Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 21st Aug 2006 14:19 UTC, submitted by Jane Walker
Linux The Linux desktop has made great strides in just the last few months, and experts at the LinuxWorld Conference & Exhibition in San Francisco see much more to come. Talk about technological issues is finally turning into successful deployments. John Cherry, the Desktop Linux Initiative manager for Open Source Developer Labs, spoke with SearchOpenSource.com about the progress of the Portland Project's beta release of its programming interfaces for the GNOME and KDE environments.
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RE...
by Anonymous Penguin on Mon 21st Aug 2006 14:32 UTC
Anonymous Penguin
Member since:
2005-07-06

Yes, but if we don't show a more open mind towards closed source drivers and applications, we won't go very far, I am afraid. Jo Users knows nothing about principles, he wants everything to work out of the box.

Reply Score: 3

RE...
by jziegler on Mon 21st Aug 2006 15:43 UTC in reply to "RE..."
jziegler Member since:
2005-07-14

The biggest problem with closed source drivers is their license vs. the GPL license. I am sure the SUSE, RedHat and others would _love_ to add mp3 codecs, nVidia drivers, ATI drivers, Acrobat Reader and other closed source software to their distributions. However, they cannot, due to the license under which this software is listed. Until the "owners" of this software change this license, there's very little that the Linux distros can do about it.

Reply Score: 2

RE...
by Anonymous Penguin on Mon 21st Aug 2006 15:48 UTC in reply to "RE..."
Anonymous Penguin Member since:
2005-07-06

However Linspire/Freespire (just to mention one) seems to have found a way.
And besides Novell offers 2 versions of openSUSE.

Reply Score: 3

RE...
by jziegler on Mon 21st Aug 2006 16:07 UTC in reply to "RE..."
jziegler Member since:
2005-07-14

Good for them (them = Linspire). Let's see how it works out.

However I doubt the the commercial distros would not have done it earlier, if there really was a nice, easy and legaly clear way to do it.

I don't understand the remark about two versions of OpenSuse...

Reply Score: 1

RE...
by Anonymous Penguin on Mon 21st Aug 2006 19:40 UTC in reply to "RE..."
Anonymous Penguin Member since:
2005-07-06

"I don't understand the remark about two versions of OpenSuse..."

Even if it is called OpenSUSE you can either download the OSS version or the one with commercial plug-ins.

Reply Score: 1

RE...
by orestes on Mon 21st Aug 2006 17:11 UTC in reply to "RE..."
orestes Member since:
2005-07-06

I disagree, at least when it comes to binary only drivers.
The biggest problem with those is that they tend to break every time some piece of software that they depend on gets updated.

Reply Score: 2

RE...
by thebluesgnr on Mon 21st Aug 2006 17:15 UTC in reply to "RE..."
thebluesgnr Member since:
2005-11-14

There's nothing stopping distributions from adding proprietary software such as mp3 codecs, Adobe Reader, Flash etc, and some of those you mentioned already do that.

If they distribute proprietary Linux modules they're violating the GPL though, but last time I checked Microsoft didn't distribute the ATI and nVidia drivers either.

Reply Score: 5

RE...
by anda_skoa on Mon 21st Aug 2006 17:34 UTC in reply to "RE..."
anda_skoa Member since:
2005-07-07

There's nothing stopping distributions from adding proprietary software such as mp3 codecs, Adobe Reader, Flash etc

Mostly true, however there might be some products that prohibit redestribution due to their licence, for example SUN's Java runtime until recently.

In such cases it might be possible to distribute some kind of installer instead, which downloads the software from the orginal vendor's site automatically

Reply Score: 1

RE...
by jziegler on Mon 21st Aug 2006 19:35 UTC in reply to "RE..."
jziegler Member since:
2005-07-14

Funny. If Microsoft Windows don't include ATI's drivers and people have to download and install them or use some default drivers, that's OK.

If Linux distributions don't include (for license reasons) the same type drivers and users have to do the same tasks themselves - download, README, install - the Linux is an unusable desktop OS.

Funny indeed. Do I see something, what we over here call a "double meter"? (Essentially meaning you measure one thing with a different scale than the other).

Reply Score: 4

RE...
by drLog on Tue 22nd Aug 2006 01:03 UTC in reply to "RE..."
drLog Member since:
2005-07-11

Haha, a funny thing happened to me in the last week. I accidently wiped my HDD and lost everything 3 months ago. So I reinstalled Gentoo and everything worked fine. The ONLY driver I needed to "download" was the nvidia one. Everything else is in the Kernel.

I also dual boot windows but didnt install it until a few days ago to do some VS.net work. I had to get drivers for the network (off the network!! GRR!), video, sound and SATA!

You are so right! Whats worse about people complaining about linux is that Windows is awful for drivers out of the box. I hadnt installed windows for so long that I forgot how bad it is.


However, once nice thing about linux is that we set the standard very very high. With our own self-standard set so high, it means that we will produce a great product.

Reply Score: 1

RE...
by jmansion on Tue 22nd Aug 2006 13:01 UTC in reply to "RE..."
jmansion Member since:
2006-02-20

>Funny. If Microsoft Windows don't include ATI's
>drivers and people have to download and install them
>or use some default drivers, that's OK.

Do you really believe that WinXP doesn't have graphics drivers on the DVD? Not the latest versions, surely, but there's a difference. And typically the card comes with 'fairly recent' drivers.

The bigger issue is whether minor kernel updates will void an existing driver installation. MS (and others, like Sun) have traditionally had fairly stable binary interfaces. The Linux devs choose not to. Well, its their choice, and we'll have to see if eventually they bully the hardware vendors, or alternatives like Solaris get easy enough to install on whitebox hardware to be competitive.

Reply Score: 1

RE...
by Ookaze on Tue 22nd Aug 2006 15:18 UTC in reply to "RE..."
Ookaze Member since:
2005-11-14

Do you really believe that WinXP doesn't have graphics drivers on the DVD? Not the latest versions, surely, but there's a difference. And typically the card comes with 'fairly recent' drivers.

These drivers are not even good enough to display more than 800x600, and have no 3D accelerationc (for NVidia and ATI, except those drivers on the CD with the card).
And that's exactly the same situation on Linux, except nv can display more than 800x600 out of the box.

Reply Score: 3

RE...
by ma_d on Mon 21st Aug 2006 18:43 UTC in reply to "RE..."
ma_d Member since:
2005-06-29

Incorrect. You can't have GPL-incompatible drivers, yes. This is because these drivers are derived works of the kernel.

Codecs are a purely read item. They're based on a non-GPL related system and so they don't derive from the software in any way. Codecs are only illegitimate to distribute because the licenses on the codecs themselves usually require a fee to be paid.

Reply Score: 3

RE...
by jziegler on Mon 21st Aug 2006 19:31 UTC in reply to "RE..."
jziegler Member since:
2005-07-14

And that's what I meant to say. It's due to the license on the codecs / acrobat reader / Sun's java until some time / microsoft's fonts why these things are not parts of Linux distributions. IMHO if these licenses were different, all distributions would be happy to use these things.

That's what I tried to say all along - much of the blame lies with the software's/codec's creators, not with the distributions. Though, apparently, paid-for Suse and Freespire managed, somehow, to distribute at least some of the above.

As for drivers being derived works of the kernel, based on all the discussions on this topic, I consider that a very grey legal area.

Reply Score: 2

RE...
by elsewhere on Mon 21st Aug 2006 21:07 UTC in reply to "RE..."
elsewhere Member since:
2005-07-13

And that's what I meant to say. It's due to the license on the codecs / acrobat reader / Sun's java until some time / microsoft's fonts why these things are not parts of Linux distributions. IMHO if these licenses were different, all distributions would be happy to use these things.

That's what I tried to say all along - much of the blame lies with the software's/codec's creators, not with the distributions. Though, apparently, paid-for Suse and Freespire managed, somehow, to distribute at least some of the above.


Not necessarily, unless you're saying that the blame lies with the third-party vendors for not releasing gpl software in the first place. In many cases it boils down the philosophy of the distribution. Distros like Red Hat and Ubuntu restrict themselves to only distributing free and open software. Third-party packages that are free in cost but closed source are incompatible with this policy, irrespective of individual requirements or restrictions on re-distribution.

There are several third party apps, such as Acrobat, Java, Real etc. that do actually permit redistribution of their package installers. But since these packages are closed-source, they are incompatible with the "open" distros. The commercial or "non-free" distros don't make this distinction and can include or bundle these packages, as long as the license agreement permits redistribution. There's no infringement. The only requirement is usually that the user consent to the EULA for each package, and in fact if you do a full blown Suse install you will have to click through Sun's, and Adobe's, et al. EULA before the packages will be installed as part of the main install process.

The codecs are a different beast, because generally speaking they require royalties or licensing, which are obviously difficult concepts to work around when dealing with freely distributable linux distros and gpl software. Again, there are workarounds but it requires somebody with a wallet to step up. Real provides for licensed codecs, as do Novell and Linspire (through their agreement with MS). But none of these implementations are GPL so there's still the distribution issue for the free-as-in-speech distros.

The distro packagers are fully entitled to ship software however they see fit (excluding outright license violations), and the users are free to choose the packages and tools that work best for them. Just remember that sometimes the "obstacles" are by design on the distro side, and not necessarily an intentional road-block put in place by the third-party vendors.

It's ultimately in those vendors' best interests to have the software as widely deployed as possible, the distro packaging policies simply serve to remind users of the distinction between truly free software and merely free software.

Reply Score: 2

RE...
by ma_d on Mon 21st Aug 2006 18:40 UTC in reply to "RE..."
ma_d Member since:
2005-06-29

He basically said that in the article when he mentioned the next big thing was supporting proprietary multimedia...

Reply Score: 2

Drivers
by Gone fishing on Mon 21st Aug 2006 17:08 UTC
Gone fishing
Member since:
2006-02-22

The driver thing is worrying me. I understand why Linux distros canít include closed source drivers, I can see why binary blobs arenít desirable and why GPL fundis want to preserve GPL etc, etc.

However, I want to use compiz etc. I donít mind if my Suse, Ubuntu etc doesnít work out of the box as long as itís easy to find and install the drives I need, I understand the drivers canít included as such, but links to where I can get the drivers or instructions to how to add repositories where the drivers can be found would be/is good. Why not a CD full of useful stuff downloaded from the net (like you get with PC mags) included with my boxed set disto?

What bothers me is people being hostile to the hardware companies for producing the closed source drivers, yes Iíd rather they open sourced them, but Iím thankful they produce Linux drivers at all. It would be much worse without any for e.g. 3D drivers. If the open source community gives these companies nothing but grief for producing these Linux drivers, they might just stop supporting Linux altogether Ė I donít want to use the nv or vesa drivers, and I donít think Iím alone.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Drivers
by Ookaze on Tue 22nd Aug 2006 15:05 UTC in reply to "Drivers"
Ookaze Member since:
2005-11-14

I understand why Linux distros canít include closed source drivers, I can see why binary blobs arenít desirable and why GPL fundis want to preserve GPL etc, etc.

Actually you didn't understand anything, as shown below.
And distro can include closed source drivers, but only if the license allows them to do so.

However, I want to use compiz etc. I donít mind if my Suse, Ubuntu etc doesnít work out of the box as long as itís easy to find and install the drives I need, I understand the drivers canít included as such, but links to where I can get the drivers or instructions to how to add repositories where the drivers can be found would be/is good. Why not a CD full of useful stuff downloaded from the net (like you get with PC mags) included with my boxed set disto?

See ? You don't understand anything. They can't put your NVidia binary drivers on a CD specifically because of the license of such drivers.
Only commercial distro versions which have specific agreements to distribute the NVidia drivers can do so (like Mandriva Powerpack) for example.
None have the right to distribute w32codec pack though, or have the weight to take the risk of doing that.

What bothers me is people being hostile to the hardware companies for producing the closed source drivers, yes Iíd rather they open sourced them, but Iím thankful they produce Linux drivers at all

That's because you're clueless, again.
People are not hostile to the hardware companies, people complain (and rightly so) when a lot of new powerful features are added on their Linux OS, and the sole thing that prevents them from using these features is the closed source drivers, and only them. So people want to have an open driver.
If you have a NVidia card today on Linux, you have a hard time using features of XOrg 7.1.

It would be much worse without any for e.g. 3D drivers. If the open source community gives these companies nothing but grief for producing these Linux drivers, they might just stop supporting Linux altogether Ė I donít want to use the nv or vesa drivers, and I donít think Iím alone

A clueless comment again.
You're still part of those people that believe NVidia started developing these drivers for home users' sake.
It never occurred to you that this was primarily for professionals, where the money is. Look at the last update, it's mostly for the professional cards (those you'll never buy), while we cry for months for them to add what is necessary for home desktop features of XOrg.
For NVidia, these Linux desktops at ILM have to work before your compiz, that's their choice.

Reply Score: 1

RE...
by LinuxRocks on Mon 21st Aug 2006 17:43 UTC
LinuxRocks
Member since:
2005-11-11

That's right... I don't mind downloading a video driver as it is not that big of a deal. As you noted, Windows doesn't include this either so you have to download video either way. Linux has far better support for hardware drivers built into it than Windows does, so downloading and installing ONE driver is meaningless.

As far as multimedia; last time I installed Windows XP (albeit a while ago) I had to download some sort of media player (WMP 10 or Winamp) AND I had to PAY for and download a DVD decoder, so whats the difference between Linux and Windows here as well?

At least with Linux, you don't have to pay for a DVD decoder and MP3, OGG, etc... etc... is supported out of the box most of the time or is a simple download.

If you ask me, Linux wins hands down on both accounts. Now, where things are going to get interesting is when/if DRM comes into play. Will Linux support DRM? Will DRM even be allowed to run in Linux? I suspect that, like DVD initially, someone will create a DRM codec and all will be good again if the need comes up.

Reply Score: 2

RE...
by Temcat on Mon 21st Aug 2006 20:11 UTC in reply to "RE..."
Temcat Member since:
2005-10-18

At least with Linux, you don't have to pay for a DVD decoder and MP3, OGG, etc... etc... is supported out of the box most of the time or is a simple download.

But, say, in USA that would be an illegal download, that's the difference. I'm sure many Linux users wouldn't mind to pay fo a DVD decoder that is legal.

Reply Score: 2

Fresh Concept For You
by Sphinx on Mon 21st Aug 2006 18:33 UTC
Sphinx
Member since:
2005-07-09

Just me daydreamin' here but, think about it people, what if all those producers of binary only drivers suddenly were confronted with the fact that nobody would use those drivers anymore without the source?

Yeh, I know, s'like visualizing whirled peas.

Reply Score: 2

My Loathing for proprietary drivers
by cptnapalm on Mon 21st Aug 2006 21:15 UTC
cptnapalm
Member since:
2006-08-09

Well, if the hardware companies (and my eyes are looking at ATI) didn't produce drivers, then perhaps there would be more interest shown in making good open source drivers.

I pick on ATI because there is a Compaq that I installed Ubuntu Linux on and the closed source drivers crash the machine if I ever do anything involving stopping or restarting X. That is the only source of system instability. Using the vesa drivers, all is smooth sailings.

Life is like a proprietary driver, you never know what's inside.

Reply Score: 2

drLog Member since:
2005-07-11

For this reason ALONE, I do not buy ATI products. I use linux as my primary OS and therefore I always buy Nvidia cards.

If a laptop has an ATI card, I dont give it a second look.

Reply Score: 2

RE...
by LinuxRocks on Tue 22nd Aug 2006 03:45 UTC
LinuxRocks
Member since:
2005-11-11

"But, say, in USA that would be an illegal download, that's the difference. I'm sure many Linux users wouldn't mind to pay for a DVD decoder that is legal."

-----------------------------------------------------

Well, the way I see it, I already paid for the DVD that I want to watch. I'll be damned if I will pay Microsoft for software to watch it. Hell, you don't have to pay for a DVD decoder when you go to Best Buy and buy a DVD player there, do you? No!!!

If I want to watch a movie that I OWN (Read, I plunked down the $30 for the $5 piece of plastic with code on it) I will watch it on WHAT EVER device I WANT TO. I don't care who says otherwise.

If little military men in suits come to my door and tell me to stop, I will consider finding another country for me and my family to live in (In my Field, I can live ANYWHERE); that will have been too much of this crap for me to handle.

Call it capitalism or Marxism, either way, I wont stand for it and that is that...

This is why I adore Open Source and Linux. Truly free and not bound to the likes of the criminals in Redmond who have corrupted this entire industry and, apparently, other industries as well.

Edited 2006-08-22 03:47

Reply Score: 0

RE...
by Obscurus on Tue 22nd Aug 2006 06:29 UTC in reply to "RE..."
Obscurus Member since:
2006-04-20

When you buy a hardware DVD player, you ARE paying for a DVD decoder - the hardware manufacturer has paid a licencing fee for the privelige of including a DVD decoder chip in the player, and the cost of that is passed on to the consumer through the price of the
DVD player. Buying a software DVD player for your PC is no different to buying a standalone DVD player - either way, the company that licenced the codec/technology for playing DVDs expects to get payed when someone uses that codec/technology.

If you don't like it, you can either not buy DVDs, only watch DVDs on your hardware DVD player, or risk legal action (which is fairly unlikely in reality, as it is impractical to know if someone is violating a licence of that sort without breaking the law by invading someones privacy).

Personally, I don't care if my PC can play DVDs or not (it can, as DVD playing software came with my DVD-RW), since I wouldn't want to watch DVDs on my computer (I might if it was an HTPC though).

Reply Score: 2

RE...
by LinuxRocks on Tue 22nd Aug 2006 19:10 UTC
LinuxRocks
Member since:
2005-11-11

"When you buy a hardware DVD player, you ARE paying for a DVD decoder - the hardware manufacturer has paid a licencing fee for the privelige of including a DVD decoder chip in the player, and the cost of that is passed on to the consumer through the price of the
DVD player. Buying a software DVD player for your PC is no different to buying a standalone DVD player - either way, the company that licenced the codec/technology for playing DVDs expects to get payed when someone uses that codec/technology.

If you don't like it, you can either not buy DVDs, only watch DVDs on your hardware DVD player, or risk legal action (which is fairly unlikely in reality, as it is impractical to know if someone is violating a licence of that sort without breaking the law by invading someones privacy).

Personally, I don't care if my PC can play DVDs or not (it can, as DVD playing software came with my DVD-RW), since I wouldn't want to watch DVDs on my computer (I might if it was an HTPC though)."
------------------------------------------------------

And I mostly agree with you in that I usually watch DVD's on an actual DVD player. Its more the principal of the whole thing. The industry is treating us all as money pawns. Owning something USED to actually mean you OWNED the property.

Imagine this... You buy a new home, but because some company in Redmond WA. decided that home security was necessary enough to include a 128 bit FOB to enter your home and charged you every 300 times you used it, would you like that? You can't get into your OWN home without paying someone else to gain access.

A little extream in the example, but right up the alley. Sure, as home entertainment users, we have simply accepted the fact that DVD decoders and DRM are already in hardware that you purchase, and that is ok if you want to purchase... er... rent someone Else's DVD player, but I OWN my computer; hell, I even built it from scratch and put MY CHOICE of OS on it. I'll be dammed if Redmond is going to say what I do with it. Just like I will enter my house no matter what ANYONE says...

Get it yet? It hard to believe that people are so blinded to all this... its amazing...

Reply Score: 0

RE...
by Obscurus on Wed 23rd Aug 2006 01:36 UTC in reply to "RE..."
Obscurus Member since:
2006-04-20

And I mostly agree with you in that I usually watch DVD's on an actual DVD player. Its more the principal of the whole thing. The industry is treating us all as money pawns. Owning something USED to actually mean you OWNED the property.

Imagine this... You buy a new home, but because some company in Redmond WA. decided that home security was necessary enough to include a 128 bit FOB to enter your home and charged you every 300 times you used it, would you like that? You can't get into your OWN home without paying someone else to gain access.

"A little extream in the example, but right up the alley. Sure, as home entertainment users, we have simply accepted the fact that DVD decoders and DRM are already in hardware that you purchase, and that is ok if you want to purchase... er... rent someone Else's DVD player, but I OWN my computer; hell, I even built it from scratch and put MY CHOICE of OS on it. I'll be dammed if Redmond is going to say what I do with it. Just like I will enter my house no matter what ANYONE says...

Get it yet? It hard to believe that people are so blinded to all this... its amazing..."


I sort of get where you are coming from, but your analogy isn't really appropriate.
DVDs were never originally designed to be played on computers, and DVD manufactueres are under no oblication to support DVD playback on every conceivable device. You might own your computer, but if you haven't paid for the licence to use the CSS decryption software etc, then you really have no legal basis for complaining that you can't watch your DVD on your computer.

To go along the lines of your analogy, it is like complaining that you can't use the keys of your car to open your house when you haven't paid a locksmith to change the locks on your house to accept the same key that opens your car door.

When people used to buy Vinyl records (remember those things?), they never had any hope of copying them for personal use, or playing them on anything other than a record player. Back then, the owner of intellectual property had a pretty simple business model: people bought records, and when they wore out or broke, they would have to buy it again, because you couldn't copy them without some very expensive, bulky equipment.

You couldn't play a Video tape or an LP or a cassette in your PC, so why do you feel so bothered by not being able to play your DVD (well, you can, you just have to fork out a small amount of money to do so)?

Reply Score: 1