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[P]
Eazel collapses

By kmself in News
Wed May 16, 2001 at 05:47:26 PM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)
Software

The text on Eazel's website sums it up: As of May 15, 2001, Eazel has ceased operations.


In a post to gnome-hackers, linked at LinuxToday, Bart Decrem provides some more details:

Here's what to expect over the coming days and weeks: over the next day or so, the Eazel web site will be shut down, Eazel's online services will be discontinued, and the Nautilus bootstrap installer will no longer be able to fetch files from our software catalog. We'll make sure that the users of our online storage are able to retrieve their files, and we are sending out mail to all our registered users. Andy Hertzfeld has generously offered to host what will remain of the Eazel web site and all the Nautilus resources will continue to be available. The source code, CVS repository and binaries have always been hosted on gnome.org, and this will continue. Our Bugzilla repository, the Nautilus mailing lists and other Nautilus resources (such as the RSS feed etc.) will be hosted by Andy. E-mail to former employees' eazel.com address will be forwarded at least for the next few weeks, and resumes for some of our former employees will be posted on the remaining web site. The company's assets will be sold to pay off our creditors, so it's conceivable that the Eazel trademark or domain name will be purchased by a company that has no relationship to the current Eazel.

So, the code lives, but the project will be struggling on a volunteer basis.

I have to say that, though I tried a couple of Eazel snapshots myself, the software's immediate appeal was limited. For the world at large, as a tool to open GNU/Linux to the masses, however, this was an important project, and will live on in free software history.

It's interesting to look at the detritus of a free software project -- in the immediate future, the status of online servers and services is in question, though some hosting will be taken over by Andy Hertzfeld, and in today's world, such services are provided relatively easily. Forwarding of employee email is a nice gesture. What's troubling however is that trademarks may cease to be associated with the project, a fact that makes the marriage of free software and corporate interests somewhat troubling.

Perhaps a lesson we can take from Eazel is a better model for corporate involvement for free software development. While programmers need to be paid, and marketing can be a good thing, a freestanding, noncorporate, entity which holds critical project assets: copyright, trademark, and possibly patents, might be a better structure.

Sympathies and thanks to the Eazel crew. Godspeed.

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Eazel collapses | 27 comments (19 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
Description of Eazel Nautilus for Linux (3.83 / 6) (#1)
by quam on Tue May 15, 2001 at 11:41:28 PM EST

The Nautilus desktop is polished with colorful icons and the text associated with a desktop launcher is smooth. Like most file managers, the Nautilus file manager displays icons representing file contents, but the advantage of the Nautilus file manager is its built-in viewer to display file contents. For instance, thumbnail images are presented while browsing a directory of images and thumbnail documents are presented for a directory of documents. Moreover, the file manager allows for the previewing, or "prelistening," of mp3 files.

-- U.S. Patent 5443036 concerns a device for encouraging a cat to exercise by chasing a light spot.
Konqueror (3.66 / 3) (#17)
by nobody on Wed May 16, 2001 at 03:31:13 PM EST

Konqueror will do exactly that, too. Thumbnail suppurt is still limited (Text, HTML, Images only), but you can preview all kind of files in the same window. I don't think it will take long for features like MP3 prelistening will appear, especially given KDE's modular architecture.

Oh, and it's a great web/ftp/smb/whatever browser, too.

[ Parent ]
Konqueror Previews (3.50 / 2) (#26)
by PresJPolk on Fri May 18, 2001 at 01:48:40 AM EST

Good call...

Before, the previews were hard-coded. But, just yesterday (May 16), Carsten Pfeiffer sent this mail to the kde-core-devel mailing list:

Hiya,

thanks to Malte, we have the new preview architecture in place. There is an IOSlave KIO::PreviewJob, which can return you a QPixmap for a given url. The slave is extensible, by delegating the work to plugins, based on the mimetype for the given url(s). For now, there are plugins for image/*, postscript and pdf, html and text/*.

Please write plugins for more filetypes, e.g. KOffice docs, StarOffice or other files that can have a visual representation. See kdebase/kioslave/thumbnail/ for the existing plugins (it's really easy).

After Konqueror's thumbnail-view, now the KFileDialog makes use of the PreviewJob, by allowing you to preview files directly in the dialog (see http://master.kde.org/~pfeiffer/preview.png). Use the context-menu to switch between normal view, separated directories and preview.

Cheers,
Carsten Pfeiffer

So look for it in the KDE 2.2 alpha 2, I guess.



[ Parent ]
File previews? (4.00 / 2) (#22)
by ghjm on Wed May 16, 2001 at 11:22:11 PM EST

Hey, you mean like what Windows Explorer has been doing for the last three years? Cool!

[ Parent ]
Haven't seen this on win2k (3.50 / 2) (#25)
by Wah on Thu May 17, 2001 at 02:07:59 PM EST

Moreover, the file manager allows for the previewing, or "prelistening," of mp3 files.

And the thumbnail .jpg viewer on win2k's explorer is fat-dog-ass slow. Maybe one of their competitors is better...

Note: I use it all, just commenting, don't read too much into it.
--
Some things, bandwidth can't buy. For everything else, there's Real Life | SSP
[ Parent ]

The desktops are looking nice (2.50 / 4) (#2)
by John Milton on Tue May 15, 2001 at 11:49:28 PM EST

The desktops are always going to be improvable, but I want to see more apps. I love my KDE and GNOME desktops. Their spiffy and very shiny, but until I see a lot of really neat usable apps, that doesn't matter. I'm waiting for Krayon from the KDE team.


"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton


Krayon? (3.00 / 2) (#8)
by eudas on Wed May 16, 2001 at 04:20:24 AM EST

I'm not a big KDE user or anything, but is it too much to ask that not every single app start with K? The same goes with G for Gnome, or E for Enlightenment. It's kind of irritating. Is there a reason for it, or is it just some stupid thing?

Curiosity killed the cat...
...but satisfaction brought it back.

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]
X Legacy (3.00 / 1) (#11)
by jasonab on Wed May 16, 2001 at 11:16:57 AM EST

I'm not a big KDE user or anything, but is it too much to ask that not every single app start with K? The same goes with G for Gnome, or E for Enlightenment. It's kind of irritating. Is there a reason for it, or is it just some stupid thing?
It's an X-Windows legacy thing. Everything written for X was X* (cf. Xscreensaver). Thusly, K* for KDE, etc.

[ Parent ]
The naming convention serves a purpose. (4.00 / 1) (#18)
by John Milton on Wed May 16, 2001 at 03:48:27 PM EST

It makes it easy for people to differentiate apps quickly. In the case of Krayon, it isn't really off base because it's a drawing program. It annoys me too some times, but as confusing as linux can be for newbies, I think we should keep it for the time being.


"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton


[ Parent ]
okay, but... (3.00 / 2) (#20)
by eudas on Wed May 16, 2001 at 06:05:23 PM EST

Ok, I can see the reasoning, and that is what I had suspected; however, it is applied somewhat inconsistently such that you cannot be 100 percent sure in any given case. Thus, you find yourself manually checking alot *anyway*, thereby invalidating the purpose of such a naming convention. *shrug*

Just another $0.02 from me.

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]
<shameless plug> (none / 0) (#24)
by dgwatson on Thu May 17, 2001 at 07:46:33 AM EST

Cookbook (written by yours truly) doesn't start with a K - I could have named it Kookbook or KCookbook, but that would have been really dorky...

[ Parent ]
I hesitate to draw conclusions about Free Software (4.50 / 6) (#4)
by Anonymous 242 on Tue May 15, 2001 at 11:58:05 PM EST

I'd hesitate to draw any conclusions about Free Software from the collapse of Eazel.

Starting a business, especially a sizeable business, is brutal. I can't remember the exact numbers but something like > 70% of startups are no longer in business after five years. The top two reasons are (1) bad management and (2) lack of money.

It takes freaking forever for a large sized money to become profitable. To get to the point where ROI can start to happen, it takes some pretty deep pockets. So the lesson to be learned from Eazel running out of money is simply that starting a business from scratch that employs so many highly paid professionals is an uphill battle.

On the editorial side, I'd like to see the issues of IP expanded. I kind of, sort of see where you are going with those points, but they really need to be expanded. What problems exist with Eazel's copyrights, trademarks, and patents and the future of Nautilaus?

Quote from The Register (3.75 / 4) (#9)
by hulver on Wed May 16, 2001 at 06:45:37 AM EST

The Register
Eazel's failure won't diminish the achievement of Nautilus - it's still the most ambitious standalone file manager for Linux - but it does nail a business model that saw over 70 staff burn through $13m on what is merely a file manager. But there's no reason why it shouldn't flourish as part of the GNOME project.

Was Nautilus Eazel's only product?

--
HuSi!
What if... (1.80 / 5) (#12)
by darthaya on Wed May 16, 2001 at 12:16:46 PM EST

Nautilus is developed for windows? Eazel can easily make chunk of money by contracting with microsoft and bundle their software with every new windows system shipped.

While in the free software world, we respect *choices*. The choice of using a great software and not paying for it is much elevated.


even better (5.00 / 1) (#14)
by cory on Wed May 16, 2001 at 12:58:07 PM EST

Port it to the Mac via Darwin. Since Internet Exploder has some of the functionality of Nautilus, M$ would have no reason to use it, except maybe to buy it up and remove a competitor. But since Nautilus is (IIRC) GPLed, M$ won't touch it with a 10 foot pole.

Cory

[ Parent ]
It doesn't work that way. (4.00 / 2) (#15)
by hotcurry on Wed May 16, 2001 at 02:11:45 PM EST

Microsoft really isn't interested in giving the customer any options which Microsoft does not control. And besides, thevwhole point of Eazel was to be an alternative to Windows on the desktop.

[ Parent ]
Not much point... (3.00 / 1) (#23)
by yannick on Thu May 17, 2001 at 06:00:34 AM EST

in porting it to Windows. As far as I can tell, Windows Explorer can do everything that Nautilus currently can do, and more. As much as you may want to bash MS, Explorer does the job and it does it fairly quickly. I can't see very many people shifting to Nautilus on Windows, and even fewer paying for it.

Free software on the Windows platform does not seem to have much of a future, unfortunately. Anyone prepared to fork out the money for Windows (or who is willing and able to pirate it) will be ready to pay lots and lots of money for software, too. Anyone wanting to use free software (for ideological reasons, primarily) will use Linux or its free UNIX brethren. And no, I don't like this state of affairs any more than you do.

Cheers,
Yannick
---
"Hello, World" 17 Errors, 31 Warnings...
[ Parent ]

Well, what do you expect? (4.40 / 5) (#21)
by avdi on Wed May 16, 2001 at 08:24:14 PM EST

No matter that they were media darlings, the fact remains that they were creating...

*drumroll and fanfare*

... a file manager. Not a whole new desktop environment; not a new paradigm for user interaction. Not even a new level of internet integration. Simply, a file manager.

Not only that, but it was just an especially shiny clone of all the other file managers. It followed the same "one browser for looking at everything on your system and on the internet" approach that Microsoft pioneered with their Windows Explorer/Internet Explorer combination; and took it about as far as KDE had already taken it with Konqueror. Amazingly, despite the involvement of former Apple people, it didn't even clone any of the clever NeXT-ish features of OSX's new file manager, such as a "shelf" along the top or the Column View. It was an almost mindless clone of the existing file managers. Only much, much slower.

I kept wanting to be wowed by Nautilus. I'd read the announcements of new features and try to get excited about them...

Thumbnailing of HTML and text files, as well as images!

Ooh! Just like Konqueror... already... has.

Bonobo embedding, so that many documents can be viewed and edited inside the browser!

Neat! Oh yeah, Konq does that too. And the office components that Konq embeds are actually (relatively) stable software, rather than a vapor suite like OpenOffice.

Customizable sidebars!

*yawn*. Been there, done that.

Someday it might have command-line integration!

You mean like Konqueror and EFM already have?

The only feature I found really interesting was a user-level emulation of mac-style resource-forks for every file in your file system; allowing files to have comments, keywords, emblems, etc. associated with them. Unfortunately, I'm not really sold on this feature being best implemented in userland. With Nautilus' implementation, only programs that use Nautilus can access this extra information. I think this may be best implemented on an OS-level. And I'm not the only person who thinks this way, either.

I think the most amazing thing about Nautilus is how apparently intelligent people would suddenly turn into drooling, fawning idiots as soon as Nautilus came up; and would go on and on about features like the ones I've mentioned as if they were brand-new ideas. This was not revolutionary; it wasn't even evolutionary. It was just someone else's idea of the best way to implement a conventional file manager. Certainly not something to base a business's success or failure on.

Don't get me wrong; I have nothing against Nautilus. I like and use lot of GNOME software; and there's a very real possibility that a few versions down the road Nautilus will replace Konqueror as my standard file manager. I guess I'm just glad that Eazel has ceased to hog the spotlight. Maybe some genuinely innovative projects will get some press attention now.

--
Now leave us, and take your fish with you. - Faramir

Some others weigh in ... (5.00 / 2) (#27)
by Kellnerin on Fri May 18, 2001 at 12:27:18 PM EST

Andrew Leonard at Salon today published a number of responses from various people, including Michael Tiemann of Cygnus/Red Hat, Miguel de Icaza of Ximian/GNOME, and the ever-popular ESR, to his article of yesterday on how the fall of Eazel bodes ill for Free Software.

For those of you who like spoilers, the consensus is that the rumors of Free Software's death are greatly exaggerated.

--Stop it, evil hand, stop it!--

Eazel collapses | 27 comments (19 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
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