Articles / Too Much Free Software

Too Much Free Software

The plethora of Free Software applications available today, none working perfectly, is a problem which stands in the way of major adoption of Linux on the desktop. In order to conquer the desktop, we have to stand united.

Too much Free Software? And you thought people were complaining about a lack of applications which makes them stick with Microsoft Windows. Well, they're right. On Linux, there's no decent movie player and no working sound recorder (like the one in Windows 95) shipped as the default by GNOME, but hey, there are more than 385 text editors! Choice is good, but it's frustrating when none of the alternatives works properly.

We have a lot of Free Software alternatives, but because there are so many, they usually remain at a low level of features, as Free Software developers are a limited resource. There are exceptions (GIMP), but they usually have major companies behind them (Open Office, Mozilla) which know what the users want and what to ask from their developers.

We also have a natural selection process which will result in the best software in time. In a lot of time. This would be the best selection if all the software in the world would be Free, but it's not, and we are running out of time. The legality of using some DVD players under Linux is unclear, people are put in prison for writing useful software, and Microsoft makes Palladium and has more than enough money to make it required by law. Soon, we won't even be able to borrow books anymore. Many Web sites require Microsoft Internet Explorer to be usable, including some which are running critical bank and government services.

In order to avoid this, we have to get more users to use Free Software. Non-Internet Explorer users can be safely ignored when they are less than 2% on the Web, but not when they're 50%. So how do we get more people using Free Software? Preaching about it doesn't work with the majority, which has been so dumbed down by the importance of money as not to care for liberty anymore. We could try making Free Software much better than the standard desktop operating system used today, Microsoft Windows, and for this we have to stand united.

As Craig Mundie says, the OSS development model leads to a strong possibility of unhealthy "forking" of a code base, resulting in the development of multiple incompatible versions of programs, weakened interoperability, product instability, and hindering [of] businesses' ability to strategically plan for the future. Microsoft trumpets the lack of choice on their platform as integrated solutions, but that's also what the majority of business and people want (less tech support costs and more advice for newbies who now quite often get "Hmm, I don't know, I don't use that, I use this..."). Choice should not only be limited to two or three options, but all of them should also have a common code base. Some examples:

Desktop Environment.
GNOME and KDE for the majority, Blackbox and Window Maker for modest hardware. The rest are simply wasted time, both for the developers and for users who try them and then delete them in disgust. GNOME and KDE should share more than a window manager specification, such as using GConf for storing preferences, a virtual file system like GnomeVFS, and aRts instead of esd (even if it's through GStreamer). Note that these are underlying technologies; they are not visible to the user, except that everything always works (saving preferences, browsing the network, and playing songs).
Graphical Toolkits
GTK+. That's it. Qt still has licensing problems, being non-Free for commercial applications. Motif, Tcl/Tk, wxWindows? Die! What they have over GTK+ doesn't compare with GTK+'s advantages over them, so instead of religiously sticking with them, help implement those missing features in GTK+. Imagine the joy of commercial software makers who might want to release Linux versions of their software learning only about GTK+ (which they could use for the Windows versions, too) instead of what they hear now. ("Well, there's GTK+, Qt, wxWindows, and others; how about starting with a study of the advantages and disadvantages of each?")
Office suites
Open Office has the most features, but since it requires a lot of resources, there are also GNOME and KDE offices. That should be all the office suites (LyX is in another category). These suites already have the majority of users, and that means more features, fewer bugs, and the rest of the world (e.g., Gobe) ignored, which is great. What's not so great is that there's nothing common between them (except glibc). They should all at least use the Open Office format (which is proposed as a standard) for file saving, and have common filters from/to other formats.
Sound
I don't know exactly what to write here, but it's bad. Hopefully, ALSA will be the only API to access sound devices, OSS will disappear, and maybe there will be only one sound server used by default on all distributions. The API to interface with the sound server will probably still vary (SDL, GStreamer, OpenAL).
Instant messaging
There's Gaim, GnomeICU, Licq, and many more. Gaim has a plugin system which allows the use of all major protocols and, for example, sending messages encrypted with GnuPG (a feature planned to be offered by Yahoo! in an "enterprise" version of their client). Gaim should separate all messaging functionality in UI-independent libraries which could be easily used by other applications (the rest of the instant messaging clients available today, and even your own application developed for the company's internal use).

A good example is Mozilla. There are lots of browsers available for Linux today, but most of them are based on Mozilla. Therefore, they work.

Linux is already winning on the server side. Why? It works! You have a Web server (even named "httpd" on Red Hat), two databases which cover all your needs from low to high end (MySQL and PostgreSQL), three mail servers (Sendmail, qmail, and Postfix), a name server, etc. You don't have "Yan -- Yet Another Nameserver" or "Ans -- Ans's Not Sendmail".

Please stop developing and using some obscure application when there are better alternatives. Not happy with them? Fix what's wrong, or if everything looks wrong, work at separating the functionality into a UI-independent library, then develop your own graphical interface. Reusing and improving existing code, not making your own, is the way. Drop the "not made here" syndrome and your 15 minutes of fame on freshmeat when making the announcement, and unite with the rest of the community. Starting a new project is a good way to learn to develop software, but you can also learn by doing bugfixing, unit testing, and development of new features and optimizations of existing applications. Sourceforge should start removing projects with less than 1% activity for the last six months (every week, they could propose several projects to be removed, and allow a month for the activity to increase).

Another problem is that major functionality is quite often rewritten from scratch. It's not unusual to see freshmeat announcements like "What's new: completely rewritten". Don't throw away all tested and working code and documentation to start all over again, introducing new bugs which annoy users and waste time. So what if there's a lot of refactoring? It's not bad if it doesn't refactor everything at once. Instead of rewriting everything, split the existing code into modules, make unit tests for them, and, after everything works as before, start rewriting/improving one module at a time. Unit tests are important, and the many eyeballs shouldn't be preferred to these.

Here's looking forward to Linux on the desktop!

References

RSS Recent comments

29 Mar 2003 00:39 tarzeau

GNUstep?
Why do people keep forget GNUstep (freshmeat.net/projects...)?

There's free 3d software like blender (freshmeat.net/projects...). And many more (www.linuks.mine.nu/wor...). It's just about get people to know that the software exists, and get them introduced (www.linuks.mine.nu/irc/) to it.

The number of games is increasing, have you tried noegnud (freshmeat.net/projects...), airstrike (freshmeat.net/projects...) and trackballs (freshmeat.net/projects...), yet?
Let's not forget the old classic games, which probably still alot of you don't know:
Jump n Bump (freshmeat.net/projects...),
Frozen Bubble (freshmeat.net/projects...),
GNU Robbo (freshmeat.net/projects...).

29 Mar 2003 00:47 brainless

What do you mean by "Perfect" ?


I am not so sure about your definition of "too much" in your "too much software" lamentation, but I definitely question your interpretation of "perfect", as what you have put "none working perfectly".

What do you mean by "perfect" ?

Is the "movie player" and/or "sound recorder" that comes with Windows "perfect" ?

I am not using Windows as an excuse, but we gotta face this - Perfect Is In The Eyes Of The Beholder - what you think is NOT perfect, somebody else may think it is.

I do agree with you that many of the open source projects are junk, but that doesn't mean that there aren't any genuine gems out there.

29 Mar 2003 01:07 JanneM2

no...
First a disclaimer: I do agree with most choices you do above; my criticism is not based on that.

Proposing that the community unite around one desktop|editor|sound system|porn tracker is nothing new; people do that from time to time. Focus resources on the top stuff instead of fritting aways scarce devel resources on multiple similar projects. At first blush it sounds like a good idea. It isn't.

What you forget is _why_ people start working on new open software. And that "why" does not have one answer. A few possibilities below:

1. Want to do something from scratch, instead of relying on other people's knowledge and code.

2. Programming assignment at school, where taking code from others is frowned upon, to put it mildly (that's how GIMP started, after all).

3. Personal or philosophical differences with the maintainers of the existing project.

4. Technical differences as to the future direction of an existing project.

5. Because we can.

All of these reasons are relevant, and all of them _will_ cause splintering and duplication of projects. They will also now and again give rise to new, important projects that would not have seen the light of day otherwise. Should the authors of GIMP have thrown their code away at the end of the semester and started contributing patches to Xpaint instead?

What people also tend to forget is that we in practice already do have a concentration of effort. THose projects which become big and used enough to collect a lot of users (such as GNOME and KDE), naturally attract a lot of people bugreporting, sending patches and writing new code for them as well. There may be well over threehundred editors out there, but a reasonable guess is that 90% of all editor developers work on the four or five top projects out there, and most of those editors are worked on only by one person - and that person has his project as a private hobby and is very unlikely to be interested in becoming part of a larger, structured group anyway.

You are trying to tell people that have already conciously elected to be apart from the mainstream projects to please stop that and go with the flow; this is if anything likely to entrench those people even more in their own projects rather than "joining the Borg collective". And apart from this pleading there is really nothing anybody could (or should) do to change this.

/Janne

29 Mar 2003 02:08 wonko

Too many car models
The plethora of car models available today, none working perfectly, is a problem which stands in the way of additional automaker profits. In order to conquer the roads, we have to stand united.

SUV

The only SUV anyone needs is the Humvee. No more Explorer, no more Suburban, the Humvee does everything the rest can do plus more.

Sports Car

It's obvious that the Lamborghini Diablo is the only necessary sports car. Everything else is just a wannabe. If you want a car that looks different, pop a Ferrari body on a Lamborghini chassis. Boom, variation without duplicated effort. Easy as pie.

Family Sedan

The Cadillac has the most features, there's no need for anything else.

Economy Car

The Geo Metro is about as economical as they get. Everything else is too big and guzzles too much gas. Also, screw those newfangled electric hybrids, they're too obscure and there are better alternatives.

Also, everyone should be happy with black paint. It's cheap and it makes repairs easy. If you want another color, too bad, they're not necessary. Here's looking forward to higher automaker profits!

29 Mar 2003 02:23 mandreiana

Author notes
I know the article is quite extreme and preachy. Mike Orr had good comments about it, and I quote him:

"Acknowledge that different users/developers have different goals. Your
opinion is appropriate for those who want to see Linux take over the
desktop. However, most technical developers (most Debian developers, FSF
members) don't care about winning the desktop, they just
want to code stuff *they* want to code, and they bristle when somebody tells
them what *they* should be working on in *their* spare time. Many of these
people like emacs and wouldn't touch a Windows-friendly program with a
10-foot pole."

"I agree with the principle of not forking unnecessarily, and of modularizing your components so
other programs can use them, but one must encourage people to do that, not
shout at them that they must do that and say there's no room for exceptions."

Also see
Proposal for an Open Source Shared Runtime Layer
people.redhat.com/~hp/...

Hub: A Roadmap for a Shareable Runtime
people.redhat.com/~hp/...

29 Mar 2003 02:27 cpchan

no decent movie player and sound recorder
> no decent movie player

Huh, I must be smoking something really good when I
am playing my mov, wmv, asf, avi, rm files, etc with
mplayer. Xine is pretty decent too. As to JWZ, I
paraphase a quote from the mplayer-devel list:

"JWZ, you mean the guy who wrote the most movie
player unfriendly program- Xscreensaver."

> no working sound recorder

I have been using Xsox (win2linux.net/xsox.html)
for years, although now I use Krec (part of KDE
Mutimedia).

29 Mar 2003 02:37 askani

Good intention, bad logic.
Well, you do mean well with your article, but I think that it's misguided and shows that you still should learn more before writing an article like this. For instance:

Graphical Toolkits GTK+. That's it. Qt still has licensing problems, being non-Free for commercial applications.

Mostly false. Qt does not have any licensing problems on GNU/Linux systems. It's GPL. Perfectly available to any project , whether it's commercial or not (or did you mean proprietary instead of commercial (www.fsf.org/philosophy...)?).

Office suites They should all at least use the Open Office format (which is proposed as a standard) for file saving, and have common filters from/to other formats.

Ouch, OO.o is a mess! It once has been said that extracting that functionality into one library from OO.o code would require at least two engineers, familiar with the code, working full time on that for about two months. Plain nuts. There's a very promising library that you should instead aim people to libgsf (ftp.gnome.org/pub/GNOM...)

Sound I don't know exactly what to write here, but it's bad. Hopefully, ALSA will be the only API to access sound devices, (...) The API to interface with the sound server will probably still vary

I may be wrong, but didn't ALSA mix sound sources automagically thus making esd, aRts and the like irrelevant?

Then there's your argument that people should improve existing projects instead of making new ones. Well, maybe you should pay people to do what you think :) Don't take this in the wrong way... what this means is that for some people it may be better to write something from scratch than learning millions of lines of code. A small hack for a certain bug might be simple, but if it's a design flaw, then you certainly won't be able to easily correct it if the project is too big. Some projects, like qmail for instance, offer source code but are fully proprietary, and provide little to no incentive to fix (yes, plain qmail works very well, but if it worked perfectly, why are there so many patches to make it work better?).

And bitching about "completely rewritten projects" is ridiculous. I've done that already. Who are you to judge wheter someone's code is so bad that it's developer thought better and decided to rewrite because he started from a bad logic in the beggining (sounds familiar)?

Yes, you should incentivate people to use Software Livre (Free [as in freedom of speech] Software) based on how they will be Free.

If you say GNU/Linux is plain easier (I believe it is easier than MS Windows, but you get my point), one day another system (a non Free one) may be even easier. If people change, they will be restricted again.

If you say it's almost gratis, MS will offer the licenses (done that before, will do it again).

If you say it's more secure, Bill Gates will public announce huge investments in securing Windows (oops, done that too).

What's left? Technical quality? Another millions will pour in. Get the point already?

Yes, there are hundreds of text editors, but how many really come in a common GNU/Linux distribution? Not many. A couple of them more directed to GUI-less servers, a couple of them for GUIllible people, etc... There's no need to bitch about so many text editors... it's a common school project, and sometimes good ideas might come from there and be incorporated in other text editors.

Well, that's it, mostly. See ya!

29 Mar 2003 03:11 tom7ca

it's not about beating Microsoft or taking over "the" desktop
You should worry about whether Linux takes over your desktop, not anybody else's: that's the open source model. Improve software so that it does what you want, and when everybody does that, we end up with a mix of software that meets everybody's needs. And because lots of different people have lots of different needs, there will be lots of choices. And there may well be needs that aren't met, and those people can pay for commercial software (including Windows or Macintosh, if it makes them happy).

Keep in mind that the Windows business model doesn't optimize Windows for usability, it optimizes it for sales and customer retention at any cost, which are not at all the same thing as usability.

In fact, I think Linux has gone already too far in aping Windows in a misguided attempt to produce something that would appeal to the masses. For example, KDE and Gnome desktops essentially break network transparency, and the redrawing logic in Mozilla and OpenOffice trades negligible improvements for local display against being nearly unusable remotely.

You are also confusing levels: "Linux" and "Windows" aren't equivalent entities. If you compare things, you should compare equivalent things: Linux distributions. And efforts like RedHat do give those people who want it a unified UI experience.

29 Mar 2003 03:26 tom7ca

Re: Good intention, bad logic.

> Mostly false. Qt does not have any
> licensing problems on GNU/Linux systems.
> It's GPL. Perfectly available to any
> project , whether it's commercial or not
> (or did you mean proprietary instead of
> commercial?).

Just because Qt ships with an open source license (GPL) doesn't mean it's a good license for open source projects.

For example, libc on Linux is LGPL; if it had been dual licensed like Qt, then Linux just wouldn't have made it to where it is today. And a toolkit like Qt is about as fundamental to the desktop as libc is to the command line.

Also, the GPL/QPL combination is also effectively incompatible with any license that is is more permissive.

If we didn't have the Gtk+ project, we'd have to start it, because KDE/Qt still doesn't come close to satisfying the requirements for a free, open Linux desktop from a licensing point of view.

29 Mar 2003 03:28 binford2k

ugh
This sounds like the naive opinions I hear all the time from new unix users.

29 Mar 2003 04:59 arvindn

Weird logic

Sourceforge should start removing projects with less than 1% activity for the last six months

You appear to imply that they should do this because

Free Software developers are a limited resource

Developer resources are getting wasted due to projects that nobody is working on??? If that's not a contradiction I have yet to see one.

And that suggestion is a bad idea for other reasons too. Most free software developers do it for fun. Such fascist behavior is perfect for putting people off. A much better way to approach this would be: "companies should sponsoring projects which have high impact and visibility" (of course, there is already a lot of corporate sponsorship of OSS).

And hey, this just occured to me: isn't the activity percentage a percentile? So if they removed the bottom 1%, the next 1% would now become the bottom 1%, and would hence be removed... fun!

Also contentious is your claim that linux succeeds on the server side because there are few competing projects. There appear to be 324 web servers (freshmeat.net/browse/250/), for example.

GTK+. That's it. Qt still has licensing problems, being non-Free for commercial applications.

I can't imagine what you mean by this. That no one should use Qt? But you can't be implying that, since KDE has won your seal of approval in the previous paragraph. And your statement is factually incorrect, because one of the licences of Qt is GPL. You probably meant proprietary applications. And you seem to have succumbed to anti-Qt FUD.

You are right that everyone writing their own app hurts free software in the long run, but I disagree that choice is bad. And some things you suggest are just too extreme.

I agree with some of your other points, though. It would be very good to have sound standardized. And I wholeheartedly agree with jwz's linux-video-sucks rant.

29 Mar 2003 05:11 GoatVomit

Freedom of choice
Part of the fun for me is to check out new software and test if they suit my needs. I never really cared about kde or gnome since all they ever did was clutter the desktop, a simple wm is still sufficient enough. This whole 'unified desktop' idea sounds like an attempt of taking away the freedom of an individual user to choose what ever he or she wants to use. One microsoft is enough thank you.

29 Mar 2003 06:06 scottwheeler

How objective of you...
...being that you're on the Gnome team and all.
;-)

There are several fundamental problems with your
argumentation:

* You assume that the only goal that people have is
to make Free Software more accepted.

* You assume that less people working on one project
means more people working on another.

* You make some very naive technical statements,
and are happy ignoring the details. Some of these are the
stock arguments out of the Gnome camp.

* You assume that you can get a group of people,
who are overwhelmingly doing this because they think it's
cool, to adopt your agenda.

29 Mar 2003 06:20 roniuch

Re: Freedom of choice

> Part of the fun for me is to check out
> new software and test if they suit my
> needs. I never really cared about kde or
> gnome since all they ever did was
> clutter the desktop, a simple wm is
> still sufficient enough. This whole
> 'unified desktop' idea sounds like an
> attempt of taking away the freedom of an
> individual user to choose what ever he
> or she wants to use. One microsoft is
> enough thank you.

I would disagree. You don't have much freedom when 80% of your computer activity has to be devoted to selection and configuration of your 'favourite' programs.

29 Mar 2003 06:22 msameer

not always right
No, I don't like KDE, nor do i like GNOME, but if it's not pekwm then it'll be gnome ;)
Really i think that we need:
* A good mediaplayer "aviplay and mplayer are good but not for all formats"
* A good WORKING encoder/decoder
* A more light weight Web browser "phoenix is OK", and Office Suite!
What's wrong with many text editors ? I use nano, pico, and vim "not to mention my own editor ;)"

Oh my head! I'll never ever leave GNU/Linux even if i didn't find what i want, Hoping for a better tomorrow!

29 Mar 2003 07:03 GoatVomit

Re: Freedom of choice

> I would disagree. You don't have much
> freedom when 80% of your computer
> activity has to be devoted to selection
> and configuration of your 'favourite'
> programs.

Its not 80% and even if it was I'd rather do it than let someone else 'decide' what I should use.

29 Mar 2003 07:40 Luhmann

Browsers
Mozilla is not the basis of all browsers. Apple made significant contributions to KHTML when it built Safari. I now prefer Safari over Camino which is Mozilla based.

I think the answer isn't less software but more support of standards so that people can switch between software without loosing data. If I could switch back and forth between 30 text editors all keeping the same data I wouldn't have any problems. Problems emerge because they all use different ways of encoding the text. If all text editors were based on XML I imagine these problems would lessen, or even dissapear. Similarly, browsers choke because of non-standard Javascript, not because of Xhtml.

The solution is to free the data from the software - not to try to control the software!!!

29 Mar 2003 07:40 Luhmann

Browsers
Mozilla is not the basis of all browsers. Apple made significant contributions to KHTML when it built Safari. I now prefer Safari over Camino which is Mozilla based.

I think the answer isn't less software but more support of standards so that people can switch between software without loosing data. If I could switch back and forth between 30 text editors all keeping the same data I wouldn't have any problems. Problems emerge because they all use different ways of encoding the text. If all text editors were based on XML I imagine these problems would lessen, or even dissapear. Similarly, browsers choke because of non-standard Javascript, not because of Xhtml.

The solution is to free the data from the software - not to try to control the software!!!

29 Mar 2003 07:43 robbyr

Why Linux for the Masses
I linux seeing on the Desktop be not in the compacity that people want

Linux is a great desktop for technical Users and the deserve their our OS , cause that acctualy understand computers

people say that too many choices of applications is keeping Linux off the desktop, yes, but not the only problem, the configuration options of the OS is too great.

I mean the orignial reason people seek a M$ alternative is cause they're smart and tried on computing by some software venders rules.

but the mass user realy doesn't care, they just want stuff to happen magicly.

so how does one make Linux appeal to the masses, without fundulmentaly changing Linux?

29 Mar 2003 08:16 sheister

Too many titles? IMPOSSIBLE
I've been an avid windows user for many, many years now. I have always run linux or BSD on my servers but never as a desktop workstation. Recently I became fed up with Windows and the state of "free" software (actually there only seems to be shareware now, trial versions and shitty VB programs) for that OS and decided to try out BSD on my desktop.

Let me make it perfectly clear that I will never, ever go back to Windows, EVER. When I discover that I need software to accomplish something, like web browsing or audio editing, I simply go and install one of the many titles from the ports collection (freebsd). If I don't like it that's fine, because there are probably six different choices I can try out, and non of them cost any money at all, even if I do like them and decide to keep them on my system. Need a text editor? I need a few of them, not because some of them suck but because some are better suited for different tasks. I have one editor that I think is great for writing PHP code, and another that's better for C++ projects and Java development. If I go to create a new C project today and there's something I don't like about the syntax highlighting, I can just go grab another of the 350 titles out there and give it a whirl, or I can just alter the syntax highlighting code and be on my merry way.

I do miss Windows Media PLayer somewhat, because it was really a no-hassle piece of software, but it ran so slow and always seemed to be connecting to MS servers in order to "check for updates" or install a new codec, which I have always viewed as another chance to send any data they want from my box back to their headquaters.

And how about trust? My main concern when I switched from Windows to an open source OS was that I never really know what code I'm running on my system, especially the MS Windows code itself. I just don't trust it. Windows is constantly connecting to miscrosoft servers and telling me I need updates or trying to get me to install the new media player or my shareware program expired and I'm pretty sure Kazaa and every other freeware/shareware program out there has spyware bundled up inside of it.

I was sick of not knowing. Now I know exactly what is going on with my machine and that I have many options when I need to accomplish a task. Also I don't have to reboot my box, ever. I can change system settings all day long, install patches and updates, and still keep my uptime and presently running applications.

Viva la Open Source!

29 Mar 2003 08:17 anubi

Re: Too many car models
Wonderfull. You're comment is clever. I perfectly agree!

> The plethora of car models available
> today, none working perfectly, is a
> problem which stands in the way of
> additional automaker profits. In order
> to conquer the roads, we have to stand
> united.
>
>
> SUV
> The only SUV anyone needs is the Humvee.
> No more Explorer, no more Suburban, the
> Humvee does everything the rest can do
> plus more.
>
>
> Sports Car
> It's obvious that the Lamborghini Diablo
> is the only necessary sports car.
> Everything else is just a wannabe. If
> you want a car that looks different, pop
> a Ferrari body on a Lamborghini chassis.
> Boom, variation without duplicated
> effort. Easy as pie.
>
>
> Family Sedan
> The Cadillac has the most features,
> there's no need for anything else.
>
>
> Economy Car
> The Geo Metro is about as economical as
> they get. Everything else is too big and
> guzzles too much gas. Also, screw those
> newfangled electric hybrids, they're too
> obscure and there are better
> alternatives.
>
>
> Also, everyone should be happy with
> black paint. It's cheap and it makes
> repairs easy. If you want another color,
> too bad, they're not necessary. Here's
> looking forward to higher automaker
> profits!

29 Mar 2003 08:22 ares32585

Arrogance, arrogrance, and more arrogance
"Preaching about it doesn't work with the majority, which has been so dumbed down by the importance of money as not to care for liberty anymore."

Honestly, I feel that statements like these bely an arrogrance in some people that will only hurt the open source software movement. Did it ever occur to you that perhaps people don't view software as something that needs to be liberated? That perhaps they don't veiw free software as a moral necessity? Not everyone buys into the rubbish that free software must be free out of some moral necessity.

29 Mar 2003 08:25 dwinx

Standards and Conventions
Complementary to development is acceptance and rating. I suspect that standardization is the bane of a relative few "free spirits". Development projects might benefit from an independant rating project composed of interested individuals who examine and rate the programs based on adherence to accepted standards and conventions. The rating should be independant of program function. Projects who participate directly in the rating process should stipulate the standards and conventions that they follow. This will allow the rating project to know the framework in which to judge conformity. Conformity ranking projects may also take on none participating development projects but would be required to identify the standards against which these projects are to be rated and ranked.

29 Mar 2003 08:31 sheister

Re: Why Linux for the Masses

> I linux seeing on the Desktop be not in
> the compacity that people want
>
> Linux is a great desktop for technical
> Users and the deserve their our OS ,
> cause that acctualy understand
> computers
>
> people say that too many choices of
> applications is keeping Linux off the
> desktop, yes, but not the only problem,
> the configuration options of the OS is
> too great.
>
> I mean the orignial reason people seek a
> M$ alternative is cause they're smart
> and tried on computing by some software
> venders rules.
>
> but the mass user realy doesn't care,
> they just want stuff to happen magicly.
>
>
> so how does one make Linux appeal to the
> masses, without fundulmentaly changing
> Linux?
>

Why is there so much concern with making Linux "appeal to the masses"? Why would linux users want a bunch of XP fans defecting to the Linux world? Everybody says that Linux will need massive changes to its very foundations in order to attract customers away from Miscrosoft. Why would you want to change Linux, first of all, and second how would the Linux community benefit from gaining masses of Windows users?

Linux is what it is. When it gets changed "fundamentally" to something more digestible for Windows users it will no longer be what Linux is today, it will be a Windows-like OS, much like what KDE does for the Linux desktop. Maybe the should just make a KDE-OS. ;)

Was Linux ever really intended to be an OS that would bring M$ down? I don't think so. I thought it was developed as a free alternative to the original Unix systems so that people like us wouldn't have to buy Sun and HP licenses just to have unix running on our 486s.

The bulk of Windows users aren't going to switch over to Linux. They just won't. They're not even going to move to OSX any time soon. ITPro is right that they don't think too far beyond clicking the icons and checking their hotmail accounts. WE don't need those users, and we don't need a new Linux to attract those users. What we need to do is continue to develop free software, use other people's free software, and support linux and BSD development, while we spend the money we saved from not buying OS licenses on beer.

PS: ITPro: I'm going to steal your job when your boss finds out that you don't know how to write. ;)

Viva la Open Source!

29 Mar 2003 08:32 sheister

Re: Arrogance, arrogrance, and more arrogance

> "Preaching about it doesn't work
> with the majority, which has been so
> dumbed down by the importance of money
> as not to care for liberty
> anymore."
>
> Honestly, I feel that statements like
> these bely an arrogrance in some people
> that will only hurt the open source
> software movement. Did it ever occur to
> you that perhaps people don't view
> software as something that needs to be
> liberated? That perhaps they don't veiw
> free software as a moral necessity? Not
> everyone buys into the rubbish that free
> software must be free out of some moral
> necessity.
>

word to that.

29 Mar 2003 08:35 ipstealer

We sure we got the right proplem here?
Looking at all the above, it seems people are linking the problem too the fact that thier are to many choices and hence they are limited. While I agree some of the Linux programs are slightly limited, I like the choice of the extra programs, I can chooses what I want and what I don't want AS LONG AS IT WORKS.

The problems I have heard from the people I have talked to is thier is no standard. I have heard complaints of "Ya but I cant set my favorite archive manager in just one place and have it set as the 'prefered' program on all my GUI's" also I have heard "There is no real compatability" now for a user like me who is experienced with computers and doesn't mind trial and error to get somthing to work, I'm fine with it, but I have come across programs that I have not been able to get to compile, im betting its user error/stupidity on my part. Yet there needs to be an easy way to install junk, and the "./configure; make; make install" needs to actualy work on the program or give a meaningful messege as to what the hell is missing.
In refference to above, I have compiled programs that say errors (here is one off my head) "Are you sure you have the library's to compile programs for kde?" and I am thinking "BEATS ME, I am still learning my way." It would be nice if it said "Do you have the 'kde-devel.lib' library's?' or such so I can do a search here on freshemeat for them.

IMHO Linux just needs to be a bit more user freindly, Included all the programs you want and let the user pick, and make some way for the GUI based programs to work with each other (implement copy and paste between programs of diffrent desktop GUI's for example). Programs will need to interact EASILY for windoze user's to switch over. Finaly make the main programs ( OpenOffice ) the default program for handeling documents ( like they did in red 8.0 )

29 Mar 2003 08:37 krulo

Right on :)
There is a downside of opensource development that have made the linux platform to what it is today. The possibility to make your own changes to a program is a two-edged weapon, which inevitably lead to unhealthy diversity.
As you mentioned some projects lead by major companies are the exceptions, and that is (sadly, for all that is good and free in the world) what the linux community is missing: A leader.

After giving up Windows, I worked with linux (and bsd) as my primary platform for 5 years, always thinking that it should not be like this.
In February 2002 I bought a Mac. I will never go back.

Sincerely,
Gustaf Josefsson

29 Mar 2003 08:39 sheister

Re: Too many car models
Genius!

29 Mar 2003 08:40 anubi

So Kill Developers.
Free Software Developers, since they are not usually paid for what they're doing. They do it because they like it, because they think they're doing something good. Coding it is not like an art. Nobody told Munch not to paint his just because there were other 1000 painting which represented Mary, and Munch's is different from all others (for example). So the only way to be sure a programmer won't write his beloved piece of software is to kill him. Is this what you meant?? I like Emacs. It is perfect, it is an OS (tell me what you can't do with Emacs??)...
There are no video player? That's true, if you're not able to compile mplayer (that is ./configure; make; su -c "make install")... and I can tell you, it supports so many codecs MediaPlayer can't even dream about it.
No audio... that' true. If you wan't Cubase, there is no Cubase. Still I have no troubles in playing every sort of audio file and even to modify it... ALSA is wonderfull... it let's you hack into your soundcard more than every MS Mixer...
Ok... OpenOffice is damn slow... it is true... try to make it smaller...

DO YOU KNOW WHY IT SEEMS THERE IS LESS WINDOWS SOFTWARE???

JUST BECAUSE IT'S A MONOPOLY.

There where thousands of Office Suits. But MS Office kicked them all... When I was a child, in the 80' there was a period when Word Perfect was gainig success.. that was because MS Office had a better protection against copy, so it was easier to crack WordPerfect... it's not a joke. MS made it easier to crack Office, and it was done....

Do we want a Monopoly???
Ok...
1) Mozilla (if you want to use Galeon, Konqueror or Opera you'll be beheaded, if you want to use Kmail or Evolution your hands will be cut, and those who want to use Xchat, BitchX or any other IRC client will have their toungues cut)
2) Emacs (those who like Vi will be killed)
3) Bash (if you have been using csh for years, now you got to change)
4) OpenOffice (if your computer is not powerfull enough, the you'll be banned)
5) Gaim (other chat programs will be destroyed in public squares)
6) ... if you need something else (games, music software ecc.) you will be punished with death penalties....

We are talking about FREE Software, aren't we? And free has many meanings.... but how could you define software free if those who wrote if were not free?

29 Mar 2003 08:42 ares32585

GTK: The second coming of Jesus?
"GTK+. That's it. Qt still has licensing problems, being non-Free for commercial applications. Motif, Tcl/Tk, wxWindows? Die! What they have over GTK+ doesn't compare with GTK+'s advantages over them, so instead of religiously sticking with them, help implement those missing features in GTK+. Imagine the joy of commercial software makers who might want to release Linux versions of their software learning only about GTK+ (which they could use for the Windows versions, too) instead of what they hear now. ("Well, there's GTK+, Qt, wxWindows, and others; how about starting with a study of the advantages and disadvantages of each?") "

Hardly. GTK+ has one huge disadvantage on Windows: it does not use native widgets.

29 Mar 2003 08:51 gvy

Too much articles stating 'too much free software'?
While hundreds of CD players is definitely no good, there's already freshmeat's Stance on "Trivial" Software (freshmeat.net/articles...) document.

(/me being busy on trying to integrate several Ukrainian free software-devoted sites near osdn.org.ua)

29 Mar 2003 09:18 mcsherry

The mind of a programmer...
Caught an interesting article on devx (www.devx.com/devx/edit...) which delves into the mindset of the programmer.... His description of the desire to create new software instead of maintaining old software because it is the joy of creation that motivates most programmers could help explain the many varying versions of text editors/web servers/etc. A good read.

29 Mar 2003 09:22 arvindn

Re: Freedom of choice

> Part of the fun for me is to check out
> new software and test if they suit my
> needs. I never really cared about kde or
> gnome since all they ever did was
> clutter the desktop, a simple wm is
> still sufficient enough. This whole
> 'unified desktop' idea sounds like an
> attempt of taking away the freedom of an
> individual user to choose what ever he
> or she wants to use. One microsoft is
> enough thank you.

The problem with not having a unified desktop is that unless you're a masochist, you won't enjoy it when all your applications have different toolkits and behaviors.

29 Mar 2003 10:10 stech

*sigh*
I think the main problem is that there are two different audiences in Linux today: those who are interested more in its Unix appeal with all the great command-line utilities and flexibility, and those who want Linux to become a viable desktop alternative to Windows.

Unfortunately, the solution the author here has suggested will never work. If everyone had the same goal as his seemingly superior goal, then he might have a chance. But as it stands, not everyone is developing software to make Linux a great desktop suite. Some develop free software for fun, some for their specific purposes that might be useful to others, and so on. The author's suggestion requires the elimination of all inferior products in favor for the best, but people have varying opinions on what is best. For instance, I would not like to see vim merged with emacs. They are both sophisticated editors with a huge amount of options. Emacs is extremely customizable and offers all sorts of things besides being a simple text editor, but vi/vim is fast, compact and does one job well. If they were merged, both would lose their selling points.

As long as there are differing opinions on what is good software, Linux will host a variety of options. It is correct to say that this causes slower development because many projects focusing on the relative same thing could be combined into one project, but it doesn't mean it would be better to merge the efforts. The projects will still get there however. I doubt that free software and many of its ideas are going anywhere: I don't see the rush. We're not competing against Microsoft, and Microsoft can't do anything to us. We're not a business it can monopolize and bankrupt. There are businesses based off of Open Source and Linux that go down, but when these businesses lose, the actual open software hasn't lost anything it didn't have before the businesses came along trying to make a few bucks off of it.

29 Mar 2003 10:33 xkeycaps

Who needs another MS Office suite?

Do you think that Bill is worried about another Office clone? Hardly. MS is changing their model, and what makes Bill wake up in the middle of the night with convulsions and cold sweats is not Open Offfice, Mozilla, or Linux, but the thought of someone coming up with a completely new and contagious way of communicating and doing business that sets the popular "Exchange and Office" model on its ear.

29 Mar 2003 10:49 tmh

Commercialism and too many licenses.
There are two good media players, xine and mplayer. Both can be downloaded and compiled easily. Unfortunately most "Free Software" users are really "Open Source" users. We're talking folks who buy a distribution for a good chunk of money and then complain that it doesn't do everything Windows XP does.

Too bad. Learn how to type "./configure; make" before complaining. Learn to at least attempt to provide feedback to projects which are still in development and need the feedback.

A second point I'd like to make is that the "Free Software" world has been anihiliated by the licenses OSI has "certified." It used to be you'd live in one of two camps: BSL, or GPL. Now we have smaller camps fragmenting off and complicating things even more when one software package tries to interface with another.

29 Mar 2003 11:25 sheister

Re: *sigh*
That was a very well thought-out post and I couldn't agree more. The author of the article seems to be complaining about the very thing that makes this community what it is. Stech is right that there could be more organization among developers which may lead to giant software suites which could compete with specific popular Windows titles But then we would lose many of the individual innovations and creativity which comes primarily from a wide array of seperate developers contributing to the community. The state of Open Source seems to be that of anarchy, essentially. Individuals do exactly what they please all the time, developing various products which sometimes are useful and othertimes are worthless, but all of which are free to use and alter. Sometimes teams are formed and they follow their own collective agenda, but generally speaking the lack of constraining licenses and capitalistic goals are what make this community work, however disorganized it may seem, right?

29 Mar 2003 11:26 linimon

You can't restrict choice. At best, you can make recommendations.
As noted by most reponders, developers, being volunteers, are going to damn well do what they want to do. Nuff Said.

What would really be useful for the largest class of USERS, however, would be a survey about what applications are considered "mature". In fact, the US Government was recently spotted trying to come up with a "short list" of well-known and well-supported apps (Apache, sendmail, ...). Their list overlapped yours, of course. Some kind of "here's what a lot of people use, you might want to start here before trying anything exotic" list.

Now, of course, there is no way everyone will agree on such a list, and even if it were opened for discussion, the whole thing would just be flamebait. I don't propose to try to create some kind of rating system myself -- but if you feel strongly enough, create such a system, get people to contribute to it, and publicize it. IMHO something like that would have a lot better chance at influencing people's behavior than your posting above.

To reiterate: choice is not the problem; the lack of "new users start here" is the problem.

29 Mar 2003 11:35 dkeeler

Missing Infrastructure is the Key
I thought the article was good as it addressed one of the major reason Linux has not been more widely adopted as an enterprise mission crtitical platform past file and print. Linux is rocking the server world but to advance farther it needs a cohesive front. www.EzSDK.com and EzEnterprise were created just for this reason. To provide that cohesive foundation by which the smallest to the largest organization could cohesively build an enteprise system easily and quickly. Without a foundation like this it is always extremely difficult to build a solution bringing non-integrated solutions in. It always comes down to data. Word processing apps, image processing, etc are tools, the real purpose in computing for any orgniaztion is database access, manipulation, and utilization for mission critical decisions. Everything else is non-mission critical. The inroads needed at the desktop level and completely through an organization will never be achieved without an infrastructure like that found in EzSDK.

29 Mar 2003 12:00 dbindner

Oh, don't be a jerk.

Just because fvwm doesn't happen to be
on your radar of reasonable window managers
doesn't mean I should stop using it. I happen
to have a very comfortable customized setup
that I have happily used for years.

Having more good applications is not something
anyone would dislike. But a world where you get
to choose for me what those applications are
is not a world I want.

29 Mar 2003 12:14 avenj

I'm supposed to believe that choice is bad?
I'd rather have an OS that isn't monetarily successful and has corporate forces working against it but tons of choices than a monetarily successful OS with very few options.

It takes a lot of gall to claim that there's a certain "right" program for each situation and anything else applying to that situation is a waste of time, besides being logically flawed. If I like Enlightenment and you like Blackbox, why is one of us "correct"?

29 Mar 2003 12:21 mojavelinux

I agree on the basic subject
I do agree on the idea that there is too much free software. Not that having a lot of free software is bad, but that obvious teams are not forming. There are too many people trying to do the same thing and not enough of those people joining up to work on a concentrated effort. I struggle with this issue to, we all want to be the "hero" who makes the perfect #1 project that everyone downloads. If that is really your goal, definitely go for it, I even encourage it. Projects like subversion would never exist to take over CVS if developers were afraid of such bold ventures. The problem is that 80% of the projects fail or run out of gas before hitting the top ten. It would be better when starting a project to either try to create a team or to latch on or merge with another project. The beauty in open source is to be able to reuse other people's code. You become a hero when you learn to exploit that advantage and save yourself the time of starting from scratch.

The famous topic regarding this issue is "Everyone has their own CMS" Just think about that when you are about to start a new project. Go out there and find if someone has already started or someone is working on one already. Make friends in the open source world because most of these people are truly genuine. If this were a commercial community, we would be battling. Let's share!

29 Mar 2003 12:51 GoatVomit

Re: Freedom of choice

> The problem with not having a unified
> desktop is that unless you're a
> masochist, you won't enjoy it when all
> your applications have different
> toolkits and behaviors.

Different appearance is not much of a problem. If I want same kind of appearance I'll use windows. If the noobies want to replace cde with their alternative its up to them.

29 Mar 2003 12:53 MichelStol

You don't have "Yan -- Yet Another Nameserver".
You don't have "Yan -- Yet Another Nameserver"

I find this kinda short sighted, because there are some alternatives, one of them being PowerDNS (freshmeat.net/projects...).

Lately a lot of people switched from BIND to PowerDNS, finding it much easier, powerful and more flexible to use.

The rest of the article is kinda unrealistic in my opinion: How would you merge KDE and Gnome and get rid of Qt completely? Seems quite impossible to me.

29 Mar 2003 13:08 lool

It's a troll.
Please take some time to visit the guy's website: he only posts rants. He just won't listen to interesting points, he makes you waste your time.
He just wants to make himself interesting, I found most points of his trials really partials. Don't expect *his* frustrations to be reprensentative, most people have enriching experiences with Free Software.

29 Mar 2003 13:27 UnThesis

wxWindows == part of your solution!
[quote]

Graphical Toolkits

GTK+. That's it. Qt still has licensing problems, being non-Free for
commercial applications. Motif, Tcl/Tk, wxWindows? Die! What they have
over GTK+ doesn't compare with GTK+'s advantages over them, so instead of
religiously sticking with them, help implement those missing features in
GTK+. Imagine the joy of commercial software makers who might want to
release Linux versions of their software learning only about GTK+ (which
they could use for the Windows versions, too) instead of what they hear
now. ("Well, there's GTK+, Qt, wxWindows, and others; how about starting
with a study of the advantages and disadvantages of each?")

[/quote]

You obviously do not have the foggiest idea of what wxWindows is.

First of all, wxWindows is a LGPL'd high-level framework that allows
you make cross-platform GUI, network, database, etc applications in
Windows, GTK, X11, OS/2, and MacOS 8+.

On X11 systems, you can use either wxX11 which uses base X11 functions,
or wxGTK which wraps itself around GTK functions; on windows it uses
Windows API, etc.

I write a program in wx, distribute it to my windows users, and if they
ever want to use it in linux, BAM, compile away.

Take the example of LMule (www.sourceforge.net/pr...)
of which I am a developer. Tiku took the GPL code of EMule (works only in
win32) and ported it to wxGTK. I have stripped all the GTK-specific code
out of LMule, and now it compiles successfully in Win32, UNIX, MacOS with
very few #defines (about 5, to set big-endianess (mac) and binary file mode (win32)) and no other changes.

wxWindows implements NUMEROUS enhancements that GTK just doesn't
provide, like data storage, Virtual FS routines, *nice* common dialogues,
support for ODBC, cross-platform Sockets, threading, HTTP+FTP Protocol
classes, etc, etc, etc.

And 5 official 3rd-parties offer technical support for wx, available
via www.wxwindows.org/supp... (www.wxwindows.org/supp...),
and it is also backed by a few 3rd-paries like SGI Graphics.

29 Mar 2003 14:40 toop

Re: *sigh*
> We're not competing against Microsoft

Who do you mean with 'we'? You stated above: "and those who want Linux to become a viable desktop alternative to Windows". Beeing an alternative in this situation doesn't mean you compete according to you?

Example (not that representative because the 2 camps wouldn't agree 100% with their own camp). Let's say the whole opensource community agrees that we don't compete with Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office, and other MS software. And let's say Microsoft sees that Linux/opensource as a competitor. Then MS acts against opensource in certain ways (example: TCPA) because MS sees opensource as a competitor. Is there a competition then? According to me: yes! Why? Because there's a confrontation between the 2 camps. Does IIS try to compete with Apache? I think MS would love to have IIS running more on the internet if it means they'd get more profit with that.

> We're not competing against Microsoft,
> and Microsoft can't do anything to us.
> We're not a business it can monopolize
> and bankrupt.

We (the opensource community) are dependant as well. In some ways. Since the earth is mainly driven by money, so are it's people dependant on it, wether you like it or not (i don't). The editor clearly pointed out a danger in his article: TCPA (of which Microsoft is a member) and NGSCB (aka Palladium). Do you think these revolutions by the big business people who bind together as one fist will not, in any way, affect the opensource community? We are talking about huge changes in soft- *and* hardware design here.

To be ontopic and simple: 'people like freedom'; 'choice is a form of freedom'; this is why i love opensource programs in general: it gives people more freedom then Microsoft.

29 Mar 2003 14:44 Fenrirkun

Re: GNUstep?
"On Linux, there's no decent movie player"
....this quote is really stupid. I find mplayer more useful than any windows player. It's the only way for me to play divx5 on my machine smoothly.
Also, in windows you need to install tons of shit to play various video files (at least the last time I used windows it was like that...realplayer, quicktime, windows media AND windows media codecs.) with mplayer you just need to move a few dlls into a folder.
I heard that Xine is very good too, but I still need to try it.

29 Mar 2003 15:15 NewWorldOrder

Standards are nice, but relax about Winblows
There is a constant rattle of the non-technical "lead me by the hand crowd" for Linux to replace winblows. People are sick of paying for poorly supported commercial products and yearn for an alternative. Unfortunately for them, their dream of a better and a free Bill Gates replacement for their desktop is misplaced in the Linux community. Linux is open software and free, but it does require the end user to think. If you want a no-brainer OS try OS-X. You still will have to pay for support. Or you could stop whining about having to take an active roll in developing free software and start helping. Let's not give up the freedom to create, in order to develop an OS that the clueless will love. Linux would not be the awesome OS it is if it had been written for the lowest common denominator.
My 2 cents.

29 Mar 2003 15:20 slicer

Windows has just as many options.
The author brings up an interesting point. Mainly that there are too many programmers working on the same system without organisation. His feelings that this is harmful to Linux more than Windows, however, is silly. There is just as much single-programmer, thrown-together, crappy-media-player type free software for Windows as Linux. It doesn't seem to slow Windows down.

29 Mar 2003 15:46 toop

Trust
First of all sheister in this article referred opensource beeing similair to anarchism. I agree, and as suggestion i'd like to say: read articles written by _for example_ Kropotkin. It can give you interesting insights about both anarchism and opensource.

While i understand the author's point of 'information overflow' having too much choice which can be frustrating, i believe this problem can be made less a problem in the following way:

What (according to me) is important in a situation we are discussing about the opensource community (many, many, many choices) is objective help to help people making choices and let people know that there is such help. Think about stuff like reviews here. For example let's say you want to write a review about WM's. Then you praise 'WM-x' just because you use it and you liked it and lie things about 'WM-y' just because you don't use it and therefore don't like it because you see 'your' WM as 'uber'. Yes, there are people who behave such childish. How does this kind of review add something to the opensource community? According to me it would be better to point out stuff like what one WM lacks, multiple benchmarks, and other facts.

Some magazines publish such useful information. However, magazines costs money and things which are free attract people faster then something which costs money.

Yes, many choices make it harder for both the writer to be objective and still providing useful information _and_ for the reader who needs to read and understand what's written. However when the information is objective it will help the reader in the end, and one should realize that and trust (important word) that the writer has been objective. Maybe one thinks "it's impossible to make a review about all the WM's". I agree with that! 1) it's *not* impossible to *strive* to an unbiased, objective formof information 2) that said it's like a recommendation like Mark Linimon pointed out

On the other hand, childish discussions (flamewars and such) like 'editor-X sucks!' and 'editor-Y rocks!' doesn't help a reader much. Those discussions spread hate, frustration, biased information, points of view which are only valuable from one of the flamewar-participants, etcetera.. which doesn't create trust at the reader's point of view when he's able to read it (so if it's public, but if it ain't it's still a waste of time imo). The reader group is the most important because that group is far bigger then the people who discuss.

Trust creates love and will attract users to become 'a member of the opensource community' wether he/she'd be user, programmer, writer (information in trad. languages), or some other function.

It's all about trust... (and anti-trust).

29 Mar 2003 16:01 AlmostRetired

No
1. His biases are showing, and at odds with his own arguments.

2. Specifically that OSS should go away. Maybe. And it might if indeed ALSA could do what the commercial OSS can do, but because the ALSA folks will not tread on OSS ground, that will not likely happen, ever. Even if they had the coders that could do it, they will not cross that line.

I think I was back about rh6.1 that I managed to get ALSA to support, but only 1/4 assed, the SBLive card I still have running in the firewall. Then Creative got into the act, supplying kernel drivers and the rest is history.

Getting this motherboard, a Biostar M7VIB, which has an ac97 compatible VIA chipset built in, I spent a couple of months trying to make ALSA work but only succeded in making white noise at approximately 135db with it. OSS to the rescue one more time, but I did object to having to buy 2 pieces of it in order to get the driver for this chipset, the freebie time limited demo didn't include it. That makes you buy it, sound unheard. :(

And frankly it sounds decent only 10% of the time, the rest of the time it sounds as if its grossly out of headroom even at whisper volume levels. When it does sound good, its very good indeed, but thats not the general rule unforch.

ALSA? While it may well be just fine if given a chipset whose makers understand there are more than just winderz machines out there, and are willing to supply the API data to joe sixpack. That unforch is not the case, and it is even rarer case that such becomes the guiding light controlling the purchase of a new motherboard. OSS, because it isn't fee, can apparently afford to purchase those data sheets, probably signing NDA's out the yang to do so.

ALSA isn't going to be in that league, ever, and I'd druther have working sound than blindly adhere to the RMS school of thought on sound.

The situation isn't helped a bit when, if you email them with a description of the system, a very huffy reply comes back an inordinately long time later that one really should go get OSS, "it works". Thats not conducive to generating user good will at all and I've been subjected to that attitude everytime, no exceptions. So after a while I have a tendency to remove my head from the vicinity of the wall that keeps hitting it.

ALSA? Not in my neighborhood anytime soon.

29 Mar 2003 16:56 AdrienLamothe

Too Much Free Software
I agree that better software is needed. But open-source developers need to be completely free to do whatever they want. Eventually (hopefully sooner than later,) some people will develop the types of applications that average desktop users want. There is also nothing wrong with people developing closed-source, proprietary software to run on Linux. Hey, if someone like RealNetworks wants to port their media player to Linux, keep it proprietary, and charge $20 for it, then I may just buy it, even though it may break in a year. But I agree that people like the K developers should get it in gear and start cranking out some killer apps.

29 Mar 2003 17:06 askani

Re: Good intention, bad logic.

>
> % Mostly false. Qt does not have any
> % licensing problems on GNU/Linux
> systems.
> % It's GPL. Perfectly available to any
> % project , whether it's commercial or
> not
> % (or did you mean proprietary instead
> of
> % commercial?).
>
> Just because Qt ships with an open
> source license (GPL) doesn't mean it's a
> good license for open source projects.
>
> For example, libc on Linux is LGPL; if
> it had been dual licensed like Qt, then
> Linux just wouldn't have made it to
> where it is today. And a toolkit like
> Qt is about as fundamental to the
> desktop as libc is to the command line.
>
> Also, the GPL/QPL combination is also
> effectively incompatible with any
> license that is is more permissive.
>
> If we didn't have the Gtk+ project, we'd
> have to start it, because KDE/Qt still
> doesn't come close to satisfying the
> requirements for a free, open Linux
> desktop from a licensing point of view.

First, let me start by reinforcing that I'm talking about Software Libre and not about software carrying code.

Second, I like Gtk+/Gnome way more than Qt.

That said, I don't like to put a lot of effort into making available Software Libre that will make life easier for some greedy jerks to make proprietary apps.

It's their choice, but I don't like that either by my choice or by my inaction others may be put at harm's reach.

29 Mar 2003 17:14 askani

Re: Good intention, bad logic.

>
> If we didn't have the Gtk+ project, we'd
> have to start it, because KDE/Qt still
> doesn't come close to satisfying the
> requirements for a free, open Linux
> desktop from a licensing point of view.

I forgot to say something about this: Qt/KDE are fully GPL. Exactly what requirements fail for a desktop environment that's totally Software Libre, from a licensing point of view?

Do you mean that GPL not allowing someone to steal freedoms the original authors deemed you shouldn't ever be deprived removes freedom? Are you defending the Power to deprive the Freedom of others against the Freedom to use, adapt and redistribute Software for all (www.fsf.org/philosophy...)?

29 Mar 2003 17:50 breuhaha

Re: Why Linux for the Masses

> The bulk of Windows users aren't going
> to switch over to Linux. They just
> won't. They're not even going to move
> to OSX any time soon. ITPro is right
> that they don't think too far beyond
> clicking the icons and checking their
> hotmail accounts.

I think this represents a fundamental flaw used in a lot of arguments; that "the bulk of Windows users" represents individual end users. It doesn't, "the bulk of Windows users" are corporate users, who will use whatever the IT department gives them.

While it's true that these users don't give much thought to the underlying technical details of the systems they use, the decision makers who purchase and deploy the systems, do usually put a lot of thought into it. And these people are switching to Linux in large numbers.

The main issue preventing large scale deployment of Linux on corporate desktops really has nothing to do with email clients or browsers or office suites. The real reason is the lack of the various applications that businesses need to operate.

Accounting software is the number one thing that any business will need, not email. Any business will also need software which is designed for it's niche.

Hobbyist programmers normally don't build these applications. Why? Who knows? Maybe they just don't feel "creative" while they are doing it. Maybe they feel more creative while designing a whole new way to read email from a POP server...

[I should define what I mean by a "hobbyist programmer": Hobbyist programmers are those who are writing software for some personal reason, rather than being paid to write code for a particular project. Even a professional programmer who writes applicatons code all day and gets paid for it, when he goes home and starts working on his beloved new way to read email, becomes a hobbyist.]

Just about the only niche application software that is available for Linux is software which some company paid a programmer to write. If a company does such a thing, it only makes sense for them to try to recoup their expenses by selling the software commercially rather than giving it away.

Now, there is obviously a fundamental philosophical difference between the fellow who wrote the editorial which started this thread, and many of the hobbyist programmers who read it.

First let me say that in my opinion, trying to place any restrictions on the bazaar is just plain stupid. You can't presume to tell people what they can code on their own time (unless, of course, it violates some contractual obligation). Hobbyist programmers have every right to code whatever they want. This is good and as it should be.

Having said that, I'm sure there are lots of these programmers who would work on the applications which businesses need, if they had the opportunity, or perhaps the community.

So how does one bring that about? I don't know.

But I'll try to start right here with a some suggestions for applications which need to be done (and done well) as open source/open license, and maybe some hackers will pick something that looks interesting and write them.

First, some things which so many businesses need:

1. Accounting.

Every business needs this. Must include payroll, and support for taxes (regional). I.e., Peachtree will send you a disk with the current tax rules for your region. It would be nice if the app could simply retrieve the current tax information from some .gov site on the net (this is not beyond the realm of possiblity). Should support multiple companies, and not need to have one year closed in order to open a new year. Would be really nice if it also included support for electronic tax filing. [I'm in the US, and have no real knowledge of how tax systems work in other regions, someone else would have to suggest how that should work.] I could go on and on about features. If someone wants to start a real "design doc", I'll be happy to contribute extensively. Must not have any dumb restrictions, like 65k inventory SKU numbers or 1k payroll IDs (I've seen both of these in commercial accounting apps).

2. Point of Sale.

Every retail business needs this. Must support various common hardware, such as cash drawers and reciept printers (normally chained together off a common serial port) common credit card verification terminals, barbode readers and possibly touchscreen monitors. Needs to have backend support for reports, inventory control, warehousing and management of barcodes, as well as a nice simple interface with which to create the menus for the front counter terminals. Needs to have import/export routines compatible with common accounting software.

3. Workflow.

This one is hard, but almost every business could benefit by having a workflow system. There has been some basic work done in this area, but what is needed is not a library that can be incorporated into a program, or a framework for Zope which no business owner will ever figure out how to use. What is needed is the ability for business owners to input individual tasks, and link them in arbitrary fashion. This could very well be made to work with 1. and 2. above. For example, if the inventory level of a certain product reaches a threshold, start the process of generating a purchase order to replenish the inventory. Tracking the inventory is handled by 2. above, but creating a purchase order is handled by 1. above. Furthermore, the user might determine that they need to insert a task in an existing process, such as counting the inventory to verify what the computer says, or telephoning 3 vendors for best prices, before initiating a purchase order creation process.

And now for some a quick list of niches which need apps:

Breeders.

Whether they breed dogs, cats, parakeets, koi or brahma bulls, there are a lot of these out there, and they need a decent app to keep track of their stock and breeding, as well as such things as shows or contests that their prized goat has entered and/or won, as well as the stud fees collected from standing their stallion.

Landscapers/Gardeners/Janitorial Services.

Besides keeping track of scheduling their time at their client's site, they also need to track such things as maintenance on their lawnmowers, floor polishers and trucks.

Building contractors.

Framers, plumbers, electricians, plasterers, roofers...name any trade. They are mostly sub-contractors, which means they are small business owners, which means they need software to run their business. General contractors need software to schedule all of the sub-contractors, as well as scheduling such things as delivery of materials and inspections, and also to keep track of the progress of the various stages of construction. How about modding a project management app by adding in features that General Contractors need to actually run thier business?

Get the idea? There are a whole hell of a lot of niches, in fact almost all businesses fall into some niche or another, and I don't see many "creative programmers" creating jack to address any of them. Let's face it, these people need and have computers, but what they don't need is a better email client, or another super-duper font for their office suite.

Okay, there you have some starting points. Is there anyone out there who considers these things interesting or "creative" enough to actually code them? I'm not a programmer, I'm a systems guy who can write just enough shell script, perl and php to keep servers running, so I won't be the one to hack these apps into reality.

If you want to discuss these things, feel free to use my latest throwaway spamtrap webmail account:
scrub-at-operamail-dot-com
And I'll get back to you with my real email address.

-=dwh=-

P.S. Does anyone else think that the whole "slashdot-style comments appended to articles" thing is a really bad way to have discussions? I mean comments are fine, but there are a lot of times I would like to follow a discussion even after it scrolls off the front page. The "comments" format encourages people to abandon discussions, rather than continuing them, and I think that's pretty dumb.

Here's my proposal. Rip out the comments code and replace it with code that links to a BB software, and don't forget the NNTP interface so I can use my own client to follow discussions.

29 Mar 2003 18:24 salesgeek

Whatever
I like open source software because of many of the demons the author wants to exorcise (sp). Part of what got Windows where it is today is it's rich heritage of shareware and freeware that was available back in the DOS and WIN 3.11 and Win95 days. Much of that has died in the Windows world and has moved to Open Source. I actually like having 300 + ways to edit my source code to helloworld.c.

As for becoming the "dominant desktop" that really doesn't matter to me. What matters is that I can use my computer as a tool to get things done. And that is where Linux and Open Source show unlimited potential: more ways every day to get things done.

29 Mar 2003 18:49 kreiger

Drink your milk.
I think i speak for a united free software community when i say: Sit down and shut the fuck up.

29 Mar 2003 19:15 Silverstone

I don't like qt or gtk really
Number one qt is licence locked ie cannot uses it comerical and number 2 hard for me to use on windows. Gtk does not work well on windows yet but it will get there.

You want to know why this is important. The merge if programs run on windows, mac and linux the partform divid can be destoryed. wxWindows past my tests. KDE if qt was open KDE could be a different desktop for windows. I would like to see stuff like this. But division is the source of development. Take all the window managers that have died to get to todays. There is a large corpse list. With feature that were hated and other features that worked. Over time the best came forward.

29 Mar 2003 19:30 arvindn

Re: Why Linux for the Masses

> Accounting software is the number one
> thing that any business will need, not
> email. Any business will also need
> software which is designed for it's
> niche.
>
> Hobbyist programmers normally don't
> build these applications. Why? Who
> knows? Maybe they just don't feel
> "creative" while they are doing it.
> Maybe they feel more creative while
> designing a whole new way to read email
> from a POP server...

This should be obvious: hobbyist programmers only code
something that they need. So open source business-niche software will only get written if someone pays for it.

29 Mar 2003 21:11 msaraceni

Too Much Software
Linux is about choice, Windows is about lack of freedom. Do you really want Linux to be like Windows? I use Fvwm2 and I love it and it works wonderfully well (just like most other pieces of OSS I use) and I'm happy that their developers keep working on it and I couldn't care less if only 0.000001% of people "still" use it.

29 Mar 2003 21:13 pdxlooie

Why He's Right
most of the commentary ignores the substance of the argument, while each poster proclaims his corner of the free software world. much of what is said is true but irrelevant.

if you have the ability and training, you can start any software project you want to start, either at home or at work. and what you do with it is your own business. when you decide to publish that project, via some medium like freshmeat or sourceforge, you automatically acquire a responsibility -- the responsibility to see the project through to a finish.

to borrow from the original article, out of the 385 text editors mentioned, probably 300 are dead projects that never reached version 1. how is the world better off with 300 text editors left for dead at version 0.6.4?

it isn't. the world is much better off for the many and varied editors whose creators have taken seriously their responsibility to build and maintain a usable product.

the same can be said for any type of software.

you don't need a university degree to understand the reason linux will never be a major contender on the desktop for the foreseeable future: sound support is downright horrible. unless you are highly technical, you can't have support for digital speakers. in fact, i gave up trying to get my digital speakers to work. guess what, i swapped them over to my windoze box, plugged them in and they worked.

you have to be technically knowledgeable to get sound in your browser, fer crissake! and you're still limited in the types of media that will play through the browser. if you don't care about 'linux on the desktop,' that's fine. it's not my hobby-horse, either. but the programmer who starts on 'yet another sound program' contributes nothing toward the advance of linux as an end-user product. we don't need an expanded user space in sound, we need the existing space to be brought up to professional standards.

i'm assuming that the disarrayed and moribund state of sound in linux is due to the complexity of programming for it. and i admire anyone who can program streaming media. and, what's needed is both the technical ability to program sound-related software and the personal commitment, the sense of responsibility, to finish what you start. it is that commitment that has been, to a large degree, lacking in the free software world. michael elkins is still answering questions about mutt in comp.mail.mutt, something like 8 years after he first started the project. that is the example to be emulated.

consider vim, emacs, mutt, gnus, gcc or any other major, well-known software -- how did any of these projects get to the top of the heap? they got there by the contributions of myriad individuals, individuals who contributed anything from a single patch on up to major modules. that is the only way to build successful free software.

in sum, the argument being made was not that all projects should be abandoned, but that programmers should enter the market by working on an existing project, rather than starting yet another one that will be 'found on road dead' a few months down the line. if you start work on an existing project, and real life intrudes, you can make a considerate departure and the project has (hopefully) benefitted from your input. the project continues on, that much more matured, and the world does not have another halfbaked software project littering freshmeat, sourceforge or google.

alternatively, if you are going to start a project, ask yourself: am i serious about finishing this? am i going to be able to continue with this project for years? do i have the resources to make that commitment? if you can't honestly answer 'yes,' then you should forebear going forward with the project and look for something existing that you can work on improving. even if you go forward on your own, and turn out to have been wrong in answering these questions, taking a hard look at your options reflects the sense of responsibility necessary to make free software a success.

(he's wrong about window managers, though. xfce rules ;-)

mp

29 Mar 2003 21:15 perlchild

Re: *sigh*

> > We're not competing against Microsoft
>
> Who do you mean with 'we'? You stated
> above: "and those who want Linux to
> become a viable desktop alternative to
> Windows". Beeing an alternative in this
> situation doesn't mean you compete
> according to you?
>

The "open source" and "free software" movement also includes software that runs on platforms which themselves aren't free, like embedded systems, mainframe OSes and the like... Therefore he is right in saying "we're not ALL here to compete"

> Example (not that representative because
> the 2 camps wouldn't agree 100% with
> their own camp). Let's say the whole
> opensource community agrees that we
> don't compete with Microsoft Windows,
> Microsoft Office, and other MS software.
> And let's say Microsoft sees that
> Linux/opensource as a competitor. Then
> MS acts against opensource in certain
> ways (example: TCPA) because MS sees
> opensource as a competitor. Is there a
> competition then? According to me: yes!
> Why? Because there's a confrontation
> between the 2 camps. Does IIS try to
> compete with Apache? I think MS would
> love to have IIS running more on the
> internet if it means they'd get more
> profit with that.
>
>
> % We're not competing against
> Microsoft,
> % and Microsoft can't do anything to us.
>
> % We're not a business it can
> monopolize
> % and bankrupt.
>
>
> We (the opensource community) are
> dependant as well. In some ways. Since
> the earth is mainly driven by money, so
> are it's people dependant on it, wether
> you like it or not (i don't). The editor
> clearly pointed out a danger in his
> article: TCPA (of which Microsoft is a
> member) and NGSCB (aka Palladium). Do
> you think these revolutions by the big
> business people who bind together as one
> fist will not, in any way, affect the
> opensource community? We are talking
> about huge changes in soft- *and*
> hardware design here.
>
> To be ontopic and simple: 'people like
> freedom'; 'choice is a form of freedom';
> this is why i love opensource programs
> in general: it gives people more freedom
> then Microsoft.

In a sense, because we're not all looking for the same thing, it makes sense to say we're already fragmented. That this is a good thing for some tasks is in my sense obvious if we agree we're not after market share or mindshare... It's obviously a bad thing if the goal is to get everyone to use open source, instead of educating them to choose open source, even if commercial software is available, but for the right reasons.

That Joe Clueless will not be taken in by this method is also obvious, most of the time he is using a computer reluctantly, and learning about it is a waste of his time. Several proponents of freedom and software would go about it in a different manner: giving someone who feels this way is a waste of a perfectly good computer... Why? not only can he not use it to its full potential, his productivity varies from low to limited to nil, to medium at best, not only can it be used against HIM, it can also be used against OTHERS by technically clueful immoral blackhats...

There are also Joes and Janes Somebodys who use software because so and so department have decided so. Those departments, which more than anything are the desired target of most commercial software developers...

Those are the ones that _feel_ the pain you are describing, about complete solutions, and integrated frameworks covering everything _and_ the kitchen sink.

When a technically minded person helps Joe Clueless or Jane Lesstechnicallycompetent use their computer, they take on the role of such a department, on a small, personal, one to one scale.

When a company decides to develop software in house, it usually starts at that department level as well.

Can free/open software reach these people? Yes, does it want to? Not everyone... those that write free software to scratch their own itch do not. Those that want to increase the reach of their favorite software usually do.

Did Mozilla start out trying to reach these people? Yes... Does it want to now? It cannot do this without treading on Netscape's toes, so it might tone down the rhetoric a bit if it ever tries. What does this tell us? That it's all about audience, and the X projects on sourceforge stuck in planning, and the 300 text editors will either learn about their chosen audience, or be swallowed up or become irrelevant...

I predict tree merges will become more popular later...

29 Mar 2003 22:58 z5h

Re: Drink your milk.

It's true. Who are these people that create and delegate responsibilities to the open source community. It's not anybody's job or duty to do jack shit.
If someone wrote a shitty GPLed text editor no one uses:
1. thank them for GPL-ing it,
2. do whatever you want with it (including not using it).

I'll tell you one thing for sure. Many people who write opensource code aren't writing software to start a revolution, make a statement, dominate the desktop, or get ANYTHING in exchange. They either enjoy the challenge and creative process or they just want to scratch an itch without the hastle of fixing someone else's mistakes.

29 Mar 2003 23:37 dle1

Re: Drink your milk.

> I think i speak for a united free
> software community when i say: Sit down
> and shut the fuck up.

I think you're mistaken.

30 Mar 2003 00:46 JanneM2

Re: Why Linux for the Masses
You bring up an important point, albeit implicitly.

All projects need domain knowledge. The developers/designers need not only know how to design and develop an application, they also need to know and understand the specific issues with the domain in which the application is to be used. For development tools, the domain knowledge comes with the territory for a programmer, hence the proliferation of editors and other development-related stuff.

What you _can't_ do is expect Joe Programmer to crank out a breeder management application (to take one of your examples). He/she knows little to nothing about animal breeding and does not understand the issues involved - and is most likely not interested in it either. What you need is either a developer that also happens to be a dog|cat|parrot|Old One breeder on the side, or a professional full-time breeder that happens to code as a hobby. An alternative is to hook up a breeder with a developer and let them work in concert; this still requires that the developer is genuinely interested in doing this, however. He's not getting paid, after all, but would be doing it as a hobby.

In fact, I think you can get a decent profile of outside interests of OSS developers simply by tabulating the number of applications on Freshmeat for different hobbies/interests. For interests that a lot of developers share there will be domain-specific tools, while for others there will be none. If the set of developers and the set of dog breeders do not overlap, there will be no breeder applications, and no amount of exhortations will change this fact.

/Janne

30 Mar 2003 01:55 PhrozenSmoke

In complete disagreement
I completely disagree with the 'choices' you've made, and, in fact, some of them contradict each other. For instance, why place KDE among the 'recommended' desktop environments, then mention, in passing, that the GUI toolkit KDE relies upon, QT, has licensing problems. If QT has licensing problems, then so does KDE. Technically, Trolltech, the makers of QT, could pull a 'Microsoft' at any time and make the whole tool kit closed source and/or proprietary. Scratch KDE off the list. KDE is also too bulky, rendering it next to unusable on lower-powered systems. Also, KDE with its default 'child-like' look is unlikely to be appealing to adult computer users coming from 'sophisticated' looking XP-style operating systems. (We all know that training a Windows user on how to change a simple look-and-feel would be a big challenge, which is why most Windows users use the 'default' settings that come with Windows. If the 'default' settings look kiddy, and the adult user doesn't know how to change them, they are likely NOT to keep using that desktop environment.) Second, I think you are WRONG for saying that the only 'usable' desktop environments are Gnome, KDE, Blackbox, and WindowMaker. First of all, WindowMaker and Blackbox, with their primitive look and feel are NOT going to attract current Mac and Windows users. Any window manager that doesn't have some kind of 'start' button is going to leave the average Windows user completely confused and incapacitated. Second, you left off your list one of the most stable window managers available: IceWM. It starts faster than KDE or Gnome, and has more Windows-like features. (By the way, have KDE and Gnome yet found a way to implement a 'double-height' taskbar like many Windows users are use to in THEIR operating systems? IceWM does.) IceWM, for whatever reason, calls itself a 'window manager', and yet, has more features than projects declaring themselves to be full 'desktop environments'. The taskbars in Gnome and KDE are atrocious and clumsy-looking. Also, the 'control panels' in Gnome and KDE have a look-and-feel completely unfamiliar to most Windows users. What's with these control panels comprised of a complicated sequence of 'expanding trees' likely to be confusing to most Windows/Mac users? Where are the clickable 'icons' for the user to quickly open the configuration tool/module they seek? Even worse, Gnome and KDE often take just as long to start as Windows. Now, why on earth would somebody switch from Windows to Gnome or KDE, only to find out that Gnome/KDE run just as slow (or slower) than Windows? KDE can EASILY eat up 25-50% of the system resources on a slower computer just starting, and we can't expect people to upgrade their whole computer just to use KDE. Impress them with a fast-starting IceWM that has most of the features they are use to from Windows. Next, While I prefer Gtk+ interfaces, Gtk+ needs LOTS of work. The first thing we need to get rid of in Gtk+ is all of these "GTK Critical" messages that can pop up from poorly-designed GUIs, and 'segmentation faults' need to go. Windows users do NOT like to trouble shoot, and a Windows user is unlikely to spend the time running 'gdb' to analyze a 'core dump'. The linux operating system needs to turn 'core dumps' OFF by default, and allow developers and the 'curious' to re-enable them if they choose too. I remember when I first switched from Windows to Linux, the 'segmentation fault' message scared the hell out of me. I didn't know what it meant or what to do, and I was expecting some type of dialog GUI message box explaining the error, not an abrupt closing of the program I was using. Even worse, for a linux newbie, is learning the hard truth that 'core dump' files can take up MANY MBs of diskspace, sometimes Gigabytes I have been told. We all know Windows users are not very good at managing their disk space or knowing what's wasting space on their system. So, the 'core dumps' need to GO! As any new Windows-to-Linux convert is going to feel their head spinning not understand why all their hard-drive space is being eaten away every time there is a program error. Also, Gtk needs to completely re-design their 'file selection' dialogs, as they a very clumsy and completely unfamiliar to Windows users. The 'file selection' dialog is one department where KDE has got things right. I think Gtk should emulate KDE's file selection dialog. Unfortunately, the new Gtk+ 2.0 is suppose to be an improvement on previous versions, but I find that the new Gtk+2.0 is almost as slow as KDE applications, and is starting to feel 'heavy' like KDE applications. The Gtk project might very well be going in the wrong direction, in my opinion. As far as 'sound': Alsa complete sucks and has successfully 'jammed' my sound card on many occassions. I prefer ESD or OSS, with OSS being the 'default', since Window users do not expect to have to launch a sound 'server' in order to enable sounds on their computers. (Sound just WORKS on Windows, and should do likewise on Linux, without the need for launching 40+ different sound 'daemons'.) For office applications: Open Office ONLY. I see no real future the KDE and Gnome office applications, as after years and years of development, these office applications STILL can't open most of my Word documents correctly. I would, however, add to the list of office applications, Abiword, since many computer users do JUST word processing, without the need for spreadsheets and databases. What the Linux operating system really needs to focus on is the development of a FAMILIAR file-management system that Window/Mac users will be comfortable with. There have been alot of noble efforts out there: GMC (defunct), Nautilus, KFM, Rox Filer, etc. However, NONE of them has yet to capture the SPEED and usability of the Windows Explorer. First of all, ALL of the file managers on Linux load directories too slowly (which Windows users are not use to). Clicking a directory should lead to IMMEDIATE, instantaneous loading, as on Windows, without a 'wait period' or a need to 'reload' changed directories. ALL file manager should offer a two-panel OPTION, as having 'folder windows' pop open on every click is clumsy and creates clutter for some users. For me, the best file manager would be a combination of GMC (now defunct) and Rox-Filer, with drastic SPEED improvements. GMC has the best file-association system (associating multiple applications with any file type) and Rox-Filer has the most Windows-like look-and-feel. If our job is to 'attract' Windows and Mac users, our open source applications have to offer features comparable (or better) than what they already have bundle in a 'look' they are familiar with, and trust me, BlackBox and WindowMaker ain't it. ANY version of Linux designed to attract long-time Windows users will have something like an 'Add/Remove Programs' feature in its 'control panel' and be based on a packaging system like RPM or Debian. Linux versions with NO packaging system of any kind are completely OUT, as you cannot expect an ex-Windows user to monitor primtive tarballs and hunt around the hard-drive when they want to un-install an application. Last but not least, makers of open source software often distributed their work as 'source only'. This is HORRIBLE! At least one or more binaries should always be available, as we cannot assume that new users coming from Windows/Mac are going to be interested in, educated enough, or WILLING to take the time to learn how to compile applications from source, when they can just as easily go back to Windows and re-install a working binary copy for their Windows system and get to work. Do you really think every average Windows user wants to take the time to understand "./configure -> make -> make install"? Let's not even get to how bad a Windows/Mac user will freak out at the sign of 'compile time' errors. No! Also lacking from Linux, is a FAMILIAR sophisticated installation system for applications which don't use RPM or Debian. Why should ANY average Windows user want to switch over to linux to have to install an application from the console, when they can stay on windows and install new applications by 'double clicking' and following nice GUI screens with clickable buttons and clear details? "./configure -> make -> make install" is good for computer geeks, but it is NOT the way to charm the average computer user coming from Windows/Mac, and expecting 'instantaneous' installation. Last but not least, Linux is missing a 'file finder' application that works QUICKLY, the way the 'Find..." feature on Windows does. No ex-Windows user is going to want to wait anywhere from 3 to 15 or 20 minutes to conduct a 'file search' or a large hard-drive. This has to change too.

Missing from Linux are instant messaging applications that do EVERYTHING the instant messaging applications do on Windows. For example, Gaim and Everybuddy can connect to almost every instant messaging service known to man. However, if you are a new Linux user coming from Windows/Mac, you will soon learn that you can no longer take advantage of Yahoo's webcam or voice chats, or MSN's voice chats. (I know, everybody is about to say "use GnomeMeeting" - well, the problem is that most Windows users can figure out Yahoo's webcam chat easier than GnomeMeeting/Netmeeting. Besides, doesn't GnomeMeeting log you onto the ILS servers as a 'linux outcast' that nobody using Microsoft's NetMeeting can see? To me, it defeats the purpose to log onto a directory server only to have nobody be able to see you, and the majority of people on ILS servers are NOT using GnomeMeeting, and therefore, cannot see you. Pointless!) It's absolutely humiliating to be on Linux, talk to a friend on Windows who wants to use Yahoo's web cam, and have to tell them "umm, sorry, I'm on Linux and can't use my web cam on Yahoo....oh, and by the way, voice chatting and IMvironments are out of the question too, but I have all the same 'smiley' icons you have." Yeah! That will make the Windows user want to switch over immediately! (sarcasm) Instead, Linux users are relegated to plain, boring text chats, while Windows and Mac users are treated to the 'full Monty' with modern webcams and voice chat. So, what was the point of developing V4L if its not used in some of the most important internet-based applications? I like linux because I'm a software developer. However, if I was just an 'average' computer user, no, I would not have any real incentive whatsover to dump Windows/Mac for Linux and have to take a step back into the dark ages and surrender all the great features I had gotten use to. This is one of the reasons why I feel compelled to keep at least one Windows-based computer in the home, because if I want to use webcam chat on Yahoo, or use an instant messenger that LOOKS and ACTS the way it does on Windows/Mac, Linux becomes completely useless. Right now, Linux is great for developers and hobbyists, but it's not ready for 'average users' seeking to maintain or increase the number of features they have acccess to.

30 Mar 2003 02:08 ikekrull

This is what a linux distro should provide
If you want only these components and to enforce standards and API restrictions in your OS, the OSS/Free Software ocmmunity has given you the freedom to do exactly that. The way to do this is to start a distribution that only includes these components, and has some type of DRM system to prevent people running 'unauthorised' libraries, media players and text editors on it.

Your distro can encourage consistency of GUI, API and applications , the revenues from sales can be used to fund the bug-fixing and development of the components you support, and the quality of your distro will lead to it's adoption as the standard Linux that all major app developers try to support.

Whatever you want Linux to be, you can make it, unless you are too lazy. If you are too lazy, thats fine, but I, for one, don't really care how lazy you are.

So if you are not prepared to start or get behind a similar existing effort, I would like to echo a previous posters sentiment that you please sit down and shut up, because more mindless whining like this is the last thing the OSS/Free software community needs.

30 Mar 2003 02:35 breuhaha

Re: Why Linux for the Masses

> You bring up an important point, albeit
> implicitly.
>
> All projects need domain knowledge. The
> developers/designers need not only know
> how to design and develop an
> application, they also need to know and
> understand the specific issues with the
> domain in which the application is to be
> used. For development tools, the domain
> knowledge comes with the territory for a
> programmer, hence the proliferation of
> editors and other development-related
> stuff.

True enough, but there a also quite a few programmers who write programs to learn something. Perhaps they are only interested in learning how to use a particular library, or how to do string substitution in a new language but maybe they might be just as interested in the particular issues of a knowledge domain if they thought about it.

> What you _can't_ do is expect Joe
> Programmer to crank out a breeder
> management application (to take one of
> your examples). He/she knows little to
> nothing about animal breeding and does
> not understand the issues involved - and
> is most likely not interested in it
> either. What you need is either a
> developer that also happens to be a
> dog|cat|parrot|Old One breeder on the
> side, or a professional full-time
> breeder that happens to code as a hobby.
> An alternative is to hook up a breeder
> with a developer and let them work in
> concert; this still requires that the
> developer is genuinely interested in
> doing this, however. He's not getting
> paid, after all, but would be doing it
> as a hobby.

Perhaps, perhaps not. There are lots of apps listed right here on Freshmeat which are not free. Some are free to try, or free for non-commercial use, and some are even open source, but still they charge for a commercial license.

The question of payment becomes one of either getting paid by a company to code a particular app, or coding an app and then selling it. Such work need not be done for free, and as I said, there are a lot of businesses which need these apps. Most would be willing to pay for one which they need. After all, if they are using such an app under Windows, they have almost certainly paid for it.

In any case, hooking up a willing programmer with a bunch of breeders would be the easy part, after all there must surely be lots of discussion boards for breeders. I'm sure they would love to talk about what they love and/or hate about their current software, if they have any.

> In fact, I think you can get a decent
> profile of outside interests of OSS
> developers simply by tabulating the
> number of applications on Freshmeat for
> different hobbies/interests. For
> interests that a lot of developers share
> there will be domain-specific tools,
> while for others there will be none. If
> the set of developers and the set of dog
> breeders do not overlap, there will be
> no breeder applications, and no amount
> of exhortations will change this fact.

I was just looking at my freshmeat reg a little while ago (I forgot my password to login to post) and see that I originally registered in 1998. I've looked at the listings almost daily since the site went up, so I think I've got a pretty fair idea of what's here, and I've tried out literally thousands of the apps listed, and sent lots of bug reports and feedback to developers.

So yes, I do have a thorough understanding of "the way things are". I just don't see that they have to stay that way.

And just because there are no breeder apps listed (there is a monster breeding game though), doesn't mean that there won't be, it might just mean that no one has suggested or asked for one, or that some dog-loving programmer just never though of it.

Doing a search for "business" gets me 155 listings, of which I see niche software for print shops and pizza delivery, several accounting packages, some office suites, customer relations management, some task management, some inventory control, lots of ecommerce, some project management and a few point of sale.

There seems to be a significant amount of interest in creating apps for business, but the work is fragmented, and very little of it is complete and usable. This is where the bazaar can really work, since there are obviously programmers interested in doing the work, why aren't they working together? Where is the community?

It's also interesting to note how many of these apps have Other/Proprietary Licenses (43/155). Someone must be making some money from some of these.

30 Mar 2003 03:50 tooar

Re: Drink your milk.

> I think i speak for a united free
> software community when i say: Sit down
> and shut the fuck up.

absolutely right, this article is ridiculous.

30 Mar 2003 05:04 PhrozenSmoke

Re: So Kill Developers.
Hahahaha - This person is funny and I really love and agree with your comments. I'm a developer (often developing memory-intensive Java applications) and see no reason why I should be FORCED to convert to using memory-intensive, clunky KDE or Gnome desktops for the purpose of 'Linux unity' when IceWM serves my purpose and uses less memory, leaving me free to develop. A 'memory intensive' desktop was the REASON I started doing all my software development on Linux (Windows eats up too much memory for me, and so does KDE and Gnome.) If somebody's computer is too slow to run Open Office, what's wrong with them having a copy of AbiWord or Gnumeric, instead. Suppose we ALL decide to 'commit' to using Open Office, only to have the developers of Open Office decide to cease development or close the source? The makers of Gaim could, if they wanted to, QUIT development at any minute (they are NOT legally-obligated to continue development, and despite what people say, have NO 'moral' obligation to continue development and owe us users NOTHING, no more than a charity group would 'owe' a homeless person continued 'support' after having fed that person once. This world doesn't own us ANYTHING, especially when we get it for free.) If the makers of Gaim stop development, and we ALL have relied upon it, and no one else was 'permitted' to develop alternative instant messaging applications, well then Linux users would suddenly have NO instant messaging applications at all. Isn't this what happens to Windows users when MS Exchange gets bogged down by a virus and can't be used until MS issues a 'patch': No e-mail until a 'patch' is available at Micro$oft's convenience....No instant messaging available until a 'patch' is available when the Gaim team gets ready to issue one? What's wrong with somebody say, using Gaim, then if Gaim becomes 'defunct' or stops connecting to one or more services, going and getting access to a copy of EveryBuddy, or aMSN, or some other application? The point of VARIETY is to have BACK-UP applications when one application ceases to work, ceases to be developed, or is abandoned. There have been SEVERAL times when one or more Gaim modules have stopped working with an instant messaging protocol, and I 'fell back' on alternative applications to access Yahoo, MSN, etc. What am I suppose to do? WAIT until the makers of Gaim get around to fixing the problem or launch another instant message application that is still connecting to Yahoo, MSN, etc. in the meantime. There have been NUMEROUS times when Gaim's Yahoo module has stopped connecting to Yahoo, so I guess I was suppose to interrupt my plans to chat, and immediately log into SourceForge and start helping the Gaim team fix the bugs in the Yahoo module and face the wrath of an angry girlfriend later? It was just as easy for me to use Everybuddy in the meantime, and download a 'fixed' copy of Gaim later. I guess I should be 'beheaded' for that? It's FREE software, and we all have the right to help or NOT help how and when we choose, and sometimes I just want to launch something that WORKS and go on with life, and that is my right. And, Gaim, might very well one day be abandoned - we don't know. However, it is ignornat to put all your eggs in one basket. That's what Windows users do, and that's why they have NO choice but to be the victim of various computer viruses coming through the e-mail software Microsoft provided them with. Oh, and I HATE mozilla-based browsers because they are TOO slow and use too much memory. I use opera: Does that mean I will be 'tarred-and-feather' or 'drawn-and-quatered'. The guy who wrote this article has suggested some Draconian measures even Bill Gates would shun. Shame on you!

> Free Software Developers, since they are
> not usually paid for what they're doing.
> They do it because they like it, because
> they think they're doing something good.
> Coding it is not like an art. Nobody
> told Munch not to paint his just
> because there were other 1000 painting
> which represented Mary, and Munch's is
> different from all others (for example).
> So the only way to be sure a programmer
> won't write his beloved piece of
> software is to kill him. Is this what
> you meant?? I like Emacs. It is perfect,
> it is an OS (tell me what you can't do
> with Emacs??)...
> There are no video player? That's true,
> if you're not able to compile mplayer
> (that is ./configure; make; su -c
> "make install")... and I can
> tell you, it supports so many codecs
> MediaPlayer can't even dream about it.
> No audio... that' true. If you wan't
> Cubase, there is no Cubase. Still I have
> no troubles in playing every sort of
> audio file and even to modify it... ALSA
> is wonderfull... it let's you hack into
> your soundcard more than every MS
> Mixer...
> Ok... OpenOffice is damn slow... it is
> true... try to make it smaller...
>
> DO YOU KNOW WHY IT SEEMS THERE IS LESS
> WINDOWS SOFTWARE???
>
> JUST BECAUSE IT'S A MONOPOLY.
>
> There where thousands of Office Suits.
> But MS Office kicked them all... When I
> was a child, in the 80' there was a
> period when Word Perfect was gainig
> success.. that was because MS Office had
> a better protection against copy, so it
> was easier to crack WordPerfect... it's
> not a joke. MS made it easier to crack
> Office, and it was done....
>
> Do we want a Monopoly???
> Ok...
> 1) Mozilla (if you want to use Galeon,
> Konqueror or Opera you'll be beheaded,
> if you want to use Kmail or Evolution
> your hands will be cut, and those who
> want to use Xchat, BitchX or any other
> IRC client will have their toungues
> cut)
> 2) Emacs (those who like Vi will be
> killed)
> 3) Bash (if you have been using csh for
> years, now you got to change)
> 4) OpenOffice (if your computer is not
> powerfull enough, the you'll be banned)
> 5) Gaim (other chat programs will be
> destroyed in public squares)
> 6) ... if you need something else
> (games, music software ecc.) you will be
> punished with death penalties....
>
> We are talking about FREE Software,
> aren't we? And free has many
> meanings.... but how could you define
> software free if those who wrote if were
> not free?

30 Mar 2003 05:06 anubi

Re: We sure we got the right proplem here?

> IMHO Linux just needs to be a bit more
> user freindly, Included all the programs
> you want and let the user pick, and make
> some way for the GUI based programs to
> work with each other (implement copy and
> paste between programs of diffrent
> desktop GUI's for example). Programs
> will need to interact EASILY for windoze
> user's to switch over. Finaly make the
> main programs ( OpenOffice ) the default
> program for handeling documents ( like
> they did in red 8.0 )

We are going this way:
Example: Red Hat 8.0
Run KDE as a Desktop Environment. Then launch Nautilus. You can drag files between a Konqueror and a Nautilus Window...
Run Gnome and launch Konqueror. You can drag files... that's true.

30 Mar 2003 05:08 ms99

more efforts to cooperate
Although living on the linux server side of the live only and not being involved in kde vs gnome vs xyz bashing, i think Marius is right. I take the title "Too Much Free Software" as a provocation. kde and alsa as (well known) examples. Let me share some thesis with you from this point of view.

Contributing to open source is a good thing
-> Whatever you do for the open source community: it's a good thing. It's valuable.

Developping something is a good thing
-> Starting a software development project is great. You learn a lot. You don't only get the knowledge, you even implement it. Brilliant.

Working on 300 solutions for the same problem is a good thing
-> If you run a project, you'll learn, that there are lots of other guys working on the same thing. Very good: either the world is in desperate need for a real good solution or you choose a good example to learn from.

Solving a problem more than once is a good thing
-> Having a solution at all is ok. Having more than one is even better. Having reviews available ist great. So review projects (promising or version 0.9x or better versions only).

Cooperative work is a good thing
- Sozialising is fun. Even sharing ideas and working together is fun. Coordinating things often enough is not what a developper wants to do (from my experience). So help them. Guide them.

Guidance is a good thing
-> Most programmers don't have lots of experiences doing projectmanagment. That again is a good thing. It's not their job. Most of them even don't want to setup some guidance. They want to build an application by woking on uml modells, coding, etc. So there's lack of "Open Projectmanagement" i think. Give willing software engineers some guidance and things will turn to better.

Looking at the single users needs is a good thing
-> Starting a project just for fun with the aim just to do a project ist ok. But maybe you'll get frustrated at the end if noone needs your solution. So ask your users.

Looking at corporate needs is a good thing
-> Getting involved in "demands of the real world" (not even looking at, if the demands are resonable or not - they are real) seems to be a clever idea to me. It gives you the chance to understand, to spread your message and to evaluate the relevance of your project in the outer world.

Earning money is a good thing
-> Overall i'm using the same distribution since years. I pay for it. They do lot's of work for me. If i would build everything from scratch, it would cost me much more than some bucks. They do lot's of coordination. They earn and they deserve their money.

"Not made here" is a bad thing
-> Often enough the only reason to start a new project is the "not made here" syndrome. "It can't be good, we didn't make it!" is lack of willingness to cooperate. I think of it as bad attituide.

"Not invented here" is a bad thing
-> Not only folks in need of a solution are willingless to cooperate in some cases. Already up'n running projects won't let you participate. Believe it or not - this is real. Again this is bad attitude from my point of view. Of cource i'm aware of the problems of "big" projects. Lot's of coordinative work, limits of keeping people in sync, etc. pp. But this is the real world challange. Showing pictures of "my car, my house, my wife" is not.

"Mine is bigger than yours is" ... well, it depends ;-)
-> Competition is usefull. A good thing. Ass kicking contests are - at minimum - dispensable [even though they are quite fun sometimes].

So nine out of twelve are good things. And the three which are not or not only are not open source dependent. Altogther open source is good - even as it is today.

What's the conclusion? Well: try to involve other people than developers much more. Look out for project mangagers, reviewers, documentators, testers, users. Try to accept guidance from them. Concentrate on the creation "open projects" more than on "open software". From my point of view this will make the "open source community" even more successful than it is today. And at the end doing it this way, there will be no need for asking sourceforge to take projects down (which - btw - would be a bad thing. It's about guidance and acceptance, not about control).

30 Mar 2003 07:32 mbenkmann

Have sex only for the good of mankind
A lot of people are having sex just to have fun or for other selfish reasons. This should not happen. I, as the leading moral authority of the world command you all to coordinate your sexual habits for the good of mankind. Rather than being so selfish as to sleep with your wife/husband yourself and create yet another non-optimal child, you should be looking for the man/woman whose genes best serve the community and encourage him/her to sleep with your spouse.

30 Mar 2003 08:19 okopnik

Re: Drink your milk.

> I think i speak for a united free
> software community when i say: Sit down
> and shut the fuck up.

YHBT. HTH, HAND.

(You Have Been Trolled. Hope This Helps, Have A Nice Day.)

As a writer myself, I understand the need to engage the audience, to talk about things that will spark a reaction. However, I believe that the author of this article has long ago crossed the line between engaging the audience and trolling for a reaction.

His conclusions are grossly distorted (necessarily so) by the original trollish premise, and the entire article is worthy of minimal to zero serious consideration. For a much funnier (and very close) parallel, see this explicit troll:

google.com/groups?selm... (google.com/groups?selm...)

30 Mar 2003 10:44 ms99

Re: Have sex only for the good of mankind
Well then: as an example ask the apache people for a comparison between having sex and managing their projects.

I'd expect something like "we are doing both - quite succesfully" as part of the answer, btw. ;-)

30 Mar 2003 14:07 mackstann

Re: Oh, don't be a jerk.
My thoughts exactly. I have a great desktop which I have tweaked to death, take away my window manager (freshmeat.net/projects...) and I'll kill you. ;)

Free software isn't free when you communize the whole community. I don't see what the problem is anyways, linux is gaining on the desktop and will continue to do so.

30 Mar 2003 15:03 dnfitz

I may be crazy...
I jumped from Windows a year ago.

I think that he is right & wrong. I think that to suck in those non-technical end users you have to concentrate on making things easier, perhaps by putting a little more effort into projects linked to the more end-user friendly distros like Redhat.

I personally also love the variety of open source and disagree on killing projects because someone's opinion is that a few others are better.... I mean, how did those mentioned projects get good in the first place?

So my personal advice, call me crazy, to the open source community, is to definetly support the projects that will put the desktop guys into linux seats, but don't drop the individuality and the variety that sites like freshmeat and sourceforge offer. It would really suck to go to freshmeat everyday, like I do, and see the same 10 projects over and over and over and over.........

Also, we all know Windows blows... but they have hardware down. My idea on this is to have a hardware specific freshmeat type organization that while concentrating on the problems at hand, moves to make a universal HCL style list for linux systems that hopefully distros and developers would stick to. Apparently nobody likes coding for hardware that much, so keep it in one place, and maybe some of the cash companies will toss some funds at it. Now if I am missing something, and this sort of thing has already started, I apologize.

Now for those saying "Why don't you do it!?", I'd have to answer: lack of experience. I am on my way to becoming a decent Java coder, and just do not yet have the talent to contribute responsibly to open source. Someday soon, perhaps.

31 Mar 2003 00:08 khakipuce

Documentation
One of the big problems I find with contributing to other projects is lack of documentation. All the Big, well adopted Open Soure projects are (reasonably?) well documented so a either a user or a developer it is easy to get in and work with them.

Generally it's not an issue if you've been with some code from the early days but when there are tens of thousands of lines of code spread over hundreds of thousands of source files, just getting started takes days.

And it's not just big projects, I recently needed a special version of traceroute, so I looked for one - could not find it, so I got the source for one that was close to what I wanted, with a view to modifying it. Nothing necessarily wrong with the code, but the comments were in French - not a langauge I speak. So I got another, it used a completely different set of libraries to the first, and while it was in (US) English, the code was not as well written so it was hard to read/understand. In fact the French one was easier to work with.

Several points here - open source is global and the world does not speak American. There are no coding standards (huge religious thing) or documentation standards - or even common computer languages. I code mainly in Java now, but most open source is in C, some C++, some Perl, some PHP. So to be able to find a good baseline to modify I need one in a langauage I know (any of the afore mentioned will do) then I need to get my head roung the code, and then make the mods I need. Fankly, for utility type programs, it's often easier to write one from scratch.

31 Mar 2003 00:27 aviyag

An easy solution to your problem
There's an easy way to make your favourite programs/environments the leading or most popular. Just start contributing your code and makethem the best choice for linux users ...:)

31 Mar 2003 01:30 Avatar romania

Extremely local oppinion
Hmm... I understand Marius' oppinion. And in a certain context he is right.

He, I (can I say we?) come from Romania. This is a place where you can still get pirated versions various OSs and Office packs at street corner at a bit more than the price of the CD. And, with the wider spread of CD writers, most people do get those packs at the CDR price. I'm not commenting on bootlegging or anything related. Only I'm pointing out the fact that in this part of the world Windows comes at the same price as Linux, MS Office at a lower price than OpenOffice (OO have to be downloaded by the one who wants it while MSO is accessible from the pirates, no hassle, no Inet traffic bills, etc).

At the same time here MS Visual Studio can be obtained almost as easy as Windows. So, most programmers started up by working with MFC. They are used with that style (everything in one bulky pack). And that is exactly the Qt style. No wonder that most romanians praise the Qt way and go to certain lenghts into criticising the modular approach of Gnome.

Now, I understand why he is so upset with this overspawning of projects. He is working with others to translate into Romanian the various distributions and graphical interfaces. And in time he probably grew sick of the redundancy of his work as there are tens of versions for the same thing. And although I don't entirely agree with his point, the essence is right. For example the task of writing CDs. There is cdroast. There is also cdrdao (less used). On top of those command line app there are tens of apps, mostly poorly written that offer a graphical interface. And really, all can be done in one app. Interface? Might be made skinnable (with an option for people like me who don't care much about the pictures to disable that at compile-time). There is are Gnome apps. There are KDE apps. There are shell apps. There are GTK+ only apps. Now, take the Licq example: one program. Various integrations: KDE, Gnome, GTK+. And the list of examples can go for days.

Besides, I see more than one comments about 'no decent movie player', but in the haste of a quick answer it is forgotten the next part about being included in a desktop. No decent movie player comes with Gnome, KDE or other Linux desktop. mplayer and xine (the leaders from what I see and read) come sepparate from the desktop. More: mplayer is only recently included in the distributions and not all come with it.

I'm quite sure he didn't mean a gestapo style imposed over all apps. He only wanted to express his point over this issue.

Also, Marius made the mistake of not taking into consideration the whole process. The distribution should include a 'default' choice that will deliver a stable workstation. It has no importance whatsoever if distribution X choses editor Y as the best. The other editors are there packed for whomever wished to make a change. Besides, it's a nice thing to have your own work (text editor for example) acknoledged by the world. With the current storage media prices I don't see any problem with packing the YetAnotherDullTextEditor (short YADTE) as long as it is stable. Now, if end user Joe who has almost no computer experience wants to make a choice and tests all the 300+ editors than he feels frustrated after editor 184 it's only his fault.

Now... Microsoft is a purely commercial company. The IT is there just to add a certain 'expert' environment. Some years ago their supporters were shouting there is no alternative on the other platforms. Now they say there are too many alternatives... people should care less about propaganda and more about their work and family. Guess if this is aplicable, most wars will die as there won't be any popular support.

Marius: why no Gnome link? I see there is a KDE link. I see a WindowMaker link. But www.gnome.org/...

About the office apps: they are starting do know each-other's format. Just give them time. From what I see most now use XML insted of a binary format. And the problem is getting as easy as knowing the other app's DTD.

One mistake: the browsers seems to be based on Mozilla. But they actually use the Geko rendering engine and not Mozilla. Phoenix uses Mozilla as it is a stripped down version of Mozilla. But Galeon and the others are integrating Geko.

Regarding the server part things are a complicated as with the desktop. Maybe fewer options. But who in his/her right mind would start chosing from 300 text editors? We all test 5 'recommended' editors. And chose one from those 5.

Apache is a nice thing for a big server. But I have seen lots of servers running apache because it is the default, because it is easy to manage and so on. And in many cases something like www.boa.org/ or caudium.net/ is more than enough. Far safer, almost no resource consumption and many more.

Same goes for the databases. Most open source apps nowadays relate to one of those two. And for a thing like a list, and not a relation database those are poor choices. If I need lots of features and already run MySQL in the background it's obvious I would use MySQL for trivial tasks as well. But to keep a beast like MySQL up and running just for a phone number list and a movie&book list... no way. And this is when the various projects become useful. If only the open source developers would be wise enough to choose the right tools.

The SMTP servers are more than three... case closed.

Marius, you are ignoring the fact that some projects spawned with a good reason. Examples... there are many. Sylpheed is an excellent mail client. It goes for simple, clean, stable. There is also Sylpheed-claws. The second project goes for stable but with more features and more cutting edge. Finally parts of the claws code getts back into the main project. In other cases there is a problem with the development team - the leader is against a certain feature. There is no way to persuade him/her to change his/her mind. Thanks to the open source spirit you can spawn, make your changes and prove that works and it is good enough to get into the main tree. This is actually not my point. But Linus Torvalds' point regarding features and drivers not being included in the official source tree. Another issue - the development language. If the project I like is done in Java and I want a fast C version what can I do? If the project is done in C and I want a cross-platform Java app what can I do? If the project is done in C and I don't know any C but I am willing and able to contribute what shall I do?

Marius, should I remind you that the rtfs project (rtfs.sourceforge.net/) has ZERO activity? I don't think those pages are worthless. But according to your words it should have been erased starting June 2002!!!

I also disagree with the 'from scratch'. Yes, avoid reinventing the wheel. But IMHO if only Microsoft should have decided some time after Windows 98 to rewrite from stratch their system incorporating the new technologies (intead of patching) we wouldn't have talked in 2003 about Linux rising.

31 Mar 2003 04:00 Avatar hansoft

Re: In complete disagreement
%that the GUI toolkit KDE relies
> upon, QT, has licensing problems.
> --
It does not. Since a few years QT is GPLed. Ask anyone (like Debian).

> KDE is also too bulky,
> rendering it next to unusable on
> lower-powered systems.
> --
I've successfully installed KDE 2.2 on a 32 MB/166MHz machine. It allocates only 16MB of memory (no swap!). It takes 15 seconds to lauch a program, but after starting the performance is very acceptable. Sure, I needed some tweeking, but you know your trade or you don't..

> Also, KDE with
> its default 'child-like' look is
> unlikely to be appealing to adult
> computer users coming from
> 'sophisticated' looking XP-style
> operating systems.
> --
I can make KDE look and behave like Windows 9x, Macintosh OS9 or OSX, CDE, XP, anything.
Again, you know your trade or you don't..

> (We all know that
> training a Windows user on how to change
> a simple look-and-feel would be a big
> challenge, which is why most Windows
> users use the 'default' settings that
> come with Windows.
> --
- Make a theme.
- Launch theme manager.
- Click theme.
- Click 'Apply'.

> Also, the 'control
> panels' in Gnome and KDE have a
> look-and-feel completely unfamiliar to
> most Windows users.
> --
Sure, it'a another operating system. Windows doesn't conform themselves to anything, don't they.

> .. and we
> can't expect people to upgrade their
> whole computer just to use KDE.
> --
Bill Gates asks it all the time. On my 10-year old computer I can't run Windows XP, but it DOES run KDE 3.1.

> Windows users do NOT like to trouble
> shoot, and a Windows user is unlikely to
> spend the time running 'gdb' to analyze
> a 'core dump'.
> --
No, because you can't.. And when you call Microsoft support they say either:
- Reboot, or:
- Reinstall.

> Even worse, for a linux newbie, is
> learning the hard truth that 'core dump'
> files can take up MANY MBs of diskspace,
> sometimes Gigabytes I have been told.
> We all know Windows users are not very
> good at managing their disk space or
> knowing what's wasting space on their
> system.
> --
You can let CRON take care of your core-dumps easily. But hey, Windows is not too good at scheduling things, is it?

> I see no real future
> the KDE and Gnome office applications,
> as after years and years of development,
> these office applications STILL can't
> open most of my Word documents
> correctly.
> --
Sometimes Word can't either and you have to call Open Office to the resue.

> What the
> Linux operating system really needs to
> focus on is the development of a
> FAMILIAR file-management system that
> Window/Mac users will be comfortable
> with.
> --
My Konquerer works just like Explorer. Configure, configure, configure...!

> However,
> NONE of them has yet to capture the
> SPEED and usability of the Windows
> Explorer. First of all, ALL of the file
> managers on Linux load directories too
> slowly (which Windows users are not use
> to). Clicking a directory should lead
> to IMMEDIATE, instantaneous loading, as
> on Windows, without a 'wait period' or a
> need to 'reload' changed directories.
> --
Last time I checked my Explorer had also a 'Refresh' option in one of it's menu's. However, Konquerer loads a lot faster and doesn't lock up while loading (which Windows does and not only with Explorer). It also sorts the files correctly and doesn't add new files to the bottom. I can do much neater things with Konquerer than Explorer.

> ANY version of Linux designed to attract
> long-time Windows users will have
> something like an 'Add/Remove Programs'
> feature in its 'control panel' and be
> based on a packaging system like RPM or
> Debian.
> --
Try kpackage. Why should it be in the Control Centre? I have nothing against it, but why?

> This is HORRIBLE! At least one or more
> binaries should always be available, as
> we cannot assume that new users coming
> from Windows/Mac are going to be
> interested in, educated enough, or
> WILLING to take the time to learn how to
> compile applications from source, when
> they can just as easily go back to
> Windows and re-install a working binary
> copy for their Windows system and get to
> work.
> --
Most of 'em are, but because Linux is a fast moving system *and* still allows you to do useful work with an old version, there are sitations where the ability of using a source package is very useful. But if you don't, upgrade frequently and go for the rpm's/deb's.

> Why
> should ANY average Windows user want to
> switch over to linux to have to install
> an application from the console.
> --
$ su -c"rpm -Uvh myapps.rpm"
$ myapps

> Last but
> not least, Linux is missing a 'file
> finder' application that works QUICKLY,
> the way the 'Find..." feature on
> Windows does. No ex-Windows user is
> going to want to wait anywhere from 3 to
> 15 or 20 minutes to conduct a 'file
> search' or a large hard-drive. This has
> to change too.
> --
Try LOCATE. If you love your Windows, disengage quickfind, please.

> MSN's voice chats.
> --
Know the 'Swedish cook' incident? That's why!

> or use an instant
> messenger that LOOKS and ACTS the way it
> does on Windows/Mac, Linux becomes
> completely useless.
> --
Well, that's your main problem: true, Linux is no Windows and will never be it. If you want it to be that way, you can make it work pretty much like it, but it will never be a copy. If you like Windows so much, stick with it and don't bother us with your silly "why-is-linux-no-windows" remarks. Have you ever tried the reverse, "why-is-windows-no-linux"? You get a much larger article, I can tell you.

> Right now, Linux is
> great for developers and hobbyists, but
> it's not ready for 'average users'
> seeking to maintain or increase the
> number of features they have acccess to.
> --
Linux does great for end-users once properly configured to their taste and experience. I've done that several times (mimick Mac or Windows). They love that it keeps on running for weeks without a reboot, they can't 'break' anything and it is so reliable. Much easier than they thought. After a while, they are even comfortable installing programs after you've shown 'em how. E.g. YAST keeps track of and solves dependencies. Installation can be easy on a standard machine (try like Knoppix), but a problem with old/non-standard hardware. We're getting there...! (you don't)

31 Mar 2003 04:45 rdowner

Re: Drink your milk.

> As a writer myself, I understand the
> need to engage the audience, to talk
> about things that will spark a reaction.
> However, I believe that the author of
> this article has long ago crossed the
> line between engaging the audience and
> trolling for a reaction.
>
> His conclusions are grossly distorted
> (necessarily so) by the original
> trollish premise, and the entire article
> is worthy of minimal to zero serious
> consideration.

The article does make a good point however, one which Linux Kernel people went through very recently -- see:
groups.google.com/grou...

Diversity is good, but perhaps there's a bit too much diversity -- too many cases of people starting a new project, because all the existing projects are not *quite* what you need. Surely it would be better if some of these programmers concentrated on improving an existing project, instead of starting a new one. By doing that there would be a smaller number of products for a given task, but hopefully those products would be *higher quality* due to the larger number of programmers working on them. Also, the number of users of these products would not be spread so thinly, therefore more users using a particular product, hopefully meaning more bug reports and feedback to the programmers, again resulting in a better quality product.

If a large number of people (users and programmers) support a product then it should become a better product -- lots of people will benefit. Creating a new, small product just to match your needs and those of a handful of users really benefits only a small number of people.

(Footnote: the original article might be a troll, but that doesn't mean we can't all have sensible discussion about the issue here. Right everyone? :-)

31 Mar 2003 05:05 madgino

Re: Too many car models
This is a bad example. They win big money from selling cars and ofcourse there are no free cars.
The example should look like: there are 100 free carburators but no one match for your free car (made from free parts).

31 Mar 2003 11:12 grimBeast

I get scared
Hi all

First a minor disclaimer - I'm one of those newly converted ones - that are trying out Linux, just to see if it's for me too.

I've been using it for 2 weeks now - and generally I find it more or less to my satisfaction.

But I started thinking about what the h... is going on with all the software - half the packages do not work - Just an example - wanted a messenger - tried first gnoMessenger on RedHat 8 worked ok, tried another distribution to see if it fitted my needs better - ended up on SuSE 8.1, then again I tried gnoMessenger - no can't do - just can't work - tried all sorts of funny tricks. Ok then I can just get another one tried several different ones, ended up with KMerlin, and thought that it must work as KDE is the preferred desktop with SuSE - BUT NO.

So to make a long story short - I still have no messenger - and must agree completely with the author of the article.

To all you super programmers out there - contrate on makeing the software packages that exists better more stable and easier to use.

No matter what troubles I must encounter I will stay on Linux - at least on one of my machines :-)

01 Apr 2003 00:13 robla

Multimedia: Helix DNA
I'm bummed out that the Helix DNA (helixcommunity.org) didn't make it in the mix (this is the media engine which drives the RealOne Player from RealNetworks).

One big reason to consider this is because the opportunity for a very healthy symbiotic relationship is there. RealNetworks is very actively pursuing a cross-platform strategy that will get consistent media playback on all platforms. By then adding depth to the Linux offering, the community can leverage the work of RealNetworks to have a solid offering that benefits from both a healthy community, and robust commercial backing.

Rob Lanphier

RealNetworks

01 Apr 2003 09:34 yeti2

Re: Right on :)
Note this is also about diveristy, only on a higher level. You seem to be happy with unified environment, without many choices. So you find some. You had a chance of finding some, because there was a diversity in the environments. Don't you see it?

01 Apr 2003 09:45 yeti2

Re: Too many car models

Actually, your example is wrong.

When none of the 100 carburators fit the car (hmm, where you've got such a whole incompatible car), then it's about interoperability and standards. Sometimes they are missing or poorly implemented, but this is not related to the number of programs. Only the bad interoperability should be fixed.

So, what's wrong with a choice of 100 carburators, provided that all of them are compatible with your car?

01 Apr 2003 09:58 yeti2

Re: Weird logic
Yes, the "remove projects with less than 1% activity in last six months" is plainly stupid. This would eventually remove all mature tools (e.g., less). Tools are small and well defined, and mature means they overcame the feature-creep phase and simply work, and don't need a dozen of bugfixes every week. A new release still can appear from time to time, but meanwhile, the project would be always removed...

01 Apr 2003 10:25 yeti2

Why you are fascist

As you may noticed, people are using many different programs and complaining you didn't mention them. They obviously do it, because these programs fit their needs. IOW you want to ban programs fitting other people needs simply because they are different than you[rs] (the people and the needs). What about banning having different needs? This would efficiently make diversity unnecessary.

A diversity example from practice: I and my two friends all use Fvwm (not mentioned, BTW ;-) What a great unity! No, in fact, none of us can productively use Fvwm configurations of the other two. They are a way too different. And this is typical for Free Software, and there's nothing wrong with it. Who wants to use software doing what some abstract "most people" need? I want software doing exactly what I need, and the diversity gives me a chance. If you don't like diversity, use Mac, lokc yourself in a cupboard, or whatever. Who are you to dictate what software others use or write? Maybe if you were going to pay us all for using Gtk+ on KDE (your prefered combination, it seems ;-) , we could consider it.

01 Apr 2003 23:06 0x0d0a

Re: wxWindows == part of your solution!
Plus, there's a gtk target for wxWindows. So you can be a gtk fan and still use wx...

01 Apr 2003 23:15 0x0d0a

Re: Commercialism and too many licenses.

> Unfortunately most
> "Free Software" users are
> really "Open Source" users.
> We're talking folks who buy a
> distribution for a good chunk of money
> and then complain that it doesn't do
> everything Windows XP does.
>
>

You may like RMS's dogma, but please don't ascribe idiocy to those of us who don't. I seriously doubt ESR -- Open Source proponent premiere -- "buys a distro for a good chunk of money and then complains that it doesn't do everything Windows XP does".

You're thinking of newbie users, *not* Open Source types.

01 Apr 2003 23:16 0x0d0a

Re: Right on :)

> You seem to be happy
> with unified environment, without many
> choices.

And an expensive one at that.

01 Apr 2003 23:29 0x0d0a

Re: Why Linux for the Masses

> Why is there so much concern with making
> Linux "appeal to the masses"? Why would
> linux users want a bunch of XP fans
> defecting to the Linux world?

1) Hardware support. Linux folks want to be able to use cameras and scanners. They want to be able to use sound cards and Ethernet cards. They want to be able to use *all* the features on their printer. That doesn't happen without code (or at least specs) from the hardware vendor. That isn't going to happen universally unless Linux is a very significant chunk of the desktop market.

2) Format and protocol compatibility issues. Linux folks don't want to have to deal with large numbers of documents they can't read, like .doc. The only way to prevent people from using proprietary formats as interchange formats (which frequently contain data that a Linux person might need) is to keep any proprietary app from dominating the market.

3) Jobs. A lot of Linux folks would like to do Linux development full time. The more money in Linux, the better their chances.

4) Bitterness towards Microsoft. Microsoft has pulled many, many nasty tricks over the years. A lot of these have screwed over Linux users through compatibility or whatnot. The temptation to "beat" Microsoft by taking away their clients is more than slight.

5) Pity for users. I remember one girl in a high school lab: "I hate computers! They always crash on me!" That hurt, really hurt. Microsoft and a few of their apps had soured this girl on what I see as a wonderful area. Users pay hundreds of dollars for software packages, more for crummy shareware, and deal with flakiness throughout. Among some developers, there's a desire to help the users who have been screwed over for years.

6) Fame. Being the developer of the IM software that most people in the world use is no small ego trip.

02 Apr 2003 06:55 mandreiana

The negative comments are missing the point
Most of the negative comments were missing the point. This article isn't about a selection of software which gets Andreiana's stamp of approval, it's about focusing the work from tens of variants of the same software to just a few, which will work then.

I've just tried Audacity as suggested in the comments to record sound. Compiled version 1.1.3. I start it, press Record, press Stop after a while and watch it crash (every time). Lucky there are other tens of sound recorders, one will work. Maybe that won't have the ability to add echo effects, but should be another one which can. Get the point?

Here's another example, CAD applications. There are quite a few free chices, but none doesn't come close to Autocad. Of course, they don't have any common library. How about uniting the efforts to develop a set of libraries needed for CAD computations and then an interface based on these? Something useful would come up.

Another thing which would help would be for me to start helping with code too instead of saying 'Do this, do that'. See you around...

03 Apr 2003 11:50 saber850

Completely agree, although...
I completely agree with this article. But I think there should be some clarrifications. First and formost, everyone should understand and agree:

Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

Regarding the original subject's title, I think it should be altered a bit. Perhaps, "Too much wasted time." And in altering the title, I make the premise for my argument. Note that I did not re-write the entire article simply because I thought a few points needed clarification or elaboration. I'm re-using the original and adjusting it as I see fit.

I'll use the excess number of available text editors for most of my points. I am a software engineer for a company that delivers all products on Linux. I do not use IDEs, only text editors. I cannot name more than 10 editors, and I only use 3. I cannot fathom the need for 300+ text editors. And I am willing to bet that there are not 300+ unique ideas in these projects. If you have a great idea for a text editor, find one that closest matches your needs and contribute to it. I'm not advocating a single text editor, I'm not even limiting the quantity. I'm just pointing out the wasted effort. There are common features that all editors should have--load, edit, save, cut, copy, paste, etc. They are identical--why recreate the wheel? Like I said, just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

I agree that most people develop software from scratch for egotistical reasons. Where would GCC be if everyone and their mother decided to create the next best compiler?

Each project has a purpose. If this purpose is clearly defined, there is no need for hundreds of unique implementations. There's no need to re-invent the wheel.

If the wasted effort put into all these excess projects was channeled into the closest matching project, the entire community would be lightyears ahead. Proprietary systems would be strugging to keep up, instead of the opposite.

03 Apr 2003 19:45 sholden

Re: Why He's Right

> to borrow from the original article, out
> of the 385 text editors mentioned,
> probably 300 are dead projects that
> never reached version 1. how is the
> world better off with 300 text editors
> left for dead at version 0.6.4?
>
> it isn't. the world is much better off
> for the many and varied editors whose
> creators have taken seriously their
> responsibility to build and maintain a
> usable product.

A large number of those left for dead text editors where probably the first programming project attempted by people new to the "create a real application" thing. After all a text editor is small enough to be doable by one person in a short time, and yet provides a lot of scope for featuritis.

Those text editors while not being a great resource in themselves, are the evidence of a number of people gaining experience in the creation of software, and in the workings of the free software world.

Modifying an existing program is a different task, and often it's easier to get up to speed by starting from scratch. Hence those text editors mightn't be useful, but their creation gave experience to people who can contribute to the text editors that are popular, and to non-text editor projects.

Some of them are possibly experiments with new approaches to the way of doing things. The vast majority of those approaches are destined to fail, but occassionaly one succeeds. A new approach is usually far easier to do from scratch then it is to graft into an existing program - especially in a text editor where the base program is simple enough to hack up quickly.

A landscape full of the corpses of dead text editors is evidence of a growing body of free software programmers with experience in coding and in the workings of a free software project.

03 Apr 2003 20:36 markwhi

Re: In complete disagreement
Please don't take this as a flame or personal attack; instead, consider it to be friendly advice to help you make your points and thoughts more easily consumable by others.

I didn't get past the third sentence in your first block of text before deciding to skip to the next reply. I doubt many other people read much farther. Most people don't read things word for word the first time through; they skim or scan to see if the information is relevant or interesting to them before taking the time to read in detail. This is difficult or impossible to do if you don't break your text up into paragraphs.

Paragraphs can also help you to organize your thoughts when writing. Each paragraph should embody one or two points, and those points should be clearly stated in the first sentence or two. Supporting arguments and explanations should follow. Organizing your writing in this way serves to eliminate the unnecessary repetition of information and makes it easy to pick out the key points in a document.

Good luck in your future writing endeavours.

-Mark

04 Apr 2003 07:04 ska2342

Evolutionary Point of View
I really appreciate well written as well as provocative assays :-)

In my early days of getting to know the world of Free Software I had very much the same feelings: why the h*ll would those Gnome and KDE programmers join their efforts and build a better thing. Over the years I experienced that free software is following a evolution that is pretty close to the one found in earths biology. And funny enough nobody is complaining about too many lifeforms on this planet ;-)

I think you need a vast amount of coders to come up with a good solution by starting several projects many of which might come to an unsuccessfull end.

One -obvious- solution would be some kind of rating, but who is supposed to do that? I think that the rating kind of works already by having some programs being more popular than others (what ever mechanis might me responsible for that).

The major problem that I see is that projects do not really die. How are you to find out whether a program is so mature that it doesn't need any updates anymore or whether it is simply dead? If the freshmeat archive would be cleaned of all those projects it'd be a lot easier to find the program you're looking for...

Best Regards
Stefan Kamphausen

04 Apr 2003 07:16 turmeric

look, you just dont get it, ok?
people HAVE Tried to fix the problems in existing applications. the problem is that the open source people ARE SHITTY LEADERS. the IGNORE PATCHES. they dont WANT problems fixed. in fact, things like 'ease of use' and so forth are considered NOT TO BE PROBLEMS BY OPEN SOURCE LEADERS. I remember one flamewar on the galeon dev list about how the leader wanted to release version 1.0 with a KNOWN CRASHING BUG in it. people were trying to tell him this was wrong, but in a 'benevolent dictatorship' that is so common in open source, the idiots at the top think they know everything and can never be blind to the needs of the user. the fact is there are 400+ text editors because the dumbshits leading the main existing text editors are horrible leaders who do not incorporate the needed suggestions and patches from their users, and have no understanding of what it means to be responsible for hundreds or thousands of people instead of your own personal whim and your own personal 'fun' project... which is what open source is based on mostly. even those stupid books are called 'just for fun' or whatever. which would also explain the multiple linux stock frauds: if its just for fun and your own kicks, you can crap on the shareholders as easily as you crap on your users.

the ONLY WAY you can prevent forking is to CHANGE THE WAY OPN SOURCE PROJECTS WORK. you CANNOT have one dictator ruling over everyone and deciding everything. THIS IS WHAT CAUSES FORKING. THIS IS THE PROBLEM. THE TECHNOLOGY IS NOT THE PROBLEM.

you need to do some changes. you need to for example try a democratically based patch process, something where the grunts HAVE A SAY in the product, where the big boss does not consider everyone else to be 'unimportant peons'. thats like the stupid fucking linux kernel FAQ tells you flat out 'you are not important unless you spend 500 hours hacking the kernel'. GUESS WHAT? just because you dont spend 500 hours hacking the kernel DOES NOT MAKE YOUR IDEAS BAD. if we are going to be SCIENTIFIC then we have to base decisions on something other than REPUTATION and EGO BULLSHIT. too bad the existing 'benvolent dictator and his generals' paradigm DOES EXACTLY THAT, PROMOTES EGO BULLSHIT AND DESTROYS TECHNICAL ARGUMENTS.

god you people are dumbfucks. maybe you should have taken some political science and history courses in school instead of your 5 millionth math class.

04 Apr 2003 07:18 turmeric

forgot to say one thing
YO DONT HAVE TO BE A FUCKING PHD IN SOFTWARE ENGIENERING TO KNOW WHEN SOMETHING IS BROKEN. USERS KNOW WHEN THEY SIT DOWN IF SOMETHING IS BROKEN. YOU CANNO SNOWJOB THE USERS

04 Apr 2003 07:20 turmeric

uhm, yes it is

> Most of the negative comments were
> missing the point. This article isn't
> about a selection of software which gets
> Andreiana's stamp of approval,

then, now watch me closely, this is really hard for someone who didnt
pass english class, HE SHOUDNT HAVE SPENT HALF THE ARTICLE TALKING
ABOUT WHICH PROGRAMS ARE BEST

04 Apr 2003 07:48 ajsajscom

Re: forgot to say one thing

> YO DONT HAVE TO BE A FUCKING PHD IN
> SOFTWARE ENGIENERING TO KNOW WHEN
> SOMETHING IS BROKEN. USERS KNOW WHEN
> THEY SIT DOWN IF SOMETHING IS BROKEN.
> YOU CANNO SNOWJOB THE USERS

No, you don't. I don't even have a BS, for example. I do, however know how to tone down my comments and avoid irritating people when I want to be taken seriously. If you don't have that skill, and/or you are not willing to respect the opinions of others you will probably be ignored.

I disagree with your assertions for the most part, but I also disagree with the article. The article assumes that consolidation happens at the project level, ignoring the fact that the evolutionary pressures on OSS work from the top-down, not the bottom-up.

Consumers put evolutionary pressure on distributions by selecting them for various uses. Distributions (be they one of the BSDs, one of the Linuxes or what-have you) put evolutionary pressure on projects by selecting tools, contirbuting fixes and adding developers where they get the biggest bang for their buck. Projects for the most part live and die by their momentum. Momentum is directly dependent on (as you point out) leadership as well as usage (affected by distributions), popularity of the software's approach and niche and the technologies involved.

Let me take the article's example. Mozilla is the most popular OSS browser. It has several flavors (e.g. Phoenix) and UI-projects (e.g. Galeon). There are also a number of other browsers (KHTML-based browsers such as Konqueror; W3; lynx; etc). These projects all vie for dominance in their niches (lynx, for example is the dominant text-based browser), and can all succede in their niches without killing the others.

Mozilla, for example, would probably continue on and do quite well for itself, even if it were no longer the leading OSS browser because AOL has long-term plans for the code base. This is a distribution-influence. It would do no good for AOL to say, "oh well KHTML is more popular now", because they're not looking for the most popular browser, they're looking for a platform on which to build a sustainable next-generation of their entire ISP-interface application.

This is the power and flexibility of open source software. Market dominance is only one element of the puzzle, so the evolutionary pressures that made it make sense for MS to be so abusive are vastly reduced in the OSS world. It now makes sense for developers to focus on what matters most to them.

The "don't do your own thing, fix what exists" mentality is fine for an individual (and I respect it), but for the community to thrive and grow dynamically, it needs to be allowed to evolve in all directions at once, exploring every possibility and then let a rather complicated mesh of semi-heirarchical users (e.g. distributions, bundlers, end-users, etc) sort out the wheat and chaffe to produce the end-result you're looking for.

04 Apr 2003 07:55 dazk

You definately have a point!
The problems you describe actually exist. At least they do
sort of. Some areas do have too many choices available. Then
again, who cares? Most of the editors of the 300+ you
counted aren't used anyways. They are probably not even
shipped with distributions. That way, simple endusers won't
see them anyways. And additionally texteditors are
compatible. So there, it doesn't really matter.

The problems in the multimedia domain are more important.
But regarding video, there is mplayer. Mplayer is the best. It
plays just about everything and does it well. It just lacks an
enduser friendly gui that's all.

I don't understand your QT bashing. As far as I know,
QT-X11 is dually licensed. You can use it under GPL2, what
makes a GPL2 licensed QT different from any other GPLed
windowing toolkit? I admit, I've done more developing with
QT/KDE than with GTK but QT/KDE is about the best and
most intuitive programming environment I've ever used. JAVA
comes in a close second. It's a good thing to have QT or even
QT together with kdelibs around. Besides, I think GTK is close
to being as ugly as tk but that's my personal opinion and
shouldn't matter here.

You talk about nameservers and webservers. Of course bind
and apache lead the pack here. But there are also many
alternatives you simply ignored. Which means your case
doesn't hold here.

I agree that there should be even more interoperability
between the major windowing environments. But I really
believe this will happen eventually. If you look at the
developpers, there is no such thing as a war between
desktops. This seems to be a user thing. Actually quite a few
core libraries are used in both projects and efforts are there
to integrate the two. This will take time but eventually the two
major desktop environments will coexist even better than
they do already.

I don't think it's the development community that has to
solve the problem you mentioned. I think it's a task of the
distributors. They should choose the packages that are best
fit to be presented to the enduser. Most distributions actually
do that and most choices are similar. That way, the enduser
experience is similar with all distributions. Additionally you
must see the way the software is developed. Developers are
just people, they tend to disagree on things and tend to
prefer different approaches. I for example wouldn't even
bother to start developing a highlevel application in an ancient
language like C. If it's supposed to run natively I'd prefere
C++. I hate callback functions, at least if they are visible. I
would never start a project using a C based toolkit that
makes heavy use of callbacks. You can rant as you like but
you won't change me. I think you'll find similar preferences
with everybody occasionally or often writing software. That's
the reason for the plethora of different apps doing the same
thing.

I think it'll just take some time for one or two apps to emerge
in every area being way ahead of the pack. This or those are
the ones that will be packed as default. Eventually you'll get
what you want but not because of the reasons you give, as
good as they acutually are. But they don't honor reality which
makes them interesting to read and think about but in the
end useless.

I think we already see a trend to focus on similar base
technologies. ALSA is adopted by most major distributions.
Right now, OSS is available in emulation mode in most cases
but most major apps that I use can deal with ALSA natively.
Eventually there will be much less need for sound daemons or
they can happily coexist. They won't disappear though. And
there is a simple reason for that. Gnome and KDE are not
linux apps. They are used mainly on linux but not solely.
There is no ALSA for FreeBSD or Solaris. As long as the
functionality now provided by Sounddeamons is not offered
by all platforms the apps run on, there is a need for those
deamons. Additionally they serve as an abstraction layer to
the underlying apps to save programmers to deal with
platform issues in every single application. Hopefully the major
sound deamons will eventually have interfaces for each other
wich allows them to be stacked together. That way a
distributor would only have to decide to place arts on esd or
the other way round. I think something like that is much more
likely to happen than either one of them disappears and
Gnome or KDE switching.

Anyways I think we'll get there eventually but it just takes
time. The choices you have are always the things I liked most
about using Linux. They are sometimes making things harder
but more often than not, they make using Linux a much more
satisfying experience than using other operating systems
without those choices. If I was asked, I would opt for choices
even though it might slow down the rate of linux conquering
the desktop considerably.

But here again people will disagree since they see different
goals for Linux. I see Linux as a way to use my computer
exactly the way I like. I see Linux as a way to be free, to be
independant of the decisions other people take for me. If I
dislike the developmentchoices taken for a certain program, I
use another one. Other people might be more interested in
Linux giving Microsoft a hard time and eventually conquer the
desktop. Of course they will have different expectations and
wishes. But it's plain and simple statistics that you will never
have a common view on things if you have millions of
developers working on the various pieces that can be put
together to form a linux desktop. That means, there will be
no way to coordinate them to move in the same direction. I
think that's just the way it is and one has little chance to even
change it in the slightest way by writing about it. To change
things you'd have to get your hands dirty and actually code
the bridges. Maybe eventually someone will have the
ressources and does it. There is a fair chance it will happen.

04 Apr 2003 08:15 mikefm

Re: Too many car models

> This is a bad example. They win big
> money from selling cars and ofcourse
> there are no free cars. The example
> should look like: there are 100 free
> carburators but no one match for your
> free car (made from free parts).

It's not that bad an example. You could sell car parts manufactured open sourced designs. Dedicated hobbyist could produce the parts themselves from those designs if desired. They have open hardware projects that work that way.

It wouldn't be free as in beer but it could still be free as in speech. Imagine - real competition between car makers. No more paying $100 for a part that cost $2 to make. Want your car to be something a little special? Start with the free car projects basic design and make only the changes you desire.

If you have a car that is made from free parts and there isn't a free carburator to complete it then start a new free carburtator project and design your carburator to fit your car..Or you could submit a patch that'd make it possible for somebody elses free carburator to work with your car. Either can be a valid method of getting the job done. If there is enough demand somebody else will do it and sell you an already assembled car made from free parts.

04 Apr 2003 08:26 wdomburg

385 text editors? not quite...
First off, that page claims "171 projects found" when I go to it.

Secondly, not everything is actually a text editor. In just the first twenty projects I see:

* 1 dictionary (aspell-fo)
* 1 emacs mode (BHL)
* 1 bibtex tool (bibcursed)
* 1 bootmessage generator (bootlogo)
* 1 widget set (classytk)
* 1 library (colorer library)
* 1 development environment (code crusader)
* 2 html editors (august, bluefish)
* 3 content management systems (@1 web publisher,
@1 document publisher, @1 quote publisher)

I don't have the energy to go through the entire category, but just using that as a sample set, the majority of the entries *aren't* actual text editors.

Looking at the rest on that page the overlap isn't nearly as bad as implied. We have:

* 1 programmer's editor (adie)
* 2 full screen console editor (aee, ce)
* 1 line mode console editor (batch oriented line editor)
* 1 non-interactive editor (change)
* 1 gui editor (cooledit)

Are there a lot of different options to perform the same tasks? Yes. Do they all have the same target audience? Not by a long shot.

Sure there are some projects which don't bring anything new to the table, and a lot of them are orphaned code. But does this really harm the free software community in any way, shape, or form?

04 Apr 2003 08:42 mheijmans

The point is not choice, the point is together you can get a lot more done and better
Some comments on this article show exactly the problem. It seems only a few have good enough communication capabilities to get the essence of the article being: join forces and create a few good applications instead of dozens useless ones! What seems to be missing in the free software community is management. In a company there is always clear who management is and who makes decisions. While developers may seem the main resource, and I think they are, it seems that management of software have been forgotten.

Maybe it's time to also start recruiting software managers or at least developers with good communcation skills that are able to take control in a group, on a democratic way. These people might be as usefull as developers.

In the end together you can do a lot more, but you will need someone in control that is able to keep a group together. Maybe the general attitude of developers should need to be reconsidered ?

04 Apr 2003 08:48 ixo111

hmm
interesting opinion piece. my thoughts :

1) gnome and kde are banished from any machine
i run. both are bloated and too devoted to
serving the needs of m$ windows users. what
good is that? i'm not even very fond of blackbox
or window maker ;) .. icewm is the most lean
manager i've found that serves my exact
needs.

2) your choice of gtk over any of the others
mentioned may or may not be correct, but the
way it is couched seems like a religious rant.
emacs vs vi, anyone?

3) office suites. blah. /bin/joe forever.

4) sound. i'll have to agree. alsa seems to be
the best out there.

5) instant messaging. blah on gaim. blah on
guis in general. i revile mice.

6) winning on the server side. yes, absolutely,
but the near future does not include allowing
unskilled persons to squeeze the most they
can from their hardware. you have to know
what you're doing.

7) "don't like a program? fix whats wrong, don't
write a new one" .. good lord. why would
someone subject themselves to the pain of
wading through someone else's code when they
have a clear idea of Their Own on how to do
what they want to do?

i don't understand this drive, essentially. this is
all well and good if all you want to do is get
your mom to use linux. i personally don't care
if my mother uses linux, or if linux ever grows to
fill that niche. i don't think it necessarily true
that Not growing in to the desktop market is the
death-knell for linux. Sun held the server market
against NT for a long time, and now linux is
killing Solaris quite handily (and pretty much
every other server-class *nix out there). I'm
more than happy keeping linux lean and mean
for the server environment and letting M$ deal
with the madness that is the user community.
i realize i'm probably in the minority, but i doubt
i'm a minority of one.

bottom line : your points are compelling, but
who will choose exactly which application in
each class to settle on? .. are other authors
willing to abandon their efforts and throw their
hats in for another product if the vote doesn't
go their way? do you suggest we give up the
right to develop our own solutions just because
there is another product out there that currently
is more feature-rich? .. why not just rename
linux to hippie-os and have done with it?

what is so broken that needs fixing? what is
wrong with a vast array of choices? .. you can't
enjoy the power of choice without shouldering
the burden of choosing. thats the truth. if
you go this route of homogenization, you simply
trade one despot for another. something about
an open source tyranny seems even more
frightening to me than a profit based tyranny.

04 Apr 2003 08:58 pdxlooie

re: Look, you just don't get it, okay?

people HAVE Tried to fix the problems in existing applications. the problem is that the open source people ARE SHITTY LEADERS. the IGNORE PATCHES. they dont WANT problems fixed. in fact, things like 'ease of use' and so forth are considered NOT TO BE PROBLEMS BY OPEN SOURCE LEADERS. I remember one flamewar on the galeon dev list about how the leader wanted to release version 1.0 with a KNOWN CRASHING BUG in it. people were trying to tell him this was wrong, but in a 'benevolent dictatorship' that is so common in open source, the idiots at the top think they know everything and can never be blind to the needs of the user. the fact is there are 400+ text editors because the dumbshits leading the main existing text editors are horrible leaders who do not incorporate the needed suggestions and patches from their users, and have no understanding of what it means to be responsible for hundreds or thousands of people instead of your own personal whim and your own personal 'fun' project... which is what open source is based on mostly. even those stupid books are called 'just for fun' or whatever. which would also explain the multiple linux stock frauds: if its just for fun and your own kicks, you can crap on the shareholders as easily as you crap on your users.

i have to dispute this. it is completely false, in every sense, and disrespectful of the many successful products available as free software.

first, successful programs like emacs, vim, mutt, linux, freebsd, openssh and about a zillion others, all rely on user input.

second, you may not like having a 'team leader,' but all -- as in a-l-l, all -- successful projects have one. 'teamwork' does not imply that everyone sits around and jaws until a consensus is reached and then everybody goes off and codes happily ever after. every project relies on a team leader. hell, even debian, probably the most consensus-oriented free software project in the world, has a project leader. at the end of the day, someone has to make the decisions.

third, before you ridicule the command of language in others, you should get a grip on your own. calling people like Richard Stallman and Bram Moolenaar 'dumbshits' destroys your credibility completely. calling them "... horrible leaders who do not incorporate the needed suggestions and patches from their users" demonstrates a profound ignorance of the individuals and of their respective softwares. no one who has used vim, emacs, jed, jedit or nedit for any length of time would make this statement. no one acquainted with the histories of these products would make this statement.

fourth, it doesn't matter how many people start writing their own editor. what matters is how many people finish writing their own editor. as i already wrote earlier, anyone is free to start a project. but, if they are going to publish it, they should accept the responsibility to finish what they have started. the real issue, which was ignored in the article i quote above, remains: there are too many unfinished coding projects in the open source spectrum. they dilute the bandwidth and make it difficult to find the ones that are maintained and mature.

mp

04 Apr 2003 09:11 mikefm

doh!
You obviously just don't get it. Opensource is not a business. It doesn't care about winning customers. It isn't about one persons idea of what we need. The majority of projects exist for the programmer to either teach themselves something or produce a program that is useful to them.. or both. There are a few exceptions but even they probably have many volunteers that are still working on the project for those same reasons.

MPlayer works fine for me. It took a little work to figure it out but once I did I discovered it was a great program. If you don't like it's frontend then don't use it. Myself, I setup my desktop to work for selecting movies by clicking on their icons. I also sometimes use it directly from the command line. I'm working on a nice frontend that'll make browsing my sizable movie collection easier. It's designed such that people can create nicer frontends to it. The included, optional, frontend is more of an example than meant for real use.

Try Audacity for audio recording and editing. It is pretty nice. If it isn't included with your distro then complain to your distro. Don't blame the development folks because the folks using their work without returning a dime aren't packaging things to your liking.

There are a lot of text editors because programmers edit a lot of text. They have their individual needs and a text editor is a pretty basic 'Hello World' type of program to design. If you want the kitchen sink text editor use Emacs. Really - it does everything you could ever imagine. Somewhere in there I'm sure HAL is evolving.

Most big projects start off as small projects without corporate sponsoring and direction. As they grow and mature they have to become more structured to keep getting things done. A lot of energy goes into maintaining order. Luckily most projects are smaller and don't need to waste so much energy.

We have as much time as needed. If you want to hurry evolution along then start submitting patches. Legality has nothing to do with software development. Whatever you're doing it's illegal somewhere. If you don't like the laws in your location then complain to your politicians, vote, hold protests, etc. If you use a website and it sucks then don't use the site, complain to the owner of the site, take your business elsewhere, create a similar site that doesn't suck.

Free software IS much better than the average shit used today. It does what you make it do. If it doesn't do what you need then add it. Don't tell other people what to work on unless you're offering a paycheck.

You're obviously not asking your support questions in the right places. Try a Linux Users Group or the support mailing list (or irc channel) for the project you're having trouble with. If you are still having trouble then ask me. If I am busy and don't answer then offer money. ;)

Why should I be stuck using what you think is a good desktop enviroment? It happens I don't like either KDE or Gnome desktops. I use HackedBox because it's the closest to what I like. I'm experimenting towards making a Mozilla-based WM because it'd be fun and useful to me. Do you have to use it? No! Want me to work on something you are using? Pay me!

Why should I use GTK+? GTK+ sucks. QT too. I like wxWindows. Does that mean you can't like GTK+ or QT? Not at all. It just means that as a programmer I'd rather use wxWindows or it's sister for Python - wxPython. My wxPython programs are easily portable across many different OS's and have the OS's native look under each OS,

Open Office is okay but it still feels like a hapless commercial project to me. It doesn't look and feel right in Linux. Office suites are still fairly new to open source. Give them time and they'll play together more nicely. I happen to like AbiWord for word processing and gnumeric for spreadsheets. They are lightweight and do what I need and not a bunch of stuff I don't need.

Sound is a bit freaky in Linux but it's a problem being addressed. Sound drivers and programming interface aren't the same thing though. There will always be reasons to have more than one sound library available just because people want to do different things.

As far as IM goes the reason that there are so many different, slightly sucky, IM clients is that each big IM standard tries to be incompatiable with the others and tries to keep others from writing clients. Jabber is my favorite protocol since it's open and very flexible but we're still waiting for ANY decent client for it. It will come though.

Most browsers for Linux are based on Mozilla because the Mozilla team did a great job at designing Mozilla to be expandable. They took huge amounts of abuse for that decision. A good browser is also very hard to write from scratch. That is why few people do so. As XML/XHTML replace HTML you'll see more people writing their own from scratch. The loose handling of HTML by Netscape, IE, Opera, etc have made HTML an almost worthless standard on the Net.

You obvious haven't worked as an admin. There are many MANY open source choices of web server, database server, mail server, DNS servers, etc. There are as many options there as in desktop apps.

Most apps (commercial or opensource) aren't designed to be easily overhauled. Also maybe you want something that the people using the current project don't want. Maybe it'd just be fun and educational to make your own? Maybe you want the experience of trying to make your own before you make an ass out of yourself doing stupid things trying to 'fix' somebody elses program. There are lots of good reasons to make your own project. To a large degree as projects mature they break down significant bits into their own libraries and projects and eventually wind up as a shared bit of multiple other projects.

Refactoring is certainly the way to go sometimes but there are valid reasons to rewrite something from scratch. Maybe the requirements have changed are so drastic that there is little in common with the current functionality. Maybe you just realized that you really screwed up? Both are reasons Mozilla rewrote the majority of it's code. Sure it took a long time but you get a much better end result.

Overall, I think you make a very minor points but your major point is way off. Diversity is good. It offers choice and security. You won't see the massive damage if something like an OpenOffice virus existed because with all this diversity the propagation path is much more difficult than it'd be with something like M$ Office.

04 Apr 2003 09:12 transami

Re: Documentation

hitting the nail on the head. good, complete, detailed documentation is key to open source contributions. without such, it is simply too difficult to contribute to a project rather than start from scratch. too bad the gpl doesn't have a clause mandating a certain level of documentation. quick example: i wanted to use the postgresql backend of gnucash: couldn't find a lick of documentation on it. i can't even use it, let alone improve it!

part of the problem also arises from the plethora of programming languages. if we were all using lisp machines then projects would certainly be easier to modify and extend. as it is we have many dozens of ways to write code, and the most common (c/c++) is the most difficult! brilliant.

which brings me to my last point, others have mentioned it, but it plays a large and unfortunate role in all of this: great coders tend to be genuine super-geeks (with matching egos to boot) and have little concern for non-technical users. i don't know how many times i've heard the idiotic argument that "if you can't hack it, you shouldn't be using it".

solution? bring coding to the masses. for this to happen computer languages must evolve. currently we seem to be stuck in 3rd generation mode and can't get out. we desperately need a paradigm shift.

04 Apr 2003 09:15 nuncanada

Re: The point is not choice, the point is together you can get a lot more done and better

> Maybe it's time to also start recruiting
> software managers or at least developers
> with good communcation skills that are
> able to take control in a group, on a
> democratic way. These people might be as
> usefull as developers.

We already have as good managers. The problem is management thru money interest is much easier than in a democratic way.

04 Apr 2003 09:30 mikefm

Re: The negative comments are missing the point

> Most of the negative comments were
> missing the point. This article isn't
> about a selection of software which gets
> Andreiana's stamp of approval, it's
> about focusing the work from tens of
> variants of the same software to just a
> few, which will work then.

Funny, everything he mentioned having trouble with works for me. If something I need doesn't work I fix it. Nothing is stopping you from using your energy on already existing projects if you want to. If you're not paying them though then other people can do what they want with their own spare time.

> I've just tried Audacity as suggested in
> the comments to record sound. Compiled
> version 1.1.3. I start it, press Record,
> press Stop after a while and watch it
> crash (every time). Lucky there are
> other tens of sound recorders, one will
> work. Maybe that won't have the ability
> to add echo effects, but should be
> another one which can. Get the point?

Did you report the bug to the authors with full details? If not you have no right to complain. I haven't had Audacity crash but then I don't use it much. Did you notice that version 1.1.3 is beta? It isn't a stable release.

> Here's another example, CAD
> applications. There are quite a few free
> chices, but none doesn't come close to
> Autocad. Of course, they don't have any
> common library. How about uniting the
> efforts to develop a set of libraries
> needed for CAD computations and then an
> interface based on these? Something
> useful would come up.

Have you seen the price tag for a full Autocad setup? Spend that much on the development of an open sourced CAD program and then let's see how functional a CAD program we can have. CAD isn't as popular an app as most are.. so it's development isn't likely to be that fast unless you put some hard cash down.

> Another thing which would help would be
> for me to start helping with code too
> instead of saying 'Do this, do that'.
> See you around...

Exactly. Give code and/or money. That's the best way to make opensource projects more stable and more full featured. "Here's a patch." and "Can I pay you for this feature?" are some of the most appreciated things a developer could hear. :)

04 Apr 2003 09:35 maxamoto

Too many choices
Gnome and KDE are still too many choices for a vast majority of users. Opera, Netscape, Mozilla and Galeon are FAR too many choices. If the OSS community wants to beat Microsoft at it's own game, it will learn to roll up a consistent interface with tight integration, and it better do it soon. OSS's strengths are it's greatest weaknesses, in that there is very little organization and accountability involved in writing OSS. Microsoft, on the other hand, is an extremely integrated and very competitive company. Heh, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. I imagine the OSS community only has about 5 years to accomplish this before Microsoft puts in place the ability to stop OSS development alltogether. Never underestimate the power of denial though. I don't believe the OSS community has the ability to put it's differences aside and crank out a superior product in that time, which is one of the many, many reasons I still use Winders ;)

04 Apr 2003 09:36 turmeric

bal balh blah
%it needs to be allowed to
> evolve in all directions at once,
> exploring every possibility and then let
> a rather complicated mesh of
> semi-heirarchical users (e.g.
> distributions, bundlers, end-users, etc)
> sort out the wheat and chaffe to produce
> the end-result you're looking for.

yeah well its been ten fucking years and there is no movie player and no sound recorder. i could fucking program a sound recorder in fucking high school and im sure most 7th graders could nowdays. and you know what? IT WOULNDT BE INCLUDED IN THE DISTRO BECAUSE THE DUMBFUCKS AT THE TOP DONT WANT IT AND DONT CARE ABOUT IT. they are either slaves to corporate masters or just plain fucking stupid assholes.they dont give a fuck about sound, else there would BE A FUCKING WORKING SONUD LAYER IN LINUX, SOMETHING THAT WINDOWS HAS HAS SINCE THE MID 1990s.

god DAMNIT you people are just IMPENETRABLY STUPID. you DONT FUCKING GET IT. i think you should spend A YEAR WITHOUT TOUCHING A COMPUTER AND DEALING WITH REAL HUMAN BEINGS and then understand how shitty and stupid youur thought process is.

why is it that EVERY MAJOR ADVANCE IN COMPUTERS DOES NOT COME FROM COMPUTER SCIENCE PEOPLE?? compute rpeople are always AGAINST INNOVATION because it hurts their job security and makes them learn new things.

The web? physicists built the web.

04 Apr 2003 10:25 linimon

Re: look, you just dont get it, ok?
> too bad the existing 'benvolent dictator and his generals' paradigm DOES EXACTLY THAT, PROMOTES

> EGO BULLSHIT AND DESTROYS TECHNICAL ARGUMENTS.

Mmm hmm. I can see how the latter is really a shame, especially given how reasonably you put forth your own arguments. I mean, what unpaid volunteer could _possibly_ object to being called a "dumbshit" (your term)?

O moth, how ironic it is indeed that flames seem so drawn to you ...

04 Apr 2003 11:01 crazyprogrammer

my 2 cents.
The reason I write software is because I can write it the way I want it to work, It's fun, I don't have to pay for it, and it is a great way to learn how to write programs.

There are a couple of programs that I wrote (a text searching program, and a port scanner) that already exist in hundreds if not thousands of places on the net. So why did I write my own instead of using someone elses source? Because they were fairly simple programs and I wanted to know how to write them myself. Everyone who writes code has to start learning somewhere, and the best way for me to learn is by actually coding the program with ideas that I came up with, not copying someone elses work.

On a different subject, I dont use 385 text editors, but I do use more than one. Which one I use depends on what I'm editing and which system the file is located. I use vim, kate, openoffice, kwrite, and kdevelop(for C code). I'm glad there are many text editors to choose from. Better to have too many than not enough.

04 Apr 2003 11:14 clickster

The Point is that Standardization and Choice can Coexist
As someone who has only dealt with Linux and OSS for about 2 years now, let me try to clarify what I think the author is trying to say:

Choice is OSS's greatest strength for obvious reasons, HOWEVER the problem lies in the fact that there are very few standards inherent in OSS and that makes interaction between programs very difficult. I think the author is trying to say that every area (office suites, web browsers, audio players, etc.) need to have one or two major players whose program have nearly all of the major features and are simple to use (emphasis). THEN you can have your other 400 word processors in case you like something else in them better. Why is this necessary you ask? Two reasons, standards=stability. I don't mean system crashes, but when I need something sone, I don't want to have to do half my work in one program and the other half in the other program simply because neither program has all the necessary features. I come across this problem a lot with OSS software. The other (and in my opinion more important) reason is that people who are trying to learn OSS will get easily frustrated and stop using it and I think that we can all agree that lack of usage hurts OSS. It's difficult to get my mother or grandmother to switch from Windows to Linux when she is going to have to have 2 or 3 programs for each function to get what she needs.

In summary, it would be best to have one or two programs that can perform nearly all the necessary functions in their area so that new OSS users have a stable (by my definition) platform to which they can switch. THEN, after they've learned the ropes, you can introduce them to wonder of CHOICE!!!! It's the only way that I can see to get people into OSS initially and manage to keep them there.

04 Apr 2003 11:23 kewlx

wasted time
To sum up what he was saying, the community is spending so much time re-inventing the wheel, there's never gonna be a good car. You can spend forever trying to make something perfect, you'll never get there. Programming is an art, never to be perfected. The best way is to make sure everything is compatable and only rewrite something for major versions, not because you wanna make your own thing. what's best for the individual is best for the community, and vica versa. Sure it's nice to have some more customized "text editors, or what ever" so it fits the exact needs of that user, but when there are major efforts being wasted on several sound systems, and only one will remain, then it's all wasted. The best way is to take the best 3 or so, make the programs works with all 3, by having the 3 interface closely the same, and ony make large changes once a year or more instead of breaking compatability every month(bit exagerated :p).
As for politics, there are major pushes from the non-free world(eg. M$/riaa) to take control of all information in a system, and if a program doesn't comply, then it's illigal. So if linux doesn't get it's roots deep fast into a large chunk of the market, which is mainly desktop, in the near future it may be made illigal in the US for desktop/multimedia. It'll probably live fine as a server, until the open source community is forced to verify digital rights to all information going through the server, and not let the source to doing so illigal to show to the public, or be forced to us an M$ machine(feel the IIS rooting already). If linux becomes big enough, then it's harder to push around. or we can all find an island and go live on it, because we all know what the US makes law, seems to trickel down to other major internet using nations(except china)(just look at decss,that was close and still in review). It's hard to say what the future will hold, but we should plan for the worst, and not bicker about what the hotkeys should do in a text editor, and make a new one.. :P. M$ is only powerful because programs almost always work(fewer compatability issues), and the majority of the public use it. If you can't control what the public use, then you can't control the public, the riaa won't have a problem destroying linux if it isn't rooted deep in the public, because linux doesn't follow the riaa's rules, but the rules will have to be followed by linux(which it can't) when the riaa says that everything has to have digital rights, and this will happen as M$ keeps incorporating more law abiding/riaa loving/digital rights stuff, and will be made manditory some day.

04 Apr 2003 12:02 rahul

So What are We going to do about it?
Agreed entirely with the author
about the malaise in Linux desktopland. Infact, I wrote a not so well
proposed article about it almost an year back: Whats Wrong in Linux DesktopLand (3point0.nareau.com/Art...).

Red Hat has since attempted to do a unifying job, but the question I
ask is this: how many of the applications that Red Hat ships will they
support? As an end user, why ought I have to deal with figuring out how
to install mp3 playing or DVD playing capabilities. Why should I not
have good fonts? This is the value add commercial outfits are supposed
to provide.

But they cant because they are too busy making too many CD's. Why not,
as the author has suggested, pare down the number of applications, and
pay a royalty to the author/maintainer of the application for each copy
sold? Why must a Linux company follow the same path as a standard
company in not renumerating the author? (To be fair, RedHat employs
many application or subsystem authors, but why not pay the others a
royalty instead. For example, why not pay Ximian for eg a royalty to
maintain Evolution to be consistent with RedHat design guidelines?).

The authors suggestion of one toolkit is important too. I applaud
Lindows and Lycoris for dumping gnome and making KDE based applications
(though I dont applaud everything as root idea..why not use
capabilities and gradually eliminate root from most applications). I
dont agree with KDE as a toolkit choice as the high licensing cost of
Qt screws small developers wishing to develop commercial apps or
shareware. The Mac is a thriving desktop platform precisely because of
these people, and we need to attract such development if we want to
keep the long term viability of Linux..dont forget that windows started
out as a poor desktop implementation, and but for linux+bsd's would
have largely wiped unix out of small and mid-range installations.

LGPL toolkits are good choices...

Here's one possible plan. Create a new distribution, I like to call it
birdbrain because thats all the brain one should need to use it.
Elitists not welcome. The basic subsystems are kernel+device, init,
basic unix utils, binutils, libsystem(libc, curses, etc), directory
services/auth. Thats 6 subsystems..create 6 teams, and assign
royalties. Get basic X. Pay royalties. Get basic languages: perl,
pythonChoose the basic desktop, say gnome. Get Ximian to package it,
and get Ximian redcarpet to distribute it. Pay royalties. Choose no
more than 15 gnome apps as part of the basic package..choose teams for
each, hopefully including original developers, who are willing to fork,
customize to needs of distribution. Needs are for (IMO): browser,
instant messager, email/news, news aggregator, editor, wysiwyg html
editor, rdesktop, file manager, package manager/installer/redcarpet,
media player, pdf reader, terminal. Thats all. Make sure media player
can play both DVD's and mp3's. If this requires factoring licensing
costs into the distrib, so be it. USABILITY comes FIRST. Then choose
personal server apps for fileserving, personal web serving, ssh serving.

Thats it in the basic system. If this sounds like taking a page out of
Apple, well, yes it does, except that the whole commercial idea here is
to get money directly to the developers who maintain the app for the
distribution. Think of it as debian on a much smaller, and thus way
more coherent scale.

Now make add on packages with separate royalty and responsibility
spheres, for development(compilers), science(plotting, etc), office.
Anf of these packages, and also the previous 15 odd apps, ought to
replacable by others provided they provide the same task capabilities.
Nautilus can then be made more task oriented too, where tasks are done
independent of the apps providing them.

Create an experimental distrib in which new things are played with
before being dropped into the stable distrib. Examples would include a
unified way to deal with data in text form like Apple's plists or
RedHat's alchemist to make things move towards miniamal-admin, app-dirs
or package dirs along with apt(say), per process namespaces introduced
in 2.5 for changing the look of /dev, create a radical project and
aggregator oriented desktop shell, etc etc. Present linux distributions
are bound by the FHS which is ok for system parts but stifle innovation
i think for application parts. In general, as Pike of kernighan and
pike put it..unless we think beyond unix and open up the community to
outsiders from windows and mac and plan9, etc, there wont be much
progress.

The mac is undergoing such progress due to the arrival of refugees from
linux..take my word for this..i work at a large university and can see
this happening everyday with profs and students: people can do
innovative stuff when they dont have to struggle through the basics by
reading 10 howto's, not otherwise.

Are you interested in an endeavour such as this? Send email to me at tig@nareau.com and maybe we can get something rolling.

04 Apr 2003 13:28 Avatar jdfulmer

Water, water everywhere nor any drop to drink.
I can't help but wonder why Baskin Robbins hasn't gone out of business years ago. Marius Andreiana has demonstrated the flaw in their business model. I mean, afterall, aren't chocolate and vanilla enough?

04 Apr 2003 14:48 aziegler

"385 Text Editors"?

There are 663 text editors (downloads-zdnet.com.co...) for Windows.

I do agree that for fundamentals (like sound APIs, etc.) there are problems with large numbers of independent APIs, but not for things like "text editors."

-austin

04 Apr 2003 16:03 arnaut

Free Software
Dont you remember that free software is all about freedom of choice ?

My desktop fits my needs.

04 Apr 2003 16:31 iannou

too much of a good thing
I decided to come out of the bushes and comment on this article for a number of reasons. First, I'm still at the newbie stage (although I DID install Mandrake 5.0 a few yrs back - then deleted it to make space for MP3's). I, like the author am in a developing country where pirated MS software is as free as the wind. And finally, I've been fighting like hell for the last 5 months trying to get a handle on using Debian GNU Linux because I have the crazy idea of promoting free software in developing countries.

There are too many distros, too many text editors, too many deskops, etc, ad nauseum. Too many in an absolute sense? Perhaps not - I'm not into telling people that they should stop trying to invent better mousetraps. Too many choices for someone new to Linux? Yes - a thousand times yes!

Linux suffers from a multitude of options facing the first time user - and I expect for IT professionals as well. I confess that I have spent many years selling things to people, mostly photographic gear. I managed to learn a thing or two about consumers over the years.

And, as a little sidebar - can I just say that it's 'people' who will decide whether or not to use Linux, not 'desktops'. Call it semantics if you like, but Linux has to be 'sold' (even if the price is $0.00) to people, to consumers - not to their PC desktops. The notion of 'build a better desktop and they will come' has been proven false time and again. MS didn't build better desktops than Apple -they gained the upper hand by porting to Intel machines that cost less, then they set about swallowing up or stamping out their competitors by all possible means.

I've seen/heard/read enough about Linux to realise that it kicks ass. The resistance from consumers is largely based on fear of the unknown. Clawing my own way up the learning curve as I still am, and reflecting back on my sales and marketing experience, I believe that Linux simply involves too many choices for average person.

And the solution? RedHat has part of the answer (IMHO) - trademark it, make it identifiable and distinct in the marketplace. For those of us (me included) who prefer our software 'free' and those who detest any hint of marketing or commercialisation, where is the answer? My answer has to do with distros, installation and upgrading.

Debian is both my dream and my nightmare. Free, powerful, flexible to the nth degree. But with 8000+ pieces of software and (not meaning to hurt anyone's feelings) tools like TASKSEL, dselect and APT, it's very hard (for me) to strike a balance between too much and too little software. Given the idea that I hope to be doing lots of installs on lots of different boxes, the task appears enormous.

For some relief I d'loaded Ark Linux. The CD practically leaped out of my hand and I was within a keystroke of wiping out my MS laptop system. Safely installed onto another Linux dedicated box, it works great. I had Xwindow and KDE working before I knew what was happening. I don't have shell access, though. I feel about as far removed from the guts of the computer as I do when working with XP. The reviews DID say it was a 'desktop' distro...

I wonder if the Linux flavour I need is out there. I kind of think it must be - give the number of distros out there. On the other hand, I think it probably won't be until I read enough man pages, HOWTO'S and O'Reilly&Assocs books to learn how to build it myself.

To somebody who knows how to do all this stuff, from somebody who doesn't - please build us a distro with enough tools to be useful, enough eye-candy to make it appealing, easy to install and configure... and all for free, of course!

And then figure out a way to 'sell' it. I'll even offer to help you - but I have to hear about you and your product first. A little marketing couldn't hurt.

04 Apr 2003 16:42 Finn_13

Re: Standards are nice, but relax about Winblows

> There is a constant rattle of the
> non-technical "lead me by the hand
> crowd" for Linux to replace
> winblows. People are sick of paying for
> poorly supported commercial products and
> yearn for an alternative. Unfortunately
> for them, their dream of a better and a
> free Bill Gates replacement for their
> desktop is misplaced in the Linux
> community. Linux is open software and
> free, but it does require the end user
> to think. If you want a no-brainer OS
> try OS-X. You still will have to pay
> for support. Or you could stop whining
> about having to take an active roll in
> developing free software and start
> helping. Let's not give up the freedom
> to create, in order to develop an OS
> that the clueless will love. Linux
> would not be the awesome OS it is if it
> had been written for the lowest common
> denominator.
> My 2 cents.

Finally, a simple concise statement that I can agree with whole heartedly. There are distros being released for the non-technical user. Given time and evolution their wil be a linux offering for everyone if their is enough interest to support it.

04 Apr 2003 17:36 bninja_penguin

Re: So What are We going to do about it?
The beauty of Linux is, there is nothing stopping you from either creating that which you speak of, or paying someone to do it for you. I actually like choice. It may very well be confusing to a person new to Linux, but, if you remember correctly, you will find you and everyone else new to computers (no matter what OS) found them to be confusing, cryptic, and not easily understandable. Choice is a very good thing for people. That is something basic to the Linux philosophy. Here is the code, and you can do what you will with it.
If you look at what you are proposing in the terms of the automobile world, then there could be as many companies selling cars as they want, but there should be only one choice of body style, two choices of engines, everything that makes the car go should be not easily accessable to the driver, etc.etc.etc. I like your idea, and wish you well with it. The best part about Linux and Free, free, open source software is you could produce such a distribution, and there would be many people who would thank you for it. However, I like changing out my window manager just because I feel like something different occasionally, and I don't care how many text editors are available. Some work very well for certain tasks that other's don't. I think, If Linux were to unite in the way I think you are suggesting, it would be a beautiful thing, from the corporate view of the way things are, where individualism and creativity are not part of the money formula. But, if you were to look at it from the standpoint of an individual, there has to be such choice, or what's the point? I can't stand the taste or smell of liver, and find sardines or peanut butter and mayo sandwiches are quite tasty. There are people out there whose tastes are the complete opposite. Unless a person actually tries liver, or sardines, or whatever, they will never know for sure if they like it or not. That is what the "Linux way" is about. Here is a complete smorgassboard of stuff, and yeah, it's confusing, and some of it isn't well marked, or explained, and some could burn you, but, if you jump in and start trying it, there maybe something in there you find quite satisfying. If not, that's okay too. Oh, and don't forget, if you want to throw something in that smorgassboard also, go for it, we won't stop you.

04 Apr 2003 17:53 bninja_penguin

Re: The Point is that Standardization and Choice can Coexist
It is not hard for me to get my family to switch to Linux. I know there are a tremendous amount of programs installed on their system, but I put an icon on the desktop for word Processing (open Office), for the internet (Mozilla), and set them up with web based email that runs through Mozilla, and set up a few other progs, l(ike some basic finance package, I don't recall the name, maybe Gmoney?). All they do with their system is internet research, email, and type documents for school or church, and balance their checkbook. I explained to them about the login procedure, and off they went. I've never heard a complaint yet. I have been getting a few questions recently, about the system, but since they are questions any newbie to any OS asks, they are not difficult for me to answer. They are getting more interested in computers, and wanting to learn about them. Also, I've found I get many more calls from their friends who are running either Macs or Windows, some of which are the same as my family asks, but most of which have to do with crashes, or system slowdowns (due to spyware), or why they can't find something they used the day before. My families Linux system, even though it does have more than one program for any function on it, just runs like a champ, and they do everything and more on it than they did before it was running linux. Oh, and they are 500 miles away from me, so no, I don't pop in on the weekends to explain things to them.

04 Apr 2003 20:25 Captain_Tux

Re: Too much free software?
IMHO, what the open source community needs more than anything else right now is solid quality management within the various projects. We need teams that stick together through multiple interation of a product, we need developers who don't come off as cowboy coders and stick to established standards. Yes, I know that some do. But more need to before we'll have QUALITY software.

04 Apr 2003 20:30 rahul

Re: So What are We going to do about it?
Oh I agree with you entirely..my point is not that people should stop writing window managers for example..and thats actually a good example as pwn and ion are nice new-concept window manager innovations that have come about because not everyone wants to use gnome..

My point is that when I pay $40 to RedHat for a distribution, I believe there is a far better use of that money to compensate a small set of developers to develop something kickass than to create 5 CD's of apps, most of which are fairly repetitive..for example most window managers dont do something really different from others, until you get to ion, pwm, etc

So yes the beauty is this: anybody can do their thing. But the commercial viability..and this is important as I would like to be using Linux 10 yrs from now rather than Mac or windows depends upon making certain strategic decisions such as backing one desktop environment, investing in a core set of developers, not raining on Ximian's possible revenue streams, etc. And thats really what I want to draw attention to..there is huge development talent in our community, but rather poor strategic business thinking..

04 Apr 2003 20:53 ATMAvatar

Re: Water, water everywhere nor any drop to drink.

> I can't help but wonder why Baskin
> Robbins hasn't gone out of business
> years ago. Marius Andreiana has
> demonstrated the flaw in their business
> model. I mean, afterall, aren't
> chocolate and vanilla enough?

A better comparison would be that Vanilla is a text editor, Chocolate is a GUI/WM, Strawberry is a web browser, Cherry is a console, etc.

Baskin Robbins would find themselves in a tough spot if they had Vanilla (vi), Country Vanilla (vim), Natural Vanilla (gedit), Homemade Vanilla (pico), Creamy Vanilla (emacs), Vanilla Bean (LaTeX), French Vanilla (Elvis), Chocolate (gnome), Dark Chocolate (IceWM), Chocolate Fudge (twm), Double Chocolate (KDE), Chocolate Chip (evilwm), Double Fudge (Enlightenment), Strawberry (Mozilla), Strawberries n' Cream (Konqueror), Strawberry Cheesecake (Galeon), Strawberry Swirl (Phoenix), Wild Strawberry (Opera), Cherry (bash), Cherry Delight (csh), Cherry Swirl (korn), etc. ad nauseum, with a version of each flavor for each program Linux has in each category. (Damn you... now I want ice cream :P )

The cost just to keep that kinda variety would be immense, and likely, a person would spend time enough finding a flavor that they'd get frustrated choosing.

Once you found the flavor you wanted, of course, you'd be golden. Coming to BR would take little/no time at all, because you would already know what you want. You'd probably find the *exact* flavor you wanted if you looked hard enough, and you'd praise BR over and over for having the perfect flavor. There's a slight problem, though...

There's another ice cream shop across the street that sells "good enough" flavors. They have a version for every major flavor you have - Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry, and Cherry. Most people who buy ice cream find the saved time selecting a flavor worth the slightly worse taste (not getting exactly what they wanted). You wouldn't likely see any little league coaches coming to BR with their team if they had this kind of competition nearby.

04 Apr 2003 21:45 nigels

Sifting through Freshmeat
One man's trash, is another's treasure.
But, getting to the treasure can be a
real challenge!

As a wish-list item for freshmeat, a ranking
system based on similarity between projects would certainly help direct browsing, bringing the nuggets to the top.

One way to do this would be for project maintainers to nominate related projects to be ranked against. Then, clusters of projects could form ranked categories with a high degree of automation. Another benefit would be "see also" recommendations linking between projects with nominated relationships.

04 Apr 2003 23:50 mikefm

Re: GNUstep?

> "On Linux, there's no decent movie
> player"
> ....this quote is really stupid. I find
> mplayer more useful than any windows
> player. It's the only way for me to play
> divx5 on my machine smoothly.
> Also, in windows you need to install
> tons of shit to play various video files
> (at least the last time I used windows
> it was like that...realplayer,
> quicktime, windows media AND windows
> media codecs.) with mplayer you just
> need to move a few dlls into a folder.
> I heard that Xine is very good too, but
> I still need to try it.
>

Xine is a little more user friendly than MPlayer and has some themes that make it look really nice. It doesn't perform quite as well as MPlayer though.

05 Apr 2003 00:05 mikefm

Re: I get scared

> Hi all
>
> First a minor disclaimer - I'm one of
> those newly converted ones - that are
> trying out Linux, just to see if it's
> for me too.
>
> I've been using it for 2 weeks now - and
> generally I find it more or less to my
> satisfaction.
>
> But I started thinking about what the
> h... is going on with all the software -
> half the packages do not work - Just an
> example - wanted a messenger - tried
> first gnoMessenger on RedHat 8 worked
> ok, tried another distribution to see if
> it fitted my needs better - ended up on
> SuSE 8.1, then again I tried
> gnoMessenger - no can't do - just can't
> work - tried all sorts of funny tricks.
> Ok then I can just get another one tried
> several different ones, ended up with
> KMerlin, and thought that it must work
> as KDE is the preferred desktop with
> SuSE - BUT NO.
>
> So to make a long story short - I still
> have no messenger - and must agree
> completely with the author of the
> article.
>
> To all you super programmers out there -
> contrate on makeing the software
> packages that exists better more stable
> and easier to use.
>
> No matter what troubles I must encounter
> I will stay on Linux - at least on one
> of my machines :-)

Your problem probably isn't that there isn't already an existing messaging app that is decent as much as the distros you tried don't have the sense to include just one that works in the default install. In the distro is where these kinks for users should be ironed out. Not by limiting what developers work on.

What network are you trying to use? AIM, ICQ, Yahoo, whatever? I mostly use Yahoo these days so I just downloaded the Linux client from Yahoo themselves... the same as I downloaded the Windows client on my Windows machine.

There are some ongoing problems with IM. Mostly because most people want to use one of the big messaging networks and those networks make an effort to keep out third party clients.

05 Apr 2003 00:23 mikefm

Re: I may be crazy...

> Also, we all know Windows blows... but
> they have hardware down. My idea on
> this is to have a hardware specific
> freshmeat type organization that while
> concentrating on the problems at hand,
> moves to make a universal HCL style list
> for linux systems that hopefully distros
> and developers would stick to.
> Apparently nobody likes coding for
> hardware that much, so keep it in one
> place, and maybe some of the cash
> companies will toss some funds at it.
> Now if I am missing something, and this
> sort of thing has already started, I
> apologize.

The main reason Windows supports more NEW hardware than Linux is that hardware companies don't like to release public specs on their hardware which makes it difficult to write good drivers for that hardware. Even worse is that the DMCA raises questions on the legality of reverse engineering to develop drivers without the specs. This is mostly an issue of needing to complain to the companies that develop hardware you'd like to use. Let them know that you'd love to use their product if you can get Linux drivers.

On the other hand Linux has far better support for older hardware than Windows. Hardware that hasn't had a driver available from Windows since Win9x works just fine with Linux. Also of course Linux runs on hardware Windows never even tried to run on.

05 Apr 2003 00:56 mikefm

Re: *sigh*

> % We're not a business it can
> monopolize
> % and bankrupt.
>
>
> We (the opensource community) are
> dependant as well. In some ways. Since
> the earth is mainly driven by money, so
> are it's people dependant on it, wether
> you like it or not (i don't). The editor
> clearly pointed out a danger in his
> article: TCPA (of which Microsoft is a
> member) and NGSCB (aka Palladium). Do
> you think these revolutions by the big
> business people who bind together as one
> fist will not, in any way, affect the
> opensource community? We are talking
> about huge changes in soft- *and*
> hardware design here.

The open hardware community is active. Obviously hardware is usually more expensive to develop than software but it is happening. If need be we can run our software on our hardware. We can engineer all of the tools needed to keep producing this software and hardware and the tools needed to produce those tools. I for one am even working on an open sourced design for a hydroponic gardening setup. That may sound silly but really they aren't that hard to build but are expensive to buy.

Corporations and governments can do what they please but in the end if they push away the geek elite it'll hurt them more than us. We can produce all the things we need to live and we create the future. All they have is bits of paper and numbers in some computer. It'd be painful for the geek community to have to learn how to fend for ourselves but we certainly could and would probably end up better off. Besides that I'm sure that on any large exodus of geek talent that other corporations and governments would have open arms.

05 Apr 2003 05:10 Schwern

Can't have competition without duplication.
First things first. People do OSS work because they want to. They write duplicate projects because something in the other ones didn't feel right. Take someone who loves to work on exim and make them work on postfix and suddenly its exactly that: work. So you can't eliminate duplication fiat or by Dirty Tricks like culling SourceForge. People will just leave SF for... a SF duplicate? :)

Furthermore, OSS is not a zero sum game. There's not a finite pool of developers out there. New projects attract new people growing the pool.

But far worse is that you can't have competition without duplication. And competition is what makes OSS so damned good. Not the fact that its Open Source, but that there's 10 competing projects breathing down its neck and they're all stealing good ideas from each other. The way to stay on top is to combine all the best ideas from the "duplicate" projects into your own.

And, of course, we've seen the opposite of too much software, too little. Remember the Bad Days when you had BIND, sendmail and Netscape. Yuck. I'd rather see 10 MTA projects than ever have to edit a sendmail configuration file.

Finally, apparently duplicate projects are often not duplicates. Is qmail a duplicate of exim? Both deliver mail, but one is focused on security and the other is for getting a quick MTA up and running. Projects that start off seemlingly as duplicates often end up diverging into greater things later on. Perl and Ruby, for example.

Let's take a simple example offered in the article: Mozilla. I'll keep it simple and say Mozilla has some problems, but it has spawned a family of very good web browsers. KHTML and Konquerer just seemed redundant. But wait... along comes Apple. They wrap a snazzy GUI around KHTML and KJS and produce a small, fast, reliable and really user-friendly browser called Safari which is arguably superior to Mozilla. And I'm quite sure we'll start to see Safari features showing up in Mozilla. Duplication, competition, cross-pollination of ideas.

So, how do you *really* eliminate wide-spread duplication? First, you stop defining solutions as problems. The problem is *not* that we have too many duplicate projects. That is not an inherent problem. The problem *is* that we are missing complete apps in certain key areas. Sound, mail reading, video playing & editing, etc...

So how do you reduce project duplication for real? You eliminate the need for it. How do you eliminate the need for it? You write the killer app! Or you take an existing almost there app and finish it. People write duplicate projects because they perceive a deficiency in the existing ones. If you write one that's really good, the rest will go away. Apache's done it. Mozilla nearly did it. I've seen it happen lots of times with Perl modules. Apple's doing it as we write. Safari is one example.

A great example is the MPlayer For OS X project. (mplayerosx.sourceforge...). They've taken the technically wonderful yet interface and install challenged MPlayer and bundled it into a neat little binary package with simple controls. No more screwing around with skins, location weird font files and piecing together bits of video drivers. Somebody took care of that for me, they went the extra step to solve the last big problem with MPlayer.

You kill unnecessary duplication through obvious superiority. Reducing the number of projects does not lead to a focusing of development. Competition requires duplication of effort.

05 Apr 2003 05:44 Schwern

Re: Water, water everywhere nor any drop to drink.

> Baskin Robbins would find themselves in
> a tough spot if they had Vanilla (vi),
> Country Vanilla (vim), Natural Vanilla
> (gedit), Homemade Vanilla (pico), Creamy
> Vanilla (emacs), Vanilla Bean (LaTeX),
> French Vanilla (Elvis), Chocolate
> (gnome), Dark Chocolate (IceWM),
> Chocolate Fudge (twm), Double Chocolate
> (KDE), Chocolate Chip (evilwm), Double
> Fudge (Enlightenment), Strawberry
> (Mozilla), Strawberries n' Cream
> (Konqueror), Strawberry Cheesecake
> (Galeon), Strawberry Swirl (Phoenix),
> Wild Strawberry (Opera), Cherry (bash),
> Cherry Delight (csh), Cherry Swirl
> (korn), etc. ad nauseum, with a version
> of each flavor for each program Linux
> has in each category. (Damn you... now
> I want ice cream :P )

The funny thing is they do and yet they're somehow still in business.

baskinrobbins.com/trea...

"Chocolate"
"World Class Chocolate"
"Gold Medal Ribbon"
"Peanut Butter and Chocolate"
"Rocky Road"
"Chocolate Fudge"
"Quadruple Chocolate"
"Chocolate Almond"
"Chocolate Ribbon"

Moral of the Story: People are very picky about their tastes.

05 Apr 2003 07:41 baxe

Re: Sifting through Freshmeat

> system based on similarity between
> projects

That is a wonderfull idea that I really like, it is so sad that it is hard to use PageRank on freshmeat, e.g. I like gentoo and it would be wonderfull to have links to competing projects on the gentoo page. Like you say a See also box.

I think this would work because I would love to the slavery needed to get this working..

05 Apr 2003 09:57 nerdlymcgeek

Complete and utter balderdash!!

Why is it anybodys concern if our OSS stuff ever rates as the desktop or apps of choice. Those of us who develop do so for OUR OWN personal satisfaction not YOURS. Further, I now feel inspired to add my own editor to the growing list of what you've described as a sure waste of time just because I can..

The fact is not a single opinion here will amount to anything more than wasted bits enroute to /dev/nul.. Those projects producing software that people like to use will likely get better which results in more use. Those that don't will still provide a much needed place for the people who create and contribute to them.
Here is a nugget for ya:
These projects are not created for the sole purpose of slaying the Evil Empire, "Microsoft for those unaware" but are in fact a product of our desire to learn and create things of our choice.

05 Apr 2003 11:16 ATMAvatar

Re: Water, water everywhere nor any drop to drink.

>
> The funny thing is they do and yet
> they're somehow still in business.
>
> baskinrobbins.com/trea...
>
> "Chocolate"
> "World Class Chocolate"
> "Gold Medal Ribbon"
> "Peanut Butter and Chocolate"
> "Rocky Road"
> "Chocolate Fudge"
> "Quadruple Chocolate"
> "Chocolate Almond"
> "Chocolate Ribbon"
>
> Moral of the Story: People are very
> picky about their tastes.

I don't see several thousand flavors there, though. To be comparable, Baskin Robbins would need several hundred flavors each of Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry, Cherry, etc. as per my "ad nauseum, with a version of each flavor for each program Linux has in each category." It would likely take a mile or more of coolers laid end to end to store the appropriate number of flavors.

05 Apr 2003 11:20 simmons75

Re: Drink your milk.

>
> % I think i speak for a united free
> % software community when i say: Sit
> down
> % and shut the fuck up.
>
>
> YHBT. HTH, HAND.
>
> (You Have Been Trolled. Hope This Helps,
> Have A Nice Day.)
>
> As a writer myself, I understand the
> need to engage the audience, to talk
> about things that will spark a reaction.
> However, I believe that the author of
> this article has long ago crossed the
> line between engaging the audience and
> trolling for a reaction.
>
> His conclusions are grossly distorted
> (necessarily so) by the original
> trollish premise, and the entire article
> is worthy of minimal to zero serious
> consideration. For a much funnier (and
> very close) parallel, see this explicit
> troll:
> google.com/groups?selm...
>
>
>

Amen to all that.

Yeah, the article reads like a ZDNet troll. Starts off by taking a side in the "desktop war" (GNOME), then blasts them for not having a replacement for, of all things, Sound Recorder. Also uses smoke-and-mirrors to "disappear" Qt entirely from the discussion of Free Software, citing licensing concerns.

It amazes me that this was published on Freshmeat. I usually expect to see higher-caliber stuff here. The place is overrun with smart people; why do we have to be subjected to dumb trolls? :-D

05 Apr 2003 11:25 simmons75

Hey
Nice troll. Ever considered working for ZDNet? They like utter crap, as long as it gets advertising revenue. Your utter horseshit is bound to get page views!

Yes, I know I'm attacking the original author, but the original author is insulting our intelligence. We start with the premise that Free Software must save the world from Windows (why?), that GNOME is the one true solution (why?) and goes from there. Also mistaken about the number of nameservers, webservers, MTAs, etc.

There's no factual information here, so why should I take the article seriously?

Also, krecord works fine outside of KDE. :-D

05 Apr 2003 12:55 pasnak

Re: GNUstep?

>
> % "On Linux, there's no decent movie
> % player"
> % ....this quote is really stupid. I
> find
> % mplayer more useful than any windows
> % player. It's the only way for me to
> play
> % divx5 on my machine smoothly.
> % Also, in windows you need to install
> % tons of shit to play various video
> files
> % (at least the last time I used
> windows
> % it was like that...realplayer,
> % quicktime, windows media AND windows
> % media codecs.) with mplayer you just
> % need to move a few dlls into a
> folder.
> % I heard that Xine is very good too,
> but
> % I still need to try it.
> %
>
>
> Xine is a little more user friendly than
> MPlayer and has some themes that make it
> look really nice. It doesn't perform
> quite as well as MPlayer though.

%

I found Xine' interface even more confusing than mplayers. Both work flawlessly for me, but both could use a 'low fat' mode.

05 Apr 2003 17:00 kenyap

fallacies in article
This article has several fallacies.

1. The assumption of what I will call "conservation of effort": that if coders weren't working on their pet project, somehow the effort will be magically redirected to a more "mainstream" project, assuming this can be identified in the first place. It doesn't work that way. Instead of seeing all these efforts as failed mainstream efforts, they are really experiments in slightly different ways of doing things. Because they are FLOSS, the ideas can be absorbed elsewhere.

2. The assumption that Windoze is somehow a unified platform. In fact, what you get with Windoze is very little, it would only be the equivalent of half a Linux CD. Look, if you want something better than notepad you have to download something like vim or pay for a full WP. Look at the number of aftermarket addons for Windoze. On Linux you get gcc for free; you have to pay for a compiler on Windoze (unless you get gcc). Someone has remarked that Linux distros are not good at playing the government tender game. Sadly this is true. If they wised up and marketed a very small distro as the basic offering, then had various products called the compiler suite (gcc under another name), the web browsing CD (mozilla), you get the idea. There are signs that this is starting to happen, look at things like the SuSE Enterprise Server distro.

So what has to be done?

Firstly, user friendly distros should take the lead in emphasising the best of the breed offerings in each category. The bottom 95% by count in each category is only noise statistically but they have followings among power users, who will always be able to get hold of what they want anyway. You see this happening already in distros like Lindows, the choice is severely restricted.

Secondly, this is not a dictatorship, so it is not possible to impose that one offering is THE ONE. But there should be efforts to promote reuse, sharing and merging. Such people should have the ability to persuade besides good technical judgement.

Finally I would not like to live in a non-software world that resembles the software world that M$ represents. Imagine that you could only have one kind of coffee, one kind of pastry, etc. The real world is not like that. Let's look upon M$ as an anomaly, not a choices model to be followed. Long live diversity.

05 Apr 2003 19:18 tannhaus

Re: So What are We going to do about it?

> I
> dont agree with KDE as a toolkit choice
> as the high licensing cost of
> Qt screws small developers wishing to
> develop commercial apps or
> shareware.

I disagree here. Qt is dual licensed. Qt IS released under the GPL. If you read the GPL it states:

When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not price.

For example, if you distribute copies of such a program, whether gratis or for a fee, you must give the recipients all the rights that you have. You must make sure that they, too, receive or can get the source code. And you must show them these terms so they know their rights.

So, I CAN develop commercial apps or shareware. I just have to make the source code available to my customers. If I'm totally wrong here, someone let me know. I know it says differently on the trolltech website, but you can install Qt by agreeing to their license OR the GPL. You don't have to agree to both. The GPL states very plainly that you can charge.

As for the "high licensing cost of QT" I really don't think $1550 is outrageous....especially if you ARE developing commercial apps. You have to realize, this $1550 also includes a year of support by trolltech.

05 Apr 2003 22:28 AdnanKhan

Choice is OK, But Give Us Assistance in Selection.
I think FreshMeat and SourceForge should implement - at the least - download.com style Most Popular (or Top Downloads) and Our Pick in each category. That makes selection for new users to a category easy and let developers know what the users want. Current situation is like you go for a cube of ice, and rather get a blizzard. Its too confusing.

For example, I want a Content Management System. For weeks, I am trying to decide which is better by searching reviews etc. I have downloaded and installed one or two and checked them (as good as a first-timer newbie can), but dont know yet with which system I should stick to. If there was a Most Downloaded or Our Pick type of system, I would simply stick to one of the top 3 or so, and later, when I know what this category is really all about, I would be in a position to judge others as an expert as I would already know what exactly do I need.

This is getting important as open source projects get too complex and big. It is not possible to simply install the 50 most famous for a category and check personally which is better. If a better new product comes up, it would bubble up to the surface automatically.

Now everyone goes with apache, due to its massive user base. There might be other products that are better than apache, but users stick to it due to its userbase and features. Let us make the same thing true for other projects as well, and stop confusing and scaring away new users.

Current rating system of freshmeat does not tell anything meaningful when its says popularity is 0.543% or rating is 8.92/10. Rating (though understandable here) alone cannot decide which way should I go. I think, feature-wise, BeOS was rated better than its competitors at the time, but was it a better choice to stick to it?

Quantity and freedom of choice is ok, but what OpenSource really need is helping users to make first selection.

06 Apr 2003 01:13 Smegthelight

Re: So What are We going to do about it?

>
> So, I CAN develop commercial apps or
> shareware. I just have to make the
> source code available to my customers.
> If I'm totally wrong here, someone let
> me know. I know it says differently on

You CAN develop commercial apps, but since your work is a derivate of a GPL'ed work, your code now also becomes GPL when you distribute it.

As such your customer gains all the rights the GPL Granted you, so he can re-pack it, sell it, or give it away to anyone he wants. He can even make improvments (which now become GPL), sell that, and compete against you - which you could steal back, repack, etc.etc.etc..

So, since your commercial application is now free chances are no one will actually pay you money for it. If they are not paying you money for your commercial application, it's not really a "Commercial Application" any more. You will have to make your money selling support (which might be good if your users are stupid, or your code sucks), because you are not going to make any from selling code.

Now, if QT was licenced under the LGPL, or if it was the GPL with a clause saying that linking against QT does not cause the licence to be assigned to the derivative, then everything would be fine.

Except for TrollTech, who would no longer have any source of revenue except for support/documentation. Snce their product is very well designed, most good programmers would not need support. Free newsgroups and free tutorials would soon appear to fill what little support was required, and poof - no more business model for Trolltech, no more Trolltech.

Soon it could become a defacto free standard that everyone can use without restrictions. People would use it to develop apps for Windows, Linux, Mac, etc.. Great for us - Bad for Trolltech.

GTK just cuts to the chase, and puts us right at the end of that progression. It is under LGPL - link your brains out, and profit away. You are only required to put back any improvements you make to the GTK library iteself, and then distributed. You also can't just copy and paste hunks of their code right into your code. You do, and poof, your code is now LGPL'ed as well ;)

LGPL or GPL with exceptions is great for Libraries. If on the other hand you never want anyone to profit from the use of your library you go with raw GPL, and that is what Trolltech has done.

GPL is NOT about Freedom - You are NOT free to do whatever you want with the code, it is NOT public domain.. The GPL, without linking exceptions, makes it very hard to profit from the sale of software (Some one else's software). That is what the GPL is about.

At least in my humble opinion..

06 Apr 2003 10:54 mandreiana

Other comments
Thanks for all constructive comments. I hoped the good parts in this article would span a constructive discussion. For example, the idea with Sourceforge eliminating projects was completly stupid.
Benjamin's 'wasted time' comment summed up my ideas really good.

Here are others from my mails and replies:

*******
Matthew Carpenter wrote:
> GTK+ may be a good religeous choice, but unfortunately you can hardly
> reconcile the fact that it's procedural and ugly. Qt, while licensing may not
> be politically correct for OSS, is well written, cross-platform, and
> Object-Oriented making maintenance of code easier.
GTK+ and Qt both need to exist, as they differ in concepts ( visions ). I don't know
what code could be shared here ( pango? ), but they are sharing ideas and try to bring
the best from one to the other. Let's not forget about www.gtkmm.org/

I did not know that Gaim was so powerful, as I use Everybuddy, so thanks for
> the tidbit.
> Hopefully both would use a common library for sending messages. You may like Everybuddy UI more than Gaim's. You could even make your own, which would be easy if a common library for sending messages and setting up accounts would exist. These projects could have bugs such as not displaying smileys properly, but they would never crash on sending messages or not work with Yahoo's protocol, which is the most important.

****

Subiect: Re: The Linux Article Of The Year

On Sî, 2003-04-05 at 04:39, Marcel Kunath wrote:

>Like this guy who left Red Hat and created Ark because he disagreed with the
>KDE interface. I am sure I don't know all the details of the problems
>between him and Red Hat but he had four choices:
>
>- work it out with Red Hat
>- transfer to a company with his vision (like SuSE maybe)
>- do something entirely different
>- create a new distribution
>
>Unfortunately he chose the last one and now we have another distro which is
>"designed especially for desktop use, primarily for people without prior
>Linux experience." Just like the other 50+ distros before Ark.
>
> My point wasn't about that I dislike the distributions. My point was about
> the waste of human resources. I don't want to tell people to stop developing
> software because their code is crap. I didn't say their code is crap. I
> dislike the dis-array within the development community and lack of forward
> thinking/planning.
>
> I want people to realize that (in most cases) it is more efficient to join a
> project already under way or reuse code than create another "new"
> implementation/branch/fork/re-batched distro which does the same thing in
> different fashion but no more efficient manner.
This was the focus of the article. But, indeed, as Matt said, it may not
be so easy to join other projects, though I believe these are only
seldom cases and, usually, outside help is welcome.

For example, I think glimmer and other one or two gnome IDEs decided to
join their efforts into a single project, and nobody worked anymore at
the new combined project. Also, I got mail from someone who told me he
tried to contribute to a project, even with writing documentation, but
he was completely ignored.

The article was also about desktop applications. There are many
variations here only because some developers didn't like the existing
UI. I think it would be better if they would put aside their ideas
temporarily, get involved in an existing project which is the closest
with their vision, start separating the code from UI (and improving it
at the same time), and then use the same code ( keep it in a common
library, not fork ) for their initial vision. Example: instant
messaging. If there is already a common library which does instant
messaging with all protocols, you need only to make your own interface
in whatever toolkit you want. And it will work!

********
Subiect: Re: [TTLUG] Too Much Free Software

Taran Rampersad writes:
>wxWindows allows users this freedom. GTK+ doesn't. We cannot curtail
>Freedom by defining Freedom as something within a specific subset. It
>does not suffer recursion. wxWindows works well with Linux, as does
>GTK+. wxWindows is coming to version 3.0 soon, who knows what else the
>future holds?

I know I should have worked more on the article and put more focus on
sharing code rather than 'abandoning' some of the existing applications.
I know wxWindows makes portability very easy (and porting MFC
applications to Linux with it). I wish GTK would have this too, as I
wish wxWindows would have GTK's features of i18n, accesibility and RAD
tools such as Glade.

> What Marius is talking about is Linux conquering the desktops, world
> domination and all this sort of stuff
Right. I see this more as a necessity rather than a religious thing.
Here in Romania I cannot access on-line banking or pay taxes on-line
because I don't have Internet Explorer. I cannot go to competition as
all banks imposed this limit and the government has no competitor.

> He's not interested in
> multiplatform development
I am, as long as all platforms have open standards. This is not the case
with Microsoft.

*********
Y. Yifrah talks about Class projects/student stuff:

How much of the open source out there do you think is just some students
class assignment he released into open source? These people HAVE to
code from scratch, its part of their assignment.

It would be pretty cool if you could get professors to assign
contributions to open source projects for their classes, instead of
writing some arbitrary blood bank simulation or some such. If you could
get professors together to support a few projects they could act as
practical senior software engineers and get the hordes of upper-class CS
students to write some feature or other concrete goal in an open source
project as an assignment. Then merge in the best implementation to the
existing code tree, perhaps have a website for professors to goto to
find out about various projects, one that picked the applications to
focus on, maybe have suggested assignments professors could "check out"?
(help entice those professors that don't like to come up with new
assignments every semester).

It would give a more focused effort to the table, and bring expose even
more people to open source.

I don't know about the legal aspects and all that, but I'm sure you
could get SOME professors to do it, because I think this would motivate
students to be better programmers if they know someone might actually
USE their class assignment, instead of being Yet Another Hello World

When I was in school, minix was state of the art for free UNIX
implementations, there was nothing like Linux and what's happening
today. I was just thinking how cool it must be for CS students now, and
that idea popped into my head.

**********
James Atwill:

One thing you touched on, but you didn't seem to realize you did is that
many open source projects gravitate around what they feel is "complex".

For example (as you mentioned), there are many web browser, but they all
use Gecko. There are many media players, but they all use libmpg123 (and
libvorbis). There are many CD ripper programs, but they all use
cdparanoia. There are many 3D screensavers out there, but they all use
OpenGL. Lots of GUI apps, they all use GTK+ (or QT) - you don't see many
people writing X calls directly anymore. There's a number of apps that do
spell checking, but they all use libaspell.

All these things that are used are "complex" to the author of the app -
but provided an easy mechanism to integrate it.

A missing roll in open source land is that of the lone coder who takes a
project and splices it up such that the complex part (Instant Messaging
protocols, video codecs - gstreamer will help that, etc) are encapsulated
and can be re-used in other places. That coder will likely suffer the
wrath of the original author's ego however. :-(

Anyway, you're absolutely right - and I agree with you 100%. I hope you
don't get flamed too much.

*******
Robyn has the same problems as me. I'm not new to Linux, but I am trying to gather applications to satisfy a regular user needs ( from office to games ) and this is the problem:

I know u've gotten a lot of negative feedback just viewing the responses to your article, but i agree with what you say. Maybe that's because i am a new user to Linux, and not a programmer, but i really want to use linux, however i cant get ANYTHING to work very well... it's very frustrating and forcing me to boot into windows all the time.

********
On Sî, 2003-04-05 at 23:53, Adam Muise wrote:
> I think your article was right on the money. I swear that if I could
> just get these people in a real work environment for a change I might be
> able to get them to see what the real world is really about. The world
> does not need another text editor.
>
> Testing code and consolidating effort is what the open source community
> is all about. If you left Linux to the critics of your article, we'd
> have no regular distributions because no one would be willing swallow
> their pride and work on something that they didn't dream up themselves.
>
> I should really listen to what I am saying here because I am starting a
> new open source project. It is yet another P2P application but it does
> have unique features that I couldn't find in an existing app
> This is not the case with the 300 editors. So you should start the new project, but try to use already existing code where possible ('use' not as in fork). Of course we must keep starting new projects when they bring new concepts.

**********
Keith Hurd:

Just wanted to say that I agree whole-heartedly with your assessment of free applications. There is too much fragmentation in the community and in general applications overall. That is one of the primary reasons I stopped using Linux as my primary OS in 98.

Anyway, just wanted to say great article, and I hope your way of thinking starts to spread outward more, and consolidate a lot of the ok apps into fewer great apps.

**********
Tom:

How can a basically anarchist movement stand united. If it does this it
will become governed, which is not what members want to happen.

Social anarchism is all about mobs. If you would stand up and lead a new
mob with your aims in mind, then I am sure the Open Source community
would join your mob. Maybe you can get enough of a mob together to
attract the funding and support you need from united commercial groups.

Of course you, like all members of the open source movement, will have to
put a lot of energy and time into your idea.

06 Apr 2003 22:21 zara994

Too Much Software ??..win 95 sound recorder??

For dvd/vcd and audio streams, Xine and Gxine (Gxine is just one of a plethora of alterantives to the standard xine interface) work very well....Personally , I cannot imagine and competent user, on any platform, having any use at all for anything like the windows 95 soundrecorder--just weak,uselesspap/garbage..There ARE decent recording interfaces for linux, but I personally prefer using my own customized scripts...Look, the tenor of you article is to argue the merits of a dumbed-down distribution ; and that's great, if that's all you are capable of..If you cannot make icewm (the best of the lightweight windowmanagers, imo) work for you, you have done nothing to discredit it and everything to discredit yourself...You sound like i windows 98 se guy to me! I want nothing to do with you dumbed-down computing world..

07 Apr 2003 13:44 arschlesinger

Choices
Choices are good, I agree, but too many of them, as this article explains, is bad. My Experience with Linux has been mostly searching for the perfect app, and wishing that some features from one app were mixed with other features from another app.

darn. Linux has a long way to go because of this problem.

08 Apr 2003 06:41 nagora

Re: bal balh blah
else there would BE A FUCKING WORKING SONUD LAYER IN LINUX, SOMETHING THAT WINDOWS HAS HAS
SINCE THE MID 1990s.
The "play" command was pretty well the first Linux command I ever used after cd and ls. I've just checked and it still works today and covers more formats than any Windows player I've ever seen.
i think you should spend A YEAR WITHOUT TOUCHING A COMPUTER AND DEALING WITH REAL HUMAN BEINGS and then understand how shitty and stupid youur thought process is.
This is insightful advice.
why is it that EVERY MAJOR ADVANCE IN
COMPUTERS DOES NOT COME FROM COMPUTER
SCIENCE PEOPLE?? compute rpeople are
always AGAINST INNOVATION because it
hurts their job security and makes them
learn new things.
This is also about as insightful a comment as I've ever seen on this subject. Perhaps you should calm down a bit; you appear to be on the right track except for your idea of what is already available.
TWW

08 Apr 2003 06:42 fofito

About Developers & Users
Well, when it comes to developers, I think the more, the better. It gives people more to study, use and re-use, but talking about users and mainstream, I agree with the autor.
So, remains one question - at least for me -: Is there a way to please both?

08 Apr 2003 07:00 nagora

Feeding the trolls
I know I should ignore the trolls even when they are advertised as an article but:
GNOME and KDE for the majority, Blackbox and Window Maker for modest hardware.
GNOME and KDE are garbage and I never install them. WindowMaker works well on modest hardware, but it works even better on my 1.5GHz .5GB machine. I have used Linux as my ONLY desktop machine for four years now. It's more than up to the job.
GTK+. That's it. Qt still has licensing problems, being non-Free for commercial applications.
GTK+ is as ugly as sin and is only available for commercial due to the existance of the LGPL which is an abomination: if I produce a 450K binary which has 45K of my code and the rest is library code then it's just a joke to say that I'm not deriving my code from the library programmers' code. QT have the licencing right; GTK+ is in the wrong here.
Open Office has the most features, but since it requires a lot of resources, there are also GNOME and KDE offices.
I do need OO for reading files and converting them to editiable version for non-Linux users. If I don't need them to be edited then I make PDFs using TeX and Ghostscript (or a dvi to pdf converter). The GNOME and KDE versions of OO are not in a usable state.
I don't know exactly what to write here, but it's bad.
As a sound user I have no idea what you are talking about. I can listed to or record sound in just about any format I've ever heard of and have been able to since I first started using Linux.
Instant messaging
Jesus, who cares? What a waste of time. I bet you send text messages on your mobile phone too. Get a life.
A good example is Mozilla. There are lots of browsers available for Linux today, but most of them are based on Mozilla. Therefore, they work.
Mozilla is still too slow to be even entertained as an option on anything under 1GHz. I use Opera and I'm happy with it. You can use Moz if you want but I think you just may be a masocist.
Another problem is that major functionality is quite often rewritten from scratch.
Yes, that's something that "proper" software projects can only dream of. I'm sure there's not a single senior developer in MS that wouldn't like the chance to re-write IE without Active-X but they're stuck with it. We are the lucky ones, they are the losers.
Don't throw away all tested and working code and documentation to start all over again, introducing new bugs which annoy users and waste time.
Nobody actually does that, as I'm sure you know. But they are free to, and do, throw away code that is a kludge or is designed in a way which does not scale etc. This does introduce new bugs but you are assuming that these outnumber the bugs that would have emerged in the old code.
Here's looking forward to Linux on the desktop!
It's on my desktop and has been for years. It's on every desktop I get authority over and non-Linux users sometimes don't even realise that it's not Windows (most Windows users don't know what a desktop even is).
Every time the "Let's get Linux on the desktop" trolls come out it emerges that what they mean is "Let's clone Windows".
Let's not.

08 Apr 2003 18:45 corran

I have said this for *years*
I agree with you. All these skilled, talented people donating thousands of man-hours could be put into better (IMO) use if we/they could gather around fewer projects. Coordination is virtually non-existing, and we end up with hundreds if not thousands of semi-professional, semi-finished software, which all tend to do the same or very, very similiar work.

Not that diversity is not a good thing, but the Linux community lacks kick-ass software! (Yes, we do!)

I'd bet that if more programmers (not better, but MORE) contributed to, let's say, SDL we wouldn't have the need to turn to Windows (DirectX) for games - it would outperform anything else. If more people was involved with the Gimp, we would not need to turn to Windows (Photoshop) - it would be at least at par with it.
The list could be made long.

There is, however, one single piece of software which I feel has had its turn, and should be replaced (if we would like to fulfill our innermost dreams of having a Linux in every household)... and that is X11. It's good for computer pros, it's awful for the causal user. IMHO, it should be dragged around back and shot. We could adopt Photon (from QNX) or the GUI-part of BeOS (now of OpenBeOS). Anything but X11.

So, there's MY take on things ;)

08 Apr 2003 19:10 danieltes

wait a moment
"GNOME and KDE for the majority, Blackbox and Window Maker for modest hardware"...

KDE 3 needs 128 Mb of RAM, why such amount of memory? and it's not as good as explorer (window$) the same for GNOME.
FluxBox runs in less than 2 MB of RAM on any machine.

"Motif, Tcl/Tk, wxWindows? Die!"...

Tcl is a scripting language and Tk is a toolkit commonly used with Tcl and python, so if I want to make a script with a GUI why should I use C and GTK? is just a script. First learn the differences between a compiled language and a interpreted one, then talk.
QT is natively a C++ library so if you are just a C programmer you must read something about C++ that is a waste of time. The GTK native API is C; bindings are available for C++ and others.

"Too Much Free Software"

There are too many languages too... so if we think like this, we should just keep C, HTML, C++ or Java and maybe Perl to write some scripts and then drop the rest. Now to write a webpage you have: HTML, XML, DHTML, ASP, PHP, JavaScript, VRML, Flash, etc etc I lost the count, when you are done 10 more languages were just created. So, as I said, if we think in this way lots of thinks that make gnu/linux what it is now should be disappear.

There are too many distributions too. We have Distributions like Redhat, SuSE, Mandrake etc etc that turns gnu/linux into window$98, you just change the window$ logo by a penguin and you don't see the difference and you can get a gnu/linux system installed on you machine as insecure and unstable as window$ if you don't know what you are doing using lot of harddisk with things that you don't know why are there, that is a waste of time and a waste of HD space. Distributions like this ones are no longer distributions they are companies like microsoft.

"Drop the "not made here" syndrome and your 15 minutes of fame on freshmeat when making the announcement"...

This is so selfish that it's sucks. I've never expected something like this from a gnu/linux user or from a person who calls inself a gnu/linux user.

Gnu/Linux is free, means freedom. You want to help computer users and make a better world with gnu/linux then read lots of books and texts and stop saying programmers and people what should they do. We have the right to choose the programming library and desktop we want. Gnu/Linux exist thanks to programmers and their libraries.

09 Apr 2003 14:32 kreiger

Re: Drink your milk.

>
> YHBT. HTH, HAND.
>
> (You Have Been Trolled. Hope This Helps,
> Have A Nice Day.)
>

Dude, you're preaching to the choir. I just hope the fucker enjoys his t-shirt.

14 Apr 2003 03:57 sebb

Didn't anyone recognize the obvious?
IMHO there are just two different opinions/approaches posted here.
On one side are the ones like Marius, who benefit from open source efforts (he offers professional services) but do not contribute,
on the other hand are the contributors who just do their thing as they like.
Where is the point in pushing contributer towards greater success/better merchability/personal usability of their projects???
I mean, all those contributors develop for their own individual pursue of happiness.
You should better keep that in mind. This is what makes the os community strong.
By the way, i think, "community" is the term non-contributers use to adress the contributers.
There is no joint effort to create this or that or dominate the world or something (as far as i can see).
I am not trying to say that open source is not commercial grade/merchable/enterprise ready/busines capable,
i myself are a open source consultant too (see www.eqiq-software.de (www.eqiq-software.de)), but i see oss as it is,
a great gift from individuals to the world and i think you should appreciate it.I think there is a basic rule to all things you may want to happen in a certain way.
Doing it yourself is easier, faster and more satisfactoring than convincing others to do it for you.Trying to have "the community" do this or that is completely useless effort.HANDSebastian Hültenschmidt, Bochum, Germany

16 Apr 2003 12:25 hursh

Re: Extremely local oppinion

> Apache is a nice thing for a big server.
> But I have seen lots of servers running
> apache because it is the default,
> because it is easy to manage and so on.
%
> Same goes for the databases.
> ... But to
> keep a beast like MySQL up and running
> just for a phone number list and a
> movie&book list... no way.

Absolutely. I put together the OggCarton Home Jukebox code (oggcarton.sourceforge.net) after noticing that the existing comparable programs all required Apache and MySQL. Maintaining webservers and databases is *work*. I get paid for it. I didn't want to add yet another system to patch in my "free" time.

Another important point: while I (and probably most people here) can install and configure Apache, MySQL, etc., expecting average users to do that just to run a simple program is a bit much. Apache and MySQL are wonderful pieces of code; it's just that they're gross overkill for many applications.

This objection would go away if a) you could count on having Apache and MySQL running by default (with some reasonable configuration) and b) the user didn't have to constantly monitor online forums for bugfixes and security upgrades. It's hard enough to get users to run Windows Update. Expecting them to monitor the status of dozens of different programs is never going to fly.

Ximian RedCarpet and Redhat's up2date are steps in the right direction, of course.

17 Apr 2003 07:32 fungusakafungus

Re: "385 Text Editors"?
666 for now

19 Apr 2003 05:14 asiala

Re: Feeding the trolls

GNOME and KDE are garbage and I never install them.

Why are Gnome and KDE garbage?

The GNOME and KDE versions of OO are not
in a usable state.

How so?


Jesus, who cares? What a waste of time. I bet you send text messages on your mobile phone too. Get a life.

You´re absolutely right! I mean it´s so childish and stupid..


Mozilla is still too slow.. You can use Moz if you want but I think you just may be a masocist.

Take a look at the new roadmap:
www.mozilla.org/roadma...

19 Apr 2003 14:01 afeldspar

Re: So What are We going to do about it?

>
> %
> % So, I CAN develop commercial apps or
> % shareware. I just have to make the
> % source code available to my customers.
>
> % If I'm totally wrong here, someone
> let
> % me know. I know it says differently
> on
>
>
> You CAN develop commercial apps, but
> since your work is a derivate of a
> GPL'ed work, your code now also becomes
> GPL when you distribute it.
>
> As such your customer gains all the
> rights the GPL Granted you, so he can
> re-pack it, sell it, or give it away to
> anyone he wants. He can even make
> improvments (which now become GPL), sell
> that, and compete against you - which
> you could steal back, repack,
> etc.etc.etc..
>
>

I am afraid you are badly misunderstanding what you claim to be correcting someone else on. Qt is dual-licensed, which means that you have a *choice* on which license you use Qt under. Each license gives you a different choice in terms of rights and responsibilities, but you seem to be under the impression that the dual licenses work together at all times and restrict you to the most ornerous conditions of both.

Let me give you an example: suppose you go out to a bowling alley. In order to bowl, you need a bowling ball, and you don't have one of your own. You ask the manager how you can get a ball to use. He says, "Oh, I can rent you a ball; that'll be $3 an hour. Or I can sell you a ball for $16, and it will be yours to keep." He has given you two choices: pay a small fee to use it for a limited amount of time; or pay a large fee to make it your own property.

This is the same situation with dual licensing. You say to Trolltech, "I want to use your library to create software apps." Trolltech says to you, "Oh, well, if you want to make it a free software application, then we'll let you use the library for free; you 'pay' for the privilege of using our library by letting other people use your application." You tell them, "Oh, that's good, but what I had in mind was writing commercial software, which I will charge people for and not allow people to copy." Trolltech says, "Oh, that's fine, we can arrange for that, as well; the difference is that now you must pay us money in order to use our library."

You see, the GPL is actually (even though it's called a "copyleft") a copyright license much like any other. Most copyright licenses only tell you "these are all the things you *can't* do with this material, unless you pay the creator in order to use it." And then you have to go to the creator to find out how much you have to pay to do any of the things you want to do.

The GPL, instead of only telling you what you can't do, offers you a deal up-front: you can get these particular rights (as spelled out in the GPL) as long as you 'pay' with these particular responsibilities: let anyone you give the app to have source as well, etc. This has been one of the reasons for the great growth of GPL'd code; having the terms easily accessible removes an inherent 'chilling effect' in using code with less clearly disclosed costs.

The only problem is that very often, people will spread misinformation (either through ignorance, or deliberate FUD) amounting to: since these are 'payment' terms that the GPL makes available to you, these are the *only* terms available to you! In a case where you already had it pointed out to you that Qt was dual-licensed, you should have admitted that you didn't know what you meant, rather than spread silliness. "Yes -- you paid $16 dollars to buy the bowling ball once and for all, and make it your own property. However, the owner rents bowling balls for $3 an hour. That means that in 5.3 hours, he's going to come and repossess your bowling ball! That's what he does with balls people rent from him, so obviously that's wht he does with all balls that people get from him, under any arrangement."

21 Apr 2003 18:31 m6s

Constitution, Economy and GPL-Open Source
I think the magic word around here is that when
people use Internet Explorer all head to a
monopolium of e- and non e- commerce.
Thus it comes to a company such as Microsoft, or
Sun or anyother (do not be fool that only M$ is
really bad) who will embrace the daily transactions.

Yes the fellow is right...There is too much of free
software, of free coded lines. But also there is a
huge anarchy in the whole process of this sofware
making. What I mean...

Well, think about it. We created -as mankind- a
new deal of economy. A new aspect. The
e-commerse. And yes if you ain't got I.E. you are
doomed...unless you use a decent netscape which
might the bank let you use or unless you use
Konqueror who might has plugins to fake your
identity...Sure...that is freedom we want?

Yes? Is that? I do not think....

What is going then? On my opinion Marius should
set it, in a different basis. He should say 2 things.
1) There must be at last a standarization. Based on
the demand? Perhaps...Based on the most
productive solutions? Perhaps...

Who is responsible for that?
That is the second thing...
2)Who is going to be in charge.

But to give an answer I must turn your views to
some other aspects of our e-economy but also our
economy as we know....

How people claim what they deserve? THey
protest, they get loud in the streets, and finally
after a revolution, a war, laws are made...and
furthermore constitutions. A constitution gives the
path to set up your freedom area. Right? Can you
have justice when a king or a dictator rules your
life? Freedom? No. Result? Constitution.

Tell me one more thing, who's got the power to
build economies? People with money... What is the
money? Power. Don't tell me about some
revolutionists! Stick to the reality, please. Follow
my process. Who has control over law? Some
multinational multi-billionar companies? (at 99%?)
Yes they have. Microsoft, Sun are too such
companies. So Microsoft thrives for goverment
contracts, and Sun leaks on her wounds. Priests
the Linux. But...Linux becomes a tool to those
people. Fundamentally beyond Linux is GPL is the
licence. And what does that mean? That there is a
war. Between companies who wish to have closed
the paths to knowledge, and people who do want
to make a difference. Result? sourceforge.net,
freshmeat.net, kde.org, gnome.org. All cool up to
here. But! Microsoft has 90% of the internet users,
and governments such as India and USA run
central systems. Why, Gentlemen? Why Ladies?
The answer is one. Because those companies have
trespassed the universities' asylum! Yes in-deed.
When a company pays a university, the university
has to follow company's instructions. When
something new is invented and it is not registered
at the benefits of this company this 'good' goes
wasted or....proprietary and plugin to any windows
XP2000NT98 or Apple2010203. So my concern,
is that in the bottom line, companies have taken
the place of teacher, and of educator in general.
They instruct what should we learn and we learn it.
'The Matrix' again and again. And when that
happens, Open Source remains at those few
fanatics, who yes they do support ALSA and OSS,
they do support KDE but GNOME too. And they can
not do nothing more. Just pray that each
technology that comes up won't pass them by.
Why microsoft made us, to use the windows
systems? She did on DOS. A freely distributed OS
that became Trojan Horse. And from DOS now we
need Paladium.

What is the best way to cope with this? And make
OO really a competitor? Not much. Just to ask
freedom for education once more. We need to roll
the dice, again.Perhaps we can achieve it.

Economy, people is based on laws.Law on
constitution. It's about time to set e-economy on a
new type of research.
In other words, let me put it this way the second
thing....
If no one is in charge of OO by anyway, who has
set in charge a Bank to close the door for me, just
because I like to wear a 'suit' like linux? Who?
Politics? Lawyers? Laws? What laws?

Even economically there is only one fundamental
rule. 'Supply and Demand'. A law that all modern
western economies -especially USA- appreciate it.
But supply means a cool and justiful race between
different products under rules. Where is that rull
that denies me to have an identity on the modern
e-world with the tools I want? Is there written?

Because I am tired, I close up, here. My
conclusion is just that we have very good source of
minds, and software. What we need is 'protection'
and 'liberation of the knowledge through
universities'. Linux and GPL make up what unis
should do long time ago, instead of wasting money
on fat or beautiful ladies standing in the corridor of
a library and sharing time among axious students
who wish to seek the database of the university
from the corridor of the university! Pf! My
/usr/share/doc is endless of texts and help, thanx
to this anarchy. So how are we gonna make a
/global/share/doc? Only this is the weapon against
proprietary software and moreover, companies.

I am angry at the fact, that when they say that
knowledge is power, they have taken us this
power. We have to pay $$ and $$ and yet we will
see only a 1% of the knowledge. And the payment
goes to companies endly. Which in return re-sell
us products that we in anyway run to the same
company to buy. A non-ended loop. While (;;).

And I am asking... What is the means to achieve
Open Source?

21 Apr 2003 22:11 svachi

Re: Choices
One of the strong points of Free Software is that people can
modify the source and redistribute it. If there is a feature that
you really need ported from another software, you can do it
yourself, if you have the skills, or you can try offering some
rewards (like that money you have to spend buying a
commercial software if the free software is not good enough)
on the project mailing list for people who will port it for you.

I think the trick is to use availble resources wisely ;-) In short,
if you have skills, code. If you have money, pay people to do it for you.

> Choices are good, I agree, but too many
> of them, as this article explains, is
> bad. My Experience with Linux has been
> mostly searching for the perfect app,
> and wishing that some features from one
> app were mixed with other features from
> another app.
>
> darn. Linux has a long way to go because
> of this problem.
>
>

23 Apr 2003 17:35 AJamesCrowley

Re: GNUstep?

In response to the main article, as I didn't have the time to read all the 10,000 or so replys:

Please excuse my lack of knowledge. I am not a Linux user, merely someone who will be when my PC finally arrives 'sans OS'

My personal view is that the main wish of the article is for a compatible OS that does what Windows does but doesn't cost the same.

I have long read about the stability and superiority of the Linux OS and how things written could easily out-perform windows. That'd be great.

But to appeal to "Joe 'What's an os?' Public" any operating system would have to be fairly similar to Windows in it's SEEMING user-friendlyness. Ergo, my own mother needs to be able to use it.

I agree that it'd be nice if more people would collaborate on the most used projects in order to make applications that could rival microsoft's on features and exceed them on performance and using less space and memory for unwanted bloatedness. But I do feel that freedom to write and programme whatever you like should also be ok.

I am impressed by a lot of the new free windows utilities which are module based and allow a basic programme to be written with 'bolt on' accessories that reference to common libraries etc. This allows for third party add-ons and extensions to exist happily without major restructuring of the original code, and of course for the programme itself to be easily changed and extended too.

Maybe more of this would be good. Maybe as lot of this does occur. I don't know, I'm no programmer, and therefore in no position to say.

To conclude I think of a good friend of mine in the South of Romania (Petrila) who has an internet cafe, which runs on Linux. They provide a cheap service that is still expensive for the locals, but at least lets them communicate with those for who £20 is a day's temp work, not a month's wage. Buying Windows is out of the question. A free OS is the only option.

Let's not cheat people out of features through our own inability to work together.

It's a big world out there with big corporations running the show, but like the sea wears away the cliffs of Dover, so can this community work at the towering cliffs of Microsoft, and others like it who over-profit from the general public.

24 Apr 2003 16:07 m6s

OpenSource, Economy ...Constitutional Rights....
-I have re-placed because my first publication
didn't go right where I wanted- Sorry...

I think the magic word around here is that when
people use Internet Explorer all head to a
monopolium of e- and non e- commerce. Thus it
comes to a company such as Microsoft, or Sun or
anyother (do not be fool that only M$ is really bad)
who will embrace the daily transactions. Yes the
fellow is right...There is too much of free software,
of free coded lines. But also there is a huge
anarchy in the whole process of this sofware
making. What I mean... Well, think about it. We
created -as mankind- a new deal of economy. A
new aspect. The e-commerse. And yes if you ain't
got I.E. you are doomed...unless you use a decent
netscape which might the bank let you use or
unless you use Konqueror who might has plugins
to fake your identity...Sure...that is freedom we
want? Yes? Is that? I do not think.... What is going
then? On my opinion Marius should set it, in a
different basis. He should say 2 things. 1) There
must be at last a standarization. Based on the
demand? Perhaps...Based on the most productive
solutions? Perhaps... Who is responsible for that?
That is the second thing... 2)Who is going to be in
charge. But to give an answer I must turn your
views to some other aspects of our e-economy but
also our economy as we know.... How people claim
what they deserve? THey protest, they get loud in
the streets, and finally after a revolution, a war,
laws are made...and furthermore constitutions. A
constitution gives the path to set up your freedom
area. Right? Can you have justice when a king or a
dictator rules your life? Freedom? No. Result?
Constitution. Tell me one more thing, who's got
the power to build economies? People with
money... What is the money? Power. Don't tell me
about some revolutionists! Stick to the reality,
please. Follow my process. Who has control over
law? Some multinational multi-billionar companies?
(at 99%?) Yes they have. Microsoft, Sun are too
such companies. So Microsoft thrives for
goverment contracts, and Sun leaks on her
wounds. Priests the Linux. But...Linux becomes a
tool to those people. Fundamentally beyond Linux
is GPL is the licence. And what does that mean?
That there is a war. Between companies who wish
to have closed the paths to knowledge, and
people who do want to make a difference. Result?
sourceforge.net, freshmeat.net, kde.org,
gnome.org. All cool up to here. But! Microsoft has
90% of the internet users, and governments such
as India and USA run central systems. Why,
Gentlemen? Why Ladies? The answer is one.
Because those companies have trespassed the
universities' asylum! Yes in-deed. When a
company pays a university, the university has to
follow company's instructions. When something
new is invented and it is not registered at the
benefits of this company this 'good' goes wasted
or....proprietary and plugin to any windows
XP2000NT98 or Apple2010203. So my concern,
is that in the bottom line, companies have taken
the place of teacher, and of educator in general.
They instruct what should we learn and we learn it.
'The Matrix' again and again. And when that
happens, Open Source remains at those few
fanatics, who yes they do support ALSA and OSS,
they do support KDE but GNOME too. And they can
not do nothing more. Just pray that each
technology that comes up won't pass them by.
Why microsoft made us, to use the windows
systems? She did on DOS. A freely distributed OS
that became Trojan Horse. And from DOS now we
need Paladium. What is the best way to cope with
this? And make OO really a competitor? Not much.
Just to ask freedom for education once more. We
need to roll the dice, again.Perhaps we can achieve
it. Economy, people is based on laws.Law on
constitution. It's about time to set e-economy on a
new type of research. In other words, let me put it
this way the second thing.... If no one is in charge
of OO by anyway, who has set in charge a Bank to
close the door for me, just because I like to wear a
'suit' like linux? Who? Politics? Lawyers? Laws?
What laws? Even economically there is only one
fundamental rule. 'Supply and Demand'. A law that
all modern western economies -especially USA-
appreciate it. But supply means a cool and justiful
race between different products under rules.
Where is that rull that denies me to have an
identity on the modern e-world with the tools I
want? Is there written? Because I am tired, I close
up, here. My conclusion is just that we have very
good source of minds, and software. What we
need is 'protection' and 'liberation of the
knowledge through universities'. Linux and GPL
make up what unis should do long time ago,
instead of wasting money on fat or beautiful ladies
standing in the corridor of a library and sharing time
among axious students who wish to seek the
database of the university from the corridor of the
university! Pf! My /usr/share/doc is endless of
texts and help, thanx to this anarchy. So how are
we gonna make a /global/share/doc? Only this is
the weapon against proprietary software and
moreover, companies. I am angry at the fact, that
when they say that knowledge is power, they have
taken us this power. We have to pay $$ and $$
and yet we will see only a 1% of the knowledge.
And the payment goes to companies endly. Which
in return re-sell us products that we in anyway run
to the same company to buy. A non-ended loop.
While (;;). And I am asking... What is the means to
achieve Open Source?


--
Power to the people!

25 Apr 2003 06:43 taaminator

Free or Free&Marginal&Redundant&Buggy&Incomplete
"Too Much Free Software" or "Too Much Free Marginal
or Redundant or Incomplete or Old Software"?

I agree that there seems to be too much free,
marginal, redundant, buggy, incomplete, old software.
When the user seeks software for a specific function
and must wade through 666 apps only to find that a
single piece of software with that specific function does
not exist, then there is a malfunction in 'the free
software system.'

The cure for that is a better system to function-list
and user-rate software. Advertisers for different levels
of products have balloons to show 'has' or 'has limited'
or 'has not.' Perhaps the time is now to create a system
for creators and users to function-list their software. For
example, mylinuxmovieplayer - Plays - MPG, QT. Does
Not Play - WMP. Records - Nothing. Timer - None.
Saves - All. Editting - None. User - Beginner. Similarly,
as stated previously, a moderated wishlist of specific
applications and functions is appropriate. At the same
time, we need to protect developers from the newbies'
unending 101s without charring the newbies and turning
them to the gate$ side of the force.

There are ego and Quixotic problems therein. Why be
part of a project when you can develop and distribute
YATE (yet another text editor) which is named after
you? And, if you've ever tried to make software that
uses a proprietary giant's crown jewels, you know that
some things are almost impossible.

As far as 666 flavors of text editor and user
preferences. I SUPPORT INDIVIDUAL CHOICE. This is
not medicine. Previously, doctors ONLY used the two
dozen meds they were taught in med school. [Perhaps
that is why leeching is making a comeback.] As a
consequence, continuing medical education requires
that doctors learn about new meds. But, this is not
medicine. This is software. And, for the non-business
user, this is not a legal case for mandatory application
usage. This is optional. I think many flavors of text
editor is good in principle. In the workplace, unity is
power. [Or is it "mind-numbing is control"?]

What is the optimal amount of text editors? I do not
know. When you go to BR31, they only have 31 flavors,
but they have a core of constant flavors and a few
changing flavors. That works. At its lowest point, KFC
had over 200 menu items. As a consequence, if you
were to order a few of the less popular items, you
would be waiting for an extended period of time. Mr.
Dave (Wendy's) Thomas realized this was
dysfunctional. Mr. Thomas reduced the menu to about
three dozen items. KFC service and quality improved
instantly, and, wait times reduced drastically.

Free versus free and redundant ...

Free versus free but does not do what the user wants
...

Free versus free, old and still maintained for the few
users who refuse to change ...

... Makin' a list and checkin' it twice.

Now, where was I --

# vi .cshrc

28 Apr 2003 13:32 ddgenius

What we _really_ need...
...is a Marius Andreiana linux distro with all kinds of wonderful open source choices, including all of the open source projects he has contributed code to in his career. Oh, wait, he didn't mention any of those... Hmm...

Perhaps he's just talking out his ass and insulting thousands upon thousands of developers who have contributed their time and effort to open source projects.

Perhaps what we _really_ need is for more hard-working developers to stop coding and start shooting off at the mouth (like Mr. Andreiana) about what they don't like about everyone else's product. Yeah, that would accomplish far more than individual efforts. Great idea, Marius! You've inspired me to stick my head up my ass too!

04 May 2003 13:05 cryptopo

Re: Too much free software
There are too many programmers in this world too, why not just kill all those who are starter or have not yet released anything useful in 6 months or so ?

Obviously this guy is a crackhead, how about trying to be a programmer first before criticizing programmers ?

How many successful projects he mentioned didn't start from scratch at one point ? And not a clone or something similiar to others ? Forget about the hatress toward Windows for a moment, how many popular projects from Linux have started as an alternative of some other Win apps ?

Another point is that most starting programmers want to try something easy, from scratch to gain experience. You don't know jack if you think any one can just jump into some projects like Mozilla and understand anything.

08 May 2003 12:57 gentas

Free IM

Why saying nothing about Jabber and Gabber? Why proposing IM clients based on propietary protocols? We can't stand united if we use different clients for IM. We must support Jabber. At least, we couldn't ignore it.

11 May 2003 17:15 networkr

Too much free software, that's right, most of it crap
I agree with your article whole-heartedly.

I am not a programmer, and will always go back to my Windows box when the going gets tough unless you can forever free me from the command line. Syntax is for guru's. But in case you hadn't noticed, most of the user base is NOT in that category.

Cheers,

15 May 2003 05:39 utish

Re: Too much free software, that's right, most of it crap
The author is correct that there is a need for COMMON BASE for the application to compete with the current dominant Windows. It is true that desktop domain cannot be captured until there is stylish and easy interface, good sound and vidio system. Programmers need to converge their efforts to integrate their work to produce robust applications.
I DO NOT AGREE THAT software in freshment with less than 1% activity should be removed. LET PROGRAMMERS GROW. THEY WILL EVENTUALLY FIND THEIR WAY TO BUILD GREAT APPLICATIONS LIKE MOZILLA, GIMP AND SO ON.

19 May 2003 20:06 peterthemes

User participation
OK, good thinking. Lots of project are supply driven. Would like that user can PARTICPATE in design (not everybody knows how to code but most of us know what they like). Somehow the same system as in the themes section (vote: good - bad). Such a simple and very direct voting system is something I would prefer over "sourceforge should remove projects with less than 1% activity".

20 May 2003 20:41 toosleep

is this guy a newbie?
Although I seem to agree with most of what has been said in this little rant, I am in no place to complain about the situation.
Its like getting the government to work with the factory workers in that it will never be an issue that will be resolved. The makers and the wanters will never be on common ground.
I'm not going to throw in any comment about Microsoft because most of you dont live under a rock and know enough about them.
The only way a consumer will be totaly satisfied is if they totaly build something themselves thus no longer having anything to buy. You either are a builder or a buyer. This articlewas a waste of 1's and 0's. You might as well tell me the sky is blue. No, we cant just get along, and no, the whole linux thing isnt a community, its a pecking order now full of people who talk about how things are "gay" in yahoo chat rooms, and dont even know what a 'man page' is.

22 May 2003 04:07 murrant

Re: OpenSource, Economy ...Constitutional Rights....
Holy cow, what is wrong with you?

23 May 2003 10:54 stephenward_hw

Re: About Developers & Users

> Well, when it comes to developers, I
> think the more, the better. It gives
> people more to study, use and re-use,
> but talking about users and mainstream,
> I agree with the autor.
> So, remains one question - at least for
> me -: Is there a way to please both?

I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. Although there is a segment of the Linux community that seems committed to making Linux compete with Windows on the desktop, there is also a segment that enjoys the freedom from dictated development approaches that Linux offers. Why force the removal of this benefit to satisfy the desktop fanatics..

I think that what is needed is to acknowledge (as this post suggests) both of these agendas. For those developers and users that are committed to empowering Linux on the desktop, why not try and focus the efforts around the better applications. For those who enjoy the freedom of Linux - leave them alone and let them use that freedom to solve problems as they see fit and quite probably generate ideas and progams that the first class of people would never deam of.

To deal with the proliferation of software projects why not (as was already suggested) set up a way to rate and group the available choices so that end users who are simply trying to get their tasks done can be directed to the projects that are the most refined and suitable.

Personally, I have been using Linux on the desktop for four years or so and the only Windows that exists on my computers is in vmware for windows development (a necessary evil to obtain revenue). However, I have had no difficulties getting any task done with Linux software and I applaud the efforts of the OpenOffice, Mozilla, GIMP, and on and on ... groups for the level of software that they have generated. I do not find myself need or wanting to use the Windows alternatives.

23 May 2003 18:23 noexit

Whats wrong with too much?
I do agree that *some* open-source projects need better management and more precise goals.

But I would never agree to removing ANY open-source project if it is inactive. That defeats the purpose of open-source and free software.

People seem to forget that GNU and the Free Software movement were based on the idea of COMMUNITY. They were not based on the idea of KILLER APPS.

If some guy wants to re-invent the wheel, so be it. In fact it is not only a good learning experience for him, but for the COMMUNITY. Other people many be able to learn from his code.

I started using Linux in 1995 and havent looked back, and the greatest thing about it is the abundance of open code to look at and learn from. I basically learned to program by downloading and messing with other peoples code.

There is no breakdown of the GNU or Free Software movement.

One last thing. I WOULD NEVER go back to a windows machine if the going got tough!

24 May 2003 03:32 manolo

Frees software and food
Go to the supermaket, you'll find 1500 products
to eat, you'd survive eating 15 of those
products, why do you need the rest 1485 ?

Go to the shoe shop. 250 different shoes, any
would serve you to walk with no bare feet.

Go to the disco, 350 different girls...

You're proposing communistic planning, 5-yearly,
a la "romanian".

Free soft is a gift, gifts are welcome. As simple
as that. You can't demand anything to someone
that's granting you a gift.

31 May 2003 06:42 mandreiana

diversity
Hi

I'm an ex-Windows user since 1998, but I interact a lot with people who use Windows and I know what their problems are.

Yes, I could simply leave them alone and have over 90% use MS, but if you have read all the article you woould have seen that's bad for us ( palladium, lack of drivers, lack of standards for web sites and documents ).

What many people forget (and still think that MS sucks at programming) are the huge resources they have. They could always hire people not only to implement features, but to do auditing, code cleanup, API documentation, testing, things which are missing from a lot of OSS development.

Instead, OSS developers do what they like and don't cooperate. I can't blaim them for this, I'm very gratefull for the libre software they write for free, but without cooperation MS will win. There are a lot of examples of programming hours which could be better used ( latest one: ephiphany vs. galeon )

On Sî, 2003-05-31 at 06:53, Matthias Buelow wrote:
Hi,
>
> with disgust I've read your article on freshmeat, "Too Much Free
> Software". Why do you ex-Windows users always whine that Linux (or Unix
> in general) doesn't work like Windows, doesn't look like Windows,
> doesn't have the horrible Office applications available, or is simply
> not "ready for the desktop" (whatever that may mean)? I wonder why,
> when it's not ready, I've been using it for the last 10 years, and
> productively if I may say so. That's something I cannot say about any
> of the Microsoft offerings, or Apple, until on ly very recently (MacOS X).
>
> You want to unify stuff without understanding that the diversity you shy
> so much is exactly the power that permeats the Unix environment. The
> day we have just some uniform Gnome (or whatever) desktop left, and only
> one browser, only one text editor, only one shell, and no choice and
> room for experimentation will be the day when it's probably best looking
> for a job in gardening or truck driving, instead of using computers.
> If you want to use Windows, you know where to get it. If that's what
> you want, then please don't spoil _our_ system. And no, I don't think
> that Unix is a good system for the uneducated end-user. It never was
> and it'll never be, without transforming it into something that most
> Unix users wouldn't recognize and certainly wouldn't want to use. It
> simply does not have the same target audience like, for example,
> Windows. Therefore it simply doesn't make sense, and is actually
> counter-productive, trying to turn it into some integrated
> next-next-finish-hell like Windows. Basically, I don't give a fuck if
> 99% of the computer-using community don't use the same system or desktop
> like I do, but I do get very angry if some people want to shove that
> which 99% of the end-users are using down _my_ throat.
>

03 Jun 2003 22:05 TaranRampersad

Re: Other comments

>
> Taran Rampersad writes:
> >wxWindows allows users this freedom.
> GTK+ doesn't. We cannot curtail
> >Freedom by defining Freedom as
> something within a specific subset. It
> >does not suffer recursion. wxWindows
> works well with Linux, as does
> >GTK+. wxWindows is coming to version
> 3.0 soon, who knows what else the
> >future holds?
>
> I know I should have worked more on the
> article and put more focus on
> sharing code rather than 'abandoning'
> some of the existing applications.
> I know wxWindows makes portability very
> easy (and porting MFC
> applications to Linux with it). I wish
> GTK would have this too, as I
> wish wxWindows would have GTK's features
> of i18n, accesibility and RAD
> tools such as Glade.
>
> > What Marius is talking about is
> Linux conquering the desktops, world
> > domination and all this sort of
> stuff
> Right. I see this more as a necessity
> rather than a religious thing.
> Here in Romania I cannot access on-line
> banking or pay taxes on-line
> because I don't have Internet Explorer.
> I cannot go to competition as
> all banks imposed this limit and the
> government has no competitor.
>
> > He's not interested in
> > multiplatform development
> I am, as long as all platforms have open
> standards. This is not the case
> with Microsoft.

Intriguing. I didn't know that the email would be posted.

We have similar problems in Trinidad and Tobago - but you seem to be one step ahead. You can pay your bills online. ;)

Microsoft does not have Open Standards, that's implicit whenever the name is mentioned. However, being able to run software on Microsoft systems that also runs on GNU/Linux, MacOSX, etc. is also important from an engineering standpoint.
Besides, if the applications work on the Operating System that users presently use - then when they migrate they can use it on another system.
Yes. GNU/Linux needs to survive, and it will. But I think people get caught up in GNU/Linux being FOSS, when GNU/Linux is only an example of FOSS. A prominent example, mind you, but still an example.

04 Jun 2003 10:41 efriese

Re: OpenSource, Economy ...Constitutional Rights....
I don't think we should be focusing on developing better software. We are never going to be able to beat MS at that game because of all the money they have. The trick is making Windows an unnecessary expense. Getting windows programs to run on Linux without having to sacrifice functionality and performance is the key to this game. I believe Code Wavers has the right idea by producing CrossOver Office. Even thought I don't agree with having to pay for it, its the right idea. I think we should be putting more time and resources into projects such as Wine that make Windows unnecessary.

12 Jun 2003 11:38 hawkis

Bill is our time's greatest communist!
He's the great equlizer. When I write something, draw something, calculate something (get the picture...;-)), I know that any receipient will be able to read the contents of my document.

Seriously, most professional users of software are not developers, they just want to finish their report in time and in a format readable to their boss. Then, conformity becomes a major issue for 99.6% of the users, not the output from some nice but not-very-much-used tool (that crashes from time to time, but hey...! So does Excel).

Taking on the *real* arguments.
Iff we want to have an operating system (or a windowing system, or...) at the level of W2kxxx with the same amount of production hours behind it, we as community, would have to agree on a tight requirement spec for that system. When the specified requirements have been met (programmed and tested), NO CHANGES OF THE ALREADY SPECIFIED FEATURES SHOULD BE ALLOWED, because it have to be stable, the very keyword for having reliable software. Now, when something is stable, where is the room for development? Where would I put all my energy and good ideas? Into additional features (and the software grows...). So there is a distinct contradiction (or even tug of war) between 'good' stable reliable software and development of new ideas (in my view).

Next, how would we agree on what is the best path to follow? Who decides that KDE is better that Gnome? So, who is to decide on the strategy, here? Strategies are not democratic, as communities are. They are often a result of a teamwork of a few people (often even by just one person).

My next question is: If all solutions to problems are free/gratis and readable by everyone, how do I make a living out of my great applications? 15 minutes in the sun won't cater for 40 years of living.

Consequently, the free software and the numerous ways to solve a problem enables a lot of people to get fresh ideas on problemes they struggle with, which then may result in commercial software (not free and open), but which reliably solves problems for people not particulary interested in software and platforms. Those people are the majority of software users, and the very commercial reason for me as a developer having a job.

We have a rich library of ideas. Lets make it richer! We are experts in sorting and categorizing, so we'll find solutions or ideas to solutions. Hill Google and the likes!

Regards
vidar
vidar@hawkis.no

13 Jun 2003 15:27 kx_in

Here is what I think ...
So .. what you are suggesting is that we should have only 3-4 apps for each task and make them better. OKAY .. we do it and make these apps so much better that they work for MOST people ..

Work for MOST people , not ALL !!

Now , just tell me what should I do if I am not one of those MOST people ??

To enjoy having a choice , you have to make the effort of making a choice !!

BTW :- Agreed that right now, making this choice is very confusing , because we dont have a good rating system in place.

07 Jul 2003 10:58 docv

Starting from scratch
Where would the linux OS be if no one started from scratch?

10 Jul 2003 06:15 Armon

I just don't get it
I don't get it.

People can talk endlessly about how to get Linux on the desktop, but there's always this crucial question that remains in the cold.

WHY?

Why on Earth do we care what other people use?

I believe Microsoft has sort of made it a common misunderstanding that everybody has to use the same software in order for that software to talk to something else.

Microsoft does Windows which is now incompatible in almost every aspect with every single other OS on the face of the planet.

Microsoft does Office, which is specifically intended to be hard to implement elsewhere, for obvious reasons.

The same thing goes for all of this.

Occationally I give KDE and GNOME a try and flee in panic. I always go back to IceWM, because it has precisely what I need. Nothing more, nothing less. I use X-Chat. I use Sylpheed for mail. I use Mozilla for a browser (which will kick IE's butt any day, regardless of IE-specific nonsense). I have more than what I need. What about you? Before you answer that, ask yourself why I care. The answer is simple, I don't! It's none of my business! It has absolutely zero impact on my computing experience what 99% of the world uses.

The beauty of Linux is precisely the opposite of popular demand. It's the "hackers for hackers" philosophy that makes Linux what it is. The moment the masses start using Linux as opposed to Windows, first of all we will have a nightmarish war with Microsoft which is not worth fighting (and they WILL win anyway, they know all the dirty tricks honorable people won't use). Second of all, it will only result in the crap-ass plague of software written for Windows, leading directly to Linux. And the gain? Anyone?

Linux is not good for any other reason than that it is open-source, and that it is maintained by people who are not on payroll to satisfy Joe Moron @ The Microsoft Fanclub. Developers and hackers implement features and resolve bugs to serve only their own values. This means that the evolution is towards knowledge, not ignorance. We geeks get the features WE need, not the features that our grandmothers need. We WANT to know what's under the hood, and we hate software that doesn't allow that. And we hate it for a damn good reason.

The shear fact that most people can actually live with Windows, is absolute proof of the masses' complete ignorance of software use and development.

Why on Earth are we interested in taking over any of Microsoft's market share? What's in it for us? More idiot-proof, crapped-up, money-brainwashed software that does little else than install viruses, backdoors and stupid little desktop creatures that try to run your life? If that's what you want, then why are you using Linux to begin with?

I just don't see the point anymore. We don't need size. We don't need the masses. In fact, we are where we are precisely because the average user is not!

I'll cut off my reproductional organs before I'll take part in changing Linux into Windows.

10 Jul 2003 06:22 Armon

Re: OpenSource, Economy ...Constitutional Rights....
Why? :) Windows IS unnecessary as it is. I can think of two reasons for running Windows software. A: Your fascist employer is a nitwit and approves of nonsense like Lotus Notes, which oughta be illegal. B: You're running games.

Solution to A: Kill your employer and choose your own damn software.
Solution to B: Get a PlayStation 2.

Or just make Wine compatible with it, that's fine too. Whatever you do, do it for yourself, not only in order to do something Windows does, even if you don't need it yourself.

> I don't think we should be focusing on
> developing better software. We are never
> going to be able to beat MS at that game
> because of all the money they have. The
> trick is making Windows an unnecessary
> expense. Getting windows programs to run
> on Linux without having to sacrifice
> functionality and performance is the key
> to this game. I believe Code Wavers has
> the right idea by producing CrossOver
> Office. Even thought I don't agree with
> having to pay for it, its the right
> idea. I think we should be putting more
> time and resources into projects such as
> Wine that make Windows unnecessary.
>
>

15 Jul 2003 11:54 Armon

Re: diversity
Uhm...

"What many people forget (and still think that MS sucks at programming) are the huge resources they have. They could always hire people not only to implement features, but to do auditing, code cleanup, API documentation, testing, things which are missing from a lot of OSS development."

They implement features that fuck up everything they make. I understand that they NEVER clean up code or rewrite anything, it simply doesn't pay. They never do auditing... "the hardware always catches up".

Auditing, code cleanup and decent API documentation is missing in every bit of software made. I honestly can't say that my Unix software isn't faster and more reliable than any Windows counterpart! Honestly!

Sure, there do EXIST open-source projects that are slower and less reliable than their Windows counterparts, but that's only because so many open-source developers insist on this childish idea of writing free software for someone else than themselves. They're not interested in cleaning code that they're not going to use themselves.

I say fuck the desktop. I asked it before and I'll ask it again, WHY ON EARTH do you want Unix on the desktop? What do you need that Unix doesn't have? All the mumbojumbo CRAP that you're using Unix to escape to begin with?

We don't need another Windows! We don't need another Windows! We don't need another Windows! We don't need another Windows! We don't need another Windows! We don't need another Windows! We don't need another Windows!

24 Jul 2003 07:43 Kirellii

Linux or Windows - tough choice
I have been working with both sides of the equation for as long as I can remember. See my project "Katrina Kirellii's SST Graphical Console" for my latest endeavor. Okay credentials provided and free advertisement of latest project - cool.

The problem I see is not enough applications someone wants to use on the Linux side and prices on the Windows side.

Let me drift back to my free project. It works 9 times as fast in Windows wherever I use it to play starshiptraders in graphical mode. (It is also playable at www.starshiptraders.com in webmode or telnet mode.) This is because Windows has available graphic acceleration drivers for my cards. (Which were bought independent of my Windows focused machines.) Now, my laptop, I talked with Intel about because I wanted the best Intel chip that supported Windows and Linux. I had to settle for a very fast Celeron as they are eyeing the market to decide whether to take Linux for real. Don't want to upset Microsoft is my take. (Now I know that my Radeon Mobility on my laptop is not the coolest Linux acceleration solution - but I don't manufacture laptops and that is what they as money making companies feel is the best solution.)

Okay. Until someone makes the Linux drivers or updates the compilers so that the Linux and Windows versions of my EXACTLY the SAME program - run EXACTLY the SAME, then I have to say Windows XP is the coolest thing since sliced bread and you should go get you some. (With some RedHat Cygwin butter.)

I love Open Source. I love Linux. I love the brightest fringe programmers.

Take a look at a real example of a Windows versus Linux program that does something real - plays a cool game. Tell me Linux is better - I would love to hear it - but so far - it is not.

(Notice of Disclaimer: I am expanding and including more things in this program as I have decided to embed my programs within the program as features. I have included stuff in such as way as to NOT impact performance. However, I am human. If anyone wants to point out my errors so that I become a better programmer and/or human, I welcome honest input delivered kindly.)

29 Jul 2003 14:23 ShadowRage

Ups and Downs
This is a great idea, though I do disagree on the decent media player bit
we do need unification, or at least a common protocol that will enable compatibility between programs.. however, one drawback is that the community might lose focus on free software and start making dominatory software that could not be as good as say, some little unknown project which is leaner and works a hundred times faster and sounds or works better than the "standard"
That's the issue, we see that with microsoft everyday.

The standard could end up being worse than the little guy.
thats what opensource was founded on. the little guy.
so we shouldnt just ignore little projects and sweep them under the carpet, someone could have a great technology, but it not getting well known and he/she may not be confident enough to boast it off in full, just confident enough to put it up online.
what should be done is deprecate the cream of the crap.
the stuff that doesnt work without major hacking and isnt very well liked by anyone, including the developers themselve, who abandon the project right away.
Too often I see many sourceforge projects that have NOTHING.. literally, nothing. they have a description.. that's it.
I think there should be a hard to abuse rating system that will flag a project if it really sucks and doesnt show any improvements. then have fun deleting it.

that would help freshmeat and othet projects.

When I do things, I always wanna make sure it hasnt been done, or make an improvment on it

but that's where my second argument comes in..
We all know that a good chunk of the developers out there are anti-social and want the credits all to them. no one else shall help or take credit in their work, hence why some people get really shitty when you take their OPENSOURCED program and make a fix to it, they get all pissed off and troll you like no tomorrow.
ths is a problem which stands as a barrier againt a common protocol or fixing others' apps.
however, something IS working becuase I've been seeing more and more freeware windows programmers going into opensource, and they get results.

Yeah.
But we need to stop bitching about trivial things.. and beat the hell outta some of these greedy assholes who dont want you touching their code...
if you have that attitude.. go back to coding microsoft applications.

I've seen this happen so much, you edit a theme that is GPL'ed or freely distributable.. you get contacted and bitched at, even though you included the credits to the original author, he (usually a he) will bitch at you screaming you stole his precious theme/code
you know what? fuck them. tell them they made it gpl'ed.. and you simply took their idea, credited them on it and expanded it and made it more creative.

anyways, I'm now ranting.

Back to what I was saying, there are ups and downs to this.
The down is that you may get sub-par software that is the standard, overly bloated, and nothing really stopping these software makers either, becuase they ARE the standard, and they have "proprietary" power over everyone else. they make the standard and everyone must follow, thus you have a "free" microsoft.

The up is that we may get better software and a lot of the subpar software will go away. and we'll have more compatibility. But to what extent, all you do is make a standard that everyone is forced to use, and to force them to use this standard.. you must override teh gp itself.. thus free software becomes no better than what it's fighting against.

I think, for the typical Desktop user.. there should be one standard, since the typical desktop user isnt used to having much choice or freedom with software, so keep them in their little world of sunshine and lollipops, and leave a few rabbit holes for them to venture out into the real world.
For the geek, no standard. Becuase the true geek is the anti-standard.
The Administrator already as a standard. so nothing to bother with there.

I think if we go with with that pattern, we will have the best results. everyone is happy except the proprietary companies which will cry and scream and throw lawsuits right and left to get what they want.. but doubtfully will succeed much.
But, then again, Who gives a damn about those assholes? ;)

Projects like wine (once matured) might help ease the windows user into linux too.

We also want alternatives.. which we must work on more; For the sake of originality and to show that we can take the top dog's idea and put it to use and make it better, faster and stronger. You do that, you catch the eye of the typical corporate user, and eventually, the eye of the typical computer user; Once they show interest and start using these new apps, you got the corporate eye again, in both good and bad ways, You got the software makers and Game makers heading for this platform which seems to be getting demand and popularity, they can make a decent cashflow there too. They can also show off their product to a new group and sell it to a new group as well. Hardware makers will focus more on compatibility with this platform, Along with corporate funding to the opensource movement and unselfish, no-strings-attached help and marketing.

It'll also catch the eye of the dark corporate side, who wish to use dirty tactics to make this platform their platform so they can make profit again, instead of playing nice and making software for this platform, they want the whole deal and want money and fame off this. A perfect example of this is the IBM/SCO lawsuit. SCO thinks becuase linux came from unix they own it. All of a sudden they care becuase it's beating out their property.

Yeah, these are all the ups and downs, but we must be willing to take this issues head on and beat them to iberate the average user from the proprietary iron fist.

16 Aug 2003 22:59 punkfag

i agree, with reservations
i agree somewhat. i can understand the confusion that a "newbie" has when (s)he is faced with thousands of software projects, many that seem very similar. i believe that diversity is a GoodThingTM but that redundancy and inconsistency is a BadThingTM. we don't want OneDesktop and OneShell and OneOfficeSuite for the same reason we don't want OneDistribution -- it goes against the nature of free software.

mozilla and openoffice are bad because they are bloated. it is not about load times but about the code base. it should be inconceivable for a single project to be that large (both are 30-40 mb). it makes it hard for everyday people to contribute because it is so hard to get oriented in hundreds of thousands of lines of code.

what we need is *modularization*. we need to split many projects up. this would reduce the redundancy. for example, we have gtkhtml, khtml, and gecko but all three are tied to larger projects. why not a single, standalone, html parser and another renderer? there are things we have already pretty much standardized on -- mpg123 / mpg321, aspell, etc. we simply need to continue this trend. aspell is simple but it *works*. we don't need every single program writing their own half-assed spell-checker.

i don't really care about LinuxOnTheDesktopTM or commercial developers, my viewpoint is of that of a developer. isn't it much easier to write a program where you can just reference another library rather than hacking out the code yourself? that way you can focus on the unique features of your project.

while i'm on it, remember that SimplerIsBetter. if you are writing a gtk+ application, use libglade -- it really cleans up your project. also, not to flamebait, but if your project is not terribly critical on time don't use C (don't even get me started on C++ and Java!), use Perl, Python or Ruby -- they can't be used for everything but many projects would be greatly improved if they were translated into a higher-level language.

so what can you do to help? write libraries and modules so that user-level programs can be cleaned up and mature, move ui code to glade/qtdesigner, and just figure out a way to help. i believe that anyone who is relatively comfortable using gnu/linux can help. you may not be a semidivine kernel maintainer but you may be able to help translate or something. just try to get involved and give back to the community.

Software Libre!

20 Aug 2003 20:56 TomMM

We need wxWindows as well as GTK+
I basically agree with the article. Differences need to be justified. Diversity and choice are good if there is the differences are meaningful, otherwise they are a waste of time.

In the case of wxWindows there is a simple, valid reason for it to exist as well as GTK+. It is a cross-platform library that maps to native OS widgets/etc. This is a significant difference that is worth preserving.

So, we need these two principal C++ cross-platform GUI libraries: wxWindows and GTKmm. One should be declared the 'default' for C++. I don't care which. All others should be demoted but not eliminated.

23 Aug 2003 14:46 kv9

you cant ever have *too* much software
its a very communist point of view placed into a very communist article comming from an author in a ex-communist country like ours is. and things are clearly viewed from a ex-windows-user-person perspective. `linux doesnt have this and that and would surely need that'. the hell w/ it. if the author had first made contact w/ something other than windows he woulda have something totally different to say. and about the other os. and also diversity is everything. why should anyone stand back and watch other do great things while them only contributing a bit. how would greater things come about then? i realize that every petty person feels the unstopable urge to go like `oh gee golly i already have one ov em program thingiez that does that why on earth would i need another?!'. well tough luck. because they can. do better things. or different at least. thats why. i certanly wouldnt like to be forced to use only THIS brand of software that does THAT thing only because its BIG and POPULAR and everyone is using it hence so should i. come on.

its like the windows environment is a defacto reality. and everyone should measure up to it. grow up ffs. the only 2 things i find windows useful is photoshop and 3dsmax. everything else i can do [better] on linux.

13 Sep 2003 07:35 AskMe

Good Article lots of information from all direction!!
Thanks everybody!!!

I am new user in Open Source, I started to learn linux recently, but the choice and flexibilty which linux provide make me happy. Although I am MCSE in Win NT, I feel that Microsoft is cheating Computer Geeks, beacuse it hide so manythings( and not sure what mischief, or spying behind ). As far as good software is concern, and as it is pointed by many and author, all the coders(open source), should come more closer, coperate more and build, debug software, I feel it will be more effective. It need team work and proper guidence, surely.. Microsoft cannot win whole world, but if open source programmer remain devided then sure Microsoft will make benifit.

But, I still feel that for begineers it is hard to come to open source, beacuse of Installation, configuration problem and some time use problem, Microsoft hide most of them and makes people life some what easier... but I am impressed my the Installation process of latest Linux(Red Hat 8) they try to automate it.. it is great for begineers.... but still i feel we have to do more... furnish and fine tune that free source...

And more... such acticles which bring awareness in newbie like me...

Thanks once again to all...

KEEP THIS SITE ALIVE

this is one of THE BEST Site I ever found on net.... for free source.

29 Sep 2003 00:26 janux

Re: OpenSource, Economy ...Constitutional Rights....

I have recently switched from winbugs (windows)
to linux (redhat shrike) and no I'm not a
whitehat or blackhat or greyhat for that matter.
:)
I admit that I'm a newbie of somesort, but I'm
learning ! (to autoconf or not to autoconf).
but...
I love linux and all the software that is
available... but to be honest I still like the
software that runs on windows.
Does anyone know by any chance if there is an
program such as 'Fruityloops' or 'Cool edit pro'
for Linux ?
The only reason I still use winblows / winbugs /
windoze is because of those incredible pieces of
software. expensive..yes.. useful.. yes, indeed.
Couldn't someone rewrite it for linux, for free
?? (hint.. hint... blink) .. :-)
And now it is time for someone to answer: Sure
thing dude, when do you want to have it ??

10 Nov 2003 22:13 xxxsoftware

Re: Good Article lots of information from all direction!!

> Thanks everybody!!!
>
> I am new user in Open Source, I started
> to learn linux recently, but the choice
> and flexibilty which linux provide make
> me happy. Although I am MCSE in Win NT,
> I feel that Microsoft is cheating
> Computer Geeks, beacuse it hide so
> manythings( and not sure what mischief,
> or spying behind ). As far as good
> software is concern, and as it is
> pointed by many and author, all the
> coders(open source), should come more
> closer, coperate more and build, debug
> software, I feel it will be more
> effective. It need team work and proper
> guidence, surely.. Microsoft cannot win
> whole world, but if open source
> programmer remain devided then sure
> Microsoft will make benifit.
>
> But, I still feel that for begineers it
> is hard to come to open source, beacuse
> of Installation, configuration problem
> and some time use problem, Microsoft
> hide most of them and makes people life
> some what easier... but I am impressed
> my the Installation process of latest
> Linux(Red Hat 8) they try to automate
> it.. it is great for begineers.... but
> still i feel we have to do more...
> furnish and fine tune that free
> source...
>
> And more... such acticles which bring
> awareness in newbie like me...
>
> Thanks once again to all...
>
> KEEP THIS SITE ALIVE
>
> this is one of THE BEST Site I ever
> found on net.... for free source.

Linux/Unix has to improve the user interface to compete with windows.These systems are not user friendly as microsoft's products.

Just a opinion.

www.objectsdevelopment...

30 Nov 2003 08:48 swine1

Hammer and saw
The things I need in software are stability, ease of use and transparency. (I like to know exactly what my system is doing). I use linux most of the time for whatever. and if linux doesn't have the tool that is needed, then I turn to windows. Both have stability in most cases and You have to admit that windows wins as far as ease of use goes, but using "windows" and "transparency" in the same sentence is akin to finding a hockey player with front teeth.(Canadian, eh!)
What I'm trying to say is that both systems are tools, and they are different tools that can do different things. I cant bring myself to dislike a tool because of who makes it. And I'm not going to use a hammer to saw wood.
The greatest thing about linux is the zillions of people that work on it and improve it every day and yes sometimes distributions include too many of the same type of program, but I think that over time software evolution will win out and only the strong will survive.
Windows, on the other hand is money based, not pride based and so programs that are hard to use and dont work properly will be discarded as newer, easier to use programs are created.
Both will evolve, and both will be used. After reading most of the comments I've come to the conclusion that windows bashing is a sensless waste of time, and makes the basher look goofy. Let us rejoice in the fact that were all not still stuck with the trs80's and commodore64's of yesteryear!
Keep your toolbox full!
(whew, not bad for only one cup of coffee)

04 Jan 2004 13:21 enorbet1

Too Much (Bad) Software etc etc etc
As soon as I saw the forking directions that this thread exploded into I hesitated to comment, but then decided that perhaps a return to the overall theme and a move away from the specifics that begin such diversion, might actually be worthwhile to those who count most to me. They are at the extremes having a common effect, which is keeping an alternative OS growing and improving. They are at the most obvious extreme, the developers to whom I am greatly in debt and admire enormously, which occassionally includes me when I write or sufficiently alter an app to have something truly unique, special, and of specific value to me. On the other extreme is the newbie ( at Linux, if you aren't a newbie at something you are learning nothing ) and the "fence-rider" who is thinking of trying out Linux.

The last category is important to me because they increase demand which results in new hardware support as only one example of something that is very important to me. That demand is also beginning to translate into generating dollars ( witness Sun's amazing coup in China - 200 million plus desktops in one sweet deal virtually insuring Linux will be a contender for years just on it's own merit let alone the fire that ignites under developers ) all because Linux is beginning to be taken seriously. Despite some real specifics of areas in which Linux lacks or has too much duplication ( eg text editors ), overall Linux has improved greatly and will obviously grow into areas where it simply has the advantage. Which WM you choose makes little difference in this regard.

One good example is in multimedia production. I have seen that Linux is gaining serious ground in both serious/professional video and sound recording/editing, with the greatest gains so far being in audio work, simply because of low latency. There are other advantages to Linux that count in this area, like the ability to customize freely and extensively. If one was restricted from modifying tape recorders, multi-track would have never have become a reality. This is a huge advantage to Linux but low latency, the effective response time of controls, is enough all on it's own. Because I want to get away from specifics as soon as possible and get to the overall vision that Linux has improved and will continue to improve, despite the original poster's "complaints" ( which did not give sufficient "propers" imho to important events such as nVidia's excellent drivers , their existence at all as well as their frequent updating and superb quality as well as it's effect on "the community", which is perhaps the reason he thinks Linux does not have a decent media player since in my case, an nVidia user, both MPlayer and Xine keeps up, if not soundly defeats, WMP ) and this is without any "community view" or rules, dictums, policies, whatever you wish to call his request for some "guiding light" under which to organize.

Fact is, OSS and GPL works and "Cathedral and the Bazaar" thinking is winning out over "Man-Month Myth" thinking to the extent that not only is Linux doing exactly as it should, improving while finding niches that satisfy specific needs in a wide diversity, but also to the extent that nods are being given to the whole concept of the Open Source Concept in the mainstream press for example because it has become successful in other fields such as the politics of Democracy. One example, is Dean's adoption of "open sourcing" via web contest for his Presidential campaign slogan ( the winner being "Because Democracy should not be a spectator sport" , IMHO an excellent raison d'etre for running for office as well as drumming up voters and votes, regardless of my opinion of Dean as a candidate ) which has even stimulated the thought process of just how far can and should this line of thinking go in a real democracy in terms of "getting one's finger on the pulse" if not actually going quantum leaps further into more intensely pure democratic thnking and processes.

The bottom line is that Networking is better than standing alone and Linux and Linux people network better and it will win what it will win and lose what it will lose, as will MicroSoft, based on those fundamental differences in both the OSes and the processes that create them and the environment in which they operate. What the original poster is calling for is happening anyway, but within niches like Red Hat ( for enterprise ) and Xandros ( for the common man desktop ). That it doesn't occur everywhere in the whole Linux theatre is both healthy and desirable, since having room for that breadth or not ( M$ isolationism will make or break it, and so it will go with Linux and any other project/endeavor ) determines it's ability to improvise, adapt and prevail. It is built in to it's design philosophy and evolution has proven that goal-directed strategy is not a necessity for the development of complex, interactive systems of a high order of intelligence, stability, power and longevity.

Jimmy
Sold on SlackWare

24 Apr 2004 02:41 bigzone

Re: Too much free software, that's right, most of it crap

> The author is correct that there is a
> need for COMMON BASE for the application
> to compete with the current dominant
> Windows. It is true that desktop domain
> cannot be captured until there is
> stylish and easy interface, good sound
> and vidio system. Programmers need to
> converge their efforts to integrate
> their work to produce robust
> applications.
> I DO NOT AGREE THAT software in
> freshment with less than 1% activity
> should be removed. LET PROGRAMMERS GROW.
> THEY WILL EVENTUALLY FIND THEIR WAY TO
> BUILD GREAT APPLICATIONS LIKE MOZILLA,
> GIMP AND SO ON.

GNU/Linux is never going to compete with Windows on the desktop. It's a UNIX clone, and no matter how many pretty GUI's you put on top of it, it's still not going to be a user-friendly desktop OS. And if someone did completely rework the system for desktop use ala OSX, as someone said before, it would no longer be the GNU/Linux that we all know and love. It would be a lame hybrid OS, and personally, I don't want to use an integrated Windows-like system, I want to use UNIX.

There is a "common base" for 99% of Linux distributions - it's called GNU. It's very robust. Many, many developers have "converged their efforts" to make it so, and have been doing so since before Windows 95 ever entered the public conciousness. If you want to know why it hasn't dominated the desktop market, look no further than the fact that it's a UNIX clone.

OSX "works" because it's users don't want UNIX - they want a user-friendly hand-holding desktop OS with a command line. That's what OSX is, and that's what GNU/Linux will never be, because it's UNIX.

17 May 2004 00:23 bootswork

and he's going to fix this by...
Starting yet another distribution (www.galuna.ro/products...)! Not contributing a Romanian translation for Fedora or Debian or anything, but adding yet another set of bugs, security announcements, and complexity.

I think that's pretty damn funny.

Luckily for our author, the GPL gives him the freedom to say one thing and do another.

18 Oct 2004 09:54 fraktalisman

Freedom of Choice vs. Trouble of Choice
Although I much appreciate freedom of choice and I don't like certain monopolies like M$, the author has a point. Quite recently I read a newspaper article about consumers' choice in supermarkets and why discounters have become so popular. There people can fulfil their basic needs without the trouble of choice.

A similar development can be seen on the web. There used to be many different search engines, various online bookshops and auction services etc. There used to be many freemail services. Now there is fewer choice, the big names have turned into professionalized companies or communities respectively, and they have become more popular among the general public. Ten years ago, geeks used the internet, mostly white american guys with a college degree. Now "everyone" uses the web, and some things have become quite common and thus easy to learn. Email addresses like firstname.surname@gmx.de are one example. Or someone asking me "How do I send mail attachments and how do I make my computer more secure?" - "You have Windows XP and Outlook Express?" - "Yes" - "OK, just read this computerbild article and follow the recommendations".

And if Linux is to be popular as a desktop computer system, it has to move into that direction. The reason why Linux is cool isn't that it's a complex toy for geeks, but it's cool because it's a flexible system to fit different needs, and because it's open source.

Let there be lots of software, yes! Where needed!

As a web designer, I don't need four or five different web browsers. One reliable, scalable, cross-platform browser would be just perfect, with IE's capabilities but more security and configuration options.

But if you need a specialized browser for a special purpose, go ahead and code it.

Just the same goes for all other kinds of software. More things like GIMP and Mozilla might make Linux popular for good reasons.

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