Novell invites local users to information session on Microsoft deal

Free Software 2 Comments »

Tonight I received this e-mail. It’s an invitation to a session explaining the Novell-Microsoft deal from Novell’s side. I’m thinking of going, I’ll try to take some pictures or even videos. Either way, I’ll report back on what they say…

-------- Original Message --------
Subject:        FOSS Workshop - 7 December 2006
Date:   Wed, 29 Nov 2006 16:29:45 +0200 (SAST)
From:   Leigh Holt 
Reply-To:       [email protected]
To:   Jonathan Carter 

Dear Jonathan

*FOSS Workshop (7 December 2006)*

The Novell Microsoft deal is causing ructions throughout the OSS
community. Is this going to encourage companies to move to Linux, as
Novell says, or is this a deal with the devil signifying the death of
small OSS companies everywhere? Well, ask Novell yourself.

Peter Hunter, Cape Regional Manager for Novell will deliver a
presentation that will cover the key aspects of the agreement reached
between Novell and Microsoft, as well as why Novell pursued such an
agreement with Microsoft, and the implications of this agreement for
customers and the open source community.

If you have any thoughts you would like to share about the latest move
in the OSS community, please be there and make yourself heard.  We will
also so be presenting our draft declaration for the FOSS Forum and would
appreciate feedback on that also.

Please feel free to share this invitation with anyone you feel would be
interested, but be aware that seating limited, so RSVP soon.

There will be a limited amount of time at the workshop for OSS companies
to present innovative, new product offerings. Should you have an OSS
product offering, please submit a short summary on the product and its
relevance to the OSS sector to [email protected]  and we will
select companies to present their products at the workshop.  If you have
registered yourself for the event, well done!  My apologies if you are
receiving this invitation for a second time.


/08h00-08h30/ - Registration

/08h30/ -          Welcoming address
Viola Manuel, Executive Director, CITI

/09h00/ -          Understanding the Collaboration Agreement between
Novell and Microsoft
Peter Hunter, Cape Regional Manager, Novell

/09h45- 10h15/ - Tea break

/10h15/ -          Company presentations

/11h15/* *-          The FOSS Forum
Viola Manuel, Executive Director, CITI

/11h30-12h00/ - Discussion on ways forward for the FOSS Forum in 2007

*Event Details:*

*Date:* Thursday, 7 December 2006
*Time:* 08h00 - 12h00
*Venue:* 44 Wale Street, Cape Town
*RSVP:* email [email protected] , 021-409-7000 by
no later than Tuesday, 5 December 2006
-------- End of Message --------

In other local news: University IT chief vows to dump Novell

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If you’re close to Stanford University…

Free Software 2 Comments »


Forwarded e-mail:

From: John Sullivan ([email protected])
Subject: Attending nVidia presentation at Stanford tomorrow, November 29th?

We’ve just been notified that there is a presentation being given by a representative of nVidia at Stanford University on Wednesday November 29th, 4:15pm in the computer science building B03. RMS attended a presentation earlier in the year given by an ATI representative, to urge people not to buy ATI until they cooperate with the free software community on free drivers for their cards. We would like to communicate the same message at the “nVidious” presentation. If you are in the area and available during that time, please contact me ASAP at [email protected] so that we can coordinate.

– John Sullivan Program Administrator

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Yes, bring the bling! But please do it properly…

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Inspired by Benjamin “mako” Hill‘s blog entry, “Bring the bling?”, I sent an e-mail to the Ubuntu Community Council noting my objection to the inclusion of non-free code in Ubuntu. I would urge all that believe that Ubuntu should remain (and become more) free to send their suggestions and objections to the council as well.

Below is my e-mail, English is my second language, so apologies for bad grammer and other mistakes…

Hash: SHA1

Dear Ubuntu Community Council

I am sending you this message on my own behalf and out of my own
accord, although I have good reason to believe that many other
community members as well as Canonical employees have similar concerns.

The inclusion of so-called "binary-only" drivers in Ubuntu is hurtful
to Ubuntu and the free software world. It may enable Ubuntu to attract
some additional users in the short-term, but it sets a bad precedent,
sends the wrong message and it restricts my freedom to use and modify
Ubuntu. It also means that when I distribute Ubuntu, I can't tell my
new users that they have just received a completely free system. I
would be compelled to tell them that the parent company felt that they
needed to include proprietary code to make it useful. It also makes my
job more difficult when I have to explain to a teacher why Ubuntu and
GNU/Linux is a different kind of 'free' as when Microsoft gives the
school a free copy of Windows.

There has been various objections to the inclusion of any proprietary
drivers or 'firmware blobs' in Ubuntu by various high profile Ubuntu
members as well as high-profile figures in the open-source community.

I realise and understand that the issue has been discussed at the
recent Ubuntu Developers Summit in Mountain View, California, but
unfortunately due to timezone differences and high work load I was
unable to attend electronically and note my objection.

I will continue to support and use Ubuntu, but I beg of you to
reconsider the inclusion of the proprietary code. I believe that the
Ubuntu project is well resourced and energy would be better spent
working with companies such as Intel (who are already doing great work
on free software drivers) to release  their display cards as
standalone boards, and to motivate Ubuntu partners to install Intel
compatible or other hardware that supports free software drivers.
Alternative projects could also be to lobby users to write their
display chip manufacturer to release specifications for their card,
although this would be a more long term project. These are simple
suggestions and I'm sure there are a 100 better things that can be
done to fix the problem, instead of finding a quick-fix that will
break Ubuntu and its foundation principles.

I hope that you consider my request thoughtfully.

Jonathan Carter
Version: GnuPG v1.4.3 (GNU/Linux)
Comment: Using GnuPG with Mozilla -

Changelog: Changed 'president' to 'precedent' :) 
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OpenSUSE vs Ubuntu

Free Software 6 Comments »

I’ve been pondering whether I should say something about Mark’s reachout to the OpenSUSE community or not, but decided that it couldn’t do much harm to add my 2c.

I think Mark had the best intentions with that mail, I also think it was done in a bit of a rush. I don’t think the problem is much with what he did, but how he did it. I think that reaching out to other projects and building bridges are great, but the tone of the mail was a bit divisive, and dismissive of the OpenSUSE distribution, which is in my opinion a fantastic distribution (even though it’s been a while since I’ve used it). While I agree with Corey’s apology, and Matthew’s backing of it, I don’t feel a specific need from my side to apologise, but I will say that not everyone in the Ubuntu project feels the same way about OpenSUSE like Mark does. In fact, you will find that a large percentage of Ubuntu contributors are good at working in teams, and enjoys collaboration and working together with different projects.

Something good is coming out of this though. There seems to be a ever greater awareness of the proprietary drivers included in Ubuntu, and a greater awareness of Ubuntu’s reliance of proprietary tools such as Launchpad, and new proprietary software coming from Canonical, like the mysterious Landscape. Some are saying that now is a good time to put more pressure on Canonical to release more of their code under a free software license. I doubt they will budge though. I hope that Canonical will learn that “freeware != free software”. Just because Ubuntu is free of charge doesn’t mean that it’s free software.

At least there’s projects like Gnewsense that are working on cleaning up Ubuntu. Hopefully they will release a meta-package at some point that I can just install that will remove all the proprietary software from a standard Ubuntu installation, which I can use on my desktop systems that doesn’t need wi-fi drivers, proprietary display drivers, etc.

Some are suggesting that they’ll switch to Debian Etch. I haven’t used Debian since just before Warty was released, so I’m not sure how it stacks up to Ubuntu, but it certainly seems worth the try.

I think this post started off more diplomatic, and I do admit that I’ve edited it down a bit afterwards. I really feel that Canonical should review their free software policies, or follow the current philosophy and policies more closely. I don’t mean to be mean, I applaud the work and funding that Canonical has put into Ubuntu, but at the same time there’s a growing level of frustration among community members, and it’s early enough to fix this.

These are just my thoughts on this, it’s not authoritative and it’s open to correction.

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Sun Java to be GPL’d

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After years of requests and debates, Sun Microsystems is ready to release Java source code under a Linux-friendly license.

On Monday, it plans to put the code for the programming software under the version 2 of the General Public License (GPLv2), which governs Linux and many other open-source products. The Sun-hosted Web site will provide access to Java Platform Micro Edition (Java ME) software for mobile phones and Java Platform Standard Edition (Java SE) software for desktop applications.


And most of us were only hoping for a CDDL version. I’m very excited to see Java getting GPL’d. It will make my work in our schools much easier, now we can actually distribute Java with our software! :-)

Now that the FSF needs to spend less resources on the Free Java implementation, I hope that they will put more resources into GNU Gnash. If they can complete that, then our tuXlab schools would be independent of proprietary software (excluding the curriculum, of course). I hope we see a supported version of GNU Gnash in Ubuntu some time soon too…

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Gnewsense 1.0 released

Free Software 5 Comments »

As an FSF member, I’m delighted to see Gnewsense 1.0 released. Gnewsense has been previously known as Gnubuntu and Ubuntu-libre, and is an Ubuntu based distribution with all the non-free code removed. This is good news for people like me who believe that a distribution should be released with only free software. I can understand that Ubuntu adds proprietary code to make the life of its users easier, but as someone who works on an Ubuntu derivative, I would like to see my distribution stay pure, and Gnewsense will make that easier. I haven’t figured out how to use the clean kernels from Gnewsense in Ubuntu yet, but I don’t think that it would be too difficult. The only computer I have that really needs anything proprietary is my laptop, where I need some firmware for my ipw3495 wireless card. The rest of them I can quite easily convert to Gnewsense.

While we’re on the subject, I urge anyone who has US$10 a month so spare for Free Software to become an FSF member. You make a contribution of US$10 a month, and the FSF will use that money to sponsor project such as this, GNU Gnash, and more. It’s an ideal way to contribute to free software, especially if you don’t have any coding skills, or if you don’t have any time.

Props to FSF for funding this!

Gnewsense Login Screen

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