Issue 1

Issue 1

Richard Stallman’s blog

Bolivia (La Paz) (August 12, 2004 to August 17, 2004)

I am now visiting La Paz, Bolivia. The city is on the edge of the altiplano, starting on the plain at 13000 feet and running down through a connected series of valleys. The result is amazing beauty. Traveling between neighborhoods often means seeing marvelous vistas. The snow-capped mountain Illimani can also be seen from much of the city.

La Paz in BoliviaLa Paz in Bolivia

Let’s not forget our roots

GNU/Linux is growing all the time: new software is being created; new copies downloaded or bought; new users are discovering free software for the first time. With this growth we have seen the rise of polished distributions, sales-minded distributors, “XX” software is being released, and so free software is gaining commercial success in many fields. Even governments, from Peru to the UK, are now racing to use free software. But governments seem to be the only ones who are talking about switching specifically because they want free software, not just stable, secure and powerful software.

The Commons

The concept of the commons has a long heritage. The Romans distinguished between different categories of property, these were: Firstly, res privatæ, which consisted of things capable of being possessed by an individual or family. The second, res publicæ, which consisted of things built and set aside for public use by the state, such as public buildings and roads. The third, res communes, which consisted of natural things used by all, such as the air, water and wild animals.

The content tail wags the IT dog

The content industries have conspicuously failed to create a business model based on paid content over public IP networks, but still cling to the idea that those networks were created for just that use. Any software or system which might interfere with this theoretical paid content business is considered not just heretical, but probably criminal. The music and movie consortia have turned the transition to network distribution into a “with us or against us” battleground, with most of their customers fighting for the wrong side.

RIAA, copyright and file sharing

Smarter password management

Your dog’s name... your anniversary... your childrens’ initials, birthday, or birth weight... your favorite hobby, or the name of your boat. Which one do you use for your password? Network Administrators and hackers know that most people choose passwords like these to protect anything from logging into web-based bulletin boards to buying things online.

Every engineer’s checklist for justifying free software

In a few years viewing source code within the major components of software infrastructure will probably be a routine way of doing business. In the meantime it seems that the only reason managers want free software is because it is free (as in free of costs). That’s not a good reason in itself: in the long run there are compelling reasons that robust, mission critical infrastructure software should be made free software.

The magic of live CDs

A “Live CD” is a bootable CD, which contains pre-configured software, this allows the user to be productive without accessing any other hard drives (unless the user wants to store information).

Why would anyone want to have to carry around a CD, rather than having a desktop or laptop computer, which is fully installed and ready to go?

The value brought by live CDs is not immediately obvious to the majority of users

Mac OS X: Welcome to the jungle

If software platforms are habitats, the Mac OS X platform is surely the jungle.

Mac OS X is a modern Unix-based operating system that combines the classic Unix/X11 environment, a modern Java toolset and runtime, the classic Mac OS Carbon framework, and the NextStep-derivative Cocoa framework in an elegant and user-friendly operating environment. This diversity of strongly supported programming options, combined with Apple’s modern hardware and operating system, presents developers and users with a compelling platform for producing and using software packages.

Creating Free Software Magazine

This magazine was inspired by a conversation I had with a great friend of mine called Massimo. I said to Massimo “I think it would be great to start a magazine. It’s my ideal job, and I think I know what the world needs right now. It’s a pity there’s no money in publishing, and I’m not willing to run a magazine that doesn’t pay it’s contributors well...”. His answer was very simple: “Tony, there’s money everywhere, as long as you do something good and promote it well”. Well, seeing that he has a successful business, I thought I would listen.

Free file formats and the future of intellectual freedom

So far, proprietary formats have been maintained through a number of short-term tricks, but the advantages of free formats become clearer in the long run. Business and the computer industry have tended to be very shortsighted. However there are some important classes of technically proficient users with a much longer outlook, whose needs can only be met by free file formats. If we in the free software community want to see free formats take hold, we need to address the needs of these users.

Format Wars

Real programmers love their applications’ source code: the faster and more elegant it is, the better. Users are after very different things: they seem to want simplicity, flashy colors, nice icons and tons of options. In spite of these reasons, or perhaps because of them, programmers and users often forget what lies in the middle of it all: information.

Who owns the information?

Welcome to the first Free Software Magazine

I would have liked to start this editorial defining what free software is, but I found myself writing – and deleting – my sentences time and again.

The problem is that free software means different things to different people. To some, free software is a way to save money in licensing fees and technical support. To some, it’s a way of sharing their skills (which they do for different reasons: research, personal development, money, etc). And to others free software is a movement, a way of life.

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