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The Abdication of the HTML Standard

Geoffreyerffoeg Re:Those Who Ship Win (298 comments)

ODT is as much of a de facto standard. If you give me an ODT file that conforms to the standard but triggers bugs in OpenOffice.org, what good is it? I'm not going to spend days setting up an OOo build environment, learning whatever awful framework they use, and bisecting this bug in order to read your few paragraphs.

The problem with .doc is not that it's a de facto standard -- all standards that are worth anything must be de facto at least as much as they are de jure -- but that it's a bad one, because it's hard for any program that doesn't share MS Word's internal data structures and algorithms to implement (because a .doc is, to first order, a memory dump of Word's data). HTML doesn't work like that, and it's hard to make it work like that if you tried.

more than 3 years ago
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Smartphones For Text SSH Use Re-Revisited

Geoffreyerffoeg Re:Small Netbook and WWAN card. (359 comments)

You're using the wrong phone. I find myself not bothering to go get my laptop sometimes.

Do you have a proper, hardware, non-membrane keyboard with a separate number-key row? (Like the Samsung Intercept?)

more than 3 years ago
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Smartphones For Text SSH Use Re-Revisited

Geoffreyerffoeg Virgin Mobile = $25/month unlimited SSH (359 comments)

Virgin Mobile has a nice $25/month "Beyond Talk" deal for unlimited data and SMS and 300 minutes/month for voice (with higher priced plans if you use more voice), motto Go crazy on Android. It's prepaid if you want it to be, so it's nice that way. They only sell a single phone, the Samsung Intercept, but I've found it to be really nice for what I do: it's got a slide-out keyboard with a separate number row and with separate buttons per key (no membrane keyboard). I spend lots of time on SSH via ConnectBot and have found it to be pleasant to use.

It's not the most powerful processor and the resolution isn't mindblowing and it's still Android 2.1, but I run my terminal at 80x21 and am quite happy with it, especially for the price.

more than 3 years ago
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Avoiding DMCA Woes As an Indy Game Developer?

Geoffreyerffoeg Re:Try having an original idea (494 comments)

There have been attempts at arguing "look and feel" copyrights. It's not clear to me where caselaw stands (see Lotus v. Borland and Apple v. Microsoft, both of which you could read either way in this case) and how the DMCA affects that, but it definitely seems to me that it is not completely obvious that there is no infringement, in which case (IANAL) Namco isn't wrong to file a takedown notice, and certainly isn't doing so in bad faith.

about 4 years ago
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Alternative To the 200-Line Linux Kernel Patch

Geoffreyerffoeg Re:Also from the article (402 comments)

No, incorrect. This is a modification to your .bashrc, which is (already) run every time you start a bash process, within that process (i.e., not a new process). Nothing needs to be spawned on every single process.

Admittedly the bash script does spawn some processes, but a) that's the way .bashrc works, and you have dozens of those in there, and b) it's only one process, a mkdir. The echo and the conditional run within bash itself.

The way that the configuration works, whether done in the kernel or in your .bashrc, is to associate all processes spawned from a single bash shell with a single new scheduling group. This gets you better performance when you're running processes from terminals, by associating logically-similar groups of processes in the kernel instead of letting it see all the processes as a giant pile.

The intended use case, which is pretty clear from the LKML discussion, is to make performance between something intensive (like a compilation) in a terminal and something non-terminal-associated (like watching a movie) better-balanced.

about 4 years ago
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22 Million SSL Certificates In Use Are Invalid

Geoffreyerffoeg Akamai (269 comments)

You can explain a good chunk of this as the result of Akamai's world-wide content caching/load balancing solution. The default Akamai plan doesn't get you SSL support, but the thousands and thousands of web servers they have (which host a good 10% of the Internet's web traffic, last I heard) will all reply on the SSL port, and will present a certificate for an Akamai domain name, whether you connect to ocw.mit.edu or www.whitehouse.gov or www.mtv.com or whatever it may be.

In general, this can also be explained by servers that happen to listen on port 443 but aren't intended to do SSL.

more than 4 years ago
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Do Build Environments Give Companies an End Run Around the GPL?

Geoffreyerffoeg No, this is missing the point (374 comments)

The GPL doesn't require that hardware that has GPL code be modifiable to include updated versions of code. Build systems are a distraction here: a more direct form of the problem is that the GPL code is burned into ROM, and even the GPLv3's Tivoization section (number 6, paragraph starting "If you convey...") explicitly permits that. It would be dumb if it didn't. While it may well be the case that for GPLv3 (and not GPLv2) failing to give you a usable build environment for compiling modifying code so you can run it on your "User Product" is a violation, this is forgetting a large part of the purpose of free software.

The point of free software is that the software, the code, is free for the community to use. Thinking about free software as simply the ability to modify code within its original context causes us to forget opportunities for reusability that benefit the entire free software community, well past the lifetime of this one device, and encourages behavior where modified code isn't usable on other devices or in entirely different contexts. I've written a bit more about this on my blog, with some examples of times when thinking about "free software"/"open source" only within the context of the original product has caused the free software ecosystem as a whole — the thing that's causing large companies to want to embed free software in their hardware devices in the first place — to be left behind.

more than 4 years ago
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PETA Creates New Animal-Friendly Software License

Geoffreyerffoeg People have done this before (356 comments)

Some group named "Hacktivismo" decided to make a license that protected human rights. GNU, rightly,
called it out on not being a free software license (and it's not free in Debian's eyes or open source in OSI's eyes either):

If we were ever going to make an exception to our principles of free software, here would be the place to do it. But it would be a mistake to do so: it would weaken our general stand, and would achieve nothing. Trying to stop those particular activities with a software license is either unnecessary or ineffective.

[...] Also, at least under US law, a copyright-based source license can't restrict use of the program; such a restriction is not enforcible anyway. [...]

more than 4 years ago
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Installing Linux On ARM-Based Netbooks?

Geoffreyerffoeg Re:The trouble... (179 comments)

The one I've used is called HaRET, which is both a debugger-ish thing that lets you play with physical memory and GPIO ports, and a LOADLIN-style bootloader.

more than 4 years ago
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Best Seating Arrangement For a Team of Developers?

Geoffreyerffoeg Re:Peopleware (520 comments)

For $300? (Or $200 used?)

Do you know where to get this book for a normal price? I've been looking forward to reading it, but I can't convince myself to spend $300 on it and there's no way I can get anyone else to...

more than 4 years ago
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Ksplice Offers Rebootless Updates For Ubuntu Systems

Geoffreyerffoeg Re:load of wank (211 comments)

Actually, Ksplice provides live patches. The ones Uptrack distributes are all to the kernel, and obviously not restarting the system requires not restarting the kernel.

The Ksplice technology itself is free software, and can be ported to userspace (but that hasn't been implemented yet by the Ksplice people). But if your network service is an NFS server or something, or you're fixing a security bug in the kernel, then Ksplice can apply it to a running system without affecting existing sessions / connections.

more than 5 years ago
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Ksplice Offers Rebootless Updates For Ubuntu Systems

Geoffreyerffoeg Re:Difference between Linux and Windows (211 comments)

Well, let's look at the issues raised in the article.

Windows actually can replace a DLL that is in use by renaming the original then copying the new file into place. However, the Windows world prefers not to do this.

Ksplice updates the running code of your kernel (by waiting until no thread is using the function to be patched, then calling the kernel's stop_machine_run function -- the same thing it uses when loading a new module -- while it edits the object code); it doesn't touch your /vmlinuz file on disk. If you want the patches next time you reboot, either recompile /vmlinuz, or have an initscript (like Uptrack's) apply the patches at boot.

Even if you're updating just a single DLL with no dependencies, there are still potential problems since the DLL has to interoperate with previous versions of itself.

One reason Ksplice wins here is that it updates the kernel, which is a single thing, but more fundamentally it avoids this problem by atomically patching every piece of affected code at once. You could actually port the Ksplice technology to userspace, provided you do some userspace equivalent of stop_machine is and patch every process at the same time.

Even if you haven't changed the structure itself, you may have changed the meaning of some fields in the structure. If the structure has an enumeration and the new version adds a new value to that enumeration, that's still an incompatibility between the old and new.

Again, Ksplice has the advantage of updating everything atomically. But there is explicit support for having a hook to be called at patch time, that either updates all existing structures, or does something fancy to mark structures that have been updated, so you know that any unmarked structure needs to be updated before being used.

The Ksplice paper (PDF) outlines about how you'd go about writing a data structure transformer to address this (as well as talks about how to solve a host of other problems). See also the CVE evaluation, which links to some examples.

So it's not that Windows has to restart after replacing a file that is in use. It's just that it would rather not deal with the complexity that results if it doesn't. Engineering is a set of trade-offs.

which is why this engineering problem is not something Linus Torvalds personally does, but a separate company, Ksplice Inc., is working on full-time. :-)

more than 5 years ago
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Debian Switching From Glibc To Eglibc

Geoffreyerffoeg Re:"So what" vs "Wow, unbelievable" (565 comments)

Getting in a pissing match over support for an irrelevant feature doesn't inspire me with confidence in Debian's leaders.

Check the eglibc home page. This isn't the only case where he's viciously attacked people who have pointed out bugs and sent him patches.

more than 5 years ago
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Debian Switching From Glibc To Eglibc

Geoffreyerffoeg Re:Might be a good idea (565 comments)

He's got some good points. He does express them in a way that's unnecessarily offensive and combative. But that doesn't make him an asshole. That makes him a typical geek!

Then we need fewer typical geeks, and more atypical geeks.

more than 5 years ago
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Which Linux to try next?

Geoffreyerffoeg If you want to try some things... (13 comments)

Sourcemage or rPath.

Or do what I do and install ubuntu-minimal and add whatever graphical stuff you want yourself. It's basically Debian plus some more drivers and a more frequent release schedule, without the graphical silliness they add.

more than 4 years ago
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Plug-In Architecture On the Way For GCC

Geoffreyerffoeg Re:Nice (342 comments)

The result is that it's a bitch for proprietary guys to write binary only drivers for linux.

Not true. Think about the technical means by which this is achieved: there is no stable driver API, and you're encouraged to get your code into mainline. This means two things:

1. If you have a Free Software driver that isn't GPL-compatible, you get caught in the collateral damage. This is why OpenAFS isn't in the kernel -- because before the GPL had its katamari influence that it does now, IBM released the code under another Free but GPL-incompatible license, and it's basically impossible to pursue everyone relevant now and make them sign off on a relicensing. OpenAFS is at least as old as Linux and was developed on a half a dozen other OSes, so arguments that it's secretly a derivative work because it's a module don't apply.

2. If for whatever reason your code isn't in mainline, be it that you want to be gatekeeper over its development or that the kernel people reject it, then you're also out of luck in the same manner. For instance, the GPL is explicitly okay with a company maintaining a hacked version of Linux internally without having to release the source to the public. The unstable API makes this incredibly difficult. And if you look at the commits to the Linux kernel, most of it is from the "proprietary guys" -- maybe you could have even more of them contributing bug fixes upstream if it were easier for them to customize.

The promise the kernel guys make is not that your code is easy to maintain if it's Free Software -- it's that your code is easy to maintain if and only if it's part of Linux.

Now don't get me wrong; I understand there are excellent technical reasons for not having a stable in-kernel API, such as the ability to rearchitect things when you get a better idea and not have to support compatibility interfaces forever. I'm not at all asking for Linux to grow such an API. But to consider it a worthwhile legal tool in favor of Free Software is to completely fail to understand the Free Software ecosystem.

more than 5 years ago

Submissions

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Global Warming Debate Overheats with Bad Numbers

Geoffreyerffoeg Geoffreyerffoeg writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) writes "In response to last week's discussion of a bug in global warming data that made 1934, not 1998, the hottest year on record, a post in the Wall Street Journal's "Numbers Guy" blog notes that the change is statistically meaningless. Guest columnist Keith Winstein writes, "[A]t least 12 years out of the last 127 can claim to be in a statistical tie for warmest in the U.S. ... 1934 and 1998 have been swapping (statistically insignificant) spots on the ranking for a number of years." It turns out the 0.02 degree Celsius change was actually far less than the 0.47 degree margin of error."
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