Chrome OS – The most popular Linux distro in the USA?

 

Among fans of the Linux operating system, a common topic of discussion is “the year of the Linux desktop.” Fans keep waiting for their operating system to make a big push in popularity and become a main contender for home computing and each year the user base grows but only by small amounts. I think the fuse has finally been lit but not by traditional Linux companies like Ubuntu, SuSE and Redhat, but by Google via Chrome OS.

 

Chrome OS is Linux

At its core, Chrome OS is Linux. It runs the same kernel as every other Linux Distribution.  The difference is the UI. Most other distros use KDE, Gnome, or a lightweight variant but Google decided to go a different direction and developed a UI of their own, one that they could control and evolve. When Google started with this, they designed it as a very basic interface, acting only as a browser. Since conception, it has grown into something that is now starting to be able to compete with the likes of Windows and Mac.

Application support

Android apps are just the beginning. By introducing them into Chrome OS, it starts the transition process from web OS to desktop OS.  By adding the Play Store, chrome OS gets access to millions of apps and gives it a base to grow from.  Google will need to incentivise top app developers to make more robust apps designed specifically for the more powerful OS.  To bridge the gap between until more robust applications are released, Google may find it works in their best interest to work with a company called Codeweavers who currently makes Crossover Office for Linux and Mac, allowing both to install Windows based programs natively.

Gaming

Basic gaming will start with Android’s vast array of games, ranging from very basic apps to popular console games of days past.  The next step will be to encourage modern games to make the jump.  This might be easier to do than one might think.  Even though Traditional Linux distros have 1.45% of the market, many game developers release their newest games simultaneously for Windows and Linux.  This is mainly due to the support of Steam, providing an easy way to install games across multiple OSes.  Chrome OS has over double the user base of other Linux distros, but at this point doesn’t have any console style games. It might be harder to do this for Chrome OS due to the hefty requirements of many games because the majority of Chromebooks use Celeron processors and would not be able to run most, if not all, modern games.  However, this trend is changing. More high end Chromebooks have been popping up with higher end processors. Machines like the  Samsung Chromebook Pro and the Asus Chromebook C302CA both use Intel’s M3 processor.

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Wrapping up

Chrome OS could be the desktop to bring to pass “the year of the Linux desktop” and directly take on Microsoft for dominance of computing, but many changes will have to be made to make this possible. Development of robust applications and console grade games will be the next essential step in the further adoption of Chrome OS.

 

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Making Microsoft great again

It seems as though Microsoft is waking up

Over the past decade, Microsoft has seemed to be asleep at the wheel.  They are constantly late to the game on just about every technology advancement.  The features that they had which separated them, seem to have fallen on the back burner or have been killed off completely, (windows media center, cough cough).  They have been able to generate excitement around certain hit products like the Xbox, but that customer hype doesn’t seem to be present by users of the Windows operating system. Confronted with major competition, Microsoft is facing the reality that they need to either get with the game or watch their empire become slowly eroded by others who seem to be innovating faster.

Bogged down and bloated

In my opinion, Microsoft OS’s biggest downfalls are a poorly maintained OS and the inability to take control over applications that tend to take over most system resources. Windows XP was a light, well loved operating system. It ran even on the most minimal of hardware…but then came Vista, the big bloated mess that started people’s disenchantment with the windows operating system. Vista was an attempt at beautifying the Operating system, but instead of lean code that enabled the computer to shine they did just the opposite, resulting in a bloated OS that only ran decently on the most powerful PC of the time.  Since then, with each iteration of Windows they have fought to streamline the OS and have finally gotten back to a good place with windows 10.

The Competition

Once upon a time, a machine with Microsoft OS was the very best in computer processing. Now it seems as though a PC is just something to buy in order to get the job done. Where Windows lacks in customer enthusiasm, their competition has been happy to excite their disenfranchised users. Apple came out swinging with commercials painting Windows as a lame business machine. This has translated to Apple taking most of the high-end Windows PC market.  This didn’t seem to affect Microsoft too much. Most of its sales consisted of sub-$1000 PCs so it didn’t effect their bottom line to a great degree.  Just as Microsoft settled in to their low to middle of the range market, a newcomer started making waves.  Out of the blue, Google’s new OS started to catch on and was rapidly taking the low end of the market.  Googles Chrome OS is now evolving and targeting Microsoft’s main users with the introduction of application support and a more robust and advanced operating system.

Expelled from the smart phone market

The smart phone market is another example of a competitive space in which Microsoft failed to see and follow the trends until it was too late. Once a leader in the smart phone world along side blackberry, Microsoft didn’t see the future coming.  When the first iPhone was released in 2007, Windows mobile market share was at an all time high achieving 42% of all smartphone sales. Fast forward to the present day where they account for less than 1% of the market. Time and time again Microsoft has found that their efforts were too little too late.

Manufacturers just don’t innovate

To be fair, Microsoft isn’t the only one to blame for the stagnation of Windows.  It seems to me that with very few exceptions, the manufacturers of PCs have dropped the ball by producing uninspired, half baked, cheap, plasticy, junk. Every year the same old machines are spit out and quality doesn’t often seem to be a focus. Finally in 2012, Microsoft showed the world what a modern PC should be with the introduction of the Surface.  Unfortunately, at that point they had a bigger problem on their hands in the form of Windows 8.  They showed that quality hardware mattered but the next step was to fix the problems with the operating system.

Firing on all cylinders

The surface line has become a force to be reckoned with. This, in combination with windows 10, is helping Microsoft to take back some of their high end market share. The surface line shows the full potential of a Windows computer, combining high quality hardware with a clean a simple aesthetic. These PCs are just the beginning of Microsoft making strides to return to the spotlight and get people excited about their Operating System again.

Announced in the fall of last year along with the introduction of their new ultra high end Surface Studio all in one PC (which is aimed squarely at Apple’s user base), was the announcement of the new update coming to Windows 10, called the creators update.  This update is massive and adds much needed and useful features which have been long since neglected in Windows.  A full feature list is available on Microsoft’s web site, but the two main features that are greatly anticipated are the upgrade to Microsoft Paint and an overhaul of gaming in Windows.

Currently, Paint is severely lacking in features, being used mostly for cropping and the most basic editing. With the update, we are told it will be a full featured 3D art studio, giving the user the basic tools needed to create in 2D and 3D.  The second exciting part of this update is the overhaul of gaming in windows. This will brings PC gaming back to the forefront by combining PC gaming with their immensely popular Xbox.  Using the Xbox live back end, you will be able to converse with fellow gamers and seamlessly share content.  In addition to this, Microsoft will also be improving the gaming experience by allowing the computer to more fully use the resources available for each game and by minimizing other programs so that they don’t impede performance.

Conclusion

No longer is Microsoft the sleeping giant. They have woken up and are ready to do battle,hoping to breathe excitement into the souls of all of their users. Excitement is key for the turn around to succeed. In order for this to work for Microsoft, they need people yelling with enthusiasm when they see new cool innovation being released. They need people queuing up to purchase the next greatest thing.  If they can turn this corner and battle the invaders, they just might keep their crown as the dominant Operating System. Who knows…if this works, they might have the clout to reenter the arena of the mobile phone market.

 

Android is close to passing Windows for internet dominance

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In February of this year, Android came close to Windows for internet traffic. Over the past few years, Android has slowly eroded Windows market share showing that more and more people are using their mobile devices to access the Internet.  It will be interesting to see if this trend continues as it has for last few years or whether Android will find a point in which market saturation causes its numbers to flatten off.

If you take only desktop devices into account, windows is by far the dominant operating system.

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This hasn’t changed much over the past few years. It will be interesting to see how the evolving Chrome operating system will change these statistics for the next few years.

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source – statcounter.com 

Whats coming to Netflix in March

Here is what is coming to Netflix in March

March 1

Angry Birds Season 2

Blazing Saddles

Chicago

Deep Run

Dirt Every Day Season 1

Epic Drives Season 2

Friday After Next

Head 2 Head Season 2

Hot Rod Unlimited Season 1

Ignition Season 1

Impossible Dreamers

Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park III

Kate and Mim-Mim Season 2

Know Your Enemy – Japan

Kung Fu Panda

Let There Be Light

Memento

Midnight in Paris

Nacho Libre

Nazi Concentration Camps

Roadkill Season 2

Rolling Stones: Crossfire Hurricane

Singing with Angels

Sustainable

Slumbs of Beverly Hills

The Craft

This Is Spinal Tap

Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny

The Lost World: Jurassic Park

The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress*

The Negro Soldier

Thunderbolt

Tunisian Victory

March 3

Greenleaf Season 1

March 4

Safe Haven

March 7

Amy Schumer: The Leather Special

March 8

Hands of Stone

The Waterboy

March 9

Thithi

March 10

Buddy Thunderstruck Season 1

Burning Sands

Love Season 2

One More Time Season 1

The Boss’ Daughter

March 13

Must Love Dogs

Million Dollar Baby

March 15

Disney’s The BFG

Notes on Blindness

March 16

Beau Sejour Season 1

Coraline

March 17

Diedra & Laney Rob a Train

Julie’s Greenroom Season 1

Marvel’s Iron Fist Season 1

Naledi: A Baby Elephant’s Tale

Pandora

Samurai Gourmet Season 1

March 18

Come and Find Me

The Vampire Diaries Season 8

March 21

Ali & Nino

Another Forever

Evolution

Fire at Sea (Fuocommare)

March 23

How to Get Away with Murder Season 3

Welcome to New York*

March 24

Déjà Vu

Felipe Neto: My Life Makes No Sense

Grace and Frankie Season 3

Spider

The Square

The Most Hated Woman in America

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

March 25

The Student Body

USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage

March 26

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

March 27

Better Call Saul Season 2

March 28

Archer Season 7

Jo Koy: Live from Seattle

March 30

Life in Pieces Season 1

March 31

13 Reasons Why Season 1

Bordertown Season 1

Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life Season 1

Dinotrux Season 4

FirstBorn

Five Came Back

GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling

Rosewood Season 1

The Carmichael Show Seasons 1-2

The Discover

Trailer Park Boys Season 11

Should Chrome OS evolve?

A common disagreement among Chrome OS users is whether or not Chrome OS should evolve and become more feature rich like other operating systems such as Mac, Windows, and Linux.  I recently wrote a post about 5 things I want from future Chromebooks. In this article, I pointed out that Chrome OS needs to expand its feature set in order to expand its user base. For people like me who already use Chrome OS for most computing needs, I still find that I return to a PC for more advanced tasks such as photoshop, video editing and gaming.

Battle the bloat but increase the features!

With Chrome OS, one of the many features that people enjoy is the ability to have a fast, streamlined experience even when running on low powered and cheaper hardware. This is due in part to the Linux OS, which Google has used and modified as the base of Chrome OS. The other reason Chromebooks run so smoothly is due to its restrictive resource management. For the most part, when you are using a Chromebook, there is almost nothing running in the background. As I am writing this article, I’m only using about 1 GB of RAM and just about no load to the CPU besides the occasional blip from Chrome. The worry is that as more programs and features are introduced, Google will not be able to keep system resources under control. One of the main keys to keeping the resources to a minimum is by only allowing apps to update through the play store. Not having applications constantly running updates individually will decrease the load on the machine’s resources.

Historically, resource management has been a big problem for Mac and Windows.  They are currently, actively trying to improve on it by encouraging their developers to utilize their respective app stores. When applications need to run in the background, the resource demands on the machine should be more easily accessible to the user via a more advanced and intuitive task manager.  This would allow the user to more fully control and limit programs that are either unnecessarily running in the background or are just poorly written and hogging more than their fair share.

Higher end Machines

As higher end machines make their way into the Chrome OS world, users will demand more out of them.  The Chromebook pixel and the Samsung Chromebook Pro have started this new trend. It seems to be continuing as rumors spin over new form factors like the rumored tablet style Chromebook code named “Rowan” and new features coming down the pipe like fingerprint scanner support.  It seems that there is a new market emerging for higher-end Chromebooks.  With more powerful machines out now and coming soon, Google laptops will grow out of the niche that they are currently in.  The next people that might switch over and expand the user base are ones that will ask “Can that Chromebook do everything my PC or Mac can?” If the answer to this question is no, then they will continue to purchase what they are used to. In general, people would rather not have to buy multiple devices in order to accomplish 100% of their computing needs.

Why not just use Linux

Linux users might say that there is a simple solution right in front of me which is to use Linux as it can do everything I’m asking of Chrome OS. Technically, this is true. I can make Linux do just about anything I want, up to and including running most windows programs. In fact, before I got my first Chromebook, I did just that. Linux was my desktop of choice and I would bounce between two main distributions, Ubuntu and SuSE, both of which worked.  The problem wasn’t that I couldn’t make Linux do what I wanted it to do, it was that I had to MAKE Linux do what I wanted it to do. Nothing was easy and straight forward. Making sure you installed the right dependencies for each program you were trying to run, managing repositories, and making that one vital component of your machine work because it didn’t configure correctly…these are probably the main reasons mainstream Linux distros are not as popular as their Windows and Mac rivals.

Tech savvy users often have the ability to deal with these issues. In fact, in many cases they enjoy the puzzle of figuring out each problem and get satisfaction when a good result was achieved (yes that was me, and the constant switching/configuring of distros drove my wife crazy).  However, this is not the case for everyone. The average user just wants their machine to work, with little to no advanced effort.

Staying relevant

Every year since the CR-48 (the first Chromebook) was released, sales of Chromebooks have increased. In fact, in Q1 of last year, Chromebooks outsold Macs. This has caused Microsoft and Apple to take notice and adjust their strategies to fend off a rapidly growing competitor.  Microsoft has gone as far as announcing a slimmed down version of Windows that would run more efficiently on less expensive hardware.  If google sticks to the mentality that Chrome OS needs no more functionality, it’s my belief that they will stagnate, the appeal will wear off and the more established two will take back their market share.

Conclusion

Google’s Chrome OS is at a crossroads right now. In order to grow and stay relevant, they must become a computer operating system that can handle all of their users’ demands. That being said, this must be done with caution. If they alienate their current user base, those who love Chromebooks because they enjoy their simplicity and speed,  they will end up losing what made them unique and become just another bloated mess. I have faith that they can handle the transition.

Time to upgrade my machine

Today, AMD gave us the full details about Ryzen and it looks groundbreaking.

Summary of video

  1. AMD = High Performance Computing
  2. 10 percent smaller chip size
  3. Ryzen is completely new hardware, not just a change in design
  4. AMD beats its own goal of 40% boost in IPC – achiving 52%!ryzen-1
  5. Ryzen 7 = models 1700, 1700x and 1800x
  6. The 1700x beats the intel i76900k currently selling for $1049.ryzen-2
  7. Ryzen 7 1800x ($499) beats the i7 6900k($1049) by 9 percent on Cinebench.ryzen-3
  8. Worlds lowest powered 8 core processor and 46% better performance.ryzen-4
  9. 82+ AM4 motherboards will be available at launch.
  10. AMDs goal was to disrupt the industry.ryzen5ryzen6ryzen7
  11. AMD blows away the competition – available March 2nd.  Pre-orders start today.

Deal – 4 Months Free of Groove Music and 3 months of Google Play Music

Both Google and Microsoft are running deals on their music services.

 Google Music/YouTube Red is currently offering 3 months of free of both services.

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Google Play Music

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 Microsoft Groove Music is currently offering 4 months of free Premium service.
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Microsoft Groove Music

Watch out Intel, AMD just might knock you down with Ryzen

Intel may soon find themselves in a place they haven’t been in 15 years.  AMD has been hard at work developing their next generation of CPU/APUs.  They will be splitting their CPU line up into 3 classes: Ryzen 3, Ryzen 5, and Ryzen 7.  Seems like they are trying to copy Intel’s scheme of i3, i5, and i7. That’s where the similarities stop. If the leaked benchmarks are true, the Ryzen 5 chips will directly take on the mainstream Intel i7 for a much cheaper price.  Take a look at this leaked benchmark.wp-1487448488156.jpg

This benchmark shows the AMD Ryzen 5 1600x chip, which is rumored to be priced at $259, beating an Intel i7 $610 chip in CPU performance.  I hope this is true. It would turn the industry on its head and finally there would be better competition.

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I am hoping to see some benchmarks on graphical performance soon. If they can similarly increase the performance of the GPU in the chips, we may be able to see the low end graphics card market drop off in favor of integrated graphics.

Better Gaming in Windows 10 coming soon – Merging Xbox and PC

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Microsoft is currently preparing for a massive update.  This will be included in what Microsoft is calling the Creators Update.  This was announced last year and has been getting updates via the insider channel for developers and tech enthusiasts.

The gaming part of the update will allow game developers to take better advantage of the system resources of the computer by minimizing the other parts of the system when a game is running.  This is similar to how the Xbox uses it resources.  If you haven’t noticed, the Xbox has about the same performance as a PC using a 3 year old AMD APU.  The reason games run smoother on less powerful hardware is the ability for the system to allocate a greater percentage of processing power to the game.  Microsoft is looking to harness more fully the power of the processor and graphics cards.

Another feature that Microsoft is touting is called Beam. Microsoft would like to be the default way for users to stream their gameplay to their friends.  Beam connects to an Xbox Live account and uses that back end to connect users to their entire xbox friends list, with the ability to instantly share gameplay with them.

They are also looking to integrate other Xbox features in to windows.  The additions to windows will help to blur the lines between Xbox gaming and windows gaming, which up until this point have been completely separate from each other.

source – xbox blog