Windows 7 or Ubuntu 9.10 – battle of the operating systems

Windows 7 or Ubuntu 9.10 – battle of the operating systems

Whether you're a die-hard Windows fan or a Linux evangelist, here is the lowdown on the latest updates

Cherry picking ? the Ubuntu 9.10 operating system offers cloud storage and a new application to add software
Operating systems have become like buses: you wait ages for an OS update, and then three turn up at once. Apple let Snow Leopard out of its cage in August, and then, last Thursday, Microsoft released Windows 7, a major update of Vista. At the same time, Canonical chose to release "Karmic Koala" – which is otherwise known as the open-source operating system Ubuntu 9.10.
In the five years since its launch, Ubuntu has become one of the most popular Linuxes; though popular for servers or embedded systems, it remains a minority as a desktop operating system. Some put the figures as low as 1%, though the enthusiasts put the figure closer to 12%.
Taking the vital aspects of an operating system into account, which is better, Ubuntu 9.10 or Windows 7?


In terms of speed, if you've got an older computer that is starting to feel sluggish but you either don't want to or can't afford to buy a new computer, give Ubuntu a go. You'll get an up-to-date operating system running quite smoothly on your out-of-date computer.
Verdict: Windows 7 is much better than Vista on older hardware, while Ubuntu always has been strong on a wide range of hardware.

Drivers and hardware

Ubuntu is generally good at recognising hardware. Windows needed a driver downloaded for my vintage 3Com Wi-Fi PC Card, but it worked right away with Ubuntu – and even improved from 9.04 to 9.10. Ubuntu added extensions to take advantage of special keys for my laptop, and when I plugged in a spare Mac keyboard, it handled special Mac-centric keys too such as the CD eject button.
If Ubuntu doesn't automatically install a driver, it can be quite a bit of effort getting something to work, and not all hardware and peripherals will work with Linux. Sometimes you'll have to go to the command line, which is terrifying territory for most users. It's worth checking to see if Linux drivers exist for your printer and other key peripherals.
Windows has always had issues with drivers. I still am baffled why Windows forgets hardware that I have installed previously. Windows 7 doesn't seem to have completely solved these issues.
Verdict: Both Microsoft and Ubuntu could improve how they handle drivers.


Looking at the default applications that come with both Windows 7 and Karmic Koala, Ubuntu installs the Rhythmbox player for music and the Movie Player for video. Both are capable, and anyone familiar with Apple's iTunes will find the application easy to navigate.
Because of licensing restrictions and Ubuntu's own philosophy, it does not ship with the ability to play commercial DVDs. It's relatively easy to add commercial DVD support by adding Ubuntu Restricted Extras in the Software Centre.
Most versions of Windows 7 come with Windows Media Player and Media Centre. The Media Centre is impressive and polished. It organises your pictures, video and music files, and it gives you the kind of 10-foot interface that works well from your couch in the lounge.
Verdict: Microsoft wins this one with its Media Centre, though Linux enthusiasts will be quick to point out the digital-rights management issues of Windows.

Software and applications

In terms of software, Ubuntu is like the iPhone. Almost anything you'd care to do, there's an app for that. However, you'll have to learn to translate from the applications that you're used to on the Mac or Windows. For people looking to make the switch to Linux, is a good directory of open-source alternatives to common commercial software.
Ubuntu comes with OpenOffice and Gimp photo editing software installed.
Windows 7 users will need to buy Microsoft Office, or you can also download OpenOffice and Gimp. Windows users will be used to Outlook to handle their email. Ubuntu ships with Evolution, which handles email and also has calendar software.
Ubuntu 9.10 comes with Firefox 3.5 as standard, and it now ships with the Empathy multiple protocol instant messaging client. Empathy works with most instant messaging systems including AIM, Gtalk/Jabber, MSN and IRC, just to name a few.
Windows 7 has Windows Live messenger and ships with Microsoft's internet Explorer 8, which is a vast improvement over previous versions. You'll have to download Windows Live messenger as part of the Windows Live apps. To install other applications, Ubuntu 9.10 changed the Add/Remove Software application with a refreshed tool called Ubuntu Software Centre. You can search the directory full of hundreds of applications.
Verdict: Ubuntu wins this hands-down with a huge range of free software packages ready to download.

Cloud computing

Ubuntu 9.10 brings cloud storage to the masses with its Ubuntu One service. It's simple and well integrated. Whenever you save a file, you have the option to save it directly to Ubuntu One. Up to 2GB of storage is free, and you can pay for higher amounts of storage.
You can also share files with other people, and your files are easily available on other computers, even ones not running Ubuntu. The service is in beta, though, so I'd expect a few glitches.
Microsoft has a remote storage and remote desktop service in beta called Live Mesh and SkyDrive, which offers 25GB of storage for free. It's not yet integrated into the operating system and Microsoft is under scrutiny about what it integrates into the OS because of its market dominance.
Verdict: Ubuntu wins this as well. Live Mesh isn't as well integrated yet as Ubuntu One is immediately from startup.

Ease of use

This is subjective. I've spent the past two years using Ubuntu, and find it relatively easy. However, just like any new operating system, there is a learning curve, and Linux advocates often gloss over this. Ubuntu has made great strides, but average users will still struggle with it at times.
Adding new software sources so that you can easily install applications such as Skype or Google Earth will be beyond most average users. User interface design still lags behind software on Mac OS X and Windows 7.
Windows 7 will be an adjustment for XP users. Vista users won't notice a change apart from a faster, smoother experience and fewer annoying pop-ups second-guessing your choices.
Verdict: Windows still is easier to use than Linux for some key tasks. Ubuntu is making a lot of progress, but Microsoft has stepped up its game as well.

Final Verdict

Windows 7 is a worthy successor to Windows XP. Vista had well-known flaws, which meant it never replaced XP for most users. For those with a lot of investment in Windows software, there probably will be no reason to look elsewhere.
For those not that tied into the world of Windows, Ubuntu is certainly worth a look. Consumers have never had more choices for capable, powerful and easy to use operating systems, and Ubuntu is only one Linux distribution.
I had tried Linux frequently as soon as I got broadband almost 10 years ago, but I always gave up after a few days until the arrival of Ubuntu. It is a relatively easy-to-use, modern operating system, and one that will only cost you the time to download it.

Ribbit Launches Google Voice Challenger

ribbit_mobile_logo_nov09.pngRibbit just announced the launch of Ribbit Mobile. Ribbit Mobile is a cloud-based VoIP telephony service that brings together web-based calling, smart call routing and voicemail transcriptions.
It is hard to look at Ribbit Mobile without comparing it to Google Voice. Just like Google Voice, Ribbit gives users a new phone number or they can use call forwarding to transfer calls from their mobile phones to Ribbit's platform. Ribbit Mobile also has quite a few features that Google doesn't offer, including the ability to make calls from within the browser.

More Features than Google Voice

As Ribbit Mobile is part of Ribbit's open VoIP platform, the service can even forward calls to your Skype, MSN or Google Talk account if you don't pick up your mobile phone. Whenever you miss a call or when a new voicemail arrives, Ribbit can also ping you by email, Skype, Google Talk or SMS. Through its partners, Ribbit offers widgets for popular start pages like iGoogle and social networks like Facebook and MySpace. Through these - as well as on the service's homepage - users can receive and place calls from their browsers. This is a feature that Google Voice doesn't offer yet.
GrandCentral, which Google bought and then transformed into Google Voice, offered some of the features that Ribbit Mobile now offers. Google dropped quite a few useful features like call chains from Google Voice's feature line-up, however.
Besides call chains, another nice feature of Ribbit Mobile is that you can choose which number will appear on your contacts' phones when you call, even if you are calling from your computer. Once you are on a call, you can also easily transfer calls from any device to another. Because of this, you can start a call in the web interface or iGoogle and then continue the call on your cell phone.
Just like Google Voice, Ribbit gives users the option to set up a new phone number for their Ribbit accounts. Users can search for a specific number and letter combination in these numbers. For now, Ribbit only offers numbers in select cities such as California and New York.
A service like Ribbit Mobile wouldn't be very useful as you couldn't easily import your contacts. Thankfully, users can import contacts from Plaxo and as an Outlook CSV file (Google Contacts can export an Outlook CSV file).

13 Tools for Building Your Own iPhone App

13 Tools for Building Your Own iPhone App


These days, everyone wants to build their own iPhone applications, but not everyone knows how write the code necessary in order to create them. Fortunately, there are now a number of tools that allow non-developers the ability to create their own iPhone apps without knowing programming or scripting. Some are general-purpose app builders designed for small businesses while other target specific needs, like apps for musicians or for eBook authors. Still others let developers familiar with simpler programming languages like HTML write apps using the code they know and then will transform that code into an iPhone application which can be submitted to the iTunes Store.
Below we've listed 13 different tools that let you create your own iPhone applications, none of which require knowledge of Objective C, the programming language used to build apps for the iPhone OS .

1. Sweb Apps

What it Does: Sweb Apps offers an online service which lets anyone build their own iPhone apps even if they don't know how to code. Designed with small business owners in mind, the company offers pre-created templates which you can customize with different background images and your own custom icons if desired. Otherwise, you're welcome to use the graphics provided by the company's own image library. After picking the category for your app (Restaurant, Retail, Business, etc.), you choose the buttons you want to include (Menu, Directions, Map, etc.). You can even create a mobile storefront where Sweb Apps manages your inventory. 

How Much it Costs: The company offers four-, six- and eight-button packages, which all include a one-time set-up fee of $50 per button. Then there is a $25 monthly hosting fee applied to every application going forward

2. AppIncubator

What it Does: Think you have a great idea for an iPhone app but not the skills to build it yourself. Like Apple says: "there's an app for that!" The AppIncubator iPhone App from MEDL Mobile lets you submit your ideas which the company's development team will then build into apps for you. App submissions can be sent in via the iPhone app or by way of the company website. Once received, you go online to use the company's "storyboard" tool to sketch out in more detail how you imagine the app working.
How Much it Costs: Using the service or downloading the iPhone app itself is free, but MEDL Mobile takes a cut of the profits after the app goes live in the iTunes App Store. 25% of the total revenue is shared with you and the company keeps the rest.

3. Kanchoo

Kanchoo is another platform that allows content producers to create native iPhone applications, this one is designed for news organizations. To use the service, you provide the company with an iPhone application icon, a splash screen (in .png format) and a description of your application which will be used in the iTunes App Store. Then, using their online tools, you build your app by uploading the content which can consist of either photos or news articles.

How Much it Costs: Basic account holders pay $88 for creation of their iPhone application and submission to the iTunes App Store along with a $28 per month fee for bandwidth and hosting.

Microsoft sets SQL Server 2008 R2 preview

Microsoft sets SQL Server 2008 R2 preview

Microsoft working to turn SQL Server 2008 database into information platform.

Microsoft Tuesday said it will make a preview of SQL Server 2008 R2 available this month that is features complete, including new business intelligence integration tools and master data management features.

In addition, Microsoft said it will deliver two highly scalable editions of SQL Server 2008 R2 (formerly code-named Kilimanjaro) in the first half of 2010 when it ships the next version of the database server.
The announcements came at the annual Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) Summit. The PASS group is an independent, not-for-profit association.
Microsoft is pushing SQL Server 2008 R2 as the opening salvo in its strategy to turn the database into an "information platform." The company says the platform will integrate structured and unstructured data from a variety of sources, including SharePoint Server.
"The R2 release is a down payment on the information platform," said Fausto Ibarra, director of product management, SQL Server.
The review will include SQL Server PowerPivot for Excel 2010 (formerly Gemini), an in-memory analytics tools that will link Excel, SharePoint Server and SQL Server.
Power Pivot is the heart of what Microsoft calls managed self-service business intelligence, which lets users build BI programs for the desktop in Excel that combine data from diverse sources, process it using in-memory analytics tools and publish the results to SharePoint Server so users can collaborate around the results. In addition, IT can manage and control the BI programs users create by ensuring the proper infrastructure is available along with services such as data refresh.
"They are using and reading the meta-data from at least one other enterprise class information provider, which is SharePoint, and that is a big deal," says Mark Beyer, an analyst with Gartner. "Trying to put together text and content with the more structured stuff has been one of the challenges to getting real information management in an organization; to getting real data integration at the meta-data level."
What Microsoft is doing is significant in the aggregate because it elegantly combines data from two different sources, Beyer says.
"One of the constants I've had in my research is the pending earthquake of actually leveraging meta-data without having to import and export it from one place to another. That is where Microsoft is headed with its information management; reading through a service the meta-data in different enterprise applications that they have."
Beyer says the concept is one of data integration rather than interoperability. He says if Microsoft can create such an environment then the vendor will be one of the first to deliver such capabilities.
Also in the CTP are two new components, a master data management (MDM) platform that enables companies to integrate information from across multiple data sources in the network and create a single view of data such as customers, products or suppliers. Previously MDM was only available as a third-party add-on. The second component is StreamInsight, a complex event processing platform that lets companies or independent software vendors build applications that can process large numbers of events in real-time. 

Also part of the review is Application and Multi-Server Management, which enables central IT control of database infrastructure that includes applying policy, managing performance, moving workloads and pinpointing problems. In addition, there is support for Windows Server 2008 R2 and Hyper-V. 

The two highly scalable versions being offered alongside SQL Server 2008 R2 are Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Datacenter and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse (formerly code-named Madison).
Parallel Data Warehouse is a massively parallel processing technology for high-end data warehousing and is designed to scale to petabytes and support high-speed queries.
Microsoft is riding Parallel Data Warehouse into a highly competitive data warehousing battle that includes Teradata, Netezza, Oracle, HP, Sybase, Greenplum, IBM and others.
The Parallel Data Warehouse version will be offered as an appliance on hardware from Bull, Dell, HP and IBM.
The Datacenter version aligns with the Datacenter version of Windows Server 2008 R2 and is designed to support large-scale applications. The platform provides support for up to 256 logical processors and unlimited virtualization.
Microsoft also is introducing version 2.0 of its SQL Server Fast Track Data Warehouse that includes 12 new reference architectures that feature updated configurations from Bull, Dell and HP based on Intel and AMD processors. The architectures support up to 48 cores per server and up to 48 terabytes of data capacity.
IBM, which signed onto the program in February, will offer three reference configurations based on IBM's X series and Intel processors. Also, EMC will introduce Data Warehouse and BI services for Fast Track.