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

From: Dave McGuire <mcguire_at_neurotica.com>
Date: Sun Apr 21 13:23:43 2002

On April 21, Richard Erlacher wrote:
> > 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.

  (This response is going to sound snotty, but I don't mean it that way)
  This is likely because you've not been looking in the right places,
and have been (ahem) solidly mired in the world of commercial
proprietary Windows stuff.

> The EDA stuff I saw was not terribly useful,
> but some folks managed to beat it into submission. I can't forget the

  There is a shortage in that area, but there are useful tools. I'm
using some of them in another window right now...I'm designing a
battery charger for a portable microcontroller-based system in one
window and have a PCB layout tool ready to roll in another window.
And I have the source code for all of it, even the operating system
they're running under. And I paid $0 for the software and maybe $150
for the hardware.

  One can pay through the nose for functionality. One can even pay list
price for all of one's hardware and buy it all brandie-new. It's just
not very smart. ;)

> 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.

  Oh, I don't doubt it for a second...but again you're speaking of
commercial software. UNIX and commercial software don't get along
very well, because commercial software goes very much against the
whole UNIX thing. It's like using a PC as a network server...you
*can* do it, but it won't work very well, it's not a very good idea,
and you'll look like an idiot in the process. ;)

> 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.

  Writing the software portably eliminates that problem completely.
The world of Windows software development completely ignores
portability. The common software in the UNIX world doesn't have a
"version for every UNIX version". That's just not the way it works.

> 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.

  Linux is a mess no matter how you slice it, mostly thrown together by
script kiddies with no experience whatsoever...it's a bad idea to
judge the entire UNIX world on the cleanliness (or lack thereof) of
Linux, because as even the Linux people are fond of pointing out,
Linux isn't UNIX.

  I'm not trying to be argumentative with you, and I respect your
experience...please understand that I'm trying to point out that the
world of computers is very different from the world of Windows
computers...things are, well, just done differently.


Dave McGuire                                 "Mmmm.  Big."
St. Petersburg, FL                                -Den
Received on Sun Apr 21 2002 - 13:23:43 BST

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