[conspire] No more GNU HP Minis

Ruben Safir ruben at mrbrklyn.com
Thu Nov 12 21:39:24 PST 2009


Rick Moen wrote:
> Quoting Ruben Safir (ruben at mrbrklyn.com):
>
>   
>> 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.
>>     
>
> Not surprisingly, you've chosen to ignore what I said -- quoting it and
> then writing a non-sequitur paragraph under it.  Here once again is what
> you chose to ignore:
>
>   > 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.
>
> That's what you say you want leads to.  Ignore that fact if you want,
> but it's a fact.
>
> Leaving that basic, crucial fact aside for a moment, however, there is
> _also_ the fact that you have absolutely no plan of action that
> intersects with consensual reality in the first place.  Consider the way
> the usual conversation with you on the subject plays out:
>
> 1.  You come barging into here complaining about $OEM, and how (I
> paraphrase slightly) it's necessary to the survival of the free world
> for $OEM and various of that company's peers to resume shipping Linux
> preloads.
>
> 2.  Somebody like me or Don Marti, assuming you must somehow not know,
> or have forgotten, about the realities of the current co-op
> marketing-dominated OEM marketplace, takes time to describe for you the
> forces that influence OEM preload behaviour, plus the little industry
> negotiating game between Microsoft and various OEMs in which Linux
> preloads tend to get used as tactical ploys.  This _should_, if you're
> paying attention, make the point to you that rhetoric about advocacy is
> a waste of your time and others'.
>
> 3.  But no.  You ignore all of that and go on to _even more dumb_
> appeals, such as the infamously ineffective, time-wasting, and
> undignified "Hey, let's _ask_ $OEM that they resume Linux preloads" idea:
>
>   > 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.
>
> Whisky.  Tango.  Foxtrot?   _Ask_ them?  Like, "Hey, HP, I'm Joe Linux
> User, who used to work in your [blah blah] lab.  Could you please see
> your way clear to resuming shipping Linux on your HP Minis?"  "Uh, sure,
> we'll get right on that."
>
> Hey, Ruben:  They're a company, that does what it thinks is making money
> under a variety of forces including market conditions, deals with
> retailers, deals with Microsoft Corporation, competitive moves,
> marketing campaigns, and possibly the CFO's horoscope.  A request from
> "someone with a connection to HP" is going to be as much of a
> non-starter as those stupid online petitions that morons occasionally
> put together and send to Nvidia and Broadcom.
>
>
>   
>> 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 still aren't getting that, even if true, I really don't give a damn.
> I've already told you why.  Again, you are choosing to ignore it.  (At
> one point, you actually presume to argue with my reason, a point I'll
> get to.)  Sorry, Ruben, when I said I really don't give a damn, I really
> did mean I really don't give a damn.  (Specifically, what I said was "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.")
>
>   
>> 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.
>>     
>
> Bollocks.  What you mean, I would wager, is "...because getting
> _incompetently selected_ hardware to work is a PIA."  Or you mean people
> attempting something really boneheaded like expecting the
> last-_before_-current release of OpenSUSE to work without problems on a
> netbook released within the past year.
>
> You cannot bullshit me about Linux distro support for hardware.  I've
> done it for a living.
>
>
>   
>> 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.
>>     
>
> You might as well wish for a pony, too, because your OEM-preload
> scenario _doesn't lead_ to GPL-supportable hardware.  It leads to
> proprietary, crappy hardware -- Nvidia, Broadcom, and friends.
>
>   
>>> 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?
>>     
>
> What, are you suddenly dim?  If it's a commodity distro on a _retailer_-
> provided kiosk, then they can't hide dependency on hardware that
> requires buggy, brittle proprietary drivers, in ways that become
> apparent only when the owner attempts to reload the OS or upgrade the
> kernel.  
>
> Get it?  Are you grasping the main point, now?
>
>
> [Lots more about what you "want", snipped]
>
> As I said, wish for a pony, too.
>
>   
>> 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.
>>     
>
> See, that's a model that can and should work -- and you don't seem to
> have noticed that it's part of one I've _already talked about_, that of
> independent hardware certification.  (Don't give much credit to Art
> Tyde.  It was probably my friend Duncan Mackinnon, or one of the good
> technical support staff we then had at Linuxcare, who gave you competent
> help for a change.)
>
> The reason they were _able_ to give you that help was almost certainly
> that Duncan already had put that Dell model through Linuxcare Labs
> hardware certification, and so was able to know in advance that it had
> no problematic winmodem, no spanking-new, unsupportable graphics chipset
> from Nividia, or anything like that.
>
> See, if you'd bothered to _listen_ to me the first time, this could have
> been a shorter and more meaningful conversation with less wasted time
> going over the same ground.
>
>
>   
>>> 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.
>>     
>
> Listen up:  I don't work for you, Ruben.  You don't get to tell me what
> my goals are, and I have no time for dumbass ideological causes.
> Believe it.  I get to decide for myself what a "big problem" is, and
> what's worth my time and effort.  You do not.
>
>
>   
>>> 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.
>>     
>
> What a bunch of intellectually insulting crap.  Trying to hike up
> "adoption rate" hasn't ever done diddly-squat for free software.  All of
> the real gains have been brought by _coders_ attempting to solve their
> own, their employers, and their friends' problems with open code -- and
> that had absolutely nothing at all to do with whether only a few million
> people benefit, or a hundred million.
>
> Somehow drum up a few million other people as users, and all you would
> do is bedevil the coders and documentation people, the people doing
> actual useful work, with troublesome support demands and useless, badly
> written bug reports that waste their time.  
>
> That isn't just my prediction; you can observe the effect yourself,
> today.  All you need to do look up whatever is the big, talked-about bug
> report in https://bugs.launchpad.net/ on any day of the year.  
>
> This day, for example, it's
> https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/glibc/+bug/417757 .  Here, you
> have the spectacle of _eighty_ people babbling about problems resulting
> from v. 9.10 Karmic Koala's inconveniently thorough and functional
> support for IPV6 interacting with DNS forwarders and recursive servers
> that don't support that extension.  And something like 75 of those 80 
> comments are completely pointless or badly informed, at best irrelevant
> and at worst gumming up the trouble-handling process.
>
> That is what high "adoption rate" does.
>
> So, don't give me that crap about how I need to bust my butt working for
> higher "adoption rates".  I don't, it doesn't benefit me, and it tends 
> (at least, done the way you seem to intend) to do active harm to what I
> _do_ care about.
>
> And my mother didn't raise any idiot sons, nor any with much liking for
> ideology.
>
>
>   
>>> 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. 
>>     
>
> Oh, bullshit.  Unless you're stupid enough to do something like attempt
> OpenSUSE 11.1 on a recent-model netbook, you just put the disc in the
> slot, boot the machine, and hit the spacebar repeatedly with your
> forehead to accept all the defaults.
>
> And what I actually _said_ was (emphasis added) that -=joining=- our
> community is dirt-simple, that we've the most comprehensive set of
> information and welcoming, active presence on the Internet of any
> software community that's ever existed.  I didn't say that all
> conceivable tasks are easy.  Computers are amazingly complex, because
> they are truly general-purpose devices, much more so than pretty much
> any other device.  Therefore, OSes that give access to wide ranges of
> their capabilities are necessarily both complex themselves and avenues
> to reach and deal with extremely complex problems at other levels
> (hardware, applications, systems).  
>
> I'm pretty sure you already knew al that, and knew perfectly well the
> difference between -=joining=- our community (what I actually spoke of, 
> and is dirt-simple) and an aribrarily large set of complex problems that
> people then might end up dealing with.
>
> So, again, you basically ignored what I said and went for a meaningless
> ideological sound-bite.  This is an extremely annoying habit of yours.
> You should fix 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
>>     
>
> Yes, you sure as hell misunderstood.  And I have to wonder if it isn't
> willful.  
>
> First and foremost is your bullshit about "undeserving".  Right on cue,
> you've decided to inject moral posturing into the discussion, where it
> was not present.  Worse, you've projected it onto _me_.  Frankly, how
> dare you, man?
>
>   

Frankly, it is a fools errand to try to detach moral issues from 
technology.  It can't be done, no matter how much anyone would want it 
to be done.  Technology shapes the way people and society thinks and the 
access to. control of, and the use of technology is THE CORE political 
and moral question, strangely enough, even predating digital machines, 
and continues on in ever more pressing ways all the way to today.

In fact, through the course of this conversation, I haven't personalized 
this at all.  But I will dare challenge the misconception that Free 
Software is "just" a technological issue and its wide adoption not of a 
vital import to all aspects of a health future civilization, weather you 
perceive it that way or not.

It is not a surprise to me that major Free Software people are often the 
biggest  obstacle  broad adoption of Free Digital systems.  It is common 
placed from RMS, Linus, Perens, Raymond, Theo, Christiansen, Guido, Nat 
Friedman, Miguel de Icaza/, /Bradley, Wendy Seltzer, Moglin, Lester et 
al to Joe Sophmore from Berkly University who just got off his first 
installfest last week.  No of which has to do with what I was originally 
posting about or how you responded.

As have many people on this list, I've had contacts, shared lectures, 
spoke to, taught with, lectured, with a broad range of opinions, people, 
experiences, and have invested a good part of my life working at 
teaching, helping and working through Free Software people and events, 
often to see them break down to petty bickering, such as when the Gnome 
Foundation people walked out of RMS's speech, to seeing Eric Raymond try 
to slug someone at FAO Schwartz at an IBM sponsored party.  I don't  SEE 
why this conversation has had to become so personal and so terse over 
NOTHING.

Do you think I didn't see Revolutionary OS and listen to your 
interviews?  Do you think I haven't read both you and Don Marti's 
writings for nearly a decade, to have read dozens of mailing lists?  Do 
you think that this simple, insignificant thread should be a reason for 
me to throw out 5 plus years of friendship between you, Rick, and I, 
because you feel strongly about aspects of my request?  You know, 
everybody has a bad day.   Hell, I've had a year so bad that it would 
make your testicles twist. 

What I've learned over the years is in the Free Software community you 
have many strong opinions, and people with a variety of leadership 
skills or political skills.  I try to be helpful and filling the aims I 
deem essential, because I'm not in this for the technology...and in that 
regard, it seems to make me somewhat unique.

I don't like it when my kids bring home text books on analytical 
geometry and algebra where they spend half the course explaining how to 
use slaveware rather than explaining the damn math.  I don't like it 
when NYU Dental School ditched 3 years of work digitalizing thirty years 
of its basic research and resources to turn over a quick and dirty buck 
by making all their students buy DRM infested courseware and textbooks 
that turned itself off at the end of the semester.

I don't like the evolution of computers systems over my lifetime and the 
impact on the public, as systems have increasingly restricted access to 
programming tools and have actively and convincingly convinced the 
public that they are too stupid to do the fundamental programming that 
can be mastered, and SHOULD be mastered by any 12 year old.

There is NO category 1,2,3 of people...there are just PEOPLE.  And 
people are a product of their genetics, and their environment.  We now 
have a generation of people who believe that the most productive thing 
they can ever do with their computer is to twitter their moment by 
moments wants and needs, and to download a video of their favorite 
lunchtime antics to facebook.  And THIS has come to define computer 
literacy in the 21st century.  And people in and outside of the 
community have the cart and the horse backwards.  The reason people 
aren't doing constructive work with their computers is because they 
don't develop a health relationship with their computers.  They don't 
develop a health relationship because the systems that are being 
commercially thrusted on the public are designed to make them dependent, 
not independent.
The schools REFUSE to teach real computer sciences.  There are levels of 
bureaucracy designed specifically to prevent these essential modern 
subjects from being adequately taught.  So I view ANY activity which 
helps to end this deadlock, and to reverse this debilitating trend as 
something I try to actively support,  which in fact includes any 
breakthroughs in critical corporate support for  consumer grade free 
software systems, preinstalled, whether the hardware sucks or not.


 > I made no moral judgement on who was or was not "deserving". Do you
> remember what I _did_ say?  Here, let me quote it yet again:
>
>   Yes, I'm aware that the public are in general a bunch of shiftless dolts
>   who use whatever OS, however terrible, is preloaded, and lack the
>   initiative to do any sort of actual operating system installation.  But
>   I don't have to join the madness -- and modern Linux distros with good
>   installers and live CDs make the process painless and risk-free,
>   eliminating all the usual excuses.  So, I have no sympathy for people
>   who demand preloads (let alone particular preloads).  _That's_ the first
>   problem they need to fix, the one in their heads.
>
>   

I read this.  And I DISAGREE.  If you chose to end our friendship over 
it, so be it.  I still DISAGREE.  There is nothing that is going to stop 
changes in hardware, both innovative and bad, in the market place.  I 
really don't give a shit weather a modem or a winmoden is installed in a 
laptop.  What I do care about is that the software that drives this 
hardware is not FREE.  The only hardware that is truly BAD is  hardware 
that can't do what it is designed to do.  But this is yet ANOTHER 
discussion.  But that discussion itself is just one more facet of the 
drive to create software that enslaves the public.   God forbid that 
someone should be able to write an alternative video driver, or a driver 
for a winmodem, or a largely non compliant wifi chipset.  That would 
allow you to put a FREE SOFTWARE system on the device and then you can't 
guarantee everyone will use the E*Reader on the Q Train in the morning.  
And frankly, I believe that the logic that it is easier to get 
manufacturers to comply with hardware standards is even a harder path to 
hoe then getting them to release stuff with Free Software drivers. 

Additionally,  I will not be dissuaded from my computer choices by 
previous failures, or even patterns of failure in the adoption of Free 
Software.  I believe that the broad adoption of Free Software, for all 
the reasons I listed, and because of the great and long lessons of 
history, is essential for the development of a healthy free society.  
I'm sorry.  Some people worry about Global Warming, but I worry about 
having the bulk of Human Intellectual creativity, the nearly 10,000 
years of it,  and it's output shackled to a world of DRM infested 
slaveware digital system.

I think this is more important than Gay Rights, Nuclear Proliferation, 
Abotion, The Healthcare debate, Global Warming, Organic Milk, or just 
about any other political and social issue that mankind faces today.  If 
that is a nonsequestor  issue, so be it.  That is how I feel.  That is 
why I use Free Software, and that is why I have taught my kids to use 
Free Software, and that is why I want HP to continue to make preloaded 
MINI's with SuSE/Umbuntu or their own crackpot version of free software.

> That is a _fact_.  It doesn't call anyone "undeserving".  As to my
> willingness to bust my butt helping anyone, it doesn't make any sense
> talking about someone being "deserving" or not unless I owed an
> obligation.  As mentioned previously, I don't work for you, and I'm not
> working for the computing public at large, either.  

Your not on my payroll.  So don't sweat it.  If you don't want to make 
the inquiry next time your at a meeting on the HP campus, then by all 
means...DON'T.  I was asking for a favor.  A simple "no" would be good 
enough.  Even a "No with explanation that you believe it wouldn't be 
productive" would be good enough.


> Neither you nor they
> have offered me a working wage for such work, nor have I accepted.
>
>   

When I have a position for you, I'll call you.  But you should know that 
if you accept my cheque that it will involve not just a source code 
delivery, but work that I'd hope would be broadly in the public interest.

I'm just stupid that way.

> Remember that point:  Until I've accepted your salary cheque, my time,
> the sweat of my brow, and my expertise are my own to bestow or not as I
> please.  Nobody "deserves" it.  The rapidly dwindling hours of my life
> are mine.
>
>
>   
>> But you straddle two sides of the fence on this. 
>>     
>
> It's called "nuance".  You could try it, some day.
>
>   

What is the point of saying this?  Are you my ex-wife?  I don't find it 
a nuance.  I find it as I explained it.  In no way do I ever want to 
discourage you from ever making the contributions you do for all of us.  
Whether you realize it or not, your contributions reach far and wide, 
and work is for the public good.  And they positively affect thousands 
if not millions of other people, people you have never met, people who 
you might never meet, and people who will never know how the 
contributions of "Rick Moen" have positively altered the fabric of their 
existence, or who might never know your name.  But my friend, Rick Moen, 
has been a truly stunningly positive force in our social fabric, the 
worldwide community of humanity...and even if you never talk to me 
again, I will still feel this way..and sorry Rick but there isn't a damn 
thing you can say, no flame you can make, no sharp tonged or snarly 
remark you can make which will change my mind.
 
> If you'd bothered to listen to me, any of the countless occasions I've
> addressed the topic, 

Ummm - I do have six kids, I'm a Pharmacist on my day job,  and I do NOT 
follow you around like a puppy dog...just saying.

> you'd understand _why_ I've worked tirelessly for
> decades to further, to support, and to pay back for past help the
> (actual, real) open source community.  God knows I've explained the
> point often enough, and it has nada, rein du tout, less than bupkes to
> do with increasing "adoption rates".  
>
> I know that, among other places, I've referred you at least a few times
> to the inteview Sam Varghese conducted of me in 2001.  I'm guessing
> that, sadly, you never bothered to read it on any of those occasions.
> So, I guess I'll just need to quote from it:
>
>    Q: How many people have you converted to Linux? Take the case of any
>    one individual you've converted to Linux. Let's have a rundown of the
>    process.
>
>    A: This is my golden opportunity to embarrass my friend Bill Schoolcraft,
>    so I'm going to run with it. Bill was a professional industrial welder
>    with no particular computer expertise, when he noticed Linux gatherings
>    and started attending them to see what it was about. I was one of the
>    old-timers he learned from, and I successfully badgered him to take
>    extensive notes. I think it was when I kept using the metaphor of
>    software as tools, and stressing the difference good tools and mastery
>    of them can make, that he really "got" the point of the Unix way of
>    thinking. Now, six years later, he's a senior Linux and (Sun
>    Microsystems) Solaris administrator, and earns a good living at it.
>
>    But I don't seek to "convert" people in the sense of trying to interest
>    those who prefer something else. Why would I? (More about that, below).
>
>
>    Q: Do you think you could achieve more if your advocacy was a little less
>    strident?
>
>    A: I'm reminded of a story about the 19th century US public speaker and
>    political figure Robert G. Ingersoll, who was wildly popular with the
>    public but inspired influential "establishment" detractors by being
>    publicly non-religious: Some reporters came to visit, and asked him
>    about the rumours that his son had gotten drunk during a wild party and
>    fell unconscious under the table. Ingersoll paused for effect, then
>    started: "Well, first of all, he didn't fall under the table. And he
>    wasn't actually unconscious. For that matter, he didn't fall. And there
>    wasn't any party, and he didn't have anything to drink.... And, by the
>    way, I don't have a son."
>
>    So it's not what I'd call strident, and I don't do advocacy. At least,
>    not in the usual sense of the term.
>
>    The usual sort of OS advocacy is what the "Team OS/2" crowd used to do:
>    They knew that their favourite software would live or die by the level
>    of corporate acceptance and release/maintenance of proprietary
>    shrink-wrapped OS/2 applications. They lobbied, they lost, IBM lost
>    interest, and now their favourite OS is effectively dead.
>
>    But Linux is fundamentally different because it and all key applications
>    are open source: the programmer community that maintains it is
>    self-supporting, and would keep it advancing and and healthy regardless
>    of whether the business world and general public uses it with wild
>    abandon, only a little, or not at all. Because of its open-source
>    licence terms, its raw source code is permanently available. Linux
>    cannot be "withdrawn from the market" at the whim of some company - as
>    is slowly happening to OS/2. (Ed: IBM finally