completing the circle

I have always fancied myself as a small-time free software contributor, fixing a line of code here, filing a useful bug report there, and occasionally jumping into discussions. But finally I got around to putting in a concrete contribution that is worth mentioning. The latest version of Dia is about to be released, and I have been responsible for scratching an itch that has been bothering people for years.

And in case you are an engineer that has to create lots of schematics, and you don’t know what Dia is, it’s high time you tried it out!

staying put

Read this comment on the slashdot article about Oracle thinking of buying Novell.

You overreacted. KDE is still very much supported on SuSE. Why jump ship based on a rumour of what someone might possibly do when you can just as easily jump ship later if they ever actually do it. I am on OpenSuSE 10.0 now and the water is just fine.

Years ago I was worried that what I was doing did not have much of a future and was looking at retraining doing something else. In the end I decided to carry on with what I was already specialised in and cross that bridge (retraining) when I came to it. I am still working on the same platform 20 years later, still worried that it is going to run out at some point but have noticed that some of the alternatives I was looking at back then no longer exist.

Don’t panic.

Nice advice, really. Would fit right in with the list of things that you wish you were told when you were a kid.

Ramble on, RMS!

I took the title of this entry from a comment on slashdot. The comment is attached to a slashdot article about an interview of Linus Torvalds regarding the GPLv3.

I have not followed the developments about the GPLv3, and to be honest ignored it as yet some more “RMS rambling”. But the commentary on this feature did manage to make me sit up and at least form an opinion. In the Forbes interview, Linus really has demonstrated how irresponsible he can get about philosophy. There is a lot of serious thought that’s going into the GPLv3, the same kind that must have happened when RMS first put his foot down against the rise of non-free software, and at the drafting of the first GPL.

Linus’ devil-may-care attitude had always bugged me, including his choice of BitKeeper. But this interview shows exactly how off the track he is:

If you have a device that has software in it (and most devices do, these days), the FSF wants normal users to be able to upgrade that software. Now, sometimes it’s simply not technically possible. But sometimes the software can be upgraded, but the hardware limits it on purpose so that the owner of the hardware cannot do so–only the vendor can. I think that’s pretty nasty myself. I much prefer things that can be fixed. However, I don’t think that’s part of my GPLv2 contract. I’d rather vote with my personal choices (and my dollars) than by trying to make my software be a “weapon of mass opinion.” And I just care a lot more about some things than I do about others (I would refuse to buy a computer that I can’t replace the OS on, but a dishwasher or a DVR? Not a huge deal to me).

Just goes to show he is not a community leader. But I must give him points for being downright honest about it:

Another way of saying the same thing: I don’t want to make my software be “activist.” I try to make it technically as good as possible and let that part speak for itself. I don’t want it to make politics.

Last I checked, anything that affected freedom is automatically under politics. For me FLOSS has never been solely about the software itself. It’s been about the freedom and the community that is bound together by that freedom. Thank you Mr. Torvalds, but now I know that if someone asks me to name a “leader” in the community, you sure won’t be anywhere near the top of the list. I do respect the way Linus has managed the kernel development process to bring it so far, but then again, I also respect Bill Gates for the software giant that he created and helped grow.

no more kernel traffic …

Discovered today that KT has gone inactive now. I had stopped visiting the site after I noticed it hadn’t been updated for weeks. Zack says he’s taking a break, but the last sentence sounds rather ominous … “Hopefully Kernel Traffic will not be missed too greatly, with these other useful resources available.”

Bye Zack! May the source be with you. You’ve been a great help to ring-side viewers like me who needed to keep an eye on the kernel but didn’t have enough time.

It’s sites like KT run by Zack Brown and Kuro5hin by Rusty that remind me of how lazy I really am.

The “Linux” community …

Keeping politically correct nomenclature aside, here’s a very nice comment on the community that powers free software and its cousins:

… The community that has gathered around Linux gathered not because it was a quick fix or an easy toy. They gathered because it was an intricate maze that offered constant stimulation from a never ending supply of puzzles and thought experiments. More simply put, from the chaos of an infinitude of unsolved puzzles arose a well oiled machine that is capable of doing an extraordinary amount of good. …

Saw this on the Quantum Linux Laboratories website, where they explain their daily cryptoquote
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Debianising KReSIT

Finally, Debian begins to get counted among the “respectable” Distros used in KReSIT. The DEP intends to use customised Knoppix CD’s for the Foundations Lab course, while more and more people opt to use Debian GNU/Linux on their machines. Best part was getting Prof. Arya to agree to use Debian … the selling point? He gets guaranteed support from me! 😀

Full credits to the Knoppix CD’s which make it so easy to impress newbies into making The Right Choice ™

Too bad Debian stable tends to get out of date very easily, or I wouldn’t have spared the KReSIT servers either. Debian unstable would have been good enough, but the “unstable” in the name tends to scare people away.
Continue reading “Debianising KReSIT”