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.
The grassroots efforts of system administrators have brought Linux and other free software into the mainstream. To be an effective advocate for free software at work, you need to speak the language of management and convince them from their point of view. This article discusses how to present your case, why your audience makes all the difference, how to hook them with proof of cost savings, and reveals two secret weapons for your quest to promote free software.
_The two of us wrote this article together. Since each of us was several, there was already quite a crowd. We have made use of everything that came within range, what was closest as well as farthest away. We have been aided, inspired multiplied . _
JP: Code is described as many things: it is a cultural logic, a machinic operation or a process that is unfolding. It is becoming, today’s hegemonic metaphor; inspiring quasi-semiotic investigations within cultural and artistic practice (e.g. The Matrix). No-one leaves before it has set its mark on them...
As time marches on and our lives become more complicated, it seems we have less and less time to devote to that free software project we started back in our idealistic youth. Rather than abandoning a good project due to lack of time, consider seeking out the assistance of other members of the free software community. With a few simple steps you can make it easy to find volunteers to help you complete your project.
A roadmap to finding volunteers
Software is a tool, a compilation of code that directs computer hardware, a program that empowers people to work more productively. Before Richard Stallman founded the GNU Project, many outside of hacker communities would have reasonably asked: why on earth is the ethics of software distribution philosophically interesting?
Space is open to us now; and our eagerness to share its meaning is not governed by the efforts of others. We go into space because whatever mankind must undertake, free men must fully share.—John. F. Kennedy
On the third of September 2005, I was diagnosed with cancer—testicular cancer. The pain started during a party (Dave Guard, our Senior Editor, was there as well). In just one night, I went through a sudden and unexpected change: from being a young healthy person, full of life, and enjoying hanging out with his friends, to the ER of Fremantle Hospital being told that I may have cancer and I needed to be operated on immediately.
Of course, the construction of a free road does cost money, which the public must somehow pay. However, this does not imply the inevitability of toll booths. We who must in either case pay will get more value for our money by buying a free road.—Richard Stallman
It was late at night in Sydney. I was at John Paul’s house—the man behind MySource. We hadn’t seen each other for years, and we had spent the whole day helping his parents move house, so we did what old friends do: we talked about anything and everything. The conversation somehow turned to neural damage and freak accidents (our backs must have hurt).
Technical needs in the immediate aftermath of the South Asian tsunami disaster of 2004 put software development and distribution methods into sharp focus for relief groups. When volunteers were immediately available to help coordinate relief efforts, access to software slowed them down. It was evident that traditional commercial software distribution had broken down. It was untenable.
In a world where people wish to protect their work in any way, there are plenty of licenses  that protect the rights of their work, while still allowing it to be shared.
One of these licenses is the LaTeX Project Public License (LPPL) , mainly used to distribute and protect TeX-related works, but suitable, with small modifications, for works not related to TeX. This license only covers distribution and modifications of a work, while its execution is not restricted. No requirements are made concerning any offers of support for the work, as stated in the clause 1 of the LPPL.
The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement, but the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth—Niels Bohr
Alright, I admit it, up ‘til a couple of weeks ago I was still running Windows 2000 Professional. In my defence, I have been using all the free software I could on Windows—primarily Open Office, Firefox and Thunderbird. I was a bit reluctant to go through all the trouble of migrating across to a GNU/Linux distribution for two reasons. First, because my PDA and stereo bluetooth headset require software which doesn’t run on Linux. Secondly, I was a little intimidated by having to go back to using a command line after so long just using a GUI.
Inaccuracies in “Promoting free software on non-free platforms”
Chris J. Karr’s article, “Promoting free software on non-free platforms” makes several mistakes which I feel deserve a response. I am one of those who believe that free software is fundamentally about human freedom, so the question of whether or not to port free software to non-free platforms depends only on whether doing so would promote human freedom or not.
Interviews are a mainstay of the media. For journalists, they’re an excellent way to check facts, get some nice quotes or structure an article. For free software projects looking for coverage, they’re an easy way to write your own article and get it published. But getting the most out of an interview can be a fine art; journalists can misunderstand or even misrepresent what you say, and you can ruin or make your image in the eyes of the audience. The third article in this series suggests some strategies to adopt to make every interview a marketing success.
Opportunities and hazards
In recent years, digital rights management technology (DRM) has become an important issue to free software users and developers. Free software users first experienced this issue when they discovered that they were unable to legally play their DVD discs on their Linux and BSD computers. In recent months, users carefully observed a technological arms race between Apple Computer and hackers working to circumvent the FairPlay system used to protect digital files purchased from Apple’s iTunes Music Store.