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FSlint: annoyingly vague, but useful

Version 2.20 of FSlint is a program whose functionality is at odds with its design. On the one hand, a program for -- as the name suggests --- locating and removing unnecessary or useless material ("lint") from a filesystem is a handy one to install. On the other hand, a rough interface with cryptic buttons and options and a lack of anything except minimal help files makes accessing its options a bit of a challenge, especially at first. more>>

Why the Office Format Wars are Not Over

Gone are the days when free software could blithely ignore what was happening in the world of proprietary code. The two approaches are now inextricably intertwined as more and more users and companies choose to run both. One paradoxical consequence of this is that as free software becomes more widely deployed, Microsoft's impact on it becomes greater. Against this background, a recent shift in Microsoft's public statements about open source assumes a particular importance. more>>

Internet Radio on Death Row

Internet Radio has been sentenced to death.

In a move that recalls the Vogons' decision to destroy Earth to clear the way for a highway bypass through space (a thankfully fictional premise of Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy), the judges comprising the Copyright Royalty Board have decided to destroy the Internet radio industry so the Recording Industry won't be inconvenienced by something it doesn't know, like or understand. more>>

The Fun of LDAP - objectClass Attributes

OK - I actually like and enjoy LDAP, but do not allow that to cloud your judgment. LDAP took much more of my time and effort to learn than Bind and/or DNS. And I recall sitting in front of DNS chapters wondering why we needed another language to do something as easy as mapping a friendly name to an IP address. This jargon stuff has value though such as constraing insomnia. more>>

Can Apple clear the way for the Linux desktop?

That's the question that occurs to me as I read this piece in Roughly Drafted. It's about how Apple is kicking Microsoft's butt at the high end of the desktop market, and how Microsoft seems to be bumbling its way out of desktop hegemony anyway. Linux is mentioned only twice in this long piece, but the harbingery of the references are significant. Here's the enclosing quote:

Combined with the dominance of the iPod over devices using Microsoft's PlaysForSure, the imminent goring of Windows Mobile by the iPhone, and the shift of support across the industry from Windows to Linux in servers, the days of Microsoft's monopolistic grip on the desktop are winding down.

Apple doesn't have to take a majority share of the desktop market to win, it only needs to take the most valuable segments of the market.

Once that happens, Microsoft will be forced to choose whether it wants to battle Mac OS X for control of the slick consumer desktop, or repurpose Windows as a cheaper, mass market alternative to Linux in corporate sales.

And, at some point, consumer sales as well. more>>

A Modest GNU/Linux Proposal for Michael Dell

For anyone who has been using open source for a while, the current commercial enthusiasm for communities, collaboration, and all things Web 2.0, is rather amusing. After all, the idea that users are not to be regarded simply as passive and grateful recipients of whatever is handed down to them from on high, but need to be treated as partners and participants who can make valuable contributions to the formulation and development of new products, is central to the way that free software works. But some companies that are starting to dabble with Web 2.0 ideas are discovering that you have to be careful what you wish for when you solicit this kind of user feedback. Just ask Michael Dell. more>>

A Host For Native Linux VST Plugins ?

Fully functional support for the VST plugin standard is one of the most important remaining problems for the Linux audio world. VST plugins are ubiquitous in the Win/Mac audio worlds, they are employed extensively in professional and desktop music software, and it may be no exaggeration to claim that the VST standard has revolutionized computer-based creation of music and sound. Given its great popularity this writer believes that stable VST support would give Windows users a compelling reason to try Linux as an alternate or replacement platform, especially if they have a sizeable investment of money and experience in their collection of VST plugins. more>>

New Releases Lead to Better Ruby Testing

The last week or so has seen new releases of two of my favorite additions to testing (or speccing if you're of the BDD persuasion) in the Ruby world. zenspider and Kevin Clark have released a new version of Heckle on the 20th, and Mauricio Fernandez released a new version of rcov this morning (the 21st). more>>

Ruby Performance

Antonio Cangiano posted a Ruby Implementation Shootout on his blog last week. While it's an interesting piece (and will likely be more interesting over time), it's still very premature. more>>

Commercial Linux Transforming the Community? Or Do They Need a Wakeup Call?

Last week, I had the privilege of addressing the North Texas Linux Users Group. Ralph Green asked me to present information on my upcoming book called "Linux System Administration" by O'Reilly. I only had the digital images of the cover and gallies, since the book actually goes to press in early March. So, I showed my digital images. more>>

Recent GNOME panel apps

The basic set of GNOME panel apps ranges from the practical, such as clocks and system monitors, to the mildly amusing, but apparently too traditional to dispense with, such as Fish. However, in the last few years, an increasing number of GNOME applications are being designed to fit into the panel. Since many of these recent apps are interesting but too minor to rate a full-length review, here's a roundup of some that have caught my attention. Although all of them are in early release, each hints at new functionality and levels of customization that might soon be available on the desktop. more>>

Configuring OpenOffice.org Writer

Like other OpenOffice.org applications, Writer has dozens of options available from Tools > Options > OpenOffice.org Writer. These options allow you to adjust both the general settings of Writer and specific options for different kinds of formatting. Many are ideal for desktop publishing, and a similar set of options is available for web documents under Tools > Options > OpenOffice.org Writer/Web. more>>

Is there a secret story behind the Novell/Microsoft deal?

Was the Novell/Microsoft deal a worthwhile well-meaning effort between renegade open-source geeks at Microsoft and geeks at Novell that got derailed by salespeople and management, after which it was turned into a nightmare deal with the devil? I raise this question because I know someone with ties to people at both Microsoft and Novell. He has a credible story to tell about what really happened, and how much it differs from what we now know about the Novell/Microsoft deal. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get him to write up the history - yet. While I continue to pester him, here's the short version, third hand. more>>

Save the BBC from Windows DRM! - Update

The BBC has a long and glorious past as a technological innovator. Throughout the history of broadcasting, it has often been the first to develop and promote new technologies. Sadly, it seems now to be teetering on the brink of making technical choices that will not only damage its own reputation as a world-class institution, but which will also have serious knock-on consequences for free software. more>>

Building an Relationship Economy

Is there something new that open source development methods and values can bring to the economy? How about something old?

I think the answer may come from the developing world, where pre-industrial methods and values persist and offer some helpful models and lessons for a networked world that's less post-industrial than industrial in a new and less impersonal way.

This began to become apparent to me a few years ago I had a Socratic exchange with a Nigerian pastor named Sayo, whom I was lucky to find sitting next to me on a long airplane trip. more>>

Mix Libre

It's a mixed bag this week from Studio Dave. I'll skip the preliminaries and just invite you to dive in and check out some of the latest news from the ever-expanding world of Linux sound and music software. There's far more going on than I can possibly cover in my allotted space, but here's a quick survey of some recent remarkable activity.

more>>

Putting the Wholes Together

If incoming mail contains the word "identity" it goes to a mailbox I started in late 2004. It has over 7000 emails in it now. The majority of those are from the Identity Gang list.

The Identity Gang got its name when it first met informally on the December 31, 2004 edition of Gillmor Gang. I've lost track of how many workshops and meetings and other exercizes in convergence we've had, but the progress continues to be amazing.

I just looked at what Eric Norlin of IDG wrote here, then at what Scott Kveton of JanRain wrote here then at what Kim Cameron of Microsoft wrote here — to pick just three out of countless posts, all connected somehow. You can see the progress in just one month.

This observation comes in the midst of thinking about a form of Vendor Relationship Management that has the same initials as CRM, but a different meaning: Creator Relationship Management.

I would like to relate to creators in a better, less intermediated way. more>>

Let There Be Light: Promoting OpenOffice.org with Sun

The OpenDocument Format (ODF) just keeps on getting stronger. It is now an official ISO standard; there are numerous applications that support it, with varying degrees of fidelity, including Google's online word processor and spreadsheet; there's an official Microsoft-funded plug-in for Microsoft Office that allows it to open and save ODF files, and a program that converts between ODF and the Chinese UOF XML office format; and the ODF community has largely sorted out issues of accessibility that threatened to de-rail its adoption by Massachusetts. more>>

Now revealed! Secrets of line spacing in OpenOffice.org Writer

The fact that OpenOffice.org Writer is more than a word processor is an open secret. Designed to write long documents, Writer is in many ways a document processor comparable to FrameMaker, suitable for designing books and dissertations while falling short of a complete desktop publishing solution. For this reason, it includes a number of tools for tweaking lines of text, including Tools > Language > Hyphenation and the tools for adjusting character width and letter space for individual characters. However, by far the least understood of these high-end tools is Writer's ability to adjust line-spacing. more>>

LDAP: Attributes and Keeping Them Simple

A consensus exists among many writers about jargon. Throw a bunch of undefined words at a reader and he or she will soon fall asleep. In fact, put one term in a paragraph that the reader doesn't understand and a page or two later sleep will start to creep and the reader will lose interest. more>>

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