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Can the Terms of the GPL Prevent GNU/Linux being used for War?

There's been a lot of noise on the internet recently about the fact that the Windows-based software being used in the remote control system of drones use by the American military has been hit by a virus and this has caused the Department of Defense (DOD) to use GNU/Linux which is a more secure option. This has, predictably, caused raised eyebrows and demands by some that any military organisation should be prevented from using GNU/Linux in offensive weapons systems.

Ubuntu's HUD: fixing the keyboard binding conflicts

Last week I finally took the leap and did an online upgrade from Ubuntu 11.10 to 12.04 (Precise Pangolin). To my relief it was a flawless operation and one of the things I wanted to experiment with the much hyped HUD feature which is being slated as a replacement/supplement to application menus. It's a Marmite feature. You either love it or loathe it but what caught my attention was the keybinding used to launch it and how this interacts with its "near neighbours".

Time for OSchoice.eu?

In my previous article I went through the history of the competition cases of the European Commission against Microsoft Corporation that led to the deployment of the website browserchoice.eu to allow consumers to freely choose their browser. Yet this is not enough: the origin of all problems is that most PCs in the market are sold bundled to a single operating system, Microsoft Windows.

I shall analyse how this panorama of poor competition could change if there was such a thing as OSchoice.eu .

Purchasing free-software-friendly hardware

Many people have complained about the lack of pre-integrated computers running GNU/Linux or the lack of fully free software drivers for important hardware. Ultimately though, it's up to you, the consumer, both to satisfy your own requirements and to send a message to vendors that supporting free software pays. You can do this fairly easily by integrating your own computer from its major components, and selecting only components that have free software drivers. It's certainly possible, and even if you've never built a computer before, it's not all that hard!

Interview with Eric Heikkinen of Pligg

The free software world is experiencing another legal storm. This time, the trouble doesn’t involve a big company attacking a free software project—this time, you could probably call it a “civil war”. A former contributor to Pligg (a very important free software content management system for creating digg-style sites) intends to take Pligg’s developers to court. I managed to talk to Eric Heikkinen, the co-founder of Pligg, and ask him a few questions...

TM: Hello Eric. Please tell our readers a little about yourself and Pligg.

The lazy user’s guide to OpenOffice.org Writer

All hail the lazy, for they will find the most efficient way to work a computer in general, and a word processor in particular. In this article, I’ll look at three lazy writer’s tricks that can relieve you of most of the drudgery involved in creating a fairly large document in OpenOffice.org Writer (henceforth, OOo Writer or simply Writer).

Make the computer do most of the work

The social implications of free software

If you’re new to it, free software appears to be tough to shift to. It also tends to be supported by a smaller pool of techies, and has something of a steep initial learning-curve. So why shift at all? In any case, you can easily make do with illegally-copied proprietary software... right?

Wrong! That’s a lazy way of looking at things. It’s also an outdated approach, which goes back just three decades or so, when proprietary- you can’t copy it, you can’t share it—software became the norm.

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

The second Mac revolution

The Apple machines of the 80’s turned computers from dull counting machines and glorified typewriters into creative tools, forcing a revolution in the design, publishing and music industries through accessibility and mass participation. If you wanted to produce—let’s say—a magazine in those days, all of a sudden you didn’t need a lot of money, you didn’t need to have a particular job or be a member of the union, and you didn’t even need to have served an apprenticeship or have been to college.

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