Archive for the ‘opensource’ Category

What’s Your Favourite Application/Project Name?

December 14, 2007

I just responded to a comment on one of my blog posts about various aspects of the free and open-source OS world versus Windows. One part of that discussion was about application naming, with the commenter suggesting that more descriptive naming would be an important thing to have. While I’m in agreement theoretically, my heart just isn’t there. I love a creatively named application or project.

One of my favourite application names is Inkscape (and not just because I love the program too – which I do – that name is just uber-cool to me). But there are other good ones like: BlueFish, XSane, Opera, DamnSmallLinux, SeaMonkey and F-Spot.

There are of course other names I don’t like, with Gimp, Avidemux and Pidgin immediately springing to mind.

Of course none of this has anything to do with how well the applications work.

What’s your favourite application, distro, or project name (open or closed, free or non-free)? Which ones do you hate?

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Font Matrix – a font manager for Linux

November 27, 2007

Via the Open Font Library Mailing list comes news of Font Matrix, a font manager for Linux. The opening line on the front page shows much promise:

“Fontmatrix is a font manager for Linux users. I repeat, for users.”

Very nice indeed. There are not pre-built versions at this point – it is an 0.2 release after all – but the source is there to download and compile. Something which I’ll be trying out later tonight.

Good Linux-y stuff once again! 🙂

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Desktop Nirvana

November 26, 2007

I was a little disappointed to hear the lack of love for the Openbox window manager during the most recent LinuxLinkTechShow. I’ve been happily using Openbox on top of Ubuntu for a few months now. I like it so much that I’m using it in on the Gutsy VM I have running on my XP-pro box at work too. I like it’s tweakability, it’s speed and the simplicity of it.

There is simply no quicker way to get to an application on some other desktop than middle clicking the desktop which brings up a list of applications across all desktops. Like I said, simple and fast.

But even with this success, I’m far from what you might call an ‘experienced’ Openbox user. That’s why I was so thankful for this amazingly useful post by Urukrama. It covers Openbox on Ubuntu from installation right down to customizing options. So if you’re interested in trying out Openbox, make sure you check it out.

I found this post by way of K.Mandla’s excellent Linux blog. There’s tons of good Ubuntu and Linux related stuff to be found there.

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Microsoft Death Spasms – or is Steve Ballmer just in panic mode?

October 10, 2007

Is it just me, or does Microsoft seem to flailing about quite a bit lately?

They are sure kicking up a lot of fuss over an open operating system and open-source ethos that not long ago they would have liked you to think didn’t even exist on their radar.

And Linux / FOSS marches inexorably onward.

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Notecase – A Clean and Simple Outliner

October 1, 2007

Whenever I’ve looked for a nice clean and simple outliner for Windows or Linux, I’ve never come up with something that has satisfied me. They either end up being too complex or too.. I dunno.. wacky for my tastes.  I know that a lot of Mac-heads swear by OmniOutliner, but I don’t have a Mac.

Alas, my search seems to be over. I came across NoteCase a while ago and have used it for the last couple of weeks. It’s a clean and simple 2-pane outliner written in C and Gtk. It’s free and open-source software released under BSD license. It does exactly what I want it to do, build a clean and simple outline with no-fuss and no-muss. It also does things like export outlines to html and text file formats. NoteCase will even export to an .exe file which I believe just creates a standalone instance of NoteCase itself, preloaded with the outline you’ve exported. Nice.

It has all the node editing features you’d likely expect, along with standard text formatting, search and replace, and date/time insertion features. The current version is 1.6.9.

All in all it’s a simple, fast and clean outlining program – exactly what I’ve been looking for. Check your distro’s repositories for it, or go here for the different downloads that are available.

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A Must-Listen Interview about the Future of Software and other things…

September 28, 2007

I spotted an interesting post about an interview done with Eben Moglen, the general counsel for the Free Software Foundation. The title of the post was interesting enough, “The inevitability of free software”, however I’ve written before about how smart and passionate Eben Moglen is, and after listening to an mp3 of the interview, I have to say I was not disappointed.

While the interview was fascinating from start to finish, his views on the future of the software industry were a lot less rosey and idealistic than I was expecting. Of course he contends that the old models of proprietary software manufacture (like Microsoft) will die out, but he also predicts a landscape of freely available software being produced by millions (if not billions) young people the world over, not a relatively small group of high-minded rich programmers in the US destined for early retirement. The high-level, money making task it seems is not in the software production and design, but in the ‘editing’ of the newly commoditized software landscape. That is, taking the raw materials and forming practical and palatable solutions for corporate and consumer consumption. Adding value is the thing. He illustrates it with IBM. He says they are well on their way. They are commoditizing all the software they can and concentrating on their high margin/ high-value added items instead.

There has long been discussion about how free software developers are supposed to make money. Maybe they’re not. I remember an interview on TLLTS where Richard Stallman is  confronted with this question. And if I remember correctly, I think he said the same thing.. ‘maybe they’re not’.

And while this undoubtedly won’t sit well with many free software developers (or software developers in general), it may be the inevitable truth in the long run. Does the western world have some divine right to software technology production? Perhaps it (the western world) just has to move on to something else – something further up the chain.

I’ve been mulling over a prospective blog post in a similar vein for a month or two now. Maybe traditional journalists will go the way of the Dodo Bird. Maybe free software programmers are not supposed to make money doing it. As technology develops, certain careers fall by the wayside. What about secretaries? What about professional photographers? What about professional graphic designers? Are any of these things sacred? Maybe not. Maybe those people have to find other ways to make a living in the future. Time passes, things change, and being a stubborn optimist, I think we, as a whole, move forward. But I digress… that post is still simmering.. 😉

One final fascinating thing in the interview was Moglen’s distinction between functional and non-functional digitial goods. Functional meaning things like  data collections, algorithmic systems, blueprints, software and the like which can be judged on their functionality. Whereas non-functional digital goods are things like music, art, movies, literary works etc. whose evaluation is subjective in nature. He proposes that  the quality of functional commodities improves when no-one is excluded from producing it (eg. free and open-source software) so rights restrictions on these things inherently limits quality. However he states that non-functional digital good (music, art etc.) will not necessarily be better or worse depending on how they are limited in terms of rights – so whether or not these rights are limited makes little difference.

Now I’ll stop pretending to know all of the intricacies of these issues. Do yourself a favour and listen to it. It’s the most interesting 45 minutes I’ve spent in a long while.

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