff the homepage with everything you are positive everyone must see. Go easy on people when they walk in the door. Excessive content creates what Friedman calls “surf shock.”
  3. Limiting the possibilities – Beyond how the site looks, even if you space everything out visually, you can also err in asking visitors to do too many things at one time. Think of every link and button as a secondary call to action. Are there certain points of focus for your visitors? Deliver only those options. They will appreciate it.

Fun Fact About Website Conversions #2: Did you know that when you get a conversion on a website, it entitles you to one free carousel ride at the Bill Gates’ rainy and bleak Internetastic Dude Ranch in Republic, Washington? While there, you can also visit a real dude ranch, where the sun shines all the time and leprechauns tend to the horses. Gates’ is just a carousel in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by thunderclouds.

Impressive Web Design

OK, now let’s take a quick look at how to dress your site to impress. Here are three pointers from the folks at Search Engine People, who recommend primary focus on user experience (note that we also offer SEO, with a heavy focus on content marketing).

  1. Layout – Layout should pair with content, and your message should dictate the layout. The visitors’ eyes should easily and quickly move from one point of your overall message to the next: greeting statement & who you are; to supporting content (videos, testimonials, whatever); to your call to action.
  2. Color scheme – Make sure your site isn’t colored in too extreme a way, even if that’s true of your logo. The site shouldn’t look “harsh.” You want your background to be lightly colored. All calls to action should be the same color.
  3. Calls to action – Ask visitors to act above the fold (i.e., the page as it looks before you scroll down). Calls to action should be obvious: sizable and located in prime real estate on the page.

Fun Fact About Website Conversions #3: Did you know that website conversion was first invented in 1836 by Francis Pettit Smith, who drew up the plans and then immediately collapsed with the dropsy, perishing moments later. “He was ahead of his time,” says Guy Kawasaki of his hero before submitting to an extended panic attack.

Conclusion

So, that does it for design. To review, use simplicity (with readability & conciseness, going easy on the eyes, and limiting the possibilities) and impressiveness (with layout, color scheme, and calls to action). The future two pieces will be on functionality and traffic. Now go get that carousel ride. Watch out for lightning.

by Kent Roberts

The Difference Between Windows and Linux Servers

Español: implantació de sistemes operatius

Which operating system is best for your server, i.e. for your hosting package – Windows or Linux? I will analyze various parameters of both systems – including account accessibility, software compatibility, cost, uptime, security, support, and the choice of open source vs. proprietary technology.

Often the debate over operating systems becomes passionate and emotional, and it is difficult to find even-handed material. I want to view the two options as objectively as possible. With that in mind, I will reference articles that exhibit fair discussion on the topic – by Kristen Waters from Salon, John Hodge from Sysprobs, and Jack Wallen from Tech Republic.

The two sides are basically this: those who say Windows is awful vs. Bill Gates. The latter has been on the cutting edge of technology for years, so maybe he’s right. I’m considering buying all the other products he’s selling too, just based off his incredible excitement about how fun they are to use. I’m being ridiculous of course: the two operating systems each have their advantages and disadvantages – but other than the open source versus proprietary aspect, they are strikingly similar.

General Overview

As Kristen points out in her Salon article, the difference between the two systems has become less marked in recent years. Windows had some distinct advantages which it no longer has. Most noticeably, Linux now offers visually appealing, user-friendly control panels which were only available through Windows in the past.

Windows does still has the advantage of being highly recognizable by users who have that OS installed on their PCs. That familiarity factor, though it may seem like a subtle suggestion to try something new, is a distinct advantage because learning any new system takes time and labor, both of which have a price tag. My cost to fly to your business and conduct a training session to convert between the two systems, for instance, would cost $680,000 – why not? (The good news: I’m a nonprofit. You can write it off.)

Open Sores vs. Open Source

Since this article is unbiased, referring to the Windows proprietary option as “open sores” is off-base, but I will keep it for its impact as a super pun. Puns, after all, are fully compatible with both operating systems.

As John Hodge suggests in Sysprobs, the two operating systems are primarily pitted against one another in terms of access to the code. Linux is open-source, and Windows is proprietary. System administrators tend to side with open-source because, like auto mechanics and residential burglars, they like to be able to get inside and take a look around. Windows does not offer this freedom because its code is privately held information.

Anyone looking at hosting plans should be aware of a fundamental truth: if you use Windows on your PC, you do not need to have a Windows server. The choice is completely separate from the operating system in use on your desktop. You can have a Mac, whatever. In fact, online business people who regularly access the Internet through their TI-84 graphing calculators (especially popular in the states of Idaho and Wyoming) are split 50/50 between the two systems.

According to John, the primary advantage of immediate access to code is that you can get in and make any fixes to the operating system as you go. He also mentions a reasonable flip-side to open source, however: anyone with malcontent can make alterations to the operating system and the software created for it, which can pose security threats.

Jack Wallen in his Tech Republic article references Linux’s licensing – the GNU public license – as the basis permitting full accessibility for anyone to change the code of Linux as desired, even at the level of the kernel on which the operating system is founded. While acknowledging the perspective of the potential for malcontents to damage the system, Jack points out that the open source model allows individuals with good intent to improve and enhance the system, preventing those working against the system to succeed in implementing negative components into the code.

Accessibility

Kristen discusses how the ability to access the two types of hosting OS’s is different, but very similar, for both Windows and Linux. Access can be achieved either through a control panel, which can be in the form of an FTP client or graphical user interface (GUI). The latter provides the ability to manipulate a hosting environment via a visually organized display as opposed to entering prompts via a command line. A typical command line prompt is, “Computer, build me a website” or “Computer, build me a website NOW” (the second version enables express processing   but can also make the computer disgruntled and more likely to lash out).

Linux and Windows control panels are very similar in appearance and functionality (as described above, Linux is no longer behind Windows in this capacity). Communicating through FTP can be achieved either through a GUI or through a command line – two different types of applications. The command language differs between the two operating systems – but again, the functionality is similar. Be aware that some GUI-based FTP clients are not compatible with both types of servers.

Expense & Licenses

The difference in expense incurred by choosing one operating system over the other is discussed in John’s article. Windows is, generally speaking, significantly more expensive than Linux, but check with your hosting service to determine the specifics. Linux is widely used in part because it is so cost-effective to use as the basis for a network. In fact, the operating system itself is free – so only the hosting administration requirements will cost you anything. Membership in the Linux President’s Circle is also an additional $100,000 a year, but I know a guy who can get you in for 18 easy payments of $59.95.

Regarding cost, as Jack establishes, you will only necessarily see an improvement by using Linux if you are constructing the components of the server yourself. When looking at hosting environments, there are many different factors affecting price. You may find the two options are more equitably priced than you would expect, depending what hosting service you use.

Regarding licenses, Linux has an advantage. First of all, you can make changes to Linux and then even sell that new version if you want, as long as you make the changes you’ve made to the code freely accessible. You can install Linux on as many devices as you want. Microsoft cannot be adjusted and resold, and it cannot be installed unconditionally. A license is specific to a certain number of servers.

Compatibility

Kristen mentions that compatibility on either type of server allows full access to a broad range of software. Open source applications will generally have full compatibility with either system. Microsoft’s software, such as FrontPage, .NET, MSSQL, or anything else the company has developed specifically for its own servers will not work on Linux. Those companies that already have Microsoft built into their network will have a complicated decision to make if they are considering switching over to Linux. As always with any major choice in business, spend a full day making a decision-making chart, and then right before you end your work day, flip a coin.

Support

As Jack establishes, support seems to be a major difference between the two operating systems – at least at first glance. Support for the two types of servers is relatively similar. Typically with Linux, companies use the open source community via forums and websites specifically focused on Linux support. Additionally, there are several large organizations that offer paid support packages for Linux. Servicing a wide swathe of customers, these organizations have become experts at the service.

Windows likewise offers paid support packages. Additionally, anyone with a Windows server can look to forums and other online sources for advice from others in the Microsoft community. In a basic way, then, support for both systems can be implemented similarly – for free or at a price. However, Linux, because of the intrinsically active and engaged nature of open source users, typically has a broader array of online conversations to solve server issues.

A brief note, as well, on support for hardware: Microsoft has always had an advantage as far as this goes. You will have a difficult time finding hardware that is incompatible with Windows. However, this, like most of the other problems in the past with Linux, has almost entirely been overcome. Linux does still have compatibility blind spots though. As an example, Jack notes that many laptops are not fully equipped for hibernate/suspend functionality.

Removable Media

Jack mentions removable media as a challenge for anyone adjusting to using Linux. Removable media can now be used the same way in a Linux or Windows environment, but in most situations, drives for removable media are not built into Linux hardware. This feature is considered a protection against overwriting of media between one user and another. However, people who are used to Windows systems may experience frustration with this Linux standard. If a new Linux user becomes frustrated with the servers, a common and productive way to release that emotion is to get out a set of really tiny tools, take apart the server into all its component pieces, meditate for a few minutes, and then put it back together.

Conclusion

As you can see, Linux and Windows have become very similar. The main reasons for the additional cost for Windows servers is because companies and individuals are used to them, and transitions can be expensive. Transitions can become especially expensive, and difficult, when considering how much Windows software is currently built into your infrastructure. Linux, on the other hand, will typically cost less and offers greater flexibility to adapt the code for fixes and to suit your particular purposes.

Free Flapjacks Contest

Please comment below for a chance to win a free plate of flapjacks from IHOP (a value of over $4 USD).

by Kent Roberts and Richard Norwood