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* Posts by Biff

9 posts • joined 20 Apr 2007

Torvalds frustrated at missing simultaneous release

Biff

It's still possible to fit Linux kernel and rootfs in 1MB (e.g. less than a floppy) and make it do something useful. I should know because I've done it, and it is controlling my central heating system. I'd love to find another operating system with similar functionality (USB stack, networking etc...) that's less bloated but I suspect I'd have to write it myself or grab one of the highly experimental offerings from osdev, all very interesting stuff but I don't have 6 months spare to muck about with such things.

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Biff

Re: Linux has bigger things to worry about

Fresh install of Linux Mint 15, supposedly the most popular Linux distro, when I try to open system settings the program appears in the tray, but I can't open/maximise the window. So after a fresh install I cannot configure the system. I've tried both 32 and 64-bit, different machines. Nice one guys, but I think I'll be going back to Slackware.

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Western Digital WD TV Live

Biff

Asus O!Play?

After looking at the WD and various other players I eventually went for an Asus O!Play, which seems to be working out OK. It's only 80 quid, has more-or-less the same connections on the back, doesn't have a fan, never gets hot, has SATA, network and USB ports, and has played virtually everything I've thrown at it. OK, the menus don't look nearly as attractive as the ones shown here, but I'm just wondering if anyone here can say the WD is worth the extra money as I'm planning on buying another O!play.

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Microsoft opened Linux-driver code after 'violating' GPL

Biff

@AC 15:23

"What total bollox. Are you really saying that less good stuff is released under BSD _because_ it's BSD?"

Cool.. make up something I never said, and then call it bollox. Easy to do isn't it?

"What about OpenSSL? Incidentally, the last time I looked, he OpenSSL project has never NEVER received a single monetary contribution from any of the Linux distributions. Not one. Read into that what you will."

And none of the Linux contributors (with the exception of a small minority who work for the companies concerned) have received anything either. And your point is?

"Or the other OpenBSD projects like CARP or pf - yet another one that the Linux people are very happy to take but totally unwilling to financially contribute back to."

And BSD folk (not to mention thousands of companies around the world) are very happy to use gcc. Again, I'm looking for your point here....

"What about Apache (not BSD, of course, but certainly not GPL either). I mean, NOBODY uses Apache do they?"

Yes, people use Apache, I use Apache, and it's excellent, but it doesn't invalidate my assertion that we would not have the wealth of open-source software currently available to us if the GPL didn't exist. More likely we would be awash with shareware/binary drivers with people spending most of their time waiting for version XXX of driver YYY so they can use kernel ZZZ. Even worse than with Windows - at least there are a finite number of versions of Windows, and the binary compatibility is 'reasonable'. Yeah, before you say it, I know the official BSD interfaces don't churn nearly as much as the Linux ones, but anyone can roll their own incompatible version and keep it closed source...

"Oh, and the GPL people also have a habit of taking BSD code, modifying it, releasing the changes under GPL and therefore preventing the changes being put back into the original BSD code! All very friendly and helpful - NOT."

Shit happens when you author under a license that allows shit to happen (and sometimes even when you don't, but that's called copyright infringement). That's hardly the fault of the GPL community, any more that it's the fault of Apple for keeping some/all their kernel changes to themselves. In any case, if GPL developers happen to be breaking copyright law, then that is not the fault of the GPL.

Amazing how people think there is some big competition between Linux and BSD, on the basis of one or two emails to the odd mailing list. This is perpetuated by people like Steve Balmer with their Good vs Bad/Caps vs Commies type attitude to it all. To me this is just a bunch of guys working on stuff which they are enthusiastic about. Unlike in their jobs they have the opportunity to do things their way. I have contributed stuff under a mixture of licenses, sometimes GPL, sometimes not. If I want to totally give something away I tend to just not give it a license and declare it public domain, which has fewer restrictions than BSD. That means people can even say they wrote it if they get off on that.

But... I *still* just don't understand the people slagging off GPL. If you have such a problem with it, why don't you just work on improving *BSD to the point where Linux is irrelevant? What? No time this w/e? Busy with the kids? Fine! Then how about you just shut the f*** up and let other people get on with it.

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Biff

@Hans-Peter Lackner

"The GPL and all its derivates (LGPL) are a joke and should be abandoned and replaced with something better: BSD-License or Apache..."

There is this odd kind of assumption that there are these hackers, sitting around with too much time on their hands, and if only the pesky GPL didn't exist they would put exactly the same amount of time into contributing under a completely different license.

Microsoft favours the BSD license, and I've noticed a torrent of quality BSD-licensed software coming from them.... not!

Very few major contributors question the licenses used by others. They understand what it means to sacrifice a week-end or two (not all open-source work is fun!), so they're not going to be the ones who preach. This is why you rarely get people on Free/Net-BSD mailing lists slagging off the GPL, it's mainly the armchair critics who contribute next to nothing that have such a strong view, or the people working on closed source stuff, who (quite naturally) want something for nothing. Note: I'm not saying you are one of these people, since I have no idea of what involvement you have or don't have in OS, however this is what I've observed in others.

You have to ask yourself what persuades a guy like Michael Xaard to reverse-engineer hundreds of webcams so they work with Linux, with no profit to himself. Ask yourself whether the same motivation will be forthcoming if his only choice is to release under BSD. I think the answer is 'no', and that's what this boils down to - I want stuff to work, and the restriction that it's hard for me to make money out of it is totally irrelevant. It's also hard to make money out of air, and that's all I'd have if it wasn't for people like Mr Xaard.

As an occasional GPL contributor I have a message for the anti-GPL zealots:

- Get off your backsides (or possibly onto them) and start re-coding the work that's been done in GPL. I'm sure the Net/Free/Open BSD crowd could do with some help - their operating systems suck big-time in terms of driver support.

- Stop telling me what to do in my own time. It's my own life and I'll release under a license of my choosing. Unless you're going to do me a favour, come round and clean my house for free or something, you don't get a say in how I spend my free time. Get over it.

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Sun spreads more VirtualBox love

Biff

@AC

It's great that you've found a host/guest combo which works well, but...

If I was wanting a Linux guest on a Unix host, I'd use UML (user-mode Linux) instead (under Linux), and, based on experience I suspect it would be loads faster than VirtualBox or VMWare, even if it required a bit more tinkering to setup. The area where the performance really suffers seems to be Windows guest on Linux host, and (due to the low cost of the host) that's probably quite a likely scenario. I get no problems with boot speed, but certain 'real-life' disk-intensive operations really do suffer, as investigated here: http://forums.virtualbox.org/viewtopic.php?t=8119.

Fingers crossed they'll address this, because there are many reasons why I prefer VirtualBox to VMWare. We'll have to wait and see.

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Biff
Thumb Down

Agree with Oliver.

VB lacks a paravirtualisation driver for disk access, making most disk intensive operations crawl, and that's even with the newly added SATA emulation in 1.6.4. Unless they get this fixed, I really can't see any serious outfits adopting VirtualBox over VMWare. Sure, GUI (display, mouse) response is great, giving the illusion of speed for some applications, but benchmark it and you'll be disappointed. I do wish them all the best though, as long as they don't do anything stupid like add a non-optional web-based management framework sucking up 100MB of RAM (hint, hint).

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Build a 14.5 watt data center in a shoebox

Biff
Linux

@Stephen

Glad you like the Omnima. One of the reasons I tried to make this happen was my frustration with the price of industrial embedded systems. Linux systems should be available to all, for hardly any more than the cost of a DVD, and that's what we (more-or-less) managed with the Omnima. It would have been much nicer to do the same with an NSLU2 as the hardware base, however the quantity discount for the Omnima boards was just a lot more favourable. We've just put in an order for 1000 more, so keep those orders coming!

PS: You know, REG should do an article on Omnima - I still can't quite believe how it's all taken off...

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Embedded devices a cinch to pwn

Biff

Nonsense

I've got this PC at home. I found out last night, that by simply opening the box, and taking out the hard drive a criminal can remove Linux and install Windows 2000, making the machine completely insecure, but he can't do this remotely - what a relief there.

Seriously, Mr Jack is doing two things with his fud, both of which make me mad:

1) Showing a really crap example. A few early router devices might have allowed admin access on the 'wan' side, but virtually none default to that now.

2) There's a small chance that in response router manufacturers start removing the JTAG connectors and serial consoles from boards, thus ruining the fun for thousands of hackers (not crackers) and hobbyists creating solutions based on OpenWRT (www.openwrt.org), or even less likely projects like my router-based alarm clock: http://www.biffer.talktalk.net/sweex/clock/

Please don't publish stuff like this again.

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