Tony Mobily's articles

Fight Microsoft's lobbying of the world's governments: call to free and open source millionaires

The free and open source software community has witnessed, over and over again, how far a visit to the right government officials can go. Bill Gates seems to know the game, and what cards he should play in every occasion to "make things happen".

Over the last few years, it was apparent to us that making good software and creating good standards was just not enough to fight such a strong political presence. How could the free and open source world fight this?

Here is the proposal, in a nutshell (for the lazy readers): creating a fund aimed at informing government officials and prime ministers in the world about free software, and making sure that they receive similar benefits as they would if they chose to push for a Microsoft contract.

Lenovo enters the server market, keeps quiet about Linux

I recently learned the news that Lenovo is entering the server market outside China.

As the editor of Free Software Magazine, the first question that came to mind was: "Will they run Linux?". To my surprise, the answer was nowhere to be found.

Lenovo: hardly a Linux-friendly maker

Back in April 2007, Lenovo announced that it would "offer a wide selection of low- to high-end machines be loaded with Linux software from Novell Inc.". I won't comment the odd choice of GNU/LInux distribution, which is besides the point (I am an Ubuntu fan, and am convinced that any new Linux desktop user should be given Ubuntu for a number of reasons). What I do want to point out, is that some ten months later those laptops are nowhere to be seen.

The world does not need a "conversion nightmare": a standard office file format already exists

This is an editorial about file conversions. It starts with a story about Free Software Magazine and our struggle with article formats, and continues explaining why the world needs to get rid of Office Open XML, which could create more problems than the Microsoft monopoly itself.

Love your bugs: a zen guide to keeping your sanity while managing a free software project

Over the last few years, I've come to accept the fact that regardless of my attempts to quit this job, I am fundamentally a programmer. I wrote a book about security, I am the Editor In Chief of Free Software Magazine, but in the end I am still just a programmer. A lucky one, I must admit.

Free software will win. Eventually.

Free software (eventually) works better than proprietary software; why?

Making dramatic statements always implies a need to "back" them (or "prove" them) with facts, data, statistics. However, a statement like "Free software works better than proprietary software" is so broad, anybody can prove it and disprove it at will. It depends on which angle you take, which area, and what your comparison terms are. However, I would like to add an important keyword to that sentence: "Free software works better than proprietary software". That easily-missed word shyly hiding in brackets makes all the difference.

Zenoss: a great system monitoring program which tries to do everything right

I was happily hanging out in the sysadmin room of a major ISP around here in Western Australia (no, I wasn't meant to be there, if you really want to know!). Steve, the senior sysadmin in charge of the place, showed me a computer screen (running Vista, but I won’t comment on that) and said "Oh yeah, I'm sure you know about this...". "Yeah, I know Google maps" I answered. He looked at me embarrassed. "Err... actually, we use Zenoss server monitoring here... look close. That's our VPN!" It was a map of their server in Australia.

Interview with Dave Mohyla, of DTIDATA

Dave Mohyla is the president and founder of dtidata.com, a hard drive recovery facility based in Tampa, Florida.

TM: Where are you based? What does your company do?
DTI Data recovery is based in South Pasadena, Florida which is a suburb of Tampa. We have been here for over 10 years. We operate a bio-metrically secured class 100 clean room where we perform hard drive recovery on all types of hard disks, from laptop hard drives to multi drive RAID systems.

Bill Hilf’s interview with InformationWeek explained

I recently read an interview with Bill Hilf [1] (thanks to a link from Groklaw).As I read it, I realised that it needed clarifications to anybody left wondering whether Mr. Hilf’s answers are indeed objective. This article will go through the most interesting questions and answers, and will try to clarify some important points

So, why, why do people and companies develop free software?

More and more people are discovering free software. Many people only do so after weeks, or even months, of using it. I wonder, for example, how many Firefox users actually know how free Firefox really is—many of them realise that you can get it for free, but find it hard to believe that anybody can modify it and even redistribute it legally.

When the discovery is made, the first instinct is to ask: why do they do it? Programming is hard work. Even though most (if not all) programmers are driven by their higher-than-normal IQs and their amazing passion for solving problems, it’s still hard to understand why so many of them would donate so much of their time to creating something that they can’t really show off to anybody but their colleagues or geek friends.

Sure, anybody can buy laptops, and just program. No need to get a full-on lab or spend thousands of dollars in equipment. But... is that the full story?

Book review: Writer for Writers by Dmitri Popov

OpenOffice.org is a fantastic office suite, finally undermining Microsoft’s monopoly on Office-like software (word processing, presentations, etc.). Out of all of the OpenOffice.org programs, Writer is by far the most used: writing a document, a letter, or anything else is definitely more common than writing a presentation. This book is all about OpenOffice.org’s Writer.

The book’s coverThe book’s cover

Interview with Clement Lefebvre

This is the first in what I hope will be a series of interviews with major GNU/Linux distribution lead developers. This interview is with Clement Lefebvre the lead developer of Linux Mint and he talks with me about his project, development, the community, and his views on free vs open source software.

TM: Clement, first of all please introduce yourself to our readers! Where are you from? What do you do?

Interview with Jeff Starkweather, Chris Buechler and Scott Ullrich

Centipede Networks has recently entered a partnership with BSD Perimeter to offer commercial support for two important free software projects, pfSense and m0n0wall. I had a chance to talk to Jeff Starkweather (CEO of Centipede Networks), Chris Buechler (BSD Perimiter’s CTO) and Scott Ullrich (Chief Architect at BSD Perimiter).

TM: Hello everybody, and thank you for answering my questions! Jeff, Chris, Scott please introduce yourselves and your companies to our readers.

Winning the OpenDocument vs. OpenXML war

In August 2005 Peter Quinn, now retired Chief Information Officer of Massachusetts, decided that OpenDocument was the best way to store documents with the guarantee that they would be able to be opened 10, 30, 50 years from now. For a state government, this is particularly important. He led Massachusetts toward OpenDocument and OpenOffice.org. The move, which sparked controversy and ferocious lobbying, is likely to end-up in history books (and while we’re at it, I’ll mention that history books in particular ought to be accessible 50, 100, 1000 years from now!).

Interview with Joshua N Pritikin

Joshua N Pritikin has recently started a peer-review service based on free software he developed. Being the editor of a magazine about free software, the idea immediately intrigued me. So, I asked Joshua a few questions. Here are his answers.

TM: Hello Joshua. You’ve been involved in the free software community for quite some time... please introduce yourself to our readers!

Interview with Brian Jones

I had the pleasure to work with Brian Jones, renowned free software technical writer, last year when I was working on TUX Magazine. We met again by accident recently and, while talking with him, I asked “What about an interview?” Well, here it is!

TM: Hello Brian. Many of our readers already know your name and have read your articles or book. Can you briefly introduce yourself?

Interview with Jake McGraw @ Innovation Ads

As some of you know, I developed the Karma module for Drupal. You can see it in action right here, in Free Software Magazine, when you “vote” for (or against!) other user’s comments. While I know Drupal quite well, I must say that my Javascript skills are quite poor. I developed what I could, and then got stuck. So, I ended up asking for help in the JQuery mailing list, explaining what I was doing, and what I needed. The response was immediate, and extremely helpful. I ended up working with Jake McGraw, on the other side of the world.

Free Software Magazine pays for articles!

We started Free Software Magazine about 3 years ago with two goals in mind: publish fantastic articles about free software, and pay people to write good articles. We believe we managed to reach the first goal. As far as payment, it took us a lot longer than expected.Our authors right now get a book from one of our sponsoring publishers. But, before now, we never managed to pay cash for articles.

This has finally changed.

Free Software Magazine now officially pays for articles. I shamelessly admit that I am writing this sentence with intense satisfaction.

Interview with 3fn

As you may have noiced, we have recently changed our hosting service. Changing provider can be difficult—I had to effectively install a brand new server, and move all the data and configuration across. It was a time consuming and risky move: we had never dealt with 3fn before and, as far as we knew, the move could have been a disaster. After 2 weeks with them, I can honestly say that I am deeply impressed. This interview was not part of the deal we had with them—it was my own initiative, after seeing just how fantastic they were.

Editorial

The desktop computer is not dead, but it’s doomed. Laptops are not dead, but they are doomed. And our mobile phones are going to kill them... sounds unlikely? Well, please read on—and let me know what you think. People have predicted the death of the desktop computer and the death of the laptop many times. These death sentences have often sounded like those religions which predicted the world would end by the year 2000—then the year 2000 came, and the end of the world was then rescheduled for 2004—then 2004 happily came and went—and so on.

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