Author Topic: Closed source parts of eComStation  (Read 25794 times)

Fr4nk

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Re: Closed source parts of eComStation
« Reply #45 on: January 19, 2014, 12:19:57 pm »
Quote
Four developers work on OS/4 kernel for years.

Yes, and they are 4 developers who are wasting their time,

IMHO those 4 developers can spend their time working on whatever they choose to and are interested in. They're doing what they're doing for free.


True! Nobody can be forced to do anything in his spare time. And nobody should blame them for what they doing. There is no reason to be angry or rude. But it doesn't change the fact that >4GB RAM doesn't solve any single issue as long as we have no software that uses this amount of RAM and as long we have tons of cheaper basic problems. 4GB RAM limit is at the moment a theoretic problem. But we (people doing work with eCS and don't use it as a playground beside 2 other systems) have problems in practice here and now. To name these problems it not to blame these 4 developers but maybe to change the mind of people who are responsible for eCS development. The basic question is: should eCS be a system for 'i need always latest high end hardware' junkies or for users and productivity.

Quote from: Alex Taylor
The problem is that the hardware cycle is really too short for that to work.  Apple could do it because they controlled the hardware specifications (which they were influential enough to do even at their weakest).

The turnaround time for a particular system model is AFAIK on the order of 3-6 months.  That's just not enough time to develop the driver support, QA it and release before the system is obsoleted by the next model.

That's true! But you have exactly the same problem when you try to make it fit to all (or to a wide range) of hardware. Of course it would be easier to focus on less hardware. ' latest hardware' junkies will be switch to other systems anyway which course we take.

And there is always hardware which is available for longer time. E.g. I'm using at work a board from 2010 which is still available.





Doug Bissett

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Re: Closed source parts of eComStation
« Reply #46 on: January 19, 2014, 10:03:01 pm »
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IMHO those 4 developers can spend their time working on whatever they choose to and are interested in.

True, but I still think they are wasting their time. Breaking the 4 GB barrier is not the thing that will save eCS (OS/2).

ECS must be usable, today, with the limited software that is already available. It is very quickly becoming unusable because far too many basic things are not working (modern WiFi, Bluetooth, disks larger than 2 TB, WLAN, USB 3,0). If a user needs one, or more, of those features, they must go elsewhere. Once they do that, it is highly unlikely that they will ever come back. 4 knowledgeable programmers could make a huge difference, if they worked on the immediate problems, and put things like breaking the 4 GB barrier on the back burner for a while. If they don't do that, by the time they get the 4GB thing worked out (including making some software that might actually use it), there  won't be enough eCS users left to care.

Quote
And there is always hardware which is available for longer time. E.g. I'm using at work a board from 2010 which is still available.

The problem with that approach, is that it is impossible to tell what hardware will stay around for a while (the manufacturers would never tell, and if you happen to pick something that has problems, you are stuck with it). It is also not going to help to bring back those who left, or encourage anybody to switch from some other OS. It is bad enough that they have to PAY for eCS, when Linux is free, never mind have to buy an obsolete computer (all computer equipment is obsolete by the time it hits the store shelves), with, possibly, difficult to find peripherals, just to be able to run this expensive option. The main advantage to using a small "supported" hardware base, is that those who really care, can usually spot clearance sales for those devices that actually work.

The only possible way to make a small number of "supported" hardware actually workable, would be to buy a couple of hundred identical systems, put them on the shelf until everything works, then try to sell them preloaded with eCS. That would be financial suicide for anybody who wanted to try it. Apple gets away with it because they buy parts by the thousands, and they have a big team of programmers to get the parts working in a timely manner, so the systems don't sit there for a couple of months, before they can be sold. Most knowledgeable eCS users are very careful about what they buy anyway, but it is usually impossible to determine what does work, and what doesn't work, until you try it. After you try it, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to exchange the device, or return it, so then you need to make the decision about what to do next. Sometimes problems get fixed in short order, but more often, it takes at least 6 months (more typically a year) to get problems fixed. I have noted that problems that don't get fixed within a year, hardly ever get fixed, although it does happen when enough people beat on Mensys.

Virtual machines are also touted as being an option. True, they are, but then the user is presented with the problem of deciding which OS to use for each program. There are a few OS/2 only programs that are cherished by many users, but something like Firefox will be available in the host system, usually more up to date, and with fewer problems, than using Firefox in OS/2. All of those programs that have been ported from the host system, will also work better in the host system. Suddenly, OS/2 becomes a small part of the big picture, and as the user learns more about the host system, they find newer programs that work just as well, so they switch, simply because it is easier than trying to keep a virtual machine going.

IMO, the only answer is to put as many resources as possible, into keeping eCS up to date, and working on as much new hardware as possible. Doing that will prolong the life of the product, but it certainly will not stop it from dying, eventually (all good things come to an end, when something better comes along). If eCS is not kept up to date, it will die faster, simply because it won't be usable. The trick is to make priorities, and don't worry about those things that are not needed immediately. Things like the 4 GB barrier will eventually work their way to the top of the list, if OS/2 survives that long, but ignoring things like modern WiFi, will kill it faster, and that will make working on the 4 GB barrier (and other things like that) entertaining, but a total waste of time.

The only other option, that I can think of, would be for somebody to win a BIG lottery, and turn most of the money over to OS/2 development. Even then, it is unlikely that IBM, or Microsoft, would take on the job, and it would likely take one of them to get it done in a timely manner (not to mention that about half of the money would need to be used for legal fees, to be sure that the job gets done properly).

Fr4nk

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Re: Closed source parts of eComStation
« Reply #47 on: January 20, 2014, 05:32:16 pm »
Doug,

I don't agree. 5 systems are less than all systems. Less hardware combinations to support is less work than to support all. Thats pretty easy.  When you support all you also support these 5 I would like to support. So all problems to support only 5 systems are at all systems inclusive. All arguments against a support of a small set of hardware are still there when you develop for all or a wide range of hardware.

To support less systems but right would be much better than support a a lot of systems half.

Another point: I talked with the ACPI developer some months ago and asked him if it helps when he had the hardware he develops for close to him at his working place. I suggested that we send him a computer and then he could make ACPI working really great and full featured on this computer. He agreed!  (we didn't send the computer but that's another story...)

To support a special hardware a company could invest 300 bucks for the computer and the driver developer gets this machine. He can test his work with direct access. Any doubts that that would be very helpful?

But for now if you ask Mensys about a working hardware you might not get an answer.

Btw I don't say this solves all problems and brings all old os2 users back. This wont happen. Maybe it could save the status quo.


Doug Bissett

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Re: Closed source parts of eComStation
« Reply #48 on: January 20, 2014, 06:32:02 pm »
Quote
I don't agree. 5 systems are less than all systems. Less hardware combinations to support is less work than to support all. Thats pretty easy.

I think we will need to disagree.  :)

You can say "5 systems", but those 5 systems may not be available everywhere, so then you need to substitute the nearest 5 systems that may be available in the US, Europe, and Asia. So, now you have 15 machines to support. It is probably true that they will all be similar, but you don't know that until you test them all (if you can get all of them to the developer). So, you spend a month collecting, and analyzing them, and developing the code for them (it will likely be closer to two months). Then, you need to do some serious testing, to be sure that every one of them works properly. Okay, now you are at least 2 (probably 3) months into the project, you decide that those are the machines to use, so you publicize what the user needs to get. They delay for a month, to decide what to do. By that time, most, if not all, of those machines will not be available (if the user is lucky, they will be on clearance sales). Now what do you do? Well, you start over, and the same thing happens again. There is no guarantee that the next model released by the manufacturers will even be similar to the old model, never mind the same.

Limiting the number of supported systems is a self defeating project, and as you do agree, it will not encourage new users, and it will not encourage old users to return. It may be necessary, eventually, to go that way, but I suspect that it will just encourage more users to look at other alternatives.

I don't know what the answer is. There are not enough active developers left to do what needs to be done, and not enough users are participating in what is being done. Your idea to send the developer a machine, is a good one, but I suspect that there are legal complications to doing that, if the machine needs to cross borders. It is also only one machine, which may open the door to making many more machines work, or whatever gets developed may apply only to that machine. You don't know that, until it is released for further testing. You probably don't even know that all of the parts in any 5 machines will be the same. So, you send one to the developer, he gets it working perfectly, then you find out that the other 4 have something different. Now what?

It all comes down to two problems:
1) There are not enough developers working on the problems.
2) There is not enough money to pay other developers to work on the problems.

To get back on topic: Worrying about getting open source replacements for bits of OS/2 that are not causing serious trouble today (the kernel), or will take a huge amount of development time (WPS), simply distracts from the immediate problem (OS/2 is quickly becoming unusable, for the average user). Most of the missing parts are probably not that hard to develop (USB 3.0, Bluetooth, etc.), if somebody has the time to do it. Each one of them is another nail in the coffin, and they can be open sourced, if the developer wishes to do it that way, but they must be done soon.

Martin Iturbide

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Re: Closed source parts of eComStation
« Reply #49 on: January 20, 2014, 08:57:41 pm »
...what it is going to save OS2-eCS?

I don't know for sure, but I still insist that open source is the only path I know to save it.

We need to became first open source. Any driver, DLL, exe, documentation, WPS classs, that is open source will add up to that path. We need to be independent from IBM, Serenity and Mensys. Once we reach the independence for the platform, we can start building an ecosystem with individuals/companies selling support, software and services. Instead of what we see today, individuals/companies trying to squeeze the last cents of this community/market with more close source software.   

That why, no matter if it takes us 10 or 20 years, open source should be the path.

Open source it is not salvation, it is only the path, but the we, the community, on a group effort, are the only ones that can save this platform. We need to grow the community and walk the open source path for the benefit of the group.

Don't expect miracles from IBM, Serenity, Mensys or XUE. We are the only ones left.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2014, 08:59:54 pm by Martin Iturbide »
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Fr4nk

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Re: Closed source parts of eComStation
« Reply #50 on: January 22, 2014, 09:59:57 am »
Open Source is fine - you are doing a nice job here to collect the code.

But more important are the people behind. Software can also be successful as closed source as along as the software has not been abandoned. If software can't be Open Source (e.g. maybe the Sundial applications) it would be really nice if it could be maintained as closed source by a group of people.

There are several examples where a single developer or a group keeps / kept  things running. A good example was the ProNews development taking over a closed source program in supported charity ware. An annoying example is PMMail which binds the license on a membership on a club.

Also on Open Source usually only few people (or one man) are working. That's the situation today.
 
And of course you need users doing tests and report bugs. Actually we have a lot of ports which are completely untested.

To have both, people at development and user side we need to keep the basic things running like standard software and basic hardware at first. If users and developers leave then the system dies and we have a big graveyard of open source software.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2014, 10:03:13 am by Fr4nk »

Dave Yeo

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Re: Closed source parts of eComStation
« Reply #51 on: January 22, 2014, 04:36:33 pm »
Other potential problems with some open source licenses such as the GPL is when the source does get lost. Suddenly can have a nice working binary which can not be distributed. I've come across this situation a couple of times, once did get the author to re-license.
There is also the problem with the GPL not being compatible with so many other open source licenses. I used to build and distribute glinks. Thought everything was good as all the libraries were open source with the source code available on Hobbes, where I was uploading. Turned out I had been breaking the GPL as I was linking OpenSSL to the binary. There are a lot of licenses which while open, are not compatible with the GPL, especially v2 and many a developer uses GPL without thought besides the fact that everyone is using it.
One solution is multiple licenses such as Mozilla uses, GPL, LGPL and MPL, take your pick.

Doug Bissett

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Re: Closed source parts of eComStation
« Reply #52 on: January 22, 2014, 06:40:25 pm »
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An annoying example is PMMail which binds the license on a membership on a club.

This needs to be clarified. OS2VOICE is dedicated to supporting OS/2, in all of it's forms. OS2VOICE bought the OS/2 source, for PMMail, and has taken on the job of rebuilding it (100% volunteer). There is a ONE TIME charge (equivalent to one, one year membership in OS2VOICE) that is charged by having the OS2VOICE member (you do need to be a member) pay an extra yearly membership (that was done to simplify accounting, and avoid having to pay for another way to collect the money). OS2VOICE also needs to have perks to entice users to pay yearly memberships, however, the PMMail license is a one time, lifetime, thing. If a user fails to renew their membership, the license is still good. Oh yeah, the purchase of the program source, included a restriction that OS2VOICE has 100% ownership of the OS/2 version of PMMail, however, they have no rights to port it to other platforms. That does mean that it cannot be licensed using anything like GPL. The license is fixed by the purchase restrictions.

Currently, there is ONE programmer working on it, part time, with a couple of others who sometimes make contributions. It has proven to be an enormous, time consuming, task. Any programmers who might be interested are invited to apply.

Now, you also need to realize, that OS2VOICE is a non-profit organization. Membership fees (including what is paid for PMMail), is used to support the OS2VOICE infrastructure (servers etc.). Any left over funds (apparently considerable) are donated to various OS/2 projects (obviously not advertized enough).

It is another case of too few people, and too much work, but it is being done. It is also another case where a good program (which never should have worked, in the first place - apparently, the code was horrible) has been saved from the dust heap of history. The source is not exactly "open source", but it has been preserved, and could be open sourced, if the purchase license can be changed to allow it. Meanwhile, funds from PMMail are supporting other OS/2 projects.

Fr4nk

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Re: Closed source parts of eComStation
« Reply #53 on: January 22, 2014, 08:17:24 pm »
Well we had this discussion about the PMMail license 2 or 3 times last years and to be honest I'm tired to repeat it. Just one point or a summary: they could sell a license as it is just like a license without a membership to whatever. There should be no need to subscribe to something else no matter how holy or great it is. So I'm still using PMMail 2.2 and here and then a demo of v3 to test some things. I just write this that hopefully I never see that kind of license again on my life.  ;)

Btw, nothing against the developer.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2014, 08:21:36 pm by Fr4nk »

Fr4nk

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Re: Closed source parts of eComStation
« Reply #54 on: January 22, 2014, 08:19:05 pm »
Good point Dave!


One solution is multiple licenses such as Mozilla uses, GPL, LGPL and MPL, take your pick.

Or just the good old PUBLIC DOMAIN.

Doug Bissett

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Re: Closed source parts of eComStation
« Reply #55 on: January 22, 2014, 10:10:30 pm »
Quote
So I'm still using PMMail 2.2 and here and then a demo of v3 to test some things. I just write this that hopefully I never see that kind of license again on my life.

Your loss. PMMail (for OS/2 - the previous owner still owns the windows version) is owned by OS2VOICE and is made available as a bonus for their members. If you don't want to be a member of OS2VOICE, you cannot buy PMMail. It has nothing, at all, to do with the license for PMMail, it is simply the method that OS2VOICE uses to regain what they paid for it, and to be able to support PMMail, and other OS/2 projects, as well as provide a bonus for members (who paid for the source in the first place). In other words, PMMail is a commercial product, that is for sale to those who support OS/2 by being a member of OS2VOICE.

I would note, that this is one of the few ways that users can financially support OS/2, and you may see a similar license, if OS2VOICE does the same thing with another program (not currently planned, AFAIK). I will mention again, that this was the only way to obtain the source for PMMail, and the source came with restrictions that prohibit making it open source, or porting it to other platforms. If OS2VOICE had not done that, PMMail 2.x would still be as usable as it has ever been (which is becoming less, and less, as new server features show up, not to mention that it could no longer be purchased), however OS2VOICE has added performance, reliability, and features to support new servers. It is well worth the cost (even if you do need to buy a membership), and you should remember that  the old PMMail was also a "pay for it", closed source, program. So nothing has changed, except who gets the money, and where that money ends up.

Is it "perfect"? Of course not. You cannot make that many changes, to fix things, without breaking things along the way. At least they usually get fixed, when the problem is identified, reported, and possible to fix. There are a number of problems still outstanding, waiting for a couple of major updates, that haven't got to the top of the list yet. Again, we see time, and personnel, restrictions on what can be done.

Fr4nk

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Re: Closed source parts of eComStation
« Reply #56 on: January 22, 2014, 10:28:22 pm »
I know Doug - that is exactly what I said (or at least meant - maybe my english is too bad). I know very good how this license works. The membership bundle is a decision by VOICE - and it sucks!

There is no reason to sell PMMail with a club membership. It could be sold by VOICE without a membership just like any other commercial software.

Maybe you got me wrong. I have no problem with commercial software. I would buy it but I wont apply to a club to get an email application. My loss like you said. I think this needs no further discussion.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2014, 10:30:13 pm by Fr4nk »

Martin Iturbide

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Re: Closed source parts of eComStation
« Reply #57 on: January 23, 2014, 02:28:06 am »
I don't disagree that there is good close source software. But I prefer open source software because:
1) When the main developer goes out of business, anybody that cares can continue the development.
2) When the main developer quits the product and move to other direction, anybody that cares can continue the development.
3) When the main developer passes away, anybody that cares can continue the development.
4) When the main developer goes crazy and tries to lead to you to a wrong direcction, anybody can fork the project and continue in other direction.
5) When the main developer don't want to do an improvement, anybody that cares can collaborate can help to improve the project.

....and with all that possibilities, you can also make money (check out how RedHat had made money with Linux and is GNU GPL and open source) but you had to switch from selling licenses to offer services/support.

Open source reduces the risk and helps to maintain the continuity of the platform. Sure, we need developers, but open source is the legal path that helps developers to create derivative works.

Or just the good old PUBLIC DOMAIN.

I like public domain, but remember that this license means that any derivative work can be open source or close source, plus you do not necessary give credits to the original author.  On very liberal cases I also like the BSD 3 Clauses which gives credit to the authors, it gives no responsibility to malfunction (AS IS) and easy to read.

Corporations like Apache or the eclipse licenses one that allows to create derivative works as close source, so they can give you a basic core as open source, and a full product as close source.

But I started to like the GNU GPL which is a copyleft license. It forces the developer of any derivative works to make the source code under the same conditions (GNU GPL). At the end that is what allowed Linux to snowball and keep growing.  If your focus is the community, ensure that the software will be open in the future, and don't care about future corporative benefits,  GNU GPL is a good choice.

But I'm ok with any OSI approved license.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2014, 02:45:15 am by Martin Iturbide »
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Martin Iturbide

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Re: Closed source parts of eComStation
« Reply #58 on: January 23, 2014, 02:41:08 am »
..and focusing in my crazy idea to start cloning OS/2 from "Top to Down", over eCS or Warp 4.52,  I think we need to evolve this three projects to turn it into full replacements.

1) Presentation Manager Clone - FreePM - BSD License
2) System Object Model (SOM) - SOMFree - GNU GPL and LGPL V3
3) Workplace Shell  - XWorkplace - GNU GPL V2 and other WPS software

Sadly, none of this projects are active enough to evolve into a complete replacement, but at least they will work a the base to walk on this direction.

Today I also found out that there is an initiative in KickStarter to create a cloud "distro" of ReactOS. I'm just amazed to see how ReactOS has cloned Windows 32bits, anybody may complain that it is not perfect clone, but you had to acknowledge how far they have reached being a community without a strong technology sponsor.
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Dave Yeo

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Re: Closed source parts of eComStation
« Reply #59 on: January 23, 2014, 05:27:41 am »

Or just the good old PUBLIC DOMAIN.

The problems with Public Domain are that some countries do not allow licencing as public domain and there has been cases of organizations copyrighting public domain stuff and closing it. To a lesser degree there has also been problems with people re-licencing BSD stuff as GPL and restricting the active branch.
One thing about licences such as BSD, it's great if you want something to be a standard. Examples include the TCP/IP stack which allowed the Internet to flourish and zlib where compression is standardized across platforms.