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Four simple words

January 26, 2014 3 comments

I wrote a blog item back in October 2011 that garnered the highest amount of hits (well into five figures), and the highest amount of comments (around 200), that this blog has ever achieved. Even the follow-up blog item garnered an abnormally high number of eyeballs. No, I’m not linking to either because I’d prefer not to go another round in the ring, so to speak, putting aside the fact that both blogs still get a considerable number of daily hits.

But if you Google “larry fsf” (no quotes), it comes up first — at least it did for me just now (sorry, “Larry Lessig”).

The back-and-forth in the comments is sometimes civil, sometimes not, and since this outpouring of vitriol — mine included — is abnormally high, I have given a lot of thought about the range of civility in the FOSS world.

I’ve been sitting on the following commentary for a long time. I even wrote an unpublished draft months ago that sits in the Larry the CrunchBang Guy draft queue because, well, I didn’t pull the trigger on writing about the incident in that forum which pushed over the first proverbial domino.

Personally speaking, I have no problem with the fact that I’m not going to agree with everyone, nor is everyone going to agree with me. My opinions, here and elsewhere, on the purposes and goals of Free/Open Source Software (or just about everything else) are going to clash with the opinions of others, and I’m at peace with that. In fact, I welcome the exchange of ideas with those with whom I may not agree to see if, perhaps, my mind can be changed, and conversely I would hope that others would take the same attitude. More often than not, I am disappointed here, but never mind. That’s another topic for another time.

So to those who “get it” — those who understand we’re not all of the same mind and there is room for debate and discussion, to say nothing of the fact that one does not have to be disagreeable in order to disagree — a deeply grateful “thank you” goes out to each one who deserves it. This item is not for you, though you’re welcome to continue reading.

It took me awhile to understand this, and as I’ve written in the past, there are times when the “current me” would take the “past me” and slap him in the back of the head, multiple times, and show him the best way, or at least the more civil way, to do things.

But I’m a little tired of appealing to some people — an annoying, yet tirelessly vocal, few — to be more understanding when they seemingly can’t hear me because they need their own individual proctologist to help each of them find their heads.

Nevertheless, this blog is a call out to those who don’t get it: The ones for whom dissent or disagreement is a good excuse to start playing “Call of Duty” verbally, escalating what started as a disagreement or a misunderstanding into a holy war with massive collateral damage.

The problem here is that this lack of civility, this absence of open-mindedness, and this departure from decent behavior scales in an enormous way in FOSS: from the new user warmed in the glow of their new-found FOSS enlightenment thinking their first distro is “the Holy Grail,” to some of those who got the ball rolling back in the day and are responsible for the world-altering digital movement in which we now find ourselves.

Most of the time we wrongfully give a pass to $FOSS_ICON because he or she is just “being $FOSS_ICON” when in reality we should be saying, “Seriously?”

“My way or the highway” is not a FOSS tenet. If you think it is, then the four simple words below are for you.

“Populating forums or IRC channels with troll-worthy posts and abusive behavior is clearly OK, and rules don’t apply to me especially when I have made it my sole purpose in life to shut people up who disagree on this insignificant issue.” If you think this way, then the four simple words below are for you.

“My desktop environment/FOSS program/Linux distro is the digital equivalent of perfection, we should all unite behind one (the one I’m using, of course), and if you disagree, you’re a moron.” If you think this way, then the four simple words below are for you.

“Not being mature enough to handle one’s behavior (or, in some cases, urges) in a large group of people, thereby forcing gatherings to enforce elaborate codes of conduct, is normal and acceptable.” If you think this way, then the four simple words below are for you.

There are more examples, but you get the point.

The Fedora Project, in a motto that embraces that distro’s workings and is oft-quoted in discussions, has boiled this concept down to five simple words: “Be excellent to each other.”

I’ve narrowed it down to four simple words: “Don’t be a douche.”

I’ll let you in on a secret, too: Adhering to these words, whether they’re Fedora’s or mine, also works in real life outside the FOSS realm. Don’t take my word for it — try it for yourself.

See you here next week. Agree or disagree, I’ll still be here, and you’re clearly welcome to return.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang Guy, Fosstafarian, Larry the Korora 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!

Tipping the SCALE

January 20, 2014 Leave a comment

A day late and a dollar short; OK, more than a dollar short but let’s not go there, all right?

This time of the year has me preoccupied, occupied, and post-occupied with SCALE 12X, the Southern California Linux Expo, which runs from Feb. 21-23 at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport hotel. Mention my name and get a good price (though, to be honest, it’s a good price whether you mention my name or not).

SCALE is unique in a lot of ways, but perhaps the biggest way that makes SCALE stand out is that it’s an event that easily stands with some of the larger FOSS shows in North America but — wait for it — it’s entirely community run. With an even dozen shows coming up next month, it’s the largest community-run show on the North American continent.

No small feat.

Truth in advertising: As the publicity chairperson for the event, it’s in my best interest to say nice things about SCALE 12X. Yet even if I wasn’t part of the expo, I’d still say nice things because, for the most part, the SCALE Team shows what people from divergent backgrounds — and with different, wide-ranging abilities and talents — can do when focused on one goal: in this case, providing a great vehicle for promoting Free/Open Source Software and hardware to kick off the year in the U.S.

Leslie Hawthorn and Brendan Gregg are keynoting. There are probably 90-something presentations spread out over the three days, with about 100 exhibitors. The schedule will be up soon. The range of presentations and tracks runs the gamut from easy-to-grasp for beginners to the most intricate technical sessions for the most seasoned IT veterans. The schedule, which is still being finalized and should be posted soon, will provide a road map to the cornucopia of information that will benefit everyone in attendance.

A lot happens at SCALE — in a good way, of course — and it’s something you should see at least once (at least). SCALE 12X would be a good time, if you haven’t been already, and for those of you who have been before, this year will again be great.

I’ll be there. Will you?

See you here next week.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang Guy, Fosstafarian, Larry the Korora 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!

Are you a fool?

December 11, 2013 5 comments

Mark Shuttleworth thinks you’re a fool. It’s up to you whether you prove him right or prove him wrong.

Yesterday, C|Net posted a story about how Ubuntu Touch OS has found its first smartphone partner, complete with a photo of a fully bearded (about time) Mark Shuttleworth beaming from ear to ear.

Fantastic. Which carrier/partner/vendor would this be so I can line up and get the hardware? From the article: “He wouldn’t say which company has agreed to use the Linux-based OS, but said it will be offered on high-end phones in 2014.”

Oh. He won’t say. OK. This, of course, would elicit from the most skeptical of us this simple demand: “Partner, or it didn’t happen.”

It goes without saying that we’ve heard this before — grand announcements from Canonical which are only that and nothing more. A huge fanfare at CES in 2012 for Ubuntu TV and nearly two years later, just in time for next year’s CES, it’s not here yet. Two more words: Ubuntu Edge.

And with every grand announcement from a self-appointed leader in the FOSS world, you have to ask yourself how this plays to the wider world outside the Open Source paradigm. If — as some people claim — Canonical/Ubuntu is the “leader” of Linux promotion to the wider public while consistently failing miserably in producing on the projects it proposes, what are folks left to think? One takeaway is that FOSS is a failure because Canonical/Ubuntu can’t or won’t deliver.

Shattering credibility, in large part, is Canonical’s profound “contribution” to Linux and FOSS as of late.

Speaking personally, I’ll just pick up my guitar and play, just like yesterday, and I’ll get on my knees and pray . . . .

What will it be? Are you a fool?

See you Sunday, if not sooner.

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!

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