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Date:      Mon, 18 Jul 2011 16:58:08 +0200
From:      Polytropon <freebsd@edvax.de>
To:        freebsd-questions@freebsd.org
Subject:   Re: Lennart Poettering: BSD Isn't Relevant Anymore
Message-ID:  <20110718165808.1f7f42b7.freebsd@edvax.de>
In-Reply-To: <20110718095759.476bf349@scorpio>
References:  <20110717071059.25971662@scorpio> <alpine.BSF.2.00.1107170928360.56712@Elmer.dco.penx.com> <CAKYr3zx3C5kwUaZQ82=d8U=uCRusoNHc4qbb0w-8BNB2X2Xu9Q@mail.gmail.com> <CA+tpaK2-t2Y5NN+1XFa8aJbw+bfvEAeP4-iD5_iLthqaohydNw@mail.gmail.com> <CAKYr3zweDWHCT9ir4uqq+jPUZaHZE+NdgUuu_vvbcOy65XDvBA@mail.gmail.com> <CA+tpaK3w7ZTpSJgsqkz+oBwbvm6J6vi4TyFBSqMxB5gDbsH9oA@mail.gmail.com> <4E23F31C.3010803@pathscale.com> <20110718073000.29e89590@scorpio> <20110718134903.993b87f5.freebsd@edvax.de> <20110718095759.476bf349@scorpio>

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On Mon, 18 Jul 2011 09:57:59 -0400, Jerry wrote:
> There are so many fundamental problems with the "standards" concept.
> For starters it limits or prevents basic product improvement or
> development. It the wireless "A" protocol were to have been made a
> standard then improvement on its deficiencies would have taken far
> longer than needed. In all too many cases, the FOSS invents a
> "standard" that locks users into one specific culture. Any obstacle
> placed in front of a developer that impedes his/her attempt to improve
> upon an existing protocol or the creation of a newer one is absolutely
> unacceptable. Then again, standards are irrelevant. There are, after
> all, so many of them to choose from.

Let's see.

There are many different implementations in layers of
abstraction to access specific hardware. An example are
the many different sound systems employed by various
desktop environments. As a developer, you would have to
choose which one to use, as they are traditionally not
compatible.

On the other hand, see accessing standards for SCSI
hardware. Although hardware has improved, you still do
not need specific drivers to access a SCSI hard disk,
as the "da" driver implements this functionality, of
course assuming that the device uses that standard.

Many USB storage devices also use this standard. However,
some of them don't. This limits them in where they can
be used.

FOSS locking users was a new concept to me, I always
thought this would be a privilege of proprietary software
because it has much better chances to force people to use
a given product as there is no concurrent product they
could use. Does the same develop into FOSS now? How
scary... and _how_ does it, when there is the source
available for the "locking mechanism"? Maybe you are
refering to the fact that even if source and documetations
exist, someone would have to do the work, and this would
create costs.

Well-thought standards should _not_ prohibit evolution of
products implementing them, prohibit developers using them,
or making products obsolete by "switching" to something
different.

Just imagine the web wouldn't have HTML as standard. Imagine
there would be no TCP/IP, but many incompatible ISP-specific
protocols, plugs, access programs. It doesn't say that
standards are always the most efficient. In fact, you can
argue that TCP/IP is inferior to X.25, or that rendering
from PostScript is "generally slower" than PCL.



> If you don't own it, then you have no vested interest in it making your
> statement irrelevant. Plus, both here and in an abundant of other posts
> you have stated that product developers after spending X number of
> US dollars, German Marks (DEM), Euros (EUR) or whatever currency
> you like, freely give their work away to the FOSS community.

As a sidenote, the currency Deutsche Mark (DM) has been
removed in favour of the Euro in 1999. Here's also a
WP article for you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deutsche_Mark

Back on topic:

I see the problem in investing resources (time and money,
often hardware, external consulting, maybe even testing)
in developing drivers. Giving that functionality to the
community still happens. This does mean:

a) Developers are doing it for free, for fun, for whatever
   is their motivation to do so. Of course, you can't run
   a business or make a living from that attitude.

b) Developers are paid by a company that is okay with in-
   vesting into the community. After all, this will bring
   more usage share, and therefore maybe even market share
   for their products, enabling it to enter market segments
   that haven't been available before, e. g. "I don't buy
   this printer as it's not compatible with the OS or soft-
   ware I'm using."

There are even "big pieces" of software that find their
way - after investing lots of $$$ - into a free community.
IBM's office suite is one example. Solaris also is. And
still, it doesn't harm IBM in earning the big bucks. And
Sun... well, that sadly is a different topic.

If this wouldn't have happened, we would not have any
free or open source software.

q.e.d.



> That is
> just plain "bullshit" <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullshit>. Only a
> dyed-in-the-wool <http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/dyed-in-the-wool>;
> socialist/fascist would even make such a statement.

You should read the WP articles about socialism and fascism
to rethink that statement, and I really thing only morons
do make such generalized statements. It's simply NO discussion
culture to throw stereotypes onto people you know NOTHING
about. Statements like this give an unpleasant color to the
rest of your message (which doesn't deserve it).



> > Keep in mind that I've also spent money
> > on software, but on one that WORKS.
> 
> {citation needed}
> 
> Besides, why would any moron purchase software that doesn't work?

_YOU_ tell me. :-)

If you can't, ask support people, ask developers and
ask service providers about their daily work. Actually,
people spend lots of money for things that don't work,
or don't work as intended. However this isn't seen as
a problem as this is to be expected for the price paid.
(You get what you pay for.)



> > The more the FreeBSD community depends on having certain
> > hardware working, the more support I see for developers.
> > But as the community seems to be spread across all the
> > many forms of OS use (mostly servers, but also stationary
> > workstations, just a minority seems to be using mobile
> > devices), I'm not sure it will be sufficient. It's not
> > that FreeBSD is a "desktop-only OS" which can invest all
> > its energy in getting commodity hardware working, while
> > leaving quality aside on other fields. Poorly implemented
> > features, broken code, messing around with quirks and
> > short-time solutions do not seem to be very welcome among
> > FreeBSD users.
> 
> You fail to even begin to equate the relationship between support for
> "mobile" as opposed to "conventional" units. You are under the illusion
> that FreeBSD does not fully support "mobile" units because of the lack
> of a substantial user base.

You, Sir, fail to see the meaning of "mobile". Okay, maybe
it's my fault. It's obvious that English is not my native
language, and sometimes I'm just using the wrong terminology.

With "mobile devices" I'd like to refer to anything you can
carry around, like laptops, netbooks, and maybe even smart-
phones. A big problem known for the first two groups of
mobile devices is even "simple" basic stuff, like acting
on closing the lid, or maintaining suspend / resume / hiber-
nate functionality. Why is this? Is this because every device
is different in implementing it, or is it because there is
no developer being interested in implementing well-documented
functionality? (It's a honest question; I really don't know
why this is such a problem, but luckily I don't own such
hardware so I'm not depending on it.)

Multimedia often is the same.

But what I wanted to say: There are two groups of interested
people: The most important group is the users, those who demand
a certain functionality (like specific wireless chipsets
working, support for a specific printer+scanner, support
for a USB multimedia device and so on). Those make up the
user base. The more people are interested in getting something
working, MAYBE the easier it is to get money to pay developers
to do it (if possible). And this is the other group: The
developers. There are many hard working persons who deserve
thank and honour for providing a stable, predictable and
overall GREAT operating system for free. Who am I to keep
crying that my 15$ inkpee printer doesn't work?

Can you imagine that I would _love_ to see _one_ printer
subsystem, provided by the OPERATING SYSTEM, to access
all the various devices with their many functionalities?
But as this doesn't seem to be probable, maybe not even
possible, I believe that I have no chance to make it happen.
This makes me decide on what to buy and what to use according
to the abilities of the software I use - NOT on what
marketing tells me to believe is "good". On the other
hand, I sometimes have a situation where I cannot choose
about the software I use, because there's just "the one"
product that does what I need.

This means: The missing functionality could be implemented
either by manufacturers giving enough specifications so
the FreeBSD developers could implement it "for free", or
the user base demanding such features could fund enough
money to pay developers (or maybe even manufacturers?)
to provide the missing functionality. However, this can
be problematic for the last idea as source code "lacking"
is something that doesn't fit most commercial models,
e. g. you can't sell what you've already given away.



> I beg to differ with that analysis. I
> would use FreeBSD on at least on of my "mobile" units it _IT_ (meaning
> FreeBSD) supported it.

Me too. I would use FreeBSD to utilize _all_ functionality
of, let's say, a netbook.

Sadly, most of such commodity mobile devices have a short
life. At the moment some functionality is implemented, the
device isn't sold anymore. Its successor will have a fully
different way to do things, so there's no compatibility.

But after all, I have to admit that I'm not part of the
mobile user target group, as I'm not primarily interested
in this field of use. But as you suggested, getting into that
market may be very important to keep using an OS.



> For years, pundits have been proclaiming the
> "Year of Linux on Laptops". Obviously that has never truly come to
> pass. How could it, considering how poorly Linux worked on any medium
> to high end unit. FreeBSD, unfortunately, doesn't even reach that
> plateau.

Yes. A situation that I would not disagree with. However,
there are very few niche products that can - often given
some tweaking - be made working. But that's often out of
scopen when "just buying" something.



> While poor implementation of code, etcetera is certainly a concern on
> any OS, the lack of code is a greater concern for many users of modern
> equipment.

Hmmm... that's debatable. Would you - for example as a
system administrator - like to run critical systems on
a well-documented and high quality OS where you have
access to the code in case of trouble, or would you
rely on a vendor-supplied "black box" (in terms of
software) that they claim "will just work", but in fact
surprises you with lots of trouble you can't even diagnose?

The modern equipment of today will be the electronic
garbage of tomorrow. The same is true for data which
will be the binary garbage of tomorrow (see: digital
medieval times).

Here the circle closes: Without STANDARDS, you wouldn't
be able to view the digital pictures you took with a
camera 10 years ago because the manufacturer decided
to use a proprietary image format without any documentation,
as you should only use the software supplied by the
manufacturer. Dropping program version X and advertising
version Y with the new models of the digital camera,
and everything you'll have is a bunch of files nobody
can read anymore. You can also see this in computer
media, although with a lower half-life period.

If you want to get into the future, rely on established,
open and free standards.

In my opinion, there is no alternative. Everything else
would just increase costs (e. g. migration costs). But
there are fields of use where costs simply doesn't matter
(as it seems).



> Any one, and all to may do, prefer to stay with the status
> quo rather than invest in the future. In many businesses, that is
> called "Dinosaur thinking", and we all know what happened to them.

You are _fully_ correct here. Here in Germany, I do
currently observe this thinking in many places, and
it's still _far_ behind many other countries. If you
want to see old-fashioned work, come here and have a
look into "modern offices". It's scary how money is
wasted and how poor security is, let alone efficiency
of work! Those businesses that "don't get it" will be
doomed to disappear from the market. Sadly, we have a
lot of state-funded (means: kept alive by taxpayers!)
economy, so "not enough money" isn't any concern for
them.

However, I said that many users don't feel the urge to
"evolve" in a way that others want them to. Investing in
the future is very important to keep in business and in
operation, but defining future as giving up freedom of
choice, giving up security, individualism, privacy and
independence would be wrong. Relying on "big industry"
to "carry" us into the future, with _them_ defining how
it will be, is also wrong in my opinion.

I hope you're not believing in the "free market" in
general. Business is not about being nice to people.
It's primarily about making money. And therefore, some
uncomfortable thoughts have to be sacrificed to the
goal of growth in unit sales (or whatever).

This is where FreeBSD enters the game: It doesn't care
about unit sales. It doesn't define its goals depending
on market share in relation to others, or in catering
specific target groups in customers. I agree with you
that this implies certain disadvantages, like not being
able to access "short term functionalities". On the
other hand, FreeBSD can run hardware and software that
no other OS can address, and there _are_ cases in which
this is highly welcome.

I want to see FreeBSD being existing and usable in the
future. Sadly, I'm just a lame user who cannot help to
improve the system by contributing to code or documen-
tation. I applaud those who can - and DO, and I really
appreciate what they've done. I may even say that most
of the FreeBSD users feel the same. There is ___no___
ingratitude in this statement, even if it contains with
mentioning that something isn't (yet) working.



-- 
Polytropon
Magdeburg, Germany
Happy FreeBSD user since 4.0
Andra moi ennepe, Mousa, ...



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