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Tue, 2007-May-29

Vista Embarrassment

I recently purchased a Toshiba Satellite laptop, model A200/L01. A few days ago my spouse downloaded a number of AVIs, which she and I wanted to burn to DVD so that we could watch them on the big screen. I spend most of my time in Ubuntu Feisty, so almost by instinct booted to Windows Vista to get this multimedia-related task done.

Shame, Microsoft. I can't believe your latest and best operating system lacks the codecs to play a random file from the internet. If there is one thing I was sure a Microsoft system could do better than a Linux one it is handling videos. While the sound worked in Vista, the video did not.

Booting back to Ubuntu, the video played. After a prolonged but finite period I was able to successfully produce a transcoded and burned DVD.

Everyone involved in the Vista project should cringe. I'm a bit of a Linux weenie, but Microsoft has always earned its props in a few definite areas. Now it looks like one of those areas has been lost. What is left? Microsoft's office suite is still a definite forerunner, despite the launches of and other assaults against it. Microsoft still has some friendly programming environments, though that is under pressure from web-based software delivery models.

Beryl is much nicer than Vista's new window manager. The Ubuntu start-up sound is much nicer than the dodgy new Vista startup sound. In all, I much prefer the Ubuntu environment. Props to the Debian underpinnings for this well-packaged distribution. Props to the gnome desktop that makes the production of a real friendly desktop environment possible. Props to everyone involved supporting hardware, from the kernel upwards. Feisty is an excellent distribution. Windows has been absolutely incapable of keeping up on these basics.


Sat, 2007-Feb-03

Copyright and Orphan Works

writes an interesting article on what he thinks should happen to US copyright law to deal with .

The requirement it imposes after the 14/5 year delay is registration... like a DNS for copyright... Any work subject to the OWMR and failing to register within the proper period shall:

  • [ALTERNATIVE 1]: lose copyright protection
  • [ALTERNATIVE 2]: have its copyright remedies curtailed.

The effect of the proposal is that any copyright holder who fails to register their new work gets fourteen years copyright before their work effectively falls into the public domain. If they are still making a buck from the content or care for some other reason, registration grants them either the full copyright period or copyright protection until they fall off the registry.

I know that Lessig is something of a free culture extremest, but this proposal is interesting in how it relates to property-based views of copyright in modern culture.

I think the general feeling of people today is that if someone created a work they have the right to control that work. That control could be limited to what is required to make a dollar, but stronger control is now often accepted through use of content licensing. combined with the is an extreme end of this, where a copyright owner can curtail even fair use rights just by stating in a software contract that they want the content to be used in a particular way.

Whether you take a free culture or non-free culture viewpoint I think Lessig's approach makes sense. Orphaned content reverts to the copyright periods that were envisaged when copyright law was first written. Content that still matters to the author for financial or non-financial reasons gets a copyright period consistent with the kind of investement/return ratio that Disney expect from their creations.

I'm not sure exactly how this proposal would deal with DRM per se. Orphaned DRM content that isn't registered will still not be available for use unless DRM-cracking technology is available and permitted by applicable law in this case. In the era when big content producers are increasingly tightening controls over all produced content using DRM technologies this isn't really an issue that can be ignored.


Sun, 2005-Jun-26

Redefine copying for Intellectual Property!

Rusty recently had an exchange with the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. He is worried about the lack of online music stores in Australia, and that the big record companies may be stifling competition in ways that the law has not caught up with. Here is the email I sent to Rusty, reformatted for html.

Hello Rusty,

I wonder if a less radical suggestion from the Minister's point of view would be to try and redefine what copying means for a intellectual property distributor. Instead of "you can't make what I sell you available for download" it could essentially mean "you can't permit any more copies of what I sold you to be downloaded than you actually bought from me":

(Number of copies out (sold, or given away) = Number of copies in (bought)) -> No copying has taken place with respect to copyright law.

If this approach was applied to individuals as well as distribution companies then fair use may not need any further consideration. If there is a feeling that this can't be applied to individuals then the major hurdles, I think, would be:

  1. How do we define an IP distributor, as compared to a consumer of IP?
  2. Who is allowed to define the mechanism for measuring the equation? Is it a statutory mechanism, or do we leave it up to individual contracts?

Just a happy sunday morning muse :)
I'm sure you've already thought along these lines before.

Fri, 2005-May-20

Project Harmony

Everyone else has gotten their two cents in, so I had better too. I think Project Harmony as proposed is a good thing.

Novell won't back Java[1]. Redhat won't ship Mono. So where does this leave open source?

I think a lot of the current interest in open source didn't come from "Linux" per se, but tools such as Apache and Perl. They were free of cost. They fit with the needs of users. They filled the needs of users better than commercial equivalents, and it was clear that a commercial clone of either would fail.

Apache is still "The number one HTTP server on the Internet"[2], but I think open source is losing the language war. It's been years since exciting things were really happening that commercial software wasn't doing better.

C and C++ are dead languages[3], but they continue to be the foundation of most of the free software out there. The effort that's going into supporting that system of libraries is wasted, because the programmers of today don't really want to talk to you if you don't have garbage collection. They don't want to talk to you if you have a language as complicated as C++[4]. They don't want to talk to you if you can't make DOM and SAX XML models talk to each other. They don't want to talk to you if you can't tell them straight to their face which HTTP client code to use, or which interface specification to code to when they want to write a serverlet. We're playing silly buggers with ideas that should be dead to computer science, and the commercial players are lightyears ahead in delivering actual user functionality.

Perl's CPAN was a killer app when C++ was big. If you wanted an implementation of a particular feature you just picked it up. Now-a-days most such features are part of the standard library of your langauge. Why would you want another source? That's what we're missing.

We're still arguing about which languages we need to use to build core desktop components on! Heavens' sakes! When a programmer opens up the open source toolkit for the first time we can't give them an adequte place to start.

You could code in C, but that's like using punchcards for getting user functions in place. You could code in C++, but that's far too complicated. It won't give you access to basic functionality, nor will it provide an upgrade path for when the next big thing does arrive. Also, if you're not coding in C you have to think very hard about how your code will be reused. Chances are, if it's not in C you can forget about it... but if you do use C you'll spend the rest of your life writing and maintaining bindings for every language under the sun.

We used to be able to solve all our problems with the open source tools we had, but they were smaller problems back then and the productivity we demanded from ourselves was less. Now its hard to know where to start when implementing something as simple as an accounting system.

There are many reasons to get behind Mono. It has the makings of a great piece of technology for delivering user functions. Unfortunately, it has the legal stink surrounding it that comes from being a clone of commerical software from an company that makes money off IP lawyering. It seems that Java is currently unencumbered. Despite Sun's recent cosyness with Microsoft, they seem to be good citizens for now.

From my perspective we either have to pick one of the two horses, or invent a new language again. If we pick that third option we'd better be ready to make it fill needs that can't be filled by the current solutions, or it simply won't be swallowed. If we can't pick Mono, then Java has to be our launching point. Once we have a useful Java platform, then we can think about whether we want to stick with Java longer term or whether we want to fork in the same way Microsoft forked to create C#. Any way we go its a technical and legal minefield out there and we don't really have a 500 pound gorilla to clear the way for us.

I suppose I had better clearly state my position on python, perl and friends going forwards. To be frank I don't hold out much hope. Parrot seems to be stagnant. It has been "in the early phases of its implementation" for as long as I can recall, having had its 0.1 release in December 2001. Without a common virtual machine, I don't see Perl and Python talking to each other freely any time soon. If that virtual machine doesn't also run the code in your mythical compiler-checked uber-language replacement for C# and Java then they won't talk to each other at the library level either. As far as I am concerned it is the the lack of ability to write a library and know it will be able to be used everywhere its needed that is at the core of what I hate about working with open source tools right now. I don't care how easy it is to write in your personal favourite langauge, or how elegant it is. I just want to know whether I'll be spending the rest of my life writing and rewriting it just to end up with the same amount of funcationlity I started with. It's just as frustrating from the library user perspective, too. I'm forever looking at libraries and thinking "I need that functionaliy, I wonder if its available in a python binding?"[5]. I don't care how easy such a binding would be to create. I don't want to maintain it! The code's author probably doesn't want to maintain it either! There has to be a better way!

So... what's left?

I think we end up with three options for making open source software authoring bearable again:

  1. Pick a language, and have everyone use it
  2. Pick a calling convention (including contracts regarding garbage collection, mutability and the like), and have everyone use it
  3. Start from scratch and find another way for pieces of software to communicate with each other (such as http over the local desktop), and have everyone use it.

Given these options, I applaud project Harmony for making the attempt at positioning us with a reasonable starting point. I hope they succeed. Organisationlly, I trust Apache more than GNU with their existing classpath infrastructure to do the job and get it right. Apache have a lot of Java experience, and that includes dealing with through Java Community Process with Sun and other Java interests. On the technical level they seem to be taking a bigger-picture approach than classpath, also. I think they can get a wider base of people onto the same page than the Simultaneously, I think we should continue experimenting with alternative ways for software to communicate. Maybe we'll meet in the middle somewhere.


[1] Ok, that's a huge oversimplification

[2] Accoring to their website

[3] ... or dead langauges walking, on their way to the electric chair

[4] As a C++ programmer I thank the Java luminaries for removing features like operator override!

[5] I consider python the most productive language presently for writing software in the open source sphere. I don't think its a good language once you hit a few thousand lines of code... I need compile-time checks to function as a programmer.

Sun, 2005-Feb-13

To disable Internet Explorer

The HUMBUG mailing lists have recently been a-buzz with talk of Suncorp-Metway's apparent pro-IE+Windows and anti-Mozilla+Unix stance in its online terms and conditions. These conditions were later clarified in a form that I hope will stand up in court but have personal doubts about with in this follow-up.

Greg Black linked to this article which contained a comment by Bill Godfrey:

I keep IE hanging around, but I have the proxy server set to and I make exceptions in the no-proxy-for list.

I've now adopted this policy on my work machine, although I've set my proxy to localhost ( instead of as I consider this a touch safer. Since IE and Mozilla have distinct proxy settings this prevents IE and its variants from accessing remote sites while allowing me to roam freely under Firefox. This is particularly important for me because Lotus Notes explicitly embeds IE for its internal web browsing and has a habit of doing things like looking up IMG tags from spam. Hopefully this will put a stop to that.

Sat, 2005-Feb-05

The Common Development and Distribution License

Open solaris has been launched with the release of dtrace under the Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL), pronnounced "cuddle" (although I always think ciddle when I see it). CDDL is an OSI-approved license. This should be a good thing, and is.

This blog entry covers some of the scope of contraversy over CDDL, and sun's decision to create it and to use it. I'll be reporting on discussions within the Groklaw, HUMBUG, and Debian organisations but mostly I'll be linking to things I was interested to hear or things I agree with ;)

Groklaw was looking into the CDDL quite early in the peace. During December 2004 PJ wrote this article requesting feedback on the license as submitted to OSI for approval. After noting the license was not going to be GPL-compatible she put this message forward, front and center:

So what, you say? Other licenses are not (GPL-compatable) either. But the whole idea of Open Source is that it's, well, open. For GNU/Linux and Solaris to benefit each other, for example, they'd need to choose a licence that allows that cross-pollination. So Sun is letting us know that it is erecting a Keep Out sign as far as GNU/Linux is concerned with this license...

She goes on to quote Linus Torvalds who had earlier spoken to about CDDL to support her view.

By the 18th of December 2004 Sun had responded to Groklaw concerns regarding some parts of the license. PJ doesn't comment further on the pros and cons of the license at this time.

By the 26th of January 2005 OSI approval had been granted. It was time for PJ to get back on the bandwagon with this sort of sentiment:

Yes, they are freeing up 1600 patents, but not for Linux, not for the GPL world. I'm a GPL girl myself. So it's hard for me to write about this story on its own terms. I am also hindered by the fact that I've yet to meet a Sun employee I didn't like personally. But, despite being pulled confusingly in both those directions at once, in the end, I have to be truthful. And the truth is Sun is now competing with Linux. That's not the same as trying to kill it, but it's not altogether friendly either. Yet, at the teleconference, Sun said they want to be a better friend to the community. I feel a bit like a mom whose toddler has written "I LUV MOMMY" on the wall with crayons. Now what do I say?

A further 28th of January article highlights another possible technical issue with the CDDL arrangment, but expects the problem will be solved when the Contributors Agreement is drawn up.

After reading the groklaw articles I had a number of things to think about and wrote three emails to the humbug general mailing list. The first just pointed to the 26th of January 2005 Groklaw article. The second two were a bit more exploriatory of the problem of GPL-incompatiblity, and of what it means to create a new open source license. On the 30th of January 2005, I wrote:

I, for one, am not surprised by this release initially being under the CDDL only. It does seem like a reasonable license given the circumstances, just as the MPL did in the early days of mozilla. I think (and hope) that over time the open source experiment will prove beneficial to all parties and that dual-licensing under the GPL or LGPL will one day be possible. It does seem unlikely that the GPL camp will move too far from its position regarding compatibility after all this time. As the newcomer to open source, will eventually have to expose itself to the GPL if it is to maximise its community support and exposure. Eventually, I hope that this open source experiment leads to benefits to open source operating system development everywhere.

After some interesting followup by a resident Sun employee (who was not representing Sun in the conversation), I wrote a more concrete exploration piece covering the topics of whether opening Solaris would benefit Linux and of general open source license compatability. I wrote:

In order to make CDDL and GPL compatible we have to look at both directions of travel. CDDL->GPL could be achieved by dual licensing of the software or dropping the CDDL in favour of something like LGPL or newBSD. Both options are probably unacceptable to Sun who wrote this license in order to protect itself and do other lawyerly things. On the flipside, GPL->CDDL is equally hair-raising. Linux code would similarly have to dual-license or use a weaker license. Would the CDDL terms be an acceptable release condition for Linux kernel software? Probably not, because CDDL allows combinations with closed-source code. That would allow the linux kernel to be combined with closed-source code also. The two licenses exist under two different ideologies and two different commercial realities. The licenses are reflective of that.

and this:

I suspect developers need to be careful about looking at Solaris code with a view to repeating what they've seen in Linux, and likewise linux developers may have to be careful about what they would contribute to OpenSolaris. Sure, it's fine to recontribute your own work but if you're you're copying someone else's work there may be issues. Like closed-source software, open-source software is not public domain and can't be copied from one place to the other without reference the the relevant licence agreements. When Microsoft code has leaked onto the internet in days past I seem to recall fairly strong statements that anyone who had seen such code would not be able to work on the same kinds of features in Linux as they had seen in the leaked code. There's too much of a risk that subconscious copying (or the perception of it) could lead to future legal difficulties.
Still, even if no copying or cross-pollination can occur at the code level the open sourcing of Solaris should bring the developers closer at the collaborative community level. From that perspective even with the GPL/OSI fracture we should all see some benefits from Sun's undeniably generous and positive actions.

More recently, I've read up on what debian legal had to say about CDDL. Mostly it was "We shouldn't be spending any time thinking about this until someone submits CDDL code for inclusion into Debian" but some interesting opinions did come up. Personally, I trust debian's take on what free software is more than I trust OSI's take on what open source software is. Despite striking similarity between Debian's Free Software Guidelines and OSI's Open Source Definition (the OSD is based on the DFSG) the two organisations seem to put different emphasis on who they serve. Debian appears very conservative in making sure that user and redistributor freedoms are preserved. I've never quite worked out who's freedoms OSI is intended to preserve, but I believe they have a more business-oriented slant. From my reading it seems that Debian's (notional) list of acceptable licenses is shorter than OSI's (official) list.

Two threads appears on the debian-legal mailing list. One commented on the draft license, and the other on the OSI-approved license. I think the most pertinant entry from the former thread was this one, by Juhapekka Tolvanen which states:

It probably fails the Chinese Dissident test, but I don't think that's a problem. The requirement to not modify "descriptive text" that provides attributions /may/ be a problem, but that'll depend on specific code rather than being a general problem...

Andrew Suffield elaborates, saying:

Is that license free according to DFSG?
Not intrinsically. Individual applications of it may be, with a liberal interpretation, or may not be, with a lawyer one. Notably it's capable of failing the Chinese Dissident test, and of containing a choice-of-venue provision. It also has a number of weasel-worded lawyer clauses that could be used in nasty ways...
Yeah, it's another of those irritating buggers. We'll have to analyse each license declaration that invokes this thing.

Followups in the later thread reinforce that none of the problems debian-legal had with the orignal draft appears to have shifted.

To close out this entry I'd like to bring the sagely words of Stuart Yeates from debian-legal to bear:

The CDDL is almost certainly better from pretty much every point of view (including that of the DFSG) than the current licences for Solaris. If you had ethical no problems with the old licences for Solaris, you're unlikely to have ethical problems with the CDDL.

As for the free software world's general acceptance of and participation in the CDDL, it is probably no worse than the Mozilla Public Licenese or any number of other licenses that have appeared over time and been declared open source. Personally I won't be trusting any license that Debian doesn't support, but we won't find out whether that test is passed for quite some time yet (unless someone wants to try a dtrace port...)

New licenses are created because the developer can't accept the protections, guarantees, and restrictions of existing licenses under which to release their code. Lawyers who write these licenses deliberately make their license incompatable with other licenses in order to prevent their code being distrubted under such unacceptable terms. In doing so, they prevent cooperation at the source level between them and anyone else. They create a barrier.

If I were Sun I'd want to be pretty damn sure that other people had the same view about existing licenses and saw their license as the perfect alternative before shutting out so much of the existing developer community. Regardless of your attitudes about what represents open source or free software, these barriers are not good. Every time a new license is written, somewhere a fairy dies. Please, think of the fairies.


Wed, 2004-Dec-29

Own the Standards

Harry Phillips writes:

Linux does not need a "Killer app", more open source projects need to be ported to Windows.

He refers to this article as his inspiration.

The article does not appear to be well-researched. It is an opinion piece, but I think it holds a few grains of truth. This blog entry is an opinion piece too, and is probably less well-researched. Today, we already see open source software creeping onto the windows desktop. Companies like Green PC in the sub-$500 PC market appear to love the cost savings they can make with a bit of open source software (in this case, openoffice) thrown into the bundle.

It's a niche with pros and cons, but I think some of the pros are notable ones. People may start to get used to working with openoffice software at home. Slowly it creeps into educational institutions, four years later it starts to make its mark on industry.

Maybe that's a pipe-dream. Doubly-so because I would rate the software's usability at around 2/10. I hate the bastard.

Nevertheless, the crossover of open source software onto the windows desktop is very interesting indeed. The mozilla and openoffice technology stacks are mature on windows as well as unix-like and mac platforms (as a short list). GTK applications are starting to make a splash as well. Gimp now has windows support which should continue to improve over the next few gtk revisions. Some might point out qt, especially given their recent version four beta release, which has been mature and open source for some time but still has the ring of "that company owns it, not us" about it and has a strong C++ aftertaste.

Anyway, the future is looking bright for open source software under windows. Why is this important?

I think the use of open source software on the windows platform is not that useful to open source. It may have positive impacts on the individual products. They may recieve more contributions and more feedback from the wider audience they've courted. This may feed back to a better overall user experience. It may even raise the profile of open source. On the whole, though, I don't think it will be a big win in and of itself. To me, the win is in retaking the platform.

For some years, Microsoft has been able to claim all the best software because of a self-fulfilling prophecy (as well in part to a reasonably sound software development platform). You need things to work under windows, so you develop for the windows platform. Java tried to break this model with the write once, run everywhere philosophy. This philosophy has been adopted by a number of other portable platforms that have been migrated over the top of windows. As I recall, the first major beachhead was retaken with perl. It was genuinely useful to windows users, and filled a hole that Microsoft had failed to. With more and more common platform between Windows and those other camps, it is starting to become viable again to write software that will work under other operating-systems "as well".

I'm currently tinkering with (nibbling at) an accounting system written in python. To get it working under windows all I had to do was to make sure it had only gtk dependencies, not those of gnome. I use sqlite as the file-storage-slash-database, which was also available trivially. I expect that if I add further dependencies they'll be available in a similarly straghtforward fashion. I can write once, and run (test) everywhere.

I think the most important problem in software at the moment is in defining practical platforms for the development of high-level software. I think the main risk to this problem being solved entirely is still the split between the three main free desktop camps. Mozilla, openoffice, and gnome (Did I forget KDE? Oh, my bad...) are all built on essentially-incompatable software stacks with three different sets of abstractions. I believe this harms the solution not only on the free desktop but on the windows desktop. If this problem isn't solved in the next five years or so (perhaps in the timeframe of the Windows Longhorn release) I think the tide may turn back again and we may find Microsoft dictating the platform once again. Perhaps Mono or other .NET clones will help us to still write portable software in that time, but my real ambition for open source would be for Microsoft itself to eventually be forced to contribute to the one true codebase.

I'm all for open source software under Windows, especially if it means that open source platforms become defacto standards under the windows dekstop. I would love to see sufficient momentum behind those platforms that they outevolve and outdevelop Microsoft's competition on its own operating system.

Once the standard windows desktop is gnome-based, why would anyone buy windows?

Benjamin (the dreamer)

Sat, 2004-Dec-25

Windows is everywhere

Ben fowler writes:

If you're stupid enough, despite the EULA, to use our (Microsoft Windows) software to run a nuclear reactor, weapon system or other safety critical system, then it's your funeral (and maybe everyone else's)

The trouble is, windows is everywhere.

I've been working with Solaris for the last five years, but that's coming to an end. Particularly in asia Sun is often seen by our customers as a supplier with an unsteady future ahead of it. They want commodity hardware to work with, and commodity software. Some ask for Linux by name. Some ask for Windows by name, especially for desktop machines.

The reasons are sometimes complex and varied. Sometimes they ask for a SCADA system but secretly dream of a general computing platform that they can use to access other systems as well, or maybe just trawl the internet for humor. Sometimes they want to avoid us having them over a barrel when it comes time to upgrade. They want to be able to buy their own hardware, or at least feel confident they could if they needed too.

Often the customer doesn't have as much expertise as they think they do, and what they assume anyone can do would actually introduce risks to the system unless it is very carefully considered with some reasonably in-depth knowledge. In the end, we provide a solution. When the solution needs to be updated we are probably the best people to do it (if you're still staying with our systems).

Anyway, I meander from the point.


Windows is used in saftey-related systems. Not all of them, but many of them. People who work with safety-related systems want commodity hardware and software, too, and until recently the options have been very slim indeed. They remain slim, to be honest. When you aren't dealing with hard realtime requirements and you have a software-heavy solution you don't want to reinvent the operating system, hardware, and development environment. You use something off the shelf that does the job and doesn't cost too much money. Companies that provide these systems aren't very good at sharing with each other, so truth be known there's not a whole lot out there. Windows is said to be a good choice, at least once you've pulled out any uneccessary services and run the same version for half a decade or so. It can be a good choice. Most vendors in the field have far more experience in deploying Windows solutions than Linux or BSD solutions.

My background over most of the past five years hasn't actually been with saftey-related software. The project I was working on involved code that was one step removed from the safety-related component. That's no longer true, so I've been immersed in saftey-related thinking relatively recently. At first it surprised me that the people who did have a lot of safety-related software experience dealt mostly with windows. It surprised me more when they told me that while they were currenly only certified with an ageing windows NT operating system base they felt confident in achieving certification very soon under Windows XP. They weren't much interested in Linux, and the idea of using Solaris seemed outright confusing to them.

Of course, we're not talking about nuclear reactors here. We're talking SIL2 systems (sometimes called non-vital in the old tongue) that tell SIL4 systems what to do. In the end it is the SIL4 systems that decide whether something is safe or not, and are perfectly willing to override the SIL2 decision when it suits them. Some of those SIL4 systems are technological. Some are procedural. Still, it's very embarrassing when your SIL2 system goes down even after accumulating several years of uptime. We prefer to see the hardware fail before the software does. Likewise, SIL2 systems do have safety-related responsibilities (otherwise they'd be SIL0). Unlike a vital safety-critical (SIL3 or SIL4) system, your non-vital saftey-related (SIL1 or SIL2) system typically generates unsafe situations when it fails badly as opposed to actually killing someone directly. We all like to be sure that ours sytems aren't going to fail badly.

Meandering again, yes.

The safety-related parts of our applications also tend to be running on secure networks, although we've seen recently that isn't always a true safeguard. Oh well.

Now what does the UK Health & Safety directorate have to say about the use of Linux and Windows? They're pretty conservative guys, but are surprisingly positive about linux. They were (very breifly) less positive about windows. That report was pulled, though, no doubt after pressure from both Microsoft and parts of the various represented industries that were more comfortable with their windows solutions than any potential linux solution.

In the end, I think we'll see a linux vs windows battle on the safety-related software front. Each one will creep up to around the high SIL2 mark and most applications will be able to make use of either one. Currenly windows is still out in front in that arena (at least from where I'm sitting) because of longer term industry exposure. When look towards the SIL4 mark we will continue to see (as we do now) lots of bespoke software and hardware that brings in enough margin not to have to commoditize. Until the market shifts to put pricing pressure on those guys I think we'll continue to see that approach. On my end of the market, though, there is a price squeeze that makes bespoke impossible. Non-commodity non-bespoke solutions such as the use of Sun hardware and software are becoming a nonsense to our sector as they are to many other sectors. Windows and Linux look like the only contenders (and linux has a lot of catching up to do).