Open-source Bundling

Cast your mind back to the halcyon days of the late ’90s. Windows 95/98. Internet Explorer 4. Before you laugh, consider that IE4 included some pretty cutting-edge technology for the time: Dynamic HTML, TLS 1.0, single sign-on, streaming media, and “Channels” before RSS. IE4 even pioneered — unsuccessfully — the idea of “web browser as… Continue reading Open-source Bundling

The Amateur Problem

We have a problem. We are professional software developers who work with open-source software. The problem is that we are in the minority. Most open-source software is written by amateurs. Every time a hot new technology comes on the scene, developers flock to it like ants to a picnic. Those early adopters are, by definition,… Continue reading The Amateur Problem

ODF vs. OOXML in New York State

New York State’s Office for Technology released a Request for Public Comment on selecting an XML-based office data format. The choices are OASIS’ ODF and Microsoft’s OOXML. Responses were due by 5 p.m. today, Dec. 28. My response is below, submitted just in time to meet the deadline. I didn’t have time to answer all… Continue reading ODF vs. OOXML in New York State

Easterbrook on GPL, Presages AltLaw

While playing with my current all-consuming project,, I came across this case: Wallace v. IBM. In 2006 a man named Daniel Wallace sued various distributors of GNU/Linux, including IBM, Red Hat, and Novell, for “price-fixing.” Since the GPL ensures Linux will always be free, Wallace argued, he cannot afford to enter the market with… Continue reading Easterbrook on GPL, Presages AltLaw

Abstract Interfaces

Office 2003 uses a table of 1500 colors to render the user interface. That’s 1500 different colors designers have to choose for each color scheme. Overkill? Probably. But it says something about commercial software that sets it apart from most open-source software. Despite the greater theme/skin-ability of KDE, Gnome, and friends, open-source GUIs tend to… Continue reading Abstract Interfaces