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The recent FOSDEM was great this year, and Belgium still had beer left before, during and after. Still lots of people, though with an extra building open – it was a little less crowded. There were over 400 sessions on themes from Mozilla, Java, cross-distro and embedded to Ada and law. There was lots of Debian at FOSDEM, and I …

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Anonymous Coward

Debian on ARM?

How's that ever going to work? Do they have some mystical way to by-pass MS's mandated UEFI lock-in?

It's not as if it's going to be easy for Linux to support Secure Boot anyway ( http://mjg59.dreamwidth.org/9844.html )

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Ru
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Facepalm

There's more to the world than Microsoft

You're evidently not aware that linux distributions running on ARM devices have been about for some time. You may have heard of a moderately popular one called 'Android', for example. A quick look at the Debian supported hardware page lists 4 distinct ARM based platforms they support, with multiple models on each, all of which have been around for a good few years.

Because one kind of ARM based device that is planned for the future might have locked bootloaders, that hardly means the platform is doomed forever to be single-vendor. ARM based software development has been going for years without anything to do with Microsoft, and it will continue to do so in the future.

Incidentally, how easy is it these days to change the OS on an ARM-based Apple device? Or Motorola? or HTC?

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Big Brother

Re: There's more to the world than Microsoft

Sadly that is exactly why Microsoft want to put a stop to Linux with this Secure boot malarkey.

If they get their way, it won't be 90+% of computers running Windows, it will be 100%. Those who tried to make Linux run will be in chokey.

All the PC makers will fall into the MS party line. Just like all the Android Phone makers have done.

The only devices available with an ARM chip with anything like a decent performance will be locked down into only being able to boot Windows.

What about the option to switch it off you may ask?

MS will tell the makers that there is a price for Windows on a locked down device and another price for it on a configurable device. There could be a 100x difference between the two prices.

If you were a manufacturer, which one would you opt for in order to stay in business?

Sad as it may seem, all those linux fans who are dreaming of <insert distro here> running as an alternative OS on their 'former' window ARM/PC are just living in clud cuckoo land.

Well, they will if MS has its way and as every day goes by, I think that it will be more likely that they will win here. Governments don't like standing up to MS now do they?

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Ru
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"it won't be 90+% of computers running Windows, it will be 100%"

We're largely talking about tablets here. Therefore most of the devices will be running Apple software. Apple already lock down their hardware with reasonable effectiveness, yet this was not heralded as the end of the world. I'm trying (and failing) to envisage a situation where Microsoft can demand that every Android vendor lock down the bootloaders of their devices. Some might (I've mentioned a couple) but its a big market and ultimately MS have no hold over device manufacurers who are not selling into the US and have no interest in selling devices running MS software.

"Those who tried to make Linux run will be in chokey."

There is alas no such penalty for drama queens and distributors of FUD. The world is bigger than Microsoft. They are no longer at the top of their game. Their popularity is falling and the commercial clout they wield is lessening. How else do you explain the relative lack of success of their new mobile platform? It isn't really any worse than the alternatives, and it comes with patent indemnification and grown up commercial support for the vendors and a generous (verging on desparate) marketing budget. Yet no-one really cares, and MS can't strong-arm their way to the top of the market anymore.

There is a bit of dark humour in all this, though. Thanks to the efforts of the Chinese goverment in trying to reduce the dependency of Chinese tech companies on proprietary hardware and software provided by western manufacturers, it may be the Chinese who are the best people to go to when you want to find free and open hardware. Ever heard of Loongson? The world is bigger than ARM too, you know.

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Anonymous Coward

@Ru

"Apple already lock down their hardware with reasonable effectiveness, yet this was not heralded as the end of the world"

Apple are not a monopoly, nor do they license their OSs to third parties (they do the hardware too), nor do they (to my knowledge) force OEMs to drop product lines in favour of theirs. All that said, I do not agree with the Apple device lock and a few other things Apple gets up to (I do not own any Apple devices).

"[MS] are no longer at the top of their game"

They are still a monopoly and hold enough sway to make first world governments change policy (e.g. the UK) and to manipulate international standards bodies (e.g. ISO). MS are quite capable of using their monopoly to coerce the brand-name box shifters (quick, where can one buy a GNU/Linux box from a household name vendor? Nowhere*).

"and MS can't strong-arm their way to the top of the market anymore."

No need to, they're still on top. Look at the revenue they are extorting from the Android vendors.

I'm not against the concept of Secure Boot/UEFI. It seems sensible enough to know that the code/drivers used during boot are authorised. I am totally against MS locking down ARM mobos, and I hope the regulators sting them hard for it.

*I am quite aware of System76 et al, but that's not the answer to the question I asked; is it?

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Gold badge

Re: standing up to MS

"MS will tell the makers that there is a price for Windows on a locked down device and another price for it on a configurable device. There could be a 100x difference between the two prices."

That might happen, in the US. Don't bet on it happening everywhere. On the legal front, Germany has form when it comes to sticking it to Microsoft. On the manufacturing front, China is far too large a market for the OEMs to ignore and China certainly won't jump for a BIOS that doesn't run pirated software.

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Re: buying GNU/Linux

"Quick, where can one buy a GNU/Linux box from a household name vendor?"

Why would you want to? It costs nothing to just buy a box and put GNU/Linux on it and if you aren't up to that then *please* don't buy a GNU/Linux box from anyone. You won't be able to maintain the system once you get it home.

Here's a prediction. You'll never be able to buy a GNU/Linux box from a big name vendor as long as Microsoft charge next to nothing for an OEM copy of Windows. The administrative and customer support complexity of that extra purchase option will always outweigh the slight extra profit on 1% of your sales.

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Happy

@AC

"Apple [does not] force OEMs to drop product lines in favour of theirs."

"Apple orders PC builder to 'choose sides' in laptop battle" (http://www.channelregister.co.uk/2012/02/13/apple_pegatron_pressure/)

"[Q]uick, where can one buy a GNU/Linux box from a household name vendor?"

Dell, HP, ASUS, Acer...

You're welcome. (I know, providing a post without new, interesting information is a great way to attract downvotes... ah well, it's been that kind of week)

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Boffin

MS Secure boot only for devices sold with Windows 8

I already have a half dozen or so debian on ARM devices, and have been running it quite happily for more than five years.

Personally I'm hoping that MS saying to manufacturers "If you want Windows 8 on your tablet you need to do all this stuff" results in the manufacturers responding "O RLY? We'll stick to Android then, thanks all the same"

But I guess the market will do what it wants to do. Currently that does seem to be "give MS Win Phone 7 the finger", which is quite pleasing in itself.

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Unhappy

Re: "Those who tried to make Linux run will be in chokey."

Oh, yes! Because if you crack the bootloader you can therefore run unsigned code. This will be assumed to be code that allows the DRM of internet media services to be broken, and so will be in contravention of the DMCA or local equivalents. Just ask Sony about that. So, yes, Microsoft will use this as an excuse to legally hammer anyone who replaces their firmware.

HTC somehow ensure that some rooted devices can't access DRM content, which seems to be an excellent compromise - if you leave the walled garden, you can't have the benefits, but we won't stop you.

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Anonymous Coward

Packaging

"We agreed (from bitter experience) it is worth consolidating some of them into super-packages, at least for common use patterns, to reduce version-number hell – then automate the build process and add as many automated tests as possible to give rapid feedback to all developers that some innocent change broke something they may not even have been aware of."

Makes sense for OS-underpinnings but not for the software layer unless you're deliberately trying to Borg people. As any cross-desktop Linux user will have experienced, unnecessary dependencies can turn a 5Mb app into a 500Mb monster.

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Anonymous Coward

Thanks

For posting something other than that UEFI bore above...

But 5MB (I'm sure you meant MB, not Mb) to 500MB sounds like a stretch... And even if so, it is only disk/ installation bandwidth that's affected, not memory/ performance.

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