[conspire] Dapper & Easyubuntu

Edmund J. Biow biow at sbcglobal.net
Wed Dec 6 18:36:20 PST 2006

> ------------------------------
> Message: 2
> Date: Tue, 05 Dec 2006 16:20:13 -0800
> From: Daniel Gimpelevich <daniel at gimpelevich.san-francisco.ca.us>
> Subject: Re: [conspire] Dapper & Easyubuntu
> To: conspire at linuxmafia.com
> Message-ID:
> 	<pan.2006. at gimpelevich.san-francisco.ca.us>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8
> Kudos for the best post to this list in some time. 
> One minor point though:
> On Tue, 05 Dec 2006 15:14:59 -0800, Edmund J. Biow wrote:
>> So install 
>> Ubuntu and tell your mom that it is MacOS XII.  If you don't tell her 
>> she is using Linux she might not even recognize the difference, and 
>> hence be a lot less intimidated.
> The rest of your message talks about effects of Linux on Windows users.
> For the above suggestion to be based on the pattern that emerges from
> those effects, he should install Ubuntu and tell her it's Vista. It's not
> like she'd ask how he got Vista to run on a G3 iMac...
Just tell her Boot Camp has been extended because of Operation Iraqi 
Liberation (the original name for "*Operation Iraqi Freedom*" for a few 
hours until they realized what the acronym was).
> ------------------------------
> Message: 3
> Date: Tue, 5 Dec 2006 17:58:12 -0800
> From: Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com>
> Subject: Re: [conspire] Dapper & Easyubuntu
> To: conspire at linuxmafia.com
> Message-ID: <20061206015812.GS14528 at linuxmafia.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
> 2.  If I were to hand it off to Joe/Jane, he or she would whine
>     piteously the moment a Macromedia Flash page failed to load.
>     ("What, no YouTube?")  Or it would be some damned thing or 
>     other: the game du jour, an animated Christmas card, some 
>     AV clip or other.  Or a Visioneer PaperPort scanner, or some 
>     other piece-of-junk proprietary hardware.
Hence the need to provide a distro that has all that evil proprietary 
stuff, at least as an option.  I love a version of Debian put out by the 
government of Extramadura, Spain called gnuLinEx.  It is my favorite 
Spanish language distro and I put it on a lot of machines destined for 
Latin America (like I mentioned, I work with a group that fixed up 
donated machines and sent them  first to Cuba, then after the government 
denied us a new license to ship there, to Bolivia: 
http://www.cubasolidarity.net/infomed.html).  It gives you the option 
right when you install to load the system with Java, Flash, DivX, 
proprietary codecs, libdvdcss, Real Player, etc.  And it is produced by 
a government, so it must be kosher, right?  I mean, governments have 
peoples' best interests at heart almost as much as corporations.


In an aside, unfortunately I have reason to believe that as soon as 
those machines arrived at their destination folks formatted most of the 
drives and installed pirated copies of Windows (various hospitals in 
Cuba. the MINSAL, the Ministry of Health & Sports in Bolivia).  At least 
the Cubanos have an excuse since they can't legally buy Windows licenses.
>> In the last couple of years I've fixed many Windows machines....
> Dude, I hope they paid you a LOT.  Remember, outside the open source
> community, people tend to value things they get at acquisition cost.
> (In the open source community, things acquired, including information,
> most often get value at their estimated _usage_ value.  This is an
> aspect of what you refer to as the "gift economy".)
A lot of the folks I've helped are fellow lefty movement types who 
donate plenty of their time to helping other people, as I see it, when 
they could be making money or shopping.  I tend to charge those folks a 
nominal amount.  The last fellow I helped out was a 91 year old veteran 
of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War.  Half those 
guys died fighting against Franco for democracy, the least I can do is 
help him replace his wife's XT (no crap, dual 5.25" floppies).  Here was 
a weird example of someone who was actually happier with a very simple 
Windowmaker install than Microsoft since she'd never used a mouse 
before, just wanted a simple word processor, and was confused and 
intimidated by her husband's Windows XP. 

Other beneficiaries of my "services" are friends and family.  With them 
I'll work for little or nothing as long as I have a sense of 
reciprocity.  If I feel like I'm doing a disproportionate amount of work 
for a friend I'll demand some compensation, at least a dinner or 

However for friends of friends, acquaintances, etc., sure, I ask to be 
paid.  Sometimes I'm too soft a touch.  Hey, the guys an undocumented 
alien with 3 small kids, I'll cut him a break.  In the end I feel abused 
if I'm not hard nosed enough.  The bastard still owes me $125 and he 
makes $25 an hour as a carpenter (and still took his wife to the 
emergency room for free medical treatment when she got appendicitis). 

But with these folks I don't try to install Linux, though I'll often add 
open source programs like Open Office and Firefox for them to try.  They 
don't take long to install and they are much more resistant to malware, 
so hopefully I'll get less repeat business. 

BTW, there is an unpatched zero day Office exploit in the wild and 
Microsoft is recommending that people not open or save Word files, even 
from trusted sources.

> And the bootlegging of proprietary software is so deeply engrained into
> the MS-Windows and MacOS userbase that, if you decline to participate, 
> and commit copyright violation on their behalf and risk prosecution, 
> there's obviously something wrong with _you_.
Until I got in to Linux I was part of that culture.  I didn't even 
initially choose to be; when I bought my first computer, a i386/33 it 
came with a pirated version of DOS 5.0 from the store.  No discs or 
manual, I was told by my cousin that it must be illegal.  Later I was 
given a "developer's edition" Windows 3.1 and 95 that I doubt I had any 
right to have.  It is not like I read the EULA.  Besides, its not like I 
was taking food off Bill Gates' plate.  Back in those days I would buy 
cheap CDs with hundreds of freeware, shareware or abandonware programs, 
enough to keep fiddling around. I bought those discs in chain stores and 
didn't inquire too earnestly about the license status of much of their 
content.  I learned about TUCOWS and occasionally I downloaded shareware 
that didn't mention that it was crippleware or trialware until I'd 
learned how to use it and wanted it to do something.  At that point I 
felt like I'd been ambushed, baited and switched.  A scary trip to 
Astalavista later I had the correct key to "unlock" the program. 
Actually, there is plenty of completely legal proprietary freeware 
available to download for Windows.  Much of it has limited functionality 
unless you "upgrade" to the professional version. 

   I actually bought a retail version of XP when it came out (it was 
some sort of multiple rebate deal with a bunch of extra hardware and 
software, so I only paid about $30), but the OS got screwed up after a 
couple of years and it refused to install SP2.  Finally, the motherboard 
burst some caps and when I tried to re-install on newer hardware I was 
told that I was only allowed to install on a single machine.  One of 
these days I'll get around to giving them a call and straightening that 
out, but at least I still have the shiny holographic jewel case to admire. 

I think a big turn around was when Netscape was open sourced back in 
1998.  Netscape 4.0x was an inferior browser to IE 5 at that point and 
the first releases of NS6 were buggy and unappealing.  But by the time 
Mozilla was released in 2002 it was the best browser in the world.  Soon 
I found that many of my favorite programs were not merely freeware but 
open source.  And Linux was improving rapidly though I didn't start 
using it the vast majority of the time until a couple of years ago.  
After a while I retired more and more of my proprietary programs and 
tried to find stuff at SourceForge, etc.  Pretty soon I started feeling 
uncomfortable using proprietary programs when GPL alternatives existed, 
even if the proprietary software was somewhat slicker.  After a while I 
didn't even like booting XP on my laptop and figured out how to 
repartition my hard drive and dual boot (though when I was traveling and 
had to rely on winmodem and wireless I reacquainted myself with 
Windows). Oh, and I still have one of those Visioneer PaperPort 
scanners.  When I use it is the only time that machine gets dual booted 
to Win95 (internet disabled). 

And I'm not unique.  I enjoy my rut as much as the next person.  It took 
me months of using Netscape 4 as my default browser to realize that I 
really liked IE 5 much better.  Likewise, it took me a long time of 
occasionally booting Mozilla to finally cotton to the fact that I really 
much preferred it to IE 6.  Tabbed browsing sealed the deal.  I 
gradually started booting Linux more and more before it became my 
default operating system (and now I regret the miserly 5-8 GB partitions 
that I allotted to early Linux installs, but I thought I was just 
playing around, not beginning to experiment with an OS that I would 
overwhelmingly prefer a year later).

Its a process. I'm not quite like FSF-RMS yet.   I still don't think 
twice about installing proprietary codecs and things like Flash that I 
deem necessary.  When gnash and swfdec get a little more mature I'll 
adopt them (though these days even the Adobe Flash 9 players are pretty 
funky).  In the mean time, chunks of useful code like Sun Java are 
moving towards open source. 

>> I'm hoping that once AIGLX & its kin become more mature jiggly windows 
>> may be that extra incentive. 
> You're missing something:  They're stuck in a hole, but it's a familiar
> hole that seems natural.  You're asking them to climb out, and they're
> perceiving that request as your wanting them to do you a favour.
I dunno about that.  The rate of improvement of Linux has been 
astonishing.  Five years ago I found Linux too frustrating to use.  
Simple things like mouse scroll wheels didn't work without hours of 
futzing with obscure text files.  Installing software was a real 
headache before package management programs like YUM, apt-get, URPMI & 
SUSE's zen/rug (well, that one is still a nightmare, but its getting 
better).  Programs were much buggier back then than they are today.  
Hardware support was much more of an issue.  These days I actually feel 
aggrieved when I have to boot to Windows.  What do you mean your file 
manager doesn't have tabs?  Where's my command line when something 
breaks?  What's this funny blue screen with these opaque numbers?

The learning curve with Linux has gotten a lot less steep (though some 
people seem unhappy about that).  Right now I think the user experience 
with a properly set up Linux box is at least as good as with Windows.  
And it just keeps getting better.  The same can not be said about 
Microsoft and its "chasing the tail lights" strategy.  I'd actually 
RATHER use the 6 year old Windows 2000 the latest version of Windows XP 
(though I've learned how to turn off all the annoying XP stuff so that I 
can mimic a W2K experience).  I have a sysadmin friend who blows W2K 
images on his boxen even though he is entitled to install XP.  I don't 
know anyone who doesn't think Win98SE was a better OS than Windows 
MEstake.  Until IE 7.0 was released a couple of months ago, IE hadn't 
improved its interface for about 7-8 years.  

These trends may continue for a few years. 

I think there was a very good business reason that Novell invested so 
heavily in XGL-Compiz.  At some point soon early adopters at internet 
cafes and in schools will routinely show up around the country with 
twirling cubes, zooming to parts of their desktop with their scroll 
wheel while simultaneously making the window on top become transparent 
so they can read the page beneath it, etc.  Soon, all self respecting 
young geeks will only boot tricked out XYZ-GLX Enlightenment desktops in 
public, and the game makers and hardware companies will catch on to 
this, open sourcing high quality video and wireless drivers. In the 
meantime, I expect a LOT more content will become available under a 
Creative Commons type license.  Lossless versions of all the classical 
masters will probably be the first.  Artists who realize that their 
biggest enemy is not pirating but obscurity will change from copyright 
to copyleft.  Some folks will realize that there is enough excellent 
free content available to stay entertained for several life times.  When 
the old model is no longer lucrative, content providers and software 
makers might end up opening up their IP, putting yet more pressure on 
the old paradigm.  Today the geeks, tomorrow the world.   Information 
will finally get what it wants.



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