2005 was a busy year for free software. The early days of 2006 provide a good opportunity to look ahead at the wonders that the new year will bring, but it’s also good to spend a small amount of time reflecting upon what 2005 delivered. Free software technology has made even more inroads into the corporate server space. Desktop and office applications have steadily improved as well, with implementations of them on the sharp increase. Awareness of free software, the business models, philosophy and its advantages are spreading well too.
Computer history has some interesting parallels with the history of the American West. After the initial forays of Lewis and Clark and the first set of explorers, early settlers crossed the plains in covered wagons. But the West wasn’t accessible to most Americans until the age of the railroads, when the Union Pacific Railroad put tracks across the continent and started running a regular passenger service.
When I received the first email from Tony asking me to set up the typesetting subsystem for Free Software Magazine (FSM), I was proud... and terrified. I have spent the last six years of my life using LaTeX and, ultimately, TeX, to typeset single articles, songbooks, my thesis, CV’s, flyers, and letters.
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is an XML based web content syndication format. RSS has become the defacto feature on weblogs and many news sites. Almost all major news sites and weblogs provide an RSS feed for their audience. An RSS-aware program (aka RSS reader) can check these RSS feeds for changes and display the updates in a human readable format.
RSS has become the de facto feature on weblogs and many news sites
I would have liked to start this editorial defining what free software is, but I found myself writing – and deleting – my sentences time and again.
The problem is that free software means different things to different people. To some, free software is a way to save money in licensing fees and technical support. To some, it’s a way of sharing their skills (which they do for different reasons: research, personal development, money, etc). And to others free software is a movement, a way of life.
This magazine was inspired by a conversation I had with a great friend of mine called Massimo. I said to Massimo “I think it would be great to start a magazine. It’s my ideal job, and I think I know what the world needs right now. It’s a pity there’s no money in publishing, and I’m not willing to run a magazine that doesn’t pay it’s contributors well...”. His answer was very simple: “Tony, there’s money everywhere, as long as you do something good and promote it well”. Well, seeing that he has a successful business, I thought I would listen.
Writing this editorial is much harder than I thought it would be. I made the mistake of leaving it last, and now the problem is that I have written so much over the last three months for this magazine (articles, emails, plans, business letters, personal diaries...) that I can’t think of anything I haven’t already said at least ten times.
Well, I have to start from somewhere, and I believe I ought to answer the most important question: what is Free Software Magazine?
Allow me to answer by explaining what Free Software Magazine is not.