Monthly Archives: December 2006

The distributed Web (or web3.0 ?)

If  one watches how things develop in the web sphere one can now see that the web in general is lacking one feature that right now is most exciting in the software world. This is actually woking distribution. The web today has some major problems

  • Most of the content is not free, so distribution is not free
  • The upcoming of DRM makes things just more complicated
  • There are no good ways to distribute content
  • There is no versioning content accross websites.

On the other hand the web faces major tasks:

  • A growing number of users makes it more and more important that every website is able to cope with a slashdot effect.
  • Content gets more and more mixed up as it is a promising possibility to reduce costs and also promises to be more flexible in the future.

There are some software projects like Mercurial and rPath  that build heavily on a distributed system. This enables a maximum of flexibility ans also a very easy way to integrate content and patches.

But as far as I can see the mist you can expect from a web server is that it does versioning itself – or that you may be able to build a network of webservers that you own to distribute requests. But these are all solutions of control. at best that works with Web 2.0. Right now we have big companies like Google, Amazon and Ebay that own content and technology – and we are getting more and more dependent on these companies. For new companies it would be more and more important to be able to give users the same ease of integration and a trust level without these dependencies on very few companies. The users also would be happy if they had more choices. I hope that we will see a major revolution of how the web is built and uses, soon. If not I fear if one or two of those big names do something wrong the effects will be disastrous (millions of shop owners will loose their ecomic base and major functions that everybody is relying on will not work).

The truth is that the greates  danger is always there of only few have control over many. The web was not ment to be dependent on only few. What we have now is the result of o nly few companies being smart enough to deliver (web2.0) to the users. Our task now is to build the next generation web that gives us all more freedom and independence.

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Free Software Magazine

Did I mention already that I really like the “Free Software Magazine“? Well, I do. Not 100% of the articles are good but very much of them are really good and offer perspectives you read nowhere else and are truely original.

I also like their Drupal site which works quite well.

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OpenSuse 10.2 Install

I have just installed the basis of OpenSuse 10.2 on a Lenovo Desktop PC for a customer. Some criticism:

  • OpenSuse states to serve the newest GNOME 2.12 (while it really GNOME 2.16)
  • At first it offered me to resize the WindowsXP partition that was preinstalled, but it could not resize NTFS! Also I think the user will not really recognize what will be done. Personally I prefer the deletion of everything as the default. I think traditionally Linux was the “second OS” on a PC. i think it is much better to install one OS on one desktop and not mess with resizing NTFS. I can understand the intentions: Don’t delete what people might miss – but Windows does not care either. Dual-Boot always makes things more complicated and i do not do this any more for my customers.
  • At the german install notes one is led to the english wiki – shouldn’t people start on a german welcome page first?
  • There is no traditional GNOME application menu – only a favourites menu and some other shortcuts. This may make sense but it makes finding many different applications a really difficult task.

Let’s see how it behaves. You get Firefox 2. I have chosen OpenSuse instead of Fedora, because Fedora is no more a good choice as they make weird decisions in their community and my influence for myself and my customers is shrinking. That makes it unlikely to have some problems solved that may come up. So I hope OpenSuse is better at this. As it is also traditionally VERY strong in Germany it might also be easier to get answers to common questions. Currently I am only evaluating rPath/Foresight and wait for the first non-development release before I recommend it to my customers. So right now OpenSuse is THE commercial choice. Why not “Novell Linux”? Because my customers did use newer versions of OpenOffice.org on FC6 – and I fear that going back to stable Novell Linux version of Openoffice.org (1.9beta) would be a bad idea . Because of Open document Format and such things. Also Novell itself should be critiszed for the Microsoft deal and I think that with OpenSuse we are mor independent while also having some benefits of some of the good works that are done at Novell.

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2006 wrapup

I’d like to make a little more private entry at the end of this year:

Interesting year, started my new company for wiki hosting, got some intersting requests, got more involved in the MoinMoin community. GNOME International was partly interesting experience as things are getting more exciting there, GNOME Germany was more of a disappoitment, because most of the time I was not able to do, what I had planned and in the end I realised that my goals and the goals of the majority of the active members are too far away, so I pulled out of this involvment. I think I am cleaning up many things since November which I never did so much in recent years.

Unfortunately I had some big private disappointments the last weeks, which I am not going to discuss openly – just for the records if some people might think I acted weird some times that might be true, because I had trouble to sort my thoughts. I threw away a lot of material stuff, which I had kept for years or even decades. If you do not use things für 15 years maybe throw it away? This can also be a big relieve and open yourself for some new things – new people – new attitude. I don’t think that new is always better, but often old relations and stuff has nothing more todo with your life and you just keep them and it because of your own little insecurities.

So my plans for next year: Engage in projects that you like, meet people that you feel comfortable with and als buy only those stuff (furniture, clothes,…) you also feel comfortable with. Nobody can protect himself from negative experiences, they are part of life – but to stick to negative objects and relations is a silly thing to do.

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First experiences with Foresight

Today I have installed Foresight Linux, which is based on rPath Linux. I have not seen much, yet. But sound works, there are no crashes and it is much faster. The community seems to me much more open and looking for developers and users instead of ambassadors. What does not work is the ndiswrapper driver. Have to look into this issue.

So far most things went smoothly. Also I could set the laptops resolution without having to edit the modelines. It also has Firefox on board. The overall feeling is more responsiveness of the GNOME desktop.

Why did I choose this? Well, because I like to work with software appliances in the near future and I also liked the idea of distributed package management. I think most distributions have a very conservative structure and try to establish a control system that in the end reflects in poor software handling.

Maybe what also make Foresight an attractive distribution is because it is a much smaller community and no big vendors behind it – also no tradition – so very open for new ideas. Every distribution has to built its own culture of sharing and working together. And the developers and user look at it and decide each day if this is what they actually want. I like distributions that welcome you as a contributor if you want to share but also leave you alone if you want to do things differently. I don’t believe so much in ESTABLISHING a distribution but more in NURTURING the conmunity. Distributions are like alive animals. If you put them in jail, they can die and also do not behave naturally.

What is difficult is to preserve the positive culture if such a thing gets bigger. I think thats what often made old distributions boring or bueraucratic: They tried to organize and lost momentum.. they “tried to make sure” and lost culture. Sure if things get bigger you must adapt, but is is essential to try to preserve the core of the culture, the openness as good as possible.

So right now I am on the Foresight waggon and like to encourage others to join us. my desktop still is Fedora Core 6, because I am not able backup all private data now and do not want to buy yet another har disk. I also always like to have one stable system.

Oh one more: I now can finally print on my Fedora desktop via notebook! (ThinkPad T23). I never got his working under FC6! Isn’t that stupid that two Fedoras are talking to each other not as good as Foresight with Fedora? Strange, but my feeling is that a lot small issues are not getting fixed in Fedora because they are always at hard work to get the big issues solved and to get the new major releas out in time. Thats just my private impression – I dont know any statistics…

I am quite optimistic that I can handle many problems with Foresight, but I think I also gave up the idea to find the ONE last distribution that I use in my life. Progress is fast in Linux and so … it is more important to be able to move the own data – instead of trying to preserve a working environment for years. At least thats my priority now. On my notebook I onely had some copies of data, so I could qickly erase the old distro. Only thing I think it is bad is TomBoy, becauseyou can not backup these notes.

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YA Webmonday in Kiel

Yet another webmonday in Kiel today. The first in a series where we really started with talks about topics. The talks where not as dense as I hoped. But as this was our first real webmonday one should not take this too serious. It was interesting in many perspectives and sure I continue to go there. I like the idea of sharing knowledge.

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RPM restructuring

I’ve read about the new RPM developments. My thoughts on this:

  • Why on earth are distributions the core application unmaintained for years?
  • Ok they have a wiki now (good) but
    • it’s Moin version 1.3.4 (bad)
    • Only people in the EditGroup have write access (bad). This is the same stupid thing that went on with Fedora (again Red Hat involved). A wiki should be an open space – IRC and amiling lists are anyway – if some newcomers post stupid things – you can revert.
  • Again meritocracy – they invite people that have positions in different companies – no open space.
  • Open Publication License. not again (again Red hat involved, which just seems to LOVE this license, although almost nobody else does)

My suggestions (as I do not have write access):

  • Choose a new name. As it is not Red Hat only any more. This is the chance! You could have a link to rpm for compatibility. But a new name would make things much clearer.
  • Please open up more. It’s just unneccessary to act behind closed doors. This will only in effect give you less input than you could have eventually.

regards,

Thilo

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