Aaron Siego, one of the KDE developers, recently posted a very public rant against porting OSS applications to proprietary platforms like win32. I, a self professed zealot for all things FOSS, strongly disagree with Mr. Siego. The linked article is my rebuttal to his statements.
My Rebuttal To Aaron Siego
Submitted by Sean Parsons 2004-12-24 Rumors 22 Comments
He has an opinion, you have yours.
Oh my! They differ! It doesn’t really matter because neither of you can be wrong nor right, that’s the attribute of opinions.
Why don’t we all just go out and have a merry Christmas
I will be honest, I have not read either of both, rant and re-rant – why should I, it is obvious what is written in there. Here are my two cents:
Looking at the quality of existing operating systems, any approach of decoupling productive applications from the operating system level has to be welcomed.
OTOH, if that is desireable it is unavoidable that applications become useful e.g. on win32 installations as well.
IMHO in terms of the demands I issued above “good” examples are The Gimp, OpenOffice.org, VLC.
This conduct has its weaknesses as has any other, but it reflects what I as an application developer try to accomplish currently.
Nice X-Mas, happy new year, Tilman.
You could at least write his name correctly, if you answer to his opinion.
Personally, I think we may eventually develope an invisibility to an OS that will render which one is being used irrelevant, and that is what I think we may be starting to see with OSS software developing for a variety of platforms, including some, SkyOS or OS/2 for example, that most software developers either ignore or don’t have an economic incentive to develope for.
Cross platform developement of open source code is, in the end, going to help level the usage of platforms based on subtle preferences rather than cause one to win over the others, because this isn’t a war, it is about using what feels most natural to you, about using an OS that helps you do your best, and still using those apps, or at least those features of apps even if the apps are actually different, that help you get your job done.
Now, how about an open source dreamweaver?
They have a windows binary available, but pay-only. If you paid $300 for Windows, what’s another $15 for a great client like xchat? It’s a way for them to raise funds and let people know that this great client is also available on a free software platform at no cost. So not only does it provide a migration path, it helps fund development and encourage a switch to a free software platform. I would like to see the Gimp and Inkscape and Gaim follow their lead, though it would be nice for OOo and Firefox to remain without cost to reduce the impact of the Microsoft Monopoly for us all.
Now, how about an open source dreamweaver?
Well, let us at least have cross platform Dreamweaver, i.e.
something that run at least on MacOS, Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD, Windows…
Even the closed sorced Dreamweaver is so extensible that you can transform it beyond all recognition using the hooks provided by Macromedia. Not that I would mind if it was free software though.
The lack of Dreamwever, and better illustration/image tools than inkscape and gimp is probably one reason why the free desktop doesnt appeal to the market.
so you believe it fair to charge for the version on one platform but not another?
I can’t see that being fair. I agree, however, that OSS does not need to be free, and I would be happy to pay a reasonable price for XChat (I use it and I was never charged for it) while the reason I use GAIM is that it does work on all my machines, Linux and Windows while I use a client based on it in Mac.
Porting OSS software to Windows will yield only good for the OSS community.
As Microsoft knows, the key to this business is in the “network externality” or, like Metcalf’s law, added users make the network more valuable for the other users. This is obviously true for HTML and Word. The more people that use Word, the more useful it is for _me_ to use Word because I can send my Word docs around to other people. And as more people read docs in HTML, more documents are produced in HTML, providing more value to the people, etc, etc.
Due to the power of these network externalities, applications drive the choice of OS. I don’t use Linux because I need to use Outlook, Word, etc. If there were good OSS substitutes available for Windows (and, I know, there are), then I would shift to the substitutes and _then_ shift to an OSS OS.
Why do web hosting companies use Linux? Because it’s Linux? Or because it does a fine job of running Apache, PHP and Perl? I would argue that it’s the latter.
If OSS applications are _not_ ported to Windows, then they’ll be relegated to niches in the server or developer space. They may grow out of that niche to dominate the world, but it’s going to take a lot longer than if they ported themselves to Windows, too.
Why exactly do this people think OSS applications are ported from linux TO windows and not FROM windows to linux. The way i see it mozilla and oo.o where ported from win32 to other OSes.
If you want people to change to an OSS OS then make a better OS than windows, otherwise you’re just trying to blackmail them and treating them like sheep, just like microsoft does!
If you want a real rebuttle then read http://www.kdedevelopers.org/node/view/759 written by a fellow KDE developer Kurt Pfeifle.
I think a rebuttle was needed, but this wasn’t what i was looking for. I think this should have focused on the obvious things. If you are a big believer in FOSS because of the whole user freedom type mind set, then you should look at porting open source apps to windows as a good thing. What kind of freedom and choice is it if you trying to force users not to use a particular OS. It’s just plain stupid to be all about freedom and so for for users, and then no want people who use windows to use open source apps.
The people who don’t want apps ported to windows are simply the insane linux zealots (i think this is more of an issue with linux people, i don’t see BSD an other Open Source OS groups being like this that much). They are the type with insane linux taking over the world fantasies, think MS is evil, think anything proprietary is evil, think everything must be done to get people away from MS (not because of any solid reason, but just pure blind MS hatred).
If you are a believer in Opensource you should be happy to see such apps used anyplace. Furthermore this will only help people move to other platforms since they get to keep the apps they used on windows. If there was no apps being ported to windows, people would be even less aware of things like Linux.
The lack of Dreamwever, and better illustration/image tools than inkscape and gimp is probably one reason why the free desktop doesnt appeal to the market.
I tend to agree about the lack of Dreamweaver and Illustrator on Linux, however I strongly disagree about Gimp, considering the maturity attained by version 2 (now at 2.2). Except if you work for print (and thus need Pantone colors + solid CMYK support), Photoshop has now very few advantages over Gimp. I use both extensively (Photoshop at work and Gimp at home) and honestly, Gimp is now so close to PS in all areas except print that I’d be hard-pressed to say which one is better for web work/computer imagery.
Meanwhile, Inkscape is a cool little program, but it’s still far from being a real competitor to Illustrator.
It is a bit sad that you saw fit to attack asiego personally. Also I think you misinterpreted him, he doesn’t feel nearly as strongly about these subjects as you apparently do, he was just voicing a hypothesis. For some reason you decided this was some kind of attack on the prinicpals of open source.
At least this is how I took your opinion piece to mean. Apologies if I didn’t get your meaning.
IMO his opinions have a reasonable basis, but nothing will stop porting to Windows, and nothing really should as it’s very hard to see what will happen until you try. Most likely his conclusions that MS will fight back harder and make our platform less competitive are true, but they might well happen even if we never ported anything to Windows.
Most people didn’t understand aaron at all. His important points were that as Open Source developers we depend on good amounts of users to test, use and develop our software. He is worried that porting to Windows could reduce the amount of good development that goes into KDE/etc. He is no zealot, and he is not trying to reduce the freedoms people have with OSS.
Porting to Windows may have excellent effects, it may not. The series of pieces that have recieved scrutiny recently are merely discussing both sides of the coin.
One thing that might stop me porting my apps to Windows is the fact that Windows users in general are far less likely to report bugs or help me improve my application than free OS users.
Not everything in OSS development is concerned with breaking up the Microsoft monopoly. In fact very, very little development time is spent with that goal in my experience.
And you know, the good thing about OSS is that even when the “original” version becomes payware, like xchat, there’s always somebody who will compile it for free :>
I know when I run firefox, gaim, thunderbird and other apps on windows, then try linux and they all perform exactly as they do on my windows box but without the windows issues…it makes me want to make linux my main OS.
I strongly disagree about Gimp, considering the maturity attained by version 2 (now at 2.2). Except if you work for print (and thus need Pantone colors + solid CMYK support), Photoshop has now very few advantages over Gimp. I use both extensively (Photoshop at work and Gimp at home) and honestly, Gimp is now so close to PS in all areas except print that I’d be hard-pressed to say which one is better for web work/computer imagery.
Unfortunately many people need to do images for print as well. E.g. if you promote a product you are probably going to want printed material to put in the hands of your customers as well a nice website. But you are right in that gimp can do most if not all of the stuff that PS can do in the field of image production for computer use. The GUI for doing it could still be improved though especially with respect to handling of layers.
To be really successful gimp probably needs to be very similar to Photoshop. Not because photoshop has such a great GUI (still better than gimp) but because both gimp and photoshop is very advanced programs. Artists will not relearn if the newcommer is too different.
Just look at OpenOffice the main reason for its success is that it is similar to MS-Office both in the way you handle it, and that it can export and import in MS-Office file formats.
In response to mxcl and some others, this opinion (and yes this is just MY opinion) is not intended to disrespect Aaron; instead, it is intended to provide a differing perspective.
Obviously, no two people are going to agree one hundred percent of the time and this is just one of those situations. I think Aaron is great, and I can’t say enough about how much the community should respect him.
As far as asking me to contribute code, I have attempted a little, although I’m not a very good programmer (I’m a healthcare provider in my night job). I have also contributed artwork and some PR pieces for the community, so at least I am trying to help.
I am sorry if anyone thought I was attacking Aaron, as that was not my intention.
The original author’s point of somewhat “bashing” OSS on windows is somewhat valid and here’s why…
The guy is a KDE developer…that means he is part of a company trying to directly compete with the MicroSoft Windows desktop. Therein lies the problem. A project like KDE requires paying customers to improve. Like it or not, these guys have to get paid…and they don’t get all the “perks” of the glamourous MS employees. They just want to pay off their student loans and get a house and family. The problems is …let’s face it.. most of us read OSNews from work on a Windows PC…usually a Dell. Sure we run Linux or something else at home, but the problem is that businesses are not buying into OSS at the desktop level… the way he sees it as long as all the “good stuff” is also on windows businesses will never invest in the “extra” work to NOT use windows.
This is where Bill G. is the master business man. Sure windows is not that great, but it’s good enough. Think of it like a building with leaky plumbing. Sure, you have to punch holes in the wall to stop leaks, but you can’t simply shut down your operation to rip it all out and replace it either. Hence, the plumber that got away with the crappy job simply made more “work” for another plumber to be employed constantly “fixing” it. Windows is much the same way. Working in a manufacturing environment, IT systems are more like plumbing than accounting. Most IT is put in place because someone is “peeing in the corner” rather than a methodical need. MS capitalized perfectly on that with the PC.. They are the racketter. They don’t make the hardware, but “kingmake” to keep prices down, the don’t write device drivers, but offer “testing” for compatibility or they won’t work. MS can offer windows to Dell for impossibly low prices because MS is making it up charging fees to the CPU vendor, the chipset vendor, the sound card….you get the idea…look at Best Buy and realize that MS it getting $50-$250K per PRODUCT on the shelf!!!
That’s why OSS is continually in second place! Billions of dollars is spend by companies to “peer” in Bill’s windows. Most of it is transparent to “users”..but apparent to businesses. Of course nobody accounts for all that money…like fees for fixing leaky faucets..until you try to put in something like Linux and realize how far in you really are.
The whole business model of MS is built around “everybody” buying into the program. It’s the MS Word problem on a grand scale. As long as you have to choose “nearly free” but have to convert the “small things” [like folders of outlook email or word documents] versus cheap, but easy [i.e. windows + office prepackaged on a cheap Dell] A perfect example is OO.org. IF it’s free for everybody, why don’t more people use it to communicate between each other and the the ones that want MS Word can simply convert back? Every business could put it on every machine, for free, then you could do you work from home or send messages easily…and your recipiant could open the file in their choice of other OSS programs. The reality of the situation is that “everybody” uses MS word then complains that OO.Org can’t convert the files. Why? Because it’s too much hassle to businesses to keep 2 programs trained, learned, supported, etc. So the one that opens the “old stuff” will always win out.
As long as OSS runs on Windows, companies will never foot the investments to get the other stuff OFF windows. Things like ERP are so screwed up and so critical to business that messing with them is worse than replacing them. [like leaky pipes] A cheap ERP system may cost ONLY $50k but take 2-3 employees with benfits to keep working…and shut down millions in business if one program screws up. So business will always buy the Win/tel-Dell because they can “dabble” in free stuff but inevetiablly end up “locked-in” to windows via huge third-party software investments worth far more than the cost of a few racks Dell servers. MS has played this effect to it benifit masterfully, they’ve managed to nearly double prices in 5 years on many “enterprise” products because it’s still cheaper to pay them off than to switch.
Linux has been successful on the server only because the foundations of the web were laid out specifically to be as OS agnostic as possible. MS missed the “first adopter” wave and Linux is benifiting from the “cheaper to keep than switch” in that front… trouble is that MS is constantly adding Linux-like stability…plus the ability to use all those tied-in features. So SMBs are starting to buy windows over Linux because they end up using the server as a glorified desktop rather than a managed appliance.
I like that OSS stuff runs on windows…I benifit from it right now! [firefox] Trouble is that I’m exactly the type of person that the original person wants to “force” to switch! I’ve had a perfectly good copy of SuSe 9.0 here for 9 months. I’m in that “choose or loose” situation. It’s easier to keep the windows for the wife, kids, work than to bite the bullet and go 100% SuSe. Even though all my hobby project are Apache/MySQL/PHP based, it’s easier to keep that foot planted in the windows world than to force everybody to switch daily. Like the author pointed out, OSS needs an exclusive “killer app”. but that brings another $500 dollar “barrier to entry” into play…so it’s cheaper to wait around for the windows port that sort-of works than to spring for a whole ‘nother rig just for just a hobby project. [plus keep paying for the windows “upkeep”, virus, spyware, etc..]
From the authors standpoint, companies like KDE need “early adopter” money rather than “second hand” money to do the truly cool stuff they’d like to do. Let’s face it, most of the “big players” in the software world started as small compies that had the benifit of gullible customers wallets to fund their “innovations”. [people have paid MS for 20 years!!! to get windows XP!!!] Sun, Cisco, MS, SGI were all built up charging 200%+ markup for their initial products. OSS competitors have to come in and rebuild all that on the super-slim profits competing with likes of Dell or Walmart.
There’ll never be another “bill gates” in the software industry because the current ones are sharks enough to buy up exclusive rights to the new pies for a few tens of millions up front and prevent the “next” billion dollar competitor.
Many, many busineses buy on brand name rather than actual business use…everybody had lots of “golden” MS stock so they want to buy MS so their stocks keep going up. How many business people know the name of the Kompany that writes KDE? They don’t have front page Wall street journal, or superbowl ads so “who are they” applies to purchasing decisions.
OSS has prided itself on being for “geeks” but we all know it’s the dumb-as-rocks jock that gets the girls… it’s the same with sales. There’s billions of dollars spent on making products “cool” so people buy them…as long as OSS is “second-string” it will never get the “cool kids” onboard. of course that’s the very “cool kid” mentality that we all hate in business decisions in the first place… so the choice is awsome software nobody knows about or cool software that falls rapidly into box pushing.
It’s a lot like the political system in the US… sure anybody can vote, and anybody can run for office…but unless you are one of two parties you don’t have a snowball-chance-in-hell of being elected to anything other than a school board or town council. [or Walmart, McDonalds, etc] The whole society is too “commercial” and “sheepish” to intelligently choose the better path for society over their pocketbooks and vanity. That is possibly the most fustrating part for most OSS fans. knowing that there’s so much cooler stuff that people could do…and getting fustrated that “normal” people can’t see something so plain. I think that’s why these discussions always turn into flames: one group sees it as mearly “neat”; another sees it as “earthshattering” and that outlook makes all the difference.
It’s driving me bad.
First I was for – then again – then for .. then …
It’s so much easier when you have a nasty villain and a good all super-hero full of virtues.
To port or not to port. Dunno!
But am curious to know why GNOME is not under such dilemna about porting Evolution to Windows.
Another thing – if you port it crap (like GIMP via cygwin) it will send more negative vibes than good ones.
There is a lot of stuff to be done still in KDE for Linux.
My Konqueror crashed twice today (shhh! dont tell those MS users) …
I still can’t right click and delete an item from K-menu
KWallet pisses me off (I want to have the insecure choice of remembering my passwords without having to type my root password always)
I used to be a GNOME fan but KDE won me over – so much they’ve accelerated and superseded the former. If you slow down and concentrate on Win32 (not that you care of course) … GNOME could catch over again.
Yeah I made up my mind.
Don’t port it – seriously .. I mean noone is stopping you
but don’t drag the life-force of the KDE developing team and contributors to concentrate on [troll]such a shitty operating system[/troll] that will only change its entire library and set of protocols very soon.
We need all the effort and contribution possible.
Windows is saturated with softwares, desktop-manager-plugins, games galore, rad tools, everything. We can’t afford people to desert their efforts now.
Yeah and Merry Chrimbo (whatever)
“usually a Dell”
Hmmm, we’ve had 3 different eMachines over a five year period and only had one cd-rom go out. Even flooding the business world with catalogs like they have doesn’t necessarily make Dell the most viable, especially for a small business.
People should switch to Linux because they value their freedom, not because there’s more apps, or because the TCO is lower. If they switch to Linux because of these secondary reasons they will be nothing but a burden on OSS. These people are the ones who are after a free lunch and frankly, we have enough trouble feeding each other without feeding them too. So how is Open Source on win32 a good thing then? Porting Open Source apps to win32 is a cheap way to give users the opportunity to experience freedom for themselves. They can directly compare their freedom to copy, modify and distribute an Open Source app to the tyranny of most closed source alternatives.