Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tivoization and freedom

What is Tivoisation. I would direct you to websearch for indepth explanation or the text of GPL V3 would be more suitable if you are reallllllly interested in this topic.

As a layman's explanation, Tivoisation is the situation where a hardware vendor though is in compliance with GPL v2(That is, the source code for the GPL'd code used in the hardware is released back to the community in the same license, you could call it the "firmware") does not allow the users or buyers of the hardware to flash the hardware with modified firmware compiled from the modified firmware source.

Let us say, U have bought a dvd player, whose firmware is built up completely of GPL'd software. Now, U download the source published by the dvd player manufacturer and put some programming effort in adding additional functions/capabilities to the existing ones. Yes, U have done a great job. Now u have to flash the device with this additional capability. But, stop, U cant do it. The manufacturer will not allow this and probably if you go ahead you will lose your warranty.

Now, there is one more side to this. A rival company wants to manufacture a similar dvd player. He gets the hardware pieces which are similar form standard vendors. He will take this improved/updated firmware created by the individual and flash his device with this. So, You have a dvd player with additional capability in the market for the same price.

Is this desirable. Yes. It is very much desirable. If the initial manufacturer had a broader view of the word "freedom" he would have accepted the changes and incorporated in all the dvd players and provide a free update to all the existing users. The world is an excellent place to live in. If he doesnt want to do it himself he should allow the programmer to flash his improvements on to the hardware. The user payed for the hardware also. He has all the rights to get the last drop of performance from his device. The manufacturer should not lock the device down for further improvements. The customer should have the right to modify/improve the device he has bought. The customer should be "free" to incorporate the improvements and also share the same with his friends and in turn upgrading his device also.

I am against Tivoization. I understand my device better. I know its capabilities. I know how its use can be extended. If I dont know my friend knows. I want to incorporate his improvements on my device. Its my device. I should be free to use it and improve it. Damn the warranty. I liked the way, RMS thought about the whole issue of tivoization. I know Linus torvalds doesnt like this. He wants the Linux kernel on the majority of platforms/devices. Time is the only answer to these disparity of views. I am happy that RMS detected these issues and added corrections in GPL v3.

Monday, February 6, 2012

"init: Id "co" respawning too fast: disabled for 5 minutes" error in Debian GNU/Linux testing

I think many of the Debian GNU/Linux testing installations are getting this message. This is visible if your are using the terminal and gets repeated every 5 minutes. I have resolved this issue by commenting the line as shown below. As usual, i dont take credit for this. It is just a result of lot of googling of online forums

co:2345:respawn:/sbin/getty hvc0 9600 linux

search for the above line in /etc/inittab and comment it as

#co:2345:respawn:/sbin/getty hvc0 9600 linux

There you go. You will not recieve the message again.

P.S -> I have not seen any side effects as of now(been using my lappy with this change for the past two days). I will update if any issues are found. I would be happy to know if others do have an issue. Thanx to all the Debian GNU/Linux devs and users for a fantastic OS.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Gnome 3.2 extensions on Debian GNU/Linux testng

It is old news now that Gnome 3.2.2 is available for Debian GNU/Linux testing users. If you have not installed reload ur package manager and upgrade to version 3.2.2. So, what are the things you will like in this release

1. The response from the shell is lightning. It is very quick. Once you log into the shell, the responses to mouse clicks and keyboard short cuts is amazing.

2. Installation of extensions is now childs play with Gnome 3.2.2. It is as easy as 1-2-3. GO to https://extensions.gnome.org/  and click on your favorite extension. On this page and to the left of the title of the extension you have an ON/OFF switch. Just slide the button to ON and accept to install the extension in the pop up dialog. Thats it!!. The extension is installed. Repeat this step for all the extensions you would like to install. Then log out and re-login. You should be now running all the extensions you have installed. As a guide for the best extensions, I would point you to  http://justinstories.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/five-most-downloaded-extensions-of-awesome-gnome-shell/   

Thanx to the G3 devs for acknowledging the requirement of the community and supporting the extensions within their main framework and many thanx to all the devs of the awesome G3 extensions.

PS: The user theme extension is somehow disabled for 3.2.2. As per the G3 website it will be available in 3.3 and later. I, for one will wait.