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Archive for August, 2010

The Emperor’s New Clothes, summer edition

August 26, 2010 1 comment

Originally, I was going to write about something else — Microsoft’s “love” of open source, where invariably Mr. Godwin’s theorem would have definitely come into play, and probably very early on — but I decided to shelve that blog post in favor of this one.

Yesterday, Bruce Byfield’s essay — er, blog — is entitled “Ubuntu 10.10 Alpha: Slouching Toward Ubuntu GNOME.” During the course of a pretty good look at the upcoming Maverick Meerkat, Bruce points out that the desktop is beginning to stray further from the original GNOME to something that Ubuntu is developing on its own. Which is fine, and kudos for the efforts, even though (in my opinion) it would be better if they went upstream in GNOME with whatever they produce, which doesn’t seem to be happening.

So, stop me if you’ve heard this before. Bruce writes:

“These changes in Ubuntu GNOME inspire mixed feelings in many. Some think that Ubuntu should be praised for making innovations in the desktop, and probably some, such as Multitouch, will eventually find their way into mainstream GNOME and other desktops.

“Still others note that Ubuntu is introducing these changes unilaterally, rather through the GNOME project, and — even though the changes are available under free licenses – the company is not being a good community citizen by acting in this way.”

So while firmly in the camp of “still others,” I’ll just wait patiently while the Ubunteros from the top down line up to either a.) make valid arguments against what Bruce wrote, or b.) start in on ad hominem attacks that have little, or anything, to do with the issue at hand. Or weigh in with something in between.

Also, I should start cleaning up the office for an upcoming visit by the celebrated Colonel Panik, who will be gracing Northern California in an upcoming trip in the near future.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines.

[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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Showtime

August 20, 2010 2 comments

No, I’m not referring to the cable channel of the same name: Two shows (plus a third on the far horizon) deserve special mention. One of them I can’t make because, well, it’s too far to drive/Amtrak/bus/walk and you know Larry the Free Software Guy doesn’t fly unless thrown by someone larger than him (fat chance). The other, I wouldn’t miss for the world.

The show I’ll miss, but naturally I urge you to go if you can make it: Ohio Linux Fest from Sept. 10-12 in Columbus, Ohio. Stormy Peters of GNOME kicks it off with the keynote, followed by five tracks of talks from open source and Linux experts like Tarus Balog, Amber Graner, Catherine Devlin, Dru Lavigne, Paul Frields, and Jon ‘maddog’ Hall. This year’s OLF also features a special medical track for those interested in the use of free and open source software in medicine — readers of this blog (thanks, Mom) will note that I rant often about the need to develop medical software that is free/open source and it’s good that OLF has taken the ball and run with it.

Then if you want to meet me at the next expo I attend you’ll have to go to the Utah Open Source Conference from Oct. 7-9 at Salt Lake Community College in — where else? — Salt Lake City, Utah. This growing show, which I like to call “the fall classic” because it’s fast becoming a standard in the West between the Southern California Linux Expo right before spring and OSCON in the summer, will have Jared Smith of the Fedora Project giving the keynote. Oh, and yours truly gives a presentation on User Groups 2.0 dealing with the ups and downs of forming a LUG in this age of a new generation of Linux users.

Speaking of SCALE, they’ve moved to bigger digs — namely down the street to the Los Angeles Airport Hilton — and the call for papers should be made fairly soon. For those who want to mark their calendars way in advance, it’s Feb. 25-27, 2011.

See you at the show.

[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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Adjective plus animal equals . . .

August 18, 2010 2 comments

The naming conventions for distros can be entertaining. Whether it’s Debian’s “Toy Story” connection or Fedora’s less than simple formula — $CURRENT_NAME is a ___________ and so is $NEXT_RELEASE_NAME — code names for the current or future versions of distros can be entertaining at the selection stage.

Ubuntu’s naming convention is fairly simple: Take an animal and throw before it an adjective beginning with the same letter.

So after Maverick Meerkat, which is the name set in stone for Ubuntu 10.10, we have the name already foisted on the FOSS public for Ubuntu 11.04.

OK, it’s an N, right? So how does Natty Narwhal float your boat?

There’s a trend here according to the thesaurus, pointed out by Akkana Peck: Synonyms for “natty” include dapper and jaunty. Where have we heard those before?

The letter O, methinks, would be more challenging. Good thing they have awhile to think about it.

[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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Categories: Akkana Peck, Ubuntu Tags:

Happy birthday, Debian

August 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Recently — I think it was Sunday — Debian turned 17. While not yet quite old enough to drink or be drafted, it has still matured well and has been a standard bearer for GNU/Linux for a better part of its lifespan; arguably it has been the standard bearer for its entire life. Further, Debian can be blamed for allowing just about anything to run on Linux — Mac 68K series, PowerPC, Sparc, toaster ovens, electric toothbrushes, even Atari and Commodore 64, so I’m told.

My first exposure to Debian was on a PowerPC-based Indigo iMac, which I still have and which is still running upgraded versions of Debian. In a FOSS world where six-month release cycles are the unfortunate norm, Debian stands out by providing updates to the system when it’s good and ready.

My hat — a Fedora of course — is off to Debian. Thank you, guys and gals, for all you’ve done and for all you do.

Go here to wish Debian a happy birthday and share your experiences with them. If you like, tell them Larry the Free Software Guy, who cut his teeth on Debian, sent you.

Now get out your natty clothing because tomorrow we’re going to a couple of shows.

[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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Categories: Debian Tags:

Sunday in the afternoon

August 15, 2010 2 comments

. . . what have you got to lose?

If you’re looking for a good Sunday read, Pamela Jones of Groklaw — who could be an outstanding journalist masquerading as a paralegal, or a paralegal who is one of the best journalists ever — outlines the Oracle-Google dustup in her Friday post here.

There’s a lot here and there’s more to it that what most folks, me included, have speculated. Have a read and we’ll pick this up tomorrow.

[FSF Associate Member] (Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.) Add to Technorati Favorites EFF Binary Freedom Dead button Wordpress button Xfce button dbEntrance button AntiX 7.0 fedora badge XubuntuEliminate DRM!

Another Saturday Night

August 14, 2010 1 comment

Amid the recent — and completely minor — hubbub around politics injected into Linux User Group discussions on the Berkeley LUG mailing list, it’s interesting to see how FOSS and GNU/Linux can bring people of different political stripes together.

Exhibit A: Ken Starks and me.

Ken and I put together Lindependence 2008, an effort that brought Linux and FOSS to Felton, California, through a series of miniature GNU/Linux and FOSS expos at the Felton Presbyterian Church hall in July of 2008. Various distros — Fedora, Mandriva, Ubuntu and Debian, to name four — had tables set up at Lindependence, as well as FOSS programs like OpenOffice.org. Representatives from each of the distros and programs had representatives on hand, and the idea was to convert the town to Linux and FOSS.

Ken, a Texan, is an Operation Desert Storm vet and as Rebublican as you can get; a dyed-in-the-wool conservative. Those who know me know that I’m an unapologetic lefty no longer affiliated with any political party, and many of you are already tired of hearing me tell of my Green Party candidacy for statewide office in California (for those who aren’t keeping score at home: In 2006, I was the Green candidate for Insurance Commissioner and got the most votes of any Green statewide that year — 270,218 votes, 3.2 percent).

But recently, I was looking at some clips from video that a San Francisco filmmaker, the Digital Tipping Point’s Christian Einfeldt, shot on Lindependence 2008 featuring Ken and me, and thinking about how despite our differences, those of different political views can work together for FOSS and GNU/Linux, even though each is approaching it from different directions — ranging from either from a purely libertarian (small “l” to describe the philosophy, not the capital “L” political party) perspective to from the anti-corporate, anarchist (in the true sense of the word) paradigm.

[Ken and I, of course, fall somewhere in between, far from either end, of both extremes.]

In watching some of the clips that Christian had shot at Lindepdence 2008, I found one where I said something to the effect that I would never talk to Ken if it weren’t for our shared passion for FOSS and Linux, as he would say (GNU/Linux as I would say), because of our political differences.

I’d like to publicly take that back.

Thanks to this experience, I have since been convinced that you can work across political divisions to achieve a common goal, i.e., Linux and FOSS adoption, and as a result I welcome the opportunity to work with those with whom I may not share a political philosophy.

Despite our political differences, Ken and I worked well in getting Lindependence 2008 going. Further, I’m proud to serve on the board of a project that Ken chairs, the HeliOS Project, which provides Linux-based computers to underprivileged kids in the Austin, Texas, area.

In conclusion, there’s a lesson to be learned here, for the observant.

[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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Categories: GNU, GNU/Linux, open source Tags: , , ,

It’s Friday, I’m in love

August 13, 2010 4 comments

Ah, love! The Cure’s song that carries today’s blog title bounces gently off the walls of the office while I think about the things I love about GNU/Linux (or Linux, if you’re so inclined).

Like . . .

  • A multiplicity of distros: Oh, 350-odd (and some not so odd) active Linux distributions in their wide range of uses, even though about 50 of them are relevant and regularly used by the GNU/Linux-using public. Some think that’s too many, but I would disagree: Distros are like ice cream, and you pick the flavor that suits your taste (not to mention your needs) and use it. I’d prefer to have hundreds to choose from rather than have a Baskin-Robbins limitation to 33 flavors. [Those who know me know I'm a Fedora guy, but the boxes at Redwood Digital also run Debian (especially on the Macs), Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, and a PII box with AntiX Mepis.] To appreciate the amount of choice we have, a visit to DistroWatch might be in order.
  • A variety of desktops: Who’s limited to what environment appears on our screens? We’re not. Thanks to the big daddies — GNOME and KDE (the former which I use most often and the latter which I’m growing to like more over time) — and to those desktop environments which leave the processor’s horsepower to more important digital matters — take a bow Xfce and LXDE — we have a wide range of options. Of course, if four isn’t enough, throw in IceWM and Flux and . . . .
  • The busy Beavers at Oregon State: The crew at Oregon State University deserve special mention. Chances are when you download a FOSS program or a distro, it comes to you directly from beautiful downtown Corvallis, Ore., home of the Oregon State University Open Source Lab (well, OK, perhaps OSU isn’t downtown per se, but you get the point). Kudos to OSL operations boss Jeff Sheltren and infrastructure architect Lance Albertson, as well as the rest of the OSL’s staff, for keeping the FOSS programs available. In addition, the OSL’s efforts hardly pale in comparison with the dedication and commitment to FOSS in OSU’s Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department, which is responsible for the Oregon State Wireless Activity Learning Device (or OSWALD). A tip of the hat — a Fedora, of course — to EECS faculty professors Tim Budd and Carlos Jensen for the OSWALD, and great work, all.
  • Showtime: The various Linux/FOSS shows and expos throughout the year are great to attend — the ones I can make, like the Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) and OSCON are the ones around which I plan family vacations. Throw in other shows into the mix like the Utah Open Source Conference in October and the other standards like Southeast Linux Fest, the OLFs (Ohio and Ontario Linux Fests), Calgary Open Source Systems Festival (COSSFEST), while tossing in new shows like Texas Linux Fest, and the calendar is full of opportunities to promote FOSS and learn a thing or two if you aren’t careful.
  • My peeps: You all know who you are, and don’t think for a minute I’m going to try to name all of you because I’ll forget someone and then they’ll feel bad and I’ll hate myself for forgetting for years to follow. Thank you to those who make everything work across distro, desktop and program borders — you are truly the heroes of FOSS and have my undying respect, gratitude and love.

    [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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