Friday, June 22, 2007

Have you cake and run windows too!

In reference to this

Some people are for porting Linux apps to Windows, some people are against. Pretty straight forward, right? Well I can't tell anymore. Take a look at Nikolaj's "rant", and then take a look at Aaron's rebuttal. I think they're both right, and I don't think that's a conflict. For anyone not following along, Nikolaj thinks porting Amarok to windows is good because of X and Aaron thinks he should be more concerned with Y.

I'm a Linux geek, and proud of it, but for some reason, I'm posting this from windows. Granted, I've got putty and an X server running, so I've actually got access to all of my linux/KDE stuff on my other workstation. I'll also ignore the part about me really wanting to use OpenBSD instead, but not having the guts to go all the way. There are a couple things I need windows for here at work, and they're non-negotiable and like a pizza special, there are no substitutions allowed (believe me, I tried). Damn I love pizza.. with mushrooms, and ham, and green peppers.. oh and the cheese all over the place.. wait, where was I?

Right, so what I'm trying to say here is that I want to be able to run KDE natively on windows because I can't run it natively in Linux, and X forwarding (especially across platforms) isn't perfect. This is a very practical reason to port Linux only apps to windows. Of course, Aaron is somewhat sidestepping (or maybe de-emphasizing is a better word?) the practicallity issue by taking the higher road and bringing ethics into the picture.

Finally, a chance to use one of my favourite movie quotes...

"Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should."
I think that makes Aaron's point pretty well (and if I'm lucky, he'll confirm or deny that..).

Should people port Linux apps to windows to make my personal life better? Sure, why not? (hey, isn't that both Nikolaj's point, and Aaron's question?)

Should they do so at the cost of the whole open source movement? Ok, that's a bit dramatic, but it makes the point I think.

There sure seems to be more at stake here than just the apps. My question is this: are Linux and other free(dom) platforms really at risk as a result of this? Worst case, it stays the way it is - which some elitists would love. Well, I guess it could be worse than that, but the elitists would still love it. Of course, without money on the line, all we'll ever have is anecdotal evidence for or against that opinion. (And of course, with money on the line, we get skewed results.. damn)

To put it plainly, I don't think having all of KDE available to windows users will hurt Linux or any other free(dom) OS.

Personally, I prefer a vision of a future where the OS is a commodity, and what people really care about are the apps, or even better, the functionality of the apps. Give people the freedom to choose their OS with no strings attached (unless you're counting financial cost, in the case of windows). THAT is a noble cause, in my mind.

To put this in terms of popular licenses (disclaimer: I'm not trying to imply their license preferences).. Nikolaj puts forth a practical commercial license, and then Aaron rebuts with the GPL.. and now I raise them both, with BSD. As I've hinted at in a previous post, I tend to favour imperfect total freedom over perfect partial freedom. Especially in this case, where we're talking about either doing something, or debating at length why not to do something (while everyone sits around looking funny). I say just do it. If nothing else, it'll make for a great movie one day ;-)

And finally, to directly respond to Aaron's challenge to Nikolaj, "...provide some sort of game plan for how it won't." How about somebody good at planning come up with this plan, while someone good at programming comes up with a port. First one to finish wins.

If this is all too heady and philosophical for you (and because I have no other logical reason to point out this link), I suggest you do as Steve Yegge suggests, and go write your own compiler. According to him, it should take you a life time to finish. And in his usual style, it'll take you a while too read too. Sounds like a perfect distraction from "big questions" like these. ;-)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

That's what I call freedom

In reference to this

SQLite. I've known about it for a while, but never really looked into it or at it in any detail.

It's small, efficient, widely used, comes with gobs of automated tests, written in C.. a true thing of beauty. Oh, and apparently it's been public domain all this while, and I just didn't notice.

Very refreshing, especially in light of recent licensing "debates" between FSF members, Linus, and even Theo. From an idealistic point of view, I think I like the idea of public domain the most. From a more pragmatic point of view (as in something I'd use for my own code), I prefer the BSD style licenses. If I managed to make something so cool I just had to share it, I'd want to have my name all over it, as a matter of pride. Of course, the trick with licensing is you can only move to increasingly restrictive licenses unless you have permission from all of the contributors. And even then, it's really more of a fork.. anyway, not important.

I'll have to remember to make an effort to include SQLite in my projects.

Possible future topics in the same vain of praise for coolness: Open{BSD, SSH, BGP, CVS, etc.},, KDE, Qt, and many others I can't think of off the top of my head.

Mono is great

In reference to this

I've never used anything .NET or Mono related, at least not as a developer. I'm not even sure how it all works, other than "similar to Java in some ways".

HOWEVER, I am a big fan of the Mono project. I have no idea why, but I am. Well, that's not entirely true, I suspect it has something to do with the spiffy looking apps that have come out of it, and the general air of cool that surrounds the people involved.

Which brings me to my inspiration for this post: Implementing Silverlight in 21 Days. How cool is that? Obviously they don't have a complete implementation yet, but Moonlight is in great shape for such a short time being alive. My favourite part is how the whole hackathon effort thing was in response to a request that Miguel give a presentation on it at ReMix 07. If the people attending that show are half as impressed as me, I'm sure I'll see it pop up on more than a few of my 90+ feed subscriptions.

As an aside, Miguel is one of the many people with a blog that eventually inspired me enough to start writing my own. So thanks for inspiring me, a total stranger.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

It pays to be green

In reference to this

And by that, I mean Google pays to be green. I'm not sure how I feel about carbon offsets. On the one hand, they're basically buying environment-friendliness, but on the other hand, this is a great way of looking at environment related spending. It's an interesting mix of investing and philanthropy.

In other green news, one of my neighbours was just recognized for being green. This is also where I live, but the building in question happens to be a block away, on my street - I can actually see it from my window. While it's nice to see this kind of thing happening so close to home, the facts seem a bit skewed, especially the bus stop bit. I was there when they started pouring the foundation for that building, so I'm pretty confident in my observation that the "new bus stop" is 100m from an existing one, and the "relocated bus stop" was moved about 50m, essentially moved to the other side of an intersection (the wrong side even, by local convention).

All in all, these are good news, even though I can certainly see the spin going into both of them. I'd still like to work for (or be the next) Google one day, and I'm proud to live where I live.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

SVG everywhere

In reference to this

This is a cool idea. I've been a big fan of SVG since it's beginnings, so it's nice to see it widely supported enough that this kind of experimentation can be done. I was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled upon the site and it "just worked" in my browser (latest Firefox, on XP).

What he's done here is create a small 3 page site entirely in SVG (as in not HTML or xhtml), using Inkscape. The idea is to see how search engine bots react to it. Ideally, they'll show up properly in searches, thus checking one more thing of the check-list of things required for SVG to be useful for web pages.

In case it helps the project any (ya, like this blog will ever get spidered..), here's a couple links following how I believe the google bots work..

The "Home" page should pop up with lmtbk4mh, the "Stuf" page should show up with slabiciunea lui Nicu forever, and finally, the "About" page should show up with both slabiciunea lui Nicu forever and lmtbk4mh.