The long march of Affero GPLv3

It’s good to read on Palamida weekly reports that the GNU Afferto GPLv3 is being adopted at a fast pace, after I asked OSI to approve it. Considering that Google is passively opposing its adoption, I think that 95 projects is a good start. Now Funambol is in company of other high quality projects, like Clipperz and Wavemaker and with SourceForge supporting the Affero license, I think that there will be more. I’ve just updated the Trove category for the Funambol-related projects, where I could, but I advice other maintainers to do the same with their projects (and then move to the new Funambol Forge, which has cooler features than SF 🙂 ).

I have the suspect that this is just the beginning and that AGPL will become as popular as the other two FSF licenses, the GPL and LGPL.

Legacy is good, but change can be hard

The new Funambol Forge opened registration to new members. It’s based on Collabnet, as other big free software projects like OpenOffice.org, NetBeans.org, java.net and eBay Dev. I feel comfortable and in good company 🙂

Funambol has a very big community with lots of people that contributed to the project over its many years of life. Its legacy is vast, made of 3 mailing lists spread in 2 SourceForge projects and one Yahoo! Group, one main project on OW2, many other contributed projects in the most disparate places (SF, GCode, self hosted), web pages of the free/libre version on the .com site and much more. All this deserves to be in one place. In a binary world things should be easy: move from point A to point B, delete duplicates and you’re done. But real life is harder because of one commandment of community management:

thou shalt not upset your community members

Changing a website can be very upsetting. You must give your users a good reason to change because it’s not just a matter of updating bookmarks. Your community members will have to register into a new system, change their habits, learn a new user interface, adapt their email filters.

I believe that the new discussion services on Collabnet are a fairly good reason, as will be the use of subversion (expected in July). Be delicate, be gentle and involve your community in the process.

Three projects have already decided to move in the new Forge: the SoGO Connector, the Google Connector and the Jajah Connector have a new house. I hope that more will join us in the next weeks.

The next step in desktop innovation

14032008(005)A better filesystem and a better user interface. Haiku filesystem goes in the right direction (read the interview to Kevin Musick, BeServed author). I happily read als that the Sugar UI will be developed also for other hardware that is not OLPC, which is good. I had the chance to play with a XO laptop and I loved it, even though the machine is slow (it was an early prototype from the AMD Italy folks).

Then there is ITSME, for which I hope to see soon something. There is lots to be done.

Take the mailing list archives with you

I realized that it’s true what they say about email clients: they all suck. Some suck less, some (the majority) suck more than a Dyson vacuum cleaner.’  Mailing list archives are important for communities because they represent their collective knowledge. Having all archives all in one place is definitely better than having to redirect people to google search to find answers or tips.

I had to redirect a few thousands email messages from a mailbox archive to the new Funambol Forge discussion system.’  Evolution allows redirect as does also Mail.app, so I thought it would have been banal: CTRL-a to select all messages, menu / redirect and that’s it. Wrong: both applications cannot apply the command to more than one message at the time.’  Scripting the action seemed too much work, so I reverted to using mutt, the email client that sucks less (as its motto says). Load the mailbox (mutt -f mail.box) select/tag all messages (hit the key T), apply the command to all tagged messages (hit the keys ;b), write the destination address and wait for smtp to do its job. After a couple of hours the postfix server was done. The past archives of Funambol mailing lists are in the archive of the new Forge. Great: the new discussions are ready to roll, on Monday.

GNU/Linux IS ready for the masses

It just needs a company that can market it as such. I was reading about the new version of Asus EeePC and this sentence hit me:

“the Linux version is suited to users who desire an icon-driven and easy point-and-click interface — well suited for children or users with limited computer experience”

If Asus says so, you have to believe it.

China doesn’t do NATO phonetic alphabet

I’m going to Shangai next month for the “Doing Business In” class in my MBA course. It’s going to be my first full immersion in Asia and I’m very happy. I’ll be spending some more days of vacation after the classes at Shangai’s Tongji Business School.

The Chinese consulate wants the confirmation of the hotel booking on official paper of the hotel (the printed email is not enough), so this morning I had to call China. Spelling my name on the phone was my first cultural experience. With “westerners” I end up using the NATO phonetic alphabet, with 100% success rate so far. Unfortunately the lady on the phone, who spoke very good English, didn’t know NATO phonetics (doh! why was this a surprise?) and the Fs were quite difficult for her to grasp. It’s going to be a very fun trip.

My income online: it’s bad management

I’ve read many comments about the publication of income tax reports by Italian government, the last act of past government. I don’t know if giving my income statement to my neighbors (and to the rest of the world) is good or bad. What really made me angry was the justification by former minister, Visco. He said “it’s a matter of transparency”. Right, this country needs transparency but why is it always the citizens that have to be transparent while the government can be opaque? Where are the 10 millions? How come nobody can know why italia.it costed so much? Or, saying it with the WSJ: why does the state need to consume 48% of the country’s GDP?

Italians are not used to be transparent, the national culture is of suspect and jealousy. If you want to change that you need to educate and, most importantly, give examples. You can’t imagine that simply passing a law and pushing it down the citizens’ throat will do anything but make everybody angry. That’s bad management, awful, more than an issue of privacy. Cultural changes need strong leadership, a clear path to follow and examples. Do you still wonder why past government lasted only 2 years and its parties were wiped out of the Parliament at last elections?

Datamining apache logs with NeoOffice

As Funambol community manager, one of my duties is to know such community. It sounds simple, but since lots of software is involved to gather this knowledge things get less simple. I need to dive into apache logs and I decided to use my good old friend Postgresql. If I could, I would put everything in a database 🙂 The problem is that I also need to rapidly prototype reports to transform data into information for the board. To start navigating the data, I first followed this nice tutorial to load apache logs in PostgreSQL. Connecting the database to NeoOffice was more difficult, mainly because there is no native PostgreSQL driver in NeoOffice and PSQL JDBC page is confusing. Anyway, after trial and error, I found out that on Leopard OS X 10.5 you need JDBC3 for your PSQL version 8.3 (I used the dmg packages). To install the driver I followed the instructions provided here. Now I can start diving in the logs and prepare some reports. The board will be happy soon and I’m glad I’m on my way to better knowledge of this community too.