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Take a breath, then respond

May 6, 2011 4 comments

[Note: I wrote this in the LXer.com forum in response to Jeff Hoogland's blog posting on #fedora that was linked to LXer.com. I did spell out "asshat" below, where I did not do that in the forum posting. Jeff's blog item is here, and I would invite everyone to read it first before reading my response below. Or not. It's up to you. Also, I fixed the link to the Eric Raymond/Rick Moen tome that's worth a read as well.]

Truth in advertising disclaimer: Many of you already know that I have been an active participant in the Fedora Project for several years; for those of you who don’t, that secret is now out (and, man, do I feel relieved admitting it!). I have also been a regular in many IRC channels, both Fedora and non-Fedora related, though I am not a regular in #fedora — in fact, I avoid #fedora for the same reasons Jeff outlines in his self-proclaimed “rant.”

That said, Jeff accurately points out a situation that has been a sticking point, and one that is being addressed and corrected, in the Fedora Project around the types of caustic responses that sometimes come up in #fedora. Also, while I don’t frequent the channel and usually find answers to my questions elsewhere — a good practice (and more on this later) — I can say that it’s something that has caused some of us in the Fedora Project some concern.

However — and you knew that was coming — just as an observation on my part, it appears Jeff shot from the hip on this one rather than giving it some thought before writing.

Believe me, I am not casting the first stone against this “sin” — I speak from experience here: lots of experience in which I have fired off unretractable words that a walk in the redwoods or shooting a few hoops would have tempered into something more reasonable and justifiable.

So, Jeff, with apologies, I think your blog goes over the top in the following ways:

a.) #fedora has not cornered the market in asshats by any stretch of the imagination, despite our mutual experience in this particular channel. The cantakerous tards who have an inflated self-worth exist in most IRC channels in every distro across the board — maybe not in Bodhi, if their leader has any say in it (I sincerely hope) — but I think it’s more the nature of things like how IRC operates as well as a wake-up call for the need for change, positive change, in this regard.

b.) It’s a little myopic to judge the performance of a distro by the people “representing” it (and, arguably, any bad experience in any distro-related IRC channel does not accurately reflect the community as a whole, but rather reflects personality flaws in those responding to questions, regardless of whether they’re chanops or not). If that were the case, I would never, ever, EVER use PCLinuxOS, since I have had the same experience seeking information from them that we have had with Fedora (and I do have a box in the lab with PCLOS).

c.) An aside: When I first started using Linux, I was told to read this tome by Eric S. Raymond and Rick Moen: “How to Ask Questions the Smart Way” which lives here:

http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html

(You may have to copy/paste the link above — there is no space before the ~ though each posting insists on inserting one)

Why this isn’t a README in all distros is a mystery, but it should be. I am not suggesting that Jeff asked the wrong question here, but often times questions are not asked in the most efficient or direct way. But as Jeff points out in his blog, we don’t know the circumstances that the user is facing in finding out an answer, but it does help immensely to ask the right question. Immensely.

d.) Another aside: I can’t imagine Jared Smith of Fedora or Jono Bacon of Ubuntu firing off a rant like this. As a project leader for what I think is an up-and-coming distro, I hope you understand, Jeff, that as a project leader, you’re in the bigs now and what you say and do reflect on your project for better or worse.

For those of you who have gotten this far, thanks for staying awake. I’ll now put on my Nomex and feel free to flame away.

[FSF Associate Member] (Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation. He is also one of the founders of the Lindependence Project.)
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Fools one and all

April 1, 2011 6 comments

Linuxfest Northwest 2011 - April 30th-May 1st I’ll be there. You should be there, too.

[Update: OK, WordPress, very funny: When you go to look at your blog stats, the real number is on the bar chart, but the bar on the bar chart it set at astronomical heights.]

So far, the pickings began somewhat slim on the tech news front regarding har-de-har-har April Fools’ Day joke news, but it seems to be picking up as of around 9 a.m. Pacific Time — and by this time, which is dusk or later in Europe and night in Asia, the stories should be out and read by now.

The best of the tech so far are these two:

— That KDE is the prize in a raffle, outlined on the KDE site here. I’m just wondering if those who are “offering” are clear on the concept of “prize.”

– Marcel Gagne gives us probably the best written one of the day with his Microsoft buys ReactOS for billions, which you can read here. It had me going before the first cup of coffee this morning.

One that would get a thumbs up except it glosses over an issue that Canonical/Ubuntu would just as soon hide in the dungeon and make believe everything is just peachy is the real identity of “Canonical/Ubuntu critic extrordinaire” Jef Spaleta — according to Jono Bacon’s blog, it’s Jono Bacon himself.

While tongue was planted firmly in cheek and while there was snickerable material in the blog — even the real Jef himself and Mrs. Jef responded to the blog — it makes light of the issue that Jef rightfully and, to his credit, consistently raises: For example, that of Canonical/Ubuntu’s contribution, or lack thereof, to kernel development and other aspects of FOSS where they reap the benefits without putting in the work.

I replied to Jono’s blog, paraphrasing the late Sen. Lloyd Bensten, who said this to then Vice President Dan Quayle in the debate in ’88: “I served with Jef Spaleta. I know Jef Spaleta. Jef Spaleta is a friend of mine. Jono, you’re no Jef Spaleta.”

One blog falters to the point of faceplanting: Sam Varghese writes on ITWorld — not linked here in principle — that the Linux kernel will be released under the BSD license. This would be a good one in theory, but in execution it tends to go off on a “wink-wink-nudge-nudge” tangent that makes it implausable from the start. Secret meetings in Tegucigalpa? Riiiiiiiiiiiight.

There are also trappings of mirth in some Facebook statuses: The Rude Pundit (warning: though politically appropriate in my opinion, foul language abounds), a liberal blogger who is on top of my list of non-tech reads, gets an honorary degree from Bob Jones University. Also, Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier throws up his hands and goes over to KDE — ha ha, funny guy, that GNOME media guru.

It’s still early in these parts, so maybe a Hail Mary pass will find its way to a receiver during the course of the day. Or not. Just bear in mind that it’s April 1, and that your shoe is really not untied. Or worse.

[Another update, pointed out by Juan Rodriguez below in the comments: Juan, aka Nushio, gets high marks for his "Fedora Cheat Ball." Link is in the comments -- go take a look.]

[FSF Associate Member] (Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation. He is also one of the founders of the Lindependence Project.)
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May the force be with you

January 6, 2011 2 comments

Registration is now open for SCALE 9X — register now by clicking on the winking penguin.

There are a lot of people around the planet who talk the Free/Open Source Software talk and walk the Free/Open Source Software walk. Fortunately for us here in the Silicon Valley — and those of us “over the hill” from the valley in the Santa Cruz Mountains — many of them live within driving distance of yours truly.

Mark Terranova is one of those FOSS activists in the San Francisco Bay Area who puts me to shame. Between Gidget Kitchen and the variety of distros he advocates, Mark is one of the people you want on your team if you want to get things done.

Mark wrote a blog item here equating some of the characters in “Star Wars” to some of the, ahem, “characters” in the FOSS galaxy.

Mark honored me with being the Yoda in this constellation. About halfway down the blog item, I’m teamed up with Quaid Gon-Jin, also known as Red Hat’s Community Gardener Karsten Wade. Mark’s mashup can be found here.

As long as I don’t have to talk in disjointed sentences — disjointed sentences I will not talk in, hmmm? — I’d gladly say that I am both grateful and humbled by Mark’s designation, and I hope I can live up to it. Thanks, MarkDude.

[Although one thing, Mark: I find it hard to believe that the mashup of Jono Bacon, as Han Jono, looks any different than Jono in his usual daily garb. But never mind.]

[FSF Associate Member] (Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
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