Subject: Re: Open Source for Windows
Date: Mon, 18 Dec 2000 10:55:55 -0800
Mon, 18 Dec 2000 10:55:55 -0800
on Mon, Dec 18, 2000 at 07:24:20AM -0500, Glen Starchman (
> This is not about advocating Windows as an OS. Rather, it is about
> giving Windows users some of the same choices available to the
> Linux/FreeBSD user.  Additionally, it is about opening up the mindset
> of the Windows developer and hopefully persuading him/her that instead
> of using Visual Basic for a project, perhaps they should use Python
> and its wxWindows bindings. 

My reservation (and that's what it is, not an abject opposition) is

  - Basing a free environment on fundamentally un-free foundations
    weakens the underpinnings of that environment.  As there are already
    abstraction layers which in effect run interference between the
    Windows API layer and a GNU or POSIX platform, which might be
    effectively used to leverage an existing free codebase, why not run
    with it?

  - 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.

There's also a possible concern about overly forking the free software
development community.  I'm less fearful of this -- in the face of
overwhelming numeric superiority of Legacy MS Windows desktops,
GNU/Linux and the BSDs have done just fine IMO.  I believe this has to
do with traditions and underlying support for independent and open
development on both platforms.

Stephen and your reservations aside, we've got some very usable, and
very much end-user oriented tools, as well as shell utilities and a
development environment, which are for the most part currently available
to Legacy MS Windows users.  If there are real usability issues with the
software, why not present it to this user base and find out what they

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

  - Installation support.  Preloads are essential.

  - Administrative support.  There isn't an infrastructure comparable to
    the MSCE hoards for GNU/Linux.  Yet.  OTOH, much better centralized
    management tools should make support stretch further, and a well
    administered Linux box is both less an oxymoron than the equivalent
    Windows hardware, and stretches admin resources further.

  - Document and productivity tool support.  Less an issue of "does it
    exist" and more of "what's the !@#$%^&*() standard.  Unfortunately,
    the current standard suite is closed, proprietary, and intentionally
    lacking both backward and inter-compatibility.  

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.

Karsten M. Self <>
 Evangelist, Zelerate, Inc.            
  What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?      There is no K5 cabal

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