free software

'Twas the night before Christmas (a FOSS variation)

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the housenot a creature was stirring, just my USB mouse;

The wife and the children are all settled in bed,As I sit at my desk scratching my head.

And while I'm sorting out my thoughts, Music is streaming over Rhythmbox.

The kids enjoyed beating me at Kbattleship.They also think Gcompris is quite a trip.

But TuxPaint is their clear winner. A great little program for little beginners.

Free software and politics in Yankeetown

The picturesque village of Yankeetown on Florida’s Nature Coast has been the recent target of a large time-sharing resort condominium development proposal. Several townsfolk looked into the development and discovered what appeared to be corrupt practices in the town government. A loosely organized group of citizens decided to coordinate and share information via a web presence. Beyond any expectations, the picture albums, message boards, and mailing lists they used have been the catalyst for gaining state-wide attention and have led to direct intervention from the Governor’s office.

Sometimes I just want to be stupid

Most modern Linux distributions have slick graphical installers, are on single DVD's and install common applications very easily. The installers make software choices that lead new users by the hand with little to go wrong. Life is also easier for us old timers who, in the past, suffered through many configuration files, compiling network drivers and the miscellaneous headaches we encountered trying to get our hardware to work.

Reclaiming ICT education - Why free software is a necessity in schools

My formal education in computing ended at the age of 14, about six weeks into a GCSE (The UK equivalent of the US's High School Diploma) course in ICT. I've had a lifelong passion for computers, but despite this, I opted instead to study Design and Technology and never looked back.

File formats: approaching the freedom crossroad

When I first began to use GNU/Linux, I didn’t really care about free software, I just thought it was exciting to be able to mess around with code like that and see what could happen. I felt that it was fantastic that you could get under the bonnet; so to speak, and play with the code which powered everything.

I thought that was what I loved about the system. I was wrong, what I really fell in love with was freedom.

How to recognise, prevent, and treat burnout

Burnout is the experience of long-term exhaustion and diminished interest (depersonalisation or cynicism), usually in the work context.

Any organisation or team that relies on pro-bono efforts from its members runs the risk of burnout. In this article I'll explain what causes burnout, how to recognise it, how to prevent it, and (if it happens) how to treat it.

Question quest and freedom films

This entry is first a plea for help. I enjoy reading and listening to interviews with people who have interesting and exciting things to say about their passions. My attention was recently directed to a web site named Questions Please..., where Jonathan Roberts informs us he has an inside line to free software luminaries Richard Stallman, Jeremy Allison, and Jeff Waugh. So what is my plea?

Questions Please...

The Tron effect

In 1982, I attended computer camp.

I know, this sounds like a "One time, at band camp. . ." story, but it's not. This was computer camp. It took place at the little-known Eastern Oregon State College, and it was the first year EOSC offered computer camp.

Growing up in Thorne Bay, Alaska, I realized I was odd. In sixth grade, the school district sent out an Apple ][. While others played Star Wars or Space Invaders, I studied Applesoft Basic. While others learned how to master Aztec, I delved into the mysteries of the Sweet16 assembler. When my mom told me her college was offering a whole month of computer studies for high school geeks like me, I couldn't wait.

Sun's right move: GPL Java

Today marks the rebirth of Java. Sun has announced their intent to release thesource code for Java under the GPL. If this isn't some of the bestnews in a long time, I don't know what is.

The freeing of Java

Sun isn't releasing all of the code. It seems there are partsof Java Sun doesn't own, and for which Sun hasn't been able tonegotiate releasing under the GPL. But, it appears this is a tiny bitof the code.

Apples and bananas

While trawling through this week’s normal helter-skelter barrage of free software and open source news items, opinion pieces and analyzing ponderings a couple of pieces caught my eye. These are the BBC’s article entitled “Charity shuns open source code” and’s one called “CIO Jury: The Linux desktop is dead”. When first seeing these pessimistic pieces of free software doom and gloom, I confess my immediate reaction, as an advocate and developer, was one of misery, depression and fed-upness. Was it all worth it? What is the point? Where is the bright side? Should I simply go outside and step under a bus?

After a nice strong cup of coffee and pulling myself together a bit, I examined the articles a little more closely. I discovered that the authors, or originators, of each had, in fact, made a very common mistake while performing free and closed software comparisons that reminded me of the old adage regarding apples and bananas...

Ethics, employment and free software

Like most people around the world, I have to work to earn a living. And again, like the vast majority of these people, often my work requires me to carry out tasks that I might otherwise find ethically problematic. As a supporter of free culture, I have often found it difficult to reconcile my own convictions on issues such as copyright and DRM with those of my employers. In my current job, this has not been a regular problem.

Free tanks for everyone! Good gas mileage

I'm guessing many FSM readers will recognize the title reference, if like me you're a fan of Neal Stephenson's work. If you're not a fan, then... er... how could you not be?! I'm kidding. I realize tastes differ, but to me, Stephenson is essential geek reading.

His essay, In the Beginning was the Command Line, has been around for several years now. It's showing some age in areas, but it reads as well today as it did back in 1999. It's filled with interesting ideas and thoughts about technology and culture, including free software. For example, you don't have to read very far in to the essay to find a great analogy between operating systems and car dealerships.

We are free software, you will be assimilated... you are assimilated

I love to write witty titles, in many cases more than the actual article, but this title kinda says it all (if you don't understand it, read this). If there are still those of you that are avoiding free software, give up. You lose. To view this blog entry alone you've used dozens of free software products.

Does free software taste great, or is open source less filling?

Which do you like best: the satisfying, rich taste of principle in free software? Or do you prefer the less morally filling and pragmatic goodness of open source? Do you wish people would stop endlessly rehashing the whole question of "free" versus "open source?" Or do you enjoy the chance to talk about goals and philosophy? As you might suspect, since I'm bringing it up...

Free software and world peace

Somebody recently noted that, what with all the bombing and killing and tyrannical madness going on in the world, how can we waste all this time talking about free software? Surely there's more important stuff to worry about?

Well, they’re absolutely right that there are bigger problems in the world. When I get a chance to do something more direct about it, I plan to. So far, it looks like voting is about it, though.


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