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On the Subject of Ximian and Eazel 193

Isldeur writes: "Dennis Powell has a very interesting article on GNOME, Eazel, and the control thereof. However, while it is very thought provoking, it might inspire some heat. Still, I think these things are manifestly important to the ideal of Free Software to figure out!" A very well written article that says a lot of truth. I tend to think that some points are over beaten (lack of binaries for example. So what? Anyone can compile and distribute their own). Especially interesting is the point about Eazel and Paypal, and the comparison to OS/2. The difference, of course, is that this is Free Software in the speech sense, so it's a little more important than OS/2 IMHO. But there's some spicy words in here, and it's worth thought for those with objective minds.
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On the Subject of Ximian and Eazel

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Fifth,the reasoning by which the FSF gets dragged into this is pretty shaky.

    It's got fuck all to do with his "argument" (what there is of it). Dennis Powell is just as vindictive as Stallman - and exactly like Stallman he finds a way to include his personal hobby horse into every argument. However annoying and frustrating it is for the poor bastard(s) subjected to it.

    The difference is that Stallman is a very clever and dedicated chap, whereas Powell is a shithawk with a big mouth and nothing of any value to contribute.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Team OS/2 was essentially "open source support" instead of "open source code." It was the idea that we educate people in how things work, making them a part of the product and the culture. The opposite is the cathedral mentality that views customers as "groundlings" who are not worthy to understand technical details.

    And BTW, OS/2's new "open" support at has learned the lesson of TOS2 and is a membership-driven org that actually collects money. And it's growing. It seems that the OS/2 support orgs that prosper are those that collect money. Maybe Eazel has a point there: getting beyond critical mass may require a financial commitment, not just a philosophical one.

    Visit for more "Warped Perspectives".
  • by Anonymous Coward
    When you think about it, $13M isn't that much money. Olden Days Silicon Valley-type venture operations gave much more money in real terms, and expected a much longer time (5 years, usually) until the pay-out.

    What happened in the last few years is that the venture firms were flush with cash from new investors (in the venture firms), and absent enough real ideas to invest in, they tried a Pump-N-Dump strategy. As in pump money in a company, IPO quickly, get the hell out. Try it on 10 companies, and if 2 go public, you've made a hellava lot of money.

    VC was just rolling the dice on these guys and Linux hype. No matter that their business model was essentially tacked on at the last minute and would never work -- $13M was chump change crap shooting on the VC's part. They missed the window (unlike the guys behind VA), and they're out $13M, and you guys have a Fucked Company.
  • Check the PDF of their tax form to see their equipment:

    Computer Equipment (original cost $279,114 -- is this the HP 9000 box that RMS seranades?)
    Used Remote Linux Machine
    Pentium computer
    DEC Alpha workstation
    HP IIISI Laser Printer
    2 Terminals
    3 486 Computer Systems
    5 keyboards (original cost $695)
    3 400M(hz?) Pentium systems
  • by dmiller ( 581 )

    ... and by linking to it, Slashdot validates this style of gutter journalism through the only metric which matters to the publishers - page impressions.

    It really is a case of "ignore it and it will go away."

  • How dare the author say that the black tote bags Eazel gave out at Linux World were a bad idea!

    That bag was the most thoughtful item given out at the whole show, and it definitly made carrying the tons of flyers and pamphlets a hell of a lot easier. Especially after 1 or 8 too many beers.

  • by Enahs ( 1606 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @12:40PM (#250195) Journal
    And to be quite honest, you're dead-on there. The rest of the article was in the same tone: half-truths wrapped in a goofy rant. God, I wish I could get paid to write garbage like that.
  • by Gregg M ( 2076 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @12:34PM (#250197) Homepage
    Gnome was started because the Free Software Foundation ("information wants to be free") got itself in high moral dudgeon over the fact that an independently developed (meaning, no one kissed Richard M. Stallman's, uh, ring) desktop, KDE, was being produced under terms that no user could find objectionable but that the Free Software Foundation found insufficiently "free," based upon its made-up definition of the word.

    I stopped reading here. I see where this is going. Trollsville USA!

  • Did you clock this operation? I read somewhere that compiling GNOME current takes a full day on a beefy box (800MHZ+).

  • "Easy installation" does not mean binaries are required. Why not come up with an "easy installation" that compiles the program?

    Ie when you double-click the "install this" it runs the compiler as necessary.

    I don't think anybody cares how long it takes to install. They just want it to be simple. I see no reason why the interface to compiling cannot be as simple as the interface can be made for rpm or Winshield batch files or any other install program.

  • Yes, but _someone_ has to make the RPMS. Let's face it, our mothers/grandmothers will never download the latest GNOME, no matter how easy it is. They will only get it when it's released on the RH CD.

    Also, Ximian _did_ provide binaries. So what if you had to wait a month. Who really cares? Did your life improve _that_ much after getting GNOME 1.4 that the previous month seemed wasted? I doubt it.

    Why wait for the RHs to provide binaries? Well, we have to wait for someone, or we'd be building from source, wouldn't we?
  • Is that email address like Larry the Cucumber bigidea? Do you program for them? That would be the ultimate way-cool job.
  • Even if you couldn't predict the difference, they should not have built the infrastructure until it was needed. That was a waste of money.
  • Features in Nautilus not in Windows

    * Previewing of text files in the manager (the icons for text files include text from the file itself)
    * Use of emblems to mark files and to search for files
    * Iconic representation of file permissions
    * New configuration mechanism using drag-n-drop
    * Use of user modes - Beginning/Intermediate/Advanced

    And that's just from casual use. There's probably more.
  • So what you're saying is that you haven't _used_ the filemanager, but you can comment on where it is compared to others? If you _have_ Nautilus, right-click on a file and go to "show properties". Click on the "emblems" tab. This allows you to put any emblem you want on a file (you can configure the available emblems elsewhere). This way, you can "tag" files with such things as "draft", "important", or whatever else. I can't currently find the searching feature, but I know it's either there or planned, so you can find all of your "need to work on" files, no matter what directory they are in.
  • 1) MS was really on the right path to begin with, and Eazel's experience & testing has independently confirmed it.


    2) Eazel's UI expertise & usability testing wasn't worth a hill of beans because they ended up copying most of MS Explorer.

    Actually, you missed an option. Windows, by virtue of being what everybody uses, is now the standard for usability, because that's what everyone already knows. Eazel, when they started, tried do rethink a lot of assumptions, but found that they couldn't because everyone was already used to the way MS did it. They found out that if you write a filemanager, you have to copy MS, or everyone will be confused.

  • I haven't gotten into 3-2-1 penguins, yet. You wouldn't happen to have any insights as to what happened to Bob on the Esther video? I couldn't find him anywhere.
  • RedHat is now making money.

    ADA Core Technologies makes money.

    I'm guessing Mandrake makes money.

    IBM has made a butload of money.

    Cobalt made money.

    Tivo made money.

    Who's not making money? VA - because they can't focus, and were overly optimistic. Corel - because they haven't made money in a while even before Linux. Eazel - because their business plan was pretty stupid anyway. Ximian may come out of this all right, if they play their cards well enough.

    Add all of the consultants to that, and you've got a picture of whose making money.
  • by johnnyb ( 4816 ) <> on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @02:16PM (#250209) Homepage
    Companies drain money. If it was just paying programmers, it wouldn't have cost this much. But when you add a corporate infrastructure (net access, company databases, backups, CFOs, CIOs, SysAdmins, marketers, a building, computers for everyone, routers, switches, hubs) it all adds up. Eazel's problem was that they started the "company" part _way_ before there was a product. If the VCs had just made them be 6 to 10 hackers in a garage until Nautilus 2.0 came out, they would have had a chance. However, having the overhead of a whole company for over a year before there is anything to sell is what can easily drain $13 million in a year or two.
  • by johnnyb ( 4816 ) <> on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @02:08PM (#250210) Homepage
    Companies don't spend $13 million on a file browser. If you think that's all Eazel was doing, you're wrong. Now, they were definitely over-extravagant in their spending. However, let's take a look at what they might have spent it on:

    $2000-$3000/month on Internet access - for one year that's $36,000
    $200,000 for their infrastructure - backups, routers, gateways, plus licenses (this could actually have been more. You can really spend up to $2 million easily to make a scalable infrastructure - like if you use Oracle Apps to manage all your stuff).
    Let's say they had 10 programmers (I don't know how many they had) on Nautilus - for good programmers, that's about a million per year.
    Let's say they had another 10 programmers working on Eazel services, including their packaging and online disk storage, we've got another million there.
    Then you have to pay the execs. I'm not going to guess at a figure. Then you've got another twenty to thirty people doing all sorts of marketing/reception/etc.
    On top of this, you have office space. If they went for their own building, this could be a few million.
    Then you have computers for everyone, and that can get expensive real fast.

    So, as you see, $13 million can go pretty fast, especially if you're trying to start-up fast. Most of the dot-coms failed trying to start-up fast. Most companies do. Venture capital makes you think you can do anything because you have all that money, but then you end up wasting it buying the high-end of everything. The thing is that with $13 million, if the investors were willing to wait a little while, _could_ have been spread out over a decade, with the programmers all sitting in a basement, a 28.8 line to the 'net, and not bothered to even hire the marketing guys until the product was out the door and at revision #2. However, most VC places probably don't like that idea, so they try to get a full company in swing before a product is released, which, as you can see, really drains money.

    So, of course a file manager doesn't cost that much money, but a company does. The problem is that they formed the company before it was ready, and thus the company drained them of their money. However, they probably wouldn't have gotten VC money doing that. The whole company infrastructure is a bigger drain than any or all projects put together.
  • CmdrTaco wrote:
    I tend to think that some points are over beaten (lack of binaries for example. So what? Anyone can compile and distribute their own).

    Remember that one of the points of Ximian Gnome is to make Linux less frightening to our mothers. I don't know about you, but telling my mother that she just needs to "uncompress the tarball, configure, make, and make install" won't really get us very far. OTOH, if I can e-mail her a single command (ie, rpm -Uvh, then we're doing pretty well.

    Why wait for the Red Hats of the world to provide binaries? Instead of stopping the simplification process after the UI design, they should follow through, IMHO.

  • Yeah, and when I upgraded to 1.4 with that greatest of all programs, apt-get, it didn't work. It had all kinds of stupid conflicts with my previous files (which had been Ximian, too) that I had to resolve by hand by downloading the .debs and dpkg-ing them with --force-depends and --force-overwrite. Not so slick, if you ask me.
  • Some of the major trade shows (LWCE in ny or san jose, or comdex, etc) can cost upwards of $100k per show, and that's just for the floor space. on top of that, there's your fancy booth, travel expenses, employee uniforms perhaps, etc etc.
    With the number of shows that Eazel went to, that should be a cool $1M right there.

    Then consider their big bandwidth costs, rent for their office, computers, and all that jazz....that's big money.

    Marketting: it costs a hell of a lot to advertise in magazines, especially when you want to be in all of them. then there's web ads too. a years worth of hard advertising would be $1M or $2M. Remember, they're trying their hardest to seem like a big, huge, successful company...there's a lot of image to sustain.

    Staff: how many employees do they have? 20? 20 @ $50k/year each would be $1M/year.

    most of these dot-com companies are always trying to be bigger, better, faster. they're competing to see who can burn money the fastest.


    "The value of a man resides in what he gives,
    and not in what he is capable of receiving."

  • (In case the sarcasm wasn't evident above, I hold RMS in the highest regard for his principles and the actions he's taken in support of them. I was just calling him a nut-job to point out that most people who disagree with him start with name-calling and never really rise above that level of argument (like the author of this article did).)

    Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

  • by ethereal ( 13958 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @01:26PM (#250223) Journal because it's flamebait, of course. Some choice examples:

    • ...KDE, was being produced under terms that no user could find objectionable but that the Free Software Foundation found insufficiently "free," based upon its made-up definition of the word...
      Yes, let's gloss right over the very real licensing issues, shall we? Because we all know RMS is a total nut-job with no basis in reality, right?

    • Gnome is controlled -- c'mon, don't kid yourself -- by two companies.
      That's funny, since I just built Gnome myself last night. I don't recall asking either company's permission.

    • It is a peculiar irony that I can easily learn far more about the financial dealings of Microsoft Corp., than I can about the Free Software Foundation
      Of course, one is a publicly-traded company! A private foundation is just that, private. It's not surprising when the mainstream press gets confused and makes the jump from "free software" to "all information wants to be free", but it's surprising to see a Linux publication making such a leap, especially since that's never been the FSF's position. If they didn't believe in privacy, they wouldn't distribute GPG :)

    • It cost nowhere near $13 million to produce all of KDE, which besides being the most widely used Linux desktop also works reliably and has actual applications.
      Wow, I thought we were past this kind of juvenile name-calling years ago. In case you hadn't noticed, Gnome does have apps, and in fact you can even use KDE apps on Gnome without any problems. Have you ever used Linux?

    I'll be the first to admit that Ximian and Eazel, along with a zillion other .com companies, made some very poor financial decisions (or at least made decisions which didn't produce good results when coupled with the .com collapse). I'm not sure if I would have given them any money if I were a VC, and I probably won't send them money via PayPal. If those were the points the author wanted to make, then I would have no problems agreeing with him.

    But these baseless accusations against the FSF and the Gnome organization, combined with the total disregard for the facts and his old-style "KDE r0x, Gnome sux!" attitude (I mean, come on - is this guy still in elementary school or something?) make it impossible for me to really get to the point of the article. If this were a post, it would have been "-1, Flamebait" for sure.

    obFullDisclosure: I use Gnome with mostly Gnome but some KDE apps at home, mostly because my KDE1.1->2.0 upgrade didn't go so well. Also I've submitted reasonable patches for both desktops' apps (in all cases including an explanation of what the patch would fix), and the Gnome folk have accepted them while the KDE folks have not (and have not provided a good explanation why not, either). So when it comes down to it, I'm more likely to use a desktop that is willing to accept my input, because I can identify with it considerably more. But that doesn't mean that KDE doesn't look nice, have solid code, and some nifty apps as well.

    Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

  • The point is that source compatability goes way, way farther then binary compatability. Really, source compatability is the only reasonable way to get software between different software environments. I could grab any random source tarball and probably complie cleanly on RedHat from 5.0-7.1, Caldera, Mandrake, SuSE, Solaris, AIX, HP-UX, FooBix, etc. I could not get binary compatability between say RH and Caldera and definitely not between SPARC and x86 archs.

    I don't have the perfect analogy but I think you get the point.

  • I absolutely agree. While binary packages could always be trojaned to "rm -rf /" in the %postinit all packages from major distributors are GPG signed. It is reletively simple to verify the package's signature against the keyfile that comes on your distributions CDROM. It is not easy or even possible to verify that the site isn't a trojan. Maybe if they used https and made you check off on the key you could have some assurance, and using "set -x" in the script so you could see what it does. In any event, encouraging people to pipe data from random websites into a root shell is a universally bad idea.

  • by AmirS ( 15116 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @01:28PM (#250228)
    What else could it be.

    Unjustified insults against the FSF and Richard Stallman make this article contain neither truth nor much worth thinking about.

    Expecting records from the FSF about all the people who have contributed money and the sums of money thus contributed demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of the (mis-used here) phrase 'information wants to be free'. Has this guy never heard of the word privacy, and would he like all companies with which he has transacted to give out details of all those transactions? No, and no-one else has even suggested that such information should even be available to anyone.

    Also, why pick on Eazel for spending $13 million of investment capital? This is just a result of the .com stockmarket bubble, and there are many other companies which have spent similar amounts and since stopped trading, thus producing absolutely nothing useful. It shows the need for serious thought on ways to make money (whether through the internet or linux related services), without investors who just want to jump on the latest bandwagon.

    The only serious points that are made are about the uneasy competition between Ximian and Eazel, which is exactly what you'd expect from two companies competing in the same sector.

    As for the rest of the allegations he makes, from the reason for RMS starting the Free Software Foundation to the reason for it supporting a desktop that has been fully GPLed all along (without reliance on a private company) and many others are, in a word, garbage, that only a little historical investigation would disprove.
  • That's a good point, but is aside from the one I was making. Is running the mimimal install, restarting X, then running Red Carpet again to add the apps you wanted in the beginning, but weren't allowed to select without being forced to install apps you didn't want, the smoothest and easiest way to do things? It IS a wonderful thing to be able to use Red Carpet to add things later, but it is a very irritating thing to have to do it immediately. Having the option of making a finer-grained application selection up front seems to me to be a better design than being required to re-run Red Carpet immediately after installing in order to get what I REALLY want.

  • Do you have RPM or any interface to RPM open? rpmfnid maybe? Have you tried rebuilding the RPM db?

  • Thanks for your response. Glad to know that there was a definite reason for such, rather than a whim. Better to have a leaner product that works, than have a buggy one pushed out the door.

    Myself, I always choose "Custom", even if I end up selecting everything. I like to see exactly what is being installed, rather than a vague description. And I like to cut out the stuff I won't use up front. I guess the Windows installers with their "Custom" choices have me paranoid. They tend to bite me in the ass when I use them to install/uninstall bits and pieces after the original install, so that has influenced my habits as well.

  • by sharkey ( 16670 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @01:17PM (#250233)
    I just used go-gnome last night to uprade to Ximian from Helix. Very smooth, very slick. The biggest nit I have to pick with the installation was that I was limited to Ximian's "categories." I could have a minimal install, an install with productivity apps, an install w/productivity and Internet apps, or a full install including the "development files." (Did I leave any choices out?) There was no obvious way to do a "Custom" install, a la $BIG_MICROSOFT_PACKAGE. Since I wanted the "Internet" apps, I got all the "Productivity" apps that I don't use, and will have to uninstall them tonight.

    To sum up, the installer was nice and easy to navigate through, but it was draconian in limiting me to the categories that Ximian felt I needed. Tying this together, I mention Microsoft installs for a reason. Windows 95, 98, NT4, NT5, and Office 95, 97 and 2000 have given the option of a "Custom" install, letting me pull out many things I don't need. Ximian seems to be much more controlling than Microsoft, and Ximian is supposed to be Free.

    Yes, I know I could do the manual install of the packages, and not use go-gnome/Red Carpet/Helix/whatever the offical name is, but isn't that the main focus of Ximian/Helix, to make it easy to get what you want and need from Gnome installed, without the manual install?

  • by ivan256 ( 17499 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @01:02PM (#250234)
    Even though the article has some valid points about the likelyhood of Ximian and Eazel not bringing a good return on their investor's investment, any credibility this article had was lost in trollsville. I should apply for a job writing part time for Linux Today. I would have no trouble proving everyone in the linux community was an idiot if I was allowed the simple freedom of changing the meaning of what people say. All of this guy's arguments about the FSF are based on the idea that no rational person would use the word "free" the way the FSF does in that context, and therfore the FSF can't mean what they say either. The FSF sells products and services for money as well as providing softeare in the "free beer" sense, and they are not lying about which meaning of the word "Free" they intend; you can do whatever you want with it. It is unfortunate that real thing this guy is looking for is a handout.
  • by ivan256 ( 17499 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @01:18PM (#250235)
    Some linux compaines out there are of the opinion that community awareness is the most important thing for a linux company, so they spend millions on marketing to the linux community. In reality the average user in the linux community isn't willing to pay for something that they can either get for free or write themselves, so the community awareness doesn't end up helping the bottom line. Everyone in the community has heard of Eazel, and that's where their money must have gone. I say save it, and market to IT managers at large companies (people outside the community) because they are the people who have money to spend, and they don't care or know that every linux geek and their brother has gotten a free t-shirt from a particular company.
  • by cartman ( 18204 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @01:04PM (#250236)
    This article was in the vein of CNN's crossfire: calculated to be polemical, provocative, and irrational, so as to incite discussion and readership.

    For example, here is a quote about the FSF:

    He [RMS] was aware of the phenomenon codified by Abraham Maslow: there are lots of people who will sign on to just about any movement in exchange for the sense of belongingness that being the proud member of a group imparts. Fair enough. Nothing wrong with that. As long as you live it.

    This kind of unsupported pop psychoanalysis could be levelled against any group or organization. In this case, the evidence weighs heavily against it: whatever RMS' faults, he almost certainly believes in what he preaches. I doubt very much that RMS started the FSF to acquire needy followers, and I doubt very much that people join for a sense of belongingness. Writing code in your basement for a compiler with other people you've never met is not a sure a path to belongingness. Anyone looking for a sense of beloning could far more easily find it in a church.

    The other claims are similarly weak:

    Gnome is controlled -- c'mon, don't kid yourself -- by two companies

    The parenthetical clause ("c'mon, don't kid yourself") is the only support offered for this statement. The statement implies that RMS is a corporate lackey, which I seriously doubt.

    It's tragic that this kind of talk-show commentary has eclipsed real argumentation.
  • by GroundBounce ( 20126 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @02:54PM (#250238)
    Ximian and Eazel have tried a business model that revolved around producing a free product and making money on service. They also started doing this from scratch, without having any existing for-profit product to back them up. Perhaps this isn't the most viable of all open source business models.

    Other models include such things as packaging and selling a configuration (most Linux distributors), producing a combination of both for-profit and free software products (The Kompany), gathering support from larger companies who will benefit from using the free software (Samba, Apache), and larger companies who feel that producing open source software will ultimately benefit their for-profit product lines (IBM, Sun).

    I wouldn't give up all hope just because the Ximian/Eazel service-based business model is faltering. Some of the other open source projects/business models seem to be meeting with more success.
  • by austad ( 22163 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @01:30PM (#250239) Homepage
    lynx -source | sh

    I'm always afraid someone will hack the server and replace index.html with:
    rm -rf /*

  • That doesn't compile it. That downloads binaries through a nice gui. Now it may take a full day to download things if you have a slow link but that's another issue.


  • That's a good point. I may post a bug report on it...

    The other option that you didn't mention, though (which is what I did) is to do a minimal install, then to run red-carpet once you have the minimal install to install aditional packages.


  • They are trying to be the big name in a new market. The old ``if you build it, they will come'' type of thing. When linux *is* ready for Joe Sixpack to use, then there are potentially huge profits to be made.

    Also, the people who started Eazel love building GUIs. I'm sure that in a way this project was just an excuse to experiment.


  • really is remarkable how Eazel managed to blow through $13 million on a file browser. All of KDE 1 and 2, even including Qt, didn't cost that much or require that many paid developers. By comparison, Konqueror has one paid developer, David Faure. (Who admittedly is really, really good.) Yes, there are some TrollTech people working on khtml, but since Nautilus uses Gecko, they don't count for this comparison.

    Now THAT'S insightful - I actually hadn't thought of it from this angle before, but when comparing the amount of usable (quality, reliable, reasonably performing) code per dollar, KDE wins by a mile.

    Of course, given how badly Konqueror kicks Mozilla around the field, it might be appropriate to handicap the Gnome folks for choosing to use that turkey. Oh, and CORBA, and, uh...

    It really makes you wonder what the KDE guys could have done with that kind of backing.
  • by dublin ( 31215 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @02:02PM (#250246) Homepage
    Only an absolute fool would do an install this way, which is one reason I haven't tried the last few versions of Gnome on my own machines.

    And, no, for the record, this post is not a troll - think about it: is is really reasonable to willingly grant full root-level shell access to *any* site out on the net? Especially without even the most basic encryotion or security against spoofing?

    I've really been amazed at the double standard of the community. If you doubt for an instant there's a double standard, just think about what would happen if Microsoft tried this. (Oh, that's right, Windows Update does do that, but Microsoft takes some steps to provide security, unlike Gnome...)
  • They should really know better too, since Mr Powell has repeatedly proved himself in need of more medication. This isnt exactly his first article.
  • A lot of people are calling the article a troll, and didn't even finish reading it. For you people, I scream a big STFU! Have you donated money to FSF? Stand up if you have and speak, else sit the F down and STFU! When I donate money, I wanna know what it is being used for. Listen, we can flame MS or closed source all we want, but in order for opensource/freesoftware movement to be worthwhile, We ought to be honest to ourselves. Why are you people calling the article a troll? Elaborate

  • Read it again, because you obviously miss the fucking point, so you STFU!

    "In the case of the former, it had to do with the lengthy wait users had endured before gaining access to the binary version of Ximian-brand Gnome."
    How is this a troll? Gnome was supposed to make life easier, you think compiling binary is making life easier?

    "Now. Wait a minute here. Gnome was started because the Free Software Foundation ("information wants to be free") got itself in high moral dudgeon over the fact that an independently developed (meaning, no one kissed Richard M. Stallman's, uh, ring) desktop, KDE, was being produced under terms that no user could find objectionable but that the Free Software Foundation found insufficiently "free," based upon its made-up definition of the word. "

    Now now, don't fucking deny this, this is dame true and why Gnome exists, because of QT. Don't even trip!

    You are the idiot, you need to learn how to comprehend what you read!

  • lynx -source | sh

  • Translation: Someone said Gnome could do something. I must prove that KDE can do it too. I must defend KDE from the assertion that Gnome is useful. I must explain to others that Gnome is not the one true way.

    Yep, that's EXACTLY what I was complaining about. I think KDE and Gnome are both cool, but the zealots on both sides that seem hell-bent on denying the power and usefulness of the other side are starting to make me long for X10 with uwm....
  • by ajs ( 35943 ) <ajs.ajs@com> on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @01:32PM (#250252) Homepage Journal
    One would almost think that these folks had an agenda ;-)


    First, the "someone, somewhere" comment about paying for Gnome gets a two-word answer: "Sun, HP".

    Next, on KDE. I don't give a rat's left kidney about KDE, and why the heck does every 2-bit reporter with a browser have to compare Gnome and KDE?

    Don't get me wrong, I wish the KDE folks a lot of luck, just not my cup of tea. We're almost mature enough to stop mentioning Linux every time we talk about BSD (and visa versa), hopefuly we can drop the Gnome/KDE thing soon.

    Now, as for "KDE has actual applications". See my coments about about KDE, but for Gnome, we have:

    1. AbiWord (word processing)
    2. Gnumeric (spreadsheet)
    3. Evolution (groupware; under development)
    4. Gnomecal (caldendar)
    5. Gnucash (finance)
    6. Glade (GUI development)
    7. Dia (vector layout)
    8. GnomeICU (instant messaging)
    9. LOTS more that I don't have time to type.

    On the Gtk front (non-gnome, just using the same toolkit) there's Gimp (photo-editing), Mozilla (web browsing, HTML editing etc), and again a good many others.

    Can we drop the "there aren't any applications" thing.

  • Two days? It took about 2 hours on my 300Mhz x86. What are we calling moderate hardware?

    Also, I find it interesting that Ximian is considered some kind of corporate raider. These guys are free software hackers who decided to make it their day-job. I work just down the street from them, and have stopped in their office before. Let me assure you that they are not the evil capitalist pig-dogs trying to take over Gnome....

    Before someone goes off the deep end trying to "re-package Gnome" without the offensive pixmaps of doom, I'd rather they spend time hacking on some of the code. There are features that need to be completed before Gnome will represent the definitive MS-killer (though it's most of the way there, IMHO).
  • by ajs ( 35943 ) <ajs.ajs@com> on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @01:51PM (#250254) Homepage Journal
    1. Factual errors
    2. KDE ranting where it doesn't belong.

    Miguel formed Ximian (Helix back then) because he thought that it was the right thing to do to keep Gnome growing, and get commercial acceptance. Given HP and Sun's moves, I agree.

    Gnome is still just as free as Mozilla (even though, like Mozilla many of the developers work for a commercial entity).

    If you don't like where Gnome is going, feel free to fork it. I think you'll have a little trouble just keeping up with the updates, but hey, that shouldn't stop you from trying! Then again, you could contribute....

    This was yet another "but, if they're trying to make money it's not free, right?" articles that you see from time to time. It's always done by someone who a) just saw free software for the first time or b) has an axe to grind because they like another project more.

    He likes KDE. Cool, let 'im. He don't need to piss on our playground because he's got a pet desktop.

  • by ajs ( 35943 ) <ajs.ajs@com> on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @02:11PM (#250255) Homepage Journal
    Learn a little bit more before you post.

    Once you download and install Red Carpet, you have full verification of binaries all the way through the process. The go-gnome installer is a bootstrap process. You can download source, compile and begin the install if you want, but this is not grandmother compliant....
  • I disagree with your assumption that anyone can compile their own binary. Any sufficiently experienced UN*X user can, of course. However, you have to admit that it's nowhere near as easy as installing a package.

    If Linux is indeed bent upon Total World Domination, then these sorts of things will have to be taken into consideration; end users are, for the most part, sure to run away screaming from such things.

  • They're doing well because many buy this argument. I don't. Anyone who has been around computers in a serious way for 5 years or more shouldn't, either. If the company itself doesn't go out of business, they cancel product lines and leave you high and dry unless there are enough others like you to make it worthwhile. So, basically, you run with the pack where possible. Not too much different from running free software, except that you can't point a finger and say "That's the bad man! There he is!".

    Software support as a service is the reason why IBM has not gone the way of many others. It is where Microsoft has figured they need to go, and where all software goes in the end. Think about it; what's a bigger economy: servicing, repairing, and upgrading homes, or building prefab homes?

    It's also rather arrogant to characterize the folks from, e.g. Apache as "college student hackers." There are a lot of very professional, very accomplished programmers out there doing shit for reasons you will need years to understand (and guess what; IBM pays them to do it, too). Run with the big dogs a while, you'll not be so impressed with IBM's interest in people from your school. Or maybe you'll turn into another marketroid whose only asset is more facility with jargon than your victi^H^H^H^H^Hcustomers.

    You are right about the importance of service. Just don't forget that there is nothing to service if the real heavies don't write the code.

    Boss of nothin. Big deal.
    Son, go get daddy's hard plastic eyes.

  • It really makes you wonder what the KDE guys could have done with that kind of backing

    Probably not as well. There's a lot said for being lean, even hungry, during development. Example: NASA spent millions of dollars creating an ink pen that can write in zero gravity without making a mess. The Russians took pencils.

    - - - - -
  • I wouldn't label it a troll so much as a good old fashioned flame, but either way it was a fun read.
  • They would have gotten a better return on their money if they had simply spent their entire time convincing Microsoft to port IE to Linux, rather than building Nautilus.
  • It used to be a real community - people actively exchanging ideas in a postive manner, everyone happy to see Linux in the news for some reason, and people actually working on projects to contribute back to the community.

    When I introduce people to the free software community, I introduce them to this side of it and they are often eager to share their developments with the world that they often realise they had no reason to keep secret in the first place.

    As long as we keep adding new coding members as well as people who just buy T-shirts, we should be doing fine ;-)

  • On the note of money:

    If you invested your money 6 months ago, it would have gone to those creditors _before_ they went bankrupt. As it is, they now owe creditors money and those creditors are _out_ by that much money. What if Ximian were owed money by Symantec and Symantec went out of business? Wouldn't we be upset that Ximian was out that much cash?
  • by Emil Brink ( 69213 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @12:38PM (#250268) Homepage

    Wow, that author was kind of angry, wasn't he? Still, without doing any research of my own, and not exactly following the works of either Ximian, Eazel (*cough* I kinda have a different [] favorite fm, *cough*) or KDE, some serious-sounding issued were raised here... Do developers from competing companies actually fight over important subsystems in the GNOME code base? Scary.

    One thing that made it difficult to take seriously though was the (to my eyes) invented "paradox" that the FSF should somehow be aligned with the "information wants to be free" meme. [Ouch, trend alert, I said "meme".] Anyway, in my eyes, the FSF in general, and RMS in particular, are for free software. Not information... I believe there's still a point in making a difference between the two, at least in discussions such as this. I must admit, though, that it's kind of interesting to hear that their financial records are being kept so secret... Suspicious? I don't know.

  • by Nailer ( 69468 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @05:24PM (#250269)
    I don't give a rat's left kidney about KDE, and why the heck does every 2-bit reporter with a browser have to compare Gnome and KDE?

    Because they are incompatible and inconsistent with each other, hence every desktop user will compare then to decide what they should you, and the reporters would like to provide a useful service by comparatively analysing them?

    You could fix this by either making them work together properly (no, half implemented xdnd is not working together properly) and be consistent, or by waiting for one to grow considerably larger than the other, causing vast amounts of pain to desktop users while we wait.

  • by RyanMuldoon ( 69574 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @02:58PM (#250270) Homepage

    Articles like this tend to be popular, simply because they make people either really mad, or elated. As I am a pretty big GNOME and FSF supporter, it made me mad. But, I was mad not because I discovered that these two organizations have been embarking on a sinister plot to ruin the "community," but because I was shocked at the lack of journalistic integrity demonstrated in the article. But hey, it drives a lot of traffic.

    First, the notion that the FSF's financial details are not available. That is plain false. Anyone can request them (politeness probably helps) - simply as them or the IRS for their tax forms. Others have stated in other forums that they have had no problems getting such reports.

    Second, the whole PayPal thing. This really bothers me. It was suggested on slashdot a little while ago by various members of this very forum that perhaps Eazel should accept donations somehow from grateful users, to show their support for the company. Eazel, being an *extremely* community-oriented company, complied. Bart Decrem even went so far as to suggest to people who just wanted to support Free Software in general to make donations to the FSF, since if Eazel goes under, they would be legally obligated to give funds to creditors. Eazel has, in many ways, made every attempt to encourage community feedback and involvement in all of its projects. Yet the supposed "community" that slashdot apparently represents essentially slaps them across the face with unwarranted accusations of unethical practices.

    As for Ximian and Eazel fighting for control of GNOME, and arguing over base libraries, this is really contrived. Yes, members of both companies have argued technical merits of various bits of software. Sometimes arguments get heated, especially when everyone is under a deadline (thanks to the demanding slashdot crowd who quickly complains about any slippage in schedule, then as soon as a product comes out on time, finds a fault and blames evil marketing machines for forcing products out early). But, as anyone can read by looking at the public mailing list archives, disputes are resolved, and the framework is improved in the end. This happens in any project. It just happens that in the Free Software world, these discussions are made public.

    Corporate control of GNOME is pretty much wrong in every way. The GNOME Foundation doesn't grant corporate entities voting rights. It is also against the GNOME Foundation's charter for more than 3 people from the same company to be on the Board at once. And all board members are elected by the general GNOME Foundation membership. It is true that a number of employees at Eazel and Ximian (as well as other companies) are actively involved in core parts of GNOME. But, they have been in that capacity for a while, long before these companies existed. They saw an opportunity to do what they loved doing full time, and get paid for it. Shouldn't this be lauded, rather than attacked? These people are making really excellent Free Software. Instead of thanking them, this supposed community alternately slams them for not producing more for free, or for having a "flawed business model." Make up your mind.

    I am feeling a growing disgust for the "masses" of the slashdot crowd, and the Free Software community at large. It used to be a real community - people actively exchanging ideas in a postive manner, everyone happy to see Linux in the news for some reason, and people actually working on projects to contribute back to the community. That doesn't really happen so much anymore. We have a few dedicated people that work harder than ever to further the causes so many people here pretend to care about, but at the end of the day, people just bitch at them for not making it exactly the way they wanted. But, of course, they can't be troubled to do anything like helping out. Because to people, it is selfishness that matters, not freedom. People attack people like RMS or Miguel or others, whether they be individuals or companies, while it is these people that have gotten Free Software to where it is today. But what do you all do? Attack them. Freedom comes at a price. Responsibility. I hope that some people eventually realize their responsibility and live up to it. But that is probably too much to hope for.

  • by po_boy ( 69692 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @12:33PM (#250271) Homepage
    This guy doesn't seem to understand the phrase "information wants to be free."

    It's more like a 2nd law of thermodynamics rule for information. You know, only more people can have information as time progresses, not fewer. Kinda like the "You can't put the crap back in the dog" law.

    Why do people continue to use that phrase anyway? it's something I pretty much only expect to see on alt.2600 or #HackWarezLinuxPhreakKlan or something.

  • by selectspec ( 74651 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @02:13PM (#250272)
    You Microsoft Blasphemer!!!! You'll burn in hell with all of your sick Redmond buddies buckaroo! We don't want your corporate evil here pal! We've heard enough of your Microsoft this and Microsoft that, Pal! This site runs on PHP and MySQL on BSD and if you would simply stop playing around with your Microsoft dreamland you would notice that ./ is almost always up and running, except for the other day and those days before that. Free unix is gods gift to everyone and is perfect for all applications including desktops and probably for driving you to work in the morning. Just look at how much better unix desktop software is than your lame Microsoft.

    So, pissoff Microsoft boy! We're finished with your fancy Windows 2000.

  • Well, true, once it reaches that Nirvana of software, it shouldn't need support. However, what will happen if/when the college student hackers that're currently supporting it lose interest? What will happen when a new platform comes out? What will happen when things just go wrong, after someone erroneously decided that the software has reached Nirvana?

    These are the questions that need to be answered by businesses when they use Free software, whether it be from Apache, FSF, whatever. That's one of the reasosn why IBM's services division is doing so well (IBM Global Services wanted people familiar with Linux+Apache from my school, primarily), and is the business model upon which RedHat is trying to make money on. Fun stuff.
  • Actually, I was characterising this from a pointy-haired standpoint. I've looked at Apache code, and some of it is *very* well-written. Some of the other free software, however, looked like it was written by me when I was just learning how to code :-) Seriously, I am aware that parts of IBM writes parts of widely-used free software, and I'm also aware that some IBM programmers are awesome, and others are rather pitiful. BTW--I don't knock "college student hackers". Some of them has written some very impressive pieces of software that I use *every day* for work.
  • That requires death, which makes it irrelevant to the the meaning of the phrase... Unless you're suggesting that large numbers of people will start being put to death for copyright infringement and such.

  • It's controlled by anyone who is able to download the source and freely modify it. To paraphrase the great prophet Muad'dib, he who can download code for a thing controls a thing.
  • They should have added option to for the user to select individual packages during the installation. I'm not saying that the screen should be initially cluttered with checkboxes for installing stuff (like mandrake, e.g.), but they should have given the user an option to go to a well laid-out section that allowed for picking of specific packages.

    Real ease-of-use, as opposed to Microsoft/Ximian ease of use, is not about wiping the user's ass, it's about not kicking it. It is possible to have a simple interface that gets increasingly detailed as you go down. This is the principle called "Progressive disclosure". Unfortunately, ximian seems to be unfamiliar with this idea. Not that I am singling ximian out, because KDE is equally unfamiliar with this idea, except in the opposite way (the user encounters way too many controls/options initially. Clutters up the user's screen and mental bandwidth). UI design foibles that tend to screw the user over in the name of wiping their ass are the trademark of Microsoft. Since Ximian is heavily influenced by what microsoft does, it is not really surprising that such a mistake like the lack of custom package selection was made.

    The manual installer was another badly botched design. Last time I used the graphical installer to try and manually install from stuff I downloaded (I now just build from tarballs), it didn't work. There was no, real apparent way achieve a local install, despite the fact that an option for such a thing was listed in the installer. Being a geek, I got around this. But not everyone's grandmother is a geek.

    I'm not really trying to criticize Ximian too harshly. I'm just saying that I'm better at designing UI's than they are. Maybe I should apply for a job there, since obviously no one at Ximian is doing their's. Ximian sure has many talented programmers who are technically competant. I'm sure they know everything about corba, every gtk/gtk/glib/xlib API call by heart. But from what I've seen of their software, they don't have a single person on board who knows a damned thing about usability design. I have seen UI design mistake after design mistake repeated again and again with each new Ximian/Helix download. Miguel might give a good talk about making computers easy to use, but so far he hasn't been able to back up his words with action. Of course, debating this whole thing in a flame war on slashdot is pointless, since time doing that will take me away from my main GNOME activity, which is fixing Ximian's numerous UI idiocies and releasing the modified code in a forked version of GNOME. I'm sorry I wasted this much time already.
  • by holzp ( 87423 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @01:06PM (#250282)
    because that article is definite -1 Flamebait!
  • Ok... here's how it works. The people who generally foot the bill in free software are the people writing it. The bill is the internet connection and hardware and whatnot. These are things that they'd be paying for anyway, so it's not really an additional cost. They also pay for it with their free time. Think of it as a hobby, which is really is for most free software developers. Granted, there are a ton of people getting paid to write free software, but most people do it in their free time because they enjoy it.

    All of these possibilities you list are correct, but they're not reasons for writing the software so much as the people who do so. They do it because they enjoy it, or because they believe information should be free (no one believes in the philosophy that "The project team are the user"). Try running Linux or a BSD sometime and see that free stuff isn't so rare, and that by installing it yourself you make it even less rare.

    "I may not have morals, but I have standards."
  • Uhm. IIRC, they always granted free usage of binaries linked with their libraries, and only wanted to be payed if you developed non-free software using their toolkit.

    That was after. When I started using KDE beta 2 (I think gnome didn't exist at that time), the license was "free for non-commercial use", meaning that you couldn't even use KDE commercially. I think they allowed free (beer) use for free (speech) software around version 1.0, but I'm not sure.
  • by jmv ( 93421 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @02:00PM (#250287) Homepage
    I totally agree too... and I'd add that IMHO, gnome is one of the main reason the Qt license changed. Remember that although RMS opposition to the QPL *might* be questionnable, the original license was "free (gratis) for non-commercial use". This meant that you weren't even allowed to run KDE at your company without paying a Qt license. This was around KDE1-beta2. The license later changed to free (gratis) when used with KDE (or something like that) and it's only after a while that it got released under the QPL.

    If nobody had complained and the gnome project had not been started, we'd be in a really strange position now, with the only major Linux Desktop being excluded from companies.
  • 1. KWord []
    2. KSpread []
    3. Aethera []
    4. KDE PIM []
    5. Kapital []
    6. KDevelop [] and Kylix [] (Delphi for Linux. You have to here my Delphi-mad housemate ranting about how great this is...)
    7. KMatplot []
    8. Licq []
    9. LOTS more that I don't have time to type, however [] will show you.

    There's KIllustrator [] (photo-editing), Konqueror [] and Mozilla [] (web browsing, HTML editing etc), and again a good many others [].

    Oh, and anti-aliased fonts [] are very very nice, but that's just a bonus of a superior toolkit...

  • Yes, perhaps that was his point, but I am showing there is little GNOME has that KDE doesn't.

    GNOME seems to be almost always playing a game of catchup with KDE....

    Moderate me down, it's my opinion. Opinion is worth loss of useless karma...

  • Heh. That sort of takes some of the wind out of the FSF financial conspiracy theory.

    Yes, that was my blackjack winnings.

    John Carmack
  • by steveha ( 103154 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @01:49PM (#250293) Homepage
    From the article:

    Gnome is controlled -- c'mon, don't kid yourself -- by two companies.

    Ximian and Eazel have exactly as much control over GNOME as IBM used to have over the PC market.

    There was a day, years ago, where IBM was the undisputed leader in the PC market. PCs were called "IBM PC compatibles" or "IBM clones". Everyone waited for IBM to come out with a new PC, and then carefully copied it in their own PCs.

    All that changed when IBM did two things: 0) they tried to get everyone to buy in on a platform completely controlled by IBM (the Microchannel Architecture or MCA; IBM had patents giving it full ownership of MCA) and 1) they delayed months without releasing a PC based on the Intel 386. Another company (Compaq) took the bold step of releasing a 386-based PC before IBM did, and the rest is history: IBM never got the leadership position back. These days IBM is just another vendor in the PC market.

    The situation with GNOME is similar. Ximian and Eazel can lead, and everyone will follow. But if the day ever comes that these companies try to lock people in to a proprietary solution, or if they stop releasing new stuff, then they will lose their leadership position. Others will pick up the development and run with it.

    In the case of PCs, it was free-market competition that prevented IBM from forcing the industry to follow its lead. In the case of GNOME, it is the GNU public license and the public release of the source code that prevents Ximian and Eazel from forcing the free software community to follow their lead. The free software license is important, even if Mr. Powell doesn't seem to understand it.

    Ximian and Eazel have control of GNOME for exactly as long as they deserve it. We can and will take it away from them if we ever need to.

    And that is why his article is ultimately pointless. Eazel and Ximian and the FSF and RMS could all be abducted by aliens tomorrow, and GNOME will still survive and prosper. Mr. Powell can sling his gossip and innuendo, but he's kidding himself if he thinks any of it really matters.

    P.S. I am somewhat on the same page with him about the cash donations. The idea of trying to donate cash in a way that keeps the money from going to creditors seems odd, perhaps even immoral. And what good will it do to contribute money to the Eazel company if it will go bankrupt for not paying its creditors?


  • by chetohevia ( 109956 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @03:28PM (#250298)

    Dennis Powell's consistent inflammatory rhetoric and constant GNOME-slagging are not an indication thathe is a troll. His consistently deliberate misinterpretation of the facts is the indication that he is a troll.

    He says:

    It is absolutely undeniable that the FSF has thrown its support behind a desktop controlled by two for-profit companies, one of which has an officer who sits on the FSF's board;

    He, and you, ignore the fact that the order was like this: First, Miguel started GNOME, which won the support of the FSF because it did not have the same restrictive license (restricive for DEVELOPERS, mind you-- the whole Free Software thing isn't about users having software that is free-for-use but developers having access to, and use of, platforms on which to develop their software, free of charge and free of interference from corporate entities like TrollTech.)

    Only later did Miguel start a company. DEP implies favoritism and nepotism where it does not exist.

    This company, Ximian, does not control GNOME, certainly not in the way Microsoft controls Windows, or the way TrollTech controls QT, or the way TheKompany controls Aethera. Ximian is certainly a major leader in GNOME, in the way that, say, HP is a leader in the PC-sales field, but we're competing in an open playing field that no one controls. And we're certainly not controlling GNOME, charging people to develop for GNOME, or anything of the sort.

    My personal opinions, of course. a.

  • In addition to packaging, Ximian also smooths over a lot of rough edges in the raw GNOME to give it the all-round polish and sexiness it desperately needs. Think of them as the equivalent of Pininfarina, Bertone, Zagato, or Ghia.

    Arguably though there should be no need for them. KDE manages to get by without needing someone to add polish later on. Perhaps GNOME should ask themselves why they can't do the same. I suspect the reason is that the KDE folks have never had some company to clean up after them so they're a lot more careful about the overall usability and style of the thing.

  • the real question is...does making a "hello world" app under kdevelop touch the qt libs?

    how much control, developing under qt, do you have over whether or not you project uses qt?

    if there is no clean answer to this question, the author of the article is a very, very confused person.

    touching qt requires that you either open source your project or pay trolltech $1550 per developer -- more than twice the cost of visual c++ pro and w2k combined.

    Gnome/FSF only require that you free your software if you modify GPL software...that is, system libs are lgpl, which lets oracle, netscape and a few others play in the linux sandbox.

    naturally, the fsf would prefer all software be free...but many people don't understand the true costs and collaboration between the KDE and QT people.

  • I don't know about you, but telling my mother that she just needs to "uncompress the tarball, configure, make, and make install" won't really get us very far. OTOH, if I can e-mail her a single command (ie, rpm -Uvh, then we're doing pretty well.

    Even that is a little too hard in my opinion. I remember when the nautilus (early) beta was out and one of my friends was interviewing there. She wanted to install nautilus on a linux box and play with it so she could talk intelligently about it at the interview. I remember being on the phone with her for an hour as we went through "Oh error message, eh? How about if you try rpm --force-something-or-the-other", or "Why not download all those rpms and go rpm -ivh *" or "Let's try to get rid of old rpms on your machine and try to reinstall". And so on and on, and it really did take an hour to get it installed. Now I understand that the nautilus install process and the gnome install process have come a long way since, but they still seem to be overly complicated. We need to make it as easy as Windows: click link - click execute from remote location in dialog - click yes on security warning - click next on a few boxes and we're off to the races (no reboot remember).

    Anything that involves an xterm or a shell is too complicated. period.

  • Go to (which provides info on nonprofits), and search for "Free Software" to bring up the FSF info.

    There some interesting stuff there, esp. in the Form 990's:
    - No one seems to draw a salary
    - In '97, id software donated about $19K to the FSF, which was over $3K more than Red Hat did. (Is that the year Carmack won big at gambling & donated the proceeds?)

    All in all, seems like it's a pretty low budget organization.
  • That was a damn good piece of high-brow trolling. Perhaps the author needs to go read all the stuff at []. The FSF was never about giving things away free. "free" as in freedom is what they mean. And about the fsf backing for-profit companies. I am sure the author appreciates the kick ass kde project. I hope he takes some time to divine where the compiler used to compile the code came from. It surely didn't fall out of the sky or arrive on an AOL cd. Most parts were written by people working at for-profit companies.(cygwin).
  • >

    Kinda like the "You can't put the crap back in the dog" law.

    Actually, my dog eats her own crap all the time.

  • A brief summary for those with better things to do with their time than to read two pages of drivel - and get LinuxPlanet some banner-ad hits...

    Executive Summary
    The author, DEP, wants good code gratis. He expects for-profit organisations to offer code for free, and non-profit orgs to do the same. The author believes that the FSF should not co-operate with for-profit orgs, despite the GPL being quite clear on its stance regarding money.

    In more detail:
    Issue: Freedom
    RMS: Free as in "speech"
    DEP: I want Free as in "beer"
    DEP: Eazel are a for-profit company asking for money! This is ludicrous! KDE are a non-profit org who are not asking for money!
    READER: Err... point being?
    DEP: These FSF idiots don't understand the word "Free"
    DEP: KDE is Free by my definition; Eazel less so. Therefore the FSF shouldn't support Eazel.

    Issue: GPL DEP: And it would make an interesting case, GPLed code as an asset in a bankruptcy proceeding, wouldn't it? There is something symmetrically ironic about the GPL's first court test taking place in that milieu.
    READER: And the value of WordStar without Broderbund support? The value of PowerPoint without a Microsoft? The value of Doom just because it's been around a few years?
    DEP: Oh. Erm, well ...

    From the logic of these arguments, I can only surmise that the author (DEP) is, or expects to be, on trial for some serious crime, and is generating evidence prior to making an insanity plea.

    #include <stddiscl.h>

  • Why not come up with an "easy installation" that compiles the program?

    Folks already have! That's the concept that drives the FreeBSD ports collection. There's even a GUI interface called "pib" that can handle your pointing and clicking needs.

    For the unenlightened on the subject, FreeBSD includes a directory stucture under /usr/ports with a number of category subdirectories like "mail", "www", "x11" as well as many others. Under those you'll find a directory dedicated to each application in the tree. Example...

    cd /usr/ports/www/mozilla/

    Inside of this directory is a couple of small files. One is a script that has all the information needed to download the application, uncompress, configure, compile, and install it. A couple of other files in there are used to describe what the application is, so that GUI based clients can tell a user what it is they're installing. There's also a file that lists what all is going to get installed, and where so you can pretty accurately uninstall this thing. These scripts are capable of checking for file dependencies, like actually fixing them, not just spitting out bogus error messages.

    To install that example above of Mozilla, all you need to type is...

    make install

    Best of all, this tree is updated with a fairly simple script through CVS. Since we're only talking small text files, this is pretty darn quick to update even across a modem. There's over 4000 applications in that tree today, with more being added all the time.

    Whether you like FreeBSD or not, this is a really wonderful system that's been worked out over on this. No, it's not perfect as I'm sure some replies will mention, but the concept behind it is sound. Instead of having 1000's of people trying to figure out how to compile something as massive and complex as a Gnome or KDE, one person gets it all working proper for this OS and submits it in.

    Wasn't that the point of Open Source in the first place?
  • "Can you imagine?" asked a friend who develops commercial software. "They raised $13-million for a file manager!"

    heck .. Microsoft did that and more!

  • P.S. I am somewhat on the same page with him about the cash donations. The idea of trying to donate cash in a way that keeps the money from going to creditors seems odd, perhaps even immoral. And what good will it do to contribute money to the Eazel company if it will go bankrupt for not paying its creditors?
    I've been following the Nautilus mailing list and I believe the paypall system was set up kinda as moral support. They really seem enthousiastic when someone donates money... that, and you get a tshirt if you donate $20 or more [] :).

    Think of it as a way to undo some of the harm the Slashdot, Gnotices and Powell trolls have done :).

  • 'A very well written article that says a lot of truth' CmdTaco you have to stop smoking crack at work, if you continue like this we might have a Slashdot posting saying, 'David Irving proves that holocaust never happened.'
  • Ok, so if you don't want to use Nautilus why don't you remove it completly? I don't see your problem. Of course if you don't want to deinstall Nautilus you should be able to go into the GNOME Control Center and remove it through the session setup screens.
  • by Cardhore ( 216574 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @01:13PM (#250327) Homepage Journal
    Okay: here's the deal. We can keep free software free while simultaneously keeping [your favorite support-based free software company] in business and making money for ourselves!

    Impossible you say?

    No! We just have to monopolize the support area.

    Here's the idea: each of us (the 31337 unix admin/coders/users) enters in a "business partnership" with our favorite support-based company (SBC), i.e. Eazel, RedHat, etc. We agree to forbid ourselves from answering tech support questions online, i.e. in #linux on IRC, usenet, etc.. Instead, we redirect the luser who has a question to our personal address at our SBC where the luser can find out his answer--for a small fee (micropayment). Then, the resulting pool of money is collected and divided between us and our SBCs. It's a win win! Help the economy! Help yourself! Don't compromise your software's freedom!

    IRC Example:


    Bob: Hi I'm bob I new to linux help me set up my isa winmodem

    [silence ensues due to all on the channel being bound by agreements]

    Cardhore: Okay Bob I'll help you.

    Bob: Okay thanks. My modem is not working in the do i make driver for it?

    Cardhore: Well, I happen to have the answer right here: q=winmodem

    [bob goes to the url]


    Bob leaves.

    [twenty minutes pass]

    Bob has entered #linux.

    Bob: are you still up for that offer?

    Success!! Bob successfuly gets his modem working, Cardhore makes $$$, and RedHat pleases its shareholders!

  • ...there's the newly started GNOME Packaging Project here. []

    The project intends to provide binaries for most platforms so that you don't have to compile them yourself. Its binaries will also be un-branded--there will be no Eazel or Ximian logos, features, etc.

    Also, just because someone can compile GNOME himself, it doesn't mean that he wants to. In fact, on moderate hardware it will take about two days to compile this. Experienced power users don't necessarily have time to waste on this.

    From the article: ..where information wants to be free so long as it's other people's information.

    Do people who believe this agree with it when their personal information is free?

  • by update() ( 217397 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @02:47PM (#250331) Homepage
    Well, I agree and I don't. On the one hand, of course their money didn't go all to pay developers. On top of your points, they also had a huge, very professional PR campaign that must have cost them plenty. Plus, I'd be curious to know whether their deals with Dell, Sun, etc. involved any, err, inducements.

    On the other hand, they did hire a *lot* of developers. From the numbers thrown around in the different articles, it sounds like pre-layoffs they had over 30 paid developers, maybe more. And their services development can't really require the ongoing services of 10 developers, can it? Online disk space?

    Like I said, Konqueror has 1 paid dev.

    To rephrase, a company that only makes a file browser should not have blown through $13 million before releasing 1.0.

    Unsettling MOTD at my ISP.

  • by update() ( 217397 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @01:04PM (#250332) Homepage
    First, the Slashdot editors still don't think there are too many points in the system? I saw the main page, clicked onto this story hoping I could get first post and found a post already at +5.

    Second, yeah, this is raw flamebait. But the RMS apologists always justify him by saying, "Sure, he's a vindictive nut. But we need people like that!" This is kind of a counterweight.

    Third, the "..the monkey chased the Eazel" stuff did make me laugh.

    Fourth (I only planned first and second when I started this), it really is remarkable how Eazel managed to blow through $13 million on a file browser. All of KDE 1 and 2, even including Qt, didn't cost that much or require that many paid developers. By comparison, Konqueror has one paid developer, David Faure. (Who admittedly is really, really good.) Yes, there are some TrollTech people working on khtml, but since Nautilus uses Gecko, they don't count for this comparison.

    Fifth,the reasoning by which the FSF gets dragged into this is pretty shaky. There's no real reason to think they're getting involved with Eazel. On the other hand, Powell is right that the Gnome leaders have committed to having companies drive their project and they'll have to live with the results.

    I'll throw in a sixth and preemptively point out to the people who always invoke the Kompany here that the role of the Kompany in KDE is completely unlike what Eazel and Ximian do in Gnome. The Kompany is not involved at all in core KDE development or planning and does not attempt to rebrand the desktop.

    Unsettling MOTD at my ISP.

  • by Auckerman ( 223266 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @01:04PM (#250333)
    I read it, twice. It seems the writer is hell bent in saying the FSF is in bed with for-profit-companies who have a habit of wasting money on stupid shit and he demands to see how the FSF is wasting its donations. Well, it's not that important, since he blasts the FSF for there made up definition of free and Gnomes dogmatic attack against KDE for not being "free" (which it is, even in the FSF sense), then who the fuck cares what the FSF says, does, or pisses on. I certaintly don't. Who cares if Eazel is going to survive, is the code they wrote gonna magicially die with them? You get the point.

    The writer spends a lot of energy blasting companies, that for the most part don't actually ship much in the way of products (previews, stuff like that don't count) and certainly dont earn much money, he then spends a lot of energy attacking FSF and doing his best not to kiss Stallmans ass, only to demand to know whats going on.

    Well, i got some advice for this writer. Shut the fuck up. If the FSF is full of shit (at it is, IMHO) and these companies might go out of business, then fuck em. Use your copy of Red Hat, download Eazel, don't download Eazel, whatever. They dont have to answer to you, just like Muslims dont have to answer to the Pope.

    Sorry for the troll, but even from my Mac using point of view, this guy is an idiot.

  • by Auckerman ( 223266 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @01:47PM (#250334)
    "Yeah, but the FSF and its supporters do have a holier-than-thou attitude, and some of us find it quite offensive for anyone to piss away $13 million, let alone a company that is connected to, and building on, pure volunteer work."

    Now that I'm not trying to get a post early and make it end up sounding like an idiot on steroids wrote it, I'll address this.

    You're right, the FSF does have a "holier-than-thou attitude", to that I say: So what if they do? Does it make them any more correct or incorrect? Let me let you in on a little secret I learned years ago: everybody has a "holier-than-thou attitude", everybody does. I do, when I say the FSF is full of shit, I mean exactly that, they are full of shit. I don't like their made up definition of free, I don't like how Stallman comes off sounding like an asshole whenever someone says Open Source near him, I don't like how they view closed source with the same level of dogma that a Religious Fanatic would view an infidel. That my friend, is whats called a holier than thout attitude. It's also called being sure of your opinions. Big deal. If you want to attack the FSF, attack them for concrete things, like disputing their definition of free and giving an alternative definition. That's called a dialog.

    You're also right, it is "offensive (that) anyone (pissed) away $13 million", especially since the average life span of a person in Africa is now 40 years due to famine and HIV. But it isn't my money. I wasn't the idiot who gave it too them, and hopefully neither were you. Hopefully the Investment Capitalist who gave them that money have learned their lesson and will spend it wisely next time.

  • by tmark ( 230091 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @12:51PM (#250336)
    interesting is the point about Eazel and Paypal, and the comparison to OS/2. The difference, of course, is that this is Free Software in the speech sense, so it's a little more important than OS/2 IMHO. I don't even understand the comparison, nor why Taco finds this interesting. Eazel is trying to get people to pay them. Team OS/2 did *not* try to get people to pay them, IIRC.

    And the author's comment but it's no goofier than seven or eight years ago, when people who called themselves "Team OS/2" gave up evenings and weekends in unpaid volunteer support to be especially curious. Isn't this what open-source software is about ? Isn't this what we do when we post an answer to a question on Usenet, or on a bulletin board ? Isn't it what we do when we discuss things here ? The actions of Team OS/2 are no less "goofy" then open-sourcing software.

  • by Eslyjah ( 245320 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @12:41PM (#250340)
    One of the interesting aspects of the linux "industry" is that there really is no feasible business model. The only things that companies will be able to sell are those which no one is going to give away for free. I think linux is great, and there may be an opportunity for a truly innovative firm to make some money, but if I were a venture capitalist, I would stay away.
  • by garron ( 265894 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @01:09PM (#250344)
    As always, your illustrious commentary sheds light on the dark recesses of complex issues, and makes me ponder extensively. If you were to only post the headline, I would not have that opportunity. Thank you.
  • What's with Slashdot today? I try and post a response to this well written article and it it times out. Sometimes I can't even load Slashdot.

    I've had the same problems. Apparantly Slashdot has been Slashdotted. Perhaps you should Ask Slashdot [] about this.

  • by spyder913 ( 448266 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @12:40PM (#250366)
    Eazel has burned through at least $13-million in venture capital

    I guess ferraris must be standard programming equipment nowadays. Otherwise I can't figure out how they would spend 13 million on making a file manager.

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