alan cox binary drivers Comic eric raymond esr fedora freedom linspire mark shuttleworth proprietary software redhat rpm ubuntu

The RedHat Package Mangler

everybody loves eric raymond episode 62 strip

Initial script donated by a mysterious anonymous benefactor. Help from the the usual suspects.

40 replies on “The RedHat Package Mangler”

“Eric, is that a Fedora Core CD in your hand, or are you unhappy to be free?:” — Mae West

New slogans:
RMS: “Free as in Freedom, bitch!”
Linus: “Just for fun!”
ESR: “Bukkake Ubuntu! (Gokkun!)”

Ah, jokes within jokes!

esr tried to force it, and broke his package.

See the citation “Someone translated esr’s e-mail” from above.

john et al:

On the philosophy page you link to, you will find this paragraph:

“When you install Ubuntu almost all of the software installed already meets these ideals, and we are working to ensure that every single piece of software you need is available under a licence that gives you those freedoms. Currently, we make a specific exception for some “drivers” which are only available in binary form, without which many computers will not complete the Ubuntu installation. We place these in a restricted section of your system which makes them trivial to remove if you do not need them.”

which has been there since the page was created. This pragmatic exception has always been a part of the “core values” of Ubuntu.

Who cares if Ubuntu doesn’t use 100% free software? I need my flash plugins + nvidia drivers, buddy.

MattZ: a pragmatic exception sounds rather like a compromise to me. The line “Ubuntu is entirely committed to the principles of free software development” used to feature prominently on the front page.

It’s now relegated to where it reads “The Ubuntu team is committed to Free and Open Source Software.”

Ubuntu is no longer entirely committed to free software. Ubuntu have made some “pragmatic exceptions”. If this was the plan from day one then the only thing they’re guilty of is lack of clarity.

I actually only used the phrase “sacrifice our core values” to mirror some wording used in the original thread, for comedic value, but I still think it has some merit depending on the interpretation.

And anyway, I’m pretty sure the Ubuntu installation would “complete” just fine without binary 3D drivers, unless of course dpkg stores temporary files on the Z axis.

I don’t think Ubuntu has compromised it’s philosophy in any way. The say they promote Free Software, wich is true, but:

«Currently, we make a specific exception for some “drivers” which are only available in binary form, without which many computers will not complete the Ubuntu installation.»

The above is also part of their philosophy. Also, Mark Shuttleworth has stated that Ubuntu will have a truly Free version, with only Free Software. This is not sacrificing core values in any way.

Regarding Mono, .NET is an ECMA standard that has nothing to do with the Novell/Microsoft deal, according to Miguel de Icaza. I don’t like Microsoft, but I don’t see Mono as a liability, on the contraire.

I would surely agree that Ubuntu’s philosophy incorporates a “compromise” (a middle way between two extremes) but not that it has been “compromised” (exposed or made liable to danger, suspicion, or disrepute) or changed in any substantial way since the project’s inception. This position has always been stated clearly in the founding documents, and non-free drivers have been included in Ubuntu since its very first release.

As for being necessary to complete the installation, the fact is that many computers available for purchase today include graphics chipsets which simply aren’t supported by open source drivers. We hear this from OEMs who want to preinstall Ubuntu, but require NVIDIA’s driver in order to get any display at all on their platform, and from consumers who have purchased laptops with modern ATI graphics, among others.

These people can’t even find out what Ubuntu is like without drivers. They can’t discover what’s good about free software, or be educated about the issues affecting hardware support in Linux and how they can help. Our goal is to reach these users by solving their immediate practical problem, and in doing so, strengthen the movement to make these problems a thing of the past.

Once again, a comic that managed to get my co-worker’s attention as I laughed my ass off.

I love ELER’s ability to demoralize annoying people so well. :D

Thank you!

To all those who think Ubuntu is okay in their non-free avenues to attract more users…

What’s important? showing everybody that you were soooo right from the start and that GNU/Linux is so great?

Between attracting more users and losing freedoms, I pick the right one. Who cares for a 70% market share based on non-free software? Yeah, with 70% market share, “hardware companies will embrace free software” – why would they if 70% of the market is already using their proprietary crap?!

Switch to Mac if you want a candy OS and you don’t care about free software.

It would be a lot easier to accept the lesser functionality required to be completely Free if it were ever going to be improved, but I honestly don’t believe it ever will be.

I’ve been using Linux on the desktop for nearly 10 years now, and while it’s come a long way, it’s still nowhere near where it should be considering the amount of time and effort that has been spent on it. In many cases, I’m still seeing the same arguments that I saw 2 years ago, and 2 years before that. Hardware support has improved, but in the main areas where we need free drivers, the options are still limited (networking and video).

Without the cooperation of the hardware vendors, the current situation will never change. Without a change in the mindset surrounding interface design (we need psychologists for this more than we need programmers) Linux will still be just that little bit too much more complex for the average end user.

I just got a brand new laptop, ThinkPad X60s, and a default install of gNewSense with no tweaking whatsoever and it all works, apart from the wireless card… and I have a PCMCIA wireless card which works just fine with free drivers.

Matt Zimmerman: When you say a machine needs proprietary drivers to install, that doesn’t include installation via an ncurses based interface, am I right?

Eric got a point on Fedora…
I lost my fully installed System when i tried to upgrade to level 6. No biggies but hey, i don’t wanna do that every half an year!

My OpenBSD was upgraded installed etc. several times during that time… no such worries there! thats the Spirit.

I think Ubuntu is showing that if one puts free software in a cocoon of proprietary code and shellacs it with professional art we might just be able to get people to take this free stuff off our hands.

Mister Beez – I cannot see the ‘exit strategy’ for Ubuntu and non-free software though – at what point do they think vendors will magically make all their drivers free, because a bunch of people are using Ubuntu?

You obviously never run a commercial business. Hardware vendors make money by selling their products. Do you think that any hardware vendor (apart from Apple) would endure more than a month if it would ship a product without any kind of Windows drivers for it? Who would buy such a product? Therefore, if You do have a 70+% market share, you can dictate the terms for the market: if you say “No more non-free drivers for my product” (and you could do that without loosing more than a couple of percents of your own market for that reason), then HW vendors would have to comply if they want their businesses to continue making money. That’s capitalism.

But if you’re a minor player in the market (almost invisible on the radar) as “free” Linuxes currently are, then with attitude like yours you can only stand aside sulking and watch other people jump ship because they cannot use their hardware the way they can use it with ‘compromise-prone’ Linuxes or, Gods forbid, proprietary OSes.

I, for one, am thankfull that I can use binary-only drivers if they do solve mu problems better than open-source ones: in my laptop (MSI S270) I have a RaLink 2500 WiFi card. RaLink open-source driver is in the default kernel for ages (I’ve even read somewhere on the Net that GNU encourages people use this card because the company is open-source friendly), but it was not modified to use the new WiFi framework in the Linux kernel. Therefore, I’ve had problems configuring it for my home network using WPA – I wanted to use NetworkManager to manage my card, but it wont work in WPA mode, only WEP. Finaly I’ve found the solution to compile RaLink own utility, but that was a kludge. So, I opted for Windows driver and ndiswrapper and it works great – I can use NetworkManager to manage my WiFi card no matter what type of encryption is used. With ‘free’ driver I obviously could not use it that way. And yes, I would like to try to improve the driver but I don’t have the skills needed for that job and I don’t have the possibility to break apart my home network for that.

Well… drivers aren’t applications, so what’s your point there?

Anyway… I think it’s totally OK to use this for comedic purpose but I thought it was supposed to be a parody.
So, as a dedicated Ubuntu user, I laughed hard about the whole strip – just after I looked up, what the hell peotomy means ^^

Market share is by far much more important to software freedom today than “free software philosophy”.

The free software alternative in general isn’t totally free. You aren’t free to play DVDs. You aren’t free to use whatever software you want. You aren’t free to use whatever hardware you want. You aren’t free to open most file formats. These freedom problems will only be solved with significant market share.

Not that I am defending Ubuntu. I don’t like it either. To be honest, I don’t like Linux in general. I prefer FreeBSD rather than Linux.

” Market share is by far much more important to software freedom today than “free software philosophy”. ”

Yes, just look at how the BSDs took the over the world by thunder to become the number one Free Operating system, and all by just making it easier for proprietary interests to divide and conquer.

i don’t get the big deal, i mean what percentage of the world knows how to hack open source code in any kind of useful way? and the percentage that can write device drivers for undocumented pieces of silicone is what, like 0.1% of the world’s population less? so basically you’re just about as free to modify the system anyway so that you can use your computer that otherwise displays gleeps and uncomfortably-colored stripes because there’s no open-source graphics driver. but it is slightly closer to achieving their philosophical ideals to prevent those forming part of the 99.9% of the world’s population who would be otherwise included in 6 8ths of the first statement but unfortunately have hardware that doesn’t have free device drivers and are so destitute that they can’t buy a shiite video/audio/ card and so poorly socially-connected that they can’t just swap gear with their windows-using friends from using ubuntu at all.

yeah i know that sentence was way too complicated, but it’s free like speech.

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