Ubuntu is under attack

Eric Dunbar eric.dunbar at gmail.com
Mon Dec 19 03:42:17 GMT 2005

On 12/18/05, Mike Bird <mgb-ubuntu at yosemite.net> wrote:
> On Sat, 2005-12-17 at 22:04, Eric Dunbar wrote:
> > This discussion is more appropriate on sounder (hint).
> No.  This is important.

It's not trouble-shooting so it probably ought to end up on sounder.

> > I would suggest you stop and take a look at the following (crude)
> > break down on page views for the past three months at DistroWatch
> Irrelevant.  We're talking about recent changes that are harming
> Ubuntu.  Fedora used to be up there until it did what Ubuntu is now
> doing.

Easy to say irrelevant if you're on the losing end of an argument
(without backing it up). You remind me of a good politician. Deny,
deny, deny (until it's too late or you're found out).

FYI IIRC Ubuntu came out of the gate more-or-less AS IT CURRENTLY EXISTS!!

Enough people have waded into the morass that is this thread to
explain to you (and others) that one of the driving ideas behind
Ubuntu's distribution model is to keep the main OS installer to ONE
CD. As such, Canonical has to eliminate apps/services which are used
by a minority of users and keep/include the ones that tend to be used
by more people. It'd be interesting to know where the "popularity
contest" software stands on the argument for or against including such
extraneous services as mail servers.

> What does the laudable goal of accessibility have to do with
> our objections to hurting Ubuntu by removing Postfix and Mailx?

As others have pointed out, repeatedly, Postfix and Mailx are but two
or three clicks of the mouse away (none if you use apt-get through one
of the vts). When most people don't use those services IT SIMPLY

> > Perhaps you didn't experience the whole DOS vs. Mac war in the 1980s,
> > so, to summarise: the computer "experts" (pundits) derided the Mac GUI
> > for being simplistic, limiting, not keyboard controllable and simply
> > not useful (whatever would you do with a MOUSE... drawing pictures?
> > Use LOGO! Page layout? Only publishers need LinoTypes). What did
> > Microsoft do the instant they cleared up the legal wranglings they had
> > with Apple? Copy Mac's GUI down to the last letter (making some pretty
> > bad mistakes in the process unfortunately). Why? Because GUI and
> > simplicity WORKS.
> Pulease.  I worked on the Xerox D-Lion which gave Apple the idea for the
> Lisa which evolved into the Mac which, being dumbed down, lost 95%
> market share to Windows, which was harder to use but not dumbed down.

It's a shame you didn't pay attention to the history that was in the making :-(

Mac was the undisputed leader in the realm of productivity (ignoring
the (tragically short-lived) blips of Amiga and Atari) for 8 years
(84-91), and, was still offering a far superior product to Windows 3.1
until 1995, and, productivity study after productivity study showed
that Mac users were FAR more productive than their DOS counterparts --
usually using twice or three times the number of apps than their DOS
counterparts and getting more done than their DOS counterparts (try
drawing a picture, doing page layout or managing a spread sheet in a
CLUI environment ;-). E.g. In 1988, with Illustrator 88 on a Mac II
with a 32 bit video card (the first Windows computer I ever did see
which could handle more than 256 colours was in 1994, and, even then
very few apps could even take advantage of the extra colours!!!)
people were creating illustrations on Macs which Windows users
couldn't do until the advent of Windows 95 (NOT 3.1).

This was an conclusion with which my anecdotal observations
whole-heartedly agreed.

Prior to the appearance of Windows 3.1 I knew very few people who used
their DOS PCs for anything but word processing or BBSing. Those of us
who were Mac users in 1990 were doing pretty much everything that 2005
computer users do -- word processing (not just WordPerfect 5.1 text
editing), spread sheets (not DOS 123), GUI e-mail, GUI FirstClass [a
primitive BBS predecessor to the www] (amazingly advanced for its day,
amazingly primitive now given that it's not changed in 15 years!!!)
and a myriad of other apps... and, another observation that I've made
over the years and had independently verified by others is that
knowledgeable Mac users tend to be FAR more knowledgeable about how to
USE computers than their knowledgeable Windows counterparts (who are
knowledgeable because they have to edit registries, not because they
necessarily know how to _USE_ their computers as tools)... something
about focusing on the important stuff and not having to worry about
extraneous nonsense focuses the mind ;-).

Anyway, nowadays there is less difference between the OSes, but, even
so, on the whole, usability studies tend to side marginally with
Apple's Mac OS.

Where Apple "failed" (if you judge failure by number of OS copies
installed) was in its business model. Apple was a hardware company and
that's where they wanted to be. They built computers and the OS had to
be BETTER than the rest to sell their premium computers.

By contrast, MS bought an operating system which they then licenced to
IBM, the undisputed business leader at the time (early 80s). As a
software company MS had nothing to gain by locking down the hardware
on which their OS ran so they could happily open it up to every John,
Dick and Harry that was willing to build hardware -- it wasn't
particularly good but it was cheap. Other h/w manufacturers didn't
have to write their own OS, and, these hardware manufacturers had
incentive to maintain some level of interoperability with IBM.

In essence, without MS, Linux could never have come to be -- no
standardization upon which to build an OS!!!!!!!!!

Apple allowed their OS to be licenced for only a year or two (mid 90s)
before they realised that that was hurting their bottom line more than
it was expanding the installed base of potential Mac users. They could
charge a massive premium for their hardware by making an OS that
bested the competition, rather than making a premium OS which allowed
others to under-cut them. Licencing their software in the mid-90s is
partly why Apple fared worse than the average high tech company at the
time -- Apple lost revenue stream and stagnated on the OS front.
Without a strong OS (to counter the new offering of Windows 95 from
MS) Apple couldn't sell as many boxes which meant poor profits.

Apple's most brilliant move was to focus on stability, and, then on
migrating the whole platform to a rock solid core -- at no point did
they make their OS more complex.

(Back to MS)
Microsoft was a software company with a brilliant businessman at its
helm (someone many love to hate ;-), coupled with an excellent
marketing department, and lucky enough to hit the big time by
supplying the business leader (at the time; 1982?) with its personal
computer consumer operating system.

And, as we all know and have experienced, if your marketing or timing
is good you can sell nearly anything, even if it's not the best tool
for the job (a half a TRILLION US dollar (400 billion euro) war ;-).
BetaMax vs. VHS.

And, that, in a nutshell, is why Apple is a very profitable hardware
manufacturer which can charge a premium for its computers and
Microsoft dominates a completely different realm of the computer world
where it can make a living.

Linux is a greater threat to Windows than to Apple's Mac. Mac OS X
already is a *nix which means that it has pretty good compatibility
with most Linux-based apps (I would expect to see Apple incorporate
GTX functionality in the not too distant future... they've already got
an X11 window server built in, so some native app compatibility may
not be too far behind ;-).

(not sure where this paragraph fits in... not interested enough to edit anymore)
The recognition by the clone makers that they need an alternative to
Windows (and pumping cold hard cash in Linux) is what has lead to
Microsoft getting off their laurels and fixing up Windows. Windows XP
Pro is a marked improvement over the mediocrity of Windows ME, in a
scant three year time span!!! (though, I'd like to know whether that's
because of Linux or Mac OS X or both or something else).

What I'd like to know is _why_ did Apple switch to i86. There have
been so many pontifications on the subject (and, official
pronouncements from Apple), but, none have sounded completely
convincing -- is Apple setting itself up to compete with software or
is there something else at play?

Of course, I hope someone a few generations younger than you wouldn't
have to remind you of what happened in 1980s and 1990s computer
history ;-).


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