Evoken

OpenSource Software

61 posts in this topic

Many interesting comments in the thread! Unfortunately I have not been as active as I would like, have been quite busy as of late.

For the most part, the Open Source community does nothing except copy and tweak things that commercial companies invented and made successful.

I agree with this sentiment and is one of the main issues I have with Linux and OS apps. Look at the Linux distros, they are just a slightly tweaked Microsoft Windows, they even have the same taskbar with start menu and all. Look at OpenOffice, it has the same icons and even in the same order as Office 2003. For another example look at Pixel32, a Photoshop rip off.

Yet, despite this, OS advocates criticize commercial software claiming that it stagnates innovation. Hypocritical when they shamelessly copy the very software they criticize.

Evo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Evoken, I think you may actually be referring more to the idea of "free" software, coined by Richard Stallman, than open source. "Free" software is explicitly collectivist and anti-capitalist.

GNU philosophy - "The enemy is proprietary software."

Ah, I guess so yes. I think it can get confusing between Open Source and Free Software. Thanks for the link.

Evo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've tried out U/K/Xubuntu and Solaris 10. It's an absurd exaggeration to say that it is a communist philosophy. Who cares what Stallman thinks? Linus used GPL v2 out of pure utilitarianism - he doesn't care for v3.

Is it appropriate for the desktop? No, but it's great for rolling custom solutions and sticking software in odd places (like pen drives and robots).

The problem is that Linux is difficult to monetize, so it has generally low-quality software with little codec support. Firefox found a way to make money, hence why it's a household name, but it's an exception.

Commercial and open source software will most likely always occupy their own niches.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
An interesting side note, this forum is powered by at least one open source technology, PHP. And I'm guessing it also uses MySQL, an open source database.

PHP is definitely not an open source technology, although Free Software Foundation claims it so. PHP is simply a programming (scripting) language, nothing more; and it is maintained by a consortium (PHP Group) which is the one that maintains the standards. ASP, PHP's direct competitor, is in no way a more "closed source"; the two are languages, both developed by authority groups backing them up. Indeed it would be ridiculous to think of PHP as actually open source, as then no two programs would work together unless by a miracle.

MySQL is likewise not any more "open source", though it has a free version and publishes its source-code online. The program is created by the firm "MySQL AB", and its source-code is owned by that company with exclusivity that is intolerable to the open-sourcers. Let's not make a mistake by associating free versions, or public source code, with open source ideology, which proclaims that ownership is bad and best programs are made by millions of disinterested little programmers worldwide. To its proponents who point at the success of Unix/Linux, I will point to the fact that Microsoft in 7 years, with a far smaller programmer base, has created what it took Unix to accomplish in more than 30.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
To its proponents who point at the success of Unix/Linux, I will point to the fact that Microsoft in 7 years, with a far smaller programmer base, has created what it took Unix to accomplish in more than 30.

First, I think that's a gross oversimplification. Second, UNIX is not "open source"--*Linux* is an open-source clone of the commercially-developed UNIX. Third, the Mac is based on UNIX, and for a damn good reason: it's a technically superior OS. Fourth, modern Windows OS's have evolved to become more and more like UNIX--what UNIX did in the 70's Windows added to Windows in the 90's. Fifth, I program on both platforms, and just as an anecdotal point, really hate it when I'm stuck programming in Windows. Usually I write it in Linux first, then I get it to run on Windows.

None of these points are intended to be in favor of Open Source which in terms of its intellectual roots, I abhor.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Usually I write it in Linux first, then I get it to run on Windows.

Any experience with wxWidgets and the associated inexpensive Anthemion tools for the toolkit?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Any experience with wxWidgets and the associated inexpensive Anthemion tools for the toolkit?

I started out trying to use wxWidgets to abstract the two platforms but ended up having to hack a lot, so I ended up using raw OpenGL to abstract between platforms and writing my own widgets from scratch instead.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
PHP is definitely not an open source technology, although Free Software Foundation claims it so. PHP is simply a programming (scripting) language, nothing more; and it is maintained by a consortium (PHP Group) which is the one that maintains the standards. ASP, PHP's direct competitor, is in no way a more "closed source"; the two are languages, both developed by authority groups backing them up.

While you are technically correct, the reality is that the PHP Group releases PHP exclusively under an open-source license, and no other PHP implementations exist. Unless you wish to develop your own PHP implementation from scratch, you are stuck with an open-source runtime. Likewise for the closed-source ASP.

MySQL is likewise not any more "open source", though it has a free version and publishes its source-code online.

MySQL on the other hand, is released under a dual-source license, so it's both open-source and closed source depending on whether you want a support contract from the parent company or not. MySQL is released under the GPL, so it's as open-source as you get. Being the sole licensor, MySQL Ab may change the license for future versions, but they can never revoke the license for previous releases.

To its proponents who point at the success of Unix/Linux, I will point to the fact that Microsoft in 7 years, with a far smaller programmer base, has created what it took Unix to accomplish in more than 30.

This forum actually runs on MySQL, PHP, Apache, and Linux (the former two, at least, being undeniably and quintessentially open-source), and it does so fairly well, so I think you have to admit that there are some benefits to its development/licensing methodology.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The problem is that Linux is difficult to monetize, so it has generally low-quality software with little codec support. Firefox found a way to make money, hence why it's a household name, but it's an exception.

I have to disagree with you there. Apache/*nix dominates the server market, so it's clearly successful. IBM, Solaris, RedHat,Google, are all multi-billion dollar companies with major investments in open-source software, so Linux can clearly be monetized in some circumstances.

Firefox development is actually supported by Google. Google directly employs a number of key Firefox developers and pays Mozilla Corp. $80+ million yearly because Google is the default search engine in Firefox. It's not so much that Mozilla Corp monetized Firefox, as that Google found an open-source project that it thought would be a profitable long-term investment.

Commercial and open source software will most likely always occupy their own niches.

Exactly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
To its proponents who point at the success of Unix/Linux, I will point to the fact that Microsoft in 7 years, with a far smaller programmer base, has created what it took Unix to accomplish in more than 30.

First, I think that's a gross oversimplification. Second, UNIX is not "open source"--*Linux* is an open-source clone of the commercially-developed UNIX. Third, the Mac is based on UNIX, and for a damn good reason: it's a technically superior OS. Fourth, modern Windows OS's have evolved to become more and more like UNIX--what UNIX did in the 70's Windows added to Windows in the 90's. Fifth, I program on both platforms, and just as an anecdotal point, really hate it when I'm stuck programming in Windows. Usually I write it in Linux first, then I get it to run on Windows.

Berkeley Unix was 'open source' before there was a linux. Sun workstations were based on it beginning in the 1980s when networked graphics workstations were beginning to become popular, and they use to parry questions about lack of functionality on their workstation networks by saying the big advantage was that you could write whatever you wanted to change it! (I don't know what they are doing now.)

Windows NT (now XP, Vista, etc.) was based more on Digital Equipment Corparation's VMS (for VAXs beginning in the 1980s), not unix. In 1988 usoft hired an OS expert who had helped develop VMS to begin designing NT. Another influence was the network OS developed by Apollo in the late 1980s, which was technically superior to graphics workstations using unix at the time, like Sun. It of course took much less time to develop windows NT than the entire evolution of unix because by then they knew how to do it and what they were aiming at. That was also why VMS was superior in many ways to unix at the time. But a lot of windows programming that now exists did not then exist on either VMS or unix, which were an earlier stage of the evolution.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Berkeley Unix was 'open source' before there was a linux. Sun workstations were based on it beginning in the 1980s when networked graphics workstations were beginning to become popular, and they use to parry questions about lack of functionality on their workstation networks by saying the big advantage was that you could write whatever you wanted to change it! (I don't know what they are doing now.)

From http://www.faqs.org/docs/artu/ch02s01.html:

"Unix was born in 1969 out of the mind of a computer scientist at Bell Laboratories, Ken Thompson. "

Is this intended to imply that there was no Berkeley unix with open source and that Sun was not using it and advertising the access to the source code? There have been many versions of unix.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
To its proponents who point at the success of Unix/Linux, I will point to the fact that Microsoft in 7 years, with a far smaller programmer base, has created what it took Unix to accomplish in more than 30.

First, I think that's a gross oversimplification. Second, UNIX is not "open source"--*Linux* is an open-source clone of the commercially-developed UNIX. Third, the Mac is based on UNIX, and for a damn good reason: it's a technically superior OS. Fourth, modern Windows OS's have evolved to become more and more like UNIX--what UNIX did in the 70's Windows added to Windows in the 90's. Fifth, I program on both platforms, and just as an anecdotal point, really hate it when I'm stuck programming in Windows. Usually I write it in Linux first, then I get it to run on Windows.

None of these points are intended to be in favor of Open Source which in terms of its intellectual roots, I abhor.

BSD Unix, as ewv said, was open source, and that's historically been by far the most dominant distribution. Mac OSX is based on Unix not because of Unix's inherent virtues, but because they couldn't build anything better. Microsoft could, and did. Of course you may point to Unix in the '70s and Windows in the '90s, except you don't consider that Windows was just started in development then! I point you not to the pedigree of the two respective systems, but their rate of accomplishment. I repeat, and ask you to challenge, my statement that Microsoft in a fraction of a time, and with a fraction of the programmer base, has created more than Unix or Linux have created in thirty years, with millions of programmers worldwide. That is the nature of the difference between 'open source' and 'closed source'. One is productive, the other is not. OpenOffice is another case in point of a suite developed by a dedicated company of programmers (and released in the end for free); without that team working thus altruistically, the "open source" community couldn't write OpenOffice any faster than a million monkeys could type Atlas Shrugged.

Ouch, that was a little harsh, I admit :lol: But personally I don't have a grudge against open source software, it has a use, some people may find free but convoluted programs to be useful, tinkering with the code has definite advantages for people learning programming, etc. I do have a grudge against ideology that is behind many of the open source projects, trying to portray itself as dynamic and creative, whereas in truth it is slovenly and elitist: "Who cares that this program is ridiculously hard to use; let the people rise to our standard or perish".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

evw: My point was that UNIX is a commercial creation not that of Open Source. If someone cloned Windows and made it Open Source, then I wouldn't call Windows Open Source. Likewise I don't call UNIX Open Source.

Free Capitalist: I totally disagree with you. There is so much wrong in what you say I don't know where to start. For one thing, to regard all the differen't flavors of UNIX as if they were a single product and then claiming they've spent 30 years and done little is patently absurd. And it's patently absurd to point to the total man-hours spent on all UNIX implementations and compare that to Windows. And by what standard are you claiming that Windows is better than UNIX? And claiming Apple couldn't build anything better? What in the heck! They came out with "Windows" before Microsoft did! And by what standard do you claim that OSX is worse than Windows? It's good enough to run a full range of apps, and it's good enough to run on the new iPhone. Microsoft couldn't touch that with their behemoth operating systems, they have to write an entirely new OS (WindowsCE) to make it work embedded.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ewv: My point was that UNIX is a commercial creation not that of Open Source. If someone cloned Windows and made it Open Source, then I wouldn't call Windows Open Source. Likewise I don't call UNIX Open Source.

Actually it wasn't a commercial creation either, in the sense of a commercial product, nor was

Berkeley unix a 'clone'.

Unix was first developed at the ATT Bell Labs as an informal project in support of other programming projects. When it gained in popularity in and outside of Bell Labs it was licensed (from Version 7) to Berkeley where it was modified and enhanced as open source, leading to one of the major 'competing' branches of unix. I don't know if Bell Labs was paid significantly for the Berkeley license, but unix was not developed as a commercial product (even though it was in a private company, so the developers were paid except for all the "overtime" when they got carried away :lol: ) and was deliberately turned over to open source -- even though ATT continued to develop it and eventually turned it into a commercial product (System III and V). The source code had also been open before that, available on-line, but there is no question that at least one major version of unix was in fact "open source", before linux, and not developed as a commercial, proprietary product.

Here are a couple of quotes indicating the complexity of this interesting history:

First, the Unix system has become very popular, and there are a number of versions in wide use. For example, the 7th edition comes from the original source of the UNIX system, the Computing Science Research Center at Bell Labs. System III and System V are the official Bell Labs-supported versions. The University of California at Berkeley distributes systems derived from the 7th Edition, usually known as UCB 4.xBSD. In addition, there are numerous variants, particularly on small computers, that are derived from the 7th Edition. --Kernighan and Pike, The Unix Programming Environment, 1984 (Copyright by Bell Telephone Laboratories, Inc.)
Unix is unique in that it wasn't designed as a commercial operating system meant to run application programs. In fact, and early release of the operating system went by the name PWB (Programmer's Work Bench).

When Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie first wrote UNIX at AT&T Bell Labs, it was for their own use, and for their friends and co-workers. Utility programs were added by various people as they had problems to solve. Because Bell Labs wasn't in the computer business, source code was given out to universities for a nominal fee. Brilliant researchers wrote their own software and added it to UNIX in a spree of creative anarchy that hasn't been equalled since, except perhaps in the introduction of the X Window System.

Unlike most other operating systems, where free software remains an unsupported add-on, UNIX has taken as its own the work of thousands of independent programmers. During the commercialization of UNIX within the past ten years, this incorporation of outside software has slowed down, but not stopped entirely, especially in the university environment. -- Peek, et al, Unix Power Tools, O'Reilly, 1993, 2nd ed 1997.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Actually it wasn't a commercial creation either, in the sense of a commercial product ...

I don't agree with your definitions. In my book, "commercial" means "for profit" not merely "for sale", and if that laboratory was definitely for profit, and UNIX was definitely to help them in their long-term pursuit of it. Indeed, I'd say it's a far more technically healthy method for developing a commercial product to actually want to use it yourself! That's a huge weakness of Microsoft--just look at Visual Source Safe--garbage they peddle that doesn't meet any reasonable standard of source code control and don't even use it themselves for their own flagship product.

The truth is that UNIX has been adopted by Open Source, it is not itself an Open Source creation, and it's wrong to blame UNIX for being associated with it or to put Microsoft on a pedestal relative to UNIX because of the number customers or the size of their bank account.

nor was Berkeley unix a 'clone'

Did I call it a clone?

Why do you keep citing detailed history that makes no difference to the point you're responding to?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I repeat, and ask you to challenge, my statement that Microsoft in a fraction of a time, and with a fraction of the programmer base, has created more than Unix or Linux have created in thirty years, with millions of programmers worldwide. That is the nature of the difference between 'open source' and 'closed source'. One is productive, the other is not.

Generalizations like this do you no good. Projects live or die on the merit of its programmers, not the visibility of its source code. The key to good software is good people, good people requires good money, and good money requires a business model. This goes for both open and closed source software.

As an aside, the fact that something like

is available to people at no charge is nothing short of incredible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Actually it wasn't a commercial creation either, in the sense of a commercial product ...

I don't agree with your definitions. In my book, "commercial" means "for profit" not merely "for sale", and if that laboratory was definitely for profit, and UNIX was definitely to help them in their long-term pursuit of it.

Unix was in fact originally developed as a personal project shared with co-workers and friends as open source from a research lab of a company not in the computer business. It is misleading in a discussion of open source software to say only that unix was "commercial" simply because it came from someone in a private company, without describing the actual nature of its role and distribution. It was not and was not intended to be a commercial product as most people think of the term, and that should be understood. Nor was it in a finished form when others began using and adding to it.

Indeed, I'd say it's a far more technically healthy method for developing a commercial product to actually want to use it yourself! That's a huge weakness of Microsoft--just look at Visual Source Safe--garbage they peddle that doesn't meet any reasonable standard of source code control and don't even use it themselves for their own flagship product.

These swipes at usoft are not relevant to how unix developed.

The truth is that UNIX has been adopted by Open Source, it is not itself an Open Source creation, and it's wrong to blame UNIX for being associated with it or to put Microsoft on a pedestal relative to UNIX because of the number customers or the size of their bank account.

Unix was open source from the beginning, no one is "blaming" it, and no one here has put usoft on a "pedestal" because of a customer base or "bank account", which polemic is not relevant to the facts under discussion (although usoft's enormous success is not unrelated to the value of its products to its customers).

Nor was Berkeley unix a 'clone'.

Did I call it a clone?

You wrote: "If someone cloned Windows and made it Open Source, then I wouldn't call Windows Open Source. Likewise I don't call UNIX Open Source." That suggests to people not familiar with the actual history the mistaken notions that Berkeley unix was a "clone" and that unix was not open source. Berkeley unix was in fact developed directly from Bell Labs source code under license and, as is well known, was widely distributed and used as open source, especially through universities. Many people independently contributed to its development. That began when the original was still a minimal kernel, but does not detract from the original creators.

Why do you keep citing detailed history that makes no difference to the point you're responding to?

The historical facts are in fact relevant and contradict your apparent misunderstanding about early unix. Unix was open source from the beginning and continued to be as it became widespread through universities, especially the Berkeley release. Your initial statement that "UNIX is not 'open source'" was not correct -- although there are proprietary versions -- as was your statement that the history "makes no difference to the point you're responding to." This is a simple factual discussion of technology and does call for such contentiousness, including the sideline swipes dismissing usoft as "peddling garbage", etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After reading through this thread, I think free software and public source code should be entirely separated from the notion of open source.

So then you get this... OpenSource = OpenSource.org GNU, etc (rather than open source = public source code).

Public Source Code = Believe it or not, public source code!! [and each module/software or piece of code will be considered individually, i.e.: some guy makes his "JacksBackgammon3D" free and links in his terms of use and elsewhere to a creative commons page where he gives the user 'some rights' or whichever he chooses].

And what's free is free, evaluating each project or software individually.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As an aside, the fact that something like
is available to people at no charge is nothing short of incredible.

Ouch! Vista just got slapped hard in the face :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It is misleading in a discussion of open source software to say only that unix was "commercial" simply because it came from someone in a private company, without describing the actual nature of its role and distribution. It was not and was not intended to be a commercial product as most people think of the term, and that should be understood. Nor was it in a finished form when others began using and adding to it.

No, what's misleading is to call UNIX "Open Source" just because some variants over time have been made so. It did not start out as Open Source, period. And it's muddled to say that UNIX wasn't created out of a desire for profit, since the ideas were largely based on its predecessor, Multics, which was a commercial investment. It is true that the personal drive to create was what pushed UNIX into existence and not some business agenda divorced from engineering principle, but that is part of why it is such a great system.

These swipes at usoft are not relevant to how unix developed.

On the contrary, the first swipe was taken at UNIX relative to Microsoft. It's quite relevant for me to point out the real truth when comparing the two.

Unix was open source from the beginning, no one is "blaming" it, and no one here has put usoft on a "pedestal" because of a customer base or "bank account", which polemic is not relevant to the facts under discussion (although usoft's enormous success is not unrelated to the value of its products to its customers).

As an engineer, I reserve the right to criticize any engineering company, including Microsoft, on the basis of true engineering principle. "Enormous success" in terms of cash does not trump that, and speaking of unjust swipes, calling someone an "armchair engineer" because they have the audacity to actually be an engineer who evaluates with a standard of value other than raw cash is the height of presumption.

Did I call it a clone?

You wrote: "If someone cloned Windows and made it Open Source, then I wouldn't call Windows Open Source. Likewise I don't call UNIX Open Source." That suggests to people not familiar with the actual history the mistaken notions that Berkeley unix was a "clone" and that unix was not open source. Berkeley unix was in fact developed directly from Bell Labs source code under license and, as is well known, was widely distributed and used as open source, especially through universities. Many people independently contributed to its development. That began when the original was still a minimal kernel, but does not detract from the original creators.

I find it ironic that you respond to my objection of your implying that I said something I didn't say by talking about how an imaginary person might read more into what I said than what I actually said.

The historical facts are in fact relevant and contradict your apparent misunderstanding about early unix. Unix was open source from the beginning <snip>

I won't pretend to know all the minutiae. I don't think most of what you have brought up is relevant. But given that you are so familiar with the detailed history, refering to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Source_history , how do you explain the fact that UNIX was created in the late 1960's, but AT&T was still charging for it in 1987, and that's when the Open Software Foundation was formed? I mean two things seem to blatantly contradict your position: 1) AT&T charged for UNIX, even academics had to pay; 2) The OSF wasn't even formed until about 20 years after UNIX was created. How do you reconcile these facts with what you have been arguing about with me?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
After reading through this thread, I think free software and public source code should be entirely separated from the notion of open source.

So then you get this... OpenSource = OpenSource.org GNU, etc (rather than open source = public source code).

Public Source Code = Believe it or not, public source code!! [and each module/software or piece of code will be considered individually, i.e.: some guy makes his "JacksBackgammon3D" free and links in his terms of use and elsewhere to a creative commons page where he gives the user 'some rights' or whichever he chooses].

And what's free is free, evaluating each project or software individually.

Yes, this whole topic is more involved than a stereotype of 'communist Stallman versus private industry'. It includes a range from hobbyists to serious non-profit enterprises, to commercial companies, to combinations of all of them. "Free software" can be software -- with or without source code -- that you don't have to pay for, or software that can be freely modified (and possibly sold under certain conditions). There was open source software, free (or nearly free) programs, and variations on them before there ever was a GNU and other of the contemporary organized sources of distribution. Unix is a classic example, with a complex an interesting history of both open source and proprietary versions, all evolving out of a non-commercial program from an informal personal project in the research lab of a private company! It would be a mistake to think that unix was either started by GNU (which didn't exist then) or that it was "cloned" as "free software", copying the functionality of a commercial product. Yet it was 'open source' and freely available on an informal, if not originally widespread, basis at the very beginning and soon moved into widespread use and significant development in universities on a massive scale -- along with the eventual development of several proprietary commericial versions all evolved from the original. (Even usoft once had a commercial version: Xenix!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
BSD Unix, as ewv said, was open source, and that's historically been by far the most dominant distribution. Mac OSX is based on Unix not because of Unix's inherent virtues, but because they couldn't build anything better. Microsoft could, and did.

That is massively debatable. Go check your spam, ad blockers, and virus protection and then maybe we'll argue that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mac OSX is based on Unix not because of Unix's inherent virtues, but because they couldn't build anything better. Microsoft could, and did.

I missed that before. As a programmer of over 25 years, I totally disagree with you. The NT architecture, from Dave Cutler of DEC VAX VMS, is way excessively complex internally. Despite (or because of) a host of complex security features it's still not particularly secure overall. UNIX and its variants such as Linux and OS X and Solaris are still around because they work extremely well. The primary problem with OS X is Steve Jobs' stubborn insistence on selling Apple hardware rather than opening up sales to the vastly broader general PC market, or at least to a company such as Dell that could include it as an option.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The NT architecture, from Dave Cutler of DEC VAX VMS, is way excessively complex internally. Despite (or because of) a host of complex security features it's still not particularly secure overall.

VAX/VMS was designed to do more than unix at the time and worked very well for what it was designed for, which was primarily engineering and scientific calculations with multi-user (with ascii terminal access) time sharing and real time applications. For the first time, it made it possible for even small companies to have their own cost effective, very useable mini-computers instead of paying for expensive, time sharing, primarily using inefficient batch runs, on CDC and IBM mainframes. DEC's VAX/VMS was like a gift from heaven; DEC was extremely successful with it for many years, increasing productivity for scientific applications enormously. Many universities also began using VAXes running a unix port since unix was already established there and as open source cost much less than VMS. But that was before the explosion in graphics workstations and personal PCs.

NT may be complex, but it did not use all the VMS architecture, which wasn't needed in a single user PC. (NT was based on experience with VMS architecture, but was not a VMS port). Security issues were perceived very differently at the time than the problems of today. Unix has come a long way in security, too.

All these systems were very successful in the evolution of computing and are worthy of praise for their accomplishments at the time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites