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Random October 2008 Free Software News

Posted 5 Oct 2008 at 11:23 UTC by lkcl

I'm missing steven's little news posts, so I thought I'd make one up. Things happening recently: Bruce Perens on a landmark appeals decision which strengthens the legitimacy of Free Software Licenses; Venezuela orders 1 million Intel Classmate PCs; SGI relicenses OpenGL; The FSF launches a campaign to highlight the high-priority list, and KDE 4.1.2 codenamed "Codename" is released.

Also coming up: Pyworks will be held at the same time as PHPworks in Atlanta, Nov 12th-11th; FSCon, the Nordic Summit, will be on October 24th - 26th at the IT-University Gothenburg; UKUUG Developer Conference 2008 will be in Manchester, Nov 7th-9th.

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pyv8: python v8 bindings and a python-javascript compiler

Posted 28 Sep 2008 at 14:03 UTC (updated 28 Sep 2008 at 16:33 UTC) by lkcl

pyv8 is an experimental project to combine two-way python bindings to v8 with the python-to-javascript compiler from pyjamas. a simple test has shown a ten times performance increase of python code converted and executed as javascript, when compared to running the same program as python. (to be fair, cython gives a 100 times performance increase).

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Software Freedom Day in Nepal

Posted 21 Sep 2008 at 20:02 UTC by mattl

Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) Community of Nepal (FOSS-Nepal) observed the fifth international Software Freedom Day today. The day was celebrated by over 500 different volunteer groups in 120 countries. The theme for this year's celebration of FOSS-Nepal was "Create, Share, Collaborate." Honourable Minister of Science and Technology, Ganesh Shah started the proceedings at Yala Maya Kendra in Patan, Kathmandu by unveiling a compilation of Free/Open Source Softwares in a CD named "Nirvikalpa." Honourable Minister also announced the launch of a web-portal named "Prasfutan." "Prasfutan" which means "blossoming" in English aims to provide a collaborative environment to a vast number of local talents in Nepal whose creativity has a reach only up to a limited audience comprising of their acquaintances. This is in sync with the theme of "Create, Share, Collaborate."

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ePractice community for OSS in the public administration

Posted 16 Sep 2008 at 18:13 UTC by olea

Only want to introduce you into the ePractice community for OSS in the public administration ( http://www.epractice.eu/community/opensource/ ) which supports the OSOR.eu inititative.

OSOR.eu will be formally launch in Malaga's OSWC.

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Free Software Supporter, September 2008

Posted 10 Sep 2008 at 20:30 UTC by mattl

I'm Matt Lee, Campaigns Manager at the Free Software Foundation. Here with another month of news from the world of GNU and the FSF.

Welcome to the Free Software Supporter, the Free Software Foundation's monthly news digest and action update -- being read by you and 10447 other activists.

Encourage your friends to subscribe and help us build an audience by adding our subscriber widget to your web site.

Miss an issue? You can catch up on back issues at http://www.fsf.org/free-software-supporter/.

In this issue

  • Software Freedom Day
  • Happy Birthday to GNU!
  • GNU Planet
  • gNewSense 2.1 released
  • Spring 2008 Bulletin available online
  • Submit your nominations for the 2008 Free Software Awards
  • On the savannah, where the gnu roam...
  • DRM down under
  • Free Hexen and Heretic!
  • Malaysian Government Dept switches to OpenDocument
  • GNU spotlight with Karl Berry
  • Richard Stallman's speaking schedule
  • Take action!
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Pyjamas - Python Applications for Desktop and Web

Posted 30 Aug 2008 at 14:11 UTC (updated 10 Sep 2008 at 08:59 UTC) by lkcl

Leading free software application widget sets include GTK2, QT4 and wxWidgets. Web application development is still considered to be a bit of a black art, with knowledge of CSS, javascript and AJAX trickery making many side-step HTML completely and go for Adobe Flash or Silverlight to get that "rich media" experience that typical Web apps entirely lack. And, worse, writing apps that run - unmodifed - on both the desktop and the web is impossible if you want to stick to Free Software development principles and ethics.

AJAX "toolkits" as they are known, such as YUI, Google Web Toolkit and Pyjamas are the "middle-ground" to making Web application development look and feel that much more like you're developing a real desktop application. In the case of GWT and Pyjamas, you're even programming in Java or Python, respectively, and the tool is actually a javascript compiler! The next logical step is to ask the question, "If these toolkits look, feel and smell like Desktop applications development APIs, why are they not *actually* Desktop applications development APIs?". Pyjamas-Desktop is the answer to that question, effectively making Pyjamas a de-facto standard for cross-browser, cross-platform, cross-desktop, cross-environment and, ultimately, a cross-widget-set Free Software applications development API.

Finally, there's a way for free software developers to write applications that run - unmodified - as both a web app and a desktop app.

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Free Software Supporter, August 2008

Posted 8 Aug 2008 at 16:53 UTC (updated 8 Aug 2008 at 16:54 UTC) by mattl

I'm Matt Lee, Campaigns Manager at the Free Software Foundation. Here with another month of news from the world of GNU and the FSF.

Welcome to the Free Software Supporter, the Free Software Foundation's monthly news digest and action update -- being read by you and 7,824 other activists.

Encourage your friends to subscribe and help us build an audience by adding our subscriber widget to your web site.

Miss an issue? You can catch up on back issues too.

In this issue:

  • Why free software and Apple's iPhone don't mix
  • Play Ogg!
  • Pizza Party for friends of the FSF in San Francisco
  • Portland associate membership meeting recap
  • Give Apple the iPhone Challenge
  • Help defeat Microsoft's OOXML format!
  • Atheros releases free software wireless driver
  • Yahoo Music -- the bad dream of DRM continues
  • GNU spotlight with Karl Berry
  • Richard Stallman's speaking schedule
  • Take action!
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Free Software Supporter, July 2008

Posted 8 Aug 2008 at 16:51 UTC (updated 8 Aug 2008 at 16:55 UTC) by mattl

I'm Matt Lee, Campaigns Manager at the Free Software Foundation. Here with another month of news from the world of GNU and the FSF.

Welcome to the Free Software Supporter, the Free Software Foundation's monthly news digest and action update -- being read by you and 7,824 other activists.

Encourage your friends to subscribe and help us build an audience by adding our subscriber widget to your web site.

Miss an issue? You can catch up on back issues too.

In this issue:

  • It's not the Gates, it's the bars
  • Act on ACTA!
  • Fight the Canadian DMCA!
  • Rhapsody and Naxos go DRM free
  • Refusing Digital Monitoring Policies
  • 5 reasons to avoid iPhone 3G
  • autonomo.us activist group to focus on freedom in network services
  • identi.ca is autonomo.us
  • GNU spotlight with Karl Berry
  • Richard Stallman's speaking schedule
  • Take action!
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Free Software Supporter, June 2008

Posted 8 Aug 2008 at 16:42 UTC (updated 8 Aug 2008 at 16:57 UTC) by mattl

I'm Matt Lee, Campaigns Manager at the Free Software Foundation. Here with the first of what will be a regular posting each month of news from the world of GNU and the FSF. Thanks to Steven for giving us the opportunity to post this here.

Welcome to the Free Software Supporter, the Free Software Foundation's monthly news digest and action update -- being read by you and 7,824 other activists.

Encourage your friends to subscribe and help us build an audience by adding our subscriber widget to your web site.

Miss an issue? You can catch up on back issues too.

In this issue

  • New FSF store
  • Farewell Justin, Hello Danny
  • DRM elimination crew at the Apple Store launch
  • Savannah adds Subversion, Mercurial
  • Freedom and privacy in the cloud: a call for action
  • Boycott Windows Media Center!
  • GNU Spotlight with Karl Berry
  • Richard Stallman's speaking schedule and other FSF speeches
  • Take Action with the FSF
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A hard problem worth solving

Posted 16 Jul 2008 at 06:01 UTC by robla

There's an ongoing debate about whether a free/open source project needs to be "organic" to be worthwhile, where "organic" is (arguably) defined as a project which the first release included source, and is generally characterized as by a distributed development team with no single company truly in control, and "inorganic" is generally code that started off life as a proprietary effort. I'd like to argue that making "inorganic" open source work is a big challenge worth tackling.

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The Myth that Content Management is easy

Posted 15 May 2008 at 19:10 UTC by zanee

The Myth
Content Management is easy. You download one of the numerous systems available, plug-in your data. Something magical happens (???) and out comes a professional looking and operating website. This obviously manages all of your content from all different sources with ease. All you have to do is make a template and you’re done! If this sounds like something you’ve heard and are suspiciously weary of. You should be, because it’s all snake oil! If it was that easy I would probably quit my job and go study law. Since it is not, let us continue first by giving a brief background on what content management is.
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GNU and FSF News for May 2008

Posted 8 May 2008 at 21:24 UTC by robogato

Skype fought the GPL and the GPL won. The OLPC XO project abandons free software just as RMS switches to an XO; RMS not happy. New monthly newsletters from the FSF and FSFE. GNOME and KDE want to have a joint development conference in 2009. GNOME and GCC conferences coming up later this year. Plus all the usual news: more GPL v3 conversions, HURD news, GNOME news, GCC news, and more.

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Rsync on Steroids

Posted 26 Apr 2008 at 16:33 UTC (updated 26 Apr 2008 at 22:06 UTC) by lkcl

Rsync is an incredibly powerful tool that synchronises anything from a single file to an entire hierarchical filesystem, over a network. Unlike many other synchronisation methods, rsync will use the outdated copy of a file to save on network traffic (resulting in anything up to 99% optimisation).

Rsync the implementation however is restricted to only Posix systems (such as Linux, Cygwin and *BSD), and, worse, its implementation can only perform operations on Posix-based filesystems. This seems somewhat puzzling, and, as part of the continued Tech Fusion series, this article will outline some of the amazingly powerful things that could be done with rsync... if it had a VFS layer.

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Apologies to Pizza!

Posted 26 Apr 2008 at 14:46 UTC by lkcl

informal though this is, it's important enough to say as an article. i've been keeping an eye on the series currently being written and some of my comments - most notably to Pizza - indicate that i'm "jumping up and down". so Pizza - many apologies! :)

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Distributed Debian Distribution Development

Posted 26 Apr 2008 at 01:50 UTC (updated 26 Apr 2008 at 22:34 UTC) by lkcl

As part of the Tech Fusion Outline Series, this article describes some additions to the Debian Distribution model which, if implemented, would have the benefits of making Debian, the Debian Development and deployment entirely independent of Server-based Infrastructure.

The brief outline will be expanded in this dedicated article, pointing out how tieing together components and technology that already exists would be useful not only for Debian but also for other purposes, such as video and audio media distribution. (A method of payment for work on Debian or other media is not within the scope of this article but is easily conceivable). This article therefore explains how and why Debian Distribution Development could go "Distributed".

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Free Choice: the "Social Business" model and Free Software

Posted 23 Apr 2008 at 23:56 UTC (updated 24 Apr 2008 at 02:25 UTC) by lkcl

Free Software developers fall into two main categories: those that stand by the principles behind free software - patent-free, license-free and unrestricted distribution (for example, Richard Stallman's admirable stance); and those that are simply happy to compromise to some extent, for example to download libdvdcss to watch DVDs, or to install proprietary software such as Skype, on the basis that there is simply no (or no better) alternative (for example, Ubuntu which supports all kinds of proprietary firmware and binary drivers, and gets itself into enormous difficulties as a result).

These "level of integrity" choices are decisions that we, as Free Software developers, are free to make. Yet the average person is simply unaware of these issues of "integrity", or they are but do not value them highly, choosing "interoperability with their friends and businesses" as "more important". Or worse, they agree that integrity is important yet are forced into making decisions to use - and stick with - proprietary software. In such instances, the level of experience of (and thus the offerings available from) Free Software developers in a particular area of specialist expertise that the users absolutely must have before being able to consider migration, is close to or literally zero.

As Free Software developers, is it therefore ethical for us to ignore these people whose lives are blighted by lack of choice, or is it more ethical for us to remain in our integrity, by providing non-interoperable Free Software alternatives (with no means of conversion between the free and proprietary software)?

To put that another way: should Free Software developers serve themselves and their own needs, or should they look to serve others? This article highlights these quite important questions that every Free Software developer should be asking themselves, and advocates a way to proliferate, protect, enjoy and benefit from Free Software principles: that of the "Social Business".

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Free Soft Wear ?

Posted 21 Apr 2008 at 23:33 UTC by ekashp

Arrrgh !

I'm not a PiRRRate, I'm a PRRRivateeRRR !!!

(I've got them letters of mark, from me uncle Sam !)

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Better Free Software Organisations?

Posted 17 Apr 2008 at 12:05 UTC by slef

Are free software users particularly bad at the basics of running an interest society, have I been spoiled by cooperatives with their friendly Member Services departments or secretariats, or what? Is this why so many free software orgs seem to include self-perpetuating leadership groups? Is this a serious problem if, as reported, Software Development is a Team Sport [etbe]? Are there fully-working free software mass participation groups out there?

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Technology in Warfare, for Peacekeeping and Peacetime

Posted 16 Apr 2008 at 23:30 UTC (updated 17 Apr 2008 at 00:09 UTC) by lkcl

In How Technology Almost Lost the War: In Iraq, the Critical Networks Are Social — Not Electronic the deployment of Technology assists soldiers to be more effective - providing the commander with real-time information on their location and status. Additionally, the local people are recruited to assist (including guarding the major of the town, who was funnelling money to insurgents).

This article will outline the benefits of providing local people with access to the same kind of technology as that provided to the military, illustrating that a combined teaching, life-changing enabling opportunity and intelligence-gathering could very quickly make it difficult for insurgents to gain momentum.

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Singularity of Computing

Posted 16 Apr 2008 at 00:27 UTC (updated 21 Apr 2008 at 21:37 UTC) by lkcl

Computer Technology is not serving our needs, or if it is, it is vulnerable to failure at every level.  Outlined in this article is a clear articulation of the failings of technology. Importantly, this article describes the solutions required to mitigate against failure and attack, and how to overcome some of the shortcomings that would, if implemented, make computer technology actually "useful" to the human race.

Muhammad Yunus' book Creating a World without Poverty advocates the use of IT to solve the problem of poverty (Chapter 9, page 184 onwards ).  Many articles have already been written that outline or hint at the problems:

About the Future of the Web
Top 10 Linux Desktop Hurdles
Open source usability is a technical problem we can solve on our own
Cook's Collaborative Edge

However, all of these articles miss a fundamental point: what are computers for?  The original definition of a "Computer" was a title - like "Professor" or "Doctor", and Asimov's book entitled "The End of Eternity" was written at the time when the title was still in use.  The title was given to someone who "performed computation".  Before valves, transistors and silicon chips existed, many "Computers" were given the job, often in parallel, of hand-calculating a complex mathematical task, with mental arithmetic, pencil, paper and slide rules as their tools.  Fast forward to the 21st Century and we have "Computers" that can perform billions of calculations per second, and communicate millions of words per second (although it definitely doesn't seem like either of these things are true!).  Yet, all that speed helps humanity not one bit if we don't know what "Computers" are actually for!  How can "Computers" actually help us "humans"?

So, this article will ask - and attempt to answer - the questions listed below. It will also outline where things stand at the moment; outline what the author believes people really could do with help from technology; what technology the author believes will be useful to people; and finally, provide a roadmap outlining what technologies need to be sythesised together, improved or developed entirely from scratch to actually and reliably meet people's needs.

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