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Ben Goodger wrote:
> 1. Is it so difficult for Linux to not turn Num Lock off six or seven times
> during the transition from GRUB to GNOME? It keeps turning it off, at every
Check to see if your BIOS is also trying to set NumLock and then check
the config of either X or your desktop manager (kdm, gdm or xdm). This
isn't something that I've come across before but installing a new
package is probably not the answer.
> 3. Why does Flash have such poor audio control which more often than not
> results in it being completely silenced, fixed only by restarting ALSA?
Likely answer is that ALSA doesn't really have much idea what actually
happens inside the black-box that is a proprietary Flash driver. All
Flash support has to be painstakingly reverse engineered and that is
probably the most difficult job in modern programming. So when the free
software Flash driver tries to work with ALSA, the developers have to
work without the knowledge of how Flash is "supposed" to work. This
always leads to bugs.
Until Macromedia allow free software developers access to the API, these
problems will continue. Proprietary solutions will always suffer from
these problems, that is why proprietary code elicits such an extreme
reaction from free software developers (like myself and Kai).
We *want* to help you solve these problems. We *want* to be able to
support the absolute latest Flash and 3D acceleration. The problem is
that the people designing the methods that implement this functionality
don't want to work with us.
> 4. Why do Flash and Java plugins have such poor keyboard input? Is it so
> difficult to make them accept it? (firefox)
Possibly, yes. Again, Java is somewhat open but the JDK is still not
under a free software licence and problems integrating Java into other
systems are still down to Sun to solve - if they are interested in
solving them. Free software developers simply do not have access to the
code to solve the problems.
If that is true, it could be down to the extra layers involved - part of
the mechanism to support proprietary interfaces can involve some form of
emulation and that can be very CPU intensive. Try comparing the CPU
usage rather than just timing.
> 7. why, even when I input the horz/vert settings from its manual, can X not
> get sane refresh rates while Windows obtains a comfortable 85Hz at the same
> colour depth and resolution?
That one is relatively easy. It is because Microsoft enter a private
agreement with the monitor/graphics card manufacturer whereby the
details of the hardware are declared to the MS developers. This allows
the installer to have a reliable reference table, indexed on the
machine-readable ID string for the device concerned.
Some of these hardware tables are available in the free software world,
some are not and it is particularly prevalent in more recent hardware.
Generally, the older the hardware, the more likely it is that someone
has calculated the required data (sometimes by trial and error,
sometimes by reverse engineering) and made that data available to the
free software world. Note that simply obtaining the data via the MS type
licensing would make the free software developer (and potentially the
user) liable for prosecution.
> 8. Why, indeed, does X require me to enter these to get the thing
> working at
> all? Is there something stopping it from achieving basic levels of
> user-friendliness which were reached by Microsoft eleven years ago or more,
> and Apple a good time before that?
Microsoft and Apple have non-disclosure agreements with the various
manufacturers that allow their developers full access to these settings.
Apple traditionally limited their risk by keeping their hardware
specific to their systems. Microsoft obtain the data simply be being the
monopoly player. Manufacturers know they won't sell their hardware
without Windows operability. So Microsoft are the driving force behind
the non-disclosure and Apple's previous usage of a limited range of
hardware made their agreements less problematic. The core problem lies
with the Microsoft monopoly - some manufacturers would be willing to
offer their data to RedHat or Debian but are prevented by the agreements
that Microsoft required to allow Windows support.
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