Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Geek Wednesday: Uncle Bill's Signing Statements

Most of our readers are all too painfully aware of this scenario: Congress passes a bill--let's say it's a bill that reaffirms a renunciation of torture as policy, and mandates universal adherence to the standards of the Geneva Conventions. Not only is the bill passed; it is endorsed by an overwhelming, veto-proof majority of Congress.

So the Bush-Cheney-Rove tyranny machine is in a bit of a pickle: veto said bill and be exposed for the despots that they truly are, or swallow hard, sign it and live with it.

The machine, of course, discovered a third option: sign the bill and add a P.S.: "does not apply to us." Simple, straightforward protection. It's the legislative equivalent of a pre-nup agreement: you can marry me but you can't have my money or my assets. You can pass laws but we don't have to abide by them.

Now we introduce to the discussion (speaking of pre-nups) Mr. William Gates, departing CEO of a small firm based in the great American northwest. He and his minions have seen the GPL version 3 and scribbled into the margin: "does not apply to us."

Well, what would you expect? Our culture has for decades been settling under government by corporations; now that we have a truly corporate government, the lines between power and profit, the top dog and the bottom line, public good and private wealth, the corporation and the republic, have been erased. Whether it's Suse Linux or Habeas Corpus that's left holding the empty bag is merely a fleshing out of detail; the principles are the same.

I've been doing some installs onto Parallels 3.0 on the Mac Book. I've installed the following:

  • Windows XP Home (SP2): after a successful install and several good sessions (during one of which I actually activated and registered the install with MS), I opened it to discover a login prompt which I'd never seen before. There had been no prompt for creating a user during install, and the PW field that came up identified me as "Owner". I tried blank and then "owner" (same as ID) as the PW, but no joy. I've got a support request in with Parallels to see what's up from their perspective. Too bad, because before this came up, I was very impressed with the performance and especially the "coherence" feature, which allows you to access Windows apps and open files in winapps while you're in your OS X GUI, while XP runs in the background. Very cool while it lasted.

  • Mandriva Linux: I installed the latest "Spring" version, but the display was very grainy and poor. I tried adjusting gamma, changing the resolution on the monitor (only one choice was available, neither of which suited the Samsung 22" display I use), but NG.

  • MEPIS Linux: Installed version 6 of Simply MEPIS 32 in Parallels and it failed to make a connection with the cable modem, even after I'd set it to both Automatic / DHCP and Manual / Fixed IP. Strange, because MEPIS instantly responds to most any network protocol automatically from its installation on my Wintel machine.

  • Ubuntu 7.04: Tried to install the Feisty Fawn onto the MacBook in Parallels, but got the "can't find RSDB" message at the outset, and the screen collapsed into a scramble of Ubuntu doodoo from there. Completely failed to load the live cd, let alone install.

  • Knoppix Linux live cd: This was very neat--a live cd that loaded beautifully into a working and fully-loaded KDE environment complete with GIMP, Open Office, Firefox, T-bird, and more. The most promising Linux I've seen for running on a virtual machine.
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