Subject: Re: Software quality: free vs. proprietary
From: "Karsten M. Self" <>
Date: Wed, 27 Oct 1999 09:56:53 +0000

"Stephen J. Turnbull" wrote:
> >>>>> "Ben" == Ben Tilly <> writes:

>     Ben> Compare (name your favorite shell) with DOS.  # 4DOS? <duck>
>                                         # XEmacs? <sidestep>
>                                         # ya got me this time, although
>                                         # proprietary programmers using
>                                         # csh can sure produce buggy
>                                         # install scripts
>     Ben> You were saying?
> Compare SAS with (help me, Karsten, "r"?)

This is tough.  SAS is a bundle of things.  Some good, a few excellent,
many crap.  Base data language is comperable to COBOL (which it
replaces) or PL/I (which it grew out of).  Today you'd probably want to
compare it to awk (similar programming model), perl, guile, python,
icon, or other procedural data / scripting flavor of the month.  Editor
is almost straight TSO/ISPF.  R compares most directly to IML and STAT. 
SAS/GRAPH is a fscking mess, though it's more useful than Excel in that
it's programmable, compare to gnuplot, R, or other free graphics
languages and libraries.  

At a base level I'd compare SAS and Perl -- both are swiss army knives
with many capabilities, though these capabilities are largely in the
form of add-on packages, and a core level of competence may not get you
far with the modules.  Both SAS and Perl have their place, some things
are easier in one, some in the other.  There's also PSPP, the SPSS
replacement, which might be consider a feature-wise partial replacement
for SAS.

> Compare Mathematica or Maple with gnuplot

I believe Octave is the Mathematica or MATLAB replacement.

> Compare Microsoft Word with wp2latex
> Compare WordPerfect with word2x

How about AbiWord, Klyx, or similar, as replacements for Word or WP? 
Frankly I see an editor (vi, vim, nvi, emacs, xemacs) plus a typesetting
language (TeX, LaTeX, SGML, XML) as the true replacement of the PC
WYSYWYG document processor.

Karsten M. Self (
    What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?

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