Political Tendencies

Free Software, Jonathan, Politics, Project Mayhem 12 Comments »

The Stereotype

Recently, Jordan Mantha blogged about being excited about Palin joining McCain’s campaign. Some of the comments were quite harsh, some even suggesting that it’s wrong to support the Republicans, being a free software developer and affiated with the Ubuntu project. I will admit that I was quite surprised to see his support for the McCain myself- from the vast majority of posts I’ve seen on Planet Ubuntu, Planet Debian and Planet Gnome so far, most free software supporters seem to support Obama and the Democratic party. Being a supporter of free software (or Ubuntu) shouldn’t imply what kind of political tendencies you have. Statistics might show that most free software supporters might choose something, that doesn’t mean that everyone has to.

The Political Compass

In CLUG, many of the people in our IRC channel participated in the Political Compass test. It asks you a series of questions and then gives you co-ordinates on where you stand politically. Michael Gorven put together a Python script that takes the results from Spinach (our channel bot) and plots it on a graph using Gnuplot:

In the graph above, it’s clear that everyone in our LUG that participated landed in the Libertarian quadrants, and not a single person in the Authoritarian quadrants. Most people are in the Left-wing Libertarian quadrant, with quite a few in the Right-wing Libertarian quadrant. In this case, the graph supports the stereotype that free software supporters may be more inclined to be left-wing libertarians. There are other things that this graph doesn’t bring into account though. Everyone in our IRC channel are also South Africans. Could that perhaps have an effect on our choices and tendencies? We also discuss *everything* on our IRC channel, and we mostly read each other’s blogs. Could it also be that we shape each other’s political views, if only we sway it by the tiniest bit on a continuous basis?

I think it’s natural of humans to make assumptions about other people and the world around them. I think it’s wrong of people to take offence when these assumptions and generalisations do not fit into their little view of the world. While we’re not all unique little snowflakes, we are all different, and tolerance and acceptance goes a long, long way.

See also:

Other Cluggers who have blogged on the political compass:

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Becta advises against Windows Vista in Britain schools

Education, Free Software 3 Comments »

Becta (the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency), which governs technology use in schools, has advised schools not to upgrade to Windows Vista or Microsoft Office 2007. The reasons for this suggestion revolves around new licensing restrictions and higher costs, as well as compatibility issues in Microsoft’s new products. Furthermore, they also advise schools to investigate Linux-based products and OpenOffice.org.

Personally, I find it strange that Microsoft is continuing to alienate the people that should matter to them most- their customers. Every few weeks, it seems that there is an entire new industry that is angry and frustrated with Microsoft. Even Bill Gates seems embarrassed about Windows Vista. I truly feel sorry for him (empathetically), he spent such a large amount of energy and passion building up Microsoft, and then his underlings make such a mess of it. I guess that’s the price you have to pay for being greedy.

I personally believe that Free Software is the only logical choice for mass-deployment in education environments, and also that pretty much everyone is going about it the wrong way currently, but that’s another post…

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Python Magazine

Free Software 2 Comments »

I just subscribed to Python magazine, who have just released their first issue. The first issue is available at no cost, and future issues will be available at different costs depending on how you’d like to read it.

I wasn’t sure whether it’s the right thing to do to buy a Python magazine, considering that there are so much good free material out there, but the quality of the first issue seems very good, and if it will improve my skills, then I think it’s certainly worth while.

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Russian Schools Switch to Linux and new Edubuntu wallpaper

Education, Free Software 6 Comments »

Found some real good news via Slashdot this morning, Russia will have a locally built Linux distribution, called “Russian OS”, installed in every school in the country by 2009. It doesn’t seem that they’ve chosen on which distribution this will be based on, but I hope it will be Ubuntu. I’d actually be happy with Debian too (as a second prize), but with Ubuntu they get a great system and can get commercial support from Canonical. This is really good news for the open source world. Hopefully we will see more announcements of this kind in the future.


Ooh, and another interesting find in the RSS reader is from Groklaw. Jill Carpenter, who does the artwork for Groklaw, has created a wallpaper for Edubuntu that will be the default wallpaper in Edubuntu 7.10! Way to go Jill!

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75% of my Filesystem represents… PACMAN!

Free Software, Games 4 Comments »


And that reminds me… some people requested that I upload the slides of the GNOME CLUG talk I presented a few weeks ago. Get them here.

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Free ATI Drivers

Free Software 11 Comments »

I’m quite surprised at the lack of blog posts there have been about the news that ATI will be working with the Open Source community to develop 100% free 2D and 3D drivers for the Radeon chipsets. This is real big news, considering that, if you ask most Linux enthusiasts what the biggest problems in GNU/Linux distributions are, it normally comes down to the few extra proprietary software that people have to install, which are usually Java, Flash, drivers and binary firmware blobs.

Intel has been providing specifications to the community for some time now. Now that ATI (now part of AMD) will be doing the same, it will hopefully put a good deal of pressure on Nvidia to also provide specifications.

Unfortunately, Ubuntu 7.10 is already in feature freeze, and won’t ship the free ATI drivers. Mark Shuttleworth said in an interview that even though it won’t be available in the initial 7.10 release, it will be installable via ATI’s installer, and the Ubuntu team will provide the new drivers via an update, once packaged and tested.

Since I mentioned Flash earlier, I think it’s worth saying that the GNU Gnash project is moving very fast, and works as a replacement for Macromedia Flash for many users. It will be provided in Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon), due for release next month.

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CTWUG Committee Formed

Free Software 1 Comment »

CTWUG logo small

Yesterday, the Cape Town Wireless Users Group (CT-WUG) met and elected our first committee. I’ve only been on the WUG a few months, users connect to high-sites put up on the hills and high buildings, and the high-sites are connected to each other to form a large user-driven network. Currently we have about 30 members. The WUG is quite useful for our users, since local Internet bandwidth is very expensive.

Many users run services like VoIP, mail and some game servers. I share an Ubuntu mirror that contains dapper, edgy, feisty and gutsy binaries for main, universe, multiverse and restricted. I’m also currently sharing web too via a local-only DSL account, which is useful for some members that don’t have Internet, and planning to add some more things when I have some free time again one day! :)

It was decided yesterday that we’d start with a small committee, I think this was a very good idea. We had a quick vote and the following people have been elected:

  • Grant Delaney (mufasa) – Chairman
  • Henk Burnett (rellik) – Vice Chairman
  • Wynand Karsten (TheFox) – Secretary
  • Herman Mathee (n0s) – Treasurer

The committee is made up of very active and enthusiastic members, Grant (better known as mufasa on the wug) initiated the first link. We’re also going to formalise other parts of the WUG, and start teams for managing certain technical aspects of the WUG. We decided that CTWUG would formally exist as a research platform. Also, thanks to David Savage who chaired the meeting yesterday, he did a great job of keeping the meeting focussed and making sure that everyone understood what we were doing.


I hope to see CTWUG grow quite drastically and cover most of Cape Town in the next year or so. It would also be nice to see CTWUG become a member of WAPA, an interest was expressed yesterday to get CTWUG more recognised by all the various industry and control bodies, such as ICASA, I think we’ll get there.

PS: if you’re on Facebook, and on the WUG, don’t forget to join the CTWUG group.

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