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Re: Well I am in XFCE for right now since LDXE keeps crapping out

On Fri, Apr 25, 2014 at 1:12 AM, Steve Litt <slitt@troubleshooters.com> wrote:
> I wrote the following essay about the point made in the preceding
> paragraph:
> http://www.troubleshooters.com/tpromag/200104/200104.htm#_editors_desk

Time changes many things. For the most part, switching to Linux is far
easier now than it was in 2000/2001; I've migrated the members of my
family with only a few issues of "How do I do XYZ?", and the biggest
piece of XYZ wasn't technically a Linux issue (at the same time as
that, I also cut out all Windows Networking, opting instead to have a
git repository of household documents; if I'd wanted to, I could have
just deployed Samba on all systems and let them use file sharing, but
(a) that risks file locking issues and consequent corruption, and (b)
I wanted a full-history repository anyway, so git was the way to go).
And I could have done a near-transparent changeover of our video
hosting from Windows to Linux, except that I didn't understand that
the S-Video spec wasn't going to do 1024x768.

At the same time, Windows has had a decade to demonstrate that it
needs at least some measure of interoperability (at least with itself)
in order to maintain its monopoly. I don't think we'll see a new
version of MS Word that's unable to import documents from previous
versions of Word, for instance. So the theory of "Who owns your data?"
may still be valid, but ten years of letting Microsoft own your data
haven't shown up any solid business reasons for denying it them; in
fact, if you ask that question around the traps today, most people
will think you're talking about Google or Facebook, not the
manufacturer of your desktop system's software. (And that's also a
legit concern, of course. But a separate one.)

But there's one topic that probably would never have come up ten years
ago, and it's a huge point in favour of free software: Virtual
machines. If I have a valid, licensed copy of some OS, am I allowed to
install it on a VM inside one of my other computers?

* Linux? Well, duh. :)
* Windows? There are some special cases that allow something like four
VMs on a single license, but I haven't dug into the details. You have
to license based on the number of processor cores you're using, etc,
etc, etc. Read the full details before getting too confident.
* Mac OS? You're allowed to virtualize but ONLY under Apple hardware.

I'm pretty sure you can legally take a standard desktop Windows
license and use that on a single VM. Most of the complexity of Windows
VM licensing is aimed at servers, where you might not even have them
all running all the time; but the fact remains that there *is* a lot
of complexity. And Apple put restrictions in that mean it's illegal to
build a box from generic components, install Linux on it, install
VMWare or VirtualBox, and then put a Mac inside it.

And that's just for putting a single VM in. I was talking to someone a
while ago about solving a problem by using virtual machines - lots and
lots of them. Having previously solved similar problems in a similar
way, I thought nothing of the idea of using the VirtualBox "Linked
Clone" feature to create myriad very similar VMs, run as many of them
concurrently as RAM will allow, and progressively solve the problem;
but that's with Linux, where I know that's within the license terms.
With Windows? That's another few hundred licenses required, right
there. (Although it could be argued that a Linked Clone, being
fundamentally a snapshot that you can restore to, isn't creating a new
machine at all; so you might need only as many licenses as you run
concurrently. But that's one for the lawyers to dig into.)

The trouble with advocating an overall free environment is that most
people will never use any particular freedom. (How many of you here
have dug into the source code of, say, Open SSL, to see if you can
find a bug? I certainly haven't - and I probably wouldn't have spotted
Heartbleed's cause if I had.) Boasting that you can do X, Y, and Z
isn't going to sway someone who does't want to do any of those three
things. What difference will it make to the typical home user that
s/he has, or does not have, the rights to edit the source code for the
desktop web browser? It's not going to happen anyway. How do you
encourage someone to take a walk in the big wide world, when he's much
happier staying inside all day? (Hey, that's me...) Freedom *on its
own* is actually quite useless to most people.


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