Thursday, May 21, 2009

Top 10 Instant Messengers for Mac OS X

After wondering one night what there was to offer as far as Instant messengers for Mac OS X, I began doing some research, and here is what I have found. This is a list of the TOP 10 messengers for Mac OS X.

#1 : Apple iChat
Apple's iChat is the pre-packaged solution for those who use AOL Messenger, Apple's MobileMe, ICQ and other XMPP-compatible messenging protocols.
Apple's iChat supports text, audio and video across clients for easy video conferencing.
iChat comes pre-installed on every Apple Mac, and is not compatible with other operating systems like Windows or Linux.

Official website click here.

#2: Microsoft MSN Messenger

Microsoft's MSN Messenger is a simple program allowing user to chat to those on the MSN network (or Windows Live). This client doesn't not support multi-protocols.

Microsoft's solution for the Mac is lacking features including Audio/Video, but is simple enough for basic chatting and file sharing capabilities. As I mentioned be for, incredibly basic in comparison to the Windows version of the client.

Microsoft MSN Messenger can be downloaded from Mactopia or Apple's Downloads Site.

#3: Yahoo! Messenger

Yahoo! Messenger is feature rich as a native soltuion for the Mac. Yahoo! Messenger allows for only the Yahoo! protocol have does allow for Video Conferencing, chat room interaction and more. For user in the US, you are able to have IM sent to you mobile and also status updates.

Yahoo! Messenger can be downloaded from the Yahoo! Messenger website.

#4: Skype

The popular VoIP application is also available on the Mac giving it's user all the features found in the Windows version. User are able to make calls, video calls, and basic chat. However, Skype only supports it's on protocol and doesn't allow others.

Skype can be downloaded from the Skype website.

#5: AOL Messenger

Mainly for US users, the AOL Messenger allows you to connect with other AOL buddies and only supports text chat, no audio/video. However, this software gives nothing more than what the iChat software already provides.

AOL Messenger can be downloaded from the AOL Messenger website.

#6: Aduim

Aduim is an open-source multi-protocol solution for the Mac that allows users to chat to buddies on a number of networks including MSN, yahoo, AOL, Facebook, Jabber and more. Natively developed for the Mac means that it runs cleanly with the system. No audio/Video capablities.

Aduim can downloaded from the Aduim website.

#7: aMSN

aMSN is an open-source solution for the MSN network on the Mac. aMSN supports a whole range of features like sound-clips, webcam support, and multiple account logons. No support for multiple protocols, but for those just interested in MSN, this is the client for you. aMSN has builds available for Mac, Windows, and Linux.

aMSN can be downloaded from the aMSN website.

#8: Pidgin

Pidgin is a popular multi-protocol client on the Linux system, but now has a port for the Mac system. However, the port is not fully supported by the Pidgin development team and downloading the software seems too complicated as it is not located on the Pidgin website. Overall still a feature rich messenging client.

Pidgin can be found at the Pidgin website.

#9: Mercury Messenger

Mercury Messenger is a Java-based MSN Messenger client supporting multiple logons and other customisable features. Support audio/video only on the Windows and Linux versions. User also have the option to run it from the USB drive.

Mercury Messengercan be downloaded from the Mercury Messenger website.

#10: Fire messenger

Fire is another multi-protocol messenger solution offering a range of feature, however the down side is that it is no longer being developed or updated due to lack of developer support. Fire support MSN, Yahoo, AOL and more protocols.

Fire can be downloaded from the Fire Messenger website.

Like this article? Please leave me a comment and let me know what your thoughts are or what can be improved.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Response to Top 10 Responses to Why Should I Use Linux?


In the article 'Top 10 Responses to Why Should I Use Linux?', it runs through a selection of the most debated points to computers making the switch to using Linux instead of Microsoft Windows operating systems.

It is written by a Linux enthusiast who has written down 10 key points why they think you should at least not fear the Linux operating system. However, I myself was a Linux enthusiast and at a stage of my life attempted to "convert" a selection of windows user, but to no success.

Although primarily I am a Windows user, I do also own and Apple Mac while also use a Linux web server. Reason I disclose this is outline any suspected bias that my rebuttal might draw.

I will now go through each point and explain why each point isn't exactly as straight forward as perceived.

1. Linux helps you get rid of viruses, worms, and other computer infections
Although it is possible to get infected even with Linux (malware is mainly written for Windows), its system architecture, based on a server-client relationship makes it difficult for a virus to do any damage.
This is where the heading doesn't match the content. Though it's false that Linux help you get rid of viruses etc. the operating system itself is not as susceptible to virus and worms. As the paragraph mentions, due to the way Linux core is design and developed any negative software that is trying infect an Linux system require Administrator access to the system before it can cause damage. Having said that, Apple Mac OS X is exactly the same.
This first point is probably the actual a reasonable point if you are paranoid regarding PC Security.

2. Linux is fast and will stay fast

Unfortunately, I don't believe this at all. In this paragraph, the author claims that the operating system does not require extensive amounts of RAM or other hardware to run the operating system. There are also claims that Windows XP and Windows Vista are resource 'hogs'. However from my experience I would agree the Windows Vista was memory hungry upon release however some issue have since been resolved. Windows XP is not resource hungry as long as it is maintained. Most Linux don't need alot to run, but once you start using Graphical interfaces like GNOME or KDE, then running Firefox, OpenOffice, and more you start using up what little RAM you have. So its true to say that the operating system doesn't need much, but will need more to start using it.

3. Linux is easier to use than Windows.
This statement is all about opinion. Some would say that Mac is easier than Windows or Linux. Some might say that SCO Unix is their OS of choice. To say that Linux is easier to use than windows is inaccurate. What makes it harder to claim this statement is that there is not ONE version/edition of Linux. Linux comes in hundreds of different "flavours" or distribution which means that one distribution is completely different to another. Ubuntu Linux has been dubbed the most user friendly version of Linux out there. From my perspective on the other hand, couldn't find another more difficult OS. Like anything, different things take time to get used to just like it was with the transition between Windows XP and Windows Vista. This point should not be made as a benefit to use Linux. This is a personal statement of preference.

4. Linux is free as in free beer AND as in free speech.
I agree and have long understood this benefit of Linux since I was first introduced to the operating system. It is true that 99% of the Linux distributions are free to download, use, copy and redistribute as one likes thanks to the GPL Licence. however the comment made in the paragraph for this point got me thinking.

Ain’t it great to have a whole operating system and not be afraid you’ll get fined?
"Fined"? Why would any be fined for using an operating system? This could only occur if the user was caught with illegal copies of the software i.e. illegitimate copy of Windows XP. But this should not be a benefit of using Linux. Users shouldn't afraid of using their OS as long as they're doing the right thing. This statement only makes me think that the only way the author might use Windows (or other software) is illegally, and the only way they can feel better is to use free, open-source software (though there is nothing wrong with that).

5. Your porn collection is safe with Linux

That's good to know. Isn't it? Take a read of the paragraph to go with this "benefit".

Don’t laugh. I’m not a big fan of porn, but it has a big market share on the Internet. On Linux, (which is Trojan, virus etc. free), every user gets a password, and you can see the source code so you know that FBI isn’t checking you out, like on Windows.
This point is really a two-for-one deal. Let's break it down.
"On Linux, (which is Trojan, virus etc. free), every user gets a password" re-visits the point about the security of Linux. Its a known fact that majority of the porn sites on the Internet contain viruses, worms, and other malware. And in most cases a computer is infected by the exploits of insecurity of Internet Explorer. In windows, this can be prevented by keeping security updates up-to-date through Windows Update or using an alternate web browser (i.e. Firefox).

"...You can see the source code so you know that FBI isn’t checking you out, like on Windows" opens up a characteristic with most hardcore Linux users/advocates. Most Linux enthusiasts believe in Anti-Microsoft conspiracy theories that claim Microsoft have hidden agendas trading user privacy with government control.
There is belief that Microsoft have hidden code that allow various US Government agencies to monitor user activity. Because the operating system's code is closed-source meaning that the programming source code which is used to develop and construct the operating system is unavailable to the public. Unlike Microsoft closed-source code, all Linux distributions offer open-source code allowing anybody to evaluate and modify the operating system in anyway the user/developer see fit.
At present, this is nothing but a conspiracy theory and not to be taken seriously.

The FBI doesn't give a shit about you looking up porn. And if they are, they arn't going to go through Microsoft to get it.

6. Thousands of Windows-only applications (even Photoshop CS3) and games work with Linux

This is true and I myself have been able to accomplish it. Using a technology called WINE (recursive acronym for WINE Is Not Emulator), Windows API can be execute in the Linux desktop environment. However, although the technology is always being developed, it is a gamble whether or not your chosen application will work as it should. Popular applications like MS Office and some versions of photoshop have proven to work but still from my experience not 100%. Company call Codeweavers have developed a commercial version which has more selection of tested applications but isn't free unlike WINE. WINE does take an amount of configuration before you application will work. Be prepared.

7. Linux looks better than Windows Vista or Mac OS X

Nothing more or less than the author's opinion. Just like Windows and Mac OS X you are free to make it look the way you want it to. So to say it looks better is useless for the users looking to convert. If their program won't work, they won't if its better looking or not.

8. Linux is fun

Linux users have the power to expand their system for free, they are free to modify the system exactly to their needs.

If its fun to spend your time configuring and constantly working on you computer and its operating system then absolutely Linux is for. I have spent, back in the day, many days mucking around with the Linux OS. But in the same fashion, Windows is fun. So is Mac OS.

9. You can help improve Linux

Because Linux distributions rely on community feedback, its up to you whether or not you want to give feedback. But certainly not a reason to move to Linux.

10. Linux makes you give your computer a name

This is final and probably the most ridiculous reason to use Linux. Why? As you go through to installation process of any operating system you will at some stage give the computer a name. Not all that important for the home user, but more important for the network administrator of a company as such. This is not a benefit of using Linux. You can do this with all Operating Systems.
No Special feature and I will go as far as to say, forget number 10. For the geeks that like spending lots of time on the computer typing away, Linux is your answer. I would recommend Fedora, Ubuntu, or even Slackware distributions of Linux. Long running and developed OSs'. Good place to start. But you just need to use you PC every day and are happy with using Windows and Mac, then stick with it. This list doesn't articulately explains reason for using Linux, nor does it have any target audience. Although it aims to answer questions by newcomers to Linux, it vague on whether its long time computer users or novice computer users.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Review: Mint Linux

For the past few weeks I have been using another distribution of Linux called MintLinux.

Mint Linux has been developed of the popular Ubuntu distribution while carrying a few modifications. Mint Linux comes packaged with video/audio codecs, DVD playback, Java and much more.

This is my review of Mint Linux using my HP Pavilion dv3000 series notebook (dv3110tx). Like the Ubuntu review, my goal here was to see if the distribution was easy to use the distribution was out-of-the-box.

I am tempted to run through the install process but that's not the focus here. In my opinion, Operating system installs are about the same and asks the same amount of questions. Whether you are installing Windows XP, Vista, Mac OS X, or Ubuntu, if you don't understand hard drive partitioning or can't follow prompts, then it's time you stop trying to be a tech person and do a little more research before you break something.

Once in the operating system these are the things I start looking at:
  • User Environment
  • Network
  • Web Browser / Email Client
  • Office Suite
  • Movies & Music
  • Package Management
  • Custom Utilities
  • Overall
User Environment

The default environment for Mint Linux is the GNOME desktop environment. This is consistant with the Ubuntu distribution however, the developers at Mint Linux have decided to customise the layout of the desktop enviroment from the conventional GNOME layout. Traditionally, the taskbar is located at the top of the screen, but in Mint the taskbar is located at the bottom just like you would find in Windows or KDE.


Adding the "Computer" and Users' folder on the desktop is also helpful for when moving to Linux from Windows.

Network

On my particular laptop, all network cards (wired & wireless) were detected and installed during install and driver provided by the kernel.

My wireless network was instantly detected and I was soon connected and online. The GNOME Keyring application keeps record of any network passwords, but the annoying thing here is that during every reboot, you are prompted to enter your set password for the Keyring application before you are connected to the internet. For MS Windows users, this will be confusing and a nuisance since Windows does this automatically.

Web Browser / Email Client

As most Linux distro these days, Firefox is the default installed browser. Accompanying with it is a slightly customised version of the browser, by which I mean when you do a Google search, you will find that the results page has the Mint Linux logo all over the shop.


With the email client, again the indurstry standard plays a part here as Thunderbird is the default email client. Strangly the popular Evolution email client is a optional download.

Both versions of the programs are old versions thanks to the age of the release.

Office Suite

The office suite of choice is the popular OpenOffice.org office suite. Unfortunately, the suite released on the CD is out-of-date, and in my attempted to update it, ended in failure. The package manager does not register a new version available nor does downloading a new version from the OpenOffice.org website allow you to easily upgrade the software. The deb package does not run properly even though Mint is a derivative of Debian. The manual package also doesn't run properly.

Despite being an old version, it still works fine.

Movies and Music

One of the primary features of Mint Linux is that it comes pre-packaged with Video and Audio codecs allowing users to easily and out-of-the-box play Divx video and MP3 audio files.

Pre-packaged are MPlayer and Totem media players. MPlayer is a complex media player with lots of customisable features. Totem is a fine and simple media player, thankfully both of these players support video and audio files.
Rhythmbox is a excellent music player, but I wont review it as I haven't had time to test and use it.

Package Management

A application called MintInstall allows you to manage, install and uninstall packages available on the CD/ISO. For extra packages, using the Synaptic application allows you to search, download and install addition software packages from the internet. Synaptic also manages dependancies and allows safe package removal.

Mint Linux Software

As I already mentioned Mint Linux comes with some custom packages for customising your Mint Linux experience.

MintInstall - Allowing you to manage software packages.
MintNanny - A parental application allowing parents to ban sites being displayed to their children. Only problem I have found with this software is that it is domain specific and does not block site based on keywords.
MintDesktop - Customising desktop icons, etc.

Overall

MintLinux seems to me to be that little bit of an improvement on Ubuntu. It seems to be a little more user friendly as there are more aspects similar to MS Windows, for example, the taskbar is located at the bottom rather than the top like in Ubuntu.

Battery life on my laptop seemed to be improved than Ubuntu, but still not as good as when running on Windows. Hibinating in MintLinux is exceptional and perfectly restored on boot.

Again, I conclude that, although this comes very close, this is not a total Windows-Linux substition. First time linux users will like this distribution and I highly recommend it.


Linux On Laptops