AW: [LINK] ACS calls for government open source mandate
sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au
Mon Feb 2 14:04:12 EST 2004
On Mon, 2 Feb 2004, Auer, Karl James wrote:
> > Von: Johann Kruse [mailto:foon at iinet.net.au]
> > > Seems he's shot himself in the foot there. Think where we would be
> > > today if only that HAD happened! Lightyears ahead.
> > Unix is not exactly ahead on the desktop.
> You've missed my point. I was saying that *if* Unix had been mandatory
> on government desktops in the 80's, think what the world - and Unix
> desktops! - would be like today.
It would be fragmented, incompatible and expensive... Just like it was in
the 80's, but more so. Look at 'autoconf' for proof of this.
Unix history chart at: http://www.levenez.com/unix/
ANSI C, free compilers and the Net are the enabling technologies of Open
Source Software [OSS].
We owe a lot to Microsoft in forcing attrition in the Unix market!
POSIX and GNU provide 'standards' - and enforce them through licencing and
pricing. Hard to argue different is better if it's free...
Linux and Samba were 'stealth' projects - they would not have started in a
Unix-dominated world and became stable & resilient enough to withstand
subversion during their formative years away from Corporate attention.
We have the current 'Open source' world precisely because Unix did not
dominate. Linux and GNU, fuelled by the corporate 'killer apps', Samba
and Apache, created this world on top of commodity hardware by creating
something that no ONE company owns or can control. The techs, not 'suits'
are in control - so they reuse code, build on each others efforts and
produce apps that fulfill user _needs_ and sometimes have real quality.
Sounds exactly the same as the origins of Unix and the early days of
Remember the 'Unix Wars' - Unix International vs 'Open Software
Foundation'?? There never was a unified Unix. BSD was as close as it
got, and no vendor shipped vanilla BSD systems. Vendors universally
believed in 'Different not differentiation' and tried very hard to lock-in
vendors. DEC was the only company to ship OSF/1. Everyone else walked
away as they saw Win-NT go well ahead.
SVR4 was supposed to be the great reconcilliation - System V and
BSD/Solaris together forever. SUN were so impressed they bought out their
perpetual licencing a few years later.
The X-11 consortium likes to _charge_ members, a lot.
X-11 was always expensive. The X-free distribution, the largest,
threatened to go their own way when told they would have to pay. The
consortium backed down.
The good thing to come out of the Unix Wars was the OSF's funding of the
Free Software Foundation [FSF], to provide GNU tools. This was a mixed
GNU never learned the fundamental Unix precept - "Less is More", believing
instead in 'featurism'. A discussion for another time.
A good counterpoint is the fate of 'Plan 9', the replacement to Unix built
by the _same_ team by 'the aggressive application of a few principles'.
It was whole and complete _before_ Linus released version 0.1.
The UK Unix society devoted their whole 1991 conference to it.
It had impeccable credentials and antecedents. Blindingly fast,
rock-solid, born onto multi-platforms - 'twas Small, tight, brilliant -
AND made scarcely an impact.
Why? It cost money.
Personal use was free, but ~$300 for the books/distro
Corporate/Government use was licenced... Educational, don't know.
Plan 9 was open sourced in 2000 when Ken Thompson retired from Bell Labs.
It's too late for it to become dominant.
> It seems likely to me that the whole
> open/closed debate would never have even happened, open source would be
> as simply a matter of fact as proprietary stuff is now. And IBM would
> have wised up a lot quicker :-)
The really important things are 1) that IBM have embraced 'Open Source'
and 2) we now have, in OSS, a workable model for IT development and
standards to go forward on.
> I don't think modern Unix desktops are all that bad, certainly not
> things like the Mac, but KDE and Gnome are pretty good. Unfortunately
> Microsoft has done such a good job of defining the desktop that it takes
> a lot of mental effort to look at the matter dispassionately. Any
> feature the MS desktop has is "essential", anything it doesn't have is
> some how fringey and non-critical.
This is very insightful - goes right to the heart of the matter.
> Regards, K.
> Karl Auer (karl.auer at id.ethz.ch) Geschaeft/work +41-
> Kommunikation, ETHZ RZ Privat/home
> Clausiusstrasse 59 CH-8092 ZUERICH Switzerland Fax +41-
> Eidgenoessische Technische Hochschule, Zuerich
> Link mailing list
> Link at mailman.anu.edu.au
Hope this is interesting and useful to you.
Steve Jenkin, Unix Sys Admin
0412 786 915 (+61 412 786 915)
PO Box 48, Kippax ACT 2615, AUSTRALIA
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