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Archive for May, 2010

Liftoff

May 26, 2010 1 comment

I’m sure they don’t do things like this at NASA: At the moment, I’m downloading Fedora 13 while listening to Neil Young (“Unknown Legend,” for those of you keeping score at home) while wondering if that cloud bank is going to clear the hills to the north — my money says “no.”

Fedora 13, code named Goddard, cleared the tower and streaked into the FOSS heavens yesterday, on the day I returned from Fedora Ambassador Day in Iowa. So now we go from trains to spacecraft . . .

For the last few weeks, I’ve been running Fedora 13 Beta on the trusty long-in-the-tooth Fujitsu laptop, which I don’t want to part with since the screen is probably the best I’ve ever seen on any machine. It has run flawlessly so far — so much so that I’m thinking about leaving the beta on here and just going forward.

But, no: I’ll install and give a report, since that’s what you’d expect. See you in a bit.

[FSF Associate Member](Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
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Not just a passing FAD

May 23, 2010 1 comment

A question I’ve been asked more than once over the past few days is, “How long, exactly, were you on the train?” Taking a train from Oakland, California, to Osceola, Iowa, consists of a total travel time of 46 hours, most of it without connectivity (Note to Amtrak: More people would travel by train if they could connect. Just sayin’ . . . ).

I bring up this now-unconventional mode of travel — especially a mode of travel that flies in the face of jet-setting — because you would think that if I sat in a train for 46 hours (not as bad as it sounds, really), the event to which I was going would have to be pretty special.

The event in question — the Fedora Ambassador Day North America 2010 — was that special and more.

Those of us who work on our chosen distro sometimes get into a routine where we are content with working with people around the world through electronic means — IRC, e-mail, etc. Work gets done, things move forward despite never coming face to face with those you work with.

It isn’t until you have face to face contact with the people with names you know from channels that the process becomes more human, and more real. The difference in working alone from a remote location and working together with people you know, even though you’ve only met them for the first time a few hours ago, is literally night and day — and being in the same physical room, as opposed to the same IRC channel, makes a remarkably positive difference in the process.

For FADNA 2010, items on the agenda were discussed, debated, argued, duelled-at-ten paces — OK, I made up the last one — and while we had a good time, we also put our heads down and moved forward dealing with getting some things fixed as well as dealing with some significantly tough decisions.

There were several decisions made which will be discussed in a future blog and discussed in other blogs around this subject. More importantly, however, working sessions like FADs that Fedora holds is a trend that should be expanded, not only in Fedora, but among other distros and FOSS programs as well.

A huge “thank you” goes out to John Rose, who coordinated the event and hosted a great party on Saturday. Dennis Gilmore, barbeque chef par excellence, prepared a huge barbeque feast on Saturday eve, for which we are grateful. Thanks go to Max Spevack for his guidance and coordination with Red Hat, and for wearing a new type of “red hat” courtesy of the Iowa State’s bookstore (hopefully he will blog about it) and thanks to my highly esteemed colleagues — Clint Savage, David Nalley, Robyn Bergeron, Ivan Makfinsky, Ian Weller and Justin O’Brien — for being so willing to chop wood and carry water, in the Zen sense, in moving Fedora forward.

[FSF Associate Member](Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
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Making the grade

May 13, 2010 1 comment

The Guide to Computer Training listed its Top 50 Open Source blogs on Tuesday, and included in the 50 — at number 20, no less (though I realized later that the list is in alphabetical order, so I didn’t really finish way ahead of Slashdot) — is yours truly and this blog.

After I picked myself up off the floor, I have to say I am beyond honored. It’s good to be in the company of these folks who regularly write about FOSS, GNU/Linux and Linux, especially Bruce Byfield, whose essays masquerading as blog posts appear thanks to Linux Magazine.

However, there are several blogs which stand head and shoulders above this one that deserve to be on that list which, for whatever reason, didn’t make make the cut.

So if you’re here from the Guide to Computer Training site, welcome, first of all; second, you need to add these five blogs — five which come immediately to mind, though there are many more — to the list that the previous site provides (as well as other blogs which readers are urged to add to the list in comments below):

Click, by Steven Rosenberg: This blog, which appears on the Los Angeles Daily News’ site, is always chock full of information as Steven traverses the Free/Open Source landscape using both GNU/Linux and BSD. Most, if not all, of his Debian/Ubuntu adventures are very informative and I’ve learned something from all of his blogs, even when I’ve disagreed with him (which, to my knowledge, has only been once).

Shallow Thoughts by Akkana Peck: Don’t be misled by the title — this is far and away the most educational blog over a wide variety of FOSS programs and issues that I have ever read. And it’s not the blog so much as Akkana writes about — and links to — her tutorials in the blog. All her tutorials are absolute gems, and our Christmas cards last year were produced, in large part, thanks to her GIMP tutorial. Since I live just “over the hill” from the Silicon Valley, I get the bonus of hearing her speak when she addresses local LUGs. But if you can find talks she has done, like her presentation on “Make Your Old Laptop a Ferrari” she gave at the Southern California Linux Expo earlier this year, it’s time well spent.

Blog of Helios by Ken Starks: To say that working with Ken is an honor would be a gross understatement. I met Ken when I gave him $10 toward putting Tux on the nose of an Indy car during the 2007 Indianapolis 500. Ken came to California during Lindependence in 2008, where we invited the entire town of Felton, California, to a church hall to see Linux and take home a Live CD or two. Now, Ken is giving underprivileged kids in the Austin, Texas, area a leg-up in providing Linux boxes to them through the HeliOS Project. Ken’s blog points out the highs and lows of bringing FOSS to the world, and his down-home humor that’s reminiscent of fellow Texan Jim Hightower — oooh, he’s going to hate me for saying that — is always a plus.

Dissociated Press by Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier: Zonker’s claim to fame, other than a nickname he picked up in college, is that he was the OpenSUSE Community Manager for the last couple of years. But what’s probably more interesting — and thankfully more important to those of us promoting FOSS — is that Joe’s talent and skill as a journalist precede, and thankfully now follows, his gig at OpenSUSE. He could be writing for any publication on any topic, but thankfully he’s writing about FOSS.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols‘ Computerworld Blog: More times than not, Steven is first out of the gate with FOSS news and developments, which alone would make his blog a must read. What’s more — and I mean this as a compliment — Steven’s not afraid to “go off the reservation” and write about non-FOSS issues as well. Everything on the blog is written with an artesian depth of understanding that points to his wide experience, and I get the sense that he embraces, Mencken-like, being FOSS’s resident curmudgeon. But I could be wrong . . . .

There are others that deserve to make the cut as well, and I’d urge you to add them to the comment list below.

And thanks, Guide to Computer Training — I will try to live up to your standards in being one of the Top 50.

[FSF Associate Member](Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
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But wait, there’s more

May 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Whenever I start a blog item, I’m always faced with the words “enter title here.” It’s hard to determine whether I’m supposed to enter my title — which I have settled on “Big Kahuna, God of All He Surveys” — or whether it’s the title of the blog item. Yeah, I know it’s the latter, but in most cases, I don’t know what the title is until I’m done . . . sometimes.

Regardless, below are some observations of recent developments, like

Blame the Blocker Bugs: Fedora 13, code named Goddard, sits on the launch pad for another week as the release date is pushed back in order for the distro to fix a few more bugs. That puts the countdown back to a May 25th liftoff, according to internet.com’s Sean Michael Kerner’s article here.

That was fast: Yesterday — I think it was yesterday, although it could have just seemed like yesterday — I mournfully blogged that Mandriva was being put up for sale. Seems like a suitor has already stepped up: A report from techie-buzz.com (yeah, that got a “huh?” from me, too) here says that Lingaroa has opened its checkbook and that they have already started moving Mandriva assets.
Update: Actually, that news from techie-buzz.com got a huge “non” from Paris, as the official Mandriva blog says that Mandriva “has not been bought by anybody.”

Shooting down the Air Force: When the PlayStation 3 was released, it was able to run Linux, which made creating powerful computing clusters that utilized the console’s advanced Cell processor to benefit scientific researchers. Oh, and also benefitted the Air Force, which purchased over 2,000 PS3 for that very purpose. Now that the firmware update no longer allows OtherOS (read: Linux) support, does that mean the Air Force is grounded? Not necessarily, at least as long as the 2,000 PS3s are working — and I guess the USAF is going to have to hit Craigslist.org to get replacements. Brian Leahy of shacknews.com outlines the story here.

But wait, there’s more . . . but not immediately. More to follow soon.

[FSF Associate Member](Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
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Adieu, Mandriva?

May 10, 2010 Leave a comment

With not much else to do — I mean, how many times can you go to Best Buy and change all the laptops’ browser settings to open either to Fedora, Ubuntu or FSF? — I thought I’d take a lap around the FOSS news realm. Imagine my surprise when I happened upon this:

Mandriva is for sale.

Mon dieu! The times you don’t have a disposable million dollars or two lying around . . .

My experience with Mandriva is limited — I tried it on several occasions but for some reason it never stuck. Not for lack of quality, of course, but just as a matter of personal non-preference. And I’ve been quick to use Mandriva as a foil in New Years predictions — not out of disrespect but more from the ease of poking fun at the “man” in the name.

[I found it interesting, too, when I came across why Mandriva changed its name from Mandrake: Apparently it had to do with a conflict with the publisher of the Mandrake the Magician comic strip.]

Regardless, Mandriva always had a solid community which was very supportive of the Lindependence Project when we did Lindependence 2008 and Lindependence 2009 in Felton. Having worked with people like Adam Williamson — once with Mandriva and now with Red Hat — and Rolf Pedersen, a tireless foot soldier promoting FOSS with Mandriva, I’ve gained a healthy respect for the distro despite the fact I don’t regularly use it.

One can only hope that the purchaser will continue to allow Mandriva to provide the same quality of distro going forward.

[FSF Associate Member](Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
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Zonker nails it

May 6, 2010 Leave a comment

One of the great things about someone else writing something you wish you had written — other than the fact that you don’t have to write it yourself — is that now, thanks to the Internet, you can just link to an on-line written work and say, “Yeah, what he said.”

On the issue of getting started with a distro as a contributor — and I hope you are all contributors at some level (and if you’re not, here’s your chance to make up lost ground) — Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier nails it in his latest blog item on the topic.

Go there now — it’s worth the read. Thanks, Zonk!

[FSF Associate Member](Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
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Gavin Newsom for lieutenant governor

May 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Apologies in advance for this item being specific to the Golden State:

For those of you who may have missed this several years ago, I ran for statewide office in California. I was the Green Party’s candidate for Insurance Commissioner in 2006 (270,218 votes, 3.2 percent — “What do we have for our departing contestant, Johnny Olsen?”). During that campaign, I picked up the Free/Open Source Software I used for the campaign, as well as the FOSS paradigm which leads me today to be the FOSS advocate that now addresses you as Larry the Free Software Guy.

So in a nutshell, I gave up partisan politics after that campaign to become the FOSS advocate whose blog you now read. While I have often mentioned to folks — both personally and in correspondence — that I am through with partisan politics in order to promote FOSS, I’m going to change my tune a little this election cycle.

This year in California, we have a monumentally great opportunity to put a good friend of FOSS in the lieutenant govenor’s office in November (and for Democrats, actually getting him on the ballot during the primary in June).

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who fostered an open source software policy in San Francisco earlier this year, looks like he’s heading to become the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor this year.

As you all know, my voter registration does not affiliate itself with either major political party, and my contempt for many Democrats (see Blue Dogs) is legendary. But Newsom comes to the ballot for lieutenant governor with some serious credentials: As mayor of the world’s greatest city (and it is), he has shown adimrable leadership around environmental and human rights issues, to name two, coupled with guiding The City through some perilous financial straits.

Plus, he’s a friend of FOSS, who can bring the open source to the halls of Sacramento. What more could FOSS advocates want?

In addition, the likely Republican candidate — appointed (not incumbent, arguably) Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado — could be second only to Sarah Palin in being the least qualifed person to hold any elected office, let alone one where he’s a heartbeat away from being in charge of California. You’ll not want to get me started on my former state senator. Trust me.

In any case, if you’re a Democrat, you can vote for Newsom in the primary June 8. Come November, the choice in this race is pretty clear and with Newsom as the candidate for lieutenant governor, I’ll be voting Democrat for state office for the first time in a long time.

[FSF Associate Member](Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
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