It’s all lies!

Free Software, Jonathan 4 Comments »

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Working for Microsoft

No no no!!! It’s all lies. Well, not really lies, just a misunderstanding. It’s another Jonathan Carter that has gone to work for Microsoft, not me. I’ve received two phone calls today and one email asking me about it. The other Jonathan’s about page says “I am currently acting as the technical evangelist for the .NET framework and Visual Studio at Microsoft” – that makes it quite obvious that it’s not me.

Moving to Jo’burg

I’ve been spending a lot of time in Jo’burg the last 2-3 months. Lots of people have told me things like “I hear you’ve moved here permanently now” or “I hear you’re moving to Jo’burg next year?”. I don’t know where you’re hearing this, but it’s not true. I might spend more or less a week or so there every month next year, but that’s about it, there are no plans to move to Jo’burg, and it’s extremely unlikely that there ever will be.

Hope that clears everything up :)

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Ubuntu Certified!

Free Software 11 Comments »

Tonight I got some post from my old place (which mostly contained some old bank statements), but inbetween, there was a really cool surprise, my Ubuntu Certified Professional certificate and card!


Ubuntu Certification

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Shutdown Day – Can you?

Project Mayhem 2 Comments »

Tomorrow is “Shut down day”, a day where you are encouraged to shut down your computer for one day.

When I initially heard about Shutdown day, I said I could do it, but I can’t. I just have too much stuff that I’d like like to do this weekend, and besides, the weather isn’t looking to good either:

Cape Town weather

Will you be able to shut down tomorrow? I think I’ll make up for it the next weekend by switching off the entire weekend. I’ll even switch off the TV and cellphone to make up for missing it tomorrow :)

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First week at Impi

Free Software 2 Comments »

I spent the last week in Johannesburg, at the Impi Linux offices, where I’ve been freshly employed. It’s quite exciting, our local government is making a strong move to open source and free software, and Impi Linux is already signed up to do big parts of the migration, and it seems that more and more government departments are switching fast in what seems to be a domino effect. What’s also interesting is to see how government is turning away from vendors who have dodgy policies on patents, although we have good local people to thank for increasing awareness on the patent issues.

Impi Linux have recently been working hard on recruiting good technical staff, and I’m glad to be in a team where I can learn from so much. They also have Thomas Black on board, who initiated the Open Source team at the Shuttleworth Foundation way before Ubuntu even existed, out of which tuXlabs, Freedom Toasters, the Go-Open Source campaign and other interesting projects emerged from. I enjoyed working with Thomas in the past, and I’m looking forward to working with him in the newly formed Cape Town office. They’re also hiring some cool people from all over to work on the new government implementations. If you’re good at what you do, and you want a decent free software job that pays good, consider sending your C.V. to my new boss.

Working with free software in your day job is challenging and rewarding, remember to tell your friends to learn and use GNU/Linux!

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New company & new blog

Free Software 6 Comments »

New Job

What an interesting month this has been! A few weeks ago, I got leads for some very good commercial opportunities, but the other decision makers at my company decided that we should not pursue it, and stick to the educational and development sectors instead. I really wanted to chase those deals, so I sent in a proposal where I start a new company, where I’ll be doing my current job as a service to the company, and I’ll be able to take on the new, lucrative commercial work. I was real excited about starting the new company, I planned to do some groundbreaking Linux work here in South Africa…

But all of that changed just 6 days before I planned to get the new company off the ground. Word got out that I’m leaving, I even got job offers from Google and IBM, which quite surprised me, I declined and decided to go ahead with the company. I also felt that I wasn’t quite the right person for the positions they offered. I then got a real interesting offer from a local Linux company. They will allow me to bring in my customers to their company, and I will give technical guidance to their development team, and gain access to their resources for the projects I’ve planned to work on. It also means I have short-term security in terms of a steady job, and I can continue working on the tuXlab distro and some other interesting things. I’ll only be able to give more information next week, so sorry for being a little secretive here! One of the coolest things about the new job is, that we’ll play a big part in the government’s conversion to ‘FLOSS’. Exciting times!

New Blog

I also started an Afrikaans blog. I decided to make it a separate blog to avoid confusion for people who are subscribed to by blog, but who does not understand Afrikaans :)

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New Laptop and Granny’s Camera

Free Software 10 Comments »

The plan was to get a new ultra-compact IBM X60 (the non-tablet version). I figured it would be nice to have an ultra compact laptop that has long battery life, so that I can comfortably work on long flights or at conferences where plugs are always a problem. Unfortunately there were no local stock of X60’s.

But then I found something interesting, the Sahara CJ55. It’s the same size, and specification as a X60, but exactly half the price. The only thing that I don’t like about it is the keyboard. It’s decent quality, but they’ve made the shift keys smaller to make space for the Windows keys (yuck), and it’s a UK layout keyboard, which would normally confuse me, but I just mapped it out to a US keyboard style. Perhaps now is a good time to (finally) switch to Dvorak.

The build quality is good though, and it has a very “Apple-like” feel to it.

The new one is the one to the left. It has a 12″ display, while the MSI S262 has a 14.1″ WXGA display. The Sahara battery lasts 3 hours and 50 minutes, while the MSI’s battery only lasts 1 hour and 20 minutes. The Sahara came with Windows XP Media Center edition. I didn’t delete it yet, I’ve been having trouble getting my video camera working properly in Ubuntu. I was glad to see Mark Shuttleworth’s post on hardware compatibility, part of a series of posts about challenges that need to be overcame to win the hearts of the desktop user. BTW, according to the frequency of those posts, post #1 should be there tomorrow. I’ve been wondering what his #1 will be. In my humble opinion, I think games is a strong #1. I know many, many high school kids who would instantly ditch Windows if their games worked properly on a GNU/Linux system. I’m sure that Windows won’t last long on my new laptop either. I’ve been enjoying being completely Microsoft-free for the last 4-5 years, and with the efforts of the free software community, that silly old legacy system will be trashed again soon.

BTW- as soon as I can find a X60, and have some money, I’m getting one of those too, they are seriously cool.

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Buh-bye 2006!

Education, Free Software, Jonathan 3 Comments »

Tomorrow is the last day of 2006. Wow, it’s been a wild ride, and the beginning of the year feels like a lifetime ago. It started out well, the project that I’m most involved with, tuXlab, reached a big milestone with the installation of the 200th lab. Since then, many replications has happened in South Africa. I don’t have an exact number, but I estimate there’s close to 300 schools in the country that currently follow the tuXlab model. The first 200 was set up with funding from the Shuttleworth Foundation, while the rest has been set up by other funders and projects, such as the Gift of the Givers Foundation,, Ubuntu Education Fund, Engen, Ikamva Youth, and others. The first 200 labs was also set up by volunteers, and support and maintenance have been funded by the Shuttleworth Foundation.

Another exciting turn for tuXlabs, is that it was installed into two prisons (blog entry) as well. The prison tuXlabs have been used for adult education, and providing OpenICDL courses. Lab administrators in the prisons also wrote and passed LPI exams. The prisons project has been an amazing success, we have proved to the Department of Correctional Services that GNU/Linux works, and that it’s maintainable and affordable. Don’t be surprised to see a large number of lab roll-outs in our prisons next year :-)

In March, I also went to the most amazing concert I’ve ever been to, and saw Metallica, Collective Soul, the Rasmus, Simple Plan and a whole bunch of other bands we never see here in South Africa live. The great local guys were also there, such as Fokofpolisiekar and Seether (even though they’re not quite local anymore these days). I hope we have something like that here soon again.

Within the Foundation, our team was reaching all the targets set out two years before that, and with some of the changes in focus within the Foundation, some of us felt that the new projects wouldn’t specifically interest us. Not because they’re not good projects, but because we specifically wanted to continue working with the projects that we have put so much energy into already. We put together a proposal and business plan, and presented it to the Shuttleworth Foundation Trustees. They were happy with our ideas, and were happy to fund us to start a new organisation. This happened in June, and our first month was chaotic. Previously, we lived in the comfort of the Foundation and all the internal services that was running there. Outside, a lot of our old processes didn’t work, and we had to quickly re-work them. We also had to find new systems for our financial stuff, and quickly slam together a management system that worked. By August, things were already coming together nicely, and I’ll go as far to say that the last month or so, we’ve become a well oiled machine. Besides the prisons project, we’ve got a good amount of government work as well. What stands out most is the Digital Doorway project, for which we implemented the software solution (custom tuXlab system) and we’ll also be implementing the next 50 stations and upgrading the existing 25 from HP441 based Mandrake 9.2 systems to Ubuntu multiseat tuXlab machines.

This year, I also had the privilege to get to know a very large part of the Ubuntu community, which include many amazing (I’m so overusing that word, but it can’t be helped) individuals and have learned a lot from them. I also became a member of the Edubuntu Council, where we vote in new Ubuntu members that have made significant contributions toward Ubuntu. I also attended the Ubuntu Developers Summit in Paris, it was at a complicated time that I left for Paris, but it was also uplifting to see how such a large amount of people could work together so incredibly well. I took a lot with me from that summit, and applied much of it to the tuXlab Ubuntu derivative, which we’ve released to tuXlab schools earlier this month. A public version will also be available next month, also in various flavors. That has also been a huge milestone for me, and our new company. We’ve attracted some attention from huge multinational companies. Oh, and you can also expect to see local laptops (very popular brand) soon that will be available with Ubuntu (and no Windows)- I am also very excited about that… although I should really keep new news for my hello 2007 post ;)
We also did Software Freedom Day again this year. We did it in one of the most poorest areas of Cape Town, where I also learned a lot from. Locally free software has had quite a good year besides that too. Our local LUG, CLUG, had a fundraiser to raise money for our LUG to attend one of the big, very commercialised computer fairs (Futurex). It was one of the two Linux/Free Software stands there, and the stand generated huge interest from many people, although many people just couldn’t understand how software can be ‘free’. A local Python users group has also been founded, and the first meeting was very well attended. I hope that the group continues to do more fun stuff into 2007.

The biggest free software news in 2006 was of course that Sun GPL is being released under a GNU GPL license, which is definitely good news for many users and vendors of free software. The other big news is the Novell/Microsoft deal. Some view it as the best thing that has every happened, while some view it with lots of sceptacism. I have a theory that, no matter what happens in the free software world, that it will ultimately benefit free software. So far I haven’t seen proof to the contrary of that. The Free Software Foundation has also been busy, releasing Gnewsense, an Ubuntu derivative free of proprietary code, and also running an end of year fundraiser, that has already passed its half-way mark. The GNU GPL version 3 is also being reworked, and it’s been a big source of controversy in 2006. FSF has also launched a campaign against Windows Vista, and bought a game and released it under a free license (see comments).

Coming back to my personal life, I’ve made some tough decisions the last month. Two years ago my father and I moved into the same house, and we decided to go everything 50/50. I had some strong moral objections to some of the things he’s been doing lately, and decided to move out. It’s had some strange effects on me. Since moving out, and adding some more space between myself and both my parents, my anger levels have come down drastically. I also discovered that anger has been a big part of what drives me, and when my anger went away, it’s like I didn’t have any energy anymore. I think Yoda is so right about anger in so many ways. In only the last few days, I’ve found new, positive energies that gives me just as much energy. Just in time for 2007 :)

I’m quite excited for 2007, I have so much ideas and plans for it, and the future. I’ll blog about those just after the new year. In the meantime, I wish everyone who manages to read this far a happy new year, may 2007 treat you well and wishing you good health and happiness. Buh-bye, 2006!

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