The Free Geek

Ramblings of a Free Software Geek

The politics of the Free Software Revolution Sun, 11 Jun 2006 16:45:53 +0000

Filed under: Free Software — Bon Goose @ 16:45:53

Prof. Eben Moglen gave an incredible keynote address in the recently concluded Red Hat Summit in Nashville. His talk was all about thwarting the so-called notion that the politics of the Free Software revolution is somehow harmful for business and goes against the business ethics. He said that the Free Software movement is all about restoring the right to tinker and invent … not against any business, but at the same time it was “… in some fundamental sense directed against the interest that Microsoft projects'', though unintentionally. He also said that the whole idea that the politics of Free Software is undesirable was created by people like Microsoft, by spending a large amount of money taken from the users. In his whole speech he talked at length about the American inventive history and correlated past with the present in a great way. He explained how the very freedom to be somebody like Samuel Colt or Andrew Carnegie is being taken away from us. People no longer have the right to fix their own problems and thus improve the world by sharing their changes just because somebody has made it illegal to do so. Nobody in the whole world has the right to tinker or fix the problem except one company, which may or may not fix the problem depending on its own priorities.

He cited a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson which says “Every revolution begins as an idea in one man's mind'' and then went on to correlate Ralph with Stallman, thought and action and the freedom to make and the freedom to profit. He explained how the Patent system in the USA was actually introduced to encourage inventors from all over the world to emigrate to the USA by granting them exclusive use for a limited period of time. He also talked about the French way of holding onto their technical expertise by compiling the most successful & influential encyclopaedia of all time — the Encyclopédie.

He succeeded in firmly establishing the fact that political freedom and inventive freedom are very closely related, as political freedom spurts the inventiveness in man and allows him to grow. He affirmed that politics are as natural to us as the apple pie or the elections … there is no point in pushing it over to the side and needs to be accepted as an important part of the society.

He then talked about how we can protect our freedom by creating licenses like the GPL which restrict people in minimal ways to protect our freedom — a way of allowing ordered liberty to the people. He also talked briefly about the upcoming GPLv3 and explained how it will tackle the Software Patent system and DRM.

Lastly, he urged everybody to help in protecting our freedom and explaining the value of freedom to the people.

It was a really influential speech and I am sure everybody who has seen the video or been there at the Red Hat Summit would agree. It's a must watch for everybody who understands or wants to understand the Free Software philosophy and its importance in the society.

Prof. Eben Moglen

 

Elephants Dream — A very nice watch Tue, 06 Jun 2006 14:46:37 +0000

Filed under: Creative Commons,Free Software,General,Open Source Software — Bon Goose @ 14:46:37

I downloaded and watched Elephants Dream yesterday. The animation, sound and visual effects are simply awesome. It's amazing to see what can be achieved with Blender, The GIMP and other Free Software tools. The movie is of professional quality and the actors are good too. The downside is of course the story-line. The story though innovative, seemed to have ended quite abruptly.

But let's look at the positive sides. The movie was created with a sole purpose of showing to the world the capabilities of Free Software tools in general and Blender in particular. And they have achieved their goal surely. Also, all the production files of the whole film plus the soundtrack have been released under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 license which is simply incredible. Everybody in this world is allowed to use any part of the movie to create a derived work. So it's only a matter of time when somebody will create a newer and probably a better version of the movie and will release it to the world. I am also hoping that more movies like this one are released in the future.

Elephants Dream

 

Started working on the Design

Filed under: Python,SoC,Ubuntu — Bon Goose @ 02:58:15

After a prolonged sickness, I am back to work again. Started working on the design specs of the offline update tool today. It's still incomplete, but I am just putting up my ideas of implementation on the doc. Talked to Mario Danic about the design doc. He also approved my specification in the Launchpad Blueprint system.

I was quite relieved to know that python-apt is quite usable and it works fine (though not being very pythonic in nature). I read somewhere that it's not very actively maintained now-a-days and lacks a lot of features. That info relieved me quite a lot, otherwise my whole app would have become jeopardised 🙂

There are people who are also requesting me to port the tool to Windows. Well, Python code is easily portable but hey, Windows has no APT library 🙂 Thankfully Mario is writing a tool for Windows which does a similar job, so may be I will be able to borrow some ideas from him.

I also need to check if my bank accepts cheques in Indian Rupees but drawn in the USA. As I have heard, they may claim that such cheques are impossible … heh, they have no idea about Google!

Anyway, I need to sleep off now. I must finish the design doc by tomorrow.

 

Relief at last! Sat, 03 Jun 2006 15:16:58 +0000

Filed under: Life — Bon Goose @ 15:16:58

Just returned from the the Dentist's place now. There was still some mild pain and inflammation all day and I wasn't feeling well at all. Went to the Dentist and he recommended on extracting the tooth immediately. Called up dad and he said that I must wait for a couple of days before taking the plunge. That made me confused. I knew that the pain won't subside completely if I don't get the tooth removed. But at the same time my parents were against it and I was a bit scared too 🙂

But the I thought I must get this thing fixed as soon as possible since the longer I am sick, the longer I will be out of my work. So I went against my parents' advice and told the Dentist to extract the tooth. I was observing each and every step that he took while extracting my tooth and I told him to explain whatever he was doing to me. He turned out to be a good and cooperative doctor and his Dentist wife too kept joking all the while and asked me about my fish fetish et al.

He first applied a surface anaesthetic to the right side of my mouth to make it a bit numb and then took a syringe full of local anaesthesia and put it in multiple places of my mouth and that pained like hell. I was almost screaming in pain because of the needle pricks. Then the doc took a tool to elevate the tooth a bit and then finally extracted it with another tool. There was a lot of pus at the root of the tooth and finally it was all over.

I thanked the Dentist and applied ice on my face and came back home. Apparently, it's raining 24×7 in Kolhapur and it seems there's going to a flood this time too.

So it's relief at last, and I am hoping that I will be able to get back to hacking provided there are no serious repercussions 🙂

 

Down with tooth infection and fever Fri, 02 Jun 2006 20:26:29 +0000

Filed under: Life — Bon Goose @ 20:26:29

Bad news. I am down with extreme tooth-ache and a resultant mild fever since the last few days. I can't work, I can't eat, I can't even talk. I thought taking analgesics will help in fixing the issue, and then even switched to antibiotics yesterday.

The condition hasn't improved much and I couldn't sleep at all last night. I was actually screaming my ass off due to the nagging pain, but there was nobody to take care of me.

Visited a dentist today, it's the 10 year old damaged tooth that causing all the pain. I have an appointment tomorrow afternoon to get the rogue tooth extracted and thrown down to /dev/null.

I have promised Martin Pitt that I will start working on the design soon … I hope I recover soon enough to get that thing done by June 5.