Archive for category interesting articles

Stallman on free vs. open

In a viewpoint piece in this month’s edition of Communications of the ACM, Richard Stallman makes the case that “Open Source misses the point of free software.” (See Why ‘Open Source’ Misses the Point of Free Software.)

Free vs openFree software is software that protects our software freedoms–i.e., the freedom to use, modify, and share our software.  Free software is free as in ‘free speech’ not as in ‘free beer.’ Read the rest of this entry »

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IBM in talks to buy Sun Microsystems

According to a Wall Street Journal Article this morning (March 18th 2009). The International Business Machine (IBM) are in talks to buy Sun. IBM is offering 6.5 billion according to the WSJ for the deal which is one of the largest bids by IBM for a rival. If this goes through this would put IBM in competition with the likes of HP and Cisco in the server markes and Oracle in the database space. IBM is a heavy backer of the Java platform which Sun owns; what does this mean for the other applications in Sun’s cart, including MySQL and OpenOffice applications. In this weak economy its not uncommon to see these consolidations. What impact will this have in the Open source space if two OSS giants become one?

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Microsoft patent suit a threat to Linux??

According to this article on Ars Technica, Microsoft has filed a patent suit against Tom Tom NV, a Dutch company, and its U.S. subsidiary, Tom Tom, Inc:

Microsoft has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against TomTom alleging that the device maker’s products, including some that are Linux-based, infringe on patents related to Microsoft’s FAT32 filesystem. This marks the first time that Microsoft has enforced its FAT patents against the Linux platform, a move that some free software advocates have long feared could be disastrous.

The so called FAT patents have a history.

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Open source government

According to this BBC report Scott McNealy, founder and CEO of Sun Microsystems, has been asked to prepare a paper for the Obama administration on the advantages of using FOSS in the government. According to McNealy, FOSS is the secret to more secure and cost effective government.

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Open source vote counting

Here’s a great project that I just learned about in Wired magazine–an open source vote counting system written in Python and released under a GNU GPL v3 license. The system was used as part of the Humboldt County (CA) Election Transparency Project, where it discovered 197 missing ballots and a bug (i.e., another bug) in CA’s proprietary voting system marketed by Premier (formerly Diebold) Election Systems.

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Open source music

This is great.  Yo Yo Ma is running a contest (deadline New Year’s Eve) in which he invites everyone to collaborate with him on a musical composition.  I first heard about it on All Things Considered.  Ma has recorded a track of Dona Nobis Pacem.  You can download the track, add your own counter melody or variations to it and upload the resulting collaborative composition.  If your entry is selected, you win the opportunity to record one-on-one with Yo Yo Ma.  The top ten entries as judged by the community receive honorable mentions and an autographed copy of Ma’s Songs of Joy and Peace. The contest is hosted on Indabamusic.com, a social networking site for musicians.  Totally cool!  Question:  How are Indaba creations licensed?

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Books are spiritual, but …

Some interesting thoughts from James Gleick How to Publish Without Perishing in today’s New York Times

For some kinds of books, the writing is on the wall. Encyclopedias are finished. All encyclopedias combined, including the redoubtable Britannica, have already been surpassed by the exercise in groupthink known as Wikipedia. Basic dictionaries no longer belong on paper; the greatest, the Oxford English Dictionary, has nimbly remade itself in cyberspace, where it has doubled in size and grown more timely and usable than ever. And those hefty objects called “telephone books”? As antiquated as typewriters. The book has had a long life as the world’s pre-eminent device for the storage and retrieval of knowledge, but that may be ending, where the physical object is concerned.

I entirely agree with this assessment. I would add text books and most scholarly works to Gleick’s list of “device[s] for the storage and retrieval [and transmission] of knowledge”. But… Read the rest of this entry »

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