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A lesson in dealing with the devil

July 24, 2007 Leave a comment

Lindows — I’m sorry, it’s Linspire — sold its soul recently to have Microsoft help them “build a better Linux” (waiting for laughter to die down). Here’s a list of what they got:

True Type fonts.

Windows Media 10 Player.

DVD Playback.

Patent (ahem) “coverage,” which many people might consider extorted “protection” money, but I digress.

That’s it.

This deal is worse than the Novell deal, says Pamela Jones at Groklaw, and outlines Linspire’s soul-selling-for-mere-pittance, line by line (almost), here. Being the journalist and legal eagle that she is (although she warns that you should consult a real attorney if the agreement affects you in real time), Jones goes to great lengths to show what a dog this deal is and displays, just as she has been tireless in the SCO case, just why it sucks to be Linspire these days.

At the end of her lengthy tome, she makes the following poignant observation which, going forward, should be at the forefront of the GNU/Linux discussion: “For myself, I think it’s time to think really seriously about who should be allowed to use the name Linux, before the trademark loses all its traditional meaning.”

Indeed.

Also, I can’t help wondering how long it will take the people at Linspire to grab pitchforks and torches and race through the streets of Lindowsland looking for Kevin Carmony in order to give him a good tar-and-feathering.

[FSF Associate Member](Larry Cafiero, editor/publisher of Open Source Reporter, is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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Random thoughts, cheap shots, bon mots

July 22, 2007 Leave a comment

[With apologies to the San Francisco Chronicle's Scott Ostler, who often starts his sports columns this way]

Someone who gets it: As those of you readers outside my immediate family who read my last posting, I roasted Information Week’s Alexander Wolfe for bemoaning the tragic (in his eyes) plethora of distro choices in the GNU/Linux universe. Along comes Linux Today Managing Editor Brian Proffitt with a column that spells out Wolfe’s folly in detail. So now I’m in the enviable position of toasting Brian for the column — salud! — and thanks.

Europe gets it, too: Business Week reports that a high court adviser in the EU has decided that ISPs are not required to reveal information to authorities when users are suspected of music piracy. Hopefully, this will spell doom — in large, italicized capital letters — for the efforts by IFPI, the global RIAA, to litigate against European P2P users. Now if we can only get justices that enlightened on this side of the Atlantic . . . . Get the details here.

Nice doggie: Despite the brouhaha a couple of weeks ago in Distrowatch over Puppy, it bears mentioning that Puppy Linux has released version 2.17, and this latest one comes with CUPS, according to Puppy top dog Barry Kauler. This version will run on older machines — that’s a good thing for those of us who are not on the cutting edge of the latest technology (choosing to spend our money on things like rent, feeding the family other of life’s so-called priorities) — and it immediately goes on my list of distros to try. “More on the story,” as we say at Open Source and Free Software Reporter, from Linux.com here.

[I have just the machine for it: An old Dell Optiplex GXa desktop that the Santa Cruz Sentinel, my employer, gave to me rather than dumping it. Currently it's running Mepis AntiX, after a short stint with Linux Mint 3.0 Xfce -- both GREAT -- but I think I'll throw this Puppy a stick. More on this in a later blog posting.]

Rearranging the deck chairs: My absence from this blog for a few days (tops) comes courtesy of rearranging my living room to accommodate much of the hardware that I’ve accumulated/garnered/been entrusted with, etc. I have the solution of putting three machines each in two corners of the living room and must now do the remodeling. All of which is to say that visitors will no longer have two iMacs and a monitor staring them in the face when they sit down on the couch.

Last, and certainly not least . . . the Italian Open Source Web site One Open Source runs a very interesting Q-and-A interview with Linus Torvalds in which Linus — who’s supposed to be rabidly anti-GPLv3 (to hear some tell it) — just says that GPLv2 is better when asked about the new license. It’s a good read, and I would suggest leaving here and going to the interview here.

[FSF Associate Member]

(Larry Cafiero, editor/publisher of Open Source Reporter, is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right . . . (stuck in the middle with GNU)

July 21, 2007 Leave a comment

The groundswell of FUD lately arguably can be a cause for concern in GNU/Linux circles. Interestingly, one of the tell-tale signs whether that Web-based story you’re reading has all the hallmarks of propaganda, at the least, and more than likely is outright FUD, at the worst, is whether the site is sponsored by your friendly neighborhood Redmond death star.

So while clowns like Kevin Carmony keeps blogging about how he’s “improving” Linux with the help of Microsoft (waiting for the laughter to die down), more FUD makes its way to the ethereal Internet thanks to a new joker by the name of Alexander Wolfe.

Wolfe, whose “Wolfe’s Den” appears as the “Chips, Vista and Advanced Technology” blog on the Information Week Web site (did you notice the word Vista in there?), wrote in the latest installment on his blog that — horrors! — there are too many Linux distros to choose from.

He makes the self-serving pithy observation that, since there are so many distros, that “Linux is a forking mess.” As if we should only have one or two choices in computing, rather than the 300 choices of GNU/Linux distros (and those are the active ones) offer.

That’s because freedom — whether in computing or in the rest of everyday life — is about choice, and it’s unfortunate that Wolfe doesn’t get it. But then, most corporate lackeys beholden to the party line of their corporate masters don’t; or if they do, they wallow in hypocrisy while ignoring the truth.

Wolfe also operates under the false assumption that all GNU/Linux distros are all competing against one another for the attention of the average user. Wrong again, Alex: Needless to say the distros that are business oriented — your Red Hats and Novells — are going head to head to slice up the corporate IT pie. But distros like Puppy and Slackintosh competing for IT departments’ attention? Sorry, chump, even the greenest of GNU/Linux newbies realizes that this isn’t true. Pity you don’t — or refuse to — get it, Alex.

Also, the argument of distro-as-religion (Wolfe quotes an outdated story on Distrowatch.com) gets beaten to a pulp. That may have been the case at one time, but Alex seems to have missed the trend toward “distro polygamy” that permeates the current GNU/Linux zeitgeist. To wit: This blog is being written on a iMac running Xubuntu 7.04; next to it is a PowerMac G3 running Yellow Dog 3.0; across the room are two Dell Optiplex GXa machines — one running Linux Mint 3.0 Xfce and the other awaiting its install of Mepis AntiX (thank you, anticapitalista). So some may be beholden to one distro; many of us aren’t.

When you read something about how too many distros is a bad thing, especially when it’s written by a Vista columnist, you can be sure that propaganda is at the forefront. Please read it accordingly.

[FSF Associate Member](Larry Cafiero, editor/publisher of Open Source Reporter, is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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