[TAG] "I'll do it myself, thanks" open-source app: Gobby (cf. SubEthaEdit)
Benjamin A. Okopnik
ben at linuxgazette.net
Wed Nov 2 04:17:52 MSK 2005
On Tue, Nov 01, 2005 at 04:12:59PM -0800, Rick Moen wrote:
> Quoting Benjamin A. Okopnik (ben at linuxgazette.net):
> > If you can explain what I'm missing, I'd be grateful.
[ snip ]
> The normal operating environment had the most amazing job of shoehorning
> drivers and processes into the 386/40's 1 MB real-mode address space
> (out of the 4MB total EEMS expanded memory) that you'll ever see: I was
> able to cram QEMM, DesqView, special FOSSIL serial drivers and secure
> ANSI video drivers, a TCP/IP stack(!), and a full-blown multinode
> BinkleyTerm/RBBS-PC environment into that tiny amount of RAM -- and have
> it utterly reliable and all maintenance automated -- and even have it
> documented so the entire thing was comprehensible.
To derail my own thought process for a while: *WOW*, in technical terms.
:) I've _done_ this, or at least a large part of it, inside of those (or
similar) limitations, and am aware of the mountains of associated
problems. I remember being pathetically grateful to Russell Nelson's
CRYNWR drivers & TCP/IP stack after trying it approximately 2,564,353
other ways. However, I never documented it; nobody would have believed
> But I'd spotted the pattern: The more I became directly involved with
> open-source Unix, the more control, autonomy, and stable, consistent
> presence on the Internet I enjoyed. The better I understood that
> technology, the more I was able to protect and extend that control and
I say again, _hmm._ Not a 'hmm' of doubt, but of serious contemplation
of the topic.
I see your point. I strongly agree with it: I can't argue against it,
because it's at the core of what I believe. My problem is that, due to
the way I live, I don't have access to the services that allow you to
maintain that autonomy; for me, the choice often comes down to "be on
the consumer end or forget about having the service." Up until very
recently, all of my communications at home were done via Nextel, at
1okB/S or less; as of yesterday, I have a Verizon card that promises DSL
speeds (yeah, right. But it *is* a lot faster than the Nextel was.) If I
tell Nextel, or now Verizon, to take a long walk off a short pier, then
I don't get to be on the Net at all - unless I take a mile-long hike to
a cafe where I can connect (sometimes, when their notwork is up) *if* I
In a way, it's sorta like being disabled. There's only so much autonomy
you can have before you have to ask your nurse to wheel you over to the
stand with the pills. Yeah, in theory, nurses and doctors are fungible.
In practice, it just doesn't work. You saw what I went through when I
was trying to run my own mail server - dammit, I *wanted* that bit of
autonomy! - and it came down to "no can do" because I didn't have
anything like reasonable connectivity.
I live on a boat, (usually) disconnected from land; that's not something
that's going to change, except perhaps in the direction of "less
connected" - at some point in the future, I'll be doing the Panama
Canal, etc. to sail over to California, and will likely be out of touch
most of that time. The wireless solutions, up until recently, were
either a) ridiculously expensive ($40k+ for Inmarsat M, a lot cheaper
for Inmarsat C if I wanted 2400Bps. Gee, thanks...) or b) technically
infeasible (many of them required kilowatts of juice to run.) My options
came down to, well, lack of autonomy or simply not having the service.
That's a damn bitter choice, but it's what's on the table in front of
me - given the other choices that I've made.
> And here's the thing: Both our individual and collective Internet
> presences express _our_ identity and promote _our_ interests, and aren't
> subject to control, interference, whimsically imposed third-party
> advertising, sudden cancellation, third-party bankruptcy / changes of
> business model.
[ sigh of envy ]
> And there I stand. The _only_ third-party service I rely on is
> unfiltered IP routing, and that's fungible and purchasible from anyone
> -- and equally fungible DNS registration that's heavily protected and
> paid many years in advance. Anyone who tries to dislodge, threaten,
> manipulate, or manipulate my presence and writings on the Net with
> anything short of an uncontested court judgement is in for a rude shock:
> The only place to complain about me or my users is not to some twitchy
> corporate manager but rather directly to _me_, the guy who reads law
> books, takes only careful risks, looks out for his users, and really
> _hates_ being pushed around.
> (My mother, during my teenage years, declined to be pushed around by
> various Boeing Company agents, and I'm very much my mother's son in
> certain ways -- and have a lot of my key interests mediated via the
> Net. ;-> Even Google and the Internet Archive sometimes silently
> purge contents to appease special interest pressure -- see
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Clambake -- but I do not.)
Well, Rick... you've made some awesome lemonade from those early lemons.
I'm glad and proud to know you.
> Every time I decline to use some third-party, usually proprietary
> service that I can reasonably do with Linux and open source on my own
> systems, instead, I am protecting and promoting the perception by
> onlookers that Linux and open source are the right solution -- not to
> mention improving my own competence. Internet services are supposed to
> be the Linux community's core competency: What sort of message does it
> send to go moving our affairs onto other people's third-party services
> as a convenience, in an area where we're supposed to be the leaders?
It comes down to a question of owning that kind of resources. I have no
way to offer, e.g., Flickr-like services on any server that I control;
my web stuff is hosted on a BSD system at Freeshell.org, and I have no
more control over that than I do over Flickr. Use it, and put up with
that lack of control? Or deny myself the (admittedly minor) bit of fun
at nearly zero cost? That way lies a fairly grim existence.
There are, undeniably, services which promote a pernicious model, and
they _should_ be shunned - even at a high cost (i.e., I don't shop at
Walmart, even though it costs me more to shop elsewhere.) However, I
simply _can't_ draw the line as low as I wish; at a certain point, the
cost becomes too high.
> On the other hand, it's not just an Internet
> service but also a form of community, and both as mentioned have
> traditionally been the Linux community's core competency. So, we're
> going to buy that from others? Really? Have we no sysadmins and
> software architects among us? I rather think we do.
[Nod] TAG is one of my favorite corners of the Net. There are many
reasons for this, but many of them are implicit in the above.
> I have little confidence that I've covered the core of my concern, in
> the above, as I fear it's based primarily on instinct and the deep-down
> lessons of personal computing history. However, I hope at least you
> find parts of it interesting.
Rick, I found all of it fascinating. It's good material for doing some
reflection about, a bit of impetus to explore my own stance on these
issues, perhaps even a few thoughts about what I *can* do in my
situation. Thank you for taking the time and the effort; I truly do
(All this beside the pleasure of reading from someone intelligent,
erudite, and armed with excellent diction. Sheesh, where's the downside
of this scenario?)
>  Anyone who thinks the software industry customer model (and, by
> extension, Internet hosting) doesn't entail a power relationship hasn't
> been paying attention. This extends down to the concepts and terms
> used: I've several times demurred at being characterised as a
> "consumer", pointing out that a model that reduces me to a digestive
> tract is a poor place to start. I've suggested that I'm better
> characterised as "producer" -- or, depending on context, "citizen".
Heh. I'll keep that in mind; I've always wondered about the vague unease
of that description when aimed me-ward. It always sounded like "victim
of advertisement" to me.
* Ben Okopnik * Editor-in-Chief, Linux Gazette * http://linuxgazette.net *
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