08.29.08

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Novell, the Microsoft Windows Company

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Ron Hovsepian, Vista, Windows at 7:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s Vista, Vista, Vista

Novell’s CEO hasn't much affinity for or trust in desktop GNU/Linux. Like a true defeatist, he gave up easily after shaking hands and thanking Steve Ballmer, but it goes further. Novell is now moving application to Windows Vista. Yes, it’s true. Right now, Novell spends time and resources porting Mono applications to Microsoft Windows.

[Correction: Tomboy is not funded by Novell, but a Novell employee maintains it as a hobby]

Tomboy on Windows Where It Belongs

As you all know, my job here at Novell is to migrate all worthwhile desktop Linux applications off of that ridiculous platform and onto Windows so that we can do away with this nasty open source stuff. Unfortunately I haven’t yet gotten the paper work to close up my code for the latest victim of this effort, so for now dirty open source hippies can get it here…

[...]

What do you think? Excited to end the Linux charade and switch to a solid and hip platform like Vista? Woo!

I feel very silly today.

It’s like Corel all over again: From a GNU/Linux strategy to .NET strategy, just after a deal with Microsoft.

Having approached Richard Stallman for a comment regarding the latest from Miguel de Icaza, he told us: “Miguel has been no supporter of the free software movement since around 2002. He often says things that support the Microsoft line.”

It is true that, in general, Novell has been supporting “the Microsoft line” for quite some time now. Where is this headed?

Novell error message

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47 Comments

  1. AlexH said,

    August 29, 2008 at 7:55 am

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    I come here for the critical analysis, but I stay here because of investigative reporting.

  2. Dan O'Brian said,

    August 29, 2008 at 8:51 am

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    AlexH: ya gotta be careful saying that in this crowd, they aren’t very perceptive when it comes to detecting sarcasm.

  3. HC said,

    August 29, 2008 at 9:05 am

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    @Alex @Dan
    I don’t see people like you doing anything. If all you have is snarky remarks, STFU and crawl back to your mom’s basements. Let people who are actually calling out crooks and liars do their jobs.

  4. Dan O'Brian said,

    August 29, 2008 at 9:10 am

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    HC: Try actually reading Sandy’s blog post: it was riddled with sarcasm and apparently neither you nor Roy Schestowitz was perceptive enough to discover it.

    The joke is on you guys and you don’t even realize it.

    Pretty sad, really.

  5. AlexH said,

    August 29, 2008 at 9:15 am

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    What is sad is the double-standards. Bringing free software to Windows users is ok if it’s KDE4; but if it’s based on Mono (& therefore much more native to Windows in the first place) that’s bad and wrong.

    It’s simple: creating free software and bringing it to new users is good; full stop.

    What’s even more sad is that you know this article will get shoved into future articles as a “citation”, so credulous readers who come along think that the next “news” is backed up by a history of facts, rather than the history of dubious reporting, poor investigation and pure invention. This whole website is propped up on a stack of articles just like this one.

    What’s most sad: if Novell are doing things wrong, no-one will ever find out about it in here, because this boy crys wolf at shadows.

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 29, 2008 at 9:45 am

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    Alex, I’ve just explained what’s wrong with Mono.

  7. Baby In The Bath Water said,

    August 29, 2008 at 9:57 am

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    Roy, more theory does not a successful proof make.

    Note: this comment was posted from Novell’s headquarters.

  8. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 29, 2008 at 10:09 am

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    Feel free to disprove if you disagree, Mr. “In The Bath Water”.

  9. Victor Soliz said,

    August 29, 2008 at 11:00 am

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    He was being sarcastic, but he is right, windows vista is where tomboy belongs, .net apps do not belong to gnome’s default setup, they are a better match for MS’ awful operating system they will be better there with all that .exe and .dll gibberish running on a MS-designed platform.

  10. Victor Soliz said,

    August 29, 2008 at 11:04 am

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    Roy, any citation/link/something for that RMS statement?

  11. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 29, 2008 at 11:10 am

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    Roy, any citation/link/something for that RMS statement?

    No, but he said this to me yesterday. it’s not surprising though given the tension you can find in the mailing lists.

    There are some other things about de Icaza that I promised not to say in public.

    At the end of the day, considering the latest interview with Ron Hovsepian (in the Irish press), it’s clear that Novell is becoming more and more of a Microsoft company. Good luck to those who like SUSE. They will have to learn to like Microsoft.

  12. AlexH said,

    August 29, 2008 at 3:21 pm

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    @Roy -

    Your latest article is just more of the same. The fact that you bring C++ into it is hilarious (hint: http://www.open-std.org/jtc1/sc22/wg21/docs/contacts ).

    And the fact you think Tomboy is using the Microsoft API is also hilarious. In fact, Mono brings the GNOME API to Windows: Gtk# not Winforms, Cairo not GDI+/whatever, etc. etc.

    Being able to run free software apps on Windows is not a bad thing, and encouraging Windows developers to use free software APIs rather than proprietary ones is an _excellent_ thing.

    You’re never, ever going to understand why people use Mono unless you take the time to _properly_ understand what it is, how it works, and what it offers developers. Nobody thinks it’s the perfect tool for any scenario – take for example Hula, where Novell sponsored new development in Mono and then worked out it wasn’t suitable, whereupon they turned it into Python. That’s right, _Novell_.

  13. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 29, 2008 at 4:01 pm

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    Your latest article is just more of the same. The fact that you bring C++ into it is hilarious (hint: http://www.open-std.org/jtc1/sc22/wg21/docs/contacts ).

    It’s about the rights holder.

    Being able to run free software apps on Windows is not a bad thing, and encouraging Windows developers to use free software APIs rather than proprietary ones is an _excellent_ thing.

    Java? Python? PHP? C? Mono (and by association .NET) is not the only option.

  14. AlexH said,

    August 29, 2008 at 4:08 pm

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    Nice that you state “Mono [..] is not the only option” and then leave out the example I gave of Novell choosing something else instead of Mono.

    Of course it’s not the only option. But you’re never going to understand why people choose it because you don’t understand it.

  15. Jose_X said,

    August 29, 2008 at 11:16 pm

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    >> It’s simple: creating free software and bringing it to new users is good; full stop.

    Open source apps on Windows are to a large degree like open html on Internet explorer: worthlessly open. If you care about free apps, the goal should always be to move people off closed platforms. The lowest software layers cannot be closed in order to have an open app that is open besides in name.

    If you want to help people, push Linux distros with full custom app solutions on top to meet their needs instead of pushing Vista.

    WinFOSS helps keep/get Windows/Vista relevant.

    Novell fans invariably talk talk of how inevitable MSware is. You should be fighting OOXML, Vista, etc instead of saying how inevitable it is. Of course, Novell has an inside position to profit off these technologies so naturally they’d want competitors to go poof. In short, Novell wants what benefits Microsoft because Microsoft is paying the bills.

    It helps Microsoft to contribute to dotnet mindshare. If you care about people having openness, then give them protocols that are as different from the stuff found on Windows/Vista as possible as this makes it very costly and difficult for Microsoft to leverage those apps. Naturally, this would not be beneficial to Microsoft’s monopoly control, hence Novell won’t do that.

    Notice I have not mentioned anything about patents. As for patents, you are asking for trouble in court if you go sniffing around in an area where someone has specifically made many many claims. I’d say there is a significant risk here to noncommercial entities and users that want software that is no charge and without the heavy-handed patent encumberences. I think users really value the free stuff. They pay for specific solutions and other services, but always want to avoid lock-in and the restrictions.

  16. Jose_X said,

    August 29, 2008 at 11:29 pm

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    BTW, reread the story and comments here and it does seem like sarcasm.. which proves little. Much crap is introduced by softening it with humor. Mindshare and acceptance is what Microsoft is after.

    Bottom line is that there are legitimate problems with the approach Novell has taken, and they are going further and further. As long as the money keeps coming I expect little to change.

  17. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 30, 2008 at 3:05 am

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    The sarcasm had nothing to do with the presentation of actual information. I was particularly interested in Novell’s support of this.

  18. AlexH said,

    August 30, 2008 at 3:54 am

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    @all: (not that I expect anyone to take any notice)

    You can’t keep talking about “Novell’s approach” when this was a personal project that one programmer undertook as part of Hackweek.

  19. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 30, 2008 at 3:59 am

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    Whose idea was it to bring Tomboy to Windows?

  20. AlexH said,

    August 30, 2008 at 4:10 am

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    It was Sandy Armstrong’s idea:

    http://idea.opensuse.org/content/ideas/support-running-tomboy-on-windows-and-maybe-os-x

    You do understand what Hackweek actually is, yes?

  21. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 30, 2008 at 4:30 am

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    Yes, I do.

    http://www.daniweb.com/blogs/entry3043.html
    http://boycottnovell.com/2008/08/27/ports-to-windows-mac-os-x/

    http://identi.ca/sandy?page=2
    “Novell a11y/GNOME/Mono hacker.”

    http://www.mono-project.com/Accessibility:_Team

    I don’t know if he’s on Novell’s payroll or somebody else’s.

  22. Dan O'Brian said,

    August 30, 2008 at 5:54 am

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    It’s irrelevant who Sandy works for – if he is given freedom to hack on anything he wants for one week and he chooses to port Tomboy to Windows, then that is his prerogative, not Novell’s.

    Do you truly believe that FOSS being ported to Windows is bad? If so, does this include OpenOffice? Firefox? KDE4? Pidgin? GIMP? And a plethora of other FOSS software?

    Did you know the biggest user-base of a lot of this software is in Windows?

    How can you say you advocate FOSS when you dictate that users must take the full plunge or nothing? Isn’t that hypocritical?

    FOSS on Windows is an excellent way of attracting users to a full-FOSS system. They experiment here and there with FOSS on Windows, find they like it, then try some more and so on until they discover one day that most of the software they are using is FOSS. So they decide to try this Linux thing.

    Does it also enable some people to stay on Windows? Probably, yes, but so what? That’s their decision. In a world of freedom, you can’t dictate what they can and cannot do. You have to let them make their own decisions, all you can do is offer them a choice.

    If you start dictating what software they can and cannot run, what they can and cannot modify, then how is that any different from Microsoft’s world?

    You’re heading down the road of absolute hypocrisy and you don’t even realize it.

  23. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 30, 2008 at 6:07 am

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    It’s irrelevant who Sandy works for – if he is given freedom to hack on anything he wants for one week and he chooses to port Tomboy to Windows, then that is his prerogative, not Novell’s.

    You seem to know who he works for. Who does he work for?

    Do you truly believe that FOSS being ported to Windows is bad? If so, does this include OpenOffice? Firefox? KDE4? Pidgin? GIMP? And a plethora of other FOSS software?

    Nice attention-shifting and escape from the topic. (Clue: Mono)

    The rest of your comment relies on a wrong supposition and therefore attacks a straw man.

  24. Dan O'Brian said,

    August 30, 2008 at 6:29 am

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    Nice attention-shifting and escape from the topic. (Clue: Mono)

    The rest of your comment relies on a wrong supposition and therefore attacks a straw man.

    Nice dodging of the question I presented you with, Roy. If anyone is trying to escape the topic, it’s you.

    Jose_X – one of your regular supporters, moved the topic to FOSS applications being ported to Windows and your original article complains about Novell porting apps to Windows – it doesn’t matter that the particular application you cited was Mono-based.

    Besides, why do you care if Mono apps are ported to Windows? You ruthlessly attack Mono at every opportunity.

  25. Dan O'Brian said,

    August 30, 2008 at 6:32 am

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    FWIW, I don’t know who Sandy works for – but like I said, it’s irrelevant even if he does work for Novell. As stated above, assuming he works for Novell, if he is given absolute freedom to hack on anything he wants for one week and he chooses to port Tomboy (which afaict, he’s a maintainer of) to Windows, how is that Novell’s prerogative?

    Hint: it’s not, it’s Sandy’s.

  26. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 30, 2008 at 6:31 am

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    Nice dodging of the question I presented you with, Roy. If anyone is trying to escape the topic, it’s you.

    No, I’m not against porting to Windows and I never was. The original post was about .NET (see reference to Corel also).

    Besides, why do you care if Mono apps are ported to Windows? You ruthlessly attack Mono at every opportunity.

    Have you forgotten why Mono is different? You conveniently isolate these separate issues.

  27. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 30, 2008 at 6:35 am

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    Companies are made out of people. It’s not a big brain in a big jar making the decisions.

  28. Dan O'Brian said,

    August 30, 2008 at 6:35 am

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    Please explain why it’s so terrible for Mono applications to be ported to Windows.

  29. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 30, 2008 at 6:38 am

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    It’s the Microsoft API everywhere, which is being encouraged.

  30. Dan O'Brian said,

    August 30, 2008 at 6:43 am

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    Companies are made out of people. It’s not a big brain in a big jar making the decisions.

    Exactly, and this particular decision was made by 1 person who has no control over the direction of Novell.

  31. Dan O'Brian said,

    August 30, 2008 at 6:45 am

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    AlexH already addressed that myth.

    Besides, Microsoft Windows already has the core .NET APIs, so porting Tomboy to Windows is not changing anything in that respect.

    It is, however, pushing Free Software APIs onto Vista (which is what AlexH was pointing out).

  32. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 30, 2008 at 6:51 am

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    If you want Free software APIs in Vista, use something like Java. Microsoft strives to substitute Free software built using open frameworks with its own. It tries to hijack both world, so to speak. Novell and Miguel help it.

  33. AlexH said,

    August 30, 2008 at 7:29 am

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    You realise that java-gnome and Gtk# have the same API?

  34. Jose_X said,

    August 30, 2008 at 7:32 am

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    Dan and everyone else,

    >> If you start dictating what software they can and cannot run, what they can and cannot modify, then how is that any different from Microsoft’s world?
    >> You’re heading down the road of absolute hypocrisy and you don’t even realize it.

    There is no need to talk about forcing in this scenario. The day I become supreme leader of a country then maybe we’ll talk. Those that will work on ports will do so. I like to give out arguments against doing that just like you and others do the opposite and encourage it.

    >> FOSS on Windows is an excellent way of attracting users to a full-FOSS system. … Does it also enable some people to stay on Windows?

    In other words, it will encourage some and discourage others. I think it does a lot more harm than help.

    Market share matters:
    http://www.linuxtoday.com/news_story.php3?ltsn=2008-08-04-022-35-OS-0000
    http://www.linuxtoday.com/news_story.php3?ltsn=2008-08-04-022-35-OS-0002

    >> Did you know the biggest user-base of a lot of this software is in Windows?

    Exactly.

    Some FOSS app makers are jumping to support Microsoft’s platforms in order to grow their user base instead of thinking a bit more long term and uniting to improve the most important FOSS app (essentially, Linux) faster:
    http://www.linuxtoday.com/news_story.php3?ltsn=2008-08-19-019-35-OP-MS-SW-0004
    http://www.linuxtoday.com/news_story.php3?ltsn=2008-08-21-024-35-OP-DT-SW-0000

    My belief is that there are already plenty of FOSS apps on Windows (possibly too many, though if most of these are broken then that only counts partially and may help depending on the specific cases).

    If anyone wants to grow FOSS, there are other ways to do so that don’t help Windows monopoly nearly as much. LiveCDs+VMs are cheap and easy. They allow Linux app makers to focus on Linux to get more done quicker without short-changing Linux with special features and Windows specific hooks, without running a rat race under Microsoft’s control. It’s easy to change system connections underneath apps (even easier if the apps are FOSS). Microsoft uses the FOSS to buy time when that suits them and tears into them and sends them back to square one when that suits them.

    The key is to get people to use Linux, and that is done best when Linux offers as many cool things as possible that you can’t get or approach while on Windows. Linux needs help to help overcome inertia and the many obstacles Microsoft and partners lay down.

    And you can even think of the “eating own dog food” analogy if you want. If you want Linux to excel beyond all competition, stick with it. It will force you to improve it.

    >> They experiment here and there with FOSS on Windows, find they like it, then try some more and so on until they discover one day that most of the software they are using is FOSS. So they decide to try this Linux thing.

    I hope the case I am trying to present is getting through. If so, it should be clear that getting to this stage means that Linux advancement was already sacrificed and Windows was helped. But now what?

    People have been getting a taste of lots of FOSS apps and most now feel that Windows is more bearable. They don’t think, “gee, let me move to Linux to have basically nothing beyond what I needed, but instead have to deal with headaches of things that won’t port over to Linux” (eg, data and apps).

    There is a reason Microsoft is the MOST successful. And there is a reason they go through a LOT of trouble to have developers support their platforms while they will NOT port their growing portfolio of integrated apps outside of Windows.

    To fight quality integration you need to focus and have the help from the kernel and every other system on the platform. It’s a lost cause, a rat race, attempting this on Windows.

    Why would I change from Windows? If I want comfort (most users), it’s not worth the hassles if mostly everything cool is on Windows already (even if not perfectly). And if I buy into the FOSS thing, I don’t need Winports, a LiveCD will get the picture across just fine.

    I don’t want to appear aggressive, but I am not hearing good reasons. There are reasons why Novell and Novell employees are pursuing avenues that benefit Microsoft. It’s because they know who is buttering their bread.

    Roy, I’d like you to try and help the other posters defend Winports since you said you weren’t against them. I am not hearing these great reasons. I think it is hurting Linux adoption. People backing Winports are playing into Microsoft’s hands. The days of having to play on Microsoft’s home turf are over when the Linux distro came into its own. Support Linux is you want to break the monopolies. Support Winports if you want to help it hold fort.

  35. Jose_X said,

    August 30, 2008 at 7:42 am

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    Roy, I appeal to you to help these people out. Maybe I’ll start keeping track of which arguments have not be rebutted from either side so we can start to separate the myths from the half-theories from .. etc. If we need to gather more field data, then we can and would know for what to keep an eye out. .. I am talking about Winports (which include developer mindshare issues and the choice of architecture/protocols/formats since some are more or are less compatible with any given platform), and I am specifically not talking about keeping track of patent arguments (at least not for this particular tally).

    Here are two more links
    Control of the software stack at the OS layer is important. http://www.linuxtoday.com/news_story.php3?ltsn=2008-08-15-017-35-OP-OO-0004
    Microsoft prefers OOXML even if it can pervert ODF: http://boycottnovell.com/2008/07/31/politely-steal-from-linux/#comment-17623

  36. AlexH said,

    August 30, 2008 at 7:48 am

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    Jose_X,

    You seem to miss the point of porting apps. At the moment, OS is a barrier: the vast majority of people use Windows, and if something isn’t available on Windows they won’t use it.

    People use a variety of software, and even if 80% of it is available on a free OS they can’t switch unless there is something they can do with that remaining 20%. But right now, not even 80% of it is available – not even close.

    Applications don’t get written in a vacuum. Look at the most successful open source apps: Firefox, OpenOffice.org, Thunderbird, etc. They get a lot of users because they’re available on Windows. With a lot of users, the people writing them will continue to invest in them and improve them. As they improve, more people are using them and have fewer dependencies on proprietary desktops.

    The free desktop is absolutely key, but you have to be absolutely dreaming if you think people are going to move over from Windows in any numbers in its current state.

  37. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 30, 2008 at 7:54 am

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    I agree with AlexH on that last point. Many people migrate in stages, by initially migrating with applications/data, later on the platform.

  38. Jose_X said,

    August 30, 2008 at 8:11 am

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    >> Besides, Microsoft Windows already has the core .NET APIs, so porting Tomboy to Windows is not changing anything in that respect.

    Except to the extent it draws developers that would be working on other APIs.

    However, I (this is not Roy talking) have issues with Winports in general. The earlier replies (this is my 4th) covered that in more detail.

    Eg, firefox on Windows is valuable for fighting Microsoft webserver/webtool poisoning, but I still think Google (since they have the most to lose and already contributed hundreds of millions to Mozilla) should be pushing Linux+Firefox integration more and Winports less. This would mean they’d have to push Linux distros aggressively in order to make up some of the user base they could potentially lose over time if firefox stagnated. I can see why, until Linux distros get traction, Google would push winports out of fear, but this is why we all need to chip in and help Linux while sacrificing on the winport end for our own apps. This is much more true if you are a nonprofit and don’t have billions short-term on the line.

    Our apps need FOSS OS. A full FOSS app is composed of the following: half the app is the high level stuff we work on, and the other half is the plaform api to which we delegate a huge amount of important functionality (including very important implicit things like memory, process, file, and network handling). For every line of code we add to our app’s high level shell, we should consider chipping in 1/3 or more of a line to help Linux move forward and/or integrate. Working on custom LiveCDs that revolve around our featured app(s) is a great way to do this. I mentioned two examples of this in an earlier posting (AdobeLinux and Gimpix). Here is a third (Inkscapix): http://www.linuxtoday.com/news_story.php3?ltsn=2008-08-26-036-35-OS-OO-0001
    These distros would be superior to anything you could hope for on Windows and they would be self-contained. You call all the shots. A distro for your app is also superior to apt-get install on generic Linux installation since these are controlled and organized by others, and you have to live within the alloted space and restrictions.

    >> It is, however, pushing Free Software APIs onto Vista (which is what AlexH was pointing out).

    This benefit does not overcome all the negatives (again, I am against winports as well as pushing MS protocols).

    Developers’ time is a limited resource. There is an opportunity cost whenever anyone works on dotnet (eg, mono) or Windows ports. Some Windows-based developers have limited knowledge to these MS areas, but it’s a great opportunity to show them they can gain by using alternative interfaces, perhaps even when they get off work.

    There is also the limited resource that is called our brains. We can only hold so much shtt without kicking some of it out.

    If we work together we win. If we split and work against each other (meaning some work for Linux while others work for Microsoft) then FOSS is hurt and can then be overcome. People need to get their thoughts in order or stop dishonestly talking about the virtues of FOSS while you then advocate actions that hurt FOSS.

    Novell’s approach is “well, we have a great opportunity to milk closed source hooks here.” [Keep in mind Novell's history is deep within closed-source Netware.] “We also can afford to lean on the rest of the community and undo one step for every two the take forward.”

    This is called being a leech. Meanwhile, Red Hat helps us take those two steps forward.

  39. Jose_X said,

    August 30, 2008 at 8:14 am

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    >> I agree with AlexH on that last point. Many people migrate in stages, by initially migrating with applications/data, later on the platform.

    So I give all of these reasons, and then you return with a one liner?

    Who says you can’t have BOTH Windows and Linux and rotate among them. VMs make this close to painless.

    You should really try refuting the points I put because you have not. You simply say you disagree. Well, Novell disagrees with this entire site.. there.

  40. Jose_X said,

    August 30, 2008 at 8:36 am

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    Roy:

    If it wasn’t clear: I think the whole issue of keeping Vista/Windows useful to users or not is THE MAIN fight here. People looking at Linux, for the most part, are doing it because they see growth and an opportunity, but they would not be doing this nearly as much if Vista had been OK. Microsoft will keep getting opportunities to fix their mistake. Now, they even have Novell’s help and are not shunning FOSS nearly as much. They recognize the value TO THEMSELVES of having FOSS apps and FOSS devs ON THEIR PLATFORM.

    Again, what is wrong with users having both Windows and Linux? The idea at that point would be to have people spend more time in Linux mode (eg, in the Linux PC or Linux boot or Linux VM/native) so that their new data and their habits start shifting over.. and they never give up Windows where/when they need it. For this to work, Linux has to stand out. For this to work, Linux has to stand out. Being marginally better won’t cut it. Being marginally better won’t cut it.. because we have to move uphill against Microsoft (legal and illegal) entrenchment/obstacles. For the typical user, potentially considering Linux, initially, will have little to do with freedom, but almost all to do with convenience and empowerment (“it’s the apps, stupid”). The EEE sells not because it is an FSF product, but because it’s “neat” and “works”.

    Please refute the other replies and this one or else reconsider your stance. I really don’t want half the community supporting/encouraging important things that really help Microsoft keep their hold. Even Adobe is now seeing the value of porting *TO* Linux. Pay attention to Microsoft, and how they keep people on Windows and off Linux.

    If nothing else, at least say: “Hey, working to improve FOSS app integration with Linux is the best choice of all, and don’t I want to end monopoly-rule ASAP? Why yes, of course I do!”

    “Want to taste a good FOSS drawing program? Here, stick this disk in the machine, reset the computer (off followed by on) and enjoy the presentation/experience.”

    The LiveDVD distros will come with video-guided tours, effects, and demos, etc. There will be integration among apps to make using the distro easy and fun. Please read the 3 links provided: AdobeLinux, Gimpix, and Inkscapix for a bit more detailed flavor.

    There are plenty of opportunities to make money with Linux. Not everything has to be open source in all cases, but the OS is crucial. It’s easily the equivalent of half the app. You can’t complain about the odd closed-source device driver or 20 and then say that ports to Windows are fine. There is no such thing as FOSS on Windows because every app has to delegate over and over and over to closed source Windows routines in order to get its job done (and even when it is idling).

  41. Jose_X said,

    August 30, 2008 at 8:51 am

    Gravatar

    I may take a break today and/or this week-end, but I will get back to this thread.

    Really, nicely draw out the scenario of why you think or doubt that there can be a solution to getting people onto Linux except through Windows ports. We really need to look at this and see how Linux is failing that it must resort to running the Rat Race on Windows to hope to gain market share (and as suggested above, many of those that love firefox, don’t care or even know about Linux). Is there a time frame for when these migrations will happen? Are we under the assumption that Linux will remain with small market share for decades to come? Is the war against mono and patent poisoning solely to preserve our nice little island we call Linux?

    These are reasonable feelings. Am I correct.. somewhat? Don’t be ashamed. Talk about your friends if not about yourself ;-) . I want to get to the bottom of this.

    It is possible just to sit back and relax (well, except Roy.. Roy does not eat+sleep for more than 5 hrs per day) and let the distros be built, etc, and eventually it will happen (maybe Dell or Asus etc).

    I don’t care if people want to do this, but for those that are working.. maybe even hard, I’d hate it if the fruits of your labor were being diverted for Microsoft’s pleasure.

    I’m a reasonable person. Talk to me.

    I’ll be back.

  42. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 30, 2008 at 9:15 am

    Gravatar

    Thanks for the thoughts, with which I largely agree (except for the Windows port-xenophobic approach).

    Here is my view on things.

    I see GNU/Linux being adopted in various countries where cost is seen as important and where the authorities grasp the issues of lock-in and dependence. In such countries, Windows can only survive if Microsoft tolerates ‘piracy’ (which it typically does), but the issue of lock-in is not resolved this way.

    Many people whom I know that migrated to GNU/Linux didn’t do this overnight. They moved through applications like Firefox and ‘tools’ like Thunderbird, which ‘rescued’ their address book and E-mail from the .PST Beast known as Microsoft Outlook. If it were not for these applications, a migration would be harder to rationalise.

    In this Web site I try to encourage understanding of the value of freedom, which is why I refer not to “open source” and “Linux”. If we educate people, the knowledge will pass on. Another thing we ought to do is show people the truth about Microsoft. It’s hard to defeat multi-billion marketing budgets that glorify Gates as a successful American business dream and Microsoft as a sign of good engineering. **cough cough**

    People will move to GNU/Linux hopefully not just due to costs. There’s a mental challenge to address here. But to say that we should leave Windows and Mac users out in the cols without FOSS would not be productive, IMHO. They might turn to Freeware/Shareware, in which case we will be worse off because these applications have lock-ins and they are rarely cross-platform. Let’s ‘steal’ the top level (or layer) of the stack, then rely on developing counties, whose move to GNU/Linux will precede a similar move in the US, UK, and China.

    The market share of GNU/Linux is not as low as Microsoft would have you believe. It’s growing and it’s a lot higher than the press claims, but they want you to despair because of disinformation.

    “Ideally, use of the competing technology becomes associated with mental deficiency, as in, “he believes in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and OS/2.” Just keep rubbing it in, via the press, analysts, newsgroups, whatever. Make the complete failure of the competition’s technology part of the mythology of the computer industry. We want to place selection pressure on those companies and individuals that show a genetic weakness for competitors’ technologies, to make the industry increasingly resistant to such unhealthy strains, over time.”

    Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

  43. Jose_X said,

    August 30, 2008 at 9:36 am

    Gravatar

    Let me say this. People like convenience. If you ask around, most on Windows or Mac today using some FOSS will tell you they want more FOSS. [You do, for when you use Windows, don't you?] They are not valuing freedom, but rather free stuff that does something they like and comfort. It’s easy for them to ask for the world from devs. If it were up to users exclusively, the GPL would not exist because it would be irrelevant since “software people would just do what they do and make it open for my benefit.”

    In an ideal world, Monopolysoft does not exist. Computing history would have played out differently. Porting would be challenging, fun, and rewarding.

    Microsoft’s business goal is to keep as much of the free stuff around as necessary (and no more). Some developers (not exclusive to Novell, since they are just being developers looking out for toys) would have Linux or BSD on the side but deal with Windows for work.

    That scenario is unacceptable to me. I have never worked in industry by choice. All the issues and dangers and inconveniences (especially as a developer.. users would appreciate this a little less) on Windows come with the territory. It’s only to get worse to the extent Microsoft can neutralize/marginalize Linux.

    There is no “secret happy island for Linux” with Microsoft in charge except if you are willing to deal with (a) developers moving over to WinFOSS so that the Linux side stagnates and becomes like that toy box that you once used but no longer is useful “in the real world”; (b) continuing with increasing aggravations and limits during your main work time and play time, which would have to be on Windows; (c) deal with other types of aggravations and an intrusion by government and big business into our lives; (d) deal with an inability to get back to basics and build a great open controllable system because it would take too much work and most developers are running the Rat Race anyway because it’s “good enough” to fulfill their developing itches; etc.

    If you skipped them, now might be a good time to read the two links I posted earlier on the importance of having substantial Linux market share.

    On a case by case basis, it might be wise to partially port various apps to Windows; however, I remain unconvinced and would much rather people make a Linux distro that just kicks instead of wasting time on a rat race. Integrate with Linux like Microsoft integrates their closed apps with Windows.

  44. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 30, 2008 at 9:53 am

    Gravatar

    Yes, I agree. I also think that it would be harder for me and for others to convince people to migrate to GNU/Linux without these Mozilla applications. I a not talking about desktops like KDE; I’m talking about OOo and Mozilla applications primarily because they serve as decent substitutes/bridges to businesses which use GNU/Linux. For home users, another barrier is DirectX (I won’t say ‘gaming’). For that to be tackled, we need to kill the Microsoft API (DX) and maybe encourage legal action. If there is anything to learn from DirectX , it’s that Mono is the road to hell. This isn’t like Wine (I won’t even name Mainsoft), which is backward engineering rather than active development.

  45. Jose_X said,

    August 30, 2008 at 11:52 am

    Gravatar

    Roy, I know you have a busy schedule (who doesn’t, right?). Even if you don’t read all of what I am writing, maybe others will read some parts, etc. I don’t expect replies, but will take what I can get.

    [Update, I just read your last comment.. the ff/oo.o focus might be close to the ideal.. who knows? Also, I completely agree about wine. Their hurdle is not exactly a the rat race. Each app they port is fixed (not controlled by Microsoft). Their troubles, however, serve as testament that app makers for Windows can most surely be segregated and each be given different hooks into Windows. It's also an imperfect job, .. but at least they deal with fixed versions of apps since we aren't talking about continuity on Windows but about legacy porting.]

    >> In such countries, Windows can only survive if Microsoft tolerates ‘piracy’ (which it typically does), but the issue of lock-in is not resolved this way.

    I don’t disagree for the most part except that underdeveloped countries are not exactly a different strategy but a more extreme scenario of their normal strategy. The “only” you used could very well apply to every country. I tend to think it does.

    In other words, piracy is tolerated in all countries if necessary. At $1 per installation, Microsoft can do the same to a nascent industry in those countries as it has done in UK/US. As the country’s std of living rises, these licenses will rise proportionately as they did in UK/US. This sucks up from the economy. Windows is a tax that would be necessary before you got any work done, but it is optimized for maximum gain to Microsoft, not to the economy, the government tax chest, or the individual person/business.

    And Microsoft is always busily moving into other industries. The computing platform is simply the most valuable lever. They did it right by starting here, but there is an awful lot of direction in which they can go and are going if you look at Gates’ and friends’ moves.

    >> They moved through applications like Firefox and ‘tools’ like Thunderbird, which ‘rescued’ their address book and E-mail from the .PST Beast known as Microsoft Outlook. If it were not for these applications, a migration would be harder to rationalise.

    Maybe that was true in the past (the need for ports for these apps), but I think it continues to become less true. There are more spots today where competing platforms can reside and be accessed relatively easily. I mentioned this in the posts above.

    [See also "Linux helping hands" below.]

    >> In this Web site I try to encourage understanding of the value of freedom, which is why I refer not to “open source” and “Linux”. If we educate people, the knowledge will pass on. Another thing we ought to do is show people the truth about Microsoft. It’s hard to defeat multi-billion marketing budgets that glorify Gates as a successful American business dream and Microsoft as a sign of good engineering. **cough cough**

    I’m in agreement 100%.

    >> People will move to GNU/Linux hopefully not just due to costs.

    We all hope.

    Tell me costs and features aren’t more important to most people most of the time.

    I think I see where this might be going. You would wait say 30 years to spread the FOSS message to everyone? In other words, ..to have people value FOSS ideals over their closed-source conveniences on Windows+freebies. 30 years might not be enough to convert even 30% of the market. Microsoft is realistic. Let us too be realistic about human nature and attack the Linux market share challenge smartly.

    I think it could take more than 30 years if Linux remains marginalized and falls (or stays) behind in the free and/or quality race, and it plain old won’t happen if we fall too far behind [but there were too many variable to consider anyway so my crystal ball has hung while computing].

    I think first you show them that Linux can be good and better in important ways, then you help them understand the value in keeping a healthy community.

    The bottom line is quality. Afterwards, you can more easily argue that short-term quality with FOSS can be better and more long-lasting than short-term quality with closed source.

    Anything Linux has that Windows does not means we automatically win the quality tete-a-tete when those features are at stake. The strongest way to win is if the other side has no answer for something, at least not within the same league. We shoot ourselves in the foot by trying to do a good job porting [we waste time and "good enough" is a win for the incumbent].

    In a world just short of 1984, people might really value freedom, but they’d need to make sure that hoping at that point in time would be a reasonable goal. When enough things run on Windows and Linux has fallen far enough behind, you will not fix the situation. Instead government will actually smile and help Microsoft out, and “take over the role of watchman to make sure Microsoft doesn’t abuse (cough cough) their vast empire running our entire country’s infrastructure”. It will be too difficult to replace entrenched hardware and software running everything at some point in time if Linux doesn’t keep up (see also the last post I put up right before this one).

    [Good news is that Linux is doing well with devices and in many areas, but I want to take two steps forward and none backwards, instead of giving Microsoft time to come up with a response.]

    >> But to say that we should leave Windows and Mac users out in the cols without FOSS would not be productive, IMHO.

    What cold? No cold. It’s warm in here. Linux distros are (relatively) easy and free.

    As a practical matter, we need to get a network of “Linux helping hands” going so that users anywhere will be able to easily for $0, $5, $50, etc (depending) be able to get installation or troubleshooting help. The Linux ecosystem needs to get serious about spreading and getting organized (Ubuntu has done the most towards this end so far).

    There is no cold in free. All it takes is a friend (online or in person), and you will be kicking with Linux and happy you didn’t have to take 20 neverending “I’ll do it tomorrow, I promise” babyty steps with WinFOSS.

    Some make it and some don’t. Just because you took that path doesn’t mean it is the best path to take today. [Were VMs or Asus EEE, etc even around then?] At one point RMS had to code on top of UNIX and nonGNU systems, but ask him if he would do that today?

    See the last reply I posted as far as asking users what they want. You’ll get this answer a bunch of times: “the world!” But we must make trade-offs and always try to follow current best practices to gain faster.

    >> except for the Windows port-xenophobic approach

    Stallman was xenophobic for a long time.

    “What’s the beef with the GPL or that version 3 with those patent thingies? Don’t make such a big deal about patents. They aren’t even supported in the EU. blah blah….”

    [BTW, I am not offended. I take this sort of comment as a lapse in communication.]

    >> Let’s ‘steal’ the top level (or layer) of the stack, then rely on developing counties, whose move to GNU/Linux will precede a similar move in the US, UK, and China.

    That’s a very vague plan as far as the role the developing countries will play (I couldn’t tell what you meant). The OLPC and its setbacks also come to mind.

    See the KDE4 example below in terms of winning the top level/layers.

    Also, look at Sun (and I know they are smaller than all of FOSS, but not if we work against each other) how they lost to Microsoft the Java layer game, winning only after court a long battle (and it’s debatable what they won since they gave in to Microsoft in some areas). Actually, they lost or certainly might lose. On Microland, Sun’s Java is not dominant or won’t be eventually if Microsoft keeps getting help. MSdotnet is MSJava-II. MSJava-I lost, but MSdotnet arose in it’s place. Each of these are distinct from Java.

    Remember that Sun and others may side with Microsoft to a certain extent. Never take things for granted. Microsoft will always work to balance their (initial) opposition as much as possible. If we fight each other, then we are no longer formidable.

    Basically, as a Linux user/advocate(/dev/etc) I want a plan that I know helps Linux out without having to depend on Big Companies to pull through in third world countries or for Microsoft to implode. In other words, I want to know that I am doing my bit.

    Perhaps I should say now (again?) that I am not advocating 0% WinFOSS. You have to play it by context, but I do wonder if perhaps there isn’t a better way than winfoss virtually all of the time.

    [Here is another tool we have today and didn't before: youtube videos and tons of forums to motivate users to give Linux a taste should they get near it.. or to get adventuresome and actually try downloads from distrowatch or something else.]

    If firefox was shown on display and written about by bloggers, but you had to use Linux for it, I think more than just Roy would give it a try and try to make it work.

    Of course, in terms of motivational psychology, usually you want to give a really good sample of something but not too many. Perhaps Firefox is that free morsal. Perhaps we do want to keep Firefox hot but hold back on most other ports to concentrate on great Linux interaction/integration. [Update, I think this is what you just stated in your last reply.]

    >> The market share of GNU/Linux is not as low as Microsoft would have you believe. It’s growing and it’s a lot higher than the press claims, but they want you to despair because of disinformation.

    I am aware of all this, but this is not a guaranteed thing (IMO).

    I think we both agree then that market share is valuable.

    *****

    I see trouble if Linux FOSS developers start running the currently broken Vista/OOXML/etc rat race in sufficient numbers. Don’t count victory because Microsoft slipped on the wet floor with Vista attempts 1 and 2.

    “Windows/Vista” is a Microsoft protocol since not everything can be handled transparently across platforms even with higher layer Java. With Java coding, you will want platform specifics the minute you want to go beyond Java’s arsenal or you hate the performance, bugginess, etc. Maybe related apps/services must be done in a different language and be closer to the OS. Also the Java VM/API porters will be running the rat race.

    You can add more abstraction layers (the other guys here will agree that helps since they have stated that much), but you and (much more so) those porting the sub-platform are still at the mercy of Microsoft on their homefield. They easily cause API to degrade or not even be available forcing you to use the “new and improved” ones. It’s a rat race. Eventually, too, you find yourself dealing with so many layers that things are inefficient and quality may suffer. Microsoft, on their turf, can force you, not just to recode and redesign and redebug (and re-reverse-engineer), but to use their specific hooks (eg, Direct X) to be able to
    *approach* their apps in quality (at a given point in time). A quality Direct X substitute would require system level coding, and this can be intercepted by Microsoft. In short, you can’t bypass Microsoft’s Hook-du-Jour if you expect to be able to keep the apps working and running well.

    Eg, let’s say I add my KDE4 layers. Microsoft redesigns their API (a mandatory ongoing process for them). The API used by KDE4 will come to produce shtty results. Using the then recommended API will involve redesigns: lost time; compromises; some apps not working and bit rotting; still inferior performance because we’ll eventually find out that these were actually not the “new and improved” but the earlier buggy version; etc. This will be repeated ad infinitum and proportionately to Linux getting marginalized, the quality here will decay even faster. Keep in mind that we use open source. Microsoft knows what our design is like and what form key portions of the code. Oh, and let’s not forget that it becomes easier for Microsoft to study our code to help themselves the closer we get to Windows as we run the rat race.

    Perhaps in most cases, porting should be left to noob and current Windows-based devs with itches. Over time, I think they will find that the Linux devs are happier and under greater control, but this means the Linux devs should not waste much time on Windows or it becomes a problem for them and Linux.

    Novell’s hack challenge, if addressed to Windows-using devs, might actually lead more of them to realize the value of Linux over time. Of course, why push dotnet? I’d rather push what makes Linux stronger (since, by optimistic assumption, soon enough this is the platform were devs will have the most control and capabilities).

    In short, the code is open and is out there, but those that value Linux and FOSS should focus on Linux and FOSS. It’s a tough battle and Microsoft will always find ways to get devs to code for free for their platform. Windows dev that are Linux noobs will always help Winfoss to an extent. The net losses to Linux (no pun intended) can be minimized if those that like Linux/FOSS stick to Linux/FOSS.

    I am glad you have replied. I appreciate it. It’s easier to address you specifically this way.

    Also, Google has needs to have Firefox be successful on Windows for now and they have money so they will take care of that end. I just hope they realize that Linux is much closer to their future, if they expect to have one.

  46. Jose_X said,

    August 30, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    Gravatar

    I am too wordy. Not sure exactly where we disagree or how much these cases matter.

    I drove libervisco a little crazy at times by writing and writing on his forum when he was doing the gamefest.

    There are so many different views on this topic. I just think that fundamentally we take fewest risks in wasting effort if we focus on Linux. People will not ignore something that really stands out and keeps getting better faster than what they have. I do think that if you build it and it stands out clearly they will come. For different people at different times, Microsoft will then become legacy. The people will use the legacy as necessary, but won’t invest extra in it. This is the goal I think, since it will defund the monopolies without pushing anyone to do anything for which they aren’t ready.

  47. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 30, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Gravatar

    Yes, I agree and I wish to reply lengthily. I usually reply when there is something I disagree with. Else, it means I fully concur.

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