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Comment David Edmundson answers your questions (Score 4, Informative) 325

All of your questions are easily answered by reading the link provided at the top of the article:


Why does the desktop care who's booted it up?

The Init System "We don't care. It doesn't affect us."

logind Allows KDE to provide user-switching features.

Device Management Allows KDE to have access to your mouse and keyboard without root access and without random applications being able to sniff your keystrokes.

Inhibitor Locks Allows KDE to react to notifications like "the system is about to go down" and delay until a condition is met (example: delay a suspend until the lock screen is displayed and all your desktop windows are hidden behind the lock screen).

timedated and Friends Allows KDE to set time and date without root; allows KDE apps to be notified if time and date gets changed. (KDE currently runs a daemon just to watch for time and date changes, and they would like to get rid of this daemon and simplify their code.)

User Units If KDE takes advantage of the "units" in systemd, then when any part of KDE crashes or hangs, systemd will restart the misbehaving part.

that implies they won't work on *BSD at all. Right?

"Projects like [SystemBSD] bring the interfaces we need to BSD and as it gets more stable we should be able to start distributing features."

So really, choice is being taken away clear across the board. Either that or I'm missing something really big which implies systemd is not a strict dependency.

I encourage you to read the whole article and see what big things you are missing.

I don't know about you, but when I read that article I didn't think "Man those KDE guys are idiots, why would they want any of that." It all makes sense to me.

It's easier for me to believe that SystemD has some merit than to believe that all the Debian core developers are idiots, plus all the Ubuntu developers, and now all the KDE developers and for that matter the Gnome developers.

My biggest concerns with systemd are the monoculture of it all, so projects like UselessD and SystemBSD sound great to me. Force the SystemD guys to document and justify everything, and provide alternatives.

Comment Much todo about zip--ConsoleKit2 is also supported (Score 3, Interesting) 325


First, only an idiot would want a monoculture, particularly in the Linux world, so to those saying "just to systemd full bore or go to (someplace else)" the rest of us need to respond with a very loud and resounding: Fuck You.

That said, things aren't nearly as dire as this post implies. Reading from the responses to the bug he himself linked to, I find the following:

> Unless KDE is prepared to make a statement that it depends on systemd

of course not. Powerdevil recently also gained support for ConsoleKit2, see: http://commits.kde.org/powerde...

Which turns it into a distro problem. Your distribution configured the system in a way that suspend/hibernate is broken. It doesn't come with any of the supported solutions Plasma provides. Which makes it a distro problem. The distro integrates various parts of the software stack. This includes it's the distro's task to ensure that components work together. It failed here by ripping out systemd and replace it with well nothing.

So while I'm sure the systemd zealots would love to see KDE, Gnome3, etc. only work with systemd and drop support for all other distros, this doesn't appear to be happening. In the case of KDE, ConsoleKit2 is supported (and therefor Funtoo, Gentoo, Arch with OpenRC, etc. will continue to work just fine).

Comment "Doc" Smith's utlimate vacuum tube (Score 2) 71

About 70 years ago, E. E. "Doc" Smith wrote a series of books that are wonderful space opera: the "Lensman" series. The space battles just keep escalating throughout the series, getting more over-the-top.

My favorite plot point: they used the principles of a vacuum tube to make a device whose pieces included grids mounted in the asteroid belt, with more in other orbits closer in to the sun. In effect they turned the inner Solar System into one honking big vacuum tube, and created a weapon that could concentrate a significant fraction of the sun's output onto attacking enemy fleets. This was called the "Sunbeam". (Believe it or not, this wasn't the end of the escalation. The battles got even bigger after that.)

When you say "ultimate" vacuum tube, I think that one is pretty hard to top.

P.S. 200-word crossover fan fiction: what would have happened if the Battlestar Galactica reboot show had found Earth, and it was the Earth of the Lensman series?


When I was a teen and read those books, I just enjoyed them, but now I'm thinking that it would take a lot of trust to allow Kimball Kinnison to run around acting as judge, jury, and executioner. As readers of the books, we know that he was vetted as deeply as anyone could be by the Arisians, so he can be trusted with that kind of power; but it would be hard for the ordinary people in the world of the books to trust him that much.

Comment Re: Windows 7 (Score 1) 303

It is much more than Windows 7 which reached 100 mill after 6 months.

But early adoption is front-loaded so not as big a difference as that makes it seem, and this time they are literally giving Win10 away (and actively trying to push users into installing it, something they've been working on since well before it actually launched). So at this stage 100M might be satisfactory, but it doesn't seem to be anything special.

This is last month from one of them, where they are tied, you need subscription to see the latest where they have passed.

Safari is lost in the noise, Chrome barely over 20%, and IE8 at well over 10%? Those figures are laughable, presumably because whatever data sets they use are heavily biased. And they still don't think Edge has a significant share of the market.

Comment Re: Windows 7 (Score 1) 303

I'm not sure what you're trying to say with the share price. MSFT was trading in the high 40s for most of the middle of the year, tanked badly around the time Win10 actually launched, and has since recovered and pushed up to mid-50s. That's not particularly impressive given the scale of the launch, and certainly no ringing endorsement of the Win10 strategy from investors.

An interesting comparison is Adobe's share price, which has risen strongly over the past couple of years since the move to their subscription-based Creative Cloud offering. Notably, that share price doesn't seem to reflect actual company performance: they've traditionally been conservative in their market guidance and have still missed targets on several quarters. Two years after launching, CC was still at around half the old user base of CS (ignoring individual product sales, so this comparison actually makes CC performance look better than it is) so adoption has been far from universal. Despite all this evidence to the contrary, investors still appear to believe that the SaaS model will be dramatically more profitable in the long term. Microsoft aren't seeing the same kind of growth so far.

So, it is Slashdot anecdotal "I don't know anybody using this", against independent reports about well over 100 million users (!) already several months ago.

Is that 100 million supposed to be impressive? Because at Microsoft's scale, it doesn't seem particularly impressive to me. Win10 is somewhere around the same level as WinXP according to various stats sites I just checked. That leaves Win10 still more than 5x smaller than Win7 in market share, despite Microsoft literally giving it away and actively trying to push Win7 and Win8 users into updating.

Microsoft Edge just passed Safari (and all Linux use combined) in market share, but if you don't bother to test web sites for Safari then Edge would be in the same category right now, yes.

For what sites? For some B2C sites that actually work well on mobile devices -- which seems to be the only case where that particular comparison is useful -- I can see Safari use at close to 20x that of Edge, in the same league as Chrome. In contrast, Edge is registering just above Amazon Silk, the old Android Browser, and something I've never even heard of.

Comment Re: Windows 7 (Score 1) 303

MS share price is up and Windows 10 has largely gotten positive reception and very very rapid user uptake.

You would expect their share price to be way up this soon after the launch of their biggest project in several years. If it wasn't, heads would already have been looking loosely attached around the boardroom table.

As for positive reception... from whom? The trade press did their usual thing of waxing lyrical about the few headlines from the press release, while in many cases failing to mention the privacy or security implications at all. However, actual user studies show relatively little interest in digital assistants like Cortana. Edge is so insignificant in the analytics for every site I deal with that we're not even bothering to test with it. I literally don't know anyone, either socially or through work, who actually runs Windows 10 on anything, though I know a few people who have been actively avoiding it.

And as for "very, very rapid" user update, I don't know what figures you've seen, but the only data I saw the first few days after the Win10 launch that was confirmed by MS sources suggested rather mediocre adoption rates considering that they were literally preinstalling it on Win 7/8 machines and had been trying to nag/trick users into activating the free update for some time by then. In any case, as I've mentioned elsewhere, I think the real test will be where they stand 1-2 years after it launched, after the initial hype wave has faded, all the free updates are used up, and businesses have had time to consider their options.

Comment Re: Windows 7 (Score 1) 303

Sure, but in the last six months they enjoyed the results of an extremely aggressive marketing campaign promoting their first new OS in a couple of years and a vision for locking in customers using it. The reality will be clearer after the early adopter wave has died down and in particular after a year when any final surge of interest in the free upgrade has passed. If most people are running on Windows 10 at that point, they'll be doing well. If businesses are still showing little interest and the majority of home users are still on older versions, Nadella is going to have some tough questions to answer, because MS can ill afford another Vista/Win8 fiasco.

Comment Re: Torrent (Score 1) 307

Well, yes, it is primarily shooters to blame. I'm not afraid to admit that sometimes gun owners can be our own worst enemy, and this is one of those instances.

Oddly, some of the worst behavior I've seen was from stupid/bored/drunk/high townies that live nearby, and basically call these areas their back yard. After all, they don't have to drive an hour to get there, and don't consider shooting opportunities as a scarce resource. A fair share is also due to campers (more like squatters sometimes), and no doubt hikers as well, as even that demographic has two divisions: people who basically leave no trace, and pigs like everyone else.

As a hiker, I'm always picking up hiker related rubbish on the trail (energy bar wrappers being the most common), but there is a practical limit to how much damage one hiker can do, namely the weight they can carry on their back. As a shooter, I always bring along a rake and shovel and at least a couple huge industrial grade trash bags for cleanup after I'm done. I often fill at least one bag and bring it back to the city for disposal.

Comment Re:Give up PCs? Not likely... (Score 1) 210

If we want to do this kind of lockdown

For the record, that's a mighty big "if".

It wouldn't take much at all to expand that to every machine; all it'd take would be MS adding "in order to keep machines secure, don't allow disabling Secure Boot" to the Windows Hardware Certification requirements

And the resulting monopoly-related lawsuits in every nation that would support them, not to mention almost inevitable regulatory action in jurisdictions like the EU, would most likely be the final nail in the MS coffin.

Even if that didn't do for them, Intel and the major manufacturers of Intel-related motherboards and other hardware within the same architectural family are already under pressure from tablets (most of which are sporting ARM-based hardware) at the casual end of the market. The last thing they want to do is put all their eggs in one basket, particularly a basket as wobbly as Microsoft has been in recent years.

There are so many existential threats to the businesses that would need to participate in such a move, and so many well-funded organisations including many in governments that would have a lot to lose, that I still think it's completely unrealistic for the mainstream Wintel ecosystem to go that way. If anything were to lead to that sort of result it would more likely be a steady creep from the direction of smartphones and tablets where relatively closed and inflexible ecosystems are the norm, but even there the signs are that the initial glow is fading as users both become more aware of the pros and cons of such devices and tire of the cost and hassle caused by the lock-in effects.

The coming war on general-purpose computing and The Coming Civil War over General Purpose Computing are a good idea to read.

They were thought-provoking articles back when they were written, but again I'd say the recent evidence is that people are increasingly tired of these games. A new generation has grown up never not knowing what it's like to have their own PCs and consoles and mobile devices, and fast near-permanent Internet access, and a huge range of software available at the tap of a finger, and all that comes with this kind of technology. They've also grown up more aware of related issues like privacy and security, and wise to a lot of the problems that caught older generations off guard, even as the patience of the older generations themselves is wearing thin and they become less tolerant of the ever-worsening experience as tech businesses try to squeeze ever more profit out of them.

Consequently, there's been a lot of talk recently about things like on-line privacy and ad-blocking. Perhaps more telling than the talk are the moves by some of the biggest businesses in tech to actively support such things, even if means shifting industry norms or taking on governments. In fact, there is even a hint that some in those governments are finally becoming aware of the issues -- there have, at long last, been some substantial steps recently to bring copyright laws and on-line consumer rights at least a little closer to the 21st century in some major jurisdictions, for example.

I do think the writing is on the wall for some tech firms at this point, but from my perspective it is because their customers are becoming less tolerant of junk and starting to demand better quality for their hard-earned cash. Firms that ship software that doesn't work or causes security problems, businesses that leak personal data like a sieve, content distributors that try to double-dip with subscriptions and then ads, communications networks that over-charge and under-provide, on-line businesses that offer minimal customer service... All of these are increasingly on borrowed time unless they change their ways, and that's just in the B2C world. As soon as you go B2B, there are many more examples of long-standing schemes that are under threat in our increasingly open and competitive world, and consequently businesses are likely to be even less tolerant of attempts to lock down what they can do than private individuals.

Comment iFixit is NOT unbiased (Score 1, Troll) 218

The declarations of someone who is complaining that others are making it harder for him to make a buck need to be taken with a large grain of salt. iFixit for all their merits sells spare parts & repair kits. It is thus clearly in their own interest for everyone else to make it profitable for them to sell their products. iFixit would be very profitable if all phone manufacturers did everything they could to make it easier for them to sell their repair kits & repair/upgrade instead of replacing.

Their contention that do-it yourself repairmen are better for the environment it is completely unsupported. iFixit does not recover the broken parts that their clients are replacing and old parts are typically tossed in the trash. Manufacturer repair shops like Apple's have recycling policies that do recycle broken parts as well as old devices that people turn in when upgrading.

When iFixit starts systematically recovering the old parts when they sell replacement kits AND shows in some meaningful way that they are responsibly recycling them as well as Apple has shown to do, then they can talk about how environmentally virtuous they are - not before.

Comment Not the first full recovery from space (Score 1) 117

SpaceShip One touched space and all elements were recovered and flew to space again.

BO's demonstration is more publicity than practical rocketry. It doesn't look like the aerodynamic elements of BO's current rocket are suitable for recovery after orbital injection, just after a straight up-down space tourism flight with no potential for orbit, just like SpaceShip One (and Two). They can't put an object in space and have it stay in orbit. They can just take dudes up for a short and expensive view and a little time in zero gee.

It's going to be real history when SpaceX recovers the first stage after an orbital injection, in that it will completely change the economics of getting to space and staying there.

Comment Re: Micropayments? (Score 1) 210

Well, part of it is that even a small payment can still incur a psychologically large cost.

That's certainly true in my experience. It's probably the second thing you rapidly discover when building your first B2C web site, right after "If you build it, they probably still won't come."

I think the main requirements for a micropayment system to be successful would probably be simplicity and transparency. Anything that requires lots of interactions, like paying x cents for each and every post on a site like Slashdot, is doomed before it even starts because it's far too much hassle. On the other hand, something where the user's experience was reading a one-liner that said access to the site for a week cost x cents and then making literally one or two clicks to accept this might actually catch on, particularly if there was a very limited number of payment types and all participating sites were required to comply with some simple, transparent, universal terms set by the micropayment service so users could trust that they weren't getting scammed.

I think given such a simple but effective foundation, you could then build sensible policies about access control, security, and the like on top. But I think you need simplicity, transparency, and of course trust in the system before anything else matters.

Comment Re:Micropayments? (Score 1) 210

I agree with you that ad blocking is also a safety issue. I have only ever been hit by a virus once that I'm aware of. It was a zero-day in a well-known plug-in, on a system that was fully patched and running AV software, navigating a big name site you would have expected to be completely safe, via a popular link aggregator/discussion site.

I now have a 100% ad-blocking policy. I don't turn the blocker off for anyone, and if a site doesn't like that then I say fair enough and go elsewhere. I have some sympathy for sites I use regularly that lose out because of this, but it was two of those sites that led to my system being compromised so I don't have that much sympathy. I might pay a reasonable amount to support such sites if there were a convenient and safe way of doing so, but my policy on blocking ads and similar third-party content is never going to change as long as anything resembling the current software and web landscape is the norm. My feelings on this are only being strengthened by the evolving software and firmware situation, since these days if a machine is compromised you can't even count on a total reformat and reinstallation clearing the infection.

That being the case, and knowing that others will be similarly stubborn, I can't help thinking that your suggested approach would be fundamentally undermined because it relies on people to actively opt-in to receiving ads. I doubt more than a tiny fraction of users would choose to do so, and surely someone would produce a browser that had these ads off-by-default and use that as a competitive advantage.

I have a theory that it's impossible to prove anything, but I can't prove it.