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.
“Former Soviet Union” is a term that often makes people think of a somehow original concept of freedom and democracy. You can observe some heritage looking, for instance, at the facts of today’s Belarus [1,2] and Turkmenistan [3,4].
Anyway, even there, people always have had the will to express their ideas and opinions. Think, for instance, of the samizdat , or of the dissidents.
Free Software Magazine is obviously about free software. Many readers may also know that we create our magazine using free software. But, not only do we use free software, we also develop it.
I have developed the LaTeX class that we use to typeset the individual articles and each complete issue. Even though the class isn’t very well written (it is getting there!), whenever someone asks me to provide our LaTeX class, I do send a complete starter’s kit for turning LaTeX into a magazine typesetter; well... sort of.
Yes, I am a big LaTeX fan.
It might surprise you, but there is a time limit on free software. Clause 3b of the GPL states that the written offer of source is good for three years. However, there is no dictate on the turn-around time between the request of source code, and its deliverance. Has anyone spotted a problem yet?
I am upset. If you write quite a bit, you learn a rule: you must never, ever write when you are upset. In such a state, clarity simply goes out the window and what you think is a masterpiece turns out to be... a pile of incomprehensible, misspelled crap.
I am doing it anyway. A disclaimer: I'm publishing this article "as is" - no spell check, no Dave Guard turning my atrocious English into... well, English.
(Actually, this article has had minor editing after publication - D.G.)
I am deeply upset and saddened by O'Gara's article on Pamela Jones of GrokLaw.
Free software, not just Linux, is a major problem for Microsoft. It’s a big mistake thinking they don’t understand free software, or its mechanics.
They understand it all too well, and they don’t like it - not one little bit!
The problem Microsoft has with free software is that it benefits the customer directly, not the software IP holders. The ways to make money from free software are:
- to use it (Google, Amazon etc.);
- to service the guys using it (RedHat, IBM, SuSE etc.);
- to include it as part of your product (Linksys etc).
The crusty old geek with 30 years of experience can’t get a word in as Adam, the 19 year old hot-shot system administrator, tells everyone how to do their jobs. “Your opinion really doesn’t matter, dude, you’re like old”, he says, as he adjusts his Linux World t-shirt. As BrokenToothpicks.Com stock soars to $300 a share and its 24 year old high school dropout CEO lashes out against the “old way of doing things”, Adam just might be right. People start to listen to these new brainiacs and Dot Com Rockstars who can do no wrong. Adam thinks he’s God. How can he not?
IBM’s London "Linux on Power" event, held on the evening of September 22nd in central London at the Planetarium, began at 7.00 p.m.
The start of the night
Ubuntu has become increasing popular amongst many Linux users, especially users trying Linux for the first time. Just why is Ubuntu so popular? I’ll explore some of its features and distributions this month, including Kubuntu and Edubuntu, and try to find out.
Ubuntu, according to their website, is “Linux for Human Beings”. Ubuntu, an ancient African word meaning “humanity to others”, is a community designed Linux distribution based on Debian that is designed to be as user-friendly as possible.
US bankruptcy law has hitherto been fairly liberal, allowing people to restart their lives after a financial collapse by legally eliminating debts and leaving the individual with sufficient resources to rebuild. Entrepreneurs, finding traditional business capital difficult to obtain during the critical seed phase when their ideas have not really been proven, have been willing to take that risk of personal financial failure in the name of pursuing new and risky innovative business plans—just the kind needed in a society whose status quo is not sustainable.
If you’re connected to the internet, you are vulnerable to attacks. I don’t care what operating system, which browser, what firewall, anti-virus, or anti-spyware you have installed—there’s a vulnerability on your system somewhere. Even the tools security researchers use to analyze attacks can be used against their owners as a way of breaking into their machines.
Toward the end of 2005 I was reading about “the year for Linux” everywhere I went. No matter where I looked, I always found articles by GNU/Linux fans (like me) that expected this year (2006) to be “the year for Linux” (once and for all). In fact, it’s been quite a few years now that I’ve been reading that “this will be the year for Linux”. And let me tell you something: I don’t want the year for Linux to come... ever! Period.
The battle between individual rights and the powers of the State is reaching a frenzy across the globe. Never before has technology given us such freedom to create, to invent, and to escape traditional boundaries. And never before has technology given the State such a chance to control us. In this series of articles exclusive to Free Software Magazine, I’ll take you into some of the warzones and show you what it’s like at the front-line...
The rise of the machines
Demonstrations over the proposed “Software Patent Directive” in Europe (since rejected by the EU Parliament) were sometimes quite theatrical, and involved at least one “naval battle”. Mikko Rauhala created an ingenious way to counteract the influence of large corporations who were promoting the idea that software patents should be allowed in Europe—he collected pledges of money from the public to offer as bribes to politicians. A “Software Patent Violation Contest” was also organised.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is the visible front of the current standards battle royale: in this corner, at 220 pounds, Open Document Format (ODF)! In the other corner, the 800 pound gorilla, Microsoft Office 12 XML format! Hopefully, we won’t get caught in the explosion.
The day my father blew himself up
I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries.—Carl Sagan, Cosmos
Most IT people seem to have a really bad habit: reinventing the wheel. While sometimes this is “justified” by ethical requirements (see the big Gnome vs. KDE mess), often the problem is caused by ignorance.
When I think about American presidential elections, three things come to mind: money, corporate power and disenfranchisement. One of the big political stories of our time is the decline of party politics, especially for the young. But another story is that of the internet revitalising democracy, empowering and connecting citizens in a new, vibrant space. Often Utopian, theoretical and romanticised, this vision of the future was made real in the race for the Democratic presidential candidacy recently in America by Howard Dean.
The third International Forum on Free Knowledge brought together many groups and individuals interested in the development of free software worldwide to the city of Maracaibo. One reason Venezuela choose to host this event is because starting in January (2006), their new free software law, directive 3.390, comes into effect, which mandates all government agencies to migrate to free software over a two year period. I was invited to speak about Telephonia Libre: the use of free software in telecommunications.
A good scientist is a person with original ideas. A good engineer is a person who makes a design that works with as few original ideas as possible. There are no prima donnas in engineering.—Freeman Dyson
Imagine where free software would be today if it weren’t for the GNU C Compiler! Just as free software depends heavily on free compilers, so does free design rely on having free computer aided design and authoring tools.