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Posts Tagged ‘Ubuntu’

At 4 a.m., everything is funny

July 25, 2013 5 comments

After a losing a long bout with insomnia early Thursday morning, I started to looking at different Internet memes and matched them with — how can I put this mildly? — a current annoyance in the FOSS world known as the Indiegogo campaign for Ubuntu Edge.

You can all blame Mark Terranova, who on Wednesday posted this on Facebook:

mark_austin

Of course, that’s not really Michael Myers in the photo, but the guy’s whose face graces that photo does begin with an M. So it got me thinking: There are a lot of different, popular memes that would apply to the Ubuntu Edge situation. Like:

32milforphone

Jimmy McMillan. You can’t go wrong with Jimmy McMillan when something — like, oh I don’t know, an amount like $32 million — is too damn high. Then there were others, like the History Channel’s “Ancient Aliens” guy:

32millionaliens

Office Space: Clearly, this particular Indiegogo campaign would warm the heart of Bill Lumbergh:

lumbergh

A nod to Tolkein and “Lord of the Rings” (OK, a nod to Peter Jackson and his film, anyway):

32millionmordor

Of course, no meme collection would be complete without an “angry Picard,” though those who know TNG will tell you that he’s actually reciting a Shakespearean sonnet:

32millionpicard

I didn’t make this next one. Actually, my good friend Juan Rodriguez — who himself is one of the most interesting men in the world (and a damn good programmer to boot) — posted this on Facebook, and “The Most Interesting Man in the World” weighs in:

mimitw

Memed out yet? One more — and you all know this one would appear sooner or later:

32milliongrumpy

Yep, well, I have a cup of coffee and an imgflip.com account. There’s a lot more where these came from.

Last, but by no means least, I still advocate for folks to donate to the following groups instead of giving millions to a company which doesn’t care much about anything other than itself. Give instead to:

Reglue (especially Reglue, which is creating a new generation of FOSS users as you read this sentence)

Partimus (bringing Linux boxes to classrooms in the San Francisco Bay Area, or any other project like it)

CrunchBang (or your favorite distro, if it accepts donations)

Tux4Kids (the folks who bring you Tux Paint and other educational FOSS programs across platforms)

Or even taking a look at the list of projects at Software for the Public Interest and choose one of those.

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!

32 million reasons to say ‘no’

July 22, 2013 6 comments

Most of the time, when someone says something I wish I had said, or when someone writes what I wish I had written, then I let them drive.

So today, I’m throwing Fabian Scherschel the keys and letting him drive here, as I hold on in the passenger seat for dear life (just kidding, Fab), describing in a column in LXNews Canonical’s hat-in-hand appeal via Indiegogo for — wait for it — $32 million.

Go ahead and read the article first. I’ll wait. It’s a very even, objective analysis of the situation — the best so far (but not as funny as this). Yet the most telling passage in Fabian’s article, in my opinion, comes toward the end. In the final paragraph, Fab writes:

“Essentially, Canonical will have to raise over a million dollars a day to make their funding goal and people might be reluctant to give money to a for-profit company that has so far always given the impression that it is well off enough financially to bring about the Linux desktop — later TV, then phone — revolution on its own. The fact that the person doing the asking in the campaign video is estimated to have a net worth exceeding half a billion dollars might be another factor detracting possible backers.”

Reluctant? Oh, you bet. The only way Ubuntu is getting money from me is if a member of the Ubuntu Apocalypse robs me at gunpoint. But before we go into why it’s a bad idea to publicly fund a moderately large company’s research and development effort while they hide behind an Indiegogo campaign, let’s make a list of more worthy projects to donate to:

Reglue (especially Reglue, which is creating a new generation of FOSS users as you read this sentence)

Partimus (bringing Linux boxes to classrooms in the San Francisco Bay Area, or any other project like it)

CrunchBang (or your favorite distro, if it accepts donations)

Tux4Kids (the folks who bring you Tux Paint and other educational FOSS programs across platforms)

Or even taking a look at the list of projects at Software for the Public Interest and choose one of those.

An Indiegogo campaign by a large company like Canonical — certainly not what the founders of Indiegogo had in mind when they started their project — produces an astronomical number of subtexts. Some that immediately come to mind might be:

Is Canonical going broke? I’m not sure what kind of message an Indiegogo campaign sends to Canonical’s commercial customers. Imagine the conversation in some board rooms (or at least in some managers’ offices): “Canonical is asking the public for money. Are you sure we shouldn’t have gone with Red Hat or Novell instead?” Or . . .

Shuttleworth is closing the checkbook: The Mark may not want to keep spending money on the plethora of projects that seem to cross Ubuntu’s radar seemingly on a whim — and not to stray from the subject, but how is Ubuntu TV working out so far for everyone? Saving his Krugerrands is completely understandable for Shuttleworth. Orbiting earth is a lot more fun than having to deal with questions like this. Or . . .

Canonical thinks we’re smarter than venture capitalists: I’m flattered, but nothing could be further from the truth, at least where I’m concerned (some of you might be, though). If VCs are keeping this at arm’s length, or further, what do they know that I don’t? I mean, look at the players on the field: Android, Firefox OS, BlackBerry OS, iOS and that other one from Redmond that no one but Nokia seems to want — is there something I’m missing? Or . . .

It’s yet another Canonical marketing ploy — duh: We’ll touch on this a little later, but there’s really a win-win scenario to this whole exercise, regardless of the outcome. Canonical excels at marketing its operating system in the same way SCO excels at litigation. But again, we’ll touch on this later.

As the clock ticks down for the next 30 days, let’s see one month hence if one of the following happens:

The FOSS community and others pony up $32 million: OK, let’s work under this assumption. Thirty days from now, Canonical come up with the funds, and now it’s time to produce. Is Canonical really up to it (*cough* Ubuntu TV *cough*)? Incidentally, let me be clear about this: If they do succeed in raising this amount of money from the wider FOSS community and others, and we actually see a Ubuntu/Android phone as planned, I’ll be the first to congratulate them when we see the finished product. Heck, I’ll even watch it on Ubuntu TV. Oh, wait. Or . . .

It’s a campaign built to fail: An interesting theory raised by others, and one where Canonical doesn’t lose out if the campaign fails and $32 million isn’t raised. Here’s why: If they dont get the $32 million, nobody’s money is lost (that’s the way this Indiegogo campaign is set up — folks will get their money back), but the magic here is that even in failure, Canonical has some nice on-the-record, put-your-month-where-your-mouth-is pre-orders for the phone that they can follow up on when the real phones come out from an OEM partner. Assuming that’s part of the plan, but while you’re reading this, somewhere at Canonical . . . .

Victory laps are being taken in the marketing department: Win or lose, now or a month from now, the marketing folks are already doing high-fives and taking victory laps around the office. Their job is done — the word is out, people are talking about it, for better or worse, and of course the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.

Regardless of each scenario, Canonical once again shows its true disingenuous nature as it relates to the wider FOSS community; a community that Canonical mistakenly thinks it speaks for and, worse, thinks is at its beck and call. By the time this is posted, they will have raised about $1 million — congratulations on that, folks — but there are very good reasons, perhaps 32 million of them, why you should consider donating to other projects instead.

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!

Taking the day off

July 21, 2013 Leave a comment

When the sky is this blue and the temperature is not blazing — a rarity in the San Lorenzo Valley during this hotter-than-average summer — it’s hard to concentrate on the screen in front of me and the words that are growing more meaningless with each one added to this paragraph.

So to hell with today’s blog. I’m going outside.

But before I go, there are a couple of things on the radar, of which you should be aware.

First, there’s an OLPC tablet now on sale out there at Walmart and hopefully other places (hopefully, I say, because not even that would get me into a Walmart). While I’m not crazy about the fact that it’s Walmart taking the lead here in selling it, I think it’s a good way to get some funding into the program — middle-class Americans kicking in by buying the tablet.

Sadly, the nimrods at Popular Science don’t think so and ask, in an online article, if the OLPC project has lost its way. Of course the question of whether Popular Science has lost its way is arguably more relevant, but let’s put that aside. The editors there may want to find their way to the nearest team of proctologists in order to help them find their heads.

My hat’s off to the OLPC folks for making this available, and to seek alternative sources of funding where sources are drying up. I think the tablet, though not a replacement for the XO, can be seen as a viable alternative to the original hardware, which incidentally could work in some environments. Also, making it available to the public can only help matters in making the hardware acceptable.

No, I’m not linking the article since I don’t want to drive viewers to the page. Use your friend Mr. Google if you have to go read the article, or you can just go to PopSci.com and see if you can find it there.

Oh, and if you’re an Ubuntu user who has an account on the Ubuntu forums? Congratulations, someone may now have your password. It seems our friends at Canonical — wait, that would be “your friends at Canonical,” because I am sure no one there would consider me their friend, if they wanted to keep their jobs and/or standing in the community — has suffered a massive data breach on its forums. All usernames, passwords, and email addresses were stolen.

Here’s ZDNet’s take on the story.

It would probably be a good idea to change your passwords across the board, if the password for your Ubuntu forum login is the same, or close, to other accounts elsewhere.

So now that I’ve fixed that — I did have an Ubuntu forum account from years ago, though I haven’t been there in at least two years (but why risk it?) — I think I’ll go outside.

[Postscript: Yesterday I realized that it was two years ago on July 20 that I had first posted to the CrunchBang forums and, after writing a blog item about the distro, I became a regular user of the Debian-under-Openbox system. I still use other distros on hardware I have in the house -- primarily Fedora, but other distros as well -- however CrunchBang is on the day-to-day ThinkPad that never leaves my side (awkward, of course, when I'm in the men's room, but still). Thanks for a great distro, Philip Newborough.]

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!

Letting the cat out of the box

June 30, 2013 7 comments

Another San Lorenzo Valley Sunday, charcoal burning everywhere . . .

A few items culled over an unreasonably hot week here in Felton — we’re talking the area being Miami with redwoods (but thankfully without humidity) — include:

Schrodinger’s Cat lives: After a go/no-go meeting last week which sided with the former, Fedora 19 “Schrodinger’s Cat” went gold and gets a non-radioactive green light for Tuesday, July 2. Curious about it, I downloaded the beta and put it on a Toshiba Satellite L455, ahem, “laptop” — a laptop if your lap is the size of, say, Andre the Giant’s — and the silver behemoth ran the beta flawlessly. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t review distro alphas or betas because it’s akin to sticking your finger in a bowl of batter and writing about how good (or bad) the cake will be once it’s finished.

I can tell you this: I do like what Fedora has done with the install process, so much so that it was worth the wait when Fedora 18 was delayed (and I could take this opportunity to launch into why a six-month release cycle leaves a lot to be desired, but I won’t, even though I just did). In addition, I think this one will be a good one, but you’ll have to find out when I write about it next week. Get more information, and take the living cat out of the box on Tuesday, here.

The best distros: Last week, I said that a FOSSForce.com write-up a few weeks ago about what constitutes a community distro was an “uncharacteristically ludicrous article posted by the usually right-on-the-mark” site for FOSS news and commentary. As a blogger, I live in the glass house known as FOSS commentary and, regardless, I still reserve the right to throw stones. I can also admit without reservation or apology that the history of this blog is strewn with dozens of blogged eggs laid over the past several years; enough eggs to feed omelets to a small army during the course of a military campaign.

That said, I should clarify that I thought the message, not the messenger, was sorely lacking. But Christine Hall makes up for the article I slammed, and gains extra yardage on the play, by writing a great “top five” distro article which concludes — spoiler alert — with this: “Just keep in mind, there really isn’t a best Linux distro, or even a list of five best Linux distros. There’s only a best distro for you, the job you need it to do and the equipment on which you need it to operate.”

Amen to that, Christine, and thanks for reciting the Larry the Free Software Guy mantra.

Widespread adoption of Unity? Not exactly: Like FOSSForce.com, LXer.com is also one of my daily stops on the web for news and commentary. Also, more entertaining is visiting the LXer.com discussion forums — yes, that’s a reflection of how exciting my life is; deal with it (I have) — and finding some interesting morsels.

One item has an original poster bemoaning the fact that people continue to beat up on Unity. While I find it hard to agree with his premise — for a variety of reasons on several levels, Unity deserves its reputation as the pinata it has become in the tech press, with little in the way of argument against — it did prompt me to think about this question: If Unity is such an outstanding desktop environment, why hasn’t it been widely adopted by other distros?

Think about it. Personal preferences aside, a metric which speaks to how good, or not, a desktop environment is would be its adoption by other distros. So you could describe Unity as having widespread appeal if you define “widespread appeal” as being adopted by 10 — count ‘em, 10 — distros other than Ubuntu.

If you’re keeping score at home, here’s the list of distros other than Ubuntu using Unity as a default desktop environment (with DistroWatch ranking in parentheses): DreamStudio (49), The People’s Republic of China’s Ubuntu Kylin (105), Hybride Linux (108), Vinux (110), Leeenux (165); Bio-Linux (174), Ubuntu Christian Edition (188), Oz Unity (195), iQuinixOS (261), and Baltix GNU/Linux (274).

OK, so I would argue that it’s not widespread adoption, for reasons I’ve mentioned in past blog posts — the posts you couldn’t scramble and serve with toast.

Oh, and one more thing: Lindependence rides again. We’re going to take Software Freedom Day in September and make it SFD-Lindependence Felton 2012, with all the trappings of the first one. More on this as plans develop. I would urge any group — Linux User Group, FOSS software-specific user groups, even the sectarian Ubuntu LoCos — to participate in Software Freedom Day by signing up here.

See you next 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!

Ground Control to Major Mark

May 30, 2013 1 comment

The morning started innocently enough. With coffee in hand and a muffin heating in the toaster, I popped on the Linux news sites to see what was brewing along with the upcoming second cup of joe.

Click. Read. Laugh aloud to wake up the rest of the family before the chainsaw-wielding folks started at 8 sharp to clear trees on the property behind ours.

I’ll let Sean Michael Kerner drive here, because his item here on InternetNews.com nails it.

What’s enormously funny about this is not so much that Mark Shuttleworth has completely removed himself from any remote semblance of — let alone removing any grip on — reality (more on this later). The most humorous aspect here is that the video capture identifies him as the founder of “Ubuntu Linux,” which flies in the face of Ubuntu/Canonical trying their hardest to remove the word “Linux” from anywhere near their distro. Perhaps that was, and is, Bug #0, but that’s for others to debate.

Mark, listen: The “reality distortion field” thing? That may have worked for Steve Jobs (and a good argument could be made that it didn’t even work for him), but seriously, that lightning can only strike once, if at all. For the sake of argument, let’s say Steve made the “reality distortion field” quirky and charming, anyone who emulates that now is, at best, a copycat; at worst . . . well, let’s just not go there. So while you might think that you’re doing FOSS a favor by unilaterally proclaiming the bug fixed, that’s not what my radar is showing. I’d be willing to bet, too, that it’s not showing that way for others as well.

But never mind all that, Mark. Thanks for the laugh.

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!

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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Eliminate DRM!

What’s really important

March 13, 2013 5 comments

So . . . I had written a blog post addressing the remote hope that I’d at least get a postcard from the vacation from reality that Canonical’s self-appointed hubris-monger Mark Shuttleworth has recently taken, while urging those in the various *buntu communities do some soul searching when your project leader says, “If you’ve done what you want for Ubuntu, then move on.”

Then I sat on the blog post for a few days, wondering if it was too incendiary. I took walks. I had coffee with friends. I bounced the theme of what I was writing off a few people. I embarrassingly lost a huge Tetris smackdown to my darling daughter at the arcade at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

In that particular item, comparisons were made: The Mark’s emulation of Steve Jobs speaks volumes about the danger that lies ahead for freedom and real progress in that particular community; to say nothing of Shuttleworth’s detatchment from reality — what Jobs observers used to call his “reality distortion field.” This fantasy world tries so hard to be branded as “innovative” when echoed by the zombies populating the Ubuntu Apocalypse but, in all reality, it’s just regressive. Additionally, the prevailing attitude displayed by the Ubuntu/Canonical leadership raises the arguable point that those in its community could very well be — if they aren’t already — the FOSS equivalent of battered spouses who need to get out of that relationship with all speed.

Canonical is rapidly becoming Canonisoft: Realize that and you know what you need to do, Ubunteros.

But late last night, I decided not to post it. I deleted it to replace it with what you’re reading now because there are far more important things going on in the world at this moment; things that need immediate attention because lives are at stake.

Let’s take a look at Syria, for example: Bassel Khartabil, who some of you may know as Bassel Safadi, will have been imprisoned in Syria for exactly a year on Friday. Bassel, 31, specializes in open source software development, and is known worldwide for his strong commitment to the open web, teaching others about technology, and contributing his experience freely to help the world. Bassel is the project leader for an open source web software called Aiki Framework, and he is a dedicated volunteer to major Internet projects like Creative Commons, Mozilla Firefox, Wikipedia, Open Clip Art Library, Fabricatorz, and Sharism.

Find out more about Bassel here and watch the video on that page — it’s short but informative. Then read more about his plight on this page, and sign the letter to support freeing him as soon as possible.

Also, there are various actions taking place on Friday — the anniversary of Bassel’s detention — and there are things you can do either by your physical or digital presence, which are listed here. To post information about any action or ideas you might have, go here.

Those of you who read this blog on a regular basis know I’ve written about this before. I’ll keep writing about it, just as I keep fasting on Fridays until Bassel is free.

But the fact remains: What’s really important here — in the wider world — is not stroking the ego of a self-important, self-appointed “leader” who laughably claims to be an innovator, but saving the life of an important contributor to the FOSS paradigm locked away in a Syrian prison, nearly for a year so far without charge.

Now, if you’ll excuse me for a few moments, I need to go back to the arcade and practice Tetris for the rematch.

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 in his individual consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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Eliminate DRM!

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