How to Misunderstand Sun's Linux Desktop Strategy


News: How to Misunderstand Sun's Linux Desktop Strategy

  1. The author of this article, Tom Adelstein, articulates in unique detail the importance of Sun's JDS more effectively than Sun itself has done. And he explains within the context of dot-Net and its limitations how the scope of JDS extends beyond the GNU/Linux community's parochial horizons.

    Tom Adelstein
    December 18, 2003

    With the recent surge in Linux acceptance, many organizations have started looking for consultants to help identify Open Source Software opportunities in their IT departments. At the academic and local government level, the most active area of interest has moved from Linux in the server and networking space to web services, the desktop and office productivity. Organizations with serious budget concerns have delved into the economies of the Linux desktop and Open Office and many have liked what they have found.

    The increase in Linux acceptance has not satisfied some concerns within the Information Technology sector. Other consultants, hardware manufacturers and customers have expressed frustration to me regarding how to interface with Open Source Software projects. As a member of the Open Source Software Institute one of my objectives includes helping facilitate opportunities among commercial organizations and Open Source communities. In the process of working with various projects and communities, I have discovered valuable information to relate to you first hand.

    For example, I have discovered that cities have serious I.T. infrastrucure problems at the network and user levels. New hardware technology and software systems hold a promise of significantly improving service delivery to citizens by local governments. Rarely does a community have the financial resources to exploit that potential. Most cities have become a patchwork of technology with legacy hardware, software and specialized systems existing alongside partly completed networks of enterprise resource programs and old mainframes.

    While many of us think of Microsoft Windows and Office as a de facto standard, interoperability in many cities falls below 65%. Newer purchases of equipment make their way to department heads while their old systems get passed down to people who pass their PC's down again. I frequently find computers running Windows 3.11 with Office 4.2 running on old 386 computers, Windows 95 with Office 95 and 97 and Windows 98 with Office 2000 on Pentium I computers in city governments. When a department head emails a Word XP document around to subordinates, many cannot open the document.

    Quietly, many system administrators have started installing Open Office on computers to help increase interoperability within the infrastructure. In communities where Open Office provides the answer, few department heads and CIOs know or care about this solution. Yet, interoperability increases from 65% to 95% by adding Open Office.

    While enterprising administrators create skunkwork projects to help solve the serious problems in aging infrastructures, some of those same administrators voice fear for their jobs. In Texas, for example, the Department of Information Resources has supported the use of Open Source software and provides a portal for sharing code among agencies. At the same time, people write me saying their bosses have threatened them if they ever use Open Source Software again.

    Threaded Messages (22)

  2. Mmmm Sun, schhmmmm[ Go to top ]

    Sun, our saviour...
  3. It is rather disappointing when TheServerSide has to publish uninformed opinion pieces on the .NET Framework. The author clearly fails to understand much of anything in regards to .NET and C#. He states:
    James Gosling, Java's founder, says Microsoft added a number of features that are "outright stupid."

    Huh??? Do you care to back that statement up with anything? No, he just goes on to show how deep his ignorance can go. He drops into a discussion that seems to deal with .NET's unmanaged code support. There is just no content here... you shouldn't make such statements if you don't have the facts and knowledge to back them up. How does C# let programmers write error-prone code? Am I missing something or does Java have a magic property that protects a programmer from error-prone code? I can tell you I have seen plenty of bad code in both languages. A language does not make a programmer... an understanding of the underlying practices and attention-to-detail are what make a good programmer.

    I just don't even understand why the writer even delves into the J2EE vs .NET debate. He is writing about the JDS... that has nothing to do with Java. It is all about trying to create a competing platform. If JDS succeeds it will definitely help out Java and J2EE, but just because Sun put Java in the name does not mean Java/J2EE has anything to do with the product.

    All I ask is that if a Java zealot wants to talk about .NET that he/she at least spends the time to know the other technology. Don't just take James Gosling's words and don't throw out shallow untruths.
  4. Pathetic display of ignorance on the part of Tom Adelstein concerning the .Net framework.
  5. I believe what Gosling was refering to here is Microsoft's allowance of pointers in the C# language. Therefore, yes C# is allowing for error-prone (unsafe) code.

    Just my thought on what Gosling is refering to here.
  6. Some people just don't like Open Source[ Go to top ]

    Low cost does not make open source software preferrable in some companies, at least the company I worked for.

    We are using J2EE technology as a development enirovnement, but everything is running on Microsoft, including browser, app server, web server, database and so on. Several Linux zealots in the company tried to push Open Source/Linux to be a server side option, but most people, who has microsoft backaround, just did not like it, because of learning curve and most importantly, job security. They don't want to abandon something they have been familiar with, and embrace something strange. Basically they are afraid.

    Linux Desktop may provide another way for non-Linux IT people to get into Linux world. But does it have an enterprise-level migration solution for some companies which are typically Microsoft shop???

    It still has a long way to go.
  7. Some people just don't like Open Source[ Go to top ]

    Companies are not afraid.
    If they do not have the expertise in house, except for a few open source zealots which might not be able ti support an enterprise anyways, then it does not make sense to use Open Source.
  8. You are mistakenly confusing the terms OpenSource and free. Open Source implies just that ... the source is open and available. It doesn't mean that the software is free ... the authors can charge for it. It is true that the majority of OpenSource systems are indeed free, but there are some that arent.

    There are OpenSource systems (e.g JBoss) that comes with support arrangements from various organisations (JBoss Group, CDN, etc). Whether organisations have people in house who can provide expertise is not the sole factor since there are now support arrangements possible.
  9. So Poorly Written...[ Go to top ]

    It's funny that he considers himself a "journalist", yet isn't focused or impartial enough to even stay on topic in his own article (term used very loosely). This just degenerates into a tangential spleen-venting about the evils of Microsoft and why .NET/C# is so bad. Blah, blah, come original or at least pithy in the insights.

    This should probably have the title changed to "How to Misunderstand My Article Strategy". I've seen more coherent trains of thought in blogs.
  10. So Poorly Written...Agreed[ Go to top ]

    JDS - Rebranded SuSe (that happens to include a JVM) has nothing to do with .net. Truly. Bad article. Very. Bad.
  11. Another java zealot etc.[ Go to top ]

    Actually he appears to be talking about memory mangement and pointers. Which shows that Mr.Rohrbach does not understand this concept and is therefore likely to make the very mistakes posited by Mr.Adelstein. Any of you weenies out there who have never spent years fighting the problems in C should not leap to the defence of C#. It's more like c-flat, deflating programming experience and moving us down the scale.

    Why do you think Java was such an instant hit? Why did it supplant C in most universitires and tech colleges? Because millions of people who have vast years experience using all sorts of other languages saw the benefits immediately. You won't find hordes of experienced programmers moving to C#. Only those recently out of school or moving from the VB world. Experienced programmers know the defects in C and therefore at least some of the more glaring problems with C#.
  12. Another java zealot etc.[ Go to top ]

    Defects of C? Yeah, that is why pretty much every major piece of software out there is either written with c/c++. The OS that you are typing on is written in c. I guess we should start replacing all the c code in linux in favor of java.
  13. Written in C[ Go to top ]

    Yeah, yeah...and they used to be written in RPG and COBOL and PASCAL and any other number of languages. Just because there is a large code base doesn't mean times haven't moved on and better things are around now. The thrust of my comment was that C had faults, Java got rid of many of them and there is no point moving backwards to C(#).
  14. C/C++ ???[ Go to top ]

    Mackie: Defects of C? Yeah, that is why pretty much every major piece of software out there is either written with c/c++. The OS that you are typing on is written in c. I guess we should start replacing all the c code in linux in favor of java.

    I would not use the term "defects." I would say that C and C++ have serious short-comings. As for "pretty much every major piece of software," that is nonsense. Most business software running today is in COBOL, for example. Most dynamic web sites today are built in Perl, PHP, ASP or Java. Operating systems, other system software and "tight" GUI applications are still being built in C/C++ .. other than that, it has already lost its relevance.

    The interesting thing to consider is why business appliations that were being built in C/C++ in the early 90s are now being done in Java (when I say "Java", I am actually including C# I guess, since it's extremely similar.) I think the reason is that there used to be a huge gulf between C/C++ and VB/PowerBuilder that simply wasn't filled until Java filled it -- and with Java you get 90% of the power of C/C++ and 90% of the performance, but for a much lower cost. Having managed large-scale C/C++ and Java projects, I would estimate the cost savings to be at least 75%, and well over 90% if you count the cost of bugs, maintenance and downtime. So why would anyone choose to build new non-system software in C/C++?

    I think Microsoft's biggest failing in .NET was allowing VB to become an ugly step-child. VB6 was such an effective tool for building a certain class of Windows applications, and VB.NET is nowhere near as effective. (Microsoft realized this a year or two too late and is working to rectify it, but in the meantime they've lost a huge portion of their VB developer base.)

    My $.02.


    Cameron Purdy
    Tangosol, Inc.
    Coherence: Clustered JCache for Grid Computing!
  15. C/C++ ???[ Go to top ]

    "but in the meantime they've lost a huge portion of their VB developer base.)"

    Really, I wonder was the replacement language (tool) then, Java?
  16. C/C++ ???[ Go to top ]

    Really, I wonder was the replacement language (tool) then, Java?

    Some. And some that moved to Java are going back to VB.NET now. I've spoken with a few people that really liked VB but went to Java because it was the thing to do, but have since gone back to VB.NET because it is closer to what they need.

    Look, for msWindows and msOffice integration, it is hard to beat .Net. Use it if those are your driving requirements. I think Java is an excellent "default" choice, but every platform and lang has its own strengths (and weaknesses.)


    Cameron Purdy
    Tangosol, Inc.
    Coherence: Clustered JCache for Grid Computing!
  17. Re: C/C++ ???[ Go to top ]

    Defects of C? Yeah, that is why pretty much every major piece of software out there is either written with c/c++.
    We now have a full Web services stack implemented in C - Apache Axis2/C, leveraring the power of C. The fact that it is written in C, enables Axis2/C to be embedded into pretty much every major piece of software written in C.
  18. Apparently, Mr Fiddler doesn't understand much about C#. Memory management is only necessary when you will be dealing with unmanaged code. If you remain in the managed code world you have the same garbage collection features that Java offers.

    But I guess Mr Fiddler has about the same level of expertise as the author of this abominable article. Mr Fiddler's arguments lack any details just as the author's arguments. Maybe you can both continue to play your Java zealot fiddles and never bother to actually understand the facts.
  19. Well lets just say M$ are notorious for bug ridden software and hiding these defects until they are forced to acknowledge them. Why is ".NOT" any different, especially as most of it is still vapourware? Do you think a proprietary language can compete with a language that has a huge base of academic and practical researchers and users that nit-pick at every tiny defect (and get them fixed)? Not a chance. Go ahead and live with your bugs for the next ten years while M$ move on to their "next great thing". And before you say Java is not open source and is proprietary too, it's as close as it can be in a world that contains M$. If it became OSS then M$ would do their usual and fill a version full of proprietary code and bugs and screw the language. As it happens they've done that with C# and the only reason it gets used is because it has a front end that dork programmers can use to build systems as they did with VB. The thought of legions of ex-Vb programmers building corporate systems with a language akin to C should fill the corporate boardrooms with terror.
  20. not much validity...[ Go to top ]

    Just wanted to comment on this point that the article makes: "With all of their Lotus applications neatly running on their own UNIX products, they won't let you have them on Linux."

    Lotus's server software have also been ported to linux. They have always supported AIX, Solaris along with Linux.

    For proof go to:
  21. Re: "C# has a disadvantage of letting programmers write error-prone code, with the potential to wreak havoc with a program's address space. You have to tag the code as "unsafe." One might consider such tags like a restaurant sign that says, "We failed a health inspection last month.""

    Unsafe contexts are a neat C# language feature -- how about the following equally silly analogy -- One might consider such tags like a restaurant sign that says, "If you are a chef you are cordially invited to use our kitchen and facilities to cook a great meal."
  22. Unsafe contexts are a neat C# language feature

    Neat features rarely make for neat code. :-) C is full of neat features (

    >> "If you are a chef you are cordially invited
    >> to use our kitchen and facilities to cook a great meal."

    It's called "unsafe" for a reason. It's not called "advanced", or "neat" or "chef". It's unsafe. So they might as well have just called it "rotten". Probably even the greatest chefs cannot make a quality meal with rotten ingredients (and even if they could, would you eat it?).

    Cheers. :-)
  23. Java JNI = C# Unsafe[ Go to top ]

    Just to set the records straight,

    Java JNI allows you run C code including pointers.

    Same for C#, is just more painless.

    You can specify not to load unsafe code in your
    security policy of the machine.

    This point is very worthless to debate about...