Bad Software – Technology Review

Why Software Is So Bad: “In an amazingly short time, software has become critical to almost every aspect of modern life. From bank vaults to city stoplights, from telephone networks to DVD players, from automobile air bags to air traffic control systems, the world around us is regulated by code. Yet much software simply doesn’t work reliably: ask anyone who has watched a computer screen flush blue, wiping out hours of effort. All too often, software engineers say, code is bloated, ugly, inefficient and poorly designed; even when programs do function correctly, users find them too hard to understand.”

Disney using Linux for Animation

Disney Shifting to Linux for Film Animation: “Disney’s animation division is announcing today that it plans to use Hewlett-Packard workstations and data-serving computers running Linux for digital animation work in the future….The Disney move is the latest commitment by major studios and special-effects houses — including DreamWorks SKG, Pixar Animation Studios, Industrial Light and Magic and Digital Domain — to Linux.”

Linux-Windows TCO Study

A study done by CyberSource on the Total Cost of Ownership for Windows and Linux. Linux comes out 25-34% cheaper for a 250-node network over 3 years. This is the viewpoint from developed markets.

In emerging markets, the difference is going to be much greater, because the cost of support goes down. In fact, while in developed markets, the aim is to minimise cost of support, the emerging markets need a lower cost of hardware and software because that is the entry barrier. Salaries are much lower so support costs are lower. But the cost of hardware and software as a percentage of people’s salaries is very significant.

The approach to be taken in emerging markets is that fof a Tech Utility: provide hardware, software, training and support for a fixed price per month. Think of it as an AOL for computing. In fact, even the price should be AOL-like (USD 20 per month). That is the price point at which the market will take-off.

Linux in the Enterprise

A white paper from MetaSource. A good overview of applications available on the server and the desktop. We are using many of these applications for our Thin Client-Thick Server project. Things change a little when one looks at Thin Clients, rather than Thick Clients. Thats the challenge we have been working on.

Software Piracy in Asia

WSJ on the growing piracy of software in Asia:

Despite efforts by many Asian governments to crack down on software piracy, illegal copying of business-related software in the region increased for the second consecutive year in 2001, according to a survey by the Washington industry watchdog group Business Software Alliance.

The survey showed that Vietnam, China and Indonesia, respectively, are the three countries with the highest rates of piracy in the world.

“Asia is now far and away the region with the highest dollar losses,” arising from software piracy, the survey said. It estimated forgone revenue for software vendors in Asia in 2001 totaled $4.7 billion, or 43% of the global total, compared with $4.1 billion in 2000. World-wide, the percentage of bootlegged software rose to 40% of all installed software in 2001, from a low of 36% in 1999, according to BSA.

The article also states that the problem is likely to be understated because “it only looks at business software and not at operating systems or entertainment software like games”.

The figures for piracy are not surprising…software continues to be priced in US dollars in Asia, and this puts it beyond the reach of most people and enterprises. They are not born robbers. If pricing was re-thought (to one-tenth of the current levels or even lower), not only will volumes go up, but it will make businesses much more competitive which will lead them to invest more in technology.

Internet OS

An interesting, short presentation on the “Internet Operating System” by Michael Herman of ParellelSpace.

What we are trying to do on the Thick Server is an Enterprise OS. Need to think along the lines outlined by Herman.

Germany embraces Linux

WSJ: Germany, IBM Strike Linux Deal At Expense of Microsoft Windows:

Under the arrangement, German federal, state and local government offices would be entitled to steep discounts on IBM hardware that runs Linux. In many cases, the software would replace more expensive, proprietary software such as Windows and Unix. Financial details of the agreement weren’t disclosed.

Governments world-wide have been promoting a shift from proprietary software such as Windows to open-source products such as Linux. They argue this not only saves money, but reduces their reliance on a single corporate software provider and helps avoid compatibility problems when people use non-Microsoft products such as Web-browsing software Netscape and Opera.

One of the first instances I have come across of a government taking the lead with respect to Linux. Expect more such initiatives soon — for emerging markets, it is a no-brainer.

United Colours of Linux

Recently, four Linux companies decided to combine their versions of Linux into a common distribution called UnitedLinux. One of them is Caldera. has a QA with Caldera’s CEO. His view: “There are two major reasons as to why Linux is not being more widely adopted in the enterprise: certification of business applications and fragmentation of the code base. We believe that with this announcement we have solved both of these. With the four Linux companies involved, we get a global perspective, we have a strong global network, but more importantly, we have a single product that can be certified one time. ”

I think one of the confusing things about Linux is definitely the multiplicity of versions. As developers, one has to make a bet, because there are constant upgrades and its difficult to keep up with versions of multiple vendors. That said, the companies should have just adopted Red Hat’s base as the standard: Red Hat has over 50% of the market and has won. No point trying to make one more distribution. United, taken to the extreme. The enemy is Windows, not Red Hat.

The opportunity for Linux is on the desktop in the emerging markets of the world. Few US or Europe based companies seem to get this. Its the new users who can easily adopy Linux — migration of Windows users is not easy. Forget the first 500 million, focus on the next billion who cannot afford to pay for Microsoft Windows and Office.