Strategy (was Re: Improving copyright)

Niall Douglas s_fsfeurope2 at
Fri May 14 11:18:55 UTC 2004

On 13 May 2004 at 22:55, João Miguel Neves wrote:

> > What mistakes? Windows NT was designed by one of the most famous &
> > respected operating system designers the world has ever known. It
> > has a superb kernel. While it has a few structural mistakes, it has
> > far fewer than say the 2.4 series Linux kernels [1] and remember it
> > was designed long before Linux.
> > 
> You completely misunderstood me. Any program with a thousand of lines
> has hundreds of little choices that were made by it's programmers. A
> clone like ReactOS has to get all those right. It's that task that I
> think it's mad.

Linux has had this problem twenty times over in trying to behave like 
all the different Unices out there *at* *the* *same* *time*. 
Following this logic, Linus should have dumped the idea of Linux and 
gone with forking Plan 9 instead - which while very appealing on 
technical grounds, it ignores how much worth legacy compatibility is 
worth to people.

> I don't think that running windows binaries is going to be an issue in
> less than one decade, probably 3 to 5 years.

Precisely why Microsoft are going down the managed code route. 
They're going to try and get all new development over to that new 
proprietary API with proprietary tools & programming languages. By 
the time Linux is fully up to par, all the latest apps will be 
incompatible again.

> > > BTW shoes are made for an european foot because most of shoe
> > > buyers have european feet.
> > 
> > No, it's because those of European descent have the most buying
> > power - therefore industrial production is orientated primarily
> > around them. As a proportion of total would-be shoe buyers European
> > feet are a small minority.
> > 
> So, you just said "No" but your justification said "Yes". I said
> buyers on purpose, not people.

I interpreted "shoe buyers" as those who'd like to buy shoes and are 
capable of paying for them in some form.

> > Far better clone that system [2] and beat the devil at his own game.
> > 
> No, running in second place by following the person that goes first is
> not beating "the devil at his own game". It's making sure you're
> always behind the first guy. Our resources are better spent on
> platforms that have shown themselves stable enough over the years that
> don't force us to reimplement our programs every 3 years.

Are we talking about the same system here? I can run my Win95 and 
often my DOS binaries unmodified on the latest Windows. A Linux 
binary from 1996 stands *zero* *chance* of running unmodified on the 
latest Linux.

When you say "It's making sure you're always behind the first guy" I 
think you're ignoring how non-techies value computers. Non-techies 
want something they can buy some peripheral or application for with 
reasonable assurance it'll work - Linux doesn't and never will do 
this - it has more of the market now than MacOS X yet its peripheral 
support is far less. That's because Linux is good for techies (who 
are able to maintain their own kernel modules) and servers (which 
have a very limited set of hardware configurations).

Now if you had a free clone system capable of running 100% Win32 
binaries and drivers natively you remove the obstacles preventing non-
techies adopting it instead of MS Windows. If even 15% of the market 
use clone Windows, suddenly application developers must ensure 
compatibility - which means NOT using any new proprietary features 
tacked on like managed code (actually, if clone Windows were really 
good enough, you could install Microsoft's own .NET runtime :) ).

So you see what I'm driving at? Linux encourages MS to keep pushing 
people to use new proprietary systems. A binary compatible Windows 
clone makes such tactics redundant.

I'm not saying drop Linux tomorrow - I AM saying the FSF should adopt 
ReactOS and throw resources at it if it's really serious about 
creating change. Of course, this will unleash every weapon MS has 
got, but better do it now than in ten years when they'll have 
finished patenting everything Linux is made of.


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