Saint’s Log

The log of someone struggling to avoid the use of non free software

Free contents make technology free

March 15th, 2011


No need to argue. DRM do hinder even very legitimate usage, like purchasing an e-book and reading it, just because Adobedrones do not release their bloody tool for your favourite O.S.

But there are lots of cool e-book readers, some run GNU/Linux (door open for hacking). And there are tons of contents that are not protected by DRM: think about the Gutemberg Project and all its public domain e-books.

Furhtermore calibre, a powerful GNU GPL application to manage e-book collections and send them to the reader, can pack into a single e-pub one or more HTML pages: get the “printer friendly” documentation page of your favourite free software and turn it into an e-book to read it on an e-ink screen. Your eyes will be glad :).

My reader is the Sony PRS350. I wanted something where you can flip pages moving a finger rather than pushing a button. For about 42 years I readed books this way :), buttons are for moving the starship in Space Invaders! ūüôā

Sony indeed is one of the hungriest scalpers with the contents and I feared I was facing some nasty, Apple iP* style, mandatory application to interact with the device, something that must be run in Windows or Mac.

With my surprise, I discovered I could mount the device and explore its file system.

Then I tried calibre, cool looking and powerful. But with the same Google search that let me discover calibre, I found in the PDF manual that the device uses GNU GPL-ed software and the manual gives you a link to the sources (it runs GNU/Linux…)

Even if, at first glance,  it seems that their reader is a Win-or-mac only too, the PRS 350 is very Free OS friendly.

Since I am one that refuses to use automount, gnome, kde and such, I had just to enter a couple of lines in /etc/fstab to let any user mount the reader as an USB disk:

LABEL=READER    /media/READER    vfat        user,noauto    0    0
LABEL=SETTING    /media/SETTING    vfat        ro,user,noauto    0    0
LABEL=TUX    /tux        vfat        user,noauto    0    0
LABEL=PANDA    /panda        vfat        user,noauto    0    0

The first two lines are for the e-book reader, the other two are for my USB pens, so I can always mount them as user, no matter which device they get (use mlabel, from GNU mtools, to edit USB pen labels. And yes, my usb pens are penguin and panda shaped). With these lines I am free to use calibre as a simple user without tools I don’t want.

The next step after having my books from the Gutemberg Project and my work documents and notes on the reader was checking if I could use the drawings made with the reader notepad.

I feared for some obscure format. I was almost sure that it was some sort of vector format because of the behaviour of the “eraser” on the screen. I was glad to discover, with a run of the file utility on the sketch files, that the notes are in XML. A brief look with emacsclient and The Gimp confirmed that it’s SVG. COOL!

Therefore, while you forget to use DRM covered contents, the device offers a free use. Free as in freedom.

And for DRM ? Save your time (running wine, VMs) and your money, leave DRM protected contents on the shelf. Do only FREE (as in freedom) purchases, much better if gratis ones!

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January 10th, 2011

Due to some ‘smart’ and ‘nice’ [insert your favorite profanity], I was force to disable comments and trackbacks on past post. This post is no-comment no-trackback tooo.

How much is it open ? And how much is it free ?

July 6th, 2010

For a company project I am working with both Alfresco and Liferay. You can download the community edition, and I am working on it. Extending this stuff is not easy, at least it’s not easy for me. Where’s the Fine manual ? Where can I find some docs indexed in a way that does not generate the answer “bananas” when I am looking for “apples”.

I tried some books from PACKT, I would not advice them.

And forget the supplied localizations. We are still recovering from laughs.

One doubt. Yes, I got it under LGPL, but with all those obstacles on changing it, how much are they free ?

When you know how it works…

April 22nd, 2008

Sunday my external HD crashed on the floor, a Bad Thing(TM).

Luckily, it hosted an ext3 file system -free with all the documentation available-, so, even if the hardware is broken (it works, then it fails, then it works again), you can recover the infos using dd (it’s what my wife is doing – she’s the Sysadmin).

If you know how it is made you can fix it!

(or at least salvage it ūüôā ).

I hate this :>

December 22nd, 2007

I got my work laptop fixed and I got one more evidence that proprietary software sucks!

The support service replaced the main board. Gnu/Linux had NO problem to start, Eclipse needed just some workplace path fixing. Windows eXtra Panzone (extra fatty) instead prompted me again for the activation procedure. I heard about something like this if the kludge did’nt¬† like the “hardware signature”.

O.K. let’s do it by netw… GODAMMIT! The IP and gateway are those of another network, and the system prevents me from fixing the network config… Paranoid, idiot bloodsuckers!

Now I have some options left…

  1. Dial Microsoft for reactivating the machine and bow to their diktat;
  2. Dial Microsoft for reactivating the machine and bill them the time I’ll spend on it;
  3. Claim that XP is not functional anymore preventing me from working on any project that requires working with Windows. In a few weeks the XP partition could be replaced by an EXT3 one.

The¬† one guessing what’s my favorite option will win the golden galleon Harry owes me…

Nice things… I broke my left wrist (not this nice) so I can’t drive until January 11th (this is nice, I’ m starting hating driving1). Therefore the “Euridice” pizzata (pizza meeting) took place in my home. “Euridice” guys (malveo and mmzz) left some nice markings on my plaster cast: “pkill -9 java” (I program in Java at work) “vim rulez” (I’m an emacsite monk :), I use Emacs in almost all my work activities ) and the best one “dpkg –reconfigure arm”.

Honor citation to Minni’s

bones.each do |b| |

1 Here in Veneto region all the cars queued could make a live much much longer than the road network, there are too many cars…

Free Software Banzai!

December 6th, 2007

This morning my laptop did not start. A bit of a problem, since I had to show the new Eclipse plugin to the co-worker/customer

A quick rush to the HW mantainance guy and in few minutes we set up a replacement box with my laptop HD and a live GNU/Linux distribution CD. Not the most comfortable environment around but at least I was back on the track.

What saved my ass was that I work with a Free Software OS and tools. The HW guy was free to download a live Linux distribution CD. He was free to give me a copy. And in all those years there was nothing preventing me to gathering the skills (a very few ones indeed) i needed to set up a bit of tools so that I can work with this CD based GNU/Linux (almost) in the same way I work with my custom tailored environment.

Yes, you could build yourself a (NameANonFreeOS) live disk, but you can’t download it whenever you need one. And I am not if that is completly legal…

New home for my log.

December 5th, 2007

I think I’ll move my log here from the former

Why ? I prefer Free Software to simply GNU/Linux (even if i’m very happy with my GNU/Linux¬† box).

What do I do in my life ? I write code. And I costantly work to avoid the use and the creation of non free software.

What I feel that matters is that the user has the right to do whatever he wants with the code we release, even if it’s something no one else will find useful (or at least useful without overhauling an re-customizing).

Oh, why a verbatim license on this post ? Simple, have you thought about someone editing your thoughts ? ūüôā