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An Open Letter To Tech Review Sites

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  • #16
    Originally posted by nanonyme View Post
    Linux is really only free if you build your own computer or buy one with no OS installed, otherwise the vendor probably did compatibility testing and makes you pay for it. (does an average user want to buy a computer without an OS? no)
    That is a pointless argument since if the vendor is going to ship it with *any* OS, they'll STILL have to do compatibility testing. That should be considered as a component of the fixed assembly cost.

    You do, of course, bring up an interesting point; shipping computers without OS.... if the average user was interested in and knew how simple it was to install a common Linux distro, they wouldn't care if it shipped with no OS. And this, of course, leads to a new level of conspiracy theories; WHY IS msevil such a PITA to install and set up? Might it be because they WANT the average user to be afraid of installing an OS? To build a market for pre-installed OS? To force hardware vendors to preinstall THEIR MScrapOS? Because the average user will just use *what it came with*? This is, of course, illegal anti-competitive behavior. Also difficult to prove.

    It would be nice to see some freedom-FORCING legislation rather than the more common freedom-BLOCKING legislation (i.e. DMCA)... I would like to see something along the lines of "general purpose computing equipment must not ship with any software included or preinstalled", and "vendors of general purpose computing equipment must not distribute or recommend software of any kind under penalty of being tortured to death".

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    • #17
      Originally posted by lbcoder View Post
      This is a very self-serving article. It is designed to promote this site's testing software. Quite frankly, I am absolutely sick of the poorly executed performance tests -- they don't ever illustrate anything significant and just get in the way of the actual important articles, like updates on the status of the R6/700 open source 3d initiative.
      From reading your post one could suppose that you're not really interested on benchmarking articles. Well, guess what, a lot of people care about 'em. That's why there are so many on-line publications that do solely that. And the point of the article is that they should use GNU/Linux for that too. I couldn't agree more, since I too ain't not a little bit interested in all those XP/Vista/Seven tests all around the web.

      As you said, we should spread the word about Linux. That means we should tell people to test and use it. That's exactly what this article does. But it wasn't aimed at you. It was aimed at other testing publications just like Phoronix. And they should read it.

      Originally posted by lbcoder View Post
      ...and just get in the way of the actual important articles, like updates on the status of the R6/700 open source 3d initiative.
      I too, am here just to know the news about the FLOSS drivers for those AMD chips that I use and love. But what would be the point of writing that they are fully 3D capable (in a short future I hope) if it doesn't come accompanied with some benchmarks? I want to know how their performance compare to other drivers. And that may help in their development too so, why not benchmark? I want to know how ATI compare to nVidia on Linux too. And how Tux3 compares to Btrfs/Ext4/ZFS.


      Best regards,

      Jonatas Esteves

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      • #18
        Originally posted by lbcoder View Post
        and the third is grasping at straws since it takes NO resources (last I checked, Linux was free and would run on the same hardware as msevil).
        Your taking the word of "resources" out of context. Resources such as a complete readily available and comprehesive benchmark suite or not having the investment capitol / time / or qualifications to develop such a solution. Not hardware resources.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resourc..._management%29

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        • #19
          We're actually in the process of building something similar

          We've just recently built a proof-of-concept site called 'isitopen' which allows users to submit and rate devices to determine how 'open' they are (i.e. source-code available, proprietary plug-connection, etc.)

          Originally we had planned to try and make it a community-driven review site, with wiki-style functionality in order to allow our users write specific reviews regarding Linux-hardware, but things evolved away from that.

          We're currently trying to get some feedback to see if anyone is interested in this type of website, and where we should go from here.

          Are people mostly interested in performance benchmarks? What other benchmarks or data would you be interested in?

          http://www.isitopen.biz/

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          • #20
            Originally posted by lbcoder View Post
            This is a very self-serving article. It is designed to promote this site's testing software. Quite frankly, I am absolutely sick of the poorly executed performance tests -- they don't ever illustrate anything significant and just get in the way of the actual important articles, like updates on the status of the R6/700 open source 3d initiative.
            I don't know that makes sense to you. The benchmarks often provide very relevant real-world data, especially as they're based on tools that are regularly utilized in the typical Linux-based environment. It's easy to infer the day-to-day impact from the benchmarks generated here. That's not to say that better and more varied test profiles couldn't be added, but as a reader, I'm assuming that will happen over time. I agree that the typical average user won't care about benchmarks, but this is an in-depth, technology-oriented review and news site. the "R6/700 open source 3d initiative" is still regularly covered and reported on...the benchmarks only supplement it.

            Something I would like to see, and I think you might have been getting at this a little bit, is more explanations of real-world impact of some of the benchmarks instead of only a really concise summary at the end. It is easy for someone like me to infer real-world relevance, but definitely won't be for everyone; Actually, it would even make going through the benchmarks easier for me as well.

            Originally posted by lbcoder View Post
            Of those 3 excuses, the second one is meaningless, and the third is grasping at straws since it takes NO resources (last I checked, Linux was free and would run on the same hardware as msevil). The first excuse is the frightening one that it is important to overcome...
            The second one is poorly worded; what it means to say is "lack of benchmarking tools as well as a lack of up-to-date benchmark results to use as a consistent reference point." I would even say "perceived lack" fits better for what the writer is really trying to express with this open letter. As someone else mentioned, the 3rd is talking about resources in the general sense of "something that is necessary to carry out a task, and is available in a limited quantity, thereby increasing the fundamental value of the resource on a day-to-day basis." So that applies to things like time, an easily decipherable knowledge base, or even the availability of staff with a comprehensive understanding of the process and environment they would need to use.

            As for the first, while I agree that the learning curve in terms of initial troubleshooting and setup is much diminished, I don't think that's what Michael was referring to. There is still a shift in the interface paradigm that presupposes a certain level of familiarity with the system in order to be able to use it in an effective and (more importantly) flexible way.

            There are already people out there spreading the word that Linux hardware compatibility issues are mostly resolved, and that with a small amount of effort and desire, people can now easily revolutionize the way they can use their computers. However, the point of this article is just something entirely different, addressed at a different audience. This is an appeal to publications that have a good deal of influence over the technology-informed public in terms of presenting them with important and relevant information, and it's saying that Linux is ready to be included in that category (and people want it to be). So it's necessary to address the concerns these publications have about making a move like this; the letter is saying "the existing knowledge base makes the learning curve easier, our established and tested benchmarking tools can help you provide useful data, and the combination of those two is going to greatly decrease the impact it will have on your resources. This is now a practical thing for you to try out, and we think you should, because it will benefit both your readership and the Linux/open-source community at large."

            Originally posted by lbcoder View Post
            And this, of course, leads to a new level of conspiracy theories; WHY IS msevil such a PITA to install and set up? Might it be because they WANT the average user to be afraid of installing an OS? To build a market for pre-installed OS?
            I think that's going a little far. Microsoft is a business, and they only think with profits in mind. The reason their installation interface and process sucks is that they have assumed that an end-user will hardly ever carry it out, so why waste their resources on it? They also assume that even when an end-user performs the installation, the hardware manufacturer will provide CDs with necessary drivers to make it hassle-free. It's not a conspiracy theory, it's just cutting corners and focusing development efforts on areas where they think it will pay off more.

            Another factor is that the various teams at Microsoft, at least until the point of Vista, had always been disconnected because they thought it more efficient to work that way. So by the time end-user installations became a concern, it would have taken too much effort for them to coordinate all the teams to carry that out together, and it would have required a number of other structural changes/fixes in their code, which they consider wasting resources. For the first time with Vista (I'm fairly sure about this, but not 100%), they tried to get the teams to work together more to try and produce cohesive results. I presume that since it was the first such attempt, it's probably why Vista came out as poorly as it did, and why it was delayed, etc. Unfortunately (for the open source community), they seem to be getting their act together a lot more for the much-hyped Windows 7.

            Originally posted by lbcoder View Post
            It would be nice to see some freedom-FORCING legislation rather than the more common freedom-BLOCKING legislation
            I somewhat agree, though not to the extent that you proposed...obviously the second example was a joke, but I couldn't tell if you were serious about your first example at all. Because that'd be kind of lame too. It would be a great blessing to even at least get the freedom-restricting legislation done away with. But with the sickeningly rapid advent of consumer capitalism, we have basically taken the hands of large corporations, and wrapped them around our necks, saying "Please do whatever you want. I want you to guide our lives to a better future for mankind." So that change in legislation -- well, short of another social revolution (yeah, right), I don't really see that happening for a long, long time. What saddens me the most is that eventually, people might just stop wanting that kind of freedom.

            Comment


            • #21
              Nice...

              Pimping your own test suite!

              On the other hand, why would others perform Linux testing since:
              a) hardware features are not fully exploited in Linux
              b) majority of "off the shelf" applications used in testing not ported to Linux
              c) Individual builds of Linux distros (not to mention the variation inside a single build of just distro) is YMMV, while Windows ISOs have variations of less than 1%
              d) they can just point to your site (yay! more unique visitors and page clicks may add up to better ad revenue pay-outs!)
              e) all the above

              Answer: E


              We're hitting the wall here people. Like that 80-20 rule you hear about in business classes, Linux distros are hitting 80% of the features found in Microsoft and Apple. And it's this last 20% that really is the differentiator that sells Windows 80% of the time.

              Knowing this, Microsoft uses money and clout (being the largest OS distribution in business and home markets) to influence hardware and software vendors to delay or reject the Linux environment from taking the other 20%. And by delay, I mean offering proprietary drivers and forcing open source to accept proprietary abstraction layers.

              Comment


              • #22
                Originally posted by The_Monkey_King View Post
                Pimping your own test suite!

                On the other hand, why would others perform Linux testing since:
                a) hardware features are not fully exploited in Linux
                b) majority of "off the shelf" applications used in testing not ported to Linux
                c) Individual builds of Linux distros (not to mention the variation inside a single build of just distro) is YMMV, while Windows ISOs have variations of less than 1%
                d) they can just point to your site (yay! more unique visitors and page clicks may add up to better ad revenue pay-outs!)
                e) all the above

                Answer: E


                We're hitting the wall here people. Like that 80-20 rule you hear about in business classes, Linux distros are hitting 80% of the features found in Microsoft and Apple. And it's this last 20% that really is the differentiator that sells Windows 80% of the time.

                Knowing this, Microsoft uses money and clout (being the largest OS distribution in business and home markets) to influence hardware and software vendors to delay or reject the Linux environment from taking the other 20%. And by delay, I mean offering proprietary drivers and forcing open source to accept proprietary abstraction layers.
                +0.5. Well put, though it misses the point partially.

                To answer "Why would others...?"; well, the awareness of Linux as a viable desktop operating system has grown quite a bit recently. Readers of tech review sites know that it exists, but some of them also have misconceptions of it. By performing Linux testing, these other review sites will a) generate more readership and content, b) stimulate discussion and experimentation among readers (many of whom enjoy modding or trying new things), c) force hardware manufacturers to start paying attention to Linux, d) attract both more users and developers to an open-source platform, etc etc. The list could go on for a while, and it contains benefits for both the tech review sites and the communities that participate in them.

                Right now, it's easy for people to complain loudly about Linux; trolls and whiners attract crowds, especially when the target is a relative minority. If there were more objective and constructive discussions happening, people would start adapting to things like the variation between distributions.

                If Phoronix had followed point D from your post, well, that really would have been selfish. But is it that hard to see that the course of action they're trying to take is one that ends up positively affecting an entire spectrum of online communities?

                Also, through this method of appealing to more readers, generating more content, and increasing the awareness of this platform, there will be a cumulative effect that will end up trying to address the 80-20 problem you mentioned. It will also end up soliciting a concrete reaction from many important groups (both formal and informal), including corporations like Microsoft. Have you noticed their recent trend of reluctantly starting to work with open-source developers, and opening up a couple of small things? In my opinion, that was a direct response to the growing pressure from the industry in general to start figuring out how to interact with open-source.

                There was a general realization that the proliferation of open-source ideology is actually growing over time instead of fading into obscurity like they had hoped. So can either start to figure out how to reap profits from it in a mutually symbiotic way, or they can decide to ignore it until it's potentially an even bigger movement. After seeing it grow over the past few years, the latter option probably doesn't look too appealing to them at the moment.

                I do emphatically agree with your assessment of the 80-20 problem and how corporations are trying to manipulate the 20 to suppress Linux growth for as long as possible.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by lbcoder View Post
                  That is a pointless argument since if the vendor is going to ship it with *any* OS, they'll STILL have to do compatibility testing. That should be considered as a component of the fixed assembly cost.
                  Yes, compatibility testing might cost roughly the same but compatibility cost per sold computer in an identical bunch of computers varies a lot. Compatibility cost per sold Linux computer is way higher than compatibility testing per Windows computer. It depends on sales.
                  Edit: People care for comfort more than they care for the cost. They care more that the computer they buy works as is than that they could have bought it a bit cheaper (OEM Windows licenses for certified vendors cost next to air) but they would have had to actually work to get it set up.
                  Last edited by nanonyme; 08-12-2009, 06:13 PM.

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                  • #24
                    Who did this letter go to?

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                    • #25
                      Benchmarking software is good to have, and from what I've seen of th PTS suite itself, it's a decent piece of software.

                      Don't mind me, but I made an unofficial torrent so that those with a poor connection to Softpedia don't have to wait insanely long. The link is here. I plan to seed for the next fifteen hours, so hopefully someone picks up on it.

                      Now, to burn a copy of this thing and see if Java x64 regressed...

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by phyrexianhulk View Post
                        And here is the digg.
                        The article seems to have more "success" on reddit, but people there say it's just a shameless self-promotion. I guess you're entitled to it, but when I look at hardware reviews, I mostly look for what hardware is "better" than the rest, and that can be seen regardless of platform (as long as the tests are consistent).
                        Asking people to do an extra bench with your platform is weird because:
                        a) most people will ignore the linux benchmarks since they care about windows only
                        b) linux people will gain no new information, since the PTS bench results should show a hierarchy consistent with the win bench results.
                        And so, PTS would be just a tool to promote phoronix and to some extent linux (which I support, but then diggers come here and ruin the forum ).

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          whats up here, I dont understand the people here, opensource/foss people have often a problem with each attempt to make money and that then it cannot have a good aim. thats maybe often true, but not always.

                          If phoronix would force the people, to mention them, in their reviews, i would agree that its only marketing. But to ask (not to force) somebody who takes a piece of hard work from you to mention your name in a publication where you use it is not to much.

                          Also its a good advertisement for linux. Maybe 10% of the Press use own Linuxbenchmarks at least on some reviews, they maybe dont care about this because they dont need it, maybe a few switch to phoronix-suite because they think its better than their stuff and they didnt know this software yet. From the other 90% maybe 80% dont care, 5% maybe really consider to use it for future tests, and other 5% maybe hear again from linux and that it is easy to use also for such tasks and they hear maybe similar in the future from other sides again and then they maybe use it someday, too.

                          But thats marketing. You address 100 people and maybe 98 from it dont care but the 2 who you get feedback are enough. I dont see a possible negative impact from this letter.

                          And if some reviewers switch to multiplattform benchmarks that could have really big effects, because the press is the "multiplicator" that means they address thausends of people if there are again 2% who was maybe interested in linux before and because of such a article they maybe try it out.

                          I make miself no illusions, Linux will not be marktleader in next 5 years. (If google has not outstandig success ) But a world with doubled linux-market-share would be great.
                          And on some point what is maybe nearer than some here think, there is a breakpoint. A point where 99% of the companys cannot continuing ignoring linux, or deal with them as 2nd class customers.
                          Last edited by blackiwid; 08-13-2009, 08:18 AM.

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                          • #28
                            More widespread Linux testing would cover some rather interesting situations as well, such as where the win results are the opposite of the linux results.

                            I can see only good coming from this.

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                            • #29
                              The most important thing they should test is compatibility. They should stress hardware makers too support those users. They have some sway with them. But just running benchmarks on Linux I don't see much point except when it's server benchmarks.

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by nanonyme View Post
                                Yes, compatibility testing might cost roughly the same but compatibility cost per sold computer in an identical bunch of computers varies a lot. Compatibility cost per sold Linux computer is way higher than compatibility testing per Windows computer. It depends on sales.
                                Edit: People care for comfort more than they care for the cost. They care more that the computer they buy works as is than that they could have bought it a bit cheaper (OEM Windows licenses for certified vendors cost next to air) but they would have had to actually work to get it set up.
                                OEMs selling computers need to decide which distribution to support. For the most time that will just be RHEL WS and SLED on workstation computers. Supporting a community distribution would be next to impossible. They could only hope to do that informally. Even a dist like Ubuntu have not had success breaking into this market. There simply is no consumer linux. Server linux is there, workstation linux kinda. But a Dell with Ubuntu can't even be bought in most European countries. And it's not even properly packaged for those markets. Maybe someone should try breaking Linux into the small but growing HTPC market in order to contribute to better multimediasupport for linux where it's laking. Multimedia licensing are a PITA but now there's not even any good alternatives to the homebrew ffmpegbased stuff. Journalists ignore that stuff like VLC aren't really legal (even Sweden owns some of the software patents so it's more that you couldn't support it commercially) or wont really be commercial grade in all fields, or that you would never get the needed frameworks in place if that's all there is. Stuff like video editing aren't really there as a result meaning media savvy users just end up on a Mac or Windows computer in the end instead, even if they didn't have any big demands. Linux users want stuff that just works too, just see those supporting Intels efforts. Frankly Windows computers aren't perfect OOB, so I'm sure people would be willing to pay for a linux-computer that's pretty good OOB and contains many useful tools instead of spending hours fixing just basic stuff (like you also would on a Win computer). An NLE video editing suit could for example have a foss version just supporting Theora and some other intermediaries (or even provide free non-distributable licensed codecs but somebody must pay for it) and a payed version which can be OEMd which would include support for mpeg2, avc and all that's needed.

                                Any way lots could be done, it requires putting some manpower on it though as they do to some extent on platforms like Nokias Internet tablets. There's no harm commercializing Linux (and making money) as long as they support FOSS and contribute back. You won't get anything for free but you can get collaboration and openness. Any way they would need a dist that's acceptable for the users to get any buyers at all, they will need to be available and have some support for alternative distributions, no blobs only one dist will include for one customer.

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