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

From: Richard Erlacher <edick_at_idcomm.com>
Date: Sun Apr 21 15:15:01 2002

see below, plz.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Dave McGuire" <mcguire_at_neurotica.com>
To: <classiccmp_at_classiccmp.org>
Sent: Sunday, April 21, 2002 12:23 PM
Subject: Re: Micro$oft Biz'droid Lusers (was: OT email response format)

> 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
> > 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.
Well, when I want groceries, I go to the grocery store, and when I want
computer hardware I go to the computer store ... When I want software to do
what I want my computer to do, I have to go where they sell it. I can't find
EDA tools at the hardware store, and a Modula2 compiler won't route my PCB's.
EMACS isn't particularly useful tool for everyday word-processing, either,
though it certainly can do it. I have a "friendlified" EMACS (really a
DOS-based EMACS-in-a-shell) that works pretty well for lots of things for
which one normally would have used EMACS for want of another capable tool.
Nowadays, I can do all that simple stuff in WORD, like hundreds of millions of
> > 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. ;)
I've gotten software gratis all my life. Even the Microsoft products I have
were all originally provided, gratis, from Microsoft. I've never been offered
a single bit of UNIX software, ever, by any Unix software vendor. They even
charge for providing stuff that they claim to give you for free, and then,
when it doesn't work as advertised, which it seldom does if it works at all,
they charge you to make it work, which often costs plenty and results in
> > 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. ;)
I'm not sure what you mean by "network server." I've used a PC
as a server right here in the house for over a decade. There's not
one non-PC machine in my ISP POP either. There's a mix of OS' in-
cluding LINUX and UNIX, but it's the most generally provisioned
"small" ISP in the area and has a reputation for fewer breakdowns
and fewer busy signals on dialups than any other ISP, including the
muti-billion-dollar guys like AOL, MSN, and Qwest.
> > 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
> > market doesn't justify working up a freeware version for every UNIX
> > though, so I think they're wise avoiding the expense. LINUX is getting
> > 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.
The first thing I'd ask about "writing the software portably" would be,
"Who's going to do that, and whom are we serving by doing that?"
The few dozen folks in my market area, worldwide, who'd prefer to
use UNIX might like it, but would they send any dough our way?
Probably not ...

Secondly, I have serious doubts that there's a way to write software
that is both portable and fully functional in all cases. There are
limitations, I'm sure, and the devil's in the details.

> > and, for the most part, the freeware is often better than the commercial
> > products. I've seen little "source-available" freeware that was very
> > however. The LINUX stuff is a good example. Much of the code sits, full
> > ugly hacks and undocumented modifications, among comments relevant only to
> > original code that was abandoned six or seven revisions back, though it's
> > obvious. It's a wonder any of it works, but it seems it does. It's
> > 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.
That's probably true, but it's the only realistically inexpensive route
into the UNIX world for one starting out or starting over.

Last time I checked, the add-on required to extend the file system
for UNIXWARE (? maybe one of the others) to larger than 2GB cost
$2K per instance.

> 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.
Different, is certainly the case. Better, well, the market thinks otherwise.
Received on Sun Apr 21 2002 - 15:15:01 BST

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