Re: Questions To Answer

Jim, Alan,

Thank you so much for explaining the importance of the standard-setting function of
the Gnome foundation in a way that's totally understandable by a non-hacker.  And
Maciej, thanks for being the trouble-maker that drew this out of them :)


Jim Gettys wrote:

> > From: Alan Cox <>
> > Date: Wed, 12 Jul 2000 23:54:02 +0100 (BST)
> > To: (Maciej Stachowiak)
> > Cc: (Alan Cox), (Jim Gettys),
> > (Frank Hecker),
> > Subject: Re: Questions To Answer
> > -----
> > > "Without standards Linux is dead, defunct, gone and a waste of coding
> > > time."  A lot of people used to say that. I haven't seen it
> > > happen. Sure LSB is in the process of making some standards now, but
> >
> > We have a lot of standards.
> >
> > > vendors have been doing OK without them. Hell, Linux doesn't even
> > > follow all the POSIX standards fully (e.g. threads), and many vendors
> > > don't actually follow FHS, one of the few Linux-specific standards
> > > that has been around for a while.
> >
> > Right now one of the biggest reasons vendors are giving for not supporting
> > Linux is ABI standards. They are less worried about pthreads not being
> > perfect - if you know the limits then you can work with it easily
> >
> > A lot of the LSB work is driven by ISV's. Without the LSB several vendors
> > on the Linux bandwagon today would probably not be there.
> Yup.
> >
> > > It should address these issues. However, I see addressing those issues
> > > as subordinate to the goal of creating a free desktop. I also
> You won't get the free desktop without all the other commercial apps to
> get critical mass (or it will take much longer, by which time you have
> yet more catch up to do).
> > >
> > > Anyway, this is a matter of perspective to some degree. I definitely
> > > agree that at some point, making standards will be an important part
> > > of organizing the development of GNOME - but I definitely do not agree
> > > that the coding is secondary to the standards.
> Sorry, it does end up being secondary.  Think about it from a different
> direction: the coding is secondary to the DESIGN (what a standard is is
> the codification in carefully chosen words describing the design of a
> protocol or API): you have to get the design right enough (perfection
> not necessary, but see below), and stablize it so that people can build
> on top of you.
> >
> > Coding is subordinate to the API's. We spent much of the 1.2->2.2 Linux
> > kernel timeline learning that one. If the API is right you can fix the code
> > later, if the API is wrong boy are you deep in it.
> Exactly correct.  Existance proof 1: Keith Packard has rewritten the frame
> buffer code for the X server recently: machines have changed very
> significantly over the last 10 years.  The X server on a straight frame
> buffer is now 600Kbytes of text, rather than several megabytes.  From
> a client's point of view, nothing changed (except things generally go
> faster, you have more RAM available, and the implementation offers all
> pixmap depths).  You don't notice, other than things just working better...
> Existance proof 2: the original X11 sample server's dynamic memory usage
> was much larger than current servers: it got VERY much faster, and consumed
> only 40% of the (non backing store related) memory of the original sample
> server implementation.
> >
> > Thats not to demean the code. Nobody would pretend Bonobo by work is 99%
> > the API and 1% knocking off code. In the long term its the APIs that have
> > to stand. You can rewrite code
> Yup.  Plan to throw one away (the implementation; sometimes even the design),
> you will throw it away, even if you don't think you will.  When you get
> the protocol/api's wrong, you get to live with them (almost, if not) forever....
> The more successfull you are, the less chance you get to fix the API's.
> I'd love to "fix" some of my/our mistakes with X11.  I can't.  You don't
> think this is frustrating to me? Or Bob Scheifler? or the others who
> contributed to X11 design?  It is, and it is the reality of the world.
> The compensation is seeing things like Gnome happen, finally validating
> that we got most of the important things right.
> At best, I can help make things less painful by helping transition to
> improved technology (for example, at the base X server level, Keith Packard
> is working on a new rendering model for X that can run side by side with
> the current rendering model).  This IS the price of success: you get to
> live with your mistakes forever staring you in the face.  All I can say
> is that X11 is LOTS better than X10 and before: we also faced a success
> disaster with the base window system, and did the best we could with the
> time we had available.
> Whether you believe it or not, Gnome is in the standards business: right
> now, it is the standards setting business.  But it will all become moot
> if no standard is set.  We can discuss how/where/when defacto/formal
> standardization should occur, but I don't think "if" is up for discussion.
> Not if you want a free desktop.  Now if you want to change API's/protocols
> forever, we can all go elsewhere, and you can play in your sandbox.  Because
> people can't build on a foundation of sand...
>                                         - Jim
> --
> Jim Gettys
> Technology and Corporate Development
> Compaq Computer Corporation
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-list mailing list

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