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Comment: Re:When it has no value (Score 4, Insightful) 43 43

The best things to open source in this scenario are the things that you would buy from a third party, if you trusted the supplier enough. For proprietary software, a second source is almost always impossible. For hardware, it's often quite difficult, depending on the component. Switching from Intel to AMD is quite easy in a lot of cases, switching from a Qualcomm SoC to a Samsung one is more effort. Switching other components can be very hard. Service companies are a lot easier (switching from one law or accounting firm to another is much easier than retooling a production line).

Apple's involvement with LLVM is quite a good example here. Their ecosystem absolutely depends on high-quality compilers existing for OS X and iOS. With Classic MacOS and early versions of OS X, they outsourced this to Metrowerks, who produced quite a competent IDE and set of tools. Then Metrowerks, their sole supplier, was bought by Freescale and development on the Mac versions basically disappeared. They had some involvement in GCC development inherited from NeXT, but GCC was problematic for IDE integration (the parser is designed in such a way that it's impossible to use for syntax highlighting, for example - it does constant folding very early so you can't differentiate 4 and 2+2 in the source). They decided that they needed to bring compiler development in-house, but it was a lot cheaper to do so as part of an open source ecosystem. Apple now contributes something like 40% of the code to LLVM and that vast majority of what other people do directly benefits them, so they're effectively halving their costs. And, of course, giving away the IDE and compiler tools for free (rather than charging, as Metrowerks did) makes people more likely to start developing for Apple platforms.

Comment: Re:When you're not making money from it anymore (Score 2) 43 43

It's not always about spite, it's often defensive. If you're competing in one market and a competitor has a big advantage by having a near monopoly in a complementary market, then your best strategy is to commoditise their market and open source is usually a good way of doing this.

Comment: Re:Duh (Score 1) 457 457

Really? How does a shell script get notifications from the kernel that the swap space is almost full? Or are you suggesting that they should write a program that gets the notify(3) events, but then replace the three lines of C required to create a file and add it as swap with a shell script?

Comment: Re:From a user standpoint (Score 1) 457 457

Try this. Launch the same applications on Yosemite and Snow Leopard and see how quickly to can tell which one is the currently active one. After SL, they dramatically reduced the visual clues (the big shadows on the active window that made it stand out were 'ugly') and they've reduced more each release. After SL, the instances where I typed things into the wrong window jumped up for me. It's a shame, because Apple used to be the company that measured this stuff...

Comment: Re:Duh (Score 1) 457 457

OS X users the same underlying functionality from a UNIX-like VM subsystem, but has a dameon that monitors the amount of used swap space and creates new swap files when they're required. This gives you the flexibility of the Windows model, without the complexity in kernel space.

Comment: Re:Duh (Score 3, Informative) 457 457

Windows threading and synchronisation primitives

What windows synchronisation primitive allows:

  • Timed wakeup (i.e. try to lock, time out if you fail).
  • Adaptive mutex behaviour (spin in userspace for a bit before calling the kernel).
  • Can atomically be released when you sleep on a condition variable and reacquired when you wake.

Give up? So did the developers of the Microsoft C++ stack, which is why their std::mutex uses something custom, whereas implementations for POSIX systems just use pthread_mutex.

Comment: Re:Duh (Score 1) 457 457

Well, except that NT4 had a fun bug with the uptime counter, so if you actually did manage to go around 47 days without a BSoD, you'd get one when the counter overflowed. The fact that it took several years for anyone to discover this bug shows how 'eliminated' BSoDs really were by NT4. Oh, and NT4 moved the graphics drivers back into the kernel (including font rendering, which is why the TTF parsing vulnerabilities found a year or two ago were kernel exploits on Windows), so there was a lot more badly-written software running in kernel mode. I mostly got BSoDs on NT4 from the Soundblaster drivers - Creative Labs should never be allowed near ring 0.

Comment: Re: Throw it all out (Score 1) 457 457

They do now, but mostly because that's what's cheap. For high-end stuff, OS bypass is the buzzword of the day and as more of that stuff starts to be moved into userspace it becomes plausible to have a tiny OS and get rid of a lot of the complexity of something like a UNIX kernel ('lighweight linux or BSD' is amusing, given that the kernel of either is several MBs).

Comment: Re:The Golden Path (Score 1) 233 233

Frank Herbert's son later teamed up with a sci-fi author and published some books which wrap up the story and also explain some of the events that happened before the Dune books take place. Supposedly from his father's notes. Not everyone considers these books canon. The catastrophe, however, is revealed but at this point it mostly seemed the first book had some parallells with the Middle East.

The reason that many don't consider it canon is that it directly contradicts not just small events in the originals but the entire premise. In Dune, the Butlerian Jihad was an ideological struggle against people who were willing to delegate their thinking to machines without considering the long-term social consequences (hmm, still seems pretty relevant) and ended up being controlled by oligarchs who controlled the machines. The outcome was an overreaction against machines, banning even simple calculating engines. In the cash-in novels, it was recharacterised as a war against a two-dimensional and completely unbelievable machine intelligence.

The final revelation in the sequels was then that this machine intelligence had survived and had been building an empire in secret all of the time that humanity had been building their own and eventually decided that it wanted to destroy all of the humans (why? Because that's what evil robot overlords do! Obviously). These books could have been written by the Bene Gesserit sister that Leto just managed to restrain himself from killing in God Emperor, for her stupidity. He explained that humanity had moved past the point where machines could be a threat (remember: they were never a physical threat, the threat was always stagnation and decay as humans delegated more and more to machines until there was no point in continuing to live).

The point of the scattering in Leto's Golden Path was that humanity would spread out so that nothing could be an existential threat (the old Empire had more or less stopped expanding and didn't have exponential growth to protect it). Part of the point of Chapterhouse was that the conflict that was going on, in spite of engulfing more worlds than the Empire in the time of Dune, was a tiny sideshow - nothing that happened would affect humanity and the descendants of humanity as a whole. The big hint about the changes that were happening out of the empire was the extent to which the Honoured Matres and Futars had diverged from what was considered human. The implication was that they were the ones that had diverged the least and were no longer able to compete with far more predatory creatures that had evolved from humans.

Comment: Re:First Book Is Still Solid (Score 1) 233 233

What do you think they introduced that made sense? The House series ended up having to do a load of hard resets that just didn't make sense (the no-ship technology appearing a few thousand years early? Well, just brush it under the rug - we all know that technologies are developed in a vacuum and so if you cover up an invention that has all of its prerequisites it won't be reinvented for a long time). The only redeeming feature of the House books was that they weren't as bad as the Butlerian Jihad series.

Comment: Re:Lawrence (Score 1) 233 233

A much milder Christian version was some Puritans who banned Christmas

Minor clarification, but Puritans didn't ban Christmas, they banned the non-religious parties and traditions rooted in Saturnalia that had become associated with Christmas. Puritan Christmas involved spending most of the day in Church. They certainly tried to ban fun at Christmas (and at most other times), but not the Christian festival.

"It takes all sorts of in & out-door schooling to get adapted to my kind of fooling" - R. Frost