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All that comes in the mind of an italian guy moved to california
TECNOLOGIE
11 ottobre 2008
Diary: Technologies: AROS: Opinion: Alternative OS HELPS Open Source, and Linux too.
[Warning: this topic has been left open for whoever likes to add contributions to it]

It's my intention to start DIGG the english section, maybe will help to spread my opinions and make something more happen... Last Saturday I found a link in linux.com pointing at this article on pingdom about the ten most interesting alternative Operating systems in the future: as you can see, at the first, sixth and seventh place we have three Amiga OS-like systems: AOS4.1, MorphOS and AROS;

Beside that, something make me feel perplexed; i already mentioned it in this blog, but guess the time is come to talk about it again.

It is interesting see as still many modern Amiga and Morphos Users consider AROS a kind of resource waste, even despite aprts of AROS code got used for a variable amount of time both in MorphOS and in the new Amiga OS 4, not to mention AfAOS.

And instead is interesting to look as other alternative systems, as Haiku and ReactOS, beside their own problems are getting more aknowledged outside their original niche: it is quite understandable why: both are a valid and open alternative to their closed source counterpart and both are much more user-friendly than even a nowadays linux: beside the old rust between ReactOS and the Wine team for an unfounded topic, the environments are much more peaceful than the "holy wars-ridden" Amiga OSes territories.

And full rivers of words have been written, even in amiga forums, in how AROS allegedly denaturated the original Amiga OS philosophy and look and feel taking ideas from some linux and windows user interface guidelines: then, looking a bit closer in os 4.1, some similar things happened even there but nobody still noticed it, just add a ReAction wrapper and everything is accepted...

But today i dont want to rant about the usual Amigaland mess.

I guess is pretty clear that all the hype around free software has become more than a philosophy: Since money started to run around Linux in the server market the free software transformed itself in a political matter, with internal fights and different -- sometimes opposite -- ways to look at the open source: form the Stallmanian obsession for the purism to the Novell conduct, all surrounded by ego trips and currents: just think at how Kernel programmers are criticizing Canonical for not contributing enough to the Kernel (despite the fact that Canonical is working to improve the final experience for the user and in the desktop development); by the way the programmer criticizing Canonical is working for Novell, and Novell is considered as a Betrayer for their agreements with Microsoft on some patents that MS might decide to enforce against Linux.

By the way, speaking of zealotry, is not known to everybody that last January 23rd 2008 Stallm,an itself has "excommunicated" [EDIT: ok, that is a big word, just removed aros from the link list] AROS because of its requirement of using proprietary roms in UAE and about the recommendation to find them through the purchase of the Amiga Forever package: here is the original mail from AAron Digulla as appeared in the Developer Mailing list:

Hello,
Richard Stallman just let me know that they deleted the link to AROS on their link page (http://www.gnu.org/links/links.html) after I had a longer discussion with him.

The reason is that they only want "free operating systems that have a *policy* not to include, or *recommend*, non-free software."

In our case, we recommend the use of "Amiga Forever" which is non-free software (it contains the Amiga Kickstart ROMs) on http://aros.sourceforge.net/documentation/users/applications/euae.php which means we are in violation of the GNU philosophy.

I had a longer discussion trying to figure out what is going on and the net result is that we're in a similar situation as Linux which can run MAME but Linux doesn't advertise MAME but we do. I'm not sure if it would be worth the effort to delete this page or to move it into the E-UAE package. It feels hypocritical to me to behave as if we didn't recommend UAE while we do recommend it for stuff that doesn't run on AROS itself.

Richard, of course, has a very strong opinion about this and I guess you can't change the world unless you are ready not to make concessions.

So if that topic comes up on AROS-exec or anywhere else, keep a cool head, don't flame Richard or the GNU guys, handle this professionally. I'm not very happy with the decision but OTOH, I doubt that we have many visitors coming from gnu.org (especially since only two other OSs are listed there) and no one will probably even notice the change.

Furthermore, Michael Battilana from Cloanto is actively supporting the Amiga community and us, so I think recommending his product is the least we should do.

And, if we see it with a cold mind, is just a taste of the aforementioned politics. [EDIT: Thank God, the community does not consider follow GNU guidelines strictly a priority nor is important for AROS cause so far things have been handled professionally and business went on as usual].

Sometimes i also have the sensation that several people in the Linux community thinks that developing alternative open source operating systems might be considered a theft of resoueces from what looks like is been decided to be a full focus on linux and other linux-like ooperating systems and distros. The comments in the Pingdom thread gives quite a good overview on the general opinion, defining alternative systems as "Windows 9x bad copies" (even the Amiga Oses:P).

Many of those that wrote the comments by the way, comes from new generation computer users, grown up with windows or linux and of course ignoring or considering obsolete other operating systems before; it is clear as they don't see any need or reason for something different: i might say they don't know there might be something different.

And so they not even understand as the simple existence of other operating systems in the open source universe is important: so as AROS and other alternative systems are using and re-implementing code from linux so the opposite - linux using code from Aros and other alternative systems - might happen and sometimes is happening; in example ReactOS adn Wine exchange code between themselves for a better Windows compatibility and even Amiga OSes got benefits from Linux code: the old ixemul the newer CigWin, most recently even Netsurf, a browser born in RiscOS and ported even on linux under GTK; linux can also benefit using in its code - when the license allows it - code from ports under AROs and other alternate systems. The existence itself of other options "non-linux" beside linux and its distros is a basic part of that "freedom of choice" professed by advocates and one of the essential characteristics of the Open Source philosophy: every one choose its "weapon", the one that fits best with its own modus operandi and how to deal with computing.

Also, the know-how of different people turn out to be good for the operating systems technical exchange.

I already mentioned in past the Kickstart Replacement Bounty phase I and wrote about the assignment to Bheron.

That is all that is shown in the bounty description under the power2people web site: i admit that surely does not look exhaustive. This because, according to one of the developers, the feature showing the bounty assigned coder bio has not yet been implemented.

So, through the comments to the assignment in aros-exec at last it has been possible to know the identity of Bheron. Its real name is Gregory John Casamento and this is the bio from the aros-exec comments:

I've been doing software development for about 18 years. I'm currently an independent contractor.. I own a small company called Open Logic Corporation (not the one at openlogic.com, they took my name 6 months after I got it). I'm currently the chief maintainer of an FSF project called GNUstep, you may have heard of it. ;) I've done everything from C, Objective-C, C++, Assembly on x86 and 68k, etc etc. I was a proud Amiga owner when I was younger and did a lot of C programming on it before Commodore went away. I'm glad for the opportunity to help AROS out. :)

So looks like he is got a great resumee and reliable competences; i put in the links its personal blog in order to follow its progresses on the bounty, if he decides to talk about it.

I will keep this article open in order to add any further precisation and comments to come.
TECNOLOGIE
11 agosto 2008
Diary: Technologies: AROS: There is still something i did not bothered to talk of?

(picture from ok-cancel.com)

I am not in my best condition recently.

I am a bit late in my work schedule, have an acid reflux that make me feel like having a frying pan inside my stomach, and that makes it difficult to focus on my stuff.

I just read the continuation of the goodbye therad of Dammy, ex moderator of Team Aros, in this link on Moobunny and i feel a bit discouraged.

Dammy decided to take out the frogs in the throat in a quite harsh way: will cite its words specifically:

1. Worshiping PPC as the second coming is retarded. It's a failed desktop CPU arch, get over it already. Yes, it's viable as embedded CPU SOC, but that isn't an Amiga by any stretch of the imagination. Dare I say, SOC is the anti-Amiga if I ever heard of one. Unless PPC can lead us to a $150 laptop, it's a dead end. Amiga community made a huge error and it's paying the price for failing to see where PPC was heading off to. If they can make sub $150 laptops, PPC folks should be easily be able to make $50-$75 desktop/server box. Let me further define this, I'm not completely against AROS being ported to PPC. I had finally agreed for TeamAROS to accept a bounty for an EFIKA port (and then SAM440 port) because it would open the door for more developers and possible funding by OEM It is just one of many steps that AROS needs to grow into a viable modern OS to support many archs as possible. ARM should be next to be ported.

2. Lets talk another retarded decision about worshiping 3.1 API. What really drove me away was the brain dead decisions in sticking with a elderly API. The only arch that AROS can reasonably stick with 3.1 is AROS68K because apart of that API has to do with Amiga gfx. Amiga was the fore front of OS development in it's time. C= would have changed the API by now had they survived. Deep down even you know that, I know that, everyone knows that except for the 3.1 blockheads. Yeah, AROS would have been harder for some to port 15 year old software but it's 15 year old software, get over it already. AROS needs to be here and now and ready for the future not living in the past before it was even born! Cargo cultism at it's finest. If I absolutely had to run a old Amiga program, I would run it in UAE. Bill Gates has won, AROS is crippled.


By the way, Dammy is scrupolous in point the NON-developers as guilty on the fully featured 3.1. API compatibility: probably lots of them are notalgic people that strive for a "full immersive" AROS experience at the level of the old Amiga os to revive the "magic" and wake up from a 15 year long nightmare.

In my own, i really hope that AROS will accomplish the full 3.1 API compatibility soon and also hope that the goal will be a new start, not simply the end of line: honestly i don't care if we will reach the point where API needs to be broken in order to add new functionalities as protected memory and old applications might need to be sandboxed [run in a sealed memory area in order not to bring the system down with them in case of crash: the name comes from the sand box in the kids playplace] to run.

Well, not too much things to comment about: the AROS world, so as the actual Amiga/MorphOS world is a bit sleepy, like a country town: a lot of stuff are homebrew and made under the hood: to see how the engine is actually built and things are progressing helps a lot to be subscribed in some developers mailing list.

Sometimes we have nice bursts: the debuto of the Sam440 version, the new nightly builds that now are supporting GRUB 2, guaranteeing a better compatibility and let the system boot even from SFS partitions not only FFS; the EFIKA port where Yakumo9275 and Michael Schultz are working on parallel; the interesst for AROS from the Natami project developers, which should bring finally at a 68k platform port for AROS, and i already see the bounty assigned to bheron, but have no idea who this guy is: info anyone?.

So, in this small town the atmosphere brings to clash egos and well estabilished habits, in  the form we already know such as allthe usual arguments, missed implementations and integral convinctions on fighting between the different Amiga OS-like incarnations.

I don't think to be immune from it, would be superbous sayng so, buit at least i try to have a better real world oriented mindset toward the topic.

Might be that both me and Paolo Besser (just become a father so my congratulations) are ,in different ways working and struggling to make AROS grow beside the simple hobbyist operating system, as some of its own developers think still about: we are convinced that the Amiga architecture still has a very noticeable potential, especially in some hobbyist sectors, as support tool: since not all uses of an OS require protected memory and other advanced features, there is a way to increase the userbase beside the ex-amiga user and occasional developer/lurker: think in example at HAM-radio, at music sequencing software with MIDI enabled trackers and other open source software as audacity.

As I said on this thread (in italian) on Amigapage.it:

I see interesting openings especially for those hobbyist fields in which people prefer to focus more on the computer as help than as an additional instrument to be handled and tuned apart from the rest: i remember some applications for HAM radio on amiga, some lighting software (and i remember sources were released some time ago) and for other DIY sectors where is not required to have a fully modern operating system, needs to be simple to be used and configured and, considered that viable alternatives for those people are, for now windows or linux: both quite bloated and/or difficult to be configured/maintained and both requiring quite powerful hardware and a good amount of RAM: unlike those, AROS looks perfect: is lightweight, can be used in fairly old machines and is easy to handle.

Well, beside this, what else I did not bothered to write on? About Rapid Application Development tools to help the development of applications, something which all amiga flavours but specially AROS are lacking: for AOS 4 we had the no longer supported ADV, so some developers are trying fo till the gap. One of the developers of AROS, gianfranco "Shinkuro" Gignina, asked about an opinion on this kind of tools show a partial disagreement:

I personally find automatic GUI creator tools as something discrete for beginners and professionals on deadline. In some other cases I consider the automatic GUI generation tools a sort of gambling, which I would not use for serius programming.... i might add some real life example as Visual C#, that, when you use the tools does links and instantiate all GUI elements in one method, something that, once referred to OOP programming, based on extension and inheritance looks at least obscene....

..and not to forget that on Amiga Programming, the tool code and the GUI code cannot be separated as in more modern operating systems as cited by Shinkuro in this other thread:

There is no complete OOP API set on Amiga, that has been done only the GUI so far.
The Frying Pan author, to make its own life easier and transfer code faster between Amiga OS flavours, created this:
http://sourceforge.net/projects/amiga-generic/

I think the link above might be quite interesting but, since has been released under GPL 2 license, i personally have no idea whether there might be any problem in using it iside AROS, maybe can be used for applications, and not for OS components...

It is also not possible, IMHO, to divide the GUI development thread from the GUI usability thread, that are actually the pain-in-the-bottom of most open source projects; some recent and less recent studies and considerations here and here let us know how the base problem is sometimes coming from the open-source environment nature itself (this is mainly related to linux operating systems, by the way) and the fact that coders does lack the skills - a subset not easy to achieve - to build usable interfaces.
 It is not completely their fault: writing an usable application requires nontrivial efforts and sometimes an application has to be designed to be usable since scratch. Plus usability is not an unniversal rule, is something that is quite subjective: what is usable for a developer is non usable from a graphic artist and vice versa plus what might be usable for those two categories might be hard to understand if not completely usuitable for an average user...

In the closed source world software usability on an OS is ruled by interface guidelines (something that GNOME and lately KDE started to adopt too) and improved by tests and feedback from users: - for what is concerning the first one, related to AROS, Shinkuro proposed an Interface Guideline reference on the developer list to improve the existing 3.1 guidelines, with not too much success so far;
-the latter one instead is undoubtely expensive, therefore hard to be put on practice from an open source project if not backed up from some capital: lately i learned about the existence of an open source usability project:  openusability.org, maybe can be useful.

Another problem for the open source application usability is the subculture hacker environment where some of the developers grew up: a very closed environment, almost a sect in which the initiation ritual is to understand and master the operating system and its application, deep to the inner workings an ddo the leap from "luser" to "l337": that might give an hint about the still scarce desktop penetration of linux: those topics are part of the bread-and-butter of the linux haters blog, and also this older but still interesting article shows how the supposed "lack of respect for the fial user" might be reconducted sometimes in the well-known for amiga users ego clash and its consequences, not alone the "leaving the playfield bringing all the toys with him" bad attitude that killed or hamed badly old software projects, including poseidon and MUI, instead of give the community the possibility to mantain and make grow opening the source: i know tihs is personal decision  matter but sometimes the reasons to screw up projects are so trivial or inconclusive that might sound like tantrums.

I hope to give a nice help to developers willing to improve software usability in linking this usable software small handbook from joelonsoftware.com: not to be considered an all-in-one course but a good start to improve the development method.
TECNOLOGIE
17 luglio 2008
Diary: Technologies: AROS: Guess i did not got this Open Source thing yet?
[This article translated in a latter time]
Originally published in July 17,2008

[EDIT: Aobut KDE 4 and on how final users are acting and expecting as consumers is also mentioned here.]

The latter interventions on it.comp.os.amiga here (google translated), concerning the coming soon Amiga os 4.1 and the recent discussions shown on linuxhaters blog here and on linux.com here makes me consider on how probably i misunderstood badly the motivations behind ther open source movement: I always thought at social motivations as the need for computing tools for who cannot afford to get a closed source operating system or applications, i thought about humanitary and non-profit organizations support, learning and start-up tools for third world and underdeveloped countries, beside the intentions to disconnect the IT from the traditional software and OS industry, the knowledge share and the opening of algorythms and libraries available to everybody for any purpose, without the need to quit the project or being forced in pay royalties for quite banal algorythms.

Maybe am still too naive and idealist: it is sure that, once somebody reach an age close to 40, having a reality check is quite painful ot handle than when young.

And i can also understand the hatred of linux hater and the strong frustration of the newcoming linux and AROS developers, to mention a project which am emotionally tied at.

Things as reading here on how
TECNOLOGIE
15 aprile 2008
Diary: Technologies: AROS: some more or less friendly constatations
[This article translated in a latter time]
Originally published in April 15,2008



I don't know about you all, but personally i admit ot be a bit of idealist, maybe even some more than a bit...

Especially for what I think should be my idea about the fact that there should exist free or low cost software resources for hobbyist and small enterprise usage, able to offer an adequate formation and professional results, once known how and where to put the hands in.

And am an idealist also when i find myself i supporting open source operating systems, such as
AROS, ReactOS, Haiku and Linux hoping in future to have free desktop environments, that canbe used even in old hardware to make it be proficiently usable longer; to better understand iths keep in mind a larger picture, not just the average consumer of the western developed countries: we still have more than half the planet without decent if any informatic infrastructure (and even without more basic infrastrctures such as water, roads,etc), and even at a local level for low income people that need to use a computer, nowadays almost required; then the non-profit organisations, churches, parishes, schools, government agencies and starting-up professional with low budget: in all those fields the use of free operating systems helps to cut costs that, especially in my home country , are quite high.

So, while I admit that, since i belong to those people without a big wallet full of money, that have a bit of personal interest in it, and my conscience bother me that I should maybe donate a bit of money in some AROS bounties, while my wife makse me think how going out to dinner in some place more sophisticated than "el pollo loco" might be out of question...

Then, when i see articles like the one below, my mind start to take unexpected directions...

Blog of Helios - Return from the Mountain

This article comes from one of my favourite blogs: Helios is a determinated and convinced linux user and Evangelist (but still quite pragmaticand down to earth, not freetardish), involved also in humanytary efforts - such as provide refurbished linux installed PCs to low-income student kids - and who wrote nice articles on computing ignorance such as this.

But let's get straight to the point: in the article linked above, Helios is talking on how the Desktop Linux for the linux foundation - according at least from the Austin Convention where he was invited guest - or at least the consumer desktop linux is not a priority.

And, for somebody nivolved as him in evengelizing people on be aware about free alternatives on expensive proprietary OSes with serious security flaws when used on internet and that puts limitations in using programs, devices and the use itself of the computer (think iTunes and DRMs) is a bad hit.

So far the desktop linux is not yet ready for the average user - no mention a basic user - but,  among all  open osurce operating systems, is the closest one to be.

 Other systems, including my favourite AROS, have still a quite long way to go.

In the following days the situation was more defined: looks like the foundation prefer to use resources in the most economical rewarding sectors than in the much less remuneraring single desktop sector. Therefore any further innovation in the desktop environment will pass through the server/corporate where, unless somebody starts to put linux machines on employee's desks, desktop innovations are muich less necessary: usually linux admins use much more command lines than user interfaces, that is obvious.


So i thought: if AROS was not still a work in progress and had already some productivity software available, might have been a good occasion to introduce it as a new open source paradygm. But progress is slow, and AROS is taken on more as hobby than a real alternative, hoping that things change.

BTW, even Linux used to be like that in the beginning, but you see where is it now...


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