Sun, 11/01/2015 - 18:21

Awoke after a restless night with an aching back. Lay in bed from two in the morning. My mind tangentially racing around pointless circuits. Exasperated I made the decision to get up at dawn and run to Villeville and back. As the sun rose I fell asleep. At eight Suzy came in and woke Agrippa and I up with news of Pyrrho’s new Harley Davidson and that the oven was full of breakfast scones. I got up feeling tired from all the lost sleep and undecided about going for the run I’d decided upon. Decision and indecision folding in my insomnolent mind. Decisions made for me I get up and eat scones. Did I want to play Risk the board game with Agrippa? No, I want to write this. Headphones on to blank out further requests, allow me to make my own decisions.

Tue, 23/12/2014 - 19:55

I thought recently of a quote from a Sopranos' Season 1 episode, A Hit is a Hit, wherein Tony Soprano's neighbor proclaims for laughs at a party, Sometimes I think the only thing separating American business from the Mob is [EXPLETIVE] whacking somebody.

The line stuck with me in the decade and a half since I heard it. When I saw the episode in 1999, my career was basically just beginning, as I was just finishing graduate school and had just begun working for the FSF. I've often wondered over these years how close that quote — offered glibly to explore a complex literary theme — matches reality.

Wed, 03/12/2014 - 21:32

Recently, I was forwarded an email from an executive at a 501(c)(6) trade association. In answering a question about accepting small donations for an “Open Source” project through their organization, the Trade Association Executive responded Accepting [small] donations [from individuals] is possible, but [is] generally not a sustainable way to raise funds for a project based on our experience. It's extremely difficult … to raise any meaningful or reliable amounts.

I was aghast, but not surprised. The current Zeitgeist of the broader Open Source and Free Software community incubated his disturbing mindset. Our community suffers now from regular and active cooption by for-profit interests. The Trade Association Executive's fundraising claim — which probably even bears true in their subset of the community — shows the primary mechanism of cooption: encourage funding only from a few, big sources so they can slowly but surely dictate project policy.

Tue, 11/11/2014 - 20:10

[ I'm writing this last update to this post, which I posted at 15:55 US/Eastern on 2014-11-11, above the original post (and its other update), since the first text below is the most important message about this siutation. (Please note that I am merely a mundane GF member, and I don't speak for GF in any way.) ]

There is a lesson learned here, now that Groupon has (only after public admonishing from GNOME Foundation) decided to do what GNOME Foundation asked them for from the start. Specifically, I'd like to point out how it's all too common for for-profit companies to treat non-profit charities quite badly, even when the non-profit charity is involved in an endeavor that the for-profit company nominally “supports”.

Sat, 08/11/2014 - 23:10

As always, when something takes me a while to figure out, I try to post the generally useful technical information on my blog. For the new site, I've been trying to get all the pages branded properly with the header/footer. This was straightforward for ikiwiki (which hosts the main site), but I spent an hour searching around this morning for how to brand the GNU Mailman instance on

Ultimately, here's what I had to do to get everything branded, and I'm still not completely sure I found every spot. It seems that if someone wanted to make a useful patch to GNU Mailman, you could offer up a change that unifies the HTML templating and branding. In the meantime, at least for GNU Mailman 2.1.15 as found in Debian 7 (wheezy), here's what you have to do:

Fri, 26/09/2014 - 20:55

Historically, I used to write a blog post for each episode of the audcast, Free as in Freedom that Karen Sandler and I released. However, since I currently do my work on FaiF exclusively as a volunteer, I often found it difficult to budget time for a blog post about each show.

However, enough happened in between when Karen and I recorded FaiF 0x4E and when it was released earlier this week that I thought I'd comment on those events.

First, with regard to the direct content of the show, I've added some detail in the 0x4E show notes about additional research I did about various other non-software-related non-profit organizations that I mention in the show.

Tue, 23/09/2014 - 04:20

Years ago, I wrote a blog post about how I don't use Google Plus, Google Hangouts, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, LinkedIn or other proprietary network services. I talked in that post about how I'm under constant and immense social pressure to use these services. (It's often worse than the peer pressure one experiences as a teenager.)

I discovered a few months ago, however, that one form of this peer pressure was actually a product of nefarious practices by one of the vendors — namely Linked In. Today, I learned a lawsuit is now proceeding against Linked In on behalf of the users whose contacts were spammed repeatedly by Linked In's clandestine use of people's address books.

Fri, 12/09/2014 - 04:20

[ A version of this post originally appeared on the Google Open Source Blog, and was cross-posted on Conservancy's blog. ]

Software Freedom Conservancy, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity that serves as a home to Open Source and Free Software projects. Such is easily said, but in this post I'd like to discuss what that means in practice for an Open Source and Free Software project and why such projects need a non-profit home. In short, a non-profit home makes the lives of Free Software developers easier, because they have less work to do outside of their area of focus (i.e., software development and documentation).

Tue, 15/07/2014 - 22:45

[ This is a version of an essay that I originally published on Conservancy's blog ].

Eleven days ago, Conservancy announced Kallithea. Kallithea is a GPLv3'd system for hosting and managing Mercurial and Git repositories on one's own servers. As Conservancy mentioned in its announcement, Kallithea is indeed based on code released under GPLv3 by RhodeCode GmbH. Below, I describe why I was willing to participate in helping Conservancy become a non-profit home to an obvious fork (as this is the first time Conservancy ever welcomed a fork as a member project).

Thu, 12/06/2014 - 02:15

I've had my disagreements with Joyent's management of the Node.js project. In fact, I am generally auto-skeptical of any Open Source and/or Free Software project run by a for-profit company. However, I also like to give credit where credit is due.

Specifically, I'd like to congratulate Joyent for making the right decision today to remove one of the major barriers to entry for contribution to the Node.js project: its CLA. In an announcement today (see section labeled “Easier Contribution”, Joyent announced Joyent no longer requires contributors to sign the CLA and will (so it seems) accept contributions simply licensed under the MIT-permissive license. In short, Node.js is, as of today, an inbound=outbound project.

Tue, 10/06/2014 - 01:30

[ This is a version of an essay that I originally published on Conservancy's blog ].

For nearly a decade, a battle has raged between two distinct camps regarding something called Contributor Licensing Agreements (CLAs). I've previously written a long treatise on the issue. This article below is a summary on the basics of why CLA's aren't necessary.