Measures on the command line

In an earlier article I promised to demonstrate more 'magic words' for the command line. All you do is open a terminal, enter the magic word, hit Enter – and cool things happen! The magic word this time is units. The GNU Units program isn't installed by default in most Linux distributions, so you'll probably need to install it from your distribution's repository. Also, until you get to know GNU Units, I recommend that you enter units -v (v for verbose) on the command line. This makes the output a little more easy to understand.

The GNU Units program converts quantities from one unit system to another.

Choosing and Using Free Licenses for Software, Hardware, and Aesthetic works

What is this "Free Culture" thing? What is "Free Software"? And how do I get my work out there? If you're looking to participate in the "Commons", you'll need to get comfortable with the idea of free, public licenses and how to use them for your works. This won't be hard at all, especially with this short guide, but there are different traditions that have sprung up around different kinds of works.

Rule #5: Be Bold!

One of the first rules that entrepreneurs learn is that investors don't like revolutionary new ideas. Even when they work, the reasoning goes, they won't make you any money. Instead, investors want to see "innovative" ideas: ideas that push the existing envelope a little further, but don't totally change the map. With free culture projects, however, the situation is precisely inverted: people don't get as excited about contributing to merely "innovative" projects, they want to make "revolutionary" change in the world. High ambitions attract good company, and free licensed projects will do better not to set their sights too low.

Rule #4: Grow, Don't Build

Since free software and other free culture products are formed by an organic, incrementalist process, they tend to be highly organic in their design as well. Free software is not so much built as it is grown. Thus, when considering a new project, you must think not about how to break it down into implementable chunks that can be assembled into a working product, but rather about how the project can organically grow—moving from working product to working product as it does so—becoming progressively more useful as it is developed.

Unjustifiable Criticism of Richard Stallman by Linus Torvalds

A recent attack piece against Richard Stallman was written by Linus Torvalds on the eve of Obama's election.

Black and white by Linus Torvalds

Linus begins with this:

So I'm pretty well-known for not exactly being a huge fan of the FSF and Richard Stallman, despite the fact that I obviously love the GPLv2 and use it as the license for all my projects that I care about.

Stephen Fry wishes GNU/Linux a happy 25th birthday

I was surprised and delighted to find this video presentation by one of my favorite performers, Stephen Fry, called "Happy Birthday to GNU", on the GNU project homepage.

Posted on September 1st, in honor of GNU's 25th anniversary, it turns out to be only the latest in a series of entries on Mr. Fry's official blog site praising the virtues of free software.

Linux: has the horse bolted?

Richard Stallman wants to popularise the term GNU/Linux instead of using the currently popular term Linux. He correctly states that the term Linux, besides being thoroughly inaccurate, totally fails to introduce new users to the legal and philosophical concepts that underlie the basis of the GNU/Linux OS; but is it feasible to make such a change at this late stage?

Some weeks ago, trolling through prospective articles for Free Software Daily, I encountered a blog, describing the evolution of “Linux”. It was aimed at Newbies. The blog correctly described Linus Torvalds as the creator of the Linux kernel and a few more recent developments, but that was it. No mention was made that Richard Stallman actually created much of what is now called “Linux”, no mention of the GPL, or how it works, no mention of the copyleft legal concept and no mention of other responsibilities placed on users and developers.

All of Richard Stallman's worst fears confirmed in one blog.

Autotools: a practitioner's guide to Autoconf, Automake and Libtool

There are few people who would deny that Autoconf, Automake and Libtool have revolutionized the free software world. While there are many thousands of Autotools advocates, some developers absolutely hate the Autotools, with a passion. Why? Let me try to explain with an analogy.

How to love Free Software in 3 steps: configure, make, make install

I recently re-read the article how to hate free software in 3 easy steps by Steven Goodwin. I'm no programmer, but then I've also installed a few distributions myself. And frankly, I have trouble relating to that post.

Several points were made in the article's comments, some being that non-programmers don't compile from source anyway, compiling from source requires you to be a programmer, and other operating systems don't crash when you tinker with their partitions.

Excuse me?

Does free software taste great, or is open source less filling?

Which do you like best: the satisfying, rich taste of principle in free software? Or do you prefer the less morally filling and pragmatic goodness of open source? Do you wish people would stop endlessly rehashing the whole question of "free" versus "open source?" Or do you enjoy the chance to talk about goals and philosophy? As you might suspect, since I'm bringing it up...

The GNU GPL - a software license for yesterday, today and tomorrow

With the draft of the GNU General Public License Version 3 (GPLv3) have come many interesting comments, although not all of which I have found positive. While I understand proprietary vendors have offered complaints against a license they do not even use, I was surprised that Linus Torvalds had taken some issues which I thought were in any case misguided criticisms.

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