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[News] Jon "Maddog" Hall Excited About the Success of Free Software

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What a long, strange trip it has been...and continues to be

,----[ Quote ]
| While a lot of people are still using closed source, proprietary software, 
| the message of Free Software is becoming better understood by more people. I 
| believe we are gaining the critical mass needed to provide good jobs for 
| anyone writing and contributing to Free Software.   
| On Tuesday, May 26th I leave for a conference in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. 
| There, as I have for a couple of conferences this year and will for a couple 
| more conferences this year, I will be talking to young people (and 
| not-so-young people) about both the past history and the future promise of 
| Free Software.     



Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

,----[ Quote ]
| I was working for Digital Equipment Corporation when I first met Linus and
| facilitated the port of Linux onto the Alpha processor.
| During the port, a member of the community contacted me and asked if Digital
| would contribute their math library to the Linux project, since Digital's
| math library was a great deal faster than the one currently in use on the
| Alpha Linux port. I easily got Digital to contribute the Digital Unix math
| library in binary form, but they refused to make the library "open source"
| because of the investment that they had put into it.


When Linux fails

,----[ Quote ]
| Jon “Maddog” Hall’s keynote talk at the Ontario Linux Fest also made this 
| point in a very powerful way. Jon is a wonderfully entertaining speaker, and 
| not afraid of controversy. Showing a picture of a child in the African bush 
| holding a “One Laptop per Child” laptop he said, “I don’t care about this 
| kid.” The audience drew a shocked breath. “He’s screwed,” continued 
| Jon. “Five hundred miles of bush behind him, five hundred miles of bush in 
| front of him. There’s nothing I can do to help here”. Jon flipped the slide 
| to show a Brazilian “favela”, or slum city, with an incredibly dense 
| population, seeming to cling to the side of a nearby hill. He said, “This is 
| where I can help. These kids have electricity. They can get a network 
| connection. I can do something with Open Source and Free Software here”.          
| Jon isn’t a callous person. He’s just decided to focus his resources on 
| somewhere he knows he can help today. It’s hard to find fault with him for 
| that.  


Show me the Code

,----[ Quote ]
| I was probably always subtly aware of the abilities of some free software
| programmers, so I should not continue to be amazed by what they can do. But I
| must admit they do continue to astonish me.



Open Source Software and Africa

,----[ Quote ]
| As an advocate for free, open-source software, I have run into
| Microsoft's "battles" many times, and your article ("Microsoft Battles
| Low-Cost Rival for Africa," page one, Oct. 28) made visible many of the
| issues around money-poor African nations being wooed by a large, powerful
| monopoly.
| However, your article doesn't go into the deeper value of using FOSS in
| Africa. Because FOSS supplies the source code for the software used, end
| users have the choice of using the software as it exists on the Internet or
| changing the software to meet their needs. Getting security fixes for
| software running on older systems (a natural need when you make $3 a day),
| changing the software to support your native language (not everyone speaks
| English), getting ancient peripherals to work long after the vendor lost
| interest in them (usually less than a year after the product ships), and
| developing a software economy in their own economic terms (creating high-tech
| jobs inside of their countries, instead of sending the money out of their
| countries) are all things that should be considered in the argument of free
| versus closed-source software.
| The public should ask how a company like Microsoft can continue to justify to
| their shareholders creating needed changes to their software for people who
| can't pay for those changes? The answer is that they can't justify it. In the
| future they will have to either start charging for the software on which
| people are now dependent or abandon the effort.

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