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Silicon Graphics

Dave McAllister (SGI) on Linux and Chilli 122

Mintslice writes "Dave McAllister, SGI's Directory of Technical Strategy has been touring Australia recently. The Age is running this story about comments he made at at local LUG (LUV). It runs over SGI's intentions for Linux, what they're doing to help development, what this means for marketing at SGI, and a treasure trove of bits and pieces including Chilli Recipes. Something for everyone. "
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Dave McAllister (SGI) on Linux and Chilli

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  • It's always good to see companies such as SGI helping support the Linux community. Wonder if they'd visit any LUGs along the east coast?

    "And what the people but a herd confus'd,
    A miscellaneous rabble, who extol

  • by evguenii ( 97910 )
    SGI will devolve elements of its proprietary software and operating system Irix, such as its XFS journalling file system,to Linux as soon as it clears the legal roadblocks surrounding the intellectual property. It will also add raw, asynchronous and parallel database I/O by the middle of next year.

    Any news about SGI's XFS for Linux?
    It would be good to get sources (or they already available?)

  • Interesting take on seeing Linux as being parasitic on the Microsoft-engendered near monopoly of ix86 architectures. It's very easy to survive when you can run on nearly every machine anyone purchases. Still, what will take Linux to the next level won't necessarily be the Intel factor, but the fact that Linux scales to next generation server and user usage niches. I think the future of Linux is more in the watchamacallit digital TV-VCR thing, and in the Cobalt-type machines, rather than on the traditional server and desktop.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    How can anyone believe SGI has good intentions for Linux after what they have been doing to customers? To put it most simply they are price gougers. Before this gets called flamebait or whatever let me explain...

    SGI forces it's customers to buy *$1200* software to run gcc on Irix. I'm not shitting you about this. You can see people having this problem all over USENET and when asked for the product people are given the cold shoulder by SGI. Now what kind of business would still be running Irix 5.3 or lower? None that I can think of so that basically means that only hobbyists are still using the old Indigos and 4D series machines. $1200 to make gcc work is simply ridiculous. It should work with Irix without any additional packages but yet SGI chooses to GOUGE THE CONSUMER. I have asked them to put the needed files for 5.3 (since they also run a freeware site for 5.3) on thier freeware page, but they just blow me off.

    Due to their tendency to price gouge and generally just piss people off I refuse to believe that they have only good intentions for Linux. I hope you understand where I'm coming from on this. Price gouging is wrong.
  • To quote the article: "McAllister estimates about 20 million machines are running Linux ("seats"). He expects this to rise, so that within three years there will be as many Linux PCs as those with Windows. If this is true, what should be worrying Microsoft - which is still wrestling with a US judge's finding that it is a monopoly - is McAllister's prediction that Linux will grow into a fully fledged desktop competitor, with a host of applications." That sounds to me like predicting a Windows-Linux desktop war in the not-to-distant future in a galaxy not-to-far away... I'd be interested to know how many desktop users there are of Linux (any flavour). And how many actually use Linux as their primary desktop machine. Off the topic totally - what experiences have you Slashdotters had with office suites such as ApplixOffice, Star Office, etc?? -Spud. [The Matrix - powered by Linux]
  • That's C-H-I-L-I, dude. One 'L'. Thanks.

    Zontar The Mindless,

  • by Imperator ( 17614 ) <slashdot2.omershenker@net> on Wednesday November 24, 1999 @04:19PM (#1505908)
    As many Linux systems as Win32 systems in three years? Yeah, and in just six years as many people will be living on the moon as will be living if Asia.

    I agree that Linux is becoming a desktop competitor, but I don't see it replacing Windows for the point-and-drool folks anytime soon. (Perhaps this will change with time.) However, I do see it becoming more popular among advanced (intelligent but non-technical) users. Still, that figure maked me question the objectivity of McAllister (or the accuracy of the article).

  • I wonder what he means when he says the open source community is not innovative. It's certainly true that Linux developed out of Linus imitating (? or learning from history?) UNIX and all that, but surely Linux has come a long way from there? I'm not that well-versed with the kernel myself, so I can't really say with much assurance in what way Linux has "innovated".

    But how about ESR's argument that open source is driven by "tickling the developer's itch"? From that standpoint, doesn't open source drive itself to be innovative, eg. when someone says, "hey, such and such a feature would be a neat thing to have!", goes and implement it, and develops a "bazaar" (to use ESR's terminology) and ultimately resulting in a high quality product that surely has innovated? What qualifies as an "innovation" anyway? Surely ESR's fetchmail is an innovative product of open source development? There certainly hasn't been anything quite like it before, although it does take its ideas from several places. After all, every innovation must start from something; something "totally creative" that you dream up without getting any ideas from anywhere else is probably not that great anyway.

    I would argue that Open Source does encourage innovation. Yes, a lot of open source software in existence today are written for the sake of having a free alternative to a commercial solution, but that doesn't mean that all open source software is essentially copying existing ideas without innovation. I'd surely like to know what he meant when he said that open source people are not innovative.

  • Any Aussie Slashdot readers should be aware there's a huge linux Installfest happeneing this Saturday at Melbounre University - why not come along, enjoy the free BBQ, play some Quake3, do some installs, check out the cool hardware, and pick up a copy of your favourite distro?

    www.luv.sn.or for details, registration, and volunteering.
  • i'm sure you were kidding, but just on the off chance that you weren't, his chili recipe is here:

    http://www.natures-fx.org/chili.htm [natures-fx.org]

    i'd hate to see you go hungry on Thanksgiving! :)

    - j

  • I think what he meant by innovative has creating something new, never been done before and totally cool. He is right in that so far, the OSS community hasn't been innovative in that sense. So far, it looks like most of the developer's itches have been along the lines of, "I need a program that does this..."

    I don't think he meant it as an insult, but for a very long period (and it's still continuing), Linux has been adding features that other OSes have, or are fairly fundamental. The code itself was probably well done and innovative, but it's not like the Linux community has created many fundamental concepts (OOP, Relational Database Design, the notion of GUIs, ...) of computer science.


  • Ever since I replaced my HD, Linux has been the only thing running on my machine. I've not touched Windows for more than a year now (and have no regrets about it), except on friends' machines, mostly to get them connected to our LAN. :-) However, I don't use ApplixOffice/Star Office... I use LaTeX for any serious word-processing, and a text editor for not-so-serious word-processing. However, I do experience the hassle of not being able to view Word documents people send me, and people not being able to grok LaTeX documents I send them. I suppose Star Office would solve this problem, but it hasn't caused me too much grief yet and I'm quite happy with LaTeX.

    Of course, I'm probably not the normal PC user... so I don't know how relevant all of this rant is. :-)

  • "The best friend Linux ever had was Microsoft," McAllister said. "Microsoft forces people to build to a standard. Microsoft isn't going to slit its throat by changing its hardware standard overnight."

    Mmm, I've heard that one of MicroSoft's founding principles is standards. That's why hardware support in Linux and BSD is 100%.

  • Of course, there are things lacking. For instance, Netscape appears to have to only highly-visible IMAP client around at the moment - and it ain't wonderful. Word Perfect's Word 97 file conversion isn't perfect, either. And ApplixWare and Star Office, while nice, need to go a bit closer to Word and then diverge. Some of the basic functionality is um wierd in those two. OTOH, programs like The Gimp are great, if unique (I'm used to Paint Shop Pro :-).

    But not to get you down, have a look over at Linux World [linuxworld.com] where Nick Petreley has a good, if quick review of Corel Linux.

    Wade.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    look... the Linux people are reimplementing the SVR4 kernel as it was state of the art in 1988.

    If you follow lkml, you will know how everybody who is suggesting something really new, aggressively flamed. See the devfs example. Or occassionally people suggest new QoS mechanisms (on the app level, not in the network!) and all they get is "why do you want this? you are an idiot".

    the linux kernel people know exactly what they are doing and they are doing a great job. But this is job is reimplementing the SVR4 kernel, not something new. (BeOS for example is more innovative, too long to explain here)

    The GNOME and KDE people are reimplementing the Microsoft Windows GUI - state of the art in 1995. you know how long 5 years are in computing?


    But the good thing about the Linux/free software/open source model is that OTHERS can join in, like universites or companies, bring their innovations in, maybe they are accepted by the mainstream Linux people (well, I guess after 10 years :-)... It's really good what's happening. Many universities now do reference implementations of their research work - on Linux of course... MOSIX, QLinux, RTLinux and so on. Even if they are not really targeted for the mainstream kernel, they are there and available for the community.



  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 24, 1999 @05:08PM (#1505922)
    Have you seen this page? http://oss.sgi.com/projects/xfs/ Haven't really looked at it but it looks like it's got plenty of info
  • by codec ( 45773 ) on Wednesday November 24, 1999 @05:30PM (#1505926) Homepage
    "The open-source community is a good imitator but not a good innovator."
    Correction, the Linux community is a good imitator.
    Open-source (Apache et al) doesn't IMHO fit into that category.
    Linux is open-source but open-source is more than just Linux!
  • by Morgaine ( 4316 ) on Wednesday November 24, 1999 @05:31PM (#1505927)
    The statement that the open-source community is not a good innovator is, like most complex issues, both true and untrue.

    On the one hand, only the most blind of observers would suggest that novel products are not emerging from that quarter. The sheer volume of announcements on Freshmeat is just flabbergasting, and scattered like jewels in among the 95% of fairly ordinary stuff are some really excellent software products and many priceless ideas.

    But on the other hand, and maybe this is where SGI is coming from, innovation in the Linux kernel is comparatively minimal. I don't think anyone would go so far as to say that it is stifled, but the fact remains that the choice of which ideas are accepted into the official release and which are not is in the hands of a very few people (maybe three or four, or possibly just the one). That must have an effect on innovation, however much we respect the people in question.

    As a little example of the above, the DIPC [cei.net] project implemented a gem of an idea (I have absolutely nothing to do with it, by the way): allowing processes that communicate through System V IPC mechanisms on a single host to do so even if they are on different machines, while maintaining 100% compile-time application compatibility because the only difference at the API is a single bit in the IPC headers which you'd flick off or on for single or multiple machine operation. That's innovation, usefulness and elegance rolled into one. But no, Linus didn't want to put it into the standard kernel, and to say that the developers were greatly dispirited is the understatement of the year.

    It's worth reflecting that if a kernel facility isn't part of the standard distribution, or worse, if it's available only as a patch, then for all intents and purposes it doesn't exist. We musn't get ourselves into a situation where innovation in the Linux kernel suffers as a result of this possibility.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    One of the things that always kept SGI in high regards by me was OpenGL and I was quietly looking foward to the possiblities with Fahrenheit (dubbed 'defining the future of graphics ' on the sgi site)

    For those that don't know what it is it was suppose to be the next level to OpenGL, giving higher level scene control and incorparating in audio, input etc. to give one API for it all. It was a joint project between SGI and Microsoft (and maybe a few others) and was suppose to take the best from OpenGL and DirectX, and then add a bit more.

    Anyway, I just noticed this message on the SGI site [sgi.com]

    Seems like it's one of the things SGI has 'thrown away' - hopefully they'll use what they've learnt and put it into something else...

  • I've found that strings works really well for getting content out of a Word Document (Of course, it's usually followed by bitching out the person who sent me a Word doc in the first place.)
  • You don't know what your talking about and it shows. IRIX scales vastly better than Linux and as good or better than the other proprietary Unices. If it didn't it wouldn't be routinely running on 16-256 CPU machines. Linux is jus tnow getting a threaded TCP/IP stack for example. Linux lost the Mindcraft benchmarks for a good reason, 2.2.x doesn't scale well.


    You must have really botched something if your getting 2 hours uptime, or more likely you just made that number up to add drama to your lame post.


    As for Linux blowing SGI away on the desktop, I don't see it and neither did Linux in his Comdex speach where he expressed disappointment with the Linux desktop. Linux has no serious commercial applications in key desktop areas like CAD and Animation. I hope this will be changing soon but right now Linux just isn't flying on the desktop outside of Netscape, Star Office, Gimp and a few other free or open source apps like Blender which just don't stack up against commercial apps.
  • Funny you should mention: "as many people living in asia" Do you recall recent /. posts about adoption of Linux by the Chinese ? About UN organisations distributing Linux across third world ? And US-centric views aside, the folks in the rest of the world are both intelligent and technical users.
  • It says that there is a Recipe for Chili on his Homepage...

    of course there was no link to his homepage.

    does anyone by chance have a URL for this guys page?
  • Well, in the land of Oz, we tend to spell it
    one L CHILI for the actual pepper, and two L CHILLI for the dish with meat & beans & stuff.

    I've seen it in many books & recipes like that.

    Why? NFI.
  • I use Linux as my primary desktop machine. I run Debian and my window manager of choice is Enlightenment (just E, none of that GNOME crap). Quite frankly, after getting used to this setup I just can't stand windoze's interface. I hate the start menu, I feel confined with only one desktop, and I just don't like the general look and feel of it. I avoid using windoze unless absolutely necessary. I do word processing on Star Office, and although it's a bit big and slow I don't have any other complaints about it. Why do some people have so much difficulty imagining Linux on the desktop? Exactly what does windoze do that Linux doesn't. Personally, I think Linux makes and ideal desktop environment.
  • I'm sure he didn't mean to insult anyone. What I think he means is that open source projects don't tend to be radical new concepts/services, just free versions of a commercial product.

    This is not always true, LDAP for example was Open Source long before Netscape and Microsoft implemented it. The entire Internet existed decades before Microsoft's first TCP/IP stack.

    But others such as Samba are in a constant rush to keep up with Microsoft's "extending". AOL is another annoying example. AOL rules their messaging protocol, and there is nothing we can do about it. It's our fault for not doing it first.

    But prove me wrong. Do something outragous, something that makes Microsoft say, "crap, not another billion dollars". Make the next killer app.

    Ozwald
  • Wonder if they'd visit any LUGs along the east coast?

    Victoria is on the east coast!

    Oh, you meant the east coast of the USA. Seriously though, its great when "big names" make it out to Australia.

  • i run redhat 6 with e and gnome, but im thinking
    of dropping gnome (im not really sure how id go about doing that). i really like e and want to move away from the start button thing. i wish linux could use the keyboard in the gui like you can alt, or tab around in windows. i dont have support for my sound card yet (aureal vortex (turtle beach montego)) but hopefully thats coming. star office works pretty well for me so far but it has problems figuring out word's drawings. i need a schematics (electrical) drawing type program if anyone knows of one for free. overall im pretty happy, and feel good about supporting something i believe in (free software is good for the consumer, why do people have problems believing this?)
  • I've never seen it any other way than with one 'L' (until now), for either the pepper itself or the soupy stuff that's made with it.

    "Chilli" does not appear in my dictionary, either. :)

    Zontar The Mindless,

  • I would but there is one major problem: Shafted 6. It's on the same day! Hard choice, but seeing as I'm registered for it I will be going to shafted.
  • i need a schematics (electrical) drawing type program if anyone knows of one for free.

    Try checking out Dia on freshmeat. I haven't used it much, but it does have a mode for doing that. Dunno if it's good enough, but it's something. :)

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Have you ever really LOOKED at GTK? It's a dream come true! I was incredibly impressed with how well thought out and well implemented it is! This beats Microsoft's idea of a graphical API hands down!

    Please... These marketting people need to get a grip.

  • It's entirely possible that the price-gouging (which I do not dispute) was imposed by a different group within SGI.

    Also, bear in mind that McAllister himself said that a culture change was needed. Corporations, like people, can and do change over time. I mean, look at IBM. If you had told me five years ago that Big Blue would be pouring money into Linux and Apache and Java and XML, I would have ask for some of whatever you were smoking. I probably would have said that it was impossible for that bunch of white-shirted-blue-tied-COBOL-writing-batch-jobber s to learn new tricks.

    Give SGI some time to change. They might surprise you yet.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    AFAIR DIPC was/is still distributed through a GPL-incompatible (and BSD-incompatible) license, and the author tried to get only the DIPC API module interface into the main kernel, while keeping the module code still non-GPL. No wonder Linus rejected the patch, I think.
    Also, I have not seen anything about DIPC on linux-kernel, apart from maybe two announcements - the author should first post to linux-kernel and check out the reaction of kernel hackers. Putting things out into the open helps, you get more eyeballs and you can be sure it's the right patch when it goes to Linus.
  • Oh my, those threads again. Without threads, apache makes one of the worlds fastsest webservers. Apache is a proof that threads are not necessary (often even contraproductive because of all the locking complexity you get) for performance.

    In discussions on using threaded vs. event-driven architecture I always use apache to prove a point. I hope it never gets any threads.

    The idea that threads are good is IMO coming from (bad) experiences in the Windows world: Win3.x had a broken event-driven archtitectur. Then came Win "new technology" (cough) with its threaded architecture. Since win3 was so bad it looked good (relatively). But on UNIX there have been very good & efficient event-driven architectures for long.
  • That's C-H-I-L-I, dude. One 'L'. Thanks.

    Hate to correct you, but you're wrong.. It's both. (In british english, at least)

    At least, according to my New Zealand dictionary.. (of which I would name, but the cover's ripped off and it starts at alphanumeric.....).

    chilli or chili ('tfili) n., pl. chillies or chilies. the small red or green hot-tasting pod of a type of capsicum, used in cookery, often in powdered form. [Mexican Indian]
    And dictionary.com, which I'd assume is American English tends to agree. chilli or chili [dictionary.com].
  • Indeed, Linux mainly immitates other Unices when it comes to the kernel. I think it was Linus' original goal to make a UNIX clone, thus he is very conservative with what goes into the kernel. OTOH w.r.t. userspace Linux is quite innovative.

    FreeBSD has another focus, just to mention an example. It has a much higher level of innovation when it comes to the kernel but for userspace it trails Linux/UNIX and is more conservative.

    Each project just has its own focusses, but to say that open-source isn't a good innovator is very inaccurate.
  • When I try to read between the lines of the policies of SGI, IBM, HP and Sun what I'm seeing is a general desire to make Linux successful because they think it will keep Gates off their back. Seems to me that about 3-4 years ago everybody had the beginnings of an NT port for their processors and this must have had them worried. Is Linux some sort of enemy-of-my-enemy to them? Do they really want to see it succeed? Once they've derailed Windows will they turn on Linux? Or, is there some other strategy that they have in mind? If there is something else then I'm afraid I don't understand what it is and I'd love to be enlightenned.
  • by Lars Arvestad ( 5049 ) on Wednesday November 24, 1999 @10:40PM (#1505965) Homepage Journal
    What I think he means is that open source projects don't tend to be radical new
    concepts/services, just free versions of a commercial product.
    But commercial/closed source don't tend to be very innovating either. There have been loads of word processors and spreadsheet programs and DTP applications. Given how much resources that go into commercial software developing, the output is disappointing IMHO. Has anyone ever tried to justify these claims?

    It is so easy, as you also point out, to give examples of revolutionary open source projects. What would the PC market look like had it not been for WWW browsers and servers from CERN and NCSA?
    Open source projects, from time to time, do outrageous things and MS will have to shell out more billions of dollars to mirror open source projects.

    AOL is another annoying example. AOL rules their messaging protocol, and there is nothing we can do about it. It's our fault for not doing it first.
    I think this is an example of something different. I was using finger and talk ten years ago for instant messaging. It worked excellent (finger was much more useful then than today and talk was simple and convenient on a text terminal) and surely it was open source? But commercial messaging systems has taken over because commercial companies rule the desktop market and probably also because of marketing. How much marketing does an initiative such as Gale [gale.org] get?

    I believe the strength of commercial companies is in grabbing market share more than innovating. This may change with Red Hat et al. We'll see.

    Lars

    --
  • I think this is an example of something different. I was using finger and talk ten years ago for instant messaging. It worked excellent (finger was much more useful then than today and talk was simple and convenient on a text terminal) and surely it was open source? But commercial messaging systems has taken over because commercial companies rule the desktop market and probably also because of marketing. How much marketing does an initiative such as Gale get?

    There are a few little nits I'd like to pick here.

    1. talk and finger are okay, but have security problems (I assume you were alluding to these) and do not eqaul a program such as 'icq' which is a sort of talk, and finger, and nwrite, and a few other assorted concepts bundled into a neat little package. It's really a nice improvement in concept.
    2. finger of course depends on the system being multi-user in concept, and it depends upon the other party haveing direct access to your machine.
    3. ICQ and friends generally offer lots of wizzy things like multiple ways the view the conversation, the ability to send files directly, silly flower bitmaps, etc. Not all of these things are fundamentlly good, or good to have bundled into the client and/or protocol, but they attract users.
    4. ICQ got started on Word Of Mouth. I watched people on IRC telling each other about it in 1996 or so. I even signed up, and have a _really_ early number. I dropped it because it was incredibly unstable. Even for windows.
    5. I think it's generally hard for the OSS crowd to all clone a type of software at once that has a broken methodology. This is because all of them will try to fix it, and then you have a thousand cooks.. :). Maybe the IETF "Instant Messaging" protocol I've heard rumours about will do much to relieve this.
  • by rowland ( 12870 ) on Wednesday November 24, 1999 @11:22PM (#1505967) Homepage
    Microsoft has been uttering the word in every other sentence, but it usually means buying or stealing someone's ideas or technology, seizing the market by force, and taking credit for it.

    There are orders of magnitude more innovative ideas at my company than there are developers to implement them, and most of them would just make our software more complex and unwieldy.

    Probably the most difficult part of designing GOOD software is knowing what to leave out. Conservative judgement is called for in a tool that many people depend on--otherwise you end up with Windows! Sure, let's throw a graphics API into the kernel! Let's download COM objects into our browser that can do as they like! Let make every piece and every layer interconnect with every other piece and layer so the whole thing becomes a huge Gordian's knot that even the sword of the U.S. Government can't slice through!

    A conservative approach means some worthy features will be left out, but it's a lot easier to add a good feature later on than to take out a bad one. One of the more innovative languages I know is Oberon, a language that can be clearly and unambiguously defined in fifty-odd pages, as compared to the hundreds of pages needed to define C++, which is still ambiguous and subject to the implementor's interpretation. Technologies like CORBA existed long before HTTP, but the web wasn't built on them. HTTP was innovative in its simplicity!

    Whatever one's take on the platform, one of the big reasons for Java's popularity is that the language has been simplified considerably from C++ and the developers tried to use only tried and true features. Of course, now I hear they're reconsidering operator overloading--don't get me started...

    I submit that the best way to encourage innovation is to resist the urge to fold every new feature into the core, instead adding only those features that are absolutely essential to allow multiple, competing innovations to be created on top of them.

    The open source community, especially the Linux community, has been accused of "chasing tail lights." I think that this is not only valid, I think it's not the least bit shameful! After all, in a race, on must catch up before pulling ahead, and in some circumstances it is best to let others go first, especially where dead-ends and rickety bridges are concerned.

    The strength of the open source community, as I see it, is that on the whole it seems to distinguish between innovation and feature-itis. Perhaps the most "innovative" thing one can do sometimes is make the damn thing work before adding more features! Now I would call that down-right revolutionary!

    Brent Rowland
  • The conundrum is how to make money out of something that is given away for free.
    McAllister said the business case was sound.
    "At the end of the day, I have to make money. I have to answer to my shareholders," he said.

    Does anyone have any idea what this business case is going to look like? It's rather strange that you cannot find more on this question in the article.

    Are they simply going to make money off the support for "their" parts of the operating system? With hardware prices going down even for the fatter computers, they have to look for alterative sources of revenue. I just wonder what Sgi's perspective is going to look like...

    ________________________________
    If encryption is outlawed, only

  • Ha,ha,ha,ha....

    House~$85,000
    Sun Server~$40,000-$50,000

    Sure, I've got you beat...Doing my paper route this summer I scraped every penny I could. Every last penny. And now my roommate and I have some Linux boxes in our apartment, mostly for client activities. But, the real prize for delivering all those papers at 4:30am while riding my poor, little bicycle is that brand spankin new Cray T3d in my closet, as our dial up server for the Internet and to serve as a great Quake server. I didn't like FreeBSD either, I mean, hey ftp://ftp.cdrom.com can only handle 5000 users and 1TB of day everyday. I mean really, man, my Cray can handle 1T of users per day. But, my electric bill is killing me.

  • from the dipc-2.0.lsm [uregina.ca]
    Copying-policy: GPL. Copyright (C) Kamran Karimi
  • I'd like to hear if other slashdotters agree with the following opinion of mine:

    "Troll" should be removed from the moderation system.

    Usually when a moderation makes me mad, it's a "troll" where one person has spoken an unpopular opinion and the only way you can know if they are sincere or trolling is by mindreading. I tend to assume they're sincere. Others often assume the opposite. Some of them are moderators. Usually the only people caught in the troll are moderators! (resulting in a large thread of "Moderator on crack!" posts)

    This is one particular area where the moderation system does more harm than good, I think.
    --

  • I've just had a browse of their mailing list archives to see if there is a licensing issue. It turns out that DIPC has been GPL'd since August. (No idea what it was before that.)

    Trying to read between the lines in some of their posts, it doesn't seem that licensing was the issue though, because apparently DIPC was getting good support from Alan Cox in the way of header patches but no encouragement from Linus. (Despite being a fan, Alan is said not to have had the time to press the issue further). I get the impression that there was a lot left unsaid.

    Each case has its own particulars, but leaving that aside, it's the general case that may be of some concern in the future. Linux is a standard-bearer in the free software community, so we need innovation to be encouraged in the kernel as elsewhere if we're not to be seen as lacking in that department. If the coding is of a good standard and is well integrated, the default answer to inclusion in the development branch needs to be "yes". (Hopefully it is, already -- maybe someone from the kernel list will comment). We can't afford SGI to be right about lack of innovation.
  • Your first three points does not show that Mirabilis, AOL, et.c. have innovated, IMHO. They have done something that OSS traditionally is recongnized as strong at: Improving existing concepts.

    I did not know about point 4, although I learned of ICQ by WofM myself. But how far did they come with WofM as marketing? I though instant messaging took off with programs bundled with Netscape and IE?

    What do you mean with your point 5? If you are saying that OSS could not improve talk+finger because it was a broken concept, implying that OSS can only improve through evolution, then I disagree and again point at the WWW for a counter example. My guess at why the open software community did not improve instant messaging is that no one saw the need.

    Lars

    --
  • I have Linux just sitting on my machine, I've yet to find a 'killer app' for it...
    I use NT for day-to-day work, and I'm not stuck with a single desktop any more - I run the Litestep [litestep.net] window manager and have Cygwin [cygnus.com] for all my command-line needs, so I get the benefits of a unix interface and still get to use all my Windows apps...the best of both worlds :)
  • This is only with old versions of IRIX - with newer versions (certainly 6.5 (current), I'm not sure when the changed occured) you don't need to pay to run gcc. Install IRIX, download gcc, use it.

    Whilst it's annoying for users of old versions of IRIX, it's misleading to suggest that this is the whole truth. If you buy an SGI now (or in the recent past), you get gcc for free.

    Mike.
  • If you follow lkml, you will know how everybody who is suggesting something really new, aggressively flamed. See the devfs example. Or occassionally people suggest new QoS mechanisms (on the app level, not in the network!) and all they get is "why do you want this? you are an idiot".

    I don't call that "flaming". Constructive critisism among peers is the more appropriate term IMHO (where did you see the word idiot being used btw?).

    And don't forget that you can always fork off the kernel if the "official" development roadmap doesn't correspond to your needs...

    The GNOME and KDE people are reimplementing the Microsoft Windows GUI - state of the art in 1995. you know how long 5 years are in computing?

    Yeah and Microsoft reimplemented the Mac-GUI which was state of the art in... 1985. What is the problem with a perfectly good, but aged idea. Ethernet is 30 years old. Unix originated in the 60s. WinNT was a (supposedly improved) reimplementation of VMS with integrated GUI.(I know I'm grossly oversimplifying by the way...)

    What good would it be for the KDE guys to try to invent a new graphical interface metaphor when the dektop approach has now been accepted by users?

    Good ideas are timeless. Why reivent the wheel when you can build up on existing ideas. Bringing a powerfull multiuser, multitasking OS to your desktop and presenting it in a simple way by using the dektop GUI methaphor is what KDE, GNOME et al. are all about. What's wrong with that?

    --
  • But isn't this the case in most branches of science, engineering et.c. A small number of people develop the really radical ideas and new concepts, and everybody else works on details, enhancements, improvements, optimisation, or special cases...

    From X-Ray Crystallography to building bridges to micro-surgery, the 'paradigm changes' (ugh) occur rarely, so most actual progress is made in-between those fundamental changes by the people who take the existing ideas, and adapt and modify and improve them.

    There haven't been that many fundamental changes in computing anyway. Batch-jobs, multi-user systems, GUI's, the Internet. There's been a lot of futzing out the borderlines into real progress, though.

    If there was one real thing I'd point at though, in terms of open-source derived innovation, its the ideas contained in Jon Udell's book 'Practical Internet Groupware' This is, even from a quick browse, a really worthwhile book that's going to have a lot of impact.

    White Rabbit

  • Brent makes a very good point. Innovation is important, but not at the expense of any other good properties. Good additions are those that are not only good in themselves but also good in their integration and interaction with other subsystems around them. The decades-old buzzword of "modular" is as important today as ever, and the even older one of "coupling" still rules the roost. If a new subsystem spreads static tendrils throughout older well-proven code or interacts dynamically with many other parts in complex ways, it's a disaster waiting to happen.

    Talking about relevant terms, perhaps we should find a little more use for one that academia values a lot: elegance. It encompasses all of the above in one word, and certainly C++ would never have passed its harsh judgement. ;-)

    [I don't want to imply that DIPC wasn't up to scratch in that area. The user-level interface is wonderfully elegant, but I haven't looked at the implementation at all, yet.]
  • ... I'd be interested to know how many desktop users there are of Linux (any flavour). And how many actually use Linux as their primary desktop machine. Off the topic totally - what experiences have you Slashdotters had with office suites such as ApplixOffice, Star Office, etc??

    I just recently deleted Windows completely from my computer. The reason for this was the latest SuSE (6.2) distro. The retail version has so much software to play around with, it's almost disgusting.

    The only reason why I was still using Windows as my primary desktop was Office and games. It took some time for me to get used to Star Office, but now I really like it. Ok so it's quite bloated for a Unix app, but my computer can handle it. Admittedly, I don't have to exchange much documents with other office software, which may be the biggest caveat. Also, Netscape 4.7 is alot more stable than previous version (methinks), and Mozilla is _almost_ ready for primetime, so I can do without IE5 (which I really liked).

    Games were big problem until I realized I almost exclusively play Quake and Civilization type games...

    I also used to be a big Photoshop fan. Now that I finally took the time to learn the Gimp, I don't need photoshop anymore (I actually think the Gimp is better).

    And for my occasional coding session, Linux is more than up to the task. (VisualAge for Java is really nice).

    In conclusion, I think the main problem in switching to Linux was the lack of time (and motivation) to start over again with a new system, learn to use alternative apps which do the (more or less) the same thing as their windows equivalents. My motivation was to finally break free from piracy. Still a student, I don't have the money to pay for all the software toys I like to play with. Current Linuxs distros give me all (or most) of the functionality I had on my mostly pirated windows setup, whitout the moral problem of piracy...

    Greetings

    --
  • From said webpage: With the importance of both IRIX and Linux® to our future business strategy and the absence of Linux as a Fahrenheit platform, we believe it makes the most sense for Fahrenheit to continue as a Windows®-only technology.

    Our commitment to OpenGL® and other APIs for the visual simulation, entertainment, manufacturing and scientific markets is unchanged.


    What the hell is this supposed to mean? I thought they were going to replace OpenGL with Farenheit. Now it sounds as if they're giving MS control of the project and keep OpenGL development separate. I'd say this looks as if Fahrenheit will simply be DirectX 8....
    --
  • DIPC is quite an interesting idea. I've already read a little on it, and plan to read more. But I can easily see why Linus wouldn't want it in the kernel.

    We've already got several mechanisms for doing this kind of thing: from RPC, to PVM and MPI, to heavyweights like CORBA. RPC is in the kernel already, I'm not sure about MPI, and PVM and CORBA are completely in user-space.

    Linus probably just doesn't want to add yet a distributed programming mechanism that's (currently) specific to Linux.

    Digression: What we really need is a Linux kernel patch repository. That would give people a better idea of the ways in which Linux could be extended, and would be a central place that would give better publicity to projects such as DIPC.

  • You are very wrong. Netscape appears to have the worst IMAP client around:

    Have a look at xfmail for example:

    It can handle
    1. IMAP
    2. POP
    3. old good spool

    It can send via both
    1. SMTP
    2. sendmail

    It has PGP 2.63, PGP5 and GPG integration (and maybe the best pgp integration I've seen so far.

    It has reegexp search and regexp filters with possibility to execute stuff if found.

    It has executable signatures. Don't you love fortune or murphy in your .sig?

    It handles most of the HTML which is appropriate for email

    It does not crash (at least on a debian, I do hear some of the folks with RHAT complain sometimes but I will blame this on RHAT libs).

    It is available as source

    It is under 1NB compiled

    Most importantly: it is 7-10 times faster then nestcape

  • It's worth reflecting that if a kernel facility isn't part of the standard distribution, or worse, if it's available only as a patch, then for all intents and purposes it doesn't exist. We musn't get ourselves into a situation where innovation in the Linux kernel suffers as a result of this possibility.

    Not strictly true; Debian 2.1 (slink) includes a 2.0.36 kernel patched to support MCA and large amounts of RAM, even though these weren't accepted into the official kernel until 2.1.x . I think that Red Hat and SuSE have also been known to ship customized kernels. You also have the ac series and the development kernels, where there is a higher chance of merging new features.

  • I don't know why I'm even bothering to post. I could go on about SGI DIVO 601 and HD boards, real time 4:2:2 YUV to 4:4:4 RGB colour space conversion, scalability. But I wont.

  • I'm not so sure about that. Most people who work with open standards and university/science/peer review systems say that open source is pretty much exactly like they have been operating all along.

    And, more importantly, open source/free software is not positioning itself as an alternative to scientific and university work: but to closed, propriatory corporation development. When we compare the innovation of FS, we have to look to the innovation of private software developers, which has been (esp under the last ten years) very limited.

    -
    We cannot reason ourselves out of our basic irrationality. All we can do is learn the art of being irrational in a reasonable way.
  • Hehe. It is a necessary evil ;)
    --
  • A while back (like in the 70's) people used to say exactly the same thing about the Japanese, "they can copy inventions but they can't invent things of their own". This may have been true whilst they were playing catch-up, but once they had caught up, they started innovating. I believe that Linux will also follow this pattern - catch up first, then overtake. That's when we'll see move innovation happening in the open-source community.

    HH
  • Are they simply going to make money off the support for "their" parts of the operating system? With hardware prices going down even for the fatter computers, they have to look for alterative sources of revenue. I just wonder what Sgi's perspective is going to look like...

    Lower hardware prices translates to lower margins. If you want to increase revenue, you must then sell more computers. Presumably, SGI believes embracing and extending (in its honourable sense) Linux can make them sell more computers.

    I know they try to appeal to the bioinformatics community by optimizing popular open source analysis software for their computers. It certainly seems to help them sell more computers.

    Lars

    --
  • From the I-Stand-Corrected? Department:

    I swear I've never seen it that way before in my life, and it only gives the one-L spelling in Webster's Desk Dictionary of the English Language (1990, dilithium Press, New York) but I guess I'll have to defer to the gentlebeing from NZ.

    Still looks fscked up to me, tho... :)

    Zontar The Mindless,

  • What do you mean with your point 5?

    f you are saying that OSS could not improve talk+finger because it was a broken concept, implying that OSS can only improve through evolution, then I disagree and again point at the WWW for a counter example. My guess at why the open software community did not improve instant messaging is that no one saw the need.

    My points weren't meant to be consistent at all.. I should have unordered them.

    I meant in point 5 that open source stuff is having a hard time cloning ICQ because it's broken. No one group has come up with the magic fix.. everyone is fixing it in a different way, etc.

    I actually _did_ see the need for improving upon finger and talk, but only because I saw a roughly equivalent app at Farallon they developed but never shipped. It was called "Finger" and it was for the mac. I wanted to make a program for mac, win, unix that was backwards compatable with finger and talk (and write) .. but this was in the days before I really knew how to program.

  • In the case of SGI (where I worked until a couple of months ago), the problem has been and continues to be applications. Getting essential commercial software ported to your platform is obscenely expensive. And that's if the vendor will do the port at all. SGI's reliance on MIPS and its own UNIX has limited software availability. And that places severe limits on the customers it can attract, no matter how neat its technology.

    Once SGI decided to move to IA64 (and IA32) the decision to embrace Linux became obvious. For SGI the greatest virtue of Linux is as a shrinkwrap platform for Intel software. They can save themselves a huge expense by not having to attract all that undifferentiated software to their systems. (A moment of silence for all my friends who used to work in the Developer Program.)

    But this means that binary compatibility is essential. Anything that breaks compatibility destroys the value of Linux to SGI. (And, I assume, to the other vendors.) Binary compatibility wasn't an issue when every UNIX vendor had their own processor. But now it's the most important point.

    (There are other attractions to Linux, of course. But without that huge binary compatible software base it wouldn't be nearly so compelling for SGI.)

  • I don't think it's too fair to criticise SGI so heavily for a policy that's been corrected since Irix 6.x was introduced some years back.

    I will admit that SGI's price list is fun to read for sheer laugh value - just check out their prices for external disk drives if you want proof. Of course this may be one reason companies have been moving towards NT. SGI may well have been penny wise and pound foolish here.

    That aside, I'd say the IDO for any version of Irix is one of the most frequently pirated pieces of software in the workstation world. Ask for a copy when you buy your next SGI machine; odds are that you'll get it. SGI seems to be turning a tactful blind eye to this sort of thing, so I wouldn't be so snippy towards them.

    D

    ----
  • I chose Asia because of its large population. If you noticed, I said nothing about Linux in Asia. If you'd prefer, s/Asia/North America/. It was (supposed) to be a joke.
  • Yeah, sorry. Guess I'm like every other American (almost) on /.

    It's true that we are extremely egotistical and these little slips are a result of that - we're so used to the world revolving around us (or at least thinking that it does).

    On the other hand, it sometimes seems as though it does. /. (the server, etc. at least) are located in the U.S. and it even has a nice American Flag to denote U.S. sections (and nothing similar for articles pertaining to other countries).

    You are correct, however, in pointing these things out. It is not a good thing to think of the world as revolving around you or your country. I don't think that it is as much an intentional thing as it is force of habit.


    And, In conclusion, one of the greatest American ;)authors on Microsoft products:

    "And what the people but a herd confus'd,
    A miscellaneous rabble, who extol

  • I'm surprised by the naivete of many in the Linux community who believe that companies like SGI, Sun, IBM, etc, are supporting linux because they believe in the ideal of free software and "the community". Sure, that's what they _say_ they're doing, but the subtext is that they're attempting to use Linux as a weapon against their competitors.

    Take SGI, for example. Most people would agree their market position hasn't been too great in recent years, and as a business they haven't been doing all that well. Some would go as far as to call them a sinking ship.

    Enter Linux. By releasing trinkets of their code under the GPL, they can simultaneously poison the marketplace for that technology (by making the value of the product worthless - i.e. if there's code which does exactly the same thing for free, how can your competitors expect to keep making money on that software), while trying to jockey for "brownie points" by appearing to be friendly and progressive. It's a delicate balance between not giving away too much of the farm so you have nothing left to sell yourself, and degrading the value of your competitors products.

    Anyone who doesn't understand that Linux is simply being used as a pawn in the ongoing corporate wars is being naive. Whether or not this is a bad thing for Linux is another matter altogether (after all, if/when the big 'Linux-friendly' businesses either achieve their goal of market dominance, or get bored with lack of progress and move elsewhere, Linux will still have gained some code).
  • Try MSWordView (now called wvware, in an effort to make people sound really flubby when naming it...)

    www.wvWare.com/ [wvware.com]
  • I went along to the talk when he was in Sydney, here is a
    summary [uts.edu.au] I posted and his follow up [uts.edu.au].
  • "Digression: What we really need is a Linux kernel patch repository."

    why dont you start one then? :)

  • It could be argued that the strongest point about open-source is that it is not innovative. Because
    there is no `marketing' of great new `features' developers are free to re-use idea's purely on the
    basis of how well they work. The old Unix concept of using the simple and robust solution over the
    `clever' solution is also here.

    That said, and from my reading of lkml, there is a lot of innovation, but it is all safely hidden
    behind the API (why break software unless you have to?) and doesn't get seen.

    Personally I'm happier with the amount of cruft (present in windows and Irix) that linux has
    avoided gaining...doesn't that count as the biggest innovation of all? Not letting marketing
    and feature lists determine technical choices.
  • i wish linux could use the keyboard in the gui like you can alt, or tab around in windows.
    This has nothing to do with the kernel! It's merely a function of your window manager. For example:
    $ grep -i ring ~/.twmrc
    WindowRing { "eterm" "terminal" "Terminal" "Eterm" "xterm" }
    "F5" = : all : f.warpring "prev"
    "F6" = : all : f.warpring "next"
    Check the manpage for your window manager. You can probably configure something like this. But you won't have to rebuild and reboot the kernel, or even restart X to play with it.
  • And how many actually use Linux as their primary desktop machine.
    I think I've decided that that question is about as sensible as the one about whether you've stopped beating your wife yet. It requires tacit acceptance of too many notions nonsensical at best, alien at worst, to garner much in the way of a meaningful answer. Consequently, I'm going to delete that supremely silly buzzword bingo term, "desktop", from the cited question.

    In a sane computing environment, any terminal provides complete access to any computer. I can and often do have situations in which I'm using a keyboard/monitor combination from computer #1, have got some software CD physically loaded in computer #2's CD drive, and am running the program from that CD that's NFS-mounted on computer #3--all the while with I/O going back to machine #1.

    What I'm trying to tell you is that where I happen to be sitting makes absolutely no difference in determining what I'm doing. It's completely location-independent. The idea of actually physical collocation is some throwback to the Stone Age of computers. No matter where I am, everything is transparently accessible. This renders ridiculous the question of what kernel is being run by the computer physically closest to me. I don't have to move my body around to access any file or program. Given a network, all it takes is for these programs and files to exist somewhere on some machine on which I have a valid account.

    As I look at the programs currently displaying on this terminal, I see that many of them are actually hosted on computers are running a Linux-based operating system, mainly RedHat with some SuSE. But several others are running running on an OpenBSD box, and one is running under FreeBSD. I currently have only one active program running on Solaris, and not under SunOS. The window manager keeping track of all this for me, tvtwm, happens to be running on OpenBSD. But really, this doesn't matter a bit.

    I've found that Prisoners of Bill have a very hard time with this concept. The confusion is inherent in certain types of questions, such as the one I've answered here. Free yourself from the cognitive restrictions that Microsoft has insinuated into your worldview.

  • actually i've given up on windoze for some time now. i switched away to Irix, then solaris and now linux...now im also sticking to linux.

All extremists should be taken out and shot.

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