Newsflash! Linux created by IBM, HP.

Remember this?

Another anti-Microsoft (MSFT) front group has emerged in favour of “free and open standards,” hyping what it calls the Hague Declaration and making some absurd connection to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The propagandists, partially funded by publicly traded companies, have a little trouble describing what that term “free and open standards” means (or even using it consistently), but the group has no trouble indicating its political stripes. Unbelievably it calls itself Digistan, apparently to identify with the fascist terrorists based in countries and regions using the Farsi-based suffix “stan.”

The chap who bizarrely thinks any name ending in “stan” must be terrorist AND fascist is at it again.

This time, he has re-written the history of GNU/Linux and got it completely wrong.

Linux was created by IBM, HP (HPQ) and other former IT systems monopolists that realized that Microsoft was taking their systems monopoly away from them. IBM, HP, Digital Equipment (now part of HP), etc. had banded together for this purpose in the early 1980s while Linus Torvalds, the nominal creator of Linux and who now works for one of the groups IBM, HP, etc. put together for its trust-like purposes, was still in short pants. Ten years later, the consortium chose a small piece of software code, “forked” by Linus from some other code while he was in college, to complement the still ongoing technical development effort by IBM, HP, etc. to come up with “one Unix.” What is today called Linux is the result of that one-Unix effort.


Honestly, why does he bother to write such crap? I think I know why – just so he gets some comments. Nobody bothers to comment on anything else he writes it seems. Ever.

(Maybe Google uses a comment:post ratio for rankings?)

I guess his portfolio must be looking pretty sick right now. Perhaps we all need to show Dennis some love and comment on his blog once in a while? Just to make him feel wanted…

Thanks to PJ for bringing Dennis’s drivvel to our attention and for putting the history record straight.

Power to the People! [on Mozilla’s Firefox EULA]

Is anyone reading this old enough to remember that line from the BBC TV Sitcom “Citizen Smith“? I think I have just seen it in action.

In just a couple of short days there has been a massive expression of discontent with the imposition of an EULA on Ubuntu‘s users of the Mozilla Firefox web browser. And it seems that the voice of the community is being listened to:

We’ve come to understand that anything EULA-like is disturbing, even if the content is FLOSS based.  So we’re eliminating that.

Mitchell Baker, the chairman of the Mozilla Foundation,  has just posted an update on her blog “The Lizard Wrangler”. The main thrust of her comments make it sound like Mozilla has listened carefully to the concerns so fervently expressed. Although the proof will be in the pudding so to speak:

We still feel that something about the web services integrated into the browser is needed; these services can be turned off and not interrupt the flow of using the browser. We also want to tell people about the FLOSS license — as a notice, not as as EULA or use restriction.  Again, this won’t block the flow or provide the unwelcoming feeling that one comment to my previous post described so eloquently.

Apart from a few rather vitriolic comments towards individuals, the majority of the comments made on “that bug report” (which will probably become quite infamous in it’s own right and get it’s own page on Wikipedia) were lucid and expressed a deep concern about the direction this might lead FOSS in general. A snowball effect of pop-ups and EULAs appearing for Free Software applications would be our a nightmare for the FOSS movement and lead to many people simply saying “so what’s the difference between this an Windows then?”. The snowball that is FOSS would probably melt rather spectacularly.

A user’s ability to choose to install a product from a massive software library without being told how they must use it is one of the great and liberating freedoms of using FOSS. Take that away and you are simply creating a carbon copy of the proprietary software experience.

If it becomes clear after Mozilla release their updated plans that there is still some requirement for the user to positively acknowledge (or accept) some form of usage restriction, then unfortunately Firefox can no longer be classed as Free Software and undoubtedly removes itself from compliance with Freedom 0 “The freedom to run the program, for any purpose“.

If this transpires to be the case, then I personally think that Ubuntu must move Firefox from the “main” repository and replace their default browser with, either the unbranded (and Free) version of Firefox, or another alternative. Firefox can and almost certainly should still be available, but it surely must be moved to the “multiverse” repository which contains: Software restricted by copyright or legal issues.

If I understand the core problem correctly, it seems to me that the best solution is to, by default, disable the phising detection and other services which require end user consent, and to make the positive user acknowledgement simply part of the process of enabling these features, e.g. when you click the check box to turn on phising protection you must acknowledge the use terms at that stage. Not when you just start browsing the web. And, of course, for Linux users these “protection services” are of little or no benefit anyway.

Just perhaps; Wolfie’s goal of “The Glorious Day” is about to make a comeback…

A Little Bit of Fry and Richard

How good to see one of “us brits” over there…

BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA — Tuesday, September 2, 2008 — The GNU operating system is turning 25 this year, and the Free Software Foundation (FSF) has kicked off its month-long celebration of the anniversary by releasing “Happy Birthday to GNU,” a short film featuring the English humorist, actor, novelist and film maker Stephen Fry.

Fry on Free Software

This is a great introduction to Free Software – one that your mum, dad and other friends & relies can understand.

Stephen has generously donated his time to the cause of free software. His ability to communicate a technological and philosophical movement in terms of the basic principles of sharing and user freedom — ideas that everyone can understand — will introduce a new and broader audience to the benefits of free software,” said Matt Lee, an FSF campaigns manager and writer/producer of the film.

Go on – go and watch the film* and forward the link to anyone you can think of. You are also free to download the video (link to UK Mirror) and share and distribute it too under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

* If you are one of those poor souls still using proprietary software, you might need to read this first. The video is encoded in Ogg, a free an un-patent encumbered format that is really free to use. Of course you could go and download a free operating system too and rid yourself of the shackles and chains which Stephen so eloquently describes.