Windows 8 Dizzying Array of Versions

As you are aware, development of Windows 8 is in full force. Microsoft has already started to market its next operating systems by making it available for anyone to download. A recent look at what options are available reveals a dizzying array of options. Tom’s Hardware compiled a list of Windows 8 options, and they are:

  • Windows 8 Enterprise Edition
  • Windows 8 Enterprise Eval Edition
  • Windows 8 Home Basic Edition
  • Windows 8 Home Premium Edition
  • Windows 8 ARM Edition
  • Windows 8 Professional Edition
  • Windows 8 Professional Plus Edition
  • Windows 8 Starter Edition
  • Windows 8 Ultimate Edition

This doesn’t even take into account more options if you take into account 32-bit and 64-bit CPU architectures. This list is quite lengthy. The list can potentially change come release time. As a comparison, Linux Mint has 7 different versions. But, if you take away the 32-bit and 64-bit stuff, it essentially comes down to just 4 different versions.

Do you think there are too many Windows 8 options?

Microsoft Silverlight Snubs Linux Users

Microsoft Silverlight is a powerful development platform for creating engaging, interactive user experiences for the web, desktop and mobile applications, either while connected online or offline. At least, that’s what Microsoft’s says on its website. Silverlight is a browser plugin people use to view streaming movies, videos, and sporting events, as well as running business applications online. Microsoft touts that Silverlight works on all browsers, from Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and of course, Internet Explorer.

However, Silverlight only works in Windows and in Safari on the Mac OS. It doesn’t work in Linux. There are however, several open-source alternatives, like Moonlight, which mimics Silverlight. But it has come up short. There are still a number of Silverlight-powered websites that are inaccessible from the Linux desktop. Netflix comes to mind. There are also several major sports leagues that use Silverlight exclusively for live streaming. The NFL, MLB, NBA, and the MLS are just a few.

Netflix uses Silverlight because of the DRM or digital rights management issue. Netflix has to some way protect movies from being pirated online, hence the use of Silverlight. Here’s the Netflix message you’ll get if you try to run Netflix on Linux. It doesn’t really say it doesn’t support Linux, but Linux is not on the list.

Microsoft or Netflix has no plans whatsoever to include Linux users into the fold. Micorosoft doesn’t seem bothered that Linux users are being isolated from viewing popular video streaming websites. I don’t see Microsoft or Netflix changing their stance anytime soon. They are certainly not going to throw resources to develop Silverlight for the Linux desktop. It’s really a shame, because I still have to keep an old copy of Windows XP running either in a dual-boot configuration or in a Virtualbox, just for the purpose of accessing Silverlight-powered websites and other programs that work in Windows only.

I won’t hold my breath for this to change anytime soon. Maybe, one of these days Linux developers can come up with a better alternative to Moonlight. Waiting for Microsoft to open up the source code for Silverlight, is a waste of time. In the meantime, you can get a Roku box or a Xbox 360, albeit a Microsoft product, to view Netflix and other websites online.

But, there’s a catch. You also have to fork out an additional $60 a year for Xbox Live, and whatever additional subscription price others have with their services. Microsoft technology is just the opposite of what open-source and Linux stands for. It’s all about money and doesn’t care about standards.  It just doesn’t act in the best interest of all.

The Latest Xbox 360 Update

I was dismantling the Xbox 360 last night since the DVD tray would not open. I tried every trick in the book, but no cigar. I ended up breaking the seal (gulp, don’t tell anyone) and removing the plastic covers. I vacuumed the unit. and poked the hole near the DVD tray with a metal wire to free up the DVD tray. It worked.

I’m not sure if I needed to remove the plastic covers to poke the hole, but since it was already open, I took the opportunity to vacuum the unit. I can’t believe the amount of dust collected over the years. I left the covers off momentarily. It seems to have better ventilation without it. Who would have thought? Maybe, this will fix the red ring of death which I still get ocassionally.

Upon bootup, I was prompted with a message to run an Xbox update. So, I ran the update. After 20 minutes, the update completed. The Xbox rebooted. Lo and behold, the new Xbox 360 interface was right before my eyes. In case you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the new XBox 360 interface, courtesy of theRadBrad.

I’m not sure what to think of it yet. What’s with the Bing Search? You can now search the entire Xbox for movies, games, etc, but it’s not for searching the internet. I seem to like the easy access to videos and apps, like Netflix, Hulu Plus, etc. I also noticed viewing Youtube is now possible? I haven’t tried it yet. I’m going to have to play around with it some more before making anymore silly comments.

Adding Windows Shares in Linux

I was recently asked to access Windows Share from within Linux. It’s not an unusual task, but it’s not common either. Windows shares are a bit confusing to Linux users because Microsoft use backslashes which are designated as an escape key in Linux. Windows shares typically use this \\Windows\Directory\Structure.

The easiest way to access a Window share is to mount it from within Linux. In this example, we have a Windows share called \\Windows\Directory\Structure. We want to mount it in Linux, so that it is available on /mnt/share. The following are the steps to take to mount Windows shares on a Linux box. I’m using Ubuntu 11.04 on this example.

Create A Directory

First, we need to create a destination mount. In this case, /mnt/share.

sudo mkdir /mnt/share

Mount The Share

Next, we will mount the Windows share using CIFS or Common Internet File System. CIFS is similar to the SMB protocol. You can use SMB as well, but CIFS worked for me.

sudo mount -t cifs //Windows/Directory/Structure
  -o username=your_username,password=your_password /mnt/share

Add To Fstab

To have a more permanent structure, we will add the Windows share to /etc/stab, so that every time Linux is rebooted, the shared drive will be mounted automatically. Jus edit the /etc/fstab file and add the following:

//Mounted/Directory/Structure /mnt/share cifs
  u<var id="yiv1712973071yui-ie-cursor"></var>sername=your_username,password=your_password, 0 0

Once the changes are made, you can mount all using this command

mount -a

Finally, you can then check if the Windows share drive is available from within /mnt/share.

PHP And MSSQL

This article will show you how to connect to Microsoft’s MSSQL database via PHP. Typically, most PHP configurations involves the use of MySQL database, but every once in a while, there might be a need to connect PHP with MSSQL. So, here’s a sample script to get you started.

<?php
$sql_server = "localhost";
$sql_user   = "username";
$sql_pass   = "password";
$sql_db     = "database"; 
 
// Connect to the database
$db = mssql_connect($sql_server, $sql_user, $sql_pass)
or die("Can't connect to the MSSQL Server."); 
 
// Select a database
$select = mssql_select_db($sql_db, $db)
or die("Can't open the database " .$sql_db); 
 
// SQL statement
$query = "SELECT * FROM tablename WHERE id='3'";
 
// Execute the SQL query
$result = mssql_query($query);
 
// Display rows returned
$num_rows = mssql_num_rows($result); 
echo $num_rows." rows"; 
 
// Display results 
while($row = mssql_fetch_array($result)) {
  echo $row["id"];
  echo $row["first"];
}
 
// Close DB connection
mssql_close($db);
?>