Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 18th Dec 2006 22:28 UTC
GNU, GPL, Open Source "Recently there has been a lot of discussion bubbling up regarding the possibility that Ubuntu will ship proprietary 3D drivers by default for some video cards. My aim here is not to discuss the specifics of that decision, which is still being fleshed out and ratified, but to instead define my views on the bigger picture behind the discussion - features vs. freedom."
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Freedom
by vermaden on Mon 18th Dec 2006 22:34 UTC
vermaden
Member since:
2006-11-18

I always thought that more features gives You more freedom ...

Reply Score: 5

RE: Freedom
by Earl Colby pottinger on Mon 18th Dec 2006 22:48 UTC in reply to "Freedom"
Earl Colby pottinger Member since:
2005-07-06

Not if the features are poorly thought out or do every function except for the one you need.

Worse, if the features are poorly organized (does not matter if you are talking about an OS or about programs) the confusion can hide the best function for getting the job done. In that case the more features added the worse the confusion, the harder it becomes.

That is not what I consider freedom.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Freedom
by vermaden on Mon 18th Dec 2006 22:59 UTC in reply to "RE: Freedom"
vermaden Member since:
2006-11-18

Not if the features are poorly thought out or do every function except for the one you need.

I propably look at that case [Features vs. Freedom] thru prism of UNIX, I use FreeBSD+fluxbox+CLI everyday, so features in my environment are well thought and organized, so with features I got, more choices I can made, the more freedom I got.

None of these things apply to MS OS.

The more options You have in MS environment the more useless they are the less options You trully have and less freedom as a result.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Freedom
by BluenoseJake on Tue 19th Dec 2006 17:11 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Freedom"
BluenoseJake Member since:
2005-08-11

"The more options You have in MS environment the more useless they are the less options You trully have and less freedom as a result."

I'm not sure what that means, but having more options ALWAYS means having more freedom. Freedom is defined by the RIGHT to CHOOSE. When I run Windows, I CHOOSE to use OpenOffice, Gaim, Firefox, Thunderbird, and so on. I could have chose WordPerfect Office, or Office XP/2003. I could have chose to use Yahoo or MSN messenger. The only choices made for me with windows is the price and the availablity of the source code, and how many computers I can install it on.

Linux is more free than Windows, but having more options is always better, even when using closed source.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Freedom
by deanlinkous on Tue 19th Dec 2006 17:18 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Freedom"
deanlinkous Member since:
2006-06-19

Freedom is defined by the RIGHT to CHOOSE
leg shackles, wrist shackles, both...
three choices - how much freedom?

Choice is choice, freedom is freedom. As long as those choices are controlled and limited then you only have a misconception of freedom.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Freedom
by Oliver on Tue 19th Dec 2006 17:37 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Freedom"
Oliver Member since:
2006-07-15

>Freedom is defined by the RIGHT to CHOOSE.

You can choose some kind of slavery by "mistake" because of false information or political pressure and so on. First there is omnipotent information and then you have free choice - because YOU KNOW WHAT TO CHOOSE FROM. So in the end "features without wisdom" can be very harmful to real freedom.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Freedom
by smitty on Mon 18th Dec 2006 23:31 UTC in reply to "Freedom"
smitty Member since:
2005-10-13

I always thought that more features gives You more freedom ...

Isn't that somewhat like saying that people in the Middle East are free because they have tons of oil money? Clearly, there are different definitions of the word "freedom."

Reply Score: 4

RE: Freedom
by deanlinkous on Tue 19th Dec 2006 03:17 UTC in reply to "Freedom"
deanlinkous Member since:
2006-06-19


I always thought that more features gives You more freedom ...


more features give you more features....nothing else

Reply Score: 5

Feature in question...
by DrillSgt on Mon 18th Dec 2006 23:03 UTC
DrillSgt
Member since:
2005-12-02

The feature in question that is specifically mentioned is the video drivers. That one is important to note IMO. There currently are NO decent 3D drivers for Linux that are open. Intel cards are some of the worst with only basic functionality, and always integrated. What we need is more Open Hardware, like the HDTV Card that is for Linux only. Now if we could get that company to make a video card for Linux we might get somewhere.

edit: corrected typo

Edited 2006-12-18 23:05

Reply Score: 5

RE: Feature in question...
by holywood on Mon 18th Dec 2006 23:28 UTC in reply to "Feature in question..."
holywood Member since:
2006-09-25

Here is the HDTV card website -> http://www.pchdtv.com/ !

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Feature in question...
by DrillSgt on Mon 18th Dec 2006 23:29 UTC in reply to "RE: Feature in question..."
DrillSgt Member since:
2005-12-02

"Here is the HDTV card website -> http://www.pchdtv.com/ !"

Thanks. I didn't want to get modded down for Advertising lol ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Feature in question...
by holywood on Mon 18th Dec 2006 23:37 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Feature in question..."
holywood Member since:
2006-09-25

mmm, yeah you're right. But I thought it was interesting since the software is open :/.

As you say, I will probably get modded down ;|.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Feature in question...
by jimveta on Tue 19th Dec 2006 06:16 UTC in reply to "RE: Feature in question..."
jimveta Member since:
2006-09-21

Here is the HDTV card website -> http://www.pchdtv.com/ !

Yes, finally! ;) But.. now I may be mistaken.. even it needs some small binary blob for the tuner or something.. Not unlike Intel's "open" i810 actually, which still needs a binary blob for video-out to function (for Macrovision) and I would also forsee binary blobs needed to implement HDCP legally as well.

Of course this wouldn't happen if the hw itself was fully open (which is practically impossible for wireless and some communication/broadcasting devices due to the FCC, unfortunately), but it raises another issue I've always wondered about: if you use a license like GPL for it, how far does its "viral" nature extend? We already have the linking issue with it in software, and more restrictions in v3 based on usage, but what about hardware? What would consitutue a "derived" product?

What if I didn't directly use someone else's GPL hw design, but instead used a finished off-the-shelf GPL chip and interfaced it with a non-GPL board or other hardware?

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Feature in question...
by agentj on Tue 19th Dec 2006 07:08 UTC in reply to "RE: Feature in question..."
agentj Member since:
2005-08-19

Cool. I wonder why aren't this stuff advertised anywhere ...

Reply Score: 1

Freedom?
by DittoBox on Mon 18th Dec 2006 23:24 UTC
DittoBox
Member since:
2005-07-08

If there are no features, then one can't get any work done. You are chained to something that doesn't work, thus limiting your freedom.

It's all semantics. Neither road is "free" yet. If my "free as in freedom" 3d drivers don't properly support my 3d modeling and rendering application, then what I have is worth nothing. I am not free to do my job.

If my 3d drivers are simply gratis but do what I need them to do I'm in the same, but slightly different boat: I can do my work, but I'm at the mercy of the company providing the drivers.

There is little freedom in either course. But the latter does seem a better option in the present.

Edited 2006-12-18 23:24

Reply Score: 5

RE: Freedom?
by kadymae on Tue 19th Dec 2006 00:12 UTC in reply to "Freedom?"
kadymae Member since:
2005-08-02

It's all semantics. Neither road is "free" yet. If my "free as in freedom" 3d drivers don't properly support my 3d modeling and rendering application, then what I have is worth nothing. I am not free to do my job

I would just like to be able to use the new laptop I bought without having to:

1) hand-edit a config file so that I can then
2) download & install a cobbled together open-source driver
3) and then edit yet another config file so that I can get aforementioned cobbled together driver to actually work.

If it doesn't "just work" then, by definition something's NOT working. And for me, right now, Linux is not working. :/

(And I wish it were, because I am reminded more and more everyday how annoying XP Media Edition is.)

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Freedom?
by Tor85 on Tue 19th Dec 2006 00:32 UTC in reply to "RE: Freedom?"
Tor85 Member since:
2006-07-04

> 1) hand-edit a config file so that I can then
Hm with Nvidia closed blob you don`t have to. There is now a script, that makes it for you. You just have to click Yes... -.-

>2) download & install a cobbled together open-source >driver
Uh? You mean closed blob I guess?

>3) and then edit yet another config file so that I can >get aforementioned cobbled together driver to actually >work.
No, you don`t have to do anything like that. Just 1 blob and then: yes, yes, yes.

>If it doesn't "just work" then, by definition >something's NOT working. And for me, right now, Linux >is not working. :/
When last time I used windows xp (2 years ago) I had to download nvidia blob either, so...

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Freedom?
by stestagg on Tue 19th Dec 2006 01:13 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Freedom?"
stestagg Member since:
2006-06-03

I guess you didn't understand the original post:

Hm with Nvidia closed blob you don`t have to

That's kinda the point, closed-source vendors *tend* to make sure that their closed-source blob 'just works'. Open source projects *tend* not to work so hard on ootb compatibility (Massive Generalisations, I know)

Uh? You mean closed blob I guess?

He's talking about one of the problems with current open-source drivers.

Just 1 blob and then: yes, yes, yes.

Or just one o/s driver, then Xorg.conf editing to get the driver to load etc..

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: Freedom?
by DittoBox on Tue 19th Dec 2006 01:59 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Freedom?"
DittoBox Member since:
2005-07-08

"That's kinda the point, closed-source vendors *tend* to make sure that their closed-source blob 'just works'. Open source projects *tend* not to work so hard on ootb compatibility (Massive Generalisations, I know)"

That's because Closed-source EULA's say they can't. Or some open-source licenses say you can't bundle closed kernel modules...hence the entire debate around Kororaa.

Otherwise out of the box compatibility would be loads better and would in fact probably surpass Microsoft (where it already does in many areas) and might come close to Apple's OS X (though not quite since Apple has complete hardware control).

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Freedom?
by Mellin on Tue 19th Dec 2006 13:48 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Freedom?"
Mellin Member since:
2005-07-06

a linux version that is made for apple macs could be as good as mac os x

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Freedom?
by fsckit on Tue 19th Dec 2006 05:03 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Freedom?"
fsckit Member since:
2006-09-24

He's talking about one of the problems with current open-source drivers.

If that is indeed what he's referring to I will have to say, with all due respect, that he's full of shit. I have heard this nonsense over and over. Yet in the 11 years that I've been using Linux I've not run across any open source, kernel space, driver that had to be compiled and put in after the install except maybe for the most exotic of hardware that I guarantee he is not using for his desktop.

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: Freedom?
by pandronic on Tue 19th Dec 2006 09:18 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Freedom?"
pandronic Member since:
2006-05-18

That's strange ... I've got a SiS network card that is not recognized by any Linux distribution I've tried. I've found a driver somewhere, but I've found out from some forums that I had to recompile the kernel for it to work. Needless to say that it didn't work for a couple of reason and I gave up.

While trying several Linux distributions, I've found myself reinstalling the system just to change a setting in the installer, instead of finding out where that setting is hidden in the system. Well that sucks, because I really wanted to give Linux a fair chance.

The first thing I do, when I try a new Linux distribution is to create a Terminal shortcut, even if it makes me uncomfortable, I really don't know how to use it very well and I don't care to learn. That's unacceptable for a modern OS.

I'm an experienced Windows user and a less than average Linux user that every time gets put off by some missing or awkward feature. It's getting frustrating.

Binary drivers, and standard binary applications would be great if they brought to Linux the ease of use and compatibility of Windows.

I couldn't care less for sources. I care about things working, and working without the CLI.

Signed:
Just a casual Linux user

Edited 2006-12-19 09:22

Reply Score: 3

RE[6]: Freedom?
by tux68 on Tue 19th Dec 2006 10:28 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Freedom?"
tux68 Member since:
2006-10-24

Pavel,

Don't know at what point you last tried Linux, but in my experience it has much better hardware support out-of-the-box and less such frustrations than Windows. Of course that doesn't mean you can't get unlucky and have a piece of hardware that causes you some grief.

On a modern distribution like Fedora, there's hardly a reason to go to the CLI unless you're inclined to do so. Just like Mac OS/X, casual users are shielded from the geeky underbelly.

As for finding features missing or awkward in Linux, let me tell you that it feels very similar for someone from the Linux world when forced to use a Windows machine for some reason. I can't tell you how frustrating it is trying to help someone fix up their Windows machine when you know how damn easy it would be to fix on Linux. So I don't think your argument holds there, everyone has a built up comfort zone for what they know; just because Linux is different from Windows, does not mean it is inferior.

I have to take exception with your comment that binary drivers and applications would "be great". They would undermine developers ability to make changes, and in the end such limitations would be passed on to users. While it might help some short term issues, it would most definitely be a longer term hindrance and go against the very qualities that made Linux as successful as it has become in the first place.

As a user, of course you don't care about the sources, nor should you. But you _should_ care that the developers of free software have the tools and access to the code they need to give you _what you want_. As a user of free software, it's basically the least you can do to support the folks that gave you the software to use in the first place. It's generally a much better offer than you'll get out of Redmond ;o)

All the best.

Reply Score: 5

RE[7]: Freedom?
by pandronic on Tue 19th Dec 2006 10:56 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Freedom?"
pandronic Member since:
2006-05-18

Well, I pointed out the worst experiences. The truth is that I feel completely lost in Linux when even a little thing does not work. I don't have the patience to cope with Linux's steep learning curve.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Freedom?
by Moulinneuf on Tue 19th Dec 2006 00:47 UTC in reply to "RE: Freedom?"
Moulinneuf Member since:
2005-07-06

http://lxer.com/module/db/go/14/6588/

Back to: "Pre-installed Linux" if its not a good enough choice.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Freedom?
by jerutley on Tue 19th Dec 2006 05:56 UTC in reply to "RE: Freedom?"
jerutley Member since:
2006-08-17

Quote: kadymae

I would just like to be able to use the new laptop I bought without having to:

1) hand-edit a config file so that I can then
2) download & install a cobbled together open-source driver
3) and then edit yet another config file so that I can get aforementioned cobbled together driver to actually work.


Then you need to blame the manufacturer for not providing proper specifications so drivers can be made for that hardware. It's that simple. Manufacturers do *NOT* have to create drivers themselves, they *ONLY* need to document the interfaces to the hardware properly so drivers can be created from that documentation. And don't go carping out the trade secrets argument. Interfaces are specific to hardware, so if someone doesn't have that hardware already, the documentation of the interface to that hardware does them no good.

Reply Score: 5

RE[3]: Freedom?
by Morin on Tue 19th Dec 2006 14:31 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Freedom?"
Morin Member since:
2005-12-31

> Then you need to blame the manufacturer for not providing proper
> specifications so drivers can be made for that hardware. It's that simple.

No, it's not that simple. I can blame nvidia for their policy as long as I want, and still no F/OSS drivers will appear magically in front of me. As much as some people would love it, finding a scapegoat does *NOT* solve the problem. Even if it's an obviously guilty scapegoat as nvidia.

EDIT: added this:

> And don't go carping out the trade secrets argument. Interfaces are
> specific to hardware, so if someone doesn't have that hardware already,
> the documentation of the interface to that hardware does them no good.

You haven't understood the argument. The point is that documentation about the interface can give you clues about the internal structure. This is true even for software, where "blackbox" APIs are preferred, and even more so for hardware. This means that

- a competitor can gain advantages by analyzing the internal structure (meaning one of the smaller competitors, since ATI could probably disassemble the blob drivers if they really want to know)

- a competitor could reveal a possible patent violation and try to sue them

- they may have signed an agreement with an IP (intellectual property) provider of one of their parts that interface specifications must be kept private since that provider fears one of these attacks

Edited 2006-12-19 14:37

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: Freedom?
by DrillSgt on Tue 19th Dec 2006 15:19 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Freedom?"
DrillSgt Member since:
2005-12-02

"Then you need to blame the manufacturer for not providing proper specifications so drivers can be made for that hardware. It's that simple. Manufacturers do *NOT* have to create drivers themselves, they *ONLY* need to document the interfaces to the hardware properly so drivers can be created from that documentation."

I agree with this statement. If the specification were out there, then drivers would exist using all the functionality.

"And don't go carping out the trade secrets argument. Interfaces are specific to hardware, so if someone doesn't have that hardware already, the documentation of the interface to that hardware does them no good."

This one I don't agree with. Lets say Nvidia published the full spec for the hardware interface. That would then enable ATI and Intel to create close to identical chips at less cost, since they would not have the engineering involved in it. They no longer need to try and reverse engineer anything, as they were now handed what they need. Less cost means less profit, less profit means less jobs, etc.

Reply Score: 2

Freedom?
by vtolkov on Mon 18th Dec 2006 23:50 UTC
vtolkov
Member since:
2006-07-26

We all know about Gates's "My Computer". But Linux guys are offering us "Their OS". Gates says "you do not have rights to copy my blowware", these guys say "you definitely can copy our crap, but you do not have rights to use their driver". Can you spot a difference? The difference is that Linux's guys love to talk about freedom. If about my freedom, I do not think someone should be able to limit me in what I'm doing with the product I legally own. So if I want to use driver with blob, I should be able to do that. And if someone saying that I do not have rights to do that, this only means that all these talks about freedom is nothing more than dirty commercial.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Freedom?
by AlexandreAM on Tue 19th Dec 2006 00:12 UTC in reply to "Freedom?"
AlexandreAM Member since:
2006-02-06

"If about my freedom, I do not think someone should be able to limit me in what I'm doing with the product I legally own."

I truly agree with you. And I am one of the guys that tend to believe that features are more important than GNU-like Freedom (in the sense that, when I can't find the features I want in Free Software, I'll use a proprietary with no problem).

But then, something begs to be said:

They (distros) DON'T "legally own" the software UNLESS they agree with those rules. Some software one only legally owns when one agrees to pay money. Other software imposes a "code of conduct" to be "legally owned".

So, as much as I like the idea of having a free (libre) and free (gratis) software that does everything I need, if the distro don't agree with the guys that are offering this software are asking them, they can't use it as basis for creating this modified (or bundled) software.

If one violates the GPL to distribute "better" software, they're still breaking copyright laws.

Now, I'm not saying that graphic drivers violate GPL or anything like that. I am no lawyer and have neither the skill in laws nor the knowledge about the drivers to say anything about them (or any other software for that matter).

I heard something about if the users make the decision to use the proprietary software then there is no problem, and it does make sense in my head (although I might be wrong). But there is NO WAY a distro can do the same, because they're bound by the GPL (which specifically talks about redistribution of software) and get a way with it.

We all love the features. But I, as a full-time programming-for-my-food employee and as a part-time programming-for-my-fun FOSS enthusiast, can't accept that a distribution should be able to use the work of others to their own (or to their use base, it doesn't matter) good. They simply have NO RIGHT.

This post is too long, I should stop now.

Regards,
Alexandre Moreira.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Freedom?
by StephenBeDoper on Tue 19th Dec 2006 21:21 UTC in reply to "RE: Freedom?"
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

We all love the features. But I, as a full-time programming-for-my-food employee and as a part-time programming-for-my-fun FOSS enthusiast, can't accept that a distribution should be able to use the work of others to their own (or to their use base, it doesn't matter) good. They simply have NO RIGHT.

Um... isn't that pretty much the fundamental concept behind a Linux distro?

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Freedom?
by AlexandreAM on Wed 20th Dec 2006 08:59 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Freedom?"
AlexandreAM Member since:
2006-02-06

Well, taken out of context like this ? Sure! Thats exactly what a distro is meant to do.

Perhaps I didn't express myself right in this paragraph, but if you consider the whole post you'll see that what I'm talking about is ignoring the restrictions for distribution (license) that the creators and maintainers of the said software imposed. They don't have the right to do so.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Freedom?
by pedromatiello on Tue 19th Dec 2006 01:40 UTC in reply to "Freedom?"
pedromatiello Member since:
2005-07-13

You can use proprietary drivers with Linux. __Distribution__ of proprietary drivers __with__ the Linux kernel, on the other hand, is gray area, probably illegal.

See? You can use proprietary drivers with both and, while you can distribute Linux, you can't distribute Windows.

GPL is a copyright license. It talks about distribution, not use.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Freedom?
by arielb on Tue 19th Dec 2006 01:56 UTC in reply to "RE: Freedom?"
arielb Member since:
2006-11-15

The problem is you won't get mass adoption of linux if you can't give linux a good first impression. Back to Windows!

The other problem that I don't think was addressed is that you are basically telling them "what you get with our linux are our open source drivers and they suck-so now go out and get closed source drivers. They will make linux good."

The lesson learned will be "Closed source is good." Not distributing closed drivers calls attention to the weakness, makes it loud and clear and doesn't really help the rest of the open source community

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Freedom?
by GreatBunzinni on Tue 19th Dec 2006 10:17 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Freedom?"
GreatBunzinni Member since:
2005-10-31

The problem is you won't get mass adoption of linux if you can't give linux a good first impression. Back to Windows!

You seem to be a tad confuse due to the fact that you assume that linux's objective is mass adoption. As Linus himself posted on the lkml on the GPL drivers restrictions, linux's only objective is technical excellence. The rest is just a nice side effect due to the quality work that is being done by the community and for the community.

Reply Score: 5

Copyleft
by mcmv200i on Tue 19th Dec 2006 20:09 UTC in reply to "RE: Freedom?"
mcmv200i Member since:
2006-12-14

You can use proprietary drivers with Linux. __Distribution__ of proprietary drivers __with__ the Linux kernel, on the other hand, is gray area, probably illegal.

This is a somewhat very gray area:

The question is whether you consider "driver + kernel" to be one whole product or whether you think the kernel and the drivers are distinct products.

If the first case is true, this would be a matter of "copylefted" vs. "non-copylefted software" (http://www.fsf.org/licensing/essays/copyleft.html) but not of FLOSS vs. closed source software. Because a copylefted license like the GPL permits it to distribute a derative work of the piece of software it licenses, but only if the whole derative software is free software again. A derative work of a non-copylefted software like a BSD-licensed software can be released under any licence, also a propriatory one.

If the second case is be true, the linux kernel would be at least no open source software (I dont know how this applies to free software), if it would not be allowed to distribute the open source Linux kernel with a closed source driver.

9. License Must Not Restrict Other Software:

The license must not place restrictions on other software that is distributed along with the licensed software. For example, the license must not insist that all other programs distributed on the same medium must be open-source software.


see: http://www.opensource.org/docs/definition.php

Reply Score: 1

RE: Freedom?
by ma_d on Tue 19th Dec 2006 02:49 UTC in reply to "Freedom?"
ma_d Member since:
2005-06-29

What? I do believe they said "you can use our crap, and we'll help you, but we won't help you use their crap with our crap."

Way to distort the "opposing side" into a radical position which you can easily show to be wrong. AKA: Putting words in their mouth. AKA: Strawman.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Freedom?
by jerutley on Tue 19th Dec 2006 05:52 UTC in reply to "Freedom?"
jerutley Member since:
2006-08-17

Quote: vtolkov

If about my freedom, I do not think someone should be able to limit me in what I'm doing with the product I legally own.

Response:

NOONE is limiting your freedom to do what you want. Nowhere does it say that you CAN NOT use a driver with a blob. The only possible restriction is that you *MAY* not be able to redistribute the result. Remember the GPL license covering the Linux kernel is a copyright license, which by definition can only restrict distribution. You are free to do with it whatever you want on your own computer - but you may not be able to give the result to others.

But, those "binary blob" drivers are not "Free Software" nor "Open Source". You do not have the freedom to modify them to suit your purpose, and you are not provided with the source.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Freedom?
by Ford Prefect on Tue 19th Dec 2006 11:48 UTC in reply to "Freedom?"
Ford Prefect Member since:
2006-01-16

Nobody, literally nobody says you aren't allowed to use your driver.

There are only people who say, if you want to do so, you have to fetch it yourself.


And I would like to know who the "linux guys" are, some friends of yours?

Reply Score: 5

RE: Freedom?
by angryrobot on Tue 19th Dec 2006 13:36 UTC in reply to "Freedom?"
angryrobot Member since:
2006-04-26

You absolutely can use a driver with a blob. There is nothing stopping you from doing that. What they want to do is make it so you can't *distribute* the kernel with non-free drivers.

So really, what you have here is people (the Linux devs) trying to enforce their copyright by having the drivers which arguably violate their license removed from the distributions.

They are in no way violating "your freedom". They are trying to make it so you don't lose it.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Freedom?
by mcmv200i on Tue 19th Dec 2006 19:46 UTC in reply to "Freedom?"
mcmv200i Member since:
2006-12-14

"you definitely can copy our crap, but you do not have rights to use their driver"

Absolutely not true. You must not restrict how free software should be used --- otherwise it is no free software.

In the case of free software:

Freedom 0 of the 4 freedoms of software: The freedom to run the program, for any purpose.
see: http://www.fsf.org/licensing/essays/free-sw.html

In the case of open source:

6. No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor
see: http://www.opensource.org/docs/definition.php

Reply Score: 1

Features doesnt mean Freedom
by xsun on Mon 18th Dec 2006 23:52 UTC
xsun
Member since:
2006-12-11

First of all, lets made the definition of the words to start any kind of discussion. The word 'freedom' in the title reffers to 'software freedom'. If we are talking about software freedom, obviously we are talking about free software, in other words GPL (because Ubuntu is a Linux distribution and Linux is licensed under GPL).

Finnaly, the word 'feature' reffers to the proprietary drivers.

Now, what kind of relation exist between proprietary drivers and software freedom? I can easily awnser this question. _ANY_ kind of relation! Proprietary drivers, wich autor calls 'features', are completly the oposite of GPL.

You (yes, you wich use, supports and believe in GPL philosophy) should kick that damn proprietary drivers away and start to support the really free software (Intel drivers for example).

Conclusion (number one), some guys here said, "more feature are more freedom". That statement are well reasonable but not in this case, just because 'feature' are proprietary drivers according to the text.

Conclusion (number two), Ubuntu just can't do this because its ilegal. You can't distribute a proprietary sofware with GPL sfotware.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Features doesnt mean Freedom
by stestagg on Mon 18th Dec 2006 23:57 UTC in reply to "Features doesnt mean Freedom"
stestagg Member since:
2006-06-03

You can't distribute a proprietary sofware with GPL sfotware.

You can, in some cases. You just have to be damn careful not to violate the GPL.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Features doesnt mean Freedom
by givre on Tue 19th Dec 2006 00:19 UTC in reply to "Features doesnt mean Freedom"
givre Member since:
2006-11-27

"You can't distribute a proprietary sofware with GPL sfotware."

I don't know why people continue to say that.
You can think that proprietary driver are bad, and it is what i also think, but you *can't* say that they are illegal. This is more complicate than that.

linus say it like that : it's a grey situation.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Features doesnt mean Freedom
by xsun on Tue 19th Dec 2006 00:27 UTC in reply to "RE: Features doesnt mean Freedom"
xsun Member since:
2006-12-11

I don't say they are ilegal. I say, distribute them with GPL softwares is ilegal (save some cases as stestagg properly corrected-me).

Edited 2006-12-19 00:29

Reply Score: 1

nicholas Member since:
2005-07-07

This is only your opinion, not a fact.

Your opinion counts for nothing. Same as mine and everyone else who posts here like they are some IP lawyer with all the answers.

It is definately not illegal in my country. I could distribute GPL software with proprietary software, then walk into my local police station and confess.

I would not be arrested as I haven't broken any law, therefore this act is not illegal.

I expect it is the same in your country too.

Reply Score: 2

Amaranth Member since:
2005-06-29

Just because you don't get arrested doesn't mean it isn't illegal. Civil law vs criminal law.

Reply Score: 3

nicholas Member since:
2005-07-07

Wrong.

In the UK at least. Dunno what country you are from.

Reply Score: 0

Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

"Just because you don't get arrested doesn't mean it isn't illegal. Civil law vs criminal law."

I think you're mixing up terms here. Let me try to explain:

There are two kinds of contravention (offense/offence against the law) in criminal law: Felony of request (Antragsdelikt) and official felony (Offizialdelikt). The first one implies that someone has to file an offense/offence about violation of license terms. In most cases this won't be. The authorities of prosecution (public attorney) won't do anything, so there will be no arrest.

In civil law it's almost the same, but the case does not need a law to be broken. Anyone can sue anyone. It's up to the judge (or the jury) to decide.

I'm sorry my english regarding termini technici of law is not that good. :-)

To come back on topic: As mentioned in some post before, it's just about definition what the terms "feature" and "freedom" stand for.

At one point, the author talks about computers. He states: "They are no longer the ugly beige boxes shoved under a desk in a cold office, they are must-have items that help us run our lives, define our style and allow us to share and communicate with each other."

Doesn't he have a real life? :-) Most boxes offered in stores are still ugly beige or ugly childish. I for myself like the ddesign done by SGI and Sun. Define your style... with a ugly beige box... :-)

Then he discusses the need of proprietary 3D drivers. I think the simplest solutions are the best. Such drivers should be allowed to be included, and the user has to decide if he wants to use them or not. A dialog could be like this: "If you want to enable 'Hot Desktop Flip 3D Pro Super New', you need to install the following driver: NXV300GL/3D+. This driver is NOT maintained by the authors of the (e. g. Linux) software you're installing right now. It may be illegal in your country to use this driver. Do you want to install it? [YES] [NO]" And finally it's freedom for the user to decide what he wants to install. Next problem: Can the authors of a (Linux) distribution assume the user has a clue to this topic? With a MICROS~1 product, there would be no such question. :-)

Reply Score: 1

slight Member since:
2006-09-10

No you're completely wrong I'm afraid.

You can distribute what you want with GPL code. The issue is about how you license code that is a derivative work of GPL code, regardless of whether it's distributed or not.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Features doesnt mean Freedom
by spikeb on Tue 19th Dec 2006 00:36 UTC in reply to "Features doesnt mean Freedom"
spikeb Member since:
2006-01-18

First off, in many cases what you posted is flat out not true. Binary kernel modules might be a different story, though.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Features doesnt mean Freedom
by Morin on Tue 19th Dec 2006 14:16 UTC in reply to "Features doesnt mean Freedom"
Morin Member since:
2005-12-31

> You (yes, you wich use, supports and believe in GPL philosophy) should
> kick that damn proprietary drivers away and start to support the really
> free software (Intel drivers for example).

Last time I checked, Intel didn't write drivers for nvidia cards.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Features doesnt mean Freedom
by BluenoseJake on Tue 19th Dec 2006 17:14 UTC in reply to "Features doesnt mean Freedom"
BluenoseJake Member since:
2005-08-11

That's not true, you can, you just can't link it with GPL code, but putting them on the same CD? Sure as hell is legal, and I think important, as it increases the users choices, and hence their absolute level of freedom.

Reply Score: 1

3D is not the only relevant feature here
by Wes Felter on Tue 19th Dec 2006 00:42 UTC
Wes Felter
Member since:
2005-11-15

Multimedia codecs are also a problem in the USA due to patents. Unfortunately, patent problems can't be solved with reverse engineering, and asking a dozen patent holders to stop charging royalties is likely to be even more difficult than convincing one company to open its 3D drivers.

DRM systems (e.g. DVDs) are even worse since they're usually covered by a trifecta of patents, trade secrets, and the DMCA.

Reply Score: 4

Turning hypocrisy into opportunity
by b3timmons on Tue 19th Dec 2006 00:49 UTC
b3timmons
Member since:
2006-08-26

The author sees hypocrisy as a big problem. Four points come to mind:

1. He oversimplifies it by lumping together (A) proprietary software use, (B) Gmail use, and (C) Microsoft-shop work. Addressing (A) should be the top priority and is most relevant to the article.

2. He understates it as a problem. IMO, it is the free software (as opposed to open source) community's biggest problem. To advocate with conviction, honesty, and effectiveness, one must understand the price of freedom, such as inconvenience. This brings collateral benefits, since we will better handle advocating for more important freedoms, such as free speech. The biggest reason why civil liberties have eroded and will continue to erode so badly is that almost everyone takes freedom for granted and needs to learn that it has a price of some kind, such as inconvenience.

3. This problem is so ubiquitous and tough that it needs to be addressed systematically. For example, choosing the gNewSense derivative of Ubuntu is a good solution, since it is the first distribution whose purpose is to be comprised of 100% free software. I believe Fedora is also striving hard here -- they are intriguing, IMO.

4. The silver lining is that the best solution to the problem reveals the value of community. Already, we see how the comments outshine the article itself and that several people are enthusiastic about moving more to 100% free software. More generally, it is heartening to see how distributions evolve to solve ever more diverse problems for the user. As a former long-term Debian user, I love this process and envision an even more progressive process with gNewSense. Naturally, Debian-derived distributions are on the cutting-edge of community building in general.

Edited 2006-12-19 00:57

Reply Score: 5

be a realist
by arielb on Tue 19th Dec 2006 01:14 UTC
arielb
Member since:
2006-11-15

Perfection is the enemy of the good.

Reply Score: 4

Why can't we have the best of both?
by flanque on Tue 19th Dec 2006 01:33 UTC
flanque
Member since:
2005-12-15

I sit back and watch all this debating about using proprietary drivers in GPL products and wonder.. are we really moving forward by slinging these arguments back and forth? Maybe, maybe not.

To my mind we're focusing on the wrong problem here. Why do we focus on the drivers rather than the root cause of why we focus on drivers, which to me is the seemingly restrictiveness of the GPL itself.

Now I know many people loath proprietary systems and that's their freedom of choice which I support, but inherit in the purpose of the GPL's goal of "freedom" are restrictions on how GPL code/products interact with proprietary code/products.

If something is truly meant to encourage and foster freedom, it cannot place unrealistic restrictions which damage the uptake of it's very purpose. As for drivers, I feel this is one such situation. I'm aware that people can install proprietary drivers after the fact, but I'm still left wondering why this is even necessary.

I don't feel that it should be necessary for close drivers to have their source code released, conditional that they do not use a single piece of GPL code. Calls to GPL libraries are fine with me however.

Maybe one day there will be a truly open end-to-end environment but Iíts decades off I feel. The focus should be on the user and the experience, not on the philosophical merits of legal points of view.

Reply Score: 5

b3timmons Member since:
2006-08-26

"Maybe one day there will be a truly open end-to-end environment but Iíts decades off I feel. The focus should be on the user and the experience, not on the philosophical merits of legal points of view."

No, there cannot be a single focus. On the one hand, licenses and law are essential to the process, and many developers are undeniably passionate about the license they choose. On the other hand, diverse business needs will inevitably drive implementation.

Of course, almost everyone involved falls in between the two extremes. The biggest mistake about where to make the tradeoff is to be ignorant of history and how this kind of ever-present struggle has played out in the past.

Reply Score: 2

codehead78 Member since:
2006-08-04

Because the Free Software Movement is not just about growing an Open System, it's also about applying pressure to Closed Systems. The rules for a developer are what everyone talks about but the End User is the one that has to deal with a level of inconvenience.

They do not use the software for free, they help apply pressure to Closed Systems. Problem is, it's not enough pressure so it ends up only hurting the user.

I don't see any legal way out of this pickle. But "legal" never stopped anyone from getting their music how they want it, why should it be any different for Linux.

Reply Score: 1

angryrobot Member since:
2006-04-26

This is a tough one, but you see it's a slippery slope. Once you give proprietary companies an inch, such as the loophole they are currently exploiting to get binary drivers distributed, they will take a mile. The so called "restrictiveness" of the GPL is the only thing stopping them. And really, the GPL is only "restrictive" if you are a proprietary software company.

Of course developers want people to use their product, but it's the ideals which made Linux what it is today, not compromises. The people that MADE the software don't like what the video card companies are doing, and want to update the license to stop them from violating their copyright. And that's their right as the people who wrote the software.

Personally, as a long time Linux user I've never had an issue with the driver thing. I've always been able to use free drivers. I guess for me I'd rather have a fully open system rather than a locked up proprietary system, even if that means it is "missing" certain features. Of course, I don't think I'm missing anything, but your experience might be different.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Why can't we have the best of both?
by Wes Felter on Tue 19th Dec 2006 02:16 UTC
Wes Felter
Member since:
2005-11-15

I don't see what the GPL has to do with it. BSD-licensed OSes have the same problems with closed drivers.

Reply Score: 2

DrillSgt Member since:
2005-12-02

"I don't see what the GPL has to do with it. BSD-licensed OSes have the same problems with closed drivers."

Not exactly. The BSD license allows you to distribute closed and open BSD licensed software together. You can even take BSD licensed code, modify it without giving the changes back to anyone, and sell it as your own. The GPL does not allow for any of that.

Reply Score: 2

Recommended reading
by saxiyn on Tue 19th Dec 2006 02:42 UTC
saxiyn
Member since:
2005-07-08

I recommend reading Lucas Nussbaum's reply to Jono Bacon's post, to balance the view.

http://www.lucas-nussbaum.net/blog/?p=223

Reply Score: 2

RE: Recommended reading
by WorknMan on Tue 19th Dec 2006 03:38 UTC in reply to "Recommended reading"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

I recommend reading Lucas Nussbaum's reply to Jono Bacon's post, to balance the view.

http://www.lucas-nussbaum.net/blog/?p=223


From the article you linked, here's what should be the quote of the day:

Most users of Windows have very good reasons for using Windows, like proprietary applications that have no equivalent in the Free Software world. I don't think that "Linux doesn't have a 3D desktop" is the major blocker for people not using Linux.

Finally, one of them has understood ...

Edited 2006-12-19 03:40

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Recommended reading
by arielb on Tue 19th Dec 2006 07:26 UTC in reply to "RE: Recommended reading"
arielb Member since:
2006-11-15

yes, if the biggest thing linux has right now is 3D effects then that's pretty sad. If I wanted to see something really cool, I'd play a 3D game.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Recommended reading
by DrillSgt on Tue 19th Dec 2006 15:13 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Recommended reading"
DrillSgt Member since:
2005-12-02

"yes, if the biggest thing linux has right now is 3D effects then that's pretty sad. If I wanted to see something really cool, I'd play a 3D game."

Linux offers much more then that. The big thing about the 3D desktop is that the other OS players already have this now. This makes it important in the aspect of Joe or Jane User, as lets face it, what they look for in a computer is not so much the functionality, but the bling they can see when they turn it on. That is sad to say, but it is also a fact of life. They don't care one bit that the software is free, either as in beer or freedom, but that it looks nice when it runs, and that it just works. The order there is intentional, as I have actually dealt with some people trying to do things, and the computer they bought wouldn't handle it, and the answer they give when asked was "The computer looked so nice in the store".

Reply Score: 2

uh
by deanlinkous on Tue 19th Dec 2006 03:20 UTC
deanlinkous
Member since:
2006-06-19

no compromise!
We win by remaining true to free software.
The only *things* I want are what free software can provide.

Edited 2006-12-19 03:24

Reply Score: 5

Why is Linux interesting?
by tux68 on Tue 19th Dec 2006 03:30 UTC
tux68
Member since:
2006-10-24

If Linux wasn't an _OPEN_ operating system, it wouldn't be interesting. Its success is based directly on the fact that it is free for users to do with as they wish. That includes users who want to use proprietary drivers and software on top of it. That's freedom #0, you can do whatever you want with the software.

However, promoting the use of proprietary drivers and software goes against the very thing that makes Linux important in the first place. It's frustrating for those of us who care about free software to hear so many people willing to throw away the gains already made and retreat back into the embrace of proprietary software in the name of convenience or "pragmatism".

In my opinion the choice each of us face is NOT between freedom and features. The choice is between helping to promote and extend free software or giving up and embracing some half-free, semi-proprietary solution.

Look at what free software has already given us today, look how many features are now available in free software that a few years ago only existed in proprietary solutions. Let's not give up on it now and just embrace and promote some semi-free-proprietary-kludge in the name of pragmatism.

But for those that have real needs now that can't be met by free software today, by all means do whatever you have to do to get the job done. But please fight a bit for free software at the same time. Don't just take the free software you're using for granted, give a little something back if only some loyalty.

For those of us that are lucky enough to have our needs met by free software today, let's not be smug or condescending about it, remember somewhere in our past each of us have used and benefited from proprietary solutions too.

<pie-in-the-sky>
It would be nice if we could just stop all this silly bickering about licenses and enjoy how far we've come and get on with the work that is still in front of us.
</pie-in-the-sky>

Edited 2006-12-19 03:31

Reply Score: 5

Pragmatic, But Focused
by llanitedave on Tue 19th Dec 2006 04:18 UTC
llanitedave
Member since:
2005-07-24

One thing we should keep in mind:

Richard Stallman used proprietary, closed software while developing his GNU system. He did it because it had the features he needed. In fact, there was no alternative.

Freedom is only meaningful when you can do useful things with it.

We're in a similar boat with graphics drivers. There are no Free graphics drivers available, yet we need to do graphics work.

The alternative? Do what Stallman did:

1. Use proprietary software when that is all that is available.
2. Focus on creating Free equivalents that will replace the proprietary software when they are ready.

The discussion really shouldn't be about whether we should use proprietary drivers. If there's nothing else available, then we should be pragmatic. The discussion should be about "How's that work coming on the GNU graphics drivers?"

Reply Score: 2

RE: Pragmatic, But Focused
by tux68 on Tue 19th Dec 2006 04:36 UTC in reply to "Pragmatic, But Focused"
tux68 Member since:
2006-10-24

There _are_ free graphics drivers available. The open source r300 drives my newish ati X700 graphics card very well with impressive 3D performance. It runs compiz/beryl very well for example, and a few 3d games i threw at it worked okay too.

Is this the ultimate choice for everyone? No.. but let's stop saying there are no Free graphics drivers available, because that's simply not true any more.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Pragmatic, But Focused
by llanitedave on Tue 19th Dec 2006 04:43 UTC in reply to "RE: Pragmatic, But Focused"
llanitedave Member since:
2005-07-24

I stand corrected, tux68. Thanks. It's a start. So let's keep working on filling out that picture, and getting it working well for those who need it.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Pragmatic, But Focused
by trenchsol on Tue 19th Dec 2006 14:16 UTC in reply to "Pragmatic, But Focused"
trenchsol Member since:
2006-12-07

That is not a good advice. If one is able to create good software, she/he should focus on software that could improve her/his living standard and wealth.

It does no mean that one should not write open source at all.

DG

Reply Score: 1

RE: Pragmatic, But Focused
by elsewhere on Tue 19th Dec 2006 17:52 UTC in reply to "Pragmatic, But Focused"
elsewhere Member since:
2005-07-13

The discussion really shouldn't be about whether we should use proprietary drivers. If there's nothing else available, then we should be pragmatic. The discussion should be about "How's that work coming on the GNU graphics drivers?"

You bring up an interesting point, because I find that many of the people crying freedom frequently quote from the gospel of the FSF and the four freedoms. Fair enough.

But these people often overlook that while freedom for the user is the ultimate goal for the FSF and the GPL is the preferred tool for achieving that, compromise is sometimes necessary even in pursuit of absolute freedom.

The LGPL is a perfect example. It exists as a compromise to the more restrictive GPL in order to gain wider acceptance for the library. The FSF doesn't like the LGPL, they discourage it, but they make it available because in certain cases it is a reasonable compromise. Mostly in cases where the free software/library does not offer a significant advantage over non-free alternatives. Certainly they encourage the development of GPL libraries where preferable.

But the point is about compromise. Everybody wants to make the debate about software freedom a black and white issue; maybe it is. But the method for achieving that is certainly not so clear cut.

The Gnome desktop is licensed under LGPL specifically to allow the development of proprietary or non-GPL applications. Does this make sense? How does this reconcile with the four freedoms?

It's pragmatism. If you want people to adopt the Gnome desktop at the expense of proprietary or non-free desktops, you need to reduce the barriers for developers to port or deliver applications. So does an LGPL Gnome desktop fly in the face of the FSF philosophy, or is it a necessary step towards bringing more freedom to users?

I may take exception sometimes to RMS's somewhat extreme points of view from time to time, but I'd have to say that I still find his big-picture view of free software to be a little more accommodating than that of many members in the community that like to quote him verbatim and apply his ideology statically to everything, condemning that which does not fit.

So I see it the same way with kernel development and proprietary drivers. Most of the kernel devs are less tied up in the philosophy of closed drivers, and are just tired of trying to debug kernel issues caused by closed drivers they don't have access to. I won't argue that, I've pointed at drivers being one of the biggest weaknesses for the stability of Windows so I would have to hold the same standard to linux.

But as with the LGPL versus the GPL, what is the actual growth potential for the kernel if it's ability to actually be used in the real-world is hindered?

The nvidia argument is a good example. There seems to be this misguided belief that if users boycott the nvidia driver for linux and choose to use either the open driver or a better supported card, that nvidia will suddenly crack open the vault and clamour for the community's support.

I don't think so. This logic is flawed because the only reason the community has access to high quality linux drivers is because nVidia has a small but worthy customer base of graphics professionals running linux workstations with specialized applications and nvidia hardware. The universal blob certainly simplifies multi-platform support, but if nvidia didn't have a paying customer base to support, I doubt the community would be enjoying the fringe benefit of high quality driver support.

But aside from that, look at what has recently changed in the graphics card space.

A couple of years ago, it was pretty much assumed that you used nvidia if you wanted proper driver support.

Then Intel decided to open their drivers, and now you can credibly select to move to Intel if you want properly open and supported drivers.

Now you have AMD hinting they may look at opening portions of the ATI driver infrastructure. Maybe they will, maybe we'll see a reversal with ATI becoming the preferred brand for high-performance linux computing.

But the point is the market will ultimately decide for themselves. If ATI and nVidia had been significantly hindered from supporting linux, they would never have bothered and we'd probably be in a worse spot than we are now.

If vendors believe the market potential is there, they will open their API's or drivers in a similar manner to Intel. But linux needs to make itself a viable market in order to win that vendor support, and that will involve compromise along the way. I fully believe people should have the choice not to use proprietary drivers, but I don't think the choice should be taken away from others that would do so willingly.

Personally, I probably wouldn't be using linux as anything more than an experimental toy if it weren't for my nicely tainted kernel. I'll select the open alternatives when they're available, but I'll use it by whatever method I need to get my work done TODAY. I feel no shame or guilt in doing so. I'm willing to accept the compromises I've had to make in ditching Windows for daily use even at work but I've got my limits, and that's simply a personal value equation based on my own requirements and objectives, unique to me just as everybody has their own.

Compromise is not a four-letter word, particularly when it helps you achieve your ultimate goal.

Reply Score: 3

Food for thought
by Nycran on Tue 19th Dec 2006 05:33 UTC
Nycran
Member since:
2006-02-06

You'll have to excuse my post here because I'm going to raise several questions that are only loosely connected to the main issue. Still, I think they're good discussion points.

Question 1: If we allow companies to profit from open source, are we allowing exploitation?

It seems to me that companies like Novell & Canonical are exploiting the open source community. They are making a profit (a successful enterprise), whilst simultaneously there are many many coders that contribute to the very foundation of the operating system (ie, the kernel, the file systems, memory management, etc) and receive nothing in return for their labor.

It seems wrong to me that we have this mix of charity & enterprise. Why should one person be paid, and another not, just because their job description changes? To draw an analogy, if I donated some land to a good cause, I would not expect a house to be built on that land and then sold. Is this so different to what's happening with Linux?

Why is Linux being mainstream or achieving world domination a priority?

I thought Linux was, at it's very core, about distributing a solution that can be changed, modified and enhanced by anyone. Am I wrong about this? If not, why should anyone care whether 100 or 100 million people use it? If you remove the need to be popular, the decision at hand is easy: don't include ANYTHING proprietary. Linux is open and free - let's leave it that way.

IMHO if Linux starts seeing itself as being a *competitor* in a commercial world, it just becomes another Windows, and the whole point is lost. People keep saying "we must compromise to compete". The better question is, why are we competing at all?

Anyway, this is very interesting stuff. I hope people think it through.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Food for thought
by trenchsol on Tue 19th Dec 2006 14:18 UTC in reply to "Food for thought"
trenchsol Member since:
2006-12-07

Good point. GNU people should decide are they creating software for theselves or for the people out there. I've been saying that for a long time.

DG

Reply Score: 1

Linux just isn't ready for everyone...
by Tuishimi on Tue 19th Dec 2006 06:18 UTC
Tuishimi
Member since:
2005-07-06

...and by that I don't mean that it is not CAPABLE, I mean that not everyone is ready to adopt the mindset that allows one the freedom of options, personal configuration, etc.

The ability to get closer to my operating system is a good thing (in my opinion) and if a feature you need is missing, knowing how to get it is priceless - what's more, knowing how to get it is a google away, or maybe just a man page away.

Honestly, I am no genius and I have found both (modern) Linux and the BSDs to be easy to install and to configure and they come with a large and helpful userbase most of whom are willing to help newbies.

In the case of Linux and the BSDs YOU make YOUR operating system.

Reply Score: 2

trenchsol Member since:
2006-12-07

There are many people out there that specificaly DO NOT WANT to build their own operating system. They want it ready made for them. Those people are the majority of computer users.

Here comes the GNU/Ambivalence. On one side there is a desire to expand the Linux user base. On the other side there is a need to create and maintain OS that meets functional requirements and political agenda of GNU community and FSF.

THere is no way to satisfy both. GNU people should choose one course of action and follow it until they reach the goal.

Expanding user base would require cooperation with proprietary vendors like Microsoft.

Meeting specifical requirements would narrow the user base.

DG

Reply Score: 1

Morin Member since:
2005-12-31

> In the case of Linux and the BSDs YOU make YOUR operating system.

Many people pay money exactly so that they don't have to. They can still benefit indirectly from free software, in the way that the shop that builds their system can freely throw together their OS. But an end-user doesn't want to assemble the OS, they think in terms of features, not of components.

Reply Score: 3

freedom
by JernejL on Tue 19th Dec 2006 09:52 UTC
JernejL
Member since:
2006-03-15

"We allow 3D proprietary drivers and sacrifice part of our freedom" <- what are they exactly sacrificing? this part needs to be explained because otherwise the whole article IS RUBBISH. Are they becomming a religion or something?!?

Reply Score: 1

RE: freedom
by deathshadow on Tue 19th Dec 2006 10:17 UTC in reply to "freedom"
deathshadow Member since:
2005-07-12

>> "We allow 3D proprietary drivers and sacrifice part
>> of our freedom" - what are they exactly
>> sacrificing? this part needs to be explained
>> because otherwise the whole article IS RUBBISH. Are
>> they becomming a religion or something?!?

As I've said before, LOOK at the language used by the FSF and it's rather zealous advocates, and you have your answer. It is the language of indoctrination - same used by every evangelist, leftist kook and right wingnut since the dawn of religion and politics... Same language as Malcom X and David Duke, as Ted Kennedy and Newt Gingrich, as Martin Luther King and Adolf Hitler, and as the tobacco lobbyists and PETA. It has a meter and tone designed to break your thought process into 'them and us' and how the evil 'them' is somehow persecuting the rest of 'us'... Trust me, I used to be a union organizer, I learned very quickly to recognize this ****. One sees a careful crafting of the words to motivate without inducing thought - to play on the emotions in such a way nobody takes the time to read or think about what's ACTUALLY being said.

Which is why all the 'free as in freedom' (without actually understanding the WORD freedom) zealotry ends up about as effective at fighting the power as 'taking on the evil corporations by jamming to a crunchy groove' - and why most of the time anyone who understands business or economics ends up telling the FSF kooks to go back to their tofu and drum circles...

Frankly, the die hard 'open software to the exclusion of all others' attitude has to be JUST AS CLOSED MINDED AND ANTI FREEDOM as the 'closed source or nothing' (which is more myth - what closed source maker gets their panties in a wad when you use open source alongside it?)

One of the aspects of freedom that the FSF folks HATE is by definition freedom means choice - and they do SO WANT TO REMOVE CHOICE from you... The choice to PAY for quality software... the choice to GET PAID FOR WRITING software in the first place... The choice to use a product someone feels is worth protecting under copyright laws...

Freedom is a two way street - and one needs to pay attention when people waving the freedom banner say their way or the highway, because that's no freedom at all.

Which is why whenever I hear someone say "I wont use closed source software" I say "Enjoy your socialism" because you just took away your own ability to choose... or even rationally consider alternatives.

Edited 2006-12-19 10:18

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: freedom
by tux68 on Tue 19th Dec 2006 10:33 UTC in reply to "RE: freedom"
tux68 Member since:
2006-10-24

Which is why whenever I hear someone say "I wont use closed source software" I say "Enjoy your socialism" because you just took away your own ability to choose... or even rationally consider alternatives.

Very few people that I know who consider themselves open source advocates take the stance you outline. But you would label anyone who does make a CHOICE to not used closed source software a kook and a socialist. Interesting how you decide to label people who make a CHOICE for themselves. Funny how you want to belittle that CHOICE even though you claim to be supporting CHOICE.

Reply Score: 5

RE[3]: freedom
by deathshadow on Wed 20th Dec 2006 14:43 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: freedom"
deathshadow Member since:
2005-07-12

>> Very few people that I know who consider themselves
>> open source advocates take the stance you outline.

REALLY? Wow, talk about having one's head in the sand... have you READ the FSF site? Have you even READ the posts in this very thread? You know, the ones like:

http://www.osnews.com/permalink.php?news_id=16758&comment_id=194139

>> Having convenient software is important but
>> convenience is no excuse for requiring us to give
>> up our freedom. The only time we install non-free
>> software is when we intend to write a free-software
>> replacement for it.

For me, software is about getting work done - and most of the DESKTOP free software falls so flat on it's face by comparison that I cannot do so... While linux is my #2 choice for servers (behind Solaris), on the desktop it is such a /fail/ hard that all this 'freedom' nonsense means exactly two things to me... and Jack left town, took his **** with him.

Blender is a tinkertoy compared to 3ds max, GIMP is a tinkertoy compared to a half decade old copy of Paint Shop Pro, much less Photoshop, and for business apps not only is OoO still flakey as hell and slower than molassas in february, but thanks to it's relying on freetype it ends up with a crack addict font kerning that makes me want to take a hot poker to my eyeballs... Then the Gecko based browsers that crash X11 every fifteen minutes due to the memory 'feature' (It's not a leak, really it isn't... RIGHT) then there's the headache of just trying to get OpenGL working with mainstream cards - which STILL ends up half the speed of it's windows counterpart thanks to it being saddled atop that steaming pile known as X11 (Which continues to be the dead albatross around linux's neck) and one starts to see a good reason to go screaming back to Microsoft and/or Apple...

Oh, but open source software is so superior - RIGHT... Seriously, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is in the OSS kool aid? Probably the same stuff they put in the food in College cafeteria's.

I want to run Opera, I want to run 3ds Max, I want to run Office, I want the latest nVidia and/or ATI drivers - and that means I could really give a **** about the 'morally superior' Open source or not.

Of course, part of the problem is the FSF nuts longing to go back to their pre-1975 elitist club, throwing around rubbish like 'damage to the end user' and how 'evil' proprietary is, ignoring that for the past three decades closed source proprietary software is what drove the industry to where it is today - without substantiating any of their wild claims.

Edited 2006-12-20 14:50

Reply Score: 0

RE[4]: freedom
by deanlinkous on Wed 20th Dec 2006 17:58 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: freedom"
deanlinkous Member since:
2006-06-19

software is about getting work done
really and what if the work you want to get done is the latest Java yet you want that on windows 2000? What happened to your choice? Dictated choices are NOT choices and certainly not freedom...

What if you want office 2007 on windows 2000? Where is that choice.

The only choice they are giving you is to get the latest and greatest by paying and paying and paying and get a new system or two while you are at it or be stuck with old software, unsupported software and no way to do your *work* if it requires anything recent.

Dictated choices are hardly choices. YOU are the brainwashed one thinking that them throwing you a couple bones somehow equals freedom.

You have been duped into giving all that up to play the latest format. Slowly but surely they will have you give up any control you have and you will gladly do it to get that latest greatest media format so you can do your *work* and you will never suspect that you never had a choice but what they gave you.

They are dangling a carrot and a ear of corn and somehow you think that you have a choice....either way you are still plodding along down the path they set for you.

Edited 2006-12-20 17:59

Reply Score: 2

What is Freedom?
by npang on Tue 19th Dec 2006 09:57 UTC
npang
Member since:
2006-11-26

Everyone needs to understand that when we (free software activists) talk about freedom with relation to software, we are referring to "the four freedoms of free software". We refer to the freedom to use, the freedom to tinker, the freedom to distribute, and the freedom to publish the software that we run on OUR OWN SYSTEMS. Any other freedom that you may care about is secondary to these four freedoms.

Our doctrine states that software that doesn't permit these four freedoms are harmful to our freedoms because this software requires us to give up our freedoms in order to partake in it. Stallman has written an essay (a long one) that further explains why non-free software is not good - http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/shouldbefree.html. Having convenient software is important but convenience is no excuse for requiring us to give up our freedom. The only time we install non-free software is when we intend to write a free-software replacement for it.

This doctrine explains why this developer wrote this article in the first place. This particular developer believes in the free software philosophy and is also tolerant to non-free software when it is convenient. So this person is having the dilemma of choosing between being true to the free software doctrine or choosing to allow non-free software to facilitate the increased adoption of the GNU/Linux based operating system. For me, the issue is simple - no non-free software of any sort.

Edited 2006-12-19 10:08

Reply Score: 4

RE: What is Freedom?
by trenchsol on Tue 19th Dec 2006 13:42 UTC in reply to "What is Freedom?"
trenchsol Member since:
2006-12-07

Any other freedom that you may care about is secondary to these four freedoms

That is your opinion only. It does not apply to me. Common Freedom is much more impotant than GNU/Freedom to me. Appears that I am not the only one, there are than 95% computer users that use software that is not free in a GNU manner.

Your arguments are vali only if you audience are willing to buy FSF philosophy. It is like talking to religious persons. All their arguments have sense only if audience accepts the existence of god.

BTW, have you, GNU people, ever tried to count you number. It is always "we this" and "we that". I wonder how many are "we" ? Why should anybody listen to "we" ?

DG

Reply Score: 1

new term proposition: GNU/Freedom
by trenchsol on Tue 19th Dec 2006 10:57 UTC
trenchsol
Member since:
2006-12-07

I propose a new term, "GNU/Freedom". It will help to make the distinction between the common meaning of the word "Freedom" and the concept introduced by FSF.

The title of this article would be "Features vs. GNU/Freedom".

DG

Reply Score: 3

deanlinkous Member since:
2006-06-19

<ignore>

Edited 2006-12-19 14:10

Reply Score: 1

deanlinkous Member since:
2006-06-19

I propose a new term, "GNU/Freedom". It will help to make the distinction between the common meaning of the word "Freedom" and the concept introduced by FSF.

The term 'freedom' is not a strictly defined term. It has numerous meanings and can be applied various ways. Anytime you are able to do something then you have the *freedom* to do something. Language is a art and so you must interpret and infer the meaning by context. Obviously the FSF does not care about your freedom to bear arms, or your general freedom, pursuit of happiness and so forth. The freedoms, or as I like to call them *abilities* that the FSF are adamant about are:

* The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
* The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
* The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
* The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

Reply Score: 2

trenchsol Member since:
2006-12-07

The freedom to run the program, for any purpose

You are free to do it with ANY software if you pay for it. There is nothing wrong in paying for a good product.

The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs

In most cacse that means that you are programmer, even C/C++ programer. Most people are not, so it does not add much to their abilities or freedom of choice.

The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor

That is some kind of a freedom, but you are hurting the interests of the author. So, author has a logical choice to prevent you from using software (rule #0), which eliminates all other potential gains.

The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public

See above. Author has freedom to deny you the access to the software, and you have no abilities at all. That is the exact case with most frequently used software in the world (Windows OS, MS Office, Oracle database, IE, etc.)

So, I don't see how GNU/Freedom improves my abilities as a computer user.

DG

Reply Score: 2

deanlinkous Member since:
2006-06-19

But hopefully you realize that we do not need a new term to define FSF freedoms....

The rest of your points I wont bother with since you seem to think a dev would choose a license that somehow hurts him....

Reply Score: 2

trenchsol Member since:
2006-12-07

But hopefully you realize that we do not need a new term to define FSF freedoms

In fact I do. GNU/Freedom is just a set of arbitrary rules (4 of them). It has very little in common with real freedom in practical sense. If you live by those rules, there are many things that will remain out of your reach. In fact, living by those rules, is a kind of sacrifice.

DG

Reply Score: 3

deanlinkous Member since:
2006-06-19

In fact I do. GNU/Freedom is just a set of arbitrary rules (4 of them). It has very little in common with real freedom in practical sense. If you live by those rules, there are many things that will remain out of your reach. In fact, living by those rules, is a kind of sacrifice.
What is real freedom in the practical sense then?

Look up the word freedom in the dictionary and I think you will find at least 20 different meanings of usage.

Kids have the freedom to eat lunch during their lunchtime. That is a perfectly acceptable use of the word freedom. Consider the context, infer the usage and it won't confuse you - I swear.

If we defined every word that has various usage we would never get done...

I think of the four freedoms as rights or abilities which is perfectly defined by the word 'freedoms'.

Reply Score: 4

Obscurus Member since:
2006-04-20

The problem with the freedoms propounded by the FSF is that they explicitly deny the freedom of:

*Software developers to profit from their labour by preventing others from accessing the means to replicate their work (i.e, keeping the source code to themselves).

*Software developers to profit from their hard work by preventing people from distributing copies of their software without paying the developer for it.

Freedom means different things to different people, but the open source FSF model does not suit every developer or type of software. The freedom to make a living from your hard work is the most important freedom of all to many writers of software.

Reply Score: 1

deanlinkous Member since:
2006-06-19


*Software developers to profit from their labour by preventing others from accessing the means to replicate their work (i.e, keeping the source code to themselves).

Then don't choose the GPL license if you feel that way. The benefit to this is everyone shares code. Nobody has to start from scratch. Developing something *new* can be based off something already developed.

If you feel your work is that good then charge a million dollars for it, then I hope you would not mind if people share it. Charge a million for the source too.

*Software developers to profit from their hard work by preventing people from distributing copies of their software without paying the developer for it.
You profit by being able to use everyone else's hard work. If your work is that good then charge a million dollars for it - the FSF doesn't mind. Anyone can pirate non-free software also and that truly is a rip off. Starting from scratch, all that development and research, all that effort and it is wasted by illegal copies.

Freedom means different things to different people, but the open source FSF model does not suit every developer or type of software. The freedom to make a living from your hard work is the most important freedom of all to many writers of software.
Amazing anyone *chooses* the GPL if it is as bad as you say, huh? Just the fact that it is used so much would seem to argue that it is a good idea, wouldn't it?
Once again, charge all you want for your hard work. Start from scratch and watch it get pirated or start from a good code base and you can benefit along with others.

Of course feel free to charge a million bucks....again!

Reply Score: 3

vikramsharma
Member since:
2005-07-06

The main purpose of obtaining/buying any device is to have it working, and for that purpose we would need a driver. I have an Nvidia 6880 GS and without the drivers I would not be able to enjoy full potential of the card, not to mention the Xgl/AIGLX effects. Choice is important, even if it means choosing to install/use proprietary drivers.

Reply Score: 1

v Tim Holwerdi
by Tim Holwerdi on Tue 19th Dec 2006 12:07 UTC
focused
by Morin on Tue 19th Dec 2006 15:07 UTC
Morin
Member since:
2005-12-31

I think the author is right. He has a goal, that is, the promotion of free software. You may agree or disagree with this, but he is free to think this way. He values this goal very high, calling it a compromise to incorporate nonfree software.

However, unlike others sharing his goal, he does not blindly call any compromise unacceptable. He thinks that blob drivers cannot be the ultimate solution, but on the other hand accepts them as a temporal solution. If there is a wall between you and your goal, do you walk the indirect route, or do you run against the wall over and over again?

Also a nice thing is that he sees that Linux must be competitive to survive. Only the community took Linux as far as it is now, in terms of features, but also in terms of compatibility. Blaming companies that they don't release specification for hardware, file formats, protocols etc. means positioning yourself as the loser. A growing community has the power to *demand* that specifications be opened.

Reply Score: 2

RE: focused
by deanlinkous on Tue 19th Dec 2006 15:11 UTC in reply to "focused"
deanlinkous Member since:
2006-06-19

other hand accepts them as a temporal solution
temporary solutions have a bad way of dropping the *temporary* aspect...

How does a growing community have the power to demand specs be opened? With 50 million linux users, all running nvidia cards, all using closed drivers - that puts pressure on nvidia how?

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: focused
by Morin on Tue 19th Dec 2006 15:29 UTC in reply to "RE: focused"
Morin Member since:
2005-12-31

> How does a growing community have the power to demand specs be
> opened? With 50 million linux users, all running nvidia cards, all using
> closed drivers - that puts pressure on nvidia how?

A growing community is one that doesn't stop at 50m. A larger number also means more people who value free software and can actually use it, except for that driver. It means more people who want good integration of the driver. It means a louder outcry if there are bugs in the driver, or security problems - let alone an intentional backdoor. In short, it means that nvidia can actually lose something if they screw up.

It also means larger numbers of people who can learn from an open system and may want to learn how that last closed piece works.

It also means that many more people get to know about free software that never heard of it.

You may be referring to the following argument: What if nvidia don't screw up? What if they write a well-integrated, bugless, highly secure, superfast driver, always deliver it in time, never build intentional restrictions or backdoors into it... what if they actually make the sky blue, but the driver closed? Answer: Then at least the sky is blue, because right now it isn't.

EDIT: typo

EDIT: You should also note that while nvidia is quite good at delivering quality, many other hardware companies aren't, and they still keep specs private which must be reverse-engineered for Linux or other free software. More users means pressure on those companies too, eventually meaning specs, making high-quality free drivers possible, eventually meaning more users... you get the picture.

Edited 2006-12-19 15:33

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: focused
by deanlinkous on Tue 19th Dec 2006 17:11 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: focused"
deanlinkous Member since:
2006-06-19

You said this...
growing community has the power to *demand* that specifications be opened

I am simply asking how 50 million linux users or a 100 billion linux users that are using nvidia cards and gladly accepting the closed nvidia driver has *gained* enough power to demand specifications be opened.

Sounds like in this scenario that nvidia and closed has worked thus far, what would make nvidia change.

Now imagine this. A growing linux user base demanding only free drivers. How long could nvidia stand there and watch intel gain market share before they do something about it.

Using closed drivers will never bring about open drivers.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: focused
by tux68 on Tue 19th Dec 2006 17:12 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: focused"
tux68 Member since:
2006-10-24

A growing community is one that doesn't stop at 50m. A larger number also means more people who value free software and can actually use it, except for that driver. It means more people who want good integration of the driver. It means a louder outcry if there are bugs in the driver, or security problems - let alone an intentional backdoor. In short, it means that nvidia can actually lose something if they screw up

This is just nonsense. 50m people who have been told that free software isn't worth supporting by holding out for... wait for it... _free software_ drivers... aren't going to demand anything from nVidia. In the end we'll still be at the mercy of nVidia to provide and continue to support working drivers. That is the opposite of what free software is about. NO THANKS.

Let's do this right and promote good supportable open source drivers. _THAT_ is the way to show people the true value of open source, not by promoting some sickly hybrid which won't really deliver. All it takes is some patience. There is no reason to dump the open source foundation on which Linux was built for some false hope of making a 50m strong community faster... that's just a pipe dream.

It also means that many more people get to know about free software that never heard of it.

No. It means even more people will use some bastardized half baked o/s, get the wrong impression and fail to understand the real value of free software or why they should support it. There are way too many people in this category already as evidenced by many of the comments in this thread ;o)

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: focused
by deanlinkous on Tue 19th Dec 2006 17:20 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: focused"
deanlinkous Member since:
2006-06-19

Exactly!
can't really add anything to that post!

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: focused
by Morin on Tue 19th Dec 2006 22:29 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: focused"
Morin Member since:
2005-12-31

> Let's do this right and promote good supportable open source drivers.
> _THAT_ is the way to show people the true value of open source, not by
> promoting some sickly hybrid which won't really deliver.

That would, of course, be the nicer alternative... but then I'm waiting for the proof that *this* is more than a pipe dream.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: focused
by DonQ on Tue 19th Dec 2006 18:30 UTC in reply to "RE: focused"
DonQ Member since:
2005-06-29

"other hand accepts them as a temporal solution"

temporary solutions have a bad way of dropping the *temporary* aspect...

How does a growing community have the power to demand specs be opened? With 50 million linux users, all running nvidia cards, all using closed drivers - that puts pressure on nvidia how?


You're absolutely right ;)

Compare with ATI - they don't have [didn't have] useful propieritary drivers for linux. In result we have pretty good open source ATI drivers (well, I know that not for latest cards, but anyway).

If NVidia hadn't released their drivers for linux - probably we could have good opensource NVidia drivers too. Of course not for the latest cards though...

Neither situation doesn't put any pressure for ATI or NVidia to open their drivers. NVidia even doesn't need open their specifications, because everybody is using their drivers. ATI released some spec-s to help create multimedia drivers for older cards; for newer cards they don't need that anymore, becuase their closed drivers are working.

Reply Score: 1

What's a user to do
by blitze on Tue 19th Dec 2006 23:00 UTC
blitze
Member since:
2006-09-15

I side with not being able to deliver closed drivers bundled with the distro's.
Does it stop anyone from using closed drivers after their initial OS install?
No.

I personally use the Nvidia closed driver on my system and that's all I have needed to have a fully functioning Linux system. Ironically, Nvidia's Linux drivers work better on my system than their latest Windows Drivers which have screwed up Component out for TV connection.

What I would really like is what my sound card maker does though, and that is to provide the source for anyone who wants to make drivers for whatever they want. My Echo Gina3G works on Linux 64bit, it doesn't on Windows 64. Makes things a hell of a lot easier for me.

At which time the Open drivers for my video card becomes usable, I will switch over because I believe ultimately in open systems and their benefit to mankind. With open systems everyone is richer for it, with closed systems only the few are richerr for it.

This applies to software as much as it does for any other form of human endeavour and I see it as the biggest problem we face at the moment. Without open systems and transparency there can be no accountability.

Food for thought.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: new term proposition: GNU/Freedom
by npang on Wed 20th Dec 2006 03:44 UTC
npang
Member since:
2006-11-26

> In most cacse that means that you are programmer, even C/C++ programer. Most people are not, so it does not add much to their abilities or freedom of choice.

> See above. Author has freedom to deny you the access to the software, and you have no abilities at all. That is the exact case with most frequently used software in the world (Windows OS, MS Office, Oracle database, IE, etc.)


The point is that the user should have the freedom to study how the software works and improve the software. The user doesn't have to be the one doing the modifying. I pay my friend (who is a programmer) to add the features I desire to software in my behalf. Nobody is artificially preventing me from improving the (free) software I run on my system. It's just like dealing with auto mechanics, you can choose to tinker with your own car with your own hands or you can go to a mechanic and pay him to do it for you. No one is preventing you from tinkering your own car or preventing someone else to do it for you.

With non-free software, the user does not have the freedom (in most cases) to audit the software they run or improve it. If the user wants to improve the software, the user will have to lobby the author of the software to get this done. This is fine when the author is around to improve the software AND is willing to improve it. The user is helpless to improve the software they run without the author's support. You can say choose another software that works correctly but it still perpetuates the problem of being helpless because only the author is allowed to improve the software (assuming the next choice is non-free). With free software, the user is not prevented from getting the software they run to be improved.

Reply Score: 1

I would love that
by Alleister on Wed 20th Dec 2006 13:12 UTC
Alleister
Member since:
2006-05-29

It took me two hours to get graphics to work on my last Ubuntu install. I own an Geforce 6800GT Graphics card. That thing is a couple of GPU generations old, so i realy didn't expect trouble with that one.

Reply Score: 1