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The Cathedral And The Bizarre 260

Euro writes: "Jeff Lewis has written an interesting article for that discusses why Open Source hasn't taken off that well among the Mac enthusiasts. Interesting reading, as well as some excellent commentary on why the Bazaar development model isn't always a great idea." (timothy butts in: You might also want to revisit the recent Ask Slashdot about promoting Open Source on the Mac.)
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The Cathedral and the Bizarre

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  • I think you hit the nail on the head with that one. Hypercard was a brilliant product. It's a shame that Apple makes their developers pay through the nose, when they could have done so much better if they had been a bit more open.

    As for OS X, it is Apple's last chance to impress me. I must admit I still have a tiny bit of sentiment for Apple as a company, so I truly, truly hope that OS X lives up to the hype.

    I don't mean that Apple will fail if OS X bombs; this only applies to my personal interest in Apple as a tech company.

  • I don't care how much HCI design Apple puts into the OS; if I as a user fall outside their statistical sample then I'm up a creek without a paddle. In a certain sense, a more complex but configurable interface is in the interests of the mediuma-to-advanced user if it lets them become more productive.

    I think this is missing the point, though. The important factor, in the end, is not necessarily how a given program works, but how well it matches other programs. I'm a long-time Mac user, but I've got quite a bit of experience with other platforms (including doing Windows phone support, ick.) The reason I keep coming back to MacOS is speed. I can learn new programs faster, and operate quicker in old ones, than I can on other OSes. Every time I try customization tools, I usually end up going back.

    It's little nuances of the GUI that add up--always having the menu bar in the same place, so you don't have to look for it, having consistant file and edit menus--that seem to enable this speed. I know Apple's UI (or 'user experience,' these days...) guidelines seem neurotic--"space elements thirteen pixels apart," etc.--but in the end, consistency is just as important as quality. (Contrast this with M$, who radically alter the interface of their programs with every revision.) Continual change is not always a sign of improvement, but rather of the need for it. Example: Microsoft has attempted to "improve" text selection using a mouse. Instead, it prevents me from selecting partial words, or phrases without their end punctuation, etc. The old system worked well, but in the name of 'better interface,' it's been ruined.

    'Complex, configurable' interfaces place an unreasonable burden on the user. It's the developer who should have to worry about making the UI efficient--not the user. This is the standard we hold non-computer products to. We don't expect auto makers to let us replace the steering wheel with a joystick--using one would be another skill we'd have to master, when we could simply be driving. Another example--kitchen appliances. The 16 speed blenders of 25 years ago have predominantly given way to models which turn on and off. Why? Because the added complexity--in the name of configurability--was unneccesary, useless, and in the end, unwelcome.

    I realize that power users will always want to change little things in their OSes. Nevertheless, I maintain that the most meaningful changes aren't ones that configurable operating systems allow you to make; they're usually corrections for programs which were improperly designed in the first place. Design a program once well, and your users won't need to customize it.

  • >No really--the hood is almost literally welded
    >shut on every Mac.

    Surely you don't mean that it's PHYSICALLY harder to get into a Mac than a pc?

    I'm on about my fiftenth computer now, everything from a couple Apple II series boxen to C64 to Sinclair ZX81 to a number of wintel boxen to an IBM Thinkpad.

    I'm back to Apple now. And my Mac is the EASIEST thing to get into since the Apple II+ ! Just lift the latch, and the whole side of the case becomes a door which folds down, giving freakishly easy access to the inside of the thing. Upgrading the RAM (first thing I did when I got it) took all of two minutes.

    Compare that to the HP tower I had before... I needed two different screwdrivers to get into the sucker. Just to get to the motherboard for a ram upgrade, I had to unscrew practically the whole back of the machine, pop off two side panels and the front panel, unscrew and remove the power supply with a DIFFERENT screw driver. dig through the nest of wires to get to the simms sockets, hold them out of the way with one hand, FINALLY add the memory (one handed) with the other, then reverse the entire disassembley procedure to get the thing back together. Total time was just over half an hour.

    My next purchase will be a Powerbook. It's not quite so simple as a Powermac to get into, but, from playing with the demo units in the store (pop keyboard up, remove RF shield, pop ram into socket), it sure seems like it'll be a fair sight easier than it was to add ram to the Thinkpad I have now (another half hour long procedure involving a number of tiny (but, of course, different sized) screws).

    Resistance is NOT futile!!!

    I am not a drone.
    Remove the collective if

  • Eric Raymond's comments at MacHack were wonderfully telling in several ways. He criticised Mac programmers for being too focussed on user interface and criticised MacOS for intertwining the UI with system functionality, making it harder for new programmers to get on board writing MacOS apps.

    Well, maybe that is why there aren't that many devlopers for MAC. Maybe that is why there is such a small base of software for the MAC.

    Linux has been around for five or six years.

    Really, try to do some homework when writing articles.

    Linux, on the other hand, pops up around 1995 after the GUI market had twelve years of development

    That's right folk, the very first version of linux (version 1.1.76) was released in 1995.

    The other serious mistake the author makes is somehow equating Linux as a GUI, then the GUI is xfree86. Ironically, X Windows is one of the oldest GUI's in existance, and the author is trying to make the point that it is too "new" to be mature and compete.

    Perl itself is a testimony to the OpenSource mindset - it's a gruesome mishmash of inconsistent syntax and function calls - definitely a product designed by committee - but one wherein each member clearly wasn't listening to anyone else.

    And yet it's one of the most popular OSS programs today. Not a very good example of OSS failing is it?

    Raymond touts the stability of Linux as proof of the OpenSource concept, but that's a bit misleading. The core of Linux was written by one person - Linus Torvalds.

    As if we needed more evidence that the author did no research in writing this article. Alan Cox and dozens of others would take exception to this insane statement.

    If you check into each successful OpenSource project, you see the same thing: a small group of referees who filter the input and weed out the bad ideas. The bazaar has cops. The chaos is contained.

    This truely is misleading, anyone can take a project and branch off of it is they feel the maintainer is not doing a good job.

    See, when commercial developers create a product, they start by trying to solve a problem that customers need solved. The focus is always on the customer.

    Really, who was the one who asked AOL to put piracy protection into Winamp? The customer? Did MS's customers ask that each version of Word contain an different and incompatible file format?

    Sorry, but the focus is not on the customer, that is for the marketers to worry about. The focus is on making the company money, and that sometimes forgoing customer wishes in order to leverage market share.

    See, when commercial developers create a product, they start by trying to solve a problem that customers need solved.

    Like that pesky bug we call "compatibility". Microsoft has been trying to fix that one for years.

    Apple has taken the fruit of the OpenSource movement - BSD Unix

    Don't get me wrong, I love *BSD, but what qualifies it as the fruit of OSS? I would put Apache or Linux in that slot, hell Perl has more of a claim to that title.

    This same 'elitism' is what pulled us into a GUI based world of computing.

    I believe Xerox was the one who did that. You "elitism" is showing simply by insuating that Apple invented the GUI.

    This guy really seems to have some deep anger towards OSS and the success of Linux, and while he makes one or two good points, they are overshadowed by his inaccurate claims.

  • Before you get your feathers all ruffled up, one should really look at what he is saying.

    The MacOpinion writer mentions that there are "priests ove the bazaar," which you disagree with. The idea of a "priest" is not necessarily a bad thing. If a religion has no priests the religion would be choatic and without form, by having priest a religion can dictate a more standard form for said religion.
    The same goes for the operators in RMS choosing what to add and what they shouldn't add. They bring structure to what would be formless, they standardize and help select what they believe would be best for the masses. Their ability to choose what is best depends on other higher "priests" who dictate something more fundemental, perhaps something like the standard libraries. Eventually this reaches the heads of this "religion" who deal with the most fundemental aspects, in the case of Linux it is the kernel development.
    Structure can be a good thing, especially when the bazaar becomes to big and choatic. One difference between that of Linux and other "religions" is that due to the openness of the structure, the "religion" forms to the peoples desires rather than dictating what the people desire. In essence those who are in charge of certain projects are the priests of that project.
    Another aspect of religion that enters into the open source model, to an extent, is interpretation. Even after everything has gone through the different levels of the religion the person who believes must interpret what they have been told. Same sort of thing for Linux, if one believes that a certain application needs something then they can add it, and if someone wants to take it literally then that option is also available.

    As for the GUI issues, I agee that GNOME and KDE are decent designs but the MacOpinion writer does have some teeth in his bite. There is more than just GNOME and KDE to choose, if one looks at the selection of window managers out there one might understand what he is talking about. FVWM, Enlightenment, Sawfish, Afterstep, WindowMaker, Blackbox... there are at least a half dozen major players in the window manager field, all of which act differently. Even the GNUStep brothers, Afterstep and WindowMaker, react differently enough to confuse the average user. Some of these window managers are GNOME complient, some KDE complient, others are complient with both, on top of which Enlightenment is planning on adding its own application manager to compete with GNOME and KDE. As for Eazel, it isn't even out there yet, and when it does finally show 1.0 it won't fix the problem of too many window managers. As for elder GUI's being crappy, if you are talking about the Mac GUI, it may be old but it is still probably the most user friendly GUI on the planet, user being the average joe.

    Linux may be a secure, stable, powerful OS, which is why I use it, but it too crashes. Linux is not perfect, it is still a fledgling compared to the major UNICES.

    The writer has some good points that we should not ignore because we don't like what he says. One of Linux's strong points is to listen and fix. Even the most skewd infomation like mindcraft is useful.
  • The crux of this is that do we really want linux to be mainstream? I don't really think that people are working to make linux mainstream - sure, the installers are getting better. Sure, we have gnome, kde, berlin - but these are still made for and by developers and the hard-core, just those that want it to look prettier. People are working to make linux better, and that's what makes it great.

    This is the exact same type of elitism that the author rails against. "Linux is by programmers and for programmers!" What a load of crap!. If you don't think that companies and individuals aren't trying to make Linux mainstream, open your eyes a bit wider. There's this hugely popular company. Maybe you've heard of it, Redhat? It sells Linux. It's not selling Linux to programmers, but to end users, on the aisles of Best Buy and Office Depot. There are other companies, too, pushing this OS into the hands of the typical consumer, not the hands of the programmer. You know what the images look like on the back of these boxes? They look like Windows. Why would a programmer buy a product that looks like Windows? Companies are actively basing their entire profit plan on bringing Linux to the masses, not to programmers, but to Grandma and Uncle Bob. Groups are actively doing the same. Check out HelixCode sometime. Their goal is not the make the friendliest interface for programmers and developers. It's the bring the simplicity of the Mac GUI philosophy to Linux. And guess what, Linux, the OS, sucks for doing things like that.

    You've basically just completely backed up the author's main points. Open source isn't meant for the consumer. OSS advocates tend to be elitists. And yet, the OS movement still tries to tell everyone, not just programmers, that it's the best model. It just isn't true. Stallman and Raymond and Linus and whoever else is pushing Linux on to store aisles needs to turn around and ask themselves, "If I don't want Linux to be mainstream, why am I doing this?" It's ideological, and ideological battles are pointless and in the end, alienate people.

    Closed-source software is good for the some things, and the author's stand (which I agree with), is that it's good for consumer-driven markets .. of which Open Source software is not a part.
  • I mean, really, the Mac only has one (annoying!) widget toolkit, it doesn't know what a "console" is; if you want a shell, you have to get some third-party GUI app! And if something goes wrong... uh-oh, it's a cute little bomb, and you didn't restart your mac properly, did you? Silly user, it's all your fault.

    You make his point very well.
    Mac users DO NOT WANT a console: They want to get work done
    Multiple widget toolkit's have increased usability how?
    For the most part- why do you care how the machine crashed if you aren't going/are unable to do anything about it (ie- a musician is unlikly to scour source code... a crash is a pain the rear in any operating system, and please don't tell me linux doesn't EVER crash.)
  • No really--the hood is almost literally welded shut on every Mac.

    I disagree, have you seen the latest G4s? Talk about beauty in design. To open, you have to simply lift up one latch and the whole side opens up to you. I'd kill to have such elegantly designed cases in the PoS PC tower cases that I routinely want to get in to.

    As for older Macs - I never met a Mac I couldn't hack, inside and out. Although it wasn't easy to add memory to that first Fat-Mac. Anyway, the important point is that I believe the author is referring to the "new" Apple, which has an Open Source core in OS X, and seems to be getting more developer friendly in that area. Though I still think it's safe to say that the developer to technically-unsavvy user ratio on Macs is completely different than that for Linux (or even Windows).

  • by Golias ( 176380 ) on Friday July 07, 2000 @09:25AM (#951274)
    I could not disagree more. Macs are not "welded shut" at all. Anyone who thinks so needs to attend a MacHack convention and talk to some of the geeks there.

    Since Apple products are the monolithic beasts they are, I think they actually inspire more curiosity. Ever since ResEdit and MacsBug were written, neophites have been introducing themselves to the wonderful world of OS hacking. One early example that comes to mind is the classic shareware game, "Spaceward, Ho!". It lacked a few keyboard shortcuts that some people wanted... a quick edit of the resource fork, and viola! Command-T suddenly advances the turn. The new keystroke even shows up on the right side of the menu option, just like in all other MacOS keystroke options. Make one minor change like this to one program and you get sucked in.

    Hardware is also tinkered with. The original iMac had a "Mezzanene" slot on the mobo (left over from when that board was meant to become a thin client). A clever German company saw it as a potential unsupported PDS slot to make up for the lack of PCI expansion. They made a combo card of video-out and SCSI.

    Mac hacking is possible, you just need to know the platform. Since most hackers cut their eyeteeth on x86 boxes, a lot of the Apple world seems strange and impenetrable, but it's not so bad once you learn it. For example, the LinuxPPC group had an iMac port within weeks of the release, USB support and all.

    Okay, okay... enough cheerleading. I'll stop now.

    The story was interesting, and almost as one-sided as ESR's speech. It would be cool to get JL and ESR on a debate panel together. (After they each make a quick pass through a metal detector. No need for bloodshed.)

  • The truth about Linux sysadmining on your own machine is that you don't have as much control as you think.

    For the people 'playing' sysadmin with their home computers, you are right. However that is also how they learn.

    For those who are responsible for servers and clusters, you are way off. The strength to these people is that they have both the knowhow, and the tools to completly customize their system to their needs. Linux is NOT just a hobby, it's used in production enviorments everywhere.

  • by FascDot Killed My Pr ( 24021 ) on Friday July 07, 2000 @07:50AM (#951278)
    Because, in terms of openness, Mac is to Windows as Windows is to Linux.

    No really--the hood is almost literally welded shut on every Mac. This style of computer doesn't breed much curiosity in the user, so Open Source is unlikely to interest them. That doesn't mean they couldn't benefit from it, it just means that the two groups don't have much overlap.
  • Commercial software is typically designed for the simple purpose of making money

    Exactly. But the author claims that commercial software is created to solve a problem that the customers have. That's nonsense. If it solves a problem, great. But if it causes problems, that's even better from a commercial perspective, because then the company can sell a fix to the problem.
  • by dragonfly_blue ( 101697 ) on Friday July 07, 2000 @07:52AM (#951280) Homepage
    For me, the reason why the Mac was never interesting as a development system was simple. When they released the first Mac, Apple had done their best to create a line of computers that were consumer products, not the hobbyist-oriented, upgradeable, easy-to-learn, read-one-book-on-BASIC-and-you're-programming machines that had made them popular in the first place.

    Imagine my surprise, as an Apple II, II+, and IIe user, when I first looked at a Mac. "How do you open this (*&$ thing?" It was the single most disappointing thing that I'd ever seen in the world of computers.

    That is, until I tried to figure out how to program for them, and found out that

    1. 1. There was no command line.

      2. You had to buy additional software, as far as I could tell, just to program the damn things.

      3. Apple didn't want you developing for the Mac unless you werre a commercial licenser.

      4. Hardware upgrades? Pshaw!

      5. There were 15 books you had to read in their damn developer's guide.

    In fact, Apple put up so many barriers to entry, relative to the Apple II line, that I'm surprised that anyone ended up programming for their sealed-box, crappy-spec'ed, proprietary bull&(*t.

    It was shortly thereafter I switched to x86, and so far, I have no regrets whatsoever. As far as I'm concerned, Apple is basically the antithesis of everything the Open Source philosophy represents.

  • by 11223 ( 201561 ) on Friday July 07, 2000 @07:53AM (#951281)
    Part of Open Source development is poking around other people's Open Source projects and seeing what they've done. It's also about using their Open Source software to work on yours. Until recently, the Macintosh was deficient in its ability to provide either of those.

    There's something strange about writing Open Source software on a platform when the development tools are Closed Source. It's kind of hard to write Open Source in Microsoft Visual C++, and it's also kind of hard to do it in Metrowerks Codewarrior. Why? You obviously paid for those tools - and so you don't necessarily want to give it away for free. With MacOSX, the development tools are now free, both as in beer an in speech. It makes it much easier to develop Open source applications.

    Secondly, there just wasn't enough Open Source software to leverage on the MacOS environment. Most free software on Linux is built around free libraries, and couldn't exist without them. On MacOS (pre-X), there weren't enough free software libraries available. On MacOSX, the BSD subsystem garuntees easy ports of libraries like guile and glib, upon which many applications depends.

    It's quite probable that when MacOS X arrives, there'll be an outpouring of Open Source software just for those reasons. Once some of the GNU libraries are ported, people will start to use them - and Open Source what they create.

  • Any mac that had a built-in monitor (like the good ol' SE/30) was made hard to open on purpose because of the very real chance of electrocution if some kid popped it open and touched the monitor circuits in the wrong place. That goes for the iMac, too.

    For good info on individual models, including some of their weird cases, I would start at Low End Mac, and if you can't find it there, follow their link to MacFixIt. []

  • Is it so hard for you to fucking understand that Macs are manufacturered by Apple and can have any fucking "Made by Apple" logos they want on them? You need to realize that without mass production you wouldn't have a computer to spew your ill-conceived notions from. By installing Linux on an IBM-PC you're not making a stand against some horrible evil empire, you're making a consumer choice. The anti-trust case against Microsoft is and was never about striking a blow for any cause. It was and is about preventing a single company to hedge all consumer choice in a market. If Microsoft built the computers its OS was installed on, there would be nothing anyone could say about it. They however only product software. They have been unfairly affecting other companies by threatening them with licensing changes and the like. You're not fighting for anyone's freedom here.
  • The fact that there is this expectation for people to be stupid and to cater to that expectation is sickening.

    That attitude is a lot like a car mechanic saying you are stupid for not being able to change your own timing belt.

    Most car owners know how to drive, put gas in, and maybe change their own oil, points, and plugs, but could not tell a fuel injection system from a leaf spring. They are not stupid, they just expect their car to work, and rely on professionals when it doesn't. This gives them time to focus on areas where their actual talents lie (be it programming, waitressing, or whatever).

    The same goes with Joe Average computer user, or at least it should. In the early days of the automobile, cars were for serious hobbyists only, who could field strip their entire engine, and most of them belonged to automotive clubs that resemble the User Groups of the 70's, 80's and 90's. It remained like this right up through the 1920's.

    Over the last ten or fifteen years, the computer industry has slowly begun to creep out of that stage. In the future, there will still be "hot rodders" and professionals, but most computer users will be just that... users.

    No musician or playwright or stockbroker or whatever should ever be expected to know how to "fix" a computer that has crashed. They should be able to do their jobs without knowing how to modify a kernel or even how to configure a DSL router. It's just a tool! You should not need to know how it works just to use it, any more than you need to know how to build a small gas motor just to mow your lawn!

    It is a failure of the entire tech industry that we are still not at that point, and Apple has done more than any single company to try to get us there.

    (Wow... That is the first time I have ever been worked up enough about anything to actually post in bold. Blood-pressure check time, I think.)

  • No one is paying licensing fees for Linux Distros. They get their money by selling installation and system support for their products. If you indeed are literate, read the handbook of your local Linux distro. By buying it in a store you're entitled to X amount of customer service support. In many cases they outsource their customer service to a company that specializes in telephone support or they pay a few techs to do it. They are making alot more from support than they are spending. These companies also have large stock valuations and have a good deal of money backing them. Redhat didn't make a billion dollars last year, they sold a billion dollars worth of stock to investors.
  • No one is really carrying the Darwin mirrors, Apple isn't threatening mirrors of an open codebase with legal issues. Too many programmers see Apple as passe and are reluctant to put it up on their file servers. Darwin was opened with the intent of developers getting better intrinsic knowlege of the new operating system and to foster non-Mac developers to get into the act. Windows 2000 development is moving rather slowly because in many ways its core is radically different than 98, people used to working with 98 need to relearn all their performance tricks. This is the same as the difference between OS 9 and X, you've got a radically different structure but instead of printing a plethora of reference books to teach people about the new core they are letting developers actually see and play with the core in order to see where it can go and what it can do.
  • Will you PLEASE stop posting on macintosh-related subjects until you have actually USED A MACINTOSH or at least become aquainted with the community? And i don't mean "use" as in "i looked at a website on the imac kiosk at the mall, and there were some LC2s with At Ease in my high school"-- i mean become familiar to some degree with the mac and the culture behind it. Note I'm not saying you should actually do this and be a mac user-- i'm just saying you shouldn't post on things unless you know something about the subject other than predjudices and things you've inferred from commercials.
    This is nothing less than the most ignorant post i have ever seen on slashdot. Shame on you, and shame on the moderators.

    The hood is not welded shut on the mac. If your anology would be that the hood can open but there are no user-servicable parts underneath it, you would be closer, but still wrong.
    (The original one-piece macs were welded shut, but not anymore. Apple has been getting better and better over time about this. The G4, which i am typing on, is the easiest case i have ever seen to get into. My previous mac, a 7200, was a far more "open" case than most of the heavy-metal screw-infested PC tower cases i've seen. NOTE TO PEOPLE WHO WILL TAKE ANY EXCUSE TO FLAME: i realize this parenthesis is not in ANY WAY RELEVANT and that the "welded shut" case was an anology. Please do not take my mention of computer cases to imply that i believe the post being replied to was talking about computer cases.)

    Go to [], read through it, and tell me the mac os is closed up. There are PDFs there describing how to do more or less anything you could possibly want to do, as well as all the free developer tools you need. Yes, that includes a compiler. Want to know how to change the behavior of menus in the mac os, or to make a subtle change in some appearance feature, or write a program that does something low-level and dodgy involving TCP/IP? Use those PDFs. They're free. Want to know how to do it in windows? Well, you will have to pay microsoft an awful lot of money first for those MSDN cds..
    Do you know what an extention is, or what it can do, or how it works? Do you know what opendoc was, until market forces killed it? I have seen an unbelievable amount of just sheerly wierd hacking, of just low-level playing around, on the macintosh that is in no way parallelled in windows, is probably not possible in windows, and apple almost always gives some mechanism for doing that-- and if not, someone will find one. There have been cases where apple has not been flexible, and the mac users have simply flowed around it in a way that does not fit with your statement about mac users being naturally non-curious. If something enters into the mac os, someone will try to get it to work in a nonstandard way. I'm not going to give any examples, but i could. I just don't feel like spending time going and trying to locate old URLs and shareware apps just because someone posted a stupid comment on slashdot and got a score:5. But they are there, they are very much there,and whether you want to believe this is true or not, the mechanisms for allowing flexibility and an infinite degree of user control were provided by apple.

    Is apple perfect? No. Does apple put as much emphasis on openness and flexibility as they should? No. Is any apple product near the openness and flexibility of linux? Of course not. But there is no way you can compare them to microsoft unless you know literally nothing more than the fact that they are the only people who sell their hardware platform.

    They don't give the LinuxPPC people as much guidance as they should. They refused to go and take on the huge task of documenting everything about how to write an OS for their hardware for free just so Be wouldn't have to figure it out themselves. Steve Jobs is not a terribly likable person. This does not make them closed in anywhere near the sense most of the posts in this article take for granted. They aren't always as helpful as they could be; not all the mac os parts are particularly servicable.

    But the processor is on a little daughtercard that comes right out, and the rest is relatively standard and replacable. You can upgrade these things, believe it or not. The first linux to run on a mac was created in a project funded by apple (mklinux). There is a free, open-source OS written by apple which uses most of the bsd code base but contains all of the low levels of Mac OS X. I'm pretty certain it will be possible and legal to pull out the darwin core of Mac OS X and replace it with your own, which is pretty damn open even if there's a propeitary window manager and APIs on top of it. Apple may not facilitate or make easier this action, but still it will be possible and i'm going to do it, dammit :P
    And how the hell can you claim apple has "closed hardware", or tries to prevent anyone from figuring out its hardware, when they make publicly available the source code to the hardware compatibility layer on their flagship product?? Even if you don't trust the APSL enough to use any code under it, there is no law i am aware of to prevent you from doing some simple clean-rooming and writing your own specs on How To Write An OS For Apple Hardware.
    From all reports, Mac OS X contains the same theme architecture as the current mac os, so it seems that people will be still able to micromanage their interface. (keep in mind apple is the most unpredictable force on earth, and this could obviously change, and they could obviosuly do all kinds of evil things that we don't forsee.) Yes, aqua looks pretty welded shut, but that doesn't matter; if you think that all of us are going to actually put up with aqua, you know even less than i had assumed. It will _not_ be long after OSX's release before a way to completely dismantle aqua is found without harming Quartz, even if that way isn't sanctioned by apple. The current theme architecture, by the way, which is far more powerful than any other theming or skinning scheme ever made, is completely undocumented. This seems like a pretty closed-minded and irritating thing for apple to do, and it is. But before you go and claim this proves your point, keep in mind that there is nothing whatsoever keeping apple from removing or disabling the themes; there's no reason for the os to still allow you to change themes except for the fact apple secretly doesn't mind. This is the way pretty much everything apple does goes; they don't fling open the doors and welcome you in and _help_ you, but they still leave the back window unlocked; apple never acts to make these things impossible, even when they don't act to make them easier. And if you do attempt to go around them and do something you don't want to do, they don't smack you down or anything. The two big instances of apple closing up something and making it inflexible are sherlock 2 and quicktime 4, which are nasty. But do you have _any_ idea how many interface hacks exist for those two, or any idea how many people had downloaded the sherlock 2 interface-fixing hacks within a day of OS 9 being out?

    You'll make a lot of noise about apple killing clone makers, but the fact is apple simply had no choice: they couldn't financially survive with a bunch of people out there selling the same product as them, only better because they could spend the money apple spends on R&D on improving their products. Apple's market share wasn't big enough to do this.
    But before you say the PPC platform is closed, remember this: there is literally nothing stopping you from getting a loan and starting a small business and creating and selling a PPC motherboard, or even putting it in a case with a hard drive and a power supply and some other nice things and installing a homebrew linuxppc on it. And once you have it working, i'm sure that it would not be THAT difficult to hack some compatibility layer together to make mac os 9 boot on it. OS X should be even easier, just swap out your mach. But that doesn't matter since you don't want to run the mac OS anyway, do you?
    Yes, apple is the only company selling PPC computers. How is this apple's fault any more than it is your fault for not making them yourself? Apple's not welcoming anyone to PPC, but they aren't driving them off either, and the crucial "not driving off" distinction is what makes any references to antitrust law stupid. [Not that that stops slashdot posters, though.]

    I am always surprised by the degree to which what little rational content slashdot has disappears completely whenever apple gets invlved, but the discussion in this article is just.. rather extreme.
    Believe it or not, there are people who use Macintoshes and/or the Mac OS because it is the best tool for the job, or because the interface is efficient enough it's a fair trade-off with the stability of a *n?x. Just because apple sells computers with colored cases does not mean that everyone, or even the majority of the people, who buy apples are people who base their computer decision on the color of the case. I realize that by implying the previous sentance to be possible, i am going against many firmly held beliefs of many slashdotters, but this thread has me so disgusted i don't care anymore.

    I apologize if this post is a bit incendentiary; i realize i will look as if i am overreacting, and i probably am. I'm pretty sure i'm going to regret posting this, but i suspect someone, somewhere, will listen. Understand the parent post is not the only post i'm replying to here, and this one [], as are a lot of others, are just as much what this long, unfocused sprawl of a post are directed at. I'm afraid you'll take my lack of conflicting evidence to conclude i'm being a one-sided zealot. I'm sorry. Apple has their bad side, there are bad parts i'm not going into. But those bad parts are inseconsequential in the end in my opinion, and i'm too tired to go into them, and there's no more room for them anyway.
    I would like to request anyone reading this post try to actually look at what i'm saying in order to see if there's any truth in it, and try to understand it, not decide after the first couple lines that i'm wrong and then look for ways to use the fact this post is disproportionately long and most of it can be easily interpreted as fanatical pro-mac posturing to attack me. Or else take one small passage which is off-base or badly written and conclude that invalidates everything. Or complain about my run-on sentances, or something.
    Ehh, whatever. I hate slashdot..
  • BZZZT! Sorry, wrong answer. Do hope you have better luck next time. Look up MPW, it's on Apple's developer site somewhere.
  • So, Ok, I'm going to stop bothering to argue with this article, because I see that the viewpoint from which it was written is so different and foreign to me that there's no point in it.

    Actually, that IS the point. The viewpoint is very different. Many open-source advocates don't realize that their philosophy isn't appropriate everywhere, all the time.
  • The second most predominate hinderance to productivity next to Minesweeper is the kludge the user experiences between the business end of the program and the interface with said program. Word 97 and 2000 have an amazing amount of features that if used correctly can make it into a very powerful tool for a business (I'm writing a macro which writes essays, convincing essays). The problem however is that most people never see these features unless they have an MOUS certification. This is a similar state to Linux, while it has thousands of features and can do all sorts of cool things, without years of experience or a huge amount of reading no one can use said features. This is ludicrous in both cases, the true power of any software is the ability of the user to access and use all of the features a programmer adds. The users as Lewis says, ought not be punished for using a particular piece of software. You make it sound like people who don't use Linux cannot think. You are quite the pompous ass to think the choice of your OS belies your intelligence. Users are who any successful software producer needs to cater to. The users shouldn't be punished and made to run through hoops to use Linux or Windows or any other OS. Apple realized this many years ago. When you buy an iMac you plug the power cable in and the keyboard and mouse and press the power button. From there everything is done for you with little or no intervention. Neanderthals in pre-history knew this also, you've got the business end of a tool and the interfact. There is the handle and blade of the axe, the blade is sharp and therefore with little more than instinct you can pick up an axe and use it. The GUI was originally meant to represent things users would recognize and understand, this should be taken to even higher levels as the level of sophistication of computers grows.
  • Or let me put it another way; I don't get why people like the Mac GUI so much. I've worked with Windows, Mac, and X systems for years, and I've always found the Mac interface to be immensely frustrating. Yes, the interface is completely consistent from app to app but for some reason Mac apps tend to lack keyboard shortcuts -- compare Mac and Windows versions of Photoshop, for example -- and most of that consistency comes at the expense of reducing the featureset to the lowest common denominator. The Mac interface has always struck me as awkward and cumbersome compared to Windows.

    (In fairness to both Apple and Microsoft, Linux GUIs are pretty awkward in comparison to both, though the latest version of GNOME has come a long damn way.)

    Personally, I think interface consistency is overrated. Some common elements -- mostly editing keystrokes and window management features -- are highly desirable, but beyond that, who cares? No matter how weird a program is, you'll get used to it pretty quickly if you use it much, and if you don't use it much, it's going to be awkward and unfamiliar anyway. UI consistency issues mostly touch on superficial functionality, anyway -- how much common functionality is there between Adobe Illustrator and Microsoft Excel? Not much. And would I really want to use Adobe's swiss-army-knife color picker in Excel?

    The real promise of Linux GUIs -- as opposed to the one-size-fits-all approach favored by Apple and Microsoft -- is that we will eventually have a common default interface that we can customize the holy living crap out of. And that's my biggest complaint with Apple's philosophy, which is that all users shall conform to the same UI, rather than having the UI conform to individual users.

  • Then why don't they say that they'll release any source code after (say) 3-6 years. That's 3-6 years where they can be proprietary all they want and by the time they release it, it'll be obsolete and nearly worthless commercially.

    That would be a hedge against abandonware and worth a LOT in the public-relations standpoint.

    I don't mind closed source proprietary software as much as I dislike closed source proprietary software that will remain that way in perpetuity.

    How many people would like to look at the origional PACMAN source? Or at the DR-DOS source? Or at a game AI algorithm. (I once spent several afternoons trying to figure out 'how they did that'. Hard with no source.)

    Hell, what wouldn't I do to see the source code for Future Crew's Unreal2 demo!!

    That's what makes me sad is that companies hold on to everything, no matter how commercially worthless it might be and never want to give it up. If Apple truly wanted to support the free software/open source community, then why not offer to release their code GPL in 4 or 5 years? Releasing it GPL will keep most of the sharks at bay. Microsoft (for example) won't want to glob chunks of it because they'd be forced to release their software too.
  • Perhaps you were completely ignoring the one about the APIs, then. Yes, it's true. The "Inside Macintosh" series has kept ALL Mac OS APIs documented for nearly 15 years. Just because you can't read the source code doesn't mean that it's a closed system. At least you know what all the functional interfaces are and what they do is well documented. God forbid you actually have to use MSDN to figure out how to do something in Windows.
  • The ability of the open sourced desktops and such things that live on top of X to compete with Windows has little to do with the quality of the development model and more to due with the fact that Windows spent a good portion of their GUI development period experiementing. Not only does Microsoft have the interface to worry about they have the entire graphics system to work on along with the kernel and underlying programs and code. Not only does Microsoft have more to do but the people writing GNOME and KDE have been living in the GUI world for years and have had the fortune to have learned from the mistakes of other GUI developers. You're dangerously short sighted and bordering on ignorance. Open or closed source, if programmers only have to worry about a small section of the overall product, they will produce a bit better of a product than people that don't have the luxury of focus. You also compare graphics libraries to overal ease of use. Widgets and text rendering have shit to do with the ease of a system. When someone can plug in a bit of hardware and run an installation program and have the OS see the hardware, it is then easy to use. When someone buys hardware and has to figure out which kernel module to load or how exactly to configure their product, then your system is not easy to use.
  • Ever replace a library on accident or have the wrong permissions on a directory or file? Linux is quite easy to break. The kernel may still run and you might be able to log in remotely but most people don't have or don't know how to use such an ability. Windows can and is as stable as Linux as long as you properly manage it. If you are dumb enough to install libraries that break apps then you deserve the pain it causes. The registry can be your friend if you don't go and break it yourself. The stability of the system is up to the people programming the software you run, Microsoft isn't responsible for some idiot installing old easily broken DLLs.
  • How hard is that to figure out? Don't you think if I wanted to call you a troll, I would have replied directly to your message? Think a little.

    I was talking about TWR, the troll who posted an inflamatory comment, then flamed everybody who replied to him for a while. First he totally refuted what you said, claiming that hypercard is better than anything available for Apple ][ or other systems at the time, then he flamed someone who disagreed, refuting himself and claiming that hypercard is only good for toys. What else do you call a person like that?

    I looked at his user account, and he barely had any comments. I've seen a lot of this lately: brand new user accounts trolling, then getting moderated up.

    What I've said is true: the trolls are organized with their own discussion groups, they are getting moderated up more than they used to, and many moderators are abandoning the system because there's a bunch of trolls meta-modding stuff "unfair" by default (which costs karma, which means eventually ending up posting at -1). That they are conspiring to fill slashdot discussions with garbage is unquestionable. I think the possibility that a conspiracy exists to acquire a large number of moderator-level accounts, with which to promote trolls to the same level as the best serious posts, must be taken seriously.

    They already have the capability to flood discussions at low scores so it's a total waste of time to read low-score posts, do you want them to be able to flood with high-score posts and totally destroy slashdot?
  • Did I hit some buttons, or something? Maybe you don't work with enough people, or something, but all the non-geeks I introduce to linux, even the ones that want to learn, get blown away by the difference. Right now, linux isn't for everyone. To say otherwise is WOEFULLY ignorant.

    Bringing linux to the masses as we know it isn't going to happen. Redhat is way to hard for for the average schmuck to keep running. SURE there are exceptions, but in my personal experience, when I try to get people using it, they get put off by the command line, sure you don't need it for everything, but linux just isn't there yet for the average joe, and I have no desire in making it more friendly for the average joe. I develop to make my life as a programmer and unix user easier.

    "If I don't want Linux to be mainstream, why am I doing this?"

    Did you even read my post? I am doing this because I am sick of an operating system that is unstable and fundamentially is no longer meant for myself as a market target. (Specifically, windows. DOS was a good OS!)

    I don't tell everyone it's the best model. Hell, I pay my bills and stay off the street developing embedded propietrary code for a telecommunications company. In short, I do what is good for my target market - ME - technically oriented programmers.

    RE Helixcode, Grandma can't even handle the windows update web page. Don't fool yourself. Linux will be ready for the mainstream eventually, but it won't be the linux I use, because to make a mainstream version you need to remove the power I have over the machine - the power to fubar it beyond repair.

  • I'd be beyond surprised if the author didn't realize that Xwindows is, in fact, not technically a part of Linux. It's OK to refer to a Linux distro as "Linux".

    I understand that, but his complaints had nothing to do with anything BUT the GUI. No other componants of a "linux" system were mentioned.
    That, and he falsly suggested Linux's failings were a result of being so new. He somehow got the idea that Linux was created in 95 (1.1.72 was released that year), but linux's age has nothing to do with the GUI, which was created long before.

    Xwindows is certainly one of the oldest GUIs on the market. It's also one of the crappiest out there, too. How long did it take to get anti-aliased fonts in Xwindows again? Why hasn't Xwindows, one of the longest-lived GUIs still in use today, far eclipsed the younger entries of the group? Can you think of a _single_ major modern GUI that doesn't surpass Xwindows?

    For what it is mainly used for by home users? No. however, XWindows was written to be a client-server application. Do you know another GUI that lets you do that?
    I agree it's got problems, but thay have nothing to do with Linux OR open source, since XWindows is NOT an opensource development project. Their devlopment is done by a closed committee using a very restrictive license.

    As you you complaint about how I dealt with his article. I feel he HAS ignorant. His conclusions were build on false pretences and incorrect assumptions. He DID have good points (I admitted that), but the sloppy research and factual errors (I felt) detracted from them.

  • I hate to post a 'me too' reply, but... me too.

    I've never understood the love for the Mac that one sees in some parts of the Open Source community. Apple is everything Open Source isn't: expensive, closed-standard, proprietary, treat-the-user-like-an-idiot, and against choice. Windows at least runs on top of open hardware standards. Apple is less successful than Microsoft in part because they are even more greedy, controlling, and closed than MS.

    I bailed on Apple when the Mac came out with its one-true-wayism that eschewed the hacker and the hobbyist. Nothing has changed since Apple's big comeback -- unless your idea of "innovation" is case design and a new UI skin. I can't say I'm interested in OS X, either -- why would I want a pseudo-open Unix crippled by Apple's inflexible GUI and proprietary hardware dependencies when there are not just one but several genuinely open free Unices that run on dozens of hardware platforms.

    If I ever get an itch to buy an overpriced proprietary hardware platform for myself, I'll at least get a Sun.
  • >apparently you've never owned a 1997-98
    >vintage PowerMac

    No I haven't. I've only returned to Apple hardware since '99 (Yosimite G3). But pc's (that hp I had, and the Thinkpad I still have), of that vintage are equally difficult as you describe. And they haven't gotten much better since (this dell I use at work took 'bout 20 min for the IT guy to add ram).

    I simply don't hold Steve Jobs, and the current Apple administration, responsible for the idiotic blunderings of gil amelio.

    Resistance is NOT futile!!!

    I am not a drone.
    Remove the collective if

  • 1. There was no command line.

    That's not a bug, it's a feature. Giving developers an easy way out like a command line would not force them to write easy-to-use applications. That you couldn't be lazy was deliberate design.

    2. You had to buy additional software, as far as I could tell, just to program the damn things.

    This was in no way different from the mainframe and microcomputers of the day. This was also in no way different from subsequent PCs.

    3. Apple didn't want you developing for the Mac unless you werre a commercial licenser.

    Nonsense and lies. They did show preferential treatment to commercial houses, though, because they were more likely to invest the time to learn the system and make high-quality software than early hobbyists.

    4. Hardware upgrades? Pshaw!

    Hardware upgrades? On a C-64? On a TRS-80? On any of the bazillion CP/M machines of the day? Pshaw!

    5. There were 15 books you had to read in their damn developer's guide.

    Yeah, in the same way you have to learn the entire POSIX standard to write a UNIX app today. Riiight. The developer books were intelligently split up into various system sub-components so that you could learn what you needed to and move on.

    It was shortly thereafter I switched to x86...

    You're calling the Mac sealed, crappy-spec'ed, and proprietary? You're saying that when you switched to x86 in the 8086 to 286 days? That's the pot calling the kettle black.
  • I've found a third-party commercial addon that will do it by dynamically messing with the kernel, but that is hardly an acceptable way of doing it

    The *NIX admin in me shudders at the thought of this as well; however, this is not harmful in the Mac environment(if the developer is careful), and is quite common practice. Since the Mac, for better or worse, has never had unprotected memory, it's a common practice to patch the OS to make it behave differently from the way that Apple designed it. Apple built this ability into the Mac OS from the day it was first built. INITs & CDEVs (or Extensions and Control Panels as they've been known since System 7) have been available to customize your computer in multitudes of ways. Everything from patching the Disc Eject routine to play a vomiting sound when ejecting a disc, to useful things like changing the Menu names to being little Icons that didn't take up as much space, or putting a clock into your menubar.

    Don't want to rely on someone else's utility to edit your MTU, why not write your own?

    Here's your API Documentation: CommSvcs/OpenTransport/opentran sport.html []

    Here's the Open Transport (the Mac's TCP/IP stack) SDK & Example Code: nTransport/OT2.6/Open_Tra nsport_SDK_2.6.img.bin []

    Here's a good introduction to Mac Programming: []

    Pesky bugs annoying you? Here are a few debuggers: ers/ []

    Oh, and here's your free (Gratis) Compiler: ols/ []

    It can be done.

    flames > /dev/null
    "mac suck" > /dev/null
    Intelligent content > /dev/console
  • I remain uncertain as to the link between age-consistancy-quality-and ease of use. He says nothing about it being too new.

    From the article:
    Linux, on the other hand, pops up around 1995 after the GUI market had twelve years of development - and promptly reinvents the wheel and badly at that.

    By this criteria Windows is the best program in the world, and Microsoft writes all the best software in the world.

    MS has a huge commercial marketing team, plus they have been found to be an illegal monopoly using monopolistic practices to kill competiton.
    Perl is a free scripting language that gained ALL it's popularity by word of mouth between programmers. Apples and oranges.

    True- please start distributing your Linux Kernal with all the modifications that Linus et al do not want

    There is nothing stopping anyone from doing so. As you say the good projects do not have people branching off from them. They are GOOD projects. That is what makes OSS great, the best software wins, not the best marketing team.


  • Mac users catch as much flak as they do not because they aren't usually programmers, but because of the smarmy Apple ueber alles attitude that Guy Kawasaki and his ilk have engendered. Amiga users had the same attitude problem, and it was so extreme that I suspect that it was at least a contributory factor in the demise of the Amiga.

    (And yes, I realize that there is a contingent of Linux users who do the same damn thing. And the prospect that they might kill Linux by associating it with asinine script kiddies scares the hell out of me.)

    I'm okay with people using Macs as long as they don't bug me endlessly about how I should switch platforms. Linux is "working for me now", which is something Macs can't possibly do for me in much the same way that Linux is not (at least not yet) ready to work out of the box for the average musician or designer.

    Real progress would be for the vast majority of all users on all platforms to support their platforms by dumping all their rancor on their particular platform's obnoxious advocates. Strident Mac advocates are the worst enemies of the Mac, and the same applies to other platform bigots. You play with your toys, and I'll play with mine.
  • by werdna ( 39029 ) on Friday July 07, 2000 @09:56AM (#951344) Journal
    Codewarrior became pervasive as a development tool for building serious applications, and with that, the death of open source for the Mac.

    The bottom line is that it is just too damned hard to port most stuff to the MacOS, simply because there is no infrastructure for porting (and then maintaining the port). For example, the most recent port of GCC to MacOS is ancient, and from that comes obstacles to maintain anything else in the OSS community.

    The lack of a solid command line environment is only partially an explanation -- MPW is free (at least now it is), and could have been a springboard for free development. But we just never had the technogeeks interested enough in these fundamental infrastructure tools to move forward.

    Absent a compiler, makesystem and uniform libraries to use other code, there never was the critical mass to do serious builds of serious software. The absent of the serious stuff meant the benefit of OSS was never felt or perceived by MacTech community -- including those of us who live to breathe in U*ix on other platforms.

    There needed to be a core of beautiful tools before a core of beautiful applications could be found. Build that (on any platform) and they will come.

    MacOS X has this basis built-in. Perhaps things will change soon. Time will tell.
  • Actually, it is all irrevelant when you consider that the author has NO complaints about Linux, only XWindows (the GUI) which was devloped completly seperate from and long before Linux.

  • by HeghmoH ( 13204 ) on Friday July 07, 2000 @09:59AM (#951346) Homepage Journal
    Wow. Where to start, where to start.....

    Well, maybe that is why there aren't that many devlopers for MAC. Maybe that is why there is such a small base of software for the MAC.

    A MAC is an ID number found on ethernet cards. To get to your point, I've never had trouble finding software for my Mac, and there seem to be plenty of developers around.

    The other serious mistake the author makes is somehow equating Linux as a GUI, then the GUI is xfree86. Ironically, X Windows is one of the oldest GUI's in existance, and the author is trying to make the point that it is too "new" to be mature and compete.

    It depends on what you mean by "mature and complete." If you mean that it's technically flushed out, sure. It's old and stable and has a lot of work behind it. However, as a GUI, it falls pretty much flat on its face. It's not easy to use, and nearly every program has its own little way of doing things. Gnome and KDE may be pretty, but they don't address that fundamental problem.

    And yet it's one of the most popular OSS programs today. Not a very good example of OSS failing is it?

    Windows is one of the most popular pieces of software in existance today. Not a very good example of Microsoft failing, is it?

    We all know that popularity is a bad metric to judge things by. Perl is amazingly free and powerful. It's also a write-only language, and allows me far too much leeway in how I do things. Personally, I do much better when my language enforces things on me. The perl syntax is a hopeless mishmash. At my place of employment, when somebody needs help with Perl, it's almost always about syntax. Some of us have been using it for quite a long time, too. Perl may be powerful, but it is a very poor design.

    Don't get me wrong, I love *BSD, but what qualifies it as the fruit of OSS? I would put Apache or Linux in that slot, hell Perl has more of a claim to that title.

    Er, I dunno. Maybe because BSD is OSS, and has been worked on as an OSS project for years? What's so hard to understand about this?

    This same 'elitism' is what pulled us into a GUI based world of computing.

    I believe Xerox was the one who did that. You "elitism" is showing simply by insuating that Apple invented the GUI.

    He never claimed Apple invented the GUI. He said that Apple popularized the GUI. There is a big difference. Xerox may have made the first vaguely-practical GUI system, but they couldn't market it worth a damn. They didn't even try. There's a long, long road between having a proof-of-concept machine and having a system that sells millions of copies a year.

    This guy really seems to have some deep anger towards OSS and the success of Linux, and while he makes one or two good points, they are overshadowed by his inaccurate claims.

    This guy really seems to have some deep anger towards critics of OSS and the success of Apple, and while he makes one or two good points, they are overshadowed by his inaccurate claims.

    There. I'm off the sarcasm bandwagon for today.
  • by HeghmoH ( 13204 ) on Friday July 07, 2000 @12:01PM (#951354) Homepage Journal
    That it great, but many have. And that is one of the main reasons for Mac's low market share, lack of software. There are not as many devlopers for Mac as there are for Windows and Linux.

    Well, I have no figures, so I can't dispute your figures as far as number of developers. I would be interested in hearing any more specifics you might have about not being able to find Mac software.

    What is the fundamental problem you speak of? That there isn't consistant interface? That is EXACTALLY what KDE and (to a lesser extent) GNOME address.

    No, the fundamental problem is simply one of ease-of-use. Usability isn't graphics, it's underlying design, and KDE and Gnome do not address it. Neither KDE nor Gnome will fix the problem that I have to learn four different ways to use copy and paste, depending on which programs I'm working with. With a Mac, every program is the same for fundamental things like that.

    I think the underlying problem here is the assumption that everything has to be simple and easy to be "good". Perl was DESIGNED to be powerful, the trade off us ease of use. You don't buy a S/390 to do word processing, so why use Perl if you want a simple, easy to learn/understand scripting language? Use VB if that is your need.

    I disagree: the underlying problem is the assumption that usability and power vary inversely. I run across this assumption more times than I care to think about, and it is patently false. For any given design, the ratio of power to ease-of-use tends to equal some constant k. HOWEVER, that constant can be changed by changing the design. I'm currently having loads of fun with Objective-C. It is far easier to mess with than C++, but fundamentally more powerful at the same time. There is no good reason why $_, @_, $@, etc. should be legal variable names in any language. They're pure nonsense. Why couldn't they be given more descriptive names? It wouldn't kill the power of the language, only reduce the ability to write incomprehensible statements. This is, of course, only a simple example.

    Neither could Apple, that is why Microsoft REALLY made the computer the household appliance it is today and nearly destroyed Apple in the process. Sure Mac has it's nitch and it's even making a pretty impressive comeback, but for all it's userfriendlyness and technical superiourity, it was beaten by Microsoft's marketing machine.

    Apple was the first to introduce the GUI to the masses. Apple enjoyed massive success for quite a while with it. The fact that Microsoft beat them at that game eventually is irrelevant: Apple did it first. Xerox didn't even try.

    I do, when they use blatent false statements (Linus was the only one who wrote Linux, it wasn't reliased until 1995, commercial software is more customer driven, etc) as their basis for finding fault with it.

    But those don't form his basis, they are simply examples. His point that the Linux kernel is tightly-controlled still stands. The fact that Linux is written by programmers FOR programmers is obvious to anyone who's tried to show a bash shell to somebody who's never seen an UNIX-style command line but is otherwise highly computer-literate.

    That's a very humerous turnaround of my words, but humor aside, what innacurate claims did I make? Aside from correcting the author on his innacurate claims the only one I made that is questionable is about Mac not having many developers. By comparison to Windows and *nix, it doesn't.

    Claiming that Xerox foisted the GUI upon the world would be one. I don't believe you really made too many false claims (I admit, I was just having fun with your words), but you are either misinterpreting, or having trouble seeing the issues from the writer's point of view.
  • I'd agree with that, and I think the "ease of use" zeitgeist associated with Macintosh, not to mentions Apple's insistence on advertising itself as a colored appliance, not a technotoy, attracts people who just aren't that interested in programming or real serious "technical" computer pursuits. They're users, and "casual" users at that who actually *care* what color their machine is.

    That, and the relatively smaller userbase of Macs compared to Windows means that there are fewer people who are *capable* of serious O/S coding in Macland, even if the Mac userbase had a proportionately equivilent makeup.

    There aren't flames, Mac users, just my sense of who the Mac users are and who the PC users are.
  • Agreed. Linux is already a complete and total success for me, i.e., it lets me do what I want to do with a computer: tinker, write programs, pursue bizarre experiments of little interest to anyone else, etc. And it freed me from the tyranny of Richmond, which ever since Win95 had made me dislike my computer.

    Commercial success for Linux would be nice, since that tends to attract developers, some of whom will write new free software, but hardly essential. The domination of the low-to-mid-range server market that we're approaching may be enough for that. But it's hardly necessary.

    Will the day come when the current Mac crowd switches to Linux? I rather doubt it, and I don't care. Why should I? I've got what I always wanted right now.

    Except adequate documentation. I'm not holding my breath on that one, though. ;-P
  • I guess I shouldn't expect to be taken at face value.

    I didn't mean an "average" Mac/Win user. I meant a person (I had someone specific in mind here, you see. I've been working him through some basic bash stuff on and off for the past couple of weeks.) who, I think, has been doing computer-type stuff for longer than I've been alive. But he's not much of a programmer, which is why he hired me. I don't see why something that a very smart person has a real difficult time figuring out should be expected to be universal, or required for "real" use of a computer.

    It's not like calling someone who knows 50 english words "literate." It's like calling someone who doesn't understand Wiles's proof of Fermat's Last Theorem "illiterate."

    About perl, ok, they have long names. I think I might have even seen this mentioned in the O'Reilley book I used to learn the language. However, I've never seen them used nor mentioned outside your post and about two sentences in that book. And my original point stands: why are the short names even allowed? Ok, I admit, my perl code can be made as readable as I wish, but it's really difficult to do when everybody around me is making the standard unreadable code, reference books and sample code are equally cryptic, and the language seems almost purposefully geared to make things hard that way.
  • A major difference that must be kept in mind is the fundemental differences between MacOS/Windows and *nix (Linux in peticular, but it works for most). Linux was originally designed as a bazzar-type project. As such, it is designed for the people who want inner access to the system. To those who want to add, and inovate. Most *nix software comes in source form for me to compile on any system, weither an iBook running Linux or an intel running OpenBSD. This is the market it is designed for - control freaks and people who like to take stuff apart.

    MacOS (and Windows), however, has been a consumer-oriented system from the start. I know I complain about how closed MacOS is all the time. However, by hiding the insides, it is much easier for the non-computer people to use. And, the software is designed for this market.

    So, in the end, I would believe that's why open source is such a bigger hit on *nix based systems - unlike the MacOS users, it is full of people who would love to innovate the software. I hardly believe the mIRC users on the christian chat [] would be as likely to innovate the SMB protocol, when they can barely get ICQ and Hotmail working. (and don't care at all.) =^)

    i've looked at love from both sides now. from win and lose, and still somehow...

  • Ok, ok, you're right. I should have posted a link.

    Go to, click on "tools" in the middle bottom of the page, then click "Macintosh Programmer's Workshop." That gets you to ols/ [].

    MPW may not have a pretty integrated environment like CodeWarrior, but it gets the job done. It works on PowerPCs, it works under the latest OS releases, it can be used to build top-quality software. It also has a pretty decent command-line shell for those of you who like that sort of thing. (It's actually mandatory that you use it.) The free MrC and MrCpp compilers, which run under MPW, are considered by many to be the best optimizing PowerPC compilers in existance.

    So, there you have it.
  • by Pope ( 17780 ) on Friday July 07, 2000 @07:58AM (#951375)
    An opinion from a Mac guy:
    Most of the Mac people I know are artists, musicians and designers. In other words, not programmers. This is Apple's main market, and these folks probably couldn't care less about whether or not their programs have source code because they wouldn't know what to do with it even if it was available.
    Me? I'm in with them: an HTML and graphics guy. I'm not a programmer by trade, but am enthusiastic about the Open Source movement as a whole. I have PHP3 installed on my server and will eventually figure it out because I want to make better Web pages. I'm also really looking forward to OS X to see what things like Apache will do for me.

    I've used my share of OSes and platforms, and the current MacOS does what I want to right now. In the future, this may change, but I like what I have.
    The general rancour I've seen from the so-called 'Open Source' community against people who aren't programmers will hardly lead the masses to the cause.


    Freedom is Slavery! Ignorance is Strength! Monopolies offer Choice!
  • Actually, most Mac users I have known have quite udnerstood my desire to use Linux. The two are complimentary, after all. What we Mac users (you see, I wear two hates) do take objection to is people who use Windows willingly as well as those who choose Windows for others. Windows is an uglified, crippled Mac OS. There is little competition between the Mac and Linux; their domains do not overlap by much.

    OTOH, there is a great deal of competition between Linux and Windows on the one hand, and Mac OS and windows on the other. Windows cannot be a good server platform, yet it cannot be a good desktop platform. It is a bastard, attempting all and perfecting none. The Macintosh has perfected the desktop; I seriously doubt that we in the Linux world will ever have anywhere near as coherent, elegant, refined, intuitive and all-round cool as the Mac interface. Unix in general, and Linux in particular, has mastered the server realm. I seriously doubt that we Mac users will ever have a platform anywhere near as stable, expandable, programmable, scalable and all-round cool as the Linux platform.

    Windows addicts will carry on in their folly, and we in both camps will laught at their misfortune.

    That said, both platforms can get much better. WTF's up with Aqua? Linux is still not IMHO serious competition for Solaris, HP-UX or AIX. All things come to those who wait...

  • I guess one reason I think Perl is poor is my philosophy on these sorts of things. My current (as in, could be and probably will be different by tomorrow morning) philosophy is that if there's more than two or three ways to get something done, the language is pushing things a bit. C's ability to do a=a+1, a+=1, and a++ and have them end up being exactly the same disturbs me. Worse, with C++ operator overloading, you can make a++ do something DIFFERENT from a=a+1.

    I often joke that I don't know a programming language that I don't hate. (I'm probably in the wrong field.) Objective-C is the sole exception for the moment, and part of me fears that it's just because I learned it about a month ago, and that I'll hate it in time.

    Not all languages with complicated, arcane, and powerful syntax start off ugly and become beautiful as you learn. For me, C++ was the exact opposite. I thought it was cool and wonderful and beautiful, until I began to delve. I didn't really start to hate it until about four years after I started learning it, but I didn't use it extensively in that time.

    Perl I started off disliking. I don't have enough experience to say yet whether I'll appreciate it more or less as I use it further.

    I haven't read Cryptonomicon, so I can't comment there, but keep in mind that the best literature tends to be much more simply-written than the language is capable of. Even Shakespeare wrote [incredibly well-crafted] street language, for his time.

    Flexibility is a good thing to have, but only in certain situations. For example, flexibility in how to implement copy/paste is most emphatically bad. Basic operations like text editing and menu behavior should be exactly the same throughout the OS. The true Mac philosophy, which is certainly not often followed well, is to eliminate any needless complexity and give the user just what he needs.

    Of course, Mac programmers aren't forced to follow Apple guidelines any more than KDE programmers must follow KDE guidelines. Just look at almost any recent Mac game to see that. For some reason, game interfaces are always strange and messed-up, and don't use OS facilities. But Mac users are a very picky bunch; more than once I've instantly trashed a shareware program because it changed my screen resolution without asking me first. It's a minor thing, but it bugs me, and there's no excuse for it. The authors lost my money, assuming they would have had it otherwise. A tendency toward UI foibles is eventually self-correcting with Mac software.

    The big problems of GUI are solved, so they're no longer special. Anybody and his brother can put up windows and menus and have the hard parts taken care of for them. What matters is the details. Things like placing the menu bar at the top of the screen, so it can be reached in .1 seconds instead of .5. Things like trying to make every program on the system have interfaces that are as similar as possible. This isn't directly counter to flexibility, but it does require a different approach.
  • the guy who wrote the article does not get it, so who cares what he thinks.

    Some people, like Richard Stallman, have always tried to keep a bit of this spirit alive - admittedly, it must be like fighting uphill in an avalanche.

    what's with the verb tense? Stallman can be nothing but pleased at the linux revolution (yeah, yeah, I know Gnu...) and the way it has taken on a life of its own: linux is not an uphill fight. Linux is the avalanche.

    So why hasn't it caught on on the Mac? Open source developers want to work on open source systems. With Linux and BSD (and running on Mac hardware too) why write code for the Mac? Damn things are needlessly more expensive anyway.

    But this doesn't mean there will never be opensource on the Mac. Opensource has strong positive network externalities, and if it ever establishes a critical mass of code and coders on the Mac, it would prove to be a highly tenacious subculture that would begin to sweep aside commercial software just the way it's doing in the x86 world.

  • by blameless ( 203912 ) on Friday July 07, 2000 @08:01AM (#951384)
    I disagree.

    The fact that the MacOS is so shrouded breeds more curiosity.

    The real reason is that, for years, the Mac has been viewed as a 'toy' by 'real' computer users.

    The funny thing is, this view became popular because of the Mac's GUI. For some reason, this perception has persisted, even after the command-line was jettisoned by the vast majority of users in favor of a MacOS ripoff.

  • Have you ever seen the tools to open and old mac? In the words of one person, "it looks like you're about to perform open heart surgery." The insides of old macs are dangerous places. I know a bearded unix guru (tm) who was blown across a room by the picture tube in one. I recently broke the seal on my mac classic picture tube during a routine hard disk removal. Bummer. The point is that no programmers want a computer that they can't tinker with. The os is the same as the hardware.
  • Open source programmers are very often from a Unix background. Actually, most Unix users know at least a little about programming. Mac users, on the other hand, often don't care how the programs work. They expect them to carry on working forever without a hitch.

    Now, sit down and think about this sentence for a while: open source programmers make user interfaces for other programmers. Look at X and the bazillion of different toolkits, skins, themes and general crap. Compare that to the simple elegancy of MacOS where every app behaves the same way. Just throwing in Emacs or another similar application to a Mac user is likely to give a hurl of dislike, since it doesn't follow any Mac user interface guidelines at all.

    Making Mac users enjoy open source software is therefore easy: make a user interface that is aimed at the user, not the underlying program model. That is - make applications that don't suck.

  • We can and We can cheaper. While some people may have the programming talent and free time to write an alternative to "expensive" software, the true motivation for open source is people being cheap. You're not interested in developing better software than what is commercially available, you're looking to develop and adequate replacement that is free.
  • For a well designed program in Windows all it takes to have multiple versions of a libary is a simple edit of the registry. While Windows isn't perfect Linux isn't exactly the cream of the crop. I'm actually tired of messing with libaries just for shit to work. I think the idea purveyed with OS X on Mac is a good one (originally part of NeXT), libraries and apps stored in packages so that multiple binary versions can be stored in the same file. The best Window's program breaks few or no other apps, the worst Linux app will fuck up your system. It is all a matter of quality, not the inherent abilities of the operating system.
  • by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Friday July 07, 2000 @12:35PM (#951398)
    First jumps to mind, the Linux core kernel was /not/ written by one person (Linux), if one looks at current development, there are many, many developers that have contributed parts to the core. Rik van Riel and Andrea Arcangeli (plus John Quintela and many others) work on the VM subsystem. Alan Cox works on almost everything :) The statement that Linus wrote the whole core is total BS - there have been many many contributors.

    That's not what he's saying. He's saying that Linux has 1-3 central decision makers who have all say over what goes into the system. You can liken Linus to the Pope of the Church of Linux with people like Viro and Cox being Archbishops. The fact is that unless you get the approval of a small number of individuals, your patch doesn't go in in a successful Open Source project. This is to prevent crappy code from getting in. This is identical to the way it works in commercial companies. In fact, from what I've read, this makes Linux far more cathedral-like than Microsoft. Read the link provided by this [] old Slashdot story for more on that. Maybe that explains the creeping featuritis in MS software.

    Now, the GUI issues. Apparently, he has never used GNOME or KDE....

    Maybe he has. At least, I've used GNOME extensively, though I've never touched KDE. If it's anything like CDE, though I have serious issues with it.

    The standard GNOME configuration provided with Red Hat gives you all sorts of chances to customize yourself into a corner, but does extremely little to address the key GUI needs of improving workflow and providing usability guidance to the user. The help program provided is of little practical use in learning how to move around, and the extreme level of customizability means that you will very rarely have any level of consistency in the behavior of mouse-focus and clickable actions from machine to machine.

    The latter means that a user must relearn how to navigate the system each time they sit down at a differently configured machine. In Human-Computer Interface classes, they teach you that this is bad. Linux tries real hard to improve Ease of Use, which is important for frequent power-users, but they do it at the expense of Ease of Learning, which is important for inexpert users.

    The high level of customizability means that every user is an inexpert the first time they sit down at someone else's configuration. Most GNOME setups don't provide good tooltips or other forms of help to let you learn this new system. Due to a lack of standards in application design, what one user learns from learning to use one application rarely applies to another application. This is also known as Bad HCI.

    Pick a few simple tasks. How do you set a background in Red Hat's GNOME setup? Do you do it in the GNOME Control Panel, or do you do it in Enlightenment's configuration? If you do it in both, which has precedence? This is redundant and confusing functionality. This is what results from having no overseeing architect for all areas of design.

    How do you launch an application? Ah, ah. No cheating and using the command line. Do it with the GUI. Now launch an application that is not part of the standard setup in the GNOME start menu clone. Was that honestly intuitive the first time you tried to figure out how to do it?

    Open a file someone gave you. Can you do it without having to know what application to load first?

    These are simple, common tasks that GNOME does inadequately because of no central overseer in the design of the system.

    ...and never heard of Eazel.

    Oh, you mean vaporware. Sure... That's an example of a working, consistent GUI for Linux users today.

    Not only that, but he fails to remember the overall crappiness of elder GUI's.

    Like what? Smalltalk-80? Windows 1.0-3.11? Hmmmm... X11?

    Mac OS 9 is the leader in modern GUIs. Find me something superior. Honestly. The closest competitor is the BeOS. Nothing in the Unix world comes even close.

    He fails to see the original purpose of Linux (just a toy??)

    Yes. Just a toy. Linus was a grad student who created a hobby project to better familiarize himself with the 386 archetecture and to provide himself with a hobbyist Unix for his PC. That it grew into something greater is a happy accident. The desire for security, stability, and networking came from the desire to make it a better clone of Unix, a commercial system which had figured out these issues first.

    This is the only right way to design a system...

    This is not the only correct way to design a system. You must first understand your users, a task that many Linux projects, often started by young, inexperienced college students, fail at. The Mac OS was designed for ground up with a different goal. Usability. This kind of hubris that "my needs are everyone's needs" is one of the core problems with Linux getting a good UI.

    To be honest, most of the Mac OS's current instability came from the introduction of extensions into the archetecture. This was an attempt to give developers more access to and control of the system. Well, that and some bad code that seemed to get introduced in System 7. Mac OS 8 and 9 have a far more solid core than many give credit for. There are some lingering design limitations that came from trying to cram functionality into 128K of memory. They are paying the price today for being too clever back then. Unix has had 30 years to straighten itself out in a variety of backwards compatibility shattering ways. (I don't even want to get into what AIX alone has done to drive developers to dementia.)

    The problem is that Apple isn't willing to risk insecure and buggy code like Microsoft was. They might be able to make all of the current Carbon codebase modern while leaving the older function in place in the same manner that Win32 does with Win16 and DOS calls. They aren't going to do that, though.

    Of course, our talented (ahem) writer fails to point out that there is a good reason that MacOS X is being built on top of a BSD kernel.

    He assumes that it's known. However, do you think that Linux as whole could shift to running the monolithic kernel over a capabilities-based microkernel for improved security reasons? No. Apple can afford to make this radical change precisely because of the Cathedral style of development.

    That completely doesn't diminish his point. The weakness of OSS is HCI, which is the Mac's strong point. The fact that RMS had the utter gall to tell developers that focusing on UI was wrong shows how little the Open Source and Free Software movements seem to understand the user base.

    Nothing gets my goat more than someone telling me that a flaw in a piece of GPL'ed software is nothing bad because I could always fix it myself. That kind of condenscending attitude towards the user is what hurts OSS the most.
  • by xtal ( 49134 ) on Friday July 07, 2000 @08:06AM (#951402)

    One of the reasons linux is insanely popular with it's users is that it is an operating system developed for, and by, the developer mindset. I love linux because I can do absolutely whatever I want with it, to it, and for it, without anyone telling me "no you can't". Mac and Windows are operating systems for "Everyone" and their dog.. so of course, they're not designed for the hard-core segment of the market that founded this industry - the geeks!

    The crux of this is that do we really want linux to be mainstream? I don't really think that people are working to make linux mainstream - sure, the installers are getting better. Sure, we have gnome, kde, berlin - but these are still made for and by developers and the hard-core, just those that want it to look prettier. People are working to make linux better, and that's what makes it great.

    This article misses that very key point that in many cases, the users are the programmers. There's no great divide between the two like in the Mac world - I would hazard a guess that the majority of Mac users have never compiled a program. I would hazard a guess that the majority of linux users HAVE compiled a program before, and in many cases, I'd guess they've even compiled the kernel - the OS itself!

    Windows is fine for some people, it's not fine for me. I don't develop in Linux for the windows sheep. I use linux because I want a powerful OS that lets me do what I want. There just happen to be a lot more people like that than Bill Gates things, and because a lot of those people are developers, the end result is a whole shebang of software and "nifty stuff".

    The french have it right: To each their own. Those that want linux, will come. I don't plan on ramming linux down anyone's throat (although it might be fun to ram up another orfice of one or two CEOs.. *grin*)

  • RMS isn't arguing that "the Open Source model isn't necessarily the best development model all of the time". RMS argues that free software is just *right*, and prohibiting sharing is, well, wrong. When people argue about these issues as if they are to be judged solely on their efficacy at producing software which doesn't suck, I understand better why RMS rejects the term "Open Source" altogether.
  • For example, take this statement:

    First, let me ask you a question: if you make your living by selling service on software, what's the motivation to make the software as easy to operate and maintain as possible? The answer? Well - not much. And so we have Linux. Very powerful. Very flexible. Very hard for average computer users to configure and maintain.

    Motivation to make software easy to use? How about "Nobody will use my software if it's too hard to operate?"

    I was hoping for some genuine insights into views of Open Source from a Mac vantage, but I don't think it's a terribly insightful (or even realistic) view of the situation...

  • Well, ESR is obviously right that Mackers can't tell the difference between the UI and the OS functionality because here (and elsewhere) Lewis himself keeps conflating UI and OS.

    Question: is the UI part of the OS?

    When we criticize Windows 2000 as being a large monolythic black box, we assume the UI is part of the OS--it's all in the same box. Nevermind the fact that the Windows 2000 OS is organized as a series of processes around a kernel on top of an HAL--we can't see the UI process, so it's obviously "integrated". That is, it's part of the OS, at least for purposes of Microsoft bashing.

    But it's not part of Linux, because we can see the process launching, and we can turn the UI off if we choose to. In fact, we even know that there are hooks in the X server which allow us to hook in a different window manager--so we don't even consider the window manager as the overall UI.

    Yet--the UI is part of the OS when someone is critical of Linux by claiming that all those wierdly named command-line tools are a pain in the ass to use. That is, we consider the UI part of the OS when someone says "Linux is hard to use by the typical consumer"--because XFree comes in the same RedHat box as the Linux kernel.

    So is the UI part of the OS? I guess it depends on who is making the argument, and if it supports our arguments...


    There are inconsistencies within various WMs, by the way--some X applications don't go to the extra services provided by those WMs but roll their own (or include gadgets with other WM styles), and so some applications present an inconsistant UI from the surrounding WM when launched. This is often touted as a "good thing" by most Linux programmers, yet is it? That is, is it a good thing when xman presents a different scrollbar and gadget look and feel from Netscape?
  • by Spasemunki ( 63473 ) on Friday July 07, 2000 @08:06AM (#951410) Homepage
    The author seems to be assuming that every OS is targeted to the same market segment. With that line of rational, if Linux is trying to hit the same people as Mac, then yeah, it's doing pretty poor. But Mac is a near-total flop for a person who wants to tinker, build, destroy, and improve without shelling out for proprietary courses. I think that is the big issue right now with Linux, and its one that gets dodged in this article. Where is the platform headed? Is is to remain in the domain of servers and cool projects for tech hobbyists? Is there even that much interest in the community in targeting slapping a Linux box on every grandma's desktop on the planet? Mac does great at the market it has already picked out for itself. MS does the same, by and large (yeah, the irritate the hell out of me sometimes, and fall on their face, but so does everything else, once in a while). Linux is unique among these in that it has not clearly defined where it is going to sit in the OS world. A lot of people want to keep it as a hobbyists machine; lots of power, lots of experimentation, and more work for the end user. Some elements (especially the commercial distibutors) would like to see it become more of a business player, or a Joe & Jane home-user desktop product. No one knows right now. The criticisms in this article definately have some substance to them. I just wonder if some of them are based on the wrong criteria- like saying that a 12-gauge shot gun is a poor tool for making caserole.

    "Sweet creeping zombie Jesus!"
  • My wife used to have an old tower-case Mac which simply would not give you access without going down to your local firehouse and getting the jaws of life.

    The other day I took a hammer to the thing for shits and giggles and could barely get the case to open.

  • But they'll never be able to do them well, without being able to actively engage the computer and understand how it works well enough to communicate to it what you want.

    Even Macintosh people don't deny this.

    However, there are two questions which begs to be asked. First, by redesigning the application around some simple (and consistant) user interface guidelines, how much functionality can be bring out to the casual user? Second, how can we design the application so that when a user decides to actively engage the software to better use it and understand how it works, can we provide a better roadmap and a better experience without frustraiting the user?

    These two questions have nothing to do with having a pretty graphical user interface. What they have to do with is having a good human/computer interface, where the human is in direct control, and where the computer does not frustrate the user either by attempting to take control from what the programmer thought was a Luser (that cursed Microsoft paperclip comes to mind), or where the computer leaves the user hanging with some obscure "?SN#31192@coref3.c: operation cannot be completed" error message.

    In order to make a user's experience better, programmers have to remember a few things. Casually dismissing these points runs the risk of making your software difficult to use--and as any Macintosh programmer will tell you, making your software difficult to use because you're too lazy to consider the users (NOT "lusers") is not elitism--it's just plain laziness.

    1) The human is in charge. Don't grab the mouse pointer from him/her, or interrupt the input process with "helpful hints" or otherwise assume the user is trying to do something.

    This means no "modes"--that is, don't force the human to walk through some sort of "maze" of program states which seem obvious to the (lazy) programmer but which is counterintuitive to the user. (In fact, if the only "mode" your program has is a modal dialog box saying "I'm broken--sorry", that's best.)

    And this means providing some form of "undo" to the user who was just playing around with your program.

    2) Make the often used features "obvious". Setting a font in a word processor should not be accomplished by hitting "Control+Alt+F3", which is "clearly documented" on page 172 of the manual, as a side note marked "unimportant."

    This also means don't make the interface of your program inconsistant with other programs on the same platform. For example, setting the font on the Macintosh should be accomplished by having a "font" menu--this is part of the UI guidelines, and every other application on the Macintosh that makes setting the font a major feature (like word processors) do the same thing.

    And this means eliminating unnecessary clutter--which is just a great way of hiding stuff in the open. Keep the design clean, though permit the user to dive down into the complexity if the user chooses. (That is, if part of your application permits the user to drop into an editor to edit the underlying perl scripts that drive your application, great! But don't force them to edit a perl script if they don't need to.)

    These two rules are not rocket science. They're just good rules of thumb. Unfortunately, most Linux programmers and many Windows programmers seem to share two opinions which are contrary to these rather simple rules of thumb.

    First, many programmers confuse power with obfustication.

    And second, many programmers view users as "lusers," only worthy of their contempt and not worthy of their time or effort.

    These two attitudes do not fly well in the Macintosh developer community.
  • Also, he keeps talking about "customers". Hey, the developers *are* the customers.

    I think you're missing the point that he's making. Developers aren't the only customers. RMS's little tidbits about how the Mac community has a problem because they focus too much on the end-user is what angered a number of Mac developers for whom the end-user is all important. Coding for developers encourages you to take the lazy mindset, "It was hard for me to code, and it should be hard for you to use."

    Lack of competition in Open Source?

    Again with the missing of the point. He was saying that OSS doesn't really have live-or-die competition. If you have enough of a devoted niche following, your little program can live forever without a need for usability improvements to attract new users. Your followers are experts from the early days and don't need such "candy-coating." Even if you give it up, they could let it continue. This is a weakness as well as a major strength.

    You can pry the shell from my cold dead fingers!

    I'll just mention that the shell will still be available for Unix diehards. You can use it in the same way you currently seem to be using it, in a big, resource-hogging GUI session. I just hope it doesn't encourage lazy programmers to force normal users to drop down to it like UNIX commonly does.

    Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds! I like my crazy Enlightenment UI with custom flaming chrome skulls with eyes that light up when you move the mouse over them instead of a little "x" to close a window! I don't want any boring Mac UI that some UI drone dreamed up! But then I'm a unix guy, not a Mac guy.

    Consistency is necessary for quick workflow and ease of learning. When you make someone a newbie everytime they sit down at or new machine or make them waste time fiddling with controls until it becomes useable for them, you have stolen productivity from them. Your emphasis on the chrome of your system shows how much you focus on the style and not the substance of good HCI. Of course, you're a UNIX guy, not a Mac guy.

    A good UI should let the user carry their knowledge of one app over to another. This is why consistency is a good and necessary thing. The obsession with "theming" in modern Linux apps shows how little the developers understand about getting the HCI right the first time. Spray painting a rotting chocolate cake brown doesn't make it fresh and edible. If the core functionality is screwed up, no amount of tying bows and ribbons around it is going to make it good.

    Ok, I'm going to stop bothering to argue with this article, because I see that the viewpoint from which it was written is so different and foreign to me that there's no point in it.

    Now we're back at the original author's point. The idea that the Open Source model applies to everything is false. A system founded on principles of good HCI can't really work with a hundred conflicting egos ignoring one another and breaking all consistency. Good HCI requires good centralized software engineering. Since most OSS projects started out as hacks, there has been little recognition of the value of good software engineering in the OSS world. Mac developers recognize it and don't want to be told to give it up.
  • Last line is great! As a programmer, I'm distressed when I hear other programmers going nuts about people who can't program. [If you want a really good example of this crap, check out any talkback on zdnet. Yeah, most of the posters seem to have only slightly more knowledge than non-programmers, but they're very loud.]

    I also agree with the idea that, "this is working for me now." Even as a programmer, OS programming doesn't interest me that much. I don't want to spend a lot of time monkeying with my OS if I don't have to. I want to pull it out of a box, install it and forget about it.

  • *All* the APIs on MacOS are published - nothing hidden ... there's just a lack of very much good documentation

    I'm not disagreeing with you or anything. It's just that I think there's a funny irony here.


  • The article got me thinking about a few points:

    1) how many people actually look at and suggest improvements for the Linux kernel (honest question, I have no idea) who are _qualified_ to make informed suggestions (by this I mean just not counting the crap that must get mixed into the list)? How does that compare to the number of personell at microsoft plus all their serious beta testers. I would guess it would be larger, but by how much?

    2)As far as putting customers first, I think Linux has come a long way in this regard. I purchased the distro I did because it was already set up with the features and add ons that _I_ wanted. In fact, Linux users have an advantage here (at least, the moderately educated ones do) in that different distributions seem to be geared toward different user types, rather than the windows one-size-fits-all (ok, two sizes - secure and unsecure, workstaion and server, ok 4 sizes *grin*) model

    The author lost me in the middle somewhere, where apple specifically got dropped from the discussion somewhere, but it seems that Apple (once the mac came) was always a different kind of company in that they made _everything_ proprietary, down to the fonts on the keyboard. They didn't distinguish between hardware and software at all in their marketing, at least when the macs started.

    It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Mac has been successful being closed in a niche market, but it seems to be shrinking as other machines can now do the publishing and imaging that only macs could do.

  • The view of Macintosh as toy has been supported for years by an OS which has failed to advance in any way that matters - That is, under the hood.

    OS X may show us all a new side of apple. I've heard a lot about the internals (as have we all) and I'm fairly excited about it coming into the 1970s (ha ha) with the Mach/BSD guts. Now if they could just avoid that foofy button bar. They could have just slapped NeXT's Dock onto the screen, maybe had it default to being across the bottom with an option to move it to either side or the top of the screen, but NO. They had to invent this game-interface style button bar that expands and contracts like an earthworm when you mouse over it.

    Apple will continue to be looked at as a toy as long as they continue to jack their prices up by designing cutesy see-through cases (Though I do like the four handles) and waste CPU time by squishing and stretching their icons.

  • Who would program for something that they had to pay to release it for?

    Console game developers.

  • Well, this article, though appearing smart from the outside, is yet another grossly uninformed peice of semiFUD.
    First jumps to mind, the Linux core kernel was /not/ written by one person (Linux), if one looks at current development, there are many, many developers that have contributed parts to the core. Rik van Riel and Andrea Arcangeli (plus John Quintela and many others) work on the VM subsystem. Alan Cox works on almost everything :) The statement that Linus wrote the whole core is total BS - there have been many many contributors.
    Secondly, the "priests over the bazaar" statement is BS as well. RMS never suggested that there should be no control over the development process by project leaders, etc... And this would not be priests - these would be individual operators standing at their tables, and choosing which suggestions and contributions to take. Total bull.
    Now, the GUI issues. Apparently, he has never used GNOME or KDE, and never heard of Eazel. Not only that, but he fails to remember the overall crappiness of elder GUI's.
    He fails to see the original purpose of Linux (just a toy??) and does not point out that it has it's priorities straight : a rock-hard core built for security, stability, and networking, and GUI's, etc... on top of that. This is the only right way to design a system - what good is a GUI that crashes a lot (i.e. MacOS 8? MacOS 7? MacOS 9?)
    Of course, our talented (ahem) writer fails to point out that there is a good reason that MacOS X is being built on top of a BSD kernel. Why? For the same reasons that I stated above - MacOS 7-8-9, etc... did not have a solid core.
  • What a stupid piece of FUD.

    The author claims that Open Source projects get their stability from their minimalism--and constantly uses Perl as an example of what is wrong with Open Source projects.

    In the meantime, the Mac has to be the most minimal, sparse, stupid, unusable machine. It can be as friendly as a frickin' perky Walmart greeter--that doesn't help you when the only buttons you have to choose from are "Ok" and "Less Options"!

    I mean, really, the Mac only has one (annoying!) widget toolkit, it doesn't know what a "console" is; if you want a shell, you have to get some third-party GUI app! And if something goes wrong... uh-oh, it's a cute little bomb, and you didn't restart your mac properly, did you? Silly user, it's all your fault.

    Now I admit, a lot has probably changed on the Mac in the few years since I've been avoiding it, but I'm sure that whatever the Mac people come up with next, it will annoy me just as much; except possibly MacOS X. Since they were doomed to reinvent UNIX anyhow, at least they cribbed some notes.

    Now, the other side. The strengths and weaknesses of Perl are that it tries to be all things to all people. Perl can be programmed in many different styles, and none of them are "right", because TMTOWTDI. You can program it in an object-oriented, C++ looking fashion, you can make it look like C, or shell script, or even in Scheme if you squint at it a bit. (car, cdr and cons are trivial to impelement; always use references to get closures; always use references and closures to implement functions...) It has native support for the C libraries, native implementations of many handy shell commands, and an enormous number of add-ons.

    So does it have a consistent, clean syntax? Well, yeah, if you're used to C, shell, C++, Scheme, and Java. Rather, say that it has a rich history, and it isn't designed for minimalists. However, if they use a little self-discipline, I'm sure that Mac people could write their Perl just like C, or maybe Pascal, with a few little hacks. They wouldn't get the power of Perl, but they can feel superior in their artificially clean syntax.

    I don't really see the point to it, though; it all compiles to the same code at the end, and you should be able to write it however you want. Why should a company force you to do it just one way if you don't want to? You are the customer, after all. Could there perhaps be a big button on the Mac that says "More Options", or even better, "Don't treat me like a frickin' moron"? I'd rather write my own code than make my living selling condescension.
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • by jht ( 5006 ) on Friday July 07, 2000 @08:15AM (#951439) Homepage Journal

    Finally, a lucid explanation of how the Open Source model isn't necessarily the best development model all of the time. It generally makes a lot of sense, and there are a lot of things it's well-suited to, but the points made in this article are valid and real.

    Commercial software is typically designed for the simple purpose of making money. Not to make the world a better place, and not to do "something cool for the community" in order to satisfy egos. It's written to provide a useful program that pays the salaries of the people involved. Sure, there's exceptions, but that's the basic gist of it.

    That said, what Apple has done is finally come up with a model by which they can exchange something with the community (Darwin), and yet maintain what they feel is their proprietary asset (the consistency of the Mac UI "experience" so they can sell more Macs and make more money for the employees and stockholders. Even though I'd like a little more from them, I'll settle for this. I have Apple stock - I don't want anybody to be able to make a Mac (which is possible when it's all open), but I do want people to be able to take advantage of some of the cool stuff Apple's done to improve other products and systems. It's a decent compromise.

    Not every program benefits from Open Source, either, though many do. I love Bungie and Id's giving away old game code to help jumpstart programmers and projects, but you don't see any of them opening up their latest and greatest engines, either. That's because the latest engine is something they can earn money licensing - they leave money on the table if they give the latest stuff away. But at least they share something, if not everything. Corel Linux may be open, but Corel WordPerfect isn't, and never will be, I bet. Companies need revenue somewhere, and unless you're in the systems support business, if you give away razors you need to be able to sell blades. The only reallt open commercial office suite, for instance, is StarOffice. But Sun isn't using StarOffice to make money - they're using it to try and sell Sun equipment and they're giving it away because it may help them towards that goal and because Scott McNealy has a personal vendetta against Bill Gates (but who doesn't?). StarOffice is a razor, and Sun workstations and servers (and their little bitty SunRays) are the blades in this scenario.

    I think that the Mac overall will do just fine with no more Open Source contact than they have right now - but I would like to see more. Some programs will benefit from being opened, some will not. People like ESR (and a lot of the /. community) want everything to be open, RMS (and another huge group of /.ers) want everything to be Free. The real world is far more nuanced than that, for better or for worse.

    - -Josh Turiel
  • By the way, while I can certainly see how you would have inferred from the author's phrasing that he thought Linux was created in '95, if you read carefully, you will see that another interpretation is possible: that Linux first started to reach a critical mass of popularity in '95. That's certainly consistent with my recollection.

    I had actually thought of that too, but it sounds to me like he is using the date to suggest that linux is too "young and immature" to compete with the older OSs. If that is what he was getting at, the popularity is irrevelant.

  • >He was not a great Apple CEO, but far
    >from the worst.

    Are you SURE about he's held in higher regard than spindler?

    It may have been just another legend to spawn from Silicon Valley, as so many are wont to do (especially legends regarding Apple), but...

    I'm almost SURE that I have read SOMEWHERE, that amelio is held in such low regard, after having so totally proven his blundering incompetence at Apple, that his name has been adopted as the unit of measure on a "stupidity scale"... as in a person/thing/project is as stupid as a certian multiple of amelio's own stupidity...

    for example...

    "m$ bob? now that product is at LEAST two gils stupid"


    "You actually BOUGHT bob??? jeeze, you are four gils stupid!!!"

    (using bob as an example that even the most rabid microdrone can agree was a DUMB idea)

    Resistance is NOT futile!!!

    I am not a drone.
    Remove the collective if

  • Gee, and which company was it that released HyperCard and bundled it (and a developer's guide) with every computer for 5 years?

    Oh, that's right. Apple.

    HyperCard was a billion times more powerful than either of the BASICs bunded with the Apple ][s. It was better than the CBM BASIC and 6510 ASM that I grew up with on my C=64.

    So, you're full of crap. But that's OK. I expect that from highly-moderated posts on /. when Apple is the subject.


  • It does make sense that average users are going to want a consistant (read "enforced") user interface so they can instantly know how to use any given piece of software. That makes sense from an end-user point of view, and that is fine, but as far as i'm concerned, end-users can go nibble a knob-end.
    I don't think non market-driven (read "not developed by big companies") open source software will be ready for those people any time soon, because those people are a pain to deal with, and programmers for the most part (at least these days) work on open source projects in their spare time, and to feed themselves and make rent they usually work for some evil corporation that writes software to please those users, and when they have to unwind at the end of the day, they write software that is relaxing and sane, and reverts to their idealistic dream of how simple it used to be back when they were first learning and had the docrtine of "Input->Processing->Output" drilled into their head, before all of this horrible "event-driven concurrent multithreaded bla bla bla..." stuff, all to support an essentially single threaded task on a single processor machine just so that some pissant user can click on stuff to vent their impatience while something happens from their last click.
    That rant being said, I am happy with the idea that users can continue to pay people like Macintosh to wrap all actual functionality in a standardized UI, and programmers can continue to do things more efficiently by using their unglamourous and cryptic tools.
    I also think that the GUI revolution is part of why users feel so clueless, and don't learn to program anymore. Somebody asked me to walk them through creating a hello world under windows the other day. I had to stop and think, either we go with simple C win32 thing, but to print text we have to jump through all these hoops, etc... and then the person will expect it to work like a teletype window, when actually they have to write that themselves, or aside from that, we can go use a MFC control for that, but that is it's whole other set of headaches. When i learned (c. 1987) things were _much_ simpler, and the bridge one had to cross from user to novice programmer was quite small. Nowadays, under a modern GUI-only OS, you have to pay several hundered dollars for a compiler/degger/editor suite, then you have to work your way through several textbook sized tomes just to make a simple GUI app with no functionality other than the GUI. It's a lot tougher now.
    Just some thoughts.
  • You should have tried a screwdriver.

    (From the man who opened his iBook the other day)
  • Actually, there's another really good reason why it's hard to develop open source software on a platform with closed source tools... unless your target users/hackers have the same tools you have (and thus paid the bucks) the source code it useless... and this greatly reduces the number of people who can make use of the code.
  • A Macintosh user has the audacity to lecture the linux faithful on its fanaticism. Jeff Lewis may not be a zealot himself, but the Mac tribe he belongs to is legendary for its loyalty and its fanaticism. Having been a member of both the linux and Mac tribes, I can understand both forms of fanaticism, and in fact they have a lot in common. Sure, the technical details are different, but it's never really been the details that make a fanatic. It's the big picture, and in the big picture both Mac users and linux users are still on the outside looking in. I know it's oversimplifying somewhat, but in my experience it's being on the outside, on the fringe, on the margin, part of the minority that tends to drive both kinds of fanatics. The technical details may be different, but I don't see all that much difference between the fanatics of both tribes. (The merely loyal, though may be very different.)

  • Because, in terms of openness, Mac is to Windows as Windows is to Linux.

    I don't quite understand why you'd say this. Have you developed on a Mac before? *All* the APIs on MacOS are published - nothing hidden, since Apple doesn't have a browser or office suite to push. A lot of the newer extensions, like Game Sprockets, are open sourced. I don't recall Apple ever publishing *any* system tool or utility in an .sea that popped up a non-disclosure agreement. And I won't even start with the "MacOSX -> Darwin -> BSD" thing because I have the feeling that's going to get done to death for this topic.

    That said, I think the state of development on the Macintosh is pretty sorry, but not because the hood is welded shut any tighter than Windows. If you want to continue the car analogy, it's because Linux and Windows development environments are like really nice brand new Mister Goodrench facilities where there's a guy available to explain exactly what they did to your car, while for the Mac the only place is 60 miles away and staffed by Billy Bob Thorton from "U-Turn". When I started playing around with 3-D engines, I found exactly one so-so tutorial that didn't nearly cover everything on the Mac side. Thus, I've gone and gotten a Win9x box to learn development on. You can write software just as well for any platform, there's just a lack of very much good documentation - and thus an incredibly high learning curve - on the Macintosh.
  • the times of Gil Amelio produced some pretty bad stuff

    Actually, most of the closed Macs came out during the John Scully or Michael Spindler eras, not the Gil Amelio era. Amelio was basically brought in as a hatchet man to trim Apple down. The bad thing under his era was that very little of anything new came out.

  • You might want to take a look at A complete development available for free download has been available for awhile and the Metrowerks compilers were playing catch up to them until just recently.
  • by Life Blood ( 100124 ) on Friday July 07, 2000 @08:42AM (#951467) Homepage

    The articles misses the big driving factor for Open Source development. He states that there is none because OS is not driven by the monetary economy. While I think OS may actually be more monetarily efficient in the long run, he missed the driving factor behind Open Source.

    Open Source developers are driven by pride. If you create or maintain an OS project, this is something you can take pride in. This is important because while you can make lots of money from producing a crappy product, you cannot take much pride in it when everyone can see how crappy it really is. This pride aspect actually drive OS creators to make better software more than money ever could.

    He also states that OS programmers tend to write small efficient codes that do exactly what they need very well. Somehow he sees this as a disadvantage. When does bloated code become a selling point?

  • by finkployd ( 12902 ) on Friday July 07, 2000 @08:46AM (#951472) Homepage
    Bowie, for every one open source developer that gives into greed, or sells out, or whatever you predict happens, there will be several more to replace him/her. The movement is growing, not just on the corporate end of things, every time I turn around there is another OSS project begining. Yes, many of them will fail and disappear, but with all the devlopers moving to Linux daily, how can you begin predicting the end while everything is growing?

    If Linux fails COMPLETLY on the commerical front, who cares? RHAT, LNUX, Corel, they cal all disappear and it wouldn't affect the community that much. We already have a usable base of software and many of us have invested years of "fun" into devloping programs for Linux, those people wont stop.

    Perhaps I get a little riled up when people judge Linux's success and future by corporate standards, but let's face it, we were here before the Linux commercialism and we will be here after it. I personally could care less about how Linux stocks are doing, I care about how my server is doing. That's MY movitation, and many others like me. If you believe that OSS will die if the corporate support vanishes, then you must not realise that OSS existed before RedHat and VA.

  • I am unhappy with the way in which this author discusses PERL, a language that I believe is very useful and above all else, fun...

    I can understand this person's annoyance with tools and computer applications that take a great deal of energy simply to learn and understand...He is obviously an end user who believes in the mythical standards of "elegance" and an authoritative notion of what is correct in terms of programming language syntax.

    I find PERL to be amazingly elegant, at times very concise, and above all else, unbelievably useful. To me, it is a triumph of Open Source ideas. The MacOS system and attitude feels to me like a marketing concept, a billboard...a tool to provide Apple Computer with revenue.

    The cathedral rarely gives me control over my computer, but it does often makes me sit through advertisements when i boot up!!!...

  • Have you ever seen the tools to open and old mac?

    It's called a Torx bit, size 10 or 15, IIRC. And there's a tool called a "case cracker", but you can substitute a screwdriver or knife blade.

    If you do open an old Mac (128, 512, 512kE), you'll see the signatures of everyone at Apple who helped create it, embossed on the inside of the cover. I always thought that was pretty cool.

    Really, you don't have to be McGuyver to open up an old Mac.

    "In spite of everything, I still believe that people
    are really good at heart." - Anne Frank
  • Man, can we ever hear it for bad moderation? I'm usually the first to defend moderation around here, but this was just pathetic. A rambling post that was completely unrealated to the topic on hand (Open Source on the Mac) that not only was poorly argued, but factually weak.

    Why do I say that? Simple. OSS has been about fun all along. And that's not going to change. The 'enterprise' can come and go, but you'll still find people who want to make a better system because they can.

    Also, if the use of another person's work to advance one's career/pocketbook was a bad thing, the whole capatilist society would have gone to hell by now. Last time I checked, it's was the so-called 'haves' using the 'have-nots' to advance in life. But I digress.

    Simply put, OSS is not driven by greed and it never will be. It may be used in such a fashion, but why should that become a problem now? People have been coding and using Apache for ages now, others have been making money off of it. And yet, it still gets better.

    I'm done. Don't ask why I'm posting this at Score:2.
  • Now, the GUI issues. Apparently, he has never used GNOME or KDE, and never heard of Eazel. Not only that, but he fails to remember the overall crappiness of elder GUI's.

    And I think you missed the point. By the time Linux was invented, there had been more than 10 YEARS of end-user GUI experience. At this point, there have been 16 years since the first Macintosh. It is clear to all but the ostriches of the software world that GUIs are better suited for most people for most tasks than CLIs.

    What have the legions of OS programmers done with all of this experience? Nothing. You can't find a usability expert who thinks that GNOME or KDE or whatever is better than the Mac OS was 10 years ago. There's lots of ranting about the superiority of the command line, and lots of promises about how well the next version of GUI foo will work. But customers want GUIs that have at least the functionality of Windows. Until Linux delivers, it isn't going to be on the desktop in mass quantities. With the piss-poor attitude of Linux developers, it won't happen. Ever.

    And by the way, can you show me some running Eazel code? Or are you citing vaporware as proof of current functionality? How very Microsoft of you...


  • To me what seems to be the centerpoint of this article is how Open Source doesn't work for the end user. Macs are touted as being 'designed for' the end user who has no interest in coding/debugging etc. but simply want good software that's easy to use. Thus the commercial, closed source, model needs to be used to develop this kind of software.

    Sounds to me to be very circular logic. Mac is not Open Sourced because Mac users are closed source. Mac users are closed source, because Mac is not Open Sourced.

    I think both sides may be missing the real point. As ESR said in The Magic Cauldron [] Open Source business practices need to be service oriented. Mr Lewis is of the opinion that this will breed even less friendly software. Why? Because programmers are lazy? Because they're greedy?

    Mr. Lewis is correct though--the future of software design is ease of use; something Mac has in spades. It is also service oriented, which is what Linux has in spades. Maybe OS-X will actually combine these into what I think might be the holy grail of operating systems, but I doubt it.

    The Open Source movement has visionaries--Eric s. Raymond, Linus Torvalds, RMS. Now what the movement needs are some visionaries who can implement the paradigm shift in the IT industry itself, on a business level. It's coming, but if you don't 'get it' from the user's angle, you may be left behind.

    Just my thoughts.

  • Is there an organized troll program to moderate each other up so they can screw up /. more than they already do?
  • A very good article that's worth a read before you blindly attack it.

    More and more it is becoming apparent that access to the source code of a program and Open Source development are two different animals. Having access to the source is a good thing, be it simply access or complete GPL or BSD freedom. Most cases of solid, commonly used programs with available source don't follow anything like ESR's bazaar development model. Linus rules the kernel with an iron fist, refusing additions simply because they add clutter or are, in his view, ill-conceived. There don't seem to be any successful projects using the herd of cats style of development. There are certainly lots of failures, though.

    It is also becoming obvious that having hundreds or thousands of developers working on a project isn't leading to innovation. We've been struggling along with GNOME and KDE, both of which have the feeling of being rushed and missing the mark, and the entire goal of those projects is to mimic the Microsoft/Apple desktop environment. And they're still based on the embarrassing X Windows system. The funny thing is that if just about *any* company decided to spend the money, it could develop a sharp alternative to X in six months. It's not that big a project. Apple isn't using X for Aqua. Linux software still seems so backward, possibly because the user base is a jumble of zealots who hate people interested in usability, others who mistake advocacy with computer use, and programmers who want to hack on projects but don't know what their goals are.

    The Linux kernel is a great piece of work, but we are being beaten into irrelevancy in just about every other realm.
  • Linux was originally designed as a bazzar-type project. As such, it is designed for the people who want inner access to the system. To those who want to add, and inovate. Most *nix software comes in source form for me to compile on any system, weither an iBook running Linux or an intel running OpenBSD. This is the market it is designed for - control freaks and people who like to take stuff apart.

    This is a huge, huge misconception. It reminds me of the common newbie programmer obsession with irrelevant performance--the kind of thing that makes one write custom versions of memcpy instead of the system library version because of a perceived speed boost, even though it ends up being *slower* by a factor of two.

    Do you spend your days pouring through source code to understand how it works? Do you submit kernel patches to Linus? Do you rewrite parts of the operating system to benefit you in tangible ways? Do you think that you're really going to get some big boost in your productivity this way? Or is this just your hobby, and playing sysadmin is the end, not the means?

    The truth about Linux sysadmining on your own machine is that you don't have as much control as you think. You're dealing with a big system and there's lots of poke around in and twiddle with, but you're not getting anywhere. It's just a game, not something with a point.

    Linux people have a hard time differentiating between diddling and using computers. One is self-referential, the other is not.
  • They're users, and "casual" users at that who actually *care* what color their machine is.

    Well, for any platform, some fraction of the users will be casual. Taking your 'this is not a flame' statement into account, I postulate that Mac users are generally made up of two, not one, contingents. Those who are playing at home (browsing, etc.), and those that need to get their work done (probably both at work and at home). Think about how much intensive work would not get done near as quickly or as well without the Mac platform... graphic design, sound design, video editing.... right or wrong, there are whole commercial sectors that would cease to exist as we know them if Macs suddenly disappeared. Think before you speak - Macs are fantastic for some tasks.

    It is possible (and indeed likely) that for any given job,

    • Ease of use == getting the job done

    Sometimes that means a shell script on a linux box, and sometimes it means AVID.

    On the other hand, your point about OS coding is right on - and important.

  • I think that some are missing an important point - there are several major schools of thought on how something should work :
    A) The nerds, who want control of every aspect of whatever-it-is.
    B) The worker-grunt, who just wants the !@#$%^&*() tool to do what they need it to do, without a 6 month training class.

    Now most folks fall inbetween the extremes, but those are boundary points. Sure, you like to dig into the source code and twiddle this or that obscure parameter, but when you flip on your TV do you want to tune the RF and IF filters and adjust the LO level and ... or do you want the TV to light up and work.

    There's 3 or 4 parameters that could be diddled on a refrigerator, outside of the "cold" control do you want to be messing with them? An artist usually wants to control saturation and hue and form, not understand how the software accomplishes that control.

    I once worked at a medical electronics company where I was shown the next generation mock-up. It was designed by engineers for engineers; the front panel was filled with button, knobs, and lights. The final product, after the end users gave their feedback, had one dial and 8 soft keys, of which 4 were usually in their default meaning and 2 of which were really used. The users didn't have to look at the panel most of the time while using the machine, the simple controls, well spaced, let them watch the patient and video screen while tweaking what needed tweaking.

    All the controls the engineers had put on the front panel were still around, just buried down in menus or from a service port. They were used during the earlier stages of development, and then slowing became unused. The end users had little to no need to access those control functions, although the original design engineers that they were absolute requirements.

  • I was away from my Mac earlier this week, so I didn't get to post in the previous discussion. Here's my $.02 :

    Why is everyone saying there is no open source on the Mac?
    1. My favorite NNTP client [] is a descendant of NewsWatcher [], open source for Mac
    2. My favorite Telnet client [] is a descendant of NSCA Telnet, open source for Mac
    3. Want other examples? Try VersionTracker []. And here's some more [].
    4. Want to write your own? Apple gives you the tools [].
    So just what is up with these articles?
  • You know, I have a slightly different take on that. I see the value of Hypercard to be the first really popular 4GL type environment that was point-and-click programmable. Later environments like Power Builder, Visual Basic, and others owe a lot to the structure and features of Hypercard.

    If you compare it to the competition at the time - for example the hugely difficult to use Clarion - Hypercard was just as powerful, and anybody could write a simple app with it.

    Having said all that, I need to point out that I hate 4GL's and I love vi and c++. :-)
  • I am informed that the correct name of the demonic fucking paper clip is, in fact, "Clippit," and not "Clippy," as previously reported. Sammy Baby regrets the error.
  • I'm convinced the whole OSS movement will inevitably fail.

    I am not convinced of that. And anyway, what is failure and what is success? I don't think that OSS will have 'failed' unless nobody develops OSS or free software. Other people might say that it has failed if it doesn't eliminate closed source and commercial software entirely.

    It has its own demise built right into it..As more and more people begin to realize the somewhat disturbing truth about things (ie. people are making money off what you've done, and advancing their careers off YOUR hard work, while you get nothing) the whole system will slowly grind to a halt and fail.

    That may put off some people, but other people won't care. And not every OSS/free software developer will get 'nothing'. Getting nothing isn't an inherent part of the OSS/free software model, nor is getting something an inherent part of the closed source/commercial model. Lots of commercial developers see other people (their employers and coworkers or former employers or coworkers) make money off what they've done and advancing their careers off their hard work. Many commercial software development projects are just plain failures where nobody makes any money at all anyway.

    By the time that happens, fortunes will have already been made, and the ones who corrupted the process by introducing greed into the equation will have already moved on to something else.

    That isn't necessarily going to kill OSS/free software unless a large percentage of the community is dragged down by that. I don't think that is a guaranteed thing either way.

    OSS only works when the primary motivation of its participants is fun. When that motivation goes from fun to *greed*, the whole process begins a slow and irreversible decay as more and more people refuse to play along.

    I think that is an overly simplified view of things. There are a lot of other motivations for writing OSS/free software than just fun. Some people do it for ideologic reasons (the Stallman camp), others do it to solve a problem they need solved, and release the code because they don't need to make money from it, or because they don't want to bother with things like marketing, etc. There is a pay off for them in that other people may improve the software and they can take advantage of that, or just the ego boost from knowing that other people use it. Then there is 'abandonware', which is formerly commercial software that is given away by companies that no longer are interested in developing or supporting it.

    Thats my $0.02..If I didnt believe it, I wouldnt have typed it.

    You are entitled to your opinion. While I can see your points to a certain extent, and this issue is definitely something the OSS/free software community needs to be aware of and work to prevent, I am more optomistic than you are.

    I think that OSS/free software still has a long path ahead of it, one that is sure to be full of ups and downs and twists and turns, and perhaps even a few dead ends. But there should be enough people following the path so that at least a certain number of people will take the correct forks along the way.

    If I didn't believe there was a future in OSS/free software, I wouldn't be here.

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.