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Release for Linux, or why I don't like GPL zealots

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The story started a couple of years ago, where I had a discussion with my boss about the bad quality of IDEs under Linux. We are good friends, so after ranting around for a while, we started to sketch out the basic features of a good Linux based IDE. It was of course heavily influenced by the MS Visual Studio IDE, but we brought in a couple of really neat new ideas. We even started coding a little in our free time, but we didn't go far, due to time constraints. Eventually, the project was forgotten. Until around two weeks ago. When I came back from South America, I met him to discuss some company related affairs. Discussion eventually turned to IDEs and Linux, and he was ranting about Eclipse and the new "release candidate" of CDT he tried, that was supposedly so bug ladden, that it made it totally unusable. Anyway, we came back to speak about our little project back then. And since we both didn't have to much to do over the holidays, we started coding again... So now, we have a functioning prototype. It looks nice, it feels nice, almost like a GTK+ version of MSVC. It's fast, not buggy, and has many interesting features such as support for many different languages and compilers, native support for cross compiling, autocompletion, source code folding, source sensitive help and reference system, support for custom build tools (such as a Cg compiler, for example), remote debugging, and other nice stuff never found in a Linux IDE before. Well, it's just a prototype, so there's not much eye candy, but it basically works. We wanted to release it for free, but it would not be open source (since it uses a ton of inhouse RAD libraries). We thought, no problem, we ask our lawyer to draft a custom license, making it basically free for everything, but you won't get the source. Everything is fine, don't you think ? Well, wrong. We contacted a few Linux groups we knew, since we needed some input, ideas for some a the more complex features, and maybe some help with the eye candy (icons, etc). I can't even describe you the flak we got. "WHAT, no source ?! We don't care if it's free. If there's no source, and if it's not under the GPL, it sucks, and we won't use it" "It doesn't use autotools ? Everything that doesn't work with autotools is crap. It won't even compile on my <insert exotic Unix variant here>" "Yeah, it looks OK, but emacs is sooo much better ! Why don't you use emacs ? See, I cannot even check my email inbox within your IDE, you should fix that" "But, it looks like MSVC ! Microsoft is evil, blah blah blah" Those were the type of response we got. Many of the people we sent our prototype didn't even try it, because they refused to support Linux software that wasn't GPL ! Unbelievable. It's this attitude that scare more commercially oriented developers off. And people still wonder, why there is more quality software on Windows than on Linux. [/rant] So, does anyone in here know a place on the net, where one can present closed source development related Linux software for constructive input, in a somewhat smaller context, without having to fear the Slashdot and GPL mob ? Something like GDNet, but for Linux would be perfect :)

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I didn't know casual linux users existed... If you find this wonderful, fanciful place, let me know.

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Little time now, so I'll be quick.

I know what you mean. I hate that attitude. Let it go, these people don't *choose* to be ignorant, they just are (assuming ignorance isn't entirely subjective since they'd say the same thing about you). Anyway, there are loads of people who appreciate a good tool for what it is.

You should submit a news story with your rant to slashdot. Lately they post anti-GNU stories as long as they're reasonable. I don't know if you should try to pitch your IDE in it though, as it may look like an ad.

Let GDNet take a look at the IDE? I am on Linux now using MinGW and I was just thinking that it's not nearly as good as I want it to be and how I'd love a nicer IDE. I am developing cross platform and using MSVC Express is a blast. I write most linux code in MSVC now, push it over the network to my linux box and compile because I can't stand using a linux tools. There are lots of people here (myself included) that would appreciate your work and would give much constructive criticism.

Will post more tomorrow.

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It's really too bad people are being that way... I suppose I can understand the GPL zealots, what with free and open-source being the Linux mantra nowadays.

That said, why not host it on your own space and post about it say... here? Though this isn't a Linux site per se, I'm sure lots of people here would really appreciate having access to a tool like that (like me [wink]) since I've read several threads here about the lack of quality IDEs for Linux. And it could serve as a nice way to gain support for it before trying to propose it to larger, more Linux-centric groups.

Just a thought (and some wishful thinking).

-Auron

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I'm sad to see you received replies like that. It doesn't do well to the community's image when people with hardly a clue about the real world spout their mouths off like that.

On the other hand, I probably wouldn't use your IDE either. It's significantly the share-and-share-alike philosophy that so permeates Linux et al, and I would much rather see work done to improve something like KDevelop than to create a new system that has little advantages in the majority of applications compared to what's already available, and the disadvantage that, by being closed-source, community involvement is significantly limited compared to some other systems. :/

I know I haven't tried you IDE, I'm just going by what you've posted. I'm sure I could appreciate a good tool. I'd appreciate a good open-source tool, more. But it's entirely your right to keep it closed.

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Personally, I've never been that obsessed with open source. If I download software, I plan to use it, not take it apart and steal it for my own projects which I'll then have to release for free, or change it. I can understand open source as being useful for preventing software from having hidden maliciousnesses, and for some kinds of things that are meant to be changed, but in reality, I tend to prefer software that does stuff for me, not the opposite.

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Quote:

"It doesn't use autotools ? Everything that doesn't work with autotools is crap. It won't even compile on my <insert exotic Unix variant here>"

"Yeah, it looks OK, but emacs is sooo much better ! Why don't you use emacs ? See, I cannot even check my email inbox within your IDE, you should fix that"


I am all for those 2 [smile], I even code with XEmacs and MSYS on Windows, to be entirelly honest the only thing I miss on XEmacs would have to be intelisence, and maybe the ClassView.

I think the issue is that Linux developers are fine with their IDE (command line, autotools, shell scripting), an IDE no matter how cool, would feel like its getting in their way, I think perhaps you went to the wrong crowd, you should have targeted Windows developers moving to Linux, rather than pure Linux devs.

On the bright side, I am sure many MinGW users would surelly like to try a Windows Version [smile]

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Meh. Forget those ignorant GPL zealots. They all spew the same ignorant things from their collective brain (or, perhaps a lack thereof). Personally,I used MinGW while coding on Linux (or just flat out gedit and konsole, but I prefer using an IDE). It's alright, but I'd be interested in trying something else. I hope you decide to give gdnet first dibs at trying it.

Also, I'm not exactly sure if this is what you're looking for, but linux.tucows.com has gpl, freeware, demos, and shareware. They don't seem to care what sort of license you use, they'll host it (sort of like the download.com of linux). I'm not really sure how much input you'll get from that site though.

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Yeah, don't let the GPL zealots discourage you. Like you said, Linux is in dire need of a quality IDE. I'm sure many linux users would quickly get over the fact that your IDE's source is proprietary if they used it.

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One time when I looked at the "Who's Online" tab, it showed nearly 10 Linux users online at once. I'm sure there's at least a handful of linux users on here that aren't GPL-or-nothing. I usually use Windows, but keep a copy of Linux if I need to boot from it.

After personally using KDevelop on Linux, I can say that there were some things that were left to be desired that turned me off from developing on it almost right away (such as a window without an 'x' box on it). Not trying to criticize any Linux tools, but more people are switching from Windows to Linux. If that switch was made easier by applications that looked similar to Windows, I think more people would actually switch.

I would agree with Coffee Mug and recommend that you post it on GDNet to get some constructive criticism. Many people know who you are, so we wouldn't think that you're some kind of person who wants to overthrow the free software community.

Btw, when you mentioned that it has "native support for cross compiling", is that feature implemented right now? And if so, what languages and OS's would that be for? I was just wondering.

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It doesn't help that their leader is so closed minded, and lives in LALA land. I would try out your IDE yan, but my Distro is an old Knoppix Boot CD that I use to play around in KDE, and I don't know how to code anything in Linux. [depressed]

CLICKY

Quote:
Non-Free Software:
JA: What is your reaction to tools such as gcc, gdb and GNU Emacs being used for the development of non-free software?

Richard Stallman: Any development of non-free software is harmful and unfortunate, whether it uses GNU tools or other tools. Whether it is good or bad, in the long term, for the future of computer users' freedom that one can use these tools to develop non-free software is a question whose answer I could only guess at.

JA: How do you react to the opinion that non-free software is justified as a means for raising dollars that can then be put into the development of completely new software, money that otherwise may not have been available, and thus creating software that may have never been developed?

Richard Stallman: This is no justification at all. A non-free program systematically denies the users the freedom to cooperate; it is the basis of an antisocial scheme to dominate people. The program is available lawfully only to those who will surrender their freedom. That's not a contribution to society, it's a social problem. It is better to develop no software than to develop non-free software.

So if you find yourself in that situation, please don't follow that path. Please don't write the non-free program--please do something else instead. We can wait till someone else has the chance to develop a free program to do the same job.

JA: What about the programmers...

Richard Stallman: What about them? The programmers writing non-free software? They are doing something antisocial. They should get some other job.

JA: Such as?

Richard Stallman: There are thousands of different jobs people can have in society without developing non-free software. You can even be a programmer. Most paid programmers are developing custom software--only a small fraction are developing non-free software. The small fraction of proprietary software jobs are not hard to avoid.

JA: What is the distinction there?

Richard Stallman: Non-free software is meant to be distributed to the public. Custom software is meant to be used by one client. There's no ethical problem with custom software as long as you're respecting your client's freedom.

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Some more random thoughts before sleep.

This is of course your project and you're naturally free to do what you wish with it but for god's sakes don't enforce using autotools. Even a handful of GNU zealots recognize that the damned things need to go.

I am using MinGW right now which is a somewhat popular ("somewhat" because it's not too good) free linux IDE that is closed source.

DO NOT underestimate the power of word of mouth. There are very few good products in this area (if any, I am yet to find a good one) and lots of developers are looking for a good tool all the time. Let people know about it and if your IDE is any good it'll explode in popularity.

Aside from posting about it here, Gentoo community is very nice and isn't overly GNUish. Post there in Off The Wall (gentoo forums) and let people take a look. Again, if it's any good your userbase will explode.

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I was going to post it to GDNet anyway, but a little later, when it is actually usable for real world projects. I realize there are quite some Linux developer here, but this is a game developement site after all, so it didn't seem really appropriate to post something about an IDE. OTOH, it's hard to make a game without an IDE (yeah, yeah, I know, vi and xterm...) ;)

Hosting is not the problem, I was just looking for a place with open minded Linux developers - not that easy to find, I guess.

And yes, the IDE is definitely targeted at Windows users wishing to migrate or cross develop on Linux. There are some tools available, but they are either based on old and obsolete Linux concepts such as auto tools (KDevelop, Anjuta), they are minimalist (MingW Developer Studio) or incredible bloat (Eclipse). We tried to find a middle ground, something fast and efficient. Not as powerfull as MSVC, and not as platform independent as Eclipse, but something with all the features a Windows developer would also expect under Linux.

Oh well. I'm going to post a couple of screenshots tomorrow, and an updated alpha version for the weekend, so everybody can test it. I guess testing it with a smaller, yet technically competent crowd is probably better anyway.

Quote:

Btw, when you mentioned that it has "native support for cross compiling", is that feature implemented right now? And if so, what languages and OS's would that be for? I was just wondering.

Yes, it's implemented for a good part. Currently, there is native support for C, C++, ASM, and Python. You can add any language you want with a few clicks on the GUI. The OS support depends on the compiler/linker you use.

Quote:

This is of course your project and you're naturally free to do what you wish with it but for god's sakes don't enforce using autotools.

I hate auto tools :) The IDE was specifically designed with this in mind. It uses a custom make system and dependency tracker for highly efficient internal builds, but can export standard GNU makefiles on request (much like MingW).

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Quote:
Original post by CoffeeMug
This is of course your project and you're naturally free to do what you wish with it but for god's sakes don't enforce using autotools. Even a handful of GNU zealots recognize that the damned things need to go.


Quote:
Original post by Yann L
"It doesn't use autotools ? Everything that doesn't work with autotools is crap. It won't even compile on my <insert exotic Unix variant here>"


Hrm. Well, maybe I missed something but it sounds like Yann's IDE will not use autotools.

Edit: A bit too late.

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After (a while ago) working in a company full of linux GPL weenies for a year and a half, I feel your pain. Every time I said 'hey look at this cool new thing I did' their response was either (a) give me the source, you have no right to keep it to yourself, or (b) why isn't it under GPL (ie. basically (a)). This kind of thing put me off linux development pretty much permanently... well, that and the lack of standardisation. Write once, and you can run on pretty much any windows from 98 onwards, unless you use some arcane libs (or .net, in which case you've still got a 90% chance of any random computer being able to run it).

I have no problem with the GPL as such, just with the Stallmanettes who insist they have the 'right' to everything I create.

While I'm ranting about linux - the reason I don't use it as my desktop OS at home is that my computer exists to let me do things - play games, write code, browse the intarweb. It's not the goal in and of itself, and as such it should consume as little as possible of my time and energy, which could otherwise be spent doing fun and constructive things.

[edit in response to Vampyre_Dark's post (warning: contains nonpositive opinion of Richard Stallman): Evpuneq Fgnyyzna vf n shpxva vqvbg naq arrqf gb fcraq fbzr gvzr ba gur qbyr, be jbexvat nf n Onatynqrfuv crnfnag, orsber fnlvat 'ab fbsgjner vf orggre guna abaserr fbsgjner'.]

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Quote:
Original post by Doc
On the other hand, I probably wouldn't use your IDE either. It's significantly the share-and-share-alike philosophy that so permeates Linux et al, and I would much rather see work done to improve something like KDevelop than to create a new system that has little advantages in the majority of applications compared to what's already available, and the disadvantage that, by being closed-source, community involvement is significantly limited compared to some other systems. :/
It's a prototype. It's quite possible that Yann and his boss are not in the least bit averse to OSI-approved licenses, but just don't have to time to make it conformant with one right now, and figure that getting actual user feedback is more important (I know, I know, shocking that using software could ever be considered more important than deliberating over its innards). For all we know, with support and good feedback, they could gradually move it toward an open source release by eliminating the proprietary dependencies, but that's not likely to happen if nobody gives it a chance "because it's not open source."

Furthermore, contributing to projects like KDevelop et al is only cost-effective if you subscribe to its philosophy. Clearly, both Yann and his boss have tried a bunch of Linux IDES and think they're not up to snuff, so they wrote their own. If that's not the spirit of open source and "choice," then I don't know what is. Changing the culture and direction of entrenched projects like KDevelop is virtually impossible; these projects are less about software than about ideology (what does vi vs emacs come down to? GNOME vs KDE? Gtk vs Qt/Linux?)

And this, children, is the greatest threat to open source. Not "Micro$oft," not co-optation by IBM, not SCO's legal challenge of the GPL. No, the greatest threat to open source is pig-headed religion, the exact same sort that originally created the schism between "Free Software" and "Open Source."

@Yann L:
Nice work. Put it up on some web space and announce it on Freshmeat.Net (which only prefers open source, but doesn't mandate it). Also see if you can announce it on Linux Journal.

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Quote:
Original post by Vampyre_Dark
It doesn't help that their leader is so closed minded, and lives in LALA land.


Stallman is hardly the leader. An important figure, but no leader. Many people in the community agree that some of his views are pretty out-there.

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Original post by Oluseyi
@Yann L:
Nice work. Put it up on some web space and announce it on Freshmeat.Net (which only prefers open source, but doesn't mandate it). Also see if you can announce it on Linux Journal.


I was just going to suggest FM. They don't care whether or not it's OSS, free, etc. As long as it works on Linux (and it's even remotely useful) they'll post it.

As for the Linux community in general, yes, I don't like those zealots, but if you do a good job they will eventually come to you and ask for your permission to include it in their distros.
BTW, did you consider making the code OSS, with the exception of your 'secret' libs?

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Original post by Oluseyi
It's a prototype. It's quite possible that Yann and his boss are not in the least bit averse to OSI-approved licenses, but just don't have to time to make it conformant with one right now, and figure that getting actual user feedback is more important (I know, I know, shocking that using software could ever be considered more important than deliberating over its innards). For all we know, with support and good feedback, they could gradually move it toward an open source release by eliminating the proprietary dependencies, but that's not likely to happen if nobody gives it a chance "because it's not open source."

I am actually a big proponent of Open Source. Freedom is always a good thing, but you cannot force freedom onto someone. There are unfortunately always people that take things too far, and become too fundamentalist with their views (oh the parallels to real life...) Yes, our current priority is to make it work. We do that for fun, we're not getting paid for it, so we'd like to see the reaction of the public before spending too much time on it.

Quote:

And this, children, is the greatest threat to open source. Not "Micro$oft," not co-optation by IBM, not SCO's legal challenge of the GPL. No, the greatest threat to open source is pig-headed religion, the exact same sort that originally created the schism between "Free Software" and "Open Source."

Word.

Quote:

BTW, did you consider making the code OSS, with the exception of your 'secret' libs?

They're not really secret, they just can't be release in source, because they are part of our commercial 3D applications. We're using proprietary libraries right now, because we have them here, it allows us to rapidly deploy a working system, and we're used to them. We might rewrite the relevant parts later on, making the whole thing really OSS, but I hate being forced to do this right now (and don't have the time anyway).

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Quote:
Original post by Doc
Quote:
Original post by Vampyre_Dark
It doesn't help that their leader is so closed minded, and lives in LALA land.
Stallman is hardly the leader. An important figure, but no leader. Many people in the community agree that some of his views are pretty out-there.
I thought he was looked up to as the leader? I think he makes that claim in the interview. I was suprised at how extreme his views were. Yann, don't let a bunch of extremists ruin it for you. When the time comes, post it where you can.

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Is the only obstactle those 3rd party libraries? If so, you could just release the code you have, and just say "here's what it is, it uses those other libraries and they're not open source, so here are precompiled binaries... under a different license, of course." If the app is nice, other people might pony up proprietary library clones.

(Keep in mind there are two factions at play here. Free Software, and Open Source. The FS zealots, like Stallman, will hate anything an everything closed source. The OS zealots are probably quite a bit more cool with it.)

(any chance you could release the list of shame? (of the groups that reacted nastily))

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To do my best to not answer your actual question and ramble on about implied matters (like half of everyone in this thread, heh), as I frequently do:

While I can't speak for anyone else or a whole community, I can tell you what reasons would lead me to being uncomfortable relying upon any product.

Whether it's mostly psychological or not, there's always the fear of lock-in (or any more general restriction of their presumed freedom). In something that's open sourced, it's pretty hard to feel locked in. Unless the distributor of a product is very thorough, lock-in can cause a limitation in the number of available platforms and a risk of future obsolescence or discontinuation of its free availability, ignoring the less relevant issues for the matter at hand such as buggy-ness, security issues, privacy issues, and potential lack of customizability (off topic: is that even a real word?). It's a matter of trust when one cannot take something into their own hands. Even though you know you're trying to perform a favor, the comparative loss of freedom in the worst circumstances is what's getting to certain people.

With a product such as yours, I can see someone's reasons to worry about lock-in being difficult to "escape" due to it breaking away from existing "standards" to an extent. I largely refer to the lack of reliance on the autotools with that. Not to say that the autotools are perfect (even though I use them and have long since ran out of major faults I cannot work around, I hardly think they're perfect), but some are (presumably and apparently) lent some amount of comfort in that. Building on Jam or Ant would probably sooth at least half of the people using autotools would, but that might be no solution at all depending upon why your build system is an improvement. The way I'd solve it, speaking in general terms, is to make the build system available separately (as simply a fork or, preferably, as a different project) "for ever" (likely meaning open source), so that if someone really had to they wouldn't even have to switch build systems to continue on with a project without the IDE.

Personally, I feel an IDE is an IDE; it shouldn't really be possible for true lock-in by an IDE, since the code is still just the code (it better be! :P). But, some people are hypersensitive to certain matters such as any feeling of lock-in and could be (and apparently are) upset by the pseudo-potential that exists. To expound on that, many Linux users are probably the kind of people to be hypersensitive to such matters because of the type of person they have to be or have become before ever trying Linux; on the other hand, many of the "normal" consumers could be desensitized to such matters. Who's correct hardly matters, it's all about appeasing your audience in the end. Who you choose to make your audience is your own choice and I suppose the one you're trying to get help in making in this very thread :).

(Disclaimer: I don't think I wrote that half as well as I could have, but I don't feel like fixing it. Hopefully my point gets across inoffensively and without any tone of "scolding" or anything similarly out of place regardless.)

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I had a similar, and more frustrating problem with Eternal Lands. In the beginning, the client was closed source, and I got some really nasty reviews on some Linux gameing sites. At that time I made a vow to never develop software for Linux again. However, all of the programmers that work/worked at Eternal Lands now are primarly Linux users, so there are some advantages developing for Linux, afterall.
But yes, the Linux users (non developers) can be very very bitchy, since, they believe, closed source, or even non GPL/LGPL software is poluting their holly OS. Then they wonder why there is so little software compared to Windows.

On a Linux games site that I won't name or link here, many people were bitching about how totally innaceptable is that the NWN (Neverwinter Nights) Linux version doesn't have a movie viewer. And how Postal 2 is a violent game, that shouldn't even be ported to Linux. And other totally immature things like that.
Most of the Windows users don't care about source availablity, as long as the program works (especially if it's free).

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our grubby little hands await.

by the way...I need an answer from you emacs/vi zealots.

Why the hell do you guys use emacs? What's so "powerful" about it? Can you code intellisense or class view into it? (Don't take me as deriding emacs though, I'm merely curious). Why is it attractive over something like Eclipse, which IMHO makes development easier.

I don't subscribe to any religion other than Get-Me-The-Damn-Program-Running.

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