FSF Helps Launch Autonomo.us To Focus On Freedom In Network Services

From Slashdot:

mako writes “The FSF just announced the results of a meeting it held on software freedom and network services. They are hailing the launch of a new group called Autonomo.us to follow up on these issues and the publication of the Franklin Street Statement on Freedom and Network Services which lays out a set of recommendations and guidelines for protecting freedom for software as a service.”

More from Mako on his blog:Autonomo.us and the Franklin Street Statement.

Though I first saw info about this on Evan Prodromou’s journal when he was talking about his work on identica.

Evan Profromou

Wonder if this WordIdentica wordpress plugin will work.

Really enjoying identica 😀

laconica superuser theme released

I’ve decided to release this theme as a learning exercise for some people more than anything else.

This isn’t the recommended way to theme laconica and I’m sure theres a laconica developer out there somewhere that wants to hurt me. lol.

Make sure you visit identi.ca and signup. Here’s my identi.ca user page. Also check out the list of servers, there might be something that you like and with the beauty of remote subscriptions, you can subscribe without signing up on all those sites 😀

laconica_superuser_theme.png

Download

Follow the readme in the tarball.
[download#1#size]

Free Software Foundation-5 reasons to avoid iPhone 3G

Iphone

The 5 real reasons to avoid iPhone 3G:

  • iPhone completely blocks free software. Developers must pay a tax to Apple, who becomes the sole authority over what can and can’t be on everyone’s phones.
  • iPhone endorses and supports Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) technology.
  • iPhone exposes your whereabouts and provides ways for others to track you without your knowledge.
  • iPhone won’t play patent- and DRM-free formats like Ogg Vorbis and Theora.
  • iPhone is not the only option. There are better alternatives on the horizon that respect your freedom, don’t spy on you, play free media formats, and let you use free software — like the Freerunner.

The FSF believe that the iPhone is an attack on very old and fundamental values — the value of people having control over their stuff rather than their stuff having control over them, the right to freely communicate and share with others, and the importance of privacy.

The important difference between the iPhone and prior general-purpose computers: The iPhone is broken, on purpose. It is in theory capable of running many different kinds of programs, but software applications and media will be limited via Apple’s ironically named Digital Restrictions Management technology — “FairPlay”.

FoulPlay

Apple’s DRM system monitors your activities and tells you what you are and are not allowed to do. What you are not allowed to do is install any software that Apple doesn’t like. This restriction prevents you from installing free software — software whose authors want you to freely share, copy and modify their work.

This system is not Apple’s only FoulPlay. iPhones can now also only be activated in stores — despite the fact that in the U.S., the Register of Copyrights ruled that consumers have the right to unlock their phones and switch to a different carrier.

Fortunately, we will soon be able to have all the convenience of a mobile computer that also makes phone calls without selling our freedom to Apple, Microsoft, BlackBerry, or anyone else. The Neo FreeRunner is a promising free-software phone, being developed in cooperation with the same worldwide community responsible for the GNU/Linux operating system. These are creators who want to share their work and who want you and others to be able to do what they did — build on the work of people who came before them to make new, empowering devices.

Neo Freerunner

Migrate to Linux instead of Vista

badvista
PC World has this week published an article encouraging small businesses to shift from Windows Vista to Linux:

Since Windows XP remains available only as a “downgrade” from Vista, at additional cost, businesses that want to replace obsolescent PCs or need to add staff are compelled to buy Windows Vista and then pay extra if they want to stay with Windows XP. In order to avoid the cost of “downgrading” to XP by migrating all desktops to Vista, they’re faced with the added cost of all new Vista licences, plus high hardware replacement costs because Vista requires new PCs kitted out with at least 2GHz CPUs and 2GB of memory in order to run acceptably. Then there’s also the fact that Windows Vista performs poorly, even after SP1.

Businesses that cannot bear such a large hit to their IT budgets should consider migrating to Linux instead. All of the Linux distributions are available either entirely free of charge or at relatively low cost. Linux runs well even on older PC hardware, which means businesses can avoid having to purchase all new desktop PCs (if you need Linux or PC repairs or support in Brisbane click here for Superuser’s help). All of the major Linux distributions include free file and print servers, website and email servers and clients, office productivity applications, development toolsets and utilities.

If you’re already doing without dedicated support staff for Windows, one year may be all the paid support you need for Linux. Ubuntu users joke that simply googling for technical support usually results in the exact answer you’re looking for on Canonical’s forums. Linux is different from Windows, but it isn’t an alien life form.

The human investment you make in transitioning away from expensive Windows and Office licenses may pay for itself quickly. More important, you’ll be free to run the desktop and server software of your choice, on hardware you can afford.

says Scott Spanbauer, a contributing editor for PC World.
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Microsoft gags UK schools

munkavle2
According to a UK website The Inquirer Microsoft lawyers have stopped Becta, the UK’s technology quango for schools, from publishing the details of the three-year megadeal it agreed with Microsoft in April. It would appear that Becta refused to satisfy a Freedom of Information request made by the Inquirer for details of the latest Microsoft schools megadeal, “after consultation with Microsoft.”

“The documents are predominantly based on confidential material provided by Microsoft which was provided on the clear understanding that it would remain confidential,” said Becta.

According to the report, a UK analyst who asked not to be named, said it was possible to guestimate that UK schools spent about £55m a year on Microsoft software, based on a rare disclosure of a deal the NHS signed with Microsoft in 2004.

There has been growing concern in the public sector in the UK and Europe about the ways in which Microsoft might try to protect the monopoly it has in desktop software, for example, keeping its prices artificially high, which absorbs public money that could be spent elsewhere, and at the same time suppressing innovative competitors from breaking through. Yet open source software suppliers, which are the only credible competitors to Microsoft, give their software to schools for free.

Becta have launched a programme to get UK schools to adopt open source software, it is one which will allow one supplier, selected by tender, two years to build a community of schools which uses and develops its own open source alternatives to Microsoft software. So it would seem the UK government is at last opening its eyes to the benefits of Foss.

A High School Student’s Views on Software Freedom

closer
I first noticed this blog on fsdaily. Lots of really good info so far.

Some titles:

Make sure you check out A High School Student’s Views on Software Freedom.

Heres the latest 5 items from his rss feed:

Micro-blogging with Laconica

laconica
I have been fairly busy this week and has set up a micro-blogging site on superuser using Laconica. Its an open source micro-blogging tool written in PHP. Laconica was created as a direct response of a need to create an open source, distributed alternative to Twitter. At the moment Laconica has a basic microblog feature which will most certainly be built on rapidly due to the open source nature of the software.

These are upcoming priority features for Laconica, which include:

  • SMS updates and notifications
  • A Twitter-compatible API
  • More AJAX-y interface
  • Cross-post to Twitter, Pownce, Jaiku, etc.
  • Pull messages from Twitter, Pownce, Jaiku, etc.
  • Facebook integration

Microblogging started as a way for young and technologically savvy users to keep in touch, and gradually the practice has moved into the mainstream. In the United States, for example, Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John Edwards started microblogging details from the campaign trail. Some traditional media organizations, including The New York Times and the BBC, have begun to send headlines and links in microblog posts. Other potential applications of microblogging include traffic and sports updates and emergency broadcast systems.

I think microblogging is a useful public relations vehicle. You can connect with influencers, and have the opportunity to connect with the network of people they follow, and you also can keep tabs on projects. I think the future will be microblogging platforms that are more tightly targeted. Take for example, PlaceShout it has an intrinsic value. It works like Twitter, but its goal is consumer reviews. Users have 100 characters to leave a review of a place of business, and the reviews are overlaid on Google Maps.

Tremulous

tremulous_14
I checked out a pretty cool game called Tremulous. Its a free and open source, team-based first person shooter. The game features two teams, humans and aliens, and the aim is to build and protect a base. I am not sure I quite got the hang of it, I managed to shoot and kill Jack, who happened to be on my team….oops.

Tremulous is licensed under the GPL, although it includes code from other projects that was released under other GPL-compatible licenses. Most of the game media is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 License.

The release of the game as free and open source software has meant that programmers can modify the game and game engine. This has meant that a growing number of players are releasing patches for the game in order to remove bugs, add features to the game or modify the game play itself.

Its well worth a look. I am going to need a bit more practice I think.