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A Bold Essay From Tim O'Reilly 174

Posted by Hemos
from the tim-speaks-out dept.
skydryedblue writes "On XML.Com, there is an interview in which Tim says, that The Linux community is far too focused on the battle with Microsoft's current operating system. Some see that the big goal is to develop a competing desktop and compatible desktop applications. And while I think that's a worthy goal and Linux is doing pretty well at it, I see Microsoft much more clearly and strategically focused on what kind of software will be needed to support that next generation of computer applications, and that worries me. "
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A Bold Essay From Tim O'Reilly

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  • Part of what was addressed in this article was that the people making money and eventually controling the standards are stepping on the backs of the people who innovated. The comments about HTML are very true. I learned html from viewing source, as did most of you probobly. But with other companies adding their own additions, fragmenting, closing up the 'standards', we're going to be lucky if the W3C even comes close to keeping standards straight. Like it or not, IE is more popular, and from a users point of view a great product. They're still gaining, and eventually they will control the 'standards'. Sounds like why sendmail went commercial.

    Anyway, enough about microsoft vs oss. What struck up the most thought were the remarks on the future of the web being sites working together. I'm a regular reader of scripting.com/davenet so this is something that interests me greatly. (XML-RPC was developed by userland - scripting.com) What if every web site could talk to every other website? Right now i can put slashdot headlines on my homepage, along with a completly up to date article on todays weather. It's syndication, it's people working together, it's what make the web work, and it's changing right now. We had the trump card, we still do, we're faster and more agile than big companies.

    I probobly just rambled to much, but those are my thoughts. The beast(s) will adjust to us, and before we know it the companies will have control again. I don't know what we can do to change it other than lose our big heads about 'linux r00ls' and think about the big picture. We have a chance to change the world, lets see what we can come with, lets innovate.
  • Many of the posters to date are wringing their hands about whether the linux community should be focused on destroying Microsoft and whether this is a good or baaad thing.

    Tim's point is that Microsoft (and the world) is shifting to a new battle field.

    The protocols that Web sites provide on top of the internet protocols are becoming just as important as the internet protocols themselves. Many of these are business to business types of interactions but they are still key.

    Let me give you one small example. In my publishing business we have to provide electronic catalog information to all the online booksellers. Our webmaster is having conversations with barnes&noble.com, amazon.com, borders.com, and all the independent bookstores who want this same kind of information, and they all have slightly different formats. Now, Allen Noren, the webmaster, is trying to get all the vendors to agree on a standard. But if they don't agree, whose format do you think he's going to implement first?

    Realistically some of this will be handled by various XML standards groups (where M$ is very active) and will be relatively open in the sense that no one will want to give their competitors an advantage. However, will they be open to community input? Will the comunity be relevant in this world?

    In some cases the community will care less. However, there will be others that will be critical and the comunity better be awake.
  • ...to be a better Microsoft. I get the feeling we've been spending too much time focused on "beating Windows--" Microsoft's market today--and not trying to figure out what their market will be three years from now. No matter how well we do--even if we're ten times better than Windows--we'll still be followers, not leaders.

    We've got to get better at "the vision thing." The market for PC software is not where the next Big Thing is going to happen. Linus has talked about this, but I've been amazed how little most Linux folks have been listening: embedded, "personalized," application-specific systems are the future.

    If you must look at Microsoft for trends, look at Windows CE, not Windows NT (and I don't mean just its use on Palmtops, where it's been pretty anemic). We've got a real chance to upend WinCE if we work at it, but I think a few too many of us are PC- and Web-focused.

    So ask yourself, "what have I done to further the cause of pervasive Linux today?" Then shake hands with an EE, and take an OS where it has never gone before.

    -Ed
  • by Ozric (30691)
    It seems to me that alot of linux users hate MSFT for other reasons. It just so happens that they use Linux. But, I believe that MSFT should be made to pay for the damage they have done to the open market. Does this mean I hate MSFT ? NO I just know better, I know that my computer should not crash, I know better then to lock myself into constant upgrades with MSFT. In other words I know what to expect from MSFT products. It's just that others have been so mislead that they wonder why their NT server is having problems. What did they expect ? You bought a shiny paint job, and just got shafted by the Biggest Flim-Flam Man in the World, and any way you go it is going to cost you money to Fix it. Is that right ? NO .....

    Ok lets review,

    See Dick run
    See Dick install NT
    See NT crash
    Dont be a Dick

    Any Questions?
  • Actually, I think the better way would simply be simply to build better GPL'd Infoware/protocols.
  • I think Tim O'Reilly is bang on.

    I would like to comment on the following point by jflynn:

    We can and should ignore Microsoft on the day the following can be asserted with truth:
    1) Hardware vendors are just as likely to create drivers for Linux as Microsoft.
    2) System vendors can't be pressured successfully by Microsoft to avoid using competing products like Linux or Netscape.
    3) Microsoft no longer dominates standards thru controlling the OS platform used by nearly everyone.

    I believe that most of these can or will be asserted truth real soon now:

    1) buy any ethernet card and you will have the linux/sco/anyunix driver on a floppy with it.

    2) Dell is shipping PC's with Linux and so are doing more and more vendors

    3) This is maybe the most pertinent point: if you are talking about standards like TCP/IP or HTTP, microsoft does not control them (bye bye NetBIOS, etc.). If you are talking about using Word and Excell (which is some form of protocol: it controls the data format), this is still dominated by MS, but is it really the issue ?

    I think that the most interesting point made by Tim O'Reilly is that the battle is not at the OS level as much as the open source community seems to believe.

    Just for an example, look at the reaction created by MS last piece (about Linux Myths) in the Linux-NT war... They wanted the reaction from the community and got it... They would have missed their goal if nobody commented on it. However hordes of "hackers" (with the existing "bad" connotation of that term) yelling and screaming is much more efficient at prooving that "open source" at large and linux in particular is not serious enough for serious businesses... I think they achieved their goals with that document.

    To go back to Tim O'Reilly's piece, his message is clear: focus on what will be the battle field of tomorrow (i.e. invent it) rather than try to fight yesterday's war (which is the best OS ? we already know...).
    What will be the battle field I don't know. He is suggesting the information/web at large. Maybe, maybe not. But it's probably not the OS.

    Patrick.

  • Linus has often stated that MS is not a concern. The Open Source paradigm is a fundamental change much as PC's were a fundamental change in the 80's.

    But, a rivalry can be a good thing: The football team performs better against a cross-town rival. A commune of religious zealots can be more productive than their capitalist counterparts. A group of people perceiving an external threat will decrease the amount of space they normally keep between each other. The world would probably be very peaceful if we all believed aliens were going to attack ("my enemy's enemy is my friend").

    As long as we don't take it too far (at the end of the football game, win or loose, don't get in a fight with the other teams fans).

    Chris

  • I think the Linux Desktop is a great idea... I use 5-10 xterms along with LiCQ, Netscape, and GAIM all the time... Linux is far better for permenantly connected PCs.. (fileshares/Samba, ftp, ssh, telnet, apache/web access, etc). I don't see where people dislike a 2GB linux distro... I haven't ever installed that much... (why would you complain there is too much free software!!!?!? just DON'T INSTALL WHAT YOU DON'T WANT!
  • >And the day I see Linux hackers on war elephants is the day I buy an iMac (without LinuxPPC) :)

    Well, the day *I* see Linux hackers on war elephants (in Redmond or anywhere) is the day I check in to Betty Ford for drug-induced hallucinations.

    I am assuming that there is a difference between abusing psychotropic drugs & using an iMac. ;-)


    Geoff
  • Tim (some call me... Tim) said so eloquently what was formerly a proverb in the history of earth-shaking ideas, namely: So long as we spend all our energies justifying our own existence and/or paying too much attention to the Enemy we will never get anywhere in this world.

    Hate to say it folks, but where I come from we call groups who defend themselves and exist for their own sakes bureaucrats (all suits and hairspray). It's so easy to justify ourselves by pointing a finger at someone else, but just because someone else is wrong, doesn't mean the person/group doing the criticising is right.

    So what is to be done? The Mighty Tim has spoken. Focus on those who use our stuff and take care of them. We'll find that by taking care of them we take care of ourselves.
  • I agree, we must try to make ourselves stand out from the crowd. Look at what Apple has done. they stopped playing the M$ game and struck out on their own. Linux needs to be different enough to make sure people don't confuse it with anything else that is out there.

    I was disappointed the first time I saw KDE, it looked like Windoze. That, IMHO is not the way.

    Lets not worry about what Billy boy is doing, let's put our minds to improving our product.
    We must understand that it isn't what's on the shelves, but what's in the pipeline that is important.

  • You miss the obvious. Linux the kernel is small enough, and the desktopware (KDE/Gnome, *Office, etc, etc) is optional and all lives in user space. Adding desktopware does not make for a 2 Gb OS, and it only makes for a 2 Gb install if the user wants all that stuff. (Unlike certain other less-than-modular OS's out there.)

    This is a good thing. If I just have an old 486 box I want to run as a small volume server, I can put Linux and a few daemons on it. If I have a desktop box I want to do office work (documents, spreadsheets, email, etc) I put Linux and a few different (and bigger) apps on it. And so on. One basic underlying technology -- of proven reliability and flexibility -- so that I don't need to re-learn everything for each box, but different app layers on top customize it for what I want.

    So yes, let's see Linux better tuned to the desktop, and with more desktop apps. And lets see it better tuned for server use, for embedded apps, for whatever.
  • I agree that we need to quit playing catch-up and start setting the standards ourselves. But:

    > I see Microsoft much more clearly and strategically focused on what kind of software will be needed to support that next generation of computer applications, and that worries me.

    Never use "Microsoft", "strategically", and "next generation" in a sentence without a negation. All Microsoft's "strategy" lies in marketing and manipulation. When it comes to applications, they themselves are busy playing catch-up with Sun or whoever else made the most recent announcement. Beyond that they just implement whatever lame idea crosses their minds, without regard for whether the ideas are actually good ideas or not, and so the world is filling up with macro viruses and dancing paperclips. This isn't going to leave anyone in the dust.

    Also: I agree that it isn't Linux's natural responsibility to set Microsoft in it's proper place. But if someone doesn't do it soon, there won't be any Linux or anything else, because you'll only be able to buy hardware that only works with patented MS owned software, and you'll only be able to get on a network by running MS owned protocols. So while it isn't Linux's responsibility per se, it's urgent that someone takes them down, and Linux is the only thing around that can make it happen before it's too late.

    --
    It's October 6th. Where's W2K? Over the horizon again, eh?
  • Linux is already an feasible replacement for Windows, what more do you want? What scares me is that people want to kick MS out of the game so that everyone will use Linux instead of Windows. Well what about people who want to use windows? There are a few of them out there.

    You have to think of the larger picture here: There are thousands of software developers out there who've invested their time and money into developing and training on the Windows platform. What would you say to them? "Tough shit, you'll just have to rewrite your livelihood." Let it be by choice - let the world move over at it's own pace. By trying to kill microsoft, you're just being as bad as they are.

    So, let's show the world what we're made of - let's keep on making the best goddamned operating system this world's ever seen. But, please - don't make it personal!

    -----------

    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • I completely agree. What is wrong with people writing desktop apps? Apparently there is a demand for that in the community so go ahead and code. If the results are good, people will use it. If not, they will stay with MS.

    The Kernel-hackers don't care about the desktop and vice versa, so where's the problem?



  • But linux *does* fit on the corporate desktop. The home desktop might just take a bit longer.

    We all know that, regardless of the underlying complexity, we can make a linux system as simple or as hard to use as we want. We can build tailored systems, including a desktop, software packaging, fancy graphics, etc.. that's easy to use for Joe Average.

    The fact is, the more configurable, and the more flexible something becomes, the more complicated it becomes.
    To put it differently (I hope this doesn't sound conceited, it's not meant to be), The only way Joe Average will be able to to as much with an OS as I can is if the OS is so simple that there is a very limited number of things to do. This is simply because I have a 10 year head start into computers than Joe does.

    There isn't one linux.. there never will be.
    There should be a linux-based OS that is SIMPLE to use. (Why NOT use linux as a base?). It can have a pretty desktop, and it's apps can be upward compatable to more complex linux distributions. This can be 'linux for the masses'.
    Perhaps this is what Corel Linux will be... who knows?

    If you don't want a 2 gig OS, simply don't install 2 gigs worth of stuff! Linux may have become much bigger over the past few years, but that growth is probably linear (or better) to the number of features. The reason for it's size? Because of all the free software, there is no reason *NOT* to include it on that CD Rom (or that set of 6 CD's, or whatever)


  • If he blabbed about Transmeta's company secrets he would be fired faster than kernal patches appear. It's assanine to think because he designed an open operating system that he somehow owes you all of his employer's company secrets. Go hack in peace without a modem so you don't make yourself look like an a$$hole.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Yes, this is true, the linux community should worry about making the everything *BETTER* than Microsoft instead of worring about the stones they are throwing. Microsoft is a big company they will be very focused at eliminating the competition, and have the funds needed to develop anything needed to help. Look at the linux myth's, benchmarks, and security challenges and use that as a guide of what needs to be improved in the linux enviroment. This will move linux forward and make everybody look a bit older.
  • please!!!!!! Learn to SPELLL!!!!! YOU ARE BURNING OUT MY EYES
    Biggot - bigot ! aaaaaaaaaaaa
    i can gurantee my job and and the company can gurantee -aaaaaaaaaaa its GUARANTEE!
    personall - aaaaaa its PERSONAL!!!!!
    comparible - comparable, damn it.
  • Tim's point about Kapor and Lotus 1-2-3 is very salient and timely. Think about it. Linux has reached a point where it threatens commercial products like NT for market space, forces OSS business models into the mainstream, pressures closed-source vendors to provide products for Linux (even if they don't want to participate in the OSS process), and generally returned a great deal of industry power to the hands of the consumer. The computing community is clearly ready for the next step -- the OSS killer app phase.

    What is the killer app? Apache? Samba? There's no obvious answer, and Tim touches on this with his discussion of HTML. But he's still a little hung-up on the "web-based infoware" thing. I think the killer app that we're all waiting for isn't an app at all. The Linux/GNU/OSS movement has caused major shifts in the philosophical as well as computing landscape. The killer "app" is really the arrival of portable data. We've so commoditized the applications that it doesn't matter whether you're using Word, Wordperfect, Staroffice, Claris, a web-app, or who-knows-what else. What matters is how difficult it is to share information. Most productivity app vendors have decided to mimic MS Office 97 formats by providing converters, allowing in-format editing of MS-format documents, or using HTML as a native format, but these are only stopgaps. The next hurdle is to apply the OSS philosophy to content (data formats, interchage standards, protocols, translations), not just structure (operating systems, apps, web apps).

    We're starting to see this a little, and it seems to be following XML. GNOME spreadsheets are stored in an XML format. User-friendly XML text editors such as XMetal [sq.com] and XML Spy [xmlspy.com] are starting to show up for Windows. Oracle is starting to provide mainstream support for XML-based EDI. Consciously or not, we're beginning to think of common content formats as a global necessity. The problem, of course, is that these standards are typically built by glacially-slow concensus in a private industry forum. For example, the DTD for telecom information interchange that I was briefly involved with is maintained by the Information Products Interchange (IPI) subcommittee of the Telecommunications Industry Forum (TCIF), which is a subcommittee of the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS). [See http://www.atis.org [atis.org]]

    Buried in such a hierarchy, it's a wonder that the IPI's Telecommunications Interchange Markup standard (TIM [atis.org], an XML-compliant SGML DTD) evolved at all. It's success is due primarily to the efforts of a few dedicated individuals. Sound familiar? This parallels the way that Linus et al manage updates to Linux kernel code. We're used to thinking of open source in terms of Linux and GNU software. Tim thinks of it as inclusive of web apps touches on interchange. We need to open that up to specifically include content. If you'll forgive the analogy, I think we've covered the nouns, and we have to think about the verbs -- apply OSS to the things we DO and not just the tools we use or places to do them. Open source organizational clearinghouses and listservs need to start providing for open source development of data formats and standards, not just apps. (Not to say that anyone working on OSS XML tools for Linux should slow down in the slightest!)

    Those of us interested in data interchange, which includes anyone who ever shares so much as a text file, need to organize and communicate. If there's no standard for your data, develop one. If there is, contribute, review, and use it. (Think about harnessing all the wasted effort consumed by MS Office file format woes!) Don't let a vendor hold your data hostage in a proprietary format. The momentum behind Linux and other GNU software is driven by quality of the code and openness. Apply that to content, and the world will become a much better place.

    Jon
  • by Foogle (35117)
    And I'd be willing to bet the shoes on my feet that there are a great deal of people in the Linux community that feel the same way. Where did we pick up this whole "Microsoft must be made to pay for their crimes" mentality? I personally feel that the two OSes can coexist.


    -----------

    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • this article is very insightful in many respects. It focuses on problems in the desktop arena that I haven't seen too many other people talk about. Mainly about what would happen in open standards ceased to exist due to a monopoly. I really like the SMTP example; IF M$ could get exchange on every email server or at least a majority of them it could change the protocols just a little bit to leverage everyone else to use their products in order to compete in their markets. Imagine being forced to use Outlook compatible HTML e-mail, horrible. Open source or at least open standards let everyone compete fairly as long as they have as much talent as the competition. In 10 or 15 years I see mainstream computing not existing on the desktop or set top but somewhere inbetween. The web will most likely turn into a big hard drive rather than a huge network, not physically but access to information and applications will be network based because connection speeds are bound to increase logarithmically in that time. You'll probably think less of websites and more of places (I doubt .com's will end up being much more than a trend for businesses). The open source "movement" I guess you would say needs to start working on this sort of development right now rather than waiting to do it in responce to Microsoft or anyone else. O'Riley agrees with me on this, the killer app will be a website or net-application rather than a new kind of spreadsheet. The desktop technology has hit somewhat of a wall because there's not many places left for it to expand to, it has productivity and entertainment, the network is it's last frontier. Linux and open source can keep ahead of this by being the next killer net application or means of accessing information. If Microsoft bullied it's way into the control of netWidgets, everyone would have to use M$ netWidgets and would have to pay them handsomly for their use but if an open source group is the first to release netWidgets in a mass scale to get them universally accepted and providing open standards then netWidgets will not only become the standard they'll remain free and open. Keep the network open.
  • Actually HP gurantees that they will provide support, they gurantee the hardware and software. They don't gurantee it won't crash, but for the several thousand a month we pay for a service contract, they do gurantee the system.

    Thats what i can depend on.

    No way in hell i can gurantee a Linux box that has a new release and new kernel every 6 months. i can't possibly tell my boss i need a 20,000 dollar support contract just for the latest version.

    I think RedHat should also get into the hardware business and provide a server.. not a PC that can be used as a server, or atleast work with current vendors to have better solutions..

    Compaq does have an edge these days now.. with there alpha achitecture, and they're modified redhat and own compilers and own kernel modifications they can provide the complete system coverage much like HP.. PC's will never have that safety.. much the same under NT.. OTH some NT systems are built around NT so they run better then the average box, but for businesses, they need a coverage on hardware, software and support because they're business relies on it and so do hundreds of jobs.

  • by Foogle (35117)
    Isn't the whole idea of GPL and OSS to give people Freedom? I don't know what you meant by that comment, but what exactly do you want to control???

    -----------

    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • well, i wrote it at work.. i don't really have the time to proofread it, when all i have is a few minutes for lunch.
  • I think it's important to realize what Tim's point is here: that Linux versus Windows versus anybody else isn't the point here. It's all about building an open platform upon which to deploy the next generation of Internet applications.

    In ten years, desktop operating systems will be an endangered species. We won't care about GNOME versus KDE, or even Linux versus Windows. We'll be far too busy connecting to the universal information applications with wireless appliances, handhelds, and other "pervasive" forms of computing. Everybody's going to have a different "net widget" in their hands or on their desks. We're already seeing this today -- can't everyone use the Web regardless of whether they use Linux, Windows, or an iMac?

    The question is this: In such a heterogeneous computing landscape, how can we deploy services which are universally accessible?

    Tim's point is a very good one: That we sure can't get there if everything's closed and proprietary. We need an open platform on which to base the next generation of networked information access. Windows ain't gonna do it. Linux (alone) ain't gonna do it, either. So it's important to chart out the space of platforms which will support the new applications. And Open Source is a fantastic way to ensure that the platform remains open itself.

    For those who don't believe it, go read up on some technologies like Jini [jini.org], Ninja [berkeley.edu], and e-Speak [hp.com]. The wave is coming.

    Matt Welsh
  • Do you really want to compare Linux to politicians? Yeah, Microsoft ... ok! But Linux?
  • This is very interesting. Some people here feels that we should make a long term plan and follow that. Others feel what we are doing currently is perfectly fine. I don't agree with neither. On one hand the long term plan helps drive support from big business. This was suggested by someone here and I think he/she is right. However this limits linux in a way it has never been before. What we do right now is to brain storm up ideas and then make them. This is good in it's own way. Right now microsoft doesn't have an idea what we are going to do next year. If they don't how can they plan to react? Also with our current developmental methods we follow the "surivial of the fittest" which as some of us less religious ones here "knows" created the vast numbers of different plants and animals. Heck it created us. With this we can be sure only the code which works gets released. What I think is the best developmental structure for us is to have a bit of both. A road map of one year in my mind is the perfect solution. We never know what'll happen with the hardware world anyhow and something big could come along at anytime. One year road maps shouldn't hinder us in adding features and that's should be about the time a company needs to port most current apps. For new apps we all knows most of them are writen from the ground up by our own hackers so we need not worry about those. As for presenting a united traning and PR front we don't really really need that. If we maintain compatiblity between distros and firmly believe in the idea of Open Source we are united already. If everyone listened to what the commecial world says we wouldn't be here.
  • by cybrthng (22291) on Friday October 08, 1999 @07:52AM (#1629096) Journal
    I believe this to be true. While it is nice to develop something comparible to windows, what makes linux more advanced if its just playing catchup?
    I believe with atleast Netscape Mozilla 5.0, the open source is showing an adoption of standards, which is a good thing for any market.

    But linux, seems to be in a "wholy ware" That is dediced based on how you conform. Whats so different from being a Microsoft Biggot to a Linux Biggot? Bot OS's have there advantages and disadvantages, but someone has a direction.. and i agree, microsoft holds it.

    While Redhat, and other distributions have a release map that seems to be 6 months (from previous discussions, i still find that too short of a release cycle) there is *no* roadmap other then directly related to the kernel. There is no beta system to show a developer road map, no enduser solution map, and no training map.. training seems to be specific to distro, which doesn't mean doodoo to an admin (since all distros are familiar) but to a corporation/business specifics do matter.. so with all these certificaitons going, there is no specific cover all certification roadmap.

    Like i've express my OPINION before, i believe for linux to be stable, for personall and business use, it needs a long term plan, and short term updates. It doesn't need short term plans and long term updates :) By what i mean, slow down the release schedules, Business like 3 year product life cycles.. that means from 6-7 there should be a good few years to get your monies worth (yeah, yeah, its free. but installation/support in a business environment isn far from free). .1 releases should be minor upgrades or patch releases.. kernel upgrades should have some form of controlled distribution. and distributors should have long term plans in beta. Like redhat 7.0 for example should be in a long term beta.. throw in Xfree86 4.0, kernel 2.4 beta's, the newest kde, the newest gnome, the newest office apps, debug the system as a whole, give endusers/developers something to work with and work from, but most of all, it shows a roadmap of whats to come, and provides ample time for business to ramp up to that product

    I love linux, i'm not dissing it, i love open source, its agreat concept. but for business, it needs something i can gurantee my job and and the company can gurantee its data on. not just something i get for free or something i can look at the source at..

  • However, open source and aggressively open source licenses are not the same thing. Certainly as the legal issues surrounding open source become less vague, I hope source licenses will exists that allow me to open source my software and still protect my rights to it.
  • by smoondog (85133) on Friday October 08, 1999 @07:52AM (#1629098)
    I think a lack of focus is inherent in the Linux movement. There are no managers running around telling people what to do. I think this is, competitively, a much better strategy for large base software design because so many people want so many different things....

    M$ is very focused, they are a company. I might argue that the individual companies within the linux movement (RH, etc) each have goals and management strategies of the same feel as M$'s. I think that all of the companies together make up this so-called lack of focus. I strongly feel this is a good thing and the reason that other OS's have failed in light of M$ (such as OS/2) is because they were very similar to M$. M$ has a hold on the market, the only thing that will change that (IMO) is a radically new philosophy on software development.

    -- Moondog
  • the intro to this story referred to "Tim" without a last name so naturally I assumed it meant Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the Web (and the first Yahoo-like subject index, btw).
    but it means that windy Tim O'Reilly.
  • Although the article had many good points, and was well written, I felt like it was often talking about Open Standards (Formats and Protocols), instead of open software, which should probably be seen as a different thing. Open standards are seen differently in the eyes of the law. Once software is open source (at least under GNU), one cannot modify it and make it "their own". A company could, however, take an open standard, extend it, and make it proprietary. This is something we saw a lot of between Netscape and Microsoft during the browser wars.
    I think the distinction is important, because there is no legal way to prevent people from extending open standards. However, open standards are probably just as, if not more important to what I would like computing to be like as open source.
  • Linux is not and should not be pushed as a 'Desktop Environment' I use my Windows PCs as my 'desktop' machines and they co-exist with my Linux NFS/HTTP/Samba/(ETC, ETC, ETC...) Servers. I use my Linux Boxen for my software development and LAN Administration. Two fields (among many) that Microsoft really lacks in comapred to *NIX (IIS? *throws up in his trash bucket*) Yes Microsoft Systems are bulky, unstable, and generally just suck ass. But they are what most people use and most software is designed for it. (Plus when is Starcraft for Linux coming out? Huh? ;) ) But when it comes down to it. Linux is far better low-end server (and if you have money/time/effort, a great high-end server) then a 'Desktop' Machine

    Now don't get me wrong. Right next to my windows box I have a nice Linux box which I use for 'Desktop' Purposes. Whenever MS can't get something done that I want it to do (which happens all to often, I switch over to it.

    Also. I think that EVERY OS has their fanatics, including Microsoft (All those 3l33t h@x0r d00dz that hang out on AOL) just A. the media pays more attention to us because we are "the new kids on the block" and we have more to prove, and B. Most MS users really have no clue how to use e-mail ;)

    Plus, anyone who quasi agrees with this, ever try Be? Its a great system and it interfaces greatly with my LAN, Unfortunately the CD I had is among the missing so I don't have my box anymore (SAM! GIMMIE MY CD BACK! I KNOW YOU ARE OUT THERE!)

  • Right now we have low-level protocols like TCP/IP, we have medium-level protocols like HTTP. On top of that, we're going to have various kinds of XML-based data-exchange protocols. Dave Winer's XML-RPC is a sign of things to come. It's a bad sign that Microsoft knows more about this than the leaders of the Linux community. They've already incorporated it into a new protocol that they are calling SOAP.

    At first, I agreed with Tim. But, after thinking about it, I am not worried. In fact, I'm happy for Microsoft. Yes, they are still trying to take an open platform and engineer it into their own technology tarbaby. And this does threaten a lot of what we hold dear. Microsoft is tilling new ground, and that's good for us all. We all know their seeds won't germinate. So, in the end, there will be opportunities aplenty.

  • by jflynn (61543) on Friday October 08, 1999 @08:38AM (#1629103)
    I agree with Tim O'Reilly quite a bit. There is truth in the statement that to maintain something you should oppose it. Also that a destructive focus is not sufficient, you have to create something new, not just rail against the old.

    But, and it's a big but, ignoring Microsoft can't work until they no longer unfairly control the hardware and software markets. If merely being better than Microsoft was sufficient, BeOS would far more successful than it is today. We can and should ignore Microsoft on the day the following can be asserted with truth:

    1) Hardware vendors are just as likely to create drivers for Linux as Microsoft.

    2) System vendors can't be pressured successfully by Microsoft to avoid using competing products like Linux or Netscape.

    3) Microsoft no longer dominates standards thru controlling the OS platform used by nearly everyone.

    It would be nice if Microsoft just started playing fair. But I don't expect it. Rather I expect them to lie, cheat, and steal as necessary in an attempt to ensure dominance. Desperation is rarely pretty.

    His point about web applications being the future is worth consideration. The advantages in making large databases like Amazon and Yahoo available that way are quite clear. I don't quite see the clarity of that view when it comes to editors, compilers, or games however -- though I could be wrong, I much prefer local programs on my own computer for those.

    The other point he makes that is well worth considering is about the open nature of web development. Clay Shirkey did an excellent paper [shirky.com] on this subject a while back. You may find many of the other papers on his page [shirky.com] of interest as well.

  • Microsoft is the borg, I'm sure if they had their way they'd wipe us out. It's all about their embrace and extend that leads Linux users to resist. We fight back not because we resent MS, but if we don't Linux would die out.

    As for "roadmap," I've never seen a use for one. There are certain incremental goals, but it is stupid (in software development) to consider them more than say two years in advance. Things change too rapidly, it is more advantageous to promise less than to promise more and, as we might say, "drive off the road" into oblivion.

    MS was about ready to drive off into oblivion, but they got back on track and delivered IE and internet apps. If they were following their "road map," they would have lost to Netscape.
  • I'm glad to see a response to all the linux advocacy shown here.


    One thing, bashing MS 99% of the time is not going to benefit the Linux movement one bit. You can quote differences, make comparasons, etc, but nitpicking on every little bad(or what you percieve* as bad) thing about Windows,etc isn't going to help at all


    It's funny to see people talk about MS trying to take over the computer world(or simply "being successful"), and then they talk about installing Linux on everyone's computers, toasters, PDAs, cars, etc. So MS used by the masses is bad, but linux used by the masses is good?


    I would prefer to see a safe co-existence. I'm figuring most, if not all the slashdot readers here are not racially prejudiced, but it seems like most of them are prejudiced against Microsoft. Linux and Windows both have their good sides and bad sides. I mean, if I wanted to run a web server, I'd choose Linux. If I want to make web pages, drafting, imaging, I'd chose Windows.


    Hmm, if only all the MS bashing ever posted on here could be converted to useful source code.....
  • Now if this is the case, we have a good answer for all those people saying, "This free software thing must be a bubble because we can't figure out how anybody's going to make money at it." My argument is that people are already making more money at it than we can count.

    Very nice, but not quite right. The current media hype is a bubble that will eventually burst, but open source (ie: Linux, *BSD, Apache, Perl) got where it is now with no (or at least very little) commercial backing. If the commercial backing disappeared tomorrow, lots of us would still be hacking code for free. Remember, true innovation seldom comes from large, established players, but rather from kids experimenting around in a garage. If all the money disappeared tomorrow, Linux would still thrive in the hands of competent programmers. Open Source (for me) is not about money, bur rather about technological freedom. Think of free speech, not free beer ...

  • Linux supporters *are* spending too much time shooting m$ down. This in itself is dangerous: we could end up spending too much time criticizing and too litle time building.
    Or, in other words, we better "Walk the walk" better than we "Talk the talk"!
    Besides, Microsoft is, at the end of it, Irrelevant to us, we will win no matter what: There is no company to go banlrupt fighting them, and if we give-up there are thousands of ready, eager students for whom the ideia of a OSS OS is a sacred.

    And we *do* need to "get on with it", people seem to be loosing too much time pointing fingers and too litle time doing useful things
    "Shut up and code!" ought to be our moto...


    No, I can't spell!
    -"Run to that wall until I tell you to stop"
    (tagadum,tagadum,tagadum .... *CRUNCH*)
    -"stop...."
  • by DonkPunch (30957) on Friday October 08, 1999 @08:39AM (#1629108) Homepage Journal
    I take issue with the following quote regarding XML and XML-RPC:
    It's a bad sign that Microsoft knows more about this than the leaders of the Linux community. They've already incorporated it into a new protocol that they are calling SOAP.

    Ok, I'm far from being a "leader" in the Linux community (or any other), but I've been monitoring the XML-RPC and SOAP discussions for a while now. Many of the underlying grammars were clearly written by people who like COM. The data types conveniently mirror COM VT_xxx types. They CAN, however, be implemented in other languages and platforms. (IIRC, Zope implements XML-RPC.)

    Personally, I have misgivings about SOAP being used for real cross-platform distributed computing in the future. It just seems to make too many assumptions about data types. XML-RPC seems geared towards replacing CGI -- it specifies port 80 for all communication (which seems a little narrow-minded to me). These may still become de facto standards because they are "good enough" for most cases.

    I predict that for the next few years we will see several new XML grammars introduced. In time, we will eventually settle on a few that work best for most people. Maybe SOAP will be one of these, maybe not. Maybe it will be a derivative of SOAP. Maybe it will be something completely different.

    Right now, XML-RPC/SODL/XMOP/SOAP have momentum and the backing of Microsoft and a few authors who want to be first on the shelf with "Designing Distributed Applications with SOAP for Dummies" I'm not aware of any alternatives to SOAP right now. Maybe there is no need for one.

    If you've gotten this far in my long-winded post, you may want take a look at a few sites relating to XML and distributed computing:

    http://discuss.develop.com [develop.com] -- SOAP discussion board.
    http://www.xml-rpc.com [xml-rpc.com] -- XML-RPC specs and discussion.

    My own shameless plugs:
    http://www.maiermedia.com/lab/xml/opml.t xt [maiermedia.com] -- My OPML proposal for object persistence in XML. It's crude, but I think it has less platform affinity than SODL.
    http://www.maiermedia.com/lab/xml/ opmlsample.txt [maiermedia.com] -- A sample of objects serialized in OPML.

    At this point, I've shelved OPML because I don't see any point in competing with the SOAP crowd. If you do take the time to look at it and would like to send suggestions or feedback, my email address is donkpunch@maiermedia.com. I would love to get some input from people who aren't already convinced that SOAP is the best solution. Maybe I gave up on the idea too soon.

    Thanks.
  • Oh i forgot, that's right. I forget if you say anything nearing the opposite of MS bashing, I have to put in the obligatory disclaimer of "now by me saying this i am no way a MS advocate.." sorry i fsckin' forgot
  • "Actually HP gurantees that they will provide support, they gurantee the hardware and software. They don't gurantee it won't crash, but for the several thousand a month we pay for a service contract, they do gurantee the system."


    I don't get it what are they guaranteeing? Are they guaranteeing the somebody will be there when you call or are they guaranteeing that their software works as advertised? What you are describing sounds like a service contract. You can get service contracts from many companies.


    "No way in hell i can gurantee a Linux box that has a new release and new kernel every 6 months. i can't possibly tell my boss i need a 20,000 dollar support contract just for the latest version."

    Once again I am confused. What 20K? Why do you have to upgrade? I can see if there is some new feature you want in the kernel upgrading but that's always went pretty smoothly for me. If you have a service contract then wouln't that include any upgrading of your OS? Why are willing to pay several thousands of dollays per month to HP for a service contract and not some other company?

  • a REALLY good example of what oreilly is talking about is the current ebay vs. the world scenario where ebay is preventing crawlers such as auctionwatch and biddersedge from indexing their site, and also were lycos, msn, and other portals are creating an auction network using fairmarket as infrastructure.

    essentially ebay has a proprietary interface to the person-to-person auction market, something that is literally worth hundreds of billions of dollars. if they win by imposing their "ui" on the auction market within ~ the next five years, they can sit back and own one of the most valuable franchises around...kind of like microsoft.
  • why is this a zero???? i really don't understand the moderation around here...
  • sorry, i got a bit carried away there.
  • completely off topic, but is that a Stollism?

    nostalgia...
  • Very early on, Microsoft figured out the power of personal computing revolution. They understood the restrictive nature of the host-terminal model and relative poor price-performace and arrogance inherit in the 'mini-computer' space. (Where the vendors have always been more interested in high profit accounting systems than in the user's ability to work with the numbers the accounting system spits out.)

    This realization has lead to an enormous amount of desktop functionality crammed into Windows and Office. This has lead to enormous profits for MS and other desktop vendors. However, it's also lead to an enormous expensive mess of unmanagible systems and inaccessible data.

    Enter the web revolution. To a large degree, the ABM folks back in 1995 were right - the web does make Windows obsolete because it allows corporations to push systems off of desktops and back into the datacenter where they belong, and at a price point which makes PCs look expensive.

    And Microsoft is aware of this trend, but can't really address it straight on, because it's a direct attack on their profit base. So, they come up with basterized strategies such as "Windows DNA", where corporations are supposed to implement a network centered architecture that's all tied together by MS Office ActiveX components installed on each machine and a "web store" running on MS Exchange Server. It's a bastardized strategy, but it's their only hope to embrace (and extend) network-centric computing while enforcing the predominance of the desktop.

    What worries me is that many Linux users aren't really aware of the "management" problem inherit in PCs. While Unix is certainly more network oriented than Windows, it seems that KDE/Gnome/etc are trying to address the "eye-candy" problem much more than they are trying to address the flaws in the Personal Computing model itself. This could be because Linux developers are often students or outside of mainstream MIS organizations.

    The bottom line is that there's alot of tail chasing going on. By the time a "free" Office Suite gets to an acceptable function point and can import MS Office documents, it will already be irrelvant because those Office documents won't be "documents" any more, and instead will be locked up in Microsoft DNA-based network systems and will only be accessible by special network protocols and MS presentation software.

    I don't think anybody has a real good solution to this problem. Bits and pieces are out there (CORBA, XML, etc.), but someone has to tie them together in a way that cheap enough and accessible enough for the desktop user. Unfortuantly, that someone is probably going to be Microsoft, and folks aren't going to be happy with the results.
  • > So yes, let's see Linux better tuned to the desktop, and with more desktop apps.

    Agreed. Some of the lame press is starting to say that Linux was designed to be a server. No. It was designed to run on Linus' desktop. It just happens to be a good design, with the result that it also works well in data centers, embedded devices, and supercomputers, as well as on desktops.

    All these areas can stand improvements. But let's not get the notion that Linux isn't for the desktop. I wouldn't have anything else on my desktop.


    --
    It's October 6th. Where's W2K? Over the horizon again, eh?
  • This isn't about bullies. This is about one company that destroys other companies. MS can't destroy Linux, so they will destroy standards, make agreements with hardware companies, spread disinformation, etc.

    The focus should be on a better system, but clearly attention should be made on resisting the spread of FUD.
  • The Linux community gets bad press in large part because many of the traditional rags are more than a little dependent on advertising from such industry giants as Microsoft. Linux is the first viable competitor to the MS hegemony in years, and as such it represents a big, fat target regardless of the political or philisophical bent of its users and developers.

    In any group as large as the user base of Linux (estimated between 5 and 20 million last I read), there will be those who spout tripe, insults, and are otherwise poor "representatives" of their respective opinions. This is true of MS Windows, Linux, BSD, beos, Macintosh, and probably just about every other product and operating system on the planet. The sometimes incredibly selective quoting of Linux advocates, taken from the bottom of the barrel is interesting, if only because it provides a great deal of insight into the attitudes and biases of those doing the quoting. While I would prefer it if Linux got better press, and if those more zealous and less diplomatic advocates would hold their toungs, I think most informed people realize that the lowest common denominotor quotations which so often appear are hardly representative of the community as a whole.

    thank god for beos and bsd flavors. alternative operating systems with a leash on their respective communities.

    If I want to wear a leash I'll go visit my dominatrix, thank you very much.

  • ...the current environment where if you make your software good enough it will either be bought, stolen, assimilated by M$ depending on the day of week (or whatever makes them the most money). This, IMHO, stifles true innovation, basically forcing companies to live in the shadows to survive (much less compete), or at least avoid the attention of the big gorilla. At the very least I advocate Linux as a way to bring competition to the market and ultimately better software to my machine and my friends'/family's. (Note: better software DOES NOT MEAN more features)

  • Tim makes a great point and I'm glad he said this. Windows will not be talked to death, but more importantly, it will not be *imitated* to death. My fellow former OS/2 users can cringe with me as I recite the mantra, "a better DOS than DOS, a better Windows than Windows!"

    Whether we're talking about the OS or the applications, the traditional Microsoft architecture and the assumptions built into them are wholly and irrevocably incompatible with a *truly* networked system typified by Unix or the Internet. As annoyed as I might be with Microsoft's quality or ethics, it is ultimately their archaic single-user, local hard drive mentality that I reject. It served the purpose of bringing computer technology into the mainstream of society and providing an economy of scale, but its day is gone, as evidenced by the hilarious and/or pathetic attempts to integrate networking and multi-user capabilities into the Microsoft legacy.

    ---------------------
  • Linux needs to focus on what it does well, and how to improve the things it wants to do well but hasn't reached yet. All this focus on "anti-M$" really tends to take away credibility from the OS and the community.
  • I have to agree with this statement. Currently I'm working for a large financial institution and they are planning to migrate as much of their client PCs to thin clients and then just run all of the applications off of a terminal server. Doing this effectively means that the clients can use almost any OS, or not even have one. As Sun has demonstrated with their rather cool looking Sun Rays (Saw a demo of one, the smart card logon was really neat!), this is something the industry as a whole seems to be moving to, at least on the enterprise side. So to keep costs down we may see every thin client running a Linux of some sort, but if the servers are all running Win200x then it won't really matter because our computing experience will still be defined by Microsoft. This isn't a vision very far into the future either, there are already companies that are offering home users the ability to run Microsoft Office on an application server. Microsoft knows that the desktop is not the future, shouldn't we?
  • O'Reilly has a good point. To a large degree the current KDE and Gnome efforts, and things like KOffice, AbiWord, etc are attempts to copy Microsoft, with much less focus on doing better than Microsoft (except in terms of code quality), or on focussing on the next generation of applications and standards.

    While this (what MS referred to as "chasing taillights") is certainly necessary to capture mindshare and useful in terms of producing better apps and user interfaces for Linux, it's also a limited goal.

    How about "embracing and extending" Microsoft apps? Sure, get the functionality down, the ability to read MS Office formats, etc. But take the apps (and the desktop) a few better than that.

    Provide function (and not just bells'n'whistles, or feeping creatures) that goes beyond Microsoft's apps. (Themeability in a desktop is nice, but for most folks it's a "nice feature" rather than some critical function they'll learn they can't live without.) Find new app areas (so called "killer apps") that Microsoft hasn't even thought of yet. (Not that this is easy, but this is where the thousands of creative individuals of the bazaar can do better than the rigid structure of the cathedral. The trick is getting it to a point where it's useful before copy artists like MS can embrace and extend the new idea.)

    Is this just to bash Microsoft? No. But O'Reilly has a point about what Microsoft, via its own products, is doing to the open protocols of the net. (Go back and re-read Halloween II [opensource.org] to refresh your memory about MS targeting protocols.) If we want the net to remain open, if we want our open software to remain useful, we need to ensure that softare that embodies open protocols stays dominant -- which means being better than proprietary software that perverts those open protocols, whether that proprietary software is from Microsoft or anyone else. (It's just that Microsoft is the biggest, and admitted (via the Halloween docs) offender in this regard.)

    (And if it means embracing and extending a proprietary protocol/format to do it -- hey, that's the risk you run with proprietary protocols.)
  • Are standards groups really the key to developing successful new protocols on the net, probably not. This is going to be a crude comparison by contrast the ICQ protocol with the vcal/ical/icard/iwhatever protocol.

    ICQ was inovative and as a result of the programs success, the ICQ program spread to unofficial clients and as a result the protocl has enjoyed success..

    Ical on the other hand is the next generation calendar protocol for interfacing calenders over the net. It is being designed by a standards group that is acting more like a special interests group for its members than a council that will guide a major protocol of the future. The members of this standards group are more interested in making sure that their current market share of the scheduling application market is maintained then developing a protocol that would make all of the current scheduling applications obsolete and redundant.

    My point here is that the open source community doesn't neccessarily have to be member of a standards group or a group that projects what technology in the future will be used. Instead whats needed is a community that not only develops inovative open source ideas, but helps in the success of the best of these ideas instead of hindering them.
  • But that's the point, companies won't upgrade a Linux distribution every 6 months just like they don't upgrade to Windows 98. So I don't understand what disadvantage you see in releasing a new distribution every 6 months.

    People who want to upgrade can, whether because they want to be at the cutting edge or because the new distribution has a feature they actually need. People who don't want to presumably won't.

    Just because companies won't upgrade every 6 months doesn't mean that there aren't new features that are worth including that frequently, and companies making there initial buying decision will compare the distributions available at that time, a frequent upgrade cycle potentially gives a competitive advantage.
  • Well, golly. I, um... was just trying to be helpful.
  • Ever since Linux became the media darling and it became 'cool' to run Linux, the focus has shifted from competing with superior products such as Solaris and Digital Unix to competing with inferior products - namely Microsoft Windows. This is why Microsoft continue to post FUD rubbish on their web site, and 'accidentally' leak supposedly internal documents. It is to raise the ire of the 16-yr-old 'cool' skript kiddies, make a fuss, show the Linux community to be made up of immature 16-yr-old skript kiddies, and to retain the image that Microsoft is who we are competing with.

    It's time everyone woke up and realised we are not competing with Microsoft - we have had a far better operating system for 5 years - there is no competition, Linux wins hands down! Why waste time and energy downgrading Linux so it looks and performs like an inferior product? We're supposed to be on the bleeding edge of software engineering, not the dull edge playing catchup to someone who is already behind!

    Let Microsoft claim whatever they want. Let them print whatever lies they feel on their web site. What does it matter when nobody is listening to them? The proof is in the pudding that Unix solutions are the best. Lets concentrate on making better proofs and better puddings, and Microsoft can choke on their own vomit.
  • Linux has to have better backing, more integrated software.

    When the VP of an IS Dept looks at Linux as a server, he measures it against NT, OS/2, Netware and other NOSes. He sees that the other guys have some sort of integrated software groupware that has a ton of support behind it. He sees that Linux can match the other guys, but for support you have to go to a lot of different companies and have accounts with them. Or you have to go to the Internet (and they try to discourage Internet surfing as much as possible). Microsoft has evenrything in one neat package. NT BackOffice (SQL Server, IIS, SNA Server, Exchange Server, etc.), Site Management Server, Transaction Server, Visual Source Safe, Team Manager, Project, Microsoft Office (Excel, Word, Powerpoint, Access, Outlook, Frontpage, Publisher, etc.) and they all can work with each other and integrate and only one company is needed to get tech support from.

    This is one of many reasons why Microsoft wins as an IS standard and Linux does not.
  • I have to agree with this statement. Currently I'm working for a large financial institution and they are planning to migrate as much of their client PCs to thin clients and then just run all of the applications off of a terminal server. Doing this effectively means that the clients can use almost any OS, or not even have one.

    As Sun has demonstrated with their rather cool looking Sun Rays (Saw a demo of one, the smart card logon was really neat!), this is something the industry as a whole seems to be moving to, at least on the enterprise side. So to keep costs down we may see every thin client running a Linux of some sort, but if the servers are all running Win200x then it won't really matter because our computing experience will still be defined by Microsoft.

    This isn't a vision very far into the future either, there are already companies that are offering home users the ability to run Microsoft Office on an application server. Microsoft knows that the desktop is not the future, shouldn't we?


  • My point was that it's not about individual choice. It's about the choice of corporations/organizations. That's why this battle often gets phrased in all-or-nothing terms, because right now it is All Windows-and-Nothing Else.

    Most users have no input on what operating system they run, and therefore have no choice. (And if they have a home computer, they probably just want it to be compatible with their work computer.)
  • I think the Linux community is shooting itself in the foot by trying to play catchup with MS on the GUI front.

    Take a look at any corporation and see what OS they are running on their desktops. That is not going to change, no matter how pretty you can make your window manager! Definitely Linux's most potential is on the server "backoffice" side but instead of developing that potential we have fallen into the trap of trying to compete with Microsoft on the GUI front, while in the meantime Microsoft is pumping out more and more server tools that are shaping the protocols that will be used in future! I shudder to think of the wasted energy going into gnome/kde/whatever instead of optimising Linux as a product that can easily fit into a business's computing environment. Sure there are packages that go some way there, but there is still a lot of work to be done. It's no good arguing about front ends when the basic functionality is not as good as it could be!

    I like Linux. I like UNIX. Not because it has the potential to be a "better windows than windows" but because it is flexible, stable, and has fine grained control over resources. Forget about taking over the world. Let's just focus on getting our foot in the door of businesses, so we can keep the protocols and standards as Open as possible.

  • I run FreeBSD because I simply want the power and stability of a great OS. I don't run Windows because it's slow, unstable, a huge mess of incoherency and scattered inconsistencies. What I want in an OS is to actually have control over it. Open Source is about control and software superiority. With many people working on a project, it quickly can become best of breed. I have control over the entire OS when I use an Open Source system. If I find a bug, I can fix it.

    With Windows I have a bloated monstrosity which, while trying to be everything to everyone, is purely unuseable to me. Things are far too simplistically designed and making things "click-simple" isn't worth any of that. You're trapped in something you can't truly control, can't fix, and can't expand upon. You lose every bit of flexibility that should be possible on a computer when you run Windows.

    But, of course, you do have applications which you need on an OS, since after all, what good is an OS unless you have something to run on it? Many apps in Unix are simply much more well-done than those in Windows.

    You say you want a lightweight Programmer's OS. Unix is not that. Unix is a system that can be almost everything to everyone witout sacrificing anything. Yes, the "base distribution" over the years has grown, but so has hard drive space and memory availability, not to mention pure speed of the computers. Don't forget that in Linux a distribution is not the OS. The kernel is the OS and the distribution just happens to run on top of it. There are many distributions to choose from , and they're not all going to be bloated past belief or inflexible to configure. You make that choice when choosing between Open Source OSes and distributions.

    Also, the bloat is not the same as Windows's bloat. I can speak for FreeBSD, since that's what I run, here. There is a relatively small base system which includes the kernel, utilities, base applications, base data, base libraries and includes. This is the core of the OS. In the base you also have things for developing. development, such as the compiler, assembler, linker, debugger, and various binutils. This gives you flexibility: you have what you need, and nothing too esoteric. I have what I need to rebuild and modify the system to my liking except the source install itself.

    After installation, you can install any non-OS components you like from ports or packages. There is just about every type of program an end-user would need, and you install what you want. Sure, because of this systems become different as different configurations are made and programs installed. But the OS is still the same underneath it.

    In a closed operating system, you're stuck with what they give you without being able to uninstall much of it. The result is that you have no control over hundreds of megabytes of cruft you'll never use. Windows is appropriate for the desktop because of applications you say? Well, there are good applications for any platform. You're not going to find server applications, for instance, that are better on a closed system than for an open one. Why? When you're serious about your application, you care about the OS and what you can make it do, not the cruft surrounding it. Serious development is better done on an open platform.

    Besides, who said Windows is a better desktop in the first place, EVEN just for applications? I am writing this using Mozilla, which still has a bit of a way to go before being truly finished, but is very useable and much faster than Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer. I run LyX and get professional typesetting, not just dinky "word processing," when I use it and LaTeX. I run OLVWM and have a much nicer GUI than possible on Windows, coupled with the much more flexible XFree86 3.9.16 than Windows's GUI could be. Of course, I'm not tied down, and can change my system's GUI components at will. I have my GNOME Panel and apps, giving me the familiar toolbar (much more flexible though), a CPU meter, a mixer, themeable clock, command-line tool, application menus, and any of various small applications and dockable applets. I have my TiK for my instant messaging needs, exim and pine for mail needs, the GIMP and KIllustrator for graphics, mp3/mod/avi/mov/mpg players, audio applications including the ver-present sox, and my full development system with DDD for graphical debugging.

    In other words, I have a full desktop system, and my choice from many other apps should I ever want those. How can you say that Windows or BeOS are the only systems which should be on desktops when it's obvious a better OS than Windows can have everything else you'd ever need, too?

  • Didn't Apple deliver the GUI? Apple is another wild card in the whole issue anyways. Though many will be hard pressed to take it seriously, Apple is making huge strides with their new systems (iMac, iBook, G3, G4, etc.) and there are still hundreds of millions of people on the planet (in the country even) that are still not wired... I see the whole notion of supply/demand being obliterated by the fact that supply will become endless (at least in this industry) and demand will be not for simple products but for incredible products -- which will be non-existent as long as one entity (MS) has the power.
  • When IBM wanted an OS - MS delivered
    When users wanted GUI - MS delivered
    When Busines demanded std apps - MS delivered
    When IT wanted client/server - MS delivered

    Tactically, MS has reversed roles:

    MS delivers a network - people use it
    MS delivers a browser - users take it
    MS delivers music - people listen
    MS delivers auctions - people bid

    MICROSOFT know they are in the *Delivery* business. Linux has delivered an OS - people use it and MS notices... MS is reiforcing its franchise by Golden Handcuffing delivery customers with services.

    Linux would do well to consider what & how best to foster delivery services within their own franchise - before they lose that...

    /. delivers news/info - Techies love it
    RH delivers support - users buy it
    (add to list your best business case)
  • I've got a few problems with what this gentleman says. He says that Raymond comes down too hard on the FSF, and that Linux couldn't have happened if the tools from GNU hadn't been there. I was around then, and it would have been harder, but other tools WERE in place at the time. Linux sprang from a disastisfaction with Minix among other things. There were tools that were built from this starting point that would have made the difference. I think he is wrong on this point.

    He also talks about a "Special case of Applied Science" for what OSS folks do. Why not just call it "Engineering???" Why does he have to make up a new set of words for an old concept?

    Generally - this article comes off as something aimed at deflating ESR's sails. He's using inflamatory words such as Marxism to describe what ESR wrote. I didn't see that concept in Eric's writtings myself. Is there a hidden agenda some place?


  • Yup. I think you and I are barking up the same tree.

    Desktop OSes are a zero-sum game - and that fact creates alot of harsh will and frustration among Linux advocates facing a situation that's de facto "Windows everywhere". Note that I don't include myself in the "Linux Advocate" column, just making an observation about the Linux advocacy culture.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 08, 1999 @09:03AM (#1629147)
    Tim's point is that Microsoft (and the world) is shifting to a new battle field

    Yes, thank you. Exactly.

    Let me see if I can concretize this a little, at least from my point of view.

    Right now, if I want to buy books over the Net, I go to Amazon. Now, I dislike Amazon's web site. It's carefully designed to feed me all sorts of data that I don't want. Amazon doesn't want me to buy the single book I decided to buy; if I do that, they've lost. They want me to buy dozens of books, *and* sign up for Amazon mailing lists, *and* move my book conversations from Usenet over to Amazon-managed chat boards, *and* put buy-from-Amazon links on my web pages.

    I despise that. (Other people don't, but I'm talking about me right now.) I dislike that for many of the same reasons I dislike using Microsoft software. They're ignoring my goal, and in some cases deliberately making it harder, because their goals are totally different.

    So. What if Amazon (or whoever) builds their entire web presence on Linux and Perl, and I use Lynx to shop there? Is that a victory for open-source software?

    Yes and no. Yes, because they're using OSS, and that has benefits (stability, low costs, interoperability, choice of browser.) But no, because no matter what software is involved, I'm still having this crappy time buying a book.

    This is O'Reilly's point: that the "no" part of that is going to get very important compared to the "yes" part. I agree; that crystallizes a whole bunch of my misgivings about the way the Net is evolving. If the OSS movement is about choice, I want choice about what I do. Five years ago, that was to run applications on a desktop machine. I still do that, but now I also buy books on the Web. Times a-change.

    Here's the question, I guess: how can the principles of open software development be applied to, well, whatever the buzzword is for the Next Thing?

    Obvious answer: Have Amazon offer shopping data, in a standard interchange format, so people can use it without going through Amazon's idea of a book portal. (That's what O'Reilly had in mind, and why he was talking about it on XML.com, hint hint.)

    Obvious followup: Why should Amazon bother? They've got a proprietary lock on what they do, and they're making money on it. (Sound familiar?)

    We need to think about what advantages an open approach offers to that -- analogous to the advantages that open-source development offers to software. Then, of course, we have to convince the web sites.

    -- Andrew Plotkin (erkyrath@netcom.com)

  • by Gray (5042)
    Big IMO over whole message.

    Microsoft sees Linux as competition, but the reverse doesn't need to be true.. Linux doesn't need market share or marketing.. That's all money stuff, and linux doesn't care about that right?

    What ever happened to Linux being 'our' OS. It does what we need, and if we need more, we'll add that.. If you can figure out a way to make a living supporting it, great..

    How is getting every user and journalist to install going to help anything? Great, more clueless people to support.. Those with clues will find linux when they come to need it, and hopefully become useful community members, not just whiney twits..

    Let MS take all the market share they want.. Ask anyone who's worked tech support how great that share is..
  • This could be because Linux developers are often students or outside of mainstream MIS organizations.

    Well, I have observed a fair amount of eye-candy-producing software (theme managers aren't really what I need) from the linux folks at times. Perhaps once it's been done, it'll stay done and some more practical work can get done.

    The bottom line is that there's alot of tail chasing going on. By the time a "free" Office Suite gets to an acceptable function point and can import MS Office documents, it will already be irrelvant because those Office documents won't be "documents" any more, and instead will be locked up in Microsoft DNA-based network systems and will only be accessible by special network protocols and MS presentation software.

    This point is RIGHT ON! It also shows that its author was one of the few who seems to have actually understood O'Reilly's point. Microsoft has been trying for years not so much to preserve their current monopoly, but to win the next round, and not let some company do to them what they did to IBM. To this explicit end they have spent vast sums on MSNBC and web properties, bought Hotmail, etc, and fought hard to keep their fingers in every little pie (cf AOL/IM battles). The risk of any company setting the standards for business-to-business data protocols on the web is that whoever holds the keys to those standards can effectively force adoption of specific client software and the operating systems that run them, impose new monopolies, and restrict the freedom of others to innovate.

  • Luckily I have not been spoiled by any 'real' linux-experience whatsoever.

    But for me the best book about Linux so far, I thought anyways, was an O'reilly book. The Brown one with the horse.

    Even though for so many years I didn't feel that books that looked, like they were for experts only, could be anything for me.

    It made more clear to me than the SUSE 6.2 manual (which is actually the best SUSE manual so far)

    A good weekend for everybody.

    (This was my first comment ever, Hints, Tips and Cheers are greatly appreciated)
  • I think O'Reilly books are awesome. Of course, they do expect that you know a little bit.
  • I found this an interresting read because it reminds me of the way things have been with Mac fanatics. The number one goal was to kill Microsoft. Anything even related to MS was (and is) torn apart, and burned at the stake. Why? Because Mac fanatics who don't get the real picture want there OS to be "number 1", because they feel it's "better". This is why Bill Gates was booed when he showed up on the screen at MacWorld a year or two back. Granted, I have my own opinions on which OS I prefer (MacOS for applications, Linux for programming), but I don't see how watching Microsoft die off is going to make my prefered OS better. If that were to happen, then in the end I'd be just like the person I once hated.

    I also think people fail to realize what it means to be number one. It means you're the big dog, you're the one everyone "cool" hates (and the ones the "lamers" love). The saddest thing about this whole thing is that those people who really feel that Linux will be the demise of Microsoft are going to be the same ones who ridicule Linux when it does, and hop on some less popular-yet-"cool" OS's bandwagon.

    Peace to all those who just want a good, stable, dependable, fun, easy to use operating system, regardless of who makes it.
  • Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that Tim O'Reilly loves to tout Amazon.com as the ultimate web-based killer app? He used it as an example in the ORA Open Sources book, I seem to recall him pointing it out in another article recently, and now we're hearing it again in his LinuxWorld keynote. I'm no conspiracy nut, but isn't it true that the Linux/Open Source community as a whole is ORA's largest customer base? Maybe he's just trying to sell more books by having people think about Amazon, but here's my real beef:
    If the web is going to be the new platform for the next round of "killer applications" isn't it about time you started offering a few new example, Tim? I've personally never heard of anyone buying a computer so that they could specifically visit a certain online vendor such as Amazon. The closest information source that might be considered a true "Killer App" would have to be AOL. I *do* know a few people who have bought computers (or sometime bought *new* computers) just so that they could get onto America Online. At the beginning of every year of college I've scratched my head in astonishment as incoming freshman would dial-up to AOL from their dorm rooms, all the while they had LAN access to my university's T-3 connection. The last two years most of these people actually already had Ethernet adapters in their brand-new computers, but didn't know that they could get on the internet through it, or that at the very least they could still log on to AOL through TCP/IP (which many of them continue to do even after they learn they don't have to)
    In all seriousness, I'm not trying to negatively critisize Tim O'Reilly, but I really do believe that it's time that he started offering further proof of web-based "killer apps" besides Amazon.com

    Next Time: How much stock does Microsoft have in ZDNet anyway?
  • ... but you, my friend, are not.

    Can you recall the days when geeks were a dormant, lackluster commercial audience? I can.

    Can you recall the days when book stores threw up the "computer books" section next to "SciFi" as an afterthought? I can.

    Can you recall looking at the shelves only to discover that Mr. O'Reilly seemed to be the only one willing to take a chance with us, to believe that *nix-based texts did have a place in the market? I can. And I was damn pleased. Sybex, Wrox, you name it, they all pale in comparison to the technical tomes written under his tenure as publisher. People refer to some of those books as bibles or like supermodels: with short names and nicknames:

    "The Bat Book" and "D&B" are two of my favorites!

    Tim should be thanked.

    Have a nice day. Coward.

    Oh, and once you write or publish a technical text, I might give your words a bit more credibility.


  • How can you say "We have to fight Microsoft to keep the choices open" and be serious? Hello? The choices are open. Hell, there are more choices now then I can ever remember (good choices anyway). Who gives a flying fuck if MS doesn't feel the same way. What can they do to us? Run us out of business? Well, sure - maybe people like RedHat might suffer at the hands of Microsoft, but Linux as a whole is invulnerable to their attacks.

    We've already creative a great alternative. Microsoft doesn't have to lose for us to win - we've already won. It's not world domination but, seriously, what's the point in that? If we simply get the message out that "Linux is a viable alternative" then we've done our job - let the people decide for themselves after that.

    -----------

    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."



  • -----------

    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • Hello? Notice anything about your analogy?? 8th graders are immature. They have low self-confidence and need reassurance and peptalks from people they look up to. Sometimes (when I read AC posts) it seems like the Linux community is a bunch of 8th graders, but I know that's not the case - we shouldn't belittle ourselves and our operating system by making it a battle with MS and a personal vendetta. Let's keep it down to earth, okay?

    -----------

    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • Focusing on killing Windows is a stupid thing to do. Most people here know that Windows sucks in many, many ways but the thing is, a lot of people in the Windows using world know that too. The difference is they don't know there is any alternative. We in the Linux community don't need to try and trip up MS, they are doing a good job of that themselves. If we keep making Linux better and more importantly, get the word out that Windows isn't the only game in town, we will achieve much more than if we continually focus on MS. Making sure Linux doesn't have the same flaws as Windows is great, it makes an awesome TODO list for us to look at, it just shouldn't be the only thing we use for our roadmap.
  • if infoware is going to become more important than software, then perhaps the GPL needs updating to prevent the dominant infoware vendors (Amazon.com, AOL, ...) from being able to build monopolistic, proprietary infoware apps (websites) atop GPLed software.
    again: distributing software is likely to become less important than operating web sites. the GPL currently gets its power by regulating the distribution of (modified or verbatim) GPLed software. it does not attempt to regulate the operation of a website built on GPLed software. so for example, it does me no good to insist that my online bookstore use GPLed software: that online bookstore can still become the next bully of the computer industry. in this way is the GPL in danger of becoming irrelevant--or at least not as effective as it could be if we take Mr. O'Reilly's words to heart.
  • Tim makes good points in his essay, but I argue that he is wrong about how linuxites should not concentrate on the desktop (or more specifically that they should focus on keeping the web open, and winning the battle in web server space)

    Apache's worst fight is ahead, not behind. How can I say this? Because Microsoft is shipping a personal web server with every copy of 98, and will continue to do this with later versions of it's os. We must show up to the fight for the desktop because of this. If we are concentrated on keeping the web open, and open source on top (a la Apache), we have to stand toe to toe with MS, and produce as many lunix users who are using apache as a personal web server, as MS produces windows 98/NT users who use the windows personal web server.

    As bandwidth to the home increases through ADSL, cable and other means, I truely believe that the battle for most of the web will revolve around what each user is using for their own web server that runs on their desktop. To maintain dominance in web server space, we need to at least meet MS in the middle on desktop space.

  • I use both windows and linux. I program for windows and am learning to program for linux. Based on my experience I see some problems and good points to both.

    Windows is based on a closed sorce kernel (and everything else) and is not a greatly stable environment. It is user friendly and great when it works. Yes, they have a plan, but can they actually make it work? So far thier plans are not what windows are truely using. M$ has a large market because of morons. Face it, morons outnumber geeks 1000+ to 1. So windows isn't going away anytime soon since your average user dosn't really care about anything but using the computer.

    Linux has one major advantage over windows, stability. Could we use a plan? Maybe, but I think what we really need is some standards more than plans. For example, if you want to write a game for windows, you use direct x. In linux you can write your own system, or use one of the several out there. So if you get a game for linux you have to have the game system to play it. If there was one standard game system that all 3d game programmers used then that would be all you needed. This of course could limit some capability, but if it is open source it can be modified (maybe like modules) and added to the main game api.

    Face it, linux is very stable. Most apps I use with linux are rather stable and have rarely crashed linux. Even beta software is as reliable as any window app I use, often times more. Linux has great diversity and is almost limitless in what you can do with it. But I think if we all agreed that certain libraries, programs, ect should be part of "linux". Then if more programmers stuck to using the standard parts of linux we could still have the stability and standerdization. This would put us closer to what microsoft has but without the bug fest that goes with it.

    Linux is better for stability, but lacking in standards and common concepts. Linux could still be as flexible and configurable as it is now, and still be given a set of standard pieces that would make new users/programmers lives easier when makeing the move to linux.

    Linux will never replace windows on the desktop till there is a more moron friendly system and set of standards to rely upon.

  • Rather than trying to beat Microsoft at everything, why not invent new stuff that nobody has thought of before?

    Thanks for the advice Bill, now go back to counting your money. Who the hell needs a browser or Java? You could add that to your myths page.... Linux doesn't have apps. Linux doesn't have a browser. Linux doesn't have Java.
  • i disagree about the release cycles. Keep them at their current speed. as i see it in a while there won't be too many "killer apps" to upgrade for. Linux seems to have hit most of the major market points. Let buisnesses buy Redhat6, and they probably won't upgrade until we hit redhat10. but buinesses do that all the time anyway. barely any office computers run 98. a lot of people never cared to upgrade from 95. and quite a few shops still run 3.1, that's 10 years old, but they don't care. buisnesses won't flock to buy a new program just because it's paperclip also speaks spanish and russian. they aren't as dissilusioned as many home users are.
    char *stupidsig = "this is my dumb sig";
  • It's not a damn direct comparison! Sales does the same thing! It's like a damn pep rally when they get those bastards together! The same thing could be said about them
    They have low self-confidence and need reassurance and peptalks from people they look up to.
    but they still sell shit all the time! Why? Because they were pumped up in a meeting no more than 6 days ago. They more than anyone are on the brink of suicide, and yet they're walking around looking all happy. Make sense to you?
  • The markets that I see linux fitting into quite nicely are WebFarms/MID Sized IT Shops That Need Dependable DNS/WINS/HTTP/FTP/Print/CIFS services. The desktop market is a place where end users LIVE. The average end user cannot and will not have the time or the technical know-how to config their systems. The more focus put into making Linux-King O the Desktop, the bigger the foot print, the bigger the overhead, thus defeating its original purpose... A lightweight Programmers OS. We don't want to end up with a 2gig OS! I say we continue to push Linux into the backoffice areas and let BeOS or someone else tackle the desktop. D/
  • But after reading some of these early posts, I'm really thinking that somethings rotten in the state of the Linux community.

    Why does Microsoft have to lose for us to win? Why can't we just be happy in making a great operating system that millions of people can enjoy? Do we have to make it into a competition? Unless you own or work for a Linux-based company, I just don't see the reasoning.

    I thought the whole point was that we're not in it for the money, right (obviously)? So who cares if MS puts up anti-linux pages? What's going to happen? It's not like a loss of sales can hurt an Open Source community. So I say: Take a step back. Let Microsoft do whatever the hell they want. I don't care. I'm going to use Linux anyway, and I know most of you out there will do the same. But for the love of god, don't make it personal.

    -----------

    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • by Anonymous Coward
    this is one of the reasons that the linux community gets bad press. because of the anti-microsoft focus, extremeists/zealots/idiots start advocating linux in a non-healthy way and end up giving "the world out there" a bad taste in their mouth. someone needs to read the linux advocacy mini-HOWTO! we are supposed to be ambassadors, not guerillas.

    thank god for beos and bsd flavors. alternative operating systems with a leash on their respective communities.
  • The idea of ignoring Microsoft and just working on building a good alternative is very appealing in theory. It certainly sounds better than being "anti-" anything, you come across as a more reasonable human being, and it's a very commonly voiced idea.

    The trouble is that Microsoft don't feel the same way. Microsoft aren't interested in co-existing with alternatives: they want alternatives destroyed, they want Windows on every desktop, and they'll fight like dogs to leave us all with no other choice. They just don't have a very live-and-let-live attitude to the marketplace, and I don't think being nicer would convert them.

    When I say I want them defeated, I mean I want them defeated in this goal. I don't mean I want the company to fold, the tens of thousands of employees on the streets, and the operating system unsupported - though it's an appealing image. I simply mean that I want them to turn into another operating systems vendor, another applications writing company, another participant in a marketplace which offers a choice.

    For Microsoft, that is defeat. And so if we're trying to create alternatives, if we're trying to maintain a choice, then we're already anti-Microsoft whether we like it or not.
    --
  • by Gleef (86) on Friday October 08, 1999 @11:02AM (#1629192) Homepage
    Tim O'Reilly said:

    Almost everyone who talks about Open Source software wants to know whether or not Linux stands a chance of dethroning Windows.

    He's really talking to the wrong people then. As far as I can tell, most people who are talking about Free software are talking about how they can increase the features available with the Free software codebase, and how to handle the software patent issues. Even with the Open Source folks that O'Reilly, the issues seem more geared towards how they can encourage more companies to open their licenses. Most of the Linux people are worried about better supporting an increasingly dynamic hardware environment, and improving scalability and performance.

    None of these people are talking about Windows. The media is talking about Linux vs. Windows, some of the users are talking about Linux vs. Windows, but the people who count don't really give a damn about Windows. It's just irrelevant.

    ----
  • Why does Microsoft have to lose for us to win? Why can't we just be happy in making a great operating system that millions of people can enjoy? Do we have to make it into a competition?

    MS has to lose because that's what they believe. (MS's attitude is that in order for them to win, everybody else has to lose; and if they don't win, then they lose... ergo in order for us to win, they have to lose.)

    I agree that there is a lot of effort by people into "war-waging" (myself included, probably) but this is a natural reaction to being attacked. (And this is what MS is doing - attacking us.)

    We have to fight back now, because who knows what might happen in the future (MS is one of the biggest lobbyer's for "software manufacturers rights" - like making reverse engineering of protocols a crime.) If we "let them do whatever the hell they want" then we're signing our own death warrant. What happens when they twist the laws until it becomes illegal to write your own software?

    Am I being paranoid? Maybe... this is all conjecture after all... But the issue with it becoming illegal to write your own software has already started (software patents, "look & feel" lawsuits, etc.)

    You need to look farther down the road before you say "they can't hurt me." Remember that "they can't hurt me now" does not mean "they can't hurt me ever."
  • While that is for the most part true, the zealots really do hurt Linux's image. Like the saying, "A few bad apples will ruin the barrel" (or something like that). I know when I really got interested in Linux (mostly from reading /.) I saw how much people bashed MS. And because of that, I wasn't sure if I wanted an OS that might cause me to be an stuck-up *sshole. I've gotten email that said I was a MS b*tch because I asked if IE supported PNG images. Reading and getting things like that doesn't exactly put Linux in a favorable light. But I've also met a lot of helpful people and overall, I'm impressed by the Linux community as a whole.
  • Yes, this is true, the linux community should worry about making the everything *BETTER* than Microsoft...

    I agree, but I'd go even further and change that to:

    "Yes, this is true, the linux community should worry about making everything *BETTER*..."

    To focus on "beating Microsoft" is a fundamentally reactive strategy that is, I think, besides the point. Personally, I don't give a shit if Microsoft is "beaten". I just want software that doesn't suck.
  • by sinnergy (4787) on Friday October 08, 1999 @08:03AM (#1629207) Homepage
    What a very thought provoking and timely speech. I only wish I could have been present to hear it from the man himself. In either case, he brings up many interesting points. The crux of the whole speech revolves around this statement from him, "We need new business models. And those models are not always what you might expect."

    In general, we Linuxites have to remember some important things if we are to ever prevail:

    1) Money/compensation is a driving force. We can't ignore it.
    2) The OSS *can* make money, just not how we expect it to make money
    3) We have to support vendors who are more than "hip" to the OSS system. We don't need lip service. We need to seek out vendors that truly incorporate OSS as part of their entire business model. What will this model look like? I can only begin to guess.
    4) Keep your eyes on the prize. If, as a community, we succumb to the tunnel vision concept of, "Kill Microsoft!", all hope is certainly lost. As an anecdotal example, look at Apple and their Macintosh fiasco in '84. In many respects, I see similarities in the Big Brother image in their infamous 1984-esque commercial and much of the Linux rhetoric I read here day in and day out. Look what it did to Apple. I imagine if they would have focused on reality a bit and what really mattered, things may have turned out differently.

    All I'm asking is a little reality from the community. Read the article, please. Follow your mother's advice about the big bad bully. Ignore him and he'll eventually go away. I suspect this will be the same with Microsoft. The more focus *we* put on them the more press they receive. Let's focus on our own merits and achievements and strive to make not just a better product, but the best product we can.

    It *has* been done before... that was the whole point behind Linux in the first place, no?
  • Paraphrase of actual conversation with Tim O'Reily:

    Tim: blah blah, software should be free blah blah
    Me: Why do you charge for books, then?
    Tim: Books are different; they cost money to print.
    Me: Why don't you offer online versions for free, then, and only charge for the printed ones?
    Tim: I still have to pay the authors.
    Me: Why can't they work for free, like you want programmers to?
    Tim: Authors would never do that.
    Me: Would you have a problem with me repackaging a bunch of your books into my own book and selling it for money?
    Tim: They are copyrighted.
    Me: Why don't you "open source" them?
    Tim: Authors would never do that.

    It is like Linus going on about Sun's community license... geesh, what a hypocrite - going off on them, while working for the most closed-lipped company in The Valley. Why isn't he releasing the Transmeta details for the greater good? I mean, come on, surely the community at large could produce a better CPU than some proprietary house, right? What is so unique about software?

    Personally, I think money will destroy the Linux effort just like it did the home computing industry in the mid-1970s. No one cares about making money when no one else is making it, either. But when you work 3 years and get squat and I work one week and sell your stuff for $1 million, suddenly you start to care. It is just human nature.

    MS is irrelevant to Linux. Who gives a crap if anyone besides us uses it? I couldn't care less about MS, RedHat, or any of the other big companies. Go away, all of you! Let me hack in peace!!

    Whew! I feel much better now!

  • Tim O'Reilly is very insightful in his article, clearly and boldly describing what we don't want to hear. The once-geekly Internet, has become a booming bussiness for the mainstream public. This we know, but many has failed to see the implications.

    Let's face the facts. Hobby-programming for the OSS has always been for the satisfaction of the programmer, not the general user. If this weren't true, projects like Gnome and KDE would have started years ago. You would be hard-pressed to find a geek that wants to satisfy clueless users. Just look at the man-pages in Linux, they're not exactly made for novices. There are no examples, and more thoroughly explanations couldn't hurt. Luckily, someone in the community is always willing to contribute HOWTOs, FAQs and other documents instead of having to help out everybody "in person"! But that is a feature, not the obvious intent of the original creators.

    I believe the main direction of the OSS is one of pioneering and experimenting on new technical grounds. This is a rather broad direction, which unfortunately doesn't benefit the consumers right away. It is irrelevant to say that the OSS community lacks a direction as a whole. Since within it, there are many projects that do have a more concrete direction.

    Businesses often boast to have long-term plans and directions. If you are going to make a company for example, you have to publicly state a "vision" for your company in the registration papers. But most successful businesses don't stick to their plans when trends are changing. In the worst case, older products are rendered obsolete and unsupported. Or perhaps even worse, smaller companies that suddenly shut down, with the owners starting a new company doing more lucrative business. It should be clear now to everyone that the main goal of commercial businesses is to make people pay you money. Everything else is secondary. If you can make just this goal work, you're a success (by Western standards). But to make money, they have to please consumers, and usually pile up a garbage-bin of features to satisfy them. Unlike OSS.

    Admit it. We have always lagged behind the business regarding the general consumer for very obvious reasons! The OSS and business have been on two different playing fields the whole time!

    With the emerging of new successful "Open Source" companies, the whole ballgame is taking on a different shape. Some are just distributing and packaging what you can get other ways almost for free. While others will build proprietary software ontop of Open Source technology, like Caldera with CDE. Yet others will offer installations, training and support. There are endless possibilities. But the new trend isn't using Open Source technologies, the new trend is actually recognizing it! In that way, we have won, and it's time for celebration!

    But Tim paints us a different picture: Companies will exploit Open Source and make their own proprietary business standards on top of them! Especially when WWW becomes the platform for most future applications.

    This is right in the backyard of big companies who want to create web-portals with endless possibilities (for making money). What Ubergeek wants to make a credit-card registration, validator and pay-system in his spare time? So this battle is clearly lost, unless we can get businesses to really understand the human benefits of Open Source. Not just monetary value of staying ahead of competitors. But this requires a fundamental change in our society as a whole, and ourself.

    So I think the battle is both won and lost concerning the future Open Source. As long as capitalism and the human mind works as it works today, we're going to be stuck with closed-source and properietary de-facto standards from the industry for a long time. Just in a higher level of electronic service than before.

    But don't take me as a pessimist. As industry recognizes their use of Open Source, they will value and support the OSS community. This should also have a positive effect on the people working in businesses: To witness that the concept really works, and is a more fun way of doing things.

    Someday I think the people claiming closed competiton to be the most effective way of developing, will have to eat their words.

    _Steeltoe

  • by kris (824) <kris-slashdot@koehntopp.de> on Friday October 08, 1999 @08:14AM (#1629229) Homepage
    Summarizing Tim in a single sentence: Chase the dream, not the competition..
  • by puppyscent (95780) on Friday October 08, 1999 @08:15AM (#1629230)
    Wow, am I glad that Tim took the opportunity of a keynote address to express this pov, and with such conviction.

    To focus on Linux vs. Windows is like driving with both eyes fixed on the rear-view mirror. Or like my old track coach said "You'll always run slower if you look behind you to see where the competition is."

    The concept and reality of "Internet Speed" will eventually determine the success or failure of products, companies, and their respective paradigms.

    While Microsoft is very powerful and very rich, they're also very big. And their culture of software intellectual property and a tremendous dependence on the desktop computing metaphor could very well be their downfall.

    For Linux-mavens (or, more specifically, anti-Microsoft-mavens) who only think victory is measured by how many choose Linux over Windows, remember that the computer world is bigger than your desktop.

    But anything I write here is soooo much better said by Tim!

    Re-read the article. Print it. Post it.

    Our revolution isn't about taking power away from the establishment and giving it to us, it's about not having a center of power at all.


Neckties strangle clear thinking. -- Lin Yutang

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