Monthly Archives: March 2004

Fedora Core 2 Test 2 Released

The new release of Fedora Core Linux is available. It’s gone from three discs to four in the new release, which features the latest Linux kernel (2.6) and the interrim release of Gnome (2.5, which should be 2.6 by the time Fedora Core is released).
I’m downloading it now but I’m half afraid to install it, I’ve got my Fedora Core 1 so that almost everything works perfectly for me (there are a couple of .WMV files which won’t play but that’s about it). I know the new release needs beta testers though and I really really need to upgrade my getting started guide so it will be ready when the new release is ready so I guess I’ll install it anyway.

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The Score So Far

For those keeping score, here is the responses so far:
Lighten up – 7 votes
You’re an asshat – 2 votes
You’re both an asshat AND you need to lighten up – 2 votes
You’ve got some points – 3 votes
Yeah. So clearly I didn’t make my point well at all. I’ve got an idea for something to do that will show how I think things should be rather than just tell people. Standing up on a soapbox and shouting just attracts people who want to know why you are shouting, what makes you worthy of shouting, etc. I need to do something which cannot be mistaken for self-aggrandizement nor for a personal attack on someone.

James Gosling Comments And I Reply: Open Source Vs. What?

>Life’s to short to spend it wound up in a knot of needless fury. – James Gosling
How very true. However, as I said in the first line of my comment yesterday, I’m not mad, I’m disappointed. The other title was more of an in joke with JavaBlogs because everybody who reads it knows that a big controversial title is guaranteed to draw everybody and his dog to read what you wrote.
I think from the comments I got on the article I’ve learned something. That is, that I take Open Source (and I usually think of it with the capital O and S :) software way more seriously than a lot of other people do. I read The Cathedral and The Bazaar by Eric Raymond. I read Young’s book on the founding of Red Hat. I stopped using Windows and moved to Fedora Core Linux and then wrote a tutorial to help others get started on their move off of Windows. I’ve got a couple of open source projects far enough along that I can share the code and perhaps it will prove useful to someone. I want to write a whole hell of a lot more.
Often I take a hard look at my own work and slink away realizing that someone else has put in more time, more effort, had a better idea, or just done a better job than I did and their effort is the one which deserves to be promoted rather than mine. Informa is an excellent example of this, I did a RSS parser that is buried in the older version of HotSheet but nobody ever used it to build anything else that I know of and it is quite clear to me now that any further effort in that direction is counterproductive to both myself and others. If I do have anything to contribute to a RSS library then it should be somebody else’s so that we all benefit. As for why I continue to plug along on HotSheet, when there are better readers out there, I’d say that it is because mine is one of the few Java readers and thus it is also one of the few cross-platform options, and also because I’m planning to do some things with it that nobody (and I do mean nobody) is doing right now.
The same is at true of FourColor, a viewer for comic books in .cbz and .cbr formats that I wrote. I’m divided over whether or not it makes sense to continue on it now that Comical is out. But Comical isn’t advancing all that fast, nor is it any more feature rich than FourColor at this point, so at the moment I’m leaning towards releasing the code just to see if anyone else is interested in adding to it and seeing whether it can overtake Comical or whether it is just another useless also-ran. If Comical started to really take off though, the topmost link and text on the page for FourColor would be one to direct people to go work on and use Comical instead. I think that a ruthless attitude, even towards your own work and your own desired projects is the only thing that helps everyone advance. Building another text editor or RSS reader, or anything in a dozen other grossly overcrowded categories is a huge waste of time. There are programs which practically go begging to be written, write one of those.
Here’s an example of a comment I got that strikes me as if it came from another planet than the one I live on:
“The guy thought it would be a cool hack, over a weekend. Who cares if he didn’t look around to see what was out there already? There’s no “rule” out there (thank God) that says people need to look at what other people have done, before doing something themselves.”
In my book, yeah, there is a rule like that. People who do otherwise, when it is so easy to go to Freshmeat and browse to the Java section and type the letters RSS just to see everything RSS related under Java (I just did it to time it, I had a list of 22 items in under 1 minute 30 seconds) is wasting their time. There’s no law against wasting time and there never will be. However, I felt that not choosing to take the very limited amount of time necessary to do that was indicative of the problems that Sun has with open source at this time. Does it not strike you as strange that Sun didn’t learn from the fact that Blackdown did a huge portion of their work for them in porting Java to Linux?!? They benefitted already from others having the code and working on it, but they don’t see the benefit to opening it up. Here for example:
“Oh, yeah. I’ve always felt that sort of in the abstract, open-source is the right thing to do for a lot of the kinds of things that we do. There are a variety of issues that make it a very complex discussion as to whether it actually works as a business.” – James Gosling on favoring open sourcing Java
Hmmm, whether it actually works as a business. Hmmm. How’s that whole Java Desktop working out for Sun? I hear that it’s making a lot of sales and that Sun is very very pleased with it. Isn’t it based on Linux? It certainly seems that someone at Sun figured out how that works as a business. Maybe it’s only other people’s source that should be open.
“Where in the Open Source Law Code does it say “Though shall read all the code on freshmeat.net before reinventing the wheel”
Since you asked, I’ll tell you. In the second point from Eric Raymond’s Cathedral and the Bazaar article, “Good programmers know what to write. Great ones know what to rewrite (and reuse).” Constructive laziness got us Linux, your attitude got us NOTHING! You don’t read the code on Freshmeat, you just scan through to see if there’s a couple of things you should look at real quick. If that’s too much effort for you, do what you do and keep it to yourself, don’t release something and pat yourself on the back for your “open source.”
“Perhaps James Gosling, like myself, programs in his spare time because he finds it an entertaining and thought-provoking exercise. In many ways the process is more important than the end result.”
Again, I don’t agree. It may be more important to you. To the guy across the street who washes and re-washes his car all weekend, that’s damned important stuff. But for everybody else, it does jack squat. So in summation, I’d have to say that I still don’t think Gosling gets open source and neither do a lot of other people. Had this been anyone else other than Gosling I would have let it pass without comment. Lord knows I’ve seen a lot of wheels reinvented over and over again through the years. But in his case I felt that it shows the attitude towards open source at Sun beautifully. There’s a complete lack of it really penetrating or being understood in any way.
“I should learn more about RSS, so I’m going to take James’ lead and go write a feed reader…”
Sigh…
Followup: Shortly after finishing my posting I read on JavaLobby that Scott McNealy has no interest in open sourcing Java. I know that some programs are already starting to rewrite their licenses to exclude SCO from being able to use any future versions of their software, perhaps if the same happened to Sun and their Java Desktop it might help them figure out, “what problem does it solve that is not already solved.”

James Gosling’s Mistake Is Symptomatic Of Sun’s Open Source Attitude

It’s a freakishly long title, but my initial title, “James Gosling Is A Clueless ****tard,” made me sound angry and I’m not, I’m disappointed. But it did have the benefit of knowing that it would draw everybody from JavaBlogs to come read it. It was one of those angel on one shoulder, demon on the other moments…
Anyway.
After a long hiatus I’ve been working like hard on HotSheet again. I ripped out all my old RSS parsing code and replaced it with Informa and fixed a major bug. At the present time I’m completely overhauling the model (as in model-view-controller) to make something that is much simpler for the UI to deal with. The refactored version should be easier to modify and get undo/redo because I’ll be using the command pattern for the various actions you take with the model. Expect an update to come to you via Java Web Start in less than one week.
Then late last week I noticed that James Gosling released a new project. It’s yet another RSS aggregator (lord knows we need more) called JNN – The Juicy News Network. Wow! Ignore my cynical take on RSS aggregators, I’m deeply impressed with “The Father of Java” doing something like this and I rushed to go look at it. My excitement quickly turned to, “Oh oh.” For example, I read this quote from him even before I downloaded the app.
“The application itself is pretty straightforward. The most interesting thing is what it does to be fast at startup: all news feed reading is done by a swarm of low priority threads, one for each feed. So all feeds get fetched in parallel. This is very easy to do in Java: the threading API and networking support made it all straightforward.”
Yeah… Multi-threaded pulling of channels might have been original when I did it in HotSheet THREE YEARS AGO, but I don’t think it was, I think I ripped the feature off from somebody else. There were a lot fewer aggregators then but that’s a pretty basic feature. The fact that he doesn’t know that there are already other Java aggregators that do it (and there aren’t more than a handful of those) suggests that he didn’t bother looking at the existing open source before hacking this together. One look at the source code to JNN confirms that it is a glop with no documentation, no JavaDoc, no use of other libraries like Informa to do the RSS parsing or the Jakarta Commons Pooling to help with the multi-threading. Nope, just raw, crank-it-out code. Through much of it he doesn’t look like he could be troubled to put blank lines between sections of the code itself just to group it.
All in all, he rebuilt the same stuff many others have done before him. He could have easily taken HotSheet as a base and added drag and drop of channel links (his only cool feature) and a three pane view to it. Even if he had decided that what I did sucked he should have used the Informa library to handle parsing and tried to focus only on the UI portion of things. Instead he’s done something that he should have known better than to do, start from scratch, waste time re-inventing the wheel, and set a bad example with something that could not be built upon itself without major effort, and which added nothing to the pool of code that really does stand a chance of being shared and reused.
So, although James Gosling favors open sourcing Java, it apparently never occurs to him to build upon any of the open source that is already out there. So if you are hoping to see an open source version of Java soon, I think this might be a signal that the messages of open source, BSD licenses, etc. have not penetrated into Sun’s psyche yet.

Homemade Audio Books

Recently I commented that I was surprised that no one was attempting to record public domain material to try and create a kind of audio Project Gutenberg and just a few days later I saw this: AudioBooksGratis
So far the guy doing it is only doing Alice in Wonderland but it’s a start. Maybe others will do the same.