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[P]
What if Microsoft Linux really happened?

By dreamfish in Culture
Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 11:08:34 AM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)
Software

We all laugh at the idea of Microsoft Linux but supposing they actually went ahead and did it? Supposing they released their own distribution with a view to employing the 'embrace and extend' principles that we all know and love. What would you do? What could you do?


Microsoft could have a number of reasons for creating their own distribution:

  • fend off the US DOJ (after all, they have, albeit grudgingly, acknowledged Linux as a valid competitor)
  • most of the work's been done already
  • it would cost them next to nothing to produce and market
  • they could eventually become the 'acceptable face' of Linux
  • they may hope to 'take a lead in Linux strategy' (read: control)

... and their marketing could clean up:

  • they could claim they're making Linux suitable for the enterprise and moving it away from being 'just a hacker OS'
  • current marketing doesn't target major corporations - MS could help fix that :)
  • improve Linux for the desktop

Of course they wouldn't want to eat into their Win2000 market share so the position of this Linux distribution would be 'clarified'. They could claim it's only suitable for the 'low end' server market or embedded systems or non-mission critical activities. Given that Linux is still a blip on the radar of most corporate institutions and ordinary users could MS end up being viewed as the dominant force behind Linux, the result being MS Linux is 'the Linux distribution' and everything it contains is accepted as the benchmark platform? This would leave the field clear for MS to engage in a bit of embracing and extending: modifying licenses, mixing open and closed apps, rampant forking, re-defining Linux's role in IT.

As a hacker what would you do? Essentially, what could you do? If Microsoft kept to the letter of the GPL for the kernel and other apps how could you stop them? Would you:

  • engage in some guerilla marketing ("don't listen to them - they're fooling you!")
  • ignore them and hope it all ends in tears
  • rewrite the licenses
  • refuse to contribute to apps where they have a strategic role.
  • abandon Linux and go elsewhere (FreeBSD)

... or would you welcome Microsoft's contribution, especially if one of their goals was pushing it on the desktop? Would you work with them to openly to highlight the disadvantages of 'embrace and extend' or clandestinely to foil their plans?

It could be a test of the principles of open source and the strength of its array of licences, as well as how the hacker community could respond as a cohesive and decisive group.

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What if Microsoft Linux really happened? | 110 comments (109 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
Enhance the desktop? (1.81 / 22) (#2)
by dabadab on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 10:18:21 AM EST

Pardon, but it is hard to believe that MS could do much to improve Linux as a desktop OS.
What could they do? Add silly paperclips? OK, porting MS Office to Linux would lead to a broader usage, but really, technologically that's all I can see, nothing more (the effect of MS putting itself behind Linux on other SW developers is a wholly different subject)
--
Real life is overrated.
Re: Enhance the desktop? (3.33 / 3) (#65)
by skim123 on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 04:36:47 PM EST

Pardon, but it is hard to believe that MS could do much to improve Linux as a desktop OS. What could they do? Add silly paperclips? OK, porting MS Office to Linux would lead to a broader usage, but really, technologically that's all I can see, nothing more

Anytime you have tons of little, different companies or developers creating apps for an OS, there is one major problem - interoperability sucks. The nice thing about Windows is that everything works together nicely (at least the software created by MS). I can construct a chart in Excel based on sales date, cut and paste it into a Word document, import a sound file into the word document, and email it to a friend using Outlook - all easily, all without doing complex shit. Just a button click here, a copy there, and a paste over here.

My expertise is in server-side Web programming, and Microsoft makes that easy. I've created sites using Perl/DBI/Oracle, and that is a headache compared to ASP/ADO/MS-SQL. And with ASP+, Microsoft's next version of ASP, it's all getting even easier and more powerful.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Re: Enhance the desktop? (3.50 / 2) (#94)
by dabadab on Wed Sep 27, 2000 at 09:02:33 AM EST

Your point about interoperability is just that - app' makers should abide by some standards. MS would not solve this (except for MS being the only one developing apps for Linux - but that's a highly unlikely scenario)
And Windows sucks just as much on interoperabilty when your are not using 100% MS apps.
So my question still stands: what good would MS bring to the Linux desktop?
--
Real life is overrated.
[ Parent ]
My question (4.43 / 37) (#3)
by spiralx on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 10:18:43 AM EST

As a hacker what would you do? Essentially, what could you do? If Microsoft kept to the letter of the GPL for the kernel and other apps how could you stop them?

In this scenario, why would you want to stop them?

Hopefully people are using Linux because they either a) believe in the free software philosophy or b) prefer a better operating system rather than c) blind Microsoft hating. In the case of a fully GPL-compliant MS Linux distro, who loses out? Only those who use Linux because of reason c).

Like them or loathe them, Microsoft do have a lot of good programmers working for them, and any GPL code they released would benefit everybody. Plus, with MS behind Linux things like hardware support would become much easier. It would also mean that you'd get Linux versions of things like Explorer, Outlook, Office et al, which would encourage uptake of Linux in both homes and offices.

The only people that stand to lose out in this scenario are those that advocate Linux solely as a means of crushing Microsoft.


You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey

Re: My question (1.62 / 16) (#5)
by kunsan on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 10:41:32 AM EST

An excellent commentary to a well thought out and well written article.

I hate the "me too" and "I'd like to piggy back" crap that tends to flow so easily from people's finger tips, but some times someone says something just so, and you have to sit back and smile and say "why didnt I think of that"

Anyway Im babbling when all I wanted to say is I concur!

Cheers
--
With a gun in your mouth, you only speak in vowels -- Fight Club
[ Parent ]
Re: My question (3.00 / 14) (#12)
by Elendale on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 11:34:47 AM EST

I cannot stand the current line of M$ products. Read the EULA on any version of Win2k and see if you don't shudder once or twice. If M$ wanted, they could collect hundreds of billions of USD from all the people who violate their EULA (90% i know, mostly don't even realize they are doing something wrong). That said, if M$ produced a MSLinux that was GPL/etc compliant and did have an actual advantage over current distros, i would probably use it- or at least take the good parts and integrate them into my Slackware installation. Of course, the chance that M$ actually follows the GPL and other liscenses is approximately equal to the chance that gravity will not exist tomorrow.

-Elendale
---

When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.


[ Parent ]
Re: My question (3.25 / 12) (#15)
by spiralx on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 11:44:21 AM EST

I cannot stand the current line of M$ products.

For technical or philosophical reasons? Whilst I'm sure the EULA on Win2K is atrocious, I've never read it and only used the software, which is a lot nicer than previous versions. Many of the MS "scare stories" don't apply to Win2K, and whilst it's by no means at all perfect, it's finally beginning to get somewhere in terms of stability. And it sure as hell looks a lot more professional than Win98/NT.

Of course, the chance that M$ actually follows the GPL and other liscenses is approximately equal to the chance that gravity will not exist tomorrow.

But the thing is that MS are such a big name in the computing world that even if they did, people would choose them over other distros because "It's Microsoft, we know Microsoft, they're a big company". For your average PHB which company looks like a better bet - Microsoft or Red Hat? The product they're shipping will be practically irrelevent (as it is now).


You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
[ Parent ]

Re: My question (3.33 / 6) (#64)
by Elendale on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 04:35:27 PM EST

But the thing is that MS are such a big name in the computing world that even if they did, people would choose them over other distros because "It's Microsoft, we know Microsoft, they're a big company".

This is exactly the problem. If some no-name company came out with a distro that violated even the spirit of the GPL and/or free software in general the linux community (and i'm specifically thinking of The Other Site) would flame them to death. If M$ does this, the flames will by 4X as intense in hatred- but the PHBs will force everyone to use it... or try... i doubt your average boss would be able tell the difference between Debian and the fictional MSLinux.

As to your other question, I dislike Microsoft for both political and technical reasons. The technical problems are becoming smaller but the political problems are becoming larger. For instance, in the WinME EULA, there is a line that says something to the effect of "you agree not to directly connect this computer to more than 5 other computers through a network". I wish i had a copy of the agreement handy, but i do not own WinME (the copy i saw was one i was fixing for a friend) so i most likely am wrong. The EULA is ugly enough to make Win98 seem passive though, i would read through it before i actually installed the software but that could be just me.

-Elendale (and thus begins the 'sorry for replying to my own thread but...')
---

When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.


[ Parent ]
Re: My question (3.00 / 3) (#88)
by Colonol_Panic on Wed Sep 27, 2000 at 03:19:08 AM EST

For instance, in the WinME EULA, there is a line that says something to the effect of "you agree not to directly connect this computer to more than 5 other computers through a network".

I certainly hope it is more specific than that, considering that statement would make using the Internet illegal.
Here's my DeCSS mirror. Where's Yours?
[ Parent ]

Re: My question (3.77 / 9) (#36)
by El Volio on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 01:16:21 PM EST

I like this point. What makes Linux different from many other OS'es is the fact that no one company can co-opt it. Despite all the 1337 folks who like to spout drivel about how MS would ignore the GPL, it's not quite that easy. Whereas there may be some loopholes in it (depending on your point of view), I don't think any of them is large enough to endanger Linux as a whole, nor the open-source and free-software communities.

MS wants to improve the kernel? Great, if Linus accepts it, then we all benefit. MS wants to release ANOTHER package mgmt tool? Fine, there's a lot of us who'll keep on trucking with whatever tool we already use. If MS wants to play the game, let 'em.

And if the split is upheld, don't be too surprised to see some form of this come true, even if it's the application half pouring resources into WINE a la Corel.

One final point: I use Linux because it does what I need, and in a way (free-software) that I like. I was using it before it became a buzzword, and as long as it fits the bill, I'll use it, whether or not someone else latches on to it. I also use OpenBSD for similar motivations. I'm not beholden to anybody else's decisions in these matters, and as long as enough folks agree with me, then there will be enough support to make it a viable choice.

[ Parent ]

Re: My question (4.66 / 3) (#89)
by Colonol_Panic on Wed Sep 27, 2000 at 03:22:05 AM EST

What would prevent them from setting up something like Mac OSX? A completely open source kosher system underneath, with all the good front-end stuff completely proprietary? Sure, it would obey the letter of the GPL but would shoot the spirit straight between the eyes. They could add all of their beloved "extensions" to the frontend with impunity, and we'd end up with Windows all over again, except on our turf.
Here's my DeCSS mirror. Where's Yours?
[ Parent ]
Re: My question (none / 0) (#103)
by El Volio on Wed Sep 27, 2000 at 12:58:30 PM EST

It doesn't violate the spirit of the GPL at all. Anybody's free to write their own commercial apps that run on Linux right now, including a window manager or desktop environment, whether or not the apps in question are free. Look at the (now-dead!) KDE controversy.

Loki Games isn't violating anything, either, even though their real products are closed. Yes, they contribute back to the OS community, but their non-free software doesn't violate the GPL in any way, or even come close.

I guess if Microsoft totally rewrites X, that could be something. But to do that wouldn't be very smart, even for their non-systems arm. If no 3rd-party apps, or only MS-blessed apps, will run, it won't go very far, especially in the enterprise.

And underneath it all, it'll still be linux.

[ Parent ]

Re: My question (none / 0) (#106)
by Mneme on Thu Sep 28, 2000 at 04:58:09 AM EST

What would prevent them from setting up something like Mac OSX? A completely open source kosher system underneath, with all the good front-end stuff completely proprietary? Sure, it would obey the letter of the GPL but would shoot the spirit straight between the eyes. They could add all of their beloved "extensions" to the frontend with impunity, and we'd end up with Windows all over again, except on our turf.

If you look at MacOS X, it ships with no GNU code in the default install. Apple's lawyers and Richard Stallman concluded that if the OS "needed" GNU code, then the whole OS would have to be put under the GPL. The GNU code is only available as add-on packages.

The real way to subvert the GPL to share but in ways that follow the letter of the GPL but not its spirit. One way is to use a language that where having the source code is less than useful. There is no requirement that that the compiler be freely available, so Microsoft could use a compiler with various Microsoft extensions that would make it a real pain for anyone outside of Microsoft to compile it. Of course, they could change the compiler extensions with every release. They could free to be slow to provide their source to customers who request it. Finally, their fork of the project can introduce various incompatibilities and gross hacks that mean that other open source developers would not want to touch their code.

If you think this is far fetched, you should know that NeXT did exactly this (mostly without malice) when they used GPLed code. Their additions to free projects like gdb were written in NeXT's Objective-C variant (which few non-NEXTSTEP people used), and hacked things until they worked with little regard for maintainability. For a long time they were also slow to provide their changes to the community (they never put them on an ftp server).

Apple has inherited NeXT's code and is trying to undo this damage and avoid doing this kind of thing in the future, because it's costly in the long run unless the forked version becomes a successful open source project in its own right.



[ Parent ]
Excellent article (3.11 / 18) (#4)
by ignatios on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 10:31:24 AM EST

ignatios voted +1 for the front page

i would be rather interested to see what microsoft (c|w)ould do with their own "linux os" but i don't think they'll ever go through with it. it would almost be like admitting defeat. microsoft hasn't become where they are today because of their, um, excellent software, but because microsoft understands how the computer industry works.

it seems to me that the computer industry will always tend to favour one company (and|or) product line...at least, it was this way in the past. microsoft understood this and did its best to ensure that they were the favoured son. linux and the open source movement threaten to change that trend as the philsophies behind them are the complete opposite of what microsoft's ideologies.

microsoft cannot bring themselves to embrace complete freedom and choice because they have relied on maintaining tight control (or at least threatened it) over whatever they can...see a story on That Other Site just posted today for an example.

but we've all heard this before...just my 2 cents' worth.

-ignatios

welcome all ye travelers (2.81 / 16) (#6)
by madams on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 10:43:10 AM EST

I would welcome Microsoft's contributions to Linux and free software in general. Hopefully, if MS does decide to get involved in OSS, they'll follow IBM's lead in doing it the Right Way(TM) (ie, IBM had one programmer to represent the company to the Apache group. He had to submit patches and modifications just like every other Apache contributor).

--
Mark Adams
"But pay no attention to anonymous charges, for they are a bad precedent and are not worthy of our age." - Trajan's reply to Pliny the Younger, 112 A.D.

Well Done (1.80 / 21) (#7)
by wholen1 on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 10:46:58 AM EST

If nothing else, this article will stimulate some discussion. I, for one, am interested to see the responses on what developers would do if it ever came down to it. I really haven't made up my mind yet, but it did get the wheels turning.

out...
E

Not likely - but an interesting proposition (3.54 / 24) (#8)
by edderly on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 10:48:52 AM EST

Or dear - I am so going to be voted down on this one :-)

What if Microsoft linux happened? I would say that it would be a sign that Microsoft had lost the plot completely or that it wanted to get out of the OS game.

It's easy to criticise Microsoft for a lot of things but put simply it is the most successful business on the planet like it or not. How do they do this [without drifting into an antitrust debate] has to do with not confusing the customers. In my few business dealing with these guys they have demonstrated an unmatched ability to turn market requirements in to software.

They know how to make money out of software - something no-one in the Linux sphere has been able to do - they're after money from services (and maybe hardware) right?

The biggest question about whether Microsoft would get involved in Linux is - what would it buy them? Not much.

How would Microsoft Linux sell to the ordinary consumer? The average person on the street [or even in business] doesn't even know what an operating system is. A point aptly demonstrated by any non-IT journalist talking about the recent antitrust case.



Re: Not likely - but an interesting proposition (3.70 / 10) (#17)
by Anonymous 242 on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 12:00:55 PM EST

What if Microsoft linux happened? I would say that it would be a sign that Microsoft had lost the plot completely or that it wanted to get out of the OS game.

Or what if they simply used the Linux kernel to host Windows in the fashion that Windows used to use DOS?

I don't think that this is entirely inconceivable. MS could certaily attempt to embrace and extend Linux without making Windows GPL by simply using the kernel as a host for the Windows operating environment. And if the such a form of Winodows was popular enough MS could marry Windows to certain kernel versions and perhaps hijack control of the kernel.

Is this likely to happen? I doubt it. Why not? Personally, I think Bill Gates would rather see MS go belly up than see Windows (or Office) run on top of Linux.

Why else would MS not be porting Office to Linux when the difference between Linux and Mac on the desktop is a mere nine tenths of a percent? That is, at least according to an article I recently read in Computer Reseller News. A side bar to the print version of the article showed a graph where, Linux was at 4.1 percent of OS shipments vs 5 percent for Mac OS in 1999 according to IDG. I couldn't find the side bar on the CRN web site.

[ Parent ]

Re: Not likely - but an interesting proposition (3.00 / 9) (#21)
by edderly on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 12:21:27 PM EST

I'm certainly not saying that it could not be done - though the architecture of Win NT/2000 has moved on from the Win98 based on Dos (7.0?) you can in the end shim anything.

It is interesting that you raise the point about Office - one major obstacle to porting Office to a new platform is the number of associated technologies you would have to port to the system as well. All that COM, OLE, blah, blah stuff. I think the Mac would not have Office on it if it had not been maintained as a background project.

Saying that there was a version of MS Word for Unix about 5 years ago.

[ Parent ]

You forget some MAJOR points (4.06 / 31) (#9)
by rednecktek on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 11:26:39 AM EST

#1 - The GPL. When was the last time you saw an open protocal, much less open-source project from M$? You haven't, and you won't. M$ has a firm philosophy on closed-source == secure. Regardless of the lawsuits involved in violating the GPL, M$ would never produce public code. Yes, it would be like admiting defeat.

#2 - Support. Imagine huge numbers of M$ end-users with brand-new computers (using Win2K) running out to buy the latest M$ operating system. Now imagine those huge numbers of end-users flooding the phone lines to Dell, Gateway, Compaq, HP, etc., and even Redmond's local numbers, because AOE2 won't install, their 3 year old Money account files are gone, etc. The media blast would hurt them worse than the DOJ trial. (No, I didn't forget about WINE, refer to #1 above)
Take the above a step further, now inform those users that they can' reinstall Win2K because their system doesn't come with a "restore" disk.

#3 - Money. Microsoft is investing less and less in desktop OS and more in M$ .NET . Following Gate's ideals, it won't matter what OS you use, you'll still pay the M$ tax for use of some form of service.

Personally, I'm no longer worried about what M$ does (to the OS extent). I'm removing their products at my home (wife in training). I'm currently structuring a minimal linux distribution to low end workstations where I work. For me the future is already here, and no, it doesn't include M$ or M$linux.



Just remember, if the world didn't suck, we'd all fall off.
Open MS protocols (3.09 / 11) (#11)
by spiralx on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 11:33:11 AM EST

Try SOAP, the Simple Object Access Protocol. What is SOAP? From the MS page:

"The Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) defines the use of XML and HTTP to access services, objects, and servers in a platform-independent manner. SOAP is a protocol that acts as the glue between heterogeneous software components. If developer can agree on HTTP and XML, SOAP offers a mechanism for bridging competing technologies in a standard way. The main goal of SOAP is to facilitate interoperability."

And to prove it's open, here it is at the W3C for you to peruse...


You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
[ Parent ]

Re: Open MS protocols (1.85 / 7) (#45)
by rednecktek on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 01:38:29 PM EST

Although I know nothing about this protocal, for some reason I wouldn't be surprized to find X number of "undefined" bits (for future expansion) in this thing.

Just remember, if the world didn't suck, we'd all fall off.
[ Parent ]
Re: Open MS protocols (2.33 / 3) (#63)
by skim123 on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 04:30:19 PM EST

Although I know nothing about this protocal, for some reason I wouldn't be surprized to find X number of "undefined" bits (for future expansion) in this thing

That's FUD. Microsoft is basing its future on the ease to design distributed apps over the net. They are not stupid, they know the majority of servers on the Net aren't using Microsoft OSes or Web servers... hence, it makes sense to have some open protocols. IBM backs SOAP... also check out DISCO and SDL.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Re: Open MS protocols (none / 0) (#104)
by rednecktek on Wed Sep 27, 2000 at 02:53:13 PM EST

FUD? Get you head out of the sand. M$ changes "standards" as it suits them. Kerobos is just ONE example.

Just remember, if the world didn't suck, we'd all fall off.
[ Parent ]
Re: You forget some MAJOR points (3.14 / 14) (#20)
by driph on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 12:08:17 PM EST

#3 - Money. Microsoft is investing less and less in desktop OS and more in M$ .NET . Following Gate's ideals, it won't matter what OS you use, you'll still pay the M$ tax for use of some form of service.

Which fits into the Linux model perfectly. Give away the OS, and charge for "extended features" or .net application use.

I actually see it as quite plausible. Especially if there was a government breakup, where both sides of MS are going to be carefully watched to make sure they are in fact competing. What better way to compete than to have one company continue with Windows while the other develops and markets a branded Linux distribution?

--
Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave
[ Parent ]
Re: You forget some MAJOR points (2.85 / 7) (#42)
by rednecktek on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 01:29:48 PM EST

... charge for "extended features" ...

Isn't that what they currently do for patches? (i.e. Win98SE, WinME)

I actually see it as quite plausible. Especially if there was a government breakup, where both sides of MS are going to be carefully watched to make sure they are in fact competing.

The proposed government plan does nothing for competition. I don't think anyone but the Judge believes that. By "carefully watched," you mean the same way AT&T has been "watched" right?



Just remember, if the world didn't suck, we'd all fall off.
[ Parent ]
Re: You forget some MAJOR points (3.00 / 10) (#28)
by bmetzler on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 12:46:56 PM EST

imagine those huge numbers of end-users flooding the phone lines [...] because AOE2 won't install, their 3 year old Money account files are gone, etc. [...] (No, I didn't forget about WINE, refer to #1 above)

You only sort of forgot about Wine. Don't you think that if Open Source developers could create Wine, that it wouldn't be impossible for MS to create a Windows API library on top of Linux? In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if they already had something in Redmond that did what Wine does but perfectly, because they have the Windows source code. They wouldn't get millions of users calling about their apps not installed, because for just $149.99 you can buy "Windows for Linux" and run all your old apps. Or you could just buy Windows 2002 for $129.99.

-Brent
www.bmetzler.org - it's not just a personal weblog, it's so much more.
[ Parent ]
Re: You forget some MAJOR points (3.14 / 7) (#38)
by rednecktek on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 01:23:10 PM EST

Don't you think that if Open Source developers could create Wine, that it wouldn't be impossible for MS to create a Windows API library on top of Linux? In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if they already had something in Redmond that did what Wine does but perfectly, because they have the Windows source code.

Perfectly? Come on, they can't even get Windows to run on the Windows API.

They wouldn't get millions of users calling about their apps not installed, because for just $149.99 you can buy "Windows for Linux" and run all your old apps.

Yeah, I guess I forgot about all the sheep. However, IMHO, very few people are going to happy paying for (what they will consider) an upgrade OS, only to be told to buy another over-priced product to run old apps.



Just remember, if the world didn't suck, we'd all fall off.
[ Parent ]
Re: You forget some MAJOR points (3.42 / 7) (#51)
by bmetzler on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 02:31:31 PM EST

Perfectly? Come on, they can't even get Windows to run on the Windows API.

By perfectly of course, I meant bug for bug :)

Yeah, I guess I forgot about all the sheep. However, IMHO, very few people are going to happy paying for (what they will consider) an upgrade OS, only to be told to buy another over-priced product to run old apps.

Exactly. I insinuated that in the comment you replied to. When Microsoft isn't split up and companies start using other office products instead of Office, Microsoft *may* feel threatened. Like OS/2 being a better Windows then Windows, Microsoft could to release a "Windows for Linux" Allowing you to run their Office product on Linux. Of course, they could inexpensively "give" it away at first. (Oh, you want to ship systems with Linux on them? You must ship Windows for Linux on the boxes which we'll license to you for free, or you can pay triple to license Windows.) Then when everyone starts using Office and the competing office products go away, there'll be a new story. (Oh, you want to ship Windows for Linux? Well, we have a new licensing deal for you. We'll let you license Windows for linux for only 4 times the licensing free of our Windows OS. Take it or leave it.)

Actually, I probably shouldn't have said that. Microsoft Marketing department is probably heading over to talk to Dell right now.

-Brent
www.bmetzler.org - it's not just a personal weblog, it's so much more.
[ Parent ]
Re: You forget some MAJOR points (3.42 / 7) (#46)
by Zagadka on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 01:40:59 PM EST

See MainWin for Linux, made by Microsoft's good buddy MainSoft. While MainWin is a development tool, which essentially allows one to recompile a Win32 application for UNIX, I imagine it wouldn't be too hard to modify it to behave much as WINE does. Note that MainSoft has access to the NT4 and NT5 source.

[ Parent ]
YOU'RE forgetting some major points. (none / 0) (#100)
by simmons75 on Wed Sep 27, 2000 at 10:52:11 AM EST

Your first argument is invalidated if these proprietary protocols are implemented without using GPL code. Just because something's on the Linux platform doesn't mean it has to be GPL; just read the kernel's COPYING file. Ditto if it's a kernel mod, which, again, contains no GPL code.

BTW WINE != GPL and here's their license.
1 @c This file is processed by GNU's TeXinfo
2 @c If you modify it or move it to another location, make sure that
3 @c TeXinfo works (type `make' in directory documentation).
4
5 Copyright (c) 1993-2000 the Wine project authors (see the file AUTHORS
6 for a complete list)
7
8 Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy
9 of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal
10 in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights
11 to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell
12 copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is
13 furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:
14
15 The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in
16 all copies or substantial portions of the Software.
17
18 THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR
19 IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY,
20 FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE
21 COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER
22 IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN
23 CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.

If you can explain to me why Microsoft can't use WINE to run their desktop apps under Linux (other than the fact that WINE is horiffically incomplete) let me know.
And there are a raftload of commercial porting tools out there...this is how IE made it to Solaris.

#2: I don't think this is as big a deal as you think it is. They can't support their current OSs efficiently...it wouldn't be that much of a stretch to think they could offer comperable support for a Linux distro. Again, if they simply ported their API over in a binary-compatible fashion (a la WINE) and came up with a mechanism for loading drivers, they'd have a Linux kernel-based Windows.

#3: from what we've seen, even though they don't consider the OS a cash cow, they still want to have a prescence.
poot!
So there.

[ Parent ]
This could happen (3.29 / 17) (#10)
by Snugboy on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 11:30:49 AM EST

I have a feeling that this is very close to what may happen in a few years. It is M$'s MO to assimilate new techs into thier collective and change the tech, usually making it worse. It is a valid statement that many people think that M$ IS computers. Also, many people have HEARD of Linux but have no idea what it is. I think that if a M$ distro was to appear, most if not all people would consider it THE LINUX. You would see its usage stats rise. It would soon "acquire" other distros. It would develop a package manager that was incompatable with the others, and would slowly eat the Linux world from the inside untill Linux was nothing more than another flavor of Windows.

The only thing standing between this hellish future is us. The Linux community as it is now must be prepared to stand against the new M$ Linux. The current distros must consolidate some, package managers must consolidate, and the desktop environment must become more cohesive if the Linux world is to stand up to the hard hitting, laser guided competition of M$.

We have been warned, and we must be ready

Official Unix (3.00 / 16) (#13)
by Fizz at Beyond on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 11:36:13 AM EST

To my understanding, MS had owned a real unix and sold it. In the agreement when they sold it was that they couldn't get back into the unix market while that unix was around. Knowing how most of the linux people are (or atleast the extremests) they would probably try to get linux to be a certified unix to keep MS out of it.

Just a thought...

Xenix (4.50 / 12) (#16)
by spiralx on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 11:55:54 AM EST

AT&T developed Unix during the 70's to support their in-house publishing needs and such. (Well, it started out as a way to make a game, but AT&T didn't mean to fund that part.) During the 70's, AT&T still had the monopoly on long distances phone service and a huge chunk of the local phone service. As a result, the government banned them from entering other markets so that AT&T couldn't abuse their monopoly position on on market to take over other markets.

The result was that AT&T gave away copies of Unix to universities for educational purposes, which made it very popular in very important places.

After AT&T was broken up, they were allowed to start selling things, and one of the things they did was sell commercial licenses for Unix. In the late 70's, Microsoft was one of the people who bought the right to distribute Unix, and they modified it to run on the 8086 and 68000 and sold it to folks like Radio Shack and other vars, the largest of which was called SCO.

The first license that AT&T used was *very* cheap, and MS was making a lot of money selling Xenix. AT&T was kind of new at this computer stuff and didn't really know what it was worth. As a result, the next version of Unix that AT&T released, they jacked up the licensing fees to the point that MS said pluck yew to AT&T and sold off their Xenix distrubution to SCO.

Microsoft has never liked Unix since that spat, although they did add many Unix like features to their CP/M clone called "MS-DOS".

If AT&T had been more reasonable with their licensing of Unix back in the late 70's, we would all be running Unix now.

You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
[ Parent ]

Intrestering, but will not happen (2.60 / 15) (#14)
by Dunkin0 on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 11:43:42 AM EST

But, if it did. I dont think it would happen as a distrubution of linux completly, but what if they merge linux and windows to a next gen MS OS....kinda like what apple did with OSX and BSD. This would fix many of the "weak points" of windows/NT, create a unified/ standard GUI, while heving that solid 'linux' like foundation. i would install a copy of that But i dont think MS would ever adopt a GPL

Re: Intrestering, but will not happen (3.37 / 8) (#18)
by the coose on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 12:02:58 PM EST

but what if they merge linux and windows to a next gen MS OS....kinda like what apple did with OSX and BSD.

Interesting proposition and a few years ago, I would thought this highly possible. But MS has too much vested in W2K now that it's out. In addition, Windows ME is supposed to be the last of the DOS-based OS's from MS. And with the X-Box on the board, I think they're setting their sites on the post-PC era, as it's called the trade mags.

[ Parent ]
Re: Intrestering, but will not happen (3.83 / 6) (#49)
by fluffy grue on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 01:57:57 PM EST

Windows '98 SE was supposed to be the last of the DOS-based Windows.

Windows '98 was supposed to be the last of the DOS-based Windows.

Windows '95 was supposed to be the last of the DOS-based Windows.

Windows 3.11 was supposed to be the last of the DOS-based Windows.

See a pattern? :)
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

heres why Linus isnt as good as windows... (2.58 / 31) (#19)
by Paul Dunne on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 12:05:56 PM EST

heres why Linus isnt as good as windows which is very very very good

  1. linus was made by some high school kids whereas dos and windows was made by bill Gates the smartest man in the world. linus was made by some junior high and elementary school kids too, and they are all in jail now because they hacked into the pentagon so there wont be any more linus operating system updates but whereas Bill Gates is loved by the federal govenrment and is an updsatnding citizen who whould never brake no lawas.

  2. linus doesnt have what they call a GUI which means that you cant use a mouse and click on things you have to type in words in a different language probably finnish I dont know but it wont work unless you speak at least 10 different languages and one of those languages has to be a slavic language and you have a phd in 10 different languages and also can do math real real good.

  3. I took this pictures of Bill Gate and Linux Torvalds and I think the pictures speaks for itselves.

    Bill OR Linus ?

    See how long his hairs are see I told you they are all long hairs.

  4. Also linus doesnt have any applications except ones in 10 different langueages you dont understand unless you have a degree in horticultureism.

  5. i used linus once and it didnt go to the right web pages.

  6. where is space caadet? What? linus has no space cadet? Well how good can it be then really?

  7. Micheal Jagger didnt right a song about linus now did he but he did right a song about the windows start button and that is real innovation.

  8. linus was funded by the communists and the drug lords and also the satanists who hope to topel captialsim and other good things but they are triking people to think that linus is free when really it was made with moneys from these underlaws peoples to make anarchy everywhere and we cant have that now can we so buy windows instead.

  9. everyone agrees that micorsofts "windows nt everywhere" is a good idea and we cant have nt everywhere if linus is anywhere so we must get rid of linux intirely or else the dream of nt everywhere will never survives and we all want it to and if you dont want it too then you are ruining it for the rest of us and are probably violatin my EULA so Ill sue you if you dont change your mind emmidiately.
Thanks you thats why linus is bad and windows is good now go back to my other page

disclamers: all this stufs is just my opinions and dont get scared.

(with aplogies to Gerald Holmes, who I sincerely hope won't sue me for copyright violation).


http://dunne.home.dhs.org/

NO HES LIES!!12 (1.44 / 18) (#22)
by driph on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 12:22:27 PM EST

GARALD HOMES IS WINDWOS MASTAR FAGORT!1!!!11
<BR LUNIX TRUELY IS A SUPEREIR OPARATING SYSTEM!!!!

JEFFK!!!!



[check out his USAR FREINDLY FLAHS COMIC for more LUNIX goodness. Lowtax rocks. Please dont rate this. Heh]

--
Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave
[ Parent ]
Re: heres why Linus isnt as good as windows... (1.36 / 11) (#23)
by maketo on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 12:30:40 PM EST

Very wise (I believe thats what you think). Very pompous - thats what I think. If you really believe that people are ready to spend a month tuning their machine to be able to sit down and type a document and then print it - you are out of your mind. Just because you love Linux and the technology in general does not mean that the ordinary consumer does too. To tell you the truth I was with computers for the past thirteen years and consider myself to be a pretty literate computer programmer/user but this just pokes my eye. Since I am still a CS student I had to work for the University computer help desk and help many an academic and _smart_ person with their ordinary Windows/unix/Mac/VMS problems, and let me tell you, people like to have machines responding to what they want to do immediatly and do what they INTENDED. Noone except idle bums or computer geeks has the time to waste on your bloated and cryptic CLI or wanna-be GUI Linux software. I have RedHat running on my PC box and NetBSD running on a HP9000/360 with a Motorola 68030 and and iMac is coming, also use windows every day at work. Honestly, when I want to make some sort of a non-ascii document I go to windows/mac, never to the __ugly__ bloated KDE/GNOME/X/whatever StarOffice. I couldnt even hook up my Epson Stylus Color 300 to work with Linux. Took me time to read the Print-HOWTO, then look for filters, blah-blah, if you think that a normal professor or clerk or accountant or whoever is going to WASTE hours doing that - then you have more that a "windows envy" problem. I just get infuriated when I see this sort of pompeus behavior.
agents, bugs, nanites....see the connection?
[ Parent ]
Re: heres why Linus isnt as good as windows... (1.87 / 8) (#26)
by Paul Dunne on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 12:44:04 PM EST

A non-ASCII document? What, like you write in Chinese or something?

Oh, I know I shouldn't respond. I'd love to think this is a troll, or even a joke I'm not getting, but I'm very much afraid you're serious. Oh, well. Perhaps someone else has the patience to poke holes in your "arguments", one by one -- I know I don't.

And, I shouldn't do this, either, but... learn to spell. It's a real give-away when your writing is on a par with Gerald Holmes'.
http://dunne.home.dhs.org/
[ Parent ]

Re: heres why Linus isnt as good as windows... (1.71 / 7) (#34)
by maketo on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 01:08:06 PM EST

Learn to spell? My mother language is not English so I dont really see the need to learn to spell. Or did you forget that there are people speaking languages other than English on the Net?

Other than that you can poke any holes you want - I am just wondering if you really are serious when you are trying to say that Linux is actually easier to use and more convenient than Windows or MacOS for an average user (we are not talking geeks and sysadmins here). I just want to hear that.

Why did you bother reply when you didnt really state anything or give any evidence of anything but "I dont have the inclination to poke holes through your arguments"? Besides telling me to learn how to spell, that is.

By the way, when I said "non-ascii" I meant anything that involves any form of formatting and control-characters. I sure am not going to write my company's presentation in vi and then prepare it with some obscure formatting tool that requires me to learn an entire new language...
agents, bugs, nanites....see the connection?
[ Parent ]
Don't worry. (2.00 / 7) (#43)
by pwhysall on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 01:29:59 PM EST

You don't bother learning to spell, and we won't bother reading your posts until they at least vaguely resemble English. Don't give me that. A spell checker in your superwazzy MS OS is provided. You're just being lazy.

And until you have a 700-page technical spec with a mountain of equations and tables that absolutely positively has to be correct in every aspect of numbering and formatting, don't talk to me about "obscure formatting tool" when you mean things like LaTeX and troff which are, FYI, actually widely used outside the relatively tiny world of students.

Leave that kind of job to MS Word if you dare.
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Re: Don't worry. (1.83 / 6) (#44)
by maketo on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 01:37:50 PM EST

My comment was not "unreadable" and "barely resembled English". The original poster of the story also had mispellings - didnt see you bother with that one.

Anyways, how many people spend their afternoon formatting a 700 page manual loaded with blah-blah? How many fire up Word regularly to produce different _shorter_ content, oh mighty? I am talking ease of use here and the reason why the mouse exists.

As for beeing lazy and not using the spell-checker, I am addressing an audience that should not worry about spelling but about content. I didnt know that you were stuck in Freud's anal phase - my appologies.

Again, please just tell me - is Linux easier to setup and use and troubleshoot on ongoing bases, for the average "where is the cord" user? Yes or No, please.
agents, bugs, nanites....see the connection?
[ Parent ]
Re: Don't worry. (3.00 / 6) (#48)
by fluffy grue on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 01:56:30 PM EST

Well, the root comment was a joke. Actually, it's a rather well-known joke which has been around for a while, making fun of Windows pundits. It's had those misspellings throughout all of its lifetime. It's a running gag sorta thingy.
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

It never did, did it? (2.00 / 2) (#69)
by pwhysall on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 05:37:19 PM EST

The first comment has misspellings?

Well I never did. It was a joke, a troll, and a funny one at that.

Anyways, how many people spend their afternoon formatting a 700 page manual loaded with blah-blah? How many fire up Word regularly to produce different _shorter_ content, oh mighty? I am talking ease of use here and the reason why the mouse exists.

YOU might not write anything that doesn't fit on the back of an envelope, but many people do, as part of their jobs - which of course, you, being a student, won't be aware of yet. If you want ease-of-use, use Wordpad; it suffices for the masses. Word is supposed to be a professional wordprocessing tool. It has too many problems to qualify - although that doesn't seem to stop an awful lot of people trying.

As for beeing lazy and not using the spell-checker, I am addressing an audience that should not worry about spelling but about content. I didnt know that you were stuck in Freud's anal phase - my appologies.

That's Slashdot you're thinking of. Here on K5 proper presentation is somewhat more prized.

Again, please just tell me - is Linux easier to setup and use and troubleshoot on ongoing bases, for the average "where is the cord" user? Yes or No, please.

There are distributions of Linux which are suitable for the desktop; in particular, Corel Linux and Caldera OpenLinux are explicitly designed for the desktop market.

Windows is not particularly easy to use, nor is it easy to manage. It's just that it's spectacularly successful at lowering people's expectations of what "easy to use" and "stable" actually mean.
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
[ Parent ]

You're forgetting one thing. (2.00 / 1) (#99)
by simmons75 on Wed Sep 27, 2000 at 10:41:21 AM EST

The reason Windows seems so damn *easy* is because, when people bring a machine home or have it delivered to their home, the OS and likely a raftload of Microsoft software such as Office is already installed. Chances are, if it doesn't already have Linux (or Microsoft Office, for that matter) installed, it never will.

Why? Because the average user is afraid to get their hands dirty and, yes, mess stuff up. Ever done a clean Win98 installl, for instance? I dare you to. Not just stick the CD in and re-install, but actually low-level-format and partition your hard drive, *then* install Win98, *then* install your hardware drivers. Ugh. The average user, IMHO, if their system needed to be re-configured in this way, would be better off with Linux-Mandrake or Corel Office (or BeOS, for that matter.)

As far as the "where is the cord" crowd is concerned, if the machines they used shipped with everything they needed already installed, then, yes, it'd be fine for them. Just because a Linux system ships with development tools, LaTeX, adn the like doesn't mean that that's what one has to use. A user could use PerfectOffice, StarOffice, etc. There are also *gasp* other commercial software options out there for the end-user. Yes, Linux is indeed ready for the "where is the cord" user...if only manufacturers would be more willing to cooperate.
poot!
So there.

[ Parent ]
Re: You're forgetting one thing. (none / 0) (#109)
by maketo on Thu Sep 28, 2000 at 05:28:02 PM EST

I dont know if you have ever worked in a comnputer help desk (I did for a year at the university here) - you would be amazed what problems people have with their machines.
agents, bugs, nanites....see the connection?
[ Parent ]
Uh... This is a joke guys... (3.00 / 1) (#90)
by erotus on Wed Sep 27, 2000 at 03:39:59 AM EST

This post was stolen from http://geraldholmes.freeyellow.com/LinusSucks.html

It is a parody, a comedy, a ha ha... not to be taken seriously.

[ Parent ]
Re: heres why Linus isnt as good as windows... (1.00 / 1) (#97)
by simmons75 on Wed Sep 27, 2000 at 10:34:10 AM EST

/*
By the way, when I said "non-ascii" I meant anything that involves any form of formatting and
control-characters.
*/

I suppose, then, Microsoft Word documents meet your definition of ASCII.
poot!
So there.

[ Parent ]
Good Gawd. (2.00 / 1) (#96)
by simmons75 on Wed Sep 27, 2000 at 10:29:24 AM EST

You had me going for a little bit. I've actually *seen* this argument, and usually when I see it, it's serious. :^)

Wow, someone must have put some thought and time into this. :^) There's one thing you need to correct before you post it anywhere else, though:

//here so we must get rid of linux intirely

You slipped and called it Linux.

Fave part:

/*
linus was funded by the communists and the drug lords and also the satanists who hope to topel
captialsim and other good things
*/

Just the thought of drug lords and satanists *wanting* to "topel" capitalism makes me giddy.
poot!
So there.

[ Parent ]
Re: Good Gawd. (none / 0) (#101)
by Paul Dunne on Wed Sep 27, 2000 at 11:34:24 AM EST

Don't blame me, blame Gerald Holmes! Note that I give a link to the orginal site, and a citation at the end -- though this didn't stop one Mr. "Erotus" from saying here that I'd "stolen" it. Ho-hum. "Slashdot days are here again...".
http://dunne.home.dhs.org/
[ Parent ]
M$ depends on Windows (3.66 / 18) (#24)
by Majamba on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 12:40:26 PM EST

There will never be a Linux Ė Distro from M$.

  • M$ always develops main technologies on itís on. M$ has only licensed software like Backup Tools, Terminal Apps, Defrag Tools which are non essential to an OS. Everything else is developed 100% by M$ with specs only known by M$. The only exception Iím aware of are network protocols (where the have to comply) and Citrix ICA for Windows Terminals (where M$ couldnít develop itís own solution).
  • Linux hurts Windows sales. One of the advantages of NT was that it runs on cheap Intel Hardware (compared to high end Unix Boxes). This advantages is undermined with the availability of Linux and BSD (which makes things even cheaper).
  • Windows depends on Windows. You canít run a serious Windows Network without an additional primary domain controller + backup domain controller = M$ earns a fortune with server and per seat licenses.
  • Maybe we are going to see an Internet Explorer Version for Linux maybe even an Office version, but I bet there will never be a M$ Linux distro. Till then I think that we will have a lot of fun to see how M$ is going to port IE & Office to Mac OSX (Which is based on this 30 years old *NIX technology).



    Re: M$ depends on Windows (4.00 / 6) (#29)
    by MKalus on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 12:50:45 PM EST

    I woiuldn't be too sure that they DON'T have a Linux Distro. Why? Because IF they release office they also would have a distro with it. It's free for them anyways, but by pushing a Distro out they could convince corporate users only to buy the stuff from M$.

    A Distro only to hvae one? No, but in conjunction with an Office package it makes a LOT of sense for Microsoft.
    -- Michael
    [ Parent ]
    But what about... (3.00 / 6) (#31)
    by the coose on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 01:03:04 PM EST

    ...Win4Lin and VMWare? I hear Win4Lin runs '98 apps just fine and it's not bloatware like VMWare is. Version 2.0 supposed to have serial port support as well. The last I heard it runs Office and IE with no problems. And if it crashes, not a big deal. Re-start Windows while you continue working on your Linux desktop.

    I don't mean to sound like a Win4Lin sales person - I work with a guy who runs it and he was thoroughly impressed with it. My point is that with tools like these they do not have to release a Linux distro.

    [ Parent ]
    Win4Lin has very limited network support (3.40 / 5) (#40)
    by Majamba on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 01:28:39 PM EST

    Win4Lin is a real hack (it replaces a lot of Windows driver & dll during the windows setup). But the network support is very limited. Basically itís a standalone Windows + Winsocks (= Telnet, FTP, IE). That's it. No ping, no connection to a network share and nothing like Notes or Outlook.

    [ Parent ]
    Re: But what about... (none / 0) (#110)
    by MKalus on Sat Sep 30, 2000 at 12:30:48 AM EST

    Microsoft "needs" it's own distro IF they want to get in the market. And if it only is to create some phony certification sheme (like the device driver certification).

    Microsoft IS about "confidence" and if they sell software for the OS they want to have a say in what goes and not.

    BOB: "Hello this is Microsoft Tech Support, how can I help you?"

    Customer: "Yes hello, I bought Word for Linux and I have a <insert problem here>. Can you help me?"

    BOB: "Sure, what Linux Distribution are you running?"

    Customer: "Oh, I installed the latest SuSE version because it has all the latest patches for this FTP Exploit."

    BOB: "Well I am sorry Sir / Madam, we only tested Microsoft Word for Linux on the Microsoft Linux 3.1, please install this."

    Customer: "Yes, I tried this, but it didn't work very well, and there where a couple of security issues."

    Bob: <click>

    Or something along those lines....
    -- Michael
    [ Parent ]
    Re: M$ depends on Windows (3.14 / 7) (#30)
    by Anonymous 242 on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 12:54:58 PM EST

    M$ always develops main technologies on itís on. M$ has only licensed software like Backup Tools, Terminal Apps, Defrag Tools which are non essential to an OS. Everything else is developed 100% by M$ with specs only known by M$.

    On the OS front, Microsoft licensed code from Spyglass to create Internet Exploder. According to Microsoft, IE is an integral part of Windows. Of course, according to virtually everybody else, IE is just another application.

    The applications have an entirely different story. Most of Office was bought from one place or another.

    [ Parent ]

    Re: M$ depends on Windows (2.80 / 5) (#33)
    by Majamba on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 01:06:16 PM EST

    Thatís true.

    But in every cases M$ licensed the source code and took over the development completely. Like the did with and Quick and Dirty OS (which later became M$ Dos).



    [ Parent ]
    Re: M$ depends on Windows (3.42 / 7) (#32)
    by pope nihil on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 01:04:14 PM EST

    The licensing restrictions of the GPL would be more than enough to discourage Microsoft from making M$ Linux. Far more likely is the possibility that Microsoft would create M$ BSD. They could claim "Linux compatibility" while keeping their own modifications proprietary. IIRC, fyodor (of nmap fame) said there were some striking similarities between the Win2K tcp/ip stack and the BSD stack. Besides that, there is already precedent for big companies borrowing from BSD (Apple) and keeping the changes proprietary.

    I voted.

    [ Parent ]
    Re: M$ depends on Windows (2.80 / 5) (#37)
    by Majamba on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 01:19:46 PM EST

    As far as I know M$ has licensed the BSD TCP/IP stack. I never really understood the BSD license. But as far as I know you can either pay to get the code for commercial use or for free if you make your code available. Maybe if Linux is going to be really successful we are going to see some kind of Linux on Windows layer. Like the Posix implementation on WinNT.

    [ Parent ]
    No, BSD License is now a give-away. (4.14 / 7) (#41)
    by bkosse on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 01:29:15 PM EST

    Originally, the BSDL said that you had to give credit to the authors in a splash screen or similar. Well, the NT command line tools are based on BSD licensed tools (run strings on FTP.EXE some time), and there is no splash screen.

    Of course, they don't need that anymore since the BSDL changed, but even so, the way to circumvent the BSD license is as follows:
    1. Get code.
    2. Create an internal distribution under another license.
    3. Base all your code off the code you relicensed to yourself.

    The BSDL is basically only useful as a way to remove your liability.
    -- Ben Kosse
    [ Parent ]

    M$ Linux = MINIX (1.41 / 12) (#25)
    by t3df13dl3r on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 12:41:29 PM EST

    I don't this could happen unless M$ could find a way to charge for MINIX. Mabey they could sell you proprietary drivers or enhancement code/kernels/orifice...

    Re: M$ Linux = MINIX (2.00 / 6) (#27)
    by Funakoshi on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 12:46:05 PM EST

    There already is a MINIX, its what Linus based Linux on :)

    [ Parent ]
    Not quite. (2.00 / 6) (#39)
    by bkosse on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 01:23:52 PM EST

    Linus developed Linux on top of Minix, but there ain't no Minix code in Linux. Plus, Linux is a monolithic kernel while Minix is a microkernel. Linus wouldn't have even developed Linux if Minix had kept up with the times, though.
    -- Ben Kosse
    [ Parent ]
    minix is _not_ free (2.00 / 1) (#85)
    by Justinfinity on Wed Sep 27, 2000 at 01:41:35 AM EST

    MINIX was one of the few Unices for the 386 system. Linus wanted something less expensive than the commercial MINIX,so he started Linux. he saw that it was Cool and that other people liked it, so he released it to the world. it was improved and enhanced and continues to be. that is linux

    -justin
    [ Parent ]
    Minix *IS* now free. (3.00 / 1) (#95)
    by bkosse on Wed Sep 27, 2000 at 09:31:54 AM EST

    And it was free as in beer when Linus was in school, but the only thing you could do for distribution was to send patches to the original code. That, and Minix was woefully feature-short at the time (no swap, for example).
    -- Ben Kosse
    [ Parent ]
    Minix information (none / 0) (#102)
    by Aquarius on Wed Sep 27, 2000 at 11:48:36 AM EST

    As it happens, Minix wasn't just for 386s, it also ran on the 286 and the 8086 (as well as the 8088, iirc), and continues to do so. It's still under development, but not that *much* development. Its intention was to be a small, easy to understand teaching system, and as that it works well. It's also nice if you want a bash shell on your 286. :-)

    One of the issues in the Linus Torvalds/Andy Tanenbaum flamewar/discussion on comp.os.minix revolved around Linus suggesting that Minix was hobbled by its portability to machines with no resources.

    There is a "souped-up" version of Minix called Minix-vmd, built by Kees J Bot and Philip Homburg, which is limited to 386s and above (as stock Linux is), and can therefore take advantage of the greater power in 386+ machines to run X and so on.

    Aq.


    "The grand plan that is Aquarius proceeds apace" -- Ronin, Frank Miller
    [ Parent ]
    Re: M$ Linux = MINIX (2.80 / 5) (#35)
    by westlake on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 01:15:37 PM EST

    Actually, I prefer the term used in one of the UserFriendly comic strips.... "Windex, for cleaner shinier Windows."
    Never fails to crack me up....

    Yet another fine example of anarchy in action
    [ Parent ]
    It will probably happen when .NET hits the market (3.33 / 12) (#47)
    by Bloodwine on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 01:43:25 PM EST

    I'm not terribly familar with .NET, but from what I understand it's basically charging a monthly fee to use M$ Office (which stores all your personal, private documents on a company server... yech).

    I foresee M$ making an M$-approved Linux distro for use with their .NET network. Or maybe they'll just release some more adhoc-crap binaries for existing distros (if anyone has ever messed with Frontpage extensions for *nix, then you know what I mean).

    I see Microsoft trying to make it easy for anybody, no matter what OS they use, to pay for .NET services.

    It will be interesting to see people's reactions to .NET when it hits the market. "You mean I have to pay monthly to write documents and store charts?"

    M$ hasn't done too good with 2000/Me... which makes .NET look like vaporware (or it'll actually hit the streets, but nobody will want to pay for it).

    MS Linux would be an admission of failure (2.77 / 9) (#50)
    by KindBud on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 02:05:45 PM EST

    They "bet the company" on Microsoft-dot-NET, remember? The only way I see this happening is if dot-NET runs aground with Win2K running it. And then I see MS going with Sun or HP to fill in the gap, not Linux.

    If a MS Linux distro is ever produced, we should have a big party out in the desert so RMS can fire his guns into the air in celebration of the Victory of Open Source.

    --
    just roll a fatty

    Re: MS Linux would be an admission of failure (3.00 / 2) (#60)
    by skim123 on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 04:21:50 PM EST

    They "bet the company" on Microsoft-dot-NET, remember

    But .NET uses a common runtime library, programs are compiled to bytecode... so... why not create a MS Linux distro with closed source libraries that can interpret this .NET bytecode? Imagine being able to buy Microsoft Office and pop the CD in either MS Linux or Microsoft Windows, the same shit's installed and runs and looks the same.

    Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
    PT Barnum


    [ Parent ]
    Re: MS Linux would be an admission of failure (3.00 / 3) (#66)
    by vsync on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 04:42:06 PM EST

    If a MS Linux distro is ever produced, we should have a big party out in the desert so RMS can fire his guns into the air in celebration of the Victory of Open Source.

    Probably you mean ESR, since he's the one who's a huge gun fan and uses the phrase "Open Source". =)

    --
    "The problem I had with the story, before I even finished reading, was the copious attribution of thoughts and ideas to vsync. What made it worse was the ones attributed to him were the only ones that made any sense whatsoever."
    [ Parent ]

    I don't think they can right now... (3.00 / 7) (#52)
    by slambo on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 02:32:55 PM EST

    ISTR reading somewhere that MS was legally prohibited from producing a flavor of UN*X. Wasn't there an injunction against that in the mid-80s?
    --
    Sean Lamb
    "A day without laughter is a day wasted." -- Groucho Marx
    What would I do? Nothing. (4.05 / 17) (#53)
    by Hard_Code on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 02:44:00 PM EST

    What would I do? Nothing. As long as they stick to the GPL we "win". There is no sense stopping Microsoft from participating in open source. Let them. Actually, persuade them if you can. A lot of people have pointless anti-Microsoft mentalities when they really should have pro-Free-Software mentalities. If Microsoft plays by the rules, Free Software wins out. As long as the playing field is kept level by open source, the best product wins.

    Jazilla - the pure Java browser
    The core issue (3.50 / 6) (#54)
    by dreamfish on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 02:59:23 PM EST

    The issue I was trying to cover in the article wasn't whether Microsoft would create it's own 'extended' distribution (it's about as likely as not that they would ever do this) but how individual hackers and the open-source community at large would deal with this; more specifically, whether they feel there is anything they could do.

    If Microsoft chose to flout the GPL for the sake of gaining a new OS revenue stream would anyone attempt to challenge this in court? Who would lead this challenge: an individual, group, consortium (like FSF) or a company heavily involved in open-source like RedHat or O'Reilly? How much support would they get from individuals and what form would this take?

    I was trying to determine whether a world-wide, disparate association of hackers would form a united front or whether you think there would be general apathy - "I'll leave it to someone else to take up the fight".

    Re: The core issue (4.50 / 4) (#61)
    by Carnage4Life on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 04:26:00 PM EST

    The issue I was trying to cover in the article wasn't whether Microsoft would create it's own 'extended' distribution (it's about as likely as not that they would ever do this) but how individual hackers and the open-source community at large would deal with this; more specifically, whether they feel there is anything they could do.

    Why should the Open Source community have to do anything? Such thinking is in violation of the spirit of the GPL which is share-and-share-alike. The very nature of the GPL is means that anyone can create a Linux distro at anytime or even fork the Linux kernel (as has been done by all the folks developing real-time versions of Linux).

    Frankly, I'd be very glad if Microsoft created a Linux distro. Some of the smartest people I have ever met work there or have worked there. Having them working on a Linux distro would make me feel more confidence than what I feel for some of the current Linux projects, especially since their changes would have to be GPLed. This means we all win. It'd be nice if for a change I could actually get a decent browser in Linux that supported most of the standards or could use distributed Office productivity software on my Linux box over my home network. Their developers have experience in these fields than anyone else on the planet. Why shouldn't we want them working on Linux?

    If Microsoft chose to flout the GPL for the sake of gaining a new OS revenue stream would anyone attempt to challenge this in court? Who would lead this challenge: an individual, group, consortium (like FSF) or a company heavily involved in open-source like RedHat or O'Reilly? How much support would they get from individuals and what form would this take?

    Why would they violate the GPL? MSFT hasn't gotten where they are today by being stupid and violating the GPL is the stupidest thing a company as hated as MSFT by the Open Source community can do. I don't understand why some people always ascribe such unthinking malevolence to the Redmond crowd when describing scenarios as you have just done.

    [ Parent ]
    More concerns (3.42 / 7) (#55)
    by satai on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 03:27:26 PM EST

    I'd be most concerned that Microsoft would scrutinize the GPL - untested last time I read - and find some manner of circumventing it, utilizing the DMCA or UCITA or whatever neccessary to prevent the release of code that ought to be GPLed, by all rights. I can also imagine Microsoft making the set of GNU tools that comes standard into a set of 'user-friendly' devices - imagine grep as envisioned by Microsoft.

    But before even considering any of this valid, we have to imagine the stereotypical mindset that approaches any new product by Microsoft.

    First, the idea comes around that it's time to create a *BSD or *NIX type Operating System.

    Then, the execs poke and prod it and ultimately decide that without major revisions it becomes a nightmare to sell to consumers - especially a generation of consumers raised on books prefaced by self-applied derogatory nomenclature (Dummies, Idiots, etc.)

    Following logically, they set out not only to make the upper workings easy to use, but to transform the lower-workings into a unified system. For instance - ditch seperate files for XF86, hosts, inetd and so on and unify them in one large file, so that users need only look there. In addition, why not make the prompt and so forth a little bit easier to use? Or even make the prompt obsolete through a exclusively graphical user-interface?

    And of course the entire source-compilation thing has to be scratched. No one likes to look at line after line of make output dumped to the screen, scrolling like some obscene relic from a Terry Gilliam nightmare. Everybody has to install from a pre-compiled binary.

    And lose the devices-as-files angle, it makes for an ugly directory structure.

    Once we've got the specs outlined, it becomes obvious that the major restructuring needed would only be feasible through a complete rewrite of the kernel.

    And as long as we're doing that, why not slap a nice closed-source license on it? Or even call it Windows. Or especially call it Windows.

    It strikes me that, at first, the idea of Microsoft doing Linux is *very* scary - because we don't know where they'd go. But at second glance, what would the point be? They already have an operating system with a stranglehold on the market (for now) and why would they have to invent an entirely new, incompatible and unneccessary one? If they wanted to do something different with Windows 2000 than they did - i.e. make it more BSDish / Unixish - they would have. But they didn't. So I wouldn't worry about it.

    Microsoft has already Microsoftized the Unices of the world - and they call it Windows.

    surprising, but.. (1.66 / 6) (#56)
    by AgentGray on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 03:42:22 PM EST

    Don't think that Microsoft hasn't thought about it.

    BTW, I have been at K5 since just before the Great Crash of '00 and a member since the Great Awakening of '00. This has been the most thought provoking article I've read yet.

    What's the problem? (3.00 / 6) (#57)
    by 31: on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 04:04:50 PM EST

    So if they make a version of linux, it may take away from current linux company's share in the market... but so what? Are you really that concerned about redhat's profitability?

    And if they made changes, they'd need to GPL it... and if they modified the kernel significatnly, Linus could keep them from calling it linux...

    So, they'd either need to play fair, or get sued for copyright infringment... and if they did release a version... well, it'd be an odd precident, an MS product released with source...

    -Patrick
    Microsoft Linux; The UN-UNIX (3.69 / 13) (#58)
    by scross on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 04:14:56 PM EST

    The thing about UNIX - and Linux and *BSD by logical extention - is that it is a conceptual way of looking a computing problems and then creating an implementation of that concept. A big piece of the UNIX concept is all the user space applications. You see them all the time, inetd or ls

    The NT Kernel and UNIX Kernel aren't really that far apart. Oh sure the API is very different, but both have files, sockets, shared memory, semaphores, device abstraction, ... yada, yada ...

    The big difference is everything that runs in user space. My vision of a Microsoft Linux is one where they ported the GDI (Graphics Device Interface) layer and rewrote the OpenFile function to call the _open kernel interface and built closed source applications and administrative tools on top of a Linux kernel.

    This is a world with no grep or sendmail or apache. There would be no config files because non of the regular UNIX daemons would be there.

    There are lots of companies who create closed source applications on top of an open source operating system. Consider the folks at TIVO. Yes they've been compelled to release their kernel modifications.

    Microsoft Linux would look and feel like Windows not UNIX.
    Cheers, Sarah

    Re: Microsoft Linux; The UN-UNIX (3.80 / 5) (#59)
    by Delirium on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 04:19:50 PM EST

    I don't see how this has anything to do with whether an OS is UNIX or not. I have grep, diff, patch, apache, and even gcc on my box, and I often use a command-line interface for routine computing tasks. And I do all this on win98. Does that mean my installation of win98 is a UNIX? Obviously not.

    UNIX is an OS design, not a particular set of apps or "feel." You can install KDE and never mess with the config files - the goal is eventually to get something that "feels" like Windows or MacOS - but it will still be a UNIX, just like my command-line-oriented win98 with GNU tools is still not UNIX.

    So, yes, I think a Microsoft Linux would still be UNIX, as long as the basic design of the operating system remained the same (by this I mean the internals, such as running everything in userspace, not the external aspects such as user interface).

    [ Parent ]

    If it made good financial sense, they would do it (3.00 / 4) (#62)
    by Argyle on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 04:28:06 PM EST

    In a big business like Microsoft, it's all about the financial bottom line. If they can see a way to make long term money on Open Source, they will do it.

    Everything Microsoft does is focused on making money. Ego really doesn't com into play.

    Personally, I don't care about who makes the distro very much. Past the install, you're pretty much on your own. The real difference is the applications you use and how they run under hte different window managers. It's the applications that make a difference to me.

    Call me the DA (Devil's Advicate, not dumbass) (4.60 / 15) (#67)
    by Obiwan Kenobi on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 05:02:23 PM EST

    Microsoft making it's own version of Linux would be the best thing that ever happened to the OS.

    Got your attention yet? Good. Let's break it down:

    It would make a solid/accepted User Interface Let's face it: there is no sure-fire accepted user interface for Linux. A few guys have great ideas (Gnome, KDE, Enlightment is really pretty, etc) but they can't converge on one "accepted" user interface. This, depending on who you talk to, is a good or bad thing. It's bad to those who want a selection. A selection (aka variety) is the spice of life, sure. However, one accepted interface could simply converge all those great desktops into one that would be coded and used by most/all. It could be bad, sure, but it could be what could start the Linux Revolution.

    It could bring games to Linux: You see any games announced for Linux? Yeah, me neither. A few game companies (Id software for one, God bless em) have done ports of their games, but that's AFTER the fact. Games, as it stands, aren't viable in Linux. At all. There are too many libraries to download, too much shit to deal with other than simply running setup and watching it work. Id even tried bringing out a seperate version of Quake3 for Linux retail-wise and guess what. It didn't sell dick. They made the win32, mac, and Linux binaries available, asking the world to please wait a week or so and buy the Linux version so they could show the industry it WAS a viable platform, and we all know what happened there. Microsoft making games and peripherals for the OS would then tell the rest of the planet this WAS the OS to code for, to make commercial programs available for, and to support the OS like it's never been supported before. Sure there are bunches of games with ports. But that's all after the fact still. They're simply done as a "good-will" measure toward the Linux community, in hopes that even though they're still helping 'the man' in the conquest of the world, they can still support the 'er33t hax0r' and /. people o' the planet.

    and finally:

    It would bring the best programs to Linux: Whoa now, I think I just broke the floodgates. However, this is the straw that could break the 'unprofitable OS's' back. Now, if anyone's used WordPerfect they know that MS Office or Word inpaticular beats the living shit out of it. I'm sorry, I said it. Now, having used WP in Linux, I can tell you: Word in Linux would be the best thing since sliced bread. WP is a hulking monster of a program, always has been, well, since it's been in Windows anyway (the DOS versions are STILL being used today, trust me). MS Office in Linux could single-handidly take this OS and show the world why it should invest in it. Word, Powerpoint, Outlook, Access, etc would be great in Linux. They would (hopefully, and this is all hopefully anyway) run better, be more efficient (something I highly doubt COULD come from Microsoft, but it's a possibility) and be easily-installable (something Linux STILL hasn't gotten right with its 4-5 packaging systems which ALL suck). MS Office is simply the flagship for Windows en large. Without a powerful Office suite you don't have much of a commercially viable OS. Linux has Star Office, that nobody uses, Corel Office, which isn't making a dime, and I can't think of any others (I'm sure I'll get corrected on 90% of this comment anyway). Simply put, if a MS Office port was done, Linux would burst through the roof as far as acceptance in homes across the country. This is MS's most used and most user-friendly software. This software, other than games, is what makes most people use Windows.

    This is just a beginning. I could go on. You know I could.
    -----------
    Obiwan
    misterorange.com - The 3 R's: Reading, Writing, and Rock & Roll...

    Linux Office (2.50 / 4) (#70)
    by Daemosthenes on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 05:43:47 PM EST

    Have you ever tried Abiword in Linux as a substitue for MSWord? It's able to read files of the .doc format (can't write it...yet), it has many of the features of word, and almost the exact same feel. While I'm not telling everyone to go out and dump emacs or vi in favor of it, I can see in Abiword the beginnings of a contender to MSWord. I'm not even discussing StarOffice in this post. The main point is that there are lots of alternatives to MSWord out there, some almost as good if not better. The only problem is that they are not publicized enough to attract as many users as MS. That's where we come in. Continue to use Linux word processors; spread the word. There are loads of decent office applications; we just need to tell people about them.

    -
    [ Parent ]
    Re: Linux Office (3.00 / 4) (#78)
    by robgrant on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 08:45:13 PM EST

    Careful there...emacs and vi are text editors; AbiWord is a word processor. The former is designed only to view and edit plain text. The latter is generally used to format text for printing.
    "You can't get that stuff in Holland" --Mike Portnoy
    [ Parent ]
    Re: Linux Office (1.00 / 1) (#80)
    by Daemosthenes on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 09:49:35 PM EST

    A valid point, but I know folks who -only- use vi or emacs for text editing and as a "word processor". Thanks for the clarification though. :)

    -
    [ Parent ]
    Re: Linux Office (none / 0) (#81)
    by Daemosthenes on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 09:49:35 PM EST

    A valid point, but I know folks who -only- use vi or emacs for text editing and as a "word processor". Thanks for the clarification though. :)

    -
    [ Parent ]
    Re: Call me the DA (Devil's Advicate, not dumbass) (4.10 / 10) (#71)
    by BryanFeeney on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 05:58:35 PM EST

    I'm just going to correct you on 89% of that comment ;)

    Cause a good chunk of your argument has flaws IMHO

    Firstly the variety of user interfaces is not an issue. You could easily set up just one with the login programs, say KDE. Then people would only have one interface to support. Moreover all the programs from Gnome, Lesstiff and KDE would still work, and as they all follow the same conventions set down by Xerox/Apple, users would have little, if any, difficulty switching between them. In fact, it's possible to make the KDE 2 environment look exactly like that used by Gnome, further disguising the difference.

    With regard to ID games, exactly how many Linux copies did you see in the shops. Let me guess, none. It's a vicious circle, shops won't stock games till they sell, and games won't sell unless they are easily available, i.e. in a shop. If ID included the linux binary in the box it would have sold by a considerable margin. As it is Loki Software have ported a few good games to Linux, like Myth 2, Descent III, Civ II and more.

    I still have to admit, the games situation wrt Linux is pretty feeble. In particular, up till around a month ago, it was exceptionally difficult to set up a 3D card. However Loki have been very firmly in the black, which would suggest that things are looking up.

    With regard to programs, MS Office is definitely the best suite out there, but KOffice comes very close. StarOffice has all the functionality but the performance is dire. That may change when things are bonobised. And Linux has some excellent programs itself, such as the CyCas CAD app, the Blender 3D render, The Gnu Image Manipulation Program (a photoshop clone), excellent server tools and excellent development tools (and don't give me any rubbish about the CLI: Kdevelop and Glade both offer RAD functionalities and in the case of the former, a well developed IDE with integrated debugger and CVS client to facilitate networking on a project).

    You have a point about package systems. Linux really is crying out for a common standard. However both RPM (in all its incarnations) and apt are both very powerful and very easy to use. It's completely GUI driven (thanks to KPackage, gnorpm, gnome-apt, YaST, etc.) and warns you if you are deleting something on which other programs depend, or if you need a certain library/program for whatever your installing to work. MS is only just beginning to build in this kind of functionality.

    With regard to the libraries situation, I've only met that once. As long as you keep your distro fairly current (a big caveat I know) you shouldn't have any problems. Even as it is, it has onlu been with Gnome that I have met any serious difficulties, and that was because of the release of Gnome 1.2 (a major step forward, despite the version number) a few months ago, while I still had Gnome 1.0 from my previous distro.

    To be honest I'm surprised Microsoft hasn't tried the embrace/extend manoever already, they could easily flatten Linux with it. I guess embracing would involve too much back-tracking on their position. The corporate mind tends to ossify under the burden of conservatism. I could easily see suits buy into MS Linux, ignoring warnings from all quarters, even Sun, regarding non-standard extensions. I guess the only problem would be that the Free Software naturn of the endeavour would prevent them from ever dropping it, the final part of the manoever. If they did, the market they built up would simply move to Mandrake, SuSE or whatever. They would have to work hard to discredit Linux to prevent that (probably via an "upgrade page" terminating at W2K).

    Just my two pence.
    --
    Bryan Feeney - http://www.bfeeney.uklinux.net/
    "I still miss Windows, but my aiim is getting better."
    [ Parent ]
    Word vs Wordperfect (3.57 / 7) (#74)
    by pwhysall on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 06:25:58 PM EST

    For actual writing, Wordperfect kicks seven bells out of Word.

    It's substantially better in several key areas:

    • Tables. Wordperfect's table handling is far superior.
    • Footnotes and endnotes. These are very important when writing formal documents
    • Reveal Codes. This function is absolutely not present in Word.
    • Dealing with nested numbered/listed bits of text
    • It has a better equation editor. Specialist stuff, but still...
    • The speller is better. Dunno why, it just is.
    • It's better at dealing with graphics on a page. Word doesn't do things like captions and floating graphics very well.
    • Wordperfect actually balances columns properly.
    • Wordperfect is cheaper.

    Word may have some wazzy bells and whistles, but Wordperfect is the better writing tool.
    --
    Peter
    K5 Editors
    I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
    CheeseBurgerBrown
    [ Parent ]

    Re: Word vs Wordperfect (2.80 / 5) (#77)
    by FlinkDelDinky on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 08:40:17 PM EST

    I'm just chimming in with some worthless drivil (that you may want to look in to).

    Word and WordPerfect are both very nice softwares but if you're willing to put in a little effort you may want to look into Lyx.

    Lyx is a front end to Latex. If you do a lot of specialized stuff like equations or scholalary (<- I just made that word up because I'm a GENIUS) papers, or anything really structured like maybe legal documents then it may actually be the best thing out there.

    I don't use it much but it's very well documented with a few manuals on its use. Definately worth a look for a complex (or simple) document.

    Here is their homepage.

    [ Parent ]

    Re: Word vs Wordperfect (3.50 / 2) (#105)
    by IoaPetraka on Wed Sep 27, 2000 at 07:19:13 PM EST

    A few important things to consider, while on the topic of LyX.

    Perhaps the most compelling feature of writing with LyX is the ability to write without being pestered by the interface. In this respect, Word comes out dead at the bottom. It's interface does everything it possibly can to get in your way. I know people who, not being as computer savvy as others, still have the little dancing OfficeHelpers because they do not know how to get rid of them.

    Beyond the issue of interface, LyX is designed on the same principle that LaTeX is designed on: Write without worrying about formatting. Too many word processors push the user towards formatting while typing, this slows down the brain and leads to getting writer's block much quicker.

    With LyX much of the formatting is done intelligently, and without your intervention in the slightest. The most you have to do is tell LyX what type of text you are typing (Chapter title, text block, quote, ect). Since these are an easy to remember keystroke away, it takes a very minimal amount of brain effort to worry about them.

    Not only that, it will construct a table of contents intelligently, bibliography, footnotes, and more by doing nothing more than what I just described above. Need to insert a section between two that are already written? No problem! Move right above the lower section, enter Section mode, type your title and you are off. Everything reformats and adjusts to what you just did.

    I know that some word processors do offer these features, but I have not found them to be nearly as simple and easy to use, or as brainless. Remember, brainless is an important facet of writing when it comes to these types of things. You need your mind to be on the text not the bibliography.

    Then there is the portability aspect. Since LyX uses the venerable LaTeX macro language which sits on top of the even more venerable TeX typesetting engine, you can't go wrong there. Your document is going to look identical no matter where you insert the floppy disk. Take it to a printer, and it will look the same. (But now with spiffy covers and that wonderful new book smell)

    Another VERY nice feature that you don't think of until after the catastrophy is crash protection. If LyX crashes for some reason, fear not, you document is safe. How many times have you gotten into the flow of writing with Word, only to have it crash and lose the last two hours of work? AutoSave helps, but it slows your writing down every 15 minutes(or whatever you set it to).

    So, what are the Cons of LyX? The number one disadvantage right now is its state of development. It isn't full featured yet. Don't let that scare you off. There are plenty enough features to keep most writers going for a Long time. Right now, I can't think of any that I desperately need.

    Since LyX is a type without thinking of formatting program, it needs good templates to let you pull that off. Templates exist for most needs, but if you are writing something that does not fall into a nice template category you'll find yourself deep in LaTeX territory quickly. Again, I have yet to hit a project that did not fall into a template category, so it isn't of much concern to 90% of the people.

    That's about it. I suggest you give it an open-minded try. It feels a little bit weird at first because we are used to typing into a word processor that isn't doing anything for us, once you get the hang of it though, you will find that your writing endurance will increase dramatically.

    .:.
    Ioa Aqualine Petra'ka
    [ Parent ]

    Re: Word vs Wordperfect (2.00 / 1) (#98)
    by Aquarius on Wed Sep 27, 2000 at 10:34:40 AM EST

    Interesting. I, personally, find Word quite significantly easier to use than WP. I do think that WP has a better selection of features than Word (although I'd consider an equation editor to be one of WP's own "wazzy bells and whistles" -- each to what each requires). This probably means that WP is better for the "serious" writer (who is prepared to spend time getting to know the package and will thus reap the benefits of the greater professionalism in the tool), whereas Word is better for the hobbyist or occasional user (who wants ease-of-use from the outset, and has a less narrowly-focused set of requirements for tools (hence bells and whistles) but won't be so concerned about perfection in table- or footnote-handling).

    Aq.


    "The grand plan that is Aquarius proceeds apace" -- Ronin, Frank Miller
    [ Parent ]
    Re: Call me the DA (Linux Games) (1.25 / 4) (#84)
    by kellyrc on Wed Sep 27, 2000 at 01:11:26 AM EST

    Regarding availability of games for Linux: Loki

    [ Parent ]
    You've all forgotten .NET! (3.00 / 6) (#68)
    by Solaarius on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 05:21:54 PM EST

    Microsoft doesn't care about software. By this time next year they won't even be a software company.

    Producing a Linux dist. would be just another way to point users at their online software systems where users will have to pay per use, regardless of their OS.

    Wouldn't that be fun? No more software updates because instead of "buying" a new version of Office, the website gets updated. <sarcasm>But I bet the fees wouldn't be "updated" every time, though, because M$ is just such a kind, generous company.</sarcasm>

    I personally do hope they abandon development of software for distribution. People - even "normal" people like your Mom - might want to start using Open Source software like StarOffice, if only to not have to "conveniently" store their .doc's on M$'s proprietary servers. <naivety>"They wouldn't look through our files, would they?"</naivety>
    ----

    "The Age was called Dark not because there was no Light, but rather because the People refused to see It."

    1. Why bother? 2. What is Linux? 3. Range of GPL (3.83 / 6) (#72)
    by jck2000 on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 06:22:06 PM EST

    Some thoughts:

    1. Why bother? While Linux's market share is small today, it will expand significantly in the near future, particularly (i) as more user-friendly distros, GUIs, apps, etc. get produced, making Linux useable by computer novices, (ii) as non-traditional computing devices (set-top boxes, thin clients, etc.) become more widespread (which will need a free OS/environment in order to be saleable for $199 -- which is probably what Win2002 + MS Office 2002 would cost) and (iii) in non-Western countries where (A) computer usage is currently quite low, (B) current income levels may not support $200+ per PC in software costs and (C) governments are reluctant to cede as strategic a national asset as production of the dominant OS to a foreign private company (see China & Linux).

    For MS to ensure that its applications (principally MS Office and IE, and the .NET initiatives that depend on them) maintain dominant market share overall (which is crucial to their continued dominance in the Windows world), they will need to expand to the newly popular Linux platform. In the short term, MS's better strategy is not to support Linux and thus slow its growth, but for the reasons set forth above, I think eventually (2 to 3 yrs, depending on antitrust lawsuit) MS will be forced to do so.

    Once it ported its apps to Linux, MS would then be foolish not to support its applications offerings by having its own version of Linux. The question I have is would MS be content with playing the Open Source game on the OS side in order to support its closed-source applications business or would it try to offer a highly proprietized OS? I think the resolution of the antitrust suit will obviously have a big role here. If the break-up goes through (and I'm betting that it will, despite the Supreme Court's refusal (on technical grounds) to take a direct appeal), MSApps would probably roll out MSApps Linux in short order (pulling a Mandrake, if necessary), while MSOS would have less incentive/ability to roll out MS OS Linux and probably would not be able to roll out "MSOS Office" -- that is, post-break-up, I think MSApps is in a much better position than MSOS.

    2. What is Linux? Basic stuff: As any non-newbie knows, technically, Linux is the kernel, which is essentially the hardware interface of the system, the scheduler of processes, etc. Associated with the kernel are various more-or-less (ha-ha) essential parts of a working Linux system, including various GNU and Unix command line utilities and (if you want a GUI) X Windows, a window manager and a desktop environment like KDE or Helix, which are all "userland" applications and not part of the kernel. Most of these apps that we know and love happen, like the kernel to be GPL'd (or have readily available GPL versions). To do much with a system, one needs other applications, like a word-processor, spread sheet, browser, webserver, IRC client, first-person shooter game, compilers and interpreters, IDEs, etc. Fortunately, there also exist very good GLP'd versions most of these.

    3. Range of GPL. The GPL would essentially require MS to make any "improvements" to the kernel or any of the GPL'd userland applications public, but nothing would stop them from building from scratch or buying/licensing non-GPL userland apps and developing them along their own lines. Repeat after me: the GPL to which the Linux kernel and key associated apps are subject does not require that apps that are produced to work under Linux be GPL. Even kernel improvements may not necessarily be subject to the GPL -- think of the binary non-GLP modules produced by Lucent for its modem, for instance. (I believe the GPL situation regarding shared libraries may not even be unambiguous). Thus, if MS didn't mind reinventing the wheel or paying for it, it would not be too hard for it to produce a proprietized version of Linux and have few if any GLP source code obligations. Note that RedHat could do the same thing -- one reason I think I would jump distros next time around (probably buy the Mandrake 7.x disks when it comes with KDE 2.0 final).

    Bottom Line: The Borg is coming at us, Captain! I can only hope that "free" alternatives and open standards (HTML 4.0, XML document formats, etc.) establish themselves sufficiently with enough people (and people value their freedom enough) to reject the kool aid.

    The argument grows tiresome... (3.42 / 7) (#73)
    by transiit on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 06:23:28 PM EST

    This whole thing hearkens back to the just about every discussion that's been had over any business entity vs. linux. It's getting somewhat old. Consider my interpretation of the spirit of the community: We make software and release source for the good of the community. There are some stray elements of personal glory involved, but primarily, these are tools that are useful, to ourselves, and others. Take note that any of your favorite open-source-friendly licences do not put restrictions on who can or can't use our creations, or how they can use them. (Granted, there are some restictions placed upon what happens if you do not follow the terms of the license (i.e., not releasing source when obligated to do so)). We keep hearing the same crap over and over again talking about how business is just trying to exploit our work, and we have yet to see it happen. Redhat might not make the best technical decisions, but it's hard to argue that they don't try to give back to the community. VA Linux, a company that's been villified lately (for reasons unknown to me), has done a huge amount to repay the community for its efforts. Along the way, there have been some incidents of companies violtaing the GPL, but I don't know of a single instance where some friendly prodding (or impulsive flaming) didn't lead to a good resolution.

    Either way, so what if microsoft decides it wants to get into the linux game? Isn't widespread acceptance one of the things a number of us have been fighting for all along? It isn't like Microsoft entering the market would mean the sooner-than-instant death of the current distributions...and they couldn't play their silly little games like they have on their own platform. (Really. How the hell could MS force slackware to bundle Word for Linux? Internet Explorer in the kernel? Unlikely.) If they follow the basic rules (GPL or whatever), what problem would there be? Project maintainers are not forced to incorporate patches unless they want to. It could lead to a massive parallel code fork, but we pride ourselves on how adaptable we are...if it turns into compatibility issues, we could come up with some answer (my first choice would be to not use the offending software =)

    So maybe we can put this issue to rest for a while? If MS wants to play, I say we let them. The community does bad things to themselves when they start being exclusionary.

    -transiit

    Re: The argument grows tiresome... (2.33 / 3) (#79)
    by pope nihil on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 09:30:00 PM EST

    Here's a scenario for you.

    Suppose M$ creates their own distro. That's nice. Now they release M$ Office 2000, M$ IE, et al, for M$ Linux. They could put subtle "gotchas" in their proprietary code to make it NOT run on any distro other than M$ Linux. That way, they get in on the whole Linux band-wagon, while still locking corporate desktop users into M$. Not very likely, but not a very nice possibility either.

    I voted.

    [ Parent ]
    Re: The argument grows tiresome... (4.00 / 2) (#82)
    by transiit on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 10:49:38 PM EST

    It wouldn't be the first time we've had this problem. Remember when redhat jumped the gun on glibc? We suddenly saw an increase in every major distro scrambling to update their libs because so many packages were getting updated in such a way that libc5 just wasn't happening anymore (my thanks to both debian and slackware for taking the path of sanity). Heck, we still have very distribution-specific stuff now...ever noticed that some of the shrinkwrapped commercial apps tend not to say "For Linux" as common as they say "For RedHat Linux"? Either way, I see nothing compelling about using a microsoft application under any platform -- their only advantage was that they tricked so many people into their proprietary file formats. Elsewhere on this thread, somebody was talking about Word being vastly superior to Wordperfect, but I'd go so far as to say that neither merit use. Large. Unstable. Inefficient. If the GPL'd StarOffice comes to fruition, there's a good possibility the microsoft office suite won't be a point for them to leverage in the first place.

    So let's assume that Microsoft does try to use their applications to overtake Linux. Where do they currently stand out? Browser? All reports of IE for solaris is that it's just a hack that makes for a huge and unstable mess (my opinion of IE-win32 isn't much different tho. Not the point). Office? Between Wordperfect, Applix, and StarOffice, they've got some serious ground to catch up on...if we're to believe them, they haven't even started a port to begin with (and who wants to bet that they'd just port a large amount of the win-api to get it working? Sounds like another huge mess and ugly hack.)

    Also keep in mind what microsoft's traditional playing field has been. Drop unpublicized functionality into the api for their applications to use/take advantage of. Granted, they could make their own kernel version for some of this (but we'd see the changes assuming they complied with the gpl). If they started monkeying around with the x libraries, we'd have a bigger problem...but that can be debated to death in one of the neverending license wars.

    Microsoft is going to do whatever it wants. The best way to keep their grubby practices out of our hair is to consistently outperform them. I have faith in the community that we can do it.

    -transiit

    [ Parent ]
    MS isn't the "Great Evil" (2.80 / 5) (#75)
    by Dacta on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 07:19:25 PM EST

    So what if MS created their own distribution? If they abided by the GPL, it would be great for Open Source software.

    Everything MS does isn't evil, you know. Some of their stuff is pretty nice, and they are learning (slowly) about having a more open and accountable development process, which has always been my biggest problem with them.

    For instance, their XML parser/XSLT processor is quickly making progress towards full standards compliance. They are releasing new beta (but production quality) versions every 2 months or so, and it has progressed from being 60% compliant (measured against the OAISE test suite) at the beginning of the year to over 95% compliant in the most recent release. That makes it the most compliant of any non-open source XML product available. They even make their bug database availible directly from the download page.

    Same with their SOAP stuff - they are truely interested in interoperbility. People may argue that that is because they want SOAP to become invasive, and then make money on having the best tools. I agree, and I think that is a perfectly fair and reasonable strategy. I like good tools. OTOH, I think the Apache group and IBM might have a few weapons of their own in the "best SOAP tool" war.



    Re: MS isn't the "Great Evil" (2.00 / 1) (#91)
    by andmann on Wed Sep 27, 2000 at 04:39:41 AM EST

    It's not so much that MS would create their distribution. It's more that if they would, they would be in an "interesting" position. John Doe would maybe start using linux, too, but do you really think he would have any idea who really created those tools? Do you think he even had any idea that the OS was by volunteers, and not by microsoft programmers?

    They would think microsoft created linux, KDE, the whole lot.

    This tactic has been played by microsoft before, many times. Personally, what I would do if it happened, is I'd stick with linux, until the surge of John Does joins and the above happens. Then I move on (I Hear FreeBSD is quite nice... maybe we hackers could take the linux kernel and build our own os... :)

    [ Parent ]

    Re: MS isn't the "Great Evil" (none / 0) (#107)
    by zakalwe on Thu Sep 28, 2000 at 09:55:58 AM EST

    I don't really understand this. Yes it would be a rather dirty trick if MS does something like this, but you seem to be implying that if someone did this then Linux would somehow be sullied in some way. How does the fact that Microsoft has a distribution affect the quality of my completely independant Debian system? Disagreeing with Microsoft's actions is a perfectly good reason to shun their product, but not a whole set of different products that just happen to use the same technology.

    The only real reason I can see for this is the so called 'leet factor - "I don't want to use the same OS that all the other 'John Does' use." But this seems to me to be a completely stupid reason for choice of OS. If an OS is good when it's relatively obscure how does it become bad just bacuase it becomes popular?

    [ Parent ]

    Nothing. (2.16 / 6) (#76)
    by Dolgan on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 07:19:51 PM EST

    Really.

    Nothing.

    I'm serious.

    Oil and water (3.25 / 4) (#83)
    by pac4854 on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 10:58:41 PM EST

    It can't happen. MSFT has a business style, a corporate culture that excludes it from this marketplace. MSFT has a long history of embrace-extend-extinguish in the digital culture that can't be undone. If, and this is a big "if" of Godzilla-like porportions, they enter the Linux marketspace, then you can rest assured that their telnet client will only work with W2K server telnet services, that their NFS won't mount a Sun export, that their Kerberos won't authenticate an Irix workstation. It's just the way they do business, just as they've always done it, and it's made them bazillionaires and they're not going to change to make a few thousand OSS advocates happy. And if you think otherwise, then you'd probably not have a problem if your sister married O.J. Simpson.
    -- Microsoft is to the internet what Jerry Springer is to television.
    why not MS-BSD? (3.20 / 5) (#86)
    by Justinfinity on Wed Sep 27, 2000 at 01:56:18 AM EST

    who says they have to use the GPL either? IIRC the BSD license does not require derived products to remain Free. MS could theoretically take the entire [Free/Net/Open]BSD code base and create MS-BSD and all they have to do it keep the original copyright notices with each portion of code (they already have to do this in IE with the code licensed from NSCA, check the about box of IE and alot of other MS apps).

    <rant>and besides, MS already runs half of their internet based stuff off of FreeBSD anyway. cheap, lying, fucking bastards! "Win2K is the ultimate Internet OS! So good we can't even run some of our biggest money making web sites off of it!</rant>

    -justin

    Re: why not MS-BSD? (3.00 / 1) (#87)
    by kraant on Wed Sep 27, 2000 at 02:38:36 AM EST

    BSD is good.... Some would even say better than linux. But it doesn't have the buzzword compliancy of linux...

    Anyway some would say they've already done this to some extent with win2k... Remember the tcp/ip stack?

    But no microsoft wouldn't do a straight release of BSD or linux.

    It goes against the way they try to control markets by leveraging their dominance in one area to gain dominance with an incompatible apps/osen/other stuff in other areas.
    --
    "kraant, open source guru" -- tumeric
    Never In Our Names...
    [ Parent ]

    If MS would "play by rules", yes. (3.50 / 2) (#92)
    by WWWWolf on Wed Sep 27, 2000 at 06:19:06 AM EST

    In short: I'd judge them like I'd judge any distribution vendor. If they behave themselves, good. If they try to derail everyone, it'd not be that good.

    I can see the horror scenario: Microsoft's Linux distribution that looks and feels like, um, RedHat or something but is filled with (intentional) bugs, with MS support saying "Well, what did you expect then? Go buy Win2K." Kids, that would not be Nice. =)

    But... If Microsoft, due to a miracle of some sort, would

    1. produce a decent Linux distribution and
    2. actually behave like your average distribution vendor,

    then I'd definitely support them.

    I wouldn't discriminate them just because they're a Big Evil Corporation.

    But if Microsoft would start making a distribution that would be aimed towards, ahem, world domination (I believe MS called this "embrace and extend") by making a seemingly compatible but radically different and proprietarily done dist (Example: "Microsoft Package Manager 2000, dare to reverse engineer and we'll sue you" - and the "innovation" in this case would be RPM format that uses reverse-byte-order-ZIPfile-with-2MB-random-garbage-filled-header instead of cpio =), I'd definitely tell people to choose a smarter dist.

    -- Weyfour WWWWolf, a lupine technomancer from the cold north...


    You must be joking (1.00 / 3) (#93)
    by Shoddy on Wed Sep 27, 2000 at 07:58:48 AM EST

    I don't believe that microsoft will push to develop a linux distribution. I DO think that this is the best discussion on Kuro5hin since the inception. BTW - keep up the good work, it was worth the wait.
    NT = Nuisance Technology !
    Wouldn't make sense (2.00 / 1) (#108)
    by Helmholtz on Thu Sep 28, 2000 at 10:58:26 AM EST

    If Microsoft released a version of Linux they would be shooting themselves in the foot in a major way. One of the big rallying points in the MS camp is the drone like reiteration of "applications...applications...applications". Many non-fanatical MS users have told me that they wouldn't mind learning Linux, but there just weren't that many applications out there for it. To which a non-fanatical Linux user has to at the moment concede. Sure, there are a zillion pieces of Linux software out there ... hell just go look at freashmeat.net, but when you start looking at what the average computer consumer is buying, and what types of software companies want ... there are indeed some holes that need to be filled. It wasn't until recently that a good accounting software pacakges was available for Linux (gnucash), and if you were to compare it feature for feature with Quicken & MS Money, you'd find that while it does a very good job of getting the job done for most users, there are some glaring feature omissons.

    Anyway, back to the point, if MS were to release their own version of Linux they would then be faced with people wanting to run all their Windows software on Linux ... and they'd be mad when they couldn't. The only way a viable MS Linux could exist is if Wine were much farther along than it is .... and then that would be kinda defeating the point anyway.

    I guess that's enough ranting for today.
    ...everybody's pinned ya baby, but nobody cares ...

    What if Microsoft Linux really happened? | 110 comments (109 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
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