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Torvalds Takes Issue With De Icaza's Linux Desktop Claims 616

Posted by samzenpus
from the who's-to-blame dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Linux creator Linus Torvalds has poured scorn on claims made by the co-founder of the GNOME Desktop project, Miguel de Icaza, that he (Torvalds) was in any way to blame for the lack of development in Linux desktop initiatives. De Icaza wrote in his personal blog: 'Linus, despite being a low-level kernel guy, set the tone for our community years ago when he dismissed binary compatibility for device drivers. The kernel people might have some valid reasons for it, and might have forced the industry to play by their rules, but the Desktop people did not have the power that the kernel people did. But we did keep the attitude.'" Update: 09/02 18:39 GMT by U L : The original source of the comments (and an exciting flamewar between Free Software heavyweights).
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Torvalds Takes Issue With De Icaza's Linux Desktop Claims

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  • by rueger (210566) * on Sunday September 02, 2012 @01:18PM (#41206605) Homepage
    I'm using Mint Cinnamon, and am very happy with it. The "classic" desktop works fine - why the need to reinvent it?

    I had a Mac for several years, and didn't find OS X - much less the idiotic Dock - to be any more useful than plain old Windows XP. I ran Ubuntu until Unity, which simply didn't offer any real added utility, just more pointless doo-dads.

    The reason why so many people stick with XP, or Vista, or even Windows 2000 is because it just works. They understand it. They don't need added gobbledy-gook flying all over the screen, or the OS "hiding" stuff on the assumption that they don't need it.
  • I agree with Linus (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Omnifarious (11933) * <eric-slash&omnifarious,org> on Sunday September 02, 2012 @01:19PM (#41206617) Homepage Journal

    He's absolutely request. GNOME's compatibility breaking is all GNOME. It's not a cultural norm set by the kernel developers.

    Of course, it's much harder to define a good, stable API for upper layer stuff. It's closer to things that need to change frequently. Though X has done a remarkably good job of that.

    Maybe, if that's what GNOME wants, they should sit down and think really hard about how to do it. And ignore all the current 'hot' technologies and buzzwords. That's what led them to .NET and CORBA, and those were complete dead ends.

    Windows has, more or less, done it. I suspect though that it costs them a great deal. The Windows API has always been an insane mess, and IMHO a great source of the reason it was originally so very unstable.

  • Re:WTF. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vlm (69642) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @01:20PM (#41206623)

    I got linux on desktop.

    It works perfectly.

    Seriously, what's the problem?

    Agreed, "it" has worked properly for a long time. But someone elses "pet project" doesn't, so we have to hear endlessly about how "it" is broken.

    His hammer doesn't install drywall screws very well, therefore we are all supposed to be in a tizzy that the world is not ready for drywall.

    Bye bye gnome, bye bye kde, awesome / xfce / ratpoison are the way to go.

  • by ibsteve2u (1184603) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @01:23PM (#41206637)
    FOSS ain't totalitarianism. The point, IMO, of open source is do it the way you think is the best way. If enough people conclude you're right, your way is incorporated. If insufficient do, you reanalyze and improve (at least a couple of times) until your approach gains acceptance. All while keeping an eye out for parallel development efforts that look "smarter", "better", "more efficient", or what have you - and then incorporating those ideas if feasible or abandoning your effort if the general direction you're going becomes a dead end/obsolete before acceptance.

    To summarize, when you have complete freedom failure is a decision you choose for yourself - it ain't somebody else's fault. It can be a community's "fault" if you feel you must attribute fault (we call those who attempt to lay blame and isolate all power to themselves "Republicans" in America, and must constantly duck their accusations that community involvement in any and all things is "mob rule"), but hey - that's democracy.
  • by 0-9a-zA-Z_.+!*'()123 (266827) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @01:25PM (#41206655) Homepage Journal

    the 'failure' of the linux desktop is basically applications. libreoffice and linux gaming initiatives are the way to win that battle. making a prettier desktop is not.

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @01:32PM (#41206697) Homepage

    Thank you, Linus.

  • Re:WTF. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @01:34PM (#41206713) Journal

    De Icaza is a rat fink, period. He long ago used up any capital he had in the FOSS community with his dalliances with Microsoft. Frankly, if there was never another /. article involving anything that piece of crap had to say, we would still have about three dozen too many articles out there involving his weasily mutterings.

  • by Yahma (1004476) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @01:40PM (#41206735) Journal
    I'll probably get modded down for this, but here goes...

    I agree, at least partly, with De Icaza's assertion that ABI breakage (binary compatibility) in each kernel release is a problem for vendors, and likely helped push hardware vendors away from supporting Linux. While in the ideal world, every vendor will release their drivers as open-source, this is the real world. There are numerous reasons (legal and others) why companies cannot or will not release their drivers as open-source (ie. Nvidia). With each new kernel release breaking binary compatibility with prior releases, this forces the companies to release a new driver every time the kernel gets updated. This might not be a problem for a big company with resources such as Nvidia; however, for smaller companies, this is likely a big reason they do not support Linux in the first place.

    Case in point, Dell paid PowerVR to develop a Poulsbo graphics driver for their Dell Mini netbooks (which at the time were on Ubuntu 10.04). PowerVR developed the driver. As Ubuntu released newer versions, the driver stopped working due to the ABI breakage. Users were entirely dependent upon Dell to pay PowerVR to constantly update the driver for new Kernel releases, which they did not.

    This type of continual ABI breakage is not seen in both the Mac and Windows worlds

  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @01:47PM (#41206799)

    Your post does not make sense, which is not surprising when Ayn Rand is invoked. Is the GNOME community not creating anything? Did Linux kernel programmers create GNOME? Was the Linux kernel the work of one man?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 02, 2012 @01:55PM (#41206849)

    There was a six year gap between 95 and XP and also a six year gap between XP and Vista. That's a whole different ballpark than the frequent Linux ABI changes.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 02, 2012 @01:56PM (#41206851)
    Then why is Miguel crying about Linux "setting the tone" then? I'll bet that with enough work, Gnome can work on Windows so why the Linux hate? Personally, I like some elements of Gnome and was a huge fan of v.2.x but they flat jumped the shark with 3 and it damn sure isn't Linux's fault. They (the Gnome 3 devs) made the decision to hide buttons on the titlebar. They made the decision to go to the weird hidden menu. They made the decision to remove functionality from fundamental applications like Nautilus. So don't come trying to lay the blame on Linus because your little experiment isn't popular and your losing mindshare. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to use Gnome 3 and realize pretty quickly it stinks. Go back to the drawing board, fellas.
  • by fm6 (162816) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @01:58PM (#41206871) Homepage Journal

    Going back to De Icaza's original blog post, I don't see him playing a blame game. He's trying to understand why he can't seem to find a audio driver for his Linux box that doesn't break every time he does a major update. He thinks it's because of certain attitudes in the core Linux community that are driven by Thorvalds personality. I find his argument pretty dubious, but is he saying it's all Thorvalds's fault? I don't see it.

    The blame game started when the story spread beyond De Icaza's post. You can see it in the headline for this story. The problem is, the hacker community is very big on finding a Good Guy and a Bad Guy, I see this over and over again on Slashdot. Really, we all need to forget all those stupid TV shows we spent too much time watching as we were growing up.

  • by unixisc (2429386) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @02:02PM (#41206893)
    Actually, it's very much a valid point. GNOME 2 supported the BSDs as well, but in GNOME 3, they were discussing making Systemd mandatory for GNOME3, which is not there in BSD. As a result, there is no BSD that supports GNOME 3 as yet - not even a GNOME specific distro like GhostBSD. Theoretically yes, GNOME can exist w/o Linux, but in reality, it sticks to Linux like a leech. If they are so capable, why don't they develop Hurd, which has been taking forever, and port GNOME3 to that? Or port GNOME 3 to Minix? There are 3 unixes that GNOME 3 doesn't seem interested in.
  • by Pecisk (688001) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @02:04PM (#41206901)

    I really don't like when people are trying to spice up their articles or blog posts with sensacionalist claims (Slashdot mods, you are guilty as Miguel are).

    First of all, Linux desktop isn't dead. Millions of people use it. Ok, we are smaller than Windows definitely (can't be sure about OS X). I personally don't see it as a problem, as long developers are keeping fire of competition alive.

    What Miguel propably wanted to bring up is regular point of criticism instability of Linux/free desktop based API (window enviroment, sound, graphics). While there have been some little fallouts about this in open source world, in nutshell open source desktop guys *care* about back compatability. And lot of commercial apps which can be easily run on various enviroments and distributions (and most of them even provide compatible packages for mainstream formats like deb and rpm) indicate that it is not that hard.

    As always yes, there are hardware driver bugs (Windows aren't also free from this, and it has official vendor support), there are some competition in desktop enviroment (but let's be honest, in general that's not big problem). Problems for small software vendors is that mostly they can't compete with free - we don't need five different file compression applications, we have usually one general for each enviroment. Problems for big vendors - well, market isn't simply big enough (for Adobe for example).

  • by Mad Marlin (96929) <> on Sunday September 02, 2012 @02:04PM (#41206903) Homepage

    It is an ethical issue and the majority fail to understand the position. Just because we make compromises out of strong desires and self interest (raising kids) doesn't make those acts (writing proprietary software to feed ones children) justifiable. Writing proprietary software is not justifiable no matter how much you want to feed your children.

    Writing proprietary software is perfectly okay. I don't have to give away my work for free, although sometimes I do.

  • Re:WTF. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by couchslug (175151) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @02:07PM (#41206923)

    "Linux desktop experience is 20 behind and regressing, while we laugh at upcoming windows releases."

    I don't confuse Gnome with the "Linux desktop experience". I can run as many WMs as I like on the same machine and choose between them.

    So can you.

  • by Microlith (54737) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @02:08PM (#41206935)

    Poulsbo was a disaster even on Windows thanks to Imagination Technologies.

    This type of continual ABI breakage is not seen in both the Mac and Windows worlds

    They also aren't open source. That the kernel ABI doesn't remain constant is something that has held true for Linux since it was created.

    Imagination Technologies is a company that, IME, is very hostile to open source as a whole. If you are foolish enough to license their core without also getting the driver sources so you can rebuild as you see fit, then you deserve the misery you incur. Nokia did this, with the licenses required that allowed things like this project [] to continue supporting multiple devices with a PowerVR GPU almost 3 years after release of the first.

    Intel seems to be slowly learning that lesson as their SoC designs are trending towards an internally developed GPU rather than PowerVR.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 02, 2012 @02:10PM (#41206951)

    This is the STUPIDEST comment I've seen.

    I wrote a rant about this within the past couple days in one of the other articles: ABI COMPATIBILITY IS IMPORTANT EVEN IN OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE!

    Why? So you don't end up in the goddamn fucking mess we're in right now, where your code requires a specific gcc version to build, thanks to differences in parsing capability, header availability, etc, due to the era when the code was written, and linking to libraries whose ABI changes based on the compiler used (silently I might add, with, in many cases, no easy way to verify what compiler/toolchain it was compiled against (I'm looking at you libstdc++ v4).

    Binary compatibility is important because backwards compatibility is important, and thanks to an ever increasing lack of 'fixing old problems before creating new ones', the errata for open source compilers,toolchains, and apps is ever increasing. Try compiling any non-trivial C++ app. Especially, find one that's got a dependancy that won't compile on a later gcc version (just between 4.0 and 4.7, say at least 3 minor-numbers away), then compile the apps and see what the odds are of a random segfault with a blown stack. wxGTK and pcsx2, or OGRE and OpenMW are some good examples.

    Shit comes crashing down.

    And for those of you who don't remember, how about the libc5 -> glibc -> glibc 2.2.5 -> glibc 2.3.x fiascos. If you were someone compiling from source during any of those transitions, you no doubt remember the horrors of incomplete, untested, or just plain sloppy backwards compatibility. 2.2.5 btw was the last 386 supporting glibc version, and some early 2.3 version is the last sub 2.6 kernel version (later 2.3.x kernels only support newer 2.6 kernels, despite claiming to the contrary. Go try setting the minimum kernel version when compiling glibc 2.14 or 2.15 for example and see what the odds are it even works correctly.)

    While I've got some gripes with Linus' handling of the kernel, the problem is FAR bigger than him, and definitely includes De Icaza's own stupidity as a large part of the pile (Anyone remember how much crap used to depend on EDS, despite it often offering you NOTHING other than wasting disk space and memory?) What about all the BS with mono? Hell, what about all the BS with gnome? Gnome1 gets punted as soon as it started feeling useful. Then like 5 years later when Gnome 2 finally starts maturing, same shit different color. De Icaza: Retire. Seriously we know how much you envied Fonzi, but that shark is gonna get you if you try and jump it again.

    - vranash

  • Re:WTF. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by westyvw (653833) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @02:11PM (#41206971)

    20 behind? Windows 7 as a desktop is a complete farce once you are used to the deep integration of a Linux desktop, never mind the configurability. No Gnome, No Unity? So what? There are much better alternatives out there, and you can choose them if you wish.

  • by perpenso (1613749) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @02:16PM (#41207007)

    I got linux on desktop. It works perfectly. Seriously, what's the problem?

    Well it is annoying to have to rebuild things when the kernel is updated, vmware comes to mind.

    These things add up and explain the many defections from desktop Linux to Mac OS X, as attested to by various long term Linux users in yesterday's article on the subject. The short story is that many Linux users merely wanted a *nix environment, they were not into the politics or crusade. That is desktop Linux's problem, its becoming a less interesting option for those who just want a *nix environment and don't want to join a social movement.

  • by symbolset (646467) * on Sunday September 02, 2012 @02:18PM (#41207021) Journal
    The Linux version will never be complete and current with the Windows version. If you admire the thing so much, go whole hog.
  • by poetmatt (793785) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @02:18PM (#41207023) Journal

    because he's paid by microsoft?

    again, his comments are in the same category as Florian and should be summarized dismissed as such.

  • by Skapare (16644) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @02:35PM (#41207173) Homepage

    10x is an extreme overestimate. The actual figure depends on the skill of the programmer. C can in fact increase the programming time. But that increase is also bringing in thinking about how you make the solution work. Skilled programmers that understand what is going on can get that ratio down near 1x. Sadly, many projects just don't have the skilled programmers available, and simply would never succeed with C, and must use something cool like Python or Ruby. And I have seen programmers out there working on open source projects that would not be able to even get Hello World working reliably on their own in their preferred language. And too many projects these days are ending up as "Frankenprojects" which are not much more than a bunch of other things all bolted together. Where's the KISS principle when you need it? It seems C is holding it hostage.

  • by cheesybagel (670288) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @02:37PM (#41207197)

    The fact is most of the things Icaza complained about were things where he had a say or actually caused them but did not do anything at the time and now he starts harping on how Linus is responsible for the behavior he had for things he himself created. For example his complaint about different desktops. Had he never founded GNOME then KDE would probably be the dominant desktop. He caused the split. If his only issue was the Qt license he could have started his own implementation of Qt rather than making a whole new desktop based on GTK+. The API incompatibilities in GNOME could have been mitigated. Even GTK+ at least had a stable API since 2.0 was released so I don't get why the GNOME folks need to be constantly breaking compatibility for their bits.

    Then when things had settled with KDE and GNOME he started pushing C# as a development language. Thankfully most people ignored him and his pro-Microsoft agenda.

  • by oiron (697563) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @02:45PM (#41207259) Homepage

    Alright, why not use a six-year old Linux?

    You won't get the ABI breakage, but you won't get any new features for the next six years, either...

    But you'd still not be getting the whole story there. Linux's in-kernel driver ABI is not stable, meaning that manufacturers can't merely drop a driver installer into a CD and distribute it with the hardware. On the other hand, most run-of-the-mill hardware is supported without a stable driver ABI, because those drivers live inside the kernel itself. I've rarely had any problems with Linux SATA support, for example, because most decent ATA/SATA drivers are in the kernel tree...

    It hits companies like nVidia that don't want to release any (or rather, enough) specifications for the kernel devs to make and maintain their own drivers. In other words, blame the hardware manufacturers.

    The external ABI of the kernel is remarkably stable. As Linus and Alan Cox say in the article, you can run a binary made in 1992 on a modern kernel. In 1992, Windows was still DOS, meaning that anything built then was 16 bit, which is unsupported on Win7, and Mac ran one of OS 1 thru 9 (don't ask me which), which worked through an emulator for the last few years, and now even that's gone!

    Apart from that, today many drivers can be supported through things like FUSE and libusb, which don't require you to muck around with the in-kernel drivers. Lots of devices - keyboards, mice, memory devices - run perfectly well out of the box. Even today, when you plug in a new mouse in Windows, it "installs new drivers"! What? New drivers for a mouse?

    Macs are better, but they also target a very frozen hardware spec. Want to change something? Be prepared to hack like crazy!

    Again, is a 6 year release cycle something to be proud of? Especially the XP-Vista one, where it wasn't just 6 years, it was 6 years, at the end of which we got a half-done POS that needed to be fixed with Win7... Saying "we don't have so much ABI breakage because we're slow, and when we break that, we break everything else too" is kind of pointless!

    And finally, when Microsoft breaks things, they break things ! For example, in Win8, the preferred programming environment for GUI apps is whatever-they're-calling-Metro-now, which is based on XAML, but is not the same XAML as either WPF or Silverlight, which were the accepted orthodoxy in the previous release, which is different from the blessed API of the one before that (WinForms), which wasn't used by their teams, who favoured the older API they had (MFC), with WinForms and WPF getting the ribbon after MFC got it (like it or not, the ribbon is MS's standard, which they didn't support in their touted dev platform for a LONG time), and so on...

    By contrast, the Linux API and preferred method of writing client code haven't changed for two decades.

  • Gremlins (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Unknown Lamer (78415) Works for Slashdot <clinton@unknownla[ ].org ['mer' in gap]> on Sunday September 02, 2012 @02:47PM (#41207269) Homepage Journal

    People like to pretend that Windows and OS X don't have their own unique problems... computing environments in general are still overly difficult to use and all have their own obnoxious quirks (given enough time and people think of them as features).

    My Grandmother runs KDE on Debian testing... she couldn't fix Windows when it broke, and at least Debian breaks less often... and the solitare game is better I hear. And when my cousins visit her I don't get the "the kids broke the computer with their stupid websites" calls any more ;)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 02, 2012 @02:57PM (#41207361)

    because [Miguel is] paid by microsoft

    This is a likely possibility. Unfortunately, I almost think he does it all for free. The man has been sabotaging Gnome for a long time and advocating Mono which is pretty much worthless as the ISO certified spec of .Net is only up to version 2 while .Net itself is up to version 4 or 5. I have never gotten a .Net binary to run on Linux despite trying over and over. And that Moonlight shit? I have never seen it work in the wild on a typical website. Not even to show the menu on the deluded restaurant sites that fell for Silverlight. Despite what the naysayers say, even if Moonlight and Mono were 100 percent compatible on the day of a .Net release, if any OS started getting successful and integrated Mono technologies to do so, the lawyers would trip all over themselves in the race to "extract licensing fees". You'd have to be blind, stupid, born yesterday, or a shill to pretend otherwise.

  • by 0123456 (636235) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @03:06PM (#41207443)

    Because it's a shitty knock off of a shitty knock off of Java.

    I disagree. C# seems to have fixed some of the worst problems of Java.

    But I still wouldn't use it unless I wanted to be tied to Windows, because Microsoft could kill Mono any time they feel like it.

  • by 0123456 (636235) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @03:08PM (#41207457)

    Bizarre. I keep seeing all this whining about pulseaudio, and two years ago it was justified.. but today it just works on every Linux machine I own, and works better than the older sound systems ever did.

  • Re:WTF. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross AT yahoo DOT ca> on Sunday September 02, 2012 @03:11PM (#41207499)

    I am sorry, but it as in Linux has not worked properly for ages. Yes yes I can tweak, twiddle to my hearts content and somehow figure out that I need to do a polka dance while singing the star bangled banner to get audio, or multi-screens to work. I have used Linux on and off since Yggdrasil. For the youngsters google it, for the older guys you know what distribution I am talking about.

    Linux on the desktop has worked well since about 1 to 2 years ago with Ubuntu. Around that time Ubuntu did some major work on the UI and things just ended up working. I have talked to many of my friends and we all are saying that now Ubuntu is ready to give to newbies and people who just want to use a computer. In fact now Ubuntu works better than say Windows or OSX.

    I have known Miguel since a long time ago, even have some photos with him coding on the floor as we were discussing some problems. He is IMO a smart guy who likes Open Source, but also likes to make money. I think there is nothing wrong with that. The fact that Microsoft did a cut off the knees of .NET is going to boomerang against Microsoft anyways. This was one boneheaded move by them. But I digress.

    Miguel just wants a desktop that works and until recently his rant was right. The irony is that during that time Ubuntu grew up and he moved to OSX. I have moved away from Windows 100%, and now live in an Ubuntu and OSX world. It is a great world and things just work! About effen time folks. Does this mean there are still not problems? Absolutely the interface stuff is still an issue, but again the software vendors have developed hacks around it. Namely they do auto-compilation of the kernels. Not pretty, but it works and gets the job done.

    Now before all of you start jumping on me on how well things are, let me reiterate I have been using Linux since Yggdrasil, and have gone through a ton of releases. Even did so recently. For example try to get a clean remote desktop working with anything but mainline Ubuntu. I mean one that is remote desktop compatible with tablets. Only Ubuntu works cleanly. Every other distribution has one problem or another related to clicking, or hanging, or crashing of the desktop.

  • Re:WTF. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross AT yahoo DOT ca> on Sunday September 02, 2012 @03:14PM (#41207521)

    Oh there is a standard desktop for Linux ;) Its called Ubuntu.

  • Re:WTF. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whoever57 (658626) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @03:14PM (#41207527) Journal

    Can you imagine how little value Mono and his other projects must have if a holding company just wrote them off?

    They have provided excellent value ...... to Microsoft. Stymieing the development of Linux has been priceless to Microsoft, for the cost of refusing to hire him.

  • Re:WTF. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by taiwanjohn (103839) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @03:17PM (#41207553)

    DE designers should be retired, just like the guys who gave us the basic clutch+brake+accelerator layout of pedals in cars. The basic combo of windows, widgets, & menus has served us well enough for decades already. There is nothing "more intuitive" waiting to be discovered... at least not as long as we're still using keyboards and mice.

    FFS, quit mucking about with "innovation" on the desktop!!! (Remember KISS? "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"...?? Any of this ringing any bells?) If anything, you DE designers should be more concerned with convergence than differentiation. Every time you hear the screams of millions of users crying out against the latest "New-Paradigm"[tm] from MS or Apple, that should be your cue to GIVE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT -- ie: what they are USED TO -- not an "Even-Newer-Paradigm".

    If you've got time on your hands, and are looking for something to do, please spend it on improving your favorite apps. The UI does not need anything "new", nor do the users want anything new or unfamiliar. It's more than enough hassle to keep up with "innovations" in the app space... please don't make us learn new tricks in the WM too!

  • Re:WTF. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by schnell (163007) <> on Sunday September 02, 2012 @03:22PM (#41207581) Homepage

    Stable ABIs are for retards.

    Congratulations! You have in one short, succinct and economical sentence of only five words captured the essence - in both attitude and content - of why Linux is and always will be the perfect tool for the technically inclined tinkerer, and why it will never be adopted by the masses. Linux will go on doing what it does well, designed by the people and for the people who think the vast majority of desktop OS installations in the world are "for retards."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 02, 2012 @03:43PM (#41207743)

    Tired of this meme from angry zealots turning on one of their own

    Whoah there, tiger. I see you like to use emotionally charged words to try to win people over to a vacuous argument but, a) it isn't a "meme", b) Miguel isn't one of anybody's "own". The man is just a developer that has took positions that are at odds with a significant contingent of the community over the years and when anybody makes extraordinary claims that fly in the face of common sense, they deserve to be taken to task.

    someone who did more for Open Source and Linux than you or probably anyone here can ever dream of doing.

    Nobody is saying Miguel isn't a talented and prolific developer of open source software but he spent a significant amount of time and energy trying to shove Mono down a collectively unwilling throat. And now he blames the so-called failure of desktop Linux on his pet project's developers misguided attempt at trying to mimic Torvald's development philosophy. Somehow that's supposed to be Linus's fault? How about a common sense intervention that should make it pretty obvious that kernel development and userland development are different with different goals and needs. That should be pretty obvious to somebody as smart as Miguel and trying to point the finger for so specious a reason deserves scorn.

    Blaming him is an easy out

    I realize that staying on topic might be difficult for you but the person you replied to said Miguel is being paid by Microsoft with little else added to that. He wasn't "blaming" him for anything in particular just stating his opinion and why Miguel shouldn't be listened to.

    Blaming him is an easy out instead of facing and trying to fix the fact that the Bazaar model is not the end all and be all of ideal software development in the real world.

    Wow, speaking of memes (and strawmen). Do you have evidence that the majority of the Linux community disagrees with this statement? Because as a person that has interacted with a lot of Linux people, my experience is that they tend to be very practical and have never said that the Bazaar model was one size fits all. Just look at the anticipation for Steam by so many Linux users. It's the minority that is saying they don't want Steam because the games aren't Free. The mainstream perspective is Bring it On! and personally I agree with that.

    I've read many of your posts both on here and Hacker News over the years and if there's anything you are not it is an advocate of open source in any way so I have to ask you something:

    When do you realize that the Cathedral model is not the end all and be all of ideal software development in the real world.

    Or does it just soothe your soul to be a hypocrite?

  • Re:WTF. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Sunday September 02, 2012 @03:44PM (#41207745) Journal

    You do realize you just used the classic "works for me" completely worthless answer, yes? Well I have a B&W G3 and an AMD 6 core running Win 7 so OSX and Windows "works for me" so that means that ALL OSes must be just great, yes?

    The problem is, and Torvalds can get pissy if he wants but it doesn't change reality, that with everything from the kernel on up constantly in a state of flux maintaining software and drivers for Linux costs waaay more money than it does for Windows and OSX so many simply won't bother. I mean how many drivers does Nvidia have to put up just to keep their GPUs running in Linux? Yet a WinXP driver written by them in 04 will run on XP now, their RTM Win 7 driver runs on 7 now, no need for Nvidia to futz with it.

    If you would like some further reading I'd suggest this article by one of the RH devs [] that says the desktop is "suckage" and that Linux is paying for "mistakes made 10-20 years ago"...kinda like...well kinda exactly like what de Icaza said. Oh and if you'd like to see what is broken here is a list of over 200 problems [] with both software and drivers. Please note that this is the 2012 edition, I can provide a link to the original list and you can compare and see how many of those problems are over 3 years old now.

  • by SEE (7681) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @03:59PM (#41207911) Homepage

    Starting with your decision in 1997 to abandon what was the GNU project's official GUI toolkit in favor of GTK.

    If you'd stuck with GNUStep, the discipline of compatibility with a written spec (OpenStep) and the pressure for compatibility with a living rival implementation (OPENSTEP, then Mac OS X) would have avoided the "blow everything up and restart" problem. And you wouldn't have spent any time on CORBA if you already had PDO baked-in.

    And it would have been actually following the kernel approach. Whatever the kernel might do with its internal structure, in its external interfaces it's been stable. Further, that external interface has been a re-implementation and extension of an existing good-enough interface (Unix/POSIX/SysV), rather than running off and implementing its own ideal of how an OS should work.

  • Re:WTF. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @04:18PM (#41208067) Journal

    He thinks like a sell-out quisling, and what has he got to show for it? Mono gasping for air, and about to be snuffed because Microsoft is going to give .NET the kick, Gnome in bad shape and development and descending into farce.

    I'm glad the useless prick has gone to OS X. Apple deserves his kind.

  • by jimshatt (1002452) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @04:24PM (#41208127)
    And what a wonderful and witty quote it is! Only Monty Python could have come up with that one. I don't think I've ever heard anybody else say "No, it isn't". Thank you.
  • Re:WTF. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slack_justyb (862874) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @04:30PM (#41208183)

    I never understood why, if even just in the name of good architectural design, Linus was against it. Maybe it was cause he only thinks like a low level guy.

    I'll see your question and raise you another question in about the same vein. "I never understood why, if even just in the name of making software good for end users, Miguel and his former GNOME team kept breaking everything in sight." Remove this option, change this paradigm, make this more confusing, and change this API, etc, etc etc... He switched over to Mono and tried to convince the world how awesome that platform was versus any other development platform out there. Not really worrying about others who disagreed with his stance.

    Miguel going on a tirade about people breaking things first chance they get is a little like this conversation I heard this one time between a kettle and a pot. Had something to do with the color black. At no point did Linus say, that in order to to work with Linux you need to break your APIs every three to four weeks, it just needed to work with the exposed interface.

    Binary compaibility is important to "closed software" not open source. It's not a priority for FOSS. That's why developers could not care less about it. It's the distros that should be the ones who worry about this kind of stuff. They pander to not only open source, but closed software as well. Trying to blame developers for the inability for commerical software to succeed on Linux, is a little like blaming the people who make the product, for a management team that cannot make up their mind about which product the people making products should be making.

    Please note that the above is strictly my opinion and in no way should it be confused with reality, unless you feel that it reflects said reality that you also exist in.

  • Re:WTF. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @04:38PM (#41208255)

    Put a a member of a lost tribe in front of a Windows computer...

    People have done exactly that sort of experiment, but with iPads.

    And what do you know... the grandmother, toddler, or lost Amazonian tribesman invariably takes to it like a fish to water.

    Those who ignore the lesson that's implicit in your snarky comment are in more danger of obsolescence than they can possibly imagine. Being usable by a member of a "lost tribe" is not a joke or a straw-man argument, but a requirement. Miguel shows signs of getting that. Does anyone else?

  • by donscarletti (569232) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @04:48PM (#41208337)

    Because he wants to shift the blame away from himself.

    In truth, it wasn't just Miguel's fault. When I used to maintain a sub-project on Gnome, he always seemed to be working on and promoting something else, first his email program, then Mono. Evolution was good, but quite unneeded (Thunderbird was better). Mono is a capable platform and works great for Unity3D amongst other things, but was never useful for Gnome and mainly just pissed people off the Anti-Microsoft nutters who made up a good chunk of the support base. De Icaza had the chance as project founder to lead the project from the core, like Torvalds does and set his own policies that are suitable for Gnome. He chose to work on other things instead.

  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <> on Sunday September 02, 2012 @04:53PM (#41208381) Homepage Journal

    Free software is very much a threat to software engineers. See, we get paid to write software for systems. It's a nice gig. Gives me income to pay the bills. I'd much rather do this than be a ditch digger who hacks at software in my free time.

    Your work arrangement with your employer sucks. My boss pays me to create things that don't already exist because my company needs their output. A good chunk of the time, they then let me release it as Free Software so that 1) we're not the only people in the world maintaining it, and 2) the Free Software ecosystem (which we benefit greatly from) grows.

    Software engineers have earned good money for decades. All this free stuff undermines that.

    Only if you're not good at it. Lots of software engineers make good money writing Free Software.

  • by EatAtJoes (102729) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @05:00PM (#41208441) Homepage

    Why is this a concern, at least to us evil proprietary engineers? The more free packages incorporated, the less work that needs done. Less work = less employees.

    That's weird, I've had a great 15+ year in non-free software development, and free software has *always* plays a central role in:

    * faster development of new features by leveraging existing solutions
    * use of tools to streamline and rationalize release and operational processes
    * standardization in areas like dependency injection, unit testing, configuration
    * ability to "use the source" to solve a problem quickly and decisively

    All of my work has been in technology solutions for businesses that need it -- web, server-side, message-driven stuff, etc. The requirements are always expanding. I don't know a single developer in this area that is out of work.

    On the other hand, if you're selling something to the public and expecting free software to stay out of your playground, that's a different issue. My response to that is adapt or die -- the world does not exist to provide cozy niches for proprietary software.

  • Re:WTF. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @05:05PM (#41208471) Homepage

    > Yes yes I can tweak, twiddle to my hearts content and
    > somehow figure out that I need to do a polka dance while
    > singing the star bangled banner to get audio, or multi-screens
    > to work.

    I haven't had trouble with Linux audio in about 10 years.

    I think you're just full of shit.

    I don't care you long you claim you've been using Linux. You sound like a clueless troll using FUD that was outdated in the last century.

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @05:12PM (#41208531) Homepage

    I don't have problems with proprietary drivers or even 3rd party drivers I've built myself. Someone decided to address this problem and it hasn't been a real issue for about 2 or 4 years now. It's just a nice talking point for people to repeat when they want to trash Linux.

    If a proprietary developer wants to ignore "How Linux does things" then this is no different than them ignoring "How Apple does things".

  • Re:WTF. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @05:15PM (#41208555) Journal

    Stable ABIs are for retards. Stable ABIs force you to support cruddy old shit forever because it was poorly designed to begin with and now you can never get rid of it.

    Linus disagrees. Here is what he said, "One of the core kernel rules has always been that we never ever break any external interfaces."

    Alan Cox disagrees with you too. Here is what he said, "my 3.6rc kernel will still run a Rogue binary built in 1992."

    Stable ABIs are a good idea, unless you suck as a programmer and get it horribly wrong the first time. In which case no one will use your product, so it doesn't matter anyway.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 02, 2012 @05:17PM (#41208583)

    Evolution was good, but quite unneeded (Thunderbird was better).

    This is still something I have a problem wrapping my head around. Both Gnome and KDE have pet versions of highly successful and complicated types of software that seem to be out of the scope of a DE. I mean, why do they devote precious resources to Epiphany when everybody uses Firefox and Chromium? Why KOffice when everybody uses LibreOffice? Xfce sets a good example by only shipping the bare necessities like a file manager, text editor, etc. rather than trying to compete with the big boys in arenas where they're hopelessly out-manned.

  • Re:WTF. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @05:21PM (#41208613) Homepage

    That page is hysterical nonsense.

    It conflates "some problems exist" with "nothing ever works for anyone". It also ignores that many of the same exact problems exist for Windows which is a monopoly product produced by a large company and supported by an entire industry of large companies.

  • by oakgrove (845019) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @05:30PM (#41208655)

    nothing else is as credible a threat to MS on the mainstream desktop as Linux is.

    Read it again. I bolded the relevant bits. OS X is a beast in the high-end niche of laptops over a thousand dollars but unless Apple decides to make an inexpensive entry-level general purpose computer, that's where it'll stay. The iPad is very successful but it isn't the "desktop". I've had lots of people come to me with computer problems that I'd have loved to turn on to OS X but they just can't spend the money and I'm not about to make them my Hackintosh guinea pig so it doesn't happen. Since Linux will run on the 300-600 dollar mainstream computers the majority of the market buys it is more of a threat to Windows than OS X is. For different reasons, both OS X and Linux maintaining their respective status quo is what will probably happen in the near term so it's academic anyway.

  • Re:WTF. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @05:31PM (#41208663) Homepage

    MacOS is overrated. Do you have any? Do you have the slightest clue or do you just repeat other people's propaganda.

    I have and have had multiple Macs. I've seen the "competition" and it's overrated. Perhaps Macs have some benefit from being preloaded. That's not something unique to Macs.

    The quality is no better. Mac usability is generally only better if you have relatively weak requirements. It "hides information" well but then hides it too well when you want to do something more interesting.

    If you don't want to use your PC as a glorified iPad, you are better with something else. Also, at that level the usability differences between operating systems (even Linux) don't matter so much.

    Beyond being overhyped and overpriced, the Mac community suffers from a more severe group think than Windows users. They seem to be actively geek hostile. If you are the least bit creative, you are likely to get shouted down or called a pirate.

    Windows may be a festering pile but it's users seem to be much more interesting in "doing interesting things".

    A general purpose computer is a tool, not an appliance.

  • Re:WTF. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex&project-retrograde,com> on Sunday September 02, 2012 @05:53PM (#41208809)

    My grandmother can barely operate the TV input select mechanism. However my 75 year old neighbor can and does use Linux. He knows how to read, and basic computer literacy -- like what disk space means. I gave him a Linux Live CD. He called me and asked how to boot it, because his BIOS was set not to do so (quiet boot prevented "Press [F2] for setup" message) -- This is the same issue he would have had trying to install any OS from a CD (if he'd have put in either Win7 or Ubuntu while the PC was running, he'd have gotten options to do the install from within XP).

    A graphical installer came up, It had auto selected a dual boot side by side install. He moved a slider to adjust the amount of storage he wanted for the new OS, checked and that was it -- No command line, No questionnaire that halts in the middle of roll out (unlike MS, which monetizes this "Enterprise" feature). He had installed Linux. He's been using Linux now for two years. Occasionally he'll call me to shoot the shit and we'll talk about some program he's downloaded for free -- He still can't believe it's all free. "If all of this is free, why is anyone ever paying for Windows?", he asked. I replied, "We can't run every program Windows can yet, but that's the developer's fault for not making it cross platform, but they're coming around slowly." Indeed, why ignore market share at all if it's not necessary to do so? I simply use a cross platform development toolchain instead of a proprietary one, and presto, same code compiles on Linux, Windows, OSX, and BSD (every possible customer base covered).

    So, yes. There are grandparents that are only nominally computer literate (sometimes has trouble copying files) that can make Linux do what they want it to do. He loves GNOME's drag&drop threshold to prevent clicking becoming drag accidentally due to shaky hands (it's built for old folks and accessibility) -- Found in System -> Pref. -> Mouse, Woah Sooooooo, hard?! If he were a "power user", he'd probably be competent enough to just figure out how some similar task is done on Linux vs Windows. Just because they're old doesn't mean they're dumb. My grandma doesn't give a damn if the TV says: "AV 1" and is unusable to her, she doesn't want to use the computer or TV -- She heads for the garden instead.

    If people want to do something they will. Age is not the issue. Linux is ready for the desktop; Caveat: 2-3 year old hardware recommended -- Hardware vendors aren't onboard yet, but more are going this way (Brand spanking new Toshiba I bought didn't have fingerprint reader support out of the box, Support sent me to the site where the beta version of the open source drivers exist, worked like a charm). Factory built computers don't come ready to install new OSs on. Hardware MFGs need to open source their drivers, we buy hardware from them, not drivers -- This is really the only issue. All would be well if they stop installing the OS ahead of time -- Ah, but crapware subsidies actually makes Windows pay for itself and then some (protip: they can do the same with Linux, with Zero MS tax).

  • 10 years ago (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hduff (570443) <hoytduff&gmail,com> on Sunday September 02, 2012 @06:26PM (#41209009) Homepage Journal

    Ten years ago in an editorial in LinuxFormat I called Miguel de Icaza a "sell-out" and have yet to be proved wrong. His Quisling-esque career would be resigned to the /dev/null of Linux history except for all the damage he has done. Now he serves as a cautionary tale.

  • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @06:56PM (#41209179) Homepage
    Do you expect me to take anything you say seriously after admitting that you knew you were misinforming people and then bringing Windows up as an example of consistency?
  • Re:WTF. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DarkOx (621550) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @07:16PM (#41209299) Journal

    He was against it because it would have forced either settling on interfaces that were immature and hamstrung all future development or required probably a new abstraction layer and tons of bloat bloat to support backward compatible versions of everything all time.

    It would have made development slower and debugging harder. The whole project would have suffered for it. It was a practical and correct answer to "How do I rapidly develop a high quality feature rich kernel?" There was no 'tude there really. The choice was work fast and build a state of the art platform, or stabilize to make some lazy hardware vendors who only care about schedules and ship dates happy. The vendors did not really care about Linux at the time that decision was made either. It was too small a market.

    Any time there was a driver provided for anything it was second or third tier quality usually community drivers were better. It was nothing like the Nvidia situation that exists today. Arguably had Linus decided on a stable ABI, Linux(the kernel) would still be playing catch up to proprietary UNIX and Windows today rather than being a first rate platform, that frankly dominates the embed world, and has a healthy chunk of the back office space.

    D'Icaza is an idiot, period. Linus succeeded, he failed and its all sour grapes. Gnome is heap junk compared to its competitors, where Linux is as good as most better than many. Mono is mostly worthless, and 99% of the FOSS community can say "I told you so."

  • Re:WTF. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dbIII (701233) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @09:24PM (#41209857)
    To be fair, it is actually useful for some commercial dotnet (fucking stupid name) software that has been tested against it and so runs on linux. It means you don't have to hotseat an expensive single user at a time bit of software and can just run it over X to wherever the user is sitting (vnc and remote desktop performance sucks for local access and it's more mucking about for the user.
    It fills the same compatibility niche as WINE.
    We can criticise him for some things but mono provides a benefit. Forcing mono into distributions to support some flaky software is a different story that appears to be somebody else's fault - I don't think mono itself is the unstable part. We can't blame him for that any more than we can blame him for the nightmare of gconf on gnome which was somebody else's bit of abandonware.
  • Re:WTF. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dbIII (701233) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @09:29PM (#41209889)
    Gnome didn't start with pragmatism, it started with a misunderstanding of the qt licence, much ranting, gnashing of teeth, and breaking gimp, then trying to do a MS Windows style thing (only with an obfiscated registry hive for every user!) completely ignoring the things available on the platform that meant they didn't need CORBA etc. Later pragmatic people came on board and got some work done after the people that had come for the politics got bored and wandered off.
  • by YukariHirai (2674609) on Sunday September 02, 2012 @10:21PM (#41210111)

    Writing proprietary software is perfectly okay. I don't have to give away my work for free, although sometimes I do.

    Incorrect. Proprietary software is not synonymous with being paid for it, and Free Software (in the GNU/FSF sense) is not synonymous with not being paid for it. Some proprietary software gets provided without financial compensation, some with. Some Free Software is written without financial compensation, some with. And in the long run, Free Software is better for society as a whole than proprietary software is. Unlike Stallman, I do accept that there are exceptions to be made, mostly where networked games are concerned, but hardware drivers should absolutely be Free Software.

  • Re:WTF. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LordLimecat (1103839) on Monday September 03, 2012 @03:21AM (#41211229)

    He (de Icaza) hits "the problem" on the head with these choice quotes:

    Why bother setting up the audio?
    It will likely break again and will force me to go on a hunting expedition to find out more than I ever wanted to know about the new audio system and the drivers technology we are using. ....
    When faced with "this does not work", the community response was usually "you are doing it wrong".

    Anyone who has used a recent distro (last 5-6 years) has probably faced this at least once. Its lots of fun the first time, learning the ins and outs of Linux. Then 6 months passes, a new version of the distro rolls out, you upgrade.....and your sound doesnt work again. Somehow, this time, the prospect of spending another Saturday learning about the new soundsystem is less exciting.

    Seriously, I wish I could blame this on Ubuntu and say "its all your fault", but we now have how many init replacements? How many incompatible soundsystems (OSSv4, OSSv5, ALSA, PulseAudio)? How many X11 backend doohickies?

    Choice is great, but not when things dont "just work", and cause this reality:

    This killed the ecosystem for third party developers trying to target Linux on the desktop. You would try once, do your best effort to support the "top" distro or if you were feeling generous "the top three" distros. Only to find out that your software no longer worked six months later.

    When a developer doesnt support the new WIndows, its not a huge deal really. You delay your rollout for 6months to a year till they get their act together, then you upgrade, and youre good for 2, 3, 4 or more years-- there will be MAYBE one additional Windows version in the intervening time, and it is highly likely your dev will continue to support you with updates throughout that time."

    With Linux, you get maybe 6 months of grace, before the new version comes. Will your dev continue to support your version? Will he support the next one? Did he even decide to support RedHat/Fedora, or did they just go with Ubuntu?

    Its a fair bet that if they say "supports linux" that youll get some kind of script that will probably work, but on occasion it just doesnt, leading to more fun chases figuring out what library is missing or what dependency is unfilled....

    I dont know what the solution is, and I dont really care who the fault lies with, but surely this is not how things should be. All the frills in the world on a composited desktop mean jack squat if your user has no sound and cant figure out why.

  • Re:WTF. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <> on Monday September 03, 2012 @08:19AM (#41212235) Homepage Journal

    We can criticise him for some things but mono provides a benefit. Forcing mono into distributions to support some flaky software is a different story that appears to be somebody else's fault - I don't think mono itself is the unstable part

    GNOME pushed Mono because of Miguel and now lots of us have it stuffed into our distribution as its legacy. WINE hasn't been forced on anyone; indeed, my Ubuntu Precise x64 install refuses to install it at the same time as the LSB core package.

Work expands to fill the time available. -- Cyril Northcote Parkinson, "The Economist", 1955