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ESR's Desktop Linux 2008 Deadline 535

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the might-be-a-couple-years-late dept.
jesboat noted Eric S. Raymond and Rob Landley's essay about what the Linux community must do to achieve dominance entitled "World Domination 201". It says "Idealism about open formats will not solve our multimedia problem in time; in fact, getting stuck on either belief in the technical superiority of open source or free-software purism guarantees we will lose. The remaining problems aren't technical ones, and none of the interesting patents will expire before the end of 2008. We've got to ship something that works now. If we let this be a blocking issue preventing overall Linux adoption during the transition window, we won't have the userbase to demand changes in the laws to untangle the screwed up patent system, or even prevent it from getting worse. It's a chicken and egg problem, demanding a workaround until a permanent solution can be achieved. We can't set the standards until after we take over the world."
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ESR's Desktop Linux 2008 Deadline

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 24, 2006 @11:16AM (#17353576)
    "Idealism about open formats will not solve our multimedia problem in time"

    We can have an Open Source Desktop if we just don't make it Open Source! Brilliant!
    • Brain: "Just remember, in order to take over the world -- you have to be brilliant. What better way than turning Open Source into Open-Shut Source? Hmmmm and that's what the OSS could truly end up standing for! (We just won't tell them.)"

    • what the Linux community must do to achieve dominance

      Uhh, if Linux achieves world dominance, then wouldn't it necessarily follow that Open Source would be evil?

      And then Microsoft would be good?

      Or maybe I just don't have a proper grasp of the Flemingian eschatology of 007, MI5, and SPECTRE.

    • by OriginalArlen (726444) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @01:12PM (#17354216)

      getting stuck on belief in [...] free-software purism guarantees we will lose.

      Staying Free is a guaranteed way to lose? Tell me more, you seem to have invented a fascinating new branch of logic, cos it seems to me that if you are forced to use non-Free software (or hardware), you have already lost.

      We've got to ship something that works now.
      For a given value of "works", where 'works' is defined as meeting requirements. My first requirement as a software user is that doesn't steal my freedoms to share, copy, study, modify, redistribute (etc) it. If I can't do that with it, it's not working. There's a saying about he who would swap eye-candy for essential freedoms deserving neither. (Danny O'Brien I think that was.)
      • by Planesdragon (210349) <slashdot.castlesteelstone@us> on Sunday December 24, 2006 @01:44PM (#17354432) Homepage Journal
        Staying Free is a guaranteed way to lose? Tell me more, you seem to have invented a fascinating new branch of logic, cos it seems to me that if you are forced to use non-Free software (or hardware), you have already lost.

        Yes, exactly. Right now, OSS is losing because of the focus on free formats, among other things.

        Free Software must be able to read the not-open format, or it's useless. And useless software never becomes prevalent enough to take hold and start dictating formats.
    • The alternatives are more likely:

      1. Suck it up and pay the license fee for the technology of interest.

      2. Suck it up, and put some effort in to optimizing an on-the-fly translator from closed to open (MP3->Ogg, for instance). If new Macs can emulate PPC systems, and PPC-BSD can pretend to be System-7/68030s, this should be insurmountable.

      3. Become a digital biker gang, and just ship the patented technology, licensed or not.

      4. Admit that while world domination sounds good in theory, once you'r
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by buddyglass (925859)
      Did you read the whole thing? The crux of his argument is that Linux would only need to compomise in the short term. Once it gained a large enough userbase, it would be able to pressure companies to release open source drivers. At least, that's how I read it.
  • H.264 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TheSHAD0W (258774) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @11:19AM (#17353592) Homepage
    So... Why did Adobe use H.264 for Flash's codec, considering its patent burden? How much in royalties are THEY paying? Is it really that much better than the OGM codec?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If by "OGM codec" you mean Theora [theora.org] I think the answer is yes, H.264 is still vastly superior in terms of a visual quality to size trade off. When people see a Flash video they expect it to play instantaneously so bandwidth matters.
    • by 2nd Post! (213333)
      Maybe because H.264 offers good compression and video quality while OGM [wikipedia.org] is only a container format? What you are looking for, instead, is Theora [wikipedia.org].

      As an aside, H.264 will play in Windows, Mac, iPods, PSPs, and quite a few cell phones.
    • They know that open source projects CAN'T pay the royalties. This keeps us out.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mad.frog (525085)
      Why did Adobe use H.264 for Flash's codec,

      It doesn't.

      Flash 6 introduced the Sorenson Spark codec that was essentially a variant of H.263 (not H.264).

      Flash 8 added support for On2 VP6, a proprietary codec.

      H.264 is not presently supported by Flash.
  • by Speare (84249) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @11:20AM (#17353600) Homepage Journal

    Like a college course? WD201? It's just like ESR to post something so sophomoric as this.

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @11:20AM (#17353604)
    Ease of installation. Be it drivers that manufacturers don't bother providing for Linux, or applications that require configuring as root, etc... But the problem of drivers aside, there's a fundamental clash between ease of installation (i.e. something grandma can figure out herself) and security: if you make Linux as easy to use as Windows, then you need to discard the root/user distinction, and that would make Linux as bad as Windows. Yes, I know Windows has a superuser/normal user distinction too, but grandma doesn't use it, and those who do know it's a pain.

    The real solution to make Linux more mainstream is to make users more computer litterate. That sort of plan is a 10 year plan at the very least, and requires educating people at school about basic computer security, and the dangers of being a computer idiot. No amount of tweaking will make a good secure OS an easy one.
    • by Kjella (173770) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @12:02PM (#17353776) Homepage
      The real solution to make Linux more mainstream is to make users more computer litterate.

      Good choice of word to misspell. Besides that, "people" in general want to use whatever everyone else is using, they want to use whatever brand name apps they've heard about and most of all, they want it simple. Every company in every line of business wish their customers were better informed and better trained, it's not going to happen. You can teach a monkey new tricks (like that the Intarnets is now the fiery fox, not the blue e) but most people don't want to become "computer literate". Not even the modern kids who MSN all day want to be "computer literate" in the way you think of it.

      Want to make inroads:
      1. Corporate workstations. That means in particular
      a. Exchange replacement
      b. Policy management like Active Directory
      c. Heavy compatibility work with MS Office

      2. Educational facilities
      a. Get Linux labs, dual-booting machines
      b. Deploy Firefox, OpenOffice etc. as alternatives on all desktops
      c. Make sure all internal systems are platform-independent

      3. "Family management"
      a. More shades between "root" and "user". Waaay too often I get asked for the root password for things I'd like to delegate, but not give away total control. Linux is great when you're either one person or administering a bunch of people that only get approved applications, inbetween is not that great.
      b. Security updates that really are without question, so you could set them up to install automatically. I really like apt-get and all, but it annoys me that I don't know if I'll get asked about some config file where the defaults have changed or whtaever.
      c. Somewhere to put "common documents" that is somewhat standard and sane. Everybody has their home dir like "My documents", it's not difficult to fix but it's always a custom dir with custom links, don't people have like general data that's shared with all users?

      Gamers and people that rely on support lines or local tech shops just aren't cases you'll win. There's so many quirks in changing to Linux, it just gets too expensive to pay for it (and these aren't the people to search online forums). You need someone with Linux sklil in the company, institution or family. To think that any significant share will put in a k/ubuntu CD and install it by themselves, is dreaming.
      • by Simon80 (874052)
        a. More shades between "root" and "user". Waaay too often I get asked for the root password for things I'd like to delegate, but not give away total control. Linux is great when you're either one person or administering a bunch of people that only get approved applications, inbetween is not that great.
        We have that, it's called sudo. The config file documentation is a bit confusing, but there are understandable tutorials online.
    • by compm375 (847701) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @12:05PM (#17353794)
      The problem is not ease of installation nearly as much as it not being preinstalled on many computers. Most Linux installation processes are pretty easy, maybe even easier than a Windows installation, but the average user doesn't do a Windows installation either - it is preinstalled. What we need is either a bunch of OEMs cooperating, or some kind of effort to install Linux on people's computers for them.
    • by nurb432 (527695)
      Forgetting the driver issue ( which is a whole different discussion ), modern distributions are not that hard to install if you want to choose a full disk install. ( dual boot isnt for 'ease of install' )

      Boot the cd, press a couple of ok buttons and when its done you have a desktop.

      Usability now that its installed, well that is another topic.
    • I don't think the real problem of Linux is the difficulty of installation. Windows is not always straightforward to install either, but for most people it's either done before they get the machine or they get a techie friend to help. It's no biggie.

      IMHO, the real problem with Linux is simply a shortage of high-quality applications. This is not intended as a slight against any particular application, and it's certainly not a statement that there are no high-quality applications. But let's be fair: Linux ha

      • by Decaff (42676)
        But let's be fair: Linux has, as yet, no answer to MS Office at work, and no answer to the range of games available for Windows and/or the latest generation of consoles at home.

        I agree about the home software range, but it is simply not true that there is no answer to MS Office. I have been involved in supporting a medium sized business that has been using Open Office for years. There have been few problems (certainly no more problems that we used to have with MS Office). Compatibility with MS Office isn
        • I agree about the home software range, but it is simply not true that there is no answer to MS Office.

          Sorry, but for many, many businesses, that really is true. OpenOffice is nowhere near up to the job. If all you do is fairly trivial documents, sure, Writer is OK. But OO has numerous weaknesses. What we need is something better than MS Office, a "killer app" for Linux. A close-approximation with a somewhat lower price tag isn't worth much in this game.

          Such an MS Office-beater isn't hard to conceive.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Decaff (42676)
            Meanwhile, reliability problems with import/export of .DOC files, the underpowered Calc that can't keep up with Excel, the lack of anything to compete head-to-head with Outlook, and several other serious concerns will prevent most/all mid- and large-sized businesses moving to OO any time soon. It's just not ready for the big time yet, like so many other OSS applications, and this is exactly my point.

            I just don't accept this; I have been supporting businesses using Open Office for a long time, and haven't e
    • by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Sunday December 24, 2006 @12:40PM (#17353996) Homepage
      ### Ease of installation.

      I am sorry, but that is just bullshit. Linux has been extremely easy to install for years, it also happens to be a heck of a lot easier to install then Windows and lets not forget we have LiveCDs, so giving Linux a quick try is among the most trivial things you can do. Beside from that, installation is totally overrated, you do it like once in a lifetime and then never ever again, if you have trouble with it, find a friend that helps with it. Installation is a pretty much solved problem, with repartitioning being the only thing that requires some thinking.

      The real problem isn't installation, but maintaining an Linux, simply things as installing a piece of software you have seen on a webpage can be extremely hard and time consuming, even for somebody with 10+ years of Linux experience, for your grandma such things are simply totally out of reach. Sure we have apt-get and friends, but those help absolutely nothing if a piece of software isn't in your distribution, which kind of is always the case with new software. Unless that changes and software installation becomes a no-brainer, Linux won't stand much a chance in the mass market.

      And speaking about security, that one is totally overrated as well. On a desktop computer there is only one account that matters and that is the one of the user using it, lets call it juser. If root or jusers account is compromised doesn't make a difference, since in *both* cases the intruder has full access to everything that matters anyway. If there is something I really don't care about on my Linux then its /bin, /usr, /var and all those other root-write only directories that have absolutely nothing of valuable data, since it comes straight from the distribution CD and is trivial to recover, if /home/juser/ on the other side says bye-bye and you don't have a recent backup, then you can really be in trouble. On large multi-user installations things look different, but on your average desktop that whole root/user separation doesn't provide much benefit at all. That of course doesn't mean we should get rid of it, but you don't really need much more then a password-less sudo.

      ### The real solution to make Linux more mainstream is to make users more computer litterate.

      Good luck trying that, it won't work, ever. The simple reason for that is that computers simply don't make sense. You can teach a person math, because math makes sense and is logic, but handling a computers relies in very large part simply on learning the quicks of its broken software, on Linux just the same as everywhere else. So knowledge from 5 years ago can be totally useless today, lots of computer knowledge is already worthless after a year. Computers simply don't make sense and it requires just way to much time for the average person to learn all the quirks and workarounds. The solution to all this is to simply *fix* all those quirks and bugs so that they never ever touch the users desktop. There simply isn't a logical reason why installing a tar.gz requires me to manually track down dependencies, why there is no undelete and why changing the mouse speed requires editing Xorg.conf while changing mouse acceleration does not, its just bugs and history that made the software the way it is today, there is no logical design principle behind all this. Simply fix it and don't try to teach the user why your software is broken and how to work around it, just a waste of time.

    • by UbuntuDupe (970646) * on Sunday December 24, 2006 @12:46PM (#17354040) Journal
      If that's the problem, here's a crazy idea:

      Market PC's with Linux already installed and ready to start.

      Hire a real marketing team. Put it where the masses will see it.

      Oh, you mean that take real money and business expertise? Ah, dammit, so *that's* why they charge for software! I *knew* there was a reason behind it!
    • The real solution to make Linux more mainstream is to make users more computer litterate. That sort of plan is a 10 year plan at the very least, and requires educating people at school about basic computer security, and the dangers of being a computer idiot. No amount of tweaking will make a good secure OS an easy one.

      Make this part of the No Child Left Behind act... so that it's one more freaking standardized test my kid can take instead of actually learning something.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      That sort of plan is a 10 year plan at the very least, and requires educating people at school about basic computer security, and the dangers of being a computer idiot.

      You don't think schools have enough to teach people already? (Clue: Look at the literacy levels and mathematical skills of the average school leaver.)

      You can never make a computer 100% secure, because there will always be people who tell others their password. Every time you raise the game, there will still be someone at the bottom who'

    • by NorbrookC (674063)

      The real solution to make Linux more mainstream is to make users more computer litterate.

      Leaving aside the spelling miscue :-), you're not asking for computer literacy, you're asking for Linux literacy. There's been a god-awful amount of $$ pumped into the educational system over the past 15 years to develop "computer literacy." You can't go into any school system without seeing computers these days, and quite a large percentage of people have computers in their home. Are they computer literate? In

    • Who is this mythical Grandma I keep hearing about? The Grandma I know best (my mother) doesn't even understand how the TV works never mind Windows.
      Most of the grandmas (and people in general) I know find Windows as comprehensible as hieroglyphics. Windows useability is a long long way away from being good enough for Grandma.
      Stop holding it up as some kind of holy grail. Windows is not intuitive it's merely familiar and there's a massive difference between the former and the latter.
      As soon as it does some
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by aauu (46157)

      Making more people computer literate is not the solution.

      This is like solving societies problems as follows:

      • Healthcare with more medically literate people
        How many medical journals do you read? How much biochemistry and anatomy do you know? or want to know?
      • Automotive transportation with more mechanically literate people
        Most likely a skilled automatic transmission mechanic outearns you. The work is more physically demandng than computer work.
      • Energy distribution with more electrically literate people
        Can yo
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jcr (53032)
      Not just installation. From TFA:

      When somebody with a degree in finance or architecture or can grab a Linux laptop and watch episodes of The Daily Show off of Comedy Central's website without a bearded Linux geek walking them through an elaborate hand-configuration process first, maybe we'll have a prayer.

      People use Windows because (believe it or not), for all its faults, it's easier to use than Linux.

      The real solution to make Linux more mainstream is to make users more computer litterate.

      NO!

      Way to miss th
  • by Slithe (894946) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @11:21AM (#17353610) Homepage Journal
    He has not posted anything in his blog [ibiblio.org] for six months!
  • Oh good grief (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JohnFluxx (413620)
    How exactly can Linux lose? It's getting better all the time. It can't go bankrupt, it can't be taken over, it can't be bought out.

    You could argue it might gain more marketshare if we 'relax' our ideals and principles, but so what? We aren't going to lose linux or anything if we don't.
    • Re:Oh good grief (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Pecisk (688001) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @11:51AM (#17353720)
      We can be sued out of market.

      Enough said. And seeing what actually happens in US IT court rooms, I fully agree this time with ESR.
      • We can also boycott whoever tries that on Free Software. Computer literate persons know already why attacking OSS is a vile act. It's not like SCO got very much sought after.

        As for the topic: ESR has some valid points but hey, it's Free Software. Those who agree with him can taint their stack no problem. I live perfectly well with free formats and can help on free areas without hampering the ESR party in any way.

        The objection i can do to ESR is: if one looks beyond the FUD, Linux has been a success so far i
    • by Atzanteol (99067)
      This is an idea that struck me a long time ago ('98ish). Since Linux does not 'compete' per se, it cannot lose. At least not in the traditional way.

      I''m not sure things 'need' to be done within a time period as ESR seems to believe. The steady march of FLOSS is what's kept it alive and growing so far and I don't think that'll change.

    • by westlake (615356)
      How exactly can Linux lose? It's getting better all the time. It can't go bankrupt, it can't be taken over, it can't be bought out.

      Linux can be ignored. Linux can go unfunded.

      The Mozilla Foundation. OpenOffice.org.

      What happens when Big Daddy Warbucks stops paying the bills?

      ---at least for the Linux port?

      You want to scratch an itch? Go right ahead.

      But, if you want to make a living in this game, at some point you have to start thinking about market share, allocation of resources.

      You have to make choice

    • I hear what you're saying, but I think you're perhaps a little too confident here.

      As you say, Linux can't be taken over or bought out. It can, however, be crippled and have its credibility destroyed, at which point is no longer matters. It is under threat from patent issues. Ironically, it is also potentially under threat from security issues: governments are going to have to start cracking down on security before the economic damage caused by viruses, spam e-mail and the like gets much worse. You or I mi

  • "Why can't we work out our differences? Why can't we work things out? Little people, why can't we all just get along?"
  • They like to use history is this essay, but backward compatability is by far the biggest factor in the history of desktop operating system software. This essay hardly mentions it, and not in the context of history. The biggest reason Windows 3.1 won was because of its backward compatability with DOS -- and Microsoft never forgot the lesson. Dos -> Win3.1 -> Win 95 -> Win 98 -> NT 3.1 (sort of) -> Win2000 -> XP -> Vista. Microsoft gives you a relatively smooth glide up the chain so that you don't have to throw away all your existing software -- and hardware. Of course, it's not perfect, but it's sure better than throwing away everything to move to Linux or a Mac.

    • by jalefkowit (101585) <jason AT jasonlefkowitz DOT net> on Sunday December 24, 2006 @12:03PM (#17353784) Homepage
      Absolutely correct. You can, in fact, download the original version of VisiCalc [bricklin.com] -- the original spreadsheet program, released for MS-DOS in 1981 -- and run it, unmodified, in Windows XP.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        You can, in fact, download the original version of VisiCalc -- the original spreadsheet program, released for MS-DOS in 1981 -- and run it, unmodified, in DOSEMU under any version of Linux you feel like.
      • by Nasarius (593729)
        Uh, okay. Now try running a few older games, which tend to do more complicated things than simple spreadsheet apps. You can forget about most DOS games. Windows 95/98 games are even more dodgy. If you're lucky, there game developer has released an XP compatibility patch that you can apply, which sometimes makes it work.

        Windows Vista has expanded the incompatibility problem to include applications, as well. Try running Nero or TortoiseSVN. Try installing MS Visual Studio 2005, clicking OK on the huge inco
    • They like to use history is this essay, but backward compatability is by far the biggest factor in the history of desktop operating system software.

      I've seen several people now switching to Macs, two of them in a work environment where I would presume you'd find the most serious problems with backwards compatibility. They're doing fine. Most of what people are doing nowadays is web-oriented.

      Anyway, you may be right, but I suspect by far the biggest things which keeps the Windows monopoly going ar

      • and threatened loss of marketing money kickbacks made by Microsoft against any company that dares to ship a computer without Windows on it.

        Dell already sells computers without Windows on it. Why does hardly anyone choose to get it? Because very, very, very few people want it. So, Dell notwithstanding, why would companies go through the hassle of selling something that people aren't demanding in any sort of great numbers?

        • by Richard W.M. Jones (591125) <<rich> <at> <annexia.org>> on Sunday December 24, 2006 @02:10PM (#17354608) Homepage

          Dell already sells computers without Windows on it. Why does hardly anyone choose to get it? Because very, very, very few people want it.

          I think that's got a lot more to do with the fact that Dell hides their Linux offerings on the site, and even if you do manage to find them, you'll have to buy in large quantities before they'll sell you them.

          Wake me up when Dell has a drop down "operating system" saying

          • Windows
          • Linux (-$50)
          • None (-$55)

          on each and every page where they sell PCs. At the moment, the "choice" (if you can call it such) is XP or XP Professional.

          Rich.

    • by MrHanky (141717)
      Correct. But it's also why Windows is so full of cruft, and why so many useful features are unused (running as Administrator is an obvious example). OTOH, Word managed to take over without Word Perfect compatibility (largely because WP was useless on Windows 3.x until most of the demand was gone), while being a worse program. I think we should be happy if we can get good programs that value our freedom and our ownership of our own data, and don't play ridiculous games of Domination -- which result in no goo
      • OTOH, Word managed to take over without Word Perfect compatibility (largely because WP was useless on Windows 3.x until most of the demand was gone), while being a worse program.

        I have to disagree with you there. I was a total WP bigot, until WP 6.0, which was so brain damaged that I was forced to switch to Word. Once I got used to it, Word was so superior it wasn't even funny. My biggest revelation was realizing that WP's "Reveal Codes" function was actually a symptom of WP's design being brain damaged

        • My biggest revelation was realizing that WP's "Reveal Codes" function was actually a symptom of WP's design being brain damaged. One shouldn't need Reveal Codes to see why your document is fubar.

          Unless you were using WP on DOS where you didn't have a WYSIWYG display. "Reveal Codes" was in the Windows version of WP simply because so many people were coming from DOS and were used to it, but I agree that it's largely unnecessary now.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by BobKagy (25820)
      They do mention this in the article. They also think that Wine is coming along nicely and will allow Linux to provide the same level of backward compatibility that Win64 will. In part they expect the experience to be similar because there are signs backwards compatibility in Win64 isn't/won't be as perfect as it has been in the past.

      They've got me convinced that the insurmountable problem is multimedia support is now an essential part of the desktop, and it is illegal to distribute a Linux desktop with fu
  • Finally (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pecisk (688001) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @11:59AM (#17353752)
    Finally someone of our leaders said what was needed to say - we need to get serious market share, period. No buts, no whys. If you don't get it, you never will be serious about IT, seriously. Because IT don't need only stuff that works now, but which also have serious legacy and support. Don't like it? You bet it, no one likes it, but it is REAL LIFE. Not some dreaming about John Lennon vision of the world, yes, we can try to achieve that, but let's be honest here - we need wilder strategy and understanding about politics here. We need seek out how to get people to our side. For example, I can say honestly that if someone would tried to push me to use FLAC or Ogg instead of allowing to play mp3s on Linux desktop, then I would definitely said good luck and went to study Macs or something else. Only features open me world of "freedom" and "openess" what I value so much now.

    We should LEARN and EDUCATE people, not try to PUSH them on our side. It will never work.

    This time, ESR got this in the center.

    Happy Christmas everyone, go out, meet your dear ones, be with your family.

    Peter.
    • I use linux because it works.
      Other people use linux because it works.
      Companies (ie google) use linux because it works.

      The software keeps getting better, I file my simple user level bug reports and tweaks to various projects.

      I'm happy with slow incremental progress with few mistakes. End users don't switch their OS because it's better, they switch because they've gotten frustrated with the horrible quality/performance of the one they've got.

      BTW what is this we and leader you talk of. I'm not in your market s
    • Re:Finally (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@nOSpAM.gmail.com> on Sunday December 24, 2006 @12:23PM (#17353896) Homepage
      Finally someone of our leaders

      ESR? A leader? Hahahahahaha....
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jeff DeMaagd (2015)
      I'll third the claim that ESR is not a leader. He's more of a pundit. He has very little open source software to his credit, and the people that tried to use it say it's bad. I think that's more software than Robert X. Cringely has to his credit, but at least Cringely is a little amusing and a little bit educational, I can't say that ESR is either.

      I do think that he may have said what needed to be said. That doesn't make him a leader though.
  • Vista 32-bit? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 24, 2006 @12:01PM (#17353764)

    From TFA:

    Vista is still 32-bit.

    Uhh... no. Vista is available as a native 64-bit OS for x86-64 systems. The kernel is 64-bit, the drivers are 64-bit, and most applications are 64-bit. Is everything 64-bit? No. Is everything on a typical x86-64 Linux distribution 64-bit? No.

  • by Bazman (4849) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @12:16PM (#17353858) Journal
    I'm sure Linus originally talked about World Domination as a joke. A funny. Everyone laughed. He didn't really mean it. ESR means it. And he has guns.

    • ...and the end result will be what usually happens when people without guns stand up to people with guns.

      I hope the Steves have their permits up to date.
  • So, not that I am proposing this, but the last time I read this ESR proposal/item, I wondered if anyone is suggesting a three year mini, tightly restricted exemption to allow ESR's proposal to fly, or is everyone pushing this suggesting that we must give in and grant and unending exemption?

    all the best,

    drew
  • by SoupIsGood Food (1179) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @12:34PM (#17353960)
    Well... first off, it's got nothing to do with Linux. What we're talking about is a user interface that runs on top of X-windows. As such, it will run comfortably on any flavor of BSD or commercial Unix, and even stranger operating systems.

    Second off, we're talking about a vast set of tools. Gnome is nice, KDE is nice, but they're pieces of a larger puzzle that includes X-windowing systems, and all of their assorted tools, drivers, and niceties, window managers, and applications that may or may not be designed to work within the look-and-feel guidelines of anything recognizeable at all. The problem space is way to big for any one person or organization to just decide, "Hey everyone, we're all gonna be doing THIS!"

    Open source software grows and evolves as programmers scratch an itch. You can't crack the whip, as the project will just fork as programmers follow whatever their interest is... commercial, educational, political or just for the hell of coding something neat. It would be nice if everyone could assume a role that's perfectly suited for some master-plan to reach some goal... but they won't. Human nature is in the way.

    Open Source Software is not a place where a single goal achieved by everyone working in unison is possible. Yes, Linux itself is cool... but how many variants, patches and forks of it are out there? Quite a few... people take what they need, and follow their own interest. This is what open source software is about. Even then, there's more than Linux: there are the three (Four... five?) BSD-based operating systems, and things like SkyOS and Haiku, besides.

    In this maelstrom of variation and choice, you want a single standard UI? Not going to happen. What's more, it will likely work against Linux on the desktop rather than for it. Gnome came about because they didn't like KDE, and wanted something with different political and technical goals. KDE came about because the company had a different commercial and technical goal than Motif. Can you imagine how much it would suck if everyone working on KDE and Gnome were forced to work on making a better Motif? We're better off with many projects working for their own ends. Open Source means that the projects cna pick and chose what they like from each other, everyone wins.

    Then there's the issue that Gnustep isn't a part of the discussion, despite being an Open Source re-implementation of the UI Apple uses for Mac OS X... so if the best solution isn't going to "win" anyway, it's pointless whining that the third or fourth best solution isn't getting all the attention. (And, as you've figured out, the order from "best" to "worst" won't be the same for everyone... or even a majority.)

    In the end, it's up to the commercial distro-makers to decide what works for them, and to pay programmers and project leads and software architects to make it happen. The interface for the OLTP project shows how to get it done, and done on a shoestring budget in a tight time constraint.
    • by Junta (36770)

      Well... first off, it's got nothing to do with Linux. What we're talking about is a user interface that runs on top of X-windows. As such, it will run comfortably on any flavor of BSD or commercial Unix, and even stranger operating systems.

      We're talking about something well integrated with the low-level hardware and the GUIs ability to manipulate/work with. If the low level stuff+GUI together do not acheive things like hotplug media management (i.e. flash drives, music players, cameras, etc all auto-plugging), and systems administration task. As an example of this, I use Ubuntu normally. It is a good example of a totally integrated top to bottom desktop system. I install it, it automatically sets up everything. I plug in a flash drive,

    • Actually, I can imagine all of the GNOME and KDE developers being forced to work on Motif, and I get the warm fuzzies when I do. This would have made the past 10 years of trying to port software that had originated on Ultrix, AIX, Irix, etc, so much easier. It would mean that there would be one oversized and somewhat hostile toolkit, but that would be well-understood with adequate documentation. Just being difficult, I'd be happier with a world where the choices are GNUStep or OpenMotif. One for attract
  • MacOSX has the best GUI, hands down. The BSD underpinnings are nice, but Linux has better driver support. So, switch MacOSX from BSD to Linux ;-). Let Linux work out the compatibility with hardware, let Apple run the GUI, and voila, you have your next dominant OS.
  • This is the way we are pushing free software at the Cajun Clickers Computer Club [clickers.org], one of the oldest and largest computer clubs around. As much as I favor 100% free systems, the easiest way to move people is through distributions like Xandros, Mepis and others that include non free "add-ons" that give the user those few things free does not: Flash, and accelerated video. I also highly recommend Parallels to those other nasty little things that are left. It's working too. People who use a combination of

    • SeaMonkey. Ubuntu. Gimp.

      Great applications. Totally unacceptable in corporate settings, just because of their names.

      I would wager adoption rates would double if Open Source apps weren't being named by 7-year-olds.
      • SeaMonkey. Ubuntu. Gimp. Great applications. Totally unacceptable in corporate settings, just because of their names.

        The "best" names are already trademarked, but it does not matter. Just ask IBM, Chrysler, Lowes, and all of the other big companies that have already jumped on the free software bandwagon. Companies that don't jump will face increasing relative IT costs. Money is the language every company understands. What's important to them is that there are free browsers, databases, image manipula

  • Any Fact Checking? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tqbf (59350) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @01:09PM (#17354200) Homepage

    Microsoft made $3.5 billion (net) last quarter alone, and has enough cash on hand to buy a company the size of Home Depot outright.

    Absurd. Home Depot is the second largest retailer in the world, with top-line revenue exceeding $80bn and quarterly gross profits of over $6bn. Microsoft has net tangible assets of only $35bn. HD is in the top 20 of the Fortune 500, Microsoft is #48.

    In the parallel universe of business that ESR inhabits, Microsoft still has more to worry about from HD than the other way around. What other completely obvious things do ESR and his co-author get wrong in this essay?

  • Some technical details like licensing for codecs matter but whether a OS is 32 bit, 64 bit just don't matter. Its cheapens his whole argument by even mentioning this. For a user its: "can I click on this movie to watch it" that matters. Or can I open and edit this document without loss of fidelity.
  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @01:34PM (#17354350) Homepage

    The essay is amusing. Not for its content, but for its format. It starts out with a revision history of all things. Only a dweeb would put that at the beginning of an essay intended for public consumption.

    Then there's the focus on "64 bit". Microsoft and Apple both had 64-bit operating systems, then backed off. (It was surprising that when Apple went from PowerPC to x86, they went to 32-bit x86, even though 64 bit parts were already out. Which meant Apple users would face an unnecessary 32 to 64 bit transition on x86, and Apple would have to deal with annoying dual-mode issues.)

    What does this essay say Linux needs? "Drivers for all existing hardware". "People who buy a new desktop want to plug in their old PCI cards..." Earth to Linux fanatics: 80% of all PCs are never opened in the field during their entire working life. What's important is drivers for what's shipping right now from major hardware vendors.

    "Luckily, Windows more or less stopped being a moving target recently." Haven't looked at what Microsoft wants developers to do for Vista apps, have you? There's a big push by Microsoft to get developers using Microsoft-only technologies embedded in Vista, ones you can't run under Wine because they require non-redistributable DLLS.

    "To attract enough non-technical end users to make the hardware vendors care about us, we need Linux to come preinstalled on PCs in a configuration that just works." Finally, the right answer. But that's a political and legal problem. Vendors don't offer Linux preloads because Microsoft penalizes them if they do, and Ashcroft's Justice Department rolled over on keeping Microsoft from doing that.

    This essay is aimed at making Linux fanatics happy. What it should be aimed at is making low end desktops for office use cheaper. Push on Leonovo to offer something comparable to Red Flag Linux (which they preload for Chinese consumption) for export. Push on WalMart to sell it. The standard low-end business desktop should become Linux. Your call center people don't need Windows.

    This hits Microsoft where it hurts - price pressure. Microsoft wants to charge more for Vista than for XP, and that could be derailed.

  • In order to lead, it is necessary to be out front.

    Trying to open closed source products is all very well, but all that will do is leave Linux trailing behind the front runners.

    It's time for "Linux" to establish some open specifications that replace existing closed specs by being better.

  • I like Eric Raymond. As often as people are annoyed about Raymond's opinion and claiming authority on the Hacker culture, he still remains deep at heart a good analysis. I find that when he is honest in truly dissecting an issue he is more rigorous in his logic than a great german philosopher on a bout of depression. This is the quality of projection and reporting you would only get if you had an expert in the industry working for you only for the satisfaction of making your company successful. I'm only
  • yeah yeah yeah (Score:4, Insightful)

    by argoff (142580) * on Sunday December 24, 2006 @02:13PM (#17354626)
    ESR has been saying that free as in freedom "zealots" are going to hurt Liunux for forever. Well he is still wrong. Because we are free and because we have control, that means that the market is under pressure to cater to us as we grow and expand ... not the other way around. It also means that our growth happenes is spite of proprietary alternatives and inspite of occasional commercial bias against free software. Is is the free nature of Linux that puts pressure on the market to go our way, not corporate idealisim or conformity. Nothing magical about 2008 is going to change that. Nothing magical is going to say "well, the window has passed and now all of a sudden people have no alternative". Yeah, I'm sure he wants to beat Vista to the punch, but that is a personal thing just as is his bias against people who see freedom as the ends and not the means.
  • by mad.frog (525085) <(steven) (at) (crinklink.com)> on Sunday December 24, 2006 @03:40PM (#17355134)
    Lord knows I'm no fan of Vista, but ESR is plain wrong on this one.

    I have a machine running Vista 64 in my cubicle.

    It has weird, funky compatibility issues, yes, but is definitely faster than running Vista-32 on the same hardware.
  • by Laven (102436) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @03:50PM (#17355194)
    https://www.redhat.com/archives/fedora-devel-list/ 2006-April/msg00118.html [redhat.com]
    https://www.redhat.com/archives/fedora-devel-list/ 2006-April/msg00358.html [redhat.com]
    Read about ESR's ridiculous attempts to troll the Fedora Project into violating the GPL and shipping proprietary software. ESR continues his irresponsible crusade. This is NOT in the best long-term interest of the community. Please do not give this "leader" any credence.

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