Issue 12

Issue 12

Freedom, as in fighting for

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

Structured writing with LyX

In the hubbub over the Open Document Format and competing “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) word processors, a long-standing alternative model of word processing systems, with much deeper roots in the free software world, has been mostly overlooked. The author of LyX, Matthias Ettrich, calls this approach “what you see is what you mean” (WYSIWYM). However, it’s a philosophy that you will find in many “native” free software text-processing systems everywhere, from online “content management systems” to book publishing.

Hardening Linux Web Servers

Security is a process, not a result. It is a process which is difficult to adopt under normal conditions; the problem is compounded when it spans several job descriptions. All the system level security in the world is rendered useless by insecure web-applications. The converse is also true—programming best practices, such as always verifying user input, are useless when the code is running on a server which hasn’t been properly hardened.

I hope the year for Linux never comes

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.

A beginner’s introduction to the GNU/Linux command line

So you have decided to try a free software operating system such as GNU/Linux, congratulations. GNU/Linux is not that different from other operating systems on the surface. You point and click using the mouse and call down menus to get programs to work.

However, these icons and windows are just the sweet candy coating on top of a much older system, a system of programs designed to be accessed by the command line.

Towards a free matter economy (Part 6)

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

Secure your email communication with free software

Email is one of the most common activities we perform on the internet. However, email is also one of the most vulnerable internet services currently used. Email spam is common, but what most people are not aware of is that email identity theft is common as well. There is also continuous concern over the privacy and security issues surrounding the matter. However, most users dismiss security software as complex and still continue to send email messages with very little or no regard at all to security.

The GP2x PDA

Games under GNU/Linux have usually been a lacklustre affair. For every Tux Racer, there are a hundred sub-standard Pac-man clones you’d be embarrassed to advocate. For every commercial version of Quake, there’s a hundred other worthy games the publisher elected not to port to GNU/Linux. Without good games, there’s no market, and without the market, no effort is spared. And so the cycle continues. In this article, I will look at two of the areas in which GNU/Linux games have succeeded, and a new device that combines them both, which could help expose GNU/Linux to the populous.

Editorial

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.

Interview of Frank Mittelbach

Free Software Magazine and the TeX Users Group (TUG) both like to publish interviews. Recently, Gianluca Pignalberi of Free Software Magazine and Dave Walden of TUG both approached Frank Mittelbach about interviewing him. Rather than doing two separate interviews, Mittelbach, Pignalberi, and Walden decided on a combined interview in keeping with the mutual interests already shared by Free Software Magazine and TUG.

DW: Frank, please start by telling us a bit about yourself and how you got involved with LaTeX.

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Interview with Dave Mohyla, of DTIDATA

Dave Mohyla is the president and founder of dtidata.com, a hard drive recovery facility based in Tampa, Florida.

TM: Where are you based? What does your company do?
DTI Data recovery is based in South Pasadena, Florida which is a suburb of Tampa. We have been here for over 10 years. We operate a bio-metrically secured class 100 clean room where we perform hard drive recovery on all types of hard disks, from laptop hard drives to multi drive RAID systems.

Interview with Mark Shuttleworth

Mark Shuttleworth is the founder of Thawte, the first Certification Authority to sell public SSL certificates. After selling Thawte to Verisign, Mark moved on to training as an astronaut in Russia and visiting space. Once he got back he founded Ubuntu, the leading GNU/Linux distribution. He agreed on releasing a quick interview to Free Software Magazine.

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Free Open Document label templates

If you’ve ever spent hours at work doing mailings, cursed your printer for printing outside the lines on your labels, or moaned “There has got to be a better way to do this,” here’s the solution you’ve been looking for. Working smarter, not harder! Worldlabel.com, a manufacture of labels offers Open Office / Libre Office labels templates for downloading in ODF format which will save you time, effort, and (if you want) make really cool-looking labels

Creating a user-centric site in Drupal

A little while ago, while talking in the #drupal mailing list, I showed my latest creation to one of the core developers there. His reaction was "Wow, I am always surprised what people use Drupal for". His surprise is somehow justified: I did create a site for a bunch of entertainers in Perth, a company set to use Drupal to take over the world with Entertainers.Biz.

Update: since writing this article, I have updated the system so that the whole booking process happens online. I will update the article accordingly!

So, why, why do people and companies develop free software?

More and more people are discovering free software. Many people only do so after weeks, or even months, of using it. I wonder, for example, how many Firefox users actually know how free Firefox really is—many of them realise that you can get it for free, but find it hard to believe that anybody can modify it and even redistribute it legally.

When the discovery is made, the first instinct is to ask: why do they do it? Programming is hard work. Even though most (if not all) programmers are driven by their higher-than-normal IQs and their amazing passion for solving problems, it’s still hard to understand why so many of them would donate so much of their time to creating something that they can’t really show off to anybody but their colleagues or geek friends.

Sure, anybody can buy laptops, and just program. No need to get a full-on lab or spend thousands of dollars in equipment. But... is that the full story?

Fun articles

Santa Claus - the most successful open source project

It dawned on me the other day, as I was shopping for the dozens of gifts it seems I have to buy every December (this year, I bought myself a holiday accommodation in Denmark, WA!), that Santa Claus is the most successful open source project in history. (Bridget @ Illiterarty would agree with that). Santa Claus is essentially a marketing development that is embodied by everyone who stuffs a sock, gives a gift, hosts a dinner or wishes Merry Christmas over the holiday season.

The next big thing in personal computing

As far as personal computing, there has been a strong shift, in the last few years, towards multimedia contents. It started with digital cameras in phones, around 2003, which is when people really started taking a lot pictures with their phones, and started using their computers to organise them. They also started using MP3 players, and having to manage their music. If pictures and music weren't big and cumbersome enough, people also started managing their movie libraries (even though today a lot of people give up and opt for a cheap satellite TV subscription from sites like http://www.saveontvdirect.com/) instead, as movies still are too big to manage for a lot of people...

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Editorial

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.

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