I doubt there is anyone reading this blog who hasn’t heard of wikipedia. I imagine that most of you are like me—it’s often the first place I turn when I want a quick “lowdown” on subjects as disparate as a Civil War general, postmodern theorists, Apple IIs, or He-Man toys. My students also use wikipedia incessantly, though other professors tend to chide them for using an “unreliable” resource.
I think when a parent tells a child that something is “good” or “cool” their immediate reaction is to disbelieve it. I guess I must have done that to my parents, though I cannot remember any specifics there, certainly my children do it to me. I have had broadband at home with a computer available to be used by them any time for a few years now, but it has been underused. When I tell them what an amazing resource the internet is, do they believe me? No... of course not. I am only a parent after all.
But recently things have been changing! And not all for the better...
In 2000, I was a much more naive person when it came to both free software and the legal environment in which it exists. To be fair, I suppose I was far from alone.
At that time, the idea of applying free licensing to artwork was pretty new (the Creative Commons hadn’t really built up much steam, even if they did exist, which they probably did, but I can’t remember). There were a lot of theories about the reasons why it was hard to motivate artists to use free licensing, perhaps because an awful lot of people were still fuzzy about why programmers did it.
Newsforge is running a story that ought to concern everyone here at Free Software Magazine. Every three years, the Library of Congress pulls down the DMCA’s Anti-Circumvention Clause (the one that makes reverse-engineering illegal and paves the way for totalitarian digital copyright policies) and solicits comments regarding possible revisions.
As a specialist in multiple environments, I have spent many years putting together an environment that enables me to do all of the work I need to do.
This makes my network—for a relatively small two person operation—more complicated and substantial than some networks that support 10, possibly even 100 times that many users.
Why so complex?
Several years ago, at the eGovOS summit, Microsoft desperately tried to introduce its form of “Shared Source” as if it were a valid form of “Open Source”. And to claim their new licensing strategy they offered “freedom” to others. This effort met with extreme skepticism from me, and I wasn’t the only one. Since then, they have appeared at many free software related advocacy events, as well as using their own closed and special government conferences, and have been desperately trying to sell this idea: that “Shared Source” is “Open Source”.
I heard that at Gartner Mr. Ballmer said that one of the four areas which Microsoft believes GNU/Linux is particularly successful and where Microsoft wishes to challenge GNU/Linux is in application servers. I have often wondered why a company which makes one kind of product feels it needs to control the entire market. This is not something unique to Microsoft, as there are many corporations who feel they should be able to control the third party marketplace that utilizes their products, rather then let others choose what products and services they wish to receive.
We’ve come a long way in the promotion of open source software. Gone are the days of trying to convince IT directors that Linux is a viable operating system. Most organizations are running Linux on a server somewhere today, and it’s generally considered mainstream for a host of uses.
I, being currently involved with free software, see it being mentioned so often in publications that specialise on the subject and which target sad geeks like myself who have nothing better to do. However, an advertisement caught my eye in my non-technical local newspaper—Cambridge Evening News (That is Cambridge UK, not the one in Mass). It was entitled...
"Free software—but at what price?"
Well, I’ve never kept a “blog”, and I’m still trying to decide whether I can tolerate the name, or feel compelled to insist on “weblog”. In any case, though, I think it is appropriate to provide a first post which tells a little bit about me, so that in the future, people can refer to it.
OK, so according to one of my friends I have way too many blogs out there and I should stop posting, but really I can’t see the problem.
I use blogs as a way of communicating with readers—I write a lot, not just for Free Software Magazine but also for Linux Today, Serverwatch, IBM developerWorks, Computerworld and of course one or two books :)
Why would you install your own copy of Linux just to have it look like everyone else’s copy? With such a wide array of themes available, there is no reason not to try out a few on your Linux PC.
GNOME-Look is a great source for wallpapers, window decorations, splash screens and everything else you need to customize a Gnome based distribution (such as Fedora or Ubuntu). Thanks to the wide selection, the possibilities are almost limitless.
FreeBSD—it’s the other white meat. Perhaps you are a long time GNU/Linux user and have been curious about experimenting with the other half of Open Source, the BSD class of operating systems. The 6.1 release is just around the corner, the first batch of RCs (release candidates) are already hitting the FreeBSD mirrors and by the time this article hits the press, 6.1 will probably have been released. The time has come for the adventurous to forgo their penguins and get down with the beastie.
When I first started thinking about Free Software Magazine, I was feeling enthusiastic about the dream. I had Dave, Gianluca, and Alan willing to help me, I had established members of the free software community willing to help me out, I had writers volunteering their time and energy for free, and I had a generous offer from OpenHosting for servers, all before I'd proved myself. There was a sense of excitement in the air, and I thought maybe, just maybe, I could make this work.
I don’t like writing controversial editorials. Controversy is an effective means to get a lot of accesses: most people seem to enjoy reading controversial articles, maybe because they like torturing themselves. (And yes, I used to read a lot of Maureen O’Gara’s articles myself!). Besides, controversy is a double edged sword: there’s very little chance that I would ever go back to those sites!
And yet here I am.
If you had a matter economy based on free-licensed design, what would you do with it? Why does this apply to space settlements? Are there practical projects? Who would need them? Why is free-design the right way to go? This final installment in the free matter economy series will attempt to answer these questions by taking a brief tour of the kinds of roadblocks that lead to the concept of applying free software methods to space.
The IT world has a reputation of being extremely fast-paced. And it is: an accounting program in the ’80s would have been written in COBOL. In the ’90s it would have been written with a RAD (Rapid Application Developer) environment such as Delphi or Visual Basic. In the... ’00s (noughties?), today, the same application would probably be written as a web system, possibly using all of the “Web 2.0” technologies to make it responsive and highly usable.
This article explores the legal problems that will be faced by free-design communities developing hardware for space.
I have learned that distributed problems require distributed solutions—that centralization of power, the first resort of politicians who feed on crisis, is actually worse than useless, because centralizers regard the more effective coping strategies as threats and act to thwart them.—Eric Raymond
Software patents are the software project equivalent of land mines: Each design decision carries a risk of stepping on a patent, which can destroy your project.