Subject: Java/Linux NC Project
Date: Fri, 30 Jan 1998 11:35:42 GMT


Fellow Dreamers,

We're launching a massive Java and Linux based NC project that is
a first of a kind effort to help both technologies win the
PC market with a unique strategy. The long term goal of this project
is to create a viable alternative to Microsoft technologies *specifically*
in the home PC market. Currently we have a few people committed to this
project, but we need more. This effort is unique in several ways,
including the fact that it involves working on GPL'ed as well as
non-GPL'ed code. Please see end of this article for more about this.

The project has following objectives -

  * It will provide *every* application a typical Win98 user will need 
with Java applications with *same* quality. This includes everything 
that can be found in the *Start* menu of a Win95 box today without the 
additionally installed applications. Notepad, Control Panel, other 
accessories, everything. In addition, it will also provide other  popular
applications that lot of users need such as browser  (Netscape), mail
reader, Office suite, Quicken, etc. I'm sure you get  the idea. For any
of these applications, if they already exist under  GPL, we intend to use

   * *All* applications will be supplied *free of charge* to the user.

  * A web site will be developed that will serve the applications over
the  net.

  * An existing Win98 user will be able to access the applications in two
 ways. First, she will have a choice to physically install all the 
applications on her PC. In second scenario, she will simply depend on 
her PC being connected to the internet to access all the applications. 
Both scenarios are explained below. In both the cases, the compelling 
reason we offer her to turn her PC into a sort of a NC is that, once  she
uses *our* desktop settings and applications, she will be able to  access
*her* desktop settings from virtually any other Win98 PC, *as  well as*
non-Win98 PCs. No matter where she is logged on from, once  she logs on
to our site, it turns her desktop on her *current machine*  into her *own
desktop*, with access to all the applications,	preferences, etc. While
we will definitely support a Win98 box as a  desktop, the only
alternative desktop that can give same functionality  will be a Linux
one, thus pushing it as a viable alternative to Win98.	Read more about
this below.

  * In first scenario, I envision a typical user to go through following 
steps. She has a Win98 box. But since *all* the applications she needs 
are also available on our web site free of charge, *and they are  equally
good or better*, she decides to use our apps instead of the  default ones
for the reason that her entire desktop will then be  available from
anywhere in the world, hopefully from *any other* kind	of machine. She
visits the site and gets an account. She is offered  with three types of
desktop choices. First is the same as her Win98  look and feel, second is
a *very simple* desktop which can be used as  an alternative for people
who just hate too many choices (more about  this below), and third is a
KDE kind of environment suitable for an  experienced Unix user. Let's
assume that she picks the Win98 look and  feel ;-(. At this time, we give
her a choice to install *all the apps*	that can be accessed on her Win98
box and that are also available as  Java apps on our site on her machine.
If she goes with this *default*  choice, we simply serve our setup applet
that goes through her entire  settings, picks the one that can be
replaced, offers her a choice to  see the final list and pick
directories, etc., and that's it. The  setup program automatically
downloads and installs all the apps, and  she is done. The setup also
saves her desktop settings, including the  ones like bookmarks, etc. on
her account on our web site. She can now  run her new apps without
connecting to the net.

   * In second scenario, everything remains same, except the desktop
     settings are altered so that certain apps she wanted to be replaced
     now point to the appropriate app on our site. MS is proudly claiming
     that the desktop now is integrated with the web. Let's use that fact.
     In this scenario, she just has to connect to the net and login to our
     web site in order for her to use this app.

  * In either case above, when she logs in to our site from another PC,
or  say a Linux box, we simply detect it when she logs in and clicks on 
*My Desktop* (or whatever), and alter her desktop to become exactly  same
as her home PC. Whatever apps we can serve, we do. Others, we  don't and
somehow visually indicate that they are not accessible. Say  she had a
PhotoShop installed on her PC and we don't have an  equivalent app on our
site yet. Or even if we do have one but she had  chosen not to use it, we
just visually indicate that either we are  serving another one, or we can
not serve one at all.

   * While offering this scenario, we'll also push Linux as the *only*
     non-Win98 machine that can access your desktop settings by modifying
     one of the GPL'ed WM's. Hopefully eventually all WM's on Linux will
     let us *configure* them on the fly, so the user can get her desktop
     look and feel chosen by her initially. This will be a *very good way*
     to push Linux as a strong alternative to Win98.

  * The second type of desktop I mentioned above is meant for a niche 
market of senior citizens. I imagine that if someone wants to set up a 
desktop for her mom or dad, it would be ideal to have a following kind 
of desktop. As soon as the user logs in, she is presented with a  desktop
with four big tabs on the left or top - email, web, word proc,	advanced.
That's it. All the applications are instantly running when  the user
boots the machine. No login, nothing. The advanced tab can  get them to
menus other apps if needed. As soon as user clicks on  email or web, if
the machine is not connected to the net, it pops up a  box to connect.
The person who bought the PC should also have a  *really easy* way to set
this up. This solution can definitely be sold  on Linux, IMO. I know my
mom and dad would just love it, and I would  happily buy it form them.
This can also be publicized as a way to sell  those P200 boxes that will
become real cheap and old by next year.  Anyway, with this, they can even
use a pre-installed Win98 box and  have same functionality. So even if
they *did* decide to go with  Win98, we won't lose *everything*.

For this, we'll first need a whole bunch of Java applications that
satisfy 90% of population's needs.  These will include pretty much
everything that KDE team has developed, except the WM. Instead of
develping our own WM, we could modify a GPL'ed WM. (I hear Enlightenment
is quite configurable.) In terms of applications, along with other small
utilities, we'll also develop a full blown Java Office Suite that can
compete with MS Office. MS has recently announced that their future
Office formats will be XML based and open. Let's make use of that fact.
As for the browser and mail reader, we could use Netscape. We'd also need
 to develop apps like PhotoShop, Quicken, etc. In some cases, we could go
with already developed apps if needed.

What does this strategy mean really? With this, we are acknowledging that
it's not going to be easy replacing Win98 as a *pre-installed* OS. So we
work assuming Win98 is installed. If and when we get them hooked to a
non-Win98 desktop applications and environment, offering Linux as an
alternative becomes a lot easier job. So in parallel, we also work with
other groups to make Linux much easier to install for PC manufacturers.
Also, by offering a Win98 look and feel desktop even on Linux, or any
other box that runs Java for that matter, we also offer a migration path
to existing Win98 users. We'll also work on Linux to make it the best and
yet cheapest client machine. By making configurable desktop available
only on Win98 and Linux (say using enlightenment) Linux will become the
next best, if not the only, alternative. If the site becomes popular,
we'll also continuously advertise Linux as the alternate choice of OS to
support the cause.

Wait, there's more! I'd like to start this as a NON-GPL'ed project. And
for some *very good* reasons. I'm launching a commercial organization, a
company, that will distribute significant portions of its stock within
the developers who work on this. There's a lot more you should read about
this before dismissing it, and so I *urge* you to read why we think so
here at We'd first like to gather
30 or so developers, who wish to join the project, to also brainstorm and
improvise on this idea. We're offering significant stock options to these
first 30 developers. I'd also like to encourage those who have had
significant experience on net based (GPL'ed) projects to join as team
leaders. BTW, almost every aspect of this is same as a GPL'ed project
that you'd be working on (in your spare time, etc.), except that it won't
be GPL'ed and you'll have a huge potential for a payoff for your efforts.

Remember that this is a long term strategy and the very first step is to
create the Java apps. So the more Java gurus join us, the better. *Don't
let the fact that Java is a memory hog or slow today turn you off.* We are
betting on future environment where net access will be very fast and Java
will compete with C++ in all respects. And long term strategy is what we
need to beat MS. Just hoping that people will choose Linux, or worse,
blaming MS, is definitely not gonna do it. If you share our views and
strategy, and would like to join us, send me an email at


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