OS wars (was: Quo vadis, GPC?)
ih8mj at fjf.gnu.de
Sat Jul 31 09:12:14 CEST 2010
Prof. Harley Flanders wrote:
> As to O/S, the following statistics should interest everyone:
> OS Platform Statistics
> Windows XP is the most popular operating system. The Windows family
> counts for almost 90%:
> 2010 Win7 Vista Win2003 WinXP W2000 Linux Mac
> June 19.8% 11.7% 1.3% 54.6% 0.4% 4.8% 6.8%
> May 18.9% 12.4% 1.3% 55.3% 0.4% 4.5% 6.7%
> April 16.7% 13.2% 1.3% 56.1% 0.5% 4.5% 7.1%
> March 14.7% 13.7% 1.4% 57.8% 0.5% 4.5% 6.9%
> February 13.0% 14.4% 1.4% 58.4% 0.6% 4.6% 7.1%
> January 11.3% 15.4% 1.4% 59.4% 0.6% 4.6% 6.8%
> Source: http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_os.asp
Except that browsers are not exactly the same thing as programming
> You would think from the amount of ink flowing here about Linux that it must
> be 10 times as popular as it actually is. Note that Windows consistently
> scores about 88-89%.
I hope you don't mean this as a complaint. If there are so many
Windows programmers lurking, they're certainly allowed to speak up.
For what I know, of the 5 main developers GPC has had, the
percentage of Windows users (as their main OS) is exactly 0%. So if
your statistic was relevant, there should be dozens of Windows
programmers just waiting to take over as main developers and GPC's
future was secured for decades. Or maybe a lot of those 90% are just
computer "consumers" who wouldn't notice if the OS, hardware and
applications on their computer were exchanged completely, as long as
their icons look the same -- and you wonder why they're not here to
discuss the future of a Pascal compiler?
John L. Ries wrote:
> Also, the GNU project has done a very good
> job, over the years, of writing highly portable software, which is of
> benefit to all computer users, regardless of the platform
> (architecture+OS) on which they work (even, IMHO, Windows). GPC has done
> a very good job of maintaining platform independence, which is a very good
> thing that I hope will continue. I particularly appreciate this aspect,
> of GPC, as I routinely develop for multiple platforms and have for nearly
> all of my professional career.
I'd add that it's not only (or even mainly) the GNU project, but
standards such as POSIX that foster portability. Linux supports
POSIX (plus extensions), Windows also (grudgingly) supports POSIX
(minus some flaws), so a port from Linux to Windows is not always
trivial, but possible with some effort.
OTOH, native Windows programs use a completely different API, and a
port from Windows to Linux is a much larger task, basically
rewriting anything related to the OS (not only GUIs, also file I/O
uses a completely different API). Most Windows programmers don't
care about this, or at best only as an afterthought.
Prof. Harley Flanders wrote:
> Delphi however does support Linux.
Does it? AFAIK, there was a short-lived attempt named Kylix which
has long been abandoned.
> Like it or not, Delphi is the best Pascal system going out there,
> pricey indeed; well worth it in my opinion.
Fortunately, opinions can differ. In my opinion, software that is
non-free and non-portable is never "the best".
> It's IDE is remarkably good, its compiler is blindingly fast. Do
> you know that Delphi is checking your source code as fast as you
> write it, and instantly flags syntax errors?
If you like Delphi, good for you, then you should have no problems
switching if GPC dies.
Side note: On-the-fly syntax checking and similar features are
things that I do consider useful and would like to implement in my
IDE (PENG). Of course, I need time to do it, time which I've so far
spent more on GPC ...
> Delphi [...] has expanded
> the Exit command from function bodies to have a parameter: the
> function result.
BTW, GPC supports that as "return".
> For the sake of clarity in this discussion, could someone
> please make a glossary of the many acronyms therein.
> I do not recognize half of them.
Otherwise, it might help if you told us which acronyms in particular
you'd like expanded.
Hodges, Robert CTR USAF AFMC 520 SMXS/MXDEC wrote:
> >> The Windows family counts for almost 90%:
> > Not in academia, it doesn't.
> Right - that's the missing 10%, mostly made up of acedamia and the
> entertainment industry.
> Walk outside into the real world (which you eventually will, like it or
> not), however, and UNIX/MacOS/Linux systems virtually disappear.
Strange, since I'm neither in academia or the entertainment
industry, along with Peter and other people I work with, we must be
virtually nonexistent. I wonder who supported and extended GPC
between 1996 (Jukka, Jan-Jaap) and 2002 (Waldek).
> Only 1 out of 10 people want/need to use it.
Or market lock-in is at work ...
John L. Ries wrote:
> Understand that while the vast majority of computer users use Windows,
> many others prefer other systems and are willing to sacrifice a
> considerable amount of convenience to do so. This is a feature, not a bug.
*Sacrifice* convenience? The times I've had to sacrifice convenience
were when I was "forced" to use a Windows system (fortunately not
often). Even genuine GUI features like copy & paste (which are
supposedly Windows' strength, I don't even have to talk about
traditional Unix strengths such as file systems and networks) work
so much better/easier in Linux GUIs like KDE than under Windows. I'm
sure many of those "90%" would agree if they ever made an unbiased
comparison (but of course, MS tries to make sure this never
Prof A Olowofoyeku (The African Chief) wrote:
> This discussion is in danger of drifting off topic (the future of GPC
> development) to religious wars (OSes). So can we please bring it back
> to the topic?
Probably not, but I changed the subject line. ;-)
> The most crucial point for me is portability and cross-platform
> development. Right now, I can write a program, and compile it for
> Windows, Linux, and my embedded system (accessed via smbfs). If I need
> to, I can compile the same program for Solaris Sparc and Dos as well
> (and have done so in the past).
I did the same with Linux, Solaris, Dos and occasionally Windows.
> This is the reason for my earlier question about which C++
> standard the code generated by the renewed GPC would target.
In this case, the question is not so pressing, since g++ is at least
as portable as gpc (using the same backend and better supported),
and any C++ converter output should, of course, at least be
compilable with g++.
John L. Ries wrote:
> I should note that while I don't agree with RMS and his followers that
> free software is a moral imperative, I greatly respect those who believe
> that strongly enough to act on it by developing high quality software
> available to anyone who wants to use it, even though they know they'll
> never get rich doing it. At the very least, they should be thanked for
> opening up a software market that had become largely noncompetitive.
This statement was explictly acked by two other persons (it almost
seems it's the only thing at all in this thread that more than two
people have agreed on so far). If the general opinion here is that
the project is a take-away or free software is some kind of charity,
it also doesn't bode well for future projects.
This applies especially to Windows users. So far, the only major GPC
contributor who is a Windows user has been The Chief who builds
Windows binaries and, together with me, implemented special Windows
support in some runtime units and the RTS. That's right -- I
actually helped him support Windows-only features. On the opposite,
I've yet to see a Windows user (who is not also a Linux user)
supporting Linux-only features. And then I have to read (see above)
how Windows is underrepresented and not talked about enough.
So for those who think free software means they just get it without
paying (free beer, not free speech) and yet get to tell us what we
should do and complain when we do what we consider important, not
what they consider important (instead of doing it themselves), that
won't work. Sure, one of the points of free software is that anyone
can use it for any purpose, but there's also a rule: Those who code
make the decisions. And by this measure, if I look through the
mailing list archives, Dos and Windows have actually been vastly
One reason why successful free software projects thrive is
contributions by users. This is true for big projects such as GNU
and Linux (of the current source code in the GNU project and in
Linux, RMS and Linus, respectively, have written only a small part)
or TeX (though TeX itself is mostly Knuth's original code, what made
it most useful was LaTeX and many 3rd party packages), but also for
smaller projects, in particular also FPC.
With GPC this hasn't happened much. Even if working on the GPC
compiler itself was difficult due to its backend dependency, this
was no reason to prevent contributions to Pascal units, both the
units that come with GPC, including most of its runtime system, and
3rd party units or applications (e.g. IDEs). But this happened only
to a small degree. I can only speculate on why, whether it's
mentality (as expressed in statements such as the above), or that
everyone is just too busy working on their in-house applications, or
even the large array of dialects that GPC supports (which are
normally thought of as an asset, but may have become a problem in
that they stifle cooperation between users if everybody uses their
own set of features).
Frank Heckenbach, f.heckenbach at fh-soft.de, http://fjf.gnu.de/, 7977168E
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