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Comment Re:Linux == rounding error (Score 1) 290

Because they understand economics. A good strategy for any industry is to commoditise complementary markets. If you make films, you want the equipment required to watch films to be cheap so that people wanting to spend money on films give the majority of it to you, and the best way of making this happen is ensuring that there are a lot of competing manufacturers of film-playing equipment able to play the recordings you produce. DRM can only work by restricting access to keys that are shipped to clients, so you artificially limit the number of people creating the playback hardware or software. The artificial scarcity reduces competition and pushes the cost up. Worse, it makes the holder of the authoritative keys more powerful. Remember when the iTunes store had DRM for music? Anyone wanting to sell music had to agree to Apple's conditions. The reason the music labels ditched DRM was that it was the only way of breaking Apple's monopoly. The movie studios, with their insistence on Silverlight DRM, are trying to put Microsoft in the same position.

More importantly, it prevents the creation of new and innovative players by anyone other than the existing manufacturers. In under 20 years saw the normal way of playing back music shift from shiny disks to tracks on a large storage device. We haven't seen the same shift for movies, because they had tighter DRM and so there was nothing like iTunes for DVDs (open source tools exist, but any time they are shipped in something that looks like a commercial product the studios sue the manufacturer out of existence).

Comment Re:Free software. (Score 1) 281

SPARC64 used to be great for that. i386 was little-endian, had loose alignment requirements, and was 32-bit. SPARCv9 was big-endian, had strict alignment requirements, and was 64-bit. If your code ran on both, it would run pretty much anywhere. Now, it's a bit less clear. MIPS32 is a pretty good alternative, and is still shipping in a fair number of machines (although mostly embedded and especially NAS type systems). Between x86-64 and MIPS32, you have the same pairings, just slightly different (32-bit, strict, big endian, vs 64-bit, loose, little endian).

Comment Re:I'll adjust your statement... (Score 1) 281

Not just the SMP support. Linux does completely braindead things with the MMU. I was shocked at how much faster NetBSD was on our SPARCstation 2s. Not just benchmarks-run-faster, but users-easily-notice-the-difference speed increases. They made pretty good X terminals, the main limitation was that the framebuffers could only handle 256 colours.

Comment Re:MEP elections (Score 2) 108

I'm not sure where the OP was from, but in the UK you also get much bigger constituencies for the Euro elections than the national elections and have multiple MEPs per constituency. This means that smaller parties are much more likely to be represented than in the national elections. The most competent of my elected representatives has been my MEP.

Comment Re:Odd (Score 5, Informative) 108

Bribery is only needed by bad lobbyists. The ones that are good at their jobs, like the MPAA and RIAA, appear to be representatives of an industry and therefore experts on a particular subject. Politicians are not expected to be experts on everything, they are expected to be willing to take advice from experts. When they need to draft a new law, the solicit the opinions of experts. The competent lobbyists have already insinuated themselves into the system and so are invited, as experts, to provide opinions to the politicians. Some of them really are experts, others are paid shills. The politicians, not being experts, are usually not able to distinguish the two.

Comment Re:When will this stop? (Score 2) 105

Ugh. For a site supposedly full of intelligent people, please can we stop repeating this nonsense? Two parties invent something, party A just before party B. Under first-to-invent, if party B files the patent, they can go through all of the expense of filing and then party A can come along and say 'actually, here's my lab record which shows that we invented that first, we'll take that patent.' Under first-to-file, party A can come along and say 'actually, here's my lab record which shows that we invented that first. It's prior art, so we'll invalidate that patent'. The latter is the only sane way of implementing a patent system, because if two people invent the same thing at approximately the same time then there is no social benefit to giving either of them a patent. It doesn't mean that you can patent things that have existing prior art: that's a completely orthogonal bug in your patent system.

Comment Re:Difference between GPL and MPLv2? (Score 1) 249

LGPLv2 upgrades to GPLv2, which contains the "or any later version" clause

False. LGPLv2 does not contain an 'or any later version' clause. The rest of this paragraph is not quoted because it didn't make any sense.

(It may not be compatible with GPLv2 minus the "any later version" clause, but that's an obvious result of having one thing saying version 3 or newer, and the other thing saying version 2 only).

The 'or later' clause is not part of any version of the GPL or LGPL. It is simply a convention that the FSF encourages users of their licenses to adopt. You don't have to modify the license to remove it (which, by the way, you can't legally do because the FSF asserts copyright on their licenses and does not permit derived works).

Comment Re: Or... (Score 1) 318

It's perfectly normal for an embedded system. It is not normal, or sensible, for a general-purpose computing device. It is certainly not sensible for a thing that needs to receive regular security updates to have most of the (vulnerable) code in read-only storage.

And complaining that a 1GHz phone with 512MB of RAM is underpowered is ridiculous. It has far more horsepower than you need to run 4.1, it's only some of the newer apps that will struggle. I had a laptop with worse specs that ran far more demanding applications than anything I'd run no a mobile phone.

Comment Re:Or... (Score 5, Interesting) 318

Bullshit. The problem is Android's notion of a system application. These are things that can't be uninstalled and must be on the internal storage. Some of these really are system services, but others are just shovelware. The 512MB on the Nexus One is more than adequate for a more recent Android, if you move some of the non-essential crap onto the SD card. The Nexus One came with a 4GB SD card and supports up to 32GB, so there's no reason not to do this, except that then you'd be able to uninstall some of the Google stuff.

This model, by the way, is especially wasteful because often these system components need updating, and due to the design of the Android filesystem layout they can't overwrite the old components, so you end up having to have two copies of a load of stuff installed, and you can't delete the unused one even though that's the one on the smaller storage device...

Comment Re:Why this dilution? (Score 2) 249

Once there was StarOffice, owned by Star Division.

Star Division was bought by Sun and the bits they owned were open sourced as OpenOffice. It was then renamed OpenOffice.org once they noticed someone else owned the OpenOffice trademark.

For years, Sun contributed 80% of the new code. Novell contributed about 10% and sulked that they weren't recognised as much as they felt they should be.

Novell started go-oo.org, containing their own patches to OpenOffice.org, including several things that were of dubious legality (e.g. implementing Microsoft patents that Microsoft guaranteed that they would not sue Novell for, but didn't extend this guarantee to anyone else).

Sun bought Oracle and most of the OpenOffice developers left (some voluntarily, others not) and found new employment.

Novell saw this as an opportunity to become the dominant players and pushed the LibreOffice brand for OO.o plus their patches. Lots of people fell for this and LibreOffice started to gain a lot more traction.

Most of the work in both forks is now by ex-Sun people. The code is horrible in both, although both teams are slowly trying to fix it.

Comment Re:You need a compatible business model (Score 4, Insightful) 99

This really can't be moderated highly enough. A donation model is nice in theory, but very few people donate. The main reason for open sourcing software is that software is not your core market and you want to lower development costs. Once you open source the code that you are using, even a small number of external contributors counts as a net win. If your business is selling software, then you need some incentive for people to pay you. For proprietary software, it's simple: they can't use it unless they pay. For open source, they can use it and copy it for free, so why would they pay you? Typically, the answer is that they want to be able to influence the direction of future versions, for example by having bugs that affect them or features that they want prioritised.

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