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The Past, Present, and Future of OSS

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the listen-up dept.

Open Source 150

CowboyNeal writes "The nature of the open source movement and its software over the years has changed considerably. From its humble beginnings in the early 80s to mainstream Android adoption, open source software along with computers and technology as a whole has gone from the sidelines to a prevalent position in the lives of modern consumers." Read below for the rest of what CowboyNeal has to say.The open source movement that we know today has its roots in both academia and hobbyists dating back to the late 1970s and early 1980s. Before even the founding of the FSF, public domain software was available in abundance. Software packages of all sorts were freely given away or sold for the cost of copying them. It's important to note that a given piece of public domain software may or may not have come with its source code, so while it was free in the cost sense, it wasn't yet strictly free in the freedom sense. The early versions of Bell Labs Unix included the source code, which users could use to modify and extend the OS. In 1978, Bill Joy, then a graduate student at Berkeley, released the first Berkeley Software Distribution, or BSD. Rather than a complete OS, BSD was an add-on to V6 Unix. BSD would grow over the years that followed to become a nearly complete operating system. In 1983, Richard Stallman at MIT began the GNU project, to develop a free software version of Unix. By 1985, the GNU version of Emacs had its first release, and in 1987, the GNU C Compiler would follow. As parts of a possible GNU system began to coalesce, soon all that was missing was a kernel.

Both BSD and the GNU project would continue on through the early 1990s, when new catalysts for change were introduced. The release of a new BSD aimed at desktop and consumer hardware, 386BSD, was held up in courts by AT&T. Also around this time a Finnish student, Linus Torvalds, would release his first operating system kernel called Linux, in 1991. By 1992, Linux would adopt the GNU Public License, and be distributed with the userland that GNU had built. Since the GNU system was nearly complete but lacked a kernel, it was a natural pairing. Also in 1992, the BSD legal case would finally be resolved, and the parts of BSD that weren't written by AT&T were released to the public, and while it was short-lived, it became the basis for NetBSD and FreeBSD, and other BSD-based operating systems. Though In 1993, an event far bigger than just the world of software hackers took place. For the first time, private individuals could acquire access to the Internet. No longer did someone have to be affiliated with a government or educational institution to get onto the Internet. This rapid influx of enthusiasts provided new manpower for both Linux and BSD projects.

In 1995, the Apache Project would make its first release, based on the source code of NCSA HTTPd, which was nearly ubiquitous as the web server used to power the Internet. Over the years, the NCSA code would be slowly rewritten, and Apache would take over NCSA HTTPd's position as the predominant web server.

By 1998, the open source movement had rapidly grown, but hadn't yet been named as such. In early 1998, Netscape announced that they would release the source code for their flagship product, Navigator. In response to this as well as the growing popularity of Linux and BSD operating systems, the term "open source" was coined and later the Open Source Initiative (OSI) was founded by Bruce Perens and Eric S. Raymond. The OSI was founded as an organization for education and advocacy, and was inclusive of GPL, BSD, and other "open source compatible" licensed software, such as the Apache Web Server and XFree86 windowing system.

From here it seemed that the sky was the limit for open source software. Over the next few years, Linux would become the de facto server software for many organizations. While desktop market share eluded Linux outside of the hobbyist and enthusiast circles, its place in the data center would be securely cemented. In 2003, a then-little-known-of company called Android, Inc. was formed and began working on software for mobile phones. Before releasing anything, they were acquired by Google in 2005 and set to work on a mobile device platform powered by Linux. In 2007, Google and many other hardware and software companies announced the Open Handset Alliance, and unveiled the Android operating system, which was built on the Linux kernel. A year later in 2008, the first Android device would ship, and by 2010, Google would begin selling their own phones, after partnering with other manufacturers.

By 2008, another odd turn of events would happen. Microsoft was long an enemy of open source and free software, seeing them as potential competitors to its proprietary systems. Soon even the giant of the proprietary software world, would begin to utilize open source software licenses. Microsoft would go so far as to use open source software as part of Windows Azure, and eventually even donate code to the Samba project.

While Linux hasn't taken over desktops in droves here in the states, the same can't be said overseas. Traffic estimates to SourceForge consistently place domestic traffic in only the 15-20% range, meaning that anywhere from 80-85% of the downloads are going overseas, where open source is an easier sell, given the prohibitive cost of a proprietary operating system. However, given the lack of actual sales figures, it's difficult to pin down how widespread open software usage actually is. One place that Linux has won big stateside, in the form of Android, is the mobile phone market, where Android now powers 52% of the smartphones domestically, and 68% of the smartphones in the entire world. 2012 saw another milestone for Linux, when Red Hat, Inc. became the first Linux company to boast of a billion dollars of revenue within a single fiscal year.

It's still difficult to predict what the future holds for open source software. With the advent of programs such as One Laptop per Child (OLPC), which has put Linux-based laptops into the hands of nearly 2 million children, a new generation of children are being raised on open source software overseas. Government adoption of open source software is as it is in other sectors, where Linux has a foothold on the server, but hasn't made significant strides into end user territory yet. That looks to be changing somewhat, with recent movements in Jordan and France, but the change is still slow in happening.

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Niggerbuntu (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41799825)

Welcome to Niggerbuntu

Niggerbuntu is a Linux-based operating system consisting of Free and Open Source software for laptops, desktops, and servers. Niggerbuntu has a clear focus on the user and usability - it should Just Work, even if the user has only the thinking capacities of a sponge. the OS ships with the latest Gnomrilla release as well as a selection of server and desktop software that makes for a comfortable desktop experience off of a single installation CD.

It also features the packaging manager ape-ghetto, and the challenging Linux manual pages have been reformatted into the new 'monkey' format, so for example the manual for the shutdown command can be accessed just by typing: 'monkey shut-up -h now mothafukka' instead of 'man shutdown'.

Absolutely Free of Charge

Niggerbuntu is free software, and available to you free of charge, as in free beer or free stuffs you can get from looting. It's also Free in the sense of giving you rights of Software Freedom. The freedom, to run, copy, steal, distribute, study, share, change and improve the software for any purpose, without paying licensing fees.

Free software as in free beer !

Niggerbuntu is an ancient Nigger word, meaning "humanity to monkeys". Niggerbuntu also means "I am what I am because of how apes behave". The Niggerbuntu Linux distribution brings the spirit of Niggerbuntu to the software world.

The dictator Bokassa described Niggerbuntu in the following way:

        "A subhuman with Niggerbuntu is open and available to others (like a white bitch you're ready to fsck), affirming of others, does not feel threatened by the fact that other species are more intelligent than we are, for it has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that it belongs to the great monkey specie."

We chose the name Niggerbuntu for this distribution because we think it captures perfectly the spirit of sharing and looting that is at the heart of the open source movement.

Niggerbuntu - Linux for Subhuman Beings.

Re:Niggerbuntu (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41800647)

I find it hard to believe there's people like this living today.

seems a tad optimistic. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41799841)

It's heavy on positive spin, but as lacking in authenticity as a corporate press release.

Re:seems a tad optimistic. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41799897)

Corporate press release is right.

Soon even the giant of the proprietary software world, would begin to utilize open source software licenses. Microsoft would go so far as to use open source software as part of Windows Azure, and eventually even donate code to the Samba project.

Microsoft doesn't do these things out of a spirit of goodwill to FOSS - they're as hostile as ever. They contributed because they were legally bound to.

Just a heavily sanitised puff-piece.

Re:seems a tad optimistic. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41800411)

I think the sad optimism is elsewhere: MIcrosoft is the fourth largest tech company in the world, and everyone gives Google and Apple a free pass. We should be spending far less time worrying about ancient enemies and more time worrying about Google abusing OSS (ignoring copyrights and license obligations) and Apple (the 1000 lb Gorilla hawking closed source wares). What exactly are we worried about from Microsoft? They are one of the most lenient vendors out there - you can run whatever you want on their platform (even if that is slowly changing), and they have a metric ton of open source.

It isn't the 1990s anymore. The world has changed - Apple is the new Microsoft, and Google is a close second.

Re:seems a tad optimistic. (4, Insightful)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about 2 years ago | (#41800561)

Yep, and Google is also a great copyright violator in copying and storing books in electronic format without adequate permission. And it uses its 800-ton Gorilla status to send its lawyer-filled-legal minions to court to try to win itself the free and solitary right to side-step copyright issues in any and all books that exist in libraries that have signed on for this corrupt mis-appropriation of private products in book and illustration form. Even the storage of this data at Google violates copyright even if they do not re-distribute it.

Re:seems a tad optimistic. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41800583)

Total bullshit and FUD.

  Apple is part of the Microsoft/Apple/Oracle/Facebook axis of evil companies who are predating on the rest of the market with patent trolling, FUD and application/format lockin.

Google is far more FOSS friendly than MS is now and ever has been.

Re:seems a tad optimistic. (4, Informative)

andrew3 (2250992) | about 2 years ago | (#41800859)

Google is far more FOSS friendly than MS is now and ever has been.

Google has loads of proprietary software:

  • Gmail
  • Google Docs
  • Chrome
  • Google Earth
  • Google Maps
  • YouTube
  • Google+
  • ...

Sorry, but I don't necessarily consider the enemy of my enemy to be my friend.

Re:seems a tad optimistic. (5, Interesting)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | about 2 years ago | (#41800999)

Proprietary software does not equal being an enemy of FOSS. Google is very FOSS friendly, their problem is they are not very privacy friendly.

Re:seems a tad optimistic. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41802605)

The spend millions each year on the google summer of code.

They're plenty FOSS friendly. (2)

Kurrelgyre (548338) | about 2 years ago | (#41802691)

There's also Chromium and ChromiumOS, AOSP, VP8, V8...

Re:seems a tad optimistic. (1)

Smartcowboy (679871) | about 2 years ago | (#41800833)

It is official; Netcraft now confirms: Slashdot is dying

One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered fat nerds talking about Linux community when IDC confirmed that Slashdot's market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all message boards that normal people don't care about. Coming on the heels of a recent Netcraft survey which plainly states that Slashdot has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. Slashdot is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last ]in the recent Richard Stallman-lookalike contest.

You don't need to be a Kreskin to predict Slashdot's future. The hand writing is on the wall: Slashdot faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for Sashdot because Slashdot is dying. Things are looking very bad for Slashdot. As many of us are already aware, Slashdot continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood.

Cowboy Neal is the most endangered of them all, having lost 93% of recent polls. The sudden and unpleasant departures of long time article developers CmdrTaco and Jon Katz only serve to underscore the point more clearly. There can no longer be any doubt: Slashdot is dying.

Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

Kuro5shin leader Rusty states that there are 7000 users of his crappy site. How many users of Ars Technica are there? Let's see. The number of fat losers at comic book shops versus people using the expression "Micro$oft" on Usenet is roughly in ratio of 5 to 1. Therefore, there are about 7000/5 = 1400 Ars Technica users. Open Source posts on Usenet are
about half of the volume of posts about people eating diswasher soap. Therefore there are about 700 users of Bitcoin. A recent article put Tolkein fans at about 80 percent of the
Slashdot market. Therefore there are (7000+1400+700)*4 = 36400 Slashdot users. This is consistent with the number of people buying Real Dolls.

Due to the troubles out of Andover, abysmal sales and so on, NewsForge went out of business and was taken over by OSDI who sell another troubled software development model. Now Feed.com is also dead, its corpse turned over to yet another charnel house.

All major surveys show that Slashdothas steadily declined in market share. Slashdot is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If Slashdot is to survive at all it will be among Cheeto-staind t-shirt wearers. Slashdot continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save it at this point in time. For all practical purposes, Slashdot is dead.

Fact: Slashdot is dying

Re:seems a tad optimistic. (1)

dgharmon (2564621) | about 2 years ago | (#41801669)

"It's heavy on positive spin, but as lacking in authenticity as a corporate press release."

Which of the following are lacking in authenticity?

ref: 386BSD, Academia, Android operating system, Apache Project, AT&T , Bell Labs Unix, Bill Joy, Bruce Perens, BSD, Emacs , Eric S. Raymond, France, FreeBSD, FSF, GNU C Compiler, GNU Public License, Google, GPL, hardware, Internet., Jordan, kernel, Linus Torvalds, Linux, Linux kernel, Microsoft, MIT , NCSA, NetBSD, Netscape , One Laptop per Child (OLPC), Open Handset Alliance,, Open Source , Open Source Initiative (OSI) , OSI, Public Domain Software, Red Hat, Inc., Richard Stallman , Samba project., Source Code, SourceForge, Windows Azure, XFree86 ...
--

psychogenetic fallacy+straw man fallacy

ONLY BEEN TWNETY-SIX YEARS !! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41799873)

Give it some time !! One of these years, in some universe, it will, uh, hm, oh, nevermind !! One can bullshit for only so long before even the bullshiters know it's nothing but bullshit !!

Re:ONLY BEEN TWNETY-SIX YEARS !! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41800191)

And yet odds are you posted that with a browser based on an open source engine. On a website that uses open source software. Your connection to the internet most likely depends on an open source stack. Most smart phones are based on open source software. If you use GPS... well you get the idea.

Re:ONLY BEEN TWNETY-SIX YEARS !! (4, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | about 2 years ago | (#41800259)

The issue is that it is not really economical to put together a computer from scratch, adding OS later, even if the OS if basically free. When the first personal computers came out, the IBM and the Apple , these were tightly integrated systems that the use could turn on, put some software on, and then use. The IBM used a new software, MS DOS, because it could not get a deal to use CP/M, the predominate software of the day. But MS was made to run on one computer, just like Apple. CP/M, which could run across processors, lost out.

For a short time, after Compaq reversed engineered the IBM BIOS and cheap components because available, it was cheap to buidl your own, but that was only because the markup on IBM and Compaq machines were very high and MS liscensing was very liberal. But you still had limited hardware. When MS cracked down on licensing, charging huge prices for single purchases, and subsidizing the OEM machine in exchange for exclusivity, that time ended.

Which is to say we are not going to see a fully open source desktop anytime soon. Consumers want a unified experience that can only come form a corporate design. That is MS, Apple, Google. Users expect the hardware to be subsidized, and is not going to pay the full price up front for a sophisticated piece of hardware. This was the problem with the original mac and newton. The hardware was expensive, almost no one had a GPU, not that sophisticated a BIOS, but was too expensive.

That said, increasing parts of the OS an user experience are open source. Of course MS has little OSS in it's operating system, and that may leave a path open for some entrepreneur to create a MS compatible system with an OSS core. Of course since people who use MS products think everything should be free, it seems that as soon as an OSS core is out there, there will be few takers to pay for it since MS is 'free' with purchase of a computer.

Which leves that application and utility software. OSS has had an effect we see on software prices. OSS software is available and widely used by those that don't get MS for free through corporate or pirate channels. In fact, IMHO, the best way to push OSS is to let the anti-pirated software people win. If software piracy is really no longer possible, then MS is either going to have to cave in pricing, or face the fate of DVD, Bluray and Blockbuster.

I call BS. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41800401)

Desktops I've worked with for the last 15 years has been all open source.

From managing supercomputers, network management, and administrative systems.

All were open source.

Re:ONLY BEEN TWNETY-SIX YEARS !! (0)

colinrichardday (768814) | about 2 years ago | (#41800837)

Consumers want a unified experience that can only come form a corporate design. That is MS, Apple, Google. Users expect the hardware to be subsidized, and is not going to pay the full price up front for a sophisticated piece of hardware.

Canonical and Red Hat aren't corporations? Ubuntu pretty much installed itself on my laptop. Also, how is hardware subsidized?

Re:ONLY BEEN TWNETY-SIX YEARS !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41800935)

Given the list of companies, I suspect the GP is referring to smartphone (and related) "subsidies" by ISPs, which are really loans with the payments hidden in the monthly service fee.

I'm not sure what the GP meant by "unified experience"... one of the things that bothers me when I use Windows is the lack of a unified experience that I am used to on Linux because in proprietary systems every group that implements some functionality wants to be visible so to get a complete product you often need multiple plugins which all want to make sure you know you are using them.

Re:ONLY BEEN TWNETY-SIX YEARS !! (2)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about 2 years ago | (#41800861)

The issue is that it is not really economical to put together a computer from scratch, adding OS later, even if the OS if basically free.

Sure it is - either you spend less, or you get more computing power for your same amount of $. And, if you can build, then just slowing upgrading parts as they die or become too slow/small for your needs.

Re:ONLY BEEN TWNETY-SIX YEARS !! (2)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about 2 years ago | (#41800971)

I can't tell if you're confusing PCs with phones, confusing hardware with software, trolling, or just high. There's just too many non sequiturs to be able to tell.

PC hardware isn't subsidised. (A discount on Windows is not a hardware subsidy.)

I've been running an OSS desktop or laptop almost exclusively for the last 7+ years.

It's been close to ten years since I've encountered a PC that I couldn't install Linux on.

I'm not running OSS because I didn't build my laptop from parts? WTF?

Tightly integrated systems? (1)

dgharmon (2564621) | about 2 years ago | (#41801763)

"The issue is that it is not really economical to put together a computer from scratch, adding OS later, even if the OS if basically free".

The OEMs get huge discounts compared to the smaller box assemblers. Microsoft also gets to 'certify' the hawdware that it'll allow Windows to run on. This is equivilent to BP certifying what cars can be built and run on the (BP?) highways.

"For a short time, after Compaq reversed engineered the IBM BIOS and cheap components because available, it was cheap to buidl your own, but that was only because the markup on IBM and Compaq machines were very high and MS liscensing was very liberal".

Purely as an accident of history, IBM neglected to get an exclusive license for DOS so when later on Columbia Data Products [wikipedia.org] were the first to clean-room the BIOS, Microsoft were more than willing to license DOS to third party companies like Compaq. "Which is to say we are not going to see a fully open source desktop anytime soon. Consumers want a unified experience that can only come form a corporate design"

Because MS leans on the OEMS to not put one out, they are only allowed to sell servers or hide the desktop version on their website ...

Best Linux distro 2012 [techradar.com]

Re:ONLY BEEN TWNETY-SIX YEARS !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41802291)

I do think your history is a bit dodgy. However, I'm not sure I agree with your main point. We do have open source desktops. Even ignoring the underlying operating system there are dozens of combinations of window manager and desktop environment to choose from. And I'm nor convinced that people do want the kind of unification you mention. Speaking personally, back in 1992 I first found Unix to be a bit terrifying after previously using aos/vs. It was inconsistent and seemed primitive by comparison. What it took was a change of mindset. 20 years later and a dozen different Unix implementations on , I really couldn't imagine going back. Sure, I can see the benefit of that old o/s but I get so much more out of unix , especially Linux. The chief benefit came from Unix having open standards. Linux and so much open source s/w has taken this the next step.

Re:ONLY BEEN TWNETY-SIX YEARS !! (1)

Simon Brooke (45012) | about 2 years ago | (#41802765)

Which is to say we are not going to see a fully open source desktop anytime soon. Consumers want a unified experience that can only come form a corporate design. That is MS, Apple, Google. Users expect the hardware to be subsidized, and is not going to pay the full price up front for a sophisticated piece of hardware. This was the problem with the original mac and newton. The hardware was expensive, almost no one had a GPU, not that sophisticated a BIOS, but was too expensive.

Speaking for myself, I've been running mainly-open-source desktops since 1999 (BSD 4.2, which was not entirely open source at the time, running Tom's Window Manager [wikipedia.org] ), and entirely-open-source desktops since 1993 (Linux 0.99pl11, also running TWM). There was a dreadfully crude graphical shell for DOS back in those days called 'Windows', but you couldn't really do anything useful with it. Over the intervening years Windows has improved, and now the Windows desktop is nearly as productive as contemporary Linux desktops... but I've never seen any compelling reason to switch.

2013 Year of the Linux Desktop (5, Funny)

AntiBasic (83586) | about 2 years ago | (#41799899)

Hey guys did you hear? 2013 will finally be the year of linux desktop!

Re:2013 Year of the Linux Desktop (5, Funny)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about 2 years ago | (#41799925)

I thought it was the year the Desktop died. Isn't that what Windows 8 is trying to do?

Re:2013 Year of the Linux Desktop (5, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | about 2 years ago | (#41800015)

I thought it was the year the Desktop died. Isn't that what Windows 8 is trying to do?

Well if you include making it depressed and suicidal, I'd have to agree. Otherwise I'd say Apple is doing most of the killing.

Re:2013 Year of the Linux Desktop (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41800425)

Exactly. Slashdot is destined to be a relic if it keeps worrying about Ballmer and ignores Apple.

Re:2013 Year of the Linux Desktop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41800457)

Not sure if trolling or doesn't know about OS X.

Please be serious (0)

bogaboga (793279) | about 2 years ago | (#41799947)

Err,

2013 will finally be the year of linux desktop!

Much as you're entitled to your opinion, you aren't entitled to your own facts. The issue is: -

You just made up that statement. Right?

Re:2013 Year of the Linux Desktop (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41800011)

1996 was the year of the Linux desktop for me. My lawn... you're standing on it.

Re:2013 Year of the Linux Desktop (1)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | about 2 years ago | (#41802671)

It's a good thing you are all in favour of openness then. Otherwise I should get off your lawn.

Re:2013 Year of the Linux Desktop (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 2 years ago | (#41800109)

Not sure what you mean by that. My desktop has been linux for a decade at least. The only time I go into Windows is to use OneNote, and if I could find some substitute for that, windows would be gone entirely.

Re:2013 Year of the Linux Desktop (1)

drosboro (1046516) | about 2 years ago | (#41800865)

That's funny... On my work laptop, I use Linux specifically for Xournal, because I prefer it (in it's Linux binary form) so heavily to OneNote... Then, for all the other stuff I have to run at work, I boot back into Windows. But, Xournal doesn't have handwriting recognition, search, notebook organization, etc... just really, really awesome for producing miniscule pdfs of my handwritten notes.

Re:2013 Year of the Linux Desktop (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41801569)

What he means, you deliberately obtuse dipshit, is that Linux is not suitable for desktop use for about 98% of the general public, and has been in that position since people started proclaiming $year++ to be the "Year of the Linux Desktop."

And it will remain in that position every year - as it has for years - which is why the joke is funny.

NOW do you understand what he meant by that?

Anonymous Open Source advocates ;) (-1, Troll)

dgharmon (2564621) | about 2 years ago | (#41801691)

> What he means, you deliberately obtuse dipshit, is .. :0

Re:2013 Year of the Linux Desktop (-1)

camperdave (969942) | about 2 years ago | (#41801813)

Linux is perfectly fine for 98% of the general public.

Re:2013 Year of the Linux Desktop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41802213)

Yeah Desktop Linux is perfectly fine for 98% of the general public who don't use it.

Keep sticking your head in the sand.

Re:2013 Year of the Linux Desktop (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | about 2 years ago | (#41802503)

Unlike Windows, which is clearly unsuitable for the desktops of the 98% who do use it.

Have you ever had to support Windows users? While I accept that users are a bit of a problem, they would be a lot less of a problem if they weren't using Windows!

User error: strike any user to continue!

Who cares (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41800119)

Total Linux implementations dwarf Windows. Android + other embedded Linux + servers and other infrastructure exist in huge numbers. The desktop is nowhere near the majority of installed os.

Re:2013 Year of the Linux Desktop (5, Interesting)

murdocj (543661) | about 2 years ago | (#41800591)

Well, seriously, it's pretty much now or never for the mythical "linux desktop". With Windows 8 MS has managed to simultaneously piss off the customers, the hardware vendors, and the 3rd party software vendors. If Linux can't make inroads into the desktop market over the next year or two, when will it?

Re:2013 Year of the Linux Desktop (2)

Kjella (173770) | about 2 years ago | (#41801075)

Well, seriously, it's pretty much now or never for the mythical "linux desktop". With Windows 8 MS has managed to simultaneously piss off the customers, the hardware vendors, and the 3rd party software vendors. If Linux can't make inroads into the desktop market over the next year or two, when will it?

You know I was thinking that in 2000 when they released Windows ME (win2k was their business line) and in 2006 when they released Vista. so I'm not holding my breath after Win8 in 2012 and I'll give you good odds on 2018, 2024 and 2030. Much of the OSS community is caught in the same smart phone/tablet hype as everyone else and make fancy new touch-friendly environments, but all those applications aren't going to be touch-friendly any time soon. That sort of thing just doesn't happen very quickly in the OSS world, it's like replacing 8-bit RGB in GIMP - implicit keyboard/mouse access is rampant throughout the whole system. So that'll be another 1% OSS die-hards while the opportunity to strike at the desktop while the others' attention is elsewhere will go largely unused.

On the bright side though, Linux will always be coming back for another attempt. And with Android on smart phones and tablets things will continue to happen on the graphical side too, not just embedded, servers and supercomputers that often don't have an UI. And then I'm just thinking market, not the progress made by Intel and AMD on open source drivers for the desktop. It's not like they're not making progress, it's just that the competition and the goal posts keep moving too. Eventually things will mature and the OS you have will be mostly like the OS you had 10 years ago - and Linux is not 10 years behind. I just don't think we're there any time soon.

Re:2013 Year of the Linux Desktop (3, Interesting)

murdocj (543661) | about 2 years ago | (#41801123)

But this is a much bigger problem for MS than ME or Vista. It's not a poorly performing iteration of the same O/S. They have changed the UI to confuse users. They are building their own hardware and thus threatening the hardware vendors. Valve is worried that they are going to lock out 3rd party distribution of software. It's not just users who are annoyed, it's businesses that now have pretty strong business case to make an alternative available.

Why does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41802733)

Isn't it obvious that desktop computing will fade away in the consumer market? Within time, only professionals will need desktop workstations, and the common consumer will overwhelmingly choose touch-based devices. Think about what the common consumer actually does with a desktop computer. Not much that can't be done with a tablet, right?

The "year of the linux desktop" would have been nice, but it's not the end of the world. After all, open source software dominates the server, embedded, and supercomputer markets. Is that not something to be proud of?

Re:2013 Year of the Linux Desktop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41800631)

I happened to be one of those who use both Linux and Windows (Vista) on a regular basis. And I'm not a big gamer. For regular tasks like web surfing, email, IM, etc, Linux is more secure, and also snappier, than Windows in my experience. Please also note that I work with Windows 7 in the office.

However, I have to say that hardware support is still insufficient for Linux to become the desktop OS of choice. My Logitech Orbit AF webcam and Canon iP4200 both work at a much degraded backward compatible mode rather than what I paid for. I still have to rely on the sluggish Windows machine when I have to access them with their full capability. Until this kind of problem get fixed, Linux really don't stand a chance to replace Windows.

2013 - The Year After the Year ... (1)

Andy Prough (2730467) | about 2 years ago | (#41800671)

... that Linux (cloud) and Linux (Android) and BSD (Apple) made the stand-alone Desktop obsolete.

The CowboyNeal option (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41799913)

When all others fail, CowboyNeal.

640K ought to be enough for anybody (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41799975)

.. see where it lead us to!

OSS is now the CIA ... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41799993)

I guess you geeks haven't been paying attention ...

Two eras of open source software (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41800003)

From the '70s to 1995 it was The Impossible Dream. A small band of dreamers nominally led by Richard Stallman, up against corporate goliaths like Microsoft and IBM. Can you possibly imagine such a world? The theme song would've been "Imagine" by John Lennon.

After Netscape Navigator exploded on the scene in 1995 and introduced the masses to the WWW, leveraging the exponential growth of telecom bandwidth exploiting optical fiber, it became Inevitable. That's because the staff at Microsoft, IBM, AOL, Netscape, and other tech companies couldn't pivot fast enough to meet the explosion in demand for technological change. The situation was ripe for freeware that could be modified and extended by tech-savvy customers, and for emerging standards to be crafted from the bottom up, rather from the usual consortium of a handful of giant tech companies eager to maintain their respective customer bases.

Re:Two eras of open source software (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41800681)

Actually, what IBM was producing in the 70s was open source. Good way to try some revisionist history there. Fucking fraud.

Re:Two eras of open source software (1)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | about 2 years ago | (#41800871)

Great post. Up until 1995, hackers who believed in sharing ruled in the OSS movement. Then, money came. Redhat figured out how to package OSS to make money selling support to corporations, while Debian figured out how to deliver binary packages with complex inter-dependencies. With the rise of binary distribution of packages in popular distros, we saw the fall of hackers sharing with each other. Instead of sharing directly, hackers have to lobby to have their projects included in popular distros. The process is several times harder than publishing an app in the Apple App Store, where hackers are much freer to share their work. It's heartbreaking.

Re:Two eras of open source software (3, Interesting)

bug1 (96678) | about 2 years ago | (#41800925)

The heartbreaking thing for me is that the work of hackers who believed in sharing is now the tool coprorations use to enslave users.

Copyleft is uselss when corporations can use alternative methods to ensure free software is unmodifiable.

  - apple put a shiny layer ontop of BSD and make billions, cant modify it.
  - google create android ontop of Linux and then (something), cant modify 99% of android devices.
  - Cloud companies creating solutions based on free software and users commonly dont even on their own data let alone anything else.
  - Big sites like amazon/ebay/facebook taking as much as they can get, giving nothing back.

Re:Two eras of open source software (2)

bug1 (96678) | about 2 years ago | (#41800957)

oh and;
  - media companies (MPAA/RIAA etc) only allowing distribution on devices that can be modified by end users.
  - UEFI making it difficult to even boot free software on some architectures.

Free software movement has made so much progress in the field of software, but its the enemies from other fields that are destroying it.

TiVo, corporate locking of software, and GPL-v3 (3, Informative)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about 2 years ago | (#41801881)

Don't forget the canonical example of TiVo and the TiVo-ization [wikipedia.org] of GPL software behind a crypto-graphic signing of code. The TiVO one-way no-share-backsies approach is exactly what led to the necessity of creating GPL-V3 [wikipedia.org] which expressly forbids doing what TiVo did:

.

actively blocking users from running modified software on its hardware by design

Re:Two eras of open source software (1)

blackest_k (761565) | about 2 years ago | (#41802553)

maybe slightly off topic but some might find it interesting, i use 3g at home as i live out in the country, i bought an intellinet router which i'm fairly certain is Linux based. Anyway if you plug in a usb modem it connects to 3g.
I also have an android mobile phone. both services use prepay credit.

last night i'm on my way home from buying credit for my phone or my modem, and thinking this is a pain if i put it on the modem i can't make calls or texts without moving the sim from the modem to the phone and i can't have net access on the lan without having the sim in the modem. Anyway I google cm7 usb tethering, and it basically says with linux plug the phone into a USB port and select usb tethering on the phone. So I thought router runs Linux would it work? Answer yes its recognised and works and is faster since the phones modem is twice the speed capability of the usb stick. (as it is the phone i used is a stock galaxy mini on 2.3 rooted but for this it doesn't need to be)

It's good but wait there is more. I have an iomega iconnect its a cheap nas with 4 usb ports for drives gigabit ethernet and wireless N wifi but mine has a copy of debian running as a dual boot on a usb flash card. So the artificial limitation of not being able to chain a secondary usb hub has been lifted :) so it's pretty much a given that i can connect my mobile to my nas and use the nas as a 3g router with a little bit of configuration. Which means I have a nice low powered router within my grasp which will give me network storage, wireless printing and scanning music and video streaming and as one of my usb disk adapters also has a built in usb sound card it can also be a networked media player too.

I bought the iconnect for about 50 euro but since its basically an arm soc running open source software then you could use a raspberry pi or a beagle board. The PI probably could work as an output device for your tv as well. Me i will probably just plug in my android tablet for streaming from the nas.

I guess all in all this is a pretty good example of what is possible with a bit of open source software and Linux based devices and of course i can do the configuration over the Lan using ssh from my netbook running Mint.

Hows that for freedom using open source software, I guess it could be done using Windows or OSX but I doubt it would be so easy or so cheap.

Android really isn't that bad, in fact its quite useful since it has a great ecosystem of apps that are not available for most linux versions at little cost. I want to see Android apps on the linux desktop you can get so far with Virtualbox and even boot some images on a netbook but it's not there yet not so easy to just pull an app from the playstore and just run it. Maybe we need a bridge board similar to the ones you used to be able to get for the Amiga (ok that was an 8086 in those days ). If android ran X then it would be possible to integrate your phone into your linux desktop i'm sure somebody has idea's on how to do it :)

Timing seems off (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41800009)

I stopped reading after the open source movement starting in the 80s part. Either the writer doesn't know the difference between free software and open source software, or they are off by a few decades.

So what is this, a book report style droning on? (4, Insightful)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about 2 years ago | (#41800091)

I was expecting to find some content of interest to slashdotters, not just a rehash of some historical factoid. Where did News for Nerds go? North? Was this a book report that Cowboy Neal was assigned? Is this posting the reason that Cowboy Neal and the obligatory option has been absent from the polls?

.

Could Cowboy Neal answer why he's missing from the polls? Anyway, about the future of OSS, OSS as a paradigm will continue to exist. Open source as "existing available source code, available openly" existed pre-GNU, pre-Stallman. There is so much conflation of free software, open source, OSS, and GNU licensing that even this summary article had a few swings and misses.

It's possible for people to be a powerset (2**{whatever number of options}) of all of these different overlapping and some mutually-exclusive definitions of open source software (lowercase, like lowercase god). That would be a good poll: open source software to me means:... x, y, z, Cowboy Neal.

Re:So what is this, a book report style droning on (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41801343)

are u friends with " girlintraining" ?

just curious

re: are u friends with " girlintraining" ? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41801431)

Are you friends with Truly Coward or the Cowardly Lion? Just curious... well, curious twice, so is that bi-curious?

The Rise Of Truly Free Open Source Licensing (3, Interesting)

AddisonW (2318666) | about 2 years ago | (#41800093)

The most important change is the maturation of open source developers and open source development.

Use of the viral and restrictive GPL is falling dramatically and truly free licensing like BSD is on the rise. Fading away are the days of the open source world being dominated by 15 years screaming about 'possibly GPL violation!!!' on Slashdot.

Everywhere that open source is succeeding is thanks to BSD licensed software:

* BSD based Chrome over the GPL based Mozilla

* Partially BSD based OS X on the desktop over the clusterfuck of GPL Linux desktops

* BSD based(outside the kernel) Android dominating the cellphone market over the effectively dead GPL based Linux cellphone efforts

Re:The Rise Of Truly Free Open Source Licensing (1)

AddisonW (2318666) | about 2 years ago | (#41800105)

Edit:

Fading away are the days of the open source world being dominated by 15 year olds screaming about 'possibly GPL violation!!!' on Slashdot.

Re:The Rise Of Truly Free Open Source Licensing (5, Interesting)

andrew3 (2250992) | about 2 years ago | (#41800613)

BSD based Chrome over the GPL based Mozilla

Chromium is BSD-licensed. Chrome is available under a proprietary EULA [google.com] . So much for freedom...

Partially BSD based OS X on the desktop over the clusterfuck of GPL Linux desktops

You say "on the desktop", but really Darwin is only a bare-bones OS with nothing GUI/desktop related on it.

* BSD based(outside the kernel) Android dominating the cellphone market over the effectively dead GPL based Linux cellphone efforts

Android has a lot of software licensed under the Apache 2.0 license. They also have a lot of proprietary software on it, especially drivers and firmware.

Re:The Rise Of Truly Free Open Source Licensing (2, Insightful)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 2 years ago | (#41801461)

Use of the viral and restrictive GPL is falling dramatically and truly free licensing like BSD is on the rise. Fading away are the days of the open source world being dominated by 15 years screaming about 'possibly GPL violation!!!' on Slashdot.

One of the major ironies is how closed the GPL can be.

Take some BSD code and stick it into a GPL project. Perfectly legal (assuming it's modified BSD - there's still a lot of original BSD licensed code out there).

Now improve on that GPL'd code - fix a bug say.

Now the GPL guys will scream about the superiority of the GPL and how "open" it is, except they've just closed the patch! There's no way for the BSD guys to get that code back in because the code has been GPL-tainted, and is thus unavailable to be pulled back in to fix the bug. (And it's legally questionable if they could look at the GPL patch to figure out how to fix it).

Of course, the original authors are fine with what happened in the beginning - it's BSD and they agreed to it. However, the whole unable-to-get-at-shared-code probably irks them to no end - they know there's a fix, but they can't incorporate it because of the GPL.

At the same time, people are screaming in their ears about how BSD lets some company "steal" their code and close it up compared to the superior GPL, when the supposedly open GPL has done exactly that. Perhaps even worse, at least if the code was closed by some company, it's a case of ignorance - if the company doesn't say, no one knows. The GPL project openly flaunts that code back at the BSD folk - like a flag showing how superior the GPL is.

Re:The Rise Of Truly Free Open Source Licensing (4, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 2 years ago | (#41802445)

One of the major ironies is how closed the GPL can be.

This is a major WTF. From you.

It's astonishing that anyone can believe the GPL is "really closed".

It honestly makes you sound like an entitled whiner. Oe noes! I can't use someone's code for free!!

It's zero cost. You can look at the code. You can compile the code. You can modify the code. You can modify it any way you choose. You can give it to anyone you want. You can modify it then give it to anyone you want. You can wrap it up in pretty paper and sell it if you so choose.

The only way that's "really closed" is the same way that you're "on crack".

blah BSD blah

That's explicitly what the BSD license allwos: taking the code and not giving back. Except in the GPL case it's still out there for anyone to use.

And there's nothing legally questionable about looking at a copyright work, then coming up with something inspired by it. It there was then every book and film out there would be a copyright violation.

However, the whole unable-to-get-at-shared-code probably irks them to no end - they know there's a fix, but they can't incorporate it because of the GPL.

Why does it irk them any more than a fix being in a proprietary product?

At the same time, people are screaming in their ears about how BSD lets some company "steal" their code and close

Sure, it's fun to make stuff up.

o the superior GPL, when the supposedly open GPL has done exactly that.

Except it's not closed. It's still out there for anyone to look at. The BSD guys can go back, look at the code and see where the bug was and fix it. It's like a bug report on steroids. They can't copy the code wholesale (unless they relicense their part, in which case they can), but they can get all the tiny details and make an equivalent fix.

The GPL project openly flaunts that code back at the BSD folk - like a flag showing how superior the GPL is.

You are way paranoid.

Re:The Rise Of Truly Free Open Source Licensing (3, Insightful)

mathew42 (2475458) | about 2 years ago | (#41801543)

Everywhere that open source is succeeding is thanks to BSD licensed software:

* BSD based Chrome over the GPL based Mozilla

* Partially BSD based OS X on the desktop over the clusterfuck of GPL Linux desktops

* BSD based(outside the kernel) Android dominating the cellphone market over the effectively dead GPL based Linux cellphone efforts

It depends on your motivation for writing the code. If I want to write some code, have some else make some "cosmetic" changes then charge me for that code, well sure BSD is an appropriate license. However if I want that code (including modifications) to remain free then the GPL is a more appropriate license.

If Android was 100% open source then people would be easily able to upgrade their firmware to the latest Android version instead of being left with third party firmware that hacks binary blobs. However it should be noted that the same issue exists with Nokia's maemo / meego phones.

tlhIngan used the example of incorporating BSD code into GPL code. How is this better or worse than a company doing the same but inside commercial a code base where it never sees the light of day?

Re:The Rise Of Truly Free Open Source Licensing (3, Insightful)

peppepz (1311345) | about 2 years ago | (#41801685)

GPL-based Mozilla? "Partially BSD based" OS X? You're climbing mirrors.

Mozilla's license is closer to the BSD ones than to the GPL. Chrome is closed source, not BSD.

OS X is mostly closed source, too, although the core kernel (with no drivers) is BSD-licensed the source they release doesn't even boot on any existing machine so I'd hardly consider it an example of a "mature open source development".

Since you're quickly writing off Android's kernel in order to depict the whole product as "BSD based", I wonder how come Google haven't replaced the kernel with a BSD one, given their continued love for the BSD license. Could it be that what you relegated between parentheses is more important than you would make us believe? By the way, ask Android users how happy they are every time a new Android release is out and they cannot install it on their phones because their manufacturers violated (at least the letter of) the GPL and stuffed their kernels with binary blobs. So much for the "restrictive" licensing.

Re:The Rise Of Truly Free Open Source Licensing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41801741)

You focus on GUI market share as the measure of succes. Don't forget televisions, many run Linux nowadays.

But I don't think GUI market share is the correct measure of succes. Look at nature. Every single species alive today has survived eons of competitive evolution, and many will for eons to come. yet most, if not all, have a tiny 'market share'. Survival is the true measure of succes, not market share.

Linux and the software running on it have no trouble attracting users and developers, more than enough to keep it healthy. In terms of desktop market share 1-2% is small (but far more than the 'market share' humanity has in nature), in absolute numbers it's more than big enough to remain healthy. What you call a clusterfuck of GLP Linux desktops shows there is a lot of activity going on there. Individual desktop systems may have their problems, for every problem alternatives spring into existence. While that happens the Linux 'ecosystem' is very much alive and kicking. That is succes.

F/OSS will lose (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41800117)

We're already witnessing the twilight of the entire F/OSS movement, unless people wake up and realize that all the gains of the last few decades will be lost if

* first to file supersedes first to invent
* free access to computing hardware is circumvented by cryptography
* cloud computing services, built on free software, because they aren't distributing binary code, aren't bound to abide by the same ethical obligations as traditional software vendors.

The forces allied against F/OSS are legion, and powerful. They will do their damnedest to bury F/OSS, because it threatens their survival. F/OSS advocates often act as if their their own survival is a given. Nothing can stop the tide. Think again. Who's fighting the good fight? Richard. What does he get for his pains? He's the constant butt of jokes around here.

As with most things in life, you'll reap what you sow. If you don't give a shit, fine, live in ignorance and let other people dictate the conditions of your life. If you do care, then get off your ass and wake the fuck up. You are losing.

Re:F/OSS will lose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41800179)

Richard. What does he get for his pains? He's the constant butt of jokes around here.

Richard and his GPL is to open source as the 8086 is to PC architecture.

The world would have been much better off had neither come to pass...

Re:F/OSS will lose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41800273)

That's not true. They needed to come to pass, but they also needed to be cleared and forgotten much sooner than they have...

Re:F/OSS will lose (1)

njahnke (757694) | about 2 years ago | (#41800377)

Richard.

took me a second to realize you meant rms. do you know him personally?

Re:F/OSS will lose (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41800431)

> Richard. What does he get for his pains? He's the constant butt of jokes around here.

Since at least 8 years ago /.'s environment has been degrading constantly.

The inability to do away with professional trolls with odd subjects as racial or porn themes and the utter disregard for other ACs which used to bring important contributions has made this a shallow site, where registered users post the most useless comments (because they need to be seen).

RMS being joke matter is no surprise at all. I can assure you lot of people still get the message. I myself, tough can agree with RMS 100%, find he is very needed as more and more people learn the difference between not paying and gaining new powers.

Re:F/OSS will lose (2)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about 2 years ago | (#41800483)

Damn it you're right. My above post says that F/OSS will live on, but it won't live on unless we fight for our right to create, distribute, and run our own software on our own hardware. You're right about all of the locking down of hardware. There's also a return to the walling in of gardens by Apple, Amazon, Barnes-n-Noble, BlackBerry, and even MS wants in, and wants to keep all of their customers inside their bubble world. It's like how my parents describe the days of AOL and compuserve without open port 80 access to the internet, and no cross compatibility of email between those walled gardens of AOL-ers and the rest of the TCPIP world.

.

The problem is where exactly do you sign up for this fight? They send recruiting officers over to the high schools to get the teenagers to sign up to die for their country and fight. How/where/when does one fight for one's constitutional and computational rights?

An aside question for the parent Anonymous poster: am I making a mistake by not posting anonymously? Normally, most anonymous posts are drivel, but yours certainly is not. What's the/your key reason for posting anonymously? Are opinions like this better off not being attributable? (is that the right word?)

Re:F/OSS will lose (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41800793)

I dream of a world where ideas are evaluated on their merits, instead of who they came from.

Re:F/OSS will lose (5, Interesting)

andrew3 (2250992) | about 2 years ago | (#41800589)

Mod parent up, very true.

The era of mobile phones presents a new set of hardware, most running proprietary firmware and controlled by proprietary drivers. A GNU hacker describes difficulties in producing free replacements for these [gnu.org] :

one device - the HTC Universal - took four of us three years of part-time work to finally understand all of the hardware. the best i ever managed on one device was 8 weeks (!) - the Compaq ipaq hw6915 - and i had to stop because the last 3 of those 8 weeks were spent _not_ managing to get the device to come out of suspend.

...

by the time you have source code, it's too late: the device is out the door. it's obsolete already, anyway.

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with some optimism, but people who care about software freedom shouldn't overlook these major blocking issues.

Re:F/OSS will lose (1)

OhANameWhatName (2688401) | about 2 years ago | (#41801477)

That's a sort of realist 'blame the corporation' type post, and it's somewhat appropriate. Of course, there are plenty enemies of open source .. just about anyone who wants to sell software!

But don't blame the death of open source on others. It's the open source movement that's killing open source. Seriously, I've been using Linux for a long time, and you know what? It really does still suck. I just upgraded my desktop to Ubuntu 12.10 and the VMware networking has flown apart again. Unity is a chain of terrible design decisions and I still need to use package management software in order to install applications on my desktop. I mean .. seriously? After 20 years, there's been no GNU developments in software installation?

Firefox has been re-birthed from the dead and buried Mozilla, which was re-birthed from the dead and buried Netscape and Google turns around to knock out Firefox within the blink of an eye. Windows 8 is going to attract users like crazy. Once it seriously hits businesses, people are going to love it. I don't doubt that Windows 8 won't gain massive penetration in the smart phone market, but that's just because it's saturated. Android is just a cheap copy of the iPhone and it really does show. There's not much room for another knock-off smartphone.

And people are blaming the 'legion' for the failings of OSS. There's only one legion to blame for OSS. Wake up and smell the mediocrity. Hell, I just had to add manual carriage returns to my post to get paragraph breaks to come out!

Re:F/OSS will lose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41801663)

* free access to computing hardware is circumvented by cryptography

Ahem, Linux got a free ride on the back of commonly available x86 personal computers designed to the MS-DOS and Windows standards. Free access to cheap open hardware isn't some fundamental right; it was a side effect of IBMs and Microsoft's dominance. It was so damn powerful that even Apple caved in and moved to x86.

If Apple and MS manages to close off their hardware platforms, freetards have zero right to complain. Buy raw CPU chips from Intel or Samsung and design your own damn hardware, a la the Raspberry Pi, if you want free hardware.

Re:F/OSS will lose (1)

Eskarel (565631) | about 2 years ago | (#41801805)

FFS, first to file doesn't mean what you think it does, it doesn't negate prior art, it just means that if two idiots come to the patent office at the same time instead of spending years trying to work out which idiot actually developed whatever it is first, they just give it to the idiot who submitted their paperwork first. If said idea has been published for the last 5 years by someone else it's still legally patent rejected just like it is now(at least in theory).

If you've kept your idea secret and not published it and someone else patents it then yes you're Shit Outta Luck, but that's it.

Re:F/OSS will lose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41802271)

Not sure I agree with you on first-to-file, which was already law in the US I thought. First-to-file puts an end to interminable, wasteful, hugely expensive legal actions over who invented what first. Patents per se are not incompatible with FOSS, it is how patents are structured and used by their owners. FSF and others will need to be vigilant to spot patent opportunities in their code and patent it, then freely license the technology out. This will prevent Bigcorp from patenting the same technology first and keep it free. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_patent

Re:F/OSS will lose (1)

dabadab (126782) | about 2 years ago | (#41802459)

first to file supersedes first to invent

I am again and again surprised by the inability of the Slashdot crowd to grasp such a simple concept as "first to file" and keeping spouting idiotic comments about it.
If you think that "first to X" has anything to do with open source software, you failed to grasp it.

Let me elaborate a little: this firstness only applies when two people/groups try to patent the very same thing at (roughly) the same time. Since open source authors generally do not patent anything, it does not affect them. It also does not affect the prior art rule - if it's already public knowledge, you can't patent it (or at least you should not be able as per the rules).

Yeah but... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41800235)

But is the software really better and did inovation come there first? Funny that he mentions Android with its share of "copy what the other guys have already done" + "typical performance issues -- why do i have a laggy UI with 4 cores..."

Hay samzenpus: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41800237)

This isn't Cowbi Kneel's blog. I hope dice fires your ass.

Good to see this history in one place (4, Interesting)

hessian (467078) | about 2 years ago | (#41800433)

This is a good compilation of what otherwise was scattered data, and at a level of complexity that people can read quickly to grasp the history of Open Source software.

I wish it had included one major source of free 1980s software, which was software written in BASIC and/or "poke assembler" (DATA statements from BASIC that were POKEd into the memory of your A2+ or C64). Much of this was designed to hack: war dialers, exchange hackers, copy programs, deprotectors, compressors, etc.

While that may be a bit distracting as the uses were illegal, it's important to remember that at this time, finding software was difficult and with computers costing the equivalent of $5000 today, it was very hard to afford or find software. "Sharing" was how you explored the world.

I wish machines had a universal language today, as the BASIC/assembler mix was back then. The closest I've found is Perl.

Re:Good to see this history in one place (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41802223)

I wish machines had a universal language today, as the BASIC/assembler mix was back then. The closest I've found is Perl.

What's wrong with C? That's what the dominant OSs are written in.

OSS a development model of average failure (1, Troll)

the agent man (784483) | about 2 years ago | (#41800551)

Probability of failure: I like the idea of OSS but if one thinks of it as a software development approach/methodology/philosophy, or whatever you want to call it, and would look at the big picture of success and failure cases one would have to draw a pretty bleak conclusion. It does not seem to work very well on average! Yes, every proponent of OSS will produce a nice list of some impressive OSS projects and certainly Android could be considered THE poster child of OSS. But for each successful OSS project there are 10,000 dead or semi dead ones. Imagine any other field with these odds. Imagine for instance bridge design. If only one out of 10,000 bridges designed and implemented would be actually used or usable, that would be terrible.

Innovation: Also, take that 10 most successful OSS project list and remove all the items that are OSS projects that are highly inspired by non OSS products predating them (e.g., Lunix/Unix, Gimp/Photoshop, OpenOffice/Office, Android/iOS, ... ). I am not necessarily against these kinds of projects but it is really hard to consider them innovative. Now what are you left with? The answer is not much.

As an approach OSS has not worked well on average and nothing has really changed over the years. There is no real trend here. The fact that there are some, very few, truly successful, OSS projects now could simple be the result of the fact that there are just MORE OSS projects. In other words, the average chance of an OSS to have really impact has not improved at all. This is simply a number game with no qualitative shift of any kind. Also, lets not kid ourselves. Most end users really care about the FREE part of FOSS and not the fact that they could access or change the source. They want Foss not fOSS.

Are the successful projects successful because of OSS or in spite of it? The answer to that is less clear that is should be. As a user, for instance, I may or may not like Linux for desktop. The fact that it is free is completely irrelevant to me because I value my time. If Windows or OSX works more efficiently for me just a little bit I will not hesitate one second to buy either one. However, and more importantly, as a developer, the idea of developing a product for an OS that already is a niche product (which would be ok) but then split into however many distros makes Linux a non starter. I have no interest nor the capacity to track all these versions. The more conceptual question is if there is an intrinsic force to OSS that makes it more likely to fork into different versions compared to their commercial versions. As far as I can tell the answer is yes. For developers and end users this is ultimately not a great thing. Even OSS projects with good control, e.g., Android, are becoming fragmented in ways that are gradually turning into a problem for developers and ultimately for end users.

Re:OSS a development model of average failure (1)

andrew3 (2250992) | about 2 years ago | (#41800815)

e.g., Android, are becoming fragmented in ways that are gradually turning into a problem for developers and ultimately for end users.

I don't get this argument. How does having more Android OS create a problem for developers and end users?

Re:OSS a development model of average failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41800905)

Probability of failure:.... But for each successful OSS project there are 10,000 dead or semi dead ones. Imagine any other field with these odds. Imagine for instance bridge design. If only one out of 10,000 bridges designed and implemented would be actually used or usable, that would be terrible.

Rubbish. Most of those 10,000 actually work (or did work) and do what they were supposed to do, many just may not be popular enough for someone to make an effort in maintaining them so they run on the latest operating system versions, etc. Bridge analogy would be more like engineers building bridges in their spare time - most are built in very remote areas of the world over puddles and creeks so not many use them, but they're still useful for people who do, and it's not dangerous if they fail. Without OSS, those users might have to swim or get muddy feet instead. It doesn't necessarily matter if these remote ones don't get used and maintained, because others can copy materials from them and use them in their own bridges - they remain useful. A minor few bridges are built in heavily populated areas over raging rivers, so they get the most attention and maintenance - companies pay large teams of engineers to work on these full-time.

Innovation: Also, take that 10 most successful OSS project list and remove all the items that are OSS projects that are highly inspired by non OSS products predating them (e.g., Lunix/Unix, Gimp/Photoshop, OpenOffice/Office, Android/iOS, ... ).

...which were in turn inspired by other products and concepts predating them, most of which have OSS or free and open ideas in their lineage.

Also, lets not kid ourselves. Most end users really care about the FREE part of FOSS and not the fact that they could access or change the source. They want Foss not fOSS.

Without OSS, you're limiting how far F can go. Noone's going to write free as in beer proprietry software out of kindness forever - their plan is often to get people hooked and then charge. The OSS has a pretty important role to play in ensuring free as in beer for the long term.

Stupid me (2)

Smartcowboy (679871) | about 2 years ago | (#41800619)

"open source software along with computers and technology as a whole has gone from the sidelines to a prevalent position in the lives of modern consumers."

And stupid me though that the final goal of open source were to empower us by making us more than mere consumer. I tough that open source was about making us freeer human beings.

Furiously masturbating (-1, Flamebait)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 2 years ago | (#41800707)

Thanks CN, for trying to remain relevant, and failing.

Re:Furiously masturbating (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41800735)

Slashdot jumped the shark tonight

It started in the 60's or earlier. (4, Informative)

hendrikboom (1001110) | about 2 years ago | (#41800909)

Software was routinely distributed in source form by user groups for particular machine system way back in the 60's, when I started computing. No one complained if someone took some of that software and improved and changed it.

It was like the garden of Eden before the Fall, which happened when people started selling software instead of giving it away.

The FOSS licences became necessary after that.

-- hendrik

VM and the VM Community: Past, Present, and Future (3, Interesting)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about 2 years ago | (#41801509)

See also: http://www.leeandmelindavarian.com/Melinda/index.html [leeandmelindavarian.com]
http://www.leeandmelindavarian.com/Melinda/neuvm.pdf [leeandmelindavarian.com]
"The most important thing that IBM did to us was the announcement on February 8, 1983, of the Object Code Only (OCO) policy. I fear that ten years from now another speaker will be standing here telling you that that was the day VM died, but I hope not.
      Since that day in 1983, the community has devoted enormous effort to attempting to convince IBM’s management that the OCO decision was a mistake. Many, many people have contributed to this effort in SHARE and in the other user groups. The greatest of SHARE’s source heroes is unquestionably Gabe Goldberg, who has persevered and maintained hope and a sense of humor in the face of IBM’s seemingly implacable position. In SEAS, Hans Deckers has been a particularly hard worker in the battle against OCO, and Sverre Jarp, the SEAS Past President, also deserves much praise for his role.
    In February, 1985, the SHARE VM Group presented IBM with a White Paper that concluded with the sentence, “We hope that IBM will decide not to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.” Though we had tried to make our White Paper reasonable and business-like, IBM chose not to reply to it.
    A few months after the announcement of the OCO policy, IBM released the first OCO version of VM, VM/PC. VM/PC had a number of problems, including poor performance and incorrect or missing or incompatible function. Without source, the users were unable to correct or compensate for these problems, so nobody was surprised when VM/PC fell flat. ..."

(Is that a picture of me talking to Kirk Alexander in front of an SGI Iris in the iCGL running some windowing and 3D model creation software I wrote? Not sure... Might be someone else and different software. What an amazing community back then and there -- one I did not appreciate enough at the time and just took for granted in my youth and lack of experience.)

A key point made in Melinda Varian's history of the VM Community is that even though only a small percentage of users actually looked at and changed the source code (an argument IBM made as to why providing the source did not matter), those users were a very impotent driver of fixes and innovation. When I was contracting at IBM Research around 2000, there were IBMers still angry about that decision two decades earlier and how it went badly for IBM, and they helped create some of the pressure for IBM to support the Free and Open Source Software movement. I pushed to get Python formally approved for official use in IBM Research back then, which took a bit of doing to go through IBM Legal. They even (embarrassingly) wrote Guido to ask him if he really had written it.

And:
http://it.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=437640&cid=22255952 [slashdot.org]
http://yuhongbao.blogspot.com/2010/06/artificial-scarcity-altair-basic-and.html [blogspot.com]
"Interviewer: Is studying computer science the best way to prepare to be a programmer?
Bill Gates: No. the best way to prepare is to write programs, and to study great programs that other people have written. In my case, I went to the garbage cans at the Computer Science Center and I fished out listings of their operating system. You got to be willing to read other people's code, then write your own, then have other people review your code. You've got to want to be in this incredible feedback loop where you get the world-class people to tell you what you're doing wrong."

The web with plain-text distribution of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, which are often readable, have been a bit of a return to those earlier days when you often had to type in BASIC programs by hand from source you read in a magazine like Byte or Compute! when you wanted to run them.

The past, present and future are all the same... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41801053)

Past = Toilet
Present = Toilet
Future = Toilet

Open Source Moves Business-wards (3, Insightful)

nsharifi (2761671) | about 2 years ago | (#41801661)

The free and open source software world becomes more business oriented. This among other facts implies 1) more businesses/companies involvement; 2) adoption of permissive licenses (e.g. MIT License, Apache License) and hence integration of free software with proprietary counterparts; and 3) loosely-woven P2P software engineering practices. While the hobbyist and enthusiast culture of development will continue to exist, it is going to be controlled by companies and organizations.

Most run some of it and do not even know! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41801985)

Smart TVs, BD players, Kobos, EReaders..other than Ipads, and the list goes on. On a Samsung TV the gnu licence is available through the remote for heavens sake.

The people who sell the products do not even know that the firm ware is largely based upon OSS...by and large they haven't got a clue about what busy-box and the Linux kernel really is. OSS has succeeded whether or not Ubuntu and other distros will survive is another story all together.

Time to through a bone to Patrick and his crowd. Help create a killer OSS desktop os that is rock solid on all platforms. Patrick was right to not copy the route of Ubuntu and others that would try to bling up everything like Mac OS and Windows with 3d garbage and eye candy.

KISS multi tasking and lightning fast is the ticket. Graphics available for programs that can do all that but not on the friggin' ui home screen!
No flipping tiled icons, transitional fade outs, rotating screen and other gimics. Just lightning fast access to functions and programs.

Google is more evil than Microsoft ever was (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41802293)

Walled Gardens from Open Source - trend (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41802631)

No one anticipated walled gardens being built from open source, or licenses in the 80s and 90s would have prevented them. Apple, Google, Amazon, and others have exploited open source to create walled gardens that deny the essential freedoms that open source is meant to preserve.

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