Thursday 285

RIP Dennis Ritchie

Filed under: Computers, Open source — Tags: , , , — zundel @ pm

We owe Dennis Ritchie hugely.
You can read this.
I can write it.

He built the foundations.
And very beautiful and capable foundations.

Other things have been tried but basically we still use Unix and C.
He built those things. And he built them extremely well.

I’ve used some version of Unix since 1979.
Now various distributions of Linux.
I still smile every time I drop to the command line and tinker with the innards.
The elegance, power, and flexibility still please me immensely.
Good tools make a joy of work.
These are the best tools.

Thank you.

Dennis M. Ritchie

Dennis Ritchie obituary

DMR, 1941—2011

Unix combines more obvious-in-retrospect engineering design choices than anything else I’ve seen or am likely to see in my lifetime.

It is impossible — absolutely impossible — to overstate the debt my profession owes to Dennis Ritchie. I’ve been living in a world he helped invent for over thirty years.


Thursday 47

Not on your phone

This is rather sad.

It started with Apple.

Apple’s operating systems are based on open source. Apple uses and contributes to open source. And you can install and use open source software on a Mac.
But not on an iPhone.

Microsoft uses and contributes to open source. You can install and use open source software on Windows.
But not on a Windows Phone.

Microsoft: Absolutely No (GPLv3-Or-Compat-Licensed) Free Software for Windows Phone and Xbox Apps

Microsoft chose to forgo a large base of established high quality software for their new platform.

This is about control.

Who gets to control what’s on your computer and phone? Them or you?

For instance, security:
Need to protect information on your mobile devices?
Want to use strong open source encryption?
Not on an iPhone or Windows Phone.
You’ll have to take the security they offer you. And trust them.
Good luck.

Microsoft had a chance with Windows Phone to create a mobile platform that met business needs with easier administration and more innovation than BlackBerry. They just blew it.

Everyone has seen Apple’s billions from consumer dollars. And now everyone chases those billions.

Balmer understands marketing and chases the money. He does not understand computing.
Microsoft has lost enterprise. They have a large installed base but it dwindles. Years of defective and outdated products lost the market. And Microsoft no longer has any advantage on the desktop. The lock-in they once had with Exchange has gone: open source can connect to and replace Exchange. As businesses further rely on open source for enterprise functions they will choose desktop and mobile products that work best with their open source services.

Perhaps Balmer tacitly concedes the business market and refocuses Microsoft to chase consumer dollars.

It looks like we’ll get a bifurcated computer market. Business will use Linux and any open system that can use the tools. Consumers will get media computers, media boxes, and mobile media devices; all closed and hard to control.


Wednesday 46

Enterprise-grade Open Source Software

Filed under: Open source — Tags: , — zundel @ pm

Delightfully succinct and authoritative summation of the state of play:

Supply, Demand, and Open Source Enterprise Adoption
by Eric Gries, CEO, Lucid Imagination

Now, more often than not, it delivers better software than commercial vendors — software that’s being adopted by successful companies where exasperated managers recognize they are being charged inflated prices to maintain and upgrade existing packaged software that simply isn’t as good as lower priced alternatives.

[….] the meritocratic development ethos of open source promotes only the best and brightest content through the engineering process, creating an environment of “frictionless innovation.” It is fundamentally a much better way to collaborate, ensuring that the features users really want end up in the product — with public peer review filtering out poor code. Compare this to the way most proprietary vendors move the development process forward. With only token input from customers, factions within the company battle it out to prioritize new features, usually optimized for a few of the largest customers or customer deals. If you’re not in that elect group, your needs won’t be met.

Friday 301

Open source value

Filed under: Open source — Tags: — zundel @ am

The Widening Value Gap Between Open Source and Commercial Software

A good, short post on why open source beats commercial software.

Businesses learn to not trust the likes of Microsoft or Adobe to produce quality safe software.

Thursday 300

Ubuntu 10.10

Filed under: Computers — Tags: , , , — zundel @ am

Ubuntu 10.04 is a lovely operating system: fast, stable, elegant, and easy to use. If you need a new operating system, use it: there’s nothing better. And as a long term support release, coming every two years, it will have update support for three years.

Ubuntu 10.10 was released over two weeks ago on 10.10.
I tested it for two weeks. It offers no great improvement over version 10.04.
But, I now run 10.10 on my primary machine (Ubuntu makes a netbook rock).
It’s better.

Software Center is much improved in 10.10, and I use it often. With thousands of tested and free programs available, when I need to do something, I go looking for a program.

And 10.10 looks better in ways that improve productivity.
It’s All In The Looks
Mighty Minutiae
This is not eye candy for the sake of eye candy or to show off whiz-bang. (You can make windows wobble if you want to, but don’t). (But I have a netbook doing some very fancy animations for task switching: I like it that way.)

The folks making Ubuntu understand how good design can make using software easier and pleasurable. They understand it better than anyone has since Apple once did. They now surpass Apple. My Mac began to bug me a couple of years ago. Now, Ubuntu gives me little moments of pleasure at its elegance. If you like good design (and performance and stability) try Ubuntu.

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