31 July, 2011

Harmony horrors

Besides the positive things, there's some less nice stuff to talk about.

On the other side of the web, I kept discussing Harmony with Allison (Canonical) until I asked something and got no response anymore.

Bringing up arguments like "it provides more clarity to contributors, a 'check point' to look at the legal situation and reassurance of legal status to users" or the already-debunked "but it is helps protect the copyrights and handling of disappearing contributors" doesn't convince me that contributors should sign away their code while running the risk TO GET SUED BY THE COMPANY THEY JUST GAVE THEIR CODE TO FOR WRITING IT IN THE FIRST PLACE. Seriously, that's a risk, read Michael's post.

The whole problem with CLA's and the like is and remains that you give but don't get even the least of protection or right. All risk remains with you - if you overlooked any patents on the code you just signed away to the company, they can sue you, or let others do so. And you can infringe on patents of the code you yourself just wrote. And in case you're defending yourself in court, they can sell your patents you need to defend yourself to the company attacking you (or they already might have, years ago). So they get to monetize your contribution any way they see fit, including selling it to the highest bidder, patenting it and suing anyone who writes something similar. You get - well, what do you mean, you want something?
You got to write code for them, didn't you? For free! You should be happy you got to contribute to such a great company! Now get out of the way or we sue you!

Honestly, I wasn't enthusiastic about Harmony but as I'm no lawyer and not really capable of reading the legal speak of the (hard to get to) licenses I didn't know it was that bad. Ok, it's a 1.0 release, signing it might burn your house or let anyone sue you. I'd say a warning on the site might be in place...

Read Michael Meeks' interesting insights. Little to say after that, imho. The pro arguments are not convincing at all, the con's are big. I'd recommend to never sign a CLA or work for any company requiring you to do so - unless they pay you of course. After all, that's the whole point:
If a company wants ownership to your code, they should pay you!

30 July, 2011

KDE release on Radio Antwerp

As usual lots going on. I haven't mentioned it anywhere yet, so: congrats to all KDE peeps for the release of SC 4.7 ;-)

I presented the release on Radio Antwerp Centraal a few days ago. I had helped out a bit with the release announcement but hadn't had a recent look so I had to catch up to the major highlights quickly. Worked out great, though. Also discussed Tumbleweed and GNOME with the radio dude. Not sure what the initial plan was but I found myself talk for a full program in the end... Surprise, huh?

On the other side of the world I went to CLS last week. Still have to turn my notes into something readable - struggling with crappy sleep, family visits and other time-eating things. And the DS is upcoming... But I'll blog about this later, promise!

17 July, 2011

Harmony 1.0 is out

Well, well. Almost nobody noticed as they didn't make much noise about it, but Harmony 1.0 is out. I made my opinions quite clear in my blog and column about Harmony and said we'd have to judge once something came out. Well, let me just quote Richard Fontana from Red Hat, who's saying what I think (but more politely):
(...) I say to Mr. Shuttleworth, with all respect, that I cannot join him in any support of the Harmony initiative.

I surely don't support it anymore than he does and agree that as far as I can tell, Harmony has much more potential to do damage than good in the world of Free Software. But let's see how the discussion goes at the Desktop Summit Panel on Copyright Assignment, who knows, Mark might convince us...

Edit: read this blog by Bradley Kuhn if you want to know why Harmony is harmful... Long but good.

14 July, 2011

oSC2011 CfP & reg

Titles are supposed to be short, right?

The full text would of course be "openSUSE Conference 2011 Call for Papers and Registration" and yes, that's what it is about: on Monday we've extended the deadline for the CfP so you can still shoot in session proposals. And today the registration has opened so you can let us know you'll be there :D

Chat ... va pas trop mal aujourd'hui !

We want to let you all use this conference to get something done which is why we focus so much on interactive sessions. BoFs, workshops, hack sessions... Think about yourself! What do YOU want to accomplish? What does YOUR team need to talk about? What features should be finished? What decisions should be made? Use the conference for that!

Shoot in a proposal here!!!

And as I said, registration is open, register now!

BTW I just updated the links to openSUSE conference posters, there are two of them now. One by Robert Lihm with a big Qr code, the other, designed by two Greek Georges, is a bit more Green :D

12 July, 2011

Open Build Service and Renault

A while ago, Renault employee Xavier notified the OBS mailing list that Renault is using the Open Build Service internally for building packages.

Anyone up for asking Xavier a few questions and writing a nice article for news.o.o about this? It's easy as the mail already contains a lot of info, otherwise we can ask Xavier for some more input and I'll obviously help with the writing...

06 July, 2011

Getting the new MS fonts in LibreOffice - or rather, forget about it

Learning point of the day:
when on the website of a company with dubious business and legal practices READ the fine print...

I already wrote most of the following article (actually more, including making screen shots) before I did that.

But in the interest of not having wasted that time, let me explain how to get the new Microsoft Office fonts in LibreOffice (or the older OpenOffice) and why it is illegal to do so under non-Microsoft OS'es like most phone, tablet or Linux systems. Windows users can just install MS Powerpoint Viewer to get the fonts, see link below!

The Font Issue

If you get a document with fonts you don't have, the result can be bad. Layout will surely not be proper and for some reason LibreOffice and Calligra pick a horrible replacement on my computer - Alien Leage, see screen shot. Guaranteed to make any normal document unreadable. And the idiotic 'reading mode' of LO makes it impossible to change the font until you've saved the file somewhere. The benefit of that mode always escaped me in MS Office, at least I knew how to turn it off...


Anyway, enough ranting - a solution. If you don't have the new Microsoft fonts like the new Win7 fonts including the often-used Calibri, you can start to search the web for obscure download sites where, after you decided not to enjoy some online casino, enlarge a body part or clean your computer from viruses, you might find potential candidates in zip or rar form.

Luckily, there is a better way - get the stuff from the source. Install the free Microsoft PowerPoint viewer with Wine. Serious! You can get it here. The second image in this blog shows the three major steps you have to go through to install this using PlayOnLinux (plain wine might not work but this does). In the end it shows a selection dialog which you have to point to the executable and the font files would obviously end up in C:\Windows\fonts of the PlayOnLinux map (~/.PlayOnLinux/).

To install them, navigate your file browser to ~/.PlayOnLinux/wine/C/Windows/Fonts, right click the font and choose under 'actions' for 'install'. If your file browser isn't decent enough to help you with this, find a font manager with "alt-F2" "font" in a Plasma Desktop or "win key" and "font" in a GNOME Shell.

A different way to get to the font files is to use cabextract. Download the PowerPoint file to a folder, open a console & go to the folder, and use cabextract (twice):
cabextract PowerPointViewer.exe
cabextract ppviewer.cab

Then install the fonts via file manager or font manager.

Obviously, Windows users install the PowerPoint viewer and it will install the fonts automatically, or they similarly extract them from the installer.

The snag

I would recommend to do this, if I had not discovered the following section on the download page of the PowerPoint Viewer site:
You may use the fonts that accompany the PowerPoint Viewer only to display and print content from a device running a Microsoft Windows operating system.
What a ridiculous limitation... In other words, people send us documents written in the default font of their OS but it's illegal for users of other systems to view them properly. I call it abuse of market power and it makes me feel how I imagine Thom felt when he wrote about Microsoft's extortion against Android makers. If you can't win by creating a better product...

And of course I only discovered this AFTER doing it (works fine) and writing this article.


I'm happy to be active in the world of Free Software, openSUSE and KDE. We invite our 'competitors' to our conference or simply share it with them! We're not afraid as we believe in ourselves. Looks like Redmond lost confidence in their own products long ago...

04 July, 2011

oS strategy

The voting for the oS strategy ended on the 30th but the board decided to extend it a bit. Which makes sense, quite a few members were not aware of the voting. Seems like many of them don't read the planet very often ;-)

So, we will extend it with two weeks & send out a mail to all members notifying them of the voting...

Obviously, you don't have to wait for that mail - if you read this you can also
go here, log in and vote!

From the email:

What do I vote for?

We realize the vast majority of you simply prefer to focus on writing code and building packages. 'strategy' might not be the most interesting thing in the world. However, it does influence at the very least how we communicate about ourselves and how we are seen. Think about texts on our websites, what our ambassadors say about us at conferences. This is an important goal of the strategy - not only decide upon the direction we want (after all, the current document simply describes the status quo) but also define our communication!

Obviously there are many more reasons why we did the strategy discussion - after all, many people asked for it, not just marketing. But communication is an important part of it... And:

We need to know if the end result of the discussions about strategy reflect how you see openSUSE. Even if you disagree, it is important for us to know that - we accept any outcome!

In short, please vote, even if you want to neither answer yes or no - there is a third option ("Abstain, I can't decide").

Note that the document isn't meant to be final and should be revised in the future. That's also why we're still very much open to feedback!

02 July, 2011

Was it useful?

For the openSUSE conference, a number of people has worked hard to provide tips and information on giving talks, organizing BoF's, setting up a Workshop or managing a Hacksession.

We developed a few resources:

We spend quite some time on it, but now I wonder: who has seen this? Who has actually read it? Who has USED it for anything? Below a nice (javascript...) survey which might help me answer that question :D

Free Web Poll