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  • Jon Dron commented on a bookmark Reddit no longer (quite) open source September 5, 2017 - 5:12pm
    Indeed - a nice metaphor. Open source needs patrons! All software is pretty much like art (or at least craft) and, like art, there are some pretty draconian laws in place about what you are allowed to do with it.  Though I do like Reddit and...
  • Viorel Tabara commented on a bookmark Reddit no longer (quite) open source September 5, 2017 - 4:45pm
    It's comes down to how much money they want to make vs how needed their product is. Some projects operate based on donations, while others start offering additional services or training. I've never used Reddit much, it just never appealed to me. On...
  • Jon Dron bookmarked Reddit no longer (quite) open source September 5, 2017 - 4:31pm
    Reddit has released its underlying software as open source since it began but is now stepping away from it - a bit. The reasons are interesting: "Open-source makes it hard for us to develop some features "in the clear" (like our recent video...
    Comments
    • It's comes down to how much money they want to make vs how needed their product is. Some projects operate based on donations, while others start offering additional services or training. I've never used Reddit much, it just never appealed to me. On the other hand I will continue supporting the GPG and Enigmail project, for example. There are plenty of open source projects that continue to thrive 20 years later. In some ways open source is just like art.

      Viorel Tabara September 5, 2017 - 4:45pm

    • Indeed - a nice metaphor. Open source needs patrons! All software is pretty much like art (or at least craft) and, like art, there are some pretty draconian laws in place about what you are allowed to do with it. 

      Though I do like Reddit and use it for serendipitous discovery quite a bit, I don't resent Reddit's decision. It probably makes good business sense and, anyway, there aren't that many people that actually want to run a clone of a pretty rough-and-ready system (Reddit's value is its communities, not its software), especially when there are vastly superior open source tools performing a similar job like Discourse available. It's just a bit sad that something vibrant has been taken out of the system and that the world has become a bit more closed as a result. The Reddit algorithms are (currently) not particularly great but it is really important to know what they do and how they do it, and useful for those seeking to build better variants. That information may be hidden in future, and that's not a good thing in what is, by some measures, the most popular open discussion site on the Internet. 

      Jon Dron September 5, 2017 - 5:12pm

  • Viorel Tabara bookmarked Learning from mistakes - A GitLab story February 1, 2017 - 9:37pm
    An excellent lessons learned material for any syadmin, but especially for those with a taste for PostgreSQL, that came into my inbox from CommandPrompt.
  • Viorel Tabara commented on a bookmark When IRC may not be enough. Maybe? January 15, 2017 - 2:03pm
    I'm not gonna say it. Joshua Drake says it better: The Fall of Open Source. Although he's not talking about IRC, instead he makes a good point about the SaaS trap.
  • Viorel Tabara bookmarked When IRC may not be enough. Maybe? December 27, 2016 - 7:09pm
    A good summary on what Mattermost (the open source alternative to Slack) can offer to distributed groups. Worth mentioning though, there are bigger open source projects that work well on IRC, one example would be Fedora Linux.
    Comments
  • Viorel Tabara bookmarked Hackers vs Crackers November 24, 2016 - 10:53pm
    There is a misconception about hackers. Richard Stallman is one of them. And so are all the people who wrote the computer programs that make up today's Open Source ecosystem. It's not easy to teach the world when mainstream media front pages use the...
  • Viorel Tabara published a blog post What does Xah Lee have to do with PostgreSQL? November 6, 2016 - 3:13pm
    PostgreSQL documentation reference to an Open Source hater. Or maybe not anymore. And a learning experience.
  • Viorel Tabara bookmarked How open source delivers for government October 3, 2016 - 6:14pm
    Note that in their view, proprietary solutions are "legacy". A simple example of how the move toward OSS can improve IT architecture is by thinking about database backups. In the legacy regime of licensed closed source software, each license of...
  • This is a very interesting move that, on the face of it, seems very positive. PowerShell is not that great and there are plentiful better alternatives available for *nix systems already, so I doubt that it will have much impact in the existing...
  • Viorel Tabara commented on a bookmark What is open source? — Open Words August 3, 2016 - 11:54pm
    Based on the number of software released under a variant of the GPL versus any other license shows that FSF was actually quite successful. Here's a count of the top 10 licenses used by packages making up my Fedora 24 install: omiday ~ $ rpm -qa...
  • Jon Dron bookmarked What is open source? — Open Words August 2, 2016 - 1:32pm
    From Ben Werdmuller, amongst other things the co-creator of the Elgg software used to run the Landing and Known, a great social publishing platform, this is among the clearest commentaries on open source that I have come across, including its...
    Comments
    • Based on the number of software released under a variant of the GPL versus any other license shows that FSF was actually quite successful. Here's a count of the top 10 licenses used by packages making up my Fedora 24 install:

      omiday ~ $ rpm -qa --qf "%{license}\n" | sort | uniq -c | sort -n | tail
         31 Public Domain
         34 ASL 2.0
         39 LGPLv2
         74 GPLv2
         84 GPLv3+
         124 GPL+ or Artistic
         187 BSD
         234 MIT
         319 LGPLv2+
         358 GPLv2+
      

      Also, from a total number of software packages:

      omiday ~ $ rpm -qa | wc -l
      2205
      

      more than a half is licensed under some kind of GPL:

      omiday ~ $ rpm -qa --qf "%{license}\n" | grep GPL | wc -l
      1475
      

      A full Elgg package is also licensed under GPL. A reference to The GNU/Linux FAQ by Richard Stallman is a good resource for understanding why "free" is important.

      Money wise, there is definitely less to make with free and open source software. In both free/open source and proprietary cases the "product" is made once, however in the latter case it is then sold millions of times. Take Microsoft as an example. The question to ask is whether increasing the profit margins benefits the society.

      With regards to women participation, it is worth mentioning that at least in the Linux world there is no shortage of support: FSF, Arch, Debian, Fedora and many others are all supporting this initiative.

      A more elaborate discussion could make it into a chapter for the already discussed Open Source course at AU.

      Viorel Tabara August 3, 2016 - 11:54pm

  • Viorel Tabara bookmarked FreeIPA July 23, 2016 - 5:30pm
    This is a killer tool and freedom breaker for any application looking for SSO. Not only it can handle authentication on its own but it can talk to Microsoft Active Directory for those cases where enterprise policy requires so. Top it up with Ipsilon...
  • Viorel Tabara bookmarked Endless OS/Computer July 23, 2016 - 4:53pm
    What is it? The best description is found buried under the Developer Information. Built on top of OSTree uses the same technology as RedHat Enterprise Linux Atomic and at $79USD for a Quad-core CPU / 1GB RAM / 24GB SSD with HDMI output it can make a...
  • Viorel Tabara bookmarked Teaching Linux to speak July 17, 2016 - 12:20pm
    An inspiring article linked from Texas Linux Fest Inteview with Ken Starks. Ken's cry for help with enhancing MaryTTS and the lack of feedback got me thinking: "Wow! it's Java. Accessibility gets a lot of attention at AU and Java is the main...
  • This put a smile on my face: "If I had a dollar for every person who told me they’re switching to Linux because it’s free, I could buy a few copies of Windows 10."
  • Viorel Tabara bookmarked CKAN DMS June 3, 2016 - 4:32pm
    Catchy acronyms, eh? Another nice thing about it is the integration with Drupal and Wordpress. Built by Open Knowldege Foundation.
  • Viorel Tabara commented on a bookmark Jupyter June 2, 2016 - 12:16pm
    The curious-me wanted to know what will happen to IPython. The project documentation hosted at ReadTheDocs links to The Big Split blog. I didn't get past the first line though because I was distracted by the historical perspective on IPython. And...
  • Viorel Tabara bookmarked Jupyter June 2, 2016 - 11:27am
    What started as an enhanced Python interpreter has now morphed into a rich scientific tool that allows collaboration in a connected world. Learn about the evolution of IPython.
    Comments
    • The curious-me wanted to know what will happen to IPython. The project documentation hosted at ReadTheDocs links to The Big Split blog. I didn't get past the first line though because I was distracted by the historical perspective on IPython. And that's when I realized that it would be unfair not to mention Sage that isn't only just another tool. The Why is Sage free/open source question under Sage FAQ bridges the open source and scientific communities in a brilliant way and since Internet links aren't permanent it's worth recording the text here:

      Why is Sage free/open source?

      A standard rule in the mathematics community is that everything is laid open for inspection. The Sage project believes that not doing the same for mathematics software is at best a gesture of impoliteness and rudeness, and at worst a violation against standard scientific practices. An underlying philosophical principle of Sage is to apply the system of open exchange and peer review that characterizes scientific communication to the development of mathematics software. Neither the Sage project nor the Sage Development Team make any claims to being the original proponents of this principle.

      The development model of Sage is largely inspired by the free software movement as spearheaded by the Free Software Foundation, and by the open source movement. One source of inspiration from within the mathematics community is Joachim Neubüser as expressed in the paper

      • J. Neubüser. An invitation to computational group theory. In C. M. Campbell, T. C. Hurley, E. F. Robertson, S. J. Tobin, and J. J. Ward, editors, Groups ‘93 Galway/St. Andrews, Volume 2, volume 212 of London Mathematical Society Lecture Note Series, pages 457–475. Cambridge University Press, 1995.

      and in particular the following quotation from his paper:

      You can read Sylow's Theorem and its proof in Huppert's book in
      the library without even buying the book and then you can use
      Sylow's Theorem for the rest of your life free of charge,
      but...for many computer algebra systems license fees have to be
      paid regularly for the total time of their use. In order to
      protect what you pay for, you do not get the source, but only an
      executable, i.e. a black box. You can press buttons and you get
      answers in the same way as you get the bright pictures from your
      television set but you cannot control how they were made in either
      case.
      
      With this situation two of the most basic rules of conduct in
      mathematics are violated: In mathematics information is passed on
      free of charge and everything is laid open for checking. Not
      applying these rules to computer algebra systems that are made for
      mathematical research...means moving in a most undesirable
      direction. Most important: Can we expect somebody to believe a
      result of a program that he is not allowed to see? Moreover: Do we
      really want to charge colleagues in Moldava several years of their
      salary for a computer algebra system?
      

      Similar sentiments were also expressed by Andrei Okounkov as can be found in

      • V. Muñoz and U. Persson. Interviews with three Fields medalists. Notices of the American Mathematical Society, 54(3):405–410, 2007.

      in particular the following quotation:

      Computers are no more a threat to mathematicians than food
      processors are a threat to cooks. As mathematics gets more and
      more complex while the pace of our lives accelerates, we must
      delegate as much as we can to machines. And I mean both numeric
      and symbolic work. Some people can manage without dishwashers, but
      I think proofs come out a lot cleaner when routine work is
      automated.
      
      This brings up many issues. I am not an expert, but I think we
      need a symbolic standard to make computer manipulations easier to
      document and verify. And with all due respect to the free market,
      perhaps we should not be dependent on commercial software here. An
      open-source project could, perhaps, find better answers to the
      obvious problems such as availability, bugs, backward
      compatibility, platform independence, standard libraries, etc. One
      can learn from the success of TeX and more specialized software
      like Macaulay2. I do hope that funding agencies are looking into
      this.
      

      There you have it. Happy open sourcing!

      Viorel Tabara June 2, 2016 - 12:16pm

  • Excerpts from article: "As a school, we started migrating our servers from Windows to Linux (a combination of Fedora and CentOS) in 2005/2006 and made the decision to switch our desktops over to Fedora in 2008, mainly because I was sick and tired...
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