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Focus. B = 


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Free as in “free speech” A BRIEF LOOK AT XML DOCUMENT 
or free as in “free labour”? AUTHORING 


A PHILOSOPHICAL ENQUIRY INTO 


FREE CULTURE 
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The importance of LDAP 


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COVER BY USING AN ALTERNATIVE UNIX ON AN 


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Contents 


Issue 3, April 2005 





EDITORIAL 

Thank you! 7 
Thanks to all of the subscribers who are supporting our 
project 

STARTERS 


Book review: Knoppix Hacks by io 
Rankin 


by Jeremy Turner 


FOCUS 
Promoting free software on non-free 
platforms 10 


by Chris J. Karr 
Why developing free software for proprietary platforms 
benefits the free software community 


The risk of mixing free and non-free 15 
by Edward Macnaghten 

In a world where anything (even SCO...) is possible, 
we have to remember that risks are taken when free and 
non-free software are mixed 


When free meets proprietary 20 
by Daniel O. Escasa 
Three free applications on proprietary systems, three 


proprietary applications on free systems 


TECH WORLD 

XML: WYSIWYG to WYSIWYM 25 
by Saqib Ali 

A brief look at XML document authoring 


A laptop, a coffee, and disaster recov- 
ery 29 
by John Locke 

Why you should have an effective backup strategy 


The importance of LDAP 33 
by Tom Jackiewicz 
The past, present and future of a battered protocol 


Running BSD on PowerPC/PPC 37 


by Martin C Brown 
Using an alternative Unix on an alternative platform 





4 Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 


AU ша 42 
by Tom Chance 
Getting good press coverage 


pens Ce IS 47 
by Malcolm D. Spence 

How open source has changed and continues to change the 
IT market, and the behaviours of those who target it 


OTTWeE C 55 

by Christian Einfeldt 
The mouse that might roar 

‘free la >”? 59 
by David M. Berry 
A philosophical enquiry into free culture 

i и 0 [= 01 a е 63 
by Richard Stallman 
Selected entries from Бісһага”5 ( 


). 





ML A SINE 


BY SUBSCRIBING YOU WILL BE SUPPORTING A 
MAGAZINE WHICH BELIEVES IN FREE SOFTWARE. 
ALL OUR ARTICLES ARE RELEASED UNDER THE 
GNU FREE DOCUMENTATION LICENSE, 
ENHANCING EXISTING INFORMATION ON FREE 
SOFTWARE. 


SUBSCRIBE NOW! 
WWW.FREESOFTWAREMAGAZINE.COMJ/SUBSCRIBE 


Losing track of things? 


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EDITORIAL 





Thank you! 
Thanks to all of the subscribers who are supporting our project 


hank you! 
This “thank you" is dedicated to all of the subscribers who are now reading 
issue 3 of Free Software Magazine. You have decided that it was worthwhile 
paying money for Free Software Magazine and have placed your trust in our 
project. 
I appreciate your help, and I promise that we will do our very best to not disappoint. 
As you probably already know, each month FSM will cover a specific subject with 2 or 3 
"focus" articles. This month's focus is on mixing free software and proprietary systems. 
I think that Chris, Eddy and Daniel have done a terrific job dealing with this sometimes, 
controversial topic. I hope that their articles will help to clarify the issues surrounding 
this topic and help you to understand your choices. I'm sure that you'll enjoy reading 
their articles as much as I did. 
At the beginning of this project, more than four months ago, I was told by several people 
(some of them “experts’’) that it would be very hard to create a “proper magazine", rather 
than a rough collection of (hopefully well written) blogs. Some of these responses could 
have been classified as constructive criticism, while others didn't leave much space to 
hope. Well, I must say, they were right: creating a magazine is indeed a very hard task. 
Content is only one small part of the task. There's administration, subscriptions, compo- 
sition, graphic design, and printing to name a few; I confess that when an issue is posted 
to the subscribers, it feels a bit like we've performed a miracle. 
However, reading the articles published here in issue 3, and seeing the quality produced 
by our first-class authors, I can proudly say that, while it was hard, we have done it! Free 
Software Magazine is a collection of valuable articles, our publishing company is very 
well organised - even though it's spread across the globe - and things are happening; the 
miracle is occurring every month, thanks to your help and your trust. 
If you have any ideas, comments or complaints about this magazine, please don't hesitate 
to contact me. Free Software Magazine is your magazine, and I will answer your email 
as soon as I receive it. 
Again, thank you for making this project possible. 


(c) 2005 by Tony Mobily 
Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved. 


/ 7 





Free Software Magazine is a maga- 


zine by The Open Company Part- 
ners Inc, 90 Main St. Road Town, 
Tortola BVI 








Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 











г ышна! mw nouam cue 


& DEVICE www.ineedmydevice.com 


Remix Reading is an artistic project 
based in Reading, UK. Its aim is to get 
local artists to come together and share 
their work, be inspired by each others' 
work, and ultimately to create ‘remixes’, 
whether they be a music remix, a mash 
up, or simply something inspired by 
another work. 








Knoppix is a live-CD Linux distribution 
which comes with X Window and some of 
the most exciting and useful programs in 
the free software world ready for use. 

Like the famous Swiss Army Knife, 
"Knoppix Hacks" is an invaluable device. 
It has the best tips, tricks, and tools, along 
with information on other Knoppix-like 
systems. It contains common pitfalls and 
ways around them, most of which I had to discover by trial and er- 
ror. Knoppix has quirks like mounting hard drive partitions read- 
only by default, but Mr. Rankin not only provides warning, but 
also provides guidance on how to mount read-write. 











O'REILLY” Forward by өзе кеде on logge 





The contents 


“Knoppix Hacks” covers several areas, including: booting, using, 
and tweaking Knoppix, installing Linux, using Knoppix in real- 
world situations, repairing both Linux and Windows installations, 
Knoppix variants, and re-mastering your own Knoppix. Of the 
100 listed “hacks”, I consider 42 of them to be essential read- 
ing. These include using Knoppix to setup temporary Samba or 
Apache servers when the main server is unavailable, and other 
hacks like repairing (or repartitioning) Linux. The book also 
teaches how to edit the Windows registry from Knoppix. The re- 
maining hacks deal with using Knoppix: how to use cheat codes, 
connect to the internet, install applications, and create a persistent 
home directory. This information is necessary for understanding 
the later hacks: how to go wardriving, migrate to software RAID, 
and repair damaged file systems. I really enjoyed reading the con- 
tributed “hacks” about Knoppix-like systems Morphix, Gnoppix, 
and DamnSmallLinux. 

This link 
knoppixhks/) is the book's home page at O'Reilly. It contains 
PDFs of 5 hacks, along with the complete table of contents. 


(http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/ 


Who's this book for? 


I would recommend "Knoppix Hacks" to any Linux user. It will 
help newer Knoppix users avoid pitfalls. However, the more expe- 
rienced Linux users will find "Knoppix Hacks" to be a valuable 
addition to their tech toolbox, along with Knoppix itself. And 
when you come across someone who's never heard of Linux, this 
just might be the book and CD to introduce them with. 


Pros 


There were no major errors that I could find with the text. At one 
point, I did find that the author gave instructions for the user to 
unmount a mounted file system, and first change out of the direc- 
tory. The “са” command didn't change the prompt as expected to 
reflect that the user would now be in the /home/knoppix directory. 
If the user was still in the directory of a mounted file system, the 
file system could not be unmounted. Having to nitpick this closely 
shows how well this book was written. Mr. Rankin includes a few 
humorous comments along the way so that the reader isn't over- 
loaded or bored to tears. 


Like the famous Swiss Army Knife, 
"Knoppix Hacks" is an invaluable device. 
It has the best tips, tricks, and tools, 
along with information on other 
Knoppix-like systems 


In short 
Title Knoppix Hacks 
Author Kyle Rankin 
Publisher O'Reilly 
ISBN 0596007876 
Year 2004 
Pages 336 
CD included Yes 
Mark (out of 10) 9 
Copyright information 
(c) 2005 by Jeremy Turner 
This article is made available under the  "Attribution- 
NonCommercial-NoDerivs" Creative Commons License 


2.0 available from http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc- 
nd/2.0/. 





Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 9 





Jna recent discussion on the Slashdot web site 
(http://slashdot.org/), free software users 
and advocates raised the question of whether the 

| KDE project should be ported to the Microsoft Win- 
dows platform. Advocates for porting the KDE desktop en- 


vironment made the argument that porting KDE to Windows 
would enable a new population of users to experience the 
software and that this exposure would entice these new users 
to seek out and adopt free software for use in their daily 
computing lives. Opponents of porting KDE believe that 
since Microsoft controls the underlying platform, software 
like KDE will never be able to compete on a fair playing 
field and that the time and effort spent in porting the soft- 
ware would be wasted when the vendor eventually decided 
to exclude free software competitors. While some free soft- 
ware advocates are right to be concerned, current realities 
support the position that free software on non-free platforms 
should be promoted. 


Before becoming heavily involved in the dispute, one must 
pay attention to the motivations of those producing and us- 
ing free software. Some developers approach free software 
development from a point of view of promoting fundamen- 
tal rights. Richard Stallman, of the GNU Project, is the 


most well known member of this group, with his philoso- 
phies on software development and use. This group believes 
that there are fundamental rights that grant software users 
the freedom to modify the software they use to better serve 
their needs and that users should possess the freedoms to 
share and distribute these changes. Unrestricted access to 
source code is central to this philosophy and closed-source 
software with restrictions on copying and distribution is an 
anathema to those holding these views. Members of this 
group produce free software as a means to establishing al- 
ternatives to the non-free platforms and applications. 


In contrast to the ideologically-driven developers, another 
group produces free software for pragmatic reasons. These 
pragmatic developers are less interested in software politics 
and are more interested in using the free software develop- 
ment model and free software licenses to achieve a practi- 
cal goal of their own - such as selling services, using free 
software as a competitive tool in the marketplace, or sim- 
ply making the software available to the widest user base 
possible. Many adopt the free software development model 
in order to build a community and promote collaboration 
and they solicit contributions from the community to drive 
further development and maintain users' interest in the soft- 
ware. 


While there are other motives for developing free software, 
most can be divided into ideological and pragmatic groups. 
The people who primarily view free software as a philo- 
sophical movement are ideological participants, while those 
who release free software as a means to another end are 


10 Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 


FOCUS 





pragmatic participants. Despite these fundamental differ- 
ences, both camps benefit when free software is available 
on both free and non-free platforms. 


“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the 
good.” 


While pragmatic developers do not object to developing free 
software for non-free platforms, ideological developers of- 
ten do. Ideological participants have a strong interest in the 
creation of an environment with complete freedom, so that 
users can utilize free software in all facets of their comput- 
ing lives. To accomplish this goal, ideological participants 
believe that it is advantageous if the free platform grew 
and innovated independently of non-free platforms. In their 
view, it makes sense for the free software platform to evolve 
into a distinct environment that has its own advantages, not 
found in non-free platforms. Porting free software to non- 
free platforms minimizes the distinction between free and 
non-free platforms and the presence of free software func- 
tionality on non-free platforms provides less of an incentive 
for users to switch. 

By any reasonable measure, the ideological developers have 
already achieved a remarkable goal. Using a free Unix op- 
erating system with software such as OpenOffice.org, the 
Mozilla internet browsers, and free software media play- 
ers, an ideological user can go through their everyday tasks 
without using any non-free software. 

However, when interacting with non-ideological users, a 
pure free software platform is not always sufficient. Some 
web sites use non-free technologies such as Flash. Doc- 
ument exchange is troublesome as non-free office formats 
complicate interoperability with free software. New Dig- 
ital Rights Management (DRM) technologies exclude free 
media software. 

While ideological developers have succeeded in creating a 
pure free software platform, they now face a much more in- 
surmountable problem — motivating non-ideological users 
to exclusively adopt free software. While free software use 
has grown greatly in recent years, the market of non-free 
software and platforms still dwarfs that of free software. 
Ideological developers prefer a computing landscape where 
all layers of the computing platform are free, but they face 
an uphill battle in convincing non-ideological users to aban- 
don their non-free software. While ideological users were 


Fig. 1: Will the KOffice suite be a competitor to OpenOf- 
fice.org and Microsoft Office? 


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patient and contributed time and effort to help free software 
reach its current level of functionality, the non-ideological 
user values current availability and ease-of-use over philo- 
sophical purity. Furthermore, there are no free software ap- 
plications approaching the level of functionality and polish 
found in some popular non-free software (such as Quicken 
and Photoshop), and non-ideological users will not aban- 
don their non-free platforms while suitable free software re- 
placements are absent. 


While ideological developers have 
succeeded in creating a pure free 
software platform, they now face a much 
more insurmountable problem — 
motivating non-ideological users to 
exclusively adopt free software 


Thus ideological users are unable to convert the multitudes 
of non-free software users, but they benefit every time their 
non-ideological counterparts use free software. Each Win- 
dows or Mac OS X user that installs FireFox and browses 
the web using a free browser is one less user that web sites 
can target with non-free technologies such as ActiveX. 

A bank website can afford to ignore the one percent of 
their clients who are pure free software users, but they can- 
not afford to ignore twenty percent of their clients who 





Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 11 


FOCUS 





Fig. 2: Firefox is winning the hearts and minds of Mac and 
Windows users everywhere 


Mozilla Firefox 


т «Extras — Hife 
http: //sci.esa.int/science-e [voii [area index. cfm?fareaid =9 
“Ұ?Үзһоо 4% derStandard.at gl Notebook-Forum  зсолзес Resizer MP WES.0E _] SELFHTML 


_] Science & Technology: Mars Express 





SCIENCE OUTREACH 


ESA | HOME RESEARCH ADVANCED CONCEPTS DIRECTOR" 


Science & Technology 


ASTROPHYSICS FUNDAMENTAL PHYSICS 


MARS EXPRESS 


Make this your homepage 






are on non-free software platforms using free software web 
browsers. Ideological users benefit similarly when more 
users adopt free office suites instead of Microsoft Office. 
Proponents of pure free software stacks benefit from net- 
work effects each time a user of a non-free platform adopts 
a free replacement for a non-free application. 


In addition to their own personal use, ideological users fur- 
ther benefit from free software adoption when promoting 
and educating users about freedom and software. Trying 
to make a case that a Windows XP user should switch to a 
free browser is difficult if there is no way to easily demon- 
strate such a browser on a non-free platform. It is difficult to 
sell the idea that KDE is a wonderful desktop environment 
when the user is required to install Linux to try it out. In 
this situation, the availability of free software on non-free 
platforms serves as an advertisement that free software is of 
high quality and that it can replace non-free applications. 


Furthermore, as users adopt more free alternatives in place 
of non-free applications, the task of converting the user from 
a hybrid free and non-free platform to a pure free software 
platform becomes much simpler. Since the user is already 
familiar with applications, the switching costs and educa- 
tion required for the new free platform is greatly reduced. A 
user on Windows who primarily uses free software is easier 
to convert over to Linux, as it’s simply a matter of teaching 
the user how to use Linux instead of having to teach them to 
use an entirely new suite of software and Linux. While ap- 


plications exclusive to non-free platforms will prevent some 
users from being able to switch from a mixed system to a 
pure one, the adoption of high-quality free applications like 
Firefox and OpenOffice.org is shrinking that pool of users. 
As more free software replacements are made available to 
non-free users, the task of the free software advocate be- 
comes much easier when convincing users to switch. 
Finally, the idea that people willing and interested in writ- 
ing free software should be discouraged from writing code 
that runs on non-free platforms is hypocritical and troubling 
when it comes from ideological users. One of the core tenets 
of the free software movement is the idea that users are free 
to expand and share their applications. Whenever ideolog- 
ical users discourage developers from free development of 
any kind, it violates the core principle that developers pos- 
sess the freedom to develop as they feel is appropriate. Sim- 
ply put, an ideological user has no right to complain when 
another developer targets a non-free platform with a partic- 
ular application, when the ideological user is perfectly ca- 
pable of donating their time or other resources to achieve 
the same end on a free platform. Ideological users are not 
owed any consideration when such a generous gift is given 
freely. 


Making the most of non-free platforms 


For the pragmatic free software developer, developing for 
non-free platforms provides many advantages. In terms 
of software engineering, a diversity of supported platforms 
supports encourages developers to implement their applica- 
tions in more modular and portable ways. When working on 
non-free platforms, the pragmatic developer also has the op- 
portunity to interoperate and collaborate with best-of-breed 
commercial and free software applications. Developers can 
craft their applications to take advantage of features unique 
to non-free platforms, such as using media codecs and secu- 
rity features. Non-free platforms also provide a stable set of 
libraries and base applications that free software developers 
can depend upon - including XML parsers, secure internet 
libraries, and HTML rendering engines. Finally, develop- 
ers targeting non-free platforms can take advantage of these 
platforms’ users’ willingness to purchase software in order 
to fund the creation and further development of the free soft- 
ware. 


As a direct result of competitive markets, non-free platforms 





12 Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 


FOCUS 





Fig. 3: The free software VLC media player is a popular al- 
ternative to Quicktime and Windows Media players 


VLC - Controller 





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—_1 wu ƏС 





typically have larger libraries of high-quality end-user ap- 
plications than their free counterparts. This is not to dis- 
parage free software, but when software is purchased, there 
is a reasonable expectation that the purchase includes not 
only the basic functionality, but also things like documenta- 
tion, support, and polish. Furthermore, the market is much 
more favorable to applications that focus on usability and 
consistency, whereas free software typically focuses on the 
quantity of features. When developing for non-free plat- 
forms, free software developers can interact with non-free 
applications in a variety of ways. In Mac OS X, this can 
be accomplished via Services and AppleScript, while Win- 
dows employs a COM-based architecture. For example, an 
aspiring developer can create a media player that uses na- 
tive functionality (such as QuickTime or Windows Media) 
that allows the playback of more formats than similar appli- 
cations found on free software platforms. This is becoming 
increasingly important as content owners adopt DRM tech- 
nology. 


In addition to interoperating with non-free applications on 
non-free platforms, the platforms themselves offer unique 
features that developers may wish to use. For a developer 
wishing to create a free software Mac OS X application, 
the availability of the Cocoa framework provides the de- 
veloper a set of tools and programming interfaces that are 
more fully featured and easier to work with than compa- 
rable free software GUI toolkits. While similar frameworks 


such as GNUStep struggle to keep up, Cocoa developers can 
take advantage of KHTML-based web rendering and new 
search technologies in their applications with a few lines of 
Objective-C or Java code. 


Non-free platforms offer unique features 
that free software developers may wish 
to use 


Developing applications on non-free platforms also pro- 
vides developers a limited amount of freedom from “de- 
pendency hell". Free platforms are often designed to al- 
low users maximum flexibility to customize the system for 
uses ranging from slimmed-down routers and servers to full- 
featured desktop systems for daily use. In contrast, non-free 
platforms often include more functionality in the base in- 
stalls and while users complain about bloat, this “bloat” al- 
lows developers to provide more advanced applications that 
are easier to install and maintain. Developers can distribute 
packages and installation instructions that are simpler than 
the typical free software application with the standard list of 
packages and library dependencies. This is mainly true with 
basic functionality, although developers may find it neces- 
sary to specify or bundle dependent packages when dealing 
with new or advanced features not present on the non-free 
system. For example, while a free software package may 
require that a particular XML parsing library is present on 
free platforms, the same package may also be able to make 
use of the non-free systems’ own XML routines. 

In terms of software engineering, developing applications 
that function on both free and non-free software can im- 
prove the underlying structure of application by requiring 
a certain amount of abstraction from the underlying plat- 
form. When the platform-specific code is separated from 
the platform-nonspecific code, the program can be more 
easily ported to new platforms by simply implementing the 
platform-specific code. Furthermore, separating the code 
into modular components can improve debugging and op- 
timizations as the platform-specific code can be adapted to 
particular platforms’ strengths and quirks. This tendency to- 
ward modularity assists both pragmatic and ideological de- 
velopers, as the software can be adapted to new platforms 
as they emerge. 

Finally, from the point of view of funding the creation of 





Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 13 


FOCUS 





Fig. 4: The Cygwin environment provides a Unix-like environment on Microsoft Windows. 





free software, there are cultural advantages to developing 
free software that includes non-free platforms. Since users 
on non-free platforms are accustomed to purchasing soft- 
ware, free software developers can take advantage of this so- 
cial trait by selling easily installed versions of the software 
and materials such as documentation and manuals. Some 
free software developers have supplemented their income 
by making boxed versions of their software available to new 
users while allowing more advanced users to download the 
source online and compile the software locally. 


Conclusion 


Ideological and pragmatic developers approach the ques- 
tion of whether free software should be ported to non-free 
platforms differently. Ideological developers are generally 
against the idea for philosophical reasons. Pragmatic de- 
velopers are generally agnostic with respect to the question 
and are more open to developing for non-free platforms. 
Ideological users need to realize that the vision of a pure 
free software environment for all users will never become 
a reality while non-ideological users exist, because non- 
ideological users will not spend the time or energy to write 
or wait for free alternatives to all of their non-free applica- 
tions. 

However, despite the continued existence of hybrid free and 
non-free systems, ideological users have much to gain by 
supporting the porting of free software on non-free plat- 
forms by limiting the amount of influence of non-free ap- 
plications and file formats. Furthermore, by providing free 


software to users on non-free platforms, ideological users 
can better educate new users about the philosophy of free 
software and the freedom to distribute and modify their soft- 
ware. Pragmatic developers also gain when developing for 
non-free platforms, because developing for different types 
of platforms allows the pragmatic developers to make the 
most of features and functionality provided by commercial 
developers. Furthermore, by embracing a diverse set of plat- 
forms, pragmatic developers can leverage that experience to 
create more modular and portable software. 

The idea that people devoted to free software should dis- 
courage the development and use of free software on non- 
free platforms makes little sense, considering what is to gain 
by developing free software for non-free platforms. 


Copyright information 


(c) 2005 by Chris J. Karr 
This article is made available under the "Attribution- 
NonCommercial-NoDerivs” Creative Commons License 


2.0 available from http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by- 
nc-nd/2.0/. 


About the author 








14 Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 





f you are reading this you probably use free soft- 

ware. In fact, I think the probability that you are 

reading this article using free software is extremely 

high, whether it is "free-as-in-speech" as in Firefox, 
or “free-as-in-beer” as in Internet Explorer. Free software is 
increasingly being taken for granted and is almost treated as 
some kind of legal right in some quarters. And so it should 
be. A lot of people have had to put a great deal of effort 
into ensuring sufficient "free-as-in-speech" software exists 
for this to be so. However, over-basking in the sunshine 
of carefree internet surfing may be as risky as not using 
sunblock when going out in the sun. Drifting into over- 
indulging in the candy-shop of license free word-processing 
and spreadsheet-calculating may well cost you the IT equiv- 
alent of a jean size. The liberty of being able to use free 
software is still at risk. 


The amazing money-making tollbooth 


Roads, or the vast majority of them, are free for us to use. 
Yes - I know - we do pay for them in taxes and other means 
of government extortion, but with the exception of a rela- 
tively small number of toll roads we don't have to pay for 
them when we use them. If you live in an area where toll 
roads have become a necessity then please let me apologize 
for using an inappropriate analogy. 

Imagine if you could set up your own tollbooth at the bot- 
tom of your driveway though, or if not there, at your nearest 
major road. You could charge each car a dollar, or even 


Fig. 1: 





more, as it drove past. Your only cost was the administra- 
tion of that toll, and you wouldn't have to contribute to the 
building or upkeep of the road. Imagine that there was no 


alternative route for the cars to use to get from A to B. Imag- 
ine if it was all legal and above board. Wow! You could be 
a millionaire in no time at all. Forget about lottery tickets - 
This is the real way to get your yacht in the mountains - or 
whatever takes your fancy. 


I can imagine cynics saying at this point "imagine if pigs 
can fly" or "imagine if politicians were honest" etc, and I 
admit, the above scenario is unlikely, but what if it could 
happen? I doubt if you, or the greater percentage of the 
population, think this a moral or fair way of earning money, 
but you would need to be very conscience driven not to fall 
into the temptation of earning loads of cash that way if you 
actually could. After all - if you dropped a hundred dollar 
bill in the street would you actually expect the person who 


Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 15 


FOCUS 








found it to try to give it back? What if you found a hundred 
dollar bill? Would you take the trouble to trace the owner 
or hand it to someone with whom you think the owner may 
enquire it? Taking it is theft - but would that stop you? If 
you have been in that situation and you did the honourable 
thing then good for you. I salute you. However, you would 
be in the minority if you did. The majority of the population 
would pocket their newfound wealth for an extra treat when 
they next go out. And why shouldn't they? No one would 
stop them and honesty is unlikely to be reciprocated if the 
roles were reversed. In the same vein, why shouldn't you 
piles of money using inappropriate toll-booths if you can? 


It is very difficult for most people to resist 
immorally making large amounts of 
money if they can get away with it 


It is very difficult for most people to resist immorally mak- 
ing large amounts of money if they can get away with it. On 
the other hand, life wouldn't be so grand if someone else 
could legally put a tollbooth under these terms, say, at the 
bottom of your driveway. Suddenly this amazing tollbooth 
is not quite so wonderful after all. It may be unfair on you - 
but so what? The person doing it would have every right to. 
If you don't like it: you can just stop using your car. Don't 
be fooled into thinking that the world is too nice for this to 
happen, there are a lot of people around who'd be more than 
happy to take money from you in this way if they could. 


I believe, in that case, there would be a race to get as many 
tollbooths situated at the bottom of as many driveways as 
possible. It would be a dog-eat-dog scenario, with relatively 
few participants ending up controlling the vast majority of 
tollbooths. The effect that it would have would be simply to 
ensure as many tollbooths inconvenienced and extorted as 
many citizens in as short a time as possible. 


Fortunately for us, there are laws that protect us from that. 
If any not-so-friendly neighbour tried it, all it would take 
is one phone call from you and the boys-in-blue would be 
around to take him away for some serious questioning and 
possibly a falling-down-the-stairs accident on the way to the 
cells. You have nothing to fear from a phantom booth mys- 
teriously appearing where it doesn't belong. Your freedom 
to use the roads is more or less guaranteed. Of course, that's 
assuming there are sane (or at least not too insane) govern- 
ments in control of things. There's no danger of your free- 
dom being eroded in this way, or at least, I hope not. 
Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about the freedoms of 
using free software. Government legislation doesn't protect 
the freedoms of free software, as much as other aspects of 
life, due to the fact it’s considered unimportant and isn't 
really understood. 


How to take away freedoms in software 


I'm a software developer. I have developed, and I am de- 
veloping, free software as specified by the GNU General 
Public License. I rely on the copyright laws of countries to 
ensure my software is not used inappropriately and to give 
me recourse if it is. I have also in my time developed pro- 
prietary software, and the company I worked for relied on 
the same laws to ensure income from license revenue. This 
is all well and good and, like most people I know, I don't 
have a problem with this... so far. 

It's possible that I could have developed proprietary soft- 
ware that runs on Linux. In fact, I believe that some of the 
UNIX proprietary code I wrote has now been ported to it. 
Suddenly we have the situation where, although you didn't 
have to pay for the operating system, and certain freedoms 
regarding it are guaranteed, you need to pay a license to run 
the application on it. This is also fine. It is an important part 
of the GNU/Linux model. АП benefit from it. 

However, mixing proprietary code in free systems can have 
a practical danger. 

Going back to the tollbooth analogy imagine a hundred mile 
long road that goes from one town to another, and has no 
turn offs or means of entering or exiting it. Now imagine 
ninety-nine miles of that road being entirely free to use, and 
one mile of it is privately owned, and you have to pay just 
for travelling on that one mile. The fact that the vast major- 
ity of that road is on public land and is free to use is now 





16 Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 


FOCUS 





irrelevant. You still need to pay to use the road. None of it, 
in effect, is available to you, to make use of, without paying. 
By the same token: let's say I produce a GNU/Linux box, 
for a small company, with my proprietary application on 
it. The terms of my license specifies that if any software is 
installed, modified or altered on a machine with my appli- 
cation on it, or a machine on the same LAN, then the user 
loses all rights to use my software without reimbursement 
or recourse of any kind. This would be legally OK for me to 
do. I'm not violating the GPL because there is no GPL code 
in my application, and this is where I am putting the restric- 
tion. In addition, I’m not putting restrictions on their use of 
the GNU/Linux programs themselves, so I am not breaking 
the license there either. 


If | place a restriction on one small part 
of your computer that is vital to you, then 
| am in effect restricted you in the use of 
all of it regardless of the freedoms others 

may have granted you 


If I place a restriction on one small part of your computer 
that is vital to you, then I have in effect restricted your use 
of the machine as a whole, regardless of the freedoms others 
may have granted you. Big deal you might suggest - they 
can dump my application and carry on using GNU/Linux 
- or run other boxes, not connected with the free software 
on it. However, this may not be a choice. The expense 
of dumping the software, if it is a custom-built application, 
which has been developed over a long time, may well be 
prohibitive. As for running a separate network or box, that 
may be unrealistic too. It could well mean two screens on 
every desk instead of one or some employees not having ac- 
cess to all of the systems. This could also be unacceptable. 

Should the above scenario occur then, in effect, I would 
have succeeded in “un-freeing” the GNU/Linux system for 
that company. Many of the freedoms the GPL is meant 
to have guaranteed its users would have been denied them. 
Furthermore, I would have done it whilst not violating the 
GPL myself. I would have succeeded in placing a toll on a 
mile of road but in the process gained control of a hundred. 
I realise the above is rare, but occur it does. I know of sce- 
narios where this has happened in the past. Now, with the 
serious proliferation of software-method patents, it could 





ж 0 
et) 01 ЙТ ч 


become easier and easier for such companies to gain control 
of crucial aspects of a computer's application processing, 
such that it lets them gain a foothold in the entire computer's 
works. The SCO group have even tried it directly with 
GNU/Linux - they never claimed all the code was theirs, 
just sufficient amounts for it to warrant a per-machine pay- 
ment for the use of it. Fortunately, it is looking increasingly 
likely that their lawsuit will fall completely on its face and 
be buried in the mud where it belongs. However, it may have 
been a different story if they had their act together better in 
the beginning, or “if it wasn't for those pesky volunteers at 
Groklaw" exposing it for the sham it was. It is wrong to be 
complacent about such things. 


It can be hard to resist improperly 
earning money from free software 
developers' efforts. There are many who 
would do anything they could to achieve 
this 


It can be hard to resist improperly earning money from free 
software developers' efforts. There are many who would do 
anything they could to achieve this. 

Take a look at Sun's Java Desktop System. It's actually 
SuSE Linux running Gnome with all that goes with it, and 
Star-Office and some other Sun proprietary software on it. 
Sun charge you for the entire desktop, and support it. If you 
install software, not approved by them, on the system: you 
may find that Sun no longer guarantee uptime and support 
for it, until you un-install the software. However, either way, 
you'd still be liable for the annual payments. The fact you 
could get SuSE, Gnome and even OpenOffice from else- 
where could well be irrelevant in this case - your business 





Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 17 


FOCUS 


may depend on an aspect of the Java Desktop that is entirely 
sun's intellectual property. In effect - the freedoms granted 
to you by the GPL have potentially been destroyed. 


Conclusion 


Allowing proprietary software to run inside free systems is 
a necessity in the real world. However, don't be fooled 
into thinking it's without danger. There are those around 
you who would use any tactic to obtain revenue from 
GNU/Linux licensing, or from any other free-as-in-speech 
software. Placing proprietary and highly controlled appli- 
cations on systems could be a “foot-in-the-door” first step 
toward achieving this end. Computers are useless if you 
can't have practical use of them. If these proprietary appli- 
cations mean, in effect, that you cannot use any part of the 
computer - including the free parts - without the permission 
of the vendor then the “freeness” of the software has been 
removed. It can happen. When you see proprietary software 


on а free system - look more closely. Be aware, and beware! 


Copyright information 


(©) 2005 by Edward Macnaghten 

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this 
document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation 
License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the 
Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no 
Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the 
license is available at http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html 


Edward Macnaghten has been a professional programmer, 
analyst and consultant for more than 20 years. His experi- 
ences include manufacturing commercially based software, 
in a variety of technical environments, for a number of in- 
dustries in Europe, Asia and the USA. He is currently run- 
ning an IT consultancy specialising in free software solu- 
tions based in Cambridge UK. 





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J п а dream world, all software would be free. How- 


ever, we spend enough time with our eyes open to 

realize that some situations call for proprietary soft- 

4 ware, either as a desktop or as a server application, 

on a free system. On the other hand, those stuck with a pro- 

prietary operating system can still enjoy free software ap- 

plications. This article will list a few situations where free 

software and proprietary software can mix, and give three 
examples of each. 


Why free and proprietary can mix 


Examine this scenario: your company is moving your 
servers over to a free system. The trouble is, you have 
an Oracle database that's been running for x years and it's 
tweaked so perfectly you can't afford the time and effort to 
scrub it and migrate to a free relational database manage- 
ment system (RDBMS). Rest easy: Oracle is available on 
free systems, albeit certified only on certain distributions. 
Another scenario: your company policy is free systems on 
desktops, with a few selected exceptions. You're one of 
the poor sods who pass the Free-OS exemption test be- 
cause of some esoteric application not available on free sys- 
tems. However, your company can't afford a license for 
MS Office, and you do need a Microsoft file-compatible 
word processor, presentation-authoring tool, or spreadsheet. 
OpenOffice.org to the rescue. 

Situations such as those above are not limited to corporate 
desktops. Your home PC might have an important propri- 





20 Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 





etary application that doesn't have any free counterpart. You 
can't resort to dual-boot because that just takes too much 
time. So, you can run an emulator on a free system to run 
that proprietary application. In an extreme case — e.g., your 
software won't run in an emulator — you might be forced 
into Windows but choose to run mostly free applications. 
For this article's purposes, treatment of proprietary sys- 
tems will be limited to Windows 9x/ME/NT/2K because 
they're the dominant platforms. Other proprietary systems 
are OS/2, BeOS, and MacOS X, and most free software ap- 
plications for Windows are available for them as well. I will 
define free systems as GNU/Linux and the BSDs and I will 
refer to them as “Freenix” for convenience. 


Free software on proprietary systems 


The OpenOffice.org suite and the Firefox Web browser are 
the most prominent free software applications on propri- 
etary systems. In addition, server applications such as 
Apache, MySQL, and PostgreSQL are also available for 
Windows. 

OpenOffice.org (http://www.openoffice.org/) 
began life as StarOffice, an office suite by a German 
company named Star Division. StarOffice was available 
for Windows, OS/2 (up to version 5.2), and Unix. Sun 
Microsystems bought StarOffice in August 1999 and 
subsequently opened up the source code to the community. 
The result was OpenOffice.org, now at version 1.1.4 for all 
available platforms — which include Windows, OS/2 (for a 





FOCUS 





Fig. 1: OpenOffice.org Writer 





fee), and Freenix. OpenOffice.org includes a full-featured 
word processor, presentation-authoring tool, spreadsheet, 
and drawing tool. It is nearly 100% file-compatible with 
MS Office. 


As an aside, StarOffice, now at version 7, is still available 
for Windows, GNU/Linux, and Solaris, for a suggested re- 
tail price of US$79.95. However, academic use is free ex- 
cept for shipping and handling. In addition, Sun also offers 
site licenses. Lastly, there's an electronic download avail- 
able for US$59.95. StarOffice has all the components of 
OpenOffice.org, and adds a simple database manager. The 
Sun FAQ claims that SO and OpenOffice.org share the same 
code. 


The Mozilla suite includes a Web 
browser, chat client, newsgroup reader, 
POP/IMAP client, HTML composer, and 

the Jabberzilla multi-protocol IM client 


Firefox is a child of the Mozilla (http://www. 
mozilla.org/) project which also produced its bigger 
brother the Mozilla suite. The latter includes a Web browser, 
chat client, newsgroup reader, POP/IMAP client, HTML 
composer, and the Jabberzilla multi-protocol instant mes- 
saging (IM) client. Firefox is a stand-alone browser, now 
at version 1.0, available for the same platforms as Mozilla 
and OpenOffice.org. Like the advertising-sponsored Opera 
and the Mozilla browser, Firefox employs tabbed browsing. 
This means that you can browse several pages in different 
panes within the same window, and switch from one pane 
to another by clicking on the tabs at the top of the panes. 


Fig. 2: Firefox in full-screen mode. Note the tabs at the top 
of the viewing area 





24 


Freedom of Math | 14 


The most exciting feature for me is the use of the 
XML User-interface Language (XUL, pronounced zool to 
rhyme with ‘cool’) to create extensions, which as the 
name implies, extend the features of Firefox. The one 
I find most useful is WebmailCompose, which converts 
a mailto: link to a link to my selected Webmail ac- 
count's compose window. In other words, when I click 
on a mailto: link, a new tab opens up where I can com- 
pose a mail message from gmail. Also, here's an inter- 
esting sample XUL application (http://www.faser. 
net/mab/chrome/content/mab.xul) that should 
give you some idea of XUL’s capabilities. А real-world 
application is the Wizz RSS News Reader, which uses the 
sidebar as the control panel. I personally find XUL inter- 
esting because it looks to be one of the building blocks in 
creating a class of applications known as Rich Internet Ap- 
plications (RIAs), which use the browser as a universal front 
end. 

The Web server we know as Apache, officially the 
Apache HTTP server, is the most famous output of the 
Apache Software Foundation (http: //www.apache. 
org/). Apache serves approximately 67% of the world's 
websites. It is now at version 2, available both for Windows 
and free systems. A 2.1 version is, as of this writing, in beta. 
Free desktop software on Windows can make sense, de- 
pending on the situation. However, I personally question 
the usefulness of running free server software on Windows. 
They run more efficiently on free systems, which in turn can 
run on older — and therefore, cheaper — hardware. I would 
only run a free server on Windows for experimention and 
education not for production. 





Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 21 


FOCUS 





Proprietary software on free systems 


Vendors of proprietary software have made their products 
available on free systems for one reason or another. Or- 
acle (http: //www.oracle.com/), for instance, saw 
GNU/Linux as an opportunity to expand their market. Some 
applications — Opera (http: //www.opera.com/) апа 
VMWare (http: //www.vmware.com/), to name two 
— were available on free systems from the start, and it was 
natural for the latter. 

Oracle created a stir in the industry when they announced 
the availability, sometime in 1998, of their database prod- 
ucts on GNU/Linux. 
FAQ, the following are the certified and supported distri- 


According to the Oracle-on-Linux 


butions: 


e Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS and ES 

e SUSE LINUX Enterprise Server 

e Asianux 1.0, which includes Red Flag DC 4.1 Asianux 
Inside and Miracle Linux 3.0 Asianux Inside 

e UnitedLinux 1.0 


This is not to say that Oracle won’t run on other GNU/Linux 
distributions, or on the BSDs, just that Oracle can’t certify 
and support all of those systems. 

The FAQ adds that “АП key Oracle products including Or- 
acle Database 10g with Real Application Clusters, Oracle 
Application Server 10g, Oracle Collaboration Suite, Ora- 
cle Developer Suite 10g, and Oracle E-Business Suite are 
available for Linux.” Those of you who run Oracle know 
the details of those products better than I do. Oracle dis- 
tributes these in no-fee 650MByte .gz (gzip’ed) files. Those 
of you without the bandwidth can order a CD from Oracle 
for a minimal handling fee. Pricing takes effect only when 
you deploy a database, and starts at about US$49 per user, 
and moves into per-CPU rates depending on the application. 
Oracle has the reputation for being the choice for enterprise- 
class databases. However, free RDBMSes are encroaching 
on this space. The two most popular ones are MySQL and 
PostgreSQL, both of which were mentioned earlier. As an 
aside, MySQL also has a paid-support license option which 
— need I remind you? — does not detract from its being free 
software. 

VMWare is a software implementation of a virtual ma- 
chine —i.e., it enables applications from other operating sys- 
tems to run on the target machine. Thus, in MS Windows, 


Fig. 3: VMWare's web site 


beso Lumas мамы Соезәже EMAR THIS 
(2 мен е даси od mai com m 











VMWare will open up GNU/Linux as a task on your Win- 
dows desktop; on the other hand, VMWare will open up 
Windows as a task on your Freenix X desktop. And, once 
you have Windows-on-X, you can run most Windows appli- 
cations. However, graphic-intensive games, such as Duke 
Nukem or Far Cry, will run far too slowly — if at all — to be 
playable. Feedback from users indicates that Microsoft Of- 
fice will run under VMWare, albeit at a slight speed penalty. 
VMWare is available as a no-fee download in .tar.gz (tar'ed, 
then gzip'ed) format. You are free to try it out for 30 days, 
after which the program dies unless you purchase a license: 
the workstation edition is US$189 for electronic delivery, 
US$199 for packaged. Network licenses are also available, 
starting at US$1,694 for two CPUs. 

If the licensing fees are too steep for you, there are several 
free software options — wine (http: //www.winehq. 
com/)(Wine is Not an Emulator) and bochs (http: // 
bochs.sourceforge.net/). The setup for these may 
not be as smooth as VMWare's though. I, for one, never 
got my wine working on my FreeBSD box, although I ad- 
mit that maybe I didn't try hard enough, since it wasn't a 
priority. On the other hand, it is free software. 

Opera is a no-fee download, and you can continue using 
it for as long as you want, although you'll have to put up 
with ads that take up the top portion of the task window. 
US$39 gets rid of those ads. Opera claims to be the “safest 
and fastest full-featured Web browser on the market." Peo- 
ple who have tried both Firefox and Opera confirm that 
Opera is faster. However, the consensus was that Firefox 
adhered more closely to W3C standards than Opera. Be- 
sides, Firefox is free software, whereas Opera's source isn't 
even available to begin with. 


Other proprietary software available on Freenix are Sun's 





22 Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 


Fig. 4: Opera's web site 









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StarOffice, Sun's Java, and IBM’s Websphere. Take note 
that, while Sun does make the source to Java available, you 
aren't free to modify it. As to IBM's Websphere, it's a no- 
fee download like Oracle, and then you pay for deployment. 


Conclusion 


So, if you're stuck in a proprietary system, don't despair: 
you're still invited to the free software party because there 
are ports of free software. Conversely, if you're already 
enjoying free software bliss at the operating system level, 
don't knock proprietary software. 


Copyright information 


(c) 2005 by Daniel O. Escasa 
This article is made available under the "Attribution- 
NonCommercial-ShareAlike" Creative Commons License 


2.0 available from http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by- 
nc-sa/2.0/. 


| About the author | the author 


The author is a freelance writer and consultant with over 
20 years employing what others might call “oddball tech- 
nology". He simply thinks it's technology off the beaten 
path. More of that, and other miscellany, at ( 


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XML: WYSIWYG to WYSIWYM 


A brief look at XML document authoring 


Sagib Ali 


t all started with cavemen and their cave drawings. 

АП cave drawings were WYSIWYM (What You See 

is What You Mean). I mean (no pun intended), if you 

saw a cave drawing, in which a hunter was chasing a 
mammoth, it meant that a hunter was chasing a mammoth. 
There were no two ways to interpret the cave drawings. 
Then came alphabets and words. With words came plain 
text or documents. Then came XML/SGML for adding in- 
formation to a document relating to its structure and/or con- 
tent. An XML document contains both content (words) and 
an indication of what role the content plays. It's a markup 
language that adds meaning to the meaning. With the advent 
of XML, there became a need for XML editors. 


Basic Terminology 


DTD 


Document Type Definition. An XML DTD, written in 
EBNF, defines the structure and syntax of an XML doc- 
ument. Essentially, it defines the elements, entities, and 
the content model. For more info, please see this link 
(http://www.xml-dev.com/blog/#64). 


Open Standard DTD 


Open Standard DTDs are Document Type Definitions that 
are publicly available for use with various XML aware ap- 
plications. An example of an Open Standard DTD is Doc- 
Book XML DTD. In contrast, WordML developed by Mi- 
crosoft, is a proprietary XML DTD. WordML needs to be 


licensed, in order to be utilized by non-Microsoft applica- 
tions. 


XML 


XML (eXtensible Markup Language) is a meta markup lan- 
guage that can be used to create other markup languages. 
XHTML is an example of markup language created using 
XML. 


XML Schema 


Similar to DTD, except it’s written in XML, and is also 
capable of defining data types and putting constraints on 
the content. For more info, please see this link (http: 
/ / www .xml-dev.com/blog/i164). 


XSLT 


XSLT is a template, which defines what transformations 
need to be performed on an XML document. XSLT allows 
XML data to be shared among various XML aware applica- 
tions, which don't necessarily use the same XML schema. 
In the context of document authoring and content creation, 
an XSLT defines what the formatted output will look like. 


Valid 


An XML document that conforms to rules as defined by an 
XML DTD or schema is valid. 


Well-formed 


An XML document that conforms to the syntax rules of 
XML is well formed. 


Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 25 


TECH WORLD 





Proprietary file formats 


The popular way of authoring a document is to use WYSI- 
WYG tools (e.g. MS Word or Frame Maker). Documents 
created using these applications only have formatting infor- 
mation, but lack semantic information (1.e. information re- 
lated to the structure of the information contained within). 
Since the formatting information is proprietary to each ven- 
dor and the file format is binary, documents created using 
these applications are locked into the file format of the ap- 
plication's vendor. If you wish to switch word processors 
(e.g. Microsoft Word to Corel's WordPerfect), you have to 
go through the painful process of converting all of your doc- 
uments to the new proprietary format, and often lose valu- 
able data during the conversion process. 

Enter XML based document authoring 

In contrast, XML allows a document author to create con- 
tent in a "presentation neutral" format that captures the se- 
mantics of the content, rather than the presentational for- 
mat. XML introduced a way of authoring documents that is 
completely free from the limitations of old fashioned, non- 
interchangeable, binary file formats (e.g. DOC, XLS etc). 
Open Standard XML Document Type Definitions (DTDs) 
and XML Schemas allow the document authors to create 
consistent, structured documents regardless of the XML ed- 
itor they are using. A true XML editor supports any XML 
DTDs or XML Schema. Thus, the document author is able 
to move from one XML editor to another, without the fear 
of the content being locked into one proprietary file format. 
This is good for the document author, but not good for the 
software vendor who developed the editor. The only way 
for vendors to compete for customers is to offer editors that 
provide the more editing features. If they don't, the cus- 
tomer will just move to a different editor, without losing 
any content. This has paved the way for the XML editor 
wars, where each vendor wants to develop an editor that has 
better features than its competitors’ editors have. 


Features offered by XML editors 


Despite the fact that XML is the Holy Grail for publishers 
and document authors, nobody wants to use Vi or Notepad 
to create an XML document. They want tools that'll make 
XML editing easy and painless. So, the paradigm of WYSI- 
WYG and WYSIWYM was introduced to the XML world. 


Essentially the document authors want XML editors that 
can: 


1. Highlight syntax errors 

2. Automatically complete XML Tags 

3. Indent properly 

4. Check for validity against an XML Schema or a DTD 

5. Check for XML well-formedness 

6. Allow viewing and editing of XML documents in a tree 
view, and 

7. Fix the kitchen sink 


Various types of XML editors 


The positive outcome of the XML editor wars is that we 
currently have large number of very good and feature-rich 
XML editors to choose from. These editors can be divided 
into three categories: WYSIWYM, WYSIWYG and Text- 
Based. 


WYSIWYM 


What You See Is What You Mean is a paradigm that is re- 
lated to the XML editors, which accurately display the in- 
formation that is trying to be conveyed, rather than the ac- 
tual formatting. Since XML doesn’t define the actual for- 
matting of the content, these editors are very useful in visu- 
ally creating and managing the data. A WYSIWYM editor 
allows a document author to edit an XML document by in- 
teracting with a feedback text, generated by the editor. This 
presents both the knowledge already defined and the options 
(tags, elements, attributes, etc.) for extending and modify- 
ing it. Thus, а WYSIWYM XML editor alleviates the need 
for the document author to memorize all of the tags, ele- 
ments and attributes of XML DTD or Schema. WYSIWYM 
XML editors are also known as semantical editors. 
Butterfly XML is a powerful WYSIWYM editor, freely 
available under GNU Public License. In addition to the fea- 
tures mentioned above, it is capable of automatically gener- 
ating an XML Schema or a DTD based on XML file. 


WYSIWYG 


What You See Is What You Get is a paradigm that is re- 
lated to word processing and publishing. It refers to editing 





26 Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 


TECH WORLD 





Fig. 1: XML Editors 

















eWebEditPro+XML 3.1 (http://www.ektron.com) 
Ultra XML (http;//www.webxsystems.com). 
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Fig. 2: Butterfly XML is capable of presenting the elements 
that are available at the location of the cursor as de- 
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software that makes sure that the image seen on the screen 
closely corresponds to the final formatted output. That does 
not mean that WYSIWYG XML editors exclude the seman- 
tics of the XML content. All it means is thata WYSIWYG 
XML editor allows the document author to edit the XML 
content with the XSLT applied to the content. So the doc- 
ument author doesn’t see the XML elements and attributes, 
instead he/she sees the formatted output as defined by the 
XSLT. 


Vex (Visual Editor XML) is a very capable WYSIWYG ed- 
itor that uses CSS to provide authors with an MS Word 
like user interface to create and edit document. It is well 











Compiled by Saqib Ali 
http://www.xml-dev.com 








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Fig. 3: Right clicking on any tag will display all the child 
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suited for "document-style" documents such as DocBook 
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Text Based 


They are most rudimentary type of XML editors, where the 
document's author has to manually type in all of the tags and 
attributes. However, these editors usually check for good 
structure and sometimes for validity as well. Both Vi and 
Emacs can be configured to act as a powerful text-based 
XML editor. The following documentation can be used to 
configure any of these free editors so they can be used as an 
XML editor: 





Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 27 


TECH WORLD 





Fig. 4: ButterflyXML offers a Tree View of the XML doc- 
ument. A tree view helps the author to better visu- 
alize the semantics of the content. 


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e Using Vim as 


Fig. 5: Like ButterflyXML, Vex is also capable of listing 
the elements that are valid and inserting them at the 
current caret location. Available attributes for each 
element are displayed as well. 













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Fig. 6: Unlike ButterflyX ML, Vex does NOT provide a tree 
view of the whole XML document, however it does 
provide an outline of the document. Outlines pro- 
vide a good, high-level view of the semantics of the 
document. 


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All copyrights are held by their by their respective owners, unless 
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Namang of particular products or beands should not be seen as 
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Feedback 

Feedback is most certainly welcome for this document. Send your 
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Pox hoo аха 














Translations 





Copyright information 


© 2005 by Saqib Ali 

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this 
document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation 
License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the 
Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no 
Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the 
license is available at http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl. html 


XML allows a document author to create 
content in a presentation-neutral form 
that captures the semantics of the 
content, rather than the presentational 
format 


About the author 








28 Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 


A laptop, a coffee, and disaster 


recovery 


Why you should have an effective backup strategy 


John Locke 


ast week, my laptop died a sudden spectacu- 
lar death-by-drowning, as a full cup of cof- 
fee poured into its keyboard. It emitted a pop 
sound, and the screen and the power shut off. 
What would your reaction be? Mine was to immediately 
unplug the power cord and remove the battery. Then I took 
it over to the sink and poured out the coffee. Remembering 
tales of people flushing keyboards with water, I ran some 
fresh water over the keys and then set to work. I removed 
the keyboard, the palm rest, a few of the inner cards, and let 
it sit without power for several hours. Apparently, not long 
enough. 
Later that day, anxious to find out whether it was really dead 
or just comatose, I plugged it back in, crossed my fingers, 
and pressed the power button. The power light came on, 
I heard the fan start, and for a second or two, I was hope- 
ful. But then... 
cleaning, drying, or care could resuscitate it over the next 


another pop, and it was dead. No further 


few days, so it's currently back at the IBM factory going 
through open-heart surgery, if not a total replacement. 


What can go wrong? 


Obviously, if I didn't have a good backup of my data, such 
an event could have been catastrophic to my business. As it 
was, the loss of my laptop was merely an expensive hassle. 
Actual events such as this one can provide a good reality 
check for your disaster recovery strategies. 


Many things can happen that have a similarly disasterous 


effect. Being prepared for disasters can make life easier if 
the event actually occurs. Let's take a quick look at some 
possible computer disasters: 


e Coffee fries the laptop. 

e А service technician copies sensitive data from your 
computer. 

e Your laptop is stolen. 

e Your data is erased by a malfunctioning airport X-ray 
machine. 

e Your house burns down. 

e Your PDA is stolen. 

A virus infects your files, and your recent backups. 


Which of these disasters could make you go out of business? 
Or subject you to identity theft? Or to a lawsuit from your 
customers for leaking their information? 


Several issues come into play here, and you need to consider 
all of them: 


1. Loss of use of your equipment. 
2. Compromise of sensitive data. 


Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 29 


TECH WORLD 





3. Loss of data, including corrupt backups, deleted files, 
or important files you change accidentally. 
4. 'The overall risk of any of these events. 


These are some of the considerations to be made when plan- 
ning your disaster recovery strategy, and ГЇЇ get into more 
detail in future issues. 


The best backup system is one you don't 
have to think about at all. Ideally, your 
laptop or workstation should have no 
data that's not also stored somewhere 

else 


How до I back up my data? 


There are several approaches to doing backups. It used to be 
that most places would get a tape-drive and put entire sys- 
tem backups on a schedule to run overnight. Tapes aren't 
always reliable, though, and it can be very difficult to re- 
trieve individual files. 

These days there are a lot more options. Writable CDs and 
DVDs provide a cheap way to create permanent backups, 
and create historical archives. USB thumb drives make for 
a simple way of instantly making a copy of important files. 
Large hard drives are cheap to buy, and when installed in an 
external drive enclosure or removable casing, become the 
most economical way to back up large sets of data. 

If you have a Local Area Network (LAN), you can backup 
important files by simply copying them to other computers. 
If you're in an office environment, I highly recommend hav- 
ing a server, and concentrating your backup efforts onto the 
server instead of individual workstations. 

The best backup system is one you don't have to think about 
at all. Ideally, your laptop or workstation should have no 
data that's not also stored somewhere else. We're all human 
afterall and the more work it is to do a backup, the less likely 
you are to have done one when you need it. So how did I 
do, when my laptop died? 


Painful self-analysis 


I probably rely on my laptop for a wider variety of data than 
most people. An important part of your backup strategy is 


identifying what data needs to be backed up, how often, and 
where. Here's a list of what was on my computer: 


e Email 

e Contact addresses 

e Calendar/Schedule 

e Password database 

e Sensitive customer files 

e Sensitive business data 

e Finances 

e Non-sensitive customer files 

e Non-sensitive business documents 

e Prototype databases for web application projects 
e Prototype web applications under development 
e The operating system and application software 


Configuration details about the machine itself 


This list is probably a lot longer than yours, but it covers 
most of the different types of data used by the majority 
of small businesses, and may include a couple things you 
haven't thought about. So, how did I go with my disaster 
recovery strategy: 

Email 

A perfect score. My email system uses IMAP, which keeps 
all mail on the server. Every single email in my mailbox 
is intact on the server, and immediately available from any 
other computer. 

Contact addresses 

Not so good. My contact addresses are currently stored in 
Evolution, my main email software. I periodically back up 
by synchronizing to my Palm, but I had been having prob- 
lems with the synchronization, so I hadn't done that for a 
couple weeks. I could have lost the last two weeks of any 
changes to my address book. 

Calendar and schedules 

Ouch! My strategy was completely inadequate in this area. 
Evolution has great calendaring capabilities and I have sev- 
eral different calendars set up in Evolution, each for a par- 
ticular type of work. My meeting calendar gets synchro- 
nized to my Palm PDA. My social and meeting calendars 
are merged to publish free/busy information so others can 
schedule meetings with me. I then keep several other cal- 
endars to block out time for different tasks: billing, taxes, 
security updates, client projects, and articles. In Evolution 
I can easily show or hide different calendars, and see when 





30 Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 


TECH WORLD 





I'm available for a meeting. But the downside is, these cal- 
endars are all stored only on my desktop. Evolution does 
not yet support storing calendars on a server - though you 
can read remote calendars. Aside from the meeting calen- 
dar, the remainder of my tasks and work schedule would 
have been completely lost. 


These types of events always serve as a 
wakeup call, highlighting areas for 
improvement 


Password database 

Okay. It's there, a backed up copy from my PDA. It's also 
encrypted, though the encryption is not as strong as other 
encryption methods. At least it'd take substantial effort to 
crack, and I can trust IBM, with its reputation, not to mess 
with it. 

Sensitive customer and business files 

Good. Not only are all my customer files in a server- 
based document repository, available for instant access from 
any other computer, but the copies on my laptop are on a 
strongly encrypted partition. My clients and I have noth- 
ing to worry about when the hard drive goes into the service 
depot: the encryption method used is the Advanced Encryp- 
tion Standard (AES), which is the US Government standard 
for strong encryption and currently has no known flaws. 
Finances 

Super! My finances aren't even stored оп this machine, even 
though it's my primary workstation. I use a web-based ap- 
plication, with an encrypted connection. My business fi- 
nances never leave my server, and the server is backed up 
nightly. 

Non-sensitive customer files, prototype web applications 
Good. Again, all customer files are stored in a document 
repository, and I work on a local copy. Whenever I’m done 
for the day, I check these files back into the server. I could 
have lost a few paragraphs, written in a new proposal that 
morning; but in this case, there was no catastrophic loss. 
Non-sensitive business documents 

Poor. I had a lot of marketing material in my computer that 
was not backed up anywhere else. Chunks of text getting 
prepared for the web site, a couple of time and mileage 
tracking spreadsheets, a few other assorted files were not 


properly added to my document repository. The mileage 
tracking spreadsheet in particular would have been a tough 
loss. 


Prototype databases 


OK. If you're not a developer of some kind, you probably 
don't have any databases running on your laptop. I have 
three: MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Oracle. It's one of the 
main reasons I got a new laptop this year - to get the per- 
formance I need to handle the types of development I' m do- 
ing. Databases often can't be backed up as files, especially 
when they're running. But there's nothing in the databases 
on my laptop beyond sample data, and the structure of each 
database is regularly exported to a file and added to my doc- 
ument repository. The document repository itself is a type 
of database that entails special backup procedures, but that's 
not on my laptop, so that's a story for another day. 


While | had most of my critical data 
automatically backed up, there was a 
significant hassle involved in losing the 
data stored only on the laptop 


Operating system and software 


Just fine. Many people back up the entire hard drive, just be- 
cause that's what they think is necessary. I never back up the 
operating system or installed programs. In the Linux world, 
it's almost always better to install the newest version of any 
software - catastrophic loss of a computer is just a great op- 
portunity to upgrade. In the Windows world, you tend to 
need to periodically reinstall the entire operating system pe- 
riodically anyway - especially the way recent spyware and 
viruses have infiltrated so many machines. Much better to 
start fresh and install the programs you need when you need 
them, either from new versions or directly from the installa- 
tion CDs that you have in the bottom of that drawer. 


System configuration 


Total loss. On one hand, I try to keep the system configu- 
ration as close to the default as possible. But I had done a 
fair amount of custom configuration on this laptop to sup- 
port things like the infrared port, the modem, and the wire- 
less card, as these things don't always work reliably out of 
the box in Linux. I have notes around here somewhere, but 
didn't put them in a central place and some of the stacks 





Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 31 


of paper around here qualify as their own disaster needing 
recovery. 


Result: needs improvement 


While I had most of my critical data automatically backed 
up, there was a significant hassle involved in losing the data 
stored only on the laptop. In particular, I need to improve 
my contact, calendar, and a few less critical business docu- 
ments. I also need better documentation of my system con- 
figuration. This would help me get this laptop back up, and 
running much more quickly. 

Fortunately, I didn't lose a thing. I went down to my local 
electronics store and bought a little drive enclosure for a 
laptop hard drive, plugged it in and recovered everything 
on the drive, including the things I didn't have well backed 
up. АП the same, these types of events always serve as a 
wakeup call, highlighting areas for improvement. Тор of 
my list, based solely on the value of the data, is getting a 
better system in place for storing my contacts. 


How would you fare if you lost your primary computer? 





a m) 


NEEDS WATER TO GRO 
i ES | i 





If you don’t feel confident in your current backup strategy, 
we at Freelock Computing would be happy to help you fig- 
ure out a better plan. Next month ГІ look at options for 
encrypting sensitive documents. It's easier than you may 
think. 


Copyright information 


© 2005 by John Locke 

(The following license is effective immediately) 

Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is 
permitted in any medium without royalty provided this no- 
tice is preserved. 


John Locke is the author of the book Open Source Solutions 
for Small Business Problems. He provides technology, strat- 
egy and free software implementations for small and grow- 
ing businesses in the Pacific Northwest through his business, 


( y 


FREE › 
"NEEDS SUBSGRIB 





BY SUBSCRIBING YOU WILL BE SUPPORTIMG A 
MAGAZINE WHICH BELIEVES IN FREE SOFTWARE. 
ALL OUR ARTICLES ARE RELEASED UNDER THE 
GNU FREE DOCUMENTATION LICENSE, ENHANCING 


EXISTING INFORMATION ON FREE SOFTWARE. 


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The importance of LDAP 


The past, present and future of a battered protocol 


Tom Jackiewicz 


П that you know about Lightweight Directory 

Access Protocol (LDAP) is wrong. From its 

inception to perceived usefulness, and ulti- 

mately, until the marketing department got a 
hold of it, LDAP has grown. It started as a useful protocol 
and a data structuring methodology (known by only a few), 
and became the latest and greatest way to synergize your 
action items and find parity with your eMarketing growth 
plan. 


What does this mean? Hopefully your answer is the same 
as mine - nothing. The importance and growth of LDAP 
should be based on how the protocol has adapted in the past, 
and how we keep on innovating and adapting it as technol- 
ogy grows. Unfortunately for us, the marketing department 
has already taken a hold of LDAP, eaten it up, and - if we 
are not careful - it will spit it out. 


The origins of LDAP 


LDAP was first implemented at the University of Michi- 
gan in 1992 as a way of creating an interface to DAP over 
TCP/IP. This eventually evolved into a stand-alone sys- 
tem utilizing data structures based on types stemming from 


X.500. Over time, the popularity of OSI waned and TCP/IP 
became the de facto standard accepted for networking. One 
of the reasons for the failure of OSI (and its directory solu- 
tion — DAP) was the complexity of the data definition and 
the infrastructure required to use it. No flexibility was given 
in any of the OSI standards and it became extremely cum- 
bersome to deploy. 


With OSI’s failure and TCP/IP’s acceptance, the LDAP 
"community" (which at the time consisted of college age 
engineers meeting over pizza and beer) became more ambi- 
tious and tried to invade the space of directories and started 
to innovate instead of just following X.500's lead. Follow- 
ing the original RFC's for X.500 and LDAP, it can be seen 
that while X.500 was trying to solve problems that didn't ex- 
ist (i.e. how to replace yp, how to create a more structured 
information standard that was even more painful to imple- 
ment), LDAP was clarifying how to access information and 
proposing formats for URL standardization and search fil- 
ters. 


Fig. 1: The OpenLDAP web site 


е 
YopenLDAP 





Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 33 


TECH WORLD 





Because of its simplicity, ease of implementation, availabil- 
ity, and a little bit of luck, LDAP became a good way of 
centralizing information. LDAP provided an easy solution 
where synchronization scripts and custom code were used 
to keep information, on large systems, consistent. Within a 
relatively short time, email systems were relying on LDAP 
as the single authoritative source. Authentication systems 
were no longer relying on their own customized solutions 
and flat files. Netscape looked to LDAP to provide the cen- 
tral repository for their initial suite of products. 


Following the original RFC's for X.500 
and LDAP, it can be seen that while 
X.500 was trying to solve problems 

that didn't exist, LDAP was clarifying 

how to access information and 
proposing formats for URL 
standardization and search filters 


АП of a sudden, LDAP was the quick and easy solution to 
many of the problems that system administrators faced. The 
community, large and growing, was updating standards in 
order to help solve the problems that the users were facing. 
Once other vendors were replacing their back-end databases 
with LDAP, it was obvious that this little experiment had 
finally gained acceptance. 


If it ain't broke, don't fix it 


One can easily conclude that the success of LDAP can be at- 
tributed to how fast technology evolved during the latter part 
of the 20th century and the general laziness of the informa- 
tion technology community. While new products, solutions, 
ideas and toys where becoming available, it was too diffi- 
cult (and too expensive) to implement a database (such as 
Oracle) for storing profile information for all of a system's 
users. It was equally frustrating, migrating flat files across 
different systems, which required similar information. De- 
ploying an LDAP directory didn't require much in the way 
of an investment of time. It could also be used by some 
of the new products that were being released. One LDAP 
directory provided the same authentication and profile in- 
formation for all of the new toys that system administrators 
wanted to experiment with. So if it didn't live up to their ex- 


pectations, only hours were wasted (instead of the resources 
required to deploy an instance of Oracle). 

Unfortunately, in today's fast-paced world, a product that 
isn't constantly updated with all the new bells and whistles 
is not trendy or exciting. Vendors often remove features 
just to add them again a few revisions later. The LDAP 
community, through RFC’s, fell into this trap and started 
solving problems that didn't exist. RFC's were proposed 
to adapt DNS information into LDAP. Even complicated 
LDAP was 
slowly moving into areas that it didn't need to exist, and 


schema was proposed to store Java objects. 


that just made it more complicated. These were the same 
types of endeavours that destroyed OSI, X.500 and DAP. 
Those who fail to learn from past mistakes are destined to 
repeat them. 


Vendor interpretation 


The acceptance of a technology by a vendor is a blessing for 
many. For others, it can be a fast spiral towards obscurity. 
Initially, LDAP gained widespread acceptance by the in- 
formation technology community because of its use within 
Netscape's suite of products. However, as other vendors 
started to tap into the possibility of LDAP, their proprietary 
system background began to invade LDAP's space. LDAP 
gained popularity because of well established standards and 
the ability to be protocol dependent and vendor (or imple- 
mentation) independent. The data stored in the original Uni- 
versity of Michigan LDAP server could be exported and put 
into OpenLDAP with ease. However, vendors (like Sun, 
Novell, and Microsoft) chose to implement good (but pro- 
prietary) features that required only the use of their imple- 
mentation. Direct calls for authentication and authorization 
via LDAP became requirements of proprietary plug-ins and 
new integration layers. While some of these features went 
beyond the scope of LDAP, standards should have been 
written, and these new feature sets could have easily become 
part of the standard LDAP feature set. Instead, the ques- 
tion quickly went from “Are you using LDAP?” to “Which 
LDAP are you using?". 

To make things worse, the way vendors added LDAP to their 
offerings was questionable. 

Early adapters integrated all of their product offerings with 
LDAP - despite their dependence on proprietary features of 
their LDAP implementations. 





34 Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 


TECH WORLD 





Fig. 2: The site LDAPGURU.COM is helping to provide the right LDAP information 


+ LDAP (IU - Do R right the first tese... | 


EDAPGURU- nece oen 








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Late LDAP adapters quickly added inferior LDAP support 
to their products. Instead of having their products query 
LDAP directly for information, they decided to synchronize 
their products daily with an existing LDAP server and then 
pump the data into a database. Alas, their marketing litera- 
ture could now exclaim “We support LDAP!” 

Other vendors decided to use LDAP directly, but their 
schemas were ported from previous database-centric prod- 
ucts and these directories could exclusively be used by 
them. This led to having multiple LDAP servers with the 
requirement for synchronization — one of the problems that 
LDAP was supposed to solve! 

Today, some of these problems are overlooked (it is, after 
all, an open standard) and LDAP is a popular (and exposed) 
protocol. The problem now is that people who see the bad 
side of LDAP often fail to see how important it really is. 


User interpretation 


The freedom given to those who choose to deploy LDAP 
DAP 
was largely ignored because too much time needed to be 


has ultimately led to problems in interoperability. 


invested to plan an appropriate deployment strategy. Тоо 
much information would also have been needed to create 
a schema compliant user profile. LDAP left almost every- 
thing to the imagination. To quickly deploy LDAP and cre- 


ü 
Search ja 
кенеден м D Let бе! 


шт ee 


de - 
тәні | 





ate user profiles, по planning was required. There were по 
standards for information (this would have been a hindrance 
initially and too close to X.500) and no best practices were 
provided. As with all new technologies, no one went far 
enough to have made any significant mistakes. Whoops. 


A quick fix or temporary solution turned into an internal 
standard. When "Tom JackiewicZ" was created by dif- 
ferent LDAP administrators in different environments, I 
could authenticate as tom, tjackiewicz, my badge number, 
tjackiewicz followed by my badge number, or tjack when 
the name was just too difficult to spell. While many of 
these were deployed in test environments, they were quickly 
adopted and became corporate standards that could not be 
easily changed to meet real needs within the environment. 
It was realized, that by choosing these naming standards, 
without any forethought, it would become difficult to in- 
tegrate LDAP with other directories, databases, or data 
sources. Even the short-sighted deployment of a directory 
information tree (used to create branches within a flat direc- 
tory) hurt integration efforts. At the top of the tree might 
be definitions for the whole internal user base. However, as 
LDAP is needed in other areas (such as external customers), 
or is used to store other data types, the lack of planning for 
the directory information tree causes problems when apply- 
ing access controls or even setting appropriate search filters. 





Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 35 


TECH WORLD 





Fig. 3: Perl-LDAP provides a standard way of utilizing Perl to access your LDAP directory 


IEEE L a 





Perl-LDAP: Homepage 


"eie 
03202 Introduction 
е Downioad LDAP is the dé-facto internet drectory standard, supported by companies such 3$ Sun, 
© Masng int M«r050ft, ЮМ 208 Waves. LDAP I an integrar part of internet pago Berings ie Sun 
© Бес ONE, Microsoft Exchange, and many cthers 

Tht peri-idap оигоо i$ а cobecton ot реп modules which provide an otyect 

onentated interface to LDAP servers, 
rS 
f The per-idip ошоо has several advantages over ofer LOAP interfaces for pert 
LDAP Technology 
Services * By using the регі object interface She pert-idap modules provide programmers 
| Sarpy wih an interface which aliows complex searches of LDAP directories with ordy à 
Management & тай amount of code 
Securty free Wh * Al me peri-idap modules are өтеп enbrety in pert, which means that the ibrary 
Papers, Мота їз trufy cross-pksttorm compsoble. No C се XS extensions are used $0 no C 
A Яо abies ——— ee No other LDAP узлез (ед Мазар) are 
nee tupien еее. 
— . EX being ГЕНЕ 
АПАР деге 
Носа 
Asarceieees ^ Distribution 
[ard browse for | 
|Мкғозоб Outiock Тре іжезі (July 2004) rebease of the beray із pen-isap- Lis You MEY 330 browse 
v" mes | the indu fies in the SVN repostory and the Changes Ме 

- 
p e ЊУ P 
Conclusion License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the 


Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no 
Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the 
license is available at http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html 


The future of computing is currently in the hands of market- 
ing departments and corporations. It has been pulled from 
the hands of the universities and computer scientists, inno- 
vating for the sake of doing what is right. What we must 
do, as a community, is insist on standards. Good yet pro- 
prietary ideas created by the vendors must be cherry picked 
and be turned into well-defined standards. We shouldn't let 
LDAP lose its simplicity and, ultimately, the reason we are 
using it in the first place. We should also make it clear to the 
vendors that we won't base our LDAP deployments on their 
systems. We want the ability to use whatever implementa- 
tion we choose without having to conform to their ideas of 
what LDAP should be. 


About the author 


Bibliography 


[1] Jackiewicz, Tom “Deploying | OpenLDAP”, 
Apress:2004 


Copyright information 


(c) 2005 by Tom Jackiewicz 
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this 
document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation 








36 Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 


Running BSD on PowerPC/PPC 


Using an alternative Unix on an alternative platform 


Martin C Brown 


hen you think of the PowerPC processor, 

chances are you'll think of just two plat- 

forms and, by association, two operating 

systems. Apple's Mac OS X, which runs 
on Apple's own hardware, and the AIX Unix operating sys- 
tem from IBM, which runs on their own PowerPC platform 
systems. In reality, there is a wide choice of potential oper- 
ating systems that work on a wide range of PowerPC plat- 
forms. If you want a Unix-like alternative to AIX, partic- 
ularly a free software one, then Linux seems the obvious 
choice, but there are others. BSD provides a Unix operating 
system, but with a heritage that goes back a lot further than 
Linux. If you chose to go down the BSD route, what solu- 
tions are available for the PowerPC platform? And, are they 
as good as Linux and proprietary alternatives? 


The BSD operating system 


АП Unix flavors are typically based on the original ver- 
sion of Unix developed by AT&T. The BSD variant of Unix 
available now is a free software version of the AT&T Unix 
developed at the University of California, Berkeley. Propri- 
etary and free software flavors of Unix available today, can 
all trace their heritage back to one of these two basic ver- 
sions of the Unix operating system. Over the years differ- 
ent companies have based their Unix offering on either the 
AT&T (commonly referred to as AT&T System V Release 
4 (SVR4)) or the BSD version. 


There have also been a few changes over the years. For ex- 


ample, versions of Sun’s SunOS operating system, up until 
SunOS 4.1.x, were based on the BSD code base, but then 
switched to an SVR4 base with SunOS 5.x, better known 
as Solaris. These changes are akin to a car manufacturer 
choosing a different engine manufacturer for the car — there 
are changes to certain parts of the internal workings, but the 
basics of internal combustion stay the same, and the outer 
shell to remains relatively unchanged. 


Fig. 1: The FreeBSD website 


тар maw теті сер 
Select a server near you: 
FreeBSD mea Ber 
Language: [de] [en] Les] [fr] Lit Ша) [ul 
Platforms What is FreeBSD? Production Release: 
amita 53 
eatallaion Guide 
іне FreeBSD is an advanced operating system for x86 compatible (including Pentium 
Release Noses 
ша and Athlon), amd64 compatible (including Opteron, Athlon 64, and ЕМ647), tardare Notes 
[A Alpha/AXP, IA-64, PC-98 and UltraSPARC architectures. It is derived from BSD, the | 22082000. Notes 
version of UNIX& developed at the University of California, Berkeley. It is developed | man 
and maintained by А ша}. Additional platforms аге in various | 
Software platforms 
Canina free Stages of development. Production (Legacy) 
‘Release Information Release: 4 11 
Масд Арсыз А 
Cutting edge features кашан Guide. 
Documentation кт 
тА FreeBSD offers advanced networking, performance, security and compatibility texulanon Notes 
m pem features today which are still missing in other operating systems, even some of the | Ша 
foe Newbies best commercial ones. P t 
‘Dex Project roject News (855) 
^ Latest update: 25 January, 2005 
Support Powerful Internet solutions ыра ашАн Nee 
Миса шц Mih-Decerber 2094 Status 
MILI FreeBSD makes an ideal Interner or Intranet server. It provides robust network мыш 
Шит Groups. freetSO 4.11 &C3 дураа 
[түт services under the heaviest loads and uses memory efficiently to maintain good [m TES TT: 
РТТ response times for thousands of simultaneous user processes. Mozita appr aves Freegsiy y 
Events Shanderterd and festox ports 
А n New comestter Sam Heels). 
Bug Reports | Run a huge number of applications ш 
тт 
Henne Dun renerr Nenaletter Publahed 





The quality of FreeBSD combined with today’s low-cost, high-speed PC hardware |а 
makes FreeBSD а very economical alternative to commercial UNIX& workstations. It 














Today, the most popular implementations of BSD are the 
free software ones, much the same as Linux. But BSD has 
that much older heritage and over the years certain aspects 
of the inner workings of BSD have been improved and ex- 
panded upon, particularly with respect to networking and 
security, generally making BSD more stable and giving it 


Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 37 


TECH WORLD 





a higher performance for certain operations. BSD has for 
many years had one of the best network stacks available of- 
ten exceeding the nearest competitor on network through- 
put, utilization and connection initiations. Hackers and 
crackers are frequently challenged to break into BSD based 
systems and have no success. 

This heritage in networking has meant that BSD is regu- 
larly used in routers and network servers and as a platform 
for web services. Unfortunately, it has failed to capture the 
same hype and following as Linux. Though, it does have its 
dedicated followers, including myself, for use as a general 
purpose Unix platform. 


BSD variants 


There are quite a few variants of the BSD operating system, 
all of which share a common foundation within the origi- 
nal Berkeley Systems Distribution edition of the operating 
system. The differences that exist are in the focus of the 
development, including performance, target platforms, flex- 
ibility and security. 

There are four mainstream versions of BSD that most peo- 
ple are familiar with: 


e FreeBSD (http://www.freebsd.org) - Fo- 
cused on performance, FreeBSD is the most popu- 
lar of the BSD solutions after being released by Wal- 
nut Creek CD-ROM, an early pioneer of freeware 
and shareware distributions before the internet became 
mainstream. FreeBSD has the largest user base, prob- 
ably because of the size of the development team and 
the number of applications that have also been ported 
to the operating system. FreeBSD is not, at the time 
of writing, fully available on the PowerPC platform, 
although there is an active porting project in progress. 

e NetBSD (http://www.netbsd.org) - Focused 
on portability, NetBSD is best known for it's wide- 
ranging hardware support. You can run NetBSD on 
everything from an embedded solution to proprietary 
hardware from IBM, Sun and others. If you need to 
support a Unix platform on different PowerPC based 
platforms including VME, evaluation boards, IBM 
pSeries and RS/6000 hardware, PowerPC based Macs 
and even old BeBoxes, then NetBSD is the solution for 
you. Beyond the hardware environment, NetBSD also 


Fig. 2: The OpenBSD website 












Only one remote hole in the default install, in more than 8 years! 


The Орепв50 project produces a FREE, multi-platform 4.4BSD-based UNIX-like operating system. Our 
efforts emphasize portability, standardization, correctness, proactive security and integrated cryptograghy 
OpenBSD supports binary emulation of most programs from SVR4 (Solaris), FreeBSD, Linux, 850/05, SunOS 
and HP-UX. 





OpenBSD is freely available from our FTP sites, and also available in an inexpensive 3-CD set. The current 
release is OpengSD 3,6 which was released Oct 29, 2004 


OpenBSD is developed by volunteers. The project funds development and releases by selling CDs and T- 
Shirts, as well as donations from organizations and individuals. These finances ensure that OpenBSD will 
continue to exist, and will remain {сес for everyone to use and reuse as they see fit. 






has the same strong networking foundation of other 
BSD variants along with similar security and stability. 

e OpenBSD (http://www.openbsd.org) - Fo- 
cused on security, OpenBSD is technically a fork of 
the NetBSD code. Contrary to the name, OpenBSD 
is, upon initial installation, closed. АП of the main 
network services are disabled until you enable them 
and much of the operating system is in a "switched 
off" state until the administrator says otherwise. This 
means that OpenBSD is, out of the box, incredibly se- 
cure; to use a network service, for example SSH, you'll 
need to specifically set up SSH, open the ports and con- 
figure the keys and background daemon, before using it 
to administer your system. Although this seems long- 
winded, it really does mean that as an administrator, 
you must explicitly allow potential security problems, 
rather than the implicit approach used on other operat- 
ing systems. OpenBSD also includes extensive encryp- 
tion and security options making it incredibly popular 
with network administrators for use in routers and web 
servers. OpenBSD is available for Apple's Mac-based 
PowerPC hardware, but not any other PowerPC plat- 
forms. 


e Darwin (http://developer.apple.com/ 
darwin/) - Darwin is produced by Apple and is 
available for free, although it's not heavily publicized. 
Darwin is based on FreeBSD (changes in Darwin are 
actually added back into the FreeBSD code base), but 


with additions and added functionality for use on, and 





38 Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 


TECH WORLD 





more importantly with, Apple systems. For example, 
Darwin incorporates functionality for integration with 
the Apple LDAP-based authentication system, and the 
necessary base libraries and components to enable you 
to use Darwin for QuickTime streaming. The server 
software is available on the Darwin homepage. The 
Darwin OS also forms the basis of Apple's proprietary 
Mac OS X operating system, when combined with 
the Cocoa user interface and other components, 
such as QuickTime. The benefit, from a user (and 
administrators) point of view, is that you get a rich 
GUI environment for applications like Microsoft Word 
and Adobe Photoshop, but with the underpinnings of 
a Mach kernel and BSD operating system that provide 
stability and security and make it easy to support 
applications like Apache and MySQL. 


Aside from Darwin, the other three are licensed using 
Berkeley's free BSD License that allows complete access to, 
and use of, the code for any purpose. Darwin is licensed un- 
der the Apple Public Source License, which is a little more 
restrictive to help protect the work carried out by Apple on 
what is the underpinning of a proprietary product. 


Comparing BSD to Linux 


The key difference of BSD compared to Linux is the way 
the operating system is provided. Linux is technically noth- 
ing more than an operating system kernel. Without the 
other free utilities provided with it in a distribution (RedHat, 
SuSE etc), Linux would not be a usable operating system. 
This is the reason for the "distribution" in the first place; a 
distribution includes the Linux kernel and the other utilities 
packaged up into a unique bundle, often with an installer to 
make the process of getting the operating system working 
on your machine much easier. 

Linux distributions are not a bad way of providing and 
supporting an operating system. They do mean, however, 
that you are relying on more than one source for much of 
the functionality of the core operating system and this can 
cause problems from simple compatibility right up to secu- 
rity holes and others. The sheer inter-related nature of Linux 
has also led to a number of different “package manager" so- 
lutions designed to simplify, or at least get you out of, some 
of the complexities associated with such a wide range of 
different software. 


Fig. 3: The NetBSD website 


Information Languages 
About The NetBSD Project Detach 
Security and NetBSD Eesti 
NetBSD Мете Sites Engish 

E D i B SD Welcome to The NetBSD Project [Tg 

Of course it runs NetBSD. nao 
How te ом NetBSD. Шешу 
Latest viease - 2.0 
Software for №030 scones 
Packagm Collection жопу? 
Support NetBSD is a free. secure, and highly portable Unix-like Open Source operating system а. 
available for many platforms, from 64-bit Opteron machines and desktop systems to суы 
The NetBSD 0 handheld and embedded devices. Its clean design and advanced features make it 2 
NetBSD Macual Pages excellent in both production and research environments, and it is user-supported with жур: 
Майга һи and желе Complete source. Many applications are easily available through The NetBSD Packages Жа 
СҮЗ бронху Collection. ше 
‘Cons vants tor hire soos 
User атыз Recent News [tore] Бе 
Верой се query a bug сес 
cobalt 

Meta Information omaat 
Who wo aro edem 
Gallery and events тра 
Есе әск on this эйе тр 
Contributions 10 NetBSD кау 

тфа 
хо 
ud 527 
toam 





On the other hand, BSD is a complete operating system with 
both the kernel and a whole range of utilities and compo- 
nents that make up the operating system. This makes BSD 
a more coherent operating system. BSD releases are made 
when all of the utilities and other components have been up- 
dated and patched. This fact also helps to explain why many 
of the BSD operating systems are more stable and secure 
than Linux. The coherence also means that BSD offerings 
are easier to use, manage and migrate between. Finally, be- 
cause a BSD release is managed and controlled by a single 
group, rather than made up of numerous components from 
many contributors there’s a lot of consistency between the 
operating system and it’s documentation. 


The BSD groups, although fanatical, also approach the 
problem of other operating systems by working with, rather 
than competing against them. With such a long history, BSD 
is generally more stable (many BSD administrations will 
quote uptimes in months, or even years, rather than days or 
weeks), and with better performance than Linux. 


In terms of compatibility, most BSD distributions come with 
the facility to run Linux applications, which means that in 
many cases you can simply install and execute a Linux bi- 
nary (providing it's for your target platform) without any 
further modification or configuration. Applications that are 
available in source form should configure and build fine. 
However, where Linux does have an advantage is that be- 
cause it is the current favourite, many companies are pro- 
viding native versions of proprietary applications for Linux. 
Compatibility mode in these situations is not always perfect. 
Having native BSD versions of these applications would be 
preferred. 





Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 39 


TECH WORLD 





Comparing BSD to proprietary offerings 


The proprietary Unix sphere is much larger than most peo- 
ple think, but most will identify with the big names such as 
Solaris and AIX. Many would be hard pressed to actually 
name another proprietary Unix offering beyond these two. 
Most proprietary Unix variants are focused on a fixed plat- 
form; Solaris is primarily produced for Sun's own SPARC 
based hardware (although an Intel version is available), 
while AIX is specific to IBM's PowerPC platform. 


Fig. 4: The Darwin project 


6 Developer Connection Search e 


9! Log In | Not a Member? 


бын iy: | DALWLi 


Raterence Library 





е ri 
for multiple integrated fe systems. 


News and Updates 


Configuring and Ruaning Х11 Applications on Mac osx 
X11 the X Window System is a widely-used graphical uses interface on UNDC Read this 
article to learn how to set up an d use X11 applications on your Mac OS X system. Ban 17 


Darwin 7.7 Source ска M 


The sources for Darwin 7.7, which correspond to Mac OS X 10.3.7, are available for 
04] 






pr with Shari k4 
cludes powerful mew features suc эм 5 data mining and 
тын Shark фал help y ou dramatically improve performance in 


Mac OS X v104 Tiger: Developer Overview 
The next version of Mac OS X i 5 loaded with powe rful new features, APIs, and 
frameworks that ring mew and interesting opportunitie s for deve elopers. (Ост 19 2004 


eq Open Directory Plug-ins 
With 





Develaping: Cross-Platform UNIX Applications xih Mac 05х 
velop a y them to other fla: 
for de veloping code on Mac OS X for 





Actually comparing proprietary Unix variants is very diffi- 
cult because many have used and exploited different com- 
ponents from both BSD and System V Release 4 (SVR4). 
Others have changed their spots half way through produc- 
tion (SunOS and Solaris, for example). The proprietary 
Unix variants also frequently provide either an SVR4 or 
BSD compatibility layer to help migration from one to the 
other, or to help users of other variants to migrate to the new 
platform. 

Ultimately making comparisons boils down to examining 
the heritage and support of the operating systems and the 
platforms supported. There are two mainstream, proprietary 
Unix variants, which run on the PowerPC CPU, Mac OS X 
and AIX. As you know, Mac OS X is essentially Darwin, 
which is in turn based on the FreeBSD and only works on 
the apple PowerPC platform. 


AIX is the Unix operating system produced by IBM and 
which runs only on IBM's own PowerPC based hardware. 
AIX is based on SVR4 and has some obvious advantages 
compared to both BSD and Mac OS X. The first is the avail- 
ability of different software. As a proprietary Unix, it also 
has the best options available for proprietary support; IBM 
themselves provide many of their applications in an AIX 
version. Interestingly though, even IBM provide more of 
their software in Linux versions than AIX. 


The other big advantage is the level of support offered by 
IBM for their AIX customers. 
support with an AIX expert if you are willing to pay for it. 


You can get full, 24-hour 


Support for most BSD offerings is provided on an informal 
email basis, which isn't suitable for customers using BSD 
in a proprietary environment. Choosing to use BSD, in a 
proprietary environment, will therefore depend on the expe- 
rience of the people managing the system. 


Installing and running BSD 


Darwin is probably the easiest of the BSD options to install; 
neither of the OpenBSD and NetBSD offerings are diffi- 
cult, but neither are straightforward for the average user. 
FreeBSD, when fully available on the PowerPC platform, 
should also be easy to use and install if the Intel experience 
is anything to go by. 

Once installed, BSD operates much like any Unix variant; 
the familiar shells, command line utilities and other compo- 
nents are available to us. The big differences within the 
BSD system are the way in which you interact with and 
configure various components of the system. Everything 
- from the boot process through to the configuration of var- 
ious components - differs from that in Linux and most pro- 
prietary distributions. There are also other differences in 
some of the command line options for different utilities; 
for example, the ps command (for listing processes) uses 
slightly different options to show all the running processes. 
Even so, the differences are minimal and while it takes some 
adjusting, if you are familiar with another Unix, the basic 
mechanics of interacting with the system are identical. 


Even more significant though is the fact that the wide range 
of third-party applications and utilities that you are famil- 
iar with, Apache, the GNU tools, Emacs, Gimp and many 
others are all also compatible with the BSD environments. 





40 Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 


TECH WORLD 





Fig. 5: The FreeBSD website 


There W: Select a server near you: 
S mena TCC) 
Free B n Language: [de] (е [es] ШІ Lit] Dal иш 


What is FreeBSD? 


FreeBSD is an advanced operating system for x86 compatible (including Pentium 
апа Athlon), amd64 compatible (including Opteron, Athlon 64, and EM64T), 
Alpha/AXP, IA-64, PC-98 and UltraSPARC® architectures. It is derived from BSD, the 
version of UNIX® developed at the University of California, Berkeley. It is developed 
and maintained by a large team of individuals. Additional platforms are in various 
Sages of development. 


Cutting edge features 
FreeBSD offers advanced networking, performance, security and compatibility 


features today which are still missing in other operating systems, even some of the 
best commercial ones. 


Powerful Internet solutions 
FreeBSD makes an ideal interner or Intranet server. It provides robust network 


services under the heaviest loads and uses memory efficiently to maintain good 
response times for thousands of simultaneous user processes. 


Run a huge number of applications 


The quality of FreeBSD combined with today's low-cost, high-speed PC hardware 
makes FreeBSD а very economical alternative to commercial UNIX& workstations. It 





Choosing a BSD OS 


If you were in the Intel space, choosing a BSD solution 
would be more straightforward. АП of the BSD versions 
are available for the Intel space and choosing the solution 
that's right for you comes down to the type of installation 
and functionality that you require. 

Instead, when limited to the PowerPC platform you need 
to base your decision on the hardware available to you. 
NetBSD has the major advantage, in that, it runs on just 
about everything, from embedded PowerPC platforms to the 
more mainstream solutions such as Apple Macs and IBM's 
PowerPC hardware platform such as the RS6000 desktops 
and servers. 

OpenBSD is the best for security, but you are limited to Ap- 
ple hardware. While this is not a real problem, since both 
new and old Apple PowerPC based kits are readily avail- 
able, it is still fairly limiting. If Apple is your platform of 
choice though, Darwin offers a more rounded environment. 
Darwin also has the benefit of proprietary backing — which I 
think in the long term will aid its longevity and should also 
help publicize BSD at a time when Linux gets the column 
inches. 


Conclusion 


Despite what you might have been led to believe, Linux isn't 
the only alternative for a stable and secure Unix like oper- 
ating system. BSD is just as accessible, easy to install and 
even compared to proprietary offerings has a much older 


Fig. 6: An OS X Session, with Word and X Windows 






























which means that in many cases you can sign all and позно a.T inv hinaru Inmwvidina it’s 
for your target platform) without any (шп 
available in source form should configure 
advantage is that because it is the current fi 
native versions of commercial applications; 
always perfect. Having native BSD versio! 


Comparing BSD to Commercial 
The commercial Unix sphere is much larg: 
big names such as Solaris and AIX. Many 
commercial Unix offering beyond these tw 
platform; Solaris is primarily желінеді бм 
version is available), w 
Actually comparing со 
exploited different com 
changed their spots halj 
Unix variants also freq 
from one to the other, 
Ultimately making cor 
systems and the різ о 
on the PowerPC CPU, 
is in turn based on the 
AIX is the Unix operati 
based hardware. AIX 
and Mac OS X. The fi 
the best options availal 
applications in an AIX 
Linux versions than AI 
The other big advantage is the level of support offered by IBM for their AIX customers. You can 
get full 24 hour support. with an AIX expert if you are willing to pay for it. Support for most BSD 
offerings is provided on an informal email basis, which is not suitable for customers using BSD in a 
commercial environment. Choosing to use BSD use in à commercial environment will therefore 


heritage, and it's generally better because of it. The only 
limitation of BSD is the supported platforms. NetBSD is the 
best if you want the ultimate in compatibility across a range 
of platforms — including Intel and embedded solutions — but 
if your hardware is Apple based then OpenBSD is a security 
focused solution that is at home on the server or the desktop. 


Copyright information 


(c) 2005 by Martin C Brown 
This article “Attribu- 
tion” Creative Commons License 2.0 available from 


is made available under the 


http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/. 


About the author 








Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 41 


Guerrilla Marketing part two 


Getting (good press coverage 


Tom Chance 


ollowing on from my general introduction to 

guerilla marketing in the first issue of this maga- 

zine, I will now discuss some specifics of getting 

good press coverage. This much-neglected area 
of marketing is actually a relatively important issue, espe- 
cially if your project is genuinely interesting, and can reap 
huge rewards. 


Press coverage (a much-neglected area 
of marketing) is actually a relatively 
important issue, especially if your project 
is genuinely interesting and can reap 
huge rewards 


Why would you want press coverage? This seemingly ob- 
vious question is worth considering before you embark into 
the media world. Do you want to raise awareness of your 
project to gain more users? Maybe you want to recruit more 
programmers, artists, documentation writers or other kinds 
of volunteers. You may want to improve the image of your 
project, or of the kind of work you’re doing, for example, 
responding to criticisms or promoting free software in the 
mainstream media. You may also want to bring your project 
to the attention of commercial sponsors and software dis- 
tributors. I may have my reservations about the media, this 
magazine excepted of course, but for the reasons above and 
more besides the media is a tool that you can use to your 
advantage. 


Fig. 1: A good media strategy will get you regular coverage 





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Planning an effective strategy 


Assuming you have followed the marketing strategy check- 
list I described in the first part of this series, you should have 
a good idea of what you want to say about your product and 
who you are targeting. You may also have assigned press 
roles to volunteers in your project. You now need to convert 
this very general strategy into one specific for the media, 
which will involve the following considerations: 

Coming up with an effective strategy isn’t an exact science. 
In working through the above questions, you should come to 
better understand how you are going to approach the prac- 
tical tasks of media work, including writing press releases, 
following them up, taking part in or conducting interviews 





42 Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 


WORD WORLD 








and even writing your own articles. The process is perhaps 


best illustrated with an example. 


You should come to better understand 
how you are going to approach the 
practical tasks of media work, including 
writing press releases, following them 
up, taking part in or conducting 
interviews and even writing your own 
articles 


I am the press officer for the Gneb project, a GNOME web 
development application. I want press coverage because the 
project could do with a few more volunteers, and because I 
want to raise awareness of our upcoming release. I’m there- 
fore trying to reach all of our existing and potential users 
- so anyone interested in web development - and in par- 
ticular those with the skills and inclination to volunteer. I 
want to receive lots of media coverage that emphasises the 
benefits and advantages of our application over similar free 
software web development applications, and that suggests 
people should become involved in the project. To achieve 
all of this, I will target the usual free software-friendly me- 
dia, and trade magazines that discuss web development. ГІ 
get them interested by emphasising the great features of our 
application that set it apart from the rest, and by showing 
the mainstream press the value of free software. My key 
messages are that the application makes managing complex 
web frameworks easier, that it integrates perfectly with the 
GNOME desktop, and that we're keen to attract new volun- 
teers. 


Obviously the above example is a little contrived and light 
on detail, but you get the idea; if you don’t do this, you’re far 


less likely to attract the attention of journalists, and even less 
likely to get really good coverage. Preparation can mean the 
difference between no coverage, a small mention and a full 
feature article. Ask yourself why a journalist would really 
want to write about yet another web development applica- 
tion. Perhaps the best way to learn how to use the media 
is to read, listen to and watch the media more critically. 
Next time you read a feature article or an interesting piece 
of news, reflect on why the journalist chose to cover it. 


Announcements and press releases 


Announcements and press releases are the most basic way 
to promote an application. Announcements can grab the 
attention of users, showing them why a new release is worth 
installing, or why they should get involved in your project, 
or they can show them what your aims are. They can be 
reasonably long, and discuss all the messages you want to 
promote in detail. A really good announcement will tear me 
away from my game of Freeciv and make me spend a few 
minutes reading through it. 

Press releases catch the attention of editors and journalists, 
they make them research and write an article or do a piece in 
a show about your application. Editors and journalists can 
receive hundreds or even thousands a day, so they'll most 
likely look over a press release extremely quickly, and dis- 
card it if it doesn't interest them. You can either use a press 
release as the basis for an article, giving the journalist an 
easy job and ensuring positive coverage, or you can use it as 
a way of getting them to contact you for a fuller story. You 
can also use them to point towards the (more verbose) an- 
nouncement, allowing your press release to be short whilst 
giving them lots of information. 

Let's start with a brief look at the process involved, before 
going into each stage. You should write the announcement 
first, then the press release that accompanies it; next, you 
send the press release to all relevant contacts, following this 
up a few days later where appropriate; finally, you record 
any useful contacts and make a note of interesting leads. 


Writing the announcement and press release 


Announcements are fairly easy to write. You should start 
with a paragraph of no more than a few sentences sum- 
marising your key messages. You then flesh out each of 





Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 43 


WORD WORLD 





Fig. 2: Follow this process for announcements press re- 
leases 


Write your announcement & press 
release, then post it to your web site 


ы 


Email and fax the press releaase 
to editors and friendly journalists 


№ 


Follow it up with a phonecall to contacts 
likely to cover your announcement 


“ 


Record any useful contacts 
you have gained 





these messages, for example by providing a bullet point list 
of your most important and interesting new features, or by 
describing the kinds of tasks volunteers might get involved 
with. You can optionally finish it off with some boasts, 
telling the reader where your application is being used or 
how much more efficient it is than your competitor's. Don't 
sound too smug, otherwise you'll put people off, but do give 
the reader the impression that there is something special or 
different about your project and product. 


Press releases are much harder. Whereas an announcement 
just needs to be reasonably well written and cover the key 
messages, according to your media strategy, the press re- 
lease needs to do it with precision and concision, so that at 
a brief glance the key messages grab your attention. Here's 
an example press release that I'll work through: 


The press release needs to start with a snappy title. Now Pll 
admit I’m not great at this, so don't worry if you can't think 
of anything clever; so long as it is reasonably interesting it 
should avoid being deleted from the journalist's inbox im- 
mediately. The second line should state the release date or, 
if appropriate, an embargo that tells the journalists not to use 
the information in the release until the date specified. Em- 
bargoes aren't binding, and may irritate the journalist or put 
them off, so don't use this unless you have a good reason. 


The first paragraphs are as important as the title. АП your 
key messages should be here to hook the reader, summaris- 
ing the rest of the story. You can then use your announce- 
ment to concisely expand upon these messages in the next 


Fig. 3: An example press release 
А The Gneb Project 
» http://www.gneb-project.org 


New Gneb release gives great web performance 


PRESS RELEASE 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE / EMBARGO: 27th January 2005 


The Gneb project is to announce the release of Gneb version 1.0, the indispensable tool for all web 
developers, featuring advanced project managament and full integration with GNOME. The Gneb 
project is seeking new volunteers to help develop on this stable platform in the future. 


Gneb is the result of two years of development by a team of over twenty volunteers. This release 
makes the application complete, putting ahead of the competition in terms of features, "EDS and 
integration with the desktop. Based upon the free software platforms GNU/Linux, GNOME and Gecko, 
Gneb provides powerful tools for handling multiple library and include files, synchronising the work of 
a team of developers and writing cheese with ease. Gneb also provides syntax highlighting, code 
folding and other features common to modern web development applications. 


The Gneb project is run by volunteers, and so the more participation we receive the better the product 
can become. We are keen to recruit new volunteers, in particular from companies, to work on the code 
and documentation. Those interested should contact Tom Chance [2]. 


Tom Chance, Gned's Project Coordinator, commented that 


"Gneb is now being used in hundreds of companies around the world, and with our 
competitive pricing model for custom feature requests, you can get your ideal platform 
at a fraction of the cost of competing products" 


ENDS 
Notes for editors 
1. For the full announcement of this release, and more information on Gneb, visit: http://www.gneb-project.org 


2. For more information, contact Tom Chance: 
Email: tom@fakedomain.com 
Phone: +44 (0)1234 567890 


few paragraphs. It's important that these don't give the jour- 
nalist too much or too little information, and that it is ac- 
curate. Leave grand or vague claims for the quote, which 
comes next. Stories with quotes look much more interesting 
than prose from the journalist, so make up a nice soundbite 
that the journalist can't misrepresent. 

Finally, you should provide any further information in notes. 
These can include links to the full announcement, links or 
more information on any points you made concisely in the 
text but that can be expanded upon, background information 
(e.g. about your project). Most importantly, you should 
include contact details; if you put in a phone number, make 
sure you are always available on it, because a journalist is 
unlikely to chase your answer phone. 


Making contact and following up 


By now you should have a reasonable announcement and 
press release written and posted on your web site. Now you 
need to get the media to pay attention. Start by putting to- 
gether a list of people you can send the release to. Look 
for editors’ addresses in magazines and on web sites; find 
press contacts; hunt around for journalists that have covered 
your application or ones like it in the past; find all the web 
sites with news submission forms; phone the switchboard 





44 Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 


WORD WORLD 





for newspapers, radio & TV stations and any other media 
outlets and ask for the newsdesk. 

After some groundwork, you should have a decent contact 
list to start with. It's also worth looking into deadlines, to 
make sure you get the news to them in time. If a weekly 
paper goes to print on Friday you'll want to get the release 
to them by Wednesday midday at the latest so they have 
time to write the article. 


Preparation can mean the difference 
between no coverage, a small mention 
and a full feature article. Ask yourself 
why а journalist would really want to 
write about yet another web 
development application 


Now email the press release out. Either email it to each con- 
tact individually (scripting comes in handy here) or send it 
to yourself and put their addresses in the BCC (Blind Car- 
bon Copy) field to avoid annoying them all. If you are able, 
send it out by fax too on nice headed paper as in my example 
release above. When sending to individual journalists, you 
are more likely to win their attention with a personal email 
than with one that has obviously been bulk-mailed out to a 
contact list. 

If all goes well you should now have journalists browsing 
your web site to find out more, or even reaching for their 
phone to call you. But to make sure you can follow the 
press release up a short while later to check that they have 
received it and to see if they have any questions. Calling me- 
dia folk in this way may make you feel like a door to door 
toothbrush salesman, but there is no alternative. Media or- 
ganisations are chaotic, and things get lost. When the news- 
desk says "never seen it before", they may even be telling 
the truth. So send it again. 


Lather, rinse, repeat 


Congratulations, by now you have made your first brave 
steps into the media jungle. You've got coverage in all of 
your target publications, and users and volunteers are flood- 
ing in. But the work's not over yet. You're likely to have 
other announcements in the future, so spend a little time 
gathering together contacts and materials from this round. 


Record the contact details of all the journalists that did cover 
you in your contact book, marking those whose articles you 
liked as "sympathetic reporters", with a reference to where 
the article they wrote is. Keep clippings too, both for your 
personal use and for promotion (e.g. to show off on stalls at 
trade shows). 


With a growing contact book, a well 
organised archive of announcements 
and press releases, a readily available 
press contact and an interesting project, 
you can't go wrong 


With a growing contact book, a well organised archive of 
announcements and press releases, a readily available press 
contact and an interesting project, you can't go wrong. 
Yov're not guaranteed to hit the front page of national news- 
papers, but as you learn to target quiet spots in the media 
cycle (e.g. public holidays, late summer) and as your press 
releases become more journalist-friendly, your profile will 
grow and grow. 


Copyright information 


(c) 2004 by Tom Chance 

This article is made available under the “Attribution- 
NonCommercial" Creative Commons License 2.0 available 
from http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/. 


About the author 








Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 45 


Open Source Laps 


Pioneers in Open Source Solutions 





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Open source 15-а market force 


How open source has changed and continues to change'the IT 
market, апа the behaviours. of those. Whostarget it 


Malcolm D. Spence 


ompanies seek to counter their competition in 
a variety of ways - pricing, packaging, brand- 
ing, etc. There are a lot of options and any 





good product manager will know them well. 
One of the toughest situations to be in is that of compe- 
tition, with the usual responses, when you are up against 
a competitor using the natural forces of the market place. 
Marketers refer to these tectonic shifts as *shocks", because 
they are unusual events. They change the way the game is 
played, and once that change is made, there is usually no 
going back. The change is structural. Discerning whether 
the change is strategic and a market force, or just a tactical 
move by competitor can be difficult at first. The majority of 
the time change is gradual. It often takes hindsight to reveal 
it as a fundamental shift. 

Open source is not a tactical move by some product com- 
pany, to obtain some temporary advantage. It is a basic 
change in the way the users, most often software engineers, 
want to assemble their systems. It satisfies a hunger for 
changes to the way proprietary software has been used in 
projects. 


The majority of the time change is 
gradual. It often takes hindsight to reveal 
it as a fundamental shift 


Nor is open source a religious experience. Practical hybrid 
business models, which combine both open and proprietary 


elements, have already emerged and both coexist. Indeed 
they can compliment each other for quite a while. Compe- 
tition will improve both models, and consequently improve 
those that employ a mix. 

If the truth is to be told, the proprietary software companies 
have not quite figured out how to respond to the open source 
challenge to their business model. They are used to pitting 
product feature against product feature, or matching price 
with price. The process and the business models of open 
source are both completely different from their previous ex- 
periences. It's not as easy to respond, in kind, with that type 
of situation. Plus market forces are rapidly shaping the open 
source market such that it is now becoming an accepted part 
of the landscape. It is no longer strange and different. 

The purpose of this article is to explore how we have arrived 
at this point, and what steps along the way should have told 
us thatthis is where we would be, at this point in time. Large 
software companies that are proponents of only proprietary 
software are fighting against an extremely powerful oppo- 
nent, the natural force of a market in transition. 


Some background on market forces 


We are a long way from 1776 when Adam Smith first pub- 
lished his groundbreaking book “Тһе Wealth of Nations". 
It became the basis of modern political economic under- 
standing. Software and information technology (IT) may 
not have been a consideration when it was written but the 
basic rules still apply. The characteristics of software and 





Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 47 


WORD WORLD 





IT are also enabling their own change, which reinforces the 
notion of the market being adaptive. 


Quoting from Adam Smith's book: 


Every individual necessarily labors to render the 
annual revenue of the society as great as he can. 
He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote 
the public interest, nor knows how much he is pro- 
moting it. He intends only his own gain, and he 
is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invis- 
ible hand to promote an end which was no part 
of his intention. By pursuing his own interest he 
frequently promotes that of the society more ef- 
fectually than when he really intends to promote 
it. I have never known much good done by those 
who affected to trade for the public good. 


Adam Smith captured the essence of the market (and open 
source), i.e. self-interest by the consumer. This self-interest 
is the engine of the economy and competition its governor. 
He also mentioned the “invisible hand". Just like the wind, 
we can see its effects but cannot quite view it at work. 


Adam Smith captured the essence of the 
market (and open source), i.e. 
self-interest by the consumer. This 
self-interest is the engine of the 
economy and competition its governor 


Fundamentally: 


1. Adam Smith explained how prices are kept from rang- 
ing arbitrarily away from the actual cost of producing 
a good. 

2. Adam Smith explained how society can induce its pro- 
ducers of commodities to provide it with what it wants. 

3. Adam Smith pointed out why it is that high prices are 
in effect a self-curing disease, because they encourage 
production of the commodity to increase. 

4. Adam Smith accounted for a basic similarity of in- 
comes at each level of the great producing strata of the 
nation. He described, in the mechanism of the market, 
a self-regulating system, which provides for society's 
orderly provision of goods and services. (Comment: 


This now applies in a global sense, and could be the 
basis of a similar article stating that the off-shoring ad- 
vantages will not last long.) 


This article will focus this discussion on points 1 and 2 and 
how technology itself has caused open source to be a vi- 
able option for satisfying demand and getting the market in 
balance. 


Price versus cost 


Software is a peculiar product. Unlike physical goods (like 
cars and TVs), it requires very little in the way of consum- 
able (physical) resources to produce. At one point it was 
taken from magnetic media, copied to another media (flop- 
pies, or tape) combined in a box with printed documenta- 
tion (derived, itself, from electronic files), shrink-wrapped 
and shipped via trucks from warehouses. Not exactly an 
optimum distribution method for something that starts off 
as, and then ends up in, an electronic format. A format that 
should be able to distribute the product at the speed of light, 
and where the distance of delivery is not a cost factor. 


Software should be an optimum good in 
a connected world 


Software should be an optimum good in a connected world. 


In electronic format, software: 


e Costs very little to store. 

e Costs very little to deliver. 

e Can easily meet a surge in demand. 

e Offers almost zero latency between the act of selection 
and product reception. 

e Offers replication at very little incremental cost and 
with no depletion of itself. 


It fits well in a world of instant gratification. You see it, you 
want it... well you just got it! 

Software itself costs labor to create and maintain. And then 
There 


are computers, networking infrastructure, disk drives, and 


of course there is the cost of physical resources. 


a building perhaps, for the developers to use. These are ini- 
tial costs and once incurred the ongoing cost is often less. 





48 Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 


WORD WORLD 





Other significant costs, for traditional software products, are 
those of sales and marketing. Look at any high tech com- 
pany and those are indeed significant, often being 40 to 60 
per cent of revenues. Proprietary licensing models have to 
recover that cost quickly. The "cost of sales" is now an area 
where the costs incurred are seen as being of dubious value 
to the sophisticated client. Many companies now try to sell 
and deliver products over the internet as a way to use more 
of a “pull” model (with users buying), rather than the “push” 
model (of salespeople selling), to thus reduce their costs. 
The point I'm trying to make here, is that there is often a big 
difference between software pricing and product cost. Ac- 
cording to Adam Smith, that difference causes tension be- 
tween buyer and seller. It also provides room for a competi- 
tor to insert their product at a new price point. As mentioned 
in the previous paragraph, the internet has enabled low cost 
ordering and delivery, by what is called disintermediation. 
That is, the elimination of the middle-men. This strategy 
drastically reduced selling costs, as long as your clientele 
were users of the internet and felt comfortable about buy- 
ing products and services using it. With IT users that was, 
indeed, already the case. 


It was apparent to the invisible hand of 
the market that the only new price point 
that could be employed successfully was 
that of zero. Anything else could be 
countered by short-term price cuts 


When it came to software, Microsoft had entered the mar- 
ket at a lower price point than their predecessors such as the 
mini-computer and workstation manufacturers. This was 
predicated on the model of a PC being both low-powered 
and for a single user from a licensing perspective. The 
lower Microsoft price points, were more than compensated 
for by volume. (In fact for a while their lower prices made 
them heroes to IT managers who could use them to negoti- 
ate with their other vendors.) Products such as Microsoft's 
SQL Server held the rest of the market (Oracle's DB for 
example) in check. Microsoft's product costs (packaging 
and distribution) were, and still are, minimal compared to 
their prices. In the past, if a competitor tried to attack them 
through lower cost pricing Microsoft could always heavily 
discount its price, give away parts of its product function- 


ality, or use its access to a broad product range to bundle a 
product (which might be under market share pressure), in 
such a way that: a competitor making a discrete or narrower 
range of products could not respond in kind. Case in point: 
Netscape and the browser wars, or today, the spam filtering 
and virus blocking software being added to MS Windows, 
at "no additional cost". 


Initially the Microsoft proportion of the overall systems cost 
was low. As hardware prices retreated, under the assault 
of competition, the Microsoft prices were maintained, and 
their proportion of the overall cost increased. 


It was apparent to the invisible hand of the market that the 
only new price point that could be employed successfully 
was that of zero. Anything else could be countered by short- 
term price cuts. A case of "how low can you go?" And 
Microsoft and Oracle have deeper pockets. The only way 
Microsoft and other large software vendors might be vul- 
nerable was by "death from a thousand cuts". That meant 
lots of small vendors nibbling away at their product lines by 
attacking across all fronts. A difficult proposition, as long 
as Microsoft had the operating system market to itself. It 
could always retreat its products into the safety of its OS. 
Plus switching costs, those that are incurred as users moved 
to new products, had to be offset by an overwhelming new 
value proposition. 


Structurally the Microsoft business model is more depen- 
dent on license revenue. It has not yet switched to a service 
model. (Unlike say, IBM and its Global Services.) Hence 
the savageness of their counter-attacks to the whole notion 
of zero-cost licensing and open source. The key location 
now, on the value chain, for many companies and their soft- 
ware products is further downstream. After the delivery, it 
is the service that counts, as my local automobile dealership 
likes to say in its ads. (And my dealer now sells more than 
one brand of car!) 


The solution stack 

Customers don't just buy software. They often need a 
"stack" to make it all work. In general they need hardware, 
an operating system, a communication mechanism, perhaps 
DBMS), and finally a purchased 
or in-house developed application suite. Stack control is 


a storage solution (i.e. 


something vendors, (both hardware and software), have 





Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 49 


WORD WORLD 





Fig. 1: How the price of the software stack has evolved over 
the last three decades 








The last three decades 


wrestled over, with advantage shifting in the last decade to 
the operating systems vendors. 


Stack control is something vendors, 
(both hardware and software), have 
wrestled over, with advantage shifting in 
the last decade to the operating systems 
vendors 


Readers of this article may be too young to know, but in the 
80's the mini-computer manufacturers (DEC, DG, Prime, 
etc) created a brand new market and competed with the 
much higher priced IBM mainframes. Their value propo- 
sition was a lower “cost of entry" for those companies that 
needed to use computers. They targeted the enterprise needs 
of medium sized businesses and the departmental level com- 
puting needs of the Fortune 1000 companies. They repli- 
cated the model of the mainframes and tried to provide ver- 
tically integrated solutions. (A solution in those days was 
likely to be FORTRAN on a VAX!) АП users were trapped 
on the underlying hardware. This tight coupling enabled 
the vendors to move their margins around, using bundled 
prices. Compilers, development tools, even the operating 


systems were all priced attractively to enable clients to keep 
their high-priced hardware investment protected. Hardware 
services and upgrades were high-margin, cash cows. 
Third-party software vendors often rounded out the solution 
stack, but even they were trapped. They had to minimize the 
range of supported platforms for their products, as their de- 
veloper skills were not sufficiently portable. Understanding 
how important skill portability was, Oracle built a business 
model, trying to ensure that at least its users were masked 
from many of the variables of proprietary platforms, by cre- 
ating a database product that was comparable from a devel- 
oper viewpoint and yet spanned many platforms. But it was 
hard work. However, there was value for their clients and 
Oracle priced their product accordingly. By having Oracle, 
as part of the solution set, companies could demand better 
prices from the hardware vendors and more than offset the 
Oracle pricing premium. 

The users, their third-party hardware vendors (disks, mem- 
огу, printers, terminals etc.), and their third-party software 
vendors, all knew they were unable to grow and leverage 
competition, with the major system vendors locking in their 
customer base. Through pressure, and the role of IT stan- 
dards, for both hardware and software, key pieces of the 
monolithic systems began to fracture. Vendors were forced 
to support both their own standards and public standards. 
Eventually public standards dominated selection criteria. 
Users forced vendors to remove margins from their hard- 
ware pricing. Luckily, manufacturing technology and VLSI 
had combined to create margins that could be reduced sig- 
nificantly. Lower pricing led to market growth. Addition- 
ally, the larger market, with more standards, and some com- 
modity priced components, reduced the risk and entry cost 
for new competitors. With bigger pie, lower prices, more 
choice, the market was hard at work. Those who attempted 
to protect their market, shrunk. Those who exploited the 
new standards grew, albeit with reduced margins. Value was 
being created for the consumer. 

This article is about open source software, so let's focus on 
some of the software aspects. 

In the 90% UNIX had transformed many third-party soft- 
ware and in house development teams. Thanks to Bell Labs 
there was now a multi-hardware, somewhat open, operat- 
ing system. As implemented by the vendors it was still not 
quite a uniform operating system, but sufficient enough to 
encourage its use as a primary target. The consequence of 





50 Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 


WORD WORLD 





this was that, operating system related skills now became 
more portable. Switching costs (amongst competing ven- 
dor UNIX versions) were now reduced for users. Switch- 
ing software assets to new platforms was a reduced porting 
activity, as opposed to a major code rewrite. Third-party 
software developers could support more platforms for the 
same amount of effort. Vendors still tried to differentiate 
their O/Ss but they no longer had a lock. Price points were 
dropping for all products. 

At this time a new phenomenon in software was also occur- 
ring. Universities and government research agencies were 
offering their code to other researchers and users for a nom- 
inal fee, usually the cost of the media and shipping. Such 
software usually ran on UNIX, (BSD UNIX was a preferred 
version), was unsupported, was licensed as "public domain" 
and expected a level of sophistication by the user if it was to 
be leveraged. Nevertheless the principle of sharing knowl- 
edge by sharing code had taken hold. This behaviour was 
reinforced by the hundreds of years of academic tradition in 
the sharing of and building on each other's knowledge. 

In the late 80's IBM opened up the hardware architecture 
of PC and perhaps unwittingly not only created a new mar- 
ket, i.e. the desktop, but also offered hardware suppliers a 
level playing field in a growing market segment. The vol- 
ume of PC component parts would now move hardware to 
its commodity phase. The third phase of the declining cost 
of systems was underway, and was now hardware driven. 
The OS was still a lock as far as Microsoft was concerned 
so they could leverage their position of power. They mar- 
keted their position in the middle as an island of stability, 
keeping hardware and software vendors in line with their 
APIs and compliance requirements. However in the 90's as 
both hardware and layered software prices continued down- 
wards, under competitive pressures, the Microsoft offerings 
became more visible as a larger percentage of the solution 
stack. Their position in the stack made them now a tar- 
get. Even hardware vendors, who had grown from nowhere 
in the previous 10 years, resented that most of the revenue 
dollars for systems shipped now went to Microsoft, who 
seemed immune to pricing pressures. 

IT was still creating value, year after year. The US Bureau 
of Economic Statistics still showed tremendous value was 
being derived from the IT dollar, as shown below. 

Their numbers were still demonstrating that since 1996 a 
40% increase in spending had resulted in 9696 improve- 


Fig. 2: The value derived from the IT dollar 











ments in systems capability. Nearly all the value was com- 
ing from manufacturing efficiencies in systems hardware 
including networking, products and services. (Networking 
value was coming about as the telecom industry was dereg- 
ulated. Another seismic market shock!) 


What would be the next big driver of value? 


Well for a start, the systems vendors now had some options. 
Windows NT was supposed to be the UNIX killer. But it did 
nothing of the kind. What's more UNIX had transitioned 
and extended from vendor chips (IBM, SGI, Sun, Digital) 
to running on hardware that previously had been Microsoft's 
exclusive domain, (known as Wintel). Sun's "Solaris on In- 
tel” had made a brief run at the Microsoft position on the In- 
tel architecture, but suspicions about Sun's long term com- 
mitment (as later justified by the brief time into its life when 
it appeared that it might be discontinued) and pricing model 
made it stall. SCO's UNIX ran on the Intel architecture, but 
its pricing model seemed intended to compete with the likes 
on AIX on PPC, Solaris on SPARC, and Tru64 on Alpha. 
It was not a direct threat to the Microsoft price point. BSD 
UNIX had been around for a long time but seemed unable 
to get real market traction. It seemed as though something 
else was needed to give it that nudge over the top. Linux 
was just that. It was gathering momentum at the right time. 
It was new and fresh, without the AT & T history and intel- 
lectual property encumbrances, was open source, and it also 





Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 51 


WORD WORLD 





had a lead developer in Linus Torvalds. He removed some 
of the anonymity of UNIX and gave it a face and a voice. 
He was somewhat unassuming compared with the boister- 
ous and gregarious spokespeople of Microsoft, Oracle, Sun, 
HP etc. Software developers could identify with him. 
Linux, combined with other open source layered products, 
was also creating its own solution stack. This was not a con- 
sumer oriented solution stack but was initially targeted at the 
software engineers assembling technical solutions and tai- 
loring the stack. AII this was facilitated by the internet and 
the low cost hardware resulting from the Wintel solution 
stack, which was forever demanding more memory, faster 
chips, and more storage. The irony was that systems that 
could no longer run the Wintel combo were finding new life 
with Linux. Linux and its apps were not as resource inten- 
sive. Linux could better protect a user's hardware invest- 
ments. In order to use Linux you did not need new hard- 
ware, you could deploy on systems that were being retired 
from Windows use. Linux was freeing up capital for other 
uses closer to the users needs. 


It's difficult for the vendors to attack open 
source products. You don't win friends 
and clients by telling them they have an 

ugly child! 


In the meantime the ease with which open source projects 
could grow was now a force. The market was organizing 
an assault on the software stack. Below is a comparison 
of the old model of open source with today's open source 
development model. 


Old 


Share ware/freeware/Public Domain. 
Cost of Media — 1800 BPI tape. 
Unsupported - use at your risk. 


Government research — most likely 1st generation 
code. 


Government Projects (NASA) — useful only for narrow 
markets. 


University orientation — knowledge flowed freely (as 
long as you were referenced). 


Geographically tight teams — not yet a global village. 


e Lacking in infrastructure - expensive resources and 
vendor donated equipment came with strings attached. 

e Went stale quickly, once research funds ran out. 

e Pretty much shunned by business. 


New 


Business strategy by major players. 


Carefully licensed to ensure the code base grows. 


Professionally packaged / supported / frequent release 
cycles. 

e Service oriented - value and cost shift back to user con- 
trol. 


Sophisticated development teams who are also users. 
Infrastructure enabled. 


This last point meant: 


1. Good & plentiful standards / lessons learned. 

2. Email, instant messaging, free machine cycles, self 
documenting tools. 

3. Newsgroups, SourceForge, Slashdot, virtual commu- 
nities, access to experts. 

4. Fast reliable download sites, mirrors, easy network ac- 
cess, plenty of bandwidth. 

5. O'Reilly publishing. 


Scratching that Itch 


Developers had always had itches. Now they had the col- 
lective means to scratch. 

In regards to fighting back, the vendors were in a co- 
nundrum. The large proprietary software vendors were 
used to attacking their competitors (usually other vendors) 
with fear, uncertainty and doubt. When users, who were 
their customers, became collectively, their competitors, then 
things became a lot different. It’s difficult for the vendors 
to attack open source products. You don’t win friends and 
clients by telling them they have an ugly child! If we are 
a society that values ownership, then surely we should feel 
more ownership of our open source projects than in some- 
thing we licensed. Licensing doesn’t convey a feeling of 
ownership. Quite the opposite, it is restrictive. 
Furthermore, it wasn’t easy for proprietary vendors to com- 
pete once an open source product was in use at a com- 
pany. Proprietary vendors need a very compelling value 





52 Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 


WORD WORLD 





Fig. 3: What the new productivity curve for information 
technology systems will look like (in my opinion) 











proposition for their products, in order to convince some- 
one that something is so much better that they should now 
pay money for it. In essence, the competition point now 
shifted down the value chain to service and the cost of use. 
In that regards, Microsoft attacking Linux by focusing on 
total cost ownership (TCO) is the right approach. That's the 
issue now. However, with Microsoft employing the wrong 
math it can boomerang. Conversely the open source com- 
munity has to ensure it does not relax on its zero license 
cost laurels. Their products might be free to acquire, but 
have usage costs and have to earn their keep every day. 
Companies deploying open source solutions will derive im- 
proved yields from their IT dollars. The major new value 
from information systems will come from leveraging soft- 
ware, because of its position in the stack. Hardware has 
very little left to give. Open source has lot to offer because 
of its low entry cost and zero cost of replication. Therefore 
the implementers who have the most to gain are those with 
large scale systems, i.e. those projects that would usually 
require large numbers of licenses and thus fees. Previously 
large scale users paid a penalty as they replicated the same 
solution across many systems. Now conversely, they can 
benefit the greatest by deploying widely, but paying only 
for the services they need, one time. They are scaling up the 
value; but scaling down the cost. 


Ironically, once the decision to switch to an open source 


product is made, it behoves management to leverage it for 
as much value as they can. The community is now support- 
ing it. Every home-grown application, or feature, that isn't 
strategic to their business, that they can shift into the com- 
munity, results in lower internal costs. 


The new software market model 


In summary, the market is moving more into equilibrium, 
between buyer and seller. In the past, the software ven- 
dor held the advantage. Only the vendors knew and under- 
stood their products. They delivered binaries and patented 
or copyrighted their product to preclude you from working 
with its internals. 


Open source shifts the pricing power 
back to the users and shifts the value 
downstream to services 


Open source shifts the pricing power back to the users and 
shifts the value downstream to services. The new market 
will react to the following drivers: 


e Good software engineering knowledge and practices 
are becoming more widespread. People are no longer 
intimidated by technology. 

e More standards, which will minimize overall risk. 
Most importantly though, they will emerge earlier in 
the technology cycle, where they can help more. 


More prevalent, well-documented, software patterns 
solving re-occurring problems. They will be modeled, 
coded and ready for use in public community groups. 
Public components will be the new piece-parts of soft- 
ware systems. 

e OO software continues to dominate with its support for 
easy extensions to applications, because of its ability to 
mask what you do not need to know, and enable you to 
satisfy your unique needs. 


Open source projects will attract more companies offering 
commercial support. Their pricing power will be held in 
check by: 1) Competition amongst the support community 
itself (newsgroups); 2) The ability of end users to support 
themselves, should they elect to do so; and 3) The emer- 
gence of tiered, open source support, priced above the free 





Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 53 


WORD WORLD 





model of the newsgroup, i.e. low cost regional providers, 
and optional higher cost, higher quality, global providers. 


Some observations on the last three items: 


e Free support from the various communities is nice. It 
can get you going, but it's not timely or predictable, 
and it's often only one helpful person's opinion. It may 
not be backed up by others and you have no way of 
qualifying the quality of their answers. 

e Smart end users can support themselves. Once they 

invest the time. The first question the end user must 

ask is, “what is my internal cost per hour?" Followed 
by, “сап a commercial support organization do it more 
time effectively and more cost effectively?" Finally by; 

"is this really the best use of my employee's time?" 

Usually the answer on the second question is yes on 

both counts, or the commercial support organization 

does not have business model. It has to be better than 
you and faster than you. The customer has to be sat- 
isfied each and every time the support service is deliv- 
ered, or the next time the customer will go elsewhere. 

The answer to the first question is Adam Smith telling 

us his first rule of open markets is still at work. Price 

is still closely aligned with cost. 

Open source can allow local suppliers to set up shop 

easily and offer lower cost local support options in 


the local language and currency. This mitigates some 
travel expenses, avoids the delays in expertise arriving 
on site, and encourages small companies, in limited ge- 
ographies to try a locally supported but globally avail- 
able open source product. It does not seem as risky. 
Larger global companies are prepared to pay for con- 
sistent quality, support in depth, and as a result they 
go with the perceived leaders in the support commu- 
nity. The leaders have to establish a global reputation. 
One negative comment in a newsgroup can have ad- 
verse consequences. 


Conclusion 


Open source is correcting the imbalance between costs and 
pricing in the market for widely used, standards based soft- 
ware, in well understood problem domains, and where there 
is little opportunity for differentiation. The open source 
genie is now out of the lamp. The opportunity for higher 





profits has shifted to more of a service based model. This 
was inevitable. Open source products will be dominant 
over the long haul in the volume market. Rapidly grow- 
ing economies in Asia and South America will embrace 
and incorporate the lower cost model into their infrastruc- 
ture. The volume of their adoptions alone will overwhelm 
other numbers. Proprietary vendors will find themselves 
in a niche market or will be scrambling to reinvent their 
business model. Just open-sourcing their products will not 
work. They need to understand where the opportunity in 
their installed base exists to add value, and where to con- 
cede value to the open source products. 


Copyright information 


(c) 2005 by Malcolm D. Spence 

Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is 
permitted in any medium without royalty provided this no- 
tice is preserved. 


About the author 





54 Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 


Free software gets small 


The mouse that might roar 


Christian Einfeldt 


Clayton Christensen talks 


hen Clayton Christensen talks, CEOs lis- 
ten. Christensen is a Harvard School 
of Business Associate Professor who has 





CEOs re-thinking their growth strategies 
with his concept of disruptive technologies. 

Now Christensen is talking about free software gaining a 
greater market share by getting small. More specifically, by 
getting small and onto handheld devices. He suggested that 
Microsoft should seriously consider getting into the Linux 
space by buying or building a separate company to pursue 
disruption on BlackBerry-like devices. 

Simply put, a disruptive technology, in Christensen’s terms, 
is a business model (like Sony’s use of transistors in hand- 
held radios in the early 1960s) that taps a new market in 
ways that are not interesting to the market leader in any 
given industry. 


If Harvard Professor Christensen is right, 
tiny Softmaker just might turn out to be 
the mouse that roared 


For example, Honda's little SuperCub Motorcycles de- 
throned market leader Harley Davidson, who had sold big 
bikes to North Americans who used them to replace cars 
as general-purpose transportation vehicles. Harley David- 
son's customers rejected Honda's leaky little bikes, which 


broke down on trips out of town. Honda was on the verge of 
scrapping the SuperCub for North America when it found in 
the early 1960s that people would purchase its SuperCubs 
from sporting goods stores, where the motorcycles were 
sold as off-road vehicles. Within 20 years, Honda owned 
the North American motorcycle market, as Honda slowly 
eroded Harley Davidson's market share with low-cost al- 
ternatives. Harley Davidson has never recovered its former 
glory. 

Christensen has recently forecast a similar potential mar- 
ket share drop for desktop software market king Microsoft. 
And like the case of the Sony transistor radios or the Honda 
SuperCub, the market entrant, GNU/Linux, will find shelter 
off the beaten path, and won't make an initial frontal assault 
on the king. Christensen said that: 


“Where Linux takes root is in new applications, 
like Web servers and handheld devices. As 
those get better, applications will get sucked off 
the desktop onto the Internet, and that's what 
will undo Microsoft. As computing becomes 
Internet-centric, rather than LAN (local-area 
network)-centric, their stuff runs on Linux, 
because it's all new. As the BlackBerry becomes 
more capable, applications will get sucked onto it. 
Those are the kind of places where growth is. If 
Microsoft catches it, they'll be all right." (Source: 
Advice to Microsoft: Learn to Love Linux,” by 
Martin LaMonica, Cnet news.com, 2004/10/15, 


http://news.com.com/Advice+to+Microsoft+ 





Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 55 


WORD WORLD 





Learn+to+love+Linux/2100-7344_3- 
5411843. html) 


There are two disruptive technologies incubating out there 
that form the basis of an interesting partnership: OpenOf- 
fice.org (OOo), the free software alternative to Microsoft 
Office (MSO), and Softmaker, a small German start-up 
which is offering proprietary office solutions for the hand- 
held and the desktop. 


Will the mouse roar? 


OpenOffice.org by itself represents both a low-end dis- 
ruption and an emerging market disruption to Microsoft's 
market-leading MSO product. OpenOffice.org can be used 
by overshot customers in developing countries, who have 
the ability, but not the desire, to spend money for MSO up- 
grades. It can also be used by non-consumers in develop- 
ing countries, where the cost of MSO means that in many 
cases, the users’ only choices are a pirated version of MSO 
or OOo. StarOffice, Sun Microsystems’ commercial brother 
of OpenOffice.org, also offers a low-end disruption for com- 
panies that want the reliability and name brand of a deep 
pocket, but don’t want or need the greater integration with 
Windows offered by MSO. 


Softmaker, the German start-up, offers 
format compatibility currently with MSO, 
and its CEO, Martin Kotulla, has publicly 
stated that the company plans to release 
filters for OOo, and has made significant 

progress along those lines 


Softmaker, the German start-up, offers format compatibil- 
ity currently with MSO, and its CEO, Martin Kotulla, has 
publicly stated that the company plans to release filters for 
OOo, and has made significant progress along those lines. 
Mr Kotulla displayed his Textmaker and Planmaker prod- 
ucts, which are text processing and spreadsheet apps, re- 
spectively, at the 2004 Desktop Linux Summit in San Diego. 
Among other things, he touted his products’ small exe- 
cutable footprint of four MB. 

Microsoft does have a version of Word and Excel for hand- 
helds, but not for handhelds running Linux. OpenOffice.org 


has announced that a “Lite” version of its widespread of- 
fice suite will be made part of its global marketing strategic 
plan; but the OOo Lite version is still in the planning stages, 
and there is no incubator project for OOo Lite at the time of 
this writing. The birth of OOo Lite therefore doesn’t look 
particularly imminent. 


So the option of OOo working with 
Softmaker to solve this problem seems 
like a classic example of how a free 
software project can work well with a 
proprietary program to solve a problem 


If Softmaker does, in fact, release а OOo/SO filters, 
Softmaker's products seem to offer a natural fit for Sun's 
clear interest in competing for the desktop Linux space, and 
might offer a viable alternative to the proposed OOo/SO 
Lite. Sun has made its intent clear: to move into the 
desktop Linux space, for example, with Scott McNealy's 
announcement at Comdex 2003 that it had secured a deal 
(http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi? 
f=/c/a/2003/11/18/BUGRM34CUC1.DTL) with the 
government of China and the China Standard Software 
Co. Ltd., for distribution of the Java Desktop System 
code in the world’s most heavily populated nation. In 
June 2004, Sun has also announced that it had won a 
deal (http://www.zdnet.com.au/insight/ 
toolkit/businessapps/opensource/0, 
39024866,39149910,00.htm) for the distribu- 
tion of StarOffice seats in 72 public and parochial schools 
in the Canadian Province of Ontario, covering a total of 
2.5 million students there. Students in Germany have, for 
several years now, received instruction in the use of both 
Microsoft Office and StarOffice. 

Sun is not alone in eyeing the free software desktop, of 
course. Novell, which recently acquired both Ximian and 
SuSE, is also positioning itself for strong desktop competi- 
tion. Novell has contributed code to the OOo project, and 
quite far along in switching to using OOo as its default office 
suite in-house. Hewlett-Packard has recently announced the 
availability of SuSE GNU/Linux pre-installed on its new 
nx5000 notebook, which includes OOo. Linspire has part- 
nered with a Canadian start-up called Sub500.com for the 
delivery of Linspire's distro on competitively priced desk- 





56 Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 


WORD WORLD 





tops and notebooks, also with OOo preinstalled. 

So the option of OOo working with Softmaker to solve 
this problem seems like a classic example of how a free 
software project can work well with a proprietary program 
to solve a problem. Here, both Softmaker's products and 
OOo/SO represent low-end disruptive technologies from the 
Microsoft point of view. 

From Softmaker's point of view, OOo represents a sustain- 
ing technology, once it gets filters in place for its PDA- 
capable products. Softmaker's best customers (including 
me) will be willing to pay a premium for the functional- 
ity of being able to use files created with the world's dom- 
inant free software suite (ООо/5О) on a handheld, because 
OOo/SO are currently “not good enough" for that applica- 
tion, as they are too big. 

There are tens of million of ООо/5О users already, and that 
number continues to grow rapidly. Once the OOo filters are 
in place, Softmaker stands to find a ready market of non- 
consumers in that emerging market who have pent-up de- 
mand for using OOo on their handhelds. I am a classic case 
in point. I refuse to buy a handheld until I can get my free 
software files working on it. Period! Lots of other appli- 
cations currently work on handhelds, but not OOo. I and a 
million or so of my best friends are just sitting back, wait- 
ing for the opportunity to view, modify and save our files on 
a convenient handheld device, because our batteries on our 
notebooks are limited, and a notebook is too heavy to lug 
around. Yet I need my data in court, on planes, taxis, buses, 
anywhere I have significant down time. 

Currently, I just grumble and do without access to my data, 
because I don't want to use MS Word/Excel on a handheld, 
for a wide variety of reasons, which basically boil down 
to the fact that I am too cheap to purchase a copy of the 
Microsoft products for that purpose, and of course copying 
without paying is not an option. So ГЇЇ wait. 

In fact, pursuing non-consumption on handhelds would be 
directly in line with OOo's recently announced marketing 
plan: 


“Try to compete against non-consumption: cus- 
tomers who are currently unable to use currently 
available products at all, either because they can't 
afford them or are too inexperienced to use them. 
These markets have the most potential because 
these customers will compare your product to 


having nothing at all, and so will be thrilled to buy 
it even if it's inferior to currently available prod- 
ucts.” (Source: Clay Christensen and Michael 
Raynor, The Innovator's Solution, p. 11, Harvard 
Business School Publishing Corp., 2003.) 


Also, Microsoft doesn't have a lock on the handheld market 
as they do with the desktop. This is a real opportunity for 
Softmaker/OOo/SO to gain market share, because each of 
those products has cross-platform capability. A partnership 
like Softmaker/OOo/SO has а real opportunity to get the 
lead on handhelds. 


If Grameen can do it, then why not a 
partnered team of Softmaker and Sun? 
Or Softmaker and Novell? Or Softmaker 

and IBM or HP? Or Sun and Sun? 


There's a precedent in Bangladesh 


There is a precedent for this kind of emerging mar- 
ket disruptive growth: the case of Grameen Telecom in 
Bangladesh. This is an extensive quote from the Christensen 
team's most recent book, Seeing What's Next: 


“While most of us in the developed world take 
our phone service for granted, almost half of the 
world lacks reliable telecommunications service. 
In some areas, the cost to build or extend a wire- 
line infrastructure is prohibitive. It would require 
charging people close to their annual incomes to 
make telephone calls. Enter disruption." 


“Where most firms would see a hopeless situa- 
tion, Grameen Telecom saw an opportunity. Its 
approach? Bring wireless service to the country's 
poor. It loaned up to $175.00 each to women 
who became known as the *wireless women of 
Grameen.’ The loan covered the mobile phone’s 
cost, training, and a small solar recharging unit. 
The women could then sell phone usage on a per- 
call basis at an affordable price to other villagers." 


“Users love the service. It is convenient and 


cheap. It allows farmers to get vital informa- 


tion such as crop prices without travelling great 





Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 57 


WORD WORLD 





distances. They can place orders with distribu- 
tors without relying on the postal system. Esti- 
mates of per-call savings are up to $10.00 - al- 
most 10 percent of household monthly income. 
The program has other benefits as well. People 
travel less, saving wear and tear on shoddy roads 
[and the travellers’ meagre cars and gasoline sup- 
plies too]. Phone operators earn $300.00 a year. 
They plough this money back into education and 
health care, increasing the country's human capi- 
tal. Their status in the village increases consider- 
ably.” 


“So the operators are happy and the users are 
happy. What about Grameen? Its business model 
allows it be very profitable.” 


(Clayton Christensen, Scott Anthony, and Erik 
Roth, “Seeing What’s Next’, Harvard Business 
School Publishing Corporation, 2004, pp. 219- 
220) 


Of the world’s six billion people, five billion live in coun- 
tries with average annual incomes under US$10,000.00. 
That provides a huge opportunity for a someone to address 
the needs of a group like the “wireless women" to sell ac- 
cess to farmers who not only want to phone in orders, but 
want to keep track of their orders from year to year, so they 
don't have to reinvent the wheel. If Grameen can do it, then 
why not a partnered team of Softmaker and Sun? Or Soft- 
maker and Novell? Or Softmaker and IBM or HP? Or Sun 
and Sun? etc. 


Conclusion 


While the critics of Sun's deals argue the significance of 
the bottom-line results from Sun's successes abroad with 
StarOffice and JDS, these Sun deals do lay the foundation 
for linkage between Sun's core infrastructure offerings with 
a more dynamic presence on the desktop. The immediate 
presence of tiny Softmaker on the handheld space provides 
at least one plausible case scenario for Sun, or another ma- 
jor Linux player to provide the key linkage with a handheld 
office package. Softmaker's product is itself, currently pro- 
prietary and closed, but Sun has shown an ability and an 


affinity for acquiring a proprietary solution and either open- 
ing the code, as Sun did with OOo (which it bought from 
German start up Star Division); or seeding diverse appli- 
cations with easily obtainable code such as its Java code, 
which can be found on everything from PDAs up to enter- 
prise applications. 

If Harvard Professor Christensen is right, tiny Softmaker 
just might turn out to be the mouse that roared. 


Bibliography 


[1] The story on Sun's deal with the Ontario schools 
(http://www.zdnet.com.au/insight/ 
toolkit/businessapps/opensource/0, 
39024866,39149910, 00. htm). 


[2] The story on Sun's JDS deal with China (http: 
//stgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f= 
/c/a/2003/11/18/BUGRM34CUC1.DTI). 


Copyright information 


(c) 2005 by Christian Einfeldt 

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this 
document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation 
License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the 
Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no 
Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the 
license is available at http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html. 


About the author 








58 Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 


Preeasan 1ree.speech ог Tree 
as In? freedabour ? 


A philosophical enquiry into_tree,culture 


David M. Berry 


ree software sustains and enables the internet. 
Across the world, people continue to freely con- 
tribute ideas and expertise to an important and 
growing movement. The internet itself was 
largely born out of a culture of contributing code and con- 
tent in an electronic public “space” of global proportions. 
This has meant that the constellation of software supporting 
the internet, and the content that sits upon it, is to a large de- 
gree, non-market, peer-produced and free (as in "freedom" 
and as in “еег”). But, why do people code, hack, test, write 


and create free culture? 


None of the current theories give a 
satisfactory answer to the questions 
raised, namely: why do coders, users 
and lots of amateur artists contribute to 
free culture projects? 


Free labour sustains the free software and free culture move- 
ments, and yet we're still pretty much in the dark as to 
why people do it. Indeed, this question continues to puz- 
zle many people who find it difficult to fit into traditional 
concepts related to production. Theorists and researchers 
have used a number of approaches: from individualistic or 
psychologistic theories, which usually end up identifying 
personal preferences or "motivations"; to concepts of fric- 
tionless information or institutional frameworks; essential- 
ist claims about humans; gift economics; free-market eco- 


nomics; bazaars; theories of public-goods; and even the 
concept of “fun” itself, in an attempt to explain it. But ul- 
timately, the explanatory factors continue to be shrouded 
in mystery. None of the current theories give a satisfac- 
tory answer to the questions raised, namely: why do coders, 
users and lots of amateur artists contribute to free culture 
projects? 

This article examines free software and free culture, to- 
gether with the concepts that Hannah Arendt presents in 
The Human Condition, to outline some of the key aspects 
of labour within what Yochai Benkler calls “peer-produced 
commons production". It questions whether there is more 
than just simple motivational factors at work underneath 
the surface of the so-called *Hacker Ethic". Indeed, mak- 
ing "things" is usually classified outside the realm of the 
life world, and the question of free-software problematises 
some of our common-sense impressions of what work qua 
work actually is. 


Free as in "software" 


The dynamics of software production are complex, and the 
resources required to sustain it are expensive, in terms of 
equipment and basic necessities, but also in terms of the 
wider economics of the computing industry. Software de- 
velopment is hugely profitable and employs a large num- 
ber of people involved in labour intensive, complex and 
demanding work, which is exploited using copyright and 
patent monopolies. This, in turn, generates large profit mar- 





Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 59 


WORD WORLD 





gins and, as can be seen from salary levels, rewards many 
programmers handsomely. However, software program- 
ming remains a labouring activity; in other words, the ac- 
tivity undertaken by the programmer is exchanged for their 
wages. The product of this labour, code, is alienated and 
appropriated by the employing company. 

Free software, on the other hand, is produced outside of the 
office-factory - indeed, it is freely produced and contributed 
to projects that have many features in common. They are 
owned, if they can be said to be owned at all, by everyone, 
and it is freely available to be taken and used — although 
sometimes restricted by license requirements, such as the 
GNU General Public License (GPL). This code is produced 
neither wholly as a job nor as a hobby. But its commons- 
based approach means that it is never wholly appropriated 
or alienated from the producer either. 

This raises two related issues about contemporary free soft- 
ware development that this article intends to examine: (1) 
Why free-software is undertaken by programmers; and (2) 
whether free-software points toward a different relationship 
with the “work of our hands" and the possibilities for eman- 
cipation from necessity. 

Hannah Arendt's distinctions between Labor and Work of- 
fers useful concepts that can help in understanding why free 
software is produced and can contribute to further under- 
standing of the activities associated with it. As Arendt ex- 
plains in The Human Condition, the etymology of the two 
words, Labor and Work, casts light on the fact that although 
today we use them synonymously, this wasn't always so. 
John Locke, for example, drew a distinction between “work- 
ing hands" and “laboring bodies" and this has some resem- 
blance to the ancient Greek distinction between “the crafts- 
man" and the work of "slaves". This bifurcation of the pro- 
cess of production has also been mirrored in the distinction 
between manual and intellectual labour and the correspond- 
ing connotations and values we have associated between 
them. 

Arendt explains that in classical times, Labor was associ- 
ated with contempt, an activity that left no trace, no mon- 
ument, no great work worthy of remembrance. Labouring 
was for those who, like “slaves and tame animals with their 
bodies, minister to the necessities of life". In order that we 
could become political - i.e. that which distinguished us 
from animals — we had to escape from necessity. Today, 
the production of labour is the production of the masses, 


and Marx notwithstanding, it has historically been feared by 
the owning or thinking classes — controlled and channelled 
through overcoding structures that have been able to appro- 
priate their productivity. Think, for example, of the school, 
the hospital and the assembly lines for the mass produced 
cars, producing what Foucault termed the docile bodies of 
the workers. These workers performed a fraction of the en- 
tire process of production and were thereby alienated from 
their labour. By being forced to work by necessity (i.e. to 
enable them to buy food and shelter) meant that they were 
not able to become fully human; alienated from the prod- 
ucts of their own hands, unable to act or think politically 
and easy to control. 


In contrast, Arendt argues that for those who Work — who 
"work upon" rather than “labor and mix with" — there is 
the possibility for the beginnings of reflexive behaviour (i.e. 
becoming self-conscious acting beings). Work for Arendt, 
produces durability, the products of work do not disappear 
but give our common lives stability and solidity — think, for 
example, of a table passed down generation to generation, 
contrasted with labouring in a field which would leave no 
such trace. For Plato, Poiesis, as making or fabrication, 
showed that the craftsman had within his mind an idea that 
could be shaped to a conscious material design: a creative 
act of production in the physical world. Where Labor only 
produces for the consumption or necessity of the labourer, 
Work creates something durable that will last (for now leav- 
ing aside the problematic ontological question of the status 
of source-code's obduracy). This is important because it is 
only by escaping necessity (i.e. the constant requirement to 
produce things we need) that we can begin to communicate 
and become human as political animals. For Arendt, Work 
is a prerequisite for the possibility of Action — the realm 
of great deeds and great words. As memorably related by 
Homer, Achilles was remembered for his Action - not for 
his need to satisfy his hunger and clothe his body. 


To work for necessity, as many of us do in contemporary 
consumer society, would be classified by Arendt as labor. 
In fact, Arendt argues that we have become a laboring soci- 
ety; in other words, we have succeeded in levelling all hu- 
man activities to the common denominator of securing the 
necessities of life and providing for their abundance. There- 
fore, whatever we do, we do for the sake of “making a liv- 
ing". Anything that cannot be classified as part of making 
a living becomes a “hobby”, subsumed under playfulness 





60 Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 


WORD WORLD 





Fig. 1: "Arendt art by Trine Bjgrkmann Andreassen 





or non-serious activities. Our society is now shaped by the 
importance of producing objects for consumption, and the 
drive for profitability encourages the production of objects 
that simply wear out as quickly as possible. Living for ne- 
cessity was the life of animals — the Greeks even derive their 
word for torture from necessity (the realm of labour) and 
not from violence (the realm of war) and in ancient soci- 
eties torture could not be applied to Free Men, it could only 
be applied to labouring men or slaves who were subject to 
necessity anyway. 


We have become a labouring society; in 
other words, we have succeeded in 
levelling all human activities to the 
common denominator of securing the 
necessities of life and providing for their 
abundance 


Because life depends upon it, necessity is an extremely pow- 
erful drive. By directing our labour towards necessity, cap- 
italism is able to reproduce itself as a social system. But 
free software seems more akin to the realm of Work than 
the realm of Labor, it lies to a certain extent outside of 
the market. Its commons-based production and the action 
of its producers seem to be less concerned with necessity 
than building durable, lasting things (the code). The care 


that goes into much free software production contributes to 
its craftsmanship — the production of code is in many ways 
“public”, and the source code can be read and admired by 
others, in this respect it seems to be similar to a great speech 
or a work of art. 


Free as in “freedom” 


The second question this article asks is whether free soft- 
ware points toward a different relationship with the work of 
our hands and the possibilities for emancipation from ne- 
cessity. Indeed, free software is not directly linked to ne- 
cessity, and is in many ways similar to the creation of an 
artist — who Arendt identified as the only real “worker” left 
in society. She argued that we will not be free until we re- 
alise that we are subject to necessity and liberate ourselves 
from it. Whilst we are forced to “make a living” we will 
always be caught in a never-ending spiral of laboring and 
consuming. As technology creates more “spare time” the 
resulting shaping of our desires by the advertising indus- 
try makes us greedier and more craving of our appetites - 
met only by consumption of the consumer goods before us. 
Free software is created here, strangely enough in the space 
of consumption. However, it differs, as it is productive and 
creative. To create free culture is to contribute toward cul- 
ture rather than consume (i.e. destroy it). 

The possibilities offered by free culture are not (yet) com- 
pletely linked or mediated through the operation of cor- 
porations and necessity. People can still write code, blog 
and share their thoughts on the web, and this act of shar- 
ing is also one of communication. However, it is a frag- 
ile space that seems similar to the temporary autonomous 
zones (TAZ) popularised by Hakim Bey. Will the creators of 
free culture and free software allow it to be overcoded, con- 
trolled and channelled towards consumption? Clearly, the 
vast resources that corporations bring to bear on projects of- 
ten crush resistance to a bureaucratic mentality. Inevitably, 
the creators often have different sentiments to those who 
seek to make money, and eventually they come into conflict 
with the instrumental rationality of corporations (who aim 
for profit maximising). Some worrying examples include: 
the continuing commercialisation of the internet; IBM's for- 
ays into the Linux kernel; and even the colonisation of blog- 
ging and photosharing. 

If we begin to view free software and open source no longer 





Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 61 


WORD WORLD 





purely for necessity or instrumentally (i.e. as not just a possibility for decentralised, non-market commons-based 
technical activity) we can reposition it within the realm of production, within which may lie the seeds of a new poli- 
human creativity. If free software lies outside the sphere tics — the politics of the commons. 

of labor, following Arendt, then perhaps, we can begin to 

understand it as a possible prerequisite for the beginning 

of political activity. Free software is interesting in that it Copyright information 

seems to contribute towards the conditions of possibility for 

Work and Action — for humans to perform great deeds, and (су 2005 by David M. Berry 


through the code to speak and create a trace or memory. This article is made available under the "Attribution- 


For instance, Mathew Fuller's concept of Critical Software ^ Share-alike” Creative Commons License 2.0 available from 


aims to act politically, to subvert existing codes and to give http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/. 
agency and freedom to the usually passive user. Similarly, 

free software, by giving away the source-code, simultane- 

ously gives agency to the producer and the user opening the 

possibilities for Action rather than directing and controlling 

the user — e.g. think of the way a word processor can control About the author 


the user by “suggesting” spellings and grammar. 











The realm of economics and markets is the sphere of neces- 
sity — you do not have the freedom to act, creatively or polit- 
ically as an agent. Conversely, free software and free culture 
seem to be constituted communicatively (i.e. as a conversa- 
tion between volunteers), and could, therefore, open the 


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Richard. Stallman's blog 


Selected entries from Richard’s blog 
(http: //www.fsf .org/blogs/zrms/). 


Richard Stallman 


Response to Fox News Article (January 31, 
2005) 


im Prendergast’s recent article mistakenly called 
me a “leader in the open source community". While 
I appreciate the praise that might be read into that 
expression, it is not the case: I do not advocate 
"open source" and never did. I founded the Free Software 
Movement in 1984. 
price; specifically the freedom to redistribute and change 


"Free", here refers to freedom, not 


the software you use. With free software, the users control 
the software; with non-free software, the developer has con- 
trol of the software and its users. 


While Microsoft calls GNU/Linux dirty 
names like “unamerican” and 
“communist”, other presumably capitalist 
corporations such as IBM and Apple 
both use and contribute to GNU. 


To win freedom, we developed the GNU/Linux operating 
system, now used on tens of millions of computers. While 
Microsoft calls GNU/Linux dirty names like “unamerican” 
and “communist”, other presumably capitalist corporations 
such as IBM and Apple both use and contribute to GNU. 

The article misstated my views when it said I am "against 
intellectual property". That term has no meaning except a 
confused mishmash of copyright law, patent law, and trade- 


mark law, and using the term leads people to simplistic, ex- 
treme, confused views. To be either for or against "intellec- 
tual property" is equally foolish. We can encourage careful 
thinking by rejecting that simplistic slogan. 

In US law, copyright is a deal between the public and au- 
thors: the public sold the freedom to republish, which only 
publishers could do anyway, and gained more progress. 
Progress is valuable, but freedoms that we want to use are 
even more valuable. Nowadays, that includes the freedom 
to share copies on the internet. To make copyright law a 
good deal for the public, we should scale it back. If this 
means some companies and a handful of superstars make 
less than their wildest dreams, Prendergast may be shocked, 
but Adam Smith would not have been. 


Sincerely, 
Richard Stallman 


Free Software Foundation 


Bolivia (January, 19 2005 to January, 27 2005) 


Visiting Bolivia provided an opportunity for me to spend a 
week with Tania. I had better explain that Tania isn't just my 
friend; she's my sweetheart. Since she lives in Colombia, it 
isn't easy for us to spend time together. I used frequent flier 
miles to get her a ticket to Bolivia while I was to be there. 
In arranging this trip, I agreed to go speak in Santa Cruz 
provided either I went there for a very short time or Tania 
could go with me. The day before going to Bolivia was 





Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 63 


WORD WORLD 





when I learned that the trip to Santa Cruz had been arranged 
for both of us together. 


| found that people had arranged a 
speech for me that afternoon at the vice 
presidency. The vice president was not 

at this meeting, but some government 
officials interested in free software were 
there 


Arriving after an early morning flight which required me to 
wake up around 4am Bolivia time, I found that people had 
arranged a speech for me that afternoon at the vice presi- 
dency. The vice president was not at this meeting, but some 
government officials interested in free software were there. 


(s) (http://www.fsf.org/blogs/rms/ 
entry-20050201) 


The next morning we went to the radio station at a univer- 
sity, and I did my interview. Then it was Tania's turn—she 
founded and manages a free software support company. As 
she was making her first remarks, I went to plug in my com- 
puter. There was a short circuit! The socket exploded in 
sparks for a second, and then the breaker operated and the 
whole studio went dark. My whole hand was covered by 
black soot, and part of my index finger was burnt. But my 
main thought was that I had just cut off Tania's interview. I 
felt somewhat ashamed of that. At the same time, the unex- 
pectedness of the situation made me want to laugh. 

But Tania had her interview after all. By the time I was able 
to wash my hand and put some burn cream and a bandage 
on my finger, they had got the studio running again. 


While putting on Saint IGNUcCius' tunic at 

the end, a motion of my arm caused the 

bandage to fly off my index finger. | said, 
"Look, a miracle!” 


My speech that afternoon was poorly attended. A lot of 
people had arranged to come to the conference the previous 
week, when my speech was supposed to be, but only a frac- 
tion of them could come at the new date. Nonetheless, it 
went well. While putting on Saint IGNUcius' tunic at the 


Fig. 1: Valle de la Luna 





end, a motion of my arm caused the bandage to fly off my 
index finger. I said, "Look, a miracle!" 

We went back to La Paz the next day without great difficulty. 
On my last day in Bolivia, I went with Tania to see the Valle 
de la Luna. When it rains, the water goes down through 
Some of my photos 
show a bridge; the bridge was built in a place where it is 


sinkholes into a subterranean river. 


possible to see down into the subterranean river. The guide 
told us it received that name after Neil Armstrong visited 
and said it reminded him of the moon. 


Copyright information 


(c) 2005 by Richard Stallman 

(The following license is effective immediately) 

Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is 
permitted in any medium without royalty provided this no- 
tice is preserved. 


About the author 








64 Free Software Magazine Issue 3, April 2005 





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