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Helios on World Domination 201

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memenode's picture
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It's been published through LXer.com just recently though I heard of it on #libervis IRC first. Helios is a good writer and an enthusiastic and self proclaimed "Linux Advocate" and his last entry, though very very long, deals with the current burning controversy over compromising with binary/proprietary drivers and even other proprietary software for increasing market share.

Here's the link: OK, Heads Up Linux, You're on in 5..4..3..2 (cue music)....

He refers to the paper written by Eric Raymond and Rob Landley called World Domination 201 (later in the article dubbed WD201), a document which apparently advocates a temporary compromise until GNU/Linux reaches the share in influence necessary to dictate the standards.

All in all it is a great article. Helios has a vivid way of presenting what he wants to say and he also has some great points. I would just wish if he wouldn't come down so hard on FOSS purists. They are needed to keep the awareness about freedom issues, something that will especially be needed if the larger amounts of the community start supporting this *temporary* compromise. By bashing on them as "rigid, idealogical zealots" he will get nowhere with them and he only diminishes his chances of persuading them to whatever compromise he wants them to allow for..

I am currently balancing between these two "sides", the "temporary compromise" and total purism. I believe World Domination of GNU/Linux is a good thing, but I also believe that it would be a good thing *only* if the end result is a domination of the completely Free Operating System, not a hybrid.

If they can persuade me, completely, that this "temporary compromise" is the best, even the only way, to reach that point soon enough, then I would be willing to support it.

What do you think?

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User offline. Last seen 11 years 31 weeks ago. Offline
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I think by now we all know

I think by now we all know Helios is a bit of a hothead.

Sending mountains of paper mail to nvidia and ati is a neat idea. But is it going to work? I doubt it. They probably know very well how many linux users wanting open drivers there are, we don't need to show them. And they know they can get away with not providing those open drivers...

Will temporarily including the proprietary drivers help linux adoption? Let's have a look at the costs and benefits:

benefits:
- a pretty GUI

costs:
- instability
- sending the wrong message to producers of hardware with proprietary drivers
- when the proprietary drivers are removed again, to force implementation of open ones, users will find that after the upgrade their system doesn't look as pretty as it used to... what are they going to do? maybe switch to a distribution that still includes the proprietary drivers?

We don't need a popular distribution that includes the binary blobs by default. What we do need someone to invest a lot in writing open replacements.

I'm all for pragmatism. If something that is necessary can't be done without proprietary software, then do use proprietary software. But a pretty GUI is far from necessary, and if you're going to argue eyecandy is needed to make people want Linux, then I have one abbreviation for you: e17. Strip out the unstable (are there currently any?) and unfinished parts, and you get great eyecandy without any need for anything proprietary. OK, so it's not 3d... but do eyecandy lovers ask "is it 3d?" or do they ask "is it pretty?"

(and yes, playing or at least converting proprietary codecs IS a necessity)

memenode's picture
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Thanks for unfuzzing it. I

Thanks for unfuzzing it. Smiling

I am a bit dubious about the benefit of a pretty GUI because in my opinion even the plain non-3D GUIs on GNU/Linux are quite pretty. GNOME and Xfce support many pretty looking shiny themes and KDE doesn't look bad either.

Basically the only difference that 3D drivers make for the GUI is making things animated and a few 3D specific features (like expose effect and such), not so much better looking. If you turn beryl manager on, put a couple of windows on the desktop (without moving it) the only difference you'll see between them in 3D mode and them in 2D mode is that they may have a nice shadow in 3D. You'll have to actually move something to see the animation, and a lot of this animation may actually be redundant.

My card is supported by free drivers and aside from slow scrolling, 3D works quite nicely. However, I don't normally use it because I know I can expect better performance without the 3D redundancy.

Another point I already tried to make elsewhere is the fact that Windows, and that should pretty much include Vista, don't support any 3D acceleration out of the box. You have to install drivers from 3rd party CDs. This too puts this compromising in an odd position. GNU/Linux has an abundance of advantages even without this 3D support, so should we really be so crazy about that one feature to compromise so much?

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in Vista

Actually, I remember seeing a screenshot of Vista automatically installing graphics card drivers.

That still doesn't make them necessary.

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idontknowctmwhatsthepointofcapitallettersorspacesorpunctuation

User offline. Last seen 11 years 22 weeks ago. Offline
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I think you are

I think you are oversimplifying the opinions expressed in WD201.

First, about the "bling" and 3D-GUIs... I agree with you. It's unnecessary and has drawbacks.
But generally, people don't only buy things that they need or even things that they want. If they are undecided they'll get what is available. Take mobile phones for example. Which users ever use the camera in them after the first two weeks? Maybe 5%. Which users specifically express the need for a large-resolution colour screen (or even two screens)? Maybe 15%. Yet these features are hardly avoidable today if you want a mobile phone. None in my family (I count 5 immediately around me) uses the camera yet each has got one. Such features came from the upmarket phones and swooped down across the whole market. Manufacturers included them just to stay in the race, because most buyers might just choose the camera phone over the standard one, even if they don't really want that feature. It may not be a "benefit" in terms of sales. Just avoiding a "disadvantage".
So to come back to an OS, it *can* make sense to include "bling", just to stay in the race. If I was developing Ubuntu, I would stay away from it (for the reasons you list). But I can understand why some people want to use it.

More generally, WD201 is about the urgency of stepping into the OS market significantly. In particular ESR makes some really good points about media. I hate to read it, as a free software enthusiast, and I disagree with ESR on other points. But it's a sobering read, a necessary one. I think compromise is necessary today. Just what amount is disputable; but compromise starts when you allow users to dual-boot Windows and GNU/Linux. We do this *hoping* the user will abandon the former. So it can be with unnecessary binary bling and proprietary formats and countless other things.

memenode's picture
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I would love to hear what

I would love to hear what RMS has to say on this famous WD201.

I agree Olivier that including bling makes sense. The only questioning on my part is whether it is worth a compromise in the long run because it apparently can't be done without a compromise at this point.

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Daniel Memenode signature

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It's interesting you should

It's interesting you should mention phones with built in cameras. There is a demand for phones without any special functionality (because those would be more usable for non-geeks), and companies have noticed it. For example Vodafone is selling a few limited functionality models, which I by the way do not recommend because they actually are full of all the extras (except the camera), only most of the manual has been deleted! And the interface is rather confusing too.

Perhaps instead of trying to outbling windows and macOS, we should try to make a linux that is attractive for reasons the others could never provide. Perhaps we can make it boot much faster than the others?

memenode's picture
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tbuitenh wrote: Perhaps
tbuitenh wrote:

Perhaps instead of trying to outbling windows and macOS, we should try to make a linux that is attractive for reasons the others could never provide. Perhaps we can make it boot much faster than the others?

Enter ArchLinux. Eye

Seriously, that's what I was thinking as well. There are many other areas in which we can and in many already do out-compete Windows and which are at the end of the day much more relevant to a computer user than the bling.

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