Jan 31, 2011 GMTWhy are newer versions of free software being rejected by significant numbers of users? Three years after the KDE 4 series began, some users continue to reject it, either preferring KDE 3 or looking for alternatives. GNOME 3.0 and Ubuntu's Unity seem likely to face a similar reaction -- and they are not even in general release yet. Similarly, enough people reject the Amarok 2 releases that Clementine, a music player based on Amarok's first release series, seems to be thriving. The phenomenon is relatively new, but very real, and seems indicative of changes in free software usage that are going relatively unrecognized.Exactly how widespread the reactions might be is nearly impossible to...
Off the Beat: Bruce Byfield's Blog
Jan 10, 2011 GMTI should know better, but every now and then I make the mistake of trying to explain why people should use free and open source software (FOSS). Often, the effort occurs at end of the year gatherings when someone asks me what I do for a living, and almost always the ensuring conversation is torturous.For one thing, I'm not a natural seller. I can make a case, but if it doesn't convince, I respect people's rights to their own opinions too deeply to continue pushing for very long.Even more importantly, figuring out the approach can be frustrating. The fact that you can download FOSS for free seems trivial at best to my average audience. Making an ethical case is usually more successful --...
Jan 01, 2011 GMTJono Bacon is well-known in free and open source software (FOSS) circles as the community manager for Canonical, the company behind the popular Ubuntu distribution. However, Bacon and his band mates in the metal band Severed Fifth are working hard to provide a working example of free culture. The band is now into its sixth week of a campaign to raise $5000 to cut a professional album, in an effort that is as much an experiment in building a community as anything that Bacon has done for Canonical.Severed Fifth began as Bacon's one-man band in 2008. "I was hearing a lot of people talking about Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails, and how they were giving away some of their music for...
Dec 21, 2010 GMTThe headlines about Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange are bringing countless issues to the attention of the general public. For instance, what privacy, if any, is possible with modern technology? How does technology change the relationship between those who govern and the governed? And -- on a more personal level -- does being at best a selfish lover and at worst a possible rapist invalidate a man's leadership or the ideals he claims to espouse? But what occupies most of my thoughts is the basic question about the desirability of openness.In theory, I am all for openness and transparent decision-making. I have a lifelong dislike of hierarchy to begin with, and I could not have...
Dec 14, 2010 GMTTo my surprise, I have been involved with free and open source software (FOSS) for the better part of twelve years. For ten years of that time, I have made my living from FOSS, either as an employee or as a free-lance writer. But sometimes, I have to admit, I get tired of waiting for FOSS to fulfill its potential. While it has come a long way, FOSS still isn't as universal as I thought it would be by now. Sometimes, I think the movement -- and I -- have lost sight of the goal among the day to day necessities.I remember the first time I became convinced that FOSS could become the norm. It was when I first saw GNU Parted. I had been a user of PartitionMagic from its earliest days as an OS/2...
Dec 09, 2010 GMTI generally write in Bluefish. It has just about everything I need -- a word count, a spell-checker, and shortcuts to produce clean HTML (if that's what the editor requires), and little of the overhead and distractions of a word processor. But I am always on the lookout for other tools, which is why FocusWriter interested me. Unfortunately, while it shows some promise, it turns out to be another writing tool designed more for wannabes than a working writer.I am actually surprised and disappointed to make that statement. Graeme Gott, FocusWriter's developer describes it as a "fullscreen, distraction-free word processor," which sounds like something that should suit me. And,...
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