Subject: Re: Caldera will publish DR DOS source code
From: Jonathan Ryshpan <jon@halsp.hitachi.com>
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
>scheduling).

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
>retirement.

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 <jon@halsp.hitachi.com>

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