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Deadwood snapshot update;
On open source
April 3 2009
This was originally posted on my old blog
I have just posted an update to Deadwood today. Lots of
- log file name changed from "log.txt" to "dwlog.txt"
(so admins who forgot where they put Deadwood can more easily find
- Date and time added to Windows dwlog.txt logfile
file flushed (updated) whenever there is a second of inactivity
(if the server is busy, the log file won't get flushed, but will get
flushed when idle)
- INSTALL file changed to use Win32 line breaks and
renamed "INSTALL.txt"; file updated to have more comprehensive startup
information for CentOS 5 and a note about dwlog.txt.
- Fatal dwood2rc
error now correctly noted as a dwood2rc error
- Makefile renamed
Makefile.centos5 in src/; Makefile.mingw renamed Makefile.mingw310 (I'm
making it clear I only support CentOS 5 and MinGW 3.1.0)
of Makefile for CentOS 5 duende helper
- Some compile-time warnings
when compiling in Windows removed
I feel empty and betrayed by
For years I believed the big open source lie.
I believed that a group of volunteers working together on the internet
could make professional-quality end-user software. I was wrong.
What BSD and later on Linux has shown is that
a group of volunteers working during their free time can make a free
computer operating system which is very powerful, but very difficult to
This is what Linux was when I first used it in 1995.
It was no Solaris, but it was a good deal more stable than Windows 3.11
and Windows 95. It would take me hours to get X configured and working,
but once it was working, it was rock-solid stable. I wasn't getting
any BSODs (messages Windows shows when the system crashes).
remember I had Windows 95  and Linux in early 1996, and wanted to set
up PPP (the most common way of using a modem to access the internet) so I
could use Netscape. It took make about half an hour to get Netscape and
PPP going in Windows 95; it took me two or three days to get Netscape and
PPP to work in Linux.
However, despite the difficulty of using
Linux, I preferred it because of its stability. I had one friend with
a driver in Windows 95 that was constantly giving him BSODs; I told him
he should use Linux more. I remember another friend who tried getting
Windows 95 working on an AMD motherboard he had and him reinstalling and
re-reinstalling Windows 95 and never getting the system to quite work
I remember feeling Microsoft was an evil monopoly
because you couldn't make a motherboard or other peripheral without
getting Microsoft to support it. I remember Microsoft using their
monopolistic practices in the 1990s to drive Netscape out of business
and hating Microsoft for doing that.
At the same time, I was
resenting all of the companies who wouldn't release hardware specs for
their cards so we could use them in Linux, and resenting the companies
(like Real networks) who made video players without Linux support. I felt
like a second-class computer citizen. There was so much I couldn't do
because I used Linux; I couldn't watch videos in Real player. I couldn't
use Microsoft office (and spent a good deal of money buying WordPerfect
and Applixware's office suite for Linux) or easily read .doc files.
I remember people using StarOffice (since its binary was
a free download) and thinking these people were cheap bastards for
not getting a real office suite for Linux (I had managed to get a good
job in Silicon Valley at this time, so it was nothing to spend $200 or
$300 here and there to get an office suite).
still big and the issues I had with Microsoft Solaris admins had too.
So I wasn't alone in my dislike of Microsoft.
Well, in the
2000s, a lot changed. The dot-com bubble burst and I no longer worked
in the tech industry. Solaris basically died, with I got a degree in
computational Linguistics and moved to Mexico to discover myself.
Netscape was killed by Microsoft's monopolistic practices;
by 2002 everyone was using Internet Explorer. Windows XP came out in
2002 and the instability problems that always plagued Windows 95 were
once and for all resolved by having people use a version of Microsoft's
server-class code on the desktop.
Linux, however, did not
improve their desktop experience.
In the mid-1990s, the big
distro to use was Slackware; in 1997 I went from Slackware to RedHat
because it was easier to apply security patches in RedHat. RedHat was
the dominant distro to use when the dot-com bubble burst in 2001.
RedHat never made a serious effort to make Linux a desktop
OS; their bread and butter was selling servers.
RedHat realized they couldn't sustain their business model giving their
flagship product away, so they did the RHEL/Fedora core split. I used
Fedora core for a while, then moved from Fedora Core to CentOS when this
free RHEL clone became available.
To fill the vacuum for a
desktop-oriented Linux, their was first Mandrake (originally a fork of
RedHat 5) then later on, Mark Shuttleworth made a few billion dollars and
decided to fund his own free Desktop Linux, Ubuntu.
of fragmentation in Linux (the eternal KDE-vs-Gnome battle), desktop
development was divided between two different desktop projects (more if
you count things like XFCE and Blackbox). Free software developers are
more interested in "scratching their own itch" than in adding features
that don't benefit themselves but benefit users of the software; this
makes it more difficult to motivate people to help with end-user Desktop
Linux, simply put, did not have a usable end-user
desktop when Windows XP came out in 2002. Microsoft won the race:
Microsoft was able to make their high-quality desktop use server-class
code for the underlying operating system before Linux could make their
server-class operating system an end-user desktop.
does not have a usable end-user desktop today. Issues that don't matter
when making a *NIX server matter a lot when making a desktop computer.
It matters on the desktop that the underlying libraries and kernel
change so much it's hard to make a binary-only desktop program that will
continue to work for the foreseeable future. It matters on the desktop
that binary-only drivers are not welcome, and that the kernel developers
go out of their way to not allow these kinds of drivers.
have looked at Linux for years, and have been using Linux since 1995,
and as my only real desktop OS from 1995 until 2003. It hasn't changed.
It's always been fragmented with strange bugs and a lack of discipline to
give users the things they expect a desktop desktop to have. I thought
in 2000 we would have the year of the Linux desktop. I realize, in 2009,
that we're never going to have the year of the Linux desktop.
Firefox shows that people can make open-source professional-quality
desktop software that people will use. About 30% of people surf the
internet using Firefox and it didn't come out until 2004 or so. 1%,
maybe 2% of people surf the internet using Linux, even though Linux has
been around since 1991. In little over four years, Firefox was able
to get desktop adoption Linux can only dream of.
that Linux is too fragmented to do the same thing. Ubuntu's instability
(because they have to use unstable versions of software to support new
hardware) is on par with Windows 3.11. I'm glad that Linux has become a
viable server OS; I'm sad that Linux will never become a viable desktop
 I didn't use Windows 95 very much
back then; Linux was my primary desktop OS and Windows 95 was on my old
486 so I could keep my skills up to date.