12.19.07

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Quick Mention: How Does Dell Deliver GNU/Linux?

Posted in Dell, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Hardware, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, SLES/SLED, Ubuntu at 1:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Conservative software world and Big Media to meet Free software

Dell’s decision to ship GNU/Linux desktops was a wonderful thing. There is no doubt about it. Dell’s decision is commendable.

When Dell joined the Microsoft/Novell deal — whatever that means — questions arose. It was a bit of a mystery and it wasn’t obvious what it actually involved. All we have are lots of clues, the subsequent distribution of SUSE Linux in China, other theories, and various other pieces of information that we continue to gather as time goes by (more here). The information piles up, but there’s no clear conclusion. Everything is vague.

The latest news is that Dell will add out-of-the-box DVD playback support to its Ubuntu GNU/Linux PCs.

It has long been possible to play DVDs on Linux. However, with most Linux distributions, it is necessary to manually enable this functionality. That is because while the user may legally own both the DVD he or she is trying to play and the computer it’s being played on, in the United States, enabling open-source-based operating systems to play commercial DVDs, with their wide variety of DRM (digital rights management) schemes, is something of a legal swamp. There are legal ways around this, and presumably Dell has invested in one of them.

What is meant here by “invested”? Was there just a legal barrier, a financial barrier, or something else? After Dell’s engagement in the Novell/Microsoft deal, might we gradually see software patent tax added blindly? On the desktop, interoperability is unlikely to be a factor.

Dell never spoke about the financial relationship it has with Canonical, so it’s hard to know what money flows in whose direction. There is no transparency at all although we’ve already seen anti-competitive elements in Dell's contracts with Microsoft.

Last but not least — a reminder about mythical patents. Remember that GNU/Linux is software. There cannot be patent infringement in it (with the exception of a few countries), unless it’s combined or embedded in some device. Even DMCA laws are hard to find around the world.

No Patents in Linux

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11 Comments

  1. Jeff Waugh said,

    December 19, 2007 at 2:17 am

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    If you were capable of informed analysis and research, you’d find that they were using LinDVD, a fully licensed proprietary DVD player, and that there are no patent encumbrances related to licensed decryption of DVD content (playing the actual MPEG content certainly has encumbrances, but those are completely unrelated to Microsoft).

    Again, we see more negativity and misguided conspiracy theories from this site… surprise, surprise. I wonder what kind of correction and/or retraction we’ll see!

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 19, 2007 at 2:29 am

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    Was a statement made? No. I asked questions and I am glad there were answered thanks to your good knowledge. It remains to be seen what exactly is involved when it comes to Dell’s affair with Microsoft and Novell. More importantly — why?

  3. rfrdt45 said,

    December 19, 2007 at 4:14 am

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    The “I only ask questions” excuse is very shallow. You ask leading questions, you have the very clear aim to conjure up certain conspiracy theories as an answer to these ‘questions’. That is so very low; like the whole of your blow is very, very low.

  4. rfrdt45 said,

    December 19, 2007 at 4:15 am

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    The “I only ask questions” excuse is very shallow. You ask leading questions, you have the very clear aim to conjure up certain conspiracy theories as an answer to these ‘questions’. That is so very low; like the whole of your blog is very, very low-level slander.

  5. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 19, 2007 at 5:39 am

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    Again, as I’ve said above, I really appreciate Dell’s efforts and I’m among those who pressured them hard to take the plunge. As the banner above indicates clearly, the concern here is to do with software patents, not DVD playback (that’s just where I asked some honest leading questions). The worry many of us have is that proprietary, commercial (as in not free), DRM-laden, and/or patent-encumbered software will turn a consumer’s GNU/Linux into something it is not. I know that Dell is, in some sense, “Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place” here. It can’t please everyone.

  6. Jeff Waugh said,

    December 19, 2007 at 5:46 am

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    You’ve used an inaccurate reading of the inclusion of DVD support as the jumping off point for a ridiculous, unproductive insinuation for which you have absolutely no evidence or supporting information whatsoever. I’ll point out that we’ve seen this behaviour before. Right now, the only way to ship legal DVD support is to ship proprietary, licensed software. There is nothing sinister about that, nor is it in any way related to Microsoft. Get your facts straight and your paranoia seen to, Roy.

  7. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 19, 2007 at 7:33 am

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    Jeff,

    It has been very obvious what you’re trying to do here all along. You’re hoping that by nitpicking amongst a lot of material which I post at a high pace you’ll be able to find your share of ‘proofs’ that you’ll then show people whenever they point out something which was posted in this site. You seek to discredit.

    For similar reasons, people (possibly shills) pollute sites like Slashdot with links to gross photo, insults, homophobia, and other mindless stuff that turns away CIOs and other MBAs, basically robbing the site from its reputation just because the content is uncomfortable for some corporations to accept.

  8. rfrdt45 said,

    December 19, 2007 at 7:48 am

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    ‘Nitpicking’?!?!? Roy, you just write things that are not true! That’s a bit more than minor inaccuracies, which would fit the term ‘nitpicking’.

    How about if you stop “posting at a high pace”, as you so nicely put it, and RESEARCH BEFORE YOU WRITE? As it is now, it doesn’t need any effort to discredit your site, you do that all by yourself. ‘Everyday a Loch Ness Monster, and if I can’t find one, I produce one’, seems to be your motto.

  9. Jeff Waugh said,

    December 19, 2007 at 8:19 am

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    I point out when you’re writing dumb stuff, Roy. Take some responsibility for it instead of being such a tool.

  10. Ian said,

    December 19, 2007 at 11:46 am

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    While I don’t exactly support your ultimate stance of boycotting Novell for the reasons you state(or infer as it normally seems), I would say that your goals might be better served if instead of posting the questions which you use to drive various fictional scenarios, you take Jeff’s advice from previous posts and actually try to get those questions answered by people involved. Then you will be in a better position to back your claims….er….inferences.

  11. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 19, 2007 at 2:39 pm

    Gravatar

    rfrdt45,

    Being a Web site that isn’t the press, one has to consider the fact that research is often limited. I don’t state facts when they are not and the type of discussion that addressed the questions (not false claims) is only to be expected.

    Ian,

    Thanks for the advice, which I will take. At least it wasn’t phrased rudely (that’s you, Jeff).

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