Linked by Eugenia Loli on Tue 12th Apr 2005 16:15 UTC
Editorial Being the best doesn't always mean being the most popular. We all know of many inferior products that are immensely, sometimes perplexingly, popular. However, this does not mean that one must forsake the pursuit of excellence when pursuing a broad market share. As proponents of open source software, it should not be beneath us to pursue popularity or to look to proprietary developers as examples. And by following the right examples, we can help spread the usage of open source software without sacrificing the goal of software excellence, says NewsForge.
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Yeah
by greg on Tue 12th Apr 2005 16:36 UTC

We should all learn from Windows.

Best
Software
Ever.

RE
by Kroc Camen on Tue 12th Apr 2005 16:47 UTC

Skype, MSN6 (compared to other IM's), MSOffice owns OOo outright, Linux UI still is unbearable.

OSS still has some areas it need to learn a few things from.
But Firefox is one of the examples where they've got it right.

RE: RE
by esper on Tue 12th Apr 2005 16:55 UTC

Have ypu tried the OOo 2.0 beta? I would not say that MSOffice owns it outright.

v Too bad
by Anonymous on Tue 12th Apr 2005 16:56 UTC

this is only applicable to traders. Free soft. gets until the thing is working without flaws. Anything beyond (wizards, assistants, orchestras and fireworks) starts to cost money and there are commercial distributions for that.

PD.: command-line becomes very addictive after some time of use.

v re
by Green on Tue 12th Apr 2005 17:11 UTC
v Re: Too bad
by Jonathan Thompson on Tue 12th Apr 2005 17:14 UTC
@J. Thompson
by eric on Tue 12th Apr 2005 17:44 UTC

Fatal to your argument is the fact that true "innovation," even among proprietary programs, is exceedingly rare. Almost all proprietary software is just "copying" functionality already found in other programs. True innovation is rare, and where it does exist, its almost always in the form of a small incremental change over what existed prior to it. Even the most innovative of programs are comprised almost entirely of common, well known elements with addition of small number of novel elements.

And concerning the rest of your comment, it is true now, and has always been true, that the overwhelming majority of programers are employed doing "in-house" custom development, or building "bespoke" applications as part of a broader custom solution tailored to fit specific conditions.

@Jonathan Thompson (IP: ---.hqglobal.net)
by Jophn on Tue 12th Apr 2005 18:05 UTC

only much worse, because OSS developers don't have any vested financial interest in joining a herd of cats.

Where do you get the most recruits from?

We have have something you guys don't -->plenty of time<-- and only the deadline we lay upon ourselves,not dictated by any CEO or marketing troll.I rather am in my basement than in any of those cubicles.

RE: RE:
by emagius on Tue 12th Apr 2005 18:43 UTC

But Firefox is one of the examples where they've got it right.

Not really. Opera has far more functionality than Mozilla Suite or a 100-extension-laden Firefox and yet is substantially faster (upwards of 5x at rendering), smaller (both in memory and on disk), and more secure than any Mozilla-based browser (with the possible exception of K-Meleon on size).

v re
by Green on Tue 12th Apr 2005 18:44 UTC
Good question
by yawn on Tue 12th Apr 2005 19:20 UTC

What proprietary software can teach open source developers?

That's like trying to teach a class but not letting any students take notes or read the book.

Open source software, however, still has the same problems with copyright and patents. So its like trying to teach a class with free books, pencils and paper in the middle of a minefield.

Simply frustrating.

re:emagius (IP: 66.155.211.---)
by . on Tue 12th Apr 2005 20:09 UTC

Opera has far more functionality than Mozilla Suite or a 100-extension-laden Firefox and yet is substantially faster (upwards of 5x at rendering), smaller (both in memory and on disk), and more secure than any Mozilla-based browser (with the possible exception of K-Meleon on size).

It's hard not to burn your fingers with saying some(any) browser is secure.All have had their vulnerabilities.And still have.

Would be my opinion to let the most downloaded extentions be installed per deafult with the package itself.This way there's for a lot of users not direct a reason to download and risk something.

RE
by Kroc Camen on Tue 12th Apr 2005 20:12 UTC

@emagius

Remember this article is about OSS learning about Popularity of closed-source programs. Not how good it is. And last time I checked Firefox was well ahead of Opera regards popularity. Firefox may not be technically as good as Opera, but it's being improved as well as having popularity. Very little OSS is "popular" at all. No real reason it should be that way and Firefox is one particular piece that has broken into popularity.

re
by Jophn on Tue 12th Apr 2005 20:17 UTC

Still live with your mother? When she kicks the bucket, you will have to find something that pays the bills, And if you are not making money off coding, then what is next?

I'm 13 ,so not dead enough to join the dead meat at MC.You got my point though i'm sure.Freelance coding is also an option.Better to code in an inspiring environmnet that's what i actually had in mind.

Re: Good question
by Deletomn on Tue 12th Apr 2005 20:19 UTC

yawn: What proprietary software can teach open source developers?

That's like trying to teach a class but not letting any students take notes or read the book.


Actually some "proprietary sofware companies" are somewhat (to very) liberal with their source code, but they don't have what would be considered an "open source"/"free software" license.

One in particular that I can vaguely recall, allowed me to view the source code, modify the source code, and distribute binaries of their source code as I wished. As far as my source code went (including my modifications), I could place them under any license I liked and do with them what I liked. Basicly, I just couldn't give THEIR source code to anyone else.

That type of license is obviously not common though and I last used that program quite a long time ago. (As in years)

re
by Deletomn on Tue 12th Apr 2005 20:25 UTC

Jophn: I'm 13 ,so not dead enough to join the dead meat at MC.You got my point though i'm sure.Freelance coding is also an option.Better to code in an inspiring environmnet that's what i actually had in mind.

Some big companies can actually be very nice. They can sometimes be better than working for small companies or even on your own.

I'm a full-time CSC graduate student at a university, but I have some friends who work for some big companies and they LOVE going to work.

lots
by Larry on Tue 12th Apr 2005 20:47 UTC

There are many advantages that proprietary development have over open source.

Money is one. Most open source developers don't get paid so have to do it in their offtime.

Proprietary developers tend to be close to each other so that they can have face-to-face time, whiteboards, brainstorming meetings etc.

Proprietary developers are forced to collaborate and not just fork something over because they don't like some other guys.

The only time that open source seems to work is in large projects with lots of momentum

Firefox is like this
by Chris on Tue 12th Apr 2005 21:13 UTC

Everyone I know that's tried it has either become addicted, or it was installed by a friend without their knowledge and they still don't know they use it!

Personally, I have a love/hate relationship with it. Have since .8, I like .7 and .6, but .8 was just awful!

firefox
by Kev on Tue 12th Apr 2005 21:50 UTC

uuuhh... try 1.02

Give it time
by Anonymous on Tue 12th Apr 2005 23:24 UTC

First of all there is money in open source. Look at all the top developers in linux, they are all getting payed to work on there code. People have to realize that linux is relatively new compared to Windows. Sure linux has existed for 15-20 years, but only has had large scale development in the last 6 years and this was mostly server development. Now the eyes are on the desktop. Look how far linux has come along in the last 6 years. It is only going to get better and faster.

Just wait until the boiling point hits. It is hard as hell to hit 20% in the desktops, but after that 50% is easy.

@kev
by Chris on Wed 13th Apr 2005 00:59 UTC

[chris@rachel ~]$ firefox --version
Mozilla Firefox 1.0.2, Copyright (c) 2004 mozilla.org

Thanks, already there ;) . .9 was pretty good, it was just version .8 that was obnoxious. Although, 1.x still has some issues, but they could also be my extensions :/.

marketing and piracy
by rain on Wed 13th Apr 2005 01:49 UTC

I don't really get the point of this article. It's already happening. The past years a lot of open source projects have been focusing on making their software more attractive for a wider audience. Many of them have graphics artists and UI designers on their teams, something that was a rare find five years ago.
The only Windows users I've heard complaining over the Gnome desktop for example are experienced users who are used to having things a certain way and refuse to change. Most avarage users that sit in front of my Ubuntu box has never had a problem using it, and some even wanted to switch because they think it looks so clean and consistant compared to Windows.
For the people who only use pre-installed software, a good linux distro can be very attractive. For more advanced users it still has a long way to go in my opinion.

The only thing that is keeping opensource software from gaining much popularity is marketing and piracy in my opinion. To most people word processing is equal with MS Word, image editing = Photoshop, audio recording = Cubase or ProTools, PC = Windows etc. These are names that has been around forever, and such names takes a lot of marketing and time to wipe away. It can be done though, how many young people know about Word Perfect these days for example?
But the opensource world just doesn't have the money for that kind of marketing.

However, a lot of open source software or lesser known proprietary software for that matter would have been more popular if it wasn't for piracy.
People rather use a pirated version of MS Word to write a simple letter than to download OOo or AbiWord, they prefer to use Photoshop CS over Gimp 2.0 to scale down their family photos etc. It's not because it's better, but because it's more comfortable. Comfortable to know that they are using a professional grade software, comfortable because they don't have to learn anything new. And they don't need to pay anything either way.

These are the main issues in my opinion. But they aren't impossible to overcome. It takes time however, a lot of time.

All I know I learned from bacteria
by openartist on Wed 13th Apr 2005 04:03 UTC

I think this article hit on something key. In my experience the OS community is learning more and more about making OS sustainable and palpable for the mainstream pallette but there's still quite a ways to go. And in my opinion part of that journey is in destroying this illusory "Us vs. Them" scenario that every Free Software/Open Source extremist stands by. What's amazing about OS is it's ability to TRANSCEND current operating systems and software but also INCLUDE. And it isn't possible to do the former before the latter, it's the nature of evolution itself in all natural systems. It seems the more that OS embraces the modes and methods of of an older paradigm rather then rejecting them out of ignorance or elitism OS will be empowered with all their gifts and yet shine beyond their flaws. There should be as much innovation as integration, then nothing is left behind. And when nothing is left behind people will have no other choice but to adopt OS, because it will be the best OS, nothing will compare. It can evolve and change faster to the user's needs than any other operating system; it's a super-organism that can adapt to the evolutionary pressures caused by it's environment near an instant. That's amazing. But what we currently lack is integration, which Apple and Microsoft both have, so cheers to them! Credit's do where credit's earned! Like old religions that have been around for thousands of years they rely on their traditions for stability. If it isn't broke, why fix it? If people buy it, why radically change it? Whereas the open source community is constantly clammering at each other and splintering like broken glass--the collective OS community is schizophrenic. Get it? No? Synopsis: INTEGRATE, INNOVATE, INTEGRATE, INNOVATE, or INCLUDE, TRANSCEND, INCLUDE, TRANSCEND, and on and on and up and up into infinity we go ever striving for perfection and always almost getting there.

"From the many to the One" -Andrew Cohen

-Paul

That is the point.....
by neopara on Wed 13th Apr 2005 06:29 UTC

That is the point of opensource, the source code is open to support integration. Granted it is not all there, but at the same time there is more. Like rhythembox turning down the volume when your phone rings (via modem).All these proprietary frameworks that are made for integration fail because the companies hide their api or charge money for it. The source is the best framework for integration.

Here is a cool idea, mix apt-get/emerge/yum with dashboard. So when you visit a application website, dashboard will notify you that apt-get has the app in it's repository. Source code allows you to do this, but being a third party doesn't. You will have to wait for microsoft to implement the framework. I pefer not to wait and just do it. In microsoft land you are always at their mercy.

One more thing, fuck companies that want to put their proprietary apps on linux. GPL (this includes linux kernel) was started for freedom and openness. Why are all these people coming to linux now and want to change this? If you like closed commercial apps then stay with Windows. It really pisses me off when I hear Free Software/Open Source extremist from people that have been using linux for 1-2 years. Again if you don't believe in gpl then don't use it, but the linux kernel is one of them.

RE: That is the point
by openartist on Wed 13th Apr 2005 08:33 UTC

"One more thing, fuck companies that want to put their proprietary apps on linux. GPL (this includes linux kernel) was started for freedom and openness. Why are all these people coming to linux now and want to change this? If you like closed commercial apps then stay with Windows. It really pisses me off when I hear Free Software/Open Source extremist from people that have been using linux for 1-2 years. Again if you don't believe in gpl then don't use it, but the linux kernel is one of them."

That is part of my point and highlights the problem. What I'm saying is the whole "if they don't like it they can shove it" attitude has got to go. Open Source belongs to everyone and no one, it's indiscriminate of how long you've used it and how you use it(as a power user or a "newbie"). This isn't just about the GPL it's about the attitudes we hold. Nobody owns Open Source and we can only hope to act in it's best interest.

And in terms of why people are "trying to change all of this" I think it could be simply that they are looking for ways of integrating working in an open source model while paying the bills and feeding their family. It comes down to that, from what I see. We need to keep in mind that Microsoft, Sun, and Apple (and others), not only provide software but also livelihoods for millions of people. They are businesses that exist and function according to certain laws that permeate our entire economy. You should read Jeremy Rifkin because he talks about the economy of the future, and basically how radically different it'll function. Open Source will probably play into the model I imagine. But we have to be patient and have enough foresight to see that if the world just suddenly used open source software as it is, we'd probably send our economies into shock and put millions of people out of work. And considering that India has about 3 times out population with eager and skilled programmers waiting to "make it" they and about another few million from the middle east and asia would far outnumber any western software or service firms. They can offer anything cheaper because their cost of living is lower. You see, after a certain percentage of conversion the monster will be unleashed. It's like weight being put on a trigger of a gun. When the bullet has been fired you can't change it's direction. Where we are now is finding out where to point the thing. And the decisions we make are very very important because they'll decide the economic/socio/political forms that'll take shape in the future. Shooting from the hip is ill advised.

Re: Good Question
by raboof on Wed 13th Apr 2005 08:52 UTC

Open source software, however, still has the same problems with copyright and patents. So its like trying to teach a class with free books, pencils and paper in the middle of a minefield.

I believe you understand it, but thought it would be good to clarify this: Intellectual Property is a real danger, something people and companies should be very careful with. However, it is not limited to Open Source: in fact probably the chance that OSS code illegally finds its way into proprietary code is higher than the chance that proprietary code enters OSS software.

On other words: you don't run more risk using OSS code than you do using proprietary code, and for both you should read and understand the license.

bleargh
by Anonymous on Wed 13th Apr 2005 14:36 UTC

Personally I think the title (and therefore the thesis) of this article could have been better.

How's about: "What creators of high quality software can teach creators of low quality software".

Let's face it: zealots (of ALL kinds) aside, there is strong and weak software and the development method doesn't guarantee either. However, I would be interested in getting away from the presumptions like those the article makes, and instead focus and what good quality software is made of. Let's look at success stories, whether proprietary or open source, and see what they have in common. Then we can learn to make better software for everyone.

Does this make sense?