Issue 17

Issue 17

Desktop diagramming with Dia and Kivio

Don't let the simplicity of use fool you. Both Kivio and Dia, two free software diagramming tools, are very efficient at what they do. If you need to design a complex flow chart or create a no-fuss UML diagram then you could do a lot worse than to choose either of these packages. The tools have 90% of the expected functionality with only 10% of the hassle and fuss that more complex and unnecessarily feature rich proprietary diagramming tools deliver. The learning curve is small and the end result is potentially professional.

Free software philosophy in business

When we enter the world of “free and open source software”, most of us will choose one or the other philosophy. This choice is usually made easy by the people that guide us when we enter this world. We are at a point where the philosophies behind free software, which have been heralded by Richard M. Stallman and others, are threatened; as more people make the jump away from proprietary operating systems, less of them know about these philosophies. Fewer people will weigh the decision for themselves.

What is the difference?

Backup your workstation with Backup Manager

Backing up is one of those tedious jobs that has to be done but is usually relegated to the end of the To Do list. Enter Backup Manager, which is a set of Bash and Perl scripts that alleviate the tediousness of performing backups. Taking away some of the complexity of backup tools and combining others, Backup Manager is similar to other backup programs like my pc backup in that it brings simplicity to backing up. Obtaining a higher level view of backups also allows easier management of archives including retention. What follows is a method of backing up a single workstation daily and managing those backups.

OpenXDAS

No one would argue that software auditing is not an important feature of mission critical applications. If a software based process is critical to the life of your company, then so is the security and access control surrounding resources managed by that software based process. Auditing is the way you track who did what to what and when it happened. Lately, however, the software industry has been lackadaisical at best regarding auditing. Off the shelf software developers either care about auditing, or they don’t.

What’s a GNU/Linux distribution?

By now, almost everyone who has a computer has heard about something called “Linux”. Usually, what they hear goes something like this—“Well, Linux is free, but it’s very difficult to use. Don’t try it unless you’re a computer expert”. There is also generally talk about how “Linux” is incompatible with equipment like digital cameras, printers, and games. In short, “Linux” is generally thought to be a free but experts-only operating system. Fortunately for those of us who aren’t computer experts, almost all of these “facts” about “Linux” are completely wrong.

Making waves with Audacity

For me there is nothing quite as relaxing as the sounds of the beach. The slow crashing of waves and the gentle lapping of water in the tide pools really helps me find my inner calm. Of course, I could do without the smell of rotting fish carcasses, the constantly screeching gulls and the looming threat of melanoma. So I decided to create my own virtual beach experience using some free sound clips from the internet and the free software package called Audacity. I’ve got all the relaxation without the annoying dead fish, dive bombing birds and sunburn.

Introduction

The simplest way to make databases in OpenOffice.org

Do you need to make a database, but fear it’s too much of a pain or you don’t have the right tools? Don’t worry: it’s easy, free, and useful, too. Use the free OpenOffice.org office suite to get your data in shape for mail merges, queries, or useful analysis of your business data.

What’s the point of making a database?

Yudit: edit your multi-language text easily

In this article I will show you how to write multi-language texts without the cumbersome OpenOffice.org. Back in 1999, the Hungarian Gáspár Sinai needed to edit Hungarian and Japanese texts. So he decided to write an editor that was Unicode [1] compliant. Once he had done the basic work, it was a straightforward task to include other languages, and Yudit [2] was born.

Yudit was built for Unix, but Sinai did do a version for Windows.

ODF/OOXML technical white paper

I was asked by the UK Action Group of the Open Document Format Alliance to write a white paper on the technical differences between ODF and OOXML. After much agonizing, correcting, having others correct my mistakes, suggestions, changes and drafts I still have got something that may be alright to be previewed by all. The actual documents are in ftp://officeboxsystems.com/odfa_ukag both as a “PDF” and an “ODT” (Open Document Format).

The following is a transcribed version of the white paper. Although it has all the Free Software Magazine formatting constraints which means that the information is not as clearly presented, so therefore I recommend you to download the document from the above URL. It is here primary for reference purposes.

Enjoy.

Interview with Rob Fraser

This article provides a real world perspective into why businesses move to and stick with free software. In this interview, Rob Fraser, from the premiere New Zealand open solutions company Egressive Limited (egressive.com), shares insights into why free software can benefit any business. The interview briefly covers: VPNs, spam filtration and risk mitigation, among other topics.

Burning CDs in GNOME

The GNOME desktop environment comes with a simple and single-minded CD burner application built into the Nautilus file manager (not dissimilar to what Microsoft bundles with Windows XP’s Windows Explorer and Vista’s Explorer) that can handle a lot of your file burning needs. But what do you do if you need more complex tasks done, like burning or ripping an ISO file, or creating an audio CD?

The seven sins of programmers

Programmers. The system administrators worship their bit twiddling capabilities. The users exchange vast quantities of beer for new features and tools. And the project managers sell their souls when they make the magic work. But inside the average programmer’s psyche are several demons that need exorcising.

Pride

Welcome to Free Software Magazine—again!

As many of you already know, I founded Free Software Magazine in 2004. The idea was to create a printed magazine about free software. Our focus was on the paper version, and therefore the website was somewhat neglected. The way the magazine evolved showed us that that initial decision was a mistake. People clearly didn’t want another paper magazine—the popularity of our web site, and the lack of interest in the paper magazine, showed clearly that we needed to focus more on the online audience.

Most forwarded

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.

Hosting service favorites: Gallery

Sharing photos has become one of the more popular methods of sharing information on the internet. A wide range of different people, groups and organisations are using photo sharing as a way both to promote their activities or simply to share their photos with friends and family. Some companies, for example, are using online photo systems to show product shots (like the shop for electric bikes in Perth, others to enable users and customers to provide examples of the company products in use. Many professionals are using photo software to advertise and show off their expertise and portfolios.

Most emailed

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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