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CNR.com and World Domination

The GNU/Linux community is facing a great opportunity that it must take advantage of, the turn of the tide of 64bit computing over an increasingly obsolete 32bit computing. The time is ticking away and if we want our operating system to dominate on the desktop we must act now, even if that means making some compromises. This is pretty much the premise behind the paper known as World Domination 201, an elaborate analysis of this opportunity, current status of the operating systems market with regards to GNU/Linux and what needs to be done for GNU/Linux to take advantage of the opportunity and come out as a winner.

Its authors, Eric Raymond and Rob Landley are taking the conclusions they posed in this paper quite seriously. The scene is already being set and the plot for world domination has already begun. And as far as they are concerned, this is the only or the best way forward. What I see as signs of the plan being put in motion are the promised release of Linspire's CNR software installation service to other major distributions through CNR.com, Eric Raymonds involvement with the Freespire project, Linspire's recent partnership with Ubuntu and ESR's recent adoption of Ubuntu as his distro of choice.

There were also some talks about the "codex" CD mentioned in the paper, a package of legally obtained easily installable proprietary codecs that were to be sold by Linspire.

So let's go over this situation again. We have the most popular and one of the most user friendly and advanced GNU/Linux distributions, Ubuntu, parner with Linspire and adopt their CNR.com service. We also have Ubuntu talk about including some proprietary drivers and blobs into their default installation. We have Linspire offering CNR.com to all major distributions and we have the authors of the "World Domination 201" paper working behind the scenes in support of these strategies. Yes, indeed, the plan has been put in motion.

The Plan

The plan indeed does involve a compromise, if not to the Open Source way of thinking then surely to the freedom-emphasizing Free Software philosophy because it calls for adoption of non-free components in order to make GNU/Linux compelling for mass adoption. However, as I originally understood it, this compromise was to be a temporary one. It was to be made because the free replacements of these "essential" non-free parts would not be fully available in time for the 64bit opportunity to be seized, but the opportunity couldn't be missed.

The idea is to do everything we have to do to make GNU/Linux a dominant operating system and then use this prevalent position to influence others to provide us with the rest of what we need, that is, to replace the proprietary components we're using with free ones.

For example, as presenters of the dominant operating system, major GNU/Linux vendors could be able to put an overwhelming pressure on AMD and Nvidia to release the source code of their graphics card drivers as Free Software. While not everyone shares the ethical philosophy behind Free Software, most people, even in the Open Source community, do believe that having a source code and freedom to share and modify it allows for better technical maintainability, adaptability and overall functional efficiency. This would suggest that there would be enough motivation in the community to push for replacements of non-free with free, even after the dominant position has been achieved.

However, in order for this plan to work, it doesn't appear essential to adopt proprietary software for things for which fully capable free alternatives already do exist. Doing this would mean compromising more than we have to and quite probably risking getting too comfortable with running proprietary software on our systems to want to change this later on.

World Domination of what exactly?

In fact, when you look at what CNR.com will be, there is a possibility of a whole new proprietary software market being created within the GNU/Linux field, thanks to Linspire and CNR.com alone. When asked about how will Linspire financially benefit from CNR.com, CEO of Linspire Kevin Carmony responded:

CNR is a free service, but users have the option of purchasing commercial products and services. We share that revenue with the vendors of these products. This is the main source of revenue for Linspire, so expanding the number of users should increase our sales revenue.

And there lies the crux of the problem. First of all, note that when Kevin says "commercial" he most likely refers not only to commercial Free Software, but to a large extent to non-free proprietary software as well. It is worth noting that equating proprietary software with "commercial" software in a way that implies that all Free Software is non-commercial suggests lack of understanding of what Free Software and indeed Open Source is all about. Second of all, if selling proprietary software is the core revenue source of Linspire and if it will be selling proprietary software through CNR.com service, there is a distinct possibility of a whole market being created around proprietary software by the CNR.com site.

How could that happen? Well think about it. CNR.com will likely be quite popular among people who switch from Windows to GNU/Linux because it will allow basically one-click installation of software in a friendly way. This popularity will then be one of the selling points of Linspire when they offer to sell proprietary software of proprietary vendors through CNR.com. As this leads GNU/Linux popularity to grow more and more, the larger amount of proprietary software vendors will want to sell their software to the GNU/Linux crowd and CNR.com will appear to be the best platform through which they could do that.

Before we know it, this would lead to an increasing number of proprietary applications being sold and advertised through CNR.com to the GNU/Linux users. Rest assured that these proprietary programs will include programs for which perfectly functional Free Software equivalents exist.

So how can a freedom loving Free Software user support this ongoing strategy by this new Linspire led "conglomerate" for world domination if Linspire would actively promote the use of proprietary software among the GNU/Linux users (because it is their core business)? How can we trust that once we do achieve the dominance of GNU/Linux, that this OS which was supposed to be completely Free wont be just another hybrid of free and proprietary?

The more I think about it, the more I am concerned that the "World Domination 201" plan at work here is more about the domination of a yet another mixed operating system and not the world domination of software freedom. And is that even worth having? If this is really what we are fighting for then why not just save us the effort and support Mac OS X for they have already made an incredible operating system which is a hybrid of non-free on top and free on the bottom.

It really comes down to a simple choice for everyone of us. Either we care about software freedom and prevalence of *that*, or we care about a yet another OS, "Linux", and the domination of merely *that*. If we care about the former, we will examine critically what Linspire and CNR.com will be offering and if it turns out to be a efficient pipe of delivering proprietary software to the GNU/Linux land, in addition to being a yet another nice way of installing Free Software, maybe it would be better to just stick to our existing installation tools, apt-get, pacman, yum etc.

Or maybe the freedom loving community should forget about Linspire and set up an equivalent service to CNR.com which won't be pushing proprietary software on us. GNewSense guys, any ideas? Eye

For those who may now be asking, "But how do we then achieve world domination and take advantage of the opportunity without CNR.com or even without a compromise?" Well, stay tuned to Libervis. In our next article we may just answer that question. Smiling

Thank you
Danijel

More information:

Comments

OS world should change soon.

 

OS world should change soon. We have to promote that.

Regards

CNR.com and World Domination

 

As I understand ESR's World Domination 201, the original idea was for these non free CODECs, and drivers to be made available by a distribution agnostic means, through an organisation made up of the commercial and non commercial Linux vendors. The organisation was supposed to funded not by the sale of this proprietary software, but by the members. The reason for this was so that the organisation would not be dependent on the Proprietary software, and could be disbanded when no longer needed. As I understand it, only kevin Carmony and Linspire were interested, so I guess what we will get is an organisation that depends on the sale of proprietary software in order to survive.

I dont agree

 

I dont agree with the part that we should use non-free till we get a replacement..
sorry but I just can't see that as good even if is only in the mean time..
what we should do is put our energy on creating this non-free eq under free software...
the idea you have about creating a free CNR is very good, see instead of been like.. we need to sacrify
and wait for the miracle to drop under a tree we should put our energy creating with hard work what we really need with out the help of outsiders that don't see digital life as we see it.
if it needs to be done, lets do it.
I will vote for doing a free CNR for gNewSense.. come to our list and lets get started
http://www.binaryfreedom.info
if we dream maybe we can do it.. if we never dream it will be never done...

Chris F.

Having commercial closed software runing in Linux is good

 

Having commercial closed software running in Linux is a good thing, there are hundreds of engineering apps that will never make as open source and will benefit the linux community if they where available for Linux.

What is not a good thing is to have parts of the OS closed, but alas that is not the objective.

CNR.com and World Domination

 

Well now you can go so far to the left with this thing that you completely fall off the cliff. As OS is just a commodity that is needed to make a computer work. Same as a language is a commodity that we use to write articles and books etc. The books we can copyright the language that the books are written in we can't.

But if you speak English only, you probably will not write a book in Chinese, because it is always about what you know, and the how what you know makes life convenient. I have messed with Linux for years now, but I still don't use it, because it is not yet convenient enough, it still does not contain all the drivers required for my hardware. And if I can actually find a piece of software that I want, there is no guarantee that it is not in some incompatible format, that becomes a dependency nightmare.

Ubuntu is the closest yet to something that I might use, because it is actually working on the convenience factor, for ordinary computer users, because believe it or not the geeks are the minority computer users. And if you want a business model that works you should probably try and market to the majority, the same as MS does. If you are only marketing to the geeks then MS has nothing to worry about, because that is not their target market, and you won't take away any of their market share. Anyways if Ubuntu has CNR and there is easily installable application and driver software there, that I need, be it OSS or propriety, as a regular every day user I don't care, as long as there is no law suit potential, I might even start to use Ubuntu Linux as my principal OS.

what's so hard about yum, or for that matter apt...

 

I guess I just don't see how this "new" service is enough better than the existing functionalities of yum or apt to make it compelling for a Linux user. What the article describes is already quite easy using these tools. Oh well, maybe I'm just too much of a geek already...

You miss the point

 

"The more I think about it, the more I am concerned that the "World Domination 201" plan at work here is more about the domination of a yet another mixed operating system and not the world domination of software freedom. And is that even worth having? If this is really what we are fighting for then why not just save us the effort and support Mac OS X for they have already made an incredible operating system which is a hybrid of non-free on top and free on the bottom."

Your politics is blocking your vision:

(1) The enemy (and I use that word adviedly, as they hate us and try to destroy us) is Microsoft. If they continue to dominate, they will expunge the free software movement. Vista will chug along only running approved apps, and linux will run nothing - no movies, no music, nothing.

(2) Apple is if anything a more vile company than M$: You clearly don't remember the "look and feel" lawsuit days, or the days when a bung cpu chip in an Apple ii meant buying a new computer.

(3) OSX is in no way remotely like the CNR plan: the free bit is trapped inside a bulletproof shell of proprietary design and might as well not be there - you HAVE to purchase OSX if you want it at all - but linux with CNR is a free matrix in which, at MY discretion, I can add non-free islands of code.

(4) and anyway, even if apple weren't as bad or worse than MS, they aren't going to overturn the MS behemoth - only linux has a shot at that.

(5) Every core (of anything) relies on a surrounding shell: the black of a full eclipse of the sun is surrounded by a half-light - the umbra is surrounded by a penumbra. If you insist that it is all-pure or nothing, it WILL be nothing! Take my case: I run debian and kubuntu. I was able to switch completely because I was able to wean the other members of my family by buying them xandros with its Crossover and NTFS disk technology. Without a way to give them a mixed environment, our home network would have had to be M$, not linux. You need to face the truths Eric Raymond obviously understands: In a 1% market, you have very little leverage to get those specs to make all the drivers etc free; but in a 90% market, even if only 10% of those are fanatics like you, you have a HUGE leverage to get those specs. That is the math.

(And BTW, I don't pluck that "90%" out of the hat: once the switch is on, the masses will rapidly see that there is no reason to pay M$ to run a full-featured computer: once games makers etc have to release a linux version or lose sales, they WILL do it. The switch, when it happens, will be rapid, to 85% at least in the short term, will keep going up, and will only stop when Windows goes off the market entirely within a very few years of the major switch. But none of this will happen if you and those who think like you don't get real, real soon.)

Chris wrote:I will vote

Chris wrote:

I will vote for doing a free CNR for gNewSense.. come to our list and lets get started
http://www.binaryfreedom.info
if we dream maybe we can do it.. if we never dream it will be never done...

I'll likely sign up to your list. I'm not a developer, but I can maybe help with ideas and if the project actually does come to fruition graphics/web design and such.

anonymous wrote:

Having commercial closed software running in Linux is a good thing, there are hundreds of engineering apps that will never make as open source and will benefit the linux community if they where available for Linux.

First, how do you know they will never be made free? And second, if they really wont than that is just a reason for developing free equivalents rather than getting comfy with proprietary ones.

You can use those proprietary apps personally if you must, until free equivalents are developed, but I am very vary of promoting them in such a high profile way to the GNU/Linux community.

Eventually, all Free Software should be Free (as in freedom, that is). Smiling

Quote:

Well now you can go so far to the left with this thing that you completely fall off the cliff. As OS is just a commodity that is needed to make a computer work. Same as a language is a commodity that we use to write articles and books etc. The books we can copyright the language that the books are written in we can't.

I don't feel I fell off the cliff yet, mind you. Eye There is a reason for all that is being said here and it is obviously beyond what you describe. Note that freedom usually brings more and lasting convenience as well, but you first have to have it. Proprietary patches in a Free OS may bring you short term convenience, but the first time a proprietary vendor exerts control he has over it, the first time you need freedoms with it that you don't have, will be the time you'll realize that it would have been more convenient to have this freedom in the first place.

Cheers

previous anonymous

previous anonymous wrote:

Your politics is blocking your vision:

(...)

I don't think I miss the point. If it may seem so from the above article then read the "more info" links below as it includes a discussion which I have started in favor of WD201 plan exactly because I understand what you are saying.

I wouldn't have such a problem with the plan if its execution didn't involve a company which breathes because of proprietary software, if the execution of a plan was really about putting in non-free components *only* where free ones don't already exist, and not pushing anything else.

But the truth appears to be different. You're right, CNR is not the same thing as Mac OS X and probably wont result in a same kind of OS, but on a certain levels, if a common GNU/Linux installation will contain a bunch of proprietary applications a few years from now when it will supposedly dominate, they would be comparable.

To recap, my problem with what is happening is not so much a little "temporary compromise" as much as it is the "over-compromising" which is evidently happening here. It is not just "we'll use non-free components in places where Free Software doesn't exist yet". From what I see happening it is: "We'll use non-free software in places where Free Software doesn't exist yet, but will ALSO push a lot of non-free applications, regardless of whether they have functional free equivalents or not, because that is how we get our pay".

Sorry, that's simply where the WD201 plan goes awfully awry. It fails in fact.

Thanks

"so I guess what we will get

 

"so I guess what we will get is an organisation that depends on the sale of proprietary software in order to survive"

GNU and Linux have not only survived but have become wildly used while fighting the on slot from propriety software interests over the last 20 years. There is not fundamental reason to change streams now and risk losing the high ground.

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