open source

FOSDEM interview with LinuxBIOS founder Ronald G. Minnich

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A few interesting interviews with speakers at the upcoming FOSDEM 2007 have been published.

I especially recommend reading the interview with Ronald G. Minnich, the founder of the LinuxBIOS project.

Here are the questions he was asked:

  • What's your goal for your talk at FOSDEM?
  • We saw the mention on the LinuxBIOS website about one million devices shipped with LinuxBIOS. Could you tell us more about these devices?
  • What kind of support have you received from chipset and motherboard manufacturers so far?
  • Could LinuxBIOS theoretically replace all BIOSes, of are there certain limitations to be taken into account?
  • Could you tell us a bit more about the BIOS side of the OLPC laptop?
  • What exactly is the difference between "easy" hardware to write a BIOS for, and the "tough" hardware?
  • What are your thoughts on the Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI)?

Answers here ;-)

The Free Ryzom Campaign - A campaign to buy Ryzom and publish it under the GPL

Ryzom is a Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) developed by the French company Nevrax. It is based on the NeL game engine (also from Nevrax), which is GPL'd already.

As "due to market conditions and other unforseen cirucumstances, a request to begin bankruptcy proceedings has been filed at the commerce tribunal", the Free Ryzom Campaign has formed with the aim to buy the source code and game data and release it under the GPL:

Help us make Ryzom a Free MMORPG! Donate now to help us purchase the source code, artwork and other game data associated with Ryzom, so we can breathe new life into it as an open, democratically run player project.

They've even set up a Social Contract (modeled after the Debian Social Contract) which states among other things that "Ryzom and all materials produced by the Free Ryzom Project will become and remain 100% Free Software".

If you want to support the project, you can make a donation pledge (used to convince the official presiding over the liquidation process). No real donations are possible at the moment.

More info/material on the game:

I'm looking forward to the day where I can apt-get install ryzom and play a fully free MMORG...

[1] I recommend using the Mozilla/Firefox/Iceweasel VideoDownloader extension to download the videos and watch them with mplayer.

(via Karl-Tux-Stadt)

Unmaintained Free Software is no longer... um... unmaintained

Just when I was thinking that the Unmaintained Free Software wiki was finally dead, Joey Hess mentioned it in his blog (thanks!), which (it seems) has resulted in a few new contributors (thanks!).

In addition, I got motivated to work on it again; I had neglected the wiki for quite a while, partly because I was busy with tons of other projects (which I always am, so I guess that doesn't count), and partly also because it was a one-man project for a long time. Even after being mentioned on Slashdot, Newsforge and a bunch of other sites it never reached a state of halfway constant contributions from other people. But, it somehow survived while one or two similar projects I was aware of died away.

As it's the only project of its kind which exists at the moment (to the best of my knowledge) and I really think it's a worthwhile cause, I'll continue searching and adding more projects , in the hope that some interested programmers take over maintainance of one or the other... Any help and contributions are of course very welcome!

Joey: As for Xgalaga, it was not yet re-added after I switched from a custom-made CMS to a wiki, but it's there now. That'll hopefully increase it's chances to find a new maintainer ;)

Debian Lessons

I've stumbled over Lars Wirzenius' article Debian Lessons (Subtitle: Project management lessons from the Debian project) today. The article is from 2000 (updated 2004), but is still very, very relevant nowadays. Here's the table of contents (reading this alone would already help many projects out there, I think):

  • Make sure things scale up.
  • Make sure the foundation is good.
  • Document important things.
  • Automate repetitive tasks when possible.
  • Avoid single points of failure, especially for volunteers.
  • Do not worry about time tables; keep goals realistic.
  • Make it easy to work independently.
  • Do not overload developers.
  • Be open and keep things public.
  • Make it easy to contribute.
  • Some barrier to entry may be necessary for quality and security.
  • Have leadership.
  • Conflicts are natural, but mustn't get out of hand.
  • Use a bug tracking system.
  • Real world politics matter.
  • Controversial issues will result in a flame war and often will never really end.
  • Compensation helps keep people motivated.
  • Never, ever, write a program to mail Debian developers automatically. Always make automatic mails opt-in.
  • Don't make assumptions about people's background.

Make sure to read the whole article. This compilation of tips should prove useful for many community-driven Free Software project out there.

SUSE/Novell plans to no longer distribute proprietary drivers

That's nice. Apparently SUSE/Novell are planning to no longer include any proprietary (kernel) drivers in their Linux distributions. (Most of) the kernel developers dislike binary drivers in the kernel and SUSE/Novell are clearly supporting the developers with their move.

Although they plan a system for including binary drivers from userspace somehow, I still think this is a good sign. I hope it will help to convince some hardware manufacturers to release the source code of some of their (now) proprietary drivers...

This whole debate was started by Arjan van de Ven's original post to the LKML in December 2005, AFAIK.

(via Heise)

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