Subject: Re: Caldera will publish DR DOS source code
From: Jonathan Ryshpan <>
Date: Fri, 20 Sep 1996 12:23:45 -0700

>> They got all the DOS technologies from Novell, which got them from
>> Digital Research.  Their model for DOS isn't GPL, but they're getting
>> closer.  Full source, free for personal use, small fee for commercial
>> redistribution.  

>This is pathetic.  The problem is not the technical quality of the
>bottom level of the software pyramid: Linux is vastly better than
>either DR DOS or MS-DOS, and has been around for years.  The problem
>is that the free software community has never succeeded at (1)
>establishing reasonably stable API standards above those of Unix and X,
>(2) creating user-attractive applications in any significant numbers,
>or (3) working with the unsightly de facto standard file formats (such
>as Microsoft Word and Excel) essential for use of existing investments
>in data.  Of these, (2) is the most significant; in my opinion, (2) is
>the reason why Unix blew a 15-year technology lead over the PC.

You are largely right here.  However, I think that the major reason
for this is the interface wars: Bell Labs vs. BSD vs. Sun vs HP.  With
IBM's help, MS made DOS the standard interface for PCs and has kept that
position by a generous use of FUD.  As soon as DOS was established, the
Unix vendors ignored a general rule of technology marketing -- that
you have to have a 3 to 1 advantage for an incompatible method to be
established.  They always cherged *more* for Unix, where they should
have charget *less* to establish market share.  Linux + FreeBSD have
finally got the cost right; but it's a little late.

>Beyond the issues of support and cost, DR DOS, or Linux, has enormously
>less capability than W95.  Take a look on what comes with W95 one of
>these days.  At the bottom, neither DR DOS nor Linux even has the
>equivalent of DLLs, let alone DDE, OLE, the W95 widget or icon set, a
>metafile architecture for graphics, or most of the dozens of bundled
>applications.  The bundled Linux applications that do make an attempt
>at a better-than-ASCII UI are wildly disparate in their appearance,
>and almost all clunky-looking compared with the glossy W95 apps.  DR
>DOS is starting way behind Linux in these respects, as well as in the
>technical aspect (DOS is at least a 10-year-old technology, and doesn't
>have any form of hardware-based memory management, protection, or

Linux/ELF certainly does support DLLs.  Shared libraries (.so's) are
essentially equivalent.  It probably won't be too hard to support OLE
too.  MainSoft Corp, a supplier of porting tools from Windows to Unix
environments, is promising OLE support onder Unix/X shortly.  System
admin under NT is flashier than under Linux, but not perceptibly easier.
Bundled applications under NT (don't know about W95) are not so hot --
no decent editor.  MS Office supplies tools without a free software
equivalent (to my knowledge).

>I find all of this somewhat amusing because, of course, my own business
>model for Ghostscript is exactly the one that I just discussed.  It's
>only been possible for me to do this successfully because (1) Adobe has
>been raising the bar just slowly enough for me to keep up (although
>I haven't seen the PostScript Level 3 specs yet, and this may be the
>iteration that knocks me over), (2) Adobe documents PostScript and
>PDF amazingly well, and (3) I don't want to change the industry, just
>have fun, make lots of people happy, and put away a pot of money for

The GPL model may not be the best model in all or even most cases, but
what other way is there to distribute the ownership of (ie. the money)
from a program that has (like many programs) many authors.

			Jonathan Ryshpan <>

			And God fulfills himself in many ways
			Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.
			-- Tennyson