Subject: Re: Open Source for Windows
From: Glen Starchman <>
Date: Mon, 18 Dec 2000 14:30:34 -0500

>   - For peculiar reasons buried in historical accident <g>, Stephen
>     hauls Xemacs onto his soapbox.  Fine program though it is, there are
>     more friendly bits of software from the GNU/Linux world, including
>     Mozilla, AbiWord, and OpenOffice, all of which currently *do* run on
>     both GNU/Linux and Legacy MS Windows platforms.  Without the
>     intermediation layer I describe above, I might add.

What? You don't think emacs is a friendly environment? <g> 

I agree with what your are saying, but the fact is that those projects began 
*outside* of Windows and were later ported to Windows. In my opinion, that 
fact makes those applications inherently weaker than an application 
specifically built for Windows. 

(I feel that it would be prudent of me to say here that I am *far* from a 
Windows advocate. I find it painful to use. But, I am a developer and not a 
typical user. )

> There's also a possible concern about overly forking the free software
> development community.  

Shouldn't the free software development community *grow*? Is there something 
evil about supporting platforms that are not GNU approved? What if instead of 
Windows we were discussing BeOS open source? 

> My suspicion is that the real issues with the acceptability of
> GNU/Linux, or any other OS, is support, support, support:

I have been discussing with a few people the idea of creating an installation 
of Linux and/or BSD that is idiot-proof. Meaning that the end user, who might 
be a complete neophyte, doesn't have to edit init scripts or install software 
using a command line rpm or apt. I am talking about the perceived bells and 
whistles of Windows 2000 sitting on top of the power of Linux/BSD. Projects 
such as Eazel are a good start, but they focus solely on the user interface. 
I would like to see a system that is built for the neophyte from the ground 
up, but with the ability to let the more advanced user get under the hood.

> I'd far prefer to see a free software on Legacy MS Windows initiative
> oriented around furthering free software in general, and not giving legs
> to a (hopefully?) dying dinosaur.  My $0.02.

I am inclined to agree with you from a developer perspective but not from a 
user perspective. Windows is so wildly popular because it is *easy* to use. I 
am not saying that it is not possible that sometime in the future Linux's 
installed user base will surpass that of Windows, but Microsoft and Windows 
are not going away anytime soon. Wouldn't you rather help the consumer rid 
themselves piece by piece of MS?