Linux

Open Source on Mac

in
Comment from E-mail

Currently I do not own a MAC. The main reason for that is because I am a hardcore gaming enthusiast. I think that that might change in the future and I am considering buying an iMac for my wife and daughter. I work as a Network Administrator, primarily with WindowsNT. Strangely enough, I do not advocate the use or purchase of Microsoft products. I make a living solving problems with these products. Needless to say, there is PLENTY of work to keep me busy. But on a personal level, (when I am not playing computer games), I am working with Linux. If I do purchase an iMac for my wife, I will dual boot it to Linux for my own use. I have also seen BeOS in action on an iMac and was very impressed.

I have a question for you if you have time:

One thing that I think could really help Apple right now, would be to go completely open source with its OS and possibly move its OS to one based on Linux or FreeBSD. Over the years I have heard only two complaints from ANYONE about the prospect of owning a Mac. The first is a lack of applications. While this is not wholly true, I think that the number of apps available could be dramatically increased if they moved their OS in the direction that I suggested above. The second complaint was the difficulty or inability of upgrading your Mac as opposed to a PC. Firstly, I don't know enough about Mac hardware to know if that is true or not, but my guess is that if it ever was true, its not so today. The reason being that most PC's (Mac's included) are at a point where they are so far over powered for today's applications that upgrading is totally unnecessary for at least 3 or 4 years which is the expected life of the machine anyway.

Woz

Apple prides itself on keeping greater compatibility by strictly controlling the hardware and OS and having less configurations to deal with. That might go against Open source. I would certainly favor Open Source though. I think that a lot of future OS 'improvers' would get educated this way. Examining code and trying to understand it is a better way to learn than from books. Associating the Macintosh with Linux would be the most positive thing Apple could do to be accepted everywhere. But Linux is UNIX and the underlying kernel of MacOS X will be MACH, which is also UNIX. It just may not be as popular as Linux.

While upgrading Macintosh hardware is often not easily accomplished, the basic elements (RAM, HD, Keyboard, peripherals, PCI cards) are easy to upgrade. It's just not so in the consumer models, the iMac and iBook. The audience for these products is better off not including upgrade in their vocabulary. Upgrading causes more problems than it fixes. Isn't that why you are working with WindowsNT and not willing to buy Microsoft for yourself?

Linux

in
Comment from E-mail

I am better than everyone I know at computers. That's why I choose Linux because it was more advanced. Windows sucks and there aren't enough non-desktop publishing apps ported to the Mac. But I would choose a Mac over windows, because Windows is always crashing and its slow and looks awful. But it has the most apps. You cant win all the time.

Woz

For different people, different platforms are the best. It's closely integrated with how we view ourselves too. Windows is too closely associated with corporations excluding the Macintosh platform as a form of corporate bigotry, that I find it too offensive to use as a person. Linux does suffer from a lack of apps for some kinds of people, notably Macintosh users. But I have yet to hear that Linux is as bad as any other platform in it's possibilities.

Macs Sucks?

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Macs suck. Linux is better and its faster than your unstable Macs. On a last note, MACS SUCK. Get a life get a PC and get a good OS and so on. Macs are crap they aren't compatible with other OS's. ha ha.

Woz

To some extent, an OS that does a lot for you becomes unstable and slower.

I have a lot of Linux servers at my site and they crash on occasion, as do the Macintosh servers. But for the most part you have good points. It's just that you'd be better heard by everyone if you avoided statements like "Macs suck." In saying that you instantly get most people (not myself necessarily) thinking that you just want to be critical and not contributory.

A good OS is like your friend. Personal computer users like to use their computers a lot and spend virtually no time upkeeping them or installing them. They aren't very technical either. The requirement of the technical ability to install Linux is out of the question for most PC users. Having to have a Linux expert around to fix and install and setup and explain things is unrealistic to most people that don't want to do it themselves.

Perhaps there will be local shops that maintain Linux machines someday and then we'll all have a better world.

The Open Software movement

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I just want you to know that you helped inspire me to get involved with computers and electronics. Reading articles in Popular Science, and a computer hobbyist magazine that I can't remember, I do remember the articles featured tinkering with the Osborne, Mac and the computer I was going to get.. The Ohio Scientific. I never got the Ohio Scientific, but I did build my own kit computer when I was 15, the Ace 2000, it was a clone of the old Sinclair boxes.

I later went to college to get an Electronic Engineering Degree. I designed access control systems for a while and started to write interface programs in C for the PCs. Later I picked up Unix and now I work as a "Systems Engineer" basically I design networks, program routers, unix system admin, perl scripts.. stuff like that.

I'd like to get your opinion of the Open Software movement. I run Linux on a G3 and have been very impressed with it's robustness.

Woz

You clearly came from the early computer days.

You can basically find lots of jobs but there's always way to much to know and learn to do it all in your field.

I like the motivations of the Open Software movement. It is probably the only way things can change in the OS world nowadays. No company could do what this movement is doing. I'm told that many many companies are developing hardware based on Linux (I have a TIVO) and are telling Microsoft that they are concentrating on Windows versions of software when they are really putting their main efforts into Linux versions. It makes sense.

One of my current woes is that I only get free time slots long enough to start reading my Linux installation manuals, and by the time I get back it's too late for that version, and I've never quite gotten there. Of course, 10 hours of email a day and lots of other normal human tasks get in the way of many things like that.

I am a hacker

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I also am a hacker but with the old meaning of the word...i like to explore all systems...especially unix-liked...I run Linux on my pc 'cause windows :]

Woz

You're in with the right sort of people today.

Big Satellite in the Sky

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Question from E-mail

What would be a good source for a guy like me to learn from in order to write an electronics oriented visual hardware design program for linux? And where the heck are the specs on them hardware languages?

I'm thinking of some sort of open hardware project.

One of the itches I need to scratch is namely a two way radio (stereo system/LAN compatible) that evolves out of the restrictive linear addressing scheme used these days. The other itch is to get it secured under an open patent. (whatever that means)

It bothers me FM can only carry 100 regional stations because it's limited to 88 to 108 Mhz at 200khz boundaries.

I have a design (still a bit vaporware) that allows a user to create their own radio signature. Through two carrier waves and one "scaling" component, it creates a complex carrier pattern. It then shifts the pattern into the FM radio range. Finally you modulate your message onto the carrier. It also takes the 100 station limit and pumps it up to 10^6, as long as I can prove mathematically that the carrier patterns are unique. Funny thing is, I can only get uniqueness if I go for the million station design. However, it is vapor, but hopefully not for long.

I know we have the Internet. However it seems we're not going to get better bandwidth including a true peer to peer global system unless we have phone companies put us through their satellites as soon as they feel like it. They're already scaling back modem bandwidth since they're only required to provide voice service. Besides the words "Big Satellite in the Sky" are as comforting as ... "Echelon Satellite in the Sky".

By the way, have you noticed some schools have been favoring homework on computers but still place actual learning of computers (C, ASM, COBOL) at the college level. I get slightly miffed when people tell me they learned assembly in High School.

Woz

If I had time, I'd want to meet you. You are very bright and trying to do things beyond the limits. It's fascinating. I agree with you about computer technology as belonging in all school levels, and I speak out on this at many speeches to education groups every year. The biggest problems are in the politics and bureaucracies of schools, but the major problem is lack of funds to allow changes or get more done in the same time. For example, one teacher with a handful of students can cover material many times faster than with a class of 30, and every student in the tiny class gets enough attention to guarantee success. Public schools set the level of how much we spend per student. Public schools are funded through the government. Government moneys are parcelled out according to voting strengths. But maybe only a third or less of families have kids in schools. The kids are the ones that need the schools but they don't get to vote. A family of five should have five votes. Then all of this would change and education would get more respect and there would be time for computer science.

In the meantime, why teach cursive? Why upper case? How many times have you calculated where two canoos will meet? Someday we'll sacrifice something for the sake of teaching computer science. It's important and beneficial. So is driving and so is TV but cars and TV aren't the primary educational tool of the century (this statement has a Y2K problem). Best wishes, Steve

Andy Hertzfeld

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Comment from E-mail

Dear Woz.. for whatever reasons i have always been a fan of you and Andy Hertzfeld. i know where you are, but i have lost track of Andy since his general magic days. have any idea where he is or what he is doing? Thanks for everything you have done for all of us, Ryan b. G.

Woz

Andy, one of the original Macintosh software geniuses, is one of the most incredible persons that I have ever known. He also has an incredible memory for interesting things involving Apple. Andy got interested in internet servers and related facilities some years ago. He set up his own domain and T1 lines and routers and all the stuff that I've done for a long time. He is a hands on person. He got interested in Linux and is working on open software. Most importantly, he got married. Next most important, he is great fun for everyone around him. The list of things that I could say about Andy is way too large, but he might be able to tell you.

Open Source

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Question from E-mail

How do you feel about the Open Source "revolution"? Do you think that projects like Linux, Apache, Gnome and KDE are rekindling the same kind of spirit as the Homebrew Computing Club? Also, do you see this as being the source of great new innovation, or do you think that new technology are destined to come ala committee's of uber corporations?

Woz

Open source attracts open minds. That's good.

Linux, FreeBSD, BeOS, etc...

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Question from E-mail

First I want to say thank you, not just for your contributions as an engineer but for serving as a valuable role model as well. My personal experiences with computers evolved from the C64's to Apple IIe's, Windows then UNIX (several varieties) and now I feel as though I found the perfect OS with Linux. With all the discussion of Mac vs. Windows it seems like other good options don't get the recognition they deserve. I would like to know your opinions on these alternative OSes (Linux, FreeBSD, BeOS, etc...) as well as the open source movement. Have you ever played around with any of the other systems and if so do you think it possible that you might switch to something other than a Mac?

Woz

It's only been Apple ][ and Mac for me. I used a little UNIX in the far past, and have to touch on it for some of the network equipment that I administer.

Over the years I met so many people doing things with Atari computers, particularly the Amiga, that were not easily doable with Macs or any other PC, that I was very impressed. Many of the best people ('best' meaning those that want things other than normal and that can't stop moving and all) are into Linux so I admire it. But with all my time consumed with a large family and many computers to maintain and a network too, and mail and magazines and updates and all, I won't have time for things like Linux for quite a while. I actually look forward to my children being gone.

Mac vs Windows?

in
Question from E-mail

How do you feel about the Mac vs. Windows war that some computer users
engage in?

Woz

I'm surprised at the extent of the bigotry. But it really plays out
when companies or schools take a side and prohibit the other platform
at all. We Mac users should be good even when the other side is bad. We
should do what we can to accept the other platforms. All the best people
in life seem to like LINUX.