Thursday, March 27, 2008

It Smells Like Fedora in Here

Fedora installed. Fedora uninstalled. Too much freedom for me, unfortunately.

Fedora's freedom mantra would mean a lot more if it were coming from anyone besides RedHat -- a company that in my mind used the GPL to build its user base and then cut us all off with some copyright legalese mumbo jumbo. The Fedora project was born out of one of the most bogus moves ever pulled by a commercial distribution as far as I'm concerned. (yeah, I used RH9 on servers. yeah, dumb, I know that now)

A simplified version of the history of Fedora: 1) Red Hat produces, for years and years and years, one of the most popular, absolutely free, Linux distributions. 2) Red Hat yanks the rug out and discontinues Red Hat Linux at version 9. They end support for RH9 after a very small number of months (12?). The only supported upgrade path is to the commercial-only Red Hat Enterprise Linux distribution. They put their name all over the source and hide behind copyright to make it hard for anyone to copy, although they still do (e.g. White Box Linux). 3) Red Hat launches Fedora, a free community based "bleeding edge" distribution. Essentially, a beta for RHEL that people are suckered into using. That's how it went down from my perspective; feel free to correct me.

So why did I try it? Some jackass on LUG Radio uses it. Besides, I'm desperate at this point.

Anyhow, Fedora worked ok but installing anything that goes against the freedom of freeness and true community freedom is a serious pain in the ass. The simplest way to get the non-free stuff seems to be the Livna repositories which, unfortunately, and not unexpectedly, suck. More errors than SCO lawsuit. I decided to scrap the whole thing when installing flgrx errored out because it requires a kernel version that is not yet included with Fedora 8. No thanks fellas, I'm not playing.

(I don't know if it's something about the workings of RPM in general, but I always end up with update errors from RPM-based distributions)

You know, I don't really want to rant too much here (yes I do), but the whole "information wants to be free" freedom freeness business really chaps my ass. Not so much the concept, but this:

Freedomer: "Here is our free as in speech software. This information is free as the wind as all information should be!"

Me: "Hey, thanks... oh wait, when I try these simple tasks the system pukes, can you help me?"

Freedomer: "Oh I'm sorry, THAT information is not the kind of information that wants to be free."

Me: "But you said...freedom...information...can you just tell me how...."

Freedomer: "Oh well we don't even write that information down. It's all up *here*, you see. Think of it as a service. Make sense?"

Me: "Well sorta... but I'm all pumped up with these feelings of being free. It's almost like the whole world makes sense again. People are really good at heart and..."

Freedomer: "Listen, if we keep this up much longer you'll have to purchase some Information-Extraction Service Minutes. We have several plans, and some are not too much more than the cost of your commercial applications."

Me: "Oh, well I was...ok...but I'm..."

Freedomer: "You see, software is just a tool. A means to an end, you see. Tools are free. Instruction manuals cost money. Are you not familiar with how this works. Ever been to a little place known as The Home Depot?

Me: "Sure but...sorry, I guess I..."

Freedomer: "Listen, you haven't even paid us anything. What do you expect? It's free! I mean, sure, we believe that it's better than anything else out there, but still, you can't expect us to help you get it running without puking all over your system unless you're going to pony up some dough."

Me: "Yebut..."

Freedomer: "Why don't you try our community. The community is what we're all about. Community. Freedom. Information. Tools. Freedom. Our community is always happy to help. We just love helping people."

Me: "Ok, well than can you please help me? Like on a personal level? Buddy to buddy? Please."

Freedomer: "Oh I suppose so. What do you want."

Me: explains problem

Freedomer: "Oh sheesh! RTFM already! It's so obvious!"

Me: "But the manual doesn't really address my problem and..."

Freedomer: "Then buy the damn book already! The information in the book is all free once you buy it."

Me: "I think I'm going to go buy a Mac."

Freedomer: "Oh, and don't forget to notice the Paypal Donation button on our website. Your donations are what keep the community truly free."

Me: "Thanks. And please tell your sales team to stop cold calling me. No, I DON'T have any projects coming up in the next six months god damnit. I'm too busy installing Linux distributions to find one that supports two pieces of very popular hardware without having a cow."

Freedomer: "Oh you need to RTFM maybe."

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