Lennart Poettering: BSD Isn't Relevant Anymore

Polytropon freebsd at edvax.de
Mon Jul 18 20:50:26 UTC 2011

On Mon, 18 Jul 2011 16:22:45 -0400, Jerry wrote:
> On Mon, 18 Jul 2011 14:44:15 -0500
> Gary Gatten articulated:
> > <snip>
> > 
> > I've always been curious why "Linux" seemed to take off so fast when
> > other FOSS / non Winblow$ OS's were available for some time with not
> > much traction; OS/2, BeOS, *nix with X11, etc.
> > 
> > Not just on the desktop, but servers as well.  "Supported" versions
> > of Linux such as RHEL, Suse, etc. seem to have made more headway into
> > the enterprise computing environment in the last ten years than *BSD
> > did in the last 30.

I've waited for your answer, it's very interesting,
and in my opinion it shows where you're wrong. Allow
me to illustrate my assumption.

> I think the explanation is rather simple, "Give the user what he wants,
> not what you think he wants."

It's even better if you can "teach" users what they
want, or make them believe that what you're delivering
_is_ what they want.

A friend once told me: The art in sales is _not_ to
sell the customer what he wants, but what he _needs_,
and do this in a way that he finally says: Hey, that's
exactly what I wanted.

> You are never going to satisfy every
> conceivable user, so concentrate on the core users.

This is fully correct.

> Microsoft has done
> that extremely well. On the latest Windows 7, getting wireless up and
> running is the most effortless thing I have done in awhile. Windows
> does everything but fill in the password. On FreeBSD, well lets just
> say if that even if they had a driver for the wireless card I have
> installed, getting it up and running would be another matter. Correct
> me if I am wrong, but even "network manager" is not available on
> FreeBSD is it? I have not checked in awhile. I know that there are some
> programs listed, but none of them work as seamlessly as Microsoft's.

Again, fully agree, but also it's not important for me,
luckily. :-)

> It
> is a basic truism in any business that in order to beat your rival, you
> have to produce a better product or one that costs less and
> still maintains the same basic usability.

It's not about creating the product, it's about _selling_
it, as creating (research development, testing and so on)
does _cost_ money, while only selling it _brings_ money.
It's just about how good you get your investitions going.

> Simply creating a free product
> that is not as usable is not enough.

Even if it's a proprietary product, your statement is
true, just see what has happened to OS/2 or BeOS.

> If you cannot accomplish that,
> then at least try to create the illusion of it. FreeBSD has failed at
> the goal also.

Not delivering an illusion, even for free, and instead
keeping up truth is not that bad. Better say: "No, this
product isn't compatible" or "Support is there, but you
have to do it manually" is a honest statement at last.

> OS/2 was IBM's fault from the beginning. They insisted that it be tied
> to the 286 processor.

I think OS/2 was present up to the Pentium lines of processors,
still being compatible with the basic x86 architectures.
On one hand, OS/2 did perform quite well, and even ran
DOS and "Windows" program in "almost real parallel" which
"WIndows" never got working. On the other hand, many
applications required by users were not present, and
the GUI was, compared to "Windows '95", quite "old looking".

Sometimes within the 90's, OS/2 even came preinstalled
on PCs, just as "Windows" comes today. IBM was always
famous for their "funny price tags", so OS/2 was very
quickly considered "too expensive".

> As with any product, first impressions are
> crucial. Their first one failed.

Even though the first impression is not a judged statement
born out of properly using educated thinking and concluding,
it's the most _important_ for further decisions.

> Unfortunately, so many FOSS pundits
> have not learned this simple lesson.

Sadly, I can even confirm this, by the example of KDE,
which I _thought_ I had installed in the German language
variant. Still, there were too many english error messages
and programs that didn't obey the language setting, and
many software was that sloppily translated that it was a
pain to use that. In this regards, Gnome seemed to be much
more quality.

In the FOSS development, from time to time you can encounter
programs that exactly match your statement. They are of such
a bad quality (both in implementation and in use) that you
will very quickly stop using them - and move on. Luckily,
nearly no program is free of alternatives. You just have to
invest the time (and therefor sometimes the money) to find
out what works for you. Or you rely on advertising telling
you, often resulting in a scary nightmare - the thing that
happens when you recognize that you've been fooled, like:
"What? No support? You mean I have to buy a new PC _and_
a new printer? I just bought _that_ stuff for 2000$, and
you tell me it's already useless?" (I've seen similar
situations in business contexts many times.)

> From Wikipedia:
> OS/2 1.x targeted the 80286 processor: IBM insisted on supporting the
> Intel 80286 processor, with its 16-bit segmented memory mode, due to
> commitments made to customers who had purchased many 80286-based PS/2's
> because of IBM's promises surrounding OS/2.[16] Until release 2.0 in
> April 1992, OS/2 ran in 16-bit protected mode and therefore could not
> benefit from the Intel 80386's much simpler 32-bit flat memory model
> and virtual 8086 mode features. This was especially painful in
> providing support for DOS applications. While, in 1988, Windows/386 2.1
> could run several cooperatively multitasked DOS applications, including
> expanded memory (EMS) emulation, OS/2 1.3, released in 1991, was still
> limited to one 640KB "DOS box".

But read further until OS/2 Warp. This was the last half-way
important release.

Magdeburg, Germany
Happy FreeBSD user since 4.0
Andra moi ennepe, Mousa, ...

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