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By xjlittle at 2006-12-16 22:11
Free and Non-Free, Developers and Users

What do Linux users want? What do Linux developers want? What do all Linux distributions want?

Let's examine the first question. What does any user of any technology product want? They want it to do what everyone else's will do: play music whether it's streaming or on their local hard disk, play videos in the same manner as music, read email, browse the web, generate photo albums and so on. And they don't want to read a book or search for hours on the web about how to install the software, deal with dependencies and all of the other things we frequently see when trying to get an application to work.

Taking this a step further they want their computers to do this in a format that is available to them. That means mp3, quicktime, wmv and so on for music and videos. That also means doing these things without a big hassle. These formats are are readily available for Linux. So what's the problem?

What do Linux developers want? They want the operating system stable and they want to provide the users with what they want – up to a point. That point is where the free and non-free (patent encumbered) software starts to affect all of us. The developers only want to use free software (patent unencumbered) to build the distribution. The users for the most part don't care about such things and they certainly don't want to hear a lot of bickering about it. They want the computer with the software to just work with the formats that are readily available to them.

What do distributions want? Given the many statistics, posts and articles about increasing Linux desktop usage, growth patterns and all of the other data available, distributions want more users. This is the rub. At this point it becomes a marketing question. How does any product get more people to use it's product? Making it cost less is not an issue here. Ease of use however is a very strong issue.

Making Linux easier to use with readily available multimedia formats puts us squarely in the non-free software arena. Without question developers control what the distribution contains in the form of any application that is included. How then is this conflict between what users want and what developers want going to get resolved so that Linux gains even more ground in desktop usage?

There is no pat answer to this question. I have ideas as I'm sure many of you do. How about not including the non-free software but putting the instructions on what packages to use to accomplish certain tasks in the installation documents and the software in the repositories? Better yet package that software together and make it a one package scenario. I'm sure that there are many ways to accomplish this task so that users find it much easier to get the setup that they want and need for their everyday computer usage.



by osor on Sun, 2006-12-17 21:11
Quote:
Originally Posted by xjlittle
What does any user of any technology product want? They want it to do what everyone else's will do
I just wanted to point out that developers, often want the product to do whatever they need it to do. Stability and user-friendliness is sometimes secondary.

Another thing I’d like to point out is that we are developing completely free/open and easy methods for most of was previously is in the “non-free software arena” (e.g., codecs: wmv9, mp4; drivers: nvidia-3d is in infancy, ntfs write is reliable/stable, open drivers for loads of wireless chipsets, including atheros, conextant, broadcom, intel, and others have either been reversed engineered or petitioned for or both). The primary job of the distro is to implement these in an unobtrusive way. That said, as new patent-encumbered technologies arise, free/reverse-engineered implementations will always be at least a small step behind.

by rickh on Sun, 2006-12-17 21:24
I wish there was a way to force distributions which include prepackaged non-free modules to pay the owners of that code.

Distros like Xandros and Linspire should have no problem with that since they can pass the cost on to their customers. End users should be able to install them if the owners are willing to grant them free (as in beer).

The "free" distros should concentrate on making it easy for end users to insert them, but they should not be including them in their packages.

by xjlittle on Sun, 2006-12-17 22:20
Quote:
Originally Posted by osor
I just wanted to point out that developers, often want the product to do whatever they need it to do. Stability and user-friendliness is sometimes secondary.

Another thing I’d like to point out is that we are developing completely free/open and easy methods for most of was previously is in the “non-free software arena” (e.g., codecs: wmv9, mp4; drivers: nvidia-3d is in infancy, ntfs write is reliable/stable, open drivers for loads of wireless chipsets, including atheros, conextant, broadcom, intel, and others have either been reversed engineered or petitioned for or both). The primary job of the distro is to implement these in an unobtrusive way. That said, as new patent-encumbered technologies arise, free/reverse-engineered implementations will always be at least a small step behind.

You are correct-things are much easier in many ways than what they used to be. A heartfelt thanks to the maintainers and the people who setup the repositories so that most and in many cases all of the dependencies are readily available. However finding or knowing what you need sometimes is not so easy. The ipw2200 driver is a good example of this. There are two pieces to this-a module and firmware. The module is included in the kernel. I've read several posts though where users were frustrated at trying to figure out what was missing and how to get it.

I did not mean to imply the Linux developers are in any way behind with the development of drivers free or non-free. Frankly I think that they do an execellent job of staying up with newly released hardware.

by xjlittle on Sun, 2006-12-17 22:28
Quote:
Originally Posted by rickh
I wish there was a way to force distributions which include prepackaged non-free modules to pay the owners of that code.

Distros like Xandros and Linspire should have no problem with that since they can pass the cost on to their customers. End users should be able to install them if the owners are willing to grant them free (as in beer).

The "free" distros should concentrate on making it easy for end users to insert them, but they should not be including them in their packages.
Your last paragraph was and is the whole intent of my post. I think Linux distributions in general would gain many users which in turn would push hardware vendors to open their drivers to the community.

by jamison20000e on Tue, 2013-06-25 11:13
Quote:
Originally Posted by osor View Post
That said, as new patent-encumbered technologies arise, free/reverse-engineered implementations will always be at least a small step behind.
Not always++. Imagine a world where we(\more) are smarter than they, thanks to "freedom" no K1-25 for ALL...

by sundialsvcs on Thu, 2013-08-15 09:07
Face it, there will always be both "proprietary" things and "collaboratively developed" things, working side by side. (The mere fact that you have been given all the source-code to something does not mean that the GPL (say ...) copyright license does not apply to it in a legally-enforceable way ... it does. The mere fact that you did not pay currency does not mean that you did not enter into a legally-defined contractual agreement. All of this is now Accepted Precedent.)

I would prefer that, if a particular piece of open-source software (a driver, say) requires another proprietary piece (firmware, a closed-source interface layer, say), then that combination ought not be included in a "distro." It only creates confusion to do that. The owner of the closed piece should provide, and should be willing to maintain, the open piece, because he's the one to benefit from the sales/furnishing of both. ("Take and Give Back.")

I don't like the term, "free and open," because computer software is not "free." In fact, it's probably the most-expensive thing in the world ... so expensive, in fact, that no one could make a business justification for providing enough of it in a "proprietary" fashion. I much prefer the term, collaborative development, because that's the Magic Key that finally unlocked the door that we all needed to have opened. That is what all of us are actually doing here. We introduced a concept of collaboration, and buttressed it with a legally-enforceable license concept that has since been tested and sustained in courtrooms around the world, and thus demonstrated that Everyone could go, together, where No One could (profitably, at least) go alone.

It's probably the best example of that fancy-pants popular buzzword of this day: "Disruptive Change" (that worked).

by jamison20000e on Sun, 2013-08-18 01:34
so free the firmware\hardware and buy that++! [Some close and others all the way!]-This needs a link for every word but i'm lazy right now...


  



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