|| ||Ken D'Ambrosio <kend-AT-xanoptix.com>|
|| ||Haters of Open Source... use Open Source.|
|| ||Tue, 08 Mar 2005 10:54:55 -0500|
As everyone knows, the Alexis *de Tocqueville Institute hates Open
Source. They've gone to great lengths in their pathetic attempts to
discredit it, including publishing whitepapers trying to spread FUD
(eg., "Opening the Open Source Debate", and a book desperately trying to
show that Linus pirated Linux. [The Andrew Tannenbaum rants about that
book are almost as legendary as the Torvalds/Tannenbaum flamewars; see
It looks as if, however, AdTI has seen the light; the title tags at
www.adti.net now say, "*This site best viewed using Mozilla
Firefox(r)". Apparently, the closed-source software which the so firmly
believe in is a bit more security-hole ridden than the Open Source --
"Hybrid Source" in AdTI doublespeak -- alternative.
Nevertheless, one item of interest remains: I find it amusing and ironic
that an "Institute" that clearly feels pride in its elitism is capable
of mis-quoting one of the most famous speeches of one of our most famous
presidents -- right in their site's banner. The correct quote, Mr.
Brown, is "... not because they are easy, but because they are hard."
But hard work, and journalistic integrity, seem to evade AdTI.
Comments (none posted)
|| ||Leon Brooks <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|| ||Paul Murphy <paul.murphy-AT-linuxworld.com>|
|| ||Conclusions aren't bad, but your working-out's badly broken|
|| ||Mon, 7 Mar 2005 10:50:42 +0800|
|| ||LWN Letters <letters-AT-lwn.net>|
> Furthermore, the Linux operating system itself is neither a new
> invention nor a stand-alone product. It consists of a Linux kernel
> developed by Torvalds and his colleagues by radically improving an
> earlier open-source Unix released by Andrew Tannenbaum in 1987,
> the Gnu utilities developed by the free software foundation, several
> graphical user interfaces akin to Microsoft's Windows brand products
> and a slew of third-party applications.
Urgh. Where to start? (-:
Linus did _not_ improve Andrew Tannenbaum's MINIX, he _replaced_ it. Andy
complained about the difference in structure, generally bagging it for being
monolithic instead of microkernel; he and Linus continue (in a friendly
manner) to disagree about the relative merits of each system.
The GUIs are not a part of the Linux kernel, nor are they in any way necessary
to it. On a server they're often a liability, chewing up resources to no good
end. The FSF's GNU tool-set, especially the GNU Compiler Collection, has been
very helpful in building and supporting the Linux operating system but again
these are still not an inherent part of it.
Comparing MS Windows to any of the GUI window managers is comparing apples to
fruit-baskets. MS Windows is comparable to a Linux distribution, so comparing
Mandrake Linux or Gentoo to MS Windows is valid (except that most Linux
distributions ship with many thousands of useful applications, whereas MS
Windows (for example XP) ships with a hundred or so, pretty bare-bones in
comparison) but comparing MS Windows to "the Linux operating system" is a
type mismatch error.
One last honourable mention, then let's examine the conclusions:
> Apple, for example, uses a BSD variant called Darwin as the foundation
> for Mac OS X. Unix my grandmother can, and does, use. Sun Microsystems,
> meanwhile, is evolving Solaris into a network-based environment offering
> failure-free computing to business users both in the data center and on
> the desktop. A Sun Ray user interrupted at work can, for example, pull
> her java card from the machine she is working on, cross the country to
> another office, plug the card into a machine there, and continue typing
> where she left off.
Your grandmother doesn't use the Unix, she uses the GUI. It's technically
feasible to drop Carbon et al onto a Linux platform and it will work just the
same. You canm also run most of the "Linux" window managers as-is on OS X.
My grandmothers have all died, but my computerless mother-in-law has used KDE
without any undue hassles. My sister-in-law (http://www.goldenlight.bur.st/)
uses and anjoys the well-integrated features in KDE too. Others derive great
joy from GNOME, or from the simpler, faster interfaces like XFCE and FluxBox.
Yes, the Mac interface is even more graceful and better integrated; no, it's
not a magic bullet. A piece of the magic in Mac land that you seem to have
skipped over is consistent, 100% supported hardware. It Just Works, and
people expect to pay 1.5-2x as much for that.
The trick with the SunRay is nice, and looks really cool, but is hardly worth
the money in 99% of cases. Ask Sun how much more your network infrastructure
costs when you've set it up to arbitrarily pipe video all over the country.
If you're busy editing up an OpenOffice document on a similar thin client
connected to a Linux server and the thin client emits smoke or loses power,
you can walk to another one, log in, start OpenOffice and resume typing too.
The really useful part of Sun gear is again reliability of a kind you
generally don't get with commodity PCs. Linux can get you some of that; for
example, I installed a low-cost Motium (http://www.motium.com.au/) box in a
controlled environment a year and a half ago, and it hasn't blipped.
With a disproportionate amount of effort, MS Windows can begin to approach
that kind of reliability on good hardware. Serious players will either skip
the effort by using Linux on the same good hardware, or shell out a bit more
for SGI, Sun, IBM or whoever to do a proper job.
> Torvalds himself has never claimed to be more than he is, but tipping
> points aren't made out of technical reality. They're made out of
> perceptual change. Thus, it was the legend of Torvalds, not the reality
> of his actions as a kind of Wayne Gretzky of Unix development, that
> gave Linux the patina of political correctness needed for it to gain
> widespread public acceptance.
We're into opinion-land now, rather than hard facts and observations, but I
think this is still clearly off the mark.
Linux is winning because Linus provides a single no-arguments benevolent
dictator for it. As General Patton and presumably others before him have
pointed out, a good plan executed right now is often better than a perfect
plan executed slowly. Linus quickly pares away the fluff, and Linux has been,
by general concensus, a one-man one-vote system, Linus being the one man.
Linux is also winning because it's GPLed. That makes it very difficult to
legally hijack. Even if Trey Gates offers Linus fifty billion dollars to
retire from managing or coding for Linux or anything like it, and he takes
the bribe (-: I would! :-), Linux will go on growing.
Open Source in general is winning because of similar control issues. Microsoft
can change Internet Explorer in ways hostile to your line of business, and
there's nothing you can do about that if Internet Explorer is all you use.
But it's quite practical for even a small company to maintain a fork of
Firefox patched to do things in a friendlier way. Often when you update MS
Windows, you get MS "Virus Flypaper" Outlook reinstalled for free. If Fedora,
SuSE or Debian ever did something this ruderbit - and a "sawn off" version of whatever software offended would promptly
Self-centred enterprises just will not give you that control. Linux Australia
found itself moribund a few years ago despite the best of intentions, and the
people in charge had the courage and humility to bite the bullet, doing
radical surgery on the organisation's structure to open up real participation
to more people. Although not perfect, the result has so far has been
producing excellent resoults,
Comments (1 posted)
Page editor: Jonathan Corbet