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Dennis Ritchie Day

October 29, 2011 1 comment

Tim O’Reilly admits freely in a recent blog item that he doesn’t have the authority that California Gov. Jerry Brown has (and that’s OK, Tim — few of us do). A while back, Brown declared Oct. 16 Steve Jobs Day, and while O’Reilly writes that he admires Brown for taking a step to recognize Jobs’ extraordinary contributions, he “couldn’t help be struck by Rob Pike’s comments on the death of Dennis Ritchie a few weeks after Steve Jobs.”

Most of us were struck by them, too.

Clearly Dennis Ritchie’s contributions in the digital realm far surpass Steve Jobs’ vision or marketing acumen. While Jobs made a career of molding people’s use of technology and, in the process, garnered him the tech spotlight (for better or worse), Ritchie worked in relative obscurity to bring us the foundation of what we all do today, both in programming and how we use computer hardware, online or off.

So allow me a Captain Obvious moment: We owe a significantly larger debt of gratitude to Dennis Ritchie than we do to Steve Jobs. So with Tim O’Reilly and everyone else who’s interested, I’ll be celebrating Dennis Ritchie Day tomorrow, Oct. 30, and I would urge you to remember the man who brought you Unix and C.

My SCALE 10X colleague Lori Waltfield points out an interesting page with quotes from Dennis Ritchie (and more quotes here) that may come in handy for tomorrow’s observation of Dennis Ritchie Day. Thanks, Lori.

Spread the word — #DennisRitchieDay.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)

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Why we didn’t elect Meg governor

October 28, 2011 2 comments

You don’t realize how hard it is to type when you open your palm and insert your face.

Meg Whitman, who took the reins of Hewlett-Packard after being trounced in the 2010 California gubernatorial election that cost her and her campaign roughly $43 per vote, decided to bring back the HP consumer hardware, which was a good thing. I even ate some crow, with salt, yesterday in manning up to say something nice about Meg for making this decision.

Today I can thank her for something else: Thank you, Meg, for restoring my confidence in your incompetence.

Now Californians who voted against her — yours truly raises hand here — can be smug about not electing her to Sacramento for a typical Meg move.

An article today states that rather than include the already proven WebOS on the HP Touchpad tablet — which is what it came with until former HP CEO Leo Apotheker had what can best be described as the most profound brain fart in human history in dumping HP’s consumer technology — Meg wants to run the tablet with, wait for it, Windows 8.

Don’t take my word for it. The article by Tom Krazit is here, if you dare.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)

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Spanning the globe . . .

October 27, 2011 6 comments

. . . to bring you the constant variety of FOSS. A few morsels of FOSS news have flown by the proverbial radar this week, and you may already know these things already. But just to recap

Finishing out the alphabet: Ubuntu announced it planned to offer a five-year long-term support — up from the usual three-year LTS — with its next release, 12.04 or Precise Pangolin. Bad news or good news? Good news on the whole, unless you have to use Unity — five years with Unity seems to strike me as an act that violates the Geneva Convention. But if you’re using one of the other ‘buntus, like Xubuntu, Kubuntu or Lubuntu, you’re in luck. You can keep using Pangolin and let Ubuntu ride out the alphabet, since Canonical’s SABDFL* Mark Shuttleworth will finally reach the end of the alphabet by Ubuntu 17.04 — 17.04 is the Z adjective/animal — five years after the release of Pangolin.

Hold onto those Palms: Well, if you thought Palm OS was out the window and that HP’s hardware was going the way of the Dodo and the Studebaker, think again. HP is actually going to keep its PC unit, according to ZDNet. Again good and bad news: Good news because I’m particularly fond of Palm OS and the Palm Pre 2 when I used it — and those who picked up the fire sale HP tablets have hardware that might get a new lease on life — but the bad news is that I now have to say something nice about Meg Whitman. Good call and thanks, Meg.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles . . . : The SCALE team is busy at work setting up 2012’s first event on the North American continent — SCALE 10X is being held Jan. 20-22 at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport — and their contest closes next week to design the SCALE 10X logo appearing on T-shirts, bags and other SCALE 10X swag. Details are here, and the prize is a trip to SCALE. Draw quickly.

Speaking of SCALE: Rikki Endsley wrote an exceptional piece on why kids matter in FOSS. She gives seven excellent reasons why we should be cultivating the future with a new generation of FOSS developers and advocates. Thanks, Rikki, for an exceptional dovetail into the SCALE Kids’ Conference, which will be held at SCALE 10X (dates and link above). Want to make a difference in FOSS future? Here’s your chance.

One more thing: I think I offer a pretty wide latitude when it comes to comments to this blog, if the FSF item is any indication. I do have a couple of rules that by which I ask folks to abide: a.) provide a name and an valid — valid — e-mail address (or a valid nameserver address), and b.) try not to be a douche. I know some people can’t help violating “b.” to save their lives, so I will sometimes waive that rule if they provide “a.” But if you violate both, you’re out of luck. That plain, that simple.

*SABDFL — Self-Appointed Benevolent Dictator for Life, a moniker picked up from Steven Rosenberg’s recent blog item. Thanks, Steven.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)

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United for Unity alternatives

October 25, 2011 18 comments

I love Brussels sprouts, and I’m blessed with the ability to eat fields of them in one sitting. Some people hate them to the point of legislating against them.

Some people crave eggplant. I would rather eat dirt and will only eat eggplant at gunpoint, which of course makes for some interesting dinners at my household. But I digress . . . .

Having said this, allow me a Captain Obvious moment to say that folks have different tastes, likes and dislikes, which in the final analysis boils down to a subjective smorgasbord of opinion rather than any resemblance to objective fist-bearing, knuckle-bashing fact.

I loathe Unity with a heat of a nova, but some people absolutely love it to the ends of the earth. And that’s great, but it’s not for everyone. What about those Ubuntu users who don’t like Unity because it’s a brain-numbing, unintuitive desktop environment that’s has a my-way-or-highway range of tweakability (or do I overstate it?), or what about an Ubuntu user who can’t use it because they’re using older hardware?

What’s an Ubuntero to do?

Use another distro is always an option — I’m beating Fedora‘s Juan Rodriguez to the punch here (touche, Nushio!) — but if you’re truly a dyed-in-the-wool, adjective-before-animal-loving Linux user, you have Ubuntu options that don’t include Unity, and for this many of us are truly thankful.

In my order of preference, they’re:

Xubuntu: Ubuntu with the Xfce desktop environment is probably my favorite ‘buntu; it was my first Ubuntu distro several years ago, and you never forget your first distro. Or maybe you do. But anyway, I have always had an affinity for Xfce’s smaller footprint, especially since I am usually using hardware that is not — how can I put this tactfully? — the latest model. My sincere hope is that with GNOME fumbling away much of its user base with GNOME 3, Xfce can pick up users and developers. But of all the ‘buntus, Xubuntu is probably the best of the pack in performance. Of course, if you have hardware old enough (in computer years) to occasionally scream out, “Get off my lawn,” then Xubuntu is ideal if you have to use Ubuntu.

Kubuntu: I have an interesting story that I always tell when the issue of KDE and Kubuntu come up. Years ago, the principal at my daughter’s school was inspired so much by using Kubuntu that she wanted to convert the computers at the school to the distro. She didn’t succeed — a lot of inside baseball was at play there — but if a woman just introduced to FOSS and Linux is that inspired by a distro, then it’s speaks volumes on its behalf. I have a love/indifference relationship with KDE — on the odd-numbered Fedora relases, I use the KDE version and I’m generally happy with the 4.x version of KDE, even though I probably only scratch the proverbial surface on the desktop environment’s abilities (the even-numbered Fedoras? Now, Xfce, but previously it was GNOME until I was unable to use GNOME 3 due to hardware restrictions).

But wait, there’s more:

Lubuntu: OK, Lubunteros, don’t flame me. To be honest, I’ve never tried LXDE. I’ve seen it, it looks nice, everyone I talk to who uses it loves it, but the reason I have had neither the chance nor the inclination to use it is because the Xfce desktop environment seems to be my go-to DE when it comes to hardware with, um, limitations (yeah, that’s it, limitations). If anyone would like to give me a compelling reason to try it, I will.

One more thing: A few years ago, there used to be a fledgling distro on the runway called Fluxbuntu, which had the Fluxbox window manager atop Ubuntu. I used it briefly when I had a larger computer lab and loved it, and while it looks like they’re still going, they’re probably going to need a little help there, if you’re so inclined.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)

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Sharpen your No. 2 pencils

October 24, 2011 Leave a comment

As you might expect, the Southern California Linux Expo — that’s SCALE 10X for those of you keeping score at home — starts a month early this year, and preparations are already in full swing.

So the folks that have to organize the Call for Papers, make the decisions, schedule the rooms, etc. — and that includes yours truly — remind you that the deadline for the SCALE 10X Call for Papers is rapidly approaching.

The SCALE team just sent out an announcement reminding those who plan to give a presentation or workshop at SCALE 10X that there are just a little over three weeks left to submit. The SCALE 10X Call for Papers closes on Nov. 17.

To submit a presentation for SCALE 10X, you have to first register as a speaker. Registrations from previous years are no longer valid. Speakers may submit multiple presentations.

For more information, visit this link.

Required tag line: SCALE 10X will be held from Jan. 20-22 at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport in Los Angeles. For more information on the expo, visit the SCALE 10X page.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)

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The gospel of libre software

October 21, 2011 1 comment

Author Don Parris, who wrote “Penguin in the Pew” several years ago to help churches convert to GNU/Linux, has been a free/libre software advocate for years. So if anyone is qualified to write a “gospel” and give the good word of libre software, it is Don.

So when he wrote this blog item today, it is certainly one that deserves a read by everyone, whehter or not you are a free software advocate.

Go ahead and take a look — I’ll wait.

Don aptly sets up the challenges and issues facing libre software, and offers a solution where the core message of libre software is one that builds up, liberates and inspires people.

In my opinion, the most significant of many poignant and insightful points Don makes is this: “I am saying we don’t have to resort to negativity and name calling. In fact, if we resort to name calling, we’re in trouble already. I know. It’s really tempting at times. But we must never resort to name calling. Instead, we should encourage people to live, think and be free. We should connect digital freedom more closely with freedom of speech.”

Amen to that, Don. And thanks for writing a very insightful blog item.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)

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Wednesday housecleaning

October 19, 2011 1 comment

Someone asked me why I haven’t responded to some of the criticism hurled at me like monkey feces (his words, cleaned up, not mine) in the comments of my blog item about forking the Free Software Foundation.

It comes down to letting people who aren’t me speak their minds, since I’ve done that already in the blog item. As an aside, you can tell which person had read the blog all the way to the end, because there’s an addendum to it that only about 20 percent of the readers of the first item actually read. The lesson here? Read the whole thing before you respond.

To be honest, I tossed most of the juvenile and the libelous comments — those who posted the former, grow up; those who posted the latter, you’re welcome, and bear in mind others may not be so kind.

But to put this to rest, let me address some recurring themes here, like

You have an agenda: You’re right, I have an agenda: promote digital freedom. That’s it, in three words. So when roadblocks are thrown up to divert progress on this front, I advocate positions seeking to remove them. Am I suggesting Richard Stallman has become a roadblock to progress for the FSF? You think?

You’re appeasing your (corporate) sponsors: When you find any sponsors on this page, let me know. This blog is my own personal commentary on what’s going on in the FOSS realm. Sometimes I’m right, and sometimes I’m not. Either way, it’s my reporting on FOSS developments, and my opinion on FOSS issues, that you’ll find on this page.

You’re an attention whore: I was pretty happy just having the 200 or so daily views on this blog before the fork-the-FSF item. I have nothing to gain by having five-figure view stats here, and on the list of things that validate my life, this blog ranks fairly low. If you like the blog, thanks for reading it and I’m grateful for your subscription. If you don’t like the blog, I’m sorry it doesn’t appeal to you.

When are you going to start the fork? I said in the blog I thought it would be a good idea to fork the FSF. I didn’t say I’d be the one to start it, nor does having the idea mean I’m required to start it. I have much in the way of FOSS projects to keep me busy, and I wasn’t suggesting that I would be your “fearless leader.” On the contrary: As 20th century labor leader Eugene Debs once said, “I would not lead you into the promised land if I could, because if I led you in, some one else would lead you out.” The moral of the story here is to think and act for yourself. If someone wants to act on this idea of a fork, by all means do.

What have you done for the FSF/Free Software? This is a bogus question, because even if I hadn’t lifted a finger to promote free software, I’d still have the right to express an opinion on this issue. But let’s entertain the question, with cookies and milk if need be. Here’s what I’ve done for the FSF/free software: While a student at Cabrillo College in 2007-2008, I founded the Cabrillo College GNU/Linux Users Group — not a LUG, a GNU/Linux users group; this GLUG brought RMS to speak on campus; over the last several years, I have purchased multiple copies of “Free Software, Free Society” and have given them to those folks I thought would benefit from reading it, including a donation of two copies to the Santa Cruz Public Library (which had it in stock, but they could always use more copies); I drive a car with this license plate (and, incidentally, RMS has ridden in this car from Palo Alto to Santa Cruz, and from Santa Cruz to San Francisco International Airport); I started a local business in 2009, a consultancy that promotes the use of Free/Open Source Software in the small business/home office environment; I’ve also done a lot of other things that are too trivial to mention. Obviously this matters more to some than it does to me, but for those who asked, there you go.

So, how about we all move forward now, once and for all?

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)

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Eliminate DRM!

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