Free software events review March 2006

As the March Hare sprang from the ground to frolic in the newfound warm weather of the spring season (here in the North), the free software world continued its steady but rapid advancement in the information technology landscape. Meanwhile, waiting in the corner is yours truly, glancing occasionally at the media ready to report on events that I personally think are interesting and feel like including here. In the month of March that consisted of:

Interview with Simon Peter, creator of klik

It's the year 2006, and installing applications in GNU/Linux can still be a nightmare (especially if they are not available in your distribution's repository). Simon Peter is the developer of klik, a piece of software that tries to resolve this problem. Simon kindly accepted to answer a few questions for FSM.

TM: Hello Simon! Please tell our readers about yourself...

MIT OpenCourseWare Turns 5

Ah, MIT. I don’t know what it takes to get into this school, but, damn, they have some good people there. I learned about their Open Course Ware project a few years ago, and am so glad to see it’s still thriving. The concept is simple: Make all the course materials freely available online, so that even folks like me (who are denied the chance to go to MIT), still get to reap some of the benefits of an MIT education. I’m timidly suggesting to my own dept that we start thinking in this direction.

Book review: Pro Apache Ant by Matthew Moodie

This book covers the popular Java-oriented build tool, Ant. It is a combination of reference manual and user guide, which demonstrates how to create Ant scripts that can compile projects, test them, and perform the many other manual tasks involved in the build pipeline, above and beyond standard compilation phase.

Pro Apache AntPro Apache Ant

Free culture events for April 2006

Welcome to the second newsletter listing and reviewing free culture events around the world. Free culture is a movement that extends the logic of free software into the world of art, advocating free creativity, sharing and remixing. There will be thousands of events with this ethos going on around the world, but the listings below are brought to you by activists and advocates of the free culture movement. You can add your events and reviews to this newsletter on the Free Culture UK newsletter wiki.


Upcoming events

Win a copy of “Linux Made Easy”

Mon, 2006-03-27 12:28 -- admin

This week we are giving away a copy of Linux Made Easy: the Official Guide to Xandros 3 for Everyday Users by Rickford Grant.

All you need to do to enter is:

1) Read our terms and conditions

2) Send your FSM subscriber name (the email address you use to login) and full name to .

(There is no question to be answered for this week's competition.)

Entries open on the 27th of MArch 2006 and close on the 1st of April 2006.

Personal security: passwords

Passwords are, without a doubt, the perferred method of online security by online blogs, portals, e-commerce sites and just about anything else. For the most part, this is a good system. But, like all security systems, there is a point of possible disclosure, and it lies with you, the password creator, manager and holder. There are tricks to managing passwords, and free software programs to make managing passwords simple and I’ll show you some of them, right now...

The problem

Interview of Frank Mittelbach

Free Software Magazine and the TeX Users Group (TUG) both like to publish interviews. Recently, Gianluca Pignalberi of Free Software Magazine and Dave Walden of TUG both approached Frank Mittelbach about interviewing him. Rather than doing two separate interviews, Mittelbach, Pignalberi, and Walden decided on a combined interview in keeping with the mutual interests already shared by Free Software Magazine and TUG.

DW: Frank, please start by telling us a bit about yourself and how you got involved with LaTeX.

We have a winner for “The Definitive Guide to ImageMagick”

Thu, 2006-03-23 12:38 -- admin

There were lots of entries this week, but unfortunately there can only be one winner...

Congratulations Jim Coleman of Parkersburg, WV, USA!

Jim has won a copy of The Definitive Guide to ImageMagick.

Thanks to all who entered.

Thanks also go to Apress for providing this great prize.

Book review: Linux Made Easy—the Official Guide to Xandros 3 for Everyday Users by Rickford Grant

Recently, a guy I know told me he had spoken to a friend of his about the possibility of installing GNU/Linux. “Hah!” Snorted his friend. “You? And GNU/Linux? Get real. That’s for hardcore geeks. You wouldn’t last.” And thus began the battle of spreading the free software word: trying to make my friend understand that GNU/Linux can ACTUALLY work for non-geeks and that making the switch won’t require him to suddenly understand jokes about binary. But, I knew all my friend really needed was a book like Linux Made Easy by Rickford Grant.

The book’s cover The book’s cover

Win a copy of “The Debian System”

Mon, 2006-03-20 14:59 -- admin

This week we are giving away a copy of The Debian System by Martin F. Krafft.

All you need to do to enter is:

1) Read our terms and conditions

2) Send your FSM subscriber name (the email address you use to login) and full name to .

No answer is required for this week's competition.

Entries open on the 20th of March 2006 and close on the 26th of March 2006.


Reports from PyCON 2006 (Python Conference)

Recurring themes at this year’s PyCON2006 Python conference, in Dallas, Texas, included quality control techniques for Python (testing methods), and interoperable content management systems. Guido van Rossum presented some previews of features to be expected in Python 2.5 (to be released later this year), and Jim Fulton presented the “State of Zope”, with some musings on where to go from here with Zope 2 and Zope 3.

Book review: The Debian System by Martin F. Krafft

The title “The Debian System” may be misleading to some, but it shouldn’t be. As the author claims, this book isn’t yet another guide to GNU/Linux. It’s a guide to Debian GNU systems, whether the kernel is Linux, BSD, or Hurd. Thanks to this book, both Debian beginners and experienced users have a detailed guide to the Debian world: its organization, licenses, and tools.

The book’s coverThe book’s cover

Programmer, thy name is MUD

Now this really sounds interesting. Wired is reporting about a new coding tool called playsh, a coding environment that works just like your favorite MUDs (multi-user dungeons). It combines the collaborative and spatial advantages of MUDs to give coders a new edge. I’m really excited about this product. I spent a sizable portion of my youth playing MUDs and hacking. Now I can do both!

Free software events for February 2006

February saw many free software events come to pass. These included: two major conferences, one on each side of the Atlantic; the surfacing of a couple of solutions for permitting composite window effects to use video acceleration; the adoption of free software in a number of scenarios; a new release of an old secure friend; the incremental launch of a distribution; and more. The main events are summarized as:

  1. OpenSSH 4.3 Released

Win a copy of “The Definitive Guide to ImageMagick”

Mon, 2006-03-13 10:48 -- admin

This week we are giving away a copy of The Definitive Guide to ImageMagick by Michael Still.

All you need to do to enter is:

1) Read our terms and conditions

2) Answer this question honestly, there is no correct answer:

If we printed a paper version of FSM and sold it at $6/issue on newsstands or $35 for a 12 month subscription, would you buy it?

3) Send your FSM subscriber name (the email address you use to login), full name and your answer to


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