NTPsec is preparing for a release, which brought a question to the forefront of my mind. Are tarballs obsolete?
High on my list of Things That Annoy Me When I Hack is sourcefiles that contain huge blobs of license text at the top. That is valuable territory which should be occupied by a header comment explaining the code, not a boatload of boilerplate that I’ve seen hundreds of times before. Hackers have a lot… Continue reading SPDX: boosting the signal
Finally. After ten months of work, it’s done. Emacs is fully converted to git. You can clone from git://git.sv.gnu.org/emacs.git and if you have commit rights you can push to it and the changes will stick. The bzr repo is still up but only as an archive.
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
I was a historian before I was an activist, and I’ve been reminded recently that a lot of younger hackers have a simplified and somewhat mythologized view of how our culture evolved, one which tends to back-project today’s conditions onto the past. In particular, many of us never knew – or are in the process… Continue reading The myth of the fall
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
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
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
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.
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?
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
I nearly issued a forking threat a few minutes ago. Only the second time I’ve felt a need to do that and the first was in 1993, so this is not something I do casually. And I drew back from the brink. But I may have to if the maintainer I’m dealing with doesn’t clean… Continue reading I hate having to be the heavy…
My last four days, at the Agile CultureCon split between Philadelphia and Boston, have thrown more new ideas and techniques at me than I’m used to encountering in a normal four months. Or more. It was very challenging and exciting, the more so because I was immersed in a culture at some distance from those… Continue reading Culture hacking, reloaded
I just left the followiing comment on a Creatice Commons blog thread debating the NonCommercial and NoDerivatives options:
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.
In “Who’s Afraid of Huawei?” you point out the need for the telecoms industry to adopt transparency guidelines to head off risks from kill switches, spyware, and back doors covertly installed in their equipment. One minimum necessary condition of such transparency is that all software and firmware in these devices must be open source, with… Continue reading An open letter to The Economist
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
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
Comes the news that Nvidia just lost an order for 10 million graphics cards to AMD because it wouldn’t open the source for its driver. At a very conservative estimate, that’s north of $250 million in business Nvidia just threw to a major competitor because it couldn’t get its head out of its rectum. Somebody’s… Continue reading The handwriting on the wall is Chinese
One of my commenters reports that he showed my essay on evaluating the harm from closed-source software to Richard Stallman, who became upset by it. It shouldn’t be news to RMS or anyone else that I think he’s a fanatic and this is a problem, but it seems that every few years I have to… Continue reading Why I think RMS is a fanatic, and why that matters.