Archive for November, 2009|Monthly archive page

Open source is like cancer? Indeed, it is!

It seems that Microsoft is infested with a dangerous cancer; the cancer of open source. Just a few month ago they released the a part of the source code to their Hyper-V virtualiser. This came after allegations of GPL violations; apparently Microsoft used GPL code and was thus forced to free the source code to comply with the terms of the known Free Software License. Now the open source bug bit Microsoft again; a Windows tool, developed by a subcontractor, was using code licensed unter the GPL. Looks like someone thought he could go the easy way and just ‘borrow’ open sourced code.

Now I doubt that Microsoft (or anyone within Microsoft) deliberately used GPL code. Actually, I’m quite sure that they have strict rules against that kind of things. However, as Steve Balmer put it; open source is like cancer; it can appear any where, any time and there is no cure. Microsoft is heavily dependant on third-party developers. And would guess that not all of Microsoft’s suppliers have the same strict rules as Microsoft, so this kind of thing will probably happen more and more. Microsoft cannot audit all the code they receive from contractors, can they?

Now what are they going to do? Require their contractors to open source everything? Probably not, but we’ll see.

Futile attempts to crop freedom – why ACTA won’t work

The ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) is a secret, multi-national treaty to “to the increase in global trade of counterfeit goods and pirated copyright protected works.” In other words; it’s (amongst other things) another try to regulate Internet communication and stop so called ‘Intellectual property piracy’, e.g. unlicensed copying.

The first funny thing about ACTA is that our elected leaders are trying hide what they are doing. Now I might be wrong, but the first thing about democracy is transparency; if you don’t know who’s doing what, how else do you know whom to kick out of office? Fortunately, in Switzerland we have the possibility of a referendum, but still; what the fuck? Working in secrecy on international agreements and then trying to force it down our throats? Go die in pain.

The second funny thing about the ACTA is it’s futileness. Even if the big media corporations (who else do you think could have an interest in such an agreement) are successful in convincing our own governments to play kindergarden cop because they themselves are unable to cope with a changed environment, it will be a pyrrhic victory; the harder such laws are enforced, the stronger the opposing reaction. Governments forcing providers to cut off their own customers will just drive those customers into the Undernet. Anonymous encrypted peer-to-peer networks with network storage capability? Here we come. Trying to stop that will break the internet. And not even Big Media can afford that. Sure; bandwidth will be small, in the first few years. But hey; I remember a time of 5kB/s, I can cope with it again.

gnome-shell: first impressions

I’ve been trying out gnome-shell for the last week. My impression so far:

* As to be expected it feels very rough
* It needs more keyboard bindings (e.g. in the Activities tab)
* Why is the clock the only interface element in the middle of the top-bar? Put that space to use, for Darwin’s sake! What about putting the applications menu bar up there? 😀
* Unusable without proprietary drivers, at least on NVidia hardware. Didn’t try it on AMD or Intel hardware

Now, that all sounds terrible negative. But in the end I’m quite optimistic. By being willing to break with the traditional desktop paradigm, the gnome-shell people are able to experiment with a plethora of new ideas. Finally workspaces are being put to use as a central metaphor not only as an afterthought. I also think that by using workspaces, MDI applications finally could get useful. I’m also looking forward to the integration of application notification and communication (through telepathy). The design document was very promising, I wonder how it all works out.