2007 Begins with a Bang

Wow: has there ever been a month in computing like this one? A January distinguished by not one major announcement, not two, but four significant events that will surely go down as milestones in the history of technology.

First, and probably most importantly for readers of this blog, Linden Lab announced that it was releasing the code of its Second Life client under the GNU GPLv2. I've written before about why Second Life is important, and why, therefore, it matters that the open source world participate in this revolution on equal terms with proprietary platforms.

My prayers have been granted, it seems: for not only is Linden Lab releasing the client-side code, but it is committed to releasing the server-side stuff too. Although some have remained sceptical that this will ever happen, Linden Lab's CTO, Cory Ondrejka, told me last week that the company will be making an announcement sometime this quarter about its roadmap for open-sourcing the rest of its code, and what this implies for the underlying architecture.

Meanwhile, you can keep yourself occupied by playing with the viewer, joining the SLDev mailing list, reporting bugs and even earning bounties for them. But hurry up: some people have already started - within 24 hours of the code being available, Linden Lab had accepted a patch from an external contributor.

The second major announcement was Apple's iPhone – or whatever it ends up being called. For Mac fanboys (and fangirls), its unveiling was a life-changing experience, as are all of St. Steve's revelations. But even for those of us immune to the JRDF (Jobs Reality Distortion Field), it would be hard to miss the significance of the fact that “Apple Computer

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fntslqqi

Anonymous's picture

We think this is an

Home Refurbish Course's picture

We think this is an inspiring article.

Thanks for the article

free bonus money's picture

Thanks for the article - very informative. I haven't been into world of warcraft so far, but after this, I might check it out again.

The really horrendous thing

Anonymous's picture

The really horrendous thing is I will have to buy a stupid copy of Vista, learn it inside and out, so others will trust my words when it comes to converting them to Ubuntu desktops and open apps. Kind of you got to talk their talk first.

The server side of things is much easer argument since most IT staff have been exposed to other OSs anyway. This is why Linux competes here.

I was upset about Vista too...

Money's picture

I had to buy Vista on my new desktop too... At first I was really irritated by it - but at this point it's "all good." I quite like it in a lot of ways. It was a pain in the butt switching over as far as my programs and stuff... but really compared to past switches it wasn't so bad.

I have stayed with Windows

Anonymous's picture

I have stayed with Windows just for one reason. The user friendly environment it provied. Several times I tried installing linux and almost always failed. I then tried to get a hands on course for linux but in my city they were limited and I did not get a good option. One reason why I read Linux Journal is for the hope that someday I will move to linux 100%. There is so much happening and I am left behind.

Not convinced

Anonymous's picture

I doubt very much that any of these events will have any impact whatsoever on anyone apart from the teenager crowd.

article: 2--7 begins with a Bang

Wendell Anderson's picture

Your comments about Microsoft Vista do not reflect reality. Even if Vista is considered "unexciting" by Mossberg, and deemed a "failure" by yourself, it will still be installed and used by "tens, possibly hundreds of millions" of computer users worldwide.

That is the only success that Microsoft would or should want.

The real failure is that of the hundreds of millions of computer users, particularly businesses and consumers here in the USA (and to a lesser degree internationally) who do not have the sensibilities, courage, business intellect or financial prudence to use alternative (but interoperable and significantly less costly) and superior technology to the poor quality, poor security, unreliability of Microsoft software.

Many people have indicated to me that it is inevitable and certain that they will continue with Microsoft for (at least) two reasons.
1.
Microsoft is the largest software company in the "world" and is American, and
2.
Bill Gates, as head of Microsoft, is "world's" richest person, and an American.

Nothing like feeling that only American is the "best in the World"

Bill Gates is not the richest man in the world anymore

Definitely Maybe's picture

And it's not an American either... Carlos Slim Helu of Mexico is now the richest man in the world!

What about the developers?

Glyn Moody's picture

You're right, Vista will sell - many copies. But I think there's a deeper malaise. Take a look at Microsoft's share price: basically, it hasn't gone anywhere in seven years. So, what? you may say.

Well, the Microsoft model was to pay relatively modest wages to its coders, and to motivate them with options: this assumes that the share price is going to keep on rising. It isn't, so stock options aren't the big motivator for cool coders.

What's left? How about enjoying your work? How about working on great code that earns the respect of your peers? Now consider Mossberg's comments (and those of many people). Vista is not exciting, it is not something that will earn the respect of your peers. Why not go and start some cute little Web 2.0 startup instead? Using free software, of course, to keep the costs down.

And so the net effect will be that Microsoft rots from within, bereft of the great programmers it once had, who leave either for other companies paying more, or for startups, and may be using open source.

Microsoft won't disappear overnight, of course, or even over the next ten years, but it will have lost its vitality. It will be selling its software purely on momentum, with a graph that's heading one way only: down. That's why "unexciting" matters.

Really

Strategy Games's picture

>>> Microsoft won't disappear overnight, of course, or even over the next ten years, but it will have lost its vitality. It will be selling its software purely on momentum, with a graph that's heading one way only: down. That's why "unexciting" matters.

Who knows? Companies can and do disappear overnight - Remember Enron?

I don't understand

Albert88's picture

Apple is very - very good for making marketing buzz.
Now, what about the iPhone ? It is a 2G phone made by a taiwanese company, not an innovative product. The most recent phones (3G) technology is not available to Apple. New MMI ? Mmmm. Look at the N800 Linux tablet, which has bluetooth and WiFi, which is used with a normal phone (trough bluetooth). http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7493888955192698766&q=CES+2007
It has finger navigation too. And it can see when you use a finger or a stylus and changes the menu size accordingly. This product is available right now, not in 6 months.
Another point : the N800 is based on Linux and has a very active community around it (www.maemo.org) with many GTK applications ported on it.
The impressive N800 is actually BETTER than the iPhone.
Keep your basic bluetooth phone in your pocket and use the N800 to do computing !
I have a N770, the old version, which is not very impressive, but the N800 looks like a giant step forward.

Windows Vista a failure?

ghent's picture

With the WCF, WWF, WPF and CardSpace as the four pillars of innovation, and backward compatibility to boot, how could you say it is a failure? BC in itself is a hugh feat. The only thing lacking is 3D desktops of XGL.

None of these have anything

Anonymous's picture

None of these have anything to do with Linux or free-software, except for the first item which is the release of a game under the GNU GPL. I doubt that is a milestone. The others?

* A proprietary cell phone that has nothing to do with linux.
Plenty of companies have released cell phones that can perform computing tasks. Microsoft has released an operating system for mobile devices over five years ago. There's also been mobile devices running some form of Linux for several years. So another company jumps on the bandwagon. So what? That's catching up to the market before they are left behind, not a milestone.

* An add-on for a proprietary game.
A video game, that is only released for Mac and PC. There are thousands of video games released each year. This isn't a milestone. It doesn't even work on Linux! What is this doing in "Linux Journal"?

* A proprietary operating system that has nothing to do with linux.
A quote from a news article about a proprietary operating system is not a milestone. Maybe when the software is released, that /might/ be a milestone, but a news article is not. To top it off, the quote is speculation, not fact. No one knows what's going to happen with Vista and no one will know until it happens. It might be wildly successful, or it might be a flop. Again, NOTHING here that has to do with Linux. Why is this in "Linux Journal"?

Many of these have a lot

Anonymous's picture

Straight to the point:
1. Proprietary cell phones SHOULD be able to connect to linux. As a matter of fact, many do.
2. As you should be aware, WoW runs on linux.
3. Windows has nothing to do with linux? Ok then, samba developers shouldn't exist.

But maybe you missed the point: the idea is that in the technologic revolution (this one we're still living) some players stay ahead of time, while others cling to old market models. Linux belongs to the first category, together with Linden Labs and Apple (at least partly). Microsoft, on the other half, remains to the second. IMO, this is a great motive to write an article; considering the RELATIONS created, not just clinging to "we're on linux journal, so we want to know only linux stuff". This IS linux stuff. Linux is everywhere. And it's not that the article talks about the evolution of toilet paper; although I'm pretty sure I could find some industry that uses linux to power its machines for toilet paper manufacturing.
That said, isn't it linux to talk things besides linux?

> 1. Proprietary cell phones

Anonymous's picture

> 1. Proprietary cell phones SHOULD be able to connect to linux. As a matter of fact, many do.

So what's your point? If the IPhone connects to Linux, it's the same as many other phones like you say. If it doesn't, it's yet another thing Linux can't talk to. Does that make it a milestone in computing history? Not at all. Glyn Moody says:

As it starts re-inventing itself as a kind of digital generalist, Apple shows the rest of the industry that computing now has bled so deeply into so many other areas of life – notably entertainment and mobile communications – that it makes no sense to maintain rigid boundaries between them.

Replace Apple with Sony and it's still true. Companies make business plan changes all of the time and computer companies are no exception. They realize that they have to expand beyond their core business to continue to grow. This isn't news nor is it notable. It's also years late. Apple first started making the move to digital generalist when it released the IPod.

> 2. As you should be aware, WoW runs on linux.

From http://www.blizzard.com/wow/faq/faq_tech.shtml:

For what platforms will the game be available?
The game will be available on PCs and the Macs. We are developing both versions simultaneously and will be shipping them at the same time, as with our other recent games.

I don't see Linux listed there. Just because you can cobble together WINE and some libraries doesn't mean that Linux is an officially supported platform for World of Warcraft. I can run Photoshop on Linux too, that doesn't mean we should announce the next release of Photoshop as a milestone either.

If a milestone was set it was when the first MMORPGs, such as Neverwinter Nights, Ultima Online, or Everquest, were released. World of Warcraft is just an incremental improvement.

> 3. Windows has nothing to do with linux?

Correct.

> Ok then, samba developers shouldn't exist.

Your words, not mine. Samba allows UNIX-like machines to participate in file sharing on Microsoft's terms. There's nothing stopping you from mounting an NFS share on a Windows box and participate in file sharing on Linux's terms.

Neither Windows computers nor Linux computers are in any way dependent on the other. I can and do run Linux independently of Windows. My Linux machines require no part of Windows to function. Many people can and do run Windows without depending on Linux. Software exists, such as Samba, to help them communicate when the need arises, but that doesn't establish a general relation or dependency.

Also, my point on this item was that some guy at a newspaper expresses his general opinion about the future of Vista. Big deal. He says it will be a flop. It could be successful. He has a 50% chance of being right. But the product hasn't even been released. Why should we care what he thinks? Can he see into the future? Of course not. I can find other such opinions on the success or failure of Vista on nearly any blog. Big deal. The source is not credible because he can't predict what will happen. It's therefore meaningless and probably only served to meet a minimum word-count for the article.

Some guy?

Glyn Moody's picture

The point about Mossberg is that he is not "some guy". He is generally regarded as the most powerful journalist writing about computing.

This means that it doesn't really matter whether he's objectively right or wrong: his power is such that merely expressing his opinion on a subject will influence thousands of people in their thinking.

So if he says Vista is unexciting, it *is* unexciting for the many people who look to him for advice. So Microsoft has already failed with Vista in the sense that they have failed to convince Mossberg, and this will have serious knock-on consequences.

A question of context

Glyn Moody's picture

The days when GNU/Linux can be considered in isolation are long gone: it's a part - by now an important part - of a much bigger picture. To understand free software, we need to look at the bigger picture, particularly in terms of planning for the future. Tweaking the kernel isn't enough.

As for Second Life being a game, well, I beg to differ, and I think quite a lot of residents would agree. Second Life, the iPhone and World of Warcraft are all about the disappearance of computing as we've known it - as free software has known it - as it spreads out into the world.

If free software is to continue to thrive in that world, it needs to consider these trends: specifically, the convergence of virtual worlds with the Web; the rise of general purpose mobile computing devices; and the emergence of massively multiplayer, online immersive games as a force that will soon surpass that of Hollywood (though the latter is starting to move into this new field).

And as for Vista, well, the point of including its release at the end of this month in this list is to underline that it is *not* a real milestone in the same way that the others are, despite what Microsoft would have us believe; but perhaps my irony was too subtle...

Milestone, Schmilestone

Jeff Rollin's picture

"And as for Vista, well, the point of including its release at the end of this month in this list is to underline that it is *not* a real milestone in the same way that the others are, despite what Microsoft would have us believe; but perhaps my irony was too subtle... "

Well, I would argue that it IS a milestone, for exactly that reason: For close to three decades, personal computer users have clung to Microsoft like bats, hanging on every word, eager to see what the next new version of DOS and/or Windows has brought to the table. Of course, there are those of us who know that their so-called innovations have been nothing but ripoffs; that Windows95 brought to the table what Mac and Unix and Amiga users had had for years, whilst Microsoft happily assisted Commodore in killing the latter platform off; and that their implementation of said "cool features" and "innovations" was, as often as not (or maybe even, MORE often than not), half-baked.

The milestone, is that this is beginning to filter through to the mainstream public.

Nice month to have a birthday in!

We're agreeing, no?

Glyn Moody's picture

I did say "not a real milestone in the same way": in others words, it's a milestone in the sense you mention, but not in the same way the others I mention may be.

the iPhone (is) all about the disappearance of FOSS computing?

JesseWelling's picture

I see the point you are trying to make with the iphone.
I think the closed iphone doesn't have much to do with FOSS
though. Not as much a Openmoko does in any case.
Completely open except for the small bits of firmware.
THAT is FOSS as we know it come to roost in this new
realm of vanishing barriers. You want more proof?
Gumstix. Wakamaru. Motorola Linux Phones. OLPC.
Studio Ubuntu. All are breaking barriers.

As I've said

Glyn Moody's picture

It's a question of context. Obviously, the OpenMoko project is of more direct interest to the free software world, but for the former to succeed it needs to take account of what's happening in the non-free mobile phone sector. And there, iPhone is an important straw in the wind. It shows the kind of thing that free software should be thinking about if it wants to win over consumers.

the iPhone (is) all about the disappearance of FOSS computing?

JesseWelling's picture

I see the point you are trying to make with the iphone.
I think the closed iphone doesn't have much to do with FOSS
though. Not as much a Openmoko does in any case.
Completely open except for the small bits of firmware.
THAT is FOSS as we know it come to roost in this new
realm of vanishing barriers. You want more proof?
Gumstix. Wakamaru. Motorola Linux Phones. OLPC.
Studio Ubuntu. All are breaking barriers.

> If free software is to

Anonymous's picture

> If free software is to continue to thrive in that world, it needs to
> consider these trends: specifically, the convergence of virtual
> worlds with the Web

What convergence? Are people logging into World of Warcraft so they can walk their character to the local Amazon.com store and buy a book, instead of just pointing their browser to Amazon.com? I don't use these types of programs so that's a serious question.

My opinion is meaningless because I can't predict the future either, but I think virtual worlds won't be any more successful than virtual reality. It'll make for fun entertainment and might have some educational uses but that's about it. I don't think people will want to navigate an avatar through a virtual maze to accomplish something productive.

> And as for Vista, well, the point of including its release at the
> end of this month in this list is to underline that it is *not* a
> real milestone in the same way that the others are, despite what
> Microsoft would have us believe; but perhaps my irony was
> too subtle..

Ahh. Point taken. I guess we will see what happens by the end of the year.

Amazon

Glyn Moody's picture

Amazon is an interesting case. I'm not aware of anything happening in WoW, but there's lots happening in Second Life in this respect. Here's an interview with Jeff Barr, Web Services Evangelist at Amazon.com, that has lots of information about what's happening in this area.

inflexibility and service contracts

Carla's picture

"computing now has bled so deeply into so many other areas of life – notably entertainment and mobile communications – that it makes no sense to maintain rigid boundaries between them." Quite right.

I thought this was interesting:
"10 Ways The Nokia N800 Is Better Than Apple’s iPhone"
http://www.starryhope.com/tech/apple/2007/10-ways-the-nokia-n800-is-bett...

Of course iPhone has the buzz, the stylishness, the cool factor. The main reasons I quit using cell phones was they are too darned expensive, the service costs too much, and getting tied into service contracts sucks. Do we have portability or upgradeable/transferable phones yet? How many phones have you thrown away because you moved or changed providers? Are customers really dim enough to pay for ringtones and wallpapers?

Don't mind me, I'm going to dial my genuine black dial phone now...

I agree

Glyn Moody's picture

I certainly won't be waiting outside the Apple store to buy an iPhone this summer. But a product can be important despite its manifest flaws - not least for what it says the company is trying to do.

Petty details

Joe Klemmer's picture

I'm not going to be buying an iPhone anytime this year. However, I want one very much. There's a strong probability that the prices of the phone will drop significantly. When the next version comes out I figure the first version will be cut priced down to where I might be able to afford it. The only significant negative I've heard about the iPhone is it's lack of GPS. Well, I have no use for GPS. I always know where I am; Planet Earth, Northern Hemisphere, North America, United States, Eastern Seaboard. Anything more specific than that is of small importance.

--
Indie Game Dev and Linux User
Contact Info: http://about.me/joeklemmer
"Running Linux since 1991"

Petty details

Anonymous's picture

* The only significant negative I've heard about the iPhone is it's lack of GPS.

There are plenty more really major negatives about it. Read

"10 Ways The Nokia N800 Is Better Than Apple’s iPhone"
http://www.starryhope.com/tech/apple/2007/10-ways-the-nokia-n800-is-bett...

for a few examples.

Very interesting article for the Linux Journal to post...

Dave's picture

Does WOW or SL run on Linux? What about M$'s Vista? I suppose the iPhone does have something to do with Linux considering it's underlying kernel. Other than this and the fact that Vista will ultimately be M$s last straw I was perplexed by the article. So much so I wrote my own article at: http://seobm.blogspot.com/2007/01/apples-iphone-whats-it-good-for.html

See above

Glyn Moody's picture

Please see my answer "A question of context" above for why I think it's relevant.

WoW

Nicholas Petreley's picture

I gave up on World of Warcraft many months ago due to lack of time, but when Burning Crusade came out I got it and played it a bit with my kids and with a friend of mine. Blizzard did a great job of making the game fun, and the expansion is worth the money. It very playable under Linux with Transgaming's Cedega, but it works better if you use Windows. I have a wide screen monitor and the full resolution isn't supported in Cedega (or if it is, I haven't taken the time to figure out the settings to make it work).

If you're new to the game and don't have much time to play, I suggest you make a hunter or warlock. The hunter is especially easy to level up. I got a hunter from level 1 to 23 in something like 3 or 4 total hours of play time (not consecutive hours, total hours). The warlock is harder to level up but warlocks rule in battlegrounds. You just hit the enemy with a few damage-over-time spells, fear them (make them run aimlessly) and they die without you ever having to take a hit. Best of all (and worst of all for the victim if you're not the warlock), the damage-over-time spells keep doing damage even if the warlock dies. Personally, I think Blizzard should change that, but it's just a game.

Thanks

Glyn Moody's picture

For the tips....

Update on WoW playage

Nicholas Petreley's picture

Moonrunner got too crowded and Blizzard offered free character transfers to reduce the population, so I moved all my characters (and the characters on my kids' accounts) from Moonrunner to Arathor. So if anyone wants to find me on WoW, those rare times I get to play will probably be on Arathor.

You're welcome

Nicholas Petreley's picture

I wish I had more time to play. I really enjoy the game. About a year ago, my daughter and I used to team up in battlegrounds with our level 19 priests, and we were unbeatable at protecting the flag carrier. She lost interest and I didn't have the time. I still play sometimes late at night if I can't sleep. If you or anyone has a toon on the Moonrunner or Misha servers let me know, and we can partay sometime.

newbie

Anonymous's picture

hi! i'm a newbie to Worldcraft and i would like to play with u. Email me at: ghent at k.st

ghent

i am play right now

linux news dude's picture

so cool, I am newbie too, but Worldcraft takes me too much time, time better spent doing more interesting working, reading linuxjournal :)

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