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What would it take for you to switch to Linux?
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stupkid
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JohnnyBoy wrote:
The only glimmer of hope occurs when a wealthy believer in open source (like Mark Shuttleworth) bankrolls a set of developers to create something that's complete and coherent (like the Ubuntu distro). But we're back to the original problem faced by buyers of proprietary software: we're dependent upon someone else.


It is not really the same situation as going with a completely closed source company, because anyone with the desire and time can carry on with the GPL code that those developers created. The bottom line is that someone, somewhere, somehow, has to write, test, and distribute the code. That is not going to change. The difference in giving money to an OpenSource company or the Free Software Foundation is that the released code can be carried on even if the author decides to make it closed source afterwards. This tends to make a pool of code that is constantly improving. With such a model it is hard to imagine how it can fail.

More and more companies are adopting Linux on the server side for vast deployments. Like my employer, Citigroup for example, is using quite a bit of RedHat Linux, because it makes financial sense. Do we have lots of other closed source companies that we use, absolutely. Just about every company but Apple has some kind of presence. Those closed source vendors feel the push to Open Source though. It is why you have seen Sun open the code to Solaris, then Java, and IBM embrace and integrate Linux into AIX. On the server side Open Source is huge and it looks like that trend will continue in the near future.

In the embedded space the same is true more and more devices are running Linux. Now most of those aren't in the US, but that has to do with the odd proprietary nature of the US telco market. Linux is growing quite handily in the embedded space and I am excited about what might result from projects like OpenMoko, which will be releasing their consumer device later this year.

The vector we are looking at in this forum thread is at desktop operating systems. Which is quite a different beast. Desktop Linux has a tough time satisfying what users expect from a desktop OS experience. While I think there are going to continue to be improvements in all areas of desktop Linux, I'm not sure if it will ever get critical mass to overtake the other OS's before the desktop looses relevance.

"I'll use Linux when I can install MS SQL server, admin it from the MMC, and work just like on Windows" are the kinds of things I've heard before from people trying Linux. This is simply an unrealistic expectation for any alternate OS. When I hear such comments I cannot help but think the translation is, "I am only interested in one operating system, thanks". It is akin to saying I'll drive another car if it looks just like a BMW, handles like a BMW, smells like a BMW, and has the same cool logo as a BMW. Not exactly open to new experiences.

Anyway, I've gone on long enough. I think it comes down to a different perspective on things. I can like Strawberries, you can like Melons, and someone else can like Lemons, and it is all good. Wink
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JohnnyBoy
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 6:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

stupkid wrote:
It is not really the same situation as going with a completely closed source company, because anyone with the desire and time can carry on with the GPL code that those developers created.

Absolutely true, Stupkid. In theory, anyone can; but as I said in my last post, practically speaking, I don't have the time or the skill to do so. This only leaves me with an open-source option made up of other people's idea of the software that users need.

stupkid wrote:
"I'll use Linux when I can install MS SQL server, admin it from the MMC, and work just like on Windows" are the kinds of things I've heard before from people trying Linux. This is simply an unrealistic expectation for any alternate OS. When I hear such comments I cannot help but think the translation is, "I am only interested in one operating system, thanks". It is akin to saying I'll drive another car if it looks just like a BMW, handles like a BMW, smells like a BMW, and has the same cool logo as a BMW. Not exactly open to new experiences.

No, I can't agree here. From time immemorial, people have been used to doing a deal that goes something like this: "I'll give you the cash that you want if you'll give me the goods that I want". Capitalism's "Darwinian" nature has forced people to learn more, innovate further and try harder to come up with the products that will part customers from their money. But there's a fundamental reason why this isn't happening within open-source development; it's not capitalist. Yes, it's zero-priced but as the old saying goes, "You get what you pay for". The open-source movement isn't producing anything like a BMW because the vast majority of developers seem content to re-invent the Geo Metro every few months. I'm not criticising those guys - it's just that my work needs a 'BMW'-type app.

Other reasons why open-source software never seems to innovate are given in this excellent piece by Jaron Lanier (an old buddy of Richard Stallman's): "Long live closed source software!"
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stupkid
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Open source is a way of releasing software and adding value to your customer. It is moving from a product model to a service based model. It has nothing against capitalism it just a different model. If folks want an app to do X there is nothing preventing them from paying someone to write it.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

stupkid wrote:
If folks want an app to do X there is nothing preventing them from paying someone to write it.

Exactly, Stupkid! So the moral of the story is that to acquire the software that you want, you've got to pay for it. But if you're not prepared to pay, then you have to put up with the software that other people want.
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hackersmovie
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 6:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JohnnyBoy wrote:
stupkid wrote:
If folks want an app to do X there is nothing preventing them from paying someone to write it.

Exactly, Stupkid! So the moral of the story is that to acquire the software that you want, you've got to pay for it. But if you're not prepared to pay, then you have to put up with the software that other people want.

Exactly! And I'm to the point where I'm willing to learn Terminal commands, to get things working in Ubuntu, just so I don't/won't pay for anything. (other than the equipment of course, anyone know where I can get a free Mac? Laughing )
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ghostdawg
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 5:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JohnnyBoy wrote:
stupkid wrote:
If folks want an app to do X there is nothing preventing them from paying someone to write it.

Exactly, Stupkid! So the moral of the story is that to acquire the software that you want, you've got to pay for it. But if you're not prepared to pay, then you have to put up with the software that other people want.

I'm not quite understanding what you mean by paying! You pay for apps using Mac computers...and there are commercial apps for linux also.
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Fox
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 6:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JohnnyBoy wrote:

..Capitalism's "Darwinian" nature has forced people to learn more, innovate further and try harder to come up with the products that will part customers from their money. But there's a fundamental reason why this isn't happening within open-source development; it's not capitalist. Yes, it's zero-priced but as the old saying goes, "You get what you pay for". The open-source movement isn't producing anything like a BMW because the vast majority of developers seem content to re-invent the Geo Metro every few months. ..

Other reasons why open-source software never seems to innovate are given in this excellent piece by Jaron Lanier (an old buddy of Richard Stallman's): "Long live closed source software!"

Interesting article, and I can see a lot of truth in it. Like the author, I wouldn't conclude that either open or closed-source is the ideal solution. The two of them combined can provide more choice and better products.

Case in point for me. The reason I'm trying to get Linux running on an "old world" G3 beige PowerPC is because that machine has a permanent place in my operation; its serial port allows me to run a certain type of measuring device with software that inputs the measurement electronically into a spreadsheet. But the Beige doesn't take an AirPort extreme card; nor is there any wifi option for it that I know of that runs on OS 9 AND works with WPA2 security (necessary to connect wirelessly in my university). There is a wifi card that will work in the Beige with OS X, but this machine is too underpowered to run OS X cleanly. Also, I have a PCI-connected wifi card that works with WPA2, but not on a Mac. The solution to me is to put Linux on it because while the Linux community may not be as innovative as Apple, they have made open source drivers that work with this and many other wifi cards.

Will this work? I still don't know but I'm making progress. The first attempt to install Ubuntu Gutsy on it was a bust - I never got it through the booting sequence to get to the first installer question. So I downloaded the alternate CD. This worked and it "saw" the card, although I can't test whether it will work or not until I have the installation completed. Unfortunately, it encountered an error on one of the base files on the CD and stopped the installation. So my next step is to download the software again, burn it to the CD again, start the installation and this time test the CD before going through the process. Wish me luck!

And yes, if time is money, this is one of the stupidest things I've ever done. But this does for me what playing computer games does for a lot of other people; a hobby of sorts.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ghostdawg wrote:
You pay for apps using Mac computers...and there are commercial apps for linux also.

Indeed, Ghostdawg. It seems that if an app is needed or liked by a developer, then he or she is happy to volunteer to contribute to the coding. But if not, then you've gotta pay 'em!

Could it be that non-profit projects are the ideal tasks for the open-source community? The UK goverment has put aside something like £6.4 billion to commission a nationwide computer system for our National Health Service (There's already controversy after some of the computer experts doing consultation work for the project have left the job, saying that mistakes are already being made by the civil service while they're at the planning stage). Is this the kind of project that would be ideal for open source, that countries around the world could contribute to and benefit from?

Fox wrote:
The solution to me is to put Linux on it because while the Linux community may not be as innovative as Apple, they have made open source drivers that work with this and many other wifi cards.

It seems that when presented with a clear goal (e.g. 'Make a copy of MS Office', 'Make a web browser based on Netscape', 'Write a device driver for a particular peripheral'), the open source community can organise itself and make progress. Perhaps it's the lack of a singular vision that prevents those same people from producing an innovative product - in other words, they don't have Steve Jobs screaming at them! Smile
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 11:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fox wrote:
I'm trying to get Linux running on an "old world" G3 beige PowerPC . . . The first attempt to install Ubuntu Gutsy on it was a bust


I might suggest running Feisty Fawn 7.04, it was the last known distro to officially support PPC. I have it running on an iMac G3, works great! It's still available for download on Ubuntu's site. . . I did try Gusty, it never installed correctly . . .
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hackersmovie
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JohnnyBoy wrote:
It seems that when presented with a clear goal (e.g. 'Make a copy of MS Office', 'Make a web browser based on Netscape', 'Write a device driver for a particular peripheral'), the open source community can organise itself and make progress. Perhaps it's the lack of a singular vision that prevents those same people from producing an innovative product - in other words, they don't have Steve Jobs screaming at them! Smile


I don't know that I could agree 100%. There are some very nicely written apps in Linux that show a "singular vision". One that comes to mind is xmms, it is a internet radio streamer, it works just as good if not better than "radio" in iTunes, and is very customizable, cleary an example of a single developer that wanted a solution to a problem, wrote it, and distributes it freely . . . And as far as Ubuntu is concerned, when it comes to running their OS on Apple machines, they have an entire development team just to make it compatible.

I guess one other thing we have to keep in mind here is this:

With Linux in general, they are and will always be playing "catch up" on the hard ware side, they don't make hardware, therefore they have to write code based on what's out there, if they were to ever partner with a hardware manufacturer things could change, as is the case with gOS, and why it's now available in the U.S. at retail stores. . . .
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stupkid
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JohnnyBoy wrote:
Perhaps it's the lack of a singular vision that prevents those same people from producing an innovative product - in other words, they don't have Steve Jobs screaming at them! Smile


Now that I can understand and agree with in some cases, but that has nothing to do with Open Source licensing. There are development methods, different licenses, and different business models, etc. There are GPL'd projects that have these kinds of development models. Take a look at mplayer or the Linux kernel, they don't just take any ones submissions that can compile. I guess that is my confusion with the Lanier article. He is making assumptions about "Open Source" that have absolutely nothing to do with the licensing and everything to do with the "bazaar" versus the "cathedral" development models. For me I prefer increased access to information (like the source), others don't. That is fine, but I can't agree that it is wrong or inferior.

There are innovative Open Source projects. The problem is that they take longer to get to completed, because they are run by volunteers. Even though they start before the closed source versions do, but the closed version gets to market earlier because no one is funding (in $$ or man hours) the open project. The reason for that is often that most folks don't understand how great a new idea is until there are other similar projects or the project has reached critical mass.

Really how can you complain about things that volunteers do? Its like complaining that Mother Teresa's food service would only get 3 stars or something. If you can do better or have ideas for improvement then contribute. If you don't care enough to contribute, then why complain?

EDIT:
Here are a few recent OpenMoko projects that seemed innovative to me:

-A app that uses your GPS location to determine different preferences. Such as, it notices that you are at the grocery store location so it opens the grocery store shopping list in the tasks app. It notices you are at work so it opens a note taking application, your calendar, and your work todos. etc.

- A cheapest cost phone dialer which determines what method it can use to get in touch with the contact you designate. It would check for Wifi+VOIP , using the cell network is cheaper, or if there is some other method that is the cheapest way to call.

Another project that is pretty different is Sugar from the OLPC:

http://www.ivr-usability.com/olpc/olpc.html
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

stupkid wrote:
Really how can you complain about things that volunteers do? Its like complaining that Mother Teresa's food service would only get 3 stars or something. If you can do better or have ideas for improvement then contribute. If you don't care enough to contribute, then why complain?

Ahh stupkid, you misunderstand my motivations. I'm not trying to complain about open source - I love the idea of open source. Like I said earlier in the thread, open source means that the computer is programmed to advance the customer's business plan, closed source means that the machine is programmed to advance the software company's business plan.

So this provokes the question at the beginning of the thread: "Why haven't we all switched?". If we all agree that there is a compelling ethical case for dumping proprietary software and re-directing our money to those devoted open source guys, then why are we all still using OS X? If we're all a bit narked that we have to wait for Apple's schedule before we can upgrade our hardware, then why do we dutifully wait? I would genuinely love to know the answer, and this is what I wanted the thread to help me understand.

I now think that there are a number of factors, and many of the posts here have helped to unearth them.

At the root of this, is the complexity of the modern computer. Back in the 80s, millions of people sat with an 8-bit machine and a beginner's guide to programming and taught themselves to program. After just 2 or 3 weeks of learning, many could make rudimentary games or simple calculation programs. Some people sold their programs and made good money.

But this scenario doesn't happen anymore. Nobody can learn OS X programming in a few days or dabble in Linux coding, because the systems are so much more complex. This seems to be lost on the open source guys; their triumphant claims that a guy like me can see the source code if I want feels just like the farmer up the road telling me that I can borrow his combine harvester if I want. "Uhhh........thanks Confused "

In the 21st century, programming is a specialisation that I don't have the time or money to learn - yes it would be a nice hobby, but it isn't a high priority for a guy like me. So whilst I could write my own programs, it isn't likely to happen. So I'm dependent upon others to design and code the programs that run on my computer.

So here's my 2 pence on why I haven't switched to Linux: the advantage of charging money for software is that it motivates the developer to find out what customers want or risk going out of business. And I think that this tips the scales in favour of the proprietary, closed source guys. 4 times out of 5, they'll have the product that I want with the features that I want, and I'll be happy to pay for that.

I realise that this won't apply to the server admins or the embedded systems guys, but then I've only got a desktop machine to worry about.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 5:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

At Home: I have one Mac running Mac OS X. All my other machines run Linux.

At work: Windows on the desktop and my particular group runs Solaris, AIX, and Linux on our servers.

So, I'm not a good person for your question since I switched to primarily Linux a long time ago. I like Mac OS a lot, but there is no way I could have it as the only OS in my home. There are just too many cool things I do with Linux that I would have a hard time living without. Windows, well I would rather hack Wine to get a game running or do without, than have Windows.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 5:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hackersmovie wrote:
Fox wrote:
I'm trying to get Linux running on an "old world" G3 beige PowerPC . . . The first attempt to install Ubuntu Gutsy on it was a bust

I might suggest running Feisty Fawn 7.04, it was the last known distro to officially support PPC. I have it running on an iMac G3, works great! It's still available for download on Ubuntu's site. . . I did try Gusty, it never installed correctly . . .

Do you recall what went wrong? I haven't given up on Gutsy yet, but I haven't succeeded yet either. I spent about an hour cleaning up the mess the Ubuntu installer made of my HD - when I had to abandon the installation, I couldn't start in OS 9 anymore even though I didn't touch that volume with the Ubuntu formatter. I had to reformat the drive, and this involved removal from the Tower (I have no more room for extra drives in it.) Meanwhile I downloaded the alternate CD again (this time Kubuntu 7.10 PPC). I ran an md5 on the Mac to check the iso, and the numbers matched. But I don't know if this means there will be no errors this time on the install disk. At any rate, I will wait until Monday when my IT colleague is around in case I get into trouble again. I know that even if the install is successful, there's some trick to getting it to boot into the Linux HD partition rather than the CD and it would be good to have my colleague there when I'm dealing with that. Even if all this works, I still have to make the PCI wireless card talk to our university system. If I can't do that, it was fun but for naught.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 6:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

stupkid wrote:
So, I'm not a good person for your question since I switched to primarily Linux a long time ago. I like Mac OS a lot, but there is no way I could have it as the only OS in my home. There are just too many cool things I do with Linux that I would have a hard time living without. Windows, well I would rather hack Wine to get a game running or do without, than have Windows.

I hear you, Stupkid. Like I say, I love the idea of switching to Linux, but my work would grind to a halt if I did... Smile
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