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Why Open Standards Matter

ScuttleMonkey posted about 8 years ago | from the why-behind-the-smile dept.


Tina Gasperson over at Newsforge (Also owned by VA Software) has an interesting writeup about her experience at the Government Day sub-conference at LinuxWorld Boston. Government Day addressed some interesting issues including some of the more tangible reasons behind supporting open standards. From the article: "Speaking to the audience of government workers, Villa said, 'Maybe 2006 is not the year that Linux ends up on your desktops.' But, he encouraged them, if they begin using software that supports open standards now, such as Firefox and OpenOffice.org, then when Linux is ready it will be that much easier to make a switch. 'And maybe you'll decide not to make that switch,' Villa said. 'But at least the choice will be yours.'"

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About Open standards (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15098101)

Although open source software is technically free, many companies sell a distribution version of an open source operating system or application for a fee. The distribution combines the free source code along with proprietary development utilities and a technical support package. For example, the Linux operating system, the most widely known open source project, is available from several vendors for a fee.

Although most all operating environments have open source projects, open source is particularly common in the Unix/Linux/Java world; for example, the Apache Web server, sendmail mail server and JBoss application server. The Netscape Web browser was also turned into open source in 1998 and later released as the Mozilla browser for Windows, Linux and Mac (see Mozilla).

Peer Review

Open source developers claim that a broad group of programmers produces a more useful and more bug-free product. The primary reason is that more people are constantly reviewing the code. This "peer review," where another programmer examines the code of the original programmer, is a natural byproduct of open source. Peer review is an important safeguard against poorly written code.

Vendors of proprietary software counter by saying that "too many cooks spoil the broth!" They say that having complete control over software ultimately results in better products.


Re:About Open standards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15098132)

Wow. A post titled "About Open standards" that talks solely about open source gets moded insightful. Even when it only says trivial things. -1 Offtopic is more like it. And while we're at it:

Although open source software is technically free, many companies sell a distribution version of an open source operating system or application for a fee. The distribution combines the free source code along with proprietary development utilities and a technical support package. For example, the Linux operating system, the most widely known open source project, is available from several vendors for a fee.

The poster completely looks over the new business opportunities that form in OSS support. Even local businesses can do what 'the big guys' are doing, thus avoiding wealth being accumulated by one corporate entity. CentOS is a good example of this. OK, bye bye now...

Re:About Open standards (4, Informative)

advocate_one (662832) | about 8 years ago | (#15098139)

erm... we're talking about Open Standards here, NOT Open Source Software... if your software, (whether OSS or CSS) supports Open Standards, then your data cannot be locked in.

If the standard is Closed (ie proprietary), then the owner of the standard can change it and you are stuffed unless you stick with the software provided by the owner of the standard... this, of course, leaves you open to your data being held hostage subject to you remaining on the upgrade treadmill...

if you are using Open Standards and the supplier of your closed source software software goes belly up, then your data isn't held hostage or lost because someone else is highly likely to already support that same Open Standard

Getting the point across (3, Insightful)

bloobloo (957543) | about 8 years ago | (#15098106)

If you want to describe the importance to a non-techie audience, the best idea is to use the simile of describing closed formats like betamax. Although it had its advantages there are problems getting the information back out. Yet "open standards" such as cine film can still be viewed or transcribed more easily. The closest people can usually get to understanding in terms of computer programs are the problems in moving from Access 98 to 2000.

Re:Getting the point across (4, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 8 years ago | (#15098129)

If you want to describe the importance to a non-techie audience, the best idea is to use the simile of describing closed formats like betamax

Imagine if you had to go to the maker of your car for servicing no matter how old it gets, and independent mechanics could not exist.

Re:Getting the point across (5, Informative)

arendjr (673589) | about 8 years ago | (#15098153)

A very good illustration was made by David Wheeler at LinuxWorld about the importance of open standards, and it's probably even easier to understand for non-techies:

[...] He went on to show the audience, through another word picture describing a 1904 fire in Baltimore, how open standards can prevent unhealthy dependence on one vendor. "Firefighters were called in from all the surrounding states," Wheeler said. "But all they could do was stand and watch the building burn, because their firehoses would not fit on the fire hydrants." A standard fire hose coupler could have prevented much of the destruction. [...]

Re:Getting the point across (4, Insightful)

jyda (114207) | about 8 years ago | (#15098343)

I'd argue that that example does more to illustrate the importance of standards, generally, rather than open standards. But if it's getting the point through, why not?

Re:Getting the point across (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15098160)

You must be related to BadAnalogyGuy.

I think most people are sufficiently non-technical that they wouldn't understand the issues with getting video off Betamax. The appropriate comparison is Betamax against VHS, not Betamax against film. People would not understand why it's easier and better to support VHS (if indeed that is the case, it's certainly not clear to me). Film, on the other hand, is a completely different technology.

MP3 vs OGG ... MP3 is a closed standard; if you use it you have to have a license from Fraunhofer, else they can sue you for it. Nobody can sue you for using OGG.

DOC vs ODF ... DOC is a secret proprietary standard which Microsoft tries hard to break in every new release of Word to keep you on an upgrade treadmill. If you don't use a Microsoft product then you can't use DOC files correctly (and often also even when you do use a Microsoft product).

I think it's not hard for non-technical people to understand lock-in. If you use DOC you get locked-in to Microsoft. Windows tends to lock you in to other technologies which are Windows-only. It's a slippery slope.

"Blame Fraunhofer, you should use OGG instead!" (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15098206)

The word "advocate" comes from the Scottish term for a lawyer charged with the hopeless task of defending an obviously guilty suspect, and is common parlance among computer types (see the Jargon File) for a mindless zealot who has mistaken the market share of his preferred computer operating system for the girth of his penis, and who believes it to be vitally important that "his" (no, never her) operating system is marketed as efficiently as possible by word of mouth to ludicrously inappropriate consumers.

However, in the case of Linux, it is inappropriate to call the zealots "OS advocates", as the vast majority of their time is not spent on comparing the features of Linux with those of other operating systems, but rather on making up excuses for the shortcomings of Linux on the desktop, and boasting about the stability and speed of Linux installations (usually webservers) utterly incomparable from the one they are recommending you install. You may think I am making this up; I wish I were. I have lost count of the number of times a Linux zealot has seen fit to bring up the subject of the hosting of Slashdot ("and numerous big companies like IBM!") in the context of a conversation about why I can't read my fucking documents any more. It is for this reason that I have coined the following truism:

Windows and MacOS have "advocates"; Linux has "apologists".

Conversations with Linux apologists tend to have three distinct phases:
  1. Very erudite-sounding discussion of your problem in terms of software projects which are either pre-alpha vaporware or, more likely, entirely theoretical ideas once floated on Slashdot. ("Yes, what would solve your problem would be the integration of Samba into the kernel with the correct RFS extensions. I think that this is a problem that Alan Cox is working on in the unstable release of Debian 4.9.01a")

  2. Grudging acceptance that there is no very good or workable solution to your problem under Linux, coupled with castigation of the iniquities of the software industry. ("Well, of course the real trouble is that HP won't open the driver source specifications so the project has to be carried out on the island of Nauru. Damn that DMCA! I heard Bruce Perens talking about a secret data repository under the sea like in this Neal Stephenson novel ....")

  3. Banging on for hours and hours about how fucking wonderful Apache is, if you let them. ("... and even Microsoft runs it for 83% of their intranet servers according to recent Gartner surveys and it really shows that Free Software works in the business environment and it was just put together by this bunch of guys and it just goes to prove ....")

The important concept to bear in mind when discussing software issues with Linux apologists is the "Linux Fault Threshold". Clever use of this concept helps you to avoid losing your temper with someone who might actually be able to render practical help, while ensuring that you give the correct dose of venom (60cc of scorpion juice, administered per anem with a rusty syringe) to the vast crowd of mindless apologists who just want you to use their pet operating system because it makes them feel good and gives them something to boast about on Slashdot. I provide this as a service to all the blind, alcoholic, incontinent grandmothers out there who appear to be installing Linux without any trouble if the Slashdot comments on any article remotely related to user interface design are to be believed.

The Linux Fault Threshold is the point in any conversation about Linux at which your interlocutor stops talking about how your problem might be solved under Linux and starts talking about how it isn't Linux's fault that your problem cannot be solved under Linux. Half the time, the LFT is reached because there is genuinely no solution (or no solution has been developed yet), while half the time, the LFT is reached because your apologist has floundered way out of his depth in offering to help you and is bullshitting far beyond his actual knowledge base. In either case, a conversation which has reached the LFT has precisely zero chance of ever generating useful advice for you; it is safe at this point to start calling the person offering the advice a fucking moron, and basically take it from there. Here's an example taken from IRC logs to help you understand the concept.
<jsm> Why won't my fucking Linux computer print?
<linuxbabe> what printer r u using?
<jsm> I don't know. It's a Hewlett Packard desktop inkjet number
<linuxbabe> hewlett r lamers. they dont open source drivers [LFT closely approached!]
<linuxbabe> but we reverse engineered them lol. check the web. or ask hewlett for linux suuport?? [but avoided, he's still talking about the problem]
<jsm> Thanks. I already did that. But I can't install the drivers on my fucking computer. I've got a floppy disk from HP, but my floppy drive is a USB drive and Linux doesn't have fucking USB support.
<linuxbabe> linux DOES have USB support!!!!!!
<jsm> yeh for fucking infrared mice, and for about a thousand makes of webcam it does. Get real here. For my fucking floppy disk drive, I am telling you through bitter experience it does not. Even if someone has written the drivers in the last week
<jsm> which I sincerely doubt, how the hell am I going to install them given that my floppy drive doesnt work?????
<jsm> this ought to be in the kernel. what good is a fucking operating system that doesnt operate?
<linuxbabe> Imacs dont have floppy drives at all [useless point, but not LFT. All apologists make pointless jabs at other OSs]
<linuxbabe> so you ought to be greateful that Linux does. drivers like that shouldn't be bundled in the kernel
<linuxbabe> makes it into fucking M$ bloatware. bleh
<linuxbabe> download drivers from the web!!!! apt-get is your friend
<jsm> So everyone keeps telling me. Unfortunately the fucking modem doesn't work under Linux either, and since the Linux installation destroyed Windows, that leaves me kind of fucked.
<linuxbabe> Linux doesnt destroy windows
<jsm>mandrake installer does. It "resized" my Windows partition and now the fucker won't work
<linuxbabe> you shuold have defragmented. windows scatters data all over your hard drive so the installer cant just find a clean chunk to install into. it isn't linux fault [distinct signs of LFT being approached]
<linuxbabe> that windoze disk management blows
<jsm> so why doesn't my fucking modem work?
<linuxbabe> what computer hav u got
<jsm> A Sony Vaio PCG
<linuxbabe> that doesn't have a modem
<jsm> I assure you it fucking does. I used to use it to check my email back in the days when Windows worked.
<linuxbabe> its got a winmodem. thats not a modem [nitpicking over technical terms is a sign of impending LFT]
<jsm> what do you mean?
<linuxbabe> a winmodem isnt a proper modem. it just uses proprietary windoze apis. doesnt do the work of a modem at all.
<jsm> Very interesting. Now how do I get the fucker to work with Linux?
<linuxbabe> well the trouble is that micro$oft won't open up the drivers they just keep it proprietary and becos theyr a monopoly all the lameass manufacturers fall into line


<jsm> So in other words, my fucking modem is never going to work with Linux at all?
<linuxbabe> no no no. in the first place you never had a modem you had a winmodem. in the second place its M$ fault that the drivers are closed and you can go to jail for trying to reverse engineer them like this guy dimitri skylab and the DMCA. its nothing to do with linux that M$ fills the world with its proprietary crap
<jsm> But in terms of actually getting my computer to work with Linux, I get the impression that it won't?
<linuxbabe> M$ should have to open up the drivers have you read CatB? and vaio sucks because they won't open up their standards either.
<jsm> Congratulations on wasting half an hour of my life, you fucking loser. And stop pretending to be a fucking woman. Your advice is useless. You, and the other hundred members of the so called fucking Linux community for which you stand, have broken my computer, wasted my time, patronised me senseless, revealed your lack of real knowledge, patronised me again and you *still* can't get something as simple as a fucking laptop computer to fucking work. Your so called free fucking software, like your
<jsm> so called fucking free advice, is still too fucking expensive. I cannot believe that you have so little fucking self-respect that in order to find the attention you clearly crave, you have to spend your life lying about the usability of a fucking computer operating system, purely for the joy of creating problems which you can then pretend to solve. You are worse than a fucking fireman who sets buildings on fire. I have had enough of your fucking Munchausen-by-proxy version of tech support. Now get off
<jsm> this fucking channel, hunt down someone who knows what they're fucking doing and bring them here or I will never, repeat never, use your fucking system ag ....

That's basically what it's like. Don't ever, ever believe anyone who tells you that you can get technical support from "the community". Because "the community" with whom a computer journalist, website operator or Open Source loudmouth interacts, is not the same community that is open to you.

Re:"Blame Fraunhofer, you should use OGG instead!" (1)

bloobloo (957543) | about 8 years ago | (#15098265)

What are you talking about?

An advocate does not just defend lost causes. It is the equivalent of a barrister in England - a lawyer who speaks for their client in court.

Who modded this troll Insightful?

Re:"Blame Fraunhofer, you should use OGG instead!" (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15098292)

Best post EVAR.

Re:"Blame Fraunhofer, you should use OGG instead!" (0)

MartinJW (961693) | about 8 years ago | (#15098293)

From a slashdot newbie - is it normal to cut and paste responses from elsewhere? The original [adequacy.org]

Re:"Blame Fraunhofer, you should use OGG instead!" (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15098331)

You must be new here...only old people in Korean use cut and paste because in Soviet Russia, cut and pastes you with a beowulf cluster and hot grits.

Nope! (4, Interesting)

babbling (952366) | about 8 years ago | (#15098173)

No. Ordinary people still won't care, no matter which way you explain it to them. The only example they will understand is when they get burnt by it, and even then most of them probably won't realise why things are so difficult, or that they could be easier.

Re:Nope! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15098347)

Imho you are wrong.

When I studied computer science in the late 1980s, as a teenager I naively *assumed* that the world ran on open standards.
What other kind of standards are there after all? If it's not published it's not a standard. I spent many months learning the (then) relatively new OSI model, soaking up IEEE papers on how ethernet and RS232 worked. All that seemed perfectly normal to me. The very definition of a general purpose computing and communication device almost *must* be based on open published standards or nothing will interoperate. Everything seemed like it was converging towards the sensible and neccessary state of affairs - the C language had replaced having to learn multitude assembly languages and so on....

Then cue Microsoft....

I don't hate Microsoft because of their politics, or because of their shoddy products. I hate them because they offend
my sensibilities as a computer scientist and programmer. In my opinion MS have set back computing a decade.
They have implemented a deliberate policy of standards breaking, lock out/in, reinventing wheels and creating intentional obsolescence. They have broken every rule I learned as as a CS grad.

When I talk to regular Joes about this, and explain the simple real reason why programmers hate MS, that it's nothing to do with bitterness at Bill gates or even the huge market share they have, or their political manipulations, but rather that it's because they break standards, and people understand in an instant.

I don't think people "don't care". Most people are like I was as the naive teenager - they *expect* things to work together. After all what would be the point of creating an incompatible product?

When you explain to people why Microsoft suck don't get drawn into the business and ethics debates. Don't mention the spyware and dubious politics, it just makes you seem like a kook. Focus on explaining how and why they deliberately break international standards.

Re:Nope! (2, Interesting)

ajs318 (655362) | about 8 years ago | (#15098493)

People of a certain mindset expect things to work together. People of other mindsets do not.

Mass is a property shared by all matter. But people weigh themselves in stones, their babies in pounds, loose produce by asking for pounds or ounces and getting an equivalent amount in grammes, and buy pre-packed goods weighed in [kilo]grammes. It never occurs to them to think that they could weigh everything in kilogrammes and be able to compare their own mass to their baby or a bag of cement or a tub of coleslaw or half a dozen bananas.

So it goes with audio equipment. Up to the 1970s, almost everything with a loudspeaker in it had a 5-pin DIN socket to connect something else to use its amplifier; if it was a tape recorder, the input pins would have been wired up too, so you could record other things onto tape. By the 1980s, these connectors -- much used by a tiny minority and ignored by nearly everyone else -- were disappearing. When I modified a radio-cassette plater to connect up a portable CD player to it, people asked my why I had done it ..... my attitude was "why not?" {It was also significantly cheaper, and less wasteful, than buying a new radio/cassette/CD player. There was nothing wrong with either appliance -- apart from the radio's unwillingness to accept an external signal.}

Big Business doesn't like interoperability. Big Business wants you to ditch all your old kit whenever something new comes along. Do you think every TV set, VCR, satellite receiver and DVD player would have a SCART socket -- an international standard -- if it wasn't mandated by law? Manufacturers are really galled by the prospect that you can keep one bit of equipment when you replace another.

Lack of interoperability, in other words vendor lock-in, is what keeps software vendors going. And there is going to be tremendous resistance to change.

Re:Getting the point across (3, Informative)

houghi (78078) | about 8 years ago | (#15098188)

While DSL is fine for the regular hacker, I dont know if a 10 year old will be confortable with it...

OK, I asume you are refering how Betamax was better the VHS technically. First they are both closed standards, so no matter who won, the closed standard would win.

There are plenty of closed standards that are accepted. Look at the music CD. I believe it was Philips that collected the benefits for that for a long time. Not sure if they still do.

There is a difference between closed standards that you let nobody else use (like *.doc), closed standards that you control, but let others use (like *.pdf) or open ones that are made by a commity (like *.html)

Naturaly the public must accept these standards and the governement must enforce the use of these standards.(meter, celcius, gram, liter, ...)

Re:Getting the point across (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 8 years ago | (#15098281)

You seem to have a different definition of Open Standard to most people I have met. The accepted definition is 'a standard for which the full documentation is available and which can be implemented at no cost'. As such, PDF is an open standard (you can download the specs for the format, and many people do implement it). Flash is not an open standard, since you may download the spec but then only implement tools that write the format, not read it. I'm not completely sure about CDDA - I've used Free software to create and play CDDAs and so neither I nor the software author has paid any royalties. The standard is available under then name 'Red Book'.

Re:Getting the point across (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 8 years ago | (#15098354)

I've used Free software to create and play CDDAs and so neither I nor the software author has paid any royalties.

You might have payed those royalties as part of buying your CD burner and/or your CD-R. I don't know, but I could imagine it.

Re:Getting the point across (2, Informative)

ajs318 (655362) | about 8 years ago | (#15098510)

CDDA was invented in the mid-to-late 1970s; so even if there ever were any patents covering it, they will have expired by now. However, the "COMPACT disc" trademark is still protected; and no licence will be granted for its use on any equipment or discs that do not meet the published standard as amended. Hence this mark is notably absent from certain digital audio discs which deviate from the Red Book specification.

Re:Getting the point across (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | about 8 years ago | (#15098777)

Look at the music CD. I believe it was Philips that collected the benefits for that for a long time. Not sure if they still do.

The patent has expired, but they have a trademark on the term "CD." They still refuse to let nonstandard discs use that moniker, like DRM'd pseudo-CDs.

There is a difference between closed standards that you let nobody else use (like *.doc), closed standards that you control, but let others use (like *.pdf) or open ones that are made by a commity (like *.html)

I disagree with your characterization. The "openness" of a standard is not reliant upon who wrote it. It relates only to the functionality. Can it be used by anyone without and strings attached? Also, PDF is an open standard. Anyone can and does implement that standard and Adobe cannot stop them. They released it as an open specification. A better example of a "half-open" standard might be Java. It is a standard and is implemented by many, but the standard is under the control of a single company who has patents on the technology.

Re:Getting the point across (3, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 8 years ago | (#15098193)

"If you want to describe the importance to a non-techie audience, the best idea is to use the simile of describing closed formats like betamax. Although it had its advantages there are problems getting the information back out. Yet "open standards" such as cine film can still be viewed or transcribed more easily"

Your heart is in the right place, but this doesn't strike me as a great example just on the grounds that somebody (like me..) would go "huh? Betamax works on all betamax players!" A better example would be one that most people would have dealt with at one time or another. "Have you ever tried to get your check-engine diagnosed outside of your dealer?" Or: "Have you ever tried to use your old cell phone with your new provider?" Okay, admittedly I haven't hit the PERFECT example, but in those cases anybody who has answered yes to those questions would have a lightbulb appear over their heads.

Anyway, this isn't a rebuttal, just a suggestion of a better example. I was a little lost the first time I read your post.

Re:Getting the point across (2, Insightful)

bloobloo (957543) | about 8 years ago | (#15098212)

Interestingly, neither of those examples would hold up to scrutiny in the EU. Car manufacturers can't tie you to their main dealers even for their warranty periods as it is restraint of trade. A lot of engine diagnostic systems have been developed through reverse-engineering for interoperability which is legal. Likewise, mobile phones can be used on any network as long as they're unlocked (you may have to pay about £5 for the service) and they haven't been reported stolen.

Re:Getting the point across (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15098451)

Reverse engineering, although legal, is non-optimal. You may learn enough to support the common usage scenarios but obscure features of the device (for example, some error handling) may be hard or impossible to identify.

I guess that is why some driver support in linux is incomplete with respect to the Windows support, e.g. 802.11g (still hit and miss from what I read), my USB scanner's "scan this" button doesn't do anything, my laptop can't hibernate under linux, the laptop sound doesn't work properly when it is running off battery, and other things. Most of these things were probably reverse-engineered to get where we are at today, and it shows.

IMHO the single biggest reason Linux is not "ready for the desktop" is official hardware support. And I don't mean "there's no driver in the kernel", what I mean is that you go to a computer store, pick up a box and read the System Requirements, and it says "Supports Windows 98, Windows 2000, or Windows XP". Not a mention of Linux. Smart technical folks may know that there's a driver built into the kernel or you can download one off sourceforge - but for the man on the street, if it doesn't say linux on the box then linux is not supported. Why should they use linux if 95% of the hardware and software in the stores does not say "Supports Linux" ? I'm saying that the hardware/software vendor does not support linux, so why should the customer take a chance on it?

Yes, linux comes with an amazing selection of quality Free software, either installed out of the box or downloadable off the net. The man on the street won't see that; what they see is a computer store full of hardware and software which are labeled as "Supports Windows" and almost nothing labeled as "Supports Linux".

Re:Getting the point across (1)

senatorpjt (709879) | about 8 years ago | (#15098370)

There are readers for OBD II (check engine light) that cost less than one visit to have the code read. And, it's an open standard, designed by SAE (society of automotive engineers).

It's actually a requirement by the EPA that the codes CANNOT be read or erased without a tool.

Standards drive innovation - use legislation (1)

StandardsSchmandards (828326) | about 8 years ago | (#15098476)

Two observations:
  1. The standards debate is often run by technical people who tend to focus on the actual standard instead of the end result. More discussion on what standards actually help you achieve is always welcome and should help get the point across.
  2. It is often said that a market leader in one niche has no interest in adhering to standards. This may be true (as it will help keep competitors out of your market share). This is why legislation has to make sure that standards are enforced. With such legislation competition and innovation continues. Without such legislation customers will end up in vendor lock-in and innovation will be insignificant and more of a "marketing thing" to keep customers happy.

Re:Getting the point across (1)

luge (4808) | about 8 years ago | (#15098784)

No, the point really can be easily and simply driven home (especially to this crowd) by the most obvious example- Microsoft Word. Use .doc, and you get Word; use ODF and you get Open Office, Star Office, IBM's Workplace, Writely, KOffice, Abiword, and even more options- hell, your state or startups in your state can grow your own with no legal trouble whatsoever. And you can choose your operating system and other such as well, again, no problems. People aren't dumb- they don't need to be handheld on this issue. Open standards are pretty close to a no-brainer, thankfully.

why it takes time... (3, Interesting)

joe 155 (937621) | about 8 years ago | (#15098113)

It is always going to be hard to get people to start using linux on their home computers, people like what they know... I've been using windows since 3.1 and the change to linux is certainly taking a long time and small steps is what is on order... in a government/business sense linux would be easier to adopt... when you're at work you don't need to install things (the one thing I think windows makes so much easier than linux) as the IT dept can handle that the same is true of installing hardware... for home computers though, well, it would be easier to adopt if I had friends who also used and so we could help each other and figure things out...

Re:why it takes time... (2, Informative)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 8 years ago | (#15098480)

when you're at work you don't need to install things (the one thing I think windows makes so much easier than linux)

You haven't used Linux in a few years have you? I find that most of the time installing quality software on Linux is no harder than installing the windows counterpart. Most of the time, you don't need anything outside your distro's packaging system, so installing and finding stuff is much easier. If you try to compile everything from source, you're going to have problems. And you'd have the same problems in windows if you tried the same thing. I install all my software in Mandriva from the RPM's which are provided, add a couple extra download sources, and there's almost no piece of software out there that isn't available.

Re:why it takes time... (0, Troll)

stinky wizzleteats (552063) | about 8 years ago | (#15098502)

when you're at work you don't need to install things (the one thing I think windows makes so much easier than linux)

What are you talking about?

Installing something in Linux (Ubuntu):
-run synaptic
-click the check mark next to the program you want.
-click the install button.
-a few seconds to minutes later, your app is installed and ready to run.

Installing something in Windows:
-(no built in software management system - anything you install for Windows has to be manually found and downloaded or purchased from a store)
-run antivirus against the install media/download file.
-run antimalware against the install media/download file.
-extract download file, as appropriate
-locate install executable on install media, or trust autoplay to run it when you put the disc in.
-click yes on license agreement.
-click no on special offers.
-click no on automatic updates.
-click "yes, I'm sure" on special offers
-install software.
-reboot system (this is always required)
-close daily tip screen for the software you just installed.
-The software you installed put an icon in the systray - right click to close it.
-You don't have the option to close the program, but you can hide the icon.
-Close the messenger tool associated with the systray app that is now spamming you for some unrelated product.
-Run hijackthis to determine how the systray app is running and to kill it.
-At this point, you discover that the software also changed your default home page and changed the menus and added a toolbar to IE.
-"Hijack This" successfully cleans out the crap.
-You try to run the app - "This application has generated an error and will be closed by Wnidows. An error log is being created."
-Thinking it needs the systray bullshit, you uninstall it.
-You must then reboot the system.
-The systray app crashes on startup because it can't find libraries (I thought I killed that thing)
-You attempt to install the software again.
-Install crashes - "you have a running copy of $foo. You must close all $foo windows before attempting to install $foo."

...time passes...

-Your PC finally comes back from the IT department, who had to completely reinstall everything because $foo caused some bizarre and insoluble problem.

Exactly what part of this is easier?

Re:why it takes time... (1)

firl (907479) | about 8 years ago | (#15098675)

I will concurr with the other two on this. It's much more difficult for me to install software that I will need as useful on windows. need Office? emerge openoffice-bin apt-get install openoffice need a new windows manager emerge gnome apt-get install gnome Automates the process for you, while that is no different than what the previous two have said how about this. Installing software for the hardware: 60% of the time its easier for me to do "more" with my hardware than windows My tv tuner card has a loopback cable, but has the chipset to allow for direct recording of sound over the pci bus. In windows, I have to use the loopback cable. Linux, no cable needed, allowing me to have multiple tv tuner cards and only 1 sound card.

Re:why it takes time... (2, Interesting)

mspohr (589790) | about 8 years ago | (#15098772)

"...to install things (the one thing I think windows makes so much easier than linux)"

This is an old troll that is getting tiresome.

Last time I had to install Windows (a few months ago when my daughter's laptop was overrun with spyware, etc.), it took more than a day to install XP, update and patch it, install firewall, virus scanner (and update them), then install MS Office (and update and patch it), plus other software that she used.

Last time I installed Linux, it was also on a laptop (Ubuntu on an IBM) and the full install took less than an hour with the latest updates and the install included full Office suites, graphics, AV software, etc... (more software that I could ever buy for a Windows machine). Absolutey no problems recognizing and installing drivers for the laptop hardware (and my WiFi card was plug and play... it "Just Worked (TM)".

The only excuse for not switching to Linux is just plain laziness... losing that competitive edge?

author mistaken? (5, Insightful)

phreakv6 (760152) | about 8 years ago | (#15098116)

Has the author mistaken Open standards to Open source ?
We use Open standards very much in our everyday life dont
HTML, TCP/IP, GSM, PCI , XMPP ( jabber, google talk ).. etc. etc.

Re:author mistaken? (3, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 8 years ago | (#15098151)

We use Open standards very much in our everyday life dont we?

Word, ppt, excel, smb, quicken, asf, wmv

Re:author mistaken? (5, Insightful)

Fanboy Troy (957025) | about 8 years ago | (#15098189)

HTML, TCP/IP, GSM, PCI , XMPP ( jabber, google talk ).. etc. etc.

We use Open standards very much in our everyday life dont we?

Word, ppt, excel, smb, quicken, asf, wmv

Even more interesting: compare which of the above said standards actually fostered growth in technology and paved new ways of doing business:

The first set brought everyone the web, the internet, mobile phones, a plethora of choices for expansion cards, etc... all going down price-wise. Alot of opportunities of doing business also.

The second ones, well... made us have to pick certain platforms/vendors to be relevant... I don't know about everyone else, but over here the price of windows or Office is not going down! Magic food indeed.

Re:author mistaken? (0)

JollyFinn (267972) | about 8 years ago | (#15098208)

>>We use Open standards very much in our everyday life dont we?

>Word, ppt, excel, smb, quicken, asf, wmv

wmv is open standard [rfc-archive.org] . Microsoft has submitted it to standards body inorder to get it as one of the codecs in Blue Ray disc standard, and HD-Disc standard.

Re:author mistaken? (4, Insightful)

Fanboy Troy (957025) | about 8 years ago | (#15098263)

wmv is open standard . Microsoft has submitted it to standards body inorder to get it as one of the codecs in Blue Ray disc standard, and HD-Disc standard.

It is A standard. Not an open one with the full meaning of the word open. Can I make a GPL application that will legally play wmv files? Can I make a closed source freeware application that can play wmv files without paying a royality to microsoft? I would happily admit I am wrong if you provide me links to the opposite...

Re:author mistaken? (3, Insightful)

jocknerd (29758) | about 8 years ago | (#15098400)

This leads to a reason why we need a new definition of what open standards mean. AAC is an open standard, because it was agreed upon by a committee and its specs were submitted. But its not free. A license for the encoder will set you back about $15K. Not open by my definition. To me, an open standard should be free of patents and licensing fees in addition to having documented specs.

Re:author mistaken? (3, Insightful)

babbling (952366) | about 8 years ago | (#15098176)

DOC, iTunes, SWF, MOV, etc, etc.

Re:author mistaken? (4, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 8 years ago | (#15098310)


Not open.


Not a file format. iTunes does, however, work with standards such as MP3 and MP4. Neither of these are quite open, since you need to pay a small royalty to implement them. AIFF, also supported by iTunes, is open, however.


Probably counts as half-open. You are free to download the spec and implement things that write SWF files, but not things that read them.


This is an open standard, and is the official container format for MP4 bytestreams. Not all of the bytestreams embedded in MOV containers are open, however, but it is possible to put something like a Vorbis/Theora stream in one.

Re:author mistaken? (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | about 8 years ago | (#15098356)

"DOC, iTunes, SWF, MOV, etc, etc."

DOC and iTunes ok but, name me open standard alternatives to SWF and MOV... If there's no *good* open standard, companies fill the void.

BTW don't tell me SVG is the alternative of SWF since I'll laugh really hard and tell you 50-60 reasons why not :P

author not mistaken. (1)

caudron (466327) | about 8 years ago | (#15098298)

We use Open standards very much in our everyday life dont we? HTML, TCP/IP, GSM, PCI , XMPP ( jabber, google talk ).. etc. etc.

Not as much as we should:

MS Office (DOC, XLS, PPT, MDB), MS Outlook (PST), File Systems and Sharing(FAT, SMB), Non-ANSI SQL (T-SQL, PL-SQL), etc....

Tom Caudron
http://tom.digitalelite.com/patents.html [digitalelite.com]

Re:author mistaken? (1)

Bogtha (906264) | about 8 years ago | (#15098375)

HTML is arguably not open. Since HTML is an SGML application, you need to know SGML's parsing rules in order to parse it properly. SGML is the ISO 8879:1986 standard [iso.org] that costs ~140 EUR / 170 USD / 100 GBP to read.

You can decide not to pay for the standard and wing it instead, which is what browser developers have typically done, and which is why practically none of them can parse HTML correctly.

In my opinion, if you have to pay to read a standard in order to process documents correctly, then you can't really class those documents as using an open standard.

Re:author mistaken? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 8 years ago | (#15098655)

Ah but since HTML is only part of SGML, and doesn't require a full SGML parser, the specs a only a subset. If you want to read the HTML Specs, head on over to W3C [w3.org] .

Re:author mistaken? (1)

deanj (519759) | about 8 years ago | (#15098513)

I think he's mistaken. Firefox is open source, not an "open standard".

Re:author mistaken? (1)

bunratty (545641) | about 8 years ago | (#15098567)

But, he encouraged them, if they begin using software that supports open standards now, such as Firefox and OpenOffice.org...
Firefox supports open standards, namely the W3C standards. He never said Firefox is an open standard, as you seem to imply.

Re:author mistaken? (2, Informative)

luge (4808) | about 8 years ago | (#15098673)

We certainly use some open standards, but what I was getting at in the talk (I'm the speaker) was the next layer up of closed standards- .doc, ActiveX, AIM/Yahoo Chat (XMPP is not widely used at all yet), etc. Those are the things that lock you into proprietary platforms.

When you're ahead... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous MadCoe (613739) | about 8 years ago | (#15098140)

I once had a standards seminar where soemone made the interresing remark that open standards only matter to companies that are behind in marketshare. Once a company is dominant they want closed standards.

Of course "open source" can hardly be defined as a company.

Re:When you're ahead... (4, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | about 8 years ago | (#15098182)

I once had a standards seminar where soemone made the interresing remark that open standards only matter to companies that are behind in marketshare. Once a company is dominant they want closed standards.

Perhaps that can be true, but I'm inclined to think that this is no longer so sure now that ESR's thoughts in The Cathedral and the Bazaar [amazon.com] have spread throughout the IT world. The more a company supports "open" ideas, such as open standards and open source, the more support it will get from the open source developer community. When a company is supported by open source developers, they can get a lot of unpaid labour that can push their products ahead of the crowd. Sure, certain licenses may require that the developers' contributions be available to all, but by the time competing companies implement the ideas, the first company should already have some new advantage.

If corporations want to profit from this community spirit, then they need to avoid pissing off their labour force, and so supporting open standards is a good idea.

Re:When you're ahead... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous MadCoe (613739) | about 8 years ago | (#15098249)

I think there is something to say for both points of view. In some ways the "free labour" sounds tempting, on the other hand having a closed shop with "your own" developers can be much more predictable (mark the can be != is ;-) ). And in that way it is harder to profit from your investment.

And of course there are branches (like where I'm in) where things are mostly secret and the actual cost of internal development is lower than the cost of leaking information (which could just be a way of doing things).

I think in the end it mostly depends on the type of business you're in.

False dichotomy (2, Insightful)

bloobloo (957543) | about 8 years ago | (#15098271)

You're looking at it only from the perspective of the developers of the standards. I'd be surprised if anyone could show me how an end user benefits from closed standards.

Re:When you're ahead... (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 8 years ago | (#15098325)

It is worth pointing out that this is true of the producers of the software, not of the users. Users always benefit from open standards because it provides them with a second source. If your supplier is forced to compete, then this is obviously beneficial to you.

Re:When you're ahead... (1)

luge (4808) | about 8 years ago | (#15098760)

Very good point. And the folks I was talking to last week were the kinds of users who are so large that they can single-handedly produce change in what standards are used, to turn the tables so that users benefit instead of producers. At least, that is what I hope happens and why I spoke ;)

Re:When you're ahead... (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 8 years ago | (#15098601)

I once had a standards seminar where soemone made the interresing remark that open standards only matter to companies that are behind in marketshare. Once a company is dominant they want closed standards.

Well, no big surprise there, to me at least.

1) Shutting out competitors, consumer lock-in
2) Easier to develop, whatever you ship IS the standard
3) If you need a feature just add it without the buerocracy
4) Choose what platforms you want it on, in case you have a vested interest in that
5) Make competitors spend time and effort reverse engineering instead of developing
6) Others are a lot less likely to be smartasses and show improvements to your product
7) Public Relations - setting the standard reaffirms your position as market leader
8) Bait and switch - get them hooked on your format, then bleed them on related products

Those are just those I can think of off the top of my head. I'm sure there's more.

Starts with DRM (4, Insightful)

Neo-Rio-101 (700494) | about 8 years ago | (#15098150)

People are only going to awake to open standards when they realise that the digital movie or tune that they bought suddenly doesn't work anymore because the format is old, closed, and the company went bankrupt. I.e., people will only care about open standards when they run into lovely DRM more often in their daily lives.

Now, from a business point of view.... open standards is actually much harder for IT outsourcing companies to handle. Most of the employees of such companies (who are cheap) are low skill, MCSE people, and even if they aren't, they couldn't write a PERL script to save their hides. Problems start when IT head management wants to try and get these people to help troubleshoot hardware issues with FreeBSD, hack the Linux kernel, and develop and deploy untested beta software for critical systems all at MCSE skills and prices.

Not only is it hard to find people to be Open Source nuts and support open standards, but they cost more. This is where Microsoft wins out with PHBs, because at they pick cheap and fast out of the (Cheap/Fast/Quality) trinity... then they end up accepting locked standards.

Re:Starts with DRM (2, Interesting)

babbling (952366) | about 8 years ago | (#15098168)

If Apple were more daring, they could sell as many iTunes songs as they could between now and the release of Vista, and then not release an iTunes client for Vista. Since there is a good chance the current version of iTunes won't work on the final version of Vista, people would be forced to either give up their library of songs from iTunes, or upgrade from WinXP to OSX rather than Vista.

Of course, Apple won't do this because it is better for them (for the time being) to have people locked into iPods rather than risking people actually giving up their library of iTunes music by making it not supported in Vista.

Re:Starts with DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15098288)

This is also the number one reason Apple won't do an iTunes subscription service. Subscription == no lock'in.

Re:Starts with DRM (3, Insightful)

Tim C (15259) | about 8 years ago | (#15098295)

people would be forced to either give up their library of songs from iTunes, or upgrade from WinXP to OSX rather than Vista.

You seem to be forgetting option C), namely "or not upgrade their OS at all".

Re:Starts with DRM (3, Insightful)

VGPowerlord (621254) | about 8 years ago | (#15098387)

Since there is a good chance the current version of iTunes won't work on the final version of Vista, people would be forced to either give up their library of songs from iTunes, or upgrade from WinXP to OSX rather than Vista.

I can run Windows programs all the way down to ones made for Windows 3.1 on XP. Microsoft puts a lot of stock into backwards compatibility. Perhaps you should rethink that statement?

You missed one... (3, Interesting)

PinkyDead (862370) | about 8 years ago | (#15098221)

You're right, of course about personal usage and business usage.

But another hugely significant factor is Government/Public Sector usage. Most Governments see themselves as in it for the long term - maybe not in the form of the current administration, or even the current socioeconomic model - however, even through major changes the survival of the information is paramount. Even to the extent of a ridiculous waste of resources.

To this end, they will probably see (e.g.) Microsoft as a threat to their knowledge base - envisioning that their bureaucratic empires will long see off the demise of such structures (they have a point, as most bureaucracies are far older than any other organisation currently in existance). For this reason we are seeing more and more public sector organisations leaning towards open standards (the most prominent example of late being Massachusetts).

It is worth remembering the importance of public sector contracts to the world's economies - they have a lot of influence.

Open Standards (5, Interesting)

dueyfinster (872608) | about 8 years ago | (#15098199)

My uncle is so non-technical, he struggles to play solitare, but I managed to get Ubuntu on to his machine, and he uses it occassionly..........for solitare.......ah well Anyway moral of the story is that I explained Open Source to him using his work: "Hey Tommy I want to tell you about Open Source, Ubuntu and why Microsoft is wrong" First I told him about Mass. Debacle.......he started to lose interest...... Then I started "Think of it as fittings, what if everyone used different ones, it would be impossible to have the right tool (He is a welder/fitter)" Then he totally got it, and went on ranting about how Americans don't use the biggest standard of them all (Metric System, that is) and why Microsoft are no differet......

2006? (2, Funny)

miro f (944325) | about 8 years ago | (#15098236)

wait, so 2006 ISN'T the year of the desktop linux?

Re:2006? (1)

PenguinBoyDave (806137) | about 8 years ago | (#15098274)

No silly...

2005, 2004, 2003, 2002 and 2001 were the years of the Linux Desktop. I still have my Linux Magazines to prove it. After all, it was mentioned every January or February issue...

Re:2006? (1)

joe 155 (937621) | about 8 years ago | (#15098342)

you must have missed the memo, it was 98...

Linux Affecting MS Sales?

Contributed by CmdrTaco on Sat Jan 10 at 10:27AM EST
[Linux] From the up-and-coming-os dept
Evelyn Mitchell sent us this story where you can read about slowdowns in Client OS sales. According to the article, Microsoft still controls 87% of the operating systems sold last year. The gem though is the comments about IS managers evaluating free OS's like Linux. Could 98 really be the year Linux breaks into the main stream corporate world in a big way?

According to this it happened 8 years ago....

Re:2006? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15098300)

wait, so 2006 ISN'T the year of the desktop linux?

Nope, and looking at other Desktops (and their 08/15-users) I really, REALLY hope _never_ to see that day when Linux is considered (by 08/15-users) as being "Ready for the Desktop"

I'm not asking for the interest of 08/15-users for my favourite OS. Because in consequence the interest of 08/15-users will result in bloat and inconsistencies invented by people who are after the money of 08/15-users.

Maybe not this year... (1)

Cloud K (125581) | about 8 years ago | (#15098242)

"Maybe 2006 is not the year that Linux ends up on your desktops."

At the risk of sounding troll-ish I love how variations (is / is not) of this phrase have been going on since KDE 1.0 was released in 1998. It's taken at least 8 years of "Maybe Linux will be ready for the desktop this year" for someone to finally say "Actually, maybe it won't"!

I sincerely hope it *does* end up on the common 'desktop' one day, but it's not looking too likely at this rate :)

Back on topic, aren't even Microsoft opening their Word format now? I remember whisperings about them using XML, which sounds promising. Digging their own grave, got to love them for it!

Re:Maybe not this year... (3, Insightful)

ajs318 (655362) | about 8 years ago | (#15098275)

XML is not necessarily open. After all, it's extensible, and extensions can be proprietary. Microsoft could have a container like
..... loads of weirdy characters .....
and as long as their schema mentioned <SecretProprietaryExtension> as a valid container, then it would be valid XML. If they really wanted to arse it up for their competitors, they could describe the document entirely within the secret proprietary extension; but put in some valid-looking markup that would actually create a less-than-perfect rendering In Real Life.

Microsoft's entire business model revolves around making new versions of Office that are incompatible with previous versions, giving a few copies away for free, and thereby forcing everyone else to upgrade in order to read the files their friends have sent them. Really, it's just a form of built-in obsolescence ..... unlike hardware, you can't make software fail after a certain amount of use.

Re:Maybe not this year... (1)

BenjyD (316700) | about 8 years ago | (#15098313)

While that is possible, I haven't seen anything like it in the file format so far. You can see samples and the draft spec on the OpenXML website [openxmldeveloper.org] . From what I've seen, it should at least be easier to interoperate with Office12 XML than with the old binary formats. Not that that is saying all that much, of course.

Re:Maybe not this year... (1)

AntiDragon (930097) | about 8 years ago | (#15098371)

Yeah. But it's not an "Open Standard". It's a spec of how to read the XML format, not how to write it. Some of the XML fields contain binary encoded data which isn't documented. So it's not open. They've just deigned to let people be able to pull some data from their format (like being able to only query half the tables in a database).

So no, it's not Open...sigh...

Re:Maybe not this year... (1)

BenjyD (316700) | about 8 years ago | (#15098471)

Can you point out some of the binary-only elements in the file format? I've yet to see any myself.

My point in the talk... (1)

luge (4808) | about 8 years ago | (#15098695)

... was that 'the year of the linux desktop' will be different years for different people. For me, the year was 1998; for lots of people, it might well be 2018. But they can move that date forward by choosing open standards. The longer they keep using proprietary standards the further away the year of the linux desktop (or the year of the mac desktop, or year of $YOUR_OS_HERE) is for them.

Re:Maybe not this year... (1)

lbbros (900904) | about 8 years ago | (#15098728)

I refer you to groklaw.net, where a discussion on this has been going on for a while. That XML is not "open", and prevents complete interoperability.

Neo: "What are you trying to tell me?" ... (3, Funny)

atrocious cowpat (850512) | about 8 years ago | (#15098258)

Neo: "What are you trying to tell me? That I can run Linux?"
Morpheus: "No, Neo. I'm trying to tell you that when you're ready, you won't have to."

Open Standards...nothing new (2, Insightful)

PenguinBoyDave (806137) | about 8 years ago | (#15098284)

Every Linux World for the past three years has talked about this. From CA's CEO last year in Boston, to ODSL, Red Hat, SuSE, MySQL, etc. etc., the message is the same every year. Open Standards good, proprietary bad.

The problem is that we sit here and beat our drums, but someone comes along and says "when Linux is ready..."

Last I heard there were many organizations (Government, etc.) already using Linux on the desktop. I'm sure they will tell you it is ready.

Gvt and Open Standards (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15098306)

I have been a big supporter of open standards in the government for years and have encouraged the adoption of them in several areas. The data is the people's data and should not be held hostage to closed, proprietary formats, especially if some of the data is to be made available to the general public at some point.

What the government needs are laws or mandates for open formats whenever possible for government and government contractor created documents for several reasons including the need for retention, ownership by the people of the country, and access by its citizens. It's the people's data and should not be restricted by a closed format or incure cost by the people to access their own material.


Re:Gvt and Open Standards (1)

OhHellWithIt (756826) | about 8 years ago | (#15098584)

The U.S. federal government was all for standards a decade or so ago. My employer bid on a contract for a government agency that wanted a POSIX-compliant system. We prepared and demonstrated a solution using Unix that was fully compliant, and the contract went to the incumbent, who had bid Windows NT with some sort of POSIX add-on module. Then came the antitrust litigation against Microsoft. You'd think something would have changed, but when I worked on-site at the Dept. of Justice a couple of years ago, they were upgrading to Windows XP with Microsoft Internet Explorer as the official browser. The only open document standard in use was PDF.

Open Standards Do Not Matter (2, Interesting)

ajs318 (655362) | about 8 years ago | (#15098369)

Open Standards do not matter at all to the vast majority of people.

Many people, and many businesses, are committing their entire lives to digital storage under a plethora of proprietary, closed standards. One by one, the suppliers who created these standards will cease to exist -- companies will go out of business, or be bought up and asset-stripped.

What does this mean? The photos you took of your children growing up won't be viewable on modern equipment. None of the recordings of the band you played in when you were younger will be listenable. Business letters written just a few years ago won't be readable.

But a generation from now, nobody will even remember that Open Standards ever existed. Everything will be locked up behind proprietary standards, jealously-guarded secrets. If you're allowed to program your own computer at all, you'll be severely restricted in what you can do with it.

And nobody will care. The problem will be thought of as "just one of the unforeseen hazards of trusting electronics", and lived with. By that stage we will already have draconian DRM in documents, and in most cases it will be so badly misconfigured that there will be no cut-and-paste; an operator will end up having to use two computers and two monitors, retyping information from one screen onto the other. All this will just be thought of as the way the world naturally works.

Re:Open Standards Do Not Matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15098705)

That's why nearly everyone is going to Microsoft. It's one company with lots and lots of money that will **never** go out of business (just how many $B in the bank do they have now?). One company that **appears** to support their older products (for example, a part of the Vista delay). No more WordPerfect versus WordStar versus Ami Pro versus Word. All just use Word and all is fine, or so the mass market thinks (it's group think). M$'s bundling agreements further this goal. From the perspective of Joe Sixpack, his computer came with Word (or Works) and it is fine for him and his kids. They write their elementary school papers and write their scouting reports. All works and it didn't cost him anything (it came with the bloody computer). [All my computers, both Widows and Linux have OpenOffice, Gimp, and Firefox -- my children use them and not MS Word/Works. My middle son has a Linux-only computer and loves it.]

My sister has lots of old financial information locked in closed formats. All will have to be rekeyed or is lost (if she can even run the old programs under DOS). Today, you can usually export a spreadsheet into CSV or export from most programs into transportable formats like XML (closed or open, it doesn't matter). That was not the case a few years ago. Joe Sixpack sees an export function from his money management program (M$ Money) and can import into a spreadsheet (Excel). So long as he can do that, he is happy (despite both programs being from one company -- he doesn't care). He can display his photos using the built-in viewers and can even print them. He is happy. He does not care about DRM because his photos just work on his computer and can even be e-mailed to his buddies and work on their computers. He might be a bit miffed when he can't get a movie or download audio, but he just uses the programs that M$ supplied (unless he has an Ipod).

So far, DRM will only lock him out of some music and movies. At this point in time, this is more of a PITA than a real problem. So far, his photos, documents, and personal recordings are transportable, exportable, and not locked out (in his opinion -- he has not seen the fine print in the licenses for the formats, the restrictions, etc.).

Only when DRM bites him in the butt will he take notice (like the new CD that he could not play on his computer or the Sony CD that caused him to take his computer to Geek Squad and pay $100 to fix it).

Government is different. Their documents need to be available forever. Their documents belong to the people, not some creation called "the Government" (at least here in the US where the Government is for the people, by the people, etc.). The issue is about free and open access to those Government documents. It is about data retention and the ability to read those documents in 10 years, 100 years, 1000 years. Imagine if the temples in Egypt had been written in M$ Word 1.0 format. Not only would we have to have discovered the Rosetta stone, but we would have had to learn how to decode a strange, unknown, proprietary format (and maybe have had to break laws to do it).

best reason to use open standards... (-1, Offtopic)

Jaqui (905797) | about 8 years ago | (#15098406)

I'm sorry your file attachment was a known virus infected format, please resend in an Open Document Format instead of the infestable .doc/.xls binary format originally sent.

The more people that take that stance, the better it is for using open standards.

Re:best reason to use open standards... (2, Interesting)

morgdx (688154) | about 8 years ago | (#15098467)

The more people who take that stance, the less attachments they'll receive.

Re:best reason to use open standards... (2, Insightful)

heinousjay (683506) | about 8 years ago | (#15098504)

Your intentions are good, but the execution is off base. Zealotry doesn't attract mainstream followers, only rabid believers. All the rabid believers already believe, in the case of the 'Open' software world. This means your approach is valid if you want to preach to the choir, but in the rest of the world it's the equivalent of standing on the street corner screaming about the end times.

I wish I could suggest a better approach, but the thing is, it's really just a technical issue. It has social ramifications, but mainly for technical folks. There's very little reason for mainstream users to care. All that can be done is some vague handwaving about rights and freedoms that typical users are in no position to exercise.

Possibly the best route to take is cost, but for most people the cost of software isn't really that onerous. A few hundred dollars a year isn't terribly out of line for the provided benefit.

government-approved applications (2, Interesting)

RussP (247375) | about 8 years ago | (#15098542)

I work for the federal govt, and I recently received a notice from my organization stating that, for security reasons, only certain "standard" applications will be allowed. MS Office is one of them

I don't have the memo handy, but if I recall, it applied only to PCs and Macs. I'm not sure if "PC" means a "Windows PC" or if it also includes Linux PCs. So that may or may not leave the door open to OpenOffice (or other ODF-based suites) for Linux at least.

In any case, this mandate really burns me. Just when the world may be ready to start abandoning the MS monopoly, my organization is trying to reinforce it for "security" reasons.

The other thing that gets me is that if I protest, most of my colleagues will think I just have some sort of quirky, neurotic aversion to MS because Bill Gates is "too rich" or something. You'd be amazed how many otherwise well-informed technical people out there are truly clueless about the standards war going on.

Re:government-approved applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15098757)

Did you too have to remove your Linux partition or get special permission to use it to access the Internet? I have at least 4 friends who used to use Linux on their laptops to access the Internet but had to go to Windows due to such decrees.

Re:government-approved applications (1)

RussP (247375) | about 8 years ago | (#15098789)

"Did you too have to remove your Linux partition or get special permission to use it to access the Internet? I have at least 4 friends who used to use Linux on their laptops to access the Internet but had to go to Windows due to such decrees."

No, it's not *that* bad. I don't think they will ever do anything like that. But I've been wrong before.

"When Linux is ready" (2, Insightful)

FuzzyBad-Mofo (184327) | about 8 years ago | (#15098561)

Could the author explain why Linux isn't ready for office use? In my opinion it's been "ready" for several years, and only getting better. (And no snarky comments about lack of games, that doesn't apply to an office environment)

When Linux is ready *for you* (1)

luge (4808) | about 8 years ago | (#15098742)

What I said in the talk (and I think got lost for perfectly understandable reasons of brevity on the part of the reporter) was that Linux is not ready for everyone yet. It was ready for me in 1998 (so that was the year of the linux desktop for me); it was ready for my girlfriend probably mid-2004 sometime, so that was the year of the linux desktop for her, and for Novell internally. It is certainly ready for some businesses now (as Novell proves), and has been for years, but others need any of a number of things- better usability from open office, perhaps, or better manageability when thrown at 1000 machines at a time, to give an example that had a lot of relevance when I was at Novell. For every business the reasons to be ready or not are different. So my point was not 'switch now! it is ready now!', which will always cause some people to point to their private reason not to switch, and then stop listening, but rather 'switch when you're ready, and before that, use open standards now to help you get ready to switch.

Standards and why vendors are being stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15098665)

>I wholeheartedly agree. This industry needs open standards implemented and enforced -- now.

The standards are there, the problem is, everyone has their own standard, open or not, and the proprietaryware makers have nothing to gain by the implementing open standards, or so they believe.

The vendors are the ones that need to adopt a standard. They need only to look at HTML to see what it can do for them. I can think of no reason why all office docs aren't xml yet. MS needs to ditch the VBA crap, or open the spec for VBA so other people can build interpereters.


A good book to recommend about "open" (1)

ylikone (589264) | about 8 years ago | (#15098706)

A very good book with many essays on the application and importance of open standards and open source is Open Sources 2.0 : The Continuing Evolution [amazon.com] . Check it out if you are interested in researching more of what some experts have to say about this.

The list of essays are:
1. The Mozilla Project: Past and Future by Mitchell Baker
2. Open Source and Proprietary Software Development by Chris DiBona
3. A Tale of Two Standards by Jeremy Allison
4. Open Source and Security by Ben Laurie
5. Dual Licensing by Michael Olson
6. Open Source and the Commoditization of Software by Ian Murdock
7. Open Source and the Commodity Urge: Disruptive Models for a Disruptive Development Process by Matthew N. Asay
8. Under the Hood: Open Source and Open Standards Business Models in Context by Stephen R. Walli
9. Open Source and the Small Entrepreneur by Russ Nelson
10. Why Open Source Needs Copyright Politics by Wendy Seltzer
11. Libre Software in Europe by Jesus M. Gonzalez-BarahonaGregorio Robles
12. OSS in India by Alolita Sharma and Robert Adkins
13. When China Dances with OSS by Boon-Lock Yeo, Louisa Liu, and Sunil Saxena
14. How Much Freedom Do You Want? by Bruno Souza
15. Making a New World by Doc Searls
16. The Open Source Paradigm Shift by Tim O'Reilly
17. Extending Open Source Principles Beyond Software Development by Pamela Jones
18. Open Source Biology by Andrew Hessel
19. Everything Is Known by Eugene Kim
20. The Early History of Nupedia and Wikipedia: A Memoir by Larry Sanger
21. Open Beyond Software by Sonali K. Shah
22. Patterns of Governance in Open Source by Steven Weber
23. Communicating Many to Many by Jeff Bates and Mark Stone
Appendixes :
A. The Open Source Definition
B. Referenced Open Source Licenses
C. Columns from Slashdot
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