Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Is Open Source too Complex? 356

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the let's-hear-how-to-fix-it dept.
Jason Pillai writes to tell us ZDNet is reporting that at last month's Microsoft Worldwide Parter Conference in Boston Ryan Gavin, director of platform strategy, claimed that one of the big downsides to open source is complexity. From the article: "Gavin noted that the flexibility of open-source software in meeting specific business needs also means systems integrators and ISVs have to grapple with complexity costs. 'It's challenging for partners to build competencies to support Linux, because you never quite know what you're going to be supporting,' he added. 'Customers who run Linux could be operating in Red Hat, [Novell's] Suse, or even customized Debian environments,' he explained. 'You don't get that repeatable [development] process to build your business over time.'" More than once I have had complaints that my setup is more difficult than necessary. Is open source really that much harder, or just different than what most are used to?
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Is Open Source too Complex?

Comments Filter:
  • by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @07:44AM (#15864834) Homepage Journal
    Article should read:

    "Gavin noted that the flexibility of proprietary software in meeting specific business needs also means systems integrators and ISVs have to grapple with complexity costs. 'It's challenging for partners to build competencies to support Windows, because you never quite know what you're going to be supporting,' he added. 'Customers who run Windows could be operating in 98, XP SP1, SP2, Vista or even customized 2003 server environments with god alone knowing what browser version they're using' he explained. 'You don't get that repeatable [development] process to build your business over time.'"

    Because, lets face it - what Gavin is saying here is that proprietary software vendors find it hard to develop for linux. *shrugs* Maybe, that is not the same as saying that developing for Open Source is complex.

    MS - time to face it, almost noone apart from you is making alot of money selling proprietary sofware (alone). The real cash is in services, services, services.
    • by khakipuce (625944) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @08:00AM (#15864890) Homepage Journal
      Or put another way, a guy from Microsoft, who has probably never configured or operated any of the systems he mentions, is telling a group of people, who also have probably never used those systems, that it's really scarey if you move away from Microsoft...

      And this is NEWS?

      For my sins I have used a lost of operating systems over the years and they all have their pros and cons, the one thing that seems common across them is that the more scarey they look the less likely they are to break because people don't mess with the difficult ones. Most failures are caused by human error (it's just that no one admits to it) and making server OS's look familiar tempts people to fiddle.
      • Two words.... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by moosesocks (264553)

        For my sins I have used a lost of operating systems over the years and they all have their pros and cons, the one thing that seems common across them is that the more scarey they look the less likely they are to break because people don't mess with the difficult ones. Most failures are caused by human error (it's just that no one admits to it) and making server OS's look familiar tempts people to fiddle.

        SCO OpenServer.

        Scary, old, unsupported (difficult to find anyone willing to work with it), and extremely

        • Re:Two words.... (Score:3, Informative)

          by jacksonj04 (800021)
          What gets me about OS X is that not only is it easy and solid for end users, it's also easy and solid for home admins. I've seen people with no previous experience set up a whole family with accounts (and appropriate settings) on a Mac simply by following the prompts. And they still couldn't break it.

          Windows and some Linux flavours (Ubuntu has a nice one) have cottoned on to multi-user in the home, but still is a bit wobbly on the admin side. Vista's new user admin seems to be almost OS X in simplicity (Wit
          • Re:Two words.... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by severoon (536737) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @03:23PM (#15868815) Journal
            I'm always stunned by the group of people that don't recognize the value of proprietary software packaging as a benefit to business. Some of the proprietary stuff sucks, but clearly, some of it doesn't. One of the maxims of business is, has, and will always be that the customer is always right. Why can't OSS defenders see this? If a business complains or fears that OSS will be too complex, then, whether it's too complex or not, IT IS TOO COMPLEX. It's either an image problem or a usability problem, either way it's a real, live problem.

            One of the things I hate about the OSS community is the I-know-better attitude they take. You don't know better, because you don't know the business of the customer as well as they do, and you probably don't know what they're expecting from a given package as well as they do either. This stuff requires a lot of work. I'm a big proponent of OSS, and I think that someday it's going to take over the world and be the primary way that software is written, but I'm always frustrated when topics like this come up and I'm reminded of how much work there is left to do. From users to developers, it's sooooo hard to contribute to OSS popularity (either as user or developer) that many of the best advocates on both sides are left behind.

            As far as Macs go, for the first time in a long time I used OS X a couple of weeks ago. I was trying to help a friend use their all-in-one printer to scan in an image. My conclusion: OS X sucks...it's horrible and clumsy to use. Every time I say that, Mac defenders always tell me the same thing: it's not that it's bad or good, it's what you're used to, and you're not used to the UI.

            Well, ok, let's look at that argument. Why does it take me a click and a drag and another click-drag to size a window where I want it? Every other window manager I've ever used (and I've used probably more than a dozen) if any one corner of a window is where you want it, you drag the opposite corner to where you want it and you're done. Not so...Mac decided that something so simple should cause a new user to hunt around for a few minutes trying to figure out why the window doesn't respond in the expected way. Ah ha! It's only the lower right corner that can be moved. But then that means if you want to drag the upper left, you have to resize the window using the lower right...but then you hit the bottom right corner of the screen and it's still not big enough. So the actions are ordered as well...*first* you have to drag the upper left where you want it, and the drag the lower right back where it was.

            Let's talk about iLife...so back to scanning my picture. I put it in the scanner of the all-in-one and hit the scan button, it pops up a menu asking me what I'm scanning (do I want OCR, bitmap, etc?). Great, so I hit image and it scans it. On the desktop, an app automatically pops up a gallery of images and another small window with a thumbnail of the image. There's a note under the thumbnail telling me to drag and drop it into the gallery application. Oh great! Ok, this is really easy--maybe Macs are better.

            So I create a new folder in the gallery app and drag the image to it. Upon releasing, however, the image doesn't show up in the gallery in that folder. Huh. So I try it again, as the thumbnail is still there giving me no indication that it actually went anywhere in the gallery app. After much frustration, I figure out that there's a magic default folder (I forget the name even now) where that application has decided all new images go before you can sort them into other folders. As I dragged it to multiple locations multiple times, I created several copies of the image in that default location. Once I discover this and enter the default location, I notice that the user who I'm helping finds this as tedious as I do--because you are forced to organize and copy in two separate steps, he hasn't gotten around to organizing a few hundred photos which just sit in the default location, never having been sorted (and not like to be).

            After hunting through that
            • Re:Two words.... (Score:3, Interesting)

              by styrotech (136124)

              One of the maxims of business is, has, and will always be that the customer is always right. Why can't OSS defenders see this?

              They can - it's just that with most open source projects the end user isn't a customer. For the most part end users are just freeloaders who don't give anything back to the project. For an open source project, a few good contributors (eg developers, testers, writers, artists, donors etc) is worth far more than hundreds of end users that don't contribute. Contributors are effectively

      • by IAmTheDave (746256) <basenamedave-sd@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @09:20AM (#15865313) Homepage Journal
        Or put another way, a guy from Microsoft, who has probably never configured or operated any of the systems he mentions, is telling a group of people, who also have probably never used those systems, that it's really scarey if you move away from Microsoft...

        I don't think it's this bad - I think he has a point (that he puts his own MS positive light on) - but OSS is very often written to solve the problem a developer has, and is then supported and primarily used by developers. Setting up the software isn't something that the tech-savvy are concerned with because I think there is a very large "it works for me" chip on the shoulder of the OSS community.

        That has to be one of the only reasons a good graphical installer for Linux doesn't exist today. I'm even dissapointed in Ubuntu in that light - they're the closest in my mind to a full desktop solution.

        Now, that doesn't have anything to say about proprietary software, as the GP poster pointed out - often proprietary software is just as difficult to install, maintain, etc. I think OSX has it pretty much right with software installation - drag this "file" into your Applications directory. Done.

        Isn't that better than MSI or make/make install?

        • by init100 (915886) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @10:14AM (#15865699)

          That has to be one of the only reasons a good graphical installer for Linux doesn't exist today.

          Then what is a good graphical installer? The Windows XP installer? I'd prefer the Fedora Core 5 installer over the Windows XP installer every time. It is not only the graphics, but certain other issues. One prominent example is that the Windows XP installer won't ask everything before the installation and then work for half an hour. It will work for five minutes, ask a few questions, work for five minutes, ask a few questions, ad nauseum. The FC5 installer asks everything needed for the installation before it starts working.

          But of course, most users never install Windows, since it comes with their computer.

        • Now, that doesn't have anything to say about proprietary software, as the GP poster pointed out - often proprietary software is just as difficult to install, maintain, etc. I think OSX has it pretty much right with software installation - drag this "file" into your Applications directory. Done.

          Isn't that better than MSI or make/make install?

          Well, I don't know... I find "emerge prog_name" very convenient.

          And for the most part, I need never fiddle with install CDs.

        • by waveclaw (43274) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @11:35AM (#15866501) Homepage Journal
          The F/OSS Way is just different than the Microsoft Way(tm): the reboot, reformat, reinstall dance. Most problems in both OSS and proprietary cases are misconfiguration and misuse of APIs or resources like memory, bandwidth and scheduling. It just takes a little more training to solve the real problem than to have a grunt punch the power button every 30 days.

          All software is complex. It is perhaps the most complex technology developed by mankind. (Almost) everybody that has walked on a bridge knows how bridges work at some simple level. You can't say the same for a web browser or video game. Completely virtual, arbitrarily defined and so abstract it takes years of study just to understand the basics.

          With all ISV's it's a select your platform game:
          1. Pick your proprietary OS (Windows 2000, 2003, XP Home,XP Pro).
          2. Pick your proprietary DB(MS SQL Server, SQL Server 2003, Access, Oracle).
          3. Pick your proprietary UI toolkit (COM, ActiveX, .Net, Qt).
          4. Pick your proprietary webserver (IIS, PWS (I'm not kidding on this one),IBM Weblogic).
          5. etc...

          Is this less complex than OSS? No. Just different.

          OSS is very often written to solve the problem a developer has, and is then supported and primarily used by developers.

          And proprietary software is written to make a quick buck. There is software you can put in your datacenter in which 70% of the code is dedicated to license enformcement: copyright checks, license servers, date bombs, vendor backdoors and product key checkers. I installed a zip library on a system in the mid 90s that was about 2k in size, but the software to enforce product key cheking was over 50k. They did wonderful Q&A on the installer to make sure nobody cheated on the product key, but screwed up the library. Had to get a patch for the library from the vendor back in the day when you had to get CDs and disketts of patches shipped.

          That has to be one of the only reasons a good graphical installer for Linux doesn't exist today.

          Please define 'good.' If you are using a graphical installer, you aren't in a large server envrionement[1]. In data centers and computer rooms, standardization is so important that jumpstarting Solaris and kickstarting RHEL is required. You define what is your platform for 100+ servers then enforce that through automted installation. No WIMP-iness here. These are text mode and command line tools: drop in a CD and let'er rip methods of standardizing your platform.

          M$ gets away with using graphical installers on their desktop-OS-sitting-on-a-server becuase you get squat for software on the installation disks. There is nothing to verify when a complete bells-n-whistles install includes the base OS and Minesweeper. You have to get extra 'software X' to make Microsoft platforms usefull, so your configuration boils down to MS+software X when talking to a vendor. This is no less complex than the OSS model. For support puropses, it might be less complete with OSS since the software is all from (supported by) 1 company (the distro maker) and all on the same disk(s.)

          Why do people focus on the installer anyway? With OSS you shouldn't be needing to reboot/reinstall to fix things. Working in a larger datacetners, you will focus on the disgnostics your can get out of a program to manage it. The quality of installers doesn't matter too much unless you are doing lots of turnover.

          Now, that doesn't have anything to say about proprietary software, as the GP poster pointed out - often proprietary software is just as difficult to install, maintain, etc.

          I aggree whole heartily that OSS solutions are at least as difficult as commercial. However, the point of the FUD in the article is that OSS is a babylon of platforms, not that the installers suck. From the article:

          "You don't get that repeatable [de

        • If you read TFA, you see that Gavin's talking about developing open-source software applications as a business, not using said software. It's too complicated to sell software targeting Linux et. al. because there are so many version. I read his thesis statement as:

          Since open source software is not a monoculture, it'll be difficult for an ISV to crush all competition and establish decades-long monopoly rents

          This is a "drawback" that I, needless to say, can live with.

          In short, the first post on this articl

        • by labratuk (204918) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @03:04PM (#15868647)
          I think OSX has it pretty much right with software installation - drag this "file" into your Applications directory. Done.

          Isn't that better than MSI or make/make install?

          I'll pretend you said apt-get rather than make/make install because that makes it sound like you have some clue about what you're comparing.

          Not even close. 'Just dragging an application' is not package management.

          With Apple Computer Inc.'s system there is no update system. What happens when $release of software acquires an exploit? Expect your user to regularly check for updates for all installed applications?

          There is no form of dependency resolution. "But that's what leads to dependency hell..." - No. Software has dependencies. That's a truth. Dependencies need managing. Ignoring dependencies == ignoring the advantages of this invention called the shared library. Multiple applications can use one shared library to save disk space & memory. However the most important attribute of shared libraries is that a bugfix or security fix for the library needs to be updated precisely once and all applications which make use of it get fixed. Install multiple 'bundled' copies of a lib and you have to rely on every software maintainer making a fix and then go around fixing it n times. Good luck getting a fix for that crappy piece of shareware you installed 8 months ago and the author has no interest in anymore.
      • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob AT hotmail DOT com> on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @09:24AM (#15865347) Journal
        a guy from Microsoft, who has probably never configured or operated any of the systems he mentions, is telling a group of people, who also have probably never used those systems, that it's really scarey if you move away from Microsoft...

        And this is NEWS?

        It's even sadder than that. If you have a look at the website of IBS Synergy [esynergy.com.my], the ISV they're quoting, it's an amateurish effort, full of spelling errors and broken links. The company has a grand total of five customers, two of which seem to be the same organisation, and one of which appears to no longer exist.

        If this is the most authoritative source Microsoft can assemble to substantiate their claims Open Source is complex, I'd say they're a long way from being convincing. It's almost sad to see they're still stooping to such pathetic tactics.

        • If this is the most authoritative source Microsoft can assemble to substantiate their claims Open Source is complex

          No, this [freestandards.org] and this [pathname.com] are the sites that say that. The OSS community doesn't need MS to point out flaws, when we can do it ourselves. The correct attitude to all this, of course, is to acknowledge valid points and fix them (because if you don't, well, that way lies Marketing)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Because, lets face it - what Gavin is saying here is that proprietary software vendors find it hard to develop for linux.
      No, he's saying that thorough QA and support to the standard that enterprise customers want is more work the more platforms your application has to run on. It's too much risk to say "we support all Linux".

      The solution, as the article hints, is to say "we support our app on the latest RHEL only". And then you're back in a low risk situation.
      • by peragrin (659227) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @08:28AM (#15865006)
        ah but that's the good thing about Linux that you can not say about MSFT.

        You as a vendor only supports RHEL, but that means your customers can get their Linux from Red Hat, CentOS, White Hat, or any of the other firms that take RHEL sources remove the trademarks and redistribute the binaries.

        Your still not locked to anyone vendor for support or services.
    • by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrewNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @08:32AM (#15865031) Homepage Journal
      I think you homed in on what the real message is here. And there is some truth to it.

      For a large software developer, they want to reach a wide audience. That is why they develop for Windows, which has the largest user base. Even if they want to reach out to a Linux user base, there are so many different distros and ways of doing things, that you cut that audience into even smaller shares.

      I'm all for freedom, but I find it silly that different distros keep configuration files in different locations, use different init scripts, use different install methods, have varying level of compliance with the LSB, are focused on either Gnome or KDE predominately, etc.

      It does make it more difficult for a large company to develop for a Linux crowd in general.
      • BS (Score:5, Insightful)

        by pedestrian crossing (802349) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @09:09AM (#15865239) Homepage Journal

        I'm all for freedom, but I find it silly that different distros keep configuration files in different locations, use different init scripts, use different install methods, have varying level of compliance with the LSB, are focused on either Gnome or KDE predominately, etc.

        It does make it more difficult for a large company to develop for a Linux crowd in general.

        Only if they want to develop proprietary software for Linux.

        If they provide the source, then whoever maintains the distro is the only one who has to worry about issues that you are fretting over.

        That's the whole purpose of distros.

        I'm all for freedom

        I would argue that you are not. Otherwise, you wouldn't be rolling out this old canard...

        • Re:BS (Score:4, Insightful)

          by CTho9305 (264265) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @10:22AM (#15865777) Homepage
          Only if they want to develop proprietary software for Linux.

          If they provide the source, then whoever maintains the distro is the only one who has to worry about issues that you are fretting over.

          That's the whole purpose of distros.


          Even for OSS, that's just not the same as being able to distribute one package that works everywhere. On Windows (9x, 2k, XP Home, XP Pro, Vista's 7 versions), I can ship one binary package that works for everybody. Microsoft doesn't have to approve my package before making it easily available to users - any Windows user can download my one simple installer and have it work for them regardless of their version. Now look at Linux: there are many different distros, with many different package formats. I'd have to provide RPMs, DEBs, tarballs, and probably multiple versions in each format (since it might depend on different packages for different distros). Users would have to know which package to download. If the experience is going to be easy, I have to beg the distro's maintainer to provide an official package--some distros are very slow to add new products.

          A real-world example of this is SeaMonkey [mozilla.org]. How long will it be until Debian users can install the software easily? Windows users can have the latest version as soon as we ship it. Linux users generally have to wait for their distro to provide an updated package. We do provide tarballs which you can extract anywhere, but that's not really user-friendly... we also provide an installer, but then you're using a method of adding software other than your distro's standard package management. We do ship source, and anyone is welcome to build it and include it in distros, but the vast majority of people just want to install a binary using whatever method they normally use (e.g. google for the website, download an installer, or search Synaptic, etc).
          • Re:BS (Score:5, Informative)

            by rainman_bc (735332) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @11:14AM (#15866248)
            Even for OSS, that's just not the same as being able to distribute one package that works everywhere. On Windows (9x, 2k, XP Home, XP Pro, Vista's 7 versions), I can ship one binary package that works for everybody.

            Depends. Do all 9x boxen have the .net runtime? Do they all use the same MFC? Only the most basic program can you make it run on any platform. Or are you coding in Java???

            Microsoft doesn't have to approve my package before making it easily available to users - any Windows user can download my one simple installer and have it work for them regardless of their version.

            Odd, I use FC5, and I use third party yum repositories for any software not officially provided by the main Fedora repository.

            Now look at Linux: there are many different distros, with many different package formats. I'd have to provide RPMs, DEBs, tarballs, and probably multiple versions in each format (since it might depend on different packages for different distros). Users would have to know which package to download.

            That's what apt-get or yum are for. And with synaptic or yumex it's a piece of cake.

            If the experience is going to be easy, I have to beg the distro's maintainer to provide an official package--some distros are very slow to add new products.

            Again, see my comment above about third party repositories.

            A real-world example of this is SeaMonkey [mozilla.org]. How long will it be until Debian users can install the software easily? Windows users can have the latest version as soon as we ship it. Linux users generally have to wait for their distro to provide an updated package.

            That's odd. pbone.net has Seamonkey in their repository. If I want it, I can get it here [pbone.net] ...snip

            but the vast majority of people just want to install a binary using whatever method they normally use (e.g. google for the website, download an installer, or search Synaptic, etc).

            See comments above about third party repositories. If you want to be bleeding edge, that's your problem, not the distro's.
            • Re:BS (Score:4, Insightful)

              by CTho9305 (264265) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @01:16PM (#15867696) Homepage
              Depends. Do all 9x boxen have the .net runtime? Do they all use the same MFC? Only the most basic program can you make it run on any platform. Or are you coding in Java???
              That's BS. SeaMonkey (and Firefox, and Thunderbird, and thousands of other appliactions) isn't a .net application or trivial MFC application, yet somehow runs on all versions of Windows from the past decade (even NT 3.51 with some minor caveats!). It's also not written in Java. It's a pretty serious piece of software.

              Odd, I use FC5, and I use third party yum repositories for any software not officially provided by the main Fedora repository.
              [snip]
              See comments above about third party repositories. If you want to be bleeding edge, that's your problem, not the distro's.


              So basically what you're saying is, in order to get an equally good experience as a user when your friend says, "Hey, there's this new SeaMonkey project that continues the Mozilla suite and adds some cool features", you have to hunt for third-party repositories and set them up in your package manager? Explain to me how this is not more complicated than Windows where you just go to the program's site and download the installer.
            • Re:BS (Score:4, Insightful)

              by llefler (184847) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @04:40PM (#15869466)
              Depends. Do all 9x boxen have the .net runtime? Do they all use the same MFC? Only the most basic program can you make it run on any platform. Or are you coding in Java???


              Surely you aren't serious. I have written enterprise n-tier applications that have run on Windows 9x, NT, 2000, XP and 2003. I don't care about .NET or MFC. I have written Windows services that run (same exe) on NT, 2000, XP and 2003. And no, I don't do Java either. I also don't have to worry about what version of kernel I'm running or if I have the right common controls library.
      • Oh Bull, Linux isn't hard because it's Linux or sort of LSB compliant or anything else other than it's hard because its secure and because it's secure it's difficult to install libaries willy-nilly all over the file system; when Windows becomes secure, it'll be difficult too. Right now the windosers just don't get basic security from the inside, they only get it as a tack on from the outside; and running windows is becoming a huge pain in the ass; so much of their tacked on security is completely brain-dead
      • by swillden (191260) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @10:47AM (#15865995) Homepage Journal

        It does make it more difficult for a large company to develop for a Linux crowd in general.

        Somewhat, but it's not that bad. I wrote a commercial, closed-source Linux app that had to run on multiple distros and it's really not that much of an issue. The app I built was one of the more difficult ones to support across distros, too, since it had to integrate with (or replace) the login process, screensaver, etc. These are areas where distros do things very differently. Normal applications have many fewer issues.

        Some things I learned:

        • At core, all major, modern Linux distros look the same. There are small differences in they way files are organized and larger differences in how packages are installed and managed, but these differences don't require much effort to work around, even when you're changing the most distro-specific elements of the system (boot processes, login processes, etc.). Liberal use of configuration files and glue scripts is a very good idea so that you can reconfigure for lots of different environments without changing the binaries.
        • Cross-distro development is easy. Cross-distro packaging is fairly easy. The hard part is the cross-distro testing, not because it's particularly difficult, but because you have to do it on every distro you're going to support. It's well worth automating as much of the testing as possible. I recently began trying to use a test-driven development process, and I wish I had used it on that Linux project.
        • Although it's possible to create a cross-distro installer, your customers will be much happier if you provide native installers that integrate properly with their package management system.
        • You cannot expect to make a single RPM package for all RPM-using distros. The RPM SPEC files won't differ hugely from distro to distro, but they will differ if you want seamless integration.
        • For a corporate app, you really only need to target a small set of Linux distros to cover nearly all of your market. Red Hat, SUSE and Debian cover it. In the case of Red Hat and SUSE you need to support both the current release and the previous release. For Debian/Ubuntu, it's less clear. Ask some customers and take a guess (and see my next point).
        • You can treat the too-many-distros problem as an opportunity. In my case, I recommended that we do three things: First, create packages that cover 95% of the target market. Second, provide a tarball with all of the binaries and some instructions on how configuration files need to be set up so that very technical customers (common in the Linux market) can figure out how to integrate it into the distro of their choice -- with the caveat that you will only support them in resolving issues they can reproduce on a supported distro. Third, (here's the opportunity part), offer to make it work in whatever distro they like, for an integration fee. Charge them enough that you can do a thorough job, including writing all of the automated test code for that platform, all of the documentation needed by your customer service department, etc., so that you can just add it to the list of "supported" distros, and make a profit doing it.

        Really, I think the biggest difficulty with selling commercial Linux apps is the relatively weak demand. Although I don't like Windows, it's still quite dominant, and Windows apps are almost guaranteed a larger market. If, however, you can find a niche where there is significant demand for a commercial Linux product, the multiple-distros issue isn't going to significantly increase your development cost, will perhaps double the cost of developing you installation packages, and (assuming you make good use of automated testing) will probably increase your testing costs by 10% or so. Net, I'd say it costs <5% more to develop a significant application for multiple Linux distros rather than just one distro.

    • >The real cash is in services, services, services.

      And to that end, it is most beneficial to insure that the software is as complex as possible, so as to make anyone who wants to use it dependant on those services, services, services. :)

      Steve
  • by cerberusss (660701) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @07:48AM (#15864844) Homepage Journal
    'Customers who run Linux could be operating in Red Hat, [Novell's] Suse, or even customized Debian environments,' he explained.
    Customers who run Windows could be operating in 2000, XP, 2003 Small Business, ...

    Solution: standardize. Where I work, IT supports either XP/Novell or Debian. If you divert, you're on your own.
  • by Flying pig (925874) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @07:48AM (#15864845)
    You will only be supporting Server 2000. Or Server 2003. Or some custom locked down corporate environment. Or W2000 desktop. Or XP. Or XP SP1 (still having problems migrating to SP2.) Or SP2. With different flavors of IIS. And SQL Server 2000. Or SQL Server 2005. Or we have to use MSDE for this application because we only have SQL Server 2005 available and it won't connect to it.

    Quite right. Microsoft has a huge advantage in terms of consistency and lack of complexity, provided of course that you just want to run Office on the desktop. Oh yes, which version of Office?

    • by db32 (862117) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @08:01AM (#15864900) Journal
      You forgot to mention the Novell integration stuff...the ActiveX stuff...then there is the whole MS-Java VM vs Sun-Java VM... I assume you have never been to a trade show either...where every vendor is willing to sell you a different "Document Management" system for upwards of $10,000 that really is just a stupid crutch replacement instead of having admins actually MANAGE the file storage and keep users from saving crap all over the network where they don't need to be. I mean...these vendors can't even explain what the hell their products do half the time...I just wander over, ask a few basic technical questions and the market bimbos (I will never understand selling software with sex appeal) are filling my bag with promo junk to make me stop asking questions in front of other potential dupes...er customers. Yeah...the closed source world makes SO much more sense and is SO less complex. But hey...as long as its going strong I can go to trade shows and get bags full of free goodies. The best stuff always came from the vendor that could actually answer my tech questions...they were generally happy to have someone that could speak intelligently with them about their product and thus broke out the expensive promo stuff. :)
      • Oh yes, I evaluate document management systems from time to time and, like you, I find myself wondering why people just cannot be bothered to organise the storage. Sadly, Laptop Road Warrior is the biggest obstacle - especially when he complains that his HDD takes forever to sync because of all the rubbish powerpoint he has created in 20 versions because he is so scared of losing his creative changes. But this is not primarily a Windows versus FOSS isue, this is a "how the hell did we let ourselves get into
      • every vendor is willing to sell you a different "Document Management" system for upwards of $10,000 that really is just a stupid crutch replacement instead of having admins actually MANAGE the file storage and keep users from saving crap all over the network where they don't need to be

        No kidding -- the company I work for is implementing SharePoint for that very reason, completely screwing over those of use who use anything other than Explorer to interact with the shared directories.

    • And that's why MS have humungous testing labs, and why they don't release 0-day fixes to security problems: they've got so many scenarios to test.

      So in the Windows world you tell the customers which configurations you tested on and support. That's what the guy here is saying: the OSS world is too open-ended, it needs to slim down the number of platforms to cut down vendor testing and support burden.
    • A while ago I compared the number of dependencies [spinellis.gr] to other components between Mozilla and the Internet Explorer. I thought that the free availability of many open source components would result in a much large number of dependencies (and therefore complexity) in Mozilla than in the IE. It turned out that the opposite was true. One explanation could be that, because Microsoft isn't obliged to publish the interfaces of internal Windows components and maintain backward compatibility, Microsoft developers ha
      • A while ago I compared the number of dependencies to other components between Mozilla and the Internet Explorer.

        Uh, I don't understand your process here. Most of the DLLs you highlight for IE are well-documented parts of the OS interface - all of the DLLs in the first diagram, for instance. To pick another example you include rsabase, crypt and msasn1 as IE dependencies - these are Windows's built-in SSL implementation. Yet you don't show an SSL library for Mozilla?

        And, to be frank, who cares how many DLLs

  • Generally UNIX systems have much steeper learning curve - it takes longer to learn how to use them but then the user/admin/developers "performance" is much higher. So on the 1st or 2nd look it can look complex but once you start thinking how would YOU design these systems to "fit", then most of the time you'll come to the same solution as already exists - think PAM, X11 (protocol is crap but design is good), pipes, all-config-in-text-files etc.
  • Eh? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bloodredsun (826017) <martin@bloodredsun . c om> on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @07:53AM (#15864867) Journal

    Sorry, but I read this as "Choice is confusing - stick with what you are comfortable with. Hey look, that's us!"

    This sort of gibberish is what you would expect from the most popular product in the market who are being challenged for the first time in a while.

    • This just in.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rob T Firefly (844560)
      ..Microsoft says exaggerated nasty things about their competition in order to sway people their way.

      In other news, there will be weather today.
    • Re:Eh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MadJo (674225) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @08:39AM (#15865063) Homepage Journal
      hmm which Vista version do I want...
      Yup, they really don't offer any choice, do they? And they aren't confusing their customers at all, right?
      • You are concerned about MS customers being confused. MS is concerned about people who are not their customer being confused. They don't give a shit about the former. They are already hooked. Same reason roughly you don't court your wive. She lost that privilege when she said yes, she is now yours and you expand your energy on the cute girl in the office.
  • by Eivind Eklund (5161) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @07:54AM (#15864868) Journal
    I am used to working with open source and I'm fairly used to working with proprietary software. I find it much, much harder to work with e.g. MS-SQL than either PostgreSQL or MySQL, as the resources around it is missing. MS-SQL has a ton of tutorials and screenshots and stuff for the proprietary stuff, but there's no working support community (I can't go on IRC and talk to a developer), the configuration systems are long and complex (probably because the developers do not use them to configure things and do not do support), and the use of graphical interfaces make the tutorials long and clumsy ("Now press "OK" in the dialog that had a screenshot just taking up half the page" is noticably more icky than "").

    To add insult to injury, when the stuff is in trouble, I cannot go to the source code and find out what's up or fix that stupid error message that says "Cannot open file" but nothing about WHICH freakin' file.

    In sum: I find open source much, much easier to support. When there's a problem, I can talk to other people that have had the same problem *and have had the resources to fix it*, unlike e.g. Microsoft support. (Microsoft support have actually called me to find out how to fix a problem in a Microsoft product - a problem that should have been trivial for them to debug if they had code access.)

    Eivind.

    • Especially because it's funny that you pay so many X dollars for proprietary support, and open source support is just so much easier to deal with. That's just sad on Microsoft's (and other software vendors - Oracle, I'm looking at you) part.

      The guy on the street corner shouldn't have a better watch repair system than the guy in the jewelry store.
    • Interesting, I've never had need to talk to a MS-SQL or any database developer to use any of the database products I've used. I've worked on some pretty complex databases and queries as well.

      My experience with PostgreSQL some time back was much worse than any experience I had with SQL Server. The online documentation failed to match anything resembling the actually installation that existed. After having expending a fair amount of time figuring out my Linux install and how to build the kernel hitting this
      • Interesting, I've never had need to talk to a MS-SQL or any database developer to use any of the database products I've used. I've worked on some pretty complex databases and queries as well.

        It's mostly a matter of convenience - the developers give better support, and the network of people around it give superb support. I suspect you have been trying to work with open source without knowing how to exploit the network around it.

        As for increasing complexity (losing design) and lacking finish, that depends

  • by inflex (123318) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @07:55AM (#15864873) Homepage Journal
    Supporting -Linux- from a cold-start is a pain, not OpenSource.

    With Solaris and FreeBSD (as examples) you know what you're in for when you get there. With linux you never quite know for sure. Sure, you can gear yourself up with most of the more common setups (Debian, RH, etc) but beyond that things fracture into thousands of variants. From starting scripts to configuration files, it's a mess.
    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @08:13AM (#15864942) Journal
      This is one of the fundamental things that Linux advocates rarely get. From a user perspective, there are about as many differences between Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SuSE as there are between FreeBSD and OpenBSD, or Solaris and some other SysV variant. The fact that they have the same[1] kernels makes little difference.

      You can run Debian with a few different kernels and, apart from differing levels of hardware support, there is no difference from a system administrators perspective. Code written for one POSIX-compliant will usually work on another if the same shared libraries are the same.

      Saying you support 'Linux' is silly. It's like saying you support 'UNIX.' Saying you support RHEL makes sense. RHEL[2] is a complete operating system with a set of defined library versions, a documented filesystem layout, a minimum specified set of supported system calls, etc.


      [1] Modulo a few hundred vendor-specific patches.
      [2] Substitute your distro of choice here.

      • If I had moderator points, I'd mod up the parent post.
      • Agreed,

        Also, this mithic "Linux OS" hurts the image of all distros... Because it's too hard, because nobody supports it, because it's not ready for the desktop, because it doesn't support hardware X, because it doesn't play DivX movies out of the box, etc...

        When some clumsy, half baked, buggy distro get's a bad review the press don't say "Clumsy Distro X sucks", they say "Linux sucks", and this is just plain wrong!

        People must understand that Linux is a kernel, and must understand that RedHat is not Debian t
    • The main problem with Linux and OSS that I've seen is poor documentation and poor support. This is not so important for the high-end geek community that really knows what they're doing--but it's a NIGHTMARE for less sophisticated users and IT managers used to Windows' simple "Plug and Play" approach.

      And, yes, I'm aware that it's more like "Plug and Pray" with MS's security problems.

      To the unsophisticated user; simply sticking in a disc, installing an OS or program is the de facto norm with Windows and p

    • You are saying that someone who knows solaris AND FreeBSD (or for that matter anyone who knows TWO operating systems (and no not windows 98 and XP)) has trouble when being shown a third that is based on the same ideas?

      Yes there are various different ways to handle the startup of the various unix like systems out there but anyone who has already learned about TWO different ones will have learned a very important lesson. Things differ, so what.

      I sometimes think it is a modern ailment because of windows clic

  • by Famatra (669740) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @07:59AM (#15864887) Journal
    Simple, have standards that people/distributions can *choose* to follow.
    Projects such as Linux Standard [freestandards.org]
    Base (and others, list / talk about them if you know of them) allows
    distributions to have a common point and common environment.

    I think GNU/Linux will learn from the fragmentation of Unix. Part of the
    reason why Unix didn't develop a standard was that each closed version was
    competing against eachother for customers. With Linux there is no to-the-death
    competition since the work is shared and co-operative.
    • by Anonymous Conrad (600139) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @08:12AM (#15864940)
      Simple, have standards that people/distributions can *choose* to follow. Projects such as Linux Standard Base (and others, list / talk about them if you know of them) allows distributions to have a common point and common environment.
      Sure but if you write your app for the LSB environment and 10 distros (say) claim LSB compatibility then you can't realistically assume it'll just work on all of them: you need to test it on all 10. Sure, that is the idea, but in the real world it's never quite that simple. (It's the Java write-once-run-everywhere myth: all the JVMs are written to the same standard, right, so why doesn't all Java code just work everywhere as intended? Because every JVM and environment has its own set of bugs and quirks. It's a great idea, it just falls down in practice.)

      So you still need to do 10 times as much testing. And you still need 10 test environments set up so you've got the right distro at hand when your customer calls with problems. Etc.
  • stupid FUD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grindcorefan (959282) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @08:01AM (#15864893) Homepage
    Ryan Gavin's statement about Free/Open Source Software being to complex is a complete no-brainer and doesn't even remotely reflect reality.

    The truth is, complexity in computers and computer software is a tricky thing to tackle. As computer systems become more complex, complexity itself becomes a problem as integrating all the different components of high-complexity software into a working system as a whole is getting more difficult.

    The perfect example is ms's own windows vista. That piece of software is so complex ms just can't get it to work properly. Delays are the logical consequence. Otoh, Free Software profits from having the source code available, not necessarily reducing complexity but making it easier to get along with it.

    Summary: Complexity is a problem for software, but it doesn't matter if that software is free or non-free. Ryan Gavins statement is just what you would expect it to be, a stupid piece of FUD that might sound somewhat sophisticated to a non-guru but every proper software engineer would be rofl about.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Software is complex. Incredibly complex. Horrendously complex. All software. No exceptions. It's a fact of life.
    • by anothy (83176) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @09:17AM (#15865302) Homepage
      if this is what you learned from Software Engineering 101, you should go demand your money back for your entire education. you've learned all the wrong lessons.

      yes, most software is complex, but it doesn't have to be. the complexity generally comes from a few areas, like legacy support and poorly thought out design compromises. compare, for example, the Plan 9 kernel, which is ~180k lines of code for about a half dozen architectures, to linux, which is... well, an order of magnitude more than that, at least, even stripping out the vast driver support. it's also better structured and more readable. then compare other components: plan 9's ndb with Unix's whole host of files in /etc (how many files contain some combination of hostname, ether addr, IP addr, and so on?). and that's just low-level stuff. move up the stack towards the user and it gets more and more true. Apple's Safari is such a great experience for most people who use it because it's much simpler than most of the alternatives, say IE 7. the land-line telephone world retains many of its customers because mobile phones are more complex to use. software doesn't have to be complex, and folks like you who assume it does produce most of the complex code, because you've given up. and once you give up on trying, sure, it all looks like it has to be complex. it's a nice self-reinforcing fatalist outlook.

      sure, sometimes complexity is unavoidable. but we should strive to make that the exception rather than the rule. and it can be, if we put the effort into it.
  • by Woek (161635) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @08:05AM (#15864911)
    Gavin noted that the flexibility of open-source software in meeting specific business needs also means systems integrators and ISVs have to grapple with complexity costs
    Is he suggesting that a lack of flexibility in closed source (Windows?) is a feature?
  • by thogard (43403) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @08:07AM (#15864918) Homepage
    I'm finding most software I'm running today is far more complex than it needs to be. With open source you can look at the source code and maybe understand why its too complex but most of the time its just a developer taking a short cut.

    We all have examples of complex software gone bad. I'm guessing the 1st open source example of this is sendmail 5. Its complexity was required for what it used to do and that ended up leaving lots of holes in lots of systems over the decades. For a while people learned from that mistake. IDA Sendmail cleaned up the config. Bind's config files were redesigned. CERNS web server was excessively complex and the developers of NCSA http learned lots of lessons from that. The Apache team learned from there mistakes. Today Apache 2 is much simpler in most cases that CERN's server was even though it does far more.

    The major issue with complexity today is the confusion between an Operating System and an Operating Environment. Linux is an OS but Ubuntu is an OE. OS X has Mach as an OS but several OEs including FreeBSD.

    I like the KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid) for daemons and opening systems. That means every step of starting the system should be clear and easy to understand. That means being able to read the config files (no binaries or unreadable XML please). It means that programs should use a limited set of shared libraries (Solaris init needs a buggy XML? why?) The OE can be as complex as needed but the OS should be simple and clean. If you forget that, your system is going to be owned by some script kiddie.
  • The complexity involved in writing open source is equal to that of writing closed source - the poster confuses open source vs. closed source with single-platform vs. multi-platform. Observation: A lot of closed-source software runs only on windows. A lot of open-source software *also* runs on windows. In this context, it is true that open source is more complex than closed source, because it is more flexible.

    There aren't a lot of differences to expect in compiling a package under Redhat, or Suse, or Debian.
  • ... why does Microsoft feel the need to spend so much time bashing it. Why doesn't Microsoft just let the simplicity, reliability, security and value of their own software speak for itself?

    The problem that Microsoft faces, is that their own software does speak for itself, and is provides a convincing argument that Microsoft's proprietary closed-source model is failing.

  • 1. Is open source more complex? Answer: No, consider SAP.

    2. Is it hard to develop for Linux deployment? Absolutely. There's too much worry about what libraries are going to be available on a particular distribution. At the company I work for, we have pretty much given up development for distribution to arbitrary linux systems. Now we put our software onto a LiveCD using Knoppix, so that we know the platform will have the right utilities, libraries, etc.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @08:21AM (#15864973)
    This is the same argument MS used for Java for years. It isn't true for Java either but it amazing how many people ended up believing it even here on slashdot. The fact is most large systems are pretty complex. The art of writing software is giving the person who uses it the impression that it is very, very simple. Take Goggle for instance. The search engine does some truly staggering stuff to return results to you when you type them in that box. You don't generally think about this because it works.

    Now think about how often when using an MS product you suddenly realise that it is doing some really clever stuff because it doesn't actually work. An example:
    Excel used to have a limit on the number of characters in a cell. That limit was 255.
    The limit was lifted, in, I think Excel 95.
    However if you have a worksheet that contains text greater than 255 characters you can't copy the sheet to a new book. If you use the copy paste commands from the window bits of formatting get lost. If you use the "copy sheet" function Excel will truncate any bit of text longer than 255 characters. If you use the same function but perform a move instead of a copy it works just fine. Now that is complex.
  • It's about the same (Score:3, Interesting)

    by yancey (136972) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @08:22AM (#15864980)
    Having managed both Windows and Linux systems in an environment with 500-1000 machines, I can say that the workload ends up being about the same. If someone were to tell me that managing Linux is "too complex", I would respond by saying that you just haven't yet learned Linux, but perhaps have learned a specific distribution. In essence, Windows is a single distribution and learning only one is easy enough. However, once you understand the fundamental concepts of Linux (or any unix-like OS), adapting to a new distribution is relatively easy. There is a learning curve with Linux, but there is with Windows too. Just ask anyone who has switched from a Mac to Windows. If you're not willing to learn, then you're just lazy.
    • I agree with this in general. When working with software there are several layer of abstraction that one must understand in order to really be productive. Too many people spend time learning the specifics of one OS or one distribution, and are at a loss when it comes to using something marginally different. In essence, I think it's the same problem that we berate users for. A user learns how to copy and paste something in Application Foo, but then when they open up Application Bar they are at a loss, ev
  • Maybe training (Score:3, Insightful)

    by globalar (669767) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @08:23AM (#15864981) Homepage
    Open source communities, including users, foster somewhat different attitudes and habits about software complexity. In a way, I expect an OSS package to show me its complexity up front. I want to know more about what my software is doing, how to configure it, etc. I don't "buy" OSS based on how shiny it is or whether or not the salesperson was attractive. And I try not to buy out of sheer ignorance either. So complexity - or someone's idea of it - is a definite plus. Much better than half-assed "simple".

    For a Microsoft product, I fully expect that its going to balance stupid with too-simple. Thus its usefulness to me is significantly diminished. But I know people who are exactly the opposite, and look at a Microsoft product as keeping them from having to know things about their computer. Me, I'm more worried that I don't know enough ;)
  • by jbarr (2233) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @08:24AM (#15864988) Homepage
    At some level of computing, it's going to be complex.

    I personally think that the "certification boom" really insulated many people from the reality that computing systems are, in general, complex. Many IT/IS people became so pigeon-holed that they came to believe that their little corner of the IT/IS world was all there was. Now, it seems that diversity of knowledge is again becoming the desired hiring trait over uber-specialization.

    Besides, flexibility typically comes at the cost of complexity.
  • by Noryungi (70322) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @08:28AM (#15865010) Homepage Journal
    Long answer:

    Is open source difficult? Yes, if you are just an average user. No, if you are a system administrator-type of user and that you manage information system for a living.

    If you are just an end-user, someone who uses computer to do something else (creative work, accounting, marketing, sales, whatever) and you don't know anything about computer, then yes, I guess Open Source is still too difficult for you... unless you have a sysadmin close at hand to (a) install your machine and (b) make sure it's updated regularly. Then, Open Source can be -- should be -- just as easy (if not easier) than Microsoft products. Open Source GUIs, such as XFCE, KDE or Gnome, once installed and configured properly, are just as easy and friendly as Windows. Of course, the ultimate in user-friendliness is Mac OS X, but that's another story.

    Please note that the term "user" -- as used above -- is not negative at all in my mind: I can perfectly understand that your job has nothing to do with computers, and that you don't have the time, or the inclination, to learn more about computers. And no, I don't think there is such as thing as a "Power User". Either you know enough to manage your own machines, or you don't. People who know just enough to be dangerous, but not enough to clean up the mess they have made, are users in my mind. Dangerous ones, but users nonetheless.

    On the other hand, when it comes to system administrators, Open Source wins hands down. Things like Apache, vsftpd, NFS, CUPS, perl/python/shell scripting and, especially, OpenSSH make my life (and the lives of countless other people) so much easier than their Microsoft counterparts. Plus, they are a lot cheaper than all the Microsoft products, they are more reliable, easier to manage, upgrade, patch and install. Seriously, consider the following examples to upgrade a machine or an application:
    1. Debian: sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
    2. Slackware: sudo upgradepkg ./*.tgz
    3. OpenBSD: sudo pkg_add -u -vvv -i
    4. Etc...


    Sure, to get to the stage that you actually can type these commands under OpenSSH and know what they do, you need to put in a lot of work. But the result is worth it. And, if you are a sysadmin worth his/her salary, you'll probably have a passion to learn that kind of things. Once learned, these commands result in less downtime, less cost, more customer satisfaction and a more efficient company. All in all, Windows, with its lack of security, Registry Database, its rather ugly GUI and its general flakiness is not good enough or "simple" enough when it comes to systems that must run 24/7 and support dozens, or even hundreds of users.

    Linux, on the other hand, may not ready just yet for the desktop. But it will one day. Which is probably why there is an un-ending stream of FUD coming out of Redmond these days...
    • Much the same could be said for prorietary software (ie, Windows) - it's just that adminless users come accross the "complex" bits at different points in time. I have yet to meet a windows user who has not had thier computer become unusuable at least once - so they end up with the complexity of getting it back up and running. With Linux, you mostly hit complexity when you want to initially install Linux or new hardware, after that it pretty much just runs (and with Ubunutu, a lot of people aren't even runni
  • Pretty much all implementations of Linux follow the same layout, /bin, /etc, ... Yes it's different from windows and yes there are some slight variations, but once you learn the concepts and discover that ascii configuration files are vastly superior to binary registries you will find that it is much easier to deal with. Most distributions also provide a set of simple and easy to use gui interfaces for configuration that make everything accessible to those who do not like to deal with ascii files. windows o
  • Seriously. One of my favorites really thinks 192.169.1.0/24 is a valid private ip address.

    Since the "Suits" perception of "IT Expert" is a Windows Monkey who is better than they are, needing to actually UNDERSTAND how it all works together isn't a requirement.

  • by Ranger (1783)
    If Microsoft says open source software is too complex, it must be so. Gosh, I'd have to say Microsoft nails it on the head every time they open their mouths about open source. This proves yet again that a Slashdot post has a intelligent headline and insightful blurb. Oh, and by they way, monkeys might flight out my ass.
  • ...This is marketing bluff. I'm doing administation for both Linux and Windows (NT/2000/XP). At some point I really prefer to have a Linux system. Sometimes difficult to understand. But a Distribution from SuSE or Redhat is coming with nearly all features included and working. You know where the stuff is! When it comes to Windows administration, it is not only DLL Hell, it is also tools hell! Want to do something special, it always comes to a special tool you need to pay for...
  • How to export messages from outlook or migrate them to other accounts? M$ answer, get exchange or some shareware to do it (with free shareware screens and reminders, cool). Linux answer: backup one or two in evolution (WTF, evo guys?) and have them in an open and parseable format. Who's complex?
  • Why is this a problem or even a downside to MS ?

    People who make Open Source never ask such question, so perhaps MS should make their engineers think of why this is so, instead of asking others. They are the company with lots of great minds, aren't they ?
    Is this question even relevant at all ?
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @08:55AM (#15865135) Homepage
    Open source is ready and IS used in business today. Many are even 100% open source because thay made that decision when they were small enough to not have the mess of an IT infrastructure that makes it near impossible to change over.

    Where I am now we are 100% Open source except for vendor specific tools that are given to us by the vendor. The IT team here works hard to make them work under Wine so that we are 100% functional. New Sales people get over no windows and no Office2006 within 4 days and are as productive in open office and ubuntu as they were in windows.

    Upper management and unskilled IT that cant handle standing outside their box are the #1 reason that open source is ignored and they buy yet another "solution" from a vendor.

    REality - closed source vendors DO NOT give better support than Open source. Been there done that hearing the "that will be fixed in the next major release in 2 years" so many time I want to strangle them on the other end. MSFT tech support is 100% worthless from the OS level to the enterprise level apps (sql2003 enterprise)

    I get better support from the people that write the Open source stuff. IF you PAY THEM the developers will bend over backwards for you.

    The article is 100% fud.
  • by forsetti (158019) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @09:02AM (#15865182)
    The comparison is not Windows vs. Linux. It is Windows vs. Redhat Linux vs. Solaris vs. Novell Linux vs. Debian Linux vs. AIX ...

    "Windows" is not comparable to "Linux" !!! One does not run "Linux" (generally), one runs "Redhat Linux", or "SuSE Linux", or "Debian Linux".

    Therefore, it is necessary to compare the complexity of Windows with the complexity of a single Linux distro. If your Microsoft-friendly organization would be willing to consolidate on Windows, then your analogous Linux-friendly organization would be willing to consolidate on a single Linux distro, avoiding the multi-distro complexity.

    If your organization is heterogeneous, and that is your "complexity" concern, then Windows is actually your problem! If you run or write software for multiple Linux distros, AIX, Solaris, HP-UX, and Windows, which one is the odd-ball? Admin'ing *nix systems is all similar, while Windows is *much* different. Porting from one *nix to another is easy, compared to porting *nix to Windows or Windows to nix.

    I will grant that MS Windows provides a tighter integration for MS SQL, Exchange, and AD, than (for example) Novel or Redhat Linux provides for the database, groupware, and authN/authZ software included in their repositories. That is the cost of flexibility, which is oft balanced by the savings of flexibility. But this article attempts to pin the cost on the variation of distros, which is not correct.

    The comparison is not Windows vs. Linux. It is Windows vs. Redhat Linux vs. Solaris vs. Novell Linux vs. Debian Linux vs. AIX ...
    • He's not talking about the complexity compared to Windows, he's talking about the complexity of developing for a shifting environment. Linux comes in hundreds of different dstros, each with varying degrees of customization, not to mention the ability to completely customize the source itself, further adding to the target that vendors would be aiming for.
  • It's NOT complex to develop software to run on an Open Source platform. It only becomes complex when you try to conceal the source code from users. The configure - make - install process generally works well, unless the packager ballsed up and forgot a dependency that didn't get autodetected.

    This method worked really well for Microsoft Windows -- absolutely nobody can ever copy it because they can't see the source code. Wheras all the high-end proprietary Unix programs that came in a source tarball wit
    • I've tried to install TA Spring on Debian and at this point I'm of the opinion that there shouldn't be libraries on the end users computer at all. Put the onus on the developer to decide if a library is too buggy. Make the source code available, but ultimately, just have binaries. How many years have we been playing with package managers?

      Keeping track of libraries and versions is just crazy and offers no benifit to a user who just wants to install the software and get it to work. Yes, it will increase the d
  • I keep going over this with people all the time: Complexity is a by-product of design decisons, including features. The more connections you make, the more complex the system.

    I believe that attributing complexity to "Open Source" is a mis-applied cause. A cause is defined as something both necessary and sufficient to explain the effect. The article does not describe the problem domain in enough detail to support the argument. The complexity is a result of arithmetic, not "Open Source".

    In the old days, doing
  • I don't know about the rest of you guys but, I kind of like MS thinking Open Source is too complex for them.

    To make tasks appear simple usually requires a very complex but well thought out plan, implemented with some elegant code.

    So I submit maybe we still aren't complex enough. I like the way my brain hurts at the end of every day, makes me feel alive.

  • Well, some parts really are more complex. That's usually because there's more things to tweak. Setting up Samba, for example, is a bit harder than enabling file sharing on Windows, but then you can excercise more control over how Samba does things while Windows gives you the choice of doing it it's way or not doing it. More control = more controls.

    On the other hand, a common lament about the "complexity" of Linux from the Windows side is "But on RedHat startup scripts go in /etc/rc.d/init.d but on Debian t

  • by smcdow (114828)
    It's not that open source is too complex. The problem is that most IT and SW dev people are as dumb as rocks. And even smart IT people and SW devs are too chickenshit and/or lazy to take any initiative to self-teach themselves anything that's not right in front of them. It's all a part of the "Software Engineering Industry Going Down the Drain" zeitgeist.

  • by Da Web Guru (215458) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @09:35AM (#15865415)
    1) User -- For the average user, due to great advances in user-friendliness, learning how to use Linux is just about as difficult as learning how to use Windows. The names of the programs are different, however they all do similar things.

    2) Admin -- This is harder in Linux. In windows, there are only a few differences between configuration locations between Win2K, XP, Win2K3, etc., and of course the registry is a common feature among all versions of Windows. In Linux, differing software package formats (rpm, deb, tgz, emerge, ports, etc.), differing configuration file locations and formats, differing startup scripts, differing authentication systems, and various other minor differences make managing one distro almost a completely different experience than managing another distro. Some distros have decided to use similar tools, however there is still enough variety to make things way more interesting than necessary.

    3) Developer -- It is fairly difficult to release binary packages of your software when you don't know whether or not a particular library will be present on the target system. A package compiled for RedHat Enterprise may or may not work on a Fedora system, and will almost be guaranteed to not work on a Debian/Ubuntu system without a lot of library mangling. You can't just say "let the end-user compile the software on their system", because certain large-scale software products (i.e., ones that are very expensive and include commercial support) are not released with source code (for obvious reasons). Also, even if they did support multiple distros, they would have to deal with annoying miscellaneous issues such as whether a particular library file is present in /lib, /usr/lib, or /usr/local/lib, whether a particular distro changes library version numbers and doesn't contain a recent enough library, whether or not the distro has an autoupdate tool that can be used to update a single library without breaking anything else, etc. So, large-scale software manufacturers choose to restrict what distros they provide support for, due to the fact that they do not want to be responsible for supporting some random distro that they have not heard of or done any testing on.
  • by dskoll (99328)
    We sell commercial software. We have customers running our software on many versions of Linux (Red Hat 8, 9, Fedora Core 1 through 5, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 and 4, Debian, Gentoo, Slackware), Solaris and FreeBSD.

    If you make yourself aware of portability issues at the outset, it's not a big deal to write portable software. Note that we only build binary packages for a subset of our supported platforms; source packages take care of the rest. (Yes, we distribute source, though not open-source.)

    I don't t
  • "Our stuff is better than the competion because mix(fear,uncertainty,doubt,buzzwords,technobabble, lies,brainfarts)."

    News at eleven...
  • The big win of open source is that many people can work on the same code, that work gets done faster as a result, that the code is more reliable overall. But for this to work outside of the usual suspects (Linux, Perl, Python, Apache), the architecture needs to be clean and dead simple.

    All the time, working on proprietary code for a living, I see people making bad assumptions about how code works--even though all the original developers are right there in nearby offices--and there are often big whiteboard
  • 'It's challenging for partners to build competencies to support Linux, because you never quite know what you're going to be supporting,'

    Like how? Since when does a customer demand SuSe or Redhat. It's a decision for the distributor what base OS to use. The customer doesn't even know or care what that is.

    'You don't get that repeatable [development] process to build your business over time.'

    Same flawed logic here. The developer sells the same basic system (with minor modifications) to a number of c
  • pot, meet kettle (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @11:56AM (#15866771) Homepage Journal
    Is Open Source too Complex?

    Is this from the company that already admits it can't document its own products because they're too complicated? (see EU case)

"In the face of entropy and nothingness, you kind of have to pretend it's not there if you want to keep writing good code." -- Karl Lehenbauer

Working...