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Old 01-03-2007, 10:02 PM   #1
Registered: Jan 2007
Location: Sacramento
Distribution: Ubuntu 6.10
Posts: 63

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Loving it the second time around

I have been involved using and programming computers since the early days. I don't like what has happened. DOS was open with a lot of participation from small developers like me who moonlighted. Anybody with a desire could find out what they needed to know about the operating system. As Microsoft moved everybody to their closed system, small people could no longer stay in the field. If anybody did succeed, Microsoft either bought them or put them out of business. Now you have to "activate" your system whenever it nees to be reinstalled, which is not a rare occurrence.

The open concept of Linux is wonderful. I tried it when Corel first tried to go commercial with it, but it wasn't too good. I have downloaded Ubuntu, and it is great.

I think over time, this is a concept that can and will succeed. With a critical mass of enthusiasts and people willing to work to improve the system, it has to keep getting better and better. Over time, democracy wins over totalitarianism, and open and free software will win over the type of tactics used by Microsoft. I am hoping that this time, I can finally make the total jump to Linux and become a contributor myself in time. For now, I am very grateful to those of you who operate sites like this.
Thanks a lot.

Old 01-03-2007, 10:42 PM   #2
Simon Bridge
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Registered: Oct 2003
Location: Waiheke NZ
Distribution: Ubuntu
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DOS was open with a lot of participation from small developers like me who moonlighted.
When was DOS ever "open".

The dominant small computer OS in the early days was CP/M (Control Program/Monitor)... when IBM wanted to ship a standard OS with their "Personal Computer" systems, they wanted CP/M but the deal famously fell through.

However, there was a wee OS based on the CP/M manual called "Q-DOS" for "Quick and Dirty Operating System". This was purchased by Microsoft, modified, and dubbed "MS-DOS". These systems were always proprietory. Sure you could get a lot of information about DOS and how to use it, but you didn't get the code itself.

To underline his proprietary attitudes, Bill Gates sent his famous "Open Letter to the Hobbyist" (

I submit: DOS was never open.

That said - I resonate with the sentiments:

I started out on TRS80's hooked up to old B&W valve TV sets ... the 1024 monitor was the total number of characters on the whole screen! These things were programmed in BASIC... don't recall which flavor... had a whole 8k RAM, no hard drives, and a tape machine to store data. A memory upgrade involved physically soldering more ram chips into holes in the board - when that wasn't enough, I soldered RAM chips on top of each other. Very pleased to manage 32k.

University Computer Science courses used the old mac classics ... I chafed. These things used the classic WIMPS system (and what genius thought up that name?) Tey would do everything but wipe your ass (and I had suspicions about those seats...)

Windows was worse - it did all the same stuff but badly. We used to say: "How do you make windows go faster? Easy - throw it harder!"

I used to run a BBS hooked to fidonet using unregistered shareware a lot. I was vaguely aware that much of the freeware I was using was called "GNU-something" though - but nobody talked about it much. Windows/DOS being what it was, I noticed that I ended up with many copies of the same utilities installed.

At long last, Win98SE dies, taking my thesis with it. Needing a computer in a hurry and having no money, I obtained a copy of RedHat9 and had a ball. It was immediate. Little thought was required to work out that I was experiencing the old buzz I use to get from the TRS80s. Only it's better... I'm not a thief any more.

Last edited by Simon Bridge; 01-03-2007 at 10:44 PM.
Old 01-03-2007, 11:42 PM   #3
Registered: Mar 2003
Location: Parksville, BC Canada
Distribution: Ubuntu 10.04LTS, Absolute Linux,Debian 3.0, LinpusLite,
Posts: 206

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Old 01-04-2007, 02:57 AM   #4
Registered: Jan 2007
Location: Sacramento
Distribution: Ubuntu 6.10
Posts: 63

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 15
You are of course right that DOS was never open in the sense of Linux. But at least you could usually find out what you needed to know somewhere. It was way open compared to Windows. You had to fork over big bucks to MS if you wanted to program in Windows, and what they gave you was soon out of date. I am really excited about Linux because it has improved so much in quality since I last looked at it.

Sacramento had a very active PC users group way back when and Bill Gates himself would come down to speak and hype the next version of Windows. I bought many versions of Windows and was a slow learner on that. The early versions were ultra slow and unstable. I moved to OS/2, which I thought was a good product, certainly better than Windows. But Micrsoft understands the market and FUD. I have to use Windows at work, but if there is any way around it at home, I am game.

So far, Ubuntu seems very nice and well thought out.

I see open software getting better and better. Microsoft views bugs as marketing oportunities with planned obsolesence. I am sure they are looking for a way to put down Linux the way they have put down so many other enterprises - but it is going to be hard for them. They can't undercut Linux on price, and when a whole community is involved, you can't buy them all.

I am amazed that there are so many great developers involved in writing such great stuff for free. I really think that these people will be seen as heroes by our posterity.


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