InfoWorld Employs Ignorant Journalists

NOTE: ComputerWorld Senior Online Projects Editor, Ian Lamont, has contacted me and asked that I provide a correction to the information contained in this post. The original article by Neil McAllister did not originally appear at Computerworld. It was first published by InfoWorld…however, there was no originating link published with the Computerworld posting of the article linking back to this original posting…so assumption was justified but wrong. Thus, Computerworld is not the employer of ignorance, rather, InfoWorld is :) It is important to note that Compturworld is a subsidiary (is that the right word?) of http://idg.net of which InforWorld is as well. Unfortunately, due to syndication, the title of this article is the URL and has been passed around at many, many different places.

So, I’ll be retitling and editing the article accordingly to provide seamless redirection. I apologize to Computerworld if in any way, shape, or form for my mistake did any character damage or incurred the rath senior editors and/or caused anyone to lose face or get made fun of (unless they’re dressed in horrible attire or didn’t brush their teeth this morning, in which case, they should apologize to everyone else). The original Computerworld syndication of Mr. McAllister’s article is located here. A copy of the original article I penned is available upon request via the comments section of this article. Thanks!


Articles like this one are so misguided. Giving you a brief overview what the article from InfoWorld says: Open Source supporters build fortresses around them that make them unapproachable and have infinite animosity toward Microsoft. Yep, that about sums it up. I’ll show you below how this article was written by an ignorant journalist…one that probably is too prideful to ask for help when writing his garbage. Next time you go to write something, why don’t you ask someone? Heck, ask me…I’d help you not to make a fool of yourself and stay accurate with the facts. Instead, InfoWorld shows mud on its face while pretending they’re subject matter experts.

I’d expect it from say…a standard blog discussing technology or perhaps a publication site that only has a technology section with a writer or two that pens just enough to wet the appetite of the computer savvy portion of its demographic. But InfoWorld? Come on! These guys should do a bit more research…afterall, they’re part of IDG which is the leading distributor of computer and technology based magazines and newspapers on the entire planet…you’d think that they might hire someone with a bit more knowledge in the arena of open source. They lead off the entire article with the following:

“If you support open source, one of the initial things you learn is that you must bash Microsoft.”

Well, I missed that memo. Last I checked on Sourceforge, there were around 6,000 pieces of open source software available for Windows and the Microsoft platform. Perhaps the author is confusing the term Open Source with Linux as many people do. They sit there and think that Linux and Open Source are synonymous. That just isn’t so. Linux is just one of many Open Source programs available…and one of many that can be said contain a philosophy biased against Microsoft Software. I always take note that some of the best programs out there that have a GPL License make my job eaiser on the Microsoft Platform at work. When you generalize things like this, you should at least get the generalization correct. In this instance, he didn’t.

Now…perhaps the author just opened up with the wrong sentence right? Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and take a look at the second sentence:

It’s understandable; of all the
proprietary software companies in the world the one in Redmond takes
the cake for ill-will towards the open-source community. Just look at
the famed “Halloween documents” to see the extent of the bad blood”

Uh…last I checked the Halloween Documents were penned by Microsoft which was why they were so damning. So, the benefit of the doubt was given but shouldn’t have been. The author is implying that the Halloween Documents were somehow written by Open Source supporters in an attempt to bring ‘ill-will’ toward Microsoft. Funny isn’t it? This means that the author didn’t even read the Halloween Documents enough to know this simple fact. The author probably didn’t even read the Halloween Documents FAQ. Does it get any better later in the article?

Nope. Read on for the full digression.

Read more

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.

Read more

5 Unique Tips for New Ubuntu Users

Update! Before you read the article, please note that an inaccuracy of Point Number 3 has been pointed out in comments by cafeina. Thanks for pointing this out…there are downloadable guides for Ubuntu Dapper Drake available at http://help.ubuntu.com. These guides could be much more user friendly (they don’t have pics included) but that they get the job done quite nicely. Thanks for pointing this out Cafeina!

With the popularity of Ubuntu swelling these days, one can hardly visit digg or other tech news sites without seeing a Dapper Drake or Breezy Badger (both recent titles of Ubuntu releases). Another strong indicator that Linux in general, dapper drake aside, may be seeing an influx of users is the news that Microsoft receives a call back from Windows computers daily. Many users expressed deep concern about false positives where Microsoft receives reports that you are using a pirate copy of Windows when you are running a licensed version. Also, why not examine why WGA (Windows Genuine Advantage) fits the bill for Spyware? So, what’s a ticked off user to do? Give Linux the old college try, that’s what!

I’ve seen an influx of people dusting off Mandrake (that’s right, Mandrake not Mandriva…we’re talking pre-name change) and Red Hat 7.2 disks and firing off questions in forums about how to do various things in Linux. Renewed interest in alterntives to Microsoft coupled with big headlines for Ubuntu means many new users are examining Ubuntu when they evaluate (or re-evaluate) the state of Linux. This being said, I have 5 Tips for New Ubuntu Users that you won’t hear anywhere else.

Read more

Bringing Linux to Work – Portal Part 3

Ubuntu just doesn’t want to be chosen for me. I’ve had nothing but problems with it since I started going on it. I decided that it would be easier to use Ubuntu (1 disk install, apt-get abilities) to house the in house Intranet portal page here where I work. However, I didn’t count on Ubuntu having so many problems.

The first of many problems was mod_ntlm. This Apache module WILL NOT compile on my server. I emailed someone who actually got this to compile in Ubuntu and asked for how they got it to work, implemented their changes in the .c file, yet still couldn’t get it to compile. This reason alone is enough for me to not use it. But there are more reasons still that Ubuntu doesn’t do it for me.

The second reason is going cold. What I mean by going cold is that it almost froze up. For example, it would take over an hour to run apt-get update, about the same to run apt-get upgrade (depending on downloads) and even 20 minutes to do a standard ls -al | grep keyword command. After a reboot everything was fine. This led me to believe that some sort of power saving module was kicking in. So I removed all power saving modules, recompiled a kernel from scratch, turned off all BIOS power saving items, crossed my fingers and rebooted. Even with all of these actions, Ubuntu still went cold after a day of uptime. This is on an IBM NetVista P4 with 1 GB RAM. Ubuntu however will not be staying on any PC at my job due to the previous problems experienced.

I’ve got an exact match of this machine to provide backup for it so I’ve simulataneously been using CentOS to experiment around with it. There’s a reason that Red Hat is the leader in the server arena…because they get it done and provide a fantastically stable Linux environment. CentOS is repackaged Red Hat Enterprise Linux and it is fantastic. So from this point on, Ubuntu will not be actively developed on by myself…I’ll be using CentOS from this point on. Which leads me to the decisions I’ve been trying to come to.

I’ve been trying to find a good portal CMS that can house documents and provide news announcements for my department. No chat is needed…no forums…just a repository for docs. With all of this being said, I need to provide a flexible solution to house these documents as well because who knows what the director will come back and say. Perhaps tomorrow he’ll change his mind and want to have all documentation developed and worked on in Sharepoint and all reports to go on our intranet page. So I need flexibility if I’m going to get a CMS running on Linux and I need it to be stable so I can show tangible results to upper managment. Otherwise, they’ll continue to go with what has been working for them…and that is Windows.

Read more

Brining Linux to Work – Portal Part 2

Beginning this month, I’ll be attempting to infuse my place of work with Linux. I am an new Applications Analyst and resident AIX/Linux expert for a government agency that lives and breaths Microsoft. I feel that Open Source software, mainly, Linux…can be a great addition to this agency. I’ll be documenting my attempts here while I go along. If you have tips, tricks, solutions, advice or supportive comments…please respond in kind.


Well, Ubuntu had some troubles but CentOS did a fine job for me. The problem was in the compilation of the mod_ntlm module for Apache. Ubuntu couldn’t get it right. Changing the makefile a bit (Thanks Billy!) did allow me to post the mod_ntlm.so file (finally) but I couldn’t get things to work for Apache 2. I reverted back to Apache 1.3 on the Ubuntu box but ran into the same problem that I did on the CentOS box with odd authentication issues. Alternatively, CentOS had no problems compiling the mod_ntlm Apache module for Apache 1.3 OR Apache 2.X which was much better than Ubuntu.

Of course, the real problem wasn’t getting the various software installed, the problem was doing it in the correct order. My advice to someone that wants to use mod_ntlm with Apache to pass parameters to a zope server for plone: Install zope and plone first…get a working site up and running on port 80 (intranet site that is) THEN install apache and work on mod_ntlm. I had trouble figuring this out as most of the instructions I found allowed for Apache to be working first before the zope server comes into play. Another thing you could do is turn off Apache during your zope/plone configuration.

Something else that is odd is that by default when you install zope in CentOS, it isn’t started. You can add it to automatic start using checkconfig in CentOS but finding out where the rpm installs zope is another story. Not being familiar with zope hindered my progress initially. After some fumbling I was able to get things working.

Overall on both the Ubuntu and CentOS installs, I was able to get things in working order but could not get Apache to use mod_ntlm correctly. Normally, if mod_ntlm is setup correctly and all directives are listed correctly (I was using .htaccess to house the ntlm directives) you’ll get to a page 404 not found if accessing the document root. Instead, I received 401 Unauthorized Access. This meant that I was not validating according to Apache to my active directory source.

Read more

ITWire in Australia on the Desktop

The point of all this is that from the standpoint of a new Linux user, having a snazzy looking interface is all well and good but it means nothing if users have to revert to the command line to perform what should be simple tasks. Installing new downloaded software is one of the most common tasks performed by desktop users at home and in small offices. Until the Linux suppliers can make this task trivial, they will continue to miss out on a whole world of users beyond the command line geeks.

NOTE: I normally don’t re-publish news like many of the “blogs” you see out there but in this case the article was pretty good and hits home with a theme I’ve been stating a bit lately.

The article above was taken from ITWire…IT News in Austrailia.

This article was a good read and I believe it to be true. Until Linux can come up with ways to make the user oblivious to what is going on underneath the GUI, it won’t make inrroads to the desktop.

UPDATE: 3/2007

Penguin Pete, the not famous blogger over at penguinpetes blog flagged this post as being the main reason that he no longer posts links to my blog. Interesting in that if anyone were to read this post out of context, they might not know what I was driving at for this post. The main intention of the post is to show that new users need to first feel comfortable in their OS before they drop down and get dirty with the shell. That’s a fact jack. Nothing is going to sway that…I’ve had many users I’ve switched over DESPISE dropping to the shell and cite that as the main reason they go back to Windows. This is what I was agreeing with in this instance…that New Linux users need to be semi oblivious to what is going on underneath and not have to worry about it in their beginnings…not to ‘dumb down’ Linux or remove functionality underneath it.