Linux

Lin-dependence day!

It's a new holiday - Lin-dependence day - where everyone can enjoy the freedom offered by Linux and open source. Jack Wallen challenges those who have yet to experience the freedoms offered by Linux and open source. Can you meet the challenge?

On Friday I was honored to sit in front of a group from the TechRepublic community and talk about open source. The driving force of the debate was open source vs. proprietary software. The ever-present subtext of that debate is Linux vs. Windows. The audience was pleasantly surprised when the debate never turned sour. Why is that? So many asked. The answer, although one-sided, is simple.

Linux is about embracing, about community, about acceptance. In many ways, Linux is the polar opposite of Microsoft. Naturally the first reaction to that statement is, Of course, Linux is open source and Windows is not. But think about it on a much grander scale. Think about your network environment...all those Windows machines working happily side by side. The minute you put a Mac or a Linux machine into that mixture those Windows machines start wanting to know, What is GOING ON????

Quite the opposite is the Linux network. You put a Windows machine on that network and those Linux machines will say, Hello Brother, welcome to the community. Acceptance. Community.

Today, of course, is a national holiday for the United States. That holiday celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. And although it's very easy to see the similarities that one would find when adopting the Linux operating system, there are times when I think the celebration is more the freedom to be dependent or independent...to do what you want, how you want. Linux is independent of restrictions, limits, and enjoys the freedom to work, regardless of what is going on around it.

I live in the United States, a country that has fallen a bit behind the rest of the world in the adoption of open source. Across the globe, countries are making full-scale adoption of open source software, becoming independent of software they see as limiting, costly, and prohibitive in many ways. Why is it that these countries have found this freedom and the United States has not? I dare to presume to have an answer to that one, but the heart of that matter most likely lies deep in the center of our very economic system.

But I predict that the U.S. will enjoy that same freedom so many other countries are enjoying, and I don't think it's all that far off. Google has already migrated from Windows to a combination of Mac and Linux. It's only a matter of time before other companies see this and think, If it's good enough for Google...

On this day, this Lin-dependence day, I would ask those of you who have yet to experience the freedom offered by the Linux operating system (or FreeBSD - a nod to a fellow TechRepublic member - thank you very much) to try it. Make it your goal to at least install one of the recent releases and see what it has to offer. Be free of license agreements, CALS, costs, limits, viruses, malware, crapware, bloatware (although some would argue Linux is suffering from bloatware), dumb-down-ware...you get the idea. Give Linux a try and see what kind of freedoms ring in your world. I believe, very strongly, that you will look back on this day and remember how much more freedom you have to celebrate.

Thank you all for being such a wonderful, supportive, challenging, intelligent audience. Happy Lin-dependence day to everyone!

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

71 comments
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a.portman
a.portman

I am on my 5th or 6th Linux desktop. I would suggest that anyone wanting to try Linux for the first time, try Linux Mint (http://www.linuxmint.com/). Download the DVD iso and burn it. Drop in a machine and in 30 minutes you will be ready to run. I have found Mint loads faster, starts faster and is easier to use than the other versions I have tried. The package loader makes installing new software as easy as typing in the name. If you are in Education you should take a look at Edbuntu. There are some very interesting programs that are not as "gamey" as a lot of the crap in the education market. For you geekier Linux types, I have tried: Mint; Ubuntu/Edbuntu (also very good); Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop (an upgrade broke my wireless connection beyond hope. Hence, trying Ubuntu.); Suse OpenLinux and Mandrake.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"The audience was pleasantly surprised when the debate never turned sour. Why is that?" Because everyone participating in Louisville was more interested in exchanging ideas than flaming; their presence alone is demonstration of that. Because it's harder to be rude face to face than anonymously online. "The minute you put a Mac or a Linux machine into that mixture those Windows machines start wanting to know What is GOING ON????" Huh? I've never seen a Windows client react solely to the addition of any new machine to the network, regardless of OS. I've added six Linux systems to my AD domain in the last five years, and no other system has so much as blinked. In technical terms, what exactly are you seeing? Please include pop-up error messages if possible. Honestly, I wouldn't want my network to receive a strange system with open arms.

Ocie3
Ocie3

will redesign Chrome so that it does not rely, for the effectiveness of its multiprocess architecture, upon cardinal [i]security[/i] features of the Windows operating systems (aside from the fact that it is designed to run on Windows [i]sui generis[/i])[b]?[/b] What is really curious is, given that fact as it pertains to Chrome "sandboxing" for Windows, I haven't seen any Google documentation as to how "sandboxing" is implemented in the Chrome version that has been developed for Linux systems. Do Linux systems have security features that are analogous to Windows security features[b]?[/b] Edit: you've written an interesting essay, by the way. It seems to me that people and businesses prefer to rely upon Windows [b]because[/b] it is proprietary, so someone is responsible for its features and their implementation, and [b]because[/b] hardware support for it is practically universal. As to "open source", its "openness" is essentially meaningless if you cannot read and understand the source code. You might not have a choice except to do that, because the documentation for it is, in my experience, usually either nonexistent or written in some sort of cipher and/or continually outdated.

Michael Jay
Michael Jay

A truly enjoyable presentation, you were so refreshing and so energetic that it made me both smile and laugh out loud, and yes it is not about this or that it is truly about using what works for you, or me, or anyone who has work to do and needs simply something that works.

Jaqui
Jaqui

not Win-dependence day, a day to celebrate the independence from Windows ;) [ or, for those still dependent on it, Windows dependency day, to celebrate your addiction ] :D

santeewelding
santeewelding

Are indeed uplifting, until I contemplate the end of it all, a la, The Road.

Juanita Marquez
Juanita Marquez

I found the ideas to be engrossing (and that was shared by the rest of the attendees else we'd not have needed a 2nd round of discussion of open source). People can easily be jerks on or offline. Fortunately, a large part of the TR crowd seems to be the reasonable, helpful sort...even to someone as ignorant of the open source world as I am.

apotheon
apotheon

As to "open source", its "openness" is essentially meaningless if you cannot read and understand the source code. You clearly have not thought past your own personal relationship with the most immediate meaning of "open source". There are very important secondary consequences of an open source development model that affect you by way of the social effects of that model. Consider, for instance, that you do not personally have to read source code for that source code to be subject to pressure to be written honestly, without illicit "back doors" (as only one among innumerable examples). You might not have a choice except to do that, because the documentation for it is, in my experience, usually either nonexistent or written in some sort of cipher and/or continually outdated. My experience is that closed source software typically suffers the same problem. It is also obvious that you are not familiar with some of the most well documented software in the world, such as FreeBSD -- which is, of course, open source software. Try a google search for "freebsd handbook" some time, and note that it is not only comprehensive and clear, but so useful that it can even be used to help out with OSes other than FreeBSD. . . . and contrast that with MS Windows' various "help" features, which mostly serve to remind you why you don't actually use them.

CodeCurmudgeon
CodeCurmudgeon

As I understand it, Chrome for Linux (and Mac) is almost entirely different from the Windows product. That is why it took so long to come out with the Linux and Mac versions: They weren't just a port of the Windows version, but written to use the interfaces of 'nix directly.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

"It seems to me that people and businesses prefer to rely upon Windows because it is proprietary, so someone is responsible for its features and their implementation, and because hardware support for it is practically universal." I see irony in this. People in business are used to thinking in money. If something physical costs little money, it's probably of poor quality. With physical goods and materials, this makes sense. Remove the physical materials component and that logic becomes flawed. A software item does not need to have a high financial cost to counter-balance high manufacturing costs. One of the best server distributions maintains high stability and security in absence of a retail price tag. This thinking also assumes that someone is responsible for proprietary software. The EULA clearly states the opposite; "use our product and if it causes you harm; not our fault, suck it up." Now that you've purchased your shiny new proprietary software or downloaded your shiny new open software, you'll need to purchase support for it. Regardless of software license, you have no one to point fingers at in a CYA response without a prior contract. The other thing to consider, "someone is responsible for its features and their implementation" - only so far as the limited staffed developer team time and department budgets allow. Vista was going to have all shiny new features like a brand new file system until they got dropped because of time and money budgets. Hardware support is also not as advertised. Old hardware looses support not because the hardware is no longer usable but because some proprietary development team was told "we no long work on that driver source code due to time and money budgets". While something like Windows may get the latest hardware supported, it drops support for older hardware the moment it's not sexy on the store shelf. Microsoft's limited developer team is also unable to address proprietary driver issued because it's the hardware vendor's limited developer team who have access. By contrast, open development can draw a much larger developer team and source that anyone can suggest a fix for is the norm rather than anomaly. In addition, the norm is for the people who develop the hardware related components (kernel, Xorg, Alsa) to also develop the hardware support rather than some third party who may or may not know or care to use the best methods within the software platform. Last, I can't read much of the code but having the source available benefits me. Bug reports can include patch suggestions based on the clearly available code; I get faster updates after bugs are discovered. Popular projects and distributions benefit from peer review; I get more bugs discovered and fixed. The openness extends to bugs; I get to know about them and how to mitigate them until a patch becomes available. Programs can be modified by the user; with limited programing skills, even I've been able to create a hardware driver where none existed (the next closest flightstick driver with minimal modification - not rocket science but less doable with closed drivers). Source code also gets delivered with the expectation of peer review; "this is being released under GPL# but the code is an embarrassing mess so it'll be out as soon as I get a chance to clean it up first" - reputation is based on quality of code not amount one can squeeze in within time an budget so better developers put more care into there work. With open development, people are also submitting patches to rewrite code segments in better ways; I get more efficiently running software with less needlessly overcomplicated programming. Much of the reasons companies favor proprietary code development now is myth; "support is automatic", "hardware support is ubiquitous", "evil can't see the code so it's harder to attack me", "some small developer team with limited resources has my best interests at heart", "if it's free, it can't be high quality based on my experience with physical goods".

apotheon
apotheon

Someone in Redmond didn't get the memo.

santeewelding
santeewelding

[i]Could[/i] you say? I agree: it was as well said as it could be.

apotheon
apotheon

That's a good alternative name for it.

apotheon
apotheon

I meant to watch the movie, and may one day find room to wedge the book sideways into my reading list (which is long and stacked high). I don't get the reference.

apotheon
apotheon

There's no crime in ignorance. We should all be thankful for our areas of ignorance, for ignorance is an opportunity to learn. It's willful ignorance that gets my dander up, but that's not really relevant to your comments.

Ocie3
Ocie3

Quote from my previous post: [i]".... You might not have a choice except to do that, because the documentation for it is, in my experience, usually either nonexistent or written in some sort of cipher and/or continually outdated.[/i]" In reply, your remarks begin: [i]"My experience is that closed source software typically suffers the same problem. ...."[/i] I know what you mean, especially since MS moved to the Windows NT line. I usually find more about Windows by searching the MS Knowledge Base instead of, or after, using the Windows XP Help Center. There are way too many programs that have very little or no immediate "help" as part of the package (not like the MS-DOS programs used to have, when we pressed F1). Now developers want to publish the "help" on their web site, where it could be updated regularly, although most don't bother, perhaps because it is not accessed very often and/or by many users. It seems that many people don't [i]want[/i] to read as much as they used to, and I must count myself among them sometimes. Many developers also do not want to support the usage of their software, and, at best, host a "user forum" for "peer support" which too often means a lot of people asking questions that no one can (or will) answer. If I ever find a telecommunications or network program for which the documentation actually explains its [i]output[/i], then I'll probably fall over in a faint. Although the Wireshark documentation is pretty good about that, there are plenty of mysteries left, too.

Ocie3
Ocie3

just as manufacturing anything has a cost. The difference between manufacturing a physical object(s) and an intellectual one is [i]not[/i] that the latter is cost-free. The developer needs the physical tools -- computer systems and peripherals, network devices, software such as editors and compilers, etc. -- and facilities. The developer also needs a workforce -- project managers, systems analysts or "software engineers", and programmers (those who do the coding, alpha testing and debugging). Those folks seldom work for nothing on proprietary or in-house software, regardless of whether they might contribute their knowledge, skills, time and effort to "open source" software development on their own time and own dime. Their resources are almost certainly no more, and probably less, than the resources which a major corporation such as Microsoft, Google, Oracle, AutoCAD, or any of dozens of other commercial developers, can invest to develop software, [i]e.g.[/i], for medical applications, for fleet management, for marine electronics, for avionics, for e-commerce, etc. For what it is worth, in my experience, "if it's free, it can't be good" quite often applies to intellectual goods as well as physical ones. Consider Wikipedia. I don't know about you, but I take just about everything that I read there "with a grain of salt". How many contributors to Wikipedia are professionals in the field of knowledge for which they write articles? What are their credentials? Have they written articles for commercial publication, such as for Encyclopedia Britannica, or for magazines or professional journals? Most of the contributors seem to be amateurs, whether nonetheless quite knowledgeable, but I don't know any amateur molecular biologists, do you? If my experience with Thunderbird has taught me anything, it is that a volunteer development team is quite likely to have its own agenda (and evidently no one "in charge"). So far, they have served [i]my[/i] interests rather poorly in several respects. Not only that, Mozilla does not want my "feedback" and didn't solicit any "input" at the outset. Eventually, I will install and run some other e-mail client. As to the benefits, such as they may be, of "open source" and of Linux or BSD and their cousins, personally all I find are obstacles. Consider the "Ubuntu and Kubuntu 9.10 (32-bit versions) 4 Disk Set Includes FREE Linux Training Library CD and DVD video intorduction ([i]sic[/i])", which I bought [i]via[/i] Amazon in April. The first thing to note is that the publisher, DVDxDVD Inc., attached a small sticker to the clear plastic wrapper around the DVD container. As soon as the wrapper is removed, it is likely to be discarded, along with the unobtrusive sticker (on the back). The sticker has the only information as to the publisher and how to contact them, of course. So, it wasn't a surprise that some sort of homemade robot answered the telephone when I called them subsequently, and they haven't returned my call. The "Brief Intro to Linux" DVD contains nothing in the root directory except two folders. The AUDIO_TS folder is empty. The VIDEO_TS folder has 7 files with .BUP, .IFO and .VOB extensions. There are no instructions ([i]e.g.,[/i] README.TXT) to be found, even on the DVD label. There is probably Windows software installed on my computer that might use one or more of the files, but maybe not. Regardless, there is no information as to which file to execute to initiate the "introduction". FWIW, I booted [b]Kubuntu[/b] from its own DVD, and chose the "run from disc" option, since I didn't need any of the others. The OS displayed the correct date in the "System Tray" on the taskbar, but the clock was 3+ hours fast. I didn't bother to try to correct it, since I thought that might cause problems when I resumed running Windows XP. Evidently that instance of the OS has an embedded advertisement for the developer's scheduled "tutorial" for the day, because the software could not have obtained the data [i]via[/i] the Internet. That panel popped-up almost every time I examined a feature on the taskbar, if only to see what it looked like. For example, there was a dialog about the fact that the OS did not have the mainboard drivers to install. But I could not read enough of it to actually obtain enough information or follow any instructions, because the ad overlaid at least a third of the dialog and, as much as I tried, I could not get rid of the ad without closing the dialog first. Some "introduction", eh? You can bet I am glad that I didn't have to install and use the Ubuntu/Kubuntu OS, had Microsoft declined to "register" the re-installation of Windows XP for the 8th or 9th time on the same license! Edit: to correct name of "Intro ..." DVD.

santeewelding
santeewelding

I read the book. Saw a trailer on YouTube. Also, got turned onto -- yesterday -- a series of video vignettes: After Armageddon, also on YouTube. Between the two, you would get a general idea.

apotheon
apotheon

I use contractions (or not) depending on context and the tone I wish to convey. In this case, I was not interested in shooting down anyone, but was rather interested in helping others raise themselves up. Doctors evidently use contractions to determine the likelihood that a woman is about to give birth, on the other hand.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Lose the contractions: "There is no crime in ignorance" would make you larger than you seem, forcing others to climb, while you shoot down on them from high ground. Just a little thing I learned a long time ago.

Jaqui
Jaqui

how about some dimwit of a dev, doing a fairly simple pythhon script app. all in one file no less. yet they can only do a screencast video for documentation. no man page, nothing. the website is bare of any sort of documents other than the video clip. the guy who wrote the app, refuses to provide documentation. I doubt it is in ANY FS/OSS distribution's repos any more. I only had to forward the refusal to do the documentation to a couple of them. :D that got all is software checked for docs, none included, and he won't provide, software not included.

apotheon
apotheon

You seem to have done a great deal of thinking about these matters. I have indeed done a lot of thinking about it. Maybe the following will help explain my position on copyright law vs. property rights, and on open vs. closed source software. The difficulty seems to lie in the fact that when you design a physical product it is much more difficult for someone else to replicate that product than when the only manifestation of the results of your efforts are, as you said, merely an abstract idea of how to [combine a set of commonly available instructions]. Actually, the difficulty lies in the fact that copyright law and patent law have been conflated with property law for so long that people have actually started thinking of copyright law and patent law as embodying the protection of a natural property right. There is no proprietary right in copyright and patent law, however. The key characteristic that serves as a meaningful test of whether something is actually subject to property is that it can be stolen; that is, it can be taken from someone forcefully or through deception, depriving the person of that property. When you violate copyright and patent laws, however, all you are doing is making a copy -- and you do not actually deprive anyone else of whatever copies such a person might possess. Copyright law and patent law are bodies of law concerned with government granted monopoly, and not with proprietary rights. We have not so much forgotten this fact as we have been brainwashed as a society into believing this fact is not true, despite how trivially easy it is to demonstrate it as fact (see above note about theft). Keep in mind that copying a chair is not considered "theft", but people remain adamant that copying a digital file should be considered "theft". Actually stealing the chair -- depriving its possessor of the object -- would be more akin to coming into my house and taking my CDs, rather than merely using some peer to peer file sharing network to copy the music recorded on them. The actually relevant right is that of free expression: we have a right to express ourselves, to "speak" as we see fit, including sharing information and concepts we have in our possession regardless of their sources. In short, the relevant right is one that stands in direct opposition to the "right" assumed by advocates for strong copyright and patent enforcement. A point that escapes many who stand opposed to strong copyright enforcement is that part of freedom of speech is the freedom to remain silent without giving up related freedom to speak, however. Copyleft licenses such as the GPL and MPL violate that freedom, that right, by forcing one to choose between sharing everything and sharing nothing. This is the philosophical reason I prefer copyfree licensing over copyleft licensing (and the BSD license is a copyfree license, as is the MIT/X11 license, the Open Works License, and so on). There are, of course, myriad pragmatic reasons to prefer copyfree licenses as well, including encouraging security, but that's not really the subject at hand. Frankly, when I have the reasonable option, I avoid software developed with a copyleft license such as the GPL as assiduously as I avoid software propagated under strictly enforced closed source copyright enabled terms. When copyleft and strongly enforced copyright are my only reasonable options, though, I'll bend enough to use the copyleft software -- strictly because of the pragmatic benefits (transparency, social network effects on development, et cetera). I hope that sufficiently answers your question. edit: typo fixing

apotheon
apotheon

The market value of diamonds is almost entirely a result of deception and manipulation. In a market not dominated and skewed by the efforts of governmentally enabled monopolists, jewelry grade diamonds would probably fall short of the price tag of similar volumes of graphite, given the more interesting industrial applications and greater fragility of the substance. Take that unnatural manipulation of the market and multiply it a hundredfold, and you still would not approach the absurdity of paying hundreds of dollars for a copy of something broken by design, afflicted by planned obsolescence, and effectively freely reproducible, such as MS Windows. The only good thing one can say about MS Windows is that its equivalent to the "conflict diamonds" scam (meaning diamonds that are disallowed by monopolists who support the ongoing bloodshed as a means of closing off the diamond market) doesn't directly harm anyone physically. If you want to talk about economic principles, you should really start with the principle of artificial scarcity, and how that's relevant to the fact that copyright law is a gigantic scam whose initial inception was primarily aimed at censorship. In fact, censorship is in essence the sum total of copyright law, which censors anyone who might otherwise choose to share the concepts that have come into his possession.

Ocie3
Ocie3

Quote: [i]"You may have Windows Home without the ability to easily modify the local policy. I think this is more a side effect of synthetic 'value add' in the higher cost licenses by limiting the entry level license. With any higher flavor of WindowsXP, it can be turned off in local group policy.[/i]" Correct, I use Windows XP Home Edition. Windows XP Pro and Windows XP Media Center are the only other packages of which I have known. I've looked for others on Microsoft's web site, and can't recall finding any. The differences between Home Edition and XP Pro, as they were presented to me by the system integrator, were features that I did not expect to ever need to use, so I did not buy XP Pro. Although it might have been better to buy XP Pro, the differences have only occasionally been germane to addressing a problem that I've encountered. There is usually some way to do what I want to do with Home Edition, and maybe an additional way with XP Pro. With respect to the applications that I run, I do not recall finding any disadvantage in running Home Edition, or being apprised of an advantage to running them with XP Pro instead. Personally, I buy a computer because of what I can do with it, not because I want to tinker with the hardware and/or the operating system and/or the network. It is the applications that matter the most. The computer programs that I have developed were all applications, and nothing that pertains to an OS or to using hardware except the few which were just an academic exercise. The hardware and the OS are just a means to run applications which produce what I want the computer to produce.

kama410
kama410

I have some ambiguity relating to software patents. On the one hand I do think that source code should be freely available to encourage high quality software. I also think that open source is the best possible method to accomplish it. No other model (i.e., legislation, review boards, etc.) will provide the same advantages. On the gripping hand, however, would you not agree that property rights are the foundation of civilized society? If you do not have the right to control your property in the manner of your choosing you do not really own it, do you? Shouldn't you have the right to some form of return from something that you have spent your valuable time (and in the end, the most valuable thing you control is the hours and minutes of your life; they are irreplaceable) designing when someone else receives value from the use of what you have made available? The difficulty seems to lie in the fact that when you design a physical product it is much more difficult for someone else to replicate that product than when the only manifestation of the results of your efforts are, as you said, merely an abstract idea of how to [combine a set of commonly available instructions]. People seem to view the time spent creating a tangible object as having a more legitimate claim to property rights than the time spent creating an idea. This clearly must be fallacious. The time is the same commodity in either case. In either case you are reducing your supply of a commodity in order to create another commodity. Neither should have a superior claim to property rights simply due to the tangibility (or lack thereof) of the end product. For these reasons I prefer the BSD license to the others. It allows open source code (and its undeniable benefits), yet allows for property rights for the creator. I would really like to hear your thoughts on this matter apotheon. You seem to have done a great deal of thinking about these matters.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

You may have Windows Home without the ability to easily modify the local policy. I think this is more a side effect of synthetic "value add" in the higher cost licenses by limiting the entry level license. With any higher flavor of WindowsXP, it can be turned off in local group policy. I'm not sure about the details of how Sony's rootkit worked. I'm guessing that autoplay only automated the process. With autoplay disabled, you'd still have to jump through the rootkit install when manually activating the disk.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Diamonds are an incredible marketing success. A remarkably common stone which has been sold to the public as "highly valuable" with nearly no resale value. Still doesn't change the fact that software is not the same as a physical good. When I look at a Lenovo business machine versus a Dell consumer machine; I can see the difference. I can tell that better quality materials and assembly add to the retail price that I pay. 500$ Dell, 1200$ Lenovo; the price difference is not simply marketup. Each unit after the development faze has very real costs which are passed on to the consumer by applying the market on top of the higher manufacturing costs. Once MS Paint and Photoshop are developed, the manufacturing cost is the same; two very different products but both simply software copied to a file server or physical media for shipping. When I buy a Lenovo notebook I have one unit. A second usable unit means duplicating the physical materials to produce it. There is a very real cost associated with obtaining that second notebook. When I buy MS Office, I have unlimited units. There is no real cost associated with adding software to a second machine. The only thing stopping me is a respect for the copyright that says I am only allowed to have it on one or two machines. Software does not have an inherent value linked to quality like physical goods do. "cheap" does not equate directly to "poorly designed using low quality parts"; it's not inherently "made in taiwan" because it didn't come with an oppressive EULA and high price tag. If you are discounting software simply because it's not expensive then your rather irresponsible with buying budget. Back to the development models that started this tangent; in proprietary development, there is a lot more working against the product than for it. Limited developers, limited budget, limited time constraints, company politics and marketing promises. Vista was going to have a new filesystem until it conflicted with one of these. Adding journalling and self defrag to NTFS would have been a sweet upgrade; would have brought it inline with other modern filesystems. Ubuntu is playing more towards a hard set release date (time constraints, marketing promises) where Debian remains "release with it's ready". I'd rather stick with Debian 5 Stable until Debian 6 is deemed production ready if I had to choose between that and Ubuntu's "we promised to release it now even if it's far from production ready" and proprietary's "we're releasing this now buggy as anything, oh, and you'll have to upgrade because need a new profit spike and part of differentiation is features incompatible with the older version."

kama410
kama410

Am I paranoid when I wonder if there is some connection between the whole "can't shut off autoplay in XP" thing and the "Sony rootkit auto-install" thing? I mean, you really can't argue with the idea that Micro$oft is so far in bed with the copyright psychos that they have to get room service to eat. Maybe they aren't kidding when they say, "It's not a bug, it's a feature!" The problem is, nobody is asking who the feature was designed for.

Ocie3
Ocie3

a clear indication of the quality of anything, except in comparing a very specific product with another example of the same product. For example, four things determine the price of a diamond: carats (size), cut, clarity, and color. People are willing to pay more for a diamond that is bigger than another diamond which has the same cut and same grade of clarity. They are also are willing to pay more for a diamond that has exceptional clarity for a diamond of its size, than for a larger one of ordinary clarity. What fundamentally determines price is the ratio of supply and demand. The questions are (1) what governs supply? and (2) what drives demand? Or so they taught us in Economics 101. The demand for gemstones in general, or even for diamonds as a class of gemstone, is not largely related to the quality of those that are currently on the market. Rather, when supply exceeds demand, the price drops, and that might induce more interest in buying them. More buyers reduce supply and increases the price. Poor quality can reduce demand faster than good quality will increase demand, but quality is not the only driver. Advertising and other aspects of marketing can have a strong influence. As far as I know, neither computer hardware nor software are exceptions to basic economic principles. The fact that something has no retail price does not automatically assure its supplier of a large demand for it, regardless of its quality. [b]Edit:[/b] add "color" to the attributes that determine the price of a diamond relative to other diamonds.

apotheon
apotheon

Software is a piece of property, i.e., it is written on a piece of paper or some other storage media That doesn't mean software is, in and of itself, "a piece of property". It means it is expressed on a piece of property. The piece of paper is the property in this case. The fact you have some code written on it in your own hand certainly makes it easier to differentiate between your piece of paper and someone else's, though. my writing of it in and of itself becomes my personal property You say this, but you do not offer a substantive and valid argument to that effect. All you do is assert, and expect me to agree. The record of the computer program per se inherently belongs to me Yes, the record of it belongs to you -- just as the record of this discussion belongs to me. That record, in this case, is the RAM module installed in this laptop that is being used to temporarily store the data comprising this digital representation of a conversation. By the same token, your piece of paper, with ink or graphite (most likely) deposited on it in meaningful patterns to store the source code you wrote, is also a record of a "program". The program itself, as a concept, is not a record of itself, however. Software is an "abstract concept" only so long as it remains in the mind. Once it is expressed in a form which can be "compiled" into a form which a computer will "process" or "execute" or "run" to effect a task or to accomplish a goal, then it is no longer abstract. It is rather concrete. You're confusing conventions of language with the concepts the language is meant to express. The stored form of the program is actually just a pattern that has been declared meaningful -- and which is, in fact, not meaningful at all aside from our agreement to treat it as such. The same pattern could just as easily, if decisions had been made differently, have come to carry the meaning of your shopping list, or to be utterly meaningless, depending on how "we" might have agreed differently about the semantics and syntactic forms of various languages. The program is still an abstract concept even when its expression in a common language (common between you and the computer, in many cases) is stored via magnetic media. All you possess as actual property is the storage media, in a configuration that happens to express that abstract concept. To my best belief and knowledge, you don't have any qualifications or credentials to be judging whether anything that I write in such matters as these is "correct". To the best of my knowledge (and I'm quite qualified by education, among other reasons, to say this), argument from authority is fallacious reasoning, even when it's argued in the negative. So keep it friendly and polite, because you just might have to eat your words. I fail to see how making threatening noises at me about how I should avoid doing something I haven't yet done in any way advances the cause of civil discussion. As to "manufacturing", you are smart enough to do better than just quibble with words! I hope you had a good night's sleep and can think more clearly now. When your entire argument is based on the misuse of terms, there's nothing wrong with pointing out that misuse.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Sure, someone had to have computer hardware to develop the software initially and in the very beginning, someone had to have some form of OS on which to initially write the new OS with. How does this change the fact that retail price is not a clear indication of software quality? I'm not seeing how any of this changes the fact that software which costs less can be of much better quality or applicability to a given problem than it's high priced counterpart. Are we really going to say that Debian or OpenBSD are completely worthless because one isn't required to pay a high license cost to use them? I didn't have to pay to download Metasploit so it couldn't possibly be of any value. "if it's free, it must be no good" - patently false. That's really what I'm getting at; in the software world, a high retail price tag does not directly relate to the software's quality. One doesn't need a fabrication plant to pump out physical units. Raw materials have no cost or limitation; it's a text file after all. It's skill and time. If you have the skills and the time, you can out code established development houses.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Autorun.inf is Windows way of understanding what to do with removable media. It is not a standard practice to require such a "what you should do with me" file outside of the Windows world. Normally, the OS would go "oh.. it's a video DVD" or "oh.. files on a disk" then provide the applicable options. In your system policies under both local machine and user administrative templates/system/ you'll see the autorun related rule. You can confirm if it's set to be effective for "all disks". Since you can right click a media drive and select "Play" or see setup.exe, there really is no reason for Windows to be automatically running whatever it finds without user interaction.

Ocie3
Ocie3

[i]i.e.,[/i] it is [b]written[/b] on a piece of paper or some other storage media, and my writing of it [i]in and of itself[/i] becomes my personal property, the same as the clothes that I wear. The record of the computer program [i]per se[/i] inherently belongs to me, unless I've conveyed my property rights to another party, such as an employer. Software is an "abstract concept" only so long as it remains in the mind. Once it is expressed in a form which can be "compiled" into a form which a computer will "process" or "execute" or "run" to effect a task or to accomplish a goal, then it is no longer abstract. It is rather concrete. To my best belief and knowledge, you don't have any qualifications or credentials to be judging whether anything that I write in such matters as these is "correct". So keep it friendly and polite, because you just might have to eat your words. As to "manufacturing", you are smart enough to do better than just quibble with words! I hope you had a good night's sleep and can think more clearly now. :-)

Ocie3
Ocie3

can debate the differences endlessly and probably be none the wiser. But here is something to consider: We can collect all of the "free" software that we might want and, no matter how good it may be (or not), it will do us no good without a computer. So let's include the cost of manufacturing and distributing the computer hardware in the cost of the software. Of course, a general-purpose computer does little that is significant without software -- indeed, it is ordinarily created to run software. So we should include the cost of the software in the cost of the computer. That is what I have always done when estimating what the cost will be for a new computer [i]system[/i], and/or to continue maintaining an existing one. But cost is not, of course, the only consideration, or I would still be running IBM PC-DOS on an AT "clone". FWIW, years ago I acquired some software by creating it myself. It cost me effort, time, and money to acquire the means to do that and to effect the development itself. I paid money for about 85% of everything, whether hardware or software, that I used. So I cannot honestly say that the software which I created did not cost me anything. It has never made any sense to me that some people will gladly pay an electrical engineer for creating computer hardware, but indignantly expect a software engineer to produce computer programs for them to use without any compensation. Yet, both engineers have to eat. If "contributors for software" do not develop it for the love of it (that is what an [i]amateur[/i] does), then how do they obtain their food? Perhaps I should not have introduced Wikipedia into the discussion, since what it proposes to provide is "free information". After all, those folks who have spent their energy and time [i]learning[/i] things instead of [i]producing[/i] things don't have to eat, so they're obliged to "share" everything that they know with those who want to know. As to Mozilla and Thunderbird, I just don't want to discuss that any more! It is not worth the time to make the effort. Is "Canonical" the official creator and distributor of Ubuntu and/or Kubuntu? I do not recall any contact with them except, perhaps, following a link(s) from their (?) web site. Of course, I used Scroogle to search. I was looking for an installation package for Ubuntu, preferably on a DVD or CD, and I visited several web sites. What each and every one said was "If you want it for free, leave your name and address and we'll send it to you in five or six weeks. If you want it today, then buy it from __( insert link to download or to order DVD disc(s) here )___." IMHO, if I cannot get it today without paying someone for it, then it isn't "free". Period. So, I followed one such link to Amazon and bought a 4-disc DVD set. The contents of each respective disc are labeled "UNIX Academy 2010 Selected" followed by the title of the disc, [i]e.g.,[/i] "Ubuntu Linux" or "Library Linux", etc. Regardless, I didn't mean to imply that the Kunbuntu "kit" did not "work" -- just that I could not read the driver message display fully because too much of it was blocked by the output of another taskbar process (?) that displayed a message, whether an "ad", about the Linux "tutorial" which was scheduled for July 6 (on the same day, but earlier than the time that I was looking at it). Since Kubuntu supposedly has a "Windows-like" GUI, I ran it primarily to see what it would look like, not to install it. To me, it looks more like the old Borland Quarterdeck GUI, altered by the Firefox Phoenity Modern theme. You may recall that I did not change the time because I feared that it would carry over to Windows XP. Well, it did that anyway! Just running the Kubuntu install disc, without installing it or doing anything else with it, altered the mainboard clock -- through the BIOS, I suppose. Three hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (USA) is somewhere in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, and/or maybe Brazil or West Africa. Quote: [i]"Sysinternals makes some pretty solid Windows software.. what are they charging for that these days?"[/i] Probably the same as before, [i]i.e.,[/i] nothing, but I can download it immediately and I don't have to add my name and address to a list, then wait five or six weeks for someone to send it to me. Unfortunately, they don't seem to be documenting changes to the software, or documenting it as much as they once did -- not that any of it was ever thoroughly documented. For that, you would have to read [i]Windows Sysinternals - 4th Ed.[/i] (or subsequent).

seanferd
seanferd

But it sounds like you kinda figured that out. That's just how DVDs work - it's a "movie" DVD, not a storage format.

apotheon
apotheon

I'm only replying to the initial premise of your commentary here -- because I'm in a hurry to get to bed. I may or may not revisit this later, as time permits and inspiration strikes. Manufacturing software has a cost just as manufacturing anything has a cost. The difference between manufacturing a physical object(s) and an intellectual one is not that the latter is cost-free. That is incorrect. Designing software has a (nontrivial) cost, just as designing anything else has a (nontrivial) cost. "Manufacturing" software, on the other hand, is essentially free. What an engineer does when designing a new breed of rotary engine is not "manufacturing". It's "designing". The "manufacturing" is what happens when the engineer is done and an assembly line swings into motion. By the same token, "manufacturing" is what happens (by way of analogy) when you use the Unix cp command to make a copy of a piece of software -- which takes all of a couple of seconds, if you type very slowly. Burning to CD takes a little longer, if that's how you want to distribute it, but it is pretty trivially (and cheaply) implemented. That, of course, is manufacturing a CD though -- and not manufacturing the software itself. Software is not a piece of property; it's an abstract concept that refers to a particular manner of packaging instructions (which are, essentially, nothing more than mathematical expressions) for the tools of automation. Never forget that, lest you fail to say anything relevant and correct.

Ocie3
Ocie3

I have not attempted to see a DVD movie since I recently disabled Autoplay by setting the appropriate Registry key to "FF". But Autoplay was also disabled previously, in the context of earlier installations of Windows XP, after MS provided the "update" to allow that. In that context, I did see movies with the software DVD player, usually just by running the software. Sometimes I used Start > Run and browsed to D:\AUTORUN.INF to launch the DVD software and initiate display of the movie or other video. With regard to the "Intro. to Linux" DVD, you are right that I inserted the DVD and looked at it with Windows Explorer, hoping to find either an AUTORUN.INF file that I could select to launch, or some sort of instructions as to how to launch the video. As reported, I didn't find anything. When I experimented by selecting one of the .VOB files, the DVD software launched, but it never displayed the content or found any other initiating point. I did not try to launch every file type. Frankly, I just do not like trial-and-error because, even when something works, I seldom remember what I did that worked. So, I prefer to learn by reading, and in that respect I probably will not learn much from the video. (Okay, women are an exception since they are not accompanied by "man pages".) Nonetheless, I've tried again while writing this post by launching the DVD player from the desktop. For the first time in seven years of using it, I've found an interface that I've never seen before. Basically, I navigated to the "Intro. to Linux" disc (with the player's "browse" feature). After trying several options, I highlighted all of the files and used the Add button to copy them to the lower pane, which apparently is meant to store and display a "playlist". Only the .VOB files were copied, though. So I closed the dialog with the "OK" button, and did not believe that anything would actually run. But after 20 - 30 seconds, the software began displaying an ad for Fedora 11 in its Windows XP window. So I suppose that the "Intro. to Linux" is underway, currently "paused". The audio sounds like the guy has a stuffy nose because he is in a walk-in freezer large enough to have echoes, and the visual is a little blurry, but there might be some adjustments on the "compact DVD player" displayed on the desktop. Also, I received a return call from DVDxDVD today, while I wasn't here (of course). I will send them an e-mail message about this, as it seems to be their preference for supporting their product.

jasondlnd
jasondlnd

From what I'm reading, the intro DVD with the Video_TS and Audio_TS folders is a standard, plain DVD that should play in any DVD player. There is no software to install from that disk. The only reason that an OS like Windows will recognize it is because you may have DVD playing software installed. I believe Windows Media Player comes default with every Windows XP installation and has a hook into the system that allows it to run every time a regular DVD is inserted into the system. For your distro of Linux, you may need to install a piece of software that puts a hook into the system that allows you to play DVDs by simply inserting them.

kama410
kama410

...runs Windows XP? Ohhhhh! I get it now! You are cranky with me because you read what you wanted to rather than what I wrote! I believe that if you carefully examine the portion of my post that you quoted you will find that the last word is, in fact, "player" rather than "drive." Not that I am a religious person, but Proverbs 17:28 may hold some wisdom for you.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

So, when you insert a standard movie DVD.. does it automatically play? Alternatively, when you inserted the introductory DVD, did you try opening the DVD player software and asking it to play the DVD? It's sounding like you inserted a video dvd then browsed it with the file explorer which would simply display the disk file structure regardless of DVD.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

sure, manufacturing software still has costs but they are no where near that of physical goods. physA and physB sit on the store shelf, the second is twice the cost of the first. That much higher price for the second can be seen in the better materials and build quality. The better assembly and materials of the second adds a very real costs. With software, it's not that simple A to B relationship. softA may be half the price of softB yet be the much better developed product. Compared to physical goods, software has a much lower production cost. Wikipedia is also a different thing. We're not talking about free software available through a vetted repository. If Wikipedia's submission process was anything like Debian's then you'd far less salt to take with it. Contributors for software tend not to be amateurs also. So it remains that a consumer price of "free" does not directly correlate to inferior product any more than a consumer price of "exorbitant" directly correlates to superior product. Thunderbird is governed by Mozilla who has professional developers on staff in addition to vetting submissions from third party developers who may or may not be professionals. "professional" not being a direct indication of programming skill. Are you saying they didn't want your opinion because you got involved and tried to offer it through provided channels or did they not come solicit your opinion directly? If you tried to get involved then fair enough, that sucks, boo them. If your saying they just changed the program without first consulting you; suck it up. Interesting that the Ubuntu kit didn't work. I'm not familiar with it so I couldn't tell you what the issue was. If it's a package provided by Canonical then they should fix that; if it's a third party package someone is trying to sell as "value add" then you'd need to take it up with them. Crappy packaging and products exist regardless of development method though and there are far better developed distributions than Ubuntu; it can't be take as a true representation of other distributions. Based on the DVD having a VIDEO_TS folder with VOB files, did you try putting it in a DVD video player? If your autoplay is disabled, do other video DVD just work? (I got a WindowsXP instal disk here; serial number is on a sticker on the outside of the plastic wrapping also.) The time being three hours off sounds like it's using the wrong time zone. Same thing with all my Windows installs, we fix the timezone as part of the initial install; not a big deal. Adds, that does sound odd. Was this actually a Canonical package you bought? I've seen no ads with Mandriva or Debian but admittedly, I've not tried Ubuntu or Kubuntu in a long time. It sounds like you've had a bad experience with Canonical or some third party repackaging there product. This is not unique to open source development or a clear indication that software's retail price is a direct indication of it's production quality. Sysinternals makes some pretty solid Windows software.. what are they charging for that these days?

Ocie3
Ocie3

wear shades, right? Quote: [i]"Put it in your DVD player."[/i] So, just how do you think that I know which files are on the disc, fanboy? The DVD optical drive "plays" movies with the Windows XP software which is installed, but nothing happens when I insert the "Brief Intro to Linux" DVD. Autoplay is disabled, of course, but an .INF file is not on the disc, nor is there anything else informative. Just like your response.

kama410
kama410

"The "Brief Intro to Linux CD" contains nothing in the root directory except two folders. The AUDIO_TS folder is empty. The VIDEO_TS folder has 7 files with .BUP, .IFO and .VOB extensions. There are no instructions (e.g., README.TXT) to be found, even on the DVD label." Put it in your DVD player. Then try Linux Mint. It's (currently) based on Ubuntu (though they might move away for various reasons) and I haven't had any troubles with it. Certainly no advertising nonsense.

Ocie3
Ocie3

... Thanks, I think, for mentioning the You Tube videos. I watched the 9-part documentary "After Armageddon" that was produced by the History Channel, and another 9-part series "After People", which shows what happens to everything that we would leave behind if all humans were to rapidly disappear completely today. Someday I will read "Fatal System Error" by Joseph Menn. It should be available at the county library, by now.

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