...making Linux just a little more fun!
By Jim Dennis, Ben Okopnik, Dan Wilder, Breen, Chris, and... (meet the Gang) ... the Editors of Linux Gazette... and You!
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Whew! One thing I can say, there was a lot of good stuff this month. There's so many good things to say and I just can't edit them all.
But don't you worry. We've got something for everyone this month. Newbies can enjoy a list of a bunch of apps designed to help setup be a little more fun (or at minimum, a little less headache). The intelligencia can see what the Gang thinks of some academic notions for the future of kernels. And everyone hungering for more about routing has something keen to get their teeth into. Experimenters... nice trick with two monitors, here.
In the world of Linux there's more to politicking than just the DMCA guys trying to get us to stop ever looking at "their" precious copyrighted works ever again. Among the Linux kernel folk there's snatches here and there of an ongoing debate about source code control systems. You see, BitKeeper has the power to do grand things... but for people who have not decided that they hate CVS, it's a bit of a pain to pull out small patches. For people who don't qualify to use BitKeeper under their only-almost-free license (you can't use it if you work for someone who produces a competing sourcecode control system, if I read things right ... thus anyone who works for RH shouldn't, et al.) this is a bad thing.
For that matter I'm a bit of a programmer myself, but if I'm going to even glance in the kernel's direction, I need much smaller peices to chew on, and I really didn't want to spend the better part of a month learning yet another source system. (Not being paid for doing so, being a guiding factor in this case.) I had to thrash around the net quite a bit to get a look at the much smaller portion of the whole.
So some of the kernel gang wrote some scripts to help them with using the somewhat friendly web interface (folks, these definitions of "friendly" still need a lot of work) and Larry threatened to close down bkweb if that bandwidth hit got too high. In my opinion, just about the worst thing he could have said at that moment - it highlights why people are trying to escape proprietary protocols - they want features, but Linux folk, having tasted the clean air of freedom, don't want to be locked indoors just because a roof over their code's head is good to have at times.
Don't get me wrong. Giant public mirrors of giant public projects are great things, and as far as I can tell BitKeeper is still committed to a friendly hosting of the 2.5.x kernel source tree, among a huge number of other projects. Likewise SourceForge. But we also need ways to be sure that the projects themselves can outlast the birth and death of companies, friendships, or the interest of any given individual to be a part of the project. The immortality of software depends on the right to copy it as much as you need to and store it anywhere or in any form you like. If the software you are using isn't immortal in this sense then neither are the documents, plans, hopes, or dreams that you store in it. More than the "viral freedom" clauses in the GPL or the "use it anywhere, just indemnify us for your dumb mistakes" nature of the MIT and BSDish licenses, this is the nature of the current free software movement. And you can quote me on that.
Readers, if you have any tales of your own escapes from proprietary environments into Linux native software, especially any where it has made your life a little more fun, then by all means, we'd love to see your articles and comments. Thank you, and have a great springtime.