Monday, May 22, 2006

And now for a commercial break... Ok then, just give me a break from the misuse of the word commercial. This is something that is starting to piss me off, people, notably proprietary software companies, using the term 'commercial software' to describe proprietary software when making comparisions to Open Source. As if software from companies like IBM, Novell, Redhat and Sun are somehow noncommercial because they're open source. The implication is that Open Source Software is somehow not as good because it's written by amatures and hobbyists. This is completely untrue, to infer that Linux, Apache, MySQL,, Hula or any of the dozens of other commercial Open Source packages are coded by developers who are anything less the professional is insulting to the IT pros across dozens of companies, who work on these packages, and shows a deep lack of understanding of the way Open Source software is developed. The Open Source community is the ultimate meritocracy. Where a proprietary software developer can bury crappy code in a proprietary binary, away from prying eyes, Open Source by it's very nature is open to pier review, those who are able to make valid, high quality, contributions are recognized their participation is encouraged by their piers. Those who commit crap code are easily identified and quickly marginallized, the quality is what matters when everyone can see what you did. Eric Raymond said that "many eyes make all bugs shallow", I'll go him one better and say the very prospect of many eyes keeps developers on their toes and conversely the prospect of no one seeing the code leaves developers the temptation to leave in that ugly little fudge they threw in pre alpha to get it working. This is why it really bugs me when people misuse terms like commercial to infer poor quality or reliability in open source software, it simply isn;t true.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

I have been following the melodrama that is Massachusetts adoption of the Open Document Format for a while now. The latest salvo from Microsoft's proxies reveals their increasing panic. In their latest comedy gold Melanie Wyne of the laughably named Initiative for Software Choice (ISC) states "The RFP reveals that the choice presented by the previous ITD bureaucrats – i.e., ODF-compliant desktops for state agencies are the only viable options for citizens to have access to their data in the future – was purposely exclusionary, being primarily designed to distort the competitive landscape."

"In other words, it had little to do with access to documents, and everything to do with excluding proprietary software providers."

This is utter horse shit. First off ODF is a fully documented open standard which may be freely implemented by anyone who wants to do so, including Microsoft. Indeed one of the first office suites to support the ODF format is Star Office, a proprietary product produced by Sun Microsystems.

Secondly what the hell is wrong with excluding proprietary software, it makes perfect sense that an organization as large as a state goverement would want to use software that they have access to the source for and are free to modify to meet their needs.

Finally it seems that Microsoft's proxies have forgotten the cardinal rule of the business world, the customer is always right. In the case of a state government this means the only people who have a right to tell Massachusetts they're not doing the right thing are the citizens of Massachusetts, not mega corporations or their lobby groups.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

A lot has happened since my last post, first the good stuff I have helped 2 friends convert their laptops to linux. This is always fun, especially when stuff happens that is a total happy surprise, on one of the 2 machine the on board wifi which hadn't worked under Windows since my friend acquired it second hand fired up and started working under Dapper, cool. On the same laptop we got XGL going, this is perhaps the greatest tool I have seen for advocating Linux, people just love stuff that looks cool and Windows doesn't even come close.
Speaking of cool looking stuff I've recently been playing Tremulous, a new fully GPLed 3d multiplayer first person shooter, this game is very cool, dark and dangerous a very cool community is growing up around this great game. This is the type of game that will start bringing casual gamers to Linux. I believe it will be sometime before hardcore gamers can move to Linux full time. I also believe this isn't really a huge problem, most people aren't serious fulltime gamers, they're casual gamers who want to know they will be able to find a few cool games to play. Games like Tremulous are starting to make that happen.
I am beginning to feel the need to push my advocacy to a new level,
so I've been thinking about starting a learn desktop Linux class in my off time, I figure I'd need to acquire about a dozen cheap laptops and find a space I can rent a couple of nights a week I can teach about a dozen students a class maybe 2 nights a week. This would let me share Linux with many new people and give me a chance to stretch my training muscles. If anyone has done anything like this in their community I'd love to hear about your experiences.
Finally I am in the process of looking for a new position, if you're looking for someone with experience supporting Linux, Windows, mobile devices and networks and experience with corporate training please get in touch with me at tjoyce1971 at gmail dot com