[nSLUG] Slightly OT: icons and how we sometimes feel

George N. White III gnwiii at gmail.com
Sun Apr 15 14:52:07 ADT 2007

On 4/14/07, D G Teed <donald.teed at gmail.com> wrote:

> Thanks for those comments.  The one about being
> a threat because we demonstrate there is no need for the
> newest hardware and software, could be also characterized
> by saying Linux/Open Source demonstrates there is no
> requirement for proprietary software.  I would say Open Source,
> and IETF standards have been part of a force to push companies
> away from proprietary formats and methods, which used to
> be the gold mine maker in the software industry.

A century ago monopolies made a very few very rich, resulting in anti-trust
laws in the US.

> Recently the proprietary stuff has been moving into
> hardware drivers: first soft modems, then popular brand
> 3D graphics cards, and wireless devices, and printers
> which only accept raster bitmap dump from Windows driver
> (e.g. HP JetReady printers).  One reason this has happened is
> to save on hardware costs by offloading tasks to drivers, but
> it makes the vendors afraid of losing their Intellectual Property.

There are also regulatory barriers.  Current wireless devices are often highly
flexible, with frequencies and power output controlled in software.  In the US,
at least, FCC regs. say the user shouldn't be able to choose settings outside
the regulated limits.  Vendors can argue that, by using closed source drivers,
they have blocked end user access to the programmable features.

> Only the major computer brands like Dell, HP, IBM, etc
> could put a stop to this, by requiring Linux drivers as
> part of the hardware component deliverable.  The day
> that happens, Linux on the desktop will become a full success.

If IBM did that, then Dell and HP would be able to use the same drivers, so
there is no competitive gain.  The last thing a computer vendor wants is head
to head competition where price is the only difference customers see.

Linux has the advantage that is that it is not a big deal to move from linux on
x86 to linux on some other platform.  A really large company (or China) that
already has significant groups running desktop linux could replace linux
PC's with an entirely new architecture.   This would need to have a new
PSC -- personal supercomputer --  architecture that solves cooling and
multitasking problems with current high-end PC's, and they would need to
sell the hardware to 3rd parties.  Open source would help leverage
global resources to ensure that linux apps are ported, while financial payoffs
would come initially from reduced purchases of conventional PC's and the large
systems that can be replaced by desktop PSC's, and eventually from licensing
hardware designs to other manufacturers.

George N. White III <aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca>
Head of St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia


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