not all change is progress
February 3, 2014
Direct download links: MP3 & Ogg
Musix GNU+Linux – Debian – more licensing – Window MakerNews
Pear OS is no more. No links, as they’ve already pulled down their online presence…
Tizen faces new delay; don’t count on anything until second half 2014
With the sale of Motorola, Google and Samsung’s cold war is over. Paddy mentioned IDC’s figures on worldwide 2013 mobile phone shipments
New SteamOS beta has non-UEFI support and Valve is making all their games free to Debian developers
FreeBSD 10 released
POSIX.1-2013 man pages for Linux available for free download
Fedora Workstation proposal: ease installation of non-free software
FUD from the systemd camp and lobbying as battle over the Debian init replacement gets dirty. A vote is forced – resulting in standoff
Fedora 22 to require packages to provide AppData? Paddy mentioned Lennart’s presentation at GUADEC 2013
X.Org Server Systemd Integration Proposed
Joe failed to find his muse in the shape of Musix GNU+Linux, whilst Paddy was tasked with checking out PLD Linux Distribution for our next show.
Feedback & Flattrs
A huge thank you to tonieee and an anonymous donor for their Flattrs.
Félim Whiteley wrote to us about static linking, Red Hat, and the challenges in getting support for non-Red Hat distros.
Frank Bell, Dan-Simon and Stephen Rosenberg got in touch regarding our segment on Slackware, with Dan-Simon mentioning sbotools.
Tony wrote that “Luddites … were the first open-source Makers fighting the onset of automation and its destruction of real craft and pride in your work”. Quite. Rather than simply regarding all technology as abhorrent, Luddites fought against the exploitative and dehumanising aspects of certain uses of technology.
Tony also joined Robert Horn, Charles Stell and Rob Mackenzie in expressing appreciation for being exposed to the sometimes weird and wacky distros out there courtesy of our First Impressions segment.
Greg and Joe had a back and forth about our utilitarian show naming.
artm asked if we could mention his question on Ask Ubuntu about maintaining live window geometries whilst swapping monitors. Happy to oblige.
Brad Alexander, Scott Dowdle and Zach L offered a variety of perspectives on the systemd debate.
Morten continued his conversation with Joe over UNetbootin, whilst Thomas responded to Joe’s comments about Linux Mint Debian Edition. Thomas also pointed out that we had previously made a misleading statement about LastPass, which we were happy to correct.
Daniel MC asked for more blog posts, told us about CherryTree, and mentioned that SpiderOak was planning to open source itself in the future. Joe and Paddy speculated that they may only do that on the client side – a check on their website reveals that, sadly, this is indeed the case.
As Joe said whilst wrapping up the feedback section, we had to be fairly ruthless with our editing of the comments aired as there were simply so many thoughtful posts and points raised. Whilst this is a nice problem to have, the changes to show notes and commenting that Paddy mentioned should make it far easier for us all to have more in-depth conversations going forwards.
We attempted to put aside all that we know about Debian and to look at it through the eyes of a new user. Our verdict? Distinctly mixed.
Over a Pint
The segment on licensing last show provoked quite a bit of feedback, so we spent some time reading and discussing it. Thanks to Félim Whiteley, Robert Horn, Daniel MC, Zach L, Frank Bonner, Scott Dowdle, Don Willingham, Steve and Kenneth for contributing.
Next show we’ll be contrasting kernel space and user space development and fragmentation. Does user space also need a benevolent dictator? If so, who is best positioned to fill that role? Even if desirable, is such an outcome even possible? Drop us a mail or leave a comment below if you have any thoughts on this topic.
Off the Beaten Path
Thanks to a reminder from Robert Horn, Paddy talked about Window Maker, a free software facsimile of the NeXTSTEP GUI, which was a clear inspiration for later products like Unity and GNOME Shell. The easiest way to try Window Maker is probably via the live distro built for that purpose, and you might need the User Guide. Although pretty ugly out of the box, as the screenshot in this post shows, it really doesn’t have to stay that way.
Gentlemen, thanks for that look at Debian.
Debian gets a bad reputation as being unnecessarily difficult to install and maintain, but it’s not much harder to handle than Ubuntu or its derivatives. Of course it is a little bit harder to deal with, and it’s not the greatest first distro, but it only takes a couple of months experience installing and running Ubuntu before you’re pretty much ready for anything — especially Debian.
No matter how easy it is to install Ubuntu or Mint, a nasty problem or two or three is going to crop up in the first few months, and the solutions for those problems aren’t going to be any easier or more difficult in Debian than they are in Ubuntu. Often the exact same solution will work for both.
So I’d say even a month’s experience with Ubuntu or Mint “qualifies” you to run Debian.
The only way to get “good” at installing Linux is to do it a bunch of times, and I’d say anyone who wants to install any Linux distribution, be it Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, Mint or other, needs to do a little bit of experimenting and be willing to wipe what they’ve done a few times before arriving on something they can live with for the next few months or years.
Mostly due to laziness, I tend to keep a distro installed for at least a year if not two (that’s what I’ve done with Xubuntu, Debian, Lubuntu and Fedora in recent years), but we really should “free” ourselves from the need to keep the same installation forever because this ISN’T Windows, and we need no product key to install Linux and BSD as many times on as many ways and on as many machines as we wish. That’s one of the big freedoms we get with a non-proprietary operating system.
I’m not saying you should reinstall every month (again, I’m incredibly lazy about this), but if you are a new Linux user and find that you want to run Debian, it’s well within your reach.
Like you, I wish that the option to install non-GNOME desktops wasn’t so hidden and instead was part of the regular install dialog.
But again, if you have had your requisite month or three as a Linux user, you probably know about Xfce, LXDE and KDE and could figure out how to find them in the installer or grab an image that offers those desktops instead of GNOME.
The firmware situation is, indeed, troubling. If the installer could grab the firmware and install it instead of asking you to supply it, that would be great. I detailed all the firmware I added on my recent Jessie install in this post: http://stevenrosenberg.net/blog/linux/debian/2013_1231_debian_jessie
I think that the Debian community is very happy to consider Ubuntu and Mint as “gateway drugs” that lead to actual use of (and contribution to) Debian.
At the beginning of the show, I’m glad you pointed out that the lure of free Steam games could attract developers to Debian. I hadn’t thought of that angle.
Have you mentioned recently (in TDTRS fashion) that Steam announced a product and shipped it, whereas another big-time Linux company just has the announcement part down and can’t ship much of anything?
interesting comments by Paddy regarding the GPL in “over a pint”. I think I’ll have to adjust my tone accordingly.
1. Adding AppData and unmaintained packages: if the package has no maintainer that can respond to the simple request to add an extra spec file, that package has no maintainer that can respond to bug reports. This is not a good thing (oh, but I forgot. Paddy expects them to be written by a super-programmer that writes perfect code. Well: in that case you need a maintainer to triage bug reports and divert them to the actual faulty component).
2. I was surprised that Joe failed to identify the missing DVD issue with his new user hat on. Though the solution in his case would be to mount the image. I also wonder how he ended up with the fix to add the source of backports. For the record: versions of VLC in various Debian distributions: http://packages.debian.org/vlc . Also note this this wouldn’t have happened if he installed from a netboot ISO.
Debian ISOs are should be iso-hybrid, IIRC. Which one isn’t? Also note that the images with the non-free drivers are unofficial ones that can’t be officially endorsed in the documentation.
The only way to select a different desktop environment at boot time is in the boot menu. Also: if you want a better package selection: install after the basic install (or, as an advanced user: use preseed).
Chromium is available but not installed by default. Also note that the issue with Firefox is a trademarks issue and not a patents issue.
3. The head start that Linux had over the BSDs was that of at most three years: the AT&T trial was over by 1994. At that time Linux barely had a networking stack. It did not have a port to any other architecture. However if you want to consider issues the BSDs had at that time, you should also recall that much of the development effort was devoured by BSDi, who employed some of the top BSD developers on a proprietary BSD variant called BSD/386.
4. GNU and FSF are different (though related) entities. The FSF is the organization. GNU is the software project it wrote (originally intended to be an operating system). GNU/Linux means that a system uses GNU userspace (Android could be considered Android/Linux). FSF-endorsed distribution and hardware is a different concept – those are systems endorsed by the FSF for their freedom.
5. Where did you see sponsoring of Stallman by a proprietary software company?
6. Nobody said that GPL is not about copyright. The GPL (and copyleft in general) works around the limits set by copyright. Nice try by Paddy to twist the words here. Paddy has this odd idea that we should just ignore copyrights. This does not work in real life. This may work as long as cases do not make it to courts.
7. Paddy made some insinuations regarding Stallman’s motives. His anti-GPL rhetoric leads me to suspect you have a hidden motive of your own. As it is impossible that a rational guy like him really believes the pie-in-the-sky copyright abolishing, there must be a hidden motive here. I heard some absurd rumors that it must be Apple. But I don’t believe them.
8. Freedom for the developer vs. freedom to the end user: claiming that this is circular logic is an odd claim. Paddy disagrees with some of the assretions but attacks the logic. Nice. Later on Paddy again fails to get that point and claims that the GPL people misunderstand the word “freedom”. The freedoms are freedoms of the end users. In order to guarantee those freedoms, there are some minor limitations to the developers.
Here’s an example for Paddy: Some of the code that runs on Playstation 4 is based on FreeBSD. Can a PlayStation 4 user get that code and run modified versions of it? Or is it some code that has been locked away from end users? Compare that to the tons of routers on which you can run your own Linux as vendors must provide you the source code.
9. The FSF knows it needs to be careful about abolishing copyrights. If we just remove all the copyright laws right now we’ll be left with patents. Right now some copyright licenses (basically all the copyleft software licenses and also the Apache2) give some extra protection against patents. If they are suddenly gone, we may end up worse.
10. Paddy keeps saying he likes the public domain but never once bothered mentioning CC0. I guess he’s not really serious about promoting the public domain.
11. The GPL is not intended to be a content license. So it’s a rather silly to think that Joe would have released the podcast under that license. A license that is somewhat close in spirit to the GPL for content is CC-By-SA. You use a license not very different from it (still SA, but also with the NC limitation).
One interesting distinction between the CC licenses (even their SA variants) and software copyleft licenses is the concept of a source. CC licenses have no concept of a “preferred form of modification”.
12. The MIT and BSD licenses still have an extra requirement: attribution. Recall that in the BSD vs. UCL case, UCL was found to be in violation of the (original) BSD license. Normally nobody bothers enforcing those licenses, but claiming that they provide no limitations over the plain public domain is odd. I wonder how Paddy would react if I took some code (or content) that he wrote and distributed it as if it were my own creation. Note that the CC0 license does not have that requirement.
On two quick matters of fact:
* yes, I mischaracterised Debian’s issue with Firefox as a patent rather than trademark one. We always endeavour to correct factual errors, and will flag this up next show.
* you are mistaken in your belief that the FSF is not heavily funded by companies that produce proprietary software: https://www.fsf.org/patrons
Far more people listen to the show than read the comments here, so we’ll walk through your complete post on the next podcast to give it the widest possible audience.
Regarding the FSF patrons link: thanks. I missed that one.
Just chiming in to say that the FSF prefers to call it GNU/Linux not only because of the plethora of GNU userland utilities that are present, but also in recognition of the sizeable contributions by GNU developers to the Linux ecosystem (especially early on when it was just gaining in popularity).
It’s important to note that the kernel by itself is still referred to as “Linux” by GNU/FSF. The kernel combined with GNU utilities they prefer to call “GNU/Linux.” So, regardless of a Linux distro running non-free software, it’s still running a significant amount of GNU software.
As for the GPL…
The FSF is a non-profit, so I don’t really see them being “out of a job” a major blow to their livelihoods. Yes, some non-profits actually rake in quite a lot of money but the founders of the GPL have alternate employment (most are/were MIT professors iirc) and strong political stances on freedom (libre and gratis). I just don’t see them wanting to keep the patent status quo. Maybe I’m wrong though.
As for making money with the GPL, it’s important to state the difference between making money on the code and making it with what you do with the code. For instance, Red Hat revenue primarily comes from providing -support-. Those who want the code but not the support or trademark opt for CentOS or Scientific Linux or some other clone. It’s a comprehensive service – the code isn’t what is being peddled in all actuality.
You can sell GPL code, obviously, but once you distribute enough of the source it essentially relegates you to donations if that’s your only business model. If it’s good software people will just redistribute it beneath you.
Of course, you guys probably already knew most/all of this. However, I think it’s important to specify how an open-source based business model works. Maybe a topic for future segment? Might be a little dry though…
Anyways, good show guys. Looking forward to more.
Whilst I was being a little playful at the FSF’s expense, the GNU/Linux naming thing could be a genuine cause of confusion. I’d suggest that Joe Public, if they’re aware of GNU and the FSF at all, see the two acronyms as meaning the same thing. As such, ‘GNU/Linux’ would imply endorsement of any distro the term is applied to as containing only ‘free software’… I know that this is not the case, and you know that is not the case; but to those not clued into the arcana of the free/libre/open software world?
Yes, I see your point. It probably is confusing to a newcomer who hasn’t yet learned certain topics.
Try replacing what Joe had mentioned about Ardour with MsOffice, would you agree with what is said?
We might as well just forget about linux then.
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