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ESR Says Linux Followers Should Compromise 540

Posted by Zonk
from the wake-up-and-smell-the-penguin dept.
jpheasant writes "Eric Raymond argues time is running out to win over the iPod generation. To get there, he says the Linux community will need to make 'compromises.' For starters: 'Linux believers will have to reach out beyond self-absorbed geeks who learns Klingon and attends science fiction conventions in his spare time.'" From the article: "I mean that we need to be prepared to go to the rights holders for these proprietary codecs and say, we'll give you money, give us a license; and this is something that the Linux community has a huge antipathy to doing because we've got all this idealism about open source. And in the long run, I think that's true, I view comprising with the proprietary codec vendors as a tactical move designed to get us larger end user market shares, so that in the end we can push more things to the open."
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ESR Says Linux Followers Should Compromise

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  • Someone should read up on modern philosophy (I think Kant would be a good start), particularly the bits about the ends justifying the means.
    • Re:Philosophy 101 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 25, 2006 @04:42PM (#15981472)
      I agree, and I'm generally anti-Linux. I don't use it, I don't particularly like it, but I still have a huge amount of respect for what it is and what has been created.

      Linux is based around a manifesto of rights (about which I disagree) created by Richard Stallman. Linux contributors may be pro-GPL, or ambivalent, or in some cases even anti-GPL, but they all agreed to work on a GPL operating system and gave their time towards that.

      ESR is assuming that this is because they all wanted Linux to be successful on the desktop or to some new generation of kids.

      I don't think that's why they worked on Linux at all. I think they worked on Linux to make a GPL operating system and to hell with popularity.

      OTOH ESR's arguments are irrelevant. Any company can pay for licenses for these codecs and put out closed-source Linux binaries and sink or swim in the market. It's not up to Linus, RMS or ESR. It's up to the market.

      None of this affects Linux per se.
    • Re:Philosophy 101 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by eln (21727) * on Friday August 25, 2006 @04:43PM (#15981483) Homepage
      Honestly, why must the goal of Linux be to beat Microsoft? What is the point of getting everyone to run our favorite OS if the only way to do it is to make it into something we find objectionable?

      The OSI is supposed to be about the philosophy of Open Source, not world domination. The correct course of action is to try and convince the proprietary vendors that it's in their best interests to release the source to their drivers, not to abandon our own philosophy just so we can have their software. These vendors need to be convinced that we are a market they should get into, not that we're desperate enough for their crap that we're willing to give up the entire movement for it.

      ESR is irrelevant, and has been for years. If his philosophy that beating Microsoft is more important than anything else reflects the attitude of the OSI as a whole, then the OSI will soon be just as irrelevant as he is.
      • by geekoid (135745)
        If your goal for linux is to provide an open system for everybody, then you must beat all thnother OS's. MS has the largest market share, so they're the prime target.
      • Re:Philosophy 101 (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Rakshasa Taisab (244699) on Friday August 25, 2006 @05:06PM (#15981707) Homepage
        I have no respect for a guy that pollutes the global namespace by defining 'timeout' as 'wtimeout' in a header as commonly use as 'ncurses.h'.
      • Re:Philosophy 101 (Score:5, Insightful)

        by eno2001 (527078) on Friday August 25, 2006 @05:07PM (#15981722) Homepage Journal
        I think it's a point of view problem. The people who are keenly interested in the success of GNU/Linux in general (I would count myself as one of them) feel the passion for the OS that they do because of how many things they can do with it. Those things just can't be accomplished on other OSes with the same level of flexibility, style or possibly even at all. However, to get GNU/Linux to do those things requires more knowledge than the typical "Joe User" will ever have, so they will never experience the true beauty of the OS. Not because there's something wrong with them, or something wrong with the OS, but due to completely different cultures and needs. If you make a "Joe User" friendly version of GNU/Linux it's very likely going to be very uninviting to someone who is "hardcore" either on the technical or the philosphical sides.

        To put it another way, you will never get the catholic church to agree to support a woman's right to choose whether or not she will continue a pregnancy. There is no compromising, and if there was then one side or the other is weakening their position to the point that they don't have a side anymore. If women said, "OK. We agree that abortions shouldn't be legal once a woman has had a total of three terminations" they would pretty much put a hole in any situation where a woman is repeatedly impregnated against her will by her father (fairly common in some cultures). In that particular instance, that woman would have no choice but to carry a child she didn't want unless she wants to break the law. Conversely, if the Catholics believe that God tells them that abortion is a sin but they turn a blind eye to a law that makes it legal, they are acting as hypocrites in the eyes of man. People opposed to Catholicism would be able to point to that issue as a hole in the philosophy of that religion.

        It's quite the same with GNU/Linux and the acceptance of proprietary software just to garner popular support/adoption. You do this, and the notion of Free Software is weakened for a dubious cause. On the other hand, you don't accept the proprietary software and those who don't understand the philosophy behind Free (as in GNU) software say you're being disagreeable and should just accept that your doomed to failure. Really? In who's eyes? I'd say GNU/Linux + FOSS is extremely successful in that it leapfrogs the capabilities of other OSes in nearly every arena whether you're talking OS, Multimedia, Business, etc... With the notable exception of proprietary specialized software and hardware (which is only necessary in certain markets), there is nothing you can't do on a Linux box that you can't do on other platforms. And there is also a lot that you can do on a Linux box that you can't do on other platforms.
      • It's a war (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rsilvergun (571051) on Friday August 25, 2006 @05:17PM (#15981808)
        and Microsoft's winning it. They want to close the currently open PC architecure and elect themselves as gatekeeper to what's left. They've got hardware manufactures adding features that prevent code without digital signatures from running. You'll need and incredibly expensive compiler and certification to get that signature. It'll kill Open Source deader than dead. You'll lose all the hobbyists (who won't be able to afford the software and certification), and with them the OSS community. Before long only a few big projects will survive, and those will only be relevent to large companies (because they won't be able to secure enough funding to do the smaller stuff). OSS software won't be able to offer the features it needs to, people will stop using it, and it'll die out.

        What can stop this is getting a large enough base of OSS and linux users now that hardware manufactures won't abandon us when Microsoft comes calling.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        "Honestly, why must the goal of Linux be to beat Microsoft?"

        To convince the proprietary vendors that it's in their best interests to release the source of their drivers.
        • I agree with the parent: by showing the hardware vendors that the OSS community is a significant portion of their market, we can gain some clout and be able to take advantage of hardware. Who wouldn't love to be able to tinker with ATI or Nvidia drivers to get them to perform even better? And isn't it great that my newly bought Linksys WRT-54GL router has a OSS firmware replacement that has a SSH daemon and can run shell scripts?

          We don't necessarily have to overthrow Microsoft for this, but simply demonst
          • by NineNine (235196) on Friday August 25, 2006 @08:34PM (#15982994)
            Well, you can't really get any support from vendors until a large number of people are using Linux actively. Right now, it's on servers, and virtually nobody uses it as a desktop machine outside of uber-geeks and a few of their family. That's tiiiiny. That number is so small that any hardware CEO that decides to spend any significant amount of money on the Linux market should be fired.

            You're not going to get that kind of market share until it's easy to use (I put a DVD movie in the drive, and it plays).

            Personally, I think that Linux will always be relegated to geeks and hobbysists and geek hobbyists. I don't see it solving any significant problems that Windows has, because Windows is so mature at this point. There's very little reason for the average person to use it, other than saving a hundred bucks. Most sane people aren't going to put themselves through that for $100, and if they do, then they are the kind of people who wouldn't shovel out a few hundred bucks for a new video card, anyway.
      • Re:Philosophy 101 (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Tadrith (557354) on Friday August 25, 2006 @05:23PM (#15981858) Homepage
        I agree...

        What has happened, is that somewhere along the way the philosophy of open source software and truly free software became popular. Unfortunately, much like religion, many of the people who became fans of the philosophy decided that it was not enough to simply live by it, but that everyone else in the world should live by it, too. The media, is always eager to pick up on any sort of rivalry, because it means polarization and ratings, and nothing sells better than playing off the emotions of the public. So now we have people who are willing to evangelize and peddle Linux like a religion, a select few of who would go so far as to shove it down the throat of the people, if they have to.

        Is Linux more stable than Windows? Is free software more secure than proprietary software? When will Linux take over the desktop? In my opinion, these questions are utterly beside the point. Open source doesn't exist in spite of, or because of proprietary software. It exists because someone, somewhere decided to give their hard work to the world, and there is absolutely nothing that can stop or change that.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Alef (605149)

          So now we have people who are willing to evangelize and peddle Linux like a religion, a select few of who would go so far as to shove it down the throat of the people, if they have to.

          1) The idea is not to shove Linux down the throat of people, but to make it attractive to people so that they want to use it.

          2) Currently, Windows is shoved down the throat of all of us. And no, the argument "if you don't like it, don't us it" doesn't work for several reasons: as long as Windows is the de facto standard

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by megaditto (982598)

        These vendors need to be convinced that we are a market they should get into

        Well, how exactly are you a market if you refuse to pay for licensing their product? Isn't the whole idea of being a paying customer is that one... pays for the services?

        Why would Microsoft release MS Office for free under linux, for example? The standard (and lacking) response I hear is that they should released a crippled product, then charge for tech/customer support.

        Pardon my ignorance.

        • Re:Philosophy 101 (Score:4, Insightful)

          by eln (21727) * on Friday August 25, 2006 @05:43PM (#15982006) Homepage
          The discussion was about drivers. In the case of drivers, I'm paying them for the hardware. So, open sourcing their drivers opens them up to new markets.

          As for other non-hardware-related proprietary software, most of that will probably never be open sourced. These software companies have a business model that depends on their product being proprietary, and it's a little much to ask them to change their entire business model without a clear profit motive just because of a philosophy. But that's where this whole debate comes in. I don't need Microsoft to open source all of its code. If they want to, they can do that, but I'm not going to force them to abandon their current philosophy, just as I wouldn't abandon mine just to get their software on my preferred OS.

        • Ice cream koan (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MS-06FZ (832329)

          These vendors need to be convinced that we are a market they should get into

          Well, how exactly are you a market if you refuse to pay for licensing their product? Isn't the whole idea of being a paying customer is that one... pays for the services?

          Why would Microsoft release MS Office for free under linux, for example? The standard (and lacking) response I hear is that they should released a crippled product, then charge for tech/customer support.

          Pardon my ignorance.

          It was never about payment. Getting thing

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Libertarians aren't worried about whether we get screwed over in the process (and seem oblivious to non-market, non-greed forces, even when they're more important), they just want marketshare. Means? Ends? They don't matter; if you're strong (rich) enough, you just screw over anyone you want so long as they're not stronger (richer) than you to take whatever you want.

      Yeah, I'm being glib here, but it doesn't feel like it compared to some of the libs I've talked to. I swear some of them read the Rules of
  • again, he's right (Score:4, Insightful)

    by yagu (721525) * <yayagu.gmail@com> on Friday August 25, 2006 @04:31PM (#15981368) Journal

    Politically, technically, pragmatically, ESR is singing perfect pitch. There are warning signs indicating Linux, and OSS-related efforts could be relegated to backroom geekdom for a long time if some "commercial" hurdles aren't first overcome.

    Five years ago I had reasonable success getting non-Linux users to at least try it for a while, about half stayed and have never looked back. I consider that pretty good marketing and return on marketing.

    Fast forward to today -- first(ly), I'm more reluctant to recommend Linux to non-Linux noobs because I know how many more devices people connect to their computers today, how many people watch DVDs on their computers, how many people are managing pictures and music on their computers. And many if not most are moving to use wireless routers.

    Linux comes up short in all of the above... it can handle some, but not all. I've as much as completely given up on even considering wireless configurations for non-Linux noobs. Part of my "price tag" for getting Linux(s) up and running in a home network includes some kind of wireless bridge.

    As for connectivity for mp3 players, not so much. And people who would consider Linux don't when they find they can't hook up their players and go. "Plays for Maybe" doesn't cut it. Unless their choice for player also connects as a non-driver plug'n'play mass storage device, they're not interested in working through the quirks.

    Managing photos? Another tough sell.

    I love Linux more today than ever, it's matured into a top notch competitor in the server (and desktop in my opinion) world. But if some of the interactions with commercial devices: wireless; cameras; music players; etc., Linux today is a tougher sell than five years ago, and that just ain't the way it was supposed to be. Sigh.

    I suspect I'll get a barrage of replies where readers describe "solutions" to all of the above. That would be great -- especially the wireless conundrum. But, I haven't found the suite spot yet... not where everything is easy to configure, easy to use. If readers have solutions, let's start a list, some repository, some "goto" place where we can all point and say, "There's your Linux desktop solutions."

    I'm willing to pay. Friends and family I've talked with are willing to pay, heck they already pay dearly for Windows XX. If Open Source/Linux doesn't make some compromise to come more mainstream, what looked like a viable and potential option may be forced into niche-dom... and everyone will pay. Yeah, slashdotters can continue to get great use out of their Linux, but Linux is good enough -- it deserves better than just the cloistered existence among the technical elite.

    I think more than finding some profitable additional customer base, vendors need other enticement.... How about getting out from under the behemoth that is Microsoft? If the Linux and Open Source community could hold out that carrot, not only would vendors open potential revenue, they could cut better leveraged business deals with Microsoft -- a benefit for all of us.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Part of my "price tag" for getting Linux(s) up and running in a home network includes some kind of wireless bridge.

      Maybe I hallucinated this, but there ARE cards that work properly under Linux, right? I'm thinking that they're probably cheaper than a bridge.

      I'm willing to pay. Friends and family I've talked with are willing to pay, heck they already pay dearly for Windows XX.

      I'm not willing to pay for Linux. I am willing to pay for software that solves my needs as I run into them, but let's face i

    • by eln (21727) * on Friday August 25, 2006 @04:46PM (#15981518) Homepage
      Linux is pretty much THE dominant OS in the server space these days, and is continuing to grow in that arena. Linux will not be irrelevant any time soon. Sure, it might be irrelevant to Joe Blow down the street who only uses his computer to check email and surf porn and doesn't give a damn what his OS is, but why should I care about him anyway?

      Linux is a great philosophy wrapped around some great code. It's absurd to fundamentally change the philosophy behind the software just so people that don't care that much anyway will use it.
    • Re:again, he's right (Score:5, Informative)

      by ElleyKitten (715519) <kittensunrise@ME ... com minus author> on Friday August 25, 2006 @04:48PM (#15981529) Journal
      Wireless is all about having the right card. I used to have this cheap-ass unsupported Belkin crap and trying to get it to work under linux was a nightmare. NDISwrapper, install this tool, that tool, blah. So I went to the wiki for my distro (Ubuntu) found the list of supported cards, bought one, and yay autodetection. No more wires under the door for me! :)

      Every camera and music player I've ever used has automatically mounted as an external drive. Have I been abnormally lucky?

      Picasa (Google's photo manager) is available on Linux, along with a number of open source photo managers. I think we're doing pretty good on the photo managing front.
      • "Every camera and music player I've ever used has automatically mounted as an external drive. Have I been abnormally lucky?"

        Yes, you have been abnormally lucky. Most do, but there are a few that don't. I have a friend who had to toss a Canon digital camera because drivers were only available for Windows 9x. No 2k or XP support even. There are a lot of manufacturers that do stupid things.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Em Adespoton (792954)
          A lot of people come to me for peripheral purchasing advice. In cameras, off the bat I generally tell them to avoid these brands:
          Canon (proprietary drivers)
          Fuji and Olympus (proprietary/expensive memory)

          I also sometimes recommend against Sony (proprietary issues again). However, if you're willing to have memory that doesn't work in non-Sony devices, their products still play fair as peripherals.

          Right now, the best brand going IMO is Panasonic. Both their cameras and camcorders are great (as long as

    • by l3v1 (787564)
      matured into a top notch competitor in the server (and desktop in my opinion)

      I suspect I'll get a barrage of replies where readers describe "solutions" to all of the above. That would be great

      You'd better decide, you bash it, or you like it. Well, you can do both, but that ain't always going to lead to a pleasant ending :)

      Anyway, you list problems, all of which have very nice solutions, and you say you like it, you still don't know about them. And the best thing always is when a guy comes around, telling
    • by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenis@gm a i l .com> on Friday August 25, 2006 @04:50PM (#15981546) Homepage
      None of your comments have anything to do with GNU/Linux [I say GNU because many things like cameras are dealt with in the userspace].

      Linux can handle playing your DVD. The MPAA just doesn't want you to.

      Linux can handle your USB camera. The manufacturer just doesn't want you to.

      Linux can handle that MP3 player. ... etc.

      Linux can even handle that wireless connection. Just the manufacturers don't care to let you.

      so on so forth.

      In Gentoo [of all OSes] it can consistently detect and setup my Intel Wireless device upon bootup [part of udev/coldplug]. If I program an AP in it [in the config] it will associate and setup the IP stack. If not it will try the strongest one and DHCP.

      Too fucking bad that your Broadcom device doesn't have drivers. Intel funded their drivers, where the hell is Broadcom with theirs? Enough people use Linux to warrant making them.

      Truth be told, the thing that is holding you back from using GNU/Linux is all those devices you take for granted. If the manufacturers gave two shits about your rights to use the device as YOU see fit they'd address the fact that there is a sizable Linux/BSD community and open up some drivers.

      Tom
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mattgreen (701203)
        This example of blame shifting only further solidifies ESR's argument. People want things that work. They don't want to be told they chose the wrong wireless card or the MPAA doesn't want them to watch DVDs. If Windows is capable of doing these things, and Linux isn't, then the average user is going to assume that Linux is crippled in that regard.

        I feel like I'm stating the obvious here, but it doesn't appear to be the obvious at this site.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by twistedcubic (577194)
          This does not solidify ESR's claim, unless his claim is for everyone to buy a Mac. And even then, you don't get to play Windows Media clips, without effort, which is what you're against. Indeed, as I change the context of your quote: "If Windows is capable of doing these things, and Mac OS X isn't, then the average user is going to assume that Mac OS X is crippled in that regard." Indeed.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by garcia (6573)
        None of your comments have anything to do with GNU/Linux [I say GNU because many things like cameras are dealt with in the userspace].

        Thanks for proving why *I* don't recommend Linux to regular old computer users. Without the software base out there, shit just doesn't magically work and that's what people expect.

        Even after 10 years running Linux, I had to fuck around for three days reading up on stuff to figure out what the hell was broken. I have a feeling that 99% of people out there don't give a enough
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by tomstdenis (446163)
          Hint: Stop buying monopolyware.

          My GFX, TV, Sound and Network cards all work in Linux. I educated myself and bought specific stuff [that you can order from any wholesaler] and have been smooth sailing for years.

          Oh right, you have to know two things about computers. Shit sorry. I forgot it's hip to be a techno-ignorant-opiniated bastard. if you're going to embrace technology it may pay off to know a thing or two about it. Otherwise, you're at the whim of whatever your corporate masters decide.

          No HD in V
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Tim C (15259)
            Oh right, you have to know two things about computers. Shit sorry. I forgot it's hip to be a techno-ignorant-opiniated bastard.

            Well, he claims to have been using Linux for 10 years, so I guess he knows a thing or two about computers. I gave up on Linux after about 6 years, and like to think I know a thing or two about computers too. I've upgraded my kernel, gcc, I manually upgraded from libc5 to glibc2, I've hand-hacked modeline entries in XF86Config when an installer didn't recognise my monitor, etc - and
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by shadowbearer (554144)
          While I understand and respect your point, I've had similar experiences with windows - ie, having to beat my head repeatedly against the wall for days trying to figure out why something isn't working right. Granted fewer problems with XP, but there are still some that took some time. Like the printer driver for my HP Business Inkjet 2200 that installed fine on the last XP install I did a few years back, but after a hard drive crash and a reinstall of XP the driver simply would not install correctly (same d
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by slide-rule (153968)

      I gotta say I generally agree... I'm on a Mac now and couldn't be happier -- got UNIX and an interface that both work rather well. This after years (nearly a decade) of going through various learning curves and "not quite ready yet" system bits. Don't get me wrong guys -- I can see progress has been generally made in lots of places, but here's my experiences...

      First it was the nightmare of getting a printer and print subsystem configured to work. Oh, and share to a windows box. How many printer subsystems

    • I have repeatedly come to the conclusion that all of the software, all of the tools, all of the drivers, all of the everything needed for a quality user experience exists under Linux, but are NOT included in Linux distributions in a way that is trivial.

      However, it should not be hard to roll a distribution that supports the devices out there. This might include commercial add-ons for Linux (the commercial version of CUPS adds a LOT of printers to the database, for example), but a hardened, newbie-tolerent, d

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by xenocide2 (231786)
      I really don't get what all this bitching about wireless is. "It should be as easy as Windows," people say. Fuck that. It needs to be easier than Windows. I don't want to dig around for an hour to find out that somehow the Windows Wireless Zero Configuration service was disabled, or find out that ZeroConf doesn't support my card at all.

      I put in an Ubuntu Live CD the other day, and without a single question I had wireless set up and working. This might even be too easy, because I was connected to someone els
    • Smarmy reply (Score:5, Insightful)

      by amightywind (691887) on Friday August 25, 2006 @05:59PM (#15982128) Journal
      Politically, technically, pragmatically, ESR is singing perfect pitch. There are warning signs indicating Linux, and OSS-related efforts could be relegated to backroom geekdom for a long time if some "commercial" hurdles aren't first overcome.

      This is the smarmiest post I have ever read. GNU/Linux users on this forum have been forcefed this ZDNet-style pablum for over 10 years. "Beware everybody, Linux could [insert some dreadful consequence here] unless you learn to compromise." Nothing bad has happened yet. Quite the opposite. ESR has proven himself to be a pretty unstable figure over the years. It takes some significant hyperbole for him to even get in the news anymore. Why does his latest 180 degree utterance even merit notice?

  • why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by qqtortqq (521284) <tort@kconline.ELIOTcom minus poet> on Friday August 25, 2006 @04:33PM (#15981382)
    Why change? I love Linux, and if it changed to suit "the ipod generation," I would probably like it less. Why compromise beliefs so we can have a 8% market share instead of 6%? Who benefits?
    • Indeed, dont the ipod generation have Mac OS? I'll stick to Amarok. I'd rather not be dumbed down to that level of usage and advocacy. Amarok and mythtv please :)
    • I've heard it said [google.com] that Linux is for those who hate Windows, while BSD is for those that love Unix. It would seem that ESR falls into this stereotype.
       
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Abcd1234 (188840)
      ESR said it himself: "I view comprising (sic) with the proprietary codec vendors as a tactical move designed to get us larger end user market shares, so that in the end we can push more things to the open." (emphasis mine) In the end, this is about stopping the software vendors and media conglomerates from tying up the PC with DRM, patents, and so forth.

      Or, at least, that's the theory. :)
  • by dgatwood (11270)

    First, they'll have to learn subject-verb agreement.

    Seriously, "...beyond geeks who learns..." is just sad. I'm normally not a grammar troll, but a sentence that badly written just goes above and beyond....

    No end user is going to use a product if the documentation isn't comprehensible.

    • by dotpavan (829804)
      I always set an all-time low standard for Zonk's editorial skills, and he beats himself at it. :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by nacturation (646836)
      For all intensive purposes, your right. Its sad that their too stupid to improve their English and loose the bad grammar. It bug's me to no end!
       
  • ESR is telling the Linux community what it should do to stay relevant.
  • by Tracer_Bullet82 (766262) on Friday August 25, 2006 @04:35PM (#15981411)
    While I totally agree that sometimes the (some of the) OS community is up to zealot like level on everthing oS..

    and actually hindering the development of OS from development view and practical social view.

    And we need to tame that sometimes.

    However the answer to zealotry is not total "pragmatism".
  • Duh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dedazo (737510) on Friday August 25, 2006 @04:37PM (#15981432) Journal
    TFA:

    Another at the 16 to 32 bit transition, which was masked a little bit, because in that transition Microsoft succeeded in maintaining its incumbency, but they did it with a different software suite. And then there is a 32-bit to 64-bit transition going on now, which I think is going to be our best window for a long time to achieve majority market share, but the hardware trend curves indicate that the 64-bit transition will probably be over sometime in 2008, and that means that the market's going to be making its collective decision about the dominant 64-bit operating system probably before that.

    The "collective decision" about the dominant operating system is going to be the decision about which OS supports existing applications. People switch OSes only if they'll run their applications. And that's going to be Windows Vista. The ace up the sleeve here is that, as with the 16-32bit transition, Microsoft will continue to support 32-bit in the back. The "different software suite" bit makes no sense to me - Microsoft had at that time a "pure" 32-bit OS (NT3.x) as well as the 9x line that balanced the 32/16 mix well. I don't understand why ESR is making this argument at all, because it makes no sense.

  • That's ridiculous (Score:3, Interesting)

    by maynard (3337) <j.maynard.gelinas@gmail. c o m> on Friday August 25, 2006 @04:39PM (#15981445) Journal
    There's absolutely no need to 'compromise' on including proprietary binary kernel modules to perform DRM. If the media companies want Linux users to be able to read their chosen formats, they can release the source GPL'd and Linus will include it in the tree, or not, based on his own quirky ideas of code cleanliness. Linus has made it clear he'll accept DRM support code. So, there is no issue here as far as "compromising" with the media companies.

    Before anyone bitches about refusing to release the code for security reasons, I'll simply state: "security through obscurity is neither" blah blah blah.

    On my bullshit soapbox, here's what I say: open source DRM is fine by me as long as it's limited to restricting specific media filetypes. In the end, \*I\* must control \*my\* computer. Which means that I still get to boot Linux, remove or never install the DRM module at will, and continue using and running free software and media without content restrictions.

    IOW: My computer Sony! How about I not download and buy your music/films and you keep your filthy hands off my computer? Deal?

       
  • by dido (9125) <dido@imperi[ ]ph ['um.' in gap]> on Friday August 25, 2006 @04:40PM (#15981455)

    I don't see how playing to twentysomethings who have no power, influence, or deep pockets as being an effective strategy. Rather, I would advise pushing to the corporate desktop. Where business goes, the home will follow. If we can push GNU/Linux to the corporate desktop, conquering the home desktop will be easy. How do you think the IBM PC became the standard? It was at first a boring machine, with no color, no sound, and no appeal to anyone, save the suits who make the corporate purchasing decisions. And now, nearly thirty years later, it's evolved now everyone has it on their desktop. GNU/Linux must be positioned as a viable alternative to Windows in the corporate space first. The iPod generation is a useless distraction that can be dispensed with for the time being. If more businesses started using GNU/Linux for office workstations it would drive people to start using it at home as well. At least the media conglomerates have no influence (and in fact negative influence!) when it comes to the corporate desktop.

    • by manno (848709)
      mod parent up
    • How do you think the IBM PC became the standard?

      Let's see... Microsoft/IBM/Dell/etc. fund college computer labs. Provide equipment, training, software, etc. to college professors. Get said professors to teach how to use Windows and Microsoft apps (Excel, Word, etc.) and so on...

      New college grads enter workforce and use the tools they used in college. Need a home PC? Do you buy something you'll have to learn or go with what you know? That's a pretty compelling reason to pay attention to the

  • with what money (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jeeperscats (882744)
    What money are we supposed to use to pay these people for a license to use their codecs? How is a distro like debian supposed to raise money to buy a license without charging money for the distro? Free as in speech is great but many of us also like the free beer part. If we want to keep linux free in every way it will be very hard to start licensing software for inclusion in distros.
    • With the exemption of DVD support (which is pretty darn easy to get in Linux nowadays... I prefer linux as my DVD player due to the ability to play many regions without hassle), what CODECs would the average user need that require payment? There are tons of free windows apps out there that use these codecs, and I daresay most people use the free ones, so I don't see why it would cost anything for the free 'nix apps.
  • Since when (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenis@gm a i l .com> on Friday August 25, 2006 @04:43PM (#15981485) Homepage
    was OSS about marketshare?

    If you build it, they will come.

    Tom
    • Re:Since when (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Aardpig (622459) on Friday August 25, 2006 @04:51PM (#15981563)
      Since ESR decided that OSS exists only to be leveraged to amass as much wealth, for ESR, as possible.
    • by geekoid (135745)
      not when the path to get there is cluttered with proprietary junk and compatibility needs.
      • Imagine this, people like GNU/Linux for what it is, stop buying crap hardware that works only in WinTel and the hardware folk either adjust or die.

        That is of course, if people have the courage of their convictions.

        Tom

        N.B. I game on a PS2/Xbox. My PC is for work/media and runs Gentoo Linux. I don't compromise with a Win32 boot. I have integrity.
    • by B11 (894359)
      was OSS about marketshare? If you build it, they will come.
      In my heart I've convinced myself this is true. And when I show non-nerdy friends Ubuntu running on my computer, they are impressed. Perhaps Some distros (like ubuntu) will have enough good things going for it to increase adoption (even dual boot, toe-in-the-water users), that it will compel support. Oh well, one can dream and fight the good fight regardless.
  • by Beuno (740018) <argentina.gmail@com> on Friday August 25, 2006 @04:46PM (#15981509) Homepage
    I don't normally agree with Linus Torvalds, but quoting him on a recent interview: [redherring.com]
    I don't think five-year planned economies work, and I don't think it works when you do software design, either. Linux development has always been a kind of open market, where the development direction gets set by customer demand, together with obviously a lot of what I simply call good taste--the avoidance of things that are obviously going to be problematic in the long run.

    If you do things right, and hear out the users, eventually you will have a much more solid product. Focusing on marketing that much usually tends to drive tech-related stuff into the ground.
  • by adolfojp (730818) on Friday August 25, 2006 @04:46PM (#15981510)
    I believe that his views are quite insightful and maybe even correct. OSS zealotry might work for you and me, however, most people see their computer as a tool, not as a statement of ideology. Hardware and software vendors make their products to carter to most people. If OSS doesn't become a little more flexible to appeal to the masses it will never outgrow its niche market.
  • Lighten up Eric (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Linker3000 (626634) on Friday August 25, 2006 @04:46PM (#15981520) Journal
    Eric's argument presumes there is a *need* to 'Win over' the iPod generation.

    Is the clock ticking? If we don't get them on board, will Linux implode by 1st January 200x? Must we hunt down, corner and 'convert' that last Windows user?

    Hey, here's a thing, Eric: What if we work on the basis that those who need or want Linux will continue to do so, those who develop and support the product for love or money will also do so and those that want to have a looksee will do so and and may or may not choose to use it? Simple!

    Chill out - there's more important things to worry about.
    • by geekoid (135745)
      considering how codecs are getting locked out via DRM, and that to get past a tipping point of marketing means you have to have what the consumer expects from their computer, we may well be against a timeline.

      iPod generation means applience like computers.
  • Linux believers will have to reach out beyond self-absorbed geek who learns Klingon and attends science fiction conventions in his spare time.'

    You mean into the realm of geeks who learn elvish and attend Cosplay conventions in their spare time?
    • by iggymanz (596061)
      for a sec there I thought you meant JAV cosplay conventions, and was going to beg for a link to schedules and registration, but then realizing you probably mean congregations of nerds as smelly, potbellied, bearded caricatures of fantasy and sci/fi novel, just forget it.
  • by njdj (458173) on Friday August 25, 2006 @04:48PM (#15981535)

    I'm a developer. I develop for Linux (actually for the GNU/Linux environment; I'm not a kernel developer) because I value programming freedom. I don't care a rat's ass for "market share". Why would I? I get the same amount of money, $0.00, for my apps whether they're used by one person or 10 million people.

    The phrase "the iPod generation" means to me a bunch of kids who are pure consumers. They produce nothing I want. I despise their sheep-like following of fashion, I despise their inability to think for themselves, and I despise their taste in music. To consider giving up any part of my programming freedom to please these people is absurd.

  • ...and he doesn't speak for much of the FOSS community. Claims to be a kernel developer, when he's done bugger all. Claims many other things, that on closer inspection turn out to be hot air blown out of both arseholes.

    The fat fuck should stick to playing with his big, compensatory guns.

  • by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Friday August 25, 2006 @04:49PM (#15981541)
    Linux believers will have to reach out beyond self-absorbed geeks who learns Klingon and attends science fiction conventions in his spare time."

    Let me get this straight... I am fluent in Klingon and go to sci-fi conventions?!? I didn't know that... time to visit a hypnotic therapist and dig up some suppressed memories.

    Perhaps I was Elvis in my last incarnat... no wait... that can't be he's still alive.

    On second thought, I think I'll just settle for guzzling down some beer and read "Advanced Programming in the UNIX(R) Environment (2nd Edition)" for the 19th time ...
  • First, many Linux distros already support most common audio formats, either through reverse engineered codecs (developed outside of the Land of the Free[tm], natch) or binary wrappers around Windows codecs. While they may not be easy for a distro vendor to legally distribute, it is certainly not difficult for users to obtain them. It's unclear if ESR really understands what he is talking about here, or the state of Linux media support, which is really quite good. But he likes making up buzzwords [catb.org] for concept
    • Correctly formatted this time (!@#$ slashdot)...

      First, many Linux distros already support most common audio formats, either through reverse engineered codecs (developed outside of the Land of the Free[tm], natch) or binary wrappers around Windows codecs. While they may not be easy for a distro vendor to legally distribute, it is certainly not difficult for users to obtain them. It's unclear if ESR really understands what he is talking about here, or the state of Linux media support, which is really quite

  • It's my understanding that many of the people who use Linux don't have an agenda to convert the masses to using Linux.

    They use it because they like it. And they add to it if they can (either through applications or through the kernel itself) because they have an itch to scratch. And they support other applications because those applications scratch their itches.

    I guess it comes down to some people saying, "Linux isn't becoming mainstream and simple enough for everyone to use!" And the reply from many will b
  • It's expedient - if it works, but how often does it work? Companies were trying to produce "legal" DVD players for Linux for a long time, but it was DeCSS that cracked the market. Cryptography was the Royal Preserve of RSA for a long time, and it was only with the re-implementing of RC4 and (especially) RSA's piblic key encryption algorithm that we started seeing crypto products in mainstream use - the European PGP implementation, for example.

    I'm not advocating a gigantic crime ring to bust everyone's IP in

  • Seriously there's one reason that linux is constantly getting the shaft all the time... it's because the users will fight with each others and then fight with windows users all the time. No one has said "let's get together and present a unified front" instead I often see which linux brand is better.

    Why does Firefox do so well when Linux is stagnating at best? Because Firefox bends to the will of people "oh we need IE" IE tabs is created. Oh we need access here... access granted. I want to be able to bro
  • Rather than pay codec "owners" to let us use their crummy codecs, why not pay the device makers to support the existing open codecs? Wouldn't that be a better use of money - assuming one doesn't think paying either way is stupid.

  • His suggestion that the community sell their souls for a higher user base comes with drawbacks. Higher base = more exploits, more support demands, pandering to a different crowd and taking energy away from the current one.

    It won't be but a few more generations before the bridge between the technically savvy and the hip is finished. For crying out loud, the popularity of the personal computer is barely 20 years old. There is no need for it's fans to have to go on a crusade to expand its base. It will happen
  • ESR-- (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday August 25, 2006 @05:01PM (#15981664) Homepage Journal
    ESR is starting to lose his grip entirely. Linux doesn't need its core geek constituency (including ESR) to change. It needs to attract new geeks who aren't quite as exclusively geeky. Whose hobby is hooking Linux to the rest of the world, including iPods. Who want to exploit the work of the geekiest to bring Linux's builtin power to the even less geeky.

    This has always been true of Linux, even for the benefit of true geeks. We need people who will at least write documentation, or even just edit documentation to be read by mere mortals. We need capitalists who will produce interfaces, apps and packages for the lure of money. We need people who will make "developers' kits" bridging the raw power and flexibility of the open OS to the more limited imaginations and attention spans of the masses.

    ESR would spend his time more productively by writing some documentation or some example code than by loudly eating crow in public.
  • Basically, the only real things I can see the Free Software Movement compromising on are things such as patents and Trusted Computing. The people/companies who are pushing for software patents are doing so for the sake of establishing or maintaining dominance in the software feild, and the rise of Trusted Computing will eventually lead to a TIVO-like situation where your PC will be unable to run any self-made operating systems (or, possibly, they may be cut off from accessing the internet at the router leve
  • Unfortunately, i think that ESR is going about this all wrong. I strongly disagree with 'comprimising and changing' in order to appeal to anyone. The geeks that learn Klingon or build tesla coils out of scrap monitors need to just be themselves, and to hell with anyone else.

    It doesn't matter if you're popular to the masses, only if you're popular to the people that matter- namely people like yourself.

    What's interesting, is that even after you peel the thinkgeek/slashdot manufactured fandom/leetness off of
  • Killer Apps (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Peter Trepan (572016) on Friday August 25, 2006 @05:04PM (#15981693)
    Obviously, the iPod generation doesn't mind laying down a few hundred dollars for the latest and greatest technology. The way to win them over to Linux is not to play catch-up, or even to offer a free alternative to something that already exists. Linux will have to offer some killer app that can't be had on Windows or OS X.

    I'm not sure what that would be, but there's an angle: FOSS developers are free to develop applications that don't have a business model, and paid developers are not.
  • W T F (Score:5, Funny)

    by b-l4ke (997876) on Friday August 25, 2006 @05:06PM (#15981712) Homepage
    I have read slashdot for about 6 years.. never bothered to make a login never posted until now ESR is a traitor and should be excommunicated for this. By 'compromises', he means sell out and give up. Not to mention his insulting view of Linux users - I am physically fit, have diverse interests, am attractive, able to pick up attractive women and achieve full intercourse with little effort. But I will not give up or sell out as ESR urges us to.
  • nuch! [klingonreference.com]
  • Why Bother? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by _aa_ (63092) <j@@@uaau...ws> on Friday August 25, 2006 @05:51PM (#15982066) Homepage Journal
    What is this obsession people have with linux being accepted mainstream? What Raymond claims is true, if linux (and FOSS in general) wants to be adopted mainstream it's needs to compromise it's ideals.

    But maybe linux doesn't need to be mainstream. Operating systems tend to be developed to accomodate the lowest commond denominator. Microsoft has a lot of grandmas and grandpas with eMachines to satisfy. Apple has a lot of clueless art students to "empower". If linux's lowest common denominator is a bunch of Klingons, that's a good thing.

    If linux's demographic was magically expanded to include grandma, grandpa and emo art students that aren't willing to learn how to compile a kernel, it would have to contend with the point-and-click, plug-and-play mentality of it's clueless user base, meaning that developers would be forced to spend time making linux idiot proof instead of optimizing, debugging, enhancing and advancing.

    I, on the other hand, would encourage linux, and all open source projects to minimize their user bases. I'm not suggesting that FOSS should be kept a secret, but you certainly don't have to waste resources buying an idiotic full page ad in the New York Times. A good open source project (like a good democracy) demands an educated user base, not a herd of people who do things because advertisments tell them to.

    That being said, there's no reason you can't have linux for stupid people (ubuntu (no offense, I use ubuntu)) and linux for smart people (freebsd, ha). That's the beauty of open source software.

    In summary, if you already use linux and you still bought an ipod instead of the countless non-DRM, usbstorage friendly media players that are better and cheaper, then you are stupid and you should probably buy a mac. If you already own an ipod and you want to get into linux, life sucks, get started reverse engineering iTunes.
  • by PhilTR (190678) on Friday August 25, 2006 @06:08PM (#15982196)
    It seems like Eric has lost his religion and is caving into the closed source community. Perhaps he has forgotten that OpenSource is a wonderful "alternative" to closed source. Perhaps the fire has gone out.

    OpenSource users provide a large and rapidly growing market that desperatly needs to be attended to by hardware manufactures and by software developers, both OpenSource and closed source. This market *will not* shrink in the future. OS software developers should act like it. Plan for it. Act like they understand what's going on. There is profit to be made with OpenSource. A lot of it as RedHat and others are demonstrating.

    Rather than whinning about being left behind, OpenSouce advocates should stand up and become leaders, organize and be developing marketing strategies, agressively marketing OpenSouce alternatives and showing hte for-profit community how they can profit from continuing to develope OpenSource approachs to their businesses. Show them in plain dollars and cents language how it is in their best interests to adopt OpenSource methods and use OpenSource software.

    Lets face it when it comes to marketing the benefits of using OpenSouce, these folks who claim to be "OpenSouce advocates" have been d*cks, small and downy soft ones at that.

    Just how much does OSDL spend on medium advertising whether it be TV, radio or otherwise to extoll the value of using OpenSource? Why don't they?

    When was the last time RedHat advertized nationally? Why not?

    For that matter, have any of the others who make good quarterly profits marketing OpenSource software spent any significant amounts of national advertizing? No, they haven't.

    This, plain and simply, is stupid and ignorant on their parts. Is it greed or lack of insight or both that prevents them from setting adequate funds aside for marketing budgets?

    Why do we as users put up with such banality? Shouldn't we as users and even developers expect more and better from those who claim to be advocating for OpenSource and/or profiting because we produce and even use their/our products? What's it going to take to motivate us to jump in their sh*t?
  • by idlake (850372) on Friday August 25, 2006 @07:12PM (#15982574)
    It will take somebody who's prepared to buy the rights for those technologies on behalf of the Linux community and then distribute them as a product.

    Apple isn't selling the rights for those technologies to anybody. If anything, Linux actually has better third party support for iPod and relatd products than Windows at this point.

    To get there, he says the Linux community will need to make "compromises." For starters: Linux believers will have to reach out beyond "self-absorbed" geeks who learn Klingon and attend science fiction conventions in their spare time.

    All major Linux distributions permit, and even support, the use of proprietary drivers (e.g., for NVidia), proprietary CODECs (e.g., MPEG, RealNetworks), and proprietary programming platforms (e.g., Sun Java), under proprietary licenses. Vendors like RedHat and SuSE are even bundling for-pay applications with some of their distributions. And users are paying for those Linux distributions.

    The fact that there aren't more proprietary codecs and drivers on Linux isn't the fault of "Linux believers". Linux believers are constantly "reaching out" to commercial companies, begging and pleading for drivers and applications to be ported to Linux, even closed source. I myself have been doing that for as long as Linux has been around. It's the lack of response from many vendors that has forced geeks to reverse engineer things and come up with their own solutions.

    And it's the lack of response from commercial vendors, as well as their haphazard product lifecycles and support even on so-called "supported" platforms, that has caused people like me to increasingly prefer all-open-source solutions whenever we can get them. In the end, not having iPod support is less important than having to put up with yet another poorly supported driver or having to wait for months until a vendor gets around to updating a closed source library to work with the latest version of the OS.

    In any case, if ESR's vision of the future is a sort of mix of commercial and open source software, with some commercial entity paying for licenses for proprietary functionality, that already exists: it's called an Apple Macintosh. And for what it is, it's not a bad compromise. But Linux users haven't moved en-masse to Macintosh because, to many people in the real world, iPod support is ultimately less important than reducing the various business risks associated with depending on vendors of proprietary software components.

    my friend Rob Landley and I have done an analysis which we're going to publish very shortly suggesting that there is a critical window of vulnerability for changing the dominant operating system. And that is probably going to close in 2008.

    I don't want to "change the dominant operating system", I want to see operating system dominance disappear completely. A world in which 90% of the machines run Linux is almost as bad as a world in which 90% of the machines run Windows or MacOS. The software industry should be built on a diversity of systems, unified through open standards, not a sequence of OS monocultures.
  • by kahrytan (913147) on Friday August 25, 2006 @10:32PM (#15983388)

      The guy does have some interesting points. And I know that the Linux desktop community does need to change and adapt. I'm not saying we have to pay for Linux. I am saying there is a change needed.

    Linux should be under it's own License and not GPL.

    Linux needs a Foundation whose sole purpose is to acquire the licenses needed to propel it onto the desktop more rapidly. It will be supported by corporate grants, linux community, and finally donations from the companies profiting off the Linux kernel.
  • by Mistshadow2k4 (748958) on Saturday August 26, 2006 @01:04AM (#15983878) Journal

    I don't speak Klingon and I don't attend science fiction conventions at all. Nor have I ever done so. I'm not a programmer, I'm just an advanced user. I'm a surprisingly normal, well-adjusted 35-year-old female. I use Linux because I happen to like it. Hence, I find the attitude in this article highly offensive. It's like saying all black people love fried chicken and watermelon.

    Mr. Raymond is trying to tell us what's so wrong with Linux and the Linux community, but he just proved he was both ignorant and bigoted on both subjects. Bigotry is for fools and I don't suffer fools gladly. Nor do I find ignorance pleasant.

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