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Linux Wars 42: Attack Of The Clowns

By on Jun 15, 2007 in Stop The Press, Tech Takes | 5 comments

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Linux leaders plot counterattack on Microsoft – Yahoo! News

This is INSANE!!! Plot a counterattack at Microsucks in the light of current deals of the likes of Novell, Xandros and Linspire? That’s totally crazy. In all probability, both camps have enough fodder for lawsuits, but then, MS has deeper pockets and the OSS community better stay hidden under a towel. People like Eric Raymond are there on the Linspire board, and I’m damn sure they’re keeping an eye on it.

These are crucial times for Linux. At last it is gaining some popularity, and ease of use. With this, comes the ability to be far more ordinary-user friendly than ever before. And yet, can we take risks by not making pacts with Microsucks to provide interoperability? How long can we expect users not to expect voice chat in Pidgin? After all, not everyone is a Skype or Gizmo user.

OSS doesn’t need to be very protective, by using GPLv3 to block out such attempts. Take the example of Mozilla Firefox – a good example of how OSS can be easy to use, and support all major standards, and in fact, work better at complying with W3C standards than IE.

Why can’t just Linux community leaders do that!


  1. Prashanth

    June 15, 2007

    Post a Reply

    The Linux community is filled with OSS fanatics. They don’t want their software to be diluted with proprietary standards which they are actually against.
    Accepting to MS’s pact and going in for interoperability simply means that they are starting to accept defeat in popularizing their OSS standards and now want the more popular proprietary standards to be on their distros so that atleast someone would use it…

    That is simply what it is…
    It is also a fact that Proprietary .wmv (WMP10) HD format is NOT more widely used than the Open Source H.264 format… (which got adoption from the HDDVD and Blu-ray guys)

    BUt still they want support to that. Why? They want to get legal and are afraid of the possible law suits that MS can charge on them? Thats a risk all the major OSS players are playing, be it Red hat or Canonical, which Linspire and Novell are getting away with.

    Nice move MS, take out all small players, isolate one big guy and BAM! Sue him! Divide-and-Rule game eh?
    So, the attitude shown by Linspire guys is like-“If you can’t beat them, join them!”
    They failed to promote OSS standards, which are better than the ones by MS in many ways which even you know (Only referring to WMP audio/video format). Linspire guys aren’t only compromising on the quality of standard support, but also accepting defeat by sticking to OSS rules. The aim of OSS wasn’t to get merged with the closed source world, but was to overthrow it and become widely used.
    Once again, they are popularising a closed standard called MSN Messenger. Look at Jabber, in that protocol, almost any client can have text, voice and data communication. Although it is not there in Pidgin, other clients like Tapioca deploy voice and data transfer legally. Now, proprietary MSN features enter the OSS world, and not only do they further dilute it, but also, encourage MSN to stay closed.
    Remember the ATi/AMD wala case. Due to un-widespread adoption from the OSS world, they opened up their drivers. Had they been ready to sell their software with Closed drivers for Linux, they would have never OSS-ed it. Same is the case with MSN Messenger. They are getting nothing but encouragement to stay the way they are..!!

    Interoperability is just a bonus, more to MS than the users..!!

  2. GQ

    June 16, 2007

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    @Pras: I want you to specifically answer this first – don’t you think MP3 is more popular than Ogg Vorbis, and therefore should be supported by default? That’s the POINT of OSS – give the user choice to have MP3, or Ogg. When you do that, more people may want to try out. When you don’t, people just get irritated and leave.

    Lemme point out a few things first. WMV 9 is open source (partly), which is why it can be decoded on Linux. Earlier versions of WMV weren’t. WMV 10 isn’t. Yes, right now H.264 is used more, but only because you’re counting in iPod figures. Without those, the field is still open.

    And once again, H.264 isn’t open source – it’s patented and you NEED to pay royalties in some countries to use it, in others where it isn’t patented there it is under LGPL.

    They’ll NEVER be able to sue Linux really. Although they talk about patent protection for their MS partners, don’t forget that Debian will still be there. A study after the SCO issue said MS also might infringe on Linux, we have fodder to countersue.

  3. GQ

    June 16, 2007

    Post a Reply

    @Pras: Wanted to break a long comment into two. So I was saying. OSS is all about choice. Linspire doesn’t say ‘Don’t use OSS’, it supports each and every OSS format which you’ll need, but it also provides support for proprietary. That’s what I’m saying OSS should do. Do note that nVidia is now close sourcing the driver department now.

    And once again, Jabber’s protocol doesn’t support voice – it’s an individual add-on that Google, Tapioca and Gizmo put on. Correct me if I’m wrong. These clients don’t have interoperability in voice, extra features like this and file transfer are done by the company itself. Check Google Talk, choose ‘About’, and you’ll see a copyright notice for the voice feature. And of course, voice transfer in that is legal.

    What the Linspire agreement says is, yes, Pidgin will be default, BUT, it will add the capability to interact in voice with Windows Live Messenger and NetMeeting – a feature many in the corporate segment will want.

    In the end, I ALSO say that we must be cautious, because a greater market share for Windows Live Search isn’t the only thing they’re looking for, but we really shouldn’t have that ‘Only OSS allowed attitude’.

  4. Prashanth

    June 17, 2007

    Post a Reply

    Allow me to correct you int his small thing about Jabber. Jabber supports voice and data transfer by itself. Google uses it to build the VoIP feature on GTalk…
    Technically, Jabber is capable of transmitting anything that can be broken into bits and bytes…
    The corporates use Jabber networks to communicate within their vast intra-net… They even do video conferences, voice chats and transfer bulks of huge data accross it…
    (Its a different thing that Google hasnt put in all its features and even placed limitations for who-knows-what reason…)

    Coming back to our discussion- Windows Live Messaging and Netmeeting are supported by various third party applications. Why does it need to be in by default? You don’t need to get legal support from MS for all this. Why do these small companies stay in fear from MS lawsuits? Many operating systems and then the software ship with these reverse engineered hacks…

    The Linux world is trying to replace Windows as the only one around… not join it and become a dog of MS which occasionally gets a bite from the meat-stash.

    And then, I guess WMV9 is a reverse engineered encoder in linux. It isnt even Open Source and MS has complete control over it… basically its a proprietary standard. Correct me if I am wrong… On linux, WMV is accessed using a modified version of the FFmpeg codec.

    You are looking forward to kill all the proprietary formats and make the software world an open market that trades nothing but intellect. Not become one of those MS-like companies.
    You have to create new standards, set new goals, not adopt the winning standard. Linspire got the OSS battle all wrong..!!

  5. GQ

    June 17, 2007

    Post a Reply

    @Pras: Nopes. Jabber doesn’t allow voice and data on its own, but since it’s open, anyone can add to it. Which is why you don’t have a voice chat option between GTalk and Pidgin / Gaim – because Google built in that extension.

    Of course companies need to fear lawsuits. Take this for example. Recently, Dell and other computer manufacturers got sued by the owners of MP3 format because it allowed users to encode MP3 without paying royalty. Microsoft agreed to the PC makers’ demand to replace itself as the defendant and lost the case. It now has to pay billions of dollars in damages. Billions. Linux doesn’t HAVE that sort of cash. Which is why no major player will ship codecs or reverse engineered things without any legal agreement.

    As for WMV9, it is open in the sense that it’s standards and specs are open, and anyone can use them. Which is what FFmpeg does. However, MS won’t incorporate any changes made by others, which is why I said ‘partly open source’. WMV versions before 9, and the latest 10 aren’t even open in that sense.

    As for creating new standards, that’s EXACTLY the problem. Each and every bloody company can come with its own standard, which defeats the purpose of a ‘standard’.

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