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Jon 'maddog' Hall On the Future of Free Software (Video)

Roblimo posted about 5 months ago | from the tomorrow-is-just-a-future-yesterday dept.

Linux 47

You know who maddog is, right? He's one of our favorite speakers on what we might call the Linux/FOSS circuit. So you know, despite the Noel Coward song that says, "Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun," Jon prefers shade much of the time when he's in a tropical climate, based on personal observations at Linux conferences in Florida and Hawaii. But sun or shade, maddog is an eloquent and interesting speaker. We'd like to take you all to hear him in person, but we can't, so this video is the next best thing. (Alternate Video Link)

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Ironic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46942733)

Cheaper Hardware / Expensive software argument is odd. When I got to these linuxfests, Mac-book Pros are by far the most common. Kind of hypocritical there. Apple does not represent anything free and open.

Re:Ironic (2)

OzPeter (195038) | about 5 months ago | (#46942817)

Cheaper Hardware / Expensive software argument is odd. When I got to these linuxfests, Mac-book Pros are by far the most common. Kind of hypocritical there. Apple does not represent anything free and open.

Nothing changes, I went to one in the late '90s and it was VAIOs all over the place.

Re:Ironic (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 5 months ago | (#46942855)

>Apple does not represent anything free and open.

Any more. My apple ][ comes with the schematics and ROM listing.

Re:Ironic (3, Informative)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46942901)

The Apple II ROM wasn't free to reproduce. And the fixed address entry points in its ABI made a cleanroom compatible workalike nearly impossible to make, as all subroutines had to be no longer than the version in ROM. Compare this to KERNAL of C64, BIOS of the IBM PC, and even Apple's later ProDOS, which used proper syscall numbers.

Re:Ironic (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 5 months ago | (#46943193)

Not that I'm defending Apple's inflexibility, but why would fixed entry points limit the size of the subroutines? Let each entry point have a single instruction "JMP start_of_actual_subroutine". The previous instruction can then be "JMP current_instruction_address + 2" in order to skip over the redirection, and all the surrounding ROM can be used however you see fit.

Re:Ironic (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 5 months ago | (#46943591)

Not that I'm defending Apple's inflexibility, but why would fixed entry points limit the size of the subroutines? Let each entry point have a single instruction "JMP start_of_actual_subroutine". The previous instruction can then be "JMP current_instruction_address + 2" in order to skip over the redirection, and all the surrounding ROM can be used however you see fit.

That was done. I think the Beagle Bros did exactly that with their improved images.

Re:Ironic (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46944467)

Three things would have interfered with a strategy of JMPing over other routines' entry points:
  • A JMP in the middle of a loop costs cycles, and things like cassette ADC polling have to be cycle-accurate.
  • The added parts have to fit in the existing address space, which is $D000-$F7FF for Applesoft BASIC and $F800-$FFFF for the monitor. The total size of the ROM cannot exceed 12,288 bytes without needing to introduce bank switching and registers therefor.
  • Programs often used undocumented entry points, jumping into the middle of a subroutine and expecting it to work.

Re:Ironic (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 5 months ago | (#46945081)

Quite so on timing, though with far more primitive caching (if any), jump instructions were not necessarily significantly more expensive than any other. Then again it's been a long time since I programmed a 6808, I can't say that I remember the instruction timings, aside from the usual "multiplication sucks, and division is a yawning oubliette". Cassettes may not be the best example though - I remember my mother jerry-rigging a standard cassette drive to act as a C64 tape drive, and that without understanding more than the most rudimentary aspects of basic electronics or programming. Then again maybe the C64 was exceptionally fault-tolerant in that respect.

Space limits certainly apply, but presuming a clone couldn't get the same functionality in the same basic limits is pretty presumptuous - though individual subroutines may be longer or shorter than the original.

The undocumented entry points though... yeah, those would be a killer. Then again they'd tend to choke on any official update as well, making for *extremely* platform specific programs - good luck getting it to run on next year's (or last years) revision of the Apple. Such is the penance you must pay for using undocumented features.

Re:Ironic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46942959)

Does your current macbook pro do the same?

Apple of that era had to complete with all the other computers out there that did that. Plus on top of that could you build an apple clone using that information and not have Apple sue the bejesus out of you?

Re:Ironic (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 5 months ago | (#46943625)

Do you enjoy building strawmen to attack?

Apple were very open with their products back then. They didn't conform to any notion of free software though. The claim was they represent nothing free and open. I pointed out that they used to be open. I made no claims about the freedom of their software.

Re:Ironic (1)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 5 months ago | (#46943301)

Apple does not represent anything free and open.

Hush, you fool! If an Apple Genius overhears you saying that, or anything else that questions Father Steve, you'll get excommunicated for life! FOR LIFE!!

Re:Ironic (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 5 months ago | (#46943443)

Apple does not represent anything free and open.

Hush, you fool! If an Apple Genius overhears you saying that, or anything else that questions Father Steve, you'll get excommunicated for life! FOR LIFE!!

I dont know it think Steve Wozniak would agree with the sentiment however L Ron Hubbar^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H Steve Jobs would not.

Jesus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46942793)

The audio on this video is awful. Please get a better mic or encoder... they're not that expensive.

Re: Jesus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46942895)

It's the compression.

Re:Jesus (1)

Roblimo (357) | about 5 months ago | (#46942897)

Yes, terrible audio. I cleaned it up as well as I could. There was some sort of broad-band static in those rooms. Not a single freq like a 60 Hz hum. Grr....

Re:Jesus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46943015)

You have the interviewer on the right channel and the interviewee on the left channel. Never do that, ever. Either mix the channels into a single mono channel in post-production or set the encoder to mono. Also, you can buy a cheap tripod at Wal-Mart for under a 100 bucks. A wise investment.

Re:Jesus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46943393)

Would you be willing to distribute the original?

Re:Jesus (1)

Roblimo (357) | about 5 months ago | (#46945123)

Ask Tim Lord. He shot it. And where does he send it? To anonymous@coward.ly?

Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46942807)

Interesting... I agree with the above poster who laments the fact that at every FOSS/Libre conference, there are an abundance of those closed source HW/SW capitalist MacBooks floating around. Not exactly a good thing. MacBooks to me = hipsters. Although real work can be done on one, they are not for the UNIX/Linux purist. Debian, thank you. I don't want my operating system living at the largesse of a for-profit company.

Like Jon, I'm an avid indoorsman and enjoy the shade. Hell, I'd rather have overcast or drizzle that anything else, especially in the summer months.

Re:Interesting (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 5 months ago | (#46942845)

MacBooks are definitely hipster accessories, as proven by their idiotic flat-key keyboards. Any serious user would not have such a keyboard on their laptop.

Re:Interesting (1)

Roblimo (357) | about 5 months ago | (#46943003)

MacBooks: I have an old MacBook Pro I keep around for Mac software testing. I typically carry an Acer sub-notebook, dual-booting Linux and Windows, when I leave my home office. BUT now I'm getting accustomed to carrying a 7" Asus MemoPad tablet and this nice Bluetooth keyboard [androidguys.com] . I also have iRig directional and hand-held mics, and a clamp-on wide angle lens, so my tablet is a total "reporting machine." At some point I want to get a 9" or 10" tablet with a 12MP (or so) camera. Then I'll *really* be in business.

Oh - the iRig mics. They're set up so you can plug in your 'phones or buds while recording and monitor your sound. I wish *everybody* did that. Don't you?

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46943691)

No true scotsman. I much prefer chiclet keyboards. I hate the loud clicks of mechanical keyboards.

Re:Interesting (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 5 months ago | (#46942877)

Well the MacBooks have the style, so you look good. However Apple hardware often means you get a good Laptop without much extra research.

 

Re:Interesting (1)

retchdog (1319261) | about 5 months ago | (#46942929)

What extra research? The only other real alternative to consider is an X-series Thinkpad. A Macbook with an old school Thinkpad keyboard would be pretty much ideal, but since that's not an option, it's just a matter of what you prefer more. For me, the Macbook touchpad and general lack of issues with OS X seals it. The nipple mouse is nice, but for extended use it gets really annoying, and the multitouch gestures are really convenient.

Re:Interesting (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 5 months ago | (#46957433)

Well there are other laptops out there. But if you want good brands you either have to go with a Macbook or Thinkpad.
The think pads design is Classic, You can have one for years and it will still look like the new models for the most part.
However if you get a Macbook, every generation will look newer and your old model will show.

Re:Interesting (1)

retchdog (1319261) | about 5 months ago | (#46961949)

Yeah, Thinkpads are still black rectangular prisms with hinged screens. Apart from that, they've changed a lot design- and aesthetics-wise, and almost exclusively for the worse, while keeping their drawbacks (e.g. dim unevenly-lit screens).

I just checked: you can't even get a Thinkpad with the original keyboard anymore.

I rescind my earlier comment. Thinkpad is dead; thanks, Lenovo. If you want a decently-designed laptop, there is unfortunately no alternative to the MacBook Pro. I wish that someone would compete in this segment, so that I could stop giving my money to those sons of bitches at Apple.

Re:Interesting (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 5 months ago | (#46965759)

While the original keyboard is gone, the new think pads keyboard is just as good. I have swapped from one to the other without noticing. Unless you actually type on the key bevel?
I put my hand on the home row and then look at the screen, I don't even realize that I am typing on a Chiclets keyboard.

Re:Interesting (1)

Roblimo (357) | about 5 months ago | (#46942907)

Actually, Jon likes being outdoors (as do I). He just doesn't get stupid about it to the point where he turns red.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46943307)

Roblimo,

I'm logged in as AC, but I remember you from ~2002 or so when we all met up at a cafe after hearing Vint Cerf speak at NOVALUG. You and I talked about this and that. I remember Tim and all the FOSS guys were there. It was funny, as almost all of us worked for UUNET back then. I was a UNIX engineer in the network security department then. Just remembering this makes me realize how long I've been in this industry. Three decades...

Re:Interesting (1)

Roblimo (357) | about 5 months ago | (#46945161)

Scary how long I've been working on Slashdot, too. 1999 - 2008, then laid off with a nice buyout. Diabetes got bad, had some heart attacks, did some local (Bradenton, FL) reporting and editing, got on disability -- and here I am, working on Slashdot p/t.

Yeah, I remember that night. One of the good ones. Sometimes I miss the Balto/DC area. Then you guys had snow and my neuropathy (diabetes complication; cause mucho foot pain, sensitivity to cold) kicked up in sympathy and I was glad we moved to FL. Ah well....

Re:Interesting (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 5 months ago | (#46943411)

Good luck finding good hardware not bundled with a proprietary OS though, and once you're committing to replacing the OS on whatever laptop you buy, then it becomes a strictly a hardware question: features, performance, quality, and Linux support, and Macbooks fair pretty well by those metrics. These days they mostly don't even carry the huge price premium over a comparable-quality Windows laptop. I tend toward the $300 specials myself, but if money were no object I'd absolutely spring for the better screens, speakers, keyboards*, and touchpads on a Macbook. (Okay, yeah, the keyboard design is kinda love-or-hate, but that's a huge leap forward from the "hate-and-despise" of my latest ASUS which has flat keys with minimal gaps between them.)

Plus, if you're stuck paying a proprietary OS "tax" to a predatory corporation anyway, then which would you rather have it go to? A relatively small bit-player in the PC market who nonetheless has made some significant contributions to the usability and style expected of an OS, or a convicted monopolist in the PC space who has contributed almost nothing worth emulating to OS design in decades?

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46943623)

Actually, more and more Taiwanese and Korean companies are making completely open/libre hardware with no proprietary binary blobs on the machine. You are free to do what you will e.g. flashing a router with Tomato, etc.

Re:Interesting (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 5 months ago | (#46944969)

Dedicated hardware sure. But laptops? Especially *good* laptops of a build quality comparable to Macbooks? Please do share your findings, I'm going to need to replace this ASUS eventually...

Re:Interesting (1)

taylorcp (615045) | about 5 months ago | (#46959335)

Dedicated hardware sure. But laptops? Especially *good* laptops of a build quality comparable to Macbooks? Please do share your findings, I'm going to need to replace this ASUS eventually...

System 76 has some good options -- I bought one a year back and haven't regretted it. $500 cheaper than a MacBook with similar specs.

Re:Interesting (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 5 months ago | (#46960249)

Interesting, I'll have to keep them in mind.

Specs are certainly nice, but the devil is in the details - for example Macbook screens tend to be among the very best for color calibration and outdoor viewing (at least they were 5+ years ago, I haven't used one recently), their speakers tend to be particularly good (for tinny little laptop speakers) and the build quality is typically top-notch. How does your laptop compare? The one thing I noticed that they don't match even in specs is screen resolution - even the 17"ers are limited to 1080p - which is admittedly better than the standard Macbooks, but not competitive with the Pros. And it appears they don't have an option for a backlit keyboard.

For reference I would consider the most important features in a laptop for most people to be (in rough order):
1) Screen size, resolution, and quality (size obviously having a user-dependent optimal value)
2) Keyboard quality
3) Speaker quality
4) Touchpad quality (if used)
5) battery life (could rank much higher depending on usage patterns)
6) availability, number, and position of accessory ports (USB, eSATA, video, audio, etc.)
7) SSD? (especially if you're prone to droppage)
8) CPU performance
9) GPU performance (if you do CAD or gaming)
10) Hard drive capacity.

with 8-10 being more than sufficient for most people unless they're buying at the absolute bottom of the market or wish to get into serious gaming,CAD, or video editing (or have a huge media library)

Re:Interesting (1)

taylorcp (615045) | about 5 months ago | (#46961243)

I believe this is an option for a backlit keyboard on some of the models. Prior to this machine I'd been using Mac laptops back to a G4 PowerBook (2004) to a 2011 MacBook (last release pre-retina display). While my current laptop isn't as polished as an Apple, I wasn't looking for one. The screen wasn't a step back (I know from screens I've published in peer-reviewed journals on them) and the keyboard better than the MB Pro -- the speakers are about as good. The major negative is the mic placement on my machine -- beside the trackpad. I think this is a quirk of the model I bought. The touch pad is really nice, more sensitive than the MBP and flush with the body (a nice touch). I was generally disappointed with the 2011 MB Pro on battery/power issues -- the battery life wasn't great and it ran too hot most of the time. Buying a System 76 laptop was the last step on a long road from being an Apple fan who played around with linux to finally embracing linux as good enough for everything I do now. There's a nice touch here or there that I miss or some quirks that I know exist because I've left the walled garden, but I am glad not to be forking over cash for Apple's corporate shenanigans and to be supporting a small company.

Re:Interesting (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 5 months ago | (#46962117)

Thanks for the extra info, they do sound appealing.

Re:Interesting (1)

exomondo (1725132) | about 5 months ago | (#46945165)

Interesting... I agree with the above poster who laments the fact that at every FOSS/Libre conference, there are an abundance of those closed source HW/SW capitalist MacBooks floating around. Not exactly a good thing.

What's wrong with that? You do realize you can support the FOSS/Libre community without being religiously devoted to the associated ideology don't you? What would they really be using instead?

Re:Interesting (1)

fisted (2295862) | about 5 months ago | (#46946203)

You had me at `UNIX purist', then mention Debian. Hilarious.

Wait, you're serious? Let me laugh even harder.

Re:Interesting (1)

Threni (635302) | about 5 months ago | (#46947923)

> Wait,

Please stop using "wait" that way. It's a bit limp.

Re:Interesting (1)

fisted (2295862) | about 5 months ago | (#46949997)

Let me consider your request for a mome -- wait, no.

Video doesnt work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46943213)

I guess i need proprietary software to watch this video or the alternate link.
The irony...

Re:Video doesnt work (1)

Roblimo (357) | about 5 months ago | (#46945193)

Supposedly that's going to change soon. All the people who actually do the hands-on work on Slashdot would like to watch the videos in Linux and on our phones and tablets, too. I believe the higher-ups are finally coming around to our (your) point of view.

mad dog!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46943521)

this is mad dog : http://www.tvqc.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/MadDogVachon.jpg

You know who maddog is? (1)

Threni (635302) | about 5 months ago | (#46947915)

No.

"You know who maddog is, right? He's one of our favorite speakers on what we might call the Linux/FOSS circuit. So you know, despite the Noel Coward song that says, "Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun," Jon prefers shade much of the time when he's in a tropical climate, based on personal observations at Linux conferences in Florida and Hawaii. But sun or shade, maddog is an eloquent and interesting speaker."

That didn't help.

Circuit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46958659)

I didn't know there was a Linux/FOSS circuit. That's kind of like the old tennis circuit, before the days of open tennis.

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