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LWCE Bits and Pieces 123

Well, we've gotten a massive number of submissions with the haps at LWCE. I've distilled some of the good ones below: Chanc_Grokon wrote to us with the press release from Ximian about the monthly charges for Red Carpet, their installer. He also raises the "Why not just use apt-get?" point. A number of people wrote pointing out LinuxLookup.com's Day 1 coverage and Day 2 coverage. Of particular interest to Daeslin was Larry Lessig's attack on overly strong intellectual property laws. A number of people, Krismon included, have voiced some disappointment at the excitement of the show - not being there, I make no judgments. Sun has unveiled more details about StarOffice 6. Compaq's CTO also made comments about Linux improving in the enterprise. jrbw sent in Linus' thoughts (dismissive) of .Net/Hailstorm. And KDE has won the "Best Open Source Project" award. Newsforge has also got a round-up and coverage piece. More news as it happens.
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LWCE Bits and Pieces

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  • Kongratulations are in order...
  • by battery841 ( 34855 ) on Thursday August 30, 2001 @08:18AM (#2234233) Homepage
    "Chanc_Grokon wrote to us with the press release from Ximian about the monthly charges for Red Carpet, their installer. He also raises the "Why not just use apt-get?" point."

    Ximian's charges for Red Carpet aren't mandatory. They give users who are willing to pay for it much better bandwidth. Don't want to pay? That's cool. You don't need to. Just use the free service, and you'll be fine!
  • > For software vendors, Ximian introduced the Red
    > Carpet Partner Program, which allows software
    > vendors to create and manage channels to
    > distribute their Linux or UNIX software.

    This program is on their site for a while.
    I was interested in distributing my application
    via it and filled the the application form few months ago and nobody ever responded to me. Nowbody even confirmed submission.

  • Linux creator Linux Torvalds told ....

    Boy. All those other news outlets have egg on their face now. All this time they have been saying that some guy named Linus created Linux. I guess we could just him how he pronounces his name to get the one true pronouncation.
  • First, Ximian: The announcement says tose who subscribe will have "5-% faster downloads durring peak hours". This suggests that they will still ovver the service for free, with some diminished capacity, but the announcement doesn't really say.Can anyone confirm or clarify this?

    Regarding Lessig's comments oc Copyright: I'd like to point out that James Madison was on Lessig's side [msnbc.com] regarding Copyright.

    --CTH
  • Any chance of Sun porting Star Office to Mac OS X? The platform is fairly receptive to ditching MS Office for another solution (i.e. AppleWorks). Many people on OS X are using AW because MS Office hasn't been ported yet.
  • "Let's assume Microsoft could tax everything on the Internet," Torvalds said "You think the U.S. government would give up monopoly status as taxation man? The government would step in and say, 'No, no, that's what we do.'"

    a) Why would Microsoft call it a tax? Just because it's called a tax doesn't mean that what MS is doing is the same as what the government does. What happens if microsoft calls it a "Transaction Fee"? Will the banks step in?

    b) If you don't want to use .NET then don't use it. It's not as if it's mandatory or a necessity?

    Now I wait for the hordes of /. MS bashers to attack.

    (Score:-1, Linus Questioner)
    • by simong ( 32944 )
      The FUD point is very clear here: what if, with a little bit of manipulation, it becomes difficult not to use Hailstorm/Passport/.NET for secure or sensitive transactions? What if Microsoft could secure trust in enough governments and major financial organisations to make a majority of Internet transactions use it? Of the current MS innovations I think it is the most dangerous, because it has the potential to concentrate a lot of responsibility in one private organisation. It really shouldn't be scorned just yet.
      • Of the current MS innovations I think it is the most dangerous, because it has the potential to concentrate a lot of responsibility in one private organisation.

        And this isn't just *any* "private organization", either. Let's not lose sight of who we're talking about here.

        The big question with .Net is how widely it is adopted by online merchants. Currently, Visa/MasterCard/Discover/AmEx take a few percent of each transaction as a fee, which is how they make their money (well, that and charging huge interest rates and outrageous late fees, but I digress...). If I were Billy and his minions, I'd undercut the CC companies (ever wonder why AmEx is "less accepted" than Visa/MC? They charge a higher percentage of each sale, which is paid by the merchant.), and give the merchant an even *better* deal if they agreed to *only* accept transactions using Passport.

        MS can afford it as a loss leader - they're rich. It's the same old story out of Redmond - essentially give away a product to develop a huge market penetration, then once you've eliminated the competition, raise prices out the ying-yang.

        • give the merchant an even *better* deal if they agreed to *only* accept transactions using Passport this is exactly what amEx tried to do. That is the reason a few years ago places would only accept AmEx. Merchants got a better rate from amex if they signed an exclusive deal. However, in the end, these merchants ended up losing money because most people got fed up with AmEx's annual fees and dumped the card in favor of visa. Now to choose between an establishment that accepts your credit card and one that doesn't doesn't take a lot of thought. Your going to go the place that lets you pay the way you want to pay. It's your money and they should be grateful you're giving it to them at all. Therefore, these merchants started losing potential sales. Case in point. for 18 years i went to this one chicago area indian restaurant. for 18 years, all they accepted was American Express and Diners Club. I moved, and when i came back for a visit, lo and behold, there was a visa sign in window. What i said above is what the owner told me happened.
      • What if Microsoft could secure trust in enough governments and major financial organisations to make a majority of Internet transactions use it?

        Please. Unless you're purporting a huge consipiracy theory, could you explain to me how our government would trust Microsoft to create a secure environment? Keep in mind that it was our government's web site [whitehouse.gov] that was recently targeted by a worm that fed off of a security breach in a MS product.

        And correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't it Windows NT4 that was not approved by use in our government's military because it was not secure enough?

        Hailstorm and .NET may be just peachy, but don't count on our government to give it some sort of stamp of approval. Not for a long, long time.

        By the way, I've been an MCSE for two years and typically enjoy MS products. These crazy theories just drive me nuts.

        --SC

        • This is an almost hopelessly naieve point of view. The people in government responsible for making these decisions are just that, people. In the aggregate, they make up that "software market" we keep hearing so much about. (Particularly the informed decisions the market tends to make.) Most of them simply don't have the technical depth in this area necessary to make what we self-described techno-elite types would consider the "only right choice".

          The sad truth is there is a tremendous shortage of people who really understand how computers work in the world. Among people who have been using computers for less than five or even ten years, the percentage who are aware that someone other than Microsoft or Apple writes operating system software is disturbingly small.

          To make matters worse, the government pays less than private industry for computer talent, and therefore is at a loss competing with private industry for job candidates. Hell, many of the management types who have a lot of say in the matter aren't really "computer people" at all. Remember when blue screens paralyzed one of the Navy's new ships? Government branches have settled on Win32 platforms in the past and will likely continue to do so. It sucks, and I wish they would take better care of my tax dollars, but that's how it is.

          According to UniSys (http://www.unisys.com/home/enterprise/), the Coast Guard has standardized on Windows NT for relaying mission critical search and rescue data. As a sailor who is planning on cutting the dock lines for good one day, this frightens me.

          I think Linus is wrong not to be paranoid about this de facto tax collector issue. The government will be more than happy to let Microsoft collect revenue any way they can, because the government will collect taxes from them in the end. Why go to the trouble to figure out how to tax and collect on internet transactions (not to mention pushing the legislation through) if Microsoft can figure out how to do it for them and they can collect from Microsoft by taxing their revenue? After all, as far as most of our Congresspersons are concerned, Microsoft represents the best and brightest in computer innnovation. And they have the campaign contributions to prove it.
          • After all, as far as most of our Congresspersons are concerned, Microsoft represents the best and brightest in computer innnovation. And they have the campaign contributions to prove it.

            I hate to say it, but that last statement of yours is probably right. As they say, "Money talks, and bullshit (like CodeRed, Melissa, etc.) walks (or is quickly forgotten).

            Good point.

            --SC

    • (Bah. If /. is going to mangle my submission, at least spell my name right).

      I think Linus is way off the mark by not being concerned by .NET and Hailstorm. In this thing I wrote [free2air.org] I show some recent examples of Microsoft moving the goal posts when things didn't go their way.

      This earlier thing [free2air.org] is along similar lines. It talks about concerns raised by Bruce Perens that Microsoft is currently building of warchest of software patents to start hassling open source projects once the heat has cooled down from the Justice Department.

      Just thinking about it now, has Microsoft ever passed on an opportunity to screw money out of people? (Having said that, good for them. They are a business after all. Doesn't mean we as users of technology have to support them in that though).

      ...j
      • A lot of people don't think of it this way, but .NET is an 'Embrase(sic) and Extend' on the OS level. If Microsoft has it's way, it won't matter what OS your desktop runs, .NET will be the platform. Just as now, MS Windows dosen't care what video card you use. .NET is an attempt to make what OS you use irelevent, and of course .NET and Microsoft .NET services are going to cost money.

        • exactly. it'll be free initially to get people on board. sooner or later MS will want to make money back on it, to at least cover the no doubt inconsiderable cost of runner a service on this (perceived) scale.

          anyone know what AOLs impression of Hailstorm is? they really can't be happy about it...
  • One of the comments on the StarOffice article mentions that it doesn't import correctly all MS Office files.

    The problem actually is that MS Office doesn't export its files correctly.

    (Note to corporate document archivers: History suggests that your desktop MS machines won't be able to read your corporate MS Word documents within a few years. "Steve, can you retype these articles of incorporation?")

  • by Anonymous Coward
    >Chanc_Grokon wrote to us with the press release >from Ximian about the monthly charges for Red >Carpet, their installer. He also raises the "Why >not just use apt-get?" point.

    bunch of fucken leeches, completely ignore the benefits of subscribing to a software package and company and describe how you can get it for _FREE_.. as always this kind of attitude will destroy Linux because there is no viable or feasible way to make money from a bunch of leeches, err, i mean Linux users.

    I for one will be subscribing to ximian gnome to support their efforts and all the great software they write. I wont be locked in to some sort of twisted masochistic licencing agreement like I might be with Microsoft. Why ? Because even after the subscription runs out, if it does, I still have my software, that software still functions, I have the source for that software and most importantly it wont stop working after 30 days of "Trial use."

    So all you Linux users out there taking a free ride: Its free today, it will be free tomorrow, but dont expect great software like ximian has produced if your not willing put up the bucks.

    For christs sake, its only two packs of cigarettes a month, or two fucken happy meals at mcdonalds, or 5 quarts of oil.. Get a grip and stop complaining.
  • Recognition (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bribecka ( 176328 ) on Thursday August 30, 2001 @08:45AM (#2234306) Homepage
    The article says that people get involved in open source with recognition as one of the primary motives. It even has a quote from a panelist: Who knows who wrote the paper clip in [Microsoft] Word? But everyone knows Linus,this is part of why you do open source.

    This is a terrible analogy, and IMHO it is even worse for the point of open source. First off, comparing the creator of linux to the creator of the Word paper clip is a bit off. The significance of the development of a free OS and an animated piece of metal are totally different. Besides Linus, there are 1000s of people who do open source that don't get nor seek any recognition. For example, who is the guy who wrote the Gnome Calculator? Can you name the members of the Mozilla team?

    More importantly though, this panelist (Dirk Hohndel, former CTO of SuSE) makes a very disconcerting assertion that if you get into open source, you are going to get tons of recognition from the endeavor. This is certainly not that case. I think that most of the benefits of open source come from collaboration between diverse groups, and the vast amounts of knowledge that can be gained just by *looking* at someone elses code. The idea that open source will get you a lot of recognition is ludicrous. True, people may say "X application is great!", but they will probably not know the person behind it or ever send a thank-you note. A lot of people say the same about commercial software.

    Just a rant, but open source should never be about recognition--if it becomes about that, the movement will fade rather fast.

    • by Wee ( 17189 ) on Thursday August 30, 2001 @12:53PM (#2235318)
      Who knows who wrote the paper clip in [Microsoft] Word?.

      Bill Gates' wife was responsible for the paper clip. Really, it's true. Melinda French Gates was a project lead on MS Bob [post-gazette.com] (you have to remember MicroSoft Bob [strategymag.com] -- it was that cartoony software that slowed your machine to a crawl and insulted you while balancing your checkbook or reading email). When Bob was revealed to be the complete and utter turkey that it was always destined to be, guess what got some of the "usability and human interface" stuff? Office. Guess who happened to also be, ah, "seeing" The Boss? Melinda. Why wasn't Bob just canned, like any other project that wastes millions and failed completely? You have to wonder if Bill G wasn't getting pillow-talked into something. In fact, MS Bob was the first consumer product Bill Gates released personally. People do the strangest things for love.

      Anyway, a lot of what Bob had to offer didn't get canned (as it should have). It got repuposed and wound up in other MS products. Take a look at the screenshot on this page [gratefuldad.com]. See that dog in the lower corner? That was Bob's dog Rex. (I wish they had a picture of the dragon named "Java"; I wonder if McNealy every knew about that?) Looks like that paper clip, eh? Bob's ghost is in other stuff, too. MS Agent had a re-incarnation [wired.com].

      Well this is all way OT. But I think the Bob fiasco sheds some light on what goes on at MS. There's really no reason to wonder about the pape clip. I'm sure Melinda will insist on touchy-feely stuff being included in every MS product. I love it when someone thinks for me...

      -B

    • the panelist you are referring to is Jeremy Allison, from the SAMBA project.
  • From the CNN article:

    "Let's assume Microsoft could tax everything on the Internet," Torvalds said "You think the U.S. government would give up monopoly status as taxation man? The government would step in and say, 'No, no, that's what we do.'"

    I hate to have to disagree with Linus, but I'm not so sure the government would step in. There is already an oligopoly that essentially taxes all transactions on the internet - the credit card companies. Practically all online transactions are made with credit cards and for each transaction made the credit card company collects a small percentage of the sale from the merchant. Why would the government treat Microsoft any differently? Well ok, they might if Microsoft uses its desktop monopoly to gain a network information clearinghouse monopoly (I say if because although Microsoft is certain to try this, it is not certain to succeed). My point is, I don't think the government would have a problem with a single company taxing all internet transactions at the information clearinghouse level as there already companies doing it at lower levels, with the caveat that this only applies to the point that the company seeking to do this works within the law (including anti-trust laws).

    • I hate to have to disagree with Linus, but I'm not so sure the government would step in.

      A think a problem arises when you start asking someone who is mainly a software developer about government and tax codes. These types of panels should probably just stick to what the panelists are well-versed in, instead of always forcing the conversation into a sprawling discussion of the future of the universe.
    • You are required to pay a tax levied by the government. Even so-called "use fees" may only be collected by one party, namely the government.

      The use of credit card companies are entirely voluntary. Obviously, you can't send cash over the internet, so an information-based payment method is required. Credit and debit cards are the most convenient form of these, which is why they are so common. So what if MegaSitePlus doesn't accept paypal? I've been to brick-and-mortor stores where they didn't accept Visa, and others where they didn't accept Amex. I've been to still others where they wouldn't accept credit cards at all.
  • by SyntheticTruth ( 17753 ) on Thursday August 30, 2001 @08:52AM (#2234330)
    I think it's easy for us geeks to forget why such things as Red Carpet are needed.

    I will always argue that apt-get has to be one of the best linux app installers, but a huge part of apt-get is command-line oriented. Red Carpet, although using rpm's, is graphical and is much easier for a gui-oriented linux user to handle. I've used Red Carpet and I like what I see so far, it goes a long way of making linux newbie-friendly. (...and all you CLI die-hards, please just hush. ;)

    As long as they price it right, I think a service like Red Carpet would be worth the money, just for ease of use, point-n-click, user-friendliness of installing new software and updates -- something that will bring *nix further along, because right now, I see two things holding us back: a really kick-ass office suite (coming along nicely, really) and ease-of-use software installation.

    I, for one, am willing to pay money for *good* software and services...
  • by AJSchu ( 23730 ) on Thursday August 30, 2001 @08:52AM (#2234331) Homepage

    Hard as this may be to believe, not everyone uses Debian. If Linux is ever going to make inroads against MS, it's got to have pretty graphical frontends. Sure, apt-get is nice for the hardcore Linux fans, but Joe Average experimenting with Linux doesn't want to fool with the command line; he wants his point and click.

    AJS

    • Have you used Debian lately?

      In KDE 2.2 there is something called package manager, (or similar) it's as pointy and clicky as you could ever want.

      There is also always Gnome-apt if you are a Gnome person.

      • And it simply does not provide everything that Red-Carpet does.
        Very nice things about Red Carpet:
        1. Easy access to different channels.
        2. Very nice and professional updating.
        3. Automatic cryptographic validation.
        4. No hunting for usable mirrors.

        apt-get is not the beginning or end of everything. It is a very nice tool, but for Joe Average, Red Carpet is quite simply amazing, and it'll get even better with more 3rd-party channels, and easy access to commercial applications.
        Btw. Red Carpet is also available for Debian.

        The rule is: don't use it if you don't need it or want it.
    • yes yes, we all know that Joe Blow cannot do anything but point and click. You fail to remember (apparently) that Linux is NOT for Joe Blow. Someday someone will write a frontend for it (or an entire re-write) but for right now if Joe Blow can't read the directions and figure out apt-get (which takes less than 5 mins) than tough cookies for him.

      • Unfortunately, my friend, that's the sort of attitude that does and will in the future cause Linux to not be considered as a serious desktop contender. Joe Blow may be the purchasing manager and if he doesn't like it, he doesn't "buy" it (i.e., install it). Until we get over the "if they can't do it my way, they're stupid/useless/whatever", we won't see Linux in the big time.
  • "why not just use apt-get?" seems to be one of the reasons that Linux companies are doomed to failure. Not that there's anything wrong with it, or that I'm suggesting it be changed, but there is always going to be (either before or after) some free alternative to what a commercial company can produce.

    With this I suppose you have to look at the other benefits... most importantly, I guess, is someone to blame if things go wrong. Then again, services like 'support' with companies that deal with Free/open-source software never seem worth the money to Linux users.

    -vl
    • Look, if you think that typing "apt-get install " is too difficult, when apt-get finds the app's package and resolves all dependencies automatically... then use one of the GUI frontends for apt-get [machineofthemonth.org]. People that talk about apt-get being anything less than user-friendly obviously haven't used the tool. Now, if typing scares you, use a GUI frontend for the best package management tool out there.

      And for those who haven't used apt-get before, let me fill you in on some key points:
      • The software and the service are completely free.
      • Installing software is as easy as knowing the debian package name of the application you want to install, which is usually the name of the application. For example, to install netscape you would type: "apt-get install netscape". apt-get then searches for a mirror that serves the package and downloads it.
      • apt-get figures out all of the complex dependencies for you, automatically. This allows users to think on the application level, in that they decide what tools they want to use and not the underlying libraries used by those tools.

      I really don't see how anything can be more user-friendly than apt-get.
  • KDE lessons (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 30, 2001 @09:13AM (#2234392)
    Congrats to KDE on the award.

    I think its time to analyze why KDE manages to sustain such a high quality open source product. I dont have much knowledge of the modus-operandi of KDE developers, so I am not sure what contributing factors lead to such success.

    Is it:
    - A commitment to a good core design, and core API's. ie, solid foundation.
    - A willingness to throw away a component that doesnt work to expectations (not matter how big or ingrained the components\ is). eg CORBA for inter process communication.- Perform more testing than other projects ?
    - Some unique development process/philosophy ?
    - Better desingers?
    - Better coders ?

    What makes KDE as good as it is ? Perhaps a KDE'r can shed some light that other projects would find helpful.
    • Early start, strong core team and large user base for testing, blind luck. Not necessarily in that order.
    • Re:KDE lessons (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Roblimo ( 357 )
      "What makes KDE as good as it is ? Perhaps a KDE'r can shed some light that other projects would find helpful."

      KDE has always respected "Joe Blow" users instead of sneering at us. KDE developers have worked very hard to make things easier for people who are not computer professionals. I have never heard a KDE developer say, "Well, it only takes five minutes to figure out [function], and if you can't, you're too lame to use our software."

      Rather, KDE people ask, "How can we make it easier and more intuitive? What suggestions do you have?"

      Because of this pleasant attitude, non-coders are more likely to submit bug reports and feature requests to KDE than to projects that have a snobbish attitude toward people who have things to do in their lives besides messing with computers all day.

      The funny thing is, some of the "Joe Blow" people others cold off, but KDE encourages and nurtures, go on to learn enough that they can't be sneered at any more by even the apt-gettingest, self-declared l33t hax0r, so KDE gets fresh debug developer blood that can help the next generation of Joe and Joanne Blows figure things out, and the cycle perpetuates itself.

      If all Open Source projects had KDE's attitude toward their users, I believe we'd see a lot fewer "start" buttons on computer monitors than we do.

      - Robin
      • I agree. Not only is KDE well-designed and fundamentally stable, but the development team is remarkably receptive to both suggestions and questions. As a result, we have KDE desktops in all the stores (more than 300) of the retail chain I work for, and they Just Work - not to mention save us thousands of dollars per year by not having to pay the Microsoft Tax.
    • Great point.

      Another question I'd like to add is "Choice of language?"

      While I like oop myself, I'm the first to admit that there's very little hard data supporting its claims of greater productivity, maintainability and extensibility. This is mostly because

      • Development of large projects is usually closed, and metrics pertaining to it are as closed as the source.
      • It is too expensive to try to solve a large problem twice -- once in oo, once in procedural, so comparing can be difficult.
      • No one can decide on appropriate metrics

      If someone could come up with some good choices for point three, KDE/Gnome could provide all kinds of interesting data for the first two. Of course, one data point doesn't prove anything and there are tons of other variables, but it would be a start.

      Now if the projects would just divide themselves by editor, we could get three flamewars for the price of one.

    • What makes KDE as good as it is ? Perhaps a KDE'r can shed some light that other projects would find helpful.

      I always thought it was their choice of language ... German.
  • I submitted this a story but apparently it's not interesing enough--MS's director of competitive strategy for Windows at LWCE, talking about lessons they've learned from Linux. Read it here at CNET [cnet.com].
  • Is it just me or does Microsoft's recent about face on OS ("linux is a cancer/virus" Oh you don't like that.. "we've learned a lot from OS") remind you of that "I can change" song in the South Park movie.

    I CAN CHANGE
    Bill Gates singing to ESR


    Some people say that I'm a bad guy
    That can't be right
    That can't be right
    But it's not as if I don't try
    They just don't see
    Try as I might

    But I can change, I can change
    I can learn to share my source code
    I swear it.
    I'll open up my code
    And I will share it
    Any minute now
    It will be born again

    Yes, I can change, I can change
    I know I've been a dirty little bastard
    I like to borrow, I like to steal
    Yes, it's lame, but it's OK
    Cause I can change

    It's not my fault that I'm so selfish
    It's the money, the money
    You see IBM was sometimes selfish
    And it made a prick of me

    But I can change, I can change
    I can learn to share my source code
    I know it.
    I'll open up my source
    And I will show it
    Any minute now
    It will be born again

    Eric Raymond:
    But what if you never change?
    What if you remain a code hording little butt-hole?

    Saddam Hussein:
    Hey Raymond
    Don't be such a twit
    Linus Torvalds won't have shit on me.
    Just watch
    Just watch me change
    Here I go I'm changing
    Hey Raymond Look! SHARED SOURCE!
  • by Carnage4Life ( 106069 ) on Thursday August 30, 2001 @09:41AM (#2234485) Homepage Journal
    Ok, this is a pet peeve of mine so I'm just going to get it off my chest. .NET isn't Hailstorm. Everytime I see some Open Source person talk about .NET or Hailstorm all I see is a case of Not Invented Here Syndrome.

    .NET
    .NET the technology (versus .NET, the brand name) is a fairly decent idea. From what I've seen it borrows a lot from the Java platform but improves on it by adding a lot of features that Java should have that Sun has been slow to add plus having better cross language support than Java ever could. After being a Java programmer for about 2 years I think that both platforms are roughly equal in the functionality they bring with them since .NET has some features I think suck and Java has a few I think suck as well. (I'm probably going to write about this and submit to slashdot). Where the .NET platform outshines Java is how XML support is a lot more built into the platform and the tools than anything Java has to offer for now but I'm sure the Java folk will wake up once .NET actually ships.

    The way I see it competition is always good. Don't knock it if you haven't tried it.

    The main issues with the .NET platform are probably the fact that it'll only run on MSFT OSes while Java is a multi-OS development platform. But if you are doing development on MSFT OSes, I think the .NET platform would be a better in a bunch of places than Java although there are a few places I'd probably still stick with Java. If you don't believe this, download .NET [microsoft.com] and give it a shot.

    Hailstorm
    The main idea behind Hailstorm is a good one and the devil is in the details. I actually would pay money if I could be guaranteed a safe, central repository of all my user information currently floating around on the web especially for two reasons.
    1. A while ago CD Now [cdnow.com] announced that they may be going out of business. This filled me with dread because they had my credit card info which would probably have been sold along with my CD listening preferences to the highest bidder as part of the liquidation process. At that time I would have loved it if there was some central place where CD Now got my credit card info from that I could just tell, "Hey, no longer share my credit card info with CD Now."

    2. Also after the above incident I stopped shopping at CD Now and started shopping at Amazon. This meant that all the music preferences I had built up from rating over a hundred CDs at CDNow were lost and the only way to rebuild that relationship with Amazon would be to rate X amount of music or hope Amazon could do similar things with less info (which they have surprisingly enough). Again, some central repository which I could tell,"Stop sharing my music preferences with CD Now and share them with Amazon" would have been ideal.
    The way I see it, the Hailstorm idea has merit. The problems I see are
    • Guaranteeing security and reliability will be a bitch and a half.
    • Websites may resist adopting it since customer info is the one valuable thing they have.
    • Without motivation (i.e. marketing blitz) and an easy way to sign up, consumers won't flock to it.
    • Entrusting all that information to a single entity would make some peole nervous.
    All of the above problems can be tackled one way or the other either socially or technologically. Secondly, I think the time foir this kind of technology has come, whether it will be Microsoft's Hailstorm, the product of some competitor or an Open Source alternative is all that remains to be seen.

    DISCLAIMER: I'm an ex-Microsoft emploee (former intern).
    • A couple of points about Hailstorm:
      • CD Now cannot _legally_ sell credit card info (wich is not a big segret: every time I pay with it, I give this info away) nor user preferences. If they are bent to break the law, they could still do it if they acquire the information from your 'central repository': once they have it, what except law prevents them from using/selling it as they whish?
      • I see the advantage of sharing your preferences among different shopping sites. This can be accomplished if these sites use a standard (i.e. controlled by a super-partes non-profit organization) open (i.e. whith specs available to everybody and not patented or such) protocol to communicate these information (I'm not saying that Hailstorm does not qualify, just don't know it). However, I don't see any need for a central site storing these information for you, when you can store it on your desktop and your software can communicate them to any site you connect with.
      • Bockman, I'd be curious to find out on what you base the assertion that "CD Now cannot _legally_ sell credit card info . . . nor user preferences. "

        CD Now has a privacy policy, the relevant portion of which states:

        "We will not rent or sell your name, address, email address, credit card information or personal information to any third party without your permission. However, we must cooperate fully should a situation arise where we are required by law or legal process to provide information about a customer." (CD Now's Privacy Policy [cdnow.com])

        Lets assume for a moment that this constitutes a legally binding agreement between you and CDNow. (A question somewhat up in the air, particularly here in New York, given recent caselaw on click-through licenses). Let's further assume that CDNow violates this agreement if it sells your information. Your option is to sue CDNow for breach of contract and if a court finds the agreement to be legally binding and if the court finds they have breached, you will be allowed to prove your damages arising out of that breach and be compensated. If you live in the US that's probably about $50, the maximum liability you might sustain for fraudulent use of your credit card information. There has never been a successful lawsuit for missuse of "personal demographic information" or "musical taste" or anything like that. Remember here what many lawyers forget: in civil actions, "no harm no foul" is a good defense. Unless you can show with certainty that you have been harmed by CDNow's sale of this information, you have no legal recourse.

        Then again, if CDNow goes into bankruptcy, the customer database would likely be considered an asset and sold. This would be ordered by the bankruptcy court, required by law, and therefore exempt from the privacy policy according to the second sentence of the language quoted above.

        This is what happened to Toysmart, which sought to sell its customer lists in bankruptcy. It was sued by the FTC and various state attorneys general for the attempt (press release [ftc.gov]) but the case eventually settled when the Bankruptcy court found that there were no real buyers and Disney (the majority shareholer) agreed to pay $50,000 to Toysmart's creditors in exchange for having the info destroyed (NY AG press release [state.ny.us]).

        The Toysmart case has led to an effort to get a law passed making it illegal to sell private information, but no such general law exists yet as far as I know. Thus it is not illegal (at least in most US states) to sell user preferences. Certain kinds of sensitive information (such as medical records) are protected by state law, and personally identifiable information that has been collected on a user under 13 years old cannot legally be sold (see: COPPA: The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act [cornell.edu]), but there is no general federal law barring sale of this kind of information.

        Just an aside. IAAL, but this should not be construed as legal advice or relied upon for any purpose.
        • Here in Europe privacy is a bigger issue, I think. Or at least so our gouvernment likes us to believe. Where I live there is a law about that (though I never read it), which should prevent companies to distribute or even archive private demografic info without agreement with the involved person.

          So maybe I was a little too hopeful here, and judged the world from my little turf.

          If I still believed that "law shall make sense", I would find a little strange that personal info is considered company asset, being something that I permit to use only for specific purpose, not something that I sold to the company or gave away (I see it a little as the Intellectual Property issue). Having given up whith this delusion, however,I am only a little surprised of what you say.

    • Entrusting your info to someone else is inherently dangerous. The more appropriate answer is to spec-out a data-interchange API, and using is write programs that allow locally stored data to be exchanged with sites on the web. Under your control. Back up of encrypted files to a remote site is, of course, desireable, but that should also be under your control.

      Note that if this is done with a local program, you would still depend on backups to get through system crashes. But if you are using HailStorm then either the security is weak, or a single corrupt file could deny you access to the data. (It must be dependant on a key file.) And you are laying yourself open to arbitrary increases in price.

      The functionality that you are asking for is worthwhile. The solution should not be a centralized repository.

      • "Entrusting your info to someone else is inherently dangerous. "

        Do you live in a cave with your money under a mattress?

        I'm just wondering how you get by in life without services such as telephone, banking, etc. You must never do any shopping on the internet either.
        • There are levels of trust. You trust your doctor with your medical records. You trust your bank with your financial details. Word from Redmond has implied, for online purposes certainly, that MS would like Hailstorm to be a single point of trust. I don't think anyone is anywhere near as sophisticated as being able to do that in a trustworthy way, whatever Microsoft think.
          • Personally what I find far more disturbing is the number of websites which store my credit card number after I complete a transaction... for my convenience.

            This has been going on for years. Strangely nobody complains about it. Instead when Microsoft suggests a service which might provide a different alternative to these insecure solutions, a bunch of people start whining.

            This anti-everything-MS attitude isn't very well founded in reality or technical knowhow. I find it disappointing and wonder why I should grant any value to such an opinion.
    • Your CC info is less secure with Hailstorm than is is with anybody else. And in fact gives MS direct access to your purchasing infomation because they are directly invloved with the purchase. Much like a a travel agent has access to you itenary when you book a flight.


      How many people do you want to have on demand access to your records?



      Guaranteeing security and reliability will be a bitch and a half.

      Rember MS doesn't even guarentee their software.

      Websites may resist adopting it since customer info is the one valuable thing they have.


      Websites have products to sell. Customer info simply allows them to gain info to sell products.

      Without motivation (i.e. marketing blitz) and an easy way to sign up, consumers won't flock to it.

      Of course it's going to be easy to sign up. How easy is it going to be to cancel?



      Entrusting all that information to a single entity would make some peole nervous.

      It should.


      Next thing you know MS is gonna start having Hailstorm exclusivity contracts where realtors can't do business with non-hailstorm customers. Then they can try to force the non-hailstorm realtors out of the market.


      This kind of technology is Big Brother at it's best. The idea of not having to type CC and universal preferences it nice, but this is a Big Brother and should be illegal.

      • Next thing you know MS is gonna start having Hailstorm exclusivity contracts where realtors can't do business with non-hailstorm customers. Then they can try to force the non-hailstorm realtors out of the market.

        And that's the fear associated with Hailstorm - that they'll impose a "tax" on internet usage. Even if it's indirect (ie, passed on to the web site you're trying to access via your Passport account), do you really want Microsoft squeezing money out of you at every turn.

        And Microsoft's recent track record [free2air.org] of abrupt about-turns isn't great (AOL and XP, for example).

        As i've said elsewhere, good for Microsoft from trying to make money whereever they can - it doesn't mean I have to be part of it, though.

        There's also the worrying theory [free2air.org] put forward by certain people that MS is waiting for the right turn to screw open source projects based on possible patent infrigements.

        Do you trust them to not try to screw competing technologies over as soon as it is safe for them to do so?

        ...j
    • Hailstorm is going to end up being nothing more than one central point of failure for all of e-commerce. Wide scale adoption of Hailstorm will lead to a wonderfully tender Achilles Heel for e-commerce.

      I will put money on the fact that some hacker or group of hackers will crack Hailstorm wide open, if it ever gains enough of a following. Do we really want to allow a 14 year old script-kiddie to make the NASDAQ drop 20% in one day because all of e-commerce was fuxored and put out of commission for at least the next few business days?

      Don't throw away diversity!
  • Why would you pay for red carpet when for example, mandrake update (though only for linux mandrake I know) is free?
    • It's so frustrating when people don't bother to read things through. Don't you think?

      The new Red Carpet services are being added to the existing free service. Choosing to pay for Red Carpet Express ($9.95/month) basicly means you have access to more bandwidth to download your updates.
      • Um......... restricted speed download! I have servers which ping at 13ms for Mandrake Update. There is the advantage, free and fast!
        • I still have a feeling you're missing some of the point. There no change in the free service. They haven't put up "bandwidth caps". The free service will keep on existing in it's current form. I imagine they'll just dedicate servers to paying customers, and keep the current structure for the free system.

          As an example (since you seem to be a fan of Mandrake Update), say Mandrake added a new fee-based service in a similar fashion. Their current update construct would be untouched, however you have the option of paying for access to dedicated servers. You may be happy with the speeds you're getting off the free servers, but over time, as more users are connecting, it might be something to consider participating in.

          Another point to consider is the demographic each is dealing with. Mandrake Update only works works with the Mandrake distro. So your max capacity can easily be drawn off the total number of Mandrake users. Ximian and Red Carpet, on the other hand, run on all (most if not all) distros. They've got Mandrake, Debian, Red Hat, SuSe, Turbo Linux, and all the other distros looking to them for services, so their max capacity has the potential to me much higher. That's probably why you will continue to see higher speeds on Mandrake Update servers, they are servicing a smaller group of people.

          You could still make an arguement that: If you're running Mandrake Update, what's the reason to use Red Carpet? Because you will only receive updates when Mandrake makes them available. Again, this may be something plenty of people are comfortable with. But, if you'd like to branch out and have another point of access for updates, Red Carpet is a very nice tool.

          Look, I'm not even trying to make a statement that Red Carpet is better then Mandrake Update. You should pick the tool that is right for you. It may even end up being neither of these. In fact, allthough I have before, I don't currently user either one. The issue is that more choices are being made available by Ximian. Show me the flaw in that?
  • by TomatoMan ( 93630 ) on Thursday August 30, 2001 @10:19AM (#2234597) Homepage Journal
    ...I'd be more interested in them keeping their packages current than giving me a fatter download pipe. Mozilla is still at 0.9.1 in Red Carpet; I chatted with some team members and they advised against maually installing 0.9.3 over the Red Carpet install because it would break things, and 0.9.3 isn't on the current radar for packaging according to the folks I taked to..

    For minor updates, that's not such a big deal, but Moz users know that 0.9.3 is a quantum leap ahead of anything before it in terms of usability and stability, and it's a pretty huge piece of software in the desktop Linux world. I'm stuck at 0.9.1 until they put a package together. I know the guys are busy and doing it for nothing (so far), but take my money and pay someone to keep the packages as current as possible, please, if you want to take it.
    • I don't know about "installing over...", but it's certainly possible to install along side of. I tend to put the test Mozilla'a in my home folder, but I'm also put them under local without any problem. (I'd probably want to use rpm to remove an old mozilla before putting a new one in it's place, but, as I said, I've never tried.)
    • You shouldn't have any difficulty if you use the sea (self extracting installer) and put it in say, /usr/local/mozilla and run /usr/local/mozilla/mozilla to start it. It won't even know the other copy is there.
  • I never really thought the rumors of MS lackeys were on slashdot posting pro-MS stuff was true, really...just geek paranoia, but after reading through the messages for this story, I came upon these two...and the almost exact phrases makes me wonder...

    >Re:windows xp is the shit. (Score:1)
    >by stevenbee on Thursday August 30, @08:12AM (#2234385)
    >(User #227371 Info)
    >I've been running Windows XP for the last couple
    >of weeks. It's amazingly fast and stable.
    >The interface is clean and intuitive. Can't wait
    >to see what developers do with it. The
    >drivers and gaming support are awesome. Truly an
    >amazing OS, maybe the best yet.

    ...and...

    >Re:On Oct. 25th (Score:1)
    >by Waldo_Jeffers on Thursday August 30, @08:19AM (#2234408)
    >(User #518590 Info)
    >I've been running Windows XP for the last couple
    >of weeks. It's amazingly fast and stable.
    >The interface is clean and intuitive. Truly an
    >amazing Desktop OS, maybe the best yet.

    ...is it just me or not? Funky.

    • Why do you care?
      • Well...

        1.) If, lets say MS (or any other company) planted users to promote their product on Slashdot, it would just be very sad and kinda funny.

        2.) If both of those posters, just by coincidence, happen to write the exact same phrases in almost the exact same way, then I would think they share something beyond our material realm of understanding. They should meet face to face and get together. They could have beautiful children.

        • I just find it interesting that you can't comprehend this and immediately assume that anyone saying good things about Microsoft must be in their employ.

          If people are allowed to like the Amiga, OS/2 or Linux. Why can't people like Windows?
  • Ximian (Score:2, Informative)

    by RyanMuldoon ( 69574 )
    I hope that people actually take time to read Ximian's press releases before passing judgement. But that is probably asking too much. Ximian is offering (in 45 days) two new Red Carpet-based services, ON TOP OF the current *free* Red Carpet updating service they provide as a gift to the community. First is Red Carpet Express, which is basically guaranteed fast access to software updates. A lot of people (including myself) requested something like this. I am happy that they are offering it. The second service is especially cool. The CorporateConnect idea is great. Basically, companies can tailor exactly what software (and in what channels) is offered, and which users can access that software. And it can push updates automatically in the corporate LAN. That is an incredibly useful tool. Ximian is being smart, and focusing on the Corporate desktop (and those customers) rather than end-users. Creating tools and services like these that really add value to a company's IT infrastructure is what is going to make Ximian succeed. End-user oriented business models can come later. Ximian is going to continue to create great software, and develop really useful services that are worth the money.
    • I have a few minor installation and usability quibbles about Red Carpet, ones I have discussed with Nat & crew (who are good people). I'm sure these little things will be taken care of soon.

      But on the whole, $10 per month for keeping *any distro I have* updated automatically is a great bargain. Just hunting for a working Mandrake mirror takes *way* more than $10 worth of my time!

      Yes, there is a free version of Red Carpet, and Debian is on free mirrors, but sooner or later someone pays for the bandwidth one way or another.

      Nat (Ximian honcho) is not a very mercenary guy. But his landlord, insurance agent, and many other people want money from _him_. If he is going to keep working full-time on software, he needs income. If Red Carpet service is valuable to me, I am happy to pay for it, and if I start using it more than once in a long while I will consider myself a deadbeat moocher if I *don't* pay.

      - Robin

  • Microsoft's implementation of the Passport service is a conflict of interest. Microsoft sells the desktop Operating System, which will use HailStorm/.Net/Passport. They sell the Server Operating System, which will have proprietary plugs to integrate the Passport system with MS Transaction Server. They charge the customer for the ability to access the server. They charge the server people for access to their database. They also close out alternative online-transaction options.

    Let's say you go to GiganticBookstore.com, and in order to buy book X (which you already have listed on your screen), you can either click the "Pay with Passport!" icon, or go through the 5-minute process of creating a user account, putting in your credit card info, your anti-spam-mail preferences, and then finally buy that one book. The convenience is going to lead a lot of online stores to eventually offer access only via Passport, to simplify management of the transaction server.

    This convenience isn't simply a market need - it's being forced into the market by the (monopoly) marketholder, as a way to ensure that people will be forced to use their transaction-related products in the future. I see this behavior, regardless of if Passport is free to the end user, as incredibly dangerous and a complete conflict of interest.

    MS is putting their hands in everyone's cookie jar at once. You know it won't be long until HailStorm also integrates a PayPal-clone and kills competition there... and then integrates an iBill-clone and puts THEM out of business too. And best of all, if you're not running IE 6.x on Windows XP with your "Automatic Update Notification" turned on, you won't be able to buy things from internet stores with your own real, legal money. Mozilla running on Linux? Why would Microsoft even begin to care about its market share when they control the transaction server OS, the online credit and banking interfaces, and the customer account info for something like 20% of the United States? Market share of a product they've successfully pushed out of the online transaction realm will be of no concern.

  • Unfortunately, the press release about Red Carpet Express and Red Carpet Corporate Connect erroneously left an important bit of information. Red Carpet will remain free. Red Carpet Express is an optional service which gives you guaranteed access to the latest updates, even if the main public Red Carpet server is congested. Red Carpet Corporate Connect offers additional features to corporate workgroup users.

    The conspiracy theorists will no doubt continue to accuse us of "selling out" at every step of the way; I'm too busy working on adding additional features to Red Carpet to get upset at this point. I hope that anyone with questions regarding Red Carpet or other Ximian products/services will at least contact Ximian directly.
  • From the StarOffice review:

    Not only will XML provide for smaller file sizes, it also opens the door to interactivity

    I don't get it. How exactly does XML provide for smaller file sizes? I would think that a verbosely specified tag system is less space-efficient than a binary format.


  • This is a conflict of interest. Microsoft sells the desktop Operating System, which will use HailStorm/.Net/Passport. They sell the Server Operating System, which will have proprietary plugs to integrate the Passport system with MS Transaction Server. They charge the customer for the ability to access the server. They charge the server people for access to their database. They also close out alternative options. Let's say you go to GiganticBookstore.com, and in order to buy book X (which you already have listed on your screen), you can either click the "Pay with Passport!" icon, or go through the 5-minute process of creating a user account, putting in your credit card info, your anti-spam-mail preferences, and then finally buy that one book. The convenience is going to lead a lot of online stores to eventually offer access only via Passport, for their own convenience. This convenience isn't simply a market need - it's being forced into the market by the marketholder, as a way to ensure that people will be forced to use their products in the future. I see this behavior, whether Passport is free or not to the end user, as incredibly dangerous and a complete conflict of interest. MS is putting their hands in everyone's cookie jar at once. You know it won't be long until HailStorm also integrates a PayPal-clone and kills competition there... and then integrates an iBill-clone and puts THEM out of business too. And best of all, if you're not running IE 6.x on Windows XP with your "Automatic Update Notification" turned on, you won't be able to buy things from internet stores with your own real, legal money. Mozilla running on Linux? Why would Microsoft even begin to care about its market share when they control the transaction server OS, the online credit and banking interfaces, and the customer acconut info for something like 20% of the United States? Market share of a product they've successfully pushed out of the online transaction realm will be of no concern.
  • Disappointment (Score:2, Interesting)

    by krismon ( 205376 )
    I was really disappointed with this year's show. I didn't think it had the same energy as last year's show in San Jose. I think the number of exhibitors have gone down. I'm sure the economy has something to do with it, probably half the companies that were there last year have gone under. I thought the general mood was: eh.. we're here.. let's TRY to sell something.. whereas last year was: Hey! I've got something new and innovative, this is something you can't live without. There was also a lot more anticipation last year I think, there was the release of Helix(now Ximian) and OSDN, 2.4 kernel, and the economy and the technology outlook was much better. SGI was noticably absent, they had one of the biggest areas last year. There just wasn't the noise and excitement this year.
  • Does anybody have a url for that c-net link?

    I looked at page source, but didn't see a url for realplayer.

    If anybody has the url for the video, please post it.



    thanx
  • A number of people, Krismon included, have voiced some disappointment at the excitement of the show

    ...As he says himself just a few posts up from here. This year was just a lot of "same-old, same-old", with very little that was new or exciting. The haul of swag was the poorest yet, too.

    Am I the only one who really misses the old ".org Pavillion" they had a couple of years ago? It was a great place to just hang out and get to know people, or hack on your laptop if that's what you wanted to do. Now all the .orgs have their own booths. While I suppose it's nice of LWCE to provide them, it just doesn't make for the same atmosphere.

  • Come by the booth, new totally cool 2.4 based Bootable Business Card (rescue CD), and a harsh poster mocking community folks... :) See the Slashdot guys in hi-chairs! You have to ask for this stuff- booth staff has been instructed to ignore trick-or-treaters.
  • "How long is your penis?" - CmdrTaco. In fact, I think i'll make it my sig.


    -Vess

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