The Latest

Blocking hardware accessibility through software: a printer's tale

What are you getting when you buy a printer to use under GNU/Linux? The LinuxPrinting.org site can tell you how well a printer will work with free software, but often that's only part of the story. I came face to face with this simple fact when I recently bought a Hewlett-Packard PhotoSmart C3100, a low end inkjet printer that includes scanning and copying features. Besides basic features, like many today, the printer includes features that run without a computer, if only with the specific Windows or OS X software that accompanies it. My experience is one data point for measuring the current state of hardware support for GNU/Linux -- as well as how companies, deliberately or otherwise, are withholding it. more>>

LDAP Series Part II - Netscape Directory Server

Two years ago today, Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik confirmed the purhase of two prized enterprise products from AOL - Netscape Directory Server and Netscape Certificate Management System. He also noted than Red Hat intended to open source the products within 12 months.

Red Hat paid $25 million for the assets. You could say that was pretty good considering that in 1998, AOL paid more than $4 billion for Netscape. Matthew's purchase represented the last divestiture of Netscape's assets by AOL.

If you wander on over to the Fedora Directory Server (FDS) site you can take a look at an enhanced version of the Netscape Directory Server. This isn't your older brother's directory server. Aside from open sourcing the Netscape server, you'll find an abundance of documentation to help you learn and operate a stellar product.

In the case you have little familiarity with FDS, it has features you will not find in other open source LDAP servers. These include: more>>

Multi-master replication Hot-backups and restores Integration utility for Microsoft Active Directory users and groups A graphical management console and web available administration

LDAP Series Part I - "Bulldozer"

I don’t like self-proclaimed prophets. So, you'll rarely see me quoting them. I guess my aversion originates in so many presentations where the next [insert application or company here] “killer

Going live, part 2: Introducing Musix and Studio To Go

In this week's entry we'll look at two more "live" CDs of Linux systems optimized for multimedia creation and performance. I've been having a great time with these systems, and I hope that my mini-profiles inspire you to try them all. They're a great way to introduce someone to Linux, they show off the system optimized for multimedia performance and they provide a wealth of high-quality sound and music software to exploit that system. They all include the standard cornucopia of applications for the mundane tasks, word processing, text editing, graphics, networking, and so on. All that, for the cost of a download and a disc. more>>

A New JRuby Interview and More

Okay, non-interview stuff first. I've recently picked up several 'shortcuts' from O'Reilly and Addison-Weseley. I love this format. For about 10 bucks, you can get a PDF only copy of a 50-100 page "book". The shortcuts (so far at least) have been very focused, which allows them to cover a reasonable topic in sufficient depth without creating a monstrous 600+ page tome. The shortcuts I've looked at so far have been timely, useful, and a great value. October marks the beginning of Apress' push into Ruby and Ruby on Rails. Apress also has Practical OCaml coming out soon to help soothe your inner functional programmer. Now, on to interview news! more>>

The Pet Peevo with TiVo

I'm sorry to see that my blog entry on recent controversies over freedom turned into a thread about TiVo. But since TiVo seems to be such a hot button, I would like to address that issue directly. I made the point in the discussion that TiVo did not license its hardware under the GPL (duh, GPL is a software license, after all), or even a GPL-like license. So all the fuss about what rights you have with respect to TiVo hardware is nonsense. Sure, you have the right to modify the hardware because you bought it. But you will void your warranty, and TiVo is under no obligation to provide you with the schematic, BIOS, or anything else to make it easy to modify the hardware. Having said that, let's cut through all the posturing about what rights we have, and get to the real issue here, which is what motivated TiVo to use a digital signature, and what would motivate people to modify the TiVo software and run the modified version on a TiVo box. more>>

The Great Software Schism

Following Nicholas Petreley's discussion of the GNU GPLv3 debate from one angle, I'd like to look at it from another - that of the cultures of the two groups involved - and what this implies for the future. more>>

A fight against evil or a fight for attention?

Two hot issues are making the rounds. First, Debian and Firefox are having a spat, and the end result may be that Debian will distribute Firefox under a different name. Second, the war betwen Linus Torvalds and other Kernel developers and the Free Software Foundation over GPLv3 is continuing, with Torvalds saying he's fed up with the FSF. Here is my take on both, and related issues. more>>

Website Review: The Family Guide to Digital Freedom

The Family Guide to Digital Freedom is a website and an accompanying book created by Marco Fioretti, a part-time journalist who writes about free and open source software (FOSS). The site is interesting for its attempt to do two things at once: to provide a guide for non-technically inclined computers users to the advantages of open standards and free software, and to critique the FOSS communities. Both goals are overdue for widespread attention, although they sometimes sit uncomfortably beside each other on Fioretti's site. more>>

Arrh. Shiver me links, and haul me URLs.

Okay, totally off-topic, I know. Well, the keyboard is computer-related. But when I came across these links on my site, VarLinux.org, I couldn't resist sharing them. more>>

Microsoft's Masterpiece of FUD

I've been tracking the evolution of Microsoft FUD for nearly 10 years now, and wrote a short history of the subject a few months back.  But even I was impressed when I came across Microsoft's latest effort in this department: it's truly a masterpiece of its kind. more>>

Going Live With Apodio And Dynebolic

I'm trying to discover why three out of three of my selected hard-disk recorders refuse to work on my Debian Etch (Demudi) system. Once again I ask myself the relevant questions: Is it me ? Is my computer trying to tell me something ? Is it something I said ? Whatever the reason(s), my reviews of those three programs must remain in limbo until I figure out what's wrong. The applications are all known to run perfectly well on other machines, so I'm sure there's an external problem. When testing new applications one must be prepared with the newest dependencies. CVS sources are often required. Sometimes one must mutter obscure invocations. Alas, I was not sufficiently prepared. Time for a radical shift. more>>

Removing a major Compiz annoyance

As much as I love the 3D Compiz/Cgwd, there is one thing I can do without: Wobbly menus. When you pull down or pop-up a wobbly menu, hitting the right menu selection is like target practice. It's even worse if you have to drill down to a sub-sub-sub menu selection because each sub-menu wobbles, too. Here's how to turn off this behavior in the most recent installation of Compiz. more>>

Who are the Hacker Bloggers?

If you look at the font of all wisdom - no, I don't mean Wikipedia, but Amazon - you will find stacks of books with titles like The Corporate Blogging Book, Blogging for Business, Blog Marketing and the rest.  Whatever the title, the basic message is the same: if you're in business, you've got to be blogging.  Because if you aren't, you're not "having the conversation" with your customers, which means, in turn, that you're not getting your message out or valuable comments back. more>>

In many ways, an open source project is just like a business. 

Sun, Ruby, and Java: An Interesting Turn of Events

Wow! Sun has hired Charles Nutter and Thomas Enebo to work on JRuby full time. This is a pretty momentus event, and is already sending shockwaves around the Ruby world. more>>

The changing face of charts in OpenOffice.org

The charting component is probably the least satisfactory part of OpenOffice.org. A few minutes with the issue tracker shows that, since OpenOffice.org 2.0 was released, 62 issues have been filed for charting. By contrast, the bibliography component and the formula editor, two other problematic subsystems that are comparable in size, have nine and 27 issues files against them respectively. Work has begun on many of the issues about charts, but complete relief is unlikely to come until the final release of Chart 2, the rewriting of the charting component that is due to be part of the as-yet unscheduled 2.6 version of the office suite. However, those who are impatient to see what changes are coming can get a few ideas from the recent release of Milestone 8, an alpha version of Chart 2 that gives the first glimpse of what improvements to expect, not just in the way of bug fixes, but, more importantly, in interface improvements. more>>

Turning the world I-side out

While huge progress has been made toward "user-centric" identity, I still have problems with "user-centric" anything. The point-of-view is still outside the user. It's still organizational, corporate. If you're "centric" about users, where are you? Right, outside the user. And inside something that's, well, not quite human. Or worse, that's super-human. Not a peer, but a superior.

Think about it: Are you "user-centric"? more>>

VMware Server for Linux for Free

I will turn down free beer software in favor of freedom software when both exist. If you don't know the difference, that's OK. You cannot see the source code for the video drivers from ATI, for example. You can get them for free but they are not freed. The same with Adobe Acrobat Reader and plugins for the Firefox web browser. more>>

A fifteenth chance for GNOME

Okay, I don't really know how many chances I've given GNOME, but I've tried to switch to GNOME as my default desktop many times. I always ended up switching back to KDE (to be fair, I use other window managers, too, such as Fluxbox, which is one of my favorites). Thanks to the rumors that Xgl/Compiz/cgwd worked best on GNOME, I gave GNOME another shot. As it turns out, the rumors are false. These 3D desktop enhancements work fine under KDE. But I've really been enjoying my GNOME experience despite the fact that there are still things about GNOME that I dislike. Granted, I can credit Ubuntu's default settings for GNOME as some reasons why I'm enjoying it more. But it's still a better desktop than I recall from the last time I used it. more>>

HDRs and DAWs For Linux: The New Breed

The hard-disk recorder (HDR) is the central component of the modern digital audio studio. The most basic feature of a high-quality HDR is the capability to record and play multitrack/multichannel digital audio at various sampling rates. However, with the addition of software amenities such as non-linear and non-contiguous editing operations, support for a variety of soundfile formats, and audio digital signal processing via plugins or built-in modules the HDR is no longer simply a more or less sophisticated record/playback device. At this point it has become a digital audio workstation (DAW). more>>

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