[Aboriginal] Aboriginal. Wow! and Thanks!

Rob Landley rob at landley.net
Sun Jun 26 15:18:13 PDT 2011

On 06/25/2011 07:43 PM, Paul Kramer wrote:
> On Jun 25, 2011, at 4:15 PM, Rob Landley wrote:
>> I used to use gnome, because I'd never tried KDE.  Then Kubuntu 4.0
>> was so UTTERLY HORRIBLE that I went back to gnome for six months
>> (it was about as bad, bloated overcomplciated crap with way too
>> many layers and I spent all my time fighting the automation, plus
>> the actual responsiveness was like ging from chrom to firefox:
>> latency, lag, and bloat, oh my...).
>> Then I found xfce/xubuntu.  I like it.  It's simple, minimal, and
>> it stays out of my way.  I'm not recommending it to anybody, I'm
>> using the third most popular desktop on the third most popular
>> operating system, I am a rounding error.  i don't care.
>> I'm using thunderbird for email.  I hate it, the sucker is a
>> single threaded program that blocks on network access (which it
>> starts asynchronously all the time) and I can't TYPE for up to 30
>> seconds while it goes off and diddles its' files.  I was previously
>> using kmail, but as with Konqueror it was tied to KDE and went down
>> with the ship. (Luckily Apple peeled KHTML engine out of konqueror
>> and turned it into Webkit, which is behind safari and chrome.
>> Konqueror itself is still bundled with KDE, and so is dead to me.)
> from 1984-1998 i only worked on systems running BSD 4.2, HP-UX,
> SunOS, Solaris, Zenix.... and bought my first pc a dell inspiron 9000
> laptop... thru redhat linux on it... and dual booted into window 98
> running cygwin...

My first encounter with Linux was when the SLS floppies came across
fidonet in 1993.  A friend of mine installed it on one of his machines,
and we went "Why would anyone want to clone a sun workstation?  This
can't run dos programs, so no migration path.  It can't handle a diamond
stealth multimedia (video) card in higher than MCGA mode, so X11 doesn't
work.  The developers think that threading is a bad idea and SMP is not
a priority.  Right, let's try OS/2..."

I kept track of Linux because I'd used free downloads for years
(connecting to fidonet involved hooking up binkleyterm, the fossil
drivers, and zmodem, all free downloads) and I'd done open soruce
development on WWIV (I learned C in the first place so I could apply
"wwiv mod" files like http://landley.net/history/wwiv/CALVIN01.422 and
http://landley.net/history/wwiv/EMTITLE.422 to the WWIV bulletin board
source code you got if you registered the shareware: yes, we did open
source without the "patch" program, and we liked it!)

So I know Linux wasn't going AWAY, but also that it wasn't of any
obvious use to me.  So I did OS/2 for about five years, went to work for
IBM straight out of college doing OS/2 for PowerPC and then OS/2 4.0.  I
believe I described the reason OS/2 died here:


And when I did (1998) I switched to Linux.  It was still around, had
made progress, and was the one I wanted to get behind and push.

> ... so between 1998-2005 had dual boot laptop windows/redhat ... i
> did much around with some of the other distros, but stuck with redhat
> as the local companies were mostly using redhat in the 00's... bsd in
> the late 90's

Red Hat was the distro that was seriously trying to grow the open source
developer pool.  They seriously made a push for the desktop (which
Debian wasn't doing, they were tech-snobs spending their time
infighting), but weren't trying to seal the guts of the system _away_
from people (as Xandros and such later did).

BSD was useless: it was part of the proprietary Unix tradition that had
fragmented itself into irrelevance.  Linux was modular and had
interchangeable parts available from multiple sources, but
"distributions" were like white box PCs.  Somebody assembled a bunch of
parts into something that worked out of the box, but Dell Compaq Gateway
and so on were a coat of paint over basically the same thing.  BSD built
the whole distro from one big tree, and if you wanted to change a
userspace package you wound up arguing with the kernel guys, you were
either in or out, you couldn't find a niche and ignore the rest.

Also, the licensing of BSD mean every time they got momentum a
propreitary company harvested their talent pool to work on a proprietary
fork.  Sun got Bill Joy in 1982, BSDI got Bill Jolitz around 1989, Apple
got Jordan Hubbard in 1997...  Each of them hired away from the open
project to get paid to work on the exact same code they'd been working
on for fun, with the promise they can open source it "someday".  and of
course they can still keep working on the open version in there spare
time, and then worked 90 hours a week until "their" version and the open
version were so far apart that upstream no longer appealed...

Linux wasn't vulnerable to this.  Red Hat never stopped Alan Cox from
submitting code upstream because the license said they _couldn't_ do a
proprietary fork.  Not even when they had their IPO, not even the
Android-style stupidity where "we develop it closed then give you a Big
Useless Hairball drop of the past 6 months of work" (although Red Hat's
started doing that now, but they stopped being relevant after they
figured out what was keeping Sun in business and how to walk away with
Sun's market share).

You know how large "enterprise" purchasing contracts cap allowed profit
at a percentage of the cost of materials?  Vendors thus spec needlessly
expensive parts because 10% of a $5000 Solaris seat is $500 profit and
10% of a $29.95 Red Hat 7 retail box is $3.  Red Hat figured this out
and tried offering a $5000 version to Enterprise customers, and
everybody switched over to the technically superior product.  This meant
that Sun starved to death, but it also meant that Red Hat got dragged
out of the desktop market because its $100 million/year business vs a
$10 million/year business sucked all the engineering time away.  They
renamed Red Hat Enterprise Rawhide to "Fedora" and tried to convince the
open source community to do it for them, which started out like this:


And ended the farce here:


This left Knoppix holding the Linux on the desktop bag until Ubuntu came
about.  (Debian got so bad that its developers left for Gentoo, which
then developed all of Debian's politics and almost died.  "Gee, before
we got here this place was nice and civilized, now it's the same pissing
contest we left behind, why is that?"  Sigh.  Slackware's maintainer had
some kind of chronic illness, SuSE went bankrupt in the dot-com bust and
then got bought by the Brown Thumb of Novell which had previously killed
proprietary Unix, Desqview, DR-DOS, wordperfect... it was where software
went to die.  Yeah, I expected that to collapse _before_ they kissed the
black widow.)


> 2005 i bought a macpro laptop... OS X i wanted a simple user
> interface to use as a non-technical system, and also have unix
> environment... and this is still my setup with vmware and ubuntu and 
> redhat...

My wife has an apple box.  It'll continue to be shiny until about 5
years after Steve Jobs dies (apparently his pancreatic/liver cancer has

We've seen apple without Steve Jobs.  It wasn't pretty.

> i always ssh into the vmware instance... so In affect I
> never deal with any of the linux GUI stuff... i went and spoiled
> myself and bought a 30" cinema display... for combined i have 45" of
> display to play with.

Xubuntu's not so bad.  Binary only flash plugin works, VLC plays
multimedia, chrome's a decent browser.  I need a new email client.



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