free software

LinuxBIOS Symposium 2006 Europe [Update]

For everybody who might be interested in this kind of stuff: the LinuxBIOS project's annual LinuxBIOS Symposium will take place October 1st-3rd, 2006 in the nice German city Hamburg.

In the light of the recent discussions about "sourceless firmware" and similar issues in Debian, some people might be interesting in helping with (or at least getting informed about) a practical project related to this - a free (GPL'd) BIOS replacement. It's quite likely that some OLPC people will be there, too, as the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) project employs LinuxBIOS on their hardware...

Deadline for workshop and talk proposals is September 10th (if you should plan to give a talk), and a preliminary agenda is already available online. The registration process has also recently started (deadline is September 11th). See this post for the full announcement.

Now, if I manage to somehow gather a reasonably large amount of Euros, I'll probably be there.

Update 2006-09-11: I have decided to register for the conference, so I'll be there! Anyone else?

FSF/UNESCO Free Software Directory

It's strange that the FSF/UNESCO Free Software Directory project has managed to remain hidden from my eye until today...

The Free Software Directory is a project of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). We catalog useful free software that runs under free operating systems — particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants.

The main difference to similar software directories (Freshmeat, SourceForge, ...) is that "licenses are verified for each and every program listed in this directory", which is a good thing.

If you've got too much time on your hands, here's an idea how to get rid of it and at the same time help the Free Software community...

OSI Fights Free Software License Proliferation

OSI's License Proliferation Committee has published a first draft report which categorizes Free Software (or Open Source, if you want) licenses.

The categories are

  • Licenses that are popular and widely used or with strong communities: GPL, LGPL, BSD, MPL, MIT license, Apache license, Common Development and Distribution License, Common Public License, and Eclipse Public License. I'd really urge anyone who has to decide on a license to choose one of these (preferrably one of the first three, IMHO)!
  • Special purpose licenses
  • Licenses that are redundant with more popular licenses. Don't use one of these, choose one from the first category!
  • Non-reusable licenses
  • Other/Miscellaneous licenses
  • Superseded licenses
  • Licenses that have been voluntarily retired

The charter of the committee states "[t]he purpose of the Committee is to identify and lessen or remove issues caused by license proliferation", which is a good thing, IMHO. I'm fed up with the recent trend that every company or organization invents their own "open source" license (often I would not even consider such licenses remotely open of free, but that's another issue).

In total, the report categorizes 59 licenses into the above categories. I'm sure most people would agree that such a huge amount of licenses is totally useless and only creates confusion and problems. Please, if you have to decide on a Free Software license one of these days, choose a major, well-known one. Or even better, if you currently use a non-standard license in one of your projects, please consider switching to a more streamline license which fits your needs. Thanks!

(via Heise)

Free Software News and Advancements

No, I'm not dead, just very very busy...

There have been quite a few interesting new Free Software projects and news popping up recently (or I only recently noticed them):

Free Software package with the most unusual/noteworthy/funny/stupid name

I cannot decide which of the above applies, but the winner is definately PlanetPlanetPlanetPlanetPlanet. I swear I looked twice at my calendar to check it's not April 1st today...

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