A Surprise Quiz

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Do not open the test booklet until instructed to do so. Take out your pencils and read the question silently while I read it aloud to you. You will be graded on the completeness and accuracy of your answers, and spelling counts.

You may begin now.

  1. Does binary compatibility matter as much as we think it does?
  2. Should kernel level instrumentation applications have the ability to crash a system?
  3. Is the primary purpose of Community vs Enterprise distinctions to monetize or upsell community users/developers?
  4. Is evangelist the right word for the Jeff Barr’s and Jon Udell’s of the world?
  5. Is DRM a technology with a future?
  6. Do (non-Windows) platforms need to be open source to compete effectively?
  7. Is open source a potentially predatory competitive tactic?
  8. Is forking necessarily ‘good’ or ‘bad’?
  9. Are DSCM’s replacing SCM’s as tools of choice?
  10. Are we making progress in solving the package management problem?

Time is now up. Pencils down. Please bring manila envelope with answer sheets to the front of the class.


  1. 1) Only for end-users
    2) I’m gonna say no. Further, I’m going to say that probably no applications *should* have the ability to crash a system
    3) No
    4) No, how about Techno-excavators? Uncovering nuggets of juicy computer goodness for the masses… like truffle pigs.
    5) Yes, for locking people into a platform. I just signed up for eMusic yesterday and downloaded 55 songs worth of music that I had meant to get. The best part is that it works flawlessly with my iPod.
    6) No, they just have to not suck.
    7) Only for whiners.
    8) Neutral, but unpleasant due to it’s connotations of community split.
    9) I don’t know, but I’m one guy programing some personal projects and I was looking into SVK so I could make commits on a laptop while I was away from the repository on my desktop. I could easily see organizations finding significant utility with low cost.
    10) I haven’t heard about any package managers merging so I’m going to say no. Seriously, when programming languages start spawning their own package managers (I’m looking at you Ruby Gems), you know things are in a bad state.

  2. Some comments on your comments, Danno:

    1. And ISVs
    2. I concur
    3. Yup
    4. Tough call. Not sure about the answer to this one.
    5. Isn’t emusic great?
    6. Probably disagree – or so I told Adobe last week
    7. Not as far as I’m concerned
    8. Yeah, I’d lean towards bad – but not overly so
    9. I think it is – more later
    10. There are discussions about a high level API consolidation, so the answer is maybe. Definitely maybe 😉

  3. 1) For an software ecosystem to scale, yes. Absolutely. It’s actually not important in the early phase, as it’ll just slow down innovation.

    2) Some instrumentation that’s used for development environments do crash the system. For example, the Hotshot python profiler crashes the python virtual machine. It doesn’t stop me from using it though.

    3) Interesting link. Sometimes, it’s used as a social proof. 100,000 downloads sounds pretty good. Even better when a small team from a Big Co. uses the software (even the free one). There’s little point in trying to make money from programmer hobbyists, given the plethora of free tools already available. Community edition (with a properly cultivated community) can create an active community though, and this leads to a virtuous cycle of extension and new adoption.

    4) Evangelism is a pretty dirty word for everybody who isn’t. Nobody enjoys being proselytised. How about “interfaith dialogue” ? An open forum for sharing and debating?

    5) Yes. To the extent that copyright owners recognize “Fair Use”. DRM will be circumvented when people don’t buy the arguments.

    6) No comment. Windows is a huge stack.

    7) Free is a predatory tactic. Open source is an uber predatory tactic, because it cherry picks the users who do not require technical support.

    8) Forking is a strategic choice. But see 1)

    9) It’s overkill for 95% of users. Expect cheap branching in conventional SCM soon.

    10) Packaging will grow so complicated, everyone will be surprised when it works. See 1)

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