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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.

How to recover from a broken RAID5

In this article I will describe an experience I had that began with the failure of some RAID5 disks at the Hospital of Pediatric Especialties, where I work. While I wouldn’t wish such an event on my worst enemy, it was something that made me learn about the power of knowledge—a deep knowledge, which is so important in the hacking culture.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Interview with Robert Fanini @ GroundWork

The world of free software and the world venture capitalism don’t seem to have much in common. However, they are not as far from each other as it seems. Venture capitalists are getting more and more interested in free software. Robert agreed on answering a few questions to shed light on this issue.

TM: Please introduce yourself, tell our readers who you are and what you do.

Interview with Miguel De Icaza

Miguel is one of the founders of the GNOME project. His enthusiasm and leadership have been crucial for the development of GNOME. He also started the MONO project, which is one of the key technologies behind GNOME at the moment. Miguel kindly agreed on answering some of our questions about MONO.

TM: Miguel, first of all I’d like to ask you a personal question: are you enjoying yourself at the moment? How are the United States treating you?

Why I’m not a programmer today

My exposure to computers began at about the age of seven. This was probably mostly thanks to my grandfather being a member of the New Zealand Computing Society and my father always being keen on the latest technology. In the mid eighties, I got my first computer, a Sinclair ZX Spectrum; I recall transcribing code from a book and then recording it to tape so that I could play the games I had produced. I used to love it, and even in those early days it was clear that I had a predisposition to problem solving and an analytical mind.

Letters

Inaccuracies in “Promoting free software on non-free platforms”

Dear FSM,

Chris J. Karr’s article, “Promoting free software on non-free platforms” makes several mistakes which I feel deserve a response. I am one of those who believe that free software is fundamentally about human freedom, so the question of whether or not to port free software to non-free platforms depends only on whether doing so would promote human freedom or not.

Free software 2.0

Free software (and open source) license models have become the most influential force in business IT to date. The first part of this article presents a brief history of free software, combined with the findings from an analysis of the attitudes and expectations, across several hundred large and medium-sized businesses, relating to free software. The second part of this article presents Delphi Group’s vision for the next wave of commercial free software, where demand is driven not by cost alone, but foremost by quality of service and increased agility.

The internet’s plague: spam

When the internet became a “thing” for the masses, it was around 1995. Well, it was a little earlier for some, and later for some others, but I think 1995 is a pretty good point of reference.

At the time, we all thought the internet could be a_ utopia_, a place where nothing really bad could happen because we were all connected to one another - almost literally.

Anonymity made things even more exciting: there was the freedom to be however we wanted to be (who has never, ever lied on IRC?!?) and to join groups we’d never dreamed of joining before.

Xen, the virtual machine monitor

Virtualization is set to become a key requirement for every server in the data center. This trend is a direct consequence of an industry-wide focus on the need to reduce the Total Cost of Operation (TCO) of enterprise computing infrastructure. In spite of the widespread adoption of relatively cheap, industry standard x86-based servers, enterprises have seen costs and complexity escalate rapidly.

Virtualization is set to become a key requirement for every server in the data center

Enough is enough

I am upset. If you write quite a bit, you learn a rule: you must never, ever write when you are upset. In such a state, clarity simply goes out the window and what you think is a masterpiece turns out to be... a pile of incomprehensible, misspelled crap.

I am doing it anyway. A disclaimer: I'm publishing this article "as is" - no spell check, no Dave Guard turning my atrocious English into... well, English.

(Actually, this article has had minor editing after publication - D.G.)

I am deeply upset and saddened by O'Gara's article on Pamela Jones of GrokLaw.

Finding alternatives in developing software

Developing software within the free software model can be achieved with all sorts of different tools, but choosing the right tools can make a big difference to the success of your project. Even if you are developing a proprietary solution, there are benefits to using free software tools to achieve it. But what free software tools are available? In this article I’m going to look at the development tools available, from languages and libraries to development environments, as well as examining the issues surrounding the use of free software tools by comparison to their proprietary equivalents.

Book review: Unix Power Tools 3rd edition by Shelley Powers, Jerry Peek, Tim O’Reilly and Mike Loukides

Using a Unix system requires a lot of knowledge, and it’s common to see Unix users and administrators spending a lot of time reading handbooks, tutorials and man pages to find out the “right” sequence of keystrokes. In the publishing world there is a little pearl, a single source of information about Unix and how to use it: Unix Power Tools, published by O’Reilly and Associates. O’Reilly is a well known publisher of Unix books; in this one, you’ll see Tim O’Reilly himself as an author!

The cover of Unix Power Tools 3rd editionThe cover of Unix Power Tools 3rd edition

Book review: Unix Power Tools 3rd edition by Shelley Powers, Jerry Peek, Tim O’Reilly and Mike Loukides

Using a Unix system requires a lot of knowledge, and it’s common to see Unix users and administrators spending a lot of time reading handbooks, tutorials and man pages to find out the “right” sequence of keystrokes. In the publishing world there is a little pearl, a single source of information about Unix and how to use it: Unix Power Tools, published by O’Reilly and Associates. O’Reilly is a well known publisher of Unix books; in this one, you’ll see Tim O’Reilly himself as an author!

The book’s cover The book’s cover

The contents

What is the next (r)evolution?

I’m not sure if it’s correct to talk about the internet as a revolution. The internet is in fact the result of a slow, hard earned evolution which has lasted about 30 years (!). Slowly, during these years, the costs of laying cables has dropped, the CPU was... well, invented (in 1974, the Intel 4004), processing power and memory have increased exponentially and the basic protocols were created (in 1972, the telnet protocol).

Richard Stallman’s blog

Response to Fox News Article (January 31, 2005)

Jim Prendergast’s recent article mistakenly called me a “leader in the open source community”. While I appreciate the praise that might be read into that expression, it is not the case: I do not advocate “open source” and never did. I founded the Free Software Movement in 1984. “Free”, here refers to freedom, not price; specifically the freedom to redistribute and change the software you use. With free software, the users control the software; with non-free software, the developer has control of the software and its users.

Open source is a market force

Companies seek to counter their competition in a variety of ways - pricing, packaging, branding, etc. There are a lot of options and any good product manager will know them well. One of the toughest situations to be in is that of competition, with the usual responses, when you are up against a competitor using the natural forces of the market place. Marketers refer to these tectonic shifts as “shocks”, because they are unusual events. They change the way the game is played, and once that change is made, there is usually no going back. The change is structural.

A laptop, a coffee, and disaster recovery

Last week, my laptop died a sudden spectacular death-by-drowning, as a full cup of coffee poured into its keyboard. It emitted a pop sound, and the screen and the power shut off.

What would your reaction be? Mine was to immediately unplug the power cord and remove the battery. Then I took it over to the sink and poured out the coffee. Remembering tales of people flushing keyboards with water, I ran some fresh water over the keys and then set to work. I removed the keyboard, the palm rest, a few of the inner cards, and let it sit without power for several hours. Apparently, not long enough.

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