[sf-lug] DRM (was: Consumer & admin)

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Wed May 17 18:24:47 PDT 2006

Quoting Adrien Lamothe (alamozzz at yahoo.com):

> Linux does has excellent potential for the mass consumer market; Mac
> OS X is the proof of concept. But because Linux and the associated
> facilities are developed mostly by volunteers who all have a say in
> the architecture of their work, Linux will take longer to bring to the
> general public as a slick, easy to use operating system.

Beware of moving yardsticks.  It's very common for Linux deployment
efforts to get sandbagged by a few people sneaking in requirements that 
had never been mentioned when the project was green-lighted.  It then
becomes a game of:

"Oh, didn't we mention?  Linux also needs to...

o  do colour-separation prepress work for our ads deparatment
o  run all the Sales VP's nephew's Windows/DirectX FPS games
o  connect to the five proprietary IM systems the executive staff use
   (gosh, we're not sure what those are, but we'll get back to you)
o  run QuickBooks
o  work perfectly with Department Foo's Exchange Server
o  read _and write_ PowerPoint presentations with no rendering glitches
o  play QuickTime Sorensen movies
o  play the latest DRMed Microsoft AVIs
o  connect to the [MSIE-only] SharePoint collaboration server
o  run the secretary's VBA-macro-dependent Excel templates (the ones
   that virus-infected the firms, last month)
o  read Microsoft-encrypted files on NTFS-formatted Zip disks
o  work with the CEO's just-released digital camera
o  support all the cruddy wifi chipsets we deployed last month
o  not ever give rise to any Web site warnings that "Your browser [foo]
   for Linux is not supported"
o  manage our FrontPage site using the same insecure protocols
o  run Palm Desktop (we like Palm Desktop!)
o  autorecognise the proprietary sound chip on the spanking-new laptop 
   model the Marketing VP hopes to buy next month
o  play Hollywood-encrypted movie DVDs
o  read and write our Word files that have annotations from the EndNote
   proprietary plug-in (oh, didn't we mention EndNote?  Silly us.)
o  run iTunes, including versions not yet released
o  support the winmodem that the bookkeeper uses to connect from home
o  edit and make PDF files

Oh, and you can do all that stuff without increasing any of the costs or
taking longer for deployment, or requiring additional software, right?

_Wall Street Journal_ had a reporter get into a situation a bit like
that, recently.  See link and comments here:  http://lwn.net/Articles/183905/

> Regardling DRM, that issue is not going to go away, regardless of
> operating system. 

Indeed.  (I very much like FSF's expansion of that acronym:  They call it
"Digital _Restrictions_ Management".  Why should we participate in other
people's propagandistic naming schemes?)

Here's a really eye-opening page about Apple's progressive cutback in iTunes's
capabilities over time, at the behest of the copyright barons:

My own policy is:  No DRM.  Period.  The Sony rootkit fiasco is
sufficient reason why.

And I figured out what Sarah's comment concerned.  I'd said:

  Why don't you just try your luck with one or two of the desktop
  distributions, and see for yourself?  It's much more meaningful and
  useful than prolonged tire-kicking via mailing list threads.

Sarah didn't like that a lot.  But I meant it kindly:  I wasn't trying
to tell her or anyone else not to post tire-kicking quesitons.  I was 
just trying to point out that it's often a lot simpler and easier to 
boot a Linux distro and check for yourself.  

As a reminder:  CABAL keeps around an _immense_ number of distros that
are available for you to duplicate during our twice-monthly
meetings/installfests in Menlo Park.  Please do take advantage:

(I also have Fedora Core 5 for i386 and x86_64, but need to finally hook
up my DVD drive before I can burn copies.)

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