"It's yet another in a long series of diversions in an attempt to avoid responsibility." - Chris Knight

Archive for the ‘Open Source’ Category

Clean Archives Version 4.3 Released

May 18th, 2008 by iDunzo

Small update to allow Clean Archives to work with WordPress version 2.5.x and above including 2.6.x.

Please note that if you are running an older version of WordPress prior to release 2.5.x, you will either need to run Clean Archives 4.2 or 2.2. Check the clean archives project page for more information.

A completely rewritten version of clean archives is in the works and should be released within the next couple of weeks, so keep checking back for more information.

Thanks for your continued support.

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What’s Microsoft Really Buying With Yahoo?

February 4th, 2008 by iDunzo

It’s a tough question, isn’t it? Is Microsoft buying Yahoo because of its long-term and broad-scale expertise with open source? If so, to what end?

Well, I thought, maybe what they’re really buying is the expertise of the Yahoo programming team, akin to what I felt was happening with Sun and MySQL.

Unfortunately, the theory doesn’t seem to work here.

Microsoft’s current stance on open source is, from what I can tell, to provide a compelling case to run open source packages on Windows — that is, as long as we’re leaving the Linux patent issue entirely out of the picture.

How they feel about open source on something the size and scope of Yahoo isn’t clear at all — and maybe that’s why they want some existing experts in that field.

Perhaps what they’re looking for are teams from Yahoo’s side that they can put to work creating online applications — to gussy up Windows Live?

The incoherence of Windows Live is about as bad as the incoherence that swarmed around .NET when Microsoft unleashed that way back when.

So, perhaps the thinking goes, why not bring in people who seem to be natural experts at this sort of thing?

The problem, again, is one of clashing corporate cultures: Microsoft and Yahoo do not look, act, or think remotely alike. This is a far deeper problem than I think Microsoft is willing to admit, retention incentives aside.

If Microsoft is doing this to get their hands on experts, there’s nothing that says the very people they want most are not going to jump ship and head somewhere friendlier.

Perhaps Microsoft will jettison its existing online unit wholesale and simply swap Yahoo in for that — well, maybe not all at once, but over enough time to allow some kind of transition from Microsoft’s services to Yahoo’s.

Maybe the best way to approach this is just to leave the question open: What is Microsoft really buying?

The more I think about it, the more I’m wondering if even Microsoft knows by now.

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OS/2 To Stay Closed, Says IBM

January 22nd, 2008 by iDunzo

Well, you can’t say they didn’t try.

After one of the more prominent online OS/2 communities (OS2 World) delivered a politely worded petition with 11,000 signatures to IBM to make OS/2 into an open source product, the word has come back from IBM: Sorry, but no. Not happening.

To be honest, the more I thought about this issue, especially after realizing how much third-party material also was tied up in OS/2’s codebase the more I settled on the conclusion that it simply wasn’t going to happen.

The wording of the rejection letter itself hints obliquely at that: “…for a variety of business, technical, and legal reasons we have decided to not pursue any OS/2 open source projects.”

I suspect the legal issues have become all the more tangled since their licensing of OS/2 as eComStation, which is sold as a closed-source commercial product, and is currently in a round of betas to release version 2.0 of the product which, according to their site, is “available early 2008”.

In that light, OS/2 and its associated technologies are far from being “abandonware”, as some people have put it, so it’s not surprising that IBM would not exactly dive into a project like this with sleeves rolled up.

IBM’s stance has long been to encourage anyone running OS/2 to migrate away to something else, and while it may not be the friendliest stance to take, over time it’s become the most realistic.

I feel bad for the petitioners, even though at this point I’ve come to completely understand where IBM is coming from.

They don’t see the payoff as being worth the effort, and they’ve already got a partner company wringing extra life out of OS/2 with their own compatible project.

It was brave for the OS/2 fans to try, but maybe it’s just time to move on.

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Better Living Through Open Source: The Directory

December 28th, 2007 by iDunzo

Open Source Living is a recently-established directory of open-source software.

Basically it’s stuff you can use without having to pay for it and without worrying about proprietary software issues.

Most of the criteria for inclusion in the Open Source Living revolve around the nature of the licensing for the product — it has to be freely redistributable, not discriminatory in its licensing, with source code available, etc.

To that end, the programs already listed in the Open Source Living Directory are something of a “who’s who” of open-source success stories: Firefox, OpenOffice, 7-Zip, and so on.

A fair number of Mac-specific open-source programs are also featured: Camino, Vienna, and NeoOffice.

The layout and design of the site are friendly and clean; it doesn’t look like something that was thrown together in an afternoon.

The Open Source Living was originally derived to list free programs regardless of their source or licensing provisions, and so there are still a few programs listed in the Open Source Living catalog that are free without being open source like Irfanview.

Over time, though, they will be dropped in favor of applications that are entirely open and since I’m an Irfanview user I’m curious to see what could eventually replace it.

I like resources like this for two reasons. One, even someone like me can remain unaware for a long time of a well-developed and highly useful open-source project, and it’s a pleasure to stumble across such a thing in a forum where other people have already vetted it for quality.

A listed project that I’m now curious about, Haiku, picks up where BeOS left off, and if done right could be a serious desktop contender. That’s a long way off and won’t come without major hurdles, but my attention has definitely been captured.

Two, it’s a way for newcomers to open source — people who simply don’t know what’s out there — to get introduced to the available applications without having to dig through an installation repository or just stumble around.

They can find out relatively quickly what’s worthwhile, what other people are using and benefiting from, and what applications cover what sort of duties like the difference between OpenOffice or Scribus.

Perhaps in the future we’ll see features like detailed community feedback or comments on each entry, but for now the forums on the site are handling that job.

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Get And Give The Gift of Open Source

December 7th, 2007 by iDunzo

This Christmas I decided to give a few gifts to people in the open-source community.

I’m making donations to the maintainers of some of my favorite and most widely-used software projects. They’ve earned some payback!

Most of the programs I depend on most, I’ve discovered, are actually not big ones — they’re little things, applications that fill in the gaps between other apps, and that make my work all the easier.

The first big open-source project that gets a little of my Christmas cheer is the PortableApps suite, an incredibly useful bundle of no-install-needed editions of popular open-source programs.

It’s a one-stop shop of sorts for a whole slew of common apps — Firefox, the OpenOffice.org suite, VLC, and 7-Zip — and it can be run either from a removable drive or from a single self-contained directory on a PC.

I’ve pointed a number of friends at it as an easy way to consolidate all of their applications and documents into one place.

If they upgrade to a new machine — or if their PC ever gets borked and they need to recover files from it — they can simply copy the PortableApps directory somewhere else and pick up right where they left off.

It’s funny how many open-source projects of one kind or another you can end up using without even thinking about it.

Not long ago I started using the above-mentioned 7-Zip as my archiving application of choice — not only because it was open-source, but because it actually gave me slightly better compression ratios than WinRAR on certain kinds of files.

I’d originally started to use it provisionally, more as a companion program to WinRAR than a flat-out replacement.

Eventually I disabled WinRAR’s Explorer menu integration; not long after that, I deinstalled WinRAR completely. Any program that gets that much use from me deserves a hand.

Some of my other favorite programs are not open source, but are freeware and get my support just because they’re that good.

The image viewer and converter Irfanview, for instance: I can’t think of any other program I install as unhesitatingly on any computer as this one, and that I get quite as much use out of. Its author definitely gets a donation from me this year, whether there’s source code or not.

What projects, open-source or not — but ones you’ve used regularly — have you donated to?

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Macedonia picks Ubuntu for 20,000 PCs

November 17th, 2007 by iDunzo

A batch of 7,000 PCs with Ubuntu Linux have been sent to Macedonian schools, the first of a collection that Ubuntu sponsor Canonical expects will reach 20,000.

Through a program called Computer for Every Child, the Macedonia Ministry of Education and Science plans to install the PCs throughout its elementary and secondary school system.

Ubuntu will run on the 20,000 PCs, but 160,000 more students will be able to share those machines using hardware from NComputing, Canonical plans to announce Tuesday. The PCs are being supplied and installed by Haier, a Chinese PC maker.

The Computer for Every Child initiative is the largest and most important education project undertaken in the 15-year history of the Republic of Macedonia.

By selecting Ubuntu as the operating system for all of our classroom virtual PCs, our education system can provide computer-based education for all schoolchildren within the limited financial and infrastructural confines that most institutions face today.

– Ivo Ivanovski, Macedonia’s minister for the information society

The schools are using version 7.04 of Edubuntu, a version of Ubuntu tailored for classroom use.

With PCs already commonplace in richer countries, companies such as Intel, Microsoft, and Canonical are focusing on reaching markets in developing countries.

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