Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2001 18:09:09 -0800
Reply-To: "Karsten M. Self" <kmself@IX.NETCOM.COM>
Sender: "SAS(r) Discussion" <SAS-L@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
From: "Karsten M. Self" <kmself@IX.NETCOM.COM>
Subject: OS choice, preloads,
and bootloader control (was Re: SAS and Windows XP (Update))
In-Reply-To: <firstname.lastname@example.org>; from
JackHamilton@FIRSTHEALTH.COM on Thu, Nov 15,
2001 at 12:39:54PM -0600
Content-Type: multipart/signed; micalg=pgp-sha1;
on Thu, Nov 15, 2001 at 12:39:54PM -0600, Jack Hamilton (JackHamilton@FIRSTHEALTH.COM) wrote:
> I'll tell you why I never used OS/2.
> I tried to install it on several different machines. The installation
> always failed with a (varying) cryptic error message.
> Windows installed on those same machines with no problem.
> OS/2 was certainly not a "better" alternative for me - it wasn't an
> alternative at all.
- Bill V's comments about ease of installation v. other aspects of use
(running, updating, and functionality) are well taken. I've had a
similar experience with GNU/Linux, both in general, and Debian in
particular. Operation and updating are both far superior to other
OSs I've run, both in general and relative to the capabilities of
the system. Debian has a reputation for having a slightly less
user-friendly installer, but the reason given is "Debian developers
only have to use it once". Once installed, upgrades through minor
and major revs are simple to the point of triviality.
- The simplest OS to install is the one that the HW vendor did for you
(the corollary of course is that the vendor always bolluxes the
installation, so you wipe it and do it yourself -- I'm not sure what
the happy medium is here). In the specific case of legacy MS
Windows, the issue wasn't that vendors didn't offer alternative
operating systems, or multi-boot systems, it was that they couldn't.
The most recent smoking gun to come to light was the case of BeOS,
as described in this Byte article, "He Who Controls the Bootloader":
He Who Controls the Bootloader
By Scot Hacker
August 27, 2001
[Former Be CEO Jean Louis] Gassée has written several times about
Microsoft's Windows OEM License and the ways in which it limits the
freedoms of PC OEMs. In July 2001, I spoke with Gassée to find out
why no dual-boot computers with BeOS or Linux installed alongside
Windows can be purchased today.
In the 1998-1999 timeframe, ready to prime the pump with its desktop
offering, Be offered BeOS for free to any major computer
manufacturer willing to preinstall BeOS on machines alongside
Windows. Although few in the Be community ever knew about the
discussions, Gassée says that Be was engaged in enthusiastic
discussions with Dell, Compaq, Micron, and Hitachi. Taken together,
preinstallation arrangements with vendors of this magnitude could
have had a major impact on the future of Be and BeOS. But of the
four, only Hitachi actually shipped a machine with BeOS
pre-installed. The rest apparently backed off after a closer reading
of the fine print in their Microsoft Windows License agreements.
Hitachi did ship a line of machines (the Flora Prius) with BeOS
preinstalled, but made changes to the bootloader ? rendering BeOS
invisible to the consumer ? before shipping. Apparently, Hitachi
received a little visit from Microsoft just before shipping the
Flora Prius, and were reminded of the terms of the license.
Be was forced to post detailed instructions on their web site
explaining to customers how to unhide their hidden BeOS partitions.
It is likely that most Flora Prius owners never even saw the BeOS
installations to which they were entitled.
Bootloader as Trade Secret
So why aren't there any dual-boot computers for sale? The answer
lies in the nature of the relationship Microsoft maintains with
hardware vendors. More specifically, in the "Windows License" agreed
to by hardware vendors who want to include Windows on the computers
they sell. This is not the license you pretend to read and click "I
Accept" when installing Windows. This license is not available
online. This is a confidential license, seen only by Microsoft and
computer vendors. You and I can't read the license because Microsoft
classifies it as a "trade secret." The license specifies that any
machine which includes a Microsoft operating system must not also
offer a nonMicrosoft operating system as a boot option. In other
words, a computer that offers to boot into Windows upon startup
cannot also offer to boot into BeOS or Linux. The hardware vendor
does not get to choose which OSes to install on the machines they
sell -- Microsoft does.
...which gets back to the issue of who the customer is in the OS market,
and how and why Microsoft is still largely the only choice that exists
in the proprietary OS space.
I'll remind those of you in the US and Europe that there remains an
option for effective action to be taken in various antitrust suits,
including possibly the US DoJ, though it appears to have completely sold
out to Microsoft. Nine states have shown backbone. The EU may yet take
Memo to Goodnight: Redmond bought Washington for only about $200,000,
best I can tell. How much is your independent status worth, Jim?
Karsten M. Self <email@example.com> http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand? Home of the brave
http://gestalt-system.sourceforge.net/ Land of the free
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