Ethos of FOSS

The affable Jono Bacon has Asked us to note why we got involved in Free Software.

I think for me Free Software embodies the common sense of working for each other in a way where we are honestly aware of how much we really depend on each other’s work. In modern western life it’s too easy to believe that we are all alone and fighting for our little patch of the world.

At least with the work that I do, I serve computer users unwaveringly, sure I have fun, but I want to make a difference to the people that need to use computers in a way that doesn’t detract from their rights.

Part of my strong ethos has brought to me conclude that the part of the Free Software puzzle we do not yet culturally grasp is how non-involved users of Free Software can properly respect the developers they depend on for their software when they are not aware of how or why the software exists.

It’s just as import for users to respect developers as it is for developers to respect user’s needs. Perhaps why I try and focus on direct FOSS economics in an attempt to strengthen that bond.

5Pi-Con – Ubuntu MA+CT

This weekend we were attending PiCon once again, a wonderfully smaller SciFi and geeky event in the middle of CT near the MA border. I’d like to thank Jonathan Prigot and Penelopy (Pendulum) for personing our desk with me and proving excellent help and support to all that came seeking out Ubuntu.

Here are some Photos:

We didn’t have enough 10.04 disks so we were pushing to get rid of some 9.10s we had left over. Our LoCo isn’t official any more so I don’t know how easy it will be to get more. But it should be simple enough to sort out for our next event, esp since it’s an LTS.

Reaction was very positive, we had people we saw last time who wanted an upgrade, some people who wanted to try it out and lots of questions. The thing that is always interesting to me is how much more geeks need to be convinced of something before they’ll take the plunge. Interestingly I think this points to the responsibility we have in our authoritative positions as keepers of know-how on Ubuntu how e look to non-geeks who maybe trust what we say implicitly.

I guess that’s why we have Martin Guidelines which state to not over-play features and down-play gaps in functionality.

When to Have an Agenda

Recently I’ve found myself having to balance more precariously how I approach local community based activities. Say if I’m going to be teaching Free Software use, then should I be putting to one side my obvious and oblique “Ubuntu is easy” agenda and just go with what is already there?

Even if I know that other people are using events to promote other focuses of interest. If I think the event is worthwhile in it’s own right then I think I ort to be involved and help out where I can.

I know I’ve looked more like an Ubuntu only fan but personally it’s much more about getting the best and quickest Free Desktop in front of as many people as possible, whatever that turns out to be. Making sure that users have tools that work and are respectful of their rights as users under the Free Software definition. That is perhaps my agenda, perhaps trying to spread principles is part of it too?

So long as it’s an event to promote Free and Open Source, I can’t see a reason why I shouldn’t be involved if needed. Weather it’s Debian, Fedora or Firefox.


ClassBot gets Translations

All hail the awesome work of Nathan Handler (nhandler) who has spent quite a bit of time trying to get the classbot we all use in the classroom irc channels to be able to be translated.

The code is now finally packaged into a nice deb with a lovely pot file for launchpad translations.

Check it out here: ClassBot

Are You Offended?

Benjamin Humbphry’s posted a funny video of a stand up that complains about the state making laws about not offending people. Leading to no one able to say anything without the risk of offending someone. He wants everyone in the “open source” world to watch it.

This is probably in response to all the email Ben must be still getting about his rather more interesting post on OMG! Ubuntu last week. I say the following knowing that I have myself have a legion of offended people out there in the world:

Ah well, offending random people is ok I guess, better if you never have to talk to them again. But trying to work with people you’ve offended afterwards when your reputation isn’t so healthy is a bit hard.

One personally has to accept the consequences of our publishings. That someone is much less likely to listen to, respect or work with us than they would have been had we not said their mother was ugly. Most people will give us a chance to stop offending them, they give us warnings about how insensitive and inconsiderate what we said was, then it’s up to us to decide if we really care about them and their views.

It could be that our views are right and we’re right to try and debate about important issues of the day in public. But tactful use of language and considerate analogies can go an awful long way in not putting your audience in a mind to hate what we have to say. Even when something contradicts their world view.

An audience is like a set of open patchable brains. Best to use the patching program installed on their system and not try and force the incompatibly formatted one we have installed on ours.


Why do I care about Ben’s blog post? Well perhaps because I’ve been there myself, have the scars and the tattered reputations to prove it and I don’t want to seem like a heartless logician plugging away at my views. I’d rather communicate more considerately. Not something I’ve always been known for, but something I wish everyone to know is a personal goal.

I hope to persuade others to not follow the path unknowingly.