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Board,

what do you think of this decision:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/4/23919.html

Excerpt:
Gnome to be based on .NET - de Icaza
By Andrew Orlowski in New York
Posted: 01/02/2002 at 17:56 GMT

How much do you love Microsoft's .NET? Enough to trust your Gnome applications to its APIs in the future?

That's what Gnome leader Miguel de Icaza, believes should happen.
...


How are chances that this will not be another doomed emulation effort of a proprietary MSFT API the got stuck at the 99% mark (Remember Sun's WABI, Linux WINE, the MS Office filters in StarOffice)? That there will be a 100% full-featured .NET implementation for Linux that lives longer than the next MSFT update?

My personal view is chances are low and therefore GNOME 3.0 will never fly, but I may lack information.

I confess I am a little biased, since I am long SUNW, the very company some members of this board claimed "scared to death" because of Larry's Linux comments. BTW, I think otherwise on that topic, please visit the SUNW board for the details.

When .NET "takes over the world" SUNW is toast. What .NET is missing is credibility, especially in the Open Systems world (where I equally put Linux and Solaris into). GNOME moving to .NET is a big step forward gaining credibility.

Rolf

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How are chances that this will not be another doomed emulation effort of a proprietary MSFT API the got stuck at the 99% mark (Remember Sun's WABI, Linux WINE, the MS Office filters in StarOffice)? That there will be a 100% full-featured .NET implementation for Linux that lives longer than the next MSFT update?

*************

1) WABI was not an implementation of Windows API. It was a x86 emulator for Sun. It required a full install of Windows to work. It worked just fine from what I've heard, it's just kind of silly to pay for Windows AND Solaris.

2) MS Office filters in StarOffice are just fine. I have NEVER had a problem with them. In fact, I have had more problems in porting documents between MS Office versions than between Star and MS.

3) Wine is actually a less-than-90% effort, but is progressing nicely. This is the only real point here.

First of all, the GNOME project is NOT trying to implement .NET. Why? because .NET doesn't mean anything. .NET is a buzzword. What they are implementing is the ECMA standard CLR (common language runtime) and IL (Intermediate Language), both of which were first defined and developed by Microsoft. Their reasons for doing so have nothing to do with Microsoft compatibility, although, if they manage to do that it would be a bonus. The reason they are switching to this is because they think it is a good technology. The reasons for Samba and Wine on the other hand have nothing to do with technology - the developers generally don't like the technology they have to deal with - they are only developing it for compatibility reasons.

The reason that Miguel has decided to go with Microsofts CLR is simple - GNOME has always been a platform for easily supporting multiple languages, and the CLR makes that even easier. All the CLR is really is an executable format based on object-oriented programming rather than on procedure-based programming, and including a large standard library. Having a strongly-typed, object-oriented ABI and executable format keeps you from having to write wrappers for every language - you can just import them directly. This is really what Miguel is after.

Personally, I think it's a bad idea. However, I don't think it has anything to do with trying to make Linux compatible with Windows. I like the fact that each language has their own bindings, because it allows them to each implement the bindings in their own way, rather than some general way that suits all languages. Basically, when new language features come out that aren't around now, we will still be having to write wrappers, even with the CLR, because it is made to support only current language featuresets.

As for Sun being scared of Linux, I do partially retract my statement the other day. I wanted to write my modified view based on the opinions put forth here, but I haven't had the time. I still think Sun is quite worried about Linux, and thus are hesitant to put out all of iPlanet's features on Linux. "Scared to death" was probably a little extreme, I admit.
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The reason that Miguel has decided to go with Microsofts CLR is simple - GNOME has always been a platform for easily supporting multiple languages, and the CLR makes that even easier. All the CLR is really is an executable format based on object-oriented programming rather than on procedure-based programming, and including a large standard library. Having a strongly-typed, object-oriented ABI and executable format keeps you from having to write wrappers for every language - you can just import them directly. This is really what Miguel is after.

Personally, I think it's a bad idea. However, I don't think it has anything to do with trying to make Linux compatible with Windows. I like the fact that each language has their own bindings, because it allows them to each implement the bindings in their own way, rather than some general way that suits all languages. Basically, when new language features come out that aren't around now, we will still be having to write wrappers, even with the CLR, because it is made to support only current language featuresets.


wow...this whole thing with .net and Gnome has confused me from the get go...thank you for clearing much of that up. I still am a little confused as to what .net is....i have read all the statements about what its for (on this board apperantly its about world domination) but not what it is. As i understand it .net has something to do with XML but I have as yet seen a good explination of how they relate and why MS's XML solution with .net would be better then others or a roll your own. Anyway the post you have made cleared up some things with its relationship with gnome. But im still very confused as to what all the other hub bub is about regarding .net. Can some one explain what .net is in laymen terms?

hhookk
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But im still very confused as to what all the other hub bub is about regarding .net. Can some one explain what .net is in laymen terms?

*********

Again, forget the term .NET. It means nothing. Microsoft is improving their platform, and they are labelling EVERY improvement .NET, whether or not it has anything to do with other improvements or not.

So, what GNOME is basing itself on is CLR & IL. The other technology involving XML is called Web Services. This is thoroughly distinct/orthogonal to CLR & IL.

In order to understand Web Services, think of CORBA. You have an object that understands a certain API, which can be called over the network. CORBA's standard transport method is called IIOP. Think of remote procedure calls, except having the first argument being an object identifier. Anyway, lately some people put together a specification for doing RPC called SOAP. The only real differences between traditional RPC and SOAP is that SOAP uses XML as its message format, and can be run over multiple transports. Why is this important and/or more useful than RPC or CORBA? Well, it's not. It just capitalizes on the XML buzzwords of the day. The various standards are:

SOAP - this is the standard talking about the way the message looks on the wire

WSDL - this is how I can communicate to you how to access my web service, including the name of the object, the URL to go to, the methods it supports, and what kinds of arguments it takes

UDDI - I'm a little unclear here, but I _think_ UDDI is kind of an XML version of LDAP. It's just a directory of information. Some people put WSDL files on UDDI. So, I can do a UDDI query for a certain type of business and get an API description of it's web service.

Basically, there's nothing here that can't be done with existing technologies like CORBA. In fact, SOAP is missing several nice features that CORBA has. For instance, SOAP stands for Simple Object Access Protocol, however, it has no way of dealing with passing remote object references around. It also looks to be an interoperability nightmare because of how loosely the standard is set (it does NOT mandate an encoding or set of encodings). Time will tell if different SOAP implementations will actually work with each other. I have a feeling that of the limitted feature set SOAP has, there will be an even smaller one in use that everyone supports sufficiently.

Anyway, if you have additional questions, please let me know.

REMEMBER! Don't use the term .NET because it doesn't refer to anything. Try to focus on terms that actually have meaning, like CLR, IL, and Web Services.
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2) MS Office filters in StarOffice are just fine. I have NEVER had a problem with them. In fact, I have had more problems in porting documents between MS Office versions than between Star and MS.

They are just fine, but still only 99%. Get a Powerpoint attachment, edit it in StarOffice and send it back as a Powerpoint - you loose information. Same for Excel or Word. StarOffice Compatibility is enough for working with M$ Office documents (I'm a user since version 3.0), but not enough to integrate into an M$ Office driven workflow. Sadly most companies have designed their workflows just like this, around M$ Office. This is the reason why StarOffice is widely accepted in the private domain (especially Linux), but only at a handful of corporate accounts (ministry of finance of a german state comes to my mind - and Sun, of course).

The missing 1% is there because the StarOffice/OpenOffice programmers had to reengineer M$ Office interfaces.

Don't you think history will repeat itself with CLR and IL, even with the M$ variant of SOAP, etc.? I know MSFT swears holy oaths this time it will be different. CLR and IL will be ECMA standards, we play by the rules etc. etc.

Internet Information Server is fully RFC compliant, but with some minor proprietary extensions like ASP that make it the best web server on Windows, easily integrating with Frontpage and so forth. So here we are again: Look at Sun Cobalt's Chilisoft ASP extensions to Apache. A Reengineering project again, quite sucessful, but always one step behind the MSFT upgrade cycle.

Rolf
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gargelkark:

They are just fine, but still only 99%. Get a Powerpoint attachment, edit it in StarOffice and send it back as a Powerpoint - you loose information.

********

For example..... what? I still contend that using Star/OpenOffice will get you better file compatibility than between various Word versions.

********

gargelkark:

Don't you think history will repeat itself with CLR and IL, even with the M$ variant of SOAP, etc.?

********

What does this have to do with it? GNOME can be successful with CLR & IL even if it isn't compatible with Microsoft. Compatibility with Microsoft is not their driving goal in this one. As for SOAP, Microsoft seems to be the minor player here. A lot of people seem to be using Apache's implementation. I personally really like SOAP::Lite, and would like Python's ZSI if they added WSDL support.

********

gargelkark:

Internet Information Server is fully RFC compliant, but with some minor proprietary extensions like ASP that make it the best web server on Windows, easily integrating with Frontpage and so forth.

********

I'd have to disagree. I think Apache is probably the best server on Windows. Who cares about ASP? Perl is even easier to work with, and has a ton more extension modules to do just about anything you would ever want. It fully integrates with Apache through mod_perl. In fact, the Apache/Perl combination has been able to talk SOAP for longer than ASP has. It has also supported the other web service protocols that came before it.

Remember, Linux and Windows are each playing catch-up with each other on different fronts. Most of the new features of Win2K and WinXP are basically things that Linux users have taken for granted for 8 years. Things like security, stability, etc. Remember, Windows only started thinking about security the last few months. It's been in Linux the whole time.

Linux is still playing catch-up in some areas of the GUI, but in others it has already surpassed Microsoft. I don't think it will be long (maybe 1-2 years) that Microsoft will have a single feature not available on Linux, and Linux will have a few more. Remember, Microsoft is now not competing against a small company, but the entire free world.
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Johnny,

You wrote:

I'd have to disagree. I think Apache is probably the best server on Windows.

Yes it ist definitely, from a technically point of view. But look at the stats, what webserver has the most installation on Windows platforms? IIS, because it's convenient. These ASPs are so easy to use - just ask the Motley Fool IT staff why they choose IIS and ASP!

And exactly that is may point: It's not about technical superiority, its about market power. Microsoft has absolute power in certain areas (the desktop) and is on its way to extend it to the whole Internet with .NET.

The major roadblock for them is that the internet is populated by weird Unix-savy, open-source guys who can not only tell the difference between ASP and PERL but also base their decisions on this knowledge. Microsoft had not much credibility, both technical (bah, M$) and political (Your quote: "Microsoft is now not competing against a small company, but the entire free world") in that domain.

Well IMHO the Gnome/.NET decision is the first step to remove this credibility roadblock. Maybe the Linux community thinks they can use Microsoft by selecting the good stuff from their APIs and reimplement them on Linux. Or is it the other way around: Microsoft getting mindshare in the open source community by offering efficient APIs? Who utilizes whom?

Rolf


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Who utilizes whom?
That's the real question, isn't it? For an interesting take on this, check out:

http://techupdate.zdnet.com/techupdate/stories/main/0,14179,2842294,00.html

You can easily replace "Sun" with "Linux" or any other web services platform and it will still make sense. I'm sure as new development comes out people will be constantly ripping each other off to either stay current or get one step ahead.
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Yes it ist definitely, from a technically point of view. But look at the stats, what webserver has the most installation on Windows platforms? IIS, because it's convenient. These ASPs are so easy to use - just ask the Motley Fool IT staff why they choose IIS and ASP!

***********

Yes, but your point earlier was that Linux needed to emulate Microsoft on the server side - that is totally wrong! Chilisoft ASP is fine for people in the midst of migrating, but most people have already chosen Apache as their webserver. Perl is extremely easy-to-use, and if you need easier, you can always go with Zope or some other framework. Tomcat (which is made by Apache) is already fairly popular with IIS folks, and it makes a simple transition to Linux.

I do agree that Microsoft has been trying to look like it's open-source for almost a year now. The "shared-source" initiative, now trying to play nicely with "open standards", and then has just recently started a "security initiative" followed by a "bug-fix" initiative. You can tell they are really getting hammered by open-source. Now, Microsoft has enough give with their balance books that it won't show up on their quarterly reports for a while. However, you can definitely see that they are in a reactive position instead of a proactive position. That's is where they are vulnerable. They have maintained an image (though not true) of leading, but now they are obviously following. Why get it from Windows when you already had it in Linux? That seems like an obvious tactic that will win over quite a few people, if big companies start employing it. I can see it now - a commercial with two IT guys walking down the street -

#1 - Hey, guess what, with Microsoft's new security initiative, we can finally stop having every thirteen-year-old with a computer access our data.

#2 - That's nice, but I already had that with IBM and Red Hat. In fact, they have always given their focus to the security of my enterprise, because they know how valuable it is.

#1 - Well, you know, Microsoft has recently released Windows XP which crashes a lot less than their previous versions. Also, they have promised to spend this whole month fixing bugs!

#2 - Really? That's good, but since I switched to Red Hat and IBM three years ago I haven't had a crash on me yet. It sure took them long enough to recognize the problem. I'm glad I went with a vendor who thought that crashes were problems, not a normal part of life.

#1 - Who are your vendors again?

#2 - Red Hat and IBM

#1 - Thanks, I'll give them a try
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msurel,

thanks for that article!

It's a good read, but my angle is different: Everybody takes "ideas" from competitor's products to improve their own ones. That's normal business. And the question who originally invented Web Services or virtual machines or precompiled server pages or whatever is irrelevant.

Today it is totally irrelevant who invented the word processor or who invented the spreadsheet because 90% of the PC user world population think "Word" for the former and "Excel" for the latter.

Word copied Wordstart and Wordperfect in first place and did not get dominant marketshare because of features. It did get there where it is now because of bundling, integration with Windows using unpublished extensions and roadmaps and pure market power.

Today innovation in the word processing area does not happen anymore because no real competitors are left. Microsoft makes money by selling only "brushed-up" updates, milking the installed base.

Will innovation in internet technologies (and that's what Linux is all about) stop when .NET has 80% plus marketshare? Probably .NET will never get there but who knows? I also never would have envisioned the GNOME project to adopt Technologies orginally developed by Microsoft to improve the Windows platform.

Rolf
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Rolf,

I find this Microsoft makes money by selling only "brushed-up" updates, milking the installed base interesting in that when NT 3.51 was coming out, you could have replaced Microsoft with Novell regarding Netware.

Given Microsoft's ascent to desktop dominance I don't think they will make the same mistake of overlooking upcoming technologies and just letting people have market share of things they don't deem important the way other corporations just let Microsoft have certain segments of the market.

And given Microsoft is playing catch up right now when it comes to stable, extensible web services, I don't think they will get 80%+ market share and I don't think the innovation in this realm will stop anytime soon. If anything the big boys in Redmond will force the smaller guys to keep pushing hard, and given their smaller size they'll have an easier time adapting and innovating.

And I think this will eventually lead to a shift in what people think of as an application. Also, I think the user base that is being milked is starting to come to the realization that the only thing going on is that they are being milked. At home I've still got Win98 and Office 97 on our machine (my wife has to use it and I would rather run Windows than fight with her. Trust me on this one!), although I'm working on the idea of getting a linux machine in there since the majority of her day to day activity on the computer is web browsing and e-mail. If all you need is a browser and some apps that don't do anything beyond go out into the ether and pull down what they need, who the hell cares what OS you're running?

This is the turn things are starting to take and if it continues, the desktop becomes more akin a seat at a big, long picnic table. You get to pick your plate and utensils and the color of cheesy plastic cup you want and your own little seat looks like it's 'yours', but it's just a small piece of the whole, and what was 'your' piece changes once you leave and somebody else comes with their plate of food. The desktop, like your plate and cup when you're done eating, is essentially garbage. If you're that concerned with your plate and cup, that's great. I would rather own the table. I think Microsoft has ended up commoditizing their own market and if things keep going the way they are, their milking days are numbered.

Microsoft will either grow and adapt or they'll become the next Novell. As long as Bill Gates is at the helm I would bet on the former. We can talk all day about the rather duplicitous ways Microsoft has grown its business and maintained its market but for all of Gates' problems, the man is no dummy. And the desktop as we know it isn't going away anytime soon. It will be a pretty slow shift, but I think Microsoft realizes this is what's happening. They're busy making sure all of their applications can connect to the web and get what they need when they need it. They might be boxing themselves into a corner by using a lot of their own proprietary pieces, but if they do get boxed in, how much trouble do you think it would be for them to adapt the applications to use the open standards? As you've said their install base is huge and when people think of word processors and spread sheets they think of Excel. They'll just release another upgrade.

As I type this I'm wondering if in some sick way the hope is that web services do move away from .NET down the line. Think about it. It's a win-win for them. If everybody uses .NET, they're running on Microsoft's protocol and they own the desktop, the servers and most points in between. If people move to a different standard, well, they're still going to want their client to access the net with the same old software so Microsoft will be busy pumping out upgrades to access J2EE services instead of .NET. They get to continue to milk the install base in the name of 'innovation' like they've always done.

I've probably rambled on much too long, garbled what was my original train of thought and over generalized to the point of making grievous logical errors. Which I'm sure most of the posters on this board will be quick to point out. You guys are good like that ;-)



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I also never would have envisioned the GNOME project to adopt Technologies orginally developed by Microsoft to improve the Windows platform.

***********

Actually quite a bit of GNOME is based on Microsoft technologies. They just implemented them better. Some of it I think is unnecessary. I find GUID's to be more annoying than useful (just put a vendor tag on your IDL name). Bonobo is, to a great deal, modelled after COM/OLE, except based on CORBA, which fixes a lot of the problems inherent in COM.

I personally think that they would have been better to model themselves after MacOS/NeXTStep, and maybe finish GNUstep, but alas, I don't have time to contribute that much :(
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