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Free software liberates Venezuela

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.

Map of VenezuelaMap of Venezuela

Book review: Just Say No To Microsoft: How To Ditch Microsoft And Why It’s Not As Hard As You Think by Tony Bove

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!

Interview with Orv Beach @ SCALE

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!

The interview

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

Book review: Perl Best Practices by Damian Conway

The book is published by O’Reilly, who don’t need any introduction. Conway, the book’s author and fellow Australian (but no, his nationality didn’t influence my judgement on the book!), is working on Perl 6 with Larry Wall, the man who created Perl in the first place.

The book’s coverThe book’s cover

Book review: SEOBOOK: Search Engine Optimization by Aaron Matthew Wall

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.

The book’s cover The book’s cover

Does free software make sense for your enterprise?

“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

Interview with Patrick Luby

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?

Book review: Producing Open Source Software by Karl Fogel

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.

The book’s coverThe book’s cover

Book review: Moving to Linux by Marcel Gagne

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.

The book’s coverThe book’s cover

A practical guide that takes the reader on a step-by-step journey into the world of GNU/Linux

The contents

FSM staff launch!

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:

Patents Kill

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.

Book review: A practical Guide to Linux. Commands, Editors and Shell Programming by Mark G. Sobell

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.

The book’s cover The book’s cover

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.

Book review: Randal Schwartz’s Perls of Wisdom by Randal L Schwartz

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.

The book’s cover The book’s cover

A conversation with Bruce Snyder of the Geronimo project

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.)

Book review: Ending Spam—Bayesian Content Filtering and the Art of Statistical Language Classification

For a lot of people, thoughts about spam are limited to a burst of bad language and perhaps a brief marvel at the sheer volume of organisations that want to help fix aspects of other people’s genitalia. However, there is more to spam than expletives. Spam doesn’t just magically appear in your mailbox, it has a history and so does the battle against it. There are some pretty interesting and innovative weapons available to combat the evil that is spam. And some of those weapons are examined in Ending Spam: Bayesian Content Filtering and the Art of Statistical Language Classification

Why do companies outsource?

The crusty old geek with 30 years of experience can’t get a word in as Adam, the 19 year old hot-shot system administrator, tells everyone how to do their jobs. “Your opinion really doesn’t matter, dude, you’re like old”, he says, as he adjusts his Linux World t-shirt. As BrokenToothpicks.Com stock soars to $300 a share and its 24 year old high school dropout CEO lashes out against the “old way of doing things”, Adam just might be right. People start to listen to these new brainiacs and Dot Com Rockstars who can do no wrong. Adam thinks he’s God. How can he not?

Let’s take care of our memory

It was late at night in Sydney. I was at John Paul’s house—the man behind MySource. We hadn’t seen each other for years, and we had spent the whole day helping his parents move house, so we did what old friends do: we talked about anything and everything. The conversation somehow turned to neural damage and freak accidents (our backs must have hurt).

Newsletter announcement

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Linux on the desktop: are we nearly there yet?

Alright, I admit it, up ‘til a couple of weeks ago I was still running Windows 2000 Professional. In my defence, I have been using all the free software I could on Windows—primarily Open Office, Firefox and Thunderbird. I was a bit reluctant to go through all the trouble of migrating across to a GNU/Linux distribution for two reasons. First, because my PDA and stereo bluetooth headset require software which doesn’t run on Linux. Secondly, I was a little intimidated by having to go back to using a command line after so long just using a GUI.


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