ESSAY: Must We Become Microsoft-watchers?

ESSAY: Must We Become Microsoft-watchers?

Post by Nathan Myer » Wed, 19 Jun 1996 04:00:00



(Brandon J. Van Every wrote a very interesting essay on the
future of free software, "Freeware vs. Microsoft technology
competition".)

Brandon warns us that the Evil Empire, investing its billions,
is likely to take over the world and leave us in the Linux
community with nothing.  He neglects to point out that every
outside observer would say that this happened long ago; or
that Free Software has been considered an impossible (or silly)
dream by a rather large majority since before the name GNU
existed.

Who *should* we write software for?  
  We have always written software for ourselves.  
Why *did* we write it?  
  Because we wanted it.  

We will always have a system we can use to write the software
we want, and we will always write exactly the software we want
to have.  If we try to break out of our tradition, and try to
anticipate what some other population wants, and code to that,
it will have two effects:

1. We would fail.  Who the hell knows what somebody else wants?  
2. We would disband.  Who's going to write free software they
   don't even want for themselves?

It's in day jobs that people write code they don't want, for somebody
they don't care about.  (Not all day jobs, of course...)

The essential quality of the GNU community, and of Linux, is not
its graphics technology, or its internet pizzazz; fads come and go.
The essential feature of Linux is that you can build anything that
interests *you*, and join with anybody else who is also interested.

This is not to say that Free Software is invulnerable to attack.
Patent claims are a continuing threat.  Hardware device interface
secrecy is a current nuisance, and could become much worse.  
Commercial concerns siphon off a few of our best developers
continuously.

But none of these threats requires us to become Microsoft-watchers,
and let them set our agenda.  We are served best by noting, not what
the hype machine is boosting, but rather what we would like for our
own use, but don't have yet; and building it.

Nathan Myers

 
 
 

ESSAY: Must We Become Microsoft-watchers?

Post by Erik M Pennebak » Thu, 20 Jun 1996 04:00:00



>It's in day jobs that people write code they don't want, for somebody
>they don't care about.  (Not all day jobs, of course...)

I agree completely; Linux might gain some suit type apps (like
slick spreadsheets, etc) if commercial companies continue to develop
for it, but a lot of the GNU/Linux crowd doesn't care.

Quote:>The essential quality of the GNU community, and of Linux, is not
>its graphics technology, or its internet pizzazz; fads come and go.
>The essential feature of Linux is that you can build anything that
>interests *you*, and join with anybody else who is also interested.

Definitely.
I think there are a few things people are missing here:

1) Graphics is more than just commercial flash.  Thats why X windows is
probably running on most linux boxes, and why most people on the net,
including the most crusty unix programmer, probably uses the web.  This
is only going to become more prominent.

2) Linux, as a UNIX variant (or whatever the PC term is), is very different
from Macintosh, windows, etc.  If there were lots of builtin libraries, they
would live in X windows, not in the kernel.  In many ways, there is extra
graphics support (isn't that what the accellerated servers are?).  Whatever
the case, graphics doesn't have to do with Linux; its the X consortium that
would be worrying about that.

-Erik

--
-----

                           Question Reality
CCSO EWS Guy                                                       My opinions

 
 
 

ESSAY: Must We Become Microsoft-watchers?

Post by Scot W. Stevens » Fri, 21 Jun 1996 04:00:00


Hello Alan,

Quote:> I think you might be missing something.  I use X so that I can have
> multiple apps on the same screen, and so my Emacs can do color
> fontification.  I very rarely use it for "graphical" apps.  

I'll second that. Currently I have four xterms open, wish I could have
more, and the only thing that is even worth calling "graphical" is xload.
After redefining the keyboard shortcuts somewhat, I can now proudly
claim not to have touched the mouse in days - good thing, too, since
it doesn't really work =8).

Y, Scot
--

  What Bill Gates did not realize was that his daughter would grow up to be
     a rebel and would never use anything but Linux for her whole life

 
 
 

ESSAY: Must We Become Microsoft-watchers?

Post by Alain Kna » Fri, 21 Jun 1996 04:00:00



:I use netscape because it
:has nicer fonts than lynx does, making things more readible....

 Huh? Stop smoking that rolled-up wall-to-wall carpet, it's not good
for your health :-) Lynx is a text app, and thus uses whatever font
your terminal emulator or virtual console uses. If the font is too
small for you, use xterm -fn 10x20 or whatever.

--
 Linux - An OS that doesn't break like glass

 Alain

 
 
 

ESSAY: Must We Become Microsoft-watchers?

Post by Commonwealth Land Title Compa » Fri, 21 Jun 1996 04:00:00




>Subject: ESSAY: Must We Become Microsoft-watchers?
>Date: Tue, 18 Jun 1996 17:17:29 -0700
>(Brandon J. Van Every wrote a very interesting essay on the
>future of free software, "Freeware vs. Microsoft technology
>competition".)
>Brandon warns us that the Evil Empire, investing its billions,
>is likely to take over the world and leave us in the Linux
>community with nothing.  He neglects to point out that every
>outside observer would say that this happened long ago; or
>that Free Software has been considered an impossible (or silly)
>dream by a rather large majority since before the name GNU
>existed.
>Who *should* we write software for?  
>  We have always written software for ourselves.  
>Why *did* we write it?  
>  Because we wanted it.  
>We will always have a system we can use to write the software
>we want, and we will always write exactly the software we want
>to have.  If we try to break out of our tradition, and try to
>anticipate what some other population wants, and code to that,
>it will have two effects:
>1. We would fail.  Who the hell knows what somebody else wants?  
>2. We would disband.  Who's going to write free software they
>   don't even want for themselves?
>It's in day jobs that people write code they don't want, for somebody
>they don't care about.  (Not all day jobs, of course...)
>The essential quality of the GNU community, and of Linux, is not
>its graphics technology, or its internet pizzazz; fads come and go.
>The essential feature of Linux is that you can build anything that
>interests *you*, and join with anybody else who is also interested.
>This is not to say that Free Software is invulnerable to attack.
>Patent claims are a continuing threat.  Hardware device interface
>secrecy is a current nuisance, and could become much worse.  
>Commercial concerns siphon off a few of our best developers
>continuously.
>But none of these threats requires us to become Microsoft-watchers,
>and let them set our agenda.  We are served best by noting, not what
>the hype machine is boosting, but rather what we would like for our
>own use, but don't have yet; and building it.
>Nathan Myers


Beautifully said...
 
 
 

ESSAY: Must We Become Microsoft-watchers?

Post by Alan Shut » Sat, 22 Jun 1996 04:00:00



AK> nicer fonts than lynx does, making things more readible....

AK>  Huh? Stop smoking that rolled-up wall-to-wall carpet, it's not
AK> good for your health :-) Lynx is a text app, and thus uses
AK> whatever font your terminal emulator or virtual console uses. If
AK> the font is too small for you, use xterm -fn 10x20 or whatever.

I know that, but I'll admit that I find it very convenient to have
general text in proportional fonts, headers nicely displayed, etc.  I
could just as easily use Arena or Chimera, but I have to have netscape
on my system for other users anyway, and I'm low on disk space.  8^(

 
 
 

ESSAY: Must We Become Microsoft-watchers?

Post by Brandon J. Van Eve » Sun, 23 Jun 1996 04:00:00





: >Subject: ESSAY: Must We Become Microsoft-watchers?
: >Date: Tue, 18 Jun 1996 17:17:29 -0700

: >(Brandon J. Van Every wrote a very interesting essay on the
: >future of free software, "Freeware vs. Microsoft technology
: >competition".)

: >Brandon warns us that the Evil Empire, investing its billions,
: >is likely to take over the world and leave us in the Linux
: >community with nothing.  He neglects to point out that every
: >outside observer would say that this happened long ago; or
: >that Free Software has been considered an impossible (or silly)
: >dream by a rather large majority since before the name GNU
: >existed.

Aren't you ignoring that my arguments are specifically premised about
3d technology?  I have made no such vague claims as you describe.

Cheers,
--
Brandon J. Van Every   |  Check out Free3d, my 100% efficient, 100% portable
                       |  3d lib, at <http://www.blarg.net/~vanevery>.
3d Computer Graphics   |

 
 
 

ESSAY: Must We Become Microsoft-watchers?

Post by Josh » Tue, 25 Jun 1996 04:00:00




Quote:>1) Graphics is more than just commercial flash.  Thats why X windows is
>probably running on most linux boxes, and why most people on the net,
>including the most crusty unix programmer, probably uses the web.  This
>is only going to become more prominent.

Most people have X windows on their machines because it's the closest
thing they have to real graphics, not because it is graphics.  Let's face
it. X sucks for graphics.  It was designed to run 3 things well: xterm,
xclock, and xload.  Everything else is a kludge.

        -joshy
--
                                                Joshy - wide eyed innocent

                                                 a CS major who can cook

 
 
 

ESSAY: Must We Become Microsoft-watchers?

Post by roo » Tue, 25 Jun 1996 04:00:00


(among other things)

Quote:

>Most people have X windows on their machines because it's the closest
>thing they have to real graphics, not because it is graphics.  Let's face
>it. X sucks for graphics.  It was designed to run 3 things well: xterm,
>xclock, and xload.  Everything else is a kludge.

For shame!  You (probably intentionally!) forgot to mention xlogo!!!
How is JoshyWindows coming along, BTW?
 
 
 

ESSAY: Must We Become Microsoft-watchers?

Post by Harrison Berger » Wed, 26 Jun 1996 04:00:00




 >(among other things)
 >>
 >>Most people have X windows on their machines because it's the closest
 >>thing they have to real graphics, not because it is graphics.  Let's face
 >>it. X sucks for graphics.  It was designed to run 3 things well: xterm,
 >>xclock, and xload.  Everything else is a kludge.
 >>
 >
 >For shame!  You (probably intentionally!) forgot to mention xlogo!!!
 >How is JoshyWindows coming along, BTW?
 >

        I guess I missed all of the other graphics systems
        that can provide a networked interface. I use X
        because I can leave data files anywhere, choose
        the computer that I want to read and display the
        data and view it at some remote location where
        I don't happen to have anything but an X display.
        To view X soley in the context of game support,
        is pretty narrow. There are those of us that
        don't use or care about the * possibilities.

--

    Steinberger:
State of the Instrument

 
 
 

ESSAY: Must We Become Microsoft-watchers?

Post by Josh » Wed, 26 Jun 1996 04:00:00




>For shame!  You (probably intentionally!) forgot to mention xlogo!!!
>How is JoshyWindows coming along, BTW?

it's doing ok.  I've been at school and then got the flu but I'm back
in action now.  I hope to have a new release out tonight with some
prelminary keyboard support.  I've scrapped SysV IPC message queues
as they are the work of the devil.  I'm using a more modular messaging
system using sockets.

        -joshy

--
                                                Joshy - wide eyed innocent

                                                 a CS major who can cook

 
 
 

ESSAY: Must We Become Microsoft-watchers?

Post by Josh » Wed, 26 Jun 1996 04:00:00




>    I guess I missed all of the other graphics systems
>    that can provide a networked interface. I use X
>    because I can leave data files anywhere, choose
>    the computer that I want to read and display the
>    data and view it at some remote location where
>    I don't happen to have anything but an X display.
>    To view X soley in the context of game support,
>    is pretty narrow. There are those of us that
>    don't use or care about the * possibilities.

you're right.  X does that one trick very well and for many
applications it's perfect.  But that one trick does not
a GUI make.  It's ugly, inconsistent, hard to use, and
slow.  For any kind of graphics (more than just games) a
more suitable solution is required.  I realize that many people
don't care about cool 3d graphics and photoshopy type applications
but I do and I intend to make a respectable gui that I'm not
ashamed to put on my machine.  It will be fast, user friendly,
and drop dead gorgeous!

        -joshy

--
                                                Joshy - wide eyed innocent

                                                 a CS major who can cook

 
 
 

ESSAY: Must We Become Microsoft-watchers?

Post by Josh » Wed, 26 Jun 1996 04:00:00





>Oh, pithy quotes from the Unix-Hater's Handbook.  Would you care to

I love that article :)

Quote:>offer reasons for it?  This isn't an advocacy group.

I know that a lot of people like X and it's pretty cool for
networking apps but I still hate it.

Inconsistent user interface:
        I realize that programmers should be able to
        customize their user interface but having a good,
        default interface library will go a long way towards
        have a consistent user interface.

color mapping sucks:
        I hate having netscape suck up all of my colors.
        My gui will have a well-spread default 256 entry color map
        that all applications are encouraged to use.  A program
        that really needs a lot of it's own colors will use a private
        color map.  For fewer color displays there will be auto-dithering
        and for higher color displays there will be a true 24bit color
        mode with auto-dithering down to 256 if you want need it (like
        photoshop).

Too much memory:
        a simple clock program shouldn't take up 1.2 megs

Too complex:
        there are a gazillion libraries all over the place.  My gui
        will have only 2 shared libraries.  One for the drawing
        library and one for the messaging routines.  It will be possible
        to statically compile everything into one program so that you
        can distribute an application by itself and it already includes
        everything to use the screen, mouse, and keyboard.  It will also
        be possible to add your own sources of input that can send their
        own events or fake keyboard/mouse events.  Good for using a joystick
        as a mouse or scripting.

As I've said I hate X and I'm writing something to do what I want to do.
I'll still use X for things like netscape and the inevitable word processor
(or Xemacs) but for my graphics happy programs I need something better.
Linux has the possiblity of being a killer graphics platform.  It has
true multitasking (and multithreading soon I hope), good virtual memory, a
fast filesystem, and has lots of cool people programming for it.  Add that
to the networking ability and the only thing better is a bebox. (and the
two together. just think of it  :)

        -joshy

--
                                                Joshy - wide eyed innocent

                                                 a CS major who can cook

 
 
 

ESSAY: Must We Become Microsoft-watchers?

Post by Harrison Berger » Thu, 27 Jun 1996 04:00:00





        .
        .
        .
 >>       I don't happen to have anything but an X display.
 >>       To view X soley in the context of game support,
 >>       is pretty narrow. There are those of us that
 >>       don't use or care about the * possibilities.
 >>
 >
 >you're right.  X does that one trick very well and for many
 >applications it's perfect.  But that one trick does not
 >a GUI make.  It's ugly, inconsistent, hard to use, and
 >slow.  For any kind of graphics (more than just games) a
 >more suitable solution is required.  I realize that many people
 >don't care about cool 3d graphics and photoshopy type applications
 >but I do and I intend to make a respectable gui that I'm not
 >ashamed to put on my machine.  It will be fast, user friendly,
 >and drop dead gorgeous!
 >
 >   -joshy
 >
 >--
 >                                           Joshy - wide eyed innocent
 >
 >                                                  a CS major who can cook

        That's cool. I'm not opposed to improvements. I'm only
        opposed to tossing out X to create a network Atari or
        whatever. Also, lot's of folks have been ragging on
        X (I used to do the same until I realized there are
        no other options, and came to appreciate it) but have
        offered little more than grandiose pipe dreams coupled
        with self-aggrandizing pompous diatribe.

        Glad to see some one working on the graphics for real,
        rather than working on the persuasion to work on....
        Now if either AutoCAD would go out of business or port
        their code...

--

    Steinberger:
State of the Instrument

 
 
 

ESSAY: Must We Become Microsoft-watchers?

Post by Steve Dunha » Thu, 27 Jun 1996 04:00:00






> >Oh, pithy quotes from the Unix-Hater's Handbook.  Would you care to
> I love that article :)
> >offer reasons for it?  This isn't an advocacy group.
> I know that a lot of people like X and it's pretty cool for
> networking apps but I still hate it.
> Inconsistent user interface:
> color mapping sucks:
> Too much memory:
>    a simple clock program shouldn't take up 1.2 megs
> Too complex:
>    there are a gazillion libraries all over the place.  My gui
>    will have only 2 shared libraries.  One for the drawing

I'll grant you that the X client libraries leave a lot to be desired,
but I see no complaints here about the X protocol.

Can you come up with a list of complaints about the X protocol
sufficient to justify using something else. If not, I'd recommend you
build your system on top of the X protocol. You will be able to
leverage existing technology (accelerated support on many cards, the
ability to run apps remotely to worthless (Win95) machines, etc.)  The
X protocol is a standard, why not use it?

Steve