One business model that I’m surprised hasn’t been further explored for funding free software is advertising. Ads have been a standard way to make “free” media pay in countries like the USA, where advertising-based commercial television broadcasting has been the dominant medium for decades.
To broaden or not broaden the GNU/Linux user base. This topic has generated a ton of discussion and emotion within the community. Whatever your particular stance, one thing is guaranteed. Change! And human beings are typically adverse to Change!
Change is maddeningly inevitable. Change may be planned, such as a wedding. Change may be unplanned, such as a job termination. Change may be hard-earned, such as a graduation. Change may be filled with energy and hope. Change may be filled with uncertainty and doubt.
Change is an integral part of our life-fabric
Messing with MP3 files is, for some people, a synonym for illegal use of copyrighted music. Well, actually it's not.
My formal education in computing ended at the age of 14, about six weeks into a GCSE (The UK equivalent of the US's High School Diploma) course in ICT. I've had a lifelong passion for computers, but despite this, I opted instead to study Design and Technology and never looked back.
Is getting people to convert to GNU/Linux like feeding your kids veges? I'm used to the feeling of smug satisfaction when I've slipped a couple of extra vegetables in a meal and the children haven't noticed.
Mmmm, this is delicious Mum. I love Spaghetti Bolognaise.
Any serious, committed user of GNU/Linux who hasn’t heard about the Microsoft/Novell deal has either been slightly dead or at the bottom of an Albanian tin mine shaft wearing a particularly sturdy pair of ear muffs.
Seriously though, the digital wires have been humming back and forth with the original story and the chain-reaction stemming from it. Is it all a storm in a teacup, an over-action? And, does it really matter to the mere, humble end-user like me? I think that it does matter.
Some people buy game consoles at launch only to take them apart immediately and post pictures of the insides on the internet. Web pages, wikis, and forums are devoted to putting Linux on game consoles even before they have been released.
At last week's GPLv3 conference, the topic of embedded GPLv3 software came up a few times. Below is something of a summary of those discussions. Georg Greve blogged about the conference, so I'll avoid repeating what he covered. Suffice to say, it was an event the organisers can be proud of, and Tokyo is a lovely and interesting place.
I think the issue of GPLv3 in embedded software falls into two categories: warranties, and regulated hardware.
People in this country are pretty funny, they really are.
It’s a damn shame how we exert so much energy for what we want, and considerably less for what we really need. People will queue up for a week, and risk weather and robbery (“Violence Mars PlayStation 3 Launch”) to secure the “opportunity” to spend $500+ of slave labor earned money to buy a PS3 while probably oblivious of how that same amount of money could buy them computing power that could set them free(r).
What we need are more Penguinz in da hood and fewer PS3s.
The techo-resistant person in my life is my own spouse. See, my wife loves to work with her hands. Her favorite activities involve knitting or crocheting. She takes balls of yarn and converts them into items of beauty. So, her instinctive reaction to computers and software was “why do I need that” and “what would I have to show for my time”.
However, in the last few years, I converted her into a bona-fide computer user just as I converted her to Chinese food. She is now a frequent user of free software, primarily Edubuntu 6.10 and Firefox 2.0.
So how did I activate her latent geek genes? By following this four step program:
Answer: As dumb as necessary.
Let's rephrase: How technically sophisticated should GNU/Linux users have to be? How knowledgeable should any computer user have to be? The answer to that, of course, ranges from "very" to "not very." We need to get past the name-calling of clueless newbie and sneering elitist, and understand that there are going to be varying levels of ability in any community, including the one made up of people interested in using free software. From there, I suggest it is critically important that we expand the size of the free software community. That means dealing with more "dumb" people.
I have always been a fan of fringe operating systems.
Between 1989 and 1992, I learned and used VMS, OS/2 2.0, NeXTStep on those beautiful cubes, GeoWorks, AmigaOS, and probably half-a-dozen others that I don't recall at the moment. I loved the diversity, the differences, the similarities. Booting an unfamiliar operating system for the first time always gave me a rush of geeky machismo, usually accompanied by the irresistible urge to grow a thick mustache and learn to fence with a saber.
Perhaps it's a sickness peculiar to geeks. Or maybe it's just me.
Today, I sat down with the executive director of a counseling service for child sexual abuse to have a chat about developing a case management application for them. These organizations need to be able to track their activities with the people they deal with, write notes about their interactions, produce assessments, demographic analysis and activities reports and manage documents. Good case management software is pivotal for them. I realized that it's ridiculous how these types of organizations struggle with their technology needs.
Hi, it's B and G, the little kids in this house. We've had a lot of ice lately. The TV says we may even lose the electricity. Dad said he needed to write his blog early this weekend. But right now, he is walking around the living room and griping about writer's block. He looks kinda funny.
So we sneaked in here to say what we don't like and do like about the computer. The adults have said what they liked, now it is the kid's turn.
I received an interesting note today from the school my children attend. In order to save precious dollars, last school year, I suggested that they begin using OpenOffice and only install Microsoft Office where there are licenses. The note I received today listed computer needs, and one of the needs listed as "Because Open Office is a lesser program compared to the Microsoft office programs, it wouldbe helpful to have either tutorials or at least manuals for these programs." Now, I agree that I should have provided books or pointed them to online manuals.
I recently started a new podcast where people like you and me have the chance to put questions to key people in our community. While doing that I discovered some aspects of our community that I feel are often over looked in the drive to find new users.
Why I did it
When I first began to use GNU/Linux, I didn’t really care about free software, I just thought it was exciting to be able to mess around with code like that and see what could happen. I felt that it was fantastic that you could get under the bonnet; so to speak, and play with the code which powered everything.
I thought that was what I loved about the system. I was wrong, what I really fell in love with was freedom.
There is a fundamental problem with GNU/Linux—it requires clueful people to exist in the IT food chain. Anywhere in the food chain. It doesn’t take an experienced kernel hacker to install GNU/Linux, run a web server, or teach people how to log on to the network. It just requires a user with an interest in the subject, the ability to solve problems, and the desire to achieve results.
In my last post, I was overflowing with praise for the value of Ubuntu for the non-profit world and said I’d discuss “how Ubuntu works” in this entry. Well “how” is beyond my technical expertise and is undoubtedly a complex dance of 0s and 1s and static electricity. What I meant was a little less technical and more practical... just the joy of using it.
A few years back, Eric S. Raymond (or, as everyone else calls him, ESR), wrote a lengthy paper about this community. Entitled The Cathedral and the Bazaar, he wrote about how the Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) community does what it wants when it wants to.
I don't think he was entirely wrong; I just don't think he was entirely right, either.