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Comment Re:Fantastic Accomplishment... but risky (Score 1) 283

We get to see how functional entirely Free systems really are. Maybe you don't need the latest and greatest nVidia drivers to still have a machine that does what you need it to do.

This is actually worth a great deal. I recently did a new install of Debian and was surprised that Flash seemed to be working just fine. "This is Debian, there's no way there could be Flash on here, how is this working?" I asked myself. It was of course Gnash. After intentionally going to some Flash heavy websites I saw that while Gnash is not 100% Flash compatible it comes very close. This surprised me because I last looked at Gnash awhile ago and it was pretty much useless. I still get the proprietary Flash but thanks to Debian I saw that Gnash has come along a great deal. As it progresses I will be happy to use it, especially because doing security updates for Flash is a pain.

And, if that's not good enough, I recently built a computer to run MythTV. The motherboard had ATI graphics, which I assumed would be unusable with Linux so I bought an nVidia add-in card. It was cheap and had a ridiculously loud fan, so I sent it back. Having nothing to lose, I tried the built in ATI graphics. Debian of course does not have the non-free drivers in the main repository, but I got the open source driver working with minimal hassle (might have had to add non-free firmware.) The open source driver works very well, with full XVideo support which is essential for decent MythTV performance. I thought I would need the proprietary driver for that. So I have happily stuck with the open-source driver and have gladly dispelled my notions of all ATI support in Linux being terrible.

So, yes, the promotion of the open-source drivers and the exclusion of non-free firmware plays an important role. It shows people what open source is capable of and it gets more exposure for open source software and speeds its development. It encourages people who run Debian to look for hardware that is easy to use under Debian. This is much more than some dumb ideological move whose only consequence is to make Debian harder to install.

Comment Don't coin dumb and inaccurate words (Score 3, Insightful) 390

I don't know who started this dumb, inaccurate, and insulting "hacktivist" portmanteau. These people are simple criminals. They are doing nothing to support Wikileaks. To support Wikileaks, give it money. Give it hosting. MIrror its documents. Attacking MasterCard does absolutely nothing to support Wikileaks.

"Hacker" only means bad things to most people, so I give up on that part of this dumb word. But "activist"? That belongs to people like Liu Xiaobo, winner of the Peace Prize who can't even go to his ceremony because he's in jail. It belongs to people who are actually trying to advance good in the world. It doesn't belong to simple criminals who are engaged in the pointless, cowardly, and pseudo-anonymous destruction of commercial websites.

I don't know if "hacktivist" is some attempt to be cute, some attempt to stir sympathy for these criminals, or some attempt to look cool by using some hip new word invented on some blog or in Twitter, but there is a huge difference between activism of any kind and simple, cowardly, criminal vandalism.

Comment Re:I'm glad I went back to Fedora earlier this yea (Score 1) 382

Ubuntu lets you choose too. If you want off the roller coaster and just want a stable system based on proven technology, install an LTS and wait for the next LTS. Easy.

"proven technology" like how they put PulseAudio into an LTS release before it had seen widespread testing and before it had been released in a non-LTS Ubuntu?

Comment Re:Disguised keyboard emulators (Score 1) 273

Plus it says you must adopt FSF dogma, such as

the seller must use the term "GNU/Linux" for any reference to an entire operating system which includes GNU and Linux, and not mislead with "Linux" or "Linux-based system" or "a system with the Linux kernel". And the seller must talk about "free software" more prominently than "open source."

Too bad this endorsement mark is really about promoting FSF and settling old scores, rather than being about promoting users' freedom.

Comment Re:Disguised keyboard emulators (Score 3, Insightful) 273

So they're all about the freedom of users, except when the user wants to run proprietary software?

How is my freedom restricted merely by buying a device that bears a "Works With Proprietary Software" sticker if the device can also run Free Software?

How is my freedom restricted if I choose to run proprietary software?

Comment Paper and pencil (Score 5, Interesting) 177

As a law student, at first I used a laptop to take notes in class. I had a 14-inch laptop and it wasn't light, especially when you factor in the power cord. I got tired of lugging the thing around.

This was years ago, so light laptops were quite expensive and there were no netbooks. One guy had a Palm and a fold-up keyboard. I thought of getting this but I couldn't justify the expense.

Then I realized I was making this way too complicated. I got a bunch of $2 spiral notebooks and started taking those to class instead. I could write a lot faster on a laptop, but I realized that having page after page of class notes was not really helpful anyway. Without the laptop and all the distractions it brought, I could focus better in class. In the end I was glad I had stopped using the laptop. My bag was a lot lighter too.

I think computers in the classroom could perhaps be helpful, but only if the professor actually takes steps to integrate them--maybe by teaching from materials that are online. Law school instructional methods do nothing to take advantage of laptops, so they just end up being a burden. An iPad is even less functional than a laptop, so I doubt it would be useful in most classrooms. I don't see how medical school would differ from law school in this regard.

Comment Re:Meet the 4 stages (Score 4, Informative) 464

Microsoft Research pays people to work on Haskell and the leading Haskell compiler, GHC. GHC is licensed under the BSD license, which is "free" and "open source" by any definition.

To say this company has "never" helped open source is a bit extreme. Like any profit-making entity, it helps open source when doing so is in Microsoft's interest.

Comment Re:I'll give up flash when... (Score 1) 483

I can browse ANY restaurant website from my iPhone and not just see one blue lego

Apparently you already have given up Flash on your iPhone, yet you continue to use it.

The iPhone carrying demographic is a large and affluent one which often uses its phones to find somewhere to eat. It's very dumb of restaurants to show these users nothing more than a blue lego. Unfortunately the restaurants are not showing the Flash users anything much better. Those Flash infested restaurant websites just have a lot of loud music that is trying to sound hip, menus that are hard to read because they are black text on a maroon background, and navigation buttons that are impossible to find. I go to one of these looking for a menu and I just give up even from a Flash enabled device.

These people need to just put up a simple website with hours and a menu.

Comment Re:That ain't the GPL's responsibility. (Score 0, Flamebait) 571

I don't think it's worth abandoning the advantages of Copyleft just to avoid the stick issue of what exactly constitutes a derivative work.

That's just it. "The advantages of Copyleft" have been illusory. Many enormously successful works have been created with those BSD-style licenses. They continue to evolve and develop without Copyleft. To name just a few, there is the world's most popular web server, all of the BSD operating systems, the X window system, the CPython interpreter and, coincidentally, the PHP interpreter upon which Wordpress relies.

The GPL is a highly restrictive software license. It does not promote freedom and no one has ever shown that its restrictive Copyleft has accomplished anything in spite of all the confusion it has wrought.

Comment Re:Deal killer (Score 1) 646

I don't get it, I've had my Terminal as black text on white (translucent) background since OSX 10.0, almost a decade ago. What were you trying to do that required a plug-in?

As I recall, I could switch Terminal to black on white. The problem was that some of the color combinations where then practically invisible--could have been yellow on white or cyan on white; I don't remember for sure. So I needed to change the colors that Terminal used in its black-on-white scheme, but this was not possible without some sort of plugin-like thing (not sure what the technical term for it was.)

I remember seeing that Apple made this a feature in 10.5.

Comment Deal killer (Score 4, Informative) 646

For me a glossy screen is an absolute deal-killer. I once had a MacBook (the white, plastic one.) There were things about it that took some getting used to--I am accustomed to PC hardware running Linux. I could get used to the one-button mouse, the different keyboard shortcuts, and differences in the software like no X11 (at least, not ordinarily) and the Finder. I rather liked the idea of a PC running Unix without having to futz with installing an OS not supported by the OEM.

But what drove me to sell the thing on eBay was the glossy screen. Gloss makes it absolutely impossible to do any work with any bright light source over my shoulder. I do a lot of work in a terminal, and a black background is just impossible to read. So I switched them to a light background. That actually wasn't easy because the Terminal in OS X at the time (10.4, I think) made it really hard to switch colors--I had to download some sort of plugin to do something that X11 terminals have been capable of for years. Even with a light background, though, it was hard to do work if there was a lamp behind me and impossible to do work if there was a window behind me.

I complained of this, and some people said "well, just close the blinds" or "sit somewhere else." I now laugh when Steve Jobs said that if you phone is dropping calls when you hold it a certain way, don't hold it that way. Seems responses like that are common amongst the Apple set.

This was so bad that I sold the thing and now I won't buy a laptop with a glossy screen. That pretty much limits me to enterprise models as nearly all the consumer models have the glossy screen. I think Apple used to have a very expensive MacBook Pro that gave you a choice between glossy and matte but I don't think they have that choice anymore. No more Apple hardware for me.

Comment Re:Jjust admit you found another way to fuck us. (Score 2, Insightful) 319

Its like text messaging. Everyone wants it, so lets charge everyone ridiculous rates to send text.

Now that everyone wants smart phones, lets charge everyone for data because we can.... and theres nothing you can do about it.

Boost Mobile. $50, text all you want, unlimited web.

Cricket. $40, text all you want, unlimited web.

So there is something you can do about it, but you'd rather sit around and whine. Or maybe you want the top notch devices and top notch network but you don't want to pay for it. Okay.

Comment Re:Stability Issues - is it your distro? (Score 0) 122

the odd crash here and there, e.g. of Konsole, particularly early on, but nothing that really blew up the whole desktop.

Yikes, that's why I stopped using KDE. I can't have an odd crash here and there of my terminal emulator. That might take with it an email I've been working on, or a long-running file download. Stability is critical.

The ancient xterm that I now use has never crashed on me, not once.

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