Sharecroppers, nomads, and early open source

The responses to my previous post, on the myth of the fall, brought out a lot of half-forgotten lore about pre-open-source cultures of software sharing. Some of these remain historically interesting, but hackers talking about them display the same tendency to back-project present-day conditions I was talking about in that post. As an example, one… Continue reading Sharecroppers, nomads, and early open source

Dragging Emacs forward

This is a brief heads-up that the reason I’ve been blog silent lately is that I’m concentrating hard on a sprint with what I consider a large payoff: getting the Emacs project fully converted to git. In retrospect, choosing Bazaar as DVCS was a mistake that has presented unnecessary friction costs to a lot of… Continue reading Dragging Emacs forward

Victory is sweet

Ever since the open-source rebranding in 1998, I’ve been telling people that “open source” should not be capitalized because it’s an engineering term of art, and that we would have achieved victory when the superiority of (uncapitalized) open source seeped into popular culture as a taken-for-granted background assumption. There’s a thriller writer named Brad Thor… Continue reading Victory is sweet

Adobe in cloud-cuckoo land

Congratulations, Adobe, on your impending move from selling Photoshop and other boring old standalone applications that people only had to pay for once to a ‘Creative Cloud’ subscription service that will charge users by the month and hold their critical data hostage against those bills. This bold move to extract more revenue from customers in… Continue reading Adobe in cloud-cuckoo land

MIXAL is dead

I terminated one of my open-source projects today. MIXAL is dead; it has been replaced by the GNU MIX Development Kit, alias MDK. Open-source projects die so seldom that the circumstances deserve a minor note.

Is closed source worth it for performance?

The following question appeared in my mailbox today: If a certain program (that you need) was proprietary, and its open-source counterpart was (currently) 40% slower. Which would you use, the open-source one or the proprietary one? The answer is: it depends. I’m going to answer this one in public because it’s a useful exercise in… Continue reading Is closed source worth it for performance?

Coding Freedom: a review

My usual audience is well aware why I am qualified to review Gabriella Coleman’s book, Coding Freedom, but since I suspect this post might reach a bit beyond my usual audience I will restate the obvious. I have been operating as the hacker culture’s resident ethnographer since around 1990, consciously applying the techniques of anthropological… Continue reading Coding Freedom: a review

CC-NC considered harmful

I just left the followiing comment on a Creatice Commons blog thread debating the NonCommercial and NoDerivatives options:

The Smartphone Wars: The Limits of Lawfare

It’s beginning to look like Apple’s legal offensive against Android might backfire on it big-time. Comes the news that Judge Koh has declined to suppress evidence that Apple may have copied crucial elements of the iPad design from prototypes developed by Knight-Ridder and the University of Missouri in the mid-1990s.

Cisco provides a lesson

In my last blog post, I made a public stink about language in a so-called Declaration of Internet Freedom, which turned out to be some libertarians attempting to expand and develop the ideas in this Declaration of Internet Freedom. Mostly they did pretty well, except for one sentence they got completely wrong: “Open systems and… Continue reading Cisco provides a lesson

Why I won’t be signing the “Declaration of Internet Freedom” as it is

There’s been some buzz in the last few days about the Declaration of Internet Freedom penned by some prominent libertarians. I wish I could sign on to this document. Actually, considering who appears on the list of signatories, I consider the fact that the composers didn’t involve me in drafting it to be a surprising… Continue reading Why I won’t be signing the “Declaration of Internet Freedom” as it is