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LinuxWorld London Expo 2005

On Wednesday, October 5th, my alarm clock went off at an exceedingly uncivilized hour, whereupon I quickly donned some clothes, hurriedly grabbed some breakfast, all in order for me to race to an early train so that I might arrive at Hall 2 in Olympia, London for the 9.30 a.m. start of the 2005 LinuxWorld Expo. I arrived a few minutes early, and due to my registering for the event earlier through the internet I had a pre-printed pass in hand representing a waiver saving me the £15 registeration fee.

Free software is the problem for Microsoft

Free software, not just Linux, is a major problem for Microsoft. It’s a big mistake thinking they don’t understand free software, or its mechanics.

They understand it all too well, and they don’t like it - not one little bit!

The problem Microsoft has with free software is that it benefits the customer directly, not the software IP holders. The ways to make money from free software are:

  • to use it (Google, Amazon etc.);
  • to service the guys using it (RedHat, IBM, SuSE etc.);
  • to include it as part of your product (Linksys etc).

Switching to free software—system administrators

You are a system administrator for a small company—the captain of the firm’s computers. Doing your job well means that you may sail through the seas of information technologies unhindered, in short, the company’s IT infrastructure will stay in place. Should you mess up you will find that the email has stopped working, the web surfers are stranded and you have pinned your ship on the reefs and rocks that scatter the virtual world, or in other words, the company will not be functioning well and you be burning its money.

Free software to produce art: let’s be pragmatic

I have my kids to blame, that is certain. There I was, last Christmas, in this auditorium, listening to the crunching of popcorn from my son on my left, and the slurping of soda from my daughter on the right, trying to behave like a responsible father. The lights had dimmed and we were being inflicted with the inevitable advertisements and trailers. When, at last, the fan fair that accompanied the main feature at the cinema trumpeted out of the speakers an anticipating hush spread around the audience. Even my daughter took a break from her munching.

Skinning XMMS with BuildImage and Skencil

XMMS is a very nice program for playing music, but the default skin that comes with it is, well, “functional”. Fortunately, though, the program uses the same skin files as WinAMP 2.0 (several other programs use these skins as well, which I’ll call simply “AMP2 skins”). A “skin” is just a collection of images used to create the appearance of an application such as a music player (Figure 1).

Figure 1: XMMS unskinned (left) and with the default BuildImage Skin (right)Figure 1: XMMS unskinned (left) and with the default BuildImage Skin (right)

Free software and digital rights management

In recent years, digital rights management technology (DRM) has become an important issue to free software users and developers. Free software users first experienced this issue when they discovered that they were unable to legally play their DVD discs on their Linux and BSD computers. In recent months, users carefully observed a technological arms race between Apple Computer and hackers working to circumvent the FairPlay system used to protect digital files purchased from Apple’s iTunes Music Store.

Linux-VServer

Everyone is eager to virtualize their working environment to take advantage of the abstraction layer it provides. Some may require resource isolation for enhanced security, others may need development environments for testing and debugging. Whatever your needs are, virtualization will save you resources through utilizing them more efficiently. This is done by exploiting synergies built on proven technologies, improving availability and reducing downtime, adding scalability through duplication and gaining a certain degree of hardware independence.

Gains from virtualization

The leap from virtual host to virtual machine

Back in the good old days, when men were men, women were women and the standard way for two computers to talk to each other was through a cable plugged into the serial port, was when I first took the plunge into this “internet” thingy and signed up with an ISP. Then, armed with a modem, a telephone line that doubled as a fax, Netscape 1.1 and a sense of adventure, I surfed web sites, emailed the few others I knew who had also taken the plunge and joined in on worldwide discussions on what we called “News Groups”.

Newsflash!

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is an XML based web content syndication format. RSS has become the defacto feature on weblogs and many news sites. Almost all major news sites and weblogs provide an RSS feed for their audience. An RSS-aware program (aka RSS reader) can check these RSS feeds for changes and display the updates in a human readable format.

RSS has become the de facto feature on weblogs and many news sites

A server for education

I recently encountered a group of very enthusiastic teachers, who wanted to convince me to try a new e-learning environment, with astonishing quizzes, and drills of extreme originality. However, as I’d last used computers in the seventies, I was initially sceptical. Back then computers had just been used to send humans to the Moon. It was hard for me to make the leap from those machines to the machines of today. And quizzes seemed to be a strange use of such a powerful resource.

Free software gets small

When Clayton Christensen talks, CEOs listen. Christensen is a Harvard School of Business Associate Professor who has CEOs re-thinking their growth strategies with his concept of disruptive technologies.

Now Christensen is talking about free software gaining a greater market share by getting small. More specifically, by getting small and onto handheld devices. He suggested that Microsoft should seriously consider getting into the Linux space by buying or building a separate company to pursue disruption on BlackBerry-like devices.

The importance of LDAP

All that you know about Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) is wrong. From its inception to perceived usefulness, and ultimately, until the marketing department got a hold of it, LDAP has grown. It started as a useful protocol and a data structuring methodology (known by only a few), and became the latest and greatest way to synergize your action items and find parity with your eMarketing growth plan.

XML: WYSIWYG to WYSIWYM

It all started with cavemen and their cave drawings. All cave drawings were WYSIWYM (What You See is What You Mean). I mean (no pun intended), if you saw a cave drawing, in which a hunter was chasing a mammoth, it meant that a hunter was chasing a mammoth. There were no two ways to interpret the cave drawings. Then came alphabets and words. With words came plain text or documents. Then came XML/SGML for adding information to a document relating to its structure and/or content. An XML document contains both content (words) and an indication of what role the content plays.

The risk of mixing free and non-free

If you are reading this you probably use free software. In fact, I think the probability that you are reading this article using free software is extremely high, whether it is “free-as-in-speech” as in Firefox, or “free-as-in-beer” as in Internet Explorer. Free software is increasingly being taken for granted and is almost treated as some kind of legal right in some quarters. And so it should be. A lot of people have had to put a great deal of effort into ensuring sufficient “free-as-in-speech” software exists for this to be so.

Poking at iTunes

One comment: No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.

Rob “CmdrTaco” Malda introduced the iPod to the Slashdot crowd with a statement rivalled only by Bill Gates’ quip “640 KB should be enough for anybody”.

Since that post in 2001, Apple’s iPod quickly became one of the most successful products in consumer electronics history. While its success largely derives from its “hip” factor and stylish design, the iPod’s integration with the iTunes music application and the iTunes Music Store has made the device a favorite among music listeners.

Mail servers: resolving the identity crisis

Dspam filters spam with the best. In my installation, it stops over 98% of all spam: I’ve only had one false positive in the last year, and that was a message to the Dspam list that contained a real spam!

Administering Dspam is a breeze. No rules to configure, new users can automatically benefit from a global dictionary and quarantine management is simple. But getting a Dspam quarantine set up the first time, without losing any email, can challenge the most seasoned mail administrators.

Free file formats and the future of intellectual freedom

So far, proprietary formats have been maintained through a number of short-term tricks, but the advantages of free formats become clearer in the long run. Business and the computer industry have tended to be very shortsighted. However there are some important classes of technically proficient users with a much longer outlook, whose needs can only be met by free file formats. If we in the free software community want to see free formats take hold, we need to address the needs of these users.

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