Trying to buy a PC without Windows part 6 – Lenovo

IBM is not one of Microsoft's biggest fans, particularly after it was well-and -truly shafted in the OS/2 fiasco. So it seems very surprising that its subsidiary Lenovo refuses absolutely to provide any refunds for unwanted Microsoft Licenses, thus completely ignoring the Microsoft EULA. 2009-11-26 12:57 Good afternoon Garfield Unfortunately we are unable to advise the cost of the Operating System License as this is a bundle price including our OEM costings from MS. Kind regards Lenovo Sales Team Read More ►
Penguin nil-points graphic

Trying to buy a PC without Windows part 5 – Acer, the most shameful response so far

On 2009-11-26, I wrote to Acer UK to establish what its policy was regarding the Microsoft Tax. This was its response:- Hello, Thank you for contacting Acer. Regarding your enquiry, The value would be £33.95 for vista home premium. This can only be refunded within 30 days of purchase and to get it refunded you would need to send the laptop into the acer repair centre to have the HDD formatted.  This would not be covered under warranty so would cost £51.99.RegardsJonathanAcer Technical Support Team This is one of the most shameful responses so far and justifies raising the matter… Read More ►

Struggling to make Ubuntu look good

Editor's note: This article is old and outdated. Blubuntu was eventually fixed in 2010. KDE4 also went on to be really rather good too. That was until they messed it up again with KDE5, but that is showing signs of being rather good now (2018-12-27) too. Seems that Canonical has woken up to the fact that the basic Ubuntu looks, well, rather turgid. Fortunately help is at hand in the form of a theme called Blubuntu. Now, Blubuntu is a great looking theme - far more attractive than Ubuntu's default dung-like hues. Unfortunately, there is a bug in the package,… Read More ►

Stop software patents in Europe

Editor's note: this petition dates back to 2009 and can no longer be signed. However, you can still visit the site if you wish. The patent system is misused to restrain competition for the economical benefit of a few but fails to promote innovation. A software market environment is better off with no patents on software at all. Healthy competition forces market players to innovate. If you value your computing freedom then sign the petition to stop software patents in the EU. Sign petition now. Read More ►
KDE 4 logo

Upgrade to 64 bit Goosebuntu (9.04 & 9.10)(Jaunty & Karmic)

This is a relatively quick and very effective way to beef up your (K)Ubuntu installation. In other words, it's how to install all your favorite Ubuntu apps all in one go! Note this primarily applies to (K)Ubuntu 9.04 & 9.10 (Jaunty & Karmic), 64 bit versions. For (K)Ubuntu 8.04 please visit earlier (and possibly outdated) article:- http://www.garfnet.org.uk/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=124&Itemid=58 Basically the list below contains most of my favouirite (K)Ubuntu applications complete with their code libraries. The name "Goosebuntu" is not entirely serious - it is just a name we coined in the office. However, the following apps will turn a standard (K)Ubuntu… Read More ►

Upgrading Ubuntu 9.x to Kubuntu 9.x

Firstly, as ever, please back up anything that is important - as you would with any major upgrade on any computer system! Then you can either use the Synaptic package manager or in this instance it is probably quicker to install from a Terminal window. First you need to ensure the system is fully up to date. Simply type one line at a time followed by the return key... sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get upgrade Now your system is ready for Kubuntu. Type... sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop This will install the Kubuntu desktop. The download will take a while because… Read More ►

Trying to buy a PC without Windows part 4 – eBuyer

This is the fourth article in a series of case studies illustrating the difficulty one has purchasing a PC in the UK without being forced to pay a "Microsoft Tax". We use Linux on all our PC's and have done so for several years. Therefore we do not need, nor should we be forced to pay for any Microsoft software licenses. This week we focus on eBuyer.EBuyer is another British "pile-em-high-sell-em-cheap" internet-based boxshifter that shifts a heck of a lot of PCs and laptops. We have bought quite a bit of kit from it over the last two years including… Read More ►

Update – Laptops Direct

We eventually did hear back from Laptops direct. Amazingly, its sales team openly admits that it ignores the Microsoft EULA! So nil penguin points! But if there were a category for honesty then it would get plenty of penguins! The emails are in reverse order and since I guess the sales person is just "following orders", his/her name and email has been withheld for privacy reasons:- Subject: RE: [Fwd: RE: - Sales Enquiry]Date: Tue, 14 Jul 2009 16:19:18 +0100From: [Laptops Direct salesperson] To: '[removed]' References: That is correct,[Laptops Direct salesperson]From: [removed] [mailto:[removed]@garfnet.org.uk]Sent: 14 July 2009 16:16To: [Laptops Direct salesperson]Subject: Re:… Read More ►
Penguin points graphic

Why we object to the Microsoft Windows Tax

Rationale At the moment, everyone who buys a PC from a UK supplier has to buy a Microsoft Windows license whether they want it or not. One has no choice, it is included in the price one pays. So, even if you are using one of the many free alternative operating systems such as Ubuntu, Debian or FreeBSD, you are still forced to pay money to a giant foreign corporation, Microsoft, regardless of whether you wish to use its products or not. The Microsoft End User License Agreement states:-"By using the software, you accept these terms. If you do not… Read More ►

Surely Ubuntu Linux is only for a minority of geeks & programmers?

Minority interest? Yes. Only used by geeks & programmers?  Not necessarily... Ubuntu is a minority interest insofar as it only has a fraction of the users that M$ Windows has. Moreover, despite great improvements in recent years, some configuration issues with Ubuntu are still a pain. However I disagree that you need to be a programmer or a geek in order to use it. And generally speaking, installing Ubuntu on most systems is actually pretty straightforward and generally a lot faster and easier than Windows. Ironically, in my experience, new computer users with no knowledge of computing at all, tend… Read More ►

Update – Dell

This is an update to the Dell OS-free laptop fiasco:-http://www.garfnet.org.uk/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=182&Itemid=331 Seems that whilst Dell cannot be bothered to respond to our enquires with regard to buying laptops OS-free, or whether it is prepared to refund customers for unused Microsoft licenses as per Microsoft's EULA, it is however perfectly happy to spam its customers - even those who make it clear they do not wish to be spammed. This is the gem we received from Dell this morning. And yes, it WAS addressed to "Mr ". can't see this email? View it in a browser Add us to your address book… Read More ►
Tux with broken logo

Trying to buy a PC without Windows part 2 – Laptops Direct

This is the second article in a new series of case studies illustrating the difficulty one has purchasing a PC in the UK without being forced to pay a "Microsoft Tax". We use Linux on all our PC's and have done so for several years. Therefore we do not need, nor should we be forced to pay for any Microsoft software licenses. This week we focus on Laptops Direct. Laptops Direct is part of a British-based chain, run by Buy It Direct Ltd. whose sites are mostly registered to an address in Huddersfield:- Unit A, Trident Business Park, Leeds Road. Huddersfield, HD2 1VA, United Kingdom… Read More ►

I want to try Linux, is it best to dual boot? or what?

I always found dual booting is a pain and I'd far rather have removable boot disks that can be sized and optimised for the OS they contain. In the old days when we used to run Windows, I fitted removable boot drives in our servers & desktops and cloned the boot disks so that if things went wrong (spyware invasions, MS updates or service packs that failed etc) it could be fixed in seconds.This meant we could also flirt with Linux in relative safety. We never stored data on the boot disk. So swapping them around was a doddle. However,… Read More ►
Tux with broken Dell t-shirt

Trying to buy a PC without Windows part 1 – Dell UK

This is a new series of case studies illustrating the difficulty one has purchasing a PC in the UK without being forced to pay a "Microsoft Tax". We use Linux on all our PC's and have done so for several years. Therefore we do not need, nor should we be forced to pay for any Microsoft software licenses. We did some research and approached Dell UK to buy some of its rather smart-looking Vostro laptops, OS-free. Now Dell has a reputation for being fairly "penguin-friendly" and that it will build systems to the customer's specification. Moreover, its new Vostro laptops… Read More ►

Trying to buy a PC without Windows part 3 – PC World

This is the third article in a new series of case studies illustrating the difficulty one has purchasing a PC in the UK without being forced to pay a "Microsoft Tax". We use Linux on all our PC's and have done so for several years. Therefore we do not need, nor should we be forced to pay for any Microsoft software licenses. This week we report on a visit to our local PC World. PC World's Penguin rating Marks out of five for PC World's customer care. (This is probably higher than it deserves. However all the staff we spoke… Read More ►

My Ubuntu sound system suddenly stopped working. Can I restart it without rebooting?

Sometimes your Ubuntu sound system can stop working. Often this is caused by a media player plugin in your web browser. You might also notice that your computer goes very slowly and that if it is browser-related, then the browser will perform at a snail's pace! As a Linux user, you will no doubt consider rebooting to be a personal failure! It's also annoying if you have loads of apps open, as I usually do. However, restarting the sound system whilst keeping your system alive is actually pretty straightforward. Here's how... 1. You need to find out what sound-based process(es)… Read More ►
Google Chromium logo from the Wikipedia

It’s war!

Two events this week could herald in the clash of the titans as the two global IT giants, Google & Microsoft slug it out for global internet dominance. Or so one might believe. MS started rolling-out its much-hyped Microsoft Online Services (MOS). The new services are scheduled to be available to customers by mid-July 2009. Basically MS is trying to make a series of its applications available on-line. These sit upon the Azure Services Platform, Microsoft' new cloud based OS, intended to rival Google Apps Meantime on 2009-07-07 Google announced its new Linux-based Chrome OS operating system that some believe… Read More ►
Ubuntu-chrome logo

How do you install Google’s Chromium browser on (K)Ubuntu Linux?

Unfortunately the new Google Chromium open source browser is not included in the Ubuntu software repositories yet. Therefore installing it is a little more complex than other Ubuntu applications. But it still takes less than five minutes. Here's how... 1. You need to tell your system to connect to the appropriate software repository. That is, you need to add a line to your /etc/apt/sources.list file similar to this:- deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/chromium-daily/ppa/ubuntu {your version of Ubuntu} main Where {your version of Ubuntu} could be hardy, intrepid, jaunty or karmic. There are several ways this can be achieved. Probably the simplest and most… Read More ►

What is LAMPP?

LAMPP is an abbreviation for Linux | Apache | MySQL (database) | PHP ((Pretty) Hypertext Pre-processor) | Perl (programming language).Today, many Linux distributions come with Apache, MySQL, PHP, Perl & Python anyway - or they are very easily added from the distributions software repository.If you want to run LAMPP on Windows then a LAMMP package such as XAMPP is a good idea. This is available for free download from the Friends of Apache website. Note: if you use XAMPP be sure to read the security advice on the XAMPP site...http://www.apachefriends.org/en/xampp.html Read More ►

Would you use Debian on a desktop or laptop PC?

Yes and no! Debian is great but there are other Linuxes that are easier for the end-user to configure. My current favourite is Ubuntu. In fact if you have an old PC lying around, say a Pentium c/w 256MB or more of RAM and a few GiB of hard disk space then you could do a lot worse than installing Ubuntu on it. I've done this for several friends, who have all found it perfectly adequate, 100% reliable - and totally Micro$oft free! The live CD is particularly nice because you can boot & run Ubuntu from the CD to… Read More ►