20 October 2006

Open Source Software

Now that my laptop fixed itself, for the lack of a better term, or any clue as to what was wrong, I have an extra machine (the laptop) to play with. This is because my new desktop is much faster and better.

So I installed PCBSD, which didn't recognize my wifi card.. Great, let's try Ubuntu. Afterall, everyone says that it has a great hardware detection. Same thing..
So I went back to Mepis, version 6.0. Last year, Mepis version 3.2 recognized the wifi card, and pretty much all the devices on the laptop.
Well, it turns out that now it won't anymore. I googled around, and found out that other folks had similar problems, with their network card being recognized in the past versions, but not anymore.

Yes, I know, ndiswrapper. But to be honest, I don't really have time to do all those tricks, especially that I don't have the windows drivers for it (I'd need to reinstall windows from the rescue disk to get them). And if in the past I enjoyed hacking my computer and modifying autoexec.bat and config.sys for each game I played, now I am too old and busy for this shit.

Is it too much to expect from an OSS to actually keep their supported devices from one version to the next?
Speaking of OSS, I decided to get the latest version of Gimpshop. 2.2.8_fix1
I had a previous, older Gimpshop version, and thought that a newer version would be better, right? Turns out that this new version has a bug, it tries to read some cardreader drive, and will give a "no disk in drive" popup error every time you do something remotely useful, such as opening images, etc.

Now, some would say that I have no right to complain, because we also introduced bugs in our new versions. This is true, but we do our very best to fix them as soon as possible, so long as we know what causes them. And the bugs that make it to the final client are usually relatively minor, which is why they evade prior testing, where people can download and test the client prior to the official update.

One other other argument is that you get what you pay for. You have no right to complain if a free product doesn't match your expectations.
I usually donate money to OSS that I use. In the past I donated money to Mepis, OpenBSD, FreeBSD, FireFox, SDL, and some other software I don't even remember the name of.
But most of the people do not donate money, so their developers can't afford to work full time at their software, which is reflected in the quality of their products.

We are among the few, lucky developers that actually make some money. Most of our money doesn't come from donations, but from people purchasing items or services.
Which is why I think other OSS developers should do the same thing. For example, they can ask people to pay a certain amount of money in order for them to implement a new feature, or perhaps fix a minor bug, or port it to another platform.
In return, those who pay can get the newer version faster than those who do not pay.
The guys from Cedega, for example, even charge a monthly subscription fee for their product, and from what I understand, they are doing pretty well, being able to hire developers that add new features, optimize stuff, fix bugs, provide some customer support..
IMO, that's pretty much the only way to be able to thrive in the everchanging world of computer software.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Out of curiosity, do you pass on $$ to the other people working on the game? I know there are a fair number of developers working to different degrees and on different aspects of gameplay.

20/10/06 07:24  
Blogger Radu said...

Yes, we do give some of them some money, although not as much as I would like to. Right now me and Roja work at EL full time, with no other sources of income, and we are still putting, in terms of time and work, more than we get back. I refused jobs from well known game companies in order to work at EL, and I would have been better off financial had I taken those jobs.
But in the future, if we do better, we would like to hire some of the current volunteers.

20/10/06 13:05  
Blogger Brendan said...

The main problem with wifi drivers is that they are closed, and thus represent a black box to developers; It's never definite what change to ndiswrapper might break which card as a corner case, and occasionally it will be something stupid in the binary driver itself.

Another outlook on this is that you get what you pay for hardware wise, and that we should push for working wireless cards by buying from vendors who provide specs and support for multiple platforms. Of course, that's only one opinion.

20/10/06 22:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What exactly did u do to fix ur laptop. A few days ago my ABS mayhem 4 laptop had basically the exact same syptoms urs did while I was playing el. After i rebooted it wouldnt load the os and i have strange lines and ~1/4 pixels were dead. So far ive found nothin about this problem, and im currently reinstalling the os to see if this has any affect. It would be great if u could get back to me, the laptop is out of warrently and would be nice if i didnt have to go buy another one.

21/10/06 01:17  
Blogger Radu said...


The only thing that I did was let it unpowered for about 24 hours. My guess is the video card might have overheated because of a fan failure, and maybe the heatsink or a cable expanded too much or something..

Yes, I understand that, however they worked before, and it's really annoying when they stop working in a newer version..
And yes, I agree with what you say, however sometimes this is not an option. You have little choice on what the laptop has inside.

21/10/06 03:18  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'For example, they can ask people to pay a certain amount of money in order for them to implement a new feature, or perhaps fix a minor bug, or port it to another platform.
In return, those who pay can get the newer version faster than those who do not pay.'

So you really don't get the meaning of a free open source OS...

21/10/06 12:55  
Blogger Radu said...

Did I say "free"? No, I said Open Source.
If you want to use something for free, go ahead. But I'd rather pay some money for the software I use, if that money goes for the further development of the project.

21/10/06 13:43  

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