New Paul Graham essay on open source

What business can learn from open source

This reminds me a lot of how I feel about being in the lab:

The other problem with pretend work is that it often looks better than real work. When I’m writing or hacking I spend as much time just thinking as I do actually typing. Half the time I’m sitting drinking a cup of tea, or walking around the neighborhood. This is a critical phase– this is where ideas come from– and yet I’d feel guilty doing this in most offices, with everyone else looking busy.

It’s one of the primary reasons I’ve started doing a lot of work from home.

[Gentoo] More OSCON-ness

Got sidetracked from what happened all day Thursday by the party afterwards. I also finally got a chance to meet Stephen O’Grady of RedMonk, a small analyst firm with big clients. We’ve read each other’s blogs for a while. Steve uses Gentoo, and I’m trying to learn what we need to do to get people like him to push Gentoo to the businesses he consults for. Things like the installer, like web-based management, etc are the direction we need to move for this.

I’m always interested in what we can do for people like Steve, in return for him helping us out. If you use Gentoo and/or have any influence in pushing out deployments of Gentoo, shoot me an e-mail and let me know what we can do for you. If you can do anything for us, that’d also be good to know. =)

Corey and I spoke with Joseph Cohen, who’s behind GenUX. This relatively new company plans to take Gentoo on the enterprise to the next level, and has some interesting screenshots of a custom installer.

Ironically, Gentoo’s installer team has just announced an alpha release of its own installer. Both architectures sound quite similar, with essentially pluggable front-ends for possibilities of GUI, dialog/ncurses and CLI. Gentoo’s installer alpha comes with GTK, dialog and a simplistic CLI frontend.

X hackers Eric Anholt and Ian Romanick were both at OSCON too, and I was really hoping to meet them but our paths never intersected.

Afterwards, I was a tad depressed — although I did meet many great people, I’m just stuck on how many people I wasn’t able to meet. I really wish I were able to take the time and the money to head to LinuxWorld next week, but I’ve got a wedding to go to at the end of the month.

[Gentoo] OSCON summary

It was definitely worthwhile to head up to Portland for a couple of days (Sunday, then yesterday). Corey has already posted on both days, and we had pretty similar experiences.

What did I get out of Sunday, the FLOSS summit?

  • The Eclipse Foundation is another c6, like Gentoo.
  • Bank of America is worth checking out for groups that operate primarily online, because it has lots of things that most banks require you in person for.
  • American lawyers may have a poor understanding on how to deal with IP issues in other countries. (Shocker, isn’t it?)
  • We should think more about our trademarks.
  • Why do non-coders get involved in FLOSS? Similar reasons: Building a résumé, changing lives, doing good deeds, belief in our goals.
  • It’s easy to spend upwards of $15,000 registering trademarks internationally.
  • Trademark infringement is just likely confusion as to the source of a product, not actual confusion.
  • True statements are never trademark infringement; same goes for parody and editorial comment.
  • Open source and trademark licenses don’t mesh well, because an open-source license cannot retain quality control over derivative works. Therefore, you can lose the trademark.
  • The FSF’s interpretation of the GPL is not the gospel, regarding how a court would interpret it.
  • It’s possible to create a new copyright on a compilation of works (a collective work), even if all the works are individually copyrighted. This means that if someone takes a large chunk of a GPL compilation and turns it proprietary, the actual code authors aren’t required to go after them.
  • Private donations to a charitable organization can’t produce assets used for private gain.

How about yesterday?

  • Read Corey’s post.
  • Swik seems very cool; it’s sort of like freshmeat on crack — it’s a wiki that goes out and automatically finds all this info on any given open-source project, able to subscribe to feeds, etc. I talked to its creator yesterday — he said they were working on how to open source the actual code behind it, under which license, etc. Also, the next generation may heavily use Atom, since it can both read and write.
  • ThoutReader could really help searching for that annoying paragraph you know you saw in one of the Gentoo docs, but you just can’t remember which one it was in. Or when you can’t even find the doc on the Gentoo site because you don’t remember which section it’s in, etc.
  • Also met Pat Mochel, a very cool guy. He wrote sysfs, a lot of the new driver core, etc. I can’t find a blog for him, though. My fiancée and I are always on the lookout for other couples to hang out with, so I might have to give him a call since he’s right up in Portland.
  • Corey, I’ve gotta admit I wasn’t really paying any attention to Linus’s pool game — I was too busy trying not to lose my own.

[Gentoo] Xorg and the benefits of open source

I just woke up and checked my email; there was one from Dirk-Jan Heijs titled “x-modular/x11-libs.” It absolutely made my day — he emailed me a tarball of all the modular libraries ported to rc0 from the dated snapshots I’ve previously had.

The funny thing is, I only fixed the protocol headers around 12:30 last night, and he sent the e-mail around 4am this morning. I didn’t even sent out any e-mails about this, so he just happened to stop by my web space and notice that I’d ported the proto stuff but not the libs.

This speed reminds me of a blog post I read yesterday on getting a bug fixed in find, and makes me again love open source.

Dirk-Jan, you rock!

Gore returns to the Internet

Former vice president Al Gore decided to start some sort of cable TV/Internet mixture called Current, the sort of “talk back” TV that everyone was blabbing about years ago but never really happened.

One of the more intriguing parts for me:

There’s also a Google tie-in. Every half-hour Current will report news that is based on what people are searching for on Google at that very moment.