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Monthly Archives: June 2008

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I usually don’t want to be the one sending out stop energy but TFA is so ridiculously crack-inspired one has to wonder if those involved are on the same planet as we are.

This seriously reminds of Douglas Adams and The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: a planet(a giant computer ran by rats) was built to find the answer to Life, The Universe, and Everything. After eons of calculations an answer was found, but none could remember what the problem was, so another planet was built to find the question that matched the solution found by the other planet. Unfortunately immediately prior to the successful completion of this project that planet was destroyed to make way for a hyperspace bypass.

Just a couple of notes in passing:

1) Differences in package management, repo structures and the tools involved in installing and removing software are the primary differentiators of Linux distributions. If this “problem” was solved, there would be remarkably little left to differentiate the distributions. And the only people interested in having such a “solution” are the one’s who already think that the LSB has already provided the answer to Life, The Universe and Everything.

2) On a superficial level there are ample opportunities for distros to reach practical consensi(pl?). XDG has been achieving this and making some nice progress for some time. These solutions do not try force distros to neuter themselves but rather to work together where there is practical benefit for all involved.

3) There will never be a single unitary package management system for Linux. Each of the various package management systems have advantages and disadvantages, each have their own problems, and each enable certain things which other systems do not. This is not merely chaos or mayhem- there is method to this madness: The organizational, social, and economic structures of the various distributions are mirrored in the particular package management systems of these distributions-in a sense, and very important sense really, these factors pre-condition each other. In other words the package management system *is* the distribution, ontologically speaking. The reasons for these differences reach into the raison d’etre of the distributions themselves-which ultimately devolves into questions of the viability of the distribution itself -whether socially, or economically.

4) Never use force to achieve what people are inclined to do anyway. With each version change in the fundamental libraries which make up the Linux ecosystem new functionality is exposed and form the basis for advances in the system itself. The individual distributions strive to take advantage of this infrastructure and utilize it for their own profit. This means that despite the rather large differences in the package management systems of the various distros that there is rather high degree of homogeneity in the version numbers of the fundamental core libraries which constitute Linux across the vast majority of distros. The differences in which actual versions are used are primarily a function of time-if the window of comparison is based on a one year time frame this homogeneity is *almost* universal, whereas if one takes 6 months as the basis there is a minor degree of diversity. Massive breaks in ABI are seldom and are surrounded by years where this is not an issue-far less often that Microsoft brings out new versions of it’s own OS.

5) the moment that any third party software mandates that my system conforms in some non-superficial way to some standard of which the distribution I am using is not part of is the moment that that software dictates which distribution I must use in order to have the priveledge of using that software. This is already the case for software like Oracle-I must use specific distributions which are endorsed by Oracle if I want to use Oracle software. Changing the distro I use for something which costs me many thousands of dollars is probably not unrealistic-but for me and the vast majority of Linux users there is no demand for extremely pricey proprietary software which would justify such. Back here, in reality, third party proprietary apps have to play ball according to our game. This does not mean that a lot cannot be done to make it easier for third party proprietary apps to integrate well within Linux-and I am all for such steps, but the LBA does not represent Linux-it represents Redhat and SUSE and to a lesser extent Debian and that’s it.

If you, as a third party propietary app developer, want to get wide scale adoption of your software in Linux then hire people who will get your software into the repos of the major distributions and provide tar balls for rest of us. Make use of the XDG tools available, target a rather actual core of main libraries (ie. not gcc-2.95) and target the infrastructure behind KDE or GNOME. If your software is enterprisy target Redhat, and SUSE(SLED) and perhaps Mandriva if you are feeling liberal-forget about the rest. If your software is for mere mortal beings target fedora, opensuse and debian/ubuntu. If you make software FOSS the community will do the work for you if your software is good enough to convince the community to support it.

If i have failed to address what the the author is looking to solve, please help me to see the problem, because I cannot find the problem which is being addressed by this solution.


Do you guys and gals remember when Richard did a short stint in a video for Sun following the announcement that Sun had decided to GPL Java ?

I can only imagine how happy Richard was on that day. He had every reason to be so. Not simply because Sun had chosen to use his license for Java-but rather because of a little bit of historical trivia that most Free Software users are too young to remember.

Now surely you know the name James Gosling. He was the one who created Java. But did you know that there is a rather interesting relationship between him and Richard ?

One of the single biggest reasons that Richard wrote the GPL and created what we now know as Free Software has everything to do with James Gosling.

In the early years (1984 to 1988), the GNU Project did not have a single license to cover all its software.  What led Stallman to the creation of this copyleft license was his experience with James Gosling, creator of NeWs and the Java programming language, and UniPress, over Emacs. While Stallman created the first Emacs in 1975, Gosling wrote the first C-based Emacs (Gosling Emacs) running on Unix in 1982. Gosling initally allowed free distribution of the Gosling Emacs source code, which Stallman used in early 1985 in the first version (15.34) of GNU Emacs.  Gosling later sold rights to Gosling Emacs to UniPress, and Gosling Emacs became UniPress Emacs.   UniPress threatened Stallman to stop distributing the Gosling source code, and Stallman was forced to comply. He later replace these parts with his own code. (Emacs version 16.56).  (See the Emacs Timeline) To prevent free code from being proprietarized in this manner in the future, Stallman invented the GPL.

Many people who are ignorant of this history have always been affronted by Stallman’s use of the phrase “Java Trap”. But is it really any wonder that Richard chose to use that expression-given what personally had transpired between him and James Gosling.

Bill Joy was the cofounder of Sun Microsystems. He is also the guy who originally wrote Vi. Bill Joy was also friends with James Gosling- and made Gosling’s baby practically synonymous with the name Sun.

This little bit of trivia adds a whole lot to all of the flamefests over the years about Emacs vs. Vi. SunOS, which we now know as OpenSolaris, was the first heavily commercialized version of what we now know as BSD. Bill Joy used the code written at Berkley to create the original SunOS.

That Java is now GPL is nothing less than Sun saying to Richard-“Richard, you were right”. And if one day OpenSolaris embraces the GPL Richard’s victory will be complete.

You may think this is nothing but propaganda-but I encourage you to actually *learn* about the history of these giants of the computer world.

Now that the OpenJDK is %100 Free, %100 GPL, Richard has received the kind of vindication that hardly *anyone* in life ever gets. Cheers to you Richard and Cheers to Sun for seeing the light.

Since I have been rambling on about this to friends for the past few days I thought it might be a good idea to actually write this stuff down.  I am probably wrong about this but future developments will be the final arbiter. Ok. What is this “this” that I am going on about ?

I think I may have stumbled on something which might turn out be a positive, if unintended, consequence of the policies of our celebrated most hated person in the world, President Baby Bush.

Right now, as we speak, there are shortages in staple foods being reported around the globe. At the same time the prices of these staple foods has been shooting through the roof causing unrest and protest in dozens of countries around the world. (note: this is *not* the positive part).

There are undoubtedly many factors which play a significant role in what is transpiring. Yet two factors seem to be almost conspiring in terms of the magnitude of these events.  Factor 1) the rising costs of oil. Factor 2) that America has diverted a large proportion of it’s argicultural production to the production of Bio-fuels.

The rise in oil prices cannot account for the shortages of staple agricultural products. And the skyrocketing price hikes for food reported around the world is only partly accountable due to increased transport costs engendered by rising oil prices. To my knowledge there have not been record crop failures which could account for such shortages.

America rose to it’s position of being the “Breadbasket of the world” during the course of 40’s, 50’s and 60’s.  For nearly 70 years America has exported more agricultural products than most of nations of the world put together. ( what would be necessary now is a statistical analysis of said exports and what percentage of agricultural exports is accounted for by other nations and trading entities(eg. Canada, EU).

Personally, I cannot think of one single policy pursued by the Bush regime which I could endorse. Yet sometimes good(TM) things happen inspite of the worst intentions and outright stupidity that one can imagine. The diversion of agricultural production for Bio-fuel production is one of Bush’s policy decisions. I won’t get into that regimes rational for this policy. But this policy decision appears to be causing shortages of staple products around the world. (note: this is *not* the good thing).

Ok. Now on to the good(TM) part. For many years I always wondered why it cost less to ship oil from various places around the world to the US than the actual cost of such transport. How can it be that the fundament of the modern global economy itself is valued a-economically, ie. that there is absolutely no discernible relation between the price of oil and the costs of drilling, processing, and distribution of said oil- and that there is no discernible relationship between the price of oil and the amount of available oil. For those of you outside of America these circumstances may not have been visibile but for Americans this has been clearly visible for the entirety of my life-oil is cheaper than bottled water and only in the past 10 years has this started to change. As a small child I remember gasoline being 25 cents a gallon(3.8 liters).  I remember how people panicked when the price went to $1 per gallon(early 1980’s). Now Americans are paying somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 per gallon. Again there are many factors which go into these prices-taxation, the relative value of the dollar etc.

One little piece of information finally managed to penetrate my thick brain this past year: Oil is only sold and purchased in US dollars. The US currency is the *sole* currency traded for oil.  Aparently this situation was instrumental in the formation of OPEC. This situation is the product of some key agreement between the US and the countries producing oil for export on the world market.

That which defines the boundaries of a system is itself not measurable within the system thus defined. If oil is the principle value of the modern global economic order, due to the fact that all other values are dependant on the value of oil itself, then oil itself, ie. its value, is not a function of this economy. Oil, the price thereof,  is the basis of the equation used in all calculations in the economy.

So what determines the price of oil ? Remeber that the availability of oil is itself dependent upon oil-ie. oil is required to distribute oil. Certainly the amount of oil in production plays some roll in the relative valuation of oil. But the value of oil is not a function of drilling, processing or distribution. The value of oil is also not a function of the amount of oil available-neither in terms of sheer existence, for noone knows what amount of oil is still in existence, or in terms of oil being at our disposal, due to the fact that oil is require to distribute oil. Welcome to negative theology 101. The value of oil is not a function of ….

Right now the speculators who determine the price of oil are panicking. We are probably only at the beginning of this-when all is said and done oil may reach $250 a barrell.  Why are they panicking ? The ways of the world market are inexplicable said the pastor as he became a manager. Of course the demand for oil is rising-China probably now has 150,000,000 automobiles-India’s demand is also rising. But why such spikes in the price of oil? why now ? Bush announced his plans to rape ANWR in order to squeeze out a few more drops of oil. Is the threat from Chavez and Co. to stop dealing oil in dollars what is triggering this panick behavior by the speculators ?

Whatever the reasons may be a couple of things become clear. The entire modern global economy has been based on two major factors: the low costs of transport(ie. the low cost of oil) and the tremendous superabundance of cheap agricultural products. These two factors made the neo-liberal global economic order possible.  It was on this basis that emmisaries from the Harvard School of Economics and the IMF/World Bank went around the world forcing nation after nation into adopting their economies to be export-oriented. Their reasoning was simple: it will cost you less if your own production is specifically targeted at the world market for we (the US) can provide you with food for far less than your farmers are capable of.

Of course these policies have been responsible for so much injustice throughout the world -cataloguing but a mere fraction of these injustices would require a multi-thousand page book. But these policies no longer work. A good(TM) thing. The two factors which previously mention colluded to make these policies economical-and surely enough major changes in one of these factors is having massive repercutions on the factor-the price of oil is skyrocketing at the same time as America is rediverting a massively large percentage of it’s agricultural production to Bio-fuel production.

The price of damned near everything is going up. The dollars is losing value at a historic rate. Noone of my generation can remember when there were such acute shortages of staple agricultural products-and this being reported around the world. Oil is far more expensive than it ever has been and in all likelihood it will never ever become less expensive again. On the whole this would seem to be major bad news for just about everyone in the world. Yet at the same time: when the superabundance of cheap agricultural products is no longer available and when the costs of transport negates the relative inexpensiveness of imported agricultural products-all those countries which have been forced into neo-liberal debt prisons are going to have to refocus their own economies for domestic consumption.  Otherwise there will be mass starvation. These countries do not need to repay their debts in order to do this. Even if America would change it’s course away from Bio-fuel production there is no returning to the unique set of circumstances which allowed for the previous neo-liberal global economic order.

Bush and his friends may have just inadvertently dealt a death blow to one of the most corrupt, oppresive and injust trade systems to have ever graced this earth.  Wow.

your thoughts ?


Karl here.