04.19.22

Debian GNU/Linux Means Free as in Freedom, But the Firmware Question Remains Relevant

Posted in Debian, FSF, GNU/Linux at 5:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum 5e82bffd47b795619dd5179e5fe11371
The Firmware Trap
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: Debian GNU/Linux has about 1,000 developers and volunteers, but that’s not going to be enough when Linux-hostile hardware companies are slinging proprietary firmware; Debian recognises that this puts off some potential new users

THE work done by the Debian Developers is amazing. I use two Debian machines (Debian 10 and Debian 11) and so does my wife (also Debian 10 and Debian 11). The operating system is robust, predictable, and is rightly labeled “stable”.

Realtek: Utter piece of junk. Avoid!!!!Installing Debian was never very easy. That’s why many people turned to Ubuntu (that’s not the sole reason; other aspects are ‘freebies’ like ShipIt and marketing campaigns online). Remember the old joke about Ubuntu being a word that means “can’t install Debian”.

I’ve dealt with Debian-like installers since I was a student (the first installer of Ubuntu was just like it; I used that installer in Ubuntu 4.10). I can cope with them OK and so can my wife, but we’re relatively technical. Compared to what I saw in KDE neon and in LMDE last month, Debian’s ‘traditional’ (non-GUI) installer isn’t easy. It’s a lot more versatile, sure, but there are further barriers.

“The problem I encountered was solely due to the hardware maker, not Debian.”About 24 days ago I bought a low-end machine, thinking it would work like a champ with Devuan (I’d rather not use systemd). Latest Devuan didn’t work with my network card, Debian 11 didn’t work with it, and LMDE (yes, also Debian based) didn’t work after I had tried many different things. I spent quite a few hours on all this before turning to KDE neon, which wasn’t my first choice.

The problem I encountered was solely due to the hardware maker, not Debian. Avoid Realtek!!! Be sure to check your machine has noting “Realtek” in it. There are many forum posts online blasting that company for its really awful drivers. Many — like myself — had to spend a lot of time because of this. Even with firmware files it was difficult to get it working until very recent months. And even then one had to use a very “modern” (recent) release, or shoehorn things into the kernel.

“I neither support nor object to what McIntyre suggests.”Debian understands the frustration caused by these things. It wants to do something about it, which is perfectly understandable. Things have changed and the FSF may have too.

Debian Developer Steve McIntyre is aware of such issues, which he is hoping to tackle even if that means FSF won’t be too happy. There are many comments in LWN and in Phoronix about this subject. It’s a passionate debate/subject as people have had many different experiences over the past decade, and partly because Wi-Fi becomes more widespread in more countries. So we can expect the issue to become more pressing.

I neither support nor object to what McIntyre suggests. In the video above I merely try to present the situation as it is.

04.15.22

Audio: Richard Stallman’s Talk, ”The State of the Free Software Movement“

Posted in Audio/Video, FSF at 7:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Credit: MediaGoblin at FSF

License: CC BY-ND 4.0

Techrights Plans for Easter and Beyond (Plus Updates About the FSF and the EPO)

Posted in Europe, FSF at 6:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum 0ecf020575e1cb2760bc9eac6bfeab0b
Settling In
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: We’re still in transition between desktop operating systems and maybe soon server operating systems as well; but in the meantime there’s something important to be said about the FSF and the EPO

A COUPLE of days ago Richard Stallman identified a number of areas of importance or urgency for Free software (“The state of the free software movement”). As far as we’re aware, there’s no official copy of his talk yet. After the first minute or two he moved to audio-only mode by turning off the camera, probably due to bandwidth constraints.

Stallman covered a number of important topics. Those impact human rights and civil rights. The technical difficulties aside (seems to be a connection issue rather than the fault of Free software), the talk left the main FSF channel infested with IRC trolls. “Libera chat netsplited” [sic] according to bnchs, so “most of the channels are now 0-20 users” and “they have forced registration because of the trolls from yesterday’s RMS talk…”

At the moment we’re mostly organising for the post-Easter Friday period and I’ve just finished 3 nights (1-9AM) at work, so after the quietest week in years (least number of posts) we’re hoping to get our previous pace back.

“This coming weekend we plan to do a lot of coverage regarding the EPO and regarding patents in general.”yesterday we published 2 videos urging EPO workers to participate in the staff survey, noting that the deadline is today. Well, that deadline has just been extended. To quote: “Due to the still exceptional working conditions of numerous colleagues throughout the organization and in order to give everyone the time to read the questionnaire under the best possible conditions, the deadline for submission has been extended. You can fill in the questionnaire and/or modify your answers until 22 April 2022. We are well aware that you may have more urgent priorities at the moment. However, we ask that you take the time to complete the survey before the extended deadline, if you have not already done so. Your participation is important to get a good idea of the level of psychosocial risk in the Office. This is more important than ever.”

This coming weekend we plan to do a lot of coverage regarding the EPO and regarding patents in general. I’ve been teaching myself OBS Studio (see video at the top) for a couple of days. While it’s improbable I’ll do any livestreams (it’s doable, but lacks any practical advantage), this can make the videos a lot better. Sound quality is still highly deficient.

SUEPO on psychosocial risk
“Your participation is important to get a good idea of the level of psychosocial risk in the Office. This is more important than ever.”

04.13.22

Video of Richard Stallman’s Belated LibrePlanet 2022 Talk (With Commentary)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF at 5:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum f800b82b813194239002b8833d12bee1
The First RMS 2022 Talk, With Commentary
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: A couple of hours ago the talk/speech of Richard Stallman had ended (the Q&A sessions as well) and we uploaded a video that contains the whole talk (sans the Q&A) with IRC commentary

Richard Stallman’s livestream was mentioned here an hour ahead of time and I’ve decided to record a video in which we can all comment on his talk and show the reactions in IRC, initially in #techrights and then in #fsf too (different networks, different channels). As many people had expected upfront, #fsf was soon infested with Internet trolls, which sort of distracted from on-topic participants.

The resultant video, which is very raw, is presented above. I intentionally toggled off noise cancellation, having tested (a priori) what would happen if voices overlapped. In this case, the outcome is a bit better. As noise cancellation works OK only if one person speaks….

Due to technical issues (probably bandwidth constraints, not software limitations), Dr. Stallman turned off the camera after a little while. He took questions through BigBlueButton (BBB) and possibly used Mumble for secure communication (we use that too; it works very well). The designated text chat, a discussion over IRC, was unfortunately trolled rather badly. If you zoom in when watching the video above (or set the video to full-screen mode), you can see pertinent examples of that. Maybe such abuse was simply inevitable.

04.04.22

FSF Award Winner Paul Eggert on Time Zone Database (TZDB)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF, GNU/Linux at 4:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: This talk was uploaded almost a week ago. “Paul is a senior lecturer in the UCLA Computer Science Dept., teaching mostly in the areas of software development and programming languages. He has contributed to several free software projects, including Autoconf, Automake, Bison, GCC, the GNU C Library, GNU Coreutils, GNU Diff, GNU Emacs, GNU Grep, GNU M4, GNU Patch, GNU Tar, Gnulib, Gzip, and RCS. He has worked on the Time Zone Database since 1992, and currently serves as the Internet Engineering Steering Group’s Primary Coordinator for TZDB.”

Licence: GFDL 1.3

04.02.22

Being Nice to Each Other and Avoidance of Miscommunication

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF, FUD at 7:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum ea7277896833eadfd8d9d4e05519edf6
GNU Kind Communications Guidelines
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: Being kind to people who deserve kindness is an important attribute/skill; sadly, sociopathic corporations and the tactless people they put in charge of projects/communities (to better suit and serve sociopathic corporations) mostly ruin projects; Richard Stallman was right to reject Codes of Conduct when he went ahead with GNU Kind Communications Guidelines instead

THE concept of “free speech” is changing. Right now, for example, racism is “hip” and “woke” if it’s directed towards or used to discriminate against every Russian. The whole concept of “hate speech” has become subjective and arbitrary, ripe for distortion by those equipped with laws and admin interfaces. If moderators are obedient, docile employees of corporations looking to control “dinobabies” “100% of the time” (to use the words censorious IBM uses), we end up with stagnant/dying projects like Fedora, or even CentOS whose management resigned almost entirely after what IBM had done in 2020. In Debian too we've been seeing similar patterns. Sometimes it feels like a covert objective is to put off volunteers, especially charismatic leaders who know how to say “no” to corporate power.

“Torvalds knows a thing or two about Microsoft crime, but he cannot speak about it anymore. It’s considered risky.”Linus Torvalds was not punished for writing poor-quality code or poorly planning a kernel release; instead, they nailed him to a cross for writing a bunch of E-mails which were seen as “rude” or “hurtful” (usually because he rejected bad quality of code or sinister agenda like putting Microsoft inside his kernel). Torvalds knows a thing or two about Microsoft crime, but he cannot speak about it anymore. It’s considered risky. As associate recalls that “there was once a very well-written article which explained quite thoughfully wny it is important that Linus must write e-mails so clearly and express assessments of the code so unambigously. People are not code. Code is not people.”

“The confusion which is intentionally cultivated by M$ and other opponents to Linux and, especially, the GPL is to mix up discussion of code with other things. Torvalds berates code, not people. Even then, it happens only in specific circumstances.”

The above video concerns Paul Fernhout’s talk, but it goes further by covering the potential to be misunderstood, especially when it comes to non-verbal channels of communication. Some years ago we closed comments (except for old timers who have had an account for many years already) and instead we use IRC. Social control media became a hate trap, so Techrights never embraced it and I personally quit all of it a month ago. Being a participant in such sites isn’t just unhealthy; it is also a growing risk.

Where E-Mail, IRC and USENET (Even Social Control Media) Fail at Communications

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF at 5:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: This 5-minute talk, which covers “information overload”, “algorithms that may stoke outrage” and a few more things is Paul Fernhout’s take on tools that are inherently immoral or problematic; we need less, not more, and better, according to Fernhout. He certainly touches some important points. He suggests an FSF free/libre communication standard. Richard Stallman has historically had subtle communication problems with people (there’s this talk in Portuguese with English translation, certainly not by Richard Stallman) and GNU Kind Communications Guidelines were formulated by him. I will speak about my personal views separately.

Licence: All rights reserved

04.01.22

Sacha Chua on What’s New in Emacs

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF at 9:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: This talk was uploaded as a separate video file just eight hours ago

Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0

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