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Rosalyn Hunter [opinions]

Seamonkey media madness [gnu/linux] [media-players] [seamonkey]

Deciding to follow my own New Years advice, I updated my version of Mozilla suite. The Mozilla suite has now been renamed Seamonkey for reasons which will not be discussed in this blog, and while I was installing it, I decided to install the flash plugin even though it is non-free.

Now, I am usually what you might call a free software purist. I don’t like signing nasty end user agreements. In fact, my computer has been GNU/Linux only since 2000 and I have often thumbed my nose at dual booters. I have, however, in the past occasionally downloaded personal copies of nonfree programs. (Please don’t kill me.)

Anyway, for the last several years, flash has passed me by. I was glad to avoid those pesky advertisements that flicker on the side of the screen, but I was getting tired of websites that when loaded were only a single puzzle piece saying you need to install flash. This is really the result of bad web design because most of those sites don’t have a button to link to a non-flash site. But, even so, I decided that it was time for a change.

And there was a good reason too. I have heard that there are now free software programs available for making flash animations, and I wanted to be able to watch them. Well anyway, Flashplayer 9 for Linux works just beautifully with Seamonkey. I installed it on my and my son’s computers, and even now my son is watching Mario flash movies.

Emblazoned by this success, I decided to try some other media plugins. Real Player has what they call a free software version named Helix, and ever since they announced it, I have tried to use it. I never got a version of the Helix player to work correctly and this time was no exception. Helix showed subtitles, and some sound, but the picture was like a frozen green bad TV signal. It just didn’t work well. (Although it loaded great from Seamonkey). The Real player view of free software is, Hey you guys wanted it, you fix it! But who wants to fix a player that still has nasty documents that are forced to sign just to see the source code. These corporate free software licences are usually just awful.

But at least Real Player tries to work with the free software community. Quicktime and Window’s media player don’t even bother having a version for Linux. This is a policy decision for Windows who want to crush the Linux Corporation underfoot, but I don’t know why there is no Quicktime.

And, speaking of non free Apple stuff, I got the Real Player document that I wanted to watch from my alma mater, The University of Texas. They had sample lectures in Real Player on their website. But while browsing, I came across the College of Education’s laptop initiative, and it made my blood boil.

The college requires its students to buy a laptop. I don’t disagree with this as I am a technophile, but the College lists this statement on its website:

In order to provide the best possible support for students and faculty in the initial years of this innovative laptop project, only one operating system will be supported. To minimize the cost of this requirement for students who do not already own or cannot borrow a computer meeting the prescribed specifications, the College of Education has sought competitive bids from leading computer vendors. Based on careful consideration of cost, functionality, ease of use, and vendor commitment to an ongoing support partnership, the Apple Macintosh has been selected as the required platform for at least the first three years of the laptop initiative program..

Now is that not being in bed with Apple, or what? It gets my goat that a distinguished educational institution would be so closed to the ideals of free software!

But I’ve got to calm down now, because this is the life of a free software purist. You try to do what you think is right in the face of blatant favoritism and closed mindedness. Maybe I should take the flash plugin off again.



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