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Running Krita on a Mac using WineBottler

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Calligra Krita, developed by KO Gmbh, has finally made it onto Windows! It’s a dedicated digital painting application best used with an artist tablet, more specialized than Photoshop or GIMP, with a focus on producing digital painting, options for comic layouts and all manner of tools.

Born in the Free Software community and available initially only on Linux, its Windows port is very welcome… but leaves Mac users out in the cold.

I decided to see if I could get Krita for Windows to work on a Mac, since Macports and Homebrew do not seem to carry it in their repos, and the last version on Fink was updated for OS X 10.6.

It was mostly a success, but unfortunately I was unable to get pressure sensing from my Wacom Bamboo CTL470 in the Krita app. I’m not sure if it’s just my device that doesn’t play well with Wine or if it’s a general issue… For the record, it works fine with Krita in Windows in VirtualBox.

The following are instructions on how to get Krita to run on a Mac using WineBottler. If anybody could determine what the final missing piece is, I’d be very appreciative! Read more

The Kingdom of Prosol and the Village of Fresol

A little allegorical tale about Proprietary, Free and Open Source :-)

If you’re looking for a tale to introduce the concept of freedom of software to younger generations, or people who just “don’t get computers,” take this one and run (with) it :-)

I’ve tried to maintain as many parallels as possible to the story of Free Software, for the fun of it, but also to be able to enable points of discussion. I’ve deliberately kept to generic characters and actions so as to remain general, and allowing anyone else to build upon the story. On that note…

Unlike a bard of olde, I have at my disposal two extra tools: the Internet, and Copyright Law. Regarding the latter:

I release this text under the Creative Commons License 4.0 Attribution-ShareAlike

You may copy, adapt and redistribute the work, even commercially, PROVIDED you grant this same license to the derivative work.

You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.

See https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/

Read more

RedHat’s EULA restrictions and the GPLv2

I’ve been trying to figure out whether RedHat’s restrictions of redistribution of their binary has legal basis (I’m pretty sure it does, it’s an elephant in the proverbial room), but I wanted to be sure, know it as fact.

I’ve been poring over the GPLv2 that many have been using, including RedHat, as well as the GPLv3 which is the latest as of the time of writing, trying to figure this one out since nobody seems to have published anything clear on the matter.

RedHat’s EULA (end user license agreement) reads:

WHILE THIS LICENSE AGREEMENT ALLOWS YOU TO COPY, MODIFY AND DISTRIBUTE THE SOFTWARE, IT DOES NOT PERMIT YOU TO DISTRIBUTE THE SOFTWARE UTILIZING RED HAT’S TRADEMARKS

This is a point of contention that has been raised many times – searching “redhat gpl violation” brings up a number of locations in which community members have claimed that RedHat violates GPLv2 by imposing this additional “clever” restriction.

Read more

Why replace Windows with Linux?

There are important things to consider before undertaking the task of replacing Windows with Linux, which will save you time and energy further down the line.

Are you a technical user yourself?

If so, I’m assuming you’re doing this for yourself – great! I’m sure you are as excited as the next Linux geek to be doing this, and that you’ve thought out your own reasons. Far from me to stop you.

Are you a non-technical user?

If you are looking to make the jump from Windows to Linux, may I firstly say, congratulations on the choice! Secondly, however, please note a few of things beforehand:

  • Linux is not Windows. Normally, you cannot run exactly the same programs you did as you used under Windows – namely the most popular Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop and Internet Explorer, or any other software intended for Windows only.
  • Linux does however provide some tools to try and force Windows applications to run, but it’s not foolproof – Internet Explorer can be made to run, and some have had success getting Microsoft Office to be usable. Adobe Suite has proven problematic.
  • The best thing to do, however, is to use their Free Software equivalents: LibreOffice in lieu of MS Office (note that LibreOffice is available for WIndows too!), Firefox in lieu of Internet Explorer; and the GNU Image Manipulation Program (aka The GIMP) in lieu of Photoshop.
  • There are myriad other programs, readily and Freely available to you on secure online software repositories, accessible straight from your computer’s software manager. Some of them, like LibreOffice, are available to you on Windows too, but most are Linux-only!
  • You may want to have a technically savvy person help you during your switch over time, as you will doubtless have many questions. Having a helping hand is always beneficial, and migrating incorrectly might cause you to loose data. Again, Linux is not Windows, and whilst it should be easy for you to use once installed, you need to have a lengthy talk about what the differences actually are.

Are you migrating a non-technical user?

Here be dragons. Before you migrate them, you have to absolutely clear that

  • they will not be getting Windows. Even with Wine, programs they used under Windows will not always run perfectly
  • they will be getting a whole new system, that runs a ton of other programs, some of which very similar to the Windows programs they’re used to

Also, this is a conversation to have at length with them – not something to be telling them as you insert the installer DVD into the drive. It will be such a change for them that it’ll be as strenuous a decision as to whether to move homes – minus the money, but with all other practical considerations, in terms of change.

Remember also that with non-rolling releases, you will need to reinstall the OS from time to time, so ongoing maintenance is to be considered. Most pertinently, make sure you do separate the /home directory to a new partition.

What about Mac OS X?

Apple are a tricky bunch. They’re making sure nobody other than them can fully support an alternative OS on the machines they build, so at the current point in time, switching a Mac to Linux is a bit more involved… Read more

Ubuntu Community Council Still Vague About Derivatives’ Licensing

A few months back, Clément Lefebvre of the Linux Mint project hinted at ongoing discussions about licensing access to binaries from Canonical – and a lot of speculation arose around this, but beyond Clem’s initial statement, and DistroWatch’s Jessie Smith’s insight, we haven’t heard anything official until Thursday 13th Feb, when the Ubuntu Community Council issued a statement on the matter:

http://fridge.ubuntu.com/2014/02/13/community-council-statement-on-canonical-package-licensing/

(For those who are confused about how binaries might be withheld when source code is free: see my notes lower down.)

KDE and Kubuntu blogger and developer Jonathan Riddell posted a piece stating that no derivatives of Kubuntu would need to pay a license: http://blogs.kde.org/2014/02/14/no-licence-needed-kubuntu-derivative-distributions

At the same time Silviu Stahie posts on Softpedia an article stating that derivatives do have to pay: http://news.softpedia.com/news/Canonical-Explains-Why-Linux-Mint-and-All-Other-Distros-Must-Sign-a-License-Agreement-426770.shtml

Confused by this, I went and read the council’s statement, and found that the meat of the text is in only a couple of sentences:

“Canonical already provides a license for the use of these [trademarks] to the Ubuntu project and all of its distributions, including Ubuntu itself as well as those flavors that are developed in collaboration with it.”

So far so good: a trademark license agreement is in place at Canonical, and the official distro and all the official derivatives are granted it.

“We believe there is no ill-will against Linux Mint, from either the Ubuntu community or Canonical and that Canonical does not intend to prevent them from continuing their work, and that this license is to help ensure that. What Linux Mint does is appreciated, and we want to see them succeed.”

And this part simply says that they appreciate what the Mint project is doing. Nowhere does it say that Mint has been granted license of the binaries, nor does it say license is being revoked or granted, nor that payment is being demanded at all, nor whether they are foregoing the idea of fees.

In essence, the communication says nothing decisive – only that a license regarding trademarks exists, and that it needs to be granted, but not whether payment must be made. It doesn’t even say whether any agreement has been reached.

The way I read it, it’s a call to the community to say “tone down your nattering whilst we sort this out, and stop making assumptions about what we’re thinking before we even have a chance to say something. Give us time to agree amongst ourselves first.” Too many cooks and all that.

If Canoncial did decide to charge licensing, would this request be legal?

Regardless of the trademarks (which I don’t think are surreptitiously disseminated amongst the packes in the repos, that’s just “conspiracy theory” as far as I can tell), the question remains for many as to whether Canonical even has the right to require payment.

The GPL and similar licenses require the source code of a program to be provided, but does not prevent anyone from selling their compiled binary. A purchaser of the binary can then go on to distribute this to others free of charge (providing they have the corresponding source code too) – so even if a derivative were made to pay a license fee to its parent distro, it could subsequently re-distribute the binary to users for free.

Alternatively, it could simply take the Free source and compile and host it in their own repository, but that is costly in both time and hardware, so it’s handy for all the derivatives to be able to use Canonical’s repos directly.

If Canonical were to decide to request payment for accessing their binaries directly from their servers (a service) even while the sources of the software are Free, that could undermine the derivate projects, if only for a while, until a Ubuntu-compatible independent repo were created, that is, a repo which took the sources and repacked them for Ubuntu-based distros.

But from a binary-licensing standpoint, I see no legal issue in Canonical doing this. Let;s see how it all plays out.

Read more in the GNU GPL FAQ.

Choosing your GNU/Linux Distro

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Most of the time, the differences between one distro and another aren’t so important – most distros work the same as one another, which we are swift to be reminded of when asking “what’s the best distro for beginners?”

But what about drilling deeper into that question and instead asking, “what are the key differentiating factors between desktop distros?”

Here’s the list of things I consider, when deciding whether to take the time to download and install, or recommend, a distro.

This post aims to answer the questions:

  • What’s the best distro for new Linux users?
  • How do I know what Linux distro is right for me?
  • What are the main differences between Linux distros?
  • What Linux distros are backed by companies?

Read more

First look at Manjaro

Currently I’m having a go in a VM at Manjaro, a distribution based on Arch Linux.

There are a few things that make the Arch family particularly awesome, and a few things that make it quite daunting, but it’s really looking promising…. the following notes serve to document what I’ve learnt so far.

I’m using the 0.8.8 install release, 32-bit with Xfce in VirtualBox (the KDE ISO results in a blank/black screen after boot into LiveCD, both driver modes. Mouse visible and still possible to switch to tty terminals. Couldn’t be bothered troubleshooting yet). Read more

Drivers in Linux: ndiswrapper and the demise of Windows XP

With the impending demise of Windows XP (even though it has recently been announced that XP will now continue to receive updates until July 2015), the prime time for migrating casual Windows users to Linux is nigh.

However, one crucial aspect remains: driver support.

Some will be swift to point out that in-kernel driver support has come leaps and bounds lately, and most things just work “out of the box.” Unfortunately, that is not sufficient in the Real World. Read more

Resource Forks, large files, and FAT32 – and still no cross-platofrm standard

Here are a few things I learned in a recent experiment in backing up, erasing, and restoring a Mac.

  1. Use HFS to back up from Mac to Mac (to preserve idiosyncratic Mac structures like the ResourceFork)
  2. If you want to allow access to the backup in other operating systems use FAT32 (the only file system which Mac/Win/Linux can all read AND write to)
  3. But you will lose the following:
    1. any file larger than 4 GB (hard limit on FAT32 filesystem)
    2. you will lose anything that relied on the presence of a ResourceFork in the file.

Read more

The Surf

I was reading an article on why DRM has always been a bad idea, with mounting evidence to show it when the following came to mind:

Spread out your arms to stop the waves
From crashing into your lovely little sand castle
And be vanquished by its might

Or swim out into the unknown waters
Tussle with the ever changing unmarked currents
Fight to stay afloat in these tides

And then turn shorewards once more
Rush in with the swell and the implacable force of nature
Ride in on a wave of victory

Voila.