Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

Archive for the month “March, 2008”

The Open Week – Issue 11

What do the Mormons, Linus Torvalds, Thai artists, internetproviders and lawyers have in common? At least they all figure in this week’s issue of The Open Week. Apart from open content from Thailand we will look at open source offerings from Germany, legal interactions in Scandinavia and see various viewpoints around open solutions for businesses.

Open Mormons

About a year ago I was approached the pastor of a pentecostal church, who wanted to curb the use of illegal software by the church members. He wanted to know whether free and legal alternatives existed. In short, he went home with a copy of the Ubuntu cd. True, afficionados of free and open source software quickly show their evangelical nature, but it still is remarkable to see the extend to which church organisations open up in this regard.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a.k.a. the Mormons, is looking for IT-staffers with open source talents. Matt Asay,himself a Mormon, is enthused about this. The Mormons are looking for someone to build and maintain a community of developmers. I was surprised to see such a community of developers already exists. Maybe the glory days of Wordperfect, with it’s roots in the Mormon community, will rise again.

The British Journal of Mormon Studies (BJMS) recently published it’s first issue. The BJMS is an open access scholarly magazine, in this case dedicated to the study of the Mormon church.

Open source evangelists

Now that we are in the evangelizing spirit: eWeek published a list ofthe 15 most important movers and shakers of the open source realm. Number 1 on the list is Linus Torvalds, number 15 is John Robberts of SugarCRM. The list has only one woman, Mitchell Baker of the Mozilla Foundation. Richard M. Stallman isn’t on the list, nor are the older ‘icons’ like Eric S. Raymond and Bruce Perens.

Meanwhile, Jeff Waugh isn’t too pleased with the actions and attitude of a radical minority of open source evangelists. He sees extreme personal attacks directed at government officials that dare to be critical about open solutions. People appear to forget, as far as Jeff is concerned, that these officials have a positive attitude towards open solutions and that critical remarks stem from real life issues in their own organizations. It’s time supporters of free and open source software realize that people with differing viewpoints are not the enemy, but partners in a discussion.

Open Content in Thailand

Cameron Perkins reports about the open content platform FUSE! in Thailand. It’s chosen Creative Commons-license allows for easy redistributions. This is being done in a quarterly publication (with dvd) that combines the best contributions and is being distributed via bookstores and universities.


There is no let up in the attempts to curb peer2peer networks. In Iceland the attempt has been halted (for now) by the court. The judge has ruled that it is not illegal to offer torrent files, as these files are not the copyrighted materials themselves. Awaiting the rulings in appeal the website will remain shut down.

TorrentSpy decided to close down in the United States. Earlier rulings forced TorrentSpy to log the activities of it’s users and hand over those logs to the MPAA, the American representative of the movie industry. Despite some attempts to circumvent the letter of the ruling, legal pressure mounted and TorrentSpy decided to call it quits.

The international lobby organization for the music industry, IFPI, tries to force internetproviders to close access to popular torrentsites. In Sweden, one of the largest providers, Telia Sonera refuses to honor the “request” by the IFPI. Telia Sonera beliefs the request conflicts with EU regulations on wire tapping. Norwegian providers refuse to cooperate as well . On behalf of IKT Norge, a platform of Norwegian internetproviders, Hallstein Bjerke says: “In a constitutional state, the police and the prosecuting authority have the job of investigating and indicting, not lawyers and communication engineers”

From the east

Our German neighbors have been generous last week. For those who want to download a few Gb of free and open source software the Opensource-DVD 9.0 is waiting. The collection (2,6 Gb) consists of applications for security, multimedia, graphics, internet/network, programming, office applications and tools, all for Windows. Most software is in German, but the descriptions contain hyperlinks to the original productsites.

The second gift is Knoppix 5.3.1.This dvd 4,2 Gb) has the ADRIANA audio desktop and Orca screanreader for the visually impaired.

Open Business

The challenge of expanding free and open solutions in the business market was the center of various articles. Computerworld’s Todd Weiss reports three key issues:

  • the timely delivery of new features and bug fixes;
  • the need for more predictable product road maps;
  • the lack of IT workers with open-source skills and experience.

Various enterprise users of MySQL express their hopes that Sun Microsystem will influence the development of the database in the right direction. Remarkably, these are users for whom open solutions are seen as an alternative to proprietary solutions that are bought. They are hardly interested in contributing actively to the development of the software.

Jim Whitehurst, the new CEO of Red Hat, wants enterprise users to be even more involved in the development of open solutions. In his opinion, the development of open solutions is still too much the playground of a few large IT-vendors. The article point to Eclipse as a good example, since the Eclipse Foundation decided it is time to be more independent from IBM.

The Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) started a commercial sibling, Moglen Ravicher LLC. The SFLC offers free legal services to developers of free and open source software. For profit organizations couldn’t use the SFLC’s expertise, but with the commercial office in place this problem is solved. The first client is reported to be OpenNMS.

The Open Week is a weekly overview of interesting developments in the realm of free and open source software, open content, open access, open knowledge and digital rights. Maybe the items did hit the major news sites, maybe they didn’t, but the focus is not particularly mainstream.

The Open Week – Issue 11? Where are the other 10? Well, The Open Week is the English translation of a weekly article on Livre, a Dutch online news magazine. I decided to post it parallel on my weblog and didn’t want to change the issue number.

I know it is quiet

I know I have been neglecting the Ruminations on the Digital Realm weblog for some time now. The last couple of months have been busy with writing for the Dutch online magazine, Livre. Writing day in, day out and going over 1000+ articles everyday doesn’t leave much time.

There is good news as well. It looks like I’ll be writing a couple of books this year on a variety of open source related topics. I am also playing with Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop and SabayonLinux for future articles. For Livre I write a weekly article with a broader perspective on developments in free and open source software, open content, open access and digital rights. I guess it is time to translate them into English and publish them here as well.

So, I promise to be more active again.

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