Most IT people seem to have a really bad habit: reinventing the wheel. While sometimes this is “justified” by ethical requirements (see the big Gnome vs. KDE mess), often the problem is caused by ignorance.
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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.
Recently, a guy I know told me he had spoken to a friend of his about the possibility of installing GNU/Linux. “Hah!” Snorted his friend. “You? And GNU/Linux? Get real. That’s for hardcore geeks. You wouldn’t last.” And thus began the battle of spreading the free software word: trying to make my friend understand that GNU/Linux can ACTUALLY work for non-geeks and that making the switch won’t require him to suddenly understand jokes about binary. But, I knew all my friend really needed was a book like Linux Made Easy by Rickford Grant.
Creative computer applications are a niche, and a relatively small one at that. Even brand-leading proprietary software companies like Steinberg, the developers of the long-established Cubase music sequencer, have been recently bought out. Consolidation in the creative application market has seen Adobe buy Syntrillium, who created Cool Edit, Avid buy Digidesign and Apple buy Logic—and there are plenty of other examples.
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.
The third International Forum on Free Knowledge brought together many groups and individuals interested in the development of free software worldwide to the city of Maracaibo. One reason Venezuela choose to host this event is because starting in January (2006), their new free software law, directive 3.390, comes into effect, which mandates all government agencies to migrate to free software over a two year period. I was invited to speak about Telephonia Libre: the use of free software in telecommunications.
This book, the contents of which should be evident in the self explanatory title, makes you feel a bit revolutionary. It isn’t just the catchy headings, which are clever paraphrasings of song titles and geeky cultural refecences; it’s also the air of genuine excitment which permeates the pages, and makes you feel inspired during and after the reading process. I think many people’s continuing use of Microsoft, even when they know about the insecurities, and the bugs, and the horror, is caused by inertia. And this is just the book to get them up and off their swivel chairs!
SCALE (Southern CAlifornia Linux Expo) is an event that shouldn’t be missed by anybody who is serious about Linux. Let’s hear what Orv, one of the event’s organisers, has to say!
Can you explain, in a few words, what SCALE is?
SCALE is a grass-roots free software show, with an expo floor, and several tracks of presentations for attendees. By grass-roots, I mean that the focus is on educating the end user. This year SCALE is happening on the 11th and 12th of February at The Radisson Los Angeles Airport
SEOBOOK: Search Engine Optimization is one of those informative texts that every person who is trying to make their website successful and well known should get their hands on and now. No, I’m not exaggerating. Aaron Matthew Wall, the author, is a testament to that. How do I know? When I type “seo” into Google. Wall’s site about SEOBOOK is on the first page of over twenty-five and a half million entries. Convinced yet? You should be! SEOBOOK is an accessible, relevant, and genuinely helpful text.
“Dude, I can, like, totally do that way cheaper with Linux and stuff.” These were the words of a bearded geek running Linux on his digital watch. As he proceeded to cut and patch alpha code into the Linux kernel running on the production database system, the manager watched on in admiration. Six months later, long after the young hacker decided to move into a commune in the Santa Cruz hills, something broke. Was it really “way” cheaper?
Nostalgia and first impressions
Patrick Luby wrote the software layer which allows OpenOffice to run on Macintosh computers without running an X server. This way, OpenOffice also looks like a native application. Since OpenOffice is one of the most relevant free software projects out there, the importance of his work cannot be underestimated. Patrick agreed on answering a few questions for Free Software Magazine.
TM: Patrick, first of all: please tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do? What’s your programming background?
Many people who start an open source project just announce their project without any prior planning. But now Karl Fogel—who has worked on the development teams of CVS, GNU Emacs and, most recently, Subversion, and is also the writer of “Open Source Development with CVS”—has introduced an extremely comprehensive project guide that will change the way people begin and think about open source projects.
Moving to Linux, written by Marcel Gagne and published by Addison-Wesley, serves as a practical guide that takes the reader on a step-by-step journey into the world of GNU/Linux. This book is not for the hardcore techie, but for the person who wants to see how the common tasks they now perform in Windows can be done better with GNU/Linux.
A practical guide that takes the reader on a step-by-step journey into the world of GNU/Linux
It's been just over a year and Free Software Magazine has become an authority in the free software world.
Myself (Tony), Dave, Gianluca, Alan and others worked countless hours to create Free Software Magazine from scratch, without involving venture capitalists or investors.
We can only be happy with the result: a quality magazine on free software that gets read by thousands of people each month.
Over time, we found that even though we could publish professionally edited feature articles, we couldn't cover news in real time. In regard to real-time news:
On the third of September 2005, I was diagnosed with cancer—testicular cancer. The pain started during a party (Dave Guard, our Senior Editor, was there as well). In just one night, I went through a sudden and unexpected change: from being a young healthy person, full of life, and enjoying hanging out with his friends, to the ER of Fremantle Hospital being told that I may have cancer and I needed to be operated on immediately.
Mark Sobell, a best-selling UNIX author, has done it again: he has delivered yet another fantastic book which makes GNU/Linux easier to approach.
GNU/Linux (or “Linux”, if you want to be brief and get Mr. Stallman angry) is probably the most talked about operating system in the world right now. Even though GNU/Linux can be used without ever touching the infamous command line (thanks to distributions like Ubuntu or Suse), quite a few users out there are keen to learn how to get the most out of the Unix commands available.
Ask for some key figures in the world of Perl and it wont be long before the name Randal L Schwartz appears. Randal has, at one time or another, been a trainer of Perl, the Pumpking (responsible for managing the development of Perl), as well as a prolific writer and speaker on Perl techniques and materials. In Perls of Wisdom (Apress) he gathers together many of his talks and articles into a single book, expanding, correcting and extending them as necessary.
Geronimo, the open source Java application server sponsored by the Apache Software Foundation, has been picking up steam lately. Hard core developers are experimenting with it as a potential replacement for proprietary application servers like IBM Websphere.
(Editor’s note: In this article, the term “open source” is used rather than “free software”. In this case, they are intended to be synonymous.)