Who do You Trust with Your Computing?

Some of you may have read my friend and collegue’s blog named “Blog of Helios” and visited his website lobby4linux.com enough to have understood what he has tried and is trying to accomplish with regards to Trusted Computing and Digital Rights Management. Many of you probably respect this approach and support it as I do. Others may not have any idea what I’m speaking of. Allow me to background a bit:

A few months back, despite life threatening illness, Ken aka helios DROVE from Texas to Washington D.C. to talk to congressmen and women about DRM and TC. He did this on a shoestring budget because he knew the Linux community was counting on him to do something about legislation (he had raised money for the trip and felt obligated to go)…and he’d made a promise. That kind of drive and compassion you don’t find much in people…sure they can have a great opinion about something…but many sit on their hands and shout the opinions. Actions speak louder than words and Ken aka Helios is FULL of action.

Helios was speaking out against trusted computing (TC) and Digital Rights Management (DRM) that is humming softly at the hardware and software level inside YOUR computer right now. That’s right! Chances are, it’s already made it on a chip on your and my motherboards…but it’s there. Soon, if what can happen does happen…we’ll all be so very unhappy at being told how we can and can’t operate our PCs.

Some of you may be asking, “what the heck are you talking about? They can’t tell me how I can use my computer inside my own home”. Unfortunately, that statement is false. DRM chips are already on a majority of motherboards and even built into some processors (viiv anyone?). All it takes is a flip of the switch and you’ll do what Microsoft or any other company that wants to manage your rights for you tells you to do whether you like it or not. That is, of course, unless you use Linux :) Linux has always been about choice…we choose to compute in ways WE want to…not ways that are defined for us. If we don’t like something, we code it different ourselves and then release the change…chances are, someone else thinks like you do and will like that change also. With Windows, that’s not possible…you’re locked from the start…so you’ll be locked to the finish as well.

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Cipherfunk.org, the GPL, and Ubuntu Contributors


Why oh why do people jump to conclusions without properly investigating things? I haven’t ranted in a while because, well, there’s really nothing to rant about as of late. However, this morning, I read this news article on violation of the GPL by a site called Cipherfunk.org. If you take a look at the article, it goes on to explain that Cipherfunk was offering patches to various bug reports in Ubuntu because Ubuntu hadn’t fixed the bugs (bugs listed: #36596, #38802…possible fixes for: #16873, #38181, #47775) quick enough for the likes of Cipherfunk. Interestingly enough, this is the beauty of Open Source right? If you don’t like how something works, you have the right to get the source code and fix it yourself! In this case, that is just what Cipherfunk.org did. So what’s the big stink about? Source Code and $$$.

The problem is that two Ubuntu contributors asked for Cipherfunk.org to comply with the GPL by removing cost associated with distribution of source code. This is harmless in itself and applauded by many in the community. However, it’s not the why they did it that is wrong…it’s the HOW they did it. How they did it is by first informing the Cipherfunk.org that it was wrong to charge $$ for the source, and second by touting various sections of the GPL where they believed Cipherfunk was in violation. Why is this wrong? Let’s examine things a bit.

The big stink everyone brought up is not that Cipherfunk WASN’T distributing the source code…but that Cipherfunk WAS CHARGING for the source code which they believed was in violation. However, having seen this same case (where Warren Woodford and MEPIS distribute their sourced code for a cost) I know for a fact that the GPL allows one to do this. But let’s take a look at the GPL shall we?


Does the GPL allow me to charge a fee for downloading the program from my site?
Yes. You can charge any fee you wish for distributing a copy of the program. If you distribute binaries by download, you must provide equivalent access to download the source–therefore, the fee to download source may not be greater than the fee to download the binary.

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Perspective is as Perspective Does

Perspective. It’s what separates one opinion from another. A person who looks at a glass that is half empty may be despondent but a person who looks at a glass half full may be full of joy. I like to think “Hey! Who the hell put that glass on this table anyway?”. We all have different ideas that shape who we are, what we do, and why we do it. Often, these ideas blend into our interests and hobbies. With free and open source software (namely Linux) we see this frequently…especially when debating on the subject of libre and free.

Often, it’s attitudes, egos, and intelligence that make this gap between users’ perspective even wider. What’s interesting about all of this philosophy and debate is that it is more prolific now than it was 10 years ago. Why? Well, more users of course! Linux and open source are enjoying a very large following currently. Add more users to the fray and you’re bound to get more perspective…for the good things and the bad.

Working with users at work who don’t even know how to place clipart in their MS Word docs (I sub in for helpdesk since we’re a smaller state agency) got me thinking the other day. Where does the new user fit in with this philosophy and debate? How are we to get their perspective across to programmers, developers, application hackers, and designers? The more I thought about it, the more I realized that Linux has arrived at a point unprecedented in history…when a Linux desktop is usable and productive. As Uncle Ben said in Spiderman 2, “with great power comes great responsibility”. I feel the community is being irresponsible on this…and yes, it is all about perspective. So please read on…let’s see if we can change your perspective a bit and close the gap between new users and advanced users.

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LinuxWorld Powered by Windows Part II

Some of you may remember a previous blog entry I penned that looked at Linuxworldexpo.com. In that entry, I discussed the fact that the website linuxworldexpo.com for the LinuxWorld Expo 2006, one of the largest Linux trade shows in the world, is powered by Windows Server.

Some comments on this article when it hit the newswires at Lxer were that it was spotted previously by a site member. I revisit some articles from time to time just to clean up appearance and layout (since I’ve migrated site themes, been doing this quite a bit) and I noticed that Linuxworldexpo.com isn’t the only website that is powered by Windows. LinuxWorld leaves many of its sites to be powered by Bill and the gang:

  1. Linuxworldexpo.co.uk (previously reported by theregister)
  2. Linuxworldexpo.com (netcraft report)
  3. linuxworldexpo.com.au (netcraft report)
  4. linuxworld.idg.se (netcraft report)
  5. linuxworldchina.com (netcraft report)
  6. linuxworld.dk (netcraft report)
  7. Linuxworldsummit.com (netcraft report)

Some of these sites above aren’t live… but most of them are from the same netblock, Level 3 Communitcations, Inc. Some side info to note: Level 3 is having SEC problems currently and the Yahoo Finance Boards are a hoppin with various messages with some predicting a huge fall and others comparing it to Worldcom. Now back to our subject. We’ve identified the netblock, but let’s get a bit deeper and find out other information.

A quick “jwhois linuxworldexpo.com” yields the following information:

Registrant:
International Data Group, Inc. (DOM-373431)
5 Speen Street Framingham MA 01701 US
Domain Name: linuxworldexpo.com Registrar Name: Markmonitor.com
Registrar Whois: whois.markmonitor.com
Registrar Homepage: http://www.markmonitor.com

Administrative Contact:
International Data Group, Inc. (NIC-14208833) International Data Group, Inc.
5 Speen Street Framingham MA 01701 US
legal@idg.com +1.5089354686 Fax- +1.5084244807
Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
Donna Moschella (NIC-14208849) IDG World Expo Corp.
3 Speen Street Framingham MA 01701 US
donna_moschella@idg.com +1.5084244801 Fax- -

Created on…………..: 1998-Sep-30.
Expires on…………..: 2007-Sep-29.
Record last updated on..: 2006-May-17 11:10:55.

Domain servers in listed order:

DNS1.EMARKMONITOR.COM
DNS2.EMARKMONITOR.COM

MarkMonitor.com – The Leader in Corporate Domain Management

A quick lookup on markmonitor.com and we see that it’s not really a host per se…but a domain management service provider. I did a quick search for Linux on their site which yields no results. This quick search doesn’t really tell us if LinuxWorld has a choice in the matter of hosting…it seems they’re given a platform on which to run via MarkMonitor.com through the Level 3 netblock. Taking a look at NetworkWorld, their parent company, we find a Linux Host? That’s a bit odd. Their old parent company IDG.com was always running on Windows but it seems they should have a choice for themselves (Linux and Windows hosting platforms) since their parent company is powered by Linux right? Are they letting their services purchased expire? Are we set to see mad changes for Linuxworld domains? Who knows. We can only comment on the current.

So one would hope that LinuxWorld would have the ability to ‘choose’ what platform to run on. It seems that this may not be the case. As stated, some of these sites don’t resolve aka they have no public face and resolve to nothing. If you’re an avid Linux enthusiast and think that any Linux News site should ‘walk the walk’ when they ‘talk the talk’ then LinuxWorld might be one of the places you avoid…at least until they can show that they deserve to wear the Linux name by hosting on Linux. Afterall, what would Microsoft.com hosted on Linux be? A laughing stock one could bet.

I do recall a time when LinuxWorld was one of the only magazines and sources for enterprise Linux news. It seems they’ve gone downhill quite a bit…according to alexa.com, their traffic has dropped through the floor during the past year. Not only that, but since the relaunch around the first part of June 2006 in which they were put under new ownership from Network World, they’ve had little activity on their website. For example, look at their <sarcasm>wildly active forums</sarcasm>…spammers don’t even try hard to post there…and why would they? Is anyone reading it?

Interestingly enough, macworldexpo.com is also running on Windows, which is silly to me as well. Oh well, life is full of conundrums right? Perhaps LinuxWorld being powered by Windows is meant to be? Who am I kidding! Roast those turncoats! lol.

Devnet

LinuxWorld, Powered by Windows?

Did anyone else catch this? According to The Register, the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo 2006 web page is running powered on Windows Server 2003?! That’s a bit odd…so I checked things out myself by visiting netcraft. Yep, they sure are. Very odd. You’d think that someone who runs a Linux website would make sure that the host they went with and the designers they hired to do the website were Linux people instead of Windows. In fact, if it were me, I’d make damn sure I did it that way.

I looked at their site report from Netcraft and saw that they have just changed within the last month. As I’ve spoken about in the past, some of these larger linux websites/news agencies have really gone down hill. I used to think LinuxWorld was a really great magazine/website. Then they go and pull something like this. Oddly enough, their website has been suffering as of late: According to Alexa, they’ve been on a steady decline since 2004. In fact, my lowly blog here has been garnering more traffic than their site according to Alexa. You do the math…if they can’t beat my silly little blog in traffic, they’re going out fast.

Don’t worry though, I at least have enough sense to always power this site with Open Source and on the Linux platform…even though my primary job is with Microsoft Windows 2000 and 2003 servers. I may be good at Windows AND Linux but I’m no sell out. I bet LinuxWorld wishes they could say the same. I’d cancel my tickets and reservations if you have a spot at that expo. Make sure you check out the heavy hitters that are there too and express your opinions to them on this subject.

The Dirt on Suspicious Digging at Digg.com…

It seems that being one of the top 500 visited websites in the world has gone to Digg.com’s head. Users are reporting that some articles that are submitted are being dugg by the same users in the same exact order to up their digg rating to get them on the front page.

When these users posted articles about this phenomenon, those articles are either deleted, the users are banned (Submitted & Banned Pics), or the story is buried (despite having 164 diggs at the time of this writing…not on the front page). There is even reports of users submitting an article who haven’t submitted before only to have another user who is ‘popular’ get the story posted despite posting it later. Digg.com is supposed to have a duplicate url system in place preventing this…

Now digg.com can do whatever they want with their website. In fact, they can bully all the other websites they want to. However, they can’t build their community on a Democratic, Users-vote-for-the-story-and-our-editors-don’t model and then just drop it. They need to follow their own TOS (terms of service) to maintain their credibility or recant that part of the TOS and release an updated TOS. As of this writing, Digg insists that its content is driven by the users. With the information collected in this article, it seems that something is rank in the state of Diggmark. You decide.

For your perusal, I’ve collected all the links I can find with information on this issue. Please comment if you’ve found alternative links and I will update these as the comments come in. Please note that I belive Forevergeek.com was the first to post on this…they are listed at #1. Also please note many of the comments in these articles…users are pretty livid about this…and there is no response from digg.com yet.

  1. Digg Corrupted: Editor’s Playground, not User-Driven Website
  2. The Story that Got Deleted – The digg story that went pewf!
  3. Kevin Rose abusing Digg – links to google group tracking this story
  4. Suspicious Digging
  5. Google Blogoscoped – more on the google group
  6. Digg Corrupted – a digg.com user attempts to hold digg accountable
  7. Digg Abused? – Newsvine article on this
  8. Digg Army – Binary Bonsai
  9. Digg, not democracy after all – Yugatech Blog Post
  10. The J Spot
  11. Corruption. The House of the Digg Elite
  12. The Trouble with DIGG
  13. Growing Censorship Concerns at Digg – Just got slashdotted!
  14. Digg Army: Right in Line – More from Forevergeek
  15. 146 diggs, 57 comments, 6 hours and no frontpage at digg
  16. Non Response from Digg.com – Forevergeek
  17. Digg.com Explanation? – Kevin Responds? Sort of…
  18. BoingBoing’s Take On This
  19. The Guardian Picks Up the Story…
  20. The Inquirer Hops On
  21. Sitepoint Diggs in their Claws
  22. Boyhazard.net Blog
  23. Splasho’s Blog…Update on Digg
  24. Three Reasons Why Digg is a Crock! – Zdnet Blogs
  25. MonkeyBites Blog
  26. BlogCritics – A Must Read
  27. Thomas Hawkes Digital Connection – He has the most dugg story of all time…
  28. Odeo Podcast on the Subject
  29. ForeverGeek Comments Further
  30. Zippity Doo Dah – A Statistical Analysis of Digging Corruption? You Decide…
  31. CEO of Weblogs.inc – The Digg Backlash
  32. More from Techno Pinoy
  33. DuncanRiley.com chimes in
  34. Is Digg Rigging its Diggs? – a Tech Writer from Toronto adds two cents
  35. Businesspundit
  36. Kellegous.com Speaks of Digg
  37. ProBlogger – Digg Deception
  38. Newsome Blog
  39. RealTechNews
  40. Silicon Valley Sleuth – Social Websites have a Social Responsibility
  41. Basement.org
  42. Search Engine Guide – is digg working with their own shovel?
  43. Publishing 2.0
  44. SuperGeekBlog – The Social Corruption of Digg
  45. Student-Rant Blog – Interesting Statistics on Editor Posting
  46. Virtual Thought
  47. CNET Podcast on the subject
  48. FG-DIGG Issue on TWiT @ Forever Geek