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 Post subject: w32codec
PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2005 8:34 pm 
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Ok, so everything minus 1 in blag is Free Software: you can get the source code, modify it, redistribute it, etc.

The one non-Free package is w32codec. Theses are codecs that allow people to play audio/video that is commonly available on the 'net. I always included this one because I believed it was important for Free Communication to be able to view the vast majority of video on the 'net.

Awhile back I had an email discussion with Richard Stallman (RMS) about BLAG's inclusion of w32codec. Here's some snippets:

jebba wrote:
"BLAG works to overthrow corporate control of information and technology through community action and spreading Free Software"


RMS wrote:
I like the spirit, but...


jebba wrote:
BLAG does commit a sin though. It isn't 100% Free Software. It includes various audio & video codecs.


RMS wrote:
That is very disappointing. Although the name respects the GNUProject, not all of the contents respect the users' freedom.

For a moment there I was hoping that the FSF could recommend BLAG, but we cannot do so as long as it contains non-free software.

The practice of using the non-free codecs is one of the major obstacles that free software faces, and the only way to surmount it is for people to start pushing back. The strategy you've adopted on this front is one of surrender.


RMS wrote:
However, I think we should not miss the opportunity to educate the public about the need to change their practices and stop using those formats. We need to look for opportunities to do that.

Perhaps you can start by having a facility for users to do this, but before they get to it, they should see a page that explains why the use of these formats is a harmful practice and asking them to try to change. What do you think about that?


jebba wrote:
Another one everyone wants is Flash, which I loathe. But I was thinking of just writing a simple script that would pop up, say why Flash (& now w32codecs) is rotten bad bad bad, but still allow people to download them via apt-get from some non-blag repository.


RMS wrote:
Saying this software is bad is better than what you are doing now, but it would still fall short of what is good. Flash is a place where we importantly need to push back.

How about writing a simple application that helps people send complaints to the webmaster of a site which has Flash on it? If it can do something to scan the site for an email address to send to, that would be useful. It could have heuristics to find pages for contacting or responding to the site.


Another part of our discussion was the source code. Right now, they are just available via http/ftp. But the GPL requires that anyone sending out CDs also make the source CD available. So what I want to do is make an ISO image of SRPMS and make a http://www.blagblagblag.org/redistribute/ page that explicitly lists the requirements for redistributing CDs. Note, if you send out a CD you don't /have/ to send out the source code too--you only have to do it if requested.

Anyway, so what do you all think of w32codec? I think the best approach is to /not/ include them, make sure blag is always 100% Free Software, and make some wrapper type program that says "you are doing something bad bad bad" and have it grab w32codec from freshrpms or dag.

Thoughts?

-Jeff


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 Post subject: freedom or otherwise
PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2005 10:04 pm 
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the longer i go on with this the more i realize that one of things that makes blag special is that unlike the vast majority of other distros blag is overtly political. that's not the reason that everyone who blags a box does, but it's there through everything we do.

using gnu/linux [any distro] is a political statement anyway. it's two fingers up to capitalism for reasons that are documented extensively elsewhere ;-).

we all comprimise all day every day with the system, what we install on our boxes is reclaiming our freedom people. so my conclusion: we should kick the non-free stuff, say why [i'd be willing to help write this if needed] and develop the install via dag kludge.

on the back of this, we should work to promote ogg and theora and flac and all the other alternatives to the non-free stuff which brought all this up in the first place.


Last edited by r7 on Tue Jan 18, 2005 12:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2005 12:08 am 
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I think we ought to keep only free software inside the BLAG distro but not go down the political route and ignore w32 or flash. By dictating to users what is bad and what isn't, we do exactly what M$ does and what we all hate. So we hate flash but who are we to say users cannot use it? Discourage the user of proprietary software. It is a good message but don't force the issue.

Part of freedom is about having choices and it would make us hypocrites to remove them choices from the people. You cannot introduce an OS like Linux, give people a choice and then revoke the old choice. It just puts us in the shoes of our predecessors.

That is why Windows and MacOS sticking around is good. So what if they are crap? Don't force people to use Linux or free software. It means nothing and won't make anyone feel good. Allowing them to choose and make that choice means far more.

I think the message with Linux has gone completely mad politically. Ok so what if Linux gives you freedom with the code and is a better OS. It doesn't mean we can suddenly commit another wrong to fight fire with fire with M$. Two wrongs do not make a right in any world. If we really believe we have to force people into free software, then the world really has gone mad.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2005 3:04 am 
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Jason, I think the point was to remove it from the distro but write little wrapper things so noobs could get w32codec and flush. In the process they'd be shown a message explaining why these packages aren't in blag and raise awareness about what proprietary software is and why it sucks.

-Jeff


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2005 5:38 am 
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Ok, my take on the matter:

Remove all proprietory software, and yes this includes w32codec.

I think you can have a link to an area of the website explaining why proprietery software is bad, but if people want to install them, point them into the direction so that they can install them, but make sure they have to read a page explaining why propreitery software is bad first.

I'd like BLAG to stay completely free, although I think it should be the user's choice whether or not they want to install non-free software or not. For that matter, I think it would not be a good idea to host the RPM's of any non-free software linked to off-site, so that the BLAG website can be 100% free software.

Also, I do use alot of properietery software in my day-to-day life, but I have no choice, my free options are non-existant/horribly inferior. I'd fail a good part of school without using the school computers, and they all run Windows. Quite frankly, I don't feel like failing, and nobody will take a stand with me anyways (I'm pretty sure me and 1 other friend are the only people in my entire school who know what free software is). I'm not saying that proprietory software should be banned everywhere, because I do use some of it, but I think we should make it clear to the user that using free software is highly recommended and we should demonstrate this by making BLAG 100% free software on the CD. What the user does with it is up to the user, because if we interfere with that we are interfering with freedoms.

Anyways, just my 2 cents. If I totally messed some sentence up, just lemme know, cause I haven't had a good 6 hours sleep in weeks.

By the way, i realize I've spelled propreietory about a billion different ways throughout this, but you know what I mean :P .

Thanks for actually reading all of this :P,

stevo32 (Stephen Clement)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2005 9:50 am 
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I think it is fine to have a 100% free software distro. It makes total sense promoting free software. Discouraging proprietary software is cool too but my point was that users should always have the final choice and be able to install the proprietary software just as easily as they can install the free software.

Here it is different but on some Linux IRC channels a few older Linux heads get frustrated when they see a newbie still using a proprietary piece of software. I wouldn't like to see that here ever because we were all newbies once upon a time. I prefer the route of showing pople both sides, then letting them choose. It is far more appealing than showing them our preferred side only and forcing them to make do.

Linux unlike Windows doesn't need to have dirty underhand tactics ever. Linux can put on the table openly a secure and stable OS. I like that and it has far more appeal to anyone thinking of converting that Linux can be so open because it is that much better than Windows.

So with BLAG we can always say to people, this is what you get, this is what the alternatives are and be confident they will make the right choice for them. BLAG can hold it's own easily against anything you will find in the Windows/MacOS series and funnily enough the only rivals to BLAG are it's fellow Linux distros.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2005 1:30 pm 
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My opinion on this is that we cannot theoretically get rid of all proprietary software,unless someone could possibly make an open source version of the codecs that are in win32codec(I actually have seen it been done with Quicktime,so why not the other codecs). About Flash,same situation...if we email to Macromedia to GPL Flash,we'd be all set(although it will take lots of convincing to do so). If everything does go right,we might be able to call this a 100% Free distro(and also to make Richard M. Stallman happy). But like I said,there will still be streaming video out there that requires a proprietary codec like WMV,so they will still be out there. What I do agree on is that the Xvid codec is maturing nicely,and also ogg vorbis is taking its shape(I converted all my mp3's to oggs,just because it is patentless,and not to mention it sounds better). That proves that these codecs are the future of open source in general,and it lessens the grip on Microsoft's and the other comapanies' control on video and audio. I imagine one day,open source will dominate the market,and the downfall of proprietary programs and OS's(even though that may not happen).

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2005 4:07 pm 
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Macromedia won't GPL Flash or the player. It is part of their suite and a big money maker along with that other POS ColdFusion. I think Flash sites suck anyways. Then only decent one I have seen is www.neostream.com and after that you think ok Flash really isn't that cool. I would rather bandwidth be used in better ways than wasted on flash. Flash is like them marquees in webpages. Just annoying for the most part.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2005 5:44 pm 
I often talk with Rev' RMS about the good political way.
Sure non-free softwares are not GPL, but I always stays in the way to have the better OS as possible.
So I use Acroread (the existing GPL soft don't give the same functionnalities), I use Sun Java, I use XnView and W32 codec.

Tomorow like what happends with the Mozilla project, when a project team give the use of a fully functionnal and best quality I will use it.
Before I was under Opera, today it is Firefox (with plugins Flash, Java and RealPlay ;-()

As a told to RMS I support the FSF way since I can swap a propriatery sofware by a free software : that is the USER way.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2005 6:24 pm 
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Going back to the obvious choice,we should remove w32codec from the cd and the BLAG repos. However,if anyone did want that package,they could always go to freshrpms or DAG to get it. As I see it,w32codec is only essential to people who need to view WMV files. Otherwise,most of the video media these days are avi,and the Xvid codec takes care of that for the most part. And yes the idea of having a script that warns users that they are in violation of the GPL is a real good idea.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2005 1:10 am 
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Quote:
I often talk with Rev' RMS about the good political way.
Sure non-free softwares are not GPL, but I always stays in the way to have the better OS as possible.
So I use Acroread (the existing GPL soft don't give the same functionnalities), I use Sun Java, I use XnView and W32 codec.

WTF? I've never had a PDF Xpdf couldn't handle, although like you said I do use proprietery plugins to Firefox because I need them and I don't feel like being frustrated not having them. Oh, and demitri, no possibility of GPL'ing flash. No possibility whatsoever.

Also, the one important thing that XviD is missing is streaming video, and that is why WMV9 is so popular. If it wasn't a streaming video format nobody would use it.

I'd have to agree 100% with Jason though :)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2005 2:27 am 
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demitri_88 wrote:
Going back to the obvious choice,we should remove w32codec from the cd and the BLAG repos. However,if anyone did want that package,they could always go to freshrpms or DAG to get it. As I see it,w32codec is only essential to people who need to view WMV files. Otherwise,most of the video media these days are avi,and the Xvid codec takes care of that for the most part. And yes the idea of having a script that warns users that they are in violation of the GPL is a real good idea.


As long as we told the user where to get it and thus made it easily accessible, then we can remove it from anything BLAG related. Most people won't know about DAG or have the knowledge to go find a working RPM. So we would need to take that into consideration.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2005 7:56 pm 
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We could possibly accomplish this by making a new browser homepage that explains the whole proprietary software issue. Then we could give them links to those particular packages if they wish to install them.

Also,on another note,stevo32 is right about xpdf,I haven't found a pdf that wouldn't work in it,so why would you need adobe reader? Using adobe on linux is like smacking tux in the face with a window(no pun intended).

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2005 2:45 am 
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Ok, so the general consensus is that w32codec is going out the window, and BLAG will be 100% Free Software. So are we going to have a vote, or has the decision already been made...or are we still going to debate it...

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2005 3:19 am 
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stevo32 wrote:
Ok, so the general consensus is that w32codec is going out the window, and BLAG will be 100% Free Software. So are we going to have a vote, or has the decision already been made...or are we still going to debate it...


It sounds like we have pretty good consensus. I'm glad to know we'll be 100% Free now. :)))

I'll drop RMS a note too.

Later,

-Jeff


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