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Comment Re:Wasn't there already a free laptop (Score 1) 57

There is the Open RISC platform, which is under GPL. It's essentially the HDL code of a MIPS variant that can be used on FPGAs. So if one built a computer - probably not a laptop - using that, then the hardware would be open as well if all the chips on the PCB were programmable i.e. either FPGA or Flash.

Although I do wonder whether anybody, no matter how good at Verilog or VHDL, would try to reprogram the FPGAs on the card and redefine the interfaces b/w the parts? That would be the underlying point to having it open in the first place. Otherwise, once such a design is frozen, spin out ASICs based on that code, and optimize the power consumption vs performance.

The point about free hardware being less important - once un-programmable parts are used in a platform, there goes the idea of doing anything w/ the GNU's Freedom 3 - the right to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, 'so that the whole community benefits'. At that point, there is little difference b/w that, and a closed source hardware platform made up of unalterable parts. Yeah, most vendors may publish their specs, but that's not the same as giving a piece of hardware that can be altered any way one likes.

Comment Re:Yawn, another fork (Score 1) 219

If customers are the type who are likely to study the source code, modify and use it as per their needs, chances are that they would have a good idea about the software. Yeah, it's not their core business, but under an open source license, there is nothing stopping them from selling or freely distributing it to others. They don't have to promise any support or any such thing whatsoever. Let's say they spent $10k buying the software from you: they recoup that expense by re-selling it at $100 to say, 100 people, and they're a wash. From that point on, anything they do w/ the software - create another product, resell more copies, et al would be pure gravy.

I'm not thinking here so much about things like Libre Office or Linux: there, you are right. Nobody redistributes them since they're already free. I was thinking about things like CAD packages, where typically, customers would need to have a high level of expertise to even use them, and chances are that they'd understand some of the code used to build it. As you say, making it expensive enough is somewhat of a disincentive for them to give that away to anybody. But note that there is nothing in the license that prevents it - it's not even against the spirit of the license to do so. By contrast, w/ a shared source license, they'd use the source for what they need - modifying it to suit their custom requirements, porting it to exotic platforms and so on, while not doing what's not in the ISV's interest - redistributing it.

I wasn't claiming that open source software can't be sold - of course, it can. Only issue - it takes just one customer who puts it up on github or somewhere to make it available for no cost to anyone who doesn't want to buy the support. You claim that very few people/companies would do it. Companies, yes, but I have my doubts about people. It's a lot cleaner when an ISV picks a license that allows only what he wants or is okay with, and explicitly disallows everything he doesn't want.

Comment Re:Modern morality (Score 1) 24

For a quick glance at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cloud_of_Unknowing, if not a purchase, I'm leery about any doctrine not maximizing the individual in terms of body, mind & soul.
Because while pursuing Christ is the ultimate goal of any Christian, maximizing oneself in all three dimensions is certainly the bi-product.
Things like Calvinism or heavy navel-gazing seem like Satan's judo, where the devil can't corrupt people directly enough, so they are sidelined with mumbo-jumbo.
But I haven't read the book, so I can't really get too punky about what's said therein.

Comment Re:easy, (Score 1) 393

I've used several different versions of various software, for communications. It's really not difficult to implement or use properly, and could probably be simplified. There are reasons for not allowing it. Enterprise servers for instance, you don't own that email, your company does, and may need access to it at any time for legal purposes, to name one reason. Chat programs, however, are inexcusable. OTR has been out for 10 years at least and is about as simple a tool to use as exists out there. With a couple of simple mods, it should be possible to automate the entire process for the masses, but no one's bothered.

Comment Re:The only thing missing... (Score 1) 136

Yes & No. There is a version of Motif called Open Motif, which adheres to the Open Group Public License, which is not open source, b'cos it has a restriction that it can only be used on OSs that have licenses that satisfy the OSI's 'Open Source' definition.

GPL guys should like, if not love, this license as it forces reciprocity - the software cannot be used on closed or proprietary systems. Unfortunately, it can't be used on shared source systems either.

Motif, however, is still not open sourced - it's still a very commercial license. Nothing wrong w/ that, except that all the current commercial Unixes - Solaris, HP/UX and AIX - all offer KDE and GNOME, in addition to CDE, so it's hard to see end users cough up the cash for Motif/CDE when they can get KDE for free, and customize it to look like CDE (at least, that was possible in KDE 3.5 and in Trinity, dunno whether KDE lost that capability when it went to 4)

Comment Re:The really scary thing... (Score 1) 83

True, you have to stay secure for the length of time the message has value. This varies. If you're the military, and reporting the position of a patrol in the field, this doesn't need to stay secret for very long. (3 days later the info is pretty useless anyway)

Breaktroughs in algorithms makes this hard. You can nest encryption, which means you're safe unless *all* of the levels are cracked, but it's a hassle.

Comment Re: It is better than buying used games (Score 1) 300

DRM keys to unlock media are largely useless. They get shared or they'll require an always on internet connection to validate the instance to be useful as DRM. MS realized this, and took the next step to lock it down. Apparently, people balked in large enough numbers to change that policy. So what happens? DRM is useless again, like it always has been for this use.

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