Eric S. Raymond wrote:
First, a relatively minor issue that is nevertheless quite annoying.
It's the Fedora distribution art, the images in Anaconda and the
Fedora-customized graphics in the admin tools and elsewhere. It has
never been much better than mediocre, and in FC5 it hits a new low
Quality of art is simply subjective, looks okay to me.
But the art problem pales compared to the issue that everyone has been
ducking, which is Fedora's support for DVDs and proprietary audio and
video and web-streaming formats and Java applets. That is to say, its
It's 2006, people. The Web is fifteen years old. Even non-techies
have had a decade to form expectations about what constitutes a base
Supporting Flash seems to soak up most of the problem that can be
solved, eg, youtube, Google Video, and if you have 32-bit firefox you
can have it. Seems the only answer for Quicktime and such is the
corporate mantrap that is Mplayer, it makes no sense for Redhat to
invite attack on their cash by playing that game. There is no limit to
the number of dangerous proprietary formats that one could address by
Let's start with the basics. For a consumer OS to be unable to play
MP3s and handle podcasts is just plain not acceptable, not in the
world after iTunes. Red Hat/Fedora's duck-and-cover on this would be
understandable if the Fraunhofer patents blocked decoders, but
Fraunhofer itself has only dunned for royalties on *encoders* -- thus
Red Hat/Fedora has ceded to Fraunhofer rights it has never claimed.
I don't know about it, it would be lovely if Fedora had MP3 out of the
box. However again the caution is commendable, because having mp3 out
of the box for a while followed by RHAT getting nuked for many millions
of damages and unable to continue with its very widespread contributions
to many projects would not be a good trade.
AVI. Quicktime. ASF. MPEG. DVD playback. Flash. Java. These are
Well Java seems to be coming along via gcc. Flash exists in a non-free
form. AVI is just a container format, the problem is more the varied
codecs that can be used on the data inside it. IIRC you can buy a
licensed Linux DVD decoder app somewhere.
*not optional* in 2006, any more than the ability to read Microsoft
Word files in a word processor is optional; if we try to treat them
that way, consumers will blow Linux off. Evangelizing for SVG and Ogg
3. We can buy the rights to the technologies we want as a straight
commercial transaction from the patent-holder.
Let me imagine the negative case. RHAT and the community are drained
and pummelled by a limitless number of patent attacks they are forced to
defend once they get into that game of either entering the grey zone or
getting their wallet out. Even JPEG is a danger area. Unless the
strategy includes turning off the patent attack tap somehow it seems an
unlikely "way forward".
really would be time for those of us who care about the future of Linux to
find a commercial partner with more ambition and more guts.
Why not do that anyway if they are so easily found.
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