Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

Archive for the month “December, 2007”

The top ten of hypes I avoided in 2007

When it comes to hypes I have one automatic response: stay away from it. Maybe I value my individuality too much or do I simply distrust anything that can stir a mass of people into ‘me too’ behavior. Fortunately, time often proves me right and that what was once considered a ‘must have’ or ‘must do’, sunk into oblivion shortly after I avoided it. It might not be scientific reasoning, but it did save me quite a lot of money or stress over the years. Looking back at 2007 I could identify ten hypes that I virtually ignored or actively avoided. With my track record this could almost serve as a list of things that are about to disappear as well.

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There is nothing wrong with the Dutch software market. At least according to the Dutch Cartel Office

It was expected by some. For the third year in a row the Dutch Cartel Office (NMa) decided there were no reasons to look into the Dutch software market, despite requests made by people in the field of commerce and education and by the Dutch parliament.

In a letter send to me (and perhaps the other writers as well, link to Dutch text), the NMa explains that there is no evidence to suggest an abuse of the dominant market position by Microsoft in such a way that it prohibits other operating systems and software to compete. Since the consumer hardly requests anything else than a computer with Windows, it is no problem for the NMa if that means that vendors pre-install Windows.
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Thirty days with PCLinuxOS – The case of Ultumix or How not to remaster PCLinuxOS

One of the core principles of open source development is “freedom”. As such, there are few limitations for developers and end users to take the work of others and move it into a direction they deem better. This has led to a proliferation of Linux distributions, remasters and scores of applications that sometimes are hard to distinguish from other distributions, remasters or applications. It’s not an ideal situation but somehow quality material always seems to stick around, while the rest sinks back into oblivion.

Another core principle is perhaps “respect”. Freedom is never an absolute. You can fork a distribution or an application, but you don’t have the freedom to remove or change the underlying licenses. You respect that. Why this introduction?
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Thirty days with PCLinuxOS – Preparations

In June 2007 I wrote a review about PCLinuxOS. The conclusions were not all positive, nor completely negative, but nevertheless it resulted in quite a few comments. I shouldn’t have picked on the ” Radically simple” slogan and criticize PCLinuxOS like that. Maybe, maybe not. I do believe in the strength of criticism as a tool for improvement and part of the essence of open source development is peer review. I also believe that end users should contribute to the discussion from their own experiences and viewpoints.

That being said I also feel that PCLinuxOS warrants a more in depth look and what better way to do that, than to actually use and work with it for 30 days. The previous two series were about PC-BSD and DesktopBSD.

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Breathing life in an ancient piece of hardware – The Pocket Linux Guide

One of the things I want to do in 2008 is to write a series “Thirty days on the command line”. I know it has been done before, which means that I have more than enough background material to tackle the problems I no doubt will encounter.

A few weeks ago I got a big box from a friend who cleaned out his study. There was enough cards and components to build two computers again and one of those is on it’s way back, with Ubuntu of course. Some stuff was simply vintage material giving an indication of how much we had to go through to expand our hardware.

One item opens the way for a great experiment: an old Compaq laptop with a whopping 4 Mb RAM and a huge 84 Mb hard drive. No CD-ROM and I don’t even think there is a network connection on it. Ii’s a guess, but I don’t think Compiz Fusion will run on it. Time to start looking for a small Linux distribution that can be installed via floppy disks. With this and the 2008 plan in mind I stumbled into The Pocket Linux Guide.
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PC World – The 15 Biggest Tech Disappointments of 2007

I think I am enjoying this role of “What happened in 2007 lists?”. The period between two completely arbitrary dates, January 1st and December 31st, is at least an inspiration to some writers. PC-World’s Dan Tynan writes about the biggest disappointments of 2007. Would you be surprised by the number 1 disappointment? But why 15?

The list:

1. Windows Vista (to quote an English comediant: ¨I feel sorry for the elephants”)
2. Blu-ray versus HD (seems like a lost cause, both of them)
3. Facebook Beacon (to much ads will kill you)
4. Yahoo (doesn’t choose well between commercial interest and human rights)
5. Apple iPhone (who ever thought Apple stuff would be cheap?)
6. Broad band industry (net-neutrality endangered)
7. Voice over IP (Vonage struggles against patent claims, another US based problem)
8. Mac OS X Leopard
9. Office 2007 (hmmm, I actually like the ribbon)
10. Wireless carriers (looks like a US based problem, please keep it there)
11. Microsoft Zune (too much DRM killed it? Why?)
12. Internet Security (I guess someone finally realized it isn’t there)
13. Social Networks (your friends are everywhere)
14. Municipal WiMax (free wifi city wide)
15. Amazon Unbox (on-demand video)

It’s quite a USA centric list, but don’t forget: US stuff usually reaches other parts of the globe sooner or later.

Datamation – Open Source Pros pick their favorite projects

Now that we know where to make a profit in the open source realm, we can move on to the next list: “What are the fun projects for 2008?” Datamation asked a group of open source movers and shakers about their favorite projects. One conclusion: they are broadly interested in multiple projects.

  • Jeff Waugh (director of the GNOME Foundation): WordPress, Bugzilla, OLPC, Cairo, Evolution
  • Lee Congdon (VP of Information Services Red Hat): Zimbra, JBoss Hibernate,
  • Sebastion Kugler (KDE): Xorg, KDE/Plasma, Free Software Foundation
  • Marten Mickos (CEO of MySQL AB): memcached, Maatkit, PrimeBase XT, XAMPP, Hadoop
  • Simon Crosby (CTO XenSource): OpenSolaris, Mozilla, Xen
  • Stormy Peters (Director of Community and Partner Programs Open Logic): Linux kernel, Apache httpd, GNOME
  • Miguel de Icaza (GNOME, Mono): Compiz Fusion, Ruby on Rails, IronRuby
  • Bharat Mediratta (Gallery): Debian, Xemacs, Firefox
  • Greg Kroah-Hartman (Linux kernel hacker): Linux kernel, GNU Compiler Collection, Git
  • Michael Meeks (Novell): GNOME,, Mono
  • Ross Turk (Sourceforge Community Manager): dimdim
  • Dirk Riehle (SAP Labs): PostgreSQL, MySQL, Eclipse.

TechIQ – 10 open source companies set to dominate 2008

Now that the end-of-year bonuses are coming in it is time to look for investment opportunities. We all know how much money is earned when working with and writing about open source and open standards 😉

Anyway, TechIQ has compiled a list of companies that should be considered succesful in 2008. Here are the companies and their products

1. MySQL – MySQL database
2. Digium – Asterisk (VoIP)
3. SugarCRM – SugarCRM
4. Google Android – Android (open software and applications platform for smart phones)
5. Canonical – Ubuntu
6. JasperSoft – Business intelligence
7. OpenBravo – Enterprise Resource Planning
8. Automattic – WordPress
9. Untangle – open source gateway to block spam, spyware, viruses and adware
10. Red Hat – Red Hat server

    Linux Love: Comprehensive Linux System Services List – Explanation and Recommendation

    I still have a laptop that dual boots into Windows and Ubuntu. Needless to say that Windows boot up has become horribly slow after a year of working and playing with, installing and removing software. One of the things to speed it up is to check all the processes that try to run at boot time and disable them.

    Linux Love has an overview of (possibly) all services that run at boot time on your Linux desktop, that take time, eat resources and whatever, but that could be disabled without causing a lot of problems. You might need to prepare your system for it.

    For Debian (Ubuntu) systems, there’s a graphical application that comes with Gnome, I think. You can find it in the menu, under Administration / Services or run it by typing services-admin in a terminal. However, I’ve noticed that this tool doesn’t list all daemons in /etc/init.d so it’s better to use another. I don’t know of any other GUI system managers for Debian/Ubuntu so use one of the few console-based ones:

    Install it with:
    $ sudo apt-get install sysv-rc-conf

    Run it with:
    $ sudo sysv-rc-conf

    or, sysvconfig
    Install it with:
    $ sudo apt-get install sysvconfig

    Run it with:
    $ sudo sysvconfig

    Just use the one you’re most comfortable with.

    Well, if you have some time to spare in the coming weeks and want to squeeze the last bit of speed out of your Linux box, this could be fun. At your own risk of course 😉

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    Stallman: 'OpenBSD Ports Suggests Non-Free Software'

    “East is east and west is west, and never the twain shall meet.” OSNews reports about an exchange between the ever cuddly Richard Stallman and the always cordial Theo de Raadt of OpenBSD. What is the issue?

    According to Richard Stallman the OpenBSD ports collection isn’t as free as he wants it to be. To quote from his post on the OpenBSD-misc mailing list:

    Since I consider non-free software to be unethical and antisocial, I think it would be wrong for me to recommend it to others. Therefore, if a collection of software contains (or suggests installation of) some non-free program, I do not recommend it. The systems I recommend are therefore those that do not contain (or suggest installation of) non-free software.

    From what I have heard, OpenBSD does not contain non-free software (though I am not sure whether it contains any non-free firmware blobs). However, its ports system does suggest non-free programs, or at least so I was told when I looked for some BSD variant that I could
    recommend. I therefore exercise my freedom of speech by not including OpenBSD in the list of systems that I recommend to the public.

    I could recommend OpenBSD privately with a clear conscience to someone I know will not install those non-free programs, but it is rare that I am asked for such recommendations, and I know of no practical reason to prefer OpenBSD to gNewSense.

    Well, you can imagine this didn’t fall well in the OpenBSD community and frankly, I have to agree with them. I appreciate Stallman’s view on free software and actually support the GPL v3, but his argument here seems a bit silly. He doesn’t know whether non-free software is in the ports collection, but since the ports collection could contain non-free software it is wrong to use OpenBSD. Unless you are a good friend of Richard and he knows you wouldn’t touch non-free stuff with a 10 foot pole.

    Not surprisingly Theo de Raadt had his say about it:

    There is nothing to discuss with me.
    Richard claimed that there is non-free software in OpenBSD. That is not true.
    It is no more true than Linux being able to run commercial binaries.
    The ports tree is just a scaffold.
    Richard, you are wrong. You said very clearly in your interview that the ports tree contains non-free software. It does not. It is just a scaffold of Makefiles containing URLs, and an occasional patch here or there.
    You are just plain wrong. And you are not enough of a man to admit that you are wrong.
    I may be unfriendly at times, but you are a power-misusing hypocritical liar who attacks projects that try harder than any others to only make free software available.
    Shame on you.

    No doubt this will turn into a GNU/Linux versus BSD debate again. Interesting as a pass time, but utterly useless in the end.

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