May 09, 2014 GMTFew people can match Jono Bacon's experience as a community leader in free software. Not only has he been Ubuntu community manager for nearly eight years, but in The Art of Community, he literally wrote the book on community, and has talked extensively about issues like burnout at conferences. Given this background, his latest book, Dealing with Disrespect, comes with high expectations. Nor does it disappoint, except in Bacon's tendency to see problems in terms of individuals rather than systems.The strength of Bacon's writing has always been that he is approaches his topics in terms of problems to solve -- problems, presumably, that he has encountered in his work. This approach...
Off the Beat: Bruce Byfield's Blog
Apr 29, 2014 GMTWhenever a retail product like a Ubuntu phone or MakePlayLive's Vivaldi tablet is announced, expectations run high in the free software world. Each product, people hope, will be the one that gives free software a space on the shelves of the nearest mall's computer store. Yet almost without exception, these efforts meet with delays. When they get to market, many of them disappear within a few months, and free software advocates look forward to the start of the same cycle with another product. Ever wonder why?Needless to say, the problem has nothing to do with the quality of free software. Partly, it has to do with the low odds of any new product, proprietary or free, succeeding. But the...
Apr 24, 2014 GMTThe allegations of workplace harassment at GitHub make for an ugly story. They're ugly if they're true, and ugly in another way if they are motivated by personal differences. But either way, GitHub could use a lesson or two in crisis management.The allegations are made by Julie Anne Horvath, the organizer of a monthly series of feminist talks called Passion Projects and previously a defender of GitHub in the feminist community. Horvath claims that for two years she was harassed by GitHub co-founder Tom Preston-Werner and his wife. Horvath also claims that she was harassed by a fellow GitHub employee, and received no support from the company.In response, GitHub CEO Chris Wanstrath...
Apr 18, 2014 GMTReviewing Ubuntu has become as pointless as reviewing a Stephen King novel -- nothing I say could possibly influence the fans or detractors. The fans have already upgraded, and the detractors decided long ago to stay away. All the same, the 14.04 release (code-named Trusty Tahr, with artwork that looks like a parody of the GNU project's logo) is still worth a look, because releases of any software make observations about the project behind the software so easy.Consider, for example: In October, 2011, Mark Shuttleworth wrote that "By 14.04 LTS Ubuntu will power tablets, phones, TVs and smart screens from the car to the office kitchen, and it will connect those devices cleanly and...
Apr 14, 2014 GMTTwice in the last month, popular opinion has questioned a high-level hiring in commercial free software. Given the egalitarian nature of free software, the only surprise is that such questioning took so long to appear. However, whether this development is healthy or not is another matter altogether.I am referring, of course, to Brendan Eich's removal as Mozilla CEO due to his support for an anti-gay marriage proposition a few years ago, and to the protests over the appointment of Condoleezza Rice to the DropBox board of directors.My own social and political views, I should rush to explain, are about as far from Eich's or Rice's as they could possibly be. Nor are these instances in which a...
Mar 31, 2014 GMTUser testing is often limited in free software. However, long-time advocate Deb Nicholson is developing a simple but effective way around the limitations: getting developers and users together and calling the result SpinachCon. The idea of SpinachCon came through Nicholson's work with OpenHatch, a non-profit with the goal of encouraging new contributors to join projects suited to their expertise and interest. Nicholson wanted to apply some of OpenHatch's ideas about receiving user feedback to MediaGoblin, another project with which she is involved. "But it's not worth getting people in for twenty minute at a time," she says. "So I thought, what if you could do a bunch...
Mar 26, 2014 GMTFollowing the Mir vs. Wayland controversy over the last six months, my first reaction is: this wouldn't be happening if upstream development was kept upstream.The controversy began when Mark Shuttleworth announced that Ubuntu planned to replace the aging X Window System with an in-house project called Mir.Since other distros were already developing Wayland as a replacement, this announcement was controversial enough by itself. However, the controversy was compounded by the fact that two years earlier, Shuttleworth had announced that Ubuntu was supporting Wayland.Nor was the discussion helped when KDE and Wayland developers questioned the rationales for Mir, or whether Ubuntu and its...
Lennart Poettering wants to change the way Linux developers talk to each other.
Enterprise giant frees itself from ink and home PCs (and visa versa).
Mozilla’s product think tank sinks silently into history.
TODO group will focus on open source tools in large-scale environments.
New tool will look like GParted but support a wider range of storage technologies.
New public key pinning feature will help prevent man-in-the-middle attacks.
Carnegie Mellon researchers say 3 million pages could fall down the phishing hole in the next year.
The US government rolls new best-practice rules for protecting SSH.
Klaus Knopper announces the latest version of his iconic Live Linux system.
All websites that use these popular CMS tools could be vulnerable to denial of service attacks if users don't install the updates.