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Microsoft

Red Hat And Lineo Respond To MS Embedded Linux FUD 303

jeffy124 writes: "Red Hat and Lineo, the major spearheads of Embedded Linux, have said that Microsoft's recent white paper comparing Linux and Windows XP embedded is full of inaccuracies, false facts, and overall distorts the value of Linux in general. Lineo has gone as far to say it flat out lies about Linux. ZDNet has Lineo's response, Red Hat comments, and a summary article." Updated by HeUnique: LynuxWorks has also wrote a response (only this one is a bit more detailed).
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Red Hat And Lineo Respond To MS Embedded Linux FUD

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  • by FortKnox ( 169099 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @03:42PM (#2721774) Homepage Journal
    Honestly, did you expect them to come back with "yup! There right! Everything we did is crap now!"

    Obviously, both sides are biased and think their product is better.

    The only way to see which one is better is an independent, non-biased study of the two.
    Even then, though, I'm sure one will be better for some applications, and the other for other applications...
    • by Syberghost ( 10557 ) <syberghost@syber ... .com minus berry> on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @04:13PM (#2722000) Homepage
      Obviously, both sides are biased and think their product is better.

      True, but Lineo didn't say "Linux doesn't support plug and play".

      Not only is it blatently untrue, Linux DOES support plug and play, but it's supported it longer than NT. And XP is NT 5.1; if you don't believe me, check your web-server logs.
      • by Webmoth ( 75878 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @05:28PM (#2722539) Homepage
        I didn't realize an embedded system NEEDED plug 'n play support.

        I mean, how many devices are going to be plugging into your toaster?

        # /sbin/modprobe bread
        # /usr/local/bin/toast
        toast v0.1 alpha
        Usage:
        toast [flags] slot-device
        Flags:
        -s n number of slices (increments slot-devices by n-1, default n=1)
        -c XX color; (one of dry, golden [default], crispy, burnt)
        -e eject toast upon completion (default)
        +e do not eject toast
        slot-device the first slot you are toasting in (default /dev/toast0)
        Examples:
        toast # makes one slice of golden toast in the first slot
        toast -s 2 /dev/toast2 # makes two slices of golden toast in third and fourth slots
        toast -c golden /dev/toast0 -c burnt +e /dev/toast3 # ejects slot 0 but not slot 4
        # /usr/local/bin/toast -s 1 -c burnt -e /dev/toast0
        # /usr/bin/eject /dev/toast0
        # killall -9 firealarm

        Somehow, I don't think so. But if I know the Linux community, someone will implement. And put into a crontab. For perfect toast tomorrow morning as you are getting out of bed. If only we had a changer device (toast jukebox?) then we could implement an automatic jellier.
        • I didn't realize an embedded system NEEDED plug 'n play support.

          I mean, how many devices are going to be plugging into your toaster?


          None. But how many are you going to plug into your PDA?
        • Sorry friend, you missed one piece of functionality, perhaps for version 0.2.

          --e eject toast forcibly so you can catch it in various suave fashions.
        • I didn't realize an embedded system NEEDED plug 'n play support.

          That statement leaves us with two options:

          1) M$ is lying about something that does not matter. This is typical of pathalogical lying and is designed to create a maximum of confusion.
          2) M$ is lying about something that does matter and you are unable or unwilling to grasp the significance from too much of #1.

  • by briggsb ( 217215 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @03:42PM (#2721776)
    This isn't the first time that Microsoft has lied about XP [bbspot.com].

    The bad thing about this is that people will only see the Microsoft lies and not the rebuttals by Lineo and Redhat. The people here on Slashdot already know this about MS, but the rest of the public doesn't. That's what billions of dollars of marketing dollars will buy you.
    • Nonsense. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Flarners ( 458839 )
      We all like to spit out the rhetoric about how "people listen to Microsoft, but not us", but the fact is, this is no longer true. The antitrust case, while falling short of remedying the Microsoft situation, has at least drastically changed Joe User's perception of Microsoft, as the below-expected XP adoption rate shows. Everyday, Linux becomes more and more mainstream, and as it does, we see an increasing number of mentions of Redhat and Linux in general in tech magazines and newspapers. Any resource people go to to find the latest technology news today is likely to have a Linux section in it (short of "Windows Magazine" and other Microsoft asskissers). It's silly to say that "people will only see the Microsoft lies and not the rebuttals by Lineo and Redhat." This may have been true three years ago, but not anymore.
      • Re:Nonsense. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by RazzleFrog ( 537054 )
        It is very difficult to make a direct correlation between the XP sales and the Microsoft case. PC sales have also decreased dramatically. Joe User doesn't see any reason to upgrade to XP since they are happy with what they have.

        I seem to remember also reading how consumer polls people siding with Microsoft. I will try to find them.
      • by zeus_tfc ( 222250 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @04:08PM (#2721962) Homepage Journal
        It's silly to say that "people will only see the Microsoft lies and not the rebuttals by Lineo and Redhat." This may have been true three years ago, but not anymore.

        I disagree. The people that know about Linux as a viable option to M$ are the same as they have always been, the technically oriented *cough* geeks *cough* people that keep up on the latest computer accessories.

        A perfect example of this is the Pentium comercials that have been running on TV, where the aliens in the UFO are playing with gizmos (not the gremlin one) and, bored, plug in a Pentium 4. Suddenly, everything comes to life.
        What are the average users going to think when they go to buy a computer? Are they going to ask "what is a reliable, cost effective processor?" Not a chance. They are going to say "I want to mix and burn CD's. Obviously, I need a Pentium 4." To reach the majority, PR and marketing are everything.
        • by nick_burns ( 452798 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @04:27PM (#2722128)
          The same thing happened to me. My computer became absolutely useless once I saw those first Windows XP commercials. I immediately went out and bought it so I could use wireless networking, Instant Messaging, and CD Burning. I then played some Madonna and flew around while high on angel dust.
        • But the Microsoft white paper and the Lineo/RedHat responses aren't targeted at consumers; they're targeted at developers of embedded systems. I would guess that the responses will reach most of the people the white paper did.

          TheFrood
    • Which is why we need to take action. Comments on the Anti-trust case are still being taken. If 8,000 - 10,000 people were to file complaints that Microsoft is "knifing the baby", just as much now as before the trial, I feel sure that the Judge in charge of settling this case will be rather harsher to Microsoft than they might otherwise have been.


      If those same people lobby the press, it could seriously harm Microsoft's sales. (Remember, it's still the run-up to Christmas, one of the biggest sales periods on the calendar for computer goods.)


      FUD is a dangerous weapon, and it CAN be taken away from Microsoft. But ONLY if we tell the people who matter (the press) that it's just too dangerous to allow Microsoft to retain this weapon of mass destruction.

    • The bad thing about this is that people will only see the Microsoft lies and not the rebuttals by Lineo and Redhat.

      As far as I know, there was no ZDNet article touting the whitepaper before the Lineo and RedHat rebuttals. The article focuses more on the rebuttals than the original M$ paper.

      This is an example of Linux winning the PR war. Probably very few people saw the whitepaper before this article, and their first exposure to it is a ZDNet article painting it as an attempt by corrupt M$ to misrepresent their scrappy Linux competitors.

      As for M$ having better consumer-level PR, how many consumers think about embedded OSes (or even know what one is)? Hopefully customers in the embedded space take due diligence a little more seriously and are a bit less likely to accept FUD at face value.

      Best,

      -jimbo

  • by mwalker ( 66677 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @03:47PM (#2721808) Homepage
    ...when these kind of resources are used to attack what is essentially a straw man. If they were going to attack a target with FUD, why wouldn't they attack the market leader [eda-expos.co.uk], WindRiver VxWorks [windriver.com]?

    Proof positive they're irrationally scared by Linux.
    • I think it's just smart public relations. They make it look like they are afraid of Linux taking their user base and they seem less monopolistic. Microsoft has nothing to fear from other companies... the only real threat is public opinion.
    • Because WindRiver, et al, are not storming the ramparts, threatening King William the Gates with a Peasent's Revolt.


      Because VxWorks is not the media's darling, and the European Union's ticket to a cheaper, more secure Government.


      In short, this isn't about fighting the "real" enemy, because the "real" enemy can only do so much damage to Microsoft. Linux, on the other hand, could seriously cripple Microsoft's domination and even inflict some damage to their business model.


      What's more, in this time of fear and suspicion, FUD is a much more lethal weapon. Even in "normal" times, FUD could destroy "lesser" companies, but now, when Governments and people around the world are scared shitless that the Big Bad Ogre is after them, personally... ...Now, a well-placed FUD bomb could obliterate the computer landscape. Forget the Daisy Cutter - that's just an oversize Molotov. This is serious weaponry.

      • Because WindRiver, et al, are not storming the ramparts, threatening King William the Gates with a Peasent's Revolt

        Huh? WindRiver already stormed the ramparts. They now own the ramparts, and are trying to keep the Microsoft peasants out. Microsoft is the smallest name in the embedded market. They don't make any real revenue there. There's nothing to defend there, only a new market to conquer. But instead of focusing on attacking and annihilating the competion the way they normally do, they're focusing on attacking the other small fish in the pond... Linux.

        I think we may actually be vehemently agreeing. I'm saying that Microsoft is acting irrationally in the embedded space WRT Linux because of some other perception. I think you're defining that perception... it's just amazing how tenaciously they will fight for a market they don't even have anything to do with, when Linux is involved.
    • You're completely right, and I'd say it's a case of two competitors pretending each other is the primary contendor, when in reality neither of them are (see major battery advertisements for an example of this in action: Agree to only focus on each other and consumers will be fooled into thinking that you're the two most important games in town [because why else would you focus on each other?]). In the serious embedded sphere I doubt either Lineo or Embedded CE/NT/2000/XP have any market saturation at all versus vxworks, QNX, etc.

    • I don't think Redmond cares whether they are right or not. What they are doing is to give some [apparent] reasons for those managers that have chosen Microsoft software, or may be about to do so, that their chosen path [folly] is "correct", if anyone asks [laughs at them- and well they might.]
    • How could microsoft possibly be worried about a competitor they can afford?

      Wind River has a market cap, and they could easily end up with a Microsoft controlling interest if they are insurmoutable with the usual techniques.

      Redhat and Lineo could be bought out as well, but their product couldnt be.

      Linux has an unfair advantage: the GPL.

    • by Zico ( 14255 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @06:00PM (#2722757)

      Far be it from me to point at that you seem like a clueless, knee-jerk Linux zealot who loves to feel persecuted by Microsoft, but...


      If you go to http://www.microsoft.com/windows/Embedded/xp/evalu ation/compare/notwindriver.asp [microsoft.com], you'll see that they have the exact same type of article discussing Wind River. Gee, and it's even titled "Why Microsoft Windows XP Embedded and Not Wind River." Truly amazing. Sorry if I ruined your persecution complex. :)

      • Yes but are they lying in that white paper too?. I guess we both know the answer to that one. MS fires emplyees if they don't lie to at least 10 people by lunch. Ok maybe I am going overboard on that one but I can not think of one public statement made by any MS executive or mouthpiece (including the ones that troll here) that did not contain at least one lie. Same goes for white papers.

        MS is a corporation of liars. No one can dispute that.
      • by Pseudonym ( 62607 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @08:46PM (#2723937)

        According to Microsoft...

        • Windows XP: Business model that is better aligned with your business for the long term
        • Wind River: Wind River's business model favors Wind River

        I'm convinced!

  • First is better (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mattcelt ( 454751 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @03:48PM (#2721819)
    Why does MS always get the marketing leg up on Linux? Momentum is one thing, but it seems to me that Linux is always playing catch-up as well. Why is that so? Has Linux ever had a successful pre-emptive publicity strike against MS?

    Let's face it, if Linux is always reactionary, it will never be seen as anything more than an "alternative" OS. Linux should not be an alternative to Windows. It has a niche all its own. Sure, it overlaps with a lot of Windows functionality, but it's not just "non-Windows". It's much more than that.
    • Re:First is better (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Why does MS always get the marketing leg up on Linux?

      That's bacause the Linux mindset is not adept at hostile, predatory marketing tactics. It just doesn't come naturally for honest folks.
    • Re:First is better (Score:3, Insightful)

      by reaper20 ( 23396 )
      Has Linux ever had a successful pre-emptive publicity strike against MS?

      (NASDAQ Guy Voice)
      Actually, there's a list of them published everyday - BUGTRAQ, the anti-MS marketing engine for the new millenium.

      Moving on .... There's MS's marketing, and there are the plain facts. We don't need to attack Microsoft on the marketing front. They do that for us. Their security record and dumb licensing costs will continue to harm Microsoft, regardless of what they say about Linux.

      Companies are slowly becoming more enlightened to Linux every day. Believe me, people are starting to notice the ridiculous security problems and licensing costs. One step at a time. I sit in the corner, waiting for the day when someone high up enough asks "I'm sick of this garbage and all our IT money going down the drain, there has to be an alternative, if only we had a choice!"
  • ms vs reality (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ryusen ( 245792 )
    the funny thing i see about it all is ms' accusations as to why embedded linux wont work are basically critisms that only point to linux being weak on the desktop...
    - no ie
    - no media player
    - no plethora of drivers
    - no big company support for end users

    etc etc...
    • Re:ms vs reality (Score:2, Insightful)

      by the_radix ( 454343 )

      You just validated Microsoft's arguments with your third point: no plethora of drivers. No matter how fancy Linux has gotten, it still hasn't been able to interface with the huge base of hardware that Microsoft products can. There are a lot of companies that cannot afford fancy new hardware; they must make do on something that was brought in years ago. And Microsoft products play nice with them.

      Now, while we may be talking about embedded systems, realize that there are embedded system companies that have to make their systems work as seamlessly as possible with what their clients have lying about as well.

      In addition, since at least 75% (incredibly conservative) of their end-users will be using some kind of Microsoft product on their home computer, having a Microsoft-run embedded system means happier end-users.

      As for support, I would much rather have a big, rich company supporting my software than a bunch of chatrooms. If my system is compromised or causes damage, I want to be able to say, "This company here is responsible for it", instead of telling my pointy-haired boss that we either have to fix a problem ourselves with software that we shouldn't have to, or wait an indeterminate amount of time for "some people on the Internet" to fix it, or not. That's too big a liability for a company.

      • Re:ms vs reality (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        However, the popular architectures for embedded devices are Arm, Dragonball, PPC, MIPS. Which of those does windows XP embedded run on? Hint: None. Yes, Wince runs on Arm and MIPS, but that's /not/ XP embedded, which this article is about... Microsoft XP embedded runs on x86. Embedded developers stay away from x86 in general, because it's such a power-hungry architecture full of legacy backward compatibility kludges.

        Now, which of those architectures does Linux (not to mention NetBSD) run on? Hint: All of them (well... you're pushing your luck on a dragonball, but ucLinux exists... )

        Microsoft are just lying through their teeth.
      • You just validated Microsoft's arguments with your third point: no plethora of drivers. No matter how fancy Linux has gotten, it still hasn't been able to interface with the huge base of hardware that Microsoft products can. There are a lot of companies that cannot afford fancy new hardware; they must make do on something that was brought in years ago. And Microsoft products play nice with them.

        You are smoking crack, son.

        Have you actually DONE any embedded work? I have. With PSOS, VxWorks, and Nucleus. On several different processors (AMD29k, i960, M68k, and PPC). With SEVERAL different PCI bridges, chipsets, memory controllers, network interfaces, uarts, and DMA controllers. NONE of which are supported by Microsoft, and NONE of which are unilaterally supported by the OS's we have used. Guess which OS does?

        As for support, I would much rather have a big, rich company supporting my software than a bunch of chatrooms. If my system is compromised or causes damage, I want to be able to say, "This company here is responsible for it"

        Good for you. All you have proven to me is that you are evasive, slime sucking, scum who LOVES to point fingers and blame somebody else for your problems. *I* would rather have the source code and access to the original author, so that if there IS a problem, I can tell my boss we can a) sack up like men and take responsibility and b) fix it, not hide like good corporate lackeys.
      • There are a lot of companies that cannot afford fancy new hardware; they must make do on something that was brought in years ago. And Microsoft products play nice with them.

        I strongly disagree. Older hardware is Linux's strong point. I'm sitting here looking at my 386 firewall. Linux only has problems with hardware that Should Not Exist(tm) anyway, things like cable select. Blame the OEMs, crappy hardware is crappy hardware.

        "This company here is responsible for it"

        That point is irrelevant. If you find a bug in MS's software, you have to wait for MS to fix it, which is the same as "some people on the Internet". Either way, you have to wait. With the code available you at least have the option to fix it yourself.

        That's too big a liability for a company.

        Do you really think that having MS software is not a liability? Can you blame them when their software fails? If it's there fault what can you do about it? You can't even sue them if your mission critical software fails. What can your company do about it? Nothing! Read the EULA. There is nothing you can do ... you're worse off than the OSS solution!
      • Now, while we may be talking about embedded systems, realize that there are embedded system companies that have to make their systems work as seamlessly as possible with what their clients have lying about as well.

        Cripes, is there anthing in your post that is accurate? I almost missed this gem.

        While MS products ARE engineered to work well with other MS products, MS also spends most of its time trying to figure out now NOT to interoperate with other vendors whenever possible. Everybody else (other than MS) is aiming to interoperate with everybody else (including MS). Now, tell me again, if interoperability is a requirment, why I should choose MS?
      • For embedded systems, you don't worry about a plethora of drivers. You just need one driver -- for the circuit you're going to put into the product -- and you're probably designing that circuit yourself. If a generic driver will work, that's nice. More likely, someone's going to have to tweak the driver a bit. Would you rather do that in the secretive world of MS-approved code, or starting with open source?

        Admittedly, the GPL can sometimes be a stumbling block here -- companies might think that publishing the source code to their particular driver hack will give away some of the secrets of their design... 10% of the time, they might be right.
  • by jd ( 1658 )
    When I read these reports, the Microsoft stuff sickened me. I've started a petition [petitiononline.com] online, in the hope that the negative publicity might spur Microsoft into retracting some of it's FUD.


    (The petition, per se, is pretty useless. Nobody's going to listen to it. But, a slashdotted petition, right now when vocal opposition to Microsoft could actually have some impact on the MS/DOJ settlement, MIGHT create enough publicity to force Microsoft to back down.)


    The bottom line is this. Not a single statement in the Microsoft evaluation was honest. Some had some technical points correct-ish, but in a way as to give a highly (and deliberately) misleading impression. Yet this is the information CEOs and technical managers will be relying on.


    If it's not made illegal to decieve people out of their money, then it damn well aught to be at least made a very painful experience for the perp.

  • http://www.microsoft.com/windows/Embedded/xp/techi nfo/develop/training.asp

    They make it sound like building with tinkertoys. That's what we really need, right? A whole bunch of imbedded devices with custom-built kernels put together with all the quality of your average Access database.

    What a crock. I'll never buy one.

    - Freed
  • ...will they convince the masses that the open source people did it?

  • by selectspec ( 74651 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @03:57PM (#2721874)
    Is if you needed to work with some proprietary MS protocol like CIFS, DCOM (embedded DCOM?? ugh), or some other stupid MS thing.
  • by frankmu ( 68782 )
    i wonder if this attack is due in some part to the linux handhelds (like the Sharp Zaurus and the Samsung) that are coming out. These pdas use the same hardware as the wince machines, but you don't have the MS tax associated with them.
  • by larien ( 5608 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @04:09PM (#2721967) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft keep trotting out the same old argument about GPL code, specifically that because of the "viral" nature of the license, any code incorporating GPL code has to be released, potentially opening up Intellectual Property.

    I really hate this argument! At least with GPL code you have a choice; use the code and release as GPL or don't touch it. With Windows code, you have no choice; as you can't get the code without paying MS money or getting some NDA signed, you cannot use it.

    • by osgeek ( 239988 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @04:26PM (#2722109) Homepage Journal
      Yeah, but the option of at least having a binary library that does what you need is usually all you would ask for. Microsoft definitely wins the business case on this bullet item.

      I like the embedded Linux option in a lot of ways, but honestly, the scariest thing about it is the GPL. There are too many competitors out there who'll just blatantly use every line of your source code in a knock-off box.

      I've known firmware developers personally who've copied binary driver code illegally and used it in commercial products. Open sourcing your own work is just like handing those crooks the keys. You might as well give up your whole business model and go do something else.

      Just paying MS for the libraries up front is a lot wiser of a business decision in most cases, because you're dealing with known, mostly-reasonable costs.
      • Err. What? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by oGMo ( 379 )

        There are too many competitors out there who'll just blatantly use every line of your source code in a knock-off box.

        I've known firmware developers personally who've copied binary driver code illegally and used it in commercial products. Open sourcing your own work is just like handing those crooks the keys.

        I fail to overlook your blatant contradiction here. If a crook is a crook, they're going to use your code either way. Obviously security by obscurite doesn't work here either. Now, I can hear you saying "but open sourcing it just makes it easier for them!"

        You might as well give up your whole business model and go do something else.

        If your whole business model revolves around writing binary drivers for something, maybe you should go do something else. Reverse engineering is still legal. Hiding your code just makes it tough to figure out where it's broken. If your competitors are using your code, then you can force them under the GPL to open up their code as well.

        Now I can see the real finger pointing, "see, see, there's the viral GPL in action!" Let's get this straight: your competitors took your code, your code is not an airborne disease that forced itself on them. This is the GPL protecting you. And again, if your whole business model relies on merely writing some drivers for something, it's not a very good one. If you're actually manufacturing a product, your product should be the thing worth something.

      • I like the embedded Linux option in a lot of ways, but honestly, the scariest thing about it is the GPL. There are too many competitors out there who'll just blatantly use every line of your source code in a knock-off box.


        I'm not sure you understand the GPL entirely. Just because you are running your app on a linux device, does NOT mean you have to release source code. You can market your product to run on linux and keep it proprietary.

        The only time you are forced to release your own work is if you incorporate GPL work into your own application. The idea is that if you stand on the shoulders of GPL programmers in order to create your product, you have to give your work back to the community as payment for using their development effort to jump start your own development. Merely running your proprietary app ontop of the linux OS does not mean you have to release anything to the public.

  • There is no common integrated development environment (IDE) for Linux. OS development is command-line driven and applications development requires a new set of tools for each device. Developers must either build their own tool-chain from piecing together Open Source tools or opt for a specific vendor's costly toolset.

    Uh? Kdevelop? Code Crusader? Squid? And there are like, 4 or 5 others. Rediculous.
  • Typical (Score:3, Informative)

    by Pedrito ( 94783 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @04:23PM (#2722083)
    There is no common integrated development environment (IDE) for Linux. OS development is command-line driven and applications development requires a new set of tools for each device. Developers must either build their own tool-chain from piecing together Open Source tools or opt for a specific vendor's costly toolset.

    Uh, yeah, that's what happens when you use a monopoly to put all of your competition out of business. In the old days there used to be a choice of IDEs for Windows. In fact, I remember at one point Borland was the leader in development tools. Oh well, what do you expect from M$?
    • Developers must either build their own tool-chain from piecing together Open Source tools or opt for a specific vendor's costly toolset.

      So they admit that Visual Studio(r) is overpriced?... oh wait, they were trying to make that point about Linux, weren't they?
  • Appears to me that interpretation is the keyword here.

    In Microsoft's viewpoint, the ideal system is a "ready to run" package containing everything they think you might possibly need, taking most every possible situation into account. Microsoft seems to be interpreting the phrase "major OS components" as meaning "everything we provide in the package." Some developers may want purchase a large feature set in one lump, and Microsoft delivers a superior product in this respect.

    To the Linux developer, however, "major OS components" is interpreted as meaning "the kernel." And only the kernel. Everything else -- device drivers, window managers, web browsers, server daemons, user interface, user software -- are extras added on top, with only those components required being chosen.
    Linux also provides very model-generic and very model-specific hardware drivers, whereas Windows drivers tend to be very model-specific. As a result, a windows hardware developer must rebuild the driver in order to use it on an updated device; in Linux, chances are the generic driver will work (even if not optimally).

    Microsoft interprets "solid development" as "we make everything." While this does allow for tight quality control (debatable) and standardized programming practices, it loses the adavantage of a-thousand-monkeys-at-a-thousand-typewriters efficiency that Linux development has. When you have a large, diverse programming base, you can pick and choose from the best of the code offered. It is unlikely that any Microsoft developer can see the entire code base of his project; only in Linux and other OSS OS's is this possible.

    I like this little bit of FUD: "Developers must either build their own tool-chain from piecing together Open Source tools or opt for a specific vendor's costly toolset." Microsoft implies here that their toolset is not costly, in fact cheaper than the many free toolsets available for Linux developers.
  • by AaronW ( 33736 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @04:41PM (#2722237) Homepage
    I am a software engineer writing networking code that runs in embedded environments. No one in their right mind would choose Windows XP for embedded development for a number of reasons.

    1. Embedded devices use a wide variety of microprocessors, memory architectures, and hardware, often with custom boot code. At least in the hard-core networking industry, X86 is not a big player since RISC processors tend to be a better fit (almost all networking protocols are big endian, for example). As far as I know MS is X86 only (not counting Intel's Unobtainium).

    Also, many embedded products are based around non-Intel processors to cut costs and power requirements. There are a wide variety of RISC processors out there with varying levels of integration.

    In the networking area I'm in (dealing with network processors from companies like Agere, Broadcom, Intel, MMC, Vitesse, etc.) most of the parts come with support for Linux and VxWorks. I do not see much support for Windows.

    2. Embedded developers often need very low level access to the operating system. I doubt very much that MS will make available the source code to their OS. Where I work, we have the full source code to VxWorks ($$$, but worth it), which our product is based. This allows us great flexibility in terms of adding features or fixing bugs (what, bugs in commercial software???). If we had to wait for Wind River (or Microsoft for that matter) to fix a bug we'd never get anything done.

    3. Linux is becomming very popular in the embedded area in part due to its open source and the licensing issues in many instances. Linux also has a proven track record of having been ported to a wide variety of hardware, from IBM mainframes to the Sega Dreamcast and other platforms. XP has no such track record.

    4. Many embedded environments do not want features like IE, media player, or even a GUI. In the networking products I've worked on the only front end is either through a serial port or a telnet session.

    Embedded developers are not your typical programmers. It's one thing to write an app in a nice GUI front-end and be able to step through the code in a debugger (like one can do with user-space apps). In the embedded world it's often the case that everything is running at the kernel layer.

    -Aaron
    • Initially, I would have agreed with your assessment.

      But, as per my comment I posted above, I would argue that this is only true for the current embedded software engineers. There was probably a time when user-space applications programmers were extremely talented and technical, and made their own choices. Today this is obviously not the case. If some of these guys are still around today, I wouldn't be surprised if they think back about the good ol' days when programmers were real programmers.

      My theory is that if Microsoft has its way, the same thing will happen in the embedded world someday. You'll have clueless "Microsoft Certified Embedded Systems Engineers" providing "100% Microsoft Solutions", and they will be numerous.

      I would like to think that the amount of technical ability requied for embedded development is too great to allow this to happen. But then again, the user-space application programmers several years ago probably thought the same thing when they were squeezing every ounce of performance out with hand-optimized assembly.
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @04:49PM (#2722286) Homepage Journal
    I did some work on an embedded Linux device and as near as I can tell, development costs are about comparable to the other embedded projects the company was doing (Though they did choose a bunch of Windows-programming idiots who didn't even know what processes were for the development effort, so I and the kernel hacker were the only two Linux guys on the proejct, but that's another story.) Factor in the savings in royalties and you've saved the company a pretty penny. Most people don't realize it but most of the time you also have to license a BIOS if you're working with an X86 solution (Dunno about other platforms.) We were working on rolling our own to avoid that expense as well. A few dollars does make a HUGE difference over the course of a million units.

    Speaking of which, does anyone have any figures on how much the other embedded OSes cost per system? I assume they'd have to be rough figures as I expect the various companies negotiate the exact price based on units to be licensed. I'd be curious.

    Really the biggest issue we ran in to was with releasing our kernel mods back to the community but I believe we decided to do so. I and my kernel-hacking co-worker were lobbying to do so, and there were really no reasons not to. The interface and higher level software was not going to be released, which is just as well as I'm sure it would have been as dangerous as Monty Python's "Funniest Joke in the World." (A joke so funny you die laughing, for those who missed the skit.)

  • by r_j_prahad ( 309298 ) <r_j_prahad@hotm a i l . com> on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @04:51PM (#2722309)
    I worked in the embedded systems field (automated test equipment) some years ago, and it was not at all anything like the typical IT shop. For starters, the President and founder was an EE, as were most of the VPs, and the designers, and right on down the line to my little corner of the world. There were no gullible PHBs with liberal arts degrees masquerading as wannabe technologists; my managers ate, slept, and breathed silicon and clock rates. They didn't buy into anybody's slick and deceptive marketing practices back then, and I'll bet they don't fall for it now.

    A colorful GUI with bundled streaming media is not going to send those guys flying through the air like in the commercials, but it's guaranteed to send the salesmen flying out the door.
  • But one has to wonder, is any of the stuff on slashdot FUD, opinionated and/or innacurate wrt Microsoft? (witness michael's article about MIME type holes recently)... mm... just a bit ;)

    And, just to secure my Troll rating (and to prove that I too probably dunno what I'm on about), an OS which compiles into a 350K or so kernel for even the most basic of functions, plus tacked on realtime scheduling doesnt strike me as being very appropriate for embedded applications. Sorry folks, but this is one area where you NEED to pay for a lot of R&D and yea that does mean proprietary software; I'm no CS student but I do know that hard RT is a thankless thing to get right, as is supporting embedded microcontrollers and peripherals (CPU's dont exist in vacuum, right?) and consistent support for dozens of possible platforms (and, yes, bootloading said platforms). I remember RedHat was making something called EcOS.. it's young but the architecture at least seems designed for embedding; anyone know what's up with that recently?
  • Really, who cares? Those companies smart enough to be running Linux already know its capabilities and strengths (and yes, its weaknesses). They don't need Microsoft to tell them what to do, and they don't listen to bullshit like this. Recently, the president of my company came to be and said: "I don't want to use AIM anymore. I already have to run enough of Microsoft's crap. What can we do around here that runs in Linux?" Immediately I suggested IRC, and since then we've had a company IRC server for the engineers and tech support folks to chat on.

    Most mid- and upper-level managers who end up choosing Linux are intelligent people, and they chose Linux because they see the light. For people stuck working at companies where the management are idiots, that's just too bad. Deal with it.

    To the companies who chose Linux over the past years: way to go! Keep ignoring MS, as it should be.

    To those companies who actually buy this FUD: I'll laugh when you vanish into extinction.

  • ... if I could read half of the white paper. In Opera at 100% the examples cited by Microsoft in their tables are barely legible. So much for standards compliance!
  • Embedded Linux offers a standard kernel but no standard device level application programming interface (API). There are multiple implementations of other major OS components so developers end up working with different programming environments and tools for each device, decreasing efficiency, limiting code re-use and increasing application development time.
    For example, there areat least five different
    • window managers and at least four competing browsers, increasing programming complexity and reducing the pool of available developers.

    oh, no! competition!

  • From the white paper (describing Embedded Linux):
    For example, there are at least five different window managers and at least four competing browsers, increasing programming complexity and reducing the pool of available developers.
    Translation:
    We sell a black bicycle, while these "automobiles" come in at least five colors and four models, increasing your available choices.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I have used ucLinux and Windows CE in the past and favor uCLinux.

    Lineo, PLEASE get a new PR person. Just reading your responses to Microsoft's claims is agonizing. If I hadn't used uCLinux before, reading your remarks alone would stray me away.

    Simple and to the point answers are effective in showing how simple and to the point uCLinux is.
  • This is (as the subject says) another example of the Microsoft FUD War. Only this one is far more directly targeted than MS's previous shots.

    I was covering the FUD War for a while.. check out "Anti-American Communist Cancer/Virus: Microsoft vs. the GPL", which is over on linuxppc.org [linuxppc.org]. Previously, they were targeting the GPL specifically, Linux by extension (and sometimes directly). This time, though, they've far outdone themselves. Bravo, Steve, Bill. Bravo.
  • by unsung ( 10704 )

    This really isn't anything to get too inflated over. It was a pretty standard marketing whitepaper and could have come from just about any company. In college I did research on battery technologies (lead acid, lithium, ni-cad) and every company in this market drew a chart of power efficiency and capacity on a white paper that indicated their technology was favored.

    Whitepapers are meant to point out your product's strengths (not weaknesses). Where there are gray areas, you spin it in your favor. To us, these spins look like inaccuracies, but I just assume that any company whose looking to embedded devices will take it with a grain of salt and do their research.

    That aside, to me, one glaring thing that's missing from the whitepaper is that a company won't own any technology through licensing XP. With Linux, you can own it... and that's a large consideration when trying to build value from your work through IP or otherwise. I don't expect Microsoft to put that in their whitepaper though.
  • I'm glad to see this sort of thing -- the day has finally come when Microsoft tries to throw their weight around and the Open Source community gets to shout back just as loud. But I'm really not all that worried about Windows XP anymore; I haven't been for months. Here's why.

    How many tech people have you talked to who are honestly enthusiastic about Windows XP? Granted, we Open Sourcers tend to group together, but even still, the vast majority of people I know who are serious about computing are infuriated as all hell about the direction Microsoft is going. I have relatives who are CTOs for large non-tech firms, and while they're still using Windows out of necessity, they're seriously looking at switching to Linux in a couple years. It looks to me like Microsoft, with their strong-arm tactics and "us or nothing" attitude, is alienating a very important part of their business: the people who understand technology.

    I know people who used to be avid Windows 2000 supporters, and now they refuse to use XP. Whether it's the forced registration, or the new integrated software, or just Microsoft in general, they don't want to be force-fed anymore. "So what?" you say. "Microsoft will still take over the market." I think that's an accurate assumption, but -- which market?

    I say that Microsoft has already put nails in the coffin of their share of the server industry. That isn't to say they aren't being successful; quite to the contrary, Microsoft (compared to the rest of the tech sector) is doing extremely well. But I say the software giant's peak is coming soon. Within a year or so, they'll hit maximum sales and maximum power, and then they'll level off. And sure enough, one by one, slowly but steadily, people will drop Microsoft in support of a more secure and reliable alternative: Linux. (No offense intended to the other OSS flavors out there, it's just that Linux is getting the most press.) Within three or four years, I predict that Microsoft will have lost a severely large percentage of the server market; the only demographic they'll manage to keep hold of will be the end users, the people who either don't know or don't care how to do anything other than open Word and play Solitaire. And that won't last forever.

    Once Microsoft realizes it's screwed itself over with the server industry, it will be forced to reinvent itself as an even more "user-oriented" company; MSN will replace Windows as their dominant product, everything they do will be aimed at the average (read: clueless) computer user and his kids, and Microsoft will become more like AOL and Yahoo! than anything else. Then, as the general population slowly becomes more adept with technology, the barriers to change from Windows to an alternative OS will ease up, and Microsoft will finally start to lose their hold on the home PC market.

    I give the company something in the ballpark of eight years before Chapter 11.
  • midori from Linus/transmeta [transmeta.com]

    Did a search on the comments to see if there was any mention of midori. Didn't find any.

    Any comments on Midori as an Embedded linux?
  • Java lies (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sigwinch ( 115375 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @07:06PM (#2723290) Homepage
    Microsoft lies through their teeth:
    Java was designed for use with a single programming language -- Java. Developers have no option to choose the best tool for the task and cannot use knowledge or code from other languages.
    Jython [jython.org], for instance, lets you run Python programs natively on any Java machine. I've also seen Java-targeted compilers for other languages, but I can't find a link at the moment.

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