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FreeMWare Renamed 'plex86' 120

Joey Lawrance writes, "FreeMWare, the LGPL'd replacement for VMWare, has a new name: plex86. From their site: 'The new name "plex86" is derived from the (pseudo)words multiplex and x86. Many users had requested a new name; one that is short, easy to remember, and directly relates to the function of the software.'" It's been less than a year since FreeMWare's first mention on Slashdot; looks like they've made great progress since then in creating a free/Free multi-OS platform. If you're interested in contributing (including documentation), they're looking for you.
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FreeMWare Renamed 'plex86'

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    It sounds not only x86 specific, but IA32 specific. What happens when IA64 processors become available? Will it be able to run IA64 code?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I saw this the first time, and actually got concerned that Microsoft's allegations didn't match the habits of some of my biggest clients. So, I did a little digging through the database.

    Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc

    Yes, their Private Client Group is deploying Win2K on desktops that were previously Windows 95. Fortunatly for their customers, they still use time tested, 99.998% uptime IBM mainframes for mission critical data and V3 AS/400 midranges to validate any data passed on from the Windows boxen.


    Nabisco has replaced it's Microsoft machines every two years since they decided to use Win95 instead of OS/2 and SCO. Those machines had been in service almost four, and the rest of their leasing portfolio seems, as a whole, to turn over every five years. I know Microsoft isn't making stellar products when it's customers feel the need to replace them over twice as often as the rest.

    Credit Suisse/First Boston

    First off, spell the name right. I had to file a whole stack of paperwork last time I omitted the slash. Second. They have expressed no intention of replacing the RS/6000 and Sun beasties that currently do this job, nor has either MS product been cleared for use in such a position. Credit Suisse is a financial institution, and the 97.4% availability record of your previous offerings is simply not acceptable. Please see The Gartner Group's 1998/99 offerings for more disappointing performance statistics.

    Lockheed Martin

    I see no evidence of this! They just acquired several Tru/64 boxes to replace NT for IS services!

    According to the hearsay inside the company, they will not be phasing out Windows 95 / NT 4.0 internally until late 2001 at the soonest. On the other hand, since the prices on Windows NT will increase dramatically now that 2K has hit store shelves, I'm sure they will save at least that much by bundling it instead of NT with their OEM systems, which they have already started doing. Additionally, Micron has been a MS shop since day one, so 'upgrading to Microsoft' is both a wrong and an oxymoron.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    If there's anything the Open Source community needs to learn, it's the value of a good name. And this whole "plex86" nonsense only serves to demonstrate it. A name is part of the marketing, and marketing is without a doubt the most essential aspect of the success of a particular piece of software.

    Why is Linux the big free Unix clone? Because it has a cooler name. Things like "FreeBSD" and "OpenBSD" have all these odd letters jumbled together. And don't even get me started on "386BSD".

    But back on topic: "plex86" is absoulutely the worst name they could possibly have come up with. What the hell is a "plex"? Was it made in 1986? Don't the developers know how to capitalize proper nouns?

    Speaking of "capitalization", I predict that plex86 will be an complete disaster, and probably bring down a few careers, not to mention some wildly out-of-control egos. I'm not in the business of naming names (years of hustling teaches you that), but you know damn well who I'm talking about.

    And sweet jesus, imagine what will happen if someone decides that they don't like the direction that plex86 is going. So they fork it off, and create "Netplex86" or "Openplex86". This leads to more problems, such as "What the hell is a 'Netplex'?" And hey, don't forget those Linux-style version numbers, either. Pretty soon you'll be patching your Freeplex86 against the diffs from Picoplex86 1.3.22, which was merged with the Motorola port, Debian GNU/plex68k.88.332.666, giving you an unholy Debian GNU/FreePicoplex8668k., downloaded from with patches from Is this what you want? Are you going to tell a user to do all this?

    I thought so.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Does anyone have any comments on how well the software actually performs?
  • Hmm. I just pronounced it 'plex eight six' = 3 syllables.
  • FreeMWare (ok, plex86 now) is not anymore an emulator than VMWare. It works by using the actual processor, just upping the security on the processor so that things stay controlled, and the other program/OS 'thinks' it has full control of the system. It is dosemu emulation, not snes9x emulation. So getting it to work on another platform is hard, unless that platform handles the x86 instruction set
  • ...except it is a virtualizer, meaning it is using the actual processor to run instructions and not some emulation layer - so on an Alpha or PPC it would never be able to run, since the processor doesn't have an x86 instruction set.
  • Yeah, but when it's done, plex86 will run ".com" files, as well as whatever ".ORG" assembler you used originally.

    Now I'm just waiting for the ".exe" TLD...
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • The GNU tools, such as the file utilities, grep, sed, and so on, have long been better than the tools supplied with most vendors' Unices. Tests show that they simply work better. (In fact, those particular tests, in which various vendors' utilities crashed when fed random input, have been mentioned before on Slashdot.)

    I will stand behind this statement 100%. As a system administrator for years and a computer/network consultant for years prior to that, the standard response when a particular utility failed in specific circumstances has been "Replace it with the GNU version".

    This has always taken care of the problem for me and the organizations I deal with and hasn't caused a problem once to date (knock on wood).

    The GNU version usually results in a slight-to-incredible performance increase also, which no one has ever complained about.

  • How can you own a "noun combining form"? It's in the dictionary. []

    Main Entry: -plex
    Function: noun combining form
    Etymology: partly from Latin -plex (as in duplex);
    partly from complex
    1 : a figure of a given power <googolplex>
    2 : a building divided into an often specified number of spaces (as apartments or movie theaters) <fourplex> <multiplex>

  • Yes, but you can't trademark a number. That's why Intel now calls their chips the Pentium line, instead of 586, 686, and so on. They didn't like cloners calling their chips 486's back in the days when that was popular. But when they went to trademark "486," the trademark office said no way (amazing; they did something intelligent). So they came up with a word instead.

    Anyway, TPFKAF (The Project Formerly Known As FreeMWare) can use the x86 pun without fear for that very reason; anything Intel tried wouldbe groundless. The VMWare folks might actually have had a case with their product, so the name needed changing.
  • i know there's someone that want to port FreeMWare/plex86 to BeOS, here's his page []
    BeDevId 15453
    Download BeOS R5 PE [] free!
  • That doesnt jusitfy changing to the name plex86 :) Yes, FreeMWare sounds a lot like VMware (Even though bosch has been around longer). But why plex86? I mean plex86 (another product with an Intel badge slapped across it.).

    I humbly feel this name 'plex86' does less to relate to their project than what 'FreeMWare' did. Maybe another name change is due?
  • Not an emulator, but a virtual machine. Emulation means that opcodes are translated. The Pentium can pretend to be a 6052 processor by emulation.

    If you're running native instructions on your computer, using the virtual machine capabilities of the CPU, then you are running a virtual machine.

    Mainframes do this too. There was another article just yesterday on Slashdot where a single 390 mainframe was running over 40,000 virtual machines, all of those each running a copy of 390 Linux.
  • For all the talk about Open Source innovation and rapid development, I just don't see it. No matter how many times Open Source advocates will say otherwise, I've yet to see a single focused Open Source project even approach products such as VMWare. I mean come on! What _significant_ innovation has OSS produced? What quality products has OSS rapidly developed? (I don't mean products that just HAPPEN (now) to be Open source, I mean products that are driven by a truely "free", bazaar-like linux type development process.)

    This is not to say that Open Source doesn't have some pluses, and I don't want to get into the specific reasons for OSS's failings, but please face reality!
  • They registered, but not .com or .net ... I hope someone they end up in good hands. Any good samaritans want to register it for them?
  • A Mirco Sparc processor (used in the JavaStations) does use Java Byte code (a Java Machine). [To MOST people on this thread] To everyone how wants an x86 EMULATOR use BOCH, for ppl who want to run two x86 OSes on a x86 then plex86 is what you want. Is that simple enough for you? Mlk
  • Strange. nslookup shows the nameservers to be and isn't a pointer to their home page, it is their home page.
  • Or else someone with good intentions who would like this project not to be so Linux- or Freeunix- or whatever-centric could have grabbed the domain first!
  • on making a name that's well suited for its purpose.

    on an off-topic note, the word "multiplex" brings to mind images of movie theaters (you know.. they're called multiplex's because they have multiple screens, yaddy yaddy ya....)
  • Mastah_Monkey... your post has been selected for a Monkey Moderation! (Don't expect another, you won't get one.)

    Due to your post, a large sign reading "Save the Monkeys!" was epoxied to a monkey's hand. The monkey was then driven to the corner of 6th and Pike in Seattle and released.

    Within fifteen minutes, police in riot gear showed up and beat the monkey to death.


  • > On the other hand, increasing processor power
    > means that the overhead from running the
    > 'desperate' software virtualizer fortunately
    > becomes more irrelevant each day.

    That would be true if the overhead of the virtualizer was less than O(n) (ie sqrt or log or something). I would guess that scanning is O(n) wrt instructions executed. If scanning is only performed once (O(n) wrt executable size) then you are correct.

  • I'm not sure that virtual machine is the best term for that (despite the term VMware), because Java has a "virtual machine" that doesn't fit that definition. ...for what it's worth.
  • $ whois

    Kevin P. Lawton (PLEX9-DOM)
    439 Marrett Rd.
    Lexington, MA 02421-7714

    Domain Name: PLEX86.ORG

    Administrative Contact, Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
    Lawton, Kevin (KLH188) kevin@BOCHS.COM
    439 Marrett Rd.
    Lexington , MA 02421-7714


    Record last updated on 06-Mar-2000.
    Record created on 06-Mar-2000.
    Database last updated on 7-Mar-2000 14:06:04 EST.

    Domain servers in listed order:


    $ whois

    NO MATCH: This domain is available!

    Go to to register it now!

    $ whois

    NO MATCH: This domain is available!

    Go to to register it now!

    "I already have all the latest software."
  • []

    Whois Server Version 1.1

    No match for "PLEX86.NET".
    No match for "PLEX86.COM".

    Domain Name: PLEX86.ORG
    Whois Server:
    Referral URL:
    Name Server: NS1.FASTXS.NET
    Name Server: NS2.FASTXS.NET
    Updated Date: 06-mar-2000

    Wouldn't want to run into an OpenSSH'ish fiasco...

  • >What _significant_ innovation has OSS produced?

    Huh? I've never heard of 'Innovation' being a strength of open source. It's always been, 'Creating the tools you need that work. Feel free to modify.'

    BTW, even if there was a hundred innovations that OSS produced, you could simply say 'No, that's not significant enough.' So, I guess you're right. Yay for you.

    Erik Z
  • I believe the best answer for this is that it does not work yet.
  • Brings to mind an incident with the Porsche 911. Years ago when they first made it and gave it a name, it was designated the 901 (it was chosen from a computer, IIRC).

    At the time Peugeot owned the rights to numbering cars with a "0" in the middle, so Porsche had to change it to the 911.

    And the rest, as it goes, was history.
  • <cynic mode>
    It would indeed be an uber-cool feature to have, but with both Intel and AMD concentrating fully on getting the highest MHz numbers stamped on the CPU's it isn't likely we will see this any time soon. Raw processing power is the thing that sells processors nowadays, and full virtualization is a niche feature. And it's been done in software already...
    </cynic mode>

    On the other hand, increasing processor power means that the overhead from running the 'desperate' software virtualizer fortunately becomes more irrelevant each day. The x86 family has traditionally used sheer raw power to compensate for the backwards compatible design flaws.

    By the way, does anyone know extensively the full virtualization capability is integrated into the operating system of those IBM mainframes? How easy is it to create new a VM? Is it like running a program in a chroot environment, or like VMWare, where you have to boot an entirely new copy of the operating system?
  • owned by Sterling Software [], although Ghod knows what CA are going to do with it now that they have bought Sterling.
  • The web site mentions that FreeMWare/plex86 has text support... Does that mean it only runs DOS right now?
  • From screenshots on the site, the interface looks a lot like Bochs's VGA-in-X interface. Though in the Release Notes it said something about removing a UI.

    Right now it doesn't do much except run kernels that say "Hello World."
  • Or they spend years and years creating an amazing web site for the project, mirrored all over the world. Freedows anyone?
  • I kinda like the new name... It's like perplexed, and x86. ;)

    Visit uMoo - [] Join the bulls
  • I take it that you are thinking in the lanes of Bochs here, i.e. being able to run non-x86 code on an x86 box. If this is the case, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for it. IA-64 is way to far off from IA-32. Ever looked at the hardware system architecture guides for the Itanium? I mean, there is a reason why Intel refused to release any simulator to OS developers. They simply said that the simulator was not stable enough, and that once the first prototypes were out, nobody would want the simulators anyway. Keeping personell on maintaining a non-stable simulator would not pay off. (As it is however, few people are able to get their hands on them prototypes. Even developers at places like IBM have a hard time getting just a fraction of the required hardware resources. This is another story though.)

    As for plex86, the following question in the information page answers your question:

    Will this run on my Mac?

    This kind of technology allows you to concurrently run multiple operating systems written for the same processor. In the case of FreeMWare, you will be able to run multiple Intel x86 based operating systems on the same machine. Thus the answer is no. However, the virtualization concepts used by FreeMWare can be extended to other platforms.
    Judging from the IA-64 docs however, I don't think this will happen in the forseeable future (I might be a bit short sighted here). First of all comes the fact that you'll have to emulate IA-32 since IA-64 cpus can run in IA-32 mode. Then comes all those nasty addition features of the IA-64. It takes quite and effort just getting to understand the whole architecture fully.
  • I think it's very naive to say that plex86 is a replacement for VMWare. I strongly believe that free(beer & speech) and commercial software can co-exist.

    Tommy - happy FreeBSD hacker

  • vmware the commercial product will work many more times better than the open source equivelent. Heres why: the vmware company invested a lot of money and research into making it work. The opensource clone is just people coding in their spare time. It will never be as stable or robust as the commercial product.
  • Note that the site brags about being /.ed back in December. &nbsp I guess it'll happen again real soon now... &nbsp Glad I got to it before the effect occurred! &nbsp ;-)

    It's good to see some "competition" to VMware. &nbsp I like having choices.

  • No. plex86 is not emulating the CPU. It is running a virtual machine with native instructions. On other platforms you need Bochs which is emulating the x86 CPU. Emulating is slower because Instructions are translated.

  • Not for profit corporations are still companies. The fact that they suposedly do not bring in a profit does not change that they must be profesionaly run. Though, the .net wouldn't really work, unless it was set up for distibution purposes and the like.


  • How constructive :)

    print <<__ENDRANT__;
    I think you may have hit on one of the key problems slowing down Linux's widespread take-up. Attitudes like "Nobody gives 2 shits what you think [if you write code or documentation for plex86] someone might listen to you" are hardly likely to encourage new users into the friendly, supportive atmosphere that we are supposed to be.

    For your information, I have released several programs into GPL, mostly CGI and Web Log Analysis. If someone suggested that the name of my program sounded odd, or hard to remember, I would most likely take notice, or at least consider the suggestion of a new name.

    One of the reasons heaps of people are anti-micro$oft in my part of the world is that they feel that they can't possibly have any effect on anything the behemoth company does - this is a very frustrating feeling, and one that it would pay the Linux world to pay attention to lest we alienate the people we are trying to rescue from the monolithic monetarily mammoth megacorp.


  • Personally, I think FreeMWare sounds good. It implies the freeness of the software, and everyone knew what VMWare was (presumably), so they know what it does.

    plex86 is perhaps *too similar* to plain ol' "x86" for people to actually remember it :) Strange as that may sound...

    Hmm perhaps a better name would have been VirtPC or something along those lines?
  • God forbid it might end up on the impulse buy shelves at a gas station next to such great products as the J.I. Goe and Mighty Morphin *Space* Ranger action figures.
  • A technical question: will these OSes run under dosemu? AFAIK, they're real-mode OSes, and thus should run in a hardware 'virtual x86' on a 386 or higher. Has anybody tried them? What about Xenix or other ancient real-mode Unices?
  • How can you mistype 86? Haven't you had enough practice with {vi,emacs,ed} /etc/X11/XF86Config? :-)
  • Very good analysis, except the comparison was supposed to be between "plex86" and "FreeMWare", not "VMWare". :P

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • Sure, these GNU tools are nice, and this is exactly the kind of area where open source works like a charm. However, I don't think they're on par with the likes of VMware, in terms of complexity, development time, and the like.

    GNU tools outshine their propietary cousins precisely because there simply isn't a significant paying market for them (even though combined they're extremely usefull, few are going to go out and spend a great deal on money on individual tools (and they're certainly not going to upgrade on a regular basis)) None the less, the development on these particular tools was not rapid, nor was it particularly innovative. Quite the oppositite, in fact, these tools developed slowly, but continuously, absorbing many different points of flexibility as users modified them to fit their needs (an area which propietary products may never quite be able to hit). Most of these modifications were not ingenious by any means [nor were they the result of a SINGLE driving focus, like what is necessary to create products such as VMware]...Because they evolved so slowly, with so many interests in mind, they become highly versatile and very stable.

    As it stands right now, you have two mostly distinct groups of software. The first group is rapidly evolving and highly complex projects. The second being, slower moving and smaller projects. Open source has yet to touch the first, but does very well in the second.

    When, and if, the software industry ever slows down (e.g., fewer feature sets required, less bloat, Open Source efforts like this might become appropriate for an even wider array of applications and operating systems (e.g., the 'first' group). But until that time, I just don't think Open Source will ever keep pace in #1.
  • I just read this [] interview with Kevin Lawton (author of Bochs and Plex86) and he mentions several things... First of all, he implies (indirectly) that VMWare folks (who are from Stanford) actually used his Bochs code as a starting point! That's a very serious charge and I think I believe him. Here's what he says:
    The second is that long ago, I received a request from people at Stanford to use Bochs for free for "educational" use. Given that I like to help out educational causes, I of course obliged. Check out where VMWare got its start. Enough said.
    Why doesn't Kevin take this through the legal channels? He should! He'd get some funding for Plex86 at least.

    If anyone has seen Mendel Rosenblum's (main guy behind VMWare and also a Stanford grad) Stanford lecture on VMWare you'd have to agree that he acted little like a scrouge. He wouldn't even answer some simple questions by saying: "Ooooo... I can't tell you that... we spent a lot of time thinking about that and I don't wanna give it away" etc...

    In any case... FreeMWare (now Plex86) will rock.. I tried some dev code and it's a great start. Give it another 6-8 months and it'll be competitive with VMWare.

    -- [] News and info for martial artists of all styles.

  • Is anyone here actually using FreeMWare/plex86? How well does it work at the moment?
  • The opensource clone is just people coding in their spare time. It will never be as stable or robust as the commercial product.

    This didn't apply to unix and GNU/Linux, did it?
    Something like plex86 should be simpler than GNU/Linux. Its job is much more specific - working round a few inadequacies in the x86 architecture, rather than writing a whole operating system and applications from the ground up.
  • You know the story.... IANAL I don't think he could take this through legal chanels. He granted the right for some people at Stanford to use it educationally, and that's all we know. The quote implies that the licenses were given to the authors of VMWare, but it never says it for a fact. Even if it was the authors, there would be no suit unless Bochs code was actually used in VMWare ( depending on license and code availability). Quite simply, this probably isn't gonna make Kevin any money unless the users who received licenses decide to reimburse him for his kindness.
  • would be a blatant misuse of the .com suffix. That indicates a commerical site. plex86, however, is free software.
  • CP/M likes to irrationally fart and dump for no reason at all. Xenix likes to barf when it can't poke at the hardware it wants to see (like an EGA card, and an Olivetti bus monitor), but you may be able to force it to work.
  • Great, now Plextor (The undisputed king of SCSI cdroms) will sue their asses off ;)
  • Actually, the real reason they changed the name is so they wouldn't have to put up with the crap in the comp.emulators.freemware newsgroup with fools who think it is another WAREZ emulator group.

    Let's take a look at recent posts in the group.

    Pokemon Roms
    Free CallWave Internet Answering Machine
    Want Traffic? 8.5 million pages enough?
    ***FREE MOBILE CALLS*** This works! 9997

    Yes, that's right 5 out of 6 posts are general spam, and the other post is a WAREZ rom site.

  • Reimburse him for his kindness??? What planet are you from?=??\+

    That'd be like, admitting something or something.. We can't have that can we? That's what lawsuits are for!


    - Steeltoe
  • it seems whenever anyone talks to much about "what should we call it", like bands or people doing software projects they're really thinking about their interview with Lary King, not making great software.

    call me an asshole, it's just something i've noticed. i say less bullshit, more code.

  • by hawk ( 1151 ) <> on Wednesday March 08, 2000 @05:39AM (#1219186) Journal
    LyX has *no* comparable proprietary product. For that matter, I can't think
    of one for TeX, either (LyX uses LaTeX to print. It is *not* a front end
    for LaTeX [anymore].)

    Oh, wait; there are a couple of commercial knock-offs, but Scientific
    Word and the other one are years behind LyX in usability and function.

    If you need to
    a) write your equation without reaching for the mouse
    b) be able to edit from the keyboard, and
    c) see your equation displayed

    LyX *is* the leading edge. (Note: older versions of Word on the Mac,
    1.0-5.1, could do a&b, or c, but not all three at the same time)

    And as for speed? There was a feature I used regularly in word (insert a single character of greek/symbol) that wasn't in lyx. I mentioned it on the developer's list. Within a week it was part of the main code base. This was about four years ago--around the same time that this feature became awkward to use on Word . . .
  • by qnonsense ( 12235 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2000 @05:04PM (#1219187)
    The name change seems to be intended to differentiate itself from VMware. FreeMWare is just too close and sounds like the cheap ripoff of a better product.

    See the interview [] for more on the topic.

  • by kevlar ( 13509 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2000 @05:40PM (#1219188)
    Anyone know the difference between the way these two programs work? I think VMWare has a patent out on its method of executing two operating systems... anyone know what the details are for sure?
  • by geirt ( 55254 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2000 @11:59PM (#1219189)
    The idea of the plex86 project is to create a viritual machine which analyzes the code, and determines which parts of the code that can run safely on the CPU without touching the protection mechanism. This requiers heavy cooperation between the paging/protection mechanisms of the two opertating systems, and a minor change in one of them, requiers changes in freevmware. This is why vmware need to know which OS to run as guest OS.

    Then came Transmeta and Crusoe. This CPU has "hardware" just in time compilation of X86 code, which means that the cpu compiles the x86 code to Crusoe native code before executing, and saves the compiled code in a cache. The cpu discards old compiled code in the cache, which stops the cache from growing beyond limits.

    These techniques could be combined, by doing jit compiling of x86 code to x86 code (ie. coping the code to a cache and adding breakpoints to the compiler at every instruction which isn't compiled before or discarded from the cache). This is fast, since no "real" compilation is necessary. On the Crusoe the compilation is much harder since you compile to another instruction set. If this is possible, running a guest OS on a linux machine should be very fast and smooth, and all this could be done in user mode, without kernel support. As more of the guest os code is "compiled", we could discard (or page out) the "interpreted" code (the original os code) thus saving memory for the cache. The memory usage of vmware has disappointed more than one user.

  • by technos ( 73414 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2000 @07:29PM (#1219190) Homepage Journal
    I see too much bytching going on here. 'plex86' is a fine name for the project. It's a virtualizer that lets you run several concurrent copies of the OS, each thinking it has it's own 80x86 processor. Lets play the name game until we get something short and unique!!

    Several concurrent copies of 80x86 OS.
    Multiple copies of 80x86 OS
    Multiple 80x86 OS
    Multiple x86 OS
    multiple x86

    Good enough!
  • by Enervator ( 87567 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2000 @08:04PM (#1219191)
    I've yet to see a single focused Open Source project even approach products such as VMWare. [...] What quality products has OSS rapidly developed?
    Okay, troll, I'll bite.

    The GNU [] tools, such as the file utilities, grep, sed, and so on, have long been better than the tools supplied with most vendors' Unices. Tests [] show that they simply work better. (In fact, those particular tests, in which various vendors' utilities crashed when fed random input, have been mentioned before on Slashdot [].)

    I now consider Linux to be better than proprietary Unix simply because it comes with the GNU tools. For example, we recently acquired a Sun box which was essentially unusable until we wasted a large amount of time replacing many of the utilities with their GNU equivalents.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2000 @10:22PM (#1219192) Homepage
    The only reason this is hard to do is that the 386 and up machines are almost, but not quite, capable of supporting a hypervisor (the generic name for this class of software). So x86 hypervisors have to prescan code to look for a few wierd cases, then put breakpoints in to trap them for emulation.

    That's a desperation approach because the hardware is broken. AMD and Intel should be pushed towards fixing the few hardware problems that require this hack. This will eliminate the need for scanning, breakpointing, and emulating in a hypervisor, which will make such programs much, much simpler and cleaner. IBM has had this right on their mainframes since System/370, and it's extremely useful in the mainframe world. You really can run VM under VM under VM. Better, you can run the stuff that's not trusted in a separate virtual machine, where it can't do too much.

  • by doomy ( 7461 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2000 @05:00PM (#1219193) Homepage Journal

    new name "plex86" is derived from the (pseudo)words multiplex and x86. Many
    users had requested a new name; one that is short, easy to remember, and
    directly relates to the function of the software.

    From what I see, plex86 (flex your muscles?) seems less easier to remember than FreeMWare. Also, since this software is supposed to be a hardware emulator, why slap the 86 across it? I'm pretty sure the alpha ppl would get this working on their boxes soon enough, not to mention the PPC dudes.
  • by SuperG ( 83071 ) <<moc.liamtoh> <ta> <e_htrag>> on Tuesday March 07, 2000 @05:11PM (#1219194)
    We all know the _real_ question here:

    Is plex86 is easier to say than VMWare?

    plex-eight-e-six = 4 syllables
    V-M-Ware = 3 syllables

    followed by the tongue-twister-test:

    Be scared and beware VMWare's fare.

    Rexx and Beck's plex86 flex best.

    No contest - plex86 is harder to say. Harder to type? Hmm..a closer call.

    plex86 - mostly lowercase letters, but the numerics on the end complicate matters. plex876 plex86 plex86 plex76

    VMWare - All letters, but the change in case (though in two sections), makes it harder to type. VMWare VMware VMWare VMware

    Too close to call, obviously.


    Well, VMWare has it, by virtue of being easier to pronounce.

    Of course, the actual question was is it easier to remember? Is what easier to remember? If you're not going to make sense I'm going home *slam*
  • by gargle ( 97883 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2000 @07:34PM (#1219195) Homepage
    I've a friend who went for some job interviews with VMWare, and believe it or not, VMWare is actually making a profit, a rare accomplishment in this dot-com world.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 07, 2000 @05:47PM (#1219196)
    The differences are actually quite fundamental in nature. VMWare exists and works. FreeMWare/Plex86 doesn't do either. But it's free, so it must be better.
  • by Dredd ( 8552 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2000 @05:34PM (#1219197)
    Did these guys really do their research before renaming themselves? Ericsson already has a programming language called "Plex" (used on their AXE exchange switches). I expect they own the trademark (etc) on it too; although I don't know for sure. Anyway - you'd have to expect problems in the future. Poor choice by the FreeMWare guys.
  • by HP LoveJet ( 8592 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2000 @06:48PM (#1219198)
    Actually, according to someone I know who was an intellectual property lawyer, numbers, while not registerable as trademarks in themselves, are sufficient to cause conflict between one company's trademark and another's in the same area of business. E.g., if I have a car called the "Bob 9-3", Saab may be able to claim (at least in the US) that it infringes on the registered trademark "Saab 9-3". In fact[IANAL&TIAUA (I am not a lawyer, and this is an unverified anecdote.)]:

    It seems that when IBM changed the name of the System/3 family to AS/400, they had to pay an undisclosed sum to the current sole holder of a registered trademark consisting of a sequence of letters followed by the digits 400, used to refer to automatic data processing equipment. Care to guess what "automatic data processing equipment" they were talking about?

    The Atari 400.

    How's that for funny?
  • by PhiRatE ( 39645 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2000 @08:17PM (#1219199)
    How many would you like? It all depends on your definition of rapid really. Open Source software doesn't reach user-level release as fast as commercial software, but it becomes feature-comparable much earlier and useable by those willing to get their hands dirty _far_ faster.

    In terms of quality products, it is hard to deny software such as PHP, Apache, The linux kernel, perl, yadda yadda, all the usual stuff. However none of these can really be considered "rapid" from start, they all started quite some time ago.

    Most really rapid initial Open Source development can never be quoted, since it usually consists of a large number of developers abandoning a previous implementation and starting again from scratch. Much of the good Open Source software you see now has gone through at least one phase of being heavily re-written, almost or sometimes literally from the ground up, in an astounding amount of time, but because nobody clocked it, or changed the name, it just turns up as the latest release.

    However I think there are some, smaller, cases of applications that appears almost from nowhere. The various linux napster clients for instance. One moment I had just heard of napster, the next their protocol was reverse engineered and two or three Open Source versions of the client appeared.

    Similarly with email software. Sendmail, king of the hill for so long now, was looking pretty much invincible, then qmail came out, and suddenly what had looked like something that was good enough seemed somehow tarnished. No dust on Sendmail, I use it, and love it, but many don't, and a slew of new email servers have appeared recently, qmail and exim being two of the notable mentions.

    I am unwilling to stand up and say "Look, under any circumstances, Open Source software will develop a complete application faster than a Commercial method would", for a start there are different levels of interest in various types of applications, and for second, theres a mindhsare capture thing. Commercial places just hire their employees, Open Source projects have to attract their developers, and that takes a bit of time, especially as you have to get exponentially more than those of a commercial project in order to make up for the (at least inital) fact that nobody is working on it full time.

    However I think that Apache, PHP, Linux and many others are undeniable proof that once that mindshare of developers is attained, development is unbelievably fast. Just watching the kernel mailing list for a week is enough to make one dizzy, and you don't see a 10th of what is going on.

    When I was doing one of my own projects, I really noticed that speed-up effect after the initial block was over. TDT took two weeks to get to something vaguely working, another one to get to something that looked fairly ok and had the major engine working, and then within a week enormous improvements were made, contributions even by the few people who were interested in it made a huge difference, lighting, explosions, tuning of coloring, models, rewrites of parts of the engine to support effects like waves and menus, I was making releases less than hourly on the evenings I was working on it.

    I don't think we have yet seen the true power of the Open Source development method, but places like Source Forge and tools like CVS and autoconf are slowly pushing their way into the fore, making things go quicker and quicker and quicker. I look forward to the future.

  • by Ticker ( 79929 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2000 @05:09PM (#1219200) Homepage
    Another possible reason for the name change is because it sounds so similar to VMWare. To avoid legal problems in the future, they changed the name.

    I should also mention that FreeMWare/plex86 is not a hardware emulator. It allows you to virtualize the x86 chip through software to run multiple operating systems on one CPU, even though the x86 architecture has no hardware virtualization. This is similar to what you can do on mainframes like the IBM S/390, although on a much smaller scale (I doubt anyone could run over 4,000 instances of Linux on an x86 chip).

    It's actually explained right on their web site. "The goal of the FreeMWare project is to create an extensible open source PC virtualization software program which will allow PC and workstation users to run multiple operating systems concurrently on the same machine".

    If you want hardware emulation, check out Bochs [], which was written by one of the founding authors of FreeMWare/plex86.

Build a system that even a fool can use and only a fool will want to use it.