EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS


Q&A With Puppet Labs’ James Turnbull Regarding Pro Puppet

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Interview at 12:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

[As ODF | As PDF]


As someone who deals with Puppet quite a lot at work, I had the great pleasure of speaking to longtime open source pundit James Turnbull, who recently co-authored his latest book “Pro Puppet” through Apress Media with colleague Jeffrey McCune of Puppet Labs. This is his fifth technical book about open source software. “Pro Puppet” is an in-depth book about how to install, use, and develop Puppet, the popular open source systems management platform used by organizations including Twitter, Rackspace, Digg, Genentech and more.

Q&A with James Turnbull

1. What in your estimation is the number of servers (including virtual instances) that run Puppet at any level of capacity?

A: This is a question that I ponder every few months. Our largest installation is around 50,000 nodes and we have several more at the 25,000 to 50,000 node range. Given the size of the community, I think we’ve quite easily reached the million plus node mark.

“Given the size of the community, I think we’ve quite easily reached the million plus node mark.”
      –James Turnbull
2. Throughout your work on the book, have you had a chance to
measure/survey the operating systems on which Puppet is deployed? Have you any insight regarding the distribution of usage?

A: Puppet Labs did a survey earlier in the year and gathered some data about usage. Based on that and interactions with the community I think we can pretty comfortably say that our core operating systems are Linux-based with Red Hat (and derivatives) and Ubuntu/Debian being the biggest platforms. The next largest block is Solaris with a smaller number of OSX, *BSD, HP UX and pSeries/AIX systems also being represented.

3. There is a common perception that Free/Open Source software suffers from deficient documentation and lack of support (despite this being the business model of many companies). How do you challenge these types of allegations?

A: This is a common perception that regularly makes me laugh. I usually respond that all software has deficient documentation and lacks support! It’s true some open source tools lack documentation but others, for example MySQL, have exemplary documentation. Some open source software communities are hard to get help from and others fall over themselves to help people out. I’m always immensely proud of how the Puppet community, which is largely made up of some of the busiest people in IT – sysadmins, goes out of its way to help newcomers and share knowledge.

Of course this same problem is present across enterprise and commercial software. Otherwise authors wouldn’t be able to sell books offering insights into using commercial software. :) It’s even perhaps somewhat worse for enterprise software where submitting a bug request can lack transparency and where examples of how others have solved issues can be hard to find or perceived as proprietary information.

4. How can your book address or assist a crowd of people with no prior knowledge of UNIX/Linux and how can it assist those who are familiar with everything but Puppet?

A: Pro Puppet is aimed at users with some Linux/Unix knowledge, albeit at a fairly basic level — a few friends and I created an earlier book called Pro Linux System Administration designed to teach someone with zero Linux knowledge how to be a Linux sysadmin. Pro Puppet is aimed at junior and mid-level sysadmins looking to get started with Puppet and take them through to advanced topics like scaling and extending Puppet.

5. What impact do you foresee the licensing changes from the GPL to the Apache licence as having?

A: Both the GPL and Apache licenses are free and open source licenses and we’re very much staying true to our open source roots. However where we are with Puppet now we need a license that people, for whatever reasons, consider easier to integrate with. In the open source world that license is Apache and we’re already starting to see Puppet being used heavily as an integrated tools in Cloud and Infrastructure/Platform as a service (IAAS, PAAS) offerings as a result.

6. Manual operators of Puppet seem to rely mostly on the initial setup. What proportion of the work would you say a Puppet expert needs to invest in setting up the software compared to the overall lifetime of a box and its operation?

A: With Puppet, the large proportion of the work you need to do to get started is up front. Once you’ve done that work setting up new boxes becomes a routine and easy task. Maintaining and managing them is also fast and simple. Indeed, one of the benefits of Puppet is that not only do you get fast and automated setup, but you can make sure they stay the way you configured them for as long as you need. That ability to stem the tide of configuration drift and limit the potential for human error and entropy causing issues is an enormous timesaver.

7. What is the most eccentric/fascinating/uncommon use of Puppet that you have come across?

A: One that fascinated me recently is the Deutsche Flugsicherung, the German air traffic control network, who use Puppet to ensure all the operator workstations and tower servers are up to date. They have a very strict and structured work flow and an interesting deployment model where any configuration drift is anathema. I also find Air Traffic Control really interesting (I’m a geek it’s true) so it was pretty exciting to see Puppet being used in such an interesting arena.

8. Puppet functionality lags behind in platforms such as Windows. What would you advise organisations that choose to run it on this platform?

A: We’re actively working on Microsoft Windows support but we’re not there yet. What we’d love to see is people telling us what they need. I’m not primarily a Windows guy so I actually don’t know what the pain points are for Windows sysadmins. If a few of them could tell us “If you automated these 4, 5, 10 things that would make my job easier!” then that would help us structure that future support.

9. How does Puppet compare to its proprietary counterparts?

A: I think the key difference is time to value or as I prefer “how long before I’m doing something useful”. Often when you install one of the larger proprietary tools it can take significant time and people to deliver value or to get things done. We find people can download Puppet, install it and be doing something useful in a matter of minutes or an hour rather than months.

“One of the new features in Puppet 2.6.0 though was a Ruby DSL for Puppet. This allows any developer (and sysadmins too) to write their Puppet manifests in Ruby.”
      –James Turnbull
10. If one receives proper training or learns from your book, how would the difficulty of using Puppet compare to the difficulty of using other products that are out in the market?

A: I think Puppet is pretty easy to use (but I’m also biased!). It does have rough edges and things that are hard to get your head around though. One thing I think we do really well in the book is build on knowledge. You can start simple and grow into the more complex topics. I think having that sort of resource makes it really easy for people to learn how to use Puppet. The other resource I’m really excited about is a new section in the documentation called Learning Puppet (http://docs.puppetlabs.com/learning/) that offers a similar “grow into using it” experience.

I think as a result of having the book plus documentation and training available that makes Puppet a lot less difficult to understand than some of the alternatives out there.

11. How would you say the Puppet learning curve compares if a programmer and non-programmer were both faced with the task of learning it?

A: I recently came to the conclusion that I now spend more time cutting code than I do being a sysadmin which is a big change in my life. As a result I’ve been thinking about how both groups approach learning and problems. I think for a lot of sysadmins Puppet is very easy to engage with. Puppet’s language is a logical extension for people use to dealing with configuration files and scripts.

For developers that’s perhaps not as natural a progression and some have struggled in the past with learning Puppet. One of the new features in Puppet 2.6.0 though was a Ruby DSL for Puppet. This allows any developer (and sysadmins too) to write their Puppet manifests in Ruby. This approach is something that may make more sense and make it easier for developers to learn Puppet.

As a result of this Ruby interface (which we cover in the book too) I think the learning curve for both non-developers and developers is rapidly approaching parity.


We would like to thank James for being available for this interchange of insights and we hope his literature will spread Puppet to more and more companies, aiding the spread of Free/open source in systems management. Puppet sure helps the company that I work for.


ES: Entrevista Exclusiva con la Revista Linux Format

Posted in Interview, Site News at 12:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Linux Format

(ODF | PDF | English/original)

Linux Format articleSummario del Articulo: entrevista a Techrights en diciembre 2010 de la revista Linux Format

PARA AQUELLOS que no lograrón comprar la edición de diciembre de Linux Format, hay una entrevista a mí no, como se señaló hace unos meses[http://techrights.org/2010/10/18/linux-format-coverage/]. He aquí el texto en bruto como es de esperar, explica un poco más sobre Techrights y su servidor.

* ¿Cómo te involucraste en Open Source?

Me hice consciente por primera vez de UNIX y Linux en algún tiempo en los años 90, cuando algunos amigos de la escuela lo utilizaban experimentalmente. En las clases de ciencias de la computación (mis mayores) había muchos de nosotros los geeks. No fue sino hasta hace diez años que me introducieron a Red Hat y se convirtí en un usuario de inmediato. Me encantarón muchas cosas al respecto. En 2001 estaba escribiendo y compartiendo todos mis programas como software libre y en 2002 conseguí un trabajo en el que escribía el código con la Licencia Pública General, GPL (en su mayoría programas basados en GTK). Esto entonces me introdujó a GNU y pronto aprendí más sobre su filosofía asociada. En ese momento yo no estaba usando el término “código abierto”, aunque era consciente de la palabra. No fue hasta mucho más tarde (alrededor de 2005)cuando me di cuenta de que el término debe ser utilizado con el fin de armonizar mejor con la gran prensa, que tienden a caracterizar como “Open Source” el código que todo el mundo comparte de esta manera. Para mí, el intercambio de código fue siempre natural y nunca escribí ningún software propietario en toda mi vida. No tengo la intención de hacerlo, tampoco. Es posible ser pagado por escribir código para que tu conserves todos los derechos sensibles. Es más gratificante y motivador, no sólo beneficioso para los compañeros. No hay sensación mejor que ayudar a aquellos que te ayudan. Este período de mi vida también me hizo participar como colaborador en varios proyectos libres y proyectos de código abierto, en particular, WordPress que he usado mucho.

En los casos en que el código de mis colegas no eran realmente licenciados (sólo con derechos de autor, naturalmente), trató de fomentar el intercambio de código porque como científico sé que nuestro trabajo conjunto tendría un mayor impacto si se ha adoptado y utilizado por otros. Por lo tanto, mi participación en “Open Source” era más que sobre el código, una forma de vida y yo todavía trato de promover los principios de software libre/código abierto en el contexto de los datos, del hardware, de la literatura, y las ciencias en general . La transparencia no es la ventaja clave en mis ojos, es más que ver con la promoción de la abundancia en vez de la escasez en que las limitaciones en el acceso sólo son artificiales. Restricciones que potencian mas a los que ya están en el poder y no tiene por qué ser de esa manera, sobre todo, no en el mundo digital.

* ¿Qué es TechRights?

TechRights es una plataforma en la que se expresan una cadena de ideas, prestandonos de los establecimientos influyentes e importantes como la Fundacón del Software Libre FSF sin embargo, actuando con absoluta independencia (no hay fuentes de financiación y por lo tanto no hay autocensura o prejuicio). TechRights puede considerarse como un complemento a algunos grupos, pero cualquier similitud tal es sólo la percepción como nunca hubo ninguna afiliación. TechRights tiene 3 nombres de dominio y una serie de actividades/componentes, tales como un blog, un wiki, y tres canales de comunicación en tiempo real (IRC), divididos por temas. Hace varios meses también hemos añadido las distinciones basadas en ángulo, clasificados bajo las banderas llamado “TechRights”, “TechWrongs”, y “TechChoices”. El enfoque del sitio es Novell, Microsoft, e incluso a veces Apple no porque son la única amenaza a las libertades de las personas y los derechos digitales, en el campo del software éstas son las áreas en las que tienen mayor interés, antes de material de apoyo, y la experiencia.

* ¿Cuál es la historia de TechRights?

TechRights es el nombre del sitio propuesto por Tracy, el que nos aloja el sitio Web. Necesitábamos un nombre nuevo al alcance del sitio se había expandido. Fue hace mucho tiempo. Esperamos que para invertir la connotación de la palabra “derechos”, que es cada vez más secuestrada por aquellos que se apropian de los derechos de las personas.

* TechRights se llamaba Boicot Novell, ¿por qué el cambio de nombre?

Sí, “Boycott Novell” fue creada por Shane pocos días después de Novell y Microsoft habían firmado su problemático acuerdo de patentes . El sitio se esperaba tenga un estrecho enfoque y tratamos precisamente este aspecto uno de los problemas que el software libre estaba teniendo. Según recuerdo, “Boicot Novell” era en realidad un nombre de categoría en el blog personal y técnica de Shane, pero se convirtió en su propio nombre de dominio y muchas personas muy pronto se subscribieron al sitio. Como sus lectores creció, la gama de temas fue ampliada. En el momento de unirse al sitio – muy poco después de su creación – Yo estaba trabajando en mi doctorado tesis y tenía un montón de tiempo libre que yo solía escribir un gran número de puestos para el sitio. Por el momento tenemos alrededor de 11.000 entradas del blog, un poco más de un centenar de megabytes de los registros de IRC, y varias otras páginas que ha editado activamente por la comunidad. Esperamos que la cantidad no ha comprometido la calidad.

* ¿Todavía siento que todos debemos Boicotear a Novell?

No estoy en condiciones de decirle a la gente lo qué va hacer, pero les aconsejo que la gente piense cuidadosamente acerca de las tácticas de venta de Novell *SLE (SUSE Linux Enterprise) con las patentes de software. Novell ha intentado cambiar las reglas al IMPONER a GNU/Linux, UNA RESTRICCION que no existía previamente. Novell se acerco a Microsoft y negocio por cerca de medio año lo que más tarde se convirtió en un acuerdo de patentes. Esto puso a Novell en una posición de percibida ventaja sobre Red Hat y otros. Desde entonces, Novell ha instado a las empresas a comprar SuSE basado en las patentes de software de Novell (Novell eufemísticamente llama “la tranquilidad de PAZ DE PROPIEDAD INTELECTUAL”), el cual Novell convirtió en un punto de venta en este campo de batalla donde las patentes de software son antitéticos.

El nombre de “Boicot Novell” nunca fue mi idea y siempre he sentido cierta inquietud acerca del nombre (que sonaba demasiado negativo y el 80% de mi impresiones fueron positivas), pero sí animo a la gente a votar con sus carteras y recompensar a las compañías que no están utilizando las patentes de software para vender sus productos. Para GNU/Linux que el mercado prosperen y que para las nuevas empresas que se derivan o sagan de ella, las patentes de software tendrá que ser detenidas. Novell no es única en ese sentido y TechRights intenta hacer frente a los problemas, no sólo a los jugadores individuales.

* TechRights ha sido un lugar controvertido, ¿cuál es su opinión sobre la controversia?

Cada persona o plataforma que se atreve a tocar temas delicados está destinado a ser etiquetados como “controvertido” o ser caracterizado como “irracionales” por sus adversarios. Esto es especialmente cierto cuando uno se aparta de los debates puramente técnico. Con los años hemos tenido personas que distorsionan o tergiversan nuestras opiniones, que son más difíciles de controlar o manejar cuando se trabaja dentro de un marco de participación de muchas personas o cuando la gente propaga falsos rumores (desinformación) desde el exterior. Por ejemplo, algunas personas empezaron a asociar el puntos vista formal del sitio con la gente que acaba de dejar comentarios en él, o entrar en el canal de IRC. Algunas personas erróneamente suponían que una protesta en la India – va bajo el lema “Boicot Novell” – fue de alguna manera organizada por el sitio Web.

Lo que encontramos alentador, es aunque que cuando la gente viene a hablar con nosotros directamente pronto se dan cuenta que somos gente decente y los estereotipos/caricaturas que a veces flotan por ahí son sólo demonizaciones diseñado para marginar a nuestros puntos de vista. Es evidente que hay algunas empresas por ahí que no está contento con nuestro trabajo. Pero la verdad duele a veces. Dado que estamos abiertos a comentarios, las empresas tienen la oportunidad de impugnar todas las demandas, no a traves de ataques ad hominem, sino de un debate racional. Ya hemos tenido anónimos empleados de Novell tirando barro a los mensajeros en el sitio y desde fuera del sitio. Por lo general, se exponen al final y luego se desvanecen.

* ¿Qué cambios le gustaría ver que suceda en el Open Source para aliviar algunas de sus preocupaciones?

Hay muchas cuestiones que deben corregir y por permanecer pasivos nunca nada va a mejorar, sino sólo va a empeorar. Una de las áreas en las que participamos activamente es la terminación de las patentes de software, que deben ser eliminados, incluso en el mundo Open Source (IBM, por ejemplo, deberían replantearse su política de patentes porque estan a favor de las patentes de software). El Open Source y la comunidad de software libre debe estar abiertos a la crítica desde dentro, incluso si esta crítica es un poco incómodo a veces. El objetivo final es permitir que más usuarios y desarrolladores, que con el tiempo parecen ser cada vez más draconianamente capturados por las entidades centralizadas, como tiendas de aplicaciones que censuran, los llamadas “nubes” que se gestionan desde lejos, y licencias restrictivas que ratificar y consolidar DRM -Digital Restrictions Management , matan a los aparatos, y invasiones y violaciónes a la vida privada de las personas.

* ¿Cuáles cree que es el futuro de TechRights?

TechRights es una plataforma que está en manos de muchas personas y si ayuda a los asuntos de fuera vista diferente, entonces sabemos que hicimos nuestra parte. La mayor parte de la actividad se lleva a cabo en el IRC, así que mientras nuestra comunidad conduce el programa en determinadas direcciones, que será el futuro de la plataforma.

En el futuro esperamos mantener los recursos de información por escrito en un idioma que es más defensiva que ofensiva. Cuando se trata de temas difíciles, donde los detractores de la libertad se maliciosamente activos, existe la tentación de perder la compostura. El objetivo final es educar más, menos de hacer campaña. Nosotros no organizamos campañas de difusión, pero a veces los memes cómicas que ayudan a advertir sobre los peligros de la etiqueta con el fin de crear conciencia. Por ejemplo, podemos escribir constantemente “Vista 7″, “Niebla de Informática”, y “hypePad”, todos los cuales son términos diseñados para transmitir las desventajas reales de las últimas amenazas a la libertad de software.

Si la gente tiene ideas que se quieren promover o problemas que quieren que se traten, son bienvenidos y alentó incluso, para que puedan entrar y conocer a nuestra comunidad, preferentemente en el IRC. Muchos de nuestros artículos de divulgación fueron posibles gracias a filtraciones de información (los denunciantes anónimos), que arrojan luz sobre actos ilícitos que habían presenciado. Si no hubiera sido por todas estas aportaciones, TechRights no estaría aquí. La plataforma es cada vez más crowdsourced en su mayor parte, lo que hace más eficaz y precisa.

[Many thanks to Eduardo for his translation.]


Raw Interview With Linux Format Magazine

Posted in Interview, Site News at 2:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Linux Format

Linux Format articleSummary: Techrights interview from the December 2010 issue of Linux Format Magazine

FOR THOSE who did not managed to buy December’s issue of Linux Format, there’s an interview with me there, as noted some months ago. Here is the raw text which hopefully explains a little more about Techrights and yours truly.

* How did you get involved in Open Source?

I was first made aware of UNIX and Linux some time in the 90s when few friends from school used them experimentally. In computer science classes (my majors) there were many of us geeks. It wasn’t until ten years ago that I got introduced to Red Hat and became a user immediately. I loved so many things about it. In 2001 I was writing and sharing all my programs as Free software and in 2002 I got a job where I wrote GPL-licensed code (mostly GTK based). This then introduced me to GNU and I soon learned more about the associated philosophy. At the time I was not using the term “Open Source” although I was aware of the term. It wasn’t until much later (around 2005) that I realised the term ought to be used in order to better align with the mainstream press, which tended to characterise as “Open Source” code that everyone shared in this way. To me, sharing of code was always natural and I never wrote any proprietary software in my entire life. I don’t intend to, either. It is possible to get paid to write code to which you retain all sensible rights. It’s more rewarding and motivational, not just beneficial to one’s peers. There is no better feeling than to help those who help you. This period of my life also got me involved as a contributor in several Free/Open Source projects, notably WordPress which I used a lot.

In cases where colleagues’ code was not truly licensed (just copyrighted, naturally), I did try to encourage the sharing of code because as a scientist I knew that our joint work would have greater impact if it was adopted and used by others. Thus, my involvement in “Open Source” was more than about code; it was a way of life and I still try to advance the principles of Free software/Open Source in the context of data, literature, hardware, and the sciences in general. Transparency is not the key advantage in my eyes; it is more to do with promoting abundance rather than scarcity where limitations on access are only artificial. Restrictions empower those already in power and it doesn’t have to be that way, especially not in the digital world.

* What is TechRights?

TechRights is a platform where a strand of ideas are expressed, borrowing from influential and important establishments like the Free Software Foundation yet acting completely independently (there are no sources of funding and thus no self censorship or bias). TechRights can be seen as complementary to some groups, but any such similarity is only perceptual as there was never any affiliation. TechRights has 3 domain names and several activities/components, such as a blog, a wiki, and three real-time communication channels (IRC) divided by topics. Several months ago we also added angle-based distinctions, categorised under the banners named “TechRights”, “TechWrongs”, and “TechChoices”. The site’s focus is Novell, Microsoft, and sometimes even Apple not because they are the sole threat to people’s freedoms and digital rights; in the field of software these are the areas where we have greater interest, prior supportive material, and expertise.

* What is the history of TechRights?

TechRights is the site name proposed by Tracy, the guy who is hosting the Web site. We needed a new name when the site’s scope had expanded. It was long overdue. We hope to invert the connotation of the word “rights”, which is increasingly being hijacked by those who take people’s rights away.

* TechRights used to be called Boycott Novell, why the name change?

Yes, “Boycott Novell” was created by Shane just days after Novell and Microsoft had signed their problematic patent deal. The site was expected to have narrow focus and deal with just this one aspect of the problem Free software was having. As I recall it, “Boycott Novell” was actually a category name in Shane’s personal/technical blog, but it became its own domain name and soon enough many people subscribed to the site. As readership grew, the range of topics expanded. At the time of joining the site — very shortly after its inception — I was working on my Ph.D. thesis and I had a lot of spare time which I used to write a large number of posts for the site. At the moment we have about 11,000 blog posts, just over a hundred megabytes of IRC logs, and various other pages that are actively edited by the community. We hope that quantity has not compromised quality.

* Do you still feel we should all Boycott Novell?

I am not in a position to tell people what to do, but I advise people to think carefully about Novell’s tactics of selling SLE* (SUSE Linux Enterprise) using software patents. Novell has attempted to change the rules by imposing on GNU/Linux a restriction that never existed beforehand. Novell came to Microsoft and negotiated for about half a year what later became a patent deal. This put Novell in a position of perceived advantage over Red Hat et al. Since then, Novell has been urging businesses to buy SUSE based on Novell’s software patents (Novell euphemistically calls it “IP peace of mind”), which Novell turned into a selling point in this battlefield where software patents are antithetical.

The name “Boycott Novell” was never my idea and I have always felt some unease about the name (it sounded too negative and about 80% of my output was positive), but I do encourage people to vote with their wallets and reward companies that are not using software patents to sell their products. For the GNU/Linux market to thrive and for new businesses to be derived or emerge from it, software patents will need to be stopped. Novell is not unique in that regard and TechRights attempts to deal with the issues, not just individual players.

* TechRights has been a controversial site, what is your take on the controversy?

Every person or platform that dares to touch sensitive subjects is bound to be labelled “controversial” or be characterised as “irrational” by its adversaries. This is especially true when one departs from purely technical debates. Over the years we have had people distort or misrepresent our views, which are harder to control or manage when one works within a framework involving many people or when people spread false rumours (disinformation) from the outside. For instance, some people began to associate the site’s formal views with people who just leave comments in it or enter the IRC channel. Some people wrongly assumed that a protest in India — going under the banner “Boycott Novell” — was in some way organised by the Web site.

What we find encouraging though is that when people come and speak to us directly they soon realise that we are decent people and the stereotypes/caricatures that sometimes float out there are just daemonisations designed to marginalise our views. There are clearly some companies out there which are unhappy with our work. Truth hurts sometimes. Since we are open to feedback, companies have an opportunity to challenge every claim, not by ad hominem attacks but by rational debate. We have already had anonymous Novell employees smearing messengers from within the site and from outside the site. They usually get exposed at the end and then they vanish.

* What changes would you like to see happen in Open Source to alleviate some of your concerns?

There are many issues that need correcting and by staying passive nothing will ever improve, it will only get worse. One of the areas we are active in the ending of software patents, which need to be eliminated even in the Open Source world (IBM, for example, ought to rethink its patent policy because it’s pro-software patents). The Open Source/Free software community ought to be open to criticism from within, even if this criticism is somewhat discomforting at times. The ultimate goal is to further enable users and developers, who over time seem to be increasingly captured by draconian/centralised entities like application stores that censor, so-called ‘clouds’ which are managed from afar, and restrictive licences that ratify and solidify DRM, kill switches and violations of privacy.

* What do you see as the future for TechRights?

TechRights is a platform which is in many people’s hands and if it helps outsiders view matters differently, then we know we did our part. Most of the activity takes place in IRC, so as long as our community drives the agenda in particular directions, that will be the future of the platform.

In the future we hope to maintain information resources written in a language which is more defensive than offensive. When dealing with difficult subjects where detractors of freedom become maliciously active, it is tempting to lose one’s composure. The ultimate goal is to educate less than to campaign. We don’t organise campaigns but we sometimes spread comical memes that help warn about dangers which we label in order to raise awareness. For example, we consistently write “Vista 7″, “Fog Computing”, and “hypePad”, all of which are terms designed to convey the real downsides of those latest threats to software freedom.

If people have ideas which they want to promote or problems that they want to see addressed, they are most welcome and even encouraged, so they can come and meet our community, preferably in IRC. A lot of our popular articles were made possible by leakers of information (anonymised whistleblowers), who shed light on wrongdoings they had witnessed. Had it not been for all these contributions, TechRights would not be around. The platform is increasingly crowdsourced for the most part, which makes it more effective and accurate.


New Richard Stallman Interview About Software Patents

Posted in FSF, Interview, Patents, Videos at 12:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: ITNews has just published an interview where Richard Stallman speaks about software patents

YESTERDAY night we showed that ITNews unfairly accused Dr. Stallman of “crashing” an event (as in “Stallman crashes European Patent session”). Liz Tay has just posted a more polite article/headline which contains evidence of what the so-called ‘crashing’ was (in video form) and also the following interview with Stallman.

Thanks to ITNews for making the effort producing an Ogg version. Here is the remainder of their videos.

Techrights attempts to make everything available as Ogg and often it’s a compromise in the sense that there are interesting videos that cannot be shared.


PR Disaster: Discussion With Bill Gates Turns to “Death Panels ”

Posted in Antitrust, Bill Gates, Interview at 3:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Memories of the Connie Chung interview return to haunt as Bill Gates faces tough questions

BILL GATES does not like to be asked hard questions. At least once he abandoned an interview in the middle because he was asked a hard question (he probably bailed out of others before they could take place because his PR agents, e.g. Waggener Edstrom from Microsoft and the Gates Foundation, is known to be compiling dossiers on reporters to determine if communication with them is ‘safe’).

Essentially, Gates is using PR people to ensure in advance it’s just a few softball questions he will get, trying to control what the interviews (public appearances) ever cover. To quote from “Barbarians Led by Bill Gates”, a book composed by Pam Edstrom’s (of Waggener Edstrom) daughter:

By May of 1994, Gates’s patience was growing so thin that not even a public relations pro like Pam Edstrom could muzzle him.
On May 19, one of Edstrom’s biggest nightmares unfolded on national television. Gates had agreed to be interviewed by CBS’s Eye to Eye host Connie Chung. Chung said she wouldn’t ask Gates sensitive questions, particularly ones regarding the current Justice Department investigation. With that, “Gates’s keeper” swung open
the doors.
Gates was patient and accommodating during the interview, even when Chung asked him to jump over a chair from a standing position, a skill he demonstrated at various times, including once during COMDEX at the Shark’s Club in Las Vegas in front of a packed crowd of admirers and computer junkies. So, once again, Gates complied, successfully jumping over a chair for the camera crew and their network TV audience.
But by then Connie and company had outstayed their welcome. Gates turned to Edstrom.
“Is this five minutes up? Pam, I mean, do you know five minutes?” he drilled.
Edstrom replied with a simple yes, but Chung continued with her questioning, drifting further and further off limits. She asked about his wife, Melinda. Then she brought up the STAC lawsuit.
In early 1993, STAC Electronics, which made data compression software, had sued Microsoft for patent violation, claiming Microsoft had used these patents in DOS 6.0. STAC said Microsoft had been in negotiations to license “Stacker,” but talks disintegrated when Microsoft refused to pay the royalties STAC wanted. It was one of the only lawsuits Microsoft ever lost for patent infringement.
In preparation for her interview, Chung had talked to the CEO of STAC, Gary Clow, as well as other Gates rivals. She quoted a Clow comment to Gates on the air.
“A lot of people make that analogy that competing with Bill Gates is like playing hardball,” she had Clow saying. “I’d say it’s more like a knife fight.”
“I’ve never heard any of these things,” Gates said. “You know, you’re saying like a knife fight. That’s silliness. It’s—childish. I mean, why be a mouthpiece for that kind of—of silliness? Why doesn’t he just—just say them—anyway, it—because it has nothing to do with the patent lawsuit. It has to do with just, you know, creating a—you know, sort of a David versus Goliath thing out of it. Well, I’m done.”
And with that, Gates walked off the set.
“Can I just ask you one more question, Bill?” Chung said. His voice trailed off into the distance, “No, I don’t think so.” It wasn’t much later that Chung left CBS, and many people wondered if Gates had had something to do with it.

He chickened out. Now, watch the following new video, which somebody titled “Bill Gates Wants Death Panels: Dying People VS Teachers”

There are many comments here, such as the insinuation that Gates said: “SAVE A LIFE, FIRE A TEACHER”

And this is the person some people feel comfortable putting on top of the educating system?


Novell News Summary – Part III: Pulse With Google, Finance, Virtualisation and More

Posted in Finance, Google, Interview, Mail, Marketing, Novell, Ron Hovsepian, Videos, Virtualisation at 2:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Salt Lake Valley
Salt Lake Valley

Summary: Novell’s proprietary business assets and what they have been up to in the past week

NOVELL news coverage has recently been overwhelmed by the big bid [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. Novell’s PR team has been very active despite all of this and it hardly even mentioned the bid, instead choosing to focus on fluff like SaaS and a survey that Novell was conducting itself in order to support its position, apparently.

Read the rest of this entry »


Novell News Summary – Part III: SCO Updates, Financial Results Are Near

Posted in Finance, Google, Interview, Marketing, Microsoft, NetWare, Novell, Ron Hovsepian, SCO, Security, Servers, UNIX, Virtualisation, Xen at 3:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Davis Canyon moonrise

Summary: News touching on Novell’s non-Free/libre component of the business

THIS is the third part which covers Novell news from the first two weeks of February. This part covers Novell’s proprietary side, of which there is a lot (Novell is predominantly a closed-source company). What we happen to have found along the way this week is that Novell is not just a company that makes jewelry; there is yet another company called Novell Pharmaceutical Laboratories. Here is what we gather from the press release:

Read the rest of this entry »


Richard Stallman: Freedom Campaigner

Posted in Boycott Novell, Free/Libre Software, FSF, GNU/Linux, Interview at 5:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Who are you, and what do you do?

I‘m Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Movement. I campaign for computer users’ freedom — for instance, your freedom to control the software you use, to redistribute the software to others. Software that respects the user’s freedom is what we call free software.

In 1983 I announced the plan to develop a complete free operating system called GNU. The system that millions of people use, and often refer to as “Linux”, is a variant of the GNU system.

What hardware are you using?

I am using a Lemote Yeelong, a netbook with a Loongson chip and a 9-inch display. This is my only computer, and I use it all the time. I chose it because I can run it with 100% free software even at the BIOS level.

And what software?

To initialize the machine and boot, it uses PMON. Above that, it uses gNewSense, one of the totally free GNU/Linux distros.

I spend most of my time using Emacs. I run it on a text console, so that I don’t have to worry about accidentally touching the mouse-pad and moving the pointer, which would be a nuisance. I read and send mail with Emacs (mail is what I do most of the time).

I switch to the X console when I need to do something graphical, such as look at an image or a PDF file.

Most of the time I do not have an Internet connection. Once or twice or maybe three times a day I connect and transfer mail in and out. Before sending mail, I always review and revise the outgoing messages. That gives me a chance to catch mistakes and faux pas.

What would be your dream setup?

I would ideally like to have a machine with the speed and memory of a laptop, and the display size of a laptop too, combined with the same freedom that I have now on the Yeelong.

Until I can have them both, freedom is my priority. I’ve campaigned for freedom since 1983, and I am not going to surrender that freedom for the sake of a more convenient computer.

I do hope to switch soon to a newer model of Yeelong with a 10-inch display.

This interview is available under the Attribution No Derivatives license.

« Previous Page« Previous entries « Previous Page · Next Page » Next entries »Next Page »

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources




Samba logo

We support

End software patents


GNU project


EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com

Recent Posts