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Mike Brenner <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 9 Jan 1998 07:48:55 -0500
text/plain (58 lines)
   > Not so long ago nearly
   > all C programmers were using DOS (or extended DOS) and a VESA graphics
   > package would run on their systems.  I suspect only a minority of the
   > Ada community even *could* run such a thing on their system.

Yes, this is precisely why there is less Ada Free software and why less
is being developed. We are not beyond the power curve yet. It is still
worth maintaining the DOS version of gnat, but not the way ACT charges
for it.

The charge should be more like the much lower prices we pay
for shareware. I can afford 50 dollars a year, and I make slightly
below average for senior systems engineers. Others perhaps could
afford 20 dollars per year. Still others have the skill to
compile gnat under DOS, and finally others have the skill to
fix the runtime bugs and the packed bitstrings in gnat 3.07.
A combination like this is what will pay for a gnat version of DOS.

ACT charges are easily affordable to those who a priori have
committed to gnat to do a project for which they will make
more than 1500 x 4 = 6000 X 100 = $600,000 profit.

However, this is not what developers of Free software tend to
be able to afford, since their profit on gnat is ZERO.

The 1,500 per seat for a minimum of 4 seats makes no sense for
Free software. It also sometimes makes no sense for government
agencies, unless projected three to five years in advance.

Some software is still written in DOS (other than free software)
because it is the fastest memory mapped and port access hardware
to do realtime graphics and other hardware-fast types of things.

Some software is still written in DOS because there are physically
and mentally handicapped people, like myself, who have a great
deal of trouble trying to put a mouse over a particular character
with any reliability on Macs or Windows. Perhaps it is not a
handicap at all, but an advantage. Command line systems can do
almost everything faster than a mac. It is amazing what people
give up when they go to windows: hot function key interfaces,
repeat commands, file comparison, hardware text mapping for
instant display, the best text editor in the world (The DOS
version of Multiedit by American Cybernetics), reliable
keyboard interrupt, ability to play music instruments on the
keyboard more than 2 keys pressed at a time, non-mouse tools,
non-mouse databases, easiest way of controlling the serial and
parallel ports, operating system calls that work, ability to
run really tiny executable files, knowing what directories
are affected by installing code, knowing that you have completely
uninstalled a program, ability to run code in a tiny amount of
memory, unlimited virtual storage through djgpp, etc.

I can live with all the mouse lovers of the world, but my
NT at work has a dual boot into DOS, and my computer at home
does not have a mouse, and it runs DOS.

Mike Brenner

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