Wednesday, August 30, 2006

neglecting ubuntu

A colleague of mine ordered a GNU/Linux distribution called Ubuntu and received stickers with the software. He gave me one of those stickers. Unfortunately, the sticker expresses an oversight that will hopefully be fixed on future versions.

A distribution that uses a name of such depth yet neglects its own origin is rather strange. The fact that ubuntu defines a spirit of community actually expressed by the GNU Project makes this oversight seem - at minimum - like a lost opportunity for self-promotion.

For now, a correction by ballpoint pen will have to suffice.

Friday, August 11, 2006

ATI - Enemy of Free Software/Culture or AMD's Great Big Hack?

According to Stephen Shankland at CNET, ATI has responded to Intel's move of releasing their graphics drivers as free software. ATI makes graphics chip sets and driver software to be installed in commoners' computers. The company statement starts out horribly as ATI promotes their archaic and oppressive business model by emphasizing the "value" of proprietary, patented software technology.
"Proprietary, patented optimizations are part of the value we provide to our customers and we have no plans to release these drivers to open source,"
The stinger against free culture comes when ATI claims,
"[...]multimedia elements such as content protection must not, by their very nature, be allowed to go open source."
The above statement is almost too absurd to be believable. With the growth and attention the free software/culture movements have been receiving the last few years, it makes one wonder why ATI would make such a public statement. Such RIAA/MPAA-like rhetoric is only going to alienate the company from conscientious consumers.

Perhaps this is wishful thinking, but AMD is lined up to purchase ATI. The merger is expected by the end of Q4 of this year. AMD has had a strong partnership in the past with IBM and the LinuxBIOS project so AMD is no stranger to freedom. Could it be that AMD/ATI have purposefully set ATI up as a short-term "enemy" of free culture with the intent of having this position gloriously reversed by AMD once the acquisition goes through? If this were the case, AMD would look good and do good in one swoop. Such an act would garner a lot of support from those looking to buy hardware that competes with Intel for freedom at the graphics chipset level. If this is all a part of a visionary plan, it's one great big hack.

I'm no insider though the optimist in me couldn't resist contemplating the above scenario. It might be Intel versus AMD in the race to make the best graphics hardware driven by free software whilst nVidia eats dust or is forced to play in a market of freedom. Let's see what transpires.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

ATI? nVidia? Are you listening?

For the free software world, this is absolutely enormous news from Intel. Freedom for layers closely tied to the kernel is key. This is truly a historical day for the free software community.

In the article, ATI had no comment though nVidia said they "wouldn't change [their] approach as a result of Intel's move."

As a personal and school purchaser of computer hardware, I will then make the change since nVidia won't. Until these hardware manufacturers change their tune, I will begin seeking only to buy hardware with Intel's 965 Express Chipset.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Proprietary Software Envelopment Model

One often hears people compare the supposed "development" model of proprietary software to that of free software. But really, to describe the authoring of proprietary software as a "development" model makes little sense. If development is taking place, it would be sane to assume that the entity that benefits is the whole of humanity. However, proprietary software is licensed and propagated in such a way that only those who agree to be caged get the benefit of such software.

It's more accurate to describe the proprietary software model as a model of envelopment. Those who agree to such terms are allowing themselves to be cut off from society. In effect, such users are blowing up and entering an enclosed antisocial bubble from which to operate within cyberspace.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

watch YouTube in freedom

Unfortunately, to watch videos directly from the YouTube website requires the installation of proprietary software and thus, the forfeiting of freedom. For those who refuse to forfeit the freedom they value, there is an option.

Using the website, one can download the desired YouTube video and save it in .flv format. Simply select "Youtube" from the drop-down menu, paste the YouTube URL into the field, and click "Download". Soon, one should be offered a link to save the video file.

Once downloading has completed, you can play the .flv file locally using either MPlayer or the latest version of VLC (0.8.5). Note that older versions of VLC appear unable to handle this format so make sure you have the latest version installed.

Unfortunately, this process is not as convenient and relies upon the service of a website that may be gone tomorrow. But for now, those who use a free system can participate in this form of online culture using this method. If anyone knows of other ways to access the same material whilst keeping one's freedom, please comment.