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Microsoft .Net's impact to Automation Industry
As Microsoft's new software development tool .net will be launched soon, has anybody in the industry evaluated the impact it could put on automation, especially the area of HMI...

Dear list members,

As Microsoft's new software development tool .net will be launched soon, has anybody in the industry evaluated the impact it could put on
automation, especially the area of HMI:

1) The entire .net technology is claimed to be web-based, how will it help to develop or improve web-based HMI? Is there any HMI package supplier preparing to take the advantage of it?

2) The new language C# is obviously aimed at Java, and it has high chance to win. I remember the Java topic has been hot in this forum for these two years, but now is everybody preparing to shift to Microsoft or stay with Sun?

Best Regards,
Mark Meng

By Ranjan Acharya on 27 August, 2001 - 2:57 pm

I suppose we are about to have lots of hot air from the automation solution vendors. In the mean time we still have to deal with whether or not existing tools will work with Win 2000, Win 2000 SP1, Win 2000 SP2, Win XP, Win NT SP5, Win NT SP6a, DOS boxes under any flavour of Windows and GNU/Linux with its various X-window interfaces

Perhaps the IEC might even sit down and write a standard to cover .NET

For the most part, I am still reading about the PC-based automation controller revolution, the XML revolution, the unified single field bus
revolution, and the IEC 61131.3 revolution. In the mean time I keep working with incompatible non-interoperable tools.

Ranjan wrote:
> GNU/Linux with its various X-window interfaces

I thought GNU/Linux has always used X11 (R6) ?

There's a lot of window managers, but that's just decoration...
X itself is X.


Jiri
--
Jiri Baum <jiri@baum.com.au>
http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jirib
visit the MAT LinuxPLC project at http://mat.sf.net

By Walt Boyes on 27 August, 2001 - 4:32 pm

Here's my analysis, Mark.

First, the HMI technologies are not as important as what applications they are used on. This is emphatically true when you consider all types of control systems. We often get interested in the "howness of what" instead of the bottom line. You can see this in the fact that all the automation companies are moving to being integrators, and all the good integrators are moving up and out from their bases on the factory floor. HMIs and digital control systems have been available now for a decade...a _very long time_ in the business world of today. Managers and C-level company leaders take the capabilities of these systems for granted, often because they have never directly worked with them, and they assume that they work fine on the factory floor. They are more interested in how well they can integrate to the rest of the enterprise...and what the _benefits_ are in doing that.

Enterprise integration is _not_ cheap. By courtesy of Interwave Technology, Shari Worthington and I adapted a paper Charlie Gifford wrote as a sidebar in our new book _eBusiness in Manufacturing_. This sidebar details all of the planning and strategic work that has to be done, before the HMI is even bought, let alone installed, field tested and blest. When you read that, you get a clear understanding of just how costly even supply chain integration is.

Faced with those costs, and with hugely unsatisfactory records in most integration projects from CRM to ERP (CRM is worst, with an average failure rate of 65% of all projects) managers are reluctant to buy _any_ technology,
regardless of who developed it, unless the payback is clear and immediate.

Second, there is Microsoft itself. As a stockholder, I personally am a foaming madman, because I see them actually _forcing_ the government to break them up, and I don't think most parts of a broken up Microsoft will stand. I expect to lose a significant chunk of my retirement income, unless I sell soon. I can only hope that Gates and Ballmer have figured out that
we'll all come out ahead if the company is broken up...

Microsoft has simply terrified most IT professionals with the new "reporting" and "authorizing" features of Windows XP and .Net. There is no way on earth I will install an operating system that gives the vendor access to individual documents on my hard drives _on purpose_. Suppose, as was the case a few years ago, I was bidding a project to Microsoft, itself? It would be very easy for them to just lift my calcs, read them and know exactly what I was bidding and what margin I'd be making.

No corporate executive could possibly allow him or herself to be in that position.

So, it doesn't matter how cool .NET is. For the immediate future, Microstupid has shot themselves in the foot.

All that will happen in the near term is that people will continue to use the tools they've been using, because THEY WORK WELL ENOUGH to do factory floor projects, and people will continue to write ODBC and driver library hooks for the integration to SCM and ERP systems. Lots of people are using Microsoft's most stable platform, Windows NT4/SP6a, instead of upgrading.
Why should they?

Part of the reason for this, too, is that development costs money. In a time when all of the major automation companies are reporting reduced revenues, and all but two of the majors are in deep financial trouble, _and_ at least three of them are in danger of nonsurvival, there is nobody who is spending any significant amounts on R&D.

Add to this the intense development work going on in the open source community, and you can only begin to get a picture of a seriously fragmented situation becoming even more fluid.

We are likely to be back in the early '70s soon: incompatible OSs, fragmentary and fragmented versions with limited to poor version control, difficulty porting programs, difficulty interfacing programs. Part of the issue is that while Microsoft has committed suicide, most of their competitors are too stupid to do anything about it. And while the open source movement is making great strides, Linux is simply not ready for prime time, _yet_. It will be, but it simply is three or four years away.


Walt Boyes
co-author of "e-Business in Manufacturing: Putting the Internet
to Work in the Industrial Enterprise" ISA Press--September 2001 ISBN:
1-55617-758-5
____________________________________________
---------------------------------------------
Walt Boyes -- MarketingPractice Consultants
walt@waltboyes.com
21118 SE 278th Place - Maple Valley, WA 98038
253-709-5046 cell 425-432-8262 home office
fax:801-749-7142 ICQ: 59435534

"Strategic marketing, sales and electronic
business consulting for the small and medium-sized
enterprise: http://www.waltboyes.com"
---------------------------------------------

It depends on what you're after.

If you're looking for equivalents of Word or Excel, no, they're not there yet. You have a choice between feature-poor wysiwyg editors (gnome, kde) and the feature-rich but obscure TeX system (or LaTeX, if you prefer).

For a lot of other things, Linux is indeed ready. This is most obvious in the server area, especially with Apache; but in many ways automation is more similar to servers than to desktops anyway.


Jiri
--
Jiri Baum <jiri@baum.com.au>
http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jirib
visit the MAT LinuxPLC project at http://mat.sf.net

By Walt Boyes on 28 August, 2001 - 2:54 pm

No! No, it isn't.

Automation _used_ to be about hardware and process control.

Now, those things are tools, subsets of where the real action is for the future.

The real action is in providing the integration capability to as inexpensively as possible, integrate the entire enterprise, cross-plant and
vertical.

Microsoft has made a huge effort in this area, that is just starting to pay off for them. UDDI, for example.

The open source movement is still at the tweaking hardware stage. It _can_ catch up, it _may_ catch up, but not until somebody with a clue says,
"Here's $100 million. Make an OS that is packaged and clean, and better than Windows for the 80% application."

Give me a guaranteed user base of 200 million, and a $25 royalty on each OS sold, and I'll do it myself.

Get a clue, friends. It isn't about automation, or process control. It is about generating economies in manufacturing and distribution. If Linux or Snoopux or Charliebrownux can do that, easily and cleanly, it will win. And if there are no paybacks, it is doomed. It is about return on investment, not how cool the OS is.

Walt Boyes
co-author of "e-Business in Manufacturing: Putting the Internet
to Work in the Industrial Enterprise" ISA Press--September 2001 ISBN:
1-55617-758-5
____________________________________________

---------------------------------------------
Walt Boyes -- MarketingPractice Consultants
walt@waltboyes.com
21118 SE 278th Place - Maple Valley, WA 98038
253-709-5046 cell 425-432-8262 home office
fax:801-749-7142 ICQ: 59435534

"Strategic marketing, sales and electronic
business consulting for the small and medium-sized
enterprise: http://www.waltboyes.com"
---------------------------------------------

Walt wrote:
> No! No, it isn't.

Not sure what you're disagreeing with here...

That linux is ready or that automation resembles servers more than desktops?

If the latter: Like servers, and unlike desktops, automation is characterized by requirements for unattended, reliable operation, relatively qualified administration, lock-down requirements.

To be sure, it has some specifics all its own.

> The real action is in providing the integration capability to as
> inexpensively as possible, integrate the entire enterprise, cross-plant
> and vertical.

Linux supports many open protocols (and a few closed ones). In contrast, Microsoft provides a single-vendor solution, perhaps more comprehensive, but not greatly so.

> It _can_ catch up, it _may_ catch up, but not until somebody with a clue
> says, "Here's $100 million. Make an OS that is packaged and clean, and
> better than Windows for the 80% application."

You mean like IBM?

> It isn't about automation, or process control. It is about generating
> economies in manufacturing and distribution. If Linux or Snoopux or
> Charliebrownux can do that, easily and cleanly, it will win.

(FWIW, Linux is not named for the Charlie Brown character, but for its original author, Linus Torvalds.)

> And if there are no paybacks, it is doomed. It is about return on
> investment, not how cool the OS is.

I'm not sure what paybacks you refer to here - from manufacturing or from the OS itself?

For the OS itself, the argument is moot: the fact of the matter is that Linux+Apache is already one of the best combinations for Web serving. The
economic explanation may be interesting, but only to economists. As far as we are concerned, Linux simply is.

For manufacturing, the OS used for control doesn't matter, as long as it provides the services, reliability, flexibility etc required. So - what do you look for in an OS you're going to use for control?


(This last is a serious question, btw - if there's something specific lacking from Linux, we want to know about it, so that we can fix it.)


Jiri
--
Jiri Baum <jiri@baum.com.au>
http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jirib
visit the MAT LinuxPLC project at http://mat.sf.net

By Joe Jansen/ENGR/HQ/KEMET/US on 28 August, 2001 - 5:26 pm

Jiri,

I'll bite on that one. I am all over the open source idea. My problem is that I am not a C programmer. If I want to write something that will gather data from a PLC, pack it up, send it off through the WAN to a also-freshly-written client for display on my desktop, I whip out Visual Basic 6.0 Enterprise. I have not seen anything in Linux that can let me do it as easily as VB. That is what *I* am looking for.

None of my controls are PC based. Any critical data is stored in the PLC because I know that Wonder-Where? may crap out at any second. That is how I handle both reliability and security. Don't trust the PC.

Ease of programming, tho, is king for simple data collections that are temp jobs to catch a fault and send me what I need to know. I realize that DDE to RSLinx sucks, but it is pretty simple to set up. Winsock may not be the greatest implementation in the world, but drag, drop, punch in some port and IP info, and it is sending my data off into the great beyond. At my client end, set my port and IP, connect, and viola! Here comes my data. Simple and straight forward to a non-C programmer.

I am willing to sweat out coding elegance and good design work for a machine control. But for a utility that I am going to use for a week or
two and toss, what can I use in Linux that offers that ease of setup? (That, too, is a serious question. If something exists, I'd love to hear).

Let's face it: Not everyone knows C. And that seems to be a requirement for working seriously with Linux. I have bought RH 6.2, downloaded and
installed RH 7 and mandrake 7. My computer at home is a dual boot. Yet even though I don't *think* I'm an idiot, none of the downloaded packages seem to ever work for me. NONE. I tried getting a driver for my digital camera. Found it on the web. It was an exact match to my camera's model number. Didn't work. I tried getting StarOffice to install. Complains about libraries. Get all the library rpm's installed, and staroffice simply won't launch. I try it under KDE, under Gnome, from command line. nothing. Linux is not ready for non-geek home use. Curt, I realize that you have deployed it across your entire workforce. You are also there to make it work. I gave up. I haven't booted to Linux for months now. Mainly because I cannot get anything to run that doesn't install with the
distro. Bottom line is Linux is not a system for someone who doesn't want to spend their life doing it.

</Tirade>
</RANT>

--Joe Jansen

By Walt Boyes on 29 August, 2001 - 1:54 pm

My point exactly, Joe. Thanks for making it so well.

Walt Boyes
co-author of "e-Business in Manufacturing: Putting the Internet
to Work in the Industrial Enterprise" ISA Press--September 2001 ISBN:
1-55617-758-5
____________________________________________

---------------------------------------------
Walt Boyes -- MarketingPractice Consultants
walt@waltboyes.com
21118 SE 278th Place - Maple Valley, WA 98038
253-709-5046 cell 425-432-8262 home office
fax:801-749-7142 ICQ: 59435534

"Strategic marketing, sales and electronic
business consulting for the small and medium-sized
enterprise: http://www.waltboyes.com"
---------------------------------------------

By David Wooden on 29 August, 2001 - 2:07 pm

Kylix ( http://www.borland.com/kylix/ ) ?

David Wooden
Senior Software Engineer, Systems Integration
Automation and Enterprise Solutions Group
TAS Division of Omron Electronics LLC
Office: (847) 884-7034 Extension 432
Fax: (847) 884-9383
E-mail: david.wooden@omron.com

By moores3@squared.com on 29 August, 2001 - 3:16 pm

Is that a recommendation David?


From what I could gather this is a PASCAL development environment for Linux. It has been a while since I used PASCAL. I believe it was Turbo
PASCAL v1.0. That brings back fond memories. Back when life was simple... ;-)

This sounds like something that might work. A closed source solution for developing software on Linux. You have to pay for it. Hey, at least it has a business model that makes sense!

By Dan L. Pierson on 29 August, 2001 - 4:05 pm

Caveat: The following based on Delphi, the predecessor to Kylix. I believe that it's true for Kylix as well.

It's a Pascal development environment in the same sense that Visual Basic is a Basic development environment. I.E.:

- It's really a fancy GUI development environment with a lot of tools and libraries. Most programming is done by drawing interfaces and
writing little event routines for them.

- The base language is Pascal.

- Their Pascal is heavily extended in their own ways.

Good things:

- The Pascal is object oriented.

- There is an underlying class library that is useful and well designed (as opposed to MFC). The class library is implemented in Kylix and the source code for it is available. IMHO, the source code is required. I could never have survived six or so years of MFC development without the source -- there are too many bugs you'll never track down without it.

- IMHO, it has much better facilities for managing large programs than Visual Basic.

- Delphi has good COM support these days. Don't know how Kylix handles this since COM is a Windows thing (though there are Linux copies such
as the XPCOM that Mozilla is based on).

> This sounds like something that might work. A closed source solution for
> developing software on Linux. You have to pay for it. Hey, at least it has
> a business model that makes sense!

Their Linux marketing approach is rather interesting. You can get one of two versions:

- The full commercial version that you can develop commercial programs in.

- A cheap version (free if you download it) with GPL'd libraries that you can only use to develop GPL'd applications. The libraries are actually identical between the two versions, but the licenses are different.

Despite all of the above, I'd be more likely to use Python for quick and dirty code that doesn't require a fancy GUI. Much higher level language means much less code to write means shorter development time. Also has a huge library. Also cross platform, for a much wider range of platforms than Windows and Linux. But then I don't need a fancy GUI to drag and drop in (and I am a C programmer so don't listen to me :-)).

Dan Pierson

moores3@squared.com wrote:
> You have to pay for it. Hey, at least it has a business model that makes
> sense!

Some people just can't wrap their minds around the Open Source concept...

You don't *need* a business model for something to make sense. Witness gcc and apache - best of breed for what they do.

The reason is that collecting money for usage is so expensive - both tangibly and intangibly - that it turns out to be better overall not to.


Jiri
--
Jiri Baum <jiri@baum.com.au>
http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jirib
visit the MAT LinuxPLC project at http://mat.sf.net

By moores3@squared.com on 30 August, 2001 - 3:56 pm

Some people realize open source makes sense for niche software. In that environment you can't make money. There is no business model because there is no business to be made from it. Things like gcc were partially funded by direct grants and things. In other cases the work was paid for by university employees so our tax dollars paid for it.

Have your niche and enjoy it.

By Curt Wuollet on 30 August, 2001 - 5:27 pm

Hi Sam

Thank you. It's getting to be a very, very, big niche and commercial software vendors are completely missing the boat. The latest survey InfoWorld survey indicates that half the CTO's surveyed are willing to trust their business
with OSS applications and tools. Leading reason was the odious licensing and "charge for the time of day" attitude of commercial software vendors. It will be in everyone's interest if Open Minded and cooperative suppliers get a chance to redefine the value equation. Automation will be 5 years behind the curve but even in this last bastion of proprietary excess there will come a
time where you meet the demand for reasonable openness and the benefits of common formats and protocols or simply be overrun by smarter, more customer oriented competitors. The anti-customer licensing and terms belong properly in the last century not the new one. Fortunately, the installed base revenue will give vendors a chance to adapt.

The big thing that proprietary software vendors are forgetting is that the customer likes a profitable business model also.

http://www.infoworld.com/articles/tc/xml/01/08/27/010827tcintro.xml

Regards

cww

Hi all;

First ,,, I fully support an "open" project or product. I follow the growth of many open products, in hope of finding an application for it. I like competition, it encouraged growth in our industry.

HOWEVER ...... here is exactly why I continue to use and support the MS product line.

Yesterday I "clean installed" a complete MS network of 2 Win2K Workstations and 2 WinXP Pro Workstations. This included 4 X NIC's, 2 X CDRW's, 2 network printers, LAN Ethernet hub, and a Cable and dialup modem with firewalls and anti-virus software. I also installed Office 2K on the Win2K platforms and OfficeXP on the Office XP platforms. I then setup my email and newsgroup accounts. Everything is up and running !! In fact, this post is coming from one of the Win2K Workstations.

Now,,,, how many "open" enthusiasts can do that in one (albeit very long) day ??

Seems to me that I'd still be searching for drivers and compiling code to make this work under a *nix OS.

Regards
Mark Hill
Microsoft Associate Expert
Wizcon Distributor
Rugid Distributor

By Willy Smith on 3 September, 2001 - 1:25 pm

Probably none, the first time. cww could probably get it done, though, and still have time to write a self-tuning PID module for Puffin during the breaks.

>Seems to me that I'd still be searching for drivers and compiling code to
>make this work under a *nix OS.

If you got the computers in a box of junk at a swap meet, that's probably true. I can't imagine it being true for a careful user buying new machines.

Regards,

Willy Smith


Q. How many NT=AE programmers does it take to change a light bulb? A. Thirty-one to rough out the idea and 29 to write tech notes revising the
process.
Q. How many Microsoft=AE Help Line engineers does it take to change a light bulb? A. Just one-but then there's no one left to answer the phone.
Q. How many LINUX=AE users does it take to change a light bulb? A. Just one-but the bulb has to be free.
Q. How many NT=AE engineers does it take to change a light bulb? A. At least two-one to change it and one to add security holes.
Q. How many Windows=AE engineers does it take to change a light bulb? A. Sorry, they can't help you-you have to wait for "Light Bulb 2002" (release date-October, 2003).
Q. How many Windows=AE engineers does it take to change a light bulb? A. None-Windows engineers fear change.
Q. How many Microsoft=AE ad writers does it take to change a light bulb? A. None-it's their job to turn darkness into a "feature."
Q. How many Windows=AE users does it take to change a light bulb? A. Change it? Why? They're used to things not working.
Q. How many Windows=AE networking vendors does it take to change a light bulb? A. None-it's not a high enough priority during a system crash.
Q. How many NT=AE ISPs does it take to change a light bulb? A. Three-one to change the bulb and two to get the press releases out.

Mark Hill:
> >Everything is up and running !! In fact, this post is coming from one
> >of the Win2K Workstations.

> >Now,,,, how many "open" enthusiasts can do that in one (albeit very
> >long) day ??

Willy Smith:
> Probably none, the first time.

It's only four machines, not that much of a problem.

Actually, anyone who's ever helped out in an installfest will probably have more impressive numbers already, and most of those would be dual-boot setups with pre-existing installations of another OS to complicate things.

> >Seems to me that I'd still be searching for drivers and compiling code
> >to make this work under a *nix OS.

> If you got the computers in a box of junk at a swap meet, that's probably
> true.

Probably much the same for Windows, too - if you get junk at a swap meet, that's what you get.

Jiri
--
Jiri Baum <jiri@baum.com.au>
http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jirib
visit the MAT LinuxPLC project at http://mat.sf.net

By Curt Wuollet on 18 September, 2001 - 3:51 pm

Hi Willy

I'm just catching up and thought your remark needed a reply. Below.

> Probably none, the first time. cww could probably get it done, though, and
> still have time to write a self-tuning PID module for Puffin during the
> breaks.

You completely overstate my abilities. I am not a fantastic programmer as many of those who have read my code will attest. Many reading this are
much more skilled, I'm sure. However, I am not overstating my accomplishments or understating the effort required to achieve them. The big thing here that no one seems to get at all is that I know how to make the Open Source method work for me and I am determined to use Linux for my work. I can do very impressive things without writing much new code or reinventing the wheel. There is a body of knowledge that must be acquired
as a base, but once past that, Open Source is a vast resource and a killer tool that lets a C hacker like me accomplish things far beyond what is thought practical for one person. 90% or more of a project is already written and debugged and waiting to be used. I merely have to glue the bits together and tie it to the bizarre and occult world of automation.

When I am describing projects or I mention that something can be easily done in Linux, I am not tooting my horn, I am saying that the sharing of
source code and knowledge empowers me to be extremely productive _without_ being a Linux guru. That's what I am zealous and excited about.

It's a lot like the VB phenomena. Learn a few things and write a few lines of code and the results are impressive. The biggest thing is getting over the ego thing that you have to write it all yourself.

Generally installing and using Linux is much the same. Yes, you have to learn a few things. But in the process, you find out how to make the
community work for you and the power and speed of working that way will astound you. 24x7, any question you can ask! That's why Linux produces
so many zealots and happy converts and is the crux of the movement. The Return On Investment is what's driving the whole thing. It's widely misstated and even more widely misunderstood.
In fact, it's taken me a long time to identify why it's such a great tool. And that's why no one who hasn't made the effort understands the
excitement. All they see is the ladder, they don't see the slide.

Regards

cww

By Curt Wuollet on 3 September, 2001 - 1:36 pm

Hi Mark

Lots. We wouldn't need to load most of the functionality, it comes with the OS. And we wouldn't need to buy and install antivirus software or a firewall RedHat Linux includes world class firewall facilities. NICS are autodetected as are CDRW's. Lpr is the standard for network printing. The cable modem might present a challange if the ISP only supports Microsoft but selecting a good ISP will fix that too. Could the average casual user do either of
these? Probably not. But anyone you pay to do it could. The major differences here would be the thousands of dollars and the Windows compatibility. But they would be functionally equivalent. Of course, even if it took a couple of days the cost would still be far less and the stability greater. And there is no license tracking or forced upgrades. I am writing this on a Linux box I set up in half an hour. It hasn't been booted since. I don't see anything exceptional in your task, that's all pretty much
standard functionality. All in one box for $50.00 for Linux. And if I add 100 more stations to the network, it's still $50.00. I could do it for free but I don't begrudge RedHat the $50.00 for one boxed distribution.

For the cost difference you could hire a LUG for a couple of days and drink coffee. In the 100 case you could easily hire a full time Linux
guy and he'd show you the tremendous advantage in the other thousands of applications included at no cost. Like a Fax server, Web server, several mail servers and agents,a dozen or so languages, thin clients, routers, IPV6, intranet facilities, messaging, web cacheing and lots of handy stuff Windows doesn't have. Oh, and we could do it on the last generation of hardware that you replaced or upgraded so you could run W2K or WinXP. And you won't have to ever mail a subscription check to anyone. What would it cost for you to provide all that?


Regards

cww

Jiri/ccw;

You're both absolutely correct ..... any well trained installer can create a small network in a few hours, regardless of the OS. The question is not the capability of the installer or the application software being installed. The question is ..... what will the client accept.
I've talked to all my clients about various *nix OS's and ALL of them shudder with fear. A few years ago I installed a number of QNX (V2 and V4) sites that I believe are infinitely more powerful and crash proof than any Windows system I've ever installed. Since installation, each one of them has converted to WindowsNT because their IT department wasn't happy with QNX.

Clients demand Windows. They see it on their corporate desktops and then insist it be installed in the control systems.

The bottom line is ,,,,,,, the *nix community needs to do a better job of marking their products before the corporate boss (the one with the check book in his pocket) will accept them.

Mark Hill

PS ... I'm still "open" to suggestions, but my clients aren't !

Mark Hill wrote:
> The question is ..... what will the client accept.

Then you're changing the question...

> Clients demand Windows. They see it on their corporate desktops and then
> insist it be installed in the control systems.

In some ways, this is truly amazing - they *see* how stable Windows is, and they're happy to see it control a machine?

> The bottom line is ,,,,,,, the *nix community needs to do a better job of
> marking their products before the corporate boss (the one with the check
> book in his pocket) will accept them.

Actually, this is changing... corporate penetration of linux is going up. See the link posted by Curt a couple of days back, http://www.infoworld.com/articles/tc/xml/01/08/27/010827tcintro.xml

Not much we can do about it, but if this is right and there is a rapid rise, we probably shouldn't do a thing.

Jiri
--
Jiri Baum <jiri@baum.com.au>
http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jirib
visit the MAT LinuxPLC project at http://mat.sf.net

By Joe Jansen/ENGR/HQ/KEMET/US on 3 September, 2001 - 1:56 pm

I have to disagree here.... Despite my earlier posting, I have set up a linux server on Macintosh hardware, loaded SAMBA from the distribution disks, and tied it into a WinNT4.0sp6a network in 1 *morning* (as in start
about 9, done by noon). This included setting up filesharing and print sharing, as well as using the NT server as PDC for password authentication
and cinfiguring SAMBA to report itself as a WinNT 4.1 server <grin>. Setting up a network of 4 machines hardly seems difficult. Most of your
install time is spent sleeping through the disk thrashing anyway.....

--Joe Jansen

moores3@squared.com wrote:
> Some people realize open source makes sense for niche software.

Actually, most of the analyses I've read say it makes most sense for commodity software...

It's the economies-of-scale thing, taken to an unprecedented extreme, because of the extremely low cost of additional copies. Obviously that still leaves the problem of the fixed costs.

> Have your niche and enjoy it.

Actually, it's in niches that money is reasonably to be made: most commonly in the form of custom programming (in-house or consultant), corresponding to a niche of one customer.

That's where most people on this list make their living, after all.

Jiri
--
Jiri Baum <jiri@baum.com.au>
http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jirib
visit the MAT LinuxPLC project at http://mat.sf.net

By Walt Boyes on 30 August, 2001 - 4:17 pm

Don't need a business model? Don't need a business model??? Ah. All the dot.gone dotcoms will certainly agree with you.

The name of the game in the New Economy is the same as it was in the Old Economy. In order to do what you want, you have to get people to pay you.

Income minus outgo equals money you made.

Walt Boyes
co-author of "e-Business in Manufacturing: Putting the Internet
to Work in the Industrial Enterprise" ISA Press--September 2001 ISBN:
1-55617-758-5
____________________________________________
---------------------------------------------
Walt Boyes -- MarketingPractice Consultants
walt@waltboyes.com
21118 SE 278th Place - Maple Valley, WA 98038
253-709-5046 cell 425-432-8262 home office
fax:801-749-7142 ICQ: 59435534

"Strategic marketing, sales and electronic
business consulting for the small and medium-sized
enterprise: http://www.waltboyes.com"
---------------------------------------------

By Vitor Finkel on 30 August, 2001 - 5:15 pm

Same formula results in money you loose, it only depends upon a small minus sign on the result.

Vitor

TANSTAAFL (there ain't no such thing as a free lunch).

Walt:
> Don't need a business model? Don't need a business model??? Ah. All the
> dot.gone dotcoms will certainly agree with you.

"Yet there it is..."

Software has the nice feature of low copying cost, low enough to be effectively zero in many circumstances. Zeroes wreak havoc in any theory.

> The name of the game in the New Economy is the same as it was in the Old
> Economy. In order to do what you want, you have to get people to pay you.

Certainly - but that's a different question. The mere existence of the software doesn't require it, it can arise in other ways.

For instance, as a hobby - if I play with model trains and make a neat layout (at a cost of thousands of dollars and countless manhours), I have a neat layout. If I play with virtual model trains and make a neat layout (at a cost of a few dollars and countless manhours), everyone can have a copy.


Drats, now I've made software an epiphenomenon.

Jiri
--
Jiri Baum <jiri@baum.com.au>
http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jirib
visit the MAT LinuxPLC project at http://mat.sf.net

By Vladimir E. Zyubin on 4 September, 2001 - 4:49 pm

Hello Walt,

You have made the right point, "to make money you have to get people to pay"... And it is the real goal MS strives for.

Obviously the goal is weakly connected with software quality... and mostly deals with product "marketappeal"...

BTW, the game (MS plays) looks like the Inverse Economy...
http://www.friction-free-economy.com/archives/doseindex.html


Best regards,
Vladimir mailto:zyubin@iae.nsk.su

By Michael Griffin on 9 September, 2001 - 3:42 pm

You have to get people to pay you for something, but not necessarily for a product. The current business fad is for services rather than
products. Stock analysts are promoting "services" companies as being better investments than ones who merely make things.

Many (if not most) of the computer software and hardware companies have said that they see a better future in providing services rather than just selling hardware or software packages. IBM began this process some years ago, but many other companies have announced similar plans.
Dot Net is part of Microsoft's attempt to join this trend. Their long term plan involves trying to get more revenue from services (or
subscriptions), and less from simple sales. They have an additional spur to action because they are facing market saturation with their current products (Windows and Office). Their current business model (and stock price) requires growth rates that can't be sustained by straight forward sales of these products.

In a practical sense, suppose you are providing a complete turnkey system (e.g. plant integration into an MES). The less money you have to pay out in license fees to other companies, the more which ends up in your own pocket. The business model which Linux and other similar software fits into is as an incidental tool used by people who are providing a service. The
operating system shouldn't be the centre piece of the system, the application is what actually provides the value to the customer.

This model also fits situations where proprietary software is packaged together with open source software. For example, if National
Instruments packaged Labview together with Linux, they would have a higher value product without any additional cost. If they took responsibility for both parts, they could even call this packaging a "service" if they really wanted to please the stock analysts. This by the way would give you a complete solution from a single source (another popular notion), something which is impossible with Windows.

The computing industry seems to be going through the early stages of one of its periodic sets of convulsions in which the entire industry gets turned upside down. In each of the previous such industry changes, the new market leaders which emerged were companies who either didn't exist in the previous phase, or who had existed in a different (and smaller) form. The previous market leaders either went broke or into irreversible decline. There is no reaon why the current set of market changes would be any
different in this respect from the previous ones.

**********************
Michael Griffin
London, Ont. Canada
**********************

Michael wrote:
> In a practical sense, suppose you are providing a complete turnkey system
> (e.g. plant integration into an MES). The less money you have to pay out
> in license fees to other companies, the more which ends up in your own
> pocket.

As a side note, even if the whole project were GPL, there'd still be a need for someone to know what they're doing, what "plant" and "integration" and "MES" mean and how to put it all together.

> This model also fits situations where proprietary software is packaged
> together with open source software.

That's probably the route most integrators will take at this stage - package their proprietary custom code together with linux and other open
source software to provide a complete solution.


Jiri
--
Jiri Baum <jiri@baum.com.au>
http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jirib
visit the MAT LinuxPLC project at http://mat.sf.net

By David McGilvray on 12 September, 2001 - 1:54 pm

This convulsion process is described very clearly by Clayton M. Christensen, Harvard Business Professor, in his 1997 book, The Innovator's Dilemma. Recommended by Andrew S. Grove, former CEO, Intel Corp.

David McGilvray, P. Eng.

By Johan Bengtsson on 25 September, 2001 - 2:19 pm

Ok, I'll try to explan one possible buisness model:

I have a problem I need to solve, in my buisness. I get paid by someone to get that thing working.

I realize the same, or at least similar problems, would need to be solved by other as well.

The solution to my problem involves making four things, for example a driver for communicating with a certain I/O, a driver for comunicating with a certain brand of PLC, some way of showing
some information on a screen and some connections between those.
(this is a non existing example just selected for describing the model).

Now I have some options:
* I can do them all by myself.
* I can try to find someone selling some of the parts and write the others myself.
* I can join forces with someone else trying to do a similar thing and decide that I write some parts and the others write other parts.
* I can use already made GPL:ed parts and add those missing.

Now, what does this cost?
Well, everything I do by myself will take time, time=money ie a cost.
If I buy something there is a cost.
Joining forces will make me spend less time on my parts, becasue there are fewer of them.
Using existing free parts is of course cheaper - if they exist.
If they don't, well then that is not an option is it?

Further about joining forces: I might be good at writing drivers, bet very bad at writing visualization. Other people might be the other way around.
If each driver would cost me about one week of work and the visualization about three weeks.
Then, if there is someone else just the other way around, he/she would write the visualization in one week but need three weeks to finish each driver.
If I could find one person like that and one other like me we could finnish those three tasks in one week each. The connecting them togheter task might be unshareable since it might need to
be done differently and we all have to do our own part of that anyway.

Some people have realised that if we join forces and thereby do less in order to solve each problem we have then we have to spend less time and thereby have a smaller cost. In order to give a way the work done mutually some people like to have a "guarantee" that using the part I did would remain free to all other people as well.

I hope you see where the buisness is in this model - and why.

/Johan Bengtsson

----------------------------------------
P&L, Innovation in training
Box 252, S-281 23 H{ssleholm SWEDEN
Tel: +46 451 49 460, Fax: +46 451 89 833
E-mail: johan.bengtsson@pol.se
Internet: http://www.pol.se/
----------------------------------------

All,

I had this e-conversation on another forum and Jim Pinto suggested I share it here. I apologize for its length but I used to attend this forum
regularly and I think many will take interest in the content.
======================================================
I read with interest the opinions of Walt in your latest on Microsoft.NET. Is using .NET as crazy as using NT for factory automation? I remember many tireless arguements on the Automation List about that one too.

As you know, I transferred out of industrial automation and into residential automation about two years ago (and just got laid off) and man, you would be set on your ear to find out what is going on over here. By Residential automation I DO mean the Jetsons sitting around the evening JVM dining on downloaded applets. For those of you who believe the Interenet Lifestyle, often referred to as the Jetson's Lifestyle, is a laugh, check out www.internethomealliance.org. Now, once you have digested the list of founding members (Sears, GM, Cisco, Motorola, Invensys, etc) consider that EACH of these founders fronted $2.5mil to join. Yes, that's right - the iHA
hit the ground running with $50mil in cold hard cash. Imagine what Bill Moss could have done with $50mil in his pocket on day one.

Now let's look at the two big driving standards behind Residential Automation, www.osgi.org and www.upnp.org. OSGi is the Open Services Gateway Intiiative formed by Sun and populated by basically the same group of companies as iHA. The principle behind OSGi is that you have a
Residential Gateway running a full JVM ontop of which sits your JAVA Embedded Server as a run-time engine. This is an empty bucket into which
your ISP or some other benevolent body can pour JAVA Service Bundles. To put this into "your" terms, you download Self Tuning algorithms on startup. Once the machine is running and tuned, you remove the Self-tuning and download code for SPC. If there is an SPC alarm, you remove the SPC code and download Adaptive Tuning or Diagnostics code. ...all this just to save
a few Meg of Flash. Is this starting to sound like the .NET concept?

Now add to this UPnP, Universal Plug and Play, formed by Microsoft and filled with basically the same list of companies that are in OSGi and iHA.
UPnP is XML based and says that any device can hop onto a network, declare itself as a member, describe itself to everyone and then become an active part of the automation framework. This is a beautiful concept when combined with ODVA-style device profiles. It could eliminate tens of thousands of dollars in configuration time for a SCADA package.

So what happens if a server somewhere downloads a hostile Service Bundle to your OSGi Gateway? Or what happens if a hostile node hops onto your UPnP
network? These organizations haven't sorted out all of these details yet because they are not Controls companies. They are still struggling with the same dilemmas we all solved 20 years ago, but it gets worse.

In a factory, you have wires, and these wires are shielded, and these wires connect instruments, and these instruments are in cabinets, and these
cabinets are earthed with big copper rods, locked with padlocks and only opened by trained personnel. In the home, you communicate with your
appliances and electric meters over the same powerline (yes, PLC means PowerLine Carrier, not Programmable Logic Controller) your neighbor uses to turn on his lights, or your thermostat talks to your gateway via the same Bluetooth network your neighbor uses to print from his laptop, or you download MPEGs over the same 802.11b wireless ethernet your neighbor uses to browse the interent. They are all different logical nets but they all use the same PHY as does your neighbor.

Now don't get me wrong; the companies behind these standards are full of smart people who recognize that these sub-nets must be secure. They are just having a bit of trouble getting there.

So should we be afraid of the .NET scenario? I don't know, but there is a much bigger industry out there than "yours" that will end up choking it down right along with the java that you purchased automatically via www.Peapod.com.

Mitch
mitchcarr@msn.com

By Lou Heavner on 30 August, 2001 - 6:02 pm

moores3@squared.com wrote:
> You have to pay for it. Hey, at least it has a business model that makes
> sense!

Some people just can't wrap their minds around the Open Source concept...

You don't *need* a business model for something to make sense. Witness gcc and apache - best of breed for what they do.

The reason is that collecting money for usage is so expensive - both tangibly and intangibly - that it turns out to be better overall not to.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
I would suggest that if there isn't some strategy for collecting some revenue, somewhere, somehow, then you are merely dabbling in a hobby. Not
that a hobby is a bad thing, but I'm guessing that most of the folks who would develop or use open source in automation are not financially
independent and expect to use their automation skills to put bread on the table. They may not need to collect revenue directly from the open source stuff, but they do need to have a plan or model for paying for the investment they make into it in terms of time and skill. I suspect most people are still trying to figure out how to justify something so non-traditional and counterintuitive. Perhaps some of the linux evangelists would be more effective if they clarify this new paradigm rather than just shoot down the old one. What honestly motivates you to contribute to open source?

Cheers!

Lou Heavner
(My personal opinion and not necessarily that of my employers or affiliates.)

By Curt Wuollet on 3 September, 2001 - 2:14 pm

Hi Lou

You're absolutely right and I have tried through various articles and posts to explain that OSS or Commercial software is mostly irrelevent to what most of us get paid for. A solution is a solution is a solution. I get paid to solve problems with Linux and free software just as surely as anyone here gets paid to solve them with proprietary products. Our core competancy is solving problems with hardware and software tools. Some people use AB and some GE, etc. I use Linux. We aren't getting paid for the means we are getting paid for the end. And if that means is much cheaper and more flexible and faster to implement that can only mean that we keep more of the pie and get more jobs with a lower quote. I have never maintained that anyone should give their "value added" away. If you sell a solution based on the LPLC, for example, who owns the solution code is strictly between you and the customer. If you add something new to the LPLC itself, it should go back to the project but, the solution is what you're selling. Hardware and the commercial software that many are so vigorously defending seldom add much to your bottom line because it's already marked up to the max. It's the knowlege and skill and time that constitute the bulk of most projects. I fail to see how that would change if you use OSS rather than proprietary products.

I'm glad you asked.

Regards

cww

Curt Wuollet wrote:

> Our core competancy is solving problems with hardware and software tools.
...
> I have never maintained that anyone should give their "value added" away.

Even if, hypothetically, you did give all your code away after each project, the argument would still be the same. The core competency isn't
(shouldn't be) the code, it's solving problems.

> If you sell a solution based on the LPLC, for example, who owns the
> solution code is strictly between you and the customer. If you add
> something new to the LPLC itself, it should go back to the project but,
> the solution is what you're selling.

Exactly.

If you *want* to GPL your code, that'd be great - no point everyone else reinventing the wheel. But you don't have to (unless you start with somebody else's GPL'd project code, of course).

Lou wrote:
> > I would suggest that if there isn't some strategy for collecting some
> > revenue, somewhere, somehow, then you are merely dabbling in a hobby.

Or an epiphenomenon. Something that arises as a side-effect of what you're really being paid to do.

> > Perhaps some of the linux evangelists would be more effective if they
> > clarify this new paradigm rather than just shoot down the old one.

Well, one possible paradigm is the above: when the problem you're being paid to solve is a close match to existing GPL code, customize it for your
client and contribute the changes back into the code pool. You get paid for doing the customization, putting it all together and for your expertise in knowing what's available.

> > What honestly motivates you to contribute to open source?

Me, personally, it's either hobby or education - I'm a university student; I have some experience of automation but not all that much (one or two
machines, one of them as big as a bus). I usually work on it when I should be doing my thesis instead :-)

Jiri
--
Jiri Baum <jiri@baum.com.au>
http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jirib
visit the MAT LinuxPLC project at http://mat.sf.net

By David Wooden on 3 September, 2001 - 1:47 pm

Sam Moore wrote:
> Is that a recommendation David?

Not so much a recommendation as just noting that there is a development environment out there for Linux that is more than just a command line C
compiler.

> From what I could gather this is a PASCAL development environment for
> Linux. It has been a while since I used PASCAL. I believe it was Turbo
> PASCAL v1.0. That brings back fond memories. Back when life was
> simple... ;-)

Pascal is not that much harder to learn than Basic. If you could use VB well, I'm sure you could figure out Kylix.

> This sounds like something that might work. A closed source solution for
> developing software on Linux. You have to pay for it. Hey, at least it
> has a business model that makes sense!

If you're developing open source products, you don't even have to pay for it.

David Wooden
Senior Software Engineer, Systems Integration
Automation and Enterprise Solutions Group
TAS Division of Omron Electronics LLC
Office: (847) 884-7034 Extension 432
Fax: (847) 884-9383
E-mail: david.wooden@omron.com

By Curt Wuollet on 12 September, 2001 - 9:41 am

Hi David, Sam

David Wooden Omron wrote:
>
> Sam Moore wrote:
> > Is that a recommendation David?
>
> Not so much a recommendation as just noting that there is a development
> environment out there for Linux that is more than just a command line C
> compiler.

Actually there are quite a few, including even Code warrior. IBM has ported many of their WebSphere products as well, and Top Page for html. I am not well versed in these as I do mostly systems programming and I like the
command line tools. A search on Freshmeat gets a lot of hits, but Kylix is the first RAD system from a familiar PC development tools house. Oracle
and SAP have linux products as well and all the major databases except, of course Microsoft. The picture has changed dramatically in the last two
years. And most have some provision for respecting the Open Source nature of Linux. And there's Glade and other interface builders. I don't think it would be hard to duplicate the day to day automation tools on Linux.

> > From what I could gather this is a PASCAL development environment for
> > Linux. It has been a while since I used PASCAL. I believe it was Turbo
> > PASCAL v1.0. That brings back fond memories. Back when life was
> > simple... ;-)

It was a landmark product. The first affordable programming environment for PC's. I did a lot of stuff with TP and IEEE488 for Control Data.
Life is still simple if you can live without GUI's. And there's 90% less code. By the way, Linux has a Pascal to C translator if you want to see your old stuff run again. Kinda cool.

> Pascal is not that much harder to learn than Basic. If you could use VB
> well, I'm sure you could figure out Kylix.

I like Pascal and it has been used as the basis for automation tools like Karal. They kinda lost me with OOP but that's mostly because of the type of work I do. I wish I had time to check all this stuff out.

Regards

cww

--
Free Tools!
Machine Automation Tools (LinuxPLC) Free, Truly Open & Publicly Owned
Industrial Automation Software For Linux. mat.sourceforge.net.
Day Job: Heartland Engineering, Automation & ATE for Automotive Rebuilders.
Consultancy: Wide Open Technologies: Moving Business & Automation to Linux

The easiest way is not to do it at all. You can telnet or ssh into the server machine from the client machine and start the program there. No
networking required - it's all hidden by the OS.


If you do need the networking, you can have nc (netcat) send the data. Depending on what you mean by ``pack up''...

plc_reading_program | nc host port

nc -l -p port | display_thingy


It sounds like something for Hugh Jack's LPC - he's got stuff for network access via telnet/java and e-mail.

(Yes, we really should merge the two projects...)

> None of my controls are PC based. Any critical data is stored in the PLC
> because I know that Wonder-Where? may crap out at any second.

It's amazing what MS managed to do to expectation of reliability of computers. Used to be that an office full of people, rows and rows of desks, could all use the one central computer all day and it'd work.

> Winsock may not be the greatest implementation in the world, but drag,
> drop, punch in some port and IP info, and it is sending my data off into
> the great beyond. At my client end, set my port and IP, connect, and
> viola! Here comes my data.

nc can do that for you - if you still need to do that.

> I am willing to sweat out coding elegance and good design work for a
> machine control. But for a utility that I am going to use for a week or
> two and toss, what can I use in Linux that offers that ease of setup?

The obvious answer is Perl, otherwise known as Unix's ``Swiss Army Chainsaw'', but I'm not sure I should recommend it - as the name suggests,
it is handy and versatile but very very dangerous. It's also not particularly intuitive unless you're already familiar with Unix.

For the problem you mentioned above, like I wrote, just telnet in and run the program on the server.

The VB-equivalent language would probably be python. Being more modern than BASIC, it includes modern concepts like procedures - but I haven't done all that much with it, so I can't speak from experience.

> Let's face it: Not everyone knows C.

OK, we'll have to be careful to keep that in mind as we write the MAT LinuxPLC - for obvious reasons, all of us do know C...

...
> I haven't booted to Linux for months now. Mainly because I cannot get
> anything to run that doesn't install with the distro.

Hmm, I myself don't have that many things that didn't come with the distro; Debian's pretty comprehensive.

> Bottom line is Linux is not a system for someone who doesn't want to
> spend their life doing it.

OTOH, Microsoft is not a system for someone who doesn't want to spend their life doing everything the Microsoft way.

Jiri
--
Jiri Baum <jiri@baum.com.au>
http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jirib
visit the MAT LinuxPLC project at http://mat.sf.net

By Alan Brause on 29 August, 2001 - 2:19 pm

Joe Jansen wrote:
> I am willing to sweat out coding elegance and good design work for a
> machine control. But for a utility that I am going to use for a week or
> two and toss, what can I use in Linux that offers that ease of setup?
> (That, too, is a serious question. If something exists, I'd love to hear).

LabVIEW! It's cross platform on Windows, Linux, Mac, Sun and HP-UX.

> I gave up. I haven't booted to Linux for months now.
> Mainly because I cannot get anything to run that doesn't install with the
> distro. Bottom line is Linux is not a system for someone who doesn't want
> to spend their life doing it.

I installed LabVIEW on a clean RH6.2 installation without a hitch. I use the Linux box solely for LabVIEW development and I upload my executable and shared libraries directly to flash on an embedded Linux controller.

And I can sell the same application to customers who want to run Windows.
Cross platform is wonderful.

Regards,

Alan Brause
Wideband Technologies
(907) 235-7622
(907) 299-0124 Mobile
http://www.widebandtech.com

By Walt Boyes on 29 August, 2001 - 1:56 pm

interspersed at @@@@

Jiri Baum said:

Walt:
> No! No, it isn't.

Not sure what you're disagreeing with here...

That linux is ready or that automation resembles servers more than desktops?

@@@@Linux is not ready, and automation is only a tiny fraction of what is going on here.

<lots of argument snipped>
Linux supports many open protocols (and a few closed ones). In contrast, Microsoft provides a single-vendor solution, perhaps more comprehensive, but not greatly so.

@@@@It isn't about Linux vs Microsoft! It is about the Linux contingent getting a clue about how the world works. If you want to beat MS, you have to do what they do well: provide simple solutions. Remember the joke about Linux Airways, where you can get anywhere you need to go, but they only hand you a chair and the manual? If open source wants to really overcome the evil empire, it is going to have to do that by marketing products that people want and need. You can't just hand them a toolbox and a manual and tell them how much better it would be if only they took the time to learn how. Why do you think AOL has so many users? If your answer is, "who cares? They are all stupid," you have missed the thrust of what has quietly made Steve Case wealthy, and much less hated than Gates.

> It _can_ catch up, it _may_ catch up, but not until somebody with a clue
> says, "Here's $100 million. Make an OS that is packaged and clean, and
> better than Windows for the 80% application."

You mean like IBM?

@@@@Sure, look what they did to a perfectly good OS, twice.

> It isn't about automation, or process control. It is about generating
> economies in manufacturing and distribution. If Linux or Snoopux or
> Charliebrownux can do that, easily and cleanly, it will win.

(FWIW, Linux is not named for the Charlie Brown character, but for its original author, Linus Torvalds.)

@@@@God, don't any of you Linux people have a sense of humor? Boyscouts, all of you! Of course I know that. But from the way Linus and the rest of you are acting, you might as well be, in comparison to the way Microsoft runs its business.

> And if there are no paybacks, it is doomed. It is about return on
> investment, not how cool the OS is.

I'm not sure what paybacks you refer to here - from manufacturing or from the OS itself?

For the OS itself, the argument is moot: the fact of the matter is that Linux+Apache is already one of the best combinations for Web serving. The
economic explanation may be interesting, but only to economists. As far as we are concerned, Linux simply is.

@@@@I understand that you all believe that Linux simply is. It is a matter of faith. But the fact remains that there is more to automation, and more to the issues of manufacturing than what OS you use, and which OS has the best support. Yes, Linux+Apache is the best I've found for Web serving. In a high maintenance environment, surrounded by techies and programmers, it
works exceedingly well. It sucks bigtime for small web businesses that are started by non-programmers, though. That's why MS is selling lots of FrontPage, and why MS is selling lots of server software. People buy what they trust, and they know and trust MS...granted, that is becoming rather frayed, but it is still there.

For manufacturing, the OS used for control doesn't matter, as long as it provides the services, reliability, flexibility etc required. So - what do you look for in an OS you're going to use for control?

@@@@First of all, I don't look for an OS that is only good for control. I look for an OS that I can use to completely integrate my enterprise. I want to look for an OS that leading HMI manufacturers and leading SCM, ERP, and factory floor integration software makers write for. I want to look for an OS that is all those things, and reliable, flexible, etc. When you can show
me a Linux with a complete suite of software and applications that will allow it to be used to integrate an enterprise as easily as I can do it in Windows, I'll say that Linux is _here_.

Understand me, I am not shooting at Linux, and I am NOT supporting MS. I am commenting as an analyst on the situation as I see it. Open Source is not addressing the issues that won Microsoft the war. And I don't mean the monopoly, either. They won the war before they lost the peace.

Walt Boyes
co-author of "e-Business in Manufacturing: Putting the Internet
to Work in the Industrial Enterprise" ISA Press--September 2001 ISBN:
1-55617-758-5
____________________________________________
---------------------------------------------
Walt Boyes -- MarketingPractice Consultants
walt@waltboyes.com
21118 SE 278th Place - Maple Valley, WA 98038
253-709-5046 cell 425-432-8262 home office
fax:801-749-7142 ICQ: 59435534

"Strategic marketing, sales and electronic
business consulting for the small and medium-sized
enterprise: http://www.waltboyes.com"
---------------------------------------------

Walt wrote:
> interspersed at @@@@

Let me guess... your mailer doesn't quote properly *and* doesn't have a good enough search-and-replace to let you put a > on every line... s/^/> /

> @@@@Linux is not ready, and automation is only a tiny fraction of what is
> going on here.

Ah, ok.

Jiri:
> > Linux supports many open protocols (and a few closed ones). In
> > contrast, Microsoft provides a single-vendor solution, perhaps more
> > comprehensive, but not greatly so.

Walt:
> @@@@It isn't about Linux vs Microsoft! It is about the Linux contingent
> getting a clue about how the world works. If you want to beat MS, you
> have to do what they do well: provide simple solutions.

Well, I don't know - is it about Linux vs MS or isn't it?

As for how the world works - those who participate in linux steer it in directions where they want to see it. Those who don't participate get to watch and stay out of it. What's difficult about that?

> Remember the joke about Linux Airways, where you can get anywhere you
> need to go, but they only hand you a chair and the manual?

It's a bit out of date - these days there's usually an autopilot with a selection of the most common destinations.

Of course, you can still turn it off and do it yourself instead. Something missing in most MS offerings, I might note. (And where it does exist, for instance editing the registry by hand, it's more obscure than in Linux.)

> If open source wants to really overcome the evil empire, it is going to
> have to do that by marketing products that people want and need.

And those products are ...?

> > > It isn't about automation, or process control. It is about generating
> > > economies in manufacturing and distribution. If Linux or Snoopux or
> > > Charliebrownux can do that, easily and cleanly, it will win.

> > (FWIW, Linux is not named for the Charlie Brown character, but for its
> > original author, Linus Torvalds.)

> @@@@God, don't any of you Linux people have a sense of humor?

No worries - just wasn't clear; it's not important anyway.

> > > And if there are no paybacks, it is doomed. It is about return on
> > > investment, not how cool the OS is.

> > I'm not sure what paybacks you refer to here - from manufacturing or
> > from the OS itself?

> > For the OS itself, the argument is moot: the fact of the matter is that
> > Linux+Apache is already one of the best combinations for Web serving.
> > The economic explanation may be interesting, but only to economists. As
> > far as we are concerned, Linux simply is.

> @@@@I understand that you all believe that Linux simply is. It is a
> matter of faith.

It is a matter of fact. Linux is something I can buy on a CD or download off the net. Its existence is not in question.

> But the fact remains that there is more to automation, and more to the
> issues of manufacturing than what OS you use, and which OS has the best
> support. Yes, Linux+Apache is the best I've found for Web serving. In a
> high maintenance environment, surrounded by techies and programmers, it
> works exceedingly well. It sucks bigtime for small web businesses that
> are started by non-programmers, though. That's why MS is selling lots of
> FrontPage, and why MS is selling lots of server software.

Hmm, I wonder. For equivalent tasks - web serving with default settings, say - I suspect the maintenance burden would be similar.

> People buy what they trust, and they know and trust MS...granted, that is
> becoming rather frayed, but it is still there.

That's neither here nor there as far as Linux's readiness is concerned.

> > For manufacturing, the OS used for control doesn't matter, as long as it
> > provides the services, reliability, flexibility etc required. So - what do
> > you look for in an OS you're going to use for control?

> @@@@First of all, I don't look for an OS that is only good for control.
> I look for an OS that I can use to completely integrate my enterprise. I
> want to look for an OS that leading HMI manufacturers and leading SCM,
> ERP, and factory floor integration software makers write for. I want to
> look for an OS that is all those things, and reliable, flexible, etc.
> When you can show me a Linux with a complete suite of software and
> applications that will allow it to be used to integrate an enterprise as
> easily as I can do it in Windows, I'll say that Linux is _here_.

OK, when can you show me a Windows that is reliable and flexible...

The rest of it you can do - Unix has been used in enterprises long before MS even existed. And, as I wrote above - MS solutions are typically single
vendor, while Linux tends to follow standards.

> Understand me, I am not shooting at Linux, and I am NOT supporting MS. I
> am commenting as an analyst on the situation as I see it. Open Source is
> not addressing the issues that won Microsoft the war. And I don't mean
> the monopoly, either. They won the war before they lost the peace.

Hmm, it's been a long time since MS wasn't doing something dubious in re its monopoly. The rest of it they rode on the back of the PC clones.

At this point, no major computer manufacturer will sell dual-boot machines (gee, I wonder why), with the result that before using Linux, a user must first undertake the task of installing it from scratch. Obviously, progress is slow.

Jiri
--
Jiri Baum <jiri@baum.com.au>
http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jirib
visit the MAT LinuxPLC project at http://mat.sf.net

By Ralph Mackiewicz on 30 August, 2001 - 5:21 pm


> > @@@@It isn't about Linux vs Microsoft! It is about the Linux
> > contingent getting a clue about how the world works. If you want to
> > beat MS, you have to do what they do well: provide simple solutions.
>
> Well, I don't know - is it about Linux vs MS or isn't it?
>
> As for how the world works - those who participate in linux steer it
> in directions where they want to see it. Those who don't participate
> get to watch and stay out of it. What's difficult about that?

I think you missed the point. No one is disputing the fact that those who participate are steering it the way it is in fact going. But, on this list there are some who complain repeatedly that nobody other than those currently steering the Linux bandwagon seem eager to jump on it. I think Walt's observations are 100% correct: Linux is not
lacking in technology...it is lacking in the area that good marketing addresses: a focus on customer requirements (not developer requirements). Currently, the only market for Linux in IA is with those that are steering it. My observation (reinforced by the cynical comment above about those who are watching instead of participating) is that several well-meaning posts to help identify the requirements for Linux in IA are not being accepted by the Linux participants at face value. Sometimes, these helpful posts are responded to in a mocking way. Recently, a comment about the lack of tools to extract data from a server was responded to with a discussion of some arcane Linux commands that could be used to telnet into the server. This completely missed the point (although this was not one of the mocking responses). Although this command might be elegant simplicity to a Linux developer it is more like an ugly jagged scar on the face to the average potential Linux/IA user who does not want to be a developer. This criticism of Linux presents three choices of action:

1. Ignore it, 2. Argue with it, or 3. Accept it and address the concern. Only one of these choices will result in Linux being accepted by those people who currently object to it: #3.

If the participants in Linux who are steering the bandwagon want others to jump on they would be well advised to heed Walt's suggestion and start steering it in the direction that the people who
have reasons to not use it are pointing you. If you don't care if anybody else jumps on then fine, steer it anyway you like.

+-------------------------------------------------+
Ralph Mackiewicz |If it's there & I can see it...it's REAL |
SISCO, Inc. |If it's there & I can't see it...it's TRANSPARENT|
Sterling Hts, MI |If it's not there & I can see it...it's VIRTUAL |
www.sisconet.com |If it's not there & I need it...it's INTERMITTENT|
no spam please |If it's not there & I can't see it...it's GONE |
+-------------------------------------------------+

Like Jeff says above, Sun shot themselves in the foot. The fact is that if Microsoft had some intelligent competitors, they wouldn't be a monopoly in the first place.

Walt Boyes
co-author of "e-Business in Manufacturing: Putting the Internet
to Work in the Industrial Enterprise" ISA Press--September 2001 ISBN:
1-55617-758-5
____________________________________________
---------------------------------------------
Walt Boyes -- MarketingPractice Consultants
walt@waltboyes.com
21118 SE 278th Place - Maple Valley, WA 98038
253-709-5046 cell 425-432-8262 home office
fax:801-749-7142 ICQ: 59435534

"Strategic marketing, sales and electronic
business consulting for the small and medium-sized
enterprise: http://www.waltboyes.com"
---------------------------------------------

By Michael R. Batchelor on 3 September, 2001 - 1:47 pm

Ralph Mackiewicz wrote:
> If the participants in Linux who are steering the bandwagon want
> others to jump on they would be well advised to heed Walt's
> suggestion and start steering it in the direction that the people who
> have reasons to not use it are pointing you. If you don't care if
> anybody else jumps on then fine, steer it anyway you like.

I've got to agree here. Altruism aside, those of us not independently wealthy have to earn a living, and the GPL makes it hard to do sometimes.
I've seen very few customers (one actually, and they bought the copyright from me to make sure it never went to any competitor) willing to take on
the entire cost of developing a completely new and unique solution to something. They are not interested in what it costs me to develop an idea,
they are interested in what benefit it provides them. (Hey, sounds like a business plan.)

We have done several jobs where we spent more time and effort developing the solution than the actual job warrants, then recover the cost by reapplying the solution to multiple customers without having to re-do the bulk of the work. Linux and the GPL make this very difficult to do.
(Put down the flame throwers. I snarfed my first linux kernel in '93. I'm not an MS fan.)

And as much as I like all the "neat" features in the various Linux distributions, if I want to develop a solution package based on a "UNIX-like" OS, then I'm almost bound to use OpenBSD just because the license is designed to allow me to protect or give away my work as I desire.

MIchael

Michael:
> We have done several jobs where we spent more time and effort
> developing the solution than the actual job warrants, then recover the
> cost by reapplying the solution to multiple customers without having
> to re-do the bulk of the work. Linux and the GPL make this very
> difficult to do.

In the short term, yes, but in the long term the opposite is true.

With the GPL, once the initial solution is done, no-one ever has to re-do the work, and all future projects will be better for it. Rather than programmers, automation professionals will become integrators, selecting and customizing solutions from a vast, publicly-available repository.

That leaves a practical problem of how to get there from here: most likely it'll be incremental, so that the increment required by each project over the previous is sufficiently small to be absorbed.

In purely money terms: for each project, you have the option of using the GPL code repository, at the cost of contributing your code to it. Sometimes it'll make sense, sometimes not. Any time it does make sense, it makes the repository bigger, but it never shrinks. At some point, it'll snowball.

> if I want to develop a solution package based on a "UNIX-like" OS,
> then I'm almost bound to use OpenBSD just because the license is
> designed to allow me to protect or give away my work as I desire.

FWIW, Linux doesn't require programs to be under any particular licence.

Jiri
--
Jiri Baum <jiri@baum.com.au> http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jirib
visit the MAT LinuxPLC project at http://mat.sf.net

By Michael R. Batchelor on 5 September, 2001 - 2:54 pm

Michael R. Batchelor wrote:
>> if I want to develop a solution package based on a "UNIX-like" OS, then
>> I'm almost bound to use OpenBSD just because the license is
designed to
>> allow me to protect or give away my work as I desire.

Jiri Baum wrote:
>FWIW, Linux doesn't require programs to be under any particular licence.

It's true that Linux doesn't require any particular program to be under any particular license, but a turn key solution that requires
someone just "stick the CD into the machine" is complicated. I can expect the plant to get a Windows box going and just supply a CD with a setup distribution. With Linux (or another UNIX-like system) I've got to make a different set of assumptions, i.e. I need to make sure the OS is correct, too. I can make a Linux CD that will install everything my solution needs without requiring the plant to have a propeller head on staff, but the "final solution" is going to be so
covered up in GPL that I can't afford to develop it.

It's a matter of cash flow. I've been a strong supporter of Open Source for years. (I coerced a former boss to send FSF $500 way back in 1988 because I had replaced two thirds of the stuff in all of our SCO XENIX systems with GNU stuff, I remember the original Linux announcement, and I was one of the original beta testers for a
newfangled things called CVS.) But as a small integrator (three of us here, with families to feed) I've got to keep cash flowing. Unless I can cover the entire cost of the development on the front end, I can't let the solution become freely distributable.

You can make an argument that I could license my binaries exactly the same as the commercial binaries on the RedHat CD are licensed. That's
true. Just tell me the lawyer who will make sure I've got it all correct for free to contribute to the GPL cause. Remember, we're control geeks here. Not lawyers. Alternately, I can just use
something with a BSD style license.

I'm not saying that my office is sitting on the "killer control systems app for Linux" but we won't release it under GPL. There's really nothing here that can do much more than support the three of us. But we do plan to keep supporting ourselves.

Michael

Jiri wrote:
> >FWIW, Linux doesn't require programs to be under any particular licence.

Michael wrote:
> It's true that Linux doesn't require any particular program to be under
> any particular license, but a turn key solution that requires someone
> just "stick the CD into the machine" is complicated. I can expect the
> plant to get a Windows box going and just supply a CD with a setup
> distribution.

Possibility 1: specify a box with Linux pre-installed.

Possibility 2: use a bootable CD. This is part of just about every distribution, so there's plenty of examples around.

> It's a matter of cash flow.
> Unless I can cover the entire cost of the development on the front end, I
> can't let the solution become freely distributable.

At worst, it's a simple technology exchange: your code for GPL'd.

You have to decide whether the advantage of being able to use GPL'd code outweighs the disadvantage of (possibly) having to licence yours on the
same terms.

> You can make an argument that I could license my binaries exactly the
> same as the commercial binaries on the RedHat CD are licensed. That's
> true. Just tell me the lawyer who will make sure I've got it all correct

Point... With some care, you can avoid it, but I can see how it would make you nervous.


Jiri
--
Jiri Baum <jiri@baum.com.au>
http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jirib
visit the MAT LinuxPLC project at http://mat.sf.net

By Michael Batchelor on 12 September, 2001 - 11:06 am

On Fri, 31 Aug 2001, Jiri Baum wrote:
> Michael:
> > Unless I can cover the entire cost of the development on the front end, I
> > can't let the solution become freely distributable.
>
> Jiri:
>
> At worst, it's a simple technology exchange: your code for GPL'd.
>
> You have to decide whether the advantage of being able to use GPL'd code
> outweighs the disadvantage of (possibly) having to license yours on the
> same terms.


I agree completely that the value of what I've taken out of the Open Source movement far outweighs the value of what I've put in.
I'd wager pretty heavily that the same is true for everyone on this list. The common pool isn't like a pool of water where the resource gets consumed with use. As you point out, it only grows. It never shrinks.

But the fact remains that regardless of how advantageous in the long run it may be for me to contribute "X" to the common pool, I've got to make payroll on Friday. In this circumstance a BSD style license for the O/S platform does better job of covering my butt.

MB
--
Michael R. Batchelor - Industrial Informatics & Instrumentation, Inc.
Linux is like a wigwam...
No windows, no gates.
Apache inside.

Of course - and if you can do that by grabbing stuff off the net somewhere, adding a few lines and configuration files and sending copies of the result to your customer and back onto the net, then why not?

As the old joke goes - $1 for the work, $99 for knowing where to hit. (Add zeroes as appropriate.)

> In this circumstance a BSD style license for the O/S platform does better
> job of covering my butt.

The licence of the OS platform itself is a different issue altogether; there's no problem developing BSD or even closed-source on linux.

The above is when you decide to base your solution directly on an existing, GPL-licenced package. Any modifications you make to that package must be GPL and must be offered to anyone who gets the binary.

Jiri
--
Jiri Baum <jiri@baum.com.au>
http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jirib
visit the MAT LinuxPLC project at http://mat.sf.net

By Michael Griffin on 12 September, 2001 - 3:33 pm

I thought I should perhaps mention that if someone is trying to avoid any GPL issues, they aren't safe just because they are not using
Linux. GPL existed before Linux was created and can apply to code running on any operating system, including Windows.

People seem to associate GPL with Linux because Linux itself uses GPL, but this is really two separate issues. GPL would still exist even if
Linux didn't. What this means in practice is that if you are trying to avoid using (or re-using) GPL code, you need to take care regardless of the
operating system being used.

**********************
Michael Griffin
London, Ont. Canada
**********************

You can probably do this:

If you have some sensitive processing you can't possibly release, you can modify the GPL code to accept messages (or some other interprocess
communication) and do the special processing your application needs. Release the source code to the message handling interface, but keep your proprietary application to yourself.

Rufus

Most of the time, you don't even need to do that: just have the secret part as a script that the GPL application loads and executes. Most of the time, the bulk of the secret stuff will be just tuning parameters, anyway.

OTOH, oftentimes physical plant security is poor to nonexistent; here we are blocking up the window and the barn door is probably wide open.

Jiri
--
Jiri Baum <jiri@baum.com.au>
http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jirib
visit the MAT LinuxPLC project at http://mat.sf.net

By Curt Wuollet on 18 September, 2001 - 3:07 pm

One small point here is that the Open Source Software community etal. is extremely unlikely to sue you for an inadvertant omission. You might get your skivvies scorched, but we, for the most part, don't retain lawyers for instant action like some corporations do.


Regards

cww

By Greg Goodman on 18 September, 2001 - 3:21 pm

I'm not sure it's in the OSS community's best interest to tout that we have rules against piracy, but that we don't actually do anything to
enforce them.

If Microsoft was willing to make proprietary modifications to Java in violation of its licensing agreement with Sun - a company with real
money and a signficant commercial incentive to prevent the hijacking of their product - what is it about the GPL and a bunch of volunteer
programmers that's going to stop them from violating an Open Source license?

As soon as some bright kid in some corporate stable of lawyers comes up with a legal argument that looks like it has half a chance at
invalidating the GPL (and/or any of the other sacred documents of our canon), I expect to see a right royal legal battle. And my faith in the
inevitable triumph of good and right aren't so strong that I can dismiss the possibility that the forces whose interests are vested in closed
software might win, leaving the entire body of Open Source code, published in good faith, rendered defenseless against abuse and ripe for
picking.

Greg Goodman
Chiron Consulting

As far as I can tell, every time the rules were broken, the situation was somehow resolved without winding up in court - sometimes by GPLing code, sometimes by excising GPL code, or whatever.

[Microsoft]
> what is it about the GPL and a bunch of volunteer programmers that's
> going to stop them from violating an Open Source license?

No idea. Seems to be working so far, though...


Jiri
--
Jiri Baum <jiri@baum.com.au>
http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jirib
visit the MAT LinuxPLC project at http://mat.sf.net

By Michael R. Batchelor on 18 September, 2001 - 4:42 pm

The possibility of a class action suite where the only people to profit are lawyers. In the USA the possibility of getting an outrageous judgment against a violator to a hypothetical class of
"defrauded parties" is about 1 out of 1. A big company like MS would get hit with a settlement which would make the tobacco settlement look small.

I have no idea how the courts work in other countries around the world.

MB
--
Michael R. Batchelor - Industrial Informatics & Instrumentation, Inc.
Linux is like a wigwam...
No windows, no gates.
Apache inside.

By Curt Wuollet on 18 September, 2001 - 4:10 pm

Hi Greg

Greg Goodman wrote:

> > One small point here is that the Open Source Software community etal. is
> > extremely unlikely to sue you for an inadvertant omission. You might get
> > your skivvies scorched, but we, for the most part, don't retain lawyers
> > for instant action like some corporations do.
>
> I'm not sure it's in the OSS community's best interest to tout that we
> have rules against piracy, but that we don't actually do anything to
> enforce them.

Point taken, but I'd still rather see him put his stuff on Linux. That legal battle is surely coming now that big money is involved.

> If Microsoft was willing to make proprietary modifications to Java in
> violation of its licensing agreement with Sun - a company with real
> money and a signficant commercial incentive to prevent the hijacking of
> their product - what is it about the GPL and a bunch of volunteer
> programmers that's going to stop them from violating an Open Source
> license?

They already do. Nothing will stop them. We have to accept that along with the overwhelming good that OSS does for everyone else. Laws don't
affect the lawless. Community action is probably more effective but Microsoft has little to lose with the community either.

> As soon as some bright kid in some corporate stable of lawyers comes up
> with a legal argument that looks like it has half a chance at
> invalidating the GPL (and/or any of the other sacred documents of our
> canon), I expect to see a right royal legal battle. And my faith in the
> inevitable triumph of good and right aren't so strong that I can dismiss
> the possibility that the forces whose interests are vested in closed
> software might win, leaving the entire body of Open Source code,
> published in good faith, rendered defenseless against abuse and ripe for
> picking.

And patenting.

So far, they seem more interested in trying to make OSS illegal.

Regards

cww

By Curt Wuollet on 11 September, 2001 - 4:54 pm

Hi Micheal,

I'm not too sure where the conflict is. Unless you modify or derive your application from existing GPL'd code, there's no reason that it
can't be licensed entirely at your discretion. Simply building an application on a GPL'd OS with GPL'd tools is allowed to be closed. And on XXXBSD everything but the kernel itself is likely to be the very same stuff. I'm confused. I am interested, for obvious reasons on where you find conflicts.

Regards

cww

Jiri:
> > As for how the world works - those who participate in linux steer it in
> > directions where they want to see it. Those who don't participate get
> > to watch and stay out of it. What's difficult about that?

Ralph:
> My observation (reinforced by the cynical comment above about those who
> are watching instead of participating)

Yeah, sorry about that, I should have put that better. The only apology I can offer is that anyone is invited to participate - whether with coding, or with writing specifications and stuff, feature requests, documentation, testing, debugging.

> is that several well-meaning posts to help identify the requirements for
> Linux in IA are not being accepted by the Linux participants at face
> value.

A lot of the time it's frustrating for us, too, because many of the requests are vague, out of our hands or otherwise problematic.

> Recently, a comment about the lack of tools to extract data from a server
> was responded to with a discussion of some arcane Linux commands that
> could be used to telnet into the server.

That was Joe Jansen's post? He said that with VB, he'll drag, drop, punch in some port and IP info, and it'll do what he want. I countered that with
linux scripting, you put in the command (nc - netcat), punch in some port and IP info, and it'll do exactly the same thing.

I also pointed out that you probably wouldn't bother, because there's easier ways of doing it.

> This completely missed the point
...
> average potential Linux/IA user who does not want to be a developer.

Joe was posting as a VB developer.

> If the participants in Linux who are steering the bandwagon want others
> to jump on they would be well advised to heed Walt's suggestion and start
> steering it in the direction that the people who have reasons to not use
> it are pointing you. If you don't care if anybody else jumps on then
> fine, steer it anyway you like.

Hmm, well apart from ``forget it and use Windows instead'', what exactly direction is Walt pointing us in?

He wants leading HMI manufacturers and leading SCM, ERP, and factory floor integration software makers to support it, but that's rather out of our
hands;

He wants ease of integration, which is better with Linux than with Windows to begin with;

He wants to make 5 billion dollars out of Linux;

Anything I've missed? (I think I've got most of the thread saved, just point me to a keyword or Message-ID.)


Jiri
--
Jiri Baum <jiri@baum.com.au>
http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jirib
visit the MAT LinuxPLC project at http://mat.sf.net

By Ralph Mackiewicz on 12 September, 2001 - 9:50 am

Jiri,

> Yeah, sorry about that, I should have put that better. The only
> apology I can offer is that anyone is invited to participate -
> whether with coding, or with writing specifications and stuff,
> feature requests, documentation, testing, debugging.

No need to apologize to me. I got a thick skin and I tend to be cynical and sarcastic myself anyway.

> > is that several well-meaning posts to help identify the
> > requirements for Linux in IA are not being accepted by the Linux
> > participants at face value.
>
> A lot of the time it's frustrating for us, too, because many of the
> requests are vague, out of our hands or otherwise problematic.

Its just an observation of mine that those espousing Linux don't seem to take the criticism from skeptical potential users seriuosly. Vague
input, asking for the unreasonable results, etc. are all very typical of the kinds of requests that you get from any potential user. Buried
inside of all this "noise" is the key to understanding why they will or won't use something. Rarely will anyone just come out and tell you. Probably because most people don't spend that much intellectual effort trying to determine why they won't do something. They don't really know. So they offer vague and impossible directions. But the message is there.

> > Recently, a comment about the lack of tools to extract data from a
> > server was responded to with a discussion of some arcane Linux
> > commands that could be used to telnet into the server.
>
> That was Joe Jansen's post? He said that with VB, he'll drag, drop,
> punch in some port and IP info, and it'll do what he want. I
> countered that with linux scripting, you put in the command (nc -
> netcat), punch in some port and IP info, and it'll do exactly the
> same thing.
>
> I also pointed out that you probably wouldn't bother, because
> there's easier ways of doing it.

I don't remember the poster but that is the message. This was once again a nugget of info that is telling anyone who cares what it will
take for Linux to be attractive to someone who is currently not using it. Offering a simple Linux script in response is not going to swing
anybody over. The concern has to be addressed. I'm not saying that you personally can address it but there is good information in there about what is lacking in Linux. If there is an easier way, that is the information that Joe needs.

This kind of illustrates a problem with open source: the incentives to address the concerns that get raised are made vague by some OSS
supporters who seem to think that any model involving the profit motive is poisonous to OSS. I personally don't believe that. But this
constant anti-economic message creates an atmosphere of confusion for some people that keeps them from taking OSS seriously.

> > This completely missed the point
> ...
> > average potential Linux/IA user who does not want to be a
> > developer.
>
> Joe was posting as a VB developer.

Yes, but from the tone of his post and what he was saying it is obvious that he does not consider himself to be a developer from a
computing perspective. He thinks VB is so high-level that any control/automation engineer with just a rudimentary knowledge of computers can accomplish signficant work without becoming a highly knowledgeable developer. Whether you think he is a developer is irrelevant. He thinks he is not a developer.

> > If the participants in Linux who are steering the bandwagon want
> > others to jump on they would be well advised to heed Walt's
> > suggestion and start steering it in the direction that the people
> > who have reasons to not use it are pointing you. If you don't care
> > if anybody else jumps on then fine, steer it anyway you like.
>
> Hmm, well apart from ``forget it and use Windows instead'', what
> exactly direction is Walt pointing us in?
>
> He wants leading HMI manufacturers and leading SCM, ERP, and factory
> floor integration software makers to support it, but that's rather
> out of our hands;
>
> He wants ease of integration, which is better with Linux than with
> Windows to begin with;
>
> He wants to make 5 billion dollars out of Linux;
>
> Anything I've missed? (I think I've got most of the thread saved,
> just point me to a keyword or Message-ID.)

You missed the whole point. The message from Walt was subtle and there was an element of sarcasm to it that I'm sure will get your hair standing up. I enjoy sarcasm but its not conducive to understanding. I don't think that his message is anything close to forget Linux and use MS (which he calls Microstupid). I don't know if I can state his intent accurately and briefly but I'll give it a go.

Linux is driven by technology. Widespread deployment of technology is driven by marketing. By marketing I don't mean misleading ads or pushy
sales people. That is a simplistic and ignorant view of marketing. Marketing is the process of identifying the needs of users and guiding
the development of produts and services (technology) to address those needs. Linux development is driven by the needs of the developers of Linux. In those areas that Linux is successful (such a web servers) who are the users? They are essentially people with a great deal of overlapping needs with the Linux developers: web site developers and operators. I suspect that in many cases they are one in the same.

Walt is trying to point out that if someone desires to get Linux into the mainstream of IA then the development of Linux has to be guided in
a way that addresses the needs of the people who are the potential buyers of it (who are not necessarily the users) and not the developers of it. In the IA industry the developers of IA technology have little in common (from a requirements perspective) with the people that purchase and use IA technology. In these cases (unlike with web site developers as the buyers) marketing is needed to act as the bridge. Most of the things that Walt has pointed out are his
opinions as to those issues that the Linux efforts are not addressing. I don't think he actually expects the developers of Linux to do
anything about SCM and ERP manufacturers. But IA won't be mainstream until these people adapt it. They won't adapt it until they can see a
business model that allows them to show a return on the investment that they will have to make in order to adapt it.

As someone posted recently, without the ability for the mainstream IA participants to develop a profitable business model around Linux they
will consider the activity to be a hobby. I don't claim that it is your responsibility to provide this business model to them or that you are responsible to overcome any of the technical objections either. But I think that these issues are the primary reasons why Linux has not made the inroads into IA that it might deserve from a purely technical point of view.

The very first engineering manager I had when I got out of school told me something that I think was the most important thing I learned from
him: "People don't buy anything...they are sold". In other words, if you build a better mousetrap nobody is going to beat down your door to
buy it. You have to go out and beat down their door and sell it to them. That requires marketing. The Linux effort just does not have any
signficant marketing efforts addressing the IA industry. It won't be mainstream until there is.

Best Regards,

Ralph Mackiewicz
SISCO, Inc.

By Anthony Kerstens on 12 September, 2001 - 10:05 am

The deeper truth of dealing with customers.
It could be applied to just about anything.

Thanks.

Anthony Kerstens P.Eng.

.....
> Its just an observation of mine that those espousing Linux don't seem
> to take the criticism from skeptical potential users seriuosly. Vague
> input, asking for the unreasonable results, etc. are all very typical
> of the kinds of requests that you get from any potential user. Buried
> inside of all this "noise" is the key to understanding why they will
> or won't use something. Rarely will anyone just come out and tell you.
> Probably because most people don't spend that much intellectual effort
> trying to determine why they won't do something. They don't really
> know. So they offer vague and impossible directions. But the message
> is there.
....

By Greg Goodman on 18 September, 2001 - 3:43 pm

In that sense, Linux is extremely successful; it is a product that very nearly perfectly matches the needs of its market.

What everybody seems to be talking about is expanding Linux's market to include people whose needs are currently better met by Windows. Part of the argument centers on the issue of whether their needs are *really* better met by Windows, or whether they misapprehend their own needs and
have been made to *think* that Windows serves them better.

Personally, I think both are true to a degree.

Microsoft is clearly meeting the requirements, more or less, of most of the people who buy their software. There *are* alternatives, and they
are reasonably visible, but people keep buying Microsoft. Why? Because the cost to change, in terms of learning curve, complexity,
incompatibility, distance from the mainstream, dearth of hassle-free support, lack of a rich application base, etc. is perceived to be
prohibitive. (And the perception of a prohibitive cost, whether accurate or not, makes it prohibitive. People are generally unwilling
to accept costs that they believe, a priori, to be too high.)

However, it is equally clear (at least to me) that Microsoft is failing in significant measure to meet people's needs, even people who continue
to buy and use Microsoft. People I consult for - people in all-Microsoft offices, people who have never used anything but Windows - bitch and moan constantly about Windows crashing, about Microsoft's newest release introducing more bugs than it fixes, about Service Packs that overwrite newer DLLs with older ones, about the need to get more memory and/or diskspace and/or a faster processor in order to run the next rev of [your favorite example here] software package, about the
ubiquity of virii that threaten to trash their machines, and the incompatibility of one MS application with the next version of itself.

Linux, despite my preference for it, the advocacy of its adherents, and the advances it's made, is not quite ready to go head to head with Windows for the hearts and minds of the average desktop user. Why not? Because most desktop users *aren't* computer users; they're appliance
users. And Windows comes closer to being an appliance than Linux does. Most people want the computer to do what they want it to do... without
their having to tell it what they want. Windows comes closer to doing that, partly because Windows helped shape people's understanding of what they want from a computer, and partly because Windows takes the attitude that "i'm the system, i know what's good for you". People are very often willing to exchange their personal responsibility for convenience. And for something that for most people is as relatively
trivial as word processing or web browsing or gaming, the tradeoff is reasonable - they have better things to do with their time than mess
with the computer. This attitude, of course, is anathema to the Linux crowd, whose creed is "read up, dive in, explore the world, master your
environment, take control, don't let anybody tell you what to do."

What will it take for Linux really to compete with Windows? Linux's ease of use for neophytes needs to be improved. Distributions have gotten better (they're already moving in the right direction and have made some significant progress) about masking internals from those who
don't know/don't care, and providing reasonable defaults for the innumerable configurable parameters. But Linux also needs to overcome
the inertia / ignorance of the people that it wants to pick up as users.

As Ralph says:

> "People don't buy anything...they are sold".

Greg Goodman
Chiron Consulting

By Johan Bengtsson on 24 September, 2001 - 5:07 pm

I get vague and "impossible" requests at work too, I argue, I get better requests and so on, in the end I know what needs to be done and do that, but I really have to have those answers before I can do it, otherwise I won't be solving the
real problem, and the one making the request in the first place won't be happy anyway. A lot of times don't the people making the requests really know what they want, how could they possibly tell me then?

The same problems exist in closed developement as well as open if the one doing the work don't understand what work needs to be done then it won't be. That is not a difference - it is a
similarity!

A real example from my work:
Some customers to us wanted the possibility to create new simulated mashines by themself, ok I agree to that it would be a nice feature to have. But I could not get any useful explanation about what types and how complex those mashines needed to be, and not a good explanation on what skills the user would need to have. The answers I got was very vague and something in the direction of "drag and drop" some parts here and some parts there conveyor belts, cylinders, and other similar
parts. And that should end up being a simulated mashine. Runnable in real time on a pentium 90MHz. I thought about it and gave a figure approximating how much time I would need to do that and some doubts that it actually would be
runnable in real time on a pentium 90MHz. Then I asked if the customer really needed that feature to be happy or if more simulated mashines was really what was needed I could simulate several mashines in much less than 1/10:th of that time and they would really be runnable on a pentium 90.
The difference here is that I am a programmer - I can make those simulations without making the tool first, because I already have the tool *I* need. Well we did simulate some more mashines and not many have bought them because they thought the ones already in the product was quite enough.


/Johan Bengtsson

----------------------------------------
P&L, Innovation in training
Box 252, S-281 23 H{ssleholm SWEDEN
Tel: +46 451 49 460, Fax: +46 451 89 833
E-mail: johan.bengtsson@pol.se
Internet: http://www.pol.se/
----------------------------------------

Johan Bengtsson:
> i get vague and "impossible" requests at work too, i argue, i get better
> requests and so on, in the end i know what needs to be done and do that,
> but i really have to have those answers before i can do it, otherwise i
> won't be solving the real problem, and the one making the request in the
> first place won't be happy anyway.

Yup. Doesn't make it any less frustrating, I suppose...

> A lot of times don't the people making the requests really know what they
> want, how could they possibly tell me then?

Not to mention that if they knew, they probably wouldn't need you...

Jiri
--
Jiri Baum <jiri@baum.com.au>
http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jirib
visit the MAT LinuxPLC project at http://mat.sf.net

Jiri:
> > A lot of the time it's frustrating for us, too, because many of the
> > requests are vague, out of our hands or otherwise problematic.

Ralph:
> Its just an observation of mine that those espousing Linux don't seem to
> take the criticism from skeptical potential users seriuosly. Vague input,
> asking for the unreasonable results, etc. are all very typical of the
> kinds of requests that you get from any potential user.

True.

> Probably because most people don't spend that much intellectual effort
> trying to determine why they won't do something. They don't really know.

Actually, it's probably simpler than that - the potential user doesn't know what can be done, and therefore can't phrase the request in those terms.
It's not even lack of effort, I think a lot of times it's simple lack of knowledge (which is unavoidable under the circumstances).

> > > a comment about the lack of tools to extract data from a server was
...
> > I also pointed out that you probably wouldn't bother, because there's
> > easier ways of doing it.
...
> If there is an easier way, that is the information that Joe needs.

I think I started my post with that... just write the whole program on the server, run "ssh server" on the client and start the program through that.

> > Joe was posting as a VB developer.
...
> he does not consider himself to be a developer from a computing
> perspective. He thinks VB is so high-level that
...

Well, shell scripting is pretty high-level, too. At the level of detail we were writing, the main difference would be that in VB you say "it's the
icon that looks a bit like a squashed octopus, only not so ugly", while in Linux you say "it's nc(1)", which strikes me as much less ambiguous, but
otherwise not all that different.

Shell scripting is based around the idea of pipelines - the data (usually text) is passed along the pipeline from one process to the next. For instance, if you had a table (table.txt) and you wanted to know how many times each value of the second column appeared, you might do this:

cut -f2 table.txt | sort | uniq -c | sort -n

Here, there are four processes in the pipeline, separated by vertical bars. Data goes from left to right:

cut -f2 : grabs particular fields from tables (in this case *f*ield 2)
sort : sorts alphabetically (so equal values end up next to each other)
uniq -c : gets rid of duplicate lines, *c*ounting them
sort -n : sorts *n*umerically

It doesn't say where it should go at the end, so it'll go on the screen.

> > > If the participants in Linux who are steering the bandwagon want
> > > others to jump on they would be well advised to heed Walt's
> > > suggestion and start steering it in the direction that the people who
> > > have reasons to not use it are pointing you.
...
> > Anything I've missed? (I think I've got most of the thread saved, just
> > point me to a keyword or Message-ID.)

> You missed the whole point.

Drats.

> The message from Walt was subtle and there was an element of sarcasm to
> it that I'm sure will get your hair standing up. I enjoy sarcasm but its
> not conducive to understanding.

I don't mind sarcasm myself, actually...

> Walt is trying to point out that if someone desires to get Linux into the
> mainstream of IA then the development of Linux has to be guided in a way
> that addresses the needs of the people who are the potential buyers of it
> (who are not necessarily the users) and not the developers of it.

Well, OK - and those needs are?

(BTW, the MAT LinuxPLC has on-line-editable stepladder, as of yesterday. It's pretty ugly, version ``0.3'', but it's there.)

> Most of the things that Walt has pointed out are his opinions as to those
> issues that the Linux efforts are not addressing.

As far as I can see from his post, that's simplicity of installation/setup and integration?

Simplicity of installation and setup is a lot better than it used to be, and it's improving still. The poster child here is Webmin, a web-based admin tool (which has the added advantage that you can use it remotely).

For integration, linux has an advantage in that its design philosophy from the beginning was lots of little applications that interact (rather than a few big ones that don't), so it has a head start, and that it's better for networking and multi-user operation.

> I don't claim that it is your responsibility to provide this business
> model to them or that you are responsible to overcome any of the
> technical objections either.

On the business model, see my other post with the URL to ESR's essay.

As for technical objections... well, I'd like to hear them, anyway; I might not do anything about them, but at least I'll know about them.

> The Linux effort just does not have any signficant marketing efforts
> addressing the IA industry.

I guess not... apart from Curt and me posting to the A-list...

Jiri
--
Jiri Baum <jiri@baum.com.au>
http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jirib
visit the MAT LinuxPLC project at http://mat.sf.net

By Ralph Mackiewicz on 25 September, 2001 - 10:43 am

> > he does not consider himself to be a developer from a computing
> > perspective. He thinks VB is so high-level that
> ...

...snip...snip...

> cut -f2 table.txt | sort | uniq -c | sort -n
>
> Here, there are four processes in the pipeline, separated by vertical
> bars. Data goes from left to right:
>
> cut -f2 : grabs particular fields from tables (in this case *f*ield
> 2) sort : sorts alphabetically (so equal values end up next to each
> other) uniq -c : gets rid of duplicate lines, *c*ounting them sort
> -n : sorts *n*umerically

Thank you for the detailed description of how to accomplish this on Linux using scripting. Take my word as a non-programmer: This will not be perceived as easy or simple to anyone who is not a programmer. It is easier for my primitive brain to follow a 20 line VB program to do the same thing than to figure out how this simple script works. VB might not be efficient but it is much more intuitive.

This reminds me of a contest I saw in 1986/7 for the smallest program for sorting names alphabetically. The winner was an APL program that
was a completely unintelligible collection of punctuation marks and letters that was only about 40-50 characters long as I recall. The amazing thing is that it was actually purported to work. Linux scripting is very intuitive by comparison.

> > The Linux effort just does not have any signficant marketing efforts
> > addressing the IA industry.
>
> I guess not... apart from Curt and me posting to the A-list...

That is not marketing...it is evangelizing. Getting to the crux of what a user requires, what they will buy, how much they can afford to spend on it, and how to inform them of the value takes alot of marketing when dealing with a large market like IA. Evangelizing can be an important part of marketing communications but the important
aspect: finding and explaining the value to the potential customer requires a lot more effort (and investment). Given that Linux is essentially free, some other business model must be found that
provides the incentive for making this investment in marketing before Linux will find its way into the corporate mainstream. IBM seems to be finding a business model based around selling high-end servers.

Maybe that will be the coat tails the rest of the Linux community can ride on.

Regards,

Ralph Mackiewicz
SISCO, Inc.

The use of piping the UNIX tools to produce some output is interesting. It really goes along with what one of my friends use to say, "There are two
laws to UNIX: 1) Everything is a file 2) Get the last word." The second rule talks about being part of a community. The operating system is a
language that you learn. The guys that invented it really understood language and it is evident in the rich set of tools that you have for
processing text streams. You can even build compilers with the tools.

Curt and the other guys that are talking up the beauty of Linux and OSS have made the investment in learning UNIX and they are utilizing that
expertise to develop good solutions for their customers.

Nevertheless, I have a hard time seeing a change in the IA market. While some IA companies have put tools or applications on the Linux platform they have not committed to the platform. For each of these Linux offerings there are many, many more that are offered for the Windows environment. It is obvious that a very small fraction of the IA software is offered on Linux.
In some case the offering is a communications driver to aid in systems integration, while the real applications stay in the Windows environment.

While a lot of marketing is hype, you can often tell how much force a company has by the amount of information that they are able to extend into
the market. If you go to their web site you can get a feel for how much energy they can put into communicating to the public.

Taking a look at the Linux PLC web site that has a link off www.control.com, may be a good example of how much energy the Linux PLC project has. Maybe I missed a link or something, but there isn't very much information on that site. It is very indicative of what you find with OSS.
Unless, it is Linux and it has grasped enough attention that someone sees real dollars out there then you just don't have much there to work with.

It goes back to my friends second law of UNIX - you need to be part of the team to make use of it. More power to Curt and anyone else that works on this. If they are able to 100 people outside the team to use it, then they have accomplished a great deal.

moores3@squared.com:
> Taking a look at the Linux PLC web site that has a link off
> www.control.com, may be a good example of how much energy the Linux PLC
> project has.

I think that'd be the old website. The new website is:
http://mat.sf.net

The manual has a lot of empty pages at the moment, but that should change, we know it's our greatest weakness ATM. The IL page is complete, and the classicladder page at least has a screenshot.

http://mat.sf.net/manual/logic/il.html
http://mat.sf.net/manual/logic/classicladder.html


Jiri
--
Jiri Baum <jiri@baum.com.au>
http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jirib
visit the MAT LinuxPLC project at http://mat.sf.net

moores3@squared.com:
> one of my friends use to say, "There are two laws to UNIX: 1) Everything
> is a file 2) Get the last word."
...
> the rich set of tools that you have for processing text streams. You can
> even build compilers with the tools.

These days there's tools for images and stuff, too... Somewhere I have a script that makes thumbnails for my web pages, and somewhere in the middle it says:
djpeg $file.jpg | pnmscale -xysize 100 100 | cjpeg $file-thumb.jpg

That's: decode a jpeg, scale it to fit into 100x100, encode a jpeg.

> Curt and the other guys that are talking up the beauty of Linux and OSS
> have made the investment in learning UNIX and they are utilizing that
> expertise to develop good solutions for their customers.

Yup. (Though I myself ain't selling anything yet.)


Jiri
--
Jiri Baum <jiri@baum.com.au>
http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jirib
visit the MAT LinuxPLC project at http://mat.sf.net


By Blunier, Mark on 26 September, 2001 - 3:03 pm

Ralph Mackiewicz said:
> Thank you for the detailed description of how to accomplish this on
> Linux using scripting. Take my word as a non-programmer: This will
> not be perceived as easy or simple to anyone who is not a programmer.
> It is easier for my primitive brain to follow a 20 line VB program to
> do the same thing than to figure out how this simple script works. VB
> might not be efficient but it is much more intuitive.

I always suspected that people that used VB were not programmers and could not perceive detailed descriptions.

With a little sarcasm,
Mark Blunier
Any opinions expressed in this message are not necessarily those of the company.

By Joe Jansen/ENGR/HQ/KEMET/US on 28 September, 2001 - 3:03 pm

OK, I _do_ have to take offense at that comment:

AT varying points in my life, I have been proficient in PASCAL, KAREL, DK, Cimpler and Cimpler II, Assembler (including hand compiling to machine code), Basic (commodore, and apple II) and countless intelligent drive programming languages. I Am currently working on learning JAVA, Python (thanks Jiri!), and twx scripting. I like to think I have at least a _basic_ grasp of Ladder programming and HMI programming.

I use VB quite a bit. Not because I am a dim bulb, but because it is the easiest way to slap together something with a pretty window to display
data. The client machines are all windows based. Fact of life that has to be dealt with. I do not have the authority to switch over every desktop in every facility of this corporation. Nothing beats VB for ease of use in this environment. If something better exists in this environment that doesn't involve my having to lay out window geometry and low level event capture and handling, I will use that. I just have found that VB's appeal is the fact that it does all the window-centric stuff for me. Why should I have to re-write that? It is there for me, and I honestly don't care about handling windows movement translations and capturing close events and inter-process communications to write it even once.

--Joe Jansen

Now that's rude, and totally uncalled-for.

Jiri
--
Jiri Baum <jiri@baum.com.au>
http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jirib
visit the MAT LinuxPLC project at http://mat.sf.net

By Curt Wuollet on 30 September, 2001 - 1:50 pm

Now that's strange, coming from my background the scripting would probably make a lot more sense than the VB and I hope it doesn't have anything to do with my intelligence. It sounds like you have simply been conditioned to do things the
Windows way and are familiar with it, where I have embraced the UNIX philosophy. While it's somewhat more difficult to make a mouseable menu with Unix, it's trivial to sort and reorder a million record database dump. Each is powerful in
it's own way. My contention is that the things *nix is powerful at are more germane to programming and processing and the things Windows is powerful at are mostly related to presentation.
This makes sense since this is what they are aimed at. Of course, most of the UNIX tools have been ported and Linux now wears a pretty face but neither is as natural as it is on it's home territory. I empt for the data tools as I don't
do anything that's graphical. The things I do are much easier in Linux. It is possible to do these things in the GUI but it would drive me crazy in short order, I've tried it. The Windows way would be to have a button for it. Much simpler. But there's too many things I do there isn't a button for.

Regards

cww

Jiri:
> > cut -f2 table.txt | sort | uniq -c | sort -n

> > Here, there are four processes in the pipeline, separated by vertical
> > bars. Data goes from left to right:

Ralph:
> Thank you for the detailed description of how to accomplish this on Linux
> using scripting. Take my word as a non-programmer: This will not be
> perceived as easy or simple to anyone who is not a programmer.

I guess the algorithm itself takes a bit of thought; but I contend that there's not much difference between the above syntax and a graphical one that might look something like this (you'll have to imagine the icons):


table.txt
\_________/
|
V
+---------+
| cut |
| field 2 |
+---------+
|
V
+---------+
| sort |
+---------+
|
V
+---------+
| uniq |
| count |
+---------+
|
V
+---------+
| sort |
| numeric |
+---------+
|
V

In fact, the main difference is probably that instead of clicking through property sheets to find the options for count and numeric, you'll be
flipping through man pages looking up the options for count and numeric...

> It is easier for my primitive brain to follow a 20 line VB program to do
> the same thing than to figure out how this simple script works. VB might
> not be efficient but it is much more intuitive.

Partly, it might be that it's a completely different way of programming: the above script is like a factory line, with a conveyor taking the data from one off-the-shelf station to the next. I think LabView is a bit like that, too.

Most other languages are more like a single robot cell, you tell it what to do, in the order you want it done. Even scripting on linux is mostly like that - it's just that some of the steps can be "run this wad of data through A, B, C and D and put the result in file X".

> This reminds me of a contest I saw in 1986/7 for the smallest program for
> sorting names alphabetically. The winner was an APL program that was a
> completely unintelligible collection of punctuation marks and letters
...

Heh, that would be the perl script:

while (<>) {
/\s(\w+)/ or /()/;
$count{$1}++;
}
for (sort keys $count) {
print "$_: $count{$_}";
}

Actually, this sorts it in alphabetical order; if you wanted it sorted by counts, the best way would be something called a Schwartzian Transform,
which is about as bad as it sounds.

Which is why I wasn't recommending perl.

> > > The Linux effort just does not have any signficant marketing efforts
> > > addressing the IA industry.

> > I guess not... apart from Curt and me posting to the A-list...

> That is not marketing...it is evangelizing.

Yup.

> Evangelizing can be an important part of marketing communications

Exactly. The other parts - well, none of us really has the resources to do a worldwide marketing blitz... We do what we can, and for the rest, well, the old saying that a good product sells itself is overstated, but 't has a grain of truth to it.

> Given that Linux is essentially free, some other business model must be
> found that provides the incentive for making this investment in marketing
> before Linux will find its way into the corporate mainstream. IBM seems
> to be finding a business model based around selling high-end servers.
> Maybe that will be the coat tails the rest of the Linux community can
> ride on.

Perhaps... although so far the evangelizing seems to have been doing okay. If it only gets turned into marketing at the potential customers site when someone goes to his or her boss and says `I need this product to do my job' then so be it.

Jiri
--
Jiri Baum <jiri@baum.com.au>
http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jirib
visit the MAT LinuxPLC project at http://mat.sf.net


By Ed Mulligan on 28 August, 2001 - 3:27 pm

Jiri wrote:

> If you're looking for equivalents of Word or Excel, no, they're not there
> yet. You have a choice between feature-poor wysiwyg editors (gnome, kde)
> and the feature-rich but obscure TeX system (or LaTeX, if you prefer).


Not even StarOffice?

http://www.sun.com/staroffice/

Ed
Speaking for me, not for Starbucks. . .

By Richard Dewees on 29 August, 2001 - 2:41 pm

I have never tried it but there is also Corel Wordperfect Office2000 for Linux

Rick Dewees
Ocean Kayak

Ed wrote:
> Not even StarOffice?

Not open source.

But yes, that is the current recommendation for an office suite that runs
on Linux.


Jiri
--
Jiri Baum <jiri@baum.com.au>
http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jirib
visit the MAT LinuxPLC project at http://mat.sf.net

By Walt Boyes on 29 August, 2001 - 3:07 pm

StarOffice, as lousy as it is, is a good first start. But it doesn't read Word files, and it doesn't like Excel files, and like it or not, MS is there. Now all we need are the HMIs and the SCMs and the CRMs and the FFAs and the ERP integration modules.

If Linux can take over enterprise integration in manufacturing, it will easily win the desktop.

Remember, that is what beat CP/M and M/PM...and Apple. IBM owned business, so when PCs went home, IBM PCs went home.

Please God, somebody besides IBM give the Open Source movement some money and direction.

Walt Boyes
co-author of "e-Business in Manufacturing: Putting the Internet
to Work in the Industrial Enterprise" ISA Press--September 2001 ISBN:
1-55617-758-5
____________________________________________
---------------------------------------------
Walt Boyes -- MarketingPractice Consultants
walt@waltboyes.com
21118 SE 278th Place - Maple Valley, WA 98038
253-709-5046 cell 425-432-8262 home office
fax:801-749-7142 ICQ: 59435534

"Strategic marketing, sales and electronic
business consulting for the small and medium-sized
enterprise: http://www.waltboyes.com"
---------------------------------------------

By Donald Pittendrigh on 30 August, 2001 - 3:52 pm

HI All

I have a (somewhat dated) copy of Linux office suite 99 which I have never used so can't comment on its usability but I bought it as it claims to have import filters for word. word perfect EPS, HTML, XLS, etc.etc.etc. The package consists of word processor, spreadsheet, database, graphics,
desktops, email & browser and includes a complimentary version of SuSe. Sounded to me like it had all the answers, I just stopped my Linux learning curve as too many other things were going on. Package was bought from

http\\www.suse.com

Cheers
Donald Pittendrigh

Out of the borrough for a short period....
Star Office does read .doc files and .xls files upto Office 2000. All old formats are supported.
I have not used office XP so don't know about that.... But I believe that Office XP files can be saved in older formats and used in Staroffice.. that is in case the format has changed. StarOffice can save in DOC and XLS format 95 as well as 97/2000 . So "mafi mushkila" (no problem) my friend. I once did a jig with Excel 95 in a 486 machine with vlookup and hllokup
and some macros and a large maintenance database loaded into the spreadsheet and it would take fifteen minutes to start excel as I put the file in Xlstart directory. But I doubt if we are ever going to use spreadsheets and document files beyond simple uses. Uses that can be resolved by gnumeric or gedit.

Anand

By Ralph Mackiewicz on 6 September, 2001 - 4:49 pm

A few clarifications on StarOffice:

1. It does read both Word and Excel files and many more other file formats beyond anything that Word supports. I have better luck reading Word files with StarOffice than with Word (corrupted files that crashed Word were read by StarOffice, saved by StarOffice and then could be read by Word again). StarOffice does not export Word files flawlessly but you can extract all the data and some of the layout information in Word.

2. Although StarOffice is not a true open source product from the Gnu perspective it is alot more open than Word. Here is Question #36 from the
Sun web site FAQ on StarOffice:

> 36. Many believe that other Sun open initiatives, such as the Java
> platform, aren't really open, since Sun continues to control the
> intellectual property and evolution of the technology. Isn't this just
> another example of Sun disguising proprietary solutions as open
> technology?
>
> Sun is changing the rules and taking office software into the
> dot-com age. Significantly, Sun announced three initiatives:
>
> We will offer the StarOffice 5.2 binary code for free download to
> anyone
>
> We will publish the StarOffice 5.2 specifications
>
> We will offer the StarOffice source code

StarOffice is a very good program. I use it exclusively at home and sometimes at work. It includes all the functions of MS Office Professional including E-Mail client and web browser. It has its own quirks and I have complaints about it (like Word the sheer number of features makes it difficult to do simple things. My favority word processor remains AmiPro
but alas it is not practical to use anymore). My favorite feature is that it doesn't have that &#$&#!@$$# blasted talking paperclip!

However, Sun does not seem to be the brighest bulb on the block in terms of marketing the product. I think that their insistence on giving it away for nothing is a serious impediment to justifying putting the resources behind it that would give it a serious chance in the marketplace. Given the license authorization software that is going into OfficeXP I think they are missing their golden opportunity.

Regards,

Ralph Mackiewicz
SISCO, Inc.

I am compelled to add my 2 cents worth here.
Having worked in the control industry for 15 years now, I am fascinated with all the banter about Microsoft. Put simply, Mircrosoft is not interested in Industrial Automation. Rather, they have chosen to make their money in the consumer end of things. Therefore, it is logical for them to put all of their eggs in the .whatever, connect wirelessly from everywhere, get email on your toaster marketplace. Windows, in it's current forms, will never be a good platform for any type of serious, mission critical machine control. That is by design. Yes, I am aware that there are plenty of machines out there running under PC control on Windows, but I don't see it becoming commonplace in the near future unless Microsoft gets serious about removing all of the consumer gizmos from the operating system itself. In my opinion, the future of Industrial computing lies with Linux or some variation thereof. Yes, you do need to be a serious geek to use it correctly (I'm not), but isn't that the point? If I want to pass data from 1 device to another, do I really need the Office Assistant?

Regards,
Pete Arthur

By Eric Lee Elliott on 6 April, 2009 - 1:37 pm

Remember when people refused to use m$ proprietary software in production systems?

Now we do use it and know m$ has full access to our data. We use m$ OS, while knowing they can upgrade (change, alter, modify) software & OS while operating.

We also wear network accessible cameras & microphones while we discuss all our business. Even the lowest cost cellular microphone has GPS & voice recognition capability today.

Did you uninstall your notebook camera, then notice WindizXP installed & enabled it again? And you do realize you have no hardware switch to disable microphone(s) or camera.

Even if we remember business principals & history, our managers are most concerned for end of week profits, not survival to next decade.

So why do you think we will not let m$ have more access to all our business?

By Curt Wuollet on 9 April, 2009 - 12:48 pm

Some of us allow this, some of us don't. I do my level best, which is considerable, to keep automation and the Internet world entirely separate. Any MS product exposed to the outside world in any manner can be safely assumed to be compromised and accessed at will. Even offline documents are traceable to a particular machine by embedded ID.

Their master plan is to own all your data. This is no secret. Why there is no outcry or even whimpering objection is one of the great mysteries. People have you jump through all kinds of phony security hoops to access their public data, then leave everything they have on PC wide open to Redmond. And this is no secret either. Dell, for example, won't sell some Linux machines to the EU because they have no backdoor and the NSA has "suggested" they provide only MS products.

The only explanation I can think of for the continued use of MS products is the story of the frog that you put in cold water and light the fire under it. Since the change happens slowly, it will peacefully allow itself to be boiled. But you trust MS, don't you?

Regards
cww

By Alex Pavloff on 27 August, 2001 - 4:35 pm

> > As Microsoft's new software development tool .net will be launched soon,
> > has anybody in the industry evaluated the impact it could put on
> > automation, especially the area of HMI:

.NET is a marketing buzzword. Keep that in mind when you see anything from Microsoft. They'll brand everything as .NET if they think it'll help. When I'm talking about .NET, I'm talking about their technological doodads they've created. Their technical plans are, quite frankly, pretty cool. Their plans to sell services and become the Info Portal Of The World is doomed to failure, because I don't think that people trust Microsoft with their personal info after all the Hotmail security holes and IIS security holes.

They've got a single runtime (the CLR or Common Language Runtime), which has the capability (well, what Microsoft says it has) to allow for easy communication between C++/Fortran/Cobol, etc etc. That's pretty neat actually.

C# the language is aimed right at Java. It's a COM based (or whatever they call COM nowadays) language with that looks like C++, but more closely tied to a Microsoft platform. It's easier to make Windows applications with it, but don't count on it being useful for anything else (which I why it won't replace C++).

They've also created a whole pile of library functions that you can call from any language. This is all well and good. What it really means though is that you're hitching your cart to the Microsoft cart, and good luck trying to get off. For some people, this is acceptable. For others (I'm just waiting for Curt to jump in here <g>), it won't be.

> > 1) The entire .net technology is claimed to be web-based, how will it help
> > to develop or improve web-based HMI? Is there any HMI package supplier
> > preparing to take the advantage of it?

It's web-based, but tied to Microsoft. This is great if all you want is PCs running Windows. I don't like PCs running Windows on the factory floor. I like thin (comparatively) clients running Linux or some other OS with a standard web browser. I suppose Windows CE could go there, but all indications and rumors that I've been hearing paint all the existing Windows CE devices as pig-slow.

> > 2) The new language C# is obviously aimed at Java, and it has high chance
> > to win. I remember the Java topic has been hot in this forum for these two
> > years, but now is everybody preparing to shift to Microsoft or stay with
> > Sun?

How many people are using Java in Automation? I dunno. What I see happening is Intellution and all the other Big Software That Runs On PCs using C# as a step up from VB.

But that's my view. I am a C++ programmer. I am not planning to use C# or .NET in any way, shape or form.

Alex Pavloff
Software Engineer
Eason Technology

By Tom Tuddenham on 28 August, 2001 - 1:00 pm

I don't think .NET is a particularly scary ogre. There are some great ideas coming out of .NET that J2EE (or other solutions) has to catch up on. Even if much of .NET is vapourware, is still sets a benchmark we can aspire to. <br><br>For my part, I'm looking forward to the XML-OPC spec when it's finally delivered to the general public. In my job I have to think about how to integrate plantfloor and business systems and anything that promotes the XML "glue" technology is a good thing from where I stand.

Cheers
Tom

By Ralph Mackiewicz on 30 August, 2001 - 4:34 pm

> Has anyone heard anything else about this? I
> only read about it in one news report and haven't seen anything
> about it since.

Here is a link to the best MS conspiracy theory I have seen in a long time that explains exactly why MS is dropping Java and doing C# and .NET. I have no idea if it is true or not but it does sound plausible.

http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20010816.html

Regards,

Ralph Mackiewicz
SISCO, Inc.

By Bob Peterson on 3 September, 2001 - 12:08 pm

Cringely cracks me up. He really does. Read his "Death of TCP/IP" column.

http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20010802.html

It's got so many technical mistakes and misconceptions, its not even funny. He's bought Steve Gibsons (www.grc.com) "raw sockets" spiel hook,line, and sinker and keeps running with that. In fact, most of his articles are just
repeating what Steve Gibson says. I think Steve Gibson is another person long on writing ability and very short on technical ability.

http://www.vmyths.com/search3.cfm?id=gibson&page=0 has some good articles.

The Register, a good UK source for tech news, also pointed out the holes in his arguments.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/6/19623.html
http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/archive/19925.html

Do a search on The Register for "Gibson" also...

Not even Microsoft can pull a replacement for TCP/IP out at this point. Why? Because you wouldn't be able to get enough companies on line with a Microsoft-compatible OS, causing the death of everything online. What's Amazon.com running?

http://uptime.netcraft.com/up/graph/?mode_u=off&mode_w=on&site=www.amazon.com

Well, lets see, if you buy Windows .NET XP 2003 Professional, you can't go to Amazon.com.

That'd go over well. Microsoft's power over the rest of the world (and the economy) is limited by its inability to penetrate beyond the midrange server market. Everyone knows Microsoft stuff can't hack it when the going gets REALLY tough.

By Michael Griffin on 4 September, 2001 - 5:24 pm

Alex Pavloff wrote:
<clip>
>C# the language is aimed right at Java. It's a COM based (or whatever
>they call COM nowadays) language with that looks like C++, but more
>closely tied to a Microsoft platform. It's easier to make Windows
>applications with it, but don't count on it being useful for anything
>else (which I why it won't replace C++).
<clip>

I believe that I read in the news (CBC) a few weeks ago that Microsoft doesn't intend to include Java support in their future products (including their web browser). The only explanation given was that it was "for business reasons". They likely will (or may already have) change their mind about this for now because I expect it to go over like a lead balloon with their major customers. It is however an interesting indication of their future intentions with Windows and dot NET.
Has anyone heard anything else about this? I only read about it in one news report and haven't seen anything about it since.

**********************
Michael Griffin
London, Ont. Canada
**********************

>I believe that I read in the news (CBC) a few weeks ago that Microsoft
>doesn't intend to include Java support in their future products
>(including their web browser).

As I understand it, Microsoft simply will not distribute a Java runtime on the Windows XP and Internet Explorer 6.0. Additionally Internet Explorer 6.0 for earlier OS versions will not include a Java runtime. Instead, when you encounter a web page that requires the Java runtime, you will be given the opportunity to download the current Java runtime from Microsoft. This is basically the same runtime that is in Internet Explorer 5.x since Sun's victory in their lawsuit prevented Microsoft from advancing Java efforts - including the integrating of current Java technologies.

Computer manufacturers such as Compaq, Dell, and Gateway are considering pre-installing the Microsoft Java runtime on new computers shipping with Windows XP. Sun is working to develop a Java runtime that integrates with Internet Explorer 6.0, however at least one of these manufacturers (I don't recall which) already stated that, at least initially, they will not ship the Sun version even if it is ready when WinXP releases - September 24.

Personally, I will use Microsoft's Java runtime because it has always proven to be more stable and faster than the Java runtime Sun has provided. Even if it is based on a 4 year old version of the Java spec. That's Suns fault for shooting their foot. If they wanted Java support, they should not have alienated the largest distribution channel for their technology - Microsoft Windows.

Further, there was also some news about Visual J++ being sold or maintenance being transferred to some other company, but the specifics escape my memory.

Jeff Dean
jeffdean@execpc.com

By Curt Wuollet on 4 September, 2001 - 5:59 pm

Jeff Dean wrote:
> As I understand it, Microsoft simply will not distribute a Java runtime on
> the Windows XP and Internet Explorer 6.0. Additionally Internet Explorer 6.0
> for earlier OS versions will not include a Java runtime. Instead, when you
> encounter a web page that requires the Java runtime, you will be given the
> opportunity to download the current Java runtime from Microsoft. This is
> basically the same runtime that is in Internet Explorer 5.x since Sun's
> victory in their lawsuit prevented Microsoft from advancing Java efforts -
> including the integrating of current Java technologies.

That's an interesting view of the situation, but I believe it only prevents them from making MS only extensions of the cross platform Java product. That's what the whole suit was about. It makes no sense to have a cross platform product that wouldn't include MS. They simply refuse to keep it cross-platform. If they can embrace, extend and destroy, they will have no part of it. And that attitude counters the wishes of their customers. Nothing prevents them from using it the way that it was designed to be used.

> Computer manufacturers such as Compaq, Dell, and Gateway are considering
> pre-installing the Microsoft Java runtime on new computers shipping with
> Windows XP. Sun is working to develop a Java runtime that integrates with
> Internet Explorer 6.0, however at least one of these manufacturers (I don't
> recall which) already stated that, at least initially, they will not ship
> the Sun version even if it is ready when WinXP releases - September 24.

That's probably just as well, I bet Sun doesn't get much advance info on WinXP. It'll take them a while to figure out the secret API's to get good
stability and performance on WinXP. The DOJ may help with that.

> Personally, I will use Microsoft's Java runtime because it has always proven
> to be more stable and faster than the Java runtime Sun has provided. Even if
> it is based on a 4 year old version of the Java spec. That's Suns fault for
> shooting their foot. If they wanted Java support, they should not have
> alienated the largest distribution channel for their technology - Microsoft
> Windows.

If they hadn't stood on principle, it would be shipped with Windows but it wouldn't be Java. I think they made the right choice. Standards have to mean something. You can already see the effect of letting MS set the standards.

> Further, there was also some news about Visual J++ being sold or maintenance
> being transferred to some other company, but the specifics escape my memory.

That's good news. Perhaps the new owner will make it produce cross-platform code and it will be a far more useful tool.

Regards

cww

In respect to my explanation of Microsoft's decision to not distribute Java with Windows XP or Internet Explorer 6.0, Curt Wuollet said:
>>That's an interesting view of the situation, but I believe it only
>>prevents them from making MS only extensions of the cross platform
>>Java product. That's what the whole suit was about. It makes no sense
>>to have a cross platform product that wouldn't include MS. They simply
>>refuse to keep it cross-platform. If they can embrace, extend and
>>destroy, they will have no part of it. And that attitude counters the
>>wishes of their customers. Nothing prevents them from using it the way
>>that it was designed to be used.

Actually, after a little research I found a summary of the terms of the settlement decision from Sun v Microsoft.

- Microsoft paid Sun $20 million
- The Java licensing agreement signed between the companies in 1996 is now _-_terminated_-_ (The license would have expired in March 2001 anyway)
- Microsoft can continue to ship existing products that use Sun's Java technology, as well as those currently in beta, for a period of seven years.
- Microsoft has also agreed not to use Sun's Java compatibility trademark -- represented by a steaming coffee cup logo.

How do I interpret this? Sun got some money (a stipend). The license agreement was canceled, so Microsoft can no longer develop products integrating a Java runtime unless they choose to enter into another license agreement with Sun. Sun did not take advantage of the "free" marketing for Java technology that allowing Microsoft to use its logo would have provided.

So I reiterate, Sun shot themselves in the foot. They told their largest distributor to stop shipping their technology. They told the largest
software company on the face of the earth to stop using their technology in new products. And they told the worlds largest software marketing engine to stop marketing their technology. Now you're telling me this is somehow Microsoft's fault?Please take off the rose colored glasses and look at the facts.

It might have been a great coup for Sun if there were enough momentum to move to other platforms to use Java... but there simply is not. Java support is not enough of a reason to move away from Windows for a majority of computer users.

>>That's probably just as well, I bet Sun doesn't get much advance
>>info on WinXP. It'll take them a while to figure out the secret
>>API's to get good stability and performance on WinXP. The DOJ
>>may help with that.

Yes, the DOJ in it's ultimate wisdom (we're the government, we're here to help you) aims to help, by complete folly, a company that can not compete
based on market conditions. One of those market conditions is Microsoft itself. Sun could compete if it didn't have any competition -- or if it's
competitor were bound and gagged by the government.

The theory of a vast Microsoft conspiracy is as ludicrous as the vast right-wing conspiracy. You may as well be saying that GE thrust it's own
conspiracy on us by wanting "light bulbs everywhere" or GM has cooked it's own back-room plots to put a "car in every garage." (or minivan) :) (my apologies to GE, GM, other light bulb manufacturers and other car manufacturers) :) Companies have goals to sell product, services and at the end of the day, make money. Their primary responsibility is to grow
shareholder value. For that they can not be faulted.

Jeff Dean
jeffdean@execpc.com

P.S. I wonder why I engage zealots, such as Curt, in arguments that do nothing but fan the flames. Curt's not going to change his opinion because of something I say. Just as I could never be convinced to change my opinion based on the words of a zealot. I did simply want to clarify that Sun did indeed (maybe not in so few words) tell Microsoft that they were not welcome at the Java cafe.

By Curt Wuollet on 6 September, 2001 - 5:50 pm

Hi Jeff

You are still ignoring the crux of the case. That Microsoft doesn't want to support cross platform Java and Sun simply wants Java to remain cross
platform. Microsoft wanted to derail cross platform Java by it's standard embrace, extend, and destroy strategy. Sun was just too big to steamroller. The issue was that MS wanted to make non-standard, MSJava, the de facto standard by getting it on millions of desktops, thus marginalizing the cross-platform Java. That's why the compatibility logo is at issue. If they can't hijack the standard (rare), plan B is to shun it as absolutely and completely as possible, even to the point of developing their own analog. So you have C# and to some extent .NET which is positioned somewhat against JINI which is Java based. You can interpret it as you wish but this is a pattern we've seen over and over and over. Dozens of smaller partners and competitors have been effectively wiped out with these tactics which lead indirectly to the current DOJ action.
I won't even try to infer that Sun has the public interest at heart, but they are the first competitor to say NO and live through it.

I don't see how anyone could be involved with PC's and not see this pattern. Regardless of whether it's legal or smart business or what. That's irrelevant. The point is, if MS is involved, they come away with _all_ the cookies. And it has worked every time save this one.

This is not zealotry, I don't use Windows or Java or other Sun technology, except whatever has made it into Linux. I just think that seeing this
treachery repeated over and over and over should convince people that partnering with Microsoft and handing them the keys to public resources has an extremely predictable result. You can't use just a little Microsoft, pick and choose amongst their technologies, because everything they do is
heavily weighted towards a Microsoft only world and they have the power and resources to achieve it iff a complacent populace allows.

My interest is simply that I would like to be able to use something else and still be able to do what I need to do. And it's very difficult
already because of Microsoft's exclusionary deals and influence. That's what I see that most people simply don't, because they use Microsoft.

I ask, is it healthy to have our government, our businesses, our schools, our everything, totally dependent on only one company? And in spite of the huge body of evidence to the contrary(crippling viruses,hackers, back doors, etc.), people say; Yes, gladly, if they make it simple enough.

What's wrong with this picture?

Regards

cww

By Enrico Guasco on 12 September, 2001 - 11:38 am

Hi everybody,
I was thinking how to put in my (bad) english an answer to all the crap about .NET when I came to this email and I can only add "that's exactly what i wanted to say".

I agree with Curt 100%.

enrico guasco

Tex.El. di Guasco Enrico
Borgata Ricca, 6
13822 - Mosso (Bi)

Tel.+39015702972
Fax.+390152548911
cell 3482644838

By Ranjan Acharya on 11 September, 2001 - 5:17 pm

Jeff Dean wrote:

>The theory of a vast Microsoft conspiracy is as ludicrous as the vast right-wing conspiracy. You may as well be saying that GE thrust it's own
conspiracy on us by wanting "light bulbs everywhere" or GM has cooked it's own back-room plots to put a "car in every garage." (or minivan)
<

From what I have read there may have been a conspiracy between Firestone and General Motors (in the United States at least) in the early 1900s to "elect" local councillors in key cities who were motor-car friendly rather than tram-car or street-car friendly.


By Curt Wuollet on 12 September, 2001 - 9:42 am

Ranjan Acharya wrote:
>
> <clip>
> The theory of a vast Microsoft conspiracy is as ludicrous as the vast
> right-wing conspiracy. You may as well be saying that GE thrust it's own
> conspiracy on us by wanting "light bulbs everywhere" or GM has cooked it's
> own back-room plots to put a "car in every garage." (or minivan)
> </clip>

Actually there was quite an interesting fight for the light and power distribution monopoly in the early days. Edison lost out.

> >From what I have read there may have been a conspiracy between Firestone and
> General Motors (in the United States at least) in the early 1900s to "elect"
> local councillors in key cities who were motor-car friendly rather than
> tram-car or street-car friendly.

GM provided Buses to the MTC at way below cost in Minneapolis to hasten the end of the streetcar in the 50's. The cars were stacked and burned and
the tracks torn up. And now they are spending billions to install light rail. Hmmm.

Regards

cww

--
Free Tools!
Machine Automation Tools (LinuxPLC) Free, Truly Open & Publicly Owned
Industrial Automation Software For Linux. mat.sourceforge.net.
Day Job: Heartland Engineering, Automation & ATE for Automotive Rebuilders.
Consultancy: Wide Open Technologies: Moving Business & Automation to Linux.

By Mark Blunier on 11 September, 2001 - 5:32 pm

From what I've read on Edison, that was one of his goals. Lighting (which in itself was profitable) is what created the demand for his generators.

Mark Blunier
Any opinions expressed in this message are not necessarily those of the company.

By Curt Wuollet on 28 August, 2001 - 11:33 am

I can't imagine a more idiotic scenario than to keep your process control and automation data on someone else's server. Especially a morally
bankrupt partner like Microsoft. Why not simply publish it to your competitors?
That aside, it will be ballyhooed and eagerly purchased simply because MS says so. It's where you want to go today.

Regards

cww

By Walt Boyes on 28 August, 2001 - 1:24 pm

No, Curt, it will be bought because none of Microsoft's competitors, including the open source movement can market their way out of a torn wet paper sack.

There is a huge market for turn-key, plug-and-play non-Microsoft computer operating systems. There is a huge market for an office suite that doesn't report to Mother Redmond every ten minutes. Watching Windows and Office try to get through my firewall is hysterical.

But most people aren't programmers. Even many systems integrators don't like doing custom programming. It raises the bar to attract new customers. The more "function blocks" that are already written, the cheaper each job becomes.

There is an analogy in the back office there too.

What is needed is somebody to package an opensource OS/office suite and sell it. And all the Linux purists need to get on board with it instead of sitting back and taking shots at Microstupid and everybody else who has a clue.

Walt Boyes
co-author of "e-Business in Manufacturing: Putting the Internet
to Work in the Industrial Enterprise" ISA Press--September 2001 ISBN:
1-55617-758-5
____________________________________________
---------------------------------------------
Walt Boyes -- MarketingPractice Consultants
walt@waltboyes.com
21118 SE 278th Place - Maple Valley, WA 98038
253-709-5046 cell 425-432-8262 home office
fax:801-749-7142 ICQ: 59435534

"Strategic marketing, sales and electronic
business consulting for the small and medium-sized
enterprise: http://www.waltboyes.com"
---------------------------------------------

Walt wrote:
> No, Curt, it will be bought because none of Microsoft's competitors,
> including the open source movement can market their way out of a torn wet
> paper sack.

Perhaps... That there monopolist that'll stomp over anyone preinstalling it on any sizeable scale doesn't help, either.

> There is a huge market for an office suite that doesn't report to Mother
> Redmond every ten minutes.

Yes, like I wrote, equivalents of Word and Excel just aren't there yet. Neither Gnome nor KDE is up to it yet, and TeX is obscure. For the time
being, the best we can offer is StarOffice (not open source).

> But most people aren't programmers. Even many systems integrators don't
> like doing custom programming. It raises the bar to attract new
> customers. The more "function blocks" that are already written, the
> cheaper each job becomes.

Obviously. That's why a standard linux install includes between one and two thousand utilities and commands, for dealing with text files, images, etc.

It's also the secret behind the Apache webserver - a bunch of webmasters got together and decided that instead of each of them doing custom programming, they'll all do it together. Spread the work and the benefits.

> There is an analogy in the back office there too.

Yup, Apache.

> What is needed is somebody to package an opensource OS/office suite and
> sell it.

Red Hat ? SuSE ? Debian ?


BTW, I note you don't address Curt's security concerns; perhaps he phrased them rather irreverently, but they are reasonable.

Jiri
--
Jiri Baum <jiri@baum.com.au>
http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jirib
visit the MAT LinuxPLC project at http://mat.sf.net

By Curt Wuollet on 30 August, 2001 - 3:09 pm

Walt wrote:
> No, Curt, it will be bought because none of Microsoft's competitors,
> including the open source movement can market their way out of a torn wet
> paper sack.

The Open Source community _is_ made up of very generous people. We're software rich, but we don't have an extortion racket pouring cash in the
coffers like MS does. You are probably right here, a monopoly has every advantage in maintaining the status quo. And the exclusive agreements with system vendors eliminates the best marketing weapon, getting the OS preloaded. Haven't you ever wondered why nobody offers a dual boot? But, IBM is helping and quality speaks very loudly. The people who care about uptime are already well aware of Linux.

> There is a huge market for turn-key, plug-and-play non-Microsoft computer
> operating systems. There is a huge market for an office suite that doesn't
> report to Mother Redmond every ten minutes. Watching Windows and Office try
> to get through my firewall is hysterical.

StarOffice is a good start. The problem is that people want every single detail to be exactly like Microsoft's product or it's junk. My problem with that is that if it is exactly like Microsoft's product, you really haven't
accomplished anything. When people approach Linux wanting to change, it's everything they need. We switched our whole company and life goes on.

> But most people aren't programmers. Even many systems integrators don't
> like doing custom programming. It raises the bar to attract new customers.
> The more "function blocks" that are already written, the cheaper each job
> becomes.
>
> There is an analogy in the back office there too.

I agree completely. If you are a programmer, Linux offers vastly more prefab building blocks than anything else. If your're not, the problem
is that your trickle of data activates thousands of times more software than it needs to with typical Windows programming and it only goes where
someone else says it can go and does only what someone else says it can do. This is particularly bad for me as I usually need to do things the
vendors frown upon like integrating stuff and interoperating. It's simple on the surface but horrendously inefficient. When folks say they can't service a serial port often enough with a 1.5 Ghz processor, something's drastically wrong. Perhaps we as a gruop should do more programming and accept less "lowest common denominator" tools.

> What is needed is somebody to package an opensource OS/office suite and sell
> it. And all the Linux purists need to get on board with it instead of
> sitting back and taking shots at Microstupid and everybody else who has a
> clue.

StarOffice is that package. I prefer WordPerfect and separate functions myself. Look for IBM to push something in the near future. I don't think
the Koffice stuff is all that bad, but I, admittedly, am not a wordsmith.

I am still wondering why every comparison bwtween Linux and Wxxx ends up talking about Office software rather than automation software. Of course, .NET has very little concieveable value to automation.


Regards

cww

By DAVCO Automation on 18 September, 2001 - 3:49 pm

Curt:

As I repeat every month, once a month for what must now be 2 years........We are all fully aware of your position on MS. By endlessly repeating it over and over again, you destroy your "objectiveness" if there was any.

This reminds me of my laid off coworkers from the IT dept who insisted we couldn't do payroll without our mainframe.

Welcome to 2001, they are here to stay and like it or not the consumers are and have spoken...............customers......what a concept.

As always, until next month........

Dave

By Curt Wuollet on 18 September, 2001 - 3:52 pm

Good to hear from you Dave!

This discussion started when someone asked about Microsoft and dot Net.

Regards

cww

By Scott Cornwall on 24 September, 2001 - 10:31 am

> This discussion started when someone asked about Microsoft and
> dot Net.

If I can drift back to the original subject for a brief while...
Whilst driving to work and listening to a www.Technetcast.com mp3 presentation on DotNet, the speaker mentioned that the Dot Net Common
Language Runtime (CLR) garbage collector (server version) can cause delays in an application of a few hundred milliseconds. I would consider this to make the technology pretty limiting for automation, or any near real time application - even for middleware.

Can anyone who knows this technology in a little more detail comment further on this ?

Regards,
Scott Cornwall
_________________
www.sentech.co.nz



Scott:
> the Dot Net Common Language Runtime (CLR) garbage collector (server
> version) can cause delays in an application of a few hundred
> milliseconds.

Garbage collection means that every now and then the program stops and looks around for any memory that's not used any more. That means you don't
have to have explicit steps in the program to de-allocate memory, eliminating some work and some kinds of bugs. It's not particularly worse as far as efficiency is concerned.

> I would consider this to make the technology pretty limiting for
> automation, or any near real time application - even for middleware.

Yup, that's why the MAT LinuxPLC is using explicit de-allocation. (Of course, theoretically memory allocation is pretty bad anyway, but in
practice it rarely happens. We try not to allocate while running anyway.)

In practice, I suspect that figure of hundreds of milliseconds would be an uncomonly large figure, with normal runs much quicker. Someone might even
write an incremental garbage collector that reduces this further.

Jiri
--
Jiri Baum <jiri@baum.com.au>
http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jirib
visit the MAT LinuxPLC project at http://mat.sf.net

By Scott Cornwall on 30 September, 2001 - 1:02 pm

> Yup, that's why the MAT LinuxPLC is using explicit de-allocation. (Of
> course, theoretically memory allocation is pretty bad anyway, but in
> practice it rarely happens. We try not to allocate while
> running anyway.)

I hope you mean you absolutely never use dynamic memory allocation in the run time engine. Otherwise your PLC cannot guarantee it will always be able to run in a confined amount of memory, and that it won't suddenly fail after
running for a week/month/year.


> In practice, I suspect that figure of hundreds of
> milliseconds would be an
> uncomonly large figure, with normal runs much quicker.
> Someone might even
> write an incremental garbage collector that reduces this further.

> Jiri

The reason I raised this is that it seemed an uncommonly large figure to me, and one quoted by a spokesperson for Microsoft. Even if normal runs are quicker, the occassional delay of several hundred milliseconds could still be a serious limitation. I would be extremely surprised if Microsoft was not using an incremental garbage collector.

Jiri, do you have some technical detail on this technology that you are able to share with the group, I mean on the performance of the .NET CLR garbage collector ?

Scott
_________________
www.sentech.co.nz

i work in the shipping logistic industry designing shipping systems (like APSS aka Aristo, Clippership, KShip, Etc). currently I'm writing a new product in .NET and we did noticed some issues with the GC initially. then we did some research (5 minutes worth) and discovered what we were doing wrong.

the key that you all seem to be missing is that you can call the GC on demand. if you call GC.Collect at the end of each routine (after destroying your objects) it will take care of everything constantly. you can event specify which generation of objects you want to drop. Not calling GC.Collect explicitly is like running on Autopilot.

here's the real trip... it's so easy to code in DotNet you will be able spend less time coding and more time testing and enhancing your app. The features in DotNet make debugging and maintenance much less of a hassle. the end result of DotNet is a *better* product.

Curt Wuollet wrote:
> I can't imagine a more idiotic scenario than to keep your
> process control and automation data on someone else's server.

Stop the FUD, Curt. There is absolutely nothing about .NET or the .NET vision that includes a requirement of storing your own corporate data on
another companies server.

Just because .NET happens, does that mean that suddenly Wonderware's historical logger is going to start streaming process data to Microsoft?
Does that mean that RSSQL will only connect to Microsoft Corporate SQL Servers and that you won't be able to install a SQL server in your own
facility? Does that mean that we'll never need our own hard drives again?

No, that's not the Microsoft vision. Sun's vision, maybe - but not Microsoft.

Jeff Dean
jeffdean@execpc.com

By Curt Wuollet on 30 August, 2001 - 4:21 pm

That's not FUD that's the "advantage" that was offered to me by the sales force. I do admire their sales force, it's absolutely no fun to call on me about buying Windows. They ignore the laughter and keep right on pitching.

Does Office phone home? Did they tell you it would?

> Just because .NET happens, does that mean that suddenly Wonderware's
> historical logger is going to start streaming process data to Microsoft?
> Does that mean that RSSQL will only connect to Microsoft Corporate SQL
> Servers and that you won't be able to install a SQL server in your own
> facility? Does that mean that we'll never need our own hard drives again?

I wouldn't expose any mission critical machine to the internet that was running a .NET capable OS. Many more people share my concern than share your confidence in the descretion of Microsoft. And, as totally objective sources report every week, even if they don't peek, any average teenager
with a grudge can destroy it. Ludicrous, simply ludicrous. How hard would it be to mail data rather than simply replicate?

> No, that's not the Microsoft vision. Sun's vision, maybe - but not
> Microsoft.

No, we can't even imagine what Microsoft's uses for our data might be. I wouldn't allow this type of exposure even with someone who could be trusted. I wouldn't even do it with Linux and I can be sure what that does.

Regards

cww

By Bob Peterson on 3 September, 2001 - 12:03 pm

> No, we can't even imagine what Microsoft's uses for our data might be.
> I wouldn't allow this type of exposure even with someone who could be
> trusted. I wouldn't even do it with Linux and I can be sure what that
> does.

I think this is one point we can agree on. There is no reason whatsoever to allow someone else to store your data for you, even if it is secure. Its your data, and you should keep control of it.

Quite frankly I can see no real benefit to storing your personal financial data in anyone's database. It just make it all that much easier for someone to misuse it. I would prefer to see a code wallet type application running on your own machine that can supply the data only when you tell it to. Then your data is always under your control, and not someone else's.

Bob Peterson

By moores3@squared.com on 3 September, 2001 - 1:57 pm

Having someone else house your data and you ERP system does make sense. For small companies or startups it may not make sense to invest in the ERP infrastructure in the early stages of the companies life. The ASP model can be a good arrangement that makes sense.

Housing auotmation information would normally be the role of an MES. I don't really see another company housing your MES, but it may work for
someone.

By Alex Pavloff on 28 August, 2001 - 5:28 pm

Curt, read my earlier post, and do a little reading on .NET. Only one facet of .NET is the "things run on our server" part a la Microsoft's Passport. I would like to point out that Ximian, led by Miguel De Icaza, of the GNOME
project, is doing an open-source initiative to make their own version Microsoft's Common Runtime Language, a compiler for C#, and a set of class
libraries. Check it out at http://www.go-mono.com/index.html. There's another one, but I forget the name.

From the Mono FAQ:
> Question 8: You guys should innovate instead of copying.
>
> In this particular case, we see a clear advantage in the platform
> and we are interested in using the features of the CLI on open source systems.

Your hatred for everything Microsoft blinds you to the fact that not everything they do(technically) sucks. It's like the converse of the Not Invented Here syndrome... the "It Better Not Be Invented There" syndrome.

Alex Pavloff
Software Engineer
Eason Technology

By Curt Wuollet on 30 August, 2001 - 4:24 pm

I'm objective, I think it's a bad idea there too, and not remarkably germane to automation and control. Giving up this whole spectrum to any proprietary interest is something we'll have a lifetime to pay for and regret.

Step back and examine _why_ they are doing this.

> >From the Mono FAQ:
> > Question 8: You guys should innovate instead of copying.
> >
> > In this particular case, we see a clear advantage in the platform
> > and we are interested in using the features of the CLI on open source
> systems.
>
> Your hatred for everything Microsoft blinds you to the fact that not
> everything they do (technically) sucks. It's like the converse of the Not
> Invented Here syndrome... the "It Better Not Be Invented There" syndrome.

I never said that everything they do sucks. I have mentioned that everything they do benefits them a great deal more than it benefits you and I and the public. And turning over control of even more of the basis of our new economy to them is simply a bad idea. What they do suits their purposes very well. Soon they will be getting a regular check from _almost_ everybody. Even 1984
didn't go that far.


Regards

cww

By Alex Pavloff on 3 September, 2001 - 12:00 pm

Once again Curt, READ what .NET is. Its a compiler and toolset. Its not a GIVE ALL YOUR INFO TO MICROSOFT ploy. It's Microsoft's equivalent to Java. If you're going to lambaste Microsoft, at least understand what the hell
they're doing. Besides, if you're going to lambaste Microsoft for creating a programming language and doing everything they can to maintain control of it, you'd better include Sun in that diatribe too.

You are NOT objective. You've got an axe to grind and we're all covered with sparks.

> I never said that everything they do sucks. I have mentioned that
everything
> they do benefits them a great deal more than it benefits you and I and the
> public. And turning over control of even more of the basis of our new
economy
> to them is simply a bad idea. What they do suits their purposes very well.
> Soon they will be getting a regular check from _almost_ everybody. Even
1984
> didn't go that far.

In the past, monopolies have risen -- monopolies have fallen. This is no different.

Alex Pavloff

By Curt Wuollet on 3 September, 2001 - 1:58 pm

Hi Alex

.NET is a vision where MS controls much more of the structure for commercial data exchange by leveraging their desktop monopoly to the server room and thence across the net. Since "everyone" uses Windows it will be as difficult to unseat or even run alongside as their desktop dominance is. Once a majority is using their means, they have the power to exclude competitors by "enhancing" the products with proprietary extensions and jiggling things just enough to keep competitors broken and ISV's in their pocket. If their position and tactics wouldn't give them exclusive control of the technology and if they hadn't repeatedly demonstrated that they will exploit that control to devastate competitors and exclude
other solutions, I might think more of the idea. We've handed them a lock on intrabusiness computing in the name of "standards" and now they are looking for the same lock on interbusiness computing. And as surely as their lock on the desktop will result in almost everyone paying protection money periodically, letting them achieve the same with commercial data interchange will yield them tribute whenever data crosses the wires. The first tidbits may appear harmless
but because of their monopoly position you can never stuff the genie back in the bottle. I prefer chaos to a Roman peace as should regulators
and those who might like to retain the Internet as a public resource. This is purely based on extrapolation of their behaviour to date and their vision statements for the .NET vaporware.
I'd be happy to discuss any part you see as implausible or out of character for the company. Please tell me this is not what they have in mind and please tell me they won't do this just as easily as their universal private tax. All they need is complacency. I'm sorry, equal opportunity and democratic access to the vast future market that B2B and cooperative computing represents are far too important to our future to give away at this early stage of the game. I don't have any problem with them having a share but we must prevent them having a monopoly in this area at all costs.

And yes it is just a compiler and a toolkit. Hell, it's all just software.

Regards
cww

By Joe Jansen/ENGR/HQ/KEMET/US on 5 September, 2001 - 12:24 pm

Alex Pavloff wrote:
> Once again Curt, READ what .NET is. Its a compiler and toolset.

Isn't hailstorm part of .NET?

Isn't Hailstorm the part where you need a passport account to get access to any of Microsoft's 'services'?

Isn't passport the part where you give them (at a minimum) your name and credit card number? And more info than that if you want access to more of
their 'services'?

Isn't my name and credit card number personal information?

How does .NET not include giving up personal information?

--Joe Jansen

Joe,

Actually no ..

At a minimum you must provide Passport with the following info ...
Email address
Password
A secret question if you forget your password
Country
State
Zip Code

FYI ... I use a number of "Passports" which I use to navigate many sites. You can create email addresses at a number of the "free" email sites and have as many passports as you want.

If you have trouble sharing your Country, State and Zip,,,, then stay away from Passports !!

To quote the Passport help file ..........

"Microsoft Corporation, which provides the Passport service, uses the information you provide during Passport registration to operate and maintain your Passport account.

Microsoft does not share the personal information in your Passport profile with other companies without your consent. You may choose to have Microsoft share your Passport profile information
with other companies when you sign in to their Passport-enabled sites. This lets the sites speed your registration and offer you personalized
services. You can indicate on the Passport registration form, or in your Passport profile following registration, which information to share. Sites that offer the Passport service must display their own privacy statements and are bound by rules that require them to disclose how they use your Passport information. If you have a Passport wallet, your wallet information is never shared with participating sites at sign in. Your Passport wallet information is only shared when you choose which pieces to send to the merchant during a Passport express purchase."


Regards
Mark Hill

By Joe Jansen/ENGR/HQ/KEMET/US on 12 September, 2001 - 2:13 pm

To quote Jim Allchin group Vice president of MS Platform Group. From an interview with eWeek Senior Editor Peter Galli, in the August 13, 2001
issue of eWeek, page 20, starting at the bottom of the second column. Emphasis added.

"You don't have to give any personal detail *OTHER THAN* an e-mail address or credit card details..."

Also from yours:

Sites that offer the Passport service must display their own privacy statements and are bound by rules that require them to disclose how they use your Passport information.

How many privacy statements have you read? According to another eWeek article (yes, I read pretty much everrything in each issue), If you agree to share your info (and note that you choose which info to share, but not WHO to share it with. Once shared, it is free for ANY passport enabled site to use) Any passport enabled site can take the shared info and do
whatever they want with it. Including sell it to marketing companies. As long as somewhere on there site, buried in a 10 page privacy statement,
they say "we will sell all your info to anyone willing to pay a buck", they are well within their rights to do so. Also, don't expect your minimum list to get you very far once Hailstorm rolls out.

And, of course, there is always the issue that if My info (including, for example, Wallet, containing my credit card info) is on someone else's server, it is outside my control. Tell you what: Give me your credit card info. I'll keep it real safe for you. Really, I promise. And I can even truthfully say that I have been hacked less than Microsoft, so My server should be more secure, right? I don't think so.

The interview is a good read. Quite funny, actually, when Allchin tries to convince us that MS is fighting for user choice. "If anything, we're fighting for user choice and pushing hard for that." Good humor!

--Joe Jansen

Joe;

I think you're confusing "Wallet" for Passport.

Passport does nothing more than allow you to visit certain sites with your Passport.

Wallet is the technology that collects and maintains your personal purchasing information such as Credit Card, Numbers, Billing Address,
for use at other sites.

You absolutely _do not_ need Wallet to use Passport.

Here's a link that discusses their Privacy Policy Statement:
http://www.passport.com/consumer/privacypolicy.asp?PPlcid=1033

Unfortunately, you'll need a Passport to visit it !!

Mark Hill

By Joe Jansen/ENGR/HQ/KEMET/US on 12 September, 2001 - 2:12 pm

I touched on this in my other reply. eWeek, August 13. Page 20. Jim Allchin (VP, MS platforms group) describes what info goes into Passport. He specifically mentions an email address and credit card details.

--Joe Jansen

By Curt Wuollet on 12 September, 2001 - 2:15 pm

Hi Mark

Forgive me if I'm not swayed by the MS privacy statement. I find their credibility somewhat suspect after the phony federal court evidence incident. Some of the recent FUD hasn't helped either. Or the Office scandal. Not a good track record for truth or privacy.

Regards

cww

By Joe Jansen/ENGR/HQ/KEMET/US on 13 September, 2001 - 2:59 pm

Curt,
You should love this one then:

http://www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/tech/2001-08-31-hotmail-security.htm

I especially like this quote:

"It took just three lines of code for Grossman to breach Hotmail filters and access Passport ID and credit card data."

He beat this though, by returning after MS 'fixed' it, and regained access with one line of code. *One Line*! At this point, the privacy statement is pretty meaningless if someone can just ride right in and take the data away from them.

MS security is an oxymoron. Heavy on the Moron.

--Joe Jansen

By Curt Wuollet on 18 September, 2001 - 2:08 pm

Actually Joe I'm not really pleased by the fact that the majority of the computing public has suffered and continues to suffer from security
problems. The enormous cost of Code Red and the outages and slowdowns caused by millions of Windows boxes merrily mailing each other viruses
and billions in lost time and productivity are a major cause of the tech market tanking and are the feet of clay that hold back many of the things
that we need to support the revised "new economy" It doesn't really help Linux much because the public doesn't discriminate. They have no way of
knowing that it is manageable and preventable simply by platform divesity. Now, if they were clamoring for legislation that made Microsoft
responsible for those billions, I would say it is a gain. But, rightly or wrongly, with some spin from the Redmond crew, they assume it's the same
all over and unavoidable. If half the boxes ran Linux and ignored the virus of the week it would break the exponential infection chains and delay things long enough that they could be stopped or at least controlled. Far better would be a high security default on Windows installs but that would break a lot of the cool features like Rich Spam and embedded whatnot and singing greeting cards and is thus unlikely to happen. The antivirus firms would collapse. The part that is totally inexplicable to me is the acceptance of this high level of disruption and destruction with no reflection on the security structure of Windows. Another case of "simplicity at any cost". Simplicity does seem to be the only thing that matters to a lot of people. Contrast this with the safety standards on other consumer products. What a paradox.

Regards

cww

Again, Curt, I find I disagree with you.

There is no doubt that the security issues of networking and the Internet have caused millions of dollars worth of problems.

But those problems have very little to do with the tech market tanking.

There are two very basic causes of the tech market tanking.

The first is the bursting of the dotcom bubble and the resulting ripple backwards through the entire high technology sector. For example, due to the inflated reports from even the most reputable market analysts, it is now estimated that the amount of dark fiber in the ground will provide expansion capability for at least 5-7 years without new construction in telecom. There are other examples.

The second, in the "applied technology" sector, which includes factory automation, is that the rewards of the integration projects have been less
than as advertised. Too many factory automation projects were done without clear financial goals, and when no immediately measurable benefit arose,
managements began to question why more projects should be done. CRM and SCM projects are running less than 50% success rates.

In a down economy, caused by the dotcom crash, no manager wants to put big bucks into projects with no obvious return, or a coin-toss success rate.

Security issues are a pimple on the nose of why the tech market sucks right now. The big analysts and the big vendors oversold drastically the benefits and the ease of total enterprise integration, and now we are paying for it.

Does that mean I don't think enterprise integration works, and is worthwhile? Heck no. Of course it works, when it is done well, with clear goals, a strategy, ways to measure results, and clear implementation. There are too many good MES systems up and running, now integrated with ERP and SCM systems to say that.

Will the market support an integrator on every corner? No. Will the market support integrators who are careful, organized, have strategic capabilities, and plan their integrations to deliver what the customer really wants, even
if the customer can't articulate the actual need? Yes, and they will get wealthy.

What about security? *nix has holes, too. Remember, the original worm was a Unix worm. The original virus was released in a Unix network.
Self-replicating programs date from before Arpanet. Most of the *nix holes ported to Linux too. Yes, Microsoft has more holes, especially in macros and macroviruses, that are more easily available to the less experienced cracker. But you cannot blame the entire IT security issue on Windows. You might as well blame it on science fiction. Just as the needle-less hypodermic exists because a young person saw Dr. McCoy "using" one on Star Trek, the entire suite of worms, viruses and bots were described in the
1960s and early 1970s by science fiction writers John Brunner and Walt and Leigh Richmond. Described well enough that the terms worm and virus come directly from that source. So you might as well blame Gene Roddenberry.

No, you keep dodging the bullet, Curt. The bullet is that the entire technology and applied technology industry needs to make a market for what we have to sell. We have engulfed the early adopters but have failed to cross the chasm. People are discovering that they don't need a faster computer at home, and that they aren't seeing the productivity gains in the factory, or in the office to permit amortization of the cost of installing even more factory automation and enterprise integration over any reasonable
time base.

In the factory space, mostly, that's a failure of communication on our parts. We have been more interested in the next new thing, and which
software does what, than we've been in understanding business processes and analyzing what systems will actually produce revenue enhancements and productivity gains.

Walt Boyes
co-author of "e-Business in Manufacturing: Putting the Internet
to Work in the Industrial Enterprise" ISA Press--September 2001 ISBN:
1-55617-758-5
____________________________________________
---------------------------------------------
Walt Boyes -- MarketingPractice Consultants
walt@waltboyes.com
21118 SE 278th Place - Maple Valley, WA 98038
253-709-5046 cell 425-432-8262 home office
fax:801-749-7142 ICQ: 59435534

"Strategic marketing, sales and electronic
business consulting for the small and medium-sized
enterprise: http://www.waltboyes.com"
---------------------------------------------

By Curt Wuollet on 18 September, 2001 - 4:53 pm

Success rates for these major projects are below 50%. I suspect the platform chosen is a major cause. Just my opinion as a consultant who gets pleas to come and straighten out failed projects. Most of them were doomed from the start due to scalability/capacity planning or insufficient customer comittment. I couldn't agree more that it's oversold and it's consistantly MSP's who are guilty of selling something they can't build. I won't touch anything that's not on UNIX. They don't sell anywhere near as many systems but they work much more often. I'd say better than 80%. It isn't just UNIX vs MS, UNIX vars seem to know more about large projects.

> Will the market support an integrator on every corner? No. Will the market
> support integrators who are careful, organized, have strategic capabilities,
> and plan their integrations to deliver what the customer really wants, even
> if the customer can't articulate the actual need? Yes, and they will get
> wealthy.
>
> What about security? *nix has holes, too. Remember, the original worm was
> a Unix worm. The original virus was released in a Unix network.
> Self-replicating programs date from before Arpanet. Most of the *nix holes
> ported to Linux too. Yes, Microsoft has more holes, especially in macros
> and macroviruses, that are more easily available to the less experienced
> cracker. But you cannot blame the entire IT security issue on Windows. You
> might as well blame it on science fiction. Just as the needle-less
> hypodermic exists because a young person saw Dr. McCoy "using" one on Star
> Trek, the entire suite of worms, viruses and bots were described in the
> 1960s and early 1970s by science fiction writers John Brunner and Walt and
> Leigh Richmond. Described well enough that the terms worm and virus come
> directly from that source. So you might as well blame Gene Roddenberry.

As I said, with a little spin from Redmond..........

Sure, I'll buy that. So let's say that 99.95 % of the lost billions (and yes it is in the billions) relate to MS viruses/worms and UNIX has had two that propagated to any noticable degree. My point is that people completely excuse this and even more interesting, often cover it up as it is embarrassing. Your causes are correct and easy to quantify. Damages come straight out of IT/IS budgets and delay projects that would have been and directly reduce spending on systems/infrastructure. It is a major factor but it is occult.

Not spending is the obvious reason for the tech crunch.

And even if MS had reasonable security, the monopoly scenario is the worst possible case for worm/virus propagation. Even a small percentage of anything but MS would have a major impact on speed and scope of propagation. It would be cost effective to add Linux boxes to the mix simply for that reason if you let them sit idle, doing your services on them would drastically reduce the
problem..

I do blame it on Microsoft. They know exactly what the environment is like and have ignored it and the protests of their customars for years. Hackers and virii are a fact of life you have to deal with.

> No, you keep dodging the bullet, Curt. The bullet is that the entire
> technology and applied technology industry needs to make a market for what
> we have to sell. We have engulfed the early adopters but have failed to
> cross the chasm. People are discovering that they don't need a faster
> computer at home, and that they aren't seeing the productivity gains in the
> factory, or in the office to permit amortization of the cost of installing
> even more factory automation and enterprise integration over any reasonable
> time base.

Yes, we need less costly, easier to integrate systems that don't obsolete the customers existing investment. Where are those most likely to come from? The current extortion of out of control license costs and compliance blackmail does not strike me as helpful to anyone but Microsoft, although by most accounts it has greatly increased the interest in Linux. You are
expanding your market by widening the scope. I am attacking the basic value equation. I submit that in a bear market, better value get more ears than bigger systems. Microsoft's strategy is just to squeeze more money out of their captive market. It'll be interesting to see which prevails.

It's just like I said Walt, we need to commoditize automation to get more business. It's stagnant at the present value point and large scale efforts are going to be deferred.

> In the factory space, mostly, that's a failure of communication on our
> parts. We have been more interested in the next new thing, and which
> software does what, than we've been in understanding business processes and
> analyzing what systems will actually produce revenue enhancements and
> productivity gains.

You operate in a different world Walt. In my world, my customers aren't at the point where they have their processes sufficiently refined and
optimised to gain from top to bottom integration. I would be interested in who you are selling that stuff to. To sell more to exixting customers
something has to change. My formula is to keep services and reduce HW and SW costs to the minimum.

Regards

cww

Interspersed with major snippage, at @@@@

> -----Original Message-----
> From: The Automation mailing list, managed by Control.com Inc.
> [mailto:AUTOMATION@MIND.CTC-CONTROL.COM]On Behalf Of Curt Wuollet
>
> Hi Walt
> Success rates for these major projects are below 50%. I suspect the
> platform chosen is a major cause. Just my opinion as a consultant who
> gets pleas to come and straighten out failed projects. Most of them
> were doomed from the start due to scalability/capacity planning or
> insufficient customer comittment. I couldn't agree more that it's
> oversold and it's consistantly MSP's who are guilty of selling
> something they can't build. I won't touch anything that's not on
> UNIX. They don't sell anywhere near as many systems but they work
> much more often. I'd say better than 80%. It isn't just UNIX vs MS,
> UNIX vars seem to know more about large projects.

No, Curt, the issues aren't platform dependent. The issues aren't mostly even TECHNOLOGY dependent. The failure of many enterprise integration, SCM and MES projects are closely tied to exactly what you said: poor planning
and specifying at the front end.

You may find that *nix works better. The data, however, appear to indicate that it is a toss.

It may be that Unix VARs know more about large projects, but I know some Windows VARs who have done some pretty large ones too.

>
> > Will the market support an integrator on every corner? No.
> Will the market
> > support integrators who are careful, organized, have strategic
> capabilities,
> > and plan their integrations to deliver what the customer really
> wants, even
> > if the customer can't articulate the actual need? Yes, and they will get
> > wealthy.
> >
> > What about security? *nix has holes, too. Remember, the
> original worm was
> > a Unix worm. The original virus was released in a Unix network.
> > Self-replicating programs date from before Arpanet. Most of
> the *nix holes
> > ported to Linux too. Yes, Microsoft has more holes, especially
> in macros
> > and macroviruses, that are more easily available to the less experienced
> > cracker. But you cannot blame the entire IT security issue on
> Windows. You
> > might as well blame it on science fiction. Just as the needle-less
> > hypodermic exists because a young person saw Dr. McCoy "using"
> one on Star
> > Trek, the entire suite of worms, viruses and bots were described in the
> > 1960s and early 1970s by science fiction writers John Brunner
> and Walt and
> > Leigh Richmond. Described well enough that the terms worm and
> virus come
> > directly from that source. So you might as well blame Gene Roddenberry.
>
> As I said, with a little spin from Redmond..........

Bullship, Curt. The Richmonds wrote in the early 1960s, and _Shockwave Rider_ was written in the early 1970s....long before Bill Gates got out of
high school.

The first virus I know about propagated through the DOD net in the early 1960s. I knew the programmer who claimed to have written it. Microsoft wasn't even thought of then.

> Sure, I'll buy that. So let's say that 99.95 % of the lost
> billions (and yes
> it is in the billions) relate to MS viruses/worms and UNIX has
> had two that
> propagated to any noticable degree. My point is that people
> completely excuse
> this and even more interesting, often cover it up as it is embarrassing.

How can you sit there with a straight face and claim that there have been only two Unix viruses or worms? If you are going to descend to such
nonsense, I won't even discuss things with you. Do you hate Gates that much?

Hell, there have been more than two Macintosh viruses. And Macintoshes aren't supposed to get viruses.

> Your causes are correct and easy to quantify. Damages come straight out of
> IT/IS budgets and delay projects that would have been and directly reduce
> spending on systems/infrastructure. It is a major factor but it is occult.
>
> Not spending is the obvious reason for the tech crunch.

You continue to miss the point. I can only conclude that you are missing it on purpose. The point is that the _value_ isn't there. If there was value in all the IT endeavors on the factory floor, real, quantifiable value, every manufacturer in the known Universe would be doing all the MES, ERP and SCM projects they could squeeze out of a nickel. They aren't. Why not? It ain't Microsoft, and it ain't the cost of security. It is the fact that we have come to the end of the obvious gains in productivity by integrating the manufacturing enterprise. We need to figure out new ways of organizing
manufacturing. Just making the data visible is no longer a guarantee that it will result in cost savings enought to justify the project.

<more Microsoft trashing snipped>
>
> > No, you keep dodging the bullet, Curt. The bullet is that the entire
> > technology and applied technology industry needs to make a
> market for what
> > we have to sell. We have engulfed the early adopters but have failed to
> > cross the chasm. People are discovering that they don't need a faster
> > computer at home, and that they aren't seeing the productivity
> gains in the
> > factory, or in the office to permit amortization of the cost of
> installing
> > even more factory automation and enterprise integration over
> any reasonable
> > time base.
>
> Yes, we need less costly, easier to integrate systems that don't obsolete
> the customers existing investment. Where are those most likely to
> come from?
> The current extortion of out of control license costs and compliance
> blackmail does not strike me as helpful to anyone but Microsoft, although
> by most accounts it has greatly increased the interest in Linux. You are
> expanding your market by widening the scope. I am attacking the basic
> value equation. I submit that in a bear market, better value get more
> ears than bigger systems. Microsoft's strategy is just to squeeze more
> money out of their captive market. It'll be interesting to see which
> prevails.
>
> It's just like I said Walt, we need to commoditize automation to get
> more business. It's stagnant at the present value point and large scale
> efforts are going to be deferred.

Well, no, that's what _I_ said, but I'm glad you agree.

>
> > In the factory space, mostly, that's a failure of communication on our
> > parts. We have been more interested in the next new thing, and which
> > software does what, than we've been in understanding business
> processes and
> > analyzing what systems will actually produce revenue enhancements and
> > productivity gains.
>
> You operate in a different world Walt. In my world, my customers aren't at
> the point where they have their processes sufficiently refined and
> optimised to gain from top to bottom integration. I would be interested
> in who you are selling that stuff to. To sell more to exixting customers
> something has to change. My formula is to keep services and reduce HW and
> SW costs to the minimum.


Dammit, Curt, at least read what I say, before trashing me. You just reiterated my point. Most manufacturers don't understand their non-shop-floor manufacturing processes well enough to know how to integrate them.

Until they do figure it out, you can sell all you want at the plant floor level, but beyond that, who knows?

Walt Boyes
co-author of "e-Business in Manufacturing: Putting the Internet
to Work in the Industrial Enterprise" ISA Press--September 2001 ISBN:
1-55617-758-5
____________________________________________
---------------------------------------------
Walt Boyes -- MarketingPractice Consultants
walt@waltboyes.com
21118 SE 278th Place - Maple Valley, WA 98038
253-709-5046 cell 425-432-8262 home office
fax:801-749-7142 ICQ: 59435534

"Strategic marketing, sales and electronic
business consulting for the small and medium-sized
enterprise: http://www.waltboyes.com"
---------------------------------------------

By Michael Griffin on 24 September, 2001 - 10:43 am

At 13:20 04/09/01 -0700, Walt Boyes wrote:
<clip>
>You continue to miss the point. I can only conclude that you are missing it
>on purpose. The point is that the _value_ isn't there. If there was value
>in all the IT endeavors on the factory floor, real, quantifiable value,
>every manufacturer in the known Universe would be doing all the MES, ERP and
>SCM projects they could squeeze out of a nickel. They aren't. Why not? It
>ain't Microsoft, and it ain't the cost of security. It is the fact that we
>have come to the end of the obvious gains in productivity by integrating the
>manufacturing enterprise. We need to figure out new ways of organizing
>manufacturing. Just making the data visible is no longer a guarantee that
>it will result in cost savings enought to justify the project.
<clip>
>Most manufacturers don't understand their non-shop-floor
>manufacturing processes well enough to know how to integrate them.
>
>Until they do figure it out, you can sell all you want at the plant floor
>level, but beyond that, who knows?
<clip>

This is really another subject other than Dot Net, but not really any further off track than most of the replies so far.

I think that the situation is a bit more complicated than your message would indicate. I see the problems as follows:

1) Until recently it has been very difficult or impossible to connect most production machinery to anything. Proprietary networks still make it far from easy.
2) Most plants did not have a reliable office network system to connect to. If the data wasn't available to everyone, it was of limited use.
3) Standard application software which can make use of the data is only now starting to appear. Most previous applications were custom software which were very expensive to create and maintain.
4) People haven't realised what was possible.

I believe that integration of the office to the plant floor will come, but it will be directed from the office level down, rather than from the plant level up. The reason for this isn't need or technology, but rather accounting. If someone from the plant wants to spend any money, they must show a direct cost saving. If someone from the finance department wants to do something, they just demand it and bury the cost in someone else's budget.

Whether any of the above involves Windows or Linux, is of course another question altogether.


**********************
Michael Griffin
London, Ont. Canada
**********************


Michael Griffin wrote ........

<snip>
>The reason for this isn't need or technology, but rather
>accounting. If someone from the plant wants to spend any money, they must
>show a direct cost saving. If someone from the finance department wants to
>do something, they just demand it and bury the cost in someone else's
budget.
</snip>


EXACTLY !!!

The last half dozen projects I've done have been controlled by the accounting department. If you can convince bean-counters that a new system
will save them money they'll insist the technical staff install it.

Us techies hate to admit it, but bean-counters rule the world !!

Mark Hill

By Vladimir E. Zyubin on 26 September, 2001 - 9:57 am

Hello Mark,

Yes. Profit culculation is the only one right way to make decision. But a problem exists. The vendors can convince beat-counters to make wrong
decision... for example, http://www.plantweb.com/ (TestPlantWeb link, the means of persuation)...

Another argument of persuation could be the appeal to the fear to be off mainstream.

At that there are researchs that show: the total computerisation doesn't save money in real life at all...


--
Best regards,
Vladimir mailto:zyubin@iae.nsk.su

> 1) Until recently it has been very difficult or impossible to
> connect most production machinery to anything. Proprietary networks still
> make it far from easy.
> 2) Most plants did not have a reliable office network system to
> connect to. If the data wasn't available to everyone, it was of limited use.
> 3) Standard application software which can make use of the data is
> only now starting to appear. Most previous applications were custom software
> which were very expensive to create and maintain.
> 4) People haven't realised what was possible.


I think the assumption is that raw data is of some benefit to someone somewhere. I sort of doubt it. Unless it is in a useful format. Most
people are not in a position to spend a lot of time trying to organize raw data into a useful form.

Bob Peterson

By Michael Griffin on 30 September, 2001 - 1:58 pm

Data is not information. This is why I mentioned that "standard application software which can make use of the data is only now starting to appear".
A lot of projects have foundered on the assumption that getting data into a database was the object of the exercise, when in fact getting the data out of the database and analysed into useful information was the difficult part.


**********************
Michael Griffin
London, Ont. Canada
**********************

By Joe Jansen/ENGR/HQ/KEMET/US on 26 September, 2001 - 9:53 am

I agree completely. It is all about value. Return On Investment. So if the manufacturer, who you appear to say doesn't know what they are doing, can get a 5% increase in efficiency for the cost of $500,000 are they going to do it? Probably not.....

If the same mis-understanding manufacturer can get the same 5% increase in efficiency for $150,000 would that increase or decrease his chance of investing?

Walt, I think you are promoting larger scale projects to increase the size of the return, and spreading the higher cost of the investment across the larger return in efficiency. Of course, this is a perfectly valid method of doing it.

Curt, on the other hand, appears to be working the other side ofthe equation, by bringing the cost down, he can justify investment in smaller
return projects by decreasing the cost of the investment.

I would be cautious, however, stating that manufacturers don't understand their business outside of making parts. Telling the customer that they don't know what they are doing rarely seems to work out in a beneficial manner.

Maybe _I_ also don't understand, but I took your point as saying that small projects are dead, and that the only market space available was for MES and ERP scale projects. I can't agree with that, tho. MES and ERP are dismal failures because they have been oversold, and are so disgustingly
overpriced for what you get. Monolithic software should be killed. A plant I worked at had the PHB's convinced by a salesman that they should
invest in ERP. Last I heard, they had topped the $2 million mark, and were still going at the rate of $250 / hour for the programmer to make
modifications to the base system in a proprietary language. I can not use words strong enough to tell you what absolute garbage that is! This was a plant that employed just over 100 people total. ERP has added no value to them whatsoever, and is a total money sinkhole. (Incidentally, the ERP systems guys told them that it would work better on a unix server, but they instead opted for a Windows NT cluster. NT's clustering is even more hilarious. Apparently, hot failover is defined as occuring within 60 seconds. Typical failover times ran about 45 seconds, but disconnected some of the services anyway.)

Lastly, I didn't read any of Curt's post as "trashing" you, Walt. I cannot say that the opposite is true, tho. Your replies did seem to take on a rather personal tone. I think you do operate in a different world than those that are on the shop floor making the incremental improvements that _every_ plant needs.

I think it is benificial to everyone to pick up a set of wrenches and go get dirty for a few weeks a year, minimum. The only way you keep in touch
with what is happening on the floor is if you are out there. I make a point of having detailed discussions with every operator on my machines _at
least_ weekly. Not their supervisor, not the plant manager. Even if it means a special trip to that facility to do so. And even tho I am the
"software guy" for those machines, I make sure that I get time out there replacing a gear box, pulling cables, or whatever occaisionally so that I don't lose touch. I get more information about what nuances the machines have, and what simple changes could be made to make the operators life
easier while I'm out there working than I will ever get out of a prduction meeting. Stuff like: If that button were on this screen instead of that one, I could save time setting up a batch. It's a 2 minute fix, but would never be brought up in a meeting.

I would challenge anyone on this list: When was the last time you had a substantive discussion with an operator? How about during a system design? My experience has been that the guy doing the job for 10 years know the machine and processes far better than the engineering manager that is going to try to tell you how it works.

<End Soap Box>

--Joe Jansen

Curt:
> I do blame it on Microsoft. They know exactly what the environment is
> like and have ignored it and the protests of their customars for years.
> Hackers and virii are a fact of life you have to deal with.

I don't blame Code Red on Microsoft. That's an oversight - perhaps it shouldn't have happened, perhaps it should have been caught in testing and
QA, but it's the kind of oversight that can and does happen to anybody.

I do blame them for e-mail worms though. Scriptability of e-mail was a bad idea to begin with, but their response to it was and still is even worse. The following events happened more a year apart:

- Melissa - does no damage (apart from that incidental to its spread)

- LoveBug - deletes non-important files (pictures, music)

- SirCam - forwards documents at random

A *year* between them. And they did nothing.


Jiri
--
Jiri Baum <jiri@baum.com.au>
http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jirib
visit the MAT LinuxPLC project at http://mat.sf.net

cww,

I ABSOLUTELY AGREE !!

Even though I'm a MSAE and a long term Beta Tester, there's no way I'd place my financial information on their servers.

However, I'm supporting their Passport technology, not Wallet.

Mark

Hailstorm and Passport are Microsoft services built with .NET. You can build your own services with .NET, so that people's personal information and credit card numbers and whatnot are all sent to you, as opposed to Microsoft.

I'm just pointing out that you can divorce the .NET technology from the .NET services that Microsoft will be providing.

From the Mono FAQ -- this needs to be posted because I don't think anyone here actually understands what .NET is.

----- BEGIN CUT & PASTE FROM http://www.go-mono.com/faq.html
Question 1: Is Mono the same as Microsoft's .NET initiative?

It is not.

.NET is a company-wide initiative at Microsoft that encompasses many
different areas. The .NET development framework, Passport, Biztalk, new
server products, and anything that is remotely connected to .NET gets the
".NET-stamping" treatment. Some components of Microsoft's .NET initiative
have been announced and some others are in the works.

Mono is a project to implement several technologies developed by Microsoft
that have now been submitted to the ECMA Standards Body.

Question 17: If applications use Mono, does that mean that I have to pay a
service fee?

No. Mono is not related to Microsoft's initiative of software-as-a-service.

Question 18: If you implement .NET, will I depend on Microsoft Passport to
run my software?

No. The .NET Framework is a runtime infrastructure and collection of class
libraries. Passport may be required to access certain web services written
for that framework, but only if the programmer chooses Passport as the
authentication mechanism.

------ END CUT & PASTE

Now, once Mono gets going, guess what? It becomes a no-brainer to port apps from Windows to Linux (and vice-versa). If you want to use Passport authentication, you could. This isn't an open and shut case for Microsoft here.

Alex Pavloff
Software Engineer
Eason Technology


By vlellescas on 28 August, 2001 - 1:08 pm

There are those who are technically locked-in to Microsoft and there those who innovate.
Vic Ellescas
Sverdrup Technology
Windows are closed...Linux opens the future

By Frank Iwanitz on 3 September, 2001 - 2:21 pm

Hi,
I think there are a lot of people that try to make good products for customers. By making this they use technology which fits best. The goal is to make money by selling good products and not to use or not to use Microsoft over Linux (which one ;-)) or vice versa.
Regards,
Frank

By Greg Goodman on 18 September, 2001 - 2:17 pm

My take on this:

I agree that there are a lot of people who try to make good products for their customers.

However - and ignoring completely the issue of whether one chooses to make good products using Microsoft or Linux - I don't believe that business people are in business to make good
products. They're in business to make money. They may believe that making good products is good for their business, but that's the means,
not the end. If you can convince them that their ends would be better met (improved sales, profits, market share, etc) by embracing different
means (producing lower-quality products), they usually do exactly that.

The measure of success in business is the bottom line. Measuring success in other terms, such as quality of work, or advancement of the state of the art, or personal satisfaction, makes it a hobby, or an avocation, or a passion. It is possible to make money pursuing a passion for quality - I do, and I know others who do as well - but I do not believe that this is the governing principle behind the operation of large businesses, and certainly not for the multinational corporations that dominate the software and industrial controls hardware markets. When there is a tradeoff between quality and profitability, the economic (and socio/political) system in which we operate motivates decision-makers in the direction of profitability, and it motivates them more strongly the greater number of people they have to answer to.

My two cents,

Greg Goodman
Chiron Consulting

This is a spurious argument.

In the first place, the definition of a "good product" is provided by its acceptance in the marketplace. It is common for people, especially
engineers, to site the Betamax as the epitome of a "good product" done wrong. However, the fact remains that nobody bought it, and VHS was
successful in the marketplace.

Companies understand the "Law of Good Enough" or they either die or don't grow. Companies who spend massive amounts of NRE trying to make their
products perfect lose out to companies who provide products people will buy.

The proof is in the marketplace.

This is liable to again be proven in the automation market shortly. Profibus is an inferior bus when compared to Foundation Fieldbus, yet is winning in the marketplace. Industrial ethernet is inferior to both, yet will be the final winner because of the push to the extended enterprise.

No company deliberately makes either bad products or products that are deliberately dumbed down from what they could be.

Walt Boyes
co-author of "e-Business in Manufacturing: Putting the Internet
to Work in the Industrial Enterprise" ISA Press--September 2001 ISBN:
1-55617-758-5
____________________________________________
---------------------------------------------
Walt Boyes -- MarketingPractice Consultants
walt@waltboyes.com
21118 SE 278th Place - Maple Valley, WA 98038
253-709-5046 cell 425-432-8262 home office
fax:801-749-7142 ICQ: 59435534

"Strategic marketing, sales and electronic
business consulting for the small and medium-sized
enterprise: http://www.waltboyes.com"
---------------------------------------------

By Vladimir E. Zyubin on 24 September, 2001 - 11:14 am

Hello List,

On Tuesday, September 04, 2001, 8:17:07 PM, Walt Boyes wrote:

LM> This is a spurious argument.

LM> In the first place, the definition of a "good product" is provided by its
LM> acceptance in the marketplace.
[...]

This definition is not good enough. The narcotics are accepted in the marketplace as well...
So, "good product" from the marketplace viewpoint can be a "bad product" from the technical|moral|social viewpoints... Easily.

Mr.Goodman's statement is extremely clear: MS's success in the marketplace is a result of the aggressive and cinical policy to achieve this dominance. The means had, have and will have no value.

LM> No company deliberately makes either bad products or products that are
LM> deliberately dumbed down from what they could be.

But there is a lot of companies that just don't make good products... :-) To make bad products is not so hard to use the word "deliberately".
It is not time/money consuming activity. :-)

Paradox, but there is a lot of companies that make bad products (from technical viewpoint)... products that are "marketappeal"... plus a number of people uses MS product just because of the mainstream|monopoly.

Really, IMO, the first MS's "good product" will lead to death of MS.
And IMO, MS do realise it.
And IMO, the main problem MS solves is to find a way to force users to buy new versions of the MS OSes. And maniacal passion for the new names is one of the evidences.

BTW, what does abbriviation "XP" stand for?

--
Best regards,
Vladimir mailto:zyubin@iae.nsk.su

No, you are absolutely incorrect. Your example of illegal drugs is specious and does not pertain to the discussion. I was not using "good" in its moral sense. I was using "good" in its sense of "suitable to the service."

This is as true as gravity: a product is "good" if a large percentage of the target population buys it and uses it for its intended service.

There is no other definition of "good" that works in product development.

There are a lot of people who refuse to believe this. Most of them do not do well.

Putting too many features on a product will usually destroy it. Most engineers do not want to believe that.

A pretty face plate on a product that is 80% as good as the one that is ugly but better: the pretty product will outsell the ugly one.

And every person that buys it will tell you he or she is making a rigorously logical purchasing decision based on the requirements and the
specifications.

What rot.

The key to good product development is to determine as closely as you can what features and what functions the target customer base needs _and knows it needs_ and provide a product with just those features and functions.

Once in a while, somebody will "rare back and th'ow" a product that meets customer needs _that they don't know they need_. These are so rare that they are almost always written up as breakthrough products.

The "law of good enough" stands.

Walt Boyes

---------------------------------------------
Walt Boyes -- MarketingPractice Consultants
walt@waltboyes.com
21118 SE 278th Place - Maple Valley, WA 98038
253-709-5046 cell 425-432-8262 home office
fax:801-749-7142 ICQ: 59435534

"Strategic marketing, sales and electronic
business consulting for the small and medium-sized
enterprise: http://www.waltboyes.com"
---------------------------------------------

By Anthony Kerstens on 26 September, 2001 - 10:23 am

Add to the law of good enough the corollary of the recognizable.

How many of us buy a particular product because we've used it for years without even questioning it's competativeness.

For example, my mother uses Sunlight laundry detergent and refuses to believe that there is any better. She doesn't even look at other products.

So, people will buy into .Net (initially) just because MS _has_ been good enough for _their_ purposes for so long.

And there are people who will shun it just because MS has _not_ been good enough for _their_ purposes for so long.

Anthony Kerstens P.Eng.

By Curt Wuollet on 30 September, 2001 - 2:09 pm

I guess the thing that bothers me most is that almost everybody will get into .NET before anybody has a real sense of where it's going. Face it, if you do business with MS from this day forward you will be involved with .NET because it's built in to WXP. And like all things MS, once you get in, it's nearly impossible to get out
without major disruption and possibly the loss of your .NET data. This means that not paying your "subscription" will likely have very unpleasant consequences. This strikes me as a really bad deal and not very much like a competitive landscape. Sort of Hyper Lock-in. And
if you do decide to opt out (fat chance), you will
likely be excluded from many necessary functions. Just as Linux users can't make good use of many sites now. This doesn't seem to bother anyone. This just seems really whacked out and one-sided in what's supposed to be a free market economy.
Abusing a monopoly? Smells a lot like it. Competing? Yeah, Right. This sounds like the end of feasible competition. No protest? What choice do you have? Now. some. Later, none.

Regards

cww

By Blunier, Mark on 26 September, 2001 - 3:10 pm

> This is as true as gravity: a product is "good" if a large
> percentage of the
> target population buys it and uses it for its intended service.
>
> There is no other definition of "good" that works in product development.
>
> A pretty face plate on a product that is 80% as good as the
> one that is ugly
> but better: the pretty product will outsell the ugly one.

Hmm. product Ugly has U market share. Product Pretty has 0.80*U market share, yet your stated definition of good implies that a the product with more market share is the better product, suggesting that 0.8*U > U. Your own example
shows that 'good' is more that just a measure of market share.

Mark Blunier
Any opinions expressed in this message are not necessarily those of the company.

No, you appear to have misread what I said.

I said Product Pretty had _more_ market share than Product Ugly. In some cases I am aware of, it is as much as 300% or 400% more market share.

I said that Product Pretty had 80% _of the features_ of Product Ugly.

I really meant what I implied: that how "good" a product is depends entirely on its "market share."

Walt Boyes

By Johan Bengtsson on 28 September, 2001 - 5:09 pm

Hmmm, that ends up with U < 0, quite a weak market share if I might say so...

I agree with you. If you define good as proportional to market share you can not at the same time define good as something having any connection to tecnical performance and not be very clear that you use two different definitions.

Altogether this is a "good" example since it definitiely shows that there is more than one point to consider about most products. In most cases these will probably be in conflict with each other on one way or another.

BTW, I don't normally measure goodness in marketshare. Marketshare is nothing but marketshare and have nothing to do with goodness unless the marketshare affects the goodness (such
as for example a dating site on internet : higher market share means more people to search among and thereby (probably) a higher success-rate).


/Johan Bengtsson

----------------------------------------
P&L, Innovation in training
Box 252, S-281 23 H{ssleholm SWEDEN
Tel: +46 451 49 460, Fax: +46 451 89 833
E-mail: johan.bengtsson@pol.se
Internet: http://www.pol.se/
----------------------------------------

Walt Boyes:

> I was not using "good" in its moral sense. I was using "good" in its
> sense of "suitable to the service."

No, you're using "good" in the sense of "sells the most", which is a rather limited definition.

> This is as true as gravity: a product is "good" if a large percentage of
> the target population buys it and uses it for its intended service.

> There is no other definition of "good" that works in product development.

How about one or two of the dictionary meanings - "reliable, efficient", as in "good brakes" or "having the right or desired qualities; satisfactory, adequate"?

If you need an economic justification, selling mediocre products damages goodwill. Difficult to put figures on, but real.

> A pretty face plate on a product that is 80% as good as the one that is
> ugly but better: the pretty product will outsell the ugly one.

As has been pointed out, here you're using `good' in a different meaning, one which you claim doesn't exist.


Jiri
--
Jiri Baum <jiri@baum.com.au>
http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jirib
visit the MAT LinuxPLC project at http://mat.sf.net


By Tom Tuddenham on 30 August, 2001 - 5:28 pm

I don't think .NET is a particularly scary ogre. There are some great ideas coming out of .NET that J2EE (or other solutions) has to catch up
on. Even if much of .NET is vapourware, is still sets a benchmark we can aspire to.

For my part, I'm looking forward to the XML-OPC spec when it's finally delivered to the general public. In my job I have to think about how to integrate plantfloor and business systems and anything that promotes the XML "glue" technology is a good thing from where I stand.

Cheers
Tom

By Michael Griffin on 24 September, 2001 - 10:33 am

So far "Microsoft .Net's impact to Automation Industry" seems mainly to be to increase the volume of e-mail I have been receiving (approximately 120 messages so far). However, I think it is still a worth while subject if we would actually discuss it. So, let's consider Dot Net's impact on the automation industry.

There have been a few comments on Dot Net as it exists today. However, Dot Net is still in its early stages so far. What would be more
interesting is to discover how (or whether) it will affect this industry when it exists in a more developed form.
As someone previously mentioned, something that doesn't generate sales is a hobby, and I don't think Microsoft is planning on Dot Net being a hobby. They intend it to generate a very significant cash flow for them and they intend it to be the centre of their business.

Dot Net isn't about whatever toolkits or specifications anyone may have seen publicly released so far. It's about Microsoft finding ways to generate more revenue from services and less from software sales. It's better thought of as a goal or a direction rather than a product or tool kit.

Given the above, I would venture that in the long run it will look something like this:

1) I think we can expect frequent (at least once a year) "major" revisions to Windows which incorporate Dot Net features as they are developed.
2) Microsoft will likely use their usual strong-arm tactics to get their "clients" (in the feudal sense) to provide demonstration systems the
public can see and try. The direction Dot Net evolves in will be based on feed back from these experiments.
3) Windows itself will probably evolve in a direction which *requires* continuous reliable internet access. This wouldn't likely be a
stated explicit design criteria, but rather an implicit assumption behind many features. The internet services are what will generate the real cash flow so these must be promoted via Windows.
4) The desk top version of Windows will evolve even more in the direction of obscuring what is happening behind the scenes when it does
something. This will let Microsoft change the "plumbing" in Dot Net at will, as these details will be undocumented.
5) You won't buy Windows or most other Microsoft software anymore, you'll rent it on a monthly or annual basis. If you don't pay the regular fee, your computer won't run any more.
6) Microsoft will build more and more "features" into Windows which used to be stand alone applications. The dividing lines between operating system, applications, and internet services will become blurred and
obscured. The idea will be that you pay one very large regular fee for Windows, and everything else you would ever need comes "free" (sort of).
7) Desktop system design will become more centred around the idea that someone is interacting directly with the computer and is able to make decisions on what should be automatically installed on the computer. These
decisions won't really amount to much, as you won't really have much choice if you want your computer to keep working properly.
8) You won't really buy a "computer" anymore. Instead you'll buy a "transaction processing service", or an "office productivity service", or an "entertainment and electronic shopping service". Whatever you do with a
computer will have to somehow fit into one of the established pigeon holes. The actual hardware may be given away as a loss leader.
9) Microsoft will license sub-distributors to provide the direct service to the consumers. There won't be any direct service contact with Microsoft, although they may reserve the most lucrative market segments for companies in which they own a controlling interest. These service sub-distributors may be at least partly based on exclusive regions or territories. These may in some cases be divided along industry lines, rather than geographic lines. You will have to register with one of these sub-distributors before your computer will work.

Now, given the above, how would the automation industry be affected? I would guess that:
a) The normal desktop version of Windows may become unsuitable for most automation use.
b) Microsoft may come out with a new version of Windows to fill the void which the existing ones left behind as they evolved down the Dot Net path. Or they may not.
c) Windows CE and Windows NT Embedded may be abandoned, or allowed to die a slow death if they don't fit into the Dot Net strategy. Microsoft may come out with several replacements which are more narrowly targetted at certain major markets (cell phones, PDAs, etc.).
d) If your application makes use of any of the Dot Net services, the service sub-distributor system may be the source of many problems. Each service sub-distributor will be slightly different, so you will have to test
the product with the one your actual customer uses. There will be fees for everything and endless complaints on this list about those fees.
e) Any discussions about Windows versus Linux will become moot, because Windows will no longer exist as a product which you can go out and
buy. Instead it will be part of a "service" bundle.

Does anyone see anything wrong with the above scenario? It isn't intended as a prediction of how things necessarily *will* happen. It is
however a reasonable and self consistent description of how things *could* happen.
I suppose the point is to imagine a near future in which the computing enviroment is as different from today, as today is from the early
days of the mainframes.


**********************
Michael Griffin
London, Ont. Canada
**********************

Hi Micheal

That is as close I think, as we can come from published and leaked sources. Put the web under the hood, weld it shut, and bill frequently.
I wonder what will happen to those who don't buy in. Will we have all but 20% of the web off-limits to us? Or, will they find a way to bill us too?

I think this is a wonderful idea ( obligatory Not Bashing MS line )

Regards

cww

--
Free Tools!
Machine Automation Tools (LinuxPLC) Free, Truly Open & Publicly Owned
Industrial Automation Software For Linux. mat.sourceforge.net.
Day Job: Heartland Engineering, Automation & ATE for Automotive Rebuilders.
Consultancy: Wide Open Technologies: Moving Business & Automation to Linux.

By Michael Griffin on 25 September, 2001 - 3:02 pm

At 13:00 05/09/01 -0500, Curt Wuollet wrote:
<clip>
>That is as close I think, as we can come from published and leaked sources.
>Put the web under the hood, weld it shut, and bill frequently.
>I wonder what will happen to those who don't buy in. Will we have all but
>20% of the web off-limits to us? Or, will they find a way to bill us too?
<clip>

Dot Net may or may not turn out the way Microsoft (and others) currently envision it. Remember that Microsoft's attempt a few years ago to replace the internet with their own proprietary network was a complete flop. Nobody wanted it and Microsoft had to abandon the whole idea.

However, let us assume for the moment that Dot Net *is* accepted and *is* successful in the business and home market. How will this affect
automation? There are four possible channels this effect could operate through.

1) Windows may change in such a manner as to become unsuitable for use in soft logic systems. We will assume for the purposes of this
discussion that it suitable in at least some applications today.
2) Windows may change in such a manner as to become either better or worse for use in large scale MMI systems.
3) Some specialised versions of Windows such as Windows CE (which is used in some OEM products) may not fit the Dot Net model and be terminated, or simply cease to have any development effort applied to it as a "non-core"
product.
4) The programming, CAD, and other similar software used in creating and maintaining machines may be delivered or paid for in a different manner than today. This may be good or bad. This is really an indirect effect on the Automation Industry, but it deserves consideration.

The question then becomes what could cause each of the above to occur, and how likely each of these is.

**********************
Michael Griffin
London, Ont. Canada
**********************

By Ranjan Acharya on 25 September, 2001 - 10:11 am

I think that Mr. Griffin has "hit the nail on the head" with his analysis. The point of any plant-floor addition beyond basic machine control is often extremely difficult to justify on a capital cost basis.

We have had many customers extremely impressed with packages that, for example, play "how to" videos for maintenance and troubleshooting purposes. They never get the money from their higher-ups since the cost savings are difficult to justify (even though they are there) or over a too long duration of time. Many customers, especially right now, are pressured with
very short payback times for any capital project that cannot be met with some beyond-basic-automation projects.

On the other hand, when orders appear from on high for an ERP System, Mr. Griffin's point falls into place and the money magically appears.

It just does not matter if the bells and whistles are using embedded Linux, Linux, Windows, Unix, BSD or OS X for that matter. As long as they work
(the point with .NET is that many whistles just will not work or blue screen after two weeks for no apparent reason).

I am more concerned with locking horns with IT types than if the packages are from Microsoft or a collection of Open Source programmers -- they hold the reins of these projects which can be quite a shock when the automation types are used to being top dog. The different approaches to factory automation from IT to field level can be quite interesting and the discussions quite refreshing. As an aside, the IT types need to know that PLC automation cannot be made with a wave of the magic wand -- please put some money in your budget for the PLC and SCADA side of things! Also, don't forget that it requires commissioning (and therefore downtime -- more than
fifteen minutes on a shift change would be preferable) and don't forget that if you take your system down without telling someone the whole factory will shut down.

Complex systems have complex problems that can only be solved by multi-disciplinary teams working in co-operation. My colleagues and I enjoy the challenge.

> I think that Mr. Griffin has "hit the nail on the head" with his analysis.
> The point of any plant-floor addition beyond basic machine control is often
> extremely difficult to justify on a capital cost basis.

Often there is no cost justification for such systems, which is why so few people are willing to pay for them.

> We have had many customers extremely impressed with packages that, for
> example, play "how to" videos for maintenance and troubleshooting purposes.
> They never get the money from their higher-ups since the cost savings are
> difficult to justify (even though they are there) or over a too long
> duration of time. Many customers, especially right now, are pressured with
> very short payback times for any capital project that cannot be met with
> some beyond-basic-automation projects.

I have seen a lot of these systems. As far as I am concerned the short little videos are usually of little value and you can rarely hear whats being said so the real value is generally nil in these systems. People who think otherwise generally like bells and whistles and other fluff and are willing to shortchange things of real value to get them. I have actually seen systems where the graphics change color from season to season to simulate snowfall and shadows on the outside equipment from different sun angles. This information is really generally useless but impressive to some.

> On the other hand, when orders appear from on high for an ERP System, Mr.
> Griifin's point falls into place and the money magically appears.
>
> It just does not matter if the bells and whistles are using embedded Linux,
> Linux, Windows, Unix, BSD or OS X for that matter. As long as they work
> (the point with .NET is that many whistles just will not work or blue screen
> after two weeks for no apparent reason).

This problem is getting to be less of a problem with later verisions of MS OS's. NT is gradually being replaced with W2000 which appears to be far less susceptable.

> I am more concerned with locking horns with IT types than if the packages
> are from Microsoft or a collection of Open Source programmers -- they hold
> the reins of these projects which can be quite a shock when the automation
> types are used to being top dog. The different approaches to factory
> automation from IT to field level can be quite interesting and the
> discussions quite refreshing. As an aside, the IT types need to know that
> PLC automation cannot be made with a wave of the magic wand -- please put
> some money in your budget for the PLC and SCADA side of things! Also, don't
> forget that it requires commissioning (and therefore downtime -- more than
> fifteen minutes on a shift change would be preferable) and don't forget that
> if you take your system down without telling someone the whole factory will
> shut down.

This is mostly about power and control. It took them a long time to take over the PC world and they do not wnat to risk losing any control at all.

> Complex systems have complex problems that can only be solved by
> multi-disciplinary teams working in co-operation. My colleagues and I enjoy
> the challenge.


Bob Peterson

By Don Fitchett - Designer of Downtime Central on 27 March, 2002 - 4:08 pm

> > I think that Mr. Griffin has "hit the nail on the head" with his analysis.
> > The point of any plant-floor addition beyond basic machine control is often
> > extremely difficult to justify on a capital cost basis.

Do to the complicity of the manufacturing environment, cost justification has always been a great challenge. This why I designed "downtimecentral.com":http://downtimecentral.com , a free content only source of information for data collection, standardization, cost analysis and cost justification.

By Michael Griffin on 26 September, 2001 - 2:35 pm

I have a little story to tell, which I will relate without mentioning the names of any companies or individuals.

For several years a certain person (Mr. 'X') has been pursuing a "plant integration" project for his company. We'll call this company 'A'. He did various design studies, selected software and hardware, budgeted manhours, wrote reports, etc. All the managers who would benefit from this project were all in favour of it.

Each year it was put in the budget, got approved, and then before the POs could be issued, the money just vanished - and nobody could find out why. It happened at such rarified levels of finance and management that nobody involved in the project could get an answer, but apparently, someone just didn't see the return on investment. This makes it a *bad* idea. Most
people would give up in frustration, but Mr. 'X' is rather stubborn.

A certain very large automation products company whom we all know has established a subsidiary in Toronto to engage in what they call "IT integration". We'll call this company 'B'. They provide consulting services
involving both their products and certain third party software.

It so happens that the head of this IT integration division happens to know the director of company 'A'. He says he would like to show him what they can do. The director of company 'A' tells his managers to arrange a meeting with company 'B' to investigate this terrific idea. This idea has been proposed by company 'B', so obviously this is a *good* idea.

The Mr. 'X' at company 'A' (mentioned at the beginning of this little story) who has been getting nowhere in his efforts received a
telephone call from the third party software company whose application software he has been proposing to use as the centre of his project.

It seems that company 'B' has asked this third party software company to put on a demo for the managers of company 'A', and the person doing the demo would like some information on who these managers are. Mr. 'X' says "Meeting? What meeting?". The third party company replies "Surely
you must know about the meeting - you've been working with us on this for several years now. Besides, who else in your company would understand what we'll be talking about?"

Mr. 'X' assures them that he has never heard if this "IT Integration" division of company 'B', and knows nothing about any upcoming
meeting. However the names they have mentioned are all highly placed directors and managers who can approve the project if they like what they see.

The moral of the story is, that if you are trying to sell "plant integration" to a company, you are wasting your time if you speak to someone who has any idea of what you are talking about. Instead, concentrate on selling to the people who don't have to justify their decisions.

I would like to finish this story by saying how in the end everyone lived happly ever after, but this big meeting won't happen for another couple of weeks yet.

**********************
Michael Griffin
London, Ont. Canada
**********************

Good Luck Michael !!!

I experienced EXACTLY the same scenario.
Fortunately Mr. "X" won out in my case.
Research company "B's" products and services.
During the meeting ask pointed questions you know they can't answer or shows their product in a poor light. Watch them squirm !!
Worked for me.

Mark Hill


By Michael Griffin on 30 September, 2001 - 2:05 pm

Perhaps my letter was a bit long and unclear. Company 'B' is proposing the exact same third party software system that Mr. 'X' had been
proposing all along. Not a similar or equivalent one, the same product from the same company (a small software company specialising in this market). Company 'B' (the big automation components vendor) has simply set up a division to act as an integrator for this (and other software).

This is the irony of the situation. Mr. 'X' proposes something - this is a *bad* idea. Company 'B' proposes the same thing using the same product - call a meeting!

The point of this was to show that these sorts of solutions need to be sold to people who don't have to justify their projects. These sorts of people don't read automation systems magazines. They read the business section in the Globe and Mail. So how do you reach them? Will they even understand what it is you have to offer? Will they be able to see beyond the
normal advertising gibberish to judge whether they can use the product?

**********************
Michael Griffin
London, Ont. Canada
**********************

By Curt Wuollet on 28 September, 2001 - 5:43 pm

This happens all over, several times someone has attempted to hire me to install something they've bought that can't possibly run on their systems. Bad position to be in. And if you want to know how
to get on the IS/IT excrement roster, go around them and sell to management. Runs the success ratio close to zero.

Regards

cww

By Michael Griffin on 7 September, 2001 - 5:07 pm

<clip>
>C# the language is aimed right at Java. It's a COM based (or whatever they
>call COM nowadays) language with that looks like C++, but more closely tied
>to a Microsoft platform. It's easier to make Windows applications with it,
>but don't count on it being useful for anything else (which I why it won't
>replace C++).
<clip>

I believe that I read in the news (CBC) a few weeks ago that Microsoft doesn't intend to include Java support in their future products (including their web browser). The only explanation given was that it was "for business
reasons". They likely will (or may already have) change their mind about this for now because I expect it to go over like a lead balloon with their major customers. It is however an interesting indication of their future intentions with Windows and dot NET.
Has anyone heard anything else about this? I only read about it in one news report and haven't seen anything about it since.


**********************
Michael Griffin
London, Ont. Canada
**********************

By Mathias Lindgren on 27 April, 2002 - 4:20 pm

Hi !

One thing that certinaly will be affected by MS
.NET are the thousands of ActiveX controls that
are produced for various needs in the Industry.

It's more ore less common to have some ActiveX
control in a SCADA system and with VisualStudio.NET the support for ActiveX technology is taken away...

Of course it still exist if you use C++ but the standard will not be enhanced by Microsoft anymore.

And most of the tailor made controls are made in VB and in VB it's gone...

And the COM/DCOM isn't either a .NET technology so i think that most of the OPC applications needs to be rewritten to suit the .NET.
But in that case I'm not so sure...

I might have totally wrong on all above or...

Have a nice day !

Mathias Lindgren From Sweden