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Time to fork the FSF

October 7, 2011 230 comments

If you’ve read this blog for any period of time, you would have noticed, at the end of the blog, a button for the Free Software Foundation marking me as Member No. 5030.

It is no longer there, and with good reason.

So today I resigned my membership in the Free Software Foundation, so I am no longer Member No. 5030. I did so because Richard Stallman no longer speaks for me after making a completely ludicrous, tactless and heartless remark regarding the passing of Steve Jobs.

You can read the three-paragraph post here. There has also been commentary about it by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols here and by Adrian Kingsley Hughes here.

Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier probably wrote the best commentary on the issue here.

Richard Stallman crafted an outstanding software license and wrote a outstanding treatise on free software in “Free Software, Free Society,” of which I have bought multiple copies and have given to people I thought would benefit from reading it.

Few have had the huevos to publicly call him out on things he’s done wrong or on miscues for which he is responsible, and those who have usually have faced a barrage of criticism from free software “advocates” who’ve attacked them with a zeal, ironically, reserved for Apple fanboys and fangirls. But the fact remains that Stallman’s dogmatic attitude and peculiar behavior has been an anchor weighing down a significant degree of progress the free software movement could have made to date.

One could argue, “OK, so he made a mistake with the Jobs thing. Give him some latitude.”

No. Not anymore. This is not the first time this has happened. From the GNU/Linux insistence to the “Emacs virgin” incident to a litany of other miscues that display a clear lack of leadership skills, it’s time people stopped saying, “Oh, that’s just Stallman being Stallman” and hold him accountable.

So I think it behooves thoughtful free software advocates to seriously consider forking the Free Software Foundation, and create a new organization; a more flexible, more responsible organization that marries today’s technological realities to the possibilities and necessities — especially the necessities — that the free software paradigm offers society.

Call me a heretic if you like, and if you want to debate this rationally, I’m up for that, too.

In the meantime, I will keep advocating for free software as I always have. However, I will do so now independently and not as a member of the FSF.

[NOTE: An addendum to this blog item can be found here.]

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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Calling all Pythonistas

October 7, 2011 1 comment

Two blog items ago, I mentioned that Ken Starks and I don’t talk enough anymore, which is true. So in catching up recently, he informed me that he’s got another proverbial iron in another FOSS fire.

It’s one that deserves special mention, because it has to do with autism.

Ken blogged recently about a project some folks are doing in Python around getting autistic kids to use a mouse. He notes at the end of his blog that “within 48 hours of this posting, we have a Python developer and several professionals in the autism field who are being pulled together as a DevTeam. We will publish the early team members here by mid-week. Hopefully, we will also have the beginnings of a software map for this project…yet unnamed.”

In an e-mail exchange, he asked me to beat the bushes for Python developers who might be interested in this. So that’s what I’m doing here — if you know Python and want to contribute to this yet-to-be-named (see below) project, drop Ken a line at helios-at-fixedbylinux-dot-com.

In a later blog post, Ken mentions that they’re now looking for a name for the program, meaning that the clock is running on this program, now that there’s one coder on board to go with the folks with advanced degrees working with us to begin mapping out this software.

But there’s always room for more.

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!

What Steve Jobs got wrong

October 6, 2011 2 comments

First things first: I’ve been using Apple hardware since mid-’80s — that’s right, the mid-’80s. When I worked at Spillis Candela and Partners in Coral Gables, Fla., I did document production for the architectural firm on a Lisa, a $7,000 computer at the time (as an aside, this architectural firm spent $2 million around the same time on a room-sized computer to render 3-D architectural drawings, so it’s no surprise that we had a Lisa in the documentation department).

My first exposure to Linux was Debian on an indigo iMac, which until recently I still had and used, until moving into a smaller space made keeping personal anthropological keepsakes a luxury. We still have an eMac, circa early aughts, in the house as well.

I’ve sung the praises multiple times in this blog about the quality of Apple hardware, especially when it outlived the version of MacOS named for the predatory cat du jour, after which the hardware could be given new life with Linux and FOSS. I’ve converted many Mac users, both PowerPC and Intel, on the basis of their quality hardware matched with the free/open source software paradigm.

As a former MacMarine who circled the wagons in the ’80s and ’90s before Apple made $150 million pact with the devil in Redmond (which, arguably, saved Apple), I understand what Steve Jobs brought to the proverbial table and how significant it is in the march of computer history. Many others are far more eloquently making this point in other writings in the ether of the Internet. It bears repeating that Jobs was a visionary who, through the creations under his leadership in Cupertino, changed the face of consumer electronics.

I get all that.

Despite the fact he locked down Apple hardware and software harder than anyone in history, I think his contributions to the computer world far outweigh his proprietary downside.

But . . .

. . . Steve Jobs blew it when he killed the Newton.

Admittedly, in the annals computer history, this is roughly the equivalent of shortstop legend Ozzie Smith booting a routine grounder in a regular season Cardinals game — rare, but it happened. As the story goes, because the Newton wasn’t his invention or his concept, it was given the heave-ho when Jobs returned to the helm of Apple.

At the time this was a big mistake, and as I watched with my MessagePad 120 in hand, every Palm Pilot that came after the demise of the Newton should have been a Newton. But it wasn’t, because the Newton wasn’t Steve’s baby.

Steve Jobs definitely had done what he had set out to do — put a dent in the universe — and for this reason, he is deserving of all the praise he is getting in obituaries. I’ll go one further: Despite overseeing a technological lockdown of historic and diabolical proportions, Apple — under Jobs leadership — set the bar for hardware development that everyone shoots to match or surpass.

But he should have kept the Newton.

So long, Steve, and thanks for all the Apples.

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.

[FSF Associate Member] (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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Categories: Apple, Newton, Steve Jobs Tags: , ,

. . . brought to you by the letter P

October 5, 2011 Leave a comment

What’s in a name? It depends on who you ask.

Mark Shuttleworth has handed down his decision on the name for Ubuntu 12.04 in a blog item today.

Ready? It’s Precise Pangolin.

Go ahead and look it up, or just jump over to the Wikipedia listing here.

Yeah, one of those, only a precise one. Nice one, Mark.

Deb Nicholson points out on a Facebook post: “The name ‘pangolin’ is derived from the Malay word pengguling (‘something that rolls up’). Go ahead and start the roll-your-own jokes.”

Indeed.

Meanwhile, the democratic exercise where the Fedora community chooses a release name continues as voting is open for the Fedora 17 release name. If you’re a member of the Fedora community, you can vote for one of these, though truth be told, it appears that the ballot may be stacked in Beefy Miracle’s favor.

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.

[FSF Associate Member] (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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Deep in the heart of TexOS

October 4, 2011 3 comments

Both Ken Starks and I have full plates, rhetorically speaking, when it comes to things we’re doing, things we’re planning to do, and things we’re actually getting done in the FOSS realm.

The up side of this is that things are getting done and we’re both staying out of trouble — although I can only speak for myself on the latter. The down side is that, in these busy days, I don’t get to talk to Ken as much as I’d like. But my good friend from the great state of Texas (no, that’s not sarcasm, Ken. Honest) passed on an interesting link that I think deserves special mention.

As most of you know, Ken gets Linux/FOSS boxes in the hands and homes of underprivileged kids in the Austin area through the HeliOS Project. He and I also organized the Lindependence event back in Felton and, as mentioned here in an item back in 2008, he and I are living breathing proof that Linux/FOSS works across political lines for a greater good.

Meanwhile, back at the original point of this blog, Ken passed on a link to something I find very interesting and something that needs to be shared, if not actually built upon.

The link in question is for TexOS, the Texas Open Source Project. The Texas Open Source Project, according to its site, “is working with local, non-profits in the San Angelo, Texas, area to provide technology to students who don’t have access to it at home.”

San Angelo is almost smack dab in the center of Texas — if “smack dab in the center” were me aiming a dart at the bull’s eye of the Lone Star State and being where the dart ends up (just to the left) after I tossed it — just West-Northwest as the crow flies of Austin.

Looking at the “About TexOS” page, the project encompasses a FOSS mentality, especially in providing “low cost access to educational and other useful software for all other purposes.” That’s where we — those who advocate for, and use, Linux and FOSS — come in.

A good example of this is the item posted about how TexOS used LibreOffice and Kalzium, a KDE program, for a school project. This combo is one of may ways that FOSS can be used in an educational setting providing free — as in beer and freedom — software to the classroom/student environment.

The folks at TexOS hold workshops to go with the placement of hardware, so users get a head start with their new machines. This is a definite plus for the kids — who are, according to one report, ages 10-13 — where they get an idea of what they’re getting into with FOSS. They’ve held two so far, with the third coming this Saturday.

This looks like a great program, and I would like to think that Linux/FOSS advocates will take a close look at TexOS as a blueprint in getting the same kind of program promoting Linux/FOSS in their own community.

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.

[FSF Associate Member] (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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