2003-12-30 (Tuesday)

by havoc

Having trouble updating this page lately; way too much going
on, and the holidays combined with my trip to linux.conf.au are enforcing enough
downtime to make the uptime even more frantic.

Tonight’s Daily Show rerun had clips from MSNBC where they had
constructed a model of Saddam Hussein’s hole from plywood. The MSNBC
anchor climbed inside it to demonstrate… how to lie in a hole? Some
things can’t be explained, even by Jon Stewart.

I loved Lost in Translation.

Ramble for the New Year

Are we at some
critical point
where Microsoft starts to lose big? I don’t agree
with many of the specific comments/rationales in that article, it is
the Inquirer after all. But coming into 2004, I do share a sense that
a corner is being turned, in part because Linux is moving beyond the
server, where UNIX was historically strong. The Linux desktop is
finally gathering real momentum.

If you count questionable
flamewars
I’ve been following the Linux desktop daily since at
least 1997. At some point in there I started writing
some awful code
and later on learned what I was doing, thanks to
copious cluebat from people such as Owen and Darin and Jon Trowbridge
and the many others who taught me to write software.

When I got involved I had no idea it would be six years of my
life before things really started to heat up. Matthias Ettrich started
KDE a year before I was even involved
, and I faintly remember the
early GIMP
and GTK+
. Can you believe it’s been so long? Many people have been
working far longer
, of course.

I feel exhausted sometimes; but everything up to now has been
small! We’ve achieved perhaps 1% desktop marketshare, and the
resources and effort around the Linux server have dwarfed what we have
for the desktop. In the big picture we’ve barely gotten started.
Joel says good
software takes ten years
.

The hardest and longest work is only beginning. No matter how delayed
it turns out to be, Longhorn will be here before we know it. Most of
the code we need to write hasn’t been written, and even as we face the
technical challenges we’ll have the organizational task of scaling the
community to accomodate many more users and developers.

Will Longhorn mean we move from HTML to XAML,
or will as many people move to Linux as move to Longhorn? How will C#
play out vs. Java? How will multimedia and DRM fit in? Will Microsoft
have to change course on open source as it did with respect to the
Internet? Will the open source movement be confined to the Linux
operating system, or as Red Hat is
hoping
be a broader phenomenon? What will happen to Apple? What
legal and political challenges will we face? When will we meet
regular, nontechnical people on the street who take Linux for granted?
Will we ever see the long-predicted move away from the general purpose
desktop OS in favor of appliances and set top boxes? When will we go
from 1% marketshare to 2%, and to 5%?

It will be many years before we know if the original dream of a
widespread free software desktop will come true — that’s the scary
part. But the exciting part is that it seems on track so far, in fact
it seems to be catching fire. And there are countless opportunities for
anyone to dive in and have a huge impact on what our desktop is like,
and whether it succeeds.

(This post was originally found at http://log.ometer.com/2003-12.html#30.2)

My Twitter account is @havocp.
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