Some briefs for this week

Some briefs for this week

Cool Stuff

Among other things I’m also a news editor at Linux User and Developer, and so I have to sift through a lot of material every week. In the process I find news, and a lot of “not news”. Some of the “not news” however is still interesting though, and I want to link to it somewhere—so here’s some free software goodies (and baddies) appearing on the web this week:

From O’Reilly’s

A tutorial on batch-converting files from OOo-loadable formats (including versions of Microsoft Word) to ODF format. Anyone in Massachusetts reading? You need this:From Microsoft to

A nice guide to free software operating systems presents how the different components vary between various free and partly-free distributions:

Differences between Distributions

Patents are in the news—here are some broader opinion pieces about the situation:

Discusses the negative impacts of software patents:Linux Journal: Towards the Anti-Commons

Sun exec put a sensible article under the flame-bait title “Open Source is Irrelevant”. Jonathan Schwartz, executive vice president, Sun Microsystems’ point, which is absolutely, positively correct (even if I do say so myself, and in fact I did say so myself) is that open standards are the key. He doesn’t say it, but I did℄in a world with open standards, open source will win anyway. So promoting open standards is the best way to promote open source.

Open Source is Irrelevant

A Linuxdevices articles says DRM is a bad idea. Well, yeah, I think a lot of us had that figured, actually. But Victor Yodaiken makes the point rather forcefully. File it under “ammo”:

DRM Out of Balance

A visually impaired user writes a rebuttal to claims that visual aid software is a good argument for sticking to Microsoft Word despite its refusal to support the open document format.

Visually Impaired User Weighs In on Assistive Technology Debate

An interesting article which claims there are still many miles-to-go before Linux is “ready for the desktop”. The biggest problem I see though, is that a number of these “faults” amount to Linux not being Windows, and/or not being a massive multi-national monopoly forced onto users. For example, Apple Macintosh might fail some of these criteria! Personally, I’ve been using Linux on the Desktop since 2000.

2006 is NOT the year for Linux on the Desktop

Interesting article on the state of open source CMS systems:

Mining the untapped potential of open source content management

Weird little text adventure game which sounds really boring, written in Ruby. Interesting because, (1) it’s written in Ruby, and (2) it sounds like it might involve some interesting agent programming. Probably more fun to code than to play:

Miller’s Quest

Mud, FUD, and other Crud...

From the radical software liberation front, some gloating over the “mistake” of separating the “Open Source” movement from the “Free Software” movement. Trouble is, it’s only ever been free software fanatics (i.e. the people who spit in your face when you say the words “open source”) who have ever claimed that any such distinction exists:

Let’s Burst the Open Source Bubble

A dubious presentation claiming that patents are harmless. I’m with the poster who points out that the author’s arguments only apply to commercial organizations, which is next to irrelevant where true innovation is concerned—nothing new ever comes out of corporations, they only repeat. Here it is:

Linux Today: The Truth About Patents

An amusingly ironic blog which claims that some entity called “open source” (as if it were a company or a person) has overlooked the use of free software in education. Well, maybe this is a cockeyed way of saying that we haven’t been as successful as we should be in actually getting into the classroom℄but anyone with a clue knows this is not because we’ve been ignoring it, as Debian-Edu/Skolelinux, SEUL, and lots of other projects will prove! Oh well, I think he meant well:

Open Source’s Big Blunder

Actually this is a good article, although it is a bit on the paranoid conspiracy theory side. There is an old saying though, that “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean everyone isn’t out to get you”. And we know Microsoft has it in for us, but Tom Adelstein has produced a nice guide to their malfeasance and collusion with powerful influence peddlers:

Does the DoJ use Microsoft as a shill Against Linux?

Brief summary of rebuttals against recent US-CERT statistics that have been used to claim that Windows is “safer” than Linux. If you’re reading this, you’re probably part of the choir, but let me pass you the score anyway:




muraii's picture
Submitted by muraii on

I would like a pointer to an article, or to suggest an article topic, that explores precisely for what we use, and could be using, computers. In the article linked above, "2006 is NOT the year for Linux on the Desktop", the author bemoans the fact that it is a challenge to get a variety of codecs or proprietary data systems or hardware to perform under Linux at the level at which they perform under Windows.

There is something about that (to which you refer) similar to why children in non-Western cultures generally perform poorly on IQ tests, i.e. the IQ tests are as much an examination of culture as they are of any metric of intelligence. Just as in the case of those tests—which bring to light not the deficiencies of non-Western cultures, necessarily, but the deficiency of the expectations and their fundamental principles—the relatively poor performance of hardware designed for a befuddlingly bad and popular OS under F/OSS systems should focus attention not on the shortcomings of the F/OSS system, but of the status quo of computer and software usage. Do we really need every desktop system to be as easily converted to a jukebox as a firewall/router for a home network? Why should Linux or BSD hope to bloat to encorporate everything for everyone, a motivation that doesn't scale well at all?

I would be shocked and nigh dismayed to learn that this very approach to the smouldering war hadn't been thoroughly explored already.

Author information

Terry Hancock's picture


Terry Hancock is co-owner and technical officer of Anansi Spaceworks. Currently he is working on a free-culture animated series project about space development, called Lunatics as well helping out with the Morevna Project.