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A response to a FOSS skeptic

January 10, 2012 3 comments

Don Parris wrote a book a while back called “Penguin in the Pew.” The book is an outstanding guide for nonprofits — aimed at churches, but it can apply to any other nonprofit — in the way to use Free/Open Source Software, which Don like to call “libre,” but you know it’s the same thing.

SCALE 10XWhile the book is due for an update (I say, nudging Don . . .), I also have to confess that I’ve used the points the book makes to apply to the for-profit business advantages of using FOSS in a business environment. This is important to me in my work at Redwood Digital Research, where a great part of our business is to provide small businesses and home offices with FOSS solutions instead of the closed-source proprietary software they are, for the most part, forced to use.

But I digress. Don wrote a brilliant blog item this morning in crossing verbal swords with a FOSS skeptic. It starts out as follows:

“Someone I know well and admire greatly recently sent me a question about the premise of my book, ‘Penguin in the Pew.’ His question, I think, reflects the mindset of many who remain outside the realm of the libre software domain. It has taken me some time to get around to answering his question, but I thought I would expand on my response to him here on my blog.”

And that he does, in a very complete, civil and concise way. It’s definitely worth a read.

Meanwhile, I have two presentations (three if you count the UpSCALE talk I’m doing with my daughter Mimi), a tsunami of press releases and other media work to do for SCALE 10X before next weekend (not to mention studying for the LPI-1 exam), so posts are going to be a little sparse over the next two weeks; unless, of course, they’re about SCALE. That could be disappointing to some and a relief to others.

But, as always, watch this space.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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No predictions in 2012, except . . .

January 3, 2012 1 comment

Normally, I take the time at the end of the year to be a complete goof (and that differs from the rest of the year . . . how?) and write some predicitions for the following year, like I did for 2009 and for 2010. I didn’t make any predictions for 2011 at the end of 2010 — rather, I wrote what I thought I’d like to see in 2011, followed by a Moment of Zen. For 2012, I decided to forego this practice altogether, if for no other reason than I can’t seem to fit a “year of the Linux desktop” joke into the mix.

But there are a couple of things we might see in 2012, like . . .

SCALE 10XLinux Expo Numbers Will Be Up: Don’t let the early curveball fool you: The Southern California Linux Expo SCALE 10X, held in January this year (as in about three weeks from now) in Los Angeles, kicks off the roster of Linux/FOSS expos for 2012, which stands to be the “Year of the Linux Desktop Expo” (See? You knew I’d get the Linux desktop in there somewhere). I’d be willing to bet that it has been obscured on people’s radar because of recently concluded the holiday season, so mark your calendars — and get yourself over to the registration page to sign up if you haven’t done so already. Also, the $109/night deal for SCALE attendees at the Hilton still stands as well. Because a.) what better way would it be to kick off this year and b.) how could you resist a weekend in L.A. with nearly 2,000 of your best friends?

That’s followed by Linux Fest Northwest (I’ll be there), Texas Linux Fest, and a slew of others. Which reminds me . . . .

I’ll be at more shows. Yep, I think I’m going to be heading east of the Rockies this year and submitting papers and venturing off to other shows where I have not yet been. This would include many, if not all, of the Linux expos on the other side of the Continental Divide. That could be an announcement or a warning — you decide.

One more thing: I heard this from more than one person. It could be a rumor, speculation, wishful thinking, acid flashback or whatever form these kind of statements take. I have no proof, just a gut feeling that it’ll happen. I could be wrong, but if I’m not, it’ll change the face of FOSS a little. OK, maybe it will change the face of FOSS more than a little.

It is this: Dell buys Canonical sometime in 2012.

Remember where you read it first.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software at Redwood Digital Research, in the cozy confines of his home office.)

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That’s my name, don’t wear it out

December 30, 2011 6 comments

Katherine Noyes put together a brief piece for PC World today about Linux release names which, overall, she seems to consider “silly.” In the process, she omits a great bit of detail on the “what” and “why” aspect of distro communities and how they come up with these “silly” names.

Digitally speaking, from a purely anthropological standpoint it is far from silly, and actually it’s quite an interesting topic, though Noyes seems to race through it without giving much detail.

So let me help out here.

SCALE 10XDebian: Release names come from “Toy Story.” As humorous as it is simple, this naming convention is one of the best. An interesting corollary to this is the Debian-based CrunchBang naming convention mirrors the first letter of the current Debian release, but matches it with a character from “The Muppet Show.” So Debian “Squeeze” is translated in CrunchBang to “Statler. “Wheezy” begets “Waldorf.” Statler and Waldorf, of course, are the two old guys in the balcony in “The Muppet Show.”

Linux Mint: I particularly like the naming convention Clement Lefevbre has come up with for Linux Mint. It’s alphabetically a woman’s name ending in “a.” We’re at Julia now. I asked Clement once what he’d do when he got to “Zelda” (or whatever the “Z” name will be for Linux Mint when they get that far . . . and they will), and he said that it was simple: Start with a name beginning with “A” and end the name in “e.”

Ubuntu: We all know the drill here — SABDFL* Mark Shuttleworth comes up with an adjective and an animal with the same first letter and hands it down to a waiting community. Which is in complete contrast to . . .

Fedora: There is a formula here that the Fedora Project adheres to before all hell breaks loose and fistfights break out in the Fedora community while they vote on the release name. The formula is simple: “$CURRENT_RELEASE_NAME is a (whatever it is — i.e., city, body of water, person, thing) and so is $NEXT_RELEASE_NAME.” Looking at Fedora 15 “Lovelock” to the current Fedora 16 “Verne,” it goes like this: James Lovelock was a futurologist, and so was Jules Verne. Now how they got from Verne to Fedora 17’s “Beefy Miracle” is a mystery for the ages.

OpenSUSE: OpenSUSE’s naming convention . . . does OpenSUSE even have a naming convention for releases?

Got a distro that has a naming convention worthy of mentioning? Let me know.

*Self-appointed benevolent dictator for life, for those of you keeping score at home.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office.)

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Meanwhile, back at El Ranchito . . . .

December 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Whew. Now that that’s over . . . the second “that” being what’s nebulously called “the holiday” and all its trimmings, we can now get back to serious discussions on FOSS.

Or not.

SCALE 10XBut first things first: SCALE 10X. The Southern California Linux Expo SCALE 10X will be held less than a month from now — on Jan. 20-22 — at the beautiful Hilton Los Angeles Airport hotel. In its 10th year, this first-of-the-year show in North America is shaping up to be one for the ages, and since it’s a month earlier this year — taking advantage of the Martin Luther King holiday weekend — I have the sneaking suspicion that it’s being obscured on people’s radar because of the holiday season and, heck, SCALE is not for another couple of months anyway, right? Well, not this year. Again, it’s January 20-22 — mark your calendars — and get yourself over to the registration page to sign up. Also, the $109/night deal for SCALE attendees at the Hilton still stands as well.

Now, how could you resist a weekend in L.A. with nearly 2,000 of your best friends?

Meanwhile, if you — for whatever misguided reason — have your domain registered on GoDaddy, today is the day to move it from the SOPA-supporting, arguably sexist domain registrant to another one that is more along the lines of your policies (unless, of course, you support SOPA and juvenile ads. Which of course begs the question: What are you doing reading this blog?). Here’s a story about it from ReadWriteWeb outlining that Namecheap will donate a dollar for every transfer to the Elecronic Frontier Foundation. Go to it, folks.

Also, the rumors are true: I’m now using CrunchBang GNU/Linux as my primary distro and I’m getting more involved with that community as well. While I might be saying, “So long, and thanks for all the fish” to Fedora, my experience with the Fedora Project has been overall both pleasant and an education, and I like to think that all the connections and friendships made during that time weather this transition. I bring that up because people are saying “goodbye” when they really don’t have to — I’ll be around in a FOSS sense and, regardless of what distro you might use, bear in mind we’re still essentially working for the same goal, albeit taking different paths.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office.)

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Five for Friday

December 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Whew. Wrapping up the week after a 24-hour power outage in the wake of 70 mph gusts here in the Santa Cruz Mountains on Wednesday and Thursday, we have the following tidbits:

Speaking at SCALE: The SCALE team has been busy putting together the Southern California Linux Expo — that’s SCALE 10X for those of you keeping score at home (and, as Giants play-by-play guy Duane Kuiper once added, “but why would you?”) — and they’ve finalized the speakers for the sessions in the three-day first-of-the-year Linux expo in North America. It’s a good lineup — yours truly had a talk accepted, and I know for sure that my neighbors over the hill Alison Chaiken and Akkana Peck are also in the lineup — and when the list has been finalized, we’ll announce it here as well. Of course, yours truly and darling daughter have planned another upSCALE talk which should not be missed at SCALE 10X. Registration is open — don’t wait: Click here to register. I’ll wait.

SSHHHHHHHH: Carla Schroder wrote an excellent piece on tips and tricks for OpenSSH. For the uninitiated, OpenSSH is a powerful tool that lets you run applications remotely and allows you share files without having to set up a file server. If this interests you –and even if it doesn’t — it’s worth a look.

And they all came out and said “try me”: The last few weeks have seen a tsunami of releases. November saw a flurry that included Fedora 16, the rolling release of OpenSUSE 12.1 (which, of course, begs the question: What happened to plain ol’ 12?), Linux Mint 12 Lisa and CrunchBang’s Statler. I’ve written about the latter and I’m more enamored each day with it, and I’ll get around to the others next week. Cross my heart and scout’s honor. Meanwhile, if you wanted to visit them and get a copy for your own personal test drive, no one would be happier than me.

You animal: Rikki Endsley wrote this outstanding piece on Network World entitled “Everything I Needed to Know about Linux I Learned from My Pets.” The first line: “My relationship with my motley crew of cats and dogs is similar to my relationship with Linux. In both cases, I’ve learned that patience pays off, and life is better with than without them.” Indeed.

Thinking globally, acting locally: Mother Nature is being reasonable just in time for Felton LUG to meet. As those of you locals know, we had to move the meeting to the first Saturday for November and December because of the CERT training (they are the emergency responders in crises, so we thank them and let them have our spot whenever they want) on our usual second Saturday of the month. For those of you who are still awake, Felton LUG will meet tomorrow, 2-6 p.m., at the solar-powered Felton Fire Station behind the Felton Community Center. No program this month — run what ya brung — and there could be an installfest kicking off January 2012.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

(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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Make it so, SCALE

November 29, 2011 2 comments

A little history: Mimi Cafiero (yes, that’s my girl) and Malakai Wade, two teenage girls who are helping to organize SCALE 10X’s young people’s conference, staunchly proclaimed that, “We are not kids.” So the title of SCALE 10X Kids Conference was in peril from the start.

Yet in discussion on the mailing list on the name that shortly followed, Jenn Waterman had the perfect solution in a one-line e-mail:

“I would like to suggest ‘SCaLE: The Next Generation’ :)”

So after a little more discussion, the organizers for the event made it so. The SCALE Kids Conference became SCALE: The Next Generation.

Yesterday, the Southern California Linux Expo officially announced their conference for the next generation of free and open source (FOSS) community enthusiasts. SCALE: The Next Generation will be held Saturday, January 21, 2012, at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport hotel.

In their announcement, they invite the youth of the FOSS community to share their enthusiasm and excitement about FOSS projects with the other young people.

Talk submissions are reviewed by a committee of youths, parents, and volunteers planning the conference and evaluated solely on their merits. SCALE requests that submission dates be strictly honored in order to provide the committee enough time to choose the best set of proposals.

Presenters will have the opportunity to give a 20- or 45-minute presentation, and the desired time slot be mentioned in the submission.

The goal of both SCALE and SCALE: The Next Generation is to educate and encourage excitement about FOSS. Because of this, all presentations should be submitted in a free and open format, such as OpenDocument Presentation (ODP) or PDF formats.

Additionally the conference will also provide space where the next generation FOSS enthusiasts can see FOSS program and hardware projects in action. SCALE encourages those youths interested in showcasing a project that they themselves are involved in or simply excited about, to submit a one paragraph description about the project and what attendees can hope to see.

Submissions for both presentations and demonstrations should be emailed to gareth@socallinuxexpo.org

Important dates to keep in mind: Invitation for Participation Opens on Nov. 29 (yesterday); Invitation for Participation Closes on Dec. 19; and SCALE: The Next Generation takes place on Jan. 21, 2012.

Come on, kids . . . er, I mean, next-generationers — get those talks in and be a part of this historic conference.

(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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Scaling up for SCALE 10X

November 10, 2011 7 comments

The fall and winter may turn our attention to the holidays — pick whichever one you choose to celebrate in your own way — but the folks at the Southern California Linux Expo are busy putting together what could turn out to be a landmark FOSS event for North America.

The Southern California Linux Expo — SCALE 10X — celebrates its 10th year when it opens on the Martin Luther King holiday weekend (Jan. 20-22). As this is a month ahead of the usual February date for SCALE, things seem to be coming together for the event.

SCALE started 10 years ago with a single day event at the University of Southern California with two tracks and 400 attendees. Considering that SCALE 10X will be a three day event, with as many as a half-dozen tracks and possibly as many as 2,000 attendees, it’s clear that FOSS is alive and thriving.

The response to the Call for Papers — which closes next week on Nov. 17 — has been strong, so get those papers in, if you haven’t already. A winner for the design contest, which allowed artists to design the logo to go on signs, swag and other SCALE 10X items, has been chosen (I know who it is — nee nur nee nur — but a release is going out on it later so everyone will know).

Some of the “usual suspects” for all day events — Fedora with their Fedora Activity Day and Ubuntu with UbuCon, for starters — are already on board, as well as SCALE University being in session again this year. In addition, the annual DevOpsDay LA and PGP Keysigning party are on tap again this year.

What deserves special mention are two things new to SCALE this year: Linux Beginner Training and SCALE Kids Conference.

Linux Beginner Training is targeted for the absolute Linux beginner, or for someone who’s interested in Linux but has no idea how to get started. The course will run all day Saturday and Sunday and consists of a half-day of introductory and overview tutorials, followed by a day and a half of intensive training in how to install, configure and maintain a Linux desktop installation. Not a bad deal for $25.

SCALE Kids Conference — soon to be “SCALE: The Next Generation” — lets the FOSS community leaders of tomorrow spotlight their talents and ideas today. Open to kids 10 and older, the goal of conference is to be as “kid driven” as possible, offering a unique opportunity to see & experience the inner workings of planning a conference. Kids will be able to determine the content and help steer the direction that this mini-conference will take.

As developments occur, I’ll report them, but meanwhile if you want to keep up on your own — not to mention registering early for SCALE 10X (always a good idea) — you can do so here.

See you in Los Angeles.

[The truth-in-advertising small print: I have worked as a volunteer for SCALE for the last three years, and I serve on the Public Relations Committee as a co-chair as well as a press liaison for the event.]

(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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