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Archive for November, 2006

Thailand coup and Free Software

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

There has been coverage in the press recently that the new government of Thailand doesn’t like Free Software anymore. It seems they have made complete turnaround indeed, with newly appointed minister of IT putting in the classic econodwarf act, advocating non-free software and whatnot.

Of course, such things have happened before in other countries. Sometimes, it turned out that some non-free software company was behind the scenes all along. These companies are widely known for lobbying against Free Software where they can. And that’s what made it clear to me who really was behind the coup in Thailand: microsoft ;-)

debian-administration.org and anonymous comments

Monday, November 20th, 2006

So I saw this post at http://www.debian-administration.org/

Now the post itself is not very clueful, but since the site’s webmaster is the only DD I happen to know in meatspace I thought I might add a comment to it. And there came the trouble, one after another:

 

  1. If you block the site’s cookies, you can’t comment.
  2. If you don’t block the cookies but only post a link to this page, it’ll get caught by the spam filter. Why a link to an official Debian package page should get caught by the spam filter of a Debian-related website is a complete mystery to me.
  3. If you try again, the website gently reminds you that you are a spammer now. And no, it won’t let you post another comment on the site, evar.
  4. Unless you create an account, of course.

Ironically, the original post was made anonymously. And not, I can’t be bothered to open up yet another account for yet another website.

Anyways, to give you the clue: Instead of using that dirrrty dirrrty script the article’s author has provided, you could simply apt-get install ifrename. Users of etch or unstable might want to use aptitude instead of apt-get, of course.

 

When software patents attack…

Thursday, November 9th, 2006

This is an account of a Free Software project getting harrased by a ligitation troll. Methods used are frivolously applied patents, copyright and trademark infringment and the unavoidable lawsuits that usually come along in such cases.

This is a must read for everyone who still thinks software patents are a good idea. For all the others, please read it as well. You need to know The Enemytm.

I was disgusted when I read that report. I still find it hard to believe that someone can do such things and get away with it. Fortunately, nothing’s decided yet. Lets hope this example will be a good precedent for everyone, not only in the EU, to realise how bad software patents are.
 

Ladislav Bodnar sells out?

Monday, November 6th, 2006

I spotted a couple of strange things in today’s distrowatch.com news column.

First of all, he starts bashing the novell-ms deal. I don’t mind him doing that. However, I still fail to see what kind of significant impact this deal will have onto the world of Free Software (I will elaborate on that on a later post if I find the time). Joining the bandwaggon will give ms and novell lots of bad publicity, but it will give them lots of publicity, as well.

Anyways, that’s not my main concern. A couple of sections later you can read a very favourable review of Mandriva 2007. Unfortunately, the quick availability of non-free software components in Mandriva 2007 seems to be a big selling point for Ladislav. I wonder why he doesn’t use ms windows if all that non-free crappola a la acroread, flash, realplayer, codecs, mp3 are so important to him. The concern about mp3 is particulary ironic, making his complaints about the novell-ms deal look a wee bit hypocritic, doesn’t it? Ladislav is setting a bad example here, at least from the software freedom point of view. As long as people like him make the quality of the "GNU/Linux desktop experience" dependent on the availability of these non-free components, GNU/Linux will never be ready for the desktop. People have to be made aware of the alternatives, like vorbis, theora, gnash, xpdf and whatnot. A completely free software desktop is indeed possible, including all the multimedia bling. And its not very difficult to go there, actually. I mean, even he does mention gnewsense.

However, that’s not all of it. "Surprisingly," a raffle is announced immediately following the review. And what can you win? n boxes of …*drumroll*… Mandriva 2007 powapakk!!!

Coincidence? Perhaps? Perhaps Mr. Bodnar just sold out to Mandriva, pocketing some dough for a favourable review on one of the most popular GNU/Linux news and info websites.

Update: In a comment on the same page, it’s number 93 if you want to scroll down that far, Ladislav Bodnar rebukes that he never accepted any money or other compensation from Mandriva. He says that he bought the software himself.

Ubuntu Edgy sux

Thursday, November 2nd, 2006

X doesn’t recognise the laptop’s built-in display.

Safe graphics mode doesn’t work, either. 

The new bootslpash screen b0rks your computer.

Many Ubuntu devs seem to have disappeared.

Meanwhile Ubuntu keeps drowning in bug reports. That’s somewhat to be expected after a release, but one could also expect that bug reports get dealt with more quickly. I know many of the reports are upstream bugs, but the lack of acknowledgement of bug reports from the devs frutrates me. I’m sitting there trying to do proper triage for the bug report I’m involved in, and nothing happens.

This really shows the limits of a "semi-fork" like Ubuntu. Judging the number of Canonical employees and the current size of the developer community (including volunteer helpers), Ubuntu is simply not able to cope with their own success.

If you want to be a big player in the Linux distribution game, re-packaging Debian and adding some bling is not enough. You’ll have to develop significant in-house expertise on the software you are distributing if you don’t want to depend on the next upstream release to fix your users’ bugs. Redhat, SUSE/Novell, Debian have that. Other big players like Mandriva probably have it, as well. Ubuntu isn’t right there yet.

Ubuntu used to hype their bugsquad and their bug days. However, too many "unpopular" bugs that no-one wants to triage nor investigate still fall through the net. Take the three bugs I mentioned above. None of them are critical on their own. Added together however, they make the system unusable and have the potential of sending manymany users running aways after their first steps with GNU/Linux.

If Ubuntu really wants to do more things better than all the other distros, dealing with bugs should be one of their prime topics. A bug squad that actually looks at every reported bug and triages it properly instead of letting it rot in the bts would be a big advantage compared to other big distros. However, that requires significantly more developer power than Ubuntu has got at the moment.

And btw: Next time, please don’t disappear to conferences shortly after a release.