Subject: Re: gdb
From: "L. Peter Deutsch" <ghost@aladdin.com>
Date: Sun, 14 Dec 97 08:06 PST

> >This brings up another question.  Why does it seem to me to be so much
> >harder to find freed tools than commercial ones?
> 
> 	What a ridiculous presupposition you are making in the age of
> the internet.

Would you PLEASE read what I wrote before responding to something I didn't
write?

I wrote: "why does it seem TO ME ...."  I very carefully and deliberately
did not write "why IS IT."  Someone as deeply immersed in the free software
community as you are (which I am not) can surely find things much more
easily than I can.

> 	Is it harder to find freed tools?  What effort did you make to look
> for a purify-like program under Linux, for example?  You apparently did not
> look very hard through the topical directory hierarchy on sunsite. Most
> releases of checker have been announced on comp.os.linux.announce, although
> the last release was more than a year ago.  Did you ask any people at your
> Linux user group?  Did you ask anyone who would likely be aware of what
> development tools are available on Linux?

As a user of commercial software, I would consider it a ridiculous
imposition to be told by the vendor "You have to look through a directory
hierarchy on a server whose name doesn't appear in any of our marketing
literature, read a newsgroup to find an article over a year old, ask at a
user group, or ask your friends in order to find out about our product."  I
can open any of half a dozen free advertising publications that arrive at my
door unsolicited, or any of the half dozen trade journals I read, and find
commercial tools.  They don't come with source code, but they do come with
descriptions of what they do, and phone numbers where I can ask questions
and get answers before I buy the software.

Specifically with respect to Purify and Quantify, I did ask a developer
friend at Cygnus (albeit over a year ago), and he said he knew of nothing
equivalent to Purify.  I went to the linux.org site just now -- a site whose
name a Linux user *could* reasonably be expected to think of -- and did a
search: "profil" yielded 0 matches, and "check" only hit the home page
itself.  The linux.org home page did point me to SVLUG, the local user's
group in my area: it meets once a month, on a night when I already have
another commitment.  Searches of its web site for "profil" and "check"
produced no useful hits.

At your suggestion, I looked at the sunsite archive.  sunsite refused to
accept a connection to its search engine (I tried 3 times).  I looked under
"FTP archive" (http://www.sunsite.unc.edu/pub/), and under the Linux
subdirectory.  Its !INDEX file directed me to the HINTS file, which said "If
you are looking at this file via FTP, you might want to switch to the WWW
view of the archive via http://sunsite.unc.edu/pub/Linux/welcome.html."
This file does not exist.  I then read the "collection index"
(http://www.sunsite.unc.edu/collection/) which didn't have any entries
relating to Linux development tools or packages.  I went back to
http://www.sunsite.unc.edu/pub/Linux/devel/!INDEX.html, "development tools":
it has no entries for profiling or checking tools.

Doing all of the above took me nearly half an hour, and I still hadn't found
what I'm looking for.  It wouldn't have occurred to me to look for

> ftp://sunsite.unc.edu/pub/Linux/devel/lang/c/Checker-0.8.1.tgz

because Purify and Quantify are language-generic: without your hint that
Checker and ElectricFence are C-specific, I would probably have given up
before going that far down the directory tree.  (In fact, I probably
wouldn't even have gone down the 'lang' branch.)

In my opinion, this exchange tends to support Chris Maeda's observation that
the real cost of "free" software may easily be higher than the real cost of
proprietary software.  It also tends to support my own belief that the freed
software community tends to be ingrown and unaware of the obstacles --
perhaps individually small, but adding up to a lot -- that give commercial
software the edge from the user's point of view.

-- 

L. Peter Deutsch         |       Aladdin Enterprises :::: ghost@aladdin.com
203 Santa Margarita Ave. | tel. +1-650-322-0103 (AM only); fax +1-650-322-1734
Menlo Park, CA 94025     |        http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~ghost/index.html
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