Tag Archives: free software

A simple world without license hell

Linux Journal reports about Sun re-licensing its past contributions to the xorg project to its default license, which is very short and simple:

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a
copy of this software and associated documentation files (the “Software”),
to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation
the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense,
and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the
Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice (including the next
paragraph) shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the
Software.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED “AS IS”, WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.

I wish most projects would use familiar licenses, instead of creating the license hell which already includes GPL compatible licenses, non GPL compatible licenses, apache style licenses, BSD/MIT licenses, private licenses (each company “must” have it’s own license) and a few others as categorized at http://www.opensource.org/licenses/category . And of course – dual or triple licensing which for most people doesn’t make their life easier. See how many licenses there are to compare: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_free_software_licenses

Sun’s re-licensing is a step forward for a simpler life for the xorg project. It’s usually hard enough to make sure you track all the copyright info of files in a project, and having a different license to each file just makes things harder.

This isn’t the first time Sun helps to solve a licensing issue. It began in 2005 with retiring the Sun Industry Standards Source License (SISSL) which led to remove Openoffice.org dual license. It continued (2005) to solving some license issues with Java that we couldn’t even have it in Debian’s non-free

In 2007 Sun started releasing most of java in GPL to help OpenJDK and IcedTea which now makes java available in main (lets not forget that there were a few free software projects already half way through like gcj, GNU classpath and others).

So – Thank you Sun for helping free software. I think that resolving licensing issues are very important for free software community, and for Sun itself by using free software. It’s specially important to fix such issues if and before the company changes owners.

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Filed under Debian GNU/Linux, Free software applications, Free software licenses

Encouraging open source in education

I’ve read today a case study by Gregor Bierhals about an Austrian project called desktop4education which creates a desktop environment for school based on open suse.

The fact that really surprised me (and for the better) was the fact that the federal government help the project by sending CDs/DVDs to other school and even willing to award schools to move to open source software and reducing license fees.

While schools don’t pay the the Microsoft Office license fee (10 euro per station), the federal government has decided to pay the schools 10 euro for each station that moved to open source software.

However, by the time of writing the situation is about to change as the Federal government increasingly adopts a policy that promotes the use of open source software in Austrian schools. Exemplary to this is the government’s decision to pay any school €10 for each workstation that runs the free productivity suite Open Office that is provided by Sun Microsystems in replace of Microsoft Office, for which the government introduced a calculative license fee of €10.

I think this decision is radical as it motives the schools to move to open source software, and benefiting financially from the move. So while the government might pay a bit more, the money goes to the schools instead of commercial companies. I’m sure that’s a better investment of tax payers money.

I can just hope more governments will adopt this policy.

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Filed under Proud to use free software

Will the Knesset install Firefox on its computers?

In a letter to the chairman of the Knesset (the Israeli parliament), Ilan Gilon asks why the Knesset’s computing unit refuses to install free software (mainly Firefox). I’m quite interested to see the answer… (:

The question already started to be published in the media by Calcalist (in Hebrew). The letter was also published (in Hebrew) by a blogger at room404.

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Filed under Free software applications, Mozilla

How to make an open source kindergarten

If you can read Hebrew, you’ll find the original story at “איך עושים גן בקוד פתוח“. Otherwise, you’re welcome to read the post.

Vitali Perchonok was asked to check the computer is his city of Kiryat Gat, he found a lot of old PCs (P1 and P2) with windows 98 and DOS games that don’t work. He decided to find a way to use the computers with open source software.

He found that he can run Gcompris, an educational software suite comprising of numerous activities for children aged 2 to 10, on the old computers. Now he just needs to update the Hebrew translation (last updated at 2005). Along side the translation he fixed bugs, recorded new sounds and replaced some of the graphics (all with the help of a few friends).

To wrap it all, he decided to create a liveCD for the program, and this was the beginning of KG-Live. The changes were sent upstream and should be included in the next release.

Today, the project waits for approval from the Israeli Ministry of Education, before distributing the software officially to the kindergartens.

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Filed under Free software applications, i18n & l10n, Israeli Community, Proud to use free software

A virtual world

I have a friend which works as a DBA. She decided she wants to test some of application at home. She tells me she is run here windows application though wine which run on linux under a virtual machine on top of windows.

And me answer is WTF? How do you have time for all these technologies when I don’t even have time to use one of them.

Anyway, I was proud to hear she just utilize everything she can to get stuff working (:

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Filed under Free software applications, Proprietary software, Proud to use free software

kSar – Fixing bugs (almost) online

While working with kSar to visulize sar’s statistics, a friend found a bug with kSar.

Most IT people don’t think they can have access to the developers, I reminded my friend that we’re dealing with an open source application and we should report a bug or at least check the bug with the develpers.

He wrote a message in the kSar forums, and the answer, in the form of a new minor version came 4 hours later. We testing the fix and were very happy.

I can just hope all my bugs will be solved so quickly (:

So, please don’t be shy about your problems with free software. Most developers will be happy to get a good bug report and help you. I believe that’s specially true about developers of small applications who are just happy to hear people are using their software.

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Filed under Free software applications, Proud to use free software, QA stuff, System Administration

August Penguin 2008

In the last two months I’ve been less active regarding free software as life keep me busy with other stuff. Nerver the less I’ve been able to help with orginizing August Penguin – the annual Israeli free software conference (happening the 7th time in a row).

The conference takes half a day and occurs on the first Friday of August. This year we’re back to a two track conference with a tehcnical and non-technical tracks. Each track has 5 lectures, 30 min. each.

Non technical track:

Technical Track:

This year with also have ISOC-IL, Microsoft (yes, you’re reading correctly) and Sun as sponsors (and a few smaller companies). Cool to have the “big boys” helping.

As I found out more and more open source people from around the world in Israel, I thought it will be a good idea to write about the conference and invite them. Please be aware that the lectures are in Hebrew. But you can also come to meet the community and talk with the people or take part in our GPG signing party. More info (in Hebrew) at http://august.penguin.org.il and in Facebook’s event info.

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Filed under Israeli Community, Uncategorized