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Old 11-18-2008, 10:30 PM   #1
LXer
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LXer: New book: After the Software Wars


Published at LXer:

I have just finished a new book about free software. Excerpt: Given the technology that's already available, we should have cars that drive us around, in absolute safety, while we lounge in the back and sip champagne. All we need is a video camera on the roof, plugged into a PC, right? We have all the necessary hardware, and have had it for years, but don't yet have robot-driven cars because we don't have the software. This book explains how we can build better software and all get our own high-tech chauffeur.

Read More...
 
Old 11-19-2008, 09:55 AM   #2
easuter
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Well, I downloaded the pdf and looked around.
Much of it is fan-boy stuff from what I could tell, and seems to lack some insight and technical knowledge in some of the areas discussed (probably should know what you are talking about before writing a chapter about the subject...).

Here is a gem from the "Java mess" chapter:

Quote:
While Java has many important technical advancements, it has
achieved only a small fraction of the universal status it should have.
Java should have replaced C and C++, languages desperate to be
taken out back and shot! However, Java did not, and one of the
biggest reasons why software is in shambles today is because Sun
repeatedly screwed the pooch with Java.
I must mention that the author opened the chapter with a 1998 quote from Torvalds on how he thought Java was dead.
And here we are a decade later, and Java is still very much alive.

Now to address the above snippet: WTF?
C is now my favourite language, after getting acquainted with it over the summer. C and C++ simply give you much more power and control over the system, that Java cant give.
But then again, Java is great for developing cross-platform applets.

Either way, its all about choosing the right tools to tackle the problems at hand, and there is definitely no one-size-fits-all language.

Not going to bother reading the rest of the book after that display of ignorance.

Last edited by easuter; 11-19-2008 at 03:13 PM.
 
Old 11-19-2008, 11:14 PM   #3
KeithCu
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Hi easuter;

Thanks for checking my book out! I'm sorry you didn't find it that interesting, perhaps you are not the target market. It is a book I would have wanted to read after I left MS! I also feel that free software doesn't have world domination yet, so more needs to be written on why it is good and what work remains.

You hinted that I lack technical knowledge in some areas. If you have any specific criticisms, I'd be happy to hear them and fix things. I plan on revising it a couple of times. I just uploaded version 1 last night!

The Linus quote from 1998 is talking about Java on the desktop. (He mentions the desktop several times in his quote.) I run more C# apps on Ubuntu than Java apps. In addition, Java on the server isn't doing that well, either. The point of the chapter is that making Java free 11 years after it was created is too late. It has so much baggage and there isn't a worldwide community of people working on it. Also, the class libraries are a mess and too complicated. (I explain why they got that way in the chapter. They focused on specs, rather than having code.)

C doesn't give you more power and control. It is a very primitive language and as I say in the book, one of the biggest mistakes in the industry is how it took off instead of Lisp.

By the way, if you are just learning C then I don't think you should be talking about other's technical knowledge ;-)

Regards,

-Keith
 
Old 11-20-2008, 03:55 AM   #4
easuter
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Quote:
I run more C# apps on Ubuntu than Java apps. In addition, Java on the server isn't doing that well, either.
From what I can gather, Java isnt doing as well as it used to on the server because its facing serious competition. Does it mean Java is going to die? Very much doubt it, especially now that its codebase is being turned into Free Software. Open sourcing proprietary code is like giving it a second chance at life: just look at Netscape.

And about C#: well, I'd rather run Sun's java on my machines iff I needed to than Microsoft's patent encumbered .Net stack which doesnt even have a 100% compliant open-source equivalent. And given the nature of Microsoft's stance towards Free Software, Mono will always be a couple of steps behind, and users of the code have no guarantee they wont be sued by MS.

Quote:
C doesn't give you more power and control. It is a very primitive language and as I say in the book, one of the biggest mistakes in the industry is how it took off instead of Lisp.
I think being big and bloated was never on C's objective list, if thats what you mean by primitive. C is still the "language of the OS", if you will. I cant ever imagine someone wanting to implement an entire OS kernel and _all_ of its userspace tools in only Java or C#.
And then of course, C++ has quite a large standard library, so if you feel C isnt suited for the job, C++ is an alternative.
And yes, C DOES give you more control over the machine, and you are able to do things you can't do in Java because the virtual machine is in control.

And like I said before, Java does have its place, but could NEVER be a replacement for C or C++ entirely.
What amount of C code would you guess makes up an average distribution? Maybe thats a number you could include in your book

Quote:
By the way, if you are just learning C then I don't think you should be talking about other's technical knowledge ;-)
Perhaps, but I'm actually using the language on a day-to-day basis, not just talking about it.

Anyway, wish you success for your book. Oh and also congratulations for leaving the Windows ball-and-chain behind: not many long time users are able to do that

Last edited by easuter; 11-20-2008 at 04:02 AM.
 
Old 11-20-2008, 06:43 AM   #5
KeithCu
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One more point: The sentence you are critiquing is a sentence at the beginning of a chapter, to sort of frame for the reader what I hope to explain in the rest of the chapter. I spend the rest of the chapter attempting to justify that sentence.

Quote:
Open sourcing proprietary code is like giving it a second chance at life: just look at Netscape.
True, but a language is different because it accumulates dependencies that can't be replaced. Netscape can replace the entire inner infrastructure with a new codebase and as long as still supports HTML and a DOM, etc. people won't notice! But if Java replaced all of its inner workings and changed all their APIs, all existing Java would break. I talk more later in that chapter why I don't see making Java free as changing its trajectory.

Quote:
Mono will always be a couple of steps behind, and users of the code have no guarantee they wont be sued by MS.
Mono is in certain ways ahead of MS. It supports more OSes like the Mac and Linux, more processors, languages like Boo, has wrappers for Gecko, and Gtk#, cool classes, is a smaller and simpler codebase, built by a worldwide community, etc. Also, MS threatens to sue Linux, and lots of other people. It is just FUD.

Quote:
I cant ever imagine someone wanting to implement an entire OS kernel and _all_ of its userspace tools in only Java or C#.
I talk about this in my book. I sort of agree and sort of disagree.

Quote:
Anyway, wish you success for your book.
Thanks! I am sorry my "fanboy" style turned you off. I don't think I exaggerate, but I do try to use strong words at start of an idea to provide motivation and explain the point I was trying to make. The downside is that it would also cause people with strong different opinions to get turned off because they disagree and not read the rest. I'm not sure what to do, but I will think about it more.

Regards!
 
  


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