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ESR on his trip to Microsoft 240

Thanks to Norm J for the pointer over to ESR's post-Microsoft interview. Fairly typical situation, but it's interesting to comments from "the inside".
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ESR on his trip to Microsoft

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    For the short term, closed source will make you money. At least at the OS level, I'd be surprised if that survives a decade. I think once companies realize the benefits of not having their OS controlled by any one party, they'll start demanding open source at the OS level. You may be able to get away with closed source apps indefinitely, as long as they have relatively open file formats (XML maybe.)

    I don't deal with nagware period. I don't care any one application is, 99 percent of the stuff is pure unadulterated crap. Sell it commercially and I may buy it or open source it, anything in between I simply won't touch. Nagware seems to be mostly a closed source OS phenominon. The only shareware I've ever seen on Linux was xv and AFAIK no one uses that thing anymore.
  • If ESR's bribe was dinner with Greg Bear and Neal Stephenson, what bribes did Microsoft offer them?
  • In your not so humble opinion, of course.

    Actually in almost everyone's opinion here. And yes, I work for a software company and know EXACTLY what it is and what software worth.

  • Well actually, when I read all the posts here, most of the ACs seem to claim to be from MS.

  • What's so frustrating about this, is that if Windows adopted a DLL versioning/numbering scheme it would solve a LOT of stability issues, and create a very minimal amount of problems. This is something that's fixable with almost no effort, and just a little discipline...

    It already has one - but a lot of ISV's ignore it.
  • BUT, I wish somebody would explain to me how closed source development could POSSIBLY result in better code. All OSS means is that you make the source available to others so they can improve it. And you don't have to incorporate their improvements if you don't want to. At the very worst, it will give the same results as closed source.

    The prospect of free improvements to your code is very attractive. However, it's not necessarily a clear cut advantage:

    1) If there's not enough interest in a project for a free version to be developed, then you're going to hire people to code it up. This is expensive, but the only way to get the software you want in a timely manner.

    2) After funding the entire development, do you really want to give it all away? A competitor of yours may need the same software (or be in the same business) and find a zero-cost solution very attractive now that you've released for all to "improve".

    What does this mean? Even if you're not selling the software (but especially if you are), you're out of the initial development costs only to be on even ground with your competitors. This is a very poor way for a company to remain competitive. This is why you'd want to keep the code to yourself -- you paid for it and you want to benefit from it.

    One possible exception to this is the case where a company would like to establish an industry standard. History says you need be very open to do this, even though releasing all of your source code under public abusal licenses is not necessary... I'm losing my thread here, and nobody reads posts this deep in the threads anyway...
  • Dude, become a DCOMmunist! DCOM solves all that! DCOM is your friend. C'mon over here and give DCOM a little kiss, it gets awfully lonely here at 4:30am when the free coke machine is running low, and the ping-pong paddles are locked up in the workout room.

    Even better! DCOM for Visual Basic!
  • From what I can tell, the NT kernel sounds
    pretty cool (I'm no expert). But if you
    want a kernel that is modern and full of
    bugs, go the HURD.
  • by davevr ( 29843 ) on Wednesday June 23, 1999 @02:27PM (#1836238) Homepage
    I saw the talk and thought it was pretty interesting, but several points were not fully addressed.

    ESR made the point that developers working on open source care about making their product "better", and I don't think anyone was debating that point. In my mind, the central issue is "what do you mean by better".

    The problem, of course, is that different people have different opinions of what makes something "better". If I am running a web server, I might care mostly about uptime and use Linux. But if I am a home gamer, all I care about is "are the latest games going to play on my machine?" In that case, I would use Windows. Thus, a blanket statement saying that "Linux is better than Windows" or vice-versa makes no sense.

    The problem for many of us techies is that we often do not respect the opinions of the users. End-users often want things that are abhorrent to developers - a super-simple sugar-coated GUI, for example.

    This gets us to what I think is the main concern for the general public about Linux: everyday users are not convinced that open-source-devs are going to work on the features that the users care about. So, the public could clamor the Linux community for a simple GUI, but if all the Linux people think that is stupid, it is never going to happen - or at best, it will not have the cream-of-the-crop putting hours towards it.

    This is where the code-for-profit model works so well. People know that MS is motivated by the customer's idea of what is best - the profit-model works well for assuring this. Users can "vote" for new features and improvements with their dollars. If the typical end user cares more about desktop decorations than uptime, MS is not going to say "hey, you users are idiots - UPTIME is REALLY more important". Rather, MS is going to put their best people on desktop decorations, even if the best would rather work on something else. People understand the notion of paying (and being paid) to get stuff done, and as soon as money enters the scene, it is pretty hard to argue with the MS approach.

    ESR's answer to this was basically to say that "well, you can make money off of open source software". But as the MS people know, you can make money off of closed-source as well. I mean, Linus will never have to look for work, but hey, neither will Bill Gates.

    In my opinion, the most interesting part of the talk came at the end, when ESR conjectured that we are approaching the limits of being able to make money from software as a product, and that in the future, all software will be free (as in, will cost nothing), whether open (like Linux) or not (like IE5). He then gave a plausible argument that as long as the software is free, it is better to have it open-sourced.

    All I can say is that it should be interesting to see what lies in the years ahead!

    I'll end with two disclaimers: 1) I work for Microsoft, but my opinions are not necessarily those of my employer, and 2) I've had a linux system at home for 2 ½ years, so I am pretty familiar with it.

  • nobody reads posts this deep in the threads anyway...

    I do, because Nested is the One True Way :-)



  • How much time does that take? You copy, paste the very detailed explanation of the BSoD, e-mail to MS and they send you new code within the day. It's really very simple....

    You're joking, right?
  • Here's what I usually do: Make an HTML file with a single link pointing at the file. Right-click on it, and pick Save As... That's how I save "unsaveable" QuickTime movies.


  • The quote you put in italics said better code. I was saying that opening source code review would at WORST give EQUAL results to closed source from a _TECHNICAL_ standpoint.

    You just argued that it could be a bad idea from a business standpoint, which I conceeded could be argued either way.

    So I think we agree.
  • Right!

    Bill asked me to do this. He came by my cube one night at 4:30am, and said ", why not write a version of Office 2000 for Linux for me - by say, tomorrow afternoon?"
    and I said,
    and he said, "oh, I don't know", and left. Just like that.

    It would be hard, because as far as I know, there's no DCOM for Visual Basic that runs on Linux.
  • Thereby proving the assertions that Linux has not a single original concept in it.

    So? There's something to be said for implementing someone else's ideas well.

    As for solid foundation, this isn't a house, you can redo a foundation.

    It's a lot harder to rewrite basic code that underlies everything else than to change superficial things, though.

    Linux is an incremental add of SMP onto an incremental add of modularity onto a monolithic kernel based on designs out of an ancient
    book for an obsolete teaching OS.

    As opposed to the NT "micro"kernel where the GUI runs in kernel mode and device drivers can pop up GUI message boxes or call into pretty much any user space code. Where you can't upgrade your system libraries without rebooting. Where you _have_ to upgrade your system libraries (and
    therefore reboot) to install nearly any
    interesting new piece of software.

    Gee, that sounds like a _much_ better design.

    A lot of these design issues can't even be fixed without severely breaking backward compatibility, either, and back compatibility is the number one reason the windows franchise goes on.

  • Open-source NT ... cleaning up the spaggetti code ... reusing good ideas buried within the NT code (Not all ideas by MS coders are necessarily bad) ... visibility for the unofficial API's that the MS Office and VisualStudio people put in ... finding the racy anti-mac jokes buried as source code comments ... open specs allowing other systems to be more compatible (and thus making OS selection even more moot) ...
    I care about free(speech) software a whole lot more than I care about any particular OS.
  • To me the most interesting sentence had to be:

    It was kind of amusing, really, fielding brickbats from testosterone-pumped twentysomethings for whom money and Microsoft's survival are so central that they have trouble grokking that anyone can truly think outside that box.

    This is definitely the defining difference between those that believe in Open Source and those don't. Its about teaching and creating. More about personal, mental and communal gain than about monitary gain. Its ashame that all to often Linux proponents get into a pissing contest over who is better. Its not about telling someone you're better its about showing it.
  • Just for the record, the release of the DOOM source code did bring a lot of benefits to fans of that game. These included:

    • Bug fixes and game engine refinements which allowed the design of larger maps with fewer limitations (Boom, lxdoom, etc.)
    • A high-resolution rendering engine vastly superior to the one iD shipped with WinDoom (zDoom, gldoom, etc.)
    • The ability to look up/down (zDoom, others)
    • Network play via TCP/IP (zDoom)
    • Graphical enhancements such as translucent sprites
    • Improved ports of DOOM for other OSs (i.e. lxdoom for Linux is a great improvement over the original Linux Doom)

    So I think Eric had a good example, even if he didn't give enough detail...

  • Lets do the math.

    365 days * 24 hours = 8760 hrs

    8760 * .003 = 26.28 hrs

    If you need more than 26.28 hours (in a year for one machine) to fix problems with BSODs then you don't deserve the bonus.

  • Man, it's gotten so that people can't recognize facetious comments without a smiley.

    Lighten up guys!
  • No. The point does NOT still stand. To compare business models, you need to compare two companies with the same market share and product lines. Otherwise, you're comparing apples to brazil-nuts my friend.
  • Of course, you can boot and run NT and an application on a 640K machine too, right?

    Low RAM is ideal for a controller environment. Any idea how much WinCE or the new real-time NT takes?

  • You know NT is on 10 times as many machines as linux, it is modern and is full of bugs waiting to be fixed.

    Careful, there! There are thousands of programs out there that rely on those bugs!

    This is why MS would never have to worry about a code fork if they released sources. Any fork would have to be bug-for-bug compatible with their version if it expected to support all the programs that are out there.

  • When was the last time you heard of someone paying for a Unix C/C++ compiler? We can thank Cygnus and GCC for that.

    Umm, have you eer used commercial Unix? They all have commercial compilers, and genrally they're not cheap. At the company I worked for previously, we developed a GIS product for Solaris, SunOS, IRIX, DEC/OSF, AIX, and HP/UX. Some of the companies gave us basic compiler tools because they wanted our product on their platform (such as HP), but we had to buy the compilers from the rest of them. Companies like SGI charge $2k+ for their graphical debugger (and the license was Node-Locked). I was still using dbx on there for fixing bugs because I couldn't get the company to foot a $10k bill to give the SGI developers a graphical debugger.

  • My point is that even though it might take a majority of users to influence a giant like MS to move, there no number of mere users that can influence a free software effort like Linux.

    With most open-source projects, the users are also developers: Whether they are actually coding, or writing documentation, or giving feedback/bug reports, this "users as developers" paradigm is what has kept Linux feature-rich. If you want a feature, you don't have to "influence a giant company," you just write it yourself. And if you can't write it yourself, find a package that does almost what you want, and suggest the feature to that package's author and offer to test it. I guess in a way non-tech users are at the implementer's mercy, but even today with Redhat getting popular, I'd say most users are capable of contributing to the software they use.
  • I realize you are probably a troll, but...

    Linux, GPL and the whole open source movement has to be the first refreshing thing I have come across since I first got involved with computers. I started with a lowly TRS-80 CoCo 2 with 16K of RAM and a tape drive, all hooked up to my TV. The first thing I did was crack open the book and start to code in BASIC. I had fun. Many of my friends had Apples, or VIC-20s, or even C=64s - but we would swap code, and try to get everything to work - learning a lot in the process. This was over 10 years ago...

    Things have changed a lot - M$ seems to dominate all kinds of areas - and are moving quick to dominate others. It seems bleak, and unispiring - everyone using M$ products for everything. Doing development on Windows requires a small fortune, so the kid that wants to code is left out - he has to beg his parents (or parent, these days) to spend $99.00 for the LE of VB or something - then he can't even compile anything. So maybe he plays around with QBASIC - or, if he is lucky - he notices gcc (djgpp) on the net...

    The whole movement is about teaching - giving, not taking away. M$ represents greed - and people are seeing it. I see it, and I am doing everything to break away - one day I will be successful (my job is holding me back right now - but I am trying to change that). I want the good feelings I had when I was a kid - the trading of source, trying to get it to run properly - learning.

    Linux, GPL and the OS movement is about that - don't you forget it...

    And before it is to late - I recommend that you look for another job, while you still can...
  • I wonder if anyone will actually produce an MPEG/Real version of this? Should be quite an interesting view...
  • I found it interesting that the 2000 development group was defensive about its product. This would be the case in any company when the department's work is challenged. I bet they felt quite intimidated and ESR had a rude awakening by having some comments that were especially critical. It was funny that they were reported to sling mud trying to defend (Oracle.) Very revealing and not very professional. I bet the 2000 team will be watched closer by their collegues due to the funny stuff.
  • "I would think think the goal would be to not see *any* of those lovely (and beloved) blue screens."

    They don't see BSODs because M$ changed the color.
    Now it's the BRYCFSOD. (Blood-Red-You're-Completely-Fucked Screen Of Death)
  • The point must be conceded. The best business model from a profit standpoint is definately a monopoly. But that is illegal, and with good reason.

  • It really amuses me that the people working for Microsoft are so closed to the outside world. It seems like they think MS is the best thing to hit the computing world.

    What I found interesting tho, was the fact that "The flamers were a minority, and they occasionally got stepped on by other audience members."

    Sounds like there is a definite attitude of respect at the Microsoft campus.
  • It sounds pretty much like what I would have expected. MS certainly isn't going to change their ways, there are some fiesty msofties (as there are at every company), most people didn't really get it at the time. There also appears to be some idiots at MS who will never "get it," big surprise, they are just like every other company.

    I give MS credit for doing it, it shows that they are worried and they are trying to fight it. This isn't a really new thing though, just a radical departure from 18 months ago but they've already acknowledged that GNU/Linux and OSS is a threat. They appear to be trying to figure it out, which is good, they want to defeat the beast by understanding the beast. Who knows how many will convert in that process. There are already microsoft people and there are definitely characteristics that make you fight in there better. You can't be too entrepreneurial or else you'd start your own company, you have to be motivated largely by money, over all quality of life doesn't seem to be a big issue (it's just a money thing to most of them,) you have to be smart and you have to think you're among the best (even if you aren't) {end of huge generalization mode} There are definitely people at MS (I worked with a bunch when I worked there) who will never understand OSS, they just can't. There is also a large group of people who are intelligent to understand it but could never relate to it, they will probably think of OSS hackers as the country bumpkins (or some other kind of eccentrics) of the software industry and whether or not they can come up with a plan to defeat them will be interesting to see. Then there will also be a group which will probably remain small and they will get it and understand it and most likely end up embracing it, I could eventually see that becoming a factor in termination.

    You have to realize that in the 70's there was a whole community of computer hounds and it was a lot like the OSS ocmmunity is today. Bill Gates was an outcast from that and he was against it, he was big on the whole issue of selling software, it was always about money to him. That's the core culture of the company, as long as they take their ques from billg they will be purely a money oriented company. That's what companies are by nature but I think the playing field is changing in ways that they aren't prepared for, the real money always has been in service (IBM makes as much on software as MS does and IBM sells far fewer copies, it's the service and the loyalties associated with it) You throw ideology and fun into the mix and it only makes more sense.

    I imagine those working on the win2000 team may be starting to feel the pressure. It's not quite a make or break product but it's the first time in quite a while where MS has lost media support and there is another product standing not in their path but in their way. I can understand a few of them lashing out, I just hope that they are ready to deliver for their sake because it's only going to get worse if win2000 isN'T there.

  • by Zarchon ( 12168 ) on Wednesday June 23, 1999 @10:50AM (#1836270)
    At last, hard evidence supporting the hypothesis that all those moronic Anonymous Cowards are actually in the pay of Microsoft!
  • Oops. Better restate that before I get flamed... what I meant to say was that abuse of a monopoly is illegal. Having a monopoly is not. The abuse of a monopoly is the more profitable business model.

    That's what I get for posting right after I wake up... :)

  • I totally agree: OSS is a powerful corrective force to an inefficient software market. I am
    tired of reading about "software communism" and wish that this kind of market-forces argument was advanced more often.

    To see the economic problem, you only have to compare the market for computer hardware (rapid commoditization, plunging prices, profits only possible at the cutting edge of innovation) with software (lock-in to proprietary standards, stable prices, cash-cow applications like MS Office which can be milked for years without any serious innovation). OSS will push the software market in the same direction as the hardware market, and the consumer will ultimately benefit. There may be other solutions to the imbalance (e.g component software) and I hope that as the software market matures we shall see them.
  • Microsoft, by virtue of an entrenched monopoly, should not really be used as an example in an argument
    since I believe some of the numbers it generates (eg revenue/employee) are completely outside those
    of *any* other business, regardless of strategy.

    So yes, if you happen to have a monopoly (which oracle doesn't) your opportunity to profit is
    magnified...which is a usable strategy for exactly one company.

    On the other hand IBM seems to be expecting to turn over a small amount of cash providing primarily
  • I wish the interview were more specific. It barely scratched the surface of what implications the ordeal could have. For instance, I am wondering what the W2K kids were saying and being offended by and what Eric said to them.

    One thing I thought was amusing was that Eric compared ignorant Microsoft workers to Anonymous Cowards on Slashdot.
  • oops.

    sorry. :-(

  • Why would they feel "quite intimidated"? Maybe annoyed or amused...

    It was probably more enlightening to ESR than anybody else. He's so used to preaching to the choir...
  • The listener's (I don't know his name) comment was that Oracle (which doesn't give away their software,
    The listener's (I don't know his name) comment was that Oracle (which doesn't give away their software,I wouldn't call them a "semi-open-source" company) makes some large percentage of their revenue from support. He then went on to point out that their revenue per employee was far less than Microsoft's. In other words, his point was that the business model Eric was proposing isn't as profitable a business model.

    Perhaps a more fair comparison would be to compare the revenues/employee from companies that have similar product lines and market positions, but different support vs. product sales revenue breakdowns?

    Oracle doesn't have cash cow desktop OS or productivity suite monopolies, you know.
  • Ignorant Microsoft workers? Don't you mean critical Microsoft workers? Oh that's right, anybody who doesn't think the same way you do....
  • if they are starting to grasp the Open Source Model, how long until we see MS-Linux? They could convince the DoJ that there is competition between OSes and expand the base for their applications, plus people would be willing to pay for MS-Linux support. Anyone think it will happen?
  • Actually, I was just at a Microsoft Office 2000 info-session (Hey, it was free.) An interesting tidbit at the end, when one of MS's marketroids got up to talk about BackOffice 4.5.."Some hardware vendors are now certifying their NT4 boxes to have 99.9% reliability. That's less than 9 hours / year."

    9 HOURS PER YEAR! Now, if you assume that a reboot takes about a minute, and you have your NT box rebooted every 17 hours, that's about right....

  • A simple statement by ESR is hard evidence?
  • Hmm...

    VMWare runs either on an NT host or Linux Host.
    Linux, NT, et al can be run as guest OSs from the host. Granted, you need (or are supposed to have...) a windows license for each Windows guest OS you run...

    So in a sense, yes, NT could be *seen* as a core reuqirement, but it isn't.

  • For the record I use xv many times a day.
    It's great, it can convert nearly any
    image format to any other image format
    and I even bought the scanner enabled vesion.
  • I saw him speak at the Atlantic Linux Show case and he is a very persuasive speaker. He knows what he is talking about and it shows. He might or might not spend alot of time preparing his speech. He spoke on the history of GNU and such, and it was very intresting and informative. He provids very good examples for what he is talking about.
  • Or imagine Microsoft embracing and extending an open source product... See my views on this at Microsoft and the Art of War v1.00 [].

    I tried submitting this to slashdot, but no joy so far, anyone want to slashdot /. with some submissions?

  • 365 days * 24 hours = 8760 hrs 8760 * .003 = 26.28 hrs should be: 8760 * .00003 = .2628 hours 16 minutes a year is pretty good.
  • 365 days * 24 hours = 8760 hrs

    8760 * .003 = 26.28 hrs

    should be:

    8760 * .00003 = .2628 hours

    16 minutes a year is pretty good.
  • -IMHO, ESR's talk was not extremely convincing - I think there's a lot more money to be made by keeping "private source."

    A proprietary software house will usually make much more money than a similar open source software house--unless the houses are in competition. The existence of good open source software drastically reduces the money you can make with proprietary software.

    If there is a good open source offering in a market, the proprietary competition can't survive like before. It can survive only if there is some vast technical or other superiority between itself and the open source product. Word survives because of MS's compatibility games; commercial Sendmail survives because it ships with features that freeware Sendmail will never have (funny that, they're both made by the same people...). Other than that, good open source will squash the competition. When was the last time you heard of someone paying for a Unix C/C++ compiler? We can thank Cygnus and GCC for that.

  • rofl true.. but as you can see the shit didn't reply.. ;)
  • The 23x6 figure comes from a pro-Microsoft article by Bob Metcalfe [] talking about how Windows 2000 is going to "bury" Linux. (This link seems to be slow today...)

    Read Slashdot comments here. []

    Any other smart-assed comments you want to make? Maybe you should check your sources before posting.

  • You're joking, right?

    So much that I guess it wasn't funny....
  • by sphealey ( 2855 ) on Wednesday June 23, 1999 @03:01PM (#1836296)
    "This is where the code-for-profit model works so well. People know that MS is motivated by the customer's idea of what is best - the profit-model works well for assuring this. Users can "vote" for new features and improvements with their dollars."

    Maybe. Unless the market is moving too fast for the customers to control through their dollar votes. Or the customer's need conflicts with the vendor's strategic view. Or any reasonable size group of customers is too small to influence the vendor's actions.

    Case in point: customers have been asking, demanding, and begging Microsoft for five years to improve interoperability with Novell products. Customers have been "voting", too, by continuing to buy Novell products. Has Microsoft responded to it's customers' requests? No. In fact, some of us suspect that new dis-interoperability with Netware is included with each version/service pack for Windows. Is Microsoft likely to respond to their _customers'_ requests? Help me understand why not.

  • (Place tounge in cheek)

    Having a single OS is a great idea. I'd love all applications to run on the same platform.
    (serious note-)The problem is that this can only exist in a legitemate way if there are independent national and/or international standards governing the OS. The OS cannot have a propriatary API.(/serious note)

    Windows has a propriatary API: MFC/WFC/etc.
    MacOS has a propriatary API: Carbon (but, OS X will be (or could easily become) POSIX compliant).
    Linux has a standard API: POSIX

    Perhaps Windows should be POSIX compliant, THEN we can have one OS API: POSIX (plus the necessary recompile). Leave your MFC/WFC/COM/Whatever and call it "value added" (i.e. portability subtracted) and there you go, Windoze bassackward compatability.

    (P.S. Not even all Windows apps will run on all Windows machines out of the box: NT Alpha--NT i386, so HA!)

    (P.P.S. Lets see some embedded computers running real time processing run Windozzze.)

  • In a UNIX environment, the most you can expect to trash would be that particular user's home directory...

  • You are absolutely correct about the right to one's opinion. Arguinng about them can lead to some profound wastes of time.

    I would suggest that Linux is still growing, despite Mr. Thompson's obversation, which frankly sounded like sour grapes to me. Many have called Linux retro. They are partially correct. However, the implication that Windows is the future requires more scrutiny.

    If the only factors that place that Redmond OS above Linux are market size and deep pockets, that doesn't capture all of the reasons software succeeds or fails. Those are excellent reasons for *companies* to prosper or not.

    I find a can really do more *work* in linux than in win*. Considering that I spent the morning fighting with NT, Exchange and ArcServe simply to get backups working is truly depressing. In fact, I'm waiting for CA to call me back (maybe the techies will read this :).

    If you can get NT to do what you want, easily and reliably, you have made the correct OS choice. The idea that Linux, with an installed user base that rivals the Macintosh, is a "wannbe" OS is laughable. The idea that NT will be the OS of the future is not set in stone, but it will certainly be around.

    Freedom from choice is what you want.
    Freedom of choice is what you got.

  • I'm seeing nothing but "w2k is so awesome!" shit all over the place, totally off topic pro micros~1 garbage not being moderated down, all sorts of anti micros~1 posts (well reasoned or no) being moderated as "trolls" or "flamebait".

    Slashdot is dead. Thanks, Micros~1.
  • Well then, grab a copy of the Linux source code and fix it! Add all those original concepts which are ricocheting around your brain! I'm sure Linus and Alan will thank you for it.

    It's easy to say Linux has a "monolithic kernel based on designs out of an ancient book for an obsolete teaching OS"...what's hard is putting your code where your mouth is. If you have a better idea, post it to the kernel development mailing list and get the ball rolling.

    But, if you've never looked at the Linux kernel source code / never followed the kernel dev list, don't be dissing it. A lot of very smart ppl have put a lot of time and considerable thought into it. If you have and you still think it's brain-dead, then roll up your sleeves, suck back the coffee and fix it! Then you won't think it sucks, and you'll have the added benefit of being able to say, "Hey! I fixed that!" to anyone who will listen. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

    If you think Linux (or some part of it) sucks, at least you have the oppertunity to fix it so it doesn't. That's the freedom of Open Source.

    Speaking as an application developer, me and the Linux kernel get along fine. It stays out of my way and lets me get my work done. I've yet to scream any obscenities at it. (The same can't be said for NT and the illustrious Win32 API)

  • I suspect ESR was referring not so much to the fairly recent release of the full source code to Doom, but more to id software's reasonable licensing terms (restrictions on "commercial exploitation" but a lot of flexibility otherwise) and the partial "opening of the source" early on that led to the widespread availability of map/game editors and resulted in a mass of maps and mod hacks of all kinds.

    Actually, no, ESR was talking about opening a closed-source pieces of software, and when to do it. Doom was his example. He explained the reasons why it was a good idea for them to open the source when they did.

  • Unless you can offer some evidence that Windows 2000 "personal edition" will be Windows 9x-based, I say you're all wet.

    And "Windows 98 Second Edition" does equal whatever you FUDmeisters are calling Windows 99 or whatever. It sounds like you are getting your news from IRC rather than the trade press.
  • As a person that lived most of his life in the Soviet Union, I'd like to tell that OSS IS communism. When I read at this:

    "There's no need to make anyone rich; the median US family income, around $35k, proves to be enough incentive for many jobs that are less satisfying than programming"

    That's exactly what communism is. Everyone gets reasonable pay and equal share of goods and services.

    You, folks in US, tend to think that communism is a lack of democracy. Communism, actually, is a lack of money making - business and greed are considered evil. Lack of democracy is just a result of it - communists need to suppress democracy to prevent money making tendencies.

  • ...I'm spoiled by new hardware, but when I ran Office on my old system (pentium 100, 24 mb ram) "nicely" wasn't ever a word that entered my mind. Windows 98 wouldn't even run "nicely" by itself. It was usable, but rather sluggish. Way to continue advocating Microsoft on a generally *nix site and come off not looking like a troll, though. Takes some talent, and I'm sure you've fooled a lot of people. I look forward to reading more of your out of place posts.
  • I could really use a shit-driven laptop when I'm out in the field. Give me a shit-driven cel phone and I'll be one happy-ass mofo!

  • Oh, they finally changed the color?
  • That won't work. He would have to be old enuf to drive to get to your house in the first place :P
  • Gates personally did development work on the early versions of MS Basic for Pre-IBM personal computers (Commodore Pet, TRS-80, S-100 bus, etc.).

    But that was a very long time ago, when MS had only a few employees.

  • I mean, really -- is ESR being persuasive gonna induce Msofties to give up their stock options and start another company building "open source windows"? No. Even if you place the bar as low as getting Redmond to back off its FUD and embrace/destroy tactics, basically just to be a polite competitor interested in succeeding on its merits (which do exist :-S), well, there will still be hardcore people who will never be convinced. Especially when their livelihood is centered around the success of a different model!

    I didn't see the talk, but from the reports here it sounds as if he was asked to explain open source in as fair a spirit as would be expected anywhere, by Microsoft employees who are not personally involved in or beholden to the overall strategic plan. If they sought to prove that all Microsoftians don't think alike, they succeeded. For ESR's case, by accepting the invitation in the same spirit, he proved that not everyone on his side of the aisle was closed-minded, either. Another success.

    "Effective" doesn't have to mean shutting down everyone's objections, a la Spencer Tracy in Inherit the Wind.
  • If they had wanted Unix, they would have developed and kept Unix years ago.

    Actually they did with SCO help -- Xenix. It sucked as much as their other products, MS abandoned it, SCO tried to develop it further and finally dumped in favor of Unixware (that is a descendant of "original" SVR4.

  • Well, if you understood that as "Free software and non-sucky software are mutually exclusive", you certainly gave it a different reading than I.

    It sounds like just the opposite to me! i.e. "People would rather make free, non-sucky software precisely because non-sucky is more important to them than non-free", or put another way, people would rather make good software than get paid for making crap.

    As I noted elsewhere, this talk wasn't about "converting" all Microsoft drones by proving them wrong every time they breathe out. It was about opening the lines of communication, and by the accounts here, it was a success.
  • Mr. Hamilton, do you realize that you are illustrating his point exactly? The point being that humans are running and coding the software. Other factors will determine what is used to as great (or greater) a degree than what works best in an objective sense. Dogma and tantrums don't make converts of anybody you'ld actually want on your side.
  • Talk about a "brickbat"...
  • I'm so glad I don't fall into this category, since
    My linux workstation is a 64 bit Digital.

  • by Khan ( 19367 ) actually had enough brain matter left to use hyphens! Thanks for the great laugh, "retard". :)
  • ``Why is OS'ing MS's OS a BT? (Bad Thing=)''

    My understanding is that a lot of the Mozilla code looks fairly awful to someone who didn't grow up with it but that it's not as bad as NT's code is reputed to be. If that's really the case, since the Mozilla source code doesn't seem to be inspiring hordes of OSS programmers taking the source under their collective wings and making it into something incredible, what chance do we have of the OSS community doing something incredible with the plateful of NT spaghetti code?

    MS might release NT code as OSS and just might score some brownie points with the media, but I don't think it's going to do much more than that.

    I'd be happy to be proved wrong, though!

  • The only shareware I've ever seen on Linux was xv

    Please suggest an alternative to XV's visual schnauzer function. Electric Eyes isn't quite
  • why oh why does most win software force a reboot - it isn't needed! the registry can be updated on the fly

    The Registry can be updated on the fly? That's news to me... Sure, it could (and I think it should have that ability), but as far as I can tell, you can't make changes to the Registry on-the-fly; they require a reboot to take effect. I'm speaking from personal experience: I was trying to help someone change the Win95 keyboard layout to Dvorak whenever he logged in to one of the public computers in the computer lab here. I isolated the Registry entry for the keyboard layout, wrote a Registry patch to change it to US-Dvorak, and put a "regedit [patch].reg" line in his login script. It consistently refused to work: the keyboard would still be in QWERTY mode. One time I got frustrated and rebooted the machine after running my Registry patch, and what do you know? When the machine came up again it was now using the US-Dvorak keyboard layout!

    My theory is: Registry patches change the copy of the Registry on disk: the SYSTEM.DAT file. But Windows keeps another copy of the Registry in RAM, and you can't change that -- at least, not with REGEDIT patches. You can change it with the Control Panel, of course, but if you want to install Registry patches the way I did, all you can do is reboot so that the RAM copy gets reloaded from the on-disk copy.

    If anyone's experience contradicts mine (in other words, if you've been able to make on-the-fly changes to the Registry with REGEDIT), I'd love to hear from you.

  • Actually in almost everyone's opinion here. And yes, I work for a software company and know EXACTLY what it is and what software worth.

    Going off your homepage, I hope you don't speak for everyone. And IIRC, I'm pretty sure that some of the other regulars here disagree with your viewpoint too.

    So, pray tell, what software company do you work for? And what do you do there? It'd be interesting to know for comparison's sake.

  • by jetson123 ( 13128 ) on Wednesday June 23, 1999 @03:38PM (#1836330)
    Typical was one guy who observed that Oracle has a partial open-source strategy, then triumphantly announced that Microsoft's earnings per employee are several times Oracle's

    Well, that's an interesting data point. Since Microsoft's products clearly aren't seven times better or their employees seven times more productive than Oracle's, all that goes to show that the market is either not efficient or not in equillibrium, and that means that customers are paying inflated prices for Microsoft products.

    For customers of Microsoft, it makes no sense to keep paying those prices, and one way for them to equillibrate is for them to join together in a consortium and develop their own operating system software.

    Open source and Linux provide one mechanism by which that can be achieved, and it seems to be working well. It's a convenient, simple, mechanism for sharing development effort.

    Open source doesn't mean the end of commercial software or commercial software companies, it simply is one of several ways in which the market can equillibrate and become efficient and approach the true incremental cost of producing additional copies of software, which is near zero.

    For Microsoft, it means that Microsoft can't use Windows as a cash cow forever, unless they distort the market by using monopolistic practices.

  • by scrytch ( 9198 ) <> on Wednesday June 23, 1999 @04:15PM (#1836337)
    > Well then, grab a copy of the Linux source code and fix it!

    In logic class, there was a fallacy called "Missing the point". Well, this has nothing to do with logic, but my point was looking down over your head and saying "gee they look like ants down there".

    Did it penetrate through yonder cranium that my entire point was that sometimes you just gotta start over? Linus's rants against microkernels are particularly instructive here. Apparently he hasn't noticed the microkernel BeOS, which is even written in C++ (yet somehow small and fast).

    I noticed cracks in the structural walls in my apartment, but I guess I'm not qualified to point that out since I can't put up a new wall.

    Jesus, how about nonblocking I/O for one? Maybe a little structured exception handling too? A journalled filesystem with metadata support (oh but hey, in true vapor fashion, that'll be coming Real Soon Now).

    But I guess I'm not qualified to complain about those things because I can't write them myself.

    Linux: Do it your damn self and stop bothering us.

  • You should look at Windows 2000 before thinking too much more about MS-Unix. They've pretty much reinvented everything that Unix has got. (Except maybe the uptimes.)

    Also, don't forget that the OS is only part of MS's business. Microsoft BSD doesn't do them alot of good if Exchange or SQL Server doesn't run on it.
  • I suspect ESR was referring not so much to the fairly recent release of the full source code to Doom, but more to id software's reasonable licensing terms (restrictions on "commercial exploitation" but a lot of flexibility otherwise) and the partial "opening of the source" early on that led to the widespread availability of map/game editors and resulted in a mass of maps and mod hacks of all kinds. It seems to me that one of the reasons for Doom's amazing success and longevity was its "hackability" from the get-go. Sure, nobody was digging in and improving the base code, but the availability of all those maps and mods kept Doomers fragging for a long long time - and the public perception of id as something other than a faceless corporate cash factory (thanks in part to a certain level of responsiveness to users and less tendency to treat them like idiots) continues to serve them well.

    Wow, my first post not as an AC. I feel so special...
  • - Microsoft has announced it will _not_ be unifying Win95/98 and NT with Windows 2000, but rather there will be yet another consumer version based on the old 95/98 code (Windows 99?)

    It's called "Windows 98 Second Edition", and I think it's out.

    As for 9x/NT unification - it's going to happen, unless Windows 2000 bombs bigger than MS-DOS 4.0

    (And you're right, many games are going to break. Perhaps they will include a "DOS Mode" in Win2000 Home User Edition. What's more likely in the long term from Microsoft is is WinCE-based home producivity/game/internet devices that don't have the complexity of 'real' computers.)


  • You're flaming, but I'll take you seriously. The problem with your P100 is Windows 98, not Office. Run Windows 95 without the IE desktop on the same machine and it will be usable.

    Hell, when Windows 95/Office 95 came out, a P100 with 24MB was top of the line. Saying it don't work is a little silly.
  • Sorry about that characterization of all teen hackers as snot-nosed. I had just had a conversation about script-kiddies and some related problems out on a firewall, so the image had stuck in my mind.

    My parents generation never coded, but my friends all do, and most of them have kids. And those kids are doing everything they can to be different from their parents, including doing things like coding for micro~1.oft platforms because it drives their parents crazier than listening to Marlyn Manson music or wearing trenchcoats. I kid you not.

    As for job hunting, there was a discussion here a few days ago on geek jobs. The work world is tough, and just because you can code doesn't mean the world will beat a path to your door. You have to know a bunch of other stuff, having a degree, any degree, will help. Go re-read all that advice and see if it helps you get out of homedepot and into a good job. Good luck with it, I remember getting out into the world with my degree in hand and being rejected over and over because I was only 19, the recruiters couldn't understand I started college at age 15.
  • by gfish ( 1552 ) on Wednesday June 23, 1999 @10:59AM (#1836391) Homepage
    A friend of mine at the Borg was able to sneak me in. Luckily they weren't checking badges. :)

    It was interesting to watch the two cultures collide -- though not all of the Microsofties were hostile to ESR. Most just didn't seem to quite get it, though. Kept bringing up Mozilla as proof that Open Source doesn't work.

    Best exchange:
    Q: But why would someone work for free when they could be getting paid for the same work?
    A: Because they want to live in a world where software doesn't suck?

    It was very crowded at the presentationl; for some reason it wasn't in an auditorium of any sort, just a largish room. Standing room only, and there were several clots of people in halls watching the 'live' feed. (I don't know what they were using, but it was 15 seconds lagged, the audio wasn't synched with the video and it flashed every other frame.)

    In one of the offices across from the presentation I noticed several Linux Journal's and O'Rielly Linux manuals...

    Overall it was a good presentation. ESR spent most of the time giving a sociological explanation for why OSS works, or exists at all. Unfortanately he didn't have time to talk too much about what is currently happening. He got bogged down by arguments over his assumption that OSS creates better software instead.

    He did make a very good point that 95% of software development is for internal use only -- and an amussing moment when his survey of the audience did not reflect this. He should have emphasized to the money hungry ones that this implies OSS won't put them out of business. I also wish he has empahsized that fact that most profit from software is the support of it, not in the sale. He did mention Zope, but never explicitly made any conclusions.

    Hrm. I had been thinking of submiting a review to Slashdot. Well, here it is, I guess.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I think the summary isn't quite fair; there were a lot more supporters than I think he thought were going to be there (and thinks were there).

    Key statement for those who weren't there was:
    The flamers were a minority, and they occasionally got stepped on by other audience members.

    For the most part, the audience was attentive, laughed with him, and was there to hear ESR, not to argue with him. Yes, there were those who didn't know who he was (thought they just pulled a random guy off the street to talk about free software) and tried to turn it into the spanish inquisition (everyone expected the spanish inquisition!), but every time it got to that point either the rest of us and/or the organizers shut them down.

    also: don't pay attention to the fluff spin that Norm puts on it. it wasn't that bad.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 23, 1999 @11:04AM (#1836399)
    At last, hard evidence supporting the hypothesis that all those moronic Anonymous Cowards are actually in the pay of Microsoft!

    Heh .. come on now, you can't prove that. Your OUTLOOK on the situation is clouded by the fact that you are unwilling to act as a true INTERNET EXPLORER and try somebody else's stuff. Heh .. take my WORD for it and try some commercial software that will really make you EXCEL at everything that you do. CNN and other such prominent MEDIA PLAYERS consistently give good reviews to our software. It lets you ACCESS a whole new world of productivity .. yes, sirree ..

    Come on, get your credit card ready and call 1-800-MS-TRASH. Tell 'em BOB sent you.
  • No question about it. Closed source software is still a gold mine. But you have to do it a certain way - don't sell small modular programs, sell big expensive "suites" and market them heavily as the "total, integrated solution to all of your ______ needs."

    BUT, I wish somebody would explain to me how closed source development could POSSIBLY result in better code. All OSS means is that you make the source available to others so they can improve it. And you don't have to incorporate their improvements if you don't want to. At the very worst, it will give the same results as closed source.

    And in business, open source definately has a place where making money is concerned: whenever your main product is not the software in question (like if you are selling hardware which needs the software to run, or a program which needs the operating system to run) make the software in question free. People won't want your device drivers anyway if they don't have your hardware. And they won't want your operating system if there is a commoditized product that does the job better for less.

    If you are selling the same exact product that you have opened up, you are without a doubt taking a risk. Then, obviously your money is in service and support, but one could definately make an argument that closed source makes more money.

    Bottom line: open source makes much more business sense if you are actually making money on a different but related product. If you are selling the same thing you are opening up, one could argue either way.
  • The service level agreement is for no more than 15 minutes per year of unscheduled downtime for the mission critical services running on a mix of NT and solaris.

    There are 4 NT clusters designed and installed by micro~1.oft engineers for maximum reliability, they run a service critical to a bunch of components on a large network. But the NT clusters BSoD at least once per month, and there is nothing the micro~1.oft engineers can do to force automatic reboots or have stateful failover. So each time there is a BSoD, the customer support lines start to light up. That gets noticed by the bean counters who have not approved the next phase of the project until micro~1.oft gets their act together, but it is only a few $10 millions. The attitude of the M$ sales people is astounding, they just don't seem to care about $30 million.

    The solaris machines have uptimes of 47 or 49 weeks, with the next scheduled downtime for august of 2000. Never one service outage in almost one year. I expect one of the sparc stations to have a hardware problem before the end of the two years.

    There is almost a complete second set of the critical equipment in a stockroom next door, so that any hardware failure can be recovered in 15 minutes or less.

    Thats what I get paid lots for! And if I could get a nice stable open source NT box, I would be happy, and *nix bigotries would be forgotten.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I still haven't figured out why more of the Open Source Figures like ESR don't put the economic incentive for open source into their arguments.

    China will never pay MS for the 95% share of the pirated software they use over there. They (1) don't have the money, and (2) won't be paying the US billions of dollars for social and political reasons.

    That's why Mexican schools are adopting Linux. The World simply can't afford MS and most other closed source, expensive, proprietary software.

    ESR spends his time in the clouds when the truth down here on earth is as material as Marx (and no, OSS isn't communism) always said.
  • > Actually since Linux is starting from a solid foundation, it could adopt all the best parts of an open source windows

    Thereby proving the assertions that Linux has not a single original concept in it.

    As for solid foundation, this isn't a house, you can redo a foundation. Linux is an incremental add of SMP onto an incremental add of modularity onto a monolithic kernel based on designs out of an ancient book for an obsolete teaching OS. It's just amazing that it works, but it sure isn't revolutionary.
  • by remande ( 31154 ) <> on Wednesday June 23, 1999 @11:08AM (#1836430) Homepage
    Ignorant is correct. The people he was talking about brought Oracle up as an example of a semi-open-source company, and noted that Microsoft earns more per employee than Oracle. This produced enough evidence for the employee to conclude that closed-source development is technically superior to open-source development.

    The ignorance comes from the fact that, by jumping to that conclusion, the employee implied that Microsoft's income is directly related to the technical merits of their products. This is false, even by Microsoft's own lights. Microsoft keeps their income up via superior marketing. Note that by all reports, Bill Gates concentrates more on the marketing of his products than the development of them. This shows the relative importance of both efforts, more so since Gates was once a software developer.

    The employee was critical, but based that criticality on false assumptions. Thus, the employee was acting out of ignorance.

  • *shudder*

    So micro~1.oft releases all of the NT source code under the M$GPL, giving everyone a chance to play Linus.

    Imagine you are a snot-nosed teenage programmer. You know you are good, very good, and you have already done some clever hackish things. Now you have decided to make a name for yourself, and you have a choice, hack linux or hack nt.

    You know linux is a good tight small system, but *nix has been around for 30 years. It reeks of something your parents spent their time coding, and they talk about how great the 70's were, and they still listen to disco music.

    You know NT is on 10 times as many machines as linux, it is modern and is full of bugs waiting to be fixed.

    So you decide to tackle some existing problem in NT.

    You grab something; disk drivers, cpu scheduling, networking code, it doesn't matter. You have before you a steaming pile of the worst spaghetti code ever inflicted on a programmer. You dive in, undaunted by the repulsive use of gotos in the middle of object libraries, and start hacking away. You set up a web site to chronicle your progress, with mailing lists and an FTP site.

    Since you are good, and everything you do is an improvement, you soon have people flocking to your site, and hundreds of testers using your code or adding their own improvements. You make it modular, streamlined, commented clearly, and it is good.

    Micro~1.oft takes your code and puts it back into their codebase, and it makes release NT2000-M2.

    Now you have the job offers streaming in, and the big bad company in redmond is offering you stock options to join.

    And within two years, NT is as stable as linux, thanks to 50,000 new programmers throwing their time and skill into the code. So consumers have a choice, micro~1.oft or RedHat or Slackware NT, each comes with a different GUI or several.

    And Bill Gates is no longer worth $90Billion, just $20Billion, and still has 75% of the market.

    the AC
  • Actually, I interpreted that as meaning that the knee-jerk NT zealots he encountered at MS are similar to the AC's here that are knee-jerk Linux zealots.

    That certainly tallies with my experience of people generally -- people close their minds to different extents (we all close our minds somewhat, or are you open to the idea that apples might fall up if you let go of them?), and some people become very closed-minded indeed. For any position X there are going to be a certain proportion of people who are die-hard X bigots and are completely unable to wrap their mind around !X -- and X bigots respond to arguments in favor of !X in ways that don't differ much as X varies (e.g. !X SUX! X R00LZ!!!1!1!).
  • by Francis ( 5885 ) on Wednesday June 23, 1999 @11:16AM (#1836434) Homepage
    Alright, I'll hope I won't reveal anything my NDA covers... :)

    This is the first time I've ever watched one of ESR's talks. Pretty interesting, he's pretty quick on his feet, so to speak.

    I don't really have anything to say, but someone out there might want to know my impressions.

    Some observations:
    -He's right, there were some "conflicting views". It was kinda funny watching the 2 sides assert their OS was better. I love Linux as much as the next guy, and I think that both OSs have their relative merits.
    -ESR's talk gave you a little something to think about, but a lot of his arguments weren't backed up. I think that if they were, it would've lent more weight to his ideas. (Maybe there wasn't enough time to present them, or maybe there simply weren't good examples behind some of his points)
    eg. One of his examples was DOOM. Mentioned how they benifited from open-source. Did not say what exactly was the benifit. (To my knowledge, the only thing that came out of releasing DOOM was glDOOM, which, if kinda neat, is not all that fabulous)
    -Microsofties are also pretty quick on their feet, and I think that ESR probably lost a few more arguments than he's used to.
    -IMHO, ESR's talk was not extremely convincing - I think there's a lot more money to be made by keeping "private source."
    -I don't think he was convincing enough to change anybody's mind. Although I haven't talked to anyone else who also saw the talk.

    Ah, before I get massively flamed here, I'd just like to say that I happen to probably like open-source more than most people. (even helped a couple GPL projects) And I find it kinda disgusting that people are releasing unproffesional, unpolished nagware programs, with no real customer support, for a fee. (for instance, a lot of small win32 apps/toys, winCE, Palmpilot programs)
    Bottom line, corporations are formed on the premises of making money.

    #include "disclaimer.h"
    Views are my own, not my employers, yadayadayada...
    Incidentally, before someone thinks I'm someone from "high and above", I'm just a MS intern. I don't really know anything about how things are run around here. Just my summer job to keep my busy :)

  • You would ditch those friends because they work for Microsoft? Go right ahead. They're better off without you.
  • Actually, a *nix bigot
    and before that, a VMS bigot
    and before that, an assembly language bigot

    If NT (a spoiled step-child of VMS) were to get improved, I would be very happy. I have to work with it on a regular basis, and the BSoD keeps me from getting performance bonuses for 99.997% availability someone wrote into a contract I have to support. I get the bonuses for every solaris box installed, tho.

    The AC
  • Why shudder?

    I don't care if Bill Gates makes one trillion dollars. Let him! I simply mind that he is doing it by polluting us with broken software.

    If Windows works well, and you can fix what doesn't work, and add the stuff you need to it, I would count myself lucky and proudly run NT on my system.

    My current problem is not that I run NT, but that NT is incapable of working the way I want it to, forces me to go down paths that I don't want to go, and is gratuitously incompatible with the rest of the world. An open source NT would not have these problems.

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus