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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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It’s Friday, I’m in love

August 13, 2010 4 comments

Ah, love! The Cure’s song that carries today’s blog title bounces gently off the walls of the office while I think about the things I love about GNU/Linux (or Linux, if you’re so inclined).

Like . . .

  • A multiplicity of distros: Oh, 350-odd (and some not so odd) active Linux distributions in their wide range of uses, even though about 50 of them are relevant and regularly used by the GNU/Linux-using public. Some think that’s too many, but I would disagree: Distros are like ice cream, and you pick the flavor that suits your taste (not to mention your needs) and use it. I’d prefer to have hundreds to choose from rather than have a Baskin-Robbins limitation to 33 flavors. [Those who know me know I’m a Fedora guy, but the boxes at Redwood Digital also run Debian (especially on the Macs), Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, and a PII box with AntiX Mepis.] To appreciate the amount of choice we have, a visit to DistroWatch might be in order.
  • A variety of desktops: Who’s limited to what environment appears on our screens? We’re not. Thanks to the big daddies — GNOME and KDE (the former which I use most often and the latter which I’m growing to like more over time) — and to those desktop environments which leave the processor’s horsepower to more important digital matters — take a bow Xfce and LXDE — we have a wide range of options. Of course, if four isn’t enough, throw in IceWM and Flux and . . . .
  • The busy Beavers at Oregon State: The crew at Oregon State University deserve special mention. Chances are when you download a FOSS program or a distro, it comes to you directly from beautiful downtown Corvallis, Ore., home of the Oregon State University Open Source Lab (well, OK, perhaps OSU isn’t downtown per se, but you get the point). Kudos to OSL operations boss Jeff Sheltren and infrastructure architect Lance Albertson, as well as the rest of the OSL’s staff, for keeping the FOSS programs available. In addition, the OSL’s efforts hardly pale in comparison with the dedication and commitment to FOSS in OSU’s Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department, which is responsible for the Oregon State Wireless Activity Learning Device (or OSWALD). A tip of the hat — a Fedora, of course — to EECS faculty professors Tim Budd and Carlos Jensen for the OSWALD, and great work, all.
  • Showtime: The various Linux/FOSS shows and expos throughout the year are great to attend — the ones I can make, like the Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) and OSCON are the ones around which I plan family vacations. Throw in other shows into the mix like the Utah Open Source Conference in October and the other standards like Southeast Linux Fest, the OLFs (Ohio and Ontario Linux Fests), Calgary Open Source Systems Festival (COSSFEST), while tossing in new shows like Texas Linux Fest, and the calendar is full of opportunities to promote FOSS and learn a thing or two if you aren’t careful.
  • My peeps: You all know who you are, and don’t think for a minute I’m going to try to name all of you because I’ll forget someone and then they’ll feel bad and I’ll hate myself for forgetting for years to follow. Thank you to those who make everything work across distro, desktop and program borders — you are truly the heroes of FOSS and have my undying respect, gratitude and love.

    [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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  • OSCON: The epilogue

    July 25, 2010 2 comments

    OK, so I lied. I had planned to write this yesterday, but after an all night drive which consisted of drinking about two gallons of coffee, sleeping that off (ironically) on Saturday morning and then going to work, time became unavailable until now.

    At first glance, OSCON was a huge success on several levels. First, it appears that as much as I’d prefer to have the event in San Jose for my own personal and selfish reasons, OSCON is at home in Portland. It’s a tough concession for me to make, but it’s true. Also, I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I’d be willing to bet that attendance is up — from the traffic on the floor and the amount of swag that flew out of the Fedora booth, I’d say it is way up.

    People I forgot to mention: The first familiar friendly face I saw once the doors opened on Wednesday was that of Akkana Peck, GIMP guru without peer and my “neighbor” from over the hill in the Silicon Valley. Amber Graner, with whom a Linux expo would not be a Linux expo, was also on hand, with cameraman in tow for podcasts. My good friend and Gidget Kitchen chef Mark Terranova was also splitting time at OSCON between the Ubuntu booth and taking pictures on the expo hall floor, among other events at OSCON. There are more people I know I’m forgetting, but I promise to come back to you.

    The city that really knows how: The motto “the city that knows how” is normally attributed to San Francisco — and it’s a very accurate one — but the City by the Bay could learn a thing or two from Portland. A free downtown train for starters would be nice in San Francisco. Plus, people are generally very easygoing and polite in Portland, making it a great place to visit. Coupling my affinity for Corvallis with a growing affinity for Portland, the state of Oregon is rising on the charts as one of my favorite places.

    Honorable mention in the swag department: While giving out the best in swag awards, I failed to mention that Code for America handed out what I think are the greatest posters that have happened along in quite some time. These posters are historic American quotes from U.S. government “system architect” James Madison and “accessibility expert” Susan B. Anthony written in binary. Go take a look here — I’ll wait. I have the Madison and Anthony posters on the wall at the office in Felton. For printed matter, it definintely edges out the excellent Linux Journal calendar.

    Thanks again, O’Reilly, for hosting such a great show year after year, and we’ll see you again in 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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    The Wizard of OSCON – Day 1

    July 21, 2010 Leave a comment

    OSCON had been going on since Monday, however the exhibition hall opens for just two days — Wednesday and Thursday — of this week.

    So when the doors opened at 10 a.m., a significant number of people filed into the hall — which could stand to be a tad cooler (as I hope it will be tomorrow) — and it was showtime.

    The Fedora booth was adequately staffed — Karsten Wade, Robyn Bergeron and Kevin Higgins set up the booth the day before, and were in attendance Wednesday — as well as Tom “Spot” Calloway and John Poelstra. Mirano Cafiero, Malakai Wade and Saskia Wade filled out the staff for the day.

    Last year, OSCON was held in San Jose, however Portland is a great city and it’s fine that the moved it back up here despite the fact that it would have been a lot more convenient for me if it were just “over the hill,” as we say in Santa Cruz County. The weather is great here, and being downtown has the advantage of the free train service between the Courtyard Marriott and the venue at the Portland Convention Center, which all cities should have.

    It was great to see old friends and meet those I’ve spoken to over time but never met. Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier and I are now even: At SCALE 7X, I accidentally — I swear — made a mess at the OpenSUSE booth on his watch. Today, Zonker knocked over our tripod — an accident, I’m sure — settled the score. It was great to see Ilan Rabinovitch, my SCALE colleague; birthday girl and Linux Magazine associate publisher Rikki Kite; the Oregon State University gang — Jeff Sheltren of the OSU Open Source Lab, computer science professor Carlos Jensen and the OSU OSL’s Lance Albertson (Go Beavers!); David Kaplan, a mainstay in the Portland Linux scene (who lent his Linux expertise to a visitor at the booth — Thanks, Dave); and finally to meet Linux columnist par excellence Steven Vaughan-Nichols in person after corresponding with him for years.

    Traffic for a better part of the day was heavy — always a good sign regarding the health of FOSS in general. SWAG — Stuff We All Get, for those keeping acronym score at home — was flying out of the booth. We’ll have to see if we can get through tomorrow with what we have left.

    One thing about standing in the booth all day: While I live for working the booth and events like OSCON, more times than not, I end up walking like Fred Sanford at the end of the day. Call it a sign of age.

    More tomorrow.

    [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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    Categories: Fedora, OSCON Tags: , , ,

    Coffee, Newspaper, Linux and FOSS News

    July 13, 2010 1 comment

    As the sun makes its way over the Santa Cruz Mountains on a Tuesday morning — don’t forget the Farmers Market and the Organic Software table in Felton, folks! — the daily ritual of dragging myself into a new day begins.

    Coffee. A look at the news around the world. Then the important stuff: LXer.com for the news of all things Linux/FOSS.

    [Incidentally, our friends at Google need to look at something, and I’ll bring it to their attention later. Maybe I’ll drop a line to WordPress, too. It seems that no matter how I tag my blog, the only way I can get the Alerts to pick up Larry the Free Software Guy for the benefit of those searching for “Linux” is to put “Linux” in the title. Selfish, I know, but maybe you should get used to seeing Linux in the title of upcoming blogs.]

    Meanwhile, back at the blog: Here are a few things that caught my eye this morning:

    Antiquated? Phoronix publishes an article entitles “How an Old Pentium 4 System Runs with Ubuntu 10.04, 10.10″ and their description of “old” is, “This antiquated system has an Intel Pentium 4 2.8GHz CPU, 512MB of RAM, an 80GB IDE hard drive, and an ATI Radeon 9200PRO AGP graphics card.” Antiquated? Are you kidding me? That’s about as antiquated as a 2006 BMW. C’mon, Phoronix — either do better editing or give us something really antiquated, like a Pentium with Roman numerals.

    Ground-floor opportunity, unlimited potential: The VAR Guy writes about the health care track at OSCON next week in Portland. “The health care sector is set for a technology-driven transformation as the federal government pushes adoption of electronic health records and pursues national health information exchange. Hardly surprising, the Open Source Convention (OSCON) has a health care track that will focus on open EHR/EMR software and the government’s standards-based Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN) among other topics. What’s in it for VARs? Here are some clues.” And the clues follow. But as those who know me know how I can drone on about this, I think health care software is a huge opportunity for FOSS developers, not to mention making open source inroads in an industry that needs to be in the public domain in the first place, and it’s nice to hear it from someone else.

    Oh, and it’s not dead yet: While this wasn’t in the news today, I’ve finally gotten over the eye-rolling aspect of, yet again, SCO not fully grasping basic legal tenets in losing yet another case and now plan to appeal Judge Ted Stevens’ ruling upholding a jury verdict made after oral hearings that Novell had retained the copyright to Unix when it sold its Unix business to SCO. According to this brief item on H online, it’s not over yet and the partners at Boies Schiller & Flexner LLP have taken Stick A to beat Dead Horse B.

    Felton Farmers Market, 2-6:30 p.m., St. John’s Church parking lot, about 3/4 mile south of the traffic light on Highway 9 (all the directions you need in Felton). And don’t forget — Major League Baseball All-Star Game is tonight. Go National League.

    [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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