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Archive for January, 2007

El Momento de Verdad

January 31, 2007 Leave a comment

Most of the pages are finished and ready to be uploaded, and most of the editing is behind me. So having never missed a deadline in my life (not on my own, anyway), OpenSource Reporter goes “on the air” — or the on-line equivalent — right on time for its Feb. 1, 2007 schedule date tomorrow.

So as I systematically and periodically upload pages today (Wednesday, Jan. 31), tonight and early tomorrow morning, I should let you know a little bit about this publication.

For those of you who read this blog on a regular basis (those of you outside my family, that is), you know that OSR is a publication — both electronic- and paper-based — dedicated to promoting the tenets mentioned above in the description of this blog (for a more detailed version of why I’m doing this, go to my first blog installment), and generally to bring free software/open source software to people that deserve fresh alternatives in their daily computing experiences — alternatives that don’t require the imprimatur of the software mandarins in Redmond or Cupertino.

At this point, it’s only fitting to recognize the people who are instrumental in getting this project off the ground.

First, raise a glass to toast my OSR colleague Tod Landis, whose vast technical knowledge is OSR’s “yin” to the “yang” of my journalistic experience. I may put the words on the page, but Tod’s expertise, knowledge and insight are really the spark plug that powers the engine of this publication.

Then, if we can face toward San Jose, Calif., we bow thankfully to Cameron Spitzer, who keeps progressives, lefties and even Luddites on the net, and is arguably the Silicon Valley’s uber-geek without peer. Cameron planted the seeds of OSR through discussions about free software/open source software with me and, as the Green Internet Society’s guru, he hosts OSR on GIS’s server.

Gratitude also goes to my wife Kyoko for the world class, Olympic-caliber depth of patience she has shown to my new-found evangelical zeal, and to my daughter Mirano who, at 9, watches intently over Dad’s shoulder, asks the eternal “why . . ?” and shows a propensity for grasping software (starting with Earthlink’s Trellix to make her own web page) that far outshines her Dad.

Organizations which have paved the way for OSR (not a complete list, obviously) include The Free Software Foundation, Creative Commons and the Electronic Frontier Foundation — all groups which you should go out and join and/or contribute to right now. A tip of the hat also goes to the Silicon Valley Linux Users Group, which fields an inordinate number of questions from this Linux newbie from “across the hill.”

Now, if I only had a bottle of champagne to break over . . . um . . . this PowerMac 9500 that’s sitting next to the coffee table waiting for its Linux install, perhaps that would make it official.

News, [views] and blues

January 26, 2007 Leave a comment

News: A very interesting storm seems to be brewing on the GNU Public License front in the advent of GPL-3, according to CRN’s story here. Give it a good read — it may not affect software users directly, but it gives one a better understanding of the differences between free software and open source software camps, and the dynamic involved in moving free software and open source software forward.

[Me? Oh, I'm firmly behind Richard Stallman and FSF, but I'm willing to discuss it with those who disagree.]

Meanwhile, in other developments: Linux’s two most important support groups, the Open Source Development Labs and the Free Standards Group, said this week they’ll merge in February to form the Linux Foundation. It’s an acknowledgement that Linux can’t afford to divide its resources for funding, legal defense, and standards, since problems on any of those fronts could weaken the operating system’s advancement. “We will be a vendor-neutral organization capable of responding to competitors’ attacks and FUD,” says Jim Zemlin, executive director of the new foundation and former head of the Free Standards Group.

[Oh, indeed. Associate memberships range from $25 for individuals to rare-metal named memberships of $500,000.]

Blues: I’m this close to getting Linux running on my extraneous PowerBook G3 Wallstreet, but I keep getting a PEBKAC error (problem exists bewteen keyboard and chair, for those who aren’t IT guys and gals) which prevents me from joining the world of the open source OS ranks. While I get my dunce cap and make it over to the stool in the corner, I do want to thank Daniel at the Silicon Valley Linux User Group for his detailed instruction on Wednesday night that, hopefully, is still being adhered to (those parts of my notes that I can actually read) and will not go to waste.

Categories: Uncategorized

Walking the walk on a tightrope, with success

January 22, 2007 Leave a comment

It is a family tradition of sorts not to take the easy way out; a tradition I hope to outgrow as I get older, but so far to no avail. Why take the path of least resistance when the road less traveled is probably just that for a good reason?

Hence, while the Linux install on the PowerBook 1400 has gone as expected over the past several days (constant failure, although those who have achieved this elusive goal have mentioned that it would be a chore), I turned my sights on my top-of-the-Old-World list PowerBook G3 Wallstreet and a variety of Linux and Unix operating systems that might run on it — Debian and NetBSD being the finalists (although I am told that SuSE will run on Old World Macs — more on this another time, perhaps).

Fortunately for me, the Silicon Valley Linux User Group holds its installfest on the third Saturday of the month in one of the buildings on the Google campus in Mountain View, Calif. So with daughter Mirano in tow (my wife was under the weather), we made the trek “over the hill” on Saturday to see if they could help.

We were met at the door by Jason, who signed us in and guided us to the room where the installfest took place. The fact that he was working on a pair of Macs dispelled my fear that I’d be the only Mac user.

SVLUG president Paul Reiber, working on what he described as the group’s “Frakenstein” server, and Mark (whose last name I didn’t get — sorry, Mark) and I discussed options for my installation adventure. With the caveat that this model Mac is not the most Linux friendly, the two of them got me pointed in the right direction.

Left to my own devices with Linux folks nearby to ask questions possibly was the most comfortable environment to take the plunge from my Mac OS comfort zone to the new world of Linux with my Old World Mac. Mark occasionally stopped by to see how I was doing, and while I seemed to always on the brink of a breakthrough, I never got Debian going on Saturday. Time constraints (I had a real job to go to) — and a cranky 9-year-old who finds a group of computer people interesting only for so long — forced me to leave before I had successfully installed Debian.

In leaving, Paul mentioned that I would probably get everything going later, having taken a wealth of information from the meeting (which I did) and applying it at home. He was right: On Sunday, I tried some of the options I hadn’t done — or hadn’t occurred to me — and got Debian installed on the Wallstreet. Now to get it up and running . . . .

While extending a grateful “thanks” to those who helped me on Saturday, I would like to reiterate that getting involved with a user group is a great way to get started if you’re new to open source. While I don’t know how involved I can be from Santa Cruz, the folks at SVLUG have not seen the last of me.

Categories: Uncategorized
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