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Linux & Open Source Software, the Present 73

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the remember-where-you-started dept.
Mark writes to tell us that LinuxForums is running the second in a series of articles designed to reflect on "what Linux is, where it came from, where it's going, how to use it and why you should." With all of the recent talk about the perceived difficulties within the OSS community sometimes it is just good to take a look at our roots.
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Linux & Open Source Software, the Present

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  • by Orrin Bloquy (898571) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @04:30PM (#15160686) Journal
    Dear god, I'm sorry I wrote that.
  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @04:31PM (#15160693) Journal

    A good introduction. I have to chuckle a bit at the Fragmentation section, not because it's not valid but because I've always marveled anyone got away with trying to banish Un*x with it.

    Even at its most fragmented (IBM/AIX, are you listening?) I was still able to sit down in front of any flavor Un*x and be instantly productive. Jumping from one version of Windows to the others doesn't hold the same promise of portable skills.

    Regardless, more good information, always useful. Let me point to this article/blog: 10,000 bugs away from World Domination [keithcu.com] as a worthwhile read -- I have no vested interest in this author's (Keith Curtis, a former 10+ year Microsoft programmer) readership, but I think it is a great article with valuable insight into how close linux is and how far away it is at the same time. A good read, highly recommended.

    • Even at its most fragmented (IBM/AIX, are you listening?) I was still able to sit down in front of any flavor Un*x and be instantly productive. Jumping from one version of Windows to the others doesn't hold the same promise of portable skills.
      No offense, but if you want to present an objective argument, don't use FUD. There hasn't been a version of Windows released since 1994 that isn't 95% identical in interface or configuration. If you stuck someone familiar with only Win95 or NT4 in front of an XP deskto
      • There hasn't been a version of Windows released since 1994 that isn't 95% identical in interface or configuration. If you stuck someone familiar with only Win95 or NT4 in front of an XP desktop or 2003 Server, is there any doubt they'd be up and running in under a minute? I'm having serious trouble trying to take an affirmative answer to that question seriously.

        You make an interesting point, I'll meet you half way. While the versions as far as user interface (GUI Shell) were concerned were of the Windows

      • XP ditched the Themes and the folder customization of 98, relpacing them with crippled junk.
    • ...if you take all of the source needed to build a useful distribution for the general user, it would likely eclipse 10,000 bugs. My guess would be nearer 100,000 for the kernel alone, and 10,000,000 for the system. (This is including your kernel, your basic utilities, X, a general-purpose window manager, office utilities, system management tools, etc.)

      Could this be reduced to the point where the general user would be satisfied? Well, I believe it to be already superior to many other popular general-purpose

      • ..I'd sure invest as in reasonable cash money into an OS and applications desktop-oriented distro that upfront prominently said that their main purpose was NOT new eye candy but secure bug-free as possible code, and that part of what I was paying for was constant overlapping audits. That concept - run through the appropriate marketing speak translator - might help sell an open source distro in the general market place.

        BAD CAR ANALOGY TIME

        I can see the TV commercial, new shiny whizzbang motors latest release
    • by schon (31600) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @07:37PM (#15161609)
      Sorry, I couldn't get past this line:

      In contrast OSS new features arise either in response to features seen in proprietary software, or simply because a developer discovers how to do something cool and suggests that it be included.

      Wow, what a great picture. OSS coders are either lazy, unimaginitive losers who copy MS, or freaks fascinated by new, shiny things.

      What about features that appear because a developer needs them? You know, like how 90% of all successful OSS projects start?

      I've made some (minor) contributions to OSS projects, and in no case was it because I was copying a closed source feature or because I "discovered how to do something cool". It's because I needed a feature that didn't exist, so I made it happen.
  • Related link (Score:5, Informative)

    by truthsearch (249536) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @04:36PM (#15160721) Homepage Journal
    On a related note is an old but still relevant essay: Debunking Common GNU/Linux Myths [msversus.org] by Jem Matzan.
    • Re:Related link (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ch-chuck (9622)
      Unfortunately, for every 'debunking myth' article hidden away in some obscure website, there's dozens of full page Microsoft Myth ads prominantly placed in executive washroom magazines that claim the latest Windows makes the Internet safer, boosts your bank balance and improves your corporate standing.

  • Rare Statement (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MudButt (853616) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @04:40PM (#15160744)
    FTFA: Is OSS any good? Yes. Not perfect, but better than closed source in some respects and worse in others.

    In my line of work (system administration in a medium sized business) I'm often having to integrate closed source and open source solutions (or at least make them play nice). I like a lot of Microsoft's products. I also like a lot of OSS. But I find that (generally) whenever I look to the OSS community for help integrating the two solutions, I'm met with resistance or flat out rudeness.

    For example, if I'm seeking help with getting samba working nicely in a mixed environment or figuring out how to run a PHP app on a windows box, I get responses like, "Just ditch XP, d00d, it sux", and "Apache is better than IIS".

    I think if the community, in general, could adopt the idea quoted in TFA, a "newbie's perceived difficulties" with the OSS community would be drastically different.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Whereas when you look to Microsoft for help integrating the two solutions, they're all flowers and roses?
      • Whereas when you look to Microsoft for help integrating the two solutions, they're all flowers and roses?

        I don't go directly to MS for help. Just like I don't go directly to RedHat or SuSE for help. I go here [microsoft.com] and here [macromedia.com] and here [ibm.com].
    • Re:Rare Statement (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cp.tar (871488)

      whenever I look to the OSS community for help integrating the two solutions, I'm met with resistance or flat out rudeness.

      Not that I'm defending said attitude, but...

      How come you don't look for help on the other side?

      What would be, say, Microsoft's reaction if you asked them for help on plugging your Windows box in a mixed network using Samba?

      Especially in the light of Microsoft's intentional changing (i.e. breaking) the SMB, so that it wouldn't work with Samba.

      Let's face it... more often than not,

      • How come you don't look for help on the other side?

        I see your point, and I often search for help on both sides...

        What would be, say, Microsoft's reaction if you asked them for help on plugging your Windows box in a mixed network using Samba?

        To be fair, that would be like going directly to RedHat or SuSE for help, which I don't. We're talking about the community, so I end up going here [microsoft.com] and here [macromedia.com] and here [ibm.com].

        Especially in the light of Microsoft's intentional changing (i.e. breaking) the SMB, so that it w
        • Especially in the light of Microsoft's intentional changing (i.e. breaking) the SMB, so that it wouldn't work with Samba.

          Do you have something to support this? I'm not being sarcastic... Is it generally accepted that MS broke SMB for this purpose?

          As it is not anywhere near my immediate area of interest, no, I do not have anything to prove it with.
          Actually, were it not for Slashdot, I wouldn't have known of it.

          However, although it is a theory I encountered here, I've never actually found anyone willing

          • Is it generally accepted that MS broke SMB for this purpose

            I think it's generally accepted by the sort of people who read slashdot, but it's not like Microsoft have issued a statement about it or anything. Microsoft have had a history of doing the sort of thing with standards (like .doc - although to be fair their competition was doing the same thing), and when the standards change for no obvious reason, people start making assumptions.
    • Re:Rare Statement (Score:5, Informative)

      by einhverfr (238914) <chris.traversNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @05:10PM (#15160904) Homepage Journal
      For example, if I'm seeking help with getting samba working nicely in a mixed environment or figuring out how to run a PHP app on a windows box, I get responses like, "Just ditch XP, d00d, it sux", and "Apache is better than IIS".


      Many people underestimate the differences between the two platforms. Often there are odd problems such that even if the app is supported on Windows, it may have limited functionality. For example, HERMES (a PHP app) is a pain to install on Windows because of a lack of symlinks, and SQL-Ledger (a Perl app) can't use MD5 authentication with PostgreSQL on Windows, nor does the LaTeX support work right if you are trying to print directly to a printer. In once case, it is a DBD::Pg versioning issue, and on the other, it is a limitation with the printing mechanism.

      My advice to you is this: If it is designed for Linux, run it on Linux. If it is designed for Windows run it on Windows. If you need to consolidate, use SFU and Apache on Windows (I have never gotten Apache on Cygwin to work properly with PHP and even if it did, I suspect there would be performance issues).

      Otherwise, if you need help integrating even if you don't like my advice, you can pay for our services ;-)
    • Translation (Score:4, Insightful)

      by kbielefe (606566) * <karl.bielefeldt+slashdotNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @05:22PM (#15160959)
      I get responses like, "Just ditch XP, d00d, it sux", and "Apache is better than IIS".

      Translation: "I don't know because I've never had the desire to try it, but my ego doesn't allow me to admit that I don't know."

    • First there's the hypocrisy in running free software on Windows.

      But also remember Linux is it's community. I might not write the software I use, but those who to are in my reach and willing to discuss. If I feel there is a problem, I can make others aware of that problem, leading to a solution. Microsoft doesn't have a community, there's no dialogue between consumer and producer. The backlash of Linux users against Windows users is a reaction against Microsoft not playing fair.

      Microsoft purposely make their
      • There is a Windows development community. There are all kinds of sites, for example, where people discuss development for Windows and Microsoft-specific platforms. Furthermore, you can bet that Microsoft tries to have its finger on the pulse of its development community when it plans new products. It's not the exact same thing as the F/OSS community, but it is a community. It's a large community that gets a lot of use out of its software.

        I understand that Microsoft does many things that you might objec
      • How is there hypocrisy in running free software on Windows? Wouldn't the real hypocrisy be developpers releasing versions of F/OSS for Win32?

        It's never hypocritical to make use of something that is provided for free. Unless you would also mean "It's hypocritical to buy a car and then take advantage of the opportunity when you are offered free gasoline."

    • Re:Rare Statement (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I've repeatedly bumped into the main barrier when integrating open and closed software. This is, simply, that there's no way to know how the closed software works in detail (short of reverse-engineering it).

      When studying how a closed program interacts with an open one, you can only look at one side for any direct information. The other side is a black box, and you're limited to guess-and-checking to find a solution.

      Likewise, many fewer people with knowledge of the code will have posted information online,
    • How do I get a zebra to make out with a hyena? Seriously, mixing free software with proprietary software is painful. You better make some well defined boundary to somewhat isolate the two worlds.
    • Re:Rare Statement (Score:3, Insightful)

      by say (191220)

      I don't know where you ask, but I've done the same thing a lot of times without getting anything like that. An it's relevant to point out that if you're going to run PHP, Apache _is_ better than IIS.

      And BTW: Windows installation of Apache, Apache/win32 installation of PHP, IIS installation of PHP and pretty much anything Samba is described extremely thoroughly in the installation documentation. When looking at support forums and mailing lists, I am really surprised to see how many questions which are answ

    • Re:Rare Statement (Score:3, Insightful)

      by killjoe (766577)
      Unfortunately integration is only possible if both players want to co-operate. The problem is that people like you often ask for the impossible or the illegal and then complain loudly and abusively when what you want is not given to you on a silver platter.

      The ugly fact is that MS does not want to play nice with OSS products and is especially hostile to the GPLed ones. Nobody in the open source community can help it if exchange, AD, windows file server, etc uses proprietary protocols. Some people risk litig
    • If you're setting up IIS, you shouldn't be helped, you should be fired.
    • That is an absurd claim. Take a look at all of the HOWTOs in the linux documentation project dedicated to integrating with other systems. How to dual boot linux and windows, how to mount windows partitions, how to connect to appletalk networks, how to tweak your tcp window sizes for compatibility with certain routers/systems. And you give Samba as an example!? That very project was designed with integration of multiple operating system environments in mind!

      Perhaps you need to look a bit closer to home

  • The writer seems to want to bring up Gnome/KDE wars. Smells of trolling. What the hey, I'll bite.

    Gnome has, with it's "more is less" focus achieved, IMO, a better new user experience than KDE. Not that KDE isn't good, I'm only saying that for people I know that aren't necessarily technical but just want it to work, I set them up with Gnome (on Ubuntu). My biggest success story on that front was setting up a Gnome/Linux PC for my cousin (RedHat in this case, it was a while ago). She used it to do home
    • by MudButt (853616) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @04:55PM (#15160818)
      Gnome has, with it's "more is less" focus achieved, IMO, a better new user experience than KDE.

      Look on the bright side... I a couple years, when KDE 0wn3rs the desktop and Gnome is out of business, the flame wars will be over. j/k =P

      As a serious response, I think a big part of how a person adopts a desktop preference is based on their personality. I, for example, am the type of person that goes into a store, grabs a pair of jeans, looks them over and says, "these'll do", and leaves without looking at anything else. I was introduced to KDE first... It worked and I had no problems... 3 years later, do I want to learn how to use Gnome? Not really, because like I said, KDE works for me and I have no problems.

      My point (if I have one)... From what I can see, most distros tend to default to a KDE installation (even though both are available), and there are a lot of people like me out there. I'm sure I'm be a Gnome guy had that been the first linux desktop for me to use.
      • by null_session (137073) <ben@houseo[ ]bb.com ['fwe' in gap]> on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @05:07PM (#15160888) Homepage
        a couple years, when KDE 0wn3rs the desktop and Gnome is out of business, the flame wars will be over.

        But it's Gnome that has all the corporate backing!

        j/k also, but you bring up a good point (or reinforce my earlier one, or something)... Mainly that as long as it works, for most people Gnome vs KDE vs WindowMaker vs Aqua vs Vista vs XP etcetera makes no difference whatsoever. As long as it works, and continues to work.

        The advantage with a Linux system is that it usually doesn't sit and collect spyware, trojans, etcetera and so doesn't have to be completely reinstalled every couple of years, it can run for as long as you want it to, acting exactly like it did the first time you ran it.
    • I moved my parents from Windows 95 to Red Hat Linux 6.1 when it was still current. Tech support calls were immediately cut in half (my parents were the ultimate clueless newbies on both systems), and they started using their computer more. Years later, they are on Fedora Core 4, and would never go back.

      When I used to work at Microsoft, occasionally it would come up that Linux was fine for clueless newbies because my violin-teaching mother used it. Boy did I get flack for that....
    • Gnome has, with it's "more is less" focus achieved, IMO, a better new user experience than KDE.

      That sentance is horrible, and I move that it be taken out and shot.

      Sorry :-)

      Should have said: IMO Gnome, with it's "less is more" focus, has achieved a better new user experience.

    • There is no GNOME vs KDE. All major distros come with GNOME as the default desktop. GNOME has won this war. KDE is there for the people who want to download and use it and that's wonderful but the default is GNOME for 90% of the people who use linux.
      • What? Are you only counting Fedora as the major distro? The default desktop for Knoppix and Mandriva is KDE, and Slackware doesn't even include GNOME.
        • Slackware?

          Let's see now.
          Debian, Fedora, Suse/Novell, Ubuntu, Mepis, and knoppix make up the top of the popularity list. Of those only knoppix comes default with KDE.

          Since debian, fedora, suse/novell, ubuntu, and sun desktop are the only distros businesses use for business it's unanimous for gnome.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @04:45PM (#15160771)
    1

    1995 - widespread adoption of desktop linux. yeah right.

    1997 - widespread adoption of desktop linux is 3 years away

    2000 - widespread adoption of desktop linux is 2 years away

    2002 - widespread adoption of desktop linux is 2 years away

    2004 - widespread adoption of desktop linux is 2 years way

    2006 - widespread adoption of desktop linux is 2 years away

  • Reflect. (Score:3, Informative)

    by kryten_nl (863119) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @04:46PM (#15160773)
    The article is not exactly ment to reflect...

    Welcome to part two of a series for beginners explaining what Linux is, where it came from, where it's going, how to use it and why you should.

    In short: nothing to see here, except the forever raging flamewar of KDE vs GNOME.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @04:57PM (#15160829)
    • Gaming: sure, you can buy a compatibility layer that makes some Windows games work reasonably well, assuming you don't believe in open source too fully to do so, but ugh. If Linux was ever going to work on the desktop it'd have games being developed for it by now.
    • Printing: flip a coin. Either as easy as Windows or requires days of futzing with obscure utilities depending on your distribution and printer.
    • Wireless network: there's that concept of a compatibility layer again, if you've managed to find a card that even works with it.
    • Video drivers: not taken nearly as seriously for Linux when developed by the card manufacturers, for example leading to bugs that don't get fixed in more recent driver releases that you must run to be compatible with newer versions of Linux. Just buy a new card. Even though Linux is open source closed source binary drivers somehow acceptable.
    • Distribution obfuscatory confusion: more than enough standards to choose from, some fully-developed, some incompatible with others, some with commercial industry cramming undesireable features in, some fighting commercial industry on cramming desireable features in.
    • I take it you've never had Windows randomly stop recognizing your print server. Or tried installing a printer over a network for Windows. A generic postscript driver just doesn't exist for Windows.
      And binary drivers aren't good, they're just acceptable. We geeks would love it if ATI or NVidia had open source drivers, but they don't, and the free offerings don't work right because NVidia and ATI hide their specs. Not much we can do about it.
      It's confusion, but it's also choice. Do a little research an
    • Distributions: Well just choose one and stick with it.

      The rest: Go yell at the manufacturers for not providing drivers. Don't ask other people to risk litigation trying to reverse engineer drivers for you. If you want people to risk jail put some money on the table to make the risk worthwhile.
    • Gaming:
      I agree that GNU\Linux hasn't been the target platform of many games recently.
      This is generally because games development doesn't work very well with the open source development model. Games are developed quickly and then released once.

      Printing:
      I've always had very good success with CUPS, never had much trouble.

      Wireless:
      I agree, wireless on GNU\Linux is terrible, due to lack of vendor support.

      Video drivers:
      I agree again, but again it's a problem created by the hardware vendors. If they released their
    • must be lunch time in MODlaysia.

      +3 for a (albeit sweet) troll?

  • Why you should (Score:5, Insightful)

    by petrus4 (213815) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @05:05PM (#15160869) Homepage Journal
    Although my current addiction to gaming means that most of my recent computing has been Windows based, I have long believed and will continue to believe that for the most part, UNIX and its' derivatives genuinely represent the way God intended man to use a computer.

    Despite continual advances and new wrinkles being thrown at us in the area of graphical user interfaces, for many tasks the console is still fundamental and without peer where speed is concerned. Microsoft and Apple can crow about their own approaches all they like; UNIX existed before both of them, and its' descendants will exist after those two companies' names have passed out of human memory.

    On reading Eric Raymond's The Art of UNIX Programming, I came to realise that that book offered not just a methodology for programming, but for life in general. It also describes the thoughts and philosophies of a group of people who were as pioneering, adventurous, and brilliant as any other in human history, and to whom larger humanity will owe a debt of gratitude for at least the next several hundred years to come.
  • Thanks for the present. It was poorly wrapped, and I've regifted it many times, but it's made my life a lot better than all the fruitcakes, ties, and even toy trucks I've ever gotten. Almost as good as extra warm socks.
  • Being pretty much a n00b when it comes to Linux... I shouldn't. [slashdot.org]
  • by Tinkster (831703) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @05:27PM (#15160988)
    Not quite sure what to say. My mother (she got used to computers at work,
    using a Wyse terminal and a set of mainframe apps) could never make any sense
    of MacOS, OS/2, Windows or Linux ... she asked me many questions about how to
    use any of them.

    My mother-in-law gave me more calls about her previous Windows installations
    (ranging from 95 to 2000) than she now does regarding Slackware 10.2 with
    KDE, and needless to say there were no spy-ware removal or virus-cleaning
    sessions since.

    As far as I'm concerned it depends on the initial set-up, and that's the
    case for all current OSes. If you are a geek, or know a geek very well,
    you'll be fine. If you simply want to use something, and it's not pre-installed
    to perfection (in other words, to how you'd like (it) to work) there's hassle.


    Cheers

Lo! Men have become the tool of their tools. -- Henry David Thoreau

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