Ubuntu changes get worse: Now Digital Rights Management is under discussion

lukefromdc at hushmail.com lukefromdc at hushmail.com
Fri Mar 8 20:25:50 UTC 2013

For me to stay with Ubuntu, the packages I use, in clean versions,
need to stay in repo and never depend on packages I am not willing to install. Since
I regard my installed OS as a fork, it's what's in repo and what they depend on that counts,
not the default installation which now has little bearing on my own.

I draw the line at any attempt to restrict my power over my own machine, or
connects to the Internet without my explicit authorization. For my uses, even
automated bug reporting in things like Firefox is deemed unsafe and disabled. I
would switch to rekonq if not for the "browser fingerprintng" menace.

As of now, I have to remove software that looks online for names of audio files, as well
as the "shopping lens" and now all of Unity due to unknown future updates. 

If Ubuntu integrates DRM support to the point that you can't remove it, I will
have to switch distros. Same if I have to check every package update manually to
filter out addtions of DRM media support or especially any form of out-of-browser
online license checking. If I hear of Hollywood license servers used by Ubuntu, I
will certainly all of them out in /etc/hosts just in case something slips
past me. I don't like having to worry about getting something like this and finding out
months later after ISP logs have been generated!

On my own machines, I do not buy any form of paid content, so I don't 
need support for it. I produce only media distributed free, and only consume
free or pirated media. The activist media I produce has enemies, so it is by myself that
my machines must be trusted, not by Hollywood.  It is not possible for the same computer
to be trusted by both, save for a totally open machine.

In the production of activst media I must store encrypted files that
would be of interest to well-funded governmental enemies. That means the paths
used by encryption passwords must only pass through open-source software, so
nobody can hide a backdoor keylogger. 

Even proprietary video drivers are not recommended by encryption experts, 
and I won't mount an encrypted flash drive from the GUI on a machine running them
 for that reason.

DRM is another use of encryption, for purposes opposite my own. If I wanted to 
send a video to the security forces as a warning-but only let them play it as I 
streamed it, I would have to control the decryption key, AND the path taken by
the decrypted audio and video streams all the way to their eyes and ears. I would
have to be able to verify that they had not replaced the software I trusted with 
software they trusted. That is the fundamental issue of strong DRM, analysed by 

DRM isn't quite there, as it can't beat a camera and microphone, nor wires hooked
to speaker leads inside an HDMI compliant speaker cabinet. Still it means having to
control all busses on which audio or video signals travel, it often means connecting to 
a keyserver, etc.

A machine supporting DRM is an attempt to make a machine Hollywood can trust.
To get there, the entire audio and video path have to be protected from users like myself.
That requires either closed-source, secure boot to a kernel that hash checks all binaries
(and thus slows down) or probably both.

In short, if Ubuntu wants to offer DRM any stronger than that supported by Flash,
they would have to use a set of "restricted" packages that would have to include
the kernel, video drivers, audio driver,  and all media players. None of those would
I be willing to install. I hope to hell these are kept separate and optional, so you can
at least choose a DRM or non-DRM install from the package manager.  Better if 
users could boot from a DRM or non DRM kernel, choosing at boot time.

In fact, Flash is a good  example here: if Adobe threw up their hands, walked away 
from it, and released it  under the GPL so someone else could mantain it, all Flash 
DRM content would be  instantly cracked. 

Everyone knows about Flash, few would trust, say, a Flash applet to open an encrypted
disk from the browser!  Hell, when using Tor browser for something that could land 
someone in jail or worse, you must disable Flash. Torbrowser could never be safely made from
a closed-source browser, whether it integrated Flash or not. Nor could it ever me made from 
a browser that cannot disable Flash.

You are right about metals: smartphones and tablets are the worst offenders, as their
small size requires special materials like Tantalum capacitors. That as well as trust are
reasons I choose not to own them. I also never throw out Pentium 4 or later hardware, 
repurposing and giving them away instead.

Free and open source software for encryption has saved lives of activists fighting against
resource extraction focussed dictatorships. 

On 03/08/2013 at 6:31 AM, "Kaj Ailomaa" <zequence at mousike.me> wrote:
>On Wed, 06 Mar 2013 20:16:17 +0100, <lukefromdc at hushmail.com> 
>> I've looked into rebasing my entire install directly on Debian 
>because of
>> first the Amazon mess, now the Mir mess, and finally word on 
>> that Ubuntu is looking into supporting digital rights 
>management, hoping
>> to run on smartphones.  They are abandoning the free and open 
>> and will HAVE to do so if they want to be a third commerical 
>> OS.
>There's no indication what so ever, of what I can see, that 
>Canonical is  
>abandoning free software.
>Please read what Marc Shuttleworth wrote in response to a lot of 
>what has  
>been going on lately. http://www.markshuttleworth.com/archives/1228
>IMO, all that has gone bad is communication. The suggestions and  
>announcements might have been presented at a better time, and in a 
>way. People got a bit shocked when there were so many changes at 
>once, so  
>suddenly announced, changing scheduled events that had been 
>planned for  
>months. And to top it off, announcing a window X replacement. Just 
>timing, I think.
>Ubuntu has never been blocking non-free software. Rather the other 
>around. However, the OS itself is free, and will always continue 
>to be.  
>That is the pledge that Canonical has given, and I see no 
>indication to  
>them taking back that pledge.
>Where do you draw the line? The kernel includes non-free drivers. 
>You are  
>free to build your own version of the kernel, of course.
>Debian packages those separately, and puts them in a non-free 
>repo, but  
>not Ubuntu. Why? For practical reasons. Most people rather just 
>have their  
>wifi working right off the bat.
>I'm not going to use DRM. Again, can't say what a Ubuntu phone 
>will look  
>like, but I find it hard to believe that one would be forced to 
>use such  
>non-free software technology.
>That said, has anyone considered the dirty business around 
>Precious metals and all that? I don't know much about it, but I 
>think we  
>could probably all agree on that all though the software is free, 
>mean the machine it runs on is a blessing to humanity.
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