Micro$oft Biz'droid Lusers (was: OT email response format)

From: Richard Erlacher <edick_at_idcomm.com>
Date: Sun Apr 21 12:17:54 2002

Clearly we see things from different perspectives.

see below ...


----- Original Message -----
From: "Dave McGuire" <mcguire_at_neurotica.com>
To: <classiccmp_at_classiccmp.org>
Sent: Sunday, April 21, 2002 10:37 AM
Subject: Re: Micro$oft Biz'droid Lusers (was: OT email response format)

> On April 21, Richard Erlacher wrote:
> > You can get the same software for UNIX, if you don't mind the $250K
> > You won't get the source code there, either, of course, but I doubt you'd
> > expend 200 man-years developing a piece of software at your expense and
> > give away the source code. If you did, your shareholders would tar and
> > feather you.
> Most of the software in use in the UNIX world is free. Of course
> there ARE commercial packages, but...with very few exceptions, for
> every commercial package there's at least one free one that does the
> job as well or better. It's possible that I'm preaching to the choir
> here, but one of the common misconceptions that really bugs me is the
> notion that "unix == expensive", when in reality it's just the
> opposite. (The same goes for "pc vs. real computers" in the "I use a
> PC because I can't afford a Sun or an Alpha" case...)
That's not been my experience. In fact, until LINUX, which I don't presently
use either, I had never seen any software of any use at all other than for
software development for UNIX. The EDA stuff I saw was not terribly useful,
but some folks managed to beat it into submission. I can't forget the
tradeshow when I ruled out UNIX in my mind. A vendor had essentially the same
software for DOS and UNIX. The UNIX version cost 50x what the DOS version
cost, and the hardware also cost over 10x the cost of an adequate PC. The two
software packages "looked and felt" as well as worked, indistinguishably once
one was inside the application.

Time was, when UNIX was the OS of choice for EDA tools because that's the
environment under which they were developed, and since they had to be patched
frequently. Whenever a patch was applied, it was likely to "reach out and
touch someone" (undesired side-effect) which meant a complete system rebuild
with lots of downtime and plenty of aggravation, not to mention a complete
lack of assurance it would fix anything.
> > People like the software for FPGA's and CPLD's because it's either free or
> > under $100 US. There are so many high-quality 805x compilers that are
> FPGA and CPLD stuff are some of the exceptions that I mentioned in
> the stuff that I can't run under a real OS.
The FPGA/CPLD vendors would like to support everybody who's likely to use
their products. However, support is a problem under UNIX, since there are
numerous versions (I've had several) that lack compatibility. The size of the
market doesn't justify working up a freeware version for every UNIX version
though, so I think they're wise avoiding the expense. LINUX is getting some
support, though.
> > "freeware" or "shareware" that I can't see any reason one would want one
> > better than the comparable freeware product.
> I agree 100%. Needless to say, we're trashing this compiler after
> this project. :-) The fancy GUI is nice, but frankly I can be more
> productive with xemacs and make.
Because of the pressure from freeware, many of the 805x compilers are intended
to support a set of hardware provided by the vendor. That tends to limit
their scope.
> > There is a demo version of nearly every high-cost ($2000 isn't that high,
> > though the Windows environment has made it so.) Get a comparable product
> > UNIX, and you'll get no improvement, nor will you get source. All you'll
> > is a bigger bill.
> Not necessarily...I've used at least four FREE 8051 C compilers under
> UNIX, nearly ten years ago! $2000 *is* high, when most of the 8051
> compilers I've used cost $0.
and, for the most part, the freeware is often better than the commercial
products. I've seen little "source-available" freeware that was very good,
however. The LINUX stuff is a good example. Much of the code sits, full of
ugly hacks and undocumented modifications, among comments relevant only to the
original code that was abandoned six or seven revisions back, though it's not
obvious. It's a wonder any of it works, but it seems it does. It's unlikely
there'll ever be UNIX/GNU freeware that's as useable as the comparable
DOS/Windows stuff, though, since what looks to be the case is that nobody
wants to document the UNIX/GNU freeware.
I've got about half-a-dozen of the free assembler/simulator/debugger packages
for Windows some of which come along with compilers for PL/M, Pascal, and 'C.'
I'm certainly not surprised that there are UNIX tools of that sort around,
since the 805x core has been around since '84 or so, when I started with it.
Back then, BTW, there was no Windows, nor was there much freeware. I used
UNIX on SUN hardware back then and it cost $100K a year for the personnel
needed to keep the rather small SUN system running. The typical EDA software
package cost over $200K and was patched about once a month, resulting in about
ten days' downtime per patch.

I was fortunate enough that my client back then was willing to take the SUN
junk and its equally loathsome OS off my hands so I didn't lose too much. I
happily went back to CP/M, which served much better, in my view.
Unfortunately, there was little freeware of any use for CP/M just as there is
for Windows. The OS was not available in source form, nor was it likely you'd
find source code for any application that was of any use. Back then, if you
wanted development software tools that worked pretty well, you bought
Microsoft compilers, assemblers, linkers, etc. Their stuff worked, was
adequately documented, etc.

Nothing lasts forever, though.

Received on Sun Apr 21 2002 - 12:17:54 BST

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