Sunday, November 23, 2014

Making the case for Black Lab Professional Desktop

Many people have asked us; Why Black Lab Professional Desktop?  After all Red Hat and SUSE offer desktop systems with their enterprise offerings.  What can we do with Black Lab Professional Desktop that they don't do?  So we are going to answer those questions right now and hopefully give you, the customer, some insights into our practices  vs theirs.

The Open Open Desktop

We call Black Lab Professional Desktop the Open Open desktop.  So what does that mean?  While SUSE and Red Hat love to talk about open source and they declare themselves the champion of open source thats not 100% accurate.  Red Hat and SUSE have a policy that if you compile your own kernel, if you pull down your own version of GNOME or XFCE that you will lose your support contract and your subscription is null and void.  We don't believe in that.  We believe that it is your system and that if you need to compile your own code you should be able to without consequence.  Our policy is that if you compile your own kernel, we will help you support that.  If something breaks, we help you fix it.  There are only two requirements to that. 1.  You give us access to your changes and 2.  That you use a stable kernel.  The reason why we require a stable kernel is because development kernels have so much change and so many code differentials between releases we obviously cant keep up with them and by the time you fix those problems many times a fix is already submitted.  Red Hat and SUSE only support one desktop..GNOME.  Thats it.  if you deviate from that once again, they cut your subscription and you are null and void.  Null and void are two words we dont believe in here.  If you want KDE, use it.  If you want Mate, use it.  If you want Cinnamon, use it.  While we don't offer ISO's with those desktops we dont penalize you.  While we offer ISO's with GNOME and XFCE we believe its your enterprise and you can use what you feel comfortable with.  We believe in that so much that we have alternative desktops in the repository and if you want those as your default, order the custom configuration and we build it for you.  We offer options and flexibility which are two options Red Hat and SUSE don't offer.

Price and Support

Lets face it, economic challenges are on the rise.  With the BSA (The Software Alliance) running campaigns like, Bust your Boss and Play it Cybersafe, proprietary software makers are out to get you.  You will never get fined or punished for using Black Lab Professional Desktop even if you don't have a support subscription.  If anyone tries to punish you or fine you for using Black Lab Professional Desktop we will help you defend against such attacks. While Red Hat and SUSE have really expensive software license fee's ours are extremely reasonable.  For the same price that Red Hat and SUSE charge you for 10 systems we have a corporate license which means you can install Black Lab Professional Desktop on as many machines as you like and as you need.  We believe we need to earn your business not that you have to give it to us.  While Red Hat and SUSE penalize you for not renewing your support subscription by cutting off important system and security updates we do not.  Even if you do not renew your support subscription you will continue to get important security updates for Black Lab Professional Desktop.  If you decide not to renew and a few months pass and you say "Hey I think we need a support subscription" while Red Hat and SUSE will charge you a separate fee for that and you will lose time because they start it over from when your original contract ended, we don't.  The minute you pay the subscription costs you get a full year, from the date you renew to that date the next year.  With Black Lab Software there is no pay in May and then pay again in January.  We believe the support subscription is to help the customer not to be used to obligate the customer and not to be used as a leash to lock you into our services.  With Red Hat and SUSE's support subscriptions, they only support their products.  With Black Lab Software we realize that you have a mix of environments.  You may use Ubuntu, you may use Linux Mint, you may use Kubuntu and you may use Windows.  We even help you guys support systems that are not even our own.

Technologies and development

While Red Hat and SUSE offer workstation systems they are limited in what they can do.  You have web browsing, e-mail and documents.  Thats it.  At Black Lab Software we realize there is much more to desktop computing than that.  You want to watch videos, you want to do multimedia presentations and production, you want to video conference and some of you may want to do graphics and animation work.  With Black Lab Professional Desktop you get it all.  We have all multimedia codecs installed.  We have full multimedia support.  We have graphics manipulation programs, video production software as well as common desktop productivity applications.  Developers, we have the Black Lab SDK included with every copy of Black Lab Professional Desktop.  Red Hat and SUSE, you have to use their enterprise OS for application development.  You cannot write UI code and graphical applications in Fedora or OpenSUSE and move it over to Red Hat Enterprise or SUSE Enterprise.  Because Fedora and OpenSUSE are bleeding edge releases code changes.  Black Lab Professional Desktop and Black Lab Linux Community Edition are both based on LTS technologies and share common code.  We are also compatible with Ubuntu 14.04 and Linux Mint 17.  Any applications you write on Black Lab Linux Consumer Edition, Ubuntu 14.04 or Linux Mint 17 will run on Black Lab Professional Desktop.  With LSB support most apps you write on Red Hat enterprise or SUSE Enterprise will run on Black Lab Professional Desktop.  Some of you may say, well Red Hat and SUSE have container support and XFS support.  When you install the Black Lab SDK, included with every copy of Black Lab Professional Desktop, you have FULL container support.  If you want to use XFS or BTRFS you can use those file-systems as well.  Once again flexibility and options.

Application support

Red Hat and SUSE have a reputation for being able to support a wide range of Enterprise class applications.  Black Lab Software and Black Lab Professional Desktop does as well.  Oracle products, JBoss, IBM enterprise products and PeopleSoft are all fully supported on Black Lab Professional Desktop.  With Ubuntu becoming the defacto standard of Linux distributions we support any and ALL applications written for Ubuntu.  This includes many other enterprise and commercial packages.

So we believe we have a good base for Enterprise and professional desktop deployments.  We offer options and flexibility not only in features but in support and pricing.  We are here to earn your business and to work with you in your truly Open Enterprise environment.  For more information on Black Lab Professional Desktop visit our Professional Desktop page.  If you want to purchase Black Lab Professional Desktop you can Buy It Now.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Black Lab Linux 6.5 Status update

Ok, so we are hard at work on 6.5 and while the GUI wont change much we have tweaked it.

For the GUI we now have:
Multimedia menus in the status shelf
We added the Quit option from the Dock so you dont have to bring up the application from a minimized state just to close it.

The GNOME modifications we have made are well like so Im not changing much.

Application and feature wise we are changing quite a bit.

Dayplanner is being removed. Most users use the Thunderbird suite for calendaring so really there isnt much reason to keep it.

Autoswitching sources. We have really worked with the GNOME team and the Kernel team to get that working properly. Right now in its current state you can plug in a HDMI cable and it will automatically adjust to your TV's resolution. Unfortunately you still have to manually set your sound but we are working with the PulseAudio guys to get that working so hopefully auto audio switching will work by the time 6.5 is released.

Memory consumption, the GNOME release during 6.0 was using 380mb of RAM on first bootup. We have lowered that to 305mb , only 1 mb more than our XFCE release.

Beats Support. While Beats audio still plagues the Linux community because of lack of drivers, we have created an audio profile that automatically configures the sound mixer so that your Beats hardware will play and the user doesnt have to mess with settings and try to configure it themselves. While not a driver, its the best we could do for you guys.

GTK 3.14 support. Yes, there is a Santa Claus. We have included support for GTK 3.14. While our GNOME version wont be changing until 7 next year. We are working to make sure that apps written for that library will run.

Tricaster support. We have worked with NewTek to make Black Lab Linux installable on the NewTek tricaster. While we dont host the TricasterOS, if you have an old Tricaster sitting around you can install Black Lab on it and make it a desktop. Only Black Lab Professional Desktop 6.5 will have the support for the Tricaster systems.

Now, XFCE:

XFCE is still important to us and we do have some changes rolling into that release. We will be compiling all the recent GIT changes into the current stack.

So with this release, hardware support much improved. GNOME support much improved, XFCE and QT support very much improved.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Black Lab Professional Desktop 6.0 Service Release 2 Available Now

Today we are announcing the immediate availability of Black Lab Professional Desktop 6.0 SR2.  SR2 (Service Release 2) is a collection of all security updates for October and November 2014.

We also have some new additions to the /opt/Black Lab Extras/ folder:

Kernel 3.17.2 Installer
Skype 4.3
Black Lab SDK 1.9

Along with security updates we have also included:

Kernel 3.13.0-39
Appgrid 0.13
GNOME Weather
GNOME 3.10.3
Calibre 1.48
GNUCash 2.6

The Black Lab SDK 1.9 also installs and configures Docker for you for full container integration.

Users and current customers can install the updates via the terminal with the following commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Commercial customers who have support:  Your updated USB keys have been fully updated and shipped as of Friday November 14, 2014.

New comers can find out more about Black Lab Professional Desktop from here:

Black Lab Professional Desktop

Users that would like to subscribe to support or purchase Black Lab Professional Desktop on a preinstalled Hard Drive, you can purchase your licenses from the Buy it now page.

Buy It Now

Users who want to try Black Lab Professional Desktop on a 60 day evaluation basis or with forum and community support can download from our sourceforge page.

Black Lab Professional Desktop 6.0 SR2 x86_64

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Black Lab Education Desktop 6.0.1 Public Beta released

Today we are releasing our Public Beta 1 of Black Lab Education Desktop 6.0.1. Black Lab Education Desktop 6.0.1 is a revolutionary new design of the Black Lab Linux desktop for education environments and is tailored for those environments. Based on the same technologies that make up our Black Lab Professional Desktop series we offer the same longevity and support that our enterprise customers have come to expect. Black Lab Education Desktop 6.0.1 is supported by us until April 2022.

The feature set for Black Lab Education Desktop 6.0.1 is unique among other education based distributions. We offer features for K-12, Pre-K as well as college level environments meaning that no matter the level that you teach, you have the same featureset, power and customization options that enterprise customers and Linux enthusiasts have come to expect. So here is the package lineup for the Public Beta of the Black Lab Education Desktop.

1. GNOME3 – Our heavily customized and lightweight functionality that Black Lab Linux 6 users have.
2. LibreOffice
3. Wine 1.7
4. Firefox 33
5. Thunderbird Suite including calendar functionality as well as translation utilities
6. Nitroshare – For sharing files among the classroom
7. Synergy – This allows teacher to actually take control of the students desktops and perform valuable education tasks
8. Ardesia Desktop Sketching – This allows teachers and presenters to use their own computer screen as a whiteboard
9. Callibre ebook management – This allows for quick deployment of etextbooks as well as distribution of reading materials
10. Tux Education Suite – Tux Paint, Tux Math, Tux Typing tutor and Tux Notes
11. Celestia
12. Timeshift System Backup and Restore – This feature allows administrators and teachers to restore school desktops should they be made into an unstable state
13. VLC
14. Audacious
15. GMTP for syncing files among android tablets, Kindle Fire HD/HDX and Barnes and Noble Nooks
16. GIMP
17. Scribus
18. Wine 1.7
19. Fogger Webapp Utility
20. Weather
21. World Clock
22. Simple Screen Recorder
23. Gcompris Suite
24. Springseed Note application
25. Kinect and Wiimote support

Among these all security updates up to Oct 27, 2014 have been applied. Black Lab SDK 1.8 is fully compatible with this system as is Google Chrome and the Opera Web Browser.

Our goal by offering a public beta is to continue to provide the best of breed education based distribution and we hope you guys will help us do that.

You can download the Public Beta from our Sourceforge Page but do keep in mind that it is 2.5 GB's to download.

You can also purchase a copy if you are bandwidth restricted for $35.00 + Shipping. Black Lab Education Desktop will also be available pre-loaded on hardware and upon request on preloaded hard drives by certified education facilities.

Black Lab Education Desktop Public Beta
Install Media

Welcome to Black Lab Microsystems.

Black Lab Software Inc. is dedicated to providing top customer service including integration, providing Linux compatible hardware and enterprise desktop software solutions. We provide solutions tailored to your needs whether its building systems to suit your needs. Whether its a custom database solution, providing Linux powered PC and Server Solutions. Whatever you need you can rest assured that Black Lab Software Inc. will deliver a high performance and stable product

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About Black Lab Software Inc.

Black Lab Software Inc. is a small consulting firm and the only Linux retailer in NC for Linux PC's and custom systems located in Franklinton North Carolina. We specialize in hardware repair and we resell custom Linux based computers, software maintenance as well as custom application development.