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Debian Dropping A Number Of Old Linux Drivers Is Angering Vintage Hardware Users

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  • oiaohm
    replied
    Originally posted by kneekoo View Post
    No, this is simply a communication thing. Creating a news item about this only requires knowledge of the big picture - how the package maintenance is done, how the drivers and hardware get tested, how the hardware is sourced and which are the ones no longer in the possession of the team.
    How you are meant to perform package maintenance is not properly documented for debian or upstream.
    https://lwn.net/Articles/772882/
    Linux kernel itself did not even have start of guidelines on how different kernel maintainers should do their job at all until 2018 basically it been hurding cats with absolutely no guidelines.
    https://www.kernel.org/doc/html/late...ner/index.html

    Read the current Linux kernel version nothing here includes how to report that the upstream maintainer no longer has the hardware to support X driver any more.

    Originally posted by kneekoo View Post
    Later on, a drivers section could exist, where you could see a listing of categorized kernel drivers that would emphasize the ones lacking hardware and maybe show their status:
    - waiting for hardware partners (up to 6 months)
    - failed sourcing from hardware partners; waiting for community hardware (up to 12 months)
    - failed sourcing hardware from community; driver removed, hardware no longer available
    1) This requires someone to create it and to write the base of what you are suggesting well you need at least one of these people to be a documentation writer(yes this is a skill set).
    2) This required documentation in policy/guidelines for the maintainers to follow to keep what you are suggesting up to date. No documentation writers this is not going to happen.
    3) Once you have written guidelines these can be enforced.

    Originally posted by kneekoo View Post
    Basically the list of drivers could be generated from the working stable/testing/unstable Debian kernels and everything set as "available", then manually set the ones about to bite the dust.
    Problem is you need the information from the upstream as well as the debian kernel maintainers hardware to get true picture of state.

    Its one thing to have communication but communication to be tracked and useful need to be well written this required people with the documentation writers skill and time to-do it.

    Leave a comment:


  • kneekoo
    replied
    Originally posted by oiaohm View Post
    Problem here is the massive lack of documentation writers in the open source world.
    No, this is simply a communication thing. Creating a news item about this only requires knowledge of the big picture - how the package maintenance is done, how the drivers and hardware get tested, how the hardware is sourced and which are the ones no longer in the possession of the team.

    Later on, a drivers section could exist, where you could see a listing of categorized kernel drivers that would emphasize the ones lacking hardware and maybe show their status:
    - waiting for hardware partners (up to 6 months)
    - failed sourcing from hardware partners; waiting for community hardware (up to 12 months)
    - failed sourcing hardware from community; driver removed, hardware no longer available

    And based on this database, more news items could easily be produced when necessary. Of course, I have no idea if the statuses and their period of waiting are relevant enough, but it's enough to make some sense about what it could be. Basically the list of drivers could be generated from the working stable/testing/unstable Debian kernels and everything set as "available", then manually set the ones about to bite the dust.

    Leave a comment:


  • oiaohm
    replied
    Originally posted by kneekoo View Post
    I think a dedicated news item on the Debian website would help, along with spreading the news through the organizations I mentioned, plus media outlets.
    Problem here is the massive lack of documentation writers in the open source world. The dedicated news item requires someone to write it and the people who could are normally tied up fixing up user documentation. So this is a resource starvation problem.

    Like I do agree proper communication would help. Lets take the Linux kernel there is only 1 full time proper documentation writer for the complete kernel and most of the time he has been doing it he has not been paid. Debian is really worst off you are looking at a time of under 20 people for all the documentation.

    Companies pay people to add features to programs and distributions but they don't in most case pay people to document how to use them let alone having any free writers to write the news stuff.

    Yes drivers being dropped is a resource problem the poor communication is also a lack of resources problem.

    Leave a comment:


  • kneekoo
    replied
    Ok, this makes sense and it's great info. Why aren't these things (more) visible for everyone to know? I mean there could be various hardware people (or related) to know some company with the necessary hardware and they could act if they knew about this stuff - practically helping as a sort of a stage 1.5. At this stage, with the drivers already removed, it's the right time to open wide on this topic and reach the community in a very visible manner. I think a dedicated news item on the Debian website would help, along with spreading the news through the organizations I mentioned, plus media outlets.

    I'm an idealist, but it still makes sense to me that proper communication not only can help in this particular situation but it also encourages people to be more open about issues that can potentially affect many users, for better or worse.

    Thanks for taking time to explain!

    Leave a comment:


  • oiaohm
    replied
    Originally posted by kneekoo View Post
    How big was that X11 conference? Did they publish anything on the topic? Their most recent item on their page dates back to 2015. Did they at least reach out to the high profile distros, open source/free software organizations and specialized mass-media to spread the news? These are rhetorical questions, of course. If they did, then I missed the buzz in the community. But I suspect they haven't, because I usually catch this kind of news.
    Yes they reached out but they were not after your general end users. You will not get like 10+ cards that have 100 percent sure been though basic functionality testing done the same way asking home users. The request was target a companies still using these parts

    https://www.cip-project.org/
    If you are looking at Linux foundation you are looking at this segment.

    Originally posted by kneekoo View Post
    This is an old problem that most free software projects have - suboptimal communication. The community as a whole should come up with a better way to handle communication for highly important matters, in both directions, towards finding solutions.
    No there are something where it a supply issue and for the supply to be useful it has to be of a particular quality and volume. Remember CIP I mentioned above is meant to be partnered with Debian to provide very long term support this include paid maintainers from CIP group of companies to do long term support of hardware. Yes these companies should have stock pile of parts all tested or are they out as well.

    Basically there is how deep of scraping the bottom of the barrel you are.

    Going to open community request is scraping the very bottom of barrel. We are still at scrape the company stock pile and company ear marked stuff at this stage. Nothing from those recycling systems was ear marked that has set this off a lot sooner.

    The maintainer pulling the package at this point is to open up for a CIP or equal party to take that position of maintainer and reinstate the package so still company backed with company supply of parts that are at least roughly quality tested.

    Basically the first general open community news is normally the maintainer threatening pulling package. Please note threaten to pull the package does not mean the package will be pulled either if the problem can be fixed. Please note there were announcements about these problems in the X11 conference video 2 years go and repeated again in last years conference these video were put on-line and that stuff got no news coverage. Remember this first lot of messaging is targeted at companies not individuals as like companies in CIP that have the best chance of meeting the supply requirement.

    So stage 1 of the process at this point has basically failed. We are on to state 2. Open community request is normally around state 3 to state 4 of this process. Community know this going down media groups could follow the conference stuff more carefully about items being deprecated and way and get announcement about this stuff out more early.

    Leave a comment:


  • kneekoo
    replied
    Originally posted by oiaohm View Post
    Also most users don't pay attention to such discussions and most users you ask them what video card is in their computer they have no clue as well so you cannot simple survey your way out this problem. Horrible as it sounds best way to survey is break it next best is threaten to break it.
    Touche! And there's an abnormal number of developers who don't seem to make the distinction between running 32-bit software on a RAM-limited 64-bit machine compared to a 32-bit only machine, citing "the developers no longer have 32-bit machines for testing" when trying to justify the drop of 32-bit support.

    Originally posted by oiaohm View Post
    No point blaming the Debian people for doing what is required in the current system to get results.
    I didn't blame them. I was curious if they considered turning to the community for maintainers or hardware. Apparently they did it, sort of, but I never heard of it. There are better ways to do it, apart from removing the drivers, and that's with news items to address this specific issue.

    Now talking about the Debian website, it's so big and inefficiently presented/structured that it's hard to get a particular image, depending on the use case. But this is a deep rabbit hole that's not worth getting into in this thread. My point is, I had no idea there's a wanted hardware page - which doesn't mention these graphics cards anyway, to be fair. The Debian website has no news item entirely dedicated to such matters, that the community can read and share. Communication can clearly be improved. What would be the results, we don't know because it hasn't been done yet. But I think a few news websites would share the news and that should increase the chance of a good outcome.

    How big was that X11 conference? Did they publish anything on the topic? Their most recent item on their Press page dates back to 2015. Did they at least reach out to the high profile distros, open source/free software organizations (FSF, LF, OSI, OS, etc) and specialized mass-media to spread the news? These are rhetorical questions, of course. If they did, then I missed the buzz in the community. But I suspect they haven't, because I usually catch this kind of news.

    This is an old problem that most free software projects have - suboptimal communication. The community as a whole should come up with a better way to handle communication for highly important matters, in both directions, towards finding solutions.

    Leave a comment:


  • oiaohm
    replied
    Originally posted by kneekoo View Post
    Ok, but is there any announcement that the X.org and Debian people need a few cards to be able to keep their drivers alive? I bet there are enough "relics" with working cards just sitting around that could end up in the right hands to keep this going for a while longer, should the developers and maintainers ask people for donations.
    The bad news here is history of these events say don't waste time on a nice request. Fastest way to get the hardware is threaten to remove the drivers you don't have the hardware to.
    1. If no one complains no one is using the hardware.
    2. If someone complains ask them for hardware to fix the lack of hardware problem.

    https://wiki.debian.org/Hardware/Wanted
    As you can see on the debian hardware wanted and other sites like it those groups making computer for the poor did not ear mark any hardware for development of the OS they were using. By the way a lot of those making computers for the poor a developer attempts to get hardware from them they get sorry you are not poor you are not entitled to a free computer/hardware and you cannot even have it if you pay for it so supply from this source is basically nil.

    X.org at the X11 conference did ask nicely 2 years ago and got nothing. They also announced then that all long term supported drivers would have to come KMS. Distributions are now moving on to brutal acquirement method since nice method failed.

    Originally posted by kneekoo View Post
    Regular people don't run extensive testing that shorten the lives of their cards' electronics like the developers use them, so asking for hardware donations could help. I hope someone will take this into consideration. Maybe not for all the cards, but R128 was especially popular and it's worth asking the community.
    When you think about this closely most of the supply should not have been coming from regular people but from those who are doing refurbishment systems should have been ear marking a percentage to go to development. Of course the arguement doing refurbishmentis they did not have the resources to put into this so now hell breaks lose as supplies run out and demand for particular drivers is not in face.

    Originally posted by kneekoo View Post
    Now of course that when it comes to numbers, it's virtually impossible to get a real figure of people still using some graphics card. I think we can safely assume that most users don't pay attention to such discussions and I wouldn't be surprised if the majority of them use some old Windows for that matter. So this is a tricky matter with a lot of question marks. But asking the community is still worth it if the hardware itself is the real problem.
    The best way to ask community to get somewhere near real number is threaten to remove the item or intentionally break it and see who notices of course no one notices no one is using it is the theory. Also most users don't pay attention to such discussions and most users you ask them what video card is in their computer they have no clue as well so you cannot simple survey your way out this problem. Horrible as it sounds best way to survey is break it next best is threaten to break it.

    Also think about it if those doing refurbishment was offering X types of hardware up to development this would be direct evidence that that hardware was still in use by someone.

    Basically the system is broken. No point blaming the Debian people for doing what is required in the current system to get results.

    Leave a comment:


  • kneekoo
    replied
    Originally posted by oiaohm View Post
    That is not the assumption here.
    It is the general theme all over the web - people assuming it's very easy to get a cheap second hand, so it's not worth keeping 20 year old hardware alive.

    Originally posted by oiaohm View Post
    Debian choice at moment can be reversed if maintainers step forwards to work with developers.
    True, but maintainers stepping forward and developers searching for maintainers are different things. Debian removed the packages. Is there any news about Debian looking for maintainers? That was my point.

    Originally posted by oiaohm View Post
    No you are also being inconsiderate to the developer side.
    What is inconsiderate of me to the developer side? Expecting them to consider announcing that they need maintainers and/or hardware to keep some drivers alive?

    Originally posted by oiaohm View Post
    The problem is not money. X.org developers/build system/CI system does not have a single R128 left let alone any of the other UMS drivers cards. Fedora maintainer fo the UMS drivers was the first to run out of cards. Debian maintainer has now run out of cards.
    Ok, but is there any announcement that the X.org and Debian people need a few cards to be able to keep their drivers alive? I bet there are enough "relics" with working cards just sitting around that could end up in the right hands to keep this going for a while longer, should the developers and maintainers ask people for donations.

    Originally posted by oiaohm View Post
    Bountysource or the like technically could help to fund to convert UMS drivers to KMS but you still need the stock pile of cards and systems to test with that currently does not exist.
    Converting the drivers would be great!

    Originally posted by oiaohm View Post
    If these cards were still reliable the maintainers and x.org would not be out of cards.
    Regular people don't run extensive testing that shorten the lives of their cards' electronics like the developers use them, so asking for hardware donations could help. I hope someone will take this into consideration. Maybe not for all the cards, but R128 was especially popular and it's worth asking the community.

    Now of course that when it comes to numbers, it's virtually impossible to get a real figure of people still using some graphics card. I think we can safely assume that most users don't pay attention to such discussions and I wouldn't be surprised if the majority of them use some old Windows for that matter. So this is a tricky matter with a lot of question marks. But asking the community is still worth it if the hardware itself is the real problem.

    Leave a comment:


  • oiaohm
    replied
    Originally posted by kneekoo View Post
    R128 lived in the Pentium 4 era and a bare minimum i386 distro will accomplish plenty of tasks for people who don't have anything else. It's 2020 and we still have people dying of hunger, so any assumption that everyone can afford a cheap second-hand PC to learn is nothing but a wrong assumption.
    That is not the assumption here.

    Originally posted by kneekoo View Post
    The main problem is not that the Debian team decided to pull the plug on those drivers. The main issue is that we don't have maintainers for those drivers (R128 being a popular one) and instead of trying to find maintainers "we" crap on those people who still make use of their Pentium 4.
    Debian choice at moment can be reversed if maintainers step forwards to work with developers.


    Originally posted by kneekoo View Post
    That's inconsiderate to say the least. It's only a matter of attitude to find solutions for such things.
    No you are also being inconsiderate to the developer side.

    Originally posted by kneekoo View Post
    Bountysource could be used to fund driver and other software updates that enables old PCs to be used for modern tasks.
    The problem is not money. X.org developers/build system/CI system does not have a single R128 left let alone any of the other UMS drivers cards. Fedora maintainer fo the UMS drivers was the first to run out of cards. Debian maintainer has now run out of cards.

    Bountysource or the like technically could help to fund to convert UMS drivers to KMS but you still need the stock pile of cards and systems to test with that currently does not exist.

    Originally posted by kneekoo View Post
    They're not supposed to offer high performance, but simply a reliable working environment for a few more years.
    If these cards were still reliable the maintainers and x.org would not be out of cards. Maintainers and x.org in quality control push cards running test suites so when a card comes up on it end of life it fails faster in the development environment than production but remember they did not start of with a single card the start was over 10 cards of each card at x.org and that complete stockpile is gone and was gone 2 years ago. Distribution maintainers did manage to scrap up some more but those are gone as well now.

    Now the big question who was the cards is going to step up to be the maintainer who can test this is the first problem that need to be solved. Remember single instance of these cards will not last long they are old and failing. Next of course is the security problem UMS drivers is getting funding to port to KMS but that not possible if you don't have the test cards.

    Leave a comment:


  • kneekoo
    replied
    Originally posted by TemplarGR View Post

    LOL. Yeah i am an evil fascist who wants to force people still on early Pentium 90mhz PCs to upgrade to something more recent if they want to use the latest year 2020 Debian version...
    So you claim others are retarded but you recommend them insecure software and you seem to think this is about Pentium PCs @90MHz? That's not clever either.

    R128 lived in the Pentium 4 era and a bare minimum i386 distro will accomplish plenty of tasks for people who don't have anything else. It's 2020 and we still have people dying of hunger, so any assumption that everyone can afford a cheap second-hand PC to learn is nothing but a wrong assumption.

    The main problem is not that the Debian team decided to pull the plug on those drivers. The main issue is that we don't have maintainers for those drivers (R128 being a popular one) and instead of trying to find maintainers "we" crap on those people who still make use of their Pentium 4. That's inconsiderate to say the least. It's only a matter of attitude to find solutions for such things. Bountysource could be used to fund driver and other software updates that enables old PCs to be used for modern tasks. They're not supposed to offer high performance, but simply a reliable working environment for a few more years.

    Leave a comment:

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