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Taking the day off

July 21, 2013 Leave a comment

When the sky is this blue and the temperature is not blazing — a rarity in the San Lorenzo Valley during this hotter-than-average summer — it’s hard to concentrate on the screen in front of me and the words that are growing more meaningless with each one added to this paragraph.

So to hell with today’s blog. I’m going outside.

But before I go, there are a couple of things on the radar, of which you should be aware.

First, there’s an OLPC tablet now on sale out there at Walmart and hopefully other places (hopefully, I say, because not even that would get me into a Walmart). While I’m not crazy about the fact that it’s Walmart taking the lead here in selling it, I think it’s a good way to get some funding into the program — middle-class Americans kicking in by buying the tablet.

Sadly, the nimrods at Popular Science don’t think so and ask, in an online article, if the OLPC project has lost its way. Of course the question of whether Popular Science has lost its way is arguably more relevant, but let’s put that aside. The editors there may want to find their way to the nearest team of proctologists in order to help them find their heads.

My hat’s off to the OLPC folks for making this available, and to seek alternative sources of funding where sources are drying up. I think the tablet, though not a replacement for the XO, can be seen as a viable alternative to the original hardware, which incidentally could work in some environments. Also, making it available to the public can only help matters in making the hardware acceptable.

No, I’m not linking the article since I don’t want to drive viewers to the page. Use your friend Mr. Google if you have to go read the article, or you can just go to PopSci.com and see if you can find it there.

Oh, and if you’re an Ubuntu user who has an account on the Ubuntu forums? Congratulations, someone may now have your password. It seems our friends at Canonical — wait, that would be “your friends at Canonical,” because I am sure no one there would consider me their friend, if they wanted to keep their jobs and/or standing in the community — has suffered a massive data breach on its forums. All usernames, passwords, and email addresses were stolen.

Here’s ZDNet’s take on the story.

It would probably be a good idea to change your passwords across the board, if the password for your Ubuntu forum login is the same, or close, to other accounts elsewhere.

So now that I’ve fixed that — I did have an Ubuntu forum account from years ago, though I haven’t been there in at least two years (but why risk it?) — I think I’ll go outside.

[Postscript: Yesterday I realized that it was two years ago on July 20 that I had first posted to the CrunchBang forums and, after writing a blog item about the distro, I became a regular user of the Debian-under-Openbox system. I still use other distros on hardware I have in the house -- primarily Fedora, but other distros as well -- however CrunchBang is on the day-to-day ThinkPad that never leaves my side (awkward, of course, when I'm in the men's room, but still). Thanks for a great distro, Philip Newborough.]

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

Ground Control to Major Mark

May 30, 2013 1 comment

The morning started innocently enough. With coffee in hand and a muffin heating in the toaster, I popped on the Linux news sites to see what was brewing along with the upcoming second cup of joe.

Click. Read. Laugh aloud to wake up the rest of the family before the chainsaw-wielding folks started at 8 sharp to clear trees on the property behind ours.

I’ll let Sean Michael Kerner drive here, because his item here on InternetNews.com nails it.

What’s enormously funny about this is not so much that Mark Shuttleworth has completely removed himself from any remote semblance of — let alone removing any grip on — reality (more on this later). The most humorous aspect here is that the video capture identifies him as the founder of “Ubuntu Linux,” which flies in the face of Ubuntu/Canonical trying their hardest to remove the word “Linux” from anywhere near their distro. Perhaps that was, and is, Bug #0, but that’s for others to debate.

Mark, listen: The “reality distortion field” thing? That may have worked for Steve Jobs (and a good argument could be made that it didn’t even work for him), but seriously, that lightning can only strike once, if at all. For the sake of argument, let’s say Steve made the “reality distortion field” quirky and charming, anyone who emulates that now is, at best, a copycat; at worst . . . well, let’s just not go there. So while you might think that you’re doing FOSS a favor by unilaterally proclaiming the bug fixed, that’s not what my radar is showing. I’d be willing to bet, too, that it’s not showing that way for others as well.

But never mind all that, Mark. Thanks for the laugh.

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

Won’t get fooled again

April 1, 2013 2 comments

I don’t know about anyone else, but I had an entertaining April Fools’ Day, especially thanks to the extent that Google went in providing us with the camouflage of yanking Google Reader by providing such diversions as Google Smell, the Google Map Treasure Edition and — my favorite — Gmail Blue (it’s so . . . blue).

In fact, I had plans of my own but never completed them — and my sincere apologies to Jef Spaleta for that. I had planned to write a campaign platform for Jef and me as a pair of candidates — Spaleta/Cafiero 2013 — for the upcoming Ubuntu Membership Board elections. This platform was going to liberally sprinkle quotes from last year’s Jono Bacon April 1 piece about Jono really being Jef Spaleta, and of course the multiplicity of reasons why you, as a faithful member of the Ubuntu Apocalypse, should vote for him, or for both of us.

But I never got around to it.

[Note to Ubunteros: You're welcome to write-in either Jef or me on your ballot if you have qualms about the direction that Ubuntu is taking. Just a suggestion . . . ]

However, I am guilty of one prank. Blame Gareth Greenaway, a bad influence and the operations committee chair for the Southern California Linux Expo (not necessarily in that order). Toward the end of SCALE 11X this year, he had an idea for an April Fools’ goof that would involve SCALE and O’Reilly: SCALE would take over OSCON. Ideally, O’Reilly would be in on this — an opportunity on which they passed (shame on them) — and we’d both post a release on our sites saying that O’Reilly had handed OSCON over to us at SCALE (EDIT: I have taken down the release from the SCALE site, and it can be found in the comments). Alas, it was a one-sided affair, posted on our social media and on the SCALE 11X site. To my knowledge, it was received very well, in its own transparent way.

In case you didn’t get it, SCALE is not taking over OSCON. If you spell out the first letters of each paragraph, you get the message.

Some folks don’t like April 1. I’m not one of them. I like the free rein of having a day where you can exercise your wits in convincing others of something that isn’t true, and then move on. I can dish it out and I can take it — and I don’t mind so much being on the receiving end of a prank if it’s well crafted.

So tomorrow I pick up my guitar and play, just like yesterday, and I get on my knees and pray . . . .

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

What’s really important

March 13, 2013 5 comments

So . . . I had written a blog post addressing the remote hope that I’d at least get a postcard from the vacation from reality that Canonical’s self-appointed hubris-monger Mark Shuttleworth has recently taken, while urging those in the various *buntu communities do some soul searching when your project leader says, “If you’ve done what you want for Ubuntu, then move on.”

Then I sat on the blog post for a few days, wondering if it was too incendiary. I took walks. I had coffee with friends. I bounced the theme of what I was writing off a few people. I embarrassingly lost a huge Tetris smackdown to my darling daughter at the arcade at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

In that particular item, comparisons were made: The Mark’s emulation of Steve Jobs speaks volumes about the danger that lies ahead for freedom and real progress in that particular community; to say nothing of Shuttleworth’s detatchment from reality — what Jobs observers used to call his “reality distortion field.” This fantasy world tries so hard to be branded as “innovative” when echoed by the zombies populating the Ubuntu Apocalypse but, in all reality, it’s just regressive. Additionally, the prevailing attitude displayed by the Ubuntu/Canonical leadership raises the arguable point that those in its community could very well be — if they aren’t already — the FOSS equivalent of battered spouses who need to get out of that relationship with all speed.

Canonical is rapidly becoming Canonisoft: Realize that and you know what you need to do, Ubunteros.

But late last night, I decided not to post it. I deleted it to replace it with what you’re reading now because there are far more important things going on in the world at this moment; things that need immediate attention because lives are at stake.

Let’s take a look at Syria, for example: Bassel Khartabil, who some of you may know as Bassel Safadi, will have been imprisoned in Syria for exactly a year on Friday. Bassel, 31, specializes in open source software development, and is known worldwide for his strong commitment to the open web, teaching others about technology, and contributing his experience freely to help the world. Bassel is the project leader for an open source web software called Aiki Framework, and he is a dedicated volunteer to major Internet projects like Creative Commons, Mozilla Firefox, Wikipedia, Open Clip Art Library, Fabricatorz, and Sharism.

Find out more about Bassel here and watch the video on that page — it’s short but informative. Then read more about his plight on this page, and sign the letter to support freeing him as soon as possible.

Also, there are various actions taking place on Friday — the anniversary of Bassel’s detention — and there are things you can do either by your physical or digital presence, which are listed here. To post information about any action or ideas you might have, go here.

Those of you who read this blog on a regular basis know I’ve written about this before. I’ll keep writing about it, just as I keep fasting on Fridays until Bassel is free.

But the fact remains: What’s really important here — in the wider world — is not stroking the ego of a self-important, self-appointed “leader” who laughably claims to be an innovator, but saving the life of an important contributor to the FOSS paradigm locked away in a Syrian prison, nearly for a year so far without charge.

Now, if you’ll excuse me for a few moments, I need to go back to the arcade and practice Tetris for the rematch.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang 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 individual consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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Eliminate DRM!

Nothing to add here

March 7, 2013 16 comments

As hard as it may be to believe, there are times when even I am speechless.

I keep the goings-on of Canonical and the Ubuntu community at an arm’s length — the real reason is to keep my blood pressure down. But actually, the gravity with which Canonical pulls Ubuntu further from its original FOSS orbit is nothing short of tragic, and it’s something that weighs heavily on any FOSS advocate.

Two influential Ubunteros — Martin Owens and Elizabeth Krumbach — weighed in on the situation recently and both of their recent blog posts deserve a good reading.

Martin writes in his most recent blog item:

“But I have to be honest, there isn’t an Ubuntu community any more. There’s a Canonical community, an ubuntu-users gaggle and maybe an enthusiasts posse. But no community that makes decisions, builds a consensus, advocates or educates. It’s dead now, it’s been that way for a while.”

What’s interesting is the discussion in the comments in Martin’s blog, especially the observations made by Jef Spaleta, who has always maintained an even keel in pointing out that the emperor had no clothes.

In my opinion, Elizabeth’s detailed blog post goes into great depth around the current situation, and it sheds a lot of light on it. But I think she’s unnecessarily hard on herself when she wraps up her blog with this:

“As a Community Council member I do feel like I’ve let the community down for not realizing what was happening to the community sooner. The duo of optimism and trust is not always a strength, it blinded me to some serious truths about how things have changed and our responsibility in this new community dynamic.”

Frankly, I am hoping that this works itself out, but I don’t hold out much hope. So I really have nothing to add to the two blog posts above, other than for those who are in this position to think carefully about the future.

POSTSCRIPT: There has been talk — some of it coming from the higher, orbital echelons of Canonical — that this potential schism is just about the rolling release or some other superficial issue. Let’s put aside for now how dangerous and counterproductive this misperception is, on a leadership level. Rather, let’s take a look at one example, outlined very eloquently by Aaron Seigo on a Google+ post here (I had read this earlier, but did not realize until now there was a link available to it). I’m sorry I am unable to comment on Aaron’s post since the comments are closed, but I would completely agree with his assessment. Oh, and one more thing: What does it say to a community when the project leader turns off comments in a blog post, as Mark Shuttleworth did in today’s offering?

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

Doing things right

July 12, 2012 Leave a comment

A couple of days ago, I had read — but hadn’t confirmed — that Red Hat’s Jaroslav Reznik had been chosen to be the Fedora Project Manager, finally filling the unfillable shoes left empty by Robyn Bergeron when she was given the glorious burden of becoming Fedora Project Leader. So now that this has been confirmed by those who know, I’d like to say to Jaroslav: “Suit up.” And congratulations, of course, are in order. It’s a great choice.

This should come as no surprise. If any entity in the FOSS realm knows how to do things right, it’s the Fedora Project.

Their methodology of engineering and organization — tying together what may seem to be outlying tangents of promotion, design and documentation into a unit which never seems to fail in firing on all cylinders — should serve as the textbook by which all distros should be run.

What often gets lost in the grand scheme of things is that the Fedora Project produces this array of great accomplishments without seeking fanfare or demanding the spotlight, the way some other vowel-laden distros do. They just get things done the way they’re supposed to be done — developing code, pushing that code upstream and providing the organizational trappings that help get it out, releasing every six months, and all for the benefit the greater FOSS community.

Naturally, it helps to have a sponsor that’s the first billion-dollar FOSS corporation. But bear in mind that Red Hat doesn’t get that important and historic designation without the Fedora Project — without Fedora, Red Hat isn’t Red Hat. Each knows the symbiotic relationship one has with the other.

Even in the face of adversity — when people who should know better were doing their best Chicken Little imitations in the face of a UEFI lockout — the Fedora Project simply started working on a fixing the problem. The first solution they have come up with may not be the most ideal, and I’d be willing to bet it’s not the last one, but it’s a start. But then, that’s what industry leaders do — they encounter the problem and fix it.

Without fanfare and without grabbing the spotlight.

As many of you already know, I had the honor of participating in the Fedora Project from 2008 until last summer. In July of last year, I started using CrunchBang, a Debian-based distro originating in England which uses the Openbox window manager. After finding it suited my needs and after using it exclusively for nine months, I finally joined that community earlier this year, determining it to be a better fit for my varied, and hopefully growing, skill set. Naturally, I bring with me all I learned from the Fedora Project, which is much, and naturally I value the friendships and relationships garnered while a Fedorista (I know, I know — it’s “Fedoran,” which of course sounds like an alien, but never mind).

One more thing: It’s nice to be able to say something positive for a change; to be able to write something without having to pry the palm of my hand from my face in order to type. Trust me, the only thing worse than having to point out things gone wrong in FOSS that no one else wants to write about is this: having to take the time to put these wrongs in pixels here in this blog. So with that, even further thanks should go to the Fedora Project.

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!

A tale of two tablets

June 16, 2012 6 comments

On Monday, Microsoft is supposed to make an earth-shattering announcement in Los Angeles in a press conference so secret that not even the press knows where to go yet. Apparently, they’ll find out where they need to go on Monday morning for this ultra-mega-super-secret “announcement.”

My bet is that they’re buying Nokia. After all, they’ve already planted one of their executives as Nokia CEO, who essentially and for all intents and purposes scorched the Nokia earth below his feet and trashed the company, making it ripe for the picking.

Of course, there’s an outside chance, too, that the conventional wisdom may be correct and they’re going to be releasing their own tablet with Windows 8, which is what the New York Times thinks.

Or Microsoft is merging with Canonical to become Canonisoft. OK, so maybe that’s a stretch.

But I digress. Regardless of what happens in Los Angeles on Monday — tablet or Nokia, or both — let’s say, for the sake of argument, that it has to do with one or both of these two topics.

Buying Nokia? Yawn.

Tablet? Oh, good luck with that. Sarcasm alert: Redmond is a hallmark of product quality and customer service. But seriously, if the tablet is as bad as the software Microsoft has put out for the last, oh, generation or so, coupled with their customer service which is the gold standard of awful, arguably releasing a new tablet with Windows 8 could be one of the biggest disasters since the Hindenberg.

Meanwhile, since we’re on the topic of tablets, let’s come up the coast a bit from the shrouded mystery of Los Angeles to sunny Berkeley, California, where ZaReason is busy putting together the final touches on their own tablet. If the activity in the IRC channel is any indication, they’re pretty close to having something ready for prime time fairly soon.

I had a chance to use the Android version of the tablet — rumor has it that the ZaReason tablet is being engineered with Ubuntu OS in mind — since I was entrusted with some of the ZaReason hardware that was shown at the joint ZaReason-CrunchBang table at Linux Fest Northwest.

Truth in advertising: I’m not a tablet guy by anyone’s definition of the phrase. But that said, many folks are drawn to the smaller form factor, and if that works for you, you should give the ZaReason tablet serious consideration once it’s released. It’s a solid machine, and the Android version we got to display at LFNW was met with a lot of enthusiasm by those attendees who are tablet and Android aficionadoes.

Also, when the ZaReason tablet is released, chances are it won’t be in some sort of secret press conference. And it won’t have Windows 8.

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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