What's the real problem with wireless on the Ben?

cenobyte at dragoncrypt.com cenobyte at dragoncrypt.com
Wed Sep 14 23:29:44 EDT 2011

 On Wed, 14 Sep 2011 13:06:16 +0200, Bas Wijnen wrote:
> On 14-09-11 05:42, Uwe Dippel wrote:
>> Dear all, what an interesting discussion!!
> Yes. However, it seems to become emotional. Please beware. :-)
>> Therefore, the
>> topic 'host' on USB is and remains a hot one. It actually is Number 
>> One
>> for me not to use it much more frequently, and has been the Number 
>> One
>> turn-away of everyone until now when it came to advertising it.
> While I agree that USB host seems really cool, I think it is not as
> cool as it seems. In fact the current Ben is not used optimally, and
> doing so would bring more than USB host would bring, I think.
> For optimal use, we need software which is really useful on the Ben.
> Not mouse-oriented software which you can use because the pointer can
> be controlled with keys, but software that was designed to be used
> with a keyboard. Not a huge GUI that has been stripped down to fit on
> the screen, but a GUI that was designed for this screen size. And so
> on.
 Wouldn't all this "optimization" be futile if the second Ben has a 
 pointing device? Plus with USB host you could always attach a mouse...
 As someone who hopes to see the Ben as a mini fanless laptop, custom 
 tailoring sounds more to me like a boxing in. Especially if you're 
 talking about re-writing non-trivial hard core code. It seems like 
 reinventing the wheel so you can have one 10 inches smaller. Not to 
 mention that the SOC isn't even 100% libre, the best we can to is tailor 
 the code to something manufacturers cannot make on their own...since 
 I've learned that MIPS has its problems I think ARM is a little better 
 because it can replace x86 more viably. The real solution, however, 
 would be something like MilkyMist Soc. That should probably be where all 
 the "custom tailoring" should be going on. The Ben cpu will come and go, 
 but MM is a real sign of copyleft progress. I'm saying this and I don't 
 even own one.

> I think there are great possibilities for Ben, and it's really worth
> trying to get there. I'll spend my time on what I think is the way to
> go: a new OS with software designed for this hardware. It's a lot of
> work, because many things need to be redone (although many things can
> be reused as well, of course). But I think it's worth it. When we're
> getting further on that front, adding USB host will really be great.
> Now, adding it will turn the Ben into an alternative for other
> gadgets. Which is pretty cool, too, but not as awesome as it can be.
>> Now back to the exact topic: No, I am not. Yes, I am for total 
>> freedom
>> in software as far as possible.
> Only in software?
>> So I appreciate the distinction into the
>> 'really free' stuff, and the 'not-so-free' stuff, that I can still 
>> add
>> on just to put food on the table. I'd love to have all free software 
>> on
>> all of my machines, but then I'd have to harm the environment 
>> because
>> I'd have to fly to Europe because I refuse to use Skype.
> Apart from the fact that there actually are free alternatives for
> Skype (other than flying to Europe), I think we all understand what
> you mean, and I suppose most on this list agree partly. Here's what I
> think about it:
> - If people feel they need non-free junk, that is in the first place
> their problem. Don't make it impossible or hard for them. It's fine 
> to
> tell them about the alternatives, of course.
> - If I'm going to spend my energy (and money) on something, it should
> be something I want to happen. So I'm not improving non-free stuff,
> and I'm not helping people to use it (although there are exceptions).
> I spend my resources on free stuff only.
> If qi-hardware thinks the same way (not sure if they do, but I think
> it at least comes close), they will allow you to use an SD card,
> including a wifi SDIO card, with your Ben. But they will not spend
> their resources on adding it to the device. They will not adjust 
> their
> designs to make it fit in.
>> No, I don't need totally free hardware that I can plug into my 
>> totally
>> free nanonote (is it??).
> Of course you don't _need_ it. But it would be cool. :-)
> And no, it isn't. In particular the SoC, which is most of what's
> inside, is not free at all. Then again, it's not any less free than
> alternatives at this point. Hopefully that will change soon.
>> I'd love to, but there is a clear distinction,
>> much easier in hardware than in software,
> Is it? I think the definition "the preferred form of modification" is
> pretty clear. It fits hardware just as well as software.
>> when I connect a totally
>> non-free WiFi-dongle into my nanonote. I know what I am doing, and I 
>> can
>> even put a sticker "Free", in green, on the nanonote, and "Not Free" 
>> and
>> in red on the dongle. But I can use it usefully.
> Yes, and nobody is stopping you. But that doesn't mean Wolfgang
> should spend his money on adding a WiFI chip inside the NanoNote.
>> In short: don't overdo it, please. keep the target in mind, provide 
>> a
>> totally free (is it??) core (nanonote, e.g.), and then bite the 
>> bullet
>> (easy in this case) and allow the rest of the world to get their 
>> jobs
>> done, even with a devilish dongle. USB is a reasonably open 
>> standard, so
>> is micro-SD, so what is wrong of interfacing the devil through an 
>> open
>> standard with open hardware?
> Interfacing is fine. But I shall not spend my time on improving that
> interface if I can instead spend it on making it obsolete.
> But then again, if you feel the interface is really important, I'm
> not stopping you to improve it. I'm not against a good interface. I
> just don't want to spend my time on developing non-free stuff.
>> Or do you not connect the nanonote to the
>> Internet because Google doesn't use all free hardware and software? 
>> Come
>> on, stay realistic. Don't compromise in what you do, I fully agree, 
>> but
>> only in your court. Don't try to be an island.
> I think we mostly agree. :-)
> Thanks,
> Bas
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