How is Vista going to affect people using Linux?

I’ve done a bit of research into Windows Vista - enough to tell me that I’d never ever want to run it on any computer of my own. I discovered some things about DRM, and about how Microsoft is going to try and make manufacturers of monitors and graphics cards play ball, or else.

But I didn’t really get it. One document I read said that it would make getting drivers for certain components under Linux even harder than it is now. Is this true?

How is whatever’s going on under the hood of Windows Vista going to affect people running Linux?

Try to keep it factual…


Well, it sounds to me like you read “A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection” among other things. The article was rather to the point, but some people think it is a bit paranoid. Here’s what I seem to understand:

  • Media companies desire to encrypt and “protect” their “intellectual property”, making it “impossible” to view content without licensed decryption keys.
  • Media companies control the licensing and distribution of these decryption keys.
  • Media companies do not want people to discover these decryption keys, because then they would be able to circumvent the “protection” on the “intellectual property.”
  • Microsoft wants to offer their users the option and ability to play HD content. (My personal opinion is that Microsoft is trying to combine the internet, video games, and television/movies into one computer-based home appliance. This seems to be just the next step in the process).
  • The media companies are pressuring Microsoft to “protect” their “intellectual property” by enforcing strict policies on programs and hardware that have access to the decrypted data. Microsoft is also a media company (think X-Box), so they also care about protecting decrypted "premium content."It seems to me that Microsoft is not trying to tighten an iron fist of control over people as much as they are just taking the next step in their business model of integrating computers and personal entertainment.

You asked how this would affect Linux users, though. The answer is “not much.” Don’t get me wrong, Microsoft is trying to either control or destroy Linux, but Vista doesn’t really accomplish that. I only know of two major problems that arise for Linux users:

  • Linux users will have to pay the new higher prices for hardware that will supposedly result from adding content protection features, but they will not reap the “benefits” of those new features.
  • Windows Vista Bitlocker (if used) may make it impossible to mount an encrypted Windows partition from Linux. Maybe.I think the bigger threat is to the free and open source software movement. Since “premium content” decryption keys must (by nature) remain “hidden,” they can only be realistically included in closed-source software. Also, certain low-level hardware specifications that may reveal methods of bypassing the “protection” must be kept secret. Since media companies charge steep licensing fees for the use of their decryption keys, it is very unlikely that a program able to play “premium content” or HD content would ever be distributed free of charge. A person or company could legally write a program for Linux to play HD content and utilize restrictive hardware features, but that program would never be open-souce, and it would almost certainly not be free.


I hope this really gives the Linux guys a boost.Lots of Manufacturers are starting to offer Linux, and Linux+Windows dual boot systems.

hope more hardware companies get on the linux band wagon.

I know I am not going to run vista, when My XP licence runs out, I will just switch over full time to linux, and virtualize when I have to, for things like Zbrush.

With more people donating to Linux projects, I am hoping we see some better API for windows games, I really dont like the idea of paying a monthly fee to cedega just to play my favorite games.WINE is running steam applications pretty well for me at work. I hope to see it really bloom.

my 2 1/4 cents.

Wont affect Linux users really as people using Vista are either going back to XP or dabbling with Linux.

paying a monthly fee to cedega

You dont have too. As Cedega is based from Wine its GPL’ed so you have access to the source code if you wish to compile it yourself for free.
The subscription charge is there to get non-developers voice heard directing the developers to the games most users want. Its your own decision whether you think that is good or a bad idea. :slight_smile:

You dont have too. As Cedega is based from Wine its GPL’ed so you have access to the source code if you wish to compile it yourself for free.

Yea you and I know that, but the new people dont. Here are the exact instructions on the main site:

Simply subscribe to TransGaming and you will be able to download Cedega immediately. Now you can play too!

They just funnel them in to the sales page, no mention of the free source.

The average person new to linux is not going to know how to compile.
That is one thing I really like about PC Linux, If you look around there is a repository done by an independent guy named Thac .So you can just apt-get, or use synaptic to just install it from SRPM’s.

As Cedega is based from Wine

Indeed another fine bit of software is called Crossover I think some of the WINE guys do that too.

I would love to see someone like Novel or Ubuntu or Redhat dump a bunch of money on WINE. I am very impressed with the performance with a few of my games.

vie got wow and Guild Wars installed in wine, and they work very well, indeed.

and i agree, vista doesn’t directly affect linux much.

I suspect one of the indirect effects of Vista will be to vastly increase the size of the Linux users community.

I hope so.

I think it used to be that people viewed it like this:

“Windows XP is a bit expensive, but it does everything I need it to do, and that’s worth paying for. Besides, Linux isn’t really a satisfactory alternative.”

But now, perhaps…

“Windows Vista is to expensive, and there are too many releases. It does some of what I need to it do, alot of what I don’t want/need it to do, and to make it fully functional, I need to pay alot more money. Linux is looking like a compelling alternative.”

That’s at least how I might view it.

Yes, it is an interesting thought - I think that linux is becoming more well known recently, though I think it is mainly due to the quality of distros these days, the issues with Vista have certainly compounded that fact. Also, a very basic top level search for ‘Vista’ on youtube brings up in the 4th position the video ‘WINDOWS VISTA AERO VS LINUX UBUNTU BERYL’. Hehe. Anyone looking at that is bound to be impressed, at least at face value, since it is an attention grabber. It does have 1.8 million views as of now.

True there are many releases, though the consumer only really has 2 choices - Premium and Basic… And you don’t want to get Basic. From what I’ve seen it is slow as hell and rather buggy, even on a brand new dual core laptop with a gig of ram… Windows Mail took 10-20 seconds just to start. Even browsing files and images is slow.

The biggest thing that is holding back linux at the moment as far as I can tell is wireless networking… Can be a real bitch. Apart from that, it’s only really support for proprietary windows apps that’s a problem… And that ain’t the fault of linux devs. Ironically you can get more windows apps to run on linux than you can on macosx. Though some apps will run better on OSX in crossover.

I don’t know how Vista’s hardware demands are going to affect linux. It is possible that if they persist with the HD Premium content thing that you won’t be able to play such premium content on linux… But I doubt it. Personally HD is not a concern. DVD quality is really enough for me, as I watch my stuff on pc screens at a fair distance. I’m even happy with compressed video - takes up less space on my hard disk :wink:

No such thing as a technology that is uncrackable! Beleive me, they’ll find a way to bypass the HD thing, or Blu-Ray disk will push through instead.

Well, you never could play HD content on Linux at it is, so we haven’t really lost anything.

The whole encrypted DVD thing is a bit frustrating to me, though. I don’t pirate movies as it is, and it makes me very upset when I cannot legitimately use something that I have legitimately purchased.

Current HD encryption has already been cracked on Vista. It took about a weeks time for the guy to do it. The story goes that he was angry because he had a legitimately owned DVD that he wanted to legitimately watch in Vista and he could not. So he cracked it. Blu-Ray will fall the same way.

The reason media encryption can so easily be broken is that the decryption key must be present somewhere in the player (software or hardware) in order for the player to be able to read the disc. It then follows that it is only a matter of finding where the key is and capturing it. Also, if the decrypted media can be intercepted at any point in the process, the key is immediately compromised. That’s why the media companies want to move the decryption process to the monitor/television itself. They want as little chance of someone being able to intercept the decrypted data as is possible.

Then the key wouldn’t be very hidden. People would dump the bios to a computer, then find the key in it. Probably quicker than looking through a player code.

Yeah, I think, as long as you are able to watch the content somehow on your end, there will ALWAYS be a way to break encryption… Unless you start getting into crazy quantum encryption or some shit.