Free Culture Poster: Review

My dearest community, please consider spending a minute of your time reading this early draft of a poster I am constructing. It’s target audience is the general masses attending libraries, colleges and other public places and it’s attempting to genteelly introduce people to Free Culture concepts.

I need to make sure my working is good as well as my spelling, the blue boxes are for images which I’m getting a fellow artist to sketch up and should go in there soon. Do let me know if you want the svg before it’s complete, once out of draft I’ll add it to spread-ubuntu in A3 and Ledger sizes. Thank you everyone!

Input: Debian Packaging Guide

I’m trying to find different debian packaging guides for some work I’m doing for two people. If you know of a good guide that is simple to use and contains both explanations and instructions, then I want to hear from you at the bottom of this page in the comments.

Hopefully this will also help others who read this and have been lookign for a good guide to building their own packages. My own knowledge obout debian packages is very limited in that I can make them, but I don’t quite know why they work.

Ubuntu and the FSF Ideal

Efrain of Ubuntu-ve posted A question to the loco contacts mailing list about their relationship with the FSF people in Venezuela.

Ubuntu-MA is home of the Free Software Foundation’s HQ and we get on fairly well with the FSF on a personal level. Though they have levelled criticism at us about Ubuntu containing non-free, I have in tern criticised the FSF in Boston of taking no positive action in the local community, they are far too concerned with gradios world politics to get down and dirty with installing and supporting Free Desktop machines and perhaps learn some of the reasons for being a little bit practical.

It’s an interesting relationship, but I think we all understand where each of us is coming from. The FSF seeks to be a defining entity that stands for a very precise ideal and raising awareness of that ideal through appealing to people’s politics. Ubuntu seeks to increase awareness and use of Free Software by providing products that work. So long as we in Ubuntu never forget to mention the ideals, philosophies and principles of the Free and Open Source ethos that gives us the great fortune of being able to make computers work better, then I think we have no real conflict.

Consider this flyer. An entire 1/6th of the flyer is dedicated to explaining FOSS in a friendly way and it’s certainly not trying to make light of the importance of freedom. This weekend I think people appreciated a helping hand explaining what it all means in clearer language as well as lots of practical tips.

But would the FSF appreciate that balance? Depends on the person from the FSF I think.

Your Thoughts?

Ubuntu Manual – Time for Testing

According to OMG! Ubuntu the Ubuntu Manual project is looking for testers, people who can read the manual and find errors.

They’re going to freeze it at the end of the month so the community needs to get cracking in making sure it’s all good to go, I think everything should be able to give one chapter a brief read over and to report problems.

Report Problems here

Learning Group

We had a great meeting today to discuss the way forward for the Ubuntu Learning Project and we manage to reconcile a number of directions by making the generic and vague learning group into an umbrella social group for a number of different, but still heavily interacting, projects.

After the agreement to split up and autonomise the leadership of each project, we’d been working hard at changing all the wiki pages and launchpad pages to reflect this new organisation.

So what does this mean for course writing? Well course writing is now it’s own project, the “Ubuntu Learning Materials” project, which has a singular focus ont he construction on course material for teaching Ubuntu and related subjects. It’s not that concerned with how to publish the works, and will make do with published sets of pdf files and loose repositories. The development though will be very strong, with strict licenses for collaboration and a strong use of existing development tools to make sure writers are able to peer review, edit and writer without having their work lost in some custom media management site.

The other two projects under the umbrella is the Ubuntu Educators, who’s focus is on traditional education establishments and providing Ubuntu materials to them in a format they can consume (i.e. moodle). And the Ubuntu Learning/Classrooms project which is focused on taking materials and publishing and hosting classes for community consumption. Very much like what happens with developer/user weeks.

These separations should allow each project’s leadership to make good choices for the direction and goals of the project without having to be constantly tripping up over other considerations. The umbrella group though is still an important way to have all educational projects within Ubuntu talk to each other.


Ubuntu Learning: Where Are We?

The Ubuntu Learning project has been quietly working away for the past six months, most of what we’ve been working on has been the technology to invite new contributors into the mix and get materials published, the plan for what we’re going to write and how to focus in on just a handful of topics so we can really get down to writing.

So you’ve probably read about the technology, GroundControl is a learning project tech. It’s built to allow writers to contribute their knowledge with minimum of fuss. The GroundControl project is suffering a little bit of a delay from changes in launchpad, but a lot of this is because the technology was before it’s time and launchpad and the ubuntu desktop need to be made more talkative before GroundControl and many other launchpad apps will really work nicely with launchpad.

The creation of the build functionality is all there, you just write a bunch of text files and hit go and it compiles your course into a nice book, with side book for lesson plan. There is more work that could be done on the GUI for hitting go, but that’s a nice to have.

The moodle website is pretty much functionally done and we can add classes when ever we like. There is a major need for a theme to be developed, something cleaner than the standard moodle installed theme with our own branding etc. But that’s on our todo list.

I’ve set up a physical systems administration class again for April onwards, this means I’ve taken control of the systems administration course and will be developing it further as the class proceeds. Nigel is still progressing with the teaching track and Elizabeth is collecting information on the Desktop track, hopefully there is plenty of room for collaboration with the Ubuntu Manual project there.

We’ve got a team meeting coming up on Monday 15th 23:00 UTC and we’re a year into our project here so we’ve going to be looking at a way to organise ourselves better. This might include some leadership reorganisation and it’s probably going to involve discussion in how we can get more people involved.

If you feel like learning materials and teaching FOSS topics is very important to the progress to world domination as we do; then please do join us at our meeting and tell us how you think learning materials should be produced and published. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone there.

Boston: Spring Systems Administration Classes

This is to let you all know that starting on the 31st of March a Systems Administration course is being taught in Boston, it’s aimed at getting casual technical people more able to deeply understand the technologies and how to deploy them successfully. Please email me if your interested in attending. These are the details:

Start Date: March 31st 2010
Reoccurs: Every Wednesday there after
Location: South End Tech Center, 359 Columbus Ave, Boston
Time: 6:00pm – 8:30pm

* Introduction, classes, foss, preparations and background.
* Computer Hardware
* Command Line Basics
* Networking Basics
* Server Services
* Network Infrastructure
* Remote Access
* Users and Groups

I’m aiming to post here to my blog the revised classes that I create, hopefully in the learning project’s ascii doc format.

Learn in Fractal

If you’ve ever been involved with teaching then you’ll know that you teach the small stuff first, little lies, small over simplifications that get the students off in the right direction. Sometimes this is characterised as getting students on the first rung of the ladder of learning.

Then there is the fear that our modern world is too complex, it’s pushing our children to think, process and work out their mental faculties more and more. Some say you can see the result of this in the ever upwardly reassessed median IQ. Others say you can see it in the stress levels, the increase in trivialities and the reduction of curious pursuits.

But what I see is something different. There are and always will be a range of people with a range of mental facilities and abilities, that not everyone understands computers doesn’t mean that everyone is expected to grapple everything. We worry about the lowest common denominator focus of society, but the common don’t.

When you see the world looking a little simple, basic, too well understood, not progressive enough, I recommend looking a little deeper because it’s fractals all the way down. You used to learn how to farm wheat, now you learn how to drive a tractor, one day you’ll learn how to press a tractor robot activation button, but there will always be more to it and deeper understandings to have for those that seek them.

Don’t refrain from making things simple, the simpler they are the more you can zoom in to greater complexities. The simpler the big stuff is the more you can get on with making progress.

Don’t worry about the apparent deficit of mental alacrity in the general population, it’s always been like that, if anything things are getting slightly better though the shaping and presentation of learning to even the unenthusiastic student. Some are saying that we shouldn’t teach children facts and figures, who cares who the third US president was (Tom) as soon we’ll all have mobile computers with permanent access to wikipedia where all our fixed knowledge can be stored.

Is that progress? do facts help us think up new idea, or do ideas and concepts only matter? Do we need new narratives and tales to pass on these concepts to our children?

Your cognations?