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Re: Debian ARM success story: Debian desktop on a TS-7300

On Thu, Jul 13, 2006 at 11:26:07PM -0700, Dustin Harriman wrote:
> Thanks for asking Lennart, I'll gladly clarify my point of view:
> I think PPC will eventually disappear as being in *home computers*.  And I'm
> talking about *general purpose* computers that can run software from the
> mind-bogglingly huge pool of debian packages, not closed appliances.  I
> think there needs to be a perpetual diversity of architectures for the *home
> user*.  I'm not so concerned about what chips are popular in industry and
> military, I'm more concerned about ensuring the continuing availability of a
> non-big-brother-ized computer that the common man or woman can get their
> hands on for cheap.
> Currently, all home computers with PPC chips are in Apple computers.  Once
> those PPC Apples get old and get recycled, there will be no general purpose
> home computers with PPCs anymore.  So PPC will eventually disappear as an
> architecture from the perspective of a home computer user.  That would
> effectively leave i386/amd64/ia64 as the only architecture for general
> purpose home computer.  Gee, what a ripe scenario to introduce DRM and NGSCB
> into, when there are effectively no alternative architecures for the home
> computer user!

ia64 will never be in a home computer the way it is going.

> Even if hardly anybody actually uses an ARM computer as a home computer, the
> mere existence of it as an alternative will keep i386/amd64/ia64 "honest",
> since people could easily migrate away if the hardware got too
> "big-brotherized".  Kind of like how the mere existence of ogg (which a
> small percentage of people use compared to mp3) keeps the owners of mp3
> "honest".  If Fraunhofer decided one day that all mp3 users must pay them a
> licensing fee (the classic submarine patent attack), everyone would say "no
> way, I'll just switch to ogg and to heck with your stupid licensing fee".
> So Fraunhofer is "kept honest" by ogg.  That is to say, the mp3 patent
> submarine is effectively kept at bay, thanks to ogg.  In the same way, I'd
> like to see an alternative architecture like ARM "keep honest"
> i386/amd64/ia64 wrt *general purpose home computing*.  So call me paranoid,
> but I think ARM (being an architecture with a bright future) can help to
> keep Big Brother at bay.

All the arm designs I have seen are much more suitable to embedded use
than a home computer use.  The PPC makes much more sense for a home
computer than the arm does.  I am not sure how having lots of different
PC makers, and a few different x86 processor makers, isn't enough to
keep that market honest.  Being able to run windows seems to currently
be what makes the hardware available at commodity prices.

> In summary, I like general purpose computers, and if things continue the way
> they are (think DMCA, Homeland security, Patriot Act I and II), then general
> purpose, non-big-brotherized computers may become an endangered species in
> only a few years.  I like the flexibility to install whatever software I
> want, so as to come up with new ways of doing things on a computer.  I don't
> want computers to become mere corporate-agenda appliances, which I think
> will be the eventual effect of limiting technologies like DRM and NGSCB.
> Where is the room to innovate on an appliance?  I want my computer to do my
> bidding 100%, not the bidding of corporations or the government.

Remember the P3 serial number?  How long did it take before that was
defaulted to off on all systems sold after people found out about it?  I
think the DRM hardware may go the same way on PCs.

Len Sorensen

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