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On a quiet Sunday

October 20, 2013 10 comments

The weather is starting to cool off and the sky was an incredible blue today, so much so that I was taken away from today’s digital dealings — not the least of which was this blog and installing Salix OS on a Dell Insprion D610 (wicd, my mortal enemy, we meet again!) — so I did the install and I confess I went outside and enjoyed the day.

So that’s why you’re getting this blog on Sunday evening. Apologies to those expecting it earlier in the day.

Nevertheless, last week the Italian blog Magliettabianca published online the second of its two-part interview with Larry l’uomo Software Libero (the original English from which the interview is translated into Italian is here). Bear in mind that I’m not used to being on the other side of the questions, so when I was asked who true leaders of FOSS were, I booted what was a routine grounder.

The first thing I thought was, “Oh, crap — I’m going to forget someone,” and I did; a lot of folks.

In answering, after talking about Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman, I started with the people I could think of right off the top of my head that I’ve respected and admired: Jon “maddog” Hall, Aaron Seigo, Patrick Volkerding and Bill Kendrick, before shifting genders to include the women who make FOSS work: Dru Lavigne, Robyn Bergeron, Deb Nicholson, Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph and Selena Deckelmann. I knew there were others that I couldn’t think of and I said so in answering the question.

So I feel bad for leaving out a whole battalion of folks who could easily be considered FOSS leaders: Lance Albertson at the Oregon State University Open Source Lab; Usenix’s Julie Miller as well as her Usenix colleague Rikki Endsley, Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier, San Francisco State University’s (and OLPC advocate) Sameer Verma, Amber Graner at the Open Compute Project, Ken Starks of Reglue, Ilan Rabinovitch and Gareth Greenaway at SCALE . . . the list is almost endless.

More importantly — and I’m sorry I didn’t make this point in the interview — what makes FOSS work is everyone who chops wood and carries water, so to speak. Leadership is fine, but it’s getting the mundane things done that counts, so to all who do the work for whichever FOSS program you’re involved in, our gratitude is boundless.

I wish I had thought to say that during the interview. Next time . . .

One more thing: Mark Shuttleworth seems to have ruffled some feathers in KDE circles with his latest blog post, which of course won’t be linked here (but rest assured it is easily found). Shuttleworth, who has often displayed a tell-tale estrangement from reality, makes a couple of bizarre assertions, like saying that Canonical’s critics twist the English language (like he never does that . . . ) and likens Ubuntu/Canonical critics to the Open Source Tea Party — painfully ironic since the playbook of both the Tea Party in the United States and Canonical are strikingly similar.

Nevertheless, the beef revolves around Mir, of course, and rather than outline the hubbub, I’m going to give the keys to the blog now to KDE’s Martin Graesslin and his blog and let him drive. I have a rule that whenever someone says something far better than I can, I let them have the soapbox. And Martin speaks for me here.

Have a great week and see you next Sunday, if not sooner. Now to tackle this install and see if I can prevail over wicd.

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!

Halting the hiatus

June 23, 2013 1 comment

I got an e-mail from a friend and a long-time reader who observed the following:

“Hey FSG (assuming, I hope, that means Free Software Guy, though Flying Spaghetti Guy would also work for me) — You haven’t posted a blog item in over a month. Everything OK?”

Signed, “Sincerely, Mark Shuttleworth.”

OK, so I made up the last part: It wasn’t from The Mark, but someone apparently missed me enough to write.

I’ve mentioned this before: I don’t like to write just to fill space or to hear myself speak. In fact, I don’t like hearing myself speak, but that’s another subject for another time. So when I put pixels to screen, at least, I want to make sure I have something worth saying and, more importantly, something worth reading. Combine this with a life that varies in complexity from time to time (not a complaint), and I have to plead guilty to not being consistent in posting here.

Mea culpa, folks.

So to fix that, I’m setting up a schedule: Every Sunday, you’ll be seeing a Larry the Free Software Guy blog post, under the grand assumption that during the course of the week something will happen for me to comment upon by Sunday. Of course, if the lightning of inspiration strikes during the course of the week, I’ll write then as well. But count on Sundays starting next week.

Earlier today, I wrote this Larry the CrunchBang Guy post, which addresses distro-hopping — a good thing, in the grand scheme of the FOSS paradigm — and where to go to find information (hint: Go to forums, not social media). The only other thing worth mentioning over the last couple of weeks was Bruce Byfield’s reasoned observations in response to the uncharacteristically ludicrous article posted by the usually right-on-the-mark FOSSForce.com site earlier this month regarding what constitutes a community distro.

Oh, and one more thing: Fedora 19, Schrodinger’s Cat, is coming soon. Or it’s not.

See you next Sunday.

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!

Was it something I said?

October 18, 2012 21 comments

Leave it to Ubuntu/Canonical’s Self-Appointed Benevolent Dictator for Life Mark Shuttleworth to completely ruin a perfectly good release day for Ubuntu 12.10 and its arguably superior derivatives like Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu and Edubuntu.

Don’t take my word for it. I’ll let this article from TechCrunch with the headline “Canonical’s Mark Shuttleworth Tires Of Critics, Moves Key Ubuntu Developments Out Of Public Eye” tell the tale.

Was it something I said?

Of course, there’s something both fundamentally and tragically wrong — bordering on criminally wrong — about any Free/Open Source Software project moving their “developments out of the public eye.” But let’s put that aside for a moment, because Shuttleworth writes in his blog that ” . . . we thought we would extend the invitation to people who trust us and in whom we have reason to trust, to work together on some sexy 13.04 surprises.”

So, not only is Shuttleworth throwing out the FOSS baby with the bath water, he also wants to provide a caste system that either patterns itself after the Inner Party/Outer Party in George Orwell’s “1984,” or takes a page from Orwell’s “Animal Farm” where, to paraphrase, “All developers are equal, but some are more equal than others.”

If you’re an Ubuntu contributor, how can you be sure you’ll be one of “the chosen ones,” and if you’re not, then why not?

To take a step back, the more fundamental question is this: Is this really how a Free/Open Source Software project should conduct itself?

I would say the answer to this question is an unequivocal “no,” and I would also add that, at this point, the direction that Mark Shuttleworth has taken Ubuntu is light-years off course from its original mission.

This goes beyond burying “Linux” on a second- or third-tier page on the Ubuntu site. This clearly goes beyond Shuttleworth’s treating current Ubuntu users as second class citizens while he chases the elusive Holy Grail of converting “the new users.”

This is betrayal.

So while the Ubuntu Apocalypse lines up to march, zombie-like, to take their shots below in the comments, I’d like to ask them to first look in a mirror and ask themselves if this is truly what they bought into when getting involved with FOSS. And while admiring what you see in the mirror, I’d like to offer a solution to right this ship that’s listing under the weight of gross misdirection.

To right this ship, the principled and noble thing to do would be for Mark Shuttleworth to turn over the keys to Ubuntu to Jono Bacon, the Community Manager for Ubuntu, and make Jono the Ubuntu Project Leader. Mark should resign from all Ubuntu community-related posts and concentrate on the corporate side of things, where he excels.

I don’t always agree with Jono, but his commitment to FOSS is nothing short of impeccable, and his commitment to these principles is completely unimpeachable. He has the wisdom and experience to bring Ubuntu back to where it should be.

Though this wouldn’t happen in either Mark’s, Jono’s or my lifetime, it would be a step that would go a long way in restoring my faith in Ubuntu’s commitment to FOSS.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to install Xubuntu 12.10 and put it through its paces.

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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