Mark Shuttleworth: Ubuntu vil gøre fri software til normen

Ubuntu-projektets Mark Shuttleworth skriver i et indlæg om projektets fremtid, at formålet med at lave en brugervenlig GNU/Linux-distribution og gøre den tilgængelig overalt er at gøre fri software til reglen frem for undtagelsen – altså overalt og ikke bare på de mere tekniske områder:

Everyone that I care about in open source has a shared dream: they want free software to become the norm, not the exception. And Ubuntu is the only way I can see for that to happen, which is why I spend all my time on it, and why so many other people spend huge amounts of time on it too.

I simply have zero interest in the crowd who wants to be different. Leet. ‘Linux is supposed to be hard so it’s exclusive’ is just the dumbest thing that a smart person could say. People being people, there are of course smart people who hold that view.

What I’m really interested in is this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a free and open platform that is THE LEADER across both consumer and enterprise computing.

With Ubuntu (and Unity) we have that. It’s amazing. Think about it – unlike years gone by, a free software platform is actually winning awards for innovative leadership in the categories that count: mobile, cloud. Investing your time and energy here might have a truly profound impact on the world. That’s worth digging into. Just roll your eyeballs at the 1337 crowd, roll up your sleeves, find something interesting to improve, and join in. To the extent that you can master a piece, you will get what you want. If you think the grand vision should follow your whims, you won’t.

If we work hard, and work together, Ubuntu will become a widespread platform for phones, tablets and PCs. You’ll have the satisfaction of designing, building and fixing tools that are used every day by millions of people. That’s meaningful. And it’s worth looking hard at our practices to ask the question: how best to achieve that goal? Of those practices, interim releases are just as subject to evaluation and revision as any other.

Du kan læse mere om fri software og Ubuntu her. Det interessante er, at projektet synes at om ikke ligefrem lykkes (proprietære systemer som Windows og Apples OSX er desværre stadig mere udbredte) så dog at omdefinere, hvad det er muligt at gøre med computere i disse år.

Hvorfor tale om fri software og ikke om ‘open source’?

Til det første møde i vores arbejdsgruppe om fri software var der noget diskussion af, hvorfor det er bedre at tale om fri software end om “open source”, som er blevet en mere udbredt betegnelse.

Nu kunne jeg skrive en lang forklaring (og det har jeg også tidligere gjort), men FSFE har faktisk en side, hvor det forklares meget godt:

Free Software is often referred to as “Open Source.” This is a result of an attempt by the Open Source Initiative (OSI) to create a marketing campaign for Free Software.

The OSI set out to maintain the integrity of the movement and prevent abuse by proprietary vendors by introducing “Open Source” as a trademark for Free Software; but this initiative failed.

Examining the development of the Open Source Initiative after three years, it becomes apparent that the reasons to prefer the term Free Software have become even more true. Speaking of Free Software or the equivalent term in other languages offers many advantages, which we explain below.

“Free Software” is easier to understand

Although some people say that using the term “free” creates ambiguity, many languages have separate terms referring to freedom and price. In these languages, the term “free” is not ambiguous. It may be in others, including English, but in those misunderstandings can easily be avoided by pointing out that free refers to freedom, not price.

The terminology “Open Source” refers to having access to the source code. But access to the source code is only a precondition for two of the four freedoms that define Free Software. Many people do not understand that access to the source code alone is not enough. “Free Software” avoids catering to this relatively common misunderstanding.

Free Software is harder to abuse

Unfortunately many companies have started calling their products “Open Source” if at least some parts of the source code can be seen. Users buy this software believing they are purchasing something “as good as GNU/Linux” because it claims to follow the same principle.

We should not allow proprietary vendors to abuse people’s enthusiasm like this. Since the “Open Source” trademarking initiative failed, there is no way to prevent abuse of the term that becomes possible because of the aforementioned misunderstanding.

Free Software is well-defined

Experience in science and philosophy has shown that a good and clear definition is to be preferred.

The Free Software Definition of the Free Software Foundation with its four freedoms is the clearest definition existing today.

Free Software provides additional value

Unlike Open Source, Free Software provides more than just a technical model how to develop better software, it provides a philosophy. Companies can learn and profit from the philosophy and background of Free Software.

Free Software offers freedom

Free Software provides the freedoms to

  • run the program, for any purpose.
  • study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs.
  • redistribute copies.
  • improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits.

Because of these four freedoms, Free Software offers freedom to learn, freedom to teach, freedom of competition, freedom of speech and freedom of choice.

Freedom counts!

Link: Why we speak about Free Software

PC på størrelse med USB-drev, 25$ inkl. software

Raspberry Pi Foundation vil bygge en Ubuntu-PC til næsten ingen penge og på størrelse med en USB-stick:

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a UK registered charity (Registration Number 1129409) which exists to promote the study of computer science and related topics, especially at school level, and to put the fun back into learning computing.

We plan to develop, manufacture and distribute an ultra-low-cost computer, for use in teaching computer programming to children. We expect this computer to have many other applications both in the developed and the developing world.

Our first product is about the size of a USB key, and is designed to plug into a TV or be combined with a touch screen for a low cost tablet. The expected price is $25 for a fully-configured system.

How would you use an ultra-low-cost computer? Do you have open-source educational software we can use? Contact us at

Provisional specification:

  • 700MHz ARM11
  • 128MB of SDRAM
  • OpenGL ES 2.0
  • 1080p30 H.264 high-profile decode
  • Composite and HDMI video output
  • USB 2.0
  • SD/MMC/SDIO memory card slot
  • General-purpose I/O
  • Open software (Ubuntu, Iceweasel, KOffice, Python)
Raspberry Pi device running Ubuntu 9.04
Raspberry Pi device with attached 12MPixel camera module

Via Boing Boing.

Rusland bruger Microsoft til at lukke kritiske medier

Typisk strategi for et diktatur, der prøver på at opretholde en illusion om, at tingene går lovligt til: De russiske myndigheder laver razziaer efter piratkopieret software hos aviser og tidsskrifter, der kritiserer regeringen – og ikke hos de officielle medier.

Dette er en strategi, som meget vel kan blive brugt til at kvæle alternative medier og græsrodsbevægelser også i Danmark. Løsning: Drop Microsoftprodukter. Brug fri software.

Cory Doctorow fortæller på Boing Boing:

Russian police use the pretense of enforcing Microsoft’s copyrights as an excuse to raid the offices of human rights, environmental and dissident NGOs, and Microsoft has not intervened to stop it, even when the groups are using legitimate, licensed copies of Microsoft software. Police often claim to have discovered pirated software on seized computers even before examining them, and claim that the investigations come at Microsoft’s requests. Microsoft lawyers have cooperated with raids on opposition newspapers, whose editors say that the raids would not have taken place without Microsoft’s complicity. During raids, police have been spotted removing Microsoft “Certificate of Authenticity” stickers on confiscated PCs. Microsoft’s lawyers testified in support of police claims that pirated software was found on PCs, even though the court later found that the PCs were never examined.

Interviews and a review of law enforcement documents show that in recent cases, Microsoft lawyers made statements describing the company as a victim and arguing that criminal charges should be pursued.The lawyers rebuffed pleas by accused journalists and advocacy groups, including Baikal Wave, to refrain from working with the authorities. Baikal Wave, in fact, said it had purchased and installed legal Microsoft software specifically to deny the authorities an excuse to raid them. The group later asked Microsoft for help in fending off the police. “Microsoft did not want to help us, which would have been the right thing to do,” said Marina Rikhvanova, a Baikal Environmental Wave co-chairwoman and one of Russia’s best-known environmentalists. “They said these issues had to be handled by the security services.”

Microsoft executives in Moscow and at the company’s headquarters in Redmond, Wash., asserted that they did not initiate the inquiries and that they took part in them only because they were required to do so under Russian law.

Russia Uses Microsoft to Suppress Dissent

Update, 14. september: Så meget jeg end mener, der kan være grund til at kritisere Microsoft for deres misbrug af eget monopol og generelt underlige forretningsmoral, har de tilsyneladende faktisk slået bremsen i her, efter historien var oppe i New York Times.

Stephen J. Vaughan-Nichols skriver:

After the New York Times reported that Microsoft lawyers have helped Russian authorities to raid advocacy groups and newspapers in the name of copyright enforcement in recent years, Microsoft slammed on the brakes on its copyright enforcement policies. Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith wrote in his blog, “We want to be clear that we [Microsoft] unequivocally abhor any attempt to leverage intellectual property rights to stifle political advocacy or pursue improper personal gain.”

What’s even more impressive was that Smith then wrote, “To prevent non-government organizations from falling victim to nefarious actions taken in the guise of anti-piracy enforcement, Microsoft will create a new unilateral software license for NGOs that will ensure they have free, legal copies of our products.”

With this move, Microsoft stops any government from using Microsoft software licensing as an excuse to seize computers and shut down organizations. Of course, governments can also find another excuse, but Microsoft won’t be a party to their efforts to suppress dissent.

Det kan dog stadig bruges mod kritiske medier, hvis de ikke er NGOer, måske. Men noget er noget. Lad os holde øje med, hvordan historien udvikler sig.

Spar finanskrisen væk med fri software

Alverdens firmaer og regeringer kunne spare – nej, der er ikke for mange nuller: Fem tusind milliarder kroner ved at gå over til fri/open source software og spare de dyre licenser, har forretningsmand og grundlægger af open source-firmaet Cygnus Michael Tiemann beregnet, skriver Computerworld:

Michael Tiermann fremhæver i et interview med Computerworlds engelske søsterblad, at hvis alle virksomheder gik over til open source-licenser, ville de samlet årligt spare fem billioner kroner – svarende til fem tusinde milliarder kroner – eller slet og ret kroner.

Det astronomiske beløb har Michael Tiermann sjusset sig frem til ved at gå ud fra analysehusets Gartners beregninger om et verdensomspændende årligt it-budget på 17,3 billioner kroner i 2008.

Erfaringer med, at mellem 18 til 30 procent af budgettet bliver brugt på proprietær software, giver et årligt forbrug mellem tre og fem billioner kroner i, hvad Michael Tiermann kalder “dødsvægt-udgifter”.

Han fremhæver i en  publikation fra Open Source Initiative, at det har været fremme, at it-industrien sidste år samlet set tabte omkring 305 milliarder kroner i tabte licenskroner, fordi folk og virksomheder benyttede open source-software frem for proprietære softwarelicenser.

“Det er helt sikkert historien om glasset, der er halvtomt eller halvfyldt, for de kunder, der brugte færre penge på it-udstyr, kunne jo skabe mere værdi for dem selv,” forklarer Michael Tiermann om, at samfundet ville have godt af besparelserne.

Og så er der også meget solide politiske og forbrugermæssige fordele ved fri software – læs selv mere i linksene herunder.

Link:  Spar kroner med open source
(med tak til Martin Pihl).

Læs også:

Økonomisk støtte til fri software

Den hurtigste måde at komme i gang med at lave noget ny software er ofte at basere sig på nogle af de mange, mere eller mindre standardiserede, biblioteker, der allerede findes.

Som oftest vil disse komponenter være fri/Open Source og dermed gratis at bruge i ens eget produkt – vil man have et indtryk af, hvor (svimlende) mange, der egentlig er, kan man kaste et blik på Savannah eller freshmeat.

Men det betyder, at man som mindre virksomhed let risikerer at blive afhængig af software, som andre stiller gratis til rådighed. Hvordan ved man, at folkene bag vil blive ved med at opdatere, fejlrette og generelt vedligeholde de biblioteker, man skal bruge?

For de helt store projekters vedkommende er det klart nok – Linux eller Apache har en så massiv opbakning, at de nok skal blive ved med at være der.

De fleste Open Source-projekter er imidlertid små og drives enten i folks fritid og/eller af enkelt- eller fåmandsfirmaer, der lever af at hjælpe folk med at få deres egne programmer til at virke eller lave skræddersyede udvidelser til dem.

Hvis et firma er i den situation at være afhængig af et bestemt stykke fri software, kan det altså forekomme at være en særdeles god investering at bidrage til projektet bag for at sikre dets fremtid – og hvis ikke med råd eller dåd, så gerne med et økonomisk bidrag i ny og næ.

Da et sådant frivilligt bidrag må kunne sidestilles med de udgifter, man kan have til licenser på kommerciel software, må det også kunne trækkes fra i skat. Eller hur?

Annette Sand driver på sin blog en brevkasse med Q/A for iværksættere, og her finder vi bl.a. dette spørgsmål og svar:

• Kan frivillige bidrag til Open Source trækkes fra i moms eller skat?

Jeg har min egen lille personlige etmandsvirksomhed, og jeg bruger stort set fri software til alt. Derfor vil jeg meget gerne give noget igen til forskellige projekter, og ofte er der en donationsmulighed på de forskellige projekters hjemmeside, f.eks. via PayPal.

Hidtil har jeg antaget, at hvis et projekt ikke har annonceret at de har fået bevilliget en eller anden status som organisation, så kan beløbet ikke fradrages hverken i moms eller skat. Men nu er jeg kommet i tvivl om sidstnævnte, altså muligheden for i det mindste at anføre mine “udgifter” til software under skatteberettigede fradrag. Og selvom et stort projekt har fået en offentlig anerkendelse fra f.eks. de amerikanske myndigheder, så er det vel næppe noget, man kan bruge i sit regnskab her i Danmark?

• Momsmæssigt er der ingen tvivl: For at man kan trække momsen fra, skal der være tale om en regning, hvoraf momsbeløbet fremgår. (Og kun dansk moms i det danske momsregnskab.) Så du kan ikke trække momsen fra dine donationer.

Om udgiften til dine donationer kan trækkes fra skattemæssigt er mere usikkert. Grundlæggende mener jeg ikke, de er fradragsberettigede, fordi udgiften ikke direkte medgår til at “erhverve, sikre og vedligeholde indkomsten” i din virksomhed.  Hvis du på den anden side driver en virksomhed baseret på opensource software og kan tiltrække kunder netop på det grundlag, herunder at du reklamerer med at “firma xx støtter følgende opensource projekter….:” på f.eks. hjemmeside og i andet reklamemateriale, kan man måske argumentere, at der er tale om en fradragsberettiget reklameudgift.

Bidrager du med et beløb til direkte udvikling af et modul/program/koncept, som du skal bruge i din egen virksomhed, kan man ligestille udgiften med køb af software – som så bare stilles til rådighed for andre også.

Svaret er ikke helt tilfredsstillende, fordi et løbende, frivilligt bidrag til et projekt, der leverer en komponent, som ens egen virksomhed afhænger af, kan forekomme lige så “nødvendigt” som en Word-licens (hvis nogen altså gider bruge det skrammel) og derfor burde kunne trækkes lige så meget fra i skat.

I USA er nogle foreninger, der producerer fri software, for eksempel Free Software Foundation, godkendt som velgørende organisationer, så bidrag til dem kan trækkes fra i skat.

Måske man burde indføre noget lignende i Danmark eller på europæisk plan; man kunne forstille sig, at et projekt blot skal godkendes som værende seriøst, og så snart det er godkendt, kan bidrag til det automatisk trækkes fra, fordi projektets formål (at bidrage til den samlede pulje af fri software) anses for at være samfundsnyttigt i sig selv.

Eller noget – mere fornuftige forslag modtages gerne.

Tak for tippet til Rene, der skriver:

Jeg er selv begyndt at se meget på det økonomiske aspekt af FOSS. Da mange af de programmer, jeg hyppigt gør brug af, ofte er så små, at de ingen seriøse sponsorater har, så formoder jeg, at udviklerne ville sætte pris på et ekstra incitament i form af et tilskud til huslejen.

Nogle få udviklere (f.eks. Paul Davis fra Ardour) giver mulighed for, at man kan donere med et fast månedligt beløb (typisk 10 USD). Jeg håber lidt, at andre tager idéen op, for i praksis må det være guld værd, at man har en omtrentlig formodning om hvor meget, der kommer ind i bidrag hver måned. Hvis de er rigtigt heldige, så kan de finde et deltidsjob for resten, og dermed dedikere sig rimelig samvittighedsfuldt til deres projekt.

Link: Støtte til Open Source-projekter

Fri software som politisk bevægelse

James Love har en glimrende artikel på Huffington Post, hvor han forklarer, hvorfor han selv er glad for at bruge fri software på sin computer, og hvorfor andre “progressive” burde gøre det samme:

Like nearly everyone else these days, I use computers to write, read email, browse the web, store music and photos, and generally organize my life. Unlike most people, I’m using a free operating system, rather than Microsoft’s Windows/Vista, or Apple’s Mac OS. Specifically, I’m using Ubuntu, a popular distribution of GNU/Linux.

It’s hard to explain the experience without trying it. Using any Debian type Linux distribution (such as Ubuntu), it is very easy to find, install and update software. Pretty much everything I use is available at a zero price. Linux isn’t a program, but rather a collection of thousands of programs that work together, each maintained by different communities. Most share the source code they develop, allowing others to copy, modify and incorporate code into new and even competing programs.

Linux is a possible future, one that isn’t controlled by Microsoft or Apple, and one that responds to a different set of values. Ubuntu is so good that it now seems plausible to anticipate a significant shift from Apple and Microsoft to Linux. This would be no small thing, increasing the odds that the Internet will continue to develop in ways that empowers users. Linux provides a powerful counterweight to companies or governments that undermine innovation, privacy and freedom, benefits that should not be taken for granted or undervalued.

Med andre ord: Fri software sikrer, at brugeren har og beholder kontrollen over, hvad der foregår på hans computer, og gør det muligt at sikre sig mod regeringsstøttede og andre trusler mod ens privatliv.

Hele fri software-bevægelsen er en vigtig modvægt mod hele den tendens til overvågning og central kontrol, vi ser i de senere år, en bevægelse, der tager handsken op ved selv at skabe programmer, der kan fungere som modvægt til monopolernes kontrol over brugerne og regeringernes indgreb. Og så er det ved at være oppe i et stabilt teknisk leje, hvor man sagtens kunne installere det på sin bedstemors computer. Men læs endelig bare hele Loves artikel.

Cory Doctorow: Drop Mac for fri software (og meget mere)

Den canadiske forfatter Cory Doctorow taler i et længere interview med Chicago Tribune blandt meget andet om, hvorfor han har droppet Mac og er gået helt over til Ubuntu og fri software:

They say a conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged. You know, a free software advocate is a Mac user who’s found his data locked in. I’m now a full-on free software person. I don’t use proprietary stuff.

As a philosophical point?

But as a philosophy that arose from self-preservation. I have Logo programs on my laptop that I wrote on 1979 on an Apple II Plus that can still be read and executed. But I have data from a period later when I started using proprietary systems that can’t be read at all. There’s material I produced in Ready, Set, Go! for the Mac that’s locked in pretty much forever because I had forgotten the lesson of open file formats.

There’s the famous Franklin quote: Those who would give up freedom to win security deserve neither. And some friends of mine repurposed it as: Those who would give up openness for a little eye candy deserve neither. There is something to that. And im a full time Linux dude now. It matters.

Læs også om overvågning, borgerrettigheder og om hvad, der i Doctorows optik kan/skal gøres ved den vej, vinden blæser i disse år. Link.