DRM og retten til at eje en computer

Cory Doctorow har en lang artikel på Boing Boing, hvor han forklarer hvorfor DRM aldrig vil virke, og hvorfor kampen for at gennemtvinge kopibeskyttelse og afbryde adgangen til The Pirate Bay og diverse andre “uønskede” hjemmesider kun kan lykkes, hvis man forbyder folk at have computere.

Doctorow sammenligner denne type lovgivning med den situation, der ville opstå, hvis man med henvisning til et stigende antal bankrøverier ville forbyde biler at have hjul. Det er et vigtigt argument. Artiklen er værd at læse i sin helhed, men nedenstående citat fanger en central politisk pointe:

The important tests of whether or not a regulation is fit for a purpose are first whether it will work, and second whether or not it will, in the course of doing its work, have effects on everything else. If I wanted Congress, Parliament, or the E.U. to regulate a wheel, it’s unlikely I’d succeed. If I turned up, pointed out that bank robbers always make their escape on wheeled vehicles, and asked, “Can’t we do something about this?”, the answer would be “No”. This is because we don’t know how to make a wheel that is still generally useful for legitimate wheel applications, but useless to bad guys. We can all see that the general benefits of wheels are so profound that we’d be foolish to risk changing them in a foolish errand to stop bank robberies. Even if there were an epidemic of bank robberies—even if society were on the verge of collapse thanks to bank robberies—no-one would think that wheels were the right place to start solving our problems.

However, if I were to show up in that same body to say that I had absolute proof that hands-free phones were making cars dangerous, and I requested a law prohibiting hands-free phones in cars, the regulator might say “Yeah, I’d take your point, we’d do that.”

We might disagree about whether or not this is a good idea, or whether or not my evidence made sense, but very few of us would say that once you take the hands-free phones out of the car, they stop being cars.

We understand that cars remain cars even if we remove features from them. Cars are special-purpose, at least in comparison to wheels, and all that the addition of a hands-free phone does is add one more feature to an already-specialized technology. There’s a heuristic for this: special-purpose technologies are complex, and you can remove features from them without doing fundamental, disfiguring violence to their underlying utility.

This rule of thumb serves regulators well, by and large, but it is rendered null and void by the general-purpose computer and the general-purpose network—the PC and the Internet. If you think of computer software as a feature, a computer with spreadsheets running on it has a spreadsheet feature, and one that’s running World of Warcraft has an MMORPG feature. The heuristic would lead you to think that a computer unable to run spreadsheets or games would be no more of an attack on computing than a ban on car-phones would be an attack on cars.

And, if you think of protocols and websites as features of the network, then saying “fix the Internet so that it doesn’t run BitTorrent”, or “fix the Internet so that thepiratebay.org no longer resolves,” sounds a lot like “change the sound of busy signals,” or “take that pizzeria on the corner off the phone network,” and not like an attack on the fundamental principles of internetworking.

The rule of thumb works for cars, for houses, and for every other substantial area of technological regulation. Not realizing that it fails for the Internet does not make you evil, and it does not make you an ignoramus. It just makes you part of that vast majority of the world, for whom ideas like Turing completeness and end-to-end are meaningless.

Læs det hele.

Lidt baggrund om den svenske “kopireligion” Kopimi

Fildeling og “piratkopiering” er nu anerkendt som religion i Sverige, med CTRL-C og CTRL-V som hellige symboler. Man må forstå, at juridiske indgreb mod The Pirate Bay fremover vil være at betragte som en krænkelse af religionsfriheden. Bag initiativet, der selvfølgelig skal betragtes som en slags spøg, ligger en elegant finte over for musik- og film-industriens “pirat”-bekæmpere:

In an interview in 2007 or 2008 (I believe, not sure about the date) the swedish lawyer for the MPAA, Monique Wasted, got a question about her views on the people advocating file sharing. Her answer was that “It’s just a few people, very loud. They’re a cult. They call themselves Kopimists.”

She called file sharers “a cult”. But she should know, because besides working for Hollywood she’s also been working as a swedish legal counsil for the church of Scientology. She has for instance helped them sue the swedish government over copyright infringement for putting their bible up as publicly viewable evidence in a court case.

It made me think that it might be benefits to look at what we do as a religious movement. One of the fun things working with The Pirate Bay has always been that we’ve started lots of fun crazy projects. Some work, some (most) fail. I started researching what kind of angle it would give us if we registered a religion.

When the Swedish state church was split from the government, a law about religions was passed to make it possible for anyone to get their religion accepted as long as they had some sort of organisation. The law states that the content of the religion itself is never tried, only that the organisation is there. The law is hence very wide and in order to not be abused for economical reasons, that part of the religion is a separate step, So you won’t get any money from the government (or tax benefits) without a lot of more bureaucracy. But that’s not interesting in this case.

The more interesting thing is that religions in general (I will not go into details here, it’s fun to find out for people in the end) are a bit more protected than political movements. In Sweden the law about freedom of religion is absolute – which means that no other law is higher. That means that laws that is designed to, for instance spy on you, might not be allowed if you commit yourself to your religious act.

In some religions (I don’t know about Kopimistsamfundet yet, maybe they can answer) there’s a Seal of Confession – which means that when you talk to a priest in the congregation, the priest have to keep what you say confidential. This is respected in some countries as law, where the courts can not make the priest testify against the individual. And some religions – at least the Mormons as far as I know – consider all members of the church to be a priest. This is probably the thing that I love the most with kopimism as a religion – we can have yet another form of P2P communication – Priest2priest. With no legal right for anyone to listen in to the conversation perhaps. This must be researched.

Since I’ve had a lot of things to do, projects to start, my church was never started. My working name for it was Church of Copying Kopimists (or short: C.O.C.K. just for the lulz). I told some friends about my idea and in the end they really liked it. This is one of the essential things with how the internet and kopimism works – if you don’t do it, someone else will. I didn’t have to do the work, since the idea that spread was good enough. After a year of iterations it actually worked.

Link: Kopimi as  religion

Overophedning af bærbar med Ubuntu 11.04

Jeg har en i grunden ret god bærbar computer (en Acer Aspire S740), der dog det sidste halve års tid har lidt under, at den bliver ganske umanerligt varm. Batteriet holder heller ikke længere så lang tid, som det burde. I nogle måneder har jeg troet, at det var fordi der samles støv ved blæseren, så den ikke ventilerer ordentligt. Men så kom jeg til at zappe ind på OMGUbuntu, hvor det fremgår, at det handler om en fejl i den måde, hvorpå Linux-kernen håndterer strømstyringen for Intel-CPU’er   og indbyggede Intel-grafikkort:

As of kernel 2.6.38 up until 3.1 (still present) there has been a problem of power regression but besides this I had slight problem with overheating. Regarding overheating in beginning I tried reporting bugs, tried different Thinkfan configurations, blamed proprietary software such as Adobe Flash for spiking up CPU temperature, however this problem was somewhat solved. After numerous battery calibrations and as these didn’t work in the end for battery life getting poorer with each day, I just blamed the factor that notebook  was getting pretty old (~3 years).

Then the consumer woke up inside of me and I thought it was time to get new notebook. I laid my eyes upon ThinkPad X1 thing of beauty except one mayor drawback, its price. I did some reading on X1 and interesting enough, X300 comes with Core Duo 2 L7100 but overheating + power regression was still present even on latest Intel Core I* series. Reading this killed the consumer and woke up the hacker side.

Den korte og ikke-tekniske forklaring er, at der i Ubuntu 11.04 blev introduceret en fejl i kernens måde at håndtere strømstyring for Intel-CPU’er. Denne fejl betyder, at computeren bruger for meget strøm og derfor bliver for varm. Dette betyder selvfølgelig også, at batteriet holder kortere tid pr. opladning. Men hvad kan man gøre ved det?

Det korte svar er, at der er lavet en rettelse i Linux-kernen, som formentlig vil komme med i Ubuntu 12.04, og som løser problemet.

Det lidt længere og mere tekniske svar er, at man kan tvinge kernen til at styre strømmen korrekt ved at introducere nogle parametre til kernen i opstartsmenuen. Hvis du har Ubuntu 11.04 og du har en bærbar med dette problem, kan du gøre som følger:

  • Åbn en terminal og åbn filen “/etc/default/grub” i din favorit-editor:
    sudo gedit /etc/default/grub
  • Erstat den linje, der begynder med GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT med denne:
    GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash pcie_aspm=force i915.i915_enable_rc6=1 i915.lvds_downclock=1"

    Det, som denne linje gør, er at tvinge systemet til at bruge  strømstyring (pcie_aspm=force) og får grafikkortet til at bruge mindre strøm.

  • Når du har gjort dette og har gemt filen, kan du i terminalen skrive:
    sudo update-grub

Alt. hvad du nu behøver at gøre er at genstarte, og problemet med overophedning vil være løst. På min egen computer faldt det gennemsnitlige strømforbrug i “tomgang” (blank skærm som pauseskærm) fra ca. 17W til ca. 12W, hvilket er en reduktion på mere end  30%. Her et par timer efter mærkes det meget tydeligt: Computeren er overhovedet ikke varm.  Og ja, det er lidt en skam at man som forbruger stadig er nødt til at forholde sig til den slags, men det har meget at gøre med den fart, hvormed GNU/Linux-systemerne og især Linux-kernen bevæger sig i disse år.

PC på størrelse med USB-drev, 25$ inkl. software

Raspberry Pi Foundation vil bygge en Ubuntu-PC til næsten ingen penge og på størrelse med en USB-stick:

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a UK registered charity (Registration Number 1129409) which exists to promote the study of computer science and related topics, especially at school level, and to put the fun back into learning computing.

We plan to develop, manufacture and distribute an ultra-low-cost computer, for use in teaching computer programming to children. We expect this computer to have many other applications both in the developed and the developing world.

Our first product is about the size of a USB key, and is designed to plug into a TV or be combined with a touch screen for a low cost tablet. The expected price is $25 for a fully-configured system.

How would you use an ultra-low-cost computer? Do you have open-source educational software we can use? Contact us at info@raspberrypi.org.

Provisional specification:

  • 700MHz ARM11
  • 128MB of SDRAM
  • OpenGL ES 2.0
  • 1080p30 H.264 high-profile decode
  • Composite and HDMI video output
  • USB 2.0
  • SD/MMC/SDIO memory card slot
  • General-purpose I/O
  • Open software (Ubuntu, Iceweasel, KOffice, Python)
Raspberry Pi device running Ubuntu 9.04
Raspberry Pi device with attached 12MPixel camera module

Via Boing Boing.

Ubuntu 9.10 – og hvad så?

Danny Piccirillo giver på Reddit.com en oversigt over de vigtigste ting, man med fordel kan gøre for at få systemet helt tip-top, når først man har installeret det:

DVD Playback

Most commercial DVDs are encrypted with Content Scrambling System (CSS), which attempts to restrict the software that can play a DVD. You’ll need to install libdvdcss if you want to play them. You can do so by first installing the libdvdread4 package via Synaptic Package Manager or Terminal.

Click here to install or use the following command:

sudo apt-get install libdvdread4

Then, within a Terminal window, enter:

sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/install-css.sh

Restricted Extras

The ubuntu-restricted-extras package includes a bunch of things Ubuntu isn’t legally allowed to ship with, namely unrar for unarchiving .rar files, Microsoft TrueType core fonts, Sun Java Runtime Environment (JRE), restricted codecs, and finally Adobe Flash Player. Like the rest of the packages and applications in this list unless noted otherwise, it’s available in the new Ubuntu Software Center (Applications ⟶ Ubuntu Software Center).

Click here to install or use the following command:

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras

I also recommend you at least give a fair chance to Gnash, an open source flash player on the list of high priority Free software projects. To install, you’ll first have to make sure you don’t have Adobe’s flash player installed via Synaptic or Terminal.


sudo apt-get purge flashplugin-installer nspluginwrapper

Finally, you can install the Gnash plugin via Synaptic of Terminal.

APT Line: ppa:gnash/ppa
Click here to install or use the following command:

sudo apt-get install mozilla-plugin-gnash

Og så videre. Jeg har selv netop installeret systemet og regner med at skrive lidt om det om et par dage. Det lader til at være pænere og hurtigere end alle tidligere versioner af Ubuntu, jeg hidtil har set, men i alt væsentligt er det heldigvis bare sig selv – det vil sige, rimeligt stabilt og pålideligt.

Link: Top things to do after installing Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala

Shuttleworth: Bankerot, ikke krise

Ubuntus grundlægger Mark Shuttleworth er en usædvanligt begavet mand, der umiddelbart giver indtryk af at vide ret meget om penge og finanser. I hvert fald har han en del af dem (penge, altså) og har tydeligvis sat sig lidt ind i, hvad det vil sige.

Om den nuværende finanskrise mener han, at der ikke er tale om en likviditetskrise, men om en solvenskrise. Mere populært: Der er ikke mangel på likviditet som sådan, men firmaerne har gældsat sig selv i jagten på hurtige og billige penge og det i en grad, så de nu ikke kan betale deres gæld. Resultatet er den ene bankerot efter den anden.

Det siger sig selv, at hvis Shuttleworth har ret i den udlægning (som også bakkes op af seriøse økonomer som f.eks. Joseph Stiglitz) så er den igangværende økonomiske krise potentielt mere alvorlig, end mange har lyst til at gøre sig klart.

Shuttleworth skriver:

Mortgages are just the beginning.
At real rates of interest, with real expectations of a reasonable rate of return, many of the deals which have been done since 2003 just do not make economic sense. Thus far, the spotlight has been on one piece of that problem – bad mortgage loans – but I think we’ll see the problem areas expanding rapidly to include a lot of the private equity deals which were done on the basis of free money between 2003-2007. I remember a fatuous statement by some private equity genius that “everybody’s rushing to do the first $100bn deal”. Well, the chickens are coming home to roost. Expect a steady flood of announcements of setbacks, restructurings and bankruptcies as companies that were bought with borrowed money turn out to be unable to service their debt.

Lower interest rates will ease the symptoms only.
Dramatic easing of interest rates will help to slow down the pace at which we have to deal with the bankruptcies, but they won’t change the cold reality of the situation, and they run the very real risk of making things worse by encouraging another round of speculation based on free money. We are once again in a situation where the US discount rate is effectively a negative real rate of interest, as a gift to the banks, but staying there for any length of time puts us back into a state of addiction…

Depositors in regulated banks should be protected by the governments that run the regulators. Shareholders not so much.
I think the Irish and other countries who have guaranteed the deposits of individual users have done the right thing. Governments setup regulatory authorities, and banks advertise that they are regulated. The people who appoint those regulators need to stand by the approach they take – they should offer a guarantee that they will stand by their product, and when it fails, they will stand by the people who trusted in them. Depositors at banks in the UK really should not have to worry that the bank might fail – such a failure should at most affect the interest rate they receive, not the safety of their capital. Shareholders in those banks, however, should be very worried indeed…

I’m nervous.
The big question I’m asking is which sidelines don’t have landmines? My team and I are fortunate to have stepped out of many markets before the current flood of fear. We stepped right into a few problems, but in large part dodged the cannonballs. So far so good. But what does it mean to have cash in the bank, when banks themselves are failing? What does it mean to hold dollars, when the dollar is being debased in a way that would feel familiar to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe? These are very dangerous times, and nobody should think otherwise.

Shuttleworth mener ikke, at staten skal blande sig i bankdirektørers lønninger, men kommer i stedet med det provokerende forslag, at direktørerne  skal have deres frit forhandlede bonuser indefrosset i en syvårsperiode, så bonus først kan udbetales i forbindelse med en samlet vurdering af hele perioden og altså ikke år for år.

Og han kan i hvert fald have ret i, at det nok ville få en lidt anden økonomisk ansvarlighed på banen.

Jeg har ikke forstand nok på de store nationaløkonomiske linjer til helt at kunne vurdere Shuttleworths analyse af situationen, men umiddelbart lyder det som noget af det mere fornuftige, man har hørt.

Link: It’s a solvency problem, not a liquidity problem

Fri software som politisk bevægelse

James Love har en glimrende artikel på Huffington Post, hvor han forklarer, hvorfor han selv er glad for at bruge fri software på sin computer, og hvorfor andre “progressive” burde gøre det samme:

Like nearly everyone else these days, I use computers to write, read email, browse the web, store music and photos, and generally organize my life. Unlike most people, I’m using a free operating system, rather than Microsoft’s Windows/Vista, or Apple’s Mac OS. Specifically, I’m using Ubuntu, a popular distribution of GNU/Linux.

It’s hard to explain the experience without trying it. Using any Debian type Linux distribution (such as Ubuntu), it is very easy to find, install and update software. Pretty much everything I use is available at a zero price. Linux isn’t a program, but rather a collection of thousands of programs that work together, each maintained by different communities. Most share the source code they develop, allowing others to copy, modify and incorporate code into new and even competing programs.

Linux is a possible future, one that isn’t controlled by Microsoft or Apple, and one that responds to a different set of values. Ubuntu is so good that it now seems plausible to anticipate a significant shift from Apple and Microsoft to Linux. This would be no small thing, increasing the odds that the Internet will continue to develop in ways that empowers users. Linux provides a powerful counterweight to companies or governments that undermine innovation, privacy and freedom, benefits that should not be taken for granted or undervalued.

Med andre ord: Fri software sikrer, at brugeren har og beholder kontrollen over, hvad der foregår på hans computer, og gør det muligt at sikre sig mod regeringsstøttede og andre trusler mod ens privatliv.

Hele fri software-bevægelsen er en vigtig modvægt mod hele den tendens til overvågning og central kontrol, vi ser i de senere år, en bevægelse, der tager handsken op ved selv at skabe programmer, der kan fungere som modvægt til monopolernes kontrol over brugerne og regeringernes indgreb. Og så er det ved at være oppe i et stabilt teknisk leje, hvor man sagtens kunne installere det på sin bedstemors computer. Men læs endelig bare hele Loves artikel.

Cory Doctorow: Drop Mac for fri software (og meget mere)

Den canadiske forfatter Cory Doctorow taler i et længere interview med Chicago Tribune blandt meget andet om, hvorfor han har droppet Mac og er gået helt over til Ubuntu og fri software:

They say a conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged. You know, a free software advocate is a Mac user who’s found his data locked in. I’m now a full-on free software person. I don’t use proprietary stuff.

As a philosophical point?

But as a philosophy that arose from self-preservation. I have Logo programs on my laptop that I wrote on 1979 on an Apple II Plus that can still be read and executed. But I have data from a period later when I started using proprietary systems that can’t be read at all. There’s material I produced in Ready, Set, Go! for the Mac that’s locked in pretty much forever because I had forgotten the lesson of open file formats.

There’s the famous Franklin quote: Those who would give up freedom to win security deserve neither. And some friends of mine repurposed it as: Those who would give up openness for a little eye candy deserve neither. There is something to that. And im a full time Linux dude now. It matters.

Læs også om overvågning, borgerrettigheder og om hvad, der i Doctorows optik kan/skal gøres ved den vej, vinden blæser i disse år. Link.