ufraw plugin for the GIMP

It seems that to convert Nikon Raw TIFF camera images (.nef anyone?) to anything other then that is to be done by a utility called ufraw, with help of another utility called dcraw. Luckily, both of these tools are already available in Fedora --as I expected.

Now, I do not know what these tools do or how they do what they do even though Lydia has tried to explain it to me. I think I have some sort of basic understanding but nothing more.

Lydia would like to be using the GIMP to convert her Forensic Science foo into very much different blabla once or twice or trice, all dependent on the ufraw plugin for the GIMP.

There we go, that's doable. I'll be working on that for her... During my vacation here ;-))

Dear lazyweb

Dear lazyweb,

I configure a Fedora machine so that;

1) PackageKit is the WYSIWYG GUI click-and-go (this is my girlfriends laptop after all)
2) *something* downloads any updates and any dependencies of those updates so that updating through yum or PackageKit on a slow internet connection does not take ages, and
3) make optimal use of the new presto/deltarpm feature?

I was thinking yum, yum-presto, yum-plugin-fastestmirror, yum-updatesd, and PackageKit, and so I configured that.

The annoying thing is however that while any of these (but PackageKit itself) are active, PackageKit will pop up an error dialog saying it's unable to achieve a lock because of the other application running. IIRC, it used to be a notification thing that automatically disappeared if you could stand ignoring it long enough. Not entirely user-friendly either, but the current error dialog is right up in my face and requires user interaction... for what reason?

My question to you, dear lazyweb, how do I make these error dialogs go away (and not pop up anymore)?

My schedule for June

I'll be here and there in June, travelling from one place to the other doing awesome stuff (or so I hope) and then come back to the Netherlands and do some more awesome stuff (or so I hope).

I'll be travelling to Sydney, Australia this evening, where I'll arrive June 3rd, early in the morning, to visit my girlfriend who has been doing an internship in Forensics for the past four months. I'll only be able to stay like 10 days but it'll be 10 good days regardless. She'll be there for another two-three months I think, depending on how her research goes.

I hope to do some site-seeing in Sydney and the surrounding areas and the national parks and have some piece and quiet on my mind for a while; I'll not be online as much as people are used to as you can imagine.

Then, June 14th, I'm back at AMS airport ready to do some laundry and other general stuff including $dayjob work before I head off to Byte-Code's 2009 meetup in Bormio, Italy, an event I anticipate will be completely awesome and not just because the food in Italy is great. The people are great, I understand just a very tiny little Italian which makes it the more interesting, the agenda is interesting and I was told I get to pitch this idea that's been going through my mind for a while which is very blunt and very young and possibly never gonna happen. Great!

From Bormio, I leave for FUDCon in Berlin, which starts June 26th, but I'll be arriving June 22nd just to make sure I can take a peak at Berlin Open and LinuxTag, and help with any preparations that FUDCon might still have, and stuff like that.

After FUDCon, which ends June 28th, and so I'll be back home June 29th, June is almost over and I get to make the final preparations for these workshops I've been telling you about.

Hands-on Workshop OSI Open Source (e.g. Free Software)

Starting in July, since I'm on the road most of June, I'll be mentoring a workshop on Office and Infrastructure IT entirely based on Free Software and Open Source technology. As you can see in other blog-posts the emphasis will be on Free Software and Open Source software as defined by the Open Source Initiative, more so then on non-Free "Enterprise Editions" of what might be perceived as Open Source but actually is not. So, no non-Free Enterprise editions, just Free Software in dear Mr. Stallman's definition of the term (and here's why). And for the right reasons even from a customer perspective (as I've argued before, will argue again and continue arguing for as long as it takes). I'll explain this during the workshop as well, if need be -and the audience is interested. I feel very strongly and care very passionately about this, but despite my personal feelings, what I'm really after, first and foremost, whether resulting in customer adoption of Free Software or not, is that it be a conscious choice, not a matter of convenience or influenced by marketing.

For now, this workshop has been scheduled just once, Juli 2nd, in Delft. I'm certain though it'll be rescheduled a few times if it turns out to be succesfull and if people are sufficiently interested. This workshop is organized by my employer, Operator Groep Delft (OGD), in order to pro-actively market and promote OSI Open Source and Open Standards within business and government.

About Operator Groep Delft

OGD is a medium to large sized consultancy company, and we've been around for over 22 years now. Since then, Operator Groep Delft has grown into a company with 700 employees servicing even more customers continiously and efficiently given the amount of knowledge available within the company and the very open culture. The very unique concept of OGD attracts ambitious, passionate and intelligent young people, and allows them to rapidly learn and experience Information and Communication Technology in all it's aspects, whether it be on the deeply technical side, or in ICT (project-)management, or anything in between, over the complete spectrum of technologies including, amongst others, Networking & Security, Programming and Web-technology, Service and Project Management, Novell, Microsoft, Virtualisation and Linux & UNIX.

Just to show how powerful the OGD formula is, let me tell you that as a result of what OGD does and how it does so, the person we regard to as our Microsoft guru internally, Sander Berkouwer, has been awarded the title of Microsoft Most Valued Professional, Directory Services. Then, to top that off with a little bit of sweet cream, look at Joep Piscaer, the man to go to and ask about all the dirty little secrets of Virtualization, now a VMWare vExpert no less. Putting one of those figuratively speaking cherries on top of this icecream is me, having been awarded Red Hat Certified Engineer of the Year (Europe, 2008), at the Red Hat Summit in Boston.

This, and purely this, defines Operator Groep Delft as the company employing the largest number of employees being awarded the most significant type of endorsements by Microsoft, VMWare and last but most certainly not least, Red Hat, in at least the Netherlands, as far as I know. This should tell you something, and I've not even started describing the rest of the field of awesome Senior Engineers or the OGD Alumni -of which there are many- and the great positions that they now occupy within the ICT industry, having been given the opportunity by OGD.

It's in the Linux & UNIX area of OGD's operations where I kick in as the coordinator of our Linux & UNIX focus group, a community type of group including all of our Linux helpdesk agents or new recruits all the way up to our most Senior System Engineers, and deal with our internal Linux Infrastructure, internal and external courses and workshops, marketing, research and development, customer assistence and consultancy, and other general stuff as it comes along.

This all sounds like I'd like to keep my job and suck up to my management, but rest assured that's not what I'm after, I'm not kissing ass. Note that it is also OGD that enables me to participate in Free Software, and as such let's me do what I do within the Fedora Project, on my own software projects, and be in foreign countries whenever I need to or want to, for a large part in the time that I am actually on their payroll. 'nuff said.

The Workshop

Now, about the workshop; It'll be a show-case, live demo of a complete IT Infrastructure based entirely on Free Software. See the next little paragraph on which technologies I'm thinking will be included right now. For those that want to experience an IT Infrastructure based on OSI Open Source, I'll set one up and tell you more about it. For those interested and a little more tech-savvy, I'll let you work on the boxes that run these services. Under the hood, there'll be a few of those awesome new technologies improving efficiency for both systems as well as system administration. I'll tell you more about those as well. On the surface, you'll be astonished by the amount of option value included. I presume it'll be a continuous dialogue on the how, where, what and when applicable to the specific environments of each attendees' organisation.

Like I've said the workshop will be hands-on, to just create an impression of what Free Software could do, and what the implications could be for your organization.

This will include Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Fedora, Red Hat Directory Server, Zarafa, Alfresco, Cobbler, Puppet, Drupal, SugarCRM, KVM

A Dutch version of the workshop is at: http://tinyurl.com/nejg66

A Google Translated version in English, to your convenience, is at: http://tinyurl.com/njeyut

Why the Open Source Channel Alliance is bad for Free Software

A brand new initiative endorsed by Red Hat and Synnex (a business process services company) is called the Open Source Channel Alliance.

The impression I get is that unlike with Red Hat Exchange, a catalog that includes ISV products no matter if they are proprietary, Open Source or Free Software, the Open Source Channel Alliance is supposed to become a catalog of certified, genuinely Open Source ISV products.

That is, using the OSI definition of Open Source, which in my experience is also the only definition that Red Hat ever wants to use no matter where they go, rather then using the term Free Software, argued to be ambiguous even though -in my personal opinion- describing matters more accurately then just Open Source.

No matter what terminology Red Hat chooses to use though, using Open Source when talking to users, customers, distributors, suppliers and ISVs -of which they have many seeing as they are the largest out there- has always endangered the Free Software movement and evidently shows in Red Hat's endorsement of said Open Source Channel Alliance initiative. Let me try and explain you why I think that it does;

When talking about Open Source, the same ambiguity applied to Free Software -by the people that argue in favour of using Open Source to address Free Sofware-, says the one single primary requirement is that the work's source code is available somehow, not describing under what (additional) conditions, all the way up to the OSI definition of Open Source, which basically says Open Source == Free Software, and anything in between those two extremes.

In marketing, when you try to establish brand such as Red Hat's or more generally the Open Source or Free Software brand you'll need to be using the same terminology over and over again between many, many different peers. However not only does that establish your brand, it does also directly influence anyone's gut feeling when hearing terminology being used now familiar to them because of your definition of the terminology in the message you shared with them when trying to establish your brand. In this particular case, saying Open Source is good using the OSI definition let's companies that say they are Open Source NOT using the OSI definition take a free stab for the customers money.

So, now, when anyone hears a company say "We're Open Source", anyone's gut feeling says that's a good thing, whereas the company might actually not be as "OSI Open Source" and be somewhere in between exercising Microsoft's business model and truly excellent Free Software citizenship. For all you know the company makes a good impression and then they take all your money anyway. Using the Open Source Channel Alliance to have customers find suppliers and manufacturers of non-Free Software this way is bad for society in general because really we don't need the money to go to companies that run in circles inefficiently, we need the money to go to the people that deserve it doing the work that they do so much more efficiently then anyone else could (source, just below the middle of page 2 -while you're reading it though, maybe start at the top, it's an **excellent** paper).

To continue explaining why I think this Open Source Channel Alliance hurts Free Software, let me try and explain what I'm thinking are four basic pillars of business models in the software industry:

  1. Capitalize on proprietary (Intellectual Property) software (usage).

  2. Capitalize on non-OSI Open Source (Intellectual Property) software (usage) and (maybe) sell the sources to the work against an additional fee or other additional conditions.

  3. Capitalize on Free Software by adding additional features and calling it the “Enterprise Edition”. The additional features may be proprietary altogether, but they may also be just Open Source (non-OSI), whatever is licensed non-Free.

  4. Capitalize on Free Software by working with the Free Software community, and selling added value to the product, such as training, (long-term) support, legal protection, consultancy, and so forth, all while retaining the original Free license even for the Enterprise version of the product.

One example of a company that likes to give us all the idea they are so friendly to Open Source as well as Free Software, even though using business model #1, is that one North-America-based proprietary software company with a usage-based, time-limited licensing model not including the required amount of support you need, and for which you need 1) a bachelor-degree in Mathematics to even understand the model and thus pay the correct amount of license fees (or be accountable), and 2) a law-degree to be able to meet the conditions set forth in such license, let alone derive a business case out of it's TCO and ROI compared to any other licensing model out there, 3) a degree in economics to wipe out the devastating effects of the way you very inefficiently spend your money and 4) a philosophy degree to argue a way around using one of many less expensive alternatives. It can only go up in price and requirements, and it can only down in sustainability.

Again cutting a few corners here as I'm sure will show in the amount of comments made to this blog-post, but nonetheless this is not a business model any company within the software industry would even try to use if it were founded right now and that... that should tell you *something*.

One example of a company that likes to pretend they're a Free Software company using business model #4 is Red Hat. I'm saying "likes to pretend" and knowing that this too is probably a more inpopular statement, there's two reasons why I say this;

  1. Red Hat does not actually market itself as a Free Software company, but rather as "the Leader in Open Source" and/or the number #1 Open Source company in the world. Neither of this is entirely false but as you can see they use "Open Source and not "Free Software", and also,

  2. Not everything that Red Hat productises (right now or in the foreseeable future) is made Free Software or even Open Source rightaway. I guess they think they have very good reasons not to, but it just so happens that the reasons no matter how valid do not actually matter in any way.

Take it away, reader! Comment saying whatever I am I am not.

Getting back to the original point of this blog post, on "why the Open Source Channel Alliance is bad for Free Software"... We all know business model #1 sucks and is bound to die a certain, slow, painful and agonizing death. I'll enjoy watching it happen from the sidelines.

So, let's take into account business model #2 and #3. The pretend-to-be-OSI-Open-Source companies.

This type of business model makes a software industry company run around in circles in very much the same way companies using business model #1 do, with the very subtle difference being they run around in circles for only a small(er) part of support and development of their product. In case of business model #2 you may receive patches from 3rd parties and in business model #3 additional development efforts may exist in a community built around the product making you just a little more efficient. However, one could argue these two models are just as much sustainable as business model #1 in the long term. Nonetheless;

Some of these companies can be called Open Source, but not in the way that the OSI defines it. Most of these companies however are proprietary, and most certainly NOT Open Source in any way at all, let alone any of these are Open Source using the OSI definition.

Yet, most of the companies and products you'll find listed (at the time of this writing) in the Open Source Channel Alliance catalogue are NOT Open Source and provide proprietary features in their so-called "Enterprise Editions", on top of a "Community Edition" that may be Open Source or even Free Software (dual licensing model).

When in the position of leader in Open Source, using the OSI definition of Open Source, why would you downgrade to endorsing companies that sell non-OSI Open Source products? Is there no boundary to this? Can I build hello_world.c (GPL), build a proprietary application on top of that, sell it, and then call my company Open Source? Don't think so. There appears to be a labile balance between what is an Open Source company still and what is not an Open Source company anymore.

I hope now that you see what I think is the negative impact of using "Open Source" when you mean to say "Free Software", and what the result is of endorsing non-Free Software companies using terminology such as "Open Source".

eLiberatica, day #2

Now that I'm home again, let's take a little time to review eLiberatica's last day of sessions and presentations, as well as the freedom party that we had going just after the sessions on Saturday...

At the freedom party, Monty Widenius brought some Salmiakkikossu, a very nice drink with Salmiak and Wodka. It seems to have become a tradition with Monty to bring some booze with him every time he goes somewhere ;-) Thanks Monty!

After the freedom party, a large group of us went out to a club somewhere downtown in Bucharest, where we had a very enjoyable time dancing and socializing until very late at night / early in the morning.

Overall I've met some amazing people and really had a chance to share with them how I feel about Free Software and how I think of it from a business perspective. I think my session on Fedora in the Enterprise last Friday went great, especially since on Saturday, different people came up to me all day long to ask questions and stuff like that.

Saturday, a Werewolf session ended up being a set of 3-minute lightning talks which I hadn't expected, but I enlisted myself for a 3-minute talk on Configuration Management and so I got just a tiny little bit of technical stuff to the audience. Next year, if possible, I'd like -and from what I've heard so would some of the audience at eLiberatica- to see a few more technical sessions as was also suggested in one of the lightning talks that was about OpenSpace (very much like BarCamps).

Also, just before the freedom party, we had taken some group photos after which some of the event's participants wanted to get pictures with some of us! I felt like a movie star or something ;-)

I regret that I've not spent as much time with my fellow Fedorians Nicu, Adrian, Alexandru and Ionut, but the speakers at eLiberatica had arrangements for lunch and dinner and stuff and so I ended up with the very interesting group of speakers after the event rather then socialize with my fellow Fedorians. Most of them will be at FUDCon though, so I'll make sure I get some beers with them there ;-)

Note: Again this post is a little late, but given the travel schedule on Sunday and some obligations this morning I just now have the opportunity to write this up and post it

eLiberatica, day #1

We had to get up pretty early to arrive at the event on time, but hey... life is not a ponyfarm ;-)

We're at a University here in Bucharest of which I've honestly tried to pronounce the name correctly (but failed). Bucharest first of all, from what I've seen so far at least, is a beautiful city and the people are amazing. They do have a lot of traffic though so every once in a while Bucharest comes to a full stop and is congested entirely -no kidding. Even the Romanian money is amazing as it is made out of some sort of plastic material (the notes, not the cards).

IT Trends, a Romanian magazine by Agora Media (organizer of eLiberatica) had requested all speakers on their expert opinion on a few matters, shipped it's latest issue in the event bag. I was pleasantly surprised to find large parts of the article to be a literal translation of the answers I had sent them! Although the magazine is in Romanian (I had Adrian translate it for me), I hope some day the magazine publishes this release on the Internet so that you can all see for yourself ;-)

Today was also my talk on "Fedora in the Enterprise", which of course does not mean you should run Fedora throughout the Enterprise but is a story on the strength of Free Software and Fedora's model within Free Software. I'll upload the slide-deck to my fedorapeople.org account tomorrow maybe. The room was filled to the brim and I guess everyone was pretty much interested in hearing what I had to say although at the end I did not get many questions at all. I knew we were barely on schedule but I would have guessed I'd be overloaded with questions. Later on though, a few people came up to me asking questions anyway ;-)

There's been a bunch of pictures taken both from the booth as well as my talk and dinner last night but I (regrettably) have no camera and did not take these pictures myself, and I cannot find them on Flickr yet :/

All and all, there's lots of interesting people out here and I'm once more extending my network and getting these people to appreciate the Fedora vision on things ;-) Tonight we've all been invited by eLiberatica to join them in a dinner-and-drinks speakers-party kinda thing so I'm curious how that'll work out!

Note: This post is a little more on time ;-)