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HP And Bruce Perens 125

After Bruce Perens' brief stint as a venture capitalist (which followed his stint with Debian and OSI among other organizations), he has moved on to work with HP in a sort of consulting role for all things Open Source inside and outside of the company. The article talks about HPs questionable history (including the recent printer driver debacle among other things) and what sort of things Bruce will be up to.
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HP and Bruce Perens

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  • by Flavio ( 12072 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2000 @05:46PM (#579357)
    Not that I think my suggestion is worth anything to a company like HP, but there are some things I'd like to state.

    First, I have a lot of HP products. From calculators to printers, everything I've ever bought from them was excellent.

    Now they'll have to either take the first step embracing Linux drivers or face the competition that does.

    Speaking realistically, not many companies are a threat to HP's desktop market. There's Epson, Canon, Lexmark and others, but HP is large enough to dictate tendencies.

    However, consider that Linux users tend to be influential in the computer world. Let's suppose, for example, that I, as a network admin, have got to install a print server and a box for digitizing images in a small office. Linux would be the perfect choice *if* I had printer support for it.

    With cheap printers getting 8+ ppm in black, one deskjet can be more than enough for a small office. I'd use this computer as a mail gateway as well, and maybe for NFS and other things.

    I'm NOT willing to get a new box just to run Windows on it and use it as a print server, but as things are today, I have no choice. I refuse to buy a 2880x1400 dpi printer and use it in 300x300 mode under Linux.

    Now if some company starts shipping a printer with decent Linux drivers, I'd buy it. I don't care if it only prints with half the deskjet-in-quetion's resolution and at half the speed. I'll get it!

    Ditto for other devices with flaky Linux support.

    So what I'm saying is that in some situations Linux support can be crucial. Perhaps not for the normal joe that runs office on his desktop at home, but that's going to change as well.

    I, as a desktop user, find it irrational to reboot into Windows just to print a document that has a color photo in it.

    As Linux takes over other shares of the corporate (and gasp! home user) market, HP will be forced to change.

    Corporations don't care much about ideologies per se, but they will care when money's the issue. I'd do it early while I can if I were HP.

  • Don't knock printers, they're damned important.

    No. Paper-pushing is dead. You aren't going to build a multi-billion dollar business on a dead market with no margins.

    Carly doesn't have the brass to pull HP off of its dependence on paper products - here is the result [yahoo.com].

    If you can't get a decent printer to work with your Linux box, you can't move your office to Linux.

    If printing is that important to you, you're nuts to even bother with linux. Its a no-brainer that you're using win2k if you absolutely have to commit to paper.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    No kidding, you'd think you'd have learned not to buy Xerox printers by now.
  • P.S.: I am not the real Rusty [slashdot.org] (who claims the same). I guess nobody notices the irony...
    There is no K5 [kuro5hin.org] cabal.
  • The first step, getting the printer drivers released, will probally be the tell tale for the entire effort.

    IMHO if HP and Pern don't get a move on while the story is still somewhat hot off the press, they are out of luck as far as good PR in the open source community goes. However HP moving to an open linux would show some commitment.

    As someone in California? said "while staring at a breakfast plate piled high with eggs and bacon, the chicken was involved, but the pig was committed"

  • If you're trying to burn off karma, posting a message saying you would like to have it taken away will not work. Moderators will ignore the message just to spite you. Didn't you learn anything in Troll 101?
  • If printing is that important to you, you're nuts to even bother with linux. Its a no-brainer that you're using win2k if you absolutely have to commit to paper.
    You are seriously out of touch with how real people work. People like you have been saying for 10 years that the paperless office would happen "any day now". Meanwhile, the real world prints tens of thousands of pages a day.

    Personally, I only ever print receipts from on line shopping. But I'm surrounded by people at work who print everything. Printing is essential to most people who use computers. Why do you think people bought them all? Word processing started this whole revolution. If the computer can't print, it's useless for them.

    You may be right that there's no margins. I don't know - I suspect there's pretty hefty markup on those monster network laser printers and large-format color printers that sit in the corners of a million offices in the country.

    Torrey Hoffman (Azog)
  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday December 05, 2000 @07:23PM (#579364) Homepage Journal
    CT, I spent more than a year as a VC, not a brief stint. You know the market has been terrible, there's no point in doing that now. Also, why the heck was this story rejected twice when I submitted it?



  • >> Don't knock printers, they're damned important.

    >No. Paper-pushing is dead. You aren't going to build a multi-billion dollar business on a dead market with no margins.

    There may be no margins in the printers, but those ink carts sell for a pretty hefty markup. $30 at the local Best Buy for an inkjet cart is probably $5 in parts and labor, tops.

    Nathan Mates
  • [Bruce] is ... an eloquent statesman of the first caliber.

    Actually, I'd rather Eric Raymond and Bruce Perens didn't presume to speak for the open source or free software movement. Remember when Bruce posted a crass email from Eric Raymond and called the police [slashdot.org]?

  • It sounds to me like you're an investor.

    Are you an investor in HP? An investor in another company mentioned in your post? If so you should disclose this in your post.

    Now, do you keep up on their financials? If not, here's some information for you, taken from HP's latest quarterly [hp.com]:


    Net revenue, in millions, 12 months ending Oct. 31, 2000.

    Imaging and Printing Systems: $20,476
    Computing Systems: $21,095
    IT Services: $7,129
    Other: $1,299

    Total Revenue: $48,782

    Earnings, in millions, 12 months ending Oct. 31, 2000

    Imaging and Printing Systems: $2,746
    Computing Systems: $960
    IT Services: $634
    Other: ($103)

    Total Earnings: $3,889


    So, while it is true that they earn the most money from "Printing and Imaging Systems," they're hardly a "dud of a company." And if you really get down into HP's financials, you'll find some interesting things - their largest growth sector was Asia at 61% over 1999, and their fastest growth in "Printing and Imaging" happens to be in imaging:

    Imaging revenues grew 31% over the year-ago quarter, fueled by strong growth in all-in-one (AiO's) products (up 31%), scanners (up 13%) and digital cameras (up 137%).

    I hope this has been at least a little enlightening. HP is not doomed now, and certainly wouldn't be if HPUX dropped off the face of the planet this evening and HP never sold another server again. And their interest / investment in Linux shows they know where their money comes from. It won't be long before their AiO's and digital cameras will be running embeded linux along with their print servers.



    Disclaimer: I don't own any publicly traded stock.

  • VeriFone - a subsidiary dedicated to POS terminals. In order to develop software for those beasts (OMNI is their name), you use a SDK provided by them (called Verix - closed-source, of course) along with a C compiler from SDS whit a horrid copy-protection scheme. I have a hunch that you might be able to use gcc for that, but haven't yet the time OR stamina to work on this. Feel free to de-spamproof my email and discuss technical details with me.
  • Yep, low-end printers are definately a Razor-n-Blades situation.

    But, for HP, it's a little more complex. When you see those Best Buy ads for "Buy a Compaq Presario 666-Q and get a FREE HP PRINTER", part of the reason why is that HP wants to remain absolutely associated with computer printing in people's minds. That means giving out free or near-free printers to newbie users just so the association of Printer==HP sticks in their brain, and they come back for a HP LaserJet when their little inkjet craps out on them.

    Of course, any printer for free (or less than $100 really) is going to have to be a software-driven, cheaply contructed piece of crap. Problem is, people want to use those printers with Linux, and it's a little harder to tell them to buy Real Hardware (like a Lexmark with Postscript) when you are talking about $399 than it is with the WinModem situation.
  • I really enjoy the HP printers and calculators that I have worked with. However using HP/UX has been a royal pain. As for linux driver support, I wish I could have better support for a printer and be able to print directly, but here at work I find myself using an HP/UX box as my print server and pointing my linux boxes to it.

    The thing the annoys me to no end is the utter proprietaryness of the Unix OS. I have on numerous occasions called HP support and they give me undocumented flags for commands (ie not in the manpage or the -? flag) that are needed to get the job done. It amazes me they have as much unix market share as they do with such an extreemely closed system. As far as things are concerned I'd just be happy using Solaris and Linux. In fact we're looking into replacing all of our HP servers with Suns. Yes, HP hardware has been good to us, but those are mimial with respect to control over the OS.

    I just hope HP will commit to Open Source and open their closed minded approach to interfaces with their hardware products and their software.
  • Actually, a large number of HP-UX machines have video cards. $1500 video cards. PA-RISC makes for a real sweet workstation. I admit I don't have hard facts, but from what I've seen, the proportion is higher than 5%. You're right, Linux isn't ready for heavy enterprise. Linux is a wonderful desktop OS for those who don't mind tinkering, and it is developing towards the common user well. It is certainly adequate for compute-intensive or heavy serving, but the "tool-for-the-job" phenomenon is leaning towards the professionally developed Unices for these environments.
  • All right, I'll even accept that there are isolated cases of innovation in the OSS community.

    But aren't these really exceptions that prove the rule? What struck me about your original statement was that you seem to really believe that OSS is a fountain of innovation. I'm wondering if you really believe that, when it's (let's say) 90% imitation and 10% innovation (and I think I'm being pretty generous there).

    Now, this is not to say imitation does not provide useful tools. I use Linux everyday as a low-cost Unix development platform. But from where I sit at least, everything I use that is innovative came to me commercially.


  • if you can give me one good reason to have functional sound drivers on a server running HP-UX, I will let you do me nasty in the but.

    HP builds more than servers.

    One good reason for functional sound drivers on a HP/UX box:

    HP boxen are commonly used in SCADA systems. Chances are if I have a big industrial control system I would want said system to relay me as much information as possible. Using various signal tones and pitches would allow me to do this in a way that would be sure to catch my attention while I am busy surfing pr0n sites.

    I humbly decline your offer.

  • If they did release the information, and a competitor started using the same color correction algorithm, HP would have no way to know that that competitor had stolen the code and violated HP's copyright (since the competitor wouldn't open the source either).

    Sure they would. If they suspected some company, they could just reverse engineer the other company's driver. Microsoft got caught stealing Stacker code. Stacker took them to court and showed the judge that the assembly code was the same. Stacker was not a big company. If they can do it, surely HP can.

  • I found an excellent way for HP to keep their IP locked up tight and I still get excellent print: I bought a Lexmark Optra color 40, added 32MB of RAM, and said fsck it to HP.

    My Lexmark does PostScript level II in hardware, keeping my CPU usage to a minimum, and it cost less than $100 US.

    THIS kind of message is the only message that HP exec's will ever understand. You vote with your wallet every day; don't loose sight of that.

  • Ya, I posted this yesterday and it was rejected too. Oh well.

  • Join the club, I submitted it too and was rejected immediately. Note that it isn't attributed to anyone. I guess if you're Taco you're "in the know" and don't need to attribute stories like this to anyone.
  • That would have been cool, since everything he's posted has been modded up to +5.

    That way, my post would at least be at +3! ;)

  • Ah, but chances are that if you invested the money in real HP PA-RISC servers they you'd be wise to also have a management system running NNM/ITO (Openview) and have a nice big projection screen turn red if something went wrong. Most enterprises, banks, etc. Don't have someone anywhere near a machine;therefore, sound is a little pointless on a $1,000,000+ HP V-Class or SuperDome. BTW, Check out that SuperDome, SWEEEEEEEET.

  • by American AC in Paris ( 230456 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2000 @01:42AM (#579380) Homepage
    Are we sure this is the real HP? It could be an impostor...

    (no disrespect intended)

    $ man reality

  • Go look at Raff Lewin's open-licensed patent portfolio (someone find the link, please). He has a lot of good innovation in the computer graphics field, and he's one of the people I will contact because he's taken over Ghostscript.

    I think you can also go back to slashdot archives where this question has been asked and answered before. It turns out that we are not quite so immitative as you think.



  • >As for your comment about the story being rejected when you submitted it, I assume you just wrote that because you are frustrated?

    It might be due purely to the note that it's a person submitting an artical on himself.
  • I'm trying to think of something that the "folks" you refer to (meaning, I assume, the Open Source community) has improved the state of the art.

    Do we count things like bash (which most unix people seem to use) and autoconf and apt? or is the competition restricted to stuff like Freetype and Apache? (All of the above have improved the "state of the art" in the sense that there is at least one thing which each does better than any of the commonly available competition).
  • by Baldrson ( 78598 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2000 @02:33AM (#579384) Homepage Journal
    While he was at HP, Joe Ellsworth [pybiz.com] convinced me that IBM was going to support Linux well in advance of the Forbes magazine cover story on open source. That's what got me to create the LibmUX claim at Idea Futures back in July of 1998 [ideosphere.com] predicting that IBM would ship a Linux server before July of 1999. That turned out to be a month or two optimistic, but you have to understand that at the time, none of the suits really believed open source, let alone Linux, would be supported by the big server companies.

    In August of 1998, while at the first open source conference, I briefly talked with Tim O'Reilly about approaching Paul Allen's Interval Research concerning open source strategies. I had a few well placed contacts at Interval and I figured if Linus would go work for Allen, maybe it was appropriate that Allen's think tank get in the act. However, it turned out that my contact with Joe was more important than my contact with Interval.

    Joe Ellsworth's foresignt at HP turned out to be critical to HP's participation with open source -- something I think he should have received more credit for initiating. Joe knew it would be very difficult if not impossible to get Idea Futures [ideosphere.com] set up as an executive decision support system within HP, so predictions like my (his) LibmUX claim weren't enough to establish priority for open source ideas within HP.

    Nevertheless, we did discuss the idea of setting up prize awards for achievement of various open source objectives and after the first open source conference, Joe took that idea and ran with it within HP management, as well as contacting O'Reilly. The end result of his effort was a meeting with representatives of O'Reilly Associates on the same day that I departed for Russia. In fact, I walked Joe to the first meeting with Brian Behlendorf on my way out to catch Aeroflot. Joe thought he had convinced key managers of the HP-UX division to put up almost $10 million in a variety of open source awards that would have systematically converted all of HP-UX's administrative utilities to Linux as a way of channeling the growing base of Apache servers into the HP family of large servers. It was a great positive sum vision that I still think would have worked. In fact, I was convinced enough of its merit that I was traveling to Russia, on my own nickle, to discover what the impediments might be from the perspective of the Russian Academy of Sciences, to distributing prize awards in Russia for open source projects should HP actually come through with some major award money. The RAS desperately needed (and still needs) hard cash for their programming teams. That meeting with O'Reilly went well and my meeting with the RAS folks got their interest up and exposed some of the pragmatics of distributing such prize awards in Russia.

    Fortunately, I presented the Russians with a lot of caveats, knowing how often they have been let down by Americans before. I say "fortunately" because support within HP with O'Reilly quickly went a fairly different direction than Joe (or I) had envisioned. For some reason, HP decided not to fund prizes for the massive translation of HP-UX utilities to Linux, and what money was available for prize awards was limited to US participants. Also, for some reason, Joe was not kept as the lead representative in the relationship with O'Reilly Associates and the rules governing the Open Awards program were substantially altered from the original internal white paper on the concept.

    I don't know the status of all of this, lo these 2 years later, but its pretty clear to me the entire open source community could benefit from a way to set up objective prize awards, with provision for second and third place contenders. That way programming teams in developing (or recovering) economies can eat and (in the case of Russia) keep from freezing in the winter as they bring their manifest skills to bear on open source.

  • in some cases you may be able to command the device to destroy itself

    Interesting :)
  • I'm responding to the drivel above inorder to burn off excess karma points.

    It's either this way or losing them via meta-moderation. This is faster. Meta-moderation requires that I actually have moderator points and it takes a while for that to cycle around.

    Oh, and I'll leave my +1 bonus on for extra effect.
  • Well, I wrote the original parody; the original song is by Eminem, ("Will the Real Slim Shady Please Stand Up") and if you really want to know my secret identity...

    Well, I don't care if you credit it to "Will The Real Bruce Perens Please Stand Up"; otherwise, I could set up yet another free e-mail account or something.

    But yes, whatever you decide, please rap it, and post the link. :)
  • Actually, I'd rather Eric Raymond and Bruce Perens didn't presume to speak for the open source or free software movement. Remember when Bruce posted a crass email from Eric Raymond and called the police?

    Yeah, what use is getting a widely used toolkit freed if you're ever going to display any character flaws?
  • I suppose you've never heard of HP printers? HP electronic equipment? They're are hardly "patent-able first, usable second".

    Well, my girlfriend has an HP Deskjet 710C, and there are patents on it, and it is barely useable under Linux (no colour, for example). So he's not entirely wrong.
  • on this one page they claim Linux support for their new HP 2200/2250 printers: Wider operating system compatibility (Yeah, right) [hp.com] The only pity is that the base model, the 2200, does not and will probably not ever get supported, as it's another variation of a WinPrinter. HP keeps sending me those automated responses, but so far they haven't fixed the lies on that page (Like "Lower printing costs"). I don't think I'll ever buy HP again.
  • You probably are!
  • ...the lack of respect that online media really gets. Maybe respect is a bad choice of words but it's Monday so I'll explain: While it is true that online publications are the minority, their contribution to the journalism "scene" seems to be minimized by traditional journalists who are afraid because anyone with just a AOL account (and 2 free megs of hosted space) can get as much attention as the NY Times. Decentralization of content publication is as worrysome to traditional print media as Napster is to the record labels. Anyone else see the parallels between RIAA v Napster and Mattel v That Guy Who Criticized Them On His Web Page? Anyway, The IOC doesn't see any online rags (not counting ABC, CNN, MSNBC and other traditional news franchises) as reputable, established news sources. I just hope in 10 years this conclusion comes back to bite them in the ass... we can all guess at how everything will change by then.
  • by Dr. Tom ( 23206 ) <tomh@nih.gov> on Tuesday December 05, 2000 @06:51PM (#579393) Homepage
    PPA printers are like Winmodems; they offload processing to the host CPU, so are cheaper to manufacture, and cost (a tiny bit; $$) less to buy. HP has repeatedly, consistently, and officially refused to release the info required to write PPA drivers, because the advanced color correction done by the driver contains valuable HP intellectual property that they don't want to release.

    I can see their point. If they did release the information, and a competitor started using the same color correction algorithm, HP would have no way to know that that competitor had stolen the code and violated HP's copyright (since the competitor wouldn't open the source either). The assurances of large companies that they do not violate licenses like the GPL apparently are not enough for HP.

    If only there were a way to enforce their copyright without resorting to expensive reverse-engineering and legal battles, that would clear the way for HP (and many other companies) to release Open Source products. Are there any technical solutions? How can you know if somebody is using your code in violation of the GPL?

    Meanwhile, fortunately for PPA owners, a rather good reverse-engineering effort has resulted in a working Linux driver that has been included in several distributions:

    http://sourceforge.net/projects/pnm2ppa/ [sourceforge.net]

    Keep up the good work!

  • Yeah right. Ever try to code sound on an HP/UX box? It's just yet another freaky, crufty Unix implementation, and it's weirder than most. When their passwd file gets corrupted, and they drop you to a prompt that says "Warning: you are SUPERUSER!", well... you'll be laughing too. Besides, HP has gotten Linux to run on HP hardware as well. But don't trust me; just see what HP migrates to...
  • i Know a way to gte a modurator to slap me a good one.

    rite a dum mesage weth lats o' spellign arrows.

    Maibe reffer to uthers bad gramer? What do you, think.
  • by SETY ( 46845 )
    I wish Agilent was still part of HP. Or Agilent would get a similiar open source rep. When I pay $100's of K for a test-set and it doesn't support Linux or have some type of open source driver I get rather pissed off. I would sure like to see this change.
    Unfortunately Agilent and Anritsu make the best stuff, so there is no choice really.

  • Don't knock printers, they're damned important.

    No. Paper-pushing is dead. You aren't going to build a multi-billion dollar business on a dead market with no margins.

    Despite your blind assertion that printers are dead (what planet are you from?), I think the point was that even if HP is riding on its printers, the fact that it can do so is evidence that HP could still be a major force if they got behind Linux and started doing things as well as they do their printers.

    In other words, the printers are enough to keep paying attention to HP.

  • Nice try, troll. But associating the *huge* printing industry with Win2k isn't going to fly. The call of the paperless office has been ringing for more than a decade, and there has been no significant change in paper usage, except *upwards*. Also, here [yahoo.com] you will see Micron Tech's stock over the same time period. While not matching exactly, the curve is pretty daggon close to HP's, and Micron just had their most profitable quarter ever, by far. What does that prove? Just that yet again stock price is a poor judge of a CEO's ability to lead a company, or their performance, either one.
  • It's no brainer that if printing text is important to you, you're using [La|Te]TeX -> dvi -> PostScript -- which works best on a UNIX, hands down.

    Color printing is bit tougher, but that's why Kinko's (et al) is open 24 hours...

  • Either you're a troll, or you've never *actually* worked in an office environment. Most of they companies I've worked for spend millions on printers. Everything from lowly inkjets for exec's who can't be bothered to walk out of thier office to pick up their print jobs, to monster ass network laser printers for the rest of us working stiffs to share.

    Finish your degree kid and get a job. The world isn't as simple as you think.
  • Are you sure that it's the REAL Bruce Perens? I think that the one in the article has Slashdot Id #3873- he must be an imposter...
  • If a year isn't brief, what would be short enough? A month? Does anybody who is halfway serious act as a VC for a month?

    Also, I thought you were joking when you said you submitted it twice. Are you saying you really did submit it twice? You're freakin me out.

  • It happens that I bought one too. That message is not lost within HP.


  • you use unix to COMPILE KERNELS and use emacs, not to listen to sound

    Apple Computer and this here Mac OS X box disagree with that sentiment... and anyway, unless it's *BSD, you won't be compiling kernels on a "real" Unix. Unless you've shelled out da BIG BUCKS for a source license. Or Solaris, I just remembered, the source is available for that I guess.

    As for sound and multimedia and "real Unix" ever heard of IRIX? Mac OS X (as I already mentioned)? No? Oh well...

    Supreme Lord High Commander of the Interstellar Task Force for the Eradication of Stupidity

  • Even more amazingly, they make more money on printer supplies than they do on the printers themselves.
  • I'm not talking legality - I didn't say SEC, law, or must. I'm talking journalistic integrity. I said "should." If you write about a company in any way, negative or positive, and you are a shareholder in it or one of it's competitors mentioned in your writing, you should state this plainly.
  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday December 05, 2000 @09:25PM (#579407) Homepage Journal
    We need interface documentation first. Given interface documentation anyone can make a binary driver. There is no reason you can't have Open Source drivers, they would just not have the same algorithms HP uses for color correction and resolution enhancement, but what we can do is good enough.



  • by grant12345 ( 261196 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2000 @09:27PM (#579408) Homepage
    So I guess this is good news, although it seems to me to be an example of the whole "executives listen to consultants before they'll listen to employees (or g*d forbid customers)" syndrome. Clearly only progress can come from this, so it's a good thing.

    In any case, until said progress arrives, people ought to take stock of those companies that offer better support for free software users, and buy products from them. HP makes all sorts of things (reasonable mid-range LAN euipment, workstations, etc) but as I mainly know printers, here's what I know about the industry as things stand right now:

    • Epson provides publically available developer information [ercipd.com] for their printers, scanners, etc. Epson inkjets, therefore, work extraordinarily well using free software drivers [sourceforge.net].
    • Lexmark provides binary RH Linux-x86-only drivers for two representative inkjets. They're klunky, and they're nonfree, but they do work, and they do represent a gimmer of actual Linux support.
    • Of the reverse-engineering-reuired inkjets, HP is the best understood, followed by Canon, followed by Lexmark. None, of course, is at all well understood in absolute terms, although the gimp-print folks are rapidly absorbing support and developers from other projects.

    As always, if you want to know anything about the state of free software printer support, consult www.linuxprinting.org [linuxprinting.org]. Particularly apropos are my vendor scorecards [linuxprinting.org] and suggested printers [linuxprinting.org] pages.

  • Well, that's the real trick with these inkjet printers at least.. you buy the printer and then you have to buy the supplies because the cartridge runs out after 5 pages. Companies that make inkjet (and some cheap laser) printers make BOATLOADS off of the supplies, much more than they made off selling the printers themselves.

    They're not going to want to lose that revenue stream any time soon. :>

    Of course, if someone made a printer that could take anybody's printer cartridge that would be interesting.. but then you'd see the patent lawyers going crazy too.

  • To anyone who thinks that printing is not important... they should work printer tech support for a little while. I did that for HP for over a year, and people become VERY HOT when they can't print for any reason. It is truly scary. I've had instances where I just answered the call and without my saying a word the person on the other end is screaming, crying, yelling, curssing, threatening legal action, and asking to speak to everyone from my supervisor to the CEO. I think it's important to those people. And many other 'normal' people. Cheers, Jason
  • How about this new HPA High Performance Architecture on the Business Inkjet 2200?
    They may talk about opening intefaces, but meanwhile they keep reinventing the winprinter.
    This HPA appears to do the rasterizing in the driver and then send that compressed to the printer.
    Could someone with programming experience tell me how much work it would be to implement that in Linux, if HP actually released some specs on it? It doesn't sound as hopeless as a regular GDI printer, does it?
  • Why not just document the hardware interfaces and let outsiders do the drivers? That would sure work best for Linux, and you know, might even be better for other systems as well.



  • Didn't the RF design software go to Agilent when it was spun off? Bdale of Debian fame is over there.

    I hadn't heard that, although I suppose you would know better than I would :). Thank gods somebody in open source can influence where the RF design software runs.

    I do want to work on wireless, though. 802.11, Bluetooth, and wireless WAN are probably in my future.

    This is very good news indeed.

    The Free ODMG Project [sourceforge.net] needs volunteers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, 2000 @05:30PM (#579414)
    "He criticized HP for holding on to the source code for its printer drivers, and for not releasing printer interface specifications, thus hindering development of drivers ported to other operating systems, namely Linux and the BSDs.

    Not only that, but he asked HP either to kill its HP-UX operating system and replace it with Linux, or just Open Source the Unix splinter. He finished up the letter with this warning: "You'll also find that we're rather cynical about ringing endorsements; we've heard those before without result, and they won't earn you a lot of cred by themselves without actions and commitments that back them up."

    He's focusing on opening up options for users. Will he have any kind of authority/ear of senior managment? Somebody there must have grabbed him because they have ideas for making open source profitable for HP
  • Note the "." before the name. Another Bruce impostor.


  • perhaps they are finally starting to see the light?

    this seems seriously strange for a company who designs things that are patent-able first, usable second. perhaps someday i may consider buying an HP product if they straighten out....

    bad command or file name
  • That would be:

    http://hp.sourceforge.net [sourceforge.net]

    Jaap Vermeulen
  • Didn't the RF design software go to Agilent when it was spun off? Bdale of Debian fame is over there. I do want to work on wireless, though. 802.11, Bluetooth, and wireless WAN are probably in my future.


  • by lambda ( 4236 )
    Wasn't it a printer that got RMS mad in the first place?
  • That's why they make all their money off of the ink cartridges!
  • Exactly. The Real Bruce Perens has some low UID or something, and doesn't post anonymously and stuff.

    And I haven't seen him posting on this SID yet, but we'll see.

    Incidentally, I'm the guy who originally notified him about "Bruce Perens.", the original impostor. Weird, eh?
  • Hey Bruce,

    Can you make them understand that HP-OpenView is not *open*? They are very disillusioned about that product of theirs.
  • A beowulf cluster of Bruce Perens. troll accounts on slashdot...

    Oh wait...that happened over a year ago.
  • Hey, I submitted it too and it was rejected!

    Of course, it probably bothered you more since the story was about you. :)
  • SGI + XRX = HWP

    Thats all you need to know about this complete dud of a company. I don't really think Perens is going to have any impact on this Silicon Valley dinosaur.

    For the last ten years HP has been a day late and a dollar short on just about any interesting innovation you can think about, with dwindling marketshare and nonexistant mindshare in unix systems.

    So how have they been paying the bills? Printers. Sad but true, this tech titan is nothing more than a paper pusher. Carly has done an excellent job dragging the stock through the mud and now people are taking their money over to SUNW where at least someone understands how to market a product that has some margins of interest. I expect Sun to effectively push HP out of the server room within four years, with IBM and Compaq picking up the scraps

  • LinuxWorld does a profile and interview with BP: "Filmmaker, Linux hacker, and ham radio geek, Bruce Perens is one of the quirkiest figures in the open source and free software communities. He's as famous for resigning from high-profile projects in high dudgeon as he is for founding them. He helped to set up Software in the Public Interest, the Linux Standard Base, and the Open Source Initiative -- and he has left them all. This is his side of those stories -- and a few more." A rather good interview in that they get ESR and RMS to clarify some points made and some titbits about the OSI debacle etc are thrown up in the air.

    The Original Upstart [linuxworld.com] is a great piece, highly recommended reading.

  • Hi Flavio,

    The lack of printer drivers (and by extension, other hardware drivers) is the number one thing I'm hearing about from the community. I have now collected a mandate from one division to deal with it, and will work on another division tomorrow. Right now you can look at hp.sourceforge.com and a second effort on sourceforge that deals with HP printers, but possibly not the printers you want. I will probably have to visit the printer divisions in Ohio and Washington state to talk with people. My desire is that all HP hardware interfaces be open and documented. Obviously, I will have to evangelize that within the company. I will have something to say, and something to show, at LinuxWorld in NY, but will not have finished with the issue by then. It could take much longer. In some cases documentation doesn't exist, in some cases you may be able to command the device to destroy itself, in some cases the existing Windows driver contains other people's proprietary IP, not just HPs, etc. So, this will be a pain to deal with, but it'll get done.



  • but you'd get good enough and knowing you folks, you could improve on the state of the art.

    I find this statement interesting. I'm trying to think of something that the "folks" you refer to (meaning, I assume, the Open Source community) has improved the state of the art. I simply can't think of anything. Just about everything in the OSS community is imitative of commercial software.

    Do you have a particular example in mind? I suppose TeX, but that's really the work of one unique genius, and leaves a LOT to be desired in the user friendliness dept, which is why it has only influenced the industry, but does not lead it. Significant, but you can hardly call it state of the art compared to what is commercially available (although I'm sure there are some particular bells/whistles that somebody could name).


  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday December 05, 2000 @07:20PM (#579436) Homepage Journal
    The Free Software community is well able to come up with its own color correction. This is a well-known art, with lots of technical papers published on it. You might not get color correction as good as what HP does, but you'd get good enough and knowing you folks, you could improve on the state of the art. What we need is to be able to send raw pixels to the printers, something that does not require the disclosure of HP's color correction algorithm. So, I don't really consider this a reason to keep from releasing a printer driver.



  • Hmm. While generally the HP hardware has been fine and I haven't had any problems with it, the drivers have been complete crap. Forget shaky Linux support; they have shaky Windows support. The printer driver takes 80-90% CPU on my Pentium II 266 just to print a normal page. My old Canon took around 5-10% CPU to do the same thing. The scanner's drivers are utter crap - half the time you have to reinstall them before scanning will work, and if you use multiple Windows users you have to install the drivers/software from each user's login because of the retarded way it stores info in the registry. The CD burner had this minor little bug in that it didn't recognize CD-R's, whether blank or already burned that luckily was fixed in a firmware update by the time I had bought it. You'd think recognizing CD-R's would be a somewhat important feature to have in a CD burner.

    So in short: HP has some quality hardware but need to hire some programmers who can write drivers.

  • Are you an investor in HP? An investor in another company mentioned in your post? If so you should disclose this in your post.

    You've been watching too much Matlock.

    Bitching about a stock, or company management is not tantamount to stock manipulation, which you would know if you really had any idea what you are talking about when it comes to disclosures.

  • by Ars-Fartsica ( 166957 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2000 @08:26PM (#579441)
    But I'm surrounded by people at work who print everything.

    Okay, I'll say it again so you have it clear - its a dead business because margins are incredibly thin. A company like HP can't stay afloat long with printer margins.

  • I don't think any corporation can be considered Open Source friendly until we can see some actual open source code.
  • OK, I've made your day.

    IMO, Linux' role can only increase. With that said, some things will take years,



  • Just that yet again stock price is a poor judge of a CEO's ability to lead a company, or their performance, either one.

    So how do you judge a CEO's abilities. considering that growth, revenues, profits, etc are factored into the stock price.

    Why do you think Chambers and Gates are obsessed with market caps? Simple - market cap is everything. No other measure matters for a publically traded stock.

  • Hi Grant,

    I'm not a consultant. I'm an employee. I've got a badge and everything :-)

    Nice job on the printers pages.



  • That wasn't me, you got duped by "." Bruce, the impostor. Remember to look at the user ID number.


  • How do you know that such things exist at all?

    Rather than chase down every flavor of operating system, shouldn't I just get the interfaces documented so that people can write their own drivers?



  • Yes, there was constant immitation a while back. But the .signature itself became a sort of joke, and something that was itself widely imitated. And now people everywhere refer to me as the "real" Bruce Perens. I guess this is the price of our nerdy flavor of near-fame. I don't bother myself about it too much.



  • And I'll say it again: Are you sure the margins are thin? Do you have some evidence of that? I suspect the margins are not that bad.

    I talked to one of the buyers today at work and he told me the price on the wide-format HP color printer we use. It's horrendously expensive, even though the technology is the same as their better consumer level inkjets - it uses the same ink cartridges, but the print head moves 4 feet instead of 9 inches. There is obviously a large margin on the high-end stuff. And the markup on those ink cartridges is huge too.

    It's just like Intel - there's little margin on Celerons, but they make the money on the high end Xeon chips which only a little more to manufacture.

    Torrey Hoffman (Azog)
  • I am more interested in documenting the interfaces, because I think that the Free Software folks do best writing their own drivers. You will, however, see a lot of Free Software written by HP people on salary.



  • by Livn4Golf ( 83604 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2000 @05:36PM (#579455) Homepage
    This appeared on Bruce's site Technocrat.net [technocrat.net] yesterday. It also links to a Cnet article [cnet.com] on the topic.

    Bruce sez: "There are two parts to the job. I get to be an activist in the Linux community, on company time, and speak for myself when necessary. And I get to advise top management. There are three people between Carly (the chairman) and I. So, I'll be a pretty effective bridge between the Open Source community and HP management." Here's the link [technocrat.net].

  • That is the most crazy thing I have ever heard. HP-UX is not trying to be a desktop operating system so no S*IT that it would be hard to code sound on an HPUX machine. For goodness sake 95% of the machines that HPUX runs on don't even have Video Cards let alone sound cards. I've been using Linux for 5 years and HPUX for 3. As far as Unix operating systems go HPUX kicks Linux's ass every single time for Servers. You have to remember that while HPUX does work on workstations it is at home on servers that Linux could only dream of working on. HP's direction towards Linux is one of choice, they see it being important on their low-end A-Class and perhaps L-Class hardware not to mention their Intel and PA-RISC workstations. Linux has a long long way to go before it can be used in an enterprise server for anything. I work as a Solution Architect/Senior Consultant for a large Canadian Solutions company and I build ISPs and Web Hosting environments for a living and can tell you that Linux does not belong in an environment of the scale that I build. Linux doesn't have the maturity of an HPUX,Solaris or AIX. HPUX is easily, for an enterprise, my Unix of choice. It is WAAAAAAAAY more resilient than Linux will ever be. I mean there is no standard journaling file system for Linux, no Volume Manager, these are the tools that make an enterprise Unix solution. To take it to the limit, on an HPUX machine with "Online JFS" I can resize a logical volume without even umounting the file system!

    As for your passwd corruption issue, while I have no idea why your passwd file would be corrupting I can assure you that what it did was most likely put the system into single user mode. HPUX says "Warning: You are Superuser" whenever you are in single user mode or login to the machine as "root," as opposed to su to root. No harm as you'd have to do that on a Linux box, that is if the Linux box would even let you in with a corrupted passwd file.

    As for HPUX being weirder than most it's more common to Linux than Solaris is. Solaris is wacky! :)

  • So how have they been paying the bills? Printers. Sad but true, this tech titan is nothing more than a paper pusher.

    Don't knock printers, they're damned important. If you can't get a decent printer to work with your Linux box, you can't move your office to Linux. I say good luck to Bruce, and by the way, here's hoping he can get some of those printer drivers working on Linux. And maybe, while he's at it, their RF design software.

    The Free ODMG Project [sourceforge.net] needs volunteers.

  • "More than a year" is a heck of a lot less than the decades that most career VCs put in.

    Yeah. It was long enough to be sure that I was wasting my time, this time. I remain in touch with a bunch of VCs, from Opticality Ventures (the Zope and Python investor) to HP's own venture fund, and yes, some of them have been in this for a long time.

    Depending on who reads the submission, and what else they've read that day, and what their mood is, anything can get accepted or rejected.

    Not such a great system IMO.

    I submitted on Wednesday and Monday.

    Besides, don't you think it looks a little less like self-promotion if the article is submitted by someone else?

    Indeed. But sometimes there is something gained in getting the news from the source.



  • I will be in touch with you folks, and will try to do a bit better than you've seen so far.



  • No, as is usually the case with such trolls, we mean only things which fit within criteria generated on the fly by the asker to exclude any free projects which might interfere with his view of the world. For instance, (see above) it must not be the work of a single genius but rather the work of a bunch of mediocre people (which immediately reduces the chances to almost nil), it must be user-friendly, ...

    Kinda like the people who posture about how free software programmers will never write games -- when confronted with the hundreds of available games which are already free software, they start posturing about how free games are inferior because they aren't the sorts of games they were thinking of. But that's another rant.

  • Do you still have that PA-RISC box? You are no longer SOL. Write me and we can talk about your options.

    Regarding open-sourcing HP-UX, I think right now it makes more sense for me to put energy into Linux on PA-RISC. But if I have to seed a few HP-UX licenses into the community, nobody at HP will complain about that.



  • My main goal is to disclose hardware interface documentation so that the Linux folks can write (and improve) their own drivers.



  • Invention is always the exception to the rule everywhere. Not just in Open Source software.

    And yes, we've started by catching up with everybody else by cloning them, which was necessary. We are at the point now that we've pretty much caught up.



  • > I'll need a retainer for that.

    No need.

    http://www.levien.com/patents.html [levien.com]

    But also look at gimp-print [sourceforge.net] for a very impressive example of what a "pure" free software project is capable of. What Bruce said originally is true - all we (the free software community) needs is the basic documents about how to get the dots on the page, and we can do a damn fine job of arranging them. I believe "intellectual property" is a non-issue for getting inkjet drivers under Linux.
  • by grant12345 ( 261196 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2000 @11:47PM (#579476) Homepage
    Indeed. It's particularly interesting when you observe that the gimp-print framework will be able to print--rather well--on inkjets from various competing manufacturers using the same dithering/color code. When free software has leveled the "software-driven color quality" playing field (which really is pretty level as is for the big players, just with lots of duplicated effort to keep up with the Joneses) it will be interesting to see where manufacturers begin to differentiate instead. Mechanism quality? Operating cost? They certainly seem to be running out of room for improvement in the raw dot size and placement arena; the best HP has managed recently is the Detroit route of thirteen different trims for each actual model (most of the others have only half-heartedly followed thus far, but Epson's got a card-reading Stylus, and further daft SKUs are probably going to show up from the rest soon).

    I'd love to see a new mechanism arrive without the various disadvantages of current low-cost printing, but heck if I can find anything likely on the horizon. It's just a hard problem to do laserlike black, dye-sub-like photos, and sharp, accurate spot color on plain paper from the same printer... The industry has done wonderful (heck, almsot miraculous!) things by spinning on the inkjet concept, but as a techie, I'd love to see the spinning repeated on another technology.

  • Excellent.

    It gets kinda dull down here, talking to the other impostors. (".Bruce Perens" is almost as annoying as "Bruce Perens." was originally)

    Incidentally, I was the one who noticed "Bruce Perens." in the first place; if you've still got the e-mail, then you know my secret identity!

    I agree with you about Linux, but it's nice to see the heavyweights getting behind it. After the GUI Wars, it's nice to see them agree on anything. Heartening, even.
  • by dragonfly_blue ( 101697 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2000 @05:41PM (#579479) Homepage
    I'm personally very happy to see one of the brightest, most motivated, active, and honest people I know find himself in such high demand. Congrats, Bruce!

    I have been working with QT lately, and it simply would not have been possible to develop free/GPL'ed software using QT without Bruce's beautifully diplomatic persuasion of Trolltech. He is a true scholar and an eloquent statesman of the first caliber.

  • by ajv ( 4061 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2000 @12:52AM (#579480) Homepage
    I'm one of the leads on pnm2ppa. We have had several leads with HP since I joined the project last year. This is the most comprehensive reply from HP on their position wrt PPA printers [listbot.com].

    I've asked some of the original protocol developers and they don't have access to the documentation anymore. I've asked some of my friends who work at HP, and their access to the places where this doco is stored came up empty.

    I've asked maddog via his Linux International link (of which HP is also a primary sponsor) to talk to HP for us, but never received a reply. He's a busy dude, so I didn't mind too much.

    PPA printers are well supported using pnm2ppa 1.0.4. Usuable versions are in most of the distributions now, and we are FreeBSD/NetBSD/BeOS compatible (and for that matter, cygwin and simple to make under Visual C++). I develop under NetBSD on the alpha, and it's 64 bit clean.

    About the last thing I'm going to work on is ghostscript integration. We need some help from the ghostscript dudes as we must calibrate our printers, so that should be fun.

    PPA printers do use a lot of CPU time. We feed the printer data that is ready for the print head - there is nearly nothing in the three families of PPA printers. The sheer amount of data is uneconomical from the point of view of how fast you can send data down, and the level of compression we can achieve in the protocol is only moderate in comparison to PS or PCL3e (which is what the other HP deskjets use).

  • by Galvatron ( 115029 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2000 @01:17AM (#579481)
    Of course, when you use a term like "brief," with no objective meaning, anything can be considered brief depending on what it's compared to. In this case, I don't think it's much of a stretch at all. "More than a year" is a heck of a lot less than the decades that most career VCs put in.

    I think what CmdrTaco was saying was that you did some VC work, but you didn't make a career out of it. I mean heck, I've had temp jobs that have lasted for as much as four months, a year really isn't that long a time to spend in a profession.

    As for your comment about the story being rejected when you submitted it, I assume you just wrote that because you are frustrated? Depending on who reads the submission, and what else they've read that day, and what their mood is, anything can get accepted or rejected. For that matter, how long ago did you submit? Maybe they'd already decided once to post this story before your submission came through. I had a story wait in limbo for over a week before being posted once, and another time I had a story get rejected less than ten minutes after being submitted. Besides, don't you think it looks a little less like self-promotion if the article is submitted by someone else?

Nothing is finished until the paperwork is done.