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Game on

October 24, 2012 2 comments

Those who reguarly read this blog know that I’m not a gamer. Well into my sixth decade, my strong suit includes games that involve letters etched on wooden tiles, and my hand-eye coordination is limited to waving arm movements to accompany a full-throated, “Get off my lawn!”

Regardless, I do recognize the contributions that games make to the digital performance of hardware, and the subsequent technological advances to hardware. It’s a lot like the technological advances and developments in auto racing finding themselves worthy by automotive engineers to be included in passenger cars somewhere down the line.

So back in August when Gabe Newell said that Valve was going to bring Left 4 Dead 2 — which to me sounds like a final score: Left 4 Dead 2, Left advances (but never mind) — to Linux and called Windows 8 “a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space,” I would say that he would know.

According to a blog item by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes back in the summer, Kinglsey-Hughes writes that “Newell believes that the roadblock keeping gamers away from adopting Linux as their operating system of choice is a lack of games for the platform, so his company plans to bring a selection of titles — including the popular Left 4 Dead 2 — in an attempt to lure gamers to the free and open source platform.”

OK, I’m with you there, Gabe.

Fast forward to today: PC Gamer has a story about Steam — another gaming software company with a monosyllabic name — bringing Team Fortress 2 to Linux.

Is it me, or are we seeing a trend here?

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!

Money, meet mouth

October 22, 2012 3 comments

When I wrote my last blog item, I didn’t expect the kind of overwhelming response that I got, for which I am truly grateful. I also want to make sure that credit is given where credit is due: James Eriksen — merelyjim — of Fort Worth, Texas, wrote the original blog post and posted the same in the CrunchBang Talk forum, and I picked up the proverbial ball and ran with it. Thanks, James.

Also, just so you know I also walk the walk of the talk I talk, I had donated some money to a few FOSS projects that are near and dear to my heart. The amount, though stretching a budget that had a small surplus, is not that significant and I’m not aiming to have the spotlight shine on me. But I am proud to admit that I practice what I preach.

So when Ubuntu/Canonical earlier this month asked for a handout, I cut out the middleman and gave directly to Debian instead. You can do the same by going to the Software in the Public Interest site, where there are a whole host of worthy projects that require funding.

Also, to my distro of choice — CrunchBang — I gave a bit. Philip Newborough does an outstanding job and the team of forum denizens answering a tsunami of questions on a daily basis is a textbook case of how FOSS projects should work.

Beth Lynn Eicher’s Africa project got a donation as well — and to those who are still thinking about giving, she could use some help. She’s overseeing a project to get Edubuntu-based machines to schools in Ghana, and she may have to cut her trip short if more funds are not forthcoming.

From the time my daughter was in kindergarten, she was raised on Tux Paint, and for years we used that program. I would even credit the development of her current artistic talent to her use of the program. It was long past time I made a donation to New Breed Software and my apologies to Bill Kendrick and his crew for taking so long while they produced over the last decade some of the greatest educational software on the planet.

The Free Software Foundation has been getting $10 a month from me since 2006. I don’t always agree with the direction the FSF is taking and I find their leadership lacking in many ways, but I do believe in their principles. I also joined the Open Source Initiative when they opened the organization up for membership several months ago, and clearly I don’t see a conflict in belonging to both organizations.

Partimus, REGLUE and other projects near and dear to me, you’re next.

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!

‘No thanks. I got Linux’

October 21, 2012 17 comments

Windows 8 will be unleashed, Kraken-like, on an awaiting public on Oct. 26, which is this Friday. For US$79.99 — let’s just round that up to US$80 — one can get the latest version of the Windows operating system which, by many reports, is not ideal yet not as bad a some of the other products Redmond has forced upon the public in the past.

A CrunchBang user with the handle merelyjim posted this thread on the CrunchBang forum under the title, “No thanks. I got Linux” where he thinks that this $80 can be better spent elsewhere — like on your current distro or your favorite FOSS program.

I urge you to read the full text on the link or read merelyjim’s original blog item, but I’ll let merelyjim drive here:

“It’s hard to express what Linux has done for me. I’ve learned more with Linux than I ever did with Windows. I’ve been part of dynamic communities that have engaged in passionate arguments, clever discussions, and crazy flame wars. Like family, you take the crazy (um… that would be me) with the funny. Instead of just allowing me to ‘try and make things work’ on my own, there were those who tried to nudge me along the right path, even when I didn’t want to see it. I have undying gratitude for those who were willing to share their time and experience with me, even though I never knew them in real life.

“So, on October 26th, 2012, instead of giving Microsoft $79.99 for Windows 8 upgrade, I’m going to donate the same amount to the Linux-distro I use the most.

“I invite you to join me in doing this.

“I don’t really care which distro; we’re all family. If you’d prefer, donate to a specific Open Source project, instead. As long as you give something that lets Paypal, Amazon, of Flattr know that something’s going on that day. If you can’t give monetarily, at least spread the word.

“I want the Linux community to show Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Oracle that we matter, we care for each other, and there are a lot more of us than they think. If you contribute, I hope you’ll e-mail or tweet whomever manufactured your machines so they’ll know you use their hardware running a Linux kernel.”

Amen to that, merelyjim.

There are a wide variety of projects you can donate to in the FOSS realm. Start with your distro of choice. Use a particular FOSS program often and find it useful? Most programs have donation links. There are even some projects that are not software related that deserve special mention: REGLUE, formerly the HeliOS Project, provides Linux-based computers to underprivileged kids in the Austin, Texas, area; Partimus puts Linux-based computers in schools in the San Francisco Bay Area; and one project that I find important is Beth Lynn Eicher’s effort to bring Edubuntu-based computers to schools in Ghana.

For those who do not have money to donate — been there, done that — you can always donate time, which in many cases can be more valuable than currency. If you program, there are places where you can pitch in on distros and FOSS programs across the board. Don’t program? Don’t worry — many projects have needs beyond the 0′s and 1′s that include things like documentation (for the writers out there), design (for the artists), translation (for the multilingual) . . . the list goes on. If you have a special skill set, programming or non-programming, there’s something for you to do.

Got some ideas on where to donate? Post them in the comments.

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!

Sentinel’s Media Lab and GIMP (no, not related)

May 9, 2012 Leave a comment

A shout-out for the job: As some of you know, I am not only a FOSS advocate, but I am also a newspaper editor; the latter of which pays most of the bills. As such, I’m also part of the Santa Cruz Community Media Lab that is run by the Santa Cruz Sentinel, which is hosting a gathering at Cruzio at noon on Thursday (that’s tomorrow). It’s a sign-in affair with only a few seats left, so you have to RSVP to the Media Lab or e-mail on-line editor Tom Moore at tmoore-at-santacruzsentinel-dot-com.

In my position as big kahuna of tech blogs, if you have a tech blog and you live in the Santa Cruz area, you’ll want to participate in the Media Lab. You can do that by contacting me at the Sentinel at lcafiero-at-santacruzsentinel-dot-com, I’ll be there, waiting by the Windows box.

Single-window GIMP: GIMP 2.8, with its long-awaited single-pane set up (oh, thank God!), is finally here. I haven’t yet put it through its paces, but I did want to mention before I do that this is a welcome improvement. Many folks have gotten used to the multiple windows in GIMP. I have never gotten used to them. In fact, they mock me every time the come up because, invariably, I get lost. That’s an operator error, I’ll be the first to admit, however having just one window to deal with will certainaly help the GIMP-challenged among us. A review is forthcoming.

Remarkably clear and 63 among the redwoods in Felton.

(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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Eliminate DRM!

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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Eliminate DRM!

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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Eliminate DRM!

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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Eliminate DRM!

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