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Making Peace (and/or products) with Marketing

There are a range of ways that marketing can relate to engineering. At one end are companies where engineering is the core competency and marketing "leadership" is an absurdity. At the other end are companies where marketing tells engineers what to do.

The most extreme example of the former comes from fiction. It's the nameless fictional company that employs the cartoon character Dilbert. In three daily Dilbert strips starting July 27, the character Alice -- a competent, under-appreciated and violence-prone engineer -- relates to marketing people by banging their heads on furniture. In one strip she tells a prospective employee, "I'm going to bonk your head on the table. If it sounds empty, you'll work in marketing."

The most extreme example of the latter comes from reality, and stars in "The Phone Companies Still Don't Get it", by Mark Gimein, in the July 31, 2006 issue of BusinessWeek. more>>

Google: the Godfather of Open Source?

It's well known that Google runs its vast array of servers using a custom version of GNU/Linux. But this is only one aspect of its support for free software. Others include its Summer of Code, now well established as an incubator of both coding talent and projects, and more recently its open source code repository, which offers a useful alternative to Sourceforge.net. Similarly, in porting Picasa to GNU/Linux, Google has made contributions to Wine, while open source projects in Sri Lanka have been the beneficiaries of more direct help, to the tune of $25,000. more>>

Confessions From Studio Dave

The Hard Parts

I hate hardware. Sometimes I hate Linux too, but more often I just hate the hardware. Boxes, wires, connectors, keyboards, mice, the works. Some days I just want all of it to disappear. more>>

AM2 and MythTV war stories, a continuing saga

Warning to Linux users who want to upgrade to socket AM2 motherboards: You will almost definitely run into problems with Linux. I have an ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard. I upgraded the BIOS to the latest version, and that broke IO-APIC on all versions of the Linux kernel I've tried, including 2.6.17.7. I couldn't boot Linux without the "noapic" boot parameter. I solved this problem by restoring an older BIOS, and I lost a fancy NVidia acceleration feature in the process. That's no big deal for me because the feature primarily benefits Windows games and I don't play Windows games often enough to care. more>>

A Five Minute Guide to Opposing DRM

I've been covering the Free Software Foundation's Defective By Design campaign against Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies since its planning stages. Starting from scratch, in less than three months, the campaign has grown to 7000 members. This number is impressive, especially since the campaign introduces a degree of activism previously unknown in the free and open source software communities. What strikes me, though, is that, for all the loathing of DRM, how rarely the reasons for opposing it are spelled out. In some cases, the reason may be that people consider them too obvious to be worth mentioning, but, too often when I've probed, people haven't even heard of the possible objections. These objections begin with the fact that the case for DRM has yet to be made, and continues with arguments about consumer rights, privacy, competitiveness, and industry standards. more>>

Novell made the right decision even if for the wrong reasons

Novell has decided not to use proprietary Linux modules such as the NVidia accelerated driver. My first reaction was that Novell was being needlessly idiotic. Then I read this article on OSWeekly.com, by Matt Hartley. It calls out the leading Linux distributions for failing to band together to pressure hardware vendors to pre-install Linux. I've been saying basically the same thing for the past few years, so I heartily agree with this article. It was then that it occurred to me that Novell may have made the right decision, even if for the wrong reason. more>>

RubyConf*MI, OSCON, and "Ruby for Rails"

Coming off of a big week at OSCon it's time to announce RubyConf*MI, the first regional Ruby conference. It's being held in Grand Rapids Michigan on Aug 26th. It looks like a good conference, David Black will be speaking (the word is he'll be presenting a day of training through Ruby Power and Light ahead of the conference as well). I'm going to be speaking there too, along with several local Ruby hackers. You can see the speaker list or register for the conference at their website. more>>

Linux needs to disappear

Okay, I confess that I chose this headline to draw you into this blog entry. A more accurate headline would be "Operating systems need to disappear". But I don't want my meaning to be misconstrued. The term "operating systems" would have to include proprietary operating systems. If I say "proprietary operating systems need to disappear", I mean they should be wiped off the face of the earth. When I say Linux should disappear, I mean that end users shouldn't need to know it's there. Big difference. Add to that the fact that I would love to see Linux as the operating system for all computing devices, and there's not much left to use as a headline except "Linux needs to disappear".

Be patient, please, because this is about much more than Linux disappearing. It's primarily about Network Computing, with Zimbra as an example of why this is the future. more>>

Does dual licensing threaten free software?

After the dotcom doldrums of the past five years, there is a new wind blowing through the world of commercial software. It's open source, but not as we know it. The first-generation start-ups like LinuxCare, TurboLinux and even Red Hat, were essentially service companies. Today, an increasingly-favored approach is to employ dual licensing to create two revenue streams: one based on providing services for free software and the other through traditional commercial licenses to products that are generally based on the free software version. more>>

System Administration: Another Step toward the BIND - IV

In this session we're going to look at a zone file listed in our named.conf file.

So let's look at pri.example.org. Notice the a CNAME and SPF files. We didn't list those in our file types in part III, but we'll demonstrate what they do in the next session. more>>

System Administration: Another Step toward the BIND - III

Before we take a look at a complete primary zone file, we need to cover background. Consider this background the context where the file itself is content.

Note: None of this may mean much to you until you see the entire text of a zone file. That's OK at this point because when you do see it tomorrow, you can refer back to this information to make sense of it. In the mean time, you may have to humor the editor. more>>

Rumblings From Studio Dave

Audio And 64-bit Linux, Part 1

Sorry for the delay, it's been hectic here.

As I mentioned at the end of my last entry I'm preparing myself for my first excursion into the world of 64-bit Linux. After trading some lessons for a motherboard I started collecting parts for a new desktop machine for the studio. 64-bit considerations were new to me so I asked for help on the Linux Audio Users mail list. Some LAU members run 64-bit systems, and I did indeed get the information I needed. I won't detail the engaging traffic that resulted from that thread, you can read it yourself in the LAU list archives (it's titled AMD64 question). more>>

System Administration: Another Step toward the BIND - II

Yesterday, we looked at a named.conf file for a single domain we called example.org. Rather than send you back to the earlier article, we'll reproduce the file contents below: more>>

System Administration: Another Step toward the BIND

How important are Domain Name Services? Consider this, suppose you want to set up your own web site, you go to a commercial registrar and attempt to acquire a domain name. The purchasing process won't proceed unless you can enter the IP addresses or Internet names of two existing, registered DNS servers for your domain. more>>

Markets without Marketing

Next Tuesday at OSCON in Portland, I'll be giving a 3.5 hour tutorial titled Open Source Clue Training: How to Market to People Who Hate Marketing.

As I prepare for that, I thought I'd share some of the curriculum I've come up with. I'm looking for constructive feedback, suggestions and Stories From the Real World that might be useful to the tutorial. Here we go... more>>

Fair use or lack of fair play?

I have a column (/var/opinion) in an upcoming issue that deals with my struggles to get a MythTV system working. The column ends with a tease about yet another column on Linux standards. I don't want to spoil either, so I'll leave it at that. However, I have another beef about the way my MythTV system is shaping up, or more accurately, falling apart. I suspect the problem is that our fair use rights are being denied and we are deliberately prevented from capturing high quality content. more>>

Interview: JRuby Development Team

Alternative Ruby implementations seem to be on the move throughout the Ruby community. JRuby is the furthest along at this point, so I decided to talk to Charles Nutter and Thomas Enebo, two of the principal programmers on the project. Read on to hear what they have to say about Ruby, JRuby, and the art of re-implementing Ruby. more>>

OpenOffice.org Extensions

OpenOffice.org extensions are a quick way to add functionality. Writable in a variety of languages, including Java, JavaScript, OpenOffice.org Basic, Python, and C++, they allow developers to contribute features without having to master much of OpenOffice.org's notoriously cryptic source code. For users, they provide quick fixes for commonly requested features. more>>

Brazil

Doc Searls wrote a magnificant column for an upcoming issue of LJ. He uses the movie "Matrix" to raise issues similar to the one I'm about to raise. His upcoming column should be considered a must-read for anyone who cares about free software and free speech.

The world depicted in a different movie, "Brazil", is similar to that of Matrix in that it is governed by controlling self-interest. Freedom, as in free speech, is a partial cure for controlling self-interest, which is what makes the concept of free software superior to any other type of software. But there's more to free software than concept. There's implementation. And that's where free software sometimes gets into trouble with self-interest. more>>

Musings From Studio Dave

So now I'm a blogger. Well, this column has been a kind of journal anyway, a chronicle of my life and times in the world of Linux sound and music software, and hopefully it's as enjoyable for you to read as it is for me to write. You can expect little change from the style and content of my previous articles, despite my imminent bloggification, but in accord with the popular definitions of a blog I'll be a little less formal and sometimes a lot more personal. Not that there's much fuel for acrid controversy in the world of Linux sound and music software, but there are issues occasionally and I'd like to speak plainly regarding them. more>>
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