Tue, 17/01/2012 - 20:15

This blog post is mostly just informational about a few oggcast releases and my upcoming talks and conference trips.

Today Karen Sandler and I released Episode 0x20 of the Free as in Freedom oggcast (available in ogg and mp3 formats). We discuss in that oggcast the issue of gender inequality in the software freedom community and in computing generally (which I made reference to in a blog post I wrote about a year ago.

Thu, 24/11/2011 - 23:15

Most folks outside of technology fields and the software freedom movement can't grok why I'm not on Facebook. Facebook's marketing has reached most of the USA's non-technical Internet users. On the upside, Facebook gave the masses access to something akin to blogging. But, as with most technology controlled by for-profit companies, Facebook is proprietary software. Facebook, as a software application, is written in a mix of server-side software that no one besides Facebook employees can study, modify and share. On the client-side, Facebook is an obfuscated, proprietary software Javascript application, which is distributed to the user's browser when they access Thus, in my view, using Facebook is no different than installing a proprietary binary program on my GNU/Linux desktop.

Sun, 13/11/2011 - 21:50

One of my favorite verbal exchanges in an episode of The West Wing occurs in S03E08, The Women of Qumar. In the story, after President Bartlet said at a fundraiser: Everything has risks. Your car can drive into a lake and your seatbelt jams, but no one's saying don't wear your seat belt, someone had a car accident while not wearing a seatbelt and filed a lawsuit naming the President as a defendant. Sam, the Deputy Communications Director, thinks the White House should respond preemptively before the story. Toby, the Communication Director, instead ignores Sam and then has this wonderfully deadpan exchange with the President:

Fri, 11/11/2011 - 20:00

Those of you that follow my blog have probably wondered we're I've been. Quite frankly, there is just so much work going on at Conservancy that I have almost had no time to do anything but Conservancy work, eat and sleep. My output on this blog and on surely shows that.

The one thing that I've kept up with is the oggcast, Free as in Freedom that I co-host with Karen Sandler, and which is produced by Dan Lynch.

Since I last made a blog post here, Karen, Dan and I released four oggcasts. I'll discuss them here in reverse chronological order:

Wed, 28/09/2011 - 18:25

I've not been particularly good at keeping up with this blog here, although I have generally kept up with the oggcast that I co-host with Karen Sandler, Free as in Freedom, which is released every two weeks.

Episode 0x18 was a recording of my OSCON 2011 talk, 12 Years of Compliance: A Historical Perspective, which may be of interest to those who enjoy hearing about stories of GPL enforcement. It's available in ogg and mp3, and the slides are available if you want to follow along while you listen.

Sun, 21/08/2011 - 21:08

I realize nearly ten days after the end of a conference is a bit late to blog about it. However, I needed some time to recover my usual workflow, having attended two conferences almost back-to-back, OSCON 2011 and Desktop Summit. (The strain of the back-to-back conferences, BTW, made it impossible for me to attend Linux Con North America 2011, although I'll be at Linux Con Europe. I hope next year's summer conference schedule is not so tight.)

Thu, 18/08/2011 - 18:49

I was pretty sure there was something wrong with the whole thing in fall of 2009, when they first asked me. A Nokia employee contacted me to ask if I'd be willing to be a director of the Symbian Foundation (or so I thought that's what they were asking — read on). I wrote them a thoughtful response explaining my then-current concerns about Symbian:

  • the poor choice of the Eclipse Public License for the eventual code,
  • the fact that Symbian couldn't be built in any software freedom system environment, and
  • that the Symbian source code that had been released thus far didn't actually run on any existing phones.

Tue, 16/08/2011 - 01:01

Unfortunately, Edward Naughton is at it again, and everyone keeps emailing me about, including Brian Proffitt, who quoted my email response to him this morning in his article.

As I said in my response to Brian, I've written before on this issue and I have nothing much more to add. Naughton has not identified a GPL violation that actually occurred, at least with respect to Google's own distribution of Android, and he has completely ignored my public call for him to make such a formal report to the copyright holders of GPL violations for which he has evidence (if any).

Fri, 05/08/2011 - 15:38

At the 2000 Usenix Technical Conference (which was the primary “generalist” conference for Free Software developers in those days), I met Miguel De Icaza for the third time in my life. In those days, he'd just started Helix Code (anyone else remember what Ximian used to be called?) and was still president of the GNOME Foundation. To give you some context: Bonobo was a centerpiece of new and active GNOME development then.

Out of curiosity and a little excitement about GNOME, I asked Miguel if he could show me how to get the GNOME 1.2 running on my laptop. Miguel agreed to help, quickly taking control of the keyboard and frantically typing and editing my sources.list.

Debian potato was the just-becoming-stable release in those days, and of course, I was still running potato (this was before my experiment with running things from testing began).

Thu, 07/07/2011 - 17:14

Update on 2014-06-10:While this article is about a specific series of attempts to “unify” CLAs and ©AAs into a single set of documents, the issues raised below cover the gamut of problems that are encountered in many CLAs and ©AAs in common use today in FLOSS projects. Even though it appears that both Project Harmony and its reincarnation Next Generation Contributor Agreements have both failed, CLAs and ©AAs are increasing in popularity among FLOSS projects, and developers should begin action to oppose these agreements for their projects.

Tue, 28/06/2011 - 17:59

Famously, the Gilligan's Island theme song, in its first season, left out mentioning the Professor and Mary Ann characters by name, simply including …And the Rest in that lyric where their names later were heard. Mystery Science Theater 3000 even spoofed this issue during screening of This Island Earth, in which the actor Russell Johnson (The Professor) appeared. When Johnson first appears on screen while viewing This Island Earth, MST3K's Mike says over the film: Hey, what's this …And the Rest Crap!?!. Indeed, what's that all about?

Tue, 21/06/2011 - 22:50

In November 2010, after I informed the GNOME Foundation that I'd like to submit some names of potential Executive Director candidates, Germán Póo-Caamaño invited me to serve on the GNOME Foundation's Executive Director Hiring Committee. We agreed that the Committee's work would remain confidential (as any hiring process is wrought with complicated and frank discussions). I usually prefer open processes to confidentiality, but with things like hiring, confidentiality is somewhat of a necessity.

Tue, 31/05/2011 - 13:00

It's been some time since X made me hate computing, but it happened again today (well, yesterday into the early hours of today, actually.

I got the stupid idea to upgrade to squeeze from lenny yesterday. I was at work, but it was actually a holiday in the USA, and I figured it would be a good time to do some sysadmin work instead of my usual work.

I admittedly had some things to fix that were my fault: I had backports and other mess installed, but upon removing, the upgrade itself was more-or-less smooth. I faced only a minor problem with my MD device for /boot not starting properly, but the upgrade warned me that I needed to switch to properly using the UUIDs for my RAID arrays, and once I corrected that, all booted fine, even with GRUB2 on my old hardware.

Thu, 26/05/2011 - 18:15

Brett Smith of the FSF has announced a new tutorial available on the GNU website that gives advice about picking a license for your project.

I'm glad that Brett wrote this tutorial. My typical answer when someone asks me which license to chose is to say: Use AGPLv3-or-later unless you can think of a good reason not to. That's a glib answer that is rarely helpful to questioner. Brett's article is much better and more useful.

Thu, 19/05/2011 - 20:15

I'm grateful to Brian Proffitt for clarifying some of these confusions about Android licensing. In particular, I'm glad I'm not the only one who has cleared up the confusions that Edward J. Naughton keeps spreading regarding the GPL.

I noted that Naughton even commented on Proffitt's article; the comment spreads even more confusion about the GPL. In particular, Naughton claims that most BusyBox GPL violations are on unmodified versions of BusyBox. That's just absolutely false, if for no other reason that a binary is a modified version of the source code in the first place, and nearly all BusyBox GPL violations involve a binary-only version distributed without any source (nor an offer therefor).

Wed, 18/05/2011 - 17:30

I just returned a few days ago to the USA after one week in Germany. I visited Göttingen for my keynote at Samba XP (which I already blogged about). Attending Samba XP was an excellent experience, and I thank SerNet for sponsoring my trip there. Since going full-time at Conservancy last year, I have been trying to visit the conferences of each of Conservancy's member projects. It will probably take me years to do this, but given that Samba is one of Conservancy's charter members, it's good that I have finally visited Samba's annual conference. It was even better that they asked me to give a keynote talk at Samba XP.