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Archive for May, 2012

UDS: He did NOT say that . . . did he?

May 8, 2012 3 comments

For reasons mentioned in yesterday’s blog item, I’m not at the Ubuntu Developers Summit in Oakland. Oh, I could go up there and attend — it’s only 80 miles from the cozy confines of the Felton redwoods — but I value my life and I’d like to keep it, thank you very much.

This is not to say that I don’t hear about what’s going on there from friends, as well as from members of the Ubuntu Apocalypse, who are in attendance and are blogging, tweeting and communicating in some form or another (no smoke signals yet, sadly). I do hear a lot of what’s going on, and I thank everyone for posting the updates.

Of all the gems from yesterday’s presentations, which featured The Mark but not in a black turtleneck and jeans (I lose that bet), there is one quoted by a Web site called OMG Ubuntu where Canonical’s Chris Kenyon announced at UDS yesterday that Ubuntu is on course to ship on 5 percent of the world’s PCs next year.

Honestly? I hope this happens. Honestly? I think there’s a better chance of a squadron of pigs flying in formation over me while I set a world’s record for the 100-yard dash just before giving birth. To triplets.

Let’s put aside the fact that this is a significant backpedal from The Mark’s prediction that there are going to be 20 million new Ubuntu users this year. I’m going to let others handle that routine grounder.

Some are willing to move the goalposts for Canonical in order for them to succeed. A valid viewpoint there, though one with which I don’t agree. Pull the goalie if you want — I’m even willing to give that issue a pass as well.

I’m going to travel the more reasonable route, simply questioning their sanity, casting a suspicious eye at their motives and, most importantly, wondering aloud about their metrics. Rather, I’m going to rage against the machine, as I often do, and let a voice of reason, Jef Spaleta, drive here. In a post on my Facebook page relating to the OMG! Ubuntu article I posted, Jef makes the following astute observation on why this is not a “clear win” with these few paragraphs:

“Larry, Ship does not mean sold…generally speaking. And I have pretty much no information on China and India and other emerging markets. They could really have an upward trend there..but its not exactly easy to try to verify even in a ballpark sense.

“The real question I have is: If they did ship as many as they say last year… why isn’t that enough revenue to be self-sustaining? And if they get to 5% next year… will that be enough revenue to be self-sustaining at present expense levels? There OEM partners are going to throw them under the bus as soon as Canonical needs to start passing costs on to OEMs instead of eating them.

“I fear they continue to focus on the wrong metrics. Hitting 5% and not having a sustainable business model to service that growth is classic boom/bust business. Do OEMs value Ubuntu enough to pay an equitable share of the cost of its development? So far its not clear that the answer to that is yes. And until its clearly yes… this is not a clear win. The bigger Canonical gets and the longer this drags on, while servicing red ink there ledger, the harder it will be for them to steer the ship off the rocks.”

Well said, Jef.

OK folks in Oakland: Keep having fun and enjoy the Kool-Aid.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides true FOSS solutions — which no longer includes Canonical/Ubuntu products — in the small business and home office environment.)

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Welcome, race fans

May 7, 2012 4 comments

Throughout the South — or anywhere that holds a NASCAR race — you’ll see signs that say “Welcome, race fans” pop up with ubiquity. So it would be interesting to see if there’s a crop of “Welcome, Ubunteros” signs cropping up in Oakland for the Ubuntu Developers Summit, which starts today.

Have fun, guys and gals.

I won’t be there. I can hear the collective sigh of relief. Since I’m the Emannuel Goldstein of the Ubuntu/Canonical set, they’re just going to have to broadcast my picture during their three-minutes-of-hate session and leave it at that.

Rather than attend an event designed to line Mark Shuttleworth’s pockets with “coin” (pronounced kwan), I think I’ll do something more constructive. I’m teaching a class — it’s sort of a rolling head start into the next school year — on Python to homeschooled middle schoolers/high schoolers at my daughter’s base school. Using “Snake Wrangling for Kids,” we’ll get started on making some FOSS developers, hopefully, out of some of the students here.

So, benefit one or benefit all?

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides true FOSS solutions — which no longer includes Canonical/Ubuntu products — in the small business and home office environment.)

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Mark’s reality distortion field

May 4, 2012 15 comments

Here’s a bet: I’d be willing to bet either a dollar, a cup of coffee or even going an entire day where I only say nice things about Canonical/Ubuntu, that Mark Shuttleworth comes to the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Oakland later this month in a black turtleneck sweater and blue jeans.

After all, he’s got Steve Jobs’ reality distortion field down pat.

Don’t take my word for it. Here are some examples:

20 million new Linux PCs in 2012: That’s a prediction that Mark Shuttleworth made which was reported by the tech press. Let’s take that word-for-word, so we don’t misunderstand. We get the amount — 20 million — which is a lot. We understand “new” to mean “not old,” or “not used,” to go along with Linux PCs. So “20 million new Linux PCs” in 2012. New PCs, not installs on other PCs. Needless to say, I’d give my right arm for Mark to be right on this one, but I can tell you that on New Year’s Day seven months from now, I’ll have both my arms intact.

So yeah, if saying it made it so . . . .

Blocked by Red Hat: After reading this, I am truly moved to tears. No wait, those aren’t tears of sadness, but tears of rage. The small amount that Canonical/Ubuntu has contributed to both GNOME (when it was using GNOME) and the kernel have been widely reported, both here and elsewhere. And for those who need a primer, let me explain how a meritocracy works: Those who do the majority of the work essentially get to call the shots. Note to The Mark: Whining is very unbecoming, especially for someone who considers himself an industry leader. Oh, and Steve never did it.

In fact, Mark and others, take a look at the first comment on the aforementioned item, a submission by TheWholeTruth. It speaks volumes to why Shuttleworth and the Ubuntero flock might find less resistance in some FOSS circles if you worked with everyone instead of going off on your own.

Debian is part of the Ubuntu ecosystem: If there ever was a non-starter, it’s this ridiculous statement by The Mark. Truly. I’d be willing to bet that, failing history being rewritten, that Debian begat Ubuntu, not the other way around, and that Debian continues to do much more for FOSS than Ubuntu will ever do. So who is responsible for who? I think Debian is owed a huge apology.

And so on. So while I wait patiently here for the ad hominem attacks from the Ubuntu faithful, I’ll go grab some popcorn.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides true FOSS solutions — which no longer includes Canonical/Ubuntu products — in the small business and home office environment.)

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Marginalia and minutiae

May 3, 2012 Leave a comment

Whew. First of all, I’m sorry I can’t make Utah Open Source Conference this weekend in Orem, but I wish I could. Here’s the thing: When you put two shows on back-to-back weekends, one of them gets the attention and the other . . . not so much. So while I’m still decompressing a bit from Linux Fest Northwest (and while my wallet smolders with burned-through credit cards), I have to pass on what is normally one of the highlights of the year for me. Sorry, guys and gals, you know I love UTOSC but I can’t make it this year.

Just to touch base on a couple of issues today while I still play catch-up after a great weekend in Bellingham:

Single-window GIMP: My prayers to the graphics program gods are answered, finally. Call me slow — I’ve been called worse — but finally GIMP 2.8 is out and, thankfully, it has the single-window that I’ve been waiting for, well, ever since I started using GIMP and would sometimes . . . OK, always . . . get hopefully lost among the multiple panels. Thank you, thank you, thank you, GIMP!

CrunchBang Waldorf right around the corner? The first CrunchBang 11 “Waldorf” development builds are now out — get them here — and it looks like Philip Newborough has produced another winner as soon as it officially leaves the starting blocks sometime soon. Currently I have it running on a ThinkPad T30 and it’s going great guns. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to give the development build a shot, download it and take a few laps.

Mark, Mark, Mark . . . tsk, tsk, tsk: I certainly hope Mark Shuttleworth has tasty shoes, because putting one foot in one’s mouth would require it; to say nothing of how unbecoming whining is, especially from someone trying to be the next Steve Jobs. In this Muktware blog item, The Mark whines about how Red Hat hampered Canonical’s participation with GNOME, which is probably just one observation on the issue, and arguably not exactly an objective one. I didn’t write it, but I wish I had — the first comment on the blog from TheWholeTruth speaks volumes to the real issue.

From Beefy Miracle to Spherical Cow: The Fedora 18 release name was voted on and the results are in: Spherical Cow. That may get the big “huh?” from a lot of folks, but to theoretical physicists and other scientists, Spherical Cow makes perfect sense. Also, it may be a quick sketch, but Juan Rodriguez has drawn an excellent adaptation of the Fedora logo to go along with it, unofficially of course.

One more thing: Happy Birthday to the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. Uhn! Yeah! Get on up-pah, and have a great birthday!

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 develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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Linux Fest Northwest makes its mark

May 1, 2012 1 comment

Those of us who have been to Linux shows, or especially have worked Linux shows, in the past know the drill. It’s something out of “Field of Dreams.” If you build it — the “it” here being a Linux event — they will come, and they will all seem to come right at Saturday morning at 9 sharp when the show officially starts.

They did just that at Linux Fest Northwest. Past its first decade of operation, LFNW has established itself as the premiere Linux event in the region and, as I’ve mentioned before, next to the Southern California Linux Expo, it’s the best show on the West Coast. For two days, geeks in the Northwest get to listen to top-notch presenters — as well as people like me — and visit exhibits from distros, software and hardware makers.

The Bellingham Linux Users Group and volunteers from other open source user groups in the area never fail to put on a great expo, and I think I speak for many attendees when I say that I’m deeply grateful for their efforts. About 1,200 people attended LFNW on the campus of Bellingham Technical College over the weekend. Thanks, LFNW folks.

Here’s a look at the weekend:

Not another distro . . .: Bill Smith and his wife Portia staffed the CrunchBang booth with me, and again my thanks go out to them for the help. Visitors to the booth ranged from those who knew what CrunchBang was to those who whined, “Not another distro . . .” To which I replied far too often, “Yes, another distro. This one is Debian with the OpenBox window manager,” before explaining the advantages of CrunchBang. “There’s a digital Darwinism at play here, with the good distros gathering a strong community and thriving, and others . . . not so much.” There were about 150 pieces of media burned — CDs and DVDs — all of which went out the door with prospective users. I, of course, will sit in the corner with the pointy hat because, truth be told, I forgot the banner and the “success kid” stickers made up for LFNW, but we’ll use ‘em next year.

Hello, I’m Greg DeKoenigsberg: The printed program had it right, as did the Web site. But the large poster on the wall on the Haskell classroom building on Saturday morning had Greg’s presentation on the schedule where I was giving the Intro to CrunchBang talk. With LFNW’s permission, Greg and I had switched presentation times more than a week prior to the event, since he was getting in late. But the poster outside the wall had the old schedule. Try as I might — which, of course, was not very hard — I could not convince the folks that I was the Eucalyptus VP. After an announcement that if you were there for Greg’s talk, it would be tomorrow, only a couple of people bailed out. As for my talk, it went as well as my talks usually go — no one was injured and law enforcement officials were nowhere to be found — and Scott Dowdle videotaped it, so as soon as that gets posted, I’ll let you know.

The (two) big thing(s): The big thing at Linux Fest Northwest — not including OpenSUSE rep Bryen Yunashko’s hat — was the Pogo Linux’s booth, which featured a full-fledged, sit-behind-the-wheel racing game with three large-screen monitors, where drivers navigated a course and prizes were given for the fastest laps. No, my racing days are far behind me, but from what I was told by someone who raced cars and turned the second fastest lap on Saturday, it was very realistic. Another big thing — bigger to the Android crowd, apparently, and arguably just as fast as the racing game — was the ZaReason tablet, which many folks tried out at our booth (ZaReason shared the CrunchBang booth at LFNW). Keep an eye on that, since this full-fledged Android tablet will be coming out very soon.

Hands across the water: It was a grand experiment, though operator error by yours truly may have kept it from being a huge success. But during the CrunchBang Birds of a Feather meetup on Sunday morning, we used a Google+ Hangout to raise CrunchBang lead developer Philip Newborough. Sort of. Despite getting dropped a couple of times — once because I hit the wrong key — we got to talk about the show, about what’s coming up for CrunchBang and things along those lines, and it was very informative for those in attendance. Thanks, Philip, and Rebecca Newborough as well, who in her capacity as the CrunchBang Community Leader also participated from the Lincoln side of things.

Bon mots: I’m still apologizing to Deb Nicholson for forgetting her surname in introducing her to Philip Newborough at the BoF on Sunday morning. You know you work with someone in FOSS circles for years and something like this happens . . . . A shout-out goes to Eric Craw, a new CrunchBang user from Washington who converted at Linux Fest Northwest. Not only did he start using CrunchBang, but he already started contributing code back to the project, showing that this is what FOSS is all about . . . . David Whitman of Hacker Public Radio gave me a few minutes of interview time at the end of Linux Fest Northwest, so all that thumping and loading in the background may or may not be audible once the interview is broadcast . . . . I drove 962 miles each way to attend LFNW, but this show is so great that I would have walked 962 miles to get to Bellingham. Again, kudos to the LFNW crew.

Start rumors: In my capacity as publicity chair for the Southern California Linux Expo, I finally got to sit down with my good friends Warren Sanders and Scott Dowdle, and two folks from the Big Sky Country that I hadn’t met — Rocky Mountain College’s Andrew Niemantsverdreit and Gary Bummer, who is Scott’s colleague at Montana State University — and the five of us discussed bringing an event to their area. So be on the lookout for Montana Linux Fest, or something like it, in 2013.

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 develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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Eliminate DRM!

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