[conspire] No more GNU HP Minis

Ruben Safir ruben at mrbrklyn.com
Thu Nov 5 14:01:59 PST 2009

Rick Moen wrote:
> Quoting Ruben Safir (ruben at mrbrklyn.com):
>> I want computers with GNU/Linux preloaded everywhere.... 
> Which effectively means you want Broadcom and Nvidia crap chipsets, 
> and people obliged to throw away their computers and replace them,
> because they cannot reinstall the OS.  Sorry, I've seen your preferred
> future, and it sucks.

Pardon me, Rick, but you have never seen what I would expect, at least 
not since the mid-1980's.  I want to see working computers sold with 
GNU/Linux, full blown, not the stupid SLED, sold on every computer and I 
don't care about the chip sets, and outside of a handful of Unix 
engineers, neither does anyone else.

>> You don't REALLY believe that  people will purchase computers without
>> operating systems?
> Why _without_ operating systems?  I see no reason the manufacturer or
> retailer might not throw a couple into the box with the computer.  

That is without an operating system and people are NEVER going to 
purchase computers that require anything more than for them to be turned 
on and putting in their time zone and user name.  You can wish for that 
all you want, and that will never ever happen, and it would not be a 
good thing even for experienced geeks.  And I can point to people who 
are huge system engineers who were big GNU users who stopped using Linux 
based systems because because getting Hardware to work is a PIA.

Billy Donahue, from Bloomberg comes to mind.

> Actually, what would be really cool would be if a pervasive standard for
> ordinary people plugging in storage media from the outside of the box
> were to catch on.  That would make modular no-installation-required 
> Linux more feasible, as with Clay Claiborne's old "Linux in a box"
> product he used to sell (a Linux distro on a hard drive), except easier.

No, the opposite would be better.   What I want to see is  a revolution 
in Hardware, such as custom made touch screen, and voice activated 
system, wireless systems that integrate with appliances all over the 
house and office , and which can control thousands of devices with GNU 
systems preinstalled  and GPLed hardware drivers that can be easily 
ported into a choice of OS distros incase you wish to change things, 
through the nearly universal Linux and Mach Kernel with on click as root 
and to leave all that engineering headache for those better able to work 
on such problems.
> Anyway, one more-reasonable setup would involve the customer just
> wheeling his/her new purchase over to a kiosk, plug in the machine and
> its network cable, boot it up, and select which OS to network-load.
> (This could certainly include proprietary OSes.)

Which is what?  The same as a preloaded system accept with an extra step?

>> Rick - Nothing is more important than having an OS on the computer you  
>> buy from Walmart...
> Repetition doesn't do much for your assertion -- though I've seen you
> wear some folks down with it.  ;->

There is nothing to wear out with this.  Factually people will not buy 
computers without an operating system on them.  I don't want to buy a 
computer without an operating system on it.  And until I had to wipe 
this HP Mini clean, I hadn't done so in a very long time.  I want to buy 
an computer with an operating system of my CHOICE on it.  I want to buy 
from a company that stands behind the OS.  And I'll give Dell credit on 
this.  When I purchased a Red Hat Server years and years ago, we had a 
card for tech support from LinuxCare (Andrew Tides? company) and they 
ssh'ed into the box and loaded up fresh drivers in 20 minutes - and 
poof, I was able to get to work.  It was the single best feat of tech 
support I ever saw, and I was appreciative of being able to make my 
development deadlines that week.

>> But that has nothing to do with  what it will take to get the majority
>> of the public to switch to GNU.   And that is my goal. 
> Well, for whatever it's worth, I actually don't _share_ your goal.  Not
> a bit of it. 

Correct, and that is where the rubber hits the road.  And it is a big 
problem in many sectors of the Free Software community.

> It doesn't make me one cent richer or poorer when J. Random User chooses
> one OS over another, and my preferred OSes have healthy communities, so 
> other people can live off the canned Spam of software if they want, and
> leave the confit de canard for me.

But it doesn't work like that.  Free Software is not in a walled 
community.  What happens outside of the community affects it deeply.  
Low adoption rates mean less work, more proprietary information formats, 
worse hardware, more DRM, fewer participants on a technical, literary, 
artistic, medical, scientific, poetic, musical, theatrical, and research 
level, and produces ARTIFICIAL POVERTY, stifling progress, human 
development, and the enrichment of even your life on multiple levels.

The reason why software should be free is not because of technological 
reasons, but because it is the leading revolutionary communications  
force on the planet and is reshaping humanities essential political, 
technological and social context.  A tool this powerful must be FREE, or 
it will enslave us...hence it is called SLAVEWARE.

>> I don't want the GNU OS's to be an exclusive  status symbol for the a  
>> certain class of people.
> And it isn't.  Joining our community is dirt-simple, and we've the most
> comprehensive set of information and welcoming, active presence on the
> Internet of any software community that's ever existed.

No, it is not dirt simple.  It has a high bar with a lot of studying, 
time and energy.  And for most people it is not fun either.  I'll let 
you know when it is no longer an elitist thing when I go into 
Bedford-Stuyvesant for work and find 2000 semi-educated children of 
former junkies using GNU systems to live their daily lives.

> Try to pull the elitism card, and I'll just laugh and point.
>> Couldn't disagree more.
> And you're welcome to your view.  I sure don't want it.

But you straddle two sides of the fence on this.   On one hand you are 
one of the most powerful educators and spokesmen for GNU systems, 
performing daily important work in education, community involvement, and 
support in so many ways that I don't want to embarrass you in public 
listing all the groups and efforts that you have silently, and not so 
silently maintained over the years. leading installfests and political 
action work for the willing for decades...

but your writing off the public as too lazy and undeserving if they are 
not willing to  buy computers, and correct me if I misunderstand here, 
without prepackaged OSs out of the box and individuals who are unwilling 
to tackle the daunting task of learning the details of installations, 
something that my classes would teach over 7 weeks.

Yeah, I disagree, and I believe your hanging out on a thin twig on 
this.  I think it would be a better thing if someone with a connection 
to HP, which is right in your neck of the woods, ask HP to make 
available again HP Mini's with GNU OSs.

>> BTW - I'd like to make a trip out there in the near future.  Could  
>> anyone put up with me for a few days?
> I'm sorry to report that our place is too jammed at the moment, but
> maybe someone will offer.

Thanks for the thought.


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