Matt Asay makes one crucial observation in Microsoft’s dilemma: The importance of the downstream:
To work within the open-source community… Microsoft must stop polluting the downstream with patent encumbrances.
(Emphasis in original.)
This is my problem with Microsoft’s patent pledge, with the Microsoft-Novell deal over codecs for Monopolight, and just about everything coming out of Redmond except for the pretty words of the open source interoperability lab.
Discriminatory distribution clauses are contrary to the four freedoms of software. Couching that discrimination in the language of business ($40 billion in annual revenue seems like a pretty fair return for $7 billion in annual research to me) and waving the tired old tatters of the flag of innovation doesn’t make that discrimination right, and it doesn’t hide it very well.
If Microsoft wants to interoperate with free software at the source level, it has plenty of source code — all of Microsoft’s own source code and all of the free software ever distributed.
If Microsoft wants to interoperate with free software at the business level, it could start by removing legal roadblocks to interoperability. The fact that the company continues not to do so leads me to believe that Microsoft doesn’t really want to interoperate with free software at a business level.
As long as the company offers only jingoistic pats on the head to us misguided little hackers laboring part time in our basements with no commercial aspirations, there’s little point in considering anything that comes out of Redmond as useful.
In eight months since Nat Torkington asked Bill Hilf What Will Change at Microsoft with Regard to Patents and F/OSS, nothing interesting has happened. OSCON’s four months away. Maybe Bill Hilf will have a big announcement then — maybe he’ll have set up mail filters. Don’t hold your breath for a sane patent strategy.
Over the past 14 months I’ve reviewed two previous releases of Vector Linux: Vector Linux 5.8 Standard and Vector Linux 5.8 SOHO. Anyone who has run those versions of Vector Linux would find the new version quite familiar. In reality the changes between 5.8 and 5.9, which was released in December, are like day and night. For starters up until now Vector Linux was a 32-bit distro. A 64-bit version of Vector Linux 5.9 Standard is currently in beta and looks very promising. However, since it is still beta code I’m restricting my review to the 32-bit version.
Last year Vector Linux came in four flavors. The list has now been expanded to seven different variations on the distribution: Standard, Deluxe, SOHO, Live, Light, Mini, and Light Live. SOHO, with KDE as the default desktop and all the most popular applications, is the full featured version. Standard is based on the Xfce4 desktop and provides superior speed and performance. Both are freely downloadable. Deluxe, available for purchase, is Standard plus a second CD with additional applications including KDE and OpenOffice. Live, as the name implies, is a live CD version of Standard. Light is a paired down, extremely lightweight version designed to run on older systems with as little as 64MB of RAM. In reality it will run with less than that. Light is built around either a JWM or Fluxbox desktop and lightweight applications. Mini is a further reduced version of Light that fits on a 5cm/3″ mini CD and requires only 1.1GB of disk space. Finally, Light Live is, as you’d expect, the live CD version of Light. So far only new Standard and Deluxe versions have been released but the others, all in various stages of development and testing, can already be sampled. This review will stick strictly with the Standard version from here on out.
My main box for testing Vector Linux 5.9 Standard my aging general purpose laptop, a five year old Toshiba Satellite 1805-S204 (1 GHz Celeron processor, 512MB RAM). Though this system has adequate memory for any current Linux distro it’s sufficiently challenged in terms of processing power for KDE to be sluggish and for Gnome to be noticeably slower than Xfce4 in most distros.
Vector Linux is almost to the point where it can seriously considered by almost any user, not just someone experienced with Linux, as most things do work as they should out of the virtual box. Some issues still require manually editing configuration files. I had hoped that by this point VL would be as user friendly as any distro out there but it isn’t there yet.
I have a server (LDAP and NFS) which occasionally seems to take a while to react. Load average is consistently high (10-12 for 4 CPUs, which AIUI means 2.5-3 per CPU); response may also be being affected by disk I/O.
I’d like to find out which processes in particular are causing the heavy load, and possibly also to track disk I/O activity over say a 24 hr period. Unfortunately, this has exposed a shocking lack in my knowledge, viz: I have no idea how to do this, what tools are out there, etc etc. (Obviously I am fortunate never to have encountered performance issues before; all my machines have previously either Worked or Not Worked.) Any suggestions?
(The other possibility is a network load issue, but as I’m not responsible for the network, tracking that might be tougher.)
Another, unconnected query: I have been asked to source quiet/silent keyboards for a couple of my colleagues who are noisy typers. Any recommendations? I’ve looked at the Saitek Eclipse but it sounds like it’s not very tough. Bonus virtual biscuit for recommendations which are actually available to buy in the UK (the IBM Quiet Touch appears not to be, for example). Real biscuit available to anyone able to implement a biscuit-over-IP protocol; failing that I shall just eat them all myself.
O’Reilly has a brand-new feature, book forums at http://forums.oreilly.com/category/13/Book-Forums/. Gab with your favorite authors and other readers. I’ll be posting tips and cool hacks that didn’t make it into the Linux Networking Cookbook. Come on down and join the fun!
If you’re interested in SSL & Apache (a how-to).
Also on the web front: the other week I was talking about CSS & child elements, and someone suggested using the
:empty selector. This isn’t in the CSS 2.1 spec, but is in the CSS 3 selector draft, and it appears that Firefox 2+ at least supports it. Which is nice.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for what I want it for because what I want is to identify list items that have children; but the list items without children aren’t empty, because they have content (the list item text). I think in theory this counts as a “child”, but it’s not what I mean by having a child. Anyway: the theory is sound, but in practice doesn’t solve my problem. Oh well.
The energetic, never-sleeping Ken Starks, of Tux 500 fame, has launched a new project that involves the town of Felton, California. As Ken’s blog says:
On July 4th, 2008; a significant percentage of Felton, California, will go Microsoft-free for one week…maybe an entire month.
How does a person pull off an event of this size?
Since August of 2007, Larry Cafiero of HeliOS Solutions West has established a base and has been discussing the project with residents, business owners and community leaders. Businesses and home users alike are interested in learning a better way to operate their computers. For a week…maybe a month…maybe for good. As Larry meets with other residents and business owners, the number of people who want to participate is growing daily.
I’m always amazed by Ken’s energy and ingenuity. Read all about it here: http://linuxlock.blogspot.com/2008/02/linependence-2008.html