Can We Avoid the Great Schism?
Choice is an important element of free software, so it's perhaps no surprise that even at the level of the desktop environment there is more than one offering. But the main alternatives – KDE and GNOME – represent more than just a way of placing icons on a screen. Nowhere is that more evident than in their respective views on Microsoft's OOXML document standard, which are very far apart – perhaps dangerously so.
Here's what the KDE side says:
Recently, the ISO standardisation process of OfficeOpenXML ("OOXML") has gained a lot of public attention. What are the implications of OpenXML as ISO standard next to ODF for Free Software applications?
The standardisation process of OfficeOpenXML has turned sour, not in the least because Microsoft couldn't resist the temptation to cheat. Right now we're seeing evidence of a concerted campaign at discrediting OpenDocument vis-a-vis OfficeOpen XML. That's unfortunate, to say the least.
If OfficeOpen XML becomes an ISO standard, we will, in all likely hood, still not spend time on supporting it. The standard is enormous, very complex and to a large extent so badly specified that a full implementation is probably even harder than implementing the old Microsoft binary file formats. Add to that patent encumbrances and problems with copyrighted elements -- and our conclusion is that we prefer to concentrate on making KOffice a great set of applications that are satisfying to use and satisfying to develop.
And here are the views of Miguel de Icaza, one of the key people in the GNOME world:
OOXML is a superb standard and yet, it has been FUDed so badly by its competitors that serious people believe that there is something fundamentally wrong with it. This is at a time when OOXML as a spec is in much better shape than any other spec on that space.
This has led to a rather crude characterisation of the situation as KDE on the side of the angels and GNOME on that of the devil. Whether or not you agree with that position, there is a deep historical irony that things are being framed by some in this way.
When the K Desktop Environment was first announced in October 1996, it was not greeted with the universal approval that its creator, Matthias Ettrich, had hoped for. Alongside traditionalists who thought that any kind of graphical user interface was “too Windows-like” or just downright “sissy”, there was a deeper concern over the licensing of the underlying toolkit, Trolltech's Qt, which was free as in beer to hackers, but not free as in freedom. As Ettrich told me in 2000:
Everybody joining looked at alternatives [to Qt], and we had a long discussion: Shall we go with Qt? And the result was [we decided] it's the best technical solution if we want to reach the goal that we have.
Since Trolltech refused to adopt the GNU GPL for Qt (at that point: it did later), and since the KDE project refused to drop Qt, many hackers decided that they had to start a rival desktop project that would be truly free. One of the people thinking along these lines was Miguel de Icaza, who ended up leading a global team to create a desktop environment – although that was hardly his original intention:
Initially we were hoping that the existence of the project would make [Trolltech] change their minds, but they didn't. So we just kept working and working until we actually had something to use.
That “something to use” grew into GNOME, a rich, full-featured desktop environment, just as KDE had done, until the free software world found itself with the luxury – some would say liability – of two approaches.
The details of their rivalry are not relevant here; what matters is that in the beginning GNOME was clearly perceived as the saviour of the free software movement, with de Icaza as its knight in shining armour, which is rather at odds with a current widely-held view on his place in the hacker pantheon.
The point here is not to take sides on this question, but to demonstrate the amazing and pernicious effects of Microsoft's recent engagement with the open source world. The growing tensions between the KDE and GNOME camps are just part of that: another facet is the split of companies into those who believe that intellectual monopoly deals with Microsoft are a good idea (Novell, Xandros, Turbolinux) and those who do not (Red Hat, Ubuntu, etc.).
The result is a growing schism that can only serve Microsoft's interests. Unfortunately, this is one area where we don't have a choice: we need to heal the rift. The question is, How?
Glyn Moody writes about open source at opendotdotdot.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
July 20, 2016 12:00 pm CDT
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
Join Linux Journal's Mike Diehl and Pat Cameron of Help Systems.
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With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide