Impressions are inevitably subjective and operating systems suffer from the same kind of subject impressions you or I do. If you’re ugly or you don’t seem to have the same “nifty stuff” that others have, you’re perceived to be less capable even if you are really more sophisticated than the competition. Linux is the perfect example of that. It’s a better operating system than Windows and on par with what’s under the covers of Mac OS X but it hasn’t been impressing anyone with how cool it looks any time recently.
That appears poised to change though. There were two different projects to give the Linux desktop a makeover but they have now merged to form Compiz Fusion. It is quite far along and should be showing up as a standard feature on Linux desktops (e.g. Ubuntu) in the near future. Here’s a video over on YouTube demonstrating the capabilities of the software which includes multiple virtual desktops, better window switching, and lots and lots of eye candy:
Sun is now making all their technical sessions from Java One available online. You can get the PDF for any of them and they are gradually getting the full audio plus slides up (e.g. all the 2006 presentations and about 20-25% of the 2007 presentations are up in full audio/slides form now, the remainder of the 2007 stuff is PDF only for the moment). You have to join the Sun Developer Network (SDN) but signup for that is free.
The presentations are pretty awesome. I’m watching the one on the Java Persistence API from 2006 and there are several others I have my eye on for later. This is an excellent educational resource and if you develop in Java for a living you would be remiss not to go through what’s available there.
Occasionally you read blog entries from people where they wonder aloud why Microsoft can be so easily bashed despite being so widely used. They seem genuinely puzzled that if anyone bashes Linux or Google similarly then a huge weight of fanboys decends upon them to berate them immediately via email and comments.
Well, if you’re one of those people, pull up a chair and listen while I explain one of the reasons we get to bash Microsoft and will continue to do so until the day they change their ways (likely never).
You see recently there has been a big controversy in the Microsoft .NET development community about the availability of TestDriven.NET for Visual Studio Express. What the tool is and what it does is unimportant. What is important is why Microsoft chose to use lawyers to threaten the guy who makes this add-in available. It’s because he made it available for not just the commercial software development tools they sell but also for the free version called “Visual Studio Express”. This blog entry by a Microsoft employee over the Visual Studio Express product sums it all up with a lovely amount of double-speak: http://blogs.msdn.com/danielfe/archive/2007/05/31/visual-studio-express-and-testdriven-net.aspx
You see, in their eyes this is the way it had to be. At the end of the day, “Microsoft is a business”, and that means they have to charge an arm and a leg for their “real” development tools (the ones that allow plugins that is). The free ones are just a favor for you and you should be damn grateful that they condescend to allow you to develop for Windows at all without paying them a fee for the privilege. It’s probably best to ignore that IBM, Sun, Red-Hat, Google, and Yahoo are also businesses and successful ones who give away development tools all the time. “Microsoft is a business” and in the end, this is “a perfectly reasonable tradeoff to make that, in the end, provides the best tools possible to an entire class of customer that may never have picked up programming without it”.
You know what? If people really want to write programs and they really want the best tools they should go get the Java development kit from Sun where they will give you an excellent IDE + development tools + documentation + application servers for free or go get Ruby on Rails and again get the software that they need to do excellent real development without someone treating handing them a crippled junior version of the tools as a huge favor.
Here’s the links you need so you can avoid the developing anything using Microsoft’s development tools. You won’t be paying for Visual Studio or Universal this or suffer from only one buggy version of things being available. I did that time already for years on end and I’m here to testify like a preacher in a tent. Stay away from their garbage, there are better ways:
Sun’s Netbean’s IDE + the Java 6.0 Development Kit
Ruby on Rails