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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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O’Reilly, you missed two

July 22, 2012 1 comment

I don’t want to take anything away from the winners of the O’Reilly Open Source Awards for 2012, given out at the big corporate FOSS Kumbaya in Portland known as OSCON this past week. All are very deserving of O’Reilly’s accolades — especially Elizabeth Krumbach, whose work I see on an almost regular basis — and I won’t go into listing the winners or their accomplishments here because O’Reilly has seen to that already.

But there are two — at least two — that were nominated and that O’Reilly missed. The misfortune that these two have been omitted arguably borders on tragic, too, because each of the following folks mentioned below have made significant contributions to FOSS in ways that equal, if not eclipse, those made by some of the this year’s recipients.

Here are two you missed, O’Reilly. Maybe next year you can rectify this.

The first O’Reilly oversight is Bill Kendrick. If you have children, you have probably happened upon Bill’s software opus Tux Paint somewhere along the line. If you don’t, then you may have seen it anyway. In its 10th year, Tux Paint is an award-winning art program for K-6 kids that not only teaches art, but also computer literacy. A long list of schools use it. It’s been open source ever since its inception, and is made for a variety of platforms — the usual suspects of Linux, Mac and Windows. Tux Paint alone should garner Bill the award, with an oak-leaf cluster, but he is even more deserving of the award for developing other educational software like TuxTyping — helping kids learn to type — not to mention Tux, of Math Command — which “lets kids hone their arithmetic skills while they defend penguins from incoming comets,” according to the website. Or, in other words, think of the ’80s arcade game Missile Command, only with math problems instead of incoming nuclear missiles.

[Blogger’s note: Bill Kendrick straightens out the personnel lineup for the aforementioned projects here, and a full list of authors and contributors can be found here and here.]

The second oversight is Ken Starks. As those of you who regularly read this blog know, Ken and I go back a ways, back to the days when Ken successfully — miraculously — raised enough money to get Tux on the nose of an Indy car at the Indianapolis 500 back in 2007. The car crashed early in the race — irony of ironies for Linux — and finished last. As long as I’ve known him, Ken has been the most tireless advocate for Linux and FOSS for years. With the HeliOS Project — now REGLUE, an acronym for Recycled Electronics and Gnu/Linux Used for Education — Ken and his merry band of fossketeers get refurbished Linux-based computers into the hands of underprivileged kids in the Austin, Texas, area. Ken was also one of the co-founders of the Lindependence Project, which brought Linux to a small town back in 2008. Currently, Ken’s battle with larynx cancer is limiting his activity, but he is still doing what he can with the hand he’s dealt.

So, how about it, Tim?

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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Odds and sods

June 11, 2011 1 comment

Linux for the GNU South — it’s going on right now (if you’re reading this the day the blog appears).

Yep, that title — also the name of an album by the Who — is what the British (and, I would imagine, our Canadian neighbors) call bits and pieces; which is what we’re going to talk about today since this week was full of news and I have been staring at my living room thinking, “How the &@%*! am I going to move all this stuff?”

A difference of opinion, or . . . ? Ken Hess writes on ZDNet an item about businesses going (or maybe not going) completely virutal here, but wait — maybe you should keep one or two just in case the cloud dissipates. Contrast this laugher to Caitlyn Martin’s response here, where she calls this “the most ridiculous article I’ve read in a very long time.” Me? I side with Caitlyn — clearly. This is not the first head-scratcher Hess has produced, nor will it probably be the last. A corollary to this is Andy Updegrove’s ominous look at a “cloud-free” future forced upon us here.

Dead horse, meet foot: I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the OpenOffice.org transfer by Oracle to Apache. I’d like to think something good will come of this, but I think that since joining the two projects seems to be all but impossible (for a couple of good reasons, but some not so good), we can thank the suits at Oracle for screwing up an outstanding FOSS project. Meanwhile, for all those who have an interest in keeping what OO.o started going in the right direction, get right over to the Document Foundation and pitch in.

Name, rank, and serial . . . OK, just your name will do: First, thanks for all those who liked the list blog that ran this week. I need to point out a matter of personal policy on this blog: I don’t post responses that are anonymous or come from someone named/called/nicknamed “anonymous” or any variety thereof (i.e., “anon”). I bring this up because I have got responses from people who wouldn’t name themselves — two excellent responses that I would like to post — and I’ve written each of them to ask them to identify themselves so I can post their comments. Initials would work.

Well, I should stop stalling and start packing up.

[FSF Associate Member] (Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)
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Looking back, looking ahead

December 29, 2010 3 comments

Now that I have finally disengaged myself from the what is commercially and socially — and for some, spiritually (and God bless you, every one) — known as “the holiday season,” I have been giving a lot of thought to how good a year 2010 was, the Sun purchase by Oracle and the Novell deal notwithstanding, and what 2011 has to offer.

It looks like 2011 will be the year of the Linux deskt . . . I’m sorry, what? Oh. Well, never mind. Let’s skip that one

Looking back at 2010, most recently we had both Russia and Cuba going to FOSS, which must prove Steve Ballmer right about Linux being Communist. After all, I think a young Linus Torvalds was able to see Russia from his house a lot better than Sarah Palin could from Wasilla. Meanwhile, Red Hat — oh, what’s in a name anyway, comrade? — became poised to be the first billion-dollar Linux company and stats show that they are gaining market share in the corporate server world. Go, Shadowman! And there’s that little green space cadet Android making gains in the various markets where it now works. So despite an Apple/Microsoft shell company buying Novell and the other — and more evil — Larry essentially killing open source at what was once the Camelot-esque Sun, 2010 was a good year.

Of course, 2010 would not be complete without the introduction of Chux, the Linux distro developed by Chuck Norris — A Linux designed by Chuck Norris would require no backups, as it would be too scared of Chuck to fail, and the CPUs run faster to get away from Chuck Norris. You don’t boot it, it boots you. Go here to take a look here.

What would I like to see in 2011? Glad you asked. What would be nice would be:

Digital pundits not saying that 2011 is the year of the Linux desktop, because it’s won’t be. And that’s OK. Believe me, until this year when the San Francisco Giants won the World Series, I know the “wait-’til-next-year” drill very well. The year of the Linux desktop will come someday — as it should — but with all the advances Linux is making in server and smaller formats — yes, I’m looking at you, Android — we don’t have to put all our eggs in that basket to determine Linux a success. We don’t have to thump our proverbial chests and say “this year . . . the desktop,” and then when the end of the year rolls around and it isn’t, there’s not a whole lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth. To say nothing of garment-rending . . . . The fact of the matter is that Linux and FOSS are as healthy as they have ever been, Novell and Sun sale notwithstanding.


Go to the show: Linux shows and expos are popping up all over, so you really have no excuse in 2011 not to go to one. The established ones, like the Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE 9X this year) and OSCON, are now being joined by a whole host of other events throughout North America. Most recently, Indiana gets its own Linux festival in March, aptly titled the Indiana Linux Fest. It joins, in order of appearance (off the top of my head — and forgive me if I forget your expo), SCALE, Linux Fest Northwest, COSSFest in Calgary, Texas Linux Fest, Southeast Linux Fest (in the GNU South), OSCON, Ohio Linux Fest, and Utah Open Source Conference. You’ll find me at SCALE, Linux Fest Northwest, COSSFest (hopefully — if they let me out of the country), OSCON and Utah Open Source Conference on an annual basis.

Oh, and one more thing: Lindependence 2011 will be held in early July, around Independence Day, in Felton, California — where Lindependence started a couple of years ago.

Last, but certainly not least:

Large distros carrying their weight in the FOSS realm: First it was the GNOME study by David Neary that had Red Hat, Novell and others carrying the developmental mail for GNOME — Red Hat and Novell with 10-plus percent each — while Canonical came in at, wait for it, 1.03 percent. Fine. That’s been hashed out already both on these pages and elsewhere. But the Linux Foundation released its annual report on Linux kernel development late in the year — go ahead and get the PDF file here — and while you’re at it, you might want to do a search for Canonical to see how often it shows up. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t. And I’m just going to leave it at that, hoping that Canonical and/or Ubuntu shows up on next year’s report.

Let’s all have a great 2011.

[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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The Wizard of OSCON – Day 2

July 23, 2010 3 comments

First things first: There is a Wizard of OSCON. I’ll reveal that person’s identity — without having to go behind the curtain — at the end of the blog (and no fair going straight to the bottom).

The second day followed the same playbook from most large shows. Following a tsunami of people on day one of the exhibition, the second day of the exhibition is more tempered and there are less people. But there’s an up side to the latter, specifically that we’re able to talk at length about matters Fedora.

Being chained to the booth — and I say that as if it’s a bad thing, but it’s not — I was unable to go to any of the sessions. Not a problem there, since talking to people in the booth is a lot more enjoyable. So dealing with questions about Fedora, introducing the distro and talking to people about FOSS suits me better.

The people come in waves, thanks to the sessions, no doubt. The folks who visited the booth for the past two days, as they do at all large shows, come in a wide range of experience levels. Fielding questions from “What is Fedora?” to the most detailed questions about the kernel — passed off to someone more experienced, of course — the range of questions and the ever-increasing number of people reflect that FOSS is gaining a healthy glow in the grand scheme of things.

Best SWAG: Overall, the SWAG at the event has been good. Three items stand out and I’ll rank them from third to first. Finishing third would be the Firehost playing cards, and you might ask why the Firehost toilet paper wouldn’t rank until you actually used it (nice idea, bad execution, Firehost).

Finishing second, and most would consider this the winner, would be the tattoo sleeves from Rackspace. You put this sleeve on your arm and, assuming you’re skin tone is a range of pink to white, you have an arm covered with Rackspace tattoos.

The best swag of the event goes to Chisimba, a South African outlet at the show. Since South Africa just hosted the World Cup, they brought Chisimba.com vuvuzelas. Orange vuvuzelas.

And now we’re off to meet the wizard: The one person who always makes OSCON work for us — the one who pulls administrative rabbits out of hats and who is a textbook go-to person — would be O’Reilly’s May Munji. Thanks, May, for making the shows a great experience for those of us toiling in the booth trenches.

Tomorrow: The OSCON epilogues.

[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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WWJR: What would Jesus run?

March 28, 2008 6 comments

You would think that during the 13 years of Catholic school I proudly survived (one, interestingly, in which Bill O’Reilly was my 10th grade American History teacher at Monsignor Edward Pace High School in suburban Miami), I would have remembered the part about Christianity and capitalism being one and the same thing.

Yet, over the last couple of days, I’ve had interactions — I wouldn’t necessarily call them “conversations” — with a Christian blogger who posted comments on my last two blogs, and who seems to think that those of us who are advocating FOSS are a bunch of pot-smoking, porn-surfing “librals”(his word, not mine) who are part of a communist plot to overrun the U.S. Not only this, it appears his beliefs run along the lines that Christianity and capitalism are synonymous, inseparably joined at the hip.

[As an aside, there is a great song by Todd Snider, “Conservative Christian Right-Wing Republican Straight White American Males” and the YouTube watch is well worth it.]

Nevertheless, the false theory that capitalism and Christianity are one and the same — the CEO Jesus Version 1.0 that this blogger seems to deify — started me thinking about a couple of things, namely:

  • He’s wrong about Jesus being a hardline capitalist, and I’ll just point to Matthew 21:12 for starters (other examples abound in the Bible), where ” . . . Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves . . . .” Of course, that would give Jesus something in common with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in the furniture tossing department, but I digress; and
  • If Jesus were a computer user, he’d definitely use GNU/Linux and not BSD, for clearly symbolic reasons. But what distro would he run?

Someone already beat me to the second part of that thought, actually. In the blog openjesus.org, Jesus “wrote” last May the following item:

“In my office I have a few machines, none more important than my Ubuntu box called king. I recently upgraded it to Feisty Fawn, so like some of you I’m going through a bit of an adjustment with some little things. Beryl quit working right, for instance. I could throw a miracle at it or fire up the old omniscience to just know how to fix it, but sometimes even Jesus likes to work things out. I’m a pretty good troubleshooter in my own right, I’ll have you know, and as a recent convert from Gentoo I sort of need something to be broken a little bit to really feel like my Linux desktop is dialed in. I’m sure some of you understand.”

As I wait for the laughter to die down, I have to say that this site could very well be the best satirical site ever (and the line about Gentoo — very true!). No, I’m not just saying that to curry favor with the author.

But it may answer the question what Jesus would run on his desktop. I would have voted for Ubuntu Christian Edition, but never mind. Now His laptop . . . I would be willing to bet Debian is somewhere in the mix, whether it’s Etch or a distro in the Debian family.

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

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Breaking the chains of ’same as it ever was’

August 23, 2007 1 comment

My 9-year-old daughter Mirano, a Linux Chick in training, is pretty astute when it comes to matters relating to GNU/Linux. For example, she is working on a review of Tux Paint, and she’s the one that pointed out that Iceweasel is the opposite of Firefox (ice opposite of fire, weasel opposite of fox). I’m convinced she gets her brains from her mom — from me she gets an innate sense of irony augmented by generations of cutting sarcasm for which the Cafiero family is historically known, but I digress.

Anyway, I bring up Mirano because after reading Carla Schroeder’s blog about an mysogynistic ad — yeah, let’s call it what it is: mysogynistic (but see for yourself here – that ran in Linux Journal, I have to say that this is my first encounter with sexism in the FOSS realm; not to mention a disturbing one at that.

Apparently and unfortunately, however, this seems not to be a singular incident, but rather a business-as-usual attitude for both the publication, as well as — depending on who you ask — an acceptable “behavior” in male geekdom.

Case in point: Caitlyn Martin writes in a blog item that the August Linux Journal ad is not new behavior for the magazine. Martin’s blog is a good read, but more immediately it points out a Linux Journal column by “Gnull and Voyd” — a man and wife team where the “woman” writes the column but the “man” is the one with all the answers on Linux issues “because he’s the smart one.”

Another case in point: A blogger named Mackenzie (and perhaps, like Sting or Cher, she doesn’t have a last name, but I’d be willing to bet she does) posted a blog item that deals specifically about the fact that women who program are not at events for boys and men who program to hit on.

[An aside: Tux Magazine’s Mango Parfait, who is drawn like a Japanese manga comic book character, is also a bit much.]

I’m the last person to pull out the PC card (political correctness, not personal computer), but ads, columns and behavior like this insults women in general, insults women programmers/digital professionals directly and insults me indirectly as a male member of this widespread digital community.

The explanation in all cases, apparently, is “they do it because they’re nerds, and that’s okay” or “this is typical male geek behavior.” Unfortunately, that doesn’t cut it anymore; and — hey, you guys who think with the organ between your ears — you’re as embarrassed as I am by being painted by the same stroke of this brush used to deservingly illustrate our less-sensitive bretheren, no?

The point here is simple: Women and men — both in the realm of the digital field as well as outside in society as a whole — should be treated equally and with respect. How that is even an issue among intelligent people in this field continues to be a mystery.

But the Linux Journal ad: Fail. Some of the Linux Journal and Tux Magazine columns mentioned above: Fail. Guys who turn into Pavlov’s dog at the mere sight of a woman at any computer event (and the computer industry entities that foster this behavior): Fail.

My wife Kyoko and I left Japan, in large part, because we didn’t want to raise a daughter in a culture that, for all its advantages, still had a very low glass ceiling — to say nothing of second-class attitudes — for girls and women (to say nothing of societal norms in Japan that are still, to put it diplomatically, systematically and structurally stacked against women being treated as equals to men). While the U.S. isn’t perfect on a plethora of levels (and don’t get me started here . . . ), it does provide for more equal opportunities for women than a place like Japan.

And what about in the digital world? Well, as if that needs saying, I certainly am not going to stand by and let the same attitudes hold her back in the digital realm.

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

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