From Richard Storey on 15 May 1998
I am in the process of gearing up to install Linux and so forth on a new HD. I read a few days ago that Win modems, which I have in the form of a US Robotics 56k X2 voice modem, bla, bla, leave off some of the on-board chips which normally carry on some functions of the modem. The article said that the modem drivers take over these functions and pass the load over to the CPU. That's not good, but my thoughts are that if this is true and Windows is supposed to be running for these drivers will this keep me from being able to run the modem while in Linux?
I'm afraid you're stuck. Last I heard these companies won't release the specs. Don't buy any more of these modems and printers.
My fear is that a certain software company (no names but the initials are "Microsoft") will see the WinModems and WinPrinters as the amazing boon and raging success that they are (for MS OS') and encourage the development of more lobotomized, cut rate peripherals, components and whole systems.
Reading between the lines about Microsoft/Intel's PC98 "recommendations" (http://www.microsoft.com/hwdev/pc98.htm) I see plenty of opportunity for proprietary, non-disclosed software drivers to be required for system operation.
If I was a "mad scientist" and I wanted to control the PC marketplace and keep it safe from free software (open source or otherwise) I'd run the scam like this:
- Produce a complex spec that looks attractive to the average consumer, and to the busy reporter (or other trade press editor, writer, et al).
- Sneak in a number of compliance requirements that entail a fair amount of software/firmware support.
- Contract a team of HW engineers to design a number of ASIC's (Application Specific Integrated Circuits) that would be key components of this new architecture.
- Have my team of crack coders write up all the drivers that would be required for key products. These drivers would be interfaces between my chipsets and ASIC's and my OS(es).
- Offer these drivers freely to all of the hardware manufacturers under NDA. Carefully leave room for product differentiation in each category --- and make sure that all support for these forms of differentiation have to be built on my designs and integrated into my driver/libraries.
- Quietly apply pressure on them to refuse to disclose the details of their own hardware designs (by hinting that support for "non-compliant" devices will be a very low priority in your OS development efforts and "may not be possible or feasible").
(Note: I wouldn't be so crass as to outright threaten to close out access to my market for any rogue manufacturers --- I'd just make a show of engaging in lucrative cross- licensing and "stategic partnerships" with that vendors competitors).
- I'd keep my "crack team" of programmers on hand to provide free or low-cost "migration support" to "eligible and compliant" manufacturers. It would only cost their signature on the NDA line to get free programming help for their designs.
- I'd also build in plenty of "security" features for "anti-piracy" and "copy protection" (a la DVD encryption) and make those specs NDA and patented wherever possible.
- While I was at it I'd also patent everything in sight and I'd put plenty of political pressure on the U.S. Congress to support trade secrets and intellectual property legislation that would make it a felony for anyone to engage in open disclosure reverse engineering and security research (decryption efforts) on any commercial software products.
Not that any of this is happening.... or is it?
Hoping I'm not stuck with buying another modem right now.
Call USR and give them a piece of your mind. Let them know that you might be willing to let your CPU take the load IF you had some choice in what OS your system was running.
However, there is nothing in the hardware market today that is quite so odious has having no choice about the software that drives your peripherals. This is especially true of modems and printers which had been pretty reasonably standardized for almost 20 years (before the PC was even marketed by IBM we at Hayes AT command set for modems and printers that could take simple parallel text output).
|Free Software Users:
From Richard Storey on 18 May 1998
[Sorry for sending the whole thing back to you but I figured you must get ton of mail and don't always know who's is what!]
Yes, I do. However, a small excerpt is usually sufficient to jog the ol' noggin
Thanks for the essay. I never expected such a thoughtful and extensive
response. This choir says Amen! The Winmodem was in small print, but I
still, at that time didn't know that some of the functions were dumped off
to the software.
The funny thing is that IBM wrote the drivers for it and they are not working properly. I updated the modem's firmware to V.90 and now the comm/port gets hung up, requiring a reboot to reinstall on a regular basis. I spent 6 hours on the phone today with IBM tech support doing brain surgery on my system solve it to no avail. My next strategy is to get them to take it back.
Hmm. Typical. The firmware upgade probably doesn't work with the software drives.
Obviously you should do your best to get them to take it back. It isn't fullfulling your requirements. When enough of us as consumers can communicate our needs to enough vendors --- they will meet them, or other, new vendors will take over the niche.
Anyway, my next step is to plan out my software uses, make a full effort to
dump windoze entirely, and start a support group for former windows users
(the abused) and those who would like to get out of abusive relationships
with PC operating systems. )
Sounds like a veteran of some 12 step program.
. . .
- Admitted we were powerless over proprietary OS'
- Came to believe that access to source code could restore our systems to usability and stability.
- Made a conscious descision to turn our systems into workstations.(*)
... we could work on that list --- at the risk of giving offense....
There are some excellent Linux Users Groups forming across the world. There are also at least three actively maintained lists of LUGS:
There are also HOW-TO's on forming users groups (http://www.linuxresources.com/LDP/HOWTO/User-Group-HOWTO.html) and on "Advocacy" (http://www.linuxresources.com/LDP/HOWTO/mini/Advocacy.html). Finally there is a fairly new and relatively quiet mailing list for LUG organizers at: firstname.lastname@example.org (subscribe with an appropriate message to email@example.com and read the North Texas Linux Users Group web pages, http://www.ntlug.org/ for details).
- LUGR (LUG Registry)
- GLUE (Groups of Linux Users Everywhere)
- LUG List
- http://www.nllgg.nl/lugww/(*) This is an inside reference to the various 12 step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous. No, I'm not a member (and it would fly in the face of their traditions to announce it "at the level of press, TV, or radio"). However, I am close to a number of recovering addicts and alcoholics. You can find out more at:
- Alcoholics Anonymous Web Site
- ... and at an unofficial and more heartwarming site: