Should the MSX community go open-source?

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By DarQ

Paragon (1038)

DarQ's picture

26-04-2003, 23:15

Dear msx geeks,

yesterday, suddenly a thought crossed my mind. it had to do with my opinion on closed, commercial software.

Imagine that the new msx really is here already. We use it and we code for it. But we copy-protect our stuff and try to hide the sources and everything else that belongs to a project. What purpose does this have? Well, you can almost garantee (no garantee for wizkids Tongue) that no-one will be able to view your sources or copy your project.
This results in: fewer people use/have your util/program/game/whatever and ofcourse, NO ONE will benefit of the precious knowledge you have gained while developing your project. Ofcourse, this results in many more problems.

but what if the entire community (*not for commercial companies*) that develops msx soft, keep their projects open, so that everyone can benefit of the knowledge (duh, thats open-source).

lately i see several new things come across the msx news that got my attention, like the MAP. The MAP looks LIKE open-source. Many coders can benefit of the knowledge that is there.

conclusion: i believe that the msx community will be able to survive when sources are far from closed.
question: what do you think?!

(check some other topic here about open-source)

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By sjoerd

Hero (593)

sjoerd's picture

27-04-2003, 05:37

Get real. There are no communities that survive on an open-source basis. Computer systems survive as long as there is money involved.

By DarQ

Paragon (1038)

DarQ's picture

27-04-2003, 06:19

whahahahaha, you make me laugh sjoerd. What about *nix OS's??? are those communities still alive??? YES!!! Is cash involved ??? well, perhaps sometimes, but FREE is the base of those communities. The first thought that crossed my mind when reading your reply is: you are full of ignorance!!! I really pity you for posting such an worthless reply.

have you NEVER heard of Unix, GNU/Linux, freeBSD or whatever openOS?? I just cant believe that.

please explain your arguments. Do you really think that a commercial (closed) attitude will keep the MSX scene alive?? I doubt both statements in this line for 100%

let me say: no offence, but i think you wont believe that. Crying

By snout

Ascended (15187)

snout's picture

27-04-2003, 10:04

It's ignorant that a system will survive on open-source.
Unix and related 'opensource' OS-es are written for existing computer systems (mostly) and - frankly - it still is the only way these OS-es can compete with the domination of Microsoft. Although things are improving lately, I still haven't found a Linux distribution which can be used by a 'newbie' as easily as Windows XP. So (making a big generalisation here) most if not all opensource OS-es are not bad for experts, but hell for newbies. Same goes for a lot of software created for the OS (really, no newbie wants to compile software before they can run it, especially not if they have to search the web for dependant libraries and stuff first)

Furthermore, there IS money involved. A new MSX will only be interesting if software developers can make money with it. It's hard - if not impossible - to actually make money with opensource. You can not obligate people to write open-source for a system either. But it doesn't matter...

What matters is that MSX becomes an open standard. Documentation on how to code the new MSX should be freely available. The MAP isn't about open-source, it's about documentation.

By Manuel

Ascended (15804)

Manuel's picture

27-04-2003, 13:27

First of all: UNIX is not open source at all. Linux and (AFAIK) most BSD systems are. Solaris, e.g., is not. Look at the law suit that was filed against IBM by SCO (who owns a lot of UNIX copyrights), because IBM used some UNIX stuff in Linux.

Although things are improving lately, I still haven't found a Linux distribution which can be
used by a 'newbie' as easily as Windows XP.

Wow... I assume that you assume that that newbie is used to Windows. For a real newbie it would not make any difference, I think. If you have to explain things from the utter start anyway, I don't think it would matter whether he is learning to work on Linux or Windows.


So (making a big generalisation here) most if not all opensource OS-es are not bad for experts, but hell for newbies. Same goes for a lot of software created for the OS (really, no newbie wants to compile software before they can run it, especially not if they have to search the web for dependant libraries and stuff first)

Most open source softwares are perfect for experts, look at the server market!
I almost never compile software for my own open source OS (Debian GNU/Linux) and certainly newbies don't need to do that. There is thousands and thousands free precompiled software packages available for most open source operating systems. Debian, e.g., has more than 9000. All very easy to install, without looking on the web or something. (In contradiction to Windows software, which is not kept at a central place, does not do dependencies, wants you to reboot most of the time, is very dependant on the exact version of the OS, etc.)


Furthermore, there IS money involved. A new MSX will only be interesting if software developers can make money with it. It's hard - if not impossible - to actually make money with opensource. You can not obligate people to write open-source for a system either. But it doesn't matter...

in the open source world, people make a lot of money by selling consultancy. That's a different business model, but it sure works. (See e.g. Red Hat and IBM.)


What matters is that MSX becomes an open standard. Documentation on how to code the new MSX should be freely available. The MAP isn't about open-source, it's about documentation.

That is indeed the most important thing.

By Jorito

Mr. Ambassadors (1761)

Jorito's picture

27-04-2003, 13:58

Get real. There are no communities that survive on an open-source basis. Computer systems survive as long as there is money involved.

Hmmm... to get back to MSX a bit; I strongly disagree with this! We (Team Bomba) really aren't into it for the money, there's no money to be made with MSX anyways. We only do it for our own fun and just try to let as many people as possible play the game! About the open-source part; we've placed sources of (usefull) parts of Bombaman online (cruncher, sample library tool). And of course the same goes for Meridian; afaik this program will be available for free too, and sources can be downloaded too, iirc.

In general: open-source isn't bad per se (or good, for that matter), it can work in some situations, and can fail in other situations. But, for my part, I tend to like open source better, probably because the 'cold' attitude of money, money and just money is a bit less Smile Applied to MSX; Hans Otten and the MAP already have sourcecode of numerous programs available, now it's up to the MSX community to make good use of it!

By snout

Ascended (15187)

snout's picture

27-04-2003, 14:30

Jorito is right: lets keep the discussion on topic, namely 'what can opensource do for MSX and for the new MSX'... The rest of the opensource vs. the rest of the world (kuch) topic can be dicussed right here

I think opensourcing will not matter very much. What matters is that documentation is freely available. As most ASM coders use liittle comments in their code, open-sourcing something like Meridian, or old games is most of the time only interesting for people who are already experts. However, if experienced programmer explain how some tricks are done (like on the MAP, Genic & Sunrise picturedisk etc. etc.) newcomers can LEARN a lot.

So, I don't think it's important to open-source, but to document.

By anonymous

incognito ergo sum (109)

anonymous's picture

27-04-2003, 14:40

Although things are improving lately, I still haven't found a Linux distribution which can be used by a 'newbie' as easily as Windows XP.
Only because you are used to Windows' style.
If you would be a total computer newbie, I think the difference between MSX, Mac, Win-PC or Lin-PC is insignificant.

By Grauw

Ascended (8507)

Grauw's picture

28-04-2003, 04:58

Wow, the MAP turns up so often now... ^_^

But yeah, I agree, clear documentation is a hundredfold more useful to me than sourcecode. I hate having to dig through other people's source, it takes a lot of time to get used to and find the parts where you were looking for. And once you've found them, you need to figure out what it does exactly because there'll be few occasions where you can make a 1-on-1 copy of the code, you'll always need to get into the matter a bit so that you can adapt it to your own program's needs (which docs help you with, while sourcecode comment is quite scarce).

~Grauw

By BiFi

Enlighted (4348)

BiFi's picture

28-04-2003, 08:09

Digging through other people's sources is a real crime indeed, especially when that source has next to zero comment. And just if you want to know how something is done clear documentation is a lot better. I do little comment in my sources as well. That way there is more space for actual source code. I only add comments when I already know the source will be an example source for some article.

By Grauw

Ascended (8507)

Grauw's picture

28-04-2003, 12:04

Well comments are also useful for the understanding of your own code, ofcourse ^_^. But the amount an 'outsider' would need is quite a lot of additional comments, and imho as a programmer one'd better spend that time on programming or writing 'real' documentation instead of that. Also, it clogs your code - you yourself don't need that much comments, and for you it only makes the overview of the code worse because there are comments everywhere.

Anyways. The MAP will also publish sources, but the idea was to add comments on the workings etc, and write small articles around them, so that they get added value over 'just sources'. Ok, we won't manually document the really big ones ofcourse Smile that's just too much work, but in those cases we'll still try to accompany it with an article listing the highlights, and giving a little explanation about those.

~Grauw

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