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Thanks, Mike

September 16, 2008 1 comment

Mike Cassidy, the Silicon Valley Dispatches columnist at the San Jose Mercury News, did me, the Linux community and everyone who uses Free/Open Source Software a great favor today by writing his column about Lindependence and what we’ve done, so far, in Felton.

The column is here. Go ahead and take a look. I’ll wait.

[And if for some reason that link doesn’t work, just go to SiliconValley.com and click on the link with my picture next to it.]

I want to thank Mike for a.) having an artesian depth of patience with both Bob Lewis and me while we shoveled metric tons of history and general GNU/Linux information his way in the few hours that Mike stayed here (no, we didn’t keep him hostage), and b.) writing a column that I think captured the essence of Lindependence in Felton.

Karen Borchers also took great photos of me in the so-called “underground bunker.” My only regret is that she didn’t have her “slim-down-by-50-pounds” lens with her to make me look more like, oh I don’t know, Michael Phelps.

So, thanks Mike and Karen.

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

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Random thoughts to live by

September 4, 2008 Leave a comment

While writing and doing other things that come with everyday life, I came across (or actually had a hand in) the following things:

Lindependence heads north to Portland: I’ve outlined this more in the Lindependence 2008 Diary blog, but it bears repeating. Lindependence takes a trip to Portland become a different kind of Trail Blazer; that is, bringing GNU/Linux and Free/Open Source Software to northern Oregon. David Kaplan, the organizer up there for Lindependence Portland has a Web page here for the event itself, and if you’re in the area, by all means stop by. I’ll be talking more about this as time goes on, without fail.

Happy birthday to GNU: GNU leaves the 18-24 demographic behind and joins the adult world in turning 25 years old on Sept. 27. It was on that day in 1983 that Richard Stallman (who I had the honor of chauffeuring around Northern California in February) announced that he intended to create a Unix-like system that would be completely open and hackable, giving anyone the right to modify and distribute it. British comedian Stephen Fry — known to some as the comedian Dietrich in the movie “V for Vendetta” (although his oevure is far more extensive) — has made this video outlining the history of GNU and its place in the digital realm with aplomb.

Chrome dome: For the past seven hours, I’ve been using Google’s Chrome on the Wintel box at my desk at the Santa Cruz Sentinel (which I mention so this blog pops up on the Google search by my boss, Marc DesJardins — Hey, Marc!), and I have to say that it has done everything I’ve asked it too so far, except run the Stephen Fry video. What I did get was the message saying that there was an error and that the browser had to shut down. Uh oh. So long blog entry. But what happened was that Chrome actually just jettisoned the offending tab, leaving the other four intact. Very cool, Google. Here’s hoping that the Linux version of Chrome is better than the Linux version of Picasa.

Film, as they say, at 11.

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

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Lost in translation

August 11, 2008 Leave a comment

[Note: This item also appears in the Lindependence 2008: Felton Diary blog.]

I got into journalism for a reason: My math skills are not exactly stellar.

In my last blog item — and picked up in a blog item written by Katherine Noyes of Linux Insider — I said that in October, 100 towns in Italy were going to do a Lindependence-type project. Actually, according to the Linux Day 2008 site (reading Italian helps here, but not necessary), I was off by . . . um . . . 79 towns. They’re actually up to 21, so far.

In my defense, the 100 number came from a conversation with a Fedora ambassador from Europe, and possibly something was lost in translation. Naturally, I should have checked it out before going public with it, but I found the fellow from whom I got this information trustworthy. But still, the fault is mine for misleading you all, and I apologize.

Regardless: even though it’s not in triple digits, 21 is still a pretty good number of towns in Italy taking the plunge, and we’re behind them.

Meanwhile, back in Felton, Felton LUG is starting to get going, establishing the first Saturday of the month as the regular meeting date and finding a regular meeting place (the fire station). The seeds that have been sown here are being cultivated and we expect them to bear fruit. If you’re in Felton and are interested in attending/participating/contributing, drop me an e-mail at lcafiero-at-fixedbylinux-dot-com.

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

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When it’s cloudy in Felton

May 8, 2008 1 comment

I could blame global warming, but I wouldn’t have the scientific facts to back it up. But the weather has taken a turn for the strange here in Felton, where the sweaters that have been packed away for the summer have to be pulled out for extra duty and the fog that rolls in off the Monterey Bay that makes it past Santa Cruz parks bewteen us grounddwellers and the sun.

Long before the air raid siren goes off — like clockwork in Felton, at noon the air raid siren atop the solar-powered fire station wails, signifying that we’re either under attack or it’s high noon; so far, thankfully, it’s only been the latter — the overcast morning lends itself to another cup of coffee and staying in the office. And catching up on this blog.

This would probably be a good time to bring everyone up to date on what’s going on with Lindependence 2008. When I last talked about the project and Felton, I was somewhat surprised and disappointed at the lack of response to this project. My initial thought was that distros and FOSS programs would jump at the chance to have a month to promote their wares and provide a town with the opportunity to use the fruits of their labor for at least a week, possibly more.

I’ll have that plate of crow now: My disappointment was somewhat premature, since people are now stepping up, contacting me and wanting to know more about the project and offering help. Someday a study should be done to test the premise that no matter how fast the Internet might be, human contact still is the key to getting things done. Case in point: Talking to people at the MySQL conference last month and JavaOne attendees yesterday has been a lot more productive than a flurry of e-mails and several calls.

I am in the process of gathering up questionnaires that I had given to businesses in the community. The most encouraging sign is this: Question 7 — which asks if, given the choice, business owners would try and use Free/Open Source Software alternatives to purchased or pre-installed software — comes up as unanimously “yes” so far.

We are moving forward. In fact, it occurs to me that perhaps I should have a separate blog for Felton developments, so watch this space.

52 and overcast, and maybe it’s time for a redwoods break.

[As a postscript, I have to say that my blog a few weeks ago on Microsoft’s 10-K report to the SEC garnered my first four-digit amount of hits on this blog. So if I were concerned about that sort of thing, I’d mention Microsoft — Microsoft, Microsoft, Microsoft — and watch the numbers roll in. But that would be cheating, so never mind. If I was really that concerned about getting numbers up, I’d change the title of this blog to I CAN HAS FREEZOFTWARE and put cat pictures on it.]

[FSF Associate Member](Larry Cafiero runs HeliOS Solutions West in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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Twin brothers of separate mothers

April 30, 2008 8 comments

One of us is a battle tested, recently retired career Army man who is a veteran of Operation Desert Storm. The other is a former peace and social justice activist with portfolio who rose through the Green Party’s California ranks before taking up FOSS evangelism with a vengance.

One of us lives in Texas, where the stars at night are big and bright (clap four times here), while the other lives on the Central California coast, where — and it’s a law, I think — every sentence must end with the word ” . . . dude.”

One of us swears by KDE, the other prefers GNOME but really has an affinity for Xfce. One of us calls the operating system “Linux” out of laziness. The other makes a point of referring to it as “GNU/Linux” because the “GNU should get its due.”

Ken Starks and I have our differences. I would be willing to bet he doesn’t think Texas cheated in the Rose Bowl when they beat USC for the national championship a year ago (they did), nor do I think he would agree with me that the former Texas governor cheated in the 2000 election to win the presidency (he did ). Ken grew up a Cubs fan — anyone who knows me knows how much I detest the Cubs (’89 NLCS, anyone?) — but he now follows the Houston Astros, while I live and die, mostly die, with the San Francisco Giants.

Yet it’s safe to say that Ken and I are united in one thing: Promoting Linux (as he’d say) in the home desktop/laptop and small business environment; that, and making sure everyone knows they have FOSS options to their proprietary computing experience.

My introduction to Ken — I haven’t actually met him in person yet — came after what I thought was a slight in a Blog of Helios of one of my heroes, Abbie Hoffman. Yes, for those of you keeping score at home, Ken is the ever-outspoken helios. He and I started exchanging e-mails afterward, discussing — among other things — how to get GNU/Linux (thank you) in front of everyday people who would benefit from being out from under the thumb of Microsoft’s monopoly.

A result of these discussions is our partnership in HeliOS Solutions, where I do what he does in Texas on the West Coast, down to initiating a Komputers4Kids program in Felton. Another result is the project called Lindependence 2008, which we had discussed ad nauseum starting late last summer and had refined through the fliter of The Tux Project in the meantime.

So if you were to tell me a few years ago that I’d be teaming up with a Army vet on a project to save the digital realm for FOSS, I would have laughed myself into a new pair of underwear. If you were to tell Ken that he’d be teaming up with a tree-hugging, pony-tailed hippie, he’d probably have the same reaction.

Yet here we are, and that’s where we should be: United for the operating system, whatever we choose to call it, and united for the promotion of FOSS programs that work as well, and in some cases better, than proprietary software it should replace.

If our partnership is a testament to anything, it shows that promoting GNU/Linux and FOSS transcends background, upbringing and politics. In fact, it even transcends sports in general and, as much as I hate to admit it, baseball in particular.

(And, Ken, Texas did too cheat in the Rose Bowl . . . )

[FSF Associate Member](Larry Cafiero runs HeliOS Solutions West in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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More miscellaneous ramblings

April 26, 2008 Leave a comment

[Has it really been almost a month since I last posted? Probably. But with the Lindependence 2008 project hopping, maybe that’s not so surprising. My apologies for the long hiatus to those outside my family who read this blog.]

The Heron has landed: Ubuntu let fly with its semiannual release — Hardy Heron, which really goes by the name Ubuntu 8.04 (and Kubuntu 8.04 and Xubuntu 8.04, for those of you keeping score at home) — and it certainly has a lot to offer. Having a chance to tinker with the beta in preparation for the Cabrillo College installfest yesterday, I seem to join a legion of those who use Ubuntu who are deeply impressed with this release. In fact, some are so impressed — like the writer of this eWeek article who seems to think that the *buntus are ready for prime time. Let’s hope he’s right.

[Also, hats off to the Xubuntu developers who completely kicked bug butt in getting 8.04 out the door. How do I know this? For some reason, I’m on the developer’s mailing list and the bug reports — and their solutions — were fast and furious over the last few weeks. Way to go, Cody and others on the Xubuntu team.]

MySQL, YourSQL, OurSQL: The MySQL conference in Santa Clara two weeks ago was yet another learning experience wrapped in a swagfest. If I keep going to these, I may never go naked again, with a total of 12 T-shirts (one a small YouTube shirt for Mirano, of course) garnered during the course of the show. I worked the dbEntrance booth with Tod Landis and Shane Duan, two ex-Borland guys who have written a browser for MySQL that’s definitely worth a try. Not to toot my own horn or anything, I did get dbEntrance up and running on a Hardy Heron beta with Shane’s help and they work like they were made for each other.

[dbEntrance was fortunate enough to be across from the Red Hat booth, which had a monitor looping a video called “Truth Happens” which was absolutely great. Watch it here. Go ahead, I’ll wait.]

Follow the money: Scott Ruecker wrote an editorial on LXer.com rightfully questioning the validity of a report from The Standish Group International that says the “disruptive technology” of open source has cost the IT industry $60 billion over the last five years.  So Scott asks $60 billion question: How did it cost the IT industry $60 billion dollars? Where did the money go and to whom?

[Scott does acknowledge that those are more than one question and apologizes for it in the editorial, though I don’t feel an apology is necessary; at least not from Scott.]

More on Lindependence 2008 upcoming, which is starting to come together better than I had expected. Watch this space.

[FSF Associate Member](Larry Cafiero is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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Felton Diary: Chopping wood, carrying water

March 26, 2008 3 comments

March 25-26, 2008 — Felton, California

During my Zen training in the early to mid-1990s at the San Francisco Zen Center, there was an expression that still revolves around these Buddhist circles that one has to take the responsibility of chopping wood and carrying water. The meaning here — in case you ever find yourself facing a wall in meditation or, gasp, facing a Zen roshi, or master — is that life is filled with mundane tasks that need to be done.

Lindependence 2008 lately is filled with chopping wood and carrying water, although sometimes the work seems like chopping water and carrying wood. But I digress . . . .

In the last diary installment, I mentioned that I was a little taken aback by the response — or lack thereof, mostly — of distros and FOSS programs to come running to participate in this project. To me, this project is a natural — bringing their distros and programs to a community and having both the community, and their software, flourish.

However, I discounted the human factor where human contact plays a significant role. So out with solely using the ether of the Internet, and in with making my contact with potential participants a little more personal.

Discussions with OpenOffice.org and PCLinuxOS point to probable support going forward, and that’s heartening. So, in sending out a second wave of e-mails, I may start to make calls as well asking for support — just to remind you that there is a human behind the words that grace the screen in front of you.

Incidentally, if you haven’t heard from me and want to participate in Lindependence 2008 — or if you want your favorite distro or FOSS program to participate — e-mail me immediately at lcafiero-at-fixedbylinux-dot-com and I’ll get the process started.

There’s only a little over three months left, which may seem like a lot of time, but looking at the amount of work ahead of the team, it’s not a lot. The earlier people get on board, the faster the bandwagon goes.

Clear and cool, as late March tends to be, a mile down the road from the Bigfoot Museum in the HeliOS Solutions West office in Felton.

[FSF Associate Member](Larry Cafiero, editor/publisher of Open Source and Free Software Reporter, is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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