The choices inside Ubuntu
Jan 27, 2010 GMT
Hearing that the next Ubuntu release will use Yahoo! as the default search engine in Firefox leaves me with a twinge of uneasiness. My misgiving -- and it's a small one -- is not so much with the decision as with why it was made.
In itself, the decision is trivial enough. If you dislike Yahoo!, you can easily change the default by going to the search engine field in the upper right corner and clicking on the icon and choosing Manage Search Engines from the drop-down menu.... more »
A 75% victory or 75% defeat?
Jan 22, 2010 GMT
Nonsense prevails, modesty fails,
Grace and virtue turn into stupidity.
While the calendar fades almost all barricades
To a pale compromise.
- Elvis Costello, "All This Useless Beauty"
Hearing the news that 75% of contributions to the Linux kernel are by paid developers, my first reaction is to recall Alec Guinness in The Horse's Mouth. In this classic from the 1950s, Guinness plays an eccentric and disreputable artist who cons his way into... more »
TinyOgg, software freedom and convenience
Jan 17, 2010 GMT
One of the last gaps in free software for desktop computing is a Flash player. Even if you are committed to free software, you are likely to want one two or three times a day. The Gnash project does its best to provide, but it is still not fully functional, despite years of effort.
Now, GNU Generation, the Free Software Foundation's (FSF's) organization for pre-university students, is offering another solution: TinyOgg, an application that converts Flash files to Ogg format. It's a worthy idea, but... more »
Selling GPL Exceptions isn't Exceptional
Jan 13, 2010 GMT
Richard Stallman's willingness to accept the sale of exceptions to the GNU General Public License intrigues me. What intrigues me is not his acceptance of the idea; that seems in keeping with everything I've learned over the years about the Free Software Foundation's (FSF) philosophy and practices. Rather, what fascinates me is how many people are reacting as if his comments are something new.
The issue first came to public attention when Stallman signed a letter to the... more »
Why can't we all just get along?
Dec 30, 2009 GMT
At the risk of sounding naive, I'm concerned about how members of the free and open source software (FOSS) community treat each other. No doubt in most parts of the community, people are getting things done while keeping civil. But, publicly, or when the big issues are raised, a sustained nastiness has crept into discussions over the last year or so. Mostly, I try to ignore the tone, but, if possible, I'd like to see it reversed.
Maybe that sentiment sounds like wishy-washy hypocrisy coming from someone who often writes about contentious issues. I know, too, no war is... more »
GNOME, GNU, and a long memory
Dec 16, 2009 GMT
Reading the recent discussions about GNOME's position in the GNU Project, I'm reminded of Utah Phillip's comment that "a long memory is the most radical notion in history." The way that the discussion has been reported in the media, you would hardly guess that the discussion is the latest round in an ongoing and disquieting dispute -- largely because the origins of the dispute were never widely reported.
The current discussion began on the GNOME Foundation mailing list, when Richard Stallman, president and founder of the Free Software Foundation, more »
Does a free software community exist?
Dec 07, 2009 GMT
Recently, I was taken to task for talking about the free software community. The criticism seemed motivated by spite more than anything else. But I admit that I often do refer to the community. So, since I believe in never leaving an assumption unquestioned, I started wondering: Does such a thing exist?
At first, the idea seems absurd. Perhaps a free software community existed fifteen years ago, when the software and its ideals were shared by a small number of developers. But these days, most people involved in free software tend to stay within their own community.... more »