Media attention for the "One Laptop per Child" or OLPC project has been widespread and ongoing.The Children's Machine, also known as XO-1 and previously as the $100 Laptop, is a proposed inexpensive laptop computer intended to be distributed to children around the world, especially to those in developing countries, to provide them with access to knowledge and modern forms of education. Linux was the obvious choice for the 366 megahertz 128 mb OLPC laptop due to its open nature and ability to run on any virtually any hardware. Millions of these units have been ordered by Countries such as Nigeria and Libya and pretty soon there will be millions of children around the world with Linux as their first operating system.
In stark contrast Microsoft have just released Windows Vista, probably the most resource hungry Operating System ever, for the PC platform. If you want to take advantage of all the new features of Vista you will need to ensure that your PC meets the grade and is "Windows Vista Premium Ready". The problem is, for most people, that their machine will not be "Windows Vista Premium Ready" and getting it there could be very costly. For your machine to qualify you need to have at least the following:1 Gigahertz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor 1 Gigabyte of System memory (RAM)40 Gigabyte Hard drive with at least 15 Gigabytes free spaceDVD-ROM Drive
PlusDirectX 9-class graphics card with:
* Pixel Shader 2.0 in hardware
* Adequate graphics memory (128MB)
But don't put the credit card away yet because you still have to buy the operating system, which has been criticised all over the world as extremely prohibitively priced.For all the cash you need to shell out you would hope Vista was worth it. Unfortunately (for Microsoft fans anyway) it seems that it most definitely is not. Anyone who has ever used a modern version of Linux will find nothing new feature-wise and OSX users will feel suspiciously at home. It is garnering criticism from all parts for many different reasons, with whole websites dedicated to Vista-Bashing and Linux downloads on a steady worldwide climb. One could be forgiven for thinking that there are just a whole lot of Linux and Mac advocates out there trying to boycott Vista by slandering it mindlessly. But the facts don't lie and the evidence is plentiful.
Digital Rights Management or DRM for short is a scary technology that has been tightly integrated in to Vista's core media applications. DRM basically shifts control of the media on a users PC from the user to the provider. What this means is that Microsoft has jumped in to bed with the movie studios and can now control what media you are allowed to play on your PC. How Microsoft achieves this is by only allowing approved hardware to play premium content such as HD-DVD or Blu-Ray discs. If a piece of hardware, such as a graphics card is believed to have been compromised in some way, Microsoft has a revocation mechanism built in to Vista that allows them to actually disable the driver for that hardware over the Internet, rendering it useless. Anyone who doesn't want Microsoft constantly monitoring their movements is no longer tolerated with Windows Vista eliminating any illusions people may have had about privacy in previous versions.
Not only are they locking the user out of their systems, providers of security software such as McAfee are finding themselves out in the cold as well. Vista includes a 'Kernel Patch Protection' feature which locks down the OS kernel. Meaning that Anti virus software competing with Microsoft's own security solution will now not be able to access many crucial parts of the OS. Monopolist behaviour such as this is nothing new from the Microsoft camp. Internet Explorer and Outlook Express have been practically irremovable from Windows for years now. But any legal or financial reproach has, to this point, been minuscule in comparison to the amount of revenue generated from such behaviour.
Microsoft is touting Vista as its most secure OS to date, hardly an achievement in itself, however the cracks are already beginning to show.Many believe that, once again, Bill Gates has pulled the pie out of the oven before it was cooked as flaws already start to surface. The amount of auxiliary software required to keep Windows 'secure' is also at an all time high which helps to explain the ram differential between Windows and other systems. Although many Anti virus solutions now exist for Linux, they are superfluous for most people due to a lack of threats.
Back when Vista was still known as Longhorn it was actually shaping up to be quite quite revolutionary (relative to previous releases) with some very promising technologies such as:
Winfs - WinFS is a data storage and management system based on relational databases, developed by Microsoft and first demonstrated in 2003 as an advanced storage subsystem for the Microsoft Windows operating system. Basically a new file system to super-cede NTFS with some impressive smarts.
Windows Power Shell - Windows PowerShell, previously Microsoft Shell or MSH (codenamed Monad) is an extensible command line interface (CLI) shell and scripting language product developed by Microsoft. The product is based on object-oriented programming and the Microsoft .NET framework. Basically a new shell for Windows that actually comes close to being useful for administrative tasks.
SecurID - RSA SecurID is a mechanism developed by RSA Security for performing two-factor authentication to a user to a network resource. RSA SecurID uses a hardware token in conjunction with a password for access to secure resources such as firewalls and dial-in servers.
PC to PC Data synchronization - Data synchronization is the process of establishing consistency among data on remote sources. It is fundamental to a wide variety of applications, including file synchronization, Personal Digital Assistant synchronization., and Public Key Server synchronization.
None of these important features made their way in to the final Vista, which leaves it light on innovation and imagination but heavy on the eye candy and hardware requirements. This lack of true innovation, coupled with the extremely intrusive DRM mechanisms and prohibitive cost makes Vista an unattractive solution for any discerning user already on Linux, OSX or even XP.There was an album released by American indie band 'Modest Mouse' a couple of years ago called "Good News for People Who Love Bad News". This title could be used to sum up the attitude of many in the Linux community towards Vista at the moment. Every bad piece of press for Vista is good for Linux and at the moment there's plenty for Linux users to smile about.
Note - This article was written using a fast modern Linux distribution on hardware which is definitely not "Vista Premium Ready".