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Linux: Fighting the FUD of Forking 261

Posted by Hemos
from the power-to-the-people dept.
sebFlyte writes "Fighting the MS FUD machine is a full time job for some open source developers, especially now Microsoft have thrown in the issue of the possibility of Linux forking (as Unix did)... it would also seem that Gates has moved on from telling people to 'get the facts' and creating FUD around patents and IP to criticising the open source communty's ability to create interoperable software."
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Linux: Fighting the FUD of Forking

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  • by Mauvaisours (660152) on Monday February 07, 2005 @09:01AM (#11595547)
    From the guy that brought you exchange server and MS office closed format.
    • by altp (108775) on Monday February 07, 2005 @09:05AM (#11595562) Homepage
      And MS Works, which isn't compatible with MS Office out of the box.
    • From the article, you'll see that "interoperability" here means with itself. Meaning: Windows works best with windows and other OSs don't work as well with it. This is somewhat true, but OSS's strength is operating with every OS and every arch under the sun...

      This all goes hand-in-hand with Samba's impending complaint over MS's licensing agreement in the EU dispute.
    • by tomhudson (43916) <.barbara.hudson. ... bara-hudson.com.> on Monday February 07, 2005 @09:17AM (#11595622) Journal
      Their strange view on interoperability:
      For example, interoperability is sometimes viewed merely as adherence to a published specification of some kind, either from one or more vendors or a standards organization. But simply publishing a specification may not be enough, because it overlooks much of the hard work it takes to successfully develop interoperable products &#150; namely, ensuring that the "contract" defined by a specification is successfully implemented in software and tested in a production environment.
      No wonder they're always breaking specs.

      The whole article is a puff piece. Even the above-quoted sentence really doesn't say anything.

      But I do have to admit Microsoft is way ahead on interoperability - many more viruses and trojans "just work" with their systems.

      Anyone who believes this mindless pap deserves what they get.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        ahem...
        silly you...by interoperability - they meant the various operating systems in the market such as windows me, 98 se, nt, win2k, win2k3, media edition, win xp, longhorn. (at least they frequently explain various platforms as the various flavours of windows!)
        • Longhorn interoperatable with XP, and 2000 let alone with the Windows 9x OS's? Everything that has been coming out about Longhorn has stated that it is going to break interoperability with the rest of the Window's OS family, (similar to the way 2000 and XP broke interoperability with the Window's 9x family, but to a greater extent).

          To state the obvious, Microsoft is not interested in interoberability, they already have, in their eyes, a problem with people still running Windows 98, and Office 97. The lac
      • by Lodragandraoidh (639696) on Monday February 07, 2005 @10:54AM (#11596250) Journal
        Gates is speaking to CIOs here. The writing is on the wall, and the change of tac, I believe is a last ditch effort to stave off the latest Apple attack (think about what most business desktop systems do, and look at the new Apple Mac Mini [apple.com] - for as cheap or cheaper price you can upgrade your aging windows ME and 2000 machines to something that just works - without all the problems with viruses and trojans; the added benefit is you can gather up all those old PCs and build a beowulf cluster for number crunching/modeling - a win-win situation, if there ever was one).

        Of course, Gates will be happy to put the fear of god (or in this case, interoperability) in the minds of the people who make the decisions to buy or not to buy. If the CIO is not a computer guy - then he might just buy this latest broadside....
        • Good point about the MiniMac. Keep your old monitor, keyboard, mouse, printer - just plug in a new minimac and run. This is a serious threat, since a lot of businesses will be hitting year 3 or more of their upgrade cycle over the next little while.
      • Well, there is a grain of truth to that statement.

        w3c requires a working implementation before it will be standardized. IETF doesnt do so explicitly, but the individual working groups almost always base standards on shipping products.

        OSI was a standard process built "top down", desigined and published, with no working implementation of most of what it defined. There are still some residual pieces of it in use, (part of) ATM, x500 touching SSL/TLS, LDAP.. But also parts of it that, so far as I know, were

      • overlooks much of the hard work it takes to successfully develop interoperable products &#150; namely, ensuring that the "contract" defined by a specification is successfully implemented

        That's why they're using an ASCII standards-compliant &#150; hyphen. The irony is thick here.
      • Anyone who believes this mindless pap deserves what they get.

        You think our parents deserve crappy software? Not everyone is an engineer. We're supposed to explain the FUD to them carefully, not throw them to the wolves.
    • by beh (4759) * on Monday February 07, 2005 @09:25AM (#11595653)
      I don't quite see the problem here.

      I am not afraid of forks, if they are executed well.

      Look at some examples we've had in the past:

      gcc fork - when the gcc development started to slow down, a new group forked it and the primary thing it did was to speed up development.

      emacs fork - emacs had had a notice for ages saying that "X11 support was coming RSN", but nothing happened for quite a while. The Lucid-Emacs (later became XEmacs) happened and within a very short amount of time there was quite a hustle and bustle of activity between the two - Yes, there are some interoperability issues here in that both designed their respective GUI concepts a bit differently. But both evolved at a much quicker pace then if we only had one. (Especially good in this case, was that the lucid/xemacs team decided that sticking to old packages like the age old c-mode wasn't a good thing and that there were better alternatives to be used, and they didn't shy away from using them - much to the advantage of the entire community.

      If there should be a linux fork, I am not really afraid of it, since those who will fork it, will know that they will also NEED interoperability (an issue that emacs/xemacs didn't really have in that sense, as the files you edit with them ARE interoperable -- and I don't think a linux fork that will make the formats of binaries / shared libs different, will find much acceptance, unless they also manage to continue supporting the old formats as well (pretty much like you can still use a.out binaries, if you still have the kernel support for it compiled in).

      I don't think we should just have a kernel-fork just for the sake of it - but if there are good reasons for a fork, I am not afraid of it - in fact, I'd rather welcome it.

      Benedikt
    • The main claim seems to be that, because there are multiple non-Microsoft platforms, a huge amount of testing must be done to ensure interoperability with them. On ther other hand, there is only one Microsoft platform (Windows XP, released in 1980) which has always interoperated perfectly with itself (obviously, so they didn't bother to test it).

      The piece seems to say very little about open source, aside from a quick statement that business people are so stupid that they would confuse a development model w
  • by castlec (546341) <castlec@yahooIII.com minus threevowels> on Monday February 07, 2005 @09:05AM (#11595561)
    Each distribution has typically has its own fork. The glory of the GPL rings true here. No one can be hurt from a fork. The better code, how ever one wishes to evaluate better, will live on. As others have already noted, "Nothing to see here. Move along."
    • by PornMaster (749461) on Monday February 07, 2005 @09:11AM (#11595593) Homepage
      Each distribution may come from a kernel with a set of customization patches, but aren't they all applied to mainline kernels? That's not quite the same thing as forking.
    • by MarkRose (820682) on Monday February 07, 2005 @09:13AM (#11595605) Homepage

      No one can be hurt from a fork.

      Wrong. [nih.gov]

    • by Anonymous Coward
      The problem isn't the forks. It is the install procedure that each fork will require to run the same piece of software.

      With windows, you download a program and double click the install button. It doesn't matter if you are running Windows 98 / ME, NT, 2K, or XP. The thing installs and (sometimes) suns correctly. Try downloading a package (NOT SOURCE) built for some old version of RedHat and installing it on a new Slackware distribution. It just plain does not work by default.

      This is what Bill G was talking
      • by Zphbeeblbrox (816582) <zaphar@gmail.com> on Monday February 07, 2005 @10:00AM (#11595870) Homepage
        I'm sorry but I have to disagree with you here. There is already a "standard" of sorts. /etc will work when nothing else will. /usr/bin also will work when nothing else will. The real problem here is that the developers of applications pretty much leave this kind of thing up to the distributions. If developers took the time to come up with one click installs for their apps then people might not be so dependent on the distro's The distribution should not be responsible for solving the install issues for their apps. That is the developers problem. When Gnome or KDE offer a one click install for their product then standardization will come. Until then each distribution will continue to offer their own "unique" way of doing things.
      • by ultranova (717540) on Monday February 07, 2005 @03:08PM (#11599270)

        Try downloading a package (NOT SOURCE) built for some old version of RedHat and installing it on a new Slackware distribution. It just plain does not work by default.

        Of course it doesn't, any more than simply copying an install dir of a Windows app from one machine to the other will work. If you refuse to follow the normal installation routine of software for your system, the program doesn't work.

        The normal installation routine for a Linux system is as follows:

        1. Download the source package.
        2. Untar it.
        3. Give the following command:"./configure ; make ; su ; make install ; exit".

        This has worked for almost every program I've ever installed. No programming skills needed, no need to have the slightest idea of what the commands at the last step do. Just memorize and type that litany. Shouldn't be too hard for anyone (and shouldn't be too hard to make a program that does it for you with a single mouseclick).

        Sure, you need to download libraries sometimes. I've often hunted DLL's for Windows around the net to get some program or another to work. You want to avoid this, use your distributions package manager. You don't want to use automation, you need to install any missing pieces manually (which is usually no more difficult than reading the error message from configure, typing it to Google, and downloading and installing whatever comes up).

        Simply because something is distributed in source format doesn't mean that you'd need to know anything about programming to get it to work. The source is for friendly neighbourdir compiler to read, Joe User doesn't need to care about it. After all, Joe doesn't need to know anything about compression technology to unzip the ZIP files that Windows programs are distributed in either, so why should he know or care what that "gcc" is that gets run when the install command is executed ?

    • I'm disappointed that SuSE, RedHat, Debian, etc. all try to do the same thing so many different ways, and put the same files in different places. Linux might as well be UNIX, so many ways to do things, but only a few of them work on any particular distribution.

      I would call this a fork, a bad one at that.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 07, 2005 @09:07AM (#11595572)
    .. well at least that demon mascot does.
  • by agraupe (769778) on Monday February 07, 2005 @09:10AM (#11595587) Journal
    I think he's trying to make the point that someone could make a fork that is incompatible with all linux programs, or something like that. It doesn't make sense to me, because such a product would only be the result of its creators having a strong urge to shoot themselves in the foot.
    • Forking is aweful. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Phat_Tony (661117) on Monday February 07, 2005 @10:06AM (#11595903)
      I think he knows what he's talking about here, forking is really awful. Over and over again, I've seen people with NT or 95 buying games that only run under 2000 or XP, or the newer forks like 98, ME, XP, or 2000 failing to run software from the older forks like NT, 95, or 3.1. One of my nephew's favorite games under 95 wouldn't even run under 98. It's really confusing for customers too, especially now that there are things that still say "Windows" like CE, but that run entirely different and mostly incompatible software. My Mom ran NT, and several times bought software that wouldn't work on that fork, which was so different from the concurrent "95" fork.

      Anyway, I'm pretty sure that Bill would know what a pain in the ass it is for an operating system to have a bunch of divergent and not always compatible offerings available.

      • by bonch (38532)
        I guarantee you over 90% of most applications going back to Windows 95 will happily run on XP. Your nephew's game that wouldn't run on 98? Bogus. Name it.

        If your Windows 3.1, 95, or 98 app doesn't run on XP, chances are you were misleading and not pointing out that it's a DOS app. XP is based on the NT kernel, not DOS.

        Those aren't forks anyway. A fork is a branching that continues to be developed alongside. Those are newer versions of the same product. Unless you think Linux 2.4 and 2.6 are "forks?
  • by defile (1059) on Monday February 07, 2005 @09:11AM (#11595592) Homepage Journal

    I've ignored Red Hat and SuSE for about 5 years now, focusing mainly on Debian, Slackware, Gentoo, etc.

    Now that I've used a Red Hat system again, I was completely dazzled by how drastically different the experiences are. I expect the GUI to be more polished, naturally, but so many underlying things are different as well. All in all, they're things I can learn, and binary and source compatibility are still there, but it's the trend that's disturbing.

    All of the traditional UNIX vendors forked in order to raise the barrier of exit for people who wanted to switch platforms. Sun's platform is still alive today because Solaris is such a unique beast that you have administrators trained solely in the art of this platform. All the UNIX part does is allow for some kind of source compatibility. Maybe.

    Cisco took TCP/IP, which was practically invented (and perfected?) on a BSD box and threw it away to build a new proprietary OS to run specifically on their routers.

    It's hard to find a major distribution shipping the vanilla kernel these days. When does, for example, SuSE decide that binary compatibility with other distros is keeping them from "enhancing" the user experience? Can they resist?

    I'd like to be wrong about all of this.

    • Slackware runs a vanilla kernel as far as Im aware..
    • Even if there is a major fork from a distro such as RedHat, I can only see two possible scenarios, or possibly a combination of two:

      The distro that forks gets major ostricization and criticism from the community until they back out. Even still, it's unlikely that it would be a "longhorn" style fork, where they obsolete anything.

      A distro forks and produces something quite superior to what is currently used. Within a couple weeks, those changes are all rolled into not only the main kernel tree, but vario

    • by John Fulmer (5840) on Monday February 07, 2005 @11:44AM (#11596770)
      It's posts liket his that make me wish there were a '-1 Bullshit' moderation tag.....

      Patches added to kernels != 'forking'.
      Different software subsystems != 'forking'.
      Different methods of hardware detection and setup != 'forking'.

      If that's true, then Linux forked in the early/mid '90s, because Redhat used a more SysV-like bootup system, and SLackware used a more BSD-like bootup system.

      Distros have always had sometimes significant differences between them. I've never, however, had problems getting things to run between distros, except for maybe library differences and versioning hell.

      And the first distro that removes 'binary compatibility' will simply go away, because at that point it will cease to be 'Linux'.

  • by mrjb (547783) on Monday February 07, 2005 @09:11AM (#11595594)
    The whole nature of open source is based on interoperability. It is this very nature that made the Internet possible. Where standards are nonexistent, they are being created; for instance, look at the Jack Audio Connection Kit that allows all Linux audio applications (that support it) to interconnect. As a result, developers do not keep reinventing the wheel all the time; instead, they learn how to work with the provided interface, and just build what does not exist yet.
    • Sure, and how many pro audio apps are there yet? It's nice to have a good framework, but let's see it put to good use.
      • I don't know how you define "pro audio apps", but Ardour is pretty "pro" IMO - and ecasound is as well (but not as user-friendly). And personally I record/make a lot of music on my Debian box with Jack, Jack-Rack, Ardour, Ecasound, Hydrogen and other stuff.

        E.g. with Jack I can route the output from Hydrogen into a Jack-Rack and apply effects (in real time) and then output it to another Jack-Rack that just serves as a limiter and apply common effects to all output and outputs to Alsa. At the same time I

  • by PornMaster (749461) on Monday February 07, 2005 @09:14AM (#11595609) Homepage
    Does wider adoption benefit the developers of OSS, or would they be better spending their time working on the software than fighting FUD?

    (I mean this as a serious question, not trolling)
    • By responding to a couple of Bill's utterings (even shooting him down) Bill gets to set the topic of debate. He also gets to advertise his XML as if he were leading the way and waiting for the amatures to catch up.

      He wants "interoperability" on everyones lips just as he releases Office2003 with XML support.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Err, when we start talking about entire Linux installs, and not just the kernel, wouldn't KDE and Gnome and (Others) count as forks? Yeah, they might be interface forks, but they each have their own software packages, configuration, etc. Yeah, KDE software will run on a Gnome desktop if the KDE libs are installed and vice versa, but that isn't really highly integrated is it?

    And for software where money is made by having supporting services, etc, instead of the software itself, the incentive to create eas
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Shouldn't Slashdot be one of the first to stop spreading Microsoft's FUD? The less attention it gets, the less effective it will be.

    Personally, I'm getting sick of seeying these 'Microsoft accuses competetition of being worse then them!' articles.
  • And the point is...? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by robathome (34756)

    So what if there's a fork? So what if Linux experiences the same sort of trial-by-fire that occured when BSD went head-to-head with AT&T SysV? Sure, there was bickering between the BSD and SysV camps over the "right" way to do things. However, for the most part, the best methods won out by right of acclaim and attrition. There are few "pure" SysV systems, the BSD/SysV wars are ancient history, and *nix is probably the better for having gone through it.

  • Fud Fighters (Score:5, Insightful)

    by breakbeatninja (846922) <envescent@@@gmail...com> on Monday February 07, 2005 @09:19AM (#11595630) Homepage Journal
    I think it's important to recognize that Microsoft, SCO and other like minded companies will do whatever it takes to distribute harmful and baseless propaganda in order to further their cause (monopolization of desktop and server markets, proprietization of media and so on). The fact is, while each distribution has minor differences in the way userland and package management is iemplemented, the fundamental Linux kernel is the same and works across all of the distributions.

    As we've seen in previous anti-Linux efforts on Microsoft's part, this is another effort to steer current Microsoft users away from Linux that may be considering it to lower licensing fees and hardware overhead. We all know it takes a *lot* more sysadmin time and monetary investment in hardware and software to reach the same results with a Microsoft-based workstation or server vs. a Linux or Unix equivelent. While Microsoft's sales are strong, their propaganda efforts show some desperation and fear.

    While open source developers may spend a lot of time battling Microsoft's rhetoric, I think it's more important to concentrate on creating a solid operating system for everyone, from the hobbiest to the corporate user. The best way to beat Microsoft at its own game is not to play it. That is, Microsoft seems to value marketing and scare tactics over actual development and innovation. Let's not let Linux fall in Microsoft's trap of smoke and mirrors.
    • Re:Fud Fighters (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Otter (3800)
      Since somebody needs to actually RTFA...

      The message of the linked article is that incompatibility between Linux distributions is a non-issue because the LSB is here to save us all! Given that LSB stories here (when not hidden behind a screen of "Mirco$oft is saying bad things about Lunix!!!!", as with this one) are met with a response along the lines of:

      • 70% ridicule
      • 15% "Why isn't deb/apt the standard?"
      • 15% Why isn't portage the standard?"

      perhaps, it's less than entirely reassuring.

      In fact, the real answ

    • Re:Fud Fighters (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      While open source developers may spend a lot of time battling Microsoft's rhetoric, I think it's more important to concentrate on creating a solid operating system for everyone, from the hobbiest to the corporate user.

      It's easy to agree with the principle behind this, but one reason that Linux can pull in the support it needs to make it a great OS for all is that it is seen as having the potental for making a significant impact on corporate use. Without this potential you wouldn't find companies like IBM

    • Re:Fud Fighters (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Tim C (15259) on Monday February 07, 2005 @11:53AM (#11596856)
      I think it's important to recognize that Microsoft, SCO and other like minded companies will do whatever it takes to distribute harmful and baseless propaganda in order to further their cause

      While that's true, there are two other things to keep in mind as well:

      1) just because MS, SCO or whoever says something, does not automatically mean that it's FUD, and dismissing everything they say as such is foolish and dangerous

      2) there's a fair amount of FUD generated and repeated here about MS and other such companies and their products; perhaps that's fair, perhaps it lowers us to their level. Personally, I lean towards the latter.

      We all know it takes a *lot* more sysadmin time and monetary investment in hardware and software to reach the same results with a Microsoft-based workstation or server vs. a Linux or Unix equivelent.

      See, here's an example. I've used Linux (Mandrake mostly, but also RedHat and Slackware) and Windows (9x, NT, 2K, XP) as my main desktop at various times over the last few years. In the hands of someone who knows what they're doing, it absolutely does not require "a *lot* more sysadmin time" and money to get the same results. If anything, for the tasks I perform daily (general computing use and programming, etc), Windows just beats Linux, but only because of software. I am required to use my company's Exchange server for calendaring, and so Outlook is a must. I can run Windows under VMWare and still use Linux for everything else, but that ups the hardware and admin requirements. If not for that, and the need to edit Word docs, I could use Windows and Linux interchangeably. (Note that OO is not an option. If Word messes up a client doc, that's one thing, but if I choose to use OO and it messes it up, it's my neck on the line)
  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Monday February 07, 2005 @09:21AM (#11595635)

    The reason why forking isn't a problem is because the open source community knows how to read the friggin' RFCs before we code something. Unlike a certain software giant who lives in Redmond.

    Doesn't matter if there is one branch of a big project or 1000 forks. If they stick to specs, they are all interchangeable. Like your window manager. As long as they do what they're supposed to do, stick to specs and play fair - it doesn't matter which one you use.

    This gives the user choice, which is why MS finds it to be such an alien concept.

  • What Microsoft does not want you to know or think about is the difference between a fork with the proprietary Unixes and Linux. With all those proprietary types, yeah a fork is "bad" cause the code bases will never, never merge together. The opposite of that is the strength of Linux (if it ever did fork), any of those differences in code bases can be merged to one or the other or both. That's a good thing cause any improvements can be had by the other.
  • by Xpilot (117961) on Monday February 07, 2005 @09:21AM (#11595637) Homepage
    The first kind is where each version of the software is slightly different, yet ABI compatible with one another. That's what the Linux kernel is, and Linus and co. have tried hard to maintain this. In essence, every time a developer sets up his own tree, it's a "fork" of the Linux kernel, but that's ok because binary compatibility is still maintained, and those changes will probably be merged back upstream anyway. Good news all round.

    The second kind is where a substantial group of developers get into a messy political argument and take the codebase in a wildly different direction and becomes a new project in itself. This isn't necessarily a bad thing either, as you'll see cross-pollination between projects (like in the BSD's). However this may be what the FUD-mongerers are hinting at. I have yet to see any signs that this will happen though - it's downright impractical to fork the Linux kernel in a wildly incompatible fashion with the rest of the developer community - for one thing, there's a whole shitload of drivers you now have to maintain yourself. Not an easy job.

    As for distros being different...well it's always been this way. Yet Linux's growth has been phenomenal, and with efforts like the LSB in place you won't find that distros diverge too far from one another.

    Things look bright for Linux, any way you go. Don't listen to the FUD mongerers.

    • I swear I read this post on slashdot (and/or possibly elsewhere) a couple years ago the last time the topic of the kernel forking came up. Did you steal it from someone else, or was it your post originally?
  • by bigtallmofo (695287) on Monday February 07, 2005 @09:25AM (#11595655)
    Linux developers need more spooning.

  • frame the issue (Score:2, Insightful)

    by stallard (747036)
    You know, I've started to noticed a very strong similarity between the open source movement and the progressive political movement. Both tend to just react to attacts, are not proactive, and faile to frame the debate into their own words. Thankfully for politics, the progressive movement has picked up on this and is working to change it. The open source folk can learn a thing or two from this. However, issue framing is a bit too complex for a comment post so I recommend that all of you go out and read "Do
  • by ch-chuck (9622) on Monday February 07, 2005 @09:35AM (#11595714) Homepage
    Funny how someone who talks a lot about the software 'ecosystem' wants customers to invest in this one dinosaur - instead of being amazed at the natural process of species differentiation and survival of the fittest.

  • by bernywork (57298) * <bstapletonNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday February 07, 2005 @09:35AM (#11595717) Journal
    I think this is brillant, couldn't have come from a more knowledgable person at a better time. Especially given that in the past day or two a nice little article got published up on Groklaw about the SMB / CIFS protocol and what legnths they have to go to, to reverse engineer / pull it apart on the wire. It's essentially a slightly intelligent brute force method.

    Take a look. I couldn't have made the timing for this article any better if I tried.

    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=200502050 10415933 [groklaw.net]

    I second Tridge's motion that when Microsoft really wants to come to the party on interoperability, let me know. I want to be there.

    Personally, I think the major reason why they are going through what they are doing for interoperability now, it's all because of market pressure with the rise of open source, and the open standards which it follows. See what's happening with all the governments demanding open standards for documents etc?

    *sigh* when will they learn?

  • Bill Gates telling the open source world how to run their business is like Jenna Jameson teaching a class on abstinence.
  • What about win 2003 server, win xp home/pro, windows 2000 advanced server, clustered server, etc.? I guess all of those are really the same thing, so we should just all buy the cheapest one and never look elsewhere within M$'s world for something with a different codebase of any kind.
  • by Sheepdot (211478) on Monday February 07, 2005 @09:43AM (#11595772) Journal
    Yes, MS might create a lot of fear, uncertainty, and doubt, but how do you explain this?

    We *could* die. [slashdot.org]

    We *should* die. [slashdot.org]

    We *will* die. [slashdot.org]

    We *won't* die. [slashdot.org]

    It even kind of has the air of: "Jeez, were you dumb enough to fall for that?"

    Ever since all that hoopla about MN 2004, it's hard for me to read the word "FUD" on the front page of Slashdot and not giggle.

  • by scorp1us (235526) on Monday February 07, 2005 @09:43AM (#11595776) Journal
    Forking creates a micro-market with micro competition. Software evolution is completely analygous (sp) to biological evolution. You have to have micro forking (microevolution) in order to evolve. Then the best traits are selected and carried on. Following the thoery of "punctuated equilibrium", those which have micro-evolved traits that are of significant advantage will be picked up by the others then the population of' those with the traits will explode. It is Natures way. No point in fighting it.

    In IT though maintaining many microlines is viewed as a bad thing, unlike with biological life where things maintain themsleves. This is where the FUD really is. But one should realize that it need not be a big concern if the developers take that concern into account. An example of how to mitigate this is to use XML for settings. Any microline specific sub-tree of settings need not interfere and is only used by the microline.

    HOWEVER this is an area where OSS has been deficient. Backwards-compatibility is not a highlight of OSS. OSS has gotten better, but even as recently as a year ago it was the policy of Mozilla to have the user manually do a uninstall before an upgrade. Such annoyances contribute to the magnitude of fear. What is more, backwards compatiblity policies vary from project to project. I do expect this to get better, and it has notten a lot better.

  • Why Fight FUD? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by md17 (68506) <james AT jamesward DOT org> on Monday February 07, 2005 @09:46AM (#11595799) Homepage
    I can't understand why Linux and F/OSS zealots waste time fighting FUD. It seems like a waste to me. All the time that is spent playing politics could be spent improving software and fighting FUD with the truth... Better software. Any person with half a brain knows that Microsoft, Sun, insert any corporation, will lie (or stretch the truth) in order to make their stuff look better than their competitors. So why fight it? IMHO there are many other more important battles to fight... Like better F/OSS software, better documentation, software patents, etc. It's weird how politics has this way of sucking people in. My self included.
    • All the time that is spent playing politics could be spent...fighting FUD with the truth

      Yeah, 'cause that worked sooo well for progressives in the last election...
  • by jonwil (467024) on Monday February 07, 2005 @09:48AM (#11595807)
    The difference between MS, Unix and other propriatory systems and Linux & OSS when it comes to forking is that linux "forks" (such as the kernels that most distros ship) are compatible and indeed pretty much every "fork" or variant of an OSS program has tried to remain compatible (i.e. the kernel remains compatible with all linux apps except mabie those that talk to the kernel directly like kernel modules and drivers and so on)

    And programs like Apache, OpenSSL, OpenSSH and others are based on standards.

    On the other hand when Microsoft and other propriatory software vendors make forks, they are often incompatible by design.

  • by JeffTL (667728) on Monday February 07, 2005 @10:14AM (#11595954)
    I think a serious Linux fork would be no problem at all, thanks to the GPL. If it had features the official kernel lacked -- an almost certain proposition -- we can assume that these features would get eventually merged in. Of course, worst case scenario most Linux software can also run on BSD.
  • Get forked! (Score:2, Funny)

    by dirtyforker (844960)
    Perhaps it's Bill himself who should get forked.
  • First (Score:3, Interesting)

    by miracle69 (34841) on Monday February 07, 2005 @10:24AM (#11596017)
    they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they attack you, then you win. - Gandhi

    We're in phase 3...
  • The catholic and episcopal churches are going through this now and they are essentially playing the role of Microsoft.

    The catholic and episcopal churches (claiming to be the original church) are warning against a break in the church - saying it dilutes the congregation. They are threatening parishes with lease termination. Microsoft also claims that that some distributions are totally against many standards and warns of their "communististic nature" - just as the catholic churches complain about the protes
  • Joel on software talked about this long time ago:

    http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog000000 00 49.html

    I'm sorry, using verbose protocol to make everything portable isn't the way, thanks.
    my 2c.
  • Reality of forking (Score:3, Interesting)

    by canuck57 (662392) on Monday February 07, 2005 @10:30AM (#11596069)

    ...as more and more vendors get behind the OS, commercial pressures will lead to fragmentation, and users end up stuck with an isolated Linux distribution.

    I must be missing the M$ point as software forks all the time. Did not Winodws NT 3.5 fork from Windows 3.11 ? Are not users of Windows NT 3.x user long since faced this same issue? I don't believe Microsoft nor Linux could release a new version without a fork... but Linux being POSIX and having source code can in fact address most of the issues by re-compiling and re-installing.

    But if the point is Linux could fork to a different group supporting it, this is a plus. It prevents a monopoly and the associated costs with it. It also allows distributions to evolve to what the market wants, and not marketing letting us know what we want.

    For example, I was using a very old version of Linux, stable but needed to upgrade. I ended up going to a different distro as it was nicely tailered towards the desktop and it was destined for my laptop. The switch was painless.

  • I'd rather have forking Linux than be totally forked by Microsoft.
  • I've spent the last several days trying to figure out how to let my users update their sites on a WebDAV-enabled Apache server using Microsoft Web Folders. Microsoft's implementation of client side WebDAV in Windows 2000 (and probably others) is really only compatible with their own IIS DAV module. It does things that are not RFC-compliant and that break when you try to upload to a RFC-compliant DAV module.

    Microsoft isn't interoperable with anything but their own software, so why should we try to interpope
  • Interoperable (Score:3, Interesting)

    by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Monday February 07, 2005 @11:20AM (#11596499) Journal
    I can run many Windows applications from around 1995 on my Windows XP box. Games often fail because they use the hardware directly - but I have a near 100% success rate with non-game apps.

    If I attempt to run a Linux application from 1995 on a modern Linux distro I generally get errors about missing libraries. In fact, trying to run apps just a few years old on a Linux box is often fraught with difficulty. I can often get it to run in the end - though not always.

    Microsoft have had a fairly consistent set of APIs over the last decade. I really can't say the same about Linux - expecially the UI libraries.

    • All right, let's put the shoe on the other foot.

      How easy is it to write C++ programs that use the MS API?

      If a comparison were made between the bugfixes applied to the various Linux userspace libraries and the bugfixes applied to the various MS API libraries, which one would have had a better bugfix/API replacement ratio?

      While backwards compatibility is a Good Thing, retaining an API past its sell-by date only leads to problems when the underlying code needs to be modified.
      • As a user what do I care about these issues? I'm just happy if I can run my old applications.

        Also, what MS API difficulties are you talking about? I've found many things just as hard or easy on both platforms. One thing I did have difficulty with was MFC - it seems kinda disorganised and unorthogonal compared to the X toolkits I've used. But much other stuff is the same: eg. grabbing a surface suitable for 3D rendering, without relying on an easy cross-platform library like GLUT, is just as horrible on bo

  • the FUD Bill Gates could make, after dealing for years with an angry anti-Microsoft community, about the same community's ability to create (and get approved for publication) extremely long and antiinteroperable sentences.

  • Don't call it FUD. If you think a man is a liar, call him a liar.
  • People concerned about "forking" neglect to take into account that forking doesn't mean less support for each fork. Once they get large enough, projects can fork in order to accomodate the needs of a new user community. That doesn't mean that people get left with a less supported option. Open source projects have the sizes and features that their user communities demand. If enough people want to keep using a piece of software that's 20 years old, then that piece of software is going to keep getting used.
  • Propoganda (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gone.fishing (213219) on Monday February 07, 2005 @01:42PM (#11598134) Journal
    FUD, in all of it's manifestations is a sort of propoganda that can be easily equated to the negitive political ads that we in the United States see every time there is an election. When it comes to talking about all of the confusion that forking creates, it probably should be fought with answers that are real, simple, and above all logical.

    Forking is a system that mimics "natural selection." When two camps have differing ideas they are both welcome to try it, whoever comes out with the "better" product is the "winner." The weaker of the two products may either "die on the vine" or continue to exist for those people who need the feature's it offers. If it dies, then the product that is being offered is clearly better. If both products continue to exist, then the user has more choices. Either way, the end user wins.

    Most of today's modern automobiles have grown from "forks" of the original designs. There is no real reason why they have four wheels and symetric design other than that is what people favor. They have their humble starts with the Ford Model "T" and a few of it's fore-runners. Nobody complains that today, we have too much choice! Why is software any different?

    In nature, we see that mono-cultures are almost always vunerable to some outside threat. Sadly, with the pervasivness of Microsoft Windows, we can see that the virtual world is also close to being a mono-culture. Is it any suprize that this operating system's vunerabilities have made things like viruses, trojans, spyware and other vunerabilities so wide-spread (and so dangerous)?

    Forking is healthy. It works like natural evolution to both strengthen and diversify. It gives choice, and advances software's strengths and brings out it's weaknesses allowing developers to fix and improve. These are all good things!
  • Otherwise, I doubt that people would push the LSB2.0 as strongly as they are now.

    Let's hope their efforts bring us the fruit that finally crushes down Microsoft's evil.

One man's constant is another man's variable. -- A.J. Perlis

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