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Archive for January, 2011

The ’69 Dart of Software

January 13, 2011 1 comment

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I got to my office and it was too cold to work. So I left the frozen tundra of Redwood Digital Research for the cozy confines of The White Raven.

From the comfort of a large coffee and a view of traffic passing New Leaf Market — a solar-powered organic grocery story which has its servers running Red Hat, no thanks to me, but still — I thought about a couple of stories I’d read this past week.

The first was a blog post by an Emery Fletcher which paints Ubuntu as the be-all and end-all of Linux implementation. While I am eternally grateful for Ubuntu’s efforts in promoting Linux in the general public (even if it is to the point of putting itself first and FOSS second, but I digress) and while the blog presents an interesting point about Linux implementation, it’s hard to determine whether this blog item suffers from anything more than mere myopia.

Current versions of Debian, OpenSUSE and Fedora are all as user-friendly as the current version of Ubuntu, but that does not enter into the equation in this blog. That’s unfortunate, too, because what both Fedora and OpenSUSE — with its new Studio spin — have done consistently with each upgrade have been remarkable. Mr. Fletcher may be lacking some perspective — think about where Ubuntu would be without the contributions to kernel development (warning: that link is a PDF file, courtesy of the Linux Foundation) and desktop development without the three distros mentioned at the beginning of the previous sentence — a harrowingly depressing thought, indeed.

The second article — the one from which this blog title derives its name — comes from a comment I made on a discussion in LXer.com regarding this blog item comparing Photoshop and GIMP.

First things first: There are some unqualified truths in life. The sun will always rise in the east and set in the west. The moon controls the tides. The San Francisco Giants will win the World Series only once every half-century.

Above all of the aforementioned is this one: GIMP is not Photoshop.

I’ve used GIMP in a professional setting — namely the newspaper for which I work. Once a long time ago, the paper did not have enough Photoshop licenses to go around for all the editors, so I downloaded GIMP (not requiring a license) and used it to process photos that ended up on the newspaper’s printed page. However — and you knew that was coming — I am fairly well-versed in GIMP and had little problem adapting to its interface; had another editor who is more Photoshop oriented had to do the same thing, s/he may have had a problem or two.

GIMP is an adequate photo manipulation program, but without the army of developers behind it — as Adobe has — it will pale in comparison with Photoshop. Always. So it’s foolish to think that professionals wouldn’t use Photoshop. In other words, if you’re a professional driver qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, you’re not going to strap yourself into a ’69 Dodge Dart to get the job accomplished — you’re going to use the appropriate tool(s) for the job. Conversely, most people don’t need a turbocharged single-seat racing car to go to work and back, and to run daily errands.

Will there be a time when GIMP can rival Photoshop? Not without a huge influx of developers to match what Adobe does. Believe me, every night before I drift off to sleep, I pray to the Almighty that developers will magically appear on GIMP’s doorstep (and the rhetorical doorstep of other FOSS programs) and that Job One will be making a single window interface for GIMP. Please, Lord . . .

Also, calling GIMP a ’69 Dart is not an insult. I had one, and it was the best car I’ve ever owned, VWs included (and those who know me know my loyalties for automotive products from Wolfsburg run deep). The Dart was the most boring and utilitarian car I’ve ever owned, too, but it was still the most dependable and reliable.

Well, now that I’m a bit warmed up, I’ll head back to Redwood Digital.

[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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F-ing around on the Web

January 8, 2011 4 comments

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Ahem.

Now that I have your attention . . . .

Several months ago, there was a discussion in Fedora circles about the similarity between the Fedora Project logo — a very smart one that signifies a lot of different things (as outlined below) — and the Facebook “F” that is encapsulated in a rounded-off square.

This discussion started when someone related a story where a person approached the storyteller and mistook a Fedora button on a backpack for a Facebook button. I thought it was fairly innocuous at the time — yeah, they’re both F’s, but still, you have to be kind of — oh, I don’t know — lacking some basic observational skills to confuse the two.

Of course, when it happens to you, then the issue becomes a tad more clear.

Earlier in the week, I had coffee in beautiful downtown Felton at The White Raven — home of Larry’s Famous Chai (the Larry in question is not me; though as an aside, Felton could be a town that holds the distinction of having the most people named Larry, per capita, in the nation. But I digress . . . ). A woman sitting at the next table looked over at me — well, more specifically, looked over at my ThinkPad T30, which sports a Fedora F sticker next to the touchpad — and asked, “Excuse me, where did you get that Facebook sticker?

Frankly, I live for segues like this, as it gives me a chance to talk about Free/Open Source Software and Linux, upon which Facebook is based, no doubt. I explained that it was not a “Facebook” sticker, but that of the Fedora Project, and launched into a coffee conversation about Fedora, Linux and an invitation to join the Felton Linux Users Group, which conveniently was meeting that Saturday.

Herein lies the confusion.

Real Fedora Logo from the Fedora wiki This is the Fedora logo. The Fedora logo provides by design three distinct and important elements that are basic tenets to the FOSS paradigm: Voice, which is the blue background “bubble” reminiscent of voice bubbles in comic strips and the like; the “F” for freedom (or Fedora); and last, but certainly not least, the “F” for Freedom/Fedora is part of the symbol for infinity, albeit upright as opposed to horizontal. When you look at this, it conveys a lot of different — all positive — messages. I would suspect that the Fedora Project’s Design Team gets tired of me singing the seven-minute album version of their praises, but of all distros in this solar system, if not the entire galaxy, the Fedora Project’s artists are the best, period. Also, there’s a wiki page on the history of the Fedora logo which outlines its origins — it’s definitely worth a read.

[Editor's note: Paul Frields, former Fedora Project Leader, points out in the comments below an earlier version of the logo that appeared here was not the right one. This one above comes directly from the Fedora Project's logo wiki rather than from my ancient library. Thanks, Paul.]

On the other hand . . .

200pixel facebook iconOn the other hand, this is the Facebook F, which as you can see is a stylized F on a blue square with rounded corners, tastefully and tactfully shadowed and reflected to provide an almost 3-D look. It’s clean and attractive — very attractive in fact — and I’m sure that the folks at Facebook may have paid a handsome sum for the design of this logo. But when you put the two together to compare and contrast, you can tell that there is a huge difference between them, with the letter “F” and the color blue being where the similarities end.

Though its roots go further back, the Fedora Project was initiated in the fall of 2003. Mark Zuckerberg was still in his dorm at Harvard kicking off Facebook on campus a year after that. I bring this up because I have been unable to ascertain which logo came first, but I am fairly certain the Fedora logo came first. If anyone can shed some light on this, I’d be grateful.

Now, is the fact that the two logos are sometimes confused at a fleeting glance a problem for folks at Fedora? Some in the aforementioned discussion at the outset of this blog thought so, to the point where they opined that perhaps Fedora should change its logo. On the contrary: It’s a great opportunity opening a door for people who are asked about the “Facebook” sticker/button to talk about Linux, FOSS and Fedora.

[Making the lawyers happy: The Fedora Project and Facebook symbols represented above are registered trademarks belonging to their respective owners.]

[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: Facebook, Fedora Tags: , , ,

May the force be with you

January 6, 2011 2 comments

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There are a lot of people around the planet who talk the Free/Open Source Software talk and walk the Free/Open Source Software walk. Fortunately for us here in the Silicon Valley — and those of us “over the hill” from the valley in the Santa Cruz Mountains — many of them live within driving distance of yours truly.

Mark Terranova is one of those FOSS activists in the San Francisco Bay Area who puts me to shame. Between Gidget Kitchen and the variety of distros he advocates, Mark is one of the people you want on your team if you want to get things done.

Mark wrote a blog item here equating some of the characters in “Star Wars” to some of the, ahem, “characters” in the FOSS galaxy.

Mark honored me with being the Yoda in this constellation. About halfway down the blog item, I’m teamed up with Quaid Gon-Jin, also known as Red Hat’s Community Gardener Karsten Wade. Mark’s mashup can be found here.

As long as I don’t have to talk in disjointed sentences — disjointed sentences I will not talk in, hmmm? — I’d gladly say that I am both grateful and humbled by Mark’s designation, and I hope I can live up to it. Thanks, MarkDude.

[Although one thing, Mark: I find it hard to believe that the mashup of Jono Bacon, as Han Jono, looks any different than Jono in his usual daily garb. But never mind.]

[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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