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GNU is Not Unix

Blender Is GPL 385

BartV writes with a low-key snippet from the new blender.org: ""Today, Sunday oct 13, 2002, we've launched the Blender sources as GNU GPL to the Internet. Blender has become Free Software forever!" This should be a case study for other companies with software no longer profitable as payware; read some of our previous postings about Blender to follow the story from idea to release.
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Blender Is GPL

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  • UI. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by garcia ( 6573 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @03:34PM (#4441632)
    I was reading through some of the previous articles b/c as we all know, the server is /.'ed.

    I found a lot of complaints about the UI of the program (see one here [slashdot.org])

    Any of the hardcore Blender users planning on actually doing some development on the UI (and some features which other programs have, ie default lighting?)

    I am really interested in doing some of my own editing soon and I would love to see an easy to use program that isn't referred to as " the vi of 3D modelling [slashdot.org]"

    Just some thoughts until we can see the actual article.
    • Re:UI. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tjwhaynes ( 114792 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @03:40PM (#4441664)

      I found a lot of complaints about the UI of the program (see one here [slashdot.org])

      But you will also find a ton of people who like the UI just fine. Once you get used to the UI, it is fast, powerful and practical. Blender does have a steep learning curve to begin with, but once you have that over with, the package shows its power.

      You might think that the 'vi of 3D modelling' is an insulting term. Others might view it as high praise.

      That said, I still prefer Emacs :-)


      Toby Haynes

      • FYI... (Score:2, Insightful)

        Once you get used to the UI

        Just so you know, any GUI that needs people to "get used to it" is bad design and doesn't take into consideration human factors and usability.

        • Re:FYI... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by vadim_t ( 324782 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @03:53PM (#4441719) Homepage
          Heh, that's very funny. I remember I tried an iMac once. I can't do absolutely anything useful with it, and I've been using computers and Windows for years. I see lots of people talking about how intuitive is $GUI. That's a plain lie. Any GUI requires getting used to it. If a really intuitive one is ever made it will work by reading your mind.
        • Re:FYI... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by JHelgie ( 598219 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @03:55PM (#4441728)
          "any GUI that needs people to "get used to it" is bad design"

          Not if it lets people who KNOW HOW TO USE IT do what they need in a signifantly more efficient manner. As far as I care, all GUI's should be more difficult to use, people are too stupid as it is.
          • Re:FYI... (Score:2, Funny)

            by Theom ( 567303 )
            Not if it lets people who KNOW HOW TO USE IT...

            Hey Clippy, we finaly found someone who likes you.
        • Re:FYI... (Score:5, Informative)

          by rknop ( 240417 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @03:55PM (#4441732) Homepage

          Just so you know, any GUI that needs people to "get used to it" is bad design and doesn't take into consideration human factors and usability.

          Not really. It's only bad design if your goal is to make the program as easy to learn as possible. In the case of Blender, it means that it's a UI optimized so that those who know it can work as fast as possible. Those optimizations may be inconsistent with optimizations that allow somebody to learn it as fast as possible.

          The ideal UI would do both. Given where Blender comes from, the "skilled user efficiency" optimizations were far more important. I suspect there will be a lot of resistance to decreasing the efficiency of the UI to skilled users in the name of improving it for newcomers. If the latter can be done without sacrificing the former, then that will be welcome.


          • Re:FYI... (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Tablizer ( 95088 )
            It's only bad design if your goal is to make the program as easy to learn as possible. In the case of Blender, it means that it's a UI optimized so that those who know it can work as fast as possible. Those optimizations may be inconsistent with optimizations that allow somebody to learn it as fast as possible.

            I am not a heavy Blender user (yet), but I have not seen any operation that is significantly improved by being "odd". Can you point out one, by chance?

            Further, the design assumes a middle mouse button, and middle mouse buttons are falling out of favor (because there are already 101 buttons on the keyboard, so why add yet more to the mouse). The keyboard equivs for the 3rd mouse button are horrendus if you don't have a middle button.

            Besides, if the UI scares away newbies, then there will be less users and thus less people willing to support and improve it and make add-ons.

            • Re:FYI... (Score:3, Interesting)

              Further, the design assumes a middle mouse button, and middle mouse buttons are falling out of favor (because there are already 101 buttons on the keyboard, so why add yet more to the mouse). The keyboard equivs for the 3rd mouse button are horrendus if you don't have a middle button.

              Most mice sold today have at least 3 mouse buttons. Mine has 4 + mouse wheel. Given that most of *nix assumes a 3rd mouse button, I fail to see the problem here. It's not like Blender is designed to run on Macs.

              Besides, if the UI scares away newbies, then there will be less users and thus less people willing to support and improve it and make add-ons.

              How many 3d and CAD packages have you used? Very few are newbie-friendly, and very few people learn to use them without a book or extensive tutorials. That being said, there's certainly room in most 3d software for improvement in the interface. However, something like the 3rd mouse button should be considered far less of a factor in improvement than making it configurable enough for those without a 3rd button to be able to use it (and while we're on it, using 4th and 5th mouse buttons would be a good thing too). When you're using a mouse-intensive application, the only keys that matter are those on the left side of the keyboard, and every mouse button you can add helps.
              • and while we're on it, using 4th and 5th mouse buttons would be a good thing too

                I never understood this philos. Perhaps you can steer me.

                There are plenty of keys on the keyboard, so WHY do we need yet more on the mouse?

                You can point with the mouse, and press a key with the other hand. It is more accurate that way because the pressing hand is not the moving hand. Thus, you don't veer off accidently while pointing.

                Perhaps it is a personal thing, but I don't like a lot of mouse buttons. The keyboard does a better job at being a button surface IMO.

                Hey, glue the keyboard to the top of the mouse and then we have the best of both worlds, at least on paper :-)

            • Actually, most of the mice out there have a third button. Most mice nowadays come with a wheel, and the wheel is the third button on most systems.

              As for the UI: it needs to be well-documented. You should be able to read the docs, follow through the tutorials, and learn it. That is true for any UI. You can't just sit down behind a wheel of a car for the first time and start driving, you have to learn it first. Yet, I haven't seen people complain about their car's UI.
            • Re:FYI... (Score:5, Informative)

              by antirename ( 556799 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @07:26PM (#4442450)
              Actually, I've never seen a 3D modeling program that didn't expect a three-button mouse (I'm an engineer, not an artist BTW, although many 3D programs use the same engines). I don't think making some "shortcut" functions (zoom, rotate, pan, etc) work with the middle mouse button is bad design, it works very well for me; but even that were the case it's still an industry standard.
            • Re:FYI... (Score:3, Insightful)

              by PigleT ( 28894 )
              "Besides, if the UI scares away newbies, then there will be less users and thus less people willing to support and improve it and make add-ons."

              I've not got this version of Blender up and running yet so I'm not making a specific comment. However, as we've got onto generalities: newbies don't support and improve projects, they suck support-time from those who could be improving software.
        • Re:FYI... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by rash ( 83406 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @03:57PM (#4441742) Homepage
          Then how do you explain the ui of every in house 3d tool in the industry?
          They have been designed with only one goal in mind. Workflow speed.

          Its better to design the ui of an app you use all day to be as fast as possible and then not to care about the learning curve.

          This is becouse the time it takes you to learn the app is made up for in a matter of days when you actually use the app.

          You cannot claim that people must understand the app when its about 3d software. This is becouse they are in themselfs very hard apps to use. So the people using them havto be very tech friendly. They should not have any problem learning the ui nomatter how hard it is.

          The people that complain about the ui eather havent spent enough time learning it or quite simply doesnt have any buisness learning it in the first place.

          If you are just using a 3d app to play with and create some cool graphics you might aswell use poser or bryce.

          Blender is a tool designed for fast workflow, to be used in a team environment within a company.
          • Then how do you explain the ui of every in house 3d tool in the industry?

            Sorry, sport, but your answer doesn't wash. In-house tools are designed to be exactly that: in-house.

            A product released to the general public that expects to have a large following must take into consideration users of all levels of experience when designing the UI.

            Its better to design the ui of an app you use all day to be as fast as possible and then not to care about the learning curve

            You don't try to actually sell your software to a large audience, do you? UI design is absolutely essential to any program, whether it be a graphic-based or text-based.

            That is not to say that Blender should be dumbed down for the sake of newbies, but a little more care in designing the UI would have gone a long way to pushing it to the forefront of 3D design software.
          • Re:FYI... (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Pseudonym ( 62607 )
            Then how do you explain the ui of every in house 3d tool in the industry?

            They're designed for fast workflow, relative to the way that house works.

            Incidentally, most current in-house tools are packages built on top of a commercial system like Maya or Houdini. The key here is that you can customise such a tool to suit your own workflow. Any system which does not support this runs the risk of being a toy.

        • Re:FYI... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Just so you know, any GUI that needs people to "get used to it" is bad design and doesn't take into consideration human factors and usability.

          Tell that to car manufacturers. I don't know about you, but I wasn't born knowing how to drive a car.
        • Re:FYI... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Monkelectric ( 546685 ) <slashdot@nOSpaM.monkelectric.com> on Sunday October 13, 2002 @04:08PM (#4441776)
          Not really ... A modeler is a very complex thing, expecting to be able to use it intuitively is folly.

          Can you run complex real systems without any training? Could you drive a car intuitively? Play a saxophone intuitively?

          Everything else in the world requires patience, practice and knowledge to operate. Why is it that people think extremely complex machines (computers) should/can be easy enough for any retard to use?

          That being said I still hate the blender GUI. I tried in earnest for 3 or 4 hours to use it, didnt make any headway and said "Fuck this, im going back to rhino"

          • A modeler is a very complex thing, expecting to be able to use it intuitively is folly..... Could you drive a car intuitively?

            Yes, if you are allowed to make mistakes in the process without dying (such as a holidek).

            Blender's UI is like having to drive a car by pushing the radio buttons. Perhaps it is possible to make such an interface work, but everybody is going to complain.

            • Re:FYI... (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Chris Burke ( 6130 )
              Yes, if you are allowed to make mistakes in the process without dying (such as a holidek).

              Great. So a UI is "intuitive" in your opinion if you only need technology from a sci-fi program set 400 years in the future in order to make the cost of attempting to use the interface without substantial training bearable. :)

              But you're right, the car has a fairly intuitive interface. The reas for that is that, really, the car is a simple device. It turns, it goes, it stops, and correspondingly there are 3 knobs or levers you have to manipulate. Some cars have a 4th thing you can do (change gears), and you'll notice that is the one most people started to get confused about, and they had to get rid of. That's where the boundary lies between "difficult technology" and "simple appliance". Three things. So if your device has to do much more than go, stop, and turn left or right, it's going to be tough designing a truly intuitive interface.

              And seeing how people around here drive, I'm inclined to think that three things is a bit too much.

              That's why it's going to be tough to find an interface that doesn't "take a while to get used to to" for something like Blender. Which isn't to say the interface is good. I'm just saying the threshold of good should be lower than making it intuitive.
        • Please name a GUI that doesn't require people to get used to it.
          • Re:FYI... (Score:2, Insightful)

            by rworne ( 538610 )

            Basically, the only "intuitive" interface is the nipple. After that, it's all learned.
            - Bruce Ediger
        • Re:FYI... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by PotatoHead ( 12771 ) <doug.opengeek@org> on Sunday October 13, 2002 @05:01PM (#4441994) Homepage Journal
          Your statement is true only if your primary concern is making the app easy for new users.

          There is always a clear tradeoff between new users and experienced ones. Others have said below something along the lines of: "Just look at all the 3D apps out there now, each one of them focuses on the experienced user..." They are right. Once you understand the workflow, things are generally fast --which is the way all of these users want things to be anyway longer term.

          Interestingly, the MCAD market (for Engineers, not entertaiment or styling) is making this mistake. All the major apps are converting their custom U.I. to one that works for new users. Each and every one of them loses their productivity as a result. Each of them are fighting with their user base. Blender will have the same problem.

          One solution is to make *good* documentation with lots of use cases. The Blender folks have done a fair job of this.

          The bottom line here is that complex tasks are complex. The software can only go so far to make performing the task easier. Any 3D app that has a very easy UI, also suffers from the inability to do the little complex things that make the app worth using anyway.

          Why spend time building the perfect UI, when new feature creep from the fast evolving 3D market will slowly erode your interface anyway.

          Personally, I feel the Blender UI is a little out there. It could be a little more standard, but that effort is probably not worth the time. Adding good things to Blender will likely motivate new users to make use of the package given its price and capability.

        • Build me a car that you can drive perfectly right away the first time you sit in it. Build me a plane so easy to fly. One size does not fit all my friend.

        • Blockquoth the poster:

          Just so you know, any GUI that needs people to "get used to it" is bad design and doesn't take into consideration human factors and usability.

          Are you saying that the design that is easy for beginners to learn is automatically well-suited to the needs of advanced users? I think this is simply not true -- certainly not in every instance. Sometimes programs are hard to use because they are complex and subtle -- because the task they perform is complex and subtle.
        • That is incorrect (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Crag ( 18776 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @05:31PM (#4442094)
          Other posters have addressed your error, but I thought I'd illustrate the point more completely.

          Unless a tool is intended for people who will not use it more than a few times, it should be designed for use, not for learning.

          Overly simplistic example:

          No tool at all: no learning time, a unit of work takes half a day.
          Tool A: a day to learn, work takes an hour
          Tool B: a week to learn, work takes a minute

          Anyone who will do less than three units of this kind of work IN THEIR ENTIRE LIFE is better off not using either tool (if time is the only consideration). Anyone who will do more than 40 units of this kind of work EVER is better off spending 40 hours learning tool B. Everyone else is better off with the "easy to learn" tool A.

          Ease of learning only matters once. Ease of use once learned always matters. This is why I recommend 'friendly' tools to people who don't want to do a lot of the kind of work the 'expert' tools accelerate.
          • Tool A, Tool B... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Eric_Cartman_South_P ( 594330 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @08:24PM (#4442655)
            ...now let me tell you why you are a tool for talking about Tools. After spending a half decade programming UI's and studying human factors and usability, and watching focus groups and software usage, and coding the screens, I can tell you that bad design has beget your conclusions.

            Why should an expert tool be harder to use? That is simply a poor excuse for designers who could not make 100, or 1000+ options easy to use and access. If they changed their interface from an option-select to a defered-create and make icon graphics consistent, a design change such as that and nothing else can make a hard-to-use piece of software easy to use. I've seen that happen coutless times before on all sorts of software, from admin screens to portal interfaces.

            Remember, hard-to-use software is poorly designed software. "The space shuttle is hard to fly, but the software is great! " you might think. But there we are talking extremes on the bell curve, buddy. From MS Paint to photoshot to Maya, we have keyboards, mice, screens, and stylii input. We're not landing shuttles here.

            Again, having had the pleasure of making a sweet living as a UI designer, and having fun behind of both the one-way-mirrors of focus room usability tests and behind the keyboard coding, I will repeat my mantra again, at the risk of being called Troll -1...

            Within the real of a PC you can put in your office (exluding space shuttle and particle accelerator stuff, ok?) hard to use software is poorly designed software.


            • by Cryptnotic ( 154382 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @02:31AM (#4444005)
              I don't think he was saying that professional tools need to be hard to operate, only that they may require learning to fully be able to use them. For example, suppose you want to move a pallet of 80 pound bags of concrete mix from one place to another spot 500 feet away. You can do it the "no tools" way, which is pick them up one by one and carry them accross the field. The "Tool A Method" would be to use a wheelbarroww, whereby you could carry several bags at a time, but you would need to learn how to use the wheelbarrow and not make it tip over. "Tool B Method" would be to spend a few days learning how to use a forklift.

        • I saw another poster saying that he found the Mac GUI to be unusable. I second that. I guess it's badly designed?

          There is easy-to-use, and easy-to-learn, and (rarely), there is both. Unix and vi are the second. Mac struck me as neither.

      • I'm not so sure there's a 'ton' of people who like the UI. As I've said in many discussions about this, there are some people who find the UI to their liking. It has some good qualities. It is relatively fast. It gives you immediate and unfettered access to the nuts and bolts of your models. BUT...on the whole, in terms of HOW one is forced to do things a certain way, and HOW certain parts of the interface were implemented without clearly thinking them through from a USER'S perspective, there are some shortcomings. For example...why should it be such a mental exercise to understand how materials and textures are connected to one another? This is just one example, but it clearly illustrates my point. This design methodology is pervasive throughout Blender.

        There are other issues - where form was given an oddly higher priority than function, and simple time-saving devices were overlooked completely. Anyone who has done any serious work with blender's vertex groups should understand what this means. There is no rational argument that would suggest otherwise.
    • Re:UI. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by imr ( 106517 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @03:46PM (#4441692)
      people who are ditching blender's ui are usually people who have tried blender for, say, one hour than dumped it and whine since.
      The problem about changing blender's ui is that its thousands of users love it and want to keep it because it's very practical and very well done. That is if you have a keyboard.
      First time I used blender I couldnt even create one shape. than dumped it. than whine. Than I read one of the numerous tutorials.
      Than I understood the beauty of it. Basically, with blender you have a 100 keys mouse. One hand on the mouse, the other on the keyboard and there you go. People who can play fps can use blender.
      The magic key is the space bar.
      I found studio max interface easy at first contact THAN difficult to cope with. Blender's is the opposite. Yet, now that it's gpl, you can have a new one designed anyway.
      • Re:UI. (Score:2, Interesting)

        by garcia ( 6573 )
        while I agree that experienced people will not have a problem using the "vi" interface, look what it has done for other programs...

        Wordperfect 5.1 used to have LARGE function key stickers so that people would have SOME clue as to what the program was able to do. After using the program for several months, years, whatever, it was VERY fast and easy to do what you needed to do. Would I be able to sit down right now and use the program? Unlikely. Has this form of UI survived into current projects? Not really.

        Any program that causes a steep learning curve is poor. Any person that believes that a steep learning curve and hard to use interfaces are a good idea, is wrong.


        Using single keystrokes and "modes" is not simple.
        • Re:UI. (Score:2, Insightful)

          Your statements are correct if your talking about a mass market application like a word proc the UI should be intuitive and it should also allow for significant work flow optimization (MS Word the most used app retains WP 5.1 function keys as an option last time I checked) We do live in a for dummies time period when there is the push for simplified aka dumbed down UI. In this case were talking about a 3D creation tool something the people that actualy use it all day want as fast as possible if some college kid that wants to play around with a 3D app and dosent have the time to learn it well thats just to bad a skin for dummies might be nice but dont try and water down an effective interface because you think it should just work. That is keepign with KISS priciples from the applications programmers perspective.
        • by imr ( 106517 )
          I get that, but blender UI is not that way. To refer to your "vi" comment, blender is in no way THAT hard.
          It's just a very UNcommon UI, which I could not have guessed alone (press space to have the menu appear!). Once the proper tutorial found, and there are plenty, It's a matter of hours, not days, so let's not even talk about years.
          Then what's left is the same with every 3D software, months of work to get what you imagine. But that's another point.
      • Re:UI. (Score:3, Funny)

        by FattMattP ( 86246 )
    • Re:UI. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Boglin ( 517490 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @04:20PM (#4441828) Journal
      I started using Blender about four years ago. In fact, Blender was the reason that started using Linux (they used to cripple the Windows version.) I will be the first to admit that Blender does not have the perfect interface. However, I believe some of the complaints have been unfair. The main ones I hear are:

      1) The learning curve is too steep.

      You won't make the next Toy Story having just used Blender for five minutes. However, I think the main source of this complaint is the lack of an on-board help file or manual. To put it in perspective, imagine trying to use POVRAY or BMRT without reading the manual; Blender is far simpler to figure out.

      2) The interface is counterintuitive.

      In and of itself, this statement can be true. However, it is almost always followed by "Why can't it be more like 3D MAX/Maya/Bryce/Lightwave/trueSpace/Netscape?" Blender is its own program, not some attempt to make a free version of your favorite commercial software. As a Blender user, I sometimes ask why these programs can't be more like Blender.

      3) It's ugly.

      OK. You've got me there, although I don't find 3D MAX particularly attractive, either. However, Blender has done a nice job of being consistently ugly. What I mean is that Blender gives you the exact same ugliness on Windows, Mac, Linux, BSD, and the iPaq. Compare with something like Poser, which, while beautiful, is going to give you a different file chooser on two of the platforms, and will just laugh at you if you try to run it on the others.

      4) It doesn't load OBJ files/have raytraced reflections/support displacement mapping/do the Hokey-Pokey and turn itself around!

      These are very valid complaints, but they don't deal with the UI.

  • CVS instructions (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kelerain ( 577551 ) <avc_mapmaster@ho ... minus physicist> on Sunday October 13, 2002 @03:35PM (#4441637)
    From http://www.blender3d.com/, members area

    Annonymous cvs is open now! Use the following setting to get your copy!

    1 (t)csh assumed
    setenv CVSROOT :pserver:anonymous@

    2 cvs login
    password: anonymous

    3 cvs co blender

    Best of luck actually getting the source however..

    And the community forums are here: http://www.elysiun.com/ viewforum.php
  • by certron ( 57841 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @03:36PM (#4441644)
    While I was poking around on www.blender3d.com yesterday, I clicked through one of the Links/Sponsors and found some fairly cool things.

    The site is http://www.quelsolaar.com/ with 2 projects based on blender (I think, but they might not be) at http://www.quelsolaar.com/loqairou/screens.html and http://www.quelsolaar.com/quelsolaar/screens.html (a 3rd project lacks screenshots, but is a new experimental interface for blender, it says)

    Some really cool stuff, coming real soon.
    • The project you speak about is called Verve.

      I was lucky enough to attend the conference (two days out of the three), and saw several really Excellent presentations on and about Blender.

      The project you speak of was one of them. I won't give away the end-product's name, but know this: The author gave a really in-depth, and well educated explanation for many aspects of both his system, and how Blender can be extended to make use of it.

      http://www.quelsolaar.com/connector/index.html [quelsolaar.com]

      I was extremely excited to be at the conference and see for myself not just the enthusiasm of everyone involved, but a history of Blender, how to extend it, concepts on improving it's interface and featureset, and more, including discussions about the Blender Organization.

      Some very good things.
  • Great! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Pig Hogger ( 10379 ) <pig.hogger@gmailCHEETAH.com minus cat> on Sunday October 13, 2002 @03:47PM (#4441695) Journal
    Now, to those who want to "innovate" with Blender, we can say:
    Bite my shiny metal license!!!
    Oh, wait, that's BLENDER!!! Darn!!!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 13, 2002 @03:48PM (#4441699)
    ...is some open source drink recipies!
  • I click the link, it loads... although there is a distinct lack of interface, I see a directory listing containing several php files but no evident index.htm or index.php type of file. I quickly take a peek at blender3d.com and yes... the link there does go back to blender.org. I then click on the link at blender3d.com to go back to blender.org, and I get a blank screen. I press "back" twice in Mozilla and suddenly I see this:

    You wanted it you got it....! blender is OpenSource now. We are very sorry that the site is down now but we had to move the server because our previous ISP unplugged us last thursday! Stay tuned we will be up soon.


  • by eddy ( 18759 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @04:02PM (#4441756) Homepage Journal

    Was it "worth it"? I don't know the first thing about blender or very much about this buy-out. Was the source available prior to the buy-out so that it could be inspectad/evaluated?

  • This should be a case study for other companies with software no longer profitable as payware

    When will Microsoft start selling Win3.1 out to GPL?
    • by An Onerous Coward ( 222037 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @05:59PM (#4442192) Homepage
      Here's the timeline:

      January 1 - Microsoft announces that they will open source Windows 3.1 and DOS 6.22 for the paltry sum of $50,000. Apparently, this is to make up for the money Bill Gates lost when he ran his wallet through the laundry.

      February 12 - "The Freedows Project" (sounds like "Fritos") obtains the required $50,000 through generous donations by individuals and random muggings.

      February 13 - Microsoft turns over the source code.

      February 14 - The Freedows project sues Microsoft for violating the GPL by deliberately obscuring their code. Microsoft counters by explaining that, no, that's the code they really were using. They enter as evidence fifty pages of source code for IE 7.

      March 22 - Freedows announces that they've overcome the first project hurdle: Separating out the integrated Solitare code from the rest of the OS.

      March 25 - Freedows is forked, and a new project called XFreedows emerges.

      March 27 - Freedows forks again after an SMP patch is rejected. The new project is called "Lindows."

      March 28 - Lindows is sued by Lindows.

      April 1 - Freedows announces that Freedows OS is now running on top of the Linux kernel. Nobody believes them.

      April 2, 3, 4, and 5 - Freedows resends the press releases, publishes all sorts of screenshots and demos, bribes CmdrTaco to publish a, "No it wasn't an April Fools Joke" story. Freedows is slashdotted, detonating three servers and killing five. The project is set back a month.

      May 15 - A seven day flame war erupts when someone on the Freedows mailing list suggests changing the UI to require "triple clicking" for some functions.

      June 1 - XFreedows is integrated back into the Freedows main branch, adding native NVIDIA support, an OpenGL-based 3D GUI, 16-way SMP support, the XFAT file system (a relational database filesystem which supports file sizes up to 300 petabytes and transparent compression), full 32 bit, 64 bit, and 128 bit support, and DRM support that can be disabled with a couple of IFDEFs.

      July 15 - IBM "donates" ten million dollars to the Freedows project in what can only be described as a corporate mugging.

      August 5 - Solitare is re-integrated into the OS, improving performance 300-fold.

      August 7 - Thanks to IBM's generous donation, Freedows can move its CVS server onto a ludicrously powerful server running the Freedows OS.

      August 29th - 2:14 a.m. Freedows becomes self-aware.
  • Ray tracer? (Score:3, Informative)

    by OuD ( 527033 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @04:22PM (#4441844) Homepage
    Does Blender have a real ray tracer yet? If not, this would be the feature I would appreciate the most. Why? Example:

    Make a 90% transparent glass object. Make it cast a shadow on a surface. Notice the shadow is as dark as it would have been if the object was 100% opaque.

    With a ray tracer, on the other hand, the shadow's darkness would depend on the transparency of the object casting the shadow (as in real life).

    Another solution, of course, would be to have Blender export POV-Ray scenes.

    Other than this, I'd say Blender *rocks*, the interface is great, once you get the hang of it.. just a couple of evenings playing around, and it should pretty much feel fine. Remember, just because the interface is different, it doesn't have to be crap (yes, steeper learning curve blah blah).

    • Re:Ray tracer? (Score:3, Informative)

      by WWWWolf ( 2428 )
      Does Blender have a real ray tracer yet?

      As far as I know (which isn't much, sorry), 2.23 didn't have anything to do with raytracing. If you ask my honest opinion, Blender really needs support for external renderers (Renderman?) - the rendering engine is not always that logical, and (precisely hand-tuned!) environment maps, (nicely arranged!) shadow-only spotlights and (painstakingly manually tuned!) radiosity meshes don't quite cut it...

      I agree with you, raytracing would rule. I can't even remember how long I have wanted that...

      I did have some random success with the export scripts (to export to Renderman and PoV-Ray), but the colors didn't work in the old scripts and new scripts just bombed.

      Hope future will bring help in this respect...

  • by jdh28 ( 19903 ) <jdh28@@@bigfoot...com> on Sunday October 13, 2002 @04:35PM (#4441889) Homepage

    Just need to raise $12m.


  • of precedent setting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MadFarmAnimalz ( 460972 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @04:37PM (#4441894) Homepage
    It occurs to me, what with all the debate going on concerning the validity of open source as a business model, that we are missing the bigger lesson from the blender story.

    While I know that those 100 k Euros probably did not really cover all the assets of NaN, all the same, it showed it is possible.

    What would people say to programming teams picking up desired projects, and then 'holding them ransom' and waiting for some form of corporate sponsorship, perhaps?

    Or just doing it the way blender did it, and accepting private donations? That way, the projects that people really deem worthy would be the ones that made it into the open source community. Survival of the most valuable?

    Good idea? Bad idea? Comments?
    • This precedent also represents the potental validation of the many forms of street performer protocol [google.com]. Open source and Commons preserving Free licensing is growing up.

      Quoting a recent article of mine [google.com]

      Horace Greeley (1811-1872), Editor of the New York Tribune in an editorial in 1841 said:
      Do not lounge in the cities! There is room and health in the country, away from the crowds of idlers and imbeciles. Go west, before you are fitted for no life but that of the factory.

      In the same way, I urge you to...
      Do not lounge on the Microsoft platform! There is room and scope on Linux, away from the crowds of idlers and imbeciles, Go open, before you are fitted for no life but that of the helpdesk.

      But more importantly, by 1871 Horace Greeley also wrote: "This Daniel Boone business is about played out."

      In the same way, the last decade's Linux customer base can be seen as the self reliant pioneers. The "Do It Yourself" attitude and habit was learned from a time when "doing for themselves" was the only option. This is no longer the case, there are plenty new settlers and far many more willing to migrate, who are all too willing to pay for hardware, support, customization, collective development and even quality proprietary licensed products.

  • Thank you donators (Score:4, Insightful)

    by InodoroPereyra ( 514794 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @04:51PM (#4441953)
    I know it is always easier to just sit back and wait for others to do things. In this case make donations. I do not use Blender, I probably will not use it in the foreseeable future, but I might end up using free software that uses Blender. Anyways, thank you folks for the donations. Every one and all of them counted :-)
  • by Picass0 ( 147474 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @04:53PM (#4441960) Homepage Journal
    People who find the UI difficult to use remind me of people who can't read sheet music bitching about how hard it is to play the violin. Perhaps the reason you find blender difficult is you lack a foundation in 3d to base your knowledge upon.

    The other camp that complains about the UI is the Lightwave and Max crowd who are comparing this relatively small program to a full featured suite.

    Blender is a good tool. It is about to get better. I dig the fact that it will be part of Linux distros from now on.

    I believe in Blender so much I gave my fifty and became a member. And yes, I'm very happy right now.

    • People who find the UI difficult to use remind me of people who can't read sheet music bitching about how hard it is to play the violin.

      Music notiation is an anachronism. A (modified) piano-roll grid style is much more simpler and intuitive. It is almost like reading a spectragrph. Durations are purely visual, no duration notation to mentally translate into actual duration. Long dash, play long. Short dash, play short. KISS at its best.

      (Last time I said this it started a huuuge flamewar.)

      • by BlueGecko ( 109058 ) <benjamin.pollack@nOSpAm.gmail.com> on Sunday October 13, 2002 @08:24PM (#4442653) Homepage
        If I were to guess you play modern and not classical music, and further that you do all composition on the computer, would I be correct? I make those assumption for two reasons:
        1. Classical music alternates frequently between very long notes (sometimes held across eight or nine measures) and very quick notes (sixteenths very frequently, occasionally thirty-seconds or faster). Representing both of those notes in a human-readable form, without changing your scale every measure and thereby negating the whole point, would be very difficult. If you try to avoid that by defining the standard measure width by the most cramped measure, you're still in trouble because you'll end up with such long measures that you cannot easily guage the distance of your notes and therefore also negate the value of the system. In other words, you'll have to add other notations to your staff until you negate the benefit which you are proposing.
        2. Your solution works great for computer, but I want you to try to tell musicians who notate pieces (which would be any professional musician anywhere and any half-decent music student as well) that they should bring a ruler to practice to ensure their notes are the proper width. There is a major value to our current system, which is I can do it with an unsteady hand and a pencil on sheet music propped in front of me at 45 degrees. With your system I'd have to lay it flat, take out a ruler, figure out how wide the measures were, divide that width by the width of the note I wanted to draw, line that note up with the end of the previous note, and then draw the right length. I fail to see this catching on.
        There are other problems with your system too--for example, what happened to rests?--but quite frankly I think the above two complaints are sufficient enough.
  • BL is BS! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Makenai ( 223604 )
    We donated our money to the Blender project with the expectation that it would be Open Sourced and GPL'd - however, this seems not to be the case. Included in the source is the so-called 'BL License' that allows 3rd parties to use the existing Blender code base and keep their modifications to themselves. This stifles a major part of the GPL and is not what we paid for!

    From the License:
    For teams that don't want to operate under the GPL, we're also offering
    this "non-GPL" Blender License option. This means that you can download
    the latest sources and tools via FTP or CVS from our site and sign an
    additional agreement with the Blender Foundation, so you can keep your
    source modifications confidential. Contact the Blender Foundation via
    email at license@blender.org so we can discuss how we handle the
    practical matters
    • Re:BL is BS! (Score:5, Informative)

      by WWWWolf ( 2428 ) <wwwwolf@iki.fi> on Sunday October 13, 2002 @05:25PM (#4442076) Homepage

      As I understood it, the code can be used in two forms: 1) Use it under the terms of GPL, in which case if you distribute a modified version, code must be included, or 2) negotiate the license to distribute only the binaries with the Foundation, and pay them to fund the development (and I expect this payment is not that light!).

      I fail to see how this "stifles a major part of the GPL". The Blender Foundation releases all of their code under this dual license - People donate them money to do their job and release code under these terms. This license does allow others to take this code and modify it, and choose to either pay up, or be a nice citizen and contribute the code.

      And yes, this dual license thing was mentioned a couple of times in past. Loudly. Were you not listening?

    • Re:BL is BS! (Score:3, Informative)

      by Picass0 ( 147474 )

      Ton spoke with RMS about this addition to the GPL and Stallman gave it his OK.

      Blender foundation has alwys had as one of it's goals to become a viable business again. I imagine that there will be a commercial blender fork someday.
  • So, now that people have link to the source... has anyone tried to compile it? I have not been able to compile it. Seems as if the makefiles are messed up pretty badly.
  • For those not able to access the site, the source is up. However, there isn't any compiled versions up, and efforts to compile a windows version have been unsuccessful, according to the postings on the user forums.
  • Extra mirror (Score:2, Informative)

    I've put up an extra mirror for you ... here [rink.nu]. Enjoy!

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel