Subject: Re: Objective IT review of Redhat
From: Tom Lord <>
Date: Thu, 20 Sep 2001 16:09:05 -0700 (PDT)

   I thought this article was an interesting review of Redhat, from
   the point of viewof a Win2k consultant. He evaluates Redhat and
   Staroffice in terms of their ability to replace Win2k as a server
   and desktop OS. The results are perhaps surprisingly positive. I
   thought this was especially interesting considering the recent
   discussion of open source's potential as a popular desktop
   system. Perhaps we're doing better than some had thought...

The cited article is appropriately positive, but it also reinforces
all of the criticisms brought up about Linux desktop software on 
this list.

Nobody on this list has said that the Linux desktops are fatally
flawed -- quite the opposite.  

I've said that they're nearly competitive, but that the last mile is
going to take a period of buckling down and working on fundamentals
(bugs, details, help systems, file exchange, engaging the users in
feedback).  A switch on focus to those issues, with an attendant
restructuring of engineering processes and means of cooperation
between FSBs, has a good chance of winning a lot of desktops in the
world, in my opinion.  Winning those desktops is vital both to
devaluing MS's cross-linkage between software markets, and building up
profits to the point where they can sustain explosive growth in R&D,
starting a strong cycle of growth for FSBs.

The cited article also reinforces the point that today's desktop is
both quite similar to MS', and far behind in terms of features.  Do we
collectively have the bandwidth to both clean up the fundamentals *and*
catch up to MS on features?  Does the software architecture of the
Linux desktops facilitate that?  (In my opinion, the answer to both
questions is "no".)

We mustn't forget that MS doesn't really recognize a distinction
between the productivity apps and any other component of their
software (browsers, servers, embedded systems, game machines, admin
tools, development tools, etc.).  Bullet point comparisons of, say,
Word and StarOffice are myopically focused.  Supposing we put all our
wood behind the arrow of GNOME; will that component architecture be
efficiently, coherently and accurately deployed throughout all other
Free Software?

I've also said that, as we nail the fundamentals of our current
desktops, aiming for something handy-dandy like a decade old Mac,
we need also to get to work on building technology with the goal of
leapfrogging MS by virtue of a superior software architecture: one
that let's us compete capability for capability and provide
functionality MS isn't even close to.  Really, a little imagination,
armed with good technological prejudices and backed up with money, can
do a lot of good.  That's something we should have been doing for the
past 5 years, at least.

Let's go.



Tom Lord,
(412) 401-5204

Currently available for strategic, tactical, and engineering process
consulting, and above all else, for practical R&D in the area of
interactive computing systems.