The Return of SCO, a Debian Retrospective, & GNU is 30
Last I heard SCO was all but bankrupt, but apparently five years later a claim against IBM for $5 billion is still pending. Elsewhere, Bruce Byfield discusses how Debian has changed over the years and if that was for the good. In other gnews, the GNU Manifesto turns 30 this month.
It's ba-ack. I bet you thought you'd never have to hear the words SCO again, but here it is. The Salt Lake Tribune today reported that a lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City by SCO claiming $5 billion in damages from IBM. SCO filed for bankruptcy in 2007 and lost its case against Novell in 2010. This case is the last bit of business for SCO but IBM has claims against them in return as well, so this still isn't the last of SCO. I know there's a zombie metaphor here somewhere, I just can't put my finger on it.
Bruce Byfield today posted a real nice piece on The Changing Face of Debian these last fifteen years. He said back then the developers were "becoming legends" and Debian was a "major power in free software," fearless and ambitious. Enter Ubuntu and Debian's rough years, but now here on the other side, "Debian transformed itself into an upstream distribution. On Distrowatch, the top two distributions for page hits are based on Debian, with Debian itself a respectable third. In addition, 130 of the distributions listed on Distrowatch are based on Debian and its influence is stronger than ever before."
This month the Free Software Foundation and Richard Stallman will be celebrating 30 years of GNU. Stallman published his GNU Manifesto in Dr. Dobb’s Journal of Software Tools in March 1985. The New Yorker covered the occasion today quoting some of the manifesto:
[A] user who needs changes in the system will always be free to make them himself, or hire any available programmer or company to make them for him. Users will no longer be at the mercy of one programmer or company which owns the sources and is in [the] sole position to make changes." The document is also funny, in keeping with the playful traditions of early hackers. For instance, GNU (pronounced “guh-NOO," with a hard “g") is a recursive acronym, spelling out “GNU’s Not Unix."
Writer Maria Bustillos explained "the free in free software refers to freedom, not cost" which is "key to understanding Stallman's career." Bustillos spoke with Stallman on the phone who said, "Proprietary software was the norm when I started the GNU project in 1983. It was because you could no longer get a computer that you could run with free software." GNU is a set of free and Open Source tools which are still essential in the implementation of Linux, which is why many prefer the term GNU/Linux to just Linux - like Debian GNU/Linux. See Bustillos' article for much more on Stallman and GNU. Sam Varghese today added that we, the users and developers of free and Open Source software, "owe him a massive debt. He had a dream and it has come to pass."
Other interesting titles today: