The ubiquity of PC hardware has been mirrored in the software market,
where a handful of operating systems are firmly entrenched and new
systems find it difficult to attract interest to themselves. In
today's editorial, Rob Pike of Bell Laboratories gives his reflections
on the state of systems software research, drawing on his own
experiences working on Plan 9 and Inferno.
Eric Ries has spotted an irony in the Slashdot effect: When a site is
Slashdotted, the information on it becomes harder to reach not because
it has become scarce, but because it is being copied to thousands upon
thousands of other machines. Shouldn't this make it easier to get
instead of harder? In today's editorial, Eric suggests a way to turn
the situation around so popular information becomes instantly more
accessible rather than less.
Approximately three microseconds after the world discovered that I had
an email address ending in "@freshmeat.net", it started slamming me
with press releases for new software, hardware, services, Web sites,
etc. Over the past year, I've watched the clue level of many Linux
companies steadily decline, and I'd like to offer some suggestions on
how it could be brought back to a level at which we'd all be willing
to at least start listening again.
This editorial by James Ramsey "attempts to counter Troll Tech's
apparent misconceptions about the QPL/GPL controversy, and attempts to
walk through the GPL to explain why it conflicts with the QPL."
In today's editorial, David Symonds shares his views on what's good
and what's bad about modularity, and suggests that more tools should take advantage of modular techniques.
In today's editorial, Eirik Eng of Trolltech responds to Joseph
Carter's comments on KDE and Debian with a discussion of the original
intent of the QPL, an explanation of how Trolltech views the current
situation, and a preview of the future of the license.
In today's editorial, David Burley of the Marble Horse Free Software
Group offers suggestions for anyone wondering how to get started
helping with Free Software.
John Fremlin writes: "Next week, the French National Assembly will
vote on appending a chapter to the law limiting freedom of
communication. As written, it would unambiguously prohibit hosting of
content of unspecified provenance; that is, sites on which users could
post material would be legally obligated to somehow determine the true
identities and postal addresses of their users. The free software
community is directly affected, as large Open Source projects don't
have the requisite information about their contributors and could not
legally be made available in France. Incidentally, several Open Source
projects are hosted by altern.org (for example, consoletools and all
of my programs), which would have to shut down."
Joseph Carter has spent "countless hours" working on licensing issues
with the KDE team in the hopes of fixing the problems that have kept
KDE out of the Debian distribution. In today's editorial, he gives
his view of the impasse that has been reached and why it's been a loss
for everyone in the community.
In a followup to his Nerdherding editorial, Cal Evans suggests that
when it comes time to find a manager, we never look in the most
It's easy for Free Software users to laugh at the misfortunes of their
Windows-using colleagues as they suffer through the virus du jour, but
if you can set your superiority complex aside for a moment, can you
point to anything in Melissa/ILOVEYOU/etc. that couldn't be
accomplished by a badly-written MUA running on Linux? In today's
editorial, Joe Pranevich urges the programming community to learn from
Outlook's mistakes if they want to continue having the last laugh.
While data locked in a proprietary format may be an inconvenience, it
isn't a dead end for computer users; hackers can always find a way
around software limitations. But what if the limitation is in the
hardware? In today's editorial, Bruce Bell considers a world in which
information is locked inside "trusted client" devices and explains why he thinks the Open Source community should be worried.
Today, we offer an editorial from Bodo Bauer, who writes: "The ethics
of OSS development have been on my mind for a while. I never really
found an answer, and talking to coworkers brought up the fact that
they are having similar issues. That's why I put my thoughts together
in this little essay about OSS developers in today's business world."
James Williams writes: "It seems like no matter where I go, I hear
people talking about piracy and its destructiveness. There seems to
be a general consensus that piracy is harmful to the industry. It's
easy to understand why people share this view, since on the surface,
piracy seems to lead to lost revenues. However, I've looked into the
problem at a deeper level and come to the conclusion that piracy is
actually quite beneficial. How, you ask? Well, keep reading."
From endless semesters of CS classes and/or endless cola-filled
nights, hackers learn all the skills of their trade... or almost all.
Who sat you down and taught you how to navigate an interview to make
sure your next job is right for you? Since the answer is probably "no
one", we're presenting an editorial today from Dennis Faust, who has
spent a lot of time on the company side of the interview desk and
offers his suggestions about what he should have heard coming from
the other side.
Package managers with download capabilities make it easy to download
and install the latest software releases, bugfixes, and security
patches. Could they also make it easy to download and install the
latest exploits without your knowing about it? In today's editorial,
I put that question to representatives of Red Hat and Debian, makers
of the two most widely-used Linux package management systems.
In today's editorial, Bruce Smith takes a "What have you done for me
lately?" look at Open Source development, and shares his concern over the answer he finds.
Last month, Kalin R. Harvey wrote about the i-opener and the lessons
it could teach companies about how they can interact with the Open
Source community to everyone's mutual advantage. He's since discussed
the issues with Netpliance directly, and today tells us how it went.
Hacker culture is filled with the lore and legend of the Pointy-Haired
Boss and the myriad ways management can inhibit or kill a project.
Today, we get a view from the other side as Cal Evans tells us what
it's like to be the administrative part of a hacking team.
Jacob Moorman of the Marble Horse Free Software Group writes: "With
the increase in size of many new and long-term Free Software
development projects, it is important to recognize the crucial value
non-developers may hold in advancing the efforts of these projects."
David Weekly writes:
"A new model is emerging from the Internet. It represents the
culmination of years of incremental evolution in the structure of the
network and the clients that feed upon it. It is based upon the same
principles upon which the Internet was founded. It is this: the client
is the server."
Kalin R. Harvey writes:
"The i-opener from Netpliance has realized a level of brand recognition
that no one could have predicted a month ago. It seems that everyone
has an opinion about the loss-leader hardware produced by the Austin,
Texas start-up, which was subsequently hacked and repurposed by a
bunch of hardware wizards. The rhetoric on the technical discussion
boards has ranged from absolute love to complete hate, nuanced by all
of the shades one would expect to find in a complex relationship.
The way the story has developed raises questions about the future of
Internet appliances, the "customer acquisition at all expenses"
business model, and, more than anything, the complex relationship
between the commercial interests, the Open Source community, and the
great unwashed masses who have never been online."
Peter 'darkewolf' Crystal writes: "The Open Source phenomenon
threatens to overtake us all. IBM is supporting it strongly, Sun is
doing it, and even the bane of existence -- Microsoft -- has an
interest in it. But where does that leave developers and potential
developers that have found themselves called to this clandestine
Today's editorial is brought to us by Doug Loss and Pete St. Onge of
the Simple End User Linux education project. They write: "How to use
Linux in education, specifically in schools: it's a topic that was
hardly thought about even eighteen months ago, but now there are many
people around the world working on that very idea. Let's take a look
at how Linux can currently benefit the educational experience, and
where it needs some work."
Jim Jagielski writes: "It was at the closing plenary of ApacheCon
2000, in Orlando FL, that a long-anticipated release of software was
announced: an alpha release of Apache 2.0. With a few short
keystrokes, the Apache Software Foundation announced to the crowd of
developers at AC2K that Apache 2.0a was available for download."
Ryan Gordon writes: "So, you've found your niche in the open-source world, and now you want to be noticed? You're producing cool, original, k-rad elite apps, and you want to get the recognition you deserve? There can only be one solution: FRESHMEAT."
There are a number of ways in which non-programmers can contribute to
software projects; documentation and testing are among the most
frequently-requested services, but testing that results in useless bug
reports accomplishes nothing but frustrating the programmer. Today,
Simon Tatham shares what it's like to be on the receiving end of bug
reports, and offers suggestions for how you can help resolve problems
as quickly as possible.
Skip Lockwood writes: "Virginia and Maryland are racing to be the
first states in the U.S. to enact a new law governing software and
Internet information transactions. No matter which state wins, local
consumers, businesses, and libraries will lose."
Chang Liu writes: "Most of us would probably agree that any software
package, open-source or not, can gain high quality only after rigorous
testing. One source of the credibility of open-source software is the
fact that it is tested by a large number of knowledgeable testers who
have access to the source code and know what's going on. Yet we
seldom discuss what contributes to good testing practices. Sure,
everybody tests in a different way, just as everybody codes in a
different fashion. But in the end, there are good practices and bad
practices. It benefits the community to spread the word about good
Bud Bruegger writes: "This paper discusses the need for extending the
philosophy of GNU autoconf into the world of package management. Such
an extension could be seen as a 'universal source package' standard
and tools. It was written with the hope of stimulating a discussion
on the feasibility of such an approach."