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Happy Birthday, Bassel

May 22, 2014 Leave a comment

Today marks 799 days that Bassel (Safadi) Khartabil has been detained by the Syrian government. It is also his 33rd birthday today, and as this EFF article — one of many good ones floating around today — aptly points out, “Bassel has not been able to write code, or tweet, or hug his family, or do any of the other things that he should have been doing over the past few years.”

A recap: On March 15, 2012, Bassel was detained in a wave of arrests in the Mazzeh district of Damascus, Syria. As I wrote back some time ago, Bassel is the project leader for an open source web software called Aiki Framework. He is well known in online technical communities as a dedicated volunteer to Creative Commons, Mozilla Firefox, Wikipedia, Open Clip Art Library, Fabricatorz, and Sharism.

The EFF link above can guide you to some valuable resources in finding out more and/or particpating in helping to make the wider public aware and to ultimately work to free Bassel.

Bassel has contributed much to the FOSS paradigm, and we look forward to the day when he can continue.

He’s one of us.

Let’s get Bassel back home to his loved ones, so he can resume his life and, once he’s ready, let’s get him coding again.

[P.S. -- An afterthought, because I'm not tooting my own horn, surprisingly: A while ago -- maybe a year -- there was a move to have people fast on behalf of Bassel's plight. The link is no longer active, but I still fast on Fridays.]

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang Guy, Fosstafarian, Larry the Korora 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 in his home office as a consultant providing FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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Eliminate DRM!

Yes, I did that

May 20, 2014 13 comments

No, I have not lost my mind (assuming I had one in the first place). No, I have neither had a change of heart nor have I turned my coat traitorously in doing what I’m about to tell you.

But yes, I applied on the Canonical web site to replace Jono Bacon as Ubuntu’s Community Leader. Now while I wait for the laughter to die down, and while quite possibly Mark Shuttleworth is laughing himself into a new pair of underwear somewhere on the Isle of Man, I should say that I am serious about my qualifications for this position, as outlined in my resume and cover letter.

No one realizes more than I do that I would need a massive cold front to move into hell rather quickly, freezing it over and providing ideal ski conditions, before I have anything resembling a remote chance for the distant possibility of being mildly considered for this stellar position. I get that, and despite the fact there are others who are qualified who might have an advantage in loyalty to Ubuntu and Canonical, I don’t think my qualifications pale in the least.

But as someone who has praised Ubuntu/Canonical when it was warranted, and pointed out the multiplicity of flaws when they’ve raised their ugly heads, I can say that — agree or not — I have always been honest in my commentary and observations about the distro and its community. Frankly, I don’t care that some consider me a pariah — that for years I’ve been considered by some like the evil wrestler playing havoc on the heroic fan favorite in the ring — because I live to a higher standard that Polonius eloquently nailed in “Hamlet” when he said the following:

“This, above all: to thine own self be true.”

So I don’t find it ironic or hypocritical that I’m applying. Nor do I find it hyperbolic when I say that my qualifications clearly meet and exceed the position being vacated by Jono Bacon. My sincere hope is that the next Ubuntu Community Leader adequately fills Bacon’s humongous shoes — who I think could do that, other than me, follows — and Canonical would be well advised to look outside its ivory tower (and, by the way, it could do worse in not hiring me). I am not a yes-man, and my guess is that Bacon and Mark Shuttleworth are surrounded by them already.

But enough about me.

Jono Bacon’s departure leaves a fairly significant vacuum and there are a few people who, off the top of my head, would excel at this.

If I were Mark Shuttleworth — and he and the Ubuntu Community no doubt regularly breathe a huge sigh of relief that I’m not (as do I, believe me) — I would pay a king’s ransom to Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph, who would absolutely nail it if her community work over the last several years is any indication. She is seemingly tireless in her advocacy and her ubiquity when it comes to being a mainstay at just about every Linux/FOSS event — large or small, whether as a keynoter or a speaker, a booth staffer, or even a speaker to smaller groups — is unparalleled. However, in talking with her this morning, she said she’s happy on the software side of things and wants to stay put.

Pity. Elizabeth has a uniting presence which would serve Ubuntu well during transitional, and arguably difficult, times.

My next draft choice would be Nathan Haines, whom I have known for years and who has been an eloquent advocate and steady leader in the California LoCo for quite some time. Nathan and I have sparred, locked horns, and debated many FOSS/Ubuntu issues over the years, and while we may not ultimately sway each other in the end, he has always been civil and smart in his arguments, and he understands a concept — lost on many — that people can disagree without being disagreeable. There are few in FOSS for which I have as much respect as I do for Nathan, and his leadership skills are top-notch.

Another name that keeps coming up is Mark Terranova. Many might consider Mark as FOSS’s “court jester,” and not being above putting on the Linux penguin suit or the “Beefy Miracle” hot dog suit in the cause of promoting FOSS clearly shows there is no one more passionate than Mark in promoting the open source ideal, both inside and outside the digital realm. What many don’t know about Mark is that he also possesses a wealth of organizational talent to go along with an above-average eloquence behind the podium. Mark’s advocacy has stretched across a matrix of different distros, and that would be a plus in this case.

Chances are Canonical will be hiring from within to fill Jono’s position. My fondest hope is that they pick someone from the wider community, rather than pick someone from the “Inner Party,” to invoke Orwell. I am hoping Nathan and Mark have both applied, and I hope Nathan and Mark are being considered.

And I hope they even pause from laughter momentarily to consider the guy who browbeats them into living up to the lofty FOSS ideal. I would certainly appreciate that.

Oh, before I forget: Here are the hashtags — #TeamMark for discussion about Mark Terranova being Ubuntu’s Community Leader; #NathanTheNewJono for Nathan Haines getting the post; and #TeamLarry for yours truly.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang Guy, Fosstafarian, Larry the Korora 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!

Notes, quotes, and smotes

May 4, 2014 3 comments

Sunday morning in Felton is abuzz, first with the Maker Market in the parking lot next to my apartment, complete with a lot of handcrafted items, face-painted children and the luxury — for me anyway — of listening to a great local band, the Coffis Brothers, from the cozy confines of the world’s rattiest, yet most comfortable, couch.

But enough of me and the beautiful day, let’s get back to the blog.

Projectus Interruptus: You have to hand it to Canonical. They paint an awesome — no, and inspirational — picture of what they plan to do, but when it comes to completing the projects? Well, the record there is, at best, spotty. Ubuntu for Android may follow Ubuntu TV as the latest not-ready-for-real-life project, according to an article in PC World. Well, at least they finished Ubuntu One before pulling the plug on this. By the way, has anyone heard anything recently about the smartphone-to-end-all-smartphones that Canonical tried to fund with an Indiegogo campaign?

Speaking of phones . . .
: I finally broke down and got a ZTE Open with Firefox OS on it. My first impressions are that it’s pretty spartan — and when I described it as such to the 20-something clerk at T-Mobile, I answered his blank stare with, “you know, spartan . . . It means austere” — though it works just fine. As I’ve said many times in this blog, I only want my phone to ring, hold a connection, and send/receive text messages; and the latter I could live with or live without. It clearly lacks the bells and whistles that my previous phone, a HTC G2 now handed down to my daughter, had with Android. But I expect this to be temporary as more programs are either developed or more apps are ported from Android and elsewhere. But for the moment, Firefox OS works and works well for my needs. Plus with the orange case with black trim, the ZTE Open phone is in the team colors of my beloved San Francisco Giants.

More on Heartbleed: Simon Phipps absolutely nailed it this week in an InfoWorld article about the OpenSSL’s “unique” license discouraging the necessary scrutiny to avert this crisis. The license in question was a hybrid that doesn’t really lend itself to community engagement, according to David Wheeler, an expert in government use of Open Source Software.

Said Wheeler: “I suspect that more code review and contributions would occur if OpenSSL used a standard widely used license … this awkward licensing situation means that many people who prefer the GPL or LGPL will often not help develop or audit OpenSSL. Some of those who prefer less-restrictive licenses may also be less inclined to help, because again, it is not a standard license.”

Interesting stuff. Anyway, we’ll see you next week.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang Guy, Fosstafarian, Larry the Korora 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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