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Hack for the community!

By Refrag in Culture
Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 08:29:42 PM EST
Tags: Technology (all tags)
Technology

Hackers have a great sense of community, I just wish that more of their time was spent benefiting the community. Should it be?


I know that hacking the iOpener seems like a great thing to do for a lot of the audience out there, but I feel that it is really out of frugality that one does it. It doesn't serve a great purpose to the community at large. Basically it allows a few of the more frugal in the community to get a really cheap computer. And in the process it seems, it's also helped drive Netpliance out of the business -- at least somewhat.

The point to that is that this isn't where hackers should be focusing their efforts. Partially because it doesn't benefit the rest of the community so much, partially because it gives hackers a bad name. ("Ooooo, those bad hackers, they cheated Netpliance out of their hard earned money.") What people with the talent and the motivation should be working on is hacks that will benefit more people.

I ran across a device recently that is only supported for Macs. I'm not anti-Mac, I just don't happen to have one right now. But, I think this is one of the things that hackers should spend their time working on. Porting great devices to other OSes when their creator's lacked the foresight to. I'm specifically referring to the Keyspan IR Card. The Keyspan IR Card "allows a Macintosh to send infrared commands to televisions, VCRs, DVD players, CD changers, and other home theater components".

But it shouldn't just be limited to that, or even to devices of that nature. There are many, many devices out there that are religious to certain operating systems. I personally wish there was some way that all devices could be platform independent, but there isn't. I wish that companies would support more than one OS in many cases, but they don't. This is where I feel that hackers could provide a real service. And not just their own community of hackers and other computer geeks, but to anyone that uses computers.

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Poll
What do you think hackers should be doing?
o Hacking loss-leaders to make ultra-cheap Web terminals? 8%
o Writing device drivers for alternate OSes? 17%
o Porting applications or creating clones. 21%
o Testing security. 10%
o Breaking security. 5%
o Something else... or nothing. 35%

Votes: 103
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o hacking the iOpener
o Netpliance out of the business
o Keyspan IR Card
o Also by Refrag


Display: Sort:
Hack for the community! | 32 comments (28 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
their limits are not our responsibility (4.36 / 11) (#3)
by Arkady on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 04:04:58 PM EST

I don't agree with an assertion that we _should_ be doing ports or drivers for commercial groups who don't do them themselves, though helping non-commercial groups who can't afford to do the port themselves does seem a responsible option. If a commercial application exists which hasn't got an analogous app on a free OS, writing a clone is a better choice; why should they get our labor for free?

That said, I don't think we should be cloning applications which do support the free systems. My only complaint about Free Software is that it allows no room for the author to make a living from writing code. Most of the authors end up in consulting about their app or (like, say, Larry Wall) paid by a company which is making money from their app to continue development.

This model is fundamentally unfair to the author, just as the venture capital model is unfair by weighting returns from development towards those providing money rather than expertise. We need a new development model that can assist authors in making a living directly from their work without forcing them to either find coporate sponsors or whoring themselves out to the advertisers and venture capitalists.

[Thanks for the reformatted version, by the way. ;-)]

Cheers,
-robin

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


I agree, somewhat... (3.40 / 5) (#5)
by Refrag on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 04:14:12 PM EST

I definately don't think that hackers should be silent servants for lazy companies.

However, I do feel that their time is better spent writing a device driver for Linux (or even Windows) for a device that was intended for another environment than repurposing something like the iOpener. Sure, it helps a few people get a really cheap box for their kitchen, bathroom, or whatever but it also either gives hackers a bad name when it hits the press, or forces the company out of the business because their loss-leader isn't leading (or both). And if that happens the hack that they spent so much time on is of no use anymore because you can't buy an iOpener any more.

IMhO


Refrag

Kuro5hin: ...and culture, from the trenches
[ Parent ]

no use? (2.33 / 3) (#23)
by Michael Leuchtenburg on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 06:23:24 PM EST

All those hacked iOpeners are still working, right? I think that's useful, don't you?

The hack wasn't "for the benefit of others". It was so the hacker could use the iOpener as an X server.

[ #k5: dyfrgi ]
[ TINK5C ]
[ Parent ]

GPL (2.50 / 6) (#8)
by Refrag on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 04:19:27 PM EST

The GPL has become very popular recently. It allows people to use code which has been published under. However, it also restricts that anything you do with the code must be given back to the community.

Following this same philosophy, I feel that hackers should be expending their efforts on hacks that benefit the greater community and not solely their wallet.

After all, isn't that what we get pissed at companies for doing? Ignoring the community; paying attention only to the bottom line?

Refrag

Kuro5hin: ...and culture, from the trenches
[ Parent ]

GPL is one side of the problem (4.40 / 5) (#16)
by Arkady on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 04:55:39 PM EST

The GPL is great, in that it prevents a user from abusing the author's intent in releasing software freely into the world. The problem, though, is that it leaves no wiggle room in which the author can survive.

The free software bidding systems that have come online recently are a good start towards the user community helping authors make a living from producing software, but they're not used nearly enough for anyone to make more than spare change from working through them.

If you want to suggest reponsibilities the community should take on, I think we should start with a discussion of how the community can help authors pay their bills while producing software for us to use. If we can solve that issue amongst ourselves, the same solution could be applied to the production of music and literature as well; this would be a strong first step towards the hacker community contributing to the larger world.

Of course, I also agree that we should be looking at the wider implication of the sorts of hacking we get up to, as you are suggesting. I just don't think that a problem in our relationship with the larger world is as important as a problem in our relationships within the community. ;-)

Cheers,
-robin

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


[ Parent ]
GPL isn't the problem. (4.20 / 5) (#21)
by B'Trey on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 05:58:08 PM EST

The GPL is great, in that it prevents a user from abusing the author's intent in releasing software freely into the world. The problem, though, is that it leaves no wiggle room in which the author can survive.

The GPL makes no restrictions on what the author can do with his code. I can write a program, release it under the GPL, and simultaneously sell it to someone else under any license I choose. The buyer can take the code, include it in a proprietary app or anything else as specified under the license under which they purchased the code. If it's my code, I own it, I can do what I like with it. GPL restricts what OTHERS can do with my code, and what I can do with someone else's code. But it doesn't restrict the author at all.

[ Parent ]

indirect restrictions (4.80 / 5) (#22)
by Arkady on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 06:15:01 PM EST

The restrictions the GPL places on the original author are indirect; you're certainly correct that it places no explicit restrictions there. They cannot, to follow your example, make any money by relicensing it to someone, when all that potential licensee needs to do is download and use the free copy (though you are correct that relicensing for _proprietary_ reuse may be feasible; for example, you could relicense for use in a device like the TiVo).

The problem with the GPL is largely its popularity in the geek world; this leads to aspersions being cast at anyone who tries to release an app (or other software) with isn't utterly free. It's a great license for authors who don't want to make any money from their work, but you can't use it if you want to be able to quit your day job to write or maintain open software. If the GPL were recognized as a good license for completely free software without that being used to pressure authors towards using it, it'd be great. As it is, the popularity of the GPL has conditioned the geek usership to the attitude that software authors should think of their work as a donation to the "community" and expect to receive nothing back from this community except fame.

If you actually want to pay your rent by writing code, you have to either get a day job, grovel with investers or write something so outrageously amazing (like the Linux kernel or Perl) that someone (who's making money directly from it, as RedHat does with Linux, or indirectly, as O'Reilly does with Perl) will pay your bills so they can keep raking in the dough from your work.

This is a ludicrous way for a "community" to treat its contributing members. It's particularly ludicrous for the geek community to have so many outspoken liberation capitalists (those "the market will set you free" types), when it flatly refuses to compensate even its best and brightest producers for their efforts.

-robin

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


[ Parent ]
Not so restrictive (4.00 / 1) (#31)
by B'Trey on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 01:19:41 PM EST

The restrictions the GPL places on the original author are indirect; you're certainly correct that it places no explicit restrictions there. They cannot, to follow your example, make any money by relicensing it to someone, when all that potential licensee needs to do is download and use the free copy (though you are correct that relicensing for _proprietary_ reuse may be feasible; for example, you could relicense for use in a device like the TiVo).

Anyone who wants to use your code in a project not covered in the GPL may license it from you. It isn't restricted to use in proprietary devices. For one example, ID software released the Quake engine under the GPL. If you use it to create a game, that game must be released under the GPL or you must license the engine from ID under a different license. Granted, the Q1 engine is a bit dated for comercial game use, but the principle stands. MySQL is avialable under the GPL or as a commercial license.

The problem with the GPL is largely its popularity in the geek world; this leads to aspersions being cast at anyone who tries to release an app (or other software) with isn't utterly free.

Sorry, but I simply don't see this. There are a number of commercial apps available for Linux. To name just a few: Aplixware, Wordperfect 8, Wingz spreadsheet (free for personal use, pay for commercial use), etc.

[ Parent ]

I _said_ it was indirect ... ;-) (3.00 / 1) (#32)
by Arkady on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 06:53:34 PM EST

I most certainly didn't say that the GPL directly restricted the author's ability to re-license or that there were no commecrial products at all; I said that it did it indirectly and that this creates pressures on the producer making it difficult for them to get paid to produce.

How many non-GPL users are there for Q1? for MySQL? The users of free operating systems have been conditioned to think that it should all be free hence, if they don't have to, they won't pay. This makes it very difficult to make a living producing non-copy protected software for those platforms.

You seem to think that the users don't pressure producers to make their software free under the GPL, so I went and did some searching on /.:

According to this /. story, the Wingz folks aren't charging for the Linux version. And from the /. story on Wordperfect's comments:

Figure it out, Corel. You aren't going to win at this game, and please don't claim that you are supporting linux or free software in general while you are trying. You can GPL the product and make money, just figure out how.
Note that the commenter is pissed that it's not GPL, insists that they could still make money if it were but, curiously, doesn't say how ... ;-)

I said that there were pressures placed on producers and these commemts bear that out. These users are conditioned by the commonness of GPLd software to complain that these producers want to make money off their products. That is a side-effect of the GPLs popularity, though not of the GPL itself; I'm not blaming Stallman or anything.

-robin


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


[ Parent ]
GPL's requirements. (3.50 / 4) (#19)
by B'Trey on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 05:52:57 PM EST

However, it also restricts that anything you do with the code must be given back to the community.

The GPL requires no such thing. I can take GPL'd code, hack it to my heart's content, and never give a think back to the community. What I can't do is take GPL'd code, hack away at it, then release it as a proprietary app. I can't take your hard work, and use it for my own economic gain.

[ Parent ]

Re: GPL's requirements (2.50 / 2) (#27)
by Refrag on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 10:20:50 PM EST

I'm sorry, I did oversimplify the restrictions somewhat...

To clarify further if you redistribute your version of the original code you must give back to the community. If you use it for your own personal use you don't have to give anything back.

Refrag

Kuro5hin: ...and culture, from the trenches
[ Parent ]

They should be doing whatever they choose to do (3.35 / 14) (#4)
by error 404 on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 04:14:03 PM EST

and reaping the rewards or suffering the consequences or just having fun.

Not my place to tell others what to do.

..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

Duty of the community.... (2.66 / 9) (#7)
by jasonab on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 04:19:26 PM EST

That's absurd. The community has a duty to encourage or discourage certain activities. There's a big difference between control and constructive peer pressure.

jason

--
America is a great country. One of the freest in the world. -- greenrd
[ Parent ]
Duty must be chosen (4.60 / 5) (#14)
by Arkady on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 04:47:24 PM EST

The community can't be reasonably said to have any duty it hasn't collectively chosen. Anything imposed isn't a duty; it's an exertion of power over the community by whoever's doing the imposing.

The hacker community has historicaly been very resistant to any impositions, especially those along the lines of imposing a "duty". There isn't even any widespread agreement on the social models for software development; consider the "Free Software" vs. "Open Source" debate as an example.

I think the community would benefit both itself and the outside world by agreeing that it has a duty to consider the social implications of its actions, but in the absence of such agreement, it's unreasonable to claim such a duty exists.

Cheers,
-robin

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


[ Parent ]
Re: Duty of the community (4.44 / 9) (#15)
by 2fish on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 04:52:40 PM EST

Personally, I feel absolutely no compulsion to help the community, and resent it when the "community" feels that it has some claim to my time. If I want to spend my time "repurposing" something, then that's me and my business. I don't care if you think it's not "helping the community", because that's not neccessarily my goal. That being said, if you want to donate your time and skill to the community, that's great. I like helping out too; I get the warm and fuzzies, and it's always nice to be appreciated. However, the idea that I have some "duty" to the community, or vice versa, is patently absurd.

Although it's not in the parent of this post, I saw one poster suggest that it is somehow wrong to worry about money. It is difficult to convey the extent to which comments like that infuriate me. Do you believe that time and other resources just magically appear? Thoughts like this typically go hand in hand with the idea that individuals somehow "owe" something to society/community/insert-favorite-collective-here. Please explain how one is supposed to "give back to the community" when it is somehow "immoral" to even have anything to give back.

2fish

Give me liberty, or give me death!
[ Parent ]
Rewards and consequences (3.00 / 1) (#30)
by error 404 on Fri Dec 01, 2000 at 09:48:37 AM EST

are about all the community can do to encourage and discourage.

Sure "the community" can encourage or discourage certain activities. But if you want to tell me what I should do when I get down to hacking at the end of a long day, well, bite me.

Feel free to suggest worthwhile projects. Feel very, very free to pay me to do things. Feel free to prosecute idiots who do destructive things. Don't tell me what I should do.

And no, I'm not some teenager objecting to being asked to do my part. I'm an all too responsible 40 year old who has to be ordered to take time off.
..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

Um, yes and no (3.58 / 12) (#9)
by smartbomb on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 04:22:09 PM EST

The point to that is that this isn't where hackers should be focusing their efforts. Partially because it doesn't benefit the rest of the community so much, partially because it gives hackers a bad name.

Okay, this is obviously the point people are going to pick up on. What is hacking? Hacking is indulging yourself. So should hackers be benefitting the community? Well, if they want to, yes. But if they don't, then no.

BTW, who gets to decide what "benefitting the community" would be?

Hacking is like commerce... (2.92 / 13) (#10)
by daystar on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 04:27:13 PM EST

It works best when undirected.



--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.
Complaint the statements on the iOpener (4.37 / 8) (#11)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 04:31:11 PM EST

I would contend that the number of hackers that bought an iOpener to hack instead of sign up for Netpliance's online service were a relatively small fraction (and possibly insignificant fraction) of Netpliance's target market. Netpliance's problem was the same problem that drives close to half of all start up companies out of business within the first five years. The problem is that the people running these companies vastly underestimate how much money it takes to stay in business.

Netpliance's general business plan was sound. Take a loss on the hardware in order to make a profit on the service. Their problem was the implementation, they underestimated how much money they would have to lose on the hardware in order to make the online service profitable enough to stay in business. Everyone that I know with an iOpener loves it. My seventy+ year old Grandma and Grandpa got online with it. In many stores, they were selling so well that they couldn't be kept in stock. I have a very hard time believing that a signficant portion of these were being bought be people intending to take them apart to use for an X terminal. Sure, there are more geeks than there were five years ago, but just two days ago I was explaining to someone I met on the bus what a "server" computer did. This person had asked me if working on a Unix system was anything like Windows boxes or Macs. The statement that not all computers are workstations only caused confusion.

Quite frankly, I'm surprised that AOL hasn't made a similiar device hardwired to their service yet. I suspect that it is only a matter of time before AOL is giving away terminals instead of cd's.

Gateway has an AOL terminal... :) (3.25 / 4) (#12)
by Refrag on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 04:35:06 PM EST

Firstly, read the subject.

Secondly, I didn't intend to make it seem that I was blaiming hackers for Netpliances problems. I'm not. But the media has, and that bad media may have contributed to some of their problems. Maybe they lost business deals because of it that would have brought in the required additional income.

However, it didn't do anything to help the image of hackers.

Refrag

Kuro5hin: ...and culture, from the trenches
[ Parent ]

You want that driver, not some "community&quo (3.57 / 14) (#13)
by rekcufrehtom on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 04:43:10 PM EST

This reminds me of the mid-90s, when all those whiners wanted a WYSIWYG word processor for Linux, but nobody would admit it - they all went "if Linux had a word processor, wouldn't that be great for the community". This is just too transparent.

Re: Keyspan IR Card (3.00 / 3) (#18)
by michaela on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 05:44:09 PM EST

While it looked interesting, why not just spend the same amount of money on a Pronto instead. Then you'll have a real remote control and be able to shelve the rest of your remote collection.
--
That is all
automating? (3.00 / 3) (#25)
by Potatoswatter on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 07:25:29 PM EST

I'm not sure what you would automate about your stereo, but that would seem to be the strength of hooking it up to a computer.

Automatically taping radio programs?

myQuotient = myDividend/*myDivisorPtr; For multiple languages in the same function, see Upper/Mute in my diary! */;
[ Parent ]

Hmm. (3.55 / 9) (#20)
by 3than on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 05:53:09 PM EST

The whole iOpener/Netpliance thing is a bigger deal than you make it. What they were doing, making you buy hardware with the idea of selling the service, was badly billed in its early stages--they didn't make it clear that the service was an integral part of the product. After they told the community that, it was obvious how far they'd gone out on a limb with it. Their scheme was a gamble from the beginning.
But an even bigger issue is the whole nest of ownership issues inherent to the iOpener. They contend that ownership of the hardware is contingent upon the service contract--an idea that I'm not comfortable with. Maybe you are, who knows. Now, MS and the other early software licensers basically slipped one over our heads when they redefined software 'ownership' as what is basically a lease/service agreement. Nowadays, people are a bit more aware of this sort of thing. Anyway, I think that this really is important to the community...it's not just about being cheap, but you seem to downplay the importance of cheapness. Cheap computers are a very important thing, and they will only be more important in the future.
Anyway, whatever.

What Community?!? (4.06 / 16) (#24)
by Carnage4Life on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 06:36:46 PM EST

I often heard the term Open Source Community bandied about loosely on Slashdot and other weblogs and have often wondered what exactly is supposed to mean?

A vast majority of the developers working on Open Source projects do not read or frequent the same weblogs as the most enthusiastic voices that are always chanting "Open Source this, Free Software that", as can be evidenced by the fact that you don't see Miguel De Icaza, Larry Wall, Alan Cox , ESR, RMS, or Linus Torvalds participating in these forums chanting about the Open Source Community. Secondly a vast majority of the hackers that tweaked the iOpener, the CueCat, etc are also not members of these popular weblogs that claim the be the fountainheads of the Open Source Community. In fact all one has to do is go back in the archives of certain weblogs and count exactly how many posts were made by anyone who actually hacked the hardware. Frankly the more I observe the more it seems that the only people who keep making noises about the Open Source Community are those that aren't contributing anything or are not participating

ran across a device recently that is only supported for Macs. I'm not anti-Mac, I just don't happen to have one right now. But, I think this is one of the things that hackers should spend their time working on.

I think you have misunderstood what hackers do and who hackers are. A hacker is simply some programming/hardware junkie who's found a cool way to do something and decides to share it with other likeminded individuals. This does not mean that everybody who hacks at a piece of hardware or gives away some software is a soldier in the GNU world army ready to die for RMS and the Open Source Community.

I'm really tired of seeing meaningless terms like Open Source Community being used in connotations where they make no sense. Who exactly is the Open Source Community? All the people who've ever given away software? All the people who've ever given away software on Linux? All the people who read Slashdot? All the people who hack loss leader hardware? All the people who use BSD and Linux?.

Frankly until someone can give me a definitive answer to the question, I don't see why anyone is obligated to some imaginary community that exists primarily in the rhetoric of unknowledgable script kiddies posturing on the pages of an Open Source tabloid.



Flying off the handle... (2.42 / 7) (#26)
by Refrag on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 10:15:08 PM EST

I don't believe I ever used the term "Open Source Community" in my post. In fact, going through and double-checking I never even used the term "open source".

I definately haven't misunderstood what a hacker is. But, it appears that you have completely missed the point of my post.

We expect corporations to give back to the community, yet whenever the opportunity arises for us to do the same people such as yourself say "screw everyone else, I'm in this for me."

Perhaps my example of creating drivers for the Keyspan IR Card does seem selfish, but it was the item that started the line of thought in my head.

Oh, and as for some examples of people that are in the community and are actively contributing there is John Carmack that makes the occasional post to Slashdot, and I do believe I've seen Alan Cox and Bruce Perens (the real one) post at least once.

Did I just feed a troll? *shudder*

Refrag

Kuro5hin: ...and culture, from the trenches
[ Parent ]

Why Must All Conflicting Opinions Be Trolls? (3.45 / 11) (#28)
by Carnage4Life on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 11:35:13 PM EST

We expect corporations to give back to the community, yet whenever the opportunity arises for us to do the same people such as yourself say "screw everyone else, I'm in this for me."

How the heck is hacking some company's device so that Refrag can use it in some way the company never intended giving back to the community? You're myopic view of what constitutes giving back or community is rather disheartening. For your information, examples of giving back to the community include
  1. Helping out in local schools with computer classes.


  2. Writing free software for local businesses, schools, hospitals, etc to use.


  3. Writing to your congressman/representative protesting UCITA or the DMCA and contributing your time to your elected official which will make them more favorable to [y]our cause.


  4. Donating to the EFF.

Note that nowhere did I mention hacking some bourgeoisie techno-toy and posting to some online tabloid about it.

Oh, and as for some examples of people that are in the community and are actively contributing there is John Carmack that makes the occasional post to Slashdot, and I do believe I've never seen Alan Cox and Bruce Perens (the real one) post at least once.

Bruce Perens posts all the time, but he's become more of a suit than a developer ever since leaving Debian. John Carmack posts replies to articles about him (as does Miguel De Icaza from Gnome). I've never Alan Cox post but I've only been reading Slashdot for just over 18 months so maybe he stopped recently.

The fact of the matter is a majority of the contributors to Open Source software are not found on Slashdot talking about "how M$ sucks" but are instead on mailing lists, on USENET and on SourceForge creating software not talking about it.

Did I just feed a troll? *shudder*

The recent trend on K5 where people denounce all opinions that run counter to theirs as trolls is juvenile and petty. Agree or disagree, don't call me a fucking troll simply because you can't muster a decent counter-argument.



[ Parent ]
Porting to other systems (3.50 / 6) (#29)
by jesterzog on Fri Dec 01, 2000 at 02:59:45 AM EST

I think I see what you mean, but I'm not sure I agree with all of your estimated outcome. Mostly I think hackers are already doing what you're proposing, and they're usually not getting good publicity for it:

I ran across a device recently that is only supported for Macs. I'm not anti-Mac, I just don't happen to have one right now. But, I think this is one of the things that hackers should spend their time working on. Porting great devices to other OSes when their creator's lacked the foresight to.

There are several examples (I guess the most prominent example being decss) where people have tried to do exactly that. The problem is that when companies often don't release specs because the reason it's only usable on certain platforms is because they wanted to be in control of how and where it's used. I don't agree with this personally.. to me it's like a ladder manufacturer saying you can only use its ladder on a certain type of wall. Companies often see software differently though.

Admittedly, Sony et al have other things they're worried about. They don't care about people reverse engineering their product nearly as much as what people can do with the information on it once they've done so. Even if that wasn't there though, many businesses just feel uneasy about people "understanding their systems". After all, they paid good money for the software side of it to be developed, and they feel as if nobody else should be able to use it. This sort of thing is very precious - particularly to managers I think - and is evidenced by the massive amount of software patents.

So if hackers put effort into porting devices to other OS's to benefit the community, they're essentially doing the same thing they're doing already anyway. ie. Porting devices to other OS's. These are primarily open source OS's, but obviously once there's an open source driver it's relatively easy to get it to any OS anyway.

The benefitting of the community from this is largely disguised by lawsuits and complaints from companies against hackers when they don't like their devices being ported. I think about the only way most people might think otherwise is when devices are ported to Windows. Unfortunately 99.9% of devices are supported by Windows already, and the majority of hackers don't use Windows themselves.

I'm not sure what the answer is to be honest. When a device like the cuecat comes out, it's only a matter of time before someone ports it to their own operating system whether it reflects badly on open source or not. I guess this answer is fairly obvious to a lot of people and I'm not sure if I've added much (I'm interested in clarification or counter arguments). I genuinely think the hacker community is already benefitting the community though - if in no other way, by making it more difficult for commercial to give themselves more control over people than they're legally (and morally?) entitled to.


jesterzog Fight the light


Hack for the community! | 32 comments (28 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
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