The wilder shores of the internet are awash with bizarre stories but the one I'm about to relate just has to be one of the most extraordinary things I have ever heard in relation to FOSS. You will have heard about SOPA and the reaction against it in the open source community including petitions, boycotts of GoDaddy etc. Look, that's small potatoes. What these guys are plannng is out of this world. Literally. Read on.
In an earlier phase of my life, I worked as a professional astronomer, and I've loved space and astronomy since before I could pronounce the words. So naturally, I've gotten a lot of personal pleasure from the free software astronomy tools that are included in my Debian GNU/Linux system. But ironically, I haven't written about them much. Recently, though, I was asked a question which I used KStars to answer, so this is a good chance to talk about how to use it.
You've probably heard of "Last FM", a music playlist site that allows users to track their favorite bands and listen to music streamed over their mobile devices. But you may not have heard of Libre FM, a recent free software project and free culture web application intended to serve this purpose exclusively for free-licensed musical works.
Python scripting in Blender seems like a natural interest for me, as I'm interested in both Blender and Python. I really enjoyed reading this book on the subject, and the examples were certainly interesting. However, there is one small problem that I didn't realize until after I had read it: Blender's Python API changed a lot in the major re-write that accompanied the transition from Blender 2.4x to 2.5x. This unfortunately is going to make this book dated a lot sooner than you might expect. So, while I do think it's a great book, I might have to recommend waiting for a version updated to Blender 2.5x.
I was working on a big website recently and faced a really tedious job in editing the content. I needed to find and replace certain words, like 'southeastern' for 'southeast', scattered over something like 140 files in half a dozen folders.
What to do? Install a powerful Content Management System with lots of menus and a global editing tool? Nope. I took the easy way out, using the tools at hand. The trick was to remember that webpages, regardless of how complicated they look in a browser, are really only plain text files.
Just how do you establish a niche in the browser market when it is already saturated with so many competitors? Well, you could use Webkit and QT, throw in a few neat features and see where that takes you. That's exactly what the developers at QupZilla did. So, I decided to take a look at the substance behind that quirky name.
If you happen to be around here a lot, you probably noticed that things have changed a little: last month, we released our new web site (which is the one you are looking at right now) with a much more friendly look. If you happen to have a phone or a tablet, you would have also noticed that Free Software Magazine is now very phone and tablet friendly.
That's the dress. What about the magazine itself?
NGINX is the new start rising in the landscape of web servers. Well, it's hardly "new" -- it will soon turn 10. However, it's definitely rocking the web server world, with Netcraft showing a huge increase in usage in the last few months.
I was fortunate enough to catch up with NGINX's author, Igor Sysoev, who agreed on answering a few questions for us. So, here is a glimpse on their business model, their new 2.0 version, and more.
UPDATE: As pointed out by Bill Slawski, most recently submitted patent applications don't show up within that time period in USTPO searches or Google's patent search because they are initially filed confidentially, under 35 U.S.C. 122 Confidential status of applications; publication of patent applications. So, I was gracefully wrong!
Software patent wars have always existed: companies fought them (or paid up), sometimes quietly, sometimes making a big fuss. However, something has changed over the last year or so: people started getting directly affected by software patents (ask anybody wanting a Samsung Galaxy Tab in Australia for Christmas 2011...). Lately, two things came to my attention: Google acquired 200 patents from IBM. But, more interestingly: Google hasn't filed any patents over the last several months.
Jamendo has been one of my favorite sites for finding free-licensed music (i.e. music licensed under Creative Commons Attribution or Attribution-ShareAlike licenses) for projects. So, it's very sad for me to find out that it has had a flagging reputation over the last year or so. I first noticed earlier this year that some artists were disappearing from the site.
I wanted to make an impression with my title. I hope I managed. I am writing this article as Gingerbreak's wheel spins aimlessly runs on my Galaxy S phone. I have little hope that I will actually be root on my phone. Here I am: I intended to write an article about Busybox, in order to turn an Android phone into something that really resembled a GNU/Linux system. I failed, twice: as a user, I failed gaining control of my own phone. As a free software advocate, I failed warning people about what could have happened -- and indeed I let it happen.
Recently, as I was browsing the shelves of my local used book store, I realized that I was engaged in "piracy" of exactly the same kind as what the legacy entertainment industry has slammed as a scourge so terrible that it is worthy of giving up our online freedoms to protect. This is what SOPA is supposed to protect us from.
The Blender Foundation has started a new "Open Movie" project called "Mango", and this one is of particular interest to me for Lunatics, because of the technical goal: motion tracking. Motion tracking is principally about putting animated 3D objects into real footage so that it matches the background "plate" (i.e. the original footage).
I am becoming more and more convinced that the real thread to free software (and I am talking here about software released under a free license, not software that you can download and use for free) is contempt. Proprietary software is a competitor, but not a real threat. Proprietary software cannot really kill free software: no matter how many law suits you start, how many patents you file, how many pre-installed versions of Windows you have, common sense will always win. Contempt, however, the the real danger.
If your computer is so old that it was last spotted in the wild roaming with the dinosaurs before they were flamed by an extinction-level event, then (like me) you just might just be grateful for Unity (2D) to extend the lifetime of your machine. Since the doctors switched off the life support on my best, though ageing laptop (private funeral only, no flowers, donations in lieu) I've had to switch the hard drive into my second best machine. The problem is that it's even older, at seven or eight years (probably about sixty eight in dog years).
It looks like 2012 is going to be a great year for free culture. Possibly my favorite development is that MusOpen has organized its planned symphony recordings for this January. In September, 2010, the free culture organization raised over $68,000 (several times their $11,000 goal) through a Kickstarter campaign, with the intent of commissioning a "internationally renowned orchestra" to perform the Beethoven, Brahms, Sibelius, and Tchaikovsky symphonies.
If you use Google Documents, you might want to be able to access your files without using a browser. So, I was all set, happy to write a good blog entry about how to mount your Google Documents folder on your Ubuntu. (This is not a very free-software thing to do, granted. But then again, if you are an Ubuntu One user, well, Ubuntu One server isn't free software either. But, it's a service, and interfacing to things is crucial.)
So, is it actually possible?
In the first part of this series I looked at the Raspberry Pi -- a $25 computer which is being developed to remove one barrier to encouraging the next generation of programmers. It's ambitious and commendable but on its own it may not be enough. The choice of software for such a project is important and as important is the implementation of that software.
Film is a very comprehensive art form, probably the most that we have available to us at the moment, so it should be no surprise that a free film project severely tests the limits of available free software, not only for authoring the film, but also for collaborating on its creation. In the case of "Lunatics", we need to combine some of the community development software that is frequently used for free software development with tools allowing a lighter-weight interaction more comfortable for creative contributors, and finally, a fan-friendly public face. It's tricky, and I don't think we're really all the way there yet, but over this Summer, I've managed to find and assemble the necessary parts for our online presence. My solution combines several different platforms, and uses a few remote or "cloud" services as well.