Linux and Open Source

About Linux and Open Source

This is important: The New Zealand Copyright Amendments due to come into law very shortly. These should be scaring any and all Internet users in NZ.. hands down.

At the recent Software Freedom Day Barcamp and then the New Zealand Open Source Awards the issue of NZ's participation in ACTA, as well as the revisions to Copyright law, were mentioned. It also came up during the ICT Ministers debate. Enough attention was drawn, that Hon David Cunliffe, Minister for ICT, volunteered to set up a meeting with interested parties and the relevant minister, to discuss.

Colin Jackson blogged post his attendance at said meeting, as NZOSS's representative. There is also Colin's slot on National Radio (with Kim Hill) where he was able to make his views known. (Audio (.ogg) and Transcript available). Don Christie then documented the situation on the NZOSS Site.

In short:
- If you are accused 3 times of copyright infringement, your ISP will be obligated by LAW to cut you off.
- That's an accusation. No proof required.
- The scope of this really needs some thought for a minute.

So yes, as previously reported, Software Freedom Day was held on Saturday.
I attended the Wellington event which was a combination Barcamp, Hackfest and Installfest.

My Gallery contains some pics but here's a breakdown of my experiences:

The Gnu comes out to play!

Software Freedom Day is coming up this Saturday.

It's a worldwide celebration of Free and Open Source Software (aka FOSS or F/OSS).

I'll be at the Wellington Convention Centre this Saturday along with other Wellington based participants. There's events being run in different locations around the country.... and around the world.

If you havn't fully grasped what F/OSS gives us - maybe you should swing by and check it out? It's free, after all...

During an upgrade on my Xubuntu box (or one of them) a few months back I noticed that my xfce4 menus had gone all weird - the defaults had gone, an xfce4 'default' *(but yet not)* had replaced it. Weird things like everything including the 'door' icon was aligned left, the shortcuts to firefox etc had been replaced with shortcuts that went nowhere, etc etc.

Finally figured out what was going on today - or at least, verified it was just my user affected. - and found a fix. Thanks to UbuntuForums again.

Having booted my Ubuntu box to use it today having left it idle for a few months, I noted it'd forgotton its display settings and wouldnt go above 800x600.

I had to follow the Intel instructions here to adjust it's screen driver to "intel" (i810 example, i actually have an i815 in the machine in quesiton).

At least it was straightforward enough to identify...

I've been trying to get Finch working on one of my boxes, which I want to use remotely from a secure shell.
Thus, no Gui requirement.
(For the uninitiated, Finch is the commandline version of Pidgin, an Open-Source multi-IM client that can replace MSN, ICQ, etc etc.)

After a bit of searching I found a useful article on how to do it though the article dates back a few versions.

So here's a quick note on what I did.

Firstly grab the latest pidgin source file from Pidgin.IM.

You need bzip2 to uncompress the file using tar -xvjf filename.

Move into the directory created... theoretically the next command you need to run will be ./configure but there's more to it than that, thanks to dependencies. As a CLI only tool that I want to use for ICQ, MSN, Jabber (XMPP) protocols I elected to do the following:

apt-get install gettext libxml-parser-perl libxml2 libxml2-dev gnutls-bin gnutls-dev

./configure --disable-gtkui --disable-gstreamer --disable-meanwhile --disable-avahi --disable-dbus --disable-perl --disable-tcl

The above meeting what I took to be minimum dependencies, and at the same time eliminating some by not installing features I don't intend to use. Note by disabling perl and tcl it's going to be quite hard to add scripted features to it later... should I decide I want them i'll install them later and recompile.

It works, anyway.

Not saying the above is gospel - but it works for me.

Don Christie Reports..

I really am proud to be a Kiwi sometimes. tells the story. Matthew Holloway is one of the guys who analysed the OOXML specification and offers a fairly accurate viewpoint - unless you listen to the pro-MS crowd, who think he's biased..

I think his quotes speak for themselves...

ISO/IEC lose all their credibility. From

Sums it up pretty good, I think. Simultaneously, the Washington Post run an article on possible AntiTrust issues to be looked at by the European Commission. Seems like a good idea to me.

... and after the farce which was Microsoft's attempts to get OOXML accepted as a standard by whatever means necessary, the initial results are somewhat concerning.

After Underhanded attempts to blacken the reputation of one of the Standards NZ Advisors on the subject, and it seems various other nations such as Norway (where a formal complaint has been lodged), Switzerland, Malaysia and others have also been targeted. Sweden's was found to be null and void, not because of 'incentives' offered to voters who supported OOXML, but another irregularity in their proceedure. (!) Reports of subversion are rampant.

Jeff Waugh - an Open Source evangalist from Australia who was here for the NZ Open Source Awards last year, has blogged on how Australia have FAIL'd to get it right - by abstaining from the vote. They have concerns, but wouldn't commit... that doesn't really help us except to just muddy the waters further.

Standards NZ have maintained a 'NO' vote for the ISO submission but others, despite lobbying, appear to be changing their minds.

For an accurate story I do strongly recommend this LinuxJournal Article which runs down the situation fairly nicely. It's a fairly disturbing read, as it lays out plainly what MS appear to be trying to do: Get a 6000 page, overly complex and technically questionable standard accepted by ISO, to become the only outfit capable of meeting the 'standard', and then be able to use it as a selling point.

I do concur, what they've done to date is make themselves look even worse. The outfits who let themselves be blinded by MS's recent 'open source endorsements' really need to look slightly closer, and realise how two-faced it really is.

Disturbing. One has to wonder if Microsoft will succeed in winning, or simply helping themselves lose. Official results are due out in a couple of days.

EDIT: The results are in. Well done to Microsoft for turning the ISO into a farce. (And the countries that voted YES are obviously not thinking straight.)

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