Tony Mobily's articles

Backup your data in Linux with Deja Dup

Hard disks break. Really, they do. When it happens, most people are sadly unprepared: even the most experienced computer person only recovers a (big?) portion of their data after a crash. Even today, with cloud computing. The reason? Backing up is tricky. If you use GNU/Linux or Ubuntu, it's easy enough to make an incremental backup using rsync and gpg. If you have no idea what this means, don't worry: yu will be able to use them without even knowing it.

Welcome to Déjà Dup, the best backup gem I have ever seen.

FOSDEM 2012, Hardware Security and Cryptography, Call for Papers

FOSDEM 2012 will take place in Brussels, the heart of EU.

This is a call for talks and presentations that will take place in the Security devroom at FOSDEM 2012. Do you develop software that can do HTTPS queries? Can it use keys and certificates on a smart card? Does your service use RSA keys for signing? Can it work with hardware keys? Are you interested in protecting your private keys like Three Letter Organizations or do you want to roll your own proper PKI with a smaller than five or six digit budget? How can we make cryptographic hardware Just Work with any application that uses crypto? The devroom is the place to share experiences and learn.

5daysprofitable: A corporate web site, start to finish, in 4 hours

In my previous article, I explained that I would embark in the Herculean task of starting a company, and make it successful and profitable, in just 5 days. And by using free software.

The first piece of this complex puzzle is a corporate web site. I had mine ready in less than 4 hours, start to finish. Here is what I did.

A company, zero to operational and profitable, in 5 days with free software

Everything started with a simple question my wife asked me: you are so good at teaching, why don't you do it? Given that I will only ever work in my own term, I would have to organize everything on my own: incorporation, web site, stationery, advertising, the lot. Chiara's question was natural: well, you can do all that basically for free with Free Software, right?

Right. So, the adventure begins: the bet is that I will have a company, zero to profitable (that means with customers, bookings, etc.) in 5 days.

Free Software Magazine is more exciting now

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?

Interview with Igor Sysoev, author of Apache's competitor NGINX

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.

Google stopped submitting patents to the USPTO: why?

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.

Android phones need to give root access. Now!

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.

Abusing the word "free" in software: what's really free in the Google market and in Ubuntu's market?

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.

Mounting Google Documents in GNU/Linux is just not a (real) option

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?

Interview with Adam Green and Jonathan Gray, founders of The Public Domain Review

Adam is a Berlin-based writer and artist. Jonathan works at a not-for-profit organisation called the Open Knowledge Foundation and studies philosophy and intellectual history at the University of London. Together, they created a website called The Public Domain Review

Free Software and public domain are somehow cousins, and -- more importantly -- they share similar goals. I talked to Adam and Jonathan, who agreed to answer a few questions for us.

Google and Privacy: An Open letter to Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Matt Cutts, Vic Gundotra

An Open letter to Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Matt Cutts, Vic Gundotra

Subject: So, does Google look into their users' private, non-shared files, and might close accounts if an AI decides that there is something illegal there?

Dear Sergey, Larry, Matt, and Vic,

Something sad happened to the world of cloud computing over the last week. I have followed with great interest the events of the now-celebrity @thomasmonopoly about Google closing his account.

Here is the short story: @thomasmonopoly had a bunch of (non-shared) images in his Google account. A program at Google flagged some of them as child pornography. His account was suspended. He complained loudly. He went viral. Google first ignored. Then backed their actions. They finally relented and apologised as there was no child pornography there, just an arts project -- a real one.

The Free Technology Academy needs your help!

The Free Technology Academy [1] is one of those incredible initiatives that spring out of the free software culture, and create something that goes way beyond free software.

Unfortunately, the FTA has recently lost their European funding. I talked to David Jacovkis, one of the people behind this innovative project, to know more about their situation and what needs to be done so that their project can keep on thriving.

Free Software: the road to a Universal bundle, a powerful app store, and world domination

Apple is doing it again: they are releasing an app store for OS X on the 6th of January. Just like the iPhone app store, and the Android app store, this is going to be a hit: the OS X ecosystem will get a giant boost from it, and we are left -- once again -- with a lot to learn. Before you mention that GNU/Linux doesn't need an app store because it's free software, and before you even say that GNU/Linux already has an app store through one of the many software managers (Synaptics, Ubuntu Software Center, apt-get), please read this article.

Google Chrome OS and Android: arranging a difficult marriage

There has been a lot of talking, lately, about Google's Chrome OS. People didn't take it too seriously initially; then, last week, Google started sending out demo netbooks which ran -- hear hear -- Google Chrome OS. Google Chrome OS is based on Google's browser, Chrome -- hence the name. The idea is that all you run on your laptop is your browser -- that's it. But this raises a lot of questions. In this article I propose a possibly interesting solution to Google's issues, and how a possible (and not-so-painful) merge with Android should be possible.

Ubuntu embraces Unity and Wayland. Or, GNU/Linux is exciting again

After installing Ubuntu 10.10, I had a strange feeling I was seeing something that was already old. Yes, Ubuntu is a fantastic desktop system, and yes it's better than Windows. But today, in 2010, that's almost a given. And that's not enough. The IT world is changing, and PCs themselves as a whole are getting old. The mass is moving towards tablets, mobiles machines, and netbooks. Ubuntu, the way it is today, might be the best choice in a dinosaur world. I can't read Mark Shuttleworth's mind, but I can only guess this is exactly what he felt when he decided to switch to Unity (for the UI) and Wayland (for the graphics architecture). Let me explain what all of this means.

Basecamp alternatives

Basecamp alternatives

When 37Signals created Basecamp, they filled a huge void in the project management market: the world was full of people who needed to actually manage projects and communicate, rather than learning the black magic of project management and its complex terminology. Free alternatives to Basecamp took a long time to develop: ActiveCollab was released around 2006, a good 2 years after Basecamp. Right now, the most established free alternatives are Project Pier and FengOffice. There are tons of non-free alternatives to Basecamp out there. They are all page-reload applications that mimic Basecamp's interface quite closely. Amongst the non-free ones, there is one I'd like to see as free software: Apollo. More about Apollo later.

Free Software News like never before: 17 September 2010 to 23 September 2010

Seabird is a new phone concept. Its main aim is to show you how a really cool video about a really amazing device that doesn't exist yet can be used to talk about a very amazing browser, Firefox Mobile for Android, that doesn't exist yet. What's left to be seen, is whether you exist.

Microsoft's Live spaces bloggers will become Wordpress Apparently, the import procedure might consist in a few people working overtime for one day at the most, to move the few dozens users over from Live Spaces to Wordpress.

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