* Posts by Martyn Welch

28 publicly visible posts • joined 21 Aug 2007

New software sells new hardware – but a threat to that symbiosis is coming

Martyn Welch

Sorry, but this seems like quite a bad take. There's aspects of this I can 100% agree with and others that smack of opinion with a lack of research or knowledge.

You make the assertion that "some freeloaders just use this stuff and don't contribute anything back. Many might not even realize that they're doing it. Apple's macOS is built on a basis of open source. Android is too, and ChromeOS". When it comes to Linux and hardware support, we are primarily talking about kernel level development. This is an area that I'm fairly familiar with. Let's just take a look at the development statistics for a few of the last kernel development cycles (data from LWN):

6.0: Google, 85886 lines changed, 5.4% of total, 4th overall in this metric.

5.19: Google, 30767 lines changed, 2.5% of total, 8th overall in this metric.

5.18: Google, 103801 lines changed, 8.8% of total, 3rd overall in this metric.

5.17: Google, 24971 lines changed, 4.1% of total, 6th overall in this metric.

Broadly the same looking at changesets.

That also probably misses a tonne of work that they finance in the kernel space alone through outside consultancies (which I know that they do).

I know that their contributions also extend to at least some other FOSS components they use, though I have far less knowledge there as it's not my area of focus. There is probably broad swathes of the Linux ecosystem that they don't contribute to, however there's large portions of the ecosystem that aren't used in the products they create. There certainly are vendors in the FOSS ecosystem that use and contribute nothing back, but (for all their sins) I don't feel it's remotely appropriate to try and paint Google in that light.

(For transparencies sake, I don't work for Google, however I do work at a consultancy that does work for Google so have some awareness of some of the work done for them although I'm not currently involved in it.)

EU proposes regulations for tablet battery life, spare parts

Martyn Welch

Re: Please do it.

Google have been working for quite a while to try and address this. I suspect the sticking point is either the phone manufacturers or the carriers. I don't think Google wield a huge amount of power here, the code for Android is mostly open source and there's probably a limit how much they can lean on manufacturers with the play store etc.

For first time in nearly 17 years, stable Linux kernel version has over 999 commits – but not everyone heard about it

Martyn Welch

Re: Not quite 31 years

The stable trees as they currently exist have been a feature for quite a while, Wikipedia suggests since 2005...

There's a fine line to be trodden when considering updates to a "stable" kernel, or probably any other software to be honest. Too few updates and it becomes a security hole riddled liability. Too many and it's no longer something software written when an earlier point release was current can run on.

The rules for what can be included in a stable kernel are well defined as it's the process for having changes considered:


My gut feeling is that part of the increase in patches being applied to the stable kernel is due to there being more focus on using the stable kernels now than there may have been in the past (which shows it's achieving its goals I suppose and more effort made available to work on them as a result) and there's probably an element of the seemingly never ending increase in kernel contributions resulting in more potential for both bugs and the generation of fixes.

More than half of UK workers would consider jumping ship if a hybrid work option were withdrawn by their company

Martyn Welch

Re: Losing

You might be "living in a Covid funded bubble", though there are some of us that have been home working for years. As far as I know, the company I work for took no furlough money. We have offices, those workers who mostly *chose* to work in them were given support to work from home. The offices were closed before it was mandated. Very little changed for us, we just kept working.

I shall take your previous comment "In the shot term a talented few will be able to pull off this trick" as a complement, thanks.

Sure, not going to be true for everyone, some jobs do require access to some fixed infrastructure. Mine doesn't. As a result the company I wok for employ globally and as a result I get to work with an amazing and outstanding group of diverse individuals. I've actually moved further away from my closest office this year, something that the company has no issues with due to our globally spread workforce.

By requiring office working for all your employees you are limiting your talent pool, either geographically or by not enabling potential employees to work around other non-work commitments. Might be working for you at the moment and I hope for your sake that doesn't change, there are still plenty of people out there which would seem to prefer working in an office. But I recon you have a few employees that are actively looking for other options given the stance you seem to have taken, even if they won't admit that to you.

I'm happy not to be commuting and clogging up the roads for those that don't have the choice. I'm happy to be able to support local businesses where I live or make myself a decent fresh lunch at home in my kitchen, rather than the type of options which I can take as a packed lunch or are available a in business park. I love the fact my kids get to see a bit more of me. I'm glad I can spend my non-contracted hours and wages on things that matter to me, not commuting costs.

If in the long run I end up paying a bit more tax, so be it. I still think I'll be in a better place as a result and so will the environment.

Martyn Welch

Re: We've been saying...

Because your office may not be around the corner from a post office?

Tech support scammer dialed random number and Australian Police’s cybercrime squad answered

Martyn Welch

Re: “Police recommend that you do not engage with scammers,”

Ditto. I usually use it as a bit of sport, feigning ignorance but generally not lying. It's not really my fault if when asked "What key do you see next to the C.T.R.L. key?" and I answer "A wavy flag", they assume I am running windows.

I consider myself off my game if they haven't sworn at me by the end of the call.

I did once try to pretend I was running Windows 3.11.

Come on, Amazon: If you're going to copy open-source code for a new product, at least credit the creator

Martyn Welch

> And how GPL would have changed the situation?

As the article states, the code in question is a browser extension. As a result the extension needs to be downloaded to the users PC. That would constitute distribution and thus the terms of the GPL would come into play.

If you really want recognition for the things you write, then you should use a license which stipulates that.

Drink this potion, Linux kernel, and tomorrow you'll wake up with a WireGuard VPN driver

Martyn Welch

Re: Why?

> The module mechanism was invented so that you could add functionality without having to include it in the kernel as a compile time option.

No, it wasn't. It was added so that the *compiled* modules didn't all need to be loaded into memory at boot time, enabling the core kernel to stay quite small, but allow a single binary build to provide all the drivers necessary for booting on many systems, which is key (for example) to how distributions provide support for the numerous x86 systems with a single installation.

The kernel doesn't provide a stable module ABI, or infact any guarantees about the stability of the module API for use with out of tree drivers. It is strongly recommended that drivers get merged into the kernel source (should they meet the required coding standards and prove acceptable to the kernel developers).

What the kernel developers will do is fix any drivers that use an internal kernel API when it is changed, assuming it's been merged into the kernel source tree. There are also strong promises in place that the kernel/user space API won't change (quickly at least), but that is an orthogonal issue.

Don't panic, but Linux's Systemd can be pwned via an evil DNS query

Martyn Welch

I don't follow...

Can you explain to me your rationale for believing that "you can take down the entire OS via the init with a malicious dns response" when systemd-resolved is quite clearly a separate binary from that running as init and has also dropped its privileges and is running as a non-root user?:

# ps | grep init

1 root 7824 S {systemd} /sbin/init ldb

1108 root 2696 S grep init

# readlink -f /sbin/init


# readlink -f /usr/lib/systemd/systemd-resolved


# ps | grep systemd-resolved

359 systemd- 5816 S /usr/lib/systemd/systemd-resolved

1097 root 2696 S grep systemd-resolved

# cat /etc/passwd | grep systemd-resolve



# cat /etc/group | grep systemd-resolve



What should password managers not do? Leak your passwords? What a great idea, LastPass

Martyn Welch

Re: The perfect Password

Any site that can claim "too similar to previous password" rather than "identical to a previously used password" should lead to probing questions like "Are you storing my passwords in plain text?".

Blighty's Parliament prescribed tablets to cope with future votes

Martyn Welch

Hang on...

They're still going to do the stupid walking through the door ways, just a tablet is going to be used to record who walks through which door rather than, I assume, a pen and paper.

This is such a small step forward it's hardly news worthy. If they were staying seated and each individually voting from a device *that* would be news worthy, but that's not what the article send to be saying they are going to do.

Everything Everywhere's 4G party bus could run Three off a cliff

Martyn Welch
Thumb Down

Re: Let 3/Three die

I respectfully disagree. There coverage does have a few holes, which might have more to do with the frequencies they have access to, but they are also significantly cheaper than the larger networks. I'm quite happy to trade the occasional loss of coverage when I'm paying under 1/2 of what I'd be playing on the larger networks.

Google promises 0.001 of revenue to free the slaves

Martyn Welch


It would be 0.1% or 0.001 when expressed as a decimal fraction. Did you miss the lack of a percent sign in the title?

Google 'clamps down' on world of Android partners

Martyn Welch


"The difference between TVs and phones however is this little thing called STANDARDS. TVs accepts a STANDARD input and proceed to display it. Phone manufacturers/devs/carriers obey few such rules."

Eh?! So if phones don't follow standards, how is it you can buy an unlocked mobile; separately get a SIM card from any of the network operators; whack it in and make a call?

Pavement hogging Segway rider convicted

Martyn Welch

Re: C5 on the road

> How would a C5 (or a vertical C5) be a menace on the road?

It'd scratch my paintwork.

Telegraph trips over the Large Hardon Collider

Martyn Welch


Wouldn't it have been part of the editors job to have spotted the mistake before it was published?

Dell bars Win 7 refunds from Linux lovers

Martyn Welch

What to do?

Ask Dell via their on-line chat why they don't provide Linux or FreeDOS on PCs in the UK. They seem to offer many in the US, but not the UK.

The more that ask, the greater the apparent demand...

Open source - the once and future dream

Martyn Welch



Martyn Welch

It's not about giving the work away

Contributing to GPLed or other open sourced licensed software is not about giving your work away, it's about allowing others to benefit from your work whilst trying to ensure that any further modifications made are also available for others to benefit from as well.

Public Domain does not stop others from taking my hard work, modifying it slightly and monetarily gaining from it without me or others also gaining anything. It has nothing to do with me wanting to be selfless, it's about sharing with those who are also willing to share.

UK government rebuffs cries for free postcode database

Martyn Welch

I guess what you are looking for...

I guess what you are looking for is http://freethepostcode.org/ ?

Google to mobile industry: ‘F*ck you very much!’

Martyn Welch

Re: Think how Nokia would have felt...

"If they would have chosen to develop some Android devices, and side track Maemo for it."

Um, may be something along the lines of "wasn't it a great idea to make some of those, we made quite a bit of profit without needing to develop the whole OS on it ourselves"?

First ever supersonic stealth jumpjet starts hover tests at last

Martyn Welch

@John Robson

From what I can remember of the design as shown in TV shows, when this was competing against another design (I believe) from Boeing, the JSF can provide some thrust out of vents at the wing tips (or something like that) to control roll.

Microsoft to bomb Europe with IE-free Windows 7

Martyn Welch

Windows Update

I guess this means that windows update process has been detached from Internet Explorer? Or has this already happened in Vista?

London consumers trounce corporates in wireless security

Martyn Welch

WEP on home wireless networks.

Using WPA is all well and good and I would have no hesitation in using it if not for one small problem, which I'm sure is shared by a number of other home wifi users - some of the older (and not so old) devices I own do not support WPA. The most notable of these devices (though by no means the only) is the Nintendo DS, which seems to stubbornly only support WEP.

OpenOffice builds extensions for v2.3

Martyn Welch

@Christopher Michaelis

Um, Openoffice already supports ODF, in fact it's the default file format.

I think you mean microsoft's OpenXML. Though it would be reasonable for Openoffice to provide support for OpenXML, I personally I feel it would be far nicer to see microsoft supporting existing standards and provide filters in their products (Office and the others like Works, which I believe still exists) for the ISO certified Open Document Format. That is rather than relying on third parties to try and write add-on filters.

Dell's Linux sleight of hand

Martyn Welch

@ P.Pod

"Does anybody here know one single person not employed in the IT industry who runs Linux as an everyday machine?"

Yes, infact, I do, a few and they aren't all computer geeks either. I do provide a small amount of support to some of them, but I have had to provide less support than to those I know still using windows.

"There are some round here who won't want to admit it, but XP and Vista work perfectly well on any Dell pre-installation."

XP and Vista may work well on any new Dell machine, but just about any new machine is over-kill for the 50% (conservative guess) of computer users that use their computer to browse the web, send and receive email and do some light wordprocessing. Unless of course you happen to run microsoft's latest OS which, without wanting to go too hippie, means that running this OS to do just these tasks is a gratuitous waste of resources.

"As for those that complain about the price - well if you buy a few million copies like Dell then Microsoft will offer you a good price too!"

Which fails to make any comparison with the licencing cost of providing Linux on those machines. Given that the basic option provides "No Ubuntu support [Included in Price]" (other than the free community support of helpful users and developers, that are in most cases far more responsive to the needs of a single home user than microsoft) means that that actual licensing cost is near zero. Dell are free to download the distribution from the Ubuntu site, like anyone else, create and install image and blat it onto as many drives as they so desire. I say near zero cost since to comply with the licencing, as a distributor of the code, they must provide the source on request, which is usually achieved buy placing it on a ftp/web server, thus allowing interested parties to download it. This incurs some bandwidth costs.

Now, if I buy a enough copies of microsoft's latest attempt at an OS to be able to provide every human on the planet with 3 licenses (one for work, a laptop and home computer) and enough to coat the entire land surface area off the planet in licence key stickers, I might, just, possibly, get the licencing costs down to an approximation of that of Linux. Though interestingly this won't include the cost of those pesky microsoft office licenses and other sundry applications to provide the equivalent functionality installed in the standard Ubuntu install. Ok, you could just use open office on windows, but if your going to do that and are one of the above mentioned 50%, why not just run Linux and save yourself the cost of those OS licenses?

Martyn Welch

@Andy S

"I actually find it hard to believe that anyone technically adept enough to want linux would buy from dell rather than put a pc together themselves."

It's a matter of cost. It is simply not possible to build 1 pc, with equivalent specs (including running noise) for a similar price.

Microsoft vs. Google – the open source shame

Martyn Welch


"the one that controls your search queries, e-mails, instant messages, photos, documents and soon phone calls without ever discussing an open standard that will let you manipulate all that data or let you move it to a new service provider"

Search Queries: OK, no open standard, but the interface is well documented - http://code.google.com/enterprise/documentation/xml_reference.html

Emails: Mail accessible and downloadable via POP3 - http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=10350&query=Export+Mail&topic=&type=f

Contacts: Contacts can be exported to CSV (including a layout suitable for importing into outlook) - http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=24911&topic=1530

Instant Messaging: Talk uses the Jabber/XMPP protocol, which is based on open standards - http://www.google.com/talk/otherclients.html

Photos: Not exactly sure what you are getting at here, Picasa is a desktop app as far as I know, so the files are saved locally.

Documents: Again, not exactly sure what you are getting at here, but Google Docs and Spreadsheats allows you to "save your files to your own computer in DOC, XLS, CSV, ODS, ODT, PDF, RTF and HTML formats" - http://www.google.com/google-d-s/intl/en-GB/tour3.html

Beyond that - Videos can be downloaded from Google Video, even if it iss just in a format suitable for use on iPods and PSPs.

They also provide a fair amount of information about there APIs - http://code.google.com/

How is that not allowing you to manipulate your data or move to a new service provider? Would you prefer them to talk about open standards more rather than actually using them where possible?