Linux, politics, and other interesting things
Steve Jobs has published an interesting article about Flash . He criticises Flash for being proprietary, this seems a little hypocritical coming from Apple (who’s the only competitor for Microsoft in terms of being the most proprietary computer company) but is in fact correct. Steve advocates HTML5 which is a better technical solution to a lot of the things that Flash does. He claims that Apple users aren’t missing out on much, but I think that sites such as Physics Games  demonstrate the benefits of Flash.
I think that Apple’s attack on Flash is generally a good thing. HTML5 web sites will work everywhere which will be a good incentive for web designers to fix their sites. I also think that we want to deprecate it, but as it’s unfortunately popular it’s useful to have tools such as GNASH to use Flash based web sites with free software. Microsoft has belatedly tried to compete with flash, but it’s Silverlight system and the free but patent encumbered Linux equivalent Moonlight have very little content to play and will probably disappear soon. As an aside the relentless determination of GNOME people to force the MONO project (including Moonlight) on it’s users convinced me to remove GNOME from all systems that I run.
OS News has a good analysis of the MPEG-LA patents  which are designed to prevent anyone making any commercial use of H.264 – which includes putting such videos on sites that contain Google advertising! These patent terms are so horrible that they want to control video streams that were ever encoded with them, so you can’t even transcode a H.264 stream to an open format without potentially having the scum at MPEG-LA going after you. This is worth noting when examining Apple’s actions, they support MPEG patents and therefore seem happy to do anything that reduces the freedom of their customers. Apple’s 1984 commercial has been proven to be a lie, it’s Apple that wants to control our freedom.
Charles Stross makes some good points about the issues related to Apple and Flash . He believes that it’s all part of an Apple push to cloud computing and that Apple wants to own all our data at the back-end while providing a relatively reliable front-end (IE without all the anti-virus nonsense that is needed on the MS-Windows platform. Cloud computing is a good thing and I can’t wait for the Linux support for it to improve, I support a number of relatives who run Linux and it would be a lot easier for me if they could have the primary storage for everything be on the cloud so that I can do central backups of user data and they can use their own data while visiting each other. I think that a network filesystem that is similar in concept to offline-IMAP would be a really good thing, I know that there are some filesystems such as AFS and CODA that are designed for wide area network use with client-side caching but as far as I am aware they aren’t designed for the type of operation that offline/caching IMAP supports.
Matt Brubeck has given a good status report of the work porting Firefox to Android . He notes that the next version of Fennec (mobile Firefox) will have Electrolysis – the Firefox one process per tab feature that was first implemented in Google Chrome . I think that the development of Fennec and the one process per tab feature are both great developments. Matt also says “One of my personal goals is to make Firefox compatible with more mobile sites, and to give web developers the tools and information they need to make their sites work great in mobile Firefox. I’ll write much more about this in future articles“, that sounds great, I look forward to the results of his coding and to reading his blog posts about it!