software

Review: Making Software, Edited by Andy Oram and Greg Wilson

It's an old joke among programmers that questions of the efficacy of programming languages, abstraction models, management models, or other fundamental ideas of software engineering are simply "religious wars" -- i.e. conflicts impossible to resolve, because they are based on faith and superstition rather than any kind of objective evidence. And yet, a lot of important decisions are based on these ideas. So it's refreshing to see a book that attempts to apply real scientific rigor to the questions of programming and software engineering, and that's what "Making Software" gives us.

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.

2009: software installation in GNU/Linux is still broken -- and a path to fixing it

GNU/Linux is slowly invading everybody's everyday life. I won't say "The year of the GNU/Linux desktop is here". Been there, done that. But, GNU/Linux is definitely imposing its presence -- think about Android, or the number of people who are currently using GNU/Linux as their main desktop.

And yet, software installation in GNU/Linux is broken. No, not broken... it's terribly broken. Why is that, and what can be done to fix it?

Dictators in free and open source software

Some people seem to challenge the idea that most (if not all) free software projects need a benevolent dictator--that is, somebody who has the last say on every decision. They are quick to point out Linus Torvalds' past "mistakes" (see the speech marks): using BitKeeper to manage the kernel, not allowing "pluggable" schedulers in Linux, etc. As a software developer, I feel that a dictator is absolutely necessary in every free software project. Here is why.

Respect earned by the BDFL

Linux software: the kid's plan for an icy day

Hi, it's B and G, the little kids in this house. We've had a lot of ice lately. The TV says we may even lose the electricity. Dad said he needed to write his blog early this weekend. But right now, he is walking around the living room and griping about writer's block. He looks kinda funny.

So we sneaked in here to say what we don't like and do like about the computer. The adults have said what they liked, now it is the kid's turn.

A memory boost for an aging bookworm

Our family loves reading. The bookcases are full and most flat surfaces are covered with reading material. The written word seems to flow through our house, making brief stops to be read and then sent on its way. Keeping up with all our books is an activity we just haven't attempted. This weakness has resulted in books that have never been found or returned (plus some generous fines paid to our local library).

For example, while visiting a family member recently, I noticed the book “Maiden Voyage” by Tania Aebi. “I remember really enjoying that book” I said. “You should, that's your book.” was the response, “You loaned it to me months ago.”

I know my memory isn't what it once was, but I don't recall loaning out that book. How many other books have I loaned out? Who else have I loaned books? Not knowing the answers to those questions, I curiously checked the Ubuntu repositories. There I found Tellico and Alexandria Book Manager.

Ethics, employment and free software

Like most people around the world, I have to work to earn a living. And again, like the vast majority of these people, often my work requires me to carry out tasks that I might otherwise find ethically problematic. As a supporter of free culture, I have often found it difficult to reconcile my own convictions on issues such as copyright and DRM with those of my employers. In my current job, this has not been a regular problem.

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

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

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