Many who have had the opportunity to actually see Longhorn in action, come away impressed by its speed, due to new memory swap usage and 64bit computing. But those who code for a living will tell you that elegant and efficient code can accomplish the same result and provide a more reliable product that can run on less powerful hardware. Think about it… if your OS and applications can run snappy and responsive on a 1Ghz machine with only 128MB of memory, imagine how much faster it will perform on a 3.2Ghz machine with 1GB of memory.
Enter Linux: Linux is such an OS that can run on soon-to-be legacy and even cutting-edge hardware that provides users (both average and power users) with an optimal computing experience. But Linux still has a way to go before it can become mainstream – trust me, it’s not due to lack of trying. First, the Linux community needs to convince hardware vendors that Linux is a viable and profitable operating system, for the reason that vendors are currently not creating native drivers for Linux (although NVIDA, ATI, and VIA have been making efforts to improve the situation). Second, the Linux community needs to convince popular software vendors that porting their apps to Linux can be lucrative – sure there’s plenty of FREE software, but there’s also a big demand for running Windows apps on Linux (see WINE project). Third (and this point is critical), companies who use technologies to protect their content (Digital Rights Mangement – aka DRM) need to offer licensing to the Linux community as well, unless they want to inadvertently give an open invitation to hackers to make their content playable on their platform (case in point: DVD playback).
Now on to the dreaded DRM. Most of us are at the age where in the past we made copies of music tapes (remember those dual-cassette radios?), radio broadcast recordings (ah, those late night DJ mix shows), and VHS TV show recordings, which was perfectly acceptable because it was considered “fair use.” Well, gone are those days due to the power of digital media encoding and the Internet. Honestly, if you think about why we were able to have those freedoms, it wasn’t because producers and broadcasters were being nice (in reality, it was quite the opposite), it was because the technology wasn’t available to make it a threat to their profit margin (unless you were a black market distributor of dub music and video recordings at the local flee market).
Furthermore, and this point is one you never hear brought up, is that any producer who releases digital media content embedded with DRM protection technologies for the general consumer market MUST have playback solutions available for ALL platforms (YES, including Linux, and any other open or closed operating systems). The reason I say this is because of the DVD playback fiasco, which is STILL NOT supported on Linux. And with HD-DVD coming up in the next year or so, it will be crucial. But demand for fairness doesn’t just apply to DVD playback, it also extends to online content services. An Apple or Linux user should be able to use services tied to Windows Media DRM, just as much as a Microsoft user should be able to tap into Apple FairPlay protected content. It only makes sense for the progression of digital media services, and should be an undisputed right for all consumers.
Ok, so now you know what has been going through my head… what are your thoughts?
Filed in: Industry Buzz