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Ximian

Microsoft vs. Ximian 308

Posted by Roblimo
from the blatant-Linux-advocacy-in-the-mainstream-press dept.
Kappelmeister writes "The open source movement gets some great mainstream press today as the Washington Post reports tht Ximian's Volunteer 'Army' Fights Microsoft on Open-Source Code. It mentions Linux progress in the server market, Shared Source, and how both sides are courting Mexican President Vincente Fox for use in his 'eMexico' initiative to get 98 percent of the population online. Best of all, though, it tells a lot of people that there is a decent alternative to Microsoft software."
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Microsoft vs. Ximian

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  • Is with the public sector. Specifically in education. Now that there are several free office suites (or at least 2), you can do the same functionality (that matters) that can be done with Windows.


    What is needed is convincing your local school that free software will save big bucks that can be used for other wasteful projects.

    • by SlamMan (221834)
      No! School systems are not the place to have linux right now. If a high school can get it work, then more power too them. But high schools and elem/middle schools are totally different beasts. Elememntry and middle schools computer systems are usually run by aids, not full time and paid teachers. The requirements to be an aid or almost rediculously low, and many of the people in those positions are bearly meeting the requirements. If you were compitent to get linux running for an entire school, wouldn't you be working at some place that paid a bit more? In addition, there jsut isn't software to run on linux computer in the low levels. They use some word processing, sure, but most of the fsoftware is almong the lines of "spellavator" or "number munchers." This kind, amount, and quality of educational of software just isn't around for linux. In addition, think oof what the user/techie ratio is where any of you work. Add a zero to it, and thats how overworked techs in the school system are. School systems need things that set up easily, run flawlessly, and never ever need system administration. Now, linux runs great, but thats by one of us setting it up. tech's in school systems have this lovely tendency to be teachers that got sick of teaching. No real rechnical aptitutde required.
      • by taliver (174409)
        OK, I'm getting tired of hearing, "Linux isn't ready for the Desktop." Neither was Dos 3.1 and it didn't stop people from trying to get schools to use it. Why not actually expect people to be able to use computers instead of expecting complete incompetence?


        The reason that techs are overworked is because they have removed all chance of responsibility from the users. Why not say, "Well, read the man pages," or "Have you looked for your problem online" instead of "Don't touch it, you'll only break it."

      • So your solution is to spend many thousands of dollars on expensive hardware and software that may will require expensive upgrades every couple of years and is generally overpriced to begin with? As opposed to saving a lot of money on licensing fees, allowing for school-based cooperative development of non-commercial software (which means that kids could theoretically take software home for free without being "pirates"), and hiring some competent techies to run the labs?

        That's a very short-sighted approach, imho. I would adamantly support ANY move in my local school district to switch to a Free OS and other Free software, including volunteering time to run the lab, install software, etc etc. These are my tax dollars on the line, too... why should they be wasted on software development that when all is said and done, the taxpayers have little control over?
    • by F5 (158064)
      I agree with getting Linux and Open Source software in the schools especially those that don't have a lot of money and cannot afford the M$ licensing scam.

      Reusing old hardware with the above products makes sense.

      This idea is becoming more real with the Red Hat announcement [zdnet.com] last week.

      Red Hat is working with the K12LTSP [k12ltsp.org] project which is designed for using Linux and Open Source software in schools.
  • Bad and good. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shaka (13165) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @08:35AM (#2255132)
    Firstly, I would like to state that I think it's great to see this kind of articles in the mainstream press, as it shows people that there are alternatives, and the only thing they hear about open source and free software is the FUD that MS is spreading.

    That said, I come to the bad side. I'm pretty tired of reading all of this mumbo-jumbo about open source as business, or as a threat to business, or whatever. I can understand why journalists like to write about it, and I think that parts of the open source community is responsible for this too.

    But still - face it: Open source and free software is hobbyists writing code for their own well-being, because they (we) think it's fun, and/or because we need the software, and feels good about letting other people use and change said software too.

    By doing this, you have no strings attached. All the companies in the world - and the journalists - can say and write whatever they want, but the fact is that nobody has to care.
    Stop talking business all the time. The programmers don't care about business. We care about code.
    • pretty damned presumptious of you. I'm sure not a single person at RedHat or VA Linux is concerned with making a buck or two. Not like the programmers have families to feed or rent to pay. They're businesses just like everyone else, out to make some dough.
    • Re:Bad and good. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Khazunga (176423) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @08:55AM (#2255192)
      But still - face it: Open source and free software is hobbyists writing code for their own well-being, because they (we) think it's fun, and/or because we need the software, and feels good about letting other people use and change said software too.
      Untrue. Or at least, incomplete. While there certainly are many hobbyists writing code in their spare time, a quick glance at major open-source projects will find commercial company support.

      Open-source allows for small companies to enter fields held by large corporations up until now. Open source development lowers the software entry barrier, for corporations as well as individuals.

      Example: Imagine a small company who realizes they need to develop a J2EE application server because of an esoteric requirement. Before open source, the cost would be prohibitive. Nowadays, they'll probably join some project like JBoss, and add the features they particularly need.

      Companies also have itches, and also scratch them.

    • ...since I'm a professional programmer.

      business = rent
      business = food

      I get very hungry and cold without business.
    • Re:Bad and good. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Raphael (18701) <quinet@nospAm.gamers.org> on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @09:00AM (#2255209) Homepage Journal

      Most (but not all) Open Source and Free Software programmers are writing code for fun, or for various other reasons that are not directly business-related.

      But some of them are employed by RedHat, SuSE, Mandrake and other distributions, or by companies like VA Linux or Ximian and they do care for the business side of things. They are the ones who make sure that all pieces of the GNU/Linux/X puzzle fit together and that all applications can be used by the "average user".

    • But still - face it: Open source and free software is hobbyists writing code for their own well-being, because they (we) think it's fun, and/or because we need the software, and feels good about letting other people use and change said software too.

      A quick glance at the Membership List of the Apache Software Foundation [apache.org] shows that there are about 63 members of which about 40 represent one company or the other. The same can be said of most of the other major Open Source projects from Mozilla to Linux to Perl. Corporations are beginning to see the benefits of Open Source software and are contributing both a lot more developer resources than anyone would have believed possible just a few years ago.
  • "Who would you listen to?" de Icaza moaned to an office mate. "Just another Mexican? Or the richest man in the world?"

    How is it that open-source can get a channel into governments? The people who make the economic decisions, such as el Presidente, are the people that we should be talking to. I'm curious, as I'm sure Miguel is, as how that can be done...
    • The people who make the economic decisions, such as el Presidente, are the people that we should be talking to. I'm curious, as I'm sure Miguel is, as how that can be done...

      From the article:

      Getting Mexico to do the same has been de Icaza's obsession for the past few months. And in that regard, he's met with President Fox, too.
      During the half-hour conference, which took place earlier this year, he ran though this math with Fox: At a retail price of $209 for Windows and $440 for Office, it could cost the country as much as $3.25 billion just for license fees. "Our country needs that money for many other things," de Icaza said he told Fox. He said Fox seemed to be surprised by the cost analysis, but he made no promises.

      I don't know if Fox was surprised because he knows you don't pay CompUSA prices when you're buying software for an entire country, but Miguel certainly doesn't lack political connections in Mexico...

    • Get involved. Write letters. They *do* get counted, even if they don't count for anything until they hit critical mass. They may not read your letter any longer than it takes to tally another count for the open source zealot column, but they are at least going to do that. No one likes to lose a vote.

      Be aware that in a majority rule system, it is hard for a minority (informed computer users) to find a voice. But the "ruling class" always seem to manage OK, and there aren't many of them. How do they do it? They make noise and they spend money.

      So, donate to EFF, buy products based on open source, and encourage your company to do the same. For example, I order new systems with commercial Linux distro's on them even though they will most likely end up with Debian installed by the time they go into service. Sure, it's a drop in the bucket (we are a very small company) but we do what we can. I try to buy switches and hubs that have the "works with linux" stickers on the box. I know there isn't really any difference, but I want to reinforce the idea for hardware manufacturers that "support for linux = more $$$".

      Hopefully Red Hat and others will eventually have enough cash to grease a few wheels. It only takes one lunch with a Senator where someone says "Please don't put us out of business... and by the way did you see that we contributed a little something to Furman's computer lab? Doesn't little Margory go to Furman? What a pleasant coincidence. I do hope to see you at the next campaign rally" to swing a vote at the next committee meeting.

      I'm one of those people who believes that lobbyists exert far too much leverage with our representatives, and most of it does not work in our favor.

      Lobbyists do what they do with CASH. I am not sure that Linux and related technology needs to be commercialized to survive, but we (the community) do need to buy or beg at least enough influence to make sure we don't get patented and DMCA'ed out of the game. I just moved the last vestiges of our file services off of NT, and I am now enjoying reduced maintenance time while I brace for the first SAMBA patent infringement lawsuit. I will lose "boy genius" status with my boss in a heartbeat when that hits the papers.

      I don't car if Linux never gets more than 25% of the corporate server market-- as long as there still *is* a Linux, and as long as there remains enough incentive and legal freedom to allow the kernel hackers, the Gnu guys, the Samba team, and the Apache team to keep doing what they have been doing for us for all this time. (I am not leaving KDE/Gnome and others out on purpose, I just already feel like I am starting to ramble.) In a lot of ways I think the changes needed to make Linux suitable for mass consumption are in danger of making it unsuitable for people like me. But that is another story-- as long as the config files stay "human readable" and documented we will all be OK.
    • Contribute to the EFF [eff.org]?
  • I wouldn't necessarily agree with that.
    It's more like, "It validates the desperation of various groups trying break the World away from the Microsoft monopoly."
  • Best of all, though, it tells a lot of people that there is a decent alternative to Microsoft software.

    Has anyone seen that IBM commercial advertising business servers running Linux? I thought it was pretty funny, but I'm sure most people see it and say to themselves "Linux, huh?" Oh well, it's still a good laugh, especially when the cop says "what's a server?"
  • ...but the frustration on my end is that the writer doesn't seem to understand the concept of Free Software fully. Hey, they understand Open Source, though, so at least that's a start.
    • Yeah, I agree that she seems to have a bit of an understanding (at least of Open Source), but that she fails to grasp the concept fully. The problem with this in this article (and Open/Free software reporting in general) is that these semi-clued people are who the general public form their opinions from. Open/Free Software will struggle to advance into the mainstream (read: non-geek) consumer marketplace until the people who inform the mainstream get a clue!
  • "There's no such thing as bad press."

    Besides, nobody important to software takes their info from the news, they do their own research (feasibility studies and the like), so just showing to the management-type people of the world that a Linux-based product can exist in the same breath with a Microsoft product is enough for now.

  • by update() (217397) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @08:43AM (#2255157) Homepage
    De Icaza is in the United States on a special "genius" immigration visa typically reserved for Nobel laureates and the like.

    Say what?!? Anyone have a more detailed explanation of this status and who the "geniuses" are who get it?

    Anyway, on a less combatative note than this article, here's KDE's Konqui visiting the Ximian booth [capsi.com] at LWCE and trying out GNOME [capsi.com]. From Rob Kaper's photo gallery [capsi.com].

    • There's a scale. "Genius" is at the top, then "outstanding performers" in the fields of business, science and the arts, and so on down.

      "Genius in the field of arts" includes Kylie Minogue. So now you know where to place Miguel.
      • There's a scale. "Genius" is at the top, then "outstanding performers" in the fields of business, science and the arts, and so on down.

        This is not precisely true. A good quick intro is here:

        http://www.immigrationlawusa.com/visa.php3 [immigrationlawusa.com]

        which is not complete, but gives you an idea. You can also see the

        US State Department Visa page [state.gov]

        which, of course, does not have an easy chart to help sort things out.

        And here is the complete list:

        Temporary Non-Immigrant Categories

        A-1 Diplomatic or consular officers, close relatives *
        A-2 Other foreign government officials or employees, close relatives*
        A-3 Attendants, servants and personal employees, close relatives*
        B-1 Temporary Visitor for Business
        B-2 Temporary Visitor for Pleasure
        C-1 In Transit*
        C-2 In Transit to UN Headquarters *
        C-3 In Transit -Foreign government official, family and employees*
        D-1 Crewman Visa, shore privileges only while vessel is in port*
        D-2 Crewman Visa intending to depart on another vessel*
        E-1 Treaty Trader, spouse and children
        E-2 Treaty Investor, spouse and children
        F-1 Student Visas*
        G-1 Principal recognized foreign government representative to an international organization, staff, spouse and children*
        G-2 Other recognized foreign government representative to an international organization, staff, close relatives*
        G-3 Nonrecognized foreign government representative to an international organization, close relatives*
        G-4 International organization officers or employees, close relatives*
        G-5 Attendants, servants, or personal employees of G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-4, close relatives*
        H-1B Specialty Occupations (professionals)
        H-1C Nurses in health professional shortage areas
        H-2A Temporary Agricultural worker
        H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural worker
        H-3 Trainees *
        I Representative of Foreign Information Media *
        J-1 Exchange Visitor
        K-1 Fiancee & Fiance of U.S. Citizen *
        K-3 Spouse of U.S. Citizen*
        L-1 Intracompany Transferee
        M-1 Non-Academic Students *
        NATO-1 Principal Permanent Representative to NATO and staff, spouses and children*
        NATO-2 Other representative to NATO and staff, spouses and children*
        NATO-3 Official clerical staff accompanying NATO representatives, spouses and children*
        NATO-4 "Officials" of NATO, spouses and children*
        NATO-5 NATO Experts, spouses and children*
        NATO-6 NATO Civilians, spouses and children*
        NATO-7 Servants of NATO-1 through NATO-6 and their spouses and children*
        O-1 Temporary Worker of Extraordinary Ability
        O-2 Accompanying O-1
        P-1 Athletes and entertainment groups*
        P-2 Artists and Entertainers under reciprocal exchange program*
        P-3 Culturally Unique Artists and Entertainers *
        Q-1 Cultural Exchange visitors* (spouses and children can use the B-2)
        Q-2 Irish Peace Process Program Participant*
        R-1 Religious Workers*
        S-5 Suppliers of information regarding crimes*
        S-6 Suppliers of information regarding terrorism*
        SK1 Certain retired International Organization or NATO employees
        TN Free Trade Professionals
        V-1 Spouse of Permanent Resident,With 2nd A Permanent Immigrant Family Category Filed Before December 22, 2000*

        Temporary Non-Immigrant Dependent Categories

        C-3 Spouse and children of foreign government official in transit*
        F-2 Spouse and children of student *
        H-4 Spouse and children of alien classified as H-1, H-2, or H-3
        J-2 Spouse and children of Exchange Visitor
        K-2 Children of Fiancee & Fiance of U.S. Citizen*
        K-4 Unmarried Child of Spouse of U.S. Citizen*
        L-2 Spouse and children of Intracompany Transferee
        M-2 Spouse and children of Non-Academic Students*
        N-8 Parent of child classified SK-3 ("SK-3" includes certain special immigrant officers and employees of international organizations.)*
        N-9 Child of parent classified N-8 or SK-1, SK-2, or SK-4. ("SK-" categories are certain special immigrant officers and employees of international organizations.)*
        O-3 Spouse and children of O-1 or O-2 aliens
        P-4 Spouse and children of P-1, P-2 or P-3
        Q-3 Spouse and child of Q-2*
        R-2 Spouse and child of Religious Workers*
        S-7 Family member of S-5 or S-6*
        SK2 Spouse of SK1 retired international organization or NATO employees
        SK3 Certain unmarried sons or daughters of an international organization or NATO employee
        SK4 Certain surviving spouses of deceased international organization or NATO employees
        TD Spouse and child of Free Trade Professionals
        V-2 Unmarried Child of a V-1 Applicant*

        Permanent Immigrant Categories-Employment Categories

        EB 1st Employment based- 1st Preference Priority Workers: People of Extraordinary Ability, Outstanding
        Professors and Researchers, and Multi-national Managers and Executives
        EB 2nd Employment based - 2nd Preference Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons ofExceptional Ability (Includes National Interest Waiver)
        EB 3rd Employment based - 3rd Preference Skilled workers, Professionals and Other Workers
        EB 4th Employment Based-4th Preference Certain Special Immigrants *
        EB5th Employment Based -5th Preference Employment Creation Investors
        IR Spouses, and Children unmarried and under the age of 21, of U.S. Citizens; Parents of U.S. Citizens, said Citizens age 21 or older
        1st Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens
        2nd A Spouses, and children unmarried and under the age of 21, of Permanent Residents
        2nd B Unmarried Sons and Daughters, age 21 or older , of Permanent Residents
        3rd Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens
        4th Brothers and Sisters of U.S. Citizens, said Citizens age 21 or older
        LB Spouses and Children of Legalization Beneficiaries*

        That about covers it.

        - - -
        Radio Free Nation [radiofreenation.com]
        an alternate news site using Slash Code
        "If You have a Story, We have a Soap Box"

        - - -

    • Say what?!? Anyone have a more detailed explanation of this status and who the "geniuses" are who get it?

      I'm a genius, but I'm also a U.S. citizen, so the visa won't do me much good. I'd be interested if anyone has information about any other government perks available to a genius. Thanks in advance.


      • I'm a genius, but I'm also a U.S. citizen, so the visa won't do me much good. I'd be interested if anyone has information about any other government perks available to a genius. Thanks in advance.

        Well, being in the U.S., you get the entertainment value of watching the rest of us idiots! In fact, the government is itself a particularly good source of amusement.


        • ... there's the apparent enthusiasm with which the United States is throwing itself into the technological backwater, with laws like the DMCA, proposed UCITA legislation, and the de facto support of the Microsoft Monopoloy at the expense of virtually every other player in the industry (and this expense hits American firms far harder than, say, European firms which enjoy at least some measure of trade protection via the EU and national import regulations).

          Given that there are already websites distributing software the rest of the world is allowed to use, but those in the US are not (thanks to the DMCA -- and one must certify ... or lie ... that one is not on American soil before accessing said software) it is rather apparent that we are already something of a technological backwater in certain areas ... indeed, our cryptography industry has never recovered from the business drain our (now largely reversed) cryptographic policies under Reagan, Bush, and early Clinton resulted in.

          That being the case, those of us with IQ's greater than 160 would very much like to get the hell out of here! So the question remains: what options for similar immigration priveleges granted on the basis of intelligence are there in other countries?

          thanks in advance...
    • I don't know much about the "genius" visa, luckly other comments have dealt with that issue.

      I believe in order to be an "official" genius one needs to have one of two qualifications. Either an IQ score of over 160, or be accepted into MENSA.
  • by TangoCharlie (113383) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @08:45AM (#2255164) Homepage Journal
    I think the Gnome people have got the right idea. But, I'm not sure they're there yet. It is important to focus on the HCI. Apple did just that. The result a superior user experience which has generated fanatical support from its users (OTOH Apple has made many many mistakes which is why Apple Macintosh is a niche market). By focusing on the user interface, the Gnome people counter the biggest single critisism of Linux: usability. In a rather different market, the embedded market (where Linux has already made a significant impact), Microsoft, I see have released thier 2nd beta preview of Windows XP Embedded [microsoft.com] code named Talisker [btinternet.com]. See the article in PC World [pcworld.com]. (Talisker as you may or may not know, is a town on the Isle of Skye, Scotland, famous [btinternet.com] for its rather distinctive whisky.)
    • HCI (Score:2, Funny)

      The day gnome includes support for the mousewheel by default is the day I start using it full time.
      • by Khalid (31037)
        And the day I can localise my keyboard too ! without needing to do it by changing XF86Config, something I can already do with KDE.

        Oh, and I hope that some Gnome fanatic won't mark this as flamebait, as its seems that as soon as you dare to compare in Slashdot, some features in Gnome and KDE, there will always be someone who will automagically rate your comment as flamebait ! go figure.
      • by Skeezix (14602)
        GNOME does include support for the mousewheel. Works "out of the box" on my system.
      • Ok, you got marked as funny, but seriously.

        I have Gnome 1.4 on Red Hat 7.1 and I can't the mousewheel going. What is so hard about this? Is it really that difficult to make the GUI respond to a wheel mouse?

        There is the mouseconfig utility, of course - but it offers no option for USB 2 button mouse with wheel, which is what I've got. There are settings for PS2 mice with wheels, and 3 button USB mice...

        This is one of the things that drives me crazy about Linux... you have something that is clearly a massive effort involving a team of programmers - Apache web server for example, that manages to get finished and it works great. Yet something simple like a mousewheel doesn't work... I'm not a coder, so I can't fix it, and as far as I know, pointing out that it's broken doesn't count as "contributing to the project" - besides, surely someone knows it's broken. Suggestions?

        • Try to use 'mouseconfig' to set your mouse-type to Microsoft Intellimouse (USB).

          -chris
    • Talisker != Windows XP Embedded Talisker [microsoft.com] = Windows CE 4.0 Totally different products for totally different markets.
    • Information on Windows XP Embedded is here [microsoft.com] Extra text so as not to appear too lame.
  • by wiredog (43288) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @08:46AM (#2255165) Journal
    Is the description of Microsofts' reaction.

    Microsoft, meanwhile, seems to be having trouble deciding how to respond to this new business model.

    It's "a cancer," Microsoft officials said. "An intellectual-property destroyer." Almost un-American.

    Then Microsoft executives began to "clarify" that stance

    the company clarified its clarification

    Those of us who read the Post daily (the dead tree version has a nice picture of Miguel and the Ximian HQ, btw) will notice an interesting parallel to the style used when the Post is going after a political figure. "Almost un-American" and "clarified its clarification" are classic ways of attacking spin.

    It was alot of fun reading this while drinking my coffee this morning. Great way to start the day.

    • After Microsoft started talking about how OSS was a 'cancer', they started trying to emulate it pretty quickly, thus their 'Shared Source' licensing. It makes one wonder what other 'innovations' that MS will stea... ahem... invent.

      MPL - The microsoft public license allows you to use Microsoft code in any software, so long as that code is submitted to microsoft. Any code that uses MPL code, must also be submitted to microsoft.

      MicroDot - A reader moderated message board that employs a fairly unique system of moderation and remoderation. All comments are, of course, owned and copyrighted by Microsoft.
      MicroTux - Microsoft's charming new mascot, a uniformed Puffin, who carries a paperclip in one hand and a WinXP box in the other.
  • by hardaker (32597) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @08:46AM (#2255166) Homepage
    • Microsoft's entire, $25 billion-a-year business is based on the idea that software can be owned and sold and that the source code - the blueprints, instructions or secret formulas - are proprietary.
    The author forgot to include "or rented". You know, with micropayments becoming more of a viable buisness model, I could see Bill wanting to charge you for every second that you're using his software. It'd add up the time, and send the summary to MS HQ when you connect to the internet the next time (or would stop working if 30 days had elapsed since the last time you connected to the internet). Got screwed?
    • Actually, it would be nice if they sold the software. But they don't. They've been leasing it to us on day one. The only thing is that the lease is eternal.


      If they actually sold the software to us, they'd have no recourse when we did whatever we damn well pleased with it.

  • For Open Source at this point, any press is good press. Regardless of the substancial and blatent inacuracies in the article, it's important to realize that the Washington Post is a valuable forum in which to promote OSS efforts. I would encourage some of the (moderate) leaders of the OSS movement write a few Op/Ed pieces for the Washington Post to clear up the inacuracies in this article, however the fact that it's there at all is a great achievement for the -until now nonexistant- Open Source Software PR machine.

    --CTH
  • Best of all, though, it tells a lot of people that there is a decent alternative to Microsoft software."
    the more times ppl read about linux, hear what its like and reslise the m$ sucks the better.
  • decent alternative (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Proud Geek (260376) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @08:50AM (#2255180) Homepage Journal
    I'd feel much better about this whole thing if Linux actually were a decent alternative to a M$ Windows desktop. There are certainly places for Linux in a program like this, particularly in the infrastructure. Unfortunately I feel like I'm pushing substandard goods as a Free software advocate in cases like this.

    I know Richard Stallman says we should always use Free software because it is a morally superior thing to do. However I worry about the future when we are using technology that is inferior, just because it may save a bit of money. There are a lot of people counting on this initiative!
    • by Khazunga (176423)
      Hey, criticism isn't any good unless it is constructive. I wouldn't mod this up to 4 without a solution proposal. If open-source isn't as good as MS Windows, explain why, and explain what should be done. Just saying "I don't know my path but I know it is not that one" is not acceptable.

      I feel that current distributions are not easy enough to configure to be a good alternative to a windows desktop. That is the major bad point.

      However, configuration is not an issue for enterprise deployments, or any other kind of mass deployment. Here Linux is actually easier on administrators, and I think is ready for usage.

      We have seen major advances in desktops (both KDE and Gnome are to congratulate on this), and major advances in Office suites. I don't believe there's a problem here, even if Office suites are not par with MS.

    • Actually it is a decent alternative to M$ on the desktop. I've been using it for years to do my day-to-day work. Really it depends on what you're trying to do.

      The only things that Linux is missing today are: 1/high-quality games, 2/quality educational software, 3/a good selection of "niche" productivity applications like tax software. For mainstream everyday use (surfing, word-processing, fiddling with a spreadsheet) Linux is fine.

      Also, the productivity packages don't have the maturity of the MS or Corel offerings, but for most people that doesn't matter. The kind of people who would buy and be happy with Microsoft Works should find that OpenOffice meets their needs quite nicely.

      If the Mexican government encouraged Linux for home use then they'd find that a lot of the shortcomings solved themselves. A hundred million Mexican Linux users would lead to a lot of specialized software in Spanish: Mexican tax software, educational software, games, etc.

      • You mention that Linux is decent for browsing, spreadsheets, and word processing. OK, that's nice. But can you imagine if that's all a Mac could do and Apple was trying to market themselves as an alternative to Windows? They'd be laughed off the stage.

        Niche programs put the Personal in Personal Computing. I want to run a Visio-like program. I want to run Quicken. Photoshop. Macromedia's products. Blockbuster games. Etc. And yes, I understand that alot of these have Linux equivalents, but damn it, I like Dreamweaver, Quicken, etc. So why should I have to go learn a new program because Linux isn't supported by these programs?

        Don't get me wrong. I love Linux and have it installed at home. But for a lot that I want to do, I've got to turn my chair around and fire up my Windows PC. Until these "niche" programs are ported to Linux and there's a unified GUI to support them, well, Linux is not a viable desktop alternative for a "personal computer". IMHO.
      • For mainstream everyday use (surfing, word-processing, fiddling with a spreadsheet) Linux is fine.

        Unless you want to actually print anything. One of the biggest problems with Linux -- that I don't see being significantly dealt with -- is that absolute horror of the printing subsystem. Ghostscript is a total joke.

        Linux is at least 10 years behind Windows and the Mac when it comes to "printing that just works" on pretty much any cheap-o printer.

        • Actually I was pleasantly surprised when I moved to an office a few weeks ago that uses CUPS [cups.org]. It really does "just work". Absolutely awesome.

          Of course, I'm using a network printer. I'm not sure what the state-of-art is for personal printing so you might have a point.

          • I have had no troubles printing to HP LaserJet printers, via parallel ports or JetDirect cards. Setup of lpd was a snap, made easier by the RedHat graphical tool. Was a great deal easier to setup and maintain my print queues than under NT4. No garbled jobs that didn't come from a misconfiguration on my part. Basically, I just plugged it in, and away I went. Setting up the queues for sharing via Samba was straightforward. Getting auto-installation of the drivers took me a couple hours, but it worked slick once it was done.

            Of course, I still had trouble with those folks who liked to send 100MB+ print jobs trough it.
          • Actually I was pleasantly surprised when I moved to an office a few weeks ago that uses CUPS [cups.org]. It really does "just work". Absolutely awesome.
            Of course, I'm using a network printer. I'm not sure what the state-of-art is for personal printing

            I loaded Mandrake 8, told it I had an HP842C and it just worked.

      • Missing your points 1,2, and 3 are missing 99% of what people use a computer for.

        My dad 1) Plays games, 2) Sets up education programs for my brothers in school 3) Does his taxes & finances.

        The productivity packages are a joke right now. If you though windows crashed alot, use Koffice for 8 hours during your workday. TRY to use Star office for 8 hours a day.

        About the mexican government, until they give there citizens freedoms and protection and basic rights i could care less if they're trying to save money on software that is just going to be used to fund some drug warlord or crackheads addiction.

        Software as freedom is a joke. Freedom ISN'T. I'm free to use Windows, I'm free to use Linux. Linux isn't free, time isn't free, cost doesn't mean squat.

        If thecost is several hours a day being a sysadmin to run my applications then that is more then powering up windows, running my applications and then going home and hitting the trails on my mountain bike.

        You want to know why windows is less secure? because people running windows could care less about the virtual world of security. They want to get the job done and do something meaningfull with there time or they want to get the job done and have FUN doing it at the same time. Amiga, Mac's and Windows PC's all worked at that concept. They all had great games, great looking OS and plenty of support behind them.

        Linux is just non existant for a desktop os.. and if you believe it is great right now, then you my friend are a die hard command line person and shouldn't be commenting on desktop usability.

        free software is great, but i'd rather have VALUE in my software and Value in my VALUES rather then the ultra simplistic value that software has to be free.
        • Missing your points 1,2, and 3 are missing 99% of what people use a computer for.

          Do you have evidence of this? Even when I was in high school my main use for my computer was writing essays. Today the people I know who are serious gamers have a PlayStation or similar.

          My dad 1) Plays games, 2) Sets up education programs for my brothers in school 3) Does his taxes & finances.

          The only compelling point I can see here for the Mexican government is the educational angle. But they could use a little of the money saved to develop some games that matched their curriculum. That would be a real win for Mexican kids.

          The productivity packages are a joke right now. If you though windows crashed alot, use Koffice for 8 hours during your workday. TRY to use Star office for 8 hours a day.

          Actually I use Gnumeric and Abiword most of the time. They don't have all the features of Word or OpenOffice, but they're solid and I like the look & feel. When I do use OpenOffice (people at work send me files) I find it pretty good. Certainly much better than the old Star Office. The interface is kind of annoying (too much like Windows), but that's just a question of what you're used to.

          About the mexican government, until they give there citizens freedoms and protection and basic rights i could care less if they're trying to save money on software that is just going to be used to fund some drug warlord or crackheads addiction.

          Ok, you've just proven you're a troll. A biggoted comment like this doesn't deserve a response.

          Software as freedom is a joke. Freedom ISN'T. I'm free to use Windows, I'm free to use Linux. Linux isn't free, time isn't free, cost doesn't mean squat.

          What's your point?

          If thecost is several hours a day being a sysadmin to run my applications then that is more then powering up windows, running my applications and then going home and hitting the trails on my mountain bike.

          Where did you get the idea that you have to spend several hours a day being a sysadmin? Modern distributions install painlessly and run smoothly all on their own. With Red Carpet you can even keep up-to-date on the latest security patches painlessly.

          It's been a while since I've had to mess with Windows, but one of my co-workers was trying to install Windows on his laptop the other day. He was pretty annoyed at the braindead driver install ("insert this disk", "that's the wrong disk - please insert this disk"). Linux actually installs more easily on that particular laptop.

          You want to know why windows is less secure? because people running windows could care less about the virtual world of security.

          Or could it be that _Windows_ requires you to spend several hours a day playing sysadmin if you want to keep the patches up-to-date, whereas on Linux it's fast and easy.

          They want to get the job done and do something meaningfull with there time or they want to get the job done and have FUN doing it at the same time. Amiga, Mac's and Windows PC's all worked at that concept.

          GNOME (and probably KDE - I just haven't used it recently) seems to be ahead on that front. I change my desktop themes about once a month. It's fun and I like a little variety in something I spend so much time using.

          They all had great games, great looking OS and plenty of support behind them.

          I'll concede the games bit, but not the the "great looking OS" or the "support". MS customer support for the consumer is horrible (I'm sure it's better for companies with support contracts) and my GNOME desktop looks a lot better than Windows (I'm sure the KDE users feel the same way).

          Linux is just non existant for a desktop os.. and if you believe it is great right now, then you my friend are a die hard command line person and shouldn't be commenting on desktop usability.

          It's great for my needs, but there are still lots of people who need the applications that run on Windows. The exciting thing is that if even one of the more populous countries (Brazil, China, India) makes a major move to Linux, the application gap will close _very_ quickly.

          free software is great, but i'd rather have VALUE in my software and Value in my VALUES rather then the ultra simplistic value that software has to be free.

          Huh? That's a non-sensical statement. You seem to be implying that free software can't have any value. The free software I use (and I use free software almost exclusively) has a lot of value to me, and also to my clients. It's used to enhance productivity and do real work. What other kind of value are you looking for?

    • by bockman (104837) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @09:34AM (#2255330)
      To declare Linux as a decent alternative or not, you need to know for what its usage is proposed.

      From the little written in the article, this Mexican government plan is to enable most of mexicans to 'be on line'.
      Now, you possibly don't need neither MS office nor Outlook for this. You need an user-friendly desktop, a good browser (plugins are not a must, especially if average bandwidth will not allow to enjoy them), an easy to use (and virus-resistant) e-mailer, non-sofisticated graphic and editing programs.

      Now, my assessment(YMMV) is that a Linux desktop satisfies a 95% of these requirements (improvements may be needed on desktop usability and web browser ).

      A strong issue for Linux in non-US government, apart from cost issue, is that with open-source most of the money spent on software stays in-country : they could even pay some local developer and sysadmin to build an ad-hoc distribution, if they don't like the available ones.

      If they listen to ximian, I hope that also non-ximian software get a chance to be used, however.

    • by mcrbids (148650) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @10:06AM (#2255483) Journal

      Boy, stuff like this just makes me laugh. Have you actually USED KDE 2.x?

      As a desktop, it BLOWS WINDOWS AWAY...

      Multiple simultaneous desktops, multiple simultaneous users. Configuring menus in KDE is every bit as easy as configuring the Start menu in Windows. User customizable panel menus (like the start button, 'cept you can have more than one)

      Move programs between desktops with two clicks. (right click -> move to -> desktop X) Lots of games.

      Lots of other nice touches, such as "highlight an URL in ANY program. You immediately get the option to open it in your browser of choice."

      Kmail is super easy to use and supports any number of e-mail accounts, and has an excellent filtering system. Address book support, etc.

      I just migrated an 8-site corporation to Star Office from MS-Office - no complaints; its working great...

      It's very stable, running for weeks on end w/o restarting X-Windows. (note: X-Windows, not operating system)

      In short, what's not the decent offering?

      Sheesh....

      • by Erore (8382)

        Configuring menus in KDE is every bit as easy as configuring the Start menu in Windows

        I don't think so. My Windows Start menu is drag and drop. My KDE panel is not. In fact, adding a new application to it is tiresome and takes about 1 minute.

        Address book support, etc.

        While I agree the filtering is nice, the address book has problems. Namely, no LDAP. Not having a central address book can be huge for a company moving from MS Exchange.

        I just migrated an 8-site corporation to Star Office from MS-Office - no complaints; its working great.

        You probably didn't get any complaints because all of your mail was forwarded to /dev/null and you forgot the password to check your voicemail. You simply can not have NO COMPLAINTS. Users are lazy and do not like change. You've had complaints, you've just considered them unimportant enough. What about fonts under Star Office? What about macros?

        Complaints aside, I agree, KDE is at least equal in useability with Windows 9.x, and in many places superior.
    • I know Richard Stallman says we should always use Free software because it is a morally superior thing to do. However I worry about the future when we are using technology that is inferior, just because it may save a bit of money. There are a lot of people counting on this initiative!

      You make it sound as if moral superiority is nothing more than "saving a buck or two", to paraphrase those everpresent 1800 collect commercials. We should use free software because it's morally superior and that should be enough, even if it's got some problems, just like many people saw divestment from South Africa during Apartheid as the morally correct, if somewhat less profitable, path. Furthermore, even if free software turns out to be substandard, which I would argue it's actually not, but for the sake of argument let's pretend that it is. The proprietary lockin factor is too much to take- upgrade to the new version of Word if you want to read these documents, accept the anti-piracy provisions in our software, etc., etc. Microsoft, even if it makes software that does its job better, and even arguably cheaper, wants to control your work, and that's ultimately the worst.

      Windows is like Betamax. VHS might not be a better videotape, but since Sony didn't want porn recorded on Betamax, VHS won. Microsoft might not care about porn, but they will lose out in the end for the same reason betamax did- they are trying to control too much.

  • Best of all, though, it tells a lot of people that there is a decent alternative to Microsoft software.

    COMMAND.COM -> bash
    EDIT.COM -> nano
    Age of Empires 2 -> xBill
  • Hmmmm... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kalleanka2 (318385)
    Not that I'm a fan of microsoft but what kind of society is the do some of the open source companies suggest really? That a few companies makes loads of cash of free labour while the rest of the population works for free?

    Monopolies are bad, but are Miguels alternative much better?
    • Re:Hmmmm... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Flower (31351)
      Nobody is forcing you or anyone else to devote free time to developing Gnome. I know I have no choice but to accept MS' licensing terms because they are a monopoly and management would never question the cost of a MS solution. Been there, done that. Now upgrades are 25 percent more expensive and I *have* to do them twice as often or pay a 200 percent premium for the pivilege in deciding how I should manage my business.

      So to answer your question. Yes, Miguel's alternative is better.

  • by ethereal (13958) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @09:00AM (#2255210) Journal

    But wait, I thought Ximian and Microsoft were collaborating on .Net, not competing? How can it be that those sweet boys from Redmond aren't planning to play nice? Well, this is totally unexpected. I entirely share Miguel's dismay at this unforseeable and calamitous turn of events!

    OK, maybe I'm not so dismayed after all :) I hope Miguel isn't surprised either...

    • Oh come on, Ximian never claimed that they and Microsoft were collaborating on Mono. The most that Ximian ever said was that they had briefly talked to Microsoft about it [go-mono.com], but were developing Mono independently.

      And for the ten millionth time, Mono != .Net. .Net is an umbrella term for a whole slew of technologies, including the CLI, Passport, Hailstorm, and whatever else. Mono is a free implementation of the CLI (the virtual machine), the class libraries, and the compiler. Once that work is done, Mono should be generally useful regardless of what Microsoft does with .Net and its API. Granted, it will be more useful if Microsoft sticks to the standard they created and published... But I even recall reading an article [oreillynet.com] somewhere where Miguel spoke of "embracing and extending" .Net! :)

  • I love Ximian, I use it here and It's part of our mgration from Windows to Linux. but it has some major problems.

    Ximian 1.4 is bloated, it's slow as Windows nt/2000 and the cause is nautlis.. Ximian on RH7.1 makes a P233 dog slow to almost un-useable. Windows NT4.0 is a touch faster... but not by much. Granted many of you are screaming... P233? why are you running stone-age hardware? well because it's still here, and is not goint to be replaced until it physically dies or is stolen. More and more corperate environments are doing the old-hardware-dance. Schools and Libraries have to becaouse of costs, but corperate is finding that IS/It is a great place to cut dollars, and they are right. we dont need W2K or XP to continue business, we did it fine over the past 4 years with NT4.0 so let's stay there... I am trying to shave even more by cutting the huge Microsoft tax we pay yearly by switching to linux in my recearch/pilot program.

    if Blackbox was easier to use for the newbie.... it would be perfect.... ximian is great, I'm not knocking it, but it is getting out of hand in feature bloat that is no longer needed.... and if there is a way I can replace nautlis with something of a saner size then ximian would be perfect.
    • Yep, I like Ximian/Gnome's desktop too. And v1.4 performs just fine on my p200mmx with 96M of ram. That is, it performs fine *without* Nautilus installed. GMC is okay for file management, and Sawfish can easily be replaced by Blackbox for that extra bit of speed.

      Nautilus is a gorgeous piece of work, but if Ximian ever makes it a required component of their desktop, they're going to blow us hardware-challenged folks out of the water.
    • Unfortunately, you're right; Nautilus is dog slow, which is a shame, because I truly like using it, especially the scripting support. For low-end systems, I would suggest switching from Nautilus to gmc. I think you can do this using Ximian Doorman, if you're so inclined.

      On the bright side, the Nautilus hackers are working at speeding things up... Alan Cox recently posted some useful performance data [eazel.com] which ought to be a big help. And I understand that Red Hat has been actively hacking on Nautilus... not sure if they're working on performance or features, though. Anyway, things ought to get better in the near future.

  • by Laplace (143876) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @09:31AM (#2255317)
    The Free Software Foundation has recently started to promote the idea that all software should be free. This includes open source, free software, and (currently) proprietary software. To clarify that statement, Microsoft keeps their source secret, and the FSF feels that the source should be made available for all to view, modify, and redistribute. This is a point that was touched upon in the Washington Post article.

    I don't understand this point of view. I am very supportive of free software as a choice. I like GNU software. I prefer to use free and open source software (yes, I do recognise the distinction between the two). In my personal life I have been free of Microsoft for over a year, and mostly free from it in my career. However, I appreciate and respect the copyright that Microsoft (and other software companines) holds on their software.

    By stating that "all software must be free, no matter who developed it," I believe that the FSF is shooting itself in the foot. By crippling itself with such extremism, the FSF takes away opportunities to convince people that by having a choice, they can make the choice to improve their futures by choosing free software. The FSF political tendencies seem to be closer to dictatorship rather than the common attack of communism. Even if a dictatorship is benevolent, it is still a dictatorship.

    Free Software has come so far, and has improved the quality of our lives so much. Preaching the word of freedom while advocating the removal of freedoms is counterproductive. Can anyone give a rational explanation as to why the FSF and its advocates push this unintuitive line of thought?
    • FROM MY POINT OF VIEW:

      Stallman's stance is not just about software, it's about the future of software innovation. Stallman knew that if source code were kept secret, innovation would suffer for it. I believe he was correct in that assessment.

      The argument is not so different from the scientific community. If scientists started withholding their data, their abstracts, their papers, noone would be able to build upon prior knowledge and the inventive forward motion of the human race would hit a brick wall.

      This is why he advocates making ALL software "free" (free meaning free to redistribute and modify). To ignore copyrighted software is to deny potential innovation. To keep the Windows 9x source code from the public is to deny them ideas, to deny them the ability to look at the code and create from it, improve it, build upon it. It's logical, though extreme.
      • The argument is not so different from the scientific community. If scientists started withholding their data, their abstracts, their papers, noone would be able to build upon prior knowledge and the inventive forward motion of the human race would hit a brick wall.


        The irony is that one of the ways used to encourage scientists to share their data/etc is to offer them patents to protect their intellectual property - something which is largely antithetical to your argument.

    • There's nothing "recent" about that idea. Stallman, and thus the FSF, have been pushing the idea that "all software should be free" since the GNU project's inception in the 70s. That's his whole point. You and I may disagree with his beliefs; but the FSF is not "shooting itself in the foot" by continuing to promote the same philosophy they always have.

      The less-defined "Open Source Movement" on the other hand, might possibly be construed as being hurt (by association) by the FSF's dogma. But that's no concern of the FSF; they aren't Open Source advocates, and they aren't beholden to anyone's ideals but their own.
    • by ChaosDiscordSimple (41155) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @10:36AM (#2255619) Homepage

      The Free Software Foundation has recently started to promote the idea that all software should be free.

      Recently? This has been the goal of the Free Software Foundation since the beginning. They feel that non-free software is immoral. Thus is naturally follows that all software should be free.

      By stating that "all software must be free, no matter who developed it," I believe that the FSF is shooting itself in the foot. By crippling itself with such extremism, the FSF takes away opportunities to convince people that by having a choice, they can make the choice to improve their futures by choosing free software. The FSF political tendencies seem to be closer to dictatorship rather than the common attack of communism. Even if a dictatorship is benevolent, it is still a dictatorship.

      I see advertisments almost daily telling me that I should only use Microsoft software, I should only drive Ford cars. Yet I don't feel the need to accuse Microsoft and Ford of being extremist. Oracle wants you to exclusively use Oracle databases. The FSF wants you to exclusively use Free Software. Both are attempting to change your behavoir. Don't demonize the FSF for behavoir every software company engages in.

      In addition, the FSF is arguing from a moral position. If you agree that non-Free Software is immoral (a big If, I'll agree), there can be no-compromise. You might as well ask pro-life proponents to admit that abortions are a reasonable option. While you're at it, maybe Christians would be interested in accepting Islam as a valid choice. The FSF follows their beliefs as closely as they can. It would be hypocritical to do otherwise.

      Preaching the word of freedom while advocating the removal of freedoms is counterproductive.

      The FSF is not, to my knowledge, lobbying for laws to force all software to be free. They're simply trying to convince everyone that Free Software is the only morally acceptable answer. No removal of your freedom there, just simple persuasion.

    • To follow up on my previous post, I would like you to consider this.

      If I go to the store and buy a CD player, I own it. I can listen to CDs, give the player to my mother, and loan it to my friends. I can take it apart, try to figure out how it works, and from that information try to build my own. However, the company that builds the CD player does not have to give me the schematics or any other design documents for the CD player.

      Apply this same logic to software. If I go out and buy a text editor, for example, many software companies will try to restrict how I use it. They say that I can't share it with my mother, or loan it to my friends. No, I can only use it for the task it was designed for (editing text). The software companies say that I can't take it apart and figure out how it works. I think that is wrong. The text editor is a tool, like the CD player, even if the software aspect of it blurs the line in some way. Having said that, the source code is just like a schematic. It tells a person or a machine how to build a tool. Why do I have any special right to that?

      Following a slightly different line; it seems more reasonable to abolish software patents. How many innovations in fields like digital music (MP3), compression (LZW), and optimization (Interior Point Methods), have been stifled by software patents? (Hint, three stunted areas of growth are in parenthesis).

      The FSF encourages innovation through a license that keeps the source available for everyone to look at, modify, and redistribute. It protects peoples freedoms and their ideas. If I (or anyone) wants to distribute and idea, open it for discussion, allow the idea to change, and ensure that those changes will not disappear, the work of the FSF allows me to do that. In some sense, that is freedom, and is to be commended. However, I do not like the notion that my ideas, the ideas formed with my own genius and hard work, should be thrown into the public domain just because I formulated them. I should have the freedom to share my ideas, keep them secret, or sell them to the highest bidder. Taking away that freedom in the name of other freedoms not only tramples some of my liberties, but also cheapens the others.

      • I do not like the notion that my ideas, the ideas formed with my own genius and hard work, should be thrown into the public domain just because I formulated them. I should have the freedom to share my ideas, keep them secret, or sell them to the highest bidder. Taking away that freedom in the name of other freedoms not only tramples some of my liberties, but also cheapens the others.


        Nothing in the GPL "takes away that feedom" from you. From the GPL FAQ [gnu.org]:


        The GPL does not require you to release your modified version. You are free to make modifications and use them privately, without ever releasing them. This applies to organizations (including companies), too; an organization can make a modified version and use it internally without ever releasing it outside the organization.

        But if you release the modified version to the public in some way, the GPL requires you to make the modified source code available to the users, under the GPL.



        Seems like a reasonable trade-off for the right to use the (unmodified) source in the first place, no?

        What's disturbing is that not only you (if sincere) are buying into that FUD, but so is the Washington Post article [washtech.com] (the following is so misconstrued it sounds almost like Craig Mundie):


        That model holds that if you use open-source code, you have to put your enhancements in the public domain and offer it to others with the same privileges that you got, i.e. free.


        as well as another one [liberation.fr] two days ago (from a widely read French daily that should know better):


        GPL (General Public License). En premier lieu, chacun est libre de décortiquer le logiciel en accédant au code source, les lignes de programme qui en constituent les secrets de fabrication. Ensuite, chacun est libre de le modifier, de l'améliorer ou de l'adapter à ses besoins. Une condition: tous les changements doivent être rendus publics
        [transl: all changes must be made public] et faire l'objet des mêmes modalités d'utilisation et de diffusion.


        That's just not true.
        • You have a good point, and I have no argument with it.

          However, what I would like you to consider the original ideas that I may come up with. What RMS et. al. would really like is to force me to release the source code for any program I distribute under GPL like terms, no matter what the origin was. As far as pre-existing GPL software is concerned, I have no problems. If I modify and release, the source goes with it. No problem. But I do disagree with compelling everyone to release the source code for all of the software that has ever been written. If you follow the writings and speeches of RMS and the rest of the FSF, you will see that freeing all of the source code is their ultimate goal. That would be nothing more than tyrany born in virtue, and is just as bad as the predatory practices of Microsoft.
    • I agree. It doesn't have to be an either/or proposition. Proprietary software and Free software both have different purposes and as far as I am concerned both have their place.


      What really gets me is the type that says proprietary software shouldn't even exist. They are telling me that I have no right to charge for my hard work and effort in creating a software product. Or, if they don't explicitly deny this right, they maintain that no one will buy software in the future because free software will fulfill everyones needs.


      I don't buy it. As long as people have invented things there has been shared knowledge and proprietary knowledge living side by side. People can, have, and will continue to sell their intellectual property. As long as people create new things that other people want, we will have proprietary software.

    • people misunderstand fsf position as "extreme". well, another way to think about it is: the bedrock you build your house on is quite extreme. extremely stable (unless on pacific rim ;-), extremely low (usually underground), extremely boring. this extremism is a feature, not a bug. same goes for fsf position.

      hope that helps clear up this common misconception.

  • The past August 24, after the meeting between Vicente Fox and Steve Ballmer mentioned in the article, I submitted a badly worden article, made in the heat of the moment, which was obviously rejected by our dear editors here.

    But with this article about Miguel, I think it can shed a little over the "commitment" made by MS with Mexico's government.

    Uatu

    P.S. Originally it had two articles, but I present just one of them.

    ------------

    Microsoft will support e-Mexico project

    I just read some news about the interview Steve Ballmer had with Mexico's President Vicente Fox about the e-Mexico project (in few words, to deploy an internet backbone around the country and install at least kiosks in small communities. Something like that.)

    Well, my worst fears are coming true. Now I say this even when I make a living developing solutions mostly on Microsoft technologies and I haven't give that much thought about what exactly would be best, but I think what my country (or any developing one) needs is :

    1) Try to cover the most territory/town/etc. in your project

    2) Try to save the most money trying to do it. On other words, do it cheaply.

    3) Not to tie your project/future in a technology that may require further payments. (.NET, license rents, etc.)

    4) Use technologies that can be cheaply replicated.

    And going the MS way does not cover these last 3 points and can affect the first one because the rised costs.

    About other cons, we have seen something similar in UK, where the websites needs the IE browser. (I can't loacet a Register article about it.)

    I think that to deply an all-Linux solution needs more people, more training, etc. Also, I don't know what company would recommend an all-open-source solution (any ideas here?), but maybe we can do something "quick" giving some concesions, like maybe clients with Windows machines but the applications being made with open source tools (Apache, PHP, Java, etc.) so that the applications and the future of the project don't be tied to a company's (specially THIS company) whims.

    Why not do something like China for that matter, who appears to be using Linux ?
    On the other hand, it's better to wait until senator Helms retires, before he label Mexico as a communist country if we do that.

    About the article, when you read it it sounds as if they'll actually spend those 60 million dollars, and when you do the math ($60,000,000 / 20,000 people == $3,000 dlls.)
    I don't know what the training will cover. Anyway, in Mexico you can train someone VB, SQLServer, Access with less than that.

    When I read about the "investment", I couldn't help but remember the local articles when X company makes a donation to an university and says they gave away thousand and thousand of dollars... if you use the price list that nobody pays anyway because on that scale you can use site licenses, etc.

    Also, a book named "How to Lie with Statistics" comes to mind.

    I know I sound "ungrateful", but I can't help it being so cynical.

    Now a little "Ask Slashdot" here: What would you do if you think MS is not the best way to go. Or better: What would you do about this project.

    Anyway, here are the articles and the translations.

    http://www.elnorte.com/tecnologia/articulo/140950/ [elnorte.com]

    and here (this is other paper from the same company) with small modifications

    http://www.reforma.com/economiayfinanzas/articulo/ 119904/ [reforma.com]

    Here's a translation of the article. Please note that Ballmer's comments are translated from the spanish article, so I don't know what he said exactly in english so it can (or better sai, I'm sure to) be different.

    Microsoft will support e-Mexico project

    Microsoft will invest on the certification of 20 thousand mexican developers who could create software technologies.

    Ciudad de México, México.- Steve Ballmer, Microsoft President, announced today his company will do an investment of $58 million dollars through five years to support the Mexico's Government informatic
    project e-Mexico.

    Ballmer, after an interview with President Vicente Fox in the oficial house of Los Pinos, said the investment will be used to prepare 20 thousand people to develop software adequate to the mexican technological necessities . he indicated that for the company it's very important to invest in the country since it "will duplicate it's
    profits in the technology industry the next years and Microsoft don't want to miss it."

    Ballmer commented that the Fox's administrationalready has the necessary infrastructure to get the people of all social classes near the e-Mexico project. The project will try to extend high-level education around the people,
    benefit the operation of the small and medium enterprises and to advance other aspects that favor the development of the country.

    The Microsoft executive said that after his conversation with Fox his "optimism" toward the project has increased. He indicated that Microsoft's work will begin with the preparation of 3 thousand teachers, so that they could train other groups of education professionals.

    Ballmer said that Mexico is a strategic market for the future of Microsoft,
    especially for the development possibilities the country presents.

    Microsoft began operations in Mexico 15 years ago, and is associated with Teléfonos de México, the biggest telecommunications company in the country in the portal T1msn.

    ----------
    Other similar article from the same press conference:
    http://servicios.t1msn.com.mx/noticias/computacion einternet/cei.asp?tema=19&subtema=81251 [t1msn.com.mx]

    (Yes, it's from Telmex & Microsoft's portal.)
  • IBM's Involvement (Score:5, Informative)

    by Eloquence (144160) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @09:34AM (#2255328) Homepage
    And International Business Machines Corp. pledged $1 million to help research and develop the free Linux operating system, an alternative to Microsoft Windows.

    Um, wow, $1 million, I guess that shows they really care about Linux. Fortunately, it's really $1 billion :-)

  • During the half-hour conference, which took place earlier this year, he ran though this math with Fox: At a retail price of $209 for Windows and $440 for Office, it could cost the country as much as $3.25 billion just for license fees. "Our country needs that money for many other things," de Icaza said he told Fox. He said Fox seemed to be surprised by the cost analysis, but he made no promises.

    What the hell? Fox was probably surprised because he couldn't believe that Miguel doesn't understand that an entire country is not going to pay retail.

    Too many geeks damage their own cause with statements like this. It's always been a conundrum to me: how is it that many programmers are so smart when it comes to programming, but so absolutely brain-dead stupid when it comes to other things?

    I mean, you're meeting with the President of your freakin' country and you're spouting absolute bullshit like that? Why not spend a little time and do some research on bulk rates that Microsoft provides? Then divide that by 2 because Microsoft is not going to let an entire country stop using Microsoft products.

    And I'll bet he has absolutely no clue how much he damaged his credibility in that one meeting. If I was the President, and I had a "damn fool" who can't even understand bulk rates, why would I trust his opinion on anything else when it comes to an incredibly important decision like this?

    • Of course Mexico won't pay retail. That's really not the point. The implementation cost is hardware + software + integration + training + electricity + communications infrastructure costs.

      Eliminating the software license costs reduces the total cost by SOME amount. Even if MS practically gives the software away, Mexico would pay something. OK, so it's not 3 billion. Maybe 1 billion? Maybe 500 million or 250 million?

      His point is bang on. Mexico could use that number (whatever it is) to do much more than line the pockets of a US company.
  • They usually do this to strand their compet, uh, partners into incompatible standards.

    They did this to Aple with TrueType and the fuckin' alphabet. They did this to everybody that ever tried to get into bed with 'em.

    What they don't outright streal, they screw the competition by "co-operating."

    It may be my Canadian experience that is providing me with perspective here, and the Trudeau paraphrase, but when you're in bed with an elephant, you feel every twitch and rumble, no matter how benign the elephant might be.

    And M$ is about as benign as the tobacco companies or the car companies before they were LEGISLATED into equipping cars with collapsible steering column so that drivers wouldn't get impaled in a crash.
  • by firewort (180062) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @11:17AM (#2255803)
    "Who would you listen to, the richest man in the world, or just another Mexican?"

    Gosh, I think I'd listen to the Mexican. When the richest Man in the world comes talking sweet and selling something, you can be sure it isn't in your best interest, it's in his.
    • "Who would you listen to, the richest man in the world, or just another Mexican?"

      That's really the question here. It will tell us whether Fox is much like his opportunist counterparts here in the United States, or whether he really analyzes the situation.

      Not that there can't be a few arguments for windows; however, to me, the arguments for an open source solution, especially in the public sector, are compelling.

An inclined plane is a slope up. -- Willard Espy, "An Almanac of Words at Play"

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