Your Shipment of Fail Has Arrived

Today I am producing and delivery shipments of fail.  Late, missing meetings, missing the point, having to reschedule due to my perception of time (or the lack of more accurately) et cetera.  I have exceeded my expectations of how absent minded one can be.  So apologies to everyone.  Today is not going according to any well thought out plan.  I am just hoping I can clean up my act and start thinking straight today.

Today I am thankful that my coworkers are patient and understanding.  And I am really glad that the project at work is going forward.  Even when one of the team member clearly suffering from two left clown feet syndrome.

The rest of the universe is in working better than I am.  Cisco gave up trying to irritate the FSF.  My favourite free software projects are still there and churning out wonderous code.  The Tamil Tigers and their civil war may start to fade into the annals of history.  The markets refuse to stop irritating the interventionsit governments.  Today more than yesterday looks toward a brighter, saner future.  Either that or I finally lost it and am a hopeless optimist even when I myself is not up to par.

The Story of the GNU

Last Thursday I received a package from the Free Software Foundation (FSF).  Along with a nifty t-shirt, I ordered my stuffed gnu.  Now the penguin on my desk has a new friend. The reason for the penguin is obvious, I am big fan of the GNU/Linux operating system. The penguin is the de facto logo and mascot of Linux.  But what is up with the gnu?

Well before Linux got off the ground or even existed, Richard Stallman (RMS) started the GNU project.  GNU stands for GNU is Not UNIX. Yes, GNU is a recursive acronym, one of the many cute jokes circulating in the hacker community.  The goal of the GNU project was to build a working and totally free (as in freedom) operating system.  RMS settled upon porting UNIX, not because UNIX was the be-all-end-all of operating systems.  Rather older versions of UNIX came with source code, and so that the new OS could be based off studying the way the old System V UNIXes  worked.  The project progressed well with the development of an entire toolkit: source editor (EMACS), compiler (gcc), linker (ld), and all the other necessary tools to build an OS.  Then came the difficult part of writing a kernel.  Unfortunately the original kernel (GNU Hurd) never got off the ground.  In fact to this day, the Hurd kernel is more or less in delayed development.  Fortunately at the time a kid in Finland-Linus Torvalds-started hacking on a kernel based off the Andrew Tannebaum’s MINIX source code.  Torvalds decided that the GPL would be an excellent license for his kernel.  And thus the dream of a fully viable free operating system started.

We have come a long way since those humble beginnings.  GNU/Linux looks like it will be the dominant OS of this century.  Also the ideals of free software are now fully realizable.  We still have a long way to go to running free software conveniently and comfortably, but we are getting there.  We should thank RMS and all the GNU contributers for building such a great free software toolkit.  Also thank Linus and the other kernel hackers for creating such a robust and flexible kernel.  Finally give a big thank you to all the contributers of the free software and open source movements for making this dream of free computing a reality.

RMS Does Toronto

Richard Stallman, President and Founder of the FSF

Richard Stallman, President and Founder of the FSF

Yesterday I got to finally meet Richard Stallman (RMS) in person.  And yes, he is a way cooler dude than many in the “open source” gang say he is.  The FSF announced a while back in a press release, that RMS would be speaking at UofT on the topic of copyrights in a networked world.

RMS lectured on the history, current politico-business problems with copyrights and some measures to fix them.  I personally found his points interesting, and I’m interested in trying out some of his ideas.  The brief period of exclusive commercialization and modification authorship rights versus long term exclusive publication rights for non-technical documentation is also pretty good.  Also he briefly touched upon the need for a micro-donation payment method.  Overall, a very interesting and engaging talk to a large student audience.

At the end of his presentation, he auctioned off a stuffed GNU and “Happy Hacking” t-shirt.  Eventually the proposed prices became too steep for even myself, so I this morning I went on down over to the GNU/FSF’s online store and bought both for myself.  Getting back to the evening, I also got RMS to autograph my copy of “Free Software, Free Society“.  I highly recommend reading that book.  Also RMS asked me personally to stop using the terms: open source and closed source.  Not only are those terms misleading but they totally ignore the important issue of user and developer freedoms.  So henceforth I’ll try to use the terms “libre software” or “free software” instead of “open source”.  And “proprietary” for “closed source”.  Also I got meet to Dave, one of the organizers of the event and DrProject developer.  And Aaron one of attendees.

A big thanks to RMS, the FSF and the students who organized this event.