Category Archives: Fedora

AGPL enforced: The Israeli ICT authority releases code

Data.gov.il was created in 2011 after the Israeli social justice protests as part of the the public participation initiative and started to offer data held by the government. Back then the website was based on Drupal. In 2016 it was changed to CKAN, a designated system for releasing data. This system is licensed under the AGPLv3 requiring source code availability for anyone who can access the the system over a network, de facto for every user.

Since the change to CKAN, open source people asked the state to release the code according to the license but didn’t get a clear answer. All this time when it’s clear it’s violation.  This led Gai Zomer to file a formal complaint in March 2017 with the Israeli State Comptroller. Absurdly, that same month the ICT authority mentioned a policy to release source code it owns, while failing to release code it has taken from others and adapted.

With the end of the summer break and Jew holidays, and after I wasn’t able to get the source, I decided to switch to legal channels, and with the help of Jonathan Klinger and my company, Kaplan Open Source Consulting, we notified they should provide the source code or we’ll address the court.

Well, it worked. In 3 days time the CKAN extensions where available on the website, but in a problematic way, so users weren’t able to download easily. This is why we decided not to publish this code release and let them fix it first. In addition we made it clear all the source code should be available, not only the extensions. Further more, if they already release it’s recommended to use git format instead of just “dumping” a tarball. So we told them if they aren’t going to make a git repository we’ll do that ourselves, but in any case, would prefer them to do that .

While this issue is still pending, the ICT authority had a conference called “the citizen 360” about e-gov and open government in which they reaffirmed their open source plans.

A slide about open source from the Israeli ICT authority presentation

A slide about open source from the Israeli ICT authority presentation

Now, a month later, after our second letter to them, the about page in data.gov.il was updated with links to the ICT authority GitHub account which has the sources for the website and the extensions. A big improvement, and an important mark point as the commit to the repository was done by an official (gov.il) email address.

Beyond congratulating the Israeli ICT authority for their steps forward and the satisfaction of our insisting on them became fruitful, we would like to see the repository get updated on a regular basis, the code being given back to the various CKAN extensions (e.g. Hebrew translation). In general, we hope they would to get inspired by how the how data.gov.uk is doing technical transparency. If we allow ourselves to dream, we would like to see Israel becoming a dominate member in the CKAN community and among the other governments who use it.

We’re happy to be the catalyst for open source in the Israeli government, and we promise to keep insisted where needed. We know that due to other requests and notifications more organizations are on their way to release code.

(This post is a translation from Hebrew of a post in Kaplan Open Source Consulting at https://kaplanopensource.co.il/2017/11/20/data-gov-il-code-release/)

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Filed under Debian GNU/Linux, Fedora, Government Policy, Israeli Community, LibreOffice, PHP, Proud to use free software

Linus fixes a sound bug ?

Well, kinda. Just follow the comments on this bug report regarding a sound problem in Fedora 14.

A user reported about not being able to get mp3 play smoothly and a few other confirmed the issue with Fedora 14. Tests pointed at the kernel or sound driver. A user (Michael Young) and the Linus him self proved this wrong. and Michael found out it caused by a “feature” in glibc. From there Linus provided a work around till the glibc guys will fix the issue (and as for now they claim it’s not a bug).

I’m sure the user who opened the bug reported didn’t expect this whole chain of events… it’s quite amazing.

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Filed under Fedora

Red Hat Enterprise Linux Life Cycle

Last month RHEL 4.8 was released (see release notes). With this release RHEL 4 is entering phase 2 of it’s life cycle. During this phase only urgent software updates will be done and important or critical security issues will be handled.

During the Production 2 life cycle phase, at a minimum, qualified security errata of important or critical impact, as well as, urgent priority bug-fix errata may be released independent of minor releases.

If available, refreshed hardware enablement that does not require substantial software changes may be provided at the discretion of Red Hat via minor releases. New software functionality is not available during this phase. All available and qualified errata will be provided via the minor releases. The focus for minor releases during this life cycle phase lies on resolving defects with a minimum priority of high.

Updated install images will only be provided for minor releases during the Production 2 life cycle phase if required due to installer changes at Red Hat’s discretion.

Regrading RHEL 4, it seems the the release of 4.9 somewhere around Q1 2010, will end the 2nd phase, and the start of the 3rd one. It in the 3rd phase no new hardware is supported, and only mission critical bugs fixes are done. Security bug fixes has the same police like the second phase.

If you’re running RHEL version prior to version 4, notice that RHEL 2.1 just finished it’s 7 years life cycle on may 31st, and RHEL 3 will end it’s life cycle in October 31st, 2010. Details are available at Red Hat Enterprise Linux Life Cycle page.

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Filed under Fedora, Red Hat Enterprise Linux

Working for Free? – Motivations of Participating in Open Source Projects

I’ve been asked to summarize an article by Alexander Hars & Shaosong Ou about motivations of participating in open source projects written in 2000 for a psychology course. It was very interested to see how many things can motivate one to invest in open source.

Although none of the motivators was new to me, I still found the article very interesting. In fact, during the presentation of the article to the class I added my point of view and the reasons I participate in open source. I realized that, although not intentionally, I enjoyed every motivator mentioned in the article, except “selling related products and services”.

It would be quite interesting to have this article done again, as the open source world became bigger and has more payed people working on free software. Any volunteers ?

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Filed under Debian GNU/Linux, Fedora, Mozilla, Openoffice.org, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Ubuntu

What can Debian learn from Fedora about recruiting new people?

I’ve been visiting the fedora website in the last couple of days. One thing caught my interest, and that’s the “join Fedora” link just bellow the “get Fedora” one.

I clicked on it and got to this very simple “Join Fedora” page. The appealing part is the large icons which roughly lists the main ways to contribute to Fedora:

  • Content Writer
  • Designer
  • People Person
  • OS Developer
  • Translator
  • Web Developer or Administrator

Clicking etch icon gives you a description of relevant skills, related teams and typical tasks of this role. This is very useful for people not sure about what can they do or where exactly their skills are needed.

On the Debian’s website we have a “help debian” page which lists very similar functions the user can help with. The difference is that we list them at text which is less appealing than the Fedora’s icons. Fedora does have similar text to Debian, but it is organized into roles instead of suggesting everything to everyone.

I also think there’s a semantic difference with the term help and join. To me joining a project sounds more strong than helping it. Probably because joining something makes you a part of it, while helping does not. Although in the end both term have the exact same meaning in for the project themselves – users getting involved.

Openoffice.org has a big “I want to participate in openoffice.org” text in their font page, which like Fedora leads to a set of defined roles. Same thing in Ubuntu with their “Get Involved” page. It is important that each role page will have links the to tools people need in order to start contribute.

I don’t have the required graphical skills to do such icons, but I’m willing to create/edit the pages on the Debian website. I’ll be happy to hear comments before I approach the debian-www people.

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Filed under Debian GNU/Linux, Fedora, Openoffice.org