Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Interview with Donald Knuth

Filed under
Interviews
OSS

Andrew Binstock and Donald Knuth converse on the success of open source, the problem with multicore architecture, the disappointing lack of interest in literate programming, the menace of reusable code, and that urban legend about winning a programming contest with a single compilation.

Andrew Binstock: You are one of the fathers of the open-source revolution, even if you aren’t widely heralded as such. You previously have stated that you released TeX as open source because of the problem of proprietary implementations at the time, and to invite corrections to the code—both of which are key drivers for open-source projects today. Have you been surprised by the success of open source since that time?

Donald Knuth: The success of open source code is perhaps the only thing in the computer field that hasn’t surprised me during the past several decades. But it still hasn’t reached its full potential; I believe that open-source programs will begin to be completely dominant as the economy moves more and more from products towards services, and as more and more volunteers arise to improve the code.

For example, open-source code can produce thousands of binaries, tuned perfectly to the configurations of individual users, whereas commercial software usually will exist in only a few versions. A generic binary executable file must include things like inefficient "sync" instructions that are totally inappropriate for many installations; such wastage goes away when the source code is highly configurable. This should be a huge win for open source.

Yet I think that a few programs, such as Adobe Photoshop, will always be superior to competitors like the Gimp—for some reason, I really don’t know why! I’m quite willing to pay good money for really good software, if I believe that it has been produced by the best programmers.

Remember, though, that my opinion on economic questions is highly suspect, since I’m just an educator and scientist. I understand almost nothing about the marketplace.

More Here




Good link

Thanks for that. Knuth is one of my inspirers.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

More in Tux Machines

Tiny quad-core ARM mini-PC runs Ubuntu with Cinnamon

A startup is pitching a $129-$199 “Imp” mini-PC on Indiegogo based on a quad-core Odroid-U3 SBC, with HDMI streaming and an Ubuntu/Cinnamon Linux desktop. A day after reporting on one Israeli-based, non-Android ARM mini-PC — SolidRun’s $100 CuBoxTV with OpenElec Linux — here comes another. Aside from the usual hyperbole found on crowdfunding pages — are we really “democratizing the digital home experience” or just buying an embedded ARM computer? — the Ubuntu-based Imp mini-PC looks like a pretty good deal. Read more

Ready to give Linux a try? These are the 5 distros you need to consider

There are so many Linux distributions that choosing one can be overwhelming for a new user. One might be too intimidating for a user to even try, while another might be too simplified, blocking that user from knowing how Linux systems actually function. I have been using Linux as my primary OS since 2005 and have tried all major (and quite a lot of minor) distributions. I have learned that not every distribution is for everyone. Since I also assist people in migrating to Linux, I have chosen the 5 distros that I recommend to new users based on their level of comfort and desire to learn (or not learn) more about Linux. Read more

Review of the new Firefox browser built for developers

Mozilla recently announced a new browser version for developers on the 10th anniversary of the Firefox browser. The Usersnap team and I took a look at whether it works well for the web development process, offers developers a variety of possible applications, and if it keeps up with the Google Chrome dev tools. Read more

Mapping the world with open source

In the world of geospatial technology, closed source solutions have been the norm for decades. But the tides are slowly turning as open source GIS software is gaining increasing prominence. Paul Ramsey, senior strategist at the open source company Boundless, is one of the people trying to change that. Ramsey has been working with geospatial software for over ten years, as programmer and consultant. He founded the PostGIS spatial database project in 2001, and is currently an active developer and member of the project steering committee. Ramsey serves as an evangelist for OpenGeo Suite, works with the Boundless business development team to share about their collection of offerigns, and speaks and teaches regularly at conferences around the world. Read more