[PD] (Facts Please !) a mac or pc with Linux for PD

Marc Lavallée odradek at videotron.ca
Mon Dec 15 18:27:31 CET 2003

Hi Ken.

On Sun, Dec 14, 2003 at 09:08:14PM -0800, Ken wrote:
> Linux is anything but tranparent, let alone "fully-functional".

It is transparent, because you are allowed to look at the source code. It
is functionnal, but again, "fully" is a vague concept that depends on
what's expected, and the quality of interaction between the user and the
technology, where the user is more responsible than we tend to accept.

> I have spent much time in Linux over the years and I have come to the evil
> conclusion, that a hundred dollars or two spent to have a working machine 
> is years added to my life.  

Gnu/Linux is usually not life threatening. 
Maybe you hate Gnu/Linux too much.

> I don't have unlimited time to spend on hacking hardware, that will soon 
> be obsolete anyways,  compiling/recompiling, ad nauseum etc.  

Me neither. But I prefer obsolescence that I'm allowed to understand, even
if I don't in the first place. Besides, I don't have to recompile ad
nauseum; you should simply upgrade, then hack later when you feel like it.  
You have a limited experience with Gnu/Linux (two years is a good start),
but it's not too late.

> I would rather just buy something, hard or soft, that will
> work from the get-go than hope some hacker figures how to make it
> semi-function 2 years later.  

If paying makes you feel better, then buy a good Gnu/Linux distribution,
or pay someone who can help. If you can't use Gnu/Linux now, install it
later as a second boot option; but I would not recommend that, because if
you value your time, you better learn to use Gnu/Linux now: even two years
"later", in most situation, is a better investment. You have a lot of
external pressure that makes it difficult for you to invest more time in
free software; this is a common situation, but don't definitely give up.

> A good tool, if it does the job, is a good tool, wherever it comes from.

Technology is not neutral. Maybe swiss technology is...

> My loyalty is now on its functionality. 

It's a bit servile. I hope you'll change your mind.

> Show me something in Linux that can get anywhere near replacing 
> my Sonar and Virtual Sampler.

I don't know about these applications, but I'm sure they are designed to
make their users plain happy, at least for a little while. I can't show
you perfect replacements; this is not why free software exists.

The Gnu/Linux audio applications web site:
The Planet CCRMA web site:

> Another observation is that even the shareware/freeware apps on Win 
> are far easier to install, and most often way more functional and easier 
> to use than most on Linux.  

This is a common observation, but not true: I can easily install dozens of
applications in one single command. "easier" is a very relative concept,
just like "fully-functional". It all depends on the tools, the resources,
the users and the skills.

> I feel that the competition, brought on by money is what fuels this.

There's also a lot of competition in the free software movement. Money is
not the only way to fuel competition and motivate people.

> Witness just the soft-synth market.  Check out the number of programs.  
> Check out Crystal as a freeware soft, for an example of the
> quality of "freeware".

Freeware is called "gratuiciel" in French. Free as in beer, not freedom.
The intrinsic quality of a freeware application, from a user point of
view, is not enough to overcome the fact that it's not free as in freedom.

> Linux looks like an old horse trying to catch up.

Gnu/Linux is not competing directly on the soft-syth market: it's mostly a
kernel, completed with essential components to build free operating
systems often called "distributions".

Some people write audio applications for Gnu/Linux, and some of them
probably never recompiled a kernel. Many programmers don't have a clue how
computers and operating systems works, yet they can write good enough
applications. If we want those programmers to write free audio
applications (for any OS, not only Gnu/Linux), they must understand why
free software is important, and for some of them find ways they can get
money out of it, if this is one of their primary motivations.

> In fact, it seems that most Linux heads are too busy building
> software/systems than expressing themselves creatively, or perhaps that is
> their true aim and pursuit.

Yes, those heads are aiming at providing a free and good computing
environment, because computing is an important part of our contemporary
culture. It's also a sort of creative expression. Some hackers makes music
too. But some musicians also hack, and they enjoy it.

> I like the ideals of Linux, don't get me wrong, but it seems that the only
> way this is going to work is if the whole world/system is free also.

Freedom is not only about money, but money is not incompatible with
freedom, right? I also think the world should be free, by making sure
knowledge is accessible to anybody, anywhere. The Free Software Movement
is inspiring many people who are not computing heads; it makes them
realize the problems with patents and monopolies, for example, also in
domains like bio-technology.

> Existence must be free, like any wild animal, for Linux to make sense.
> As long as money is demanded of us, we need money, i.e. $MS.

Your conclusion is dangerous and irresponsible; you are legitimating
monopolies by claiming that our existence as free citizens is bounded by
money more than anything else. The social contract proposed by monopolies
is suicidal. Animals have good survival skills, but most are now in
danger, like us.

> Meanwhile, I'm going to continue to try and express and communicate this
> predicament to as many as will listen using Sonar/MAX/Vsamp and a couple
> other minor players.  Good luck....
> Ken

Anyway, you should at least pay credit to free software, because MacOSX is
based on freeBSD, and Max/MSP on PD. Good programmers working on your
favorite products probably rely on an extensive knowledge of free

Thanks for your comments.

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