[Ardour-Users] ardour & "phoning home"

Simon Wise simonzwise at gmail.com
Sun Aug 8 23:43:12 PDT 2010

On 09/08/10 10:26, Ross Johnson wrote:
> Arnold Krille wrote:
>> On Saturday 07 August 2010 02:16:58 Ross Johnson wrote:
>>> Paul Davis wrote:
>>>> Why am I adding this to Ardour?


>> I would advice to go a similar route to what ffado does: ask the user,
>> tell him why we want to know, tell him what we want to know, allow for
>> anonymous sending and not sending at all (as well as identified
>> sending). And redo that procedure on every new version so you get more
>> accurate numbers.
> This is ok with me provided it's not hidden away or obfuscated so the
> user has a clear choice. That why distributions are less likely to turn
> it off as well.

The challenge here is to avoid the situation where very few people opt in. There 
seems to be a couple of issues here ...

1) It IS important to have this data.

One of the reasons is that there is an ongoing argument with the companies that 
manufacture audio hardware, to ask them to enable their devices to be supported 
in Linux. Without supported hardware apps like Ardour are almost useless, and 
Paul is in a much better position than most to put these arguments to those 
companies, like the ffado developers wrt firewire devices.

These companies often state that the data requested is private and they won't 
share it, that they prefer to keep it secret.

One of the only reasonable arguments against this is that many people are using 
Linux systems for audio and they will miss sales if they ignore these potential 
customers. It is easy to count the numbers of copies of software that have been 
paid for, or that have been distributed via some registration scheme. It is much 
harder to count the users of FLOSS systems unless those users are prepared to 
acknowledge their use of these systems in some real, countable way.

If the majority of FLOSS users choose to keep the fact that they are using Linux 
secret they will, quite reasonably, be ignored in these situations. There are 
many other situations where numbers of FLOSS users is important, for example 
when arguing for public documents to be accessible in formats usable in FLOSS 
systems, or when a developer is deciding which issues they should spend their 
limited time on.

2) If a person can't trust Paul enough to tell him which version of his software 
they are using and which OS they are using it on, how can they possibly trust 
him enough to allow his software to run on their system! I am assuming of course 
that very few have actually studied the code and the libraries it uses closely 
enough to understand them fully before compiling, then installing, the binaries.

FLOSS development is collaborative, it is not a private or individual effort. It 
relies on people sharing their knowledge, time and work. It is a collective 
effort. Developing it requires trusting other developers and maintainers, using 
it requires trusting the authors and maintainers. It would be extremely 
difficult for an individual to find time to read all the source code that makes 
up a typical system, and completely impossible to study it all closely enough to 
understand it given there are only 24 hours in a day.

The whole FLOSS framework relies on trust, openness and sharing, asking a user 
to formally acknowledge that they are a user requires a very low level of trust 
in comparison.

I'm not at all sure how to make a convincing argument in the space of a dialogue 
box, especially given the context of very widespread arguments circulating 
against sharing any information or data.


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