[nycbug-talk] OpenBSD and blobs

Marc Spitzer mspitzer at gmail.com
Thu Dec 14 19:21:00 EST 2006

On 12/14/06, Miles Nordin <carton at ivy.net> wrote:
> >>>>> "ms" == Marc Spitzer <mspitzer at gmail.com> writes:
>     ms> If some one wants to provide a different alternitive, open
>     ms> source driver for example, fine but t it is not on the table
>     ms> yet is it?
> Yeah the ``if someone wants to put something on the table I'll
> reconsider'' is I think a key motivating strategy from the Linux camp.
> The users have this sense of entitlement, which I suspect comes from
> the Linux zealots trying to convince people to switch from Windows:
> installing on their relatives' and friends' machines and such, who
> then say ``but you claimed it was better,'' and now that they have
> some shadow of a choice instantly turn into arrogant
> customer-is-always-right consumers haggling with the sales guy like
> good little capitalists.  The people asked to use/fund Linux get to
> feel good about themselves.  The back-pressure the friends and
> relatives exert while it might not be effective on BSD developers, it
> _does_ work well on many Linux developers.  And obviously Linux is
> doing pretty well.  I think it's partly because this type of advocacy
> worked and not purely for other reasons.

As an end user it is a perfectly reasonable statement to say if your
product meets my needs I will considder using it.  and the followon
point of go away until you meet my needs also applies.

> BSD since its beginnings has competed for developers instead of users.
> so my first impulse as a BSD guy hearing someone say, ``well if you
> guys aren't going to put anything else on the table for me, I'll just
> go use Linux'' is, (0) Cool, no problem, (1) That guy's annoying, and
> (2) ``Both myself and the linux people have been clear about what
> software freedom means, so rather than repeating myself on those
> points I'll leave you to choose whatever short- or long-term strategy
> you like, confident that you need justify your choice to no one but
> yourself.''  The Linux advocate at this point would probably instead
> start arguing with you, painting portraits of future dystopias,
> villifying corporations, launching ad-hominem attacks.

BSD competes for developers, good point.  It competes with linux
mostly, and from what I have seen of the numbers/industry it is not in
the leadership role.  Weather it is a better product or not is largly
besides the point, as is the fact that I like bsd better, as both are
good enough for most tasks they are used for.

> The BSD style of advocacy feels a hell of a lot more neighborly,
> clear-headed, and rhetorically honest to me.  But I think it's also
> been a failure.  For example, Jeff Quast substantially expanded on (2)
> above by linking to an OpenBSD paper, which I found really interesting
> here:
>  http://www.openbsd.org/papers/opencon06-docs/mgp00024.html
> and here:
>  http://www.openbsd.org/papers/opencon06-docs/mgp00022.html
> but I don't think Mark Spitzer's rebuttal acknowledged the arguments
> in the paper at all.  The paper's out there, is reasonable, even IMHO

Since I doid not read the papers that would be correct.  All I was
commenting on is how I as end user I want my wirless card to simply
work.  And that in that respect I am largly indifferent to religious
arguments, I want wireless to work, need a blob ok need windows (say
shit 3 times) ok.

> compelling, but it's just not effective at capturing attention or
> ensuring our platform's future.  OTOH I'm sure if like 20 people on
> this list all ganged up on Mark like rowdy children and said ``MARC U
> R A big st2pidh3ad'' he would respond somehow---eventually it could
> get so nasty he would have to either leave or comply.  It sucks, but I
> think the Linux advocacy approach has a far superior track record, yet
> obviously I'm still not willing to adopt it.

That does not happen here because the G-man will boot you if you
become too much of an asshole.

> Secondly the Linux way of approaching hardware has been to make as
> many drivers as possible: the end goal is to ``convert'' machines, so
> it has to support everything.  No one keeps a list of preferred Good
> drivers vs. mediocre drivers and steers people toward hardware with
> Good drivers---instead it's ``how many pieces of this laptop I just
> bought have some kind of driver attached to them.''  Instead the goal's
> is to run on Dell's motherboard-of-the-week.  They basically set out
> to pander to Mark's position, to the best of their ability.

what pander?  they are going after the desktop market as a means of
building support for their product.  Much like MS did and it does seem
to work.

> BSD, again since its beginnings with BSD/OS, was never interested in
> supporting everything.  Instead the BSDI's position was, ``If you want
> to run BSD/OS, buy hardware off this short menu of well-supported
> things.  Please don't try to use other devices because they'll work
> poorly or not at all.''  Now, in the present, Theo is saying, ``try to
> buy the Taiwanese chips like Realtek gigabit and Ralink
> wireless---they'll work the best because they give us documentation.''
> very much in the BSD tradition.

But geting the laptop my uncle gave me for crispins day wifi up is my
only concern.

> This second tradition is also failing us because, as the paper Jeff
> cited points out, modern laptops and even servers are so integrated by
> their OEM's that it's no longer possible to choose hardware.  We have
> to resort to buying eBay laptops just to get stuff that mostly-works.
> We fill up cardbus slots and have to pack wads of silly USB dongles
> and cables to duplicate built-in laptop hardware for which we don't
> have drivers.  We use underpowered overpriced boards like Soekris just
> because the hardware doesn't burry us with major revisions from one
> chip stepping to the next.

you are right that does suck.

> I really doubt we can survive in this environment too much longer.

Time will tell, but odder things have happened.


Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better.
Albert Camus

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