The sound of empire falling

I predicted years ago that what would eventually do Microsoft in was white-box PC makers defecting because they needed to claw back profit margin as the Windows license became the largest single item in their bills of material.

And here’s the confirmation I’ve been awaiting: Microsoft Missing Netbook Growth as Linux Wins Sales. The boring biz-journalism headline is guarding some startling facts.

Nov. 6 (Bloomberg) — Small laptops are becoming a big problem for
Microsoft Corp.’s Windows business. [...] Acer Inc. and Asustek
Computer Inc., which together account for 90 percent of the netbook
market, are using the rival Linux software on about 30 percent of
their low-cost notebooks.

30% is significant share, well above the single-digit range that desktop Linux has been stuck in for the last decade and larger than ISVs can afford to ignore. And it’s hitting Microsoft’s bottom line:

The devices, which usually cost less than $500, are the
fastest-growing segment of the personal-computer industry — a trend
that’s eating into Microsoft’s revenue. Windows sales fell short of
forecasts last quarter and the company cut growth projections for the
year, citing the lower revenue it gets from netbooks.

The phrase “sales fell short of forecasts” is deadlier than it sounds. The profitability of Microsoft’a businesses is consistently poor outside of the core OS and office products; their ability to sustain a broad product strategy and frequent acquisitions against investor pressure has been dependent on their ability to deliver figures indicating smooth sales and revenue growth in the core business. If investors stop trusting that guidance, Microsoft’s room to maneuver (for example, by moving further into software-as-a-service businesses) will be sharply limited.

Later in the article we learn that Microsoft has cut its forecasts of Windows growth for the rest of 2008 to 2% from 9%, effectively flat. Investors had already been taking a warning:

The stock has declined 41 percent this year.

Microsoft has fought back against the tide of netbooks by talking netbook manufacturers into making XP available on products initially designed to run Linux. But it has fallen far short of its obvious goal, which is to drive Linux netbooks off the market entirely. This in turn suggests that waving the big stick didn’t work and Microsoft had to settle for dangling carrots, probably buying share with
discounts.

Linux, equipped in 30 percent to 40 percent of Eee PCs sold, will
probably sustain a market share of about 30 percent, said Samson Hu, a
general manager at Asustek. The company estimates it will ship at
least 5 million Eee PCs in 2008 after selling about 4 million since
the product’s debut. [...] Acer, which is aiming to sell 5 million to 6
million AspireOne laptops this year, estimates that Linux-equipped
models account for about 20 percent of its shipments,

That will be at least four million netbooks running Linux by year’s end. The truly deadly news, however, is at the end of the article:

Equipping Linux on a computer costs about $5, compared with $40 to $50
for XP and about $100 for Vista, according to estimates by Jenny Lai,
a Taipei-based analyst at CLSA Ltd. [...] “The engineers designing
computers understand that if they want to cut costs, the only way to
do so is to get rid of Microsoft,” IDC’s Chang said.

When even financial analysts are figuring this out, you can bet Microsoft is already in deep trouble.

Among other things, it is effectively certain that the netbook makers have already used the threat of Linux to bargain Microsoft down to price parity with Linux, though each one doubtless has a signed-in blood agreement not to discuss it in public and the price drop may be disguised as bulk discounts or rebates for marketing support. The initial threat to Redmond’s monopoly from Linux-only products put Microsoft’s nuts in a vise; there is no way the netbook makers, operating on the tight margins they do, would miss the opportunity to extract equally favorable terms of business.

This means that Microsoft’s per-sale revenue on netbook XP licenses has probably dropped by at least a factor of 10 relative to what it makes on PCs. That’s a hell of a margin hit, and as netbooks displace a larger slice of traditional PC sales it’s going to get worse. And we can count on that happening; what we’re seeing here is a classic disruption-from-below of the PC market, just as PCs disrupted workstations and minis in the early 1990s.

There’s another problem. Vista is so dead that Microsoft is already touting its successor “Windows 7″. Not end-of-lifing XP on schedule means they’ll actually have to support three different operating systems for at least the years until Windows 7 ships, and some time afterward. Even Microsoft is going to feel the strain, and ISVs are likely to play safe by writing to the minimum (XP) specification.

Netbooks also put Microsoft in a strategic bind about its future product direction. For System 7 to be lean enough to run on netbooks, it will have to give up backward compatibility with Vista and many of Vista’s features. That means that at the same time Microsoft’s profit margins are being hammered, it will lose a significant portion of its application base.

Fundamentally, what’s going on here is that Microsoft, long used to effective monopoly and to the profit margins and strategic maneuvering room monopoly brings, is losing all three of those. Microsoft is no longer a price-maker; the hardware manufacturers hold the whip hand now, and all they have to do to beat Redmond into making ever less money per sale is to push Linux harder.

Until relatively recently, Microsoft had good prospects for buying itself maneuvering room simply due to cash hoard in the neighborhood of 60 gigabucks; Bill Gates used to boast that he could run Microsoft for five years of zero revenue with the money in his piggybank. But that’s gone, now; they spent it on acquisitions and stock buybacks. Which still haven’t kept the stock from dropping 41% in 2008. So they’re running out of options.

There are only two ways for this game to end. One is with the visible collapse of Microsoft’s monopoly in new systems, but allowing it to retain price levels on a niche market of PCs running legacy applications. The other is with Microsoft bargaining its own margins away to retain netbook market share and collapsing when its reduced run rate can no longer sustain new-product development.

122 thoughts on “The sound of empire falling

  1. Not sure I’d describe PCs running desktop applications as a “niche market” any time soon. But this is a very good sign.

    Also a plus, from the other side of the table, is that Linux has evolved to the point where Aunt Tillie will tolerate running it on her laptop, as long as she doesn’t have to install it herself. (And hell, she isn’t usually willing to install Windoze upgrades either.)

    Linux is what made the netbook _category_ possible. If you upgrade your netbook’s hardware enough to enable it to run XP, it’s not really a netbook anymore, but a conventional laptop. So the fact that netbooks are a significant market segment _at all_ is a tribute to the success of Linux, even if some people do decide to shoehorn Windoze into them.

  2. Eric,

    Overall your analysis is accurate. However, I think the really interesting things that are happening are beyond the horizon of your predictions.

    First of all, Microsoft has become somewhat open source friendly. They host an OSS repo (http://www.codeplex.com). While I don’t run any projects off of that site, I have used and contributed to one of the products on their site (http://www.codeplex.com/XmlVisualizer/). They even host their OSS installer generator (WiX) on sourceforge. They seem to be moving that off of sourceforge, but mostly because the have the infrastructure for OSS software.

    Since they are now open source friendly, opening sourcing some of their products as a last ditch survival effort is now something that might get considered. You can download the . NET runtime libraries in Visual Studio for the purpose of stepping through the code. Its only a matter of time before those restrictions erode away to the point where .NET becomes OSS.

    Secondly, like the American automakers, while Microsoft is not profitable in the long term in its current configuration, it can be made profitable through radical restructuring. Some components probably won’t be profitable long term. Linux has proven that Operating systems are sunk costs. However, the extension of the XP lifespan has proven that Microsoft can curtail operating system development greatly. Office software might become a lost cause. However, their development tools and SQL server are currently worth paying for. Visual Studio is the best IDE out there. I can say that as a committer to a very excellent .NET IDE (http://www.icsharpcode.net/OpenSource/SD/). SQL server is better than anything out there besides Oracle. Postgres has a slightly better feature set in most areas, but SQL server performs better.

  3. While the pressures you describe are true enough, I’m not sure they foretell the larger negative implications you’re predicting. Perhaps if Microsoft were standing still and not populated with intelligent and competitive people. Their 4Q FY08 numbers[1] showed 18% YOY quarterly and annual revenue growths, the latter amounting to over $60 billion. And even with all those acquisitions, they’ve still got a potent $23.6 billion in cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments.

    As a developer targeting Microsoft platforms I’m aware of my bias, but I’m also not a blind cheerleader. I’m glad Microsoft is being forced to compete by this “disruption-from-below”, and I think they will (eventually) produce better products as a result. I don’t think that it will “do Microsoft in”.

    [1] http://www.microsoft.com/msft/earnings/FY08/earn_rel_q4_08.mspx

  4. The stock has declined 41 percent this year.

    This is a good sign for Microsoft. The Nasdaq composite index has gone down 50% this year, so they’re beating the market.

  5. The stock has declined 41 percent this year.

    This is a good sign for Microsoft. The Nasdaq composite index has gone down 50% this year, so they’re beating the market.

    Strike that… as of today Microsoft is also down 50% for the year. My point remains tho': the decline doesn’t tell us anything about Microsoft in particular.

  6. “You hear that Mr. Gates?… That is the sound of inevitability.” Possibly not the best quote, given what happens next, but it’s the first thing that came to mind on reading your headline. OTOH, Neo and the resistance didn’t actually win anything, if I managed to make any sense of the other two movies….

  7. It’s true for other Laptop Manufacturers. I bought a DELL Inspiron 1510 a year ago. But the first thing I did, was to replace the VISA with Ubuntu Hardy. Most of my friends did so !

  8. Hm. The move of the public image of Linux from the cracker-proof, respect-commanding Debian servers to some cheap replacement-Windows to be put on bum-notebooks purely because of the cost may be a popularity win, but from a PR point of view it’s a bit of a lose.

  9. This is exceptionally bad news from Micrsoft, considering they have been more or less successful in spreading a false ‘difficult to use’ and ‘nerdy’ picture of Linux among the first-time and novice computer users so far.

    “My 86 year old grand father (who is anything, but techno savy) is peacefully using a Ubuntu box. He started using a computer only a year back after he found it difficult to write (with pen and paper).” I expect such peer to peer messages to spread fast and effectively in the next few years courtesy the web (2.0) . The story about the grand father is by the way true!

  10. Eric, you’ve been going “Imminent Death of Microsoft Predicted!” for years now. It’s never happened and it won’t happen. Not when the return rate of Linux netbooks to Windows ones is like 3 to 1.

  11. Oops.
    My question should have read
    “What influence do you see the netbook and smartphone OS market having over the desktop OS market?”

  12. >Not when the return rate of Linux netbooks to Windows ones is like 3 to 1.

    I’d be nervous about that ratio, yeah – if both numbers weren’t so low they’re basically statistical noise.

  13. >Strike that… as of today Microsoft is also down 50% for the year. My point remains tho’: the decline doesn’t tell us anything about Microsoft in particular.

    I think it does – because Microsoft gained a lot of clout by consistently outperforming the S&P trend. If it’s merely at parity now, that means investors have effectively written off any prospect of earnings growth higher than that for the economy as a whole. For a tech-stock high-flyer this is deadly.

  14. >you state[d] the the next driving force for change in the desktop OS market would be 64 bit, due to memory allocation issues.

    It’s interesting what we got right and wrong in that paper. We got the disruption mechanism wrong, but the timing and magnitude of the market shift pretty much exactly right. I plan to blog about this at some point, because I think the netbook transition and the 64-bit transition are related in some subtle ways that nearly rescue our original thesis. Not this weekend, though; I’ll be traveling.

  15. What influence do you see the netbook and smartphone OS market having over the desktop OS market?

    Note that I’ve already covered the second part of this in my post on Why Android Matters.

  16. Jeff Read:
    >Not when the return rate of Linux netbooks to Windows ones is like 3 to 1.
    esr:
    >>I’d be nervous about that ratio, yeah – if both numbers weren’t so low they’re basically statistical noise.

    I’d like to see some sources on both of these claims. A quick search through the web found these statements:

    MSI claims that their Linux netbooks are returned four times more, MSI’s Director of U.S. Sales Andy Tung:
    “The return rate is at least four times higher for Linux netbooks than Windows XP netbooks.”
    http://blog.laptopmag.com/msi-wind-coming-to-major-retailer-new-models-coming-soon

    Gerry Carr, marketing manager at Canonical:
    “We don’t know what the XP return rates are. But I will say that the return rate is above normal for netbooks that offer open-source operating systems,”
    http://blog.laptopmag.com/ubuntu-confirms-linux-netbook-returns-higher-than-anticpated

    Then again, it seems like Asus doesn’t really think that way, ASUS CEO Jerry Shen:
    “I think the return rate for the Eee PCs are low but I believe the Linux and Windows have similar return rates.”
    http://blog.laptopmag.com/asus-ceo-reveals-eee-pc-sales-numbers-plans-for-touch-eee-pcs-and-more-eee-family-products

    An article at techradar:
    “Carphone Warehouse is to stop selling one of their Linux netbooks after the return rates went through the roof. The Elonex Webbook, which ships with Ubuntu, was taken back to the shop by 20 per cent
    of purchasers. [...] Around 60,000 of the netbooks were shipped; [...] We also put the rumour to Asus, the company behind the Eee PC. ‘We can categorically state that the rumour about returns is not correct as far as the Asus Eee PC range of netbooks is concerned. Again
    we should add that Asus, of course, cannot comment as to other manufacturers and their products who may be experiencing this ‘returns’ problem you have heard about.'”
    http://www.techradar.com/news/mobile-computing/laptops/buyers-give-thumbs-down-to-linux-netbooks-484642?src=rss&attr=all

  17. >I’d like to see some sources on both of these claims.

    I remember seeing Jeff’s 3-to-1 figure, but the same article said the Windows return rate was (I think) 1.7%. Sorry, I don’t remember where.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the rumor about 4-to-1 returns over the while market segment were deliberate FUD spread by Microsoft astroturfers. They’ve attempted similar meme hacks before, usually to little effect.

    Unfortunately, one consequence of the low-ball pricing strategy on these machines is that some vendors aren’t allocating enough engineering budget to get a decent build and then test it. So some of these integrations are going to be utter crap; I’d guess MSI’s is in that category. This will mean that the dispersion in per-product return rates across the category is high, making an average less meaningful.

  18. ewb
    Perhaps if Microsoft were standing still and not populated with intelligent and competitive people.

    Most people won’t notice the difference. Most people will see this in a different light: Microsoft never had these problems when Gates was CEO, but now with Ballmer running things Microsoft has big problems.

    If Wall Street doesn’t like your leadership, you’ll be decimated no matter how many intelligent and competitive people you employ. It may not kill Microsoft, but Microsoft is dead.

  19. > I think it does – because Microsoft gained a lot of clout by consistently outperforming the S&P trend. If it’s merely at parity now, that means investors have effectively written off any prospect of earnings growth higher than that for the economy as a whole. For a tech-stock high-flyer this is deadly.

    Where do you live? MSFT stock growth has been anemic for a long time.

    http://finance.google.com/finance?q=INDEXSP%3A.INX%2C+INDEXNASDAQ%3A.IXIC%2Cmsft

  20. >Where do you live? MSFT stock growth has been anemic for a long time.

    Hmm…I didn’t realize they’d started lagging the S&P that early. OK, I stand corrected; this year’s 41% drop is probably not meaninful.

  21. Enough with the ‘netbook’ — these machines are just as capable as a full notebook computer when running Linux, if you’re familiar enough with it. The silly name is a way for Microsoft-supporters to marginalize the hardware since MS cannot compete on this platform for long. I run a full Debian GNU/Linux with KDE4 and the thing rocks just fine for me as is, EeePC 701, 512MB RAM — the first-generation of these things, and it works great.

  22. >The silly name is a way for Microsoft-supporters to marginalize the hardware since MS cannot compete on this platform for long.

    Sssh! As Napoleon is reputed to have said, “Never interrupt your opponent when he is in the process of making a mistake.” On Microsoft’s past record, there’s a good chance they’ll be fooled by their own propaganda, especially now that the comparatively dimwitted Ballmer is running things. The more they write off “netbooks” in their own minds, the lower their odds will be of developing a successful counterstrategy before the disruption reaches its critical point and the bottom drops clean out of the conventional PC market.

  23. Comparative dimwittedness combined with ruthless aggression can be pretty dangerous. Just ask, oh, I don’t know, a citizen of any country but the USA who’s lived through the past eight years.

  24. The related interesting technological shift (coming soon?) will be a more power-efficient display than LCDs (OLED? E-paper?).

    Right now Linux works well with smallish SSD drives and low-power ARM CPUs; XP can barely manage the first, and the second, not at all. But the power savings isn’t enormous because the wireless net and LCD are eating all the power anyway. If that can be addressed then Linux devices (netbooks? some descendant of gPhone or Kindle?) will crush Windows ones on battery life and/or weight, and that’ll be that.

    OTOH, Intel seems aware of this and is trying to make more reasonable CPUs for this segment. I don’t think anybody knows yet what a decent interface would be on a system with an epaper display (1/4 second screen refresh!?); if I’m right that’ll be a key differentiator for whoever can manage it first.

  25. >esr:
    >Unfortunately, one consequence of the low-ball pricing strategy on these machines is that some vendors aren’t allocating enough engineering budget to get a decent build and then test it.

    That seems to be true but I don’t think it’s limited to low-end devices as I recall Dell selling Linux desktops which at times had problems on first boot. I’ve been using my Eeepc 701 with the default Xandros for a few months now and I’m very pleased with it but it has problems with package management.

    >lefty.crupps:
    >Enough with the ‘netbook’ — these machines are just as capable as a full notebook computer when running Linux

    At an electronics store part of a quite a big chain here in Finland I saw this text besides an Eeepc (my own translation):
    “A Linux net-device, not a real computer!”

    I think the general consensus is that a real computer is something that comes shipped with MS Windows XP. Sad, but I understand it as that’s what a monopoly of couple of decades does to applications and general opinion.

  26. @Matt:
    > If you upgrade your netbook’s hardware enough to enable it to run XP, it’s not really a
    > netbook anymore, but a conventional laptop.

    please. I type this on a EEE 1000H, and yes, it still has Windows XP on one partition. Perhaps I’ll put a SSD in it over the holiday break.

    and I own the original 7″ EEE PC, 701 its nowhere near as good a machine, and not much smaller.

    The coming onslaught of ARM and MIPS based ‘netbooks’ will be the real telling as to the public’s acceptance of linux, because both will offer a real price advantage, but can only (for now) ship with linux…. or, ya know, Android if someone got to work.

    Others have already pointed to the holes in esr’s “MSFT stock analysis”, and esr has admitted his error, so I won’t further detail same.

    Microsoft is the IBM of the 21st century. They’re at the margins in all of what is new and ‘cutting edge’, but it will be a long, long time before they’re not relevant, especially since they’re liable to adapt, post the exit of Ballmer (it has to happen eventually.)

  27. Jim Thompson Says:
    please. I type this on a EEE 1000

    WTF, Jim! I thought you were a Mac convert?

    The coming onslaught of ARM and MIPS based ‘netbooks’ will be the real telling as to the public’s acceptance of linux, because both will offer a real price advantage, but can only (for now) ship with linux…. or, ya know, Android if someone got to work

    Or Windows CE?

  28. What is this linux thing you talk about? I guess I have been too busy GETTING WORK DONE on my Apple MacBook Pro to hear about it.

  29. On terms of netbooks, I’ve not really seen much of a point. Maybe I just don’t need to haul around a computer absolutely everywhere, but I’m perfectly fine with a normal-size laptops.

    Now on point of a device as small as, say, a Nintendo DS, I’m personally holding out for one of these babies. Yeah, it’s primarily meant for games (portable Wesnoth!), but it’s more than enough power for the full version of Firefox and even OpenOffice.org.

  30. > WTF, Jim! I thought you were a Mac convert?

    The MacBook Pro is too large to carry around campus all day, and its battery life sucks compared to the eee pc.

    > Or Windows CE?

    I think WinCE already died, it just doesn’t smell bad (yet).

    > [OpenPandora]

    Won’t survive in the market against iPhone and Android-based devices. These two are going to suck the oxygen out of the air for Nintendo DS and the Portable Playstation market. Devices like OpenPandora will suffer crib death.

  31. I think the general consensus is that a real computer is something that comes shipped with MS Windows XP. Sad, but I understand it as that’s what a monopoly of couple of decades does to applications and general opinion.

    Back in the day, “real computers” were only available from IBM. DEC marketed its machines as “Programmed Data Processors” (PDPs) instead of computers, just to get a foot in the door.

  32. It’s, of course, OK to write blindly pro-Linux articles. It’s less OK, though, to consider (or “sell”) them as unbiased reflections.

    Some points against your line:

    (Front up: I strongly dislike Windows and use linux/BSD)

    – The email, browser, possibly movie and anything to write market segment is large but limited, strategically less significant and price-sensitive.
    Yet, this is one of the two markets, where linux survives or even grows in share (the other beeing server, simple).

    – Most strategically important markets are lead and held by Microsoft and, to a lesser degree, Apple.
    They have one thing in common: variety of needs and applications, complexity and price-is-less-important. A typical example would be the corporate desktop or an engineers system.
    The former typically needs inhouse or otherwise special applications, the latter even more so.

    Sure, linux can deliver the basics (e.g. think “OpenOffice”). But there are major Buts:
    Inhouse an special apps need to be written – and – business just hates bets. And there _are_ quite some bets coming along with linux.
    Just think “gui”. What do they write for ? KDE, gtk ? Whichever might turn out to be “wrong”. Even more importantly many organizations consider just the mere fact, that there is no clear standard way – linux guys call that “choice” – as a more or less absolute no-go.
    Plus:
    – they already have their apps right now under Windows. So they’re neither in a hurry, nor under pressure.

    – the “killer” factor against linux is a simple one:
    Microsoft – examplified and even beaten into our heads over and over by the word “user experience” – celebrates, rests on and has gotten that issue perfectly right: They work for users.

    Linux doesn’t.

    The typical linux app is written by smart guys who adress foremost _their_ pain, if at all. often enough – that being the 2. decisive factor – they program for the fun of it.
    This is at the same time one of the major pros for linux as it is a, if not the, major contra.

    linux comes, to say it in another way – from the other side. Where Microsoft comes from an angle like “Well, what do they (users, idiots, sheep, money-cows, whatever) want and need”, linux usually comes from the corner “See, I’ve got something here. Just change this and that, adapt some thing [cynic]and change your whole perspektive and life[cynic off] and you might have something working.

    Short, more often than not, linux offers whatever some nerds happen to have at hand, and Microsoft works towards customers/users.

    Yes, they do that technically often quite shitty/shoddy, yes they play dirty games, yes they don’t care sh** about fairness, a better world or the like. But they _do_ address their users needs.

    Metaperspectively (did I, non native english speaker, just create a new word ? *g) seen, linux is held captive in an either-or mindset. Rather than considering that everything has its good and its bad sides, they typically concentrate on (fighting) “against” (rather than “for”) and perceive e.g. “choice” as of almost messianic quality, bluntly ignoring, that choice can – and often is – the enemy of “standard”, an important value for many users.

    Actually, this shows even in this article where things happen to be seen somewhat one-sided.

    Example ?

    Yes, Microsoft lost billions and, yes, they lose some market share. But: they are still a corp with a) zillions of money and b) not few pretty bright heads.

    So, what if – just freewheeling – they decide to “support” linux or, even worse (or better ?) create their own distribution ? What would that look like ?
    Well, you bet, they settle some things, that linux discusses since years and didn’t resolve, e.g., standard paths.
    Short, they’d “windowize” that Linux Distribution. And, you know what ? I bet that within short time theirs would be, what many consider “the linux”, the one, that you find in most companies even if they sold it for, say, 50$.

    What I mean is that they can fight back. until now, they cry, shout and spread fud. God bless us, if they start to use their brains and begin to fight back !

    Let me close with another one-sided view of yours:
    Yes, those netbook producers can pull Microsofts nose, and, yes, Miscrosoft loses money on that.
    But:
    Those companies aren’t on islands; they also have competitors. And that’s sth, where Microsoft can pull strings and change balances. Or Microsoft might even decide to learn something and offer a low-end Windows for cheap money plus their Windows 7 for the rest.

    No, sir, Microsoft is still far away from going belly-up or from beeing conquered by linux. In fact, IMO linux is not yet even a serious thread. Not as long, as we’re lightyears awyy of recognizing some basic standards as a must, rather than as a funny weirdo option, not as long as we consider it kewl to be one-sided and to bluntly not give a damn about users.

    To make money out of wars you need to be either large or deadly. Linux is neither, yet many follow a war-like paradigm (“conquer the desktop”, “fight Windows”, etc). That is a rather … uh … exotic attitude, considering that not even the kernel ABI is stable.

    Thanks for your thoughts. I enjoy reading esr. :-)

  33. Jim Thompson says: The MacBook Pro is too large to carry around campus all day, and its battery life sucks compared to the eee pc.

    Oh come on! It is not that bad! I lug my 15” Macbook around in my bookbag all the time, and it is not that heavy. Binders and thick textbooks are what really kill ya. Plus, you could always try the Air. I have looked at those EEEs, and they seem much too cramped to me. I would have to hunch over to see the screen and touch-type; no thanks, I would rather use my Blackberry. To me, the bigger screen and more spread out keys more than compensate for the additional weight.

    I think WinCE already died, it just doesn’t smell bad (yet).

    Have you seen all those HTC phones out there recently? Dead my ass!

    Won’t survive in the market against iPhone and Android-based devices.

    I agree that Pandora will most likely fail, but I doubt Apple and Google will contribute much to its failure. The freetards can manage just fine on their own; Pandora (and EVO BTW) will be two more items in a long line of Linux console flops/vaporware stretching back to the Indrema.

    These two are going to suck the oxygen out of the air for Nintendo DS and the Portable Playstation market.

    ROFLMAO!!! Are . . . you . . . for . . . real? That is one of the stupidest things I have heard in a LONG TIME!!

    First of all, what feature does the iPhone have that would even give you this ridiculous notion? First, look at it. Then, tell me what you see that is a DS killer because I see jack-shit!

    Oh, I know what you are going to say. It’s a cellphone AND a gaming device! You can play Doom and get nagged by your significant other to buy groceries AT THE SAME TIME!!! Because having cellphone and gaming capabilities in one device worked out so well for the N-Gage. This argument sounds like the pathetic ones a few years back on how the XBox 360 and the PS3 would crush the Wii, since they were not just game consoles but ‘multimedia centers.’ Their ability to support DVD/BlueRay playback, audio format support, picture slideshows, etc. in addition to games would give them a leg-up over the Wii, since it was “just a game console.” My, Sony and Microsoft have trounced Nintendo so completely that you can’t even find a Wii in stores nowadays!

    The iPhone does not even support styli, so you are going to get finger smudges all over the screen you view the game with. Plus, the iPhone might suffer from insufficient screen real-estate; the DS screens may be individually smaller than the iPhone’s screen, but there are two of them fairly close together, so they give the easy illusion of one large screen.

    Now, let’s factor pricing into the equation. The DS has been priced at $130 for years now. When it debuted, the 4GB iPhone was priced at $300. The pricing for the 3G model is only $200 (not taking into account the increase contract price). This is still a difference of $70. For that price, you could buy a DS and a basic cameraphone / MP3 player and still have money left over for some games. Remember, we are not taking into account the price of contracts, so you could get a decent subsidized phone from Verizon for ‘free’, and even if we did take contracts into account, we would still come out ahead, since the iPhone 3G costs $160 more than its $300 predecessor. Ultimately, to get the impressive marketshare numbers, you have to hobnob with the proles, and this is something that Apple has never been particularly good at doing.

    Let’s not forget Pete Bessman’s words of wisdom: a platform is only as good as what runs on it. I guess Apple could make a dent in Nintendo if it really tried to, but does it make sense to try? The iPhone/iPods appeal to trendy hipsters and music lovers; these two groups are not known for any special interest in games. Plus, there is Apple’s reputation in gaming to contend with. I mean, come on, when you think of games, you think of the Apple, right?

    It may trump the PSP, but the PSP was a pile of shit from the get go.

    Regarding Android, I do not see how it could offer any DS killing features. For game developers, it does not seem to offer anything that J2ME does not already offer. If the massive number of Java-compatible mobiles (not to mention the vast number of Java games) have not even scratched the DS, what change does Android have?

    Devices like OpenPandora will suffer crib death.

    Oh, it does not look like it will be strangled in its crib. From looking at their website, it seems that some units have already been shipped to early adopters, so it is out there. It will just likely be an also-ran like the GamePark handhelds.

  34. In my last comment I said this ”
    I would have to hunch over to see the screen and touch-type; no thanks, I would rather use my Blackberry. To me, the bigger screen and more spread out keys more than compensate for the additional weight.”

    What I meant to say was this,
    “I would have to hunch over to see the screen and touch-type; no thanks, I could just as easily use my Blackberry. To me, the bigger screen and more spread out keys of a decent laptop more than compensate for their additional weight.

  35. Won’t survive in the market against iPhone and Android-based devices. These two are going to suck the oxygen out of the air for Nintendo DS and the Portable Playstation market. Devices like OpenPandora will suffer crib death.
    iPhone and Android are nowhere close to gaming platforms, NDS and PSP have no reason to fear them, they’re not even competing in the same market! Yes, OpenPandora has almost no chance against any of the primary platforms for either market, but it’s a device for a niche market, and there’s no reason it won’t do quite well for the same reasons that GP32 and GP2X did before.

    (BTW, a Quake III Arena port (the engine is open source) is being developed for it, too. Try seeing that on any of the other devices, which aren’t nearly powerful enough for such a game.)

  36. a killer design would be the eee type design moving to the dimensions of a macbook air.

  37. I bought my wife a 900A eeepc at bestbuy, the commenter above mentioning it’s crappy package management speaks the truth: in less than 24 hours I blew away the xandros with ubuntu-eee.

    Her sisters hands are smaller, so she ended up using it all the time and my wife “re-gifted” it to her (late b-day/ early x-mas) and had me buy her a black eeepc 1000HD with XP on it (mild heresy in an all linux house :-)

    Asus charges $50 extra for xp as an option on most eeepc models. Some are the same price, like the 1000HD, but the linux one has a webcam and bluetooth instead of xp.

    They both LOVE their eee’s. Normal laptops are big and bulky for small women using them around the house all the time with toddlers under foot. Seems to me it’s all men I’ve read saying they don’t get the point of the smaller form factor :-)

    Hell, I’m six-two and 264 pounds and I hate to bust out the huge HP laptop around the house after using it all day at work. This is of course being typed on my full-qwerty blackberry.

    -David

  38. Some of the commenters here are asserting that ESR draws the wrong conclusion because Microsoft will not be driven out of business. This position completely misses the point. Microsoft does not have to be driven out of business. All that the free world is looking for here is for Microsoft’s market share to drop to the point where they no longer have monopoly influence over client-side computing. We’re looking for Linux to take its rightful place as a primary, mainsteam desktop operating system, and Windows relegated to being one of several choices rather than the de-facto standard that many people currently perceive it to be. When that goal is accomplished, you’ll see open source advocates spending a lot less time talking about Microsoft because it won’t matter; we’ll be spending *all* of our time doing what it is we like to do (hacking and building great software) instead of spending a portion of our time defending our turf against a schoolyard bully.

  39. >Some of the commenters here are asserting that ESR draws the wrong conclusion because Microsoft will not be driven out of business.

    They’re not reading very carefully. one of my two end-state scenarios was for Microsoft to fortify a niche around legacy systems, rather as Sun Microsystems have done.

  40. David Mercer says:Her sisters hands are smaller, so she ended up using it all the time and my wife “re-gifted” it to her (late b-day/ early x-mas) and had me buy her a black eeepc 1000HD with XP on it (mild heresy in an all linux house :-)

    Is your Blackberry running Linux?

    Hell, I’m six-two and 264 pounds and I hate to bust out the huge HP laptop around the house after using it all day at work. This is of course being typed on my full-qwerty blackberry.

    Why would you then want to bust out the slightly less huge EEE? Why not just use the Blackberry for everything? This is my main problem with these tiny-ass netbooks. They are too small to do useful typing on (unless you have midget hands), but they are too big to fit in your pocket or (comfortably) hold up to your ear to converse with someone.

  41. Mr.Raymond! As you might have noticed,some countries with relatively big populations (take Persia [Iran] for example with a 70+ million ) are not part of the WTO.Therefore copyright laws are less practiced and consequently lots of specially IGNORANT people are users of free [I mean cracked] softwares of any kind which would cost them a lot otherwise.They can get a cracked copy of Vista for 1$ from a local store[although they can not get any direct tech support from Microsoft later on ] and are happy with user-friendliness and the low price.Keeping in mind the Linux-takeover prediction of yours,[in your opinion] is there any chance Linux [and Unix like operating systems in general] will find it’s way within the borders where charging a lot for software is almost a joke? I mean is there any reason they shift to another OS? [Just remember that they are mostly ordinary people.they're not geeks and especially know nothing about software architecture superiority among other things]

  42. Ramon:
    >Short, more often than not, linux offers whatever some nerds happen to have at hand, and Microsoft works towards customers/users.

    I was under the impression that for several years now there has been released a lot of distributions that emphasize ease-of-use and intuitiveness, not to mention the applications. KDE and GNOME, for example, have guidelines(HIG) to make their applications more usable to end users.

    I think the reason that Linux software is sometimes hard to use and requires tweaking is the fact that the software hasn’t been packaged well enough which probably is due to lack of users/developers.

    LHR:
    >Oh come on! It is not that bad! I lug my 15” Macbook around in my bookbag all the time, and it is not that heavy.

    I don’t mind the weight that much, it’s the size that bothers me. I have carried a regular notebook with me but I seldom used it in a car, a bus, a train or a coffee shop. 701 pops open easily in those situations.

  43. Are netbooks going to make a dent in the Microsoft money machine? Yeah, but not much and only in the short term. I’ve read time and time again (http://blog.laptopmag.com/ubuntu-confirms-linux-netbook-returns-higher-than-anticpated) about the high return rate of Linux netbooks – something to keep in mind while anticipating the “empire falling”. Further, Windows 7 was demo’d at the PDC and runs at a fairly good clip on notebooks with limited resources (the demo ran on a gig) – they’re hardly out of the game yet. Further, I understand it Vista/2008/Win7 are all running on the same kernel which I imagine will do a lot to make backward compatibility something of a non-issue (the slow adoption of Vista and the fact that many ISVs have been slow to target it notwithstanding).

    I’ve yet to hear the new OS referred to as “System 7″ and it has been marketed as “Windows 7″ (although as an OSX convert I’d take a perverse pleasure in that). I’m also a longtime Linux fan but I’ve always wondered, why does Linux need to be perceived as a “mainstream desktop operating system”? It’s a fantastic OS, for sure, but why is everyone so intent on countering the MS juggernaut with it? It has long ago replaced Windows in my daily use as it has with many people. If you’ve really worked with it then you’ve seen how powerful and useful it can be and you’ve probably adopted it – why do we need load it onto shitty hardware and foist it on people as the Best Alternative? Netbooks are probably the worst thing that can happen to the Linux Desktop given that the resource constraints and general hardware configuration often results in a less than pleasurable computing experience.

    The idea that the Linux/Netbook combo will result in the “collapse of Microsoft’s monopoly in new systems” seems awfully naive. I own a Dell Mini running Ubuntu which I picked up for around $150. It’s a great little notebook but it’s nothing more than a toy that is intended for browsing and checking email. The odds of actually *doing* anything with it are minimal given the awkward keyboard layout and tiny screen (both problems seem to be found in a large number of netbooks). Neither of these issues would prevent me from buying another one, but they would prevent me from using it using it in any real capacity as either a primary or even secondary machine. The idea that these little boxes will ultimately result in MS being relegated to “a niche around legacy systems” seems like a slippery slope.

  44. IGnatius T Foobar and esr said -> It’s not about Microsoft going belly up but about adequate and significant market share for linux.

    That sounds a lot more reasonable than some of the – not so rare – calls to take over the world.
    Linux wants to play a major role and a significant market-share ? Fine, then fight the real enemy, the mindset of many in the linux world.

    The reason for most companies not accepting in their IT landscape isn’t within or even close to Microsoft.

    It’s our ignorance, it’s the holy war that not few GPListas fight and the uncertainty they create, it’s our lack of professional standards.

    esr says – seemingly rightly so – that the hardware producers hate to pay the Windows toll. Let’s not forget, though, that they don’t py it our of their pockets; it’s the buyers paying and as long as everyone has to pay it, it’s fair (if so in a really weird sense …).

    My point, however is: Turn it around !

    Linux has been free since years. Free in $ and free (open) in source. And yet linux didn’t conquer the world nor did hardware producers run towards it in droves.

    The problem is quite obviously not Microsoft and not price. The problem is with Linux.

    esr is a bazaar proponent. But that image is bent. A bazaar is not pure chaos. There are rules, there police, fiscal control and – implicit – rules and quality control, to name just a few “forgotten” factors. Very few sell on a bazaar just for the fun of it; they do it, because they need to and they adapt to rules.
    In fact, this bazaar is next to a cathedral, factories and _the_ establishes supermarket with a commanding market share.

    Oh, and btw, esr, “arguments” like “They just didn’t read what I said” are worthy of a bishop. I’m sure, you can do much better.

  45. ># rich Says:
    >November 21st, 2008 at 6:28 pm
    >What is this linux thing you talk about? I guess I have been too busy GETTING WORK DONE on my Apple MacBook Pro to hear about it.

    You’ll need to get some work done to cover the extra cost of a MacBook Pro status symbol. Either that, or be, well, rich. (Pun intended.)
    They do look nice, judging by the many of them I see being used by trend-conscious people in well-off neighbourhoods, where Mac-flavored PCs (Intel chips inside) with their *nix-based operating systems frequently outnumber the Windows laptops.

    I often GET WORK DONE for my employers using my very powerful Linux laptop, purchased for half the price of a MacBook, with all the software I could want.

  46. > I agree that Pandora will most likely fail, but I doubt Apple and Google will contribute much to its failure. The freetards can manage just fine on their own; Pandora (and EVO BTW) will be two more items in a long line of Linux console flops/vaporware stretching back to the Indrema.

    Missing the point. The Pandora is not out to conquer the market, and it’s quite likely to succeed in the niche market it caters for: as a hobbyist gaming platform anyone can develop for. It’s basically a spiritual successor to GP2X (which was approx equivalent to the NDS/PSP generation), which itself was a spiritual successor to the GamePark 32 (whchi was the approx equivalent to the GBA generation), both of which were extremely successful devices for their time and niche markets. The fact that it runs Linux may be in part due to the fact that the hardware is so complex now it’s hard to “roll your own firmware” in any reasonable time, but at the same time, the fact that it runs Linux makes me want it even more :-)

    Its intent is not to compete with the Nintendo DS or PlayStation Portable, nor the iPhone and Android devices. It’s a device in which the user has full control over the system. I could develop on it (heck, the thing has enough power I can reasonably *compile* software on it, rather than cross-compiling from my desktop), run or play whatever I want (put Chocolate Doom on it for the Doom games, or play some Wesnoth on it), etc. Compared to the far more limiting choices, this is why such a niche market exists.

  47. >esr is a bazaar proponent. But that image is bent. A bazaar is not pure chaos.

    If you had actually understood my writings on the topic, you would know better than to make the extremely silly assumptions you are revealing.

  48. Yeah right, esr

    Whoever doesn’t share your view doens’t read or is plain stupid.

    Brilliant comment und so scientifically founded.

  49. Ramón: ESR is right about that: he’s not assuming anything like you mentioned in your post. Do reread the essay more carefully.

  50. You see, Adriano,

    as with everything writen, they are a zillion things. (only) One of them is what the author meant to say.

    My point with esr is that he doesn’t answer to the matter but rather seems to belittle anyone unconvenient and to brush it off.

    Quite possibly he is some kind of demi-good in some corner of this universe. For me he isn’t. For me and here, he is “just” a pretty smart guy (from what I know about him) who might be right or wrong in something and who didn’t get born that wise but rather also got smart by reflecting other peoples views.

    Here, however, he shows himself just ignorant, arrogant and unwilling or incompetent to discuss his views. Sorry. “Reflection” is not equivalent with “know, understand and agree with esrs musings”.
    Philosophically, esr made a major error by “filtering” the bazaar structure so as to fit his view. Not unlike bishops …

    I would, btw, not even mention this if it weren’t just another example of one of the linux crowds major weaknesses.

  51. > Have you seen all those HTC phones out there recently? Dead my ass!

    Watch as over the next three years they all run Android, unless Microsoft starts paying handset mfgs and carriers to keep WinCE alive.

    Yes, I looked at the Air, but $500 for the 1000H was a better bang/dollar, and yes, its the remaining room and additional weight which hurt.

    > The DS has been priced at $130 for years now. [the iPhone is more]

    Obviously you’ve not heard the strong rumors that the iPhone will be priced at $149 and sold through Wal*Mart just after Christmas. Wal*Mart already carries the G1 for $30 under the ‘standard’ $179 offering.

    The real issue is Apple and Google being able to get ahold of the major titles/houses or create their replacements.

  52. > Why would you then want to bust out the slightly less huge EEE?

    because you can one-hand it (open or closed), and it runs emacs (and sbcl).

  53. > a killer design would be the eee type design moving to the dimensions of a macbook air.

    Have you seen the 1002HA? Its not quite as thin as the Air, but it is under 1.0″, and its priced at $499.

    (The 1000HD is retail priced at $429, but you can easily find them for under $360 if you’re willing to run a slower Celron CPU. The Air is what, $1200 or so?)

  54. I’m in the market for a netbook; the one I’m currently eyeing is this one:

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B001I45T9O/

    I may decide to spend a little extra for the navy blue one, but likely not. It’s not worth $18 to me at this point. The extra keyboard size over the 1000H isworth the price premium to me. I’ve typed on the smaller (sub 10.2″) netbooks and went “Bleah!”. I’m hoping to get to try out the NC10 before I buy it, but my experience with the Eee PC 1000H is that its keyboard is large enough to be usable, and the Samsung’s is laid out better.

    I’m budgeting about 30 bucks for a 2 GB stick of RAM.

    I need a notebook I can take with me to conventions for boardgame demos. The notebook has to be small enough to fit into my rucksack, it has to have a battery life that’ll cover time away from an outlet (Samsung does, by all accounts, deep wizardry to get real world battery performance of about 6.5 hours on a 5,400 mAh battery; the Eee 1000H gets about 5.5 hours of real world use out of a 6,600 mAh battery. I’d pay extra for an 8,800 mAh battery for the Samsung).

    It needs to support the printer drivers for my portable laser printer (an HP P1006).

    It needs to be able to display PDFs.

    It needs to be able to run Excel 2003. Open Office Calc has been tested, and proven to be incapable of giving adequate performance for what I need done.

    My recent experiences on watching a friend of mine lose about $250 worth of her time trying to troubleshoot a Ubuntu install has made me incredibly leery about recommending Linux even for light use. I’d installed Ubuntu on a couple of machines, told people to try it out, and mostly ignored it because what I need doing doesn’t functionally exist in FOSS-land.

    I’m also running on a Windows XP install that has remained clean and stable for going on five years. Never had a viral infection, never had a malware problem. I did have a stability problem a year ago, that, when I opened the case was quite obvious – the accumulated dust on the CPU cooling fan and video card had graduated from “dust bunnies” to “hand me a chisel, please.” One run with a pump for an inflatable mattress later, and stability problem was solved.

    Onto netbooks and Microsoft’s strategy:

    My suspicion is this:

    Windows 7 gets rolled out in 3Q next year, in time to be on new machines for Christmas. The best way to describe it is “Vista with its annoyances toned down”, and a lot of effort will be put into slimming it down. Windows 7 will probably be offered at steep discounts so it’ll usurp the Vista market share as quickly as possible, and will have a compelling feature reshuffle to make it appeal.

    There will also be a version of it tuned for netbooks, and very likely sold at a decent price.

    Microsoft wants you using its OS, and wants you using its apps, from the get go, so that you’ve got a time investment in re-learning things. That is the largest barrier to Linux adoption on the desktop; Linux is free, but your time spent configuring it, relearning all the weird (and generally incompatible) apps is not, and it’s a hassle getting things to and from one system to another…

    And it doesn’t really matter if Microsoft makes money on each license it sells on netbooks; while they’re a growing market segment, they’re the equivalent of saying “Hey, kid, wanna get high? First hit’s free…”

    All they have to do is be more than roughly quintuple the installed base of any single linux distro in that niche, and they become “the standard”, and remain “the standard”.

    If you want to eat into Microsoft’s market share, do it on usability first, then price. Apple is demonstrating this nicely with the Mac.

  55. As for the iPhone/iPod Touch not being able to compete in the gaming market, you’ve got blinders on.

    Neil Young (no, not that one) left EA to found ngmoco.

    EA is producing iPhone games.

  56. EA is producing iPhone games.

    So what if EA is making some iPhone games? They have been making mobile games for a while now. Plus, EA is mostly known for sports games, and I do not think the iPhone will do Madden justice.

    Another issue with the iPhone (in many places) is availability. In the US, it is locked to AT&T Wireless. If it is to become ubiquitous, it needs to be available on all major networks: Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, etc like the Razr is. I thought about getting an iPhone in the summer, but since I am still on my mother’s plan, and she is happy with Verizon, I settled for the Blackberry Curve 8330 instead.

    The real issue is Apple and Google being able to get ahold of the major titles/houses or create their replacements.

    Yes, this is the real issue, but what about Apple makes you think they can pull this off? Apple’s products have not been known for their games since the Apple II. I would strongly suggest you reread Pete Bessman’s platforms rant (either at my blog or the original comment) that describes what it takes to win marketshare. You have to aggressively pursue developers and offer them generous licensing terms, and you have to have the developer support in place before the device launches. Apple, with both its initial refusal to support third party development and its AppStore, seems to have taken a build it, and they will come approach to game development, and that DOES NOT WORK!!! Also, games have to be one of THE core foci of your device to be taken seriously by game developers. How many iPhone advertisements have you seen that said it could even play games! Yes, there may soon be a LOT of iPhones out there, but that does not matter much. There are far more PCs out there than consoles, but which platform is hemorrhaging game developers?

  57. Mike Swanson says:
    Missing the point. The Pandora is not out to conquer the market, and it’s quite likely to succeed in the niche market it caters for: as a hobbyist gaming platform anyone can develop for.

    I am not saying that Pandora can not make a return on the amount of time they slapped together a bunch of OTS parts; I am saying it is a silly idea. How many ‘hobbyist’ developers will actually develop for the damn thing? Hobbyist Development was the intent of the GP*, and it mostly seemed to be used to run Frozen Bubble and a bunch of emulators. The Nintendo DS is now pretty decently documented; running homebrew applications is now easy, and the DS has a much larger installbase than the GPs, but the homebrew software seem to be nothing more than clones of other software/games or trivial little apps.

    Jim Thompson Says:
    > Why would you then want to bust out the slightly less huge EEE?

    because you can one-hand it (open or closed), and it runs emacs (and sbcl).

    You can also operate a Blackberry one-handed, and how many people can’t take a shit without their REPL?

    Watch as over the next three years they all run Android, unless Microsoft starts paying handset mfgs and carriers to keep WinCE alive.

    Sure. Sure. The problem with Android is that it is open source, which means that any dickhead can come along and produce a fork; couple this with the vendor lockin mentality of most wireless carriers, and you get 20+ slightly different but totally incompatible platforms. It is J2ME all over again. Microsoft, being a proprietary giant, can force the manufacturers and carriers to provide a consistent platform. This will just be another repeat of the Unix Wars, with Microsoft winning yet again.

    > The DS has been priced at $130 for years now. [the iPhone is more]

    Obviously you’ve not heard the strong rumors that the iPhone will be priced at $149 and sold through Wal*Mart just after Christmas. Wal*Mart already carries the G1 for $30 under the ’standard’ $179 offering.

    Okay, great. The phone is a little bit cheaper (but I bet the contract is still the same). However, there is still the issue of availability. To truly gain marketshare, the iPhone needs to be widely available. In many places, the iPhone is locked to a particular carrier. If Apple wants it to be a serious contender in the US, it will need to be available from Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, etc. I thought about getting an iPhone in the summer, but I am on the same plan as my mother, and she is happy with Verizon, so I settled on the Blackberry Curve 8330. How many people, except die-hard Macheads and the trendiest hipsters, will dump a network they are happy with just to get a shiny phone (that, with the clones coming out, looks less and less shiny)?

    EA is producing iPhone games.

    So what? EA is known for their sports games, and I do not think the iPhone will be able to do Madden justice.

    The real issue is Apple and Google being able to get ahold of the major titles/houses or create their replacements.

    Yes, that is the real issue, but what about Apple makes you think it can court game developers? Apple’s products have not been known for their games since the Apple II (which, I think, peeked in popularity in the early ’80s). I would strongly suggest you reread Pete Bessman’s platforms rant (either at my blog or the original comment) to get a feeling for what it takes to disrupt established players. To win in that game, you need to aggressively pursue third-party game developers BEFORE the device ships to make sure you have a good stable of game on release day, and market your device as a gaming machine. Apple has done neither of these things. With both its 6-7 month delayed release of the SDK and its perceived lack of commitment to ‘game’ marketing, Apple has adopted a “build it, and they will come” approach to game development, and that just does not work. From watching Apple’s advertisements, how many people even know it CAN run games? Sure, there may soon be a LOT of iPhones out there, but that does not matter as much as you may think. There are A LOT more PCs out there than the sum of all consoles, but which platform is hemmorrhaging developers?

  58. ESR, why do my comments keep getting flagged for moderation? Is it the length? the profanity? what?

    Eric says: I don’t actually know; WordPress doesn’t seem to document its spam filtering very well. My money would be on the profanity.

  59. > As for the iPhone/iPod Touch not being able to compete in the gaming market, you’ve got blinders on.

    This is as ridiculous as saying laptops are going to compete against your company’s mainframes in the server market. You can only get so far with a single input source (the touch screen), the rest of the world is going to continue to far more capable (no, I’m not talking about CPU specs, I mean input-wise) platforms.

    Oh, and try naming the last EA game anyone cared about (eg, not NFL 2009), and it can probably just be emulated even on the NDS/PSP. Is it too early to compare it to Microsoft choosing a particular platform and looking at it as a “sign of the market”?

  60. Oh, and try naming the last EA game anyone cared about (eg, not NFL 2009), and it can probably just be emulated even on the NDS/PSP.

    Mirror’s Edge and Dead Space have gotten a lot of attention. Both published by EA; the former I know was developed by a subsidiary.

  61. Alright, it is has been five hours or so, and my comment is still ‘awaiting moderation’, so I will try to post it in installments with no four-letter words this time.

    Mike Swanson says:
    Missing the point. The Pandora is not out to conquer the market, and it’s quite likely to succeed in the niche market it caters for: as a hobbyist gaming

    platform anyone can develop for.

    I am not saying that Pandora can not make a return on the amount of time they slapped together a bunch of OTS parts; I am saying it is a silly idea. How many

    ‘hobbyist’ developers will actually develop for the darn thing? Hobbyist Development was the intent of the GP{32,2X}, and it mostly seemed to be used to run Frozen Bubble and a bunch of emulators. The Nintendo DS is now pretty decently documented; running homebrew

    applications is now easy, and the DS has a much larger installbase than the GamePark handhelds, but the homebrew software seems to be nothing more than clones of other software/games or trivial

    little apps.

    Jim Thompson Says:
    > Why would you then want to bust out the slightly less huge EEE?

    because you can one-hand it (open or closed), and it runs emacs (and sbcl).

    You can also operate a Blackberry one-handed, and how many people can not go to the bathroom without their REPL?

  62. Jim Thompson Says:
    Watch as over the next three years they all run Android, unless Microsoft starts paying handset mfgs and carriers to keep WinCE alive.

    Sure. Sure. The problem with Android is that it is open source, which means that any luser can come along and produce a fork. Couple this with the vendor lock-in mentality of most wireless carriers, and you get 20+ slightly different but totally incompatible platforms. It is J2ME all over again. Microsoft, being a proprietary giant, can force the manufacturers and carriers to provide a consistent platform. This will just be another repeat of the Unix Wars, with Microsoft winning yet again.

    > The DS has been priced at $130 for years now. [the iPhone is more]

    Obviously you’ve not heard the strong rumors that the iPhone will be priced at $149 and sold through Wal*Mart just after Christmas. Wal*Mart already carries the G1 for $30 under the ’standard’ $179 offering.

    Okay, great. The phone is a little bit cheaper (but I bet the contract is still the same). However, there is still the issue of availability. To truly gain marketshare, the iPhone needs to be widely available. In many places, the iPhone is locked to a particular carrier. If Apple wants it to be a serious contender in the US, it will need to be available from Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, etc. I thought about getting an iPhone in the summer, but I am on the same plan as my mother, and she is happy with Verizon, so I settled on the Blackberry Curve 8330. How many people, except die-hard Macheads and the trendiest hipsters, will dump a network they are happy with just to get a shiny phone (that, with the clones coming out, looks less and less shiny)?

  63. Jim Thompson Says:
    EA is producing iPhone games.

    So what? EA is known for their sports games, and I do not think the iPhone will be able to do Madden justice.

    The real issue is Apple and Google being able to get ahold of the major titles/houses or create their replacements.

    Yes, that is the real issue, but what about Apple makes you think it can court game developers? Apple’s products have not been known for their games since the Apple II (which, I think, peeked in popularity in the early ’80s). I would strongly suggest you reread Pete Bessman’s platforms rant (either at my blog or the original comment) to get a feeling for what it takes to disrupt established players. To win in that game, you need to aggressively pursue third-party game developers BEFORE the device ships to make sure you have a good stable of game on release day. You also have to market your device as a gaming machine. Apple has done neither of these things. With its 6-7 month delayed release of the SDK and its perceived lack of commitment to ‘game’ marketing, Apple has tried a “build it, and they will come” approach to game development, and that just does not work. Just from watching Apple’s advertisements, how many people even know it CAN run games? Sure, there may soon be a LOT of iPhones out there, but that does not matter as much as you may think. There are A LOT MORE PCs out there than the sum of all consoles, but which platform is hemmorrhaging developers?

  64. LHR said:

    How many people, except die-hard Macheads and the trendiest hipsters, will dump a network they are happy with just to get a shiny phone (that, with the clones coming out, looks less and less shiny)?

    Well, Eric didn’t buy an iPhone, but he did swiitch networks to get an Android G1.

  65. >Well, Eric didn’t buy an iPhone, but he did swiitch networks to get an Android G1.

    And I heart my Gphone, I don’t heart my network. :-) Which is to say that I don’t think the wireless providers can count on network effects to hold their customers, because voice traffic between any two numbers is a commodity product. Cool features and good user experience in the handset will matter a lot more.

  66. LHR: there is little point in quoting your message as it would not help my point, but you do not seem to be speaking from experience of running homebrew on the Nintendo DS (which I have). I’ll just make a numbered list to point out some facts.

    Nintendo DS advantages:
    1. Cheap ($130 for the system, $40 for a special cartridge, $10 for SD/CompactFlash cards)
    2. Lots of programs either ported or developed for the DS; including ports of Doom and Quake, and emulators for classic systems like the NES. Some classic games recreated (eg, Space Invaders) from scratch.
    3. Lots of commercial games as well, both for GBA and NDS. Your single device can run good homebrew and good commercial games.
    Disadvantages:
    1. Too many choices for what device to use, each with their own list of pros+cons. This list is significantly smaller today, however, than it was two years ago. Some are specifically tailored for piracy and are not friendly for homebrew.
    2. Almost all such devices are very difficult to find legitimate dealers for, especially within the United States. Like I said, some devices are tailored for piracy (including the R4) and these ones are typically advertised most by scammers.
    3. Officially there is no public documentation for the Nintendo DS; it is almost completely reverse engineered now, though there still are lots of optimization to be done in homebrew libraries/compilers (which are actually based on GCC…)
    4. Relatively weak hardware, small resolution. Almost all non-native games (Doom, Quake, NES, etc) need to be scaled down to look fairly undesirable as an optimal solution. Some software requires the Nintendo RAM Expansion cartridge, as the system only contains 4MB of RAM, so programs like web browsers and Quake II cannot run at all with the standard amount.

    Pandora advantages:
    1. Powerful, well chosen hardware by public review. Large resolution (relative to the device size, at least), lots of RAM (128MB), next-generation of ARM that is not utilized in any other handheld yet (completely blows the NDS/PSP/iPhone/G1 out of the water in terms of performance). More details on the site’s homepage (unlike Nintendo or Sony or Apple, you don’t need to reverse engineer it to figure out what it contains).
    2. Almost all GP2X software can be run on it by simply recompiling it for the new platform, instant library of quite a large amount of software.
    3. More power means bigger/better software can run on the machine. No custom quirky web browser on this thing, it comes with the actual Mozilla Firefox (with a QWERTY keyboard à la BlackBerry). Quake II in software rendering runs completely smoothly (hey, I have an old Pentium II sitting around that can’t even do that), Quake III is even being ported.
    4. System is designed for homebrew. It comes with Linux installed (Debian ARMEL to be specific), adding more software can be done either by its two SDHC slots or even over a wireless network. You can probably install GCC on the device itself and actually develop software on it.
    Disadvantages:
    1. No factory building these. Only a few guys putting together devices as they have the time and resources for. They have the money to do it, but getting one can take a while. You are unlikely to run into scams for buying these, and the legality is far less questionable (yeah, you’re going to have people illegally playing NES games downloaded from the Internet, but I would be surprised if that hasn’t already happened with the iPhone/G1….).
    2. Relatively uncommon, and commercial game developers are unlikely to develop new games for it. You can’t have just one device in your pocket for both commercial games and homebrew.
    3. At $330, it’s not exactly as cheap as a Nintendo DS or PSP, though IMO the power is worth the price.

    Clearly, it’s not meant for everyone, but I’d say its advantages far outweigh its disadvantages. Also you should reconsider your opinion on the GP32/GP2X, which were extremely successful and popular in their target audiences as well.

  67. Nintendo DS advantages:
    1. Cheap ($130 for the system, $40 for a special cartridge, $10 for SD/CompactFlash cards)
    2. Lots of programs either ported or developed for the DS; including ports of Doom and Quake, and emulators for classic systems like the NES. Some classic games recreated (eg, Space Invaders) from scratch.
    3. Lots of commercial games as well, both for GBA and NDS. Your single device can run good homebrew and good commercial games.
    Disadvantages:

    You forgot the biggest advantage: installed base. If I can write a nifty game, I want to share it with as many people as possible, and targeting the DS, I would better achieve my goal.

    3. Officially there is no public documentation for the Nintendo DS; it is almost completely reverse engineered now, though there still are lots of optimization to be done in homebrew libraries/compilers (which are actually based on GCC…)

    So? It is still there, is it not?

    4. Relatively weak hardware, small resolution. Almost all non-native games (Doom, Quake, NES, etc) need to be scaled down to look fairly undesirable as an optimal solution. Some software requires the Nintendo RAM Expansion cartridge, as the system only contains 4MB of RAM, so programs like web browsers and Quake II cannot run at all with the standard amount.

    For homebrew development, why should that matter all that much? Relatively weak hardware can be somewhat more fun to develop for, since you have to learn all the details about it to eke out performance and size. If you wanted raw performance, you should just develop for your desktop. It may handle Quake 3 decently, but what about Quake 4? My desktop can handle it just fine.

    2. Almost all GP2X software can be run on it by simply recompiling it for the new platform, instant library of quite a large amount of software.

    You callthis ‘quite a large amount?’ Hah!

    Disadvantages:
    1. No factory building these. Only a few guys putting together devices as they have the time and resources for. They have the money to do it, but getting one can take a while.

    Wait,so I am going to have to wait for some guy to get off his butt and assemble the device before shipping it to me? That sounds wonderful!

    Also you should reconsider your opinion on the GP32/GP2X, which were extremely successful and popular in their target audiences as well.

    Why? How successful were they? The GP2X only sold 60,000 units compared to the Nintendo DS’s 83 million. Also, how successful was the hombrew development anyway? This list does not seem promising.

  68. Well maybe if you used something other than Wikipedia, which makes the list look pitifully small. Oh wait, I guess that’d require the assumption that you’re not much more than a troll.

    As for success, do you really think 60,000 units is anything but? Did I forget to mention somewhere that these devices aren’t built to cater to everyone?

  69. Eric, While I agree with some of your analysis, your conclusions are probably nowhere near the mark. First, let’s correct a few things. It’s not called “System 7″, it’s called Windows 7. Second,you can bet XP will be EOL’d for everything except netbooks very soon, and even that will likely EOL as soon as 7 is out. XP’s primary problem on SSD devices is swap file, something wich 7 is addressing. Also, Microsoft started talking about “Longhorn” in 2002, even before they shipped SP1 of XP, so I don’t see what Microsoft touting 7 a year after Vista shipped has to do with much of anything. That’s what Microsoft has always done… pre-announce.

    The big issue, however, is that Netbooks are not being bought as computer replacements. They’re being bought as “PC Companions”, and as such are not stealing full computer share, but creating an entirely new market. In this case, netbooks are more like PDA’s than laptops. This means that most of those sales of XP are gravy… sales they wouldn’t have had anyways if netbooks weren’t around.

    Also, consider, that most of these Linux netbooks ship with a configuration that makes it difficult to install significantly more software. You have to dink around behind the scenes just to enable “advanced mode” and such. Most people are likely to use them only in their default configuration.

  70. >The big issue, however, is that Netbooks are not being bought as computer replacements

    PCs weren’t bought as minicomputer replacements, either. This did not prevent them from executing a classic low-end disruption on minicomputers. You should study that concept.

  71. I am not saying that Pandora can not make a return on the amount of time they slapped together a bunch of OTS parts; I am saying it is a silly idea. How many ‘hobbyist’ developers will actually develop for the darn thing? Hobbyist Development was the intent of the GP{32,2X}, and it mostly seemed to be used to run Frozen Bubble and a bunch of emulators. The Nintendo DS is now pretty decently documented; running homebrew
    applications is now easy, and the DS has a much larger installbase than the GamePark handhelds, but the homebrew software seems to be nothing more than clones of other software/games or trivial
    little apps.

    One problem with the DS: Nintendo is still looking for ways to actively close the loopholes that enable homebrew on the device. They are currently attempting to sue the makers of flashcards which enable homebrew out of business, and I see no reason to believe why this won’t be successful. Furthermore, the latest incarnation, the DSi, is incompatible with these cards.

  72. One problem with the DS: Nintendo is still looking for ways to actively close the loopholes that enable homebrew on the device.

    Yeah, but the DS is now four years old, and pretty much everyone who wants one already has it. I bet the potential market is still huge.

    They are currently attempting to sue the makers of flashcards which enable homebrew out of business, and I see no reason to believe why this won’t be successful.

    Yeah, just like the RIAA’s attempts to shut down AllofMP3 were so successful.

  73. Yeah, just like the RIAA’s attempts to shut down AllofMP3 were so successful.

    AllofMP3 was successfully shut down; the future of its sister sites is still uncertain.

  74. Yeah, but the DS is now four years old, and pretty much everyone who wants one already has it. I bet the potential market is still huge.

    You have one large logical fallacy: You assume people have flashcards or SD/CF adapters. It pretty much completely dismantles your “large user base” fallback.

    Yeah, just like the RIAA’s attempts to shut down AllofMP3 were so successful.

    It’s better equivalent to Apple and their DRM in iTunes. In iTunes pre-7, there are some nifty hacks to remove all DRM from AAC files bought from the store. iTunes 7 comes out with some shiny new features, people upgrade, the old hacks don’t work anymore (at least last time I checked, which was a few months ago…), you’re stuck with DRM again. This is similar to the Nintendo DSi; the old DS/DS Lite seems to have been throughly hacked-through enough for Nintendo to warrant a new, homebrew (and piracy at the same time) incompatible system.

    Do you care to explain how a limited, homebrew-unfriendly device with very weak hardware is desirable against a completely open device that will never block your attempts to hack it, and instead encourages you to hack it?

  75. Do you care to explain how a limited, homebrew-unfriendly device with very weak hardware is desirable against a completely open device that will never block your attempts to hack it, and instead encourages you to hack it?

    This was settled in 1985 with the release of the NES and Nintendo’s “Seal of Quality”. Simply allowing anything to run on a system means you get mainly crap for that system. (See also: Linux, Windows.) So people who sell systems based on the quality of available software, including all game console manufacturers, decided to close and restrict the platform as part of their business model. It has worked out well businesswise, so they will continue to do so.

  76. I recall a lot of shitty games approved by Nintendo being released, so the restrictiveness doesn’t really bear any kind of resemblance into quality control (Hell, IMO the situation is worse in the modern NDS/Wii libraries), though this has little bearing on the discussion.

    90% of everything is crap. Just remember that.

  77. eric,

    I don’t think the minicomputer comparison is a valid one. PC’s allowed end users to do so much more than minicomputers allowed, and it removed centralization. Netbooks are intended for reduced functionality uses. In a way, it’s like saying the minicomputer is going to come back and replace the PC.

    Sure, netbooks are getting more powerful, and more capable, but as they do, they become less netbooks and more like laptops, and as time moves on the issues that make Linux attractive on them become less and less important (other than price) as the hardware limitations disappear.

    Given Microsoft’s 85% profit margin on Windows, they can afford to sell Windows for $5 instead of $50. Sure, their profits will drop, but they won’t be losing money. And that’s assuming Microsoft doesn’t streamline their development process and improve efficiency (something nearly all companies faced with lower profits do).

    A netbook, for most of it’s targeted users, could be running the Psion OS, BeOS, PalmOS, CE, VxWorks, or any number of other OS’s and most people would still buy them. Because they’re Appliances used for specific purposes (note taking, keeping up to date on sports scores while at the bar watching games, etc..). Sure, there’s lots of people who want to install a full blown Linux on them, or tweak them out, but I just don’t see it happening anymore than i see an iPhone doing it.

  78. Also, the DS can’t be used without a special flash card, and a reader that lets you hook it to your computer (as far as I know). The Pandora has a USB port, meaning that common hardware can be used to connect it. In general, with Linux portable devices you can do more on the device.

  79. >Netbooks are intended for reduced functionality uses.

    So were PCs when they disrupted the minis. Reduced functionality in that case meant the PC couldn’t access the database on the departmental computer; corporate IT departments thought this meant the PCs would forever remain toys. You’re making the analogous mistake with respect to netbooks, but you have less excuse because this time around the cycle we have nearly-ubiquitous networking.

    >the issues that make Linux attractive on them become less and less important (other than price) as the hardware limitations disappear.

    Right stick, wrong end. No matter how much more capable the netbooks get, the netbook makers still want to hold down their bill of materials. And a Windows license at its PC-market cost would still be a major cost item and probably the largest single one. This is such a classic case of disruption from below that it’ll be a standard B-school case in ten years, maybe in five.

    >Given Microsoft’s 85% profit margin on Windows, they can afford to sell Windows for $5 instead of $50.

    Maybe…for a while. Taking a factor of ten hit on their margins will hurt like a sonuvabitch, though, and the pain will get worse over time because they’re baked in higher below-the-line costs than 8.5% margins can support.

    The real issue is this: where is their revenue growth supposed to come from? Ain’t going to be in servers; they lost that option when Wall Street and Hollywood went with Linux. Ain’t going to be in cellphones either, because the wireless telcos saw what happened to the PC market and have no desire to be Microsoft’s bitches. And now it’s not going to be PCs, either, because netbooks will eat most of that market from below and what Microsoft can make from them hovers between diddly and squat.

  80. Well maybe if you used something other than Wikipedia, which makes the list look pitifully small. Oh wait, I guess that’d require the assumption that you’re not much more than a troll.

    Ooohhh! It’s all a conspiracy against the GP2X! No, I used Wikipedia because I consider it to be a mostly reliable source about stuff that people CARE to write about. If no one has bothered to make a list of all the supported games at Wikipedia, then maybe that should tell you something about how much the GP’s matter to people.

    Mike Swanson Says:
    You have one large logical fallacy: You assume people have flashcards or SD/CF adapters. It pretty much completely dismantles your “large user base” fallback.

    SD/CF card: $15-30
    Pandora: $330

    Also, remember the marketshare of the GP2X vs. DS: 60,000 vs. 83,000,000. If even 1% of DS owners have an SD/CF card, that translates to 830,000; this means the potential market for homebrew DS games is almost 14 times the size of the market for GP2X games.

    Now, tell me why I should spend $330 and a bunch of coding time on a console with such a small userbase?

    By the way, I looked at that list you posted, and most of the things I saw were either:
    1.) ports of pre-exisiting games
    2.) remakes of older games
    3.) trivial little games that probably took <10 hours to make.
    4.) pre-alpha vaporware
    5.) some combination of the above

    This is what you call widely successful?

    I recall a lot of shitty games approved by Nintendo being released, so the restrictiveness doesn’t really bear any kind of resemblance into quality control

    Not on the level of the level of the Atari 2600 you have not. Ever heard of Mystique?

    Jeff Read Says:
    AllofMP3 was successfully shut down; the future of its sister sites is still uncertain.

    Well, who knows about the eventual fate of it, but from this article and this blog post, I got the idea that the fight against pirates is ultimately a losing battle. If Nintendo succeeds in shutting these companies down, there will probably be other companies that will set up shop in other places and ship their products through the mail (they probably do that already).

  81. Do you care to explain how a limited, homebrew-unfriendly device with very weak hardware is desirable against a completely open device that will never block your attempts to hack it, and instead encourages you to hack it?

    Well, for one thing, it is a whole lot less fun. Most homebrew development is nothing more than a giant geek wankfest anyway, and hacking the system to ‘make it do what you want’ is more ub3r1337 than if it supports it out of the box. Regarding the ‘limited’ hardware, see the wankfest.

  82. Ooohhh! It’s all a conspiracy against the GP2X! No, I used Wikipedia because I consider it to be a mostly reliable source about stuff that people CARE to write about. If no one has bothered to make a list of all the supported games at Wikipedia, then maybe that should tell you something about how much the GP’s matter to people.

    Well, if this isn’t a textbook definition of FUD, I don’t know what is!

    SD/CF card: $15-30
    Pandora: $330

    I already pointed out the cost advantages of the NDS, thank you very much (on top of the fact that SD/CF cards are not quite as expensive as that…). Plus, you appear to not even notice that the DS itself doesn’t have any SD or CF ports, you must use specially-crafted adapters of varying quality to use them. Do you even own a Nintendo DS or are you just making assumptions on a device you do not have any experience with?

    Also, remember the marketshare of the GP2X vs. DS: 60,000 vs. 83,000,000. If even 1% of DS owners have an SD/CF card, that translates to 830,000; this means the potential market for homebrew DS games is almost 14 times the size of the market for GP2X games.

    The number of DS owners with adapters and cards is quite likely to be very much lower than that, quite possibly even on comparable size of the GP2X sales. As such numbers are pretty much impossible to rationally come up with, I’m not going to spend much time arguing this.

    Now, tell me why I should spend $330 and a bunch of coding time on a console with such a small userbase?

    Obviously you are not a hacker and are not within the target market of the device.

    By the way, I looked at that list you posted, and most of the things I saw were either:
    1.) ports of pre-exisiting games
    2.) remakes of older games
    3.) trivial little games that probably took <10 hours to make.
    4.) pre-alpha vaporware
    5.) some combination of the above

    This is what you call widely successful?

    Obviously you have no experience with earlier devices or even the scenes on Nintendo consoles. I’d say for certain that the applications for the GP2X are far superior to that of the Nintendo DS or PSP, but apparently you have no idea what I mean by that.

    Not on the level of the level of the Atari 2600 you have not. Ever heard of Mystique?

    Oh, I’ve heard of it, but it was entirely irrelevant to my point.

    If Nintendo succeeds in shutting these companies down, there will probably be other companies that will set up shop in other places and ship their products through the mail (they probably do that already).

    This is already how such products are sold. And as I mentioned earlier, the desire for the products put up tons of scams. With both illegitimate and legitimate dealers operating outside of the United States thanks to the DMCA, it’s very hard to tell weather a dealer is safe without searching around for guinea pigs before you.

    I believe I have noticed the problem in your arguments: You assume I was out to advertise Pandora as something everybody should have. I was not, I mentioned it because I did not personally see much advantage of a netbook over my regular laptop, and said that I’d much rather have Pandora than them. It would serve me pretty much the same functions I would do on a netbook (play Doom/Wesnoth, browse the web with firefox, check email in Thunderbird, maybe even edit some documents in OOo). You think I was telling that the Pandora would solve everybody’s needs and should outsell the Nintendo DS and PSP (which is not even its goals), I was not.

  83. The computer retailers in Chiangmai Thailand have in their ignorance ignored the above sage advice about staying with Windows. The offerings here for netbooks about 50% each XP and Linux. Laptops on offer are about 10% Vista with the balance evenly split between Freedos and Linux, mostly Mandriva but Ubuntu is sometimes seen. Desktops are 60% Freedos and 40% Linux. Of course the Freedos devices are just there to accept the local $3 Windows (please wait 20 minutes while we burn it).

  84. Well, if this isn’t a textbook definition of FUD, I don’t know what is!

    Sure, dismiss my point just because you do not like it.

    Plus, you appear to not even notice that the DS itself doesn’t have any SD or CF ports

    What gave you that idea? I am well aware that the DS uses two proprietary ports: SLOT1 for DS games, and SLOT2 for GBA games (and extra memory, I think).

    Do you even own a Nintendo DS or are you just making assumptions on a device you do not have any experience with?

    I have owned a DS since 2004; thanks for asking. I have never used any homebrew apps, though.

    The number of DS owners with adapters and cards is quite likely to be very much lower than that, quite possibly even on comparable size of the GP2X sales.

    Really? The number of DS users interested in homebrew may be similar, but many of the same devices can be used for piracy, and I bet that is quite popular. If Joe bought a device to allow him to run ‘free’ games on his DS, and he heard of another good free (homebrew) app, he may pick it up.

    It is irrelevant whether the GP2X homebrew is better than the DS homebrew. It still does not look promising.

    Oh, I’ve heard of it, but it was entirely irrelevant to my point.

    What was your point then? You seemed to say that controlling the platform does not improve the quality of the games, and I (and Jeff) said otherwise.

    the desire for the products put up tons of scams

    Yes, and it also leads to a lot of new, promising products. I bet there are some honest vendors, and I bet they have built-up a reputation within the homebrew/pirate community by now.

  85. Trying to illegally, against the manufacturer’s wishes, hack a system that is designed to not be hacked, using as your only interface to that system memory cards that have to be jury-rigged to interface with both it and whatever PC you are using, probably will not result in as rich a homebrew community as one around a device that is designed for homebrew. That’s one of Pandora’s major advantages right there.

  86. Sure, dismiss my point just because you do not like it.

    Wikipedia doesn’t have your predecessor nor you in its encyclopedia. Obviously no one cares about your trollfests enough to document it. (If you don’t get the idea yet, Wikipedia articles are not a real gauge of success or failure.)

    What gave you that idea? [..]I have owned a DS since 2004; thanks for asking.

    Finally I get something definitive out of you; I suppose I could still doubt your claim, but I have no reason to believe you are lying about it.

    I have never used any homebrew apps, though.

    Inexperience it is. On top of the fact that you are not a developer/hacker, this pretty much shows that you are not qualified for this discussion in the first place.

    many of the same devices can be used for piracy, and I bet that is quite popular. If Joe bought a device to allow him to run ‘free’ games on his DS, and he heard of another good free (homebrew) app, he may pick it up.

    I’ve been trying to avoiding the piracy side of things as much as possible, because I am not interested and am opposed to it. Anyhow, it has been my observation that pirates don’t generally care about homebrew, and are rather out to get a free lunch by any means necessary.
    It is irrelevant whether the GP2X homebrew is better than the DS homebrew. It still does not look promising.
    Yes, that’s because you only want to see what other people can do for you. There is nothing much wrong with this, but the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP are tailored specifically for people like you — who happen to be the vast majority of handheld users.

    What was your point then? You seemed to say that controlling the platform does not improve the quality of the games, and I (and Jeff) said otherwise.

    Mystique is evidence to the contrary? Despite LJN having a larger library of shitty games passed through Nintendo’s regulation of its system?

    The regulations are pretty much just a way to legitimize royalties for using their consoles.

    the desire for the products put up tons of scams

    Yes, and it also leads to a lot of new, promising products. I bet there are some honest vendors, and I bet they have built-up a reputation within the homebrew/pirate community by now.

    Yes there are, but they are also taken down all the time by legal action from Nintendo or Sony, and it is primarily because such devices usually can operate for piracy as well (the ones that don’t do well for piracy don’t sell very well…). So you basically have a market with no permanent legitimate dealers, mixed with illegitimate ones, and no legal course of action to turn to when you fall for the wrong one. Now compare to the Pandora which you will be able to buy in your same country directly from the manufacturer of the devices, it’s a much safer option.

    This is going to be my last post on this subject. You have consistently missed the point: you are either stupid or a troll, probably both.

  87. Wikipedia doesn’t have your predecessor nor you in its encyclopedia.

    You ain’t listed either. I ain’t here to get famous.

    (If you don’t get the idea yet, Wikipedia articles are not a real gauge of success or failure.)

    On top of the fact that you are not a developer/hacker

    And just who are you?

    Yes, that’s because you only want to see what other people can do for you.

    Did you singlehandedly write Firefox, OpenOffice ,the Linux kernel and Battle for Wesnoth? Didn’t think so. I don’t mind coding, but if all other people are producing are crappy apps and ports of software that I could run on my desktop/laptop with a proper keyboard, mouse and screen, then I don’t see the point in bothering with it.

    Mystique is evidence to the contrary?

    Read the article next time. At least read this passage:
    “According to industry watchers and critics, Mystique’s game designs were generally simple, with crude graphics and unexceptional gameplay. The games caused the 2600’s image to suffer. Atari sued Mystique over such games, but lost the suit in court.”

    There may have been only three games (well, one that really mattered), but they did a lot of damage.

    Now compare to the Pandora which you will be able to buy in your same country directly from the manufacturer of the devices, it’s a much safer option.

    when the developers get off their butts and place an order.

    You have consistently missed the point

    No, I think you missed my original point: “the Nintendo DS is now pretty decently documented; running homebrew applications is now easy, and the DS has a much larger installbase than the GPs, but the homebrew software seem to be nothing more than clones of other software/games or trivial little apps.” I gave an example of a system with certain (serious but debatable) advantages over the GP’s and showed the state of its homebrew. In short, thank you for showing me how much money and time I have saved by not wasting it on your pathetic hardware.

  88. > I gave an example of a system with certain (serious but debatable) advantages over the GP’s and showed the state of its homebrew. In short, thank you for showing me how much money and time I have saved by not wasting it on your pathetic hardware.

    If this means what it seems to (DS is ‘better’ than Pandora, and since DS has a crappy homebrew scene, Pandora must too) then it’s sort of pointless. As I and some others have pointed out, DS’s advantages are mainly in the area of mass appeal, while Pandora’s are mainly in the area of appeal to people who already code/use Linux. Hence, the better hardware, the more open platform, etc. In short, the Pandora’s advantages over the DS are exactly in that area that has the most impact on the homebrew community. Therefore, the DS is at best neutral with the Pandora in terms of homebrew-friendliness, probably less. And so, it is meaningless to say that because the DS has a bad homebrew scene, the Pandora must as well.

    If you meant something else by that, then disregard previous. I had a hard time parsing that last paragraph.

  89. In Revenge Of The Hackers, you wrote: “Windows 2000 will be either canceled or dead on arrival. Either way it will turn into a horrendous train wreck, the worst strategic disaster in Microsoft’s history. However, their marketing spin on this failure will be so deft that it will barely affect their hold on the consumer desktop within the next two years.”

    Now, I think you were wrong there: Win2K turned out to be usable courtesy Moore’s Law, and it turned out to be more or less “Windows that is usable.” Like, stuff more or less worked properly and it didn’t crash daily.

    However, I think it’s clear what you actually described in that sentence was Vista. Except their marketing spin didn’t stop the rest of the world noticing its EPIC FAIL.

  90. Translation: The DS is a Mac. The Pandora is a Linux box.

    One will have wide appeal, the other will become a niche product that forks a lot, with no real standards enforced, and squabbling anarchy.

  91. Linux has 30% of the whole netbook market which is the fastest growing sector of the market. That is not a niche, that is a major chunk of the market.

  92. And netbooks, while the fastest growing segment of the market, are under 10% of all computers sold.

    Interesting pricing trends are showing up as well; the XP netbooks aren’t getting price slashed for Black Friday as quickly as the Linux ones, or as deeply.

    Some of this is clearing out older models with Celeron Ms. Some of it is perceived and retained value.

  93. Now, I think you were wrong there: Win2K turned out to be usable courtesy Moore’s Law, and it turned out to be more or less “Windows that is usable.” Like, stuff more or less worked properly and it didn’t crash daily.

    However, I think it’s clear what you actually described in that sentence was Vista. Except their marketing spin didn’t stop the rest of the world noticing its EPIC FAIL.

    ESR was wrong, and that much is obvious. Windows XP wasn’t even released yet (iirc still being called Whistler-Blackcomb at that point), much less anything about Longhorn/Vista (though I hope you didn’t fail to notice that…).

    In my opinion, Windows 98 was really the turning point where they would do nothing but go downhill from. I actually switched to Linux a few months before Windows 98 was released, so maybe I’m somewhat biased based on how superior Linux’s UIs were even then, so this is really my disclaimer… Windows 98 was slower, consumed far more RAM, crashed more often than Windows 95, etc. I honestly never understood why it got more popular than Win95, when to me it was very similar to the recent “XP vs. Vista” thing. Because of this popularity, Microsoft could never learn from the mistakes, they just continued them. Windows Me was basically “Windows 98 Third Edition” with very little enhancements; Windows 2000 also had almost the exact same interface, though its saving grace was a better operating system for its base (it has a good number of core enhancements over NT 4, although the UI looked worse). Windows XP added the teletubbies UI and that was pretty much it, save for double the disk space and RAM requirements from Win2000.

    I’ve been pondering somewhat why the market hasn’t simply adopted Windows Vista as it has with previous, completely uninnovative versions such as WinXP. I believe, and this is only my opinion not a statement of fact, that it boils down to a few factors:

    1. The hardware requirements are enormously larger than its predecessors. Though all previous versions were also more bloated than the previous ones, I think people were used to Windows XP and were shocked at Windows Vista — the thing doesn’t even run well with a gigabyte of RAM, and requires at least 20GB of disk space.

    2. Windows releases were about 2 years apart in the past, the successively larger versions were perhaps less of a concern. They were fairly moderate compared to the growth of hardware — at least Windows stayed on par with predecessors in terms of speed, though requiring new hardware. For example, a new Windows 98 computer in 1998 seemed about as fast as a new Windows 95 computer in 1995, even though the hardware should have allowed a far faster operating system (indeed, Linux has very little bloat, and the speed increases are very apparent in Linux). Windows Vista, on the other hand, had almost no attempt to seem as fast as new 2001 computers running WinXP, on new 2007 computers running Vista; only in the last half of 2008 are computers really fast enough to run Vista with an apparent speed of a 2001 Windows XP computer.

    3. Feature bloat — this has been true of all previous versions of Windows as well, but Vista really took the cake. There’s programs in Vista for several tasks, especially multimedia ones, and almost all of them are inferior to third-party products (including open source, yes) predating them. Nobody wants to use the built-in Vista programs, they just waste disk space as people continue using all the 3rd-party applications they are familiar with and technically superior.

    4. Software and hardware incompatibility; every version of Windows has suffered these two problems, though not to the degree that Vista encountered. Vista is incompatible with a phenomenal amount of software (some people even say that Wine is more compatible with Windows than Vista is) — even old Microsoft applications sometimes fail to run (eg, Microsoft Office 97). Programs for Windows 95/98/Me that barely ran on WinXP with its compatibility-mode hacks, most likely will never run at all on Windows Vista. On top of the hardware incompatibility — Microsoft had intentionally removed Windows XP driver support for whatever reason (it was still fully functional with Windows XP drivers through RC2), and with it, almost nothing supported Vista in the beginning of 2007. Infamous examples include NVIDIA graphics cards and Lexmark printers. Some, like NVIDIA and Lexmark, eventually rewrote drivers for Vista, while others, especially from companies who went bankrupt, may never even see a Windows Vista driver. The problem is two-fold: first, that Microsoft deliberately removed WinXP driver support, and secondly, they off-hand driver development to the vendors themselves. In the second part of the problem, it’s a design decision and not necessarily a bad one if you can guarantee the vendors to release new drivers for new versions of your operating system; Linux takes the other route: most drivers are developed in the Linux kernel or X.org (for video drivers). Operating system upgrades rarely remove hardware support; hell, a month ago I plugged in a parallel port Zip100 drive from around 1994, and it was still fully supported in Debian Lenny.

    5. The market becoming aware of superior alternatives, such as Linux and Mac OS X. Windows’ old crusty design (which looked very bad to informed computer enthusiasts at Windows XP’s launch even) can simply no longer survive with an increasing number of savvy computer users. They are starting to realize there are better solutions than Windows. Apple has taken many opportunities to attack Vista, and they are becoming quite successful at luring in old Windows users (which is probably better attributed to Microsoft’s own failing than the not-quite-as-clever-as-they-think Apple marketing department). The new netbook market has been introducing people to an operating system, Linux, that doesn’t need to be rebooted daily to remain active, doesn’t need to worry about viruses or malware (though the former is prevented by the OS design itself, the later might some day latch itself to Linux, and since it’s mostly social engineering, OS design can’t prevent it), hell, Linux is secure enough that average users don’t even need a firewall attached to their machine (before I got a router, my own computer was directly connected to the Internet for about 7 years, no firewall, and never once was broken into).

  94. esr

    Your view concerning the times, when the PC very quickly gained acceptance is yours. I lived that time and I don’t share it.

    OK, down to reality.
    Yesterday I had a conversation with the boss of a small company that produces/sells an ERP system that is quite wide-spread here in Europe.
    It’s on Windows, of course.

    What I wanted was along the line: OK, for the desktop (and the client app) with Windows, but what I really want is Unix/Linux in the backend. I don’t want MS SBS and MS MSSQL and MS.

    He almost flipped out.

    Later it slowly turned out why. The “linuxistas” (in his view) terrorize him with absurd requests und statements. On top of that (and that seemd to be the point that really turned him wild) he actually tried it !
    He took a linux box (Red Hat) and installed MySql and PostgresqlAccording to him it went wrong basically for 2 reasons:
    – his non-standard, that is, using MS sql specific syntax (which he was willing to correct)
    – unsupportive “political” discussions with developers rather than support.

    THIS is the reality I mean.

    I mean, what more can you ask ? There is a pretty well established ERP vendor actually trying and willing to support Linux – and he ends up completely p**d off, angry and disappointed, because the crowd tries to evangelize him and to start “political” fights, telling him basically that he is bad (running on Windows) rather than taking that big chance an helping him.

    His – yes, pretty emotional – status today: Leave me alone with Linux. They are weirdos, unprofessional, unsupportive and unnerving. He won’t even touch it again.

    Actually he told me he’d rather loose some clients than to ever again even look at linux and open source software.

    And he is by no means the only one with that stance.

    And again: The problem isn’t with Microsoft. It’s with the attitude and incompetence of very many “linuxistas”.
    My problem wasn’t Miscrosoft. my problem was – in this case – not even open source software of doubtful quality; postgresql is fine software and has proper support.
    My and everybodies problem was “the crowd” who, amongst other problems, just doesn’t seem to understand, that clients have their own definitions and scales.

    Again and again and again people like esr hammer on the good – usually technical – points of open source and yes, they are mostly right in that. It just happens, that a manager in a company has more and other criteria and other weights attached to them.

    BTW: i’m getting a free full license for that ERP software and even some minimal and gnarling support by some of his software developers. So I’m free to develop a Linux solution.
    Know what ? I’m already unnerved because I know what’s going to happen. The bad guys in the MS world will support me and the good guys in the open source world will unnerve me with endless evangelizing rants (GPL 3, anyone ?)

    I’ll do it anyway. Because in order to grow, we need more than incestuous OS software running on the Linux island. We need more and more linux applied out there in the real world, replacing proprietary MS stuff.

  95. “We need more and more linux applied out there in the real world, replacing proprietary MS stuff.” (myself)

    Oh and please: Don’t tell me about Firefox and the like, neither about some open source ERP. Because, you see, companies already have one and they definitely not switch just because Linux is good and Windows bad or because they like penguins better than windows.

    What I mean is the core, the complex stuff, the software that keeps a company together.

    Thanks

  96. I hear a lot of complaining about the size of the size of the keyboard on the Asus 701. I have an easy solution to this dilemma: how about a USB keyboard? I’m the proud owner of large hands. I’m typing this on my 701 (plain, without the USB keyboard) because I chose to. I keep the USB keyboard in the car, in case of typing emergencies ;-) . I use my eeepc to do pretty much anything but the most CPU, video or hard drive-intensive tasks: email, phone calls, streaming Internet multimedia via my USB wireless broadband modem. For those tasks that need more horsepower, i pull out my dual-core hyperthreaded Pentium 4 100 GB laptop, With my eepc, I have solved to a large extent the problem of anywhere Internet access while I see people around me begging and fighting for wifi Internet access.

  97. Jim Thompson Says:

    And this jst in, Intel flips the marketing machine against netbooks…

    ——–

    Wow. One might simply summarize this as:

    esr was wrong and linux was betting on a loser.
    I don’t. Yes, Intels statement is probably more than enough to kill it. But there’s more to it.

    For one: What a cynical – not to say dirty inhumane – view of intel shines through there. Basically they said “wearing down your eyes and working with subpar lowest end stuff must be and is good enough for the financially week (often enough kids). For customers with some money though it’s not good enough”. But then, that guy’s a marketing droid.

    But also: Yes, there’s some truth in what esr said. Of course, hardware producers must cut cost and yes, the Windows license is a major part of those costs.
    The reason why esr isn’t right is another and a simple one: He forgot/underestimated the other side. If Windows was just an OS and an easily interchangeable one, esr would be correct.
    This situation shows it pretty clear: Windows – or, more generally, the OS – is way more than a cost factor; it is _not_ easily interchangeable.

    Along the same line, users do not want “just a program”. Reading the (strongly pro-linux) Helios Blog I found an interesting entry decribing how helpless the average user is. Asked to click on a button that could only be seen when the window was drawn larger most users failed. Even knowing that there must be that button they simply didn’t understand that they had to draw the window larger or they didn’t know how-to.

    THAT is “the user”. No flaming or attacking intended ! Actually, I feel the problem myself. Being deep in IT or even just somewhat experienced, we tend to develop a more and more sophisticated impression/definition/feeling of what “user” and “easy” means.

    Quite possibly this natural effect is so strong that we (developers) plain and simple need some Joe Averages in our team – not only to useability test but even in the early design phase.

    Now, what do we (linux/unix guys) actually offer them ?

    An OS that is “easy” and “comfortable” – according to our impression (and the occasional “Even aunti Gertrude can handle it story) ?
    Fact is, most users out there tend to consider linux “strange” (Right, it doesn’t look like Windows and probably it even shouldn’t), frightening (“one needs to enter weird stuff into a console!”), poorly documented (right they are – still).

    In a recent discussion I termed it “GKH vs M.Shuttleworth phaenomenon”. GKH, the “nerd” worries about, frankly, senseless weirdo “problems” (“terrorizing” vendors for offering linux drivers, albeit binary ones) keeping users shaking their heads and actually goes so far to _cut_ the users liberty of choice. And M Shuttleworth, who runs the distribution that draws users in flocks and who quite possibly has contributed more to the vision of linux on the desktop than half of the kernel team.
    (Yes, imo Ubuntu also proves that even many, many linux users prefer a human oriented and simple to use linux).

    Yes, that’s somewhat unfair because actually kernel developers _should_ care about “weird” highly technical stuff. But the point is simple: In the end there are lots of Joe and Marie Averages that must be able to use the system.
    To put it bluntly: Microsoft knows and linux doesn’t. I imagine that B. Gates personally beat that holy mantra into every employees mind again and again. Well done, Bill; that was a major factor in having Windows on the vast majority of desktops.

    But then, who is Intel? They do not even seem to have read (or care about) the cathedral vs the bazaar.

    Nice weekend, everyone!

  98. All I want is enough Linux boxes out there that programmers and hardware manufactures will have to consider the Linux market and have to make sure that that O.S. works on their hardware and there programs are ported to Linux and other operating systems. I really do not care if Linux ever dominates the desktop. But after using it for over four years I much prefer it for my own computers. Many people will come to the same conclusions. I love to tinker with computers which may explain why I love using Linux. But my daughters and grandchildren like Linux also and they are not heavy into computer like me but with my help enjoy the power of using an industrial strength operating system. Most people need help with their Windows machines also. But with Unix base operating systems far less help is needed. I think that Linux ultimately will eat up a big share of Microsoft’s market share as more people try and like Linux.

  99. All I want is enough Linux boxes out there that programmers and hardware manufactures will have to consider the Linux market and have to make sure that that O.S. works on their hardware and there programs are ported to Linux and other operating systems.

    For that to happen, Linux would need to have standardized placements of system files, avoid dependency hell, and have a standardized set of components. Imposing standards would offend some fraction of the Linux apostelic movement. Re-read the Linux Hater’s Blog.

  100. >For that to happen, Linux would need to have standardized placements of system files, avoid dependency hell, and have a standardized set of components. Imposing standards would offend some fraction of the Linux apostelic movement.

    Yeah, but it’s happening anyway. Ubuntu and Red Hat, between them, are creating a de-facto standard.

  101. Yeah, but it’s happening anyway. Ubuntu and Red Hat, between them, are creating a de-facto standard.

    Yeah, till some other new ‘hotshot’ distro comes along that does not follow them.

  102. >Yeah, till some other new ‘hotshot’ distro comes along that does not follow them.

    Possible, but unlikely. I think the day of a thousand distros is over; for the past four years or so the trend has been for marginal and boutique distributions to fold, with a steady increase in market share for the big ones. This is what we normally see in a technology sector as it matures.
    I think at this point either Red Hat or Ububntu would have to fuck up in some major way to leave enough oxygen in tha atmosphere for a new, ‘hotshot’ distro to climb out of the statistical noise.

  103. So, got a projected date for when Ubuntu becomes the evil market dominating force and sparks a wave of counterculture spleen?

    (I want to make sure I’ve got popcorn ready…)

  104. Yeah, but it’s happening anyway. Ubuntu and Red Hat, between them, are creating a de-facto standard.

    LSB an FHS have done more to create interoperability between distributions than popular distros have.

    Even with standards, whether formal or just assumed, you’re always going to have people defying it for one reason or another. GoboLinux, for example, completely ignores traditional Unix filesystem structure to replace it with more obvious paths and letting the filesystem handle packages itself rather than a database (eg, OpenOffice 2.4.0 would be installed in /Programs/OpenOffice.org/2.4.0/ and you can simultaneously have version 3 in /Programs/OpenOffice.org/3.0.0/); actually, it sounds like an interesting concept though I’ve yet to try out the distribution myself :)

    Sometimes, breaking the standards is even necessary for progress. Like the former example GoboLinux, it tries to develop a superior (at least in some people’s view; others take tradition as being more important) filesystem standard, and it can only do so by intentionally breaking the existing standard.

    Plus, I don’t really see Ubuntu as having done much itself, besides removing the icons from the GNOME desktop by default. IMO, it’s just Debian Done Worse. It sounds like a loaded term, and it is. I ran Ubuntu myself for a while, though I eventually got sick of the Ubuntu maintainers breaking programs with their own custom patches, or neglecting to maintain certain packages at all. I had quite a lot of packages installed from Debian’s own repositories rather than Ubuntu’s. I didn’t make a list of them, although the last straw I really had was broken squashfs-tools; it had a deadlock on multi-processor machines in its code to detect sparse files. There was indeed a bug report in Ubuntu’s tracker, but it just sat there. Debian had the same bug report and already fixed it. After performing the immediate task at hand by just installing and using Debian’s version, I took the time to reinstall my entire operating system — using Debian rather than Ubuntu.

  105. Yeah, but it’s happening anyway. Ubuntu and Red Hat, between them, are creating a de-facto standard.

    Back in the late nineties there was a consortium of x86 Unix vendors, free and proprietary, including Red Hat and SCO (this was back with SCO was SCO, and not the SCO-with-a-goatee we know today) to determine a single unified binary format standard that all x86 Unix systems could run. At the first meeting they found that all of the vendors had gone to considerable lengths to get Linux ELF binaries working where Linux ELF was not the native file format; so they simply declared Linux ELF binaries the standard and disbanded themselves.

    It would be great if something similar would happen with the Ubuntu filesystem layout. Unfortunately I don’t see much effort by distro maintainers to conform to such a standard.

  106. On second thought, I take that back. Ubuntu’s filesystem structure is in no way worthy of emulation. The storing of all your application binaries in /usr/bin, resources in /usr/share or /usr/lib, etc. is Really, Really Bad and needs to be addressed. It is a relic from a bygone era of command-line interfaces, program paths, and centralized administration.

    Application programs should be stored in a folder off the root with a descriptive name — think “Program Files” on Windows or “Applications” on Mac. Programs and necessary resources should be bundled together. There should be a quick and easy way to add frequently used programs to a shortcut menu or desktop element for easy access. The Dock comes to mind, but that is protected by design and software patents so cloning it exactly will lead you into legal trouble.

    In short, if Linux is to succeed on the desktop it needs to be designed from the ground up like a desktop OS.

  107. Ubuntu’s filesystem layout, last time I checked (when I used 8.04), conformed to FHS. Has that changed?

    Also I mentioned earlier that GoboLinux is after a filesystem structure similar to what you desire. As for ease of installation and removal, how is it hard on any of the common distros today?

  108. Also I mentioned earlier that GoboLinux is after a filesystem structure similar to what you desire. As for ease of installation and removal, how is it hard on any of the common distros today?

    Depends. Did you use the officially-blessed and packaged release? Or did you go out into the wild woolly world of ./configure ; make ; make install?

    Mac OS X applications are self-contained within a folder. Drag it to Applications to install. Drag it to the trash to remove.

  109. And yes, GoboLinux does sound like it approaches that ideal. It should be the standard.

  110. I hadn’t thought of it before, which is why I didn’t mention it, but the traditional filesystem structure has a very distinct advantage over the Gobo/Mac filesystem structures: scalability. It works both on single-user machines and servers with /usr, /home, etc exported over NFS. For example, if you have a whole bunch of machines that are all i386, there’s no reason you can’t just export a /usr filesystem so that all your binaries are in one place, for installation and updating. If individual users want to install their own software (assuming they’re allowed to), they can mount a /usr/local filesystem and install custom stuff there.

    I tried out GoboLinux for just a bit earlier, usability-wise, there’s very little someone is likely to notice off hand. All the programs work the same, etc. The difference I’m sure is administration and installing (and removing) your own programs, though I didn’t actually try that (was using the LiveCD), though it seems extremely biased for single-user computers. I couldn’t find anything to suggest that it easily supports exporting /Programs (for example) over NFS read-only, and having a local store for your own applications.

  111. And you can’t export /Applications over NFS because…?

    The Mac way actually works better in this regard because the program and all resources it needs are all self-contained within one folder, as compared to the traditional Unix way, with stuff in /usr/bin/ other stuff in /usr/lib/ still other stuff in /usr/share, etc. and they’re all jumbled together.

    GoboLinux even has an option to let you run the distribution in your home directory on top of some other Linux install.

  112. Apparently, the sound of empire falling is the simultaneous silence of a bunch of crappy mp3 players :-)

    Seriously, last I checked, the Gregorian calendar hasn’t gotten any major overhauls since C was invented. Is there a reason we aren’t all using the same, fully-debugged date libraries yet?

  113. Please donate your old boxes to a church-group or some needy student in these hard times! To comply with the law, and with Microsoft’s leasing policy, you can now replace Microsoft OS with the free (download from the net) Ubuntu OS, which can be set to erase the hard drive of all traces of the “illegal to give away ” Microsoft system and your private information, before donation! Now, explain to your lucky recipient that all the manuals they will ever need are available for free on the internet! Just ask for them in Google! OpenOffice, which is installed already is plenty adequate for homework assignments and with a little exploring, everything else can work well too! Happy computing!

  114. Microsoft may be seeing more competion now from the Open Source OS’s and competition is always a good thing, but they will not wither away unless someone else can come up with an intuitive platform to use …. or over time we become accustomed to the look and feel of the different flavours of Linux (or any other upstart).

    Like it or nor Microsoft and Apple OS’s are intuitive, pretty friendly and simple to use.

    I am pretty tech-savvy myself, but I struggle with Linux and I am sure that holds true for the majority of people.

  115. Improvements to Linux have led Intel to permit Linux laptops to sport the Centrino brand for the first time.

    Although Linux can run on existing Centrino notebooks, Intel until now wouldn’t permit companies to sell Linux laptops using the Centrino logo.

    Karen Regis, manager of mobile programs and promotions at the chipmaker said the reason for the change was that with the release of the 2.6.8 Linux kernel, the open source operating system’s power management abilities now meet Intel’s requirements for Centrino notebook battery life.

    “It was important to deliver what people expect out of the brand,” Regis said, speaking at the launch of the new Sonoma version of the Centrino technology.

    Linux isn’t widely used on mainstream desktop and laptop computers, but Intel has joined Red Hat, Novell, Sun, IBM, Hewlett-Packard and others in trying to boost the open source operating system in the market.

    That’s something of a turnaround for a company that took a year after the initial Centrino launch to release prototype Linux support for the wireless network chip. Microsoft Windows was able to use Centrino’s wireless networking immediately after its release.

  116. Some people thinks that “Computer=Windows”. This is bad. If they explore other options like Linux, maximum of them will find that Linux is better.
    One of my kid brother was handling linux from the very begining and he has no problem with it. He only logs on to XP to play PES(soccer) and other games..This is a encouraging story. People should change the mindset and explore new ideas and options.

  117. I’ve purchased many things on Amazon but this will be my first review of a product. I just received the Eee PC 1005HA-PU1X (Blue color) this past week and its been a great experience. I agree with the majority of the positive reviews out there for this netbook. I’ll leave a few unique comments regarding this machine.

    The ~10 hour battery life is great. Since I have bluetooth and wi-fi on most of the time I actually get about 6~7 hours of battery life. 802.11n signals are strong. 1.3mp camera is good with adequate lighting.

    I have installed a variety of software and they all run great. I’m trying to avoid M$ Office but I’ll probably have to install it soon. Amazingly the Google apps run smoothly on this machine. Streaming videos from Hulu and Netflix look incredible on this 10 inch screen.

    I also have multiple external HDDs (WD Passports – 500gb and 320gb) and interestingly a single usb port on this 1005ha will power the HDD. You don’t have to waste a second USB

  118. Some people thinks that “Computer=Windows”. This is bad. If they explore other options like Linux, maximum of them will find that Linux is better.
    One of my kid brother was handling linux from the very begining and he has no problem with it. He only logs on to XP to play PES(soccer) and other games..This is a encouraging story. People should change the mindset and explore new ideas and options……

    onlineuniversalwork

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