Web Excursions 2021-07-16

Why SteamOS goes Arch; and why the legal world doesn’t works well with modularity.


Steam Deck FAQ

  • What OS is Steam Deck running?

SteamOS 3.0, a new version of SteamOS based on Arch Linux.

  • Will people be able to install Windows, or other 3rd party content?

Yes. Steam Deck is a PC, and players will be able to install whatever they like, including other OSes.

Hacker News

opheliate: What was wrong with SteamOS being based on Debian? I’ve not used SteamOS myself, but I wasn’t aware there were problems in that regard.

  • Conan_Kudo: It's ancient and Valve had to do tons of backports to support it properly. I imagine they didn't like that very much.

    • desine: it’s not that Debian itself is ancient, it’s that they prioritize stability and thus older packages.

      • Arch is still a better choice because gaming is generally using cutting edge software.

    • Wowfunhappy: What does Valve have to backport? Surely games aren’t targeting super new libraries?

      • Jnr: 3d graphics libraries, drivers, input libraries, etc.

        • It is a nightmare getting the latest versions for those on Debian/Ubuntu.

        • Valve is pushing Linux gaming forward a lot and recent package versions are required in order to run games well.


Modularity is not the Law

  • Basic contract law prevents lawyers from composing contracts out of interchangeable parts.

    • legal principles prevent lawyers from ripping a section out of one contract and adding it to another without fear of unintended side effects.

      • other provisions of the destination contract can implicitly change the effect of the borrowed section

      • The borrowed section can implicitly change the effect of other sections in the destination contract

      • Even if new and old sections do not share defined terms or cross-references in common, side effects can cross the whitespace between neatly isolated chunks of contract.

  • Nearly everything made efficiently is made of parts that can be swapped out in that way.

  • Bad News

    • contract-law classics:

      • A contract should be read as a whole, with no provision considered in isolation.

      • no provision is meaningless.

      • Interpret each provision consistently with the overall scheme or plan of the agreement.

      • When parties enter multiple written agreements at the same time and for the same purpose, construe them together.

      • When a generality follows a list of specifics, construe the generality to include only items of the same type as the specifics.

      • The inclusion of one item implies the exclusion of others.

      • Specific terms govern general terms.

      • Give a word used in multiple provisions the same meaning throughout.

    • Some of these maxims are exactly what we’d tell courts to do if we wanted to prevent lawyers from drafting modular contracts.

    • we seem less prepared to anticipate issues that don’t correspond to easy-to-find cross-references or defined term usage.

    • When it comes to terms that aren’t Defined Terms or shared concepts, or vague lawyer-math like “pro rata” we’re rolling dice.

  • Opting Out

    • it’s established practice to override, or opt out of, at least some modularity inhibiting maxims that turn out to be little more than default rules.

      • “headings don’t count” provisions that write headings out of the four corners of a contract.

      • “product of negotiation” clauses.

      • explicit precedence hierarchies among related documents and related provisions

      • Runs like “including, but not limited to” abound,

        • some practitioners even make a single clarification that applies throughout each agreement.

      • We all use contrived defined terms where the same word would be clear in context in plain English, but interpreted to have the same meaning throughout at law.

    • Could a contract state unequivocally that each section is to be interpreted, to the fullest possible extent, without implicit reference to any other sections or documents?

  • How to go about writing such provisions?

    • The relevant rules of law are dusty-volume common law in many states

    • the language used in key state-court opinions differs among jurisdictions.

    • Identifying each one in a contract might provide incredibly tedious