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A Fantastic Interview with Wine's Man Alexandre Julliard
Originally published at
Olinux: Tell us about your background?
Julliard: I've studied computer science at the Swiss Federal
Institute of Technology. I've been working in software development for
the last 10 years, mostly in embedded software (routers, payphones,
etc.), and I've been working as a hobby on the Wine project since its
start in 1993.
Olinux: Explain shortly the Wine's History and Organization? What´s
its main purpose?
Julliard: Wine started in 1993, and I've been the maintainer
since 1994. The main purpose is to allow running Windows binaries under
Linux (and other Unix systems), as well as to allow people to recompile
their existing Windows source code to build native Unix binaries without
having to modify the existing code.
The organisation is along the "benevolent dictatorship" model; all the
changes are submitted to me, and I have the final say on what gets or
doesn't get into the source tree.
Olinux: What is your main work in real life? Are you full time worker
Julliard: I'm working for the company CodeWeavers; part of my job
is to work on Wine, the other part is to work on custom development jobs
for customers. At the moment this includes doing Wine development on
behalf of Corel, so yes I'm mostly working full-time on Wine, at
least for now.
Olinux: What you do in Wine?
Julliard: A little bit of everything... my speciality is mostly
in the low-level areas like memory management, threading, etc. Plus of
course studying incoming patches and merging them into the source tree.
OLinux: Are there business companies or any other type of
organization that finances Wine development? How did Corel investment
and support change wine´s development?
Julliard: There is no organisation putting funds directly into
Wine, but there are companies having people work on Wine; of course the
major contributor in this area is Corel, with a lot of people working
full-time on Wine.
Corel's involvment has done a lot for Wine, mainly by addressing areas
of the code that had been a bit neglected until then, and also by doing
extensive testing of all their office suite under Wine and fixing all
the problems they encountered. Wine is definitely much better now than
it would have been without Corel's help.
Olinux: Everyone in Wine's staff is a volunteer?
Julliard: No, since there are people at Corel working on it as
part of their job.
Olinux: How people are organized and what are tools are used to
control the results of the work being done in different projects and
parts of the world?
Julliard: People communicate through mailing lists, and all the
code is in a CVS repository accessible read-only by anybody. All the
changes are reviewed by me, and then stored in the CVS tree where
anybody can test them.
Olinux: How many people are working for wine nowadays? Are you
satisfied with the results?
Julliard: It's hard to say exactly how many people are working at
any given moment, but I'd estimate it at 30-40 active developers. I
think the results are very impressive, particularly when compared to the
amount of resources Microsoft is putting into Windows.
Olinux: Are there anything that can be done to improve
Julliard: Having more people of course; better documentation of
the Windows API would help a lot but I don't think there is much to hope
for from Microsoft in this respect.
Olinux: Describe the active projects and their core activities? How
are the tasks divided and co-ordinated in terms of content and
Julliard: There is no formal organisation in sub-projects. Everybody works on what he wants to, and coordination is done through the mailing list and CVS tree.
Olinux: How would you answer Bill Gates statements that Linux wasn't
any danger to Microsoft monopoly because it was decentralized and
Julliard: Linux is a danger to Microsoft precisely because it is
decentralized. There isn't one company that you can buy or put out of
business, so the usual Microsoft tactics do not work against Linux.
Olinux: Do you see any problem regarding quality of software
development and maintenance due associated to the volunteer work?
Julliard: I think the quality is usually better with volunteer
work, since people take the time to do things the right way, and also
take more pride in their work since it is published for the whole world
The main problem with volunteer work is that the parts of the code that
are less fun to write get less attention; this is why it is a good thing
to have both volunteer and paid developers on the same project.
Olinux: How do you describe wine achievements in 90's and what are
the prospects and goals for 2000? When users will have a perfect version
Julliard: Wine has come a very long way, from the initial 16-bit
support to now nearly complete support of both 16- and 32-bit APIs, OLE,
DirectX, etc. We are getting to the point where the core of Wine is
complete, which should lead us to the first general public release,
hopefully sometime this year.
The perfect version that runs 100% of the applications with 100%
compatibility is probably never going to exist, but a version that is
perfect for a certain number of tested applications is certainly
possible; and in fact today's Wine is already perfectly good enough for
The OLinux site also has more Linux interviews.
Copyright © 2000, Fernando Ribeiro Corrêa and Luis Strano
Published in Issue 52 of Linux Gazette, April 2000
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