If you are reading this you probably use free software. In fact, I think the probability that you are reading this article using free software is extremely high, whether it is “free-as-in-speech” as in Firefox, or “free-as-in-beer” as in Internet Explorer. Free software is increasingly being taken for granted and is almost treated as some kind of legal right in some quarters. And so it should be. A lot of people have had to put a great deal of effort into ensuring sufficient “free-as-in-speech” software exists for this to be so.
We have written this manifesto always wishing to unfold the concept and practice of free/libre and open-source. We wanted it to stretch out so that it might take us in new directions. To start off with, we were sure that the practice of non-proprietary software code production was not a narrowly technical or economic affair, but something that was always also socio-political.
In a recent discussion on the Slashdot web site, free software users and advocates raised the question of whether the KDE project should be ported to the Microsoft Windows platform. Advocates for porting the KDE desktop environment made the argument that porting KDE to Windows would enable a new population of users to experience the software and that this exposure would entice these new users to seek out and adopt free software for use in their daily computing lives.
Knoppix is a live-CD Linux distribution which comes with X Window and some of the most exciting and useful programs in the free software world ready for use. Like the famous Swiss Army Knife, “Knoppix Hacks” is an invaluable device. It has the best tips, tricks, and tools, along with information on other Knoppix-like systems. It contains common pitfalls and ways around them, most of which I had to discover by trial and error. Knoppix has quirks like mounting hard drive partitions read-only by default, but Mr.
Free software, also known as open source, libre software, FOSS, FLOSS and even LOSS, relies on traditional software legal protection, with a twist. Semantics aside (I will describe all the above as “free software”), the tradition at law is that free software is copyrighted, like most other software, and is not released, unbridled, to the public domain. Authorial or ownership rights can be asserted as with any bit of proprietary software.
This “thank you” is dedicated to all of the subscribers who are now reading issue 3 of Free Software Magazine. You have decided that it was worthwhile paying money for Free Software Magazine and have placed your trust in our project.
I appreciate your help, and I promise that we will do our very best to not disappoint.
It is a common assumption that companies who distribute free software will promote it, leaving the community to concentrate on the meat of the project itself (including code, documentation, graphics, and so on). But this is untrue; companies generally devote few resources and little expertise, leaving communities to fend for themselves in the big scary world of media and marketing.
In this article, I respond to Robert McHenry’s anti-Wikipedia piece entitled “The Faith-Based Encyclopedia.” I argue that McHenry’s points are contradictory and incoherent and that his rhetoric is selective, dishonest and misleading. I also consider McHenry’s points in the context of all Commons-Based Peer Production (CBPP), showing how they are part of a Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) campaign against CBPP.
In the online world, security plays a role in all online activities. Passwords are the most commonly used method to limit access to specific people. In my previous article I discussed assessing the relative value of systems protected by passwords, and grouping passwords across locations with similar trustworthiness.
In a nutshell, don’t bother creating and remembering strong passwords for low value systems, and certainly don’t use the same passwords for low value systems that you use in high value systems.
In his speech at aKademy, Bernhard Reiter of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) both celebrated Software Freedom Day and reminded the KDE community of what freedom in software means. The FSFE was founded in 2001 to promote and defend free software, and to coordinate national free software organizations, throughout Europe.
There is a company in the UK that provides Unix shells to their users: Mythic Beasts. They offer fantastic service to people who need a shell account on a very fast server, and don’t want to fork out silly amounts of money. Let’s talk to Chris Lightfoot, one of the company’s owners.
TM: Who is behind “Mythic Beasts”? How did everything start?
The $3.6 billion worldwide market for IT management software is ripe for competition from free software. Leading products from HP, CA, BMC and IBM are overkill for the vast majority of the market. Licensing costs can reach seven figures, and deployment and system administration costs are several times that. Not to mention that these products are widely known to be inflexible, monolithic and difficult to use.
One comment: No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.
Rob “CmdrTaco” Malda introduced the iPod to the Slashdot crowd with a statement rivalled only by Bill Gates’ quip “640 KB should be enough for anybody”.
Since that post in 2001, Apple’s iPod quickly became one of the most successful products in consumer electronics history. While its success largely derives from its “hip” factor and stylish design, the iPod’s integration with the iTunes music application and the iTunes Music Store has made the device a favorite among music listeners.
Dspam filters spam with the best. In my installation, it stops over 98% of all spam: I’ve only had one false positive in the last year, and that was a message to the Dspam list that contained a real spam!
Administering Dspam is a breeze. No rules to configure, new users can automatically benefit from a global dictionary and quarantine management is simple. But getting a Dspam quarantine set up the first time, without losing any email, can challenge the most seasoned mail administrators.
If you are responsible for maintaining an internet-connected mail-server, then you have, no doubt, come to hate spam and the waste of resources which comes with it. When I first decided to lock down my own mail-server, I found many resources that helped in dealing with these unwanted messages. Each of them contained a trick or two, however very few of them were presented in the context of running a real server, and none of them demonstrated an entire filtering framework.
SMTP is an abbreviation for “Simple Mail Transfer Protocol”, and is the standard internet protocol for sending email from one system to another. Although the word “simple” belies the inherent complexity of the protocol, SMTP has proved to be a remarkably robust, useful, and successful standard. The design decisions that made it so useful, though, have given spammers and infectious code an easy way to spread their unwanted messages. Its recent evolution reflects the tug-of-war between those unsavory players and the administrators who want to protect their systems and their users.
Being a “computer person” these days is a very stressful business. Forget about angry customers, missed deadlines, unreasonable bosses and co-workers, shrinking wages, etc. Those are just things you get used to after a while.
Bolivia (La Paz) (August 12, 2004 to August 17, 2004)
I am now visiting La Paz, Bolivia. The city is on the edge of the altiplano, starting on the plain at 13000 feet and running down through a connected series of valleys. The result is amazing beauty. Traveling between neighborhoods often means seeing marvelous vistas. The snow-capped mountain Illimani can also be seen from much of the city.
GNU/Linux is growing all the time: new software is being created; new copies downloaded or bought; new users are discovering free software for the first time. With this growth we have seen the rise of polished distributions, sales-minded distributors, “XX” software is being released, and so free software is gaining commercial success in many fields. Even governments, from Peru to the UK, are now racing to use free software. But governments seem to be the only ones who are talking about switching specifically because they want free software, not just stable, secure and powerful software.