[Consortium] re: a few more rants...

Marek Peteraj marpet at naex.sk
Wed Mar 3 14:01:53 EST 2004

Daniels msgs:
> I think that's up to the developer to decide. 
I'm not saying it isn't.
> The situation at the 
> moment is that many libre audio software developers don't even have 
> access to good quality or up to date hardware.
Define access. 

> Perhaps - but let me put it like this. The professional Linux audio 
> market is currently so small as to be insignificant to a hardware 
> company. We currently rely on good will to get any loan hardware or 
> specifications.
What is a professional Linux audio market? 
Is it the small linuxaudio userbase(both consumer users and professionals)? 
Define linux audio market.
Yes we rely on good will, but sucking up won't help us any further, 
it's only going to make things worse. The key here is to make the userbase wider.
> With the consequence that hardware support is still patchy.
Not at all. Lots of pro-grade audio cards have excellent drivers and support.
Besides, how is a loan going to improve the situation?
User: "i found a bug in driver X"
Developer:"Sorry, we don't have the hardware anymore"

To suggest or support a hw loan is highly irresponsible. 

Let's look at the responsibilities:

1. responsibilities of a developer towards a company – to _return_ the

a)they might require that you return it in the same condition with  
respect to regular wear and tear, which is very vague

b)loan period – for how long can a developer keep a hardware?

> Besides, the responsibility I was talking about was the responsibility
> of an individual to work with the community in return for having 
> primary access to the hardware.

2. responsibilities of a developer towards the community:

a developer can only work with people which have access to the same
hardware. Those can be developers or users testing the driver and
reporting. That means that more people need to have access to the same
hardware. Besides, not sure what the responsibility should be – if a
developer doesn't accept a patch, are you suggesting a "process of
arbitration overseen by the Linuxaudio.org Management Board" in order to
determine whether he was acting irresponsibly and the hardware should be
taken away from him or not? 

The main point is, however, the fact that the *ALSA team* should
negotiate and request:

* specs if a certain hardware is available to them
* both specs and hardware donation if a certain hardware isn’t available
but popular and requested by users

I have been struggling to get specs for a certain hw, the company(a huge
music industry player btw, which i'm not going to name here but Steve
knows ;) decided after 1,5 years of searching for the right people and
convincing them that it would be ok to provide the requested specs(I've
been in contact with their R&D department). However, they required an
ALSA member to confirm that the specs would be used for coding an ALSA
driver. Jaroslav has helped us and confirmed that. It was ~2 years ago.

The moral of this short story is that ALSA has been acknowledged by that
company 2 years ago as an official source for audio drivers. That was
before ALSA was included in 2.6 which makes this much more significant.

ALSA project leaders or contributors can be already accepted as a
guarantee, they're no anonymous persons which will sell donated hw on

> I think donors are looking for some responsibility from the community, 
> which seems fair enough to me.
> If a particular company wants to donate hardware worth thousands of 
> dollars to a libre software developer, they won't expect it to be 
> lost, damaged or sold on eBay.
They don't have to. See above(ALSA).

> I think we need to move beyond pure personal interest - to me, Linux 
> audio isn't a hobby.
Unless you're running a company or being employed by one, it's a hobby,
no matter how much you want linuxaudio to succeed.

I wasn't talking about pure personal interest, read on...

> I think we have very different ideas about how the community works. 
> Many developers do take their responsibilities very seriously, 
> including device driver maintainers. 

If you have a piece of hw lying around and you know you're able to
develop a driver for it, and given that you've got enough time and are
not lazy enough, you're going to do it so that you can use the hw

My 'personal interest' wasn't about open-source developers being pure
egoists  that just don't care. Not at all. They wouldn't even opensource
their hard work if it was like that. 

> So what happens when the cards we now recommend go out of production? 
They're all 24/96 which is going to stay with us for a while.
> What about Firewire devices?
IIRC somebody was already working on support for them.
msg from Richard:
> But that's the manufacturer's fault - not ours.  And use of the words 
> "ours" 
> and "we" here has to be under advisement it seems - some people want free 
> toys to play with, some people want to be taken seriously in a business 
> context and you can't apply a single loan policy to both camps.
I can see only one case where a loan would be appropriate:
a Linux Audio company developing an open-source Linux Audio project and
providing services - one of its clients has a certain type of hardware
which he needs support for. The Linux Audio company would borrow the
hardware from the manufacturer and get the needed specs in order to
develop, test out and finetune the driver.

Regarding the ZKM LAD conference.

Everybody remembers that endless thread on LAD and on this list.

About the usage of the term 'Linuxaudio' and the domainname.

I was suggesting to use that term for everything we have, that's the LA*
lists, the LAD site, events and so on and so forth.

While Daniel was claiming that linuxaudio.org is a different project.

If it is, it means that 'Linuxaudio' is different from 'Linux audio
developer' thus the conference should be called by the right name.

If the organisers of the event change the ZKM site and the LAD site to
reflect the change of name of that event to Linux Audio, only then
should it be called a Linux Audio conference. We should respect the
name, it's very likely that they had a reason to name it like that.

BTW i'm all for changing the name, that's why i was suggesting to have
linuxaudio.org pointing at the LA* lists and provide information about
events, sw and community news etc. 

But it's up to Frank and Matthias to decide. Not you Daniel, not anyone
of us.


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