Apr 24, 2013 GMTI've often criticized Canonical and Ubuntu. In fact, I've criticized them often enough that some people are convinced that I have a grudge against them. But there's one point on which I'll defend them: their decision to minimize the use of the word "Linux" on their website and in other public communications.This policy is not new, but it is periodically rediscovered by various members of the free and open source software (FOSS) community. It rarely fails to provoke outrage. Is Ubuntu pretending it isn't dependent on Debian and several dozen other upstream projects? The rediscovers ask. Is Canonical trying to claim credit for all the work of others that goes into Ubuntu?These...
Off the Beat: Bruce Byfield's Blog
Apr 12, 2013 GMTI signed the contract this week, so now I can make the announcement: I'm writing a book. Tenatively titled Styles and Templates in LibreOffice, it will be published by Friends of OpenDocument (http://www.friendsofopendocument.com/newsite/) using a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license, probably towards the end of 2013.This is a project I've wanted to do for almost a decade. Back when I started writing about free software, one of my main subjects was OpenOffice.org. Over the years, I must have written at least sixty or seventy articles on the subject. I've lost the exact count, but most of them were written for the Linux Journal site, and, more recently, the WorldLabel.com blog.I...
Apr 10, 2013 GMTYou don't see many discussions about free software licenses any more. Once a burning issue, licenses and their implications hardly seem to be mentioned these days. Increasingly, we seem to be moving into a post-license era, and the implications for free and open source software are potentially troubling. The reasons for this apparent shift of interest aren't hard to find. To start with, most of the important license issues have already been resolved. It's hard to imagine any licensing issue today that would be as significant to the community at large as the release of the OpenOffice.org code in 2000, or of the discussion of the third version of the GPL in 2005-07.Yes, the...
Mar 27, 2013 GMTOn Linux Advocates, Katherine Noyes recently raised the old question of whether the operating system should be called Linux or GNU/Linux. It's a topic I don't think much about these days, although I've had some unusual perspectives on it over the years.You probably know the argument: given that the operating system was originally the result of cooperation between Linux kernel developers and the members of The GNU Project, both should be given credit in the name. True, countless other projects are involved, but the reference is to the core operating system, and to mention one without the other is to write the excluded founding organization out of history. Or so free software supporters...
Mar 22, 2013 GMTFor several weeks, I've resisted writing this blog entry. I don't want people accusing me of mansplaining -- of lecturing women about what they already know better than I do -- as an easy way of discrediting me. Nor do I care to hear my resignation from The Ada Initiative in November 2011 dredged up to as evidence of my personal animosity. But, being the mouthy type that I am, I'm going to plunge in anyway, simply because nobody else has.Writing as a pro-feminist, I would like to make the case, as respectfully as possible, that getting conferences to establish anti-harassment policies is not enough. The time has come for a discussion about how those policies need to be carried...
Mar 14, 2013 GMTOver the years, I've written and talked several times about how free software projects should approach journalists. At times, I've been able to single out publicists who do an especially professional job, including Jennifer Cloer of The Linux Foundation and Sally Khudairi of The Apache Foundation. However, mostly, I've spoken in the abstract. I never had a detailed example to offer -- until last week, when Jos Poortvliet, openSUSE's community manager, contacted me about the new 12.3 release.What makes the efforts of Poortvliet' and the rest of the openSUSE marketing team stand out? To start with, he contacted me with a link to DVD images six days before the release. By contrast, if the...
Mar 08, 2013 GMTNormally, I evaluate free software projects in terms of the functionality they provide. However, with many projects experimenting with crowdfunding, increasingly I find myself looking at them the way I would a non-profit to which I am considering donating. I want to know, for example, how much of the money a project collects goes towards administration, and how much goes to project activities -- in other words, if the money it receives is being well-spent.This is the perspective from which I approached KDE e.V's financial statement for 2012 -- I wanted to do a spot-check on how well KDE was run in case I decide to donate to the project.KDE e.V. is the non-profit organization that...
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