Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Novell and "Big Mike"

Bruce follows his letter of protest (now signed by thousands) with an allegory.
"Novell didn't feel bad about breaking their agreement with the volunteers, as long as what they did was only unethical and repugnant, not against the law."
Read it in full here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Novell, Microsoft, Linux, and GPLv3

Bruce Peren's has written an open letter of protest to Novell. It can be read and signed here. Thank's Bruce.

There have been many significant and critical moments within the history of the Free and Open Source Software movements. This is no exception. I don't know what Linus Torvalds and other core Linux kernel hackers are thinking now that Microsoft and Novell have made their announcement. It is well known that Linus has been opposed to GPLv3. However, with this seditious MS/Novell "partnership", one would hope his view has shifted. Given the recent news, the normally apolitical but reasonable Torvalds may see the urgency of this matter and give serious consideration to GPLv3.

Hey, if Han can eventually become rebel alliance hero, anything is possible.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

i am a saint

Thrice have I made the confession.
"There is no system but GNU, and Linux is one of its kernels."
And thanks to vrms, I have confirmation of my holy stature. I am a saint in The Church of Emacs. Let it be known that my ranking is (tied for) second, behind only the mighty St. IGNUcius himself.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Sun Rises


It appears to be official. The net is buzzing. Sun has released Java under the GPL. Thank you Sun. And thank you GNU Classpath and GCJ developers. Your work only helped make this happen. And what a reward! Your cooperative community instantaneously and exponentially grew.

The "classpath exception" appears to make the GPL act more like the LGPL. Nonetheless, the choice of licensing is incredibly good news. The free software community welcomes Java!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I'll believe it when I see it...

...but if this actually happens, it's great news for the free software movement. Sun has been talking of "open source" Java for some time now. However, the actual license of choice will determine the level of credibility Sun earns for Java. Kudos to Sun if they decide on the GPL.

Friday, November 03, 2006


FSF press release here. Homepage here.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Response to Alfred Thompson - Part II

Over at Miguel's blog, some interesting comments are being made that deserve a response. Alfred Thompson has opined in a seemingly reasonable way. He says:
"I think that students need to be taught about choices and options. I think that teaching students about the philosophy behind free software and having them read some of the things RMS says is a great idea. [But,] I think they should also be exposed to the other side as well."
Stating that students should be taught the "other side" of software licensing is like saying "students should be taught censorship as well as free speech". Of course, students should be aware that speech is unjustly censored in this world (obviously not what Alfred is implying when he says "exposed") - just as students should read proprietary EULAs. But to present this fact as a reasonable alternative to free speech would be absurd.

Alfred goes on...
"The other thing I think is important is that tools, especially tools for teaching, should be selected for how well they do the job and not for how well they promote a philosophy."
Again, Alfred sounds very reasonable. But what is implied through such a view? Implied in this view is that the study of technology is simply about the creation of end products, not about the study of the tool itself. Software is not simply a tool "for teaching". It is equally a tool for learning and developing. Of course, there will be students who only tackle technology from Alfred's viewpoint - and that is fine. But it is obvious that the right approach to technological education is to make sure of this - that those who study and develop tools are studying and developing the tools used by society. This is efficient, participatory, and cooperative. Having to tell a bright individual to hack on the GIMP while her classmates all use Photoshop is an obvious sign of societal inefficiency, exclusivity, and competition.

Free software embodies a philosophy that promotes the seeking of knowledge to any conceivable depth. Why an educator wouldn't value such a philosophy is puzzling.