January 27, 2005 12:30 PM

Disgusted by (another) proprietary software

For past ~10 years, I used to work with free and open source software exclusively. Unfortunately, I also have to work with proprietary software sometimes. The culture of programmers there is very different from what I'm used to and expect also from others. And I was (again) not well prepared for such huge difference. People working on proprietary operating systems are somehow automatically prepared to expect the bad quality of the software they use, but I'm not.

The current experience I have now is LanSafe 5 software from PowerWare. In one system, we used the previous version of this software, called LanSafe 3. In the meantime, they produced LanSafe 4 too and we decided to update to the newest version recently.

And there are issues.

Issue nr. 1 is not directly about programmers, but about marketing of such software. It supports several operating systems (e.g. AIX, HP-UX, IRIX, Linux, Mac OS, NetWare, SCO OpenServer, Solaris/SPARC, Solaris/Intel and various variants of Microsoft Windows). The main feature announced on the main page is support for USB communication. Once you read the release notes, you are surprised that USB is not supported on AIX, HP-UX, IRIX, Linux, Mac OS, NetWare, SCO OpenServer, Solaris/SPARC and Solaris/Intel. Yes, if you read carefully, you'll realize that USB is working only on Microsoft Windows. Two ways to announce this feature. They have chosen the bad one and thus lost me as a potential customer for the future.

Issue nr. 2 is interesting from programmers point of view. LanSafe 5 installation process tries to add several lines into /etc/services - the port number is not static but depends on the actual contents of the file before installation... Ugly... The comment that is going to be added is about static port number 3068 though. In our case, the port number was 3097 and the comment about 3068. Interesting.

But this is not everything about /etc/services handling. Before adding the above mentioned lines, it will *delete* the lines containing string "ls", yes you read carefully - the letter "l" followed by letter "s" ("because" previous version used ls3 service name) and thus it will delete definition of the following services: afs3-vlserver, afs3-volser, allstorcns, b-novative-ls, cops-tls, cplscrambler-al, cplscrambler-in, cplscrambler-lg, dicom-tls, dls, dls-mon, dls-monitor, dlsrap, dlsrpn, dlswpn, els, etlservicemgr, f5-globalsite, h323callsigalt, h323hostcallsc, hlserver, hpoms-ci-lstn, hpoms-dps-lstn, htuilsrv, iclpv-nls, ilss, imip-channels, imqtunnels, initlsmsad, ipulse-ics, llsurfup-http, llsurfup-https, lmsocialserver, lsp-ping, lstp, mcs-mailsvr, ndl-als, olsr, pslserver, realsecure, scipticslsrvr, seclayer-tls, sip-tls, slslavemon, sns-channels, sonuscallsig, sqlserv, sqlsrv, ssm-els, stonefalls, tekpls, vlsi-lm and whosells. Only because they all have "ls" in their name. Smile?

Issue nr. 3: when the power is down and system is to be halted in e.g. 5 minutes, it should warn you/all users of the system using the script called PowerMonitor.broadcast which itself works. But no one is calling it...

Last, but not least, when you run Lansafe 5's PowerMonitor with -h, it will tell you, it is LanSafe 3. And in fact, it also looks like very old, unmaintained, crappy proprietary software :-(

Do you have similar experience with proprietary software? -----

Posted by Pavel | Permanent link | File under: Work